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December 1, 2008 Weblog:

Conservatives in a "Message Box"

For those, not up to speed in politico-speak, a "message box" is a carefully crafted set of talking points which political parties and others use to get a specific message out in the media.

While the Canadian press found out in March "that the Conservatives Party was scripting call-in responses for supporters to read out on the air," the Globe and Mail has learned through a leaked e-mail that Conservatives are doing it again.

November 29, 2008 Business

While Mineral Resources Boomed, Canada Partied

...and lost manufacturing jobs, narrowed economic base

November 27, 2008 Media Analysis

Media Avoids the Dirt

Mining companies get an easy ride in Canadian press

November 26, 2008 Weblog:

Real News Network: Resistance to the 2010 Games

The Real News Network has a new piece up about resistance to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

November 23, 2008 Literature & Ideas

Copper Ore, Silver Screen

Under Rich Earth

November 19, 2008 Business

Small Flags in the Ground

Gold mining in Suriname's tribal communities

November 11, 2008 Business

Shredding Social Fabric

Company promoters "contaminate" communities in El Salvador

November 5, 2008 Business

Waste Not, Want Not

One company's fight against Newfoundlanders & Kanaks

November 2, 2008 Labour

Working to Death

Canada's asbestos legacy

October 26, 2008 Opinion

What Wente Wrote was Really Dumb – and also Racist

Globe and Mail columnist stepped over the line

October 22, 2008 Weblog:

Media Democracy Day

There's lots of organizing around Media Democracy Day these days. Things are looking particularly hoppin' in Vancouver, where an long list of speakers and sponsors have been signed up.

October 21, 2008 Environment

OREphaned Mines

The dirty and dangerous legacy of abandoned mines

October 15, 2008 Weblog:

Morning After Talking Points

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CKUT's Wednesday Morning After invited me to come and talk about the elections bright and early this morning. Voici mes talking points, albeit in more articulate form, not that I got to all of them:

  • Proportional representation is on a lot of people's minds, but it's not going to happen. If it can't be passed at a provincial level (so far, BC, PEI and Ontario have voted no) then it won't happen nationally, as neither the Libs or Cons will be likely to support it (this is an interesting footnote, though).
  • If that's true, the Green Party has to do some thinking at this point. A spot in the debates, more media coverage than ever, no seats.
  • No matter who people vote for, indications are that we're not going to see anything even beginning to address colonial policies in Canada.

» continue reading "Morning After Talking Points"

October 12, 2008 Weblog:

The Anti-Terrorist Battle Inside Canada's Borders

The anti-terrorist battle inside Canada's borders
by David Parker
July 17th, 2008.

HALIFAX - In Canada since 9/11, the domestic climate of rising national security fears, fanned by a sensationalist media trumpeting the “War on Terror”, has led the government to justify practices which undermine long-standing principles of human rights.

In December 2001, Canada passed the Anti-Terrorist Act (ATA) to deal with threats to national security. The ATA makes changes to the criminal code that “aim to disable and dismantle the activities of terrorist groups and those who support them”. It destroys civil liberties and gives police vast new powers, eroding due process and privacy. [1]

According to Gary Kinsman, professor at Laurentian University, the concept of ‘national security’ is doubly problematic. Nation refers here to groups who fit the image of the Canadian state - white heterosexual males, construed as ‘safe’, while racialized communities are excluded as ‘outsiders’ and enemies of the state. [2] Despite purported concern with security, state initiatives have only endangered non-citizens and criminalized legitimate social protest.

The arrest of 21 South Asian Muslim men for allegedly plotting to blow up a nuclear reactor in 2003 (known as Project Thread) garnered wide media attention. All were eventually deported on minor immigration charges, not one was charged with a terrorist offence [3]. They were detained up to 5 months, interrogated about their faith and threatened with deportation to Guantanamo Bay, infamous torture camp of the United States, where Omar Khadr, youngest detainee and Canadian citizen, remains after 6 years, subjected to torture methods detailed in leaked FBI files [4].

» continue reading "The Anti-Terrorist Battle Inside Canada's Borders"

October 12, 2008 Weblog:

Criminalizing Indigenous Rights in Canada

Criminalizing Indigenous Rights in Canada
David Parker
September 8th, 2008.

