Some hard truths no one wants to hear on refugees: Cohn | Toronto Star

An appropriate note of caution in terms of long-term trends:

In the rush to sponsor Syrians to Canada, relatively little is said about supporting the infrastructure of refugee processing handled by the UNHCR in countries bordering Syria. While it may generate fewer headlines at home, not enough thought is being given to the more affordable, sustainable, realistic (if less idealistic) alternative of funding camps closer to war zones, so that refugees can be repatriated more rapidly if those conflicts subside.

We need to open our hearts to the latest wave of Syrian refugees, but we also need to open our minds to what lies ahead. The crisis is unlikely to be temporary. It cannot be resolved with a few thousand more sponsorships and a few million more dollars, as important as those contributions are.

The federal Tories have missed the boat on the latest wave of boat people, but many well-intentioned do-gooder’s have been selling us a bill of goods about the refugee crisis. We need to start thinking about what comes next.

It is good to be principled, but we must also be practical. Mass migrations are at the intersection of war, geopolitics, economics, logistics and human smuggling. They defy easy answers. The reality is that refugee fatigue will set in anew, because the flood never ends — it merely fades from the front pages. What then?

Source: Some hard truths no one wants to hear on refugees: Cohn | Toronto Star

Jon Kay makes similar points:

The morally complex task of determining how many Syrians should be allowed to come to Canada must not be performed through the Tories’ usual practice of reciting jingoistic talking points and slogans. But it also cannot become a no-limit humanitarian bidding war. If we want to preserve the open and generous quality of Canadian society, we must balance our open hearts with hard heads.

Jonathan Kay: Even in face of tragedy, there’s no substitute for a seriously considered immigration policy

Adler won’t apologize for Holocaust reference

Questionable judgement. May be valid to note in a bio but on a sign?

Conservative candidate Mark Adler is defending a reference to the Holocaust on his campaign signage, which has led to claims that he’s exploiting an atrocity to win votes in the Toronto riding of York Centre.

A photo of one of Adler’s campaign signs has been making the rounds online; the sign makes the observation that he is “the son of a Holocaust survivor.” It caught the eye of The Walrus’ editor-in-chief Jonathan Kay, who posted photos of the sign on Twitter Sunday.

“Who needs Yad Vashem when Holocaust awareness is now being promoted on partisan Conservative signage?” Kay wrote on Twitter.

http://ipolitics.ca/2015/08/17/adler-wont-apologize-for-holocaust-reference/ (paywall)

As Robyn Urback notes:

The problem is that his message still only speaks to a proportion of his constituents, and it loses all tact when it’s blown up to 30-inch text. What’s more, with the spotlight now pointed in his direction, Adler’s other claims have become the subject of scrutiny, including his long-held assertion that he is the first Canadian MP born to Holocaust survivors. According to the Canadian Jewish News, the designation actually belongs to former Liberal MP Raymonde Falco. None of this really matters, of course, except maybe to show how easily experiences are cheapened when they’re turned into mere talking points.
I have no doubt that Adler didn’t intend to trivialize the experience of the Holocaust by using it for partisan gain, but that also doesn’t really matter. In politics, perception trumps intention, and in this case, the delivery was about as tactful as listing colitis on the “about me” section of a dating profile. The fact that your parents were viciously persecuted during the Second World War isn’t exactly on the same level as a pledge to keep the “economy strong,” which is why they look so strange sharing space on a campaign billboard. Some things simply do not lend themselves to bullet points.

Were your parents chased by Nazis? Vote Tory

I never felt the fact that my maternal grandparents were killed during the Holocaust made me more or less qualified to represent the Government at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Air travel and religion don’t always mix. Examples and Jon Kay commentary on El Al

Further to the Porter incident, useful list of other examples:

El Al

A more dramatic incident in 2014, aboard a flight from New York to Israel, drew attention to the challenges of accommodating some ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, who refuse to sit next to women to whom they are not married or otherwise related.

The El Al flight turned into an “11-hour nightmare,” according to one passenger, after a group of men, who had earlier tried to switch their seats with other passengers, reportedly stood up and blocked the aisle shortly after takeoff.

