Saturday, November 23, 2013

When the right turns left on diversity

By Doug Saunders

Abroad, 'pro-immigrant' conservatives hope to emulate Stephen Harper's success

Does this sound familiar? A conservative political party, previously opposed to immigration and multiculturalism, realizes where its future lies and changes its policies, its message and some of its key faces in hopes of becoming the party of choice for racial and ethnic minorities.

This is increasingly the story of right-wing politics across the Western world, at least for the moment. It's what happened in Canada under Stephen Harper and in Britain under David Cameron. And now we seem to be watching the conservative diversity tide sweep into Germany.

The "pro-immigrant right" have not, to put it mildly, been a traditional force in continental European politics. But Chancellor Angela Merkel's efforts to form a coalition government this month have taken an interesting turn.

Ms. Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union appears to have accepted the idea, first proposed on the left, of permitting dual citizenship for Germans of immigrant background. It's a policy designed to appeal mainly to the roughly three million Turkish Germans. Her party once opposed it fiercely, but things have changed: The CDU has appointed a smattering of minorities, visible and religious, to important positions and has begun campaigning more heavily in immigrant districts.

"We're still a decade behind Canada and Britain in having conservative parties attract immigrants, but things are moving in that direction more quickly now," says Dr. Orkan Kosemen of the Bertelsmann Foundation.

In a study of Germany's major political parties Dr. Kosemen published this year, he found that Ms. Merkel's CDU has leapt after the minority vote most dramatically. Until 2005, her party and the centre-left opposition Social Democrats both viewed ethnic diversity mostly as a matter of "internal security." Then things changed: "The CDU is the German party which in recent years has had the biggest readjustment of its policy so that it can be for and about immigrants," Dr. Kosemen wrote.

Why would conservative parties embrace immigrant communities, after decades spent battling the left's embrace of them?

For one thing, because it wins elections: As the Republicans learned in the United States in 2008 and 2012, and Britain's Conservatives learned painfully in the 1990s and early 2000s, those immigrants and their offspring are important voters in key constituencies. There are 5.6-million voters, 9 per cent of those registered, with what Germans like to call "a migration background."

Second, these parties have realized it's inevitable that these groups will increase in number. A new study this week by the London-based European University Institute projects that European Union countries will lose a sixth of their working-age population by 2025 due to aging and small family sizes. An estimated 21.5-million immigrants will be needed to fill that gap.

And, finally, some party leaders have recognized that many immigrant communities are socially and economically conservative – religious, small-business-minded, just right for the right. If, that is, the right can keep its loudmouthed anti-immigration branch from speaking up and ruining the party.

And that's where the difficulties begin. When conservatives become immigration champions, they're gambling that the new, multihued voters won't collide headlong with the voters who join to oppose immigration and minority rights.

There are four possible outcomes.

The first has been encountered by Mr. Cameron: Party xenophobes flee to another, more conservative party – in Britain's case, the UK Independence Party, which is likely to win the most seats in next year's EU elections and could challenge him nationally. The second is what happened to George W. Bush, who tried, haltingly, to change his Republican Party by appointing minorities to top jobs and proposing citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In response, the GOP was taken over by its anti-immigrant branch, the Tea Party (and thus lost two elections in a row).

The third outcome is the one French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivered his conservatives: After an early lunge for minority voters, he was terrified to find an extreme-right party gaining on him – so he reversed himself and adopted the intolerant rhetoric and policies of the far right. That reversal also cost his party an election.

The fourth outcome is what Ms. Merkel and everyone else desires: Mr. Harper's position, where immigrant ridings fall to your party and the "send-'em-all-back-home" branch is too pleased by success to revolt. It will take time and study to determine whether that approach has actually worked. For now, though, it's what many conservatives are seeking.

Racism is prevalent, persisting and perpetually growing, experts warn

By Pam Douglas and Louie Rosella/Metroland Media Group

Nov 20, 2013 

PEEL — It’s something many of us don’t even think about. But just because you’ve never been a victim of racism doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in Peel.

Just ask the more than 430,000 Brampton and Mississauga residents who have been subjected to a racist act or comment.

According to a recent Forum Research poll conducted exclusively for The Brampton Guardian and The Mississauga News, 59 per cent of Peel’s “racialized” residents — the new term to replace the outdated “visible minorities” — say they have come face-to-face with racism in their community.

That translates to 431,300 of the 730,900 racialized residents living here.

In two cities where the racialized population is now the majority, in a country priding itself on multiculturalism and tolerance, that might come as a surprise.

Seemingly even more incongruous is that local experts say victimization is likely closer to 80 per cent.

“There’s definitely enough research to indicate that racism exists,” says Varsha Naik, chair of Peel’s Regional Diversity Roundtable. “Racism is prevalent, persisting and perpetually growing.”

By far the most common is what the experts call “everyday racism.”

They say it's often subliminal — body language, tone of voice, facial expression.

“Subliminal racism is when I know someone is under-serving me, as a racialized person, without any overt comment,” explains Christopher D’Souza, an equity and diversity advocate and author of children’s books. “It’s body language, it’s tone.”

As a classic example, he points to a recent report that a Swiss store clerk did not recognize Oprah Winfrey, but refused to show her a $38,000 purse and steered her toward cheaper handbags instead.

For racialized people already marginalized, the everyday racism they encounter cuts deep, and the hurt and pain become their unwanted baggage, and their unfortunate reality, according to the experts.

“Racism is multidimensional; it is never just linear,” Naik explains. “It isn’t just about somebody’s tone. It isn’t just about somebody calling a name. It isn’t just about a lost opportunity. At any given point it could intersect all of those three, and unless you are on the receiving end, you’re never going to really experience or learn what that is all about.”

The first time it happens, you might just walk away, she explains when asked if such encounters are simply misinterpretations.

“But when it happens over and over and over again, you certainly aren’t left doubting yourself one little bit,” she says. “You know that there is something at play here that you cannot just sweep aside.”

“It’s subtle, but it’s still emotionally damaging,” D’Souza points out.

But everyday racism is not always that subtle. Sometimes, racism experienced by local residents is overt — a racial slur, a repeated stereotype, or the phrase all too familiar to many in Brampton and Mississauga: “Go back to your own country.”

The vast majority (85 per cent) of Brampton and Mississauga residents surveyed who said they had been victimized cited this day-to-day type of racism that the experts say is the most prevalent.

