Canada

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‘Adopting Canada’s Progressive Conservative Strategy Won’t Save Rishi Sunak’s Party’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/03/2024 - 11:41pm in

Across Britain, political commentators have been singing Pierre Poilievre’s praises. Poilievre, Leader of Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party, now leads Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the polls by a 17-point margin. In all likelihood, he will be the next prime minister of Canada. 

At first glance, Poilievre seems like UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s foil – something many commentators in Britain have picked up on.

Both are young Conservatives who rose to prominence in 2022 – one as opposition leader, the other as Prime Minister. Both have ascended in similar economic and political climates – in which issues like COVID, immigration, inflation, and an overheated housing market were front and centre. 

Both moved the needle some 20 points for under-thirties – but only one, Poilievre, moved it in the right direction. 

Perfect opposites, Poilievre has ushered in a new and almost unprecedented category of young Conservative voters, while Sunak has nearly eliminated them – with only one in 10 Brits under 40 reportedly planning to vote Conservative in the next election.  

It is tempting to suggest – as many British columnists have – that Sunak and the Conservatives should be modelling their political calculus on Poilievre. But this is a misreading of the political situation in Canada.

Poilievre’s policy approach and rhetoric hasn’t won over Canadians in any meaningful sense. Rather, Canadians have fallen out of love with Trudeau in a big way. What’s more, endeavours by Sunak’s Conservatives to descend into populism have mostly backfired.

There is no understating how disliked Trudeau is by many Canadians. Two-thirds look upon him unfavourably, and half believe he should resign before the next election.

Because Canadian news doesn’t travel particularly well, this is easy to overlook. To some on this side of the Atlantic, Trudeau still appears the fashionable young progressive – or the beloved, beady-eyed “Calvin Klein model” – he appeared to be in 2015. 

At the moment, the country finds itself embroiled in a $60 million dollar corruption scandal that led to a precipitous decline in Liberal favourability when the news surfaced last November. Colloquially known as 'ArriveScam’, the scandal involves what appears to be reckless overspending on a mid-pandemic app created by government contractors, which was meant to speed up border declarations. But his is just one of a long string of scandals that has plagued Trudeau's administration.

Canada’s souring on the Liberals, then, has little to do with what Poilievre has done well and everything to do with what Trudeau’s administration has done poorly, unethically and scandalously

No doubt, Poilievre is a skilled politician. But the economic and social vicissitudes of recent years have made the opposition’s job in both Canada and the UK a sinecure.

Just like in Canada, Labour’s success in the polls is in no small part owing to the Conservatives floundering, what with 'Partygate’, Liz Truss’ fall from grace, and a unlawful Rwanda plan all weighing heavily on the minds of the British electorate. 

Those who believe Sunak has something to learn from Poilievre often raise housing affordability, which has long been the sine qua non of Poilievre’s campaign. Yet, in all likelihood, Canada and Britain’s respective housing crises would be in similar shape with Poilievre or Keir Starmer at the helm. The post-pandemic inflationary run that drove up housing prices in countries like Canada and the UK was mostly unrelated to which party was in power. 

When commentators suggest that Poilievre’s message is resonating with Canadians, what they really mean is that his rhetoric has struck a chord. Some might recall a video of Poilievre that went viral last year, in which he calmly rebuffed a journalist while eating an apple. The video is paradigmatic of Poilievre’s approach to politics. That is, he incessantly calls for 'common-sense’ government without wading too far into the weeds of what that might entail.  

Is that what Brits want of Sunak? Because Poilievre’s brash, populist tone surely resembles that of another British politician – the one who claimed to be “made of Gregg’s” – who fell sharply out of favour with voters by the time he stepped down in 2022.

Even if that is what British Conservatives want, Sunak couldn’t pull it off. The Prime Minister is a technocrat through and through, not a populist. He promised a government of “integrity, professionalism and accountability” but has not delivered. An eleventh-hour embrace of populism by the Conservatives is only likely to set the party back further.

Jonah Prousky is a London-based Canadian commentator. He has written for Canada publications including the Globe and Mail, CBC, Toronto Star, Canadian Affairs, and Calgary Herald

U.S. Government Seeks “Unified Vision of Unauthorized Movement”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/03/2024 - 5:25am in

As the immigration crisis continues and the Biden administration pursues a muscular enforcement strategy with an eye to public opinion and the 2024 presidential election, the Department of Homeland Security prospers. One obscure $6 billion program has grown silently: a network of over 1,000 surveillance towers built along America’s land borders, a system that it describes as “a unified vision of unauthorized movement.”

