The employment minister of Canada, a strong supporter of Israel, has waded into the spat over Oxfam breaking with US actress Scarlett Johansson for endorsing an Israeli soft drink firm that operates in the occupied West Bank.
Minister Jason Kenney, who is also minister of multiculturalism in Canada, extended an ironic thank you to Oxfam for bringing the Israeli firm SodaStream to his attention.
Last week Johansson made headlines when she quit her role as Oxfam ambassador after the NGO said her promotion of SodaStream was “incompatible” with her role at the international aid agency.
SodaStream, which manufactures machines for making carbonated drinks at home, has 25 factories around the world, including one that operates in a settlement east of Jerusalem.
“Bought a nice SodaStream unit at the HudsonsBayCo. Thanks to Oxfam for the tip,” the minister said in a tweet.
The minister’s message also featured a photo of a SodaStream beverage machine with its brand name clearly visible.
It also bore the letters “BDSfail” in reference to the campaign calling for “boycott, divestment, sanctions” of Israeli products and goods.
Oxfam calls for a boycott of any Israeli firm operating in settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.
Canada is a strong backer of Israel, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Israel late last month.
Somewhere in the Lester B. Pearson Building, Canada’s foreign affairs headquarters, must be a meeting room with the inscription “The World Should Do as We Say, Not As We Do” or perhaps “Hypocrites ‘R Us.”
With the Obama administration beating the war drums, Canadian officials are demanding a response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of the chemical weapon sarin.
Last week Prime Minister Stephen Harper claimed “if it is not countered, it will constitute a precedent that we think is very dangerous for humanity in the long term” while for his part Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird declared: “If it doesn’t get a response it’s an open invitation for people, for Assad in Syria, or elsewhere to use these types of weapons that they’ve by and large refrained from doing since the First World War.” The Conservatives also signed Canada onto a White House statement claiming: “The international norm against the use of chemical weapons is longstanding and universal.”
While one may wish this were the case, it’s not. In fact, Canada has repeatedly been complicit with the use of chemical weapons.
During the war in Afghanistan, Canadian troops used white phosphorus, which is a chemical agent that can cause deep tissue burning and death when inhaled or ingested in significant amounts. In an October 2008 letter to the Toronto Star, Corporal Paul Demetrick, a Canadian reservist, claimed Canadian forces used white phosphorus as a weapon against “enemy-occupied” vineyards. General Rick Hillier, former chief of the Canadian defence staff, confirmed the use of this defoliant. Discussing the difficulties of fighting the Taliban in areas with 10-foot tall marijuana plants, the general said: “We tried burning them with white phosphorous — it didn’t work.” After accusations surfaced of western forces (and the Taliban) harming civilians with white phosphorus munitions the Afghan government launched an investigation.
In a much more aggressive use of this chemical, Israeli forces fired white phosphorus shells during its January 2009 Operation Cast Lead that left some 1,400 Palestinians dead. Ottawa cheered on this 22-day onslaught against Gaza and the Conservatives have failed to criticize Israel for refusing to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention.
For decades the massive Suffield Base in Alberta was one of the largest chemical and biological weapons research centres in the world. A 1989 Peace Magazine article explained, “For almost 50 years, scientists from the Department of National Defence have been as busy as beavers expanding their knowledge of, and testing agents for, chemical and biological warfare (CBW) in southern Alberta.”
Initially led by Canadian and British scientists/soldiers, gradually the US military played a bigger role in the chemical weapons research at Suffield. A chemical warfare school began there in 1942 and it came to light that in 1966 US Air Force jets sprayed biological weapons simulants over Suffield to figure out how best to spray potentially fatal diseases on people. Until at least 1989 there were significant quantities of toxins, including sarin, stockpiled at the Alberta base. In 2006 former Canadian soldiers who claim to have been poisoned at Suffield launched a class action lawsuit against the Department of National Defense.
During the war in Vietnam, the US tested agents orange, blue, and purple at CFB Gagetown. A 1968 U.S. Army memorandum titled “defoliation tests in 1966 at base Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada” explained: “The department of the army, Fort Detrick, Maryland, has been charged with finding effective chemical agents that will cause rapid defoliation of woody and Herbaceous vegetation. To further develop these objectives, large areas similar in density to those of interest in South East Asia were needed. In March 1965, the Canadian ministry of defense offered Crops Division large areas of densely forested land for experimental tests of defoliant chemicals. This land, located at Canadian forces base Gagetown, Oromocto, New Brunswick, was suitable in size and density and was free from hazards and adjacent cropland. The test site selected contained a mixture of conifers and deciduous broad leaf species in a dense undisturbed forest cover that would provide similar vegetation densities to those of temperate and tropical areas such as South East Asia.”
Between 1962 and 1971 US forces sprayed some 75,000,000 litres of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. One aim was to deprive the guerrillas of cover by defoliating forests and rural land. Another goal of these defoliation efforts was to drive peasants from the countryside to the US dominated cities, which would deprive the national resistance forces of their food supply and rural support.
In addition to assisting chemical warfare by testing Agent Orange, during the Vietnam war Canadian manufacturers sold the US military “polystyrene, a major component in napalm,” according to the book Snow Job. A chemical agent that can cause deadly burns, Napalm was widely deployed by US forces in their war against Southeast Asia.
This deadly chemical agent was also used during the Korean War, which saw 27,000 Canadian troops go to battle. A New York Times reporter, George Barrett, described the scene in a North Korean village after it was captured by US-led forces in February 1951: “A napalm raid hit the village three or four days ago when the Chinese were holding up the advance, and nowhere in the village have they buried the dead because there is nobody left to do so. This correspondent came across one old women, the only one who seemed to be left alive, dazedly hanging up some clothes in a blackened courtyard filled with the bodies of four members of her family.
“The inhabitants throughout the village and in the fields were caught and killed and kept the exact postures they had held when the napalm struck — a man about to get on his bicycle, fifty boys and girls playing in an orphanage, a housewife strangely unmarked, holding in her hand a page torn from a Sears Roebuck catalogue crayoned at Mail Order No. 3,811,294 for a $2.98 ‘bewitching bed jacket — coral.’ There must be almost two hundred dead in the tiny hamlet.”
This NYT story captured the attention of Canadian External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson. In a letter to the Canadian ambassador in Washington, Hume Wrong, he wondered how it might affect public opinion and complained about it passing US media censors. “[Nothing could more clearly indicate] the dangerous possibilities of United States and United Nations action in Korea on Asian opinion than a military episode of this kind, and the way it was reported. Such military action was possibly ‘inevitable’ but surely we do not have to give publicity to such things all over the world. Wouldn’t you think the censorship which is now in force could stop this kind of reporting?”
No one denies that tens of thousands of liters of napalm were employed by UN forces in Korea. The use of biological weapons is a different story.
After the outbreak of a series of diseases at the start of 1952, China and North Korea accused the US of using biological weapons. Though the claims have neither been conclusively substantiated or disproven — some internal documents are still restricted — in Orienting Canada, John Price details the Canadian external minister’s highly disingenuous and authoritarian response to the accusations, which were echoed by some Canadian peace groups. While publicly highlighting a report that exonerated the US, Pearson concealed a more informed External Affairs analysis suggesting biological weapons could have been used. Additionally, when the Ottawa Citizen revealed that British, Canadian, and US military scientists had recently met in Ottawa to discuss biological warfare, Pearson wrote the paper’s owner to complain. Invoking national security, External Affairs “had it [the story] killed in the Ottawa Journal and over the CP [Canadian Press] wires.”
Price summarizes: “Even without full documentation, it is clear that the Canadian government was deeply involved in developing offensive weapons of mass destruction, including biological warfare, and that Parliament was misled by Lester Pearson at the time the accusations of biological warfare in Korea were first raised. We know also that the US military was stepping up preparations for deployment and use of biological weapons in late 1951 and that Canadian officials were well aware of this and actively supported it. To avoid revealing the nature of the biological warfare program and Canadian collaboration, which would have lent credence to the charges leveled by the Chinese and Korean governments, the Canadian government attempted to discredit the peace movement.”
International efforts to ban chemical weapons and to draw a “red line” over their use are a step forward for humanity. But this effort must include an accounting and opposition to Canada and its allies’ use of these inhumane weapons.
To have any credibility a country preaching against the use of chemical weapons must be able to declare: “Do as I do.”
Yves Engler is the author of Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt. His latest book is The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy.
The extremism of Canada’s support for Israel just keeps growing.
The latest example is the Conservative government in Ottawa helping convince theEuropean Union to list Hizballah’s military wing as a “terrorist” organization. After that decision was taken, Foreign Minister John Baird declared, “We are thrilled that the European Union unanimously has agreed to designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization. We’ve been pushing for this.”
The National Post detailed Canada’s behind-the-scenes effort to get the EU to list Hizballah as a “terrorist” organization. Despite opposition from the Lebanese government, a foreign ministry official told the paper that this was “a clear priority that was set out by the minister.”
Canadian diplomats held bilateral talks with various European countries and also pushed for Hizballah to be listed at numerous multilateral meetings. At both a recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime meeting and a UN conference on radicalization in Europe, Canadian officials pressed key EU officials to define Hizballah as a “terrorist” group (“Canada pushed EU to add Hezbollah to list of banned terrorist organizations, official says,” 24 July 2013).
Canadian law enforcement and security officials were also part of the lobbying effort. Reportedly, they’ve been feeding their European counterparts information about the supposed threat Hizballah poses to both Canada and Europe.
The Conservatives push to get the EU to list Hizballah was given a boost when six Israelis were killed in Bulgaria in July last year. Within hours of the bus bombing, Israel claimed Hizballah was responsible, yet more than a year later it’s still unclear exactly who committed this crime.
With a Canadian passport holder allegedly implicated in the bombing, Ottawa jumped at the opportunity to get involved in the investigation. Presumably, Canadian investigators shared information with their Bulgarian counterparts designed to steer them towards the conclusion that Hizballah was responsible.
In response to the EU listing its military wing as a terrorist group the Hizballah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said: “Why don’t you classify the state of Israel as a terror state? Why don’t you classify Israel’s military wing … as a terror organization if you recognize Israel is occupying Arab lands and refuses to implement international decisions for decades now? The entire world bares witness to the massacres perpetrated by Israel” (“Nasrallah to EU: Why not brand IDF as terror group?,” Ynet, 24 July).
Nasrallah raises an important point that Canadian foreign affairs professionals must be familiar with. It’s a simple fact that Israeli forces have killed far more civilians than the military wing of Hizballah.
The Israeli military and its allies in Lebanon have killed thousands of civilians. In fact, Hizballah was created in large part to fight the Israeli occupation of that country. Israel has conducted scores of targeted assassinations in many countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Certainly, Canadian foreign affairs officials must remember Gerald Bull. This Canadian engineer and designer of the Iraqi “supergun” was, according to CBC journalist Linden MacIntyre, shot dead by Israel’s secret service Mossad outside his residence inBelgium in 1990 (“Murdered by the Mossad?”, CBC The Fifth Estate, 12 February 1991).
And what about members of the current Israeli government who support illegal settlers and the killing of dozens of Palestinian civilians?
But apparently none of this “terrorism” bothers Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government. The Conservatives are either ignorant or relish their hypocrisy.
Though they are allowed to support the Israeli military, Canadians can go to jail for sending money to a group operating a school or medical clinic in Lebanon “directly or indirectly” associated with Hizballah, which comprises an important part of the Lebanese governmental and social service structure.
Dozens of Canadian companies sell to the Israeli army and many groups with charitable status promote the Israeli military. The Canadian Jewish News is full of advertisements for such groups: “Express your Zionism by serving as a civilian volunteer on an Israeli army supply base,” reads one ad. Another advertiser, the Libi Fund, runs educational projects for the Israeli military.
Established in 1971 the Association for the Soldiers of Israel in Canada also provides financial and moral support to the Israeli military. A June 2009 Canadian Jewish Newsad promoting the group invited readers to “show your support for the brave youth of the IDF at our gala dinner.”
Prominent Toronto couple Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, who own or control more than two thirds of Chapters/Indigo/Coles bookstores, created the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers. Reisman and Schwartz provide up to $3 million per year for post-military scholarships to individuals without family in Israel who join the Israeli army. After completing their military service these non-Israeli “lone soldiers” gain access to this scholarship money.
For the Israeli high command (Heseg’s board has included a number of generals and a former head of Mossad) “lone soldiers” are of value beyond their military capacities. Foreigners volunteering to fight for Israel are a powerful symbol to reassure Israelis weary of Israel’s behavior. Schwartz and Reisman’s support for Heseg has spurred a campaign to boycott Chapters/Indigo/Coles, which controls 70 percent of Canada’s retail book trade.
The Harper government is plowing full steam ahead with its support for Israel. Double standards and morality be damned.
A superior court of general jurisdiction in Canada has ordered the government to release millions of documents on its residential school system, which will reveal secrets of abuse and torture of aboriginal children at government-funded schools, Press TV reports.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered the government to hand over the documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
The Commission has said that the documents will allow the public, researchers and educators to learn more about what happened to the 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children, who were taken from their homes, often against their parents’ will.
“We knew of those records, which talked about the experiments of withholding food from children while they were in residential schools so the government could see what the impact of poor nutrition or malnutrition would be on people,” said Justice Murray Sinclair.
In addition, the documents are believed to reveal evidence of widespread sexual and mental abuse as well as torture of native children living at more than 130 government-funded residential schools.
The residential school system was launched in the 1870s and the last one closed in 1996.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government had initially denied the request, saying it was of no relevance and that it would be too costly.
The documents as well as thousands of statements from former aboriginal students are to be housed by the National Research Center at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
PressTVGlobalNews · July 19, 2013
It has been revealed that Canada’s Prime Minister Steven Harper has drawn up an “enemies list” identifying political opponents of the Conservative Party. Bureaucrats, judges and other members of the Canadian establishment are named on the list.
By Greg Felton | June 23, 2013
In the wee hours of June 17, 1972, a security guard at the Watergate Hotel found some door latches taped over to prevent them from locking. He removed the tape but later found it had been replaced. He called Washington D.C. police, who proceeded to catch five “burglars” conducting an illegal surveillance operation inside the office of the Democratic National Committee. As it happened, the name of President Richard Nixon’s White House security consultant E. Howard Hunt was in the address book of two of the burglars.
Ultimately, the burglars along with two White House functionaries, were convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and violation of federal wiretapping laws. On Aug. 9, 1974, Nixon resigned the presidency to avoid inevitable impeachment, but not for the break-in itself. He faced impeachment for his attempt to cover it up.
From this event 41 years ago this month, “Watergate” entered the language as a metonymy for “self-destructive illegal act of political hubris”. Now, Canada’s reigning autocrat Stephen Harper has created his own “Watergate” nightmare by trying to cover up a Senate spending scandal.
It all started when the glabrous Sen. Mike Duffy got caught claiming $90,172 in illegitimate living expenses, much of which was incurred during the last election campaign. In the grand fiscal scheme of things the amount was rather minor; not so minor was the image of a senator, a Harper-appointed senator, causing scorn and shame to rain on Harper and his imperious reign.
Harper runs the country like his personal fiefdom, dictating policy like, well, a dictator, which means that anything that might shed a critical light on his hyper-centralized, unconstitutional despotism cannot be tolerated. Therefore, instead of admitting Duffy’s venial impropriety and throwing him under the bus, Harper, like Nixon, thought he could cover it up, such is the hubris that infects those who think themselves invulnerable and above the law.
Harper might not have been aware of Duffy’s illegitimate expense claims, just as there was no conclusive evidence that Nixon ordered the Watergate break in, which turned out to be largely the doing of White House counsel John Dean. Yet for reasons of ego, paranoia or both, both leaders felt threatened and proceeded to obstruct justice.
What Harper and his minions did to disguise Duffy’s dubious declarations is no less criminal than what Nixon and his staff did to cover up the Watergate break in. From the following it will be clear that Harper must be charged under Section 119 of the Criminal Code of Canada. If the rule of law is still operable in Canada, Harper, like Nixon, must face impeachment.
CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA
CORRUPTION AND DISOBEDIENCE
|(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, directly or indirectly, corruptly accepts, obtains, agrees to accept or attempts to obtain, for themselves or another person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by them in their official capacity, or
|(b) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives or offers to a person mentioned in paragraph (a), or to anyone for the benefit of that person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by that person in their official capacity. (Emphases mine)|
Even though impeachment in the U.S and Canada are constitutionally different matters, a comparison between the Watergate cover up and the Duffy scandal is apt and instructive.
As a result of the break-in, the public learned that Nixon secretly taped all conversations in the oval office. Citing executive privilege, Nixon steadfastly refused to turn over any tapes to the Senate Watergate Committee. That privilege ended on July 24, 1974, when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Nixon had to surrender the tapes. One tape, dated June 23, 1972—a mere six days after the break-in—showed Nixon and his aide H.R. “Bob” Haldeman discussing how to obstruct the FBI investigation into the burglary to prevent the money trail being traced back to the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP).
This admission of obstruction became known as “the smoking gun” that led to one of the three articles of impeachment. It proved that Nixon not only lied when he claimed not to know anything about the break in, but that he had obstructed justice from the outset. The consistent lying led the clamour for his resignation, and the proof of obstruction forced it.
