The RCMP’s senior counterterrorism officer singled out radical preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki yesterday as a common thread among young Canadian extremists.
Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said Awlaki, a Yemeni-American terrorist leader, had been popping up during investigations of “the individuals that are of concern to us.”
“He’s a major, major factor in radicalization,” Ass. Comm. Michaud, head of the RCMP’s National Security Criminal Investigations section, told the National Post in an interview.
“This individual, basically he’s born in the U.S., so he knows the Western culture and whatnot, he knows the words to use and how to get to the young people.”
The RCMP have been investigating radicalized Canadians who have travelled to such countries as Somalia and Pakistan for terrorist training.
His comments came a day after the Canadian government ordered financial institutions to look for property linked to Awlaki and, if they find any, to seize it and report it to the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
The move followed similar measures enacted last week by the United States and on Tuesday by the United Nations Security Council, which placed Awlaki on its list of individuals associated with al-Qaeda.
The UN said in its summary of reasons for listing Awlaki that he is a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was involved in recruiting and training camps.
Since late 2009, he has “taken on an increasingly operational role in the group.”
In particular, he prepared Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab for his attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day using explosives hidden in his underwear, it said.
Born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, Awlaki preached in the 1990s at mosques in U.S. cities such as San Diego, where he was repeatedly arrested and fined for picking up prostitutes. He moved to Yemen in 2004.
Making use of his fluency in English, he began to exploit the Internet to introduce al-Qaeda’s worldview to the online generation. His recordings, in which he exhorts Muslims to commit terrorist violence, have made him popular among angry youths — and a target. In April, the Obama administration authorized U.S. agencies to capture or kill him.
“We seek to apply the rule of Koran, and make the word of Allah supreme over all other and God willing, we will strive to achieve these goals with all what we possess, and we will fight to the last man against whoever stands in our way,” he said in a recent online message. “We are fighting for God.”
From the Toronto 18 to the Somali-Canadians in Al-Shabab, many of those involved in terrorist groups share a fascination with Awlaki, who has been in hiding somewhere in Yemen since 2007.
“I disagree with him all the way,” said Saed Rageah, Imam of the Abu Huraira mosque in Toronto. He said he had listened to tapes of Awlaki and found he was taking Koranic verses out of context to justify his views. “I disagree killing innocent people, Islam disagrees with that,” Imam Rageah said.
On Wednesday, the police crackdown on Awlaki’s followers continued. Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, was arrested after he allegedly attempted to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabab, the terrorist group behind the bombings in Uganda that killed 76 during the World Cup soccer final.
Mr. Chesser told the FBI that since converting to Islam in 2008 he had become “very extremist” in his beliefs, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Virginia. He said he was a fan of Awlaki’s videos and had exchanged emails with the fugitive preacher.
When he was stopped at New York’s JFK airport on June 10, because he was on the U.S. no-fly list, he was travelling with his infant son. He later told the FBI he was using the child to cover up his true intention, which was to travel to Somalia.
Also known as Abu Talha Al-Amrikee, he had earlier come to public attention for supporting the killing of the creators of the animated television show South Park, which had depicted the Muslim prophet Muhamed wearing a bear costume.
Five years after the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a deportation order against Rwandan Leon Mugesera — and 15 years after first being ordered out of the country — Ottawa is reviewing the case and could send him back to his home country.
Moe Abdullahi Mohamed, who spent six months with Somali militant group Al-Shabab is concerned about radicalism among young Somali-Canadians. Stewart Bell, National Post · Thursday, Mar. 18, 2010
TORONTO — Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed works as a security guard at an apartment complex in Toronto’s Little Mogadishu neighborhood. It can be a slow job, sitting at the gatehouse, but nobody could call him inexperienced.
Before he returned to Toronto last year, the 35-year-old Canadian spent six months with the Somali militant group Al-Shabab. He trained at Al-Shabab’s main camp in Mogadishu and guarded the frontlines.
“To us, the local people, they were freedom fighters,” Mr. Mohamed said of Al-Shabab. “They were fighting for our country, they were fighting for the survival of the Somali race, and everyone rallied behind them.”
Vic Toews, the Public Safety Minister, announced last week that the government had added Al-Shabab to Canada’s list of outlawed terrorist organizations. He said the al-Qaeda-linked group was “actively recruiting within the Somali-Canadian community.”
Police and intelligence officials are investigating a half-dozen young Canadians suspected of having joined the militant group. A video posted on the Internet this week claimed one of them, Mohamed Elmi Ibrahim, had died “in battle.”
Mr. Mohamed, who immigrated to Ontario in 1989, is believed to be the first Canadian to speak publicly about his time with Al-Shabab. He told his story to the National Post in exclusive interviews in Mogadishu and Toronto.
Video: Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed speaks out
Mr. Mohamed said he opposes Al-Shabab’s extremist ideology and only trained and fought alongside the group to expel Ethiopian troops from his country. But his time with Al-Shabab gave him a rare look inside the group, now a top priority for Western counter-terrorism agencies.
Mr. Mohamed said Ottawa is right to be concerned. He said that is why he decided to speak out, because he wants to help tackle the extremism that is luring some Somali-Canadians to join Al-Shabab, and that could motivate others to commit terrorism in Canada.
“Young and angry Muslim Canadians. That is a recipe that al-Qaeda would dream to have. It’s like the Lotto 6-49 for them because that’s all they want, to tap into that,” he said.
Because of the chaos in Somalia, some parts of Mr. Mohamed’s account could not be verified. But he provided documents to back some elements of his story and members of the Somali community and two Western officials vouched for his credibility. He was also hired temporarily by NATO last fall to advise the alliance on Somalia.
“I know his story quite well,” said his longtime friend Robert Lemstra, who went to Brock University with Mr. Mohamed and now works as an Africa specialist in the Netherlands. “Him and I have had regular contact throughout the years.”
Mr. Mohamed first came to the Post’s attention in January 2007 in Mogadishu, where he is a member of one of the city’s most powerful clans. The newspaper hired him on one occasion to help arrange interviews with Somalis.
Mr. Mohamed is the son of a tribal chief who owns a Mogadishu auto shop that specializes in Italian FIATs. The family was well-off by the standards of Somalia but when he was 14, his mother died in a house fire and he was sent to Toronto to live with an aunt.
After graduating from Kipling Collegiate Institute, he majored in political science at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., before moving to Australia to study law at Bond University.
In 2004, he returned to Africa to campaign for his cousin, Hussein Aidid (the son of Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid), who was running for president. Mr. Aidid lost the election but was named deputy prime minister and asked Mr. Mohamed to serve as his political secretary.
During the years Mr. Mohamed had been away in Canada and Australia, Somalia had collapsed. Rival warlords had reduced Mogadishu to rubble and an extremist group called the Islamic Courts Union had emerged from the mayhem.
The ICU sought to restore order to the country by imposing its harsh version of Islamic law. Backed by a Taliban-like militant group called Al-Shabab, Arabic for “The Youth,” it began fighting to topple the government.
As the armed Islamists advanced, the weak Somali government asked its northern neighbour, Ethiopia, for help. Ethiopia had fought bitter wars against Somalia, so when Ethiopian troops arrived to quell the insurgency, the Islamists had no trouble recruiting.
“Ethiopia was basically a God-given gift,” Mr. Mohamed said. He called the decision to allow the Ethiopian military into the country “the stupidest thing they could have done.”
The Ethiopians were implicated in rapes, looting, executions and indiscriminate firing in populated areas. In 2007, Ethiopian soldiers came to Mr. Mohamed’s home to take him away. He was convinced he was going to be killed, but during a skirmish, he escaped into the area of Mogadishu controlled by Al-Shabab.
He said that after his close call, he vowed to fight the Ethiopians until either they left or he died. He said he underwent weapons training at the Salahedin training camp, located in an old Italian graveyard. “It was run by the Shabab,” he said. “From morning until mid-day they give you training, military training — defensive tactics, how to shoot a gun, basic self-defensive training, and in the afternoon they were giving us speeches.”
The Al-Shabab leaders framed the conflict in religious terms, saying Somalis were being punished for not following their Islamic faith, and that if they died fighting for Allah they would go to paradise, Mr. Mohamed said.
Mr. Mohamed gave some speeches himself. Because he had been freed from the Ethiopians as a result of an Al-Shabab attack, he was used for propaganda purposes and was regularly asked to speak to the young militants, he said.
In his speeches, he said, he appealed to Somali patriotism by mimicking lines from Braveheart, which he had seen at an Ontario movie theatre. “I was basically calling people to unify and forget about the differences of tribe, religious allegiances. I was telling them our country is under occupation,” he said.
