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Protest against Indian citizenship law as divisive politics play out in Canada – National Post

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TORONTO — As hundreds of people gathered in Toronto on Friday to protest a controversial citizenship law in India, some members of the city’s Indian community say a rise in divisive politics have created tensions here in Canada.

Multiple people have been killed in the South Asian nation over the past week as public anger swells over a citizenship law that critics say excludes Muslims and threatens the country’s secular democracy.

The law allows Hindus, Christians and people from other religious minorities who are in India illegally from neighbouring Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to apply for citizenship. However the legislation introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government does not include Muslims.

It comes after multiple other controversial moves in the majority-Hindu country, including an ongoing crackdown in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.

Divyani Motla was one of those who braved chilly temperatures to attend a rally at the Indian consulate in downtown Toronto on Friday. The Indian student at the University of Toronto said it was important for her to take part as a member of India’s Hindu majority.

Motla said she’s seen a rise in hateful political discourse in Canada amongst Indian communities, and says that Muslim Indians she knows have taken the brunt of it.

“There’s an aggressive Hindu right that has grown in the West,” said Motla. “The citizenship act has been quite a contentious issue to talk about.”

Sanober Umar, a history PhD candidate at Queen’s University, said she’s seen the aggressive side of the political discourse firsthand.

Umar said she was harassed online after speaking at an academic event in April, when she was critical of some of Modi’s policies in India.

She said Modi supporters tried to cancel the event and complained about it to the Indian consulate and Umar’s school.

Dozens of protesters showed up to try to disrupt the talk and several sent her death and rape threats afterwards, Umar said.

“In the past few years, there has been a rise of right-wing Indian immigrants … who have been on the ground accusing anyone who speaks against Narendra Modi of being anti-Indian and anti-immigrant,” said Umar.

“They’re trying to manufacture this discourse that anyone who challenges the BJP is essentially anti-India or Hindu-phobic,” she said, referring to the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party.

Nasser Khan, who was born and raised in India but identifies as Canadian, said he’s become more hesitant about travelling back to the country as he says anti-Muslim policies continue to roll out.

“When you visit, you don’t feel safe, you don’t feel comfortable the way you used to a couple of years ago,” said Khan, who lives in the Greater Toronto Area.

“You’re not able to express what you want, if you question the government you’re labelled an anti-nationalist right away.”

He said that he’s also seen divisive politics spread throughout the Indian community in Canada, especially through social media.

“There’s a lot of hateful posts that I see from people living in Canada and originating in India,” said Khan.

“It concerns me, because this country is different from back home and people still carry that baggage here.”

At the Toronto protest, Motla said that she’s also been told by her parents that she might be safer staying in Canada for the time being.

“It’s upsetting and heartbreaking when your family is telling you to not come back, because it’s not the country you were in before,” she said.

— with files from The Associated Press

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Women in politics panel scheduled for Thursday – Sarnia Observer

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Three local women are talking about their experiences in politics this Thursday for a Jean Collective digital panel.

Judy Krall, deputy mayor of Enniskillen Township, is pictured in the Lambton County building in February. She’s one of three panelists in a Jean Collective talk about women in politics Thursday.

Paul Morden / The Observer

Three local women are talking about their experiences in politics this Thursday for a Jean Collective digital panel.

The group aimed at encouraging more women in politics in Sarnia-Lambton – currently about a dozen are in elected office across the county – kicked off in January, but the initiative was sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic just before the panel presentation was originally scheduled for late March, said Helen Cole, one of six women behind the group.

“With this panel, we’re relaunching,” she said.

“It’s just a way to get the word out that we’re here, we want to support women who would be interested in making a difference in their community.

The Sept. 24, 7 p.m. panel via Zoom includes St. Clair Township Coun. Tracy Kingston, Enniskillen Township Deputy Mayor Judy Krall, and former City of Sarnia councillor Anne Marie Gillis.

“We’re asking them questions like ‘why did you decide to get involved in politics,’” Cole said. “Most often it’s because they were already active in their community and they wanted to make a difference.”

Challenges exist, said Cole, who served on St. Thomas council before moving to Sarnia, where she was manager of its Canadian Cancer Society office until she retired in 2013.

“You often will feel all alone,” she said. “So we want to address that piece.”

That includes developing what she called an education program for prospective politicians about things like Roberts Rules of Order that govern council meetings, work-life balance, information about finance, strategic planning, for building self confidence, and covering other topics, so they know what to expect in office, she said.

“I have some subject matter experts lined up for some of those, and if there’s some interest there may be a campaign school,” she said.

The education program would continue up until maybe six months before the 2022 municipal election, she said.