1) On Feb. 17, 2013, nine days after the Senate initiates an outside audit of three senators’ expenses, Stephen Harper declares in the House of Commons that Sen. Mike Duffy met the residency requirements to be a senator from Prince Edward Island. Five days later, Duffy reports that he and his wife would voluntarily repay living expenses claimed against their primary residence in Ottawa. The repayment makes no sense if the residency claim were valid as Harper claimed.
Clearly Harper misled the House, which is defined as Contempt of Parliament, and for that he can be censured. By convention any minister found guilty of misleading the House resigns although Harper could continue in office even if censured since censure does not amount to a vote of non-confidence.
2) Not only did Harper mislead Parliament, but his senators obstructed justice and sanitized a critical report. First, the Senate reported on May 7 that Duffy violated “very clear [and] unambiguous” residency rules. The next day, two Harperites on The Senate Committee on Internal Economy forced a rewrite to remove condemnation of Duffy and to claim (absurdly) that the Senate’s long-standing residency rules are “unclear.” One key senator, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, is a former press secretary to Harper and was his political advisor for more than 10 years, so a conflict-of-interest investigation into her conduct is also in order.
This deliberate excision of key information reminds us somewhat of the infamous missing 18.5 minutes from one of the Nixon tapes. Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, claimed that she was stretching to reach something one day and her leg “accidentally” erased part of an incriminating tape. John Dean, remembers that it was the day he told Nixon the burglars wanted hush money:
|“The president said, ‘Well, how much will it cost?’ and I said, ‘It’s gonna cost $1 million.’ And the president said to me, ‘Well, John, I know where we can get that.’ As soon as I left the office, he went in to see Rose Mary and ask her if she had any money. It got picked up on the taping machine.”|
Payment of hush money to obstruct justice and protect the government leader, or at least the appearance thereof, can also be seen in the Duffy scandal. On March 26 Deloitte received a letter from Duffy’s lawyer stating that the expenses had been repaid and that Duffy would no longer co-operate with the audit into his finances. He later stated (May 14) that he took out a loan to repay the debt. However, on May 17, Harper’s office admitted that Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright cut Duffy a personal cheque for the full amount, calling it a “personal gift”. Harper denies any knowledge of the cheque, even though his office knows of, and confirms, its existence.
The ineptitude is mind boggling:
1) Duffy’s own government, in effect, calls him a liar.
2) No rational explanation exists for Wright going out-of-pocket to the tune of $90,000-odd to bail out someone he barely knew. What was his motive? Wright’s actions do make sense if Harper wanted to use him to provide a clandestine, untraceable way to pay off Duffy’s debt as a quid pro quo for Duffy’s refusal to continue co-operating with the audit, which would, among other things, expose Harper’s lie in the House. In fact this is what happened.
During a withering attack during Question Period on May 28, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair grilled Harper on an e-mail from Duffy stating that after being paid $90,000 Duffy stayed silent on orders of the prime minister’s office. Mulcair asked Harper to tell the House who told Duffy to remain silent. Harper begged ignorance, claiming he wasn’t privy to the e-mail, though this strains credulity to the breaking point.
An embarrassing cheque and sacrificed subordinates also featured in the Watergate scandal. On the June 23 tape, we learn that a $25,000 cashier’s cheque from a Nixon campaign donor wound up in the bank account of Watergate burglar Bernard Barker:
|Haldeman: “They’ve traced it to a name, but they haven’t gotten to the guy yet.”
Nixon: “Who is it? Is it somebody here?”
Haldeman: “Ken Dahlberg.”
Nixon: “Who the hell is Ken Dahlberg?”
Haldeman: “He’s a—he gave $25,000 in Minnesota and the check went directly in to this guy Barker.… It’s directly traceable, and there’s some more through some Texas people in—that went to the Mexican bank which they can also trace through the Mexican bank.”
Nixon then hatched a cover story to obscure the provenance of the cheque.
|Nixon: “…when you open that scab there’s a hell of a lot of things and then ‘we just feel that this would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further, that this involves these Cubans, and Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves.’…”|
Ten months later, on April 30, 1973, top White House staffers Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resign over the scandal. Dean is fired. Yet, these removals did not stop the probe into Nixon’s role.
In addition to Nigel Wright, further political corpses can be expected to pile up as the RCMP investigate the matter, an investigation that must lead to Harper. When this happens, Duffy, Stewart-Olsen and other minions will be fired or expected to fall on their swords to shield their boss. In Duffy’s case, this is virtually inevitable, given that his repeated prevarications about the cancellation of his debt make him an irredeemable liability. Such removals, though, would not save Harper.
The original scandal is now secondary to the larger issue of Harper’s misleading Parliament and obstructing justice, which must inevitably lead to a criminal investigation.
The Smoking Gun
Just as the June 23, 1972, tape shattered Nixon’s claims of ignorance of the break in, Nigel Wright’s cheque is the “smoking gun” that should bring down Harper.
• The cheque itself proves that Harper lied to Parliament on Feb. 17.
• The cheque implicates Harper’s office in a cover up.
• The cheque implicates Harper’s office in the obstruction of an outside forensic audit.
• The cheque amounts to a de facto bribe because Duffy’s silence, as revealed by Mulcair, appears to be bought.
On March 21, 1973, Dean told Nixon that the cover up was a cancer close to the presidency that was compounding itself. In the prime minister’s office a similar cancer is compounding itself. Whereas the U.S. Senate went through lengthy hearings to vote to impeach Nixon, the governor-general could impeach Harper in an instant.
Under the Constitution, the governor-general, as head of state, appoints the prime minister to form a government, and as such can just as quickly fire him. Despite the fact that the office is largely ceremonial, it still retains residual constitutional powers inherited from Great Britain that give the governor-general the right to dismiss a sitting prime minister, even if that should trigger an election.
Donald Johnston, Canada’s current governor-general, has a constitutional and moral duty to impeach Harper and end the cancer of corruption. He must be compelled to do so. The integrity of our system of government depends upon it.
For a select chronology of Stephen Harper’s Watergate, click here.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised to toughen the expense rules of the Senate of Canada following a scandal that led to the resignation of his chief of staff.
Harper also called for the prevention of any loops in the law on Tuesday morning before leaving for South America.
“I don’t think any of you are going to be very surprised to hear that I’m not happy. I’m very upset about some conduct we have witnessed, the conduct of some parliamentarians and the conduct of my own office,” Harper said, referring to the scandal.
On May 19, Nigel Wright, Harper’s chief of staff, announced resignation after it was revealed on May 14 that he had secretly given a check of 90,000 Canadian dollars (about USD 87,000) to conservative Senator Mike Duffy apparently for the purpose of helping him repay housing expenses.
Wright said in a statement that he had decided to quit “in light of the controversy surrounding my handling of matters involving Senator Duffy.”
Duffy and another senator, Pamela Wallin, resigned from the Conservative Party on Thursday and on Friday respectively. Wallin is involved in a controversy regarding her travel expenses. The Canadian senator awaits the outcome of an audit into her own travel expenses, which is claimed to have been USD 321,000 since September 2010.
This picture shows Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands after a joint press conference on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, March 2, 2012.
The world is taking note of the ruling Conservatives’ shameful betrayal of Canada’s once admirable reputation as a fair country, sincerely working on the world stage to improve the lot of the disadvantaged and suffering.
In the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, Canada was criticized to such an extent that the Council decided to send the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and representatives of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to investigate.
Minister of Foreign Affairs spokesman Joseph Lavoie dismissed complaints by
*China of “widespread racial discrimination”,
*Iran of “child sexual exploitation and trafficking, the right to food, discriminatory law and regulation against indigenous people and minority groups including Muslim, Arab and African communities”,
*Pakistan of “increased poverty and unemployment rate among immigrant communities”,
*Egypt of “racial profiling in law-enforcement action”, and
*Cuba of “racism and xenophobia” in Canada,
insisting that “Canada has a track record of being a human rights leader, at home and around the world.”
The visits come at an awkward moment for the Conservatives, as it makes a public display of victimizing Muslims as part of a campaign to ram through the “Combating Terrorism Act” (Bill S-7), which gives the state extraordinary powers to detain suspects without any charges and without any legal protections for up to a year.
This sorry state of Canadian political life is the fruit of the Conservatives’ slavish obedience to every US whim, and of its decision to abandon any pretense of an independent foreign policy, making all decisions in consultation with Israeli advisers under the public security cooperation “partnership” signed in 2008 by Canada and Israel to “protect their respective countries’ population, assets and interests from common threats”. Israel security agents now officially assist Canada’s security services, the RCMP and CSIS, in profiling Canadian citizens who are Muslims and monitoring individuals and/or organizations in Canada involved in supporting the rights of Palestinians and other such nefarious activities. Even the usually timid UN is appalled.
The past two weeks of public spectacle could be lifted from a perverse Alice-in-Wonderland scenario. The latest claim to have uncovered a dastardly scheme by Muslim furriners plotting to explode weapons of mass destruction came just a week after the now legendary Boston bombing. Both incidents were dramatically unfolded to a gullible public as classic ‘good vs evil’, though neither holds water.
Canadian authorities boasted Monday afternoon that, working in concert with the FBI and other US national security agencies, they had broken up a terrorist conspiracy involving an “Iranian-based al-Qaeda cell”. The announcement, made at an RCMP press conference, came out of the blue, just days after the Boston bombing, and a few days after the House of Commons agenda was changed to debate final reading of the draconian anti-terrorism legislation.
On cue, US Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson hailed the action as “the result of extensive cross-border cooperation” showing “that we face serious and real threats.” The men were arrested in a Hollywoodesque fashion–Chiheb Esseghaier while eating at McDonald’s in Montreal’s main train station; Raed Jason, by scores of police armed with rifles and accompanied by search-dogs at his workplace in the Toronto borough of North York. They were charged with conspiracy to bomb a New York-bound Via passenger train, though the RCMP conceded that there had never been an imminent threat of an attack or even a definite plan, that Esseghaier and Jaser have been under police radar since last August (based on a year-old tip from an imam), and that their alleged crimes date back to last year.
The reason for their delayed and then sudden arrest is beyond a doubt the notorious Bill S-7, a bill that was forced on Canada by Big Brother in post-911 2001, and which was not renewed in 2007 thanks to Liberal opposition (they originally passed it and then had enough sense to oppose it). The Conservative government suddenly changed the House of Commons agenda as US authorities placed Boston under martial law. The Canadian copycat arrests clearly are intended to add a Canadian pretext for proceeding with Bill S-7, while showing that “We are all Americans now.”
This episode calls to mind the terrorist scare in 2006, when the RCMP staged the dramatic arrest of 18 young Muslims, whom they accused of preparing extensive terrorist attacks, including blowing up the parliament buildings. During the trial, it emerged that the “Toronto 18” was riddled with police agents, one providing the arms instruction at a “terrorist training camp” while another providing harmless bomb-making ingredients. Nevertheless, eleven were convicted and most given lengthy prison terms.
When Esseghaier, a Tunisian-born Montreal PhD student in nanotechnology, told the judge, “These conclusions are being reached based on facts that are nothing but words and appearances,” he was told to shut up, and the hearing was shut down. Jaser’s lawyer John Norris said his client was “in a state of shock and disbelief” and “intends to defend himself vigorously”. Norris took exception to the police’s attempt to present his client as a non-Canadian, noting that the Palestinian refugee has lived with his family in Canada for the past twenty years.
Is it just possible that UN Human Rights Council members read the ‘news’, are appalled, and are genuinely concerned about what’s happening to human rights in Canada?
