Archive | July, 2018

14 Canadian children linked to ISIS, says study that calls on government to rehabilitate them

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

 A report released Monday called on countries to bring back and rehabilitate children from the so-called Islamic State, warning that otherwise, they could pose a significant future threat.

The London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalization said that more than 4,600 foreign minors were affiliated with ISIS, including an estimated 14 Canadian citizens.

But only about a quarter of them had so far returned to their home countries, the think-tank wrote in its report, “From Daesh to Diaspora: Tracing the Women and Minors of Islamic State.”

Only two minors had returned to Canada, it said.

“Currently, the number of global attacks successfully conducted by returning IS minors is still comparatively low,” the report said. “However, without effective de-radicalization and reintegration initiatives tailored to children and teenagers, indoctrinated and trained minors will continue to pose a significant threat in the future, wherever they end up.”

With many male ISIS foreign fighters dead in Syria and Iraq, how governments respond to children and women indoctrinated by the terrorist group will help determine its future, the study said.

In the absence of effective de-radicalization efforts, children and women could keep ISIS alive by recruiting a new generation of terrorists and committing acts of violence, the authors wrote.

But it said those who have left the group could “speak out against IS, its ideology and actions, or challenge positive myths about life under the ‘caliphate,’ and prevent others from supporting IS.”

About 20 per cent of Canadians involved in overseas terrorist groups are women, and some have taken their children with them. A handful of Canadian ISIS fighters have also fathered children in Syria and Iraq, creating a dilemma for the government.

ISIS indoctrinated and trained foreign children, calling the boys “caliphate cubs” and the girls “pearls.” They were featured heavily in propaganda videos, and in some cases were shown executing prisoners.

Since the collapse of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, some have been held at camps but their governments are wary about taking them back, which risks overburdening local authorities, and many remain unaccounted for.

Perhaps most worrisome are those orphaned by the conflict who are stateless and ostracized.

“Without careful intervention and thorough reintegration into society, those bearing the IS label may find such societal stigma becomes the fuel for future radicalization,” the report said.

Women who travelled to the region to join ISIS also pose potential security risks, it said. Cautioning against viewing them all as merely “jihadi brides,” the report noted that some were active in recruiting and fighting.

The report cited the example of a female recruiter from Edmonton who radicalized at least one other woman and facilitated her travel to Syria. Although ISIS no longer controls a “caliphate” governed according to militant extremist ideals, some women “remain committed to carrying forward the ideology of IS, and raising their children to be the next generation of IS,” it said.

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Ottawa fails to find private-sector buyer for Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

OTTAWA – The federal government is set to become the official owner of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion after failing to quickly flip the project to another private-sector buyer.

Pipeline owner Kinder Morgan had been working with the government to identify another buyer before July 22.

But with that date set to pass without a deal, it was expected the pipeline company will now take Ottawa’s $4.5-billion offer to purchase the project to its shareholders.

Pending their approval, the sale, which includes the existing pipeline, the pumping stations and rights of way, and the Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C., will be approved sometime in August or September.

 The $4.5-billion purchase price does not cover the construction costs of building the new pipeline, which previous estimates have pegged at around $7.4 billion.

Finding another buyer for the project before Sunday’s deadline was widely considered a long shot because of the project’s risks.

But the government insists it does not plan to own and operate the pipeline over the long term and is expected to continue talking to interested parties.

The government had previously indicated that there were numerous groups interested in purchasing the controversial project, including pension funds and Indigenous groups.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s spokesman, Daniel Lauzon, said Ottawa still intends to sell the pipeline, if and when a suitable partner is identified and it’s in the best interests of Canadians.

“We have no interest in being a long-term owner of a pipeline, but we will be the temporary caretaker,” Lauzon told The Canadian Press on Sunday. “We won’t rush that.”

News of the failure to find another partner by July 22 came one day after protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain expansion took to Parliament Hill in hazardous-materials suits and carrying a fake pipeline.

It was the latest in a string of such rallies by environmental and Indigenous groups, which also included the erection of a similar cardboard pipeline outside the Canadian High Commission in London in April.

Lauzon on Sunday defended the decision to purchase the pipeline, saying the project, whose aim is to get Canadian oil to Asian markets, remains in the national interest.

The Trans Mountain expansion will build a new pipeline roughly parallel to the existing, 1,150-km line that carries refined and unrefined oil products from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, B.C.

