Day: August 19, 2019

Bernier Claims ‘Islamist Extremists’ Have Infiltrated Canadian Politics

People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier speaks to reporters at the PPC National Conference in Gatineau, Que. on Aug. 18, 2019.

GATINEAU, Que. — Islamic extremists are infiltrating Canadian political parties, Maxime Bernier told reporters Sunday, alleging that political party leaders are playing footsie with them to get votes.

The leader of the People’s Party of Canada was responding to questions about whether he shares views espoused by the guest speaker at his party’s inaugural conference. Benjamin Dichter, contended that the Liberal party of Canada is “infested with Islamiscists” and that Canada is suffering from “the stench of cultural relativeness and political Islam.”

Standing shoulder to shoulder with Dichter, a last-minute 2015 Conservative candidate stand-in in Toronto–Danforth, Bernier offered some of his own views.

“Look at Andrew Scheer. He went out of his way to meet Islamist extremists to get their votes,” Bernier asserted, offering little evidence.

“You reproached me for having my picture taken with someone at a public event that I didn’t know,” Bernier told journalists, referring to pictures he has posed for with a white nationalist and members of an alleged hate group. “But Andrew Scheer, he went to meet an Islamist extremist who tells people how it is good to beat your wife, and how to beat them.”

WATCH: Maxime Bernier tells party faithful he will make it into the leaders’ debates. Story continues below video.


Bernier was referring to Omar Subedar, a Toronto-area imam who has been the subject of controversial conservative Rebel Media videos as well as a recent posting in Jihad Watch. Subedar did not respond to a request for comment. The Conservative party also did not return a request for comment. 

Liberal spokesman Braeden Caley called Bernier’s comments “another disappointing example of today’s conservative politicians doubling down on divisive politics and completely ignoring the facts.”

“If we don’t talk about this now, and we don’t talk about immigration at the same time, our country risks become something it isn’t, in 25 or 50 years,” he added, in French.

Ditchter gave a rousing speech Sunday, bringing the crowd of approximately 340 to their feet, as  the delegates — candidates from across the country — appeared to enthusiastically greet his message with one standing ovation after another while waving People’s Party of Canada flags and the Canadian maple leaf in the air.

“Despite what our corporate media and political leaders want to admit, Islamist entryism, and that is the adaptation of political Islam, is rotting away at our society like syphilis,”  Dichter told them.

The People's Party of Canada guest speaker Benjamin Dichter delivers a speech at the party's convention at the Hilton Lac-Leamy Hotel and Casino in Gatineau, Ont. on Aug. 19, 2019.

Canada has a choice to make, he said. “Option 1, do we go the direction of Europe? Do we give up our sovereignty to dangerous ideologies that have infiltrated and influence where the country is going to go?” 

 Or, “… Option 2, Do we say enough! This ends now,” he bellowed, to loud cheers. “Do we rediscover our roots as Canadians and do we resist the ghettoization of our society?” 

North Vancouver candidate Azmairnin Jadavji told HuffPost he was uncomfortable with Dichter’s speech but shares some concerns about ghettoization and welcoming numerous newcomers who may not have the skills needed to climb the socio-economic ladder. 

“I’m looking forward 20 or 30 years, and I feel that the way our Liberal and Conservative governments have been pushing our country isn’t what I want to leave for my children,” he said, explaining why he decided to get involved with the PPC.  

“I’m all for immigrants; I’m an immigrant myself,” said Jadavji, who came to Canada from Tanzania when he was a small boy. “I’m concerned by the level of immigration that we are bringing in, and the quality of the immigrants, because only 26 per cent are economic immigrants,” he said. 

“I’m looking forward 20 or 30 years, and I feel that the way our Liberal and Conservative governments have been pushing our country isn’t what I want to leave for my children.”PPC North Vancouver candidate Azmairnin Jadavji

The government’s latest report to Parliament on immigration said more than half — 56 per cent — of the 286,000 permanent residents welcomed in 2017 were economic immigrants. 

Jadavji said he worries that immigrants without financial means will “have trouble integrating and then they are going to be going into ghettos because housing is difficult, education is difficult, affordability is difficult…. I want people to set up to succeed in Canada, not set up for failure.”

Clifford Albert, the candidate for the Quebec riding of Pierre-Boucher–Les Patriotes–Verchères, said he thought Dichter’s speech included “characterization that was a little strong” but he agreed with the message. CSIS, he noted has highlighted the rise of violent extremism invoking Islam, and as a child of immigrants ― his mother Moroccan and his father Austrian, Albert said newcomers should integrate. 

“It’s wonderful that we have people from all around the world who come here with ethnic differences, but they should be melded into the melting pot of Canada,” he said. 

