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Corporate Profiteering. Inflation Matters



Many companies have been able to raise their prices beyond their own increased costs over the past two years, swelling their profitability but also exacerbating inflation. That is very true in the automobile market, where dealerships are paying manufacturers for more inventory, while charging customers even higher prices, sending their profits toward record highs. They can do so by blaming disruptions in the supply chain, and automotive parts, providing too few sedans and other vehicles. If there is an opportunity to make greater profits, these dealerships are going for it big time.

While production is generally increasing, and interest-sensitive demand is cooling, pressures to reduce vehicle margins and prices have appeared. The greater volume of new vehicles may bring prices to the bay, but certainly not reduce them quickly. Taking the profit is a limited-time deal, and these businesses will surely advance profitability. The Central Banks’ move to increase interest rates in an effort to reduce inflation will partly hinge upon how easily companies will surrender their hefty profits If firms reduce their prices in order to bring about competition within the marketplace, price increases may slow and hopefully not result in job losses. There will be a struggle between holding onto larger profits and the Central Banks’ squeeze on the economy and quashing demand that creates and fuels inflation.

There is a power struggle between consumers and corporations, and with the support of the public authority, corporations must experience some financial pain. Image is everything today, and a corporation seen as a scrooge, treating consumers as afterthought financial partners within the market will suffer in many ways.

Our marketplace is still suffering from three forces of economic manipulation…

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1. Supply Chains are still wounded by the pandemic. Supply chains have not fully healed.
2. Demand for products may be slowing down, but the momentum to grow remains.
3. Firms that are used to making huge profits, are proving to be hesitant to lower their prices.

Many firms believe there is still unmet demand for their products, and also believe that supply/manufacturing will not be roaring back any time soon. Profiteering Firms still believe that consumers have been able to bear the rate increases and the increasing prices that will follow, no matter how out of whack our supply and demand sector remains.

Economists fear that interest rates must continue to rise further to a point where consumers have had enough pain and we all see a pause in demand.

With this problem before us, the issue of public and consumer debt lies before us all. Trillions of borrowed dollars must be eventually repaid. The borrowed amounts are unfathomable, and much of it is owed to foreign debt holders. Even if inflation drops to acceptable levels, the debt clock continues to pound away, increasing in volume and financial influential importance.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario


Iranian dissidents in Canada say they're being watched and under threat from the regime in Iran –



There are growing concerns from Iranian-Canadians who say they are being threatened, monitored and even followed at protests and outside their homes by affiliates of the Iranian regime who are here in Canada. 

“They know the view out of my apartment. They said it was a school. That I have three cats. They knew the friends that have come to my house,” said Maryam Shafipour, an Iranian activist who now lives in Canada and who is speaking out against the regime despite the dangers. 

Last year, members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard — a branch of the Iranian forces designated as a terrorist organization in the U.S. — took that information about her life back to her sister in Iran, Shafipour said, and used it to try to threaten her family and lure her back to the country.

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“After that I just cut my relationship with all my friends because I’m really scared,’ said Shafipour. “I am just isolated now.”

Shafipour has reason to be afraid. She once spent two months in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for “spreading propaganda against the system” — the same prison where Mahsa Amini was held. Amini’s arrest on Sept. 13, reportedly for not following Iran’s strict dress code, and death in detention has sparked months of major protests inside and outside Iran. 

Last week, for the first time, CSIS confirmed that it is investigating “several threats to life emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” 

But Shafipour and other activists told CBC News they’ve had no help from Canadian police or government officials and don’t feel like the threat here is being taken seriously.

Bahr Abdul Razzak, left, checked Maryam Shafipour’s phone for spyware at Citizen Lab on Nov. 2, 2022. Her phone has not been hacked, but Citizen Lab found nearly 35 attempts to change her Instagram password and 18 efforts to trick her into changing her Gmail credentials. (Turgut Yeter/ CBC)

Concerns of digital spying

Shafipour’s not the only one who has been monitored in Canada.

