We hope everyone had an amazing reading week! Don’t be discouraged by this freak snowstorm in the middle of March – there’s only four weeks left of school. No worries for our democracy either, as the SNC-Lavalin affair rages on, or as our Prime Minister’s healthy workplace environment is questioned, or if the Official Opposition leader failed to denounce alt-right conspiracy theories, because apparently nobody cares! If you are looking for further distractions from not working on assignments due post-reading week, then you can check out this week’s featured articles below.
What You Need to Know – Editor’s Picks
Nigerian Elections – Sophia Rafuse, Comparative Politics Editor
Africa’s largest democracy headed to the polls this week to reelect Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president. Despite defeating his primary opponent, Atiku Abubakar, by almost 4 million votes, Abubakar has rejected this victory and declared that he will be pursuing a legal challenge. Generally speaking, international observers have not raised concerns of election fraud, however, the elections’ delay by a week as well as the introduction of electronic polling systems could be perceived as suspicious.
Accusations aside, these elections were special for a number of reasons! First off, a bill introduced last year lowered the minimum age to run for office to 35, provoking a wave of new political hopefuls. Similarly, despite multiple attacks carried out by Boko Haram, including on the day of elections, Borno and Yobe state, two of Buhari’s main strongholds, had some of the highest turnouts in the country. On the other hand, while this election was planned to be the largest in Africa’s history with 73 million expected to vote, a dismal third of those registered did cast their votes. This marked the lowest turnout rate since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. Observers have mainly attributed this to security and decreasing rates of political participation, especially in the south.
International Human Rights – Evelyne Goulet, International Relations Editor
On Wednesday, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet delivered her first major address since being appointed U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in August 2018. In her speech, Bachelet highlighted the threats of income inequality and disparity for human rights, using four countries as examples – Sudan, Haiti, Venezuela, and France. Bachelet argued that the recent protests in these states illustrate the risk of violence created by disparities, and blamed poor governance for these serious problems. She also stated that major disparities “constitute fundamental challenges to the principles of equality, dignity and human rights for every human being.”
Furthermore, Bachelet called out four countries for their human rights records. Bachelet was critical of China’s internment and “re-education” of over one million Uighurs, and asked for an independent inquiry into the matter. She also criticized Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza, and the devasting impacts it has had on economic and social rights in the territory. Furthermore, Bachelet asked Saudi Arabia to release women’s rights activists who have been jailed, saying that the practice contradicted the country’s recent reforms. Lastly, she asked for the violent anti-drug campaign in the Philippines to end and suggested that the government switch to a public health policy approach.
What’s the Latest?
Chris Cadogan explores human rights abuse in the Papua province of Indonesia and the political backlash it has received.
Response to the above video has been momentous, with outrage being found at a global level. This criticism does not just pertain to the police tactic itself, but to the latent racism reflected in the act given ethnic tensions in Indonesia.
Ciprian Constantinescu discusses French President Emmanuel Macron’s forward leap from his days of struggle.
Pushing for a wide-ranging package of reforms that remain unpopular with the French, Macron has been faced with strikes, mass protests, street violence, and a possibly unrelated increase in anti-semitic attacks. But no matter how many challenges he faces, Macron seems to move forward with his vision for France and come back even stronger.
Oscar Beghin analyzes the UN’s demand for an apology to the Republic of Congo for the colonial atrocities committed under King Leopold.
Ahmed Reid, a member of the UN working group, suggested that Belgium “should issue an apology for the atrocities during the period of colonization,” adding that it should be “an acknowledgement of what went on and to make it right, to move forward in the context of decolonization.”
Christophe Bull discusses the complexities surrounding the UK and US decision to retract citizenship for two women who had left their home to join ISIS.
Repatriating these fighters and prosecuting them at home could be difficult, as establishing the burden of proof may be impossible. There is no clear solution to this issue, but time is running out to find one.
Zaheed Kara questions the moral imperative against the legalization of drugs according to John Stuart Mill’s harm principle.
Regardless of how easily the first four arguments are dismissed when taking into account the need for individual liberties, the likelihood of indirect harm to society as a whole resulting from the indiscriminate legalization of all drugs is too high to ignore.
Jeanne Mayrand-Thibert discusses the moral responsibility for historically emergent social structures, such as in the case of Canadian Indigenous communities.
The structure of the Canadian state was developed by agents, and some actors were actively engaged in securing benefits for white settlers at the cost of the interests of Indigenous individuals.
To catch up on the ongoing developments in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, you can check out our triple flash analyses by Catharina O’Donnell and Evelyne Goulet.
On February 27, Jody Wilson-Raybould testified in front of the House Justice Committee about alleged political interference in her decision to not accord a deferred prosecution agreement to construction giant SNC-Lavalin.
On March 4, well-respected President of the Treasury Board Jane Philpott resigns from cabinet, citing loss of confidence in the Trudeau government over the SNC-Lavalin affair.
On March 6, former principal-secretary Gerald Butts testifies in front of the House Justice Committee and presents his own version of the alleged political interference.
Eyitayo Kunle-Oladosu examines the legal hangover of the legalization of cannabis in providing pardons for simple possessions of cannabis.
While the Campaign for Cannabis Amnesty estimates that roughly 500 000 Canadians still have a criminal record for the possession of marijuana, the introduction of the bill has been delayed as the Liberals continue to be occupied with the unfolding details of the SNC-Lavalin scandal and, according to critics, indulge in the politics of distraction.
What We’re Reading
La zone grise, via Le Devoir
Have I mentioned the 9,000 jobs? via Maclean’s
The People Who Eat the Same Lunch, via The Atlantic
How to revive Algeria, via The Economist
Vanishing Hong Kong, via The Guardian
The Candidate, Noah Richler
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein