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Every neighbourhood, every family and child, should have access to great parks.

Sat, 2016-08-20 10:39

Over the past little while, Greater Sudbury has gained incredible parkland and playgrounds from the generosity of community members.  Lily Fielding contributed more than $1 million to the creation and development of Kivi Park in the Long Lake area in the South End.  Kelly and Cory Morel have so far committed $250,000 for a splash pad and park improvements in Minnow Lake.   Fundraising from family members and a community committee, and in-kind donations from local businesses led to the opening of the DJ Hancock Memorial Park in the south end.  These parks will be enjoyed by many families for many years.

It is a striking reminder of the powerful positive impact an individual, family or small group of people with resources and generosity can make for their fellow citizens.

It is also a reminder of the importance and impact of great parks.   Every neighbourhood, every family and child, should have access to great parks.   Not every neighbourhood will have a benefactor.  That is why, collectively, as a City, parks are our responsibility.   We have some amazing parks in Greater Sudbury.  There are also neighbourhoods where kids don’t have the parks they need, and that’s when we as a city need to step up.  Providing a decent playground for the kids at Ryan Heights and protecting the Donovan Mountain as parkland are two current examples of needs we should be meeting.

According to the OMBI (Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative), in 2013, the cost per person to operate our parks was $57. 

Over the past little while, I have heard many people say, “If I had the money, I’d do that.  I’d donate a big chunk of parkland, or build a great playground.”  But here’s the thing.  You, me, all of us do have the money, because we are taxpayers, and parks are public.  So don’t wait.  Pick up the phone and tell your councillor that you’d support a bit of a tax increase for great parks for everyone.  Most of us don’t have a million.  But I bet we each have $6.25, and that adds up to the same thing, if we choose.

The Struggle Continues For Your Postal Service

Fri, 2016-08-19 15:07
Canadian Union of Postal Workers negotiate for fair contract in 2016

