LP_468x60
ontario news watch
on-the-record-468x60-white
and-another-thing-468x60

(Photography by Richmond Lam)

Louise Arbour, a former Supreme Court justice and United Nations high commissioner for human rights, has spent her career taking on the world’s most notorious human rights violators. And yet one of her most formidable challenges is domestic. In May, Arbour released the results of her year-long inquiry into the Canadian Armed Forces, sparked by a string of sexual misconduct allegations—some involving the organization’s top brass. The report was unequivocally damning: the military’s culture is deficient; its colleges outdated. “I was told that almost every female cadet has experienced an incident or more of sexual misconduct ‘or worse,’ ” she wrote. Now, the federal government is tasked with implementing Arbour’s 48 recommendations, which include handing over sexual misconduct cases to civilian courts. Progress is slow, and Arbour is patient—to a point.

Yours is the second inquiry into the military’s handling of sexual misconduct cases in seven years. How is this report different?

Justice Marie Deschamps’s report was pretty earth-shattering in exposing how ingrained sexual misconduct was in military culture. But looking at the remediation that would come from a criminal justice response was outside of her mandate. When I came along, there was a lot of concern that change had not been implemented, even coming from the auditor general. My report looks at two issues: the continued prevalence of sexual misconduct, and allegations against very senior members of the Armed Forces. I was trying to see how people with these character flaws manage to progress through the ranks.

Your most talked-about recommendation is that the military hand over sexual misconduct complaints to civilian courts, where conviction rates in these cases are famously low. What reasonable expectation of justice can victims have even if that change is made?

I’m not suggesting for a minute that the civilian system is perfect, but the military system has features that are even more problematic. The main one is the duty to report. It’s hard enough for any victim of criminal sexual assault to come forward, but to have to tell your chain of command in an environment where nothing will happen, aside from a slap on the wrist? There are also informal reprisals, like being ostracized by colleagues. A lot of corrective measures have been put in place over the years in the civilian system, including establishing specialized courts for sexual offences and attempts to displace myths and stereotypes. In the civilian arena, people report crimes because the system will react positively. In the military, the opposite happens.

When she’s not taking on egregious human rights offences, Arbour likes to relax at her cottage with her dog, Snoro.

When she’s not taking on egregious human rights offences, Arbour likes to relax at her cottage with her dog, Snoro.

You said that one impediment to progress is the assumption that misogyny is the root cause for the problems in the military. But isn’t misogyny the key issue?

Oh, there’s no question. Women always served in military support positions, like nursing, but they were only fully integrated into combat when the courts ordered it. It’s not enough to think that, over time, this culture will start to dissipate. The military has to accept that it can’t fix everything by itself. It has uniformity in its DNA. So if they keep thinking they can change things with PowerPoints and internal anti-misconduct initiatives, it’s not going to happen.

How do you rehabilitate an organization whose members inflict and enable abuses within its own ranks? It’s a snake eating its own tail.

The military could use external partners like the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It could also bring in experts from the civil corporate sector or send cadets to civilian universities, where diversity is years ahead of what we’ll ever see in military colleges. If you just recruit white boys who like guns but don’t like women or anybody who doesn’t look like them, you’ll perpetuate that culture.

You’ve spent a lot of time on conflicts that the international community initially showed little urgency in dealing with, like Darfur and Rwanda. How do you deal with human rights abuses being met with politicking and platitudes?

When I indicted Slobodan Milošević for war crimes, I thought, This is the beginning of a new era. When I was the high commissioner for human rights, there was a lot of momentum, too. But I started to understand that “momentum” was a Western-driven concept, and a tone-deaf one. The Western position—that our values were good—fell apart when we were asked to do something that was hard for us, like deal with the rights of migrants. I realized that what I thought would be constant, linear progress on these great ideas was, in fact, cyclical. I think we’re in a low part of the cycle now.

You said the Canadian military favours the appearance of implementation over substance. You could argue the federal government has similar limitations.

That’s true. I don’t think there’s anything in my report that is ideologically unacceptable to the government, but it’s not a priority. There’s no price to pay for not doing anything—until seven years later, when you appoint another judge.

Well, the price for inaction isn’t being paid by the military or the government. It’s being paid by the victims.

Exactly, and they’ve been very courageous to come forward. But until there’s widespread public and political mobilization, it’s hard to expect quick implementation. I always hated the expression “being the voice of the victims.” They have voices; what they need is a megaphone.

Mary Fisk, one of your former principal advisors, said that people in your inner circle were occasionally frustrated that you weren’t more outspoken about certain issues.

Mary’s a good friend; I’m sure she was struggling to say something negative. (I’m kidding.) Others were frustrated because I’m very results-oriented. The naming-and-shaming culture that’s very prevalent in NGOs—that’s their weapon. I don’t know if that’s how I can be most efficient. I could look good by banging my fist on the table, but what’s that going to achieve?

I just don’t think that any person with a heart can look at the kinds of horrors that go on and not want to be more forceful to make things better.

I am sure, because of that, they’d want to be very strategic and think: well, okay, after I bang my fist, how can I outsmart these people? How can I make them do something I know they don’t want to do?

I’m sure polite diplomacy can only go so far with despots. Eventually, you have to show your teeth.

It depends on what tools you have. I didn’t always have the capacity to do something concrete. Issuing an indictment is a nice way to do it, especially after you’ve been dismissed as just “this little woman.” You wait and wait, and when you’re ready: boom.

What makes you immune to the paralysis that can come from witnessing so much tragedy?

Well, what’s the alternative? Give up altogether. I’m going to Africa now because I’m on the board of the Mastercard Foundation. On the way back, I stop in Geneva, where I’m a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. I don’t weep at the fate of the world when I’m packing my bags. I’m often moved, but I’m always looking for fixes. I think, with any luck, the phone won’t ring, and I’ll just sit on my dock with my 110-pound dog, Snoro. Then something else comes up, and there I go again.


This article appears in print in the August 2022 issue of Maclean’s magazine. Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here, or buy the issue online here

The post Louise Arbour is fighting to reform Canada’s military appeared first on Macleans.ca.


On Tuesday, Bill C-11, a law that will regulate online media from services such as YouTube or Netflix passed the Senate, leaving and YouTubers and other content creators in Canada increasingly worried that the bill threatens the way content creators earn a living by affecting visibility and potentially limiting video views

Referred to as the Online Streaming Act, Bill C-11intends to highlight and promote Canadian content—CanCon in the world of streaming—and would put online content under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). This would require streaming platforms to showcase Canadian content more than they currently do. 

That means that platforms like Netflix would have to recommend more Canadian-made shows like Schitt’s Creek or other Canadian-made content ahead of non-Canadian content. Under the new proposed bill, these streaming services will be “pushing” content onto viewers even if it doesn’t match their viewing patterns, meaning you may see less of the content you want in order for the platforms to meet the Canadian quota.

This is a worry for content creators on YouTube in particularl, where its algorithm curates and recommends videos based on feedback from users based on everything from how long a video is viewed to how quickly it is skipped. If a creator’s videos are forcefully promoted by YouTube to adhere to Bill C-11 and the content isn’t a match for the viewer, then the viewer could skip that video causing the creator’s channel to drop in visibility.  The bill would also regulate the time and types of advertising a Canadian creator’s channel can have, further limiting their sources of revenue.

Canadian YouTuber J.J. McCullough has 782,000 subscribers to his channel. He spoke at a Parliamentary hearing earlier this month to oppose the Online Streaming Act and its introduction into Canadian law and shares his thoughts on the experience and potential impact of Bill C-11: 

The hearing was revealing. I’ve never been part of a parliamentary committee before, so I put a lot of effort into trying to come up with a powerful opening statement and people responded quite favorably to it. I took the process seriously.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4fuMKeGRMg

I had worked in television for a few years as a TV political pundit and so I had gotten comfortable being on camera. I worked for Sun News in its final years and when it shut down in 2015, I was abruptly out of a job. That was when I started my YouTube channel and I’ve been doing it for over six years now—but only professionally for the last two or so, in terms of it being my primary source of income. 

It can be exhausting. You write the scripts, film the videos, edit them and add all the sound effects and graphics and all those things. But I like creative projects. It’s very rewarding to see the reactions that my content gets, especially from young people. As I get older, I feel like there’s a paternalistic side to me that’s coming out more and so I like to know that I’m helping and that’s very rewarding and very validating to me because that’s ultimately what I got into this business to do. 

I’m grateful to have the chance to do this full-time, but my new career now seems at-risk now with Bill C-11; it’s crushing that so much hard work and passion could now disappear because of it.

The way that YouTube works at present is that the content audiences discover is determined by a control algorithm that recommends videos based on what YouTube perceives the user to be interested in. For example, if my YouTube habit suggests that I’m interested in cooking videos, then YouTube will naturally recommend a lot of cooking videos.

We know from the text of the bill that the CRTC is going to be given a mandate to promote the ‘discoverability’ of Canadian content, specifically, and that websites under the CRTC jurisdiction, such as YouTube, will be obligated to comply with this discoverability mandate. 

What this means is that the CRTC is going to have to come up with some sort of criteria for what is good Canadian content and then YouTube is going to have to live up to its legal obligations to promote and recommend that content.

Overnight, creators are going to wake up and find the kind of content that has previously been successful in an unregulated YouTube is no longer successful in a regulated YouTube. As a result, they will either have to change the nature of content that they make in order to make it more overtly Canadian—whatever that means—or they could possibly be at a disadvantage. That could mean their viewership, and thus revenues, take a hit. That’s something that I think is quite worrying to a lot of YouTubers.

The thing that really struck me from the parliamentary hearings—and this is just a personal insight—was that when witnesses are testifying, you would think they’re the center of attention. But when you’re there in-person, almost none of the politicians seem to be listening at all. Everybody is just on their phone. It was incredibly upsetting and disrespectful. 

It felt like whistling in the wind.

— As told to Nicholas Seles

The post Why YouTubers like me oppose Bill C-11 appeared first on Macleans.ca.


Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland participates in a media availability to discuss Canadian sanctions on Russia, in Ottawa, March 1, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The TSX slumped Thursday to its lowest level in 14 months as investors grew more worried that aggressive central bank interest rate hikes would trigger a recession, AP reports.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index unofficially closed down 3.1%, or 607.50 points, at 19,004.06, its lowest level since April 2021. The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% lower at 1.2925 to the greenback, or 77.37 U.S. cents, after touching on Wednesday its weakest intraday level in more than one month at 1.2995.

Freeland vs. Poilievre: Not far away, in a speech to the Empire Club, Chrystia Freeland took aim at Pierre Poilievre, denouncing his critiques as “economically illiterate” the Star reports, giving Canadians a taste “of what a head-to-head political fight between two people believed to want the country’s top political job—the post of prime minister—would look like.”

“At this time of global economic and political volatility, undermining Canada’s fundamental institutions — very much including the Bank of Canada — is highly irresponsible, not to mention economically illiterate,” Freeland told the Bay Street audience.

Freeland said that “while fighting inflation is the central bank’s job, good government policy can make it easier by tackling the supply constraints which are driving the rise in prices.” Asked later if she meant Poilievre in particular, Freeland said only “I said exactly what I meant to say in my speech.”

The Globe has a story outlining the measures Freeland was in town to tout to cope with rising inflation.

SCOC warning: Chief Justice Richard Wagner said Thursday that the convoy protest shows that the safety of the Supreme Court  needs to be taken more seriously, CBC reports.

Breaches: Ottawa is facing calls to respond to a growing number of privacy breaches involving military members who experienced sexual misconduct, CP reports. The personal details of more than 100 current and former Armed Forces members have been leaked through 20 different privacy breaches since February.

