Canada: Terry Glavin: Canadian labour support for the Syrian police state must be rooted out - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada Terry Glavin: Canadian labour support for the Syrian police state must be rooted out

07:35  10 october  2019
07:35  10 october  2019 Source:   nationalpost.com

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You can’t blame Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff for wishing this would all just go away, and for hoping his fellow trade unionists would just keep quiet about it, at least until the federal election is behind us.

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Posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are seen at the Iraqi-Syrian border in Al Qaim, Iraq, on Sept. 30, 2019. © Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters Posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are seen at the Iraqi-Syrian border in Al Qaim, Iraq, on Sept. 30, 2019.

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You can’t blame Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff for wishing this would all just go away, and for hoping his fellow trade unionists would just keep quiet about it, at least until the federal election is behind us. But CLC executive vice-president Donald Lafleur is making it exceedingly difficult for Yussuff to keep a lid on things. And quite a few labour heavyweights and lightweights are rallying to Lafleur’s side, trying to make Yussuff’s life miserable.

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“The worst part of it is the feeling that we don’t have any allies,” Montreal’s Faisal Alazem, the tireless 32-year-old campaigner for the Syrian - Canadian Council, told me the other day. “That is what people in the Syrian community are feeling.”.

It all started two weeks ago when the National Post reported that Lafleur had shown up in Damascus, purporting to speak on behalf of the 3.3-million-member CLC at an international gathering of regime-controlled trade unions from China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and other such police states. At the time, Joel Duff, Yussuff’s assistant, told me: “We need to find out how and why this came to pass. Questions need to be answered.”

I’ve asked the CLC several times what answers they’ve come up with, and all I’ve been told is that Yussuff offered one comment on Sept. 19, and that’s all he intends to say on the subject: “I met with Donald Lafleur this morning and he apologized unreservedly for misrepresenting his status as a CLC representative at the conference in Syria. We will be dealing with this matter internally.”

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Yussuff had more to say, or at least he did say more, on Sept. 18, before he’d had words with Lafleur. Speaking to CBC Radio’s As it Happens, Yussuff noted that the CLC has denounced the Assad regime, that the International Trade Union Confederation to which the CLC belongs holds Bashar al-Assad responsible for the atrocities he’s committed against the Syrian people, and the CLC has raised $360,000 for the resettlement of refugees fleeing his regime. As for what he intended to do about Lafleur’s extracurricular interests: “I don’t have the authority to fire him, but under the constitution it is very clear.”

How the CLC is dealing with the Lafleur business, internally, is revealed in a letter Yussuff circulated to CLC’s affiliates. “Donald has agreed to take some time away from his duties to reflect, while I discuss this matter with the Executive. I cannot begin to thank our affiliates for refraining from commenting on this matter when contacted by the media. Your discipline has helped contain this story and mitigate the distraction from the election campaign.”

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But Lafleur, it turns out, doesn’t seem to much care about mitigating distractions, and is not giving the impression of being unreservedly apologetic about anything. He’s been circulating a petition drawn up on his behalf by a certain Ken Stone of an outfit called the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, which, for all the claims it might make for itself, doesn’t appear the least bit interested in stopping the eight-year-long war Assad has been waging against the Syrian people.

a group of people walking down a dirt road:  A couple carry their children at a camp for displaced Syrians in Atme, near the border with Turkey, on Sept. 20, 2019.© Aaref Watad/AFP/Getty Images A couple carry their children at a camp for displaced Syrians in Atme, near the border with Turkey, on Sept. 20, 2019.

Lafleur was unjustly stripped of his duties and placed on administrative leave after returning from Syria, the petition asserts, and Lafleur has also been subjected to “neo-McCarthyist attacks in various media,” and a “media witch-hunt,” and it’s scandalous. Lafleur travelled on his own time and his own money to learn more about the Syrian conflict, and to express solidarity with Syrian workers, and he should be praised, not reprimanded: “We call for the immediate restoration of Brother Lafleur to his full roster of duties as Executive Vice-President of the CLC.”

