Almost half of Canadians want illegal border crossers deported – Reuters poll

By Rod Nickel and David Ljunggren

WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA Nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States, and a similar number disapprove of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the influx, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday.

A significant minority, four out of 10 respondents, said the border crossers could make Canada “less safe,” underlining the potential political risk for Trudeau’s Liberal government.

The increasing flow of hundreds of asylum-seekers of African and Middle Eastern origin from the United States in recent months is becoming a contentious issue in Canada.

Although there has been broad bipartisan support for high levels of legal immigration for decades in Canada, Trudeau is under pressure over the flow of the illegal migrants.

He is questioned about it almost every time he appears in parliament, from opponents on the left, who want more asylum-seekers to be allowed in, and critics on the right, who say the migrants pose a potential security risk.

Canadian opposition parties seized on the poll results, with both those on the left and the right saying they underscored their positions.

Canadians appeared to be just as concerned about illegal immigration as American, according to the poll, which was conducted between March 8-9. Some 48 percent supported “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.” (For graphics on asylum process, immigration poll see

When asked specifically about the recent border crossings, the same number – 48 percent – said Canada should “send these migrants back to the U.S.” Another 36 percent said Canada should “accept these migrants”.

In the United States, where President Donald Trump was elected partly on his promise to boost deportations, 50 percent of adults supported “increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in the same week.

Illegal migrants interviewed by Reuters in Canada said they had been living legally in the United States and had applied for asylum there. But they fled for fear of being enmeshed in Trump’s immigration crackdown.

Kevin O’Leary and Kellie Leitch, top contenders to be leader of the official opposition right-leaning Conservative Party, both said the poll showed they were right to demand Ottawa deter border crossers.

Like Trump, O’Leary is a brash businessman and television personality with little experience of politics.

The left-leaning opposition New Democrats said given the poll showed Canadians wanted asylum seekers to cross the border legally, Ottawa should suspend an agreement with the United States whereby Canada turns back refugees from the United States if they try to make claims at border crossings.


Support for deportations was strongest among men, adults lacking a college degree, people who are older and those with higher levels of income.

    “There are so many people in the world who want to come in and go through the right channels,” said Greg Janzen, elected leader of a Manitoba border municipality that has seen many crossers. “That’s what’s pissing most people off. These guys are jumping the border,” he said.

Forty-six percent feel the influx would have no effect on safety, while 41 percent said it would make Canada less safe, according to the poll.

“Refugees are much more welcomed when we have gone and selected them ourselves as a country, as opposed to refugees who have chosen us,” said Janet Dench, executive director of Canadian Council for Refugees.

Of those polled, 46 percent disagreed with how Trudeau was handling the situation, 37 percent agreed, while 17 percent did not know. In January, a separate Ipsos poll found 59 percent of Canadians approved of Trudeau, while 41 percent disapproved.

Trudeau faces no immediate threat, since the next elections are not until 2019. His office declined to comment on the poll.

Brian Lee Crowley, head of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute public policy think-tank, said the number of illegal migrants could spike as the weather warms, and “if people become convinced there’s a large uncontrolled flow of illegal immigrants, I think that will be a very serious political issue for the government.”

Authorities dismiss the idea they are being lax.

Dan Brien, spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said trying to slip across the border “is not a ‘free’ ticket to Canada,” and noted all the asylum-seekers are immediately arrested.

“If they are found to be inadmissible without a valid claim, deportation procedures are begun,” he said when pressed on the poll. Those who cannot be identified, are a flight risk or pose a public danger can be detained, he added.

According to a separate Ipsos poll, 23 percent of Canadians listed immigration control as among the top national issues in March, up from 17 percent in December. It ranks behind healthcare, taxes, unemployment and poverty as top concerns.

Ottawa set an immigration target of 300,000 for 2017, or just under 1 percent of the population, the same level as 2016. It reduced the 2017 target for resettled refugees to 25,000 from 44,800 in 2016, when it welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English and French throughout Canada. It included responses from 1,001 people 18 years or older. Individual responses were weighted according to the latest population estimates, so that the results reflect the entire population.

The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 4 percentage points.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren, Rod Nickel and Chris Kahn, additional reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny, editing by Amran Abocar and Ross Colvin)

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Canada budget seen fleshing out spending plans to spur growth

By Andrea Hopkins

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s finance minister will give an update on the deficit when he presents the federal budget on Wednesday, hoping to flesh out plans to spend the way to growth without drawing the wrath of debt-rating agencies and businesses struggling to compete.

Analysts say key questions about debt and potential tax increases remain, although the annual fiscal blueprint is not expected to have the news splash of last year, when the new Liberal government unveiled a stimulus budget centered on infrastructure spending and much bigger deficits than it campaigned on.

If the ratio of debt to gross domestic product gets too high under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Canada could lose its AAA credit rating, although the nation remains on stronger fiscal footing than most of its peers.

Rising bond yields will also boost the cost of servicing Canada’s debt, projected to rise to C$642 billion ($480.36 billion) this year.

Tax increases are a big unknown. Businesses fear higher capital gains taxes would harm competitiveness just as U.S. rivals benefit from a break in taxes and regulation under U.S. President Donald Trump.

“The issue of competitiveness has become more urgent following the U.S. election … so I will be looking for concrete plans to bring more business to Canada and keep Canadian business at home,” said Manulife Asset Management senior economist Frances Donald.

Recent signs of long-awaited strengthening of economic growth probably came too late to help Morneau trim yawning annual deficits but could give him more room to reinstate a fiscal cushion, or prudence fund, spent last fall to help trim the budget gap to C$25.1 billion this year.

Morneau has not said when the government hopes to return the budget, balanced under the previous Conservative government, to the black. Instead he has pointed to a projected narrowing of the debt-to-GDP ratio to just over 30 percent by 2022 as investment in infrastructure, innovation and job training boosts growth.

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Canada January wholesale sales jump 3.3 percent on stronger autos

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian wholesale trade in January unexpectedly soared by 3.3 percent, its biggest monthly advance in more than seven years, on stronger sales of motor vehicles and parts, Statistics Canada data indicated on Monday.

The increase, far bigger than the 0.5 percent gain forecast by analysts, was the greatest since a 3.8 percent advance seen in November 2009 and pushed sales to a record C$59.09 billion ($44.43 billion).

In volume terms, wholesale trade grew by 3.4 percent, which is likely to bolster overall economic growth in January.

Sales were up in four of the seven subsectors, representing 55 percent of total wholesale trade.

Sales in the motor vehicles and parts subsector leapt by 17.1 percent, the biggest month-on-month gain since August 2005, breaking a two-month stretch of declines. Excluding this subsector, January wholesale sales edged up by 0.3 percent.

The personal and household goods subsector increased by 3.0 percent as sales of home entertainment equipment and household appliances shot up by 30.6 percent. The miscellaneous subsector dropped by 1.0 percent on lower sales by the agricultural supplies industry.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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CanadaSTROBEL: Canadians fall on 'happiness' scale

Mike Strobel, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 PM ET

You’re not just imagining it. You really are glummer these days.

The UN’s World Happiness Report is proof. Canada has slipped a notch to seventh, behind such bundles of joy as Iceland.

Ever been to Iceland? Of course not, if you’re not a puffin. Iceland is a volcanic bump in the middle of the North Atlantic. How happy can the place be?

Icelandics, or Icelandians, or whatever you call them, are so few — pop: 320,000 — they have an incest-avoidance app.

Their cellphone beeps if they are too closely related to whatever Iceman or Icewoman they are about to bed. I kid you not.

Despite this, or maybe because of it, Iceland finished third on the annual happiness chart, co-authored by eggheads at UBC and Columbia University. They measure such things as income, generosity, health, freedom, and good governance.

Good governance? I have a hunch I know why Canada is falling — from sixth last year, and fifth in 2015. Kathleen Wynne, for one, hardly makes you warm and fuzzy.

Norwegians seem much more content with their leader, King Harald V, and even happier overall than Icelandians.

Norway, where puffins go on holiday. Hard to imagine “Viking” and “happy” in the same sentence — but Norwegians are the happiest people on earth.

“Yes, I Knute!” they were heard to cry Monday when their nippy nation appeared at the top of the latest World Happiness Report list.

The report’s authors say money alone does not buy happiness — though surely it does not hurt. A sense of community and belonging is more important, they say. Thus, huddling for warmth while watching the northern lights makes you happy.