Respondents said their experiences took the form of a verbal insult (43 per cent), poor service (23 per cent) or being ignored (19 per cent). Very few — three per cent — said their experience involved physical violence.

The survey of 1,040 randomly selected residents of Brampton and Mississauga revealed more than half had witnessed occurrences of racism in their communities (54 per cent). In two-thirds of these cases (67 per cent), no one intervened.

Opinion is split on whether racism is increasing (27 per cent) or decreasing (28 per cent) in Peel, and one-third (33 per cent) said nothing has changed.

Interestingly, those in Brampton are much more likely to say racism has increased. A full 32 per cent of Brampton residents surveyed said racism has increased in their community, while only 20 per cent of Mississauga residents said they believe it is on the increase.

Fifteen per cent of those surveyed say racist behaviour is common to Brampton, while just seven per cent said the same for Mississauga.

More than 40 per cent of those surveyed said they believe certain religious or ethnic groups have too much influence or a bad influence in their communities.

Sandeep Singh, a UK-born Sikh and Canadian citizen, says he has experienced racism in Brampton only once, but it was something he won’t soon forget. It was in a Brampton store last year.

The 34-year-old married father of two says he approached an employee who had just unlocked a cabinet for another customer and was waiting while the customer read labels. Singh asked the employee, “Can I ask a question?”

He says he was shocked and angered by the response.

“The tone and manner of his voice was so rude,” Singh recalls.

The clerk, according to Singh, said, "Can you not see I am with someone? You lot have to learn some manners ... This might be normal in your country. You should go back to your own country.”

He hasn’t been back to the store since. There were other “visible minorities” in the vicinity who heard what happened, but no one intervened, he says.

He complained to management, but was told he was the problem, and in the end, the store’s head office gave him a $100 gift voucher to “shut me up.”

Singh, a marketing consultant, says he understands where the “anger” comes from. He says immigrants who come to Canada and continue to conduct themselves as if they were living in their homeland are causing friction.

“We need to start integrating better and being more of a community,” he says. “I understand why comments are made and where it comes from. I know it’s not right, but there is a bit of education that is needed.”

As Canadians, we like to think we are a polite, diverse and welcoming society. On paper, that may be true. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ingrains the philosophy of multiculturalism in our society. Immigration brings an average 250,000 new residents to Canada each year. In Brampton, there are 175 different ethnic backgrounds and more than 70 different languages spoken.

Our survey, though, shows not everyone welcomes diversity.

Just more than one-tenth, or 12 per cent, of those surveyed admitted they either dislike certain religious groups (eight per cent) or that they sometimes make insulting comments or jokes about certain groups (four per cent). Another nine per cent said they prefer to socialize within their own group, but almost half (47 per cent) said they treat everyone the same.

The experts believe those numbers aren’t completely accurate.

“Who’s going to admit in a poll that they're racist?” D’Souza asks.

Yet 12 per cent translates into some 148,000 residents of Mississauga and Brampton — your neighbours, your co-workers, your friends — admitting to racist feelings or behaviour.

Paul Fromm is one of those residents. The 64-year-old Mississauga resident is the director of the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee, based in Rexdale.

He says he was one of the people contacted for our survey. He has been called a racist, a bigot and a zealot, all labels he vehemently denies.

“Being called a racist is just a way to shut you up,” he told The News/Guardian. “Anti-racism is a code for anti-white. That’s what it’s all about.”

Fromm has been harping on Canada’s immigration policy for years.

“I think our immigration policies are an absolute disaster,” he says. “I think people coming into Canada should be able to accommodate to our culture and way of life, not come in and say 'I have to wear a turban or carry a sword.' If you can’t assimilate, we shouldn’t look at you.”

Fromm was fired from his job teaching English at Applewood Heights Secondary School in 1997 after he ignored warnings from administrators not to continue associating with known racists and white supremacists. The B’Nai Brith and other organizations had complained about his conduct at a series of right-wing political rallies.

The Peel District School Board removed him from the classroom after 19 years on the job and asked him to teach adult students. He was warned not to continue his political activities, then was fired when he attended a memorial service for renowned American white supremacist Revilo Oliver.

Fromm says hiring policies in Peel discriminate against whites. He references an advertisement on a bus recently from Peel Regional Police looking for recruits.

“You’ve got a guy with a turban, a woman and an Arab,” he says. “There’s no room for white guys.”

Fromm says the belief that Peel’s diversity is its strength is “nonsense. I think diversity is a disaster.”

Crime statistics show the more dramatic demonstrations of racist behaviour that typically get attention in the media are not on the rise in Peel.

Recent numbers from Peel police show hate crimes in a steady decline. Blacks and South Asians remain the most-targeted racial groups, with teens responsible for most of those crimes, which are largely graffiti. Last year, 47 incidents were reported, down from 52 in 2011, 76 in 2010 and 95 in 2009.

Most agree, though, that this type of crime often goes unreported.

In our survey, 24 per cent see South Asians and East Indians as the most frequent targets of racism in Peel, followed by 17 per cent Caucasians and 15 per cent blacks.

It’s likely just a case of population, Naik says. More than half (57.8 per cent) of Brampton’s and 40.5 per cent of Mississauga’s racialized population are South Asian.

D’Souza says it is human nature to gravitate to people who we see as being like ourselves, and it is human nature to put people who are not like ourselves into the "other" category. There’s nothing wrong with that.

“It’s when you ‘other’ somebody in a negative fashion, and then apply a systemic approach to that otherness, that it’s racism,” D’Souza says.

“White flight” is just that, the experts say, describing it as the phenomenon of members of the once majority population uprooting and moving to towns and cities where they are once again in the majority. It is a racist reaction to “others taking over,” because the context paints the “others” in a negative way.

“It’s people making personal choices where they want to live, versus wanting to move out of a community where they have spent generations because now the ‘others’ are taking over. And the term is ‘the others are taking over,’” Naik says. “I cannot continue to raise my child there, I cannot send my child to the school because a large number are not even of my sub-group, and therefore I want to move. That is racism, and you can’t call it by any other name.”

Of course, systemic racism is an issue Peel’s “power structure” has been grappling with for years.

Neither the Peel District School Board nor the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board keep race-based statistics, but the face of education is still predominantly non-racialized, D’Souza says.