In his speech, Bernier noted his is the only party willing to talk openly about the “Islamist menace.” 

A ballcap with the logo of the People's Party of Canada and signature of leader Maxime Bernier is seen on an attendee during the PPC National Conference in Gatineau, Que. on Aug. 18, 2019.

To reporters, he said the People’s Party of Canada welcomes  Muslims and those of all other faiths who want to live according to Canadian values: separation of church and state, the equality of women and men. The PPC wants fewer immigrants and a stop to irregular refugees.

“We are against mass immigration, but we are for immigration,” Bernier said, noting his party wants to increase the percentage of economic immigrants. Pointing to social cohesion problems in Europe and in Britain, Bernier said he doesn’t want the same issues replicated in Canada because of new immigrants who don’t share the same values. The PPC wants face-to-face interviews with all would-be newcomers to gauge their potential for integration. 

“It’s time to have that debate.” 

Bernier makes pitch to be in leader’s debate

Bernier took to the stage to address his candidates, folks from across the country who participated in the weekend meetings learning how to debate, raise funds,  get out the vote, use social media and do media interviews, in private sessions at a Hilton casino across the river from Parliament Hill. 

His message seemed primarily directed at David Johnston, the former governor general and now the head of the Leaders’ Debates Commission, hoping to persuade him to change his mind and allow Bernier into the English and French debates to be held in October.

Earlier this month, Johnston wrote to Bernier informing him that, based on current polling numbers and seat projects, he did not think that Bernier had any chance of electing more than one candidate and as a result, the PPC would be excluded from the national stage for failing to meet two of the three criteria for entry.

Johnston’s ruling isn’t yet final and he has asked the People’s Party of Canada to identify three to five ridings where it thinks it can win. Bernier told reporters that his party doesn’t poll and he has no intention of providing Johnston with such a list before week’s end.

Instead, he laid out arguments for why his party should be included on a stage that he judged important to get his party’s across.

Speaking to his supporters, he noted the party already has 40,000 members, and 312 candidates nominated in 338 ridings — more than any other party but the Conservatives.

His party is more relevant than the Green party, he argued, a calling the Greens a single-issue party run by a “climate alarmist who wants to destroy our economy.” He also argued that his party is more relevant than the Bloc Québécois, whose leader was invited to take part in the English debate despite being, what Bernier described as, “irrelevant for the vast majority of Canadians.” 

Bernier also took issue with the NDP, “a zombie party,” as he called them, that wrote to Johnston asking that the PPC be excluded from the debates, because, in their words, it had “not earned the privilege of addressing Canadians directly.”  

PPC leader calls Singh’s criticisms ‘rubbish’

Leader Jagmeet Singh said in the letter that Bernier’s conduct would risk bringing the debates “into disrepute,” because the PPC, he contended,  had courted racists and promoted far-right conspiracy theories. Including Bernier in the debates would give him a platform to promote his “ideology of hatred and intolerance,” Singh wrote.

Bernier dismissed the criticism as “rubbish.”

But without his presence on stage, Bernier told the crowd and journalists, there would be no real debate since the other parties have similar positions  on many policies: immigration, running deficits at least in the short run and support for supply management in the dairy industry.

His is a populist movement, he later explained, like the Brexit party in Britain, which elected 29 members to the European Union Parliament four months after its foundation. He should be judged not on whether his candidates can win seats today, but whether they can win seats on Oct.  21, he said.

 WATCH: Rise of populism in Europe ahead of European Parliament elections


In his response letter to Johnston last week, Bernier noted that Johnston seemed to ignore one of the criteria the commission was said to be weighing, namely evaluating the media presence and visibility of the party and the leader nationwide. 

Bernier couldn’t yet prove it, he said, but he thought it could be demonstrated that the People’s Party of Canada’s national media presence was “superior to that of the NDP and the Green Party, and far superior to that of the Bloc Québécois.” 

Bernier’s comments accusing Scheer’s party of canoodling with “radical Islamists who want to impose their barbaric values on Canada” may have helped achieve that objective and landed him more headlines.

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By The Wall of Law August 19, 2019 Off

The beginner’s guide to opening a pot shop

Glass jar full of Cannabis Sativa
Photo: iStock

So, you want to open up a pot shop.

Perhaps you’re a shopkeeper at heart, drawn to a rare bright spot in a retail landscape mired in doom-and-gloom. Maybe you missed out on the first phase of the green gold rush and you’re looking to make your mark on this (literal) growth industry, knowing it’s a sector where consumers have indicated a preference for buying in-person rather than online. Or maybe you’ve just heard that Canadians bought $85 million dollars’ worth of legal cannabis in May of this year and want your own piece of that green.

