True North Initiative News Scan 11 06 2017


Ex Guantanamo captive to sue Canada for $50 million

An Algerian man is set to sue the federal government for the abuses he says he suffered at the hands of American security forces after he left Canada 15 years ago. The unproven allegations by Djamel Ameziane, who was never charged or prosecuted, raise further questions about Canada’s complicity in the abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay — a topic his lawyer said demands a full-scale public inquiry. “My current situation is really bad, I am struggling to survive,” Ameziane, 50, said from near Algiers. “I was repatriated from Guantanamo and left like almost homeless. I couldn’t find a job because of the Guantanamo stigma and my age, so a settlement would be very helpful to me to get my life back together.” (Macleans) (Toronto Sun) (CTV)

Justin Trudeau's close adviser helped move huge sums offshore

The chief fundraiser and senior adviser to the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who played a critical role in the rise to power of the charismatic politician, was involved in the movement of millions of dollars to offshore havens, the Paradise Papers reveal. Stephen Bronfman, heir to the Seagram fortune, who was instrumental in Trudeau’s successful bid for the leadership of the Canadian Liberal party in 2013 and the premiership two years later, engaged through his family investment business in a complex web of entities in the US, Israel and the Cayman Islands. Multimillion-dollar cashflows between the three jurisdictions might legally have avoided taxes in the US, Canada and Israel. (Guardian) (Toronto Star)             

Immigration minister dismisses Trump security concerns over newcomers

Immigration, Citizenship, and Refugees Minister Ahmed Hussen is dismissing American-style security concerns over immigration, putting Canada’s new plan to bring in nearly a million newcomers over the next three years in stark contrast with the recent U.S. clampdown under Donald Trump. Hussen called Canada a "world leader" in settling and integrating immigrants, and said despite security concerns raised by some -- including Trump -- it’s possible to increase immigration while mitigating potential security concerns. (CTV)

300,000 Central American and Haitian Immigrants May Soon Face Deportation from the US

The State Department has told Homeland Security officials that more than 300,000 Central American and Haitian immigrants should no longer be protected from deportation, according to the Washington Post. The immigrants, most of whom entered the country illegally, are currently shielded under the Temporary Protected Status program, which gives them temporary permission to live and work in the U.S. instead of being returned to countries that are deemed unsafe after facing natural disaster, armed conflict, or other emergency situations. (NY Mag) (Daily Caller) (Newsweek)

Canada slaps sanctions on 52 people in Russia, Venezuela and South Sudan

Canada is taking aim at corruption and rights abuses in Russia, Venezuela and South Sudan by imposing targeted sanctions on 52 individuals, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. It is the first use of the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the so-called Magnitsky law which won final approval in Parliament two weeks ago. The law allows for sanctions against individuals who the federal government holds responsible for, or complicit in, gross violations of internationally recognized human rights or acts of significant corruption. (Toronto Star)

26 killed after man opens fire in Texas church

A man dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding at least 16 others in what the governor called the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history. The dead ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. Authorities didn’t identify the attacker during a news conference Sunday night, but two other officials — one a U.S. official and one in law enforcement — identified him as Devin Kelley. They spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation (Toronto Sun) (ABC) (Daily Mail)

Tough new FGM penalties in U.S.: 'They are not doctors. They are butchers'

Slamming female genital mutilation as a “grotesque, barbaric practice” the United States is moving to triple penalties for people convicted of performing the sickening procedure. The U.S.  House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill sponsored by Michigan Republican Dave Trott that would raise penalties from five years in prison to 15. The bill was triggered when federal charges were filed in Detroit involving two doctors who are accused of performing the procedure on two 7-year-old girls. They are suspected of cutting up to 100 girls. (Toronto Sun)

Graffiti messages about Islam popping up in Windsor

On Saturday more graffiti was spotted on the paved walkways throughout Malden Park and on the downtown Riverfront trail. The messages say “#Islam Will Rule The World Hosea 4.6, #57 Muslim Nations, #Sharia Over the U.N.” They are all written in red spray paint and appear to have the same handwriting. (Windsor Star)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Scheer blasts Trudeau for supporting Governor General after 'divine intervention' comment

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for praising Gov. Gen. Julie Payette in the wake of Payette's suggestion that "divine intervention" did not play a role in the creation of life on Earth. "It is extremely disappointing that the prime minister will not support Indigenous peoples, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Christians and other faith groups who believe there is truth in their religion," Scheer said in a statement posted to Facebook. (CBC)

