One day after two top UCP cabinet ministers announced they would not seek re-election in May there were still few answers to be had.
Pierre Poilievre has won the fundraising race among candidates seeking to become the next federal Conservative leader.
The Ottawa-area MP raised about $4-million, according to second-quarter figures released Tuesday by Elections Canada. Former Quebec premier Jean Charest ranked second among candidates with about $1.3-million.
There are three other candidates in the race: Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison and Leslyn Lewis, as well as Roman Baber, a former Progressive Conservative member of the Ontario legislature.
Three of the five candidates are participating in a party-sanctioned debate in Ottawa on Wednesday. Mr. Poilievre and Ms. Lewis are skipping the debate to focus on getting out their vote and engaging with party members. The Conservatives are to announce the winner of the leadership race on Sept. 10.
Overall, the Elections Canada figures indicate that the Conservatives raised over $4.4-million from about 36,000 donors between April 1 and June 30. Meanwhile, the Liberals raised nearly $2.8 million from almost 28,000 donors and New Democrats received almost $1.2 million in contributions from nearly 16,000 people.
The federal Greens raised almost $438,000 from about 5,200 Canadians while over 1,600 people donated about $248,00 to the Bloc Quebecois.
The People’s Party of Canada, which does not hold any seats in Parliament, raised just under $200,000 from about 4,000 donors.
All parties, except for the Greens, received less money from donations in the second quarter than in the first three months of the year.
With a file from The Canadian Press.
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WOMAN CENTRAL TO HOCKEY CANADA SCANDAL SPEAKS OUT – E.M., the woman who filed a lawsuit against Hockey Canada over an alleged group sexual assault by some members of Canada’s world junior hockey team in 2018, says that she has felt “vulnerable and exposed” since news of her allegations became public two months ago. Story here.
MORE ACTION NEEDED TO COMBAT HATE: RACE-RELATIONS FOUNDATION – The head of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation is calling for action to combat hate and more federal help for victims, as new statistics show that hate crimes in Canada rose by 27 per cent last year. Story here.
QUESTIONS RAISED OVER CANADA ABANDONING UKRAINIAN EMBASSY – Before pulling Canadian diplomats out of Ukraine weeks ahead of the Russian invasion, Global Affairs Canada received intelligence confirming Ukrainians who worked for the Canadian embassy were likely on lists of people Moscow intended to hunt down as Russia waged war against its neighbour. However, Ottawa told Canadian embassy leaders in Kyiv to withhold this information from those Ukrainian staff members and leave them behind. Story here.
CHANCELLOR PRAISES TRUDEAU FOR TURBINE APPROACH – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the Kremlin’s bluff by allowing Russian pipeline turbines repaired in Canada to be sent back to Moscow’s state-controlled Gazprom, arguing that this move eliminated a pretext for Vladimir Putin to reduce or stop deliveries of natural gas to Europe. Story here.
PARLIAMENTARY SECURITY NEEDS TO ADDRESS RACISM: EX MP – A former MP who says she was recently racially profiled by parliamentary security is calling on the service to address racism within its ranks. Story here.
ALBERTA MLA TAKES ON RAMPAGING BULL – For Alberta MLA Leela Aheer, jumping in to save a trampled rodeo-goer from a rampaging bull on Saturday came down to maternal instincts. Story here from CBC.
CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is in Ottawa, as is Roman Baber. Jean Charest is in Montreal. Leslyn Lewis is in her Haldimand-Norfolk riding and the Greater Toronto Area. Pierre Poilievre is in Saskatchewan, in North Battleford, Prince Albert and Saskatoon.
THIS AND THAT
The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.
STEWART NAMED CLIMATE-CHANGE AMBASSADOR – Catherine Stewart, an assistant deputy environment minister, has been appointed Canada’s new ambassador of climate change, according to an announcement from Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault. Ms. Stewart will advise both the environment minister and foreign-affairs minister on how Canada can best advance its climate change priorities on the world stage. Appointees hold the post for a three-year term.
