Canada’s plan to bring in hundreds of Yazidi genocide survivors hailed by refugees

CBC News reports: Canada’s promise to resettle hundreds of Yazidis by the end of the year is being welcomed in Iraq, where Yazidi women and girls have endured horrific abuse and persecution at the hands of ISIS.

Among those who have greeted the news with open arms is Saud Khalid, who was kidnapped by ISIS in August 2014 and sold as a sex slave three times before escaping after a year in captivity.

UN officials recently interviewed the 23-year-old about going to Canada and she’s hoping she and her young son will be among the 1,200 Yazidis and other ISIS survivors accepted by the Liberal government.

“We wish to go and live in Canada because here our situation is not good in general,” she said through a translator on Wednesday. “We live in bad conditions and we want to go.

“If they take me to Canada, I will never come back. And my hope is if my relatives still being held by ISIS, if they escape, I want them to also join me in Canada.” [Continue reading…]

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Canada’s Trudeau tells EU: the world needs you

Reuters reports: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the European Union on Thursday as an unprecedented model for peaceful cooperation, in a speech to EU lawmakers that contrasted sharply with the critical stance of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Speaking to the European Parliament a day after it backed a comprehensive free trade deal between Canada and the EU known as CETA, Trudeau said the 28-nation bloc had a crucial global role to play.

By contrast, Trump has questioned the value and future of the EU and has applauded Britain’s shock decision to leave it. [Continue reading…]

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How Canada established its dominance above the United States

 

It’s reasonable to assume that Trump planted his daughter in his seat (he’s already thinking about the Trump dynasty):


But who placed Ivanka next to Trudeau at the conference table? I’ll bet she did.

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Refugees crossing into Canada from U.S. on foot despite freezing temperatures

The Guardian reports: A growing number of asylum seekers are braving freezing cold temperatures to walk into Canada from the US, driven by fears of what Donald Trump’s presidency will mean for refugees, advocates say.

Last week, amid the chaos and uncertainty triggered by Trump’s travel ban, one agency dedicated to resettling refugees and immigrants opened an unprecedented 10 refugee claims in one day. Eight of the claimants had walked into Canada in order to avoid detection by border officials.

On Tuesday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said another 22 people had walked across the border and into Canada over the weekend; 19 of them on Saturday and three on Sunday.

“They’re not crossing at the actual point where there’s an immigration and customs offices,” said Rita Chahal of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council. “They’re walking through prairie fields with lots and lots of deep snow. In Europe we’re seeing people in boats; now just imagine a prairie flatland and snow for miles and miles.” [Continue reading…]

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Trump, Le Pen and the ideas more dangerous than bullets that were planted in the mind of the Quebec City killer

CBC News published a transcript of Imam Hassan Guillet’s English address to the Quebec City convention centre during the funeral for three of the six victims of Sunday night’s mosque shooting, in which he said: Khaled, Aboubaker, Abdelkrim, Azzedine, Mamadou and Ibrahima they selected the place they wanted to live in. They selected the society they wanted to be their society.

They selected with whom they wanted their children to grow. And it was Canada. It was Quebec. It was the city of Quebec in the same way they selected Quebec.

They chose Quebec to live in, and they chose the Canadian passport.

It is up to the society to choose them the same way they have chosen this society.

They had their dream to send their kids to school, to buy a house, to have a business and we have to continue their dreams. We have to continue their dreams the same way they extended their hands to the others. It is up to others to extend their hands toward them.

Now unfortunately, it is a little bit late. But not too late.

The society that could not protect them, the society that could not benefit from their generosity still has a chance. The hands that didn’t shake the hands of Khaled or Aboubaker or Abdelkrim or Azzedine or Mamadou or Ibrahima, that society can shake the hands of their kids.

We have 17 orphans. We have six widows. We have five wounded.

We ask Allah for them to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible.

Did I go through the complete list of victims? No.

