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Trudeau en route to Southeast Asia for summits aimed at deeper Indo-Pacific ties

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OKYO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is en route to Southeast Asia for a series of meetings aimed at deepening Canada’s presence in the Indo-Pacific.

The Prime Minister’s Office says his main focuses include the economy, such as inflation and supply-chain issues, support for Ukraine and the environment.

Trudeau’s first stop will be the leaders’ summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. He is scheduled to arrive shortly after midnight on Saturday, Ottawa time.

On Saturday, Trudeau will take part in an hour-long commemoration of Canada’s 45 years of ties with the ASEAN bloc, including heads of government and state.

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The 10-country bloc has some of the fastest economic growth on the planet, and started formal trade talks with Canada last year.

Wayne Farmer, head of the Canada-ASEAN Business Council, said that gives Ottawa an edge when many countries are jockeying for deeper ties in the region.

“That they selected Canada, given their limited bandwidth to negotiate … they must see something of interest in Canada to pursue,” he said, noting the booming economies are hungry for the commodities and infrastructure acumen that Canada can offer.

“They’re all having this bounce that you’re not seeing in the developed, Western world necessarily. So we need to be there, trading with them, supplying and buying from them — and also learning from them,” Farmer said.

“The fact that we’re showing up is good and important, and it does send a signal that we’re interested in the region.”

It hasn’t always been that way. After a speech this week unveiling part of her upcoming Indo-Pacific strategy, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly admitted that diplomats have told her about “the issue of Canada not always being a reliable partner” in the region.

“Sometimes we show up, and then we leave, and then we go back. That can’t be it,” Joly said during a question-and-answer session on Wednesday.

At the ASEAN summit, Trudeau is slated to attend a discussion on women in peace and security. He will likely visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, at what was a prison during the Khmer Rouge regime.

On Monday, the prime minister is scheduled to head to Indonesia for the G20 summit in Bali, a meeting of the world’s largest economies.

He is among the leaders of rich countries who are pressing their developing-country peers to further isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.

“It is clear that his barbaric war is jeopardizing our pandemic economic recovery, has amplified the global inflation crisis, and has worsened the world’s food and energy crisis. Its indirect impacts are making people hungrier, colder and poorer,” Trudeau wrote in a publication for the G20 Research Group at the University of Toronto.

“I am going to the Bali Summit with the objectives of holding Russia to account for its illegal war, demonstrating Canada’s unshakable belief in multilateral co-operation, and advancing global economic growth.”

Other G20 countries such as India, China, Cambodia and Thailand have abstained in UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia.

This year’s summit host, Indonesia, has stressed the importance of focusing on consensus instead of division. It has asked leaders to focus on shoring up health systems, and boosting food and energy security.

John Kirton, who leads the G20 Research Group, said it’s hard to separate those issues from the strain the Russian invasion is putting on global systems.

“This war is hurting the very emerging and developing countries whose support (Putin) needs to win,” said Kirton, who is anticipating efforts at the G20 to broaden a deal with Russia that has helped get Ukrainian grain to developing countries.

With the West pushing to isolate Russia and developing countries seeking help to recover from the pandemic, he said this summit faces severe challenges.

“The unprecedented divide will be bridged, so that the summit can get on to doing its regular work,” Kirton said.

Putin will not be attending the Bali summit, but it will include the first meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping as heads of state.

Following the G20, Trudeau will make a brief stop in Bangkok, Thailand, to meet with leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group.

The summit is focused on the removal of trade barriers on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, as well as climate change.

Kirton warned that this might mean other countries pressure the U.S. to expand recent policies that offer tax credits for buying electric vehicles made in North America, a deal that benefits Canada but not Japan or South Korea.

Trudeau then heads to Tunisia for the Francophonie summit, a meeting of French-speaking countries that includes large swaths of Africa.

The prime minister will partake in roundtables on digital connectivity as well as the role of women and youth.

Yet politics may overshadow the agenda, with Canada having raised concerns about anti-democratic moves by the Tunisian government.

Just weeks ago, Trudeau said he wasn’t sure whether he’d attend the summit, and didn’t deny reports that Canada pushed to have it moved to another country.

Each summit will involve bilateral meetings between Trudeau and world leaders. His office has publicly confirmed a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, and an intent to meet for the first time in-person with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the G20.

The trip is not likely to involve major defence announcements, in part because of Canada’s limited military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Canadian Forces are taking part in a UN mission to monitor various sanctions on North Korea, to prevent goods and fuel from being trafficked between boats. And Canada recently announced talks to share intelligence with Japan.

Yet last year, Canada was excluded from a security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States known as AUKUS.

