By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
But with a clear question, 50 per cent plus one becomes the unambiguous and democratic expression of the electorate. As the Supreme Court made clear, if we agree that Canada must be held together by motivating its people to stay together, and not by force, then there is no other path. So how do we so motivate them? For one thing, we pass clear laws that avoid the kind of arbitrary after-the-fact shifting of the goalposts that has been met with such anger by Quebeckers. Independentists in Quebec have few effective battle horses left, which is why they’re trying to exploit this issue, as we see with the Bloc Québécois motion in the House of Commons.
As a federalist, my message to all Canadians who want this country to stay together is simple: Let’s not help the Bloc by perpetuating the confusions of the Clarity Act. This is why I believe that rewriting this act to add clarity is helpful to the cause of unity. But Mr. Scott and the NDP go further with their bill: In an innovation that has been mostly overlooked by the media so far, the bill also draws a road map for Quebeckers to seek constitutional change within Confederation. This addition is important and puts into law the commitment Mr. Layton made during the last election: creating the winning conditions for Canada in Quebec.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 9:25 PM - 0 Comments
Cindor Reeves, once the brother-in-law of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, and the man who risked his life to bring Taylor to justice, has been granted landed immigrant status in the Netherlands.
Reeves helped Taylor run guns and diamonds between Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s and 2000s. He has never denied this. Then, at great risk to himself and without asking for anything in return, he helped the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone build its case against Taylor. Taylor is currently serving a 50-year sentence for aiding and abetting war crimes, including murder, terror, and rape.
Reeves was initially put under witness protection in Holland and then Germany, but took his family to Canada on his own accord and in doing so lost the Special Court’s protection.
He lived here for six years and left in 2012, following a deportation order against him. Canada alleged he had been involved in crimes against humanity though it could not produce a shred of evidence that he had ever personally harmed anyone. Prosecutors at the Special Court were explicit that they would never had considered charging Reeves, regardless of the help he gave them. Reeves didn’t receive immunity because of the risks he took on the court’s behalf.
Reeves’ wife and children remain in Canada. This country granted them refugee status on the grounds that their relationship with Reeves would endanger their lives if they returned to Liberia, where Taylor still has allies. Canada didn’t extend this consideration to Reeves himself.
Reeves is 40 years old. He’s starting his life over for at least the fourth time. Canada, to its shame, denied him a chance to do so here. The Netherlands, to its credit, has shown more honour and morality than Ottawa.
By Michael Petrou - Monday, June 25, 2012 at 5:18 PM - 0 Comments
A former Liberian army rebel commander accused of war crimes is under investigation in Canada
A former commander in a rebel Liberian army whose alleged war crimes were first exposed in Maclean’s is under investigation by Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program, a collaborative unit consisting of the RCMP, the Department of Justice, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Bill Horace fought in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), a militia founded and led by Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia who was recently sentenced to 50 years in prison by a United Nations-backed war crimes court. In March 2010, Maclean’s published evidence gathered from alleged eyewitnesses and former associates of Charles Taylor and Bill Horace, as well as witness statements given to Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission—all implicating Bill Horace and men under his command in horrendous atrocities. Horace arrived in Canada about a decade ago and is today living freely in Toronto. When first contacted by Maclean’s in 2009, Horace admitted membership in the NPFL but rebuffed or ignored subsequent attempts to interview him. None of the allegations against him has been proven in court.
One of Horace’s alleged victims, a man named John Harmon, told Maclean’s about a day in 1993 when Horace and men under his commander confronted Harmon and other hungry civilians who were foraging for oil palm fruit at an abandoned plantation near the town of Pleebo, close to the border with Ivory Coast.
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 10:53 AM - 0 Comments
A summary of the sentencing is here.
Maclean’s coverage of Taylor and the beginning of the trial can be read here.
Maclean’s coverage of Taylor’s former brother-in-law, Cindor Reeves, who helped build the case against Taylor and was then abandoned by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and by Canada, can be read here.
Maclean’s article about Bill Horace, an alleged war criminal and former Taylor commander, can be read here.
By Richard Warnica - Monday, May 7, 2012 at 10:41 AM - 0 Comments
Vancouver’s pot-friendly mayor, Dr. Seuss’s trouble-making turtle, and Obama’s ‘really big stick’
Winning a big lottery jackpot once is improbable. Twice? That’s near impossible. But don’t tell that to Virginia Fike. The Berryville, Va., woman bought two winning tickets to a single Powerball draw recently. Each one was worth a cool US$1 million. After taxes, Fike will take home about US$1.4 million—not a bad haul for what started as a stop at the gas station. Fike found out she’d won while visiting her mother in the hospital. She plans to spend the money on her parents and bills.
