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Archive for May, 2016

DEFENCE POLICY REVIEW: MAKING PEACE OR MAKING MORE WAR?

Posted by strattof on May 26, 2016

Did you know that the Canadian government launched a Defence Policy Review and is holding “public consultations” on it across Canada?

Did you know that the Canadian government is considering

  • Expanding the Canadian military and doubling the amount of money spent on it?
  • Escalating Canadian military interventions on a global scale?
  • Making bigger commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?
  • Joining the US Ballistic Missile Defence system?

If not, you are not alone. There has been almost no discussion in the media—commercial or alternative—about this review. Yet, by the end of July, the review process is to be all wrapped up with the new defence policy to be announced early in 2017.

CANADA’S ENDLESS WAR

  • Canada has been continuously at war since 2003: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria.
  • In 2014, mere months after bringing the last soldiers home from Afghanistan, the Harper government committed Canada to military action in Iraq.
  • In April 2015, the Harper government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq for another 12 months, until March 2016, and expanded it into Syria.
  • In March 2016, the Trudeau government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria for another 12 months, until March 2017, and budgeted it over a three-year period to 2019.

DEFENCE POLICY REVIEW: PREPARING US FOR MORE WAR

The Defence Policy Review document poses a series of nine questions. These questions are, to say the least, leading questions: that is questions designed to take Canada in the direction of more war. For example:

  • Are there any threats to Canada’s security that are not being addressed?
  • How should Canada-US cooperation on defence of North America evolve in the coming years?
  • Should the size, structure, and composition for the Canadian Armed Forces change from what they are today?
  • What type of investments should Canada make in space, cyber, and unmanned systems?

DISASTERS OF WAR

War is a disaster for everyone it touches:

  • Soldiers are killed, maimed, traumatized.
  • Civilians in the war zone pay a tremendous price: death, injury, bereavement, displacement, trauma.
  • Civilians of countries engaged in war elsewhere also pay a price: Dead or injured loves ones. Money that could have been spent on education, affordable housing, and healthcare.

GET OUT OF NATO

NATO is a military alliance of 28 countries, led by the United States. It is a threat to world peace.

  • NATO has armed forces around the globe.
  • NATO has over two million troops.
  • NATO states account for over 70% of world arms spending.
  • NATO insists on its right to employ nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis.

It is about time Canada left NATO and its war-making policies.

KEEP CANADA OUT OF BMD

The U.S. Missile Defence system (BMD) is an anti-missile system that has been in development since the 1990s. Its stated goal is to defend against nuclear attack by “rogue” states.

It is currently located in a number of countries, including the US, the UK, Denmark, Greenland, and Romania. The US would like this system to be everywhere.

In 2005, the Liberal government of Paul Martin said “no” to joining BMD. The following were some of the reasons:

  • The viability of the program is unproven.
  • It would cost Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars.
  • The name “missile defence” is a misnomer, as the system is, in effect, a weapons development program and would lead to a new arms race.
  • It would not contribute to world peace or security.

These reasons still stand. The Liberal government of Justin Trudeau should also say “no” to joining BMD and start saying “yes” to working for peace.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

  • Let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau know that ●you do not want Canada to join the US Ballistic Missile Defence system; and that ●you want Canada to work for peace in Iraq and Syria, as well as in Ukraine; and that ●you also want Canada to get out of NATO: justintrudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-922-4211.
  • Send the same message to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Minister of International Affairs Stephane Dion: sajjan@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-7052 stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca or 613-996-5789
  • Ask your MP to hold a “public consultation” on the Defence Policy Review. Also ask him where he stands on this review:  Ralph Goodale: goodale@parl.gc.ca or 613-947-1153; Andrew Scheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4593; Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-9115.
  • Join Making Peace Vigil or another peace group. For information on Regina peace groups, email makingpeace@sasktel.net
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COLONIALISM NO MORE! REGINA SOLIDARITY CAMP

Posted by strattof on May 25, 2016

Perhaps you’ve seen it. For more than a month, the Colonialism No More Solidarity Camp has been outside the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) offices at 1827 Albert Street.

