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Archive for October, 2015

SCARY REGINA

Posted by strattof on October 30, 2015

Be afraid! Be very afraid!! With Halloween upon us, we seek out the genuinely frightening things in our city.

They’re scarier than ghosts, goblins, and witches. They’re scarier than Darke Hall, the site of a number of deaths and ghost sightings. They’re even scarier than the building on Dewdney Avenue, now home to Bushwakkers, where a ghost is regularly spotted on the premises.

For a genuine fright, turn the page to see what is REALLY SCARY in Regina.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

NIGHTMAYOR ON FOUGERE STREET: 5 SERIOUSLY SCARY THINGS IN REGINA

1. REGINA HOUSING HORRORS

THE GOOD NEWS

  • Regina’s rental vacancy rate has improved, rising from l.8% in 2013 to 4.8% in 2015. 

THE BAD NEWS

  • Rents too have increased. For example, rent for a one bedroom apartment increased by 2.9% between 2013 and 2014 and by another 3.1% between 2014 and 2015. As a result, most rental housing is still unaffordable.
  • Many Regina families still have to choose between paying the rent and buying food.
  • Regina’s shelter system is filled to capacity. Many other Regina residents make up the “hidden homeless,” staying with friends or relatives on a temporary basis. 

TRICK OR TREAT: Tell Mayor Fougere you want the City of Regina to build 100 new units of affordable rental housing a year, with matching funding from the province.

2. SCARY SCHOOL DAYS

Regina high schools, both public and Catholic, offer a military training program to grade 11 and 12 students. ●Students earn 2 credits for taking the course. ●They are also paid $2,000.

  • Wouldn’t it be better for society if students were paid $2,000 to take Math or English or Biology?
  • Shouldn’t we be encouraging students to resolve conflicts non-violently?
  • How about a high school course for credit in Peace Studies?

TRICK OR TREAT: Let Premier Brad Wall know you don’t want a military training program in Regina high schools.

3. PERNICIOUS POLICE PRACTICES

Carding ‒ also known as street checks ‒ is the police practice of arbitrarily stopping citizens when there is no reason to do so.

Data shows that, in Toronto, black people are three times as likely to be carded as whites. Regina Police Service freely admits to practicing carding, but claims it doesn’t keep statistics. Indigenous people are, however, the clear target of carding in Regina.   

Unwanted Guest is an initiative of Regina Police Service that allows businesses to ban individuals from their property. Nowhere is it specified exactly what activities can give rise to a ban, leaving room for influence by stereotypes. In fact, poor people, homeless people, and Indigenous people are clear targets of the initiative.

TRICK OR TREAT: Tell Premier Brad Wall that you want these racist and classist practices of Regina Police Service stopped.

4. PIPE DREAMS NIGHTMARES

TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline cuts right through Regina in the Harbour Landing area. The pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day.

Energy East is a perilous pipeline.

  • TransCanada has a poor safety record. Its first Keystone pipe-line, built in 2010, had 12 spills in its first year of operation.
  • Energy East is also an environmental hazard. Its purpose is to expand Canadian tar sands production ‒ the main cause of increasing carbon emissions in Canada.

TRICK OR TREAT: Treat yourself to a movie. See This Changes Everything, now showing at Rainbow Cinemas, located at the Golden Mile, 4 pm and 9:30 pm daily. Inspired by Naomi Klein’s book of the same title, the movie has a hopeful message: that climate change isn’t only a crisis; it is also our best chance to build a better world.

5. PESTICIDE POISONING

The City of Regina sprays city parks with pesticides, including RoundUp and 2, 4-D. Wascana Centre Authority sprays Wascana Park with the same pesticides.

  • Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned the use of pesticides on lawns and gardens. But not Regina.
  • Seven provinces have banned the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. But not Saskatchewan.

“Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast, brain, prostate, lung, pancreatic…and other forms of cancer have all been linked to pesticides.” – Canadian Cancer Society 

TRICK OR TREAT: ●Tell Mayor Fougere and your City Councillor you want the city to ban the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. ●Let the Director of Wascana Centre Authority know you want the Centre to stop using pesticides for cosmetic purposes.

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‘UNWANTED GUEST’: MIGHT YOU FALL INTO THIS CATEGORY?

Posted by strattof on October 22, 2015

“Unwanted guest” is a new initiative of Regina Police Service, based on legislation under the 2009 provincial Trespass to Property Act. Its purpose, according to RPS, is to allow “businesses to ban individuals who repeatedly cause problems on their property.”

Activities that could lead to a ban include “being intoxicated, harassing customers, shoplifting, etc.” Nowhere is it specified exactly what activities can give rise to a ban. Hence much is left to the discretion of police officers and business owners, allowing room for influence by stereotypes.

