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May in Review, Part II

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Issue: 69 Section: Month in Review Geography: Canada

June 1, 2010

May in Review, Part II

Outrage against Israel grew, G20 security budget grew, suspicion over Boreal agreement grew, BP oil spill grew

by Dominion Staff

People gathered in Ottawa to denounce a meeting between Stephen Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Harper stood beside Netanyahu during a press conference in which he claimed the killing of passengers aboard a humanitarian aid vessel was "self defense." Photo: Chris Bisson

The Israeli army killed at least 9 people when it attacked the Free Gaza Movement's "Freedom Flotilla," which set sail from Ireland, Turkey and Greece in a plan to break Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Three cargo ships and three passenger boats—the largest fleet of aid to try to reach Gaza—is transporting prefabricated homes, cement, medicines and over 700 individuals from 50 states—including celebrities, Israeli parliamentarians and professionals—to Gaza. Israel had announced it would stop the flotilla, and refused to guarantee safe passage to those on board. The UN, Europe and the Arab world condemned the attacks. In a speech given to the press with PM Stephen Harper standing by, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Israel's attack on the boats in international waters was an act of self-defense.

Emergency rallies in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa joined with demonstrations around the world decrying Israel's attack on the Freedom Flotilla.

Pride Toronto banned the words "Israeli Apartheid" from all pride events, effectively banning the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) from the annual parade. The city of Toronto, a major sponsor of the parade, considered the group in violation of the city's anti-discrimination policies. QuAIA said the group is not anti-Semitic, but opposes the policies of the state of Israel.

A Windsor man was robbed and beaten for being gay after directing an anti-homophobia play.

Winnipeg residents rallied outside of city hall to protest a deal between the local government and Veolia Canada, a private water company. The details of the arrangement remain vague, but critics are worried about the lack of transparency, and the potential for privatization of water services.

A man was killed by a vehicle while cycling in Val Morin, Quebec, two days after three cyclists were killed and three injured in a collision with a pick-up truck in on Highway 112 in Rougemont, Quebec. Quebec officials and cycling advocates blame the highway's unpaved shoulder for the fatalities, which Quebec had pledged to pave 15 years ago.

Amid reports from Toronto that point to a security budget for the G8 and G20 summits nearing 1 billion dollars, law enforcement officials are refusing to rule out using illegal tactics to crack down on activists. This includes the use of agents provocateurs, as seen at demonstrations in Montebello, Quebec, in 2007.

A group calling itself the FFFC claimed responsibility for the firebombing of an Ottawa branch of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). No one was injured, and the blaze cost $300,000 in property damages. In a communique, the FFFC held the bank (an Olympic sponsor) responsible for the usurpation of Indigenous land and increased homelessness in BC as a result of the Olympics. It also called the RBC hypocritical for claiming to be "one of the planet's greenest companies" while being a major investor in the Alberta tar sands. The FFFC said they will bring their message to the G8/G20 summits in Ontario this summer. Police say they are treating this as a case of arson, but may lay terrorism charges.

Seven Greenpeace activists have been charged after using oil from the Gulf Coast spill to paint the side of a Royal Dutch Shell ship with the words "Arctic Next?" Shell has been granted permission to drill the Arctic as early as this summer. The Greenpeace activists could face terrorism charges.

Major ENGOs—among them Greenpeace and the David Suzuki Foundation—and the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), announced the signing of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA). The deal purports to protect large areas of boreal forest and caribou habitat. Many Indigenous communities have spoken out against the deal after being left out of the negotiating process. Some conservation groups have also denounced the deal calling the CBFA "phony good news," as a closer look at the agreement reveals the amount of protected caribou habitat to be far below what was claimed. Grassroots environmentalists accuse the agreement of distracting from continued unsustainable forestry, as the deal only relegates logging to areas outside a "protected" region—most of which was not scheduled for harvesting in the first place. The agreement also legally mandates the signatory ENGOs to support the Canadian timber industry in all its operations in the boreal forest, to encourage potential customers of boreal products to buy from FPAC businesses and to alert the FPAC to opposition from other groups.