HALIFAX - In September of 2007, the United Nations adopted the non-binding Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Four high profile countries notably voted against the declaration - namely Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.[1] All four countries are states that were established by white settlers on indigenous lands, and all four are currently in disputes with indigenous peoples over land and sovereignty.

The Canadian state, built on the theft and occupation of indigenous lands, continues to benefit from its unjustly acquired assets. Equipped with an ultra-security state apparatus, Canada's repressive and suppressive anti-terrorist and security measures have historically struck hardest against those that have the most to gain, namely aboriginal nations and their legitimate claims for their rights to land and dignity.

Recent cases of indigenous protest in Ontario have been in opposition to government authorized resource extraction on native lands. Despite legitimate demands for sovereignty and decision-making power over their traditional lands, native protesters have been incarcerated: Robert Lovelace and the KI-6 (6 council members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation) have received harsh fines and 6 months in jail for peacefully protesting against mineral exploration on the lands of KI and Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFN).

» continue reading "Criminalizing Indigenous Rights in Canada"

October 8, 2008 Features

Mock justice

Why Omar Khadr should walk free

October 7, 2008 Weblog:

Tories on the Ropes?

Could Conservative fortunes have run out?

The impending economic problems in the US have caused many Canadians to turn to other parties. While the Conservatives are still leading nationally, they are behind the 8-ball in Ontario for the first time in months. The Liberals are leading by nearly nine percent.

In Quebec, the Conservatives have slipped to third, just two percent ahead of the NDP. The Bloc are leading.

In BC, the Tories are in a dead heat with the NDP.

October 4, 2008 Weblog:

Xstrata Faces Strike and Credit Crunch

Bad month for Xstrata, one of the worlds biggest mining groups.

First, CAW Local 599 goes on strike in Timmins, Ontario at the Copper Kidd Metallurgical mine.

Then it's pitch to take over Lonmin, an Anglo-African platinum mine company , fails because of the Credit Crisis.

Xstrata took over Canadian mining company Falconbridge in 2006.

October 4, 2008 Weblog:

Canadian Economy Better than US?

Harper during the debates:

"We are not in the kind of economic crisis we have in the US."

Merrill Lynch Canada Inc.:

"Households in this country are so indebted that it's only a matter of time before we see a major downturn here as well."

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver:

"The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says the number of residential property sales declined 42.9 per cent in September from a year earlier."

October 2, 2008 Weblog:

Reproductive Rights STILL an Election Issue

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"Focus on the Born": Image from a demonstration against Bill C-484, The Unborn Victims of Crime Act

When it became clear that an imminent election was in the stars, Harper distanced himself from the widely opposed Bill C-484, The Unborn Victims of Crime Act.

Now infamous, Bill C-484 was a private member bill introduced by Ken Epp (MP for Edmonton Sherwood Park, Alberta). It assigned legal personhood to unborn fetuses (in contravention of the Criminal Code). It was denounced by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), and other feminist organizations, as "an unconstitutional infringement on women’s rights." Similar laws are used in the United States to criminalize pregnant women who use drugs or alcohol for endangering the fetus, or to prosecute those who help them seek abortions.

While Epp refused to drop the Bill, which had passed its second reading, Harper vowed not to reopen the "debate" on abortion. (A promise, incidentally, that he has made before, during the 2004 election, and again in January 2005.)

But does that mean that reproductive rights are no longer an election issue?

Quite the opposite, according to the ARCC. Harper has said that he would not block private member bills about abortion (like C-484) in future.

In fact, on this issue, he has said he would lift tight party discipline and allow a free vote. Considering that the vast majority (74%) of current Conservative MPs are anti-choice, a majority Conservative Government could easily pass an anti-abortion bill into law.

Consider the following facts, largely culled from yesterday's press release issued by the ARCC:

» continue reading "Reproductive Rights STILL an Election Issue"

September 30, 2008 Weblog:

Medicare faces first NAFTA challenge

In an election where debate over health care has been next to non-existent, an article in Embassy magazine slipped through the cracks.

In July, a group of 200 American investors, led by an Arizonan businessman, launched a $155 million lawsuit under the North American Free Trade Agreement against the Canadian government. They say the lawsuit is recourse for barriers they faced in trying to establish private health clinics in Canada.

The article points out that he medicare system is probably safe for now, since it is still primarily publicly run. But while this case may be dismissed, there will certainly be more to come. And if in the meantime more private health services are introduced in Canada, the next NAFTA challenge will be that much harder to fight.