There are already laws prohibiting shoplifting and drunken and violent behaviour. Who is the unwanted guest initiative targeting?

HOW TO BAN AN ‘UNWANTED GUEST’

It’s really quite simple. All a business owner or manager has to do to ban an individual from the property is:

  1. Notify the individual that he/she is banned from the property and for how long.
  2. Call the police, while at the same time getting as much information about the individual as possible.
  3. Fill out a ban form.

Consequences of a ban for the banned individual are pretty dire:

  • The ban will be placed on the individual’s profile on the police database for future reference.
  • If the ban is violated, a $250 offence ticket will be issued.

The ban procedure does not seem to include an appeal process—an opportunity for the banned individual to appeal the ban.

The “unwanted guest” initiative was introduced in downtown Regina in May 2015. In its first three months of operation, it resulted in 133 bans and 35 offence tickets. In September, the initiative was expanded to all areas of the city.

WHO IS BEING TARGETED?

  • Panhandlers are a clear target of the “unwanted guest” initiative. It is a replacement for the Tag Day Bylaw which police had previously used for panhandlers. This bylaw was removed in 2009 by City Council, as courts had found that municipal bans against panhandling violated panhandlers Charter-protected rights to freedom of expression, fundamental justice, and equal treatment before the law.
  • Homeless people, poor people, Indigenous people, people experiencing mental illness and addiction issues: they are also likely targets.

To issue bans and subsequent tickets amounts to “the breakdown of common places in our community [and] criminalizing the survival and experiences of homelessness or addictions or mental illness.”—Tyler Gray, Carmichael Outreach

PANHANDLING: AN OFFENCE OR PUBLIC SERVICE?

Why is there so much outrage in our city when poor people ask for money? Is it because it reminds us of an unpleasant truth: that we live in an unjust society, one in which the rich continue to get richer and the poor poorer?

Prohibiting panhandling restricts the Charter right of poor people to speak about their situation. It also limits the opportunities other citizens have to learn the truth about our society.

Do you know

  • That Regina’s shelter system is filled to capacity?
  • That the Regina Food Bank gets approximately 8,000 requests a month?
  • That many Regina families have to choose between paying the rent and buying groceries?

This is the message Regina panhandlers are conveying: the system is broken and we need to fix it. Let’s listen.

N O   L O I T E R I N G 

Since the “unwanted guest’ initiative was introduced in May, signs, such as the one above from Tim Hortons on the corner of 11th and Broad, have begun to appear in coffee shops, fast food outlets, and restaurants around the city.

The sign reads: “Please be advised that Restaurant Seating is for paying guests only and subject to a time limit at Management Discretion. NO LOITERING.”

Will the “No Loitering” rule be applied in a fair manner to all? Or will it be used to discriminate against particular groups of individuals?

TAKE ACTION

  • Visit the CHEW ON THIS website and learn how poverty can be eliminated in Canada.
  • If you belong to the dominant culture (i.e. are white and middle class) test out the “No Loitering” rule to see if it is being applied fairly. Go to an establishment that displays a “No Loitering” sign and stay for awhile without ordering. Observe who, if anyone, is asked to leave. If you are asked to leave, do so immediately.
  • Let your City Councillor know you do not approve of the “unwanted guest” initiative and why.
  • If you happen to be a lawyer, offer to test the constitutionality of the “unwanted guest” initiative or seek out a colleague who is trained in this area of law.

 

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ELECTION SPECIAL: 6 KEY QUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES

Posted by strattof on October 14, 2015

  1. Will the leader of your party be a Prime Minister for peace?
  • Canada has been endlessly at war since 2003: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria ‒ Canada has been or is there making war.
  • Today Canada is directly involved in two international wars ‒ Iraq-Syria and Ukraine ‒ and indirectly in at least one other ‒ Palestine-Israel.
  • Today, Canada is the 12th largest military exporter in the world.

Canada should:

  1. Work to curb the arms trade and war economy.
  2. Seek a non-violent negotiated settlement, including all parties involved in the conflict, to the wars now raging in Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, and Israel-Palestine.

“It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”—Einstein

  1. Will your party welcome refugees?
  • Today there are more than 50 million refugees in the world, the majority of them fleeing wars that have been caused, directly or indirectly, by western foreign policy.
  • Many of those desperate people are fleeing the brutal civil war in Syria ‒ a war that has killed over 200,000 and caused the displacement of 12 million people, half of Syria’s population.
  • Canada’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis is to drop more bombs. War is the cause of this refugee crisis, not the solution.

Canada should:

►Work actively for a diplomatic resolution to the world’s wars.

