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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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NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY

Posted by strattof on June 19, 2016

Tuesday, June 21st, is NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY. First celebrated in 1996, it is a day for Canadians to recognize the cultures and achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and their contributions to Canadian society.

National Aboriginal Day is also a good time to think about the dismal and ongoing legacy of colonialism and racism here in Saskatchewan and across Canada, as well as to remember all the Treaty promises that were made and have been broken.

WE ARE ALL TREATY PEOPLE

All Canadians benefit from the treaties signed between First Nations and the Crown. Regina, for example, is situated on the traditional territory of the Nehiyawak (Cree), Anishanaabe (Saulteaux), Nakota (Assiniboine), Dakota, Lakota, and Métis Nations—an area referred to by many today as Treaty 4 territory.

  • Treaty 4 was negotiated on a nation-to nation basis by the Canadian government and the Nehiyawak, Anishanaabe, and Nakota Nations. It was signed by the Nehiyawak and Anishanaabe in 1874 and by the Nakota in 1877.
  • Under Treaty 4, the Nehiyawak, Anishanaabe, and Nakota Nations agreed to share the land and resources of what is current-day southern Saskatchewan with the new-comers.
  • In return, the Canadian government made long-term commitments in a number of areas, including child welfare, education, housing, health, and water.
  • Treaty Commissioner, Alexander Morris, promised the Treaty would last “as long as the sun shines and the water flows.”
  • For the past 141 years the Nehiyawak, Anishanaabe, and Nakota Nations have kept their side of the Treaty 4 agreement. By contrast, the Canadian government, to whom the Crown entrusted its treaty responsibilities, has failed to keep the Treaty promises. 

BROKEN PROMISES: CHILD WELFARE

Last month, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report called Shameful Neglect: Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada. The figures are indeed shameful. They are also horrifying.

  • 51% of First Nations children live in poverty in Canada.
  • The poverty rate rises to 60% for children who live on-reserve.
  • The numbers are even worse for Saskatchewan, where 69% of on-reserve First Nations children live in poverty, the second highest on-reserve child poverty rate in Canada.
  • Saskatchewan also has the second highest rate of Indigenous child poverty off-reserve: 36%.
  • At the same time, Saskatchewan has the lowest non-Indigenous child poverty rate of any province: 13%.

BROKEN PROMISES: EDUCATION

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS: 1884 – 1996

Under Treaty 4, the government promised “to maintain a school on the reserve allotted to each band, as soon as they settle on said reserve.” Instead, the government implemented the genocidal residential school system.

All students at residential schools experienced cultural abuse. As is now well-known, many students were also subjected to physical and sexual abuse. The mortality rate at many schools was high—caused by overcrowding, poor food and sanitation.

ON-RESERVE SCHOOLS 2016

  • Some First Nations still do not have schools.
  • A child who attends school on-reserve receives 33% – 50% less funding than a child in a provincial school.
  • Many on-reserve schools are in poor condition and present health concerns. 

BROKEN PROMISES: HOUSING, WATER, AND HEALTH*

46     Percent of dwellings on Saskatchewan First Nations that are in poor condition

36     Percent of dwellings on Saskatchewan First Nations that are crowded

21     Number of Boil Water Advisories on First Nations water systems in Saskatchewan

30     Percent of First Nations water systems in Saskatchewan that have Boil Water Advisories

15     Number of Boil Water Advisories on Saskatchewan First Nations that have been in place for more than a year

39     TB incidence rate per 100,000 people on Saskatchewan First Nations, as compared to 7.5 cases per 100,000 people in the province as a whole

52     Community Well-Being Index for Saskatchewan First Nations: Scores can range from a low of 0 to a high of 100. Most non-First Nations Saskatchewan communities score in the 80s and 90s.

*Most of the above figures are taken from material provided by the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Office, 1827 Albert Street

YOU ARE INVITED TO

A NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY COMING IN PARTY

6 – 9 pm, TUESDAY JUNE 21

COLONIALISM NO MORE! SOLIDARITY CAMP, 1827 ALBERT STREET

Decolonize Gender & Sexuality: A Coming-In Party (Because Tipis Don’t have Closets)

Free supper, provided by Spring Free From Racism

A dry event—no alcohol. All Ages/Family Friendly

Diversity of gender and sexuality were one of the many casualties of Canada’s colonial imposition on Indigenous peoples. Some Indigenous Nations acknowledged the existence of as many as five diverse genders. Despite overwhelming attempts to extinguish Indigenous and LGTBQ peoples worldwide we prevail!

