Anti-Muslim hatred and domestic right-wing terrorism has hit close to home for many Montrealers late this morning/early this afternoon. Concordia University has evacuated two buildings on its downtown SGW Campus, the EV Building and the Hall Building, after receiving a bomb threat targeting Muslim students:
Evacuate EV and Hall Buildings on SGW campus, immediately. Classes cancelled; may resume at 6 p.m. Avoid buildings. More info:concordia.ca
A group calling itself the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada sent the threat in letter form to news outlets including the Montreal Gazette, claiming that “now that President Trump is in office south of the border, things have changed.”
Concordia is currently hosting Islamic Awareness Week until Thursday. The letter threatens bomb detonations every day until Friday unless Concordia bans what the bigots call Muslim activities (including prayer spaces in the Hall Building).
For now, these buildings are being evacuated. Classes may resume at 6pm if no explosives are found.
* Featured image from Periscope Live video via Global News
Last night news broke that a gunman had opened fire in a mosque in Sainte-Foy, a suburb of Quebec City, as people were starting to pray. The casualty toll started to climb, eventually settling at six dead and five injured.
Before the details came in, it was pretty easy to guess at what had happened. Quebec’s far-right groups, which we have been hearing about quite a bit in the media lately, and the spate of racist attacks across the US following the Trump victory emboldened some racist loner to the point where he committed a hate crime. Turns out the easiest guess anyone paying attention and not blinded by their own willful ignorance would have made was absolutely correct.
Quebec Police identified 27 year old Alexandre Bissonnette as their suspect. He is white, from Cap-Rouge, Quebec, an admirer of French ultra-nationalist politician Marine Le Pen and a defender of Donald Trump. His Facebook profile was removed following his arrest, but people who knew him and members of immigrant rights groups in Quebec City described him as someone who posted anti-refugee and anti-woman’s rights views quite frequently and was also a troll.
FOX and Islamophobic Friends
Some online commenters, rather incorrectly and incredulously, jumped to a different conclusion the night of the shooting: that the attacker must have been Muslim. You see both Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had labelled it a terrorist attack, and I suspect that if you are brainwashed enough to equate an entire religion with terrorism, then a terrorist attack carried out by someone who isn’t of that religion just does not compute for you.
It didn’t help matters that Quebec Police had also brought in Mohamed el Khadir, one of the worshipers at the mosque to question as a witness. He was of Moroccan origin and FOX News had no problem mentioning that and calling him a suspect:
They later corrected their story, but the damage was already done. Now Islamophobes could blame Muslims for an Islamophobic attack.
Enter Donald Trump
When a major event like this happens, it is customary for leaders of foreign countries to offer condolences to the leader of the country where the incident took place. US President Donald Trump did just that when he called Justin Trudeau. Fine. That’s protocol.
If Trump had wanted to go further and apologize for any effect his policies and rhetoric had on the shooter, that would have been a welcome change of tone. But he didn’t. What his administration did instead is absolutely appalling.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spîcer, after going through the protocol, tried to use the attack on the mosque as a justification for his boss’ ill thought out and wholly terrible Executive Order concerning immigration, the so-called Muslim Ban:
No, Mr. Spicer, it is not. I’d say nice attempt at being an Orwellian asshole, but this is far to serious for that. Trying to turn this horrific hate crime inspired, in part, by your boss’s policies into a justification for those policies is as absurd as it is incredibly insulting, predominately to the victims, but also to any rational thinker.
Speaking of the victims, and we should speak of the victims, they were mainly immigrants, immigrants from predominately Muslim countries. They were looking for a better life in Quebec and have been profiled in The Globe and Mail as such. These are the people Trump’s Executive Order targets. These are the victims of right-wing white supremacist anti-immigrant obsession.
The fucking nerve Sean Spencer. The fucking nerve Donald Trump. You, Marine LePen and our local hatemongers here are to blame, too.
The Syrian official opposition is calling for suspension of the International Anti-ISIS Coalition airstrikes after one of them killed at least 56 civilians on Tuesday, northeast of Aleppo. Meanwhile, the US is hosting an International Coalition meeting to press allies to do more in the fight against ISIS in the Middle East.
Tuesday’s strike happened near the ISIS controlled town of Manbij. The civilian death toll of the airstrikes in the region is now over 125, according to most sources. Al-Jazeera reported as many as 200 casualties, including many children.
The Syrian Coalition, the official opposition of the Al-Assad regime, sent an urgent letter to the ministers of foreign affairs of the international coalition demanding immediate suspension of the airstrikes until an investigation of this “horrific massacre” is completed. It said:
“We believe that such incidents indicate a major loophole in the current operational rules followed by the international coalition in conducting strikes in populated areas. It is essential that such investigation not only result in revised rules of procedure for future operations, but also inform accountability for those responsible for such major violations.”
The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposing Forces, by its full name, was formed expressly to oppose dictator Bachar Al-Assad and is officially supported by the international community. Their principal mission is to become a transitional government in charge of restoring democracy and peace. They are currently based in Istanbul, trying to organize for the election which is supposed to take place in November.
Amnesty International (AI) sided with them and accused the International Anti-ISIS Coalition of failing to take the necessary steps to avoid civilian casualties.
“There must be a prompt, independent and transparent investigation to determine what happened, who was responsible, and how to avoid further needless loss of civilian life. Anyone responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be brought to justice and victims and their families should receive full reparation,” urged Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of AI’s Middle East and North Africa Program.
AI found that the true death toll of the strikes was difficult to document. They were able to confirm 60 civilian casualties in the last couple of days and about a hundred since the Coalition’s operation in Manbij began on March 31st.
The United-States officially announced the launching of an investigation on the last airstrike in Manbij. However, the International Coalition has ignored the majority of cases when civilian deaths have been reliably demonstrated to this day, says Amnesty International.
US Seeks Additional Support for Military and Political Action
Meanwhile, they are pressing their allies to increase their involvement in the international anti-ISIS coalition. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter gathered 30 of his counterparts, including Canadian Minister of Defence Hajrit S. Sajjan, for a two day-long conference on a Maryland military base.
The International coalition, led by the US, was formed two years ago with the express goal of coordinating military intervention against terrorist groups ISIS and Al-Nosra, in Iraq and Syria. The fourth meeting of the coalition started on Wednesday. Ministers are expected to plan further military and political intervention against the Islamic State in the Middle East.
Sajjan just announced that Canada will send 40 to 60 of its army’s medical personnel in an effort to retake the Iraqi region of Mosul, currently controlled by local militias. Canada had previously announced that the operation to take back the Iraqi region of Fallujah from militias last month would be its last combat mission.
Canadian Minister of Foreign affairs Stéphane Dion is expected to join the Maryland talks today. He was in Washington this week, like many other ministers of Foreign affairs. Together, they promised over two billion dollars of humanitarian aid to Iraq. This is an additional commitment for Canada, who had promised 1.6 billions over three years back in February.
If there was any talk of the civilian casualties during the meeting, it has not reached the media. At the time this article was written, the Syrian Coalition was reportedly holding an urgent meeting “to discuss the situation in Manbij and to consider appropriate action to address such a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.”
Panelists Samantha Gold, Cem Ertekin and Jerry Gabriel discuss the Ghomeshi trials, recent terror attacks around the world and Netflix’s new actions regarding VPNs and Proxy Servers. Cem also gives us a McGill Update. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!
Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha
I admit it. I am prejudiced. Not against any religion, ethnic origin, gender or even political leaning. I am prejudiced against assholes.
They come in all colours and socio-economic statuses and run the gamut of beliefs, lifestyle habits and places of origin. There are a few things they all have in common: a desire for power, a willingness to do harm to any random person to either preserve or attain that power and a lust for physical violence.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some situations where violence is okay and, in fact, the only option. I’m talking about self-defense, defense of a loved one or retribution, but only when it is warranted retribution for physical violence and applied directly (please note that I am at best a glorified blogger and am in no way a court of law, me being okay with something does not mean you won’t go to jail).
Physical violence is also fine in UFC, boxing, pro wrestling and BDSM. Why? Because there is consent from both or all parties involved. More on that later.
Violence committed against random, unwilling targets is never acceptable and if you’re doing it, you’re either an asshole or anbeing led and duped by an asshole. Yes, I’m talking about you, terrorists who carried out the attacks in Brussels, Ankara, Paris, yesterday in Pakistan and other places.
While I’m not exactly stepping out on a limb by calling ISIS (or Daesh) members, supporters or leaders assholes, it feels good doing it nonetheless. If you can think blowing up random travelers in an airport or spectators in a concert hall that you don’t know will in any way stop the oppression wrought by the world’s imperial powers, you have been drastically misinformed and probably don’t care.
In fact, terror attacks only embolden other assholes: the privileged few running the show and those who very much want to be. While the Obamas of this world quietly drone strike anyone they can, the Trumps and Le Pens stir the cauldron of ethnic and religious hatred and preach that the way to fight terror is to label all Muslims as terrorists.
Some assholes blow random things and people up because they associate them with the violence another group of assholes has inflicted on the part of the world they are tied to through ethnicity and religion. Then the other assholes use that as an excuse to blow more things and people up in that same part of the world and blame the religion that the first group of assholes claims to follow.
It seems to me that the problem here isn’t religion, it’s assholes. If we need to be watching out for some group, profiling a group and discriminating against them, then the assholes in the world should be the prime candidates.
If we were all prejudiced against assholes, someone like Jian Ghomeshi would have been identified as one a long time ago. And if, by some artful trickery on his part, he still managed to get to where he got and do what he did, then the stories of his multiple survivors would have been enough to convince us.
Plus, the fact that he tried to plead that he was engaging in BDSM, something which requires clear consent (I told you I would come back to that), when the fact that clearly there was no consent would further make it clear that he was, in fact, an asshole. And don’t get me started on assholes like Roosh V and Bill Cosby.
Now, let’s be clear. I am aware that Ghomeshi’s sexual assault, the bombers’ murders and ethnic or religious scapegoating by politicians are all much more serious and specific charges than simply being an asshole and that is how these serious and specific cases should be treated. But this is about prejudice and profiling.
If we need to profile and be prejudiced against any particular group, let that group be assholes.
In this past week Beirut, Bagdad, Paris and most of Syria were the epicentres of yet another gruesome chapter of the war on terror. The images of a blood-stained Paris echoed the images of the Lebanese bloodbath that had followed the day before, but as one served as an echo chamber for the whole struggle against terrorism and radicalism the other was almost practically omitted: “after all,” some said, “it happens over there all the time!”
This gap in solidarity became much more than merely your routine ethnocentricity. Some have put forward the argument that it’s “normal” to feel more proximity to France, and this argument and the debate in general is in many ways the highest manifestation of how the war on terror is fuelled and perpetuated.
One of the best examples of this occurred in the wreckage of the Paris attacks on the On n’est pas couchés (ONPC) set–a renowned French talk-show rebranding itself On est solidaires for the occasion. During the televised debate where several politicians, artists and philosophers were invited, the discourse was the same–except for the notable exception of Jean-Luc Mélanchon (leader of the French left Parti de Gauche) and the philosopher Raphaël Glucksmann.
The drums of war were the same. The actors and the scenery had changed but the script was the same, the same one handed out in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks in the United States.
The journalists in charge of orchestrating the whole affair reminded the audience time after time that the message the show was promoting was one of solidarity and peace but there was a cognitive dissonance, it seems, between the message of peace they were promoting and the “clash of civilizations” speech that came out of their mouths. The “us” against “them” was reformulated time after time, “they hate us because we love life,” “they hate what we love, music, art, gastronomy”… with every passing sentence the arguments became ever more void.
In the conversation that lasted more than two hours, the fact that the totality of the eight assailants who ravaged Paris last Friday were all Europeans, born and raised, was never brought up. So much for the racists and xenophobes among us for whom the prospect of one of them being a refugee birthed in them a pleasure of orgasmic proportions.
Yet the conclusion François Hollande and the majority of the panelists reached, which now seems a Cannon Law, was that these young men weren’t French, they were Daesh. Once Hollande uttered those words in his speech to the French people, real debate and reflection upon how to put an end to all of this nonsensical bloodshed was silenced.
Once Hollande uttered those words, France’s foreign policy and interventionism, its interior policy with regards to the Muslim minority, and the utter failure of France’s “integration” policies and the state’s relationship with its invisible and silenced minorities were exempt from any criticism.
And thus in the days that followed, just like every time a Western city or capital is the target of a major terrorist attack, the mystification of the terrorist, of terrorism becomes the phantasmagoric object of all our hidden and deeply buried fears, a sort of blank sheet used as a deflection, to absolve us of all our sins.
This has become a routine affair in the past decade. Regardless of what country the attack might happen in, the drill is the same. It was same here after the attacks in Ottawa last year. Thus the real debate never really surfaces, the real question never really comes up: with all the anti-terrorism measures –le plan vigipirate in France, C-51 in Canada, the Patriot Act in the United States– do we feel safer?
Today Syria is engulfed in a brutal and gruesome conflict that has millions of refugees fleeing for their lives and, if anything, the attacks in Paris should be the wake-up call for Europeans to understand why. Iraq has been torn apart for the past decade and apart from Kabul in Afghanistan the Taliban pretty much control the stretches of territory that were in their possession before the invasion of 2001.
So instead of bombing Raaqa and swearing for more retaliation and pinning everything on the cosmic evil that is terrorism, it is our duty, while upholding the memory of the hundreds of thousands that perished in the past fifteen years, in this war on terror, to ask ourselves – hasn’t all of this become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Scores of innocent civilians laid lifeless in back to back attacks in Beirut and Paris and today, as I write this article, scores more will perish in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya because of wars that were not of their doing, caught in the crossfire of a war without end, that strengthens its grip with every attack, with every bombing, with every passing of “anti-terrorist” legislation.
We must ask ourselves the questions: “Who profits from this? What companies gained points on the stock market? Who has an interest in perpetuating the constant state of fear and hate?”
To use the terminology that Podemos has employed in Spain there is a caste, a transnational caste that has every interest not only propagating such terror but also in stabilizing and maintaining perpetual terror. This is the same caste that rails about refugees and yet on the other hand rants and criticizes “Western values.” It’s the same caste that authorizes airstrikes in the guise of retaliation and yet on the other hand guns down innocent civilians in the streets of Beirut and Paris.
On the chess board that is presented to us by the media, all of these different bloodthirsty actors are portrayed as enemies, Islamists versus Western forces, the bad guys versus the good guys, us versus them, when in fact their resolve and objective is the same, when in fact what links them all together is that they are fuelled by grief, destruction and death. From this vantage point, the us and them is a fake dichotomy, a rhetoric that only finds some sort of grounding in the clash of civilizations doctrine that is their lifeline.
In reality it has never been about us and them, Arabs and Westerns. It’s about a military-financial-complex. The vicious tempo of its ever expansionary cycle has pushed more areas to be colonized by terror and in the wake of its passage deadlier and more gruesome attacks will be symptomatic. For as long as some profit off of war, others will have to die.
In the aftermath of the terrible events of the past week, in the memory of all of the victims of this never-ending war on terror, the victims of Kabul, of Baghdad, of Damascus, of Beirut, of Mosul, of Kenya and Yemen, of Bali, of New York and Washington, of Paris, of London, of Madrid, of all of the victims of this horrible war, it is our duty to honour them, to put an end to the false dichotomy and thus an end to this war!
* This article originally appeared on QuietMike.org and is republished with permission from the author
While the rest of the world debates how handsome Canada’s new Prime Minister is, actual Canadians are just relieved to be rid of Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party for the first time in a decade.
While Canadians are happy with the change, promises were made, and we’re all curious to see just how many promises Justin Trudeau is able to keep. According to trudeaumetre.ca, a self-proclaimed non-partisan website dedicated to tracking Trudeau’s election promises, he made a total of 174 such assurances.
That is a lot of promises by anybody’s standards. They vary in size and importance, and it will certainly take a lot of work. From tax changes to full marijuana legalization, it will be a busy four year mandate to be sure.
Of the 174, there are a select few that may turn some heads within Canada and even the rest of the world. Here are the top five Justin Trudeau promises:
Taxing the Rich
After almost ten years of Conservative rule, it’s no surprise that Canadians find themselves with the smallest tax burden in half a century. That might seem great on the surface, but Harper’s Reaganomics policies have led to a big spike in income inequality along with huge gaps in investments toward infrastructure, research, manufacturing and just about everything else.
In order to reverse these trends, Trudeau promised to change Canada’s tax code by taxing the 1% more while cutting taxes on the middle-class within his first 100 days. He’ll also reverse the Conservative government’s doubling of Tax Free Savings Account limits and the income splitting they introduced for families with young children. Both of which overwhelmingly favour the wealthy.
On a separate note, Trudeau was also elected on the promise to run a $10 billion deficit for each of his first three years to jump start Canada’s economy, which is now in an official recession. The money will be used primarily for infrastructure.
Harper’s government and office was exceptionally secretive, to the point where Canada’s scientists were even muzzled. It was welcoming news then to hear Justin Trudeau promise to modernize Canada’s Access to Information Act. A deed not done since the time of Justin’s famous dad.
The Liberals have pledged to eliminate all but the $5 submission fee for access to information requests. Under the new and improved act, Trudeau has promised to give the Information Commissioner more power along with the ability to require federal departments to disclose information. They will essentially bring more federal departments, including the Prime Minister’s Office, under the act.
ISIS and Terrorism
Along from pledging allegiance to Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel, Stephen Harper, during his only Majority Government, also managed to bomb three separate Muslim countries (Libya, Iraq and Syria). None of which has yielded any positive results, just more disorder.
Although it is yet to be seen if we stop taking sides in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Trudeau has promised to put an end to the bombing campaign against ISIS. The Liberals seem keen on returning to the peacekeeping days of the past which Canada was famous for.
Trudeau has already announced an end to the mission and has announced a continuation in the training of the Iraqi military. Iraqi troops have come under fire for human rights abuses recently so Justin will have to tread lightly.
When Trudeau originally made the promise of electoral reform, his party was running in third place. Hopefully now that he is enjoying a newly elected majority government thanks to the strategic voting of Canadians, he doesn’t rescind on his promise.
