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Archive for December, 2016

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR THE CITY OF REGINA

Posted by strattof on December 29, 2016

6 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: WHAT REGINA CITY COUNCIL CAN DO TO MAKE REGINA A BETTER PLACE FOR ALL WHO DWELL HERE 

1. Take action to eliminate homelessness.

Regina is experiencing a homelessness crisis, with more and more people relying on the shelter system, living on the street, double-bunking, or couch-surfing.

How did this happen? Rents went through the roof. Since 2006, they have doubled and they are still going up. People lost and continue to lose their housing.

During the municipal eletion, Mayor Michael Fougere repeatedly spoke of ending homelessness in Regina. In his own words: “We need to provide more housing and we need to end homelessness. Those are the major things I want to see happen.” These are encouraging words.

The City of Regina cannot solve all Regina’s housing problems, but there are measures the city can take that will go some way to addressing our city’s homelessness crisis. Here are two of them:

a) Allocate annually the equivalent of 20% of the Regina Police Service operating budget to affordable rental housing. For 2017, that would amount to about $15 million. Eliminating homelessness is a crime reduction strategy.

b) Work with the business community to purchase Sears Warehouse, and, with the help of NGOs and volutneer citizens, convert it into affordabe rental housing.

2. Bann the cosmetic use of pesticides.

Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned the cosmetic use of pesticides. But not Regina. Here it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides in parks and on lawns and gardens. The city itself uses 2,4-D and Round Up.

According to the Canadian Cancer society, “Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, breast, brain, prostate… and other forms of cancer have all been linked to pesticides.”

3. Act on all the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action that apply to municipalities.

Kudos to the City of Regina for acting on call to action #75 and designating the Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery as Municipal Heritage Property.

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 Peoples 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.

One small step the City of Regina could take toward answering these calls would be to sponsor the Kairos Blanket Exercise in Victoria Park to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.

Learn about the Blanket Exercise: kairosblanketexercise.org

4. Increase Regina Transit’s operating budget.

Public transit is the solution to many of our local problems—traffic congestion, the scarcity and cost of downtown parking—as well as part of the answer to a major gobal problem, climate change:

  • Transit cuts carbon emissions.
  • One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road. 

5. Join the Mayors For Peace movement

Mayors For Peace is an initiative of the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only cities ever to have experienced the terrible effects of nuclear warfare. Its goal is the abolition of nuclear weapons.

7,196 cities have already joined the movement. They include 105 Canadian cities—among them Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg.

In April 2016, Mayor Michael Fougere was invited to join Mayors For Peace. Nine months later, he still has the matter “under consideration.”

6. Adopt 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 2016, Council voted to postpone making a decision.

What kind of City Council does not want its city’s citizens to have a healthy environment? 144 other Canadian municipal governments have already passed the Blue Dot resolution.

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NO NEW PIPELINES

Posted by strattof on December 8, 2016

Last week the Trudeau government approved two new tar sands pipelines: the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Together they will increase pipeline capacity by about 1 million barrels of oil per day.

In making this decision, Prime Minister Trudeau privileged the interests of the fossil fuel industry over the concerns of Indigenous peoples, ordinary Canadians across the country, and climate scientists. He also broke three of his election promises:

  1. To make Canada a world climate leader.
  2. To overhaul the National Energy Board’s environmental assessment process before considering any more pipelines.
  3. To implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to build a nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations.

For all our sake, we need to stop these pipelines!

PIPELINE BASICS

LINE 3

  • Line 3 will carry tar sands crude from Hardisty Alberta to Superior Wisconsin for transport to refinery markets in the US.
  • Line 3 crosses Saskatchewan, passing through Treaty 6 and Treaty 4 territories. It also passes just a few kilometres south of Regina and transits or runs near a number of farms, towns, waterways, and First Nations.
  • Line 3 will replace a pipeline constructed in the 1960s, doubling its capacity from 360,000 to 760,000 barrels a day.
  • Line 3 is owned by Enbridge, a Calgary-based corporation. Enbridge includes among its shareholders all major Canadian banks: RBC, BMO, TD, CIBC, and Bank of Nova Scotia.

TRANS MOUNTAIN

  • Trans Mountain will carry tar sands crude from Edmonton Alberta to Burnaby BC for export by tankers to Asia.
  • Trans Mountain crosses 15 First Nations, Jasper National Park, and many waterways. It also runs directly under a number of schools, residential neighbourhoods, and shopping centres.
  • Trans Mountain will almost triple the pipeline’s capacity, increasing it from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of crude a day.
  • Trans Mountain will also quadruple the number of tar sands tankers to more than 400 a year in Burrard Inlet. Each tanker can carry up to one million barrels of crude oil.
  • Trans Mountain is owned by Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based corporation. Like Enbridge, Kinder Morgan includes among its shareholders all major Canadian banks.

ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN

Pipelines are accidents waiting to happen. More than a 100 significant spills occur every year. One of those spills occurred last summer in Northern Saskatchewan, dumping 1,572 barrels of tar sands oil into the North Saskatchewan River.

Like all pipeline companies, Enbridge and Kinder Morgan claim their pipelines are safe. Their safety records tell a different story.

  • Enbridge is responsible for the largest onshore spill in US history. In 2010 an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in Michigan, spilling 27,000 barrels of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River.
  • Since purchasing the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2005, Kinder Morgan has been responsible for four major spills in BC.

Oil spills contaminate water, land, and air. They also kill wildlife and sicken people. Tar sands oil is particularly toxic as it must be thinned with thousands of chemicals to make it run through a pipe.

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS

The Line 3 and Trans Mountain pipelines are environmental hazards. Both will expand tar sands production.

  • Tar sands production poisons the water, air, land, and people in surrounding First Nations communities.
  • Tar sands development is the single biggest contributor to the growth of carbon emissions in Canada, thus driving dangerous climate change.
  • 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded—until 2015 beat it by a wide margin. Now 2016 is on track to set another heat record.
  • Climate scientists warn that, if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must leave at least 85% of tar sands oil in the ground.

EARTH PROTECTORS

Indigenous communities have taken the lead in opposing pipe-lines. The original caretakers of this land, they are determined to protect it, and the entire planet, from environmental destruction.

  • First Nations across Canada have been saying “no” to tar sands development and tar sands pipelines for years.
  • Calling themselves protectors (rather than “protesters”), thousands of Indigenous peoples from across the Americas said “no” to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock ND. Earlier this week, they succeeded in halting the pipeline.

WE ALL MUST BE EARTH PROTECTORS!

TAKE ACTION

Tell Prime Minister Trudeau

  • That saying “yes” to pipelines is saying “yes” to climate catastrophe.
  • That climate leaders do not approve new tar sands pipelines.

Also let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want his government

  • To overhaul the National Energy Board’s environmental assessment process as promised and then to review the Line 3 and Trans Mountain pipeline projects.
  • To implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to “free, prior, and informed consent.”

justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.

Ask your bank if it has investments in Enbridge or Kinder Morgan.

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ANTI-MUSLIM RACISM

Posted by strattof on December 4, 2016

DEFINITION

Anti-Muslim racism, also known as Islamophobia, is hostility toward Islam and Muslims or discrimination against or fear of Islam and Muslims.

RECENT EXAMPLES

  • The attempt by the Harper government to prohibit women wearing a niqab from becoming Canadian citizens 
  • The June 2016 attack on a Muslim woman, who was punched and spat on while she shopped with her four-month-old son in London Ontario 
  • The demonization of Islam as excessively or uniquely sexist, misogynistic, or oppressive of women

ISLAMOPHOBIA: MORE EXAMPLES

INTERNATIONAL

  • The banning of the full-body bathing suit or burkini by a number of French municipalities
  • Donald Trump’s call for all Muslims to be banned from the US
  • Britain’s Brexit vote

NATIONAL

  • The Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, passed into law by the Harper government and supported by the Liberals: It’s still law.
  • The online Care2 petition, which garnered 50,000 signatures, asking the Trudeau government to “stop resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada”
  • Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s proposal to screen immigrants to Canada for “anti-Canadian values”
  • A CBC-Angus Reid poll that found 68% of Canadians agree with Kellie Leitch and think “minorities should do more to fit in better with mainstream Canadian society” 

LOCAL

  • Talk show host John Gormley’s tweet encouraging the murder of Muslims
  • Premier Brad Wall’s identification of Syrian refugees with terrorism
  • The Soldiers of Odin, an anti-immigrant street patrol group, patrolling the streets of Regina

ISLAMOPHOBIA: CONSEQUENCES

Anti-Muslim rhetoric—the promotion of fear and hatred of Muslims—has very real consequences, laying the ground work for anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents. Such crimes and incidents have increased around the country, putting Muslim Canadians at risk of random acts of violence. Recent examples include:

  • Anti-Muslim posters plastered around the University of Calgary
  • A Hamilton mosque set on fire
  • A physical assault on a pregnant Muslim woman in Montreal
  • An attack on a niqab-wearing woman in Toronto
  • Hateful online comments posted to a story about the arrival of a Syrian refugee in Regina

ENDLESS WAR

Endless war against Muslim countries is another consequence of Islamophobia. Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria–Canada has now been at war in Muslim countries for 13 years without a break.

2 ISLAMOPHOBIC STEREOTYPES

  • The oppressed Muslim woman: “While the demonization of Islam and Muslims as exceptionally oppressive [of women] certainly advances the cause of racist stereotyping, it does little to benefit the women in whose interests these sometime champions for equality claim to speak. On the contrary, Muslim women bear a heavy part of the burden of violence and hatred generated by these stereotypes.”—from a column in the Ottawa Citizen, signed by 20 prominent Muslim-Canadian women.
  • The inherently violent Muslim man: Like most non-Muslim men, most Muslim men hold ordinary jobs and value family and friends. They are not any more violent than non-Muslim men. Much of the violence in the world today is directed at Muslims by non-Muslims. 

Such stereotypes are used as justification for western wars in Muslim countries.

  • Hence, we were told that Canada was fighting in Afghanistan in order to liberate Afghan women.
  • Now we are being told the “war on terror” must never end.

TAKE ACTION

  1. Learn more about Islamophobia. Visit the National Council of Canadian Muslim’s website online map of anti-Muslim hate-crimes and incidents: http://www.nccm.ca/map/
  2. Here are the names of four prominent Muslim-Canadian women: Zarqa Nawaz, Monia Mazigh, Rukhsana Khan, Sheema Khan. Are you familiar with them? If not, do a google search.
  3. Read the whole column in the Ottawa Citizen written by 20 prominent Muslim-Canadian women: Google “Ottawa Citizen Islamophobic feminism.”
  4. Read the National Council of Canadian Muslim’s Charter For Inclusive Communities and consider signing it: http://www.nccm.ca/charter/

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MAYORS FOR PEACE

Posted by strattof on December 4, 2016

Mayors For Peace is an initiative of the Mayors of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only cities to have ever experienced the terrible effects of nuclear warfare. In August 1945, the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, instantly killing tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and devastating both cities.

The goal of Mayors For Peace is the abolition of nuclear weapons. 

7,164 cities have already joined the movement. They include 105 Canadian cities—among them Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg. 

In April, Regina’s Mayor Michael Fougere was invited to join Mayors For Peace. Six months later, he still has the matter “under consideration.”

THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WARFARE

71 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear warfare still looms over humanity. The threat will remain as long as nuclear weapons exist.

THE NUMBERS

Nine of the world’s nations are nuclear powers. Together they possess close to 16,000 nuclear weapons, enough to destroy the earth hundreds of times over:

Russia: 7,300

US: 6,970

France: 300

China: 260

UK: 215

Pakistan: 130

India: 120

Israel: 60 – 400

North Korea: 10

 THREE MAJOR NUCLEAR THREATS

  1. The US and Russia, which together account for 93% of the world’s nuclear weapons are the main threat. The two nations are already facing off in Syria and Ukraine. Both are also currently “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals.
  2. NATO, a US-led military alliance which insists on its right to a nuclear first strike, has, since the fall of the Soviet Union, offensively pushed eastward to Russia’s borders to include Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. NATO has also made overtures to Ukraine and Georgia.
  3. A nuclear accident is an ever-present possibility.

NUCLEAR COUNTDOWN

Every year since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set its Doomsday Clock to indicate how close humanity is to destroy-ing itself. This year, scientists have set the clock at three minutes to midnight, in part to reflect the threat of nuclear weapons. (The other major threat to human existence is global warming.)

Time is running out! Producing a concrete plan to eliminate nuclear weapons is an urgent priority.

CANADA & NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Canada is not a nuclear power. However, Canada has been very much involved in nuclear weapons from the beginning.

For example: Canada was the primary source for the uranium for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A Canadian nuclear reactor was used by India to produce plutonium for its first atomic bomb. 

Today, Canada is the world’s second largest producer of uranium, exporting it to the US, Europe, China, and India.

CANADA AT THE UN

Canada’s voting record on nuclear matters at the UN isn’t very pretty either. Just last month, Canada voted twice in support of the nuclear industry.

  1. Canada voted against a UN resolution calling for negotiations on a global treaty banning nuclear weapons. The official explanation for the vote is “that the most effective approach to nuclear disarmament is an incremental process” (Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs). A more likely reason is support for NATO and its reliance on nuclear weapons, as well as support for Canada’s uranium industry.
  2. Canada abstained on a UN resolution that draws attention to the health and environmental risks posed by depleted uranium (DU) weaponry. Canadian uranium is the source of much of the DU weaponry the US used in Iraq. The US recently admitted that it has also used DU weaponry in Syria.

THE PEACE SYMBOL

The peace symbol was designed in the 1950s for the nuclear disarmament movement. It is based on semaphore signals for the letters N and D, which, when put together, make the shape at the centre of the peace symbol.

Make a peace symbol as a reminder of the need to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Any surface will do: snow, a sidewalk, cookies, cloth—the possibilities are endless.

TAKE ACTION

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