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Government considering emergency powers with 'appropriate caution,' federal minister says – CBC News



The federal government has discussed invoking special emergency powers to deal with ongoing protests in Ottawa, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair says, calling a lack of enforcement in the nation’s capital “inexplicable.”

The government’s Incident Response Group and cabinet have had “daily” discussions about potential use of the Emergencies Act, Blair said in an interview on Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live.

A cabinet meeting was added to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s itinerary late Sunday, and CBC News has learned that a meeting with the prime minister and premiers has been called for Monday morning.

Blair described the attitude around use of the law, which has never been implemented before, as “appropriate caution” rather than “reticence.”

The law empowers Ottawa to do just about anything it thinks is necessary to cope with a crisis. The legislation, which replaced the War Measures Act, defines a national emergency as a temporary “urgent and critical situation” that “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it.”

While Blair emphasized it was important to make sure that “the appropriate authorities that are with the provinces are fully utilized,” he said the federal government was “prepared to do everything necessary.”

He also did not rule out deployment of the military in some way to help end the occupation.

That’s a shift in tone from the position taken by Trudeau on Friday, when he said a military deployment is “something to avoid having to do at all costs” while also noting that “all options remain on the table” when discussing blocked border crossings.

WATCH | Emergency preparedness ministers says police must act: 

‘We just need the police to do their job,’ says minister of emergency preparedness

13 hours ago

Duration 10:44

Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair discusses on Rosemary Barton Live the federal government’s response to the protests against COVID-19 restrictions that continue to cause major disruptions across the country. 10:44

While much of the responsibility for law enforcement lies with the provinces, Blair told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, the federal government has made it clear that “in any situation where the circumstances exceed the ability or authority of the provinces, we are prepared to step in and do whatever is necessary.”

“Enough is enough, this has to come to an end,” he said, noting the role the Canadian Armed Forces have played in assisting during other crises.

“The activities that are targeting right now critical infrastructure, our borders in the country, are intended clearly to harm Canada and Canadians.”

‘We just need the police to do their jobs’

The protests in Ottawa against COVID-19 public health measures, including vaccine mandates, have dragged on for more than two weeks — with protesters occupying several blocks in the downtown core around Parliament Hill. Local residents, who have faced blaring horns, diesel fumes and harassment, have become increasingly furious with the police response.

Ottawa police have said they have a plan to end the protests but require additional resources from outside the city. Recently, an integrated command centre was set up in the city, bringing together local police with the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, who says discussions are still continuing to end the large protest in the nation’s capital that began more than two weeks ago, accuses local police in Ottawa of not doing their jobs. Police have repeatedly said they need more resources. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Michael Kempa, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said Canadians are starting to wonder which side is accurate.

“This is where the situation is baffling for Canadians watching,” he said.

“You’ve got the chief of Ottawa police and the mayor of Ottawa who repeatedly say that [the city] does not have the resources to carry out this mission on its own and that we’re waiting for backup. The prime minister and the federal government, the minister of emergency preparedness, Bill Blair, keeps repeating that [the city] does have the resources that are necessary.”

Similar protests elsewhere in the country, aside from an ongoing action near Coutts, Alta., have not become as entrenched as the main truckers convoy that rolled into Ottawa late last month.

A blockade of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., was dispersed by police earlier Sunday, with 12 arrests.

Blair said the lack of enforcement in Ottawa was “somewhat inexplicable.” Blair, who previously served as public safety minister, was also chief of the Toronto Police Service between 2005 and 2015.

Ontario Provincial Police officers keep watch on protesters opposed to COVID-19 public health measures during a demonstration in Ottawa on Saturday. The truckers convoy protest has lasted just over two weeks. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in the province on Friday, with his cabinet signing orders giving police new leeway and increasing penalties against protesters.

“[Police] now have new authorities and I think very effective tools,” Blair said on Sunday. “We just need the police to do their jobs and enforce and uphold the law, and to restore public safety in Ottawa.”

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson called the minister’s statement “unfair.”

“Given the sheer numbers of people who are out, many of them don’t have anything to do with the trucking industry they’re just showing up to be agitators, we don’t have the resources to go in,” he said.

“Many of [them] are very angry and very frustrated and are taking it out on our city.”

His comments came the same day the city brokered a deal with one of the protest organizers to move trucks out of residential areas in the next 24 hours.

Counter-protests gain steam

Counter-protests are picking up steam in Ottawa, with hundreds marching this weekend. On Sunday, a group of people blocked a major intersection to prevent a number of vehicles from joining the main protest downtown.

Kempa said while he understands the desire to push back, he’s worried about the risk of confrontation between the two groups.

“That would be a very dangerous and volatile situation,” he said.

“This underlines why the state must get control of the streets of Ottawa. Citizens are, in effect, giving up and the state must demonstrate that the institutions of democracy are able to control the situation.”

Politicians at all levels of government have condemned the occupation in Ottawa, calling for protesters to leave. Ford has called the situation a “siege.”

Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen, who in past weeks voiced support for the protest’s aims, said on Thursday that “the time has come for you to take down the barricades, stop the disruptive action and come together.”

The Conservatives have also tabled a motion calling on Trudeau and his cabinet to drop all federal pandemic restrictions and “transition to a post-COVID society as quickly as possible.” The House will vote on the non-binding motion on Monday.

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Canada’s transport minister detects ‘shift’ in U.S. outlook after meetings in D.C.



WASHINGTON — The latest federal cabinet minister to press Canada’s case with President Joe Biden’s administration says he is detecting a positive “shift” in U.S. thinking when it comes to the question of tax incentives for electric vehicles.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra spent Tuesday in Washington, D.C., for meetings with officials including U.S. counterpart Pete Buttigieg and senior White House adviser Mitch Landrieu.

It was just the latest in a series of cabinet-level visits — Defence Minister Anita Anand, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Trade Minister Mary Ng have been in town in recent weeks — where the ministerial marching orders included voicing opposition to the tax-credit scheme.

Biden’s original vision was a sliding scale of tax incentives, with the richest ones reserved for electric vehicles assembled in the U.S. with union labour — a proposal Ottawa feared would be devastating for Canada’s auto sector.

It died back in December when West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a vital vote in the evenly divided Senate, refused to support Biden’s $2-trillion environmental and social spending package, known as Build Back Better. 

Ever since, Canada has maintained a strict defensive footing against the tax credits coming back to life.

“I don’t know if the old incarnation is going to come back exactly as it was or not. But I can say that what I am sensing today is that there is now a shift in strategic outlook,” Alghabra said.

The war in Ukraine, and the way NATO members and allies have made common cause with each other in pushing back against Russia, is putting a “new frame” around how the U.S. deals with its allies, he noted.

The world, including the U.S., better understands that trustworthy trading partners and consistent, reliable supply chains that are impervious to unexpected geopolitical shocks have long been taken for granted.

“There is, I think, a new frame for the conversations that are taking place in the U.S. And while I don’t know what the future of the previous EV tax credit is, I am hopeful that I think now we’re entering into a new type of discussion.”

The White House has acknowledged that it’s working on a scaled-down version of Build Back Better, but has so far refused to say publicly whether the tax credits would return in their original form.

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said discussions are underway for legislation that would resurrect some of the environmental provisions of Build Back Better, including its “energy transition-related elements.”

Canada would welcome and support any effort on the part of the U.S. to fight climate change, she said.

“But we never miss an opportunity to re-emphasize with them that, in so doing, it’s imperative that as the staunchest of environmental allies, we do it together in a way that supports each other and doesn’t make this path that we’re on together harder for either of us,” Hillman said.

“That message is heard loud and clear by lawmakers on the Hill, by the White House, and they have expressed an understanding of our concerns, and more than that, a desire to make sure that it works for us in our partnership.”

Manchin, the mercurial moderate Democrat whose support has become essential for any White House measure on Capitol Hill, recently suggested he would not support any proposal that would harm Canada’s auto industry.

Manchin, who heads the Senate’s energy and natural resources committee, hosted Jason Kenney when the Alberta premier testified in person on Capitol Hill earlier this month.

The pair have become cross-border allies as the U.S. looks for ways to both combat inflation while reducing its dependence on fossil fuels from hostile regimes, while Kenney continues to prod the Biden administration to depend more on Canada for its short-term energy needs.

After the May 17 hearing, Manchin said he expects the White House is still working on some sort of a program to encourage American consumers to buy more electric vehicles and ease U.S. dependence on gasoline.

But he insisted that he wouldn’t support any measure that would hurt automakers north of the border.

“There’s no way in the world that we’re going to put that type of harm and allow that to happen,” Manchin said. “My vote would never support that at all.”

It was not abundantly clear whether Manchin was talking specifically about the tax credits or more broadly about Canada’s own efforts to develop its reserves of critical minerals, a key component in the production of electric vehicles.

That ambiguity is part of why Canada remains so guarded on the subject, Hillman said.

“Until we see what is actually on the table and how it’s going to be implemented, we cannot rest.”

Manchin and Kenney both voiced support for the idea of a more closely integrated Canada-U.S. energy “alliance.” It would focus on the need for traditional energy in the short term, as well as reliable bilateral supply chains for critical minerals.

Alghabra said the role Canada could play in buttressing U.S. supply chains for those minerals is also generating increased interest south of the border.

“We have more of those critical minerals, and some types of the critical minerals that the U.S. doesn’t have,” he said. “There’s a new sense of interest and intrigue about this new frame that I think maybe did not exist last year.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.


James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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‘Extremely serious’: Calgary man involved in terrorism activity sentenced to 12 years



CALGARY — A man who admitted to terrorism-related acts with the militant group Islamic State has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Hussein Borhot, 36, appeared Thursday before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Labrenz for a sentencing hearing in Calgary.

