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Archive for July, 2010

$16 BILLION FOR WAR-FIGHTING JETS: WRONG FOR CANADA

Posted by strattof on July 30, 2010

“Unless Canada is planning on being the sharp end of the American spear, we don’t need stealth technology.”

–Michael Byers, University of British Columbia

On July 16th, Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced the government would spend $16 billion on 65 F-35 fighter-bombers made by American arms giant Lockheed Martin.

These planes are wrong for peace, wrong for people’s priorities, and wrong for Canada.

WRONG FOR PEACE: The fighter-bombers will do nothing to protect Canada, or to promote global peace and security, for Canadians or others.

  • These stealth fighter-bombers are weapons of aggression, not defence. Professor Michael Byers of UBC says the F-35 is designed to wage “shock and awe” bombing attacks like the one launched against Baghdad by the USA at the start of the Iraq War.
  • Canada is not expecting an aerial attack against its territory; these fighter-bombers are being purchased to allow Canada to participate in the next war launched by the USA and its allies, possibly against Iran or another country.

WRONG PRIORITIES FOR PEOPLE: The billions wasted on war-fighting equipment could be better spent on real human needs.

  • The day before the purchase of the fighter-bombers was announced, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the Saint John Telegraph Journal that the provinces would have to cut back on their health care spending.
  • Why is there always more money for weapons and war-fighting and never enough to spend on important social programs that benefit all Canadians?
  • At $135 million, just one of these fighter-bombers costs almost as much as the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are spending on affordable housing in this province ($148 million, according to a recent government press release).
  • For the cost of the war in Afghanistan ($18 billion), of these fighter-bombers ($16 billion), and of the next war these planes are designed to fight ($?? billion), what could we do to address poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and environmental damage, and violence here at home?
TAKE ACTION: Contact your MP to say that you don’t support spending billions on war-fighting jets.Ray Boughen, Palliser: boughr@parl.gc.ca or 790-4646; Ralph Goodale, Wascana: goodale@sasktel.net or 585-2202; Tom Lukiwski, Regina-Lumsden: lukiwt@parl.gc.ca or 790-4747; Andrew Scheer, Regina Qu’Appelle: scheea@parl.gc.ca or 790-4727.

 

YOU CAN BOMB THE WORLD TO PIECES, BUT YOU CAN’T BOMB THE WORLD TO PEACE.”

–Michael Franti 

MAKING PEACE VIGIL July 29 2010

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TAR SANDS: COMING TO A PROVINCE NEAR YOU

Posted by strattof on July 14, 2010

TAR SANDS IN SASKATCHEWAN

Oilsands Quest, a Calgary-based company, already has a lease on 651,565 acres in north western Saskatchewan.  In May it applied to the Ministry of Environment for permission to start producing 30,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day near LaLoche. The next step is an application for commercial project approval to the Ministry of Energy and Resources.

BP BLOWOUT BONUS

Ever since the April 20th blowout at the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, tar sands proponents have been promoting tar sands oil as a “safer” option. While there is no risk of a rig blowout, there is nothing environmentally safe about tar sands oil extraction–a process which, in and of itself, is a horrendous environmental catastrophe. 

THE TRUTH ABOUT TAR SANDS

  • The extraction process emits 3-5 times more carbon dioxide than regular oil. The Alberta tar sands are the single biggest contributor to the growth of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.  
  • It takes 3-7 barrels of water to produce a single barrel of oil. That’s between 230-530 million cubic metres a year.  
  • Enough natural gas is used in the tar sands every day to heat 3.2 million Canadian homes for 24 hours. That’s over 25% of Canadian homes. 
  • The tar sands are carving huge gashes in the world’s largest intact forest, which serves as a vital absorber of carbon dioxide.  The tar sands are the source of the 2nd fastest rate of deforestation on the planet.
  • The tar sands generate 6,500 barrels of toxic waste every day. This waste is stored in massive unlined tailings ponds that occupy 140 square km of forest along the Athabasca River. These ponds of toxic sludge are so poisonous that birds which accidentally land on them died instantly.  

POISONING PEOPLE

These toxic ponds leak into the Athabasca River at a rate of at least 11 million litres a day. As a result, the river’s levels of toxic chemicals, which include arsenic, cyanide, and naphthenic acids, are steadily rising.

At Fort Chipewyan, a downstream First Nations community, the increase in cancer is 30% higher than in other communities, an increase that coincided with the development of the tar sands. 