A broad outline of the Biden administration’s plan to solve the immigration crisis in America was unveiled this week, including 5,800 new border and immigration security officers, a new $4.7 billion Southwest Border Contingency Fund, and more emergency authority for the president to shut down the border when needed. Moving forward on these programs will “save lives and bring order to the border,” President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address last week.

Homeland Security’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget request, released yesterday, includes $25.9 billion to “secure the border,” mostly through more government agents and more (and more capable) technology. Hidden in the fine print is the $6 billion tower surveillance program, one that has been in the works and growing since 2005 for years.

The system is called Integrated Surveillance Towers, and it is projected to reach “full operational capability” in 2034, a network of over 1,000 manned and unmanned towers covering the thousands of miles that make up America’s northern and southern borders. IST includes four ever-growing programs: Autonomous Surveillance Towers (AST); Integrated Fixed Towers (IFT); Remote Video Surveillance System Upgrade (RVSS-U); and the Northern Border RVSS (NB-RVSS). The deployment of various towers have been going on so long, some are already obsolete, according to the DHS 2025 budget request.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, IST detects and identifies “threats in near real time,” plugging up one gap that allows for “the exploitation of data collected by sensors, towers, drones, assets, agents, facilities, and other sources informing mission critical decisions in the field and at Headquarters.” Modern technology, including AI and “autonomous capabilities,” the Border Patrol says, is key to “keeping front-line personnel safer, more effective, and one step ahead” of border enemies.

Towers are currently being built and netted together by Elbit America (part of Israel’s Elbit Systems), Advanced Technology Systems Company, and General Dynamics. Defense Daily reported in September that DHS plans to acquire about 277 new IST towers and upgrade about 191 legacy surveillance towers in the latest set of contracts. A January press release from General Dynamics celebrates the distinction of being named one of the three recipients of a piece of a $1.8 billion indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract: “The Consolidated Tower & Surveillance Equipment (CTSE) system consists of all fixed and relocatable sensor towers, and communications and power equipment necessary for CBP [Customs and Border Protection] to perform surveillance along the southern and northern borders of the United States.” The company says it may take up to 14 years to complete.

The network of towers hosts various day and night capable cameras and radars, and can also be equipped with other sensors, including cellphone communications intercept devices, to paint a picture of hostile terrain below. The main focus of DHS today is to net all of the towers into “a single unified program” and integrate AI into the ability to detect movement and activity to create a “common operating picture.”

Though billions have been spent on the IST program, government auditors have consistently questioned whether it actually reduces unlawful border crossings. A General Accountability Office assessment from 2018 concluded that the DHS was “not yet positioned to fully quantify the impact these technologies have on its mission,” that is, whether the towers actually help to stem the flow. The GAO then recommended that DHS establish better metrics to “more fully assess … progress in implementing the Southwest Border Technology Plan and determine when mission benefits have been realized.”

A new GAO report issued last month updates progress on the IST program and says that finishing the network in Texas has been a problem. “According to the IST program manager,” the report reads, “… ease of access and willingness of property owners are key factors when considering sites for tower placement. The program manager stated that sites in the Laredo and Rio Grande Valley sectors … are still challenging because these areas need permissions from multiple landowners and road access may be an impediment.”

Though the vast majority of undocumented immigrants cross the southern border at just a handful of locations, homeland security equally seeks to cover the entire Canadian border with towers, according to DHS documents. And not only that: Homeland security is eyeing the California coast and the coastal Atlantic for future expansion, portending a ubiquitous nationwide system of ground surveillance.

ResearchAndMarkets.com’s November report on “Border Security Technologies”says that the market will exceed $70 billion globally in 2027, rising from $48 billion in 2022. “The adoption of AI-integrated surveillance towers will be critical to driving growth, with the total value of camera systems globally expected to reach $22.8 billion by 2027; up from $10.1 billion in 2022. Surveillance towers are capable of creating a virtual border, detecting, identifying, and tracking threats over great distances.”

“AI-integrated surveillance towers are at the centre of growing concern by campaign groups regarding their potential to analyse the behaviour of the general population, possibly infringing upon people’s human rights. These concerns may slow adoption unless addressed,” the report says.

The post U.S. Government Seeks “Unified Vision of Unauthorized Movement” appeared first on The Intercept.

South Africa to file legal action with ICJ against UK, US, for war crime complicity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/02/2024 - 10:32pm in

Nation whose case put Israel formally on trial for genocide joins Nicaragua in turning its sights on accomplices in genocide

South Africa’s legal team at the ICJ last month

A team of almost fifty South African lawyers is preparing a legal case to bring to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations’ top court, against the US and UK, for their complicity in Israel’s array of war crimes in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

South Africa’s successful ICJ case against Israel last month led to Israel being put formally on trial for genocide and resulted in a string of binding orders on Israel to stop its slaughter of Gazans and even to protect Palestinians from harm, as well as to ensure adequate aid reaches the strip’s 2.5 million people, many of whom are now starving and homeless.

