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Politics Briefing: Trudeau nominates Michelle O'Bonsawin as first Indigenous Supreme Court justice – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Ontario judge Michelle O’Bonsawin has been nominated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Pending a non-binding committee review, the fluently bilingual Franco-Ontarian will become Canada’s first Indigenous Supreme Court justice. She was born in Hanmer, Ont., near Sudbury, and is an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation.

The nomination fills the vacancy created by the coming retirement of Justice Michael Moldaver.

As part of the announcement, the government released the text of a questionnaire that Justice O’Bonsawin filled out as a candidate for the position.

The form lists her extensive academic and legal qualifications – including as a judge with the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. It also includes comments in her own words outlining her areas of legal expertise and some of her most challenging cases. She also writes about her experience growing up as a young First Nations person off reserve.

“My childhood was not a privileged one,” she writes. “In addition to having a First Nations father, ours was a working-class household. It was expected that I would contribute in real, financial terms and that no work was not worthwhile. As such, I did whatever jobs were available to me – babysitting, retail and service. These early experiences taught me many things, such as the importance of hard work, but they also permitted me to see the need of others and learn how to see and appreciate the interests and importance of all.”

In another section describing the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy, Justice O’Bonsawin said a judge must continuously interpret the Constitution as “a living and breathing document” and should also remain politically neutral.

A story on the appointment can be found here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Bill Curry, who is filling in for Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TRUDEAU SPEAKS

The Prime Minister held his first news conference since returning from a vacation in Costa Rica. He was in Quebec’s Îles-de-la-Madeleine region, where he announced $40-million over four years to rebuild a fishermen’s wharf.

He then took a range of questions. Ahead of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Canada, Mr. Trudeau cautioned that there is not much Canada can do to help Europe get through the coming winter when it comes to dramatically increasing short-term energy exports. He said Canada’s focus is on the longer-term transition away from fossil fuels.

He was also asked about this week’s census data, which reported a decline in French speakers in Quebec and elsewhere across the country.

“One of the things that we have to recognize is the numbers that recently came out to show significant decline in French across the country are troubling, are extremely worrisome, but are not entirely a surprise because we could see this coming over the past number of years,” he said. Mr. Trudeau said that’s why his government has proposed legislation to update Canada’s official languages legislation.

Mr. Trudeau was also asked to comment on a potential trip to Taiwan by Canadian MPs and senators.

“We will ensure that the parliamentarians making the decision to travel or not will be done with all the reflections of the consequences and the impacts of it,” he said.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

REACTION TO LISA LAFLAMME’S DISMISSAL PROMPTS CTV NEWSROOM REVIEW BY BELL MEDIA – Bell Media will be conducting an independent review of its newsroom, after a town-hall meeting where employees pushed executives to explain why top anchor Lisa LaFlamme was dismissed and raised issues of morale within the newsroom.

The company announced the move Friday in a press release from Bell Media president Wade Oosterman and Karine Moses, the company’s senior vice-president of content development and news. It referred to a “difficult and high-profile change in recent days.” Globe story here.

BELL MEDIA EXECUTIVE WON’T SPECIFY TO STAFF WHY LISA LAFLAMME WAS LET GO – A Bell Media executive refused to give specific reasons for the ouster of CTV National News top anchor Lisa LaFlamme, but told a staff meeting on Thursday that it had been a mistake to announce the newscast’s new anchor the same day Ms. LaFlamme informed the public of her unexpected removal. Globe story here.

OTTAWA TO PROBE ‘DISTURBING’ TWEETS BY CONSULTANT ON GOVERNMENT-FUNDED ANTI-RACISM PROJECT – The federal diversity minister says he’s taking action over “disturbing” tweets by a senior consultant on an anti-racism project that received $133,000 from his department. The Canadian Press story here.

Ahmed Hussen has asked Canadian Heritage to “look closely at the situation” after what he called “unacceptable behaviour” by Laith Marouf, a senior consultant involved in the government-funded project to combat racism in broadcasting.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister held a news conference in Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Que. His schedule also includes a visit to a microbrewery and a local bakery.

OPINION

Former senator Hugh Segal (Special to The Globe and Mail) said the disruptions caused by the pandemic warrant a royal commission so that governments can learn from the experience and understand what now needs to change: “A royal commission examining what we have learned from the pandemic, and what those lessons should mean for the organization and priorities of all governments going forward, would not only galvanize positive analysis and objective research – it would also provide open national hearings to allow the many different and strongly held views on the best way forward to be heard, on the record.

Pausing to reflect, in an open and focused way, would not be a sign of weakness. It would be a sign of common cause, national self-confidence and openness to new ideas and different paths.”

Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) writes that the Trudeau government appears to be assisting Quebecor burnish its image as the telecom industry’s golden child: “Although the nitty-gritty of the deal has yet to be made public, it looks like Quebecor is poised to purchase Freedom on the cheap. … It’s apparent the proposed Freedom sale is the culmination of Ottawa’s efforts to champion Quebecor. But it remains to be seen if ordinary Canadians will reap the benefits of this manoeuvring by Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne and his colleagues at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) says current inflation might be easier to tame than inflations past: “The question, then, is: Is this the early 1980s all over again? Or is it more like 1945? Will people take the last year or so of surging inflation as the new normal, and bake higher inflation into their expectations? Or will they see it in the context of the preceding 30 straight years of low and stable inflation – as the exception, born of exceptional circumstances, rather than the rule? Will they conclude that, in the long run at least, inflation is indeed transitory? So far, the evidence is mixed.”

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Quebec election: Party leaders begin final weekend of the campaign

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MONTREAL — As the Quebec election campaign enters its final weekend the main party leaders are fanning out across the province.

Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault is to have breakfast with supporters in Chibougamau and then travel around 600 kilometres south to Mont-Laurier in the province’s Laurentians, where he will meet with supporters in the evening.

Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade will be campaigning in three ridings where her party is polling in third place.

Today, she’s headed to the Gaspé Peninsula and will also visit the Îles-de-la-Madeleine — which her party lost by 15 votes in 2018. A trip to Kuujjuaq, the largest village in Quebec’s northern Nunavik region, is scheduled for tomorrow.

Québec solidaire spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois will be in Montreal and plans to campaign in three ridings that were won by the Liberals in the last election, including Anglade’s riding of St-Henri—Ste-Anne.

Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is to make several stops today from Quebec City to Longueuil, while on Sunday his campaign will fly to multiple parts of the province.

Conservative Leader Éric Duhaime plans to start the day going door to door in Quebec City before heading to a rally in Pointe-Claire, a largely English-speaking Montreal suburb.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Spanish Pabloites hail Podemos' gender politics as it wages NATO war on Russia – WSWS

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On Saturday, a leader of the Pabloite Anticapitalistas tendency that helped found Podemos in 2014, Teresa Rodríguez, was invited to publish a column in Spain’s leading social-democratic daily, El País.

Teresa Rodríguez speaking at the launch of Podemos in January 2014 [Photo by https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtK7s89RJ9X9Nv9EQCMu9Lg / CC BY-SA 3.0]

As Rodríguez’s piece was published, the NATO countries were waging their ongoing war on Russia in Ukraine that threatens to escalate into all-out nuclear war. Prices of food, energy and other essentials are exploding, devastating workers’ living standards, and COVID-19 is killing tens of thousands and debilitating millions each month. Though humanity is teetering on the verge of economic collapse and nuclear conflagration, Rodríguez had nothing to say on these issues.

Instead, she penned a piece titled “Je suis Irene Montero,” [“I am Irene Montero”], referring to Irene Montero, the Podemos minister for gender equality in Spain’s current Socialist Party (PSOE)-Podemos government. Her title was a reference to the French government’s “Je suis Charlie” slogan after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, which it used to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment and back police-state policies.

She wrote, “Oui, I say … Yes! ‘I am Irene Montero’. Despite everything. Despite the fact that we don’t have good google, as they say nowadays, nor do we share the same political project. And I say this proudly because I am tired of this feeling that they are giving us women and feminism with a string of constant attacks on the Minister of Equality.”

Rodríguez criticized the neo-fascist Vox party’s attacks on Montero, accusing her of sexualising children, promoting sex among minors and paedophilia. The question, however, was not a defence of democratic rights of children and public education but an appeal for the middle class to support the PSOE-Podemos government.

The fact is that Anticapitalistas and Podemos share the same perspective. Anticapitalistas founded Podemos in 2014 along with Stalinist professors like Pablo Iglesias, Montero’s current partner, and Irene Montero herself, a former member of the Communist Party Youth.

In May 2020, Anticapitalistas left Podemos. They did so, not because they opposed any of Podemos’ signature policies in government: its back-to-work order amid the pandemic which led to tens of thousands of deaths, its austerity policies and its police state measures against Catalan nationalists. In fact, its statement on the split said it “will support all the gains made within this [PSOE-Podemos government] framework and we will fight together against the extreme right.” It added that “there is no doubt that we will find ourselves in many common struggles with the people of Podemos.”

In the video posted on the split, Rodríguez signalled in feminist language that Anticapitalistas would leave Podemos but remain politically close to it: “I believe that in politics as in life, there are ways of separating that are aggressive, violent and patriarchal, and then there are civilized, respectful, empathetic and even loving ways, which are the healthiest, which can be built and are possible in politics. That is the significance of the message we are sending today.”

Iglesias, then leader of Podemos, responded by praising Rodríguez for giving an “example of how to do things right,” repeating, “There is not good-bye, only see-you-soon.”

Now, Rodríguez, is signalling with the same language that the middle class must rally to Podemos on the basis of feminist identity politics. “We have left young girls alone at a time when they most needed feminism in the face of the reactionary and neo-sexist wave that permeates certain youth environments. … But Irene Montero has been attacked for almost everything, even literally for breathing. … They do not harass the [male] ministers of any branch or the ministers of other matters in the same way. Not in the same way, not with the same violence.”