It will nearly triple the line’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day. Trans Mountain is the only pipeline carrying Alberta crude to the West Coast and the hope is that most of the oil will end up in tankers bound for Asia.

Ottawa approved the expansion project in November 2016 and British Columbia’s then-Liberal government followed suit two months later.

But four months after that, the provincial Liberals were replaced by the NDP under John Horgan, who has a coalition of sorts with the Green party that includes an agreement to oppose the expansion in every way possible.

The federal government has said its hand was forced by Horgan, who has gone to court for judicial approval to regulate what can flow through the pipeline – a measure of opposition that made Kinder Morgan Canada, the project’s original owner, too nervous to continue.

The company halted all non-essential spending on the pipeline expansion in April pending reassurances from Ottawa that the project would come to fruition.

The federal government had said Canada would cover any cost overruns caused by B.C.’s actions, but in the end that wasn’t enough.

Following the government’s announcement that it planned to purchase the pipeline, Kinder Morgan agreed to start construction this summer as planned.

 

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Is Trudeau trying to reap the benefits of resisting a NAFTA deal? Harper under scrutiny after new report

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

New polling seems to back up a reported suggestion by Stephen Harper that standing up to Donald Trump is politically popular for Justin Trudeau.

But one expert is less confident about his reported claim that the government is resisting reaching a NAFTA deal in order to continue reaping the benefits of being seen to stand up to the unpopular president, saying there’s little sign a deal is actually ready to be cut at this point.

 “I don’t think there’s a deal to be had there right now. Trump has made the fight around the world,” said Mike Moffatt, director of policy and research at Canada 2020, a think tank that is heavily linked to the Liberal Party (its president was chief digital strategist on Justin Trudeau’s federal election campaign) and an assistant professor at Western University’s Ivey School of Business.

“He [Trump] hasn’t been able to get a deal on any of those, so is every other country in the world being obstinate? No. I think the problem is Trump.”

Tim Powers, vice-president of Summa Strategies who has long worked with the federal Conservatives, says while Trudeau might be getting a bump in public opinion because of his recent dealings with Trump, there are no signs his government is deliberately delaying sealing a deal.

“While it is true to say [Trudeau] gets a public opinion pop from conflict with Donald Trump, and perhaps he should have pursued an early bilateral trade deal with the U.S., it is not obvious that he is ragging the puck on getting a NAFTA deal done,” said Powers.

Greg MacEachern, vice president of Proof Strategies and a Liberal strategist, said the reported suggestion from Harper doesn’t fit with how the government has handled Trump so far.

“It would’ve been very easy for the prime minister to start a fight in the early days. Canadians would’ve loved that,” he said.

“When the president changed the tone of negotiations is when Canadians responded and retaliated in terms of our own tariffs. In terms of a political win, I think the bigger win for Trudeau, and ultimately Canada, will be getting a NAFTA deal.”

Jamie Ellerton, who worked as a political strategist for then-immigration minister Jason Kenney and former Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak, says while he doesn’t think Trudeau is intentionally delaying a NAFTA deal, the prime minister does stand to gain from his public disputes with Trump.

“I think the prime minister, in a kind of crass, political sense, gets the benefit of both sides of the issue right now. If he is able to get a NAFTA deal, he’ll of course get the deserved credit for it,” Ellerton told Global News. “At the same time, it’s no secret that Canadians don’t like President Trump, I think the reasons for that are quite obvious.”

“I do not believe that Trudeau is delaying [NAFTA], and I think with the hindsight of 20-20 down the road, when a deal ultimately gets done… we can then at that point look back and say what his strategy might’ve been. But for the time being, the status quo of the current NAFTA agreement really does remain in place.

“Short of anything substantial happening, I think the government of Canada led by Prime Minister Trudeau… is ultimately looking to get the best deal for Canada.”

Andrew MacDougall, former communications director for Harper, also tweeted on the matter.

He pointed out while there may be questions over whether the former prime minister erred in airing those concerns, even among a private audience, it’s also worth asking whether it would be better for Canada just cut a deal on NAFTA and hopefully deflect some of Trump’s attention.

that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is resisting making a NAFTA deal to score political points from standing up to Donald Trump.

In his remarks, Harper said it would be “foolish” for either the Canadian or American governments to resist making a deal for political points.