Parents of children hit by security problems urge independent no-fly-list system

Parents with children whose names closely match those on the country's no-fly list will be on Parliament Hill on Monday with signed letters from 176 MPs and a petition from 25 prominent Canadians, urging Finance Minister Bill Morneau to fund a passenger-redress system in the coming budget. The redress campaign, which uses the hashtag #NoFlyListKids, has endorsements of 17 cabinet ministers and 124 Liberal MPs, as well as the backing of the Conservative, NDP and Green parties. None of the 17 ministers, except Immigration Minister Immigration Ahmed Hussen, were willing to publicly release their letters to Mr. Morneau. (Globe and Mail)

Blue-chip law firm Appleby explored connecting tax haven to Halifax, leaked documents show

It was to be a little tax haven in Nova Scotia. The idea was simple: the companies would be registered in Bermuda but the people processing the paperwork would be in Halifax. Appleby, the leading offshore law firm in the Paradise Papers leak, explored this vision for outsourcing its back office administrative functions in 2007. With direct Bermuda-to-Halifax flights, “very reasonable operating costs” and “very significant payroll tax rebates,” the case for Halifax was strong. (Toronto Star)

Paradise Papers: CRA vows to crack down on offshore tax evasion by wealthy Canadians

The Canada Revenue Agency says it won’t hesitate to investigate new evidence of offshore tax evasion in the wake of a second massive leak of tax haven financial records. The leak of some 13.4 million records, dubbed the Paradise Papers, lifts another veil on the often murky ways in which the wealthy – including more than 3,000 Canadian individuals and entities – stash their money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. (Global)

Latest Shared Services Canada outages disrupt border traffic

A border-security computer system has been crashing repeatedly, disrupting truck traffic into Canada, in the latest technical foul-up by Shared Services Canada, the beleaguered federal IT agency. The so-called Advance Commercial Information (ACI) system, which requires all truckers to transmit digital information about their imports before arriving at the border, has suffered more than 200 outages since 2015, CBC News has learned. (CBC)

Manus refugee who reached Canada last week says deaths are 'very likely'

A refugee who was detained on Manus Island has left to begin a new life in Canada, through a group of private citizens who sponsored his freedom. Amir Taghinia, a refugee from Iran, flew to Coquitlam, British Columbia last week, after nearly four years on Manus Island. “To be honest, I cannot believe I am in Canada, I am so thankful,” Taghinia told the Guardian. “But I cannot forget about my friends, they are starving, they have no water to drink. It is very, very likely we will have more deaths in the next coming days.” (Guardian)

Quebec’s small-town jobs boom needs big-city immigrant workers

Every Sunday, two vans pick up labourers from Montreal for a four-hour journey northeast to small towns near the border with Maine. There, they work at factories for the week, stay in accommodation partly paid by their employer, and return to Quebec’s largest city on Friday. (BNN)

Valérie Plante elected mayor of Montreal, beating out Denis Coderre

Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal has been elected mayor of Montreal, scoring a stunning upset over veteran politician Denis Coderre in Sunday's municipal election. Plante, 43, won over voters on a promise to improve public transit (including a new Metro line), alleviate traffic woes and make the city more family friendly. She becomes the first woman to be elected mayor of Montreal. (CBC)

After Syria initiative, UN looks to Canada as a refugee haven

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will ask Ottawa to consider a special program to bring in more refugees similar to the Syria initiative of two years ago when he meets the Prime Minister on Monday. But this time, rather than concentrating on one hot spot, UNHCR Filippo Grandi will suggest to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Canada take on an expanded effort to bring in especially vulnerable groups, such as women. (Globe and Mail)

Funding uncertainty could stall LGBT refugee resettlement, advocates say

The Liberal government says it's committed to bringing more LGBT refugees to Canada, but advocates say funding uncertainty, lengthy processing and lack of specialized training for visa officers are threatening resettlement efforts. Next year, Canada will bring in about 43,000 refugees, among them lesbian, gay, transgender and other people facing persecution based on sexual orientation. (CBC)

