Editorials - Dec. 2, 2022
Too big to ignore
Government officials in China are having difficulty suppressing widespread protests that have erupted across the country. Its citizens are fed up with draconian lockdowns and President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy. Protests against the government have been rare under the Communist system, and usually the government has been able to stamp them out quickly and forcefully. This time it feels like there is much more widespread dissent spreading through the nation. At least 20 protests have been confirmed in more than 15 cities and universities, with thousands of people participating in each. While the crowds began protesting the lockdowns, it quickly spread to broad criticisms of the government and Xi. The people of China are not only demanding freedom from the lockdowns that are causing more deaths than they are preventing, they are finally also demanding political freedom.
There is no party atmosphere in the Chinese protests - no barbeques, bouncy castles or coolers of beer. Unlike their Canadian counterparts, Chinese protestors are facing the real possibility of a violent suppression of their protests with police forces being deployed and online censorship being beefed up. So far the police have limited their interaction, but the track record of the Chinese government does not bode well for how long they will sit back and allow this kind of opposition to take root.
Canadian mandates and lockdowns had already begun to be lifted by the time the Ottawa protest came to pass, so the occupation of the capital seemed more like a punctuation mark rather than a catalyst. The COVID-19 lockdowns, mass testing and surveillance in China may be the catalyst to a much larger desire for real political change and freedom. – DS
The beautiful blackout
This year’s World Cup in Qatar has been one of the most controversial sporting events in recent memory, largely because of the Qatari views on LGBTQ and women’s rights, both of which clash heavily with the views of much of the soccer-playing world. However, the politicized nature of some of the coverage has been noteworthy.
In China, for example, government-controlled television has been creatively editing footage from Qatar that clashing with its own “Zero-COVID Policy”. Whenever the cameras cut to swaths of unmasked fans in the stands enjoying the action, China’s broadcaster has injected close-ups of action on the field or coaches on the sidelines.
Iran has also had a strange time at the World Cup. The players did not sing the national anthem ahead of their game against England as a form of protest against the country’s government. Those watching in Iran wouldn’t know this, however, as the state broadcaster cut away from the players during the anthem to show shots of those in the crowd.
The U.S. is also in hot water with the government of Iran after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran’s flag on its social media platforms, omitting the emblem of the Islamic Republic as a show of support for the protests there after the death of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s mandatory hijab law.
A sporting event that brings the world together always runs the risk of the consequences of, well, bringing the world together. This year’s event is showing that state-run broadcasters can shape the narrative of something as innocuous as a soccer game to fit its message. – SL
A promise is a promise
Left, right, or centrist, one thing a politician needs to do to retain support is to keep their promises and that’s a lesson our current Premier Doug Ford seems to have forgotten.
With the passing of the hotly-contested Bill 23, which local municipalities were already fearing for the rights it strips from them, Ford and his government are accepting public feedback on amendments to the act, which would allow developers to build on 7,400 acres that would have the protection of the act stripped from them. In lieu of that land, 9,400 acres will be swapped elsewhere. This is despite the fact that Ford, in 2018 and again in 2020, promised there would be no building on the Greenbelt and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark saying there would be no “land swaps” within the Greenbelt, which is exactly what’s happening.
Why would Ford go back on his word? Well, Oliver Moore and Jill Mahoney of The Globe and Mail think it might have to do with the fact that, in 2018, a number of developers with ties to Ford’s PC Party of Ontario purchased land that will be developable if the land swap takes place. The two journalists have found out that a number of developers who own land within the soon-to-be-stripped section of the Greenbelt either donated to the party, hired lobbyists or both.
Regardless of the reason, Ford is breaking his promise to protect the farmland and green spaces in the Greenbelt, which should be concerning to all of Ontario, but especially rural and agricultural communities. Who knows where Conservative Party donors are suddenly going to find “protected” land to buy next? – JDS