The Solidarity Camp was set up on April 18, following INAC occupations in Toronto, Winnipeg, Gatineau, and Vancouver, in response to news of the youth suicide crisis in Attawapiskat. The camp is occupied day and night.

An autonomous group, the Regina Solidarity Camp calls for

  • An end to band-aid solutions to the state of perpetual crisis facing First Nations across Canada—including overcrowded and substandard housing; drinking water advisories; underfunded education, child welfare, and healthcare programs; as well as youth suicide.
  • A commitment to face the real issue: COLONIALISM.

COLONIALISM NO MORE! SOLIDARITY CAMP STATEMENT: APRIL 19 2016

This camp was set up on Treaty Four territory in solidarity with the requests of Attawapiskat youth. They know what they need and they need to be listened to. This camp is an autonomous group of individuals who come together under one banner: COLONIALISM—NO MORE!

Attawapiskat is in crisis as are hundreds of other First Nations in Canada. Flying out to one community, and acting like that will solve the problem is wrong, and it is a showy distraction from the real problem: COLONIZATION. From broken Treaty promises to the latest election promises, Indigenous peoples are left waiting as the government works in crisis mode. Always working through Band-Aid logics, the government is always treating the symptoms and not the root cause. The root cause is:

  • 500+ years of colonialism.
  • Not listening to the communities and what they need.
  • Not recognizing the right to self-determination.
  • Not honouring the spirit and intent of the treaties.

We ask that you join us in resistance to ongoing colonialism.

COLONIAL AMNESIA

Many Canadians, including former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, believe Canada is not, and has never been, a colonial state. In Harper’s words, Canada “has no history of colonialism.”

How, then, do we account for:

  • The 1876 Indian Act which enshrines white settler domination and supremacy and Indigenous subjugation?
  • The forced dispossession, displacement, and containment of Indigenous peoples under Canada’s reserve and pass systems—systems that made Indigenous lands available for European settlement?
  • The genocidal residential school system, for which Harper himself apologized?

COLONIALISM TODAY

Canadian colonialism is not only a historical fact. It is also a present reality.

  • White settler supremacy remains intact. In education, housing, employment, the justice system—indeed, almost everywhere in Canadian society—whiteness is an advantage and Indigenous identity a disadvantage.
  • Indigenous people are 10 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous people. As Maclean’s puts it, “justice is not blind. At every step—from arrest to trial to sentencing—Canada’s justice system is set against Indigenous people…. Prisons are the new residential schools” (Feb 20 2016).
  • Canada’s dispossession of Indigenous peoples is ongoing, as the Canadian state continues to grant corporate access to Indigenous land and resources.

SOLIDARITY CAMP DEMANDS

The camp has a number of short-term and long-term demands.

Short term demands include:

  1. That Regina’s Albert Street INAC office unlock its doors and resume services to the public: This demand was met after the doors had been locked for nine days.
  2. That INAC administrators meet with the camp: To date, there have been four meetings.
  3. That data on conditions for Saskatchewan First Nations—drinking water, housing, health, education, child welfare—be made easily available to the public: INAC has provided some of this information to the camp, including data on drinking water, housing, and health. 

Long term demands include:

  1. That the true spirit and intent of the Treaties be upheld.
  2. That the Treaty rights of urban, off-reserve Indigenous peoples be respected and upheld.
  3. That the Indian Act be revoked.

SUPPORT THE SOLIDARITY CAMP

Camp members are not planning on leaving anytime soon. They have already weathered scorching heat, freezing temperatures, driving rain, and gale force winds. They are prepared for the long-haul—until they get concrete action on more of their demands.

But they need our support. Here’s how we can help:

  • Bring sandwiches or soup or stew to the camp. Fruit is also always welcome.
  • Drop by the camp and hang-out for a while.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SOLIDARITY CAMP

email: colonialismnomore@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Colonialism-No-More-Solidarity

We need poverty to end. We need suicides to end. We need clean water. We need adequate housing. We need, finally, for there to be justice. And we need to do this together. This camp is modelling that.”—Su Deranger, camp member, from a video made at the camp’s May Day BBQ by Miranda Hanus

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HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY MAKING PEACE VIGIL

Posted by strattof on May 12, 2016

Today, May 12, MAKING PEACE VIGIL is celebrating its 9th birthday. Every Thursday, from noon to 12:30 pm, we stand on the corner of Scarth Street and 11th Avenue handing out pamphlets with a message of peace and justice.