Pipelines, no. Pot farms, yes.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has come a long way from the juice farm. The former organic smoothie magnate has an iron grip on city hall. Now he’s flexing his political muscle outside his own jurisdiction. Robertson wrote a comment piece for the Vancouver Sun urging the federal government to think twice about a proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion that could nearly triple the number of oil tankers off Vancouver’s coast. Days later, he added his name to an open letter calling for the legalization and taxation of marijuana. Seven other B.C. mayors also signed the letter, but Robertson’s name was by far the most prominent on the page.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
Charles Taylor’s conviction at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone is a partial victory for justice and for the countries Taylor traumatized: Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The Court found Taylor, a former warlord and then president of Liberia, guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes — including terror, murder, and rape — because of his support for rebel groups in Sierra Leone, including the Revolutionary United Front, a marauding gang of psychopaths and child soldiers that he created to destabilize the country and ensure a flow of blood diamonds into Liberia.
The wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone were sordid almost beyond description. Children fought them. They involved cannibalism and sex slavery, mass rapes and voodoo. Little boys went into battle with sticks they pretended were guns and fluorescent wigs they thought would stave off bullets.
Detritus from the wars washed up in Canada. Maclean’s revealed that one of Charles Taylor’s former commanders named Bill Horace, implicated in multiple war crimes, was living freely in Canada. When old Nazi collaborators are found here, our government responds. It’s big news. Not so when an alleged African war criminal is discovered. The Maclean’s story was published and all-but ignored. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 1:57 PM - 0 Comments
The text of an open letter released by the Mulcair campaign from Charles Taylor, the political philosopher and professor (and mentor to Jack Layton).
This weekend in Quebec City Thomas Mulcair pulled off another acclaimed performance in the latest debate of the NDP leadership race–the first NDP leadership debate held in French. Tom was in command of the facts, in command of the language and in command of the stage. He once again showed why his candidacy is gaining so much support across the country.
But today I’m writing to you about my own reasons for supporting Tom. This leadership race has attracted several fine candidates, but having known Tom for many years, I have two reasons for backing his candidacy:
First, Tom has made an invaluable contribution to the establishing our party here in Quebec, thanks to his exceptional ability to listen and his sensitivity to the needs and aspirations of his constituents. Looking ahead I think his presence is essential for the party to maintain its momentum–especially after the loss of our extraordinary leader, Jack Layton.
But my main reason for supporting Tom is that I believe he is best equipped to convince Canadian voters of the merits of the NDP’s program–as well as the adverse consequences and dangerous policies of the current government.
Tom’s tremendous success here in Quebec is a testament to his abilities as a leader–abilities that will serve him well in every region of the country.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 9:26 PM - 0 Comments
Cindor Reeves, a man who risked his life to bring one of the most blood-soaked tyrants of the last 25 years to justice, has left Canada following a deportation order against him.
Reeves was once the brother-in-law of Charles Taylor, a Liberian warlord and then president of the country who is now on trial in The Hague, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Taylor is there in large part because Cindor Reeves helped the Special Court for Sierra Leone build its case against him. Reeves did this at great personal risk, and without asking for anything in return. The Special Court put Reeves and his family in a witness protection program in Europe. Unhappy there, Reeves came to Canada and applied for refugee status. When he did so, Reeves lost the protection of the Special Court, which effectively abandoned him. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 7, 2011 at 12:03 PM - 2 Comments
The Literary Review of Canada excerpts Jack Layton’s foreword to a new book about Charles Taylor, George Grant and CB Macpherson.
Tommy Douglas understood that our human journey had to be a collective project, something we would, could and should do together for and with each other, as a community of free individuals. Freedom, in this view—an idealist view—has enormous positive potential, not just for individuals but for all people as part of a fabric of diverse communities. Obvious questions flow. How can the pursuit of what would be right and good for the whole community be sought, at the same time, by each free and independent individual? How can a group effort not limit liberty but rather enhance it?
The idealist current holds that human society has the potential to achieve liberty when people work together to form a society in which equality means more than negative liberty, the absolute and protected right to run races against each other to determine winners. Idealists imagine a positive liberty that enables us to build together toward common objectives that fulfill and even surpass our individual goals.
