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WHY WE STAND WITH OMAR KHADR

Posted by strattof on July 31, 2017

Why did the Canadian government apologize to Omar Khadr and pay him $10.5 million? The main answer to this question is that previous Canadian governments—both Liberal and Conservative —broke Canadian, as well as international law, in their treatment of Omar Khadr following his capture by US forces in Afghanistan in 2002.

Some Canadians are angry about the apology and settlement. We at Making Peace Vigil (the folks who hand out pamphlets on peace and justice issues on the Scarth Street Mall every Thursday) are happy about it. Please have a look at our reasons, outlined inside this pamphlet, for choosing to stand with Omar Khadr.

6 REASONS FOR STANDING WITH OMAR KHADR 

1. OMAR KHADR WAS A CHILD SOLDIER

  • Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by the US military in Afghanistan in 2002, during a firefight in a compound.
  • The US imprisoned him first in Bagram in Afghanistan (2 months) and then in Guantánamo Bay in Cuba (10 years).
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child defines “child” as a “human being below the age of eighteen.”
  • Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, yet the Canadian government did not attempt to get Omar Khadr out of either Bagram or Guantánamo Bay prisons.
  • When, in 2012, Canadian courts finally forced the Canadian government to repatriate Omar Khadr, the government, rather than ensuring his release and rehabilitation, had him incarcer-ated in Canadian prisons for the next three years, until 2015.

2. OMAR KHADR WAS TORTURED

Confessions were extracted from Omar Khadr through the use of torture and other prohibited treatment, including beatings, threats of rape, and prolonged solitary confinement.

In 2003, the Canadian government became directly involved in the torture when it twice sent CSIS agents to Guantánamo to interrogate Omar Khadr, knowing that US officials had subjected him to prolonged sleep deprivation and isolation.

Canada signed the UN convention against torture in 1975.

3. OMAR KHADR IS A CANADIAN CITIZEN

Born in Toronto in 1986, Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen and hence has the right to be protected by Canadian law.

In January 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the Canadian government had violated Omar Khadr’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it sent CSIS agents to interrogate him under “oppressive circumstances” and then shared the information with US officials.

4. RESPECT FOR THE RULE OF LAW

In its treatment of Omar Khadr, the Canadian government showed contempt for both international and Canadian law.

  • Basic human rights (the right not to be tortured, for example) depend on all governments respecting international law.
  • The proper functioning of Canadian democracy depends on the Canadian government respecting the Canadian rule of law.

With the apology and settlement, the Canadian government finally showed some respect for the rule of law and Omar Khadr finally received some of the justice he deserves.

5. THE QUESTION OF GUILT

The main charge against Omar Khadr is that he threw the grenade that killed a US soldier, Sgt. Christopher Speer. There is no compelling evidence to support this charge.

  • No one saw who threw the grenade.
  • Omar Khadr was himself found lying under a pile of rocks and rubble, unarmed and severely wounded.
  • There is evidence that Sgt. Speer was a victim of friendly fire.

In 2010, facing indefinite incarceration, Omar Khadr entered into a plea bargain. In exchange for repatriation to Canada, he pleaded guilty to murdering Sgt. Speer. This coerced confession, which he has since retracted, is the main evidence against him. s

Besides, Omar Khadr was a (child) soldier in a war zone. The US soldiers who wounded him weren’t charged with attempted murder —or with murder for killing everyone else in the compound.

The whole point of war is to kill (murder) the enemy. War is evil.

6. HUMAN SYMPATHY

  • Child in a war zone. ●Witness to unspeakable horrors. ●Badly wounded—a shoulder injury that has required extensive surgery and permanent loss of sight in one eye. ●Youth spent in prison, most of it in notorious Guantánamo Bay. ●Victim of years of torture.

This was Omar Khadr’s life from the age of 10 – 28. None of it happened of his own volition.

STAND WITH OMAR KHADR

1. Sign the I STAND WITH OMAR KHADR petition: https://act.leadnow.ca/i-stand-with-omar-khadr/

2. Share this pamphlet with your friends and family.

3. Let Prime Minister Trudeau and your MP know you support the government’s apology to and settlement with Omar Khadr:

PM Trudeau: justintrudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-922-4211

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca or 306-585-2202

Andrew Sheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca or 306-332-2575

Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca or 306-790-4747

4. MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Dennis Edney, Omar Khadr’s lawyer, will be speaking in Regina—Monday September 25, 7:30 pm, Education Auditorium, U of R: The Rule of Law in an Age of Fear.

5. Learn More about Omar Khadr:

  • Watch the documentary You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo, available on You Tube.
  • Watch the CBC documentary Omar Khadr: Out of the Shadows, available online.
  • Read Roméo Dallaire’s They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, available at Regina Public Library.

