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Funding and politics hit N.Ireland abortion services – FRANCE 24 English

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Issued on: 04/07/2022 – 07:36Modified: 04/07/2022 – 07:35

London (AFP) – Campaigners in Northern Ireland are closely watching US moves to restrict abortion, particularly concerns that women will now have to travel across states for terminations.

Abortion was only decriminalised in the British province in 2019 — 42 years after terminations were made legal up to 24 weeks in most circumstances in the rest of the UK.

But despite legislation, lack of government funding and political wrangling have meant women are still having to travel to the British mainland for abortions.

Currently, there are still no surgical abortion services available in Northern Ireland and no options for abortion after 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Last year, 161 women crossed the Irish Sea to England and Wales for an abortion, according to UK government statistics published last month.

“The fact that 161 people travelled last year is totally unacceptable, even one should be a scandal,” Dani Anderson from the Abortion Support Network told AFP.

The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling which enshrined the right to abortion prompted some states to introduce a ban.

That has raised fears women from low-income, rural and black and minority ethnic backgrounds will be hit hardest if they have to travel.

Barriers

In Northern Ireland, campaigners say this is already a reality.

Grainne Teggart, deputy programme director for Amnesty International in Northern Ireland, said travelling for an abortion had not been “safe or viable” for many during the pandemic.

From a healthcare perspective, “later trimester abortions are more complex, so it is the women who should be travelling the least who are being made to travel”, added Naomi Connor, co-convener at the grassroots campaign group Alliance for Choice.

She said they have seen cases where women facing domestic violence or in coercive relationships were reluctant to make long journeys because they were “really anxious about anyone finding out”.

As in neighbouring Ireland, where an abortion ban was overturned in a 2018 referendum, religious conservatism is strong in Northern Ireland, both among Catholics and Protestants. This also led to a delay in legalising same-sex marriage.

In rural communities particularly, women have been hesitant to explicitly seek terminations because of stigma.

One refugee in Belfast, who fled her home country after a forced marriage, was told she would have to travel to receive an abortion.

But with limited knowledge of English and other restrictions, she was unable to make the journey, said Connor.

Abortion was only decriminalised in Northern Ireland in 2019 Niklas HALLE’N AFP

She was eventually helped, but there have been times when case workers have had to say nothing can be done.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Connor.

Politics

Healthcare is a devolved issue for the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.

But the main pro-UK party is currently refusing to join the power-sharing executive between unionists and nationalists in a row over post-Brexit trade.

Northern Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann claims he is unable to commission full abortion services without a functioning executive.

Individual health trusts that have stepped in are struggling due to limited funding.

“Since April 2020, when services were supposed to be commissioned, different individual health trusts have had to withdraw services due to a lack of resources,” said Connor.

The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling

The recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling Samuel Corum AFP

Last year, one trust had to temporarily suspend its early medical abortion services for a year, redirecting patients elsewhere in Northern Ireland.

Campaigners also complain of a lack of public information about options for women before they are past their first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Still, there is renewed hope that abortion services may finally be commissioned, despite the current political paralysis.

MPs in the UK parliament in London recently voted to implement access to services in Northern Ireland, passing the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2022.

They allow the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to step in, controversially overriding the authority of the devolved administration in Belfast.

Teggart welcomed the regulations as a “very necessary move”.

“For the health minister (Swann) it is a damning indictment on his failure to prioritise the health of women and girls,” she said.

Lewis wants services to be “delivered and available to all across Northern Ireland as soon as possible”.

Swann was “currently awaiting legal advice” on the implications of the new regulations, his department said.

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Politics Briefing: Federal government invests in protecting against quantum threats – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

This morning, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino announced $675,000 to help keep Canadians safe from quantum threats, which he called “one of the most serious threats” to Canada’s cybersecurity. The funding will go to the non-profit organization Quantum-Safe Canada for a project to raise awareness and preparedness for such threats.

“The reality, which many Canadians likely don’t know, is that current infrastructure is vulnerable to the quantum technology of tomorrow,” Mr. Mendicino said at a press conference today.

Quantum threats refer to the capabilities of true quantum computers, which have yet to be realized, but could be a reality in around 10 years. Quantum computers would allow for the hacking of mass quantities of encrypted materials – and quickly. They “break the codes underpinning Internet security and the security of things like the ArriveCan app,” explained Michele Mosca, executive director of Quantum-Safe Canada and deputy director of the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing.

