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June in Review, Part II

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Section: Month in Review

June 30, 2011

June in Review, Part II

Greeks revolt, Gaza flotillas ready, feds go anti-postal

by Dominion Editors

OTTAWA—A rally outside the Canada Post Station at Sparks and Elgin in Ottawa on June 4 attracted labour activists representing a variety of unions as well as community activists who are organizing through online networks such as People.4.PostalWorkers. CUPW National President Denis Lemelin called the multitude of unions and community groups at the Ottawa rally “formidable.” image by Sebastien Labelle Photo: Sebastien Labelle

Ten flotillas of Palestine supporters gathered in Greece and prepared to break the Israeli siege of Gaza by defying Israel's naval blockade. The Israeli government has suggested it would use force against the flotillas, as it did against the Mavi Marmara last year. During the preparations, the Irish flotilla was sabotaged.

Despite cross-Canada protests, actions, work stoppages and rallies in support of the striking postal workers, the federal government legislated the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to work. CUPW has announced they plan to challenge the back to work bill in court.

Under the threat of back-to-work legislation imposed by the Harper government just 16 hours into their strike, the Canadian Auto Workers, representing 3,800 Air Canada employees, voted in favour of a new collective agreement. “[The government's] decision to use back-to-work legislation in the Canada Post and Air Canada disputes was not neutral," said CUPW president Denis Lemelin. "The Conservatives have shown themselves to be very anti-worker after only two months of majority government.”

The Ontario government and public school teachers have agreed to an increase in their pension contribution rates and a reduction in their benefits, with zero impact on the government's fiscal plan.

Thousands of people took over Syntagma Square in Athens as the Greek government passed the first part of an austerity package in a bid for international funding. If unsuccessful, Greece will default on its debt in mid-July. Greek police used unprecedented force to repress demonstrators. "What happened was not the police attacking a demonstration, it was them attacking an entire city – an urbicide of highest order," read a report posted to Occupied London, a website dedicated to covering the struggle in Greece.

An opinion poll commissioned by the Toronto Star identified that public support for police actions during the G20 has decreased significantly.

Graffiti calls awareness to the dangers of asbestos in Manila, capital city of the Philippines. Photo: Jussi Mononen CC 2.0

The head of the Canadian delegation at a UN meeting opposed placing limits on the export of chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen which is mined in Quebec. This will likely mean international efforts to deem it a hazardous material will fail and restrictions will not be placed on its export.

Canada's correctional investigator said federal prisons are already experiencing significant and in some cases dangerous overcrowding. His statement came just three months after Ottawa ended accelerated parole for inmates.

Hockey fans in Vancouver rioted after the Canucks' Game 7 loss to Boston in the Stanley Cup Final. "It appears that wearing your political stripes on your sleeve is far riskier in Canada than wearing a hockey jersey, and that your purpose for being in the streets will determine the police response more than your actions," wrote Toronto lawyer Adrienne Telford and law graduate Jeff Carolin, regarding the differences in police response at the G20 and the Canucks riot.

Fifteen year-old Sarah Benkiran was banned from refereeing for the Lac St. Louis Soccer Association for wearing a hijab, re-igniting the "reasonable accommodation" debate in Quebec.

Members of the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation who work at the Endako Mining camp in northern BC complained of widespread illness they believe is caused by their work environment. The company called the complaints “exaggerated.”

The Conservative government indicated it will shut down a review of documents about the handling of detainees in Afghanistan. A trove of records tabled in parliament last Wednesday were met with speculation about whether Canadians knew the prisoners they handed over might be tortured in Afghan jails.

Other defense documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen revealed that the Canadian military plans to spend $830 million on a new helicopter squadron and other construction at the Canadian Forces Base in Petawawa, Ontario.

Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species in more than two million years, according to scientists.

A 15-year-old BC girl with Down Syndrome was found home alone with her mother's week-old corpse. The mother was struggling with addiction and poverty, and was unable to care for her daughter without support. Her income assistance was cut off before her death, despite the fact that she was in dire need of financial and social aid.

The government of Alberta revealed a plan to spend $500,000 “educating” Albertans on the benefits of carbon capture and sequestration technology, before conducting a public survey to decide if it should give a $2 billion subsidy to an already wealthy industry for the controversial CCS projects.

The Iraqi government shortlisted Montreal-based SNC Lavalin for a lucrative oilfield development contract. The winner of the contract will be announced within two weeks.

The provincial electronics recycling program in Ontario proved unable to recycle all of the toxic materials it promised to keep out of landfills. It has a surplus of $20 million in collected eco-fees.

An internal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade report revealed that trade with Africa will soon supplant aid.

A group of US lawmakers launched a lawsuit against President Obama, claiming that the bombing of Libya is illegal. The suit states “the executive branch’s circumvention of Congress and its use of international organizations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to authorize the use of military force abroad, in violation of the Constitution.” Canada-led NATO forces have carried out at least 4,700 bombings over the past three months. During Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's visit to the country to meet with rebels, he signed a Canadian bomb that already carried a surprising message: "This postal service don't strike."

Police in Peru opened fire on a group of Indigenous people blockading an airport in Juliaca, killing six and injuring dozens of others. On the same day, a mining concession granted to Vancouver-based Bear Creek Mining was annulled by the Peruvian government. The English language press misconstrued the massacre as having been related directly to Bear Creek, when in fact protesters there were protesting other mining projects and a proposed mega-dam.

New York State senators approved a law allowing gay marriage, making it the sixth state in the U.S. where same sex marriage is legal. Rhode Island lawmakers passed a bill allowing gay couples civil unions, but not marriage.

The mayor of Halifax survived a council vote to suspend him, after a series of contracts to concert promoters were doled out in a manner that contravened the city's spending rules.

Satirical US organization Americans for Fairness in Awarding Journalism Prizes continued their campaign to have the Onion nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. "It is the number one news organization in the country. Unbiased reporting, hard-hitting, in-depth coverage, I could go on and on, but unfortunately most of the adjectives that could describe the Onion haven't been invented yet," Steven Forbeck, head of the AFAJP, told ABC News.

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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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