Join us for healing, celebration, and rewelcoming of all genders and sexualities with our urban Indigenous community. No more genocide! No More Orlandos!

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THE RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT: THIS BLUE DOT IS OUR ONLY HOME

Posted by strattof on August 27, 2015

The Blue Dot refers to planet earth, as seen from outer space. The Blue Dot Movement is an initiative of the David Suzuki Foundation. It aims to see the right to a healthy environment enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

That right includes: ●breathing clean air ●drinking fresh water ●consuming safe food ●knowing about pollutants released into the local environment ●accessing nature ●participating in government decisions that will affect the environment.

As a first step toward achieving this goal, the Blue Dot Movement is calling on all Canadian municipalities to recognize citizens’ right to a healthy environment by making a declaration. Our contribution as citizens is to sign the Blue Dot petition.

77 Canadian municipal governments have already passed resolutions declaring citizens’ right to a healthy environment.

Please sign the Regina Blue Dot petition: http://bluedot.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Petition.pdf

WHY A MUNICIPAL DECLARATION?

  • Declarations are a commitment by municipalities to address local environmental concerns.
  • Municipal governments make decisions that affect the quality of the environment.
  • A municipal declaration is a commitment to principles that will protect, fulfill, and promote the right to a healthy environment.
  • Such a commitment is critical to changing the Charter and seeing legislation that will protect, fulfill, and promote the right to a healthy environment.

REGINA’S UNHEALTHY ENVIRONMENT

Currently, Regina does not have a very healthy environment. Our air is polluted with vehicle exhaust fumes and our parks, lawns, and gardens are contaminated with pesticides.

Some areas of our city—notably Harbour Landing and Somerset—face additional environmental challenges because of their proximity to oil industry operations.

ACHIEVING A HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT: 5 STEPS REGINA CAN TAKE

  1. Reduce the number of cars on the road.
  • Provide Regina Transit with adequate funding so it can improve service and increase ridership. One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road, reducing emissions by more than 12,000 tonnes a year.
  • Increase the number of bike lanes.
  1. Place a city-wide ban on the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes.

Over 170 municipalities have banned the cosmetic use of pesticides. In Regina it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides, like 2,4-D, in parks and on lawns and gardens.The Canadian Cancer Society says “Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing.”

  1. Ban the transport of tar sands oil through the city by rail or pipeline.

►TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline runs through Regina in the Harbour Landing area. ►A rail line runs through the centre of our city. ►Both present serious safety hazards.

  1. Halt the Somerset development.

Located north of Uplands, Somerset is adjacent to the Co-op Refinery. Oil refineries release pollutants that are linked to asthma in children and heart and lung disease in adults. Both Regina-Qu’Appelle Health Region and the provincial Ministry of the Environment oppose the development.

  1. Stop polluting other people’s environment.

Last summer, Regina released 900,000 litres of untreated sewage into the Qu’Appelle watershed. This summer it released 15 million litres. In so doing, Regina has shown total disregard for the well-being of downstream communities.

T A K E   A C T I O N

  1. Learn more about the Blue Dot Movement. There is lots of information online.
  2. Download a petition and start collecting signatures: http://bluedot.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Petition.pdf
  3. Let Mayor Michael Fougere and your City Councillor know you want Regina City Council to pass a resolution declaring citizens’ right to a healthy environment.
  4. Also tell them you want City Council to take steps to make a healthy environment a reality in Regina.

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REMEMBERING HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI 70 YEARS AFTER

Posted by strattof on August 11, 2015

At least as far back as Woodstock in 1969, history has linked folk festivals to the peace movement. This year’s Regina Folk Festival coincides with the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped a uranium bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, it dropped a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki. These bombs instantly killed 225,000 people. Burns, injuries, and radiation poisoning would kill many more by the year’s end.

Canada was the primary source of the uranium for the Hiroshima bomb.

On the 70th anniversary of these horrific events,

  • We remember the victims of the 1945 bombings, as well as all those who have died or been injured since in nuclear accidents or from working in the uranium industry.
  • We call on the Canadian government to ban the mining and export of uranium.

70 YEARS AFTER

70 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear weapons still looms over humanity.

Together with climate change, nuclear weapons pose one of the greatest threats to human survival—and the threat is growing.

The world’s nuclear weapons powers—the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—together possess some 17,000 nuclear warheads. All are expanding or “modernizing” their nuclear weapons programs.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

In April, Canada finalized a nuclear deal with India to ship 3,000 tons of uranium there.

According to the CBC, on the very day the pact was signed, India test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile, signalling its neighbours that “Canada was willing to overlook its obligations under the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] and contribute to global nuclear proliferation.”

At a July press conference in Regina, Premier Wall praised Prime Minister Harper’s efforts to secure the deal.

Yet non-proliferation experts have said the nuclear deal with India seriously undermines global efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, and will spur nuclear proliferation worldwide:

“Even if Canadian uranium is used only for civilian purposes, ‘whatever uranium India produces domestically will now be freed up for a military program,’ says Greg Koblentz of George Mason University in Washington.”

Arms control experts also say Canada’s uranium will end up fuelling the Indian-Pakistan arms race, directly or indirectly.

Arms control experts estimate the Indian arsenal at 90 to 110 warheads, and its weapons program is growing, as are those of all the other nuclear powers.

Writing for the Arms Control Association, Hans Kristensen has said that none of the nuclear powers appears willing to eliminate its weapons in the foreseeable future.

SOME NUCLEAR WEAPONS HISTORY

1940s: Canadian uranium and scientific expertise played a crucial role in the Manhattan Project, the top-secret US plan to create the bombs eventually dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

1968: The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty committed all nuclear weapons states to eliminate their atomic weapons. Canada signed the treaty. India, together with Israel, Pakistan and North Korea are the lone holdouts.

1974: India used Canadian nuclear technology to create its first nuclear weapon.

Today: Most Saskatchewan uranium goes to the US. This uranium supplies much—if not all—of the US military’s depleted uranium (DU) weaponry. International law calls DU weapons—a form of low-level nuclear warfare—Weapons of Mass Destruction. These weapons cause cancer, immune-system failings, kidney damage, and birth defects. The US has used DU weaponry in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, and Kosovo.

Canada should not be exporting uranium to countries that refuse to abide by the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Period.

NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

70 years after the nuclear desolation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the proliferation of nuclear weapons continues.

Exporting uranium and nuclear reactors, Canada—one of the original signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty—has actually helped proliferate nuclear weapons. Here are two other ways in which Canada undermines the treaty:

  • Canada never criticizes US use of depleted uranium weapons, not even in those wars in which Canada serves as a US ally.
  • Hypocritically, Canada never asks Israel to give up its sizable, undeclared arsenal of 80+ nuclear weapons, or to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but continues to call for sanctions on Iran despite the nuclear agreement Iran has reached with major world powers.

ANTI-NUCLEAR FOLKSONGS

I’m only seven although I died

In Hiroshima long ago

I’m seven now as I was then

When children die they do not grow

The Byrds, words by Nazim Hikmet

 

We don’t want no nuclear war

With nuclear war we won’t get far

Peter Tosh

 

Just a little boy standing in the rain,

The gentle rain that falls for years.

And the grass is gone,

The boy disappears,

And rain keeps falling like helpless tears,

And what have they done to the rain?

Malvina Reynolds

HIBAKUSHA WORLDWIDE

The posters some of us are holding are from Hibakusha Worldwide, an exhibition “dedicated to the millions of people whose lives have been affected by the nuclear industry.” For more information, go to: http://www.nuclear-risks.org/en/hibakusha-worldwide.html   

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NUCLEAR DEALS: THE SASKATCHEWAN CONNECTION

Posted by strattof on June 11, 2015

Canada and Saskatchewan proudly boast their role in the global uranium trade.

Saskatchewan’s Premier and Canada’s Prime Minister recently celebrated a deal to sell $350 million worth of uranium to India.

But what is the true cost of the uranium trade to the environment, human health, and humanity’s future?

URANIUM

A natural element, uranium is ‒ in its natural state ‒ weakly radioactive. Beginning in the 20th century, however, scientists learned how to exploit uranium’s radioactive properties to generate electricity and create atomic weapons.

On August 2, 1939, Albert Einstein, aware of uranium’s military potential, warned American President Franklin Roosevelt that German scientists might pursue the goal of a uranium bomb, and suggested the US should seek out resources of its own:

“The United States has only very poor ores of uranium in moderate quantities. There is some good ore in Canada.”

By Canada, Einstein meant Saskatchewan.

According to the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, our province’s uranium played a key role in the Manhattan Project, the US military’s effort to create the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years go in 1945.

Those bombs killed tens of thousands of people. Nuclear or atomic weapons are the worst of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

MINING: ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS AND CLEANUP

Today, Canada is the second-largest producer of uranium in the world (after Kazakhstan), and Saskatchewan is the principal source of Canada’s uranium.

Uranium mining, however, has taken a serious toll on the environment and human health.

In northern Saskatchewan, one mining operation produced 227,000 cubic metres of radioactive tailings (waste material) from 1957-1961. These tailings have leaked into nearby Nero Lake, killing nearly all life within it, and spreading radiation and toxins as they have been blown about by the wind.

According to the Canadian Press, the Saskatchewan government has so far spent $55 million to begin cleanup of this one mining site.

A 2015 article in the Leader-Post said the provincial government “is poised to post a liability of more than $200 million” to clean up another site in northern Saskatchewan.

What will the total cost be to future generations, financially and environmentally? And what could be the cost in human life?

NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY

Although Canada officially stopped exporting uranium for weapons purposes in 1965, and signed the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty, we have continued to export uranium to nuclear-weapons states, thus freeing up other uranium resources for their weapons development.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reports that all nuclear-weapons states to which Canada exports uranium are expanding or modernizing their nuclear arsenals. The US alone plans to spend $350 billion to modernize its arsenal over the coming years.

At the recent Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, Canada joined with the US and the United Kingdom to block a planned conference on creating a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.

RECENT DEAL WITH INDIA

According to the CBC, India fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile just hours after signing a deal to buy 3,000 tons of Canadian (Saskatchewan) uranium:

It’s a sign of India’s confidence that ‒ with the help of Canada ‒ it has finally left behind its status as a rogue nuclear nation and become an accepted member of the nuclear arms establishment.

India exploded its first nuclear bomb in 1974 with the help of Canadian nuclear technology. It continues its nuclear weapons build-up against regional rivals such as Pakistan.

Today, India refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, both of which are aimed at reducing and eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons.

And yet Canada and Saskatchewan celebrate sending 3,000 tons of uranium to India.

RESPONSIBLE CORPORATE CITIZEN?

Defenders of Canada’s uranium trade point to the economic benefits of the mining by uranium giant Cameco.

And yet, according to the Globe & Mail, Cameco estimates it has avoided declaring $4.9-billion in Canadian income, saving it $1.4-billion in taxes, over the last 10 years, by creating an overseas subsidiary to sell Saskatchewan’s uranium.

SASKATCHEWAN’S URANIUM INDUSTRY:

History shows Canada and Saskatchewan are developing uranium resources without fully considering the consequences. Military advantage and corporate profit have far outweighed concerns for environmental health, human well-being, and global peace.

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GO GREEN! LIVE HEALTHY WITHOUT PESTICIDES

Posted by strattof on May 28, 2015

It’s SPRING in Regina! HURRAH!!  But wait! Is that a dandelion I see poking its head up in my pristine green lawn? Not already!! Where is the number for the pesticide company I called last year? 

STOP: Before you dial that number, please consider the following facts: 

  • The Canadian Cancer Society warns against the use of pesticides, citing research that links their use to cancer and other serious health issues. 
  • Dandelions have many health benefits. All parts of the plant – flower, leaves, stem, and root – are edible, highly nutritious, and medicinal.

4 NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF PESTICIDES

  1. Children and unborn babies are at high risk for health problems related to pesticides. These include developmental problems, lower intelligence scores, birth defects, endocrine disruption, asthma, and leukemia, as well as several other types of cancer. Pesticides drift far on the wind and can be breathed in or land on toys, garden food, and clothes. They can also be tracked into the house. Children are particularly vulnerable as their bodies and brains are still developing and their immune system is immature. Older children doing active sports breathe in more air with its burden of toxins.
  2. Seniors are also at high risk. Immune systems and organ functions weaken with age. These systems which help the body deal with toxins are often already overworked by daily medications and chemically grown food. So exposure to pesticides has a more damaging effect.
  3. Pesticide exposure damages the same brain areas as those linked to multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). It is also becoming clear that pesticides are hormone disrupters. Thus long exposure to chemical pesticides can cause cancers such as prostate cancer.
  4. Bees are gravely threatened by pesticides. Bees depend on dandelions, their first spring source of nectar. We depend on pollination by bees for about one-third of our vegetables, fruit, and flowers. Neonicotinoid pesticides are particularly harmful to bees, attacking their nervous system and hence threatening their survival.   

“Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast, brain, prostate, lung, pancreatic, stomach, kidney and other forms of cancer have all been linked to pesticides. Learning disorders, reproductive issues and acute health effects are also associated to pesticides. By eliminating the non-essential use of pesticides, exposure to these harmful chemicals will drastically decrease, contributing to better overall public and environmental health.”Canadian Cancer Society

PESTICIDES IN WASCANA PARK

Wascana Park, officially known as Wascana Centre, is a 9.3 square kilometer urban park located in the heart of our city. Owned by the City of Regina, the University of Regina, and the Province of Saskatchewan, it includes Wascana Pool, the Science Centre, the Legislative Building, the University of Regina, and SIAST.

Every week, from early spring through the fall, the Wascana Centre Authority sprays Wascana Park with pesticides, including RoundUp and 2-4-D, one of the ingredients of Agent Orange.

A recent World Health Organization report warns that glyphosate, the key ingredient of RoundUp, “probably causes cancer” in humans.

2-4-D has also been linked to cancer, as well as to cell damage, hormonal interference, and reproductive problems.

Wascana Centre Authority has confirmed that in 2015 it will continue to include RoundUp and 2-4-D in its spraying program. 

PESTICIDES IN CITY PARKS

  • In 2010, the City of Regina instituted a one-year pilot pesticide reduction project, designating three parks ‒ Gordon Park in southwest Regina, Al Pickard Park in north Regina, and Queen Elizabeth II Court in front of City Hall ‒ as pesticide-free.
  • This experiment, now in its 6th year, has been a success in both economic and aesthetic terms. However, the project has not been expanded to all city parks.
  • Like the Wascana Centre Authority, the City of Regina includes RoundUp and 2-4-D in its spraying program.

TAKE ACTION

  • Banish toxic pesticides from your property.
  • Let the folks at the Wascana Centre Authority know you want them to stop using pesticides for cosmetic purposes:

Bernadette McIntyre, Director: 306-347-1846 or bernadette.mcintyre@wascana.ca

Mike Mamona, Chief Operating Officer: 306-347-1812 ormike.mamona@wascana.ca

  • Let the Mayor and your City Councillor know you want the city to eliminate the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes in all our parks: regina.ca/site/contact/contact-your-city-councillor/ Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned pesticides from both public and private spaces.

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CANADA AT W AR

Posted by strattof on April 23, 2015

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the first Canadian engagement in the battlefields of World War I, “the war to end all wars.” Fought for control of the strategic town of Ypres Belgium, the Second Battle of Ypres saw the first large-scale use of poison gas on the battlefield. Employed first by Germany, poison gas was soon being used widely by the Allies, with Canadians becoming particularly adept at deploying it. By the end of the war, there were about one million gas casualties, 12,000 of them Canadian.

Anniversaries provide an opportunity for reflection. The First World War caused terrible loss and suffering, claiming the lives of more than 9 million combatants, including 61,000 Canadians. 7 million civilians also died as a direct result of the war.

Sadly, Canada is not using World War I centenaries to promote peace. Rather, our government is utilizing them to glorify war and promote militarism.

G L O R I F Y I N G   W A R

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.
  • Now it is spending millions making the same claim about World War I.

This version of Canadian history has three major problems:

  1. It omits the actual founding of Canada in a series of atrocities designed to terrorize First Nations peoples into submission.
  2. Every war Canada has fought has been divisive and led to domestic conflict. World War I led to Quebec separatism.
  3. The invention of a Canadian tradition of militarism is designed to serve present political purposes: to generate support for current wars.

CANADA AT WAR: 2015 

Last month, the Harper government, passed a motion to extend Canada’s military mission in Iraq for another 12 months and to expand it into Syria. Liberals, New Democrats, and Greens all voted against the motion, expressing concern about mission creep, the safety of Canadian soldiers, the support the mission might offer Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, the lack of UN or NATO authorization, and the lack of an exit strategy.