No mandates: The House of Commons is suspending COVID-19 vaccine mandates for MPs, staff and visitors next week, CP reports.

DND responsible: The military says the office of Gov. Gen. Mary Simon had no role in decisions related to a catering bill for a recent trip, CBC reports.

Dental mystery: Although the clock is ticking on its promise to the NDP to deliver a dental care program, the Liberals still appear to be in the consultation phase and haven’t figured out what form will this program take, CP reports.

Little appetite: Philippe J. Fournier has an interesting piece in L’actualité on a recent Mainstreet poll that shows that most Quebecers continue to have little appetite for independence.

Albertan women: After the announcement Wednesday that Michelle Rempel Garner is considering entering the UCP leadership race, Kelly Cryderman has a piece in the Globe pointing out that the most interesting candidates in that race are women.

Optimistic targets: Konrad Yakabuski, writing in the Globe, believes that Ottawa’s targets for greenhouse-gas emissions for the oil and gas sector hinge on hopes and miracles, given the  health of the industry

The emissions-reduction plan was many months in the making and mostly formulated before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the paradigm shift in energy markets that the war engendered. If Ottawa had been counting on weak oil prices in the future to drive many oil-sands projects out of business, geopolitical factors now have analysts predicting high prices for many years to come.

Confidence question: In Star, Susan Delacourt argues that the Trudeau government needs to find a way to get out of the corner it is in on the question of how and why it decided to invoke the Emergencies Act.

That’s where we are again. The government is going to great lengths to say it didn’t give orders to or take instruction from the police. The police are doing the same. So instead, we’re getting all kinds of evasive, even glib remarks about tools and processes and the difference between advising and consulting, all thrown into the blander-izing machine of communication spin. Enough.

Whole-of-government incompetence: Tom Mulcair has a blistering column at CTV, making a broad critique of the Trudeau government as rudderless, drawing together a smorgasbord of scandals and failures and laying them all at Trudeau’s feet.

Our whole system is supposed to be based on ministerial responsibility. You’re answerable to Parliament and the public for your decisions and your performance. Why is it that none of these ministers is ever responsible? The answer is in the PMO. Jet-setting with the Aga Khan in flagrant violation of ethics laws? So what? Break the law again by sticking your nose in the prosecution of a major company with deep Liberal connections? Nobody’s perfect!

This will be fun: Toronto and Vancouver will host 2026 World Cup games, but Edmonton will not, CTV reports.

The post Freeland takes aim at Poilievre appeared first on Macleans.ca.


Michelle Rempel Garner, CPC MP for Calgary Nose Hill, announced on Twitter Wednesday night that she is considering running for Jason Kenney’s job. “Today, I can confirm that I am giving a provincial leadership bid serious consideration,” she wrote.

She also said she “will no longer be participating in the federal Conservative leadership race.” Rempel Garner was one of just a handful of CPC MPs in caucus to throw their support behind Patrick Brown rather than presumptive frontrunner Pierre Poilievre, and has been an important member of his team behind the scenes. Earlier this month, two Brown supporters in caucus switched their allegiance, a bad sign for the Brown campaign. Rempel Garner’s departure leaves just one Brown supporter in caucus—Doug Shipley, who represents Brown’s old riding.

Brian Jean officially launched his bid for the leadership on Wednesday night, CTV reported, making him the eighth candidate. So far declared: Leela Aheeer, Todd Loewen, Bill Rock, Rajan Sawhney, Rebecca Schulz, Danielle Smith and Travis Toews.

Federal failure: British Columbia will start its own efforts to stop money laundering in light of failures by the federal government, the province’s attorney general said Wednesday after the release of a report that blames federal failures to stop illicit cash flow, the Star reports.

David Eby says the Cullen Commission’s highlighting of the ineffectiveness of Ottawa’s efforts mean the province has to strike out on its own. “It’s hard not to reach the conclusion the commissioner clearly did,” Eby said to reporters in Vancouver, following the report’s release. “The province needs to assume the responsibilities that previously the federal government would have done.”

Pierre Poilievre’s campaign has filed a complaint to the CPC alleging paid-for party membership fees and other undeclared expenditures by Patrick Brown’s team, the Post reports. The Poilievre campaign says it has received “repeated reports” that Brown organizers were arranging to reimburse membership fees in cash. The party is investigating. Brown’s campaign says the complaint has no merit.

Ex officer charged: Retired lieutenant general Trevor Cadieu, who is now in Ukraine, has been charged with two counts of sexual assault related to an alleged incident at the Royal Military College in 1994, the Citizen reports.

Police sorry: Toronto Police Chief James Ramer apologized to the city’s Black community on Wednesday as his force released a report showing Toronto police officers use more force against Black people, more often, with no clear explanation why, except race, the Star reports. One finding: In 2020, officers used force on Black people about four times more often than their share of the population, and Black Torontonians were five times more likely to have force used against them than white ones.

Two stories? In the Commons on Wednesday, Justin Trudeau doubled down on a claim that police forces “asked for” the powers Ottawa granted under the Emergencies Act during the “Freedom Convoy,” the Star reports: “During the blockades crisis, police forces, provincial and municipal authorities all asked us repeatedly for more tools in order to put an end to the blockades and these illegal demonstrations.”

Trudeau’s answers appeared to contradict testimony the night before by Bill Blair, who said police did not ask Ottawa for the act.

Unimpressed: Candice Bergen accused Trudeau of “completely” losing sight of Canadians’ needs in a speech to her caucus on Wednesday, CTV reports.

Drinks aloft: The in-flight bar did brisk business during Trudeau’s 2020 visit to Ethiopia, the Post reports. The 50-odd passengers  consumed 95 bottles of wine and 93 cans of beer, racking up an in-flight bar tab of $1,414.81.

Concerned: Rideau Hall says Gov. Gen. Mary Simon shares the public’s concerns about a $93,000-plus catering bill on a government plane during a work trip to the Middle East, CBC reports.

Unpopular app: A group of mayors and businesses in communities along the Canada-U.S. border is calling on the federal government to end the ArriveCAN app, CBC reports. The app was introduced during the pandemic to allow travelers to report their trips and vaccination status. Critics say it is discouraging travel.

Doomed? In the Post, Chris Selley reviews Trudeau’s chaotic-looking policy lurches on mandates and concludes that “it’s not hard to see this sequence of events — beginning with the election campaign and the much harsher and uncharitable tone it introduced toward people who disagreed with the government’s recommendations, and now these even-more-incoherent rules — as potentially the beginning of the end of his leadership.”

Bad call: Columnists Andrew Coyne, Robyn Urback, Brian Lilley and Sabrina Maddeaux all write about the Canadian diplomat who attended a party at the Russian embassy. None are impressed.

Challenges: In the Post, Kelly McParland contemplates the challenges faced by the Ontario Liberals and the federal Tories, both of whom are struggling to figure out how to win votes in “mushy” Ontario.

Orphan Tories: In Le Devoir, Marie Vastel covers similar ground, talking to Tories who are fretful about the outcome of the leadership race, given the gulf between the winning formula of centrist Ford and the more polarizing rhetoric of Poilievre (translation).

Travel: Trudeau is off to Rwanda, Germany and Spain for meetings next week, CP reports.

 

The post Michelle Rempel Garner eyes Alberta premiership appeared first on Macleans.ca.


Pierre Poilievre’s opponents tell the Post that a misleading email—titled “Membership status: incomplete”—panicked members into buying a second membership on Poilievre’s portal, which inflated Poilievre’s membership numbers. Poilievre’s campaign says that’s not true and the whole thing is a mixup.

Look out: In the Globe, John Ibbitson argues that Poilievre should not listen to those who will urge him to moderate his message in the hopes of broadening his appeal. He points to a slick one-take video that Poilievre filmed walking through the mess at Toronto Pearson International Airport, which Liberal spinner Scott Reid observed shows that Poilievre has loads of game, and Liberals had better start reckoning with him. Ibbitson points out that Poilievre is connecting.

Pierre Poilievre doesn’t have to pivot to be more like Doug Ford. He already is like Doug Ford in the only way that matters: his ability to empathize with the economic insecurity of voters. Talking heads obsess over Mr. Poilievre’s appeal to angry populists with crazy conspiracy theories: his promise to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada, his opposition to vaccine mandates, his criticism of the World Economic Forum. But that’s not why he has sold what appears to be a record number of Conservative Party memberships. His message taps into more than the party’s populist base. It appeals to everyone who fears the increasing unpredictability of these times and who doesn’t see their fear reflected in the words and actions of politicians.

Mandates going: Speaking of the mess at Pearson, the Liberals announced Tuesday a suspension of vaccine mandates for federal employees and for train and plane passengers as of June 20, CBC reports. Canadians entering the country from abroad will still be required to meet entry requirements and masks will remain mandatory on planes and trains. Visitors to Canada will have to be fully vaccinated to enter the country, or meet the requirements of an exemption.

Fully? The government is planning to change its definition of “fully vaccinated” to reflect the waning effectiveness of vaccines over time, Global reports.

Unimpressed: In the Toronto Sun, Brian Lilley writes that the Liberals would have got rid of mandates sooner if they had listened to Theresa Tam, but they were guided by political science, not medical science.

Inflationary measures: Chrystia Freeland will deliver what’s being flagged as a “significant” speech on inflation and affordability on Bay Street on Thursday, the Star’s Heather Scoffield writes.

The Star has learned that she’ll have a $7-billion (or so) list in hand that spells out exactly how federal programs are ramping up to help those who are particularly exposed to the harms of inflation. Old Age Security, the Canada Child Benefit, the Canada Workers Benefit, the Canada Housing Benefit — they’ve all been enriched, and they’re coming our way soon.

Unacceptable: In QP Tuesday, Justin Trudeau denounced the attendance of a Canadian official at a party at the Russian embassy as “absolutely unacceptable,” Global reports. Global Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Sunday that she only found out that someone attended through media reports.

Last bottles exchanged: The New York Times has a breezy item on the end of the whisky war over Hans Island.

Conspiratorial: Abacus Data has a disturbing survey showing how many Canadians believe in false and outlandish conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

Resign! The CPC says Marco Mendicino should resign because of his comments about the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, CTV reports.

Vice-regal expense: Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and 29 fellow passengers racked up a nearly $100,000 catering bill on a government aircraft during a recent week-long trip to the Middle East, the Post reports.

False tip: Police face more questions about a false bomb tip that led to the arrest of two Sikh rally organizers near Parliament Hill on Saturday, CP reports. Radio Canada reports that the French message warning about the bomb threat took eight minutes (translation).

Tim Houston is the most popular premier in Canada, according to an Angus Reid survey, and Heather Stefanson is the least.

Pause 96: Francois Legault remains popular, but not with tech companies, who asked him Tuesday to put the brakes on Bill 96, which would give immigrants only six months to learn French, CP reports. And Quebec Jewish leaders say they fear an exodus of young Jews, the Gazette reports.

Pox: Montreal is the epicentre of the North American outbreak of the Monkey Pox, Le Journal de Montréal reports, with 126 cases (translation).

New powers: Ottawa is seeking new powers over critical infrastructure to protect Canadians from cyberthreats, Global reports.

Challenging reports: Toronto police is warning its employees that “challenging” days are ahead as the force prepares for the release of race-based statistics on use of force and strip-searching, the Star reports.

Enough: Don Martin has had enough of Trudeau, he writes in a lively broadside for CTV. Trudeau is “too woke, too precious, preachy in tone, exceedingly smug, lacking in leadership, fading in celebrity, slow to act, short-sighted in vision and generally getting more irritating with every breathlessly whispered public pronouncement.”

