Last week we learned that our Special Forces had been on the front lines to provide targeting for airstrikes and had been doing this for some time. Then we learn that our Special Forces returned fire on two other occasions last week. What's at stake here is the truth.
I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness, and of action. I write also in the immediate aftermath of anti-Semitic terror and killing in France, and in the midst of ongoing mass atrocities by Boko Haram in Nigeria, ethnic cleansing in Darfur and South Sudan, and killing fields in Syria and elsewhere. And so, at this important historical moment, we should ask ourselves: What have we learned in the last 70 years, and more importantly, what must we do?
Time to focus on the two leading candidates who actually have a shot at, not just winning the leadership, but the premiership of Ontario in a few years. Both Vic Fedeli and Christine Elliott come from the political rich middle where most Ontarians reside in. They have had distinguished leadership roles in business, law and politics among them.
Canada's environment appears to be taking the brunt of NAFTA-enabled corporate attacks. And when NAFTA environmental-protection provisions do kick in, the government often rejects them. According to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, more than 70 per cent of NAFTA claims since 2005 have been against Canada, with nine active cases totalling $6 billion outstanding.
We know from our daily lives that gender-based violence remains rampant. The facts support this conclusion: half of women in Canada have suffered physical or sexual violence. Exactly when did we, as a society, become accustomed to violence? We must ensure access to coordinated services that keep women and children safe.
Last week King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died at the age of 90. From the time he received the throne in 1995 until the day he died, Abdullah watched, mostly in silence, as the world became mired in religious extremism and as blame for the chaos fell squarely upon the shoulders of ordinary Muslims. Abdullah knew and implicitly sealed the export of hateful Wahabism from Saudi Arabia's borders to all corners of the earth, ignoring centuries of tradition from its Islamic anti-thesis, Sufism.
It's strange indeed to see the federal government and the central bank headed in opposite and contradictory directions. The Bank of Canada is moving to stimulate greater growth, while Mr. Harper pushes more austerity -- with the net effect of reducing aggregate demand.
Low oil prices have already been used to justify an interest rate cut, as well as a delayed and, presumably, reworked federal budget. With such a convenient scapegoat at hand, you can bet it won't be long before low oil prices will be made to shoulder even more blame.
The two terrorist attacks in October and the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris have created a climate of fear in Canada around terrorism. In order to assuage these concerns, the government recently announced its intention to introduce further anti-terrorism legislation. But there are two ways to stop terrorism: you can create new laws and you can also provide adequate funding. While choosing the former option may create the illusion that Harper is tough on terrorism, it's in the latter area that our national security agencies are in greatest need.
Like an overwhelming number of Canadians, you said -- publicly -- that you didn't want to grant telecom providers immunity for handing over our sensitive private information to government without a warrant. But then at the last minute something changed. You voted for the Bill in Parliament, and I don't mind telling you that was a huge disappointment. I also can't help but detect a hint of shame in the blog post that you wrote explaining why you turned around and supported the Bill after speaking out so vociferously against it.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has just released the first of two reports on indicators showing how poorly we treat those with mental illness in Canada. I really have to ask why, as this is something we already know.
Trudeau is the most impressive, practical, and smart political leader since the Jean Chrétien era. Since taking over a near-bankrupt, third place, humiliated party less than two years ago, he has made it a growing political movement. The party is now well-organized, better funded, and has attracted strong candidates and volunteers that truly represent the new Canada.
Mayor Ted Clugston of Medicine Hat, Alberta has become the reluctant spokesperson for a controversial approach to reducing homelessness. Reluctant because just a few years ago, he opposed the initiative. Sometime in 2015, Medicine Hat will become the first municipality in Canada to eradicate homelessness.
Sharply dropping oil prices and a weakened Canadian energy sector are revealing the limited, ineffectual nature of Stephen Harper's economic policies. Those policies, focused almost exclusively on that one sector, are too narrow. They have rendered Canadians more vulnerable and less resilient. And his government seems out of gas. Unable to cope with adverse economic developments, Mr. Harper is now retreating to a bunker. Instead of reaching out to Canadians to show leadership and build confidence, he has punted the federal budget, normally delivered in February or March, into April or later. That means Canada will go without a budget for more than this entire fiscal year.
Oxfam will take on the most powerful and wealthy organizations and individuals in the world. And the voice on this occasion is Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's international spokesperson, speaking to the global elite as they gather this week in their annual state of the global economy meetings in Davos, Switzerland. And does she ever have a story to tell, backed by research and motivated by a deep sense of social justice. Byanyima will hit those people present with a remarkable and troubling truth: as of next year, over half of the world's wealth will be owned by the top 1 per cent. This is staggering, perhaps even representing the end of the economic order we have known and which sustained the West for decades.
A Defence Department report recently tabled in the House of Commons "showed a shortfall of nearly 900 regular force members and 4,500 part-time reservists at the end of March due to higher than forecasted attrition and other factors." To put that into perspective the 5,400 less troops equates to 135 less platoons. Or 45 less companies or even 15 less battalions. So what is the root cause of this? I think there are three major flaws that are contributing to this downward spiral.
Rather than think outside the box, tear down old structures and focus on engaging Canadians in informed conversations about ideas, choices and reasonable compromises, we are presented with short-term Band-Aid solutions, pandering to superficiality instead of principle
If our core values -- democracy, tolerance, pluralism -- are to prevail, moderates must act before the extreme right and the extreme left hijack the discourse. We must move quickly and decisively to prevent such atrocities from recurring, beginning with four critical steps.
Last week, the Prime Minister finally dropped Julian Fantino as Veterans Affairs Minister. Despite the shuffling of deckchairs at that struggling department, it is the Prime Minister who is wholly responsible for the government's failure with veterans. If the Prime Minister is committed to changing course, there are immediate steps he and his new Minister must take to show Canadians that they are finally responding to veterans' concerns.