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Quebec City Muslim worshippers condemn fatal New Zealand mosque attacks

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  • QUEBEC — A little more than two years after their own community came under attack, Muslims in Quebec City said they were in shock over the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques Friday that claimed at least 50 lives.

    Their horror was echoed by members of other Muslim communities across the country as they offered condolences to the grieving families and spoke out against extremism.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned as “absolutely appalling” the attack on worshippers attending Friday prayers in Christchurch.

    “Hate has no place anywhere,” Trudeau said in a statement. “We must all confront Islamophobia and work to create a world in which all people — no matter their faith, where they live, or where they were born — can feel safe and secure.”

    Boufeldja Benabdallah, the head of the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, said a feeling of “indescribable pain” was apparent in his own community. He extended condolences to the New Zealand victims and expressed concern for families in Quebec City being forced to relive the Jan. 29, 2017 attack that left six men dead.

    “I’m convinced they are feeling a terrible pain. Imagine the children of those families here in Quebec who are hearing it on the radio and will watch their mothers cry and ask, ‘Why are you crying?’ ” Benabdallah said.

    “The mothers will remember the 29th, when they ran to get husbands who were killed by Alexandre Bissonnette.”

    Benabdallah added that amid the mourning, it is time for people to speak out against extremism and for lawmakers to legislate against it.

    “We must get back to work once again to explain, to tell these extremists of all stripes who politicize religion, like extremists who use race as a basis for discrimination, that we must change,” Benabdallah said. “The world cannot continue like this.”

    During a vigil in Toronto, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said it’s important for people around the world to say no to hatred.

    “We have to work every single day to eradicate this hatred in our midst,” Hussen told the crowd at Nathan Phillips Square, many of whom carried signs bearing slogans such as United Against Islamophobia.

    “And we have to tell those who peddle in this kind of hatred — whether they be ordinary citizens or whether they be politicians — that this is the logical extension of that hatred.”

    Police in many cities across the country said they were stepping up patrols around places of worship on Friday and communicating with local Muslim communities about their security concerns.

    “We will have a heightened police presence in the community, focusing on places of worship — especially mosques. We have done this to ensure the city is as safe and secure as possible,” said Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook, a Toronto police spokeswoman.

    In Halifax, Imam Abdallah Yousri of the Umma Mosque said no special precautions were being taken, but he confirmed that the site, with a capacity of 2,000, already has a good security system.

    “We will have discussions about that to see how we can enhance our security systems to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen in the future,” he said in an interview.

    He said some members called to see whether prayers would go ahead as scheduled on Friday, and he assured them the mosque would be open. “It’s always a special day on Fridays,” he said. “We pray every Friday.”

    Rabia Khedr, executive director of the Muslim Council of Peel, said the early news about Christchurch immediately brought to mind the Quebec City shooting.

    “I didn’t sleep all night,” Khedr said. “I cannot believe the number of people that have been killed, the number of people that have been injured.”

    She said an attack on Muslims in a Western nation hits harder.

    “When it hits a Muslim majority country we feel sad, we feel sorrow, however that feeling is a little different in a western democracy where we are minorities,” she said. “Because it’s pure and utter hatred. It’s Islamophobia in its ugliest form.”

    The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, based in Calgary, also spoke out against the attack.

    “This is nothing but terrorism against Muslims. This is nothing but hate against Muslims. This is nothing but Islamophobia,” Imam Syed Soharwardy said in a statement.

    Trudeau said Canadians join New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world in grieving and condemning the attack and work to act against violent extremism.

    “Far too often, Muslims suffer unimaginable loss and pain in the places where they should feel safest,” Trudeau said. “Canada remembers too well the sorrow we felt when a senseless attack on the Centre culturel islamique de Quebec in Ste-Foy claimed the lives of many innocent people gathered in prayer.”

    Mohamed Labidi, a past president of the Quebec City mosque, told reporters Friday he regretted that humanity had not learned its lesson after the attack on his community.

    A fellow mosque member said the question remains why these attacks continue to happen.

    “The reaction is the same as what we experienced already,” said Alpha Barry. “We have been affected, our population is affected and we keeping asking why? Why is this happening every day?”

    Parliament lowered the flag on Centre Block to half-mast in honour of the victims — a move followed in other provinces and cities. Vigils were also planned in various Canadian cities in memory of the victims.

    One man was arrested and charged with murder in what appears to have been a carefully planned racist attack in New Zealand.

    There are unconfirmed reports that the shooter was influenced by Bissonnette, the former Universite Laval student convicted of killing six worshippers in 2017.

    A now-deleted Twitter account that is believed to be linked to the accused shooter shows what appear to be three assault-rifle magazines, one of which has Bissonnette’s name on it.

    Aymen Derbali, a survivor of the Quebec City attack who was left paralyzed, said he was devastated when he saw video of the New Zealand attack.

    “Certainly for me, when I saw the video this morning, it brought back what we experienced here,” he said outside the mosque.

    “The hardest thing is that he was inspired by what happened here. He had the killer at the mosque here as an idol. It was written on his weapons.”

    Bissonnette was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 40 years, but the Crown and his lawyers both recently announced they are appealing the sentence.

    Through his lawyers, Bissonnette, who is seeking a reduction of his sentence, issued a statement Friday saying he was “very affected” that his name was linked to the New Zealand attack. His lawyers said in the statement that Bissonnette’s decision to appeal wasn’t meant to minimize his actions.

    — Written by Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal with files from Michelle McQuigge in Toronto; Michael MacDonald in Halifax and Caroline Plante in Quebec City.

    The Canadian Press


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    National

    Davie, rivals square off over future of multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan

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  • OTTAWA — The president of Davie Shipbuilding says he is confident the Quebec-based shipyard will be tapped to build two new ferries included in this week’s federal budget.

    But James Davies says it is time the federal government stop rewarding other shipyards for failing to deliver new vessels to the navy and coast guard, and officially admit his company into the multibillion-dollar national shipbuilding plan.

    The comment came late Wednesday as top officials from Davie and its two bitter rivals, Vancouver-based Seaspan Shipyards and Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding, appeared one after the other before the Senate finance committee.

    Seaspan and Irving were selected through the shipbuilding strategy in 2011 as the two shipyards responsible for building what at the time was estimated to be $35 billion worth of new vessels for the navy and coast guard.

    Davie also competed but was passed over and has since been forced to fight for scraps outside the plan.

    That includes the provision of an interim resupply vessel for the navy and three second-hand icebreakers for the coast guard.

    Davies also told the committee he did not think any other shipyard could provide the two new ferries included in the budget. They will replace two existing ferries, one of which operates between Quebec and Prince Edward Island and the other between Nova Scotia and P.E.I. The budget does not provide any further details, including cost or when they will be built.

    Despite his sunny view of his company’s capability, Davies was clearly focused on getting his shipyard admitted into the national shipbuilding plan. He noted that, seven years after it was launched, both Seaspan and Irving are continuing to get work despite not having delivered a ship, and the plan’s overall costs have doubled.

    “A deal with no consequence of failure is toothless,” Davies said. “Consequence means that in the light of such failure, the government needs the ability to choose an alternative supplier for future contracts.”

    That includes potentially breaking up the work that, under the current arrangement, is almost entirely the purview of the other two yards, he said, and contracts not yet awarded.

    Davies specifically mentioned 10 large coast guard vessels that were promised to Seaspan in 2013 at an estimated cost of $3.3 billion, but construction of which won’t realistically start until sometime in the mid- to late-2020s.

    During his own appearance, Irving Shipbuilding president Kevin McCoy defended his shipyard’s work to date, telling the committee that the first of 21 vessels Irving has been tasked to build, an Arctic patrol ship for the navy, will be delivered this summer.

    Progress is also being made on five others, McCoy said, as well as the navy’s new, $60-billion warship fleet, which will be built in the coming decade.