In a press conference Friday, Trudeau was asked about the comments and whether he has reached out to Harper to potentially help in NAFTA talks.

“I have had many conversations with a broad range of people including almost all of our former prime ministers including Mr. Harper to ensure everyone understands this is an all-hands-on-deck approach, not a partisan approach,” he said.

“I’m not going to play politics on that. I’m going to remain focused on getting the right deal for Canada.”

Fifty-five per cent of Canadian respondents approve of Trudeau, up from 50 per cent in June and 44 per cent in March.

While a number of factors are likely at play, including the fact the House of Commons is on summer break, the increase in support comes as Trudeau and the government double down on retaliatory tariffs imposed in response to the Trump administration’s own levies on steel and aluminum.

“The summer months are working very well for Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals,” Mike Colledge, president of Ipsos Canada, told Global News, “in part because of the response to the war of words for trade tariffs spat with Mr. Trump that rallied both the Liberal base as well as those who opposed the Liberals.”

It also comes as senior Canadian ministers prepare to head to Mexico next week for talks with the outgoing and incoming administrations there.

 “Work has been ongoing on NAFTA and we remain ready to meet anytime, anywhere,” the individual said.

NAFTA negotiations stalled in May and June over several contentious sticking points, including the issue of a sunset clause.

Trump claimed during his closing press conference at the G7 Summit in Quebec City that there would be a sunset clause.

Trudeau rebutted that in his own press conference hours later, prompting Trump to launch a Twitter tirade that, along with the implementation of retaliatory tariffs, seems to have fuelled a wave of patriotism among Canadian leaders and citizens from all stripes.

The pair had their first face-to-face meeting since then while at the NATO Leaders Summit in Brussels last week.

That talk, held on the margins of the summit, focused on trade and NAFTA.

There’s no set date for when official negotiations on the trade deal will resume.

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Canada’s immigration detention system unfairly penalizes detainees: report

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Canada’s immigration detention system relies on faulty information and is stacked against detainees, many of whom lack lawyers and are penalized for having severe mental illness, an audit has found.

The findings, by Toronto-based human rights lawyer Kathy Laird, were commissioned last year by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, the independent government agency whose decision-makers oversee detention reviews.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s government has vowed to find alternatives to the indefinite incarceration of non-citizens, who can be held without being charged if they are deemed a flight risk, a danger to the public or if their identity is unclear, according to Canada’s regulations.

People in detention are entitled to reviews of their status but the audit found that process is flawed to the detriment of the people incarcerated.

The audit’s recommendations include reform of the detention review process and an immediate review of “long-term detention files,” starting with the 80 people who have been in detention for more than a year.

Adjudicators frequently made decisions based on factual inaccuracies and speculation, and uncritically accepted the statements of border agents, often without allowing detainees to hear or present evidence themselves, the audit found. Detainees were also frequently without lawyers to advise them.

People with mental illness faced “extra barriers to release,” the audit said, citing the example of one man who spent four and a half years in detention and “suffered a complete mental collapse.” The audit said his mental state was used as a reason to keep him locked up.

The Immigration and Refugee Board said in a statement on Friday that it agrees with the recommendations, which “provide opportunities for positive change.”

Representatives for Canada’s Public Safety Ministry and the Immigration and Refugees Ministry, which oversees the Immigration and Refugee Board, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Lawyer Lobat Sadrehashemi, president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, said: “The findings are pretty clear that it’s a system that is very unfair for detainees. This has gone on for too long and the consequences are so severe.”

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Minimum wage increases bite into funding boost for Canada Summer Jobs program

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Rising provincial minimum wages have cut into the reach of the Liberal government’s oft-touted increase to summer jobs spending by reducing the number of weekly hours being funded this year.

The Liberals have doubled spending on the politically popular program to approximately $220 million in order to boost the number of available jobs to 70,000 from about 35,000.

Newly released documents show the government was aware in late winter that there would be a drop in the number of hours funded through the program to meet the Liberal government’s summer jobs target.

A mid-March briefing note to Labour Minister Patty Hajdu warned of the planned reduction in the average hours per job funded through the program, moving to a national average of 30 hours a week in 2018 from 35 in 2017.

Officials wrote that the plan could raise concerns from MPs who like to promote the spending, as well as from employers _ particularly organizations that need help paying and attracting seasonal workers.

