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Harper's big show in Israel silent on human rights

Photo: flickr/Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας

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There was considerable fanfare and red carpet during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to Israel this week.

After nearly eight years in office, the prime minister visited the country with which he has forged closer links than almost any other. The spectacle was breathtaking, with a delegation of over 200 people, including six cabinet ministers and other government MPs. With that sort of political heft, the opportunity to press important issues was considerable.  

How disappointing, though not surprising, that Israel’s numerous human rights shortcomings did not make that list.

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Disrupt Harper's austerity and save Canada Post

Photo: flickr/Melody Ayres-Griffiths

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Mass protests grow as military elite take Egypt back to dictatorship

Photo: flickr/Ted Eytan

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The military-dominated regime that seized power in Egypt in July 2013 has escalated its attacks on freedom and democracy in the country. A series of pronouncements were issued in late December, including the banning of the country's largest political movement -- the Muslim Brotherhood. By all evidence, Egypt's economic and military elite are taking the country back to the darkest days of the rule of former dictator Hosni Mubarak or even farther into the abyss.

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Dramatic changes to sponsorship of parents and grandparents for Canadian citizenship

Photo: flickr/Jeff Nelson

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On November 5, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) imposed a two year moratorium on new applications to sponsor parents or grandparents. A new option was provided where parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents could apply for the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa in order to visit Canada. This procedure would allow parents and grandparents to visit Canada for up to two years and the visa would be valid for ten years.

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'I'm no Arthur Porter': The four defences of Chuck Strahl

Photo: flickr/Chris Yakimov

Canada's top spy watchdog is trying to ride out a controversy over lobbying for Enbridge (and at least one other company that's partnered with a Chinese-controlled firm to develop the tar sands in Alberta).

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Indigenous peoples have the law, but government has the power

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After facing months of protest led by the Mi'kmaq people of the Elsipogtog Nation in New Brunswick, the frackers of Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co. (SWN) have left the province and announced they won't be back before 2015.

SWN said its teams had finished seismic testing and provided no timeline for when -- and if -- it would return to begin fracking for natural gas. The demonstrators who took a stand against fracking are glad to see SWN leave -- and will now prepare to protest if it decides to return.

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First Nations resist fuel and mining developments to protect us all

Image: Holdthewall.ca

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Last June, I spent three days in a Vancouver courtroom watching the Hupacasath First Nation argue their case against the federal government. The Hupacasath came robed, just like the judges and the lawyers. They weren’t wigged-out like the Department of Justice benchmen. They wore cedar woven headbands and hummingbird embroidered regalia (and underneath, comfortable blue jeans).

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Harper government plans to make it harder to become a Canadian citizen

Photo: flickr/meddygarnet

Since the Harper Conservatives have come to power one of the areas which has attracted much of their legislative attention is the Citizenship and Immigration file. In an interview, which has attracted almost no national media attention at time of writing, published in the conservative National Post on December 27, 2013 the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander, discussed dramatic changes to Canada’s Citizenship laws which were being considered by the Conservative Government.

In what has been described as the "first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation," the controversial bill is expected to be introduced in the House of Commons sometime in 2014.

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Blackface and Christmas: Black activism challenges racist tradition in the Netherlands

Photo: WNV/Bryan van Hulst

Friday December 6 marked the closure of the annual celebration of Sinterklaas, the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus. Traditionally, the children’s festivity is an occasion for family fun and pleasure that unites a nation, but this year it has become a highly charged political battleground that is exposing a society increasingly more conservative and hostile towards people of color, while unleashing an unprecedented anti-racism movement that is empowering minorities and posing fundamental challenges to the Dutch establishment.

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Who's rogue now? Canada's response to the Iran nuclear deal

Photo: flickr/Andrew Rusk

It was good enough for Obama. It was good enough for Russia, China, the U.K. and Germany. It was good enough for the European Union. In the end, it was even good enough for France. But the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 was not good enough for Canada.

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