True North Initiative: News Scan 12 15 16


2016 12 15


Canada adopts lottery system for reuniting immigrants with parents, grandparents

Canada is adopting a lottery system to replace the current first-come, first-served immigration process to reunite parents and grandparents. The change, which will take effect in the new year, is designed to make the system fair for all applicants, according to a release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In past, the number of applications has far exceeded the number of available spots, creating a backlog in applications. "We're listening to what past applicants had to say and making the process fairer for people who want to sponsor their parents or grandparents," Immigration Minister John McCallum said in a statement. (CBC) (Macleans) (IPolitics)

Humanitarian crisis in Syria expected to worsen in 2017: War Child Canada

Samantha Nutt of War Child Canada has visited some of the world’s most brutal war zones. She says many of the 22 active conflicts around the world will become more deadly in 2017. “I think you are going to see an ongoing displacement of civilians, human rights abuses, atrocities, and a population that is extremely traumatized in a region that is heavily, heavily divided,” she told CTV’s Power Play of the situation playing out in Syria. “That violence is unfortunately going to continue for quite some time." (CTV)

Dual citizens heading home for holidays need Canadian passports

Members of an Edmonton family looking forward to a holiday reunion this Christmas almost had their hopes dashed by a new passport rule. Since November, dual citizens who hold Canadian citizenship have been required to show Canadian passports if they want to fly back into the country. Janet Chotai and her family learned about the new regulation the hard way. (CBC)

Canada's MPs vote unanimously: It's time for the holidays

The sitting is over, the House of Commons has risen and members of Parliament are on their way home to their ridings for the holidays. In all, 11 bills have received royal assent so far this year, including Bill C-14, the Liberal government's medical assistance in dying law. The Senate is expected to sit for another day and will hold a ceremony to give royal assent to four bills that have passed both houses of Parliament. Once royal assent is given, bills become law. (CBC)

Ethics Commissioner to question Trudeau on cash-for-access fundraisers

Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has decided to question Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally to determine whether he breached the Conflict of Interest Act when he attended Liberal Party cash-for-access fundraisers with corporate executives wanting favours from the federal government. Ms. Dawson, who has for weeks ruled out taking action, will also quiz Liberal MP Bill Blair – who is in charge of legalizing recreational marijuana – about a fundraiser he headlined that was attended by a lobby group pushing for laws that would allow small businesses to sell pot legally to recreational users. (Globe and Mail)

Battle for Mosul will shape Canada's ground commitment in Iraq

Canada will continue to have a military mission in Iraq through 2017, but the size and scope of it have yet to be determined, the country's defence minister said in advance of an international meeting with allies battling ISIS. Defence planners have been spinning various scenarios for months, but the Liberal government committed — when it overhauled the mission against ISIS last February — to reviewing the deployment of special forces, helicopters, surveillance planes, an air-to-air refueling jet and a military field hospital. (CBC)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

'We are under pressure now': Syrians search for jobs

A year after moving to Moncton as a Syrian refugee, Nidal Rashid is feeling pressure to find a way to support his wife and four children. The 41-year-old is still struggling to find a job and doesn't want to have to turn to provincial social assistance to support his family with his federal government funding about to run out. "We are under pressure now." (CBC)

5-year-old refused flight home over new passport rules

A B.C. mother and her five-year-old son had a hard time getting home from Japan after new passport rules meant the boy wasn't allowed to fly back without a Canadian passport — and the family hopes its ordeal will be a warning to Canadian dual citizens travelling this holiday season. Shizu Heywood and her son, Jonathan, left for Tokyo on Nov. 11 for a visit with her family. Shizu is a Canadian permanent resident and her son — who was born in Richmond — holds dual Canadian-Japanese citizenship. (CBC)

Federal government ordered to stop demanding proof of sex change surgery

The Federal Court has ordered Ottawa to honour a settlement reached in a human rights complaint by an immigrant who was born with ambiguous genitalia and who asked to change her citizenship ID from male to female. In 2012, Audrey Chedor, 53, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission based on sex identity and citizenship after immigration officials required her to provide proof of sex change surgery to amend the gender designation on her citizenship certificate. (Toronto Star)

Two men with the same face, or one man lying about having two identities to stay in Canada?

An Alberta restaurant worker from Pakistan has been ordered out of Canada after facial recognition software analyzed his driver’s license photo and declared he is really someone else entirely. While Farhan Mahmood says it is a bizarre case of two men with the same face, Canada Border Services Agency says its use of biometric technology caught a man who shouldn’t be in Canada. It is among the first reported cases of CBSA proactively using facial recognition data to probe immigrant status although the technology has been a priority interest for the agency for years. (National Post)

Former Canadian soldier fights Daesh with gun in one hand, camera in the other

There was a moment last year along a dusty path on the way to a village in northern Iraq that Olivier Lavigne-Ortiz said he was literally leading the international coalition against the Islamic terror group Daesh. As a volunteer fighter attached to a company of Kurdish soldiers, the 34-year-old former Canadian soldier was walking ahead of his brothers-in-arms toward the next frontline and the next fight against the enemy. “I remember that I was in front of everyone and I thought: “This is the coalition—a bulldozer, a tank without bullets and 20 ill-equipped soldiers,” he recalled in a recent interview in this town on the outskirts of Quebec City. (Toronto Star)

Fall of Aleppo increases need for medical supplies, Vancouver man says

A volunteer who sends medical supplies to Syria says those supplies will be needed more than ever as Aleppo falls. Riam El-Safadi, with Canadian Relief for Syria, collects medical supplies like crutches and wheelchairs and sends them to the war-torn nation. "I just got off the internet with medical staff in Aleppo this morning … they had been shelled by Grad missiles, surface missiles that injured three medical workers," he told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. (CBC)

