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February In Review, Part I

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Issue: 67 Section: Month in Review

February 15, 2010

February In Review, Part I

Olympic resistance ignited, Sri Lankan election contested, and missing and murdered women remembered

by Dominion Staff

Three thousand people took back Vancouver on the day of the Olympics opening ceremonies. Photo: Chris Bevacqua

The 2010 Olympics kicked off on Occupied Coast Salish territories, along with the No 2010 People's Convergence:

In the lead up to the games, anti-poverty activists protested the official launch of the 'Downtown Eastside Connect' kiosk, calling it a "government spin-doctoring center". The kiosk is a provincial housing ministry project to showcase "progress" made in what has been called "Canada's poorest postal code." Opponents point to the center as simply more Olympic-ready window dressing for government backed gentrification programs in the community.

A new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll found that 63 per cent of residents of the Winter Olympics host city are concerned about cost overruns and that over 80 per cent feel the event is being staged for the benefit of politicians and the elites.

Border officials have targeted members of the independent media attempting to enter Canada to cover the games. Martin Macias, a Chicago based radio journalist involved in Chicago's successful campaign to thwart their Olympic bid, was turned away by border officials while attempting to enter Canada to document resistance to the 2010 Olympics. Also denied entry was independent journalist John Weston Osburn.

The Olympic resistance held its own opening ceremony disrupting the final leg of the Olympic torch relay and holding a people's convergence where thousands of individuals from a variety of indigenous, environmental, anti-poverty, anti-capitalist and social justice groups held a "Take Back the City" march to push back against the Olympic spectacle.

For more headlines from Vancouver and critical Olympic resistance coverage check out the Vancouver Media Coop and VMC Street Coverage.

Organizers address a crowd of over 150 people at the first annual Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Women in Montreal. Photo: Cam

Ten United States citizens, from an Idaho Southern Baptist church, were arrested in Haiti and charged with abduction and criminal association while trying to cross into the Dominican Republic with 33 undocumented Haitian children. Many of the children having surviving parents or older relatives; the religious group has been accused of using clergymen to go door to door "asking people if they wanted to give away their children."

Three people were arrested after a nine-day tree sit blocking Massey Energy’s operations on the Bee Tree Permit in West Virginia. The action was targeting mountain top coal removal.

Thousands rallied in the streets of Sri Lanka to protest the results of presidential elections they are calling rigged. Mahinda Rajapaksa—who orchestrated the violent campaign against Tamil Tiger forces in 2009 and has been responsible for a crackdown on media freedom—was re-elected over opposition leader Sarath Fonseka.

A tentative agreement was reached in BC between the 48,000 health-care workers represented by the Facilities Bargaining Association and the Health Employers Association of BC. The FBA is recommending its members accept the agreement, extending their agreement for two years.

The People's Commission Network's Project Fly Home campaign in support of Abousfian Abdelrazik launched a six-month campaign to remove Abdelrazik from the UN 1267 list, which "imposes a travel ban, an arms embargo and a total asset freeze on listed individuals." Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen who was detained, tortured and left stranded in the Sudan for six years at the behest of Canadian officials, has never been charged with links to terrorist activities but remains on the no-fly list.

Canadian citizen Maher Arar appealed to the US Supreme Court, asking them to overturn a decision blocking his suit against the US government. A lower court ruled Arar's lawsuit, in which he is seeking to prove that federal officials can be sued for damages for sending him to torture, would lead to the revelation of sensitive national security information. Arar was held in solitary confinement and interrogated for two weeks by US officials before being deported to Syria where he was imprisoned and tortured for two years. A Canadian investigation cleared him of all terrorism links and awarded him over $10 million in damages.

New Brunswick Indigenous leaders criticized the planned sale of New Brunswick's hydroelectric developments to Quebec, saying the decision is being taken without soliciting community input. Indigenous leaders say the deal violates a memorandum of understanding signed with the Tobique Nation in December and a 2007 bilateral agreement between the New Brunswick government and fifteen Indigenous nations.

Toronto city officials criticized the federal government for keeping them in the dark over plans for the upcoming G20 summit, including the decision to hold the event downtown at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The decision raises concerns over both security and traffic, and forces several events, including Toronto Gay Pride, to relocate and postpone events.

The Toronto Media Co-op has hit the ground running. Check it out for independent, critical coverage of stories coming out of Canada's largest metropolis.

Business as usual ground to a halt in Greece on February 10 when civil servants declared a 24 hour strike to protest government plans for wage freezes, tax hikes and pension reforms. Workers took the day to stage a mass march in Athens and voice their opposition to the government’s planned cutbacks that critics say are the result of federal fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement.

A new report blamed lax safety regulations and cited multiple safety violations for a 30,000 cubic metre sour gas leak at an EnCana site in northern BC. Pouce Coupe, BC, residents were forced to perform an ad-hoc citizen evacuation last November because of the leak. Resident’s are concerned that the sour gas developments can have adverse affects on their health, local livestock and water supply.

Hundreds across Canada marked St-Valentine's Day by attending Memorial Marches for Murdered and Missing Indigenous women. In its nineteenth year, the march—which originated in Vancouver and has since spread across the globe— focused public attention on the over 520 Indigenous girls and women who have gone missing or been murdered since 1980, and to demand the Canadian government investigate why hundreds of deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women remain unsolved.

A student and single mother in Quebec launched a class action lawsuit against the provincial government, aiming to force the government to reimburse student parents for deductions made to their student bursaries. Quebec government currently obliges low-income student parents to include food subsidies in their calculation of income, drastically lowering the financial aid they receive.

Mining company Vale Inco faced renewed criticism over its refusal to negotiate with striking employees in Sudbury, Ontario. While the multinational firm blames lagging commodity prices for the need to cut certain pension types and worker bonuses, they state in their fourth quarter report that the current recovery in metal prices is the strongest in 40 years.

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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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