‘Bomb Train’: Oil Execs Try to Blame Workers for Tragic Accident

In 2013, a deadly oil train explosion in the small town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec rocked the nation. Despite abundant evidence that the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Company had placed profits ahead of safety, Quebec and federal prosecutors went after the workers rather than the executives.

Days ago, three of those workers were acquitted of charges brought provincially, but they still face federal charges.

For The Real News, I speak with Fritz Elder, a veteran train wreck investigator and Chairperson of the Defence Committee of two of the charged workers, about the prosecutors’ failed case and the true causes of this disaster.


Falsely Accused Terrorism Suspect Released After 10-Year Ordeal

Dr. Hassan Diab is a Canadian sociology professor. His academic career was interrupted about a decade ago when he was falsely accused of an attack near a synagogue in Paris, France in 1980. In 2008, France requested Dr. Diab’s extradition from Canada. Canadian authorities then imprisoned him, subject to Draconian bale conditions, for six years.

Dr. Diab was extradited to France in 2014. His extradition occurred at the hands of a Canadian judge, Robert Maranger, who described the evidence against Dr. Diab as “illogical,” “very problematic,” and “convoluted and confusing with conclusions that are suspect.” The judge concluded that the prospects for conviction seemed unlikely, but that his hands were tied by Canada’s extradition law. He therefore committed Dr. Diab to extradition.

Under Canada’s extradition law, Canada’s Justice Minister nonetheless had discretion not to surrender Dr. Diab to French authorities. That minister was conservative Rob Nicholson. Upon reading Justice Maranger’s concerns, Nicholson could have chosen not to extradite Dr. Diab, but did so anyways.

After being extradited to France, Dr. Diab spent three years and two months in France’s largest prison. He was ordered released on bail eight times by four different French judges. However, each time, the prosecutor blocked his release. On January 12, 2018, only days ago, two French anti-terrorism judges cleared him and ordered his immediate and unconditional release. Dr. Diab has finally been reunited with his family in Canada, including his son who was born after his extradition.

For The Real News Network, I spoke to Dr. Diab about his decade-long ordeal and about the individuals and organizations who had a hand in that ordeal – former Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and B’nai Brith Canada. My interview of Dr. Diab can be seen here:


On Democracy North, I Discuss the Struggle for Palestinian Freedom in Canada

On this evening’s Democracy North program which airs on Vancouver Co-op Radio 100.5 fm, I discussed with Irwin Oostindie the struggle for Palestinian freedom.

Our conversation touched on Roger Waters’ recent tour in Canada, the attempts by pro-Israel groups to silence Roger, the NDP leadership’s growing willingness to demand justice for the Palestinian people, and the rising danger that the discredited governments of Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman will ignite a devastating war in the Middle East.

The Democracy North program begins at about 2 minutes into this podcast:

Trudeau Government Allows Wines Produced in Israel’s Illegal West Bank Settlements to be Fraudulently Labelled

On CKUT radio’s program, Under the Olive Tree, I discuss the labelling of wines produced in Israel’s West Bank settlements.

As I explain in the interview, those settlements constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, yet the Trudeau government allows wines made in those settlements to be sold in Canada with fraudulent ‘Product of Israel’ labels.

My interview can be heard here:

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Toronto’s City Council Takes Advice About Stopping Hate Speech from a Hate-Monger – Part 1

If the residents of Toronto believe that City Hall’s chicanery ended with the departure of Rob Ford, they are sadly mistaken. This past Tuesday, a spectacle unfolded at City Hall that was as surreal and as morally bankrupt as anything we witnessed during the Ford administration.

The occasion for Mayor John Tory’s ethical nose-dive was an administrative inquiry submitted by right-wing Councillor James Pasternak. Pasternak’s dubious distinctions include his crusade against Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, a Toronto-based grassroots LGBT group. In his latest attempt to stifle critics of an apartheid regime, Pasternak took aim at Al Quds Day rallies held on city property. Specifically, Pasternak alleges that:

There has been a growing trend of hate-infested rallies being held in public spaces such as the anti-Semitic Al Quds Day rally in Toronto and there have been threats to host white supremacist and neo-Nazi rallies in Toronto similar to those in the United States.