Said Mr. Lemstra, “He’s quite a Somali nationalist, as most Somalis are, but definitely not a fundamentalist Islamic person whatsoever. He in fact just wants Somalia to be run by Somalis and have a good nationalist government.”
That sometimes put him at odds with Al-Shabab. He said he once challenged an extremist cleric over his views on martyrdom. And one afternoon, he said he gave an unwelcome speech near the National Stadium that served as the main Ethiopian military base. “I said, ‘I don’t care whether you are a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim. As long as you are a Somali, that’s all that matters now.’”
Afterwards, Al-Shabab took him aside and told him not to say such things, he said. It was a sign that Al-Shabab had its own narrow agenda but at the time Mr. Mohamed wasn’t thinking about anything but fighting the Ethiopians.
Mr. Mohamed said he saw “a few” foreigners in Al-Shabab. Most were Arabs from the Persian Gulf region, as well as Pakistanis and Eritreans, but he said he also spoke with a former Seattle barber who had converted to Islam and had come to Somalia for jihad. He said the barber was later killed.
For six months, Mr. Mohamed said, he went to the Salahedin camp almost daily. “I did a lot of guard duty, facing the stadium most of the time because the stadium in Mogadishu was the biggest military base of the Ethiopian army,” he said.
Asked if he had ever fired his weapon, he said: “Of course. A couple of times they [the Ethiopians] tried to run over us but we defended, and that’s normal, because they wanted to come and just slaughter us.
“We had women and children in the area and if they come, they will do whatever they want to them. So I have my wife and my son in there. Do you think I will allow them to walk [in]? First, they should kill me.
“Because if they go in they will rape my wife and kill my son probably. So I have to do whatever I can to defend, that will never happen and I did whatever I could. I am proud fighting against the Ethiopian army. I’m honoured.”
In 2008, Mr. Aidid asked Mr. Mohamed to come to the Eritrean capital Asmara to help with a new group called the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia. He said he served as chief of staff to the central committee chairman.
When Ethiopia finally pulled its last troops out of Somali in 2009, Mr. Mohamed said he quit within 24 hours and, after spending a few months in Dubai, returned to Toronto to find a job and sponsor his family to join him in Canada.
Upon returning to the Dixon Road neighborhood where he grew up, Mr. Mohamed said he was alarmed at the level of extremism he witnessed among some of the young Somali-Canadians he met. “I was shocked how deep these kids are into this radicalization.”
Some were interested in fighting in Somalia, he said. One of the members of the Toronto 18 terrorist group was Somali-born, and one of the most prominent Al-Shabab leaders, an American named Omar Hammami, had lived in Toronto’s Little Mogadishu.
Then last fall, Canadian authorities began investigating the “Somali Six,” a group of young Toronto men in their mid-20s who may have joined Al-Shabab. Mr. Mohamed suspects a recruiting network may be operating.
“How did these six boys get a ticket, airplane ticket, somebody waiting for them at the airport in Nairobi, putting them in a hotel there, taking them up to another city, taking them out of the country, smuggling them to Somalia? There must be an organization here, there, everywhere.”
He believes youths are becoming radicalized partly from the Internet, particularly by watching online extremists like Anwar Al Awlaki, an American-born al-Qaeda ideologue who encourages Muslims to commit terrorism in Western countries.
Mr. Mohamed is trying to help.
He is in the early stages of forming a non-profit organization called Generation Islam, which will steer Somali-Canadians away from radicalism. He wants the government to contribute funding. No such program currently exists in the Somali community.
“I think this will be an initiative which can really make a difference,” said Mohamed Gilao, executive director of Dejinta Beesha, a Toronto-based settlement services organization that works with the Somali community.
Ahmed Hussen of the Canadian Somali Congress said the fact that just six Somalis are suspected of having joined Al-Shabab suggests that only a small minority are buying into extremist ideology. “It’s not pervasive, however one is too many.”
Mr. Mohamed said his priority is to “help de-radicalize these young kids who are being brainwashed … to tell these young kids that there is another way. You can be a patriot, but you don’t need to be a terrorist.”
He said he fears what could happen in Canada if nothing is done. At the same time, Somalia does not need more gunmen, he said. It needs educated Canadian Somalis to help rebuild the country after three decades of wrenching war.
The city is taking applications for the newly created position of diversity czar, and the winning candidate will benefit handsomely — the starting salary ranges from $121,849 to $151,151 annually.
