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The Current Transcript for October 19, 2016
Host: Anna-Maria Tremonti
STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE
Listen to the full episode
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways.
[Sound: crowd cheering]
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI: He promised to let the light in. We have lots of other stories today, but first Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joins me on this first anniversary of his electoral win. I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti, this is The Current.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflects on one year after his election win
Guests: Justin Trudeau
[Sound: crowd clapping]
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Canadians have spoken. You want a government with a vision and an agenda for this country that is positive and ambitious and hopeful. Well, my friends I promise you tonight that I will lead that government.
[Sound: crowd cheering]
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI: Well, that was one year ago today. Justin Trudeau and his Liberals promised change and won big in Canada's 42nd general election. One year into his majority mandate, Prime Minister Trudeau continues to ride high in the polls. But it's also a good time to check in on how that promise to govern this country differently has been delivered on thus far. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in our Ottawa studio. Hello.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Good morning Anna-Maria.
AMT: Mr. Prime Minister, you can't have the job you have without being a political junkie. What are you thinking as you watch the American election unfolding?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Oh, I think well, I mean, obviously right now we're thinking a lot about the one year anniversary of our own election and the parallels here and down south of the border and indeed around the world are striking. I mean, everywhere people are worried about the future and the question that politicians have to ask is well, what do we do? Do we allay those fears and have a plan to pull people together and solve these problems or do you try and exploit fears? And certainly what we focused on a year ago and what we've tried to govern with and I think what we've been generally successful about is making sure that we are being reasonable, responsible and pulling people together. And I think that's something that we would like to see a little more of in the world.
AMT: Is there a lesson in those disaffected voters who are hanging on to Donald Trump?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: You know what, I think worries about the future are real and what matters is that people be presented a responsible, reasonable, optimistic approach on how we're going to solve those challenges, and that's what I very much been focused on.
AMT: And could you work with a man like Donald Trump?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Canadians elected me to work in their best interests with anyone who gets elected anywhere around the world and that's exactly what I'm going to do.
AMT: But this is a man who brags about what in this country and in his own country would be sexual assault.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: I think I have made no secret of my feminism, of my approach on women's issues and women's rights and my intolerance for violence against women of any sort. And I think that speaks for itself.
AMT: Unlike Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, you are quite popular. The latest polls by Nanos research found that 70 per cent of Canadians believe you have the qualities of a good political leader. You're even more liked than you were this time last year. Why do you think you're doing so well?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Well, I think we have an approach that is very much focused on continuing to listen to people. I mean, as we built the election platform over the past years, we spent a lot of time traveling across the country, listening to people, talking about their hopes and dreams, listening to their concerns, trying to figure out how to allay them. And then we translated that into a government that continues to listen, to be respectful to people and to focus on the things that really matter, like growing an economy in a way that works for everyone, for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
AMT: And that same polling company though, Nanos, did another survey that shows Canadians are less confident under your government when it comes to balancing the budget. During the election you said you would run a deficit to stimulate the economy. You promised to keep that deficit under ten billion dollars. TD now projects this year's deficit could be as high as 34 billion dollars. Is your spending out of control?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: The choice people had in the last election was between two parties that promised to make cuts and to balance the budget at all costs. And one party, our party, that committed to invest so we could grow the economy, and that's exactly what we're doing. We put more money in the pockets of ordinary Canadians with the Canada Child Benefit, by lowering taxes for the middle class, raising them on the wealthiest 1 per cent. We're investing historic amounts in infrastructure, more invested over the past ten months than the Conservative government previously did in the past five years. So we're investing to grow the economy, we're putting money in people's pockets to grow the economy, we're creating jobs to grow the economy, and that's what people expect of us and we're doing it in a responsible way.
AMT: But you didn't expect the deficit to be where it is. Are you at all concerned? What are the conversations you're having with your financial people?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: In the 2016 budget, in our platform we had committed to about ten billion dollars worth of new investments in our communities and in Canadians. And in our budget, our very first budget, we put forward about ten or 11 billion dollars of new spending. That was on top of a fiscal situation that got worse, but that actually emphasized the need to invest in order to grow the economy, rather than make cuts when Canadians had quite frankly rejected the idea of cuts, and knew that confident, optimistic countries are willing to invest in their own future and that's exactly what we did.
AMT: Will you scale back some of your plans as you go forward?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Well, it's all about creating growth that works for the middle class and that means making smart investments that are going to give returns. We know that investing in infrastructure, things like housing, like better transit, green infrastructure, these are things that create jobs in the short and medium term, but also lead to greater productivity, greater economic growth that benefits everyone down the line. So those are the kinds of choices we're making about how we're going to keep the Canadians optimistic and participating fully in the success of this country.
AMT: So you're telling me you stand by your fiscal plans regardless of the higher deficit?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: The fact is we need to grow the economy in a way that works for everyone, and that's what we're focused on. Whether it's investing in education and help for postsecondary students, whether it's improving the Canada Pension Plan to make sure our retirements are secure, lowering retirement age from 67 to 65, increasing the guaranteed income supplement for our most vulnerable seniors. These are things that make the difference in the lives of Canadians and grow the economy in meaningful ways. That's exactly what we're going to stay focused on.
AMT: You talk about families, you have always been clear that spending time with your own young family is a priority. How do you balance that with the job that you have?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Well, first of all it's understanding that I'm prime minister and I'm in politics not in spite of the fact that I have a young family, but because of the fact that I have a young family. That everything I'm doing here is or should be in service of making the world a better place for my kids, for all of our kids to grow up in. And that's really the only thing that justifies the kind of travel, the kind of grueling schedule, the hard work that we put through. But I'm happy to do it because there is a sense that we are building a better future every step of the way. And making sure that I have time for my kids, for my wife is not just about making sure that they're getting enough attention from me, it's also deeply important for me to stay focused on what really matters and stay grounded in the big decisions that I have to make.
AMT: Well you know more than most of the pressures that come with being the child of a Prime Minister, what are you doing differently with your own kids?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Differently, I mean, I'm tremendously inspired by my parent’s example who were able to raise me with a sense of yes, I was lucky to grow up in 24 Sussex, lucky to get a great education and travel around the world and meet extraordinary world leaders. But with that luck came a sense of responsibility to do right by what the fate in the universe had offered me, as opportunities. And that's very much what I'm trying to focus on raising my kids with. This sense that yes they're lucky, but that comes with a responsibility to be good and to do good and to think about your place in your community and your school and help out. And that's something that I'm certainly continuing as a tradition.
