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National News Briefs

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Issue: 4 Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada Topics: trade agreements, migration, homophobia

July 27, 2003

National News Briefs

Deportations and WTO in Montreal

The Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees, a Montreal activist group, has accused the federal government of "systematically" denying Palestinian refugee applications, while deporting hundreds of refugees already living in Canada. Many Palestinians in Canada have come from refugee camps in Lebanon, where the living situation is dismal. Palestinians in Lebanon are restricted from working in 78 professions. Palestinians are treated as second class citizens in many middle eastern countries, and are unable to return to Palestine proper, as it is not recognized as a state. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has consistently stated that the Palestinian right of return must be forfeited as a condition of peace negotiations. Around 300 people attended a July 19 protest against deportations in Montreal.


Palestinians protesting deportations in Montreal: unable to return home, many Palestinians have spent their lives in refugee camps. photo: Montreal Muslim News (more photos)
Meanwhile, a large coalition of activist groups has been preparing for a World Trade Organization ministerial to be held in Montreal in preparation for meetings in Cancun, Mexico later this summer. Many groups are using the meeting as an occasion to discuss a broad range of issues, from intellectual property rights to indigenous sovereignty. Teach-ins and workshops will be held for the duration of the meetings. Other groups plan to disrupt the meetings directly. --DOJ

* * *

Manley Pulls Up Short

When he made the announcement he would seek the Liberal leadership, John Manley, an avid marathoner, claimed that he was in this race to finish. This week when he announced he was withdrawing his candidacy for the leadership there were not sporting analogies, but an appropriate one might have been "No Mas," (no more) the words of boxer Roberto Duran upon recognizing that he was clearly outmatched by Sugar Ray Leonard.

Many pundits say it's not that Manley withdrew that's surprising, but that he stayed in so long in the face of the overwhelming evidence that the Liberal Party wants Paul Martin. Martin enjoys huge support in the party with Manley polling in second place in the teens throughout most of the race, and third candidate Sheila Copps struggling to crack double digits. Martin is also the most supported politician in the nation to become the next Prime Minister with polls indicating a huge difference between his support and all of the other federal leadership candidates.

Manley's withdrawal leaves Copps as the only pretender to Martin's throne and the Prime Ministership. The two could not be viewed more differently as Copps has always represented the Liberal left-flank. Martin was a fiscally conservative Finance Minister and is connected to the business interests that support the Liberal Party. Copps is a long serving member, one of the few who survived the lean Mulroney years. In the leadership race she has never been seen as a true contender, something Manley pointed out early on, and certainly should she remain in the race to the end is unlikely to pose a serious threat to Martin at the leadership convention.

That Martin isn't seriously challenged is representative of his long held ambitions to be Prime Minister. Martin ran for the leadership against Chrétien in 1990 and has been preparing to assume the leadership since. Martin has spent years stacking riding associations, the federal party executive, and campus youth wings, among others. He chased off Alan Rock and Brian Tobin, the two most serious challengers only 18 months ago, without much of fight. Despite the Prime Minister's wish to prevent Martin from assuming his role there's little he can do about it, but attempt to sabotage his first election by staying in office until the bitter end. --NB

* * *

Pride in the Name of Love (and Marriage)

Summertime brings with it innumerable events not otherwise possible in Canada during the long dark winters. Among the festivals, outdoor concerts, and summer water sports, parades to celebrate Gay Pride are common across urban centers in Canada. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Moncton all host their own Gay Pride Parades. This year's celebrations are marked with a new excitement following the announcement that Canada will become the fourth country to amend the legal definition of marriage to allow same-sex marriages.

Estimates of the numbers in attendance at this summer's Pride Parades have been impressive. Estimates in stodgy Ottawa were at more than 5,000 in attendance to watch and support the local gay, lesbian, transgendered community celebrate their lifestyle and the new found freedom to wed. Several couples in the parade wore signs saying, "Just Married" which drew loud cheers from the crowd.

A recent Ontario court ruling has ruled that the narrow definition of marriage as being constituted between a man and woman only contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The governing federal Liberal Party has announced they will not appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court and will draft new legislation on the subject shortly. The Commons Justice Committee was in support of the Liberal direction, with the exception of the Canadian Alliance members of the committee.

The Pride Parades have been subject to some protest. The Ottawa parade was followed by two men carrying signs bearing scripture decrying homosexuals as deviants. Encouraging news from recent polling information suggests that they are among a minority of Canadians as most support the expansion of marriage to include same-sex couples. Protest has also been heard from south of the border where Canada has once again become the target of angst of a number of conservative religious movements, including the Reverend Fred Phelps, a homophobic US church leader, who for the second time in three years has promised to come to Canada and burn the Canadian flag on Parliament Hill. --NB

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