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February in Review, Part 1

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Issue: 75 Section: Month in Review Geography: Canada

February 16, 2011

February in Review, Part 1

Streets and squares taken back, G20 cops given flack

by The Dominion

Two thousand people marched in Vancouver for the 20th annual day of remembrance for missing and murdered women. Rallies and marches were also held across the country. Photo: Murray Bush

Two thousand people marched through Vancouver's Downtown East Side in the 20th annual Women's Memorial March. The annual Valentine's Day march commemorates the 3,000 women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada since the 1970s. Hundreds more people took part in solidarity marches across the country, including in Montreal and Ottawa.

Vancouver police warned the public about Martin Tremblay and released a photo of the man, who was sentenced to 11 months in prison on drug charges. Tremblay was convicted in 2003 of five counts of sexual assault, and was released less than a year later. It is widely believed that he is responsible for the sexual assault and murder of at least two Aboriginal teenage girls, leading to rallies in support of keeping him in jail. Several young girls and neighbourhood residents of Vancouver's Downtown East Side have publicly come forth, denouncing Tremblay for drugging and sexually assaulting them since his previous release from jail.

Nova Scotia's NDP government announced it would cut its school board costs by two per cent and university funding by four per cent, and asked hospital administrators to work through a planning exercise to cut health care costs.

Students took the streets of Halifax, Wolfville and Pointe de l'Église to protest rising tuition fees in Nova Scotia. The average student debt after graduating from an undergraduate program in the province is $31,000.

Rallies were held across the country in support of the pro-democracy protests in Egypt. In Montreal, protesters chanted, "Mubarak, Degage!"—"Mubarak, get out!" Photo: Tim McSorley

Of the 73 recommended changes to the Northwest Territories' (NWT) Child and Family Services Act to come out of public hearings, only 22 were accepted by the NWT Health and Social Services Department. Most of the suggested changes concerned the child protection system, and included creating child and family services committees in every community, better addictions services for parents and assisting extended family in keeping children at home.

A BC addictions counselor criticized the Yukon government's addictions services for young people as having no intensive or long-term programs.

In a rally in support of affordable housing in Vancouver, 150 people snake-marched from the site of last year's Olympic Tent Village to last year's unprofitable Olympic Athletes Village, crashing an Olympics anniversary celebration. The rally was in solidarity with the Ten Sites Campaign, a call to the City of Vancouver to identify 10 affordable housing sites before the next municipal election, and in support of Vancouver's upcoming tent village.

The 2010 Olympic Winter Games had negative effects on young people in Vancouver, according to an ongoing study by a Carleton University researcher. Her findings report that marginalized youth are further pushed to away from safe and supportive environments by police and host cities, both before and during Olympic Games.

Activists stormed a budget meeting at Toronto City Hall to protest proposed cuts to social services and community programs. Two people were arrested. Mayor Rob Ford's brother was caught on tape telling protesters to "get a job."

Thousands marched in Hamilton in solidarity with the 900 steelworkers who have been locked out by US Steel, and 9,000 pensioners whose incomes are in jeopardy.

A medical audit into the health impact of silica dust at the Iron Ore Company of Canada facilities in western Labrador was delayed after union leaders voiced concerns about a possible conflict of interest for the company selected to do the study. The company provides employee assistance program services to Wabush Mines.

The Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons revised its guidelines to require doctors who are anti-abortion to inform their patients of their position from the outset, and provide a referral to another physician.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority refused to release the internal review of the death of Brian Sinclair, a homeless man who died after waiting 34 hours for care in a hospital emergency room. Sinclair's family was refused access to hospital videotapes of the death.

New Brunswick's Finance Minister Blaine Higgs announced his government is considering a five per cent salary cut for civil servants.

Quebec government lawyers went on strike, demanding a 40 per cent pay increase. Quebec prosecutors' salaries top out at $102,000 per year, making them the lowest paid in Canada.

Stephen Harper urged Barack Obama to approve a $7 billion pipeline which would run from Hardisty, Alberta to the Gulf Coast of Texas, and which would double the amount of tar sands crude exported to refineries in the United States.

The Canadian Diabetes Association predicted that one in four Manitobans will be living with either diabetes or prediabetes by 2020.

Saskatchewan's Justice Ministry announced that charges against SaskEnergy will not be pursued in relation to a gas explosion that killed two men in Nipawin in 2008. Charges will go ahead against the backhoe driver who pierced a gas line that caused the explosion.

Shell Canada is under investigation after workers in Peace River found an oil tank venting sour gas, after residents 40 kilometres northeast of the town reported smelling rotten egg.

Renowned anti-nuclear activist and physician Dr. Helen Caldicott was banned from Port Hope after advocating the evacuation of the citizens due to radioactive waste.

The Forest Practices Board called on foresters and land managers to get "creative" about conserving exceptional trees after logging company Teal-Jones cut down trees in Port Renfrew, BC, which were between 500 and 1,000 years old.

The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) denied Mohamed Harkat's request to attend a dinner held in his honour at a Montreal conference on national security, because it would violate his condition of non-association. Harkat has spent eight years fighting deportation based on secret accusations.

A federal study revealed that the CBSA spent more than $45 million on jailing refugees in 2008-09.

In a bid to serve his sentence in Canada, Omar Khadr sent a prisoner transfer application to the Canadian government.

The Quebec National Assembly voted unanimously to ban the kirpan, an unsharpened ceremonial dagger worn by Sikhs, from the Assembly. In January 2011, four Sikhs were turned away from the provincial legislature because they were wearing kirpans.

The lawyer for Montreal police officer Jean-loup Lapointe, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Fredy Villanueva in 2008, argued that racial profiling, and how police killings are investigated, should not be considered in the ongoing inquest into the young man's death.

A Prince Edward Island RCMP officer received a suspended sentence and remains on desk duty after being charged with assault for the second time. The RCMP's internal investigation continues, but the results, as per RCMP policy, will not be released to the public.

An Edmonton police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old in a restaurant parking lot when investigating an armed robbery. The victim allegedly ran at the officer with a bat and knife. The officer fired three times.

A federal court stayed Montreal's Victor Morales' deportation order. Morales has lived in Montreal for 32 years, is the father of three Canadian kids and is the primary caregiver for his terminally ill Canadian mother.

Members of the Toronto Police Board were shocked to find out the Toronto Police Department (TPD) unilaterally decided to keep Long Range Acoustical Devices, commonly known as sounds cannons, which were acquired for use during the June 2010 G20 meetings. Board members expected that Board approval would be needed for the police department to keep the controversial machines.

Toronto Police Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani was charged with assault for a second time in relation to his conduct during the G20 protests. Originally charged in December for assaulting Adam Nobody, he is now accused of assaulting a Toronto blogger.

The two lawyers for Montrealer Natalie Gray, who was shot twice with rubber bullets at the G20 protests leaving considerable bruising on her elbow and sternum, called for a criminal inquiry into her arrest. Gray's charges were dropped after the arrest. Photographic evidence has identified three officers involved in her arrest, but the TPD has not revealed their names.

Hosni Mubarak resigned as president of Egypt after 18 straight days of protest, during which two million Egyptians took to the streets across the country in opposition to Mubarak's 30-year dictatorship. Mubarak was replaced by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. While the military called for all protests to end and for Tahrir Square—the epicentre of the protests—to be cleared, many protesters vowed to continue until Mubarak's entire cabinet is removed and the 30-year-old emergency measures laws used by Muabarak to stay in power are rescinded.

The impact of Mubarak's resignation reverberated across the Middle East and North Africa, with thousands taking to the streets in Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain and Iran, calling for open and democratic elections.

Thousands of people in Canada held rallies across the country in support of the Egyptian pro-democracy movement in the lead-up to Mubarak's resignation and also participated in celebrations following his ouster.

World food prices hit an all time high in January 2011. The Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index hit 231, the highest since the previous peak of 224.1 in June 2008. Extreme weather conditions, including droughts and heavy rains, are blamed for causing supply shortages and the rise in prices. Nine hundred twenty-five million people around the world are either malnourished or underfed—55 million more people than in 2008. Food shortages are also blamed for civil unrest in places such as Tunisia and Egypt.

Prince Edward Island's potato exports grew 90 per cent this year, due to a drought in Russia and poor weather conditions in Idaho.

Former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide was granted a diplomatic passport by the Haitian government, allowing him to return to the country at any time, although he has not said when he plans on returning. Aristide has been in exile in South Africa since he was ousted in 2004 through a coup allegedly organized by the United States, France and Canada.

Fourteen Kentuckians occupied the state governor's office for four days in protest of mountain top removal mining. Upon leaving the office, they joined more than 1,000 protesters outside for the annual "I Love Mountains" march. Author Wendell Berry took part in the occupation. "We came because the land, its forests, and its streams are being destroyed by the surface mining of coal, because the people are suffering intolerable harms to their homes, their health, and their communities," he said.

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Regional representation

Love the stories from places not as commonly covered by the Dominion, i.e. NB, PEI, Sask, Man., etc. Great job!

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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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