The News Rundown
- The mainstream media’s parlance of “far right” has appeared once again.
- CBC Headline: Far-right groups, counter-protesters rally over asylum seekers at Canada-U.S. border
- On episode 30 we defined far right as: belonging to or representing the views of the extreme right wing of a political party or group. Remember this definition for later.
- The CBC portrait on the article also highlights the Storm Alliance, an actual neo-nazi group that has been the subject of media attention before.
- Back when Justin Trudeau was doing his town hall tour the media chose to focus on the Storm Alliance members gathered while they were at the event calmly taking selfies.
- The CBC is rightly reporting on the activities of the Storm Alliance but that’s not all that happened.
- Last Saturday, on May 19th, a group of protesters gathered near one of the illegal border crossings in Quebec.
- Of these was Mike Noble who describes himself as “against illegal immigration [and] against the Trudeau government” was there to voice his displeasure at the increasing number of people crossing the border illegally.
- Noble said, "My grandpa fought for this country during World War 2. My great grandfather fought for this country during World War 1. And I just can't let criminals, ISIS members, come here and try to destroy my people."
- CBC then retorts by saying there have been no reports of ISIS members crossing at Roxham Road and Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada ensure all entrants undergo security and criminal checks.
- CBC then highlights the increasing number of people crossing the border (~7,600 thus far) and that it’s expected to be way higher than last year (~20,500), true.
- Another man that CBC interviewed outright said he had no problem with legal immigration but is against illegal immigration. He since started an anti-immigration group with about 140 members.
- CBC says that the counter protestors at the event wanted to spread a “message of welcome”
- CBC defines these people as, “a coalition of anti-racism activists, open-border advocates and left-wing groups”
- This main protest took place on Highway 15 leading to Roxham Road, there was a smaller event earlier in the day of about 20 people on a farm very close to the border.
- Recapping thus far, what have I talked about that has been far right?
- The protest was organized by a “far right” group.
- A few Storm Alliance members were in attendance.
- Illegal entry into Canada is a problem and continues to be a problem going forward, the government actions to date have not been effective.
- The counter protestors made noise and even caused a disturbance of their own.
- Faith Goldy, formerly of The Rebel, was at the protest and was assaulted by the counter protestors who she identified as ANTIFA. We do not know if these were indeed ANTIFA members.
- ANTIFA: Definition.
- Fascism: Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach.
- If we were to look at the CBC’s coverage we would believe that nothing the counter-protestors did caused trouble.
- The truth of this though is that both CTV and the CBC were around while this happened. It can be seen on Faith Goldy’s periscope and verified by a tweet posted from a CTV journalist.
- We are no fan of groups such as the Storm Alliance or ANTIFA here at Western Context but by ignoring this assault the media isn’t telling the full story and this is a disservice to Canadians.
- We wouldn’t be at this point today if back in 2017 our border had been secured.
- We wouldn’t be seeing an uptick in anti-immigrant groups in Canada and we certainly wouldn’t be seeing protests regarding immigration today.
- This is an issue that needs to be fixed very soon by the government before it spirals out of control and the media needs to tell that story.
- Way way way back on Episode 36, I discussed Othman Hamdan, a 2002 Jordanian refugee living in Fort St. John BC, who was arrested in 2017 on terror charges. Back then, he was facing the CBSA to fight against deportation after Facebook posts were made support ISIS and lone wolf terrorist attacks, and pointing out various Canadian infrastructure such as the Revelstoke Dam and the Nipigon River Bridge in Ontario, and how those potential targets had "zero security". He also admitted to being part of an international hashish smuggling ring.
- Hamdan has told an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing that he was "living a peaceful life in Fort St. John" when he was arrested. He was acquitted of terrorism-related charges by a B.C. Supreme Court judge last September, but immigration authorities arrested him and have determined he poses a danger to the public and could be deported.
- Let's revisit the Facebook comments he made that I profiled back on Episode 36.
- One comment appeared to be suggesting a dam in Revelstoke and a bridge in Ontario would be easy targets for terrorists. “This dam supplies most of the west coast of the North American continent with power. The number of police officers in this town is between 20-30. Closest military base is 200 kilometres. Security is weak,” Hamdan wrote in September 2014.
- “There is a bridge — Nipigon River Bridge near a village Nipigon, Ont. It crosses a river and connects Eastern Canada with its West and it also carries a railroad. This bridge divides the country in the middle and its repair will take years. Security protection … zero.”
- In another post, Hamdan appeared to be inciting violence through lone-wolf attacks, Hyland said. On Feb. 25, 2015, Hamdan posted an ISIS message on his Defeat of the Alliance Facebook page, which said: “Our advice to supporters in the #US … carry your actions there … swiftly lone wolves activate all across #USA.”