AMT: And as a dad, what's your favorite thing to do with your kids at the end of the day?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: End of the day, grab a book and sit with any one of them in my lap and read it. The two and a half year old Hadrien is very much into having books read to him and can sit for hours and just leaf through any number of books, so it's something that I'm absolutely enthralled by, because I'm a big reader and to see my kids being the same is wonderful.
AMT: So you're juggling that with the briefing books?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Oh, absolutely. [chuckles] It's all about making sure that I can focus on what I'm supposed to be doing at any given time. When I'm with the kids, I'm not thinking about work or being distracted by the phone. But when I'm at work or reading briefing books late into the evening, I'm trying to focus on that and not the kids wrestling in the hall.
AMT: What are you most proud of achieving this year?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: I think it's really starting to make a dent in the opportunities for middle class Canadians. Like I said, the Canada Child Benefit that's putting more money since the summer in the pockets of nine out of ten Canadian families, going to be lifting 300,000 kids across this country out of poverty by helping directly the families who need it. That's making a huge difference in the lives of so many people. Lowering taxes for the middle class while raising them on the wealthiest 1 per cent, that wasn't an easy political decision but it was the kind of thing that we needed to do to make sure that people had the opportunity to be confident about the future. These economic decisions we're making are setting Canada on the right path not just for the short term but for the medium and long term, are things that are going to continue to benefit all Canadians in the coming years.
AMT: And what is your biggest challenge?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: So many challenges. Getting, you know, continuing to draw on better growth for the economy, making sure we continue to improve and fix the broken relationship with Indigenous Canadians, that is going to be a long term project that needs meaningful, measurable changes and impact now. Getting the balance right between economy and environment, building a growing economy by creating opportunities for clean jobs, while at the same time getting licensed to get our resources to market in sustainable ways. These are the kinds of balancing acts that are ongoing and we'll continue to work very hard on them.
AMT: I want to pick up on what you're saying about Indigenous peoples. Nearly 12 million Canadians watch The Tragically Hip’s concert in August. You were in the audience that night and Gord Downie said that you were going to take us where we need to go, that's the quote, when it comes to repairing Canada's relationship with First Nations people. What was going through your mind when he said that?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: That it's a big job that we're taking the first right steps on. Part of it is the relationship in the way we're engaging with Indigenous communities, leaders and activists, is very much in a respectful, partnership way that doesn't say, OK, Ottawa is going to tell you how to get things done, it's very much about building capacity and the tone and the approach is really important. But the other part that's really important is making sure that you're backing that up with real substantial investments. And that's why the 8.4 billion dollars that we've put forward over five years to start fixing the tremendous funding gaps there is going to make a real difference. But there's an awful lot more to do, and we need to focus on doing it right and doing it together.
AMT: During the election you promised to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In July, your justice minister said that's unworkable. Will you implement it?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Oh, I think the fact is we've long said that we agree with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the question is making sure that we're able to actually implement it the right way, in a way that is best for Indigenous peoples, and as best for Canada. We're absolutely committed to it, as we are to the calls to action from the inquiry into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. So we're moving forward in the right ways that are going to set us on the path for immediate solutions but also for long term solutions.
AMT: Let's just stay with UN. Canada wants a seat on the United Nations Security Council, why do you think we deserve it?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Oh, I think I think it's, you know, people look at that seat as if it's some sort of reward or prize, it's not. It's a way to continue to make sure that the voice that we have in the world gets heard, that we can continue to weigh in on proposing and creating solutions to some of the world's great conflicts. The opportunity that we have as Canadians to highlight a community where our values are extremely strong, where we understand that diversity can and should be a source of strength not a source of weakness. These are messages that the UN, that the whole world needs to hear and we're happy to be a part of this conversation at a time where there is so much divisiveness and so much fearfulness about what the future may bring. Having a confident, optimistic Canada that's there to help is very much how Canadians see themselves and how the world needs to see Canada.
AMT: And yet your government is building ties with a well-known human rights offender, China. The country's weapons exports have doubled in the last 10 years, your government is green lighting a major sale to Saudi Arabia with a Canadian footprint that now goes into conflict zones like Yemen. Given that, how can you argue to be a strong voice for human rights at the UN?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Well, first of all, it's extremely important to be engaging around the world, and one of the things that a positive relationship with China will lead to is better outcomes like freeing Kevin Garrett from his imprisonment. But it also has to do with ensuring that China's evolution is going in the right direction, that they're getting better around rule of law, that they're getting better around human rights. And having a pragmatic but respectful relationship allows for the kinds of conversations that can truly be helpful in making a difference in the world, and that's what Canadians expect. On the other issue, the fact is that we've committed to signing on to the Arms Trade Treaty which the previous government refused to do and we were the only NATO country not signing on to it. So we're now glad to be engaging in that and demonstrating a level of openness and transparency that Canadians quite frankly expect from their government.
AMT: Was opening up trade with China the price of freeing Kevin Garrett?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: No, I think the fact is that the previous relationship was very much hot and cold and inconsistent. And having a structured engagement in which we can talk frankly and openly about challenges and about opportunities is a demonstration of how Canada can have an effective voice on the world stage. And one of the outcomes of engaging in a positive, thoughtful but proactive way on a broad range of issues was that we get to solve issues, whether it's Kevin Garrett’s case, or even in the case of Iran being able to put pressure and have them free Dr. Hoodfar who was of concern to many people
AMT: I want to ask you about engaging back on the domestic stage. Yesterday, Premier Brad Wall said the carbon tax will harm Saskatchewan and that Saskatchewan will defend its interests in the courts of the land if need be. Saskatchewan's environment minister has referred to your carbon pricing plan as a National Energy Program 2.0. We have now heard the health ministers coming out of their meeting demanding a meeting with you, and the premiers have said they wanted to talk to you about carbon pricing before you brought in your changes. What kind of relationship are you building with your provincial counterparts?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: I’m building the relationship that Canadians expect, which is a collaborative, respectful one, in which I'm always willing to talk with and exchange with the premiers on important issues, individually or as a group, unlike my predecessor. But at the same time, Canadians expect me to stand up for the things that they elected us on. Being strong and finally showing leadership on the climate change file after years and perhaps even decades of not getting it done. On the on the issue of health care, Mr. Harper refused to actually talk with the premiers about health care, just kept sending checks to the provinces without even checking on what that the money was being spent on health care. And we simply want to say yes, we're going to continue to invest in the health care, we know it matters for Canadians, but we want to make sure that the federal money invested in health care actually gets spent on health care by the provinces and I don't think that's unreasonable.
