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L'Assemblée générale 2016 de la Coop Media se déroulera le 5 octobre

Sat, 2016-09-03 13:49

La Coop média annonce par la présente la date de son Assemblée générale de 2016. Ici se trouvent les détails concernant celle-ci. Pour en savoir plus, cliquez sur les liens suivants : les statuts et règlements de la Coop média, sa structure ainsi que son conseil d'administration du moment.

(English version click here)

L'Assemblée générale 2016 de la Coop média

Quoi : Un rassemblement à l’échelle nationale où nos lectrices et lecteurs ont la chance de mettre ce qu'ils et elles souhaitent voir à l'agenda, d'élire leurs représentant.e.s, de s'engager

à imaginer le futur de la Coop ainsi que d'évaluer le travail que celle-ci fait.

Quand : 5 octobre

Où : Harvest Noon Cafe à Toronto, Ontario (16 avenue Bancroft) ainsi qu'en téléconférence

1) Propositions S'il y a quelque chose en particulier que vous aimeriez discuter durant l'Assemblée générale, laissez-le nous savoir en nous envoyant un courriel avec le titre''Proposition de points pour l’ordre du jour de l'Assemblée générale''. La date limite pour nous envoyer vos points à mettre à l’ordre du jour est le 28 septembre.

2) Nominations au Conseil d’administration : envoyez un courriel à info@mediacoop.ca avec une courte notice biographique de 250 mots et une photo de la personne que vous voulez présenter, avec comme titre «Nomination au Conseil d’administration». Cette notice biographique sera publiée sur notre site Internet pendant 7 jours avant l’Assemblée générale et aidera les membres à prendre des décisions informées concernant leur vote. La date limite est le 28 septembre et les positions sont :

Représentant.e de la Coop média de Montréal

Représentant.e de la Coop média de Toronto

Représentant.e de la Coop média d’Halifax

Représentant.e de la Coop média de Vancouver

3 représentant.e.s des éditeurs/éditrices

Représentant.e des contributeurs/trices

Représentant.e des lecteurs/lectrices

3) Vote :

Durant l’Assemblée générale, il y aura la possibilité de voter par bulletins électroniques sur les propositions et les candidat.e.s aux élections. Nous allons publiciser les résultats des élections sur les pages de nos médias sociaux. Le processus de vote sera expliqué durant la réunion pour celles et ceux qui seront présent.e.s (électroniquement ou en personne).

4) Questions ? N’hésitez pas à nous envoyer vos questions sur l’Assemblée générale par courriel à info@mediacoop.ca

Contre Énergie Est, la destruction coloniale ainsi qu'environnementale et la collaboration syndicale (an english version follows)

Sat, 2016-09-03 00:44

(vu quelque part sur Internet, from somewhere on the Internet)

Contre Énergie Est, la destruction coloniale ainsi qu'environnementale et la collaboration syndicale
> Manif-action jeudi 1er septembre, 14h

Le projet Énergie Est est dénoncé partout par les peuples autochtones. Le projet est fortement remis en question également par plusieurs villes du soi-disant «Québec» dont 82 dans la seule communauté métropolitaine de soi-disant «Montréal». Il fait l'objet d'une constante remise en question, voire d'un constant refus, par d'innombrables personnes partout où il doit passer.

Comme l'écrit Reclaim Turtle Island :

« TransCanada, un des principaux propagateurs et bénéficiaires du lent génocide industriel appelé sables bitumineux, a proposé ce projet massif de pipeline sur 4500 kilomètres qui a l'intention de traverser l'Île de la Tortue de l'ouest à l'est. Partant du territoire occupé des Chipewyan et des Cris, le pipeline ''Energy Beast'' est supposé pomper 1.1 million de barils de bitume à chaque jour jusqu'aux territoires Wolastoqiyik et Mi’kmaq au soi-disant «Nouveau-Brunswick». Le bitume se rendra à la raffinerie Irving Oil dans le territoire Wolastoqiyik à soi-disant «Saint-John», «Nouveau-Brunswick», où il sera transporté par des pétroliers géants en direction des marchés internationaux.