The position involves leading the city’s new office of equity, diversity and human rights, which essentially merges three existing city units, explained deputy mayor Joe Pantalone. Because the budget for the new mega-office will remain the same as the three combined, the change — announced quietly to affected staff in April–did not require council approval.
“It will be the same responsibilities [as the three combined] except you’ll have a still gentle, but more powerful club behind it,” Mr. Pantalone said.
It remained unclear yesterday how, specifically, the diversity czar will promote diversity.
An online job posting for the position says the selected candidate, who will report directly to the city manager, “will develop, implement and report on progress in meeting the city’s equity, diversity and human rights goals and objectives that maximize the talents of the city workforce and ensure that the city’s policies, services and programs continue to be responsive to the needs of all of Toronto’s communities.”
Part of the task will be ensuring a workforce that is “diverse at all levels,” overseeing human-rights complaints and supporting “a new urban aboriginal strategy.”
Relevant city staff were not available to provide particulars of the day-to-day job responsibilities.
Upon hearing the proposed salary for the position, mayoral candidate Rob Ford was incensed, calling the diversity leader’s mandate “clear as mud.”
“That’s a complete waste of taxpayers’money. Paying someone that outrageous amount, $150,000 — I’m speechless,” he said yesterday, noting even though no new money is being spent, the city could realize savings by placing an existing staff member in the lead role of the new office.
“There are people with experience and expertise in this field already. Let’s take one of those people,” he said.
Asked if he saw any value in the new office overall, Mr. Ford responded: “I don’t even know what it is. If I have to go to the taxpayers and justify spending $150,000 on somebody heading up a diversity office, I will guarantee I’ll be laughed off the doorsteps of their homes.”
The new office should be up and running by the fall, Mr. Pantalone said.
With nearly half of Torontonians born in countries other than Canada, he said, the move will provide a boost to the city’s diversity mandate.
“These objectives are being strengthened and made more powerful by having been unified, and secondly by being made a higher status in the civil service…. It’s good news,” said Mr. Pantalone, who is also running for mayor this fall.
Heather Connelly, an executive recruiter on contract with the city, is sifting through resumes, which are being accepted until Wednesday.
She said her contract precludes her from discussing details of the position itself, but noted in general, more workplaces in Canada have recognized the need for diversity coordinators.
“It is moving to much more about inclusiveness, equity, fairness — versus anti-racism, anti, anything that’s anti,” Ms. Connelly said.
As for the ideal candidate, Ms. Connelly said she would favour someone with enthusiasm for “the richness that an organization can have.”
“I wouldn’t want to see candidates who are imposing tough, hard policies,” she said. “I would want it from a positive, constructive approach, rather than from a negative, chip-on-the-shoulder approach.”
DIRECTOR, EQUITY, DIVERSITY & HUMAN RIGHTS
Leadership for Diversity and Inclusion!
Canada’s largest and most diverse city is seeking a leader for its new Office of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights.
You will work with the City Manager, Executive Director, Human Resources, City staff, and provide advice and guidance to City Council, agencies, boards and commissions on the implementation of equity and diversity initiatives and activities to ensure a workforce that is diverse at all levels of the Toronto Public Service and that reflects the communities the City serves….
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 11, 2010. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
MONTREAL — The Conservative government moved to allay concerns among ethnic groups Friday that their job prospects could be diminished by a move to eliminate an affirmative-action policy in the federal public service.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney held a late-afternoon conference call in which he fielded a battery of questions from ethnic media about the implications of a federal policy shift.
The government announced this week that it would review federal hiring policies and said it planned to scrap a practice where some jobs are reserved for minorities.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada estimates that such an exclusive policy applies to less than two-tenths of one percentage point of all federal jobs — or 91 of the 5,000 posted in 2008.
Kenney assured reporters from different community media outlets that broader efforts to encourage minority hiring would otherwise continue.
“There’s been some misunderstanding that we’re somehow ending or questioning or throwing into doubt the broader affirmative-action program,” Kenney said.
“That is not the case. We are merely encouraging the public-sector employers to ensure the principle of equality of opportunity.”
But he called it unfair that some current federal jobs explicitly allow or prevent applications based on race: “It’s not necessary to exclude people racially to achieve equality.”
Kenney’s comments came after the opposition railed against the Tory move earlier Friday.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff visited one of Canada’s most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods and applauded the work ethic of immigrants in a speech to supporters Friday.