- In other Facebook posts, Hamden praised Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who attacked Parliament Hill on Oct. 22, 2014, as well as Martin Couture-Rouleau, who drove a car into two Canadian soldiers in Quebec two days before. The same day as the Ottawa attack, Hamdan wrote “a Muslim brother is martyred by the Canadian police after he killed a Canadian Soldier in retaliation to Canada’s crimes in Iraq.” He said Canada is “terrified”.
- However, Justice Bruce Butler noted that “these posts are difficult for the average Canadian to read or understand. This is because Mr. Hamdan expresses support for the actions of lone wolf terrorists and the reasons he gives for saluting these actions defy logic. The suggestion that it is rational or acceptable for someone to kill unsuspecting non-combatants in a civil setting is repugnant. However, the posts do not contain statements that could be considered active inducements and encouragement for readers to go and commit similar offences.”
- RCMP national security division constable Tarek Mokdad who investigated Hamdan prior to his arrest wrote a report in 2015 based on the history of Islamic extremism and jihad and another last year on 85 of Hamdan’s Facebook posts. He referenced both reports at the hearing and said he testified at Hamdan’s trial in B.C. Supreme Court, but the reports were not entered as evidence at the proceedings.
- Mokdad read numerous posts authored by Hamdan, who also used at least one alias on Facebook. He added that the man was buying into the cause of ISIS with his unwavering support for the group using violence, versus someone who would simply be reading propaganda online and not acting on it.
- Mokdad said many of Hamdan’s posts used a flag adopted by Daesh in 2007 as well as a banner and other symbols the group employs to try and legitimize its political and religious agenda. Hamdan’s posts clearly indicated he provided advice, support and how-to information on conducting lone wolf attacks by using various methods including a car, a knife and poison. “This is not just nefarious. This says to me it’s somebody who’s got leanings towards the Islamic State,” he said.
- Now, Hamdan says he was falsely accused in Canada and his experience has resulted in a diagnosis of PTSD, which has resulted in about eight months of therapy. He said his arrest following his acquittal made him relive the experience of the prosecution “over and over again,” to the point that it has undone the therapy that allowed him to manage his symptoms.
- In January, he filed a lawsuit against the B.C. and federal governments, arguing his Charter rights were violated through a malicious prosecution. Hamdan argues that his mission through his Facebook posts was to counter the western media's propaganda machine against the Islamic State group, as if that makes them any better.
- He says he wanted highlighted the one-sided account of western journalists reporting on a United States-led alliance of countries that began air strikes against the Islamic State group in August 2014. He says he merely used his right to freedom of expression to post his views against western powers, including "stupid Facebook," which suspended and then deleted his accounts citing graphic violence.
- It's funny how Hamdan's whole defense of his deplorable behaviour to western countries including Canada, is to fall back onto the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees freedom of expression, something that ISIS held territories certainly didn't have. Also, what should have been a national news story, was again only put into a few local sections of national sites, and the CBC only covered the story very minimally.
- I'll say again what I said 34 weeks ago, what we see here is a travesty of justice, where a man who clearly openly supports terrorism and terrorist acts was acquitted. Our hope will be that the CBSA frowns upon this sort of behaviour and deports Hamdan back to Jordan to send a clear message that Canada 100% does not tolerate terrorism.
- On September 1, 2017 The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act was passed by the Alberta government.
- Headline: Workers and employer go to court to fight union trickery and Alberta's new labour law
- Workers with Icon West Construction, spoke to the Calgary Herald under the condition of anonymity because they feel effectively duped into certifying their union.
- Back in October workers of Icon West Construction were approached by members of Local No. 1111 of the Construction and Specialized Workers’ Union.
- One worker from Icon West said he was approached by a union representative at lunch hour.
- The worker said, “He told me I owed about $250 in past dues but that the union had a promotion, and if I paid $2 now, I would have what I owed wiped away. So I gave him $2. Who wouldn’t pay $2 to get a $250 debt wiped clean?”
- Workers felt bullied into signing on the dotted line because the union holds enough sway that they can prevent them from being employed in the future and severely increase the amount arrears owing.
- The signatures gathered weren’t used for receipts but instead were used to have the workers join the union.
- Local No. 1111 has since been taken over by Local 92 of the Construction and Specialized Workers’ Union.
- John Desrosier who is the business manager for Local 92 said that he doesn’t believe workers were “duped” into signing up.
- Speaking with the Herald, Desrosier said, “The labour code has been changed, so they got an automatic certification and we had those numbers and then it went to review at the labour board and the labour board made their decision.”