We haven’t missed a week in 9 years. If for nothing else, we get full marks for stubborn perseverance.

  • Thanks so much for taking our pamphlets.
  • A special thank you to those who have stopped and discussed issues with us.
  • Let us know what other issues you would like us to examine.
  • Should you ever be free on a Thursday at noon, please join us.

P   E   A   C   E

WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE–Jimi Hendrix 

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or under the holy name of liberty or democracy?–Mahatma Gandhi 

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.–Albert Einstein 

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.–Harry Patch, Britian’s last surviving World War I veteran 

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.–Martin Luther King 

All we are saying is give peace a chance.–John Lennon 

You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb the world to peace.–Michael Franti 

J   U   S   T   I   C   E

Our motto should be: let us make peace so that we can concentrate on the really important work that needs to be done. That is, alleviating the plight of the poor and the defenceless, for as long as most of humanity feels the pain of poverty we all remain prisoners.–Nelson Mandela 

If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.–George Monbiot

W E   A R E   T H E   9 9 %–Occupy Movement

Let us all eat cake!–Making Peace Vigil

He who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us.–The Prophet Muhammad 

Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. House the homeless.–from the Christian corporal works of mercy 

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.–Dr. Seuss 

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.–Arundhati Roy

3 PEACE & JUSTICE FILMS AT REGINA PUBLIC LIBRARY, CENTRAL LIBRARY, LORNE ST & 12th AVE 

1 WHERE TO INVADE NEXT—A NEW FILM BY MICHAEL MOORE: THURSDAY MAY 12 – SUNDAY MAY 15

Funny, but also serious, Moore’s new film explores what the USA can learn from other countries, such as Tunisia, Finland, France, and Italy. Ultimately hopeful, the film offers many down-to-earth ideas for change. Canada can also learn from this film.

7 pm Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. 9:15 pm Friday. 

2 REQUIEM FOR AN AMERICAN DREAM—FEATURING NOAM CHOMSKY: FRIDAY MAY 27 – SUNDAY MAY 29

Noam Chomsky — widely regarded as the most important intellectual alive — unpacks the principles that have brought the US to the crossroads of historically unprecedented inequality, tracing a half-century of policies designed to favour the most wealthy at the expense of the majority. Canada is also experiencing increasing inequality.

9 pm Friday. 7 pm Saturday, Sunday.

3 TRICK OR TREATY: THURSDAY JUNE 23 – SUNDAY JUNE 27

This feature documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin (Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance) profiles Indigenous leaders in their quest for justice as they seek to establish dialogue with the Canadian government. By tracing the history of their ancestors since the signing of Treaty No. 9, these leaders aim to raise awareness about issues vital to First Nations and settler Canadians.

7 pm Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. 9 pm Friday.

 

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MOTHER’S DAY FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE

Posted by strattof on May 5, 2016

In North America, Mother’s Day comes from an anti-war Mother’s Day Proclamation written in 1870 by US suffragette, abolitionist, and peace activist Julia Ward Howe. 

Horrified by the carnage of the American Civil War, Howe became a crusader for peace and for the equality of all people, regardless of race, religion, or gender.

Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation calls on women everywhere to rise up against war. As a passage from it shows, Howe’s original words are as relevant in 2016 as they were in 1870: 

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,

Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!  

 

Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience.

We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

 

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.

It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

It is not too late to answer Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day call for world peace and justice.

CANADA AT WAR

ENDLESS WAR

  • Canada has been almost continuously at war in Muslim countries since 2003: Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria.
  • In 2014, mere months after bringing the last soldiers home from Afghanistan, the Harper government committed Canada to military action in Iraq.
  • In April 2015, the Harper government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq for another 12 months, until March 2016, and expanded it into Syria.
  • In March 2016, the Trudeau government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria for another 12 months, until March 2017, and budgeted it over a three-year period to 2019.