Electoral reform done right should change the country forever and for the better, but it would also be the difficult task to accomplish. Trudeau said during the campaign that he will consult Canadians on a new electoral system with an aim to adopt proportional representation.
First he’ll need to teach average Canadians what proportional representation actually is, then he’ll need the provinces to sign off on it. It will be difficult, but not impossible, and in a country with five major parties, it is absolutely necessary. No one should form a majority government with less than 40% of the vote. Nor should a party have to settle for one seat after accruing 5%.
Marijuana for All
After the Liberal Party’s thrashing during the 2011 election, the party decided to make marijuana legalization part of the platform in order to win back voters. Justin Trudeau was elected party leader not soon after and with it came the announcement that he had smoked pot while serving as a Member of Parliament (at home, on his front porch, at a party, while the kids were away). Aside from some Conservative Parliamentarians, no one was really upset.
Perhaps Justin was testing the waters a little, maybe he just wanted to be honest when he was asked. Regardless, Trudeau did pledge to legalize and regulate the sale and taxing of marijuana across the country. A measure if carried out to fruition, will have worldwide consequences.
No one knows yet what legalization will look like, whether it will be open to private industry for instance, regulated the same way as alcohol or controlled differently by each province. What we do know, is that no major country on earth has gone beyond decriminalization at the national level.
I have no doubt that Trudeau will move to decriminalize within the first few months. If however he decides to take it to the next level, he will be sending a powerful message to the United States and the rest of the world about the sorry state of the war on drugs. He’ll even have to break several international treaties to do it. Now that would be progress.
I was born in Canada and I have no other country that I could theoretically be considered a citizen of. I guess that means I’m safe. Unfortunately, there are quite a few people who do not fit this bill. Even if you were born in Canada, if you could conceivably claim citizenship in another country, you are now a second-class Canadian citizen under the law, thanks to Harper`s Bill C-24, the so-called “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act,” which passed on June 11th.
Now, anyone convicted of “terrorism or treason” could have their Canadian citizenship revoked if they are a dual citizen or there is a chance they could become the citizen of another country. That means if your grandparents were born somewhere else, you could conceivably get citizenship in that country and the law applies.
C-24 Makes C-51 a Whole Lot More Real
If you qualify as a second-class Canadian, you may not be too worried. You’re not planning on committing treason or carrying out a terrorist act and neither are your friends.
Well, now that C-51 is law, it’s not clear just what constitutes terrorism and what doesn’t. The current government is free to label activists they don’t like as terrorists, as is any future government until the law is repealed. Economic boycott, a respectable and effective tactic, could also fall under terrorism according to C-51.
Working in tandem, C-24 and C-51 make it possible for a recent immigrant or someone born here to lose their citizenship for doing something that has been legal up until now and should always be.
Ironic Nightmare Scenarios
Imagine, if you will, a Canadian citizen who could theoretically live in another country. They take part in, say, an Idle No More solidarity action. Harper and company decide to label that terrorism.
This person then gets labelled a terrorist or terrorism promoter under C-51 and then loses their citizenship under C-24. Effectively forced to leave Canada for defending the one group that actually has a right to be here but are treated as second-class citizens already.
Now imagine a Jewish Canadian who participates in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement criticizing Israel. If the government decides to label this economic terrorism, C-51 would make this person a terrorist.
Now, given that Israel grants a right to return to all Jewish people, this person would be considered someone who could go and live there and therefore could lose their Canadian citizenship under C-24. So, they could be forced to live in the very country they are urging a boycott against.
What C-24 Really Is
Above all, C-24 is an intimidation tactic. As long as the risk of being deported or left in limbo for speaking your mind is present, protesting the government or their friends just won’t seem worth the risk to many.
Revoking citizenship for actual crimes or actual terrorism is one thing. Making the consequences dire for expressing an opinion not in favour with the current powers that be is truly frightening.
Change through the political process is important, but without a grassroots opposition that is free to mobilize, it is irrelevant. When you take away the right to protest and oppose, you’re basically left with a fully democratic, open and transparent dictatorship. Yes, people get to change the dictator every four years (or sooner in a minority situation), but when they’re in power, only parliament and mainstream media pundits can oppose them, not the general public.
This should not be a partisan issue or even a left-right thing. Dictatorship is bad no matter who the dictator is.
I wouldn’t want to live under a Harper dictatorship any more than one run by Mulcair, Trudeau, Gilles Duceppe or even Elizabeth May, though the last one, I have to admit, would at least be entertaining. As long as these two laws stay on the books, that’s pretty much what we’re getting.
I don’t use the “d” word lightly, in fact this is the first time I have used it in relation to Canadian politics. But then again, I don’t take C-51 and C-24 lightly, either, and neither should you or, for that matter, anyone.
Bill C-51, the Harper Government’s so-called anti-terror legislation, is now the law of the land in Canada. It passed the House of Commons last month and yesterday it passed the Senate. While supporters of the bill argued that it will make Canadians safer, this Canadian felt a whole lot safer before this thing was law.
Now Anyone Can Be Labelled A Terrorist
One of the most jarring elements of this legislation is that it makes what it calls the “promotion of terrorism” punishable by five years in prison and websites being taken down. The problem is that it doesn’t define what is and what isn’t terrorism.
This is really frightening to anyone who expresses an opinion or advocates actions that are contrary to the interests of the current or future governments. Supporters of Idle No More and environmental activists whom the Harper regime has already tried to affix the terrorist label to have a reason to be scared, but they’re not the only ones.
While it does say that “lawful protest” is not terrorism, anyone ticketed under Montreal’s Municipal Bylaw P-6 knows that what’s lawful can be redefined in defiance of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a moment’s notice by pretty much any level of government.
Civil disobedience is our right as Canadians. It’s also a good way to keep the pressure on until unconstitutional laws get overturned in court. That could be considerably more difficult with the prospect of being labelled a terrorist or promoting terrorism hanging over your head.
Another chilling part of C-51 is how it labels threats to the economic interests of Canada, or another country, acts of terrorism. This might make you think of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at Israel. Given that the Harper regime is already letting it leak that they may use hate speech laws against BDS activists, the prospect of going after them with C-51 isn’t that much of a stretch.
But, as one surprisingly honest RCMP officer admitted, the law could be used to target anyone who uses economic pressure tactics like boycotts:
Economic protest is not only one of the most effective tools out there, it is also a non-violent tactic which is everyone’s right to use. When you equate boycotting a company or a country with doing physical harm to actual humans, you are taking the personification of corporations to a whole new level which it should never be at.
No Need Except Political
The saddest thing about this Bill is that there is no need for it to begin with. The Ottawa shooting was not an act of terrorism.
So when you hear Justin Trudeau argue that the bill is flawed but needed, you can deduce that he only means it is needed for political purposes, to help him secure votes on the right. When he promises to make changes to C-51 if elected, it’s simply a ploy to keep some votes on the left.
It was a clever plan that seems to have backfired on him and the Liberals. There are even protesters at his rallies now saying that he’s the same as Harper because of his stance on C-51.
This is working out very well for the NDP. The anti-Harper vote is starting to galvanize behind them. Admittedly, at one point, leader Tom Mulcair was quoted saying that the party opposes the bill but he would only make changes to it if elected. That has changed, rather dramatically, with the NDP and its leader emphatically saying they will repeal it completely if they form government:
Mulcair is now listening to his party’s base and the Canadian left in general. He knows he needs to do so to become Prime Minister. But this is going beyond the left-right axis. Even Conservative supporters have realized that this law is bad news and needs to be done away with.
Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t carry over to any Conservative senators. It also escaped some of the now former Liberal senators, though most of the ex-Liberal Senate Caucus did vote against the bill to their credit. The Canadian Senate had one chance to prove itself useful and it failed miserably.
Honestly, if they had stopped C-51 from becoming law, all the Mike Duffys in the world wouldn’t be able to stop my appreciation. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
228 People On My Shit List
Between the House of Commons and the Senate, 227 people voted in favour of C-51. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, interestingly enough, was out of the country at the time of the vote in the HOC, so he wasn’t counted, but I’m going to count him anyway, because I’m sure how he would have voted.
So 228 people, 228 elected officials, for whatever reason, decided to vote to enact a needless law that stripped away some of our basic rights and freedoms. 228 people voted to put their own political interests ahead of the rights of the people they were elected to represent.
It’s never a good idea to take things personally. But, in this case, I can’t avoid it. As someone who enjoys expressing my opinion which at times conflicts with the aspirations of the current government and may promote causes which are potentially damaging to the economic interests of the friends of the powers that be, I am horrified that 228 people think it’s okay to label me as a terrorist or terrorist promoter.
This is beyond politics. This is beyond what is acceptable in a democratic society. This is one of the most un-Canadian things I have ever encountered.
C-51 doesn’t need to be amended. It needs to be repealed immediately. Thrown away, spat on, stomped on and otherwise abused until it is no longer part of our present or history.
For those not frothing at the mouth like I am, or those who want to do something positive to get rid of this monstrosity (I’ll join you soon enough, promise), OpenMedia.ca has a helpful guide of potential next steps for those opposed to C-51.
For those 228 fellow Canadians who supported a law which scares me to the core, I have two words: FUCK YOU!
On Wednesday, as most Canadian politicos were either basking in the afterglow of the Orange Wave which swept Alberta or nursing their hangovers, the House of Commons passed Bill C-51, the Harper Government’s so-called anti-terror legislation. This wasn’t a surprise by a longshot, but it is, nonetheless extremely unfortunate.
All the major parties voted as the said they would. The Conservatives voted for it, the NDP and Greens against, and the Liberals, living up to half of their promise to help make it law and then change it if they come to power, voted yea.
Much has been said about how this Bill is fundamentally flawed and over-reaching. Many pundits, including myself, have raised concerns that C-51’s definition of terrorism was left vague so the bill could be used as a weapon against the government’s political opponents such as environmentalists, First Nations, BDS supporters and others.
One thing that really hasn’t been talked about, though, is that even if C-51 was on-target and not a typical Harper Omnibus distraction, there still wouldn’t be need for it at all.
A Tale of Two Tragedies
I will never forget the Dawson shooting. My old CEGEP turned into a crime scene. Anastasia DeSouza was gunned down, an innocent, random victim of one man’s violent delusion. Her murderer, Kimveer Gill, killed himself after being shot in the arm by police, though this is one of those rare times when I think deadly force by police would have been justified.
At the end of the day, two people were dead, one an innocent victim, one very much the exact opposite. Several people were injured and survivors were left traumatized.
It was a terrible tragedy. In the aftermath people were calling for tighter firearms regulations and improved services for people suffering from mental illness. No one, though, was screaming terrorism, because it wasn’t. It was the act of one man.
What happened last October in Ottawa was also a tragedy. Corporal Nathan Frank Cirillo died senselessly, the victim of one man’s delusion. His killer, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was justifiably killed by Parliament Hill Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers.
At the end of the day, two people were dead, one innocent, one guilty. Others were injured and survivors were traumatized. I don’t laugh at Prime Minister Harper hiding in a broom closet (though I do question the RCMP’s exit strategy for a head of state), he’s human and was a victim of this event, too.
Despite its similarities to the Dawson shooting and other horrific attacks carried out by troubled lone gunmen, the reaction to the Parliament Hill shooting was different. It was instantly labelled as a terrorist attack.
A few thousand people, or even just a few people, killed by a coordinated assault planned by a group is a terrorist attack. It doesn’t justify something like the Patriot Act, in my opinion, but at least the shoe fits. A lone gunman going on a spree is a spree killing, even if the spree is cut short after one or a few victims.
While Zehaf-Bibeau may have had thoughts of jihad in his head and chose targets based on his take on world politics, he was still just a disturbed man acting without outside coordination. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was as much a member of ISIS as Kimveer Gill was the Angel of Death he claimed to be on a website.
Political Reasons Only
Justin Trudeau was interviewed on Vice News a few weeks ago. Shane Smith asked him about his party’s confusing position on C-51. Trudeau said that despite C-51’s faults, “there are a number of things in that legislation that increase security for Canadians, that do make us safer at a time when people are worried about terrorism.”
I’d honestly like to know what those things are. How does anything in a bill, inspired by an event that is not terrorism, but the act of a disturbed individual, protect Canadians against the bogeyman of terrorism?