The Tel Aviv-based daily newspaper Haaretz had earlier reported that Orthodox Haredim were causing “a host of logistical problems” for the Israeli airline. But despite outcry at home and abroad, El Al said it has no official policy for dealing with religious seating requirements, and no plans to introduce one.

…Patting down priests

CBC News revealed last year that Canada Border Services Agency managers at Toronto’s Pearson airport allowed a small group of Hindu priests to avoid screening by female border guards to comply with their religious beliefs.

 

…Check your dagger, please

Kirpans, the ceremonial daggers that many Sikhs are required to carry, have been the focus of controversies across Canada — not the least of which was an outright ban by a Quebec school board that the Supreme Court overturned in 2006.

The daggers are allowed in some places that don’t permit weapons — including Parliament buildings and some courthouses — but don’t try to take one on a plane.

Kirpans are specifically mentioned by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority among the “religious and cultural items” that “should be packed in your checked baggage.” They are also banned by the Transportation Security Administration in the U.S.

Air travel and religion don’t always mix – World – CBC News.

Jon Kay on El Al:

There is a simple way to address such complaints from a Haredi passenger: Have the flight attendants (preferably women) throw him off the plane, give him back his money, and instruct him that he should instead travel to Israel on a mode of transportation more suited, in technological sophistication, to his primitive mindset — such as a canoe made from a hollowed out tree.

Of course, stories of Haredi sexual segregation of have been coming out of Israel for years now. In a move that would make Saudi Arabia proud, some Israeli communities even have sex-segregated busses. And some ultraorthodox communities practice a disgusting mouth-to-penis circumcision practice called Metzitza B’peh, which would be the subject of child-sex abuse charges here in North America if Muslims were doing it. Israeli society shouldn’t stand for such deplorable practices, but ultimately that is Israel’s business.

El Al, on the other hand, is a company that uses Canadian airports and flies hundreds of Canadian passengers to and from Israel every day. Putting aside the question of whether the episodes described above violate Canadian human-rights law, how does it look for Israel’s national flagship carrier to put on display, in front of rows of horrified passengers, the poisonous prejudices of the most narrow-minded constituency in Israeli society?

We are always told (by Stephen Harper and Benjamin Netanyahu alike) that Israel is a beacon of progressive thought, democracy and pluralism in a Middle East brimming with repressive, retrograde attitudes. And in general, that is true. But it seems to me like Elana Sztokman can be forgiven for feeling otherwise.

Jonathan Kay: On El Al’s planes, a case study in appalling sexism

Jonathan Kay: Jihad’s amateur hour

I think Jon Kay has it right:

In at least one case, the 9/11 masterminds apparently recruited, and then rejected, a jihadi because they lost confidence in his terrorist tradecraft: This was Zacarias Moussaoui, often referred to as “the 20th hijacker,” who reportedly met with KSM in Afghanistan in 2000. Examine Moussaoui’s methods, and you find that he was an infinitely more dangerous, methodical and sound-minded killer than Zehaf-Bibeau.

There’s the fact that lies at the heart of my optimism: Today’s most deadly domestic terrorists do not even rise to the level of yesterday’s al-Qaeda rejects. Just because we use the same broad term — terrorist — to cover both species of killer, doesn’t mean that the threat they pose is comparable within even several orders of magnitude.

AA Flight 11 hijacker-pilot Mohammed Atta stares out at the world from photos like a sort of robotic jihadi Terminator. He did not give fiery public speeches, or offer lurid manifestos, or seek social approval. All he wanted to do was kill and die. And it seems highly unlikely that the lone wolves who try to follow his example will — even taken collectively — ever inflict a significant fraction of the death and destruction meted out on September 11, 2001.

Jonathan Kay: Jihad’s amateur hour

Ezra Levant, Sun News Network host, ordered to pay $80,000 in libel case

Accountability. Words (and facts) matter:

But [Judge) Matheson found that at trial, Levant “repeatedly tried to minimize his mistakes and his lack of diligence.”

“The defendant makes a general assertion that none of the words complained of were defamatory due to the defendants reputation,” she wrote. “There is, however, ample evidence before me demonstrating express malice on the part of the defendant.”

Levant also appeared to have little regard for the facts, Matheson found.

“He did little or no fact-checking regarding the posts complained of, either before or after their publication….and with one exception, when he learned that he got his facts wrong, he made no corrections,” she wrote.