- Another worker speaking to the Herald said their income dropped from $28 per hour to $25.37, a drop of $2.63, the union also takes another $1.06 per hour, and the union also takes another monthly fee in dues.
- The worker said that this resulted in a drop of $700 last month due to the union certification.
- So why might this have happened?
- Under the The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act a private vote is no longer needed for certification. All that’s needed is for at least 65% of workers to sign a card and donate $2 at a workplace.
- Back in December the Alberta Labour Relations Board upheld the ruling that Icon West Construction’s union be certified.
- Going into the actual Bill as passed in the legislature, a question was asked specifically about this, the answer from Labour Minister Christina Gary was, “We have kept the secret ballot vote as part of our labour relations system.”
- So yes, while a private vote can still be held, the Alberta Labour Relations Board is not required to hold a vote.
- At the end of the day, workers, some of which who even voted for Rachel Notley, feel betrayed and that this is truly undemocratic.
The Firing Line
- Apparently enjoying hiking, skiing or other activities in Canada's great outdoors can be considered racist. I know, it was news to me too, but that's what University of Toronto researcher Jacqueline Scott believes. In an article in the National Post, Scott's experience of the wilderness in and around Toronto has led her to identify what she calls an “adventure gap", where only white people are allowed to enjoy the great natural beauty this country offers.
- “There is a sense that the outdoors is a white space, that people of colour don’t belong in that space. People of colour want to do it, but they need a bridge to get them there.” Scott said in an interview. She has made this the topic of her doctoral research in...you guessed it, social justice education at the U of T. She believes that not only is there an economic and logistic hurdle, but a cultural hurdle to minorities going out and taking part in recreational activities.
- She argues her point based on skiing, one of Canada's favourite winter sports. “In the ski world blacks are as rare as a unicorn. Traditional theories of constraints, that explain black under- representation in outdoor leisure activities, are only part of the answer when applied to skiing. One needs to look at how skiing is racialized as a white space where black people are out of place. And as skiing takes place outdoors, in winter, the season and the landscape are also racialized. Thus, black women who ski face a triple racialization due to the perceptions of race, the landscape and the activity.”
- She also points to the wooded ravines of Toronto, which she frequently hikes and bikes. They are a point of civic pride and easily accessible by transit, but as a place of recreation, they are populated mostly by the same sort of person. “You look at who’s in the ravines, it’s mostly white people. So even though we can get to the ravines from the subway, from many people of colour communities, there’s something about the outdoors where they get a consistent message that we don’t belong there.” Apparently the only “message” is that there’s a lot of white people there!
- Scott forgets that in Canada, nature doesn't recognize what color of skin you are. If you want to go out to the great outdoors, go out and do it. Many of Canada's parks are free, and lots of outdoor recreation is a solo venture. There is no real barrier to entry, just a perceived psychological one. Research that would be interesting to read would be a look at the real reason why minorities don't participate in recreational activities. Is it because they overwhelmingly live in larger cities? Is it because there are other activities that they do that they are interested in?
- Scott believes it's a problem of marketing and representation, which she compares to the notion of “visual apartheid.” “People of colour, we’re 50% of the city’s population. But you take a look at any outdoor advertising, you don’t see us. Look in the outdoor catalogue, you don’t see us. Look at outdoor recreation in general, you don’t see us. So for me, it’s like, what is it about that outside, that space, that says that people of colour do not come,” she said.
- People forget that marketing is a part of business, and when a business is marketing its products, it's doing so to its customers. If one doesn't see oneself in a marketing campaign, that doesn't mean you should give up on something if it's what you really want to do.
- Scott's experiences also seem wholly focused in on Toronto. If she traveled out to the West, she would find that many activities, such as visiting Jasper and Banff in the Rocky Mountains, walking by the river in Edmonton, skiing at Whistler, or jogging along the waterfront in Vancouver and Victoria are more increasingly diverse, as the populations become more diverse.
- While I credit the National Post for bringing this topic to light and that some people feel discriminated against by the great outdoors, ultimately, this sort of flawed thinking and "us vs them" mentality is only serving to divide people instead of bringing them together. If you're a minority and you really want to go on a ski trip, then save up your money, buy a winter coat and just go enjoy it. People won't harass you for it.
Word of the Week
Deportation - the action of expelling a foreigner from a country, typically on the grounds of illegal status or for having committed a crime. "asylum seekers facing deportation"
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Skiing is Racist
Teaser: Protesters clash at the Roxham Road illegal entry point and the media ignores it, an ISIS supporter fights deportation, and Alberta workers are tricked into joining unions. Meanwhile, one academic believes that the outdoors is too much of a white space.
Recorded Date: May 26, 2018
Release Date: May 27, 2018
Edit Notes: Skype audio.
Podcast Summary Notes