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Who is Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s new far-right president? | Brazil News

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – To detractors, he’s a dangerous cheerleader for dictatorship. To supporters, he’s the leader capable of delivering salvation from Brazil‘s political, social and economic crises.

Jair Bolsonaro, a divisive far-right firebrand and self-styled political outsider, has been sworn in as the 38th president of Latin America’s largest democracy. 

Bolsonaro won 55 percent of the vote in a runoff against Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party (PT) on Sunday.

He previously suggested that he would not accept the result if he did not win the election. His running mate, former army general Hamilton Mourao, later walked back those comments.

Remarkable rise

Bolsonaro won a place in the runoff after topping a field of 13 candidates during the first-round vote on October 7 with 46 percent of the vote.

The result marked a remarkable political rise for the 63-year-old after decades of relative political obscurity.

Bolsonaro has served as a congressman for Rio de Janeiro in Brazil’s lower house Chamber of Deputies since 1991, switching parties on numerous occasions.

He was hardly known outside the city until 2014, however, when Brazil slid towards the economic malaise in which it now finds itself.

“He was always an unimpressive backbencher, he was never a party boss … or had a programmatic agenda that was of any significance,” Matias Spektor, a professor of international relations at the Brazil-based Getulio Vargas Foundation, told Al Jazeera.

“Until four years ago, Bolsonaro was not a household name in Brazilian politics.”

Seizing on crises

According to political analysts, critical to Bolsonaro’s emergence was the convergence of several different crises within Brazil, which have slashed public faith in democracy and the country’s political class.

“The overall discreditment of establishment politicians resulting from the worst recession in 100 years, the biggest corruption scandal ever detected – according to the US Department of Justice – and this never-ending deterioration in crime and homicide have caused the rise of Bolsonaro,” said Brian Winter, vice president of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas and editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly.

More than 12 percent of Brazilians are jobless, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, with the economy still struggling to recover from a seismic recession that dragged on for more than two years before officially ending in 2017.





A supporter of Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is seen in front of Bolsonaro’s condominium at Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro [File: Sergio Moraes/Reuters]

Amid the downturn, several high-level corruption scandals erupted at the height of which was a major anti-graft probe known as Lava Jato, or “Car Wash.

Since 2014, more than 150 Brazilian business leaders, corporations and politicians have been prosecuted – including former President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva – as part of the investigation and other interlocking probes.

“The corruption scandals linked to Lava Jato are really quite revolutionary in Brazil, there’s never been this range of action against politicians, public officials and businesspeople … It’s really shaken the establishment,” Richard Lapper, an associate fellow at the UK-based institute of international affairs, Chatham House, and independent analyst on Latin American politics, told Al Jazeera.

“[And] Bolsonaro has identified with this move against corrupt politicians,” he added.

“His great success is that he’s been able to mobilise outside of the political system against traditional politicians. He’s used social media very effectively and so he’s capitalising on the mood that’s anti-political in Brazil.” 

Crime and security

While Bolsonaro has tapped into widespread discontent with the economy and political elites, he’s also played on fundamental fears about security amid widespread violent crime.

Violence has surged in many parts of Brazil, home to seven of the world’s 20 most violentcities, in recent years.

Last year, homicides rose to a record high figure of 63,880, up 2.9 percent from 2016, according to the Brazilian Forum of Public Security.

“Crime is a major popular concern … and it is an issue across the country, which affects all social classes, although the poor most,” Spektor said, adding that Bolsonaro had a “message on crime” and Haddad didn’t.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain, has pledged to tackle the security crisis by militarising the police, cracking down on criminal offenders by allowing officers greater freedom to kill, and loosening public gun laws.





Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters during a campaign rally in Brasilia [File: Eraldo Peres/AP Photo]

His proposals are unlikely to prove successful, however, according to Spektor.

“The solutions he is offering have been shown to have no effect on troubling crime, on the contrary, the notion that a tough hand on crime works has been proven incorrect by existing evidence,” he said.

“What there is evidence of is that the further militarisation of police increases very dramatically the number of homicides and killings.”

In Rio, Bolsonaro’s electoral stronghold, a military takeover of policing since February in response to acute violence throughout the city has coincided with a rise in homicide rates compared with the same period last year.

Style, not substance

According to Lapper, Bolsonaro’s appeal is not driven by well-considered policy ideas, but rather his ability to present “simple answers to complex problems”, regardless of their efficacy.

In his more than two decades in Congress, Bolsonaro has only had two of his own bills passed into law, despite having proposed about 170 pieces of legislation.

Allesandra Maia Terra de Faria, a professor of social science at the Rio-based Pontifical Catholic University, said Bolsonaro’s strategy has never been about having “a clear plan, or any kind of stability”.

“He’s always got one phrase to sum up everything, but which also means nothing,” de Faria said.

This rhetoric, however, has enabled him to unite various voting blocs within the Brazilian right, according to Lapper.

“There are three bits of the right in Brazil: the nostalgia right, who yearn for the security of the military dictatorship; the social right, which is linked to this very big evangelical community in Brazil; and a liberal right, who are always railing about the hypertrophy of the Brazilian state,” he said.

“All these things have come together in Bolsonaro.” 

Rejection and resistance

But while Bolsonaro’s bid for office proved successful, his candidacy also met forceful resistance from large sections of Brazilian society.

The opposition to Bolsonaro has been driven by his numerous discriminatory comments on race, gender and sexual orientation, as well as remarks in favour of torture and Brazil’s former military dictatorship, in power from 1964 to 1985, which have angered and alarmed millions of Brazilians.

Bolsonaro has described having a daughter as a “weakness”, told a congresswoman she was “too ugly” to be raped, claimed some black people were not “even good for procreation”, and said he would rather one of his four sons “die in an accident” than be gay.





Demonstrators take part in a protest against Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro [File: Nelson Almeida/AFP] 

In September, he was stabbed while campaigning in the city of Juiz de Fora, in southeastern Minas Gerais state. 

His suspected assailant told authorities he had been “ordered by God” to carry out the attack, which forced Bolsonaro to withdraw from the public campaign trail while he recovered from injuries sustained in the assault.

On September 29, hundreds of thousands of people marched in cities throughout Brazil as part of the social media-driven and women-led #EleNao (#NotHim) protest against his candidacy.

“We have a society in transition and he represents everything that is old and more conservative in Brazil,” de Faria said.

This is the saddest thing about Bolsonaro.”

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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat

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In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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