It can’t, but that’s not the point. The point, at least for Trudeau, is “at a time when people are worried about terrorism.”
It’s politics, pure and simple. Polls, albeit sketchy polls, showed support for the bill at the time. He went for it. So did the Bloc Quebecois. When C-51 came up for a vote, though, the Bloc voted against it. I guess they saw that the bill was now opposed by many. If there ever was a time for the Liberals to flip-flop and not suffer for it, it was Wednesday.
There are so many ways Trudeau could have sold a reversal on this that even the cleverest Dipper wouldn’t be able to use it to hurt his party. While I’m not a Liberal supporter by any stretch of the imagination, I would have welcomed it. The more voices against this bill, the better. I even wrote to Marc Garneau, my current MP, asking him to convince his boss to change his tune.
Being the anti-Harper candidate doesn’t just mean looking younger and fresher and having somewhat more progressive social policies. It means opposing crap bills with no purpose like C-51.
Instead, Trudeau stuck to his badly aimed guns. The opposition to this monstrosity of a piece of legislation now clearly belongs to Tom Mulcair. The NDP leader is a moderate centrist at best, but, thanks to a little bit of rain on his hair and some serious Liberal bungling, he has the chance to come across as a street fighter, standing on a soapbox railing against oppression and invoking the War Measures Act and Duplessis’ Padlock Laws. He’s Angry Tom who’s angry for a very good reason.
C-51 may have cost Justin Trudeau any chance he had in the upcoming election. That is, if people remember a few months from now that he sided with Harper on a bill which has no purpose but potentially horrible repercussions. If they do, he can forget about the left. As for the right, why would they vote for Harper Light when the real deal is also on the ballot?
This colossal miscalculation on the part of the Liberals doesn’t necessarily mean a new era, though. Stephen Harper is still one of the craftiest politicians out there. Even if the anti-Harper vote crystallizes into a shade of orange, some of what once was red may turn blue and join their right-wing brethren to fight the feared wave.
The real trick is convincing all, or most, Canadians, whether they lean right, left, stay in the centre or don’t really care about politics at all, that taking away our basic rights to express ourselves for manufactured purposes is just plain wrong.
The stage is now set for round two of the charter debate. It’s sort of like a Star Wars sequel, only in this one it’s the bigots and the political opportunists that strike back. Maybe in some ways it’s the Empire, if you mean by that the dominant oppressive forces that are in play in Quebec and broader Canadian society nowadays.
During the infamous debate about the charter, I wrote that Pauline Marois, with her quest into the heart of darkness of Quebec, had given Harper and the Conservative Party a priceless electoral blueprint. In fact, contrary of common knowledge, the Conservative movement and the Sovereignist movement have a lot more in common than the rest of the electoral pack.
With C-51 it looks as if, unfortunately, that my prediction has been vindicated. Xenophobia sells in Canada in general and in Quebec in particular. The snake oil of security and secularism in disguise has become but another means to divert attention away from unpopular neo-liberal shock doctrine while reinvigorating the omnipresence of the state.
For all that the libertarian prophecies of neoliberal and neoconservative think-tanks, their rhetoric of “no government is good government” and that “government is the problem,” C-51 is nothing more than a power swap in favor of more state power. It’s an 18th of Brumaire coup that allows neoliberal forces to consolidate their coercive power.
C-51 is ultimately a brilliant strategic move. It enables this Conservative government to do two things. First and foremost, they can use it to sideline any in depth debate about the economic model that they have imposed on Canadians from coast to coast to coast since their tenure in power, a model that is tatters. You just have to take a look at Alberta. Secondly, it allows them to crush any resistance that might have already been brewing, to kill in the egg social and environmental movements such as Idle No More or more recently ShutDownCanada.
In the House of Commons, Liberals and Conservatives alike called for non-partisanship and for consensus, even though consensus cannot happen in the absence of debate. That, though, is the objective. The incidents that took the lives of two Canadian Army officials, in Ottawa and in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, gave the Conservatives the perfect opening to apply their shock doctrine.
In the wake of those events the country was in shock. It was time to pass legislation that couldn’t be passed before, and this is where C-51 comes into play. This bill is the armed-wing of the economic policies that have been put forward by this Conservative government.
C-51 will outlaw any tentative to unseat or destabilize the Conservative economic agenda. Further with the Liberal Party voting in favor of it, it seems that at the end of the electoral cycle win or lose, if the Liberals win, Stephen Harper still wins.
In this context “Islamic Radicalism” and “Terrorism” are merely facade. Needless to say, when toddlers kill more Americans than terrorism, it puts the whole debate into perspective. It’s a means, a destructive means towards a destructive end. Quell the opposition to the petrostate once and for all.
The good news coming out of C-51 is that we are all or can possibly be defined as “domestic terrorists” within the months to come. We should wear that badge with pride and oppose this bill vehemently in the streets and the courts. Let the battle begin! #iamaterrorist.
For weeks, months actually, it seemed like you were a done deal. People had started focusing on who was the better choice to replace you. Was Justin really that much different? Could the NDP base actually move Mulcair enough to the left that they would be able to make real progress? Maybe we should just abandon all parties and form a new participatory democracy?
Then, like an obnoxious party guest no one invited but who still managed to crash on the couch, Harper wakes up, still drunk on his own power. Everyone else is having a serious, though contentious, discussion about the future and the different ways to make things better when Harper lets out an enormous belch, reminding everyone just who the biggest asshole in the room still is.
That smelly, loud belch, better known as Bill C-51, or the “Anti-Terrorism Act 2015” in Harperspeak, is a piece of legislation that would grant broad, sweeping powers to CSIS to prevent terrorism or the promotion of terrorism. The problem is, it doesn’t really define what terrorism is.
I know the image the Conservatives want people to associate with this bill: that of Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau in particular and radical Islam in general. But that’s not what the bill says. In fact, it doesn’t say much about what constitutes a terrorist. Seeing as people can get five years in prison for just “promoting” an undefined concept and have their websites shut down, too, I think a bit of clarity is in order.
Open to Interpretation
The bill does try to define what it hopes to prevent. As you can see in the screenshot to the left and by reading the actual document (PDF), it doesn’t really get the job done.
