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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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Posted in climate, environment, justice | Leave a Comment »

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

 

Posted in environment, justice, peace activism | Leave a Comment »

CANADA DAY FOR PEACE

Posted by strattof on June 30, 2016

ENDLESS WAR

  • For the last 14 Canada Days, Canada has been at war: 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.
  • Now the Trudeau government is “actively considering” a request from NATO to supply troops to a new NATO force in Eastern Europe to deter “Russian aggression.”

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

IRAQ & SYRIA

Kudos to the Trudeau government for keeping its election promise to stop Canadian bombing in Syria. But are the “sunny ways” of our new government really that much different from the Harper government’s blatant-war-mongering?

Sadly, the Trudeau government is not working for peace in Iraq and Syria. Instead, it is making more war.

Bombing mission: The Trudeau government has retained Canadian refueling and surveillance aircraft in the region to assist with the bombing campaign—“proxy bombing” as some have called it.

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: Thousands of civilians have been killed. Many more have been injured. Whole cities have been reduced to rubble. Millions of people have become refugees.
  • Endless war in the Middle East region
  • Violence in western countries, including Canada—which should not surprise us: How many Muslim countries has Canada inflicted violence on recently? Maybe we should eliminate the incentive for people to want to kill us!

“War begets violence and hatred that only begets more violence and hatred.”—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

EASTERN EUROPE

UKRAINE

Rather than seeking a peaceful resolution to hostilities in Ukraine, Canada continues to beat the drums of war.

  • In 2015, Canada sent 200 soldiers to Ukraine to train its military forces fighting pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
  • In 2016, the Trudeau government reaffirmed “Canada’s contribution to support Ukrainian forces through military training and capacity-building in 2016–17.”

POLAND, ESTONIA, LITHUANIA, & LATVIA

  • Earlier this month, Canada participated in a massive NATO military exercise in Poland and the Baltic states.
  • Now Canada is being pressured to supply soldiers for a new NATO force in the region.

NATO

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

The aim of NATO expansion is to intimidate and humiliate Russia.

NATO, A THREAT TO WORLD PEACE

  • NATO has armed forces in all six inhabited continents.
  • NATO has at its disposal two million troops.
  • NATO states account for 70% of world arms spending.
  • NATO insists on its right to employ nuclear weapons on a first- strike basis.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE ON CANADA DAY

  • 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; and to get out of NATO: justintrudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-922-4211.
  • Send the same message to Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan: Sajjan@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-7052.
  • Create a peace symbol on any surface: 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.

Posted in justice, peace activism | 2 Comments »

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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CHEW ON THIS: A CAMPAIGN TO ELIMINATE POVERTY IN CANADA

Posted by strattof on October 12, 2015

POVERTY IN SASKATCHEWAN: 6 KEY FACTS

SASKATCHEWAN is a wealthy province, and yet:

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

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

ELIMINATING POVERTY

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

What Canada needs is a FEDERAL ANTI-POVERTY PLAN.

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

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

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

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REFUGEE CRISIS: WHAT CANADA MUST DO

Posted by strattof on September 10, 2015

No one leaves home unless

Home is the mouth of a shark

These are the first two lines of the poem “Home” by Somali poet Warsan Shire. Fleeing war, refugees face many perils: “No one puts their children in a boat/ Unless the water is safer than the land”

Last week, the image of a dead child on a beach captured the human tragedy of the current refugee crisis. Three-year-old Alan Kurdi drowned, along with his brother and mother, while trying to reach Greece in a rubber dinghy. Only the boys’ father survived.

The family had fled the civil war in Syria with the hope of eventually coming to Canada. Alan’s aunt, who lives in Vancouver, wanted to bring all her siblings and their families to Canada, but could only afford to sponsor one at a time.

When Immigration Canada rejected the application of another of her brothers, Alan’s father felt his only option was a desperate course of action. “No one puts their children in a boat/ Unless….

THE SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS: THE CANADIAN RECORD

The refugee crisis in Syria has been going on since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, a war that has already claimed 300,000 lives. Today, Syria is the world’s top source country of refugees. There are now more than 4 million Syrian who have fled their country’s bloody war. This figure does not include internally displaced Syrians.

5 MORE KEY FACTS AND FIGURES

  1. In 2013, the Canadian government committed to accept 1,300 Syrian refugees by the end of 2014.
  2. The actual number resettled in Canada was about 700.
  3. In January 2015, the Canadian government promised to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees by 2018.
  4. 2,374 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Canada since 2013. The vast majority were privately sponsored, meaning private groups, not the government, undertook the paperwork and funding to bring them.
  5. Contrary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s implied claim, Canada is not the world’s largest per capita receiver of refugees. In fact, Canada ranks 41st.  

MORE WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER

According to Stephen Harper, the real solution to the refugee crisis is more bombing of ISIS. In Harper’s words, “Millions of people are being pursued, slaughtered by the so-called Islamic State and its allies and we have to do something about that.”

  • War is the cause of the refugee crisis. More bombs will simply mean more refugees fleeing bombings.
  • The emergence of ISIS in Iraq is a direct result of the 2003 US-led military invasion of Iraq. “Violence begets violence” (Martin Luther King).
  • According to a Pentagon document, Canadian bombing of ISIS resulted in the death of up to 27 Iraqi civilians in January. To date, more than 450 civilians have been killed by the US-led airstrikes against ISIS.

