Europe, Canada and US,

Fans of both musicals and Stephen Harper will find pleasure in Ed Mirvish's “The Heart Of Robin Hood” where the doughty defender of the poor goes after the nasty imperialist interlopers of the legitimate king.

Much as I mourn the unnecessary deaths of Canadian soldiers Richelieu and Doiron last week, I am angered not by Iraqis, who are doing whatever they do to drive the unwelcome guests out of their country. It is Harper, seeing a political fillip in the making that is the cause of their deaths.

Thanks to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s extremism—total subservience to the US and Israel Middle East agenda—Canada now has a thriving Muslim-based extremism. This is a truly frightening development, and the situation will only get worse. The apocalypse will surely come, all Jews will ‘make aliyah’ to Israel, and all evangelical Christians will go to heaven. Hallelujah.

Last week’s hit-and-run killing of a Canadian soldier in a Quebec town by Martin Couture-Rouleau, and the shooting death of the War Memorial guard on Parliament Hill in Ottawa by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, were the worst incidents of terrorism since 1989, when 14 women were shot at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in Canada’s worst mass shooting. Both attackers were recent converts to Islam. Both were among 90 people being tracked by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on suspicion of planning to join jihadists in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Both recently had their passports confiscated, forcing them to turn their frustrations against local military targets.

On June 16, Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially approved Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project to the Pacific coast to export tar sands oil, just days before Canada’s Supreme Court wrapped up its deliberations on the Tsilhqot’in Nation land claim. Coincidence? Or attempted arm twisting?

The government insists that the pipeline project is of vital national import and is environmentally sound (read: overriding any native sovereignty complaints). The hope was that the Supreme Court justices would soft-pedal native claims and leave room for the government to use its majority to push through its tar sands agenda before the next federal election, leaving a fait accompli.

The show trials—past and current—of the legendary Finsbury Park imam, Egyptian-born British citizen Abu Hamza al-Masri, are a travesty of justice.

Hamza (b. 1958) was arrested by British police in 2004 when the US was trying to extradite him, and in 2006 a British court sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment. After serving his time, he is now being paraded in a New York courtroom as a “terrorist facilitator with a global reach”, accused of plotting to set up a terror camp in rural Oregon (though he had never been in the US before the current trial), and providing a satellite phone to the eventual kidnapper of British and Australian tourists in Yemen in 1998 (was the British prosecutor napping in 2006?).

Hamza, disdainfully called the Hook by the tabloid press in allusion to the fictional pirate-villain Captain Hook, lost his hands and one eye in jihad-related activity in Afghanistan (possibly training to build bombs), when it was the West’s policy to support jihadists of all colors in such activities. He—inconveniently—did not abandon his militancy when Soviet troops left Afghanistan, and preached fiery sermons as the imam at Finsbury Park mosque in London from 1996 until he was ousted in 2003, after which he defiantly continued to hold services on the street outside the mosque.

The writing is on the wall for Columbus Day. In the latest move to rid the calendar of its day of infamy, in April, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. Many American Indians have long resisted the observance of a day to honor Christopher Columbus.

Since 1970, the holiday has been fixed to the second Monday in October, coincidentally the same day as Thanksgiving in Canada—another holiday of dubious origins from the native point of view. Most states celebrate Columbus Day as an official state holiday, though already many states are uncomfortable with the reality of Columbus, and mark it as a “Day of Observance” or “Recognition”.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here