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Archive for April, 2014

FIRST WORLD WAR 100TH ANNIVERSARY: A QUEST FOR PEACE? OR MORE GLORIFICATION OF WAR?

Posted by strattof on April 27, 2014

 

2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, “the war to end all wars.” The Harper government will commit a large sum of money to commemorating this war.

Anniversaries provide an opportunity for reflection. The First World War caused terrible loss and suffering, claiming over 16 million lives and leaving 20 million wounded.

Sadly, Canada will not be using the World War I centenary to promote peace, but rather to glorify war and support militarism. As the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julien Fantino, put it: “The 100th anniversary of the First World War…represent[s] a unique opportunity for Canadians to reflect on our country’s long and proud military history.”

GLORIFYING WAR

Rewriting Canadian History

  • According to the Harper government, Canada is a nation founded in war.
  • In 2012, the Harper government spent $30 million marketing the claim that the War of 1812 was Canada’s founding moment.
  • Over the next four years, it will, no doubt, spend at least that much making a similar claim about World War I.

The Harper government has also identified a number of “key milestones” in Canadian history, almost all of which have to do with war: ●The War of 1812 ●World War I ●World War II ●Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.

In its selection and reconstruction of past events, this version of Canadian history has two major problems:

  1. It omits the actual founding of Canada in a series of atrocities designed to terrorize First Nations peoples into submission. It is an invented story for the political purposes of the 21st century Canadian state, still trying to dispossess Indigenous peoples.
  2. The invention of a Canadian tradition of militarism is also designed to serve the political purposes of the Harper government, in this case to generate support for recent and ongoing military operations: the occupation of Afghanistan; airstrikes against Libya; interference in the affairs of Syria and Ukraine; participation in NATO; increased military spending. 

Manipulating Canadian Identity

According to the Harper government, World War 1 played an important role in shaping Canada’s national identity.

  • Here the government is replacing the image of the polite, peaceful Canadian with that of Canada as a warrior nation.
  • While neither image accurately reflects the complexities of Canadian identity, the new image, like the reconstruction of Canadian history, serves the government’s purpose of promoting militarism.

A QUEST FOR PEACE

Three Initiatives For Peace

PeaceQuest

Originating in Kingston, PeaceQuest is an initiative to stimulate a conversation about peace in Canada during the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I. Its symbol is an inch-square piece of white cloth that anyone can fashion to wear.

Find out more about PeaceQuest: http://peacequest.ca/about/

To End All War

An initiative of the Canadian Peace Congress, To End All War wants to “engage as many peace and progressive organizations as possible to develop and communicate an effective peace message to the public.”

Find out more about the To End All War campaign: Google “Canadian Peace Congress to end all war.”

No Glory In War

Established by actors, artists, teachers, and campaigners, No Glory In War is a British-based initiative. Its message is that the First World War Centenary “should not be used to celebrate nationalism but to promote peace and international cooperation.”

Find out more about No Glory In War: http://noglory.org/

ATTENTION ALL POLITICIANS

In 2007, at the age of 109, Harry Patch, Britain’s last surviving World War I veteran, wrote these words: “Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.”

MORE SOURCES AND RESOURCES

Cultural History

Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada In An Age Of Anxiety by Ian McKay and Jamie Swift (2012)

Novels and Poems

The novels and poems listed below all convey very powerfully the horrors of the First World War. The novels are available at Regina Public Library. The poems are available online.

Novels

The Wars by Timothy Findley (1977)

Regeneration by Pat Barker (1991)

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (2005): This novel also conveys the horrors of Canadian colonialism.

Poems

“Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen (1918)

“Suicide in the Trenches” by Siegfried Sassoon (1918)

“And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle (1971)

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ENERGY EAST: PIPING TAR SANDS OIL THROUGH REGINA

Posted by strattof on April 20, 2014

TransCanada Pipelines wants to ship tar sands oil from Alberta to eastern Canada and beyond. Energy East is its proposed method: a 4,400 km stretch of old and new pipelines.

