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What Happened Last Week in Canada?

Saint Mary’s University faces outrage over frosh chants

Controversy arose at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax this past weekend after a video emerged featuring student leaders singing a frosh week chant about non-consensual and under-aged sex. Although the video was removed from Instagram where it was originally posted, it has since been made available on other websites.

Jared Perry, president of St. Mary’s University’s student union and one of the orientation leaders who performed the chant, resigned from his position following the incident. Perry apologized for the video, calling it inappropriate. He told the CBC that the incident “was simply a moment with a lack of judgement.” 

The student union apologised for the actions of the orientation leaders, many of whom were remorseful, according to Perry. While some students have remarked that they were not personally offended by the cheer, the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, which is based in Halifax, said it has received calls from distressed survivors of sexual violence who have viewed the video. The centre’s executive director Irene Smith told CBC that Nova Scotia has the highest rate of sexual assault per capita in Canada, and that the chant “reinforces rape culture in our society.” 

Officials from the university have stated that they will conduct a review of the incident that will include recommendations for future precautionary measures.

Third birth control pill recall of the year in Canada

Mylan Pharmaceuticals has announced the recall of another one of the company’s contraceptive medications, Esme-28. Last week, the company stated that it would be recalling Freya-28, a separate type of birth control pills, as one package was discovered to have contained a placebo instead of functional medication.

According to Health Canada, the recall of Esme-28 was a cautionary measure, as it was impossible for Mylan to determine whether Esme-28 had been affected by the same placebo switch as Freya-28. 

This is the third recall of birth control pills in Canada this year, following last April’s recall of Alysena-28, produced by Apotex. Both the public and the medical community have voiced growing concerns about the quality control procedures used in manufacturing these drugs. 

Quebec corruption suspects linked to federal party donations

Last Thursday, the Canadian Press released a report stating that, out of the 102 people charged by Quebec’s anti-corruption police, the Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC), 45 have also made donations to federal political parties. According to the report, the suspects donated over two million dollars to federal parties between 1993 and 2011.

Findings from the inquiry conducted by UPAC suggest that members of companies made donations in order to gain political influence. However, UPAC cannot legally investigate federal donations made by corrupt officials within Quebec, as it only has provincial jurisdiction.

Legislation capping corporate and personal donations was introduced by Jean Chrétien in 2003 and Stephen Harper in 2006 to curb the number of illegal donations to political parties. 

Federal government funds initiative to prevent honour crimes

On Thursday Sept. 5, the federal government announced that it would fund a project aimed at decreasing the number of honour crimes committed in Canada. $306,040 will go towards the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW)’s two-year project aimed at providing women and men across Canada with the training and tools to help Muslim women in their local community who are most at risk for these crimes. 

The project, called Violence Against Women: Health and Justice for Canadian Muslim Women, is a response to the highly publicised honour crimes that have taken place in Canada in recent years. Of the 19 honour killings on record in Canada, 13 have occurred since 2002.

As part of this project, CCMW executive director Alia Hogben is attempting to replace the term “honour killing” with “femicide,” since she said there is no honour in killing women, as the former term suggests.

Tensions at the G20 summit regarding the Syrian crisis

Last Thursday, the G20 summit launched in St. Petersburg, Russia. Regarding the Syrian Civil War, Prime Minister Stephen Harper maintained that Canadian research had indicated that the Assad government used chemical weapons on its people and that backing a United States-led strike against the Assad government is necessary to send a “clear message” that the use of chemical weapons will be punished. 

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird also condemned the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, but appeared doubtful that an agreement would be reached on a plan of action, stating that the G20 is foremost an economic forum. 

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to the Russian president, was critical of investigations led by the United States and told reporters that the evidence used to implicate Assad was “far from convincing.”

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