The Dufferin-Peel board has 268 principals and vice-principals, about 22 of which (8.2 per cent) are racialized, according to spokesperson Bruce Campbell, who adds that number may be higher. Statistics for the teaching staff are not available.

At the Peel board, where targeted efforts have been made in the last few years, the numbers are also unavailable, but that could change. As part of the Journey Ahead project, a diversity census is proposed that would capture that information.

Still, D’Souza says there is a lack of diversity in local classrooms, and it is a problem.

“If that complement of faculty has not experienced racism on a level that a racialized child would, how are they going to deal with it?” he asks. “They often negate or minimize that experience. Just because it hasn’t happened to them doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. This data (contained in the survey) is showing that it does exist.”

For their part, Peel police are working to attract more diverse candidates. They say they recognize it is needed, and have added racialized officers to their ranks over the years, but the department’s most senior officers — the chief’s senior management team — are still monochromatic.

Police Chief Jennifer Evans says the community should be reflected in the department.

“It’s important for Peel Regional Police to represent and reflect the community we serve,” she says.

Change for Peel police and other “power structures” hasn’t always come voluntarily.

In a 2007 Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling that found Peel police had racially profiled a woman accused of shoplifting, the department was ordered to develop a specific directive prohibiting racial profiling, hire an external consultant with expertise in racial profiling to help prepare the new directive and training material, and ensure that all new recruits, current officers, the officer in the case, and all new and current supervisors be trained on the new directive, the social science literature on racial profiling and the current case law.

That’s one of three significant Ontario Human Rights Commission cases that have come to light in Peel in recent years.

The others:

• in 2012, the Peel District School Board settled a human rights case regarding a vice-principal of a Brampton school who alleged that systemic discrimination prevented her from being promoted

• in a 2010 decision, ultimately upheld by the court, a Peel Law Association librarian was found to have racially profiled two black lawyers and a law student. They were singled out and asked for identification to prove they were lawyers and thereby entitled to use the law association library located inside the Brampton courthouse

Despite the multiracial makeup of Brampton and Mississauga, the engines that run the two cities remain predominantly white, and until that changes, nothing else will, the experts say.

Change isn’t easy at the best of times, but there is a natural reluctance for those in charge to give up the reins, D’Souza says.

“Human nature is to maintain and retain power, so the power dynamic that exists within education, within law enforcement, within healthcare, they are going to do their utmost best to maintain the current hegemony and there’s no way around that,” he says. “When you add the poverty piece to it, it’s daunting.”

United Way of Peel’s vice-president of community investment Anita Stellinga says poverty is just one of the things her agency is concerned about.

“There is data that shows how this impacts people in terms of the levels of poverty,” she says. “We know that racialized individuals live in higher rates of poverty than non-racialized individuals. We know newcomers and immigrants live in higher rates of poverty than non-newcomers and non-immigrants.”

Local politicians agree racism is an issue that needs to be dealt with.

“I think it’s terribly unfortunate that racism continues to happen in Peel,” says Mississauga Ward 5 Councillor Bonnie Crombie, predicted by many political insiders to be the front-runner for the mayor’s job once the venerable Hazel McCallion calls it quits next fall. “We still have a very long way to go.”

Crombie represents one of Peel’s most multicultural wards, with more than 75 per cent of the close to 80,000 residents identifying themselves as either immigrants or “recent immigrants.”

She believes part of what perpetuates these feelings of racism among the racialized population is the “old boys network” mentality that exists in workplaces, community events and even city hall.

“The same 200 people are involved in everything,” she says. “We have to reach out to the new communities out there.”

Clearly, Crombie added, improvements can be made at city hall.

“Council and staff at the City (of Mississauga) should be reflective of the community,” she says.

Like Mississauga, Brampton city council is bereft of racialized politicians, save for one, as is the City of Brampton’s senior management team.

Brampton Wards 9 & 10 City Councillor Vicky Dhillon, who moved to Brampton in 1992 one year after arriving in Canada from India, calls encounters like some of the incidents noted in our survey “street racism,” but he says he doesn’t believe that’s the biggest issue here.

“I feel there’s a minor racism on the street,” he says. “Actually, the real racism is at the higher level: The cities, the hospitals, the police department.”

Dhillon says private companies in Brampton and Mississauga are way ahead of the public sector in employing a diverse workforce and diverse management. He says he believes employees at Loblaw, Rogers, local banks and other companies reflect the community at large.

“They pick up educated, experienced people,” Dhillon says. “They don’t hear who the person is — black, brown, red.”

He points to the annual growth in local population, largely fueled by immigrants, and says the makeup of the community is not reflected in government.

“They want to see their colour reflected around the council and they talk about it,” Dhillon says.

He’s tried talking to the school board, the police, the City and Region of Peel, he says, but he is told they follow proper guidelines and good procedures when hiring.

But he’s not buying it. He says there are loopholes, and the fact the City of Brampton uses an outside agency to vet job applicants before interviews is a problem.

“Every week I get a call from people that they applied for a City of Brampton job and no one conducted a test. They do not get an interview. They are never contacted or called,” he says.

Even Dhillon's perception was affected. When he was first elected in 2006, he worried about how he was going to work with the rest of council.

“I was the only South Asian,” he recalls. “I thought, there will be so many challenges, how am I going to work with councillors?”

But when he actually arrived on his first day, all those concerns were put to rest.

“I never felt that way,” he says. Councillors welcomed him, worked with him, helped him learn the job.

Dhillon predicts it will take 15 to 20 years before a change is seen in the makeup of local government.

The media, too, plays a role, the experts point out. Some say the media is “complicit.”

“Who is telling the stories, what stories are you telling, and who are your key sources of news?” asks Dr. Grace-Edward Galabuzi, a Brampton resident and associate professor of politics at Ryerson University. “Who helps interpret what’s going on?

“You (the media) tend to reinforce, rather than undermine,” he adds. “Generally, the media reinforces the dominant narratives, reinforces the dominant stereotypes. The media’s really counter-factual. Who is the editor sending the reporter to cover the story? Who is deciding what is ‘news’”?

D’Souza agrees.

“There will be a smattering of divergent perspective, but I don’t think that the consistent narrative is out there that these issues exist, and that the status quo should be challenged,” he says.

All say they are glad The Guardian and The Mississauga News have undertaken this series to get residents talking about the issue of racism in Peel.

