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Response to Quebec mosque killings stands in stark contrast to arrest of teen in Kingston

Tue, 2019-01-29 22:49
January 29, 2019Response to Quebec mosque killings stands in stark contrast to arrest of teen in KingstonThe shooting that left six dead and 19 injured in Quebec City was treated quite differently compared with the recent arrest in Kingston.
Categories: News for progressives

Response to Quebec mosque killings stands in stark contrast to arrest of teen in Kingston

Tue, 2019-01-29 22:27
Karl Nerenberg

January 29 marks the second anniversary of the Quebec City massacre, when a young man by the name of Alexandre Bissonnette walked into a mosque during evening prayers and started shooting worshippers at random. He killed six and injured 19.

The day before this grim anniversary, a 16-year-old was arraigned in a court in Kingston, Ont., on charges related to terrorism.

Although no violent acts were committed in the second case, in many ways the media, the criminal justice system and politicians treated the Kingston youth as a greater danger to public safety than the mosque shooter.

Prior to the mosque shooting, Bissonnette had frequently expressed violent, far-right, racist and xenophobic views on social media, yet he was not, as far as we can tell, on the radar of any security service -- be it the Sûreté du Québec, CSIS or the RCMP.

When authorities charged Bissonnette, it was only with murder and attempted murder, not with any terrorism-related offences. They made that choice notwithstanding the fact that the killer had stated quite clearly his motive for terrorizing a peaceful group of people at prayer was his burning hatred for Muslims.

To invoke terrorism in such a case, the authorities explained, there would have had to be evidence of collaboration with some sort of organized terrorist group. There was no such evidence in Bissonnette’s case.

Two years later, in a Kingston court, the crown arraigned the 16-year-old youth for facilitating a terrorist activity, as defined by section 83.19 of the Canadian Criminal Code.  

There are very few known facts in the Kingston case, because the accused is a minor whose identity cannot be divulged. Lawyer and anti-terrorism expert Leah West analyzed the little we do know for CBC Radio’s The House.

West noted that the criminal code section under which the youth was charged makes no reference to terrorist organizations. That is significant, she explained, because the crown chose not to charge the youth under another section, 83.2, which does specify activities for the purposes of aiding a terrorist group. Remember that in Bissonnette’s case prosecutors elected not to impose terrorism charges precisely because they said the killer was not affiliated with any group.

Based on what we know, it would be reasonable to surmise that the 16-year-old in Kingston had likely acted alone, or virtually alone, not as part of an organized conspiracy.

It is a fact that police services sometimes use elaborate schemes and undercover operators to entrap people. Not too long ago, the courts in British Columbia dismissed a case against two marginalized people whom the police had lured into taking part in a goofy scheme to bomb the legislature.

It is also a fact that a variety of police and security forces expended enormous efforts on the Kingston case.

And in contrast to the Bissonnette case, spokespeople for those security forces have not been reluctant to characterize the Kingston case as an open-and-shut matter of terrorism, with significant implications for national security, to boot.

Indeed, authorities have said there are international security implications in this case. The original tip-off came, they say, from the American FBI.

Some politicians could not resist an opportunity for partisan attacks

Two years ago, politicians were circumspect, non-partisan and solemn in their reaction to the horrific crimes of Bissonnette.

In the case of the Kingston youth, however, at least some political figures have been quick to use it for partisan advantage.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer did not even wait for the arraignment before suggesting the accusations against one 16-year-old prove that Canada must re-examine its refugee screening system.  

Of course, we do not know anything about the identity or origins of the accused youth, except that he, apparently, speaks Arabic. That did not stop Scheer from exploiting the situation as a cudgel with which to beat the notionally too-soft-on-refugees Trudeau government.

When an old-stock English- or French-speaking Canadian commits a crime, however brutal and bloody, we tend to see it as a crime and nothing more. In our collective eyes, the only guilty person is the perpetrator himself. His guilt does not extend to any group or community; nor does it pose a threat to the peace and order of society at large.

We react that way even when, as in the Bissonnette case, the criminal himself loudly and proudly proclaims his fiercely ideological motives.

The story is quite different when the accused person is someone who is, possibly, a recent arrival to Canada.