In 2021, the FBI publicized details of a plot to kidnap Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad from her home in New York — part of that report revealed plots to kidnap three unnamed people here in Canada. 

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran even hired private investigators in Brooklyn, N.Y., and in Canada to spy on Alinejad and four other dissidents, according to court documents. 

Shafipour is worried the Iranian government hacked into her phone. Curious if there was indeed spyware on her phone, Shafipour sat with experts at Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity lab in Toronto that helps human rights activists under threat of digital espionage. 

WATCH | ‘Maybe they are already here,’ says activist Maryam Shafipour:

Activist Maryam Shafipour describes how she’s been surveilled

23 hours ago

Duration 0:19

Shafipour, who has been in Canada since 2016, has limited her contact with her sister and friends since learning about the surveillance.

She said she’s grateful someone took her seriously, adding Canadian authorities hadn’t looked into her case at all. 

“We know for a fact that they [Islamic Republic] have extensive technologies that enable them to drill right down into people’s personal mobile phones, know where they are, with whom they’re communicating with,” said Ron Deibert, director of Citizen Lab.

“It’s common actually for people in your situation to have agents or people who are sympathetic to the government within Canada follow them around, maybe try to intimidate them,” he said.

Threatening texts

It’s not just high-profile activists like Shafipour and Alinejad who feel in danger; others with no public profile believe they are no longer safe to publicly criticize the regime. Two people spoke to CBC News on the promise of anonymity due to fears for their safety and the safety of their families back in Iran.

They say they have received threatening calls and a text message to cell phone numbers that were supposed to be private.

The messages warned them to stop posting on social media and speaking out about Iran. 

“I have so many family members living in Iran and I love them. I don’t want anything to happen to them,” said the woman who received a text in Farsi. The text was identical to another one sent to activists and journalists in Iran several years ago.

It warned her that speaking with “the enemy” abroad through “email … or other communications” was criminal and would lead to prosecution, also stating “It’s crucial for you to disconnect and this SMS is the last security warning.”

The other person, a young man, received a series of phone calls from blocked and local Canadian numbers questioning why he had posted negatively about Iran on social media — using accounts that were private.

“He repeated himself multiple times and I was terrified and I dropped the call,” said the man. 

WATCH | They received threats, but police told them they couldn’t help:

Iranian-Canadians say they tried to get help from police after threats

23 hours ago

Duration 0:15

Two Iranian-Canadians, who are remaining anonymous, say they went to police with concerns after receiving threatening calls and a text message, and were told by police there was nothing they can do.

Even more frightening, the caller addressed him by name.  He doesn’t know how either he or his number were found.

Both feel they have been watched at protests with people in the crowd using their phones to take pictures of their faces. They believe that information is then sent back to the Iranian government. 

“I feel terrified,” the man added.

These two young Iranian Canadians went to police and say they could not get past reception. They claim they were told no one could help them.

“I feel like the police, whether in Toronto or anywhere in Canada … wait until someone dies and then they will do something,” said one of them.

CSIS investigating ‘several threats’

CBC spoke with others who had similar stories and who say they have been to police, the RCMP and even CSIS without hearing back. 

When asked by CBC News about the rise in Iranian dissidents receiving threats in Canada, the RCMP said in a statement they believe the problem “is growing” but said they can’t quantify it as they believe it is still underreported. 

CSIS has acknowledged they are monitoring the situation, announcing for the first time last Friday they are investigating “several threats to life emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran”. 

Members of the Iranian community gather in Toronto to protest Mahsa Amini’s death, in this photo from September. (Darek Zdzienicki/CBC)

“Canadians are not getting how serious this issue is,” Ardeshir Zarezadeh said. 

Zarezadeh, an Iranian-Canadian who once spent two years in solitary confinement in an Iranian prison, believes the regime’s presence in Canada is growing, causing distress and confusion in his community.

