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Contract between Saudi Arabia and Canada ‘frustrating’

With the revelation of the killing of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in Saudi Arabia’s consulate, Turkey, there is increasing pressure for Canada to cancel its contract for sale of light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while Canada has condemned the killing of the journalist and is not afraid to freeze permits on arms exports, the contracts that bind them to supply LAVs to Saudi Arabia are very difficult to break.

Speaking to Matt Galloway on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Tuesday, Trudeau explained that the way the previous Conservative government negotiated the contract made it very frustratingly difficult to suspend and prevented disclosure of conditions.

“The contract signed by the previous government, by Stephen Harper, makes it very difficult to suspend or leave that contract,” Trudeau said. “We are looking at a number of things, but it is a difficult contract.

“I actually can’t go into it, because part of the deal on this contract is not talking about this contract, and it’s one of the binds that we are left in because of the way that the contract was negotiated.”

Germany  has already stopping its arms sales in light of the incident and other countries, and  are working to figure out what kind of diplomatic and economic pressure could be applied to Saudi Arabia to make it clear that the apparent murder of the once Saudi royal family insider within the walls of the Saudi embassy in Turkey is unacceptable.

The world has of course noticed that Canada, which has had a very serious rift with the kingdom, beginning earlier this year, when the government publicly criticized the arrests of women’s rights activities, is still sanctioning the military deal.

While Trudeau said the government was not afraid to suspend military export permits like they had in the past, he explained that this contract could have more of a back lash on Canada and they were doing their due diligence with looking into the matter.

“I do not want to leave Canadians holding a billion dollar bill because we’re trying to move forward on doing the right thing. So we are navigating this very carefully and that’s pretty much all I can say on that.” said Trudeau.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has made it very clear that Canada condemns the killing of the journalist and that the Saudis’ “explanations” of the killing of Khashoggi “lack consistency and credibility.”

She has also agreed with the federal government’s call for a thorough investigation in collaboration with Turkish officials, demanding a full and transparent investigation.

“We are gravely concerned by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” she said. “We do not find the explanations that have been offered to date to be credible or consistent. That is a serious problem for Canada.” She said.

However, while the Opposition is calling for government to invoke the new Magnitsky law  which gives the government the authority to freeze Canadian assets of foreign individuals who have violated human rights, to sanction those responsible for Khashoggi’s death, there is as yet no concrete word on whether that is the course Canada will take.

 

Newsgirls boxing club is a knockout as trauma based therapy

Violence often leaves women feeling numb. That is how it felt for me. Slowly but surely, some people learn to feel normal. Others feel constantly hurt and then one day, they may not feel at all. Though emotions can be cumbersome, not having them is hauntingly worse. The moment arrives when you have finally found a safer place in your life, escaped the violence you once lived in, and you want to feel emotions. It becomes essential to feel again, but how can you?

Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club gives women a safe way to take control of their body and begin the process of feeling again. Located in one of the industrial buildings on Carlaw, just north of Dundas, the boxing gym features images of strong-looking women boxing in a modest studio, with a a ring and several gym bags surrounding it. Immediately upon entering the gym, the coaches and participants are welcoming and warm. I felt at home right away.

Three women began Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club 10 years ago to help those who had experienced violence using trauma-based boxing. Owner and coach Savoy Howe, along with Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Brock University Cathy Van Ingen, and Opportunity for Advancement Executive Director, Joanne Green, founded the Shape your Life program (SYL) within the club.  This program is designed to help women who have experienced trauma find a connection to their bodies once again through exercise and empowerment.

“The big thing is it is a safe space. It is a space to ensure everybody is welcome and everyone is safe,” Van Ingen said. “That is the biggest thing and we know that women need to feel that their bodies are in control.”

On Nov. 25, also known as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Newsgirls announced that the SYL program would be receiving $420,000 from the Public Health Agency of Canada.  The Prime Minister himself sent the boxing studio a video of congratulations and support.

@newsgirlsboxing I’m sorry I couldn’t be there today. I’m in your corner & hope to train with you soon! À bientôt. pic.twitter.com/AiZtkAUsDS

One of the rare and amazing things at Newsgirls is the community and support network that Howe has managed to create with the other coaches and women who participate. The gym is not only a place to box, but it is also a safe haven where these women can really be themselves. Women participating in the SYL program will learn boxing techniques, which can help reconnect them with their bodies in an empowered way. Being able to embrace anger in a controlled manner using your own body is a helpful tool in the healing process from domestic violence. The program also provides TTC tokens, free food, and endless amounts of support from the coaches and women who attend.

Program Coordinator, Tania Jivraj began SYL 10 years ago as a participant in the first pilot program and now helps to run the program today. Jivraj is one of many examples of women that are forever changed from taking part in the trauma-based boxing program. “It turns out I like hitting stuff. It turns out I’m good at hitting stuff. It turns out I am angry, I’m a fighter, I am vulnerable, and I am strong,” Jivraj said. “Ten years later, I was hired as the program coordinator and I get to work every day with strong, vulnerable women.”

Owner and Coach Savoy Howes speaking on November 25 at $420,000 funding annoucement. Photo by Kaeleigh Phillips.
Owner/Coach Savoy Howes speaks on Nov. 25 at $420,000 funding announcement. Photo by Kaeleigh Phillips.

Newsgirls will use the federal funding to collect data from the next six groups of SYL and then create a trauma-based boxing manual to be implemented in other gyms across the country. “Our goal for Shape your Life is to implement in other regions of Canada as well as around the world,” Howe said. By researching and collecting the stories of women who participate in the program, it will allow the women at Newsgirls to make an effective and life-changing program to combat the damaging impacts of violence against women.

On a personal level, the program’s new funding allows me to continue attending and growing as a recovering woman who has a desire to reconnect with her emotions and body. I have a long way to go to deal with my own inner battles and boxing is the first step. It takes courage to put on boxing gloves, and it is truly empowering to see other women show their anger in such a constructive and open manner. I look forward to continuing my journey in learning to fight for what’s really important in life.