Le ''Energy Beast'' tant en dimension que portée fait ombrage au pipeline Keystone XL, il aura des impacts sur plus de 60 communautés autochtones sur son trajet. Du milieu des plaines aux roches roses du lac Supérieur, à travers les basses-terres des Grands Lacs et la côte est de nos territoires, modes de vie et peuples sont mis en jeu au profit de l'avide capitalisme industriel assoiffé du sang pétrolier. Les besoins de ce projet requièrent de nouveaux développements sur les territoires autochtones, incluant non seulement la construction du pipeline, mais aussi des stations de pompage, des terminaux terrestres ainsi que maritimes et d'autres projets de méga-infrastructures sur la carapace de la Tortue. »

Ce grand serpent de métal dévastateur se ferait sans le consentement préalable et éclairé des communautés autochtones, en mettant en péril les cours d'eau et la biodiversité et en poursuivant le lent et progressif écocide en cours.

Alors que de plus en plus l'unanimité se crée contre ce projet, « une coalition inusitée faite de grands regroupements de gens d'affaires et des deux principales associations syndicales de la construction au Québec s'est portée à la défense du projet.

La Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, la Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain, le Conseil du patronat du Québec et d'autres se sont ainsi momentanément alliés à la FTQ-Construction et au Conseil provincial du Québec des métiers de la construction (International), peu avant la tenue à Montréal des audiences de l'Office national de l'énergie sur le projet de pipeline de TransCanada. »
(Alexandre Shields, journaliste du Devoir)

Personne ne sera particulièrement surpris de voir les agences du capitalisme, des patrons et des propriétaires se porter à la défense de ce projet de méga-développement/méga-destruction. Par contre, certain.e.s seront peut-être surpris.e.s par cette collaboration syndicale, collaboration si bien illustrée dans une lettre de l'Association Unie des Compagnons et Apprentis de l'industrie de la Plomberie et de la Tuyauterie des États-Unis et du Canada, Local 144 :

«Depuis 2014, le Conseil provincial (International) ainsi que le local 144 se sont impliqués activement auprès de TransCanada afin de faire connaître les bienfaits de son projet Énergie-Est. Entre autres, nous avons été le seul syndicat qui a pris la parole lors de l'annonce du dépôt du projet à l'Office national de l'énergie le 30 octobre 2014. Suite à cette sortie médiatique, nous avons été continuellement en contact avec la compagnie afin de mieux informer nos membres, de défendre nos intérêts et de contribuer à la compréhension des enjeux par nos partenaires économiques et politiques».

Néanmoins, nous n'en sommes pas dupes. L'entreprise syndicale est un rouage essentiel du colonialisme parce qu'il s'appuie sur le même développement industriel et capitaliste qui détruit les peuples autochtones, leurs modes de vie traditionnels et leurs environnements. Cette entreprise syndicale cherche à maximiser les gains des colons employé.e.s pour engraisser ses coffres et ceux de cette minorité favorisée de la classe prolétarienne. En aucun cas, ce syndicalisme ne remet en question le capitalisme-colonialisme-patriarcat, il ne vise qu'à en prendre son parti.

Lundi se sont ouvertes les audiences de cet Orifice national de l'énergie dans la plus vive contestation. Certaines personnes ont traité justement ce processus de «mascarade» et de «kermesse». Un grand cirque des affairistes comme en témoigne ce scandale qui a donné le ton à l'ouverture de ces audiences :

« Celles-ci débutent sous un véritable parfum de scandale : deux commissaires étudiant le projet font l’objet de demandes en récusation car des documents rendus publics récemment révèlent qu’ils auraient eu une rencontre secrète avec Jean Charest, en janvier 2015, alors que l’ancien premier ministre du Québec était en relation d’affaires avec TransCanada», comme l'écrivait le Front commun pour une transition énergétique.

