The pollsters who had been tracking the vote for the pro-sovereignty side as referendum day approached were as categorical as they could be. The lead that the Yes camp had built since mid-campaign had held over the final weekend before the Monday vote. As long as the well-oiled sovereignist machine got the vote out, the Yes camp would have a rendezvous with history that very night.
There is no question the government must keep Canada safe from terrorist activities and threats, but Bill C-51 is not the answer. Bill C-51 is wide-sweeping in powers and gift-wrapped in rhetoric. We already have an arsenal of tools in the Criminal Code and other existing anti-terror legislation, which provides Canadian law enforcement and agencies with robust powers to fight terrorists. It was existing laws that successfully empowered Canadian police to thwart, arrest and charge suspects in the Toronto 18 and Via Rail terror plots. Bill C-51 simply increases government power in ways that can threaten innocent Canadians.
It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The Prime Minister of Canada is deliberately stirring up prejudice against one group of Canadians for one reason only -- political advantage. The sad reality is that many Canadians and Quebecois seem to be vulnerable to embracing an anti-Muslim sentiment. We are all appalled by the brutality of ISIS, with their voyeuristic killing of innocent victims. The tragic murder of two soldiers in Canada has added a sense of vulnerability inside our own country. Stephen Harper's response is to declare that Canada is under attack by "global Jihadists" and introduce sweeping legislation giving new powers to CSIS.
Unfortunately, when it comes to CSIS, Canadians can expect very little transparency, a cause for additional concern when you recall Harper eliminated the position of the CSIS watchdog in 2012. The only overview of CSIS is handled by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), a body comprised of part-time appointees with limited resources that assess CSIS operations after-the-fact.
I call the areas that used to have an office "Veteran Dead Zones" and encourage any soldier who will have to rely on Veterans Affairs to avoid living in these areas. The frustrating experiences that soldiers have to endure at the hands of an overworked understaffed offices only serves to exasperate soldiers further, resulting in a refusal to seek the services required. In essence, the government saves $5-million in operating costs, but the savings in providing the services will be in the tens of millions of dollars.
Conveniently, the fear appeals being made by ISIS, Al Shabab, and the other myriad terror groups we tend to lump together are quite literally textbook examples of fear appeals. What's more, the terrorists and our own government actually work together for a good part of the process, increasing the fear we feel for their own insidious ends.
Instead of demanding more money from the federal government, Ontario could a) cut provincial spending or b) reform everything from labour laws to regulation to tax policy and electricity policy, to unleash the economy and thus produce more at-home tax revenue or c) both. Ontario should not expect continued billions in annual equalization payments. While the exact decline in equalization is unknown -- it depends on how badly the resource economies and their provincial treasuries are hit -- Ontario should face reality and act accordingly.
Medical marijuana is not a legal drug in Canada. It is an illicit (illegal) substance and Health Canada's current accessibility policy hasn't changed that fact. Marijuana has not been designated a prescription medication or medication of any kind. Not only does it not currently have a DIN, it looks like it will not have one any time soon. According to the Medical Use of Marijuana section on Health Canada's website, DIN's can only be issued after Health Canada scientists have assessed a drug's safety, efficacy and quality in order to be sure it meets Regulations and the requirements of the Food and Drug Act.
I think our inter-faith leaders -- every priest, rabbi, pundit, imam and granthi -- would do this country a great service if they enforce a message of peace and harmony against and speak to their captive audience against the symptoms of sadistic behaviour -- manipulation, the thrill of violence, power, and control that comes from inflicting pain on other.
No matter how you slice it, Harper has failed to lead Canada towards a sustained economic recovery from the financial crisis seven years ago. It doesn't matter how much public money he spends on ads claiming otherwise. Facts are facts. So, what does a government facing re-election do when its top agenda item, economic management, is in tatters? It changes the channel to something else.
While Canadians were relieved to see Mohamed Fahmy released on bail last week, it is far from clear that his long ordeal is over. Officially he is still scheduled to face a retrial beginning on February 23. During his first trial, he was found guilty of multiple charges and sentenced to seven years imprisonment on the basis of very dubious evidence in an arbitrary process, which was widely condemned around the world as a miscarriage of justice. The Government of Canada has an obligation to do its utmost to help its citizens when they are facing such trying situations. Unfortunately, that does not appear to have happened in this instance.
Convicting and incarcerating those who return to Canada from fighting with extremist groups overseas alone is not enough. Radicalization spreads, particularly in prison, where many individuals feel wronged by the system and society more generally. Once those prisoners return to civilian life they take with them their twisted and radicalized beliefs and spread them in the communities where they live. Many of Canada's allies have their own de-radicalization programs in place for those who return home after joining terrorist organizations abroad.
On Valentine's Day, a film was released that is set to warp the minds of a new generation. 50 Shades of Grey, a film based on the bestselling book of the same name, is being portrayed as a 'date night' movie of romance and intrigue. Except that the movie (and the book) is about humiliation, degradation and the emotional and physical abuse of women by men. The fairy-tale ending of the film, just like Pretty Woman, is one that millions of victims of sexual violence never experience. As one survivor of sexual violence shared "50 Shades is a horrible reminder of my own abusive relationship, repackaged as a 'love story'."
The history of the Canadian flag is a success story. Indeed, what do we ask of a flag if it isn't that it embody the country, unite its citizens and trigger its recognition by the other peoples of the Earth? Few symbols are as identified with a country as the maple leaf has been with Canada for the last 50 years.
Huge numbers of Canadians, including key Ottawa decision-makers, are pushing back hard against the government's Bill C-51, which proposes unprecedented new powers for Canada's security agencies. The bill effectively turns CSIS into a secret police force and would place every Canadian under a government microscope.
With much ado about crossing the floor from the Conservative to the Liberal Party, the talk seems to centre on whether Justin Trudeau's Liberals gained much, if anything. That talk misses the point: the question is not what the Liberals got, but what the Conservatives lost. Coming on the heels of the clearly unplanned departure of John Baird, the real story is not the questionable value of the asset Trudeau has acquired but the fact that a sitting government member has crossed the floor to sit with a third party.
On January 30, a reporter asked Harper how newly-introduced anti-terror legislation will differentiate between somebody who is "radicalized" and "a teen who's just messing around in the basement." Harper answered by saying promoting terrorism is a serious offence no matter "what the age of the person is, or whether they're in a basement, or whether they're in a mosque or somewhere else." Harper's response to this question associates hundreds of mosques across the country with the promotion of terrorism and violence and is misguided for multiple reasons.
Justin Trudeau warmly ushered Adams into the Liberal tent, calling her "value-driven" and lauding Adams' "commitment to public service." Fair enough. But the Conservative-turned-Liberal Adams raises some interesting questions about the nomination process and begs the question, once again: Are the Liberal nominations actually open? Of course they are not. By continuing to insist that Liberal nominations are open and democratic, Trudeau is undermining his own efforts to present himself as a positive alternative to Stephen Harper.
By appointing a unilingual Foreign Affairs Minister, Rob Nicholson, Prime Minister Harper fails to understand his role to protect this precious heritage. He also handicaps heavily our country's ability to take advantage of our linguistic duality on the world stage. In 2015, it is totally unacceptable.