He declared his party’s support for affirmative action and accused the government of a partisan stunt.
“I have a feeling what we’re seeing is not so much a right turn, as a return to the Conservative base, which is far to the right,” he told reporters while visiting the Montreal riding of MP Justin Trudeau.
“We’re seeing the reality of Conservative politics. . . We can’t understand how Mr. Harper keeps creating problems where there aren’t any.”
The government itself acknowledges that around only one per cent of job openings are limited to members of designated groups — which include aboriginals, the disabled, visible minorities and women.
That insignificant number is proof, opponents say, that the government had politics in mind.
With a supposedly fiscally austere government plunged deep into deficit, and no sign of a Mike Harris-style assault on federal spending in sight, opponents believe the Tories are taking steps to keep supporters motivated.
This summer has already seen moves to limit Statistics Canada’s census-taking power, ban funding abortions abroad through the G8 and, now, a mostly symbolic swipe at progressive hiring policies.
The NDP compares those moves to little scraps of red meat.
“It’s partisan food for a party that’s having some concerns with its own base in Alberta,” said NDP MP Paul Dewar.
“In the last couple of days we’ve seen the Conservatives basically carving out little issues and feeding them to their base.”
None of the moves appear set to trigger a life-or-death showdown in parliament, however.
Dewar described the moves over the census and affirmative action as “mischief” and said a confidence motion was unlikely.
Neither the Liberals nor the Bloc Quebecois replied to emails asking whether they would take any means necessary to protect affirmative action policies.
But the opposition will nevertheless find no shortage of faults with those policies and seek to exploit them politically.
Before getting back on board the bus taking him on a cross-country tour, Ignatieff spoke of his father who arrived as a penniless child in Canada when his blue-blooded family was forced to flee communist Russia.
“He benefited from Canada’s openness,” Ignatieff said. “And I want to defend Canada’s openness.”
“Preferential affirmative action patronizes American blacks, women, and others by presuming that they cannot succeed on their own. Preferential affirmative action does not advance civil rights in this country.” Alan Keyes
…………………… Affirmative Action is Racist Friday, July 23, 2010 The government has announced a review of affirmative action in the Canadian government’s hiring practice. Minister Stockwell Day implies that hiring someone on the basis of their ethnic background is racist. This is one of the rare occasions when I can completely agree with Mr. Day. Affirmative action is fundamentally racist.
Unsurprisingly NDP MP Pat Martin disagrees. He seems to think that discriminatory practices are somehow not discriminatory:
“I don’t think they can make a case that white, middle-class people are being denied access to public service jobs, or that there’s any preference shown.”
I not only think that such a case can be made, I think that making it would be extremely simple. To do so I will use an example that has been recently provided by Blogging Tory Sara Landriault.
Ms. Landriault posted the requirements of a job for a position in the Federal government:
Applicants must meet at least the first requirement:
* Open to: Members of the following Employment Equity groups: Aboriginal persons, visible minorities
* Persons residing in Canada and Canadian citizens residing abroad.
It then went on to define what a ‘visible minority’ is:
A person in a visible minority group is someone (other than an Aboriginal person as defined above) who is non-white in colour/race, regardless of place of birth. The visible minority group includes: Black, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, South Asian-East Indian (including Indian from India; Bangladeshi; Pakistani; East Indian from Guyana, Trinidad, East Africa; etc.), Southeast Asian (including Burmese; Cambodian; Laotian; Thai; Vietnamese; etc.) non-white West Asian, North African or Arab (including Egyptian; Libyan; Lebanese; etc.), non-white Latin American (including indigenous persons from Central and South America, etc.), person of mixed origin (with one parent in one of the visible minority groups listed above), other visible minority group.
This is a government job that is open to anyone except for someone of a particular ethnic background. Just because it doesn’t explicitly say “no whites need apply” doesn’t mean that this isn’t what the government is saying.
So Mr. Martin please explain to me how exactly white people aren’t being denied access to public service jobs?
Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on July 23, 2010 | Permalink Comments
He can’t explain it without sounding like a fool. There is simple no way to justify it. I have heard people try based on the perceived past sins of white people. This I find strange. The very people who are apparently victims of racism are willing to practice the same racism.
So we should fully expect futire affirmative action that legislates white people must be hired in order to make up for the sins of today?
