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In honour of a friend who seeks to foster dialogue on Israel and Palestine by “raising the issue and lowering the temperature,” let’s have a look at a pernicious Bill now steamrolling through the Ontario legislature, but concentrate on some first democratic principles here at home rather than rehashing the situation in the Middle East.

The Bill seeks to suppress the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Ontario. BDS is a completely non-violent movement seeking to put political and economic pressure on the state of Israel to respect the human rights of Palestinians. Now, you might not like that; you might not approve of the premises of BDS; but, if you respect democracy, you have to accept that expressing opinions in a non-violent manner, short of criminal hate speech, is part of the democratic process. (I challenge anyone to find anything at the BDS link that even remotely approaches hate speech.)

The Preamble to the Bill is grossly misleading. BDS isn’t, as claimed, promoting anti-Semitism. It’s a reaction to the current policies of a nation-state. Criticizing a nation-state is not in itself racist or otherwise intolerant. We aren’t sinophobes because we disapprove of China’s human rights record. We didn’t call for the destruction of the South African state when we boycotted the apartheid regime there. Disliking President Bush, père or fils, doesn’t make anyone anti-American.

In fact, other than Israel, nation-states are likely all subject at one time or another to robust criticism without accusations of racism flying about. Our reasons for disliking Kim Jong-Un are not based, I hope, on a general antipathy towards Koreans. Ditto our concerns about Turkey sliding into theocratic dictatorship. Or our views of the vile Saudi regime.

One could go on. Only the state of Israel gets to undermine its critics at one fell swoop by calling them “anti-Semitic.” And in this they are disingenuously joined by a chorus of right-wing voices who see in Israel a bulwark against Islamism, and who will use this rhetorical low blow to defend every move that the country makes.

Back to Bill 202. “The BDS movement violates the principle of academic freedom,” trumpets a Bill that then goes on to state: “No college or university shall support or participate in the BDS movement.”

BDS is termed “anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli.” Both of these claims are ugly lies. People are not the target of BDS: the policies of a nation-state, including occupation and annexation, are.

(Again, you might not like that. But we are talking about democracy here. How can one defend, in the name of democracy, the silencing of human rights activists, even if you happen to believe they are wrong-headed?)

Further, even if you disapprove of BDS, you might agree that lying about it isn’t appropriate in a piece of legislation. BDS doesn’t promote a boycott of “Jewish Canadian” businesses, corporations and cultural institutions. It never has, and it never will. “Jews” and “Israel” are not synonymous. One is a people; the other is a nation-state. That’s no fine distinction: it’s a major categorical one.

So here’s what the former head of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives, Tim Hudak, wants to accomplish in his Bill:

Anyone who “supports or participates in” the BDS movement cannot contract with any Ontario public body. That includes “any ministry, agency, board, commission, official or other body of the Government of Ontario…any municipality in Ontario, or…a local board, as defined in the Municipal Affairs Act, and any authority, board, commission, corporation, office or organization of persons some or all of whose members, directors or officers are appointed or chosen by or under the authority of the council of a municipality in Ontario.”

So much for working at an Ontario university or college if you have personally expressed support for BDS. Good luck if a union supports BDS—under this legislation, its collective agreements with a municipality, hospital, school board or the province of Ontario would be torn up. Pension funds would also be cleansed of political impurities.

The point is not that the Charter of Rights would eventually land on all this like a sledgehammer. It’s that our Ontario legislators seem to be giving the Bill serious consideration. It doesn’t matter, in the final analysis, what your views of Israel, Palestine or the Middle East in general happen to be. What is slowly going on before our eyes in Queen’s Park exposes the shallow roots of our democracy: the relative ease by which legislators prove willing to silence ordinary Canadians without a second thought.

