The manner in which Mohammed Morsi became the first elected president of Egypt in June made confrontation inevitable between his Muslim Brotherhood and an army that has held power for the past 60 years. The generals had maneuvered to dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament, appropriate its legislative powers, and award themselves the right to dictate the new constitution.
Yet, the struggle for power has — so far — taken the form of a jostle for position. Morsi defied the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Mubarak-era supreme constitutional court by convening the dissolved parliament. It was then adjourned by the Brotherhood-aligned speaker after a matter of minutes. The president had put down a marker.
Parliament served notice of a legal challenge against its closure, but made clear it respected the rule of law and separation of powers (it was the constitutional court that dissolved the assembly).
A threatened collision was instead turned into rituals of institutional respect. The Brothers are not by nature precipitate. Their tactics are those of the long march.
The real clash will come over the new constitution. Morsi has conceded that elections for a new parliament should take place after the constitution is agreed. But he seems to assume it will be drawn up by a group chosen by the ousted parliament, which packed it with Islamists at the expense of women, minority Coptic Christians and liberals — not to mention constitutional experts.
The generals have made it clear they will not allow the Islamists to superimpose sharia law on Egypt. Some of them even cite Ataturk — who imposed a secular order on post-Ottoman Turkey — to justify and explain their intentions.
Islam should, of course, be recognized as one fount of law, but never overriding universal rights. This debate is central not just to Egypt’s future. Getting it right will shape the future of the region.
Financial Times, London
Target stores coming to Canada
The arrival of Target stores in Canada has generally been hailed as a good thing. The American-owned Zellers chain was bought out by the more dynamic American retailer and its stores will be converted to the Target brand. The move creates some new jobs, considerable capital investment and offers consumers a better choice.
It doesn’t seem like something that should have to be approved by the federal government, and yet, it is. The Investment Canada Act enables the government to determine if such deals would be of net benefit to Canada.
The government has said yes, no surprise, and graciously granted Target approval to sell Canadian “cultural products” in its stores.
Some have interpreted this to mean Target must carry Canadian content, but that’s not the case. Instead, the government is granting an exemption to 20-year-old rules that dictate all elements of the culture business must be Canadian controlled.
To do otherwise would have been silly. Foreign-owned retailers like Costco and Walmart already sell Canadian books, CDs and DVDs.
The government says allowing Target to sell Canadian products will benefit our cultural industries. That’s old-fashioned reasoning. Book, music and video stores are struggling to survive as people switch to digital entertainment. Target can’t stem that tide.
The government was right to allow Target to sell what it wants, but the rules that give government a say are outmoded. Canadian content rules might have had their day, but it is long past. Culture is global now — and increasingly, digital. Canadians don’t need government to tell them what they can buy or who can sell it to them.
Ottawa (Ontario) Citizen