True North Initiative: News Scan 12 28 16


Power & Politics: Top 5 political blunders of 2016

All it takes is the fumble of a football or an unfortunately timed high-pitched scream to derail a political career. So what were the most cringeworthy moments of 2016? CBC News Network's Power & Politics has combed through this year's archives to bring you some of the political highlights of 2016. Today, we turn our attention to the top political blunders of the year. The Power Panel — Tim Powers and Lindsay Doyle of Summa Strategies, Ian Capstick of MediaStyle and the Huffington Post's Althia Raj — helps Rosemary Barton count down the political pratfalls. (CBC)

Liberals courting risk with upcoming peace mission

The Star has reported that the mission is probably headed to Mali, where a multinational force of 10,579 troops currently serves under a UN umbrella to help stabilize the country threatened by militants with links to Al Qaeda. The Canadian contingent could be split up and dispatched to more than one location. The government is expected to make a decision at a cabinet retreat in January. Yet Granatstein said there are no good locales for a Canadian mission in Africa. “The reality is if we’re going to Mali, we’re going into what is effectively a war zone against a well-armed Islamist group of rebels,” he said. (Toronto Star)

Islamic State arrests reveal jihadi threat near seat of U.S. government

Law enforcement agencies have arrested nine Northern Virginia residents on charges of aiding the Islamic State since the terrorist group rose to power in Syria and Iraq in 2014 and launched social media propaganda to attract followers, a government message to police states. The Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center issued profiles of the nine in a Dec. 21 report labeled “law enforcement sensitive.” Such reports are designed to help state and federal agents recognize trends in the types of individuals who are influenced by the Islamic State’s message and how they communicate across terrorist networks. A defense attorney in one of the cases accused police of anti-Muslim bias; his client later pleaded guilty. (Washington Times)

Sixty kids a week referred to anti-extremism body “Prevent”

Prevent has been described as heavy-handed and "toxic" by critics amid particular concerns about its application in schools, where teachers are now obliged to report suspected extremist behaviour. But the scheme has been credited with helping to disrupt more than 150 attempted journeys to conflicts in Iraq or Syria. (Sky News)

A Defiant Israel Vows to Expand Its Settlements

Just a few days after the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn Israeli settlements, Jerusalem’s municipal government signaled that it would not back down: The city intends to approve 600 housing units in the predominantly Palestinian eastern section of town on Wednesday in what a top official called a first installment on 5,600 new homes. (New York Times)

Latest violence has Christians across Middle East fearing bleak future for themselves in region

ON THE last Sunday of October, the church bells in the Iraqi Christian town of Qaraqosh rang out for the first time in two years. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) had been driven out, leaving behind only the dead bodies of their fighters and the churches that lay desecrated but not totally destroyed. Christians have lived and worshipped in the region since the first century AD, and in the heady days after Qaraqosh and neighbouring villages were liberated, people spoke excitedly about a new dawn. (National Post)

OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

The History of our Refugee System

We often hear Canada described as a country of immigrants. The Aboriginal First Nations are the original inhabitants; everyone else arrived over the last 500 Many were refugees, escaping persecution and harsh conditions in their homelands. But it was not until 1976 and the adoption of a new Immigration Act that refugees were recognized as a special class of immigrants. In 1978 the Refugee Status Advisory Committee was created to decide on the validity of a refugee’s claim. (Radio Canada)

Food bank in Surrey, B.C. addresses need for Muslim-based services

Although open daily to receive donations, the food bank opens two Saturdays a month to provide food consistent with the Muslim faith, including halal items. It is all funded by the community. Demand has surged with the arrival in the past year of thousands of refugees from Syria. (Globe and Mail)

The people they left behind: An Ottawa-based aid worker on the Syrians who haven't found safe haven

In Amman, Jordan, CARE Canada’s Jessie Thomson met a young Syrian woman whose life before the war seemed so much like her own back in Ottawa. A doctor in her early 30s, the woman left her Damascus apartment at her family’s urging as the fighting heated up. She packed a small bag, left her car parked on the street and asked a neighbour to water her plants. She thought she’d be gone for a few weeks. Instead, she had to flee on foot across the border, shelter with strangers and witness untold horrors only to end up in limbo. Unable to make her own living because refugees can’t work legally, she filled her days as a CARE volunteer. (Ottawa Citizen)

Ottawa plans to boost spending on new tech from Canadian startups

The federal government is looking to boost the amount it contracts out to startups as part of its attempt to spur on Canada’s emerging technology sector and create economic growth. Ottawa earmarks just $30-million of its vast $18-billion annual procurement budget to buy new technologies from startups through its Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP). That is not nearly enough, according to Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains. “It’s very modest and we can do better,” he said in an interview. “This is something we’re pushing very hard … I would like to see this in the budget.” (The Globe and Mail)

