Racism fuels terrorism recruiting, says visiting French justice minister

Hopefully, Canadian ministers will listen to her words with an open mind and recognize that radicalization has also to be considered from a socio-economic, not just a security perspective:

The marginalization caused by racism has an alienating effect that makes people more vulnerable to terrorist recruiters, says France’s visiting justice minister.

Christiane Taubira knows of what she speaks: as France’s most prominent black politician, she has faced repeated public racist slurs in her country.

Taubira made it clear that she doesn’t see being discriminated against as an explanation or excuse for terrorism.

“I’m not sure I want to understand the causes of terrorism,” she said in an exclusive interview Thursday at the French Embassy in Ottawa. “Terror is terror, just absolute.”

But Taubira said there is a link between a young person being pushed to the margins of society and “how easy” that makes it for a terrorist to recruit them, especially using the Internet.

“Because it’s so easy for (terrorists) to say, ‘You will be very important because you will be very powerful, you will be able to kill, and afterwards you will be happy,’” she said.

“The link is there. It’s easy to convince young people that there is a better life in terrorism than in hoping in the society.”

Taubira said being on the receiving end of some vicious racist slurs has only made her stronger.

“It keeps me vigilant because I realize how violent a society is against so many people who are not as strong as I am. I’m strong because I’ve been fighting for a long time.”

She said this week’s appointment of Toronto’s first black police chief, Mark Saunders, carries the sort of symbolism that can give some young people a sense of hope. But she was quick to add: “I don’t want just one person on TV, one person in the government … I want equality for all.”

Taubira was on a visit to meet her federal counterparts in Ottawa, Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, and will travel to Montreal on Friday.

Racism fuels terrorism recruiting, says visiting French justice minister (paywall)

Blair urges officers to reach across cultural divisions in parting words as police chief

Despite all the controversies (G20, carding etc), good parting words on inclusion:

In his parting words as police chief, Bill Blair asked officers to reach across cultural divisions – including, perhaps, those that separate them from civilians.

“More than half the citizens of our city have chosen to come here,” Chief Blair, two days before ending his 10-year term, told hundreds of top-ranking Toronto Police Service officers at his retirement gala dinner on Thursday.

“The reason they’ve chosen to come here is because this is a place of inclusion,” he said. “It’s more than merely tolerance… it is an example to the world.”

Chief Blair was appointed in April 2005, the youngest-ever Toronto police chief at the time. After a career partly spent walking a beat in Regent Park, his term was marked by breaks with tradition. On the day of his appointment, he acknowledged publicly that racial profiling existed within the force. He went on to heavily recruit women and members of ethnic minorities.

Ten years later, Chief Blair is ending his policing career amid criticism related to racial profiling, as well as much praise over his wider work as chief. One of his last acts as chief was to negotiate future terms for a policy that has long angered Toronto’s black communities–“carding,” in which officers stop and question people who aren’t suspected of a crime.

He has said repeatedly that the practice, which many critics would like to see abolished, is a useful public safety tool.

But in Thursday’s speech, he also asked officers in general terms to understand others’ perspectives.

“Let us all be careful,” he said. “Let us be careful that we do not succumb to…those forces, that would divide us, those forces which would separate us, those forces that would make us afraid of each other.

“Let us always be careful to return to each other, to support each other, and to be that place of social cohesion and inclusion that we should all aspire to be,” he said. “Because that’s what makes the city of Toronto, the country of Canada, an extraordinary place.”

More should follow this example.

Blair urges officers to reach across cultural divisions in parting words as police chief – The Globe and Mail.

To suggest Ottawa targets charities violates a vital public trust – Griffiths’ Apologetics

Griffiths might have a case if the Government and CRA were transparent about the audits underway and the charities targeted. But without even acknowledging this lack of transparency on the Government’s part, his defence has no credibility and ironically mirrors those who only see a conspiracy by not seeing any cause for concern.

It is the Government’s rhetoric and handling of the audits that has damaged the public trust. Groups are simply exercising their democratic rights in raising legitimate concerns regarding the apparent selective choice of charities for audit. Sad:

Yet this we all know: some charities spend far more than 10 per cent of their revenues on political activities and do so flagrantly. This abuse of the public trust by a small group of charities is what Revenue Canada’s “political” audits is cracking down on, and rightly so. The assertion that groups with a “left,” or for that matter, a “right” political orientation are being disproportionally singled out by the Charities Directorate is nonsense. What Revenue Canada is doing is focusing its audits on charities that publicly engage in advocacy (on their websites, in publications, through events, etc.) to determine if they are violating the 10 per cent cap and/or are involved in prohibited activities. Don’t just take my word on it. The director-general of the Charities Directorate, a career public servant, has gone on the record to rule out ideological biases in the audit process: “We are not targeting charities that have particular political leanings.”

