In the news today: Gazans vie for visas and Iranian student denied a study permit

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to
bring you up to speed on what you need to know today…

Families with relatives in Gaza vie for visas

Hundreds of families in Canada hoping to bring loved ones trapped in the Gaza Strip to safety will vie for a limited number of visas today.

Shaymaa Ziara poses for a photograph at her home in Markham, Ont., Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Shaymaa Ziara poses for a photograph at her home in Markham, Ont., Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Palestinian-Canadians have petitioned the federal government to allow their extended family members to escape the violence that has gripped the Palestinian territory since the conflict between Hamas and Israel began in October.

Canada’s existing program is available only to immediate family members of Canadians, including spouses and children.

The expansion will add parents, grandparents, adult children, grandchildren and siblings of Canadians and Canadian permanent residents, as well as their immediate family members.

Iranian student disputes security danger label

An Iranian man is challenging the federal government’s decision to deny him a permit to study at a Montreal university because he is considered a danger to the security of Canada.

A lawyer for Reza Jahantigh says his client was distraught upon learning of the refusal and will seek judicial review in Federal Court.

The Immigration Department’s decision last month is the latest indication Ottawa is tightening restrictions on academics deemed to pose a national security risk.

Jahantigh applied for a study permit in 2019 to pursue a PhD in computer engineering. He was left waiting and eventually pressed for the Federal Court to intervene and order the Immigration Department to make a decision.

That’s when a Canadian immigration office issued a letter saying the department had reasonable grounds to believe Jahantigh may be inadmissible to Canada under federal immigration law for “being a danger to the security of Canada.”

Lawyer Samin Mortazavi, who represents Jahantigh, says he has found no evidence the student’s activities pose any danger to Canada.

Complaint suggests that sustainable finance claims misleading

A climate advocacy group is asking securities regulators to investigate the use of terms like sustainable finance by Canada’s big five banks.

Investors for Paris Compliance says in its complaint that banks are potentially deceiving investors by claiming that the $2 trillion in sustainable finance pledges they’ve made will help them achieve climate goals.

The submission to the Ontario Securities Commission and Quebec’s securities regulator notes that terms like sustainable finance are too broad and that banks aren’t backing up the commitments with clear disclosures around how much the lending might affect emissions.

The group says there are several instances where, even as the financing is linked to sustainable targets, the money has helped companies increase their emissions.

Union says Indigo workers facing uphill battle

A few years after a handful of Indigo and Chapters stores unionized during the pandemic, their union says the retailer has made things increasingly difficult for workers.

Union representative Lesley Prince says workers at the Indigo store at Square One in Mississauga, Ont. recently voted in favour of a strike after bargaining since May.

Workers have picketed on multiple weekends outside the Chapters store at Kennedy Commons in Toronto’s Scarborough area after being told the location will close later this month.

Prince says the union is asking Indigo to provide extended benefits, better severance pay and store transfers to the workers affected by the closure.

Quebec soccer refs to wear cameras to stop abuse

A minor soccer association in Quebec’s Eastern Townships says it plans to start equipping referees with body cameras next season.

Martin Tremblay, the president of a minor soccer association in Windsor, Que., about 20 kilometres north of Sherbrooke, Que., says teenage referees are facing increasingly virulent comments from parents.

He says some referees had said they weren’t going to return next year because they were fed up with the abuse.

Tremblay says that startling next spring, one referee during each game organized by his association will wear a body camera.

He says he hopes the cameras will lead people to think twice about how they act toward young referees.

Quebec students play catch up, head back to class

Quebec public school students will be back in the classroom today after an end to labour strife that had kept some students at home since late November.

Major public-sector unions reached tentative deals with the provincial government days before the new year, though they still have to be ratified by members.

One of those unions — the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement, or FAE — went on an unlimited strike on Nov. 23, resulting in the closure of 800 schools for 22 days, keeping about 368,000 students home.

Education Minister Bernard Drainville will today unveil the Quebec government’s plan for students to make up for lost class time.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9th, 2024

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