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CLIMATE DISASTER

Posted by strattof on July 31, 2017

We have just three years left to save the world from climate disaster. This warning was issued by climate scientists late last month in a letter published in the prestigious science journal Nature. Either we make significant reductions in CO2 emissions by 2020 or we face the worst effects of climate change, including:

  • Deadly heatwaves
  • Devastating droughts
  • Raging wildfires
  • Record floods
  • Rising sea levels

Time is running out! What is Canada doing to prevent climate disaster?

7 CLIMATE FACTS

  1. The upper safety limit for CO2 in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million. Today the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 408.8 per million, well over the safety limit.
  2. 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded—the third year in a row with record-setting temperatures. Now 2017 is on track to set another heat record.
  3. Average global temperature is already 1°C higher than the pre-industrial average, enough to melt half the ice in the Arctic.
  4. 97% of scientists agree that human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, has caused this increase in temperature.
  5. The increase in average global temperature must be kept to well below 2°C to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming.
  6. Climate-related disasters—floods, storms, droughts, wildfires, heatwaves—are already on the increase worldwide.
  7. To avoid complete climate disaster, 80% of the world’s known remaining fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground. This means no new fossil fuel reserves or pipeline development and plenty of investment in renewable energy infrastructure.

THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT

In 2015, in order to avoid climate disaster, 195 countries, including Canada under the Trudeau government, signed the Paris Climate Agreement—agreeing to limit “the increase in global average temperature to well below 2° C above preindustrial levels,” with the added aim of limiting “the increase to 1.5° C.”

To reach this goal, each of the 195 countries pledged to reduce its emissions by a certain percentage. Canada’s pledge was for a 30% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030.

Has Canada kept this commitment?

BROKEN PROMISES

PARIS CLIMATE COMMITMENT

In 2016, the Trudeau government approved two new tar sands pipelines: a new Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, which will run just south of Regina, and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

  • Together these two pipelines will expand tar sands production by nearly 2 million barrels of oil per day.
  • Tar sands development is the single biggest contributor to the growth of carbon emissions in Canada.

If the government proceeds with these pipelines, Canada will not be able to meet its Paris Climate Agreement commitment.

ELECTION PROMISES

In approving the pipelines, Trudeau also broke three of his election promises:

  1. To make Canada a world climate leader.
  2. To overhaul the National Energy Board’s environmental assessment process before considering any more pipelines.
  3. To implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to “free, prior, and informed consent.”

The Trudeau government has also broken another crucial climate-related election promise: to end the Harper government’s $34 billion a year subsidy to the fossil fuel industry.

EARTH PROTECTORS

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

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

WE ALL MUST BE EARTH PROTECTORS!

TAKE ACTION

  1. Tell Prime Minister Trudeau
  • That saying “yes” to pipelines is saying “yes” to climate disaster.
  • That climate leaders do not approve new tar sands pipelines.
  1. Also let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want his government:
  • To keep its Paris Climate Agreement commitment.
  • To overhaul the National Energy Board’s environmental assessment process as promised.
  • To say “no” to all pipeline projects, including Line 3 and Trans Mountain.
  • To stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and invest the money in renewable sources of energy.
  • To implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

justintrudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-922-4211

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THE RICH GET RICHER: SASKATCHEWAN’S 2017 BUDGET

Posted by strattof on July 31, 2017

Saskatchewan’s 2017 budget announced cuts to a number of income assistance programs including:

  • Financial assistance for people looking for work.
  • School supplies for children from low-income families.
  • Funeral services for poor people.

We are told our province’s dire financial situation—a $1.2 billion deficit—means we all have to tighten our belts. There do, however, seem to be some exceptions:

  • The corporate tax rate, reduced by one point, making it the lowest in the country.
  • Personal income tax rate, reduced for high income people.

The 2017 Saskatchewan budget makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. It is an attack on the most vulnerable people in our society. Is this the kind of province we want to live in?

THE POOR GET POORER

TRANSITIONAL EMPLOYMENT ALLOWANCE

The provincial government is cutting the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) by $20 a month. This may not seem like much. However, it means a lot to some people:

  • A single person looking for work in Regina will now have to live on $563 a month, plus capped rates for utilities.
  • A single mother looking for work in Regina will now only receive $946 a month. Out of this she is expected to pay for housing, food, and clothing for herself and her children.

 The TEA program was already the least adequate of the income assistance programs. For this reason, the government expanded it so that more people are on it. Over the past few years it has grown from approximately 1,500 to 5,500 adult recipients.

