This article was originally published on March 5, 2019 on Rabble Canada.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
This article was originally published on September 4, 2017 on Rabble.ca.
For years, Israel's apologists have made headlines accusing the Palestinians of using anti-Semitic textbooks. Recently, the battle came to Canada when B'nai Brith attacked the government's decision to fund the UN aid organization for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), suggesting UNRWA school textbooks demonized Israel. It is a cynical strategy which grabs headlines when announced, but fails to make the news when such allegations are debunked.
When exploring the most recent incarnation of these accusations, it's important to mention a few realities conveniently omitted by Israel's champions. First, UNRWA has never been in the business of producing textbooks. Instead, UNRWA schools use the textbooks and curricula of the countries which host the refugees, i.e. the textbooks of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Gaza; and the textbooks of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon in those countries. This is because students who advance in their studies must inevitably sit for local exams.Read more
This article was originally published on July 14, 2017 on Huffington Post Canada.
This article was also published on July 14, 2017 on Rabble.ca.
With the recent flip-flop of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on the labelling and sale of West Bank wines in Canada, it's easy to wonder whose interest the agency serves. On July 6, CFIA issued a directive to all Canadian liquor boards which some interpreted as necessitating a ban on the sale of two wines that CFIA considered falsely labelled as "Made in Israel." CFIA made a compelling argument, citing Canada's Food and Drugs Act, and the Government of Canada's official policy on the status of the West Bank.
This decision was triggered by a formal complaint launched by Dr. David Kattenburg of Winnipeg, and affected wines from Psȃgot Winery Ltd. and Shiloh Winery Ltd. In his complaint, Kattenburg demonstrated that both wineries are operating in the West Bank, and not in Israel proper, and neither winery uses grapes harvested in Israel, in violation of CFIA labelling regulations.Read more
This article was originally published on May 26, 2017 in the Toronto Sun.
Earlier this week, the Toronto Sun published an op-ed entitled, “NDP MP Niki Ashton has made her priorities clear.” While I disagree with virtually everything the op-ed sought to assert, I do agree with the title, as indeed, it is clear that the rights of the oppressed are the priority in Ms. Ashton’s distinguished political career.
Since she won her seat in Parliament in 2008, Ms. Ashton has been a champion for a broad variety of social issues. She has spoken out repeatedly for the rights of women, and how women suffer wage discrimination and other systemic obstacles in Canada. She has also long been a proponent of LGBTQ rights, supporting same-sex marriage and other social rights for such groups since the beginning of her political career.Read more
This article was originally published on April 18, 2017 on Ricochet.
Canadians should be proud to have hosted Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai last week. She is an inspiration not only for what she has accomplished in her brief 19 years on earth, but for the causes she represents and defends: foremost the right for all girls around the world to have access to education. Her wisdom, humility and poise before Canada’s Parliament should be an inspiration to all: men and women, young and old alike.
But hosting someone such as Yousafzai is about more than just photo ops, and “feel good” press statements. It should be cause for reflection on our own action – or inaction – on the issues she raises. And for all practical purposes, Canada’s political leaders are worlds apart from Yousafzai.Read more