I know what you are thinking: what a douche. Some people reading this believed that a vote for Trump was a vote for normalizing racism, sexism, xenophobia and a whole host of other negative trends in our troubled society.
If you are one of those readers, just relax.
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, speaks to members of the media as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stands at the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2017. (Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg)
Electing Trump was an exercise in productive cynicism, made possible by a perfect storm of colliding realities such as an incredibly unlikable Hillary Clinton, a profit-obsessed media blowing their coverage (as well as their sponsors), a public growing weary of status quo politicians, and a large swath of the population who felt swindled in the primaries.
Because the truth is there were many people who cast a ballot for Trump so that he could help fulfill the one thing that has eluded the shit show known as American politics -- a complete breakdown and subsequent moral inventory of the world's most important Republic and its most significant institutions.
Let's begin with the Republicans and Democrats and the certainty that a two party system can only foster the potentiality of a polarized electorate. Through ideological animosity the United States has bred a sagacious climate where most voters have just one choice in the end. After all, a progressive stalwart will never vote Republican, and a true-blue conservative would not be caught dead voting for a Democrat. So when both parties abandon their supporters a collapse in support is only natural. Trump hijacked the GOP, putting Republican lawmakers in the precarious position of propping up the man who gutted whatever principles they had left.
Meanwhile, the DNC thwarted the beginnings of an organic movement when they worked against the wishes of their own base, propping up Clinton during a time when the public was begging for real change.
[Trump's] just such a disaster that the system is instinctively correcting itself.
The Trump victory exposed the ugliness of both parties, the innards of the inner workings, and the debasement of party ethics. Both party bases undoubtedly shrank, and now each party has a stark choice in front of them -- evolve or get used to a growing revolt where more voters take longer looks at other parties and independent candidates. This new reality is not just good for democracy, but it may help to preserve the democratic pillars that help hold the nation steady.
The media is also rebuilding, albeit contemptuously and without the culpability one would expect after the avalanche of irresponsible reporting we witnessed, not to mention the unmasking of various media personalities who were joined at the hip of the Clinton campaign. But now, finally, the media seems to be doing the kind of work they are supposed to be doing -- journalism. They are holding the highest office in the land accountable. They are digging for stories. They are engaging in the kind of reporting that has been absent for decades. They still have a long way to go, but it was the reaction to the election that prompted them to begin the long road back to relevancy.
Even the so-called "deep state," the collection of intelligence agencies that have been caught lying to the public about domestic spying, are starting to answer more questions. And even if they aren't willing participants in transparency, if the end result is lifting the curtain and forcing them to either change tactics or water down existing methods of intelligence gathering, it has to be considered a win.
And to think, Steven Bannon wanted to destroy the administrative state, but he may be succeeding in making it stronger, and with a stiffer resolve.
Protesters demonstrate against President Donald Trump and his plans to end Obamacare as they march to the White House in Washington, March 23, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
These systemic improvements are the direct result of electing a rodeo clown as president, and none of them would have materialized under a Clinton presidency. Trump is already the most transformational president in the modern era, a political virus attacking the cracks in the system, demolishing the laisse faire attitude that allowed the deterioration of the country's institutions in the first place.
And he isn't even trying. He's just such a disaster that the system is instinctively correcting itself. The surreal combination of incompetence, absurdity, corruption and being profoundly unpresidential has released a societal antibiotic working its way through the system that has been desperate for a cleansing.
Most importantly, this president has caused an awakening of activism across the continent. And while there is a subsection of rabid alarmists likening Trump to Hitler, and a few others overstating his politics as an example of fascism, a majority of people appear to be inspired by the desire to engage in goodwill, especially towards immigrants and the concept of having a health-care system worth protecting.
Take a moment to thank a Trump voter, because they did more for America than a Hillary Clinton administration ever could.
Which leads me to believe that it will not be impeachment that removes Trump from office. Like his several bankruptcy declarations, he will wait until his back is against the wall and then retreat, probably blaming the Washington elite as he resigns from the highest office in the land. His resignation will signal to the rest of the world that America's bender has run its course, and the newly installed President Mike Pence will be too preoccupied with salvaging the GOP's midterm results to attempt any controversial legislative endeavors.
And while Trump's humiliating departure will certainly be a positive for the nation, it will probably be accompanied by mass demonstrations from the right, fervid celebrations from the left. The potential for violence will be high, and America will have to find a way to move forward.
But two years or so of Trump's buffoonery resulting in positive institutional overhauls was a far better proposition than a Hillary Clinton presidency drenched in the usual status quo. It was also a huge gamble, but unless Trump, for the first time in his life, finds humility and a calm, measured disposition, the possibility of him finishing a full term is remote, at best.
So please, all you Clinton supporters, take a moment to thank a Trump voter, because they did more for America than a Hillary Clinton administration ever could.
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“If [Donald] Trump becomes president and Kevin O'Leary becomes prime minister I want to leave the planet," he said on the March 8, 2016 episode of the "Rick Mercer Report."
Fast forward to late March 2017 and Trump is not only the U.S. president, but "Shark Tank" star O'Leary is one of the main contenders in the federal Conservative leadership race.
And if that wasn't enough, the former "Dragon's Den" star released a video Tuesday — mimicking Mercer's rants — in which he promises to slash the CBC's budget should he be elected prime minister in 2019.