The Saskatchewan portion of the pipeline would be converted from an already existing natural gas pipeline originally built in 1958. It would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day.

This pipeline cuts right through Regina, running down the back alleys of Harbour Landing. It will put our city, along with the wider community, at great risk.

TRANSCANADA’S POOR SAFETY RECORD

TransCanada claims its pipelines are safe. Its safety record tells a different story. In its initial year of operation, TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline, constructed in 2010, had 12 spills, including one that spilled 79,493 litres of oil in North Dakota.

The Energy East pipeline plan is extra risky: 

  • The Saskatchewan portion of the pipeline is over 50 years old.
  • This pipeline was constructed to carry natural gas, not tar sands oil, which is much thicker and more acidic and corrosive and must be pumped at a higher pressure.

If Energy East is approved, the question is not if, but when there will be pipeline leaks and spills.

ENERGY EAST: A HAZARDOUS PIPELINE

Energy East will put hundreds of communities across Canada, including Regina, at risk of a tar sands oil spill. A spill would be hazardous to the health and quality of life of thousands of Canadians.

THIS COULD HAPPEN IN REGINA

On March 29 2013, the citizens of Mayflower Arkansas woke to find their streets flooded with tar sands oil. An old Exxon pipeline had ruptured, spilling more than 1 million litres of tar sands oil in community neighbourhoods and waterways.

HAZARDOUS TO HEALTH

Conventional oil fumes are toxic enough, but tar sands oil contains even more poisonous materials.

In Mayflower, residents showed symptoms of exposure to harmful tar sands oil chemicals, including benzene and toluene, a month after the spill. Benzene is a known carcinogen, while toluene can cause nerve damage.

HAZARDOUS TO QUALITY OF LIFE

A spill would contaminate the soil, turning lawns, backyards, playgrounds, and parks into toxic places. The land would be damaged for years and property values would plummet.

NOT IN OUR BACKYARD! 

ENERGY EAST: AN ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD

The purpose of the Energy East pipeline is to expand Canadian tar sands production. The expansion will bring about a significant increase in Canada’s carbon emissions.

According to a Pembina Institute report released in February, Energy East will:

  • Add an additional 30-32 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year ‒ the equivalent of adding more than seven million cars to Canada’s roads; and
  • Help spur 650,000 to 750,000 barrels per day of additional production from the tar sands.

Earlier this month, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its most dire warning about how the rapid pouring of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is already altering earthly existence in every region of the globe, including Canada.

If the world doesn’t do anything about mitigating the emissions of greenhouse gases and the extent of climate change continues to increase, then the very social stability of human systems could be at stake” (Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

TAR SANDS MADNESS

  • The Harper government supports Energy East, along with other tar sands pipeline projects.
  • The Harper government subsidizes the tar sands industry to the tune of $1.3 billion per year.
  • Since taking office in 2006, the Harper government has been weakening environmental regulations in order to protect the tar sands.

EARTH DAY

Tuesday, April 22, is EARTH DAY, a time to reflect on the catastrophic damage we are doing to the earth systems that give us life, and a time to start taking action to reverse that damage.

TAKE ACTION FOR EARTH DAY

Learn more about the impact on climate of Energy East. Read the Pembina report: www.pembina.org/pub/2519

Contact Prime Minister Stephen Harper and your MP and let them know:

→ You do not want tar sands oil pumped through Regina;

→ You want the federal government to stop subsidizing tar sands development and to start investing in sustainable energy; and

→ You want the federal government to implement strong environmental regulations.

Follow the lead of Nobel laureate and anti-apartheid campaigner, Desmond Tutu:

“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel companies. We can demand that the advertisements of energy companies carry health warnings. We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil fuel industry. We can organize car-free days and build broader societal awareness.”

To read the rest of Desmond Tutu’s inspiring essay, visit http://bit.ly/1qyvSpU or google “tutu guardian climate change.”

 

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PUBLIC TRANSIT IS THE SOLUTION

Posted by strattof on April 20, 2014

When it comes to public transit, Regina needs an attitude makeover. We tend to see transit as the problem, when, in fact, it is the solution to many of our problems.

Take the problem of traffic congestion on 11th Avenue. Some city officials have proposed removing regular transit buses from 11th as the solution to this problem. Such a policy would, however, have the opposite effect. By discouraging people from using public transit, it would increase traffic congestion on 11th Avenue.

FACTS

  • A regular transit bus seats 40 passengers.
  • A regular busload of passengers takes up far less road space than 40 cars.

The past four years have seen a dramatic increase in transit ridership. Between 2012 and 2013 alone, it grew by a whopping 13.8%. It is a trend that needs to be encouraged, not discouraged.

PUBLIC TRANSIT IS THE SOLUTION, NOT THE PROBLEM 

Increased transit use is the solution to many of our city’s problems, including:

  • Traffic congestion on 11th Avenue
  • Downtown parking
  • Rush hour traffic jams

Public transit also has a number of advantages over private vehicles:

Transit saves you money.Downtown parking costs on average $200 per month. A 30-day adult bus pass costs $62. If your employer participates in the Employer Pass Program, you will pay only $53 per month for a bus pass.

Transit is relaxing. You can read or meditate or text on the bus with no safety worries.

Transit is safer. Studies show that transit is safer than driving a car. Transit travel has about a tenth of the traffic injury or death rate as car travel; and residents of transit-oriented communities have about a fifth the per capita crash casualty rate as in car-oriented communities.

Transit also makes streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Transit is a common good. It benefits everyone. Folks who serve us in hospitals, restaurants, and stores need transit to get to work. Businesses need customers and workers to get there. Transit is essential for people who cannot afford, or do not have the health, to drive a car. It is also necessary for people who choose not to drive.

We need a transportation system that does not privilege the car over other forms of transportation.

TRANSIT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Public transit not only provides solutions to local problems. It is also part of the answer to a major global problem: climate change. Last week, the UN issued its most dire warning about how rising carbon emissions are affecting lives in every region of the globe, including Canada.

FACTS

  • Transit cuts carbon emissions.
  • One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road, reducing emissions by more than 15,000 tonnes a year.

IMPROVING REGINA TRANSIT

To further improve ridership, transit service will have to be improved in the following ways:

  • Extend transit service to new areas of the city
  • Provide more frequent service
  • Provide earlier and later service
  • Offer holiday and full Sunday service

However, to improve service, transit needs more financial support. In the past four years, there has been no significant increase in transit’s operating budget. Moreover, revenue from additional rides, as well as from ads, keeps being put back into general revenue.

PARATRANSIT

Kudos to Regina Transit for making its entire fleet of buses accessible to those with mobility issues.

Now the city needs to turn its attention to Paratransit where, because of a lack of vehicles and drivers, requests for service often go unanswered. “Equal access for persons with disabilities to public services is a human right” protected under the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and Canadian law.

TAKE ACTION FOR EARTH DAY: APRIL 22

Help forge a sustainable future. Start riding the bus. 

TAKE ACTION FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT

Remind Mayor Michael Fougere and your City Councillor that public transit is the solution to many of our city’s problems. Let them know you want:

  • An annual 20% increase to the transit operating budget for the next four years.
  • All surplus transit revenue to be reinvested in Regina Transit.
  • The provision of enough paratransit buses and drivers for all calls for paratransit service to be answered.

Mayor Michael Fougere 777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

Ward 1: Barbara Young 539-4081 or byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2: Bob Hawkins 789-2888 or bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3: Shawn Fraser 551-5030 or sfraser@regina.ca

Ward 4: Bryon Burnett 737-3347 or bburnett@regina.ca

Ward 5: John Findura 536-4250 or jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6: Wade Murray 596-1035 or wmurray@regina.ca

Ward 7: Sharron Bryce 949-5025 or sbryce@regina.ca

Ward 8: Mike O’Donnell 545-7300 or modonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9: Terry Hincks 949-9690 or thincks@regina.ca