There is one victim. None of us want talk about him.

But given my age, I have the courage to say it. This victim, his name is Alexandre Bissonnette.

Alexandre, before being a killer he was a victim himself. Before planting his bullets in the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas more dangerous than the bullets in his head.

This little kid didn’t wake up in the morning and say ‘Hey guys instead of going to have a picnic or watching the Canadiens, I will go kill some people in the mosque.’ It doesn’t happen that way.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, certain politicians unfortunately, and certain reporters unfortunately, and certain media were poisoning our atmosphere. [Continue reading…]

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Canada, leading the free world

Nicholas Kristof writes: President Trump’s harsh travel ban reflects a global pattern: All around the world, countries are slamming the doors shut.

One great exception: Canada. It may now be the finest example of the values of the Statue of Liberty.

This isn’t just because Canadian leaders are particularly enlightened, although there’s some of that. It’s mostly because the Canadian people themselves remain astonishingly hospitable, with many groups clamoring for more Syrian refugees.

“Thank you, Canada,” Omar al-Omar, a Syrian who was shot at age 15 as the war started, said to me at a center here where refugees are getting lessons in English and in Canadian habits, such as excruciating politeness. “I’m very happy. I feel welcome.” [Continue reading…]

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Canadian scientists were followed, threatened and censored. They warn that Trump could do the same

Avi Selk writes: The Environmental Protection Agency’s once-prolific Twitter account has not stirred since Inauguration Day. Neither has its blog, where staff used to write often about the agency’s research, regulations and “Why Science Matters” — as one of the last entries put it.

Both have been dark since President Trump took over the White House, not long after telling a reporter “nobody really knows” whether Earth’s climate is changing. His administration almost immediately moved to restrict scientific departments across the federal government from talking to the media and the public.

White House officials have denied trying to censor public research bodies. Their counterparts in Canada denied the same several years ago — as scientists in that country reported that government minders were following them around, listening in on them and threatening them for speaking out of turn in public.

Now, some who worked in government during former prime minister Stephen Harper’s years in power are warning Americans to expect their own regime of censored science.

“In Harper’s era, it was open warfare with the media,” Max Bothwell, an environmental scientist for the Canadian government, told Smithsonian Magazine. “I suspect something similar is about to happen in the U.S.”

Bothwell, who specializes in the seemingly apolitical study of rock algae, told the outlet about a local radio station’s request to interview him in 2013.

He said he had to ask permission through an array of “media control” bureaucrats that Harper had installed.

He got it, under one condition: “Unbeknownst to the Canadian radio listeners, the media control staffers would be listening in on the phone line, as well,” Smithsonian wrote. Bothwell refused. [Continue reading…]

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U.S. allies draw close to Trump at their peril

The New York Times reports: A close relationship with any American president is regarded as crucial by allies and foes alike, but especially by intimates like Britain, Canada, Japan and Mexico. Yet like moths to the flame, the leaders of those nations are finding that they draw close at their peril.

While [Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa] May is the latest prominent figure to suffer repercussions for her handling of Mr. Trump, the leaders of those other three close allies have also felt the sting of public anger soon after what seemed to be friendly telephone calls or encounters. They then find themselves facing a no-win situation, either openly criticizing the leader of their superpower ally or pulling their punches and risking severe criticism at home.

One Western leader to escape this fate so far is the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has kept a cool distance from Mr. Trump. In a telephone call on Saturday, she reminded him of Washington’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions to accept refugees fleeing war, a view underlined by her official spokesman.

The danger of playing nice with Mr. Trump should come as little surprise to his country’s allies. Besides campaigning on an “America First” platform, he has regularly argued that allies have been taking the United States for a ride, in trade, security and financial terms.

While he has been cordial in public settings with the leaders of those allied nations, Mr. Trump has turned on them soon afterward.