Into Klondike: Justin Ling has something of a debunking of some of the hype around the “Klondike papers.”

— Stephen Maher

The post Poilievre under fire for misleading email appeared first on Macleans.ca.


Hameed Khan and Ghulam Faizi worked as interpreters alongside the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan before Kabul fell to the Taliban. Since then, they’ve struggled to bring their families—who are being actively targeted by the Taliban—to safety in Canada, along with a group of more than 300 interpreters facing the same fate. The Canadian government, they say, has repeatedly broken promises and delayed processing crucial documents. After two hunger strikes on Parliament Hill, they remain desperate to bring their loved ones out of harm’s way. This is their story. 

HAMEED KHAN: We fought shoulder to shoulder with the Canadian Armed Forces. We were their eyes and ears on the ground. There are interpreters among us who’ve lost limbs on the front lines. We’ve watched our colleagues and friends blown to pieces. We’ve lost family members in the war. We live with lifelong trauma. Now, our families are in danger because of our relationship with the armed forces. 

The Taliban operate based on an extremist, medieval concept. If they can’t punish you, they’ll punish your brother. They’ll punish anyone they can get their hands on. They killed my younger brother last year, even before the fall of the democratic government. One interpreter in our group has had 11 family members killed by the Taliban.

GHULAM FAIZI: When Afghanistan’s democratic government fell to the Taliban on August 15, 2021, the Canadian government organized military evacuation flights. We sent emails on behalf of our families to the designated Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) addresses, but only received automated responses. On August 30, military evacuation flights halted for good. 

We started organizing with our fellow interpreters the next day, when we realized the government wasn’t going to do anything for us. 

KHAN: We organized cross-Canada protests, including in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. The objective was to inform the Canadian public and lawmakers about what was happening. On September 15, having received no meaningful communication from the government, we staged a hunger strike on Parliament Hill. 

Mike Jones—who at the time was chief of staff at the IRCC—agreed to sit down with us and hear our concerns [Ed. note: he’s now chief of staff to Marco Mendocino, the minister of public safety]. During an hour-long call, he promised the government would initiate a public policy process to bring our extended families to Canada. Within 48 hours of that going into effect, he promised, our families would get unique client identifier (UCI) and G numbers—these numbers are a crucial step that allow all other immigration and refugee processes to begin. He said he expected the first batch of family members to arrive in the first quarter of 2022.

FAIZI: The policy launch was delayed from one month to another before finally being unveiled on December 9. We submitted all the relevant paperwork within days. Initially, our list included the extended families of interpreters and had 15,000 names on it, but Mike said the government would not be able to provide resettlement assistant program (RAP) support for that many. We agreed to cut it down to 4,888. That’s an average of about 20 family members per interpreter, and includes only parents, siblings and their dependents. 

By January 10, we received UCI numbers for only about 35 per cent of our group members. Then they stopped issuing numbers altogether. 

In the meantime, we met weekly with Mike and other members of the IRCC. We reminded them every time, and they just said, “We’re working on it.” By March, we hadn’t had any further traction getting UCI numbers.

READ: The world left these Afghan women behind. Now they’re fending for themselves.

KHAN: Not a single family member had arrived to Canada by that point. On a very cold March 31st, we launched our second hunger strike on Parliament Hill. That one got significant media attention. Finally, the government started issuing UCI numbers again. To date, we still have about 50 families whose applications are being ignored and are still waiting for their case numbers. As of today, only 48 family members out of the list of 4,888 have actually arrived in Canada. 

FAIZI: The problem is that rather than bringing people here and doing paperwork then, or at least helping them make it to a safe third country like Pakistan, the government is asking for documentation that’s nearly impossible—in some cases, literally impossible—to provide. 

To leave Afghanistan and make it Pakistan, our families need passports, which not everyone has. Obviously they can’t just show up at a Taliban office asking for exit documents. Meanwhile, the Taliban is actively searching people’s homes for any condemning evidence, which has forced many people to burn application documents altogether to avoid being killed. The Canadian government could circumvent this problem by providing individuals with Single Journey Travel Documents, which effectively replaces a passport and is designed for circumstances like this, but refuses to do so. 

For those who have made it to Pakistan, the IRCC is simply not moving forward with the processes to bring our families here, in some cases delaying them so much that their visas are expiring, which forces them to return to Afghanistan.

The government has cited security concerns, but interpreters are vetted to the extreme. We’ve shared rooms and dining tables with Canadian soldiers. We vouch for our families. 

KHAN: Moreover, the IRCC initially promised that they would provide our families with the year of RAP support, which every refugee is entitled to once they resettle here. Then, they went back on that. After we put pressure on them, they changed their tune again, and said they’ll get three months of support, after which we’re on our own. 

People are coming here without the ability to prove any work or financial history. How are they going to rent a house, get a job and learn English in such a short time? It’s like the program is designed for people to fail.

MORE: ‘Anybody want to drive this ambulance to Ukraine?’

FAIZI: The IRCC told us verbatim that we have to pick up our families from the airport and provide them with temporary and then permanent accommodation. How can we do that for an average of 20 family members per interpreter if we’re living in two or three bedroom apartments and making middle class incomes? 

KHAN: We’re still meeting with the IRCC every week, but more and more, we feel that we are being brushed off. Delaying and rescheduling meetings has become a pattern. 

Our demands of the Canadian government are simple. Provide UCI and G numbers to families who have been waiting for six months. Expedite the processing of documents to bring people here. Provide accommodations and single journey travel documents that would allow people to cross into Pakistan. And provide the full one year of RAP support for our families, like every other refugee is entitled to.  

What’s the reason behind all these delays? I think the government is after moves that will capture attention. When public attention shifted from Afghanistan to Ukraine, so did their resources. And while we have nothing but empathy for the people of Ukraine, why are we being treated so differently? Why is there such indifference to our pain and suffering? 

