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Pressure on Canada to send tanks to Ukraine

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OTTAWA –

Pressure is building for Canada to send some of its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine after Germany’s decision to provide the heavy weapons and approve requests by other countries to do the same.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced his government’s decision today following weeks of hesitation, saying Berlin will send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks.

The goal is for Germany and its allies to provide Ukraine with 88 of the German-made Leopards, which would make up two battalions.

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While the Canadian Armed Forces has 112 Leopard 2s in a number of different variations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to say this morning whether Canada will send any of them to Ukraine.

Retired lieutenant-general and former Canadian Army commander Jean-Marc Lanthier says Canada has a moral imperative to help Ukraine, but that any donation will need to be balanced against the long-term impact on the military.

Lanthier says only about half of Canada’s Leopard 2s are operational at any time given maintenance requirements and other factors, and that the fleet is spread thin among different units across the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2023.

— With files from The Associated Press.

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Poilievre says ‘everything seems broken,’Trudeau hit back

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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre accused the Liberal government of plunging the country into “chaos” after eight years in office, blasting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a spike in crime, inflation woes and trouble at the country’s airports.

“What’s happening in our country? Seriously. Look around you,” Poilievre said in a Friday speech to the Conservative caucus. “You told us better is always possible and yet everything is worse and you blame everyone else.”

A Poilievre government, the Conservative leader said, would restore order and bring the economy back from the brink.

Trudeau, meanwhile, delivered a pointed speech of his own Friday. The PM argued that by courting radical elements, peddling misinformation, ignoring science and pitching questionable investments like cryptocurrency, Poilievre has placed himself outside the political mainstream.

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“Mr. Poilievre has no real solutions. He’s just trying to exploit people’s anger and concerns,” Trudeau said. “When you twist the facts or make things up for political gain, that’s not responsible leadership.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen speaking to the Liberal caucus on Parliament Hill.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to caucus on Parliament Hill, Friday, January 27, 2023 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Poilievre’s speech to Tory MPs and senators and Trudeau’s response Friday reveal how the two leaders plan to approach the next sitting of Parliament, which resumes next week after the holiday break.

Poilievre is intent on blaming the Liberals for the country’s hardships while painting a bleak picture of the future under a Trudeau-led government.

Trudeau is promising what he calls a “positive vision” for the country while also blasting his opponent as a far-right leader who won’t adequately address the big challenges of our time: fighting climate change, building a more inclusive economy, fixing a health-care system on the ropes and pursuing Indigenous reconciliation.

Poilievre, Trudeau argued, doesn’t offer any “constructive or positive solutions,” while Liberals will “meet the moment.”

Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre addresses his Conservative caucus and highlights crime rates during Justin Trudeau’s time as prime minister.

Poilievre accused Trudeau of ducking his responsibilities as prime minister. He linked a rise in violent crimes and drug overdoses to Liberal changes to the federal Criminal Code and a more permissive approach to drug enforcement.

Citing a spate of violent attacks on Toronto’s transit system, Poilievre said people are scared to ride the subway because they might get stabbed.

Between January 2016 and December 2021, nearly 30,000 Canadians died of opioid overdoses, according to federal data. There are crime-ridden homeless encampments in Canada’s big cities, Poilievre said, because of Liberal policies.

“Justin tied the hands of our police and failed to hold the scumbag corporations who brought these drugs to our streets accountable,” the Conservative leader said.

‘Get out of the way’

Poilievre said big spending during the pandemic has pushed the national debt over the $1 trillion mark, fuelling inflation. The federal price on carbon emissions, Poilievre claimed, has left seniors in the cold.

“If you’re not responsible for these things and you can’t do anything about it, why don’t you get out of the way and let somebody who can,” Poilievre said.

“Everything seems to be broken,” he added in French.

Trudeau has pushed back against Poilievre’s claim that the country is in disarray.

In a speech at the Liberal Christmas party last month, Trudeau said that when Poilievre says Canada is broken, “that’s where we draw the line.”

“Let me be very clear for the record: Canada is not broken,” he said in the Dec. 14 speech, citing post-Fiona hurricane relief and a new national child care program as examples of recent progress on his watch.

At the Liberal cabinet retreat in Hamilton this week, ministers also touted a return to normal at Canada’s passport offices, a promise to fix to the air passenger bill of rights and meaningful progress on an increase to health-care funding as proof that the country is headed in the right direction.

Poilievre dismissed Trudeau’s defence Friday.

“Justin says I should never mention these problems because Canadians have never had life so good,” he said.

For some people, Poilievre said, the prime minister is right — the people at the Liberal Christmas party are doing just fine. “Lobbyists and Liberal political assistants here in Ottawa, they’ve never had it so good,” Poilievre said.

The government’s use of outside advisers has made people at consulting firms like McKinsey rich, Poilievre said, while working-class people skip meals to save money.

Trudeau said his government is laser-focused on rebuilding Canada’s middle class.

He pointed to new investments in the automotive sector, clean technology, mining, rare earth metals and manufacturing as signs that Ottawa’s industrial policy is paying off with high-paying jobs in industries of the future.

The prime minister said Poilievre can’t be trusted to lead a major economy like Canada’s when he was pushing bitcoin — an investment that has tanked in recent months, wiping out tens of billions of dollars in value.

“Mr. Poilievre was out talking about how we should all invest in bitcoin to opt out of inflation after he watched YouTube videos about it,” Trudeau said. “Now, we all like YouTube, but it matters what content you watch and what you choose to amplify.”

He also condemned Poilievre for recently speaking to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy — a group that has said it’s a “myth” that the residential school system robbed Indigenous children of their childhood.

“It’s just plain wrong,” Trudeau said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Canadians don’t have to choose between the red and the blue team.

He said New Democrats are best placed to save a faltering health-care system and criticizing some provincial plans to send more surgeries to private clinics to help clear mounting hospital backlogs.

“That’s the wrong way to do it because it will only make things worse and cannibalize workers from our existing system,” he said. “We’ll defend public health care.”

Singh also criticized Trudeau’s performance on the housing file, saying too many Canadians can’t afford their rent.

“He has to invest massively to build more housing and ensure major corporations are not making huge profits because that hurts families,” he said. “So far, Justin Trudeau hasn’t taken this seriously.”

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Memphis authorities release video in Tyre Nichols’ death

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video in Tyre Nichols' death

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis authorities released more than an hour of footage Friday of the violent beating of Tyre Nichols in which officers held the Black motorist down and struck him repeatedly as he screamed for his mother.

The video emerged one day after the officers were charged with murder in Nichols’ death.

The footage shows police savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes. The Nichols family legal team has likened the assault to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.

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“I’m going to baton the (expletive) out you,” one officer can be heard saying. His body camera shows him raise his baton while at least one other officer holds Nichols.

After the beating, officers milled about for several minutes while Nichols lay propped up against the car, then slumped onto the street.

Cities across the country braced for large demonstrations. Nichols’ relatives urged supporters to protest peacefully.

“This young man, by definition of the law in this state, was terrorized. Not by one, not by two, but by five officers who we now know … acted in concert with each other,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who represents Nichols’ family.

The officers “acted together … to inflict harm, terrorism, oppression of liberty, oppression of constitutional rights, which led to murder,” Romanucci said.

Memphis Police Director Cerelyn Davis described the officers’ actions as “heinous, reckless and inhumane,” and said that her department has been unable to substantiate the reckless driving allegation that prompted the stop.

She told The Associated Press in an interview that there is no video of the traffic stop that shows Nichols recklessly driving.

During the initial stop, the video shows the officers were “already ramped up, at about a 10,” she said. The officers were “aggressive, loud, using profane language and probably scared Mr. Nichols from the very beginning.”

“We know something happened prior to this officer or these officers getting out of their vehicles … Just knowing the nature of officers, it takes something to get them amped up, you know, like that. We don’t know what happened,” she said.

“All we know is the amount of force that was applied in this situation was over the top,” Davis said.

Given the likelihood of protests, Davis told ABC that she and other local officials decided it would be best to release the video later in the day, after schools are dismissed and people are home from work.

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but pleaded for peace.

“I don’t want us burning up our city, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” she said Thursday. “If you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.”

Speaking at the White House, President Joe Biden said Friday that he was “very concerned” about the prospect of violence and called for protests to remain peaceful.

Biden said he spoke with Nichols’ mother earlier in the day and told her that he was going to be “making a case” to Congress to pass the George Floyd Act “to get this under control.” The legislation, which has been stalled, is meant to tackle police misconduct and excessive force and boost federal and state accountability efforts.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was “appalled” by the video and that all FBI field officers have been alerted to work with state and local partners, including in Memphis, “in the event of something getting out of hand.”

Court records showed that all five former officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — were taken into custody.

The officers each face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. Four of the five officers had posted bond and been released from custody by Friday morning, according to court and jail records.

Martin’s lawyer, William Massey, and Mills’ lawyer, Blake Ballin, said their clients would plead not guilty. Lawyers for Smith, Bean and Haley could not be reached.

“No one out there that night intended for Tyre Nichols to die,” Massey said.

Second-degree murder is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison under Tennessee law.

Patrick Yoes, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, condemned the alleged actions of the Memphis officers.

“The event as described to us does not constitute legitimate police work or a traffic stop gone wrong. This is a criminal assault under the pretext of law,” Yoes said in a statement.

Rallies and demonstrations were planned Friday night in Memphis, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Portland, Oregon and Washington.

New York Mayor Eric Adams, a former police officer, said he and other mayors across the country had been briefed by the White House in advance of the video’s release, which he said would “trigger pain and sadness in many of us. It will make us angry.”

Romanucci and civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who also represents Nichols’ family, called on the police chief to disband the department’s so-called scorpion unit focused on street crime.

Nichols “at all times was an innocent victim,” Romanucci said Friday. “He did nothing wrong. He was caught up in a sting. This scorpion unit was designed to saturate under the guise of crime fighting, and what it wound up doing instead was creating a continual pattern and practice of bad behavior.”

