The Walrus Blog’s weekly roundup of foreign and domestic affairs
On Monday, Algerian prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that the terrorists who laid siege to a Saharan natural gas facility last week were from Egypt, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Tunisia, and Canada.
According to Sellal, Mokhtar Belmoktar—a militant Salafist who is known to have fought in Afghanistan in the ’90s—orchestrated the “botched” attack on Tigantourine gas plant. Nearly 100 of the 132 foreign workers at the plant were kidnapped. Twenty-three captives have since been killed, and some hostages are still missing.
Stephen Harper’s office announced that it hasn’t received proof of Sellal’s assertion that two Canadians were among the twenty-nine militants killed by the Algerian army’s rescue mission. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called the claim “completely incomprehensible,” though Ray Boisvert, former assistant director of Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told CBC News that more than fifty Canadian passport holders “who have either left the country or who have attempted to leave the country to engage in some form of violent jihad or… activism leading to violence.”
Also this week, in East Asia, North Korea said it would carry out a third prohibited nuclear test, despite financial and food sanctions imposed by a UN security resolution. The tests are supposedly aimed at perfecting a tiny nuclear warhead that will be light enough to reach the country’s “sworn enemy”—our neighbours, the United States of America.
Chief Theresa Spence ended her six-week-long, liquids-only fast yesterday, but vowed to continue fighting for First Nation treaty and non-treaty rights. Spence agreed to eat solids after Liberal and National Democratic Party allies signed a thirteen-point declaration committed to addressing Canadian Aboriginal concerns, including: improving education and housing infrastructure, tackling violence against Native women, and implementing the United Nations declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples.
Meanwhile, an invasive species has infiltrated Canadian currency. Our new plastic bills depict an Acer platanoides, or Norwegian Maple leaf, rather than a North American one. Gawker took the opportunity to inform its readers that “Canada can’t do anything right.”
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that common-law couples in Quebec are not entitled to the same rights as married couples when they split up. The case at hand, called Lola vs. Eric, began when “Lola” demanded alimony from “Eric” after the end of their seven-year relationship. The court ruled to maintain the freedom of couples who choose not to marry, rather than protect those who end up in failed relationships. Quebec remains the only province that does not automatically recognize common-law couples, despite the fact that almost one million Quebecers are living in common-law relationships and about 60 percent of the province’s children are born to unmarried couples, according to the 2011 census.
A Divisional Court panel ruled today that Rob Ford can keep his job for another two years. Toronto’s mayor will hang on until the completion of his term, or the next “conspiracy” to oust him, whichever comes first. The decision reversed a November ruling that would have booted Ford from office for voting to excuse himself from repaying the $3,150 he gathered from lobbyists for his charitable football foundation. The panel ruled that Toronto’s city council did not have the authority to make Ford repay the money—instead, they could either reprimand him or withhold his salary. Ford told reporters at a press conference that he plans to stick around for the next six years.