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July in Review, Part I

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Issue: 78 Section: Month in Review Geography: Canada, Earth

July 15, 2011

July in Review, Part I

Canada not disarming, Israel not boycotting, prisoners not eating, ships not sailing (nor flying)

by Dominion contributors

In a one-two blow to progressive groups on campus, Simon Fraser University's student governance groups locked out 20 staff after two years of negotiations, and recommended terminating the lease of the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group's space. Photo: Murray Bush/flux photo

St. Mary's Bay residents and wild salmon groups filed an appeal to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to oppose the creation of one of the province’s largest fish farms. St. Mary's Bay, one of the richest lobster fishing grounds in the world, is being considered by Parks Canada as part of a new national marine conservation area. Salmon farms in Nova Scotia are drawing ire from wild salmon associations and lobster fishermen, as salmon farms produce toxins and disease that threaten the wild runs and lobster nurseries.

BC's Provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure set plans to demolish the Glenrose Cannery as part of the Gateway freeway expansion program. The cannery, a historic property, was built in 1896. The provincial government originally claimed that no heritage properties would be affected by the development.

Six environmental activists in Montana occupied the office of the state governor while about 100 others protested inside the Capitol building. The action was taken to oppose the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would bring tar sands oil from northern Alberta through the state, as well as the large shipments of heavy machinery being shipped to Alberta, known as "megaloads." Five protesters were arrested. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has been vocal in his support for the pipeline.

Residents of Durham, NB, tore up stakes marking areas set for shale gas exploration, saying they have not been consulted by companies or government. "We want to slow them down, we want to stop them. We don't want them here," one person told GlobalTV. SWN Resources, the exploration company, has been opposed by Maliseet and Mi'kmaq people, who also cite lack of consultation.

French senators voted 176 to 151 to ban the controversial process to extract natural gas from shale known as fracking, making France the first country to do so.

A prominent Honduran environmental activist was arrested along with two others for his participation in an action that blocked loggers from accessing a watershed near the municipality of El Porvenir in his home country. The watershed is owned by a group with ties to Canadian mining company Goldcorp, and it is widely speculated that the logging of the land is a preliminary step towards Goldcorp gaining permission to mine in the area.

Roger LeBlanc, a former worker at the Brunswick Mine in Bathurst, NB, appeared in court to continue what is being called a groundbreaking workplace health and safety case. Leblanc is seeking compensation from WorkSafeNB for the heavy metal poisoning treatments he has undergone since 2006, which he says came about from unsafe working conditions at the Brunswick mine.

Ten thousand Koreans marched to Hanjin Heavy Industries shipyard in the Philippines to protest the mass-dismissal of members of the Korean Metal Worker Federation, which has been demanding safer working conditions at the Hanjin Shipyard. Five thousand accidents were reported in the yard's first year of operations and 31 work-related deaths have occurred. Police responded to the protesters with tear gas and water canons. Fifty unionists were arrested and released. One worker at the shipyard has been protesting from a crane since January.

The Simon Fraser University Student Union locked out 20 of its employees, all members of CUPE Local 3338, ending two years of pay negotiations. The next day, the Simon Fraser Student Spacing (SFSS) Committee issued a surprise termination of Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group's lease. Supporters of the locked-out staff and organizations rallied at the university. A poster by the SFSS student board claims that $748,911 paid out to SFSS staff is inflated compared to the $115,908 transferred to clubs and student union funding. Last year, the SFSS spent $831,000 renovating a campus pub.

National Football League (NFL) union legend John Mackey died of frontotemporal dementia. NFL football players, whose average careers last three-and-a-half years and who live an average of twenty years less than the average American male, were locked out of their current season by NFL owners over issues including post-career health benefits.

Canadian civil society expressed outrage over Environment Canada’s proposed budget cuts that will eliminate more than 1,200 full-time positions over the next three years. The main focus of the cuts are climate change and clean air programs.

California prison officials agreed to negotiate with inmates at Pelican Bay Prison as hundreds of prisoners entered the third week of a hunger strike. Thousands of prisoners across at least 13 other California prisons joined the strike. Prisoners were protesting the slow implementation of correctional reforms, including the elimination of long-term solitary confinement.

Solidarity protests across North America included actions in Montreal, where demonstrators gathered twice outside the US consulate and anti-prison activists sent an open letter to California officials in support of the prison strikers' demands. Actions were also held in Toronto, Kingston, Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas.

Halifax mayor Peter Kelly was accused of bribing high profile concert promoters: since 2008 the mayor signed a series of contracts that advanced promoters amounts exceeding $300,000. Kelly has refused several requests to resign since the scandal emerged.

Charity workers across Canada receive upwards of six-figure salaries, according to an analysis of Canada Revenue Agency tax filings by The Canadian Press. As organizations are only required to report the wages of their top ten earners, even more donations may be going into workers' bank accounts.