“They [the Iranian regime and its affiliates] have businesses here. Non-governmental organizations. Houses. They are everywhere. And everyone knows it,” he said.

The RCMP never responded to my messages. What’s wrong with the government? Why are they not taking action?– Ardeshir Zarezadeh

Zarezadeh said a couple years ago, a member of the regime showed-up at his Toronto legal offices after calling to make an appointment from a payphone. He was denied an appointment but showed up suddenly anyway, catching Zarezadeh in the lobby. 

“He asked to speak to me for my legal services, I told him I was in a rush, but I felt nervous immediately, ” Zarezadeh said. 

Zarezadeh said he quickly ended the conversation saying he had to go and that the man left. 

“I met so many intelligence officers when I was in Iran. I was arrested 12 times. So many of them interrogated me, so I know how they behave, talk, react.”

Ardeshir Zarezadeh at his legal office on Nov. 22, 2022, where he previously came face to face with an Islamic Republic operative known to the FBI. (Ousama Farag/ CBC)

He immediately contacted the FBI who confirmed to him that the visitor was a known threat and a top regime operative, and warned him to be very careful. 

He says after calls to the RCMP over the matter, they have not followed-up with him.

“The RCMP never responded to my messages. What’s wrong with the government? Why are they not taking action?

Zarezadeh has taken matters into his own hands. He’s compiling a list of names and addresses of known regime affiliates here in Canada and is prepared to make that list public as well as sharing it with the government and other intelligence agencies. 

“I don’t feel safe in Canada. I am constantly watching my back, I bring people with me everywhere I go because who knows any day now I could get a knife in my back,” Zarezadeh said. 

CBC News asked the federal minister of public safety about the lack of police response. We are still waiting for an answer. 

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau describes his choice to invoke the Emergencies Act



OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the last witness to testify at the public inquiry into his Liberal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to quell protests in Ottawa and at several Canada-U.S. border crossings last winter.

There had already been a consensus around the table, Trudeau said Friday, that the government should bring in the emergency powers, but then at 3:41 p.m. on Feb. 14, he received another memo that he testified played a strong role in his making that final decision.

That was when he received the “decision note” from Janice Charette, clerk of the Privy Council, who is Canada’s top civil servant, that formally recommended the invocation of the Emergencies Act for the first time since it had replaced the War Measures Act in 1988.

In his own words, here is what Trudeau told the Public Order Emergency Commission about his thinking in that moment.

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“It was a big thing, not a small thing, to have the head of the public service formally recommend the invocation of the Emergencies Act and the declaration of a public order emergency. It’s not something that had ever been done in Canada before. It was certainly not something that we undertook to do lightly. And as a prime minister, I get to sign off and agree with these notes, or in some cases, disagree with them. And that was a moment that I took with the weight of the decision I was about to take.

“And I reflected briefly on first of all, the reassurance that it gave me that the entire system, all the inputs in the system had come up to the clerk of the Privy Council — the top public servant in Canada; impartial, professional public service — making the recommendation to move forward on this was essential to me.

“But I also reflected on OK, what if I don’t sign it? What if I say, ‘OK, we now have advice from the professional public service to invoke a public order or emergency.’ And I decide, you know what? Let’s give it a few days where the professional public service had made a determination that the thresholds were met, that the use of it was appropriate and responsible and the measures were the right ones that we were going to put in it. And I said, ‘No, you know what? Let’s wait and see another few days, another week, to see if we really need to do it.’

“First of all, what if the worst had happened in those following days? What if someone had gotten hurt? What if a police officer had been put in a hospital? What if, when I had an opportunity to do something, I had waited and we had the unthinkable happen over the coming days, even though there was all this warning that it was possibly coming? I would have worn that in a way that we would certainly be talking about in a forum such as this.