"Ever since I got into politics, everybody's been calling me about the CBC," he says in the video, which lacks some of the more...dynamic camera angles featured in Mercer's rants.
"Why? Because I worked there for over 10 years, and I know where the rot is."
O'Leary notes that Canadians, particulary those in remote areas, want curated news programming both on TV and radio available in both official languages.
"French and English, right across Canada. You can put that on the Internet, too. The rest: we don't need it."
He claims he can save billions of dollars if the CBC "sings for its supper" and finds its own funding for non-news related programming.
"Think about NPR in the United States or PBS. 'If you like this show about a pony and a girl, no problem! Give me five bucks, you can see it again.'"
Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary says he can shave off "billions of dollars" off the CBC's budget if elected prime minister. (Photo: CP)
"Let thim do it that way. We can cut the budget from billions of dollars maybe to a few hundred million, and then give Canadians what they want: curated, good news, all around the world just like the BBC.
"The rest, we just let them sing for their supper."
O'Leary ends his video by bashing "wasteful" Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for missing all this "low-hanging fruit."
One of the Liberals' campaign promises in the 2015 federal election was to reinstate funding to the public broadcaster that the previous Conservative government had cut. Trudeau and co. delivered on that promise in their first budget last year, which pledged $675 million to the CBC over five years.
The CBC's funding has been a hot topic in the Conservative leadership race, though it has been dwarfed by other issues such as immigration and the recent influx of asylum-seekers crossing into Canada from the U.S.
"Ever since I got into politics, everybody's been calling me about the CBC. Why? Because I worked there for over 10 years, and I know where the rot is."
— Kevin O'Leary
Late last year, Tory leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch delcared that she would "dismantle" the CBC should she become prime minister, while her challenger Maxime Bernier said he would "refocus" the broadcaster's mandate.
The Conservatives choose their next leader in May.
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Many Canadians might be surprised to learn that back in October, Canada passed an anti-Islamophobia motion by unanimous consent. House of Common petition e411, sponsored by Liberal MP Frank Baylis was the basis for this motion. Sadly, at the time, Liberals didn't have the political courage to propose a motion on Islamophobia before the House. Instead, it was NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who showed the sensitivity and political resolve to present this motion, and did so successfully on October 26.
Back in October, the Conservatives didn't ask for a definition of Islamophobia before giving consent to the motion. But anyone could have looked up the Google or Oxford definition: "Islamophobia: Dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force."
Of course, the value of motions is purely symbolic. So when the October 26 motion got literally zero coverage in mainstream Canadian media, Muslim Canadian leaders were rightfully frustrated. This shunning of the news of the motion by Canadian media could even be considered a form of Islamophobia in and of itself.
Perhaps disappointed that a motion that received unanimous consent received literally no attention from the Canadian public, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid submitted her own motion on Islamophobia -- M-103 -- in early December. Her motion went beyond the October 26 motion in that it suggested a study on religious discrimination in Canada, and systematic collection of data on hate crimes. Religiously motivated hate crimes span multiple government disciplines, and statistics in these areas are notoriously inconsistent. If this motion were passed, at least Parliament's attention on this issue would last more than three seconds.
Most Canadians heard about Khalid's anti-Islamophobia motion when it finally came up for debate on February 15. That's when Conservative leaders and voters went bonkers over the motion, suggesting all sorts of outrageous scenarios: some about religious favouritism; some about free speech; and some about how Canada's criminal code would somehow get replaced by Sharia law.
Liberal MP Iqra Khalid makes an announcement about an anti-Islamophobia motion on Parliament Hill while Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly looks on in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. THE (Photo: Patrick Doyle/CP)
In a case of collective amnesia, the Conservatives also forgot they had already unanimously supported an anti-Islamophobia motion in October, and now demanded to know how the Liberals defined Islamophobia. Chatelaine's Sadiya Ansari wrote an article that addresses all of these fallacious concerns, and more.
But the Liberals acted in an equally partisan manner as they responded to the Conservatives' objections. They too had forgotten that they hadn't had the political courage to put forth the motion in October. Liberal Heritage Minister Melanie Joly was exquisitely inarticulate as she tried to justify the motion as written, and the football began in earnest when the Conservatives proposed a counter-motion that didn't "single out" Islam for special protection. (Those familiar with the "Black Lives Matter" vs. "All lives matter" discussion will understand the cynicism in this Conservative move.)
The NDP, as well as Conservative leadership candidate Michael Chong had no issue supporting both motions. But the Liberals suggested that the Conservative motion would render M-103 moot, refused to vote for it, and ensured its defeat. By doing so, the Liberals could be blamed for entrenching the misconceptions around the motion, and prolonging groundless fears about condemnation of Islamophobia.
If the October 26 motion had gone unnoticed, M-103 and its aftermath were to dominate Canadian headlines for weeks. But if you think the brouhaha over M-103 is finished, you're wrong. According to the motion, Parliament's Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is due to report its findings and recommendations on the issues within 240 days. So if the partisan footballers have their way, M-103 and outlandish reactions to Islamophobia could be headline news again before the end of the year.
The discussion on Islamophobia and religious discrimination will continue, whether as a result of M-103, or for other reasons.
It's fair to ask why the committee on heritage is supposed to research issues of racism, discrimination, hate crimes, and crime data. If you're like me, you might have thought Heritage Canada was focused on the Canada 150 celebrations this year -- and that's what its webpage suggests. Why isn't Immigration and Citizenship involved in the process, where expertise in integration and assimilation of newcomers and refugees is centralized? And why isn't Justice enlisted, where you have all the experts in legal interpretation, and the collection and synthesis of crime data? It's fair to question why M-103 puts any responsibility under heritage.
The answer may lie in the fact that the Minister of Heritage, Melanie Joly, is trying to enhance her own visibility and credentials among the Muslims of her own riding: a highly ethnic, highly Arab, highly Muslim riding. She was repeatedly at Khalid's side during M-103 photo ops, although neither she nor Heritage have any expertise or history with religious discrimination. It may also explain why one CTV reporter felt compelled to report at one press conference that, "Joly jumped in several times during the press conference to answer questions directed at Khalid, even when reporters asked for Khalid to respond."
Some argue that forcing the question has exacerbated the tensions around Islamophobia in Canada. But recognizing and acknowledging a problem are the first steps to resolving it. The discussion on Islamophobia and religious discrimination will continue, whether as a result of M-103, or for other reasons. But hopefully next time, it will take place without the partisan politics and opportunism that have haunted the past two months. Muslim Canadians deserve no less.
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Three out of four Canadians received a hip or knee replacement, cataract surgery, hip fracture repair or cancer radiation therapy within the recommended wait times for those priority procedures, although there was often wide variation from one province to another, researchers say.
Trudeau announced Tuesday that he will participate in the Women in the World Summit on April 6, part of an annual three-day gathering of activists, artists, CEOs, and politicians..
Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state and presidential candidate, will speak on the same day as Trudeau.
Remaining tickets for next Thursday's event cost US$350.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledges the crowd after delivering remarks during the 2016 Catalyst Awards Dinner in New York in 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
“We have achieved real progress in advancing women’s equality, especially in the past decades, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” Trudeau said in a statement. “We need the full and equal participation of women around the world.
Though the event website describes the summit as a chance to showcase “women of impact,” it notes that it has also included “men who champion women.” Actor Tom Hanks, for example, celebrated the life of screenwriter Nora Ephron there in 2013.
According to the site, Trudeau will be interviewed by journalist Tina Brown, who launched the summit in 2010, about how the roles of prime minister, “feminist, teacher, and father” inform his priorities of “gender equity, strengthening the middle class, and promoting diversity and inclusion.”
Trudeau’s release suggests he will mention how last week’s federal budget included a 25-page “gender statement” on how measures would benefit women. The spending plan included $7 billion over 10 years to improve access to affordable child care.
Actress Scarlett Johansson, Chinese billionaire Zhang Xin, and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will also take the stage next Thursday.
One orchestra seat for the full-day event at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center costs $350. Tickets for events on the Wednesday and Friday range from $50 to $250.
Trudeau will also meet with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres next week, as questions remain about Canada’s pledged commitment to deploy troops on a UN peacekeeping mission.
Trudeau on Broadway just weeks ago
Trudeau was in New York City two weeks ago to attend the Broadway debut of “Come From Away,” a musical highlighting the hospitality Newfoundlanders extended to stranded U.S. travellers immediately after 9-11. U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka was also in the audience.
Trudeau addressed the crowd before the show about the close relationship between Canada and the U.S., and importance of leaning on each other in the “darkest times.”
The event was covered by a number of top U.S. media outlets, including The New York Times, which noted the symbolism of a show that “celebrates generosity toward foreigners in need.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks before the start of the Broadway debut of "Come From Away," in New York City on March 15, 2017. (Photo: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
Trudeau has also participated in a panel on gender parity at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2016. A clip from the event, in which Trudeau encourages men not to be “afraid of the word feminist,” has been viewed millions of times online.
He delivered much the same message at a forum at the United Nations last March.
"I'm going to keep saying loud and clearly that I am a feminist until it is met with a shrug," Trudeau said at the time.
But, here in Canada, some politicians are evidently trying to poke holes in Trudeau’s reputation.
During a particularly rowdy question period last week, where discussion centred on controversial Liberal proposals to reform the House of Commons rules, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel essentially accused Trudeau of trying to intimidate Tory House Leader Candice Bergen.
“The prime minister purports to be a feminist, yet when a strong, confident woman dares to question his arrogance and unilaterally changing the fundamentals of Canadian democracy, he tried to stare her down and yell at her,” Rempel said.
The Tory MP sparked applause by calling on the “so-called feminist” to apologize.
With a file from The Canadian Press
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Purolator has stopped accepting shipments ahead of a strike deadline Wednesday issued by the union representing some of the courier's employees.
Well, not really. He wanted a Muslim ban. Didn't get it. Wanted Obamacare killed, and something else instead. Didn't get that. Wanted -- promised! -- ISIS defeated in 30 days. Didn't get, or do, that.
But getting more money out of Canada for NATO? He's going to get that.
U.S. President Donald Trump smiles as Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, left, speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 13, 2017. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Now, if you were to poke through the entrails of the 2017 federal budget, released with a minimum of fuss last week, you would not find any statement that read: "Her Majesty's Government pledges to commit more resources to the North American Treaty Organization (NATO), because we are concerned what the short-fingered vulgarian to the South will do to us if we don't." No such statement is in there.
There is, however, this on page 186 in Chapter Three of the budget:
"The Government will soon release a new defence policy for Canada, following substantive public consultation and extensive analysis. It will be more rigorously costed than any previous defence policy. It will commit the level of investment required to restore the Canadian Armed Forces to a sustainable footing with respect to finances, capital and people, and equip the Forces to meet the challenges of the coming decades."
That paragraph is the Donald Trump paragraph, you might say. It was written just for him. As we speak, Canada's highly capable ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton -- probably the best appointment Justin Trudeau has made to date, but that is a column for another day -- is shuttling around Official Washington, a photocopy of that paragraph in hand, solemnly assuring the hawks in the Trump regime that Canada will start paying its way in NATO very soon.
Because we don't pay our way in NATO, and we haven't for a long time. And we need to.
There are 28 members of NATO. Its budget is north of $900 billion annually. The United States of America contributes an extraordinary $650 billion of that. The United Kingdom, $60 billion; France and Germany, in and around $40 billion each, give or take. Canada?
"You have countries in NATO that are getting a free ride and it's unfair, it's very unfair."
-- U.S. President Donald Trump
Canada is in the bottom third of NATO members, alongside military powerhouses like Slovenia and Luxembourg, and others with bankrupt and/or struggling economies. By agreement reached in 2014, NATO members are supposed to be devoting two per cent of their nation's gross domestic product (GDP) to defence. Canada doesn't, and consistently hasn't. We spend less than one per cent.
During the Republican primaries and during the U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump would be asked often about defence by reporters looking for some new insane Trump statement to report. Trump wouldn't disappoint.
So: "We are getting ripped off by every country in NATO, where they pay virtually nothing, most of them. And we're paying the majority of the costs."
And: "We're spending a tremendous -- billions and billions of dollars on NATO. We're paying too much! You have countries in NATO, I think it's 28 countries -- you have countries in NATO that are getting a free ride and it's unfair, it's very unfair."
And, this gem, which gave plenty of Western leaders heartburn, and which transformed Donald Trump's presidency from something that was mildly amusing to something that was deeply terrifying: NATO was "obsolete," he said. And: "The U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves."
That statement about NATO's obsolesence, uttered during an interview in January with a German newspaper, was a shock. "[NATO is] obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago," Trump said. Secondly, he said, it's obsolete because "countries aren't paying what they should."
His first point, like so much that the Unpresident says, was certifiably insane. With Trump's pal Vladimir Putin massing troops and guns on the border of assorted Baltic states, NATO is needed more now than perhaps ever before. But on his second assertion, that NATO is compromised because many countries aren't paying what they should?
Donald Trump is right.
(Your eyes are not deceiving you. Hillary Clinton-loving Warren Kinsella wrote that "Donald Trump is right" about something. Clip and save, folks.)
The unofficial word around official Ottawa is that the budget's Donald Trump Paragraph means that the forthcoming defence review -- with the Trudeau government's amorphous pledge to "equip the Forces to meet the challenges of the coming decades" -- will result in Canada finally meeting its NATO commitment. A Conservative government had long been a NATO free rider, but it will be a Liberal government that will finally pay its way in NATO. To this Liberal hawk, that is profoundly ironic -- but highly satisfying.
Donald Trump is a traitor to his nation and its constitution. He is a thug and a demagogue. He is an Internet troll, elevated to the Oval Office. But on NATO, and on the requisite contributions to NATO, he is right.
Just ask the guy who said this: "NATO needs more Canada." That guy?
One Barack Obama, in the House of Commons on June 29, 2016.
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'Make them sing for their supper'
A 64-year-old New Brunswick man says he is very much alive, despite being declared dead by the Canada Revenue Agency.
He's in Thousand Islands National Park promoting measures outlined in last week's budget.
He says there will be $364 million over two years, starting in 2018-19, to support Parks Canada's management of national parks, national marine conservation areas, and national historic sites.
He also says the government will put $30 million over five years, starting in 2017-18, to help complete the Trans Canada Trail in partnership with provinces, territories, indigenous communities, and individual Canadians.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising government money for parks, conservation areas and the completion of the Trans Canada trail. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
The prime minister says these investments will create jobs and economic growth through tourism.
The trail includes land and water routes across urban, rural, and wilderness landscapes and, when completed, it will be the longest recreational trail in the world, stretching nearly 24,000 kilometres.
"The Trans Canada Trail offers Canadians the chance to explore our diverse landscapes in every province and territory," Trudeau said. "These investments will help complete the 'Great Trail,' connect 15,000 communities, and make our great outdoors even more accessible to Canadians and their families."
A Halifax municipal councillor and Progressive Conservative candidate in the next Nova Scotia election is being criticized for posting a video showing him and a passenger leaping out of a car and laughing while they yell, “Chinese fire drill!”
Package delivery firm Purolator suspended acceptance of new shipments Tuesday after its largest union issued 72 hours' notice of a possible strike, which would commence Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET.
It is the final evening of the Observation Mission of Human Rights and Migration (OMODH). As a group of 24 international human rights organizations, we have travelled from Guatemala to Mexico, visiting with migrants and communities to better understand and advocate around migration. We are sitting in the central plaza of San Cristobal de las Casa, in Chiapas, Mexico, when a rumor starts spreading through the crowd. "The mothers are coming, the mothers are coming!" As a group, we rushed to the street entering the plaza, clasping hands to form a human chain of welcome and honour.
"Vivos los llevaran y vivos los queremos!" echos off the church and fills the plaza. This cry, "alive they were taken, and alive we want them!" has been taken up by the Caravan of Central American Mothers Searching for their Sons and Daughters. The Caravan is made up of women of all ages, wearing photos of their missing children around their necks and carrying the flags of their countries: Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. We applaud their courage, as the long line of women passes between us to take place of honour on the plaza stage.
Their children disappeared somewhere along the different migrant routes from Central America, through Mexico, into the United States. The children decided to migrate north for various reasons: looking for employment opportunities, family reunification, fleeing violence, or a combination. Now the mothers of these migrants also travel, following their children's footsteps through Mexico in their pilgrimage of remembrance and advocacy. They are searching for their disappeared and vow not to rest until they find them.
Mothers searching for their disappeared has a long history throughout the Americas, spilling over from the disappearances during the dictatorships and civil wars of the 20th century into the present. In Argentina, the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo courageously marched every Thursday during the Dirty War to demand the return of the over 6,000 disappeared. The Mothers of Soacha also search for their children, among the 60,630 forcibly disappeared in Colombia. In Canada, Indigenous women also demand answers for the over 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Now, the caravan of Central American Mothers joins in this tradition. While official statistics represent only the bare minimum number of missing migrants, Missing Migrant Project records 668 migrant deaths from Latin America in 2016. According to the Colibri Centre in Tucson, since 1998, more than 6,951 migrants have lost their lives while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In a community we visited in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, an Indigenous woman shared about the ongoing search for her missing uncle, disappeared during the Guatemalan civil war in the 1990s. Now her brother is also missing, gone somewhere along the migrant route in Mexico. The circumstances have shifted, but the strategy of disappearing people remains the same.
In the communities and shelters we visited, migrants shared some of their stories with us. They face kidnapping, extortion, rape, human trafficking and robbery by armed groups, along with threats, bribes and corruption by migration authorities. We heard that cartels located on the southern Mexican border now earn more money through trafficking and extorting migrants than through the drug trade. Border militarization through Plan Frontera Sur has pushed migrants to seek increasingly dangerous routes to avoid detention and deportation by authorities. Migrant lives appear to be of little value to those in power in all the countries they travel through.
To take the mothers' quest seriously would mean admitting and dealing with the human rights crisis taking place all along migrant routes.
Yet to their families, these migrants are much more than objects of exploitation. Rather, they are seen as brave to undertake such a journey, often for the benefit of their families. The absence of these loved ones has left a gnawing hole of uncertainty and grief.
The mothers demand answers. Doña Maria´s son has been missing since 2003. She participated in the Caravan of Mothers and shares what she has learned during her search in a report from Junax ko'tantik: United Families of Chiapas Searching for our Migrants, "We have learned that we have rights and that we can demand that the government help us in our search. We can demand, even when the government does not respect us and considers us to be ignorant...We want the authorities of our states to comply with their responsibilities."
In most instances, however, there are few answers from Central American or Mexican authorities. To take the mothers' quest seriously would mean admitting and dealing with the human rights crisis taking place all along migrant routes. NGOs are active in their support, using a DNA database and forensic science to try to connect families with bodies, but without a concentrated state response to deal with human rights violations and roots causes of migration, the mothers of Latin America will be forced to continue to search for even more missing children.
We recently marked International Women's Day and I wonder, how do we honour these women and their tireless search? We can begin by recognizing rights of migrants, to be free from discrimination and danger during their journey. The Canadian government must advocate with their counterparts in Mexico, Central America and the United States for less militarization and an increased humanitarian response to migrants, with human rights protections at the top of the agenda. Foreign aid to the region must focus on root causes, such as unemployment and corruption, and support civil society efforts to create government accountability. No woman, no matter how courageous, should have to search for her missing child.
Anna Vogt is the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Advocacy and Context Analyst for Mennonite Central Committee, based in Bogota, Colombia.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CCIC or its members.
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And with the Conservative party's best bet for a leader, Rona Ambrose, committed to not running for the permanent job, the current field of underwhelming candidates will now have to square off against Kevin O'Leary. While it may be tempting to draw parallels between his entry into the race and the path to the White House travelled by Mr. Trump, I suspect at some point soon Mr. O'Leary will realize that he is not Donald Trump, and this is not the United States.
Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., on March 16, 2017. (Photo: Lars Hagberg/CP)
While O'Leary is best known for playing a caricature of a stereotypical tough businessman, the truth about his own corporate record has been characterized as shocking, and his success attributed more to celebrity than business smarts. His recent claims he is the only one who could defeat Justin Trudeau and his Liberals sound more like parroting Trump, and much less like a potential leader who might revive the flagging fortunes of his potential political party -- assuming Conservatives would even have him.
Mr. O'Leary has missed much of the debates, and while he is a great mean talker, I don't for a moment believe Canadians, including most millennials and boomers, are interested in the country being governed by a mouthy bully with dubious business credentials, no French, and poor people skills.
I look forward to hearing his platform, and to seeing how he chooses to behave during this run for the leadership. For now, I can't help but think he will be seen as a TV personality, who was more famous a few years ago then he is today. And his mean, aggressive persona is no match for the current charm and youth offensive that has so many Canadians forgiving so much of Justin Trudeau's recent stumbles.
In any event, the real race for the Conservatives comes after the leadership race, when the Conservative party will have to convince a younger voting public to buy into their brand. I just can't see Mr. O'Leary having anything relevant to offer this demographic. I fully expect him, like his fellow leadership opponents and the former leader of the party, to completely misread the mood of the electorate. But like everything Kevin O'Leary has done so far, it will probably make for entertaining television.
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RCMP Cpl. Dal Hutchinson said Tuesday that officers are reviewing the video posted by Coun. Matt Whitman to determine what action, if any, is required.
"We'll look at it to see if it warrants us conducting an investigation,'' he said.
Whitman removed the short video Sunday, a week after he posted it to his YouTube page. At the time, he said it had become a "distraction.''
Matt Whitman is also the Progressive Conservative candidate for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville. (Photo: Facebook)
The roughly 12-second video shows Whitman running around the car with a passenger after he screams the expression, prompting several people on Twitter to accuse him of being racially insensitive.
"'Chinese fire drill' is the kind of thing that should get people fired from public office,'' tweeted Melissa Mackie on Saturday.
Whitman, who is also the Progressive Conservative candidate for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville, would not comment, but said in a message that he wants to continue meeting with constituents.
"This past Sunday I decided to remove the video after seeing the distraction it became,'' he said in a text message to Global News. "I look forward to continuing to meet with constituents in Hammonds Plains-Lucasville to talk about the issues that matter to them.''
Senator: Term has racist origin and racist overtones
Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie was not available for an interview about the video, and the party declined to give a comment.
Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, who is a professor at Dalhousie University, said the expression is concerning because of its history.
"A concern that I have about the term is the racist origin and hence racist overtones,'' she said in an email.
The term dates back to a botched fire drill during the Second World War, according to University of King's College professor Simon Kow.
"People should be careful how they use language.''
— Simon Kow, University of King's College professor
"Some people will find it offensive,'' he said. "It obviously taps into a stereotype about Chinese, meaning something which is chaotic, confused, incompetent, that sort of thing.''
Kow, who is of Chinese descent, said in the context of more extreme comments made by public figures, the content of the video isn't surprising.
"It's not OK,'' he said. "People should be careful how they use language.''
The RCMP has said police are also investigating whether the video was made while the car was on the road, and the force discourages people from this type of action while driving.
Erin O'Toole Winning Conservative Caucus As It Shuns Leadership Front-runners Bernier, O'Leary - Politics - CBC News
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From left: Kaylex Volaine, 10, Melissa Penner and Ay Volaine, 7, in a photo on a fundraising page set up for the family. The sudden death of four people, including two children, in a remote B.C. community has left friends and loved ones in mourning.
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The province will consult with Albertans before rolling out rules on marijuana, such as where it can be bought, used and the minimum age requirement pending legalization next July.
“I’ve made my statements and I stand by them,” Lynn Beyak told CBC News on Monday.
She said she’s received “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of letters of support since saying that the positive side of residential schools went unacknowledged.
"I've suffered with them up there," Beyak said of residential school survivors in her northwestern Ontario riding. "I appreciate their suffering more than they'll ever know."
The Senate committee’s chairwoman, Lillian Eva Dyck, asked Beyak to leave the committee after her comments made headlines earlier this month.
At a discussion on the high number of indigenous women in prison, Beyak said that some officials at residential schools were “well-intentioned” and did “remarkable” work.
"I was disappointed in the TRC's Report and that it didn't focus on the good," Beyak said, referring to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The commission found that 6,000 children died in residential schools, making it more deadly to attend the schools than to serve for Canada during WWII. Sexual abuse was also rampant — with nearly 38,000 claims of sexual assault.
Senator Lynn Beyak says she won't step down from the Senate's committee on aboriginal peoples.
It’s estimated that 150,000 children were taken from their families and forced to attend, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report released in 2015.
According to CBC News, children were separated from their families for 10 months a year and were only allowed to send letters in English, which most of their families could not read. Some teachers and staff physically and emotionally abused the children.
Canada’s first prime minister said that the purpose of these schools would be to make aboriginal people like “white men.” It wasn’t enough to teach indigenous children English, Sir John A. Macdonald said in 1879. A child had to be removed from family or else he or she would be “simply a savage who can read and write,” he said.
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While it sounds substantive to many Canadians, in reality the budget falls short, offering no designated indigenous suicide prevention funding or programming investments. While the 2015 election platform, the 2016 budget and 2017 budget did promise investments in mental health services for all Canadians, all failed to grapple with the structural barriers and systemic discrimination that are common to indigenous children and youth's access to public services.
Girls walk on a street in the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario, Canada, April 14, 2016. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)
In March 2016, the community of Attawapiskat, like many other indigenous communities across Canada, experienced surging rates of youth suicide. Thirteen youth died by suicide and 25 others attempted in a community of approximately 2000 people. Indigenous rights advocate and MP for Attawapiskat, Charlie Angus requested an emergency session of Parliament in April 2016. The minister of youth did not attend, and the next day when asked about Attawapiskat, he expressed condolences before pivoting to questions on pipelines. To be fair he later visited Attawapiskat, played the role of consoler-in-chief, met with youth and elders with the minister of Health and Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
The emergency debate did result in some positive outcomes. For a moment, the debate seemed to wake up Canadians. In a social media driven society still struggling with the residue of settler-colonialism, it is easy for people to become numb to the numbers. But this extraordinary debate not only awakened Canada, but garnered global attention on the issue of indigenous youth suicide. The debate also resulted in a surge of emergency funding, and later in June 2016, the Ministry of Health partnered with the Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council, the National Inuit Youth Council, and research partners to develop the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.
Following Budget 2016, the Ministry of Health boasted an 8.37 billion investment in wellness programs accessible to indigenous youth. The catch is that this funding is distributed across five year periods, and like all public services for indigenous people in Canada, there is not an equity in funding or access (and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal happens to agree).
Budget 2017 is all about strengthening the middle class, strengthening their access to services, but what gets lost in the numbers and system is that indigenous youth have the least access to these services and do receive equitable funding as compared to any other young Canadian. When over 50 per cent of First Nations children in Canada live in poverty, is the budget of the middle class for them?
The greater policy issue here is that suicide prevention is not a one portfolio issue, it is not just about health. It extends across all almost every aspect of relationship between indigenous peoples and the Canadian government. Suicide isn't a new problem, it has been studied now for decades in Canada and by researchers in many fields. There is substantial research on the issues and the many intersecting socio-political and economic dimensions.
While we can give a nod to the Liberal Government for investments in sports, technology, language revitalization, and infrastructure commitments to indigenous communities over a five to 10-year period, the troubling issue is that indigenous youth most in need of advocates have a minister of youth who doesn't show up or listen.
Critical research in suicidology advocates for approaches to indigenous youth suicide prevention where indigenous youth are seen as critical partners, with real political power. When indigenous youth struggling with multiple barriers and intersecting forms of discrimination in this country, showed up for the Liberals in this last election, they expected better. Instead they get a minister of youth who not only chides young people when they protest environmental degradation but they also get a budget that altogether seems to have erased the most pressing issues of life promotion for indigenous youth.
So rather than telling tall tales about canoe storage, TVs, and greedy chiefs, it is high time for Justin Trudeau and his government to sit down, and deliver to indigenous youth real proof that their lives matter. Between Budget 2017 and 2018, an estimated 320 indigenous youth will die by preventable suicide. While the Liberals might have two years left to govern and if they are lucky five to 10 years to see this budget through, indigenous youth can't wait. Time is up.
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Indigenous groups on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are speaking up about the Keystone XL pipeline, which has recently been given a green light by the Trump administration.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Monday that the feds "haven't made enough progress" in terms of taxing marijuana and several other issues related to legalizing the drug.
The focus has instead been on making sure weed stays out of the hands of children and criminals, Morneau said during a news conference in Calgary.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the Liberal government has not decided how to tax marijuana. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
"Those are our two key goals as we move forward," he said.
"The issue around taxation, any of those issues, are very subsidiary to those first two goals, and we've not yet gotten to conclusions on those sort of aspects at this time."
News of the pending legislation — the timing of which, media reports suggest, means recreational pot would be fully legal by July 1, 2018 — pushed up share prices Monday for the country's large marijuana producers.
Shares of Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED) closed 11 per cent higher after gaining $1.10 to $10.98 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Aphria (TSX:APH) finished 8.39 per cent higher at $6.72 per share, a gain of 52 cents.
'This is a totally arbitrary timeline'
Yet Morneau's comments suggest at least one key issue remains far from resolved, despite the fact multiple government sources confirmed Monday that the government plans to introduce the bill during the week of April 10.
And the timing has at least one critic suggesting the Liberal government is more interested in placating marijuana users, who famously gather around the world each April 20 — including on Parliament Hill — to indulge in their favourite strain and flout the law in jurisdictions where it's illegal.
"This is a totally arbitrary timeline," said Conservative health critic Colin Carrie.
"(Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) is more interested in pandering to the marijuana users than doing his job and looking after the health and safety of Canadians."
This year's 4/20 gathering was expected to become a massive — and highly visible — protest against a Liberal government already known for breaking or stalling a number of high-profile campaign promises, including electoral reform.
Key pledge in 2015
The Liberals made the legalization of marijuana a key promise in their election platform in 2015, which was followed by the appointment of a high-level task force to study the issue.
The task force, led by former cabinet minister Anne McLellan, recommended storefront and mail-order sales to people 18 and older, personal growing limits of four plans per person and a 30-gram limit on personal possession.
Several provincial leaders said Monday that they are eagerly waiting to see what the federal legislation looks like so that they can start working to amend their own laws to make legal weed a reality.
Yet they also sounded a note of caution, noting there are many issues still to be worked out before Canadians can start buying marijuana over the counter.''
Premiers weigh in
Those include how to distribute the drug, establishing new rules around impaired driving, determining acceptable levels of pesticides and other impurities, and ensuring adequate addiction support.
"We are aware that there are a number of complex issues that have to be accommodated by the provinces once this legislation goes through," said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
"We need to consult with Albertans and we have to know exactly what the federal legislation looks like before we can figure out what our path looks like after that."
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he was generally in favour of legalization, but worried it could saddle the provinces with extra financial costs in terms of testing or awareness campaigns.
Asked if it could prove an economic boon for the provinces, Couillard said: "It's too early to say, but it certainly won't be driving the economies of outlying regions in the next few years."
NDP justice critic Alistair MacGregor said it's about time the Liberals moved forward on legalization, adding that his concern is many more Canadians could be arrested for possession before it happens.
— With files from Joan Bryden in Ottawa, Tim Cook in Edmonton and Donald McKenzie in Montreal
In case you've missed it, Potter's now-infamous Maclean's piece speculated that the "public crisis" in Montreal, which occurred when 300 cars were left stranded overnight on highway 13 in a snowstorm, revealed an "essential malaise eating away at the foundations of Quebec society."
Potter described this broken society with a colourful -- maybe too colourful -- mélange of statistics and anecdotes. He cited the province as having a "pathologically alienated and low-trust society;" noted how the Montreal "police don't wear proper uniforms" but "clownish camo pants;" and how "some restaurants offer you two bills: One for if you are paying cash;" and honed in on the fact that "28 per cent of Quebecers over the age of 75 report having no close friends."
This did not culminate in the most elegant argument about Quebec's fissures. Nevertheless, as a Montrealer, I was hardly offended by the piece -- even if others may have been.
Actually, the tone of Potter's grievances echoed in a familiar Montreal-specific cadence. Come to think of it, he sounded a heck of a lot like my mother-in-law after she'd endured another grueling winter. Or like anyone I know in the city whose car has just collided with yet-another pothole.
We all still love Montreal though. Otherwise we wouldn't be here.
In any case, after the backlash, Potter suddenly resigned as the director of the MISC. Whether this was motivated from the top-down McGill politics, from an angry mob below, or instigated by Potter himself, I cannot speculate.
However, I will wave my fist about the implications his departure has on free speech in Canada.
I will also roar about how this incident may impact our future sense of Canadian identity.
Because as the director of the MISC, Potter was inspiring important conversations about what it means to be Canadian -- a topic that does not generally garner that much excitement in this country, let alone in Montreal.
Meanwhile, at the February 2017 MISC conference -- "Canadian Exceptionalism: Are we good or are we lucky?" -- Kathleen Weil, Bob Rae and others held stirring conversations about Canada's attitude towards multiculturalism among intellectuals, journalists and students.
As the former editor the Ottawa Citizen and a columnist for Maclean's, Potter was (and still is) also something of a cultural studies hero, and was the ideal person to inspire such participation.
That McGill staff had the genius to hire Potter as the director of the MISC was a promising sign.
In 2004, Potter and Joseph Heath co-wrote the popular book The Rebel Sell: Why The Culture Can't Be Jammed, about how consuming certain beverages or wearing counter-culture clothing doesn't lead to political change, even if these actions feel like they might. Rather, what we buy was a reflection of our human yearnings.
The book provided a clear-cut Veblen-esque rational understanding of consumer culture and behaviour, and offered a much-needed response to Douglas Coupland's Generation X with its twenty-somethings lost to "McJobs," and to Naomi Klein's No Logo where society's sacred poetry was gobbled up by advertising agencies.
That McGill staff had the genius to hire Potter as the director of the MISC was a promising sign. Not only would Potter instigate cultural conversations about Canada through lectures and conferences, he would also best motivate today's students to explore these often overlooked core issues as well. (After his resignation, Potter will remain an associate professor at McGill.)
The Canadian sense of identity has long been considered vague.
Unlike the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Canadians don't have monuments that reveal themselves as clearly and obviously as Americans do.
Rather, our reflections of Canadian-ness are demonstrated through humble statues and memorials, and thoughtfully curated historical museums.
We also have our institutions, including current frenemies the CBC and the TD Bank. We have Tim Hortons and Roots.
We also have poutine, Kraft Dinner and maple syrup.
We have hockey and the Trudeaus.
But Potter's search for what it is to be a Canadian dug deeper than this without plunging into esotericism.
As the director of the MISC, Potter was the ideal candidate to stitch together our various national threads of contemporary Canadian-ness into a semi-coherent narrative.
Unfortunately, in Potter's recent Maclean's polemic, his arguments weren't woven together as carefully as usual. Many reacted.
Shortly after its publication, Potter apologized in a Facebook post profusely about the article's "errors and exaggeration" -- another quintessential Canadian move.
Then Potter resigned.
Ever since, it has been a sad week for Canada.
How are we going to get through the outspoken Trump years, confront the threats of global warming and embrace the next influx of refugees with this kind acquiescence to hyper-sensitivity?
As a culture, we need to know how to deal with polemics from others, and learn how to engage in impassioned debates amongst ourselves.
We need to protect the freedom of speech, along with the freedom for people to eff up every once in a while.
A well-practiced tendency towards politeness and peacekeeping may be good for the heart, but it can also leave many feeling muzzled, not just journalists.
If Canada wants to be known as a country that is truly great, truly kind and truly peaceful, let alone truly "happy" -- and not simply pathologically well-liked and tolerant of opinions providing the level of conversation is kept at ginger beer and Ryan Gosling -- we need to protect the freedom of speech, along with the freedom for people to eff up every once in a while.
Otherwise as hyper-tolerant Canadians, repressed anger may one day be revealed as our nation's hubris, running far deeper than just potholes.
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