AMT: You have conditionally approved an LNG pipeline for BC’s northwest coast. Your own federal agency says that will add at least 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. The Pembina Institute says it'll be impossible for BC to achieve its emissions targets in the future. How does approving a pipeline square with your stated commitment to addressing climate change?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: I think one of the things we've seen from politics over the past number of years has been the creation of a binary choice. You can either build a strong economy or you can protect the environment. Well, fortunately Canadians don't think that way. Businesses don't think that way and I don't think that way. We know we need to protect the environment while we build a strong economy. And indeed showing environmental leadership is a way of creating new jobs and new opportunities for Canadians, for Canadian companies, for Canadian workers, for innovators around the world. So the fact is doing both of those things together, creating economic growth and protecting the environment is the important balance that, you know, the previous government certainly didn't get right and that we're very much focused on getting.
AMT: Prime Minister Trudeau, we have about 170 troops in Iraq, the push on Mosul has begun. What are our troops doing? What's the risk?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: They are doing what we sent them to do. What Canadian troops have always done extraordinarily well, which is train and assist local forces in the battle to retake their other lands from Daesh. The fact is Canada has an important role to play in the international coalition against ISIL, against Daesh, people expect us to. And the men and women of the Canadian Forces are yet again making us incredibly proud, as the successes are being seen, as local forces take back territory from Daesh.
AMT: Are they in the actual frontline fight?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: They are doing what we sent them to do, which is assisting the local troops. They are in what has been characterized as a difficult and dangerous situation from time to time, but they're making a meaningful impact against this terrorist organization and that's what Canadians expect.
AMT: Prime minister, we are out of time, thank you so much for your time today.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: It's a pleasure, Anna-Maria.
AMT: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in our Ottawa studio. We want to hear from you, what do you make of what he had to say today? You can tweet us, we're @TheCurrentCBC, you can find us on Facebook. Email us from our cbc.ca/thecurrent. If you are joining us part way through, I've just been speaking with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. You can download the podcast, go to our site cbc.ca/thecurrent. Stay with us, the news is next. And then the UN Special Rapporteur on housing joins me to weigh in on a housing crisis faced by people around the world. I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti, this is The Current.
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Housing a human right not a commodity, says UN rapporteur
Guests: Leilana Farha, Ben Rabidoux
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI: Hello, I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti, and you're listening to The Current.
AMT: Still to come, Merchants of Man is the title of journalist Loretta Napoleoni’s new book about human trafficking, kidnapping and the selling of women for sex. For jihadist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda, those sources of human misery are sources of tremendous revenue. We'll talk about that. But first, how to think about housing? As a commodity to buy low and sell high or as a human right?
[Music: ominous beats]
VOICE 1: Two separate warnings out today for Canadian homeowners. The country's largest real estate markets are frothy.
VOICE 2: New numbers out today have shattered real estate records.
VOICE 3: Stop me if you've heard this before, more evidence Canada's housing market is red hot and showing few signs of slowing.
VOICE 4: The 1,600 square foot bungalow, which includes a finished basement, sold for 235,000 dollars in 2001. And just days ago it went for 1.175 million. There were four competing offers.
VOICE 5: I got to get in. Everybody else is getting rich, I’m not getting rich. And it turns into buying real estate like Black Friday at Walmart.
VOICE 6: We are indeed looking at a bubble in Canada and that it will burst and that it will cause financial crisis. The international flow of real estate, in some sense, people seeing real estate as a place to park cash has really amped up.
VOICE 7: Individuals who purchase property will need to disclose if they are citizens or permanent residents of Canada.
VOICE 8: And if not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, homebuyers in BC will be required to state what country they call home.
VOICE 9: And there's more. For some Canadians, starting in a couple of weeks getting an insured mortgage will be tougher, with home buyers facing a new tough stress test to prove they can survive higher interest rates.
VOICE 10: So this is going to take a lot of buyers out of the markets, especially first time homebuyers buyers. It penalizes first time home buyers.
[Music: ominous beats]
AMT: Unsettled and unsettling. That's one way to describe Canada's housing situation. This week, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says it's preparing to issue its first ever red warning for the national housing market. That is even as the new federal mortgage stress test rules came into effect Monday, with the aim of cooling off the country's overheated housing markets. Those are some of the stresses Canadian homeowners or would-be homeowners face. But housing is a challenge all over the globe today, especially in rapidly expanding cities. And that is the focus of a major UN summit called Habitat III, taking place this week in Quito, Ecuador. Canadian human rights lawyer Leilani Farha is helping to shape the discussion at that summit. She is the UN's Special Rapporteur on the right to housing and we have reached her in Quito, Ecuador. Hello.
LEILANI FARHA: Good morning Anna-Maria.
AMT: We're hearing a lot about housing prices in Canadian cities these days. To what extent is that being echoed in other parts of the world?
LEILANI FARHA: Yes, it's absolutely a global phenomenon. The unaffordability of housing is an issue that so many people across the world are facing. There are of course particular cities that have been identified as being, you know, what are called hedge cities or cities where housing costs have skyrocketed. But it's not just in those cities where we're concerned, there are of course many other cities where unaffordability is a huge issue.
AMT: You were in Vancouver to look at the real estate crisis there, what did you see, what did you learn?
LEILANI FARHA: Well, I was there to do some research for a report I’m writing on the financialization of housing globally, and of course some of the leading experts happened to be in Vancouver for probably good reasons. You know, I saw what has been reported in the news. Housing costs are escalating there due in large part to a huge influx of capital, both foreign and domestic capital, actually. And that obviously is pushing and driving those prices up, making the city very difficult to live in if you're middle income and you can imagine if you're low income or living in poverty, it's basically a no go zone.
AMT: And how does that compare with conditions you've observed in other cities that you've been visiting as your role as the UN Special Rapporteur?
LEILANI FARHA: So it's comparable, as I say, to those other hedge cities for sure. You know, the conditions are very very similar. And as we've seen in some headlines, there is a real drive toward the commodification of housing. This is not a new pattern. Actually, housing real estate has always been considered a good investment. What's different right now is the amount of capital. Huge, huge dollars and people with those huge dollars and corporations with those huge dollars are looking for places to park that money. Where they can park it safely, but also make, you know, big dollars. And so, I'm seeing this across the world.