BLANCHFIELD EXITS CP – Canadian Press International Affairs Writer Mike Blanchfield has announced his exit from the news service. On Friday, the Ottawa-based Mr. Blanchfield tweeted he was bidding a “fond farewell” to CP. “I’ve treasured the great ride with so many fine, memorable travelers in this essential craft,” he wrote. “”Excited about the days and years ahead.” Mr. Blanchfield was the co author, with Fen Hampson, of the 2021 book The Two Michaels: Innocent Canadian Captives and High Stakes Espionage in the US-Canada Cyber War.
WILSON-RAYBOULD RECEIVES ORDER OF B.C. – Former federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is among the recipients of the Order of B.C. this year. Check here.
JOLY MEETS WITH GERMAN FOREIGN-AFFAIRS MINISTER – Foreign Affairs Minister Joly is meeting with Germany’s Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock, during the German minister’s Tuesday and Wednesday visit to Montreal. It’s the minister’s first official trip to Canada.
BOISSONNAULT IN EDMONTON – Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, in Edmonton, made an announcement on behalf of Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
FRASER IN PICTOU – Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, in Pictou, Nova Scotia, made an announcement with Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, and Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan.
MENDICINO IN SUDBURY – Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, in Sudbury, made an announcement regarding federal support for organizations on the front lines of the fight against gun and gang violence in Greater Sudbury. Also present: Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger.
Amidst soaring rents, scammers are swooping in to target victims. Globe reporter Patrick Egwu, who almost fell victim to a rental scam himself, tells us how these scams work and what to look out for when looking for a place. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
“Personal” time in Costa Rica. Story here.
No schedules released for party leaders.
SENATOR ENGINEERS POLL ON VIRTUAL WORK BY MPS, SENATORS – 56 per cent of respondents to a poll say members of parliament and senators should continue to have a choice between travelling to Ottawa for their meetings or attending meetings online, according to the survey commissioned by senator Donna Dasko. The senator said in a statement that the poll by Nanos Research also found 39 per cent of respondents think parliamentarians should go back to travelling to Ottawa for meetings after the pandemic. The poll was based on a national sample of 1,002 Canadians surveyed from June 30 to July. 4. Senator Dasko, the former senior vice president of the Environics polling firm, was nominated to the senate by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2018.
André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on how COVID-19 remains a health threat: “COVID-19 infections have grown exponentially thanks to the coronavirus mutating and becoming far more infectious. At the same time, thanks to a combination of widespread vaccination, infection and reinfection, people are not getting as sick. Proportionally, there are far fewer hospitalizations and deaths. Yet, there are still more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients in Canada’s beleaguered hospitals, including almost 300 in intensive care. And, even if the death rate remains where it is today (about 40 pandemic fatalities daily), and doesn’t rise in the fall as expected, there will be significantly more COVID deaths in 2022 than in the previous two years.”
Irwin Cotler (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how the Chinese government’s continued assault on Canadian freedoms requires action: “Taking meaningful action to address this repression by Xi Jinping’s China is important. By doing so, Canada can send a signal of hope to all victims, including our unlawfully detained citizens. No one should be targeted for who they are, for what they believe, or for what their citizenship represents. Canada should continue to pursue justice, to combat injustice, and to be a source of hope and inspiration in the darkest moments of this fight.”
Tracey Tremayne-Lloyd (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how nurse practitioners could relieve Canada’s doctor shortage but funding models are causing roadblocks: “I believe that nurse practitioners are key to relieving our strained health system. These advanced-practice nurses have two additional years of schooling, allowing them to assess, diagnose, prescribe and manage patients in primary health care settings. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 6,661 NPs were licensed to practice in Canada in 2020, with about 35 per cent working in hospitals, and 36 per cent working in community settings. Across Canada, many NPs are looking to contribute to the delivery of primary care on a greater scale, but compensation models have created stumbling blocks that get in the way of expanding the availability of nurse practitioner-led primary care.”