Grâce à nos camarades qui ont joyeusement interrompu ce spectacle, ces risibles audiences se sont hâtivement arrêtées à soi-disant «Montréal». Il ne restera maintenant qu’à enterrer définitivement ce projet.

Il est plus que temps que nous nous rassemblions pour détruire le processus colonial et pour défendre les territoires. Stoppons ces projets destructeurs et tous ceux/toutes celles qui les défendent !

Pour la libération de la terre et des peuples autochtones! Contre le monde du capital et sa dévastation de tout!

Against Energy East, environmental and colonial destruction and union collaboration
> Manif-action, Thursday Septembre 1st

The Energy East project is denounced everywhere by indigenous peoples. The project also is put into question by several cities of so-called “Quebec”, including 82 in the Metropolitan Community of so-called “Montreal” alone. It is constantly challenged, even refused, by countless people everywhere it is traced to pass.

According to Reclaim Turtle Island :

“TransCanada, one of the key proponents and benefactors of the slow industrial genocide known as the tar sands, has proposed a massive 4,500-kilometre pipeline that intends to stretch across Turtle Island from west to east. Starting in occupied Chipewyan and Cree territories the Energy Beast pipeline is slated to pump 1.1 million barrels of bitumen a day all the way to unceded Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq territories in so-called New Brunswick. The bitumen would meet an Irving Oil refinery in Wolastoqiyik territory in so-called Saint John, NB where it will be shipped by supertanker for international use.”

“The Energy Beast, which in size and scope makes the Keystone XL look modest, impacts at least over 60 Indigenous communities along its route. From the middle of the plains to the pink rocks along the northern shore of Lake Superior through to the Great Lakes lowlands and into the east coast our territories, lifeways and peoples are being put on the line for industrial capitalism’s greedy thirst for bloody oil. The necessity of this project requires new development on Indigenous territories, including not only pipeline construction, but pumping stations, land and marine terminals and other mega-infrastructure projects along the Turtle’s Back.”

This enormous, destructive metal snake would, without the prior and informed consent of the indigenous communities, put the waterways and ecosystems in danger and continue the slow, incremental ecocide already under way.

As the unanimous objection to this project grows stronger, “an unexpected coalition formed of great business groups and the two main construction unions of Quebec to defend the project.

The Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Quebec, the Metropolitan Montreal Chamber of Commerce, the Employers Council of Quebec and others temporarily made an alliance with FTQ-Construction and the Conseil provincial du Québec des métiers de la construction (International), shortly before the National Energy Board audiences on the TransCanada pipeline were held in Montreal.”
(Alexandre Shields, journalist for Le Devoir)

None will be surprised to see these agencies of capitalism, bosses and landlords stand in defence of this mega-development/mega-destruction project. However, some might be surprised of this unionised collaboration, which is well demonstrated in this letter from the United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada, Local 144:

“Since 2014, the Conseil provincial (International) as well as the Local 144 have been implicated actively with TrasnCanada to publicise the benefits of its Energy East project. Also, we were the only union to speak during the announcement of the Energy East project at the National Energy Board on Octobre 30th, 2014. Following this media release, we have been in constant contact with the company to better inform our membres, defend our interests and contribute to the comprehension of the issues by our economic and political partners.”

However, we are not blind. The union enterprise is an essential cob of colonialism because it rests on the same industrial and capitalist development that destroys indigenous peoples, their traditional ways of life and their environments. This union enterprise is looking to maximise the gains of employed settlers to fill its coffers and those of this privileged minority of the proletarian class. In no occasion does this unionism question this capitalism-colonialism-patriarchy, aiming solely to benefit.

Monday, the National Energy Board’s consultations on Energy East started under severe protest. Some people called this process a “masquerade” or “mess”. A great circus of business people as is witnessed during this scandal that gave the tone to the audience:

“These begin under a truly scandalous scent: two commissaries reviewing the project are under scrutiny because the documents made public recently reveal that they would have had a secret meeting with Jean Charest in January 2015, while the ex prime-minister of Quebec was in a business relation with TransCanada.”, as written by the Front commun pour une transition énergétique.