FUNERAL COVERAGE

  • 160,000 people live below the poverty line in Saskatchewan.
  • Poor people have a shorter life expectancy than their wealthier neighbours. In Saskatchewan, there is a six-year gap between the wealthiest 20% of the population and poorest 20%. Cuts to funding for social programs will not help narrow that gap.
  • Now, the provincial government has cut what it will pay for the funeral services of people on social assistance from $3,850 to $2,800
  • The funeral coverage program is accessed approximately 400 times a year.
  • This dehumanizing cut is expected to save the government $400,000 annually.

 OTHER CUTS

The cuts to the TEA and funeral coverage have already been implemented. Other cuts, including the following, are still being considered as part of the provincial government’s “redesign” of income security.

HIGH CALORIE SPECIAL NEEDS DIETS

The provincial government is considering ending the $75 high calorie diet. This program has helped many with special dietary needs meet the most basic nutritional levels.

Health conditions that require a high calorie diet include cancer, HIV, burns, infections, malnutrition, and recovery from surgery or illness.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES FOR CHILDREN

Equally nasty is the government’s planned cut of the annual grant for children’s school supplies for people on social assistance. Not only will this cut increase hardship for families, it will also act to further stigmatize children living in poverty.

This is the same government that gave corporations a $25.3 million gift, for this year alone, with its reduction of the corporate tax rate.

OVERPAYMENT RECOVERY RATES

The government is also planning to raise the monthly claw-back of benefits for those who have been deemed to have an overpayment.

  • A high proportion of recipients fall into this category.
  • Rarely is the overpayment the client’s fault.
  • Sometimes the client has a flexible income.
  • Sometimes the Ministry of Social Services makes an error.

WORKING FOR JUSTICE

The Wall government claims that the 2017 Social Services budget is the “largest ever.” However, it omits to say that this is the result of more people being on Social Assistance.

Even before any of the cuts came into effect, many people in Saskatchewan had to choose between paying the rent and buying food. Now, even more people are facing these harsh alternatives.

Stopping the cuts will not bring justice. There will still be many poor people in our province. But it would be a start.

For poverty to eliminated, wealth, opportunities, and privileges in our society would have to be much more equally distributed. Let’s make this our next project: eliminating poverty in Saskatchewan.

In the meantime, let’s work to reverse all the cuts to income assistance proposed in the 2017 Saskatchewan budget.

RING THOSE PHONES: REVERSE INCOME ASSISTANCE CUTS

Phone Premier Brad Wall (306-787-9433) and Minister of Social Services Tina Beaudry-Mellor (306-787-3661) and deliver the following message:

I am calling to ask that you reverse all the income assistance cuts proposed in the 2017 provincial budget. These cuts will only save the government $10 million, but they will create great hardship for the most vulnerable people in Saskatchewan.

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CANADA 150: 150 PLUS YEARS OF COLONIALISM

Posted by strattof on June 30, 2017

The Scream, by Cree artist Kent Monkman, is part of an exhibition of paintings Monkman created especially for Canada 150. Called Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, it looks at 150 years of Indigenous experience in Canada. What does The Scream tell us?

  • In the foreground, terrified Indigenous children are being wrenched from the arms of their distraught mothers by red-clad Mounties and black-robed priests and nuns: agents of the Canadian state.
  • In the background, three children are running for the woods, escaping the gaze of a Mountie standing on a porch directing the operation.
  • The children are wearing clothes of today, indicating that the mass abduction of Indigenous children from their families and communities by the Canadian state is ongoing.
  • Black clouds hang ominously over the left-hand side of the scene. The sky brightens on the right—the direction the children are heading.

This is what the last 150 years have meant for Indigenous peoples in Canada: colonization, genocide, broken treaties, and resistance.

THE HISTORY OF CANADA: THE ABDUCTION OF INDIGENOUS CHILREN

The abduction of Indigenous children is a thread that runs through Canadian history, though it is usually hidden. Why bring up this inconvenient truth when we are supposed to be celebrating?

We need to know this history because nothing has changed. The abduction of Indigenous children is still going on.

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS: 1876 – 1996

Many Treaties with First Nations, including Treaty 4 which takes in most of southern Saskatchewan, promised to establish schools on reserves. Instead, the Canadian government implemented the residential school system.

  • John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, was a passionate advocate for residential schools. In his view “Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence,” for if they stay on the reserve they are “surrounded by savages.”
  • Established shortly after Confederation, Canada’s residential school system lasted for over a century—until 1996 when the last residential school, Gordon’s School in Punnichy SK, closed.
  • More than 150,000 children attended the schools, having endured, along with their parents, the brutality of forced separation.
  • At least 6,000 children died at the schools from malnutrition, disease, and abuse ‒ a higher death rate than that of Canadians who enlisted to fight in World War II. Many of the children were buried unceremoniously in unmarked graves.
  • In the words of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the residential school system was “an integral part of a conscious policy of cultural genocide.”