An El Salvadorean man has been ordered out of Canada for past involvement with the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a Salvadorean resistance group in the 1990's. The FMLN, now the democratically-elected government of El Salvador, is officially recognized by Canada. Jose Figueroa has been living in Canada for 13 years and has three Canadian children.

Vancouver police force through the crowd assembled to protest the G8 University summit. Photo: Murray Bush, flux photo

Representatives of world universities gathered in Vancouver for the G8 University Summit. Protesters gathered at the Pan Pacific Rim hotel to demonstrate resistance to the commercialization of research and education, and clashed with police when they tried to block a bus carrying delegates from leaving the hotel.

Hundreds of protesters converged on the Saskatchewan legislature to demonstrate their displeasure with the province's failure to consult more with the people on issues such as labour, rent control and habitat protection.

Industry Minister Tony Clement announced the first 19 Canada excellence research chairs, a program to bring some of the world's leading scientists to Canadian universities to lead research teams. All of the chairs, who were awarded up to $10 million each, were men, as were the 40 shortlisted candidates put forth by Canadian universities.

Whites are five times richer than blacks of the same class in the United States, a study from Brandeis University in Massachusetts concluded.

Four Honduran judges who were dismissed for condemning last year's coup launched a hunger strike against their dismissal.

Ecologists spoke out against the sustainability certification of the East Coast swordfish fishery, making it the world's first longline fishery to receive the Marine Stewardship Council's seal of approval. The Atlantic longline fishery catches an estimated 1,200 loggerhead turtles each year, considered a threatened species, 20-45 per cent of which die.

One hundred people in Iraq had to evacuate their homes when Calgary junior oil company WesternZagros Resources struck sour gas. The villagers will be displaced for at least a month.

The Grand Council of Crees won a Supreme Court case following a six-year court battle against the province of Quebec over a proposed vanadium mine near James Bay. The Cree, concerned about the effects of a mine on fish near the Chibougamau, wanted a federal environmental review of the proposal, while Quebec said a provincial review would suffice.

Ten thousand New Yorkers signed a petition asking the NY Mets to boycott the MLB All-Star game if it is held as scheduled in Phoenix, in protest of Arizona's new anti-immigration legislation. Protests have followed the Arizona Diamondbacks' baseball games: D-backs owner Ken Kendricks is a supporter of Republican Governor Jan Brewer who signed Bill 1070, which mandates police to demand Latinos' proof of immigration, and arrest those who do not produce immigration documents.

Oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 12-25,000 barrels per day became the worst oil spill in US history, doubling the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989. The permanent solution is hoped to be two relief wells, which will not be ready until August. In and around the Gulf of Mexico, hundreds of species are at risk and volunteer clean-up crews are being sent home sick. Newfoundland tightened drilling regulations, and regulators claim a Gulf-like spill could not happen in Canada. Jim Prentice announced BC would not lift its moratorium on offshore drilling any time soon.

A coalition of ethical investors said the Alberta tar sands pose greater risks to investors than deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

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False and misleading statements... somebody dropped the ball

I'm rather surprised by the blurb written about the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA)... who wrote it? Did they even read the agreement?

It is not true that the CBFA "legally mandates" anything. This should be obvious upon reading the agreement. Section 39 explicitly says: "Except where otherwise specifically agreed to in writing, neither the CBFA nor any associated products are intended to create legal rights or obligations that FPAC, FPAC Members, ENGOs, or third parties may seek to legally enforce or rely on."

Also the blurb also makes it sound like the CBFA was just an agreement about where companies would or wouldn't log. But this is misleading, as it completely ignores one of the main parts of the CBFA, which is that it says that logging companies will implement Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) in their tenures (Goal 1 in the agreement).

I'm a fan of The Dominion and have been a member for more than a year, but someone really dropped the ball on this one...! Sorry I didn't post anything about this sooner, I hope nothing's gone to print yet.

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