Matt Gurney (TVO) on what Ontario can learn from Germany’s bleak energy situation: “John’s article wasn’t about Germany or Russia or even natural gas, really. It was about the future of the Pickering nuclear-power station, which is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2025. It’s an old plant, and if we were to keep it running, it would need many billions of dollars in upgrades and refurbishing. We could find the money. What would probably be harder to find: the political capital. Local, provincial, and federal officials would all need to agree. And they would have to agree quickly. As John notes in the article, it’s possible we’re already past the point of no return. This is relevant to the German example because Germany has persisted in retiring a series of nuclear plants even as this energy crisis looms. Here at home, nuclear power is a large, reliable, and carbon-free element of Ontario’s electrical mix.”
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Toronto-area MP Han Dong is at the centre of a political firestorm following a Global News report that he allegedly spoke with a Chinese diplomat in 2021, advising Beijing to delay freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, according to two intelligence sources.
While Dong acknowledged he had the conversation with China’s consul-general in Toronto, Han Tao, he strongly denied the allegations that he told Beijing to hold off the release of the two Canadians.
He has subsequently resigned from the Liberal caucus, giving an emotional speech Wednesday night in the House of Commons.
“What has been reported is false, and I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims,” said Dong, who will now sit as an Independent.
“Let me assure members that, as a parliamentarian and as a person, I have never advocated, and I will never and would never advocate or support the violation of the basic human rights of any Canadian or of anyone, anywhere, period.”
Han Dong leaving Liberal caucus, will sit as an Independent
Global News previously reported last month that Dong is one of at least 11 Toronto-area riding candidates who was allegedly supported by Beijing in the 2019 federal election, according to national security sources.
The sources spoke to Global News on the condition of anonymity, which they requested because they risk prosecution under the Security of Information Act.
Dong has denied the allegations.
In an effort to glean more about the Don Valley North MP’s positions on issues regarding China, Global News has compiled a review of his votes and statements inside and out of the House of Commons:
Trudeau says foreign interference ‘very real challenge,’ urges people to watch Han Dong’s speech
Kovrig and Spavor spent more than 1,000 days in prison in China in what was believed to be in retaliation for Canada’s 2018 detention of Meng Wanzhou. The Huawei senior executive was arrested in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition warrant over fraud charges related to U.S. sanctions violations against Iran.
While two national security sources told Global News that Dong urged Chinese Consul General Han Tao to delay freeing the Michaels, Dong pushed back strongly against the allegations in a response to Global News.
“I raised the status of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and called for their immediate release,” he wrote.
“At every opportunity before they returned home, I adamantly demanded their release to Canada without delay. Any suggestions otherwise are false and are attempts to mislead you and your readers, and slander me.”
More on Politics
Global News reviewed all statements made by Dong in Parliament since he was elected in 2019 and found no remarks related to the Two Michaels or calls for their freedom prior to March 2023.
Dong did not respond to questions about where he’s previously made such statements.
Liberals ignored CSIS warning on 2019 candidate accused in Chinese interference probe, sources say
The Globe and Mail reported Thursday that the Trudeau government determined there was no “actionable evidence” after it received a CSIS transcript of a 2021 conversation between Dong and China’s top diplomat in Toronto.
According to The Globe, a senior government source indicated that conclusions could not be drawn that Dong asked Beijing to keep the two Canadians in prison for political reasons.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked Friday by reporters about whether he believed Dong advocated for delaying the Michaels’ freedom.
The prime minister did not directly answer that question despite his office’s review of the conversation’s transcript.
“Dong gave a strong speech in the House that I recommend people listen to. We fully accept that he is stepping away from the Liberal caucus in order to vigorously contest these allegations,” the prime minister said.
Trudeau added that meddling by China, Russia or Iran “is a very real challenge to our democracy and is absolutely unacceptable.”
Liberal MP Han Dong says he won’t ask PMO to verify allegations of Chinese election interference
Shortly after resigning from the Liberal caucus, Dong voted Thursday for an inquiry into foreign election interference.
The Trudeau government has been under intense pressure for perceived inaction after reports of China’s alleged meddling in Canadian elections.
