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The Khadr file – justice finally served

As a long time follower of this case and someone who decried a couple of different Canadian governments refusing to speak up about the farce taking place at Guanatanamo Bay masquerading as actual legal proceedings, and ignoring both the Charte and international treaties with regards to child soldiers, I’m pleased to see the Trudeau government has finally addressed the 2 Supreme Court rulings and the violation of Charter Rights and righted a very serious wrong with Omar Khadr by settling out of court with him and issuing an apology (and this wasn’t some “secret deal” as gone but not lamented Stephen Harper charged – it was court-mediated.. and how many court-mediated settlements do you see publicized beforehand in the media?)

TO address the charge he was a “convicted terrorist” and we shouldnt have settled (never mind the court cases stating otherwise, I’ll just quote what a commentator put on former Liberal staffer’s Jamie Carroll’s comment board from his column in Ipolitics:

Let’s put the obvious on record here. Had Khadr actually committed the crimes he’s been accused of, the United States would have laid charges in a competent, independent court; presented physical evidence and witnesses; allowed a Khadr a proper defense, and awaited the verdict of an independent judge.

That’s not what happened. Khadr was ‘tried’ before a ‘kangaroo’ military tribunal where no physical evidence was presented, exculpatory evidence was suppressed, and the defense was prevented from defending Khadr properly. When that failed, torture and intimidation were used to extract a ‘confession.’ If Khadr was actually guilty of anything, none of that would have been necessary.

Lastly, when Christopher Speer was killed by a grenade, Khadr was badly wounded and buried under rubble. When he was found, the first thing the marines did was shoot him in the back (a war crime). Only when it was obvious he was still alive, and there were witnesses, were efforts made to save his life.

Hate Khadr if you will, but please don’t rationalize that hate by trafficking in lies and misleading statements about his supposed crimes.

Facts and rule of law won’t stop the Conservatives of course from trying to milk the outrage machine. Andrew Scheer has led the way in showing himself neither to care about the constitution and international law nor being anything other then a smiling version of Harper.


The Political BBQ Season begins

Parliament is now in summer recess.. so MP’s will be able to go home for awhile and spend time with their families and constituents.. kissing babies, going to BBQ’s and so forth.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be any political activity. It is a fascinating bit of political theatre going on out in BC, where the Christy Clark “Liberal” government (quotes added for emphasis – they’re borrowing that title as far as I’m concerned, and have for a few years now) has apparently decided to promise everything they were decrying the NDP of promising a few short weeks ago.. strange how that works, when your government is on life support. The political gamesmanship over who will be Speaker after their Throne Speech is defeated and the government brought down on a confidence motion (assuming the Lieutenant Governor doesn’t ignore the NDP/Greens political accord and go back to the polls) will no doubt continue.

It will be interesting to watch new Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. He’s doing a road tour apparently this summer. Will someone ask him why he didn’t do more to discipline Kelly Leitch for her disgraceful remarks on refugees?

The US political landscape continues to be a daily soap opera; has a day gone by since Trumps inauguration where it was quiet? The Republicans are now in the midst of seeing how badly they can mess up health care and give their billionaire donors a break – all in the name of trying to remove President Obama’s signature health bill (which is still way far short of serving the needs of its nation’s citizens as compared to other modern industrialized countires – but was at least a start).

Locally in Brantford, we see the start of the campaign to get a provincial candidate for the Ontario election in 2018 to replace the retiring MP and current Speaker of the Ontario legislature, Dave Levac. So,that will be interesting to watch or participate in (though I’m still officially neutral at this point).

So.. plenty happenning, even if nationally, Parliament is in bit of a recess. Lastly.. I’ve been not posting here as much, as you might notice.. though I’ve been fairly active on Facebook and Twitter.. tho that’s been reduced a bit too.. A lot of that is personal things going on, but I’ll strive to post a bit more on this medium, as blogs are a good way to expand on Twitter 140 characters or re-post thoughts on Facebook. I haven’t gone away.. just on a vacation.. but I’ll be looking to get back into the more public flow of things.


Political Prediction For BC

The BC Liberals and Greens have been on far more friendly terms with each other – both personally and politically – then the NDP and the Greens. NDP supporters still are attacking Greens as robbing them of winning government when it in fact appears disaffected Liberal voters went to the Greens.