Quantum threats were also discussed by experts in April during hearings of the House standing committee on industry and technology, and whose testimony seemed to stun some MPs.

“Everything that’s been sent on the Internet since essentially the beginning of time will become an open book when a quantum computer is available,” Gilles Brassard, a professor in the department of computer science and operations research at Université de Montréal, told the committee. “Therefore, there’s no way to try to protect the past. The past is gone forever — forget about it. But we can still hope to protect the future.”

Asked what should be done to increase awareness, Mr. Brassard replied: “There needs to be education. There is no magic bullet. People are not sufficiently aware of the threat, and when they are told, they might panic.”

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

LAFLAMME BLINDSIDED BY CTV – Lisa LaFlamme was let go as anchor of CTV National News after 35 years at the network in a decision that the veteran journalist said blindsided her and one that prompted shock from colleagues and viewers. Story here.

DELAYS AT PEARSON – The chaos at Toronto Pearson has laid bare a broken governance system, not only in the Canadian airport model itself but among the multiple federal agencies serving the aviation industry, The Globe and Mail has found. Story here.

ATTENDANCE DOWN AT WORLD JUNIORS – While the time of year is a key factor in the low attendance at a winter sporting event, Hockey Canada concedes that concerns over its handling of sexual-assault allegations have also affected interest in the tournament. Story here.

INFLATION SLOWING – Canadian inflation slowed in July as consumers paid much less for gasoline, marking what could be the start of a long journey back to low and stable rates of price growth. Story here.

EXPLOSIONS IN CRIMEA – Explosions went off Tuesday at a military base in Russian-annexed Crimea, which is an important supply line for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Story by Reuters here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

The Canadian Health Coalition released a statement criticizing the possibility of Canadian Blood Services partnering with a multinational company to pay Canadians to sell their plasma. “Once payment to Canadians for their plasma becomes the norm, recruitment of voluntary donors will decline, as experienced in European countries,” said health safety expert Dr. Michèle Brill-Edwards.

THE DECIBEL

Parasite ecologist and University of Washington associate professor Chelsea Wood makes her case to The Decibel listeners for parasite conservation, and why they’re actually beautiful, complex forms of life. Episode here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister is holding private meetings in Outaouais, Que., and the National Capital Region.

OPINION

Marcus Gee (The Globe and Mail) on the beauty and wonder of Canada, from the view of a recent cross-country odyssey: “It’s impossible to believe the sheer size and natural variety of this country. We’ve passed through the wild north shore of Lake Superior, crossing the countless rivers and streams that spill into that great inland sea; the vast boreal forest in northwest Ontario; the still vaster prairies, green and gold in their midsummer splendour; then the Rockies, where we hiked through an alpine meadow bursting with paintbrush and arctic lupine and along a famous gorge, Johnston Canyon, filled with roaring waterfalls.”

Sabine Nolke, Phil Calvert, Roman Waschuk, John Holmes, Louise Blais (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Ottawa’s centralized decision-making puts local embassy staff at risk: “Recent reports have revealed that on the cusp of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine earlier this year, plans were made to evacuate Canadian staff at the Canadian embassy in Kyiv. However, Ukrainian employees were not adequately informed of the dangers facing them and they haven’t been given sufficient assistance since. As former ambassadors, reading the reports hit a chord and did not entirely surprise us.”

Ali Mirzad (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s need to deliver on its moral obligation to the persecuted Hazaras of Afghanistan: “It is true that the Liberal government cannot evacuate those trapped behind the Taliban’s walls. But it has also strategically ignored people it could actually help – the thousands of highly vulnerable and at-risk individuals, such as the Hazaras, who have fled but remain in limbo in refugee camps. While Canada continues to fail in delivering on its moral obligations, the persecuted Hazaras – who have historically been deprived of basic human rights – must continue to live each day in the midst of persecution and tragedy.”

Michael Bociurkiw (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canada is falling short on its promises to Ukraine: “From the very start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has bungled its response to the crisis on almost every step of the way: from the inexplicable tardiness to send lethal weaponry to circumventing its own sanctions on Russia by approving the release of repaired turbines for that country’s Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.”

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Former Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca announces run for Vaughan mayor

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Former Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca said Tuesday he has entered the race for Vaughan mayor in the October municipal election.

In a news release, he said his campaign will focus on stemming traffic gridlock in the city that he has called home for 35 years.

