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Five Tweets on Pro-Palestine encampments being cleared by police

News

Over the past few weeks, pro-Palestinian protestors across the United States have set up tent encampments, including at Columbia University, New York University, Emory University, the University of California Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin. They are demanding their university administrations divest from Israel and corporations they believe are financing Israel’s campaign in Gaza.

While attendees insist their encampments have been peaceful, welcoming, and a form of free speech, critics are accusing them of acts of violence, antisemitism, and damaging school property. A handful of the encampments have begun to be dismantled by law enforcement, with some 900 protestors being arrested.

Here in Canada, pro-Palestinian protesters built an encampment on McGill University’s campus. Those protestors, who have been camped out for six days, are calling on their university to cut what they describe as its major financial ties with Israel. McGill University president Deep Saini stated his university would be resorting to police enforcement to break up the gathering after a resolution could not be reached. In a statement, McGill said many of the protesters had no association with the university. There is also an encampment that has formed at the University of British Columbia.

This morning, students set up tents at The University of Toronto. Administration had previously cautioned students that, “Unauthorized activities such as encampments or the occupation of University buildings are considered trespassing.”

Here are five Tweets that capture what’s going on at student encampments in the U.S. and Canada. 

At Columbia University, an encampment spokesperson was taunted online after her request that her fellow protestors be provided with adequate food. “Do you want students to die of dehydration and starvation or get severely ill?” she asked Columbia University administrators. “If the answer is no, then you should allow basic…humanitarian aid.” “Could people please have a glass of water?” she told reporters.

Later this week, that encampment was cleared by the New York Police Department donning riot gear. They stormed university buildings, where protestors had barricaded themselves inside. Police used a ladder to enter the campus through a second-floor window. As protestors were confronted they called the officers the “KKK.”

During the chaos at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill encampment, some counter-protestors surrounded the school’s American flag, ensuring it was protected. They claimed the protestors were trying to replace it with the Palestinian flag. Memers online have jokingly compared the counter-protestors to Second World War soldiers who raised the flag at Iwo Jima.

In Montreal, protestors endured rain and mud while singing and playing drums. Other encampments have included reading centres and arts and craft areas.

Two concerned students brought an application to the Superior Court of Quebec, seeking an injunction to force the removal of the encampment, claiming it made them feel unsafe. It was rejected yesterday.

Dov Waxman, a Jewish UCLA professor said that while he has opposed many of the Israeli government’s actions over the years, he would not be joining the encampments because “…it is not just a protest against the war in Gaza.” He insisted that, “Students and faculty demonstrating in support of Palestinians shouldn’t ignore the fact that the organizers of these demonstrations are, in many cases, ideologically committed to eradicating Israel and expelling Israeli Jews.”

The Israel-Hamas war began on October 7th, 2023, with the murder of 1,200 people in Israel and the kidnapping of 250 people by the terrorist group Hamas. Since then, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry asserts the Israeli military has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians. Ceasefire talks are ongoing.

$57 billion to EV automakers: good investment or risky gamble?

News

Today the Canadian and Ontario governments jointly announced an additional $5 billion in public subsidies for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing, this time unveiling Honda’s plans to build four new manufacturing plants in Ontario.

The news was met with praise by politicians and some industry voices. It was also met with criticism, from those who are deeply skeptical of the now more than $57 billion in government subsidies and tax credits offered to EV manufacturers in just the last two years.

“This is a historic day with the largest auto investment in Canada’s history,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, standing alongside Ontario Premier Doug Ford and diplomats.

The four manufacturing plants will be constructed at Honda’s existing complex in Alliston, Ontario. They will include two battery component plants, a stand-alone battery manufacturing plant, and Honda’s first EV assembly plant. More details on construction will be given by Honda this fall. The company predicts that factory doors will open in 2028.

The proposed facilities will rely on a $15 billion investment from Japanese company Honda, $2.5 billion in federal support through the proposed EV Supply Chain and Clean Technology Manufacturing investment tax credits, and $2.5 billion in direct and indirect funding from the province of Ontario. 

