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July in Review, Part II

Issue: 78 Section: Month in Review

August 1, 2011

July in Review, Part II

Cops Watched, Extractives Ejected, Pride Re-Claimed

by Dominion contributors

A march, not a parade: Haligonians came together in July for the city's first-ever Dyke & Trans March. Photo: Miles Howe

In her speech to open the Winnipeg International Copwatching Conference, Indigenous leader Leslie Spillett critiqued the idea that police misconduct in cases dealing with First Nations is the result of 'a few bad apples,' and noted that a "culture of oppression" plaguing police since colonial times has caused a disproportionate use of lethal force against indigenous peoples.

The Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC withdrew from the province's Missing Women inquiry, due to an inability to cover the associated legal fees. The commission is set to investigate police failings in apprehending serial killer William Pickton. Commission head Wally Oppal has called on the provincial government to provide additional funding to cover the legal costs of several Native and women's groups in order to allow them to participate. The province has steadfastly refused to allocate the funding, which Oppal estimates at less than $2 million.

Video footage of Ottawa police treatment of Roxanne Carr was released at the behest of a number of media outlets. The video is evidence in a suit by Carr against Ottawa police for $975,000 and shows police pushing her to the floor, tying her up and leaving her in her cell after stripping her naked. Carr claims to have been left naked and suffered injuries, including a broken arm.

Two Montreal activist groups filed complaints with the Quebec Human Rights Commission against a police unit they say discriminates against their political beliefs. The GAMMA squad, which roughly translates to "surveilling the activities of marginal and anarchist groups," took credit for arresting four members of these groups in July, on charges related to altercations with police at an anti-capitalist May Day march.

Newly released documents revealed the RCMP spied on reknowned Canadian literary scholar Northrop Frye in the 1970s, particularly due to his criticism of Canada's complicity in the Vietnam War and participation in a teach-in about China at the University of Toronto.

The new logo of the Winnipeg Jets was inspired by the Royal Canadian Airforce. Critics say it represents a creeping militarism in Canada. Photo: NHL

A new study found that the cost of the federal prison system has increased 86 per cent under the Conservative government, rising from $1.6 billion in 2005-06 to a projected $2.98 billion in 2012. The rise is attributed to the Conservatives new "Truth in Sentencing" policy and other tough on crime measures, which put more people in jail for longer terms, increasing costs for everything from inmate living conditions to more prison guards.

New federal crime legislation is poised to increase the number of incarcerated youth across the country. Canada already locks up more convicted youth than almost any similarly industrialized country.

Health care workers, legal workers and police denounced the lack of mental health facilities in Ontario. The calls came after a woman who was arrested on minor charges and found unfit to stand trial due to mental health problems was locked up for two weeks, rather than receiving the psychiatric care ordered by the courts.

The new logo of the Winnipeg Jets hockey team was criticised for conflating sport and and militarism. Defense Minister Peter McKay loves the new logo and the teams new owners have announced they will be donating $1 million to military linked charities.

US environmental activist Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison for his disruption of a 2008 auction-off of lands in Utah to oil and gas companies.

Mining company Cartier Resources suspended all mining exploration on the territory of the Algoquin of Barriere Lake, in Quebec. Community member have campaigned against the company's activities, including a visit to the company's annual general meeting and an occupation of the company's proposed drilling site. The company had not sought 'free, prior and informed consent' before operating on their land. Cartier's mineral claims in the area are suspended until summer 2013, as per the company's request.

Fears of water contamination in Yellowknife increased, as a sink hole near a former gold mine continued to grow in size. Environmental officials were worried that water from Baker Creek, which flows into Great Slave Lake, could end up in nearby underground chambers. The chambers contain arsenic, a by-product of gold-mining left behind after the closing of the mine.

Barrick Gold, the Toronto-based mining company, was accused by Greenpeace of causing three small glaciers to lose nearly half their ice cover, due to the firm's operation of gold and silver mines on the border between Argentina and Chile. The region is populated by towns which rely on the glaciers as their only source of potable water.

