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Iran protests gain momentum across Canada

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As uprisings continue in Iran, Canadians across the country are showing support by organizing and marching in protests, showcasing solidarity for the thousands risking their lives to dismantle the regime.

Protests organized by local human rights groups and Iranian-Canadian organizations were held on Saturday in Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax, Montreal and other communities across Canada. Thousands marched for the Iranian people who are protesting for human rights.

“It’s a serious challenge to the Islamic Republic and definitely a legitimacy crisis that they’re dealing with,” Negar Mortazavi, host of The Iran Podcast, said on CTV News Channel Saturday. “The government, or the regime, has been willing and capable to suppress these types of protests with very brutal violence, by security forces shooting directly at protesters.”

The uproar was sparked late September when 22-year-old, Mahsa Amini, died while in custody of the so-called “morality police,” a unit that enforces mandatory headscarves for women and girls in Iran. She was taken to a “re-education centre” for not wearing her hijab correctly and later died, her family says she was beaten to death while officials say it was a heart attack.

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Amini’s death has become a symbol of oppression Iranian women have faced for decades.

In Iran, thousands march in the streets and many women and girls continue to remove their headscarves in support of Amini. The government in turn has used violent tactics to silence the protesters. Over 200 people have been killed and thousands have been arrested, the Associated Press has reported

One woman who spoke with CTVNews.ca Saturday said looking overseas from Canada at the ongoing “human rights violations” is terrifying.

“I’m not just scared and worried for my brothers and sisters and my nieces and nephews (who) live there,” she said over the phone on Saturday. “I’m more worried about what’s happening for all those little kids and those young people in the streets.”

CTVNews.ca is protecting the woman’s identity at her request due to safety reasons.

More than a decade ago she and her husband moved Canada, with the goal of giving their daughter a better life. Today, she lives in the Greater Toronto Area says she is proud of the people protesting in Iran.

“This is so brave, and high school girls, other young girls in the street and how the other men and young boys support them, I’m so proud of them,” she said. “But at the same time, I’m so scared for them.”

Last week Iranian climber, Elnaz Rekabi, competed in South Korea without her headscarf. BBC reported she was missing shortly after, only for her to resurface in Tehran, Iran’s capital, making what some are calling a forced apology for the “unintentional” act.

Instead, protestors have taken Rekabi as another symbol for the continued uprising.

The Iranian woman from the GTA was present during the previous 2009 protests, after the Iranian presidential election was plagued by irregularities and allegations of vote-rigging. She says the movement in 2022 is much bigger.

“I know the regime, I know the people and I know the situation and I totally believe that this time, this is not just a protest… this is the beginning of the revolution,” she said.

More recent widespread protests like this took hold of Iran in 2019 when Iranians displayed anger towards soaring food and gas prices. Mortazavi said the use of vicious tactics will have a mixed effect on this uprising.

“We’re seeing extreme images of courage and bravery, especially by women (and) young girls who are risking their lives continuing to protest inside the country,” she said. “But it (violence) definitely has that effect of scaring people and essentially reducing some of the protesters with the security forces present.”

The Canadian government has responded to the protests in Iran, by permanently banning top members of the regime from coming into the country, restricting financial transactions with Iran and enforcing sanction measures.

More recently, the government has imposed targeted sanctions on Iranian officials with a focus on those with links to propaganda and torture, including the Fars News Agency, which is believed to be affiliated with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Iran’s Guardian Council, which blocks electoral candidates who don’t align with the regime’s ideology.

As of October 19, Canada has imposed sanctions on 89 Iranian individuals and 177 entities.

Many supporters believe the protests are a revolution sparking widespread change across Iran. Mortazavi says it’s too early to know if the protests will have the outcome people are hoping for.

“They’re chanting for an end to the system, to the discrimination, to the suppression to this inequality, injustice,” she said. “Will the protesters be able to continue and sustain? It depends on a lot of factors of how long this movement will continue especially inside the country.”

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Canadian military would be 'challenged' to launch a large scale operation: chief of the defence staff – CTV News

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OTTAWA –

Canada’s military forces are “ready” to meet their commitments should Russia’s war in Ukraine spread to NATO countries, but it would be a “challenge” to launch a larger scale operation in the long term, with ongoing personnel and equipment shortages, according to Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre.

