Last week new Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson continued a Harper government tradition of lauding deceased Saudi royalty. In a release the MP from Niagara Falls said he was "deeply saddened to learn of the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al-Faisal" and "impressed by his distinguished career serving the people of Saudi Arabia." Of course, Nicholson omitted any mention of the former Saudi foreign minister's efforts to undermine the Arab Spring democracy movement or arm the fundamentalist opposition to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, which has led to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
There's nothing wrong with raising concerns about respect for privacy with regard to certain commercial practices. But the quantity and quality of data collected, the use to which they are put, and the potential violations of respect for privacy have nothing in common with those of governments and their spy agencie
So much for all the buzz around The Fifth Estate, Bill Condon's frustratingly flat dramatization of the formation, triumphs, and sundering of WikiLeaks, the anarchist information-sharing website. Relying on tight close-ups and lengthy speeches, there is a distinctly made-for-TV feel to the proceedings which even great performances couldn't have overcome. But sadly, the biggest misstep falls on the shoulders of Benedict Cumberbatch.
Long ago TIFF went from showcasing great movies to premiering great movies that matter. This year's opening-night gala promises to be a landmark occasion for the film world and society at large. The Toronto International Film Festival landed the world premiere of The Fifth Estate, a movie about WikiLeaks and its controversial founder Julian Assange.
We've learned an incredible amount about how governments scheme, conspire, collude, connive and lie, both to each other and to the people who elected them. Which is why my nomination for the next Nobel Peace Prize is WikiLeaks and its three great whistleblowers -- Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.
Our government may say that we're engaging the Saudis to foster reform in the kingdom. Apartheid South Africa's allies made similar arguments, calling for "constructive engagement" with the racist regime. Thankfully, Canada rejected that approach and led the world on sanctions, which hastened the end of apartheid.
According to Mashable, Aaron Swartz may have been a source for Wikileaks. If looked at in light of the U.S. vendetta against Wikileaks, their extreme overreaction to Swartz's "copyright violations" involving academic journals suddenly makes sense. The Government's response to Wikileaks has been nothing less than rabid.
So there I am in my last column agonizing over whether Canada should ban that obscene and hateful Internet video called Innocence of Muslims, when it occurs to me that it might be a really good idea to come up with an example of freedom of speech in action. Something easily understandable. Something vivid. Something gutsy.
Julian Assange faces an Interpol order for his extradition to Sweden for the crime of sexual assault, though he has sought asylum to avoid these charges (among others). This case infuriates me: as a Swedish woman, a feminist, and someone who works to promote sex as passionate and beautiful act within the adult industry. Rape is a gross power play and the message to victims needs to be that, though they were violated, they can regain control through reporting their rape. I understand that many have no faith in the legal and political system, and that Assange is responsible for a lot of disillusionment in this regard.
So a left-wing British MP and Republican Representative from Missouri walk into a bar... Rep. Todd Akin and the garrulous George Galloway would certainly do well to have a drink together one of these nights. Regardless of the fact they both exist on opposite ends of the political spectrum, their backwards, dangerous, women-hating views on rape are eerily similar.
We don't usually get into foreign affairs over here at Media Bites, but sometimes life just hands you one of those weeks where nothing on the domestic seems to be turning anyone's journalistic crank. This weekend Canada's papers were filled mostly with chatter about noted Internet Deep Throat/ Simpsons guest star Julian Assange, and his recent Ecuadorian embassy-squatting shenanigans in England. None of the glitz and glamor of a Jason Kenney story, I grant you, but we'll just have to make due.
If further evidence was necessary to prove that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a man of limited and flexible ethics, well, the guy himself has provided it. Instead of returning to his place of overnight confinement as decreed in his bail agreement, Assange sought refuge in London's Ecuadorian embassy and applied for political asylum.
These are my very own, real leaked documents about the fact that traditional, general-interest journalism is the crucial cornerstone of democracy and that social media threatens to destroy that cornerstone. They're written by students studying journalism. If you have any interest in Canadian journalism in our Canadian democracy you should read them.