Davis said other officers are still being investigated for violating department policy. In addition, she said “a complete and independent review” will be conducted of the department’s specialized units, without providing further details.

Two fire department workers were also removed from duty.

As state and federal investigations continue, Davis promised the police department’s “full and complete cooperation.”

Crump said the video showed that Nichols was shocked, pepper-sprayed and restrained when he was pulled over near his home. He was returning home from a suburban park where he had taken photos of the sunset.

Relatives have accused police of causing Nichols to have a heart attack and kidney failure. Authorities have said only that Nichols experienced a medical emergency.

___

Associated Press reporters Aaron Morrison in New York; Travis Loller in Nashville, Tennessee; and Rebecca Reynolds in Lexington, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

 

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Visible Minority Youth Representing the Future of Canada

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As Canada continues to strive for inclusivity, the visibility of minority youth is becoming ever more important to the success of our nation. With an increasingly diverse population, it is essential that minorities have a say in the future direction of our country. Visible minority youth are at the forefront of this movement, representing the promise and potential of a unified Canada.

In recent years, visible minority participation in politics has increased significantly. This trend signals a cultural shift towards greater acceptance and representation on all levels—from city council meetings to Parliament Hill. Although there is still much work to be done before true inclusion is achieved, these young voices are setting an example of how minorities can become active participants in our democratic process.

Although there’s a big shift in visible minority participation in politics, there’re still under-represented in Canada, as political candidates and elected officials at all three levels of government relative to their share of the population.

Political participation is an important aspect of social inclusion. By casting their ballot and being engaged in politics, citizens can exercise their democratic rights and influence the political direction of the country. Political participation can be assessed by looking at two indicators: voter turnout and engagement in political activities other than voting.

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According to the 2020 GSS SI, 87% of Canadians who were eligible to vote reported having cast a ballot in the 2019 federal election, 85% in the last provincial election, and 71% in the last municipal election. It is worth noting that self-reported participation in elections tends to be overestimated in surveys such as GSS (for further information, refer to Elections Canada).

The pattern of voting at the three levels of government (i.e., higher participation in federal elections and lower participation in municipal elections) was similar for racialized Canadians and the rest of the population. However, racialized Canadians were less likely to participate in the electoral process. They were 6 to 7 percentage points less likely to vote in the last elections compared with citizens forming the rest of the population.

Voting in federal, provincial and municipal elections and political engagement, by group (racialized or the rest of the population)

Chart 3: Voting in federal, provincial and municipal elections and political engagement, by group (racialized or the rest of the population)

Engagement in political activities is another measure of political participation. It includes a wider spectrum of political activities (other than voting), such as seeking information or expressing an opinion on a political issue, contacting a newspaper or a politician, participating in a meeting or a demonstration, signing a petition, boycotting or choosing a product for ethical reason, wearing signs in support of a political or social issue, or volunteering for a political party. These activities are more regular in nature than voting in elections and include online and in-person engagement. The participation rate in these activities was 64% for racialized Canadians and 71% for the rest of the population.

Within the racialized population, the political engagement of Canadian-born and immigrant-racialized individuals varied significantly. The Canadian-born racialized population (80%) was much more engaged in non-electoral political activities than their immigrant counterparts (59%).

This difference can partially be attributed to age as the Canadian-born racialized population is younger than the immigrant racialized population, and younger people are generally more politically and socially active. In fact, the study “Political participation and civic engagement of youth” have shown that younger people, while less likely to vote, are more likely to participate in non-electoral political activities than older people.

South Asian Canadians were most active in recent elections, while Black Canadians were most engaged in non-electoral political activities.

The patterns of voting and engagement in non-electoral political activities were also different for specific racialized groups. In 2020, Filipino, Southeast Asian, and Black Canadians were the least likely to vote in the most recent elections of any level of government, while South Asian Canadians were the most active in voting in all three electoral processes.

Black Canadians were the most engaged in non-electoral political activities (70%). Among Black Canadians, 81% reported that they voted in the federal election, but the proportions of their participation in provincial (71%) and municipal (58%) elections were lower.

Overall, South Asian, Arab, and Latin American Canadians were most actively involved in democratic life, since political participation among these racialized groups was above 65% for all three electoral processes and for political engagement.

In conclusion, Visible Minority youth represent the future of Canada and they need to engage more in political activities, in that way they can change systematic racism and police brutality in our society.

‘Engagement in political activities other than voting’ (political engagement) refers to respondents’ engagement in at least one of the following non-electoral political activities in the 12 months preceding the release: searching for information on a political issue; volunteering for a political party; expressing views on an issue by contacting a newspaper or a politician; expressing views on a political or social issue through an Internet forum or news website; signing a petition on paper; signing an Internet petition; boycotting or choosing a product for ethical reasons; attending a public meeting; speaking out in a public meeting; participating in a demonstration or march; or, wearing a badge, T-shirt or displaying a lawn sign in support of or opposition to a political or social cause.

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