Thanks to our comrades that joyfully put an end to that show, these laughable audiences have promptly stopped in so-called “Montreal”. All that is left is to bury that project for good.

It is more than time that we unite to destroy that colonial process and defend the territories. Let us stop these destructive projects and all those whom defend them!

For the liberation of the earth and indigenous peoples! Against the world of capital and its devastation of all!

The Media Co-op's Annual General Meeting 2016 Is Happening on October 5th

Mon, 2016-08-29 21:59

The Media Co-op is announcing the date of the 2016 annual general meeting. Posted here are the details. To learn more, check out these links to Media Co-op's bylaws, its structure, and current board of directors.

(Version française ici)

Media Co-op Annual General Meeting 2016

What: A nationwide meeting where our readers get to put things on the agenda, elect representatives, and engage in visioning the future of the co-op as well as evaluating how it's been doing.
When: October 5th
Where: Harvest Noon Cafe in Toronto, ON (16 Bancroft Avenue) and also teleconferenced

1) Motions: If there is something in particular you'd really like to have discussed during the AGM, please let us know by sending us an email with the subject line "Proposed AGM Agenda Item". The deadline to send in agenda items is September 28th.

2) Nominations to the board: Send an email to info@mediacoop.ca with a ~250 word bio and headshot of the person you would like to nominate, with the subject line "Board Representative Nomination". This bio will be posted on our website for 7 days before the AGM and will help members make informed voting decisions. The deadline for this is September 28th and the positions are:

Montreal Media Co-op representative
Toronto Media Co-op rep
Halifax Media Co-op rep (please contact us before making nominations to this position)
Vancouver Media Co-op rep
Editor rep (3 positions)
Contributor rep
Reader rep

3) Voting: During the AGM, there will be the opportunity to vote by electronic ballot on motions and representative elections. We'll publicize the votes on our social media pages. Voting process will be be explained during the meeting for those who attend (either electronically or in person)

4) Questions? Don't hesitate to ask about the AGM by email at info@mediacoop.ca

Justice For Abdirahman Abdi - events across Canada

Wed, 2016-08-24 00:11
Seven Cities to Rally Wed Aug 24; Email Campaign; Ottawa Black Town Hall Thurs Aug 25

Organizers are holding events in cities across Canada on Wednesday August 24, to demand justice for Abdirahman Abdi, killed by Ottawa police on Sunday July 24, 2016.

The cities include Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and (virtually) Vancouver.

Then on Thursday August 25, a Black Community Town Hall and Healing Forum will be held in Ottawa.

In addition, the Justice For Abdirahman Coalition are asking people to contact their elected representatives to let them know they stand in solidarity with the Abdi family.

Details for each of the above follow:

* LIST OF ACTIONS (7 cities) for WEDNESDAY AUGUST 24
http://blacklivesmatter.ca/solidarity/
Ontario FB events: https://www.facebook.com/blacklivesmatterTO/events

* WEDNESDAY AUGUST 24 media advisory from BLACK LIVES MATTER TORONTO:
Includes media contacts from BLM-TO, and listing of all actions
http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/media-advisory---black-lives-matter---toronto-to-hold-nation-wide-demonstrations-for-abdirahman-abdi-591096231.html

* JUSTICE FOR ABDIRAHMAN coalition (Ottawa) EMAIL CAMPAIGN

The Justice For Abdirahman Coalition is asking people to contact their elected representatives to let them know they stand in solidarity with the Abdi family. A user-friendly online email campaign can be found at www.justiceforabdirahman.ca

Campaign FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/587002694815974
CONTACT: info@justiceforabdirahman.ca, 613-325-7104

* OTTAWA BLACK TOWN HALL info for THURSDAY AUGUST 25:

Black Town Hall and Healing Forum, Thursday 25/08/2016
6-8pm @ 945 Wellington St. W, Community Room

The Canadian Somali Mothers Association (CSMA) invites anyone and everyone from the black communities of Ottawa to a discussion on collective healing, self-care, and justice following the tragic death of Abdirahman Abdi.