Eyre told Joyce Napier on CTV’s Question Period in an interview airing Sunday that while the forces in Europe are “ready for the tactical mission they’ve been assigned,” he has larger concerns about strategic readiness. He said there’s a lack of people and equipment, and further concern around the ability to sustain a larger scale mission in the longer term.

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The Canadian Armed Forces are still struggling to retain staff, with nearly 10,000 fewer trained personnel than they’d need to be at full force, and equipment stocks below what they require.

“We’ve got challenges in all of those,” Eyre said, adding the numbers reflect what’s been “let slip over decades, as we’ve focused on the more immediate (needs).”

Eyre said Canada’s military would be “hard pressed” to launch another large-scale operation like it had in Afghanistan, as an example, without having to redistribute its resources around the globe, as threats evolve.

“The military that we have now is going to be increasingly called upon to support Canada and to support Canadian interests, to support our allies overseas, but as well at home,” Eyre said, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, climate change impacting the landscape in the Arctic, and an increase in digital and cybersecurity threats.

“It’s always a case of prioritization and balancing our deployments around the globe, not just with what, but when, and with who … and getting that balance right is something that that we’re working on,” he said. “Could we use more? Yeah, absolutely. But we operate with what we have.”

“We prioritize and balance based on what our allies need, and what the demand signals, just to make sure that we achieve the strategic effect the government wants us to achieve,” he also said.

Meanwhile Defence Minister Anita Anand said on CTV’s Question Period last week that Canada should “be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” and balance its NATO commitments with securing the Arctic and promoting peace in the Indo-Pacific.

Eyre said his number one priority is getting Canada’s armed forces up to full strength, with an attrition rate of 9.3 per cent between both regular and reserve forces, up from 6.9 per cent last year. The Canadian Armed Forces Retention Strategy was released just last month.

“We are facing the same challenge that every other industry out there is facing in terms of a really tight labor market,” Eyre said. “Every other military in the West is facing the same challenge.”

He explained the organization is working on streamlining its recruitment process, among other changes, to meet the increasing need, with the goal to get numbers up “as quickly as possible.”

“Ideally, would have been yesterday,” he said. “We’re looking at where we can accelerate the recruiting, the training, and optimizing our training pipeline.”

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World Cup 2022: How soccer is evolving in Canada – CTV News

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Soccer wasn’t really a thing when I was a kid. I grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s. Sure, we all had soccer balls. And we played a lot of what should be more accurately called, Kick and Run. But I – and all my friends – did not really know the rules, the teams or the players. We might’ve heard of Pelé, but not more than that.

We followed hockey, baseball, football (CFL and NFL) and basketball, in that order. I did occasionally watch soccer on TV, but that was because we didn’t have a lot of channels and the soothing English accents often lulled me to sleep.

Things are much different now. My 13-year-old son is a massive soccer fan. He plays on a team three or four times a week. His schoolmates include a lot of second-generation Canadians, whose parents came from soccer-obsessed nations. He watches Premier League and Championship League matches. He’s watches La Liga and Bundesliga. He watches World Cup qualifiers and could tell me the backstory on most of the players. In fact, he watches classic games on YouTube and plays FIFA22 on his PS4 and as a result, knows more about Pelé than I ever did. But, because of him, I now watch enough football to know a game is a match, a goalie is a keeper and I know which plays end up in corner kicks or throw-ins.

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I once asked him, “How well do you know the Germany national team?” and he said, “Not very well.” He then proceeded to name seven of their 11 starters. It’s a different world.

I still know almost nothing compared to the other soccer dads, but like millions of Canadians, I watched Canada’s qualifying matches and I know we have a great team, with some stellar players who are worth watching. The qualifying matches regularly beat both hockey games and CFL football when it comes to viewership.

But we should care about more than just the matches themselves. The World Cup is one of the biggest and most lucrative sports spectacles on Earth. This will be the first one hosted in the Middle East. And although Qatar may look shiny and new on TV, it’s mired in what many Western nations believe to be medieval and backwards policies on working conditions, LGBTQ2S+ and women’s rights.

Finding people to talk about it in Qatar is NOT easy. One of W5’s goals this week was to talk to migrant workers to describe how they were treated, their living conditions and their labour rights. Most were too afraid to talk to us.