The National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems revealed 1,800 reserve homes are without water or sewage service and nearly 40 per cent of all water systems on native reserves pose high levels of risk. The study looked at water systems in 97 per cent of First Nation communities in Canada.

Queer women, trans people, and their allies, gathered in Halifax for the first annual Dyke and Trans March, which took place a day before the city's Pride Parade. "There's no political analysis in Pride," said Shay, one of the march's organizers. "Pride primarily gives space and represents very white, middle class, cis, gay male representations of queer sexuality, and I think a lot of people get left out of that."

A loose band of internet hackers ramped up attacks this month. LulzSec claims to have gotten its hands on a cache of emails from embattled news organization News Corp. Anonymous says it has obtained a gigabyte in secret info from NATO. They also got confidential documents from Italy. Police moved in, however, and arrested the alleged founder of LulzSec. It was also revealed that PayPal is helping the FBI catch the hackers, resulting in a call to boycott the online payment service.

A new poll found Toronto residents overwhelmingly opposed to Mayor Rob Ford's plans to either close or privatize Toronto's libraries. Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood entered the fray via Twitter, lambasting the mayor's decision. The mayor's brother, Doug Ford, stated he hadn't heard of the celebrated author.

Hundreds of people turned out at Toronto City Hall for the city's longest council session ever, which lasted more than 22 hours. Over 300 people signed up as to speak; all but three criticized Rob Ford's plans to cut social services in the city.

The federal government cut funding to the Montreal-based Wapikoni Mobile film school, which brought film production training and equipment to remote Indigenous communities across Quebec.

A town hall meeting that took place where Africville—a Black Nova Scotian community which was destroyed in the 1960s—once stood drew attention to the international economic crisis and its effects on peoples of African descent in Nova Scotia and internationally. "We (the Diaspora) have received an invitation to be a part of the African Union, a central body that represents all except one of the 54 nations of Africa," said Dr. David L. Horne, international facilitator of the Sixth Regional Dispora Conference and a keynote speaker at the Town Hall.

Quebec saw the largest influx of migrant farm workers to the province ever: around 7,000, mostly from Mexico, Guatemala and the West Indies. Their work is often hazardous, involving exposure to extreme heat, pesticides, risk of repetitive strain from picking crops. Minimum wage for migrant workers in Quebec is $9.65 per hour.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that 1,800 new Canadians will have their citizenship revoked. Only 63 Canadians have had their citizenship revoked since 1977. Thirty of those who lost their citizenship are being sought in connections with "war crimes," yet none of the three dozen on the "most wanted" list have been charged in connection with any crimes.

Bureaucrats in Ottawa prevented fisheries scientist Kristi Miller from talking about her new discovery which could help explain why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada's West Coast. Her finding has been called one of the most significant discoveries to come out of a federal fisheries lab in years.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Indigenous people in Alberta cannot be simultaneously registered under the provincial Metis Settlements Act and the federal Indian Act, following a family's complaint that the restriction violated the Charter rights of freedom of association and freedom of liberty. Individuals who fall into both categories must now choose between the benefits of their ancestry.

A new analysis of Afghan detainee documents confirmed that a lack of communication, ineptitude and diplomatic secrecy at the highest levels of Canadian government played a role in prisoners being tortured after transfer to Afghan custody.

Jack Layton revealed he has a new form of cancer and stepped down as leader of the New Democratic Party. In response to Layton's recommendation, the NDP caucus has appointed former labour leader Nycole Turmel as interim party leader.

US President Barack Obama formally ended the ban on gays in the military. As of September 20, service members will be allowed to be open about their sexual orientation. Those previously discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy will have the opportunity to enlist again.

Alykhan Velshi, former communications director for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, launched an Ethical Oil ad campaign contrasting the "cruel crude" from conflict areas (mostly the Middle East) and "dictatorships" that fuel "terrorism" and even result in "women [being] stoned to death," with the Canadian oil that generates taxable revenues that are used to help fund "democracy."

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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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