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July in Review, Part II

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Issue: 70 Section: Month in Review

August 1, 2010

July in Review, Part II

Oil spilled (again), prison farms defended, posters permitted, dykes marched

by Dominion Staff

Polar Bears in the Hudson Bay will die out in the next three decades, according to biologists. With the reduction of Arctic ice, bears feed less. Females, losing weight and body fat, produce fewer cubs. [cc 2.0] Photo: US Geological Survey

An Enbridge pipeline that runs toward Sarnia, Ontario leaked three million litres of oil into Battle Creek in southern Michigan, threatening the Kalamazoo River and the Great Lakes, in one of the worst spills in the history of the Midwest. Although the Chinese government claimed less than a million gallons spilled into the Yellow Sea when a pipeline exploded earlier this month near Dalian, China, a researcher at the University of Alaska has concluded that it was in fact 19-28 million gallons. The US delayed a decision about green-lighting the proposed $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline, which would flow bitumen from Alberta to refineries on the US Gulf Coast. The Green Party of Canada joined with the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition to oppose drilling in the Gulf of St. Laurence; a lease has been granted to Corridor Resources to explore for oil around the Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

BP announced a record loss due to the cost of cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, though their CEO will leave the company with a one million pound payoff and ten million pound pension. The company admitted to photoshopping images on its website to give the impression of increased activity at its command centre in Houston, Texas. Transocean's chief technician testified that crucial warning systems on BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico had been switched off at the time of explosion, to save sleeping workers from being woken by false alarms.

China surpassed the United States as the top energy-consuming nation, with energy use in the country doubling over the past decade. The US still remains far ahead in per capita energy use.

Polar bears in the Hudson Bay will die out in 10-30 years, according to researchers at the University of Alberta.

More than 100 people attended Halifax's first annual Dyke March. "This Dyke March is very distinctly not a parade. Parades are important... but we also have to remember how we got to where we are today,” said organizer Rebbecca Rose. “We didn’t win these victories by parading... We and the activists that came before us won these fights by marching, by chanting, by kicking, by screaming, by challenging the law." Winnipeg also held its first Dyke March earlier in June, joining other marches in Toronto and Vancouver.

Argentina legalized same-sex marriage.

The United Nations General Assembly voted to enshrine access to clean, fresh water as a fundamental human right. The motion, presented by the Bolivian government, passed with 122 nations in support, none against and 41 countries—including Canada—abstaining.

BC resident Nathalie Gray publicly accused the Toronto police of shooting her with rubber bullets at the G20 Summit, and launched a lawsuit, presenting photos from the emergency room showing her wounds. Police finally admitted to using rubber bullets at the protest in which Gray participated, after initially issuing denials.

The Toronto Police Services Board solicited public input into its "independent" inquiry of police action during the G20 summit. The review will exclude consideration of security inside the fence, on-the-ground operations outside the fence, tactics like "kettling" for which there is no police policy, individual cases of abuse and the Ontario Cabinet's approval of Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair's request for secret powers during the summit.

People near Kingston, ON, vowed to continue their acts of civil disobedience until the Canadian government withdraws its proposal to close prison farms. [cc 2.0] Photo: Gord Campbell

The regional headquarters of the Correctional Services of Canada in Kingston was blockaded by some 250 people—including residents, farmers, and prison activists—to protest the Conservative government's proposal to shut down Canada's prison farms, with promises of continuing civil disobedience until the government reverses its decision. The seven farms across Canada, including one in Kingston, provide a different form of rehabilitation and skills development than typical prisons, say supporters.

Montreal schools in poor neighbourhoods were found 30 times more likely to have a nearby fast-food restaurant than those in rich neighbourhoods.

A Federal Court judge ruled that the Crown must review all evidence against Mohamed Mahjoub, arrested in 2000 under a National Security Certificate, after concluding that CSIS, Canada's spy agency, does not have mechanisms in place to ensure evidence it uses is not obtained under torture.

The French government took action to "clean" the internet of evidence of an hoax website, modeled after the French foreign ministry's, that announced the French goverment would pay $21 billion in reparations to Haiti to compensate for the money it extracted from the country after a successful 1804 revolution overthrowing slavery. French government officials also refused to rule out possible leagal action, and an employee of the French Foreign Ministry has allegedly made threatening phone calls to the group responsible for the hoax in the days since the action.

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled Canadians should be compensated for breaches of their charter rights, even if such breaches are committed in good faith. The Court ordered the Canadian government to pay $5,000 to a Vancouver lawyer who was held and searched after a suspected "pieing" of then-prime minister Jean Chretien. Experts say the case could have far reaching consequences.

After 10 years in court, Montreal's municipal bylaw on postering was overturned by the Quebec Court of Appeals, which ruled the regulation violates freedom of expression rights guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The city says it will continue to enforce its law until it decides whether to challenge the court's decision, with which it has six months to comply. It has indicated it may seek a compromise, increasing the size of public billboards to accommodate posters.

Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), called for the Indian Act to be scrapped within five years and replaced by a just relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian government. "We will once and for all work to dismantle the unnecessary machinery of the Department of Indian Affairs, which only perpetuates our poverty," he told the 2,000 delegates at the AFN's annual general assembly in Winnipeg.

Members of the Algonquin of Barriere Lake north of Montreal blockaded the road leading into their reserve, stopping a federal government official from holding a nomination meeting for band council elections imposed through section 74 of the Indian Act. While there have been divisions in the community in recent years over the identity of their Customary Chief and Council, the different sides are collectively opposing the federal government's attempt to replace their traditional leadership selection process, which is tied to their land use.

WikiLeaks, an organization that publishes and protects material from journalists and whistleblowers, made public 91,000 secret US-military reports about Afghanistan. The reports describe in minute detail US military operations from 2004 to the end of 2009, and are "the most comprehensive history of a war ever to be published during the course of a war," according to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.

July was the deadliest month for US troops in the nine-year war in Afghanistan.

The conservative government ordered a review of the Public Service Employment Act with the goal of putting an end to affirmative action in the public service. Unions criticized the move as an attack on equity and diversity in the workplace.

Bank executives were overpaid $1.6 billion at the height of the financial crisis, according to a review by the White House special master on Wall Street compensation.

The BBC released a damning report on Canada's role in the global asbestos industry. Canada federally funds an asbestos lobby group to sell Canadian asbestos worldwide; last year Canada exported 153,000 tonnes of white asbestos, mostly to India. Blamed by the World Health Organization for 90,000 deaths a year, asbestos is the largest contributor to work-related cancer in the world. Supporters of the industry say asbestos is not dangerous if handled correctly.

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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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