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Political gridlock looms for Ireland after Sinn Fein surge – National Post

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DUBLIN — Ireland began counting votes on Sunday in a national election that an exit poll indicated would show a historic breakthrough for left-wing nationalists Sinn Fein but leave a fractured political landscape with no clear path to a governing coalition.

In a major realignment, Sinn Fein support surged 50% to bring it into joint first place on 22% with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, the two center-right parties that have dominated Irish politics for a century, according to the poll released on Saturday evening after voting ended.

But Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army which has reinvented itself as the country’s main left-wing party, is likely to fall behind the other two because it fielded fewer candidates for parliament.

Early counting appeared to back up the exit poll findings.

“I think it’s the most extraordinary exit poll in the history of state and the most extraordinary election in the history of the state … because of the rise of Sinn Fein,” said Gary Murphy, Professor of Politics at Dublin City University.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael and rival Fianna Fail are likely to be left slugging it out for first place in terms of seats – before starting what is set to be a tortuous process of forming a government in the 160-seat parliament.

“I think it will be very tight, the parties (Fine Gael and Fianna Fail) are very close,” Fine Gael minister Richard Bruton told Reuters, adding that he saw “no flinching at all” in Fine Gael’s position of refusing to govern with Sinn Fein.

Counting under Ireland’s complex single transferable vote system began at 0900 GMT on Sunday with some results expected from early afternoon. The final and potentially decisive seats may not be filled until Monday or even later.

Sinn Fein has moved on from the long leadership of Gerry Adams, seen by many as the face of the IRA’s war against British rule in Northern Ireland – a conflict in which some 3,600 people were killed before a 1998 peace deal.

Early tallies showed new leader Mary Lou McDonald had more than twice the number of votes needed for election in her constituency. The pattern looks set to be replicated across the country but Sinn Fein will be disadvantaged by having only one candidate in most of the multi-seat contests.

Irish tricolor flags were flown at a Dublin count center as Sinn Fein supporters were led in a chorus of the Irish rebel song “Come Out Ye Black and Tans” by Dessie Ellis, an outgoing lawmaker who was jailed on possession of explosives in 1981.

COALITION CONUNDRUM

The exit poll result was an improvement for Varadkar’s Fine Gael, in power since 2011, after opinion polls a week ago showed it in third place.

But the party’s strategy of focusing on the fastest growing economy in the EU and success in negotiating a Brexit deal that avoided a hard border with Northern Ireland failed to capture the imagination of voters, who were far more focused on issues like health and housing, where Sinn Fein focused.

Just 1% of exit poll respondents said Britain’s exit from the EU was a factor in how they voted, Ipsos MRBI found.

Fianna Fail has ruled out going into coalition for the first time with Fine Gael and both parties say they will not govern with Sinn Fein, citing its IRA past and different economic policies, meaning there is no obvious government to be formed.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have said they will look to smaller parties to form what would likely be another minority government – requiring support of one of the two main parties from the opposition benches via a “confidence and supply deal.”

They will also likely want to avoid a second election where Sinn Fein could capitalize.

The two parties, which have swapped power at every election since emerging from the opposing sides of Ireland’s 1920s civil war, have similar policies on the economy and Brexit.

“The issue really is what kind of confidence and supply agreement could be put together and are we in a position where that’s a realistic option,” Bruton said.

(Editing by Frances Kerry and Ros Russell)

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Letter: History keeps some out of politics – Richmond News

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Dear Editor,

With Richmond’s Chinese residents making up over 50 per cent of the population, it’s disappointing, yet not surprising, there are no Chinese-Canadian candidates running for mayor in this year’s municipal election.

It would be a difficult task for any Chinese-Canadian to become part of the political elite. This has less to do with discrimination and more about our rich history of subservience in Western society. We lack a tradition of high profile political or corporate leaders to motivate our youth.

The first influx of Chinese migrants were predominantly poor, illiterate peasants fleeing famine, civil strife and brutal regimes. To survive these turbulent times one learned to stay silent, work hard and keep a low profile. Such qualities would also serve them well in a foreign and hostile land where these lessons were passed on to successive generations to the present.

Unfortunately these compliant attributes rarely ignite our passions, inspiring us to stand up and speak out. Over the years a few “embers” have flickered but were quickly doused.

From childhood, we are psychologically browbeaten into studying industriously and succeeding quietly while western culture heap praise on the loud and proud. Our over-emphasis on academics and status is a catch-22: Asian students graduate from top universities with some of the highest grades but many lack the interpersonal skills crucial for leadership roles.

Except for a few exceptional exceptions, we are content to be in the background, loyal employees toiling diligently to make their mainly “white male” bosses look good. Recall our rich history of subservience, many of us are more comfortable taking orders than giving them. 

In big business and politics, a magnetic personality is just as important as intelligence in leading a major organization or becoming mayor in a large city.

Perhaps a lack of charisma is one reason we find it so difficult to shatter that political glass ceiling, but we sure can polish it. 

Wes Fung

Richmond

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Bill Graham, a political rarity, was a beacon of civility in federal government – The Globe and Mail

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Former Minister of National Defence Bill Graham waits for the Prime Minister to call the federal cabinet meeting to order in Winnipeg on August 26, 2005.CHUCK STOODY/CP

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.

“He was a gentleman,” said Adrienne Clarkson, the former governor-general and close friend, “in a time when many people no longer understand the meaning of the word.”

He was also Canada’s foreign affairs and then defence minister in the critical early years of the century, contributing heavily to keeping Canada out of the war in Iraq and in the war in Afghanistan.

As interim leader of the Liberal Party in 2006, he held a fractious caucus together – at least most of the time – as a defeated party sought to regroup.

He was, above all, a beacon of civility in the bearpit of federal politics, which made him respected on both sides of the aisle.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard somebody speak ill of Bill,” said Scott Brison, who sat in opposition to him as a Progressive Conservative MP, and then with him as a Liberal in former prime minister Paul Martin’s cabinet. “And to be honest, I almost never heard Bill speak ill of anybody else.”

A son of privilege, he championed the rights of minorities. He owned a place in Corsica, but some of the strongest support in his inner-Toronto riding came from the poorest neighbourhoods.

He lived life large but with grace, and never too seriously, no matter how serious things became.

Or as Bob Rae, Canada’s permanent representative at the United Nations, put it, “he was just a wonderful guy.”

Mr. Graham died from cancer, Sunday, at the age of 83. He leaves his wife Catherine, daughter Katy and son Patrick.

He moved in all the right circles from birth, though family life could be tempestuous. (On the day of his stepfather’s funeral, he wrote in his memoir, his mother tearfully confessed that he had actually been his biological father.) He attended Upper Canada College and the University of Toronto’s Trinity College, U of T’s law school and the University of Paris.

It seemed perfectly natural, while he was at Trinity, to buy a Land Rover with a friend and attempt to drive it from Europe to India. (They made it as far as Afghanistan.) He also joined the naval reserves, becoming a sub-lieutenant. As defence minister, “whenever I boarded a ship, they would say, ‘the minister is one of ours, you know,’ ” he recalled years later.

He married Catherine Curry on June 9, 1962, and settled into a life of law at the Toronto firm of Fasken, quickly establishing a reputation in international trade law. In 1980, he joined the University of Toronto’s law faculty. He was highly popular with his students, but with two careers already under his belt, he decided in midlife that it was time to tackle politics.

He ran twice in the downtown Toronto riding of Rosedale (later Toronto Centre-Rosedale, then Toronto Centre), failing both times, but learning about its different communities, from the swells north of Bloor Street – his people – to the public housing projects to the gay village.

In the 1988 campaign, a young man came up to him and said: “I want to help you get elected, though I’m dying of AIDS, and don’t have a long time to live.” Mr. Graham became a passionate supporter of the LGBTQ community, defender of the same-sex marriage act of 2005 and supporter of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, known today as The ArQuives.

The support was financial, but he also showed up and pitched in as an organizer and volunteer. The queer experience in the generations before the LGBTQ rights movement “had not been documented by the community,” said Raegan Swanson, the archives’ executive director, “and here was a chance to make sure that history was preserved, essentially for the first time.”

In 1993, Mr. Graham took Rosedale as part of Jean Chrétien’s Liberal sweep of Ontario. Mr. Chrétien put him on the foreign-affairs committee, which he eventually chaired.

“He came in with a belief in the House of Commons,” said the writer and philosopher John Ralston Saul. (Catherine Graham introduced Mr. Saul to Ms. Clarkson in 1976; they were married in 1999.) A more ambitious politician might have seen committee work as, at best, a stepping stone to cabinet. “But he really loved the House,” said Mr. Saul. Mr. Graham often lamented the decline in the quality of debate in the Commons.

The committee produced major reports on the Arctic, nuclear disarmament and other issues. The historian and former MP John English said that Lloyd Axworthy, who was foreign minister at the time, told him, “Bill made that committee into something it never was before.”

In 2002, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Chrétien made Mr. Graham minister of foreign affairs. This surprised many observers, since Mr. Graham had been friends since university days with Paul Martin, who was challenging Mr. Chrétien for the Liberal leadership.

But he was a loyal and effective minister, supporting Mr. Chrétien in his decision not to involve Canada in the American-led war in Iraq. Mr. Graham did not believe the evidence supported American arguments that the Saddam Hussein regime possessed weapons of mass destruction.

But Mr. Graham was also a political realist. As he wrote in his memoir, both he and Mr. Chrétien well knew that “most of the country, most of the cabinet, most of the Liberal caucus, most of the Commons, and a vast majority in the politically key provinces of Quebec and British Columbia were against sending Canadian troops into Iraq.”

Mr. Graham was a political rarity in that he served in the cabinets of both Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin. Though he wrote that he was disappointed when, in 2004, Mr. Martin shuffled him into defence, he served the department well.

Mr. Graham successfully pitched to have General Rick Hillier made chief of the defence staff, supported the military’s push for a greater combat role in Afghanistan, and persuaded Mr. Martin and Finance Minister Ralph Goodale to increase defence spending.

For Mr. Graham, the Afghanistan mission differed from Iraq in that it had greater international legitimacy. But in hindsight, he had regrets.