“But more than that, the responsibility of a prime minister is to make the tough calls and keep people safe. And this was a moment where the collective advice of cabinet, of the public service and my own inclination was that this was a moment to do something that we needed to do to keep Canadians safe. And knowing full well that this was an inevitable consequence of me signing ‘I agree’ on this note, I was very comfortable that we were at a moment where this was the right thing to do. And we did it.

“And it is a certain amount of comfort that first of all, the system is working as it should, that people who are defending civil liberties are able to say, ‘You really should be careful about doing this. Maybe you shouldn’t have done it,’ that we have a system pushing back on this, because it’s a big thing, not a small thing, to do this.

“But that also we were able to solve the situation with it, that there was no loss of life. There was no serious violence, that we were able to get neighbourhoods back under control, border services opened and there haven’t been a recurrence of these kinds of illegal occupations since that.

“I’m not going to pretend that it’s the only thing that could have done it. But it did do it. And that colours the conversations we’re having now with the fact that these could be very different conversations.

“And I am absolutely, absolutely serene and confident that I made the right choice in agreeing with the invocation.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022.


The Canadian Press

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Lawyers debate whether Nazism led to Holocaust, as Montreal hate speech trial resumes



MONTREAL — The lawyer for a Montreal man accused of wilfully promoting hatred against Jews argued in court on Friday that the prosecution failed to properly define Nazism or present evidence about what happened during the Holocaust.

Hélène Poussard told Quebec court Judge Manlio Del Negro that he could not take “judicial notice” of the fact that six million Jewish people were killed by the Nazis.

Facts presented in court can be “judicially noticed” when they are generally accepted or so notorious that a debate is not needed about them.

Poussard’s client, Gabriel Sohier Chaput, 36, faces one charge of wilfully promoting hatred in connection with an article he wrote for neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer that said 2017 would be the year of “non-stop Nazism, everywhere.”

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Toward the end of Sohier Chaput’s trial in July, Del Negro rebuked the prosecution for not calling an expert witness to establish that the murder of Jews by the regime of Adolf Hitler was a consequence of Nazi ideology. The judge called for a debate — which occurred Friday — about whether it is indeed common knowledge that the Daily Stormer is a far-right website and whether Nazism lead to a genocide against Europe’s Jews.

On Friday, Poussard attempted to argue that the number of Jewish people killed in the Holocaust was not known, but Del Negro stopped her. He asked whether she was arguing that he should not take judicial notice of any part of the Holocaust.

“You are disputing the number?” he asked, about the genocide of six million Jews.

“I’m not disputing anything,” she responded. “What I’m saying is that you don’t have judicial knowledge.”

Poussard also argued that people who were not members of the Nazi party participated in the killing of Jews during the Second World War and that the meaning of “Nazism” in 2017 may be different than it was in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s.

The defence lawyer said the prosecution should also have called an expert witness to testify about how the Nazis saw the Jews as inferior, given that they also saw many other ethnic groups as inferior to Germans.

Prosecutor Patrick Lafrenière addressed the court briefly after Poussard. He said the judge could take judicial notice by using a reliable source for information about how the Nazis considered Jewish people to be inferior.

“One way for you to take judicial notice is by consulting a reliable, easily verifiable source,” he said, suggesting that the judge could look in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Outside the courtroom, Emmanuelle Amar, Quebec policy and research director at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the trial shows the need for mandatory education in Quebec schools about the Holocaust and antisemitism.

“The Holocaust is a fact, it’s been recognized as a historical fact by Canadian jurisprudence, but also, since this summer, Holocaust denial is now a criminal offence in Canada,” she said in an interview Friday.

“The Holocaust is the most carefully documented genocide in the world, it was documented by its perpetrators, by their victims, by bystanders; there is physical evidence, there is all kinds of evidence of the Holocaust,” she said. “It’s an undisputed fact.”

Del Negro said he will deliver his verdict on Sohier Chaput on Jan. 23.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022.


Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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