And now we get to the deeply damaging part of this debate. The inference, repeated over and over in the media, that Revenue Canada officials are following the political direction of Stephen Harper’s cabinet, right down to the specific charities being selected for “political” audits. Such a contention is oblivious to how the federal civil service actually operates vis-à-vis its political masters.

As is the case thousands of times every day across the government, public servants in the Charities Directorate are setting about interpreting and acting on how best to bring about a specific policy outcome set out by Parliament. In this instance, nothing more and nothing less than ensuring that political activities by the charitable sector are in line with the current law and policy. To obviate the public’s trust in this basic process of governance – especially on the part of a department whose work is as sensitive as Revenue Canada’s – through wild speculation is the height of civic irresponsibility. If there are facts to back up the allegation that Revenue Canada is being partisan or ideological in its auditing of charities then we do indeed have a serious problem; one worthy of a vigorous national debate. But absent such a bombshell we are harming the public’s legitimate belief in the independence and competency of the federal civil service.

The debate we should be having is how charities could be more active participants in public policy discussion and formation. Should we be raising the 10 per cent cap on political activities? Can “think tanks” by virtue of what they do be charities? Are the legal definitions of what is or is not a legitimate charitable purpose too prescriptive for 21st-century Canada? All important questions, the answers to which will most certainly not be found in more conspiratorial parsing of Revenue Canada’s audit of political activities in the charitable sector.

To suggest Ottawa targets charities violates a vital public trust – The Globe and Mail.

Minister Kenney issues statement on the passage of the Journey to Freedom Day Act – Vietnamese Diaspora Politics

More neutral and positive messaging than much of the anti-Communist focus of the Bill (Is the Divisive Bill on Vietnamese Refugees All About the Election?):

“The Journey to Freedom Day Act, which was introduced in the Senate in April 2014 by the Honourable Senator Thanh Hai Ngo, designates April 30 as a day to commemorate the thousands of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ Canada has welcomed since the end of the Vietnam War.

“Designating April 30 as an annual day of commemoration will give Canadians the opportunity to reflect on the journey of more than 60,000 Vietnamese refugees to Canada, to recognize the remarkable role Canadians played in helping them settle in their new home through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program, and to celebrate the contributions of Canadians of Vietnamese origin to our country.

“I encourage all Canadians to reflect on the heartbreaking and inspiring voyage of the Vietnamese boat people, which is an important part of our country’s history.”

Minister Kenney issues statement on the passage of the Journey to Freedom Day Act – Canada News Centre.

Harper government back in the middle of historic Turkey-Armenia dispute

Not an easy issue to stickhandle, given the Harper government’s strong public profile on the Armenian genocide. However, a full minister vs a junior minister sends the signal:

The Harper government is sending Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to Armenia to attend the commemoration of the 1915 massacre of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks. It’s a historic tragedy that Ottawa calls genocide, to the anger of Turkey.

Meanwhile, junior foreign affairs minister Lynne Yelich is off to Turkey to lead Canada’s delegation, including veterans of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, at ceremonies marking the centenary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign.

Canada’s position is noticed by both sides. The Conservatives have publicly endorsed the Armenian view that the 1915 slaughter of 1.5 million people was genocide. The label has strained relations between Canada and Turkey, which wants the Harper government to change its stand.

Armenia and Turkey both invited Gov. Gen. David Johnston to their events, but he chose to attend a Gallipoli ceremony at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa on Saturday.

Armenian ambassador Armen Yeganian said his government is more than pleased that a “high-level” representative from the Harper cabinet will be in Armenia.

From a diaspora politics perspective, the Armenian Canadian community is twice as large, more politically active and more established than the Turkish Canadian community.

Harper government back in the middle of historic Turkey-Armenia dispute – The Globe and Mail.

Parent group to put kids on strike to protest Ontario sex-ed

The multicultural defence against Ontario’s new sex education curriculum:

Omar Kasmieh, 35, one of the organizers of the strike, said some parents feel some of the subject matter does not reflect their culture or will be taught too early.

“There are a lot of parents coming from different backgrounds that don’t feel this is consistent with their beliefs,” he said. “There’s material that’s considered age inappropriate. … Canada is a multicultural society and they need to honour that.

“The hope is to for the ministry to realize that there are a significant number of parents who are not happy [with the curriculum].”

More than 4,500 people have liked the Facebook group’s page. Pictures of the flyers have accumulated about 1,800 likes and have been shared almost 2,500 times.

Mr. Kasmieh is a physician in Syria and is planning to get his medical license in Canada. This year, he will graduate from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. He said he believes the number of people who are unhappy is higher than the number who have liked the Facebook page because some don’t have access to social media.

