François Legault may have changed his separatist strategy but he hasn’t changed his stripes.
On Monday, as predicted, Legault romped to an easy victory. Now that he’s ensconced in his role as Premier for the next four years, it’s worth taking stock of the blatant intolerance that stoked his campaign and what it might mean for the future of Canada.
In the final days of the campaign when Legault’s numbers had begun softening, Radio-Canada decided to run an alarmist piece on the dangers of francophones learning English. It featured a retired mathematics professor who has been pushing similar theories since the 1980s. Despite the fact that he’s not a demographer, he was allowed to present his ideas about the perilous decline of French unchallenged by experts in the field. The result was a biased report, devoid of any journalistic counterbalance.
For example with mournful background music we are introduced to a mom (and former separatist candidate) who is concerned about the use of English on store signs and who emotes that her daughter has chosen to go to an English university!
In tweeting out the report, respected anchor Céline Galipeau asks the loaded question: “What do the different parties propose to deal with ‘the decline of French’”, presenting that last assertion as unquestioned fact, despite the existence of analysis and data to the contrary.
As professor Sheila Das wrote in a brilliant opinion piece earlier this year: “Despite the overhyped fears in Quebec, English does not enter the brain like a language-eating parasite and erase native tongues.”
During the campaign Legault associated immigrants with violence and extremism and “la chicane,” a Quebec French word meaning “quarrel”. He issued a half-hearted conditional apology then continued down the same path anyway, saying that people who don’t already speak French upon arrival threaten the social cohesiveness of Quebec and even stirred the pot with an important First Nations community (that one he did apologize for)…
Legault’s numbers were good enough for a solid majority thanks to a perfect split among opposition parties but he appeared not to be headed towards the super majority that he pleaded for at the beginning of the campaign.
Then, on the Wednesday before the vote, at a Chamber of commerce event in Montreal, Legault let fly with a looping reference to increased immigration as being “suicidal”.
That galling statement had just hit the news when an even more egregious (and absolutely false) affirmation by his immigration minister, Jean Boulet, surfaced out of nowhere. That statement was so outrageous that it quickly swamped the Legault “suicidal” reference. Boulet had made it the week before, during a regional election debate on his home turf in the Trois-Rivières area. All the news services ran with the Boulet statement but you’ll look in vain to find out how it suddenly got put out there a week after it was uttered.
FIVE-ALARM POLITICAL FIRESTORM
Boulet’s statement that “80 per cent of immigrants go to Montreal, do not work, do not speak French or do not adhere to the values of Quebec society” was as outrageous and hurtful as it was false.
It set off a five-alarm political firestorm that was a win-win for Legault.
He was off the hook for the now lesser evil of his “suicidal” comment and he benefited from his minister saying things that played to the prejudices and fears of many voters.
Legault said that Boulet would no longer be his immigration minister after the election but made it equally clear that he could let him back into cabinet.
By election night two things had happened: Legault’s numbers had gone back up and his rival on the right, Conservative Leader Éric Duhaime, saw his own support flatten. He’d been outdone on this front and wound up with zero seats.
Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade saw many of her traditional supporters, who’d been flirting with “Anglo rights” parties, return to the fold. That helped finesse her strong endgame into more seats than the other three opposition parties combined.
Fears of the “Louisianization” of French in Quebec are very widely shared and Legault used the term at his party convention during the run up to the campaign. It evokes a time when French would become folkloric in Quebec.
Back in the days of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown constitutional rounds, even Brian Mulroney had gotten in on the act and somehow managed to evoke Louisiana and banjos (!) in his arguments in favour of his proposals.
Beginning with the previous campaign in 2018, Legault has been arguing for the necessity for Quebec to control the “family reunification” category of immigrants. He will, in short order, be taking the fight on that issue to Ottawa.
Legault is a bean counter, he knows that his refusal to bring in the number of immigrants being requested by Quebec employers will have consequences.
Economically, Quebec businesses will remain hobbled by a severe labour shortage that is slowing growth.
Politically, it is inevitable that Quebec’s number of seats in the House of Commons will decrease as its proportion of total Canadian population declines.
Legault has an answer to that one as well. He wants to have his cake and eat it. Having created a situation where Quebec’s demographic weight has decreased, he now says he can’t believe that there’s not a way to guarantee Quebec a certain level of representation in the House of Commons. This harkens back to the Charlottetown Accord and the idea, in return for Senate reform, that Quebec would be guaranteed 25 per cent of the seats in the House, in perpetuity, irrespective of its actual percentage of Canada’s population.