Donald Trump’s tough stance on U.S. tech heavyweights to boost Canadian IT sector

During his campaign, Trump had a lot of tough talk for tech’s heavyweights. He said Inc. has “a huge antitrust problem,” called for a boycott of Apple Inc. after the company refused to cooperate with a court order to help authorities unlock an iPhone involved in a terrorism case, and blamed Alphabet Inc.’s Google search engine for “suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton.” But Trump adopted a different tone at a mid-December meeting with industry leaders such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Tim Cook. He reportedly called them “an amazing group of people” and told them he was “here to help you folks do well.” No one knows which version of Trump the tech industry will have to work with post-inauguration, but Snobar said he’s hopeful the president-elect’s communications strategy will become more consistent. (Financial Post)

Israel intensifies battle with U.S. over U.N. resolution on settlements

The Israeli government stepped up its running battle with the Obama administration on Tuesday, saying it had proof that the United States had orchestrated a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning settlement activity. “We have ironclad information that emanates from sources in the Arab world and that shows the Obama administration helped craft this resolution and pushed hard for its eventual passage,” ­David Keyes, a spokesman for ­Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told reporters. “We’re not just going to be a punching bag and go quietly into the night.” (Washington Post)



Rafael Bardaji and Richard Kemp: Obama and the UN’s outrageous assault on Israel’s legitimacy

UN Security Council Resolution 2334 condemning Israeli house building in the West Bank including East Jerusalem is itself illegal, unjust and immoral. It will undermine, not advance the cause of peace and lead to increased hatred, violence and death in Israel and even beyond. (Times of Israel)

Bob Rae: Ottawa faces great challenge in dealing with Trump

The election of Donald Trump in November was not what the Justin Trudeau team expected. In that regard they are no different from most Canadians. The Liberals and Democrats had built a strong relationship, in good measure encouraged by the links between U.S. Republicans and the Conservatives under Steven Harper. (Toronto Star)

Lorrie Goldstein: The Obamas’ parting shots diminish them

In his final days in the White House, President Barack Obama wants us to know he could have been a contender. That he could have defeated Donald Trump if he had been able to violate the 22nd amendment of the U.S. constitution, which limits a president to two terms. Obama revealed his belief in a podcast with his former senior political adviser David Axelrod. In other words, a friendly audience. (Toronto Sun)

Terry Milewski: Goodbye and good riddance to a ghastly year

It often seemed interminable, but 2016 has, at last, limped to the finish line — and, for once, family, friends and pundits seem to agree. They're all smiling grimly as they say good riddance to a ghastly year.  Was it really as bad as they say? No — it was worse. (CBC)

Jackie Dunham: 'The last cheerful nation': Does pro-multiculturalism Canada stand alone?

When Donald Trump won the U.S. election in November, Canada became the last major western democracy to still believe in multiculturalism, Toronto author Stephen Marche said, calling Canada the “last cheerful nation” and suggesting that, for the first time in history, the national political identity is unique in the world. In a telephone interview with, Marche explained why he thinks Canada has avoided the surge of xenophobic anti-immigration attitudes and the rise of far-right political movements evident elsewhere, and what that means for the future. (CTV)

Drew Hasselback: Canada-U.S. trade relies on whether Trump and Trudeau can connect

Trump and Trudeau may orbit different suns politically, but they share a lot of common ground as politicians. Pundits wrote them both off as dilettantes not long before each won a surprising victory. Neither is a policy wonk, and both are adept at the theatrics of public life. Both also come from privileged backgrounds, yet attract broad support from the less well-to-do. Trudeau understands the power of the selfie photo, while Trump constantly outfoxes the mainstream media with his tweets. (Financial Post)

Christie Blatchford: The year’s best and worst moments in Canadian criminal justice

It’s not every year that the criminal courts dominate the headlines as they did in 2016. More’s the pity too, because at least in the courts — unlike in other spheres, such as politics, security/terrorism, modern war — there is usually some certainty, if not definitive answers. Without further ado, what follows are the year’s Best and Worst Moments of Canadian Criminal Justice: (National Post)

Julie Pace: Trump signals shift from Obama’s focus on multilateralism

For eight years, President Barack Obama's foreign policy doctrine has been rooted in a belief that while the United States can take action around the world on its own, it rarely should. "Multilateralism regulates hubris," Obama declared. His successor, President-elect Donald Trump, has derided some of the same international partnerships Obama and his recent predecessors have promoted, raising the prospect that the Republican's "America First" agenda might well mean an America more willing to act alone. (Associated Press)