So why Norwegians and Icelandites and not us? We huddle for warmth. We have northern lights.

There’s no sense crying over spilt reindeer milk, so let’s fix it. Buck up, fellow Canuck. Be happy. Let’s climb back up the World Happiness Report rankings.

We already have one advantage. We’re not Syria. Or the Central African Republic, which rates even worse. My god, how awful can it be there to be unhappier than Syria, and dead last among 155 nations?

I already mentioned Ms. Wynne, but we can’t fix that source of unhappiness until after the 2018 list, at least.

We could all eat more herring, like the Scandinavians — including Denmark and Finland — and Dutch, who are ahead of us on the list. Or more cheese, like the Swiss, who were fourth.

It wouldn’t hurt if the Leafs made the playoffs for a change. I remember how blissed out we were in 1967, Toronto’s last Stanley Cup championship year and Canada’s hyper-happy centennial.

I don’t recall anyone singing, “One little, two little, three Norwegians …”

In the U.S., 1967 featured the Summer of Love.

But, in the World Happiness Report, our neighbours fell again this year, to 14th, not a shock given the circus down there. I wonder if their angst and gloom are rubbing off on us.

Maybe we should build an emotional wall.  

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Canada weighs India bride killing case

Canada is confident assurances from India will be enough to prevent the accused in a so-called honour killing of being mistreated if extradited, a lawyer has told the Supreme Court.

Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Subjit Singh Badesha are accused of orchestrating the murder in 2000 of Jaswinder “Jassi” Sidhu in Punjab.

Their lawyers argue they could face abuse in the Indian prison system.

Canada’s highest court is hearing the case after years of appeals.

Mrs Sidhu, Jassi’s mother, and Mr Badesha, her uncle, deny any involvement in her death.

The apparent “honour killing” of Jassi, a young Indian-Canadian woman, over a clandestine marriage to a man her family considered unsuitable, and the efforts to bring those behind it to justice have been followed closely in North America and India for years.

The accused were arrested in Canada in 2012 under the Extradition Act following an international investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Indian authorities.

India wants them to stand trial on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Government lawyers appealed to Canada’s highest court after a surrender order was struck down by a British Columbia appellate court in 2016.

Mrs Sidhu and Mr Badesha argue that they could face torture and abuse in the Indian prison system and might not get a fair trial. Both are elderly and suffer from age-related chronic ailments.

Mrs Sidhu’s lawyers also made reference to reports of the gender-based violence in India jails in arguments against extradition.

The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling could have implications beyond this particular case, a point underscored on Monday by Department of Justice lawyer Janet Henchey.

“It undermines the entire concept of extradition and sending people to the country where they have allegedly committed a crime if we refuse to surrender based on imperfections in our treaty partner, even sometimes large imperfections,” she told the court.

Ms Henchey also said the reputation of countries that have extradition treaties with Canada would “be on the line” if they failed to live up to diplomatic assurances that people would not be mistreated while in custody.

On 8 June 2000, Jassi, 24, and her husband Sukhwinder “Mithu” Singh were ambushed by a group of attackers in Punjab, India.

Mithu was badly beaten while the body of Jassi, with her throat cut, was found in a ditch the next day.

The young woman had fled her Canadian home to India after months of alleged abuse and harassment at the hands of her family, since they discovered her 1999 marriage to Mithu, a rickshaw driver.

Three men in India were eventually given life sentences for the attack.

The Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights, the Canadian Centre for the Victims of Torture and the Canadian Council for Refugee are fighting extradition.

Their lawyer warned the judges on Monday that diplomatic assurances, like those received from India in this case, were “inherently unreliable” and relying on them was an “abdication” of Canada’s responsibility to fight human rights abuses.

The court said it would reserve its decision to a later date.

Fabian Dawson, a journalist and author who has been reporting on the case for years, said he is “not surprised but still flabbergasted” at how long extradition cases can take in Canada.

“It is my belief, after covering this case for almost two decades, that Jassi will not get any justice from the people who orchestrated this crime,” he said.

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U.S. Uncertainty Looms Over Canada's Budget

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government will chart the next segment of its mandate this week in what’s expected to be a modest budget — but the omnipresent economic unknowns in the U.S. could eventually force Ottawa from a steady-as-she-goes course.