The fact that Levant himself is a lawyer ought to have made him aware of the “serious ramifications” of his words on Awan’s reputation, Matheson added.

“Yet, at trial, he repeatedly tried to minimize his mistakes and his lack of diligence,” she wrote.

Levant, meanwhile, wrote on his website that he is reviewing the ruling with his lawyer but plans to appeal “all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

He called the ruling a “shocking case of libel chill” and asked supporters to help him foot the bill for his appeal, which he estimates will cost at least $30,000.

Ezra Levant, Sun News Network host, ordered to pay $80,000 in libel case – Canada – CBC News.

And Jon Kay on Ezra’s ‘business model’ of serial slander:

Jonathan Kay: The weirdest thing about Ezra Levant is he still thinks he’s right

Radicalization and the Ottawa Shooting: Weekend Commentary

Weekend news and commentary I found relevant and interesting.

Consistent messaging from a number of political figures and media commentators on the need for more than security approaches in combatting radicalization. Premiers Wynne and Couillard stress the community and societal aspects in Curbing radicalization a community issue: Wynne |  Toronto Sun.

A great deal of speculation on what measures the Government may be considering (beyond the already announced increase in CSIS powers), ranging from Online hate speech could be curtailed under new anti-terror push (ironic, given the Government’s removal of online hate speech from the Canadian Human Rights Act, and to strip the federal human rights commission’s power to investigate such complaints) to greater use of preventive detention in Tories hint at even tougher anti-terror laws. John Ivison thinks the template will be the UK in  Conservatives’ new anti-terror laws likely to mirror ‘immensely controversial’ U.K. legislation.

Stephen Maher sounds a note of caution, considering the Government’s record on privacy, oversight, and transparency, in Harper government’s intelligence agenda a cause for worry.

Interestingly, Benjamin Perrin, formerly of PMO, argues that existing laws are adequate (including the proposed additions to CSIS’ powers)in Our laws are up to the homegrown terror threat, and Ian Brodie, former chief of staff to PM Harper, advocates for an all-party non-partisan approach to improving security on Parliament Hill in Ian Brodie: There is no reason to turn Parliament Hill into an armed fortress.

And as the debate starts, Scott Reid notes that We’ve seen MPs unite, now we need them to be divided to ensure a full discussion and debate about the appropriate responses to the attacks.

Jon Kay discusses how the immediacy of video heightens fear in Did attack on Parliament really change our lives forever? even if incidents and risk are relatively low.

Doug Saunders explores the grey line between ideology and pathology in The lone wolf: Is it ideology or pathology? with both Islamic-inspired and other extremism examples. Margaret Wente dismisses arguments over blowback over intervention in What do we do about the Islamic State fanboys? without the nuance of Saunders with respect to ideology and pathology. Andrew Coyne takes a similar talk, with more nuance, and makes the valid point that We got off relatively lightly this time. We may not be so lucky the next.

Some nice commentary contrasting restrained Canadian and hyperventilated US coverage of the attacks by Dean Obeidallah in To US media Canadian shooter being Muslim ends investigation.

Douglas Todd reports on the Burnaby Mosque which essentially expelled Zahaf-Bibeau given his intolerant views in Is Burnaby mosque a victim of its own openness?

And while there have been a few incidents against Muslims (Islamophobia: the ugly side of the municipal election?), there has also been support for those Muslims or Muslim institutions (Volunteers help clean vandalism from Cold Lake mosque). And within the Muslim community, some strong messages against radicalization during Ottawa Friday prayers The Roots of Radicalizaton and the Education to Prevent It among others.

More Ottawa Shooting Commentary

Further to yesterday’s round-up of the recent shootings, more of the better commentary or more interesting commentary that has crossed my eye.

Wesley Wark: Reducing the risk of terrorism provides a sober assessment of the ongoing risks and the need neither to over or under act, but learn the lessons from any failures and gaps in security.

In the theme of let’s not get carried away, André Pratte in La réponse and Stephen Maher Time to reflect on the courage of our ancestors remind us to have balance and perspective. Doug Saunders notes how the public space around parliaments the world over has been whittled down by successive security threats in Don’t let the seat of government become a fortress.