AMT: So when you talk about a hedge city, you're talking about people who actually are, like, hedge fund city kind of thing. They're using houses to make money.
LEILANI FARHA: That's correct, that's right. And that's what we mean by the financialization of housing versus, you know, viewing housing from a different light. And of course, my mandate is to to look at housing as a human right and understand what that means. And obviously there are tensions between, you know, investing in housing as a commodity, as an asset, as a money maker and understanding or recognizing housing as a human right.
AMT: Well and, you know, we're talking about, you know, nations like our own. But what about developing nations where you've got this rapid outgrowth of homes, you get so many people coming to the cities. What's happening there in terms of housing and housing as a commodity?
LEILANI FARHA: Yeah, so the phenomenon of people being driven to cities is also global. And we now know, you know, there's rapid urbanization, more than 56 per cent of the world's population is living in cities and that's increasing every day. And you can imagine, who are these people? You know, we have to think about it. Well, there are people who are often migrating for economic reasons, right? They’re living rurally, they just cannot survive, and so they go to the city to try to make money. They're obviously arriving there poor and been in many many cases and, you know, we're talking a lot of developing countries here as well. And so, they’re arriving with no money, so where do they go? They can't afford to live in cities, you know, and rent. If there is even available rental accommodation they often can't afford it. And of course, ownership is in many many cases just out of the question. So their only opportunity is really to live in what are called informal settlements. You know, these are settlements that sort of emerge organically often on land that has not been purchased, that is often state land and these informal settlements are growing and growing. The conditions that I've seen in informal settlements are I mean, there's no other word to describe it, they are uninhabitable, they are inhumane. People living without running water, without sanitation facilities. You can imagine, like, imagine being a young girl and you have no privacy in terms of sanitation, in terms of, you know, toilets, I'm talking. Pretty awful, no electricity, no access to schools sometimes, no access to employment opportunities. So pretty awful conditions, and I'm not talking about one country or two countries, we're talking about 1.6 billion people worldwide living in conditions like I just described.
AMT: Well, at the same time we're looking at cities around the world, where there's more construction, where there's more building of high rises and gleaming towers. So how do you bridge that? What are you suggesting needs to be done?
LEILANI FARHA: Yeah, it's a good question. And one of the things that I'm doing here at this world conference is trying to have discussions about what paradigm we want to use to understand housing. And, you know, there is no doubt that housing is a human right. It's been codified in international human rights instruments that states from around the world have signed on to and committed to. And so, the question is what does that mean in the face of housing as a commodity? Does it mean anything? Can the two worlds co-exist? And my sense is that we need a paradigmatic shift, actually. We need, because there has been this what I would call an overzealous investment in the notion of housing as a commodity, as an economic driver in cities. The result has obviously been the deprivation of human rights for the most vulnerable populations. And so, I think we need to shift, I wouldn't even call it a better balance because I'm not sure with human rights that's what we're looking for, is like some sort of fair playing field. Those with power and money, I don't think their rights need to be protected in the same way that those who are vulnerable need their rights protected. So I'm looking to have conversations here about, you know, is it possible to shift the paradigm, recognize that housing is a human right and that that has implications. And so what would those implications be in terms of private market real estate development, gleaming towers et cetera. You know, I don't have all the answers. I'm not presuming to have all the answers, because this is for me a new field and I think for a lot of people it's a new ask, you know. But my sense is that what we read is regulation, but not just any regulation of markets. I think we need human rights based regulation. In other words, we need to look at the impact that real estate development, investment, housing as a commodity is having on the most vulnerable people. Look at what rights are being affected, and from there determine what regulation would actually work to address the needs.
AMT: And in a place like Canada of course, that jurisdiction is municipal and provincial.
LEILANI FARHA: That's right, and that’s true in many cases.
AMT: So you're looking at a lot of players, right?
LEILANI FARHA: Absolutely, and that's what makes it so absolutely difficult. There is just no doubt about it. You know, I'm wading into what is a complex area. Housing has been decentralized and real estate often happens, you know, real estate development etc. often happens at that municipal level. One thing that I found interesting when I talked to city mayors is, you know, from around the world and there are a lot of them at this conference as you can well imagine. And what they say to me is look, real estate, land development, housing as a commodity is for them so important to their local economy because they don't have access to many resources. Often municipalities have no power to let's say, you know, impose taxes and they have very little means to raise resources and yet they are on the front lines of rapid urbanization, of migration, refugee influx et cetera. Natural disasters, they have to deal with natural disasters. And so, they're using housing as a commodity real estate as a way to generate revenues. It's totally understandable right? You know, if I was a mayor, I'd be looking around thinking how am I going to raise money to deal with these problems.
AMT: OK. So Leilani Farha, we've got somebody waiting in the wings just to talk about that, just in what Canadians might face. Thank you for your time.
LEILANI FARHA: Thank you Anna-Maria.
AMT: That is Leilani Farha, she's the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing and we reached her at the UN Habitat conference in Quito, Ecuador. Well, housing affordability is top of mind for Canadian policymakers and real estate analysts concerned about overheated markets. Ben Rabidoux runs North Cove Advisors, a specialty market research firm in Owen Sound, Ontario. That's where he is. Hello.
BEN RABIDOUX: Good morning Anna-Maria.
AMT: So as you listen to this, how do you bridge this idea? First of all, the idea of of housing as beyond a commodity, but a human right. What are your thoughts on that?
BEN RABIDOUX: Well, I think there's certainly some validity to that. I think we have a duty of care to provide reasonable accommodation both owner occupied and rental in Canada. And there’s certainly a strong mandate within some Crown corporations in Canada to provide that. So like, I'm quite sympathetic to that view. I'm also quite sympathetic to the view that, you know, what we're facing in Canada is an influx of foreign capital that we've never seen before. And trying to balance all of the needs of our local citizens with this influx of foreign capital, trying to manage that is certainly a complex and challenging issue at this point and time.
AMT: So Leilani Farha’s description of Vancouver as a hedge city, you would agree with that?
BEN RABIDOUX: Oh, without a doubt. I think, and to be clear, you know, I've been studying housing, I've worked with institutional investors on this front for a number of years and there was a time several years ago where I pushed back on that, and I would have said that look, this idea that there is a strong foreign bid that's propelling this market higher, it's difficult to find that in the data. And it's still difficult to quantify it, but you get to the point where, you know, when you put feet on the ground and you talk to enough people, the anecdotes and the frontline observations are just so compelling that you can't ignore it. I think she's absolutely right. It's a hedge city, it's a city where there's a lot of capital coming from abroad, from jurisdictions that are developing economies with political structures that sometimes are not particularly stable. And you can understand why in many cases you would want that capital out of that country if you were in their circumstances.
AMT: So, you know, BC has a foreign buyer's tax. Is a foreign buyer’s tax the way to go or is there something, some kind of hedge buyer's tax that needs to be done? I mean, what do you think?
BEN RABIDOUX: Well, the foreign buyer’s tax is certainly warranted. There’s a number of jurisdictions globally that have implemented some form of restriction on foreign investment. And it’s taken a number of different forms, so there are some jurisdictions where they will limit foreign buyers to just new constructions, that you're not removing existing housing from the stock of supply. I mean, I think this is a good first step. This foreign buyer tax has had a noticeable effect on foreign demand. There are certain proxies that I track in Vancouver that I would consider a pretty strong indicator of the foreign bid and in particular that we find that home sales in those in those key areas are down by two thirds compared to last year. So there's no question that it's had some of this intended consequence. Look, I think that at the same time that that was implemented in August you can see those same proxies in Toronto have really started to ramp up. So there's some evidence that you've had somewhat of an eastward shift in that foreign capital flow.
AMT: And so what's at stake if nothing changes?
BEN RABIDOUX: Well, there’s potentially a lot at stake. I mean, look if this is the status quo, if house prices are going to rise 15, 20 per cent in perpetuity, then this is a non-issue. I think the mathematics are pretty firmly stacked against that. And the reality is that when you have this foreign capital flow that forces locals to leverage themselves heavily to get into this market, then it raises all sorts of risks to the broader economy. The empirical data is very clear on this, that when you have a large expansion in domestic credit at the household level, it tends to be followed by periods of very weak economic growth and often followed by crises. And so it's something that the government's going to want to take a close look at how to limit domestic credit growth in the context of this large influx of capital.
AMT: OK Ben Rabidoux, thank you for your time today.
BEN RABIDOUX: My pleasure.
AMT: That is Ben Rabidoux, he runs North Cove Advisors, which is a specialty market research firm in Owen Sound, Ontario. If you are struggling to afford housing where you live, let us know what you're thinking about this. Should we be thinking about housing less as a commodity, more as a human right? You can tweet us @TheCurrentCBC, find us on Facebook. Email us from our website cbc.ca/thecurrent.
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How a bike accident led Luke Anderson to become an accessibility activist
Guests: Luke Anderson
[Music: The Disruptors theme]
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI: This season as part of our project The Disruptors, we have been airing your personal moments of disruption. These are the stories of events that have disrupted lives, whether for good or ill, and life has never been the same since. And for Luke Anderson of Stouffville, Ontario his personal moment of disruption came in 2002. Here's Luke Anderson.
[Music: guitar riff]
LUKE ANDERSON: While I was growing up, I loved all kinds of sports. I was an athlete and it was in high school that I was introduced to the world of mountain biking. I quickly became absolutely fascinated with the sport and incredibly passionate about it. So the spring of 2002, I packed up all my stuff and I drove to the interior of BC and integrated myself with the mountain biking community and met all kinds of other passionate riders that were living a dream of riding their bikes in the very best place to do so. One particular friend of mine, his name’s Johnny. He and I loved filming each other riding some of the more demanding trails in the area. So in the fall of that riding season, so late October, we found ourselves riding a tricky trail just outside of Rossland, and one part of the trail involved jumping a big 25 foot gap. So Johnny went first and cleared the gap, no problem and I filmed him doing that and we celebrated. And it was my turn.
[Music: hollow pipe sounds]
LUKE ANDERSON: So I handed the camera over to Johnny, made sure that mentally I was prepared to take on this next leap. I left the takeoff platform and I essentially left my life as I knew it. I didn't make the landing. My front wheel hit the transition head on and it caused me to fly over the handlebars, landing head first on the ground, breaking two vertebrae in my upper spine. I blacked out maybe five seconds. When I came around, I knew right away what had happened. I knew that life was going to be different from that very moment on.
[Music: erratic electronic sounds]
LUKE ANDERSON: Johnny came rushing over. He was very concerned obviously, but there was this sense of calm that came over me. To this day, it's hard to describe but it's a survival mechanism that kicked in and it allowed me to tell Johnny to relax, get out his cell phone and go to the logging road to get some help. And had I not been able to tap into that survival mechanism, I don't think I'd be talking to you today, because it allowed me to get out of that forest and to the hospital where I was stabilized, and then airlifted to Vancouver, where I underwent an eight hour long surgery to reinforce my broken vertebrae. So in a split second my life changed. I was all of a sudden introduced to a world that's not well-suited for someone that uses a wheelchair. And over time, after extensive rehabilitation and work, trying to figure out my place in this in this world with my newfound physical condition, I got a great job with a structural engineering firm here in Toronto. The job was fantastic but there was a big problem with the building that the office was in. It had three steps to access the elevator lobby level. So what happened was that the company bought a folding ramp that needed to be set up every time I needed to get in and out of the building.
[Music: ambient electronic beat]
LUKE ANDERSON: So just imagine the logistics around making this happen and essentially relying on others to help you access a space every time you wanted to. So I had to deal with this situation for almost eight years. And it reached a tipping point. And I was realizing that new buildings being constructed were being built with stepped entryways and I started to realize that everybody benefits from a barrier free amenity. And I wanted to start a conversation about the importance of accessibility. So we did. We painted 13 ramps really bright colours and gave them to businesses in Toronto’s Junction neighborhood. And we created a lot of momentum from that first project, that allowed us to move it into different parts of the city. We've now worked with communities right across the country and I'm proud to say that we now have over 1,200 ramps serving different business owners right across Canada.
[Music: steel drum beat]
LUKE ANDERSON: You know, mountain biking was a love of mine. I was very passionate about it and I spent all of my free time riding my bike. Would I like to still do that? Of course, I think about it every day. I'd love to be able to ride my bike and hike and climb and do all of those things that I loved so much. But there's more to life than that. And now, being able to see with such a greater field of view. So the conversation that I've started around barrier free spaces it's benefiting so many people out there. My blinders came off, I think I lived a pretty selfish way of life. Would I trade that in for my old life? Well, I don't know, I don't know if I would. I think that if we just change the way that we see things, welcome change in our lives, we ultimately become better people.