Amid an on-going labour dispute the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) continues the struggle for a fair contract for their members and a vibrant public service for their customers. The union has been working towards a contract since November 2015 and while in a legal strike position since July 2, 2016 it was the corporation that began issuing notices of potential lock-outs beginning July 5. Over the past several weeks labour rights activists, other public service unions, various branches of government and ordinary folk have been watching as the company and union engage in debate over pay equity, pension structure and expansion of services. During a press conference in Sudbury held Wednesday July 6 by CUPW Local 612, Executive President Al McMahon stated firmly his members “want to continue serving the public with mail delivery.” Not only that, he reassured residents and business owners of Sudbury, Espanola, Manitoulin and French River, CUPW wants to remain at the bargaining table. “We want a negotiated settlement,” he insisted. In stark contrast all indications suggest the company is determined to force binding arbitration. McMahon, a 28-year member of the union has been through contract negotiations with Canada Post (CP) several times, most recently in 2011 when after two weeks of rotating job actions the union was legislated back to work by the then-Harper government - a move that just this past April the Ontario Superior Court deemed illegal and unconstitutional under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Labour experts are now watching very closely as the Trudeau government currently sits in a position to uphold its claim of respect for labour and the collective bargaining process. Not only are the federal Liberals being expected to maintain a ‘hands-off’ approach to labour negotiations but having campaigned in favour of gender equality and retirement security, calls for government accountability on these issues have been made loud and clear. With their postal service seemingly in limbo many people have educated themselves on the issues put forth by CUPW and are lending their voices to a mounting cry for fairness. PAY EQUITY This isn’t the first time postal workers have fought for pay equity. McMahon delighted in pointing out the income inequality complaint first filed in 1983 when “Trudeau-senior was Prime Minister.” The complaint, filed on behalf of some 2,300 mostly female clerical workers, was finally resolved in 2011 at the Supreme Court level with a $250 million settlement. It is no wonder CUPW National President Mike Palecek continues to stress pay equity rights are a matter of law and not something to be doled out or withheld under binding arbitration. This round’s major pay equity negotiation item is on behalf of the rural and suburban mail carrier unit (RSMC) a predominantly (70%) female workforce. They currently earn almost 30% less than urban letter carriers - a workforce comprised mostly of men. The fact that the twenty-two Vice Presidents at Canada Post and President / CEO Deepak Chopra - a Harper-appointee who earns $500,000 plus bonuses annually - refuse to consider an hourly wage for RSMC workers does not sit well with most people. Labour groups, women’s rights organizations, political parties, major unions including other public service unions, business analysts and ordinary people are alternately calling for Chopra’s resignation and/or demanding ‘Trudeau-junior’ support CUPW’s pay equity demand. They cite labour law and human rights principles, recall campaign promises and remind the PM with a quick quip that this should be a no-brainer ‘because it’s 2016’. PENSIONS Al McMahon is not only the CUPW Local 612 Executive President, he is also a letter carrier. When it comes to pensions even he was curious what business analysts mean when they refer to postal workers enjoying “gold-plated pensions”. He said he checked into his current pension situation thinking, “Hey if I have a gold-plated pension I can retire. I can go golfing every day, down south. I can move down there for six months.” He continued with some regret, “It turns out it’s not a gold-plated pension. It’s a plastic-plated pension.” In reality if McMahon works until 2020, bringing his service commitment to a full twenty-five years, he will likely be eligible for about $24,500 annually making his ‘plastic pension pronouncement’ ring sadly accurate. He went on to concede that postal workers have a modest pension and they believe every worker should have at least that. Unfortunately most do not. Let’s not remind McMahon that as a result of a Conservative government re-appointment during pre-election 2015 Chopra is guaranteed another five years at the helm - or at the very least a substantial severance package - an arrangement worth a minimum 2.5 million dollars. When asked to resign in December 2015 by the newly elected Liberal government one wonders if Chopra’s refusal to step down was motivated by a need to continue saving for his retirement. Current Canada Post employees have what is called a defined benefits pension plan with guaranteed payouts based on a fixed interest rate. The union insists future co-workers should be entitled to the same level of retirement security. Federal Liberals campaigned on promises to enhance retirement security for eligible workers and the Ontario Liberals are currently touting similar virtues around the defined benefits pension model. Canada Post management seeks to impose a defined contributions pension plan on new hires which would not include guaranteed payouts and is tied to varying interest rates based on market fluctuations. Such an arrangement would effectively create a two-tiered pension system within the workforce - something the union will not accept. Phil Marsh, a postal clerk in Sudbury and Second Vice President of the local executive explained why the union is confident in the existing pension structure. “The corporation is very profitable. When they say they can’t afford the pension this is based on a solvency deficit valuation - if the corporation were to shut it’s doors and have to pay out all workers. We the workers believe Canada Post is not closing it’s doors any time soon.” Equally unlikely is the prospect of all CP employees retiring en masse. The absurdity of either scenario is, unfortunately, a tactic the company is more than comfortable pandering as conceivable to media and the public when they claim pension demands will cost the company one billion dollars. People are becoming increasingly unwilling to continue buying in to this rhetoric. Not only is the corporation viable, generating profits of $164 million in 2014, $99 million in 2015 and $44 million in the first quarter of 2016, Marsh stated employee contributions currently maintain the pension fund at 106 per cent. “When we say we are fighting for future generations we are talking about things like this pension and workers who aren’t even hired yet. Workers in the past fought for gains we all benefit from today. We are going to do the same with this contract,” he said. EXPANDING SERVICES When asked how the union’s desire to expand services is a contract issue McMahon described the link between the closure of some 1,700 post offices across Canada between 1981 and 2013 and the ability to not only maintain a good postal service for the public but to expand into other services such as postal banking. In the past the union successfully negotiated for the protection from closure of 493 post offices. During this round of negotiations they will have to fight for this protection once again. On June 25, 2016 the corporation’s first and final global offer included the following: “Eliminate protection of the 493 Corporate Offices permitting CPC to close all corporate retail facilities.” Over the past thirty years hundreds of communities have been devastated by the loss of their local post office. Public outcry motivated the federal Liberal government in 1994 to announce a moratorium on post office closures. At every contract renewal CUPW has to continue bargaining against post office closures as well as resist the opening of retail franchises that essentially undermine the company’s own outlets. McMahon explained, “Each time the company opens one of these small, drugstore wickets they outsource our jobs to differently-skilled workers who are usually in part time, precarious positions earning minimum wage. These outlets look enough like a post office that people don’t even realise how badly the public institution is being eroded. Holding on to the remaining outlets ensures we have viable sites for expanded services such as postal banking.” Marsh described the prospect of postal banking as very lucrative and something the public is keenly interested in. “Postal banking has been tested around the world and generates enormous revenue for countries such as Switzerland, Italy, France, New Zealand. Even Canada had postal banking up until 1969. The corporation even did a study from 2009 to 2013 and have concealed the details. Our union is demanding the results of that study knowing they represent a win-win situation for the company and the public when it comes to postal banking.” He continued, “The Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ vision for the post office involves expanding services and generating more revenue - profits that would be kept in the hands of the public and could subsidize social initiatives. This is in contrast though to Canada Post’s vision of cutting door-to-door, closing post offices and cutting jobs. Typically with austerity measures like these the public who use the service pay more for less. That’s needless with the opportunities we have.” Currently thousands of rural and low-income communities do not have a local bank but still have a post office. The proliferation of predatory lenders is something many feel could be combated with the availability of postal banking. The corporation could also offer federal and provincial government services in communities where these have been reduced or eliminated. Marsh concluded, “People are speaking and they want leadership for this company to promote and grow this public service. It was built by the public and the public are major stakeholders in this. They want leadership that will represent the public’s interest. We have many good ideas to promote the post office and the public service.” POSTAL REVIEW When asked how people in Sudbury can show their solidarity with the union McMahon highlighted two options that not only support postal workers but ensure people are fighting for their rights when it comes to maintaining and improving their postal service. “Write to your MP, especially Paul Lefebrve who had a townhall meeting in May to talk about the Liberal government’s public review of Canada Post. People can also write to the public review task force. They want to hear from us, what we want for our postal service.” A willingness to participate in the public review is seen by many as direct resistance to Canada Post’s on-going agenda of austerity measures and the push towards privatization. McMahon said, “Once the election ended, the public spoke saying they didn’t want any part of that.” He encourages people to continue expressing their disinterest in privatization. He explained Judy Foote, the minister in charge of Canada Post, insists privatization is no longer being considered but the union is not convinced current leadership at the crown corporation has abandoned such plans. He concluded, “We have to remember who owns the post office. It’s the public. It’s all of us. We are the owners of the post office.” It is a reminder that bears repeating because while the union is once again fighting for a fair contract for it’s members and future employees they are tackling issues that potentially affect everyone. With cautious optimism many people are looking to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the federal government and to each other for the kind of solidarity that can ensure continued viability for the corporation but also fulfill a renewed vision for a postal service we can all be proud of.

