Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

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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EARTH DAY 2017

Posted by strattof on April 21, 2017

Saturday, April 22, is EARTH DAY, a time to reflect on the catastrophic damage we are doing to the earth systems that give us life, and a time to start taking action to reverse the damage.

CLIMATE FACTS

  • The upper safety limit for CO2 in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million. Today the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 407.05 per million, well over the safety limit.
  • The leading cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2 is the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Rising CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere are the main cause of climate change.
  • Average global temperature has already risen by 1°C.
  • A global rise in average temperature of less than 2°C must be avoided if catastrophic consequences for human, animal, and plant life are not to follow.
  • 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded—until 2015 beat it by a wide margin. Then 2016 set a new record.

EARTH DAY 2017: CANADA’S CLIMATE RECORD

CLIMATE COMMITMENTS

In 2015, the Trudeau government, signed the Paris Climate Agreement, committing, along with 195 other countries, to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2°C, and thus avoid catastrophic climate change.

To help meet this goal, Canada also pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

BROKEN COMMITMENTS

In 2016, the Trudeau government approved two new tar sands pipelines: the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

  • Together these two pipelines will expand tar sands production by about 1 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 pipeline expansion plans,

  • Canada will not be able to keep its Paris Agreement pledge to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • The world will also likely be prevented from meeting its Paris Agreement commitment of keeping the increase in global temperature below 2°C.

According to climate scientists, if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must leave at least 85% of tar sands oil in the ground.

BROKEN 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 of the Rights of Indigenous peoples and to build a nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations.

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.

SASKATCHEWAN’S CLIMATE RECORD

Premier Brad Wall says that his government was forced into an austerity budget because of “a massive reduction in resource [mainly oil] revenues.”

Why has the price of oil dropped so sharply? Because supply has outpaced demand. One of the reasons demand is low is a growing switch away from oil to renewable sources of energy—sources, such as wind and solar, that generate little or no global-warming emissions.

But not in Saskatchewan! A vocal champion of the fossil fuel industry, Premier Wall supports pipeline and tar sands expansion. His solution to the province’s budget crisis is to lure Calgary-based oil companies to relocate to Saskatchewan.

Is it any wonder, then, that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emission rates in the country and ranks last among the provinces in environmental performance? SHAME! 

EARTH PROTECTORS

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

WE ALL MUST BE EARTH PROTECTORS!

TAKE ACTION FOR EARTH DAY

Tell Prime Minister Trudeau that saying “yes” to pipelines is saying “yes” to climate disaster. Let him know you want his government:

  • To stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.
  • To review the Line 3 and Trans Mountain pipeline projects.
  • To implement the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • To keep the pledge Canada made at the Paris Conference.

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

Contact Premier Wall and let him know you want the provincial government:

  • To say ‘no’ to tar sands pipelines.
  • To say ‘yes’ to developing a sustainable green economy.
  • To help the federal government keep the carbon reduction pledge it made at the Paris Climate Conference by working to reduce carbon emissions.

premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433

PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH: SATURDAY APRIL 29, NOON – 2 pm, LEGISLATIVE BUILDING

  • Celebrate our interdependent relationship to each other, and our dependent relationship to the Earth.
  • Demonstrate support for Saskatchewan showing leadership in addressing the climate crisis.

The People’s Climate March will be a peaceful, family-friendly event. Bring your kids. It’s their planet!

On facebook: https://actionnetwork.org/events/peoples-climate-march-regina-2017?referrer=&source=widget#

 

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PEACE IN SYRIA

Posted by strattof on April 14, 2017

Last week, the US launched 59 missiles against a Syrian govern-ment air base. The US says the missile strikes were in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack allegedly carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—an attack that killed 86 civilians, many of them children.

Prime Minister Trudeau “fully supports” the US missile strikes in Syria. Did our Prime Minister consider the following?

  • As yet, there is no clear evidence as to who is responsible for the chemical weapons attack.
  • The US missile strikes are illegal under international law.
  • Over the six years of this brutal war, multiple war crimes have been committed, seemingly on all sides. The US, for example, has admitted to using depleted uranium weapons in Syria.
  • While attacks with chemical weapons are deplorable, to respond to such attacks with missile strikes achieves nothing. It is war—the killing of people, whether with chemical or conventional weapons (missiles, bombs)—that is deplorable.

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

MAKING WAR IN SYRIA

CANADA MAKES WAR

March 2015: Canada became part of the US-led coalition fighting in Syria when the Harper government expanded Canada’s military mission in Iraq into Syria. 

March 2016 – 2017: The Trudeau government has twice extended Canada’s military mission in Syria, most recently until June 2017. 

April 2017: Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau endorsed the US missile strikes in Syria. Earlier this week, Trudeau went one step further than Harper, coming out in support of the US policy of regime change in Syria.

ENDLESS WAR

The war in Syria has been raging on for more than six years. That’s six years of waste, loss, and suffering for the people of Syria. Why does this war go on and on? Here are two major reasons:

  1. Foreign Intervention: The Syrian civil war has become a proxy war for the US and Russia. The US has an agenda of regime change, now shared by Canada. It wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out. Russia, Assad’s ally, is determined to keep him in power.
  2. Arms Sales: Many countries, including Canada, are making a killing selling arms to the Middle East. Much of this weaponry is being sent to Syria, fueling the civil war. Canada is the world’s second largest exporter of arms to the Middle East.

DEATH & DESTRUCTION IN SYRIA

The United Nations has declared the Syrian war “the worst humanitarian crisis since the Cold War.” It is the world’s most devastating conflict.

  • Over 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the war.
  • 9 million Syrians have become refugees.
  • 5 million Syrians are internally displaced.
  • Nearly half of the affected people are children.

MAKING PEACE IN SYRIA

There is no military solution to the war in Syria. Rather than supporting US military action and escalating the conflict even further, Canada should be working to end the Syrian bloodbath and to bring peace through a negotiated political solution.

CONDITIONS FOR PEACE

  1. All of the major parties involved in the Syrian conflict must be brought to the peace table, including the Assad government, Syrian rebel factions, Da’esh , the Kurds, the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, with the Syrians taking the lead in the discussions.
  2. The flow of arms to the Middle East must stop.

WHAT CANADA MUST DO

  • Withdraw from the US-led coalition fighting in Syria.
  • Make diplomatic peacemaking in Syria a top priority.
  • Stop selling arms to the Middle East. 

SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS

Syria accounts for more of the world’s refugees than any other country. 4.9 million Syrians have fled their homeland because of the ongoing war.

Some have found permanent homes in countries like Canada (40,000) and Germany (600,000). The majority, however, are in refugee camps in nearby countries or in Europe. Thousands have died trying to make it to Europe.

No one leaves home unless

Home is the mouth of a shark

You only run for the border

When you see the whole city running as well

From Home, a powerful poem by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire: http://seekershub.org/blog/2015/09/home-warsan-shire/

How to end the Syrian refugee crisis? End the war!

TAKE ACTION FOR PEACE IN SYRIA

RALLY FOR PEACE IN SYRIA, SATURDAY APRIL 22, 2:30 pm

PEACE FOUNTAIN, REGINA CITY HALL

Let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and your MP know you want Canada to stop making war and to start working for peace in Syria.

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

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca or 613-947-1153

Andrew Sheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4593

Erin Weir: erin.weir@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-9115

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SASKATCHEWAN’S AUSTERITY BUDGET: OFF THE BACKS OF THE POOR

Posted by strattof on April 14, 2017

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

  • The corporate tax rate: reduced by 1 point, from 12% to 11%, making it the lowest in the country.
  • Personal income tax rates: reduced by 1%.