Another “chicane” with Ottawa on the horizon…
Legault has never completely abandoned the goal of Quebec independence he fought so hard for throughout his time as a senior Parti Québécois minister. During this campaign, he dodged questions as to whether or not he’d vote “yes” in a referendum on separation. Legault has simply become more clever at pursuing that goal. It all goes back to a revealing interview he gave prior to the 2018 campaign.
In it he explains that achieving independence in one grand evening hasn’t worked out. He goes on to lay out a roadmap “to get there” that includes making demands and changes to language laws, cultural jurisdiction and…the family reunification category of immigration.
When Legault comes calling with those demands, Canadians will quickly learn about the weakness of the current federal government when dealing with these complex issues.
Legault has already brought in legislation (Bill 96) to restrict the equality of English before the courts in Quebec. Legault says he’s allowed to amend the BNA ACT unilaterally to remove language rights. Despite the fact that the 1982 constitution clearly requires a resolution from each House of Parliament in such a case, Trudeau and his ineffective Justice Minister David Lametti have refused to lift a finger to defend the Canadian constitution.
So too with regards to the rights of religious minorities who have come under attack with Bill 21. That is the law that saw a young Muslim woman in Western Quebec lose her teaching job because of her head scarf. Again, Trudeau has refused to take on Legault and the legal challenge to this discriminatory law is being led by community groups and individuals in a slow and difficult process because Trudeau refuses to do what only he has the power to do: refer the question directly to the Supreme Court.
Not content to just do no harm, Trudeau has his own proposed language legislation (Bill C-13) that could actually make it more difficult for Quebec anglophones to maintain their constitutionally guaranteed right to control and manage their own minority language school boards. Those English school boards have been attacked by Legault with a third law, Bill 40.
If that seems like a lot of attacks on minority rights, it’s because it is, but Legault continues to run circles around Trudeau and Lametti. When compared to towering figures of the past who have successfully taken on these existential questions, there now seems to be no rudder steering our ship of state when it comes to the constitution and equal rights for all Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
Now, more than ever, the future of this exceptional country of ours will be at stake if there’s no one in Ottawa capable of articulating an inclusive vision of Canada that takes on Legault’s small-minded views. It won’t be done by referendum in “one grand evening”, it’s being done bit by bit by someone with a plan who’s facing a government without a clue.
Tom Mulcair was the leader of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada between 2012 and 2017
Trudeau 'extremely concerned' about report Canadian parts ended up in Iranian drones – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News
Trudeau shared his worries with reporters in Ingersoll, Ont., Monday after the Globe and Mail reported on Sunday the discovery by a non-profit organization, Statewatch. Its “Trap Aggressor” investigation detailed last month that an antenna manufactured by an Ottawa-based Tallysman Wireless was featured in the Iranian Shahed-136 attack drone.
Federal government ‘extremely concerned’ about report Canadian-made parts found in Iranian attack drones used in Russia: Trudeau
The drones have been used recently by Russia in Ukraine as Moscow increases its strikes on the country’s energy and civilian infrastructure.
“We’re obviously extremely concerned about those reports because even as Canada is producing extraordinary, technological innovations … we do not want them to participate in Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, or Iran’s contributions to that,” Trudeau said.
“We have strict export permits in place for sensitive technology that are rigorously enforced, and that’s why we’ve been following up with this company, that’s fully cooperating, to figure out exactly how items that we’re not supposed to get into the hands of anyone like the Iranian government actually ended up there.”
The Shahed-136 is manufactured by Shahed Aviation Industries, one of two Iranian drone makers Ottawa sanctioned last month for reportedly supplying Russia with its lethal drones. After denying reports it was supplying Moscow, Iran acknowledged for the first time on Nov. 5 it had sent Moscow drones before the Feb. 24 war began.
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It denied continuing to supply drones to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Iran of lying, previously saying Kyiv’s forces were destroying at least 10 of its drones every day.
Aside from its Iranian-made engine, the Shahed-136 consists entirely of foreign components, Statewatch said in its report. It cited Ukrainian intelligence managing to identify more than 30 European and American companies’ components, with most parts coming from the United States.
Drones like the Shahed are packed with explosives and can be preprogrammed with a target’s GPS coordinates. They can nosedive into targets and explode on impact like a missile, hence why they have become known as suicide drones or kamikaze drones.
Shaheds are relatively cheap, costing roughly US$20,000 each — a small fraction of the cost of a full-size missile.
Drones “provide a critical capability” to exploit vulnerabilities in defences, and their use may be a prelude to a new phase in the conflict, U.S. Army Lt.-Col. Paul Lushenko previously told Global News.
Gyles Panther, president at Tallysman, told the Globe the company is not “complicit in this usage” and “is 100-per cent committed” to supporting Ukraine.
Ottawa is working to understand how the parts ended up in the drones, and wants to “ensure” incidents like this don’t “happen again in the future,” Trudeau said.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Available Nexus appointments Canada
There’s good news for those looking to expedite their border crossing experience.
To mitigate the ongoing backlog issues at Canadian border crossings, border officials have reopened two Nexus and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) enrolment centres in Canada.
It’s the first time any Nexus and FAST offices have been open in Canada since the pandemic began, and federal officials say more offices will be opening in the future.
The Nexus program, which has over 1.7 million members, is designed to speed up the border clearance process for its members, while also freeing up more time for Canadian and U.S. border security agents to tend to unknown or potentially higher-risk travellers and goods.
The benefit of Nexus is that it allows for those travelling between the two countries to save time, skipping long lineups and using the shorter, dedicated Nexus lanes when crossing the border, as well as designated kiosks and eGates at major airports, and quicker processing at marine crossings.
Reopening these two Canadian centres is the first phase of a larger plan to address the lengthy Nexus and FAST backlog, and will increase availability for applicants to book appointments to interview for Nexus pre-approval, the Canada Border Service Agency said in a statement Monday.
Those looking to get Nexus approval can now schedule interviews, by appointment only, at the Lansdowne, Ont. (Thousand Islands Bridge) and Fort Erie, Ont. (Peace Bridge) enrolment centres, through the trusted traveller programs portal.
Travellers looking to apply will still need to complete a new two-step process, and the Canadian offices don’t mean applicants won’t have to cross the border to finalize the process.
If conditionally approved for Nexus status, travellers can complete the first part of the interview at one of the two reopened Canadian enrolment centres, then complete the second interview portion just across the border at the corresponding U.S. enrolment centres on the other side. For Lansdowne, that’s Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and for Fort Erie, it’s Buffalo, N.Y.
To become conditionally approved, both the CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have to grant approval prior to scheduling the interview portion, and interviews need to be conducted on both sides of the border.
“Nexus and FAST are a win-win for Canada and the United States – and we’re working hard to find creative solutions to reduce wait times, address the backlog and help more travellers get Nexus cards,” said Marco Mendicino, minister of public safety, in a press release. “This new, two-step process is further proof of our commitment to it. We’ll keep finding solutions that leverage technology and streamline renewals.”
Applicants also have the option to complete a one-step process and schedule complete interviews at enrolment centres in the U.S., which may be a preferred option for those who don’t live near the two centres currently open in Canada.
And those who are already members of the Nexus program and are awaiting an interview can renew their membership ahead of its expiry date in order to retain their travel benefits for up to five years.
More centres are expected to open at select land border crossings in the future, as this initial phase carries on, CBSA says.
China slams U.S. Inflation Reduction Act for ‘disrupting international trade, investment’
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Thursday criticized the U.S. for disrupting international trade and investment by adopting the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), urging the U.S. to fulfill its obligations under WTO rules.
The criticism came after the Chinese delegation attending a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Council for Trade in Goods expressed serious concern over the ‘discriminatory and distorted subsidy provisions’ of the U.S. IRA, as well as its series of policies that disrupt the global semiconductor industry chain and supply chain.
The meeting of the WTO Council for Trade in Goods was held in Geneva between November 24 and 25.
Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Ministry of Commerce Spokeswoman Shu Jueting said that China’s response is an exercise of its rights as a WTO member to challenge the trade measures of another member and their impact on such an occasion.
“In its speech, the Chinese side expounded on the suspected violations of WTO rules by the relevant provisions of the U.S. law from a professional perspective, noted that the U.S. approach has seriously disrupted international trade and investment while undermining the stability of the global industrial and supply chains, and expressed grave concern over the U.S. application of double standards and acts of bullying regarding international trade rules,” Shu said.
“China urges the U.S. to strictly fulfill its obligations under WTO rules and earnestly safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral trading system,” she said.
Stressing that the world today is facing multiple challenges including setbacks in economic globalization and a sluggish economic recovery, Shu reiterated China’s commitment to opposing unilateralism and stabilizing global industrial and supply chains.
“China is ready to work with other members to follow through on the outcomes of the WTO 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), engage fully and deeply in the reform of the WTO, stand against unilateralism and protectionism, and support the WTO in better playing its role, so as to contribute to stability of the global industrial and supply chains and recovery of the global economy at an early date,” said the spokeswoman.
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