Posted by: TM | 2010-07-23 9:14:14 AM
I recommend I be sent to an internment camp for agreeing with this piece.
Posted by: Blazingcatfur | 2010-07-23 9:16:44 AM
Of course affirmative action (often now called employment equity within the federal civil service) is racist along with sexist. As long as the government plays identity politics it will not change. How about ensuring that the best qualified person get the job regardless of colour, sex or whatever identity?
Posted by: Alain | 2010-07-23 10:54:21 AM
Racism of the “progressives” is much more encompassing than affirmative action. There is the racism of lowered expectations such as ignoring the killing fields of Cambodia, Somalia, Darfur, the Congo, or the exploits of Robert Mugabe while attacking “white” regimes for any perceived injustice (like Israel, because “they should know better and we expect a higher standard”). There is also the pursuit of ethnic voting blocks, apparently an acceptable form of racial profiling hiding behind nicer sounding names like multiculturalism or comprehensive immigration reform. And finally, there’s the hypocritical tolerance for purely racist organizations (and even racist rap culture – N word acceptance) such as the NAACP, or the Black Panthers, considering the potential outrage from “progressives” if there were equivalent “white racist” organizations given the same main stream acceptance.
Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-07-23 10:56:32 AM
John, excellent points! There are also Women’s shows, black music awards, etc. If you were to replace the word women or black with “white male” in these, the media would be in an uproar.
Imagine White Male Business Awards. White Music Awards, White Pride Day…
Posted by: TM | 2010-07-23 11:21:14 AM
Haven’t you caught on yet folks? It is all a big game, we are being conned!
Vote Left get Bull = Vote Right get Bull
This is why we need a new party for Canadian citizens, not for Corporations!
TWO Party System News clip: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2824363/the_obama_deception_extra_part_2/
Posted by: M Btok | 2010-07-23 2:33:06 PM
The only way Pat Martin’s comments can be cajoled into making sense is if you take them in the aggregate — i.e. white people as a whole aren’t systematically underrepresented in the civil service, therefore nothing is wrong.
In other words, individuals who miss out on a job opportunity don’t matter. Only the overall result for the whole group is important. A perfect example of the collectivist mind in action.
Posted by: Bradley | 2010-07-23 2:34:42 PM
The looney left like to coach opposition to AA as racism. Watch the movie American History X and the proposition is that anyone who opposes race based hiring ends up being a neo-Nazi
OTTAWA – Should the federal government have jobs that essentially say “whites need not apply”?
That’s the question in Ottawa this week with the Conservative government saying affirmative action programs should encourage women, minorities, the disabled and aboriginals to apply for jobs but not exclude others based on race.
The opposition parties see things differently.
Campaigning in Quebec, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff blasted the government’s call to review a policy that sets aside some jobs for certain races.
“We cannot understand why Mr. Harper keeps creating problems where there aren’t any,” said Ignatieff. “Public sector hiring should be based on merit, but it should also be based on giving everybody an equal shot.”
But that’s exactly what the government says it wants to do – give everyone an equal shot at government work.
Reacting to a QMI Agency story about an Ottawa woman who was barred from applying for a job because she’s white, the government asked for the policy to be reviewed.
“We want to ensure that no Canadian is barred from opportunities in the public service based on race or ethnicity,” said Treasury Board President Stockwell Day, the cabinet minister responsible for government workers. “The wheels of Ignatieff’s bus have clearly fallen off and he’s trying to distract Canadians.”
Day says the government’s preferred policies of encouraging minority groups to apply are working. He pointed out that 54% of civil servants are women and 18.8% of new hires last year were visible minorities. The cabinet minister says the media have sensationalized the story.
“The media took one case and exploded it across the nation,” Day told QMI Agency.
Despite Day’s complaint, the issue is about more than one job and more than one woman.
Personal stories from readers have been pouring in via e-mail and there are currently several federal government job postings across Canada that restrict people of certain races from applying. Some are only open to aboriginals and visible minorities, some only to aboriginals. The jobs range from communications advisors in Halifax and Montreal to legal assistants in Calgary and Winnipeg.
Day says as part of his review he will ask the departments using racial quotas why they are blocking people from applying based on race rather than just encouraging minority groups to apply.
The minister points out several departments have met employment equity targets without discriminating based on ethnicity.
Still the review goes too far for the Liberals.
“New Canadians and other minorities are directly threatened by Stephen Harper’s decision to cut workplace diversity and the census,” said Liberal multiculturalism critic Justin Trudeau in a statement.
The Liberal support for hiring based on racial quotas is at odds with what the party said during its time in power.
A 2005 memo from the top bureaucrat at the public works department said all hires from outside the department were to be from the designated groups.
The reaction from Scott Brison, the then Liberal minister for the department, was swift. Brison overruled the bureaucrat.
At the time, Brison said, “I support the whole policy of inclusion but I do not support discriminating against any group in hiring practice.”
Eugenio Reda (far left) and Emilio Rafeli (far right) seen here at the Palais du Justice.
Photograph by: Dave Sidaway, The Gazette
Montreal-Four former airport employees handled their own baggage as they were sent off to prison to serve lengthy sentences for conspiring with mob-tied drug traffickers to smuggle cocaine into Canada.
A composite sketch of a suspect in a June 29 sex asault has been released. Photograph by: Handout, RCMP
Burnaby RCMP have released a composite drawing of a sex-assault suspect after a June 29 attack on a 15-year-old girl.
Police describe the suspect as a 20-year-old Asian man with acne, about five feet nine to 11 inches with a slim to medium build. He has short, dark spiked hair, a crooked left front tooth and does not speak with an accent. He was wearing black clothing with worn-out white sneakers with an “N” on the side.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has found a former Vancouver cab driver guilty of sexually assaulting and robbing a drunk teenage passenger, according to court documents released Thursday.
Baljit Singh Aulakh was working for Yellow Cab when he picked up the 19-year-old victim, who cannot be named under a publication ban, outside the Roxy nightclub in October 2007.
The victim testified she was very intoxicated after consuming about eight drinks and was kicked out of the club after vomiting inside. Her friend put her in Aulakh’s cab and gave Aulakh $20, with directions to take her back to the friend’s apartment in Burnaby. Another friend at the apartment was to pay the fare difference.
The victim testified Aulakh stopped twice during the trip and that she was sexually assaulted in the back seat of the cab during the second stop.
When they arrived at the apartment, the victim mistakenly gave Aulakh her debit card, rather than her credit card, and her PIN number, at his request. She learned later that he had withdrawn $960 — reaching the card’s maximum daily limit — at two ATM locations.
After arriving at the apartment, the victim’s friends put her to bed. She forgot about the incident until the next morning, when one friend said, “You took so long, I thought maybe the cab driver tried to pull something,” the court documents stated. The victim then remembered the assault and began crying. A doctor examined the victim shortly after at Vancouver General Hospital and discovered a large vaginal tear not consistent with consensual intercourse.
The cab’s passenger-side sun visor had been flipped down, covering the surveillance camera.
Aulakh pleaded guilty to two counts of theft, but not guilty to sexual assault. His lawyer argued that there was no forensic evidence in the case, that the victim was so drunk that her testimony was unreliable and that it could have been someone else who assaulted the victim.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke said the hypothesis that another person might have come along and assaulted the victim while the cab was stopped “was not supported or even suggested by any evidence” in the case.
“Considering the evidence as a whole, I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the only reasonable inference to be drawn from the proven facts is that the complainant was sexually assaulted and that the accused was her assailant.”
A Vancouver taxi driver has been found guilty of raping a passenger who was too drunk to fight back, and then stealing her debit card to withdraw almost $1,000 from her bank account.
Yellow Cab driver Baljit Singh Aulakh was convicted of sexual assault in B.C. Supreme Court on June 29. He had already pled guilty to two counts of theft.
According to court documents, the victim was 19 years old when she was raped in the backseat of a cab in the early morning hours of October 7, 2007.
The woman — called K.R. in the judge’s decision — had been drinking with friends at the Roxy in downtown Vancouver, but was kicked out after she vomited inside the nightclub. Her friends hailed Aulakh’s cab, gave him $20 and sent K.R. to a friend’s apartment in Burnaby.
K.R. testified that she only remembered the details of the rape the next morning, when her friend asked why the taxi ride had taken so long.
At some point during the trip to Burnaby, Aulakh pulled over the cab in a secluded area; K.R. said that she was unable to yell or fight back as she was raped.
When Aulakh finally dropped her off at her friend’s building, she accidentally gave him her ATM card instead of a credit card to pay the fare. He said he needed her PIN to process the transaction, but did not return the card.
