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October in Review, Part I

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Issue: 73 Section: Month in Review

October 15, 2010

October in Review, Part I

Prisons expanded, G20 charges dropped, Nobel prize winner deported

by Dominion Staff

The faces of missing Indigenous women at the March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Montreal. At least 580 and as many as 3,000 Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the last three decades. Photo: Jadis

Prime Minister Stephen Harper claimed his party "will not rest" until the long-gun registry is abolished, even though a poll found two-thirds of Canadians support its existence.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced the federal government will spend $155.5 million to expand prisons in Quebec and Ontario. Statistics Canada has reported that "both the volume and severity of police-reported crime fell in 2009," including a three per cent fall since 2008 and 17 per cent since 1999, but Toews responded that "the crime rate isn't going down."

Canadian correctional investigator Howard Saper reported there were at least nine inmate deaths in federal prisons since 2007 that officers could have intervened in or prevented. His report comes a month before a coroner's inquest into the 2007 death of 19-year-old Ashley Smith, who committed suicide at the Grand Valley Institution while seven guards watched.

Canadian Gulf War veteran Sean Bruyea is suing the federal government for $400,000 and demanding a full public inquiry and apology after the Privacy Commissioner found that Veterans Affairs illegally revealed private information about him in briefing notes to the Minister. Bruyea was a vocal opponent of changes in 2006 to the Veteran's Charter, which resulted in injured veterans receiving lump sum payments instead of regular payments over their lifetime.

On Thanksgiving Day, about 125 migrant workers walked 50 kilometres from Leamington to Windsor, Ontario, on a Pilgrimage to Freedom March. They were drawing attention to abuses faced by migrant workers in Canada.

Vigils and marches were held across Canada to mark the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, including in Montreal and Toronto. In Vancouver, seven women occupied a police station, calling for an investigation into the death of Ashley Machisknic, a 22-year-old Indigenous woman from Saskatchewan who was found dead behind the Downtown East Side Regent hotel on September 15. "There can be no more sweeping of these deaths under the carpet,” said organizer Stella August.

Environmental Justice Toronto activists drop a banner off Gardiner Expressway demanding freedom for G20 arrestee Alex Hundert. Hundert has refused bail due to conditions requiring him to refrain from expressing political views publicly. He is one of several dozen people still fighting G20-related charges. Photo: Environmental Justice Toronto

Charges were dropped against almost 100 people, mostly from Quebec, who were arrested en masse during June's G20 meetings while billeting at the University of Toronto. At the time, police said they found evidence of "street weapons" such as black clothing.

A Justice of the Peace ruled G20 arrestee Alex Hundert broke his "no-public demonstration" bail condition by participating in panel discussions at two university events. Hundert has since declined bail conditions that would include "not expressing political views."

The NDP secured opposition and government support for a parliamentary inquiry into the spending of public money and allegations of human rights abuses by the Toronto and Montreal Police Services, the OPP and the RCMP during the G20.

Members of the Quebec Women's Federation occupied the office of the provincial Ministry of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women during province-wide rallies in the lead-up to the October 17 World March of Women. Minister Christine St-Pierre had previously dismissed the QWF's demands that the province raise minimum wage, increase sex education in schools, ban sexist advertising and rescind its plan to charge higher user fees for public services.

The United Nations reported that more than a third of women worldwide have been forced into sex or physically abused, often at the hands of a partner or family member, and that the rate of abuse is increasing.

The Seattle Police Department opened an internal investigation into the shooting death of aboriginal artist John T. Williams, a woodcarver from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations on Vancouver Island, BC. Deaf in one ear, Williams was walking downtown, carrying his carving knife when he was shot by police four times after an officer allegedly ordered Williams to drop the knife. It is believed Williams was wearing headphones at the time of the shooting.

Canada lost its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council after a nine-year campaign. While Prime Minister Harper blamed opposition parties, experts pinned it on the Conservative's unpopular foreign policies, including decreased aid to Africa, support for Israeli policies toward Palestinians and its stance on climate change.

Israel's Supreme Court gave the government the go-ahead to deport Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire—for the second time—while she attempted to participate in a Nobel Womens' Initiative in the country. She was first deported four months ago after joining the Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla that was illegally intercepted in international waters by Israeli navy commandos.

Police in Serbia clashed with hundreds of far-right rioters who were attempting to disrupt a gay pride march in Belgrade.

Canada's Export Development Corporation lent $1 billion to Brazilian mining giant Vale Inc., in a move union leaders have called "unacceptable." Ever since its 2006 takeover of Inco nickel mines, Vale's Canadian operations have been marred by labour struggles, including a bitter year-long strike at a Sudbury mine that ended in August.

Clan Mothers in Grassy Narrows in northwestern Ontario prevented Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) enforcement officers from interfering with the First Nation's back-road repair. The MNR has not maintained the roads since 2002, when community members began a blockade to prevent clear-cut logging in their traditional territory.

A Quebec superior court judge upheld a labor arbitrator's decision in 2009 that Wal-Mart illegally fired the 192 employees at its store in Jonquiere, Quebec, and ordered it to pay indemnities to the former employees. The world's largest retailer had shut down the franchise less than a year after it had become the first Wal-Mart to successfully unionize.

India built partitions and temporarily exiled panhandlers to neighbouring states during the Commonwealth Games in New Dehli.

Pakistan reopened the Torkham border crossing 11 days after closing it to protest a strike by an American helicopter that killed two Pakistani soldiers. During the blockade, Pakistani militants destroyed about 150 Afghanistan-bound trucks carrying NATO supplies.

The Chinese government placed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo's wife under house arrest after she visited her husband in prison. Police also detained 20 bloggers, lawyers and academics who had gathered for dinner to celebrate Xiaobo's Nobel Prize.

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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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