In the Kingston case, we are dealing, at this point, with a vague and ill-defined criminal act. Whatever crime the accused might have been planning, he never consummated it. There was no act of violence. Nobody was injured, let alone killed. And yet, this case has engendered a national panic attack, complete with lurid headlines and breathless media reports.

The phrase innocent until proven guilty is a cliché, but it does have a real meaning.

Politicians, the police and those of us in the media would be well advised to remember that phrase, and hew to it scrupulously, when talking about the accusations against this 16-year-old resident of Kingston.

Photo: Coastal Elite/Flickr

Karl Nerenberg has been a journalist and filmmaker for more than 25 years. He is rabble's politics reporter.

 

Help make rabble sustainable. Please consider supporting our work with a monthly donation. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Categories: News for progressives

Canadian Change Makers: Drunk driving victim asks Quebec judge to compel accused to join her at speaking engagements

Tue, 2019-01-29 00:50
January 28, 2019Canadian Change Makers: Drunk driving victim asks Quebec judge to compel accused to join her at speaking engagementsA woman who wanted to be a police officer before she was mowed down by a drunk driver wants young drivers to hear both devastating sides of the story.Canadian Change Makers
Categories: News for progressives

Canadian Change Makers: Drunk driving victim asks Quebec judge to compel accused to join her at speaking engagements

Mon, 2019-01-28 23:04
Brenda O'Farrell

This is the first in an occasional series profiling Canadian Change Makers, individuals who are affecting change in their neighbourhoods, provinces, across the country or around the globe.

On June 12, 2015, 20-year-old CEGEP student Tina Adams went out for a jog with a friend on the quiet residential streets near her home in Hudson, Que., a small predominantly English-speaking community off the western tip of the island of Montreal. What happened shortly after that changed her life forever.

Fast-forward to three-and-a-half years later, on Friday, January 9, 2019, with a distinctive limp and visible scars, Adams walked into a courtroom in Valleyfield, Que., and, with the courage that she has learned to harness to regain some sense of normalcy in her life, stood in front of a judge and boldly made a pitch. What happens next could change how the justice system deals with convicted drunk drivers.

Adams, who is now 24 years old, made the request based on her need to find some good to come out of what has happened. She is seeking change. She is hoping her efforts will make a difference. And she is, admittedly, taking a step into the unknown.

The request Adams made to Quebec Court Judge Bernard St-Arnaud had nothing to do with the agreed-to sentencing recommendation that the prosecutor and defence lawyers had put forward in the case against Jordan Xavier Taylor, the man who, with a blood alcohol level of 1.33, well above the legal limit of 0.08, had plowed her down with his car, taking down a utility pole while doing it and pinning a severely injured Adams under the wires. She simply asked that once he is done with his jail time that he be mandated by the court to accompany her to public speaking engagements in schools to talk to students about the real effects of drinking and driving. She wants others to see not only the devastating consequences she has had to suffer as the result of the poor judgment exhibited by Taylor, who decided to get behind the wheel of a car after having too much to drink. She wants people to hear how that same poor judgment has affected Taylor, a person who could have availed himself of another option that day.

Her request to the court was as unexpected as it was unprecedented. And it gave the judge pause.

In fact, St-Arnaud postponed deciding on Taylor’s punishment. He rescheduled the sentencing to January 29.

“I believe this can make a difference,” Adams said in a telephone interview from her home, referring to the request she made to the judge. “I want to take something bad and make something good.”

No one knew she was going to ask the judge for the unusual demand -- not the prosecutor, nor her father, who was in the courtroom with her. After briefly consulting with his lawyer, Taylor told the judge that he would agree to the request.

When they walked into the hearing that day, Adams said the prosecutor had explained to her an agreement had been reached with the defence. Taylor had pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. But both sides were going to recommend an eight-month sentence followed by one year of probation. And Taylor would not be allowed to have a driver’s licence for 15 months.

During the proceedings, Adams offered a victim impact statement that included an eight-minute video that detailed the extent of the injuries she had suffered – which included a traumatic brain injury, a cracked skull, a fractured spine, two punctured lungs, fractured ribs, a crushed pelvis and right hip, torn ligaments and burns due to electricity wires that caused nerve damage.

She also described her lengthy road to recovery, which she continues to navigate. She has had 19 surgeries, and has had to undergo intensive physiotherapy to relearn how to walk and how to go up and down stairs. At the time of the accident she was in the second year of the police technology program at nearby John Abbott College, planning to become a police officer. With that dream now taken away from her, her life since the accident revolves around hospital stays, doctor’s visits, physiotherapy sessions, visits to a psychologist, intense physical training, and constant and chronic pain that will always be part of her life.

The judge, she said, seemed moved.

“He did not remove his eyes off the video the whole time,” Adams said. “I saw that he had a lot of empathy for me.”

Asked for her reaction to the judge delaying his sentencing, she said: “I think it was delayed because he wasn’t sure of the sentencing.”

She is pleased that extra consideration will be given.

But despite her request, she does want to see Taylor do prison time, and she is quick to point out that eight months behind bars is not enough. She would like him to be sentenced to “at least half of what I lost so far, so one-and-a-half years.”

“He knew what he was doing. He knew he was driving that day, even though people tried to stop him,” she said. “He changed my life. He ruined it.”

But whatever the sentence, she will wait and, hopefully, eventually join Taylor to speak to students about the serious implications of drinking and driving.

Throughout the latter stages of her recovery, Adams has visited schools to talk to teenagers and young adults. She visited her old high school. It is the same one Taylor graduated from. And she is scheduled to return to speak there again in February.

Her message is simple: If you are planning to drink, you should organize rides before heading out.

The consequences of failing to do that, she illustrates, are devastating.

“We all think that it can’t happen to us. I never thought this would happen to me.”

Now, Adams has had to rethink her whole life. A career as a police officer is now not possible because she cannot meet the physical requirements. She may never be able to have a child. She might need to have another hip replacement. She lives with constant chronic pain.

Yet, she tries not to dwell on it.

“I live in the present,” she said, explaining that contemplating the future is difficult. “When I think of the future, I get overwhelmed.”

But she is hopeful. She hopes she can affect change. She hopes to help society rethink how it views drunk driving. It is not something that simply carries a punishment. She wants to eliminate it as an option in drivers' minds.

She will be back in court on January 29 to hear the judge’s decision on sentencing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t434vbXI8OI

Brenda O'Farrell is editor-in-chief of rabble.ca.

Categories: News for progressives

Trudeau opens himself to political attacks over firing of McCallum

Mon, 2019-01-28 22:51
January 28, 2019Politics in CanadaTrudeau opens himself to political attacks over firing of McCallumAs Parliament resumes, politicians might all want to weigh their words before saying anything that could endanger the three Canadians at the eye of the political and diplomatic Huawei storm.CA
Categories: News for progressives

Trudeau opens himself to political attacks over firing of McCallum

Mon, 2019-01-28 22:49
Karl Nerenberg

On Saturday, January 26, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired his ambassador to China, John McCallum. Now, as Parliament resumes, the prime minister can expect some fairly harsh partisan attacks from his political rivals.

Trudeau had resisted calls to fire the ambassador after McCallum undiplomatically told a group of journalists he thought the case for extraditing Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was weak.

McCallum apologized for that statement – but then spoke out again, this time expressing the hope that the U.S. would drop its case against Meng.

That was too much for the government.

It is one thing to try too hard to curry favour with the Chinese and, in so doing, undermine the independent Canadian judiciary. It is another to openly offend the Americans.

China is still holding two Canadians on vague charges. And it is still, officially, planning to execute another. That Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, has just appealed his death sentence for drug dealing.

For the time being, Canada will have no full-fledged ambassador to China. Career diplomat Jim Nickel, who had been McCallum’s second in command, takes over as chargé d’affaires, the top person when there is no accredited ambassador.

The opposition parties, especially the Conservatives, will try to make political hay out of all this, although politicizing a foreign policy imbroglio is not only unseemly, it could be dangerous. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer appears to think he can win points in a competition with Trudeau as to who’s most competent to manage foreign policy. Good luck with that.

Trudeau and Scheer agree on some foreign policy issues

On another foreign affairs front, that of the current conflict between Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and self-declared president, opposition leader Juan Guaido, Scheer and Trudeau are on the same page. They both refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Maduro’s recent re-election.

It is the NDP that is offside on Venezuela, although it does not have a clear, unified position. A number of NDPers, notably Manitoba MP Niki Ashton, have urged Canada to unequivocally support Maduro. But party leader Jagmeet Singh has tried to take a more nuanced approach. He has expressed the hope Venezuelans will figure things out for themselves, and he has pointedly refused to offer full-throated support to Venezuela’s beleaguered president.

Canada has interests in Venezuela; it is in our hemisphere and is a major supplier of oil and minerals. But there are no Canadian lives in immediate peril there.

China is a different story. Canada now finds itself uncomfortably astride a deepening rift between the U.S., Canada’s closest neighbour and biggest trading partner, and the world’s most populous country. 

Canadians in China are at immediate risk because of this conflict. The most at risk are Schellenberg and the two who were recently incarcerated. But there are many others who could face danger.

It might be asking a lot, but Canadian politicians might think twice before turning Canada’s current differences with China into a matter of partisan dispute.

Politicians might all want to weigh their words very carefully before saying anything that could endanger the three Canadians at the eye of this political and diplomatic storm.

 

John McCallum: Photo courtesy Premier of Alberta/Flickr

Karl Nerenberg has been a journalist and filmmaker for more than 25 years. He is rabble's politics reporter.

 

Help make rabble sustainable. Please consider supporting our work with a monthly donation. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Categories: News for progressives

Alberta Justice minister needs to ask for RCMP investigation of Election Commissioner’s concerns, and quickly

Mon, 2019-01-28 12:42
David J. Climenhaga

Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley needs to ask the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate concerns raised by Alberta Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson that someone is trying to interfere with his office's inquiry into alleged irregularities in the 2017 United Conservative Party leadership race.

Gibson expressed his alarm in a letter Jan. 24 to participants in the investigation into allegations "irregular financial contributions" were made to the campaign of UCP leadership candidate Jeff Callaway.

"It has come to the attention of my office that an individual has been contacting, or attempting to contact, one or more persons who are subjects in this investigation in order to dissuade cooperation with investigators and hinder the proper discussion of matters in order to avoid these proceedings," Gibson wrote in the letter, which was sent to several people.

Ganley needs to seek police assistance because intentionally impeding the investigation is a serious matter that interferes with the work of an institution set up to protect our democratic system, and which does not have the investigative resources of a police organization.

She needs to ask the RCMP to do it because they are a federal organization outside the jurisdiction of the provincial government, and, sad to say, someone is bound to falsely claim the work of an officer of the legislature is tainted by partisanship.

And she needs to do it immediately because, if the government changes after the general election, which is expected very soon, there can be no confidence a new government would not shut down the investigation for fear of what it might find. It must be noted here that the executive director of the UCP told Star Metro, which broke this story on Saturday, that "the party is not aware of anyone pressuring people not to participate in an Election Commissioner investigation."

Janice Harrington also told Star Metro that the UCP "would encourage all Albertans, be they members or not, to abide by all laws," and said that no one among Kenney, his leadership team, or the party has been approached by investigators from the Office of the Election Commissioner.

Gibson's office has hired two former police officers -- specialists in fraud and white-collar crime, one retired from the Calgary Police Service and the other from the Edmonton Police Service -- to investigate the allegations Callaway's campaign was illegally funded to carry out a "kamikaze" attack against former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean while his principal rival, Jason Kenney, took the high road.

Regardless of the merit of these allegations, which Callaway denies, Kenney, who became the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in March 2017, was elected as leader of the UCP at the end of October 2017. He became leader of the Opposition in the Legislature in January last year.

Gibson's letter warned recipients that his office "takes allegations of obstruction very seriously," and noted that "obstruction may also constitute a 'corrupt practice' and be subject to significant penalties."

The Alberta Election Finances Disclosure and Contributions Act says no one may obstruct any person carrying out an inquiry, investigation or examination under the act. Gibson noted that anyone who commits a corrupt practice as defined by the act is subject to a fine of not more than $50,000 and imprisonment of up to two years, or both.

"If you have been contacted by any person who has, or has attempted to influence your participation in this investigation, it is very important that you bring this information to the attention of my office immediately," the letter continues.

"You will be asked whether you have been contacted by any person in order to dissuade your cooperation with investigators or hinder the proper disposition of matters in order to avoid the proceedings," Gibson wrote. "You will be asked whether you have maintained a record of those conversations and communication."