“This deal is another example of our two governments working together to rebuild our economy,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. 

Ford said that Honda plans would help to realize a start-to-finish EV supply chain, starting with the mining of critical minerals like lithium and nickel below the Ring of Fire located in northern Ontario, and ending at EV vehicle assembly plants in southern Ontario. 

Last March, Ontario’s Ministry of Mines announced that an agreement was signed with Marten Falls and Webequie First Nation to develop road and community infrastructure to support the Ring of Fire mineral extraction and the livelihood of residents. However, these projects have historically been plagued by delays.

According to Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe, his company chose Canada as the site for their first EV assembly plant because of this country’s natural resources, skilled workforce, U.S. market access, and environmental policies. 

Through their decision, Toshihiro said Honda can “help advance the economy and society of Canada.” 

Despite an announcement last week that EV automaker Tesla would be shedding more than 14,000 jobs due to dropping sales, Bloomberg is predicting the electric vehicle market will increase by 22 percent this year.

Critics, however, say that billions of EV subsidies serve to increase the growing deficits at both levels of government and is a risky and ultimately harmful use of Canadian tax dollars. 

“We have the federal government giving a $2.5 billion tax credit to a massive international Fortune 500 company, Honda,” Jay Goldberg, Ontario Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, told The Hub. “They’re punishing everyday Canadians by asking the middle class to pay for it.”

The Hub has calculated that the federal government and the provincial governments of Ontario and Quebec have publicly offered more than $40.59 billion in subsidies and tax credits for EV manufacturers in the past two years. This represents 15 percent more than the companies themselves have put forward for their investments in Canada’s EV sector. 

Using numbers from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, it is estimated that the three major EV manufacturing projects in these two provinces—Volkswagen (headquartered in Germany), Stellantis-LGES (headquartered in the Netherlands and South Korea), and Northvolt (headquartered in Sweden)—will actually cost Canadian government as much as $50.7 billion after accounting for the cost of public borrowing to finance the massive public subsidies and forgone corporate tax revenues from the tax abatements.

According to the federal government, Honda’s Alliston project will create 1,000 permanent manufacturing jobs. However, during media availability following the announcement, neither Trudeau or Ford would put a price on how much the government paid, through their investments, for each of those jobs. 

“You have two choices: you don’t invest, or you have confidence in the people of Ontario and companies like Honda to create jobs,” responded Ford. “If you’re asking me a number, how can you put a price on 28,000 people being employed?” he countered, referring to spinoff employment generated from the plants’ anticipated success.

Goldberg said both governments are effectively paying $5 million per directly created job. “They talk about indirect jobs but that’s never a full guarantee. We have no actual clear numbers,” he said. 

Goldman said the government's focus on specific sectors of the economy ignores potential gains for employment made by lowering corporate and small business taxes. “If they’re putting $5 billion towards the one plant, imagine what $5 billion of tax relief could do to attract companies of all shapes and sizes from elsewhere,” he said.

Managing director of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing Brendan Sweeney disagreed with Goldman’s claims that focused sector investment hindered Canadian productivity. 

He cited the collaboration of Liberal- and Conservative-led governments collaborating to secure investment from three parts of the EV supply chain: battery cell manufacturing, EV assembly, and cathode active material manufacturing. 

Sweeney says this government spending will lead to small business job growth and be supported by a strong Japanese business culture along with their interconnected business model of keiretsu

“Japanese automakers tend to have very invested relationships with their supplier network, which is different from American automakers” who are more transactional, said Sweeney, an expert in the global automotive industry for 15 years. The Japanese keiretsu model, he explained, sees massive companies such as Honda, Toyota, and Sony own stakes in the smaller companies with whom they work, collaborate, and receive from. 

“Due to the conservative nature of investments [in Japan], when they do something at Honda, they’ve really thought about it. If [small businesses] are going to supply them in the long term, they want them to be successful,” he said.