Foreign policy Immigration

What’s missing from discussion of refugee crisis out of Syria? Context of long-running refugee crisis within Syria

 Chart 1 Iraqi refugees in Syria
Chart 1 Iraqi refugees in Syria
Chart 2 Displaced persons in Syria
Chart 2 Displaced persons in Syria
Chart 3 Displaced persons in Iraq
Chart 3 Displaced persons in Iraq

Source(s): Population Statistics, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

If something seems missing from most Western media coverage of the current Syria refugee crisis, it would be the origin of said crisis. A significant share of Syria’s population were already refugees fleeing other Middle East (ME) crises prior to the outbreak of violence in 2011. And all those crises, along with the current one in Syria, bear a striking similarity: Many of the same Western countries now voicing concern over the humanitarian crisis spilling onto their shores were complicit in propagating and perpetuating the ME conflicts giving rise to the crisis.

Civil liberties Foreign policy Governance Human rights Media

Foreign policy failure: Canada (once again) isolated in refusal to acknowledge, condemn Israeli war crimes

Israel/Gaza: Attack on UN school in Gaza a potential war crime that must be investigated - Amnesty International July 30, 2014
Israel/Gaza: Attacks on medical facilities and civilians add to war crime allegations - Amnesty International July 21, 2014 Israel/Gaza conflict: Questions and Answers - Amnesty International July 25, 2014
Here at the #RallyForIsrael in Ottawa with my Liberal colleague @MarcGarneau - standing in solidarity w/ Israel. - @HonJohnBaird July 16, 2014

UNRWA Strongly condemns Israeli shelling of its school in Gaza as serious violation of international law

United Nations Relief and Works Agency, July 30, 2014

The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, to ensure its protection; the last being at ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling.

I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.

This is the sixth time that one of our schools has been struck. Our staff, the very people leading the humanitarian response are being killed.

 For other UNRWA announcements, see the UNRWA Official Statements page. Notably, these latest Israeli war crimes come on the heels of the 10th anniversary of the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The ICJ found Israel’s construction of the Wall contrary to international law, and advised Israel to cease construction and dismantle sections it had already erected.

Israel ignored the ICJ opinion, as it has ignored every UN decision critical of its nearly seven decades of illegal dispossession / subjugation of the Palestinian people and military occupation of their homeland — and there have been many.

Effectively, the current state of Israel persists contrary to international law. That – and not any single recent event – is and continues to be the root cause of the perpetual conflict in the Middle East.

The photo of “Bought and Paid-for” above speaks to the source of Canada’s misguided Middle East policy — and the cynicism of its politicians. Federal MP and supposed Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Marc Garneau makes a point of promoting his involvement with UNICEF Canada and his support of the UN Declaration and Convention on the Rights of the Child. As far as we know, Palestinian children are entitled to the same rights and protections. Hopefully UNICEF takes up the matter with Mr. Garneau and other cynical Canadian politicians who claim to support the organisation and its mission yet have turned a blind eye to the suffering and targeted killing of Palestinian civilians, nearly a quarter of whom were children.

In closing, the linked BBC Channel 4 news clips show reporters asking tough questions of both sides and deflecting spin to get to the facts – a reminder to Canadians of what journalism is supposed to look like (lookin’ at you, The Canadian Press). Also noteworthy are Debunking Israel’s 11 Main Myths About Gaza, Hamas and War Crimes from Huffington Post UK and Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza by Glenn Greenwald writing for The Intercept.

Accountability Environment Foreign policy Governance Media Trade and investment Transparency

Keystone XL: Canada’s environmental record underscores US reluctance to approve project


NC6 submissions from Parties included in Annex I to the Convention
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2013

BR1 submissions from Parties included in Annex I to the Convention
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2013

Over the last couple days various Canadian media outlets have reported on the federal government’s quiet submissions to the UNFCCC late last month, in which it conceded likely not meeting its 2020 GHG emissions reduction targets.

For some reason, none of the articles include links to the actual reports. Above are links to UNFCCC Annex I countries’ National Communications (NC) and Biennial Reports (BR). They include reports from Canada (PDF), the United States (PDF) and fifteen other industrialised economics.

Canada’s report is an interesting read, if only for the myriad excuses proffered for its failure – which include the popularity of pick-ups and SUVs

Since 1990, there has been a 33% growth in transportation emissions in Canada, an increase that was mainly driven by an increase in cross-border trade, on-road freight transportation activity and a shift in personal vehicle ownership from cars to light-duty trucks.

By contrast, the US government promoted its recent submissions to the UNFCC on the Department of State website, touting its efforts and successes in reducing emissions. If the US wants to continue making progress on its environmental record, it’ll likely want to distance itself from Pig-Pen as much as possible. The US decision on Keystone XL will be telling.

Apologies to the Fraser Institute for ‘smearing’ Canada’s environmental record – with Canada’s official environmental record. (That canard was posted a week before the government’s hush-hush UNFCCC submissions.)

Civil liberties Foreign policy Governance Transparency

Alternative Christmas Message 2013: Edward Snowden


Hi, and Merry Christmas. I’m honored to have the chance to speak with you and your family this year.

Recently, we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide mass surveillance, watching everything we do.

Civil liberties Foreign policy Human rights Justice Media

The sorry state of Canadian civil liberties: Where facts can be disputed as hate crimes, and vice versa – by the same group


The map montage pictured above is a hate crime, according to Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. Why/how you may ask? Apparently it is provocative and incites hatred and contempt (PDF). Four time-lapsed maps, a statistic and a two-word descriptor. Seems fairly innocuous.

If anything, one would think a story accusing another nationality of starting the next Holocaust would be more worthy of being labeled a hate crime, especially if it turned out to be false. But the good people at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center didn’t denounce that story as a hate crime. That’s because the Simon Wiesenthal Center was busy promoting and perpetuating that possible hate crime.

Employment Foreign policy Justice Trade and investment

Loblaws and the Bangladesh factory disaster (updated May 10, 2013)


Few world industrial disasters have killed 1,000

The Associated Press May 10, 2013

Bangladesh factory collapse death toll hits 1,038

Julhas Alam, The Associated Press May 10, 2013

Bangladesh building collapse toll hits 675

Julhas Alam, The Associated Press May 6, 2013

Part of the story not being explored is that multinationals with overseas manufacturing have been well aware of the risk in Bangladesh for some time. Why an audit of the Bangladesh facility that just collapsed wasn’t undertaken immediately following a similar collapse only six months earlier is a question left neither asked nor answered.

Nike Tries to Avoid Bangladesh, Risky Cities

Miguel Bustillo, The Wall Street Journal November 29, 2012

Nike also attempts to reduce its exposure to countries where it considers factory conditions to be risky—including Bangladesh, where a fire last weekend that killed 112 garment workers. Nike says eight of the 896 factories it worked with last year were in Bangladesh.