We get a list of things which, for the most part, are things that I think most people reading this would agree should be prevented, like proliferation of chemical weapons. However, there is one bullet point, Clause D, which simply says “terrorism” with no explanation.
Consider for a moment that over the past few years, the Harper Government has been busy trying to apply the terrorist label to environmental activists and Idle No More protesters alike. With this new law in place, what would stop them from also going after any journalist, blogger or supporter who may take up their cause?
Could it be the last point in this section? The one that says “it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression”? Well, what constitutes lawful advocacy? It’s not clear. This passage sounds nice, but it still depends on who is defining the terms.
Let’s look at point I: “an activity that takes place in Canada but undermines the security of another state.” I wonder what state they could be referring to? Could it be Israel? Now consider that the Harper definition of security includes economic security (point A), then couldn’t a blog post promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel be considered to be promoting undermining the economic security of another state and therefore promoting terrorism?
When you start sending activists and bloggers to jail for opinions that reflect a popular view that is at odds with that of the government, you are only slightly better than Saudi Arabia.
It’s Not Just the Left that Needs to Fight This
This goes beyond the left-right paradigm. Even if you’re not a fan of the environment, the first people to live in the place we now call Canada or those who are willing to fight for basic rights for the Palestinian people, you too should oppose this bill.
Think about it: Harper may lose the next election. If this bill becomes law before he does, then the next Prime Minister would be able to use it and interpret what constitutes terrorism however they like.
Let’s say you run a group calling for the dissolution of the CBC. You blog about it, you write Facebook posts about it. What if that Commie Mulcair (yes, I know Tom Mulcair is not a communist and to suggest so is offensive to actual communists, but I’m trying to appropriate some right-wing lingo) decides that trying to destroy the CBC is a threat to the economic security of Canada. What if pretty boy Trudeau says “just watch me” as he has your blog removed from the web and sends you to prison for five years?
If Bill C-51 becomes law, all bets are off. Once there are wide-sweeping powers in place that can be directed at anyone the government of the day decides is promoting terrorism, we’re all potential terrorists.
So thank you, Stephen Harper, for proving to everyone that you’re still the biggest asshole in the room. I can only hope we can all come together and make sure this bill does not become law.
On Sunday, January 18, around 300 people gathered in Place Émilie-Gamelin, in remembrance of the thousands of people murdered by Boko Haram, a militant insurgent group active in Nigeria. Active since 2002, the group has killed nearly 10,000 people in 2014, and has caused nearly 1,5 million people to escape from their homes.
Boko Haram came under the scrutiny of Western media back in April 2014, when they kidnapped more than 300 schoolgirls in Chibok. The group threatened to sell the schoolgirls into slavery, and based on survivor accounts did horrible things to them. The twitter hashtag #BringOurGirlsBackHome trended very highly at the time – even First Lady Michelle Obama posed with a piece of paper with the words written on it.
Most recently, however, Boko Haram killed 2000 people, in the same week as the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The international response to Boko Haram has been widely criticized, however, as mainstream media focused more on the deaths of 12 European people. In contrast to Charlie Hebdo, Boko Haram’s acts receive less widespread coverage, even in Nigeria, where the group is active. Some argue that mainstream media has ignored Boko Haram, simply because it is actually very difficult to go into Nigeria, and try and cover the news. After all, Boko Haram is known to target journalists.
Nevertheless, the point remains that one of the greatest massacres in human history (according to Amnesty International) is receiving less attention than it should. It then remains to vigils and demonstrations like this one to bring about that attention, and raise global awareness.
Wednesday April 4, 2012. Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece is bustling at its habitual frantic pace. A 77 year old man stands solemnly in front of the Greek parliament, holding a handgun. Then, he shoots himself in the head, putting an end to his life, and leaving behind a note: An outline of what had lead to the unfolding of this tragic end.
“I have no other way to react apart from finding a dignified end before I start sifting through garbage for food,” he has written on the note. His last wish was “to leave no debts to his children.”
The fact that the 77-year-old pensioner shot himself in front of the Greek parliament wasn’t a coincidence, it was a symbolic act. It could even be considered a “terrorist” act if we employ the same logic as the mainstream Canadian media has in the wake of the Ottawa shooting.
In August 2001, economic punishment claimed yet another life. Kimberly Rogers, a 40 year-old, 8 month pregnant Ontarian, died while she was under house arrest for welfare fraud, because of the restraints that the Ontario social services had imposed on her, under the directives of the Mike Harris government and the guidelines of the Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty.
Ms. Rogers only had a total of 18$ to spend on common necessities such as rent, food and hydro per month.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. The correlation between the imposition of austerity measures that produce economic hardship on the most impoverished sections of society and the increase in suicide rates has been verified by several studies since the start of the economic recession in 2008. Most recently, a British conducted study claimed that austerity measures caused over 10,000 deaths since the start of the economic crisis. This just goes to prove that there is an undeniable link between economic conditions and mental health.
In the past few weeks, many have qualified the Ottawa shooting, a suicidal attempt in many ways, as an “act of terrorism,” and yet, somehow, the events just described above do not qualify as terrorist.
Wasn’t the shooting in front of the Greek parliament in itself an act of terrorism, for did it not instill terror? In the past few weeks many have come out stating the obvious: Michael Zehaf Bibeau had mental health issues. This being said, neither the mainstream media nor politicians have asked the real question that requires an answer: what was the cause of his mental health issues?
First and foremost, whereas the tragic crime of Michael Zehaf Bibeau can be qualified as terrorism, the desperate act of a 77 year-old pensioner in Greece can’t. The reason is simple, the former’s motive was to push for a political agenda, while the latter aimed to discredit the dominant political discourse.
The only difference I see is that Zehaf Bibeau committed a murder, which is a crime and is inexcusable. But both events, in terms of symbolic importance, are the same. They are both attacks on the political consciousness. But most importantly, they are both the manifestations of a profound sickness within the societies in which they took place.
At the end of the nineteenth century, amid profound social transformation unleashed by the industrial revolution, the forefather of modern sociology Émile Durkheim established the link—after an extensive study of suicide in France and Germany—between the changing economic sphere, economic marginalization, the weakening of social links and a sharp rise in suicide rates. The idea that dismal economic situations, extreme poverty and alienation in the workplace, which produced massive marginalization and a rise in mental health issues, was continued during the second half of the twentieth century by Michel Foucault, who wrote Madness and Civilization:A history of insanity. In his book, Foucault elaborated that “folie” or mental health issues transformed in advanced capitalism. Further, Gilles Deleuze underlined in his works the correlation between some capitalist activities and schizophrenia.
