While you slept, we tracked the renewed violence in Kyiv, the latest killings in Iraq, a premier’s pride in labour peace, the minister of defence’s lost priorities, and an Aussie missionary resigned to his fate in North Korea.
1. Kyiv burns. Eighteen people, and maybe more, died in fighting yesterday in Ukraine. Police stormed the opposition’s tent city in the central Independence Square, frightened protesters sought refuge in Canada’s embassy, and the western world joined in a chorus of condemnation aimed at the governing regime of Viktor Yanukovych. John Baird, Canada’s foreign minister, shied away from direct threats, but did say that “all options remain available, including through the deployment of targeted sanctions against those responsible.” He also called pro-Europe demonstrators “courageous activists” for their cause and said he and others are now determining a “coordinated path forward.” So much for peace during the Olympics
2. Baghdad, where cars explode. Every day, somewhere in Iraq, the story is more or less the same. At least [insert number] died in [insert Baghdad suburb, or outlying community] as a series of at least [insert number and car bomb(s)/shooting(s)] targeted mostly Shia neighbourhoods, including [popular cafe(s), bustling market(s)/wedding(s)/funeral(s)]. Of course, the stories aren’t really the same. Victims are their own people, with their own families, and each attack sends a new group of family, friends and coworkers into mourning. Yesterday, car bombs killed at least 49 people died in Iraq, including 14 in Baghdad. Among the blasts was a parked car near a bus station.
3. Christy Clark is proud of labour peace. British Columbia’s Premier waxed eloquent about her government’s march to budget balance, an achievement she says was reached in no small part because the government found savings in the public service. Clark’s success story, buoyed by Finance Minister Mike De Jong’s announcement yesterday of a narrow budget surplus, resembles Jim Flaherty’s plan for the federal books. Tone is the glaring exception. Flaherty and Treasury Board President Tony Clement hope to extract billions in savings from current and retired public servants and will fight unions that stand in their way. Clark, well, she’s proud of her labour peace. “Our workers and their unions have understood our tough times and shown real leadership,” she wrote in the Globe. “Working together, we have been able to live up to the principle that we do not raise taxes or go deeper into debt to pay for operating costs.” A conservative politician talking about leadership in a union? Ottawa can only dream.
4. Eight years of sunshine? Defence Minister Rob Nicholson loves to remind the House of Commons of the so-called Decade of Darkness imposed on the military by the former Liberal government. Peter MacKay, before him, carried the torch. Gordon O’Connor, the retired brigadier-general who served as Stephen Harper’s first defence minister, has spent years tossing the same old claims at the Liberal benches. But now, as the National Post‘s John Ivison points out, the defence department is again on its heels and Nicholson, the guy at the top of the food chain, is going after another retired general, Andrew Leslie, for his moving expenses—not finding a role for Canada’s troops in the world and buying the equipment they require. ”The defence minister’s time would be better served calibrating our ambition and articulating a vision of what the government wants from its military,” writes Ivison. All honeymoons come to an end.
5. Missionaries beware of North Korea. John Short, a 75-year-old Australian missionary, was reportedly detained by North Korean authorities after he was caught distributing Christian pamphlets. His country has no formal diplomatic relations with the mostly closed regime, and his family is hoping Swedish diplomats—who represent the Aussies in North Korea—can confirm that Short is safe. His wife, Karen, says he could face 15 years in prison, a fate with which he’s apparently at peace. “My husband does what he believes is what God wants him to do,” she told Australia’s ABC News. “Ultimately, we’re in God’s hands and that’s how we look at it.” Among Christian missionaries, the Shorts are apparently the ultimate team players.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014