Trudeau

Peacekeeping: Fiction vs. Reality

(Image: Protest in Haiti against UN sexual crimes against women. Source)

The word peacekeeping is like the word terrorism: it is meaningless on its own and able to be molded to serve the interests of a political clique. Like Alex P. Schmidt’s description of terrorism in The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research, peacekeeping “is usually an instrument for the attempted realization of a political…project that perpetrators lacking mass support are seeking”[1].

Peacekeepers have never kept the peace in any conflict. On the contrary, peacekeepers themselves have been linked to an increase in violence and human rights abuses, particularly of a sexual nature. In Bosnia, Somalia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, peacekeepers have been “associated with criminal misconduct, including sexual violence. Crimes against women and children have followed UN peacekeeping operations in several locations, and the UN reported that the entrance of peacekeeping troops into a conflict situation has been associated with a rapid rise in child prostitution”[2]. Allegations of sexual violence against peacekeepers dates back to the 1990s. During the 1995-2002 UN mission in Bosnia, Kathryn Bolkovac, a human rights investigator, found that young “girls from Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and other Eastern European countries [were] being brought in to service the UN and military bases as sex-slaves. The cases involved the officers from many foreign countries, including the USA, Pakistan, Germany, Romania, Ukraine, government contractors, and local organized criminals”[3]. Bolkovac was subsequently fired for her investigation. As of 2015 more than 200 women and girls have been sexually exploited by UN peacekeepers in Haiti in exchange for food, clothing, medicine, and other basic necessities [4]. In the Central African Republic, French peacekeepers have forced young girls to have sex with dogs [5], starving and homeless boys as young as nine have been sodomized by peacekeepers [6], and an entire UN contingent was expelled from the country due to sex crimes [7].

Extrajudicial murder, torture, and mass murder – all war crimes under international law – have also been committed by peacekeepers. A 14-year-old Somali boy was beaten, tortured, and murdered by Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia; the peacekeepers having posed in photos with the boy’s bloody corpse. Not to be outdone, Belgian peacekeepers were photographed roasting a Somali over a fire. (more…)

War is Peace: The Foreign Policy of Justin Trudeau

Since July of this year, rumours have been circulating of a major Canadian Forces deployment in Africa. Those rumours have now been confirmed. As of late August, the Trudeau Liberals have pledged up to 600 troops in support of United Nations missions on the continent. This comes on the heels of an earlier commitment, made in late-June, to deploy 450 troops to Latvia in support of NATO missions in eastern Europe, as well as the addition in February of over 100 special forces to Canada’s mission in Iraq. In total, the Liberals have pledged to deploy more than 1000 soldiers across the globe in the short span of just seven months. This is a far cry from what was supposed to be a departure from the Harper era. In many ways, it is far worse.

In no other department have the Liberals veered farther from their expectations than in foreign policy. Trudeau went to great lengths to distance himself from his predecessor during the campaign. Among other things, he promised he would end the combat mission in Iraq. Upon being elected, he said he would restore Canada’s “compassionate and constructive voice in the world.” Many were led to believe that Harper’s divisive foreign policy had come to an end. But it is unlikely that this was ever Trudeau’s intention.

(more…)

Death and Destruction in Iraq

On May 1, 2003, George W Bush stood in a dinky little flying suit on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and in a super stage-managed appearance told the lie of the century: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.”

The illegal occupation and decimation of Iraq continued until December 2011. In June 2014 they returned to bomb again in the guise of combating ISIS. As the 13th anniversary of Bush’s appearance with a vast “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, Iraq is largely in ruins, Iraqis have fled the murderous “liberation” and it’s aftermath in millions and there are over three million internally displaced.

The nation is pinned between a tyrannical, corrupt US puppet government, a homicidal, head chopping, raping, organ eating, history erasing, US-spawned ISIS – and a renewed, relentless US bombardment. So much for the 2008 US-Iraq State of Forces agreement, which stated that by December 31, 2011: “all United States forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory.”

On the USS Abraham Lincoln Bush stated: “In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world … Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.”

In what has transpired to be monumental irony, he continued: “The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of Al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding.” There was of course, no Al-Qaida in Iraq, no funding of fundamentalist terrorism under Saddam Hussein, it is the invasion’s conception, birth, now reached maturity from Baghdad to Brussels, Mosul to the Maghreb, Latakia to London.

In Iraq, US terrorism from the air is back in all its genocidal force.

Incredibly on April 23, the Independent newspaper reported another staggering piece of either disinformation or childish naivety, in a predictably familiar script : “A spokesperson for the US military said all possible precautions were taken to avoid ‘collateral damage’, but in approaching 7,000 air strikes the number of confirmed civilian deaths had risen on Planet Pentagon to just … 41.

In another past its sell-by-date mantra: “Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for Central Command, said the casualties were ‘deeply regretted’ but maintained that the campaign was the ‘most precise air campaign in the history of warfare’.”

And here’s another familiar one: “In this type of armed conflict, particularly with an enemy who hides among the civilian population, there are going to be, unfortunately, civilian casualties at times.” The Geneva Convention, amongst other Treaties, Principles and Conventions, is specific on the protections of populations in conflict.

So another onslaught in a quarter of a century of bombing Iraq is underway – another mass murder with an obscure name: “Operation Inherent Resolve.”

Here is reality from Dr Souad Al-Azzawi, Award winning environmental scientist who gained her PhD from the Colorado School of Mines.

She states of just the onslaught on Mosul, her home, the ancient university city of 1.5 million, that the stated figures from US spokespersons are: Either misinformed about the real situation on the ground, since they are using drones and guided missiles, or air strikes blindly, intentionally not saying the truth.

“I would like to list some of what the American’s air strikes have been targeting and killing in Mosul:

  • Destroyed are all state services buildings, including Municipalities in right and left sides of Mosul. When they bomb at night, all security personnel get killed or injured, also residents of close by areas, and adjacent properties are destroyed.
  • Bombed and destroyed all communication centres.
  • Destruction of Dairy Production Factories in both left and right sides of Mosul. Casualties of these two are 100 deaths and 200 injuries among civilians who gathered to receive milk and dairy products from the factories. Dr Al-Azzawi reminds that this is reminiscent of the bombing of the baby milk factor outside Baghdad in 1991 with the claim it was a chemical weapons factory. This writer visited the factory ruins just months later; there were still charred containers of milk power – the machinery was provided and maintained by a company in Birmingham, England which specialised in infant food prodiction.
  • Bombing of Mosul Pharmaceutical Industries.
  • Mosul University was bombed with 92 deaths and 135 injuries. Earlier estimates were higher, but many were pulled from the rubble alive. “They were students, faculty members, staff members, families of faculties, and restaurants workers.”
  • Al Hadbaa and Al Khadraa Residential Apartments compounds. Fifty people killed (families) and 100 injured.
  • Hay al Dhubat residential area in the right side of Mosul, two days ago, five women and four children killed and the whole house [destroyed]. The father is a respected pharmacist who has nothing to do with ISIL.
  • Destruction of houses in front of the Medical College, killed 22 civilians – 11 in one family.
  • Bombing Sunni Waqif Building, 20 deaths and 70 injuries which included those in nearby commercial and residential buildings.
  • Car maintenance industrial areas in both left and right sides of Mosul destroyed with civilian’s casualties.
  • Bombing of flour factories in both sides of Mosul.
  • Rafidain and Rasheed banks and all their branches in both sides of Mosul. Destruction of all commercial and residential areas in the vicinity of these places, with as yet unknown civilian casualties.
  • Central Bank of Mosul in Ghazi Street, with nearby residential and commercial properties.
  • Pepsi factory, currently producing ice cubes only. Three deaths and 12 injuries among the workers.
  • The Governor’s house and close by guest house.
  • Mosul’s old industrial compound destroyed, with parking area for fuel tankers and cars. Three days ago, huge explosion of fuel tankers, 150 deaths and injuries.
  • Urban Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
  • Engineering Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
  • Food Storages in left side of Mosul bombed.
  • Drinking water treatment plants bombed.
  • All electrical generation and transformer stations in the left side of Mosul bombed.
  • Domez land communications centre in left side of Mosul destroyed.
  • Al Hurairah Bridge – and many more.

There is a sickening familiarity to some of the targets – food, pharmaceuticals, water treatment plants, electricity generation, communications and educational facilities, bridges (the country, towns and cities are divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) have been favoured targets since 1991. Every time painstakingly and imaginatively restored they have been re-bombed for a quarter of a century.

During the 1990’s a Canadian film crew captured footage of US planes dropping flares on harvested wheat and barley, incinerating entire harvests in a country, which due to the strangulating embargo there were near famine conditions in parts of society.

“When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength, and kindness, and good will”, said George W Bush in his “Mission Accomplished” speech. No, they saw invaders destroying their lives, their families, their history, raping, pillaging. They saw Falluja’s destruction, Abu Ghraib’s horrors and the 11 other secret prisons and nightmares ever ongoing.

On April 25, Dr Al-Azzawi added: “More war crimes have been committed by American Coalition, yesterday April 24, 2016. The coalition planes bombed Rashidiya water treatment plant left side of Mosul city and Yermouk electricity generation station in the right side of Mosul. Through targeting these populations’ life sustaining necessities, the coalition is committing genocidal action towards Mosul residents in the pretext of fighting ISIS.”

Also on April 25, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, on returning from a week in Iraq wrote starkly of the government: “Iraqis are crying out for fairness, recognition, justice, appreciation and meaningful participation in shaping their future – a process that goes forward and not backwards … We all have responsibilities towards the people of Iraq. While there is an international military coalition in place, a comparably resourced international coalition of practical compassion is also needed to help with the building blocks towards a sustained peace in Iraq.”

In the US military lexicon it seems “compassion” has been replaced by their missiles of choice.

Ms Gilmore also stated that Iraq was being run by a failed government and warned foreign powers not to be “complicit” in its neglect of the plight of normal Iraqis.

Further: “The international community must not allow itself to be made complicit with the failed leadership of Iraq … There is political paralysis in Iraq. There is no government in Iraq”, she stated blisteringly of America and Britain’s illegal, abortive, parliamentary project.

“Our commitment to Liberty is America’s tradition … We stand for human liberty,” concluded Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Were mistruths ever bleaker? And when will George W Bush, Charles Anthony Lynton Blair and their cohorts answer for their crimes in a Court of Law?

Source: http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2016/1729/09-death-and-destruction.html

The Liberals are Masters of Misdirection

Last Tuesday, the Liberals shut down an NDP effort to review Canada’s role in the arms trade. On Wednesday, they invoked closure to ram through a bill moving Air Canada workers’ jobs offshore. On Thursday we learned they dropped a court case to require the Catholic Church to fulfill obligations to First Nations Canadians under the residential schools settlement.

In just three days, Canadians who’ve paid attention have seen the ultra-progressive, super-feminist, pro-worker and pro-reconciliation Justin Trudeau revealed – as a sham.

But many Canadians have been distracted. Trudeau amazed with quantum computers. He smouldered at a boxing photo op. And he wears wonderful coloured socks and GQ-style vested suits.

Magicians call it “misdirection” – a deception that focuses the audience’s attention on one hand to distract attention from the other. With one hand, Trudeau bedazzles. With the other, Liberals maintain the Conservative status quo.

They’ve kept the status quo on weaponized vehicles for the Saudis. Now our super-feminist, super-pacifist Prime Minister is selling arms to one of the most anti-woman, anti-democratic regimes in the world.

They maintain the status quo on Bill C-51, which takes away our Canadian freedoms. No amendments have been tabled. No public consultations hosted.

It’s the status quo on the Trans Pacific Partnership – which Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls the “worst trade deal ever.” The Liberals signed the deal and are downplaying it, working to lower the temperature and ratify it through without commotion.

The Liberals have kept the status quo on health care cuts. Harper unilaterally cut health transfers to the provinces. Trudeau’s budget actually cut health care transfers even more deeply.

The Liberals are maintaining the status quo on climate action. The deal signed Friday commits Canada to nothing more than Harper’s old climate change plan.

Fortunately, Albertans wisely elected a new Premier. Through work with First Nations, environment groups and business, Premier Notley adopted a climate change plan to save our country’s reputation. Trudeau rides Alberta’s coat-tails, nothing more.

It’s status quo on childcare. Trudeau (with self-described progressive Premier Wynne sniping from the sidelines) repeatedly attacked an NDP plan to create 100,000 new childcare spaces this year alone. What kind of feminist does that?

Again, it’s status quo on pharmacare. Questioned about it 10 days ago, Minister Philpott said the status quo is fine because “there are public drug plans… for people who can’t afford medication.” So, expect nothing.

It’s status quo on stock option tax deductions. Trudeau broke his promise to end Harper’s law that allows corporate executives to pay tax on only half their stock option income.

It’s more status quo tax cuts — the ones they told you would help the middle class. But the Parliamentary Budget Office and Finance Canada now say the biggest benefit from Trudeau’s tax cut goes to a person earning $200,000. If you earn $45,000 or less, you get nothing. And our social programs lose $4 billion a year.

The status quo isn’t working for jobs, climate, incomes or social services. It’s especially tough on working class Canadians from manufacturing towns, expensive big cities and resource economies – people struggling to make ends meet each month. Even middle class people feel the insecurity.

Canadians wanted a new deal. They aren’t going to get it.

What we are getting is a change in style. Harper’s brooding is gone – replaced by Trudeau’s sunny ways that misdirect us from what Liberals do in the shadows.

Source: http://www.torontosun.com/2016/04/22/the-liberals-are-masters-of-misdirection?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=recommend-button&utm_campaign=The+Liberals+are+masters+of+misdirection

Canada’s $15 Billion Saudi Arms Deal: What History Tells Us

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is a “matter of principle” that Canada follows through with a $15 billion armaments deal with Saudi Arabia, a totalitarian state which funds international terrorism, stones women to death for the crime of being raped, and that leads the world in public beheadings. This decision has been sharply criticized by journalists, activists, and international organizations. In a public statement Amnesty International said that it has “good reason to fear that light armored vehicles supplied” to Saudi Arabia by Canada “are likely to be used in situations that would violate human rights” in both “neighboring countries” and for ‘suppressing demonstrations and unrest within Saudi Arabia.” Montreal students and a former Bloc Quebecois MP and law professor have filed a class action lawsuit to block the deal, citing that by selling weapons to countries with poor human rights records Canada is violating its own laws.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, in response to criticism about how these weapons will be used, replied that Canada has undertaken similar deals with Saudi Arabia, and that country “has not misused the equipment to violate human rights” according to the government’s “best, and regularly updated, information.” This is an outright lie.

In 2011 more than a hundred thousand protestors participated in an uprising against the undemocratic monarchy in Bahrain, calling for “political reforms, right of political participation, respect for human rights, stopping of systematic discrimination against Shias.” The regime responded by banning all demonstrations, caging villages in barbed wire, firing live ammunition at doctors that tried to help injured protestors in hospitals, torturing some protestors to death in police custody, and calling in the military of Saudi Arabia. 1, 000 Saudi troops crossed into Bahrain in armored vehicles not unlike those sold to Saudi Arabia by Canada throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The Canadian government has neither confirmed nor denied that Canadian armored vehicles were used to suppress pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain.

In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been at war with the country’s Houthi rebels, the U.N. has accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes. The Saudi-led coalition’s war against the poorest Arab country has caused the deaths of more than 8, 000, displaced millions, and destroyed nearly all of the country’s schools, hospitals, and historical heritage. Hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of starvation due to the violence and the Saudi-led coalition’s naval blockade in a bid to starve the country into submission. Based on photos of Saudi ground forces in Yemen, the armored vehicles being used by the Saudi military bore a striking resemblance to those manufactured in Canada, while a retired Canadian general, speaking anonymously to the Globe and Mail, identified the armored vehicles as having been manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, the same company manufacturing the armaments in the latest $15 billion deal.

An arms deal with Saudi Arabia raises serious questions about the role of Canada in the international community. Critics of the deal have said that if Canada follows through with selling arms to Saudi Arabia “we can kiss Canada’s human rights credibility goodbye.” But such criticism presupposes that Canada has a credible human rights record. “Canada,” writes BJ Siekierski, “hasn’t suddenly been transformed from Boy Scout to arms merchant.” The history of Canada, both domestically and internationally, isn’t a history of a country dedicated to the defense of democracy and human rights, it is a history of an imperialist state built on the theft of Aboriginal land that faithfully serves as a junior partner to U.S. imperialism’s war of exploitation and subjugation of the world.

Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, was an ally of the most racist section of the elite of that time. In the House of Commons he was in favor of a system of legalized racism, claiming Europeans and Chinese were different species, introducing “biological racism as a defining characteristic of Canadianness.” While starving thousands of Aboriginal people to death by withholding food, MacDonald argued that the disenfranchisement of the Chinese people was imperative to protect the “the Aryan character of the future of British America.” Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King wrote in his diary that after meeting Adolf Hitler he believed Hitler “might come to be thought of as one of the saviors of the world.” Trudeau, like his father before him, is an avowed supporter of apartheid regimes. The late Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, “sympathized with the [South African] apartheid regime not the black liberation movement or nascent Canadian solidarity groups,” while one of the first acts of the Justin Trudeau Liberals was to pass a Conservative motion to condemn all Canadians who exercise their democratic right to support the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement as a form of resistance to Israeli apartheid.

Let us not forget the ongoing genocide of Aboriginal people in Canada. For more than a century Aboriginal children were taken away, sometimes at gunpoint and in handcuffs, to be shipped off to residential schools, where they were to learn how to “assimilate” and become “civilized” through a system for forced labour and re-education. The “Residential Schools were predicated on the notion that Indigenous children were less human than other children, so they were worked like animals in the slave labour many schools mandated.” Thousands of children died from malnourishment, disease, physical and sexual abuse, with many buried in unmarked graves near the site of the schools. To this day Aboriginal people are more likely to be born into poverty, are less likely to graduate from high school, and have a shorter life expectancy than non-Aboriginal people.

Internationally Canadian foreign policy has been reflective of the country’s imperialist system of exploitation. Canada was among the 14 imperialist states that invaded the Soviet Union in 1918 in an effort to bolster the forces of the anti-Bolshevik White Army and stop the Russian working class from establishing socialist government. More recently the Canadian military has been involved in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Mali, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. In Somalia, where Canadian troops were participating in the U.N. mission, Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ tortured and murdered a 16-year-old boy. In a sociopathic ritual that has repeatedly been documented wherever Western forces are active, these Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ photographed themselves with boy’s bloodied corpse like he was a trophy kill. In Libya, a country that prior to the NATO-led intervention had the highest standard of living in Africa, the Canadian military supported al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorists that ransacked the country’s wealth, brutally murdering the country’s former leader Muammar al-Gaddafi by sodomizing him with a bayonet.

Nine years before Canada’s invasion of the Soviet Union trains “loaded not only with supplies, rifles, and ammunition, but also with machine guns and light artillery pieces” were dispatched to Cape Breton in preparation for the military occupation of the island, where miners and steelworkers were striking for improved working conditions and higher wages. Such violence and disdain for the working class has been repeated throughout Canadian history. During the “Hungry Thirties,” striking miners in Estevan, Saskatchewan were murdered in cold blood by the RCMP, while the unemployed were rounded up and sent to labour in slave-like conditions in relief camps.

The deal to sell armaments to Saudi Arabia must be opposed on all moral and political grounds, but to be able to effectively oppose such a deal, the deal must be put into the historical context of Canada’s role as a junior partner of U.S.-led imperialism.

Trudeau’s shameful BDS stand gives carte blanche to Israel

Here’s a Middle East multiple choice question for you (warning: one of these will get you condemned by the government of Justin Trudeau).

Would you rather that the Palestinian people 1) once again take up armed struggle in order to end Israeli occupation of their land or 2) pursue a non-violent strategy of Boycott, Divestiture and Sanctions (BDS) until such time as Israel recognizes the rights of the Palestinian people?

Advocating a return to the use of violence against Israel may or may not get you condemned by the prime minister. But it is definitely not OK to advocate for the non-violent BDS campaign. This was made clear by the government’s support of a Conservative resolution opposing the campaign “which promotes the demonization and de-legitimization of the State of Israel,” and called upon the government “to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

This is a sickening violation of Canadians’ basic rights enshrined by Justin’s father 35 years ago. As the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair (who once described himself as an “ardent supporter of Israel”) said, the resolution “makes it a thought crime to express an opinion.” The NDP and the Bloc, joined by three Liberals, voted against the resolution.

Lockstep with the Israel lobby

That the Liberal government is so in alignment with Israel lobby groups raises a number of questions: Just who actually makes Canadian policy towards Israel? Did Trudeau think this through at all – such as, is this in Canada’s interests? But perhaps more to the point, is it even in Israel’s interests? Does the Trudeau government have some brilliant ideas about how to get Israel to the bargaining table? Or does it believe the current situation doesn’t need resolving? It smacks of political cowardice. It’s as if Stephen Harper still rules the day on this critical foreign policy issue. Indeed the resolution reflects Harper’s declaration that criticism of Israel’s government is the “new anti-Semitism.”

We are left to wonder whether the Trudeau government can imagine any action by Israel that would cause it to “condemn” its government rather than its critics. And to wonder whether it seeks to further polarize the region or help cooler heads prevail. Giving carte blanche to the actions of Israel’s increasingly extremist government simply reinforces its determination to never negotiate and to keep pushing the envelope, whether it’s building new settlements or slaughtering civilians in Gaza. Against that prospect, how many parliamentarians have even the slightest clue what the Palestinians are seeking through the BDS campaign? Do they know its origins?

As stated by movement leaders, Israel must:

End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall; Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
This latter demand is hotly rejected by Israel even though Jews from literally anywhere in the world have, through the 1950 Law of Return (to Israel and now the occupied territories) the same right.

The roots of BDS

The BDS campaign (which boycotts only goods made in the occupied territory) was inspired by the successful boycott and sanctions campaign that finally brought an end to South African apartheid – a campaign, incidentally, given a major boost by none other than then prime minister Brian Mulroney. The BDS campaign was launched in 2005 by 170 Palestinian civil society groups representing virtually every sector of Palestinian society “including all political parties, unions, refugee networks, NGOs, and organizations representing Palestinians living under occupation, in Israel, and in exile.” The decision was rooted firmly in a commitment to non-violence and in international law regarding the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

Israel’s occupation is routinely compared to apartheid by Israelis – and not just critics of the government. Michael Ben-Yair, Israel’s attorney general from 1993 to 1996, wrote:

We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories …. We developed two judicial systems: one – progressive, liberal in Israel. The other – cruel, injurious in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture.

Other senior Israeli political figures agreed. Shulamit Aloni, education minister under Yitzhak Rabin, and former prime minister Ehud Barak both made the comparison. Ehud Olmert, another former PM, declared: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights…the State of Israel is finished.” With the two-state solution on life-support – and no pressure on Israel from the West to revive it – the situation so feared by Olmert is arguably already here.

In fact, the BDS campaign may be Israel’s best hope to avoid Ehud Olmert’s nightmare. Perhaps that is why Israel’s extremist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is so determined to fight BDS. In a 2014 speech to the powerful pro-Israeli U.S. lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he referred to the BDS campaign 18 times, calling on American Zionists to “fight back” against BDS advocates.

Waning support for Israel

The BDS campaign might not worry Netanyahu so much if it weren’t for the fact that Israel now ranks near the bottom of the pile when it comes to world opinion. A BBC poll in 2013 interviewed more than 26,000 people in 25 countries and found only 21 per cent of participants had a positive view of Israel, while 52 per cent viewed the country unfavourably. Only Iran, Pakistan and North Korea fared worse. In just the last year, the percentage of Americans viewing Israel favourably dropped dramatically from 70 per cent to 59 per cent while positive attitudes towards Palestinians jumped from 17 per cent to 24 per cent.

Justin Trudeau and his government could not be more mistaken if they believe they are doing Israel a favour by supporting the repugnant Conservative thought crime resolution. Every time a Western government turns a blind eye to Israeli apartheid it reinforces that system by signalling to Netanyahu that he can do whatever he pleases.

By steadfastly denying the apartheid reality in Israel, successive Canadian governments in fact betray the long-term of interests of that country – not to mention, of course, those of millions of Palestinians.

Support BDS – Condemn Israeli Apartheid!

The Communist Party of Canada condemns the February 22 vote in Parliament, in which the Liberals and Conservatives joined forces to pass a shameful motion denouncing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s apartheid policies. The motion also condemns anyone in Canada who supports or promotes BDS. The Communist Party reaffirms its longstanding and unwavering solidarity with the people of Palestine, its condemnation of Israeli apartheid, and its support for the BDS campaign in Canada and internationally.

The BDS campaign began in 2005, in response to a call from 171 Palestinian groups for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. A similar campaign emerged in the 1980s, as a way to isolate and pressure apartheid South Africa. Both campaigns cited violations of United Nations’ resolutions and international law as part of their legal and moral justification.

The objectives of the BDS campaign are straightforward, just and entirely based on international law:

• Ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the separation Wall;
• Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
• Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Just as Parliament’s motion condemns BDS activists, people who acted in solidarity with opponents of the racist South African regime were denounced as “terrorist supporters” by right-wing politicians. Parliament’s vote is a disgraceful attempt to silence the growing BDS movement through slander and political intimidation. It is an act of desperation that will fail, just the racist attempts to derail the struggle against South African apartheid failed.

The fact that most Liberal MPs supported this Tory motion proves that the Trudeau government cannot be judged on the basis of its progressive campaign promises. The working class and people of Canada must hold the Liberals to account as they “govern from the right.”

This includes international issues such as the expanding war in Iraq and Syria, the sale of weaponized vehicles to Saudi Arabia, and support for regimes in Ukraine and Israel which trample on human rights. It is encouraging that the NDP and Bloc Quebecois caucuses voted against the motion, on the basis that it violates the rights to free speech and expression. However, it is shameful that NDP MPs also attacked the BDS movement during the Commons debate, revealing yet again that party’s racist opposition to criticism of apartheid Israel.

The Communist Party rejects the right-wing charge that the BDS campaign is a form of antisemitism. Opposition to Israeli apartheid is focused firmly and solely on the policies of the Israeli government, not on the ethnicity or nationality of those who perpetrate those policies. The Communist Party condemns antisemitism, racism, national chauvinism and all forms of oppression. It is our ongoing commitments to ending oppression and achieving national equality that guide our solidarity with Palestine and our support for the BDS campaign.

The strongest response is to build the BDS campaign across Canada. We congratulate the students at McGill University who also voted on February 22, to support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel’s apartheid policies. The February 22 vote was preceded by heavy criticism and opposition from peace, human rights, labour and progressive activists across the country. These groups organized several campaigns that included petitions, letter writing, online actions, and joint statements. In Quebec, a coalition including BDS Quebec, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, the FTQ (QFL) and CSN (CNTU) unions publicly called for the Liberal government to reject the Tory motion.

These and other acts of solidarity, in defiance of Parliament’s racist motion, are the basis for a more powerful BDS movement, capable of winning more victories in Canada and internationally.

Palestine will be free!

Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada
March 1, 2016

Source: http://communist-party.ca/statement/2073#more-2073
Image Source: http://southsidepride.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/palestine_land_map.jpg

Canada among the most Sued Countries by Corporations

Canada is the most-sued country under the North American Free Trade Agreement and a majority of the disputes involve investors challenging environmental laws, according to a new study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Over 70 per cent of claims since 2005 have been brought against Canada, and the number of challenges under NAFTA’s settlement clause is rising sharply.

A Huffington Post story by Sunny Freeman on the CCPA report says that the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism contained in NAFTA’s chapter 11 grants investors the right to sue foreign governments without first pursuing court action. The provision included in the 1994 treaty on the argument that U.S. and Canadian investors needed protection against corruption in Mexican courts. But the mechanism limits governments from enacting policies on public concerns such as the environment and labour or human rights, and negotiations are often carried out in secret.

The CCPA believes the federal government’s commitment to Chapter 11 and its willingness to settle and compensate claimants is encouraging this trend. There were 12 cases brought against Canada from 1995 to 2005, and another 23 in the last decade. This compares to 22 against Mexico and 20 percent against the U.S. since 1995.

Canada has lost or settled six claims paying a total of $170 million in damages, while Mexico has lost five cases and paid out $204 million. The U.S. has won 11 cases and has never lost a NAFTA investor-state case.

“Thanks to NAFTA chapter 11, Canada has now been sued more times through investor-state dispute settlement than any other developed country in the world,” said Scott Sinclair, who authored the study. He estimates that Canada has spent $65 million defending such claims over the past two decades.

About 63 per cent of the claims against Canada involved challenges to environmental protection or resource management programs that allegedly interfere with the profits of foreign investors. The government has lost some of these challenges and has been forced to overturn legislation protecting the environment.

In 1997, the Ethyl Corporation, a U.S. chemical company, used chapter 11 to challenge a Canadian ban on the import of MMT, a gasoline additive that is a suspected neurotoxin and which automakers have said interferes with cars’ diagnostic systems. The company won damages of $15 million and the government was forced to remove the policy.

A year later, U.S.-based S.D. Myers challenged Canada’s temporary ban on the export of toxic PCP waste, which was applied equally to all companies. Canada argued it was obliged to dispose of the waste within its own borders under another international treaty. However, the tribunal ruled the ban was discriminatory and violated NAFTA’s standards for fair treatment.

There are currently eight cases brought by U.S. companies against the Canadian government asking for a total of $6 billion in damages. Many of the current challenges involve domestic environmental protections such as the promotion of renewable energies, a moratorium on offshore wind projects on Lake Ontario and Nova Scotia’s decision to block a mega-quarry.

In one case, Lone Pine Resources Inc., is suing the Canadian government for $250 million over Quebec’s moratorium on natural gas fracking, which applies equally to foreign and domestic companies. Lone Pine argues it was not consulted before the ban nor compensated for its wasted investment or loss of potential revenue.

Sinclair argues that the threat of challenges under chapter 11 has a chilling effect on public interest regulation, which will only worsen unless political and legal action is taken.

“Buoyed by their past successes, foreign investors and their legal advisors are now turning to NAFTA chapter 11 with increasing frequency and assertiveness,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, compared to other parts of the world, there is surprisingly little political debate about the corrosive influence of ISDS on public policy and democracy in Canada.”

Canada is embarking on a new generation of treaties such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, and the Trans Pacific Partnership, both of which contain investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) systems. While governments can be sued under ISDS, there is no similar recourse for states to hold foreign investors accountable for their actions.

Source: http://www.peoplesvoice.ca/Pv01fe16.html#ECANADA

Image Source: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/10/23/naftas-isds-why-canada-one-most-sued-countries-world

Trudeau Government to Condemn the BDS Movement

The Canadian Parliament is on course to “condemn any and all attempts” by Canadian groups to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The motion to condemn BDS was put forward by the Conservatives, but on Thursday the Liberal majority government announced it would vote in favour. The NDP says the motion is an attack on freedom of expression and is opposing it.

BDS, which calls for an economic boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, has become a major issue on university campuses. Its proponents include the United Church of Canada and a Quebec labour union.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, who seconded the motion, described BDS as a movement that stifles academic freedom and opposes Israel’s right to exist.

“The BDS movement brings physical intimidation and a spirit of demonization into the Canadian discourse of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” she said.

“This is not Canadian, and thus I condemn it.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion accused the Conservatives of being divisive and reducing the debate to black-and-white terms.

But he revealed the Liberals will support the motion regardless, because they view the BDS movement as harmful and ineffective.

“The world will win nothing for boycotting Israel,” said Dion.

With both the Liberals and Conservatives onboard, the motion will easily pass when it goes to a vote either later today or next week.

The NDP lashed out at the other two parties for not supporting freedom of belief. They said the motion is designed to muzzle people who hold contrary opinions.

“What kind of world are we living in here in Canada where we’re starting to attack the fundamental right to disagree,” said NDP MP Hélène Laverdière.

Green Party MP Elizabeth May is also opposing the motion.

Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/paulmcleod/the-canadian-parliament-is-going-to-condemn-the-bds-movement?bftwcanada&utm_term=.afjlz0xnx#.nw6ezv7N7

Image Source: http://canadatalksisraelpalestine.ca/2015/03/16/trudeau-joins-harper-blaney-in-condemning-bds/

 

Liberals back CSIS in Torture Lawsuit

The Liberal government has taken up the former Conservative government’s legal fight against an apology and compensation for three Canadians tortured in the Middle East, despite voting in favour of the former detainees’ cause while they sat in opposition.

As well, in aggressively defending the actions of CSIS and trying to prevent the release of thousands of unredacted documents that a judge is now poring over, the Liberals are going further than their Conservative predecessors did to protect CSIS sources.

Lawyers for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government are seeking retroactive blanket anonymity for spies and their sources and have filed an appeal in a civil lawsuit launched by the three men with that goal in mind. A Conservative bill last year, C-44, which enacted source protection, was not made retroactive.

Put together, the two moves have stunned a team of lawyers at Toronto’s Stockwoods firm that took up the cause of Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin and Ahmad El Maati, as well as others who closely follow developments in security law.

“It’s a continuation of this incredibly litigious no-holds-barred scorched-earth defence strategy which we’ve been experiencing for 10 years under the Harper government,” said lawyer Phil Tunley, who is leading the team suing the federal government on behalf of the men.

“I fear that in this case, the current government is at risk of simply letting its litigation team roll along paths ordained by the prior government, without asking whether the interests of justice are served by devoting still more taxpayers’ money to fighting meritorious claims,” said University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese. He and the University of Toronto’s Kent Roach are authors of False Security: The Radicalization of Canadian Anti-Terrorism, an authoritative analysis of the current slate of security laws in Canada.

Almalki, Nureddin and El Maati filed a civil claim against the Canadian government seeking $100 million in damages for their detainment and torture overseas, but the lawsuit was put on hold during a federally appointed inquiry into their ordeals.

Their stories were eerily similar to the Maher Arar scandal that unfolded in the post-9/11 anti-terror push by national security agencies in Canada and the U.S. The three men weren’t deported to torture, but they were arrested upon arrival in Syria, interrogated and tortured at the same Syrian military prison as Arar.

A judicial inquiry into Arar’s torture and imprisonment found missteps by Canadian border agents and the RCMP “very likely” led Americans to deport the Syrian-born Canadian to Jordan and then Syria, where he was tortured. The Arar inquiry recommended a separate probe into the cases of the other three men.

The government of prime minister Stephen Harper apologized to Arar and paid $10.5 million in compensation plus $1 million in legal fees to settle Arar’s civil lawsuit.

Meanwhile, retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci led the second inquiry, conducted in secret and under a narrower mandate.

In the end, Iacobucci concluded the actions of Canadian officials indirectly contributed to their detention (except for Almalki’s initial arrest) and to the torture of all three at the hands of Mideast jailers. One, El Maati, was transferred from Syria to Egypt where he was also tortured, Iacobucci said.

Still, the former Conservative government long resisted a settlement to the men’s claims, despite Iacobucci’s findings. His 455-page report became the basis for a recommendation by the Commons standing committee on public safety that the government offer an apology and compensation to the men “as reparation for the suffering they endured and the difficulties they encountered.”

At the time, in 2008’s Conservative minority Parliament, the NDP and the Liberals formed a voting majority on the committee.

When the committee’s report was brought to Parliament the Liberals again voted in support of an apology, compensation and a recommendation that the Government of Canada “do everything necessary to correct misinformation that may exist in records administered by national security agencies in Canada or abroad with respect to” the men and their families.

Now, if successful in its appeal of a ruling on source protection by Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley, the Liberal government, which has promised more accountability for national security agencies and to repeal some of the more draconian security measures enacted by the Conservatives, will go further than did the Conservatives.

Mosley ruled the federal government’s claim that C-44 should apply to CSIS sources in these cases “would be retrospective, and creates a new privilege” altogether that negatively affects the plaintiff’s rights.

Mosley said they have “a vested right to disclosure of human source identifying information in order to support” their civil claim, and that the risks of disclosure should instead be weighed under the Canada Evidence Act, “to consider whether release of the information would cause injury to one of the protected national interests and, if so, whether the risk of that harm outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

The judge said the men contend they already know the names of at least six CSIS employees “because they had interactions with those employees, and further, that those names are in the public domain (on social media and in a book published about their experiences).” And it was CSIS’s own policy at the time for CSIS agents to identify themselves as employees of the service.

The former Conservative government introduced blanket CSIS source protection under Bill C-44 but did not make the new law retroactive. It was a bill brought in after CSIS had lost a bid for such anonymity at the Supreme Court of Canada and had been found in another case to have misled a court on CSIS’s use of foreign intelligence sources.

When C-44 was studied, the Liberals argued source protection should be decided on a case-by-case basis, as it has been for years by the courts. But when it came to a vote in Parliament, the Liberals, including current Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, voted for C-44. Trudeau was absent for that vote.

The Liberal election platform promised only to repeal troubling elements of another security law, Bill C-51 — changes that are not due until next fall. But C-44 looks to remain untouched.

Goodale declined comment when asked about the case by the Star, saying he wanted to check further into the facts. Later, Goodale’s spokesman, Scott Bardsley, replied by email.

“The CSIS Act includes a clear prohibition on disclosing the identities of CSIS human sources in legal proceedings, subject to exceptions to ensure compliance with the Charter. Protecting the identities of CSIS human sources is of fundamental importance to the work of our security community. As such, we are requesting that a higher court review the Federal Court decision” of Justice Mosley, Bardsley wrote.

“As this issue is currently before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further on this matter.”

But lawyer Phil Tunley, who is leading the team of counsel to the men, is shocked by the moves of a Liberal government that explicitly promised to bring accountability to the nation’s national security regime.

“The case is about accountability,” Tunley said in an interview.

“If you remove the courts from the oversight of CSIS management of its human sources and you basically say no court can ever look behind and see whether a source really is a confidential source or if they’re telling the truth . . . there’s no accountability in the courts. It’s an extraordinarily draconian measure.”

Tunley said Parliament can choose to make a law retroactive by saying so in legislation. However, in the case of CSIS source anonymity, the Conservative government did not move to do so. He said Ottawa’s appeal now is almost certain to delay the decade-long litigation further.

Given the mandate letters Trudeau gave his ministers, Tunley wondered “does anything the prime minister is saying, does any of the instruction he’s giving to his ministers have any impact?”

Roach, a University of Toronto law professor who was the research director for the Air India inquiry, said the CSIS informer privilege “was one of the worst features of the 2015 Conservative terror laws.” And he said the Federal Court’s decision that it couldn’t have retroactive application in this case “is well reasoned and recognizes that the new CSIS informer privilege can adversely affect those who are confronted with secrecy claims. The only exception is when innocence is at stake in a criminal trial.”

Source: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/02/06/liberals-back-csis-in-torture-lawsuit.html

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