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Political junkies across Canada closely watch U.S. midterm elections at viewing parties – National




American expatriates and political junkies crowded a university library in Toronto and other venues across Canada on Tuesday to watch the incoming results of the crucial U.S. midterm congressional elections, viewed by a deeply polarized electorate as a referendum on U.S. President Donald Trump.

Live U.S. midterm election results: Republicans retain Senate, Democrats projected to take House

In Toronto, a few dozen people chatted among themselves as they watched the results — a turnout which surprised Mark Feigenbaum, chairman of Republicans Overseas Canada.

“I’m astounded at how much attention this has gotten,” said Feigenbaum, who fretted there might be protests at the invitation-only event, which there weren’t. “A midterm election, you wouldn’t get three people watching before.”

Feigenbaum said controversy over Trump’s approach and policies was responsible for the surge in interest.

In historic first, 2 Muslim women elected to Congress in 2018 U.S. midterms

At a well attended Democrat event at a nearby Toronto pub, people hollered and hooted when CNN reported one of their candidates had won. But not everyone saw the enthusiasm as warranted.

“It’s not the repudiation of Trump that we wanted,” said Diane Horvath, an American-Canadian who lives in Toronto and votes out of Virginia. “It’s sickening really.”

Julie Buchanan, with Democrats Abroad, said the interest in the vote was more akin to a presidential election. Expat votes had soared compared to the 2014 election, she said.

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The crowd at the university library gasped when, at one point, results showed Democrat Beto O’Rourke poised to unseat well known Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Christopher Sands, director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, said the biggest impact of the election on Canada relates to trade.

“Congress has the last word on trade,” Sands told attendees.

WATCH: Voter turnout expected to surge in U.S. midterm elections

Specifically, he said, who controls the House of Representatives will determine when trade bills such as the new North American trade deal known as USMCA – the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – get introduced.

Democrats, he said, would surely use their muscle to stall the deal as a way to extract concessions on other issues from the Republican president.

“Washington is a divided place,” Sands said.

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Feigenbaum, a lawyer and cross-border tax specialist, said a Democrat-controlled House would slow legislation, which he said would be detrimental to getting anything done.

The U.S. consulate general and University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy organized the “politics and pizza” event school. Among attendees were Consul General Greg Stanford, who took up his post in August.

In Ottawa, Harvard alumni gathered to watch results at a pub in Ottawa’s Byward market. T.J. Misra, a first generation Indo-American who grew up in Manhattan and San Francisco, said she found it a relief to be in Canada during the overheated polarizing rhetoric of the midterms.

WATCH: Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney wins Utah Senate seat in U.S. midterm election

“Canada is honestly an intellectual oasis, it’s a haven. You can actually think through your thoughts here, you can test them out without getting a lot of aggressive feedback,” Misra said.

“Being able to exchange and listen to commentary on American politics instead of complaints or deeply emotional reactions is also for me a more productive way to discuss the world.”

Misra was reluctant to criticize what’s happening in the U.S. but said her parents and sister, who were still in San Francisco, have been called terrorists because of their skin colour.

U.S. midterm election day could be plagued by same issues that impacted early voting

Democrats Abroad had also scheduled events in eight other cities, including Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal.

All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 Senate seats were up for re-election. Also at stake were almost 40 governorships and the balance of power in most state legislatures.

Trump himself acknowledged midterm voters would be passing judgment on his presidency. In addition, a Democrat-controlled House would have the power to investigate his personal and professional missteps.

WATCH:  New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand re-elected to U.S. Senate

“In a certain way, I am on the ballot,” Trump said on Monday as he urged supporters to get out to vote. “The press is very much considering it a referendum on me and us as a movement.”

An estimated eight million American citizens are thought to live outside the United States with those living in Canada among the largest diaspora. Estimates range from hundreds of thousands to more than one million Americans in Canada.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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