The panelists will discuss anti-blackness in Canada, safety, social and economic inequity that black peoples face on a daily basis, and the effects of systemic inequity on black/racialized peoples mental health and well-being.

The forum will also invite members of Ottawa's black communities to an action committee that will continue the quest for justice for Abdirahman and the many black/racialized peoples who have lost their lives to state violence because of anti-black and systemic racism.

Food and refreshments will be served.

https://www.facebook.com/events/276991439351600/
CONTACT: canadian.somali.mothers@gmail.com

* RELEVANT MEDIA

Cole: We need not wait to judge police behaviour in Abdi's death
http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/cole-we-need-not-wait-to-judge-police-behaviour-in-abdis-death

Let death of Abdirahman Abdi be last of its kind
https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2016/07/31/let-death-of-abdirahman-abdi-be-last-of-its-kind.html

Podcast: Anti-Black sanism in the police killing of Abdirahman Abdi, and more broadly
https://equitableeducation.ca/2016/podcast-antiblack-sanism-abdirahman

Racism forum on the black experience in Ottawa draws big crowd
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/racism-forum-ottawa-city-hall-1.3712786

The Lynching of Abdirahman Abdi: A Story in Two Acts
http://unconceptradical.tumblr.com/post/148793967948/the-lynching-of-abdirahman-abdi-a-story-in-two

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Ontario Government Engaged in Two Dangerous Environmental Consultations

Tue, 2016-08-23 13:45

The government of Ontario is currently engaged in two dangerous  environmental consultations which have the potential to open up protected landscapes in southern Ontario to urban sprawl. One of these consultations involves a review of the Conservation Authorities Act, and seeks to intensify the damage to the legislation wrecked by the nonsensical revolution of Ontario Premier Mike Harris in 1996.  This legislation amended the Conservation Authorities Act to end the practice of the provincial appointment of five members to watershed based authority boards. The resulting change made them captive to property industry influenced municipal councils. The other consultation is directed at subverting  he singular accomplishment of Ontario’s NDP government. This is the province’s  current wetland protection policy, brought into effect in 1992.

Although only introduced to Ontario in 1992, regulation to protect wetlands by investigating  vegetation and developing a point scoring system to protect rare species, emerged two decades earlier in the United States. It was a consequence of the passage of the US Clean Water Act. An American environmental group went to court and subsequently won a decision that the legislation should protect wetlands. These include areas with large areas of swamp forests temporarily flooded in the spring.  Designated wetland once mapped become protected from development, or what is more precisely defined as “site alteration.”

Given the great conflict inherit between the owners of swamp forests and regulators, it was appropriate that the task of mapping and protecting wetlands in the United States is assigned to a military entity, the US Army Corps of Engineers. In Ontario the policy is administered by the public servants employed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Its distinguished history in becoming an effective conservation agency is the subject of my book, “Two Billion Trees and Counting: The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz.” (Dundurn Press, 2011)

Through my involvement in protecting forests in the Niagara Region I quickly became aware of the power of wetland protection after the policy was introduced. In 1993 in Niagara Falls I attended a meeting to announce wetland mapping results in Warrens Creek.

Participating in an evaluation announcement  gave me insights into the power to protect the environment. The wetland evaluator explained how extensive swamp forests here within the urban boundaries of Niagara Falls were  now off limits to development. This was because of the high points obtained in scoring evaluations for two threatened species. These were a vine, the Round-Leaved Greenbrier, and a tree, the Black Gum (also known as Swamp Tupelo).

It cheered me very much to see the faces of the landowners when confronted with the evaluator’s findings. They asked if they had any appeal rights. The evaluator said no and they meekly accepted his words.  Development has since taken place in the Warren Creek watershed, but it carefully avoided forested swamps, rich in vernal (temporary)  pools which provide spring time breeding habitat for amphibians. Of the three sites in Niagara Falls that support the threatened Greenbrier, it is the only one that myself and a close friend Jean Grandoni, did not have to battle to rescue from development.

