Take 5 News Picks: Canada talks tough to Iran but Embassy won’t aid injured protestors; Van’s Eastside housing unaffordable; Toronto strike to end in arbitration s,

Robert Bourassa and meMy pick of today’s best national stories as broadcast on Take 5, CIUT 89.5 FM this morning

Canada talks tough to Iran
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is calling the Iranian authorities reaction to peaceful protests against last week’s election results “wholly unacceptable” and denouncing the “use of brute force and intimidation” by authorities.

He’s calling on Iranian authorities to immediately stop violence against their own people, to fully investigate fraud allegations in the presidential election and to release all political prisoners and journalists – including Canadians.

On Sunday morning Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was reporting on the demonstrations for Newsweek magazine, was seized in by Iranian security officials from his Tehran apartment.

Meanwhile…  Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is calling for the Canadian Embassy in Tehran to offer refuge to protesters who are injured on the chaotic city streets.

But Foreign Affairs spokesperson Simone MacAndrew is holding the party line, saying QUOTE “Canada does not offer asylum to individuals in its embassies abroad” except in cases involving “immediate threat of injury or death.”

Well it’s only Day Two of the Toronto City strike but experts are already predicting how it’s going to end.
Premier Dalton McGuinty will likely be forced to order arbitration.

The big question is time…  Will he do it quickly like the 16-day City Strike in 2002 or let picketers languish for months like he did at York University?

Nelson Wiseman, a politics professor at the University of Toronto, is betting on an early end because piles of garbage in the hot, hot heat of summer are a health issue.

In the meantime, city celebrations – like yesterday’s flag raising ceremony for PRIDE and Canada Day celebrations – are all being cancelled.

City officials say if the strike is settled next week then summer programs for kids and Canada Day parties will go ahead.  But union officials claim they are miles away from reaching any kind of settlement.

Canada has gone far beyond the call of duty in helping Omar Khadr, the Canadian terror suspect…  at least that’s what federal lawyers will argue before the Federal Court of Appeal this morning.

The Conservative Government is asking an appeal panel to overturn a landmark Court Decision ordering the Harper government to push for the repatriation of Khadr from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, where the Toronto native has been held since 2002.

Raising the rent on Vancouver’s poorest citizens
In Vancouver’s downtown Eastside many of the city’s addicts and its poorest residents live on their welfare cheques of $375 a month for housing.

But a recent survey of 88 privately-owned hotels in the area found rooms renting for more than $425 a month rose by 44 percent over last year – and found only 0.2 percent of rooms that were both available and less than $375.

The report by the Carnegie Community Action Project called “Still Losing Hotel Rooms” finds residents are still being squeezed, either by paying more of their food money for rent or by being forced onto the streets by high rents.

First Nations still being left off the Jury Rolls in Ontario
The Ontario Attorney General was recently forced to launch an internal review on how police and Crown attorneys secretly pre-screen jurors for mental illness or criminal records – yet no action has been taken on revelations that came to light almost a year ago that aboriginal people were being systematically excluded as jurors – and that’s another example of double standards in the justice system for Aboriginals – according to Julian Falconer, a lawyer for several aboriginal groups.

Last fall, court officials were forced to admit major failings in representing Aboriginal people on its jury roles – Indian and Northern Affairs had simply stopped providing band lists for some communities and the Attorney General’s office took as long as six years to even try to contact some reserves to get band lists.

Falconer wrote Attorney General Chris Bentley last year asking for a formal inquiry into the legality of the jury rolls – but got no action. Falconer is accusing the ministry of “dumb silence and a complete cover-up,” saying “the unequal treatment of natives and non-natives is another example of why first nations can so rightly point to a double standard justice system.”


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