Updates: Abousfian Abdelrazik, CUPE vs. Israel, and Wildfires Down Under
I happened to be in a self-critical mood the other day, and it occurred to me that I haven’t been very good at follow-up in my Canada’s World blogging. I’ve tended to write about events in progress, give my opinion, and then move on without ever going back to look at further developments. Accordingly, I thought I’d devote this post to quick updates on three of the things I’ve written about over the past few months.
1. Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Sudanese-born Canadian citizen who ended up stranded in his native country after being temporarily detained there as a terror suspect, is still stranded. When I wrote about his situation last September, the Harper government seemed determined to put as many obstacles as possible in the way of his return to Canada. Now they’ve added another condition – they’ve decided that they won’t take the fairly normal consular step of giving him emergency travel documents unless he can present a fully paid airline ticket beforehand. The clever part is that he can’t afford a ticket, and anyone who gives him money for one could get into trouble for aiding a suspected terrorist! In my humble opinion the government’s treatment of Abdelrazik is getting ridiculous. I can sympathise with the general objective of keeping suspected Islamic extremists out of Canada, but the underhanded tactics being employed in this case are disgraceful.
2. During the latest round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, CUPE Ontario threatened to call for an academic boycott of Israel after the bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza. Union leader Sid Ryan originally wanted all Israeli academics effectively barred from Ontario campuses unless they had explicitly condemned their country’s assault on Gaza. Last weekend a “committee of CUPE university workers” voted on the matter, and passed a kinder, gentler resolution that merely encourages a boycott of Israeli universities, not individual academics, whose research contributes to weapons programmes. Even this strikes me as a nasty and unwarranted gesture towards a country that is merely fighting its own corner, and it’s hard to see how territorial squabbles in the Middle East are any of CUPE’s business anyway.
3. Finally, the wildfires in the Australian state of Victoria are still blazing, and the death toll is now over 200. Predictably, the role of global warming in causing the fires has emerged as a point of debate, with an article in the Financial Post predictably (and implausibly, of course) downplaying any possible link. As I said in my original post, it may be impossible to blame any individual heat wave or outbreak of fire on global warming, but the phenomenon definitely makes such catastrophes more likely. Arwen Birch, an Australian living in Toronto, has written a firsthand account of how the Australian climate has become hotter and drier, and therefore deadlier, over his lifetime. Every Canadian ought to read it.