In the tar sands region, workers and local residents breathe in pollutant emissions, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and benzene, a leukemia-causing carcinogen. In 2009, tar sands companies breached Alberta’s air pollution targets 1,556 times or more than 4 times every day.

The federal government subsidizes the tar sands industry to the tune of $1 billion per year.

IN SITU EXTRACTION

Saskatchewan tar sands oil is too deep to be mined. Instead, it will be extracted by the in situ method–a process that involves steam injection to melt the bitumen.  

Some tar sands industry advocates have touted the in situ method as a green alternative. However, recent studies have shown that in situ projects have higher greenhouse gas and sulphur dioxide emissions than mining. They may also use more water. Their impact on wildlife habitat is the same as mining.

“The negative costs of tar sands and deep ocean resources should point to the need to work toward a carbon-free energy future.”         –David Suzuki

TAKE ACTION

  • Learn more about tar sands by visiting the website of the Pembina Institute: http://www.oilsandswatch.org/
  • Let key members of the Saskatchewan government know you don’t want the province to develop this dirty and dangerous form of fuel. Now is the time to get off oil, which has terrible consequences for the environment and for us. We must switch to renewables:  Premier Brad Wall: 787-9433 or premier@gov.sk.caDustin Duncan, Minister of the Environment: 787-0393 or dduncan.mla@accesscomm.ca; Bill Boyd, Minister of Energy and Resources: 787-9124 or boyd.mla@sasktel.net
  • Let Stephen Harper know you want the federal government to stop subsidizing the tar sands industry: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.

NEWS FLASH

From the Leader Post, July 7 2010

“Federal politicians from the government and opposition benches have mysteriously cancelled an 18-month investigation into oilsands pollution in water and opted to destroy draft copies of their final report….The aborted investigation comes as new questions are being raised about the Harper government’s decision to exempt a primary toxic pollutant [naphthenic acids] found in oilsands tailings ponds from a regulatory agenda.”

MAKING PEACE VIGIL July 15 2010

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REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS

Posted by strattof on July 14, 2010

Many Regina households live in inadequate or unsuitable dwellings or face unaffordable shelter costs. Rents continue to escalate and some Regina residents have no permanent place to live.

  • Nine per cent rent increase. The average apartment rent in Regina increased 9% from April 2009 to April 2010.  And this is on top of a 33% increase over the previous two and a half years.  This April, the average monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment in Regina was $858.
  • Scarce rental housing.  The rental apartment vacancy rate in Regina is 0.8%, the second lowest among Canadian cities.  With little new rental construction and existing apartments being converted to condominiums, there are now fewer rental apartments available in Regina than there were in 2008.  
  • Unaffordable housing.  In 2006, 15,600 Regina households spent 30% or more of their income on shelter – an unaffordable level.  Over 40% cent of tenant households found housing unaffordable. 
  • Substandard housing.  In 2006, 8% of Regina dwellings were in need of major repairs.  In the central area of the city 15% were substandard.  
  • Homelessness.  The homeless rate in Saskatchewan is among the highest in Canada.  In Regina, an estimated 345 people slept in homeless shelters every night, and 3,000 used homeless centres at some time during the year.    
  • Housing for women and children who have experienced violence.  Homelessness has become a grave concern and a serious reality for many women and children.  A lack of affordable housing in Saskatchewan is one of the most powerful barriers in keeping women from exiting dangerous, abusive, and violent situations.  With limited space in shelters, the women simply have nowhere else to go.  (See the report from the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan http://www.abusehelplines.org/past_projects.php)
  • Housing and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  According to this Declaration, to which Canada is a signatory, housing is a right of citizenship:  “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

If we can find a billion dollars to guard 20 heads of state at a lavish summit, surely we can find the funds to ensure everyone has a decent dwelling to call home.  But this will require all levels of government to develop housing policies that include a financial commitment to affordable, safe, and accessible housing.   