Canadians’ plight is bad enough, but this recent orchestration of Islamophobia has another angle, just as appalling. The RCMP assertion that these damn furriners acted under the “direction and guidance” of “al-Qaeda elements located in Iran” is a blatant falsehood, as Iran (like Iraq before the US invasion) is probably the most anti-al-Qaeda country in the world. The fundamentalist al-Qaeda delights in killing Shia, was (and is?) supported by the US and financed by Canada’s enlightened Saudi oil-millionaire allies. So it’s not just a question of stripping Canadians of their rights, but of adding toxic fuel to the US-Israeli fires intended to launch war against peaceful (pro-Palestinian) Iran.
The RCMP admitted that they had no evidence of Iranian government involvement, but still… (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). When Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran last autumn, Foreign Minister John Baird labeled Iran “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today”. All Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast had to do was to point to the hypocrisy and cynicism of Canada’s government backing the campaign to overthrow the Syrian government -a campaign in which some of insurgents are openly aligned with al-Qaeda: “The same [al-Qaeda] current is killing people in Syria while enjoying Canada’s support.”
And what about the latest hit on the American 911 funny bone? Tamerlan Tsarnaev was under surveillance for four years by the FBI, who were asked by the Russian government to arrest him in 2010 (which they did not do). They do admit to interviewing him in 2011 and sifting through his computer files, but, remarkably for someone allegedly radicalized by the internet, they found nothing of concern. It’s not clear why Russia let him go to visit his parents in the center of terrorism (Dagestan) in Russia in 2012, where purportedly he received some form of terror training or further Islamist indoctrination. Nor how he managed to attend a workshop next door in hostile Georgia organized by the “Fund of the Caucasus” (which works with the US rightwing thinktank the Jamestown Foundation) focused on destabilizing the Caucasus region.
Were both the FBI and the Russian FSB asleep? Was Tamerlan an FBI operative? Was he set up to do the bombing, or did he go AWOL on the FBI? Is this Chechen connection intended to frighten Russia into acquiescing to US-Israeli plans for Syria? “This [official] scenario is simply impossible in the real world,” writes former UK Ambassador Craig Murray. In an interview with Russia Today, Tamerlan’s mother said, “‘They were set up, the FBI followed them for years.” Is this international intrigue-intended to scare both Russia and Iran into abandoning the beleaguered Syrian government -really what Canadian domestic human rights and foreign policy should be based on? Why should we trust Ambassador Jacobson’s blah-blah about “serious threats”?
Canadians are left with security forces eager to show they are doing something, a craven government intent on passing a draconian bill to take away freedoms, and a foreign policy based on a US-Israel obsession with finding some spark to ignite the latest war craze -attack Iran. The supposed pretext -Iran’s nuclear energy program- is after all wearing a tad thin. Peter Osborne in the Telegraph explained how the West has turned down one serious offer after another by Iran (two in 2005 alone), and argues that it is western rather than Iranian intransigence that prevents a deal being struck today. So if no one believes the cry of “Wolf!” on that boondoggle, then the next best thing is “al-Qaeda”. Hell, Bush got away with it against Iraq in 2003; maybe it will work again.
Iran poses only an ideological threat -telling the truth to the US-Israeli tyrant and inspiring Arab Springs.
As for being killed by a bona fide terrorist, the odds are 1 in 20 million, while every year, 4,600 Americans are killed in workplace-related accidents, and more than 30,000 are killed by gun violence. Every 28 hours a black person is killed by police, security guards or vigilantes. On Boston Marathon Day, six Pakistanis died in a drone strike, while scores were killed in car bombs in Iraq. I won’t even begin to recount the daily horrors inflicted by the US in Afghanistan.
Not that these latter crimes against humanity -committed by us- justify retributive violence in any religion, especially Islam. “You shall not be treacherous, you shall not deceive, you shall not mutilate, you shall not kill children.” But the fact that we in the West are unconcerned with preventing senseless deaths at home, and are unaware or don’t care about the murders committed daily in our name abroad, does not bode well for the future. Only when we stop perpetrating violence will violence against us end.
The JTA staff has published “In the spirit of the holiday season, … its annual ode to the non-Jews who helped write the Jewish story this past year.”1
I’m quite uncertain about the practice of 0.65 percent of the world’s population2 determining who outside of them is to be singled out as a “Gentile” of the year.
I never call myself a Gentile, and I’d prefer if other people not refer to me in a way I do not wish to be identified. Human is sufficient for me. I am a human just like every other member of Homo sapiens. I see no need to separate myself out. Admittedly, this poses a bit of a logical conundrum because my inclusive preference has already, in essence, separated me from those who wish to separate themselves from others. Other physical and behavioral traits will also allow others to categorize me relative to other humans. This is true. Despite all this, I remain human and so does every other person: Muslim, Jew, Hindi, Arab, European, Chinese, White, Black, Green, Blue, gay, old, young, female, male, etc.
Eleven individuals were selected by the JTA staff on the basis of what they are not: they are not Jews. They were also selected on the basis of how they served Jewish interests.
To become a “Gentile of the year” all French-born choreographer Benjamin Millepied had to do was marry one of Hollywood’s most fetching actresses — Natalie Portman. Obviously the bar is quite low for Gentiles to ingratiate themselves with JTA staff.
Actress Claire Danes just had to do her job, acting in the Showtime series Homeland, “an adaptation of an Israeli TV show,” part of which was filmed in Israel.
The deputy speaker of Hungary’s parliament, Istvan Ujhelyi, took a stand that was rightful and public. He showed solidarity with the country’s Jewish community against extremist right-wingers. One wonders, however, about the plight of the comparatively more downtrodden Roma in Hungary. Which politician will take a stand for them?
“NBC sportscaster Bob Costas took it upon himself to remember the slain athletes and coaches,” writes JTA. What kind of person only shows concern about certain slain people? Has Costas ever publicly held a moment of silence for the dispossessed Palestinians? Did he hold a moment of silence for the victims of Zionist Israel’s massacre of Gazans? Does Costas’s public silence to the murders of Palestinians (fellow humans) make him worthy of being singled out as a Gentile of the year?