A PATTERN OF ABDUCTION

The genocidal policy of abducting Indigenous children from their families did not end with the residential school system. Rather, it carried on under a different guise. Indeed, it carries on today.

THE 60s SCOOP: EARLY 1960s – MID 1980s

In the 1950s, the federal government began to close residential schools, deemed too costly even though they were badly under-funded. In the early 1960s, provincial social workers, following on the heels of the Mounties and the priests, began to descend on Indigenous communities and to “scoop up” the children. The children were then placed in foster care or adopted out to white families.

  • An estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were scooped.
  • Incalculable damage was inflicted on the victims of this government policy, including loss of family, loss of language, loss of culture, and loss of community.

ABDUCTION OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN: TODAY

  • Today, provincial governments continue with the disastrous policy of taking Indigenous children away from their families and communities.
  • Today, more Indigenous children are in state care than at the height of the residential school system.

TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s first Call to Action is “Commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care.” Rather than implementing this recommendation, the Trudeau government has spent $707,000 in legal fees fighting a Human Rights Tribunal order to stop its discriminatory underfunding of First Nations child welfare.

While there has been lots of talk about reconciliation, little action has been taken to implement any of the TRC’s 94 calls to action.

CANADA DAY: TAKE ACTION FOR JUSTICE

  1. SIGN THE BROADBENT PETITION: The Government of Canada is Failing First Nations Children.
  2. TELL PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU you want his government to mark Canada 150 by implementing all 94 TRC calls to action: trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.
  3. LEARN THE TRUTH ABOUT CANADIAN HISTORY

ART

  • Visit online Kent Monkman’s exhibition Shame and Prejudice.
  • The Canada 150 art featured in this pamphlet is the work of Chippewar, also known as Jay Soule. Visit his website.
  • Visit the facebook page of Colonialism Skateboards.
  • Watch Gord Downie’s animated film The Secret Path.
  • Visit the Alex Janvier exhibition at the Mackenzie Art Gallery. 

BOOKS (Available at Regina Public Library)

  • Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
  • Clearing the Plains, by James Daschuk
  • Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
  • Children of the Broken Treaty, by Charlie Angus

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MAKING MORE WAR: CANADA’S DEFENCE POLICY REVIEW

Posted by strattof on June 30, 2017

On June 6, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, made public the Trudeau government’s long-awaited defence policy review. It was a nasty shock for all Canadians who want our country to stop making war.

Here are some of the disturbing details:

  • A 70% increase in war spending over the next 10 years, from $18.9 billion in 2016-17 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27
  • 15 new warships ($60 billion)
  • 88 new fighter jets ($19 billion)
  • 5,000 more military personal, bringing the total number of troops to 101,500

Since 2001, Canada has been endlessly at war: Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Latvia—Canada has been or is there. Why do we keep making more war, rather than working for peace?

WHY IS CANADA INCREASING ITS MILITARY SPENDING?

There are at least two answers to this question:

  1. US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP DEMANDED IT. Last month, Trump castigated members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for “not paying their fair share” to cover NATO costs. Trump wants all NATO members to meet a 2014 goal of putting 2% of their GDP toward defence spending. (In 2016, Canada spent 1.2%.)
  2. PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU WANTS IT. A more militaristic and war-making nation is, perhaps, what Trudeau had in mind when, shortly after the 2015 election, he said “Canada is back.”

There are a number of indications that, by “back,” Trudeau meant more war-making. For example, since coming to power, the Trudeau government has

  • Twice extended Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria, most recently until June 30 2017;
  • Extended Canada’s military mission in Ukraine for another two years, until March 2019;
  • Committed to lead a military mission in Latvia, as part of a NATO force to deter “Russian aggression.”

WHAT IS NATO?

NATO is a US-led military alliance of 28 countries. It is a threat to world peace.

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

WAR-MAKING: WHO BENEFITS?

War is big business. Western countries, including Canada, are making big bucks off all the war-making.

  • The US is the largest market for Canadian military equipment.
  • Canada is the 2nd largest exporter of arms to the Middle East.
  • Canada is the 6th largest exporter of arms in the world.

WHO LOSES?

Citizens living in war zones: For them the price is horrendous: injury, death, bereavement, displacement, trauma, impoverishment.

Since Canada went to war in 2001:

  • Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Syria.
  • Many more have been injured.
  • Millions of people have become refugees.

