Corriere Canadese

Omar Khadr
Khadr gets $10 million, Italian-Canadians still ignored
Article written by: Adelina Pecchia
 
MARATHON - In the last few years many cultural groups have fought to reclaim their rights and have asked the government to apologize and acknowledge wrongdoing and injustices done to Canadians.
 
This simmering anger has boiled to the surface over the recent $10.5 million awarded to Omar Khadr who sued the Canadian government claiming his rights as a Canadian were violated when he was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay at age 16 and held for 10 years.
 
This award is an act of travesty when so many other Canadians have been violated and are awaiting justice, including my ancestors. Their rights were violated when the Italian-Canadian internment began on June 10, 1940.
 
Thousands of Italian Canadians were labelled “enemy aliens.” Subject to discrimination, imprisonment, silenced and not allowed to speak the language, Italians were not allowed to gather in groups larger than five people!
 
Italian seafarers, not part of any war effort, in Canadian waters at the time were also interned. Italy, according to my many uncles and relatives who were conscripted to fight - unwillingly - entered into the Second World War.
Canadian Italians 16 years and older and Canadians who became British subjects after 1929 were forced to register with the RCMP and report monthly.
 
Lists were drawn and police were allowed to accuse Italians of being members of fascist groups, though most did not have political ties. Those with political ties were accused of engaging in illegal activities.
 
Land owned by Italians was considered Enemy Alien Property and sold to the RCMP.
 
Italian consul staff were expelled from Canada. Canadian-born sons of Italians were fighting overseas with their homeland army while their relatives were subject to imprisonment, internment and confiscation of land and rights.
 
In order to survive, activities by Canadian Italians took place in the name of anti-fascism to appease suspicions. Others “turned in” their own country people for payment and promises of freedom.
 
Mussolini may have put in place an anti-Semitic policy but need I remind Canada that our Canadian government turned away the St. Louis carrying almost 1,000 Jewish refugees when it was days away from Halifax. Where is the apology by the Canadian government on this travesty?
 
Granted, Canada opened its doors and many of us came to this country via Pier 21 in Halifax after the war. For this we are grateful but this does not bring restitution to that which was done in the name of war efforts.
 
The international community has hunted down Nazi war criminals. Why haven’t we turned the books on those who have hunted down Italians and profited from selling their lands?
 
Canadian Italians have not received recompense or restitution for the losses and tragedies they encountered from internment and a formal apology has never been given by the Canadian government.
 
This hysterical turn of events in Canada is rarely talked about. Why? Because we are Italian.
 
When I was a child I experienced discrimination and hostility because of my name and heritage in Fort William even decades after the war. Nazi sympathizers were also hostile to Italians. One of my school teachers divided her class by eye colour and skin colour. Questioning her beliefs got me into her bad books.
 
In 1990 prime minister Brian Mulroney offered an apology to Italians but an official apology from the House of Commons has never been given. In 2008 the Conservatives set aside $5 million to deal with “the Italian question” but still no apology.
 
Canada Post went so far as to reject a stamp commemorating the internment of Italian Canadians and minister of citizenship and immigration Jason Kenney rejected a heritage bill in 2009.
 
The only memoir recognizing the internment of Italians in Canada is an exhibition of polished steel statutes in Toronto funded by our own processes. Perhaps this signifies our steely perseverance and shining resilience but we still await a formal apology and restitution to the injustices done.
 
Meanwhile, the government once again has been selective on whom to apologize to and where to hand out hard earned tax money, including from thousands of hard working Italians who have remained in this country, in spite of the past.
 
All of us were created to offer real and adequate protection for families and persons, preserve identity, to defend property and land, prevent exclusion, welcome the excluded and the poor, and thus to reveal the face of the Creator for and with all peoples.
 
Let’s start by asking our leaders to apologize for past and present oppressions and then move forward with where restitution is due. This means not by recompensing one Canadian and ignoring the other.
 