    The original cost of those warships was estimated at $26.2 billion, while the first Arctic ship was initially expected in 2015, but McCoy nonetheless said there has been a lot of false information and rhetoric about the state of the plan — and of Irving.

    Seaspan chief executive officer Mark Lamarre similarly said a short time later that work is advancing on the West Coast as three fisheries science vessels for the coast guard are near completion after several delays, some of which were caused by faulty welding.

    Steel has also started to be cut on the first of two long-overdue resupply vessels for the navy, he said.

    Lamarre admitted Seaspan has faced challenges, but he said difficulties were inevitable given that it had been a generation since the government and shipbuilding industry launched such a massive project.

    Both sides have learned some hard lessons over the years that are now being applied, he added.

    While they didn’t mention Davie, the Seaspan and Irving officials also both pushed back against any suggestions of opening up or otherwise changing the national shipbuilding strategy, saying a fair competition was held in 2011.

    James Irving, co-chief executive officer of J.D. Irving Ltd., which owns the Halifax yard, said his company invested $450 million of its own money with the “good faith” understanding the strategy would not be changed.

    — Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.

    Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Winnipeg labour leader quits; cites sexist comments, treatment by men

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  • WINNIPEG — A labour leader in Manitoba has resigned from her job over what she says have been sexist remarks and dismissive treatment by some of her male colleagues in the labour movement.

    Basia Sokal surprised about 50 people at a Winnipeg Labour Council meeting Tuesday night when she announced she was resigning as president after two years on the job. The council is an advocate on municipal labour issues in the city and is part of the Canadian Labour Congress.

    “In the last 12 months alone, I have seen and heard and been experiencing some of the worst things that you could ever imagine,” Sokal told the crowd.

    “I’ve got about six pages of things that have been said to my face … and I just want to mention that these were all said by brothers — brothers in the movement, brothers of labour.”

    Some men made comments about her breasts, Sokal said. Others told her to just agree with what she was being told.

    “‘You women are all the same. If you don’t like what is going on, why don’t you just leave?'” she said one man told her.

    She did not mention anyone’s name.

    It became clear, Sokal said, that she was expected to keep her opinions to herself and defer to others.

    In an interview Wednesday, she said she took her concerns to the Canadian Labour Congress last spring and was told there would be some sort of followup. She also spoke to officials at Manitoba NDP headquarters about one man who was on a party committee, she said.

    Sokal was directed to the federal party, she said, which told her in February it was still looking into the matter but had been busy with other things.

    Sokal said she felt she was running out of options.

    “There are several people … higher up in the labour movement, that knew what was going on,” she said.

    “The systems don’t allow for change.”

    Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, said he was surprised by Sokal’s resignation and suggested that workplaces need to improve.

    “Those are serious issues. They’re unacceptable. They’re wrong in the labour movement. They’re wrong in any kind of work environment.”

    The Canadian Labour Congress did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Sokal said she would like to see changes in the labour movement, starting with a more inclusive environment.

    “I want to see different voices at the table and not just the typical Old Boys club that it actually continues to be.”

    Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press


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    march, 2019

    fri8mar - 30aprmar 85:30 pmapr 30Real Estate Dinner Theatre5:30 pm - (april 30) 10:00 pm

    sat23mar10:00 am- 4:00 pmLet Them Be Little Market10:00 am - 4:00 pm

    sat23mar1:00 pm- 4:00 pmMAGSaturday @ the MuseumMAGnificent Saturdays welcomes all ages and abilities to participate in a fun art project every week! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    sat23mar8:00 pm- 10:30 pmA Night at the Movies8:00 pm - 10:30 pm

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    sat30mar - 31mar 3010:00 ammar 319th Annual Central Alberta Family Expo10:00 am - 5:00 pm (31)

    sat30mar1:00 pm- 4:00 pmMAGSaturday @ the MuseumMAGnificent Saturdays welcomes all ages and abilities to participate in a fun art project every week! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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