For the past several years there has been an Al Quds Day rally held in Toronto outside Queen’s Park featuring speakers making anti-Semitic and anti-Christian remarks, spreading hatred, inciting violence and supporting of terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Al Quds Day was originally created to call for the destruction of the state of Israel. The rally in 2017 did not receive a permit to hold the event at Queen’s Park or from the City of Toronto, however the event proceeded.

Based on his unsubstantiated allegations, Pasternak requested that Council be provided information in response to the question “do the Toronto Police Service or City of Toronto have ability and what resources could they utilize to prohibit a rally that is inciting hatred and violence, such as Al Quds Day, white supremacist or neo-Nazi rallies, from taking place on city or provincial property in Toronto?”

Upon learning of Pasternak’s attack, the Al Quds Committee wrote to Mayor Tory, stating:

These are extraordinarily serious allegations for which Councillor Pasternak fails to cite an iota of evidence. We reject and object to these allegations in the strongest possible terms. In fact, the Al-Quds committee unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism, white supremacy and Nazism in all of their insidious forms. The mandate of our committee is profoundly anti-racist and is diametrically opposed to the goals of white supremacists, Nazis and other anti-Semites.

It is quite true that we are highly critical of the inhumane policies of the state of Israel, but so too is virtually the entire international community. The Canadian government itself recognizes on its Global Affairs website that Israel’s settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and are a “serious obstacle” to peace… In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled unanimously, and with the concurrence of the United States judge, that Israel’s settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. Even worse, Amnesty International and the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, among other human rights groups, have documented Israeli forces’ torture of Palestinian adults and even Palestinian children, and Israel’s use of collective punishment and extra-judicial assassination in violation of international law.

There is nothing remotely anti-Semitic about condemning these appalling human rights abuses and calling for sanctions to be imposed upon the state of Israel to bring these abuses to an end. On the contrary, based upon our extensive interactions with our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community, we believe that Israel’s conduct is an affront to Jewish values and in no way represents the Jewish people, despite the Netanyahu government’s claims to the contrary.

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Young Activists Crash Press Conference to Confront Justin Trudeau on Climate Policy

On November 15, 2017, Hayley Zacks and Jake Hubley, two young climate campaigners from Vancouver, peacefully approached Justin Trudeau at a press conference and were promptly arrested. Their offence was daring to tell the Prime Minister that, after voting for him in 2015, they felt betrayed by his pro-tar sands policies. As the two campaigners were removed from the press conference, Trudeau complimented them for their climate activism.

For The Real News, I talk to Hayley and Jake about their arrest and their reasons for deciding to oppose Justin Trudeau’s climate policies. The interview can be seen here:


Canada’s Extradition Law Exposes Professor Hassan Diab to a Kafkaesque Ordeal

Hassan Diab is a former sociology professor at the University of Ottawa. In 2008, France requested from Canada Dr. Diab’s extradition for his alleged involvement in the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing.

In June 2011, after a lengthy extradition hearing, the judge presiding over Dr. Diab’s extradition hearing described the evidence as “illogical”, “very problematic” and “convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect.” The judge nevertheless held that his interpretation of Canada’s extradition law left him no choice but to extradite Dr. Diab to France.

Three years ago, Dr. Diab was extradited to France by the Harper government. He continues to languish in a French prison. Since then, four French anti-terrorism judges have gathered testimony from several witnesses that Dr. Diab was in Lebanon at the time of the bombing. They have also obtained university records which show that Dr. Diab wrote and passed exams in Beirut then and that he couldn’t have been in Paris at the time of the crime.

French anti-terrorism judges have ordered Dr. Diab’s conditional release under electronic surveillance eight times, only to have their orders challenged by the prosecutor and overturned by an appeal court on every occasion.

On the 3-year anniversary of Dr. Diab’s extradition to France, I spoke with Dr. Diab’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, about his client’s Kafkaesque ordeal. My interview of Mr. Bayne can be seen here: