Tag Archives: Canadian

Canadian dollar drops to lowest level since 2004

‘The downside could be enormous from here. There is no reason why it can’t fall much farther’

By Pete Evans

The Canadian dollar dropped to levels not seen since 2004 on Wednesday.

The loonie closed at 76.70 cents against the U.S. dollar, according to the Bank of Canada, down 0.53 cents. That’s lower than the 76.85 cents the loonie closed at on March 9, 2009, more than six years ago. The loonie hasn’t been this low since September 2004, almost 11 years ago, when it touched the 75 cent level.

Read more » CBC
Learn more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canadian-dollar-drops-to-lowest-level-since-2004-1.3163316

Canadians increasingly cynical about state of democracy: Hepburn

Voters are losing trust in the way Canada’s democracy works.

By:

EDMONTON—In findings that should disturb every politician across the country, a series of new national surveys suggest record numbers of Canadians are fed up with the state of our democracy.

Worse for elected leaders, more and more Canadians believe that politicians, regardless of their party affiliation, don’t listen to them, don’t care about the issues that really concern them and aren’t willing to act to preserve and improve our democratic institutions and traditions.

Indeed, the surveys indicate Canadians are more cynical now than at any time in recent history about politicians and how our democracy is working.

“There is an eroding confidence in government, in our political institutions,” pollster Keith Neuman of the Environics Institute said at a conference in Edmonton last week sponsored by the Montreal-based Trudeau Foundation.

The conference — entitled “The Common Good: Who Decides?” — attracted 350 participants, including politicians, government bureaucrats, academics and public policy experts.

Neuman told the delegates that growing numbers of Canadians are disillusioned with elected officials and have now turned to supporting grassroots citizen actions, such as the last fall’s Occupy Movement, the B.C. referendum on the HST and this summer’s Quebec student protests, as a way to make their voices heard.

On the eve of the conference, the Trudeau Foundation released a survey by the Environics Institute that indicated Canadians are placing less confidence in the ability of politicians to solve the country’s problems and balance competing interests when there are big differences on key issues.

Importantly, almost as many people (39 per cent) said they place greater faith in citizens taking grassroots actions through protests and other means as the best way to get action as those who said they still have confidence in politicians (45 per cent) to settle issues with competing interests.

Another survey released two weeks earlier by the Environics Institute found “clear evidence” of a decline in approval of political institutions since a similar poll in 2006.

The AmericasBarometer, which examined public opinion relating to democracy in Canada and 25 other countries in North and South America, indicated trust in Parliament and our politicians is at abysmally low levels.

Only 17 per cent of Canadians trust Parliament and only 10 per cent trust political parties.

A third poll, which is to be released on Dec. 3 by Samara, a non-profit group devoted to promoting citizen engagement, is expected to reinforce the view that the level of Canadians’ satisfaction with our democracy and in particular with our elected politicians is in free fall.

Continue reading Canadians increasingly cynical about state of democracy: Hepburn

Canada condemns ‘sinister’ terrorist attack on Pakistani school

By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

The burned-out buildings dotted the landscape of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled Swat Valley as veteran Canadian aid worker David Morley drove the bumpy roads with a local aid worker more than three years ago.

“This used to be a boys’ school, that used to be a girls’ school, that used to be a clinic,” Morley recalled his Pakistani colleague telling him.

“What’s he going to be thinking today?”

‘I think it is beyond our comprehension why somebody would target children’ -Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Morley, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Canada, did not mince words Tuesday as news emerged of the suicide attack that killed at least 141 people — the vast majority of them children — at a school in Peshawar, the Pakistani city abutting the Khyber Pass leading to Afghanistan.

“This is a crime against humanity and it’s against civilized norms because we want to nurture and care for our children,” Morley said in an interview.

“We want them to learn and educate, and this is heinous act against all of those norms.”

The attack sparked similar condemnation in Canada and abroad. Many viewed it as a new low in the behaviour of Taliban terrorists, who took responsibility for the attack.

Students ranging from Grade 1 through Grade 10 accounted for most of the dead. They were killed along with their seven attackers, all of whom were wearing explosive suicide vests. Another 121 students and three staff members were injured.

Harper offers condolences

Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to the families of the victims. It’s hard enough to understand the motives that underlie a terrorist attack, he said, but even more so when the targets are innocent children.

Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird has condemned the attack on the school, which he called cowardly and sinister. (Hasan Jamali/Associated Press)

“It’s hard for any of us, as rational and compassionate people, to understand terrorism — to understand why people would want, in the name of some political cause, to simply terrorize, hurt kill innocent people, whole sections of society,” Harper told a news conference in Quebec City.

“But I think it is beyond our comprehension why somebody would target children. As a father, your heart just breaks when you see that kind of thing.”