For now, the stronger U.S. economy is benefiting Canada. Finance Minister Bill Morneau will present the country’s budget Wednesday amid a brightening outlook, thanks in large part to the United States.

In recent months, healthier Canadian numbers — from trade, to labour, to housing — have encouraged forecasters to raise their projections for economic growth.

Some believe these improvements will put Ottawa on a path toward smaller annual deficits than what the government had predicted last fall. After a surprisingly robust finish to 2016, Ottawa’s anticipated $25.1-billion shortfall for 2016-17 is widely expected to come in less than projected.

trudeau trump
U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walk from the Oval Office to the Residence of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 13, 2017.

In normal times, the modest momentum would provide a dose of optimism for a government drawing up its budget.

But Canada’s current economic climate is far from typical.

The November election win for U.S. President Donald Trump has led to significant uncertainty in what is by far Canada’s top trading partner.

Even with the recent economic improvements, there are widespread concerns in Canada about U.S. proposals, including discussion about major changes to trade and tax policies.

Many warn the changes, which could include a border adjustment tax, could have severe economic consequences on this side of the border.

For now, with so many unknowns, sources have said Ottawa has no plans to take steps in the budget to directly address the Trump-related economic fears.

“The government is building this year’s budget with not a great deal of clarity …”
— Craig Alexander

It remains to be seen whether Ottawa will have the flexibility to respond to any changes implemented in the U.S. over the course of the year.

“The government is building this year’s budget with not a great deal of clarity about the geopolitical risks that could impact the Canadian economy,” said Craig Alexander, chief economist for the Conference Board of Canada.

“And so, they might want to be sensitive to that and they might want to delay some of the measures they were thinking about until they actually have greater clarity about what’s happening south of the border.”

Indeed, major spending decisions on defence and international aid seem to have been deferred to later this year.

bill morneau
Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes part in a news conference in Ottawa in 2015.

Even before any concrete economic moves by Trump, the U.S. resurgence has had negative effects in Canada.

A research note by TD last week said U.S. rate increases have already started to push up Canadian mortgage rates, creating “significant risk” in an economy with high household debt and soaring real estate prices.

Higher U.S. interest rates since Trump’s victory could also lead to bigger debt payments for Ottawa in the future, though some economists believe the effects will be offset by the benefits for Canada from a growing American economy.

Deficits expected for years

At the same time, Ottawa faces tight fiscal constraints and it’s expected to deliver a slim budget with few big-ticket items.

The Liberals have already committed to major spending increases for investments over the coming years in areas like infrastructure and expanded child benefits, which they argue will help lift the economy over the long haul.

The Trudeau government’s outlook is predicting several years of double-digit deficits.

The Liberals abandoned their election pledge to run annual shortfalls of no more than $10 billion over their mandate and to balance the books in four years.

Instead, Morneau has pledged to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio — also known as the debt burden — below its current level by 2019-20.

“The question is, are we just basically spending money like drunken sailors?”
— Randall Bartlett

But sticking with the vow on the debt-to-GDP ratio means Morneau has very little “wiggle room” when it comes to new spending, says Randall Bartlett, chief economist at a University of Ottawa think tank.

He believes the government should do more to analyze the performance of these investments to ensure Canadians are getting bang for their buck.

“The question is, are we just basically spending money like drunken sailors?” said Bartlett, whose Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy is directed by former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page.

But without accounting for U.S. policy changes — since they remain unknowns — Bartlett believes the stronger economy has put Ottawa on track to shave a few billion dollars off each of its projected deficits from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

Questions have been raised by Morneau’s decision to base his upcoming budget’s projections on forecasts he received from private-sector economists in mid-January.

Economy has improved since January

The Finance Department traditionally uses a survey of private-sector forecasters to determine its baseline projections, but those numbers are usually delivered only a few weeks prior to the budget.

Bartlett believes the economy has improved so much since January that the government will have a needlessly pessimistic forecast underlying the budget numbers — which would make it easier for Ottawa to beat these lower fiscal expectations down the road.

Scotiabank chief economist Jean-Francois Perrault, a former assistant deputy minister under Morneau, said he doesn’t believe the economic projections for Canada have improved enough since January to make a big difference.

