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May in Review

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Issue: 83 Section: Month in Review

June 1, 2012

May in Review

Red square uprising in Quebec, RCMP impunity, Fukushima a ticking time bomb

by Dominion contributors

One of many "pot and pan" protests in Montreal. May 26, 2012. Photo: ScottMontreal

Negotiations between Quebec student representatives and the provincial government resumed at the end of May, following a tumultuous month featuring a chaotic protest at the provincial Liberal convention in Victoriaville (resulting in over a hundred arrests and at least three protesters and a police officer being seriously injured), and the resignation of the provincial education minister. There have been 33 consecutive night demonstrations in Montreal, ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 people protesting the passage of controversial Law 78, as well as a gigantic march of between 300,000 and 400,000 in Montreal on May 22. Montreal has also been the epicenter for rapid spreading “pot and pan" demonstrations, which have taken off across the province and the rest of Canada.

The Liberal government passed Law 78 to try and quell student protests against tuition fee increases, instead pushing protests to new heights. The emergency law suspended semesters at striking schools until August, and established fines of between $1,000 and $125,000 for protesting within 50 metres of any campus or participating in a protest without submitting details to police for approval at least eight hours in advance. Criticism of the law has been widespread, from the Quebec League for Rights and Freedoms to the provincial bar association. Student federations and unions, backed by nearly 200,000 people, filed a court challenge to have the law thrown out. Montreal city council also passed a by-law requring protesters to submit their route to police in advance and banning protesting with faces covered. The combined use of both law 78 and the municipal by-laws led to 650 people being arrested in one night across the province; 500 in Montreal alone - one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director released a report reviewing police actions during the G20 summit there almost two years ago. The watchdog group said police referred to protesters as terrorists and used excessive force. There is unlikely to be reprimands against police known to be involved in abuses.

Instead of being dismissed or punished, RCMP seargent Don Ray, who admitted to sexually abusing a colleague among other offenses while on duty in Edmonton, was docked two weeks pay and transferred from Alberta to BC. Krista Carle, who served for 20 years in the RCMP, had this advice for women considering joining the Mounties: “You know what I would tell female officers or female recruits? I would quote Catherine Galliford: Run like your hair is on fire."

Byron Sonne was cleared of all charges in a packed Toronto courtroom after having spent 330 days in jail. The crown failed to build a convincing case against Sonne, who was picked up and targeted as the state’s primary security threat during the G-20. “It’s more important than ever that we fight against the slippery slope of what’s being done with our rights, against our ability to participate how we see fit," he said after his release.

People in Vancouver attend a rally at M.P. Wai Young's office to protest Bill C-31. Photo: Alejo

Gatherings were held in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver to protest against Bill C-31, dubbed the Refugee Exclusion Act. “This Act is racist. It creates a two-tier system of refugee protection, increases incarceration, denies and revokes legal status, and violently targets and expels refugees and migrants from Canada," reads a statement by No One Is Illegal.

Thousands of protesters, including nurses and climate activists, showed up for a protest against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Chicago. Before protests got underway, police broke down the door of an apartment and raided activists without a warrant. Over the weekend at least 45 people were arrested. Protests also took place at Boeing headquarters, the aerospace company being a major war profiteer. “There’s absolutely nothing that could happen in the streets at a protest that holds a candle to the death and destruction caused by Nato to families and communities all around the world," Rachel Perrotta of Occupy Chicago told Reuters.

On Memorial Day, almost fifty United States veterans from campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan symbolically threw their medals in the direction of the NATO conference. “I want to tell the folks behind us, in these enclosed walls, where they build more policies based on lies and fear, that we no longer stand for them," said Marine Corps veteran Iris Feliciano, just prior to tossing her medals. “We no longer stand for their lies, their failed policies and these unjust wars. Bring our troops home and end the war now. They can have these back."

Just before the Chicago summit, Nato head Anders Fogh Rasmussen suggested Canada should keep troops in Afghanistan until after 2014. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the federal government remains open to the idea.
The Canadian Army honoured a U.S. Batallion based out of Fort Bragg, Texas, marking the first time a U.S. unit has received official military honours in Canada. The two groups tag teamed the occupation of Afghanistan, fighting side-by-side in 2006.

Uniformed U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officers took part in a shoot-out from a helicopter in the Mosquitia region of Honduras, killing four Indigenous people.

Protests against Newmont’s proposed Conga mine in Peru took centre stage at a mining conference in Lima. In Toronto, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network held a weekend event bringing together anti-mining activists from Canada and around the world.

In Japan, the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima site were monitored by engineers concerned that one earthquake in the region could unleash a nuclear disaster more severe than anything yet experienced on earth. One engineer spoke to CTV, saying “Japan is sitting on a ticking time bomb."

A series of a dozen paintings by Toronto artist George McIntyre celebrating the city’s gay history were displayed at the 519 Community Centre.

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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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