Such corporate and personal income tax breaks will have two main effects:

  1. Further shift the tax burden from businesses to individuals.
  2. Make the tax system less progressive and more regressive: One of the purposes of taxes is to redistribute wealth from those who have more to those who have less. These tax changes do the opposite.

To make matters worse, the Wall government has raised the PST by 1 point, from 5% to 6%, and extended it to include children’s clothing. Consumption taxes, like the PST, are a greater burden for poor people than for those with higher incomes.

Now Brad Wall is offering our tax dollars to lure Calgary-based oil companies to relocate to Saskatchewan. Turns out Wall and his wife own shares in three of these companies.

OFF THE BACKS OF THE POOR

 CUTS TO SOCIAL PROGRAMS

SAID (Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities) is “an income support program for people with significant and enduring disabilities.” In August 2016, the Wall government announced that SAID recipients would lose the Excess Shelter Allowance, a cut made in the name of “equity and fairness.”

There was such a public outcry the government reversed the cut for those currently on the SAID program. However, it still applies

  • To all new applicants.
  • To anyone who changes address.

Even with the Excess Shelter Allowance, the maximum amount a SAID recipient can receive in rental support is $715. Not much housing is available in Regina for $715 a month. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $926.

PRIVATIZATION OF SERVICES

CLEANING SERVICES

The 251 cleaners of government buildings in Saskatchewan used to earn $19.20 an hour, or about $40,000 a year. Despite being the lowest paid government workers, they at least made a living wage.

Now that the Wall government has privatized cleaning services, these same cleaners are likely to make the minimum wage: $10.72 an hour. This is not a living wage.

PRISON FOOD

The Wall government also privatized prison food services, contracting out meal preparation to Compass Group, a for-profit, multi-national corporation. Now meals for Saskatchewan’s prison population are prepared in Alberta and trucked in frozen.

Since food privatization took effect, prisoners at Regina’s Correctional Centre have gone on four hunger strikes, citing concerns about food quality and quantity. Also 62 unionized workers lost their jobs.

ELIMINATING STC

The Wall government is eliminating the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), a Crown Corporation. Many people use STC, but its loss will affect different groups differently:

  • 70% of STC riders are low-income.
  • Many First Nations use STC. In BC, the absence of a rural bus service resulted in the Highway of Tears.
  • 300 rural cancer patients use STC to get to their appointments.
  • Many newly-released prisoners rely on STC to return to their communities.

STOP THE ELIMINATION OF STC

  • Sign petitions calling for plans to eliminate STC to be stopped:

https://www.facebook.com/stopthecutsSK/

http://www.saskndp.ca/stc 

LIBRARY CUTS

The Wall government has cut all funding for public libraries in Regina and Saskatoon and more than half of the funding for regional libraries. Like STC, the loss of library services will affect different people differently. For example:

  • You are an avid reader, but can’t afford to buy books.
  • You are looking for a job and don’t have access to a computer.
  • You are a high school student and need a quiet place to study.
  • You are a new-comer to Canada and want help with English.
  • You are homeless and need to get out of the cold until the shelter where you sleep reopens.

STOP THE CUTS TO OUR LIBRARIES

Sign petitions calling for funding to be restored to our libraries:

 

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HOMELESS IN REGINA

Posted by strattof on March 16, 2017

Regina is experiencing a homelessness crisis

  • The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Regina is $926, hardly affordable for a full-time minimum wage worker earning $1,863 per month. The commonly accepted definition of “affordable housing” is housing that costs a household 30% or less of its income.
  • The YWCA is currently compiling a registry of homeless people in Regina. So far there are 240 names on the list.
  • This figure does not include Regina’s hidden homeless—people who are double-bunking or couch-surfing—numbers that could double or triple the homeless figures.
  • A disproportionate number of Regina’s homeless people are Indigenous.
  • Regina’s shelters are filled to capacity.

BOOM BECOMES BUST

Regina’s homelessness crisis is so bad that a tent city sprang up last spring, with tents providing shelter for an ever-expanding number of people.