“The reduction is expected to affect organizations that require more weeks in order to sustain their operations (e.g. summer camp) and to attract enough potential applicants,” reads the briefing note, obtained by The Canadian Press under the access to information law.

Figures provided by the department suggest officials have eased some of the effects, but there has still been a decline in hours across all 10 provinces. There has been no reduction in funded hours in the territories.

A spokeswoman for Hajdu said the government stands by its decision to double the number of jobs through the program, and is “continually looking at ways to improve the program” for students needing “quality summer job experience.”

The annual program provides wage subsidies, targeting mostly not-for-profit groups and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

The program helps small businesses and organizations manage cash flow in the early stages of a summer placement because students may need time to learn the job before they contribute to an organization’s bottom line, said Ted Mallett, vice-president and chief economist at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“That’s why these government programs are helpful in overcoming those kinds of start-up difficulties for small firms.”

Demand for funding always exceeds the amount the government spends on the program and this year was no different. The total value of all the applications this year was $68.9 million more than last year, a figure the briefing note chalked up to rising minimum wages, particularly in Ontario, Alberta and B.C. Hajdu was told the increases in minimum wage nationally averaged out to a 13.7 per cent bump in wages.

At a kickoff event for the program in late April, one non-profit group pressed Hajdu about the government’s plan to deal with the effects of minimum wage increases on the program.

Hajdu responded that officials were working with provinces and territories. She added that employers approved for funding would make “decisions and determinations accordingly” about hours and duration of summer jobs.

The department overseeing the program recommended 85,000 jobs for funding this year out of the more than 153,500 requests. Officials recommended more jobs than the expected 70,000 because some employers drop out of the program, while others end up being unable to fill the jobs.

Final Canada Summer Jobs figures won’t be known until later this year.

The Liberals have faced criticism this year from faith-based groups over new funding criteria that required groups to say neither their core mandate nor the jobs being funded actively worked to undermine constitutional, human and reproductive rights.

Many faith-based groups refused to sign the declaration and the government is facing legal challenges to the anti-abortion requirements.

Employment and Social Development Canada said officials have not revoked any group’s funding this year for being in violation of the declaration.

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Politicians from India’s Punjab state reportedly detained at Ottawa airport, deported

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Two politicians from the Indian state of Punjab were reportedly denied entry into Canada on Sunday and put on a flight back to India.

Kultar Singh Sandhwan and Amarjit Singh Sandoa, both MLAs with the Aam Admi Party (AAP) in Punjab, were detained and questioned by immigration officials upon arrival at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, according to Kamal Garg, a B.C.-based spokesperson for the AAP.

The MLAs were in Ottawa for a family event, but were unable to satisfy Canadian authorities as to the purpose of their visit, Garg told Global News.

They were released after questioning, and put on an Air Canada flight back to India.

One of the MLAs may have mentioned to Canadian immigration officials that he was in the country for political meetings, the Indian Express reported, citing a senior AAP leader.

AAP leaders in Punjab have previously been accused of sympathizing with the Khalistan (Sikh separatist) movement. The party’s top MLA in Punjab caused a stir last month when he expressed support for a referendum on the creation of Khalistan, the Hindustan Times reported last month.

The Khalistan issue was a major flashpoint of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s troubled trip to India in February, with some Indian leaders alleging that members of the Liberal Party were cozying up to Sikh separatist elements.

The AAP’s Vancouver-based spokesperson denied that the deportation was politically motivated, saying neither MLA has spoken out on Khalistan.

Sandoa has been in the news in India lately for other controversies and alleged crimes, however.

On Friday, a court charged him with molesting his former landlady; last month, he was hospitalized after being assaulted by a man who accused him of extortion.

 

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Horwath to Ford: will teachers be punished for teaching updated sex ed curriculum?

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

QUEEN’S PARK – With just a few weeks to go until the start of the school year, Leader of the Official Opposition Andrea Horwath demanded to know why the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association has received no official notice from the Ministry of Education about what, exactly, is happening this fall — and if teachers will be punished for continuing to teach the modern sex ed curriculum.

“Radical extremists like Charles McVety and Tanya Granic Allen want to prevent kids from learning about consent, cyberbullying, gender identity, and LGBTQ families. They want to drag Ontario back to 1998, and Doug Ford is fulfilling their every wish,” said Horwath, who pointed to concerns from school boards and the association that they haven’t been told what is supposed to be in classrooms the fall, with teachers all over the province having never taught the old, 1990s sex ed curriculum.