Canada's special envoy to Myanmar lands in Bangladesh

Canada’s new special envoy to Myanmar has arrived in the south of Bangladesh for a firsthand look at the conditions facing Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar. Bob Rae, the former Ontario premier and interim leader of the federal Liberal party, met with officials in the city of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on Friday to learn more about the refugee crisis. CTV News’ Daniele Hamamdjian has been touring with the newly-appointed envoy and told CTV News Channel that he spent much of the day in meetings where he was given information about the challenges facing Bangladesh as it tries to cope with the swelling refugee population. (CTV)

Saudi prince killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border

A senior Saudi prince and seven other officials have been killed in a helicopter crash near the country's border with Yemen, state media report. Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the deputy governor of Asir province, was returning from an inspection tour when his aircraft came down near Abha late on Sunday, the interior ministry said. (BBC)

Future Saudi king tightens grip on power with arrests including Prince Alwaleed

Saudi Arabia’s future king has tightened his grip on power through an anti-corruption purge by arresting royals, ministers and investors including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal who is one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen. (Reuters)

Rand Paul has rib fractures, lung contusions after apparent assault

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has five rib fractures and lung contusions as a result of an apparent assault Friday by a neighbor at Paul's home in Bowling Green, a spokesman for Kentucky's junior senator said Sunday. Senior adviser Doug Stafford said Paul's injuries cause pain that could persist for weeks, perhaps even months, but that the Republican plans to return to the U.S. Senate soon. (BG Daily News) (Daily Mail)

Pets on the Menu as Venezuelans Starve

In a country that once was rich, but where people are beginning to starve, few animals are safe. One morning in August at the metropolitan zoo in the torrid city of Maracaibo, workers were shocked to find the bones of a buffalo and some wild pigs inside their cages with clear signs of mutilation. Thieves allegedly stole the meat to eat what they could and sell the rest on the local market. (Daily Beast)

Teenage Girls Turn to Prostitution to Fight Starvation

Growing numbers of young girls in Venezuela are selling their bodies for sex in exchange for food as the crisis-stricken country’s humanitarian crisis continues to worsen. A report from the American Spanish-language channel Telemundo recounts a 13-year-old girl’s experience of the sex trade. (Breitbart)



Candice Malcolm: Trudeau needs to get serious on NAFTA

Justin Trudeau took the opportunity on Halloween to dawn his favourite Clark Kent costume and flash a Superman logo while walking through the House of Commons.  Not surprisingly, the mainstream media swooned over Trudeau’s antics. “It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Justin Trudeau!” read near-identical social media posts from Global News and the Toronto Star. It’s bad enough that we have a Prime Minister who prefers to play dress up than to face the important issues of the day: Islamist terrorism, burgeoning debt, threats to national unity, and the grim ethical issues and conflicts within his own government. Do we really need journalists cheering him on? (Toronto Sun)

Rex Murphy: Governor General appoints herself umpire of questions of faith and science

Delight in one’s own intellectual capacity is a delusion both frequent and foolish, and the desire to have others share in that rapture is almost always a disappointment. That we are all partisans for our own opinions is of course a truism, as is the consideration that opinions, particularly political ones, many times follow just as much from temperament as from reason. There is no Ideal Reasoner, and the truth of some questions is always a quarry and never a capture. That is why our finest sages, present and past, have always counselled against certitude, and cautioned that when we are most certain of something is precisely the time we should go over our sums. (National Post)

Robyn Urback: In what universe is it appropriate for a Governor General to deride people for their beliefs?

This is not a column about whether climate change is real. Or whether human actions have accelerated the rate of that change. (For the record, my views are "it is" and "they have," but that doesn't really matter.) It is also not a column about whether there is merit to the notion that Geminis are exceptionally quick-witted and sociable, or whether life was created by a divine intervention. (On these, my views are "what?" and "how much time do you have…?" Again, for the purposes of this column, it doesn't matter.) (CBC)

Anthony Furey: If they can take down Trump’s social media, you better believe they can do it to you

On Thursday President Donald Trump’s Twitter account temporarily went down. Gone. Vanished. Try to find it, you couldn’t. The social media platform first issued a statement explaining it was “inadvertently deactivated due to human error by a Twitter employee” and that they were investigating. (Toronto Sun)

Toronto Sun: Will Morneau ever apologize?

