Current Activity Updates
Idle No More - Message from NASA in Colombia to First Nations in Canada
Peoples' Social Forum: General Assembly in Ottawa Jan.26 & 27
We would like to cordially invite you to attend the General Assembly launching the Peoples’ Social Forum. That General assembly will take place in Ottawa on January 26th and 27th 2013 at the PSAC National Office building on 233 Gilmour St., Ottawa.
The purpose of the assembly is to officially lunch the social forum and set-up the structure of the forum and hold the initial discussions on the themes, process, date and place of the Peoples Social Forum.
The conference is free and open to all interested parties. We expect to have 70-80 organizations/individuals present from all across Canada including a strong representation from Indigenous groups, indie media labour and youth.
Saturday January 26th 2013
10 am: The political context in Canada: different initiatives proposing a common fight against the right and neoliberalism
10:30 am: What is a social forum and how does it function? How can it promote collaboration between social movements from Canada, Quebec and Indigenous Peoples? Role and function of the Social Movement Assembly in a Social Forum
12 pm lunch break
1:30pm The Canada-Quebec-Indigenous Peoples' Social Forum
- what are some of the main issues
- what regional and cross-Canada processes to lead up to a SF
- Timing: what criteria in order to decide when a Forum is held
- Venue: what criteria in order to decide upon a venue
- What kind of Forum: decentralized, centralized in one location ?
- Key structures to set-up: secretariat, program cttee, communications cttee, logistics and finance cttee, etc..
4:30 pm End of first session
6:00 pm Reception: place to be advised
Sunday January 27th 2013
9:30 am: Social Movements assembly: coalition and common action proposals (CLASSE proposal from Port Elgin)
12 pm: Lunch break
1:30 pm Setting up the basic structures of the SF: secretariat, program cttee, communications cttee, logistics and finance, etc..
3:30 pm End of second session
If you are interested in attending please send an RSVP to:
Roger Rashi email: email@example.com
Raul Burbano email: firstname.lastname@example.org before January 18th 2013.
The responsibility of the Mexican state to ensure the safety of human rights defenders and journalists
Mexico City, 11 Dec 2012 - PBI (Peace Brigades International) celebrates the recent advances in the establishment of the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in Mexico. This is an important recognition of the grave risk faced by both populations due to the work which they carry out in favor of the promotion and validity of human rights and freedom of expression. It is also important to highlight that this is the result of a collaborative effort made by Mexican civil society organizations.
The current climate of political change in Mexico, however, sets out new challenges to the continuity and strengthening of this instrument. Dialogue with, and the participation of, civil society have been crucial in the process of proposal, development and application of the Protection Mechanism, and this is an excellent opportunity to maintain and build upon the positive experience of the process so far.
Over the past 10 years, through its permanent presence in Mexico, PBI has been witness to the situation of risk and insecurity faced by human rights defenders. Mexican civil society and international organizations have worked to raise awareness of this reality, but continue to report threats, harassment, arbitrary use of the justice system, assassinations and disappearances within a context of violence and a lack of recognition of the work that human rights defenders and journalists carry out.
Help these eight Canadians Take Robocalls to Court
The Council of Canadians Eight brave Canadians are embarking on the most important fight for democracy in Canadian history: the robocall cases. Starting December 10th, the Federal Court will hear compelling evidence that a widespread, targeted and coordinated campaign of voter suppression and fraud affected the results of the 2011 federal election.
These are landmark cases. Never before has there been an attack of this scale on our most fundamental democratic right – an attack that must be vigorously challenged. But the inaction of the Canadian government has revealed it doesn’t believe this is a priority.
Enter the eight Canadians who believe it is and who are doing something about it. Driven by civic responsibility and a strong moral compass, they are taking this reprehensible attack to court, and fighting to legally restore both voters’ rights and the integrity of our democracy.
Getting this far is no small feat. For ten months, they and their legal team have beaten the odds and bested great adversity, most notably from Conservative Party MPs and their lawyers, who have tried every legal means imaginable to stop them.
But it has come with a significant cost. The Conservatives’ relentless legal obstructions have drastically driven costs up. Now, just days away from Federal Court, a hefty $300,000 legal bill hangs over the cases – a bill they simply cannot afford.
That’s where you come in. They have taken a stand to defend the very democracy every Canadian holds dear – and now they urgently need your help.
The Council of Canadians has established the Democracy 24/7 Legal Fund to raise the $300,000 needed through donations from concerned citizens like you. All it takes is 12,000 of us to each chip in $25 right now. What do you say? Will you help?
Please give as generously as you can.
No More NAFTAs! Videos from the TPPxBorder Rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership
By Stuart Trew
Council of Canadians Blog
On Saturday, December 1, I joined an amazing group of dedicated trade justice activists from the United States and Canada at the Peace Arch Park straddling the border between British Columbia and Washington State. Most of the 200+ people had made a long commute from Portland and Seattle but the energy levels stayed high from 1 to 4 p.m. for our rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks happening far, far away in Auckland, New Zealand this week.