At no point did either side of the House express concern for Iraqi or Syrian civilians. Living in countries already afflicted by the nightmare of never-ending war, how will they be affected by western airstrikes?

Here are figures taken from Body Count, a new report published in the US by Physicians for Social Responsibility: In the first 12 years of the so-called “war on terror,”

  • about a million people were killed in Iraq, and
  • 220,000 people in Afghanistan.

The Canadian government should have considered this report before extending and expanding Canada’s military mission.

T H E   C O S T S   O F   W A R

The costs paid by people in the war zone are horrendous: death, injury, bereavement, displacement, destabilization, trauma, poverty.

We in Canada also pay a cost:

  • 162 Canadians lost their lives in Afghanistan.
  • Many more have returned with wounds visible and invisible and are not getting the help they need from veteran’s services.
  • One Canadian soldier has already been killed in Iraq.
  • The war in Afghanistan cost Canadians at least $18 billion. This is money that could have been spent on education, affordable housing, and healthcare.
  • According to the Harper government, the war in Iraq and Syria will cost Canadians at least $528 million.

ENDLESS WAR: WHO BENEFITS?

  • War is big business. It is very profitable for Canadian arms manufacturers, making them $12.6 billion in annual revenues, approximately 50% of which comes from international sales. 
  • There is an all-too-cozy mutually beneficial relationship between governments and armaments industries, a relationship that includes donations to political parties, on the one hand, and approval of military spending, on the other. 
  • Who loses? Ordinary citizens everywhere. 

“We ask for peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who earn their living with the blood of men and women.”—Pope Francis

M A K I N G   P E A C E

Many Canadians, including Canadians in uniform, know that there is no honour or glory in war and that war is a catastrophe for everyone who experiences it.

What can we do for peace?

  • Tell the Harper government to celebrate peace, not war; to get Canada out of the Middle East; and to seek non-violent negotiated resolutions to conflicts.
  • Mark the 100th anniversary of Canadian engagement in World War I by attending a screening of All Quiet on the Western Front, an anti-war film about World War I: Friday April 24, 7 pm, Knox Met, 2340 Victoria Avenue.
  • Participate in the Peace Walk, part of the Regina Jane’s Walks: Saturday May 2, 1 pm, meet at the Peace Fountain in front of City Hall.

E N D  A L L  W A R S !

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EARTH DAY APRIL 22 2015

Posted by strattof on April 17, 2015

Wednesday, 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. 

CLIMATE FACTS

  • The upper safety limit for CO2 in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million. Today the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 400.26 ppm, well over the safety limit.
  • The leading cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2 is the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Rising CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere are the main cause of climate change.
  • Average global temperature has already risen by .85° C.
  • A global rise in average temperature of 2° C must be avoided if catastrophic consequences for human, animal, and plant life are not to follow.

TAR SANDS OIL COMING TO A PIPELINE NEAR YOU

ENERGY EAST HARBOUR LANDING REGINA 6

Site of proposed Energy East pipeline, Harbour Landing

TransCanada Pipelines wants to ship tar sands oil from Alberta to eastern Canada, mainly for export. Energy East is its proposed method: a 4,400 Km stretch of pipeline—the largest oil pipeline ever built in North America.

To save money, TransCanada plans to convert an already existing natural gas pipeline, originally built in the 1970s, for the Saskatchewan and Manitoba portions of the pipeline. This pipeline cuts right through Regina in the Harbour Landing area.  

The metal structure near the centre of the photograph above marks the pipeline, which comes into Harbour Landing from the west and then turns south at the drainage ditch. The photograph, taken from James Hill Road, shows how close the pipeline is to people’s homes in Harbour Landing.

Energy East will carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day, putting the communities it passes through 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 43 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.

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

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.

ENERGY EAST: AN ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD

  • Tar sands development is the single biggest contributor to the growth of carbon emissions in Canada.
  • Over the last 25 years, Canada’s CO2 emissions have increased by 18%.
  • Climate scientists warn that, if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must leave at least 80% of tar sands oil in the ground.

TAR SANDS MADNESS

  • The Harper government subsidizes the tar sands industry to the tune of $1.3 billion per year. It also supports Energy East, along with every other tar sands pipeline project.
  • Premier Brad Wall is a vocal champion of Energy East.
  • Even though it endangers his city, Regina’s Mayor, Michael Fougere, thinks Energy East is none of his business.

