One of the most infuriating things about many politicians and governments during this pandemic is their perceived need to defend indefensible positions right up until the inevitable moment they change their minds. Classic example: In question period on Friday, just a couple of hours before the Liberal government barred foreign nationals who have visited any of seven southern African nations within the past two weeks, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra wasn’t just rebuffing Conservative demands that such restrictions be implemented. He was also trying to score partisan points off the very suggestion. “Forgive me for not taking advice from the Conservative Party that (sic) they can’t even ask their own MPs to get vaccinated,” he sneered. He alleged the Conservatives had also asked for the PCR test requirement before entering Canada to be scrapped, and waxed incredulous. “Do they want to open the border or do they want to close the border?” The Conservatives had indeed called for an end to the PCR-test requirement, albeit only at land border crossings. But it was the Liberals who actually ended it, albeit only for Canadians who have been away for less than 72 hours. It was also the Liberals who eliminated mandatory on-arrival testing, which Ontario Premier Doug Ford, among others, is now demanding be reimplemented.
Politics & Economics
Isfahan, Iran’s third-largest city, has been the site of protests over water shortages in recent weeks, with hundreds of protestors on the streets. Security forces for the Islamic Republic of Iran targeted farmers with gunfire and tear gas in the central city of Isfahan on Thursday and Friday, due to ongoing peaceful protests in the region. The protest held was against water shortages and at times the legitimacy of the theocratic state. Photographs on Twitter appear to show the murders of at least two Iranians. “Horrific images of my compatriots in the Iranian city of Isfahan being slaughtered by ruthless Ayatollah regime’s thugs & security apparatus for peacefully protesting against the regime! This older woman was shot in cold blood on the streets. Are you seeing this @StateDept ?,” tweeted Karmel Melamed, an Iranian-American journalist. “It wasn’t hooligans or thugs who shot at me. It was the security forces,” said a bloodied farmer in video footage posted by the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad. She tweeted, “For years the Islamic Republic blamed hooligans for attacks on people. He is one of the many eyewitnesses who say the security forces are behind the attacks. We need international media.”
The Hungarian government is convinced that nuclear power is the path to a green future. A new Russian reactor block is to be constructed that allegely guarantees low emissions and low energy prices. While Germany is phasing out nuclear power and many EU states don’t have any atomic plants at all, others are expanding their nuclear programs as part of the fight against climate change. These states argue that atomic energy is low in CO2 emissions and allows them to produce cheap electricity and be more energy-independent. But can nuclear power really lead the way out of the climate crisis? The Hungarian government says it can — and is far from being alone. In mid-October, 10 EU states, including Finland, the Czech Republic and Poland, issued a statement that declared: “To win the climate battle, we need nuclear energy.” France, a long-time enthusiastic advocate of nuclear energy, took the lead in formulating this statement. Currently, Paris is investing in new types of domestically developed reactors. Meanwhile, Budapest is planning to expand its Russian-type nuclear plant. It is located near the small town of Paks on the banks of the Danube, less than a two-hour drive south of the Hungarian capital.
When Russia wanted the US to sit up and take notice last April it sent tanks towards the Ukrainian border. The show of force worked: President Joe Biden called Russia’s Vladimir Putin and in June the two men met in Geneva. But whatever they agreed about Ukraine at their summit, something has since gone awry. In recent weeks, Russian tanks have been moving west towards Ukraine once again, prompting fresh, even starker warnings from US intelligence circles that a cross-border offensive could be on the cards. Moscow insists that’s “anti-Russian” hysteria, and most analysts agree there’s no rationale for Russia openly entering — and massively escalating — the conflict in Ukraine, where it backs separatist forces but always denies a direct role. Instead, they see the Kremlin sending a message that it’s ready to defend its “red lines” on Ukraine: above all, that it must not join Nato. “I think for Putin it’s really important. He thinks the West has begun giving Ukraine’s elite hope about joining Nato,” political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya at R.Politik told the BBC.
Supporters in London gathered to show solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people on Friday night, who are fighting a natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia. The rally, titled Allies in Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, happened at 6 p.m. across from the Aeolian Hall where Indigenous singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie was scheduled to play later that night. Around 40 people came out to show their support and listen to two Mohawk activists who had recently travelled out to the Gidimt’en checkpoint in northern B.C. to stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en. The two were among those arrested at the most recent blockade that was taken down by RCMP. “I have seen river poisoned, I have seen a river contaminated beyond repair, so when I saw this pristine, untouched, alive water source I know we had to do something to protect it,” said Mohawk activist Layla Staats. Staats said she has been working on a documentary about water and boiled water advisories on reserves, which is what prompted her to want to go out to the camp with fellow members of her community. “This is not just about their river, this is not just this fight, this is not just them alone, and we are all standing together to say this is not right, to say there is no consent, and when we say no it needs to be heard.”
Gas prices are expected to drop by at least 10 cents per litre in most of Canada this weekend after the price of oil plunged Friday, one analyst says. Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, said prices will drop by either 10 or 11 cents by Sunday depending on a province’s tax system. “This is right across the country, with the exception of the Maritime provinces — Atlantic Canada — which have a regulated system, so they may have to wait unfortunately until next week,” he told Global News. McTeague said provinces with an HST system will see a net drop of 11 cents per litre at the pumps come Sunday. He said Quebec will also see a 11-cent drop. Provinces with GST will see a drop of 10 cents per litre, he said. “What we saw today was panic on the world markets as a result of the COVID variant coming out of South Africa,” McTeague said. Energy stocks took a beating Friday as the price of oil fell more than 13 per cent. But McTeague says he doesn’t expect the drop in gas prices to last. “There is a strong sense, and I would agree with that, that it’s overdone and when U.S. American energy traders get back to work Monday morning after their long weekend, we may very well see the prices move back up as early as Wednesday,” he said.