Fifty to sixty Quebec families remained homeless after the province's July 1 moving day, reported the Front d'action populaire en reamenagement urbain. The housing rights group denounced higher rent, a lack of social and affordable housing and insufficient provincial aid strategies.

Social justice organization Kairos led a news conference calling on the Conservative government to act on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada has endorsed with qualifications but has not yet implemented.

Eight hundred women marched on Parliament to draw attention to the high number of murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo called for the abolishment of the Aboriginal Affairs department and Indian Act, replacing them with a new agreement between First Nations and the Crown that would create a new way to deliver services to Indigenous peoples. Atleo also suggested the AFN may try to develop alternative funding sources in order to break its financial dependence on the federal government, which he says has prevented the organization from fully advocating for the rights of First Nations.

Three thousand Canadian soldiers packed up and prepared to leave Afghanistan, as Canada's $11 billion combat mission in the country draws to a close, almost a decade after it began. Nearly 1,000 soldiers will remain in the country to conduct training, though. The departure comes amid questions surrounding the government's handling of detainees captured by the Canadian Forces.

Canada jumped from fifteenth to twelfth largest exporter of military hardware in the world. The country exports to several governments engaged in human rights violations, like the Philippines, Israel, Saudi Arabia, China, Libya and Tunisia.

The military geared up for 1,000-personnel show of force in the Arctic.

The Canadian military secured a new base in Kuwait.

Canada announced it would boycott the United Nations Conference on Disarmament because North Korea has taken on the rotating presidency of the conference, a move critics called "grandstanding" that would have no measurable effect on negotiations. No other countries followed Canada's example.

Canada opposed Palestinian efforts to be recognized as an independent state at the United Nations. Palestinians are reported to have the support of 100 countries, but will need two-thirds support in the assembly before the matter is considered by the Security Council.

The Canadian Boat to Gaza, the Tahrir, made a break for the open waters after Greek authorities were pressured to detain any ships bound for Gaza from leaving their ports. Stopping a foreign-flagged ship from sailing for reasons other than seaworthiness is a violation of international law. Photo: Miles Howe

Boats in the Freedom Flotilla II were sabotaged, threatened and falsely accused of homophobia and planning to kill Israeli soldiers. The mission was grounded in Greece at the bequest of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. After one last-ditch, failed attempt by the Tahrir, the Canadian boat, to escape Greek authorities by using kayaks as deterrents, many of those hoping to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza returned to Canada. Some Canadians decided to continue to Gaza by land.

In Canada, supporters of the flotilla protested Greece's illegal prevention of the Tahrir from leaving Greek port.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry provided airlines heading to Israel with lists of people they were not to allow on planes in order to stymy what activists were calling a "fly-in." Hundreds were denied entry to Israel, interrogated and jailed. Four people listed were finally allowed entry to Palestine.

Israeli warships that had been firing water cannons on fishing boats two miles off the coast of Gaza fired on the Olivia, a Civil Peace Service Gaza boat which monitors human rights violations in Palestinian waters. Israel claims to allow fishing boats to work within three miles off the coast of Gaza.

The Israeli parliament passed a law allowing any individual or institution claiming that it could be damaged by calls for boycotts to sue for compensation, in effect banning citizens from calling for academic, consumer or cultural boycotts of Israel.

Some tax payers were not happy about paying for Will and Kate's royal honeymoon. Heritage Canada spent over $1.2 million in preparation for the nine-day visit of the Duke and Dutchesse of Cambridge. Meanwhile, it pulled the plug on funding to independent theatre festival SummerWorks.

The first Purple Thistle Institute, an educational experiment where manual labour and intellectual labour are equally valued, was launched in Vancouver.

The first Halifax Queer and Rebel Days offered an anti-capitalist alternative to July's Pride parade. Built on community-building, education and empowerment—not partying—the celebrations were further justified by comments by the co-chair of the Halifax Pride Festival. Dan Savage, the long-time organizer, said that he strives to make the Halifax parade "less promiscuous" than others. The Halifax queer community's outrage prompted the festival's board to apologize.

CTV’s Quebec City bureau chief quit his job due to dissatisfaction with TV news in Canada. In an open letter he outlined his reasoning behind the move and went on to describe the kind of news Canadian mainstream media should be covering, but isn't.

Eska Water announced it was pulling an ad campaign after First Nations groups called for a boycott of Eska Water, one of Montreal Pride Week's official sponsors. The ads depicted stereotypical images of Native people protecting the purity of water with spears. Indigenous people say the ad campaign reinforces the stereotype that Natives use violence to resolve conflict, while their ancestors were in fact peacemakers. Eska's water is piped from Algonquin territory. One-hundred-eighteen First Nations communities are under a drinking water advisory.

An audit of forestry practices in North-West Ontario's Whiskey Jack Forest confirmed what Native groups in the region have been saying for years: industry is not conforming to the laws around lumber extraction. In an effort to halt the destruction, the Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation (Grassy Narrows) has been engaged in the longest running road blockade in Canadian history.

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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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