WE’RE STARTING WITH SOME VERY INSIGHTFUL HUMOUR THIS WEEK
Islam, like all religions, is divided. As you observed, there are two main denominations, Sunni and Shia. There are way more Sunni in the world than Shia but lots of the Shia are in the wrong place, like Iran. The western world generally doesn’t like the Shia, often seen as more extreme, so you could say we are pro-Sunni. But both ISIS and al-Qaeda are Sunni, so we must be anti-Sunni. But Sunni ISIS kills other Sunnis by the tens of thousands (plus anyone else they can get their mitts on, especially Shia). As well, Saudi Arabia is Sunni and anti-ISIS, but so is despicable Iran, which is hugely Shia. This really complicates things. Sunni ISIS and Sunni al-Qaeda also loathe reach other, and both of course hate Shia Iran, and (possibly) vice versa.
Are you with me so far, Peter? No worry. You can rest assured Stephen Harper and his ministers have all this down pat.
JOBS AND THE ECONOMY
Canada has benefited from Harper’s oil boom — though less than you might imagine. In a quirk of Canadian law, the federal government collects no oil royalties. Its fortunes rise, indirectly, from oil, benefiting only from GDP growth and the surge in corporate and payroll taxes. The province of Alberta does collect oil royalties: C$5.2 billion last year alone. But far from socking that money away in a sovereign wealth fund — as Norway has done, amassing a portfolio worth more than $800 billion — the province has pissed it away on tax cuts.
More about the tax breaks and royalties (or lack thereof) paid by oil companies.
Not happy in your job? Feel like you can’t get ahead. A new study by CIBC Economics says you may have ample reason.
CIBC says its index of Canadian employment quality is at a 25-year low, and nothing the Bank of Canada can do to adjust interest rates is likely to fix the situation. In fact, its job quality index has been trending down for the past 25 years and is 10 per cent below its level in the 1990s, the CIBC report said.
That means more people are working part-time instead of full-time, more people are self-employed instead of having secure employment and more are in low-wage jobs than at any time in the last 25 years, says CIBC economist Benjamin Tal…..
“If we have a whole army of people who are buying lunches in a can, we’re not going to stimulate the economy and create the kind of jobs that would enable people to make a decent living,” said Wayne Lewchuk, a McMaster University professor who has researched precarious employment.
Opposition parties demanded to know Wednesday why the Prime Minister’s Office influenced a $1 million funding decision that the ethics watchdog said broke conflict-of-interest rules……
“There were 167 projects submitted, and only five were chosen,” the NDP leader said. “Four fulfilled all the criteria, but the fifth was managed by a good friend of the Conservatives. According to the evaluation of the department, it was one of the worst projects out of the 167. Guess which one was chosen?”
A damning report by Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson found that Finley, now the public works minister, had broken the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policy by giving preferential treatment to a non-qualifying project championed by a well-known Jewish leader with ties to the Conservatives.
CREATING DIVING, PROMOTING ISLAMOPHOBIA
The head of a group representing Canadian Muslims accused a veteran Conservative MP of making slanderous comments during expert testimony on the government’s proposed anti-terror legislation Thursday night.
During a question-and-answer session following National Council of Canadian Muslims executive director Ihsaan Gardee’s presentation to the House public safety committee on Bill C-51, Diane Ablonczy used her allotted time to “put on the record” what she described as “a continuing series of allegations” that the NCCM has ties to groups that have expressed support for “Islamic terrorist groups,” including Hamas.
Gardee pushed back. “First and foremost, I’ll say on the record that NCCM has condemned violent terrorism and extremism in all of its forms, regardless of who perpetrates it for whatever reason,” he told the committee. “However, the premise of your question is false, and entirely based on innuendo and misinformation.”
Contrast to this inspiring message of inclusion from Justin Trudeau
Macleans – For the record: Justin Trudeau on liberty and the niqab
Full text of the much talked about speech Justin Trudeau gave in Toronto on March 9th, 2015
“SECURITY” AND WARMONGERING
Toronto Star – CSIS highlights white supremacist threat ahead of radical Islam
“Lone wolf” attacks more often come from white supremacists and extreme right-wing ideologies than from Islamic radicalism, internal CSIS documents say. Citing recent academic research, the unclassified documents note extreme right-wing and white supremacist ideology has been the “main ideological source” for 17 per cent of so-called lone wolf attacks worldwide. Islamic extremism accounted for 15 per cent of such attacks, the document noted, while left-wing extremism and “black power” groups followed with 13 per cent….
The CSIS documents explicitly warn that the notion the Western world is at war with Islam plays into terrorist recruitment strategies. “International terrorist groups place a high priority on radicalizing Westerners who can be used to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries,” the documents read….
Other CSIS documents, obtained by The Canadian Press, warned the Conservatives last September that there is an emerging anti-Islam movement in Canada, similar to movements in Europe.
Stephen Harper’s gotten me so scared, I feel like hiding in a closet. The prime minister is quite right — the highest purpose of government is to protect its citizens. Why, then, does he try to scare the bejesus out of them every day?
I thought leaders in times of crisis were expected to keep calm and carry on, maintaining stiff upper lips and carrying sticks bigger than their tongues. Not our guy. He mongers fear across the land — fear of criminals, fear of terrorists, fear of Iran, fear of Russia — fear in every case gussied up with purple prose, proud to be certain, proud to be loud.
Former Conservative MP Ron Atkey speaks from experience when he tells the House public safety committee that if we want to protect Canadians, the Harper government’s anti-terrorism legislation should include a beefed up Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) and a form of parliamentary oversight.
“The answer to whether parliament or a specialized agency should have the power to review security agencies is easy for me: Canadians should have both,” said Atkey, who served as the first Chair of SIRC from 1984-89.
“It is unfair to dramatically expand CSIS powers to conduct disruptive or international activities to fight terrorism at home and abroad while leaving the watchdog frozen in time,” said Atkey. “Failure of the government to address this issue in the context of this bill is irresponsible.”
The Conservative government has ratcheted up its war of words over Ukraine, with the parliamentary defence secretary claiming Russian warships confronted a Canadian frigate in the Black Sea.
But NATO officials say no such thing happened.
James Bezan, parliamentary secretary to Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney, told the House of Commons earlier this week, “Since arriving in the Black Sea, Royal Canadian Navy sailors have been confronted by Russian warships and buzzed by Russian fighter jets.” Kenney also repeated the claim the next day, stating that a Russian jet buzzed the Canadian frigate HMCS Fredericton at low altitude.
But NATO officials say the frigate, part of a NATO naval task group, was not buzzed and there was no confrontation.