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July in Review

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Issue: 84 Section: Month in Review Geography: Canada

August 1, 2012

July in Review

Refugee justice, prison news, neighbourhood action and 2,000 pounds of honey leaking from the ceiling

by Dominion contributors

On July 18, Danzig street and Morningside community residents held a solidarity march to take back the streets following a fatal shooting in Scarborough, pledging to work together for a safer community. Photo: NDP MP Craig Scott

After a fatal shooting in Scarborough, Danzig Street and Morningside community residents held a solidarity march on July 18 to take back the streets, pledging to work together to make the community safer.

The Health Justice Collective, together with allies like No One is Illegal and Health for All, launched a national non-cooperation campaign, urging health care professionals to declare their commitment to continue to treat refugee patients now ineligible for coverage after recent cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney showed that he can't take a good grilling. Armed with only a video camera and a list of questions, 17-year-old Bashir Mohamed was arrested for interrupting Kenney's speech at a BBQ with questions about cuts to refugee healthcare. "The most I could say is, 'Minister Kenney, my name is Bashir and I'm a refugee,'" he told the CBC, after his release without charges. Mohamed wasn't the only person to confront Kenney about the cuts. Toronto family physician Dr. Sheila Wijayasinghe questioned the Minister about the cuts at a Chamber of Commerce event in Leduc, Alberta.

Vancouver lawyer Peter Edelmann challenged the constitutionality of the "human smuggling" charges, representing Tamil individuals facing trial for their undocumented arrivals to the west coast in 2009 and 2010. Section 117 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act criminalizes any assistance for the entry of undocumented people into Canada, a description so vague Edelmann argues it can apply to most refugees.

In Ottawa, Centretown residents rallied to disrupt a launch party hosted by condominium developers attempting to rebrand the neighbourhood "South Central" following a recent and rapid increase in condo construction. Photo: Andy Crosby

Toronto-based Bird Construction Inc. was awarded a $38.5 million contract to build a new prison in Priestville, Nova Scotia. The contract is for one of many new jails expected in the wake of Bill C-10, the Omnibus Crime Bill. Construction company trustee Paul Bird is an Enbridge executive with a laundry list of corporate and government connections.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews "may consider" private partnerships for limited prison services, as a result of budget cuts to Corrections Services Canada.

The federal government cut 20 per cent of youth justice program funding, which is transferred to the provinces and territories for the supervision and rehabilitation of young offenders. Although not explicitly announced or documented, the cuts represent over half of the $60 million slashed from the Justice Department in the federal budget.

Ontario-based anarchist, writer and community organizer Kelly Pflug-Back was sentenced to 15 months in prison stemming from resistance to the G-20 in Toronto in 2010.

G20 prisoner Alex Hundert continued his activism behind bars. When an open letter he wrote about the denial of reading materials in the Toronto East Detention Centre was picked up as a mainstream media story, the John Howard Society committed to finding a volunteer librarian.

Julian Fantino was appointed Minister of International Co-operation. Before overseeing repression during the G-20, the former head of the Ontario Provincial Police achieved notoriety for his threats to Tyendinaga Mohawk spokesperson Shawn Brant, recorded via illegal wiretaps of phone conversations during blockade actions in 2007.

Relying on footage from a mystery CCTV camera that it will not make public, Ontario's Special Investigative Unit cleared Toronto Police Constable Rhoel Ong of misconduct in the arrest of Angela Turvey. Despite Youtube footage to the contrary, the SIU's report says that the CCTV footage shows Turvey "swinging her arms twice" at officers, thus perhaps justifying the broken nose and lacerations that Turvey suffered after Ong tackled her.

The RCMP announced that they are considering using a fleet of unmanned helicopters to help "probe crimes and assist with search and rescue." The cops claim the aircraft will not be used for general surveillance of people.

In Ottawa, Centretown residents disrupted a launch party hosted by condominium developers. A fire alarm was pulled, a developer was glitter-bombed, and promotional materials were liberated during the protest organized by anti-poverty group Under Pressure.

Residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside gathered at the demolition site of the Pantages Theater to denounce the city's inaction on its promise to deal with the rats and rubble. Neighbourhood groups are demanding the property be used for 100 per cent social housing for low-income neighbourhood residents.

A community memorial was held in Toronto to celebrate and remember Kyle Scanlon, a longtime trans activist, researcher and front-line community worker.

Seventeen magazine committed to not alter the body size of the girls and models in the magazine after the executive editor was presented with 84,000 signatures supporting 8th grade student Julia Bluhm's campaign, which calls on the publication to feature one photoshop-free image per issue.

During the 19th International AIDS Conference, more than 1,000 sex workers, drug users and activists marched to the White House, demanding the decriminalization of drug use and sex work.

A rally against the halt of federal funding to Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth was held in Halifax, where the termination of the Mi'kmaq Native Friendship Centre's Kitpu youth program sparked a national day of action.

Around 200 people rallied in Montreal against unsanctioned logging on unceded Algonquin land.

Hundreds of scientists and supporters wearing white lab coats and dressed in black participated in a mock funeral on Parliament Hill to mourn the "death of evidence." Federal cuts to science research and legislative changes has resulted in the muzzling of scientists.

Fierce opposition to mining continues in the "Ring of Fire" in northern Ontario. First Nations have issued a moratorium, begun a legal challenge and recently received the support of the Assembly of First Nations to proceed with eviction notices to mining companies in the region.

A local state of emergency was declared in BC's Central Kootenay Regional District when flooding caused "toxic seepage" from an abandoned mine pit.

In Peru, a state of emergency was declared in relation to protests against Newmont's proposed Conga mine in Cajamarca. An estimated five protesters were killed and dozens injured by security forces in government crackdowns over the past two months.

After a series of actions and rising tensions, the Government of Bolivia announced the nationalization of a mining project owned by Vancouver-based South American Silver Corporation.

Canada signed a trade pact for increased uranium exports to China. Saskatchewan-based Cameco Corporation's top boss Tim Gitzel stated the obvious: "The ability to export Canadian-sourced uranium to China is incredibly important to our company."

A couple in Varney, Ontario may soon have the ability to export honey from their home. After honey started leaking from the ceiling, a beekeeper was called in to assess the situation, estimating there to be two colonies of 180,000 honey bees, a nest of yellow jacket wasps and some 2,000 pounds of honey between the two floors of the house.

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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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