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Archive for July, 2016

MAKING WAR: CANADA’S FOREIGN POLICY UNDER TRUDEAU

Posted by strattof on July 28, 2016

During the election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated that, under the Liberals, Canada would turn away from the Harper government’s legacy of war-making and instead work to bring peace to the world’s war-ravaged regions.

While Trudeau sounds less belligerent than his predecessor, his government is, sadly, not working for peace. Instead it is making more war. For example:

  • In March, the Trudeau government extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria for another 12 months and tripled the number of troops on the ground.
  • In April, the Trudeau government approved the $15 billion deal made by the Harper government to sell combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
  • Earlier this month, the Trudeau government committed to sending troops to Latvia as part of a new NATO force to deter “Russian aggression.”

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

IRAQ & SYRIA

EXPANSION OF WAR

Kudos to the Trudeau government for keeping its election promise to stop Canadian bombing in Syria. Unfortunately, this (apparent) move towards peace is undermined by the government’s expansion of the scope, as well as the length, of Canada’s military mission in the region.

For example:

  • Ground troops: The Trudeau government first tripled the number of Canadian troops on the ground to a total of 600 and then increased the number again to 830. These are Canadian soldiers who train Iraqi soldiers to kill.
  • Military helicopters: The Trudeau government has sent three military helicopters to Iraq to support Canadian ground troops.
  • Deadly weapons: The Trudeau government is providing Iraqi forces with weapons, including machine guns and mortars.

FUTILITY OF WAR

Will western military operations in Iraq and Syria bring about any good outcome? Have the first 13 years of the so-called “war on terror” had a beneficial outcome?

  • Descent into murderous chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya
  • The emergence of Daesh, otherwise known as ISIS, in Iraq, a direct result of the 2003 US-led occupation of Iraq
  • Immense human suffering

POLAND & THE BALTIC STATES

Rather than working for peace, the Trudeau government continues to support NATO, an aggressive military alliance which perpetrates violence across the entire globe.

  • In June, Canada participated in a massive NATO military exercise in Poland and the Baltic states, all part of the former Soviet Union.
  • Earlier this month, Prime Minister Trudeau committed to an open-ended NATO military mission in Latvia, a state that shares a border with Russia.

UKRAINE

Rather than seeking a peaceful resolution to hostilities between Ukraine and Russia, the Trudeau government is fanning the flames of war.

  • In March, the Trudeau government extended Canada’s support for Ukrainian armed forces for another year.
  • Also in March, the Trudeau government expanded the econ-omic sanctions placed on Russia by the Harper government.
  • Earlier this month, Prime Minister Trudeau signed a free-trade agreement, negotiated by the Harper government, that may allow Canada to export weapons to Ukraine.

NATO

What started the conflict and tension in Eastern Europe? According to most western leaders, it was precipitated by Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

It is not quite that simple. Left out of this version of events is the role of NATO in initiating the crisis.

NATO PROVOCATION

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO has been expanding eastward to Russia’s borders.

  • In 1999, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic became NATO members.
  • In 2004, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania joined NATO.
  • NATO has also made overtures to Georgia and Ukraine.

ARMS DEALS

With the $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, Canada became the world’s second largest exporter of arms to the Middle East. The Trudeau government also continues to sell arms to China, as well as to the US, “the most warlike country on earth,” according to former president Jimmy Carter. Today, Canada is the sixth largest military exporter in the world, up from 10th place in 2014.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to stop making war in Iraq and Syria and Eastern Europe; to start making diplomatic peacemaking our top international priority; to get out of NATO; and to stop selling arms: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.
  • Send the same message to Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion:

Harjit.Sajjan@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-7052

stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca or 613-996-5789.

  • Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a sidewalk using chalk; your garden using flowers or rocks; a cake using icing. Take a photo of your peace symbol and email it to makingpeace@sasktel.net You will, in return, receive a peace gift and become eligible to win a major peace prize.

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I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF…

Posted by strattof on July 23, 2016

This Saturday, July 23, is I Love Regina Day. First observed in 2002, I Love Regina Day is an occasion for celebrating our city and its achievements.

It is also a good time to think about the changes we need to bring about in our city to make life better for all Regina citizens.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

CITY COUNCIL ADOPTED A LIVING WAGE POLICY.

In May, City Council voted to delay until 2017 any decision on councilor Shawn Fraser’s motion that the city adopt a living wage policy for city employees. In the words of Mayor Michael Fougere, such a policy is “premature.”

A living wage is the amount two working parents, with two children, need each to earn to meet the family’s basic needs and ensure it does not slip into poverty. Regina’s living wage is calculated to be $16.46 per hour.

By contrast, Saskatchewan’s minimum wage is $10.50 per hour—a poverty level wage.

Many US cities and some Canadian cities, including Port Coquitlam and New Westminster, have adopted a living wage.

Regina should follow suit. After all, our city pays 700 city employees in senior positions $100,000 or more! (Mayor Fougere is a member of this six-figure salary club.) The living wage should also be extended to cover employees of firms contracting with the city and then to all workers in Regina and the province.

 I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

CITY COUNCIL ADOPTED THE BLUE DOT MOVEMENT’S DECLARATION OF CITIZENS’ RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT.

The Blue Dot refers to planet earth, as seen from outer space. The Movement is an initiative of the David Suzuki foundation.