Adelina Pechhia is a religious minister
who lives in Marathon, Northern Ontaro
 Il ministro Laura Albanese
 
Vaughan – 200 employers and some of their unionized employees packed a hall at Carpenters Local 27 to hear how Provincial Minister for Immigration, Laura Albanese, proposed to resolve the Construction Industry’s labour shortage in Ontario. 
They also wanted to learn how Ontario’s recent announcements on its Immigration Plan would overcome the Federal Government’s insensitive and cloistered approach to the needs of Ontario’s human resources needs.
Minister Albanese came to announce that Ontario’s Provincial Nominee Program (OINP) had been increased to accommodate 6,000 applicants. 500 of those positions had been reserved for Agricultural and Skilled/Semi-skilled Workers in the Construction industry.
These [are] to be filled via a pilot program under the Employer Job Offer Stream (EJOS) – a worthwhile effort. A further 2,500 are available under an “expedited” Express Entry stream that has do date been of little practice use to the Construction Industry and others. 
The audience was patient and polite as two Provincial officials, Ministerial staff and Union officials elaborated how the program would work and how they proposed to help applicants achieve success. It helped that MP Francesco Sorbara was also in attendance to listen and to express support.
The presentation is best described as a delicate balance between deference and defiance. Employers could only hold back for so long. They viewed the announcement as “very little and very tentative”. The composure and “courage” exhibited by the bureaucrats earned the respect of the audience, but, in the end they were talking about how “their process would be more efficient”, while those present wanted to address the two big elephants in the room: recruitment of available labour and the “regularization” of the ones they had. 
The federal government’s insistence on the strict language requirements are a huge stumbling block for potential immigrants from Mediterranean Europe and the southern half of the Western Hemisphere – two areas that provide the traditional skilled labour for the industry.  Nothing in the Provincial plan changes that.
Speaker after speaker stressed that they had trouble keeping the workers they had (at competitive rates as dictated by collective agreements) because these had to stay one step ahead of Immigration Enforcement agents to stay in the country and on the job. 
While appreciative of the streamlined process, Dan Montesano of Lido Construction asked from where he would recruit new applicants. “We have had to ask formerly retired staff to come back to work; 8 of our staff are between the age of 70 and 73. But Service Canada says there are unemployed Carpenters and construction workers in Canada. They can’t find them for my company”. 
“Exactly”, responded another, “What do we do with the [thousands] of illegals/undocumented among our employees? Everyone knows they exist; the industry would collapse without them”.
 “This system is set up to fail”, expressed another, “we cannot afford to place our staff at risk of removal by coming forward as applicants”. Even when employers try to help their workers here on legitimate Work Visas, Service Canada manages to jeopardize a healthy working relationship that allows employers to bid on contracts. In one case, an employer who submitted 15 applications for renewal was told he would only get 10 and he should make do with 5 less – in mid-contract.
“Ottawa just doesn’t know how to deal with the thousands of ’Ghost Workers’ who have become the backbone of Ontario’s economy – in construction, restaurant or trucking industry”, chimed in yet another employer. “Let us go out and recruit our own” pleaded yet another.
This was a friendly crowd. The Union local has been, and is, supportive of all Provincial and Federal initiatives to find [incremental but] long-term solutions to the labour stresses in Ontario’s construction sector.
Tony Iannuzzi, Ontario President of the Carpenter’s Union said, “we need governments to hear and listen – our employers could hire and place 20, 000 new workers tomorrow – but no one is paying attention”.
Maybe they will after this meeting. The two Immigration Officials both said they learned a lot. Ferd Longo, Minister Albanese’s Chief of Staff, promised that the Ontario Cabinet is fully behind the Minister’s initiative and that she has a mandate to push Ottawa hard to make it more sensitive to Ontario’s needs.
Maybe their federal cousins will understand the political importance of listening. Former Ministers Alexander and Kenney didn’t and look at what happened to them, mused a participant on the way out.
 
 
 
