True North Initiative News Scan 12 08 2017


Fiery exchange erupts in Ottawa over reports citizenship guide for immigrants may be changed

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen won't say whether the government will keep a warning against female genital mutilation in a revamped study guide for the Canadian citizenship exam. During a House of Commons committee meeting Thursday, Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel grilled Mr. Hussen on a Canadian Press report earlier this year that said the reference to female genital mutilation (FGM) had been removed from a leaked draft of the new citizenship guide. The document, known as the Discover Canada guide, is currently being rewritten by the government. (Globe and Mail)

Hussen won’t commit to keeping warning about genital mutilation in immigration guide

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen would not commit Thursday to ensuring that female genital mutilation is described as a crime in Canada’s revised citizenship guide. In an uncomfortable exchange with Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel at a Commons immigration committee meeting this morning, Rempel pressed Hussen to say whether the government will list the practice as a crime in the citizenship guide. (IPolitics)

'Sometimes I can't drink or eat': Syrian refugee living in B.C. faces $10K dental bill

Canadian newcomer Asmaa Al-baaj never imagined she'd be facing a $10,000 dental bill in her new home. About a year ago, Al-baaj arrived in Nanaimo, B.C., from Syria with her husband and five kids, ranging in age from six to 17. Al-baaj is often in pain from her cracked teeth and needs significant dental work. As a government-sponsored refugee, she is eligible for limited publicly funded dental care, but she needs far more than the basic checkup and extractions this covers. (CBC)

Conservatives won't say whether or not Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel's capital

After a day of silence, the Conservative Party confirmed Thursday it’s not ready to definitively say whether or not Canada should recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Foreign critic Erin O’Toole said he condemns statements from Palestinian leaders “almost encouraging violence,” but Tories want to be “very deliberate and cautious” about a decision on how to move forward. (National Post)

Public servant ranks grow by thousands under Trudeau, reversing Harper’s trend

The ranks of the public service are increasing under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, new data released Thursday reveals. The number of public servants hit 262,696 in 2017, according to the Treasury Board of Canada. That’s an increase of 3,717 from last year’s figure. It also reveals the beginning of a trend. This marks the second full year the Liberals have presided over, both years seeing modest increases in the public service ranks. It is not, however, the record total, which was 282,980 in 2010. (Toronto Sun)

Border screening bill escapes sweeping amendments in Senate

A contentious Liberal bill that would give U.S. border agents authority to conduct extreme pre-screening of people and goods going from Canada into the U.S. won overwhelming support in one of its final tests in the Senate today. A combination of Independent and Conservative senators overwhelmingly rejected amendments centring on the constitutional rights of Canadian citizens in a decisive 59-16 vote Thursday. (IPolitics)


Toronto police are investigating a complaint alleging that a music video played at last summer’s Al-Quds Day rally glorified violence against Jews. According to published reports, the video featured the song Declare it a Popular Revolution. The whole incident was monitored by the American Center for Democracy (ACD), a New York-based group “dedicated to exposing and monitoring the enemies of freedom and democracy.” (CJ News)

Panic drove actions of couple, Crown says in closing argument of terror trial

Lyne Décarie was in the second day of her closing arguments at the Montreal courthouse when she highlighted text messages and internet searches the Montrealers made in April 2015 immediately after the RCMP interviewed Djermane and just before both were arrested. The RCMP was investigating concerns, expressed by Djermane’s family, that she and Jamali were planning to leave Montreal to join ISIL in the terrorist group’s effort to create an Islamic state. (Montreal Gazette)

Trudeau, returning from China, faces pressure to fight for political prisoners with links to Canada

On the heels of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to China Thursday, an all-party group was urging the government to step up its interventions for political prisoners in human rights-abusing countries. Lawyer and former Liberal member of parliament Irwin Cotler convened the group on the fourth anniversary of former South African leader Nelson Mandela’s death. (National Post)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Justin Trudeau searches in vain for new free-trade partners

Canada’s prime minister, set off for China on December 2nd amid speculation that the two countries would start free-trade talks. Canada needs new markets because the United States is turning inward. China wants to gain better access to Canada’s commodities and technology and to set a precedent for talks with other G7 countries. Although they have been talking about trade for more than a year, Mr Trudeau will return with no agreement to start negotiations. (Economist)

Liberals to push for gender equality during Canada’s turn at helm of G7 summit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is bringing his feminism to the G7 summit next year, which could involve stirring up the issue of sexual and reproductive health rights at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is far from being on the same page. The Liberal government is planning to make gender equality a major, overarching theme of its G7 presidency, which includes hosting the gathering of world leaders next June at a resort in La Malbaie, Que. (IPolitics)

Senate not in rush to pass airline passenger-rights bill despite Liberal frustration

The Liberal government is expressing frustration with the Senate for delays in pushing through legislation that would give airline passengers more rights, but senators say they won't be rushed into rubber-stamping the bill. The Trudeau government's Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, sets out, among other things, national standards for the treatment of air passengers in Canada. (Globe and Mail)

Canadian vets have 'significantly higher risk' of suicide than general public: federal study

Canadian veterans are at "significantly higher risk" of death by suicide than the general public, according to a first of its kind federal study that found young male veterans, and female veterans overall, are at the highest risk. Male veterans had a 36 per cent higher risk of death by suicide than the general population, while female veterans had an 81 per cent higher risk than the general population. (CTV)

Hehr apologizes, pledges to do better after new complaint from Calgary mom

Disabilities Minister Kent Hehr admitted to sometimes being "brash" and "inappropriate" after a fresh complaint of disrespect surfaced Thursday -- this one from a Calgary woman engaged in a class-action lawsuit against the federal government. Jennifer McCrea, who has been fighting on behalf of a group of mothers who say they were denied benefits while on maternity leave, contacted Hehr's office in October 2016 after being encouraged to speak to local Liberal MPs about her case. (CTV)

Church land redeveloped as net-zero homes for refugee families

Sixteen families from countries including Syria and Somalia have moved into a net-zero townhouse development on the site of Westmount Presbyterian Church in North Glenora, west Edmonton. The Presbyterian Church of Canada, which owns the site, agreed to lease the acre of land to Right at Home Housing Society, for a nominal fee. In return, the affordable housing agency built a smaller church for the congregation, including a community centre and daycare facility, alongside the 16-unit rental townhouse development, which it will manage. (Globe and Mail)

Palestinian president calls Trump's Jerusalem declaration 'unacceptable crime'

The Palestinian president says he is rallying international opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which he called an "unacceptable crime." At a meeting with Jordan's king, President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he rejects Trump's decision and believes the United States has hurt its credibility in the region. (CBC)

Jihadist with links to Manchester bomber is guilty of fighting for Isis

A supermarket worker with close links to the Manchester Arena bomber has been found guilty of fighting with Islamic State in Syria. Mohammed Abdallah, 26, travelled to the war-torn state with the help of his younger brother, who ran an Isis “communications hub” from their family home in south Manchester. (Guardian)

Trump's Jerusalem move: US warns against scrapping Abbas talks

The US has warned Palestinians against cancelling talks with Vice-President Mike Pence, after Washington recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital. A senior Palestinian official earlier said Mr Pence would not be welcome. (BBC) (Reuters)

Jerusalem riots spread to Indonesia and Malaysia as terror group Hamas promises ‘day of rage’ over Trump over embassy move

Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia joined rallies outside the countries’ US embassies with Malaysia’s sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin threatening “the world will rise against the United States”. Hundreds have also taken part in protests in Iran with state TV airing footage of marchers chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” while holding up Palestinian flags and banners. (

Venezuela's chronic shortages give rise to 'medical flea markets'

Venezuela's critical medicine shortage has spurred "medical flea markets," where peddlers offer everything from antibiotics to contraceptives laid out among the traditional fruits and vegetables. The crisis-wrought Latin American nation is heaving under worsening scarcity of drugs, as well as basic foods, due to tanking national production and strict currency controls that crimp imports. (Yahoo)



Candice Malcolm: Trudeau government two-faced on Iran

The Trudeau government continues to flip flop when it comes to its foreign policy objectives. Does Canada want to champion human rights and liberal democratic values, or does it want to befriend rogue nations and work to build new alliances – even with historically adversarial regimes? While all eyes were on Prime Minister Trudeau in China this week, there is another example of Trudeau’s two-faced approach to human rights and foreign policy: Iran. (Toronto Sun)

Lorrie Goldstein: Trump's right on Jerusalem

That the world judges Israel by standards expected of no other country is demonstrated by the international fury over U.S. President Donald Trump’s fulfillment of a campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And his pledge to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in three years. (Toronto Sun)

Mark Bonokoski: By choosing Jerusalem, Trump throws a new wrench into peace

U.S. President Bill Clinton talked a good game about moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — then balked. George W. Bush made the same promise, and ultimately backed away. What seemed like a good idea at the time suddenly took on a different tenor when it was fully realized that the issue was a time bomb with a very short fuse, and that peace in the Middle East was more unattainable than it was ever feasible. (Toronto Sun)

Oliver Schmidtke: While many fixate on swastikas, insidious hatred is increasingly normalized

Across North America and Europe, we're being confronted with a striking increase in hate crimes and symbols of intolerance toward minorities and migrants. The University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia have both seen racist posters and activities on their campuses in recent weeks. "This brazen outburst of far-right anti-semitism at a Canadian university is a serious concern," noted B'nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn to media after white-supremacist posters surfaced at UVic in October. (Globe and Mail)

John Ivison: Trudeau can't seem to export 'progressive' trade values. Why keep insisting on it?

Justin Trudeau’s last day in China started with an eye-dotting ceremony, the tradition of marking the eyes of dancers’ lion costumes with symbolic blood. Chinese tradition suggests the dots — red, symbolizing fire, life and good luck — awaken and tame the lion. (National Post)

Scott Newark: Why Is Canada Cutting Checks to Suspected Terrorists?

It began in 2007, after a lengthy, expensive and mostly closed-door inquiry led to a $10.5 million payoff to Maher Arar. Arar was a joint Canadian-Syrian citizen under pre-9/11 investigation by the Canadian government and others regarding his activities and associations related to Islamist terrorism. Despite being aware of the investigation, Arar left Canada in 2002 for extended international travel, and was detained when he flew into New York. He then was transferred by US officials to Syria. He subsequently claimed that he was tortured because of information provided by Canadian officials. (Algemeiner)

Don Martin: Surely Kent Hehr has talked himself out of cabinet

So three days after and Kent Hehr is still in cabinet. That would be three days after the disabled minister of disabilities shrugged off victims with disabilities using some the coldest, crassest and frankly craziest language I’ve ever heard a politician utter. (CTV)



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