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No CUPE strike as tentative agreement reached

School is on.

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Thousands of elementary and high school kids will most likely still have school on Monday as an agreement was reached late on Sunday night between the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the provincial government for some 55,000 education support workers.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce told media that he expects the late night deal to allow support workers to work the next morning and for students to be able to return to classes as per normal.

“Parents can rest easy knowing that the government worked tirelessly to ensure their children remain in the classroom, where they belong, Lecce said in a press conference, adding that that there was “incremental success” in negotiations.

CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions said that wage increases were acquired and the existing sick leave plan will remain in place. The Council of Union’s president, Laura Walton, said that there will be a $20 million reinvestment in schools returning more employment to Ontario.

All the terms of the tentative agreement with the support staff will be kept confidential until formal ratification. As part of the deal, CUPE has agreed to stop all job action, including striking, or work to rule, until negotiations are complete.

Humber College sent an email to all students on Friday acknowledging that should a strike have occurred, there would be an impact on students with elementary and high school-aged children. They encouraged those students impacted to communicate with their professors for any missed work. ■

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1st possible case of coronavirus in Canada hits Toronto

Provincial officials make an announcement.

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File photo of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Provincial health officials announced Canada’s first “presumptive” confirmed case of the new coronavirus on Saturday with a male patient in Toronto.

“We’re pretty well 95 per cent sure” that the patient has the virus, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams during a press conference. Authorities will give a new update if the patient upgrades to a confirmed case of the virus.

Williams was flanked by provincial officials, including Health Minister Christine Elliott.

The 50-year-old patient had returned back on a plane from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated from before being admitted to hospital feeling “quite ill”, an official said.

The patient is being treated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and is in stable condition.

“Toronto Public Health is continuing to work closely with provincial and federal health colleagues to actively monitor the situation and respond as appropriate,” Mayor John Tory said in a separate statement.

The Canadian case is just the latest of several confirmations that have sprung up around the world over the last week.

The province has set up an information webpage that will have daily updates. ■

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‘Nothing new’: Panel talks China’s human rights violations

Experts invited to Concordia University give their take.

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File photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with China's Li in 2017.

STORY VIA THE CONCORDIAN

(CUP) — A panel on China’s human rights violations was held in Concordia University’s Faubourg building on Jan. 15.

The experts, who were invited by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), expressed concerns about the Uyghur Muslim concentration camps in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in Western China. They also discussed the brutal repression in Hong Kong and Tibet, as well as China’s increasing influence on the Western world and its implication for the future of democracy.

The event took place just days after Human Rights Watch (HRW) executive director Kenneth Roth was denied entry into Hong Kong and HRW’s launch event for its World Report2020 was disrupted by protestors, according to MIGS executive director Kyle Matthews.

Photo by Brittany Clarke via The Concordian.

“Human rights issues in China are nothing new,” said speaker Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, Senior Fellow at both the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy and the University of Alberta’s China Institute. She listed historical events such as the Cultural Revolution, the Xidan Democracy Wall, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre which she said “trampled on individual human rights in a myriad of ways.”

McCuaig-Johnston continued to explain that although China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty since 1978, this is not the same as ensuring individual human rights. She described how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses detention as a pressure tactic against dissidents and the abusive conditions under which they are detained, which were revealed by HRW’s interviews with former prisoners. She also explained the social credit system, in place since 2014, and the CCP’s widespread interference in Western countries.

Both McCuaig-Johnston and Benjamin Fung, a Canada Research Chair in Data Mining for Cybersecurity and an Action Free Hong Kong Montreal activist, highlighted the CCP’s infiltration in Canadian academics and described the pressure on faculty and Chinese students to self-censor criticism of the Chinese government.

The CCP’s use of technology, such as facial and voice recognition for repression, was also extensively discussed by both experts. Fung additionally focused on Chinese companies’ goal to expand the 5G network––he explained that the CCP controls every large corporation in China and that technology companies are obligated to cooperate with Chinese intelligence units.

“It’s about trust, you trust Apple to update your iPhone because it is a private company,” Fung explained, adding that we cannot trust Chinese companies who would introduce malware into the 5G network if the CCP asked them to.

Fung also spoke in detail about China’s one country, two systems policy and the CCP’s broken promise: its decision to maintain control over Hong Kong’s government instead of allowing universal suffrage, which Fung asserts was promised in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. He described what he called an ongoing humanitarian crisis and a system of police brutality, lengthy prison sentences, sexual assault, and white terror––attacks on pro-democracy activists.

The situation in Tibet was discussed by Sherap Therchin, executive director of the Canada-Tibet Committee, who explained it has been 70 years since China illegally invaded Tibet, and the Western world seems to have forgotten about it. He described the CCP’s reflexive control strategy: how they have been feeding manufactured information about Tibet to target groups so consistently that the Western world now believes their narrative that Tibet was historically part of China.

Therchin continued to explain that in the Western world’s eyes, control over Tibet is now an internal issue––a problem for China to deal with without Western influence.

Finally, Dilmurat Mahmut, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University’s Faculty of Education, talked about the Uyghur re-education camps in place since 2017. According to documents obtained through an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, an estimated 1 million Uyghur Muslims are detained in these camps, but Mahmut said these numbers could be as high as 3 million. He explained the history of the region of Xinjiang, originally East Turkistan, and the CCP’s labeling of all Turkic Muslims in the region as potential terrorists or pre-criminals.

Mahmut described the conditions in what the CCP calls vocational training centres, and explained that Uyghur children are being forcibly detained and sent to state-run orphanages where they are forbidden from learning the Uyghur language and, instead, only learn the Chinese culture—he called this cultural genocide. Mahmut finished his presentation with a warning from Roth on the dangers of not challenging Chinese human rights abuses and worldwide interference.

Syndicated via the Canadian University Press from The Concordian. ■

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Trudeau outlines plan to pass trade deal

CUSMA will come before parliament.

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After the new North American free trade deal approved by U.S. Senate, the Canadian government plans to ratify the deal next week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Tuesday in a news conference after a three-day cabinet retreat in Winnipeg, saying that it’s the government’s utmost priority to push forward with the Canadian-U.S.-Mexico agreement, known domestically as CUSMA, as millions of jobs depend on the new trade pact.

“On Monday, we will present a ways and means motion, and on Wednesday we will table legislations to ratify the deal,” said Trudeau, describing what will take place next week.

In order for the Liberals to pass this legislation in a minority government, they will neeed the support of another party in the House of Commons. Trudeau had expressed is hopes that all parties will negotiate and cone on ratification together.

“What we are doing is reminding everyone in the House and across the country of how important it is to secure the most important trading relationship for future generations.”

CUSMA has been on the top of the list of government priorities that were discussed during the cabinet meetings in Winnipeg.

The cabinet ministers also listened to expert guest speakers, who discussed other important matters including the fight against climate change, the current state of the country’s economy and pressing global affairs, among other critical matters facing the new minority government.

The trade deal, a result of a year of sometimes rocky negotiations with with the Trump administration, has been passed in the U.S. Senate and is awaiting the president’s signature. It has also been approved in Mexico.

Justin Trudeau said in Winnipeg “we are going to make sure we move forward in the right way and that means ratifying this new NAFTA as quickly as possible.”

Conservatives who are the main opposition, are generally supportive of the deal, but have vowed to grill the Liberals over its specifics when the House of Commons resumes sitting on Monday. ■

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