Connect with us

News

U.S. charges man with human smuggling after 4 freeze to death near Canada border

Published

 on

U.S. authorities on Thursday charged a man with human smuggling of Indian nationals from Canada, the day after four people including a baby were found frozen to death in a remote part of Canada close to the Minnesota border.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota said 47-year-old Steve Shand had been arrested just south of the border on Wednesday while driving two undocumented Indian citizens.

U.S. border patrol agents soon came across five more Indians traveling on foot, one of whom was carrying a backpack belonging to a family of four who had become separated from the group as they all tried to cross the border.

They alerted Canadian police who found the victims – a man, a woman, a teenage boy and a baby – about 40 feet (12 meters) from the frontier with Minnesota. First indications are that they died from exposure to the cold.

“These victims faced not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told a televised news conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Wind chill had driven down the temperature to minus 35 C (minus 31 F), she said.

The U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement that the four victims had tentatively been identified as the missing Indian family.

The five Indian nationals explained they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone and estimated they had been walking around for over 11 hours.

Shand has been charged with one count of human smuggling. He is next due in court on Jan 24.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)

News

Indigenous leaders say Quebec language law damages reconciliation efforts

Published

 on

MONTREAL — Indigenous communities in Quebec say the language law passed Tuesday will harm the education prospects of their youth and undermine reconciliation in the province.

In Kahnawake, south of Montreal, members of the community are meeting daily to discuss ways of contesting the law, said Mike Delisle, a member of the Mohawk Council of Chiefs. Delisle said the Coalition Avenir Québec government did not adequately consult with Indigenous communities about the reform.

“The word ‘reconciliation’ is out of the window at this point,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “Those are just words on paper, it doesn’t mean anything to us, because their words are not true.”

Delisle said that for historic reasons, many people in his community learn English rather than French. He said young people are worried about a requirement that students at English-language junior colleges take three additional French-language classes. On Saturday, a group of Kahnawake students led a protest march, stopping traffic on a major bridge into Montreal.

The impact in colleges is also a concern for Sarah Aloupa, the president of Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, the school board in Quebec’s northern Nunavik region.

“Many of our students go to school in English. There is no French immersion in our schools, so you study either fully in English or in French after Grade 3,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

She said the additional French classes will be another burden for students who already have to travel long distances to pursue post-secondary education outside the region. She said the law may push young people to study outside the province.

The law shows a lack of understanding of the unique language and culture in the North, she said.

“As Inuit people, we’re not even 20,000 people, and we are considered to be endangering the French language,” she said. “I think we will have no choice but to go to court to be heard.”

Delisle said people in Kahnawake are also worried about the effects of the bill on community-run health and social services agencies, as well as the impact it will have on the community’s police service and access to justice.

The language law reform, known as Bill 96, forbids provincial government agencies, municipalities and municipal bodies from making systematic use of languages other than French.

It also requires court decisions to be immediately translated into French, forbids companies from pleading in court in other languages and gives the province’s justice and language ministers the ability to decide which judicial postings require English, a decision that was previously made by the chief justice.

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador described the bill as a “major step backwards” that puts reconciliation “on hold.”

“To deny the rights of others to assert one’s own, to brutally assert one’s supremacy over other nations that share the same territory is unworthy of a government that respects itself,” Grand Chief Ghislain Picard said in a news release after the bill passed.

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti said Wednesday he’s concerned about the law’s impact on the rights of Indigenous people but said it is too soon to talk about federal involvement in a possible court challenge.

“We will keep all options on the table,” Lametti told reporters in Montreal. “There are ways to implement the bill that would safeguard Quebecers’ constitutional rights.”

Any federal participation in a court challenge would be related to matters of federal jurisdiction, Lametti added, and would only come if a challenge starts in Quebec.

The law invokes the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution to shield it from charter challenges. It also grants language inspectors the power to conduct searches and seizures of businesseswithout a warrant. Lametti said he has concerns that the use of the notwithstanding clause has cut short debate on the law.

“As a citizen of Quebec, I’m concerned about access to health care,” he said. “I am concerned about … the ability to conduct search and seizures and whether that violates charter rights. I’m concerned about the potential impact on immigration.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

— With files from Virginie Ann

 

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

News

Malema: France should leave Africa alone

Published

 on

Pretoria, South Africa- As the continent marks Africa Day today, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the third-largest political party in South Africa, Julius Malema, has urged France to leave Africa alone.

Malema was speaking ahead of a planned memorandum regarding the party’s assertions about the role of France in Africa to be given to the French Embassy.

“The French government and regime have played a direct role in the coup d’etat and illegal and unlawful overthrow of many governments in the African continents. We commend and appreciate the work of revolutionary anti-colonial forces that are beginning to undermine French colonialism and call on all neo-colonized people under the so-called Francophone to reject France’s colonial rulership and control,” said Malema.

At the same time, Sinawo Thambo, EFF’s national spokesperson, said the party is committed to fighting the micromanagement of African affairs by France.