Citizens of Canada: Though the wars are elsewhere, we also pay a price:

  • Dead or injured loved ones: 162 Canadians were killed in Afghanistan.
  • A shameful waste of money on war—money that could have been spent on healthcare, affordable housing, education, the environment, or the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.

PEACEMAKING

What would a peacemaking Canada do?

  • Withdraw from the military missions in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and Latvia.
  • Develop a foreign policy independent of the US.
  • Get out of NATO.
  • Stop selling arms.
  • Make diplomatic peacemaking a top priority.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

  • Let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan know you want Canada to stop making war and to start working for peace:

justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4211

harjit.sajjan@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-7051

  • Send the same message to your MP:

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca or 306-585-2202

Andrew Sheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca or 306-332-2575

Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca or 306-790-4747

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CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE UNDER ATTACK

Posted by strattof on June 15, 2017

According to Mayor Michael Fougere, “there is never ever a time for civil disobedience.” Gandhi, whose statue is in front of Regina City Hall, would disagree. Employing the methods of civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence from British colonial rule.

What exactly is civil disobedience? It has four key characteristics:

  1. Civil disobedience is the breaking of the law in order to protest unjust laws or government policies.
  2. Civil disobedience is non-violent.
  3. The goal of civil disobedience is to instigate a lasting change in law or policy.
  4. People who engage in civil disobedience are willing to accept the legal consequences of their actions.

Civil disobedience has proven to be an effective tool for bringing change. Is Mayor Fougere right that it is “never ever” justified?

MARTIN LUTHER KING & ROSA PARKS

In the 1950s, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and other civil rights activists began their struggle against Jim Crow laws—laws that required racial segregation in schools, buses, restaurants, and restrooms. One of their tools was civil disobedience.

As a result of their actions, the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, an act that outlaws racial segregation.

Does Mayor Fougere think that Martin Luther King and other members of the US civil rights movement were unjustified in their acts of civil disobedience?

VIOLA DESMOND, CANADA’S OWN ROSA PARKS

In 1946, nine years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery Alabama, Viola Desmond, an African Canadian, refused to leave the whites-only area of a segregated Nova Scotia movie theatre. In the end, police forcibly removed her from the theatre and jailed her.

Viola Desmond’s case inspired the Nova Scotia Civil Rights movement.

What is Mayor Fougere’s view of this act of civil disobedience? Does he think it should “never ever” have happened?

The Government of Canada is clear in its view. It is celebrating Viola Desmond for her act of civil disobedience by featuring her on the Canadian $10 bill, where, in 2018, she will replace John A. Macdonald.

Learn more about Viola Desmond by googling her name.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE & THE ELIMINATION OF STC 

CONTEXT OF FOUGERE’S “NEVER EVER”

  • On May 31, six people practiced civil disobedience by refusing to get off the last STC bus to arrive in Saskatoon from Regina before the provincial government shut down the service. They were arrested and taken off the bus in handcuffs.
  • In response to this act of civil disobedience, Ward 3 City Councillor Andrew Stevens tweeted: “Civil disobedience is important.”
  • Mayor Fougere responded to these two events with his “never ever” comment.

STC CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE JUSTIFIED

  1. The elimination of STC is an unjust policy in that it affects poor people disproportionately: 70% of STC users were low-income.
  2. The elimination of STC is not only an unjust policy. It may also be a matter of life and death, as Indigenous peoples were among frequent STC users. In BC, the absence of a rural bus service resulted in the Highway of Tears.
  3. The elimination of STC is also an unjust policy in that, as a Crown Corporation, STC belonged to the people of Saskatchewan who were not consulted about its elimination.
  4. Civil disobedience was a last resort. Many legal avenues of protest (rallies, letter writing, court challenges) had already been taken in an attempt to stop the elimination of STC.

CIVIL OBEDIENCE

The greatest danger to society is civil obedience —the submission of the individual conscience to governmental authority.—Howard Zinn

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE: REGINA

UNJUST LAWS & POLICIES

Mayor Fougere seems to think there are no unjust laws or policies in Regina. Two City Councillors agree with him: Ward 2 Councillor Bob Hawkins and Ward 7 Councillor Sharron Bryce.

Perhaps the Mayor and Councillors are blinded by their white, upper-middle class privilege.

4 EXAMPLES OF UNJUST LAWS OR POLICIES

  1. The refusal of Regina City Council to do anything substantial to address Regina’s homelessness crisis
  2. The City bylaw prohibiting sleeping in city parks—a law that discriminates against homeless people
  3. The Unwanted Guest policy, an initiative of Regina Police Service, that allows business owners to ban individuals from their property: The targets of this policy are clearly poor people, Indigenous people, and people with mental health or addiction issues.
  4. Regina Police Service practice of street checks—that is “randomly” stopping people to collect information: Studies show that Indigenous people are much more likely to be stopped than non-Indigenous people.