Israel has flouted the rulings, continuing and even intensifying the mass murder and blockade, and is being supported in its flagrant disregard for international law by the UK and US, who are providing both material and financial aid, and giving political cover by refusing to condemn Israel’s actions or to call its crimes what they are, instead casting doubt on the mass deaths and brutality and denigrating the Court’s ruling.

South Africa joins Nicaragua in taking action against the UK and US. The Central American nation has also filed a case against Germany, Canada and the Netherlands.

The team of lawyers, which already numbers around fifty, is likely to grow further as more lawyers are set to join from other nations. Wikus van Rensburg, who is leading the action, said that it was time for the US and other complicit nations to “be held responsible for [their] crimes”.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Nicaragua brings ICJ case vs UK, Germany, NL, Canada for complicity in Gaza genocide

While individual UK politicians face potential personal liability for collusion in Israel’s slaughter, UK government as a whole is now also on hook

The Nicaraguan government initiated proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday against the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Canada for complicity in Israel’s genocide in Gaza by providing the Israeli occupation with weapons and support used in the killing of Palestinians.

A statement by the Nicaraguan government notes that it had warned these states of their likely complicity in “flagrant and systemic violations” of the Genocide Convention, urging them to immediately stop providing Israel with weapons and tech that were likely to be used in violation of the Convention and that the ICJ’s ruling against Israel last month had put a duty on all countries to stop supplying Israel with the means to conduct its slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza.

The ICJ ordered Israel not just to stop its own killing of Gazans but to “take all measures” to prevent their deaths and to improve the dire humanitarian situation. 
 
UK PM Rishi Sunak, so-called ‘opposition leader’ Keir Starmer and other senior politicians have already been warned by the International Centre for Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) that it will prosecute them for their personal liability for colluding in and providing cover for Israel’s mass murder of Palestinian civilians.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Homelessness among Indigenous peoples

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/08/2023 - 1:56am in

I’m writing an open access textbook on homelessness and have just released Chapter 6, which focuses on homelessness experienced by Indigenous peoples—especially in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

A ‘top 10’ overview of the chapter can be found here: https://nickfalvo.ca/homelessness-among-indigenous-peoples/

What did Canada’s recent federal budget do for housing and homelessness?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/04/2023 - 12:12am in

I’ve written a blog post about what Canada’s recent federal budget did for housing and homelessness (which wasn’t very much). Here’s my analysis: https://nickfalvo.ca/canadas-2023-federal-budget/

Canada’s 2022 federal budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/04/2022 - 10:18pm in

Canada’s 2022 federal budget had a very strong housing focus. I’ve written a ‘top 10’ overview of the budget here: https://nickfalvo.ca/canadas-2022-federal-budget-was-a-housing-budget/

What can municipalities do about homelessness?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/04/2022 - 10:31pm in

I recently contributed an essay to a paper series published by the University of Toronto’s Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance. The focus of my own essay is the role Canadian municipalities can play in addressing homelessness.

A ‘top 10’ overview of the essay can be found here (in English): https://nickfalvo.ca/what-can-municipalities-do-about-homelessness/

A ‘top 10’ overview of the essay can be found here (in French): https://nickfalvo.ca/que-peuvent-faire-les-municipalites-canadiennes-pour-contrer-litinerance/

The full essay can be downloaded here (English only): https://munkschool.utoronto.ca/imfg/report/the-municipal-role-in-housing/

Guest editorial: Homelessness in Canada

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/03/2022 - 5:01am in

I’ve written the guest editorial for a special edition of the International Journal on Homelessness. The guest editorial provides a general overview of homelessness in Canada (and I believe it serves as a helpful stand-alone reading for practitioners, researchers, students and advocates).

My guest editorial can be found here (in English): https://ojs.lib.uwo.ca/index.php/ijoh/article/view/14810/11659

My guest editorial can be found here (in French): https://ojs.lib.uwo.ca/index.php/ijoh/article/view/14810/11660

The special edition of the journal can be found here: https://ojs.lib.uwo.ca/index.php/ijoh/issue/view/1370

The Minister of Housing’s Mandate Letter

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/01/2022 - 12:56am in

On 16 December 2021, mandate letters for Canada’s federal ministers were made public. The letter for Canada’s Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion contains an important set of marching orders.

I break it down in this ‘top 10’ blog post: https://nickfalvo.ca/the-minister-of-housings-mandate-letter/

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