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Amnesty ‘deeply concerned’ about Alberta’s plans to fight oil industry foes

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CALGARY — Amnesty International has warned Alberta Premier Jason Kenney that his government’s fight against oil and gas industry foes puts human rights at risk.

The head of the group’s Canadian branch outlined his concerns in an open letter Tuesday that highlighted Alberta’s public inquiry into foreign funding of environmental groups and its $30-million war room to combat critics through social media, advertising and the press.

“Amnesty International is deeply concerned that these initiatives undermine and violate a range of Alberta’s human rights obligations, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, the rights of Indigenous peoples and gender equality,” wrote secretary general Alex Neve.

The United Conservative government has launched a multi-pronged attack on groups Kenney has accused of mounting a “campaign of lies and defamation.” He has blamed Canada’s inability to build new market-opening pipelines — and the associated economic woes in Alberta — on deep-pocketed U.S. charities that have unfairly maligned Canadian energy.

Although Alberta has enacted no laws stopping environmentalists from expressing their views, the government has created a toxic environment by labelling them liars and enemies, Neve said.

“That really stands to cast an incredible chill amongst environmental groups and others in the province, some of whom will nonetheless push through,” he said. “Others will become cautious and fearful, will feel that it’s not worth speaking out, that there may be repercussions, that they don’t want to expose themselves to danger.” 

Neve said threats — many of a sexually violent nature — tend to be aimed at women and Indigenous people who speak out.

The government’s promise to crack down on foreign funding of environmental organizations runs afoul of the right to free association, he added.

Under international law, groups have the right to work together on important social and environmental issues such as climate change — and that includes seeking and receiving funding to do so, Neve said.

In a speech to an oilsands conference in Fort McMurray, Alta., Kenney ridiculed Amnesty’s letter.

The premier said he set up an Amnesty International club in high school because of its work on behalf of prisoners in authoritarian dictatorships.

“The world must be in a pretty good place now with respect to human rights if they’re now focusing their attention on efforts by the government of Alberta to advocate for the environmentally responsible development of resources,” said Kenney, who added he intends to write back to Neve.

Kenney said Canada has a moral obligation to provide its energy to the world.

“Is it really the view of Amnesty International that the world would be better if this country — this great champion of human dignity, of equality, of opportunity, of environmental protection —  were to abandon global energy markets to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and Venezuela?”

Neve said it’s Alberta’s prerogative to defend its industry vigorously.

“The measures the government chooses to defend the industry … absolutely (need) to be entirely compliant with our human rights obligations and needs to go far in ensuring that words are chosen, tone is chosen in a way that is not going to add to the toxicity of the debate.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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Trudeau was only one in dark makeup at 2001 party but nobody took offence: attendee

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VANCOUVER — A man who attended an “Arabian Nights” gala held by a private school in Vancouver says no one besides Justin Trudeau attended in skin-darkening makeup, but no one else there was dressed as Aladdin.

Wayne Hamill, who is white, says he doesn’t recall anyone expressing any offence over Trudeau’s costume or “brownface” makeup at the time.

Hamill went to the 2001 party because his kids were West Point Grey Academy students and he says the future Liberal leader’s costume was in keeping with the theme and others were dressed as belly dancers or wearing saris or veils.

He says he’s not a Trudeau supporter but he believes the uproar over a photograph showing Trudeau made up in brownface is unfair because it’s applying today’s standards to yesterday’s context.

Trudeau has apologized for the image and others that have emerged of him wearing skin-darkening makeup, saying he had a blind spot because of his privilege and he deeply regrets behaviour he now recognizes as racist.

He says in his 2014 book, “Common Ground,” that teaching at West Point Grey Academy gave him new insights into the “privileged lives” of private-school students that he didn’t glean from his own advantaged upbringing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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Ontario Human Rights Commission unveils new policy to tackle racial profiling

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VAUGHAN, Ont. — Ontario’s Human Rights Commission says racial profiling in law enforcement is profoundly harmful.

It says the police practice hurts black, Indigenous and other racialized communities.

The commission today released a new policy on eliminating racial profiling called Under Suspicion.

It says it’s the first such policy in the country.

Recommendations include acknowledging the problem, collecting data on police stops and independent accountability.

It also calls for officers to wear body cameras.

 

The Canadian Press

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september, 2019

tue06augAll Daysun29sepHot Mess - Erin Boake featured at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery(All Day)

sun22sep2:00 pm4:00 pmVinyasa with a View2:00 pm - 4:00 pm MT Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, 120 College Circle Event Organized By: Lululemon Red Deer

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