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March in Review Part II

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Issue: 60 Section: Month in Review

April 1, 2009

March in Review Part II

Spring of Repression, Summer of Rage

by Dominion Staff

Police block streets during protests against police violence in Montréal. Two hundred twenty-one people were arrested.

Photo: viewfromthemoon

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney cut funding to the Canadian Arab Federation, claiming that the group has expressed support for terror groups. "This is a warning to other non-profit, anti-racist organizations not to criticize members of the Canadian government or they may face a similar fate," reads a statement by the CAF, who have since launched a lawsuit against Kenney.

British MP George Galloway was banned from entering Canada. A statement from the Canadian Immigration Minister's office said that Galloway had been banned due to his support of Hamas. Galloway appealed to overturn the ban, but was unsuccessful. He was permitted entry into the US without a problem.

Immigration Minister Kenney announced that not being able to speak basic English or French would be grounds for being denied citizenship. Kenney also appointed an anti-gay Conservative to the tribunal that decides whether or not GLBT refugees are granted status in Canada.

More than 200 people, mostly migrant workers from North Africa, are feared dead after their vessel capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. There could have been as many as 250 people aboard the ship, which went down off the coast of Libya, en route to Italy.

Upwards of 35,000 Londoners gathered to protest the G20 summit in the English capital. Photo: thegirlrg

Protests against police brutality in Montréal were met with strong repression, and ended with 221 arrests.

White supremacists from the Aryan Guard marched through Calgary on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Members of the group Anti-Racist Action (ARA) from Calgary and Edmonton confronted the group. The Calgary police were accused of siding with the neo-Nazi Guard, and the local media of smearing anti-racist activists. “We don’t beat up visible minorities, we didn’t carry out a raid on the Siksika reserve, we don’t deny the Holocaust and we’ve never advocated firebombing,” said a member of ARA.

Vancouver police shot and killed Michael Vann Hubbard, a homeless man, in Vancouver. The police were looking for a car thief, but the man they killed had nothing to do with the break-in. More than 50 people witnessed the shooting.

The RCMP loosened restrictions on taser use, allowing officers to fire multiple shots. Robert Dziekanski was killed by RCMP officers after being hit with five jolts from a taser. The inquiry into his death continued in Vancouver.

An inquiry opened over the death of two men in the Kashechewan First Nation jail in 2006. Both men burned to death after a fire broke out in the penitentiary. Ontario MP Charlie Angus described the prison as "more like something you see in Sarajevo than the province of Ontario. It just was in terrible, terrible condition, holes in the walls, the cells were inadequate."

A lawyer working for CSIS admitted that the spy agency would use information obtained through torture "if lives are at stake."

The Integrated Security Unit, responsible for security during the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, announced that homeless people will be relocated during the two-week-long games. “I’m not going to lie to you and tell you there won’t be an impact for them,” said Deputy Police Chief Steve Sweeney.

Protestors in Vancouver picketed a Sport and Environment conference hosted by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games. "The Olympic Committee is trying hard to portray the 2010 Games as environmentally friendly, but many of the corporate sponsors are either directly involved in, or financing, projects and industries involved in the commodification of water, independent private power projects on B.C. rivers and, most significantly, the Alberta tar sands," stated Harjap Grewal of the Olympic Resistance Network.

CN Rail filed a statement of claim against three Native activists who blockaded train tracks in 2007. "This a strong community and I don't think CN or its pursuit of this lawsuit is going to push this community back into suffering in silence any more," said Shawn Brandt, a member of Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation named in the case.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced its largest round of layoffs since the mid-1990s. The Conservative government has refused to provide the CBC with the $65 million in "bridge" funding to meet budget shortfalls. Eight hundred positions will be cut from the public broadcaster before the end of September 2009.

Georgia Straight Editor Charlie Smith speculated that the Conservatives are planning to bail out Canwest. "Here’s my conspiracy theory for [Heritage Minister] James Moore to chew on: the Prime Minister is trying to figure out how to save the Aspers’ asses without angering the boys in charge of CTVglobemedia, Quebecor and Rogers Communications," wrote Smith.

Fourteen anti-coal mining activists were arrested for carrying out a "die-in" at the Tennessee Valley Authority offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee. TVA operates the Kingston coal plant, which was the site of a coal ash spill that covered 400 acres of land in December.

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would review all mountaintop-removal coal mining permits in order to carry out more comprehensive environmental studies. The announcement is a temporary victory for environmental campaigners and defenders of the land, as it means that thousands of hectares of mountaintop that is permitted will not be blasted until there is an environmental review.

Tar sands giant Suncor acquired Petro-Canada in a $19.8-billion deal that is pending approval by federal regulators.

Syncrude, a major corporation extracting heavy crude from the Alberta tar sands, admitted that 1,606 ducks died last April in the company's tailings ponds; not 500 as the company had previously disclosed.

