Did Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed jump the queue with her speedy resettlement to Canada?

Good overview on the process followed:

Did Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun jump the queue over other refugees when Canada quickly opened its doors to the Saudi teen who was fleeing an allegedly abusive family?

Not according to Canadian immigration officials and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

While Rahaf’s plea for help on social media got her international headlines and drew the attention of the UNHCR to her plight, the emergency rescue effort was by no means unique — though the warm embrace by a foreign minister at the airport may be.

According to immigration officials, some 200 people are processed under Canada’s Urgent Protection Program each year, with about 50 resettled within the rapid timelines seen in Rahaf’s case. The 18-year-old arrived in Toronto Saturday — accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland — after a tumultuous week that began with Rahaf escaping from her family during a trip to Kuwait. Rahaf then flew to Bangkok, where she was detained by Thai authorities who prepared to deport her to Saudi Arabia, where she feared for her life.

“Canada has the flexibility to respond quickly to individual emergency situations for a small number of refugees,” said immigration department spokesperson Beatrice Fenelon. “These individuals are resettled on an expedited basis due to their particular circumstances.”

In a news conference in Toronto Tuesday, Rahaf, who has dropped her last name after she learned on social media that her family has disowned her, admitted she was “lucky.”

“I know that there are unlucky women who disappeared after trying to escape or who could not do anything to change their reality,” she told reporters.

People in need of protection cannot apply directly to the special Canadian program and requests must be made by referral organizations, such as the UNHCR.

Since Rahaf’s speedy resettlement to Canada — less than a week after she started a Twitter campaign while barricaded inside her hotel room — she has faced backlash not only from internet trolls criticizing her as a disgrace to her family and Islam but also from refugee supporters accusing her of being a queue jumper.

“A Syrian refugee from a war zone who lost everything is not welcome in the west. But a person from a golden palace in Saudi-Arabia who says ‘I am not a Muslim anymore’ is a hero and very welcome. Can someone explain this to me?” Arnoud van Doorn, a member of The Hague City Council in the Netherlands, asked on Twitter.

In Rahaf’s case, the UNHCR dispatched a team to her hotel room in Bangkok for an emergency resettlement assessment after learning from media reports that the teenager was going to be handed over to her family, who were en route to Thailand and planned to take her back to Saudi Arabia.

Among the 25.4 million refugees worldwide, less than 1 per cent end up being resettled, many of them after years in limbo.

“Emergency resettlement is extremely rare,” noted Jean-Nicolas Beuze, the UNHCR representative to Canada. “Based on agreed-upon criteria, we refer these cases to the 30 countries that offer resettlement programs. There are many situations. It could be for the lack of medical care or the fear of torture if someone is returned to the country of origin.”

At her hotel in Bangkok, Rahaf was given a formal interview where she was asked to provide the details and evidence to substantiate her claims of mental and physical abuse by her family. After she got her UNHCR refugee designation, she underwent a thorough security and criminal check, as well as a medical exam, before being admitted to Canada.

“Rahaf met those criteria and we referred her case to several countries. Canada was the fastest to respond. Rahaf can’t choose her destination. She didn’t jump any queue. It’s a different process with different criteria,” said Beuze. “It’s not a unique case, but it’s only unique because of all the media and social media attention.”

While some critics fear Rahaf’s case may set a precedent and open the floodgates for other Middle Eastern women to claim gender oppression, experts say resettlement is only available to those who make it outside their country of origin.

“The assumption is your country can protect you. You become a refugee because you don’t get the protection and other countries need to step in,” said Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “Due to the notion of sovereignty, you can’t be a refugee in your own country.”

While praising Canada’s quick response to Rahaf’s situation, Dench said government officials must not politicize the refugee resettlement process by only prioritizing cases of those “who have the ears of the Prime Minister or Immigration Minister and are the favourite of the month of the media.”

According to the UNHCR, 1.4 million refugees have been identified for resettlement in 2019, but only 80,000 spots are available, including 11,000 in Canada.

Source: Did Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed jump the queue with her speedy resettlement to Canada?

Christie Blatchford has a nice column on her strong character and independence, somewhat spoiled by her last editorial comments on grief and trauma counsellors:

She is a psychologically sturdy, resourceful and strong-willed young woman, this Rahaf Mohammed, recent “urgent protection” case freshly arrived in Toronto from Saudi Arabia via Kuwait and Thailand.

“I want to be independent, travel, make my own decisions on education, a career or who and when I should marry,” she said Tuesday at a big press appearance at COSTi Immigrant Services in the city’s west end.

“I had no say in any of this,” Rahaf said. “Today, I can proudly say that I am capable of making all of those decisions.”

She spoke in Arabic, her words translated and read in English by her COSTI settlement worker, Saba Abbas.

But there is no doubt she wrote it, said COSTI executive director Mario Calla with a grin, acknowledging he has seen evidence of the ferocious independent spirit himself.

For instance, he said, inundated with media requests from across the globe, Rahaf was crystal clear that she would do three interviews (with the ABC Australia network, the CBC and Toronto Star) and that was it, because “ ‘I want to get on with my life,’” Calla said.

“We suggested a press conference,” he said and she agreed to write a statement.

“That statement was all her,” Calla said. “She’s been very clear.”

As she said in it, “I understand that everyone here and around the world wishes me well and would like to continue to hear about how I am doing, but I will not be conducting any more media interviews for the time being.

“I ask everyone to respect my wishes.

“I would like to start living a normal private life, just like any other young woman living in Canada. This starts with me getting help in my settlement process and of course, learning English!”

As a government-sponsored refugee, Rahaf is entitled to 12 months of support (worth almost as much as social assistance, Calla said, lest the amount fuel local resentment), and COSTI will help with English classes, getting her settled into temporary accommodation (first with a family, later on her own) and has hired security guards as protection.

In defying her family and leaving behind the repressive guardianship system of Saudi Arabia, which infantilizes women from cradle to grave and makes them dependent on male relatives (father, husband, brother, etc.) for every decision, the 18-year-old has potentially put herself in danger.

Any country brazen enough to arrange to murder one of its own, as Saudi officials have acknowledged doing to journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, has a long and lethal reach.

As well, Rahaf has been vilified in the Arab world, with the Kingdom insisting the entire business is a family matter blown out of proportion. Amid all the love she has received on social media, inevitably for this new media world, there comes a backlash, and she also has received some threats. She has left Islam.

And Rahaf’s family has apparently denounced her in a tweet of its own; even discussing this was painful for her in the interviews she did.

“She finds it very difficult,” Calla said after her brief appearance before the cameras. “She does not want to talk about those things.” So she decided, he said, fine, she’d pull the Band-Aid off in one fell swoop: “’I’ll get it out there’” (in the interviews) and be done with it.

She arrived in Canada last Saturday after sneaking out from under her family’s grasp on the last day of their holiday in Kuwait, hopping a plane to Bangkok, and then, with her father and brother apparently enroute to retrieve her, barricading herself in an airport hotel room and launching a desperate Twitter campaign begging for help.

She had the savvy of her age group, to harness social media. It’s new, but refugees have long been innovative. As Calla said, “It’s a complex world. People do everything and anything to try to save themselves.” Some sneak over borders; some jump into little boats and try to cross perilous oceans; a few, and probably soon a few more, use social media.

For all her determination and resourcefulness, she’s also just a teenager. The first order of business, Calla said, after she arrived was to go to the mall.

Rahaf had been expecting to end up in Australia, where she was also welcomed, but the bureaucracy there was slower moving, and on the advice of the UNHCR, she landed in Canada instead, wearing just a little skirt. She needed winter clothes.

“And a phone package,” Calla said, smiling. “We did that on Saturday.”

In her new country, press-gangs of grief counsellors and soothers are brought into high schools and colleges at the first hint of trauma, discomfort, even disrespect. The cultural assumption here is that we are fragile beings. So, Calla was asked if Rahaf is receiving psychological support.

“She is not, right now,” he said. “We do have services at COSTI … We have not seen any signs of distress in that sense.” In the longer term, he said, “for any refugee, the big challenge is the loss — family and friends and a culture that was familiar to them.”

In that sense, one of the country’s newest arrivals is like a delicious throwback to an older and more self-reliant Canada.

Stay tough, darling.

Source: Christie Blatchford: Stow the trauma counsellors, this tough runaway is doing fine on her own

Christie Blatchford: Depiction of nude on a prayer mat too provocative for Ontario art school

Over reaction by the students and administration:

The “safe space” people have struck again at another Ontario university campus.

Monday night, an untitled, anonymous piece of art hanging in a student show at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in downtown Toronto was quietly removed.

It was a green Islamic prayer mat with the black outline of a nude woman on it.

In its place is a notice, apparently from the curators and jurors of the show, saying that absent knowing “the intent of the work that was previously hanging in this space,” they had decided to “remove it temporarily … until a statement from the artist can accompany it.”

The notice referred to “the concerns of a number of OCAD University student groups” and offered a one-two apology if either the original inclusion of the piece or its removal “has caused anyone harm.”

The formal complaint came from the Muslim Student Association at the school, which over the weekend issued a statement with several demands — the immediate removal of the piece, an investigation into how it was approved and “whether this was done out of ignorance or not” and an official apology from the university “that this piece was approved for display.”

The controversial piece.

“As a Muslim community,” the statement said, “we feel greatly offended, concerned and disappointed.

“This has already provoked Muslims and has caused very upsetting reactions, and several students’ responses and behaviour towards this is extremely alarming and is starting to make some students feel unsafe at OCAD.