“Quite clearly, you intended to assist or facilitate the activities of a terrorist group. You carried that plan into action,” Labrenz told Borhot as the judge accepted a joint sentencing recommendation from the Crown and the defence.

“This was an extremely serious and grave crime.”

Borhot pleaded guilty last month to one count of participating in terrorism group activity between May 9, 2013, and June 7, 2014, as well as to kidnapping for a terrorist group while in Syria.

The joint submission recommended eight years on the first count and another four years for the kidnapping.

Labrenz also imposed a lifetime firearms ban and ordered Borhot’s DNA be submitted to a national database.

RCMP arrested Borhot in July 2020 after a seven-year investigation.

An agreed statement of facts read in court in April said he travelled to Syria through Turkey to join the Islamic State.

The statement said he signed up as a fighter, received substantial training and excelled as a sniper, but did not tell his wife or father before the trip.

Court heard that Borhot revealed much of the information to an undercover officer after he returned to Canada.

Before the judge’s decision, Crown prosecutor Kent Brown said it was important to keep in mind that Borhot participated in acts of terrorism.

“Once he decided to join up with ISIS, virtually all his activities were terrorist activities,” he told Labrenz.

Borhot’s lawyer, Rame Katrib, said he and his client agreed to the sentence after lengthy discussions with the Crown.

“Mr. Borhot has tendered a plea of guilty, when there were a lot of issues that could have been litigated, but he has taken responsibility,” Katrib said.

Twelve years in prison isn’t a lenient sentence, the defence lawyer said.

“He’s been back in Canada since these offences occurred,” he said. “He’s been here many years and in that time period he has built a family, he’s worked, he’s led a quiet life.”

Borhot, he noted, was free on bail with strict conditions that included wearing an ankle-tracking device, complying with all laws and checking in regularly with authorities.

“When he goes to jail, he is leaving behind a family. He has four children.”

Katrib said the prison term not only takes into account a fit sentence but rehabilitation as a possibility.

“Mr. Borhot left the organization of his own volition and returned to Canada,” he said.

“The entirety of the family was never supportive of this type of thing and even now are very ashamed of what’s happened, as is Mr. Borhot.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 26, 2022.


Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

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The Gender War amongst Us



The United Nations define gender-based violence as any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women and other persons, including threats of acts of violence, coercion and arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.

Gender-Based Violence is a global public health problem that challenges and affects the morbidity and mortality of women and the LGBTQ Community. It is estimated that 30% of women and 85% of The LGBTQ have experienced at least one form of GBV in their lifetime since the age of 15. The United Nations study among Women of reproductive age revealed that Intimate Partner Violence(IVP) ranged from 15% in Urban Regions(ie Japan) to 71% in Rural Regions (ie Ethiopia)Evidence reveals that this problem is most prominent in developing nations where socioeconomic status is low and education limited, especially in sub-Saharan Africa countries.
Gender Prejudice and Violence directed towards Women and The LGBTQ Community is globally widespread, even within the well-educated populations of the developed world.

Gender-Based Violence is a common practice in Africa, Asia and developing nations in Latin America. Most African Cultural beliefs and traditions promote men’s hierarchical roles in sexual relationships and especially in marriage. Almost two-thirds (63%) of the African population live in rural settings which increases the difficulty to access basic amenities and communities are isolated from the influence of central governments or the laws that prohibit GBV. Despite legislative advances, GBV remains pervasive and a daily reality for Women, Girls and THE LGBTQ Communities. Within Rwanda, many Women and Girls experience multiple and intersecting forms of violence and oppression including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, early and forced marriages, genital mutilation and human trafficking.

Gender Biased Violence directed towards The LGBTQ Community is high within African society, where their lifestyle may appear as a challenge to other males’ masculinity or gender understanding. Within the Latin Community, such violence exists but is far less felt than in areas within Africa. The Latin Worlds’ understanding of masculinity seems to vary, appearing to be more accepting of “the different”. Many Latin Males have multiple gender partners even within marriage. African attitudes are far more conservative and unyielding.

Gender Politics have shaped our world, moving from ancient acceptance of the power and influence of Womanhood to a place where religion became the excuse to oppress Women and other elements of society like the LGBTQ Community. Humanities’ move toward freedom and self-expression has been squashed by the manipulative, powerful masculinity of Mankind. Impressions of a controlling, protective society show us what we are to believe and how we are to live our lives.

Equality, self-determination and self-expression for Women and the LGBTQ Community still remain important aspects of the developed world’s policymaking and implementation. Within the continents of Africa, Central and Latin America, and some Asian nations government policymakers attempt to legally establish the necessary laws to protect their populations, but cultural, political and societal traditions and prejudices have entangled themselves within these nations’ evolutionary movement towards equal rights and gender democracy. A Gender War remains among us, within us, allowing prejudice, fear and hate to shape our society. Like all wars, there are many casualties, but with education, determination and the hand of justice applied, this war can be won.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario

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