The Xinjiang Genocide Question
It’s Jeremy (@JeremyAppel1025) back with your daily roundup of the news. Hope everyone is doing a-OK. I would say I am OK, but not quite a-OK.
Anyways, today we’ve got stories on: parliament voting to accuse China of committing genocide; a virtual passport app privacy experts are waving red flags about; a Canada Post facility in Mississauga home to more than 300 COVID-19 cases getting skipped by provincial inspectors; the shady construction firms the federal Liberals have contracted First Nations infrastructure projects to.
Canada Votes To Accuse China Of Genocide In Xinjiang
Parliament voted unanimously yesterday to categorize China’s treatment of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province as genocide, in a move that will certainly not improve Canadian-Chinese relations.
Interestingly, the Liberal cabinet didn’t show up for the vote on the non-binding motion, with the exception of Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, who abstained “on behalf of the Government of Canada.” All the Liberal backbenchers in attendance voted in favour of the non-binding motion put forward by the Conservatives.
From the Guardian: By calling the actions in China a genocide, Canada joins the United States, which made the determination shortly before Donald Trump left office. A similar attempt on a vote in the UK failed earlier this month. But the move by the Canadian parliament is likely to bring a host of new political challenges for the prime minister, who has tried in recent years to strike a balance between pushing back against China’s hostilities and maintaining cordial relations with Beijing.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously cautioned against bringing the motion to the floor, arguing that “genocide” is an “extremely loaded” term that shouldn’t be used until there’s sufficient evidence. When the man’s right, he’s right.
Unsurprisingly, China’s ambassador to Canada accused parliament of “interfering in our domestic affairs” and suggested Canada improve conditions for Indigenous peoples before pointing its finger elsewhere.
- IBM Canada has been given a $1.5-million contract from the Canadian government to develop an app that will allow Canadians to apply for their passports digitally, which privacy experts caution is a perfect storm for identity theft.
- Sébastien Gambs, a professor in the information technology department of l’Université de Québec à Montréal, says he’s concerned with where the data will be stored. The tender lists Amazon Web Services as the host.
- Gambs says that depending on a U.S.-based company means the stored data could be transferred out of Canada, as per the U.S. CLOUD Act.
- According to l’Université de Montréal criminologist Benoît Dupont, the app will likely be the target of fraudsters looking to get ahold of highly-valued Canadian passports, which could be “very attractive for organized crime groups who specialize in human trafficking.”
- The Professional Institute of the Public Services (PIPSC) says the tender shouldn’t have gone to a private company, let alone an international one, because it could have been developed domestically by public servants, as was the case for Canada’s online tax portal.
- “It’s a vicious cycle. Instead of developing resources internally, we go externally,” said PIPSC Vice-President Stéphane Aubry. “Then we don’t have the needed expertise internally, which unfortunately, over the years, fades and makes it so we need to contract out.”
- Provincial inspectors skipped over Canada Post’s Gateway facility in Mississauga, where there has been an outbreak of more than 300 COVID-19 cases and one death, because it’s a federal facility.
- Canadian Union of Postal Workers President Jan Simpson says there must be consistent procedures for all workplaces, regardless of jurisdiction.
- “The virus doesn’t distinguish between provincial and federal workplaces and neither should inspections […] Workplaces and workers in the Peel Region have been hit hard by COVID-19. It’s in everyone’s best interest that all workplaces be inspected to ensure the health and safety of workers,” said Simpson.
- Not even two weeks ago, Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced an inspection blitz for warehouses in the hard-hit Peel Region, which includes Mississauga. Inspectors said the compliance rate was 64 per cent, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the midst of a global public health crisis.
- The feds say they “engaged” with the Gateway facility “several” times over the past year, but didn’t specify how many visits there were, when each occurred and whether there were any enforcement measures.
ICYMI: Concerns Raised Over Construction Firms Hired For Indigenous Infrastructure Projects, Including Racism
Federal policies for infrastructure projects in Indigenous communities have come under parliamentary scrutiny after an investigation from APTN, Global News and the Institute for Investigative Journalism (IIJ) revealed the government was forcing First Nations to work with the lowest bidder in order to qualify for funding.
NDP MP Charlie Angus went after Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller for his inaction on the file.
“The minister’s insistence on the lowest bid, has resulted in cost overruns, corners being cut, and the ongoing denial of safe service,” Angus said, adding, “Why is he continuing to perpetuate this policy of incompetence, negligence and the basic denial of human rights to First Nations people across this country?”
Miller appeared unaware of this policy, insisting that the contractors are selected by the First Nations themselves, which runs contrary to the findings of APTN, Global and IIJ.
The investigation looked at complaints regarding excessive overcharges, deficient works, delays and racism from Kingdom Construction Ltd. (KCL), which was initially contracted to upgrade the water treatment plant at Neskantaga First Nation in order to end their long-term boil water advisory.
KCL President Gerald Landry denies that the company’s work was subpar and said he wasn’t aware of any racism allegations. In a previous interview with APTN, he said he would no longer work with First Nations, who he said were being given “free money” to fix their water issues, for which he apologized.
In November, Indigenous Services Canada said they would hire a third party to investigate the activities of water and construction companies in Neskantaga, but there’s no indication of when that might occur.
That’s a wrap on your February 23 Passage Daily. I’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow afternoon for more news and analysis.
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