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August in Review

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Issue: 85 Section: Month in Review Geography: Canada

August 31, 2012

August in Review

An epic paddle, grocery protests, Baird quiet on Pussy Riot, and don't drink and drive (your picnic table)

by Dominion contributors

Over 150 people participated in an action camp in Wet'suwet'en territory, where the Unis'tot'en clan has set up a protection camp to block the construction of oil and gas pipelines through their unceded lands in northern BC. Photo: Franklin Lopez

Over 150 people participated in a third annual action camp against oil and gas pipelines in northern BC. The Unis'tot'en, a clan of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, and the grassroots Lhe Lin Liyin have built a protection camp to block the Pacific Trails Pipeline, a natural gas transport project planned along a route parallel to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

A pipeline spill sent nearly three hundred thousand litres of contaminated water from the tar sands extraction process into a canola field east of Red Deer, Alberta. The pipeline is owned by Penn West Exploration. Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board refers to the liquid as "produced water."

On August 24th, a team of paddlers from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) Indigenous Nation began to paddle an ancient trade route from KI village to Hudson's Bay. Their journey brings attention to the KI struggle for the government of Ontario to recognize their right to protect their entire 13,025km watershed from mining activity.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially announced the establishment of the Naats'ihch'oh National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. Mining industry interests in the area played a role in determining the boundaries and size of the 4,850 square kilometre park, which includes less of the upper watershed of the South Nahanni River than was envisioned in other proposals.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid held an information picket outside the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, calling the Israeli film Invisible Men an example of pinkwashing. Photo: Murray Bush - Flux Photo

The town of Florence, AZ continues to battle against Vancouver-based Curtis Resources Ltd. and its proposed copper mining ventures. Having already denied zoning and permit requests, town councillors recently voted to criminalize the mining process planned for the Florence Copper Project.

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court decision has granted PetroWorth Resources a one year extension in exploratory oil well drilling on the shores of Lake Ainslie, in Cape Breton. Despite the presence of a brook near the exploratory well site—a situation that should halt exploration under the provincial Environmental Act—Judge MacAdam determined that the environment minister has discretion in interpreting the Act.

Some 3,000 projects will no longer be subject to a federal environmental assessment, due to revisions to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The federal government argues that the so-called low-risk projects are still subject to federal and provincial regulations and pose little to no risk to the environment. "That's bullshit, really," said retired federal fisheries official Otto Langer. "It's death by a thousand cuts. All these little projects are destroying habitat and Ottawa is ignoring that."

Canada's proposal to accept genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in imported foods up to one tenth of one per cent in any test batch—a "redefinition of zero"— was met with concerns from various sectors, according to internal records obtained by Postmedia News.

Nunavut residents hit the streets in communities throughout the territory once again to protest the high cost of food in the north. Stephen Harper spent a week up north on his annual trip, but did not deal with what many see as one of the most pressing current issues.

Three quarters of this year's HIV/AIDS NGO funding applications were turned down by Health Canada on the basis of it being unclear whether or not the resources might be used for advocacy work. "It creates a chill for civil society organizations, basically to steer clear of anything that might be controversial or that might in some way put you offside with government policy directions because your funding may be at risk if you raise those concerns," said Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network executive director Richard Elliott.

Toronto surgeon Dr. David Wong operated on Colombian refugee Daniel Garcia Rodriguez despite the termination of interim federal health coverage for refugees. Garcia Rodriguez suffered from chronic retinal detachment and would have likely gone blind without the surgery. "Our allegiance is to the patient," said Wong.

The Canadian government denied visas to 35 Haitian women who were going to participate in an art exhibit organized by Women for Action in Haiti. The Montreal event was cancelled. Canada also refused visas for the Moroccan national beach soccer team slated to participate in the Beach Soccer Montreal tournament.

An internal Canada Border Services Agency report addressing Roma refugee applicants from Europe was obtained by The Canadian Press. "Other deterrent measures being examined include detention for mass arrivals of individuals seeking refugee protection," says the report.

In France, police evicted hundreds of Roma from their homes and camps in a series of raids around the country. United Nations officials criticized the forced eviction and expulsion of Roma migrant communities from France, noting that collective expulsion contravenes international law.

Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for their anti-Putin punk prayer action in a Moscow cathedral. Solidarity demonstrations took place in Toronto, Ottawa and around the world. While UK, US and other officials were quick to condemn the sentences as disproportionate, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird offered only vague comments on the sentencing: "Obviously, there's, I think, widespread concern that this was perhaps too much and that were perhaps political considerations. We support around the world independent judiciaries, and we certainly take note of what's happened."

The membership of the United Church of Canada approved a comprehensive policy on Israel/Palestine, including a boycott of products produced in Israeli settlements.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid held an information picket outside the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. The group said the Israeli film Invisible Men is an example of pinkwashing, an attempt to portray Israel as an inclusive liberal state to obscure the illegal occupation and settlement of Palestinian lands.

A vigil was held in Montreal on the fourth anniversary of Fredy Villanueva's fatal shooting by police. "Jean-Loup Lapointe, the guy that shot [Villanueva] and two other friends, never expressed any remorse, has a bad reputation in Montréal-Nord and still patrols to this day," MC Emrical, who made a film about Villanueva, told Art Threat.

The resident-led Clean Train Coalition announced that it will take Metrolinx to court again regarding its use of diesel trains along the Georgetown GO rail corridor in the Greater Toronto Area.

A different kind of transportation initiative took off in London, Ontario. A group of friends attached a lawnmower motor and custom wheels to a picnic table and drove around on city streets. One man was later charged by police for having an open container of alcohol in public. The picnic table was parked at the time of police intervention.

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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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