On the other side, Journal de Montréal’s Richard Martineau is characteristically alarmist in Terrorisme: appelons les choses par leur nom.

More on the common elements to the two most recent cases of radicalization, Martin Couture-Rouleau  and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau:

Martin Couture-Rouleau et Michael Zehaf-Bibeau partagent plusieurs points en commun : ils étaient jeunes (25 ans et 32 ans), ils s’étaient récemment convertis à l’islam radical, la GRC avait confisqué leur passeport par crainte qu’ils rejoignent le groupe État islamique, et ils auraient agi tels des « loups solitaires ».

Pour les autorités policières, c’est le cauchemar. Les deux jeunes ont agi de leur propre chef, sans même avoir été initiés au combat par des groupes extrémistes à l’étranger. Ils sont difficiles à repérer et à neutraliser.

Un loup solitaire aux motivations inconnues

And further details about the troubled life of the shooter, Zehaf-Bibeau in the Globe in Drugs and religion key themes in Ottawa shooter’s troubled life and in the Post in Details of Zehaf-Bibeau’s life paint picture of a man derailed by homelessness, crime and addiction, detailing his drug addiction, quarrelsome personality and his failed efforts to use his faith to control both.

Canadian Muslims are quick to respond and express outrage in Canadian Muslims denounce recent attacks, fear backlash.

Matt Gurney challenges the military’s decision in Canadian soldiers don’t hide in their own damn country — rescind the order to not wear uniforms in public.

Barbara Kay covers a different angle in The unique anguish of a terrorist’s mother:

If it is inevitable, why feel guilty about these “bad seeds”? And yet, inevitably, parents do. Our sympathetic embrace for the real victims should therefore be wide enough to include their murderers’ collateral damage.

A great deal of favourable commentary on Parliament yesterday, how each leader struck the right tone, the hugs of support, and the deserved standing ovation for Sergeant-at-Arms Vickers starting with Jeffrey Simpson in Tribute, solidarity and back to politics (with some barbs at the difference between Government rhetoric and funding).

Jonathan Kay noted the contrast between this time and 30 years ago, when the then Sergeant-at-Arms was able to talk armed Denis Lortie into surrendering in Two Sergeants-at-Arms, two kinds of heroism.

Rick Salutin, similarly praises Kevin Vickers, but provocatively, and accurately, rubbishes the idea of Canadian innocence in We didn’t lose our innocence. We never had it.

Andrew Coyne, perceptively noted the nuances in the various positions and how that hopefully portended more serious political dialogue and debate in Politics weren’t put aside during the Ottawa hug-out, they were just made over for the occasion:

For Mr. Harper, it was “to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home,” as well as “to work with our allies” in the fight against “the terrorist organizations” abroad who hope “to bring their savagery to our shores.” For Mr. Mulcair, it was “our commitment to each other and to a peaceful world.” For Mr. Trudeau, it was “staying true to our values” of “fairness, justice and the rule of law.”

“We will not be intimidated,” Mr. Harper vowed. “That is not going to happen,” Mr. Mulcair seconded. “We will not be intimidated into changing that,” Mr. Trudeau agreed. But they meant very different things.

And the still and video images of the citizens of Ottawa paying their tribute to fallen soldier Nathan Cirillo (as well as the accounts of those who tried to save him in ‘You’re breathing — keep breathing’), as well as to democratic values, were moving.

 

Jonathan Kay: On El Al’s planes, a case study in appalling sexism

Jon Kay, continuing on an earlier theme against the Haredim (Jonathan Kay: Shariah with a Jewish face | National Post):

Of course, stories of Haredi sexual segregation of have been coming out of Israel for years now. In a move that would make Saudi Arabia proud, some Israeli communities even have sex-segregated busses. And some ultraorthodox communities practice a disgusting mouth-to-penis circumcision practice called Metzitza B’peh, which would be the subject of child-sex abuse charges here in North America if Muslims were doing it. Israeli society shouldn’t stand for such deplorable practices, but ultimately that is Israel’s business.

El Al, on the other hand, is a company that uses Canadian airports and flies hundreds of Canadian passengers to and from Israel every day. Putting aside the question of whether the episodes described above violate Canadian human-rights law, how does it look for Israel’s national flagship carrier to put on display, in front of rows of horrified passengers, the poisonous prejudices of the most narrow-minded constituency in Israeli society?