“We knew much less about Afghanistan and the politics of the region than we should have,” he wrote. “… It was unrealistic of us to expect that we could construct a truly effective government and civil society in the midst of the ongoing carnage.”

When Mr. Martin stepped down after Stephen Harper’s Conservative victory in January, 2006, caucus voted to make Mr. Graham interim leader. He successfully persuaded Liberal MPs to support a Conservative resolution recognizing the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada – opposing the resolution would mean the death of the Liberal Party in Quebec, he argued. But he could not bring the caucus with him when the Harper government sought parliamentary support to extend the mission in Afghanistan.

“You don’t understand anything about politics, Bill,” one MP told him. Maybe not, Mr. Graham replied, but “I do understand one thing: if we vote against this motion, Canadians are going to look at us and wonder what kind of chumps would flip-flop on such an important issue, involving the lives of our troops, just because we don’t happen to be sitting in the same seats as we were a few months ago.”

Nonetheless, a majority of caucus opposed the motion, which barely scraped through with the help of Mr. Graham and a rump of Liberal MPs, revealing the depths of divisions within the party in the wake of its defeat.

His friend and cabinet colleague Carolyn Bennett said Mr. Graham’s approach during policy debates was to talk quietly and to genuinely listen to people’s concerns.

“He used his knowledge and his leadership to be persuasive in a way that was kind and gentle,” she said. “I think Bill taught us all how you can be persuasive on progressive matters. … He made politics slightly less of a swear word.”

When Mr. Rae, who had been Ontario’s NDP premier, was looking for a riding to run in as a Liberal, Mr. Graham offered him his. He had decided it was time to step down and let a new crew take charge. Mr. Rae would himself one day serve as interim leader.

After his retirement from politics, Mr. Graham returned to Trinity College, this time as chancellor. He served on various boards, councils and commissions. He endowed the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History (Mr. English was its first director), which promotes the study of contemporary events from a historical perspective.

When the Liberals returned to power under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he served as an adviser for the defence review that was published as Strong, Secure, Engaged. His memoir, which appeared in 2016, received praise for its candour, especially in his writings on Iraq and Afghanistan.

But it was his personal qualities that set Bill Graham apart as a politician. He was respected and admired by all sides, in part because he never let politics become personal.

Chris Tindal tweeted about the time in 2006, when he was running as the Green candidate in Toronto Centre. “One morning, I was canvassing at a subway stop when he pulled up. ‘You were here first,’ he said. ‘We’ll go somewhere else.’ But he stayed and chatted with me for a while. Whenever people recognized him, he redirected. “This is Chris, the Green Party candidate! Good guy!”

The Twittersphere was full of such stories this week, as friends and political opponents praised Mr. Graham’s courtesy, friendliness, lack of pretension, grace.

“Even while a determined opponent, Bill was always a gentleman, and he always kept the best interests of the country in mind,” tweeted Mr. Harper.

“He represented a certain tradition in Canadian political life,” said Mr. English. “It is the passing of a generation, and he was an exceptional representative of that generation.”

Scott Brison just misses his friend. “He was one of the kindest, smartest, wisest, funniest and best people I’ve known. And he embodied public service at its best.”

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Taiwan blames politics for cancellation of global Pride event – CNN

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(Reuters)Taiwan on Friday blamed “political considerations” for the cancellation of WorldPride 2025 Taiwan after it said the organizers had insisted the word “Taiwan” be removed.

Taiwan participates in global organizations like the Olympics as “Chinese Taipei,” to avoid political problems with China, which views the self-governing democratic island as its own territory and bristles at anything that suggests it is a separate country.
Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung had been due to host WorldPride 2025 Taiwan, after winning the right from global LGBTQ rights group InterPride.
Last year after an outcry in Taiwan, it dropped a reference to the island as a “region.”
But the Kaohsiung organizers said InterPride had recently “suddenly” asked them to change the name of the event to “Kaohsiung,” removing the word “Taiwan.”
“After careful evaluation, it is believed that if the event continues, it may harm the interests of Taiwan and the Taiwan gay community. Therefore, it is decided to terminate the project before signing the contract,” said the Kaohsiung organizers.
InterPride said in a statement they were “surprised to learn” the news and while they were disappointed, respected the decision.
“We were confident a compromise could have been reached with respect to the long-standing WorldPride tradition of using the host city name. We suggested using the name ‘WorldPride Kaohsiung, Taiwan’,” it added.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the event would have been the first WorldPride event to be held in East Asia.
“Taiwan deeply regrets that InterPride, due to political considerations, has unilaterally rejected the mutually agreed upon consensus and broken a relationship of cooperation and trust, leading to this outcome,” it said.
“Not only does the decision disrespect Taiwan’s rights and diligent efforts, it also harms Asia’s vast LGBTIQ+ community and runs counter to the progressive principles espoused by InterPride.”
Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, in a first for Asia, and is proud of its reputation as a bastion of LGBTQ rights and liberalism.
While same-sex relations are not illegal in China, same-sex marriage is, and the government has been cracking down depictions of LGBTQ people in the media and of the community’s use of social media.

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