When the Blue Dot motion calling on the City of Regina to respect citizens’ right to a healthy environment came before Regina City Council in January, Council voted to postpone making a decision.

What kind of city does not want its citizens to have a healthy environment? 125 other Canadian municipal governments have already passed the Blue Dot resolution.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

REGINA POLICE SERVICE BANNED CARDING.

Carding—also known as street checks—is the police practice of randomly stopping people for questioning when there is no valid reason for doing so.

Statistics show that so-called “random” stops always end up targeting racialized and marginalized people. Moreover, the information elicited gets entered into a police data base where it stays indefinitely and becomes the basis for further police harassment.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

THE CITY MADE A FIRM COMMITMENT TO ACT ON ALL THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION CALLS TO ACTION THAT PERTAIN TO MUNICIPALITIES.

Kudos to the City of Regina for unanimously approving Mayor Fougere’s motion to begin acting on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

However, the Mayor’s directive to administration that it focus its attention on three areas—the Regina Indian Industrial School, the formation of a Diversity and Inclusion committee, and the inclusion of First Nations culture in the creative side of the city—seriously limits the effectiveness of the motion.

The TRC report contains a number of other calls to action that apply to municipalities. For example:

# 43: Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as the framework for reconciliation.

# 57: Provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools.

# 62: Make curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for K-12 students.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE

Join the I’d Love Regina More campaign. Let Mayor Michael Fougere and your City Councillor know what they could do to make you love Regina more.

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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CANADA: A MINING GIANT

Posted by strattof on July 7, 2016

Canada is a superpower in the global mining industry, with 75% of the world’s mining companies headquartered in Canada. Some of the mines owned by these companies are located in Canada, while others are in the Global South. Together, they contribute over $50 billion annually to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product.

A number of these mining companies have been irresponsible in their mining practices, leading to environmental degradation. Some have also been implicated in major human rights violations. Their practices include:

  • Developing mines without adequate consultation and in violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples
  • Doing irreparable environmental damage
  • Engaging in corrupt practices and intimidation tactics
  • Contributing directly or indirectly to violence
  • Plundering resources without adequate compensation

IRRESPONSIBLE MINING: TWO CANADIAN EXAMPLES

  1. HUDBAY 

FLIN FLON MANITOBA

For over 85 years, HudBay smelted copper in Flin Flon in what Mining Watch Canada describes as “one of the dirtiest facilities in Canada in terms of emissions.” When studies showed a high concentration of heavy metals in the soil and vegetables in the Flin Flon area and elevated levels of lead in the blood of children, HudBay claimed that health risks were “negligible.” As HudBay also said, everything it did was legal.

In 2010, after the federal government tightened environmental regulations, HudBay closed down the smelter. While residents of Flin Flon are no longer breathing in pollutants, they are still being exposed to toxins through dust, soil, and food grown locally.

MATHIAS COLUMB CREE NATION

Without the consent of the Mathias Columb Cree Nation, HudBay has been operating on their territory for almost a century, harvesting billions of tonnes of copper with no compensation and polluting the land and water. In 2014, when the community held protest rallies, HudBay filed a court injunction banning community members from anywhere HudBay has an interest and filing a $400 million lawsuit.

EL ESTOR, GUATEMALA

Indigenous Guatemalans are currently suing HudBay over human rights abuses:

  • The gang-rape of 11 women by mining company security personnel, police, and military personnel during the forced eviction from their homes and farms in 2007
  • The brutal murder of Adolfo Ich, a community leader and teacher who was hacked by machetes and shot by mining company security in 2009
  • The shooting and paralyzing of German Chub by mining company security in 2009

The case is currently before Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice. It is the first time such a case has been heard in Canada.

BARRICK GOLD

Headquartered in Toronto, Barrick Gold is the world’s largest gold mining company, with mines on five continents. Like HudBay, Barrick has built up a legacy of environmental crimes, human rights violations, and abusive legal tactics. For example:

PORGERA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • Barrick’s Porgera mine dumps more than 16,000 tons of toxic waste into the Porgera River, every day. Indigenous peoples rely on the river for drinking water and bathing.
  • The mine has three vast dumps of waste rock that cover large tracts of land, reducing the amount of land available for farming.
  • Women and girls living near the mine have been brutally raped by Barrick security guards.
  • Over the past decade, these same guards have killed up to 14 men living in the area.

CANADA

  • In 2010, Barrick Gold threatened to sue the publisher and authors of Imperial Canada Inc. for “substantial damages” if publication of the book went ahead. The book examines “the harmful consequences of [Canada’s] ultra-permissive laws regarding the extractive industry.” The book was, after some delay, published.

CANADIAN IMPERIALISM

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Trudeau claimed that Canada is “without some of the baggage that so many other Western countries have — either colonial pasts or perceptions of American imperialism.”

In fact, when it comes to mining (as well as in a multitude of other ways), Canada has plenty of both kinds of baggage.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CANADIAN MINING COMPANIES

  • Watch Flin Flon Flim Flam, a movie about Hudbay, a mining company headquartered in Flin Flon, Manitoba, available on you tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7aacPtEI8s
  • Visit the website of Mining Watch Canada: http://miningwatch.ca/
  • Read Imperial Canada Inc.: Legal Haven of Choice for the World’s Mining Industries, by Alain Deneault and William Sacher, available at Regina Public Library

 

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