How did this happen?

  • First there was a boom and rents went through the roof. Since 2006 they have doubled.
  • For many folks this boom was a bust. They lost their housing because of rising rents and stagnant incomes.
  • Now there is a bust, but rents are still going up. More people are losing their housing.

City officials and property owners forced the residents of Regina’s tent city to move at least four times. Housing is a human right, recognized under Article 25 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

SHELTERS ARE NOT THE ANSWER

Regina has six emergency shelters, with 169 beds in total. That’s not enough beds to even accommodate the 240 Regina residents who are registered as homeless.

But emergency shelters are not the answer to Regina’s homelessness crisis.

  • Shelters are often not safe.
  • Shelters do not allow for self-reliance or a sense of dignity.
  • Shelters are not homes. A home is more than a place to sleep. It is a place where one can be any time one chooses and where one can keep one’s possessions—conditions not met by shelters, where, typically, folks have to be out of the building between 9 am and 6 pm, taking all their possessions with them.

What is the solution to Regina’s homelessness crisis? Affordable rental housing.

ELECTION PROMISES

Mayor Michael Fougere ran on a platform of ending homelessness during the 2016 municipal election. In his words:

  • We need to provide more housing and we need to end home-lessness. Those are the major things I want to see happen.”
  • It’s all about choices, and if we as a community believe [ending homelessness] is a priority, we’ll make it a priority.”

These are encouraging words!

PASSING THE BUCK

The Mayor’s preferred solution is Housing First, a program that first finds permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness and then offers them support, as needed.

The trouble is, the Mayor refuses to put any money into Housing First. Despite his election promises, he’s now saying that homelessness is not a municipal issue and that he expects the federal and provincial governments to provide all the funding. In other words, he’s passing the buck.

Currently, Regina’s Housing First program only receives funding from the federal government—a mere $700,000 annually. As a result, the program only has the capacity to house a few dozen people.

Where does this leave the 200 plus other people on the YWCA homelessness registry, not to mention all those who make up our city’s hidden homeless? Their misery and suffering continue.

ENDING HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA

Mayor Fougere is right: The City of Regina cannot, on its own, solve Regina’s homelessness crisis. It can, however, initiate a solution. Here’s a simple four-point plan:

  1. Stop passing the buck. Start a Housing First Fund. Put $100,000 into it. The money can be taken from the 2016 operating fund surplus.
  2. Ask local businesses to make matching grants.
  3. Let’s make it a community project. Many ordinary citizens would be happy to make a donation to end homelessness.
  4. When the fund reaches half a million, ask the provincial and federal governments for matching grants.

TAKE ACTION: END HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA

Let Mayor Fougere and your City Councillor know you want them to end homelessness in Regina.

  • Tell them you want the city to put money into Housing First.
  • Ask them to find funding partners in the business community.
  • Indicate you might be willing to make a (small) donation.
  • Remind the Mayor of his election promise to end homelessness in Regina.

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: Andrew Stevens       570-1402 or astevens@regina.ca

Ward 4: Lori Bresciani           570-1995 or lbrescia@regina.ca

Ward 5: John Findura            536-4250 or jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6: Joel Murray               519-2232 or j.murray@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: Jason Mancinelli      519-0078 or jmancine@regina.ca

Ward 10:Jerry Flegel               537-9888 or jflegel@regina.ca

Ordinary letters are also effective: City of Regina, Queen Elizabeth II Court, 2476 Victoria Avenue, PO Box 1790, Regina, S4P 3C8

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WASCANA PARK: KEEP IT PUBLIC

Posted by strattof on February 27, 2017

Wascana Centre, commonly known as the ‘Jewel of Regina,’ is one of the largest urban parks in North America. The public facilities located within its boundaries include the University of Regina, the Science Centre, Centre of the Arts, Darke Hall, and the Mackenzie Art Gallery. The Park also encompasses the Legislative Building, Wascana Lake, and lots of parkland.