TORONTO - The evening turned up more than what the organizers of the “town hall’ meeting about the Casa Italia might have had in mind. Consul General Giuseppe Pastorelli, flanked by Canadian Business and Professional Association (CIBPA) president, Ed Buriello, Ret. Justice Frank Iacobucci, and Sam Ciccolini met with a few representatives from the Italian community at the Western Point Club, Tuesday, July 11, to seek input in “potential plans” for the current home of the Italian Consulate in Toronto.
Nineteen other people were also in attendance. There was no definitive “plan” or “project” offered for discussion or consideration. One point of affirmation expressed without any equivocation was that the State of Italy seems to be the singular owner on title for 183 Beverly St.
Consul General Pastorelli outlined 3 principles guiding the deliberations of the Advisory Committee of “leaders in the community” selected for the purposes of providing guidance through the consultation and development process. These include the above and Pal Di Iulio, Con Di Nino and Julie Di Lorenzo.
Briefly those principles are as follows: (1) preserve the historical value of Chudleigh House, (2) give honour to maintain alive the “vision” of the three men who “re-acquired” the property from the Canadian government in 1955, (3) contemplate ways in which to bring enduring benefit [to the community].
The presentation and the responses appeared intended to convince the audience that NOTHING had been decided and that what everyone had before them was a tabula rasa onto which they could inscribe their own vision.
They were not entirely successful in their efforts.
Frank Misuraca deplored the sparsity of the crowd and the lack of documentation attesting to the Government’s right to sell the property to the CIBPA. A lady identifying herself as Renata asked for the Consulate’s plan to which the public might respond. Giuseppe Cafiso asked what was the plan that the CIBPA hoped the public might amplify. 
He made several suggestions as to what might be of “benefit” to the Community. Mr. Buriello admitted to not knowing “what benefit is”. Daniela Di Marco wanted to know how any development would be financed and if there were any private investors interested in developing the site as part of their philanthropic activities.
This was echoes by Fulvio Florio. Both Ed Buriello and Sam Ciccolini affirmed that there we none. Dan Montesano queried about where the profits from the sale of improvements to the asset would go. Again, the latter two individuals indicated that they had either not thought of it or had not yet gone that far in the process. In other words, they didn’t know.
It was not that reassuring. Renata (?) again said that the public did not want that the same thing happen to Casa Italia that was happening at Columbus Centre: “in the end we have nothing”. Pal Di Iulio, who used to be the CEO at the Columbus Centre, pointed out that any plans to develop a vision required the “right financial model” to pay for everything.
The market demands that you develop the land according to the highest and best use. A point reinforced by Sam Ciccolini who closed with the supporting observation that one needs to look for avenues that maximize the value of the asset.
There is another meeting scheduled for September, before a decision is made.
 

Omar Khadr: Blood lust up against the rule of law

Odoardo Di Santo
 
TORONTO - Last Friday, the Government of Canada offered up its official apologies to Omar Khadr for the conduct of Canadian Security agencies in his regard as he suffered abuses at the hands of American military, and others, while detained, as a minor, in an American detention camp at Guantanamo in Cuba.
The Government agreed to pay out $10.5 million in compensation, thus ending the on-going legal proceedings in the Courts. Khadr had asked for $20 million in damages. The payout set off a firestorm of reactions that reveals the soft underbelly of our Canadian psyche that should give us all cause for reflection and concern.
The Canadian government has only now admitted that it had no choice. Canadian Courts had repeatedly decided against the Government’s obdurate and obstinate contrary position in respect of Khadr’s legal standing.
In 2007, the Federal Court ruled that the Government of Canada was in violation of International Law (to which it is a signatory). In May of 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the Government had violated Khadr’s rights under Article 7 of the Charter. In April of 2009, the Federal Court determine that his rights had been violated [thanks in part to the negligence of the government]. 
Finally, in January of 2010, the Supreme Court issued a more complete clarification indicating that Canadian Secret Service Agents (CSIS) had been in violation of the most fundamental principles governing procedures of interrogation guiding questioning of minors; pointing accusatory fingers at those agents for active participation in abusive interrogation techniques (torture) committed against the internees of the (American) military prison in Guantanamo.
Ralph Goodale, Minister for Public Security, clarified that the Supreme Court had ruled beyond doubt that the conduct of Canadian officials was wrong. 
Even the Minister of Justice, Wilson-Raybould, admitted that the Charter Rights of a Canadian citizen had been [wilfully] violated, therefore he was due compensation.
An important consideration entered into the mix was the fact that Khadr was deprived of sleep for three weeks and compelled to switch from cell to cell every three hours in order to induce more malleable responses.
The ensuing public debate has revolved around two “life issues”.  For those on the “Right” of the socio-political spectrum the Law must protect “the Good” and punish “the Evil”.
 It’s a point of view that is unfortunately, perhaps, compromised by the actions of no less an authority figure than the President of the USA. Donald Trump “suggested” to the then head of the FBI, James Comey, that he should go easy on his investigation of Michael Flynn in the infamous Russiagate, because the latter was a “good man”.
The other point of view maintains that the Law defines rights and duties for all citizens, and that all citizens be treated equally. In Canada, this latter, fundamental, principle is embedded in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The “solution” to the Khadr affair has unleashed a torrent of visceral reactions for its $10.5 million figure, but, nothing for the issue of unalienable citizen rights and obligations.
The [Conservative] Leader of the Official Opposition, Andrew Sheer, in a contorted response maintains that it is wrong to compensate a convicted terrorist; that it is an offense to an entire country [Canada] against whose principles Khadr was fighting. 
Same sentiments express by his colleague and former Cabinet Minister Tony Clement whose financial largesse with public funds on the occasion of an event marking the G20 in his riding has now achieved epic notoriety.
Not even the former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who authorized the spending of millions of dollars in legal fees to contest Khadr in Court, could resist wading in with a contrary view.
In 2002, in the company of his father, Omar was a part of a firefight in Afghanistan that saw the death of several “insurgents”, including  the senior Khadr. 
Omar was captured and shortly after was transferred to Guantanamo as the youngest ever detainee, charged with having launched the grenade that killed the American sergeant Christopher Scher.
Omar was the youngest prisoner, since World War II, ever charged with having committed War Crimes as a minor. The action was condemned by the United Nations. And by organizations advocating Human Rights everywhere.
Under arguably onerous, even indescribably cruel, circumstances, he agreed to a confession that would allow him to serve out his sentence in Canada. 
He was then released in 2015, even as his Appeal of his conviction was under consideration, and, as the Alberta Court of Appeal rejected a manoeuvre by the Government of Stephen Harper to prevent his release.
Many Canadians think its time to recognize that Khadr has paid sufficiently, suffered unjustly and is continuing to meet obstacles to his re-integration. Perhaps it’s time Canadians showed a little of the compassion for which they are noted. 

 

 

Khadr: Vigilantes still want his head

 
TORONTO - In so many ways, Canada is a wonderful country. There is no need to “count the ways”, as Elizabeth Browning might have done with much greater style than I could offer.
 
Yet, as with all things we cherish, we need to nurture what we purpose to leave as legacy. Novelist Aldous Huxley said it best: “Eternal vigilance is not only the price of liberty; eternal vigilance is the price of human decency.”
The debate in Italy about citizenship - what it means, who can acquire it and how to keep it - is mirrored in Canada. The discussion is not always flattering, neither here, nor there. It is about “membership in a club” and about “human decency”.
 
In the last parliament, the Canadian government of the day- Conservative - passed legislation (Bill C-24) authorizing the revocation of citizenship subsequent to conviction for treason, espionage or terrorism.
 
In addition, it established more stringent norms as pre-requisites for obtaining (and keeping) citizenship, some of which provisions were only recently revoked by the current government – Liberal - in Bill C-6.
 
Sometimes, a climate of fear, real or contrived, prompts governments to do stupid things that go counter to the concept of liberty, democracy and human decency.
 
Canada’s governments have enacted War Measures Act(s) to deprive Canadians of fundamental rights, ones we now refer to as Human Rights. Targets have been characterized as “fascists”, “enemy aliens”, “communists”, “separatists” (do people remember the Front de Liberation du Quebec – FLQ?), “criminals”, “radical Muslims” … whatever/whoever fits the flavour of the day… Omar Khadar.
 
So, Omar’s lawyers have succeeded in raising the issue of Government responsibility – contractual duty - towards its citizens. Negotiators, operating under the auspices of the Courts in Ontario, found that the Federal Government’s dereliction of duty would result in relief, compensation, to Omar.
 
He had been abandoned by the Canadian government of the day to “rot” in an American jail (Guantanamo Bay), operating outside American borders and, therefore, not subject to the Constitutional protections afforded to even the most heinous of serial killers.
 
He was 15 years old when first jailed. In Canada, he would have been given the legal safeguards available to all minors, whether deserving or not. A Court would have determined the appropriateness of charges, guilt, and the extent of the retribution and/or rehabilitation.
 
It is what we take for granted in a civilized, democratic society where the “rule of law” prevails. That is not necessarily or always the case in a military court, where the ethos can be different. That is in part why the USA maintained detention centres like Guantanamo.
 
Individually, we may all experience primal desires to exact our “pound of flesh”. There is no shortage of “talk show” host and listeners prepared to “serve heads on a platter” who feed that instinctive urge.
 
But we aim to be a civilized society that tends to nurture human decency.
 
I don’t know if Citizen Omar was guilty of all that his detractors allege. Somehow, I doubt that at age 15 he was the mastermind behind efforts to thwart the Coalition of the Willing’s multi-trillion dollar adventure in Afghanistan.