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One day it’s the revelation of a vast cyberhacking operation run out of Beijing targeting military-value oceanographic technology research at more than two dozen universities in North America and Southeast Asia.

When Canada joined the United Kingdom and the United States last October in adopting a new and innovative international mechanism to isolate and quarantine globetrotting police - state thugs and their dirty money, hopes were high.

So far, the petition has gathered more than 800 signatures. Among the petition’s backers are Sid Ryan, former president of the Ontario Federation of Labour and five-times-failed New Democratic Party candidate. Ryan was hoping to be an NDP candidate again in the current federal election campaign, but there was some trouble about the NDP’s delay in “vetting” him, so he pulled his candidacy bid last month. Lafleur should be praised, not condemned, for “standing in solidarity with fellow Syrian trade unionists and calling for an end to the inhumane U.S. economic sanctions,” Ryan said.

Also backing Lafleur against Yussuff is Ali Mallah, former CLC executive committee member, Canadian Union of Public Employees officer and prominent “anti-war” activist — which is to say a frequent denouncer of Israel at Toronto “Al Quds Day” events. Mallah was particularly harsh with the New Democratic Party’s foreign-affairs critic Guy Caron, who had expressed shock at Lafleur’s presence in Damascus: “It is an indication of the slippery slope taken by the NDP by siding with Western interventionists and their murderous thugs in the Middle East.”

If that doesn’t strike you as an utterly unhinged criticism of the NDP’s approach to foreign policy, then I can’t help you. As for the bits about “inhumane U.S. economic sanctions” and “standing in solidarity with fellow Syrian trade unionists,” a couple of things to keep in mind.

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Whatever “ root causes” it might be politically expedient to trumpet, proximate causes are ordinarily easier to Assad’s bombers carry out an average of 24 sorties a day. The number of dead Syrian civilians Gulen claims total innocence, and has further claimed no knowledge of or support for the

Poor little Lu Shaye. The notoriously obnoxious Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Canada , is leaving town. Canada has not ordered Lu to leave, as several former diplomats and academics have advised. But Lu is going, all the same.

a statue of a man walking down the street:  A photo taken during a guided tour with the Russian army shows men walking past a poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the old city of Aleppo on Sept. 27, 2019.© Maxime Popov/AFP/Getty Images A photo taken during a guided tour with the Russian army shows men walking past a poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the old city of Aleppo on Sept. 27, 2019.

The sanctions imposed on the criminal Assad regime were imposed early on, by the Arab League. The sanctions Canada supports are the same as the European Union sanctions against the regime, and the United Nations sanctions against the regime. As for the Baathist-controlled Syrian General Federation of Trade Unions that hosted Lafleur along with scores of fake unionists and fake anti-war activists in Damascus, its main job is to enforce Assad’s labour law.

Syria has been under martial law since 1963. According to the International Trade Union Confederation: “Collective bargaining hardly exists, and it is prohibitively difficult to call a lawful strike. All trade union rights have been abolished in the country. The labour law is vague and allows employers to sack workers at will … forced labour can be imposed on anyone who causes ‘prejudice to the general production plan.’ ”

The CLC may well want to keep this under wraps for now. But for the CLC’s own sake, and for the sake of a properly robust trade union movement in this country, the profoundly unhygienic politics at work in the sordid Hands Off Lafleur campaign is going to be rooted out, without mercy, without pity, and without let or cease until it’s banished and gone.

Restaurant founded by Syrian refugee family closes amid alleged death threats .
A Toronto restaurant founded by a Syrian family showcased in the media as a success story of Canada’s refugee resettlement program has closed down after the owners said they received death threats and hate messages. Soufi’s was founded by Husam and Shahnaz Al-Soufi, who came to Canada after they and their three children were sponsored by a community group in 2015. The family opened the Queen’s St. W.-Palmerston Ave. restaurant and café two years later, touting its Middle Eastern food as a culinary offering “from Syria with love.”“As a result of numerous hate messages & death threats we have received over the past week, we’ve decided to permanently close our shop.

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