Heal the Land, Heal the People

Thu, 2016-08-18 19:00
A Reflection on the 2016 Unist'ot'en Action Camp

The seventh annual Unis’ot’en Action Camp happened July 13 to 17 this summer, followed by a new Indigenous Youth Art Camp, July 18 to 30. As their website explains, “The Unis’tot’en (C’ihlts’ehkhyu / Big Frog Clan) are the original Wet’suwet’en Yintah Wewat Zenli distinct to the lands of the Wet’suwet’en.” The Unist’ot’en are brilliant long-term thinkers, with the kind of intelligence and skills we need to all learn in an era of escalating climate change.

Freda Huson and her partner Dini Ze Toghestiy hold the action camp annually, creating a space of healing and learning that honours what it means to be human—to live together and co-exist with dignity, humbleness, humour, and an intelligence that is grounded in long-term thinking over many generations. Where short-term capitalist thinking has wrought the climate crisis that we currently find ourselves in as a planet, long-term thinking like that shown by Freda and Toghestiy holds our future, as a species, if we are to continue living on this planet in generations to come.

The Wedzin Kwah (also known as the Morice River) flows through the Unist’ot’en Camp, providing clean drinking water that does not need to be treated in order to drink it. This is a rare and crucial reminder of what a healthy state of co-existence with the land and watershed involves; the people living along this river keep it clean. The Unist’ot’en are guardians who remind us of what commonly existed throughout Turtle Island before settlers (or unsettlers, depending on how you see it) arrived—a state of balance built on care and knowledgeable respect for the rivers and forests that make our lives possible.

Together over five days, participants worked on building the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, ate meals provided by the land and its beings (hands up to the amazing Julia and all the volunteer cooks!), learned from one another through workshops, and enacted community on the land. The workshop topics included messaging, Indigenous self-care, settler solidarity, Internet security, growing food in greenhouses, fund-raising, carbon offsets and GMO trees, and more.

The Unist’ot’en and their supporters are working to raise thousands more dollars to complete the healing centre. All who care about the land and building better relations with Indigenous people have a joyful responsibility to support this work. To contribute from afar, see http://unistoten.camp/#donate.

Long-term thinking involves seeing the larger ecological relations that link different places. This global perspective was wisely demonstrated in Mel Bazil’s workshop on the dangers posed by carbon offsets, which have often served to dispossess Indigenous peoples rather than supporting them. Any proposed solutions to climate change need to pass the first test of whether they support Indigenous peoples living on their homelands, enacting the relations that need to exist between people and the land, or whether they further alienate Indigenous peoples from right livelihood.

During the camp, Yvonne Tupper also offered a moving update from Treaty 8 First Nations who recently held their eleventh annual Paddle to protect the Peace River Valley from being flooded and destroyed by the Site C dam. They are gearing up for the next court hearing, which will occur Sept 12 in Montreal.

Cities rely on the unjust sacrifices of places that seem far away, but are integral to the daily fabric of our urban lives. For instance, roughly a third of the electricity used in Vancouver comes from WAC Bennett dam on the Peace River, which flooded and destroyed the homelands of the TseKehNay, among others. Those who use BC’s electricity grid owe a debt to those who live in the Peace River watershed, and this is why many are standing with them in their efforts to protect the Peace River from the unnecessary Site C dam, which would destroy rich agricultural land that could feed a million people.

Those of us who live in cities have a real stake in living more ethically, without destroying the forests and farmlands that we also need for the health of the planet. We have a responsibility to give back, to reciprocate, and to build better relations than the divide-and-conquer set-up imposed by colonial thinking. We are capable of better, as human beings, and finding out how to achieve this better path is a more meaningful purpose for this society than short-term profit at the expense of future generations.

The Unist’ot’en Action Camp stands steadfast where it is, simultaneously healing people and land while obstructing numerous pipeline proposals. While this year may have been quieter than last year’s camp, everyone is well aware that things could easily heat up again if the prices for fracked gas (which poisons water) rise again. So, this year feels like a time to re-gather and plan for the world that is both possible and necessary, one that is guided by an ethics of giving back to the earth and one another, rather than destroying the one home planet we have through ceaseless extraction and cancerous growth. Slowing down and returning to voluntary simplicity is a necessary part of humanity’s path forward, as enacted with beautiful precision by the Unist’ot’en.

 

World Forum on Free Media Opens in Montreal

Sun, 2016-08-07 23:42
100 participants attend opening evening of week-long Forum

The 5th World Forum on Free Media (WFFM) opened on Sunday night, August 7. Around 100 people were in attendance for the start of what is the first time the event has been held in the global north. It was hosted at l'Auditoire on St Laurent, which is also the location of Radio Centre-Ville 102.3.

Several people spoke at the launch, and a film was shown describing part of the Forum's history. 

Overshadowing the event was the issue of many visas having been denied for people from around the world hoping to attend the World Social Forum, which begins on Tuesday, August 9. As of writing, the Canadian government has denied over 200 people travel visas, and some estimates put that number substantially higher.

At the WFFM launch, a statement from World Social Forum organizers and supporters to the Canadian government was read, asking for the visas to be granted. A version of the letter is available in French here.

After this, speakers at the WFFM launch spoke about international politics, grassroots media, the non-profit industrial complex, the history of the WFFM, and more.

A 30-minute film was shown, #4.1 FMML. (FMML is the French acronym for the WFFM, Forum mondiale des médias libres). The film, shown for the first time on Sunday outside of France, is about the World Charter of Free Media, which was finalized at the previous WFFM in 2015 in Tunis, Tunisia.

The World Forum on Free Media in Montreal runs until August 14 and registration is free. The program can be seen here.

subMedia.tv at the World Forum on Free Media

Fri, 2016-08-05 16:19

Within the frame of an Indymedia convergence during the World Forum on Free Media, subMedia.tv is hosting 3 events. To view the entire program for the the forum click here.

subMedia.tv: A Decade of Subversion and Street Politics 101 screening.

Monday August 8 at 10:45 AM – 1:45 PM
McGill Arts Building Room 150
Facebook Event Page – https://www.facebook.com/events/643253439162085/


Anarchist video production ensemble still producing crowd funded radical films for over 13 years.
In 2003 subMedia.tv produced its first anarchist film “Join the Resistance: Fall in Love!” inspired by the writings of CrimethInc. 13 years later and subMedia.tv is still bringing anarchy to the screen with its newest offering Street Politics 101 a video report on the militant battles of the 2012 Quebec student strike.
A Decade of subversion will be a celebration of subMedia.tv’s video sabotage, with picks from the best videos from the over 200 it produced during the past 13 years and a talk by its founder Franklin López. The program will include clips from “It’s the end of the world as we know it and i feel fine”, shorts about shoplifting, mash-ups, short docs and Street Politics 101.
McGill Arts Building Room 150

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Monday, August 8 at 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM
McGill Arts Building Room 145
Facebook Event Page – https://www.facebook.com/events/186887765062965/

This is a story of how a grassroots indigenous movement defending their lands from pipeline projects, was able to stop Canadian Federal police through the use of social media.
Last summer, members of the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) attempted to illegally enter the Unist’ot’en Camp, a re-occupation of traditional Wet’suwet’en territory by members of that nation, that sits in front of a dozen or so oil and gas pipeline proposals. With the recent history of the brutal RCMP raid of the fracking blockade by indigenous Mi’kmaq Warriors, the Unist’ot’en acted quickly and released a series of videos of the RCMP incursion and trespassing attempts by pipeline companies, on their website and through social media. The effect was outstanding. The videos went viral and several over them reached over 1 million views. Outcries by citizens from around the word forced the hand of the RCMP, and it was revealed the they were indeed amassing personal for a large scale raid of the camp.

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Video distribution in the era of Facebook
Wednesday, August 10 at 2 PM – 3:15 PM
Ferrier Building room 230 – 840 avenue du Docteur-Penfield McGill Campus
Facebook Event Page – https://www.facebook.com/events/321494801522142/

This is event is part of the Indymedia Covergence taking place during the World Forum in Free Media

Before Youtube was even an idea, Indymedia provided open an publishing platform for autonomous video producers. Today, video distribution is dominated by corporations, who with the stroke of a key can arbitrarily take down videos and even video channels. Our dependency on these corporate services, and the lack of a solid alternative has left independent video producers vulnerable and at the mercy of for profit conglomerates. We invite video ninjas, filmmakers, media geeks and hackers to help us lay the groundwork and brainstorm ideas on new ways of to distribute video free from corporate control.

Moderated by Franklin López of subMedita.tv,
Andréa Schmidt, Journalist & Documentary Filmmaker,
Chris Robe, author of “Breaking the Spell: A History of Anarchist Filmmakers, Videotape Guerrillas, and Digital Ninjas.”
Vlad Teichberg of globalrevolution.tv

Over 200 visas refused or blocked for World Social Forum attendees

Fri, 2016-08-05 13:46
Canadian Government denies entry to those seeking to attend international gathing in Montreal next week

Travel visas for at least 170 people hoping to travel to Montreal for the World Social Forum next week have been refused, according to Metro News, and the total number of visas refused or blocked is over 200, according to the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN).

These are people from all over the world, including Mali, Brazil, Palestine, Iran, Congo, Nigeria, Morocco, Haiti, Nepal and more.

This is the first time a World Social Forum, a highly international event founded in 2001, has been held in a country in the global north.

A text was posted earlier this week, on August 3rd, by the Montreal Indymedia Convergence Organizing Team decrying the visa refusals known at that time, which were not known to be at the 200+ level.

The text from August 3rd included testimony from a number of people around the world having visa troubles, like this:

“SaharaReporters issued all the necessary documentation for our delegates from Nigeria,” said Omoyele Sowore, founder and publisher of the edgy media outlet that has been called the WikiLeaks of Africa. “We expected that if the Canadian consulate was in doubt of our capability to support our delegates, that they would ask us for further documentation. This was not done; all delegates sponsored by us had their visa applications denied. The Canadian government ought to know that in accepting the WSF to be hosted on Canadian soil, it had agreed to accept all persons regardless of race, class or social geography.”

The August 3rd text also critiqued the decision to hold the World Social Forum in a global north country, noting long-standing concerns around freedom of mobility to a such locations:

Given this well-known power imbalance in the globalised world, the decision to hold the World Social Forum in Canada, a notoriously difficult country to gain entry, should have been coupled with a proactive commitment on the part of the International Council and the local organizing committee of the WSF to follow through with and facilitate the approval of visas requested by WSF registrants. Participation of the global south in the WSF is fundamental if we are to keep the WSF tradition authentically rooted in the experienced needs of the majority of our planet’s population. It is unacceptable that a WSF be organised without explicit support of activists from the global south.

The organizers of the World Social Forum have sent Canadian government officials a letter asking that visas be granted to World Social Forum participants without delay.

The World Social Forum begins on August 9th and runs until August 14. Well over 10 000 people are expected to attend.

 

 

 

 

 

UN Special Rapporteur joins prominent Canadian, Quebec and Indigenous speakers to discuss state of dissent and free expression in Canada

Fri, 2016-08-05 13:01
Event to take place at the World Social Forum in Montreal on Aug. 11

Montreal (Aug. 5 2016)–An important discussion on the state of dissent and free expression in Canada is set to take place on Aug. 11 at the 2016 World Social Forum in Montreal.

Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association will be joining three prominent Canadian, Indigenous and Quebec speakers in conversation about the state of free expression in the country.

Mr. Kiai will be joined by:

  • Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum), one of the co-founders of Idle No More, is a nêhiyaw (Cree) woman, a citizen of the nêhiyaw Nation, author of "Nationhood Interrupted: Revitalizing Nehiyaw Legal Systems" and holds a Juris Doctorate (LL.B) from the University of Saskatchewan.
  • Leilani Farha, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty and UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing
  • John Philpot, defense lawyer, specialist in international criminal law, and a member of the coordinating committee of the BDS-Quebec Coalition.

Since October 2015, the new federal government has hailed a change in Canadian politics towards greater openness, debate and discussion. But has the situation shifted, and what remains to be addressed? This roundtable will present one of the first opportunities to hear an in-depth account of the current situation and compare it to trends in other parts of the world.

  • What: Raising Our Voices: The state of dissent and free expression across Canada
  • When: Aug. 11 from 9am to 11:30am
  • Where: Université du Québec à Montréal –SH Building (Room SH-3620), 200 Sherbrooke Street West

This event is organized by the Voices-Voix Coalition, Pas de démocratie sans voix and the Canadian Council for International Co-operation.

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Contact:

Tim McSorley, Voices-Voix coordinator: 514-561-9919

WSF media accreditation: https://fsm2016.org/en/medias/

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/642388669253292/

Le refus ou la retenue injustifiée des visas pour les participant­es de l’hémisphère sud par les ambassades canadiennes est inacceptable