We are allies of the Canadian government. We put everything on the line, including our families’ safety, to fight shoulder to shoulder with Canadians. Now that our families are in crisis, empty promises are all we’ve gotten in return.

—As told to Liza Agrba

The post I fought beside Canadian soldiers. Now the government is leaving my family to be killed by the Taliban. appeared first on Macleans.ca.


Welcome to Politics Insider. Sign up to get it delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

The federal government will announce Tuesday an end to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for planes and train travel, as well as outbound international travel, CBC reported Monday night. The government has been under pressure from the opposition and the airline industry amid long lineups at airports.

Debt crunch: Half of respondents say they are $200 or less away from not being able to meet all of their monthly bills and debt obligations, according to a new MNP Ltd. debt survey, BNN Bloomberg reports. The number marks a five-year high in the agency’s consumer debt index, a 10-point jump from December.

“The anxiety Canadians are feeling about making ends meet—or already unable to do so—tells us we may eventually see an avalanche of households falling behind on payments or defaulting on loans, mortgages, car payments or credit cards,” said Grant Bazian, president of MNP LTD, in the report published Thursday.

In similarly not very cheerful economic news, the S&P/TSX composite is in correction territory after suffering the second-worst day of 2022, CTV reports.

Membership battle: CPC leadership candidates are expected to challenge thousands of memberships brought in by their rivals, senior Tories tell the Hill Times:

Friday, June 3, was the deadline to sign up new members and the party is currently in the midst of processing hundreds of thousands of newly signed up memberships. Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, Ont.) and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown have declared publicly that each has signed up 311,958 and 150,000 memberships, respectively. If their claims are to be believed, the party could have up to 700,000 members, an unprecedented number for any political party in Canadian political history.

Half of Hans Island: The end of a long and but friendly border dispute between Canada and Denmark will be announced today when governments announce a deal to divide a tiny uninhabited island in the Arctic, CBC reports.

Sawhney in: Calgary MLA Rajan Sawhney resigned as Alberta’s transportation minister and added her name to the list of candidates vying to replace Jason Kenney on Monday, CBC reports.  The lineup so far: Leela Aheer, Brian Jean, Todd Loewen, Bill Rock, Danielle Smith, Travis Toews and Rebecca Schulz.

Fake warning: Two organizers of a Sikh event on Parliament Hill say they were arrested and released after being wrongfully identified in connection to a bomb threat, the Star reports. Manveer Singh said police arrested him and told him they had “credible information” that he was connected to a bomb threat. They later released him and apologized.

Trudeau positive: Justin Trudeau has COVID-19 again, Global reports.

No restrictions: All remaining COVID-19 public health restrictions in Alberta will be lifted Tuesday, including mandatory isolation, CTV reports.

No red flags: Former Liberal MP Raj Grewal sent the names of 100 people he wanted to invite to receptions with Trudeau in India in 2018, his trial was told Monday, CP reports. Grewal, 36, is facing two charges of breach of trust, related to loans he sought from friends, family and other associates to help pay for a gambling habit. The Crown alleges Grewal sought the loans from people in exchange for securing them access to the India trip, or for work on immigration files.

Emergency: The City of Calgary declared a state of emergency because of heavy rain on Monday, Global reports.

Trop court: A report commissioned by the Quebec government—and then kept hidden—finds newcomers are likely to require more than six months to learn French, contrary to the rules in Bill 96, CBC reports.

Ford cabinet spec: The Star has a story full of knowledgable speculation on the likely make-up of Doug Ford’s next cabinet.

MPP Peter Tabuns is front-runner to become interim leader of the Ontario NDP, the Star reports.

B.C. Party: B.C. Liberals are planning to change their party’s name, Vaughan Palmer writes in the Vancouver Sun, which may present an opportunity for New Democrats in that province.

Murder plot: A B.C. actor who has pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his mother had a plan to drive to Ottawa to kill Trudeau, a court was told during his sentencing hearing on Monday, CBC reports.

App toast: Secret sources tell the Globe that Ottawa is planning to announce the end of the national COVID-19 contact tracing app this week, months after changes to PCR testing regulations in many provinces had rendered it largely useless.

MP sorry: Liberal MP Adam van Koeverden, an Olympic gold medallist, has apologized after saying “F— you” to a woman calling for the end of vaccine mandates, the Toronto Sun reports.
Money for Irving: Taxpayers are being asked to give at least $300 million to Irving so it can modernize its Halifax shipyard to build navy vessels, the Citizen reports.

The post COVID-19 vaccine mandates for travel to be lifted appeared first on Macleans.ca.


The federal government has tabled legislation that would end the purchase, sale, transfer and importation of handguns in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has touted the move as “capping the market” in this country. Ryan Simper, who is in charge of business development for Select Shooting Supplies in Cambridge, Ontario, spoke to Maclean’s about the existing process for buying a handgun, what will change when this new law comes into effect and whether it will be effective in fixing the issues it purports to address.

“I grew up in a family of competitive target shooters and hunters, so I was taught that a gun was for the purpose of recreation, competitive target shooting and putting food on the table. In the U.S., they very much believe that they need a gun to defend themselves, and that’s that’s not the case in Canada at all.

When I transfer a firearm to somebody, I have two options that are acceptable: one is for the purpose of target shooting (which has to be done at a chief firearms officer–approved range) or for the purpose of collection. Those are the only two options. There is no option for protection of life. For the most part, the public doesn’t know what it takes to own a handgun in Canada. Canadians consume a lot of American media, so they just assume that it’s as easy to get a gun in Canada as it is in the U.S., and that’s not the case at all. We have a different culture, we have different rules.

It’s already an extensive process to purchase a handgun in Canada. First, you have to pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. That is 16 hours of instruction, followed by a written exam and a practical exam. After that is complete, you have to wait for your test results to come back from the chief firearms officer. In the meantime, you can download all the forms from the RCMP’s website or obtain them from Service Canada for your background check. You’re going to have to outline any partners that you’ve co-habitated with in the past five years, and your spouse’s information as well.

