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May in Review, Part II

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Issue: 77 Section: Month in Review

June 1, 2011

May in Review, Part II

Great Slave Lake polluted, Pickton intervenors excluded, mining companies refuted

by The Dominion

This giant Metalcore puppet proposed marriage to the Canadian government in a piece of street theatre in Vancouver. The "proposal" was part of a demonstration outside the AGM of mining company Goldcorp. The protest, denouncing the human rights and environmental abuses allegedly perpetrated by the company, was one of many protests targeting several mining companies during Mining Justice Week. Photo: David P. Ball

The BC government announced the creation of a civilian-led police oversight office in response to recommendations made by public inquiries into the deaths of Robert Dziekanski and Frank Paul. Dziekanski, a Polish migrant, was tasered at Vancouver International Airport by RCMP officers. Paul succumbed to hypothermia after being dumped in an alley by Vancouver police officers.

After a recent slew of violent or sudden deaths in BC prisons, the BC Civil Liberties Association released a statement calling for more inquests into correctional facility deaths. Since 1999, 144 deaths—and only 13 inquests—have occurred in BC provincial and federal institutions.

The BC provincial government rejected funding for legal representation for all but one of the 13 groups that Pickton commission head Wally Oppal recommended receive financial support. The province will fund legal costs for the families of victims killed by William Pickton, but not sex worker, Aboriginal or Downtown East Side Vancouver residents' groups.

Montrealers marched through the rain to call for an end to deportations and for better access to social services for undocumented migrants. An estimated 50,000 people live in Quebec without status. Photo: Tim McSorley

Canada Post rejected the Canadian Union of Postal Workers' final offer. While the union announced it is preparing to strike as of Thursday at midnight, it said it is willing to negotiate up to the final minute. “After seven months of negotiations, Canada Post continues to demand major concessions, including unsafe work methods, a 22 per cent wage reduction for new hires and the elimination of a sick leave plan that members have had for over 40 years," said CUPW National President Denis Lemelin in a statement.

Paper Excellence Canada Holdings Corporation purchased its fifth paper mill in Canada in as many years. Paper Excellence is a shell company of global pulp and paper giant Asia Pulp Paper, which has been accused of many environmental crimes, including illegally logging a national park in Cambodia.

A naturally-forming ice dam caused water to stream through a gold mine tailings pond in the Northwest Territories. The toxic overflow leaked back into a water system that feeds Great Slave Lake, which has been heavily polluted from the mining industry expanding along its shores.

Dow AgroSciences dropped its complaint to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) challenging Quebec's ban of pesticide 2,4-D, which four other provinces have banned for aesthetic uses. Dow had claimed the policy violated NAFTA because it constituted a barrier to trade.

Some 200 people marched for Status for All in Montreal, calling for an end to deportations, detentions and punitive measures against migrants. Approximately 50,000 undocumented people live in Quebec.

Mining justice advocates introduced a shareholder's resolution at Vancouver-based Goldcorp's AGM which would suspend operations at the company's Marlin gold mine in Guatemala. Goldcorp advised shreholders to vote against the resolution, which was supported by 36 human rights organizations in Europe. Six per cent of Goldcorp's shareholders voted for the resolution. Some critical shareholders were prevented from entering the meeting. Two hundred people, including affected people from Papua New Guinea, Honduras and Guatemala, protested the company's alleged human rights and environmental abuses outside the AGM in Vancouver.

While protesters rallied outside, delegates from Wixarika in Mexico addressed shareholders at First Majestic Silver's AGM in Vancouver. The company plans to build a silver mine in San Luis Potosi, territory sacred to the Wixarika people.

Members of the Algonquin of Barriere Lake voiced opposition to mining on their territory at the annual general meeting of Cartier Resources, Inc. Cartier's copper mine is slated to operate on unceded Algonquin land covered by a trilateral agreement which does not permit mining exploitation.

The Mishkeegogamang First Nation launched a historic legal challenge in an Ontario court. The First Nation is suing both the federal and provincial governments for upwards of $1 billion over multiple violations of James Bay Treaty No. 9, signed in 1905. Violations include the forced relocation and the flooding of treaty lands for hydro power development. The treaty covers over 350,000 square kilometres of territory around James Bay.

The NDP stated that the Ontario Liberal government is delaying an inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students in Thunder Bay after questions were raised by their families about the lack of Aboriginal representation on the inquest's jury. Since 2009, when the inquest was supposed to begin, two more students have died: Kyle Morrisseau, 17, and Jordan Wabasse, 15.

A Toronto city councilor abandoned his motion demanding a written commitment from Pride Toronto to prevent Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) from participating in this year's Pride Parade, saying he was satisfied with a commitment from one of the march's co-chairs to eject unregistered QuAIA members from participating. QuAIA will not march this year.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford asked the courts to halt a full audit of his campaign funding, as ordered by a compliance audit committee in response to questions about Ford’s family company paying more than $77,000 in early campaign expenses.

Byron Sonne, the last person to remain in jail on G20-related charges, was released on bail after 11 months behind bars.

The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) continued to provide US intelligence agencies with the names of Canadians and foreign nationals in Canada they suspect of having ties to terrorism-related activities and groups. The names often end up on US watch-lists and no-fly lists, blocking those people from entering or flying over the United States. According to US diplomatic cables newly released by Wikileaks, in some cases, CSIS has no concrete proof of its allegations.

In a defense department briefing, the Canadian Military revealed that Canadian fighter jets have dropped 240 bombs over Libya in 324 flights.

Well-known British peace activist and former Guatanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg was prevented from boarding his direct flight from England to Toronto because of the chance the plane could, in an emergency, be diverted to the United States. Begg, who was released after five years at Guatanamo without being charged with a crime, was slated to speak at a conference on Islamophobia in Toronto and in other Canadian cities. Begg routinely travels in Europe, Africa and Asia for speaking engagements and has met with several high-ranking British officials, but remains on a US no-fly list.

Germany announced plans to shut down all nuclear reactors by 2022, a move prompted by mass nationwide protests against nuclear power.

Musician Carlos Santana was booed in Atlanta at Major League Baseball's annual Civil Rights Game after speaking out against a new Georgia law. HR 87, which was modeled after Arizona's controversial SB 1070, gives state and local police federal powers to demand immigration papers from people they suspect to be undocumented, and to jail those who do not provide papers on request.

Peabody Energy threatened to sue the Yes Men for unfairly singling it out as the only coal company ruining children's health. The satirical group created a parody company website, Coal Cares™, offering free novelty inhalers to families living near coal plants. Peabody Energy didn't issue a cease and desist notice, but a letter complaining that while they are in fact the largest coal company, they aren't the only one causing asthmatic attacks in children.

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British peace activist?

Since Moazzam Begg said publicly that he supports the insurgents' right to fight coalition troops, isn't it a bit odd to be calling him a "British peace activist"?

(Keep in mind that a May 2009 BBC poll reported 69% of Afghans disagree with Begg on that.)

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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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