Aleppo battle: Hopes rise for evacuation of rebel-held areas

Buses are again poised to start evacuations from a rebel-held enclave in the Syrian city of Aleppo under a renewed but fragile deal. Fighters and civilians had been due to leave on Wednesday, but a ceasefire collapsed. Rebels say a new truce came into effect on Thursday morning. One convoy of ambulances tried to leave but was shot at, rebel sources said. Government forces took nearly all remaining rebel-held parts of Aleppo this week after a four-year battle. (BBC)

Child chain gangs of North Korea exposed, as kids as young as five forced to repair railways

Grafting in the blazing sun, Kim Jong-un ’s child slaves load heavy rocks into sacks as others mend railway tracks with hammers. Taken out of lessons and forced to carry out back-breaking work, they toil for up to 10 hours a day. The footage of North Korea ’s human rights abuses, uncovered by the Daily Mirror, will shock the world. Yet in his palace hundreds of miles away, despot Jong-un enjoys a life of luxury and thinks nothing of enslaving innocents as young as five. (Mirror)

‘I’m Here to Help,’ Trump Tells Tech Executives at Meeting

The meeting between President-elect Donald J. Trump and the nation’s tech elite was hyped as something out of “The Apprentice”: The new boss tells his minions to shape up. It turned out to be a charm offensive, a kind of “Dancing With the Silicon Valley Stars.” “This is a truly amazing group of people,” the president-elect said on Wednesday in a 25th-floor conference room at Trump Tower in Manhattan. The gathering included Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Elon Musk of Tesla; Timothy D. Cook of Apple; Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook; Larry Page and Eric Schmidt of Alphabet, Google’s parent company; and Satya Nadella of Microsoft, among others. “I’m here to help you folks do well,” Mr. Trump said. (NY Times)



Candice Malcolm: Trudeau channels Hillary Clinton

In 2016, the Trudeau Foundation raised $535,000 from foreign contributors, compared to $196,000 from Canadians. (The Foundation says the majority of these foreign donations are from Canadians living abroad). Conservative leader Rona Ambrose has asked the federal ethics commissioner to investigate a possible conflict of interest. Sounds like the same kinds of ethical questions our American neighbours were concerned about in the 2016 election. (Toronto Sun)

Chantal Hebert: Women have led the way in the Commons in 2016

From leading the official Opposition to playing the lead role on files central to the government’s agenda, women finally made their way to centre ice in the federal arena this year, scoring or assisting on big goals for their parties. As Parliament winds down for the year, here’s a look at some of the main hits and at a few glaring misses. (Toronto Star)

Stephen Maher: Lay off the lynch mob tactics, Ezra

At the big anti-carbon-tax rally in Calgary on Sunday, about 1,000 Albertans gathered to register their opposition to the carbon tax, the NDP government … and the media. Haley Jarmain, a 23-year-old student and part-time reporter, was there to cover the rally for NewsTalk 770, the big talk radio station in Calgary. As one of the speakers attacked the media for its coverage of a rally in Edmonton the week before — coverage which focused on a “lock her up” chant directed at Premier Rachel Notley — audience members turned to the reporters at the back of the hall and booed. (IPolitics)

Tony Keller: Trudeau still has time to learn from Clinton’s fundraising mistakes

A lot of Canadians are worried about whether someone like Donald Trump could become prime minister. Given that political trends can cross borders as easily as acid rain, it’s not impossible. Kellie Leitch sure is giving it the old college try. But the rise of Mr. Trump is only half the story of America’s sudden political upheaval. The other half is the collapse of Hillary Clinton. If I were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I’d be carefully considering what made Ms. Clinton toxic for so many voters. A lot of it was about the economy. Much of it was out of her control. But some of it was her own handiwork. Exhibit A: Her fundraising, and that of the Clinton Foundation, the latter featuring foreign donors and vague but suspicious connections running from government to the foundation and back again. (Globe and Mail)

David Reevely: Trudeau's cash-for-access problem has a lot of damage yet to do

Trudeau, like Wynne, has headlined private fundraisers where people pay many hundreds of dollars to be in the presence of the powerful. Trudeau, like Wynne, vehemently denies any impropriety in attending $1,500-a-ticket receptions, with the money going to the Liberal party. Nor is there anything surprising about the sudden rise in donations to the Trudeau Foundation, named for the prime minister’s father, since Justin became prime minister. (Ottawa Citizen)

Mark Bonokoski: The peasants in Canada are revolting, no question about it

Whither the political elites, poor things. South of our border, the high and once mighty are still reeling from being devastated by a “blue-collar billionaire” in Donald Trump who was born rich and lived large, but who smote them by ignoring the rules of modern politics that the elites thought impenetrable. The political elites, said Trump, had served only themselves over generations of White House administrations, and not the public. The public had been tossed to the wayside. (Ottawa Sun)

Parker Gallant: The day Ontario’s wind-power tyranny ends there will be dancing in the streets

The editor of the magazine, North American Windpower, recently marked the demise of Ontario’s wind industry. His article was titled “Eulogizing Ontario’s Wind Industry.” Apparently the eulogy was a result of Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault’s announcement of Sept. 27 that he was “suspending” the acquisition of 1,000 MW (megawatts) of renewable energy under the previously announced LRP ll (Large Renewable Procurement). (Financial Post)



- Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met yesterday to get a briefing with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States and to continue study on Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Official Act and Special Economic Measures Act (Link)