You’re going to have to answer questions asking if you’ve been prescribed any drugs for depression, or if you’ve had a job loss or a divorce in the past five years. You’re going to have to provide references that the RCMP should call. Your co-habiting partner or spouse is going to have to sign off on that last page to say, “Yes, I’m okay with this individual owning firearms.” And then you send that entire package off to the RCMP in Miramichi, New Brunswick, and if everything checks out on their end, then they will send you your firearms licence in the mail.

It was taking on average around seven to eight months to get a firearms licence recently. I can say that, after being a reference on dozens of licence applications, I have not been called once. So I think the RCMP really needs more resources.

READ: Justin Trudeau to freeze handgun sales in Canada

When you go to a retailer who is is licensed to sell handguns, you bring your possession and acquisition licence that the RCMP sends you. When you’re purchasing a handgun, we have to transfer the handgun to the individual. It takes a little bit longer in Ontario than it does in other provinces; before all of this happened, the turnaround time was about six weeks.

Since the public safety minister made this announcement alongside the Prime Minister, we sold every single handgun that we had in stock. Firearm owners feel like they are some of the most responsible citizens in the country, because the RCMP has put their trust in them to give them the licence. So when somebody says you can’t have any more, they go out and buy. I think it’s more of a protest—they’re saying that the current government wants to eliminate handgun ownership in this country and the current government doesn’t trust its own citizens. So they’re gonna go and buy them.

MORE: How Anita Anand became the Trudeau government’s all-round fixer

If the new law goes through, we’ll no longer be able to sell handguns. It is a large part of our business and we’ll have to move into something else. I feel more sorry for the smaller shops that are probably going to go out of business, because they don’t have the ability to make a quick switch into something else. We run a range as well, Range 519, so that’s a revenue stream for us.

I believe there are parts of this bill that will work to target people who need to be targeted, and that’s the elements of organized crime that are bringing guns across the border. But targeting and attacking businesses like ours, and our customers, is not going to do anything to lessen crime in our streets. Our law enforcement customers are telling us that this won’t make their job any easier.

It’s just targeting the property that’s been lawfully acquired by citizens that has been cleared to own by the RCMP. If our national police service says it’s okay for me to own a gun, if the national police service says it’s okay for my customers to own a gun, why is the government against me owning a gun? There’s a severe disconnect there. We want safer communities, but I don’t think this is the way to do it.”

— As told to Shannon Proudfoot 

The post I’ve sold every handgun in stock since Canada’s proposed gun freeze was announced appeared first on Macleans.ca.


Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered straight to your inbox in the morning.

Chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault called Tuesday for new laws to combat foreign interference and misinformation, CP reports.

In a report to MPs on the last two elections, Perrault called for a number of changes to the Canada Elections Act, creating a new offence of making false statements to undermine an election by, for example, claiming that the results have been manipulated. He also suggests stricter rules to stop third-parties from receiving foreign funding and steps to protect against cybersecurity threats.

MPs defect: Two CPC MPs switched from Patrick Brown to Pierre Poilievre on Tuesday, CBC reports.

Hamilton-area MP Dan Muys and MP Kyle Seeback, who represents neighbouring Dufferin-Caledon in the House of Commons, both announced Tuesday they’re abandoning Brown for Poilievre. Their departures come after Poilievre’s campaign said over the weekend that it has sold an eye-popping 312,000 memberships in the race for the party’s top job. Conservative sources told CBC News that roughly 600,000 party members will be eligible to vote in September’s leadership election. A Poilievre campaign source — who spoke to CBC News on the condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly — said the team is confident Poilievre can win the race on the first ballot given how many memberships he’s sold so far.

Game over? In a column published before the defections, but after Poilievre’s camp released their numbers, the Post’s John Ivison writes that unaligned senior Conservatives are convinced that Poilievre’s lead is unassailable.

Deep dive on Anand: In Maclean’s, the inimitable Shannon Proudfoot takes readers behind the scenes on an outing with Anita Anand, a newcomer to politics who is managing nightmarish files as Justin Trudeau’s defence minister, making positive impressions within the forces and among defence experts. She is seen as  thoughtful, a good brief, and crucially, someone who is not interested in sitting back and waiting for difficult problems to resolve themselves. She is doing well enough in a difficult job that her name increasingly comes up when talk in Ottawa turns to succession.

Her move to defence reads as a clear statement of trust from Trudeau that she can navigate this post under urgent circumstances as well as she did the last one. It could also end up being a poisoned chalice handed over with a smile of gratitude and apology. In cabinet, there is a fine line between a difficult but important task and an impossible and thankless one. Anand’s success in this job—and Canada’s reputation and safety in a world gone dark—might rest on that knife’s edge.

Norad visit: Speaking of Anand, she and Trudeau visited Norad headquarters ahead of a trip to L.A. for the Summit of Americas, CP reports. Trudeau will spend the rest of the week there with leaders from across the Western Hemisphere, although without the president of Mexico, who stayed away to protest Joe Biden’s snub of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Trudeau declined to comment on the controversy.

Drainville to CAQ: Former PQ MNA Bernard Drainville announced Wednesday that he will run for the CAQ in Lévis, and declared it is a “dead end is to entrench ourselves in the false dilemma between sovereignists and federalists,” the Gazette reports. Drainville, a former journalist, was pressed by reporters over his decision to abandon Quebec independence, and attacked by the PQ for doing so.

Too much? Also in the Gazette, Thomas Mulcair writes that François Legault may be “too clever by half” by adding a former sovereignist like Drainville to his bench.

The arrival of diehard sovereignists risks pushing away the CAQ‘s sizeable federalist vote. It’s getting hard to believe Legault has really abandoned his own long-held separatist views when he surrounds himself with people who’ve spent their lives trying to break up Canada and have never recanted.

