Clark: Three Conservative MPs who saw no evil until after lunch

Good analysis and depressing reality that Pierre Poilievre is overly beholden to the more extreme elements in the party. And Max Bernier is already fundraising off this “discreet” repudiation of the AfD by Poilievre:

If you’re not familiar with the policies of the Alternative for Germany, the party represented by MEP Christine Anderson, you’re not alone. But the three Conservative MPs who met her for a long lunch last week didn’t get there by accident.

That is not to say the three MPs are racist. Leslyn Lewis, Colin Carrie, and Dean Allison aren’t known as that at all. They are the Conservative Party’s unofficial conspiracy caucus.

So when the Conservative Party issued a statement that said the three didn’t know Ms. Anderson’s views, and later two organizers of the three-hour lunch said the MPs knew a lot about who they were meeting, well, both of those things might be sort of true.

It’s easy to find out the AfD stands for anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and xenophobic views, because it can be quickly discovered on the internet, in newspapers or videos, or from many sources. But it also seems very possible that these three read about it and didn’t believe it.

Mr. Carrie apparently didn’t believe COVID-19 vaccines were safe, so, according to a Conservative source, he was one of the four MPs who did not go the Commons in person in the fall of 2021. Mr. Allison apparently didn’t believe public health officials who said the veterinary anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin wasn’t proven for treating COVID-19, and he gave a presentation about it to a group of Tory MPs. Last year, Ms. Lewis falsely claimed a then-undrafted World Health Organization treaty would give the WHO power to dictate all of Canada’s health care decisions in a pandemic. The three wink at the theory that the World Economic Forum is a cabal to control Canada and the world.

And guess what? Ms. Anderson shares a lot of their views about vaccine mandates and globalists. They saw her as an ally, and apparently chose not to see the rest. She tells people she is not xenophobic or anti-Muslim, although she doesn’t really eschew those sentiments. “I do not have problems with Muslims. I have a problem with Islam. I do not consider Islam to be a religion,” she told the right-wing website Rebel News.

Prominent AfD figures have played down the Holocaust and Nazi era, and spoken of immigrants as invaders. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs raised concerns about the three MPs meeting with Ms. Anderson. The AfD tends to target Muslims with its policies, but they include banning kosher meat and “non-medical” circumcision. Its politicians aren’t the advocates of freedom they claim to be.

So Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre did the right thing when he issued a statement to reporters who asked that criticized Ms. Anderson’s views as “vile.” That’s unequivocal. The party issued a statement saying the three MPs had not known about her views. Mr. Carrie took the extra step of tweeting that he regretted his mistake and will do better.

That didn’t settle it, however. Mr. Poilievre didn’t put his statement on his or the party’s social media or website, and critics accused him of try to keep it low-key with his own base.

But he probably got more criticism from the right – and Mr. Carrie got a helping of it, too – from people who accused him of backing down in the face of criticism from the media. Rebel News ran a piece that said Mr. Poilievre “panicked” and threw his MPs to the “media wolves.” They didn’t feel the Conservative Leader stood up for principle, but rather that he caved.

That is a message to Mr. Poilievre that he will pay a political price on his right wing if he distances the Conservative Party from extremists like the AfD. And, by the way, the People’s Party is waiting there.

It’s worth noting Ms. Anderson’s AfD evolved into what it is because of how it dealt with extreme elements.

Alternative for Germany came out in 2013 as an anti-European Union splinter from conservative parties, but its first leader, Bernd Lucke, quit in 2015 complaining the party was taken over by xenophobic elements under new leader Frauke Petry. In 2017, Ms. Petry lost a power struggle with the more extreme far right wing of the party, and later quit the party, too.

So if there’s a vein of folks in the Conservative Party that doesn’t want to see the extremism of some who claim to be allies, they should be warned. There is a line. If you choose not to see it at your lunch table, it just gets closer.

Source: Three Conservative MPs who saw no evil until after lunch

Close Roxham Road border crossing within 30 days, Poilievre urges

Could we not have some more serious discussion of solutions rather than simplistic Conservative virtue signalling and, for that matter, simplistic Liberal virtue signalling?

Ironically, arguments that Canada is “broken” apply particularly in the case of immigration and thus no need for cheap points:

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling for the federal government to close the Roxham Road border crossing within 30 days amid a rising influx of migrants entering Quebec irregularly and spurring calls from Quebec leaders who say their communities cannot keep up with the pace.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday, Poilievre laid the blame for the surge of migrants squarely at the feet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who he accused of encouraging irregular crossings at Roxham Road and not addressing a backlog of refugee claims.

The Conservative leader argued that Trudeau had already demonstrated Roxham Road could be closed without violating the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, and urged the government to do so again — failing to mention the entire border was shut down during that time.

“If we are a real country, we have borders. And if this is a real prime minister, he is responsible for those borders,” he said.

The Safe Third Country Agreement requires asylum seekers arriving in Canada or the U.S. to make their claim in the first country they arrive in and forbids them from first arriving in one country and then making a claim in another. However, migrants who cross the border between official posts can claim asylum after they are intercepted by police as they are already on Canadian soil.

Poilievre’s comments come as Quebec Premier Francois Legault this week called on Trudeau to make the Roxham Road crossings a top priority for next month’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and to renegotiate the agreement.

He reportedly told Trudeau in a letter on Sunday the pact has pushed asylum seekers to Roxham Road, and that a renegotiated treaty should apply to all entry points.

On Tuesday, the Globe and Mail published an English-language letter by Legault where he said the number of would-be asylum seekers entering Quebec “has exploded,” pushing the province’s social services to their limits. The premier also pitched other provinces to take in some of those migrants.

Source: Close Roxham Road border crossing within 30 days, Poilievre urges

Poilievre veut miser sur l’immigration pour renflouer le système de santé

Of note, the general messaging (Chantal Hébert has a good analysis of CPC prospects Pierre Poilievre is unpopular in Canada’s second-largest province — and so are his policies):

Un gouvernement conservateur sous Pierre Poilievre reconnaîtrait les compétences des travailleurs étrangers en santé dans un délai de 60 jours, et ce, afin de désengorger le système de santé.

C’est ce qu’a affirmé le chef du Parti conservateur du Canada, lundi après-midi, dans le cadre d’un point de presse tenu à l’occasion d’une mini-tournée québécoise, où il a rencontré plus tôt dans la journée des familles dont un membre est touché par un trouble du spectre de l’autisme et des représentants de la Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec.

Ces déclarations font écho à un engagement précédent formulé par M. Poilievre, qui souhaitait faciliter et accélérer la reconnaissance des compétences des travailleurs immigrants.

« Seulement 43 % des médecins immigrants et 37 % des infirmières immigrantes ont le droit de pratiquer leur métier, a déploré M. Poilievre. Pour ces candidats, les coûts de formation n’entrent même pas dans l’équation. Il suffirait d’attester de leurs compétences sur la foi de ce qu’ils sont en mesure d’accomplir, le tout dans 60 jours, plutôt que de se fier sur leur pays d’origine. »

Le député de Carleton, en Ontario, souhaiterait également que le programme de reconnaissance des acquis soit accessible aux candidats avant même leur arrivée au Canada, afin de raccourcir le processus le plus possible. Son gouvernement s’engagerait par ailleurs à soutenir 34 000 prêts pour tout autant d’immigrants établis au pays afin qu’ils puissent reprendre leurs études pour se mettre aux normes canadiennes.

Pour soulager le système de santé, le chef conservateur propose aussi de réduire les listes d’attente et d’accélérer l’approbation canadienne de traitements d’avant-garde éprouvés dans d’autres pays industrialisés.

Moins d’inflation et de paperasse

M. Poilievre a profité de sa brève allocution pour rappeler trois promesses que son parti s’engage à respecter s’il est porté au pouvoir.

Il propose d’abord une « loi du 1 $ pour 1 $», où son gouvernement retrancherait toute somme nouvellement investie d’un autre programme afin d’éviter d’endetter davantage les Canadiens, ce qu’il reproche à son homologue libéral.

« Les Canadiens sont en train de souffrir, nous sommes face à un taux d’inflation parmi les plus élevés des quarante dernières années », a déclaré M. Poilievre, qui plaide pour un meilleur contrôle des dépenses. « L’augmentation des coûts du gouvernement Trudeau, avec ses 500 millions de dollars de déficit inflationniste, a entraîné une augmentation du coût de la vie », a-t-il ajouté.

Le chef conservateur a par ailleurs promis de « rendre le travail payant » plutôt que de le punir, notamment en allégeant la fiscalité et les différents programmes gouvernementaux, le tout afin de remettre davantage d’argent dans les poches des travailleurs.

Enfin, le chef de l’opposition officielle à Ottawa s’est engagé à réduire la bureaucratie et la « paperasserie » imposées aux entreprises afin de les rendre plus productives, notamment dans les secteurs minier et hydroélectrique, pour planifier la transition écologique.

M. Poilievre sera de passage à Trois-Rivières et à Québec plus tard cette semaine pour « entendre le gros bon sens des Québécois et des Québécoises » dans l’optique de préparer le programme conservateur en vue de la rentrée parlementaire, plus tard ce mois-ci.

Source: Poilievre veut miser sur l’immigration pour renflouer le système de santé

Safe Third Country Agreement is ‘working’ despite surge in irregular crossings: minister

Of note (not sure its perceived as working by the public):

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) is “working,” despite the massive increase in migrants using unofficial border crossings last year compared to previous years.

Mendicino told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an interview airing Sunday, Canadian officials and their American counterparts continue to work together to modernize the agreement. Still, he insists the system is functioning.

“To be clear, that agreement remains in place and it is working,” he said. “The RCMP are doing the job of intercepting those who are coming into the country, which obviously underscores the integrity of our borders and the investments, which are backstopped by the federal government.”

The STCA was first signed 20 years ago, and there have been talks of modernizing it since 2018, with some changes made in 2019. Under the STCA, people seeking refugee status in either Canada or the U.S. must make their claim in the first country they enter.

The loophole that the agreement applies only to official land border crossings means asylum seekers who manage to enter a country via an unofficial crossing — such as Roxham Road along the Quebec-New York border — are not returned.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the number of RCMP interceptions and asylum claims at unofficial border crossings between Canada and the U.S. hit a six-year high in 2022. There was a drastic drop in the numbers as of spring 2020 and throughout 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the border.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re going to be able to land it,” he said. “In the meantime, we’ll continue to make historic investments and work with provincial and territorial partners, so that asylum seekers who have a basis on which to make those claims in Canada are able to do so, but do so in a safe and orderly way.”

“It’s important that we recognize that we have an immigration system that works, and that fosters safe and orderly flow both when it comes to asylum seekers, as well as economic immigrants,” he also said.

Conservative Leader Poilievre Poilievre said this week that the Liberal government should renegotiate the agreement “in order to close Roxham Road,” adding he understands why people try to use it, because the Canadian immigration system is “now so slow and so broken.” He blamed the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada application backlog, and said the prime minister should “renegotiate the deal with the Americans, and speed up the processing of immigration generally.”

Source: Safe Third Country Agreement is ‘working’ despite surge in irregular crossings: minister

Mason: We have questions about Pierre Poilievre’s passport story

Good thorough exposé. Clever gimmicks need to reflect the reality, and be confirmed by the reality. To date, neither “True North” or Rebel Media have picked up Polievre’s claims:

Have you heard the one about the guy from Calgary who couldn’t attend his own wedding in Cuba because he didn’t have a passport?

Even better – it was all Justin Trudeau’s fault.

This remarkable tale, with an emphasis on tale, comes courtesy of the great storyteller himself, Pierre Poilievre. The federal Conservative Leader posted a video online last week in which he chronicled a random meeting he had recently at the Ottawa airport with a man who identified himself as Mustafa, from Calgary.

When Mr. Poilievre asked what he was doing in Ottawa, Mustafa said he was there to get a passport. “You can get a passport in Calgary,” the Opposition leader told the man. “I thought so too, but I applied 10 months ago and it became desperate because I have a wedding in Cuba for myself and I need to get my passport to get there.”

“When’s your wedding?” Mr. Poilievre apparently said.

Dramatic pause.

“Yesterday,” Mustafa is said to have answered.

When Mr. Poilievre asked where the bride-to-be was, Mustafa said she was in Cuba waiting for him with 20 of his best friends.

“This is how everything operates with Justin Trudeau,” Mr. Poilievre says into the camera. “People still waiting 10 months for a passport.”

I have questions. Many others have questions too. But I guess my first one is: Does Mustafa actually exist? Because I have suspicions and I’m not the only one.

After watching Mr. Poilievre’s video, which he posted on Twitter, I put a call out on the social media platform for anyone who had more information on the man named Mustafa. Did anyone know him or know anything about his circumstances? I directed the question to Mr. Poilievre’s office as well. The last time I looked, my tweet had almost 254,000 views and incited the hashtag #whereisMustafa. There was nothing from anyone who could substantiate any part of the story. (Many expressed skepticism about it.) However, plenty of people relayed how quickly they were able to get their passports after applying. Some in less than 10 days.

But let’s assume for the moment Mustafa does exist. My first question to him would be: why would you organize a wedding in Cuba and send your bride-to-be and all your friends there when you didn’t have a passport? I mean, seriously. Many would say Mustafa was pretty dumb to organize a destination wedding when he didn’t have the necessary documents to attend it.

There were avenues he could have explored to expedite the processing time for his application. He could have gone to a passport office, explained his circumstances, and paid extra to get it quicker. He could have contacted his MP. Mostly, he could have said to his fiancée: “You know, we should hold off until I actually have my passport in hand.”

Regardless, it’s a pretty poor example for Mr. Poilievre to be holding up of why “everything is broken in this country.”

It also has echoes of MP Mark Strahl’s infamous constituent “Briane,” the single mom from Chilliwack who the Conservative politician insisted had her bank account frozen over a $50 donation she made to the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa. However, the RCMP and the finance ministry cast doubts on the story and Mr. Strahl refused to provide any further details about her identity.

But back to his boss.

At some point Mr. Poilievre needs to begin showing that he is prime ministerial material, that he has the gravitas to ascend to such an important position. Because up to now, he’s been one of the least serious Conservative leaders we have seen in some time.

Yes, he’s articulate and can make a great video. But mostly he’s demonstrated an ability to whip up fear and stoke anger. Every conceivable problem in this country he lays at the feet of Mr. Trudeau. His predecessor, Erin O’Toole, recently said that some of the “hyperaggressive” rhetoric his party has been associated with in the last while is slowly “normalizing rage and damaging our democracy.”

He could have been looking straight into the eyes of Mr. Poilievre when he said it.

There are many things that the Liberal government in Ottawa can and should be criticized for. Its fiscal and monetary policy. Debt. Immigration policy. Our shrinking middle-power status. These are big, heady matters that demand a thoughtful critique, not gimmicky, attention-getting videos that don’t offer solutions but are seemingly designed solely to assign blame and agitate the masses.

Whether Mustafa actually exists is not the question here. The question is why is Pierre Poilievre talking about him in the first place?

Source: We have questions about Pierre Poilievre’s passport story

Poilievre mum on Tory MP’s ‘illegal refugees’ comment, calls for Roxham Road closure

Of note. He should know better than making the statement “It is not legal to cross there. That is a reality. It is not legal to cross there.” given that it is legal, if not desirable :

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called for the closure of the Roxham Road irregular border crossing on Tuesday, but sidestepped questions about one of his MPs denying help to a family who used it to enter the country.

During a news conference on Parliament Hill,his first of 2023,he told reporters that he favours legal immigration but can understand the desperation that leads migrants to cross into Canada through the unofficial entry point south of Montreal.

“I understand why desperate people are trying to cross there,” he said. “Our system is now so slow and so broken.”

Poilievre pointed to the fact that the federal immigration department currently has a backlog of nearly 1.1 million applications to process, which was higher under periods of lockdown during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reported that as of the end of November, it had 1.09 million applications in the queue that exceed the department’s service standard, a problem that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has committed to tackle.

The Tory leader argued Tuesday that fixing the problem could lead to fewer people crossing through unofficial entry points such as Roxham Road.

“It is not legal to cross there. That is a reality. It is not legal to cross there.”

Thousands of asylum-seekers have entered the country between official ports of entry in recent years and then made refugee claims once in Canada.

Those who come from the United States via official crossings can be turned away under Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S., on the basis that claimants have access to fair asylum processes south of the border.

Radio-Canada reported last month that Quebec Conservative MP Richard Martel recently refused to help a family that was facing deportation after having entered Canada through Roxham Road in 2018, calling them “illegal refugees.”

Poilievre did not directly answer when asked about Martel’s comments Tuesday, but said the Liberal government should renegotiate the Canada-U.S. agreement “in order to close Roxham Road.”

He said Trudeau must fix the system so that people enter through official entry points, instead: “Renegotiate the deal with the Americans, and speed up the processing of immigration generally.”

In December, in a French interview with The Canadian Press,José Nicola Lopez said that his sister-in-law Leticia Cruz and her son had crossed into Canada via Roxham Road to join their relatives in 2018.

He said she did so because she feared expulsion under former president Donald Trump’s policies, and was afraid that a possible return to her home country of El Salvador could make her a target for street gangs.

Lopez said at the time that he found Martel’s comments to be “offensive” and “ignorant.” After Cruz was unable to get help from Martel, whose Chicoutimi-area riding she and her son call home, Bloc Québécois MP Mario Simard said he worked with Immigration Minister Sean Fraser to help the family avoid deportation.

Fraser, the Bloc and the NDP criticized Martel’s comments as lacking compassion.

In a recent interview with Radio-Canada, Martel declined to offer specifics about the case.

Speaking in French, he said the case was complex and that he declined to help knowing that the Bloc were in a position to do so. He said he would likely make the same decision if a similar file came across his desk, adding it’s a matter of “values.”

Source: Poilievre mum on Tory MP’s ‘illegal refugees’ comment, calls for Roxham Road closure

Pierre Poilievre thinks he can win over new Canadians. Here’s how he plans to do it.

Reasonable take and strategy and familiar to someone who worked in the Kenney years. Expect that the party has learned some lessons from its use of “barbaric cultural practices” in the citizenship guide and in the 2015 tippling. Minister Fraser’s comment is a bit ingenuous given the liberal record of responding (some would say pandering) to new Canadian voters:

A young Pierre Poilievre sits in front of a room of Conservative faithful and explains their party’s strategy for winning a majority mandate. 

That hasn’t happened yet. It’s 2009 and while the Tories have won two federal elections, they’ve remained in minority territory for three years. 

“We will win a majority if we appeal to naturally conservative-inclined voters and get them out to vote, and we turn small-c conservative immigrants into big-C Conservative voters,” the MP says in a video posted to the website of the Cable Public Affairs Channel.

“That’s the formula.”

More than a decade after former prime minister Stephen Harper pulled off that majority in 2011, Poilievre is the party’s leader. 

Since Harper’s four-year term, Conservatives have lost three straight elections to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, with losses stacking up in Toronto- and Vancouver-area suburban seats, home to many visible minorities and new Canadians. 

If there’s one thing many in the party agree on, it’s the need for Conservatives to build support in such communities. But can Poilievre do it? 

Enter Arpan Khanna. This week, Poilievre tapped the Greater Toronto Area lawyer, who served as one of the co-chairs on his leadership campaign in Ontario, to co-ordinate outreach efforts.

Khanna was a political staffer for the man federal Conservatives credit most for making the inroads with immigrant communities that helped Harper along to a majority: Jason Kenney. 

Colleagues had nicknamed the former federal cabinet minister and Alberta premier the “minister of curry in a hurry” for spending his weekends darting to dozens of cultural events around Toronto and Vancouver.

Khanna said he sees the same drive in Poilievre, who visited the Toronto area multiple times, plus Vancouver in his first three months as leader, sometimes attending up to 15 events a day. He is planning visits with Chinese community groups in Markham, Scarborough, Vancouver and Burnaby to mark the Lunar New Year. 

The new leader has taken the idea of “building a Jason Kenney style of outreach” to heart, Khanna said. “He’s all into this. He understands the importance of it.”

The first step is showing up, he said.

“We recently were at someone’s backyard for a barbecue party with about 100 people from the Tamil community, just having a conversation about their issues.”

Poilievre has been hitting the road nearly every weekend. 

Often travelling with him are his two deputy leaders. Melissa Lantsman, who is Jewish and the party’s first openly lesbian member of Parliament, hails from Thornhill, just north of Toronto. Longtime Edmonton MP Tim Uppal, who is Sikh, became Canada’s first minister to wear a turban when Harper appointed him to cabinet in 2011. 

For the high-profile finance critic role, Poilievre picked former small business owner Jasraj Singh Hallan, who had been considered an at-risk youth after immigrating to Canada as a child. 

It’s stories like Hallan’s that Poilievre promotes, touting the promise of the Canadian dream. 

“It doesn’t matter if your name is Poilievre or Patel … Martin or Mohamed,” a video posted online shows Poilievre saying at a Diwali event in October. “If you’re prepared to work hard, contribute, follow the rules, raise your family, you can achieve your dreams in this country.”

Poilievre often points out that he married an immigrant Canadian. His wife Ana and her family were refugees from Venezuela. 

Tenzin Khangsar, who worked in Kenney’s office when he was immigration minister and assisted with the Tories’ outreach strategy, said Poilievre is setting an example for his caucus and the entire party. “And frankly shows to all Canadians that look, ‘this is a priority for me. This is not just something I’ll do during an election campaign.’”