Ward 10:Jerry Flegel 537-9888 or jflegel@regina.ca

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HOUSING CRISIS: LET’S DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Posted by strattof on April 3, 2014

6 K E Y   F A C T S

  1. Regina’s rental vacancy rate is 1.8%. A healthy vacancy rate is 3%.
  2. In 2010, the last year for which figures are available, over 3,400 people used Regina’s shelter services.
  3. Many others double bunked, couch surfed, or lived in overcrowded unhealthy conditions. Some even lived in cars or garages. These latter groups could easily double the number of homeless people in Regina.
  4. Today, the city’s shelter system is filled to capacity.
  5. The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Regina is $875.A full-time minimum wage worker, earning $1,736 per month cannot afford it. Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “affordable housing” as costing a household 30% or less of its before-tax income.
  6. A significant amount of rental housing in Regina is below acceptable standards.

WHAT IS CITY COUNCIL DOING TO ADDRESS REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS?

The short answer to this question is ALMOST NOTHING!

For years, Regina City Council claimed housing does not come under the jurisdiction of cities. Now Mayor Michael Fougere is saying “Homelessness is not a municipal responsibility.” That’s a direct quote.

  • The city’s new housing plan uses a “made in Regina” definition of affordable rental housing as “housing with rents at or below average market rent.” As everyone knows, market rent housing is not affordable for many Regina citizens.
  • The city’s new housing plan calls for the city to offer developers of market rental housing a capital incentive of $15,000 per unit. In other words, the city is shifting millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into the pockets of developers who will not be building any truly affordable rental units.
  • City Council has rejected repeated requests to implement a rental unit licensing policy to ensure rental housing in Regina meets minimum health and safety standards.

HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT

Safe, secure housing is a human right.

  • It is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “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, [and] housing.”
  • The right to housing is also enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, signed into law in 1982. Because it puts their health and life at risk, homelessness breaches a homeless person’s Charter Section 7 rights to “life, liberty and security of person.”

SOLVING REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS

The City of Regina cannot solve all Regina’s housing problems. There are, however, a number of measures the city can take which will go some way towards addressing our city’s housing crisis.

The City of Regina can:

  • Start seeing homelessness as a municipal responsibility which requires concrete action – as have other cities, including Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Saskatoon.
  • Apply the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s definition of affordability to rental housing: “The cost of adequate shelter should not exceed 30% of household income.”
  • Require developers who receive the $15,000 per unit capital incentive to rent 10% of the units at the truly affordable rate of $500 per month.
  • Require all developers to include truly affordable housing in their plans or pay a fee into an affordable housing account.
  • Invest all revenue derived from the development or sale of city-owned land in social housing when the rental vacancy rate is below 3%.
  • Deny applications for rental property demolition permits when the vacancy rate is below 3%.
  • Introduce rental unit licensing.
  • Seize property that does not comply with city codes, as well as abandoned and boarded-up houses. Repair seized units and convert them to social housing.
  • Pressure the provincial government to pass rent control legislation.
  • Adopt a Housing First policy and ask the provincial government to support it – as Calgary and Edmonton have done in Alberta.

If the City of Regina can build a “social stadium” – a stadium built with public money – it can also build social housing.

TAKE ACTION

Let Mayor Fougere and your City Councillor know you want them to take action to solve Regina’s housing crisis.

Mayor Michael Fougere 777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

Ward 1: Barbara Young 539-4081 or byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2: Bob Hawkins 789-2888 or bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3: Shawn Fraser 551-5030 or sfraser@regina.ca

Ward 4: Bryon Burnett 737-3347 or bburnett@regina.ca

Ward 5: John Findura 536-4250 or jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6: Wade Murray 596-1035 or wmurray@regina.ca

Ward 7: Sharron Bryce           949-5025 or sbryce@regina.ca

Ward 8: Mike O’Donnell        545-7300 or modonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9: Terry Hincks             949-9690 or thincks@regina.ca

Ward 10:Jerry Flegel               537-9888 or jflegel@regina.ca

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