He said parents who take their children out of school should instruct them at home so they don’t fall behind.

“We want kids to be educated in the public system, and pulling kids out of school for homeschooling isn’t a good option for parents. We trust our school system and know it’s the best environment for our kids, but parents are also educators and there should be more open dialogue,” Mr. Kasmieh said.

Some parents have said they don’t feel that the government included them in the conversation on how their children should be taught on the sensitive issue and that the program should not be implemented in September.

Mr. Kasmieh said the ministry should have prepared a briefing to the public on the new curriculum and released a draft.

The problem is that most parents behind such opposition likely are uncomfortable with any form of sex education. And of course parents can opt-out their kids out.

Multiculturalism can be used to justify accommodation (which opting out is one form) but cannot be used to impose the views of more traditional communities, or members of communities, on the broader population.

Parent group to put kids on strike to protest Ontario sex-ed – The Globe and Mail.

Terry Glavin: Canada’s unhappy affair with China’s princeling millionaires

Terry Glavin on the set-for-abuse investor immigrant program, cancelled by the Conservatives and refashioned to address some of the abuse (not convinced that the new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program will completely address some of these issues):

To give you a sense of how absurdly the taboo had throttled Canadian debates it’s instructive to recall the rubbish that was uttered when Harper finally got around to shutting it all down last year with a resolve to start from scratch. Vancouver MP Don Davies, the New Democrats’ international trade critic, accused the government of “damaging Canada’s economy and trade relationships.” Then there was Liberal warhorse John McCallum (Markham—Unionville): “Are Conservatives inadvertently picking on Chinese people?”

China’s massive Operation Skynet fraud squad is now rummaging through Vancouver’s real estate industry. British Columbia’s police agencies won’t say whether they’re cooperating, but even if they were it wouldn’t be easy work. Over its final decade or so, the Immigrant Investor Program drew more than 30,000 Chinese millionaires to British Columbia.

Just one of the unseemly costs of Ottawa’s wheel-greasing for Beijing’s princelings is a sum that might well amount to billions of dollars in no-interest loans that should have gone to British Columbia’s provincial treasury. Instead, the money got spent on thousands of back-door keys the Canada-Quebec Accord made available with a wink and a nod to Chinese millionaires bound for Vancouver, in transit through Montreal.

It says something unflattering all round that what we know now about Canada’s immigrant-investor courtship of Beijing’s princelings is mainly due to the courage and persistence of a single reporter

Contrast that with the marquee billing given to the gluttonous wastrel Mike Duffy, a senator facing criminal charges that may or may not involve the prime minister’s former chief of staff having improperly repaid the federal treasury for travel and living expenses that Duffy may or may not have improperly billed the taxpayer, to the amount of $90,000. It’s a gripping yarn and dozens of journalists are on the story, but it says something unflattering all round that what we know now about Canada’s immigrant-investor courtship of Beijing’s princelings is mainly due to the courage and persistence of a single reporter.

Ian Young, Vancouver correspondent for the South China Morning Post, has been almost alone in chasing down the immigrant investor scandal. It was Young who recently ferreted out the data demonstrating that Canada’s investor class immigrants, about 80 per cent of whom are Chinese millionaires, appear to have contributed less to the federal treasury over the past quarter of a century in tax on earnings than the bedraggled refugees Canada admitted over that period.

Nobody seems to even know where all these bigshot investors have gone. Surveys by the China Merchants Bank show that nearly a quarter of Mainland China’s millionaires had already emigrated by 2013, but vacancy rates in Vancouver’s posh new condo districts are perhaps 30 per cent. The city doesn’t keep track, but University of British Columbia geography professor David Ley has been tracing the relationship between the rise in Vancouver residential property prices and the influx of immigrant investors over the years. The lines run in direct lockstep.

Terry Glavin: Canada’s unhappy affair with China’s princeling millionaires

UK: Anjem Choudary claims all Muslim MPs and voters are ‘apostates’ sinning against Islam

Hardly representative of most Muslims in the UK, and sharp contrast to Canadian Imams who call for Muslims to vote (Ontario imams to urge Muslims vote in federal election):

Hard to know why someone like that remains in a liberal democracy rather than choosing to living in a Muslim majority country. But for ideologues and fundamentalists like him, no country will be “pure” enough in its application of Islamic practices:

Radical preacher Anjem Choudary has claimed that all Muslim MPs and voters are “apostates” as the general election approaches.

Writing on Twitter that voting is a “sin” against Islam, he argued that Parliament violated religious law because Allah is “the only legislator”.

Mr Choudary wrote: “The only excuse is for a new Muslim or someone totally ignorant about voting and also what’s known from Islam by necessity.”

In a stream of messages using the #StayMuslimDontVote hashtag, the cleric called Muslims who vote or run as an MP are “apostates”, meaning they have abandoned their beliefs.

Anyone doing so does not believe that Allah is the “only, exclusive legislator and commander” and is therefore a “kaafir” (disbeliever), he claimed.

Mr Choudary, who has headed banned groups including Islam4UK and al-Muhajiroun, instructed his followers not to follow any imams who tell them voting is religiously permitted.

It comes after his group released a series of videos as part of the campaign discouraging British Muslims from taking part in the democratic process, while other organisations encourage them to vote.

Anjem Choudary claims all Muslim MPs and voters are ‘apostates’ sinning against Islam – General Election 2015 – UK Politics – The Independent.

Clement: “I’m here also for the public servant who wants to work hard, who needs sick benefits when they are truly sick.”

Really?

When I was truly sick (cancer), I could use my bank of sick days (and it was considerable) as well as drawing upon discretionary sick leave for executives on full salary, before going on long-term disability at 70 percent salary.

So these and related changes impact upon those with catastrophic illnesses in a very material way, not just curbing abuse (of which there is some):

But the government doesn’t necessarily expect to realize the full $900 million in savings, Treasury Board President Tony Clement said Wednesday after the weekly Conservative caucus meeting.

“The budget is the budget, and the savings are the savings,” Clement said. “But there is some breathing room for me recognized in that calculation.”

The government has told civil service unions it expects to eliminate the system that allows public servants to bank sick days and carry them over from year to year.

Ottawa is hoping instead to provide short-term disability benefits through an insurance company.

Talks have been going on for the last year and are expected to last until at least June with 47 meeting days scheduled to take place, on top of the nearly 200 negotiating sessions that have been held so far.

Clement said he wants to bargain in good faith, even though the government is already counting the $900 million in savings from future sick leave liability toward its projected $1.4-billion surplus in 2015-16.

“They clearly want a Liberal or an NDP government to negotiate with, who will roll over and accept their positions,” Clement said of the unions with which he is bargaining.

“I’m here for the taxpayer,” he said. “I’m here also for the public servant who wants to work hard, who needs sick benefits when they are truly sick.”

Clement says public servants’ sick days an easy target for cuts (paywall)

Bernard Drainville se retire de la course

The coronation continues:

« J’y allais pour gagner. Ceux qui me connaissent savent que je joue pour gagner. Toujours. J’ai tout donné, comme mon équipe, mais il faut se rendre à l’évidence: dans les dernières semaines, le vote s’est cristallisé et Pierre-Karl a rassemblé une nette majorité derrière lui », a déclaré M. Drainville lors d’une conférence de presse mercredi après-midi. « Continuer la course en sachant cela n’aurait pas eu de sens. Pour continuer, y’aurait fallu mener une campagne très dure, trop dure. Il ne faut pas être trop égoïste là-dedans. Il faut penser à l’équipe, à notre parti et à la cause qu’on porte », a-t-il ajouté.

À ce moment-ci, cinq des sept députés ayant donné leur appui à sa candidature gagneront aussi le camp de M. Péladeau. Il s’agit de Sylvain Gaudreault (Jonquière), Alain Therrien (Sanguinet), Mathieu Traversy (Terrebonne), Sylvain Roy (Bonaventure) et Guy Leclair (Beauharnois) font partie du lot. Les députes d’Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Carole Poirier, et de Berthier, André Villeneuve, poursuivaient quant à eux leur réflexion mercredi après-midi.

La décision de Bernard Drainville suscite l’étonnement dans les rangs du PQ. L’élu de Marie-Victorin avait recommandé jeudi dernier aux militants péquistes de ne pas céder « à la tentation de s’accrocher à un sauveur », qui pourrait n’être qu’« un mirage », mais plutôt de choisir un chef capable de faire gagner le PQ « au jour un ». M. Drainville a ouvert trois jours plus tard (dimanche) un local de campagne dans l’arrondissement de Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve à Montréal. Pourtant, il songeait déjà à abandonner la course à la chefferie. Ses députés alliés ont été associés à sa réflexion lundi et mardi.

« J’ai rapidement réuni mon équipe et nous avons convenu que notre tâche pour la suite était de continuer à porter nos idées, tout en amorçant dès maintenant le rassemblement. J’ai rencontré Pierre-Karl et nous avons eu des discussions très franches et amicales pour éclaircir certaines questions et préparer la suite. Je dois dire que ça a porté ses fruits », a soutenu M. Drainville, accompagné de sa garde rapprochée.

Bernard Drainville se retire de la course | Le Devoir.

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