Read more » CBC
Learn more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-condemns-sinister-terrorist-attack-on-pakistani-school-1.2874900

Peel schools lower flags in support of people killed at Pakistan school

By

TORONTO – Flags will fly at half-mast outside of Peel District School board schools in support of those killed at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. The flags outside of the schools will fly at half-mast until the end of day Friday, Dec. 19.

“We were all shocked and saddened by the tragic events that transpired at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, today. Our thoughts are with all those affected, and we acknowledge the bravery of everyone who reacted immediately to protect the children and staff,” a press release from the school board read. A spokesperson for the Pakistani military said Tuesday that 132 children were among the 141 people killed when the school was attacked by Taliban fighters.

Read more » Global News
Learn more » http://globalnews.ca/news/1729686/peel-schools-lower-flags-in-support-of-people-killed-at-pakistan-school/

Canadian dollar sinks

 

Weaker loonie won’t save Canada’s low-skilled manufacturing sector, top economist says

By Greg Quinn, Bloomberg News

Canadian makers of goods such as dishwashers shouldn’t look to a depreciation of the nation’s currency to save their businesses, said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics.

Parts of Canada’s manufacturing industry will be wiped out by lower-cost Asian rivals, according to Weinberg, who said the country doesn’t have any competitive advantage when it comes to the business of bolting together cars and appliances from imported kits.

Read more » Financial Post
See more » http://business.financialpost.com/2014/10/02/weaker-loonie-wont-save-canadas-low-skilled-manufacturing-sector-top-economist-says/

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper blames Hamas for Palestinian casualties after Israeli shells hit UN shelter in Gaza

By Associated Press and Canadian Press

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is reiterating his government’s hard line against Hamas, saying it is solely responsible for the death and destruction in Gaza.

Harper said that while no one likes to see the suffering and loss that is occurring in the Middle East, Hamas is to blame. The prime minister said Hamas started the war because the terrorist organization wants to destroy the state of Israel.

Read more » National Post
http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/07/30/stephen-harper-blames-hamas-for-palestinian-casualties-after-israeli-shells-hit-un-shelter-in-gaza/

Shipbuilding contract holds $250M mystery

Cost of Arctic patrol ships’ design sparks warning of another procurement ‘fiasco’

By Terry Milewski, CBC News

A CBC News investigation has uncovered a $250-million mystery at the heart of Canada’s ambitious shipbuilding program.

Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced March 7 in Halifax that Ottawa will pay Irving Shipbuilding $288 million just to design — not build — a fleet of new Arctic offshore patrol ships.

Irving will then build the ships under a separate contract.

However, a survey of similar patrol ships bought by other countries shows they paid a fraction of that $288 million to actually build the ships — and paid less than a tenth as much for the design.

In addition, the design of Canada’s new ships is based upon a Norwegian vessel whose design Ottawa has already bought for just $5 million.

The Norwegian ship, the Svalbard, was designed and built for less than $100 million in 2002.

Experts say the design price is normally 10-20 per cent of the total cost of the ships.

Another country with Arctic interests, Denmark, acquired two patrol ships for $105 million in 2007.

They have modest ice-breaking capability, similar to the Canadian project, which allows for the ships to crunch through “summer ice” – about one-metre thick.

The Irish navy now is building two offshore patrol ships for $125 million.

In all cases, these prices include the design.

Why is Canada paying more?

Ambrose, MacKay and Public Works officials running the Canadian project were not able to explain why Canada would pay so much more to get so much less: shelling out more than twice as much merely to produce a blueprint for similar ships, without building any.

Continue reading Shipbuilding contract holds $250M mystery

IMF downgrades global growth forecast again

Conditions have worsened in past 3 months, demanding more ‘aggressive’ action

By CBC News

The International Monetary Fund delivered a pessimistic update to its forecast for the world’s economy on Tuesday.

In January — the last time it gave an update — the group expected the world’s economy to grow at a reasonable pace, slightly ahead of 2012’s pace.

Conditions have worsened further in the past three months, however, and the situation in Europe demands more “aggressive” action from policymakers, the IMF said.

“Europe should do everything it can to strengthen private demand,” IMF’s chief economist Olivier Blanchard said.

“What this means is aggressive monetary policy, and what this means is getting the financial system to be stronger — it’s still not in great shape.”

Canada, U.S. forecasts

The IMF says the world’s economy will expand by 3.3 per cent this year. That’s less than the 3.5 per cent pace of growth that the IMF expected previously, but a bit higher than the 3.2 per cent growth seen in 2012.

The IMF expects the U.S. economy to expand 1.9 per cent this year. That’s below its January estimate of 2.1 per cent and last year’s U.S. growth of 2.2 per cent. Still, the IMF says the U.S. economy should expand 3 per cent in 2014.