In 1998, the Ontario Supreme Court made an important ruling in the case of Daishowa Inc. v. Friends of the Lubicon. The latter were supporting a small band of Cree whose ancestral lands were being logged without permission by a major corporation. They had initiated a consumer boycott of Daishowa, and the company was seeking a permanent injunction to prevent them from doing so. The court did not impose the injunction, and stated:

The expression engaged in by the Friends relates directly to a very important public issue which deserves respect, protection and a forum. If the Canadian Constitution protects a corporation’s expression where the context is largely economic, then the common law should not erect barriers to expression by consumers where the purpose and effect of the expression is to persuade the listener to use his or her economic power to challenge a corporation’s position on an important economic and public policy issue.

Why should a nation-state be any different in this respect than a corporation? In either case, the law should not erect barriers to expression. But that’s precisely what Ontario lawmakers are attempting to do now. Is that acceptable in 2016? Let your MPP know what you think.

UPDATE: And…the Bill is defeated on second reading by a vote of 39-18.

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To countless well-wishers

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Faro in the window.jpgThank you. Thank you all so much. Also on behalf of my friend Penni—and my stepson, Danny, whose road to healing will be the rockiest.

I cannot express how cheering your good wishes have been over this difficult period. Just over two weeks. Feels like months.

Moved beyond measure. All of our differences erased. Just a reaching-out, sympathy and friendship.

No more words.

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ezra.jpgSept, 1 2016 - Comedian and oil company lobbyist Ezra Levant today unveiled his latest media coup at a downtown intersection in Chapleau, Ontario. While the sudden shift from failed-online-video-and-podcast-recycling-group-blog to a Magic Marker and Bristol Board format took some Rebel subscribers by surprise, Levant insists that this new incarnation marks a huge technological and journalistic leap forward.

“It’s low cost, incredibly efficient, and environmentally friendly,” explained Levant. “And you’ll notice that we manage to convey exactly the same quantity of news at exactly the same level of detail, analysis and accuracy my followers have come to expect. See how I used the different colours of marker, and how nice and straight the lines of text are? People appreciate that.”

Levant dismissed critics who attribute his new format to failure of his last venture to attract advertising, and to the departure of several key contributors. “I think it’s great that Brian finally found himself a real job,” said Levant. “And I couldn’t be happier that that faggot Antichrist Coren found a publisher for his socialist, Muslim-loving anti-Israel feminazi blasphemy. No, I didn’t read it. I don’t read books named after guitars. And it didn’t have any pictures, did it?”

Although many Rebel supporters with paid subscriptions were at first nonplussed, the majority rallied quickly behind Levant’s new venture. “I think it’s great that Ezra’s breaking down the last barriers between audience and, uh, whatever it is he is”, said Bryna Gene, in the last comments of the Rebel site. “He’s the last free thinker left in Canada who really encourages his readers to think for themselves.” “I agree”, added Ryan Djeaan in a response. “He’s the last free thinker left in Canada who really encourages his readers to think for themselves.”

Meanwhile progressive bloggers across Canada reacted with shock and horror to the news. “I guess I could buy a few cartons of yellow stickies and plaster the lampposts in Chapleau with disparaging comments”, said a visibly shaken Facebooker who referred to himself only as TR. “But what’s the point? What’s the point of anything anymore?”

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On The Mend

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Dropped by the Dawg House yesterday, and am pleased to report that the Good Doctor is doing very well. Healing nicely, mobile, in good spirits, and catching up on his Netflix while his recovery continues. He was deeply moved by all the kind thoughts, words, prayers and good wishes, and asked me to convey his gratitude to you all.

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Dear Dawg...

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Our dear friend needs your prayers, your good wishes, or whatever else you can send his way.

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Omar in love

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Omar in love.jpg

Congratulations, kid. My hopes that you live a long and happy life with your partner. If anyone deserves that, it’s you.

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Readers may or may not remember my account in 2013 of a dentist in Camrose, Alberta, Dr. Simona Tibu, who was beaten to a pulp by a brave local cop, Sgt. Oscar Rob Behiels, after he stopped her on the highway for speeding.

She might well have been guilty of “contempt of cop.” She’s not overly fond of them. In any case, male punishment for uppity women was swiftly administered.

She was charged, of course, with assault on police—that’s just routine. And she was convicted, too, by a judge named Gordon Yake. The media, as usual, played along. They had originally refused to name the cop, and even blanked out his face in a photograph. Now they reported that her “bizarre behaviour” was the issue.


The thuggish cop in the photo above wasted no time after the conviction, suing her for defamation.

That case remains before the courts. But, in the meantime, Dr. Tibu has seen a measure of justice. It turns out that Behiels had no legal grounds to arrest her. Convictions on the bogus charges against her were overturned on appeal in December, 2015.

The judge was unsparing. Behiels made 10-12 demands for ID in 44 seconds: Tibu was given no time to respond before she was set upon. As for Judge Yake, she was as clear as can be: he had “misapprehended the facts” and “ignored evidence.” One suspects a bit of male bonding between the judge and the officer who beat up a woman who might have been lippy with him.

The Crown appealed, but was turned down flat this month. Violence against women was not, as things turned out, rewarded by the justice system in Alberta. With clearance of the faked-up charges, Tibu may now have adequate defence against the rogue cop’s defamation action. But matters should not end there. I, for one, hope that she now sues the cop and his department for everything but police badges to cover their modesty. This story cries aloud for a satisfactory ending.

UPDATE: She filed suit a week ago. H/t to reader trapdinawrpool for being more thorough than I was.

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Caught red-handed

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Ottawa note: Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion is now a publicly-documented liar. Not to mention a despicable human being, with blood on his hands.

The Liberal regime has taken a genuinely ugly turn. Expect more—much more—of this in the future.

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The pundits have spoken.

“The manifesto crystallizes an eternal conflict in left-leaning parties between the right of workers to work and the right of highly educated urban literati to express their opinion about how everybody else should live.” ~Paul Wells

“egregious nonsense…champagne socialist la-la land.” ~Michael Den Tandt

“…a utopian and bombastic rant.” ~Lysiane Gagnon

And here is Rachel Notley, the flukey winner of an Alberta provincial election, struggling to ensure that the pitchforks-and-torches crowd don’t show up at the Leg again:

“These ideas will never form any part of policy. They are naive. They are ill-informed. They are tone deaf.”

At this low point in the NDP’s trajectory—centrist “Third Way” politics in the dust-bin of history, but a possibly irreversible ebbing away of anything like vision or alternative politics from the ranks of the party—some still dare to dream. This has caused, of course, the usual backlash.

The wiseacres in the Parliamentary Press Gallery, offering their fifty shades of grey, are at their dismissive best. Unable, apparently, to grapple with actual ideas, they posture instead, as they inevitably do when new ideas manage to enter the national debate. One might forgive, however, the terrified Premier Notley, fighting off the nightmarish certainty that she is a one-term wonder: who would want to be in her position?

In any case, the NDP passed a resolution at the Edmonton Convention about the Manifesto. It wasn’t an endorsement. It simply called upon riding associations to discuss the ideas expressed in the Manifesto over the next two years. Debate. Argue the pros and cons. But even an invitation to hold a conversation is too much for certain politicos and the tapioca-dispensers of the PPG, although the shape of our future depends upon how we resolve the key public policy issues raised in the document.

I propose that we have some of that conversation right here. I’ll hold off for a bit, although, to declare interest, I’m a signatory.

This, then, is the Leap Manifesto. Discuss.

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A crime in Ottawa

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From a United Nations news release in 2011, citing a statement by Juan Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:

Indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should…be subject to an absolute prohibition, [Méndez] added, citing scientific studies that have established that some lasting mental damage is caused after a few days of social isolation.

“Considering the severe mental pain or suffering solitary confinement may cause, it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles,” he warned.

In Ottawa, a 22 year old man, Mutiur Rehman, was imprisoned in 2013 and held in solitary at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre for eighteen months.

He was driven mad.

No longer fit to stand trial, he is presently being held indefinitely in a secure unit of the Royal Ottawa Hospital.

The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services under Minister Yasir Naqvi is supposedly “reviewing” its segregation policy. It is refusing to comment further.

And no word from Naqvi.

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