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September in Review, Part I

Issue: 72 Section: Month in Review

September 15, 2010

September in Review, Part I

Security under scrutiny and media in the news

by Dominion Staff

Fish Lake, of spiritual, cultural and subsistence value to the Tsilhqot'in, may become a tailing dump. Photo: Loretta Williams

The six-band Tsilhqot'in Nation in the interior of British Columbia have promised fierce resistance if the Harper government green-lights the development of the $800 million "Prosperity" gold and copper mine on their traditional territory. The mine would turn a lake that is sacred to the First Nation and that holds 90,000 unique rainbow trout into a tailings dump, replacing it with an artificial lake. If the Cabinet gives final approval to the mine it would be overruling, for the first time in Canadian history, a federal environmental impact study that recommended against the mine, concluding it would have a "high-magnitude, long-term and irreversible effect."

The entire 2,000-mile US-Mexico border will now be patrolled by predator drones as part of a policy increase border militarization overseen by President Obama ahead of November elections.

As many as 2,000 additional troops—mostly American—may be headed to occupy Afghanistan under a plan proposed by US General David Petraeus, potentially bringing the US troop levels above the 30,000 authorized by Obama earlier this year.

The Department of National Defence denied that Canadian troops are involved in trafficking heroin, after the British Sunday Times and the BBC reported that Britain's Ministry of Defence was investigating claims that soldiers from the two countries were smuggling drugs out of southern Afghanistan on military aircraft.

Briefing notes obtained by the Canadian Press revealed that a member of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's intelligence agency, boasted to Canadian military officers in May 2009 that his organization was able to “torture” and “beat” prisoners during its interrogations.

The Halifax Peace Coalition (HPC) protested DEFSEC Atlantic, a defence and security exhibition in the city, which included Lockheed Martin. Over the summer, Lockheed received a no-bid contract worth $16 billion to sell F-35 Joint Strike fighter jets to the Department of National Defence. "The federal government should be investing in hospitals, schools and affordable housing to provide true security for Canadians, not fighter jets," said Tamara Lorincz of HPC.

Canadian journalists were falsely signed onto a petition organized by internet advocacy group Avaaz.org. The petition opposed the introduction of Quebecor's SunTV news channel, dubbed "Fox News North," into Canada. The news channel would be run by Prime Minister Harper's former director of communications, Kory Teneycke, whose name was also added to the petition, and who was contacted by the trickster. "We have taken on some pretty nasty characters in our three-and-a-half years—everyone from Bush to Burmese dictators to corrupt politicians in Brazil and Germany," said Avaaz executive director Ricken Patel of the fraudulent signatures. "No one has tried this before."

Briefing notes released under access to information requests reveal the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency says it would use torture-tainted information and share it with foreign governments, violating a federal policy issued last year that directed the spy agency to “not knowingly rely upon information which is derived from the use of torture.”

Police continued to make arrests in relation to June's G20 protests in Toronto, charging 28-year-old Montreal resident Juan Lepore with mischief exceeding $5,000, mischief endangering life and assault.

Hundreds of Guatemalan migrant workers and their allies protested at the Canadian embassy in Guatemala City, denouncing the abusive treatment of migrants under Canada's Temporary Foreign Workers program, under which 4,000 Guatemalans work in Canada's agricultural sector every season.

"The federal government should be investing in hospitals, schools and affordable housing to provide true security for Canadians, not fighter jets," says Halifax anti-war activist Tamara Lorincz. Photo: Hillary Bain Lindsay

Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney visited Asia to build support for law enforcement to crack down on human smuggling and flights of refugees to Canada, a month after a boatload of Tamil refugees arrived in British Columbia.

An Immigration and Refugee Board hearing in Vancouver ordered the release of the first of the Tamil refugee applicants, a pregnant women with three children who is suffering from complications to injuries she sustained in Sri Lanka. The 492 Tamil migrants who arrived aboard the MV Sun Sea in Esquimalt, BC, on August 13 have been held in detention facilities in the Vancouver area, with children being put in care by the provincial government.

Eight separate incidents of "swarmings" over the past two weeks in Halifax landed victims in hospital, and one in surgery. The recent spate of "random" violence with no "profound motivation" went unreported until a victim of the sixth swarming went to the press after he learned from hospital staff of the previous incidents.

BP warned the US Congress that if it passed legislation barring the company from acquiring new offshore drilling permits, it wouldn't have money to pay for damages caused by the Gulf of Mexico spill, leaving observers to conclude the company is using the funds as a bargaining chip to ensure continued access to the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for 11 per cent of its global production of oil.

An offshore petroleum platform exploded and burned in the Gulf of Mexico, 80 miles off the Louisiana coast, west of the site where BP's well spilled.

A fuel tanker ran aground in the Northwest Passage, though no spills were reported, as it delivered nine-and-a-half million litres of diesel fuel to remote communities in the Canadian Arctic. "I don't know if people are prepared for [a spill]," said Jeannie Ugyuk, a local MLA.

More than 500 First Nations and northern BC residents marched in Prince George, BC, against a proposed pipeline that would allow Enbridge to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands to Canada's West Coast and on to China. The next day, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 6,000 barrels of oil into an industrial park near Romeoville, Illinois. "This most recent pipeline leak is the nail in the coffin for the Northern Gateway Pipelines project," said Chief Larry Nooski of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in a press release.

For good measure, another pipeline in Buffalo leaked an indeterminate amount of oil, Enbridge's third spill in three months.

Alberta Premier Stelmach said he would compare a recent study that found elevated levels of mercury, lead and 11 other toxins in the tar sands' main water source, the Athabasca River, to government research that has backed up long-standing industry claims that oil development has left the water unaffected. "If it means that we have to do something more, we will," he said.

The Harper government muzzled Natural Resources Canada scientists this spring, telling them they would need “pre-approval” from the Minister's office to speak with national and international journalists. The policy is reserved for “high-profile” issues like “climate change [and] oilsands,” but access to information documents show the rules are being applied so broadly that a scientist who published a study about a colossal flood that hit northern Canada 13,000 years ago was prevented from speaking to the media. "If you can’t get access to a nice, feel-good science story about flooding at the end of last glaciation, can you imagine trying to get access to scientists with information about cadmium and mercury in the Athabasca River?" said Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climatologist.

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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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