Perrault is predicting slightly bigger annual deficits over the coming years. He said it’s partly due to higher-than-expected government spending and his expectation the government will reintroduce its $3-billion yearly risk adjustment.

“We have a fiscal path in Canada that has reasonably high deficits for a pretty significant period of time,” said Perrault, who added that the feds are in good fiscal shape and he’s not immediately concerned about the string of shortfalls.

Taxes will have to increase and spending will have to come down

But he noted that when Ottawa does take steps to return to balance it will need “pretty significant” spending cuts and tax increases to make it happen.

Perrault said it’s technically possible the economy will grow enough before the end of the Liberal mandate to eliminate the deficit on its own — without tax hikes and spending reductions. But he added such a scenario is “far fetched.”

And when it comes to addressing the U.S. uncertainty, Perrault said Canadians could see Ottawa make its big policy moves in the 2017 fall economic statement or even in next year’s budget.

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Australian Government Likely Has To Compromise On Asylum Seeker Ban

Government hopes to prohibit refugees from Manus, Nauru camps from ever setting foot in country

By Julia Holman

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 9, 2016) – The Government may have to compromise if it wants its legislation banning refugees who are in offshore detention from ever visiting Australia to pass the Senate.

Senator Nick Xenophon and his party colleagues were briefed on the issue yesterday by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

The Government’s proposal is to ban refugees who are on Manus Island and Nauru from ever visiting Australia even on a business or a tourist visa.

Senator Xenophon said his party might not vote as a bloc on the issue.

“It does go much further than current laws and it is a vexed moral issue,” Senator Xenophon told AM.

“It is a conscience issue for the team. I expect we will all have differing positions in relation to this, and I respect that.”

He said the numbers in the Senate were “very finely balanced” on this issue, but personally he would be more likely to support it if there was an increase to the humanitarian intake.

[PIR editor’s note: On Nov. 8, 2016 RNZI reported that ‘The opposition Labor party in Australia will oppose the government’s bill that blocks boat people from ever returning there.’]

He said back in 2014 he voted with the Government to introduce temporary protection visas because there was a significant lift in refugee numbers

“We pushed really hard to increase the humanitarian intake, which we did by 7,500 people,” he said.

“That’s 7,500 souls that would otherwise be languishing in a refugee camp somewhere in the world that will be able to call Australia home.

“And in my view, Australia is a big country with a big heart, I would like to see an even bigger increase in our humanitarian intake.” 

Another crossbench senator, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, said he would not be pushing for an increase in the humanitarian intake, although he did not want to see the numbers go down either.

But he was sceptical about whether the Government could stop refugees who become citizens of a country like Canada or New Zealand from visiting Australia.

“Suppose a refugee is banned from ever coming to Australia as a result of arriving here illegally, then goes to New Zealand and becomes a citizen of New Zealand and then wants to visit Australia,” he said.

“Are they seriously going to prohibit that person from entering the country? How would we even know who that was? If they’ve got a New Zealand passport we just let them in automatically anyway.”

Government needs support of eight crossbenchers

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said he wanted a vote in the Lower House by the end of the week.

With Labor and the Greens opposing the legislation, the Government needs the support of eight out of 10 Senate crossbenchers.

However, Nick Xenophon said the Upper House would not be in any hurry to make a decision.

“I still haven’t reached a final position and I don’t believe it’s fair to say that my colleagues have necessarily reached a final position,” he said.

“It depends what all the elements of the legislation are and whether the Government is prepared to move on some of those elements of the legislation.

“If there is some way that the humanitarian intake can be increased, that a third country can be found for those languishing on Nauru or Manus Island, that you don’t compromise the strong position that we have on people smugglers, and to make sure that we don’t see a revival of that trade and with it the drownings at sea and the gross exploitation of those asylum seekers, then maybe, just maybe, we can come up with a solution that is far from perfect but would be an improvement on what we have now.”

Radio Australia
Copyright © 2016 Radio Australia. All Rights Reserved

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Infrastructure: Narendra Modi government eyes Rs 50,000 cr from funds via toll-operate-transfer mode for NHAI

NHAI can securitise the toll receivables by collecting an upfront concession fee.