Thu, 2016-08-04 14:13
Les organisateurs­trices en appellent à une réaction : «Nous en appelons au comité organisateur local du FSM à Montréal, au Comité International du FSM, et à l’ensemble des organisateurs- trices, des créateurs­trices et des activistes investies dans l’intégrité du FSM à répondre à cette situation injustifiée de refus massif de visas pour les participant­es du Sud du globe.» Dans moins d’une semaine, le tout premier Forum Social Mondial à se tenir dans l’hémisphère nord débutera à Montréal, Québec. À moins de prendre action rapidement, un nombre significatif de délégué­es des pays de l’hémisphère sud ne pourront participer à l’événement en raison de délais injustifiés et de refus dans le processus de remise des visas par les ambassades canadiennes de plusieurs pays.   Les membres organisateurs travaillant avec le Indymedia Africa Working Group (IAWG) sont au fait d’au moins quatre suspensions, et de dix refus de visas injustifiés au sein des pays desquels les membres du groupe de travail habitent. Quatre journalistes nigérians du Sahara Reporters ont été rejetés sur la base prétendue que leur demande ne fournissait pas les détails bancaires de leur organisation, même si l’ambassade n’a jamais demandé ces documents bancaires. Deux activistes bien connus des droits humains provenant du Mali, incluant la présidente de l’Association de Défense des Droits des Aides ménagères et des Domestiques (ADDAD), ont vu leurs demandes refusées sous le prétexte qu’ils­elles leurs « manquait une raison claire de faire le voyage ». La situation est la même pour le refus des visas d’organisateurs­trices populaires du réseau « No Vox Afrique », particulièrement ceux et celles du Bénin, du Burkina Faso et du Togo.   Jusqu’à maintenant, il n’y a pas eu de réponse pour les demandes d’une activiste des droits des femmes du Nigéria, un organisateur étudiant du Ghana et un­e journaliste radio du Ghana, malgré le fait que leurs demandes aient été soumises bien en avance des échéances que le gouvernement canadien indique pour les procédures régulières.   « C’est inacceptable pour les ambassades d’être en mesure de refuser des visas sur la base d’excuses aussi fragiles que “manque de raison claires pour faire le voyage,” » mentionne Moussa Coulibaly, délégué de IAWG au Mali, qui a également vu sa demande de visa refusée.   Les autorités canadiennes auraient simplement dû interdire l’organisation du Forum social mondial (FSM) dans leur pays plutôt que de tenter de le déstabiliser par un refus massif de visas aux participant­es. »   « J’ai été à l’Organisation International pour la Migration, » dit Akonnor Owusu Larbi, organisateur  étudiant et délégué de IAWG au Ghana. « L’organisation est responsable de recevoir les demandes de visas canadiens au Ghana. Le jour de la soumission de ma demande d’application, ils­elles m’ont dit d’attendre jusqu’à ce que je reçoive du courrier ou un appel de leur part. Ils­elles  m’ont assuré que cela ne prendrait pas plus de 23 jours. J’ai appliqué le 29 juin 2016... Ce n’est pas normal. »   « Le SaharaReporters a délivré toute la documentation nécessaire pour nos délégué­es du Nigéria, » mentionne Omoyele Sowore, fondateur et éditeur de l’organe de presse provocateur considéré comme le Wikileaks d’Afrique. « Nous nous attendions à ce que si le consulat canadien ait des doutes sur notre capacité à soutenir nos délégué­es, qu’il nous demande davantage de documentation. Cela n’a pas été fait; l’ensemble des délégué­es que nous avions commandités ont vu leurs demandes de visas refusées. Le gouvernement canadien devrait savoir qu’en acceptant que le FSM se tienne en sol canadien, ils avaient donné leur accord pour accepter tout le monde sans considération raciale, économique ou sociale.   “Au Brésil, nous avons eu des exclusions politiques et économiques,” mentionne Rita Freire de Ciranda Brasil. “[Un activiste] qui organise Cine Medios Libre, et assure la couverture de la violence policière contre les manifestant­es, a vu son visa refusé malgré qu’il ait déjà acheté son billet et montré des preuves financières pour le voyage. [D’autres] qui voulaient faire une présentation sur le désastre de Mariana, les barrages qui ont cédé causant une coulée de boue meurtrière qui a détruit plusieurs villes, ont aussi vu leurs visas refusés par la diplomatie canadienne.... Si le gouvernement du Canada a promis des engagements au FSM, pour respecter les conditions requises pour un forum minimalement inclusif, il est clair que cela n’a pas été honoré.”   Même sans compter ces abus aussi frappants, le processus de candidature pour des visas est une des principales difficultés auxquelles font face les citoyens des pays de l’hémisphère sud, particulièrement quand ces visas sont pour voyager vers le nord. La nature invasive des formulaires détaillés, le temps d’attente, le besoin fréquent de se rendre à l’ambassade pour soumettre la demande, et les coûts dispendieux du processus rendent l’expérience extrêmement dispendieuse pour beaucoup d’organisateur­trices populaires.   “Les activistes de l’Iraq n’ont même pas essayé d’appliquer pour un visa, comprenant que ce serait extrêmement difficile puisqu’ils et elles devaient appliquer en Jordanie,” mentionne Martina Pignatti de l’Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative. “Ils et elles vont organiser une activité parallèle à Bagdad, et nous nous connecterons à partir d’un télécentre [à Montréal].   En raison de ce déséquilibre de pouvoir bien connu dans le monde globalisé, la décision de tenir le Forum Social Mondial au Canada, un pays notoirement reconnu pour sa difficulté à y entrer, aurait dû être couplée à un engagement proactif de la part du Conseil International et du comité organisateur local du FSM pour assurer le suivi et faciliter l’approbation des visas demandés par les participant­es au FSM. La participation des pays du sud est fondamentale pour préserver la tradition du FSM qui est authentiquement ancrée dans l’expérience et les besoins de la majorité de la population de notre planète. Il est inacceptable qu’un FSM soit organisé sans le soutien explicite des activistes de l’hémisphère sud.   ‘Non seulement ce n’est pas une surprise, mais c’était en fait prévisible! C’est une des raisons pour lesquelles les mouvements sociaux du Sud se sont opposés à la tenue du FSM dans un pays du Nord,’ mentionne Demba Moussa Dembele. ‘Ils sont protégés par le comportement des ambassades canadiennes.’   ‘Chacun­e d’entre nous connaît les difficultés associées à l’obtention d’un visa pour les personnes venant du Sud et de l’Est... c’est une grosse responsabilité politique!’ affirme Mireille Fanon-Mendès­-France de la Fondation Frantz­-Fanon (Paris). ‘Comment un Forum peut­il être productif sans l’ensemble de ses acteurs­trices? Le CI doit prendre un engagement fort au début du forum... toutes les communications provenant du processus FSM doivent souligner cette guerre contre certaines personnes, organisée par les États eurocentristes dirigés par la suprématie blanche.’   ‘Le refus de ces visas est en ligne avec le maintien d’un agenda mondial néolibéral,’ mentionne l’organisateur d’IAWG Valentine Eben. ‘Les capitalistes peuvent tenir leurs rencontres n’importe où dans le monde – des visas sont même distribués à des personnes qui ont été accusées ou qui font l’objet d’enquête pour des crimes de guerre ou des crimes contre l’humanité! Mais certains endroits du globe sont innacessible aux activistes – surtout les activistes provenant des pays du sud. C’est inacceptable; nous ne pouvons tolérer que ce soit le cas ce mois­ci à Montréal.’   ‘C’est assurément un développement majeur qui attaque l’intégrité du FSM en tant qu’espace global qui a été respecté par tous les gouvernements du Sud peu importe où se tenait le FSM,’ affirme Brid Brennan de l’Institut Transnational. ‘Ce genre d’action de la part des affaires étrangères et domestiques canadiennes fait assurément partie d’une attaque majeure que nous constatons à l’échelle mondiale sur les droits des peuples à se déplacer, en plus de contribuer à la criminalisation des mouvements sociaux, humains, et environnementaux.’   Nous en appelons au comité organisateur local du FSM à Montréal, à Comité International du FSM, et à l’ensemble des organisateurs­trices, des créateurs­trices et des activistes investies dans l’intégrité du FSM à répondre à cette situation injustifiée de refus massif de visas pour les participant­es du Sud du globe en prenant des mesures immédiates pour mettre la pression sur le gouvernement canadien afin de délivrer les visas qui ont été demandés.   APPROUVÉ PAR :   Francine Mestrum, Global Social Justice (Brussels)   Mireille Fanon­Mendès­France, Fondation Frantz Fanon (Paris)   Maren Mantovani, Palestinian Grassroots Anti­apartheid Wall Campaign   Martina Pignatti, Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative   Brid Brennan, Transnational Institute   Francesco Martone, Un ponte per... (Italy)   Pour agir, visitez : https://outreach.mayfirst.org/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=2&reset=1   Pour signer cet engagement en tant que personne ou organisation/collectif/groupe, écrire à : indy- converge@la.indymedia.org

Canadian Embassies’ Unjust Withholding of Visas for Global South WSF Participants is Unacceptable

Wed, 2016-08-03 21:04
Organizers call for response: “We call on the World Social Forum (WSF) Montreal local organizing committee, the International Committee of the WSF, and all organizers, media-makers and activist who are invested in the integrity of the WSF to respond to this situation of unjustified mass refusal of visas to participants from the global south.”

In less than a week, the first ever World Social Forum to take place in the global north will begin in Montreal, Quebec. Unless quick action is taken, a significant number of delegates from countries in the global south will not attend due to unjustified delays and denials in visa processing at Canadian Embassies in several countries.

Organizers with the Indymedia Africa Working Group (IAWG) are aware of four unjust withholdings and ten unjust denials from countries in which their working group members live. Four Nigerian journalists from Sahara Reporters were rejected on the spurious grounds that their application failed to provide bank details from their organization, even though the embassy never asked for such bank documents. Two well-known Malian human rights activists, including the President of Malian Association of Domestic Workers (known by its French acronym, ADDAD) were denied visas because they allegedly “lack a clear purpose for the trip”. The same was the case with the refusal of visas for grassroots organizers with the “No Vox Afrique” network, particularly those from Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo. To date there has been no responses for the applications of a women’s rights activist from Nigeria, a student organizer from Ghana and a radio journalist from Ghana, despite the fact that their applications were submitted well in advance of the timeline the Canadian government indicates for normal processing.

“It is unacceptable for embassies to be able to refuse a visa on such a flimsy excuse as ‘lack a clear purpose for the trip,’” said Moussa Coulibaly, IAWG delegate from Mali, whose visa was also denied. Canadian authorities should have simply banned the organizing of the World Social Forum (WSF) in their country instead of trying to destabilize it by way of mass refusal of visas to participants.”

“I have been going to the International Organization for Migration," said Akonnor Owusu Larbi, student organizer and IAWG delegate from Ghana. "They are in charge of receiving Canadian visa applications in Ghana. On the day of the visa application submission, they told me to wait till I get a mail or call from them. They assured me it would take at most 23 days. I applied on 29th June, 2016... This is not right.”

“SaharaReporters issued all the necessary documentation for our delegates from Nigeria,” said Omoyele Sowore, founder and publisher of the edgy media outlet that has been called the WikiLeaks of Africa. “We expected that if the Canadian consulate was in doubt of our capability to support our delegates, that they would ask us for further documentation. This was not done; all delegates sponsored by us had their visa applications denied. The Canadian government ought to know that in accepting the WSF to be hosted on Canadian soil, it had agreed to accept all persons regardless of race, class or social geography.”

"In Brazil we had political exclusions, as well as economic," said Rita Freire of Ciranda Brasil. "[An activist] who organizes the Cine Medios Libres, and makes coverage of police violence against protesters, had a visa refused even having already bought his plane ticket and showing proof of money for the trip. [Someone who] would make a presentation on the Mariana disaster, the dam mining that broke a river killing and destroying several cities, were also barred by Canadian diplomacy... If the government of Canada has made commitments to the WSF, to respect the conditions required for a minimally inclusive forum, it is clear that [was] not honored."

Even without such obvious abuses, the process of applying for a visas is one of the more pronounced difficulties faced by citizens of countries in the global south, especially when those visas are for travel through the global north. The invasive nature of the detailed application, the wait time, the frequent need to travel to the embassies to submit the applications, and high fees make the experience extremely prohibitive for many grassroots organizers.

"Iraqi activists didn't even try applying for the visa, since they understood it would be extremely difficult for them, having to apply in Jordan," said Martina Pignatti of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative. "They will organize a parallel activity in Baghdad, and we will connect with them from a telecentre [in Montreal]."

Given this well-known power imbalance in the globalised world, the decision to hold the World Social Forum in Canada, a notoriously difficult country to gain entry, should have been coupled with a proactive commitment on the part of the International Council and the local organizing committee of the WSF to follow through with and facilitate the approval of visas requested by WSF registrants. Participation of the global south in the WSF is fundamental if we are to keep the WSF tradition authentically rooted in the experienced needs of the majority of our planet’s population. It is unacceptable that a WSF be organised without explicit support of activists from the global south.

"This is not only [not] surprising but was even expected! This was one of the reasons why social movements from the South objected to holding the WSF in the North," said Demba Moussa Dembele. "They are vindicated by the Canadian Embassies' behavior."

"All of us know the difficulty to get visa for persons coming from the South and East... it is a huge political responsibility!" said Mireille Fanon-Mendès-France of the Fondation Frantz Fanon (Paris). "How [can] a Forum could be productive without all the actors?... The IC has to make a strong statement at the beginning of the forum... all communication coming from the WSF process has to underline that 'war' against certain people organized by certain Eurocentric states oriented by White supremacy."

“The denial of these visas is in keeping with a neoliberal global agenda,”said IAWG organizer Valentine Eben. “Capitalists can hold their meetings anywhere they choose in the world — visas are even given to people who have been indicted or are being investigated by courts for war crimes and crimes against humanity! But some part of the world are no-go areas for activists — especially activists from the global south. This is unacceptable; we cannot allow it to be the case this month in Montreal.”