Canada is also not part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, often dubbed “the Quad,” which Japan started in 2004 to meet with the U.S., Australia and India. The group has had increasingly frequent meetings as China asserts itself in the region.

Trade Minister Mary Ng is accompanying Trudeau for the Southeast Asia portion of the 10-day trip, while Joly will skip the APEC meeting in Thailand to lay the ground for Trudeau’s visit to the Francophonie summit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2022.

 

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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St-Onge urges provinces to accelerate efforts to make sports safer for athletes

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Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge says ending abuse in sports will require complaints processes that include provincial-level athletes, not just national ones.

St-Onge and provincial sports ministers will meet during the Canada Games in mid-February where their agenda will include the ongoing effort to address widespread allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in sports.

She says she asked the provincial ministers at an August meeting to look at joining the new federal sport integrity process or creating their own.

The national sports integrity commissioner can only investigate allegations of abuse from athletes at the national level.

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But St-Onge says the vast majority of athletes aren’t in that category and only Quebec has its own sports integrity office capable of receiving and investigating complaints.

The national sport integrity office officially began its work last June and has since received 48 complaints from athletes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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Justice is a Privilege Reserved for the Few

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History is full of examples showing us that Justice is a privilege reserved for the few, the wealthy, politically and financially connected, in fact, those of the right colour or race depending on where and when this justice was to be dealt with. Justice must be earnt, and it expends a colossal cost. What do I mean?

When a justice system demands proof of your innocence, while viewing the accused as guilty until that proof surfaces, the system of justice seems to be blind to all but those with the ability to hire known lawyers and a defense team to point out any misunderstandings that arise. A Black Man with many priors stands before a judge, accused of violent crimes. Will such a man have the ability to raise money to get out of jail and hire a powerful legal team? If he is a financially well-off man perhaps, but if he is an “Average Joe”, the justice system swallows him up, incarcerating him while he waits for his trial, and possible conviction. While the justice system is supposed to be blind to financial, sexist, and racial coding, the statistics show White men often walk, and Black-Hispanic and men of color often do not. Don’t think so?

America’s Justice system has a huge penal population, well into the millions of citizens in public and private prisons across the land. According to Scientific America, 71% of those imprisoned are not white. So do you think these men and women got there because of their choices or did the system help to decide that while whites can be either excused, rehabilitated or found not endangering the greater society, “the others” are threats to the nation’s security and population?

White privilege is still prevalent within our system, with financial privilege a close second.

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The World was white, but now its really black(non-white)
Justice for all is never achieved, just verbatim.
What can justice do for the lowly man
while jails fill and are built anew continually?

When you are seen as an outsider always,
and the precious few escape societies’ hungry grasp.
Justice for all is the cry we all hear these days,
While the policeman stamps your future out at last.

Martin L says the Black Persons going to win this war,
and a war of attrition it truly has been.
Justice is a privileged and socially mobile thing,
leaving the many to pray to the spirit of Tyre Nichols,
asking what the hell can we do???

I walked through an airport recently with no problem and no questioning. Customs and border officers were busy getting into the face of many non-white travelers. To this very day, a non-white person flying anywhere with a long beard, and dressed like a Muslim could get you unwelcomed trouble. Being different will always create difficulties. Being out of your place in another financial-ethnic society will be a challenge. Race, financial and political privilege will forever be with us. The powerful will always be able to dance around the justice system’s rules and regulations. Why? Well, the justice system is an exclusive club, filled with lawyers and police. The administrators and enforcers of the system. Some other form of the judicial system is needed, with a firm root in community equality. Can our Justice System be truly blind to all influencers, but the laws of the land? Can victims of crime receive true justice, retribution in kind for the offenses carried out by criminals against them?

” In the final analysis, true justice is not a matter of courts and law books, but of a commitment in each of us to liberty and mutual respect”(Jimmy Carter). Mutual respect of all actors in the play known as the Justice System, influenced, manipulated, and written by lawyers and academics. God help us.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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By the numbers for British Columbia’s overdose crisis

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British Columbia’s chief coroner released overdose figures for 2022, showing 2,272 residents died from toxic drugs last year. Lisa Lapointe says drug toxicity remains the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C., and is second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost.

Here are some of the numbers connected to the overdose crisis:

189: Average number of deaths per month last year.

6.2: Average deaths per day.

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At least 11,171: Deaths attributed to drug toxicity since the public health emergency was declared in April 2016.

70: Percentage of the dead between 30 and 59 years old.

79: Percentage of those who died who were male.

65: Children and youth who have died in the last two years.

82: Percentage of the deaths where the toxic opioid fentanyl was involved.

73,000: People in B.C. who have been diagnosed with opioid use disorder.

8.8: The rate that First Nations women are dying, is a multiple of the general population’s rate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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