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Categories: News for progressives

Defusing the Crisis: A Way Forward for Venezuela

Mon, 2019-01-28 03:36
The Real News NetworkThe Real NewsJanuary 26, 2019WorldBest-of-the-net

The Real News Network hosts Venezuelan Sociologist Edgardo Lander and Greg Wilpert discuss how Venezuela got into its current international, economic, and political crisis and what it might take to get out of it. 

2018 Venezuela electionVenezuela The Real News Network discusses Venezuela.
Categories: News for progressives

Introducing Olivia Robinson, rabble’s new Layton Fellow

Sat, 2019-01-26 03:55
rabble staff

rabble.ca is pleased to announce Olivia Robinson has been awarded the Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship.

Robinson, who will complete her master’s degree in journalism this spring at Carleton University in Ottawa, will be working on a series of articles on how libraries across the country are re-imagining these public spaces and contributing in new and innovated ways to improve the social fabric of their communities.

From hiring social workers to assist homeless and vulnerable members of society whose needs have not been met, to librarians, armed with naloxone, who have saved the lives of those caught in the country’s opioid crisis, libraries are being transformed. The series will explore how, as Canadians look beyond the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation committee, public libraries are developing programing for individuals who might not have been involved in the initial reconciliation process. The series will also look at how some libraries are actually growing food and developing ‘seed’ lending libraries.

“I was thinking about journalism and the public good, and how journalism can have an impact on people,” Robinson said, explaining why she applied for the fellowship.

She is excited to be given the opportunity to expand on a topic she is very passionate about.

In addition to completing her graduate degree in journalism at Carleton, Robinson holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Queen’s University and a master’s in Writing for Children from the University of Winchester in the United Kingdom. Originally from Aurora, Ont., she plans to pursue a career in journalism with an emphasis on local news.

Named after the late former leader of the federal New Democratic Party who inspired people by example, the fellowship was created two years ago, in partnership with the Institute for Change Leaders. It was named in Layton’s honour, as he demonstrated that working together for social and economic justice is possible and achievable. It is a unique opportunity to strengthen media democracy in Canada, while offering mentorship and growth for new voices.

Look for Robinson’s series in the coming months.

Categories: News for progressives

Canada’s ambassador to China speaks truth, then recants

Sat, 2019-01-26 02:10
Karl Nerenberg

On Tuesday, January 22, Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, told a group of journalists who work for Chinese media or report in Chinese for Canadian media there was a good chance a Canadian court would deny the U.S. request to extradite Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. Then, two days later, he walked back his statement.

Despite his claim that he misspoke, the Chinese now understand the Canadian government will almost certainly find a way to get Meng off the hook.

McCallum’s original point was that U.S. President Donald Trump prejudiced the American government’s case when he said he would consider using Meng as a bargaining chip in trade talks with China.

As well, the ambassador pointed out, the U.S. government’s beef with Meng involves the breaching of sanctions against Iran -- sanctions Canada does not itself impose.

That second argument was not entirely accurate. The American case against Meng is not, formally, about a breach of sanctions. Rather, U.S. authorities claim the Huawei executive told financial institutions that a Huawei subsidiary -- which might have done business in Iran -- was separate and independent from Huawei, which is not true.  Her offence is thus, officially, bank fraud.

The underlying issue, though, is flouting U.S. sanctions against Iran, and McCallum was only stating a fact when he said Canada has chosen not to go along with those punitive measures.

And so McCallum’s statement seems, on the face of it, eminently plausible and reasonable. Nonetheless, it engendered a firestorm of outraged comment.

Pundits argued that when the ambassador dared say openly what everyone in Ottawa is saying privately, he somehow made the Liberal government’s position vis-à-vis the Chinese more difficult.

Former Canadian ambassadors to China took to the airwaves to excoriate the current ambassador for breaching diplomatic reserve. McCallum was freelancing, they said, and could undermine the government’s oft-repeated point about the independence of Canadian courts.

The prime minister did not openly rebuke McCallum, but he came close.

When journalists gave him the opportunity to give a full-throated defence of his ambassador, Justin Trudeau demurred. Instead, he ritualistically incanted his government’s favourite talking point, to wit, “Canada is rule-of-law country.”

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was not so circumspect. He called on Trudeau to fire the ambassador.