“The problem for May is that Trump doesn’t value relationships. He values strength and winning,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the director of research at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former senior State Department official. “If you rush to the White House to offer a weak hand of friendship, you guarantee exploitation.” [Continue reading…]

Paul Mason writes: We have two choices: we can acquiesce and let this sociopathic sex pest grab our collective hand amid the scary world he has created. We can abase ourselves for special favours – such as exemption for British dual nationals. Or we can reject Trump in his entirety.

Just as Trump is meddling – via Ukip – in the racial politics of Britain, British liberalism and socialism has the duty now to intervene in the social politics of the US. We must bet on Trump’s defeat in 2020, help train and fund lawyers and journalists to hold him in check, and – once he is gone – attempt to rebuild the multilateral order. Yes, and ruin his state visit: through all forms of protest legally possible.

The shape of a Dump Trump foreign policy is clear: Britain must strengthen its alliance with countries whose governments and peoples share our values: France, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada and Greece. Although we are headed out of the EU, the case for the softest possible form of Brexit is only strengthened by the US’s descent into arbitrary government. [Continue reading…]

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Donald Trump’s role in the Quebec City massacre

Donald Trump has consistently identified Muslims as perpetrators of terrorism rather than victims of terrorism — despite the fact that by vast numbers the victims of terrorism are indeed overwhelmingly Muslims.

Trump has relentlessly fueled Islamophobia and insisted that the key to combating terrorism is to label it Islamic.

Trump chose as his closest national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who has described Islam as a cancer.

Trump just signed an executive order that singles out 200,000 Muslims as a potential threat to America.

Shortly after Trump signed this order, Alexandre Bissonnette, a vocal Trump supporter, known for his online attacks on refugees, went to a Quebec City mosque and carried out a mass shooting, killing six people and injuring 19 others.

As The Globe and Mail reports:

The suspect in the deadly attack on a Quebec City mosque was known in the city’s activist circles as an online troll who was inspired by extreme right-wing French nationalists, stood up for U.S. President Donald Trump and was against immigration to Quebec – especially by Muslims.

To fail to draw a connection between Trump’s campaign rhetoric, his choice of advisers, his executive order targeting Muslims and Bissonnette’s murderous rampage would be absurd.

In the hostile climate Trump has helped cultivate, there have been anti-mosque incidents in at least 41 states.

Within hours of Trump signing the executive order a mosque in Texas went up in flames.

The massacre in Canada could just as easily have happened in the United States. Indeed, the risk of a similar attack is so great that it seems less a case of if than when.

Donald Trump has promised to make America safe and yet through his words and actions has already done enough to suggest that the stable of Trump brands will sooner or later acquire one that he will vociferously disavow as a slur on his name: Trump terrorism.

That is not to suggest that Trump actually wants anyone to engage in acts of terrorism.

At the same time and for the same reasons as Alex Massie spelled out after Jo Cox’s murder in Britain last June, those who fuel anger cannot absolves themselves of responsibility for what follows:

When you encourage rage you cannot then feign surprise when people become enraged. You cannot turn around and say, ‘Mate, you weren’t supposed to take it so seriously. It’s just a game, just a ploy, a strategy for winning votes.’

When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks. When you present politics as a matter of life and death, as a question of national survival, don’t be surprised if someone takes you at your word. You didn’t make them do it, no, but you didn’t do much to stop it either.

Sometimes rhetoric has consequences. If you spend days, weeks, months, years telling people they are under threat, that their country has been stolen from them, that they have been betrayed and sold down the river, that their birthright has been pilfered, that their problem is they’re too slow to realise any of this is happening, that their problem is they’re not sufficiently mad as hell, then at some point, in some place, something or someone is going to snap. And then something terrible is going to happen.

Trump’s biggest lie is to promote the myth that the greatest threats to American lives reside outside this country’s borders.

Right now the very opposite is true as the most incendiary catalyst of violence sits in the Oval Office.

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Quebec City mosque attack suspect known for right-wing online posts and support of Trump

The Globe and Mail reports: The suspect in the deadly attack on a Quebec City mosque was known in the city’s activist circles as a right-wing troll who frequently took anti-foreigner and anti-feminist positions and stood up for U.S. President Donald Trump.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, a student at Laval University who lived on a quiet crescent in the Cap-Rouge suburb of Quebec City, faces six counts of first-degree murder for a shooting that killed six people and wounded 19 others. Police initially arrested a person they considered a second suspect but they later backtracked, saying he was a witness.

Mr. Bissonnette’s online profile and school friendships revealed little interest in extremist politics until last March when French nationalist leader Marine Le Pen visited Quebec City and inspired Mr. Bissonnette to vocal extreme online activism, according to people who clashed with him.

Vincent Boissoneault, a student in international relations at Laval University, grew up with Mr. Bissonnette and was friends with him on Facebook. He said they frequently clashed on politics when Mr. Bissonnette attacked refugees or expressed support for Ms. Le Pen or Mr. Trump. [Continue reading…]

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Quebec City gunman ‘likes’ Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and the Israel Defense Forces

The gunman accused of killing six people and wounding eight others in what Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described as a “terrorist attack on Muslims” at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday night, has been identified as Alexandre Bissonnette. He has been arrested and is being questioned by the Quebec Provincial Police.

Bissonnette’s motives for the attack remain unknown but there are clues about his political leanings from his Facebook page. This much appears indisputable: his hatred of Muslims.

Heavy reports: Bissonnette likes the Facebook pages of U.S. President Donald Trump and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, but he does not express support for them elsewhere on his page. Other likes include the Israel Defense Forces, United With Israel and Parti Québécois of Université Laval.

He also likes U.S. Senator John McCain, a moderate Republican who has opposed Trump on some issues, President George W. Bush, the Canadian New Democratic Party and late Canadian politician Jack Layton, who was a leader of the left-wing NDP, so the likes do not shed much light on Bissonnette’s beliefs. [Continue reading…]

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Is Canada’s minister of immigration also banned from visiting the U.S.?

The Toronto Star reported on January 10: In 2004, Ahmed Hussen was proclaimed a “Person to Watch” in the country’s biggest city for his community work in Regent Park. He told the Star at the time: “I don’t think I could handle the life of a politician . . . I don’t want to be front and centre.”

Flash forward to Tuesday, and there was Hussen, front and slightly to the right, swearing an oath to serve the Queen in front of a cluster of clicking cameras as he officially joined the reshuffled Liberal cabinet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The rookie MP for York-South Weston has leapt from the backbench of the party to become Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, a position made all the more noteworthy for Hussen’s own story. He came to this country as a refugee from war-torn Somalia, settling on his own in a foreign land as a 16-year-old in 1993.

Just hours after formally assuming his new post, Hussen — who has been a lawyer, human rights advocate and community activist — said the trajectory of his life would affect how he approaches the job, just like it would for anyone else.

“I am extremely proud of our country’s history as a place of asylum, a place that opens its doors and hearts to new immigrants and refugees, and I’m especially proud today to be the minister in charge of that file,” Hussen told reporters outside the House of Commons on Tuesday. [Continue reading…]

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U.S. border agents interrogate visitors entering from Canada and turn away critics of Trump

The Guardian reports: Would-be protesters heading to the Women’s March on Washington have said they were denied entry to the United States after telling border agents at a land crossing in Quebec their plans to attend the march.

Montrealer Sasha Dyck was part of a group of eight who had arranged online to travel together to Washington. Divided into two cars, the group – six Canadians and two French nationals – arrived at the border crossing that connects St Bernard de Lacolle in Quebec with Champlain, New York, on Thursday.

The group was upfront about their plans with border agents, Dyck said. “We said we were going to the women’s march on Saturday and they said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to pull over’.”