The Wascana Centre Act, the 1978 legislation concerning the purpose and mandate of the Park, clearly intended that there would never be commercial development in the Park.

Now, as a result of some crafty maneuvering, the Park may soon have a bank within its boundaries: Conexus Credit Union.

We must not let this happen. Wascana Park is a public park. Let’s ensure it is never open to business.

NO BUSINESS IN THE PARK!

THE CONEXUS DEAL

THE DEAL-MAKERS

The deal-makers are the University of Regina, Conexus Credit Union, the City of Regina, and Wascana Centre Authority (WCA).

THE DEAL

JUNE 2016: U of R president Timmons announced a donation of $8.25 million from Conexus to the U of R’s College Avenue renewal project, to be used to restore the old College buildings.

In return, Conexus got a 90-year, rent-free lease on 2.6 acres of land in Wascana Park, adjacent to Darke Hall, on which to construct an 80,000 square foot head office.

AUGUST 2016: Regina City Council approved the transfer of 2.6 acres of city-owned land in Wascana Park, adjacent to Darke Hall, to the University of Regina “for development purposes.”

DECEMBER 2016: WCA approved the development of the Conexus head office in Wascana Park.

A SHADY DEAL

  • The Conexus “donation” clearly has strings attached. Is dona-tion the right word for this exchange of money for land-use?
  • In voting for the Conexus deal, City Council violated its own Official Community Plan, which stipulates that any new significant office buildings must be built downtown.
  • Mayor Michael Fougere and two City Councillors are members of the WCA board. In both capacities, they voted for the Conexus deal. 

A DONE DEAL

Although Wascana Park is a public resource paid for by the public, the public was left out of the decision-making process.

Yes, public forums were held in June, but they were mere window dressing. The Conexus deal was already a done deal.

  • In March 2016, WCA approved an update to its master plan to allow for “corporate partnerships.”
  • As part of the Conexus deal, in the name of heritage restoration, the Conservatory and the original Mackenzie Art Gallery were demolished. The demolition permits for these buildings were sought a day before the first public forum. 

SLIPPERY SLOPE

  • According to Mayor Fougere, $8.25 million was too good to pass up. What about the next corporation that wants a building in the Park and offers $8.5 million? Will we soon have a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Park or a Walmart?
  • The U or R administration has acknowledged that discussions have taken place concerning a presumably for-profit seniors’ residence in the Park.
  • Brandt Industries is already working on a plan to construct a large commercial office building to replace the Canadian National Institute for the Blind building on the east side of the Park. CNIB will be a tenant in the Brandt building. 

DO THE RIGHT THING

Wascana Park was founded to serve the public good. The appropriation of Park space for private benefit is detrimental to all of us who live in Regina.

It’s not too late for Conexus to do the right thing: make a genuine donation to the restoration of the College buildings and build its head office outside the Park. The City of Regina could assist Conexus in finding an appropriate location in the downtown area.

TAKE ACTION

  • If you have a Conexus account, ask to see the manager of your your branch and let her/him know you do not want Conexus in Wascana Park. Email the same message to the CEO of Conexus: ericdillon@conexus.ca
  • Let University of Regina president, Vianne Timmons, know you are not happy with the deal the University made with Conexus and suggest alternatives: 306-585-4696 or president@uregina.ca
  • Contact the Chief Executive Officer of Wascana Centre Authority, Bernadette McIntyre, and let her know you do not want any businesses in Wascana Park: 306-347-1846 or McIntyre@wascana.sk.ca
  • Send the same message to Mayor Michael Fougere: 307-777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca
  • Find out more about the campaign to stop Conexus from building in the Park. Visit the No Business in the Park facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/keepwascanaparkpublic/
  • If you would like to participate in the campaign, email

nobusinessinthepark@accesscomm.ca or

nobusinessinthepark@sasktel.net

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