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Canadian Armed Forces to enhance engagement with Indo-Pacific, Trudeau says

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BANGKOK — The Liberal government’s long-promised Indo-Pacific strategy will include new investments to strengthen the role the Canadian Armed Forces plays in the region, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday in Thailand.

“This will support our allies, Japan and South Korea, and all of us in the Pacific,” Trudeau said Friday as he wrapped up his participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The gathering had been sidetracked by the news that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile that landed near Japanese waters.

“This is completely unacceptable, and must not continue,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference in Bangkok.

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The United States called an impromptu meeting with the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, hosted by U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris.

Trudeau told his five colleagues that Canada will continue its role in a United Nations mission, called Operation Neon, to monitor sanctions on North Korea.

“Canada joins our allies in condemning in the strongest terms the continued, irresponsible actions of North Korea,” he said.

Trudeau said the repeated missile launches “need to be condemned by all, in the region and around the world.”

Canada’s participation in the APEC gathering ended with a pledge of nearly $183 million in new funding over five years to strengthen ties to the region, part of the Indo-Pacific strategy the Liberals have finally started rolling out.

That includes $92.5 million to create about 60 new jobs, both at Canada’s missions in the region and within Global Affairs Canada.

“This will increase Canada’s presence here on the ground (and) deepen diplomatic ties to build and maintain the important relationships that we are creating,” International Trade Minister Mary Ng said Friday.

There is also $45 million for trade missions and about $32 million to set up Canada’s first agricultural office.

Before Trudeau was pulled aside to discuss North Korea’s move with other leaders, he announced that Ottawa will spend $13.5 million to launch a team in Canada and Asia to form energy partnerships.

“The need for clean energy and green infrastructure is also growing at a rapid pace here in the Indo-Pacific,” Trudeau said in his opening remarks at the news conference before taking questions from reporters.

“As the world moves towards net zero, there is enormous potential to grow our ties in the natural resources sector.”

While Trudeau previously spoke about expanding natural gas exports to Japan and Korea, his office said he also wants to exchange natural resources with India, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

The new funding is part of the Indo-Pacific strategy that the Liberals have started gradually rolling out, after promising one for years.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said diplomats in Asia have told her about “the issue of Canada not always being a reliable partner, because sometimes we show up, and then we leave, and then we go back.”

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha noted that sporadic engagement Thursday when he welcomed Trudeau to his Bangkok residence.

“This is the first visit for you as a prime minister,” Prayut said through an interpreter.

“I hope that this visit, this particularly short one, will be as memorable” as the one Trudeau made in his youth, Prayut said.

Trudeau seemed to contradict Joly’s framing Friday.

“Canada is serious about this, this region, we have always been,” he said

“This opportunity to engage directly, to demonstrate our serious commitment with an Indo Pacific strategy (… will) show that in terms of partnership and investments, we are very much present.”

In other meetings with APEC leaders, Trudeau said he called out Russia’s war with Ukraine and stressed the importance of the World Trade Organization in upholding trade rules.

During one leaders’ session, Trudeau was seated between the heads of government of Brunei and Chile, as they were placed in alphabetical order of each country’s English name. This may have avoided another awkward encounter between Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Xi was filmed Wednesday accusing Trudeau of harming diplomatic relations by sharing details with the media about a prior meeting. Beijing later accused Canada of acting in a “condescending manner” toward China.

The prime minister said he attended “a number of sessions” at APEC where Xi was present, but wouldn’t say whether the two discussed the incident.

Trudeau also had lunch with leaders of the 21 members of APEC, plus guests that the Thai government invited, including Saudi Arabia’s prime minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Trudeau told reporters he brought up Saudi Arabia’s human-rights record, and that Canada has to work with countries “of all different backgrounds” to make progress on issues like climate change or the economy.

“In every conversation with every leader, I make sure to bring up our concerns around human rights and of issues that need to be highlighted for Canadians. That’s exactly what I did,” he said.

Macron also attended the lunch as a non-APEC invitee, while Thailand had invited Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The Associated Press reported that the Cambodian leader, however, had cancelled his visit to Thailand and had left the G20 summit in Bali early after testing positive for COVID-19.

Trudeau also met separately with Harris on Friday, discussing a range of issues including the crises in Haiti and Iranian sanctions. They discussed the recent U.S. mid-term elections, touching on abortion, climate change and the economy, Trudeau’s office said.

He also met with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said she’s keen to partner with Canada when Trudeau releases the regional strategy.

Ardern said she agreed with much of what of Trudeau said in closed-door APEC discussions.

“Listening to the interventions in the room, you can hear the many areas in which we’re like-minded; where we have the same anxieties, where we have the same aspirations,” she said.

After Trudeau’s visits to Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand, Trudeau will be leaving the region for Tunisia, arriving Saturday morning for a weekend at the Francophonie summit.

The meeting will bring together leaders from countries and regions with large French-speaking populations, to discuss everything from economic policy to the use of French in the digital age.

Trudeau is expected to meet with leaders from across Africa, many of whom are concerned about instability caused by soaring food costs, which the Liberals stress have been made worse by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The prime minister is set to return to Ottawa on Monday morning.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Is Canada in a recession? StatCan’s early estimates are saying not yet

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Early indicators from Statistics Canada on show the country’s economy is slowing but might not be in recession territory yet.

The agency released new gross domestic product (GDP) data on Tuesday, showing the economy grew at a rate of 0.1 per cent in November.

Early indications show that the country’s GDP was essentially unchanged for December.

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Overall, StatCan said advance information suggests a 1.6 per cent annualized increase in GDP for the fourth quarter of the year and annual growth of 3.8 per cent in 2022.

Economic growth is expected to slow in response to higher interest rates, with many economists anticipating a mild recession this year. A recession is traditionally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

“Overall, today’s data show that the Canadian economy continues to cool, but not as yet shift into reverse, in the face of rising interest rates,” said CIBC Senior Economist Andrew Grantham in a note to clients Tuesday.

The Bank of Canada has raised its key interest rate eight consecutive times since March, bringing it to 4.5 per cent, the highest it’s been since 2007.

After hiking interest rates last week, the central bank signalled it would take a pause to assess how higher interest rates are affecting inflation and the economy.

In November, growth in real domestic product was driven by the public sector, transportation and warehousing and finance and insurance.

Meanwhile, construction, retail and accommodation and food services contracted.

— with files from the Canadian Press

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St-Onge urges provinces to accelerate efforts to make sports safer for athletes

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Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge says ending abuse in sports will require complaints processes that include provincial-level athletes, not just national ones.

St-Onge and provincial sports ministers will meet during the Canada Games in mid-February where their agenda will include the ongoing effort to address widespread allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in sports.

She says she asked the provincial ministers at an August meeting to look at joining the new federal sport integrity process or creating their own.

The national sports integrity commissioner can only investigate allegations of abuse from athletes at the national level.

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But St-Onge says the vast majority of athletes aren’t in that category and only Quebec has its own sports integrity office capable of receiving and investigating complaints.

The national sport integrity office officially began its work last June and has since received 48 complaints from athletes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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Justice is a Privilege Reserved for the Few

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History is full of examples showing us that Justice is a privilege reserved for the few, the wealthy, politically and financially connected, in fact, those of the right colour or race depending on where and when this justice was to be dealt with. Justice must be earnt, and it expends a colossal cost. What do I mean?

When a justice system demands proof of your innocence, while viewing the accused as guilty until that proof surfaces, the system of justice seems to be blind to all but those with the ability to hire known lawyers and a defense team to point out any misunderstandings that arise. A Black Man with many priors stands before a judge, accused of violent crimes. Will such a man have the ability to raise money to get out of jail and hire a powerful legal team? If he is a financially well-off man perhaps, but if he is an “Average Joe”, the justice system swallows him up, incarcerating him while he waits for his trial, and possible conviction. While the justice system is supposed to be blind to financial, sexist, and racial coding, the statistics show White men often walk, and Black-Hispanic and men of color often do not. Don’t think so?

America’s Justice system has a huge penal population, well into the millions of citizens in public and private prisons across the land. According to Scientific America, 71% of those imprisoned are not white. So do you think these men and women got there because of their choices or did the system help to decide that while whites can be either excused, rehabilitated or found not endangering the greater society, “the others” are threats to the nation’s security and population?

White privilege is still prevalent within our system, with financial privilege a close second.

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The World was white, but now its really black(non-white)
Justice for all is never achieved, just verbatim.
What can justice do for the lowly man
while jails fill and are built anew continually?

When you are seen as an outsider always,
and the precious few escape societies’ hungry grasp.
Justice for all is the cry we all hear these days,
While the policeman stamps your future out at last.

Martin L says the Black Persons going to win this war,
and a war of attrition it truly has been.
Justice is a privileged and socially mobile thing,
leaving the many to pray to the spirit of Tyre Nichols,
asking what the hell can we do???

I walked through an airport recently with no problem and no questioning. Customs and border officers were busy getting into the face of many non-white travelers. To this very day, a non-white person flying anywhere with a long beard, and dressed like a Muslim could get you unwelcomed trouble. Being different will always create difficulties. Being out of your place in another financial-ethnic society will be a challenge. Race, financial and political privilege will forever be with us. The powerful will always be able to dance around the justice system’s rules and regulations. Why? Well, the justice system is an exclusive club, filled with lawyers and police. The administrators and enforcers of the system. Some other form of the judicial system is needed, with a firm root in community equality. Can our Justice System be truly blind to all influencers, but the laws of the land? Can victims of crime receive true justice, retribution in kind for the offenses carried out by criminals against them?

” In the final analysis, true justice is not a matter of courts and law books, but of a commitment in each of us to liberty and mutual respect”(Jimmy Carter). Mutual respect of all actors in the play known as the Justice System, influenced, manipulated, and written by lawyers and academics. God help us.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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