TAKE ACTION FOR EARTH DAY 

Join the People’s Intervention. Go to http://350.org/stop-the-energy-east pipeline/  

Tell Mayor Michael Fougere you want Regina to follow the good example of Toronto and ban the transport of tar sands oil through the city by rail or pipeline: 306-777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

Tell Premier Brad Wall you don’t want Energy East running through your community or province: 306-787-9433 or premier@gov.sk.ca

2015 is a federal election year. Tell the candidates in your electoral district you want the government to stop subsidizing the tar sands industry and to start investing in clean energy.

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CLIMATE COUNTDOWN

Posted by strattof on March 26, 2015

This year, as every year since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists sets its Doomsday Clock to indicate how close humanity is moving to destroying itself. This year, the scientists, in consultation with 17 Nobel laureates, have set the clock at three minutes to midnight, in part to reflect the threat of “unchecked climate change.”

The threat of climate change to a just and sustain-able future is real, and people in Saskatchewan have a special responsibility—and special opportunities—to do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGES

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere (including carbon dioxide or C02) are higher today than they have been in the past 800,000 years, and that human activities have been the primary cause of warming since the mid-20th century.

A global rise in average temperatures of two degrees celsius must be avoided if catastrophic consequences for human, animal and plant life are not to follow.

Some signs of significant harm from climate change are already apparent:

  • Worldwide, the 12-month period January to December 2014 has gone on to be the warmest year in the 135 years since humans have been keeping accurate records of temperature.
  • 2013 was the hottest year on record in Australia. California has experienced severe droughts and an extended wildfire season.
  • Globally, crops are being affected, ice sheets are melting near the poles, global sea levels are rising, pests are spreading into new areas and some diseases such as malaria are affecting new populations.
  • In Saskatchewan, which disproportionately contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions and therefore to climate change, threats include more extreme weather events, damage to valuable agricultural land, and harm to sensitive prairie species and ecosystems.

SASKATCHEWAN’S SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY

The IPCC has said that if greenhouse gas emissions are not addressed quickly, disadvantaged persons and communities around the world will suffer a disproportionate share of the risks. Climate change is an issue of global fairness and social justice.

Unfortunately, Saskatchewan governments have been too willing to pursue financial wealth and short-term economic development at the expense of local and global well-being.

Saskatchewan has set a goal of reducing emissions to 20% below our 2006 level of emissions by 2020. Yet, emissions continue to rise even as the provincial government cuts funding to the Ministry of Environment.

Saskatchewan’s annual greenhouse gas emissions are over 74 million tonnes, making us the highest per capita emitters in Canada. For each Saskatchewan person, approximately 67 tonnes of greenhouse gases are sent into the atmosphere each year.

According to a recent study issued by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Saskatchewan’s single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions is its oil and gas industry, including the venting and flaring of natural gas during oil and gas extraction.

Electricity generation and transport are Saskatchewan’s other two largest emission sources. Together they account for 42% of Saskatchewan’s annual greenhouse emissions.

Yet, despite Saskatchewan’s huge greenhouse gas emissions and the challenges they create for the local and global climate and environment, the provincial Ministry of Environment’s budget has decreased 12.5% since 2007, from $186 million in their first budget in 2008-09 to $162.7 million for 2015-16.

The ministry branch responsible for climate change has seen its budget drop from $16.7 million in 2010-11 to $2.6 million in the most recent budget, according to a report in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

SOLUTIONS AND ACTIONS

Saskatchewan has great potential for renewable and sustainable energy sources such as solar power, wind power and geothermal energy for heating.

We could phase out coal-fired electricity generation in 10 years, invest in better transit systems, improve building codes to make houses and offices more energy efficient and reduce subsidies to oil and gas development.

CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

Later this year, there will be a major international climate change conference in Paris.

In advance of the conference, email Premier Brad Wall or your local Member of Parliament to say that you want Saskatchewan and Canada to do our part to reduce our reliance on an unsustainable and unjust plan for short-term economic development.

Premier Brad Wall: premier@gov.sk.ca

Ray Boughen: ray.boughen@parl.gc.ca

Tom Lukiwski: tom.lukiwski@parl.gc.ca

Andrew Scheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca

Sources: Star Phoenix, Leader-Post, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, International Panel on Climate Change

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