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‘Every one of us was a Mahsa’: Iranians in Canada cut hair at women’s rights rallies

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OTTAWA — Azin Rezaeian kneels on the ground and screams “Say her name” each time she snips off a chunk of her long black hair.

A crowd around her shouts back “Mahsa Amini,” the 22-year-old woman whose death in Iran has sparked protests like this one around the world.

Rezaeian, who moved to Ottawa about a year ago from Iran, shared the video of herself to draw attention to what she said are human rights abuses against women in the country.

It was taken at a rally last week in the capital, one of many demonstrations across Canada where supporters have called for decisive action by the government to condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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“It’s not about Mahsa, it’s about all of the women who live in Iran. Every one of us was a Mahsa,” Rezaeian said in an interview.

Protests have erupted across Iran since Amini died in police custody this month after being arrested, allegedly because her head scarf was too loose.

In response, women have burned their hijabs during large-scale protests across the country, prompting Iranian security forces to push back amid scenes of violence and street clashes uncommon in the Middle Eastern country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that Canada will sanction senior Iranian officials, while some Liberal MPs, including Ali Ehsassi, have said the United Nations must do more on a global scale.

The Conservatives also want Canada to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the country’s military, as a terrorist group.

Some experts, meanwhile, have warned that both demands may be difficult to implement.

Rezaeian, who said she was arrested eight times by the morality police who took Amini into custody, said she wants the Canadian government to be a voice for women in Iran.

The first time she was arrested for allegedly wearing her head scarf improperly, she was only 16. The experience turned her into an activist for women’s rights, she said.

Rezaeian said she now fears for friends who are in custody, including a journalist whose photo of Amini in hospital drew international attention. Rezaeian said she didn’t want to leave Iran or her family behind, but she moved to Canada for fear of the police.

“Every night I have a nightmare about prison, I have nightmares about my friends who are in prison,” she said.

Rezaeian isn’t alone in hoping to draw attention to the issue in Canada. Thousands gathered for a rally in Vancouver on the weekend, while others have protested in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto.

An Iranian student at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., who asked to be referred to only as D.D. because she fears for her safety, joined others in taking scissors to her hair.

The gesture is a nod to Amini, who was allegedly arrested because her hair peeked out from her hijab. D.D. said she cut her hair to symbolize the pain Iranian women are feeling.

“That was basically the only thing I could do at that moment to make this, our word, spread more so people realize we are suffering from some pain,” D.D. said.

Another woman who participated in the protest at the Burnaby campus said she hopes the rallies help amplify the message of protesters in Iran.

She wants to see the Canadian government cut ties with the Iranian government, she said.

“We want to reach out to every country to ask their governments not to negotiate with this regime,” she said.

She also said she wants to see repercussions for anyone with links to the morality police living in Canada. That wish was echoed by Rosa Kheirandish, one of the organizers of the protests in Ottawa, who said the protests were not about getting rid of head scarfs.

“We are not against the hijab. We are pro-freedom of choosing what you want to wear, where you want to wear it,” Kheirandish said.

Kheirandish added that she fears there will be more deaths in Iran, where internet access has been cut, making it more difficult to get updates on the situation on the ground.

However, she also said she has been heartened by the movement in Canada.

“I never knew that many Iranian people lived here in Canada. We never gathered for any cause like this, we were never united like this,” she said.

Additional rallies are planned in Ottawa for Oct. 2 and Oct. 4, she said.

— By Amy Smart in Vancouver

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.

 

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Bank of Canada raises key interest rate to 4.25 per cent, its highest since 2008 – CTV News

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The Bank of Canada has raised its overnight rate by 50 basis points to 4.25 per cent, marking its seventh rate hike in nine months. The last time the bank’s policy rate was this high was in January 2008.

The inflation rate remained high at 6.9 per cent in October, well above the bank’s 2 per cent target. Higher gas prices put upward pressure on the cost of most goods and services, according to the Consumer Price Index released by Statistics Canada last month.

The bank says the economy continued to operate in excess demand during the third quarter and the labour market in Canada remained tight. With unemployment remaining at historic lows, Statistics Canada reported average hourly wages rose by 5.6 per cent year-over-year in October.

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The bank says tighter monetary policy is affecting domestic demand in the Canadian economy, with declines in the housing market and consumption moderating during the third quarter. Since its monetary report in October, the bank continues to expect economic growth to stall through the end of this year and into the first half of 2023.

“The November GDP data showed us that economic activity in Canada had already started to shrink,” said Sheila Block, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “Given that slowdown, any hopes for a soft landing have been crushed by today’s rate hikes.”

During a press conference following the bank’s last rate announcement on Oct. 27, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem signalled “the tightening phase will draw to a close, we are getting closer, but we aren’t there yet.”

On Wednesday, the bank did not rule out further rate increases to tackle inflation.

“Looking ahead, Governing Council will be considering whether the policy interest rate needs to rise further to bring supply and demand back into balance and return inflation to target,” reads the release.

However, experts think it will be difficult for the bank to raise rates during a period of low growth.

“It will be very hard for a central bank to raise interest rates when the economy is in a recession,” said Kevin Page, Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy President and CEO. “I think it is highly probable that the central bank will not need to raise interest rates in the short term (next three to six months).”

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre blamed the cost of living crisis on the federal government’s increased spending during the pandemic.

“It’s another uppercut for Canadians,” said Poilievre. “It’s all because of the inflationary deficits and spending of Justin Trudeau.”

