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Why Canada should crack down on corrupt Iranian officials and their dirty money

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For Iranian democrats, and for the tens of thousands of dissenters who have fled into exile to Canada, Europe, the United States and the far corners of the earth, it is a time of melancholy commemoration.

It was 40 years ago in February 1979, that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s theocratic despotism seized the throats of the Iranian people. It’s been 30 years since Khomeini issued his death-warrant fatwa against the novelist Salman Rushdie. It’s been 20 years since truncheons, bloodshed and mass arrests crippled the first rebellion of the revolution’s own children who sought to overthrow the Islamic Republic and lay the foundation of a secular democracy. It was 10 years ago that another paroxysm of bloody repression dashed the hopes of millions of “Green Revolution” Iranians who marched in the streets of Tehran to quietly and peacefully protest the fabricated presidential election of the thug Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

Last February, a countrywide working-class uprising that had sprung spontaneously from the conservative city of Mashhad only a few weeks earlier was already in its death throes. It was in February last year, too, that Kavous Seyyed-Emami, an Iranian Canadian sociologist and co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, died from “suicide” in the dungeons of Evin Prison. He’d been rounded up as part of a mass arrest of Iranian conservationists on trumped-up espionage charges. His wife, Maryam Mombeini, has been prevented from returning to Canada.

Despite the arrests, the beatings and the judicial murders that followed the Mashhad uprising, rebellion has persisted in pockets across Iran and in protests led mainly by trade unionists, by teachers, and by women, in their persistent refusal to submit to the absurd compulsory hijab laws enforced by the regime’s Islamic morality police. Over the past year, the regime’s brutality has deepened into frenzies of persecution.

RELATED: Iranian women risk arrest: Daughters of the revolution

Hundreds of Christians, Baha’i people, and Sufi Muslims; sugar workers, steelworkers, human rights lawyers and students have been arrested on bogus espionage, blasphemy and national-security charges. The price for demanding an ordinary life in Iran is to be fired, arrested, beaten, lashed, tortured, executed, framed on comically false charge, or taken to a morgue from a prison after having allegedly committed suicide.

On Valentine’s Day, last Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei marked the 30th anniversary of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie for the “blasphemy” of his novel, The Satanic Verses, by reiterating his predecessor’s incitement to murder as “solid and irrevocable.” Khamenei used his Twitter account to amplify his endorsement of Rushdie’s killing. Twitter briefly suspended his account and deleted his tweet.

It should be obvious to the world by now that the Khomeinist regime is irredeemable. It cannot be reformed. The Islamic Republic has to go. But the theocracy’s overthrow can occur only as a direct consequence of a sustained, non-violent campaign of civil resistance mounted by Iranians themselves aimed at pushing the regime to the point of collapse, Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s most prominent human rights champion and Nobel Peace Prize winner, told me on Sunday.

Living in exile in London since 2009, Ebadi has lately ended up at the forefront of a growing consensus among pro-democracy Iranians that the only way to transform the country’s political order is a popular referendum under Article 59 of Iran’s existing constitution, supervised by the United Nations.

For the time being, however, the UN is “useless” to the Iranian people, and any threat of foreign military intervention would only strengthen the regime’s hand, Ebadi said. A reopening of Canada’s embassy in Iran won’t help, and an acceleration of American-style sanctions would only further impoverish the Iranian people. But there is a critical role for liberal democracies to play in hastening the regime’s demise, Ebadi said, and Canada—which has developed a reputation for sheltering corrupt regime millionaires and serving as a bank-account bolthole for assets quietly swindled from the Iranian people—should take a leading role in the project.

RELATED: Protests in Iran could spell trouble for the Middle East at large

“Canada, for a start, could definitely take steps to that end, especially because there are Iranians residing in Canada who have appropriated funds from Iranian coffers, and they have put that money in Canadian banks. You should take or confiscate that illicit money that they have put into your banks,” Ebadi said, speaking through a translator.

A proposed suite of targeted sanctions aimed at Khomeinist regime officials and their collaborators has already won cross-party support in Ottawa, notably from the NDP’s Murray Rankin, Conservative MP David Sweet, the Liberals’ Michael Levitt, chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, and Anthony Housefather, chair of the Justice Committee. (In the interests of full disclosure: I’m a senior fellow with the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, which has been strenuously advocating this course of action).

So far, however, sanctions under the 2017 Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act have singled out only a few dozen officials from Russia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and South Sudan. Ebadi says that Canada needs to step up and use the Act—known as Canada’s “Magnitsky law,” after the murdered Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky—to target key regime officials in Iran, seizing their offshore assets and outlawing any dealings with them.

“I believe that any targeted sanctions against regime officials or people within the establishment who have violated human rights would be the best way of helping us. And let us remember what happened in South Africa, and in Eastern Europe, or in particular Poland. Let’s not underestimate the power of popular resistance,” Ebadi said. “If the people do stage this civil resistance and it goes to such an extent that the government finds itself helpless under popular pressure, and feels it is on the verge of collapse, then they will give in to the people.”

If matters reached that point, the Iranian constitution’s Article 59 provides that “a popular vote through a referendum” can be triggered “in extremely important economic, political, social, and cultural matters,”so long as two-thirds of Iran’s parliamentarians agree. “Then there should be a UN monitored referendum on the constitution,” Ebadi said, “to ask people whether they think this constitution in Iran should remain as it is, and are the people happy with the current political structure in Iran, or not. Of course, under no circumstance would the government like to have a referendum that would act against them, but it can happen if the people stage peaceful civil resistance, so that the government eventually gives in.”

RELATED: The uprising in Iran: ‘This is what revolution looks like’

That may seem overly optimistic, given the regime’s habits of unbending repression. But the proposition that the regime is incorrigible and incapable of genuine reform is objectively unimpeachable. Despite its pretensions and pantomime elections, the Islamic Republic of Iran is nothing like a democracy. Its constitution ensures that the country’s political and social life must remain confined within the straightjacket of a grim, authoritarian theocracy that describes itself as “a branch of the absolute governance of the Prophet of God.”

All laws must be compatible with Islamic religious law—as interpreted and determined by the Guardian Council, which also gets to decide who may or may not run for political office. The Guardian Council is made up of 12 members—six clerics directly appointed by the unelected Supreme leader, who is appointed by a council of clerics; and six jurists appointed by the head of judiciary, who is in turn appointed by the Supreme leader.

“The Supreme leader has absolute authority over everything. He has the power to abolish laws at his will. He is the commander in chief of the military, and he can appoint religious judges as he chooses,” Ebadi explained. “He is in control over everything.”

It was last February that Ebadi figured prominently among 15 Iranian personalities and human rights defenders in Iran and in exile who issued a public letter calling for an end to the Islamic Republic and a UN-monitored referendum allowing a popular vote on a transition to a completely secular democracy. Canada’s Payam Akhavan was among them, as were well-known exiles in Paris, London and Washington. Nasrin Sotoudeh also signed the letter.

Perhaps the most prominent human rights lawyer in Iran following Ebadi’s exile in 2009, Sotoudeh was arrested last June on charges of “acting against national security” and instructed that she would be spending the next five years in prison. Word of Sotoudeh’s arrest came from her husband, Reza Khandan, who was then arrested and sentenced to a six-year prison term for posting about Sotoudeh’s arrest on Facebook.

Among the most corrupt and bloodthirsty Iranian officials who should be targeted under Canada’s Magnitsky law—there are several proposed by the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights—Ebadi proposes that Supreme leader Ali Khamenei should not be left out. “Khamenei has great amounts of money and immeasurable assets,” Ebadi said. “You should put his name on the list of Iranians to be sanctioned.”

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John Summers: How Ottawa lawyer mocked motherhood and society, reveals new book

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An Ottawa based lawyer from a leading law firm has been entangled in a web of controversy due to his action, which many have described has shocking and inhumane.

Despite claiming to uphold justice, human rights and societal values, John Summers, a lawyer at Bell Baker LLP, is a clear-cut example of just how broken the legal system in Canada is. It appears that Summers and his firm for years now have been exploiting a disturbed senior citizens  with chronic health conditions in his continuous abuse of his wife, for financial gains.

Summers has consistently stood in the way of justice by fabricating numerous lies. Resorting to lies in an attempt to hinder justice is an action that is heavily frowned upon by ethical legal practitioners. But Dezrin continued to suffer domestic abuse due to Summers’ action which had preventing her son, Raymond from seeing his own mother.

Summers’ actions since February 2016 has now resulted in the reported premature death of Dezrin Carby-Samuels who had been an RN who was selflessly dedicated to serving both her family and every community that she had lived.

Raymond and his mother, Dezrin, had sought the intervention of the law courts as a last resort in their quest for justice after Dezrin has been consistently abused by her husband, Horace and her daughter, Marcella. Rather than getting the fair hearing and justice that they expected, they received the direct opposite due to Summers apparently employing every dirty trick in the book. He has resorted to lies and illicit collaboration with judges of him alma mata just to inhibit every effort being made by Dezrin and her son.

In a book titled John Summers: The Untold Story of Corruption, Systemic Racism and Evil at Bell Baker LLP, author Peter Tremblay takes readers on a shocking journey into John Summers’ tactics which lacked ethical properiety and human decency.

Summers is proof that the ethical practices associated with the legal profession is quickly fading and it is a course for concern. In the case against Horace, Summers produced an apparent fraudulent affidavit which claimed that Raymond suffers from a mental condition—an entirely false claim. Lawyers like Summers are willing to go any length in an attempt to hinder justice, even if it leads to the destruction of lives and properties.

Summers falsely claimed that his client, Horace couldn’t file a defence for himself because he was unaware of the adopted court proceedings. However, in the early 1900s, Horace was the same one who showed so much confidence in his legal capabilities that he decided not to hire a legal counsel but represent himself during a lawsuit between his union and the Canadian Government. This act is contradictory to Summers’ claim of his poor legal understanding.

As humans, some certain moral ethics and values set us apart from other living things and one of them is showing respect for elders. Lawyers are respected in the society due to their pledge to always ensure justice prevails but Summers’ apparent greed and love for money have made him violate the human rights of an ailing mother and her son.

Peter Tremblay’s book uncovers untold stories of a corrupt system that accommodates abuse in the most inhumane form.  In Canada’s legal system, empathy and compassion were thrown out the door in exchange for money and an unknown demomic agenda. It begs the question: How then are aggrieved citizens supposed to trust a legal system for justice when a lawyer can tell unending lies against a senior citizen without any consequences or accountability?

The Law Society of Upper Canada which is supposed to regulate the legal profession in Ontario is a complete joke run by similarly corrupt lawyers who ignore the misdeeds of their colleagues.

Summers’ actions have led to Dezrin being unable to do anything since she lost her ability to walk, talk or even write due to abuse and ultimately her premature death.

Her inability to receive help from even her own son due to Summers’ fraudulent activities resulted in the destruction of Dezrin Carby-Samuels and for that reason Summers should be barred from the further practice of law anywhere in Canada.

In my view, Summers is an abomination to the legal profession and Peter Tremblay’s book documents the activities of John Summers since 2016 against three judges who where not from Summers’ alma mata and who sought justice for Dezrin and her son.

Since 2016, Dezrin had sought obtain freedom from forcible confinement imposed by her abusive husband but was unsuccessful, due to the interference Summers who refused to divulge who was in fact paying him reportedly $300/hr to frustrate justice.

Reports from credible sources allege that Dezrin passed away sometime last year due to Summers’ evil practices and this report has cast a dark cloud over the future of the legal system in Canada which had been ignoring the plight of other black Canadians.

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City staff propose ‘gold belt’ to hem in future Ottawa development

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The City of Ottawa is about to have a second marathon debate about where to allow future suburbs to be built, and this time staff propose hemming in development by creating what’s being dubbed the “gold belt.”

Eight months after city council decided to expand the urban boundary by 1,281 hectares to help house a growing population, senior city planners have released the map of which properties should be developed — and which property owners stand to see values soar if their lands are rezoned. 

They include areas north of Kanata on March Road, near the future Bowesville O-Train station in the south end, and at the southern edge of Orléans.

Scoring rural properties on such things as how close they are to transit and how costly it would be to build pipes and roads proved a challenge over the past several months, however.

“The easy land has been gobbled up in years past, in previous boundary expansions,” said Coun. Scott Moffatt, who belongs to a group of councillors that meets about the new official plan. “So now we’re looking at those leftover pieces and where we can [grow], knowing council was clear we would not be touching agricultural lands.”

270 hectares short of goal

Staff struggled to come up with all 1,281 hectares council approved adding in May 2020 because they had too many issues with “sub-optimal” lands.

Instead, they recommended converting 1,011 hectares of rural land to urban for now to meet provincial requirements, and then spending the next five years studying three options for making up the 270-hectare shortfall.

That opens the door to creating an entirely new suburb. 

For instance, one option involves a huge parcel near the Amazon warehouse southeast of the city where the Algonquins of Ontario envision a community of 35,000 to 45,000 people called Tewin, which they would build with developers Taggart.

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How an Ottawa woman built a majestic snow dragon in her front yard

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OTTAWA — You may sometimes feel winter drag on, but one Ottawa woman is not letting that dim her creativity.

Dr. Mary Naciuk is family doctor and rural emergency room physician. She spent some of her free time this weekend building a majestic snow dragon in front of her south Ottawa home.

“It’s just fun to get outside and do something creative,” she told CTV News on Sunday.

There was plenty of snow to use, after Ottawa saw a record 21 cm of snow on Saturday.

She said that after her husband cleared the driveway, the pile of snow left behind lent itself to being turned into a magnificent dragon, but it takes more than just the right kind of snow to make a sculpture like this.

Naciuk tells CTV News a shovel, a butter knife, a spoon and even a blowtorch were used to give the dragon its sharp edges and defined scales.

“Anything pointy with a small detail is really hard to do with just your fingers or the butter knife and spoon I was using, so (the blowtorch) just makes a fine point,” she said.

Her son tweeted about it on Saturday and Naciuk says many people have stopped to take a look.

My mom has reached the pass me a blowtorch and shovel and watch me make a snow dragon stage of the pandemic

(I was only allowed to shovel piles of snow) pic.twitter.com/aphZotpHiC — Tom Naciuk (@NaciukThomas) January 16, 2021

“A lot of people stop on their way to the ice rink and have a look and take pictures. It’s kind of fun,” she said.

It was a welcome relief to spend some time working on something creative outdoors, Naciuk said.

“Get outside, get some exercise, clear your mind, do something that is not COVID for a few hours. It obeys all the rules. It was great,” she said, adding that the dragon took her about five hours to build.

She’s been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for months. 

“It’s been a steep learning curve. It’s been exhausting,” she said. “A lot of the time is learning how to deliver care to people and maintain all the precautions that we need to. That’s been hard. A lot of people are not able to work from time to time, so we fill a lot of extra shifts. It’s been a lot more hours of work than it used to be, that’s for sure.”

Naciuk returns to work on Monday after a weekend of respite but says if the conditions are right—a nice mild day, a good snowfall, and some free time—another sculpture may well appear.

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