[Music: steel drum beat]
AMT: That moment of disruption came from Luke Anderson. If you want to listen to other stories from our series go to our website cbc.ca/thecurrent. And I'd like to let you know our Friday host this week is Ing Wong-Ward, a former CBC Radio producer who is now the Associate Director at the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto. She will be devoting Friday's edition of The Current to looking at issues facing people with disabilities. You won't want to miss that, Ing Wong-Ward is our Friday host for The Current. Stay with us, now coming up next. Why jihadist groups including ISIS and al-Qaeda look at the migrant crisis as a major moneymaking opportunity. Journalist Loretta Napoleoni joins me with the research from her latest book, she's called it Merchants of Men. She's been following the money trail on terrorism and jihadist groups for more than a decade now. I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti, this is The Current on CBC Radio One, Sirius XM and online on cbc.ca/thecurrent.
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How ISIS has turned refugee trafficking into multi-billion dollar business
Guests: Loretta Napoleoni
ANNA-MARIA TREMONTI: Hello, I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti, this is The Current.
VOICE 1: The race against time to save two hostages. The notorious ISIS killer Jihadi John, who threatened to kill them within 72 hours if Japan did not pay a 200 million dollar ransom.
VOICE 2: We've just had more than a dozen European hostages released from ISIS custody and the reporting I've done has shown that they've paid between 1.5 and 2 million euros a piece.
VOICE 3: A document issued by the Islamic State research and fatwa department clearly states that it is permissible to buy, sell or give the captured women away as gifts.
AMT: Kidnapping, human trafficking, the selling of women for sex is about as brutal a business as you can imagine. And for jihadist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda, this kind of human misery is now the source of record profits. From the kidnapping of journalists and tourists and local citizens to running human trafficking routes to Europe. There is big money to be made with the buying and selling of people. Journalist Loretta Napoleoni has been following that money. She's tracking the transactions and the shadowy people behind them in her new book, Merchants of Men: How Jihadists and ISIS Turned Kidnapping and Refugee Trafficking into a Multi-Billion Dollar Business. Loretta Napoleoni joins me in Toronto. Hello and welcome back to The Current.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Thank you Anna-Maria for inviting me back.
AMT: You discovered that overall the kidnapping and trafficking industry has now surpassed the illegal drug trade. I find that so surprising. Take us through that, what are you talking about?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, what I discovered is this, that the kidnapping phenomenon started really in 2003 with al-Qaeda and the Maghreb, who funded itself through kidnapping. Previously, they were working as smugglers for the cocaine business coming through West Africa towards of course Europe. Now the difference between kidnapping and then trafficking and smuggling cocaine is that the cocaine is not a business that is controlled 100 per cent by the jihadis. So they act as a sort of carrier along the drug route. So they make profits of course, but it's not a huge profit, as it is the profits of trafficking because that's a business that they control 100 per cent. So that's the difference.
AMT: Well al-Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb very famously of course took two Canadians when they were working with the UN, former diplomat Robert Fowler and Louis Guay. These are the ones you're talking about.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes, Robert Fowler was taken after the beginning of this sort of kidnapping campaign in terms of funding. The kidnapping campaign started in 2003 when they kidnapped 32 Europeans. Most of them were tourists. From the ransom of these 32 Europeans, they netted about, you know, six million euros which at the time was a lot of money for organizations like that.
AMT: And why did they get into this business?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: What they get into this business actually by chance. They were smuggling along the trans-Sahara routes and the Sahel, they were smuggling cigarettes, then, you know, they started to smuggle cocaine. And then somebody had an idea, why don't we try to use the infrastructure which were built, which is of course, you know, the infrastructure of smuggling, also to kidnap the foreigners to kidnap tourists. This is how it all started in this region. So we're talking about Mali predominantly and southern Algeria and that's how the business started. So it was not really, it was jumping at an opportunity that was there but this opportunity was there also in 1999. The reason why they took it in 2003 is because they had the smuggling structure. So they thought, you know, let's maximize it.
AMT: And you make the point that the man who actually oversaw the kidnapping of the Canadians, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was actually, he wasn't really a jihadi he was a guy using Islam as a cover to be a criminal.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes, he was actually called Mr. Marlboro because he was smuggling all these cigarettes originally from Algeria. Then he got into the cocaine business, when the cocaine started to arrive through West Africa, which is about 2002. So describe people like him as criminal jihadis. So people that under the umbrella of fighting for the jihad, in reality they are criminal. They’re very good criminals also, you know, very smart because he moved from one business to another. He also treated his hostages much better than other jihadis because he understood the value in monetary terms of the hostages. So although the hostages were merchandise, they wanted to deliver a good merchandise so that the next time negotiating with governments would be easier, because governments would know who he was, and also governments would know that he would deliver back the hostages in good shape.
AMT: And let's just talk about governments for a minute because there are so many tentacles in what you have looked at. But in fact, you make the point that it was changes in government laws in the US about drugs and about money laundering that actually really encouraged a smuggling trade that moved to Africa.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes, it all starts after 9/11, really. I mean, what was the response to 9/11? The first one was the Patriot Act, the financial section of the Patriot Act was a troubling legislation for the cocaine cartel because of course money laundering became impossible in US dollars. So they needed to find an alternative to money laundering, which of course was the euro. And the organization that offer service, a full service, I described it to the cartel was 'Ndrangheta, the Italian Calabrian organized crime. So they said good, we can money launder all of these profits but also we can handle completely the sale of cocaine in Europe. So they had to find new routes to reach Europe. In the old days cocaine would come via the US, but then all of a sudden this became problematic. So they thought well, why don't we try West Africa. Now, West Africa was a region that was already highly destabilized, they chose Guinea-Bissau because they had the right infrastructure. They basically bought the country, they bought the election, they put the politician they wanted. And then they thought we can use small planes to reach Europe but then they discovered that there was this massive smuggling activity taking place in the Sahel. And they thought well we can tap into this infrastructure, and that's what's happened. So this is 2002 is when it all started.