She concluded, “Irene Montero is not a friend of mine, but the blows they are giving her are the ones that the patriarchy would like to give each one of us. For this reason, today ‘je suis Irene Montero’. Tomorrow, we’ll see.”

Montero is a reactionary Podemos minister, who specialises in promoting identity politics in Podemos’ middle class base while covering for the PSOE-Podemos’ anti-worker policies.

Her government is sending hundreds of millions of euros worth of offensive military equipment to the Ukrainian regime against Russia, even sending anti-tank missiles to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. Madrid is directly training Ukrainian soldiers on Spanish soil. It also supports the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO—another reckless provocation against Moscow—and is preparing to hike Spain’s military budget by a historic 20 percent.

On COVID-19, Podemos supported the “let it rip” policy that killed over 160,000 Spaniards and left over 1 million debilitated by Long COVID. To pay for European Union COVID-19 bailout funds to the banks and corporations, it has implemented ruthless austerity in the form of labour reforms, pension cuts and violent police crackdowns on workers striking against below-inflation wage increases.

Montero’s most recent infamous action came after the June 24 police massacre of at least 37 refugees trying to cross the Moroccan border into the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Two days after the killings, at a government press conference, Montero refused to take a position on the massacre after being asked by journalists five times. The press later confirmed that her silence had been agreed upon between the PSOE and Podemos.

Rodriguez’s sudden appearance on the pages of El País is the product of a political operation cleared at the highest levels of the state. Factions of the bourgeoisie are concerned that Podemos faces an electoral debacle in next year’s November elections, due to the unpopular right-wing policies it has pursued. Anticapitalistas is once again intervening to prop the PSOE-Podemos government.

According to the latest electoral survey of Ágora Integral, corresponding to the month of September, the right-wing Popular Party (PP) would defeat the Socialist Party (PSOE). The PP would go from 91 seats to 139 in the 350-seat assembly, and the PSOE would obtain 92, falling from the previous 120 seats and Podemos would go down from 26 to 23. The far-right Vox party would go down from 52 seats to 49 but could form a coalition with the PP that would have a comfortable absolute majority.

El País has aggressively intervened to promote Podemos, supporting its latest electoral project launched by its de facto leader, Yolanda Díaz, Sumar (“Unite”). In an editorial last July, it said: “The fact that an electoral artifact that was born to articulate the space to the left of the PSOE is led by someone who occupies the post of deputy prime minister is positive. … [She] will need a project and a political organization that manages to retune the left amid a mixture of discontent, discomfort and fear after a decade and a half chaining one crisis after another.”

While Rodríguez’s Anticapitalistas presents her defence of Podemos as part of a campaign to combat Vox, the illusions she is peddling in the pro-capitalist Podemos only pave the way for the rise of the far right.

The hostility of middle class “left populist” parties like Podemos to the workers is irrefutably established. Italy has demonstrated how the role of the pseudo-left, which has supported austerity, NATO wars and anti-migrant campaigns, only strengthens the far right. Last week, Georgia Meloni of the Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, the political successor of the Fascist Party of World War II-era dictator Benito Mussolini, won the elections.

Key lessons must be learned. The decisive question facing workers and youth in Spain and internationally who are opposed to the US-NATO war against Russia in the Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, social austerity and military-police repression is to break politically from petty-bourgeois forces like Podemos and Anticapitalistas.

The reactionary record of Anticapitalistas underscores that the decisive strategic question today is building the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) as the revolutionary leadership in the working class. This requires building sections of the ICFI in Spain and internationally, based on the colossal political experiences embodied in its defence of Trotskyism, to wage an uncompromising struggle against the PSOE-Podemos government, its appendages in the union bureaucracy and groups like Anticapitalistas.

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Quebec election: Indigenous issues take back seat as campaign winds down

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MONTREAL — Indigenous leaders in Quebec are lamenting the fact that priorities for their communities have been largely ignored during the provincial election campaign.

Atikamekw Grand Chief Constant Awashish says he’s not surprised First Nations issues have been neglected, because candidates don’t need the votes of Indigenous Peoples to get elected.

Awashish says he would like to see more awareness and understanding of Indigenous communities by Quebec’s political class.

Chief Sipi Flamand of Manawan, an Atikamekw community about 250 kilometres north of Montreal, says the lack of discussion about First Nations is not remarkable.

His community is asking for a series of measures — called Joyce’s Principle — to be adopted into Quebec law.

The principle is named after Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw mother of seven who died in hospital in Joliette, Que., in 2020, after filming staff using derogatory slurs against her.

The Coalition Avenir Québec government has refused to adopt the principle because it refers to systemic racism in Quebec’s institutions, a phenomenon the incumbent government maintains doesn’t exist in Quebec.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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