In a move that could fetch the government upwards of R50,000 crore, a host of pension funds, sovereign funds and private equity funds may invest in the 75 road projects to be bid out in the toll-operate-transfer (TOT ) mode. Players such as Macquarie, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Canada Pension Fund, Brookfield Asset Management, and IDFC Alternatives in India are understood to have shown keen interest in these projects. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials are believed to have indicated to players the first lot of projects could be up for bidding as early as April.

The TOT model will allow the government to lease out 75 operational projects constructed by the NHAI or a concessionaire with a combined length of over 4,300 km to private players for a concession period ranging between 25 years and 30 years.

NHAI can securitise the toll receivables by collecting an upfront concession fee. Funds are eyeing these ventures as a good investment opportunity given the risks are minimal. MK Sinha, managing partner and chief executive officer, IDFC Alternatives, told FE that TOT ventures are probably the best way to attract foreign and private capital chasing yield investments without taking on any construction and development risk. “Taking construction and development risks in road construction has not worked well for the private sector and has also resulted in large claims from NHAI on account of various delays,” Sinha pointed out.

Both the ministry of road transport and highways and NHAI have had discussions with these potential concessionaires in the last year to year and a half to evolve a model to minimise hurdles in the future, sources said.
As part of the concession agreement, detailed engineering studies of these projects have been undertaken to spot any latent defects, a senior executive from a construction firm told FE. Prospective concessionaires have suggested the tariff be fixed and that the government allow a 5% hike in tariff irrespective of inflation. That would then leave just the traffic to be estimated, bringing some certainty in cash flows, they feel. At present, toll tariffs are linked to the WPI.

Repeated calls and messages sent to senior officials at NHAI did not elicit any response till the time of going to press.
After the expiry of the lease period, TOT projects that have been operational and generating toll revenues for at least the last couple of years would return to the government’s fold. Bidders will recoup their investments and returns by collecting toll over the lease tenure. During the period, maintenance will also be the responsibility of the concessionaire.

In a recent report, Icra noted that given the wide variation in toll collections, the attractiveness of certain stretches with long vintage and established traffic volumes — especially the ones along the Golden Quadrilateral — is much more compared with the ones with less operational track record and poor toll collections. K Ravichandran, senior vice-president & group head, corporate ratings, observed that it makes sense to bundle the projects so that weaker projects are not left out. “NHAI could also consider keeping floor and cap so that the bidding is not very aggressive in case of attractive stretches,” he said.

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Omar Khadr’s lawyer says ‘it’s time for the government to . . . apologize to him’ and settle suit

As the Canadian government offers an apology and millions in compensation for Ottawa’s role in the detention and torture of three Canadians held in Syria and Egypt, federal lawyers appear to be digging in for a long fight against former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old and grievously injured when he was captured in 2002.

Lawyers for Khadr, now 30, have been fighting the federal government since 2004 regarding abuses they say occurred to the Toronto-born captive under the Liberal and Conservative administrations.

The crux of the $20-million suit is Canada’s unwillingness to recognize that according to international law, Khadr should have been treated as a child soldier during his incarceration. Most damning is the allegation that Ottawa not only failed to protect Khadr as a passive bystander during the abuse of the teenage prisoner, but co-operated with the U.S. in violation of Canadian constitutional and international laws protecting the rights of minors.

The Supreme Court of Canada has already condemned the federal government’s treatment of Khadr in three separate cases, including a 2010 unanimous ruling that said the participation of Canadian officials in Khadr’s Guantanamo interrogations violated his constitutional rights and “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

“It’s time for the government to close the door and apologize to him. Instead, they’re going to drag him back through the nightmares of his time in Guantanamo in examining him about his experiences,” Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney said in an interview Saturday.

Edney, along with Toronto lawyer John Phillips, said Khadr will testify if essential to settling the case, but object to the need when his case has been so well documented in the media and through years of other cases litigated both here and the U.S.

“With the information and evidence so available, is the examination of Omar intended to show that he did not suffer from torture and abuse, that he suffered no damage from his incarceration as a child and the loss of his adolescence through early manhood without any rehabilitation by either the U.S. or Canada?” Phillips asks in a February letter to Department of Justice lawyer Barney Brucker. “I do not see how the Minister can achieve any benefit by subjecting Omar to further interrogation.”