We are always told (by Stephen Harper and Benjamin Netanyahu alike) that Israel is a beacon of progressive thought, democracy and pluralism in a Middle East brimming with repressive, retrograde attitudes. And in general, that is true. But it seems to me like Elana Sztokman can be forgiven for feeling otherwise.

Jonathan Kay: On El Al’s planes, a case study in appalling sexism

Jonathan Kay: The one place in Canada where racism is still tolerated: native reserves

Jon Kay tackles the thorny integration vs accommodation issue with respect to First Nation reserves:

On the other hand, let’s give the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake their due, shall we? In the modern context, what is the point of the reserve system except to give natives a space that provides them with a measure of autonomy and cultural “authenticity”? Having embraced the notion that one’s bloodline dictates ones rights a notion dismissed as racist in every other context of public discussion and policy formation, Canadian liberals have been forced to accept its noxious corollary — which is that the presence of white people in the midst of reserves comprises a sort of cultural pollutant.

This is the reason politicians and public figures are so loathe to take a strong stand against the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and other native groups that strike militant postures on behalf of native identity: Such criticisms implicitly strike at the very heart of the utopian liberal notion that natives flourish best among their own, in protected, demographically homogenous enclaves that are geographically rooted in their traditional lands.

In every other context, Canadian liberals zealously embrace the idea of diversity and multiculturalism. In liberal cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, the sight of people of every skin colour living side by side, including as husband and wife, is taken as a neighbourhood’s badge of enlightenment. But if the neighbourhood happens to be a native reserve, the exact opposite premise holds sway: Run whitey out of town.

Eventually, Canadians are going to have to make up their mind on the diversity-versus-segregation question. It’s simply untenable to say that while the United Colors of Benetton are ideal for whites, natives should be free to construct miniature societies based on racist principles that were decisively rejected by Abolitionists two centuries ago. It’s an embarrassment to Canadian values and a cruelty upon those natives who have committed no crime except to fall in love with someone of a different skin colour.

Lawrence Hill in his Massey Lectures in Blood picks up a similar theme from an identity perspective (see Blood by Lawrence Hill):

Jonathan Kay: The one place in Canada where racism is still tolerated: native reserves

Jon Kay: Canadian Human Rights Commission must establish a special human-rights tribunal to address human-rights complaints pertaining to the presentation of human-rights issues at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights

Funny and ironic piece by Jonathan Kay who captures some of the absurdity of  identity politics and the criticism regarding the Canadian Museum for Human Rights:

The response of Canadian identity groups to the museum overall is perhaps best epitomized by a statement put out by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress last year, complaining that the museum’s treatment of Stalin’s forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians was fatally undercut by the fact that a panel on the subject was located too close to the public toilets. (Whose exhibit should be closest to the toilets? The Rwandans? The Cambodians? The Armenians? The Ukrainian Canadian Congress hasn’t told us.)

…If the true goal of the Canadians Museum of Human Rights is to create a “national hub for human rights learning and discovery,” shouldn’t visitors to the museum not be able to file a human rights complaint at the museum itself?

The museum boasts of providing visitors with “an immersive, interactive experience that offers both the inspiration and tools to make a difference in the lives of others.” What could be more “interactive” than a special in-museum kiosque that invited visitor to sue the museum itself under applicable Canadian human rights law?

In special circumstances, visitors to the museum might even be permitted to sue each other — Indians versus “wealthy children of settlers,” and Jews vs. Ukrainians, for instance. Following on the 2013 Ukrainian-Canadian protest described above, human-rights complainants at the museum might also seek injunctive relief to prevent fellow museum-goers from using the bathrooms. Where human rights are at stake, no remedy should be off-limits.

In time, the number of successful human-rights claims against the Canadian Museum of Human Rights might become so enormous that these cases would, themselves, become the subject of an entirely new museum — the Canadian Human Rights Museum-Related Human Rights Museum. And since this, too, would be built on “stolen land,” and would necessarily include some cases and exclude others, the cycle of human rights violation, complaint, litigation and resolution would be guaranteed to blossom anew.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission must establish a special human-rights tribunal to address human-rights complaints pertaining to the presentation of human-rights issues at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights