The (Right) News Rundown
- Our BC story this week comes from a local news outlet out of the Port Coquitlam area called "Tri City News", and it was originally broken on November 1st. Why am I doing it now instead of last week? Well, it got so little attention in the mainstream media that I didn't actually hear about it until last week's episode. However it is important enough to talk about this week anyway.
- The Masjid Alhidayah and Islamic Cultural Centre, a mosque in Port Coquitlam is being given $53k from the federal government as part of a Ministry of Public Safety program to improve security of communities at risk of hate motivated crimes.
- “[The Security Infrastructure Program] is providing funding for the Islamic Society of British Columbia… to make a number of security improvements to address the threats they face,” said Scott Bardsley, a press secretary with the ministry, in an email. “The society is eligible to receive funding under the terms of the program.”
- However, the mosque's leaders have previously had financial irregularities, including $127k of "questionable expenses" that was unearthed in a CRA audit from 2011-2013. This questionable expenses were of a personal nature benefitting former mosque director Saadeldin Bahr, who stepped down in May after he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman at the mosque in 2013. Three of the four board members who were in place when the dubious spending occurred are still overseeing the society’s operations, according to the CRA.
- However, this isn't even the worst part of the story. The CRA also noted that the society’s links to the Eid Foundation, an organization based in Qatar that is a member of the Union of Good which was created to transfer funds to Hamas, which is currently designated a listed terrorist entity by the government of Canada. The Islamic Society of BC told auditors that it only had limited ties to the Eid Foundation but the CRA noted both entities shared directors. As well, an employment contract for the hiring of one-time PoCo imam Ayman El Najjer was negotiated with funds from the Eid Foundation and was written on foundation letterhead.
- “The [society’s] connection to and possible control by the Eid Foundation is particularly concerning given that publicly available information… indicates that the Eid Foundation is alleged to have provided support to terrorism,” the CRA said in the report. The document later stated that the Islamic Society of BC was “controlled or influenced by the Eid Foundation to some extent during the audit period under review.”
- Despite the allegations, the PoCo Islamic society continues to be a registered charity. The CRA has chosen not to revoke its status, meaning the society is eligible for the aforementioned $53k in security grant money to protect against hate crimes.
- What wasn't mentioned in the Tri City News reports was an increased amount of anti-Semitic preaching inside mosques from Vancouver area imams, which are Muslim religious leaders. One was caught on camera saying that "it was the duty of every Muslim...to share money, weapons, and expertise...to share in the Palestinian Jihad against Israel, by any means necessary."
- However, these same organizations are still receiving funding in the federal government's effort to combat the perceived threat of Islamophobia, while ignoring the rapid increase of anti-Semitism.
- And where is the media in all of this? Well, after the Tri-City News first broke the article on the 1st, it was picked up by The Rebel's Christopher Wilson on the 2nd, and since then there has been no mention of the story in any news publications whatsoever. So it appears that the media's blacklisting of any story covered by the Rebel is still going on. At the Right Side, we do not discriminate where a story comes from, only that it is factual in what it reports.
- This week as expected it was announced that Jason Kenney and the UCP would not support Bill 24. Bill 24 is the Bill that makes it illegal for teachers to inform parents that their child has joined a GSA unless the child consents. Most in the media have used this to paint Jason Kenney and the UCP a brand of homophobes.
- In order to cut through the media sensationalism and virtue signalling on this issue it's a good idea to take a look at the raw release from the UCP. Jason Kenney in his statement says that the UCP "[supports] Gay Straight Alliances, which became law with the unanimous support of MLAs from both of our legacy parties." This is the key point, unanimous support existed for GSAs in both the former Progressive Conservative caucus and the Wildrose caucus.
- The UCP says that the reason that they are opposing Bill 24 is due to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' that says, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children." And, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights' regarding, “the liberty of parents… to ensure the moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions." Both of these were recently affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada.
- At the end of the day the UCP believes that each child is unique and the decision to inform parents should be ultimately making the decision when it is the right time, if any, to inform parents.
- Education Minister David Eggen said that this protection is necessary to protect students from being "outed" to their parents. The need for a piece of legislation on this matter suggests that the NDP is not confident that they'll still be in power in 18 months time and feel the need to enshrine this into the law to protect against a future government. What was actually said in that editorial board meeting was:
- "I have said that I would not repeal Bill 10, if that's what you're asking me. And I do, however, think that parents have a right to know what's going on with their kids on the schools unless the parents are abusive, in which case there are protocols to deal with bad parents. I don't think it's right to keep secrets from parents about challenges their kids are going through."
- What has ultimately ended up happening now is that the NDP is so focused on opposing the UCP and Jason Kenney that they are now making it so that there is absolutely no way anyone in the school system can inform a parent of what's going on with a child in school even if it's in the best interest of the student. While the stance prior to Bill 24 was adequate, which the UCP now supports, this permitted school officials or counsellors to tell parents about a child’s GSA membership, without the student’s consent, in exceptional circumstances. The NDP and education Minister David Eggen are going one step further to drive wedge politics and paint Jason Kenney, the UCP, and their supporters as nasty social conservatives.
- Kris Wells, the media's go to expert on LGBT issues in Alberta said ultimately, "the preference is to have the family involved. It’s much harder for a child to cope without the support of their family." He then goes on to say, “But sadly, we still know that many families continue to reject their LGBTQ children, so we have to put safety first, and that’s what this bill is ultimately about.”
- Finally the evidence to see that this is all fear mongering started by the NDP and picked up by the media can be seen by examining Jason Kenney's record as a federal minister. As a federal minister he prioritized immigration and refugee claims for persecuted LGBT individuals in middle eastern countries. He also worked as a volunteer at an AIDS hospice in the United States while in school when that disease still carried a stigma of being linked to the LGBT community.
- As we mentioned back on Episodes 24 and 25 when we discussed the federal government settling out of court with Omar Khadr to the tune of 10.5M, it set an alarming precedent for other people accused of terrorism to sue the Canadian government for taxpayer's money. And now 5 months later we have the first case of that.
- An Algerian man named Djamel Ameziane is set to sue the federal government for the abuses he says he suffered at the hands of American security forces after he left Canada 15 years ago. Ameziane seeks damages of $50 million on the grounds that Canada’s security services cooperated with their U.S. counterparts even though they knew the Americans were abusing him.
- Ameziane’s Edmonton-based lawyer, Nate Whitling, said the government’s recent out-of-court settlement with Khadr has prevented scrutiny of Canada’s alleged complicity in abuses at Guantanamo Bay. The unproven allegations by Djamel Ameziane, who was never charged or prosecuted, raise further questions about Canada’s complicity in the abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, a topic his lawyer said demands a full-scale public inquiry.
- So a bit of background on the man, so we can catch up. Ameziane was born in Algiers, Algeria in 1967. In 1992 he left the country because of the Algerian Civil War and moved to Austria, where he worked as a chef until 1995. He was denied a longer work permit and then moved to Canada, entering on a false Dutch passport, where he lived in Montreal and applied for political asylum. After his application was denied in 2000, he moved to Afghanistan. When the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, Ameziane tried to cross the border to Pakistan to escape the fighting. He was captured by a local tribe and handed over for bounty to Pakistani authorities, who transferred him to United States forces. The Americans first took him to a detention facility in Kandahar, where he alleges guards brutalized him, then sent him to Guantanamo Bay based partly on information provided by Canadian intelligence, according to his claim.
- Ameziane, who denies any terrorism links, says Canadian agents interviewed him in Guantanamo in February and May 2003 and turned over recordings of the interrogations to the Americans. They did so, he claims, despite widespread allegations that U.S. forces were abusing detainees and even though they knew he faced no charges and had no access to a lawyer or the courts.
- He alleged American officials interrogated him hundreds of times and abused him when they decided he wasn’t co-operating. The abuse, he alleges, included sleep-deprivation, intrusive genital searches, pepper-spraying, waterboarding, being left in freezing conditions, and having his head slammed against walls and the floor, dislocating his jaw. The U.S detained Ameziane at Guantanamo Bay for more than 11 years until his release in December 2013.
- “My current situation is really bad. I am struggling to survive,” he said from near Algiers. “I was repatriated from Guantanamo and left, like, almost homeless. I couldn’t find a job because of the Guantanamo stigma and my age, so a settlement would be very helpful to me to get my life back together.”
- Ameziane's lawsuit alleges that "The Crown’s conduct constituted acquiescence and tacit consent to the torture inflicted upon the plaintiff.” It also alleges that Canadian intelligence began sharing information with the Americans after failing to pick up on the 1999 “Millennium plot” in which Ahmed Ressam, another Algerian who had been living in Montreal, aimed to blow up the Los Angeles airport. After 9/11, Canadian agents interrogated Ameziane at the infamous American prison in Cuba, as they did Canada’s Omar Khadr, according to the claim.
- “For many years, I had the idea of suing the Canadian government, but didn’t know how, and honestly didn’t know it was possible until I read the news about the settlement of Omar Khadr, who was my fellow inmate in Guantanamo Bay,” Ameziane said. “The action I am taking may also make (Canadian officials) think twice before acting against the interests of Canada and Canada’s human values.”
- What happened to Ameziane may be true, it may be not. It's hard to tell at this moment, as outside of the National Post story there hasn't been much coverage on it. All we know is that this lawsuit directly happened because of the settlement with Khadr, and that there may be other cases of this. The problem is that if it is found that Canadian government officials were complicit in Ameziane's torture, it's taxpayers that will be paying the price, not the government.
The Firing Line
- Last week in a series of leaked documents entitled The Paradise Papers it was shown that Trudeau's chief fundraiser Stephen Bronfman was linked to a Cayman Islands tax scheme. How much was this tax scheme worth? The trust in question was worth $60 million US dollars. The reason why we should be concerned in addition to this being a close friend and member of the Liberal party? It could have cost Canadian taxpayers millions in unpaid taxes.
- To give you an idea of how big of a fundraiser Bronfman was, Trudeau and Bronfman were able to raise $250,000 for the Liberal party in under 2 hours. This happened in the summer of 2015, weeks before the federal election began, which the Liberals ran on the platform of #RealChange. Bronfman's activities with the party go back to 2013 and Trudeau's leadership campaign, he was "asked to turn around the Liberal party's financial fortunes."
- Also involved with this is former Liberal Senator Leo Kolber. Bronfman's investment firm Claridge was involved for over 20 years moving money offshore for the Kolber family. Bronfman's investment firm runs the trust fund in the Cayman islands for the Kolber family. Leo Kolber was appointed by the elder Trudeau to the Senate and was the chief Liberal Party fundraiser for Pierre Trudeau. Leo Kolber's own home was used as recently as last year for a Liberal party fundraising event.
- University of Florida Trust Law professor Grayson McCouch said that, "there are a lot of red flags, and I would expect tax authorities specifically to be very interested in following up." Denis Meunier, a former enforcement official at an agency who also reviewed the documents said that, "this definitely merits an audit by the Canadian Revenue Agency."
- Bronfman's activities in Ottawa also pointed to his law firm which had lobbied past federal governments in an effort to fight new legislation that would crack down on these offshore trusts.
- Now, on Friday it was also confirmed that finance Minister Bill Morneau is under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner regarding Bill C-27. Bill C-27 is the bill that is currently in the house that affects pension sales which are sold by his family company, Morneau Shepell. We know that Morneau has $21m worth of shares in the company, he's apparently in the process of selling the shares and placing his other assets in a blind trust. The spokesperson for the Ethics Commissioner said, "We can confirm that Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has launched an examination under the Conflict of Interest Act of the conduct of Finance Minister Bill Morneau in relation to his involvement in Bill C-27."
- At this point that means that one chief fundraiser of the Liberal party probably committed tax fraud, the Finance Minister is under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner, and the Prime Minister is also under investigation for his trip to the Bahamas last winter to meet with the Aga Khan. Unfortunately all three of these stories have fallen by the wayside in the juggle that the media likes to play.
- Note: The BBC had full reporting on this story as well as the CBC. The difference in coverage? The BBC focuses on the likely interest to Canadians, how this affects our government and how important Bronfman is to the Liberal party and Justin Trudeau.
Word of the Week
corruption | kəˈrəpSH(ə)n |
1 dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery: the journalist who wants to expose corruption in high places.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: A Plate of Corruption
Teaser: A BC mosque is entitled to federal grant money despite terrorist ties, in Alberta the media struggles with the truth about GSA’s and Bill 24, another ex-Guantanamo captive sues the government for 50M, and we uncover the depths of Liberal corruption.
Recorded Date: November 11, 2017
Release Date: November 12, 2017
Edit Notes: None