TAKE ACTION

 

 

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SAVE STC

Posted by strattof on May 25, 2017

As part of its austerity budget, the Wall government is eliminating the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC). According to the government, it is a drain on provincial coffers as it has to be subsidized.

A Crown Corporation, STC belongs to the people of Saskatchewan. Its mandate is not to make a profit, but to provide an essential public service. This it has been doing ever since 1946, the year STC was founded.

People travel on the bus across Saskatchewan: to go to work, for medical procedures and appointments, to visit family and friends, for shopping, to attend university or college classes. For many, STC is the only option for long-distance transportation.

We must save STC. The matter is urgent. STC is scheduled to cease operations on May 31, less than one week from today.

WHY WE MUST SAVE STC: 8 GOOD REASONS

  1. THE COMMON GOOD: STC serves the common good. It provides safe and affordable transportation for people who are unable to afford to drive a car, allowing them to travel to work, to appointments, to visit relatives—to do all the things other people take for granted. 70% of STC riders are low-income.
  2. HEALTH: STC allows our healthcare system to function efficiently and effectively and helps to keep us healthy.
  • 300 rural cancer patients use STC to get to appointments.
  • STC delivers medical supplies to people, lab specimens to hospitals for analysis, and water samples to the Disease Control Lab for testing.
  1. HIGHWAY SAFETY: Public transportation is 10 times safer than driving in Canada. STC has an excellent safety record and is known for the professionalism of its drivers.
  2. HIGHWAY OF TEARS: Indigenous peoples are among the frequent users of STC. In BC, the absence of a rural bus service resulted in the Highway of Tears. Did the Sask Party government take into account the cost to Indigenous peoples of eliminating STC?
  3. THE ENVIRONMENT: STC is good for the environment. Instead of 30 people using their own individual cars, 30 people travel on the same bus, thus reducing carbon emissions. Saskatchewan has the highest per capita CO2 emission rates in Canada, three times the national average.
  • The Saskatchewan government should be investing more money in public transportation, not less.
  • We all should be using public transportation, rather than driving our private vehicles.
  1. NEWLY RELEASED PRISONERS: Many newly-released prisoners rely on STC to return to their communities, especially those who come from the north. Many of these prisoners are on remand and have not even been convicted. Lack of transportation will separate them from their families and communities for even longer periods.
  2. LIBRARY SERVICES: Kudos to the Wall government for restoring the funding it cut to the province’s libraries. Those funds will not, however, be sufficient on their own to save the unique and widely admired Saskatchewan Library System. The reason? Because that system depends on STC to transport library materials (books, journals, DVDs) inexpensively and efficiently between libraries scattered all over the province.
  3. CONNECTIONS: Serving 253 communities in very corner of our vast province, STC connects us: rural and urban, southern and northern, First Nations and settler communities.

WASTEFUL SPENDING

According to the Wall government, the annual subsidy to STC is $17 million. This is the government’s main rationale for eliminating STC: that the subsidy is wasteful spending.

Here are some examples of REALLY WASTEFUL Wall government spending:

$2.1 billion            Overpayment on GTH land deal

$120 million          Consultants’ fees 2009 – 2014

$115 million          Loss due to liquor privatization

$40 million            LEAN program

$15 million            Defective Smart Meters

WRONG PRIORITIES

Meanwhile, the Wall government has reduced the tax rate for corporations and high income individuals—tax breaks that will mean $107.5 million in lost revenue to the province this year.

Without these tax breaks, we could restore $17 million in funding to STC and still have plenty left over for other public services that have been cut, including funeral services for poor people and children’s school supplies for people on social assistance.

A government that has money for tax breaks but not for social services is a government with a wrong sense of priorities.

SAVE STC

Act now to save STC. The matter is urgent. The government plans to end STC passenger service on May 31, less than one week from today.

  • Let Premier Brad Wall know you oppose the elimination of STC and why: premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433.
  • Send the same message to the Minister responsible for STC, Joe Hargrave: pacarltonmla@sasktel.net or 306-787-7339.

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CANADA 150: 150 PLUS YEARS OF COLONIALISM

Posted by strattof on May 11, 2017

Kent Monkman’s The Scream is part of an exhibition of paintings Monkman created especially for Canada’s 150th birthday. A brightly-coloured painting, it shows what the last 150 years have meant for Indigenous peoples in Canada.