Aulakh admitted in court to making two withdrawals worth a total of $960 plus fees from K.R.’s account shortly after taking the card.
When K.R. realized what had happened to her, she reported the assault to police and was examined at Vancouver General Hospital, where a doctor discovered a large tear on her vaginal opening.
The doctor testified in court that it was the biggest tear she had ever seen, and could not have been caused by consensual sex — even if it were very rough sex.
Defence lawyers argued that someone besides Aulakh could have raped K.R. while the cab was stopped. Although the taxi was equipped with a security camera programmed to take regular photographs of the vehicle’s interior, the camera’s lens had been covered with the passenger-side sun visor.
But Judge William Ehrcke rejected that argument, writing that the defence’s theory, “is not supported or even suggested by any evidence in this case.”
A spokeswoman for Yellow Cab was not available to comment on the case. However, the company says that security cameras in its cabs are currently located on the windshield by the rearview mirror, where they can’t be covered by the cars’ visors.
Daisy Kler, a crisis counsellor with Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, told ctvbc.ca that she hasn’t heard of many examples of cab drivers assaulting passengers.
But she said it’s not uncommon for men to exploit opportunities for sexual assault presented while they’re at work.
“When sexual assault happens, it occurs by men of all different professions,” Kler said. “If he has regular access to women, he could take advantage of that.”
OTTAWA — A man deported to Sri Lanka is in hiding after being interrogated, and possibly tortured, in Colombo — the result, says his Toronto lawyer, of an exaggerated news release from the Canadian government trumpeting his removal.
Jothiravi Sittampalam is asking the Federal Court of Canada to reopen his case, saying his life is in danger because of the “egregious” conduct of the immigration and public safety ministers.
In documents filed with the court, lawyer Barbara Jackman says the ministers put Sittampalam at risk by “sensationalizing” his deportation, especially since a government delegate had earlier concluded he would face no harm in Sri Lanka because his public profile had faded.
Jackman also accuses Canadian officials of failing to disclose that they gave Sri Lanka information fingering Sittampalam as a fundraiser for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam — a group that waged a bloody fight for an independent homeland. Sittampalam denies committing crimes to support the LTTE.
A hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Toronto. The government has until mid-week to file a reply on its handling of Sittampalam’s case.
“We want the new evidence to be before the court, and ultimately if he succeeds in court we want him brought back,” Jackman said in an interview. “In fact, I want him brought back now. I don’t think he’s safe waiting.
“I would hope that the minister would do the right thing.”
Sittampalam, 40, was deported June 11 because of a cocaine trafficking conviction and the likelihood he led a Tamil street gang, A.K. Kannan, in the 1990s in Toronto.
A former long-distance trucker with landed-immigrant status, he left behind a wife and two young children.
A delegate for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney rejected the notion Sittampalam would be of interest to the Sri Lankan government — even though he had been identified in the media as the leader of a Tamil gang — because the “information and articles are dated.”
Upon being returned to Sri Lanka, Sittampalam was interrogated over a 25-hour period and threatened before being released on bail and told that he was under investigation, the court submission says.
On June 21, Kenney and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews were quoted in a federal press release describing Sittampalam as a “violent gang leader” — even though the A.K. Kannan hadn’t existed for several years and he had no criminal convictions for violent behaviour.
The statements led to his “name, picture and ‘violent’ character being plastered all over the news in Sri Lanka — print, radio, Internet and Twitter-like communications,” says the court submission.
Police came to Sittampalam’s home June 26, arresting him and his elderly father. His father was soon released but Sittampalam was taken to the fourth floor of the Sri Lankan police force’s Criminal Investigation Division.
“Human rights reports have for many years identified the CID as a place where torture occurs,” says the court filing.
An arrest notice from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order says Sittampalam was picked up for “leading A.K. Kannan gang in Canada and found raising (sic) for LTTE.”
While imprisoned, Sittampalam was permitted to telephone his wife in Canada, but could not speak freely as he was always in the presence of police.
Jackman argues the timing of Sittampalam’s latest arrest strongly points to the ministerial press release.
“The conduct of both ministers in making public statements about Mr. Sittampalam, labelling him in the present tense as a violent criminal, appear calculated to cause him problems in Sri Lanka,” says the court submission.
Jackman wants the Federal Court to hear evidence on the latest developments and call the government to explain its actions.
She suspects Sittampalam was released only because of the latest court filing, adding that he fears police will arrest him again.
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