As for Canada’s economy, the IMF expects it will likely slow to about 1.5 per cent this year from 1.8 last year, before picking up to 2.4 per cent in 2014.

“The main challenge for Canada’s policy-makers is to support growth in the short term while reducing the vulnerabilities that may arise from external shocks and domestic imbalances,” the body advises.

“Although fiscal consolidation is needed to rebuild fiscal space against future shocks, there is room to allow automatic stabilizers to operate fully if growth were to weaken further.”

Courtesy: CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/04/16/business-imf-forecast.html

– – – – – – – –

More details » http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Business/ID/2379822011/

Canadian dollar falls after highest job losses since recession 4 years ago

Canadian Dollar Tumbles After Unexpected March Employment Loss

By Ari Altstedter

The Canadian dollar fell in its biggest decline in nine months against its U.S. peer after the nation unexpectedly lost jobs last month by the most since the last recession four years ago.

The currency declined against 13 of its 16 major peers as Canada had 54,500 fewer jobs in March, compared with the 6,500 gain predicted in the median estimate of a Bloomberg survey of 24 economists. The nation’s jobless rate increased to 7.2 percent from 7 percent. The U.S. added 88,000 jobs in March, versus estimates of a 190,000 gain. The Bank of Canada’s March 6 policy statement called for the economy to “pick up through 2013” on its way to 2 percent annual growth.

“Huge miss on both numbers, but particularly the Canadian number after many months of surprisingly strong employment data, we’ve finally seen some give back, so pretty swift reaction for the Canadian dollar,” said Blake Jespersen, managing director of foreign exchange at Bank of Montreal, by phone from Toronto. “There’s a lot more room for this to run, I think this is just the beginning of what could be a series of weaker employment numbers in Canada.”

The loonie, as the Canadian dollar is known for the image of the C$1 coin, fell 0.5 percent to C$1.0176 at 5 p.m. in Toronto. Earlier, it fell 1.1 percent to C$1.0236 per U.S. dollar, the largest drop since June 28. One loonie buys 98.27 U.S. cents.

Bonds Gain

Canada’s benchmark 10-year government bonds rose, with yields falling four basis points or 0.04 percentage point to 1.75 percent, touching the lowest level since Dec. 11. The 1.5 percent security maturing in June 2023 rose 36 cents to C$97.68.

Crude oil, the country’s biggest export, fell 0.3 percent to $93.02 per barrel in New York, after touching its lowest point since March 7. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of U.S. stocks fell 0.4 percent.

Canada’s jobs figures brings the labor market more in line with other parts of the economy, where output growth slowed to a 0.6 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter and inflation has lagged the central bank’s 2 percent target since May. Last month’s figures mean Canada posted a net loss of 25,700 jobs in the first three months of the year.

’Ugly Across’

“It was ugly across the board, there wasn’t one redeeming feature for the Canadian employment report,” said Mark Frey, chief market strategist at Cambridge Mercantile Group, a corporate currency broker, by phone from Victoria British Columbia. “When you look at the overall employment figures for Q1 in Canada, you’re seeing a pretty bleak outlook that has turned almost on a dime from the last five months of 2012.”

A separate report showed Canada recorded its 11th straight merchandise trade deficit in February, the longest streak in at least 25 years, with the shortfall unexpectedly widening as exports of metals declined.

The deficit of C$1.02 billion ($1 billion) followed a January figure that was revised to C$746 million from C$237 million, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the string would end with a C$100 million surplus, based on the median of 21 forecasts.

“Obviously disappointment on both sides of the border,” said David Tulk, chief macro strategist at Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)’s TD Securities unit by phone from Toronto. “The labor market is sort of catching up to the wider economic backdrop that we’ve always argued is still quite subdued, so this helps a little bit.” ….

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-05/canadian-dollar-extends-loss-after-unexpected-march-jobs-decline.html

Where is the evidence of Democracy?

Scientist muzzling probed by information commissioner

Complaint was filed by Democracy Watch and University of Victoria on Feb. 20

By CBC News

Canada’s information commissioner has confirmed that her office will investigate allegations that the federal government is muzzling its scientists.

The office of Suzanne Legault has concluded that a complaint made by Democracy Watch and the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Clinic in February falls within its mandate, wrote Emily McCarthy, assistant information commissioner, in a letter released Monday by Democracy Watch, an Ottawa-based non-profit organization that advocates for government accountability.

The letter, dated March 27, added that the office has notified and sent a summary of the complaint to the relevant government institutions:

  • Environment Canada.
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
  • Natural Resources Canada.
  • National Research Council of Canada.
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
  • Department of National Defence.