That said.. the Greens and NDP do seem to have more common ground on environmental issues and potentially electoral reform.. and there is the fact that the BC Liberals have been in power a long time… notwithstanding the insults I’ve seen from NDP’ers on social media, the Green political grassroots seems to in general be far more willing to work with the NDP.

So.. I’m giving odds of a 60-40% chance the BC Libs fall in a non-confidence vote and the NDP will take the reins, propped up informally (not in a coalition) by the Green Party in exchange for key platform demands to be moved on.


Gender Equality Forum in Brantford – Ruby Sahota lead panellist

On Thursday, April 20, a gender equality forum is being held in Brantford. Special Guest MP Ruby Sahota and other Brantford-Brant community leaders will discuss how they defied the odds to succeed in their careers and what challenges and barriers still exist for women today.

This is a free event; it includes a discussion forum, Q&A and social. Everyone is welcome to attend.

On this panel is the aforementioned Ruby Sahota, the current MP for Brampton North, LPC Ontario Caucus Chair, and former lawyer. The other panellists are Brantford-Brant community leaders, They have a lifetime of community involvements in Brantford-Brant and experience in diverse fields. Below is just a small selection of their professional roles and positions held.

– Reverend at Fairview United Church

– Former Brantford Mayor and successful businesswoman

– Owner-Operator, Lorenzin Market Research

– Federal Government Relations Manager at TD Bank
– Owner/Operator of Brantford-Brant Humber Strategies Consulting
– 2015 Liberal Candidate in Brantford-Brant

– Cattle Farm Owner-Operator

Discussion Forum Moderator: LIN FINES
Retired – Senior Management – Human Resources,
Past President of Canadian Federation of University Women Brantford.

If you are in the area and interested in attending, this event is non-partisan and open to all! It will be held at the T.B. Costain-SC Johnson Community Centre, 16 Morell St. at 6:30 p.m.

For tickets / RSVP, the link is here.


Meeting Iqra Khalid

It was a great pleasure and honour to be in Cambridge last night to hear Iqra Khalid speak. Ms. Khalid is the Liberal MP whose motion M-103 condemning anti-Islamaphobia as well as all other forms of racism, caused unnecessary consternation among most Conservative MP’s in their rush to appeal to the more crass elements in their party. Only a couple, like Michael Chong, were brave enough to stand up and be counted on the right side of history.

I will remind all that this very same Conservative Party was one which unanimously endorsed a very similar anti-Islamaphobia motion by Tom Mulcair last Autumn. Their immediate turnaround on this motion puts most of them in disrepute and should be a stain on that party for the shameful rush to the bottom of the barrel most have exhibited – particularly in light of 6 Canadians being murdered in cold blood by a racist terrorist in their place of worship in the very same time frame this was being debated. It was particularly fitting that this meeting and speaking was held at Wesley United Church in Cambridge. Both the pastor of that church and the Imam of the local mosque as well as several members of the Muslim Community were in attendance. local Cambridge MPP and Minister Kathryn Mcgarry was also there to show her support.

I came away (and I think most of the people who attended did as well) thinking what a courageous person Ms. Khalid is. It was also the first time I’ve heard her speak outside the House of Commons, and she is a very passionate and well-spoken person – and a proud Canadian. She did speak of the 55000 odd emails – a lot of them racist and hate-filled – that she received over this issue, s well as the death threats. She also however spoke of the many messages of support from Canadians she received apologizing for the behaviours or a hateful few, and that most of Canada / Canadians were not like this.

I will also make note that in the week since the motion M-103 was passed.. there have been no mass arrests of anyone at the Rebel or people sent away to camps.


Conservative Clown Show – Leadership Race.

It’s been interesting to watch the Conservative Party Leadership Race. It’s definitely more entertaining then the current NDP leadership race. There, the NDP has had trouble finding anyone to run, although the addition of Niki Ashton might liven things up a bit.