Canadians reacted with understandable cynicism after learning that embattled finance minister Bill Morneau had been fined by the ethics commissioner’s office… a not-so-whopping $200. An Andy Donato cartoon showed Morneau on the phone with his wife, lamenting that they were now so hard-up they’d have to eat fast food. (Toronto Sun)

Sukanya Pillay: It was Canada's sloppy counter-terrorism that led to $31M payout

Recent news that the federal government settled for $31.25 million with three Canadian men falsely accused of terrorist links, imprisoned, and tortured overseas, was met with some public backlash. Social media comments include variations on “waste of taxpayer money,” “wouldn’t mind a little torture for $10 million,” or “why should Canada pay for a foreign country’s actions?” (Ottawa Citizen)

Qamar-Ul Huda: To confront terrorism's core, don't neglect counter-extremism policies

Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbek native suspected of killing eight innocent civilians in New York City with a vehicle, was said to be an ISIS sympathizer who conducted the deadly act as a lone wolf. New York City Police Deputy Chief Commissioner John Miller said, “He did this in the name of ISIS and along with other items recovered at the scene were some notes that indicate that.” Other than saying that some of the items had "Arabic writing," Miller did not go into any detail, nor did he say how Saipov went undetected by law enforcement, or what process turned Saipov into a lone wolf violent extremist inspired by the Islamic State's ideology. (The Hill)

Allan Richarz: How Trudeau helps the Saudis' scheme to sideline Canadian oil

With the pain of rock-bottom oil prices leaving producers increasingly desperate, Saudi Arabia this week agreed in principle with Russia, to freeze oil output at January levels ― essentially paying lip service to the notion of price stabilization, given that January’s oil output was near a record high. Riyadh’s tepidness towards shoring up oil prices raises a question: Why are the Saudis — long the champion of higher oil prices — content to continue the trend of plentiful, cheap oil exports? (Financial Post)

Jim Warren: The numbers show we need increased immigration

The federal Liberal government has announced a new and bold immigration strategy to increase the number of immigrants allowed into Canada over the next three years. One million new immigrants will be admitted during that time. That is actually a modest increase over the 300,000 allowed in 2017 and well under the 450,000 per year recommended by the government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth. (Toronto Sun)

Douglas Todd: Reducing immigration to protect culture not seen as racist by most

Few topics can combine to ignite such anger, contempt and division. It was not always this way. The belief that it is racist to want to reduce immigration has only been a significant viewpoint since the 1960s for some in the West. It’s still not a common belief among people in Asia. A Vancouver-raised demographer has discovered that people of good will, across nations, use the word racism differently. Their disagreement over the meaning has lead to often-bitter, possibly unnecessary, polarization. (Vancouver Sun)

Rafia Zakaria: Canada's hypocritical 'feminist' foreign policy

"I am definitely here to push my feminist agenda," Canadian Minister for International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau declared to a journalist at the World Bank meetings held in Washington, DC at the end of October. Bibeau was talking about Canada's much-touted and widely feted "feminist international assistance" policy. Announced earlier this year, the policy has been described by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland as "a matter of basic justice and basic economics". Under its stipulations, Canada will direct over 95 percent of its development budget towards the task of "empowering women," in turn making "families and countries more prosperous". (Al Jazeera)

Adnan Khan: How the fight to defeat ISIS sparked a new battle in Iraq

In the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 20, convoys of armoured vehicles, some of them belonging to the Iraqi army, others to Iranian-backed Shia militias, converged on Altun Kopri, a town straddling the banks of the Little Zab River in northern Iraq, less than 50 km south of the Kurdistan Region’s capital, Erbil. The Iraqis, armed with U.S.-supplied weapons including M1A1 Abrams tanks, artillery pieces, mortars and assault rifles, were a formidable force. Less than two weeks earlier, they had delivered a death blow to the so-called Islamic State’s presence in Iraq, routing its fighters from its last major stronghold in Hawija. (Macleans)

Stephen Kotkin: Communism’s Bloody Century

A century ago this week, communism took over the Russian empire, the world’s largest state at the time. Leftist movements of various sorts had been common in European politics long before the revolution of Oct. 25, 1917 (which became Nov. 7 in the reformed Russian calendar), but Vladimir Lenin and his Bolsheviks were different. They were not merely fanatical in their convictions but flexible in their tactics—and fortunate in their opponents. (WSJ)



-       Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration meet later today to study M-39: Immigration to Atlantic Canada

-       Standing Committee on National Defence meet today to discuss Canada’s involvement in NATO