Slayings in Quebec mosque, words are weapons too

Ottawa demo against Islamophobia on Feb. 4. Photo by Dennis Gruending
Ottawa demo against Islamophobia on Feb. 4. Photo by Dennis Gruending

We are heartsick about the killing of six men and the injury of several others in a Quebec City mosque on Jan 29. Those who were shot and killed as they prayed were Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane and Azzedine Soufiane Aboubaker Thabti. A  27-year-old Laval University student, Andre Bissonnette, has been charged with six counts of murder and others of attempted murder. Continue reading Slayings in Quebec mosque, words are weapons too

Freeland, Trudeau are true believers, but free trade mantra blows up

Chrystia Freeland says free trade raises all boats, but does it really?
Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister. Creative Commons photo.

Canada’s new minister of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, was recruited into politics by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and is influential in his inner circle. They share a belief common amongst international bankers, industrialists and many politicians that free trade and globalization are automatically good for us and that it would be dangerous to tamper with them. Continue reading Freeland, Trudeau are true believers, but free trade mantra blows up

Rev. George Tomita, a wonderful man leaves us

Rev. George Tomita, a wonderful man dies
Rev. George and Amy Tomita

I attended a funeral in Ottawa on January 20 for Rev. George Tomita, a 95-year-old retired United Church minister. I met George and his gracious wife Amy more than 20 years ago when he officiated at the marriage of our next door neighbours. We kept in touch, if only occasionally. I posted a brief story about George in 2014. I am repeating it here.    Continue reading Rev. George Tomita, a wonderful man leaves us

CSIS spying on Canadians: needles and haystacks

The Liberal government promised to undo aspets of draconian anti-terror Bill C-51. We are still waiting.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Photo by Art Babych

In June 2015, the Conservative government passed the Anti-Terrorism Act, which is also known as Bill C-51. It gave sweeping new powers to Canada’s spy and security agencies. For example, the legislation broadened the definition of “security” in a way which could criminalize peaceful protests. It also permitted agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to disrupt events preemptively rather than being limited to monitoring them. Continue reading CSIS spying on Canadians: needles and haystacks

Year-ender in which a humble scribe admits mistakes

Scientist and evangelical Katharine Hayhoe talks effecrively to fellow Christians about climate change
Katharine Hayhoe, scientist and evangelical. Photo courtesy of Katharine Hayhoe.com

Jeffrey Simpson, the excellent but now retired columnist for The Globe and Mail would write at year’s end about what he got right — and where he had been wrong. I intend to try something similar with this blog posting. Continue reading Year-ender in which a humble scribe admits mistakes

Justin Trudeau “disengaged” on nuclear weapons file

Critics say Justin Trudeau is “disengaged” on the nuclear weapons file.
Justin Trudeau “disengaged” on nuclear weapons file. Art Babych photo.

At the United Nations in late October 123 countries voted in favour of a recommendation endorsing the launch of negotiations aimed at prohibiting nuclear weapons. Canada voted no. Douglas Roche, this country’s former Ambassador for Disarmament at the UN is clearly piqued. “The government turned its back on an important nuclear disarmament initiative,” he says, “and sided with the nuclear weapons states that want to keep and modernize their nuclear arsenals for the rest of the 21st century.”

Roche adds, “The blame for the Canadian diplomatic debacle belongs squarely on the desk of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose office won’t even answer letters or phone calls from high-ranking persons trying to alert him to the need for Canadian action.” Roche says that Trudeau seems “disengaged” on nuclear arms control and that his government has undermined the nuclear disarmament work championed by his father Pierre Trudeau.  Continue reading Justin Trudeau “disengaged” on nuclear weapons file

At Machzikei Hadas synagogue, a rally against hate

More than 600 gathered for a multi-faith solidarity event in Ottawa to combat racism and xenophobia
Line up at Machzikei Hadas synagogue for multi-faith solidarity event. Photo by Dennis Gruending

On Nov. 19, I was among 600 people crowded into Ottawa’s Machzikei Hadas synagogue for a multi-faith solidarity event. Earlier in the week, someone painted racist and Nazi graffiti on two Ottawa synagogues and a mosque, as well as a United Church whose minister is a person of colour and the residence of a Jewish woman, who teaches in her home. Even in blustery weather, there was a long line outside of the synagogue. But once inside, I felt nothing but warmth. Continue reading At Machzikei Hadas synagogue, a rally against hate

Dr. Doug Gruner, warm welcome is key to refugee integration

Dr. Doug Gruner says warm welcome is key to refugee integration
Dr. Doug Gruner, warm welcome is key to refugee integration

Dr. Doug Gruner says that a welcoming approach toward refugees is a key to their successful integration into Canadian life, and access to healthcare is vital to the process.

Gruner practices at the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre in Ottawa. He spoke recently to a class at the Ottawa School of Theology and Spirituality (OSTS). “Once we make a decision to accept refugees,” he said, “it is our responsibility to provide them with health care.” Continue reading Dr. Doug Gruner, warm welcome is key to refugee integration