CANADIAN INJUSTICE

THE TRUTH

The result of a six-year study of the history and legacy of Indian residential schools, which included archival research and the testimony of 6,750 residential school survivors, this damning report documents

  • The brutal truth about Canada’s residential school system;
  • The appalling treatment of Indigenous children at the schools;
  • The far-reaching consequences of the abuses; and
  • The continuation of the abuse today.

The report also tells us what we must do to repair this historical and on-going wrong.

RECONCILIATION

Reconciliation requires individual and collective action. Here are three key recommendations from the TRC report:

30 Reduce the number of Indigenous children in care.

43. Fully adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

62. Make teaching about residential schools and Indigenous history mandatory in the public education system, K – 12.

WALK FOR PEACE & JUSTICE: A JANE’S WALK LED BY PEACEQUEST REGINA 

When:             Saturday May 7, 3 – 4:30 pm

Where:           Meet at Knox-Met, corner of Lorne & Victoria

What:             Did you know that, in the 1950s, a landmark Regina hotel refused to rent a room to Paul Robeson? The walk will visit a number of downtown Regina locations associated with issues of peace and justice in order to remember the past, examine the present, and look to a more just and peaceful future.

EVERYONE IS WELCOME

 

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WORKERS’ RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS

Posted by strattof on May 5, 2016

The last week in April and the first week in May offer a chance to reflect on the struggles facing working people in Canada.  

Today, April 28, is Canada’s National Day of Mourning for Workers Injured or Killed on the Job.

 Next Monday, May 1st, is recognized around the world as International Workers’ Day, commemorating the struggle for a standard eight-hour work day.

WORKERS FACE MANY CHALLENGES 

DANGEROUS WORKPLACES

  • In 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 919 workplace deaths occurred, or 2.5 deaths every single day. Among the dead were 13 workers aged 15 – 19, and 25 workers aged 20 – 24. 
  • In the same year, 239,643 claims were accepted for lost time due to work-related injury or disease. 
  • This month, a Saskatchewan company (Big Sky Farms) was ordered to pay a $98,000 fine in connection with a 2014 workplace fatality, during which a worker was thrown from the cab of a tractor. Workers have a right to safe workplaces. 

LOST JOBS

  • According to Stats Canada, Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate has risen. 5,300 fewer people were working in March of this year than in March of last year. 
  • Also in March, the unemployment rate for First Nations was 23.7 per cent. 
  • This month, the Leader-Post reported this: “On a month-to- month basis, Saskatchewan saw the biggest percentage increase in EI recipients among the provinces in February, increasing 3.5 per cent to 16,740 from 16,170 in January.” Workers who wish to work have a right to employment.

LOWER BENEFITS & WAGES

  • Changes to Employment Insurance in the 1990s still leave many workers ineligible for assistance. Fewer than half who pay into the system are eligible to collect from a system they paid into.
  • Long waiting periods for benefits mean some people can’t pay their bills. Particularly vulnerable are part-timers, the self-employed, and mothers on maternity leave.
  • Right Now, the most recent federal budget has left workers in southern Saskatchewan out of an extension of EI benefits. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan’s minimum wage is $10.50/hour. Many jurisdictions in North America, including California and New York, are moving towards a $15/hour minimum wage, as part of the #FightFor15 campaign. Workers have a right to a liveable wage and fair benefits. 

WORKERS’ RIGHTS NEED DEFENDING

  • In January 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Saskatchewan’s Essential Services Act violated workers’ Charter rights, after a long legal battle in which the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour played a major part. The court found that the right to strike is a constitutional right.
  • The government subsequently negotiated changes to the act, together with representatives of the labour movement.
  • Right Now, workers’ struggles go on here in Regina. At the Best Western Hotel on North Albert, workers—many of them new Canadians—remain on strike after many months. Meanwhile, efforts continue to organize sessional lecturers at First Nations University of Canada, who are paid much less than their colleagues at the University of Regina, who do the same work. Workers deserve to have their collective bargaining and basic human rights respected.

TAKE ACTION

 

 

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