Treasury Board included

The letter added, “We have also determined that the Treasury Board Secretariat should be included in your complaint because of its role in relation to the development and implementation of government policies.”

Tyler Sommers, co-ordinator of Democracy Watch, said in a statement, that the group is “very pleased” about the investigation being called.

“And we will continue to push the information commissioner to get to the bottom of this situation, publicly release the results, and push the federal government to change these policies,” he added.

The complaint, filed on Feb. 20, suggested that federal government policy “forcing scientists to jump through hoops before speaking with the mediabreaches the Access to Information Act.

The complaint included a 26-page report with 100 pages of appendices, containing details and examples, based on internal government documents previously released through freedom of information requests, along with conversations with current and former federal public servants, journalists, members of non-profit organizations, and professors at Canadian universities.

The federal Access to Information Act requires the Office of the Information Commissioner to investigate “any matter related to obtaining or requesting access to records” from federal institutions.

Continue reading Where is the evidence of Democracy?

Canadians losing confidence in Harper Govt.

The Nanos Number

By CBC News

Each Wednesday, Nik Nanos of Nanos Research digs beneath the numbers with Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

Recognized as one of Canada’s top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, a research associate professor with SUNY (Buffalo) and a 2013 public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

Tune in for the Nanos Number, Wednesdays on Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, 5 to 7 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.

View past episodes below:

March 14: More Canadians see the economy getting weaker

The Nanos Number: 27, the percentage of Canadians who think the economy is getting weaker — a five-point increase in February over January. Read more and watch the full episode

March 6: Conservatives losing support

The Nanos Number: 32, the percentage national support for the Conservatives according to the latest Nanos tracking poll — the party’s lowest level in the tracking poll since August, 2009. Read more and watch the episode

Feb. 27: Canadian firms see drop in net profits

The Nanos Number: 29. That’s the percentage drop in net profits for Canadian companies over the past year, according to Statistics Canada. Should Canadians be worried? Read more and watch the episode

Read more » CBC News
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/28/pol-the-nanos-number.html

Canada drops in worldwide justice index

Access to justice is discriminating against poor and immigrant populations, says a new report by the World Justice Project.

By: Jeff Green, Staff Reporter

A new report from suggests immigrant and poor populations are being discriminated against in Canada because of a limited access to justice. Canada dropped since last year in six of the eight “Rule of Law” factors listed in the report from the World Justice Project.

The report ranked Canada among 97 countries worldwide in categories including government power, corruption, order, fundamental rights, open government, enforcement, and civil and criminal justice.

Some 97,000 people were polled worldwide, in addition to 2,500 experts in 97 countries to compile the report.

Continue reading Canada drops in worldwide justice index

Canadian giant Goldcorp has been repeatedly accused of damaging the environment and violating human rights in countries where it operates

Canada’s Goldcorp operations in Guatemala under the microscope

By Cecilia Jamasmie

Canadian giant Goldcorp (TSX:G) (NYSE:GG) has been repeatedly accused of damaging the environment and violating human rights in countries where it operates, particularly Guatemala. …

Read more » Mining
http://www.mining.com/canadas-goldcorp-operations-in-guatemala-under-the-microscope-10946/

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

More details » Is Canada’s Gold Corp. Good for Guatemala? Pt2

Lyuba Zarsky: Environmental and health effects are a violation of human rights Watch full multipart Gold and Latin America

Thousands of Greeks protest planned Canadian gold mine

By The Associated Press

More than 10,000 people have taken to the streets of Greece’s second largest city to protest a planned gold mine they see as an environmental risk.

Police blocked the crowd’s march to the Canadian Consulate in Thessaloniki, but Saturday’s protest took place and ended peacefully. Eldorado Gold Corp., based in Vancouver, Canada, has been granted the rights to the gold mine in Halkidiki peninsula, east of Thessaloniki.

The company has established a camp employing 1,200 people and plans to begin digging soon.

The issue has bitterly divided Halkidiki residents, with some claiming the mine will harm tourism and release toxic substances, and others denying that and saying new jobs are crucial during Greece’s severe economic crisis.

Last week, about 3,000 residents demonstrated in favour of the mine.

Courtesy: CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/03/09/wrd-greece-protest-canada-gold-mine-eldorado.html

Canadian PM unveils religious freedom office

Andrew Bennett named to head Office of Religious Freedom

Ambassador for religious freedom is a Catholic dean and former civil servant

By CBC News

Andrew Bennett has been named ambassador for Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today. “Around the world, violations of religious freedom are widespread and they are increasing,” Harper said In a speech at the Ahmadiyya Muslim community centre and mosque in Vaughan, Ont. ….