AMT: And when you say the Sahel, just remind us what that is.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, the Sahel is, you know, the southern part of the Sahara. It goes literally from West Africa all the way to East Africa. So it's vast vast region. The route that they took was from Guinea-Bissau, so from West Africa through the Sahel, up to Libya predominantly. But some people also went up to Tunisia.
AMT: And so of course that is a route for people now and the European migrant crisis is at a point where we thought it was at a crisis before and now it's become even worse. Thousands are dying attempting to cross the Mediterranean. What happened to these migrants along the way in places like Libya when they were hoping to make that crossing to Europe?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, Libya was a really scary place, I would say during Gaddafi times because people would be trafficked from East Africa for example, or West Africa. But, you know, roots would end up in Libya. Then in Libya, these people get trapped inside. They would be kidnapped over and over, time and time again.
AMT: By whom?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: By the local traffickers, by the police, by Gaddafi militias. Gaddafi reached an agreement with Berlusconi in 2010, this agreement was that Gaddafi will get money in order to keep these migrants in Libya, so to block the flow of the migrants from Libya to of course southern Italy. And what Gaddafi did was basically use this money in order to build huge gulags, huge, you know, detention places where these people were kept. And then all of a sudden they would be freed, they would be sold to traffickers. And they had to pay time and time again ransom to the various people that kidnapped them.
AMT: You know, it's so interesting to me. A year ago on The Current we did a story out of Riace in southern Italy, where the mayor has sort of, you know, got everyone to open their doors in this small town to new migrants. And so many of the people I talked to told me that when they went through Libya they ended up in jails and it was awful, and they would talk about it but then they would stop. And I didn't realize then until I read your book that they were being caught up in this very thing that you describe.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes, there’s always a system set in place. So the Italians sent money but also sent infrastructure needed, for example, special radars to detect who was crossing into Libya but also containers. So these people were put in containers, can you imagine in the heat of the summer in the Sahara desert? They were put in containers and taken from Misrata, because most of them, you know, reach Misrata which is on the coast, of course very close to the Italian coast. Then they would be kidnapped by the police or by, you know, Gaddafi militia, put in these containers and driven all the way south to the south of the Sahara, the Libyan Sahara, where there were, you know, these detention camps. People would die of heat, would die of thirst. It's incredible, incredible.
AMT: And I want to talk about kidnapping and specifically about ISIS. But before we go to ISIS and kidnapping, you make the point that ISIS is also controlling migrant routes.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes.
AMT: Tell us about that.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, what happened is that during the caliphate, at the height I would say of the caliphate, so we're talking about summer 2015. This is when we had a massive surge in refugees crossing from Syria to Turkey and then to Europe. Now, it was safer and cheaper for the traffickers to cross the region controlled by the caliphate because at each roadblock you have to pay a fee. So let’s say, you know, you're carrying 20 migrants. Each migrant will have to pay a tax in order to cross the various territories controlled by the various groups, arm organizations, gangs, you name it, warlords. Now of course the caliphate was all controlled by the same organization, so you would cross all the regions and then at the border you would pay that tax.
AMT: You also make the point that ISIS actually made sure the boats weren't overloaded.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yeah, this is in Syria--
AMT: [interposing] The police did.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: So there was a sort of organizational structure that ISIS put in place for the migrants and it worked very well also for the traffickers. So in Syria, the traffickers knew that when they reached the border with Turkey, they would have to pay a certain tax and that was it. Then they would come back with the same vehicle full of goods that they would smuggle and they will pay another tax. But that was it. So they knew the costs. In Libya what happened was that ISIS would control the number of people on the boat. So you would pay more money to leave from Sirte, which is the region that was controlled by ISIS then it would pay for a Misrata, but you were sure that the crossing will be OK. So you would have less chances of drowning.
AMT: I want to ask you about the high profile kidnappings of ISIS, in particular journalists and aid workers. We've heard a lot about this. How sophisticated has ISIS become when it comes to kidnapping and the infrastructure that goes along with the kidnapping?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Very sophisticated. So ISIS is very different from the criminal jihadis. So the criminal jihadists use hostages in order to make money, so criminal activity predominantly. ISIS actually did not get involved in kidnapping directly [unintelligible] the hostages. There was a very good, very active, I would say, secondary market for hostages in Syria, especially foreigners of course. So ISIS could afford to buy them and also could afford to keep them for a very long time because you had the infrastructure and you had the money. It costs money to keep people. Although, you know, they feed them barely to keep them alive, it costs money to make sure that people do not escape for example. So ISIS had that kind of structure, but the reason why ISIS bought them is for political reason. So some of those hostages were worth more dead than alive.
AMT: And this was all, you make the point, being done secretly.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes.
AMT: First of all, it was on no one's radar for a couple of years.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: 100 per cent, yes.
AMT: And they were actually choosing, we should kill this person to tell them we're serious, we'll keep this person and we'll negotiate, and we'll keep these over here because they’re political bounty for us, then we'll use them later. They actually thought it through.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes yes yes. It was done at a very high level. So what we think still today is that these hostages were in the hands of a group that they called the Beatles. This sort of psychopath British jihadis that were running the prison where the hostages were kept. That's not true. These people didn't count anything. Jihadi John, you remember? The one who was cutting their head, he was simply an amplifier of the policy of the Islamic State. He said words that the Islamic State, the really top top leadership or the Islamic State told him to say. Those people were instrumental to a policy of sort of diplomacy. They use hostages as instruments.
AMT: So you're talking about not people who are rogue, and that group as you point out, psychopaths. But they weren't just acting in a rogue manner, they were part of a bigger kidnapping machine.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Absolutely. So I would call it the kidnapping diplomacy. So for example, James Foley was beheaded.
AMT: The American journalist.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: The American journalist, they were number one. First one was beheaded. After, all the hostages that could be free were freed before they got the money. So we get rid of the people that we don't want dead but we want alive, and they got between 60 to 80 million dollars which is, you know, quite a lot of money.
AMT: 60 to 80 million dollars for how many people?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: It was 67 per cent 70 per cent of the hostages, so 70 per cent of 25 hostages. Yeah, but, you know, it is very important hostages. I mean, countries paid a lot of money for them. So they got rid of those ones. Then they started killing and they choose the American, that was the first one that was killed. They chose him purposely because they wanted to lure the US into that conflict. President Obama in 2014 in June and July 2014 had specifically said we're not going to get involved, we're not going to be dragged into this conflict. Then all of a sudden James Foley is beheaded and the video goes viral in no time at all. The entire world is shocked. And then Obama decides to put together, you know, the grand coalition. So that's an example.