Muslim Council of Montreal condemns LaPresse articles against Montreal mosque as inflammatory


Montreal, Quebec, November 21st, 2013 - The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) condemns the LaPresse newspaper for its recent inflammatory and unfounded articles against local Montreal mosque, Al Sunnah al Nabawiah.

“We reject any insinuation that this mosque has ties to any terrorist organizations, individuals or ideology,” stated Salam Elmenyawi, president of MCM. “Such stories that attempt to create suspicion and fear without any evidence to support their claims are unfair attacks on our community. The Al Sunnah mosque operates very transparently and is always open to the public and it is clear that there is nothing illegal or dangerous about its activities. It has been visited by numerous politicians, churches, synagogues and schools and routinely participates in events to encourage social harmony, civic contribution, engagement and integration. Al Sunnah has no connection with any of the individuals mentioned in the article.”

The LaPresse articles make numerous false allegations about the Al Sunnah mosque, without providing any evidence to justify their accusations. MCM rejects the allegations that the Al Sunnah mosque is abusing its charitable status, that it finances any political activities or that it pays any salary to its directors. MCM demands that LaPresse produce evidence to justify their allegations, or retract their statements and issue an apology immediately for defaming the mosque and targeting it unjustly. 

“In addition to targeting our mosques with bigoted suspicion, the LaPresse articles also attempt to demonize Montreal Muslim leaders, marginalize them and deny their positive contributions in society,” Elmenyawi said. “They continue to launch accusations against us, without any evidence to back their claims. Again and again they twist the facts out of context and use loaded labels to try to demonize and stigmatize respected Islamic values and practices. This is nothing but a clear attempt to attack our community and create hate against Muslims.” 

MCM notes that these allegations have been made and that they were addressed and answered many years ago when they first emerged. To continue to bring them up again ten years later, without any evidence of wrongdoing on part of the mosque only adds to the prevalent bias against the Muslim community, as the information of the analysis was already proved to be totally false and outlandish. MCM further calls on all media outlets to exercise greater caution and sensibility when in their coverage, to present a balanced picture of the facts and avoid rushing to sensationalist and irresponsible reporting. 

MCM points out that the Al Sunnah mosque is the largest in Montreal and is attended by hundreds of different people and it is impossible for the mosque administrators to be aware of the background of every individual attending the mosque or be accountable if any member of its congregation is ever found guilty of a crime. 

“There is no doubt that were the mosque to ever have reason to believe any of its congregation posed any sort of danger to national security, they would alert the authorities immediately” Elmenyawi said. “To assume or suggest otherwise, based simply on their religious affiliation, is purely racist and Islamophobic.” 


Salam Elmenyawi 
Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) 
Ph.: (514) 748-8427 

The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) is an umbrella organization representing a number of Islamic institutions in the Montreal region. There are over 325,000 Muslims in Montreal, about 1,300,000 in Canada and 1.9 billion worldwide.

OECD report: US life expectancy below international average

By Kate Randall
23 November 2013

A new report finds that life expectancy in the United States is now lower than the average in the 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD report shows that while life expectancy in the US has been growing over the last several decades, it has grown more slowly than in other countries.

The OECD’s Health at a Glance 2013 report points to social and economic factors contributing to the lag in the growth of US life expectancy: a large uninsured population, poor access to physicians, poor health behaviors, social inequality and poverty. For the most part, these factors will be exacerbated, not ameliorated, with the implementation of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), which keeps the for-profit health care system in place.READ MORE....

The rise of Europe’s far right

23 November 2013

It is widely predicted that Europe’s far-right parties will register significant gains in next May’s European elections.

The rightist parties will campaign primarily on the basis of opposition to the European Union, in most instances posing as opponents of austerity measures imposed by the EU throughout Europe. By shifting somewhat from their usual preoccupation with immigration and Islam, they hope to capitalise on popular hostility to the EU and its austerity agenda.

The “mainstream” political parties—of the official “left” as well as the right—are politically responsible for a situation in which the far right can strike such a pose, since the entire political establishment is implicated in the savage attacks that have been inflicted on Europe’s workers since the financial crash of 2008. READ MORE....

Friday, November 22, 2013

Omar Khadr war-crimes appeal in U.S. hits ‘troubling’ legal snag

by Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press on Friday, November 22, 2013

TORONTO – An American military court has thrown a wrench into an attempt by former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr to appeal his war-crimes convictions, The Canadian Press has learned.

In an order his lawyer called unprecedented, the Court of Military Commission Review has told both sides to file arguments only on whether the court has the authority to hear the appeal.

“It’s terribly unfair to Khadr,” Sam Morison, Khadr’s American lawyer, who works for the U.S. Defence Department, said in an interview Friday.

“The court’s supposed to be neutral. That’s what’s most troubling.”

Normally, appeal courts hear arguments on all the issues at play — including the merits of the case — allowing everything to be decided together.

The military court’s new tack, however, could see the case drag on interminably if it decides it has no authority to hear the appeal regardless of its merits.

If that happens, Khadr, 27, would first have to ask a civilian court to order the military court to hear the case, and then, if successful, would have to start from scratch to argue the merits.

The process could take years.

“The practical effect of the court’s order is thus to indefinitely postpone meaningful judicial review of the merits of appellant’s appeal, thereby ensuring that he will remain in prison unless and until his full term expires,” Morison argues in an objection to the court’s directive.

“If the government cannot defend the charges it brought against the appellant today, then there is no good reason to believe that it will articulate a winning argument years from now.”

The wording of the direction “creates an appearance that the court has prejudged the outcome of this appeal,” Morison argues.

Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crimes in October 2010 before a widely maligned U.S. military commission and was sentenced to eight more years in custody.

His lawyers maintain a guilty plea was his only way out of Guantanamo, given that he faced indefinite detention even if acquitted.

The Toronto-born Khadr appealed the convictions Nov. 8, arguing what he was convicted of doing as a 15 year old in Afghanistan was not a war crime under American or international law.

Just days earlier, another former Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks — an Australian charged with providing material support for terrorism — appealed his conviction.

In that case, a panel of the military appeal court directed both sides to file all their arguments — on jurisdiction and merits — at the same time.

While Khadr appears to have given up his right to contest his conviction under terms of his plea deal, Morison argues military commission authorities didn’t follow the appropriate appeal-waiver law.

The various defence arguments are similar to those made by two associates of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. In both cases, a civilian court quashed their military convictions.

The most serious charge against Khadr — murder in violation of the law of war — arose out of the death of an American special forces soldier in the heat of a vicious battle at an Afghan compound in July 2002.

The Canadian citizen is now serving out his sentence as a maximum security prisoner in Edmonton.

Khadr’s Canadian lawyers are suing the federal government for breaching his rights. They also want him considered a young offender and moved to a provincial jail.

The federal government, which brands him a dangerous terrorist, has expressed determination to keep him where he is.

The worrisome tone of Quebece’s values rhetoric


Contributed to The Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Nov. 22 2013, 

The loss of employment is the ultimate punishment such offenders face if they don’t remove their threatening symbols. The genius of the Parti Québécois government’s proposed bill outlining Quebec’s so-called values is that it puts the burden for enforcement on those institutions that harbour potential values violators. This is surely a relief to the province’s law enforcement agents. But in the unlikely event this draconian bill ever becomes law, the potentially affected hospitals, universities, daycares and other potentially affected institutions would face a serious conundrum. Not implementing the law, they might assume, will result in cuts to their finances.

Quebec’s Muslims, Jews and Sikhs are the most obvious targets for potential values violations. Many members of these communities are extremely concerned not only about the consequences of the proposed legislation but are also worried with good reason about the very unhealthy tone of the values rhetoric. As revealed in an October Leger Marketing poll, the most fervent supports of the values bill are favorable to an extension of the ban on religious symbols beyond public institutions.

When the PQ candidate in a forthcoming provincial by-election wrote that she liked the idea of removing the word 'Jewish' from the province’s Jewish General Hospital, the minister responsible for democratic institutions and the architect of the Values Charter, Bernard Drainville offered a light reprimand. He defended the candidate’s comments as “freedom of speech” and added that as a PQ candidate she would have to toe the party line which did not include such things.

Mr. Drainvile shouldn’t be expecting any thanks from the Jewish community, as its already fragile relations with the PQ have reached an all-time low. Calling it “patently discriminatory” – and deeply insulting to its staff, the Jewish General Hospital indicated that it will never comply with Bill 60. In response, Mr. Drainville said he didn’t understand its opposition, even though it couldn’t be much clearer. The reality is he chooses not to understand it.

The opposition Liberals are accused by the government of being naive and overly preoccupied by individual rights – the government prefers that term to human rights. Against what the government describes as the “radical softness” of the provincial Liberals, the PQ vaunts the right of the collective by which they really mean the will of the majority to impose its so-called values on the minority. To justify its position, the government refers to the endorsement secured from former Supreme Court judge Claire L’Heureux Dubé, who signed a petition that favors the ban. Never one of the high Court’s leading lights, Ms. Dubé feels little compulsion to publicly defend her views in legal or constitutional terms as it is easier for her to hide behind a petition.

Two former Parti Québécois premiers – Lucien Bouchard and Jacques Parizeau – have denounced the proposal. However, government spokespersons have insincerely described their input as welcome gave them much less weight than a group of local television celebrities led by a local Quebec game and reality TV show host Julie Snyder. Closely echoing the government’s view, Ms. Snyder claims the law is urgently needed to defend against the “religious message” conveyed by potential values violators.

What is the message that we Quebecers are hearing so much about? What we can discern is that people that wear religious symbols convey the view that gender equality can be violated in the name of religion. Therefore such offenders cannot be impartial when making policy decisions or delivering a service to the public. Our government likens wearing a cross around your neck or a keepa on your head to sporting a t-shirt or pin with the name of a political party. No evidence is ever offered for the assertion that those wearing religious symbols are so obviously impartial. But the government regards such proof as unnecessary.

In rather Orwellian terms, Mr. Drainville continues to insist that the removal of employees of public institutions that violate values in public institutions will usher in a new era of harmony. Rather than harmony, there is a greater likelihood that some form of extremist secularism will evolve give rise to a McCarthyist stream amongst some Quebeckers who will gladly seek out and report values violators. It is a sad and most cynical way for a minority government to secure support from the majority.

Jack Jedwab is executive vice-president of the Association for Canadian Studies

Science under attack from religious extremism

Jim Al-Khalili 

22 November 2013 Issue No:297

Some of the greatest scientists in the history of the world have come from the Arab world, but recent developments and the rise of religious extremism represent a worrying threat to academic freedom. There are some attempts to increase scientific expertise in the region, but these will fail if academic freedom and a spirit of inquiry are not encouraged in the general population. 

This year has been designated as the millennial anniversary of the completion of one of the most important books in the history of science: Ibn al-Haytham’s Book of Optics (‘Kitab al-Manazir’). 

A masterpiece that described the properties of light, such as reflection and refraction, and the nature of vision and perspective, it was written in Cairo in the second decade of the 11th century 700 years before Isaac Newton’s more celebrated work on the subject. 

The work by the great Arab physicist would go on to be hugely influential in Renaissance Europe where it was translated into Latin. But how many Arabs today know of it, or appreciate the genius of Ibn al-Haytham? 

In October 1933, a far more familiar name in science, Albert Einstein, gave a speech to a packed Royal Albert Hall in London. Having just escaped Germany and the rise of Nazism, Einstein spoke of his fear of the looming crisis in Europe.

“If we want to resist the powers which threaten to suppress intellectual and individual freedom, we must keep clearly before us what is at stake, and what we owe to that freedom which our ancestors have won for us after hard struggles. Without such freedom there would have been no Shakespeare, no Goethe, no Newton, no Faraday, no Pasteur and no Lister.” 

I would argue that these very sentiments could apply to the Arab and wider Muslim world today – that without intellectual freedom during the Medieval Islamic Empire there would have been no Ibn al-Haytham, no al-Kindi, no Ibn Sina, no al-Biruni, no al-Khwarizmi, no al-Razi, no Ibn Rushd. 

These medieval scholars, part of the wonderful Golden Age of Arabic Science between the 9th and 13th centuries, are among the greatest thinkers in history and were strong advocates of academic freedom and rational enquiry. 

Contrast that period of freedom of thought and rational enquiry with the state of science and attitudes towards science and its friction with religion in many parts of the Arab and wider Islamic world today. 

Growing up in Iraq during the 1960s and ‘70s, I had direct experience of life under the Baathist regime where fear of reprisals if one uttered anything deemed to be critical of the government acted as a major restriction on academic freedom. 

But on the whole, Iraq was probably the most secular of all the Arab nations. And while isolation from the rest of the world and life under a brutal regime was hugely damaging – indeed the use of universities and their academic staff as mouthpieces of the state to promote its ideologies is common in all totalitarian regimes – the sectarian hatred that has bubbled to the surface across vast swathes of society in Iraq (and more recently in Syria) is further killing any hope of academic freedom in these countries. 

Courage is needed

And so leaving aside the more obvious and far more serious issue of a life lived in fear of bombings, reprisal killings, death threats and kidnappings, academics in Iraq have in many ways less freedom now than ever to carry out independent research in its universities. Despite this, many courageous and highly motivated people are working hard behind the scenes to improve things. 

Iraq’s universities face major challenges as they struggle to forge international partnerships and adopt robust systems of assessment, evaluation and quality assurance. Of course, quality assurance is vital as a ‘national issue’, not just an academic, university issue. 

Iraqi higher education institutions were cut off from the international academic community for many years and rebuilding their infrastructure and reputation, and the confidence of their staff, will take a long time. This is, of course, not helped by the continuing violence and lack of security and financial resources. 

Unfortunately, outside the academic bubble, and often even inside it, there still appears to be an attitude of general apathy towards scholarship and freedom of thought. Of course, this is not a problem encountered only in countries such as Iraq, but across vast swathes of the Islamic world. This anti-rational, anti-scholarship climate needs to change to allow academic freedom. 

Engaging the wider community

I think we are now seeing a real shift in many developing countries around the world that see investment in scientific research not simply as a driver for economic prosperity or to feed a defence industry. New universities, new research institutions, new collaborative projects are springing up, particular in the wealthier Gulf states. 

One obvious example is the co-educational King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, built in the desert near Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, where many Western scientists have been parachuted in to teach. 

However, KAUST is an isolated bubble within a very conservative society. It is not good enough having these institutions for the select few if you don’t engage the wider community. 

What is so vital is for society to develop a trust in science and in freedom of thought – that changing of hearts and minds away from the notion that science is some imposed Western, even atheist, construct that is somehow a threat to Arab or Islamic culture. 

While initiatives such as KAUST in Saudi Arabia and Education City in Qatar are necessary to establish the highest quality research environments, it is not enough if they are not inclusive. Changing hearts and minds and attitudes towards science and academic freedom among the population is vital. 

So while much work remains to be done, this is a timely reminder of the contribution to the world’s shared heritage of scientific knowledge from the likes of Ibn al-Haytham. For we need to remember that there was once a time 1,000 years ago in the Arab world when academic freedom flourished.

My message to the Arab world then is to take pride in your rich scientific heritage for there is no reason why it cannot be reclaimed.

*Professor Jim Al-Khalili is an Iraqi-born British professor of physics, author and broadcaster based at the University of Surrey where he also holds a chair in public engagement in science. This article is based on a Council for Assisting Refugee Academics science and civilisation lecture at the Royal Society in England entitled ‘Science, Rationalism and Academic Freedom in the Arab World: A personal and historical perspective’.

Payday loans companies charging up to 7,000% experience huge growth

 by Tom Warren

Controversial payday loans companies, some charging interest rates as high as 7,000%, have experienced phenomenal growth since the start of the recession.

New research by the Bureau, which analysed dozens of company accounts and websites, found a rush of companies into the industry. At least 24 new ventures have been launched in the high cost credit sector since 2008, some operating several different trading companies and many offering short-term payday-style loans.

But far from feeling squeezed by the increased competition, all but one of the ten largest lenders specifically offering payday loans saw their turnover more than double in just three years – with one lender growing 42 times.

Together, the ten biggest payday lending companies had a total turnover of nearly £800m. Just three years ago these companies had a combined turnover of just £313m. And at the start of the recession only one company had turnover of more than £50m, now there are four companies with turnovers substantially over £100m.

The second part of the Bureau’s investigation into the high cost credit sector follows Wonga’s announcement that it made more than a million pounds of profit a week last year. But Wonga is not the only company operating in the sector to turn a profit – the Bureau’s research shows five of Britain’s top ten payday lenders each recorded more than £10m in pretax profits in their last reported accounts.

The Bureau’s latest research concentrated on the top ten companies specifically offering short-term, high-cost loans, most of which are linked to a borrower’s pay day, to establish how this controversial sector has grown through the recession.

Above: The key findings of the Bureau’s investigation. Get the full dataset here

The short-term lending products offered by these companies, usually described as payday loans, have come under heavy attack by consumer groups including the Citizens Advice Bureau. Such groups draw on research into the industry showing the difficulty many people have repaying their loans. These reports attracted the attention of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, earlier this year when he announced that the Church of England intends to support credit unions in an attempt to put payday loans companies ‘out of business’.

Yet despite these widely reported difficulties, consumers do not appear to be shying away from the products on offer.

Wonga, which launched in 2007, reported the biggest profits in the market. It has turned a loss four years ago into profits of £84m in 2012 despite more than doubling its number of employees in the last year. In 2011 the company had 131 members of staff. By the end of 2012 this had grown to 325.

The company reporting the second highest profits after Wonga was MEM Consumer Finance. The US-owned company made a profit of £38.7m last year on a turnover of £123m. It lends up to £1,000 at 2160% APR.

Wage Day Advance, which was bought by US-owned Speedy Cash Holdings in February, has increased its profits 32 times in five years to £20m on turnover of £39.5m. This represents a very healthy 50% profit margin. The company offers payday loans to borrowers at an APR of 7069%.

In terms of turnover, the fastest growing company was American-owned Lending Stream. Its turnover increased 42 times from £700,000 to over £32.7m in three years. It offers payday-style loans in the UK though Zebit, which lends up to £800 from one to seven months at an APR of 1561.7%. The company also offers a fixed-term six month loan through Lending Stream at an APR of 4071.5% – a rate that recently rose from 3378.1%.

Despite its growth Lending Stream is one of the few payday lending companies examined not to be making a profit. Its most recent accounts record a pretax loss of £4.3m, but this was after paying over £5.2m in royalties and general administrative expenses to a related US company. As Lending Stream has not reported a profit since its incorporation in the UK five years ago it has so far paid no corporation tax in Britain. The company declined to comment.

The second largest payday loans company, CashEuroNet, owned by US giant Cash America International, turned over £198m in the UK last year, up from £15m in 2008. It operates in the UK through QuickQuid, which offers loans of up to £1500 at an APR of 1734%. It does not publish any profit figures for its UK operation.

Since last year the industry regulator, the Office of Fair Trading, has been looking at the payday loans sector. A report published in March highlighted many concerns and the OFT has written to 50 payday loans companies asking about their methods of advertising and lending. It has referred the sector to the Competition Commission.

The Bureau’s earlier research examined the 50 largest high cost lenders to reveal that Britain’s high street banks have put millions of pounds into the industry. It also showed that US companies, some banned by law from issuing payday loans in the American states where they are based, are now investing heavily in the UK’s less regulated market.

New report exposes lies used to justify Detroit bankruptcy

By Thomas Gaist
22 November 2013

A report issued Wednesday by the New York City-based liberal think tank Demos is a devastating refutation of the arguments used by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to throw the city of Detroit into bankruptcy.

The Demos report charges that the financial numbers used by Orr and other advocates of bankruptcy were grossly inflated, and that the real causes of Detroit’s cash flow shortfall were parasitic loans and other financial schemes pushed on the city by the banks and other powerful creditors.

Data assembled in the report adds to the already overwhelming evidence that the city of Detroit’s July 19 Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing was not driven by economic necessity but by political considerations. READ MORE.....

No new mosques for Moscow, says mayor

The mayor of Russia's capital city Moscow said that there would be no new mosques built to serve the increasing Muslim population of the city.

World Bulletin / News Desk - Nov 22, 2013

Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin has declared that no new mosques will be built in his city, despite the cities four mosques being inadequate for the huge influx of Muslim workers who have settled in the Russian capital as of late.

Two million migrant workers now live in Moscow, with most of them being Muslims from central Asia and the Caucuses. On Fridays and Islamic holidays, most of them are forced to pray outside on the streets due to insufficient space in the few mosques available.

Although admitting that Moscow could not survive without them, Sobyanin told Komsomolskaya Pravda in an interview that no new mosques would be built in the city, saying that the city had no responsibility to cater for outsiders.

Illegal immigration of outsiders to the city is stirring ethnic tension among the predominantly Slavic people of Moscow, the mayor warned.

Around 20% of Russia’s population is Muslim, and under the post-Soviet constitution drawn up in 1993, Muslim citizens are supposed to have equal rights with the other three founding religions, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. However, most Muslims are situated outside of the capital city, and the recent influx of Muslims to Moscow in order to fulfill its need for cheap, unskilled labor has left Slavic Muscovites in a dilemma.

Rushan Abbyasov, the chief of staff of Russia's Council of Muftis, complained that there are not enough mosques in the city to serve the Muslim population, adding that the current amount should at least be doubled. Sobyanin disagrees, saying that the four mosques are sufficient.

In Israel, French President Hollande takes bellicose stance against Iran

By Kumaran Ira
22 November 2013

On a three-day visit to Israel beginning Sunday, French President François Hollande assured the Israeli ruling elite that he will keep pushing for economic sanctions and military pressure against Iran over unsubstantiated allegations that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

After receiving a warm welcome from Israeli leaders, Hollande declared in Hebrew that “I will always remain a friend of Israel.” 

Having pushed for war with Syria in September, Hollande is pressing for a bellicose stance against Iran. He said, “France will maintain all its measures and sanctions until we are certain that Iran has renounced nuclear weapons … Iran is a threat to Israel, to the region, and to the whole world.”

Hollande’s visit came after France’s intervention led to the failure of the first round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva, between the Iranian government and the six major powers in the so-called P5+1(the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Report: Employers Use Facebook to Discriminate Against Muslim Job Seekers

BY STAFF WRITER -- Nov 21, 2013

If you are Muslim and use facebook and are applying for job, you may be overlooked by potential employers because of your Islamic faith.

A new study by Carnegie Mellon University found that 10-30% of American companies use social media to check on you during the hiring process. The study also suggests that candidates who are obviously Muslim on their Facebook profile are less likely to get called for an interview, especially in more conservative parts of the U.S. The Wall Street Journal Reports that in conservative states, Christian applicants got call backs 17% of the time, compared with about 2% for Muslims. Christian candidates had their biggest advantage in 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The researchers also made professional profiles for the fake applicants on LinkedIn. However, the those profiles did not seem to impact decision as did the Facebook profiles. The report also suggests that employers were not as prejudiced by an applicant's Facebook profile regarding sexual orientation.

Although U.S. federal and local laws prohibit companies from discriminating based on religious beliefs or sexual orientation, this new research is raising awareness about the consequences of social media as it directly impacts people lives.

Impending Closure of Heinz Plant in Leamington: Ontario Under Attack

             Over 100-year old Heinz food processing facility in downtown Leamington.

Marxist-Leninist Daily 
Nov 21, 2013 

The U.S. monopolies have struck again, swiftly, without notice driving their spear into Leamington, Ontario. In a sudden attack, the Heinz Company, now owned by the notorious U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway Group in partnership with New York-based investment group 3G Capital, announced on November 14 that the city's food processing plant will shut down next June. No discussion, no new arrangement suitable to the people in place, no alternative allowed, just the shameful excuse to consolidate operations in the U.S. to make the company more competitive.

Artwork by a Heinz employee regarding the closure.(Facebook)

The Heinz food processing facility in Leamington was established in 1909. Leamington lies in the southernmost part of Canada, next to Point Pelee in Essex County, one of the most fertile growing areas in Ontario. Seven hundred and forty full-time workers and 350 seasonal workers produce ketchup at the facility, as well as Grade A tomato juice, mustard, vinegar, baby food, sauces, canned pastas, beans, gravies and soups. Heinz Canada is also the major supplier of single serving and flexible packaging condiments for most fast food chains in Canada. Leamington has a population of 28,000 and the Heinz plant is its largest employer, with the vast majority of town residents having direct links to the company, either as employees, suppliers or growers.

Heinz Canada has contracts with 46 farmers who grow tomatoes on 5,000 acres within 100 kilometres of the Leamington plant, representing half of Ontario's $52 million annual processing tomato crop. Forty per cent of all field tomatoes grown in Ontario are shipped to the Leamington plant, which on average consumes 225,000 tons of tomatoes annually at $93-$95 a ton.

The Heinz operation is one of Leamington's biggest taxpayers and water users, meaning that municipal revenue for schools, education and other public services will be diminished. According to Mayor John Paterson, Heinz pays between $1 million and $1.5 million in annual municipal, county and school taxes.

Shock and disbelief have gripped the plant's workers, the region's tomato farmers, suppliers, transportation workers, municipal political leaders and residents. How can this be? How can Berkshire/3G make such a destructive decision without long consultations with all involved over the consequences of such an action and ensuring a suitable new arrangement is in place? Indignant shouts are heard: This is not right! This is not just! Where is our government? We have to do something to defend our community!

Robert Crawford, President of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 459 representing Heinz workers in Leamington stated, "The closure of H.J. Heinz Company in Leamington came as a shock to our members and the community. This plant is the second largest plant in the organization, and we produce hundreds of different varieties and sizes of products. Another disappointment is that this decision was made without any involvement with UFCW Local 459 and when we had questions regarding this closure there were no answers provided."

A Leamington teacher has called on community members to protest the closing by gathering in front of the plant to show their concern about what happens to local industry and the economy and "to make a public statement of compassion for Heinz workers, farmers and our community's disgust for corporate greed."

People are saying the existence of the plant for over a century is a commitment and responsibility, an arrangement with the workers, farmers, community and province that cannot be unilaterally broken or changed without a new arrangement put in place suitable to the people. A century-long equilibrium has existed based on mutual benefit for the monopoly and the people of the region.

No one should be allowed to walk away unilaterally from such a long and storied arrangement and responsibility, destroying that equilibrium.

Berkshire/3G's action is extremely hostile and unacceptable coming from a supposedly friendly trading and business partner in the United States. If the new owners want out of the arrangement then discussion has to take place as to what new arrangement will replace the old one. Walking away and unilaterally breaking the equilibrium with impunity cannot occur. The guilty party must be held to account.

By their actions the Berkshire/3G Group is saying bluntly that all we have built together -- all the prosperity, stability and food security we have enjoyed for the last hundred years -- mean nothing. Berkshire/3G declares it is walking away and the plant, workers, farmers, equipment and fields are of no significance to it, saying in effect that it does not give a damn what becomes of the people or Canada. Berkshire/3G says it is unilaterally breaking the arrangement, for that is its monopoly right, its monopoly right to make a private business decision that is not the public's business even though it directly affects the people's lives and security and the country's food supply.

The dictatorship of the monopolies and compliant Canadian and Ontario governments is a problem that must be confronted and overcome. No longer can this problem be dismissed as just some neo-liberal aberration. The country is being destroyed and the people must unite to defend it and themselves. Discussion must begin as to how to deal with this problem.

The people are determined to not allow the Heinz closure to proceed. The Berkshire Hathaway/3G Capital Group must enter into negotiations with workers, the community and both the federal and provincial governments to find a new arrangement suitable to the people. Nothing less is acceptable! If Berkshire/3G refuses to discuss and find an arrangement of mutual benefit then Heinz must be declaredpersona non grata in Canada and not allowed to sell its products. All its land and possessions in Canada must be seized to remedy the wrong and guarantee some security and future for the people affected. Governments present Canada and Canadians as pushovers, all in the name of the sanctity of free trade. We did not build this country for the last hundred years to have it destroyed today by some inhuman robber barons. Public right and justice must prevail!

Update on Muslims in Canada Survey

Nov 21, 2013

The Environics Institute is partnering with the Tessellate Institute to launch a national public opinion survey of Muslims in Canada in Spring 2014. The purpose of this research is to provide a long-overdue update of the first-ever national survey of Muslims in Canada which was conducted by the Environics Institute in 2006. The two Institutes are currently seeking sponsors to help support the launch of this important initiative.

The project has been formally endorsed by Fareed Amin (Director, Islamic Institute of Toronto), Shaikh Ahmad Kutty (resident scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto),the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), Samira Kanji (President, Noor Cultural Centre), and Sheema Khan (Globe and Mail columnist).

For more information about the Survey of Muslims, contact Keith Neuman.

Canadians losing confidence in government leadership on climate change

Nov 21, 2013

Vancouver, Toronto – Although Canadians continue to expect governments to take the lead on climate change, they appear to be losing confidence in their leaders, according to a survey released today by the Environics Institute for Survey Research in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

It found that a majority of Canadians accept the reality of climate change due to human activity, and that the number who believe in the conclusiveness of the science continues to grow. Most Canadians believe something can be done to address climate change, including shifting energy requirements from fossil fuels to cleaner renewable forms of energy.

These are some of the key findings of the survey, released as government representatives from around the world gather in Warsaw, Poland, for the United Nations climate change summit.

"As in past surveys, belief in the scientific reality of climate change is evident across the country, but most widespread among Canadians with a post-secondary degree, those under 60 years of age and those who generally support the federal opposition parties,” said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute. “At the same time, this belief in the science is also held by four in 10 Conservative party supporters, almost twice the number who question that climate change is really taking place."

Over the past six years, since Environics began tracking on climate issues and attitudes, Canadians have increasingly looked to governments to implement new standards and regulations. Over the past 12 months, however, the public’s confidence in government as the lead actor in addressing climate change has declined sharply (to 53 per cent, down six points) and is now back to where it stood in June 2011.

"Canadians have for decades looked to their governments for leadership on addressing climate change and other environmental problems. This latest survey shows a noticeable drop in the public's confidence in governments’ capacity to play this role, and this may well be because citizens haven’t seen any evidence of leadership, especially at the federal level,” Neuman said.

“The results underscore the need for the Canadian government to change its past practices and become a constructive global citizen at the UN climate change summit in Warsaw,” said Ian Bruce, science and policy manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. “Canada’s job in Warsaw should be to collaborate with countries around the world to come up with an effective and binding international agreement to reduce global warming emissions.”

The survey examined public opinion on climate change as part of the Focus Canada public opinion research program. It is based on telephone interviews conducted with 2,003 Canadians between October 1 and 17, 2013. A sample of this size drawn from the population produces results accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points in 19 out of 20 samples.

Media Contacts:

Keith Neuman, Ph.D.Environics Institute
Alvin Singh, Communications Manager
David Suzuki Foundation
(604) 740-4318;