Newt Gingrich, who calls Palestinians an “invented people,” was also singled out since he “stood his ground, however, saying he supported a negotiated peace but that the onus was on the Palestinians.” What kind of topsy-turvy world is it in which the dispossessed, the occupied, the oppressed have the onus for peace placed upon them by the dispossessors, occupiers, oppressors?
Singer Chaka Khan is a Gentile of the year for “raising $14 million to support the well-being of Israeli soldiers.” These soldiers are the lethal force of the dispossession, occupation, and oppression. Singer Stevie Wonder saw fit to back out of the concert benefiting occupation forces; Chaka Khan decided otherwise. For this she is singled out by JTA.
British tabloid reporters Brian Flynn and Ryan Parry proved “it’s never too late for justice.” They helped nab a suspected war criminal Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, 97, implicated in Jewish deaths during World War II. I share no sympathy for war criminals, and there is no statute of limitations on war crimes. That is something Israeli war criminals ought to bear in mind.
JTA considers Mohamed Morsi worthy of singling out for the importance he has and will have for Israel. Barack Obama is an important figure for Israel as well. Strangely enough, arch-Zionist collaborator Mahmoud Abbas was not “honored” as a Gentile of the year.
Special praise, however, was bestowed upon Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper:
an unabashed Israel supporter is an understatement. In the last few months, Harper has shuttered Canada’s embassy in Tehran, listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, personally pressured Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (unsuccessfully) to drop the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the United Nations and signed a series of defense pacts with Israel. Israeli President Shimon Peres has called him “an extraordinary friend.”
Yet Harper is extraordinarily biased against Palestinians. That is not surprising, as Harper also takes a strongly colonialist line against First Nations in Canada.
Couldn’t JTA come up with a worthier list from 99.35 percent of the planet’s population?
I am not much for lists of personalities. However, if I were to draw up a list of people, I would refrain from singling out a specific segment of humanity. First, I would attempt to determine what special traits should make people worthy for singling out on a list. I submit that those who dedicate themselves or sacrifice themselves for the good of the greater humanity are worthy of recognition.
- I propose the following list of humans to recognize. No particular ranking is meant to be imparted, and the list is not to be considered exhaustive:
- • peace activists
• anti-poverty activists
• supporters of the dignity of labor
• environmental activists
• resistance movements
• Indigenous rights activists
• supporters of LGBTQ rights
• justice/prison rights activists
• women’s rights supporters
There are many people toiling on behalf of others less fortunate in the world. It, therefore, seems remiss to focus on any one or a few persons. Ultimately, it is the mass of humanity that determines what kind of world we all live in. Apathy, inactivity, and insouciance are enemies of a Brave New World for which there are repercussions. Such surrender is very much partially to blame for why the world is beset by war, killing, massive inequality in income and wealth, resource exploitation for private profit with nary a regard for the wider public’s use and enjoyment of the environment, oppression, as well as other social injustices. Consequently, it is a must for a society inclined toward progressivism to cultivate the desired traits among the people that lead to the desired world.
- JTA Staff, “Gentiles of the Year 2012,” JTA, 28 December 2012.
- Aaron Kalman, “Global Jewish population grows by 88,000 over past year,” Times of Israel, 9 September 2012.
Kim Petersen can be reached at: email@example.com.
The Canadian government has reportedly ordered the scientific journals of the country not to publish articles authored by Iranian researchers and scientists.
Iranian academics, who had primarily received an acceptance from the journals, have received new messages that notified them of the journals’ decision not to publish their work due to recent policies adopted by the Canadian government.
In a recent move, the Canadian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing Research refused to publish an article by an Iranian assistant professor despite the earlier acceptance of the article.
The journal argued that it “will not be permitted to publish” the article as previously stated, citing the political and non-academic reasons. It said that Ottawa had closed down its mission in Tehran for what it called the “civil rights abuse of the citizens of Iran” and “the threat to the security of Canadian personnel and Israel.”
On September 7, the Canadian government closed its embassy in Tehran and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave Canada within five days.
In a statement, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada views Iran “as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world,” adding that Iran “routinely threatens the existence of Israel.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast censured Ottawa’s decision as undiplomatic and a move in line with the policies dictated by Israel.
“The hostile actions of the current racist Canadian government are in fact in line with the policies that are dictated by the Zionist regime (Israel) and the British government,” Mehmanparast said.
Pundits believe Canada’s move to sever diplomatic ties with Iran unveils Ottawa’s submissive attitude toward the Israeli regime.
“Canada’s abrupt move to sever all ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran manifestly springs from a strong Zionist sway which has permeated the political structure of the country,” Iranian academic Ismail Salami wrote in an op-ed published on Press TV website on September 11.
The analyst said that, governed as a constitutional monarchy with British Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, Canada could be viewed as a country “supporting colonizing regimes such as Israel and seeking to isolate the peaceful nation of Iran.”
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird have time and again expressed unconditional support for Israel, and are widely believed for dancing to every tune of Israel.
- Canada’s Palestinian Aid Programme Serving Israel’s Interests (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Iran condemns Canadian Gov’t for freezing its assets (EndtheLie.com)
Few aspects of Canadian foreign policy have been mentioned more times over the past two weeks than Ottawa’s 300 million dollar five year aid program to the Palestinians.
Ever since the Globe and Mail reported on November 26 that Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened Mahmoud Abbas that “there will be consequences” if he followed through on his plan to ask the UN General Assembly to upgrade Palestine’s status there has been a great deal of speculation about whether Canadian “aid” would be cut off. A quick Google search brings up hundreds of articles mentioning the 300 million dollars in funding yet none of them mention the highly politicized character of this “aid”.
After Hamas won legislative elections in January 2006 the Conservatives made Canada the first country (after Israel) to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority. When Hamas officials were ousted from the Palestinian unity government in June 2007, the Conservatives immediately contributed $8 million “in direct support to the new government.” Then in December 2007 the Conservatives announced a five-year $300 million aid program to the Palestinians, which was largely designed to serve Israel’s interests.
A Saint John Telegraph-Journal headline explained: “Canada’s aid to Palestine benefits Israel, foreign affairs minister says.” In January 2008 foreign minister Maxime Bernier said: “We are doing that [providing aid to the PA] because we want Israel to be able to live in peace and security with its neighbours.”
Most of the Canadian aid money has gone to building up a Palestinian security force overseen by a US general. The immediate impetus of the Canadian aid was to create a Palestinian security force “to ensure that the PA maintains control of the West Bank against Hamas,” as Canadian Ambassador to Israel Jon Allen was quoted as saying by the Canadian Jewish News. American General Keith Dayton, in charge of organizing a 10,000-member Palestinian security force, even admitted that he was strengthening Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah against Hamas, telling a US audience in May 2009 his force was “working against illegal Hamas activities.” According to Al Jazeera, between 2007 and early 2011 PA security forces arrested some 10,000 suspected Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
The broader aim of the US-Canada-Britain initiated Palestinian security reform was to build a force to patrol Israel’s occupied territories. In a 2011 profile of Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Allison, “Dayton’s chief of liaison in the West Bank” for a year, his hometown newspaper reported: “The Dayton team was concerned with enhancing security on the West Bank of Palestine and was all geared towards looking after and ensuring the security of Israel, said Ron.”
“We don’t provide anything to the Palestinians,” noted Dayton, “unless it has been thoroughly coordinated with the state of Israel and they agree to it.” For instance, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, the Shin-Bet, vets all of the Palestinian recruits.
The Israelis supported Dayton’s force as a way to keep the West Bank population under control. Like all colonial authorities throughout history Israel looked to compliant locals to take up the occupation’s security burden. In a December 2011 article titled “[Ehud] Barak admires PA security forces for protecting [Israeli] settlers [in the West Bank]” a Palestinian news agency described an interview the Israeli defence minister gave to a Hebrew radio station.
Writing in a July 2011 issue of the London Review of Books Adam Shatz explained: “The PA already uses the American-trained National Security Force to undermine efforts by Palestinians to challenge the occupation. (Hamas, in Gaza, has cracked down on protest even more harshly.) ‘They are the police of the occupation,’ Myassar Atyani, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told me. ‘Their leadership is not Palestinian, it is Israeli.’ On 15 May – the day Palestinians commemorate their Nakba [the 1948 destruction of Palestinian society] – more than a thousand Palestinians, mainly young men, marched to the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem and clashed with Israeli soldiers; but when Atyani tried to lead a group of demonstrators to the Hawara checkpoint outside Nablus, PA security forces stopped them. The road from Ramallah to Qalandia is in Area C, which is not controlled by the PA; the road from Nablus to Hawara is in Area A, which is. And protesters who have attempted to march to settlements along PA-controlled roads have also found themselves turned back. It is an extraordinary arrangement: the security forces of a country under occupation are being subcontracted by third parties outside the region to prevent resistance to the occupying power, even as that power continues to grab more land. This is, not surprisingly, a source of considerable anger and shame in the West Bank.”
The Palestinian security force is largely trained in Jordan at the US- built International Police Training Center (created to train Iraqi security after the 2003 invasion). In October 2009 the Wall Street Journal reported: “[Palestinian] recruits are trained in Jordan by Jordanian police, under the supervision of American, Canadian, and British officers.” The number of military trainers in the West Bank varied slightly but in mid-2010 18 Canadian troops worked with six British and ten US soldiers under Dayton’s command. “The Canadian contribution is invaluable,” explained Dayton. Canadians are particularly useful because “US personnel have travel restrictions when operating in the West Bank. But, our British and Canadian members do not.” Calling them his “eyes and ears” Dayton said: “The Canadians … are organized in teams we call road warriors, and they move around the West Bank daily visiting Palestinian security leaders, gauging local conditions.”
Part of the US Security Coordinator office in Jerusalem, the Canadian military mission in the West Bank (dubbed Operation PROTEUS) includes RCMP officers as well as officials from Foreign Affairs, Justice Canada and the Canadian Border Services Agency. In a September 2010 interview with the Jerusalem Post then deputy foreign minister Peter Kent said Operation PROTEUS was Canada’s “second largest deployment after Afghanistan” and it receives “most of the money” from the five-year $300 million Canadian “aid” program to the Palestinians. During a visit to Israel in February, foreign minister John Baird told the Globe and Mail he was “incredibly thrilled” by the West Bank security situation, which he said benefited Israel.
In effect, Canada has helped to build a security apparatus to protect a corrupt PA led by Mahmoud Abbas, whose electoral mandate expired in January 2009, but whom the Israeli government prefers over Hamas.
Don’t expect the Conservative government to sever this “aid”.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under fire for skipping the 67th session of the UN General Assembly to attend a private ceremony where he received an award from a Jewish-sponsored organization.
Passing up the opportunity to address the General Assembly, Harper chose to receive the New York-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF) award from former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Thursday.
The Canadian official seized the opportunity to level criticism at the UN and accused its members of using the world body as a “forum to single out Israel for criticism.”
Harper further added that the policies of the Israeli regime are not to blame for “the pathologies present in that part of the world,” while reaffirming Canada’s support for Tel Aviv.
However, the Canadian prime minister’s decision not to speak at the opening of the General Assembly drew harsh criticism in Canada from opposition leaders, who called the move “absolutely ridiculous.”
“I think the message is that Canada, that the Harper government doesn’t care about the United Nations,” said Bob Rae, the interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
This is the second consecutive year that Harper has shunned the UN event, preferring to send Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in his place.
Many in Canada are concerned about Harper’s conservative policies as he is also accused of locking his government behind a wall of secrecy, defunding democratic institutions and giving away Canada’s sovereignty to the UK and the Israeli regime.