CONVERSION OF REGINA APARTMENTS TO CONDOMINIUMS

  • Mainly because of rental unit conversion to condominiums, the number of Regina private rental apartments declined by 117 units between 2008 and 2009 (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation).
  • City of Regina by-laws give City Council the power to deny applications for condo conversions if the conversion would create “significant hardship for more than 10% of the tenants.”  Council can also say “no” to condo conversions if the apartment vacancy rate is under 3%.  Even though the vacancy rate fell to under 1%, Council approved 24 of 27 condo conversion applications dating from 2008. 
  • To its credit, City Council placed a moratorium on new applications for condo conversions in 2008.  Moreover, it is currently conducting a review of its policy on condominium conversion.
  • Let City Council know that condo conversions should always be denied when the apartment vacancy rate is under 3%.  Submissions can be made until July 31 by sending an email to cmd@uregina.ca

 MAKING PEACE VIGIL July 8, 2010

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G8-G20 SUMMITS: THE WORLD WE WISH TO LIVE IN

Posted by strattof on July 14, 2010

Security for the G8–G20 meetings, which begin tomorrow in Ontario, will cost Canadian taxpayers more than $1 billion. This amount is 25 times more than it cost to host two G20s last year in Pittsburgh and London, England. And it does not even  include such expenditures as the $100,000 for a gazebo in the Huntsville area or the nearly $2 million for the additions, including a fake lake, to the International Media Centre in Toronto.

What will Canadian citizens get out of these meetings between representatives of the world’s richest and most powerful nations? One thing is certain: we have not been invited to participate.

G8-G20 leaders would rather that citizens leave global economic, social, and political policy-making to them. Although the policies of the G8-G20 affect billions of people on a daily basis, the agendas for the meetings are set without any democratic consultation and historically have favoured corporate over public interests. The meetings themselves take place behind closed doors and inside costly security fences specially designed to keep ordinary people out. Indeed, this is what “democracy” seems to mean today: keeping the people out of it, lest they contaminate it with ideas about building a better world. 

But we can protest this undemocratic assembly by acting democratically. In defiance of the world’s wealthiest nations, we can speak up and let them know the kind of world we wish to live in.    

A WORLD WITHOUT WAR

●Now, not next year, is the time for Canada to get out of Afghanistan. The best way to support our troops is to bring them home. The $2 billion that will be saved can be spent on the physical and mental rehabilitation of Canadian soldiers who have been in Afghanistan. ●Not counting the extra costs of the war in Afghanistan, Canada spent over $21 billion on its military in 2009. That’s an increase of about 50% in the last seven years. The money could be better spent on healthcare, education, and affordable housing. ●Canada is the 6th largest military exporter in the world, just behind China. While arms sales generate huge profits, the weapons systems contribute to violence, and fail to bring real peace and security. If Canada’s reputation as a country of peace is to be more than a myth, we will have to abandon our role as a major military exporter.

A WORLD WITHOUT POVERTY

●The establishment of a federal minimum wage, set at $12 an hour and indexed to inflation, and the implementation of a national affordable housing program, with an annual budget of $2.5 billion, would go some way to eliminating poverty in Canada. ●Fair trade–equitable economic exchanges between rich and poor countries–would help alleviate poverty in poor countries, as well as challenge the current, unjust, free trade trading system.   

A WORLD WHERE INDIGENOUS RIGHTS ARE RECOGNIZED

●Only two countries have not signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. One of them is Canada. ●Within Canada, there is a dismal and ongoing legacy of colonialism and racism, made evident by, for example: the number of unresolved land claims (800); the rate of tuberculosis among Aboriginal peoples (31% higher than among the non Aboriginal population); the homicide rate for Aboriginal women (7 times higher than that for other Canadian women); and the funding deficit for First Nations children who attend school on reserves (30% less than other Canadian children).

A WORLD WHERE THERE IS ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE

●Bold action on climate change is needed now to avoid lasting consequences, such as rising sea levels, lost habitats for animal and plant species, and extreme weather episodes. Wealthy countries have caused most of the environmental damage and owe an ecological debt to poor countries, to all life, and to the future. ●At the Copenhagen conference on climate change last December, Canada presented the biggest stumbling block to a fair, ambitious, and binding climate change agreement. It was only after heavy pressure from world leaders and environmentalists that the Canadian government added climate change to the agendas of the G8 and G20 summits. ●Canada ranks first among G8 countries for increasing greenhouse gas emissions. We are the 10th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. The tar sands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Over the next 15 years, they are slated to expand 5 times their current size.

  • Let Prime Minister Harper know the kind of world you wish to live in: pm@pm.gc.ca
  • Watch the live webcast from Toronto of the People’s Summit event: Shout Out for Global Justice
    Friday, June 25th, 5:00 pm at the Research & Innovation Centre Theatre, LA119 at the University of Regina (between the Lab Building and College West).  
    Speakers include Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, and Maude Barlow. The People’s Summit is an alternative summit that aims to create a space for informed dialogue about the economic, social, and political problems facing the world and for advocating for global justice.

  MAKING PEACE VIGIL June 24 2010

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