“We will not accept continued micromanagement of African affairs. We are not a junior in global affairs. We are Africa and we must stand up in terms of our own affairs, in terms of all sectors, economically, culturally, politically and otherwise.

So we are confronting France because France continues to be a festering parasite within the body politics of Africa. They have continued to micromanage West Africa, they continue to determine the currencies of Francophone nations in terms of where they keep their monetary reserves. There can be no economic emancipation without the freedom and emancipation of Africa in its entirety,” said EFF’s national spokesperson.

In addition, Thambo criticized African Union (AU) citing it’s a pale shadow of what it was founded upon.

“It accommodates colonialists and land thieves like Israel. The Southern African Development Community just exists for the sake of it, wars and imperialism are allowed to fester. Africa Day is a day that we celebrate under a cloud of conquest,” added Thambo.

Continue Reading

News

Women’s groups warn Liberals against ‘downloading’ gun control to potential victims

Published

 on

OTTAWA — Several women’s groups are imploring the federal Liberals to abandon the idea of creating a new regime for an endangered person to seek a court order to remove firearms from a stalker or abuser.

They say the so-called red flag provision, proposed in a bill that did not pass last year, would lead to more tragic deaths by downloading responsibility for gun-law enforcement to potential victims.

The plea comes in a letter to Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Women and Gender Equality Minister Marci Ien as the government prepares new gun-control legislation.

The May 16 letter is signed by Tiffany Butler, executive director of the National Association of Women and the Law, on behalf of representatives of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, YWCA Toronto, the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and Women’s Shelter Canada, among others.

“Firearms increase the likelihood that domestic violence will end in death,” it says. “Firearms increase the number of victims: children are often also killed and injured and, in 50 per cent of the cases of domestic violence involving firearms, the perpetrator commits suicide.”

The women’s groups object to a provision in last year’s federal gun bill — which expired upon the general election call — that proposed to create a new regime for emergency prohibition orders. Under the regime, anyone would be able to apply to a provincial court judge to prohibit another person from possessing a gun for 30 days on safety grounds.

Instead, the women’s groups support efforts to use existing means, as well as additional powers and community education, to identify risks and swiftly remove firearms from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

“There is no support for downloading or eroding the responsibility of law enforcement and other government officials to implement gun laws,” the letter says.

“They are, and must remain, responsible and accountable for ensuring that firearms licences are denied and revoked when there are potential risks to women. Citizens or other organizations, much less potential victims, should not be expected to put themselves at risk by going to court to request action that should be immediate and within the direct responsibility of police.”

It is widely recognized that women are in greatest danger during and after separation, and shifting the onus of enforcement to women and third parties “is a guaranteed route to increased fatality,” the groups say.

The letter cites a number of shootings in which people were aware of patterns of threats and violence against women. “In some cases, police were in fact notified, but no action was taken.”

The groups call on the government to promote use of the existing “red flag” mechanisms in the system, such as the Firearms Incident Police system, and ensure they are used as intended. In particular, they say officials should:

— ensure those flags are raised by a broad range of offences and behaviours;

— encourage community members, health care professionals and others to report red flags; and

— ensure immediate and effective action is taken in response to such red flag reports.

The letter urges the government to focus on training, more rigorous screening, better enforcement, and accountability of police and other government officials responsible for safeguarding the security of women and other potential victims of gun violence.

The offices of Mendicino and Ien had no immediate comment Wednesday.

In a recent mandate letter issued to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, Mendicino said victims of intimate partner violence deserve protection.

He asked Lucki to work with chief firearms officers across Canada so that they respond without delay to calls from Canadians who have safety concerns about anyone who has access to firearms, and to work with police of jurisdiction to remove firearms quickly as needed.

Lucki was also directed to provide awareness and training on the importance of recording incidents involving dangerous behaviour and firearms. “This work will also involve implementing new procedures and educational tools in close partnership with community groups, women’s shelters and organizations, academia and more.”

The coming firearm legislation is expected to address several distinct issues. The Liberals have promised a mandatory buyback of banned guns they consider assault-style firearms, a crackdown on high-capacity firearm magazines and new efforts to combat gun smuggling.

The planned buyback would make it mandatory for owners of a wide variety of banned firearms to either sell them back to the government or have them rendered inoperable at federal expense. The list includes the Ruger Mini-14 used in the 1989 shooting at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, where 14 women were killed.

The buyback plan has won applause from gun-control advocates but criticism from some firearm owners and Conservative MPs who say it unfairly focuses on legitimate gun users.

The Liberals have also pledged to work with any province or territory that wants to ban handguns.

The women’s groups and many other organizations pushing for stronger gun laws advocate a truly national ban on handguns.

The letter to Mendicino and Ien says the federal government should not hand off regulation of firearms, including handguns, to the provinces or municipalities. “In order to ensure effective gun control in Canada, your government must proactively exercise the full extent of its powers in this area.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

 

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Trending