 “Mr. Ford is throwing school board planning into chaos – why is he not communicating with boards, educators and parents about the school year starting in just a few weeks?”

Now, the Thames Valley School Board is seeking a legal opinion about what might happen if teachers continue to use the modern sex ed curriculum.

“If teachers stand up and teach about consent, gender identity, and LGBTQ families in their classrooms this fall – what will happen?” asked Horwath. “Why is Doug Ford throwing school boards into chaos and putting students’ health at risk for no other reason than to please the radical social conservatives in his own party?”

Horwath and the NDP have been vocal in their opposition to Ford’s decision to scrap the modern sex ed curriculum, and force an old version back into classrooms — one that was written before same-sex marriage was legal or social media was in use. On Saturday, Horwath and NDP MPPs joined hundreds of parents and educators at a rally at Queen’s Park to protest the move and demand that the Ford government allow the updated curriculum to continue to be taught.

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Ford’s favours for social conservatives dragging Ontario backwards

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Outdated sex ed curriculum leaves young people, queer youth in danger

QUEEN’S PARK – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath says Premier Ford’s backroom deals with radical social conservatives are driving his political decisions, not concern for Ontario’s families and youth. During question period Tuesday, Horwath asked if LGBTQ+ youth would see themselves represented in the sex ed curriculum in classrooms this fall. Ford refused to answer.

“Ford’s decision to scrap the updated sexual health curriculum and drag Ontario back to 1998 is not about doing what’s right for students, or about listening to parents. It’s about doing favours for social conservatives, like Charles McVety and Tanya Granic Allen,” said Horwath.

“He is being driven by whatever far-right radical social conservatives want him to do, and the deals he made with them before the election. As a result, Ford is ignoring his responsibility to all of Ontario’s students, all of our young people, and all of our queer youth and LGBTQ families.”

While Ford’s Education minister announced during questions period yesterday that some updated sex ed topics would be kept in place, the Ford Conservatives overruled that later in the day, clarifying that teachers will be forced to use a health curriculum written before the existence of social media, smart phones, or legal same-sex marriage.

“The 1998 curriculum ignores consent, online safety, gender identity, and LGBTQ families. That’s the curriculum that Ford and his radical extremist friends are dragging our kids back to,” said Horwath.

“I have a simple question for the premier: Will same-sex relationships and LGBTQ families be included and reflected in the curriculum this fall? Or does he have to ask permission of radical extremists like Charles McVety and Tanya Granic Allen?”

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Rakul Preet Singh to play Sridevi in the NTR biopic

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Biopics are the trendiest plot topics for filmmakers right now. Telling stories of larger than life people in a blend of facts and fiction has become a raging topic for films. One such biopic that’s being talked a lot about since its announcement is South superstar N.T. Rama Rao’s biopic. Nandamuri Balakrishna will be playing the titular roles, while Vidya Balan has been roped in to play NTR’s wife, Basavatarakama.

Talking of the star cast, Rakul Preet Singh, who was last seen in Aiyaary but is a big name in the South, will be seen playing the role of Sridevi. NTR and Sridevi have worked in over 14 films during their career and both were a highly cherished duo on-screen.

A source close to the actor said, “Rakul was approached for the role and the actress was elated to be part of the project. However, the date clash could be a problem. But things are still in the nascent stage and it’s premature to comment.”

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Kangana Ranaut to clash with Hrithik Roshan at the movies

Posted on 25 July 2018 by admin

Manikarnika is based on the life of queen of Jhansi, Rani Laxmibai and Kangana is playing the titular role in this epic periodic drama. Crossing over several hurdles during the shoot of the film, Kangana Ranaut’s most anticipated project finally has a release date. The film is all set to release on January 25, 2019.

Interestingly, Kangana’s Manikarnika is going to clash with Hrithik Roshan’s Super 30 at the box-office next year. Directed by Kangana’s Queen director, Vikas Bahl, Super 30 is the biopic of mathematician Aanand Kumar. Hrithik Roshan has been working very hard on the project, leaving no stone unturned to fit perfectly in his character.

Owing to the history these two actors share, a clash at the box-office will surely create buzz for both the films.

 

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