REFUGEES:

CANADA’S CHEQUERED HISTORY

  • 1933 – 1948: In June 1939, Canada refused entry to 937 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, turning their ship, the SS St. Louis, back to Europe. A third of the ship’s passengers ended up being murdered in the Nazi death camps. From 1933 – 1948, “none is too many” was the response of the Canadian government to Jewish asylum seekers.
  • 1979 – 1980: Canada accepted 50,000 Vietnamese “boat people.” By 1985, 110,000 Vietnamese refugees had resettled in Canada.
  • 1999: Canada agreed to accept 7,000 Kosovo refugees.
  • Today: Designed to evoke fear, the demeaning language used to refer to refugees by some of our politicians is reminiscent of the “none is too many” rhetoric of the 1930s and 40s.

2015: CANADA’S ANTI-REFUGEE POLICY

  • Since 2006, the Harper government has been erecting bureaucratic hurdles before those seeking refuge in Canada.
  • In 2012, the Harper government passed a bill creating a two-tiered refugee system and allowing for the arbitrary detention of groups of refugees.
  • In 2012, the Harper government made severe cuts to refugee healthcare.

TAKE ACTION

WELCOME REFUGEES: Germany, a much smaller country than Canada, has said it can take 500,000 Syrian refugees a year for the next several years. Let the party leaders know you want Canada to accept as many refugees as Germany.

STOP THE WAR IN SYRIA:Let the party leaders know you want Canada to work actively for a diplomatic resolution ‒ a peaceful solution ‒ to the war in Syria. Sign the Development and Peace petition: https://www.devp.org/en/emergencies/syria/petition

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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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NO MORE WAR!

Posted by strattof on August 20, 2015

Rather than working for peace, Canada is now engaging in a military first foreign policy.

  • Since 2003, Canada has been endlessly at war: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq-Syria: Canada has been or is there making war.
  • Today, Canada is directly involved in two international wars—Iraq-Syria and Ukraine—and indirectly in at least one other—Palestine-Israel.
  • Earlier this week, Prime Minister Harper promised to boost the number of military reservists from 24,000 to 30,000 if his party is reelected.
  • Canada has refused to sign the Arms Trade Treaty, a treaty aimed at restricting the global arms trade. The US has signed the treaty, as have 127 other countries.

War is not a natural calamity like a tempest or an earthquake; war is man-made and man can prevent it.”—James Endicott (1898 – 1993) Canadian church and peace movement leader

S T R A T E G I E S   O F   W A R 

DEMONIZATION: the identification with evil of the people your side is intent on slaughtering

  • In each of the conflicts in which Canada is involved, our government has demonized one of the combatants: Islamic State in the case of Iraq-Syria, Palestine in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and Russia in Ukraine. In the case of Russia, Prime Minister Harper has even gone so far as to compare Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to Hitler.
  • At the same time, our government has idealized “our side,” identifying the west with freedom and democracy.
  • In fact, there are few, if any, totally good guys or bad guys in any of these conflicts, just many varying shades of gray.
  • For example, according to the Canadian government, the crisis in Ukraine was precipitated by Russian aggression in Crimea in 2014. Left out of this version of events is the role of NATO in initiating the crisis. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO began to court former Soviet republics to join the western military alliance. Many have already done so, including Hungary, Poland, Latvia, and Estonia. Currently Canada is campaigning for Ukrainian membership in NATO.
  • Simplistic notions of good and evil lay the groundwork for war by creating a culture of hate and fear. Demonization also makes the lives of whole populations disposable. 

FEAR-MONGERING: deliberately arousing public fear about a particular group of people.

  • The Harper government never tires of telling Canadians that “Jihadi terrorists are threatening Canada.” In fact, the risk to our personal safety from a terrorist attack is statistically in-significant. We accept a much higher risk when we drive a car.
  • The government used fear-mongering to promote its anti-terror legislation, expanding the powers of CSIS and putting the privacy and freedom of speech of Canadians at risk.
  • The politics of fear are also aimed at scaring people into supporting wars against Muslim countries.
  • By stoking fear of Muslims, the Harper government also provides justification for anti-Muslim hate crimes in Canada. Such crimes have more than doubled since 2012.

T H E   C O S T S   O F   W A R

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

We in Canada also pay a price:

  • 162 Canadians lost their lives in Afghanistan.
  • Many more are struggling with physical or mental injuries and not getting the help they need from veterans’ services.
  • There are also financial costs to Canadians: Afghanistan: $18 billion; Libya: $347 million; Iraq-Syria: $528 million for the first year; Ukraine: $16 million for the first year.

That’s a lot of money! It could have been spent instead on education, affordable housing, and healthcare.

ENDLESS WAR: WHO BENEFITS?

  • War is big business. It is very profitable for Canadian arms producing companies, 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!

4 THINGS TO DO FOR PEACE  

  1. Visit the Peace Garden on Victoria Avenue and Lorne Street. A joint project of Knox-Met United Church and PeaceQuest Regina, the Peace Garden reminds us of the possibility of peace: Inner peace. Peace in our families and communities. Peace in our city. Peace within and between nations. Peace with the planet and all that dwell on it. 
  2. See Testament of Youth, a powerful story of love, war and remembrance, based on the First World War memoir by Vera Brittain, which has become the classic testimony of that war from a woman’s point of view. Showing at Regina Public Library Film Theatre, Thursday August 20 – Sunday August 23: 7 pm Thursday and Saturday; 9 pm Friday and Sunday; 2 pm Saturday. 
  3. Read the Kellogg-Briand Pact, available online. Signed in 1928 by most of the world’s nations, including Canada, the pact renounces war as a means of resolving disputes and calls for the use of diplomacy to mediate between opposing forces. 
  4. Ask candidates in the federal election if the leader of their party will be a Prime Minister for peace. Remind them of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

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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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