The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled on April 16 that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had harassed and discriminated against Ali Tahmourpour, a 35-year-old Iranian-born Canadian. He was tossed out of the training program for the RCMP after two months on grounds that the Tribunal found to have been cooked up.
According to the decision, Tahmourpour was taunted because of his ethnicity and religion, ridiculed for wearing a Muslim medal and for signing his name in Kurdish. The Tribunal awarded him half a million dollars and ordered the RCMP to take measures toward greater inclusiveness. Minorities must, it said, be made to feel welcome. An effective complaints process needs to be instituted, and the Tribunal ordered the RCMP to put a sensitivity training program in place. It must also find out why minority recruits drop out at a rate much higher than other recruits.
As for Tahmourpour, he still has his heart set on becoming a Mountie. He previously worked as a customs officer and as a Calgary policeman. Personally, he only regrets the time he lost in his quest. As far as the RCMP itself is concerned, he hopes that “the RCMP can again become a national icon that we can be proud of.”
More Toronto terrorism charges stayed
It began with 18 males charged with being part of a terrorist cell. Then three youths were dropped from the list of accused. On April 15, four men also had charges stayed. Three had to sign peace bonds, agreeing not to be in contact with any of the other 17, not to have firearms, and being subject to a curfew. The other man is off without any conditions.
Qayyum Abdul Jamal, who at 45 was the oldest among the accused, was among those whose charges were stayed. His lawyer Anser Farooq called for an inquiry into Jamal’s claim that he was subject to abuse and torture while in custody.
While Christians made up 3% of the Iraqi population, half the refugees fleeing the country are Christian. They flee threats, property destruction, church bombings, murder, and efforts at forced conversion. These are the contentions of Rev. Majed El Shafie, founder of One Free World International. The organization promotes the anti- Muslim film Fitna, produced by Dutch right-wing extremist MP Geert Wilders.
Christians in Iraq flee because of threats, property destruction, church bombings, murder, and efforts at forced conversion. El Shafie is urging Canada to open its doors to the refugees, reminding us of the shameful chapter in Canadian history when the country refused to admit Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada takes the position that it relies on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to make recommendations for admissions. Canada plans to admit some 2,000 Iraqis this year, compared to 900 in 2007.
Union boycotts Israel
At its recent convention, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) overwhelmingly adopted a resolution supporting the boycott and divestment campaign against Israel. This action is the first by a national union, though the Ontario Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) adopted such a resolution last year.
CUPW represents more than 50,000 postal workers across Canada. The resolution it adopted was modeled on the one Ontario CUPE passed last year. Reacting to CUPW’s move, the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid congratulated CUPW on its show of solidarity with the Palestinian victims of Israeli apartheid.
Poll shows Canadian tolerance
A recent survey by the firm The Strategic Counsel found that 48% of respondents saw the fact that 5 million Canadians are members of visible minority groups to be positive, with only 9% negative. When informed that these minorities represent 16% of the population, only 9% found that that was too large.
On the other hand, 61% believe that Canada makes “too many accommodations” for them and 45% say that they hold onto their customs and traditions too long. 47%, disagree, feeling that they integrate at an acceptable pace.
As might be expected from the Hérouxville phenomenon, where a small Quebec town adopted a code of conduct forbidding the stoning of people and covering one’s face, 72% of Quebec respondents felt there to be too many accommodations.
Canadian Minister goofs
Maxime Bernier, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said what others were thinking when he answered reporters questions on April 14 about the governor of Kandahar Province. “There is the question to maybe have a new governor,” he said in response to a question about corruption. The governor is also accused of torture. Bernier later issued a written statement denying that Canada is “calling for any changes to the Afghan government.” However, during the press conference he made similar remarks about the governor in French as well.
This gaffe occurred at the time that Canada was working quietly with President Hamid Karzai to get him to replace Governor Asadullah Khalid. The open call for his ouster makes that more difficult, as Karzai is trying to avoid being seen as a Western puppet.
Bernier himself may be in danger of replacement. The opposition parties in Parliament are after his head, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper criticized him for creating the “misimpression” that Canada wants Khalid out.
Canada tried to keep Khadr out of Guantanamo
Omar Khadr’s defense team has just brought a letter from the Canadian government to the American government to light. In September, 2002, the then-Liberal government urged the United States not to send Khadr to Guantanamo because of his age—15 at the time.
What is not clear is why Canada’s intervention on the matter was so minimal. If Canada felt that such treatment of Khadr was inappropriate, why did it not pursue the matter more vigorously? All other Western governments (including Australia in this category) have obtained the release of their citizens from Guantanamo.