Whatever your motivation, getting into cannabis retail is a bit more involved than renting a storefront and deciding precisely which pot pun to use for your business name. (Although if you’re asking, we always thought Portland’s “Gram Central Station” was particularly clever.) From growing to selling to buying, it’s an environment that’s at once highly regulated and unpredictably fluid, a brand-new industry in an endless beta test as governments refine the rules, parameters and processes of accommodating the demand for a product that was illegal less than a year ago. There’s a reason “get a lawyer” is the first piece of advice most people in this business dispense.

And that’s why we’re not claiming that this is a comprehensive guide to opening a pot shop. Rather, it’s a roadmap to pursuing your dream of owning a legal retail cannabis store…and a signposting of the pitfalls to watch out for, lest your dream vanish in a puff of smoke. (Sorry.)

Seek professional help

“For someone coming into this space from a regular retail environment, what they’re walking into is overwhelming,” says Jennifer Caldwell, partner at Cannabis License Experts, a consulting firm that has successfully submitted over 200 cannabis license applications. “I’ve been in this space for seven years and I’m still learning something new every day.”

One of the earliest and best investments in your new venture will be consulting with a lawyer or another pot business professional (like Caldwell) and sticking close to them throughout the long process of launching your cannabis retail empire. The complexity lies in compliance, and the myriad ways in which a cannabis retailer has to adhere to a strict set of guidelines that govern everything from marketing to record keeping, store location to how the cannabis is secured on your premises. There are even rules for how far off the ground your license needs to be displayed.

“It’s not officially in writing anywhere,” says Caldwell, “but from experience working with a regulator, you’re most in danger of losing your license over things that are willful or intentional, like bringing in product from the black market, or selling to minors. Something like one of your security cameras going out and you not notifying someone right away, however, could be just a warning or a write up.” She says that the cost of this compliance is something that would-be business owners need to factor into their business plan. “It isn’t free to be maintaining all of your security, to properly train your staff, to keep up with inventory control,” she says.

Get the green upfront

And while we’re on the topic of money: Caldwell warns that most banks aren’t entertaining business loans for cannabis retailers (deeming it too high risk), and investment is getting more difficult to come by as the industry matures and those early stage investors have already committed themselves to other ventures. This can be a major snag for some folks, since Ontario requires potential permit holders to prove they have access to $250,000 to fund their business before they’ll even consider them in the lottery. If you don’t have that kind of change under the couch cushions, Caldwell says some credit unions have been open to working with potential pot shop owners. Consider asking family and friends to invest (thanks Grandma!) or using a crowdfunding site.

Expect to pay a premium

“We always joke about ‘The Cannabis Tax’,” says Cameron Brown, communications officer at The Hunny Pot, a legal pot shop in Toronto. “Like ‘This is the rent for everyone else, but this is the rent for you as a licensed cannabis retailer’.” Brown says that this “special pricing” crops up in every aspect of doing business, from insurance to banks and landlords who outright refused to work with them. “You just have to navigate through it and find the right companies who will take on your business,” he says.

Obtain a license

Precisely how you get the right to legally sell cannabis varies from province to province to territory. In Ontario, for example, it’s a lottery system, the second round of which is currently underway; meanwhile, Alberta and British Columbia have a rolling application system with no cap, although there’s a limit on how many stores a single entity can own.

It’s also important to note that not everyone is eligible to hold a license. While many offenses (like getting caught with a gram when you were 20) aren’t deal breakers, any involvement in organized crime or drug trafficking is a no-no, as is bankruptcy in certain provinces. Oh, and that’s if the province you wish to operate in even allows private retailers: in Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, all retail outlets are exclusively government run.

Stock your shelves

One of the peculiarities of being a cannabis retailer in Canada is that, in all provinces and territories (bar Saskatchewan), there’s only one place a store can get the goods, and that’s through the province itself. Essentially, you and your competitors all pick from the same catalogue—which means that as a retailer, you’re not going to be able to distinguish yourself by selling “exclusive” strains or brands that other licensed providers don’t have.

Differentiate yourself from the competition

Instead, you have to find other ways to help your biz stand out from the pot shop down the road. For The Hunny Pot, the point of difference lies in how they serve their customers.

“Before we opened, we visited 17 dispensaries in Denver to see how they did things,” says Brown. “16 of them went with a ‘budtender behind a counter’ model, but only one offered an experience where the budtender comes and guides you through the store and gives you information as you explore. We second-guessed ourselves a lot but, in the end, that’s the model we went with, too.”

So far, it’s a one-to-one strategy that appears to have paid off. Some of The Hunny Pot’s 65 “budtenders” have 20 to 30 regulars apiece who visit them multiple times a week for their recommendation of the day—delivered in a compliant way, of course, since the rules stipulate that “we can’t give a positive or negative feeling towards cannabis when we’re talking about it,” says Brown.

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By The Wall of Law August 19, 2019 Off

Wickens calls for end of racing at Pocono Speedway after another crash

The black clouds that enveloped Pocono and officially brought the IndyCar race to a premature end didn’t appear until the halfway point. But they’ve really been hanging over the track since the series returned to the mountains in 2013.

A fatal crash. A promising career wrecked by paralysis. And again Sunday, a first-lap demolition derby that sent another driver to the hospital and stirred an angry mob howling for IndyCar to get the heck out of town once and for all.

It may be a moot point, IndyCar and Pocono don’t have a deal for a 2020 race.

But for Robert Wickens, the Canadian confined to a wheelchair after last year’s accident, IndyCar has no place on the 2 1/2-mile superspeedway.

“How many times do we have to go through the same situation before we can all accept that an IndyCar should not race at Pocono,” he tweeted.

The counter argument was posed from the Australian snapping victory lane photos inside a cramped Pocono media centre as rain pounded the track outside. Will Power was in the right position Sunday to claim the win when lightning struck in the area to not only win the race, he ended the potential for his first winless season since 2006 and he took the checkered flag at Pocono for the third time in four years.

“I really hope we come back, I do,” Power said. “It’s hard for us to find good ovals that suit our cars.”

IndyCar at Pocono has turned into perhaps the scariest race day in auto racing, 500 miles of danger for drivers on the 2 1/2-mile track and white knuckles and clasped hands for anyone watching the event.

Justin Wilson died in 2015 from a head injury after being struck by debris from another car. Wickens was paralyzed in an early-lap accident last year. His car shot into a fence, leaving the promising IndyCar driver paralyzed from the waist down.

The green flag had barely been dropped when 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato used an aggressive – arguably foolish – move to trigger a wreck that sent Felix Rosenqvist to the hospital.

Sato tried to shoot a gap on the first lap, cut off Alexander Rossi and connected with Ryan Hunter-Reay in a crash that left cars and debris strewn across the track. Sato’s car landed upside down on Hunter-Reay’s Honda.

“I can’t even begin to understand how after last year Takuma thinks that’s acceptable,” Rossi said. “It’s disgraceful.”

Rosenqvist hit the fence nose first and his car slammed back on the track. Rosenqvist did not suffer life-threatening injuries and was cleared.

“Definitely feel lucky escaping without any serious injuries after visiting the catch fence there,” he tweeted.

Wickens, who remains resolute in his mission to race again, said on Twitter that IndyCar should no longer race at the track.

“It’s just a toxic relationship and maybe it’s time to consider a divorce,” he wrote. “I’m very relieved (to my knowledge) that everyone is okay from that scary crash.”

Sato pulled out his phone in the paddock and showed frame-by-frame footage from the in-car camera of the incident and said he was going “dead straight” until he brushed Rossi’s Honda which jolted the car down the track.

“So why am I the one to be blamed,” Sato asked.

Sato said he met with IndyCar and the situation would be reviewed.

“They are just on hold at the moment, there’s no judgment,” he said. “They already said there is no punishment.”

James Hinchliffe also was caught up in the crash and served with Rossi a 10-lap penalty because of car repairs under the red flag. The race was stopped for 45 minutes and two minor mesh patches were needed to repair the fence.

Sage Karam, who races sporadically in IndyCar, agreed it was time for the series to move on from Pocono. Karam spun into the wall in the 2015 Pocono race and debris from his car struck Wilson.

“I think the answer is clear that we should not be here. In my opinion that question was answered awhile ago,” Karam wrote. “I think it’s a great track it’s just not meant for indycars. We need to be smart and move on and go to tracks that fit these cars. I love oval racing and want it in Indycar I just simply don’t love Indycar at pocono.”

Rossi, who won Pocono last year, saw his IndyCar championship hopes take a serious blow because of the wreck. He entered just 16 points behind IndyCar points leader Josef Newgarden and fell to 35 points back.

Power raced to his 36th career victory when the race was called with 72 laps left because of lightning and severe weather in the area. The Team Penske driver won the 2014 series championship.

Not long after Power had his win, it started pouring at the track (lightning strikes at Pocono after a rain-shortened NASCAR race killed one fan in 2012) and he was ushered to the media centre for a makeshift podium celebration. Scott Dixon was second and Simon Pagenaud was third. Newgarden, the 2017 series champion, finished fifth.

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By The Wall of Law August 19, 2019 Off