By John Geddes - Friday, September 2, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 19 Comments
An activist and an intellectual, Layton was the rare politician whose passion came from deep within
About a month after he led the NDP to its election breakthrough last May 2, Jack Layton was still at a loss to explain what had really happened on the campaign trail. The game-changing outcome was plain enough: his New Democrats had vaulted into second place for the first time ever, ahead of the Liberals. But what alchemy had occurred in the minds of so many Canadian voters, especially in Quebec, for Layton’s personal appeal to lift his party to government-in-waiting status?
Layton, a meticulous political pro who never went into an interview without a firm fix on what he wanted to say, for once seemed stymied by the question. “I’d go into the crowds and people would stop and have a word. There were a lot of personal words—I don’t know,” he said when Maclean’s asked him back in early June what had been different this time around. “There was certainly enthusiasm, but something deeper. I haven’t put my finger on the emotions, but there were more emotions there than in previous campaigns.”
More than even he might have realized. After his death last week following his swift second bout with cancer, those emotions found release as a national torrent of grief. And Layton had applied himself in his last days to channelling the outpouring to come. In an extraordinary merging of the deeply personal and frankly political, he worked with his advisers to ensure that his death drew attention to the convictions that drove him in life. Both the farewell letter they drafted and the funeral they planned aimed to inspire social democrats. Friends and family had often said that trying to draw a line between Layton’s public and private sides was difficult. In his passing, they became indistinguishable.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 4:50 PM - 0 Comments
Since beginning four years ago to dig into the story of Cindor Reeves — the man who helped bring former Liberian president and warlord Charles Taylor to trial in The Hague, and whom Canada is now deporting — I have occasionally worried that there might be some missing piece of the puzzle that I didn’t have. Perhaps the government has information about Reeves that would explain its determination to send him back to Liberia, where he faces murder, other than incompetence, malice, and a perverted sense of justice. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Monday, June 13, 2011 at 2:29 PM - 6 Comments
Cindor Reeves, the Canadian refugee claimant who risked his life to help build the legal case against his brother-in-law, the former Liberian warlord and president Charles Taylor, has received a removal order from the Canada Border Services Agency and may shortly be deported. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 11:27 AM - 2 Comments
The Dalai Lama retires, Charles Taylor just can’t get a fair shake, and a billionaire divorcee goes broke
The best politics is no politics
Given his status as a revered spiritual leader, retirement was never really an option for the Dalai Lama. But the 76-year-old’s decision to formally relinquish his political duties to an elected member of Tibet’s government-in-exile could prove to have a meaningful impact on his followers. He revealed his intentions on the 52nd anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, with elections to take place on March 20. By making good on a long-held promise, the Dalai Lama seeks to modernize the Tibetan movement while simultaneously making it more difficult for the Chinese government to capitalize on any power vacuum in the wake of his death.
How to spend a billion
She was dubbed “the wealthiest divorcee in history,” and Patricia Kluge‘s divorce spoils were rivalled only by those of Anna Murdoch, ex-wife of Rupert, and Slavica Ecclestone, ex-wife of Formula One boss Bernie. Kluge was believed to have received over US$1 billion in her 1990 divorce from media mogul John Kluge, which was reportedly amicable. Easy come, easy go. A series of bad business ventures followed, including a critically admired winery that supplied the wine for Chelsea Clinton‘s wedding last year. This week the 62-year-old’s mansion was foreclosed, her vineyard seized, and her jewels, artwork and artifacts sold. The US$3.8 million she got for a Qing dynasty clock (among other assets) wasn’t enough; Kluge is in debt to the tune of US$69 million. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 1:10 PM - 17 Comments
The tribunal officer assigned by the Immigration and Refugee Board to the case of Cindor Reeves, former brother-in-law of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, judged him to be a credible witness whose exclusion from refugee protection in Canada would be “morally questionable.”
A tribunal officer is an IRB employee whose role “is not to oppose, or to support, the refugee claim, but to help ensure that all relevant information is before the member to decide the claim.” In his written observations of the case, Richard Henderson argued against excluding Reeves from refugee protection because of his alleged involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity:
“A restrictive or narrow interpretation of the exclusion clauses is particularly warranted in this case, not just because, as I will suggest in the next section, Mr. Reeves would be in extreme danger should he return to Liberia, but also because it is precisely Mr. Reeves’ involuntary and minor involvement in the weapons for diamonds trade that allowed him to gather the kind of ‘high value’ intelligence that played a key role in ultimately bringing down Charles Taylor. To exclude him because of this involvement would seem to be both morally questionable, a sentiment expressed in the Maclean’s articles, and inconsistent with the intent of the exclusion clauses, i.e. they were surely not meant to exclude individuals who were, in effect, acting as double agent.”
Reeves’ refugee case is different than most because the Canadian government — through the minister for public safety — intervened to argue against his appeal for refugee protection. Continue…
By the editors - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 2:39 PM - 35 Comments
Once upon a time, governments consulted with those affected, commissioned reports and weighed their options
As might be expected, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a lot on his mind these days. We know this from recent postings to his Twitter account. Last week, for example, he wished everyone a “Happy Lunar New Year!” Before that he passed along Christmas greetings from “Rachel, Ben, Laureen and myself” and congratulated Ontario-born baseball player Joey Votto on being named National League MVP. Oh yes, he also rewrote the nation’s Internet policy. All in 140 characters.
Twitter is the popular social networking tool that allows users to send out short, frequent blasts of information. Celebrities, sports stars and anyone else who sees a need to provide continual updates on their latest thoughts and activities have flocked to Twitter. Add politicians to this list as well.
Harper has been tweeting since September 2008. Many of his cabinet ministers and parliamentary rivals tweet as well. As a marketing and networking tool, Twitter has become useful, perhaps even necessary, to the business of politics. But is this how Canadians expect their government to make policy? Is it possible to rule a country 140 characters at a time?
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 2:10 PM - 28 Comments
In the last three weeks, Cindor Reeves’ relatives in Liberia have been attacked by men looking for him and his wife. They abducted four children who are still missing. The following email is from his mother-in-law:
I don’t know if I will be alive before this message reach you. Last night some arm man came to my house,and toke my four ( 4) children away. They came and met some people in the house and wanted to know where C.R and [...] are,when they could’nt get good result then they ask for me and make a statement saying we will kill those ungratful people starting with that socall mother in law [...] .Atthat moment, I wos able to recongnize the voice of one.This follow came to the house as asympthizer, He repeated we will kill them know matter what. By the grace of God I was able run through the bathroom window with alappl and a T shirt,Leaving my children behind dont know their where about now.If Ishould survie it will be by the grace of God.You people force me to come back to Liberia saying Liberia was save for me now see what is happening to me? now where will I run to or find my kids
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 8:02 AM - 0 Comments
Colleagues in the Maclean’s Ottawa bureau can attest to the fact that during the almost four years that I have been writing about Cindor Reeves, I have often fumed and ranted about the fact that other Canadian media refused to follow this magazine’s lead on the story. I’m pleased that changed this week. Here’s the Vancouver Sun’s take.
In other developments, Rick Dykstra, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s parliamentary press secretary, tells the Toronto Star’s Tonda MacCharles that Reeves has not given the government permission to speak about his case. This is not true. Reeves may not have given the government permission to speak to the Toronto Star. But Reeves provided the government with written permission to talk to me about the case in 2009. After demanding such permission as a precondition to talking, the government still refused to say anything. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 3:29 PM - 17 Comments
The Globe’s editorial is based entirely on my articles and blog posts, although they don’t acknowledge as much. I admit I find this bothersome, but am pleased other media are now following the story.
The CBC’s interview with Reeves and with Alan White, former chief of investigations for the Special Court, meanwhile, is now available online.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 6:01 AM - 70 Comments
I’ve been trying to get a response from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on the impending deportation of Cindor Reeves since Monday. Reeves is the former brother-in-law of Charles Taylor, who brutalized Liberia and, through a proxy army, neighbouring Sierra Leone, for more than a decade. Reeves smuggled guns and diamonds for Taylor before secretly turning against him to cooperate with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is now trying Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague. Reeves asked for and received nothing for his work with the Special Court, which was crucial to building a case against Taylor. His life has been threatened multiple times since, and there is good reason to believe he will be murdered by Taylor loyalists if he is returned to Liberia.
Generally, when this government wants to avoid answering difficult questions, their response to media inquiries follows a predictable pattern. You, as a journalist will never actually talk to someone who will answer your questions. You pose your questions to one person; someone else emails you statements that have little relation to the questions you asked.
Given the injustice and hypocrisy this case entails, as well as the fact that a man’s life may soon end because of the Immigration and Refugee Board’s decision, I had expected something more. I shouldn’t have. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Friday, January 28, 2011 at 11:44 AM - 40 Comments
Cindor Reeves, a man largely responsible for bringing to justice one of the most blood-soaked tyrants in recent history, has had his refugee case rejected by Canada and may soon be deported to his native Liberia, where he runs a high risk of being murdered.