A lack of candidates is, as you undoubtedly know, not the case in Conservative Party-Land. Everyone wants to run the Conservative Party, it seems. When there are this many candidates, those who are behind or those trying to hold onto a lead will start to look for an edge or stop others from getting an edge. The latest in that is every side accusing the other of vote-rigging.. which had former Harper aide Andrew MacDougall lamenting the whole affair in the Globe and Mail:

What began with a whisper into a reporter’s ear from Kevin O’Leary’s campaign of a (largely) unsubstantiated claim of membership irregularities has quickly escalated into messy internecine war. Mr. O’Leary fingered fellow front-runner Maxime Bernier as the culprit, prompting Mr. Bernier to call Mr. O’Leary a “loser” in response. Suspecting a feint, other candidates piped up to ask Mr. O’Leary to put up or shut up. But then the party stepped in to confirm Mr. O’Leary’s concerns by revoking more than 1,300 memberships, although the party couldn’t say whose campaign was behind the offending sales. Cue a retaliatory rigging story, this time with Mr. Bernier’s supporters impugning the O’Leary campaign’s efforts in the Sikh community in Toronto, backed by a sworn affidavit. The O’Leary campaign quickly denied the allegation.

That has led to others on social media reminding folks that certain PC leadership candidates have had a past history of doing this sort of stuff.

Oh, and by the way, the Conservative Party has now revoked 1300 memberships it deems invalid, though it couldn’t (or wouldn’t) say who was responsible. Oh, and Andrew Macdougall basically lauds Kevin O’Leary as a hero for being a “fresh set of eyes” to point these things out.

Kevin O’Leary is the hero for the Conservative Party? Maxime Bernier is the other front-runner for the Conservative Party? Funny stuff.

UPDATE: My thanks to my Conservative social media follower on Twitter for raging at my missing 1 letter in his Conservative Party and correcting me. Nice to have spell-checker zealots trying to distract from the main point of the post.


Conservative Pandering to the Alt-Right

A poll released earlier today says that about a quarter of those Canadians polled want a Donald Trump (attempted) type travel ban.

This is who a large segment of the current Conservative Party leadership crop is pandering to. It’s why they endorsed an Anti-Islamaphobia motion by Tom Mulcair last Fall without fanfare, but are resisting a similar motion by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid now. The fear of the “alt-right” (see white nationalist) has made them decide to oppose this notion now, when it was ok a few months ago. (and particularly bad when the Quebec City massacre just happened a month ago. I’d thought that would have helped them climb down from this pandering to extremists and bigots, but apparently not).

Only Michael Chong supports it of the current leadership crop… which is another reason (besides supporting a carbon tax) that he won’t win.. there aren’t many Moderate” Conservative voters left out there it seems.


Electoral Reform abandonment potentially hurts LPC donations, volunteers

I’m going out on a limb to presume Electoral Reform will not be in the Liberal’s 2019 Platform?

It is a bitter disappointment to not only the pro-electoral reform advocates in general, but to pro-electoral reform advocates within the Liberal Party (ie such as me, and to others in the Party that got electoral reform passed as something we should do both in 2012 and 2014 at Liberal policy Conventions) to see the Liberals officially abandon their electoral reform plans as of yesterday. There has been troubling signs of this for awhile, and obviously the pro-status quo factions within the adviser group and indeed in the Liberal caucus (and there are more then a few) won out over the electoral reformers. I personally had hoped that with the cabinet shuffle, things would improve on this front.. so I’m not understanding why Maryan Monsef got moved out of this Cabinet post – she could have just as easily made this announcement as Karina Gould (who I like personally) was made to do, if this is the decision that was decided upon.

Regardless.. there is a calculation being made here by the Liberals that come election time, most folks will not care or hold them to account over this broken promise (and it is a broken promise, despite the claims of “no consensus” from the Prime Minister). They may be right, though they will have lost a potentially critical portion of their vote from those who had looked forward to a new style of politics and felt betrayed.. those folks will either not vote or will drift back to the Green Party or NDP – perhaps a crucial difference between winning and losing, or a minority versus a majority. Where it may hurt the Liberal Party more however is with its activist base members. Those folks may not be so enthusiastic or inclined to support the LPC at the next election or in the lead-up to it, either by wanting to go “knock on doors” or make phone calls or donate. Indeed, I’ve seen anecdotally in a couple of social media and Facebook groups I am in of Liberal members openly saying they were cancelling their Victory Fund donations to the LPC in protest of this move. Someone else I spoke with and connected to the Party (who supported this move) predicted perhaps hundreds would cancel (I can see potentially more).. so we shall see short-term at the end of next financial quarter whether that is true or not, as well as in the opinion polls.

There are many saying the PM and the Liberals “lied” to the public. I don’t think they were lying; but I do agree with someone else I read on social media that it appeared the Liberals found it was harder then expected and gave up early.. (particularly when they couldn’t convince folks to support the PM’s preferred method of Alternative Voting; the public meetings skewed heavily to participants wanting a form of PR).

One thing I will say as well; I was never in favour or being inclined to want to hold a referendum on this issue; I have always maintained the Liberals had a mandate to make changes purely through the House of Commons, but I also take issue with Prime Minister Trudeau saying a referendum could not be held without a clear question or preference. It would have been very easy to find out by saying the following:

Do you support a) Keeping our current system (First Past The Post)
b) Choosing a form of Proportional Representation
c) Choosing Alternative / Ranked Ballot?

That’s as clear a question as one would or could get, which could then be moved on depending upon the results.

Regardless, I hope the electoral reform elements in the Liberal Party do not give up on this and will let their MP’s or Cabinet Ministers or the PMO know they are not happy with this. We’ll see in 2018 at the Liberal Convention in Halifax whether or not this issue has gone away within the LPC or if its brought up again – that will be the first major event LPC members/delegates will have at expressing their feelings or lack thereof about this.


Kudos to Trudeau for welcoming refugees.. now let’s do (a lot) more.

Lots of attention was paid to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeting out how refugees were welcome in Canada – many interpreted this to be a subtle jab at the odious Muslim / Refugees ban President Donald Trump imposed by Executive Order (except the Muslim countries he has business dealings with – but that’s another story).

Praise was justifiably swift for the most part both domestically and internationally..  but there are calls to do more. Some would call for the government to publicly condemn the Trump Administration for this policy – as other allies are doing. I get that we are trying to walk a tightrope on trade and so forth.. but as others suggest.. there are concrete measures we can be taking – this comes from Vice News today:

….the absolute least the federal government can do is resettle the 2,248 Syrian refugees that Trump has stranded in limbo; that is, if #WelcomeToCanada is more than just a cynical marketing ploy. Trudeau can do more—like raising the quota for both privately-sponsored refugees, hiring more people to handle the application backlog, or fulfilling his 2015 campaign promise of scrapping the discriminatory Safe Third Country Agreement—but they should, at the very least, genuinely speak out and help those actively left in the lurch.

The NDP has also been calling on the government to take these measures. As a progressive Liberal who supported the outreach to Syrian refugees last year nationally and locally here in Brantford, I can find fault with none of these measures. I hope the Liberal government will adopt these measures and have some substantive policies to point to that go along with the good intentions as stated by our Prime Minister.

We quite frankly owe the US regime nothing.. particularly after they seized upon the alleged white nationalist terrorist attack in Quebec on innocent Muslims worshipers as justification for instituting a travel ban on.. Muslims. An odious remark trying to politicze a tragedy for their own ends (clumsily). Time to respond to such odiousness with generosity for refugees that are trapped by this nonsense south of the border.

UPDATE: Regrettably.. our new immigration minister has said he doesn’t wish to do any of these suggested changes to Canada’s immigration policy as it currently stands. If you disagree with this.. call your (nearest) Liberal MP or Liberal Cabinet Minister.. or specifically the Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen.


Helping the Homeless and the Youth: Coldest Night Of The Year

Once again this year, I’m participating in the Coldest Night Of The Year Walk on February 25th. It is held across the country, and is done to help local charities, primarily to do with the homeless. In Brantford, the walk is raising money for the Brantford Welcome-In Resource Center (otherwise known as the HOmeless Shelter) and the Why Not Youth Centre, a place that helps troubled and homeless youth have a safe spot to go to, as well as helping them with life skills and so on.

If you’re interested in seeing if your local community has a walk you can participate in and to get donors to sponsor you to walk in, check out CNOY’s homepage.

If you’d be interested in sponsoring my walk (I will be walking 10k again this year), please donate here. Any donations are welcome, but if you want a tax receipt, a minimum 20$ must be donated.

I hope you’ll consider participating or donating.. because it’s cold out there.


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