“This is serious and we do not take it lightly.”

In a private, members-only Facebook group for OCAD students, the piece was immediately a lightning rod for controversy after the show, titled Festival of the Body, opened last Friday.

It sparked a spirited debate, sharp rebukes (and much apparent after-the-fact deletion of controversial posts) from the group moderators, one of whom snapped at one point, “This group was doing fine until these recently violent posts by some of you.”

Members of the group say dozens upon dozens of comments were arbitrarily deleted if they weren’t supportive of the decision to remove the piece.

Of those that remain, only one could be remotely described as violent, and it comes from a supporter of removing the prayer mat artwork.

He is a student who works part-time as a cab driver and who asked, “why does someone need to disrespect a whole religion and the way of life of billions of people?” He said the “intent” of the artist didn’t matter.

“… The intent does not change the blatant disrespect to our Islamic faith and the objects, places and symbols we hold dear to our heart.

“Picking up customers in my taxi that swear I hate them and want to kill them simply because I am Muslim or having my mother or my sisters followed and abused for wearing the hijab makes me live a certain anxious and protective lifestyle.”

In a phone interview Tuesday, OCAD professor Natalie Majaba Waldburger, a co-curator of the show, appeared to try to distance the university from the short notice that now sits in place of the art.

She said the artist, whom she identified as a Muslim woman and “we understood she was speaking from within her own cultural practices and experiences,” originally had her name by the piece, but then removed it over the weekend.

Several other pieces — the show includes at least one full-frontal nude, of a male — had no artist statement.

“We didn’t feel we could put up the work without any information,” Waldburger told the National Post.

She said the artist wants to provide an artist’s statement — such statements can range from the direct to the hopelessly oblique — and that “we’ve been working with her the last couple of days. We’ve been in discussion.” Waldburger said she hopes it can be re-installed.

Some sort of authorship, whether the artist’s name or statement, is required, she said. “So for her, no name and no statement means the work has to come down.”

Waldburger said she’s aware of the controversy raging around the work, but “that doesn’t mean we’re shutting the dialogue down. The university supports the right to artistic expression.”

Christine Crosbie, OCAD’s media and communications manager, said the school is aware that freedom of speech issues are controversial on campus at the moment.

“We respect the Muslim Student Association has their opinions, and this is an important dialogue around this piece. It’s a matter of looking at both sides.”

Interestingly, one of the mandatory art history courses at the school covers an infamous piece of art called Immersion (Piss Christ).

A 1987 photograph by American photographer Andres Serrano, Piss Christ is a photo of a plastic crucifix submerged in a tank of Serrano’s own urine.

Just about every time it has been exhibited over the past three decades, Christians have denounced, vandalized or threatened the photograph or photographer.

After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris three years ago, sparked by the satirical magazine republishing the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, the Associated Press removed an image of Piss Christ from its editorial archives.

Serrano wrote at that time, “We’ve seen the same impulse for self-censorship in the West before … Given the seriousness of the violence, such self-censorship is understandable; it’s also a step backward at a time when we need to reassert the importance of free expression by artists, activists, journalists and editors alike.”

Amin, as they say in Arabic.

Source: Christie Blatchford: Depiction of nude on a prayer mat too provocative for Ontario art school

Christie Blatchford: Report shows Toronto school board was wrong to heed activists and end police program

So much for evidence-based policy and decision making:

A comprehensive, three-year research project on the value of having cops in schools has provided a stunning rebuke to the decision last fall by the Toronto District School Board to abruptly cancel its “School Resource Officer” program.

The 258-page analysis, done by two Carleton University professors and their PhD students, shows unequivocally that students overwhelmingly feel safer in school — and even report sleeping better and feeling less anxiety — with SROs.

The project actually began in 2012, long before Black Lives Matter, the amorphous activist group that was most visible — and voluble — in Toronto in the fight to see the program dropped.

That’s when the Carleton research group — headed by Linda Duxbury, a professor in the Sprott School of Business, and Craig Bennell, psychology professor at the university — received funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, to conduct research on changes needed to make policing in Canada better.

Guided by a research advisory board, the team eventually undertook an in-depth look at the Region of Peel next door to Toronto.

There, Peel Regional Police has had SROs in every high school in both public and Catholic systems for more than two decades, and since the program now costs the police $9 million a year, they and the school boards wanted to know, did it work?

Researchers selected five schools that would reflect the diversity of the sprawling region itself: two were so-called “urban-grant” schools and were in socio-economically deprived parts of the region; one was in a wealthy area; two were located in middle-class districts.

Four of the five schools had ethnically diverse student bodies.

The project was a longitudinal (from 2014-2017, multi-method (quantitative, qualitative and ethnographic analysis, as well as a Social Return on Investment or SROI analysis) case study to “identify the value,” or not, of the SRO program.

