The Liberals’ Feminist Foreign Policy is not Compatible with “Business as Usual”

This article was originally published on March 7, 2019 on Rabble Canada.

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The Trudeau government’s emphasis on a feminist foreign policy was first articulatedin a speech by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in June 2016.  A year later, the Trudeau government announced its Feminist International Assistance Policy, intended to allocate 15% of Canada’s $2.6 billion development assistance to support gender equality, women and girls by 2022.

As International Women’s Day 2019 rolls around, pundits continue to debate the effectiveness of Trudeau’s vision for international development, whether it has sufficient funding, and whether it is properly conceived.  But such considerations may be moot if the government continues a “business as usual” approach in other sectors.

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The Liberal Government's Troubled Relationship with the Rule of Law

This article was originally published on March 5, 2019 on Rabble Canada.

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Invocations of the "rule of law" are reassuring to many Canadians.  Implicit is the sense that, young or old, weak or powerful, we are all equal before the law.  A rich person who has committed a crime will be punished; a poor person who is wronged will have restitution. 

If only it were so.

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Trudeau's "Feminism" Just Ain't Cutting It

This article was originally published on March 8, 2019 on Rabble Canada.

pm-intl-womens-day-20170308.jpgThis International Women's Day 2019, I cannot help but wonder what publicity stunt our "feminist" Prime Minister is sure to pull this year. Amidst revelations of alleged political interference on the SNC-Lavalin file, and the bullying of Former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, our "feminist" Prime Minister's true colours are beginning to show – and they aren't the bright pink hues he has sported in the past.

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Consultations On Islamophobia Are Not An Alternative To Action

This article was originally published on March 27, 2018 on Huffington Post Canada.

This article was originally published on March 24, 2018 on Rabble Canada.

It’s hard not to feel disappointed that the government’s response to last month’s M-103 report is, ironically, more consultations.  The M-103 report itself was the result of hearings with 77 witnesses. And despite being mandated to finish within six months, the M-103 report took almost a year to complete.  For the religious communities involved, it’s fair to question whether the government really cares to concretely address the problem of Islamophobia and religious discrimination in Canada.

Lest we forget, Parliament’s recent report on religious discrimination was launched as a result of motion M-103, debated one year ago in Parliament.  M-103 itself was motivated largely by an attack on a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, 2017 which left six Muslim Canadians dead.  Motion M-103 and its resulting report were not some sort of “academic exercise” to assess a hypothetical problem.  Rather, Islamophobia and religious discrimination were real problems which clearly were resulting in death, lost job opportunities, exclusion and division in Canadian society.

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The Conservatives' Jerusalem Promise Is Scheer Madness

This article was originally published on March 05, 2018 on Huffington Post Canada.

Last week, news broke that Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital if elected in 2019. Following in United States president Donald Trump's footsteps, Scheer chose to disregard decades of international law and consensus, proclaiming, "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel."

It doesn't seem to matter to Scheer that dozens of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have strongly condemned Trump's Jerusalem's decision as "reckless" and "provocative." It also doesn't seem to matter to Scheer that the majority of the world has agreed that altering the status of Jerusalem is unacceptable. Scheer's inflammatory Jerusalem promise lacks the principle and balance that we expect from experienced political representatives.

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In Case You Missed It, Parliament Issued Its M-103 Islamophobia Report

This article was originally published on March 04, 2018 on Rabble Canada.

This article was originally published on March 05, 2018 on Huffington Post Canada.

Given the brouhaha last year around Parliament’s Islamophobia motion M-103, the quasi indifference to its resulting report seems perplexing.  The motion itself repeatedly topped the news last year after initial Parliamentary debates in mid-February.  Yet when the motion’s summary report was issued last month – almost a year later – the most striking upshot was the general apathy.

The media and public ignored the fact that the report recommended that January 29th – the anniversary of the horrific 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting – be designated as a national day of remembrance and action on islamophobia.  This, just weeks after Liberal Quebec premier Philippe Couillard made headlines after siding with Quebec’s sovereigntist and conservative parties in opposing such a move.

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Is Singh’s NDP Prepared to Distinguish Itself?

This article was originally published on February 21, 2018 on Huffington Post Canada.

Coming out of its first policy convention under the leadership of Jagmeet Singh, there are mixed signals about whether the NDP has the will to distinguish itself in Canada’s political landscape.  Squeezed by Trudeau’s charm offensive from the political centre, Singh and his party will need to act decisively if they’re ever going to have the electoral impact of Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn or the US’ Bernie Sanders.

As many have suggested, Corbyn and Sanders garnered massive popular support because their ideas were radical enough to inspire new hope.  Becky Bond, an adviser to Sanders in 2016, argues, “When you can actually vote for the things you really believe in, then that really changes everything.”  By comparison, voters can be left flat when politicians suggest incremental solutions to vast global or national crises. 

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When Will Canadians Get The Anti-Islamophobia Measures They Want?

This article was originally published on February 07, 2018 on Huffington Post Canada.

Since 2012, Canada has witnessed a surge in anti-Muslim attitudes and incidents, culminating in the Quebec City mosque attack on Jan. 29, 2017, that left six Muslims dead, and 19 injured. Following the attack, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to support Muslims in Canada and asserted, "We will defend you ... and we will stand up for you."

M-103, a motion introduced last February by Liberal Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid, charged the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to conduct a study on how to reduce or eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia, in Canada. On February 1, nearly two years after almost 70,000 Canadians called on the government to condemn Islamophobia in parliamentary ePetition e-411, the M-103 report and recommendations were finally released to the public.

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Bill 62: Colonialism 101

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This article was originally published on November 10, 2017 on Huffington Post.

Quebec recently passed Bill 62, a discriminatory law that restricts individuals from covering their faces when receiving government services. While many Quebeckers and Canadians across the country have expressed outrage at the blatantly Islamophobic nature of this bill, this Islamophobia is inherently connected to a much larger, disturbing phenomenon – that of colonialism. 

Bill 62 does not exist in a vacuum. Yes, polarizing “Clash of Civilizations” theories and our “War on Terror” political climate have, in recent decades, seemingly sparked an increase in Islamophobia. However, Islamophobia, the racial and religious prejudice directed toward the Muslim “Other”, has deeper roots in colonial practices and discourses that have existed for centuries. 

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Canada Must Learn From Past Arms Sales Folly

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This article was originally published on November 14, 2017 on Rabble.ca and on November 17, 2017 on Huffington Post.

With each passing day, Canada’s sale to Saudi Arabia of $15 billion of light armoured vehicles looks more and more indefensible.  A damning Globe and Mail survey in September confirmed what the media and political opponents had been saying for years: 64 percent of Canadians “opposed” or “somewhat opposed” the sale of arms to a country notorious for its human rights abuses. 

Most Canadians know intuitively the deal was wrong despite government claims that Canada’s export controls are among the most stringent in the world.  Canadians opposed this deal despite being repeatedly reminded that thousands of well-paying jobs in London Ontario would be lost if Canada reneged.  While ex-Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion couldn’t make the connection between light armoured vehicles being used by the Saudis to violently suppress minority Shia protestors, Canadians being surveyed could. 

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