Dong voted with the Conservative Party, Bloc Québécois and New Democrats to help pass the motion with 172 votes in favour and 149 against, largely comprised of Liberal MPs.
Since 2019, there have been three votes on Canada-China relations. One was to review “the Canada–China relationship,” the second a call to combat growing Chinese foreign operations in Canada, and third recognizing that authoritarian regimes like China “increasingly pose a threat to the rules-based international order.”
Dong voted with the entire or vast majority of the Liberal caucus against the three motions.
MPs votes to declare China’s Uyghurs persecution as genocide
On Feb. 1, a Liberal motion was brought forward condemning China’s human rights abuses of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang and called on the government to bring 10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims to Canada.
Uyghurs in other countries, the motion said, are pressured to return to China, where they face “forced sterilization, forced labour, torture and other atrocities.”
Dong voted before and after the Uyghur genocide motion but missed the show of hands on the Uyghurs, which passed with the unanimous consent of all 322 MPs present. His absence was first reported by the National Post.
The Toronto MP did not respond to questions from Global News about his non-attendence and referred Global to his statement before the House of Commons.
“Members skip their votes, abstain their votes all the time, and I wasn’t the only one that skipped the vote,” he told reporters Tuesday.
In February 2021, there was a House vote to declare that China’s treatment of the Uyghurs constituted genocide.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained, but MPs were free to vote. Dong skipped that motion, which passed unanimously.
Liberals insist Trudeau government worked “tirelessly” to bring home 2 Michaels
Amid a flurry of questions from reporters about the stunning allegations against him, Dong said that in 2020 he had called for a motion to study “election interference.”
In November 2020, Dong did call for a study on “ways to further protect Canada’s democratic and electoral institutions from cyber and non-cyber interference.”
The study, he said at the time, should include “how new domestic and international stakeholders, as well as other orders of government, can work together to strengthen Canada’s whole-of-society preparedness, resilience and civic engagement in the face of evolving threats to democracy.”
In 2021, a Conservative motion sponsored by MP Michael Chong requested that the Public Health Agency turn over unredacted documents related to the shipment of viruses sent from Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory to Wuhan, China in 2019, and the subsequent firing of two scientists from the Winnipeg facility.
Dong voted with the nearly entire Liberal caucus against the motion, which nonetheless passed in Parliament.
Speaking to reporters outside the House of Commons earlier this week, Dong said he had voted in favour of motions considered hostile to Beijing’s interests.
“I voted to condemn China when they sanctioned one of our vice chairs of a standing committee,” he said. “I voted to include Taiwan in the WHO. In 2020, I moved a motion in [an] ethics committee to study election interference, domestic and international.”
Liberal MP Han Dong secretly advised Chinese diplomat in 2021 to delay freeing Two Michaels: sources
China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and views any overture of support as meddling in its internal affairs.
In October 2022, Dong indeed joined 323 MPs in voting for the politically sensitive country to become a WHO member. And in June 2021, Dong joined all 327 MPs in favour of unanimously passing a Parliamentary committee motion to condemn Chinese sanctions levied against Conservative MP Michael Chong.
In February, Dong publicly supported the Liberal government’s move to expand the open-work permit program for Hong Kong residents.
The former British colony, which reverted to Beijing’s control in 1997, has seen a massive wave of emigration following anti-government demonstrations four years ago. The protests were sparked by a bill that would have allowed people to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China.
“[This] announcement will ensure that Hong Kong residents who share Canada’s values of freedom and democracy will continue to be able to seek opportunities to settle and succeed in Canada,” Dong said in a press release at the time.
One day after two top UCP cabinet ministers announced they would not seek re-election in May there were still few answers to be had.
On Friday afternoon, both Finance Minister Travis Toews and Environment Minister Sonya Savage announced they were opting to spend more time with family instead of running again in the next provincial election.
Premier Danielle Smith on her Saturday radio show on QR770 noted Toews’ ability to manage through the pandemic and deliver two consecutive balanced budgets. She called Savage her “point person in dealing with Ottawa.”