  • In the foreground, terrified Indigenous children are being wrenched from the arms of their distraught mothers by red-clad Mounties and black-robed priests and nuns: agents of the Canadian state.
  • In the background, three children are running for the woods, escaping the gaze of a Mountie standing on a porch directing the operation.
  • The children are wearing clothes of today, indicating that the mass abduction of Indigenous children from their families and communities by the Canadian state is ongoing.
  • Black clouds hang ominously over the left hand side of the scene. The sky brightens on the right—the direction the children are heading.

This is what the last 150 years have meant for Indigenous peoples in Canada: colonization, broken treaties, genocide, and resistance.

THE HISTORY OF CANADA: THE ABDUCTION OF INDIGENOUS CHILREN

The abduction of Indigenous children is a thread that runs through Canadian history, though it is usually hidden. Why bring up this inconvenient truth when we are supposed to be celebrating?

We need to know this history because nothing has changed. The abduction of Indigenous children is still going on.

RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS: 1876 – 1996

Many Treaties with First Nations, including Treaty 4 which takes in most of southern Saskatchewan, promised to establish schools on reserves. Instead, the Canadian government implemented the residential school system.

  • John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, was a passionate advocate for residential schools. In his view “Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence,” for if they stay on the reserve they are “surrounded by savages.”
  • Established shortly after Confederation, Canada’s residential school system lasted for over a century—until 1996 when the last residential school, Gordon’s School in Punnichy SK, closed.
  • More than 150,000 children attended the schools. Many of them, along with their parents, endured the brutality of forced separation.
  • At least 6,000 children died at the schools from malnutrition, disease, and abuse ‒ a higher death rate than that of Canadians who enlisted to fight in World War II. Many of the children were buried unceremoniously in unmarked graves.
  • In the words of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the residential school system was “an integral part of a conscious policy of cultural genocide.”

A PATTERN OF ABDUCTION

The genocidal policy of abducting Indigenous children from their families did not end with the residential school system. Rather, it carried on under a difference guise. Indeed, it carries on today.

THE 60s SCOOP: EARLY 1960s – MID 1980s

In the 1950s, the federal government started to close residential schools, deemed too costly even though they were grossly underfunded. In the early 1960s, provincial social workers, authorized by the federal government and following on the heels of the Mounties and priests, began to descend on Indigenous communities and to “scoop up” the children, including newborns. The children were then placed in foster care or adopted out mainly to white families in Canada, the US, and Europe.

  • An estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were scooped.
  • The number of Indigenous children in care skyrocketed.
  • Some children experienced physical and psychological abuse from their adoptive families.
  • Incalculable damage was inflicted on all the victims of this government policy, including loss of family, loss of language, and loss of culture.

ABDUCTION OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN: TODAY

The federal government continues to underfund education and child welfare on First Nations. Provincial social workers continue to abduct Indigenous children from their families.

  • First Nations children on reserves receive 33% – 50% less funding than a child in a provincial school.
  • There is, in addition, 22% less funding for First Nations child welfare services.
  • Today, there are more Indigenous children in government care than there were at the height of the residential school system.

LEARN THE TRUTH ABOUT CANADIAN HISTORY

ART

  • Visit online Kent Monkman’s exhibition Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience.
  • The Canada 150 art featured in this pamphlet is the work of Chippewar, also known as Jay Soule. He calls on us to “stickerbomb Canada” with his Canada 150 stickers: http://www.chippewar.com/category/free-sticker-packs
  • Watch Gord Downie’s The Secret Path: http://secretpath.ca/
  • Visit the Alex Janvier exhibition at the Mackenzie Art Gallery, opening May 20.

BOOKS

Available at Regina Public Library:

  • Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
  • Clearing the Plains, by James Daschuk
  • Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
  • Children of the Broken Treaty, by Charlie Angus

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MAKING PEACE–SINCE 2007

Posted by strattof on May 11, 2017

On May 4 2017, MAKING PEACE VIGIL celebrated its 10th birthday. Every Thursday, from noon to 12:30 pm, we stand on the corner of Scarth Street and 11th Avenue handing out pamphlets on peace and justice issues.

We haven’t missed a week in 10 years. If for nothing else, we get full marks for stubborn perseverance.