“Our point that we made very strongly is we are not endorsing any particular candidate or political party – we just want to get women involved,” Cole said.

“We all agree that a female on council has a different perspective, and we think that needs to be brought to the council table,” wherever that may be in Sarnia-Lambton, she said.

“And it’s a way for us to support women,” she said.

Often women are hesitant to run amid doubt, she said.

“We want to take the mystery and the fear out of it and say ‘You can do this. You need to get involved in your community.”’

Thursday’s digital panel is free and tickets are available for the Women in Politics Panel Discussion and Networking event via eventbrite.com.

Hopes are the education events to come will also be free, Cole said, noting she wants to eventually offer bursaries to women studying political science at university.

There’s a fund named after Jean Macdougall – also the namesake of the collective and Cole’s mentor during her time in politics – at the Sarnia Community Foundation for the cause, she said.

“If people wanted to support in that way, they could donate to that fund,” she said.

tkula@postmedia.com

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Jonathan Kay: B.C. NDP succumbs to the leftist battle over identity politics – National Post

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Article content continued

The next day, the star candidate was joined by Annita McPhee, former president of the Tahltan First Nations government, whose lands comprise part of the Stikine riding. But McPhee didn’t just jump in: she also called on Cullen to jump out. According to a motion adopted in 2011, older male NDP MLAs who retire must be replaced with either a woman or a member of an “equity-seeking” group. Cullen, a white guy born and raised in Toronto, doesn’t qualify.

In the days since, the plot thickened, with the party president releasing a vague statement indicating that “in certain instances, despite extensive candidate searches, our regulations permit allowances for other candidates to be considered.” It also turned out that the definition of “equity-seeking” is quite broad. In the last election, one married male NDP candidate, who’d always presented as straight, abruptly claimed he was bisexual. Another white male candidate got nominated after saying he had a hearing impairment.

I hadn’t heard of the B.C. NDP’s equity-seeking policy until this week. But its existence shouldn’t surprise me. The whole thrust of modern identity politics is to rank the acuteness of human oppression — and, by corollary, the urgency of the associated political demands — on the basis of race, sex and other personal traits. It makes sense that this principle should now be institutionalized, and weaponized, by politicians competing for status and power in a left-wing party that explicitly claims to represent the oppressed. Not so long ago, oppression was defined in NDP circles according to a Marxist understanding of labour and capital — which is why unions had such a prominent role in the party. But those days are long gone. Just last month, in fact, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh used his Twitter account to promote officially debunked conspiracy theories suggesting that a Black Toronto woman was murdered in May by a half dozen (unionized) Toronto police officers.

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Coronavirus: Ministers balance science and politics in latest rules – BBC News

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It’s not a day for optimists, even though the prime minister himself is one of that tribe.

Tomorrow, it will be six months exactly since he told the nation to stay at home.

This time, Boris Johnson stopped well short of slamming the country’s doors shut.

But what really stood out in his long statement in a miserable-looking Commons was his message that the limits put in place today will last another six months.

Even if you are very fond of your own company, lucky enough to have a secure job you enjoy and a comfy spare room where you can do it, it is quite something to contemplate.

The government now expects that all our lives will be subject to restrictions of one kind or another for a whole year – March 2020 to March 2021.

As each month ticks by, it becomes harder to imagine a return to anything like normal political life, or, more importantly, the way we all live.

We may not be waiting for a return to life as we knew it, but grinding through a moment of change.

‘Shelter the economy’

But if you were listening carefully, something else was different too.

The country became familiar with the slogan “Stay At Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives” – it was emblazoned on government lecterns, repeated again and again by government ministers in interview after interview, on bus shelters, pop-up ads on the internet, wherever you looked.

That phrase was retired after the most intense period of the lockdown, but echoed today with one important additional condition.

Boris Johnson’s driver today was to “save lives, protect the NHS” and “shelter the economy”.

As we discussed here yesterday, concerns about the economy played more strongly in Downing Street after fierce resistance from backbenchers, and arguments from the next-door neighbour in No 11 of the economic risks of a short, sharp closure programme.

Fears about how the country makes a living have always been part of the decision-making process for the government, grappling with these acute dilemmas.

But the political appetite inside the Tory party for sweeping restrictions has certainly dimmed.

The changes announced today do make economic recovery harder, the “bounce back” the government dreamt of looks harder to achieve, but they are not as draconian as they may otherwise have been.

The choices made by Nicola Sturgeon to restrict social lives much further than in England, as in Northern Ireland, point to that difference.

Ministers used to make great play of following the science, now they are certainly following the politics too.

Only the unknowable progress of the disease will, in time, suggest which call was right.

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