“I’m grateful to both of them,” said the premier. “I’m looking forward to finding out how we might be able to continue to use their incredible talents post-election in an advisory role, because I think that they’ve done so much for our province and I want to continue to see them have an opportunity to contribute.”
Smith, in a press release on Friday, said she will appoint replacement UCP candidates for Toews’ riding in Grande Prairie-Wapiti as well as for Savage in Calgary-North West.
The two are the latest cabinet ministers who have withdrawn from the coming spring election. They join former Jobs, Innovation and Economy Minister Doug Schweitzer, who stepped down before the UCP leadership race last summer, and Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Rajan Sawhney and party whip Brad Rutherford who have withdrawn since Smith took office in October.
Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt said it is not uncommon to have a 25 per cent turnover in MLAs. What is different is to have so many cabinet ministers — especially single-term politicians — decide not to run again.
Adding to the intrigue is both were at one point prepared to run again. Toews was the first runner-up to Smith in the leadership race, while Savage had already secured the nomination for her riding.
He called the reasoning to spend more time with family a mere cliché but said it is difficult to know their full reasons for not running again.
He also does not expect this to be the end of the withdrawal of cabinet ministers, pointing to the potential of two more members of former premier Jason Kenney’s inner circle — Health Minister Jason Copping and Justice Minister Tyler Shandro — stepping away before May.
“You wonder how united the party is as Smith was able to rally them,” said Bratt.
Smith said Toews promised to stay on to at least deliver his fifth budget, which he did on Feb. 28. The implementation bill was passed on Thursday and he then informed the premier he was not going to run again.
Bratt said the deal could potentially have been that Toews was to stay on to get the budget passed before stepping away all along, while Savage was just “hedging her bets and keeping her options open” until the legislative session was over.
“I don’t know how you could ignore the shift in leader and the role that that plays,” he said.
Melanee Thomas, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, said it is curious what changed for the finance minister. If he didn’t share the premier’s vision, he likely would not have been given the power to put the budget together.
The question is, how this will play out come election time, especially with Calgary considered to be a key battleground with both the UCP and the NDP needing to win the city to win the election.
While Calgary-North West has been a long-time conservative stronghold, Thomas said Savage stepping down could mean the riding is up for grabs.
“The NDP vote is inefficient in Edmonton. The UCP is inefficient in rural areas, which means that it comes down to who wins all the seats in Calgary,” she said.
Bratt said the fact two more high-profile ministers have decided not to run again, regardless of the publicly stated reasons, will play on the minds of the undecided electorate when it comes to the UCP leader.
“You know, people do have questions and wonder, ‘if I have doubts about Smith, well, maybe Toews and Savage and Schweitzer and Sawhney have doubts about her as well,’” he said.
Sanctions have become all the rage in international politics. The United States and its allies are imposing them on rivals with increasing frequency and severity. And those rivals are reciprocating where they can.
Now, American states, too, are increasingly getting in on the act. And that’s bad news — for the world, and for US foreign policy. A much-publicised episode of a Chinese balloon entering US airspace seems to have created new energy for such restrictions and has led to legislation being proposed in at least 11 states.
On Wednesday, the South Carolina State Senate passed a bill barring ownership of land in the state by citizens of US geopolitical adversaries Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and Cuba. The bill’s top sponsor even compared a planned purchase of South Carolina land by a Chinese biomedical firm with the Trojan Horse plot of Greek mythology.
Meanwhile, Texas State Senator Lois Kolkhorst has proposed a similar law that has drawn strong condemnation on human rights grounds but has been defended by Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican governor. A simple reading of the original version of this bill would lead one to conclude that any individual who holds citizenship from any of the mentioned countries, or any firms which they own, would be barred from owning property. This would have included American citizens who hold dual citizenship. Since then, the language has been softened to protect dual citizens and permanent residents but not citizens of those countries residing in Texas on a visa.