“Vaughan has experienced explosive population growth over the years and it’s been hard for our transportation network to keep up,” he said. “The result is obvious and brutal – more of our residents are stuck in traffic every single day – wasting their precious time, while both our economy and our environment suffer.”

Del Duca, who was named Liberal leader in 2020, resigned in June after the Liberals won just eight seats in the provincial election, failing to secure official party status for the second consecutive time. Del Duca was also unable to win his own riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge.

On Tuesday, he said he had taken time to reflect on his future since then.

“Over the past two months, I have reflected a great deal on my personal future and have taken the time to consider how best to continue to serve the community that I love,” he said.

“I believe passionately in public service and I feel that I have a responsibility to give back. I am running for mayor and humbly asking for support to continue providing Vaughan residents with stable, thoughtful and progressive leadership at city hall.”

Del Duca previously served as the province’s transportation minister and economic development minister.

Ontario’s municipal elections are set to be held on October 24.

Former NDP leader Andrea Horwath announced last month she would be running for mayor of Hamilton.

Horwath also stepped down after the June provincial election despite her party returning to official opposition status for a second straight term in the legislature. She led the NDP for 13 years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.

 

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Politics Briefing: One year after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban – The Globe and Mail

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Friday’s Politics Briefing failed to deploy due to a programming error. We apologize for missing it.

Hello,

One year ago, Afghanistan was taken over by the Taliban. Since then, The Globe and Mail’s Janice Dickson has been writing about the challenges faced by Afghans trying to make their way to Canada, including through a special immigration program for Afghans who worked for Canada’s diplomatic and military missions in the country, along with their families.

Today, she brings the story of a young man named Usman and his father, who once guarded Canada’s embassy in Kabul. A week ago, Usman’s father made a rare trip outside their home to pick up some food – and has not returned. Usman fears the Taliban have taken his father and may be coming next for him and his family.

Usman said he has e-mailed Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) countless times on his father’s behalf over the last year. So far, he has only received auto-replies.

In another story, Dickson, along with Goran Tomasevic and Sharif Sharaf, detail the struggles of Afghan girls and teachers at one school – after the Taliban banned schooling for girls after grade six. One 14-year-old girl said in a phone interview that she has always dreamed of a career in economics. But she’s in sixth grade and, in a few months, her education will come to an end.

“Maybe in three or four years I will also marry. I don’t know. This is a very awful thought for me. But it could be my future, like other women,” the girl said.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

GOVERNANCE ISSUES KNOWN – Before Hockey Canada became engulfed in controversy this year over its handling of sexual-assault allegations, the government had concerns about its board of directors, including aspects of transparency and accountability within the organization, according to documents obtained by The Globe. Story here.

BLOCKADES COST BILLIONS – Newly-disclosed cabinet documents show that Ottawa produced an internal estimate in February of the GDP impact of countrywide blockades – figures Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland did not provide when asked during a June committee hearing. The estimate showed that the Canadian economy was losing between $2.6-billion and $5.2-billion a week. Story here.

ARRIVECAN GIVES ONE-TIME EXEMPTION – The Canadian government is allowing COVID-19-vaccinated travellers entering the country by land border a one-time exemption from quarantine, testing and fines if they fail to enter their information on the ArriveCan app. Story here.

STRUGGLES TO FIND A FAMILY DOCTOR – More Canadian seniors are finding themselves without a family doctor amid a shortage of primary-care physicians, compelling some older adults to seek private support as advocates highlight serious health consequences. Story here.

RUSHDIE ON ROAD TO RECOVERY – Author Salman Rushdie is “on the road to recovery,” his agent said Sunday, two days after he was stabbed ahead of delivering a lecture in upstate New York. Story by the Associated Press here.

POWER OUTAGE INVESTIGATED – The City of Toronto is investigating a power outage that left many in the downtown core without electricity for several hours on Thursday. Story by the Canadian Press here.

INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE EXEMPTION DISCUSSED – Senior civil servants discussed offering possible exemptions to federal employees who already speak one Indigenous language from having fluency in both English and French, according to new documents. Story by the Canadian Press here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

MPs OFFER STATEMENTS ON AFGHANISTAN – Liberal MPs referred to the “hardships endured by the Afghan people, with some having undergone harrowing journeys to flee the country and countless others living in fear of persecution and retribution,” and highlighted the thousands of Afghans who have been brought to Canada. NDP MPs, meanwhile, brought up issues with the Liberal government’s program to bring Afghans to Canada who served with Canada’s diplomatic or military missions. “Instead of expediting processing, the Liberal government made the application process confusing and full of bureaucratic red tape,” their statement read. Conservative MPs said that “the Liberals failed to plan for an evacuation of our partners in Afghanistan and continue to struggle to provide thousands of Afghans safe entry into our country.”