AMT: So that's a political--
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Absolutely.
AMT: They used him as their weapon, as their bait.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Diplomacy. Same story with the Japanese. The two Japanese hostages, they were negotiating to basically give them back for a ransom. Then all of a sudden the Japanese prime minister in January 2015, you know, went to Cairo gave a speech where he launched this proposal to change Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which prevents Japan to do any military intervention unless it's directly under attack. And this is how everything changed all of a sudden. So all of a sudden these hostages not worth the money alive, they were worth much more dead.
AMT: Well, let's talk about deals because at one point you talk about 60 to 100 million euros for hostage pay outs. How can that be?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, I mean, a hostage can, I mean, a hostage can be worth six million euros easily.
AMT: So who's paying?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: The governments of course. I mean, all the hostages that were released, it was paid by the government, apart from the Danish hostage, which was not paid by the government, it was paid by the family who raised money among various communities. But there again, we don't know, of course, you know, we don't know the full amount of the money because nobody released this kind of information. But from my research the Danish hostage was worth about six million and this is only one hostage.
AMT: The US, Britain and Canada say they do not pay ransom. Should that change?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: OK, so everybody pays something. I'm not saying that everybody pays money, but even the United States gets deals. So you may get an hostage back through exchanging prisoners. Now, when the hostage is a soldier, generally they will get you out one way or another because you can’t leave anybody behind. Different things of course if the hostage is a journalist, an aid worker, then the situation changes. Now, in the US there was a law that prevented the families from paying the ransom.
AMT: In Canada as well.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Absolutely. So you will be prosecuted for financing of terrorism if you pay the ransom because, you know, technically speaking you are, we did discuss this, they use the money to fund themselves, so of course. But the law changed in the US after the beheading of James Foley. So now in the United States, the family can step in without fearing to be prosecuted by the US government. I mean, I think in Canada that law is still in place. I think this is very controversial. Paying ransom, clearly reinforces the kidnapping industry as a good source of revenues for these people.
AMT: You also make the point, you use the case of Kayla Mueller, she was called an aid worker.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes.
AMT: Although she'd never been trained as one. Her first foray into Syria is with her boyfriend going to Medecins Sans Frontieres, who actually get upset that she's there. Why?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, because number one, they didn't know she was coming. Number two, she was an American. So at that time of course in America was a very high prey for, you know, the kidnappers. Medicins Sans Frontieres also had some problems in the previous weeks with some of their staff being kidnapped, so they did not want an American in their compound at all, especially overnight. I mean, the rule at that time was you go in, you do whatever you need to do and then you come out, you do not spend the night.
AMT: You don't hang around.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: No.
AMT: You make the point that there's a golden hour. There's a moment in time when if somebody is taken you can get them out of there relatively inexpensively.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes, yes. So the golden hour can be 24 hours after the kidnapping or it can be the week after kidnapping. Why it’s called the golden hour? Because number one, the trail is still hot, so you can still find the person. There is a story in the book again about an Italian and a German that were kidnapped in Afghanistan. Eventually the Italian was killed in a drone attack three years after. But the first week after the kidnapping, they were kept in a house just around the corner from where they were kidnapped. So a good search of the area would have probably freed them within a week. So this golden hour is important if you use professionals.
AMT: Because they're also going to trade up, they're going to sell those people. Very soon.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Exactly. So you can get them out for very little money because the majority of the cases is that people are kidnapped by small gangs or specialize in snatching hostages. But they don't have the infrastructure to keep them alive or to negotiate also for big ransoms. So they will go in the secondary market and sell them within a week.
AMT: You write that the migrant crisis could force Europe to confront its hypocrisy. What do you mean by that?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, the Europeans do not have a foreign policy. And proof to that is what is happening in Syria. We have Syria is next door to us, it’s our backyard and we have a civil war which has turned into a proxy war where everybody who is anybody is involved. Funding this destruction, total destruction. So that to me is a huge failure of Europe.
AMT: And so you have the smuggling of people, the migrants, we haven't even gotten to the selling of people like the Yazidi women, and then you have the kidnapping. What responsibility do our governments bear then for the misery that these merchants of men as you call them continue to perpetrate?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Huge. Because what I say in the book is all of this will not have happened if globalization was working. In reality, globalization is not working. Globalization has destabilized, I mean the end of the Cold War and globalization has destabilized huge huge areas of the world. If you look at the picture of the world in 1985 and the picture of the world today, the world is shrinking. There is less security in the world. People don't go on holiday in France anymore because they're afraid. People don't go to the beaches of Tunisia anymore because they're afraid to be killed by the jihadis. People don't go and visit the pyramids anymore because they're afraid.
AMT: But the bank accounts are getting bigger. Again, just the final number here, what kind of money are we talking about on an annual basis?
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Oh, it's impossible to calculate. Because I mean, it takes place everywhere. But I would say that countries like, all the Sahel, for example, is kept alive by trafficking people and smuggling to illegal activities. Middle East, same story, the number one source of revenues is smuggling migrants. There are no other resources, people are not farming anymore, people are not doing anything, I mean it’s total war. It’s a sort of combination of criminality together with terrorist activity that is now keeping alive large segments of the world.
AMT: You know that phrase follow the money, that’s what you’ve done. It’s really disturbing, but thank you for your work.
LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes, thank you.
AMT: Loretta Napoleoni is the author of several books including The Islamist Phoenix: The Islamic State and the Redrawing of the Middle East. I should say that's a tiny little book, it's quite incredible to read because she does follow the money. Her latest book, the one she was just talking about is called Merchants of Men: How Jihadists and ISIS Turned Kidnapping and Refugee Trafficking into a Multi-Billion Dollar Business. Loretta Napoleoni was in our Toronto studio. And she is an economist turned journalist and that's why she follows the money. Fascinating reading, Merchants of Men and The Islamist Phoenix, we have a lot of books on ISIS through here, but those are two of the very best. If you are just joining us part way through, remember you can download our podcast or go to our website and listen right there, we archive all of our interviews cbc.ca/thecurrent. You can also get the podcast from the CBC Radio app or go to Google Play for the radio app or the app store, listen to the podcast. Anyway, tweet us we are @TheCurrentCBC, find us on Facebook. Thank you for listening to The Current. I’m Anna-Maria Tremonti, thanks for listening to The Current.
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