Despite being very straightforward, the fact that our social environment, the structure within which we work and live, and the economic system that rules over our daily lives have very direct and real influences over our mental well-being has been completely shut out of the picture. Mental illness is certainly a fact. But exclusion, marginalization, and the social context in which both Martin Rouleau and Michael Zehaf Bibeau lived certainly had an impact on them, and thus on their actions. Once again mental health is used here an exit strategy. “He had mental health issues,” and that’s all there is to it!
Unfortunately this does not cut it, because both individuals seemed to “blend-in” perfectly with society—Michael Zehaf Bibeau was a exemplar student during his high school year. So, what brought about this tragic turn of events?
In Zehaf Bibeau’s case, his obvious marginalization, economical hardship and difficulties of living a homeless life probably had a major influence on the young man and most certainly were factors that contributed largely to the deterioration of his mental health. Unfortunately, no importance whatsoever is given to those aspects that might have been the cause of his subsequent radicalization. The only thing the media has taken from the Zehaf Bibeau’s story is that he was a Muslim.
How many homeless Canadians are wandering the streets, today? How many Canadian families are terrorized by the fact that they won’t make ends meet?
More than 800,000 Canadians rely on Food Banks to have some sort of “proper” nourishment. A staggering amount of Canadians live very difficult precarious economic situations. While the plight of Canada’s most diminished has been soaring within the past decade, austerity measures have been applied across the board. Profound cuts to food banks and community services have been applied by various levels of government to “balance the budget.” Provincial and federal governments have ripped apart the Canadian mental health system, and thousands of Canadians are in desperate need of affordable housing, and social housing. Some have said during the past weeks, that Canada got a taste of its own medicine: “Canada declared war and must now deal with the consequences.”
But once again that is a form of criticism, which fits with the dominant political discourse that wants us not to question the austerity agenda. What if Zehaf Bibeau was radicalized not by ISIS or some video, with “cool” special effects on the Internet, but by the economical repression he lived on a daily basis?
Terror breeds terror, and so does austerity, in more ways than one.
So, here we go again. Thirteen years after the tragedy at the World Trade Center on September 11, and eleven years after the beginning of the Second Gulf War, a coalition of the ‘’willing’’ is being put together to salvage the what remains of Iraqi democracy.
But let’s be clear here. There is nothing ‘’humanitarian’’ about this third intervention in Iraq, and neither will it resolve anything. Sorry Stevie.
When the lessons of the past aren’t learned properly, or when they’re thrown purposefully into the trash bin, the missteps of the past become the fatal mistakes of the future. As the saying goes: History repeats itself first as tragedy, second as farce. But I don’t know what would it be the third time around. A comical apocalypse? The question that must be asked and yet isn’t being asked by the mainstream media is quite simple: Why? Why again? Why us? Why should we think this will help?
Once again, at a frantic pace, the Conservatives and the Liberals are trying to turn the debate regarding the Canadian intervention in Iraq into a Manichean argument, a choice between good and evil: Either you’re for boots on the ground, or you’re with the terrorists! Anything less than military intervention is, apparently, unthinkable. For them, the roots of Islamic terrorism have to be “bombed out,” and obliterated.
But then one must wonder: Isn’t this the same strategy that was also used or attempted in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria? Didn’t the international community, through their sponsorship of radical Islamic organizations, ease the toppling of several governments in the region? Didn’t Western governments, de facto, pave the way for the chaos and massacres that are currently unfolding? Yes, absolutely!
Using the same strategy, with the same problematic actors, yet still expecting a different outcome is insanity.
Blatant, disingenuous hypocrisy fuels the Conservative government’s foreign policy, especially when it comes to the so-called “war on terror.” This is the same hypocrisy employed by the Bush administration, which thought that terror could root out terror, that torture could save the world from cruelty, that bigotry and racism could shun bigotry and racism. Unfortunately, this ideology of fighting fire with fire has left the whole of Middle East in blazes.
The Guantanamo Bay strategy, using brutal and cruel tactics to fight against brutality and cruelty, has utterly failed in the past and will utterly fail again, but this time around Canada will have indelible blood on its hands.
So, this is the non-strategy that the Conservative government and their Liberal allies are offering us on the silver platter of media: Military intervention with no timeline; no real notion of how many Canadian troops will be sent or what role they might serve; no strong local allies except for the dysfunctional Iraqi government, whose lack of legitimacy is the reason behind the current crisis; and no exit strategy.
As for the rhetorical fallacy of acting as “military advisors,” let’s remember, that back in the 1960s, US president Lyndon B. Johnson promised Americans, that the US’s role in Vietnam would only be an advisory one; we all know how that story turned out.
Maybe, deep down inside, Harper is waiting impatiently for his “Bushian moment.” Maybe he has developed some sort of a Bush complex —something that within the neo-conservative ranks is similar to the Napoleon complex — and this is the moment he has been waiting for all of his life?
How many lives will it take for his folie de grandeur to be exorcised?
It’s not the kind of Olympic-related publicity the Montreal Canadiens were looking for, but it’s what they got.
An as-of-yet unnamed Ukranian man tried to divert an Istambul-bound flight to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, claiming he had explosives. Fortunately he was subdued and none of the 110 passengers were injured, so focus can now shift to the strange part of this story: he was wearing a Montreal Canadiens jersey.
Make that a knockoff Montreal Canadiens jersey. Later analysis of twitter images revealed that the #11 on his shirt is red. Numbers on official Habs jerseys have never been red, so it’s a fake!
So, not only is the man in question giving a bad name to Habs fans, he didn’t even buy the official merchandise to do it.
The man was apparently intoxicated, which makes sense considering he chose to pay for a flight to Istanbul then tried to divert it to Sochi through terrorism instead of just paying for a flight to Sochi in the first place. If intoxication is not an excuse when Habs fans behave badly at home, it shouldn’t be an excuse for this guy either.