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

P   E   A   C   E 

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

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

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

Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.Harry Patch, Britain’s last surviving World War I veteran

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious….It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.—Major General Smedely Butler, US Marine Corps

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

J   U   S   T   I   C   E

We are the 99%.—Occupy Movement

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

Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. House the homeless.from the Christian Corporal Works of Mercy

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.Martin Luther King

It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest.Nelson Mandela

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.—Anatole France

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

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

MAKING PEACE VIGIL

  • Bearing witness to our society’s involvement in violence and injustice
  • Committing ourselves to creative action for change

EVERY THURSDAY until  breaks out

FROM noon to 12:30 pm

ON SCARTH STREET AT 11TH AVENUE

EVERYONE IS WELCOME

The vigil takes a stand on a range of issues, including:

  • Canada’s involvement in war and the arms industry
  • Canadian Pension Plan investments in corporations making weapons
  • Saskatchewan’s involvement in the uranium industry
  • The suspension of human and civil rights in the name of national security
  • The Canadian government’s failure to keep its treaties with First Nations
  • Social inequity in housing and employment in Regina
  • Racism in Canada and elsewhere
  • Violence against women in Canada and worldwide
  • The lack of a national early learning and child care system
  • The unequal distribution of wealth both in Canada and worldwide
  • War against the earth systems that give us life

For further information, please contact: makingpeace@sasktel.net

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MPeaceVigil/

On the web: https://makingpeace.wordpress.com

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ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Posted by strattof on April 28, 2017

Each year since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set the hands of its Doomsday Clock to show how close humanity is to annihilating itself.

Each second closer to midnight brings us nearer to destroying ourselves with our own technologies. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons.

On January 26, the hands of the Doomsday Clock moved 30 seconds closer to midnight, from 3 minutes to just 2 ½ minutes—the clock’s closest approach to midnight since 1953.

2017 marks the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombs instantly killed 225,000 people. Burns, injuries and radiation poisoning killed many more by the year’s end.

72 years after those horrific events, the threat of nuclear weapons still looms over humanity.

7 2 Y E A R S  A F T E R

NUCLEAR WEAPONS

  • Today, nine nations possess nuclear weapons: Russia, the US, France, China, Britain, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. Together these states have some 15,000 nuclear warheads. Moreover, all are expanding or “modernizing” their nuclear weapons programs.
  • Here’s a breakdown by country of the total nuclear stockpile:

Russia        7,000               Pakistan           120

US             6,800               India                100

France       300                  Israel               80

China         250                  North Korea    Fewer than 10

Britain       215

NUCLEAR THREATS

The threat of nuclear disaster seems to be particularly high at the moment. These are the reasons:

  • Tension between the US and Russia over Syria and Ukraine
  • Tension between the US and North Korea
  • The unpredictability of US President Donald Trump
  • India-Pakistan tensions
  • A nuclear accident—an accident waiting to happen

BANNING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Last month, the United Nations held a conference to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons. 123 countries attended. It was the first major development in nuclear disarmament in decades. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Canada did not attend the conference. 40 other nations also boycotted the neotiations, including seven of the nine nuclear states. (China and India were the exceptions.)

Why did Canada not attend? Canada is a member of NATO. NATO reserves the right to use nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis. The US instructed all NATO members to reject the negotiations.

Unlike Canada, the Netherlands, also a NATO member, disobeyed US instructions and attended the conference. In the Netherlands, there was strong public pressure on the government to participate in the nuclear ban negotiations.

A SECOND CHANCE

The UN conference to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons will resume on June 15 and run to July 7. It is not too late for Canada to join the conference.

Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not prohibited by international law.

VOICES FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

Albert Einstein, 1945:If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.” 

Arundhati Roy, 1999: “It is such a supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they’re used. The fact that they exist at all, their presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom.”  

Mayor of Hiroshima, Kaumi Matsui, 2015: “As long as nuclear weapons exist, anyone could become a hibakusha [victim of those weapons] at any time.

THE PEACE SYMBOL & NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

The peace symbol finds its origins in the British nuclear disarmament movement. Designed in 1958, it uses semaphore signals to transmit its message.

Semaphore is a system of conveying information at a distance. You spell out a word by placing your arms in certain positions, each position representing a different letter in the alphabet.

N and D, standing for Nuclear Disarmament, are the semaphore signals represented in the peace symbol.

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE

CONTACT POLITICAL LEADERS

  • Let Prime Minister Trudeau know you want Canada to attend the next UN meetings on banning nuclear weapons and to take a strong stand on their prohibition: trudeau@parl.gc.ca
  • Send the same message to your MP:

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca

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

Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca

  • Ask the leaders of the other federal political parties what their position is on the elimination of nuclear weapons:

Rona Ambrose, Conservative Party: rona.ambrose@parl.gc.ca

Elizabeth May, Green Party: elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

Tom Mulcair, NDP: thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca

ENTER THE 2017 PEACE SYMBOL CONTEST

  • Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a sidewalk using chalk; a piece of clothing; a cake or cookies using icing.
  • Take a photo of your peace symbol.
  • Email the photo to makingpeace@sasktel.net

You will, in return, receive a peace gift and become eligible to win a major peace prize. The deadline is midnight August 31, 2017.

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