What followed was a two-hour ordeal. Their cars were searched and their mobile phones examined. Each member of the group was fingerprinted and had their photo taken.

Border agents first told the two French citizens that they had been denied entry to the US and informed them that any future visit to the US would now require a visa.

“Then for the rest of us, they said, ‘You’re headed home today’,” Dyck said. The group was also warned that if they tried to cross the border again during the weekend, they would be arrested. “And that was it, they didn’t give a lot of justification.” [Continue reading…]

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Canada is the least xenophobic country in the Western world. Here’s why

Zack Beauchamp writes: While most of the Western world is seeing a surge in nativism and Islamophobia, the Canadian government has become more and more open to minority groups and immigration.

“The only real outlier [to the nativist trend] is Canada,” Cas Mudde, a professor at the University of Georgia who studies nativism and far-right politics in Europe, tells me. He continues:

[Trudeau] has handled, so far, the Syrian refugee crisis incredibly well, having taken in 25,000 Syrian refugees against the majority will. Initially, he wasn’t supported by the majority — but when they finally arrived, a majority of Canadians did support it. That’s one of the few encouraging lessons that we have seen over the last several years: that if you have a positive campaign, which is supported by a large portion of the media, that you can actually swing public opinion in a positive direction.

Why? It’s because Canada is genuinely different from other Western countries in terms of its attitude toward immigrants. It’s far more welcoming than basically everywhere else.

“Compared to the citizens of other developed immigrant-receiving countries, Canadians are by far the most open to and optimistic about immigration,” Irene Bloemraad, a sociologist at UC Berkeley and its chair of Canadian studies, wrote in a 2012 study published by the Migration Policy Institute.

“In one comparative poll, only 27 percent of those surveyed in Canada agreed that immigration represented more of a problem than an opportunity. In the country that came closest to Canadian opinion, France, the perception of immigration as a problem was significantly higher, at 42 percent.”

Why? According to Bloemraad, the Canadian government has spent decades attempting to foster tolerance and acceptance as core national values, through policies aimed at integrating immigrants and minority groups without stripping them of their group identity. [Continue reading…]

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Fort McMurray and the fires of climate change

Elizabeth Kolbert writes: No one knows exactly how the fire began — whether it was started by a lightning strike or by a spark provided by a person — but it’s clear why the blaze, once under way, raged out of control so quickly. Alberta experienced an unusually dry and warm winter. Precipitation was low, about half of the norm, and what snow there was melted early. April was exceptionally mild, with temperatures regularly in the seventies; two days ago, the thermometer hit ninety, which is about thirty degrees higher than the region’s normal May maximum. “You hate to use the ​cliché, but it really was kind of a perfect storm,” Mike Wotton, a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, told the CBC.

Though it’s tough to pin any particular disaster on climate change, in the case of Fort McMurray the link is pretty compelling. In Canada, and also in the United States and much of the rest of the world, higher temperatures have been extending the wildfire season. Last year, wildfires consumed ten million acres in the U.S., which was the largest area of any year on record. All of the top five years occurred in the past decade. In some areas, “we now have year-round fire seasons,” Matt Jolly, a research ecologist for the United States Forest Service, recently told the Times.

“You can say it couldn’t get worse,” Jolly added, but based on its own projections, the forest service expects that it will get worse. According to a Forest Service report published last April, “Climate change has led to fire seasons that are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970.” Over the past three decades, the area destroyed each year by forest fires has doubled, and the service’s scientists project that it’s likely to “double again by midcentury.” A group of scientists who analyzed lake cores from Alaska to obtain a record of forest fires over the past ten thousand years found that, in recent decades, blazes were both unusually frequent and unusually severe. “This extreme combination suggests a transition to a unique regime of unprecedented fire activity,” they concluded.

All of this brings us to what one commentator referred to as “the black irony” of the fire that has destroyed most of Fort McMurray.