►Welcome as many refugees as Germany. A much smaller country than Canada, Germany has committed to taking 500,000 Syrian refugees a year.

All Canadians should:

►Read Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal, a new novel about refugees.

Refugees need “arms that welcome, not arms that kill.”—Amy Goodman

  1. How does your party intend to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

Residential schools were ‘part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples.’—TRC Report

The legacy of the schools remains, including:

  • The racism many Canadians hold against Indigenous peoples.
  • On-going systemic racism evident in ●33% – 50% less funding for First Nations schools ●22% less funding for First Nations child welfare services ●housing shortages and substandard over-crowded living conditions on First Nations ●139 Drinking Water Advisories in effect in 94 First Nations communities.

Canada must carry out all the recommendations of the TRC report.

“Without truth, justice, and healing, there can be no genuine reconciliation.”—TRC report

  1. Will your party work to stop anti-Muslim racism?
    • When did religion become a suitable basis for refugee selection?
    • When will men stop telling women what to wear?
    • Is a beard a face covering?
    • Why are so many Canadian women who claim to be feminists disturbed by the niqab? Does it threaten “our freedom”? But our freedom to do what? Wear tank tops and microskirts?
    • Speaking of “barbaric cultural practices,” do you think women should be allowed to wear high heels at Canadian citizenship ceremonies? High heels can cause a wide range of health problems and hence place a burden on our healthcare system.
    • When did promoting fear and hatred become an acceptable political practice in Canada?

“The Holocaust illustrates the consequences of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping on a society.”—Tim Holden

  1. What will your party do to address income inequality in Canada?

Since the 1980s, income inequality has been increasing in Canada, reversing the trend since the 1930s that saw increasing equality.

Today in Canada

  • The richest 1% earn 13% of total income, up from 7% in 1982.
  • The highest paid 100 CEOs earn 195 times more than the average worker, up from a ratio of 105 to 1 in 1998.
  • 850,000 people use food banks every month.
  • 1 in 6 children live in poverty. 

The Canadian government should act to reduce income inequality by taking the following measures:

  1. Introduce a new top income tax rate of 35%, up from 29%, on those with incomes over $250,000: the richest 1%.
  2. Increase the corporate income tax rate from 15% to 22%, which is still well below the 29% it was 15 year ago.
  3. Invest in social housing.
  4. Introduce high quality universal early childhood education.

6. What action will your party take on climate change?

Since climate change first became an issue in the 1990s, the Canadian government has repeatedly placed corporate profits and economic growth before the health of people and the planet. As a result, Canada has one of the worst records in the world when it comes to taking action on climate change, ranking 58 out of 61 on the 2014 Climate Change Performance Index.

To avoid catastrophic consequences for human, animal, and plant life, a global rise in average temperature of 2°C must be avoided. Average global temperature has already risen by .85° C.

What can our government do to help avert the worst consequences of climate change?

  • Implement strong carbon taxes.
  • Develop a national renewable energy plan. 

“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”—Pope Francis

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CHEW ON THIS: A CAMPAIGN TO ELIMINATE POVERTY IN CANADA

Posted by strattof on October 12, 2015

POVERTY IN SASKATCHEWAN: 6 KEY FACTS

SASKATCHEWAN is a wealthy province, and yet:

  1. 26,820 Saskatchewan residents use the food bank every month.
  2. Between 2013 and 2014, there was a 19.4% increase in food bank use in Saskatchewan.
  3. 8% of Saskatchewan food bank users are children.
  4. Many Saskatchewan families have to choose between paying the rent and buying food.
  5. Rent for a two bedroom apartment in Regina has increased 16% over the past three years.
  6. Regina’s shelter system is filled to capacity. Many other Regina residents make up the “hidden homeless,” staying with friends or relatives on a temporary basis.

Studies show that poverty is the single biggest predictor of poor health for individuals. Poverty is like a disease that manifests itself in other illnesses or negative outcomes: diabetes, obesity, higher infant mortality rates, shorter life expectancy. The prescription for the disease of poverty is a higher income.

ELIMINATING POVERTY

Food banks and emergency shelters were started as temporary ways to address hunger and homelessness. They were never intended to be permanent measures. While charity is necessary right now, it doesn’t address poverty’s root causes.

What Canada needs is a FEDERAL ANTI-POVERTY PLAN.

TAKE ACTION: Visit the Chew On This website and see the national anti-poverty plan that has been developed. Share the plan with your friends, relatives, and neighbours.

Poverty is a human rights violation. October 17 is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a time to think beyond food banks and emergency shelters.

Many thanks to NATURE’S BEST MARKET, 2224 14th Avenue, for supporting the campaign to eliminate poverty through its donation of organic apples for us to chew on.

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