Khangsar said that if step one is showing up, step two is following up with policy. 

Poilievre has promised to get provinces to speed up recognizing foreign credentials, one of his first policy announcements as a leadership candidate. He’s also railed against “gatekeepers” at the federal immigration department.

During a roundtable with ethnic community media convened during the race, Poilievre said immigrant and Conservative values are the same: “hard work, family, freedom, tradition.”

“Values upon which we need to build a future Conservative party.”

A roughly 50-minute video from the event shared on Facebook shows Poilievre offering more detail on his immigration policy ideas: expanding express entry, making it easier for temporary foreign workers to become permanent residents, improving immigrants’ ability to bring their parents to Canada to help with child care and expanding private sponsorship of refugees. 

He was emphatic in an interview with a Punjabi radio show last month: “The Conservative party is pro-immigration.” 

But the NDP’s immigration critic, Jenny Kwan, threw water on the idea, saying in a statement that the Harper government cut settlement services for newcomers and made family reunifications more difficult. 

Liberal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser didn’t wade into the Tories’ past, but in a statement said speaking to newcomers is the job of any political leader. 

“Newcomers are not a voting block to pander to. They are Canadians, and soon-to-be Canadians.”

But many Conservatives believe that the party’s approach to immigration issues lost them the 2015 election, as Tories pushed policies such as banning niqabs at citizenship ceremonies and establishing a tip line for so-called barbaric cultural practices. 

Lantsman and Uppal both publicly apologized for supporting what became known as the “niqab ban.” But Poilievre has defended the policy as simply requiring “that a person’s face be visible while giving oaths at citizenship ceremonies.” 

An internal review of the Tories’ 2021 election loss found the party’s image remained damaged among immigrant communities. 

Poilievre’s immigration critic, Tom Kmiec, said Conservatives believe in an “employer-driven immigration system.”

Asked whether they support the Liberal government’s plan to welcome a record-high number of permanent residents in the coming years, which includes a target of 500,000 by 2025, Kmiec said “the number is not as important as the customer-service experience.”

Kmiec, a Polish immigrant, said the federal immigration department is dealing with massive backlogs and out of control processing times. “It’s a total lack of compassion to over-promise what you can actually deliver.”

Andrew Griffith, a former director of multiculturalism policy for the federal government, predicted Conservatives will avoid attacking the targets for fear of being labelled xenophobic.

Griffith said he doesn’t perceive the party is skeptical about immigration, despite such views being historically present in its base. 

Source: Pierre Poilievre thinks he can win over new Canadians. Here’s how he plans to do it.

Pierre Poilievre is demanding it — but insiders reveal why Canada won’t brand this Iran military group as terrorists

The same day the Globe publishes commentary arguing the government should explain itself (it should publicly rather than indirectly), The Star provides a good explainer, and there have been a number of articles in various publications regarding some Iranian Canadians who have not been able to enter the USA given their having been low-level conscripts in the IRGC:

The Canadian government has not yet designated Iran’s revolutionary guard corps as a terrorist entity over concerns the action would be overbroad, difficult to enforce and unfairly target potentially thousands of Iranians in Canada who may have been conscripted by Iran’s military, sources tell the Star.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his government will hold the “bloodthirsty regime to account,” and that Canada will continue to sanction the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but he stopped short of answering yes or no to Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s demand he recognize the IRGC as a terrorist group.

Faced with growing calls for action by the Conservatives, families of Canadian victims killed when Iran shot down flight PS752 and now in the face of a global uproar over the death of a young Iranian woman who wasn’t wearing a hijab, the federal Liberal government says it intends to “do more” to sanction human rights abuses by the Iranian regime.

“Everything is absolutely on the table,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Wednesday.

“Some of this is very complicated, getting the details right is complicated, avoiding collateral damage is important,” Freeland said, the day after meeting with families of the 2020 plane crash victims.

Freeland added, “But from my perspective, there’s actually something very simple at the heart of this, which is Canada and Canadians need to be on the side of women — women and students who are brave enough to protest, and not on the side of misogynist repressive theocrats.”

Canadian government officials have “for years” looked at the question of putting the IRGC, a branch of Iran’s armed forces, on the terrorist list under the Criminal Code, three sources said.

But ministers this week have repeatedly declined to state why Canada has not done so already.

Source: Pierre Poilievre is demanding it — but insiders reveal why Canada won’t brand this Iran military group as terrorists

Fight for fewer words: Pierre Poilievre promises new law against government jargon

One of the few areas where I agree with Poilievre with respect to public facing information. Harder of course to do so in legislation and regulation.

One of the ironies is that when the previous government was writing the new citizenship guide Discover Canada in 2009, we argued for more plain language for the guide and related test but the political staffer responsible largely ignored our arguments (Discover Canada is written at a high school level, more sophisticated language than the formal CLB 4 requirement):

Pierre Poilievre is waging one of his final battles in the Conservative leadership race — one in which even his main rival is onside.

His latest target? The jargon used by the federal bureaucracy.

In a video posted to social media on Thursday, the apparent front-runner promises to enact a “Plain Language Law,” that he says would bring an end to government jargon, including in legislative documents.

Poilievre began his announcement by invoking the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the famous French author of “The Little Prince,” who once wrote a line about perfection.

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to subtract,” Poilievre said.

“Unfortunately,” he continued, “our governments do nothing but add and add and add paperwork and forms and endless red tape.”

Poilievre said his new law would ensure government publications are instead written in simple, straightforward sentences,but he didn’t explain how such a law would work — or how the bill itself would be written without using jargon.

The law would also empower the auditor general to scan government publications for the presence of bureaucratese, he says, and provide Canadians with a government website where they can report any gibberish.

He said the law would also make it a job requirement for the government to hire writers that can write plainly and adapt bilingual language training for public servants to ensure they learn the most easy-to-understand words.

As for why it’s needed, Poilievre argues government documents, including forms, are needlessly complicated because the bureaucrats who write them use overly technical language, which creates hurdles for small businesses that have to read them.

All that time spent trying to understand what the documents say adds up, he says.

The federal government already has a policy about how its communications should sound, with rules stating its messages must be non-partisan and clear. The policy came into effect in 2016, early on in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tenure.

Poilievre’s announcement Thursday sparked a rare moment of agreement with Jean Charest, the former Quebec premier whom Poilievre has lambasted throughout the race for being out of touch with the current party.

In a short statement, Charest spokeswoman Laurence Tôth wrote: “We welcome this policy announcement.”

Poilievre’s fight for fewer words appears to be one he takes personally, as he complained about politicians’ use of jargon in a speech given more than a decade ago.

Back in 2009, when the prominent Tory only had five years of being a member of Parliament under his belt, he advised young conservatives on the value of learning to communicate as a way to advance their political careers.

Poilievre, who now boasts one of the largest social media followings in Canadian politics, complained then about how few people on Parliament Hill knew how to write and speak in a way that everyday Canadians could understand.

“It is not their responsibility to decipher excessively verbose language,” he said of voters.

Poilievre instructed his 2009 audience that the best way to learn to communicate plainly is to write for newspapers — which take complex ideas and use simple language to explain them to readers — and knock on doors.

Poilievre’s skill as a communicator is one of the reasons his supporters say they are backing him. His campaign says it sold more than 300,000 memberships and many Conservatives expect he will be elected the party’s next leader Sept.10.

Voting results will be announced that evening at a convention in Ottawa.

The party announced Thursday the event will feature a familiar face as a special guest speaker: Peter MacKay.

The former cabinet minister is an elder statesman in the movement, the party says, having led the erstwhile federal Progressive Conservative party into a merger with the Canadian Alliance in 2003, which birthed the modern-day Conservative Party of Canada.

MacKay decided against joining the leadership race this year, saying he was still paying down campaign debts from the 2020 leadership contest, which he lost to former leader Erin O’Toole.

Source: Fight for fewer words: Pierre Poilievre promises new law against government jargon

Nicolas: La haine, tranquille

Of note. Good thought experiment:

La dernière péripétie de la course à la chefferie du Parti conservateur du Canada est particulièrement surréelle. Pierre Poilievre, bien en tête dans les intentions de vote, a serré la main à un partisan le week-end dernier, lors d’un événement de campagne. Le partisan en question s’est avéré être Jeremy Mackenzie, fondateur du Diagolon — un homme et un groupe associés à « l’extrémisme violent » par le Centre intégré d’évaluation du terrorisme (CIET), l’organisme fédéral chargé de repérer les menaces à la sécurité nationale.

On comprend que dans un bain de foule, un politicien ne connaît pas nécessairement l’identité de toutes les personnes auxquelles il serre la main. Mais depuis, l’identité du personnage est devenue publique. Le candidat à la chefferie conservatrice, Jean Charest, et le chef du NPD, Jagmeet Singh, ont tous deux demandé à Pierre Poilievre de dénoncer l’individu. Pour le moment, c’est le silence radio du côté de Poilievre. Et ce silence ne semble pas affecter particulièrement la campagne du candidat.

Il y a encore quelques années, l’incident aurait semblé surréel à quiconque suit la politique de près ou de loin. On constate pourtant que le meneur de la course au Parti conservateur peut désormais serrer la main d’un extrémiste violent surveillé par les autorités antiterroristes canadiennes, tranquille, sans que cela fasse de vagues. Après tout, M. Poilievre et plusieurs de ses collègues députés n’ont aussi eu aucun problème à s’afficher avec le convoi dit « de la liberté » à Ottawa en février dernier.

Pourtant, le CIET a aussi déterminé ce convoi comme une « opportunité » de recrutement et de réseautage importants pour plusieurs mouvements extrémistes violents, selon un rapport rendu public la semaine dernière par le truchement d’une demande d’accès à l’information. Cela ne veut pas dire que tous les participants au convoi appartenaient à des groupes extrémistes violents, bien sûr. On dit plutôt que leur présence était assez importante, particulièrement au sein des organisateurs, pour qu’il soit très problématique, voire dangereux, pour des élus de s’y associer.

Ce recrutement et ce réseautage, et par ricochet donc, cette croissance des groupes violents associés à l’extrême droite depuis février dernier, sont devenus palpables. Encore il y a deux semaines, des partisans de QAnon ont attaqué des policiers de Peterborough, en Ontario, en s’imaginant procéder à leur « arrestation citoyenne ». Et plusieurs journalistes — des femmes, surtout racisées — font l’objet depuis quelques mois d’une campagne ciblée de haine.

Des courriels, écrits sur un modèle similaire, reprennent le vocabulaire et les théories haineuses des groupes d’extrême droite, tout en les ponctuant de menaces de viol et de mort. Devant la gravité de la situation, le Toronto Star, Global News, le Hill Times et l’Association canadienne des journalistes ont même dû faire une sortie conjointe pour dénoncer la situation et interpeller les services de police qui auraient failli à traiter avec assez de sérieux plusieurs plaintes reçues.

Résumons donc. Des militants d’extrême droite, dont plusieurs ont été identifiés comme des menaces terroristes, ont contribué à paralyser la capitale nationale l’hiver dernier. Depuis, ils se sont multipliés, et certains d’entre eux s’en prennent non seulement à des élus, mais aussi à des journalistes, et même à des policiers.

Imaginons un moment que ce soit le leader d’un groupe terroriste associé à l’islamisme qui serre la main de Pierre Poilievre, ou qui envoie des menaces de mort et de viol à des journalistes. Pensez-vous que l’impact sur la course à la chefferie du Parti conservateur serait la même ? Pensez-vous qu’on banaliserait autant la gravité des menaces reçues ? Imaginons qu’un regroupement autochtone décide de procéder à « l’arrestation citoyenne » d’un corps policier. La nouvelle serait-elle traitée comme de la petite routine d’actualité politique d’été ?

Poser la question, c’est y répondre. La banalisation des menaces posées par l’extrême droite au Canada est d’ailleurs déjà dénoncée depuis plusieurs années par les experts en la matière. Et bien sûr, cette montée de la haine affecte non seulement les figures publiques, mais aussi les gens ordinaires. Entre 2019 et 2021, les crimes haineux déclarés par la police ont augmenté de 72 %, selon les compilations de Statistique Canada. Là encore, imaginons une augmentation de 72 % de n’importe quel autre type de crime au Canada sur une période de deux ans. Tout le monde en parlerait.

Souvent, lorsque la menace vient de l’extrême droite, l’analyse policière et médiatique porte sur des « incidents isolés », des « loups solitaires ». Le mouvement est donc là, devant nous, et il grandit. Mais on peine encore à le voir comme un mouvement. Chaque plainte pour menace de mort ou de viol, par exemple, sera traitée isolément — si elle est même traitée.

On se garde, le plus souvent, de se pencher sur les réseaux auxquels appartient l’individu qui déverse sa haine. Pour cesser de banaliser le phénomène, il faudrait enfin comprendre que, même lorsqu’on a affaire à un homme seul derrière son clavier, cet homme appartient à un contexte social bien précis.

Source: La haine, tranquille