Read more » – CBC

Link – http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/02/19/pol-ambassdor-office-religious-freedom-announced.html

Canada – Manufacturing sales drop sharply

By: The Canadian Press

Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 3.1 per cent in December to $48 billion, the largest decline since May 2009 and worse than expected. ….

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/02/15/business-manufacturing-drop.html

CANADA – RCMP accused of repeated abuse of B.C. aboriginal women

Human Rights Watch report contains allegations of brutality, rape, threats

By: CBC News

An international human rights organization is calling on the federal government to launch a national inquiry into claims from aboriginal women of abuse and threats by RCMP officers in northern British Columbia.

Human Rights Watch, known for bringing worldwide attention to victims of torture and abuse in places like Syria and Burma, says the eyes of the world should also be on northern B.C. ….

Read more » CBC
Link – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/02/12/bc-human-rights-watch-abuse-report.html

– – – – – – – – –

More details » Human Rights Watch
http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/02/13/canada-abusive-policing-neglect-along-highway-tears

CBC – Canadian quality of life hammered by recession

Index shows turnaround in GDP growth no boost to quality of life

Canada’s economy may well be muddling through, but on a more personal level, Canadians generally are not, a new study of well-being suggests.

The Canadian Well-being Index, led by researchers at the University of Waterloo, shows that quality of life in Canada deteriorated by 24 per cent between the onset of recession in 2008 and 2010.

Canada’s main economic indicator, gross domestic product, only declined by about 8.3 per cent over the same period and began to make a turnaround by the end of 2010. ….

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/10/23/well-being-index-canadians.html

Canada jobs figure shrinks for first time in 6 months

Canada’s economy shed 22,000 jobs in January, but a corresponding drop in the number of unemployed people looking for work caused the jobless rate to also drop, to seven per cent.

Statistics Canada said the jobless rate ticked 0.1 percentage points lower as 57,500 people stopped looking for jobs — more than enough to offset the decline in the number of jobs.

“It had to be coming,” CIBC economist Avery Shenfeld said in reaction to the news.

In the last five months of 2012, the Canadian economy cranked out an average of 37,000 jobs a month. That was against a backdrop of official GDP data that showed the economy wasn’t expanding much.

With those two data points at odds, something had to eventually give. “The only question was when,” Shenfeld said.

Most of the job losses came from the public sector, where there were 27,000 fewer positions. Self-employment rose slightly, and the private sector was largely unchanged, the data agency said.

Self-employment tends to tick higher following job losses in conventional industries, as people decide to start their own businesses.

Construction boom

The manufacturing sector lost 22,000 jobs, bringing total employment in that key sector down to the same level it was at a year ago. The construction industry was a bright spot, adding 17,000 positions during the month.

“Given the recent slowdown in homebuilding and ongoing public sector restraint, we do not expect the strong hiring gains in the [construction industry] to be sustained,” Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said following the release of the data.

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/02/08/business-jobs-canada.html

Bulgaria bus bombing suicide bomber was a Canadian

Bulgaria bus bombing suspect had real Canadian passport, lived in B.C. before return to Lebanon at age 12

By: Stewart Bell

The suspected organizer of a Hezbollah bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a local driver in Bulgaria last July has only tenuous links to Canada but still possessed a genuine Canadian passport, the National Post has learned. ….

Read more » National Post
http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/05/canadian-citizen-confirmed-as-suspected-organizer-of-deadly-bulgaria-bus-bombing/

Pakistan still global jihad hub

By

PESHAWAR: Pakistan is still a major destination for radicalised Muslims bent on a life of jihad, despite hundreds of US drone strikes, the death of Osama bin Laden and the fracturing of Al-Qaeda.

New battlegrounds have sprung up in Africa and the Middle East, but the number of foreign recruits smuggled into the northwestern tribal belt is increasing and they come from more diverse countries.

Since the 1980s “jihad” to expel Soviet troops from Afghanistan, Muslim fighters from all over the world have lived and trained on the Afghan-Pakistan border, moulded into Al-Qaeda and a host of spin-off militant networks.

After US-led forces in late 2001 evicted the Taliban in Kabul for sheltering Al-Qaeda, Afghan Taliban fled across the border into Pakistan.

But Washington and Nato will end their combat mission in Afghanistan next year and these days the Taliban say their foreign allies are drawn to other conflicts, despite their support networks in a region outside direct government control.

“Al-Qaeda is shifting its focus to Syria, Libya, Iraq or Mali,” one member of the Afghan Taliban told AFP on condition of anonymity in northwest Pakistan.

Local officials estimate the number of Arab fighters has fallen by more than a half or two thirds in the last 10 years, to below 1,000.

In the last two years, some Al-Qaeda Arabs, particularly Libyans and Syrians, left to take part in the civil war in Syria and the violent uprising that overthrew Libya’s dictator Muammar Qadhafi in 2011.

Others migrated to Iraq in 2003, and others to Somalia and Yemen.

But Saifullah Khan Mehsud, executive director of the Fata Research Center, a think-tank focused on the tribal belt, says uprisings in the Middle East have had a minimal effect on the Arab presence in Pakistan.

“Arab fighters are not leaving in big numbers,” he told AFP. “They have been there for 30 years and it continues,” he added.

The number of fighters from other countries is also rising, say witnesses in Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan — the district with the largest concentration of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters.

“The overall number of foreign jihadis has increased in the last two years. Every week we see new faces,” says one regular visitor.

There could be around 2,000 to 3,500 foreign fighters in the border areas from around 30 different countries. During the 1980s, the number was also estimated to have been several thousand.

More nationalities, same problems

Most of the current crop are Turkmens and Uzbeks, numbering between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters according to local officials, who have fled authoritarian secular regimes in their home countries to set up their own groups.

The Islamic Jihad Union, which splintered from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, is based in Pakistan’s border areas. It is committed to toppling the government in Uzbekistan, and fights alongside insurgents in Afghanistan.

It has also plotted an attack in Germany, which was foiled.

US officials say covert drone strikes have played a huge role in destroying training camps and disrupting Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 362 US drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan since 2004 — 310 of them since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Although North Waziristan locals say the strikes kill more Taliban than Al-Qaeda operatives, they have condemned foreign fighters to a life underground.

“They are low profile, they dress like locals, they avoid big meetings and above all they move all the time,” a local journalist told AFP.

Mehsud says that foreigners are coming from a more diverse number of countries than in years past.

“A few months ago, we even welcomed some (two or three) people from Fiji for the first time!” says the Taliban member who spoke with AFP.

“There are more nationalities because they face the same problems. They tell us that they feel left aside by capitalism and discriminated by unfair laws, like the Swiss one on minarets or the French one on hijabs,” he adds.

Local and Western officials say the number of Western militants have fallen to dozens compared to the several hundreds of a few years ago.

A Canadian, who uses the name Mohammad Ibrahim, told AFP that he had been in Pakistan for three years but was now preparing to leave to wage jihad at home.

“Foreigners are now afraid to come to Pakistan because of the drone strikes,” he says, putting the number of his compatriots at 14, compared to “60 to 85 three years ago”.

A mechanical engineer by training, he says he works in “technical and logistic affairs” but does not elaborate further.

“I often met British, Spanish, Italians, Algerians and Germans. But now…our movements have been limited because of the drone strikes,” he says.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/2013/01/27/pakistan-still-global-jihad-hub/

Pakistani cleric: catalyst for change or military stooge?

By Matthew Green and Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters): A month ago, Muhammad Tahirul Qadri was living quietly in Canada, immersed in the affairs of his Islamic charity and seemingly far removed from the pre-election power games shaping the fate of politicians in his native Pakistan.

In the past three weeks, he has returned home to lead a call for electoral reforms that has earned him instant celebrity, sent a stab of anxiety through the ruling class and raised fears of trouble at a planned rally in Islamabad on Monday.

“Our agenda is just democratic electoral reforms,” Qadri told Reuters in the eastern city of Lahore, the headquarters of his Minhaj-ul-Quran religious foundation. “We don’t want the law-breakers to become our lawmakers.”

Continue reading Pakistani cleric: catalyst for change or military stooge?

The 50 most innovative companies in the World: No Canadian companies on the list.

Traditional companies getting in on the innovation push

BY TAVIA GRANT

It’s not just Apple and Google. Auto makers, industrial companies and old-fashioned conglomerates are now some of the most innovative companies in the world.

Tech and telecom firms still dominate Boston Consulting Group’s annual ranking, to be released Thursday, taking seven of the top 10 spots. But turbulence in their sector means many – including Waterloo, Ont.-based Research In Motion – have tumbled out of the global top-50 list while traditional companies such as General Motors and Siemens are gaining ground.

Innovation – or successfully creating value out of new ideas – is a big buzz word these days. It pays off, as the most innovative companies tend to see sustained, above-average returns. More executives are moving innovation higher up on their priority list to drive growth, especially given that most have completed cost cuts, and that mergers or acquisitions are too expensive.

“One of the big untapped value drivers is to dramatically increase rates of organic growth – and that leads to innovation,” Andrew Taylor, partner and manager director at Boston Consulting, said in an interview.

Canadian companies are notably absent from the top-50 list, after RIM tumbled out of the ranking. Innovation is a broader challenge in Canada; in its most-recent assessment, the Conference Board of Canada gave the country a “D” grade, saying Canada remains below average in its capacity to innovate. ….

Continue reading The 50 most innovative companies in the World: No Canadian companies on the list.