Khadr was 15 when shot and captured following a July 27, 2002 firefight in Afghanistan where U.S. Delta Force Sgt. Christopher Speer was fatally wounded. In October 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crimes under Guantanamo’s controversial military commissions, including “murder in violation of the laws of war” for Speer’s death. In return, the Pentagon gave Khadr an eight-year sentence and chance to return to Canada.

Khadr later said he agreed to the plea deal as he believed it as his only way out of Guantanamo and has only vague recollections of the firefight.

Their case was similar to that of Syrian-born Canadian Maher Arar, who received an apology and $10.5 million from the federal government after a 2006 inquiry found that Canadian officials passed information about Arar to the U.S. and Syria, leading to his detention and torture.

Khadr was transferred from Guantanamo into Canadian custody in 2012 and released on bail in 2015. The Liberal government dropped the appeal of Khadr’s bail last year, breaking with its Conservative predecessor that fought to keep the Toronto-born captive behind bars.

He has lived a quiet life as a student in Edmonton since his release, only recently moving out of the Edney’s home into his own apartment.

But he is back with the Edneys this weekend recovering from a lengthy and complicated surgery last week to try to repair damage to his shoulder sustained in the firefight.

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Drugs, alcohol found in autopsy of Paris airport attacker

Police questioned and released relatives of a man shot dead at a Paris airport, as investigators continue to search for clues and an autopsy and toxicology tests found drugs and alcohol in his system.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said late on Saturday that the man, named as 39-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, had shouted he was there to “die for Allah” when he tried to seize the gun from a woman air force member on patrol at Orly airport on Saturday morning.

After throwing down a bag containing a can of petrol and putting an air pistol to the head of the soldier, he was shot three times by her colleagues.

More than 230 people have died in France in the past two years at the hands of attackers allied to the militant Islamic Islamist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). These include coordinated bombings and shootings in November 2015 in Paris when 130 people were killed and scores injured.

With the country in the throes of a highly charged election campaign before a two-round presidential election in April and May, the attacks fuelled the political debate about security.

Belgacem, who had been in and out of prison for theft and drug offences according to judicial sources, was already on the authorities’ radar. They said he became a radicalized Muslim when he served a prison term several years ago for drug-trafficking.


Emergency services arrive at Orly airport southern terminal after the incident. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

He had been reporting regularly to police under the terms of a provisional release from custody for theft and he did not have the right to leave the country.

Several hours before he was killed, Belgacem had shot and wounded a police officer with his air pistol after a routine traffic stop north of Paris before fleeing, officials said.

Later he entered a bar in Vitry-sur-Seine, on the other side of Paris about 10 kilometres from Orly, and opened fire with his air gun without hitting anyone. He also stole a car before arriving at the airport.

Regret after police stopped car

Belgacem’s father, who was initially detained by police but then released, denied his son had been involved in terrorism.

“My son has never been a terrorist. He has never prayed: he drinks. And, under the influence of alcohol and cannabis, this is what happens,” the father, whose name was not given, told Europe 1.

He said he had received a phone call from his son in which Belgacem referred to shooting the police officer, saying: “I ask your forgiveness. I screwed up with a policeman.”


Security forces enforced went into action after soldiers shot and killed a man who tried to seize the weapon of a fellow soldier. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

The Paris prosecutors’ office said toxicology tests conducted as part of an autopsy found traces of cocaine and cannabis in Belgacem’s blood.

He also had 0.93 grams of alcohol per litre of blood when he died Saturday, the prosecutors’ office said. The legal limit for alcohol while driving in France is 0.5 grams per litre.

A police search of his flat found cocaine, said Molins, the Paris prosecutor.

A brother and cousin of Belgacem were also questioned by police and then released on Sunday, the judicial source said.

‘Our government is overwhelmed,’ says Le Pen

Belgacem was born in Paris, according to the prosecutor. French media said his family was of Tunisian origin.

Presidential candidates responded swiftly to the incident.

Conservative François Fillon said that France was in a “situation of virtual civil war” and spoke out against a proposal to lift a state of emergency in place since the November 2015 attacks.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, running on an anti-immigration, anti-EU ticket, said the Orly attacker could have caused a “massacre.”

“Our government is overwhelmed, stunned, paralyzed like a rabbit in the headlights,” she told an election rally.

Last words of Paris attacker: I am here to die for Allah2:19

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