The town exists to get at the tar sands, and the tar sands produce a particularly carbon-intensive form of fuel. (The fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is, at its heart, a fight over whether the U.S. should be encouraging — or, if you prefer, profiting from — the exploitation of the tar sands.) The more carbon that goes into the atmosphere, the warmer the world will get, and the more likely we are to see devastating fires like the one now raging. [Continue reading…]

Bloomberg reports: Wildfires raging through Alberta have spread to the main oil-sands facilities north of Fort McMurray, knocking out an estimated 1 million barrels of production from Canada’s energy hub. Fire officials say the out-of-control inferno may keep burning for months without significant rainfall.

The blaze, forecast to expand to more than 2,500 square kilometers (965 square miles) in the next few days, made an “unexpected” move to the north Saturday, rapidly encroaching bitumen mining operations run by Suncor Energy Inc. and Syncrude Canada Ltd. The fires may soon cover an area the size of Luxembourg.

“It is a dangerous and unpredictable and vicious fire that is feeding off an extremely dry Boreal forest,” federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters Saturday in Regina, Saskatchewan. He said the swirling fire is not yet a threat to any additional communities.

The wildfires have led to combined productions cuts of more than 1 million barrels of oil a day, or about 40 percent of the region’s output of 2.5 million barrels, based on IHS Energy estimates. The cuts, and the mass exodus of more than 80,000 people from the fires raging in Fort McMurray, represent another blow to an economy already mired in recession from the oil price collapse. [Continue reading…]

The Los Angeles Times reports: Though the cause of the fire has not been determined, the inferno has become symbolic of the tension within Canada over its role in climate change.

Some Canadians see the fire as nature lashing back at those who mistreat it in the name of profit.

Others see the hard science: a wildfire formed in conditions consistent with climate change striking with academic irony, not vengeance, in a place that helps supply the world with a fossil fuel. The evacuees were really climate refugees, they say.

Still others view it as just very bad luck, a setback the oil industry will find a way to overcome.

The debate reflects a country wrestling within itself at a difficult moment — and it is testing that famous Canadian civility.

A provincial politician who called the fire “karmic” was quickly castigated and later apologized. When Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May said the fire was “very related to the global climate crisis,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested she was making “a political argument.”

Some environmentalists have been accused of lecturing to or, worse, condemning people who have lost everything. In Fort McMurray, more than 2,000 structures were consumed by the flames.

“I wish I could kick every person posting ‘That’s what you get for living by the oil sands’ comments,” a young Edmonton woman tweeted Tuesday evening at the peak of the evacuation, when flames were whipping across Highway 63, the only road out of Fort McMurray. “You’re terrible people.”

Janet Keeping, the Green Party leader within Alberta, was among several people who invoked climate change early in the week — and did so without clearly expressing support for fire victims. She soon tried to strike a new chord.

“Caring about people means caring about #climatechange,” Keeping wrote Thursday on Twitter.

Alberta’s oil sands are said to hold the third largest reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. They made Alberta rich even as they have made Canada uneasy.

Conservation groups have long despised the intensive extraction process involved in gleaning crude from the sands — Alberta would have been the source for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that President Obama rejected last year — and many Canadians loathe what they view as an excessively capitalist culture in Fort McMurray. [Continue reading…]

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Wildfire near Canada’s oil sands may have been fueled by global warming

Brian Kahn writes: An unusually intense May wildfire roared into Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on Tuesday, forcing the largest wildfire evacuation in province history. The flames rode the back of hot, windy weather that will continue through Wednesday and could pick up again this weekend.

The wildfire is the latest in a lengthening lineage of early wildfires in the northern reaches of the globe that are indicative of a changing climate. As the planet continues to warm, these types of fires will likely only become more common and intense as spring snowpack disappears and temperatures warm.

“This (fire) is consistent with what we expect from human-caused climate change affecting our fire regime,” Mike Flannigan, a wildfire researcher at the University of Alberta, said. [Continue reading…]

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