A hasty retreat

And so, by Thursday afternoon McCallum was in full retreat mode. He issued a news release that paid appropriate obeisance to the “rule of law,” and then went on to say: “I regret that my comments with respect to the legal proceedings of Ms. Meng have created confusion. … These comments do not accurately represent my position on this issue. As the government has consistently made clear, there has been no political involvement in this process.” 

McCallum’s seemingly accurate original statement is still out there, though, and cannot be erased from memory. And it is hard to imagine the ambassador acted impulsively or without forethought. He is an experienced politician, who held senior cabinet posts in the governments of three prime ministers.

Ever since it detained the Huawei executive on what now appear to be shaky grounds, and engendered enormous Chinese ire in the process, the Canadian government has been grasping for a way out.

McCallum’s Tuesday statement could be part of that way out. It could be designed to placate the Chinese and assure them that, in due course, Meng will be free and clear of all charges. 

The subtext, here, is that the Chinese have no need to retaliate against any Canadians, which they have done, in one case, to the extent of condemning him to death. McCallum wanted to reassure the Chinese that the independent Canadian courts, if they operate as one might expect them to, will almost certainly do the right thing by Meng.

Even in his statement of retraction McCallum continued to reinforce that message.

He prefaced his I-did-not-mean-it apology by affirming that “Canada is conducting a fair, unbiased and transparent legal proceeding with respect to Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, which includes the ability for individuals to mount a vigorous defence before a court of law.”

McCallum has already provided Meng’s lawyers with some fairly compelling arguments for their “vigorous defence.”

The Chinese seem to have got the message

The ambassador’s bottom line, like that of the prime minister, is that Canada wants to get its two incarcerated citizens back -- and, although they do not say as much, spare a third Canadian from execution.

“Every action our government takes is focused on the safety and security of these Canadians,” McCallum concluded, adding: “That will continue to be our absolute priority until they can return home.”

The Chinese ambassador to Canada certainly seemed to get the message and to appreciate it. She said as much publicly.

Some have suggested that McCallum did not have to speak out publicly. He could have made his argument to the Chinese government in private. Words spoken publicly, however, can have a stronger impact than the same words spoken sotto voce, behind closed doors.

The Chinese now understand that, in the end, the Canadian government will almost certainly find a way to get Meng off the hook.

And do not forget, in the unlikely event that a Canadian court were to grant the dubious U.S. extradition request, the final say as to whether or not to deliver this Chinese citizen to U.S. authorities lies at the political level, with the federal justice minister.

Photo: flickr/ Day Donaldson

 

Karl Nerenberg has been a journalist and filmmaker for more than 25 years. He is rabble's politics reporter.

 

Help make rabble sustainable. Please consider supporting our work with a monthly donation. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Categories: News for progressives

Homelessness requires a state-of-emergency response

Sat, 2019-01-26 00:03
January 25, 2019Homelessness requires a state-of-emergency responseDespite the Liberal government's promises of a National Housing Strategy, homelessness has worsened in nearly every community across the country. It remains a disaster and Toronto is the epicentre.CA
Categories: News for progressives

Introducing Olivia Robinson, rabble’s new Layton Fellow

Fri, 2019-01-25 22:05
rabble staff

rabble.ca is pleased to announce Olivia Robinson has been awarded the Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship.

Robinson, who will complete her master’s degree in journalism this spring at Carleton University in Ottawa, will be working on a series of articles on how libraries across the country are re-imagining these public spaces and contributing in new and innovated ways to improve the social fabric of their communities.

From hiring social workers to assist homeless and vulnerable members of society whose needs have not been met, to librarians, armed with naloxone, who have saved the lives of those caught in the country’s opioid crisis, libraries are being transformed. The series will explore how, as Canadians look beyond the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation committee, public libraries are developing programing for individuals who might not have been involved in the initial reconciliation process. The series will also look at how some libraries are actually growing food and developing ‘seed’ lending libraries.

“I was thinking about journalism and the public good, and how journalism can have an impact on people,” Robinson said, explaining why she applied for the fellowship.

She is excited to be given the opportunity to expand on a topic she is very passionate about.

In addition to completing her graduate degree in journalism at Carleton, Robinson holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Queen’s University and a master’s in Writing for Children from the University of Winchester in the United Kingdom. Originally from Aurora, Ont., she plans to pursue a career in journalism with an emphasis on local news.

Named after the late former leader of the federal New Democratic Party who inspired people by example, the fellowship was created two years ago, in partnership with the Institute for Change Leaders. It was named in Layton’s honour, as he demonstrated that working together for social and economic justice is possible and achievable. It is a unique opportunity to strengthen media democracy in Canada, while offering mentorship and growth for new voices.

Look for Robinson’s series in the coming months.

Categories: News for progressives

Emerging democracy conference in Toronto this weekend

Fri, 2019-01-25 00:27
January 24, 2019Emerging democracy conference in Toronto this weekendFormer Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne will be one of the speakers who will tackle the topic of women and power, focusing on how personal and political roles intersect.CA
Categories: News for progressives

Emerging democracy conference in Toronto this weekend

Fri, 2019-01-25 00:24
Rosemary Frei

Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne will take the stage this Saturday morning at the DemocracyXChange conference in Toronto, an event that is billed as “the annual summit for Canada’s emerging democracy sector to connect, learn and share.”

This is the second edition of the conference, which was launched in 2017. It runs from January 25 to 27.

Wynne, who is now simply the member of the provincial parliament for the Toronto riding of Don Valley West, is participating in a panel titled ‘Women, Power and Intersectionality.’ The panel will focus on intersecting identities, from political to personal, and is emblematic of the intersectionality and dialogue-fostering approach implicitly woven throughout the conference.

Wynne’s co-panelists are Bhutila Karpoche, the newly elected NDP MPP for the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park; motivational speaker and founder of Blind Girls Inc. Michelle Woolfrey; Indigenous-leader and advocate Kyla Kakfwi Scott, who also is the daughter of former Truth and Reconciliation Commission member Marie Wilson and former Northwest Territories premier Stephen Kakfwi; and Denise Siele, a Conservative candidate for the October 2019 general federal election and immediate past president of the Canadian Club of Ottawa.

“We tried to bring in women of power who come from different political orientations but also who are well-known to inhabit multiple identities,” said conference co-director Ana Serrano in an interview with rabble.ca.

Serrano went on to explain that in some instances, like in the case of Woolfrey, who’s still a graduate student, the participant may not have power yet but has the ambition to run for public office.

“We just want to create the conditions whereby these people that we’ve invited feel comfortable and generously give over their authentic selves on the stage ... (to) make sure that we craft an event that has that kind of integrity built into it so that people feel like they are going to be heard and that we’re actually interested in listening to them.”

Serrano -- who also is co-chair of the Open Democracy Project and chief digital officer of the Canadian Film Centre -- is very familiar with at least one of the panelists: she and Wynne took part in a fireside chat at an Ontario Liberal Party event in January 2018.

In addition, Seranno’s conference co-director and Open Democracy Project co-chair, Chris Cowperthwaite, is Wynne’s son.

Cowperthwaite is an associate principal at Navigator, a national public relations firm, and vice-president of TRUE, Navigator's in-house digital and creative public affairs firm.

Navigator is a platinum-level sponsor of the conference.

In an interview, Cowperthwaite talked about the need for an exchange of ideas, and how the conference attempts to open a dialogue involving emerging trends in democratic movements.

“We feel like we’re at a place now where we’re kind of riding a wave because there is something globally happening. There’s a lot of concerning indicators, but also, there’s a lot to look at in terms of hopefulness if we can bridge some of the divides.”

The conference, he said, looks at some of these issues.

The conference is being held at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.

The event will have several panels and also keynote addresses. There also will be workshops on topics such as smart cities and ranked ballots. The event will wrap on Sunday afternoon with a tools exchange in which conference participants can pitch ideas to each other.

Photo:  Ontario Liberal Caucus/Flickr

 

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Categories: News for progressives

Canadian pipeline push promotes false and misleading claims

Wed, 2019-01-23 23:28
January 23, 2019EnvironmentCanadian pipeline push promotes false and misleading claimsThere's no real discount on Canadian product, nor are other countries clamouring for our bitumen. The lower price is because it’s costly to extract, process and must be diluted before shipping.pipelineDavid SuzukiCA
Categories: News for progressives

All NATO members at risk for Russian hacking: Canadian Brigadier General

Wed, 2019-01-23 01:34
January 22, 2019Politics in CanadaAll NATO members at risk for Russian hacking: Canadian Brigadier GeneralIn advance of provincial and federal elections, Canada's director of general military strategic communications is warning that Canadians should be alert for attempts to influence the electorate.CA
Categories: News for progressives

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's credibility in question after election financing fine

Tue, 2019-01-22 22:00
January 22, 2019Politics in CanadaCanadian Taxpayers Federation's credibility in question after election financing fineThe CTF has been disproportionately influential in Canadian political discourse because the mainstream media treats its pronouncements as if they were credible. Will a $6,000 fine change that?CA
Categories: News for progressives

New Liberal candidate running against NDP leader served for 16 years in right-of-centre B.C. governments

Tue, 2019-01-22 03:41
Karl Nerenberg

The federal Liberals have named Richard Lee its new candidate to face-off against NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in the Burnaby South byelection on February 25, and their choice shows how politics can make strange bedfellows.

On the face of it, Lee seems tailor made for the job.

He was, after all, a Liberal member of the British Columbia legislature for 16 years, and he is now running for the federal Liberal party. The two parties -- the B.C. provincial Liberals and the federal Liberals -- are not, however, fraternal organizations. They are not even, for the most part, political allies. Indeed, the B.C. Liberals officially disaffiliated from the federal party nearly 30 years ago.

In the 1990s, the B.C. Liberal party supplanted the now-defunct Social Credit party as the small-C conservative alternative to the NDP. And while it fancies itself a big-tent party of the centre-right and the right, the B.C. Liberals most fervent core supporters tend to be federal Conservatives. Those who vote Liberal federally in B.C. tend to split their allegiances, provincially, between the NDP and the Liberals.

At times, the B.C. Liberal party calls itself a “free enterprise coalition” party. It unabashedly leans to the right ideologically, although it did bring in a modest carbon tax, which sets it apart from other right-wing parties in Canada.

There have been some notable B.C. Liberals who were active in the federal Liberal party. One such individual is former Liberal premier Christy Clark’s ex-husband, Mark Marissen, who worked as an adviser to one-time federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion.

But such examples are overshadowed by the strong and enduring links between the B.C. Liberals and the federal Conservatives, and nobody exemplifies that relationship as well as long-time B.C. Liberal premier Gordon Campbell.

Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper named Campbell to the prestigious post of High Commissioner to London, after the latter retired from politics. The former premier had left office under something of a cloud of scandal, and the new job Harper gave him helped renew his credentials as an important and influential power player.

Signing on for a partisan hit job

More recently, Ontario Conservative premier Doug Ford appointed Campbell to lead an inquiry into the spending habits of the defeated Kathleen Wynne Liberal government. Wynne and Justin Trudeau were close political allies.

There might be some good reasons to root around in the financial records of the Wynne government, but most Liberals, be they in the federal or Ontario party, do not see it that way. To them, the exercise Campbell leads is nothing more than a political hit job.

It is one thing to take on a non-partisan, public service role following a career in politics -- such as representing Canada aboard. It is quite another to get one’s hands muddy in what appears to be a crassly partisan revenge game.

None of this is directly linked to Lee.

Still, Lee’s political opponents in the current race might have some questions for him about the years he spent as a provincial Liberal in the B.C. legislature.

Former Liberal candidate in the riding, Karen Wang, turned out to be an embarrassment, but the federal party could easily disassociate itself from her. It was the members of the federal Liberal riding association for Burnaby North who chose the now-disgraced Wang as their candidate, not the party leadership.

In the case of Lee, it was the prime minister and his senior advisers who made the choice. Trudeau and the Liberal party brass will have difficulty disassociating themselves from anything Lee says or does, or any information that emerges about Lee, during the campaign that starts in earnest now.

Karl Nerenberg has been a journalist and filmmaker for more than 25 years. He is rabble's politics reporter.

 

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Categories: News for progressives

Svend Robinson returns to politics with plans to tackle climate change, housing affordability and Big Pharma

Mon, 2019-01-21 22:58
January 21, 2019Politics in CanadaSvend Robinson returns to politics with plans to tackle climate change, housing affordability and Big PharmaVeteran NDP MP Svend Robinson marked his return to Canadian politics Saturday, taking the nomination to run in B.C. riding in next federal election.CA
Categories: News for progressives

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