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called for other measures to help combat inflation.

“The federal government has to do more to look at the solutions around inflation,” said Singh during a press conference in Ottawa. “Some of those solutions include acknowledging that high profits in the corporate sector — corporate greed — is contributing to the cost of living going up.”

In the House of Commons, Associate Minister of Finance Randy Boissonnault defended his government’s policies to address the increased cost of living.

“The bank is doing their job. We’re doing our job by making sure we have the fiscal fire power to face what’s going to come,” he said during Question Period. “We’re helping Canadians to buy a new home, we’re advancing the payments for worker benefits and we’re also making sure student loan interest gets removed forever.”

The next policy rate announcement is expected on Jan. 25, 2023.

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Media shunning transparency law due to worsening delays, journalist says

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Veteran journalist Dean Beeby says reporters are abandoning the federal Access to Information Act as a research tool because turnaround times are terrible and getting worse.

The access law allows journalists and others who pay a $5 fee to request documents — from internal emails and expense claims to briefing memos and studies — but it has long been criticized as antiquated and poorly administered.

Federal agencies are supposed to respond within 30 days or provide valid reasons why they need more time to process a request.

The law has not been significantly updated since its introduction almost 40 years ago, and many users complain of lengthy delays as well as heavily blacked-out documents or full denials in response to their applications.

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Beeby, an independent journalist who spent much of his career at The Canadian Press, says bureaucrats now realize they face a much bigger blowback from releasing information than from withholding it — and the law provides a rich menu of excuses to keep things buried.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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Google releases Canada’s top searches of 2022

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From serious news stories to fun diversions, Canadians have done a lot of Google searches this year.

The internet search engine released its list of the most viral web searches in Canada for 2022.

Here are the Top Search Trends this year: 

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  1. Wordle
  2. Ukraine
  3. World Cup
  4. Queen Elizabeth
  5. Betty White
  6. Bob Saget
  7. Anne Heche
  8. Canuckle
  9. Johnny Depp
  10. Will Smith

“Over the last couple of years, Canadians were facing a lot of uncertainty. This year was all about supporting each other and embracing the new normals,” said Google trends expert Habiq Ali.

“Wordle was the number one top trending search term in Canada. But it was also the number one top trending search term around the world, so this web-based word game has really taken the world by storm.”

Top Canadian News Search Trends:

  1. Ukraine
  2. Rogers outage
  3. Monkeypox
  4. Lisa LaFlamme
  5. CNE
  6. U.S. Midterm Elections
  7. Saskatchewan stabbings
  8. World Cup 2022
  9. Oscars 2022
  10. Freedom Convoy 2022
 

Canadians weren’t just Googling games and current news events, they were also asking ‘Why?’

Why…

  1. Why is Russia attacking Ukraine?
  2. Why is Rogers down?
  3. Why did Will slap Chris?
  4. Why is Ukraine not in NATO?
  5. Why is there a formula shortage?
  6. Why is gas so expensive right now?
  7. Why are truckers protesting?
  8. Why is there a Tylenol shortage?
  9. Why is cryptocurrency going down?
  10. Why did Liz Truss resign?

Another question they asked was ‘how:’

How to…

  1. How to watch the World Cup
  2. How to do a rapid COVID test?
  3. How to help Ukraine?
  4. How to get a vaccine QR code?
  5. How to create an NFT?
  6. How to pronounce Kyiv?
  7. How to evolve Charcadet?
  8. How to “respec” in Elden Ring?
  9. How to evolve Cosmog in Pokémon Go?
  10. How to pronounce Qatar?

Canadians were also heavily plugged into pop culture and entertainment. From the infamous Will Smith Oscars slap to the Johnny Depp defamation trial, here were the top celebrities, movies and shows of the year:

Top Celebrities

  1. Johnny Depp
  2. Will Smith
  3. Amber Heard
  4. Chris Rock
  5. Adam Levine
  6. King Charles
  7. Jada Pinkett Smith
  8. Julia Fox
  9. Bruce Willis
  10. Mary J. Blige

Top Movies

  1. Encanto
  2. Top Gun
  3. The Batman
  4. Thor: Love and Thunder
  5. Turning Red
  6. Black Adam
  7. Everything Everywhere All at Once
  8. Morbius
  9. Uncharted
  10. Don’t Worry Darling
 

Top TV Series

  1. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
  2. Euphoria
  3. Stranger Things
  4. Inventing Anna
  5. The Watcher
  6. House of the Dragon
  7. Moon Knight
  8. Yellowstone
  9. The Boys
  10. The Summer I Turned Pretty

It was also a very busy year for sports fans with the Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

Top Sports Searches

  1. World Cup
  2. Olympic medal count
  3. Calgary Flames
  4. Olympics
  5. CFL scores
  6. T20 World Cup 2022
  7. Asia Cup 2022
  8. Canada Soccer
  9. Golden State Warriors
  10. Indian Wells tennis

Top Athletes

  1. Guy Lafleur
  2. Novak Djokovic
  3. Antonio Brown
  4. Serena Williams
  5. Eileen Gu
  6. Kamila Valieva
  7. Felix Auger Aliassime
  8. Mitchell Miller
  9. Johnny Gaudreau
  10. Kirby Dach

“It’s a really interesting way for us to look back at the year and see what inspired us and what intrigued us,” Ali told Global News.

“From a social perspective and from a political perspective, it kind of just shows us what’s top of mind for Canadians this year.”

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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