"This is surely a major development which attacks the integrity of the WSF as a global space that has been respected by every government of the South wherever the WSF has so far been held," said Brid Brennan of the Transnational Institute. "This action on the part of the Canadian Foreign and Home Affairs is surely part of the major attack we are witnessing globally on the rights of people to move as well as on the criminalisation of social movements and human and environmental defenders."

We call on the WSF Montreal local organizing committee, the International Committee of the WSF, and all organizers, media-makers and activist who are invested in the integrity of the WSF to respond to this situation of unjustified mass refusal of visas to participants from the global south by taking immediate steps to pressure the Canadian government to grant the visas that have been requested.

To take action, visit: https://outreach.mayfirst.org/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=2&reset=1

ENDORSED BY:

    Francine Mestrum, Global Social Justice (Brussels)
    Mireille Fanon-Mendès-France, Fondation Frantz Fanon (Paris)
    Maren Mantovani, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign
    Martina Pignatti, Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative
    Brid Brennan, Transnational Institute
    Francesco Martone, Un ponte per... (Italy)

To sign onto this statement as an individual or an organization/collective/group, email: indy-converge@la.indymedia.org

 

 

Roma Deportations Continue Under Trudeau

Wed, 2016-08-03 08:51
Harper Era Immigration Rules Are Still In Effect

Solidarity Across Borders is organizing to help the family of Gilda Lakatos, a young Roma woman facing imminent deportation, along with her mother. They are awaiting appeal in Quebec after their refugee claim was refused in April 2015, when Stephen Harper was still in power.

According to the article posted yesterday, August 2, by Lakatos on rabble.ca, "On May 12, we were supposed to be deported to Hungary but we appealed to the minister to stay. With the help of friends and organizations who are supporting us, we got a temporary permit to stay until July 16. I was relieved but also disappointed because we could still be deported. We were still in complete uncertainty.

And now we have been asked once again to leave, this time August 11".

The ruling appears to have been made largely as a result of a set of quasi-official, yet not legislated, policies targetting Roma refugees from parts of Eastern Europe where persecution of Roma is very common.

According to a report by the United Nations International Working Group On Roma, they are "among Europe's most excluded groups, facing widespread discrimination (and often segregation) in many areas of life including housing, education, employment and health.". 

But the Government Of Canada's official policy under Harper was that the countries Roma came from were 'safe' and therefore people coming from those countries would not be considered refugees. 

After an influx of Roma refugees from Eastern Europe, the Government Of Canada took out billboard, radio and print ads in areas with high Roma populations discouraging immigration to Canada.

The policies around Roma refugees came to light in a mess of controversy in the fall of 2012. Much of the media focus turned to the coverage from now-defunct Sun News, in which Ezra Levant advocated anti-Roma policies in strong terms which many regarded as hate speech. Among other deprications, Levant used the topic to make a jab at the Occupy movement, referring to  Roma culture as "the medeival equivelent of the Occupy Wall St. Movement". Levant later apologized for having slurred and "attacked a particular group".

The question now, with deportations seemingly imminent, is why hasn't prime minister Justin Trudeau made any moves to undo the damage done to Roma refugees by his predecessor? 

Visit Solidarity Across Borders for more background, and information on how to help.

 

Tent City Vancouver, #JusticeforAbdiRahman, CRTC dismissal of Commissioner Shoan

Tue, 2016-08-02 12:33
This episode of GroundWire was produced by volunteers at Kootenay Co-op Radio on Sinixt traditional  territory in Nelson BC   Headlines:  
  • Charges Laid in Lemon Creek fuel spill | Catherine Fisher, CJLY
  •  
  • The CBSA denies the Lakatos family’s humanitarian application | Geneva Gleeson, CKUT
 
  • World Listening Day, July 18th | Catherine Fisher, CJLY
Features:  
  • Abdirahman Abdi dies following injuring sustained during violent arrest in Ottawa | Jessica Szarek, CKUT
 
  • Tent City at 58 West Hastings St, Vancouver | Gunargie O’Sullivan, CFRO; Catherine Fisher, CJLY
  Community Radio Report:   The recent dismissal of Commissioner Raj Shoan from the CRTC points to larger issues of systemic racism within the CRTC and across the media landscape in Canada  | Omme-Salma Rahemtullah, GroundWire   Music:  
  • James Keelaghan, from “A Few Simple Verse”
  • Quatuor Bozzini, from “Still Image”
 

Le Forum social mondial 2016 en question : panel à l'émission En Profondeur sur CKUT lundi le 1er août 2016

Tue, 2016-08-02 11:06

Panel sur le Forum social mondial 2016 qui aura lieu à soi-disant «Montréal» avec Samuel Raymond, membre du comité organisateur du FSM, Dror, journaliste indépendant et militant de la campagne BDS (Boycott, Désinvestissement et Sanctions) et Sylvain, militant de la Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes Pour plus d'information concernant le Forum social mondial 2016 : https://fsm2016.org/ Pour lire l'article de Dror mentionné dans l'émission : http://the-dissident.eu/11075/difficultes-forum-social-mondial-2016-a-mo... Pour plus d'information concernant la campagne BDS (Boycott, Désinvestissement et Sanctions) : http://www.bdsquebec.ca/ Pour lire le texte de la Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes aussi mentionné dans l'émission : http://www.clac-montreal.net/fr/node/624 et son appel à manifester : http://www.clac-montreal.net/fr/node/622 Pour lire le texte d'appel au boycott du FSM 2016 par le Front démocratique révolutionnaire de l'Inde : http://democracyandclasstruggle.blogspot.ca/2016/07/boycott-world-social...

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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