And to confound things, there have been many stories of journalists being detained or arrested for reporting on migrant workers. Last week, a Danish reporter was live on TV from Qatar and when asked what things were like there, he directed his camera operator to pan left – revealing security officials in golf carts, who immediately tried to stop the live hit. The next day Qatari officials apologized, but the message was clear: we can stop you from reporting when we want. It’s a fascinating video that’s been viewed millions of times around the globe.

The Qatari government denies they’ve put any restrictions on media. In a tweet, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy says “several regional and international media outlets are based in Qatar, and thousands of journalists report from Qatar freely without interference each year.”

Not everyone is convinced. Qatar ranks 118 out of 180 countries in the 2022 Press Freedom index, published by Reporters Without Borders. Freedom House, which is a U.S.-based freedom watchdog, gives Qatar a 25 out of 100 score on Global Freedom, which includes freedom of expression. (Canada ranks 98 and the US ranks 83).

A Reuters Institute column from last week on press freedom in Qatar suggests authorities obscure press freedom laws, by hiding behind trespassing laws.

“One of the most common risks when doing journalistic work in Qatar is to be accused of trespassing. This is what Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani of Norwegian state broadcaster NRK were accused of when they were arrested by officers of Qatar’s Criminal Investigations Department in November 2021, while covering World Cup preparations. The journalists were held for over 30 hours before being released without charge. They deny they were filming without permission,” says the article.

A little insider info: I have personally written, “we don’t want you to get arrested, but…” at least twice in correspondence with our team in Qatar. I’ve never encouraged anyone to break the law of course, but sometimes doing our jobs leads police or security into thinking they have a duty (or at least a right) to stop you.

Where do we get our story ideas? You. Emails, DMs, letters and tweets get to us and we read them all. Share your story with us and you can help us make a difference at W5@bellmedia.ca.

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Don’t have a cow: Senator’s legen-dairy speech draws metaphor from bovine caper

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OTTAWA — Haven’t you herd? A dramatic tale of 20 escaped cows, nine cowboys and a drone recently unfolded in St-Sévère, Que., and it behooved a Canadian senator to milk it for all it was worth.

Prompting priceless reactions of surprise from her colleagues, Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne recounted the story of the bovine fugitives in the Senate chamber this week — and attempted to make a moo-ving point about politics.

“Honourable senators, usually, when we do tributes here, it is to recognize the achievements of our fellow citizens,” Miville-Dechêne began in French, having chosen to wear a white blouse with black spots for the occasion.

“However, today, I want to express my amused admiration for a remarkably determined herd of cows.”

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On a day when senators paid tribute to a late Alberta pastor, the crash of a luxury steamer off the coast of Newfoundland in 1918 and environmental negotiators at the recent climate talks in Egypt, senators seated near Miville-Dechêne seemed udderly taken aback by the lighter fare — but there are no reports that they had beef with what she was saying.

Miville-Dechêne’s storytelling touched on the highlights of the cows’ evasion of authorities after a summer jailbreak — from their wont to jump fences like deer to a local official’s entreaty that she would not go running after cattle in a dress and high heels.

The climax of her narrative came as nine cowboys — eight on horseback, one with a drone — arrived from the western festival in nearby St-Tite, Que., north of Trois-Rivières, and nearly nabbed the vagabonds before they fled through a cornfield.

“They are still on the run, hiding in the woods by day and grazing by night,” said Miville-Dechêne, with a note of pride and perhaps a hint of fromage.

She neglected to mention the reported costs of the twilight vandalism, which locals say has cost at least $20,000.

But Miville-Dechêne did save some of her praise for the humans in the story, congratulating the municipal general manager, Marie-Andrée Cadorette, for her “dogged determination,” and commending the would-be wranglers for stepping up when every government department and police force in Quebec said there was nothing they could do.

“There is a political lesson in there somewhere,” said the former journalist.

Miville-Dechêne ended on what could perhaps be interpreted as a butchered metaphor about non-partisanship: “Finally, I would like to confess my unbridled admiration for these cows that have found freedom and are still out there, frolicking about. While we overcomplicate things, these cows are learning to jump fences.”

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

 

Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press

 

 

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