Understanding the power of Ontario’s wetland protection system helped me in 2008 when the issue of the the threat to the remarkable five hundred acre Thundering Waters Forest emerged then through a proposed amendment to the City of Niagara Falls Official Plan. I appealed the amendment to the Ontario Municipal Board. (OMB)

After my OMB appeal was filed I was contacted by the solicitor of the developer, Ed Lustig. He initiated a mediation process . At his suggestion, I withdrew my appeal on the basis of the then Ministry of Natural Resources being given, if they requested, access to the site to do a wetland evaluation.

The developer honoured the agreement. The ministry, accompanied by ecological consultants of the developer and staff on the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, (NPCA) did over a period of two years a re-evaluation of the wetland complex. At  the time it was deemed to be only locally significant and therefore vulnerable to development.

During the re-evaluations two important discoveries were made. One was the presence of a species, regionally rare in the Hamilton-Niagara area, the Blue Spotted Salamander. Another was a discovery of  Black Gum. The confirmation that these rare species are present pushed the points scoring above 600 so that the wetland’s status was changed from locally to provincially significant.

As soon as the victory was won protecting what became identified as the Niagara Falls Slough Forest provincially significant wetland developers’ began to seek revenge. They went after  not those  of the more well protected staff of MNR but on the vulnerable NPCA. 

A “strategic plan” for the NPCA was launched, with advisory committees filled with consultants who had sought to develop on the now protected Niagara Falls Slough Forest.  The resulting plan justified staff terminations and a reallocation of resources within the NPCA. Mid-way through the process the Lower Welland River watershed plan was terminated.  One result of the turmoil was the unionization of NPCA staff through OPSEU.

Not content with warring with the staff of the NPCA developers began lobbying over  provincial policy and legislation. One target was the Conservation Authorities Act, which is still undergoing a review. The aspect of this review that developers were seeking was a transfer of the authority for mapping wetlands from MNRF to local conservation authorities.

Mid-way through the review, the province issued a white paper on changes to the Conservation Authorities Act. This rejected the changes that responsibility for mapping wetlands be transferred to local conservation authorities.

Developer pressure also motivated the province to launch a review of provincial wetland policy. The key focus of the wetland policy consultation paper was a proposal for what was termed “bio-diversity offsetting.”  Although the discussion document did not mention protected significant wetlands, it did go into considerable detail about recreating vanished wetlands in order to legitimate the position of “no net loss.”  It has been widespread experience in the United States, that while marshes are not difficult to be recreated, that swamp forests requiring twenty years before mature tree cover can be established, are much more challenging.

While proposals to harmfully modify the Conservation Act appear to have been defeating the threat of “biodiversity offsetting”, still endures. Mid-way through the consultation there was a specific proposal to use the Thundering Waters Forest as a “pilot study” for offsetting, which intensified public opposition in Niagara.  This outrage however, did not cause the provincial government to abandon the concept. The persistence of developer lobbying  was revealed on August 8, 2016. Then the draft “Wetland Policy for Ontario” document was released. It triggers a second 100 day consultation period, which ends November 16, 2016.

The bad essence of the draft “Wetland Policy of Ontario” is buried in a midst of a lot of pretty pictures, such as an “urban wetland”, (actually in the tiny town of Midland), below the Martyrs’ shrine. Next to this holy image, we get a diabolical text, which sets the stage for opening up now protected wetlands to despoliation by developers. It reads:

“Some site, features and habitats, such as provincially significant wetlands, may be ineligible for offsetting based on, for example, their biological and hydrological attributes, their vulnerability or irreplaceability etc. 

Since 1992 all provincially significant wetlands are “ineligible for offsetting.” The draft “Wetland Policy” advocates that this be changed to permit “Some” to be destroyed through offsetting to accommodate developers.

To protect precious wetlands before November 16. 2016 send a simple message to the government Ontario through the email address ConservingWetlands@ontario.ca. This should be that offsetting remain prohibited on provincially significant wetlands.

 

 

 

 

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 percent. “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 will 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.

 

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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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