A Peaceful Islamic Revolution in Pakistan?

By: Malik Siraj Akbar, Editor in Chief, ‘The Baloch Hal’

A Pakistani Muslim scholar with Canadian nationality has announced to transform Islamabad into “the world’s biggest Tahrir Square” on January 14th ahead of this year’s upcoming general elections. Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, a cogent public speaker, has made an abrupt but a robust comeback in Pakistan’s politics after spending nearly five years in Canada. Qadri, previously an unpopular politician but still a cleric with a large following of religious disciples, is asking for electoral reforms prior to the next polls.

There are two fundamental problems with Qadri’s demand.

First, he has given an absolutely unrealistic ultimatum of mere two weeks to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (P.P.P.) to carry out vague electoral reforms, for example to ensure the election of ‘honest people’ to the parliament. In order to conduct these reforms, Dr. Qadri, while citing the Article 254 of the Pakistani constitution, justifies the postponement of the general elections which are expected to take place in May. The mainstream political parties, such as the P.P.P. and the Pakistan Muslim League of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, want to go for elections without any interruptions soon after the completion of the current term of the parliament because they oppose any kind of derailment of the democratic process.

Second, Dr. Qadri is asking for representation for the powerful Pakistani military and the politically active judiciary in the interim government, a demand that clearly clashes with the very spirit of democracy.

Continue reading A Peaceful Islamic Revolution in Pakistan?

Canadian Senator Salma Ataullahjan on Pakistan, Pakhtunkhwa & Malala Yusufzai in the Globe & Mail

Malala Yousafzai drew a ‘red line’

BY: SALMA ATAULLAHJAN

I recently met the parents of Malala Yousafzai in Birmingham, England. Malala, who should be learning and laughing and doing what teenaged girls do, is instead lying in a British hospital, recovering after being shot and wounded in Pakistan by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education.

Malala and I are both Yousafzai Pakhtun women, from the same town and the same clan. We are a generation and two continents apart, but the 15-year-old girl’s courage, determination and maturity has triggered hope and inspiration in me at a time when I felt that all was waning in the land of our birth, Pakistan.

When I was 15 in the historic city of Peshawar, in the province of Pakhtunkhwa, my sisters and cousins could never have imagined a day when simply going to school would jeopardize our lives. We were brimming with confidence and optimism. Girls and young women were emerging to take positions of responsibility in government, social development and politics. Our colleges and universities were centres of learning and debate. I studied at a convent run by Irish nuns, and we spoke English and wore Western-style uniforms.

Continue reading Canadian Senator Salma Ataullahjan on Pakistan, Pakhtunkhwa & Malala Yusufzai in the Globe & Mail

Canadian Federal M.P. Kyle Seeback – Get Together with Sindhis

By: Aijaz Kolachi

Canadian Federal M.P. of the ruling party of Canada, Honourable Kyle Seeback, had a (lunch-gathering) at my residence, where EC and other well-wishers were present. The entire discussion was very through and useful and Mr. Kyle Seeback enjoyed to a great deal. The topics discussed were:

CIDA’s fundings for Sindh; National issues of Sindh; Human Rights.

Honourable M.P. assured us that, he will bring this to the notice of the Foreign Minister as well as, to the CIDA Minister. He also assured us that he will personally follow up with our requests and would try to get the information on the current CIDA Projects in Sindh etc.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, September 30, 2012

“Fear not, America, for there is no Muslim Tide”

Chris Selley: Don’t worry people, there is no Muslim Tide

Canadian journalist Doug Saunders’ new book, The Myth of the Muslim Tide (Knopf), promises and delivers an impartial examination of the notion that Muslim immigration urgently threatens Western civilization. Balanced as it is, though, it reads mostly as a thorough, fact-dense and convincing debunking of that notion. For those inclined to be reassured, it does so very efficiently.

Continue reading “Fear not, America, for there is no Muslim Tide”

Hell and al-Qaida descend on Syria

By: Tarek Fatah

Who would have thought a Canadian mother of two would leave her children behind and join the international jihad unfolding in Syria?

Meet Thwaiba Kanafani. She left the comforts of her apartment in downtown Toronto, soon to appear in a YouTube video dressed in camouflaged battle gear, holding an automatic assault rifle, to declare: “I came from Canada to answer the call of my homeland” as the men surrounding her chanted “Allah O Akbar.”

Kanafani is not alone. A Dutch journalist who was kidnapped by rebels inside Syria, along with his British colleague, reports some of his abductors had “Birmingham accents,” while others were from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Chechnya, with no Syrians present.

Reports of non-Syrian jihadis have been confirmed by correspondents of both the Guardian and the New York Times who say foreign fighters under the banner of al-Qaida’s black flags bearing the Islamic declaration of faith, “There is no god but God,” are taking a bigger role.

The jihadis are the best-funded and well-equipped of the groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime.

While the American-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) had its own share of U.S.-based Islamists pulling the strings, it is now clear these jihadis-in-suits will not be the ones determining the future of Syria when the doctor dictator is gone. Very soon, Damascus will get a taste of al-Qaida’s hatred of life and their yearning for death as they have demonstrated in the last couple of months.

In one attack by the al-Qaida fighters on the historic Damascus district of Zainabiya, the fighters made no effort to hide the al- Qaida flag. Some wore the black head bands while others wore the flags of Pakistan, Somalia, and other Muslim countries. They killed Shia residents and pilgrims as they tried to destroy the shrines of Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughter Hazrat Zainab and Ruqaiya. At least one Afghan family was slaughtered inside their home.

One al-Qaida commander inside Syria, Abu Khuder, had this to say about foreign jihadis: “In the beginning there were very few. Now, mashallah, there are immigrants joining us and bringing their experience … Men from Yemen, Saudi, Iraq and Jordan … (al-Qaida’s) goal is establishing an Islamic state and not a Syrian state.”

The role of America in Syria seems at best incompetent and disastrous.

However, evidence suggests there is a method in the madness of the Obama Administration. Instead of helping the democratic forces of Syria it has dilly-dallied on the sidelines until the Islamists managed to get an upper hand. The same cowardice was demonstrated when Iran’s democrats rose up in 2009.

One of the leaders of the Syrian al-Qaida is Abdelhakim Belhadj, a Libyan accomplice of Osama bin Laden who, according to former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, was suspected of complicity in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

Belhadj was arrested by the CIA, but then released under mysterious circumstances and returned to Libya where he facilitated the U.S.-NATO overthrowing of Col. Moammar Gahdafi.

Now the same Libyan ally of NATO has been parachuted inside Syria with the help of the Turkish government.

Reportedly, 15,000 Syrians have given their lives to fight a dictator, and Belhadj’s presence in the war-torn country could make it a hell on earth.

Courtesy: Toronto Sun

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/07/31/hell-and-al-qaida-descend-on-syria

Via – Twitter

Toronto Sun – Pakistani Consulate General official in Toronto recalled over sex assault allegation

Pakistani consular official recalled over sex assault allegation

By Maryam Shah, Toronto Sun

TORONTO – An official with the Consulate General of Pakistan in Toronto has been recalled following an inquiry into a sexual assault allegation.

The married father of two allegedly assaulted a female passport applicant inside the North York consulate in February.

Toronto Police were not called to investigate the matter. Consular officials conducted their own investigation which wrapped up late last month.

After collecting statements from both sides, the investigative committee declared the man was “totally unfit” for government service.

The committee “held the accused guilty of trying to use his position to coax the victim into a locked room with malicious intentions of molesting/physically assaulting her,” said a consular report obtained by the Toronto Sun.

The June 23 report shows that the allegation was reported on Feb. 12 by a “respected community member.” The consular official allegedly took the victim “into an isolated locked room.”

The victim is identified as a Pakistani-Canadian woman from Thorncliffe. The report states that the employee was in charge of MRP (machine-readable passport) processing.

The only people aware of the allegation were the accused, the victim, and committee members.

“Inquiry officers were told to type notes themselves to keep the inquiry confined within the four walls of the office,” reads the report, signed by acting consul general Imran Ali.

The document also states that the woman “did not go to Toronto law enforcement authorities on our assurances that we would hold an impartial inquiry and the culprit would be brought to justice.”

Sources confirmed no attempt was made to stop the woman from going to Toronto Police when the allegation first came to light.

The report also states that the RCMP was informed about the inquiry “to pre-empt embarrassment” if the victim later contacted the authorities. It later acknowledged the possible “negative consequences” if the victim contacted Canadian law enforcement or media.

Continue reading Toronto Sun – Pakistani Consulate General official in Toronto recalled over sex assault allegation

BlackBerry maker vows privacy safeguard amid probe

By AFP

OTTAWA — Research In Motion vowed Tuesday to defend the legal privacy rights of BlackBerry users after a judicial commission in Pakistan ordered copies of smartphone communications in a scandal probe.

The Canadian firm reacted to news that a Pakistani commission was seeking records for a probe into an unsigned memo purported to ask for Washington’s help to rein in Pakistan’s military.

The highly controversial memo was allegedly an attempt by a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari to enlist the US military’s help to head off a military coup in May in Pakistan. …..

Read more » http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iH0E_CyR0Lc1k_N63vVDrY0MThqg?docId=CNG.3ec81592b40bb5358c1575a97cd5b5ce.201