Newsstand: April 28, 2014


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Newsstand: April 28, 2014

The Raptors clinched their first out-of-town playoff win since 2001 last night, to the delight of true fans and bandwagon-hoppers alike. “We the north,” as the two-week-old saying goes. The news today is not so happy, though: a Torontonian woman has accused two Parisian police officers of raping her in their headquarters; the Toronto Star delivers a blistering report on dangerous substances travelling through Toronto by rail; and immigration law leaves the definition of "terrorist" wide-open.

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A woman from Toronto has alleged that two off-duty Parisian police officers raped her. According to French media reports, the woman, unnamed due to privacy concerns, met the officers at a pub and went with them to their headquarters on Tuesday, April 22. Four officers were later taken into police custody; two are now the subject of a preliminary investigation, and were released on bail Saturday, while the other two were released without charge. The lawyer for one officer told The Canadian Press that while his client had sex with the woman, it was consensual—a troublingly common defence in rape cases. France’s interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said in a statement Sunday that there is a “disciplinary inquiry” underway within the force.

Following last summer’s horrific train derailment in Lac Megantic, which killed 47 people, there has been renewed public interest in the trains moving through cities potentially carrying dangerous substances. The rail industry and government officials both cite claims of security as a reason for not disclosing to the public what trains are carrying past them, but as the Toronto Star reports, it’s not difficult to find out. The Star watched Canadian Pacific’s rail line at Bartlett Ave. for 24 hours and found cars carrying methyl bromide, methanol, sulphuric acid, and crude oil, among others. Some of these are among the most dangerous substances for transport in the world; crude oil is what the Lac Megantic train was carrying. One particularly damning part of the Star’s article says: “In the U.S., railroads must use the ‘safest and most secure’ route to transport the most dangerous substances, though there is little transparency as to what routes are chosen or why. Canada has no such rules.”

“Terrorism” is an ill-defined concept for most people, but for the Canadian government it is especially so. The section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of 2001 that bans terrorists from moving to Canada leaves the definition open to absurdly general interpretation, and would—if applied literally and universally—ban members of the British, U.S., and even Canadian armies because they sought to overturn the Afghan Taliban government. Some people actually caught in the crosshairs of this law are guilty of nothing other than seeking to interview rebel factions for journalistic purposes or of sewing uniforms for armed rebels. While the law is nothing new, the Conservative government has overseen a dramatic but quiet shift in immigration practices in recent years, from increased exploitation of temporary foreign workers to a dramatic uptick in “security-related removals” stemming from this section of the IRPA. Seven people annually have on average been removed from Canada due to this section of the law in the last three years; for the nine years before that, the annual average was 1.8.