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Iranian accused of sanction-dodging seeks expedited Canadian citizenship

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A Toronto man accused by Canada’s intelligence service of helping Iran dodge international sanctions has filed a court case against the government for not granting him citizenship.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has alleged Alireza Onghaei took part in “foreign influenced activities … that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive.”

But Onghaei, 46, an Iranian citizen who owns a house in Vaughan, Ont., claimed in an application to the Federal Court that his quest to become a Canadian citizen had faced “unreasonable” delays.

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In the case, filed in Montreal on Nov. 16, Onghaei asked the court to order the government “to render a decision with regards to his citizenship application.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada would not comment.

Onghaei’s lawyer also declined to comment. But reached by phone, Onghaei called the allegations against him “f—king bulls—t.”

He denied admitting to CSIS he had moved millions into Canada for the Iranian regime, and accused the Canadian government of fabricating a case against him to show it was cracking down against Iran.

The government did so to “try to get like more votes from the immigrants,” he said. He said the fact he had initiated the case against the government showed he was innocent.

“It’s logic,” he said.

This is the fifth court case Onghaei has filed against Canada since he arrived in the country as an investor immigrant in 2008 and opened a series of currency exchange businesses in Ontario and B.C.

Already a citizen of both Iran and the Caribbean island nation Saint Kitts and Nevis, he was refused Canadian citizenship in 2018 but appealed.

The CSIS security screening branch interviewed Onghaei in 2019 and wrote in its report that he had admitted to “assisting the government of Iran in the clandestine wiring of monies into Canada.”

According to the report, Onghaei “admitted to having owned a private exchange company that would transfer funds from Bank Saderat and other Iranian financial actors into Canada.”

Bank Saderat is an Iranian state bank sanctioned by Canada and used to “channel funds to terrorist organizations,” CSIS wrote in the report, which was filed in court.

“For additional clarity, Mr. Onghaei stated that he knows the process of circumventing economic sanctions is clearly illegal. Yet, Mr. Onghaei admitted to having conducted such activities for at least three years,” CSIS wrote.

“On a separate note, Mr. Onghaei stated that if he were to profit from such a relationship, he would ‘gladly’ work for a foreign intelligence service, notably one from Iran,” according to the report.

Onghaei has not been charged over the allegations.

“They have nothing, man,” he said.

He said CSIS would not allow him to record his two-day security screening interview “because they knew they want to lie to the public, they knew they want to report by the bulls—t.”

“Never I did admit, never I did work with the Iranian f—king government.”

He said the government had delayed his citizenship application for nine years. “I have a right to file a court case against them again, that’s all.”

An international organization that has been attempting to identify members and associates of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Canada and the United States said more than half of those uncovered to date had already acquired citizenship.

“The current legal regime in Canada does not address these sorts of cases at all, focusing on a limited number of sanctions and targeted individuals without status in Canada (preventing them from entry or preventing their citizenship),” said Ram Joubin.

“It does not address the security risk that such individuals pose either, due to their past association with the dictatorship in Iran and its various sub-branches,” said Joubin, a B.C. lawyer involved in the group Stop IRGC.

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

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St-Onge urges provinces to accelerate efforts to make sports safer for athletes

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Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge says ending abuse in sports will require complaints processes that include provincial-level athletes, not just national ones.

St-Onge and provincial sports ministers will meet during the Canada Games in mid-February where their agenda will include the ongoing effort to address widespread allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in sports.

She says she asked the provincial ministers at an August meeting to look at joining the new federal sport integrity process or creating their own.

The national sports integrity commissioner can only investigate allegations of abuse from athletes at the national level.

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But St-Onge says the vast majority of athletes aren’t in that category and only Quebec has its own sports integrity office capable of receiving and investigating complaints.

The national sport integrity office officially began its work last June and has since received 48 complaints from athletes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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Justice is a Privilege Reserved for the Few

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History is full of examples showing us that Justice is a privilege reserved for the few, the wealthy, politically and financially connected, in fact, those of the right colour or race depending on where and when this justice was to be dealt with. Justice must be earnt, and it expends a colossal cost. What do I mean?

When a justice system demands proof of your innocence, while viewing the accused as guilty until that proof surfaces, the system of justice seems to be blind to all but those with the ability to hire known lawyers and a defense team to point out any misunderstandings that arise. A Black Man with many priors stands before a judge, accused of violent crimes. Will such a man have the ability to raise money to get out of jail and hire a powerful legal team? If he is a financially well-off man perhaps, but if he is an “Average Joe”, the justice system swallows him up, incarcerating him while he waits for his trial, and possible conviction. While the justice system is supposed to be blind to financial, sexist, and racial coding, the statistics show White men often walk, and Black-Hispanic and men of color often do not. Don’t think so?

America’s Justice system has a huge penal population, well into the millions of citizens in public and private prisons across the land. According to Scientific America, 71% of those imprisoned are not white. So do you think these men and women got there because of their choices or did the system help to decide that while whites can be either excused, rehabilitated or found not endangering the greater society, “the others” are threats to the nation’s security and population?

White privilege is still prevalent within our system, with financial privilege a close second.

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The World was white, but now its really black(non-white)
Justice for all is never achieved, just verbatim.
What can justice do for the lowly man
while jails fill and are built anew continually?

When you are seen as an outsider always,
and the precious few escape societies’ hungry grasp.
Justice for all is the cry we all hear these days,
While the policeman stamps your future out at last.

Martin L says the Black Persons going to win this war,
and a war of attrition it truly has been.
Justice is a privileged and socially mobile thing,
leaving the many to pray to the spirit of Tyre Nichols,
asking what the hell can we do???

I walked through an airport recently with no problem and no questioning. Customs and border officers were busy getting into the face of many non-white travelers. To this very day, a non-white person flying anywhere with a long beard, and dressed like a Muslim could get you unwelcomed trouble. Being different will always create difficulties. Being out of your place in another financial-ethnic society will be a challenge. Race, financial and political privilege will forever be with us. The powerful will always be able to dance around the justice system’s rules and regulations. Why? Well, the justice system is an exclusive club, filled with lawyers and police. The administrators and enforcers of the system. Some other form of the judicial system is needed, with a firm root in community equality. Can our Justice System be truly blind to all influencers, but the laws of the land? Can victims of crime receive true justice, retribution in kind for the offenses carried out by criminals against them?

” In the final analysis, true justice is not a matter of courts and law books, but of a commitment in each of us to liberty and mutual respect”(Jimmy Carter). Mutual respect of all actors in the play known as the Justice System, influenced, manipulated, and written by lawyers and academics. God help us.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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By the numbers for British Columbia’s overdose crisis

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British Columbia’s chief coroner released overdose figures for 2022, showing 2,272 residents died from toxic drugs last year. Lisa Lapointe says drug toxicity remains the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C., and is second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost.

Here are some of the numbers connected to the overdose crisis:

189: Average number of deaths per month last year.

6.2: Average deaths per day.

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At least 11,171: Deaths attributed to drug toxicity since the public health emergency was declared in April 2016.

70: Percentage of the dead between 30 and 59 years old.

79: Percentage of those who died who were male.

65: Children and youth who have died in the last two years.

82: Percentage of the deaths where the toxic opioid fentanyl was involved.

73,000: People in B.C. who have been diagnosed with opioid use disorder.

8.8: The rate that First Nations women are dying, is a multiple of the general population’s rate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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