Reeves was the brother-in-law of Charles Taylor, who in 1989 launched a civil war in Liberia that killed more than 200,000 and left Taylor in charge of much of the country. Taylor was elected president during a brief lull in the fighting in 1997. Taylor also created a proxy army in neighbouring Sierra Leone that called itself the Revolutionary United Front, or RUF. The RUF’s child soldiers terrorized Sierra Leone for years. Taylor used them to obtain diamonds. He sent the RUF weapons; they sent him gems. Thousands died as a result.
It is for these crimes the Taylor is now on trial in The Hague. He’s there in large part because Cindor Reeves — of his own volition, without receiving anything, and at enormous risk to himself — helped the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone build its case against Taylor.
“I am willing to go on the record and confirm that CR provided invaluable information that led to the indictment of Charles Taylor and others who were ultimately convicted,” Alan White, chief of investigations for the court from 2002 to 2005, said in a 2009 email that was published in Maclean’s. He further explained Reeves’ help in a 2009 affidavit: “I could always rely on the information and support provided by Mr. Reeves. In his effort to bring peace and security to the region he endangered himself and his family, yet he did so willingly without asking anything in return but for protection for his family. The court owes Mr. Reeves a debt of gratitude for his support and service.”
"[People were] begging him while the executions were going on. It's a horrible thing to talk about."
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 1:58 PM - 5 Comments
My story about Bill Horace, a Toronto man who has been accused by multiple witnesses and sources of war crimes and crimes against humanity, has been posted on our website.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 11:33 AM - 19 Comments
A Liberian man accused of horrific war crimes is alive and well in Canada
A former commander in a rebel Liberian army who has been accused by multiple witnesses and former associates of war crimes and crimes against humanity is living freely in Toronto.
Bill Horace was a general in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, a militia that gathered in neighbouring Ivory Coast and invaded Liberia in 1989, plunging the country into more than a decade of intermittent war. That conflict killed tens of thousands and featured the widespread use of child soldiers and mass atrocities against civilians—including sexual slavery, cannibalism, and indiscriminate slaughter. Charles Taylor, who led that army and was eventually elected president before being forced from office in 2003, is now on trial in The Hague on war crimes charges.
Maclean’s spoke with Bill Horace in early 2009. “Yes, I was with NPFL. Of course I was NPFL,” he said during a brief telephone conversation, referring to the National Patriotic Front of Liberia by its initials. Horace said he would speak about his time in the NPFL at a later date, but then ignored numerous messages left on his phone or with his former wife. Reached by phone this January, he refused to discuss his past and said his lawyer would call.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 11:37 AM - 8 Comments
It can be lonely writing about and covering wars and humans rights atrocities in Africa. Nobody really cares – at least not as much as they might had the victims been from almost anywhere else on the planet.
Consider the coverage afforded to the civil wars in Liberia and in the former Yugoslavia. They happened at around the same time. More died in Liberia. How many reading this even know that Liberia was consumed by a horrific, anarchic conflict for much of the 1990s?
It was, and so was next door Sierra Leone. Charles Taylor – first a warlord and then president of Liberia – is now on trial in The Hague for his role in the latter conflict. He’s on the stand now. The Special Court for Sierra Leone is posting daily transcripts. They’re worth reading.
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 4:20 PM - 1 Comment
Alfred Sirleaf provides Liberians with their news via chalkboard
Every day at 7 a.m., you can find Alfred Sirleaf working inside a small shack on a busy street corner in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. He reads the papers, consults with his small staff of reporters, and checks text messages from tipsters around the country. Then he picks up a piece of chalk, goes outside, and writes the day’s news headlines in large, clear letters on a blackboard facing the street. He may be the world’s only analog blogger.
Sirleaf’s been running his blackboard newspaper, called “The Daily Talk,” since 2000. Back then, the media was heavily censored under Charles Taylor’s repressive regime. “We had a system in Liberia where a few people reigned and made decisions for the masses,” Sirleaf says. “That’s what inspired me to figure out how to communicate with the people.” The government wasn’t happy with him. The blackboard was destroyed—twice—and Sirleaf was thrown in jail and eventually forced into exile. When a media-friendly government replaced Taylor in 2003, Sirleaf returned to rebuild his news empire. Continue…