NATIONAL ACADIAN DAY MARKED – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement noting the day, writing, “Acadians have always shown courage, resilience, and perseverance. For more than 400 years in North America, they have built a strong and dynamic identity, which they have safeguarded in the face of adversity and hardship. This Acadian identity, deeply rooted in our history, inspires people far beyond the borders of Acadie.”

COMMITTEE MEETS ABOUT POSSIBLE INTERFERENCE – Tomorrow, the House standing committee on public safety and national security will meet for the second day of a study into “allegations of political interference in the 2020 Nova Scotia Mass Murder investigation.” They are set to hear from RCMP and Department of Justice officials. Hearing information is here.

THE DECIBEL

Why do CEOs get paid so much? David Milstead, The Globe’s institutional investment reporter, takes Decibel listeners inside the complex world of executive pay. Episode here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister is holding private meetings in the National Capital Region today.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

TRIBUTE

Bill Graham was old school. The former Liberal cabinet minister loved politics, loved the Toronto riding he represented through five elections, loved being out and about in the world, loved gossip and good stories, which he could tell better than just about anyone,” wrote John Ibbitson in his obituary of the respected politician, who died last weekend. Obituary here.

OPINION

Mellissa Fung (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on the fight to get Afghans out of the country, amid bureaucratic delays: “During those frantic first days and weeks of the Taliban’s return to Kabul, I made hundreds of calls, to people I knew and to people I didn’t. I wasn’t alone; journalists, aid workers and former military members the world over were similarly desperate to do what we could to evacuate those at risk. It seemed surreal that this work was left to us, but we found ourselves desperately trying to organize convoys and flights, and madly filling out spreadsheets for manifests.”

Rahela Nayebzadah (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on Afghanistan’s descent into the ‘dark ages,’ a year after the West’s withdrawal: “Society needs to come together to support those the West left behind. Afghans in Western countries, especially, need to come together. We need to push political leaders into fighting for women’s rights in Afghanistan and accepting more refugees. Recently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that spots for the special Afghan immigration program are nearly full. Millions of Afghans will die at the hands of the Taliban if Western countries do not accept more refugees.”

Adnan R. Khan (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Afghanistan is in a similar place as it was in the mid-1990s: “It truly has been a year of rude awakenings in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban conquered the country on Aug. 15 last year, the situation has devolved to a point where we are now seeing the re-emergence of an Afghanistan that existed in the mid-1990s: an emirate of fear where terrorist groups are again allowed to flourish and basic human dignity is denied to most of the population. That’s not what we were told would happen when the U.S. struck a deal with the Taliban that would allow it to end the longest war in U.S. history.”

Asuntha Charles and Reyhana Patel (The Hill Times) on the need for Canada to allow aid to flow to Afghanistan: “We have united in launching the ‘Aid for Afghanistan’ public campaign to remove these barriers, including the amendment of the Criminal Code, to allow humanitarian organizations to resume their programs. Ultimately, we want our government—and Canadians at large—to understand that this issue is not about the Taliban, religion, or party politics. It is about Afghanistan being on the brink of mass starvation, where 22.8 million people—through no fault of their own—are suffering and in desperate need of urgent help.”

Samra Habib (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on partition’s ‘cruel legacy:’ “Many of us born after Partition have experienced intergenerational trauma. How does so much loss, fear, grief and disconnection manifest in the bodies and lives of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who lost so much? It’s something I often wonder about as I try to unearth the origins of some of my own fears and anxieties. Hopefully, a surge in conversations around the impact of Partition, 75 years later, will help us examine what has been passed down to us.”

David Boyd, Kai Chan, Amanda Giang, and Navin Ramankutty (Contributed to The Globe and Mail): on the need for Canada to take action on the right to a healthy environment: “The world’s future became a little bit brighter recently. On July 28, for the first time in history, the United Nations General Assembly recognized that everyone, everywhere, has a right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Now it’s time for Canada to step up and take action to ensure that right for all its citizens.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

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