While they are not likely to win a seat in the current Canadian federal election campaign, there are two Arabs and a man of Hindu background running for office in the Ottawa South electoral district. Currently, the seat is held by David McGuinty, the Liberal and brother of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. It is likely that he will be returned.
Dr. Qais Ghanem
Arabs running for parliament
October 14 is election day in Canada, and there are a number of Arabs among those running. I was able to count at least two Green candidates, one in Ontario and one in Alberta. As well, an Iranian is running in Ontario for the Greens. Five or six are in the race as Liberals, from Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. Among the Ontario candidates is Omer Alghabera, a former president of the Canadian Arab Federation, who is running for re-election. The General Secretary of the Canadian Lebanese Congress, Alexandre Salameh, is running for the Conservatives in Quebec, as is one in Ontario. Five Arab Canadians are running for the socialist New Democratic Party, by my count. One is running in British Columbia and the other four in Quebec.
Most of the Arab candidates are Lebanese, but Quebec New Democrats are running an Algerian and a Moroccan, as well as Amy Darwish, whose father was a Palestinian refugee and whose mother is Jewish. Dr. Qais Ghanem, an Ontario Green, is from Yemen.
Pre-election Khadr events
Some hundred people demonstrated on October 5 in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, demanding Omar Khadr’s return to Canada from Guantanamo, where he remains the only Western prisoner. He is now 21 but was 15 at the time of his capture in Afghanistan.
Olivia Chow was among the speakers at the rally. She is a New Democratic Party (socialist) Member of Parliament and wife of party leader Jack Layton. Demonstrations and other activities promoting Khadr’s return took place during the week across Canada, planned with the hope of having some impact during the current election campaign. Referring to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, some of those present in the Toronto rally chanted “Khadr in, Harper out!”
On the same day, a rally at Ottawa’s Human Rights Monument brought a turnout of 40, who were addressed by Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada; Monia Mazigh, wife of Maher Arar who had been rendered by the U.S. to Syria to be tortured; and Kerry Pither, author of “Dark Days,” a book about Muslim Canadians tortured in Syria and Egypt.
The following day, Alexandre Trudeau, son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was among those addressing a Khadr rally in Montreal. On October 8, there was a public forum in Vancouver, where Gail Davidson, of Lawyers’ Rights Watch spoke.
Boys raped in Afghanistan
A Canadian soldier who served in Afghanistan is now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. No wonder. Stationed along with Afghan troops near Kandahar, he heard an Afghan soldier raping a boy and later saw the boy with intestines hanging out. He told his story to Canada’s Parliamentary Committee on National Defense in an in camera session. Military chaplains have also reported that troops have told them about Afghan troops and police raping boys.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, reported in July that, while accounts of sexual violence against girls in Afghanistan were not widespread, there were reports of sexual assaults on boys.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, reported in July that, while accounts of sexual violence against girls in Afghanistan were not widespread, there were reports of sexual assaults on boys, in fact even with “young boys increasingly associated with military commanders.” She said that Afghan officials to whom she had complained replied that “It’s been going on for a thousand years, so why do we want to raise it now?”