Tax takes: On Tuesday Conservatives and New Democrats proposed different solutions to  address the rising cost of living, both involving taxes, CTV reports. The Conservatives put forward an omnibus motion asking that the government temporarily suspend the GST collected on fuel, freeze the carbon tax, and eliminate tariffs on fertilizer. Jagmeet Singh, in contrast, called for more taxes, an excess profit tax on big companies.

Misunderstood: A senior official testified Tuesday evening that Marco Mendicino was “misunderstood” when he seemed to say police asked the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act in February, CP reports. Deputy minister Rob Stewart told MPs that Mendocino was “trying to express was that law enforcement asked for the tools that were contained in the Emergencies Act.”

Good for sales: The Trudeau government’s proposal to freeze handgun sales has meant boom times for gun vendors, the Star reports.

— Stephen Maher

The post Chief electoral officer wants misinfo law appeared first on Macleans.ca.


Candidates Patrick Brown, left, Leslyn Lewis, Scott Aitchison, Pierre Poilievre, Jean Charest and Roman Baber, pose for photos after the French-language Conservative Leadership debate Wednesday, May 25, 2022 in Laval, Que.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered straight to your inbox in the morning.

Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians are at least somewhat comfortable with the NDP-Liberal governing deal, according to a new Nanos Research poll for the Globe. Under the deal (which was first reported by your correspondent, by the way) the NDP agreed to prop up the Liberals until 2015 in exchange for progress on dental care, pharmacare and other priorities.

The poll found 39 per cent of Canadians were comfortable with the agreement,  19 per cent somewhat comfortable, 11 per cent somewhat uncomfortable and 29 per cent uncomfortable. Pollster Nik Nanos said the poll is indicative of “election fatigue.”

Many members: CPC leadership candidates say they’ve sold hundreds of thousands memberships, CP reportsPierre Poilievre’s campaign claims to have signed up more than 311,000 people before Friday’s deadline — more than the total number of members who were eligible to vote in the last two leadership races. Patrick Brown’s team says it sold more than 150,000 memberships.

Rancorous: The race may be lively, but it is not entirely friendly. Abbas Rana of the Hill Times, has been talking to “Conservative political insiders” who are rattled by the intensity of the rhetoric.

A senior Conservative, who spoke to The Hill Times on a not-for-attribution basis to offer their candid opinions, said that the divisive tone of the campaign has been a “huge” cause of concern for elected and unelected party officials. At the same time, this person said, there’s no tool that the party or the Opposition Leader’s Office has to stop this from happening, other than to urge these candidates to exercise restraint. Former Reform Party leader Preston Manning and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have called on all leadership candidates to focus only on policy differences and not take personal shots at each other.

Susan Delacourt, in the Star, notes that the recent Ontario election seemed to be much less interesting to people than the CPC leadership race.

Brutal: Speaking of the Ontario election, Liberals there are struggling to understand why they did so poorly and what they should to change that in the future, the Star reports.

Hungrier: A poll conducted for Food Banks Canada suggests a growing number of Canadians are struggling with the rising cost of food, CP reports.  The Mainstreet Research poll found almost a quarter of Canadians reported eating less than they should because there wasn’t enough money for food.

Unsafe: At a news conference on Monday, Justin Trudeau called the actions of Chinese pilots towards Canadian planes taking part in a UN mission “irresponsible and provocative,” CP reports. Last week, the Canadian military accused Chinese planes of not following international safety norms on several occasions and putting a Canadian crew at risk.

Charges dropped: The Crown dropped tax evasion charges against former Calgary MP Rob Anders in Calgary on Monday on what was supposed to be the first day of a two-week tax evasion trial, CBC reports. Prosecutor Tyler Lord said “new information” led him to believe he “no longer had a reasonable prospect of conviction.”

Until Monday, Anders faced five charges under the Income Tax Act for alleged activity between 2012 to 2018, including three counts of making false or deceptive statements, obtaining a refund he was not entitled to and evading payment of taxes.  Anders was accused of failing to report more than $750,000 in income over a six-year period including alleged offences which overlapped with his time in government.

Not guilty plea: Federal public servant Matthew Matchett pleaded not guilty Monday to breach of trust for allegedly leaking secrets about a contract between the federal government and Chantier Davie shipyard in Quebec in November 2015, CP reports. Matchett, who was charged in February 2019, has elected to be tried by jury and the trial is expected to run four weeks.

Shake-up at CAPP: Three senior executives are out at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Globe reports. Lisa Baiton recently took over from former president and CEO Tim McMillan.

CSIS bill proposed: Liberal MP Salma Zahid announced a plan Monday to introduce a bill that would set out new consequences for CSIS if the spies aren’t forthcoming in their requests for judicial warrants, CP reportsZahid was joined at the press conference by the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

Broad powers: In the Globe, Campbell Clark is concerned about the implications of broad new search powers in Quebec’s Bill 96.

Anglos unhappy: In Ottawa on Monday, Quebec anglophones told a parliamentary committee that Bill 96 will create a two-tier system in Quebec, La Presse reports (translation), and expressed disappointment over the federal government’s actions on the file to date.

So-con in the lead: In the Calgary Herald, Don Braid has an interesting column about Travis Toews, the Jason Kenney loyalist who has rounded up plentiful caucus support for his leadership bid. Toews, though, is a social conservative.

It’s been known since 2019 that he was on the board of a school that banned same-sex attachments, Ouija boards and even yoga, the latter being, it seems, proof of demonic intervention. The school forbade spell-casting, witchcraft and sorcery. “Our body is not our own,” it declared. I’m told Toews will promise not to bring his beliefs into government regarding religion, LGBTQ rights, abortion, or sex outside marriage.

— Stephen Maher

The post Public lukewarm on Liberal-NDP accord appeared first on Macleans.ca.