(SROI analysis is a measurement tool that helps organizations to understand and quantify the social, environmental and economic value they’re creating.)

That meant researchers used both longitudinal survey data from two groups of more than 600 Grade 9 students each at two times of the year – the first, as they came into high school from elementary schools where they are no SROs, and the second, five months later, as they were about to move out of Grade 9 – and in-depth interviews with eight students, all volunteers, and none of them Caucasian.

Responses were confidential; ethics clearance was obtained from Carleton and the two school boards; a note was sent home to parents telling them about the study and offering them the chance to withhold consent.

Only three sets of parents did.

The thinking was, if the goal of the SRO program is to create a safe learning environment, the students about to leave Grade 9, who’d had five months of being in a school with an SRO, should report feeling safer.

Well, did they ever.

All students benefited one way or another by having an SRO, regardless of their gender, or whether they’d ever been arrested or stopped by the police, or whether they had been victimized. “All students … indicated that they felt significantly safer at school and less stressed and anxious” after five months’ exposure to the SRO.

And the more contact a student had with an SRO, the more likely he or she was to see the program in a positive light — and fully 75 per cent of the students felt safer because of the SRO.

Even those who had been arrested or stopped by cops “are significantly more likely than those who have not to report that they feel safe at school and less likely to experience stress and anxiety at school because they are fearful of being bullied or harassed.”

The ones who had been victimized — about 16 per cent — “are one of the greatest beneficiaries of the SRO program and can expect to gain the most from the presence of police in the high schools.”

Even with the SROs, the research found that bullying, particularly by gang members, particularly for kids on the way to and from school, is a real issue for many students in Peel Region. One can only imagine how scared some of those students might be if their schools didn’t have an SRO.

Oh, wait: You don’t have to imagine.

When the Toronto board cancelled its SRO program last fall — it had run in 45 schools — on the basis of anecdotal allegations it was racist and against its own report, which found that the majority of students liked the program but some felt targeted or uncomfortable, it abandoned evidence-based decision-making and effectively hung its students out to dry.

And by the way, using the SROI analysis, the Carleton research found that the social and economic value of having cops in the five schools cost Peel Police $660,289.

The return — that students feel safe, are engaged, can more easily embark on young adulthood successfully, while the community around the school feels safer, etc., etc. — yielded a total present value of $7,349,301.

In other words, for every dollar invested in the Peel SRO program, a minimum of $11.13 of social and economic value was created.

Toronto preferred, to use that ghastly phrase, the “fake news” of activist shouting; Peel opted for the facts.

Source: Christie Blatchford: Report shows Toronto school board was wrong to heed activists and end police program

Christie Blatchford: Toronto school board declares war on ‘chief’ and all sense 

Blatchford has a point (apart from the opening two paras):

If there were any doubt, there is no more: Canada is the stupidest country ever.

The evidence, already all around, is now irrefutable.

The Toronto District School Board, in its efforts to remain ahead of the Ontario government curve on all gender-cultural-political sensitivities, is not only contenting itself with following Education Minister Mitzie Hunter’s directive of early this year to review all potentially indigenous-offensive team names and mascots, but also has declared war on the word “chief.”

“I can confirm that the title ‘chief’ is being phased out in various departments at the TDSB,” board spokesman Ryan Bird told Postmedia in an email Tuesday.

“It’s part of the ongoing work that the school board does through the TDSB’s Aboriginal Education Centre with regards to Truth and Reconciliation (Commission, or the TRC, which produced its massive final report in 2015).”

While apparently some key titles at the board were changed a few years ago, such as chief financial officer, among the recent casualties is the sign on the door to the office of Chief Caretaker Karen Griffith at Glenview Public School in the city’s affluent north end.

There, last week, staff noticed that the word “chief” had been blacked out on the door.

(Apparently, no thought or consideration had been given to how students of colour might react to the notion that a bad sign could be simply blacked out, and whether this is tantamount to cultural erasure.)

Presumably, board chair John Malloy will have to review and correct his C.V., where he is still described as former Chief Student Achievement Officer for the provincial education ministry.

Presumably, the board’s chief technology officer and chief information officer and chief social worker will all have to do the same. Etc., etc.

Attempts to find out precisely where in the TRC’s Calls to Action section there is any cry for the de-chiefing of the language in Canadian schools went unanswered. The board spokesman, Bird, tried hard on Postmedia’s behalf to get someone to respond but to no avail.

The best he could do, he said, was to suggest that the move didn’t necessarily come out of the TRC itself, but was “an aspect of a larger conversation staff have had” since the report was issued. Bird said he consulted with a TDSB elder who told him that probably “every Aboriginal person has been referred to as ‘chief’” in a derogatory way at some point in his or her life.

But the fact of the matter is that the word is Latin in origin and comes from the Latin “caput,” meaning head or leader, via the French, where chef is short for chef de cuisine, or boss of the kitchen.

If many people understand that caricatures such as Chief Wahoo, the mascot of the Cleveland Indians, might be offensive to Indigenous ears and eyes, it’s a struggle to get the notion that a non-Indigenous word such as “chief” is equally insulting.

Bird said the remaining board staff with offensive titles were notified verbally last month. Because there’s no formal motion or document describing corrective action, it’s impossible to know what precisely staff were told to do.

Source: Christie Blatchford: Toronto school board declares war on ‘chief’ and all sense | National Post

Alt-right’s jocular façade attempt to deny responsibility: Southey, Proud Boys’ behaviour goofy, but hardly ‘deplorable’: Blatchford

Interesting contrast between Tabatha Southey’s description of the “Proud Boys” and Christie Blatchford’s.

Starting with Southey:

The Halifax incident made national headlines, as a story like this should, particularly as all the men involved – who later celebrated at a local Halifax pub, posting pictures of themselves making the “okay” symbol with one hand, a beer in the other – turned out to be members of Canada’s Armed Forces. As a nation, we are now forced to ask ourself the question “Who the hell are these jokers?” and, always anxious to serve, I present A Brief History of Slime, the story of the Proud Boys.

It’s best to think of the Proud Boys as a group of guys possessed of a seriously shaky grasp of history and a burning desire to wear the same shirt as the guy next to them, who want a white supremacist to tell them when they are allowed to masturbate.

It’s not a fetish I’ve encountered before, but were the Proud Boys not also a far-right group of self-described “Western Chauvinists who will no longer apologize for creating the modern world,” who are against “racial guilt” and who “venerate the housewife” and believe “that the last 50 years have been a disaster for women” (one doesn’t have to be Alan Turing to break thatcode), I wouldn’t kink-shame.

As it is, I have concerns.

The Proud Boys were launched and are headed by Gavin McInnes, Vice magazine co-founder (although they parted long ago) and current contributor to The Rebel Media, the right-wing website founded by Ezra Levant; and yes, a strict limit on masturbation is one of their many peculiarities.

They “believe that this energy,” the energy spent masturbating, “is better spent … getting married, and having children,” and I suppose that’s their call but I can’t help thinking that if you truly believe that by not masturbating you’ll be able to save enough energy to raise a child, you are doing one of these things very, very badly.

Some of you may remember Mr. McInnes as the man who made a bit of a splash with neo-Nazis in March when a number of videos he recorded on a recent trip to Israel were posted.

In these videos, one of which was called “10 things I Hate About the Jews,” Mr. McInnes variously put the word “Holocaust” in air quotes, complained that Jews, who he said “are ruining the world with their lies and their money and their hooked-nose, bagel-eating faces,” have a “whiny paranoid fear of Nazis.” He repeatedly spoke in a grotesque cartoon Jewish accent and said that people in Israel spit when they talk and that “Middle Easterners reek.”

Ensconced in his hotel room in Israel, which he believes was likely paid for, along with the rest of his “propaganda tour,” by private Israeli donors and the Israeli government, Mr. McInnes told viewers that while they “assume we’re going to listen to all this shit we get fed” it’s “having the reverse effect on me: I’m becoming anti-Semitic.”

“Well, we’re at the Holocaust museum, and we’re being told, ‘The Germans did this. The Germans are horrible people …’” he sulked, apparently irritated that Holocaust deniers might not be getting a fair hearing at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial.

“Well, they never said it didn’t happen,” he said, in an attempt to remedy this perceived injustice. “What they’re saying is it was much less than six million and that they starved to death and they weren’t gassed …”

Mr. McInnes was quick to ask that the viewer not “take that clip out of context.” He’s not saying “it wasn’t gassing” – that’s just what the “far-right nuts are saying” and, being “sick of so much brainwashing,” he felt compelled to articulate the theories of said nuts.

Mr. McInnes worries that we’re too caught up on the Holocaust in general. “There’s been a lot of genocides,” he says, most notable to him being the Soviet Holodomor, of which he says, “I think it was 10 million Ukrainians who were killed. That was by Jews. That was by Marxist, Stalinist, left-wing, commie, socialist Jews.”

It seems that the major distinction between the alt-right and Mr. McInnes’s preferred “alt-light” is that the former are very concerned about “Judeo-Bolshevism,” the Nazi conspiracy theory that Jews were secretly behind the rise of communism; and the latter just wish to inform you that the Soviet Union (or at least the more genocidal aspects of it) was secretly run by Jews.

Jews have been very busy in the Proud Boy’s founder’s bizarre understanding of history. When not engineering the downfall of the Russian Czar, they were “disproportionately” influencing the Treaty of Versailles, forcing terribly unfair terms of surrender on Germany. The treaty “sucked and the Germans hated it” Mr. McInnes says, indicating that “Jewish intellectuals” were, at least in part, responsible for the Second World War, and the Holocaust, such as it was.

If this sounds extreme, anti-Semitic, or perhaps dangerous to you, it’s okay: Mr. McInnes chortles when he says these things, allowing his fans to assure us that it’s just harmless comedy.

If much of what you see on the alt-right side looks and sounds so ridiculous, such jocular goose-stepping, these days, that’s deliberate. Share a photograph of you and your be-polo-shirted buddies flashing the Nazi salute, and the popular discourse knows just what to do with you. Substitute the “okay” gesture – unofficially but lovingly adopted by this crowd – and anyone who points out the white-supremacist imagery is just a crazy leftist snowflake who probably thinks a cartoon frog is a hate symbol too.

What we’re seeing here, and in Halifax, is white supremacy painted over with a coat of irony, euphemism and plausible deniability. All of that just barely thick enough that Mr. McInnes still gets airtime on CBC’s Power & Politics. He used this airtime, speaking in his capacity as the Proud Boys’ founder and leader, to ask the host “Can you see why Cornwallis issued a bounty on Mi’kmaqs?” and spread, pretty much unchallenged, a number of hateful and damaging historical inaccuracies about the Mi’kmaqs. (The CBC has since apologized for the segment.)

Source: The alt-right’s jocular façade is an attempt to deny responsibility – The Globe and Mail

Blatchford’s alternative universe:

A small crowd was gathered around the statue, one of them carrying an upside-down Canadian flag with the word “decolonize” written on it, there to mark the various atrocities committed against Indigenous people while Chief Grizzly Mamma, who is originally from British Columbia, shaved her head.

According to what McInnes later told the CBC, the five were in a bar on July 1, heard rumours of an anti-Canada protest, and decided to go check it out.

Also for the record, the men were well-spoken, polite and respectful; they were met by a young woman, from the protesters, who was equally polite and respectful. The men explained they were curious and wanted to see what was going on; she said they’d be welcome to listen quietly if they didn’t disrupt things.

But a couple of other protesters were not similarly inclined.

One snarled, “This is a fucking genocide.” Someone else said, “This is Mi’kmaq territory, to which one of the Proud Boys replied, “This is Canada.” Members of each side tossed about historically inaccurate facts in the manner of the young and unschooled. Another young woman bristling with hostility kept moving closer to one of the men until she was practically touching him. “You don’t seem to like me standing so close,” she said. “You’re very close,” he replied calmly.

But then the Proud Boys left, having been chastised for their pronunciation of Mi’kmaq and for their disrespectful tone, or, as a protester put it, got “the —- out of here.”

There were no harsh words from the Proud Boys. There was even some humour; once, told by a protester to speak more softly, one of the men said, in effect, “What? This is a library now?” But he did as he was asked.

Not a blow was struck. Not a disrespectful word was uttered, unless, of course, one counts the mere questioning of Indigenous protest as disrespectful. Not a gram of cereal was consumed or thrown.

Source: Christie Blatchford: Proud Boys’ behaviour might be goofy, but is hardly ‘deplorable’


Christie Blatchford: We need light, not heat as violence by and toward police grows

One of her better columns:

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in the very first speech that brought him to wide American attention, “There comes a time when people get tired.”

Well then, let’s hope we are all there now — the frightened and furious young black men whose brothers are shot and killed by U.S. police in staggering numbers and in sometimes galling circumstances, the scared and beleaguered police, and yes, the mass media and social media with our giddy group embrace of violence in all its forms.

As the CNN commentator Van Jones said Friday, if you bleed for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (the black men killed by police this week in Baton Rouge, La., and near Minneapolis, Minn.) but not for the five dead Dallas police officers murdered during a Black Lives Matter protest Thursday night, “you need a heart check.” If you bleed for the slain police but not for Sterling and Castile, Jones said, “You need a heart check.”

It is, in other words, time for empathy, that great saving human ability to feel the pain of another without having to have walked in his actual shoes.

The great American civil rights leader made his speech on Dec. 5, 1955.

It was long ago and far away.

King was in Montgomery, Ala., about 585 kilometres from Baton Rouge, where Sterling was killed, and almost twice that to Falcon Heights, Minn., where Castile was shot to death.

But what he said, in part, to a thousand black Americans crowded into the Holt Street Baptist Church that night was this: “We are here this evening to say to those who have mistreated us so long that we are tired — tired of being segregated and humiliated; tired of being kicked about by the brutal feet of oppression.

“There comes a time my friends when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, when they experience the bleakness of nagging despair.”

Segregation ended, though it was another nine years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 put an official end to it, and while much has changed, does that language not sound an awful lot like the same general bone weariness heard in recent weeks from black residents in U.S. city after U.S. city and even in Toronto? It does.

This week, former Canada AM news anchor and co-host Marci Ien was a guest host on The Live Drive, a Newstalk 1010 radio show.

Conflict-of-interest declaration, I do a bit on the show, but listened afterwards as Ien spoke with tremendous eloquence of her experiences as a smart young black woman growing up in Toronto.

In her quiet voice, she said, “There isn’t a man in my life, from my father who’s in his 70s to my husband to my brothers-in-law, who hasn’t been stopped by police (in effect, for driving while black) at some point.”

Born and raised in Scarborough, Ont., and proud of it, Ien had a girl seven years before she learned her second child was a boy. “My heart skipped a beat,” she said, “when I realized I was having a son. I was worried. No mother should ever feel that.”

Now, as her little boy grows up, Ien said, she is braced for the conversation she will have to have with him — about the clothes she wonders if he can wear (“Can he wear a hoodie? Low-slung jeans?”) and how he’s to behave if he’s stopped by police. “The utmost respect should be there anyway,” she said, meaning she and her husband would teach that as a matter of course, but their son will be told to ramp it up.

“These are the conversations black families have with their sons and the young men they care about,” she said. If this great woman has to have this sort of discussion with her son, that’s something the rest of us, including the police, have to accept.

Ien was commenting on Tuesday, after Sterling’s death, but before Castile’s and before the shocking Dallas mass murder.

The officers — seven others were wounded — were slain by what the FBI says now was a lone sniper, 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson, a former U.S. Army reserve veteran.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said that before he was essentially blown apart by a bomb-laden robot the police force dispatched, Johnson told hostage negotiators “he was upset about Black Lives Matter. He said he was upset about the recent police shootings. The suspect said he was upset about white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”

Armed to the teeth, better equipped than the unsuspecting police watching over the protest, Johnson did just that.

The ambush came everywhere as a terrible shock to police officers, who, as Chief Brown said drily at one point, “aren’t very accustomed to hearing thank you, sometimes from the citizens who most need our help.” That’s putting it kindly; even at peaceful protests, even in Canadian cities, police are routinely faced with people spitting at them, cursing them and trying to provoke them.

Yet few of them would have predicted what happened in Dallas.

It was Newstalk host Jay Michaels who suggested Friday that just as hateful ISIL propaganda and violent beheading videos on the web have served to radicalize unhappy young men in the West and turn them into homegrown terrorists, so perhaps the constant inflamed rhetoric about police violence in the press and the ghastly cellphone videos of police shootings may have inspired Johnson.

It feels as though we’re on a precipice. We need to be accountable for what we collectively have sown: the bad and racist police officers and the forces that employ them, the empty violent rhetoric of the mob, and the media and web airing of every grievance anywhere in the world and making it local.

What we need is light, not heat, and we need to do Van Jones’ heart check.

Source: Christie Blatchford: We need light, not heat as violence by and toward police grows | National Post

Toronto Mayor John Tory calls for end to carding – Toronto – CBC News

Quite a change from his earlier position (not a bad thing in itself to be flexible and respond to public pressure):

Tory said the issue has been among “the most personally agonizing” since he became mayor.

“After great personal reflection and many discussions … I concluded it was time to say, enough. It was time to acknowledge there is no real way to fix a practice which has come to be regarded as illegitimate, disrespectful and hurtful.

“It was better to start over.”

Tory said his discussions included a talk with journalist Desmond Cole, who recently wrote about his experiences with carding for Toronto Life.

Cole said he was “overjoyed” with the mayor’s move, but cautioned that more action is needed.

“This has been a long time coming,” Cole told reporters. “Now we have to make sure [Tory] and the police services board and Chief Mark Saunders follow-up on this announcement … so carding is actually ended. So we’ll wait and see.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory calls for end to carding – Toronto – CBC News.

Christie Blatchford’s take:

Carding aside, what’s interesting here is that as of last week, presumably shortly before he hopped that plane to Edmonton, Tory was proudly standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Toronto’s new police chief, Mark Saunders, in defending the practice — always with a view to reforming it and improving it, he said (as indeed does the chief) but defending it nonetheless, and seemingly with sincerity.

It was a brave, if politically dangerous, position to take, I thought, and reinforced the romantic notion I think I had of the new mayor. (Before running for mayor, he was the host of a radio show on Newstalk 1010, where I was a regular guest, and I came to like him very much, and still do.)

But he is a politician, after all, and one who after several unsuccessful forays in politics has landed in a job he absolutely loves and for which he seems tailor-made: He works like a dog, is out and about every weekend at this festival or that, and has been by most measures a pretty good mayor.

And politicians, perhaps particularly those who enjoy the work and relentless social contact it entails, don’t like being unloved.

The voices against carding were rising; nothing said that better than a press conference last week featuring all manner of former civic leaders (why, they ran the gamut from A to B, from Gordon Cressy to David Crombie) denouncing the practice. And the voices against it were also louder (the Star has made it a veritable campaign, with at least one of its columnists suggesting pretty directly that Tory was a racist for supporting carding) than any on the other side.

I suspect internal polling numbers told Tory this was not a fight he would win, and that his support, even for a reformed version of carding, might define his mayoralty. And it’s a more believable explanation than the revelation-in-a-taxi or the epiphany-on-the-streetcar.

Christie Blatchford: Epiphanies on playing the cards right

Blatchford: Convicted hate-monger gets added jail time for his Muslim-offending ‘social experiment’

Worth reading. Eric Brazau, the person convicted, certainly seems a nasty piece of work.

Blatchford appears to be critical of the judge’s decision to “throw the book” at Brazeau. Would she be as critical of the judge’s decision had the comments been directed at Jews? Blacks?

Blatchford: Convicted hate-monger gets added jail time for his Muslim-offending ‘social experiment’.

Christie Blatchford: Canada shows lack of kindness in deporting harmless Pakistani woman

Blatchford on the case of a Pakistani woman being deported despite the risks facing her back in Pakistan and a request to put the deportation order on hold by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

But that order was put on hold at the request of the UN high commissioner for human rights; Canada is a signatory to the convention against torture and other such treatment. Mr. Khan says he has the documents to prove it, but we ran out of time on Tuesday for him to get them to me.

The thing is, though the UN request to delay the deportation makes what happened here more egregious, I don’t care about it. And though I take Mr. Khan and Ms. Bibi at their word that the allegations against her are fraudulent, not to mention ludicrous, I don’t particularly care about that either. If a Pakistani woman has the courage to take a boyfriend, I say good on her. I also accept that her life may be in danger back in her home country, and I certainly hope it isn’t, but it’s not even that which galls me most.

What harm was she doing anyone, living her secure and simple life in Saskatoon, working in her friend’s restaurant, checking in every week just as she was supposed to do, getting by? Who was she hurting?

Even if the worst thing she faces in Pakistan is poverty and fear and the normal oppressive anti-woman air in that country, she had a better life here, and as a fifth-generation Canadian, I wanted that for her.

We can afford such kindnesses in this big, empty country.

Hard to disagree.

Christie Blatchford: Canada shows lack of kindness in deporting harmless Pakistani woman

Her follow-up column regarding the Government’s cruel mishandling of her case:

Jason Tamming, spokesman for and press secretary to federal Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney, courteously replied Wednesday with a one-size-fits-all statement to my specific questions about Ms. Bibi’s case. I noted he managed to answer neither question, and asked again why Canada didn’t comply with the request from the UN committee against torture. Are such requests now utterly meaningless, I asked?

Mr. Tamming didn’t reply. I take his silence, and Canada’s conduct, as a resounding yes.

Christie Blatchford: Judge rejected Pakistani woman’s refugee claim because husband hadn’t disowned her

Blatchford: Kim-like takeover bid a terrifying twist in the Rob Ford drama

Best piece on the Ford family reality show I have read:

Rob Ford, hospitalized with a tumour this week and facing what he admits “could be a battle of my lifetime,” was withdrawing from the mayor’s race. He’s sick and scared, you see; he didn’t say that directly, but that’s what his decision to drop out meant, and fair enough.

But as it turns out, neither he nor anyone else in the family is so sick or so scared that they didn’t didn’t also set in motion the old bait-and-switch, with Rob simultaneously announcing his candidacy for councillor in Ward 2, his home ward, and that he’d asked brother Doug to “finish what we started together,” and that Doug would now carry on in the mayoral race.

Oh, and as well, even as Doug was being registered at the clerk’s office downtown, so was their nephew, Michael Ford, withdrawing as a candidate for the Ward 2 seat to make room for the mayor, and instead throwing his hat into the ring for school trustee in neighbouring Ward 1.

It was as though it was inconceivable that Toronto, like Pyongyang, should manage without a Ford for every citizen. As Kim Jong-un took over as Supreme Leader upon the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, the Eternal General, in 2011, who himself took over the reins of power from his old man, Kim Il-sung, the Great Leader, when he died in 1994, so were the Fords digging deep into their gene pool.

On the tube, no kidding, reporters were soon referring to the press conference Doug Ford would be holding that evening at “Mamma Ford’s house.” They might as well have called Diane Ford “Dear Mother,” you know?

To use a PM Harper word, it would be good for Toronto and the country if this “trifecta” of Fords would be given a time-out by the electorate, although Rob will likely win back his counsellor seat.

Blatchford: Kim-like takeover bid a terrifying twist in the Rob Ford drama.