Implementation of such language would impose new and unusual due diligence requirements on common land transactions. Meanwhile, creating special restrictions on various immigrant communities to own property poses human rights concerns.
Existing sanctions laws and Treasury Department designations already block leaders from those American adversaries from transferring money into the US or owning property in the country. Meanwhile, recently introduced federal legislation aims to ban US adversaries from purchasing large swaths of farmland in the US.
So why would a state engage in what is essentially a foreign policy and national security matter?
On the one hand, some scholars see sanctions as often being a product of domestic politics, aimed at portraying muscle to the electorate, at times influenced by pressure groups such as “ethnic lobbies”. Those in this camp of scholars are more inclined to believe that sanctions are not particularly effective. If sanctions are for the satisfaction of domestic onlookers, they will not be designed and implemented with an eye towards efficacy and the security context.
Other scholars, however, argue that sanctions are indeed imposed due to a meaningful effort to address national security concerns.
Like many in the national security decision-making scholarship community, I feel both of these binary constructions frequently fail when confronted with the history of economic sanctions. The truth is that foreign policy choices are a product of complex national security matrices that accommodate both foreign policy and domestic political considerations.
Yet irrespective of one’s overall view on the efficacy of sanctions more broadly, it is hard for anyone to deny that policies against foreign nationals adopted by state governments can have little explanation other than domestic and even local politics.
In the US, the executive branch has always been best suited to make foreign policy decisions due to its clear mandate and wherewithal in this field. Congress has a constitutional role in foreign policy matters but it’s far more likely to be influenced by domestic political pressures and national anxieties.
The executive branch largely controlled sanctions policy throughout the Cold War era. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, as major threats to the homeland faded, Congressional and sub-federal forces became increasingly involved in this field.
While Congress has largely ceded its war power authority in the modern era, it has become more active in sanctioning due to an impulse of members to be seen as projecting power against American adversaries even when it interferes with the president’s efforts to engage in strategic policy.
What about state legislators and governors? They have no real national security staff nor the relevant mandate, as their elections almost always lack any meaningful foreign policy discussion and are decided based on provincial issues, whether taxes or abortion rights.
Yet their meddling in foreign policy isn’t superfluous — it can actually be reckless, for global diplomacy and for US foreign policy. Here’s how.
As written, the mentioned measures are unlikely to meaningfully interfere with the federal government’s ability to carry out its foreign policy. But one can imagine a scenario in which sanctions imposed by states do just that.
New York state and California preside over major nodes of the global banking community and the international technology supply chain. Texas itself is a major player in global energy markets. Other states can wield a more narrow version of such powers as well.
There are already examples of when New York State has targeted European firms for their perceived violation of sanctions, ignoring objections at the federal level. States can, as the federal government has often done, impose restrictions on firms operating in their jurisdiction in a way that has extraterritorial consequences.
This in turn sets up a precarious dynamic. The federal government might have to mollify or negotiate with state governments led by ambitious politicians responding to special interests or catering to local constituencies.
Equally, state governments of the party in opposition can actively undercut diplomatic efforts of the federal government using such sanctions. For example, a federal effort to ease sanctions on Cuba could create political momentum for state sanctions in Florida, where families of those who fled communist rule are a powerful lobby.
Ultimately, sanctions are a tool of foreign policy and the capacity to modulate or even repeal them is critical to accomplishing the political goals behind sanctions campaigns. For the president or Congress to have to lobby with state governments, each representing a fraction of the overall population, to alter America’s sanctions against a country would represent a bizarre new obstacle to the federal government’s ability to carry out its foreign policy obligations.
The proposed Texas and South Carolina laws are textbook examples of sanctions as political grandstanding meant for domestic consumption. They are also a reminder of the jingoistic zeal that can be nurtured and exploited by foreign policy amateurs at the state level.
As we embark upon what scholar Peter A G van Bergeijk calls the “second wave” of global sanctions, states will likely look further to getting in on the act with human rights and global affairs.
Washington’s basic ability to carry out a coherent foreign policy hangs in the balance.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.
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