(via Rabble's Election Blog)

September 25, 2008 Weblog:

Buzz Hargrove joins the NHL!

Former labour leader Buzz Hargrove has ignored retirement and joined the advisory board of the NHL Players Association.

According to Hockeybuzz.com: "Buzz Hargrove (Toronto, Ontario) served as the national president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union since his acclamation in 1992 until he recently retired in September 2008. Hargrove has been one of Canada’s top labour leaders and has extensive collective bargaining experience."

Let's hope the players don't mysteriously lose the right to strike!

September 23, 2008 Weblog:

Missing Election Issues: Housing

The Liberals released their election spending plan on Monday with promises on health care, education, infrastructure, environment and aboriginal affairs.

But what about housing?

Though housing concerns have been major in certain parts of the country, the Grit plan was mum on the word.

But surprisingly this might be the norm. According to Howard Tessler of the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations (of which this author is an employee) none of the parties have released any sort of housing plan to date.

"It's one of the most important issues for all Canadians", he said. "There's nothing."

September 23, 2008 Original Peoples

Land & Jail

Ipperwash, official racism and the future of Ontario

September 22, 2008 Weblog:

Montréal NDP candidate Dr. Samira Laouni attacked on 98.5FM

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Dr. Samira Laouni, federal NDP candidate in Bourassa, Montréal (pictured above), was viciously attacked on Benoît Dutrizac's radio show, broadcast on September 10 on 98.5FM (a summary of the interview was published by the Montréal Gazette).

Laouni, termed "Québec's first veiled federal candidate" by mainstream media outlets, weathered Dutrizac's questioning with calm composure. Interrogated about her marriage, her religious beliefs, and her sexuality, with her measured responses Laouni revealed the deeply Islamophobic, misogynist presuppositions of Dutrizac's questions.

Following the interview, calls for Dutrizac's resignation came from the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The CAF is also filing a complaint with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), urging a full investigation of Corus Radio Network (the media outlet that owns 98.5FM), based in Toronto.

Radio Regulations (Broadcasting Act, 1986) forbid the broadcasting of

any abusive comment that, when taken in context, tends or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or mental or physical disability.

» continue reading "Montréal NDP candidate Dr. Samira Laouni attacked on 98.5FM"

September 18, 2008 Weblog:

Ipsos Reid: Half of Canadians agree with the 'Harper-as-Bush premise'

A new Ipsos Reid poll reveals that Canadians don't like too much about any of the leaders in the current federal election.

According to the Ottawa Citizen:

"Stephen Harper is a George W. Bush clone with a hidden agenda. Jack Layton is not the champion of the average "kitchen table" Canadian. Stéphane Dion is not a team player and is wrong on the environment and economy.

Those are the findings of a new poll that shows widespread dissatisfaction and disillusionment with Canada's three national party leaders currently vying for the job of prime minister in the federal election."

September 18, 2008 Weblog:

Barriere Lake takes over Lawrence Cannon's press conference

Or: The Coup D'Etat vs. The Liberal Plane

Members of the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake crashed Lawrence Cannon's press conference in Maniwaki yesterday, demanding a meeting with Cannon, an immediate leadership reselection process in the community, and for the Federal Government to uphold the shared use agreement it signed with the community. (Check out this photo essay for some background).

[If you're looking for election newsy, gossipy, scandalous coverage, don't despair. Read on. The juicy stuff is at the bottom.]

In June, people from Barriere Lake and several supporters occupied Lawrence Cannon's office in Buckingham, QC. Then, Cannon refused to meet, and two Algonquins and four supporters were arrested for refusing to leave until Cannon met with them. (Full disclosure: I was one of the supporters.)

Several other demonstrations were held, before and after, targeting Cannon and various other government officials. It all stems from when, in 2006-2007, the Feds imposed a minority faction as the government.

The background to this story is extensive. It is worth looking into, as it reveals some elementary but shocking truths about Canada's colonial policies and how they are intimately tied to control of natural resources.

» continue reading "Barriere Lake takes over Lawrence Cannon's press conference"

September 18, 2008 Weblog:

Rabble's Election Blog

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Rabble.ca has been running a reasonably interesting Election Blog, written by everyone from Alternatives' Pierre Beaudet to the Indigenous Environmental Network's Clayton Thomas-Muller.

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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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