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March in Review, Part II

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Issue: 77 Section: Month in Review Geography: Canada

April 1, 2011

March in Review, Part II

Nuclear plants decried, Inquiry expansion denied, Conservative clouds in the sky

by The Dominion

The 10 Sites campaign, which is pushing for more affordable housing in Vancouver, marked its first victory. Up to 20 units of supportive housing for single mothers and kids will be part of the future Downtown Eastside development of the library. Photo: Murray Bush

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) announced plans to take steps to terminate the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. The CBFA is a controversial agreement made in secret between environmental NGO's and the logging industry, which, according to NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy, "violates the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of the people of NAN, as well as their long-term social and economic interests.”

Despite $1.25 billion spent over four years by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada on "water and waste water infrastructure", documents obtained from Health Canada revealed that one in five First Nations communities still lack safe drinking water.

The throat swab of a sick seven-year-old in Dartmouth came back positive for mould and asbestos, which she'd been inhaling at school.

Nunavut's government authorized raising power rates by 19 per cent, as the power utility Qulliq Energy Corp faces a $13 million shortfall.

The National Council of Canadian Tamils have called on Stephen Harper to remove an election advertisement which insinuates that the MV Sun Sea refugees were "bogus claimants" and "criminals".

Liberal defence critic MP Dominic LeBlanc has announced that thousands of Afghan detainee documents the Conservative government tried to keep classified may be released within the next couple of weeks.

A proposal to rezone 153 hectares of agricultural land for residential and commercial purposes was rejected by the Nova Scotia government. The ruling was a victory for groups like No Farms No Food who were fighting to protect the farmland.

Residents of New Brunswick, Cape Breton and mainland Nova Scotia are fighting hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking' in their communities. Fracking is an industrial process used to explore and extract natural gas. Opponents are concerned about pollution of water sources, among other potential impacts. Quebec and New York state have halted fracking until further studies are completed.

BC's Energy and Mines Minister announced the province was not concerned about the impact of fracking.

US-based Koch Industries officially registered to lobby the Alberta government. The company, run by the Koch brothers, well-known conservative activist millionaires, is known for funding the Tea Party movement and organizations actively denying the existence of climate change. Koch Industries has also funded the Fraser Institute, a conservative Canadian think tank.

Dozens of people protested outside the Bank of Montreal's Annual General Meeting in Vancouver. They called on the bank not to finance Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, which would run from the Alberta tar sands to a port in Kitimat, BC. The rally was organized in support of the Yenka Dene Alliance of northern Indigenous communities, which has called for the pipeline to be cancelled due to its potential impact on hundreds of streams, watersheds and forests on Indigenous territory.

A study by an independent US budget watchdog group revealed that the 65 F-35 fighter jets the Conservative government planned to purchase would cost closer to $115 million each, $40 million more than the $75 million claimed by the Harper government. A former defense industry lobbyist and soldier who pushed for the controversial purchase of F-35 fighter jets is running for the Conservatives in northern Ontario.

A Canadian general was appointed to head NATO's command of the no-fly zone established over Libya, and Canadian CF-18s took part in the enforcement of the zone, bombing Lybian ammunition depots.

Renowned anti-nuclear campaigner Dr. Helen Caldicott spoke out at a nuclear safety hearing against Ontario's plan to expand the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. She warned that any new development will lead to increased radiation and with it increased cancer. Four Greenpeace activists were arrested at the same hearing after chaining themselves to a table; they each wore t-shirts saying 'No Nukes are Safe: Stop Darlington".

A broad-based coalition of activists and politicians called on the Quebec government to immediately close the proviince's Gentilly-2 nuclear facility, instread of undertaking a $2.2 billion refurbishment as proposed by Hydro-Quebec.

The US Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of death row prisoner Troy Davis, who was convicted of killing an off-duty white police officer. There was never any physical evidence that tied Davis to the crime scene, and since the conviction, seven of the nine non-police witnesses have recanted their testimony.

The Montreal Coalition Opposed to Police Brutality denounced police actions at the March 15th rally against police brutality, particularly the kettling and mass arrest of over 250 people. They will be filing an ethics complaint against the police and called for those arrested and harrassed to submit testimonials for potential legal recourse. Most of those arrested were fined $488 for "obstructing traffic on a public byway."

Newfoundland's Justice Minister agreed to review how medication is prescribed in prisons after a citizens' representative reported getting numerous complaints about psychiatric services in the province's jails over a number of years, including inmates being taken off medication they had been taking before being jailed.

A judge has ruled that video footage of Ashley Smith's treatment by prison officials, including forced drug injections, will be barred from the inquest into her death. The family of the inmate, who took her own life in Grand Valley Institution at the age of nineteen while guards stood watching, announced their intention to appeal the ruling.

Vancouver's YWCA and Strathcona Public Library announced that up to 20 units of supportive housing for single mothers and kids will be part of the future Downtown Eastside development of the library. This marked the first victory of the 10 Sites campaign, which is pushing for more affordable housing in the city.

The BC Missing Women Commission was granted a broader mandate allowing it to hear testimony from more witnesses; many were still disappointed that its mandate was not expanded to include an investigation into the Highway of Tears. The Highway of Tears runs between Prince Rupert and Prince George; it has gained the nickname because at least 18 women have gone missing or been murdered along the route.

Montrealers organized a pro-choice rally in response to a 40 day anti-choice vigil being held across the street from the city's Morgentaler Clinic.

A groups of 11 Guatemalan women filed suit for $55 million in damages against Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals and its subsidiary HMI Nickel. The women say they were gang raped during forced evictions from their homes near the companies' Guatemalan installations.

Facebook removed a page called "Third Palestinian Intifada" from its site, saying that while the page itself called for peaceful protests, comments calling for a violent uprising went against company policy. Over 350,000 people were members of the page before it was taken down.

Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to the country for the first time since he was ousted in 2004 during a Canada, US and France-backed coup. His return came despite US government opposition, and followed the return of former dictator Baby Doc Duvalier, who returned to Haiti after 25 years in exile earlier this year.

Scientists at Qatar University have invented a $500,000 remote-controlled artificial cloud to provide shade at the 2022 World Cup. Canada is among the countries that have expressed interest in buying several dozen of the clouds to offset the impacts of global warming, according to the scientists.

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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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