Thirty-five thousand people protested the opening of the G-20 summit in London. The G-20 is a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from 19 countries and the European Central Bank, and was first held in 1999 in response to a financial crisis. The theme of the march in London was "jobs, justice and climate." Corresponding mobilizations took place in Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland, kicking off what has been dubbed the "Summer of Rage."

Stockwell Day introduced the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement into parliament. The NDP and the Bloc do not support the deal because of the egregious rights violations taking place in Colombia. Liberal leader Micheal Ignatieff indicated that he supports the FTA.

Conservative senator Nancy Ruth suggested that the Canada geese that produce a "dismaying" amount of excrement near her second home be culled and fed to the poor. Ruth's base salary is $130,400 a year, and she is a member of the Senate Committee on Human Rights.

Four police officers were shot in Oakland, California, by an unemployed man who had been released from prison and who desperately didn't want to be sent back.

Turkish police fired water cannons to clear out protesters at the World Water Forum in Istanbul.

Demonstrations took place in over 200 cities in France. Unions claimed that three million people were on the streets. "Of course we are angry against the government when you see the way they serve the banks and leave the people starving and losing their jobs," one participant told the BBC.

Workers who were laid off by 3M in France held the company's Director of Operations hostage. "We don't have any other ammunition" [other than hostage-taking], a 3M worker told Reuters.

Seventeen First Nation Bands in Saskatchewan signed a letter of intent with One Earth Farms to create what the Globe and Mail calls "a super-sized, one-million-acre operation that could rival the largest corporate farms in the world."

Friends and relatives of Claudette Osborne joined the International Women's Day march through the streets of Winnipeg. Osborne, mother of four young children, has been missing since July.

In Montréal, members of the organization RebELLES marked International Women's Day by protesting in front of army recruitment offices while the armed forces held a cocktail party in honour of "the 21st-century woman."

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan signed a pact that prevents the five Central Asian nations from developing, researching, producing or keeping nuclear weapons.

In Afghanistan, 19 people were killed in separate raids by Afghan and foreign troops.

The US government tested four-legged robots in the escalating war in Afghanistan. Fox News reported that, "The war zone is increasingly becoming a development laboratory for machines that don't eat, sleep, polish their boots or suffer casualties."

A US missile attack on Pakistan killed five people, bringing the number of US air attacks on Pakistan since last year up to about three dozen.

Twenty-five police officers were killed in an attack on a police academy in Lahore, Pakistan.

"I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future," said US President Barack Obama, confirming that the war in Afghanistan now officially includes Pakistan. Obama denied that there would be US troops on the ground in Pakistan.

The Obama administration began to rebrand the "War on Terror" as an "Overseas Contingency Operation."

Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was reinstated as Chief Justice of Pakistan, a victory for the Lawyers' Movement. Chaudhry, a critic of the Musharraf government, most notably challenged the legality of President Perez Musharraf holding the office of President while remaining Army chief.

Activists opposed to the arms trade met to discuss plans to protest CANSEC, a military trade show that Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brian insists has the right to set up in the city, despite a ban on arms exhibitions. O'Brian was accused of having a conflict of interest, since a subsidiary of Calian, the military equipment company he founded, is to exhibit at CANSEC.

Members of the Israeli Defense Forces were discovered wearing custom-made t-shirts featuring images of dead Palestinian babies and children with guns aimed at them. Another one of the shirts shows a pregnant Palestinian woman and reads: "1 shot, 2 kills."

The international Boycott Divest and Sanctions campaign against Israeli goods affected 21 per cent of Israeli exporters polled by Hebrew business paper The Mark.

The federal government released its response to the Advisory Group at the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility in the Extractive Industries. The government didn't respond to the recommendations but instead looks poised to spend more aid money in mining countries and regions, and pump more money into marketing Corporate Social Responsibility without requiring changes on the ground. "Canada has ignored an important opportunity to reverse the trend of distrust and complaints attached to Canadian extractive companies’ operations abroad,” said Beatrice Olivastri of Friends of the Earth Canada.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) announced their decision to withdraw from participating in a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) related to Goldcorp's Marlin Mine in Guatemala. Concerns with the HRIA process and its relationship with the local communities, and especially about the lack of free and informed prior consent for affected communities, influenced the decision.

People in Los Angeles celebrated the life of labour activist César Chávez. Chávez was born on March 31, 1927, and his birthday is a state holiday in eight US states. In 1962, Chávez founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers Association. He died on April 23, 1993.

The University of Winnipeg banned water bottles campus-wide. The sale of bottled water will end by fall 2009 and funds will be put towards improving drinking water fountains and water infrastructure on campus.

A middle school in Connecticut implemented a "no-touching" policy. The new rule bans high-fives, hugging and "horseplay of any kind."

Ben & Jerry's unveiled their latest ice cream flavour, in a nod to President Obama: "Yes, Pecan!"

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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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