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June in Review

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Issue: 84 Section: Month in Review Geography: Canada

June 28, 2012

June in Review

Hundert sentenced, sex re-assignment surgery re-financed, hate-crime laws silenced, and reading makes you a better person

by The Dominion

On National Aboriginal day, numerous First Nation people took to the streets of Vancouver protesting the federal government’s cuts to youth programs. Photo: Luz Rozas

The province of Alberta has reinstated funding for sex reassignment surgery (SRS, also referred to as gender reassignment surgery) three years after cutting it from the provincial budget.

Ontario’s Bill 13, known as anti-bullying bill, was passed, insisting that Catholic School Board allow the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances in its schools.

Toby’s Act, Bill 33, was passed after a long wait in Ontario, which serves to amend the Human Rights Code to include gender identity and extend rights to trans- people.

Alex Hundert, an Indigenous solidarity activist and environmentalist who was arrested in Toronto at gunpoint, says the effect of the police repression during the G20 summit has been the radicalization of people with no previous interest in political radicalism. In June Hundert was sentenced to 13.5 months imprisonment. Photo: Legal Support Team

Toronto municipal funding for Pride is safe for one more year, despite worries that it would be pulled or lessened on account of controversies over the participation of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. The worry still stands for 2013 funding, as the mayor and other city officials have expressed discontent with the group.

Recent changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act removed sections about hate speech legislation online. The changes received little media attention and is causing concern, while being applauded by white supremacist groups.

Toronto was in the media spotlight after the shootings in its Eaton Centre on June 2, leaving 24-year-old Ahmed Hassan dead and six others wounded, including one 13-year-old. This tragic incident has also served to reinforce racist stereotypes and bring up issues or racial profiling particularly of youth of colour.

Alex Hundert was sentenced to 13.5 months in prison on charges related to his activism against the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010. "I would like to propose that we now strengthen those linkages by turning the massive capacity for support that we have developed over the past two years towards supporting front line land defenders from Six Nations," wrote in an open letter to his supporters.

A grassroots First Nations march took to the streets in Vancouver on National Aboriginal Day to protest federal funding cuts to youth programs. Two days earlier, a First Nations protest was held against cuts and austerity in Sudbury.

Thousands of First Nations, Metis and Inuit residential school survivors and others participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's fourth national event in Saskatoon.

Arrestees at two separate 'Casserole' Quebec solidarity protests in Vancouver said they were locked in a dark garage for an hour, intimidated and banned from downtown until August. One woman announced that she had to remove her bra and skirt and was subject to stares by all-male officers.

Protests against tuition fee increases and the Quebec government's Law 78 (meant to reign in the protests) continued in Quebec. Hundreds participated in a demonstration meant to disrupt the opening night of the Montreal Grand Prix, which protesters denounced as a spectacle of the ultra-rich, glamorising cars and promoting sexism. Montreal police were accusedof political profiling during the weekend-long event, with several reported cases of people being detained, searched and ejected from the city's subway system for wearing the red square, symbol of the strike.

Two journalists from French-language daily Le Devoir who went undercover wearing red squares reported that police told them that they were working for the Grand Prix that weekend.

A province-wide day of action organized by student groups on June 22 brought an estimated 15,000 to the streets of Quebec City and another 100,000 in Montreal. Pots and pans demonstrations have also continued in the province, and spread across the country and internationally, with over 160 cities participating.

The Superior Court of Quebec rejectedrequests to suspend both Law 78 as well as new municipal regulations in Montreal. Both impose new conditions on the ability to protest, including requiring protesters to provide their routes to police (in the case of Law 78, eight hours in advance). Superior Court Justice François Rolland said that while the cases could go forward, there was no irreparable damage caused by either regulation, and that they would therefore continued to be applied until a court rules against them.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield wrote in a June 14 letter that the newly amended Fisheries Act will now "provide flexibility and establish new tools to authorize deposits of deleterious substances." In short, polluters will now have more options to pollute.

Downstream from the Alberta tar sands, members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) found two deformed, lesion covered fish in Lake Athabasca near the community of Fort Chipewyan.

A counter-terror unit was created in Alberta "to protect tar sands" and other energy infrastructure. The Integrated National Security Enforcement Team will be led by RCMP and include officers from CSIS, CBSA, and Edmonton and Calgary police forces. "[In] our role of preventing these threats from occurring, it is important that intelligence is collected against the activities of groups before they become violent," said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud.

Environment Canada released a warning against the potential release of chromium 6, a priority substance regulated by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, as chromium mining appears set to get under way in Northern Ontario's "Ring of Fire", 500km north of Thunder Bay.

Six First Nations are preparing eviction notices for mining companies operating in the Ring of Fire region, in northwestern Ontario. If Canada and Ontario do not engage in government-to-government negotiations with the First Nations, all mining companies in the area will be given 30 days to leave.

On June 13, Yoli Oqueli, an activist organizing against Vancouver-based Radius Gold in Guatemala, was shot three times by gunmen on a motorcycle as she left a community blockade at the entrance to the Tambor mine. She is in stable condition, but a bullet remains lodged near her spine, between a kidney and a lung.

Repression continued against opponents of mining in Oaxaca, Mexico. Two activists were shot on June 16 by gunmen allegedly linked to the Municipal President of San José del Progreso and to Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver. Both are recovering from their wounds.

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was ousted in what he has called a parliamentary coup. Lugo has said that he will create an alternative government, calling his replacement illegitimate. Numerous Latin American countries have recalled their ambassadors.

Julian Assange arrived at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on June 19, seeking political asylum. Wanted for questioning in Sweden, where the Swedish prosecutor has noted he will be placed in prison upon arrival, Assange fears that from there he will be extradited and prosecuted in the U.S for his role in Wikileaks.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who in 2007 noted that it would be acceptable to kill 1,000,000 Palestinians in retribution, has been appointed to head a supervisory committee for Magen David Adom, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Reading books equals good behaviour, as inmates in some of Brazil's most notorious prisons will be able to shave up to 48 days off of each year of their sentences.

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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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