This was in no small part thanks to key organizer Kristen Beifus of the Washington Fair Trade Campaign, who Council of Canadians chapter members will remember from our annual meeting in Nanaimo this year. And to Bill Boyer and the Backbone Campaign, who can be seen in this video (not mine) keeping the crowd warm through the occasional bursts of west-coast showers. (Backbone provided the toilet paper and ass cheeks in the photo up top.)
Chiapan encounter in unity against the extractive model
A report back from Chiapas
By Raul Burbano, CF Program Director
The event called Chiapan encounter in unity against the extractive model 2012 organized by the Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Communities (REMA) and Otros Mundos took place November 26 to 28th, 2012 in Frontera Comalapa in Chiapas, Mexico.
The gathering brought together close to 400 peasants from various municipalities across Chiapas and other states in Mexico like Veracruz, Oaxaca, Guerrero and included delegates and observers from Guatemala, Colombia, Canada and Sweden.
The objectives were to commemorate the third anniversary of the assassination of Mariano Abarca; a social and environmental activist from the community of Chicomuselo, Chiapas. At the same time creating a space for dialogue, awareness building of the negative impacts of the extractive model and exchanging stories of resistance.
The hope being that those present could take the information and experiences back to their communities to strengthen their local struggles and actions.
-read the complete report - PDF 2.4MB
Report - Toronto conference lays basis for pipeline challenge
Teach-in delivers a clear grass roots message: there is now a strong basis for organizing education and broad collective action to stop Enbridge from piping tar sands oil across southern Ontario.
by John Riddell
The November 17 conference, “The Tar Sands Come to Ontario: No Line 9,” was a big success. Three hundred people jammed into a lecture theatre at University of Toronto for the plenary session. Every seat was taken, more than 50 people stood or sat in the aisles, and an equal number listened from just outside the door.
The unusually large turnout for an educational teach-in shows clearly that there is now a basis for organized public initiatives against the threat of hazardous tar sands oil being piped across southern Ontario and Toronto through Enbridge Inc.’s “Line 9.”
The all-day conference, which included 16 workshops led by 35 speakers and facilitators, was attended by close to 400 participants in all.
The initial session featured sixteen speakers in six simultaneous workshops. Each workshop took up a different form of the tar sands’ challenge: to communities, to unionized and migrant workers, to the Global South, to climate stability, to native–non-native relations, and to environmental movements.
Following the plenary session, the conference closed with a People’s Assembly. Five workshops considering different issues involved in tar sands resistance were followed by five more bringing together activists in different regions of Toronto and Ontario.
U.N. Special Rapporteur Calls for Global Protection of Gaza Civilians from U.S.-Backed Israeli Assault on Democracy Now
Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, calls on the international community to help defend the people of Gaza from the ongoing U.S.-backed Israeli assault. "It’s time, it seems to me, for the international community to take some responsibility for protecting the people of Gaza," Falk says. "The responsibility to protect norm was very self-righteously invoked in relation to Gaddafi’s Libya, but there’s utter silence when it comes to the people of Gaza." Falk is a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and the author of more than 50 books on war, human rights and international law. We also speak with Raji Sourani, an award-winning human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. [includes rush transcript]
Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, and the author of more than 50 books on war, human rights and international law. He now teaches at University of California at Santa Barbara.
Raji Sourani, an award-winning human rights lawyer. He is the director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. He is on the executive board of the International Federation for Human Rights.
Letter to the Ottawa Citizen
re: Michael Den Tandt “China is not just another trading partner” The Citizen, 16/11/2012
With regard to the bilateral investment treaty (FIPA) with Beijing, Den Tandt is on the money stating “the Conservative government blundered into this on the assumption that dealing with China is just like dealing with any other trading nation.” Despite no effective Parliamentary review, Canadians have realized that the implications of this deal – effective for a minimum life span of 30 years – are far-reaching and dangerous. This is not sino-phobia, as some intemperate columnists charge, it is the sober second thought that serious international commitments require, something set aside by the Harper government in their arbitrary rush to approve the treaty.
One need only note the NAFTA investor-state suit, filed Nov. 8, by Lone Pine Resources, Inc.( of Calgary and Delaware), for $250 million launched against Canada claiming injury from Quebec’s anti-fracking legislation. Given the Chinese appetite for Canadian resources, and the multitude of environmental and public health issues arising from resource extraction, transport and refining, any observer might consider the prospect of a multitude of challenges from Chinese state investors (Calgary and Beijing) in future.
At a minimum the Harper cabinet should decide to open full Parliamentary debate, including thorough hearings by relevant Committees, consideration by the Provinces and public hearings. The government should publish studies it may have (or should have) done on the impact of the agreement and its secret arbitral panels on access to the courts by Canadian citizens and businesses, potential conflict with Canada’s other treaty commitments with regard to the environment, economic, social and cultural rights, and the rights of indigenous nations.
Perhaps the “blunder” can be admitted (unlikely) or, better still, reversed. The Conservative cabinet and caucus should be debating how, now.
By John W. Foster (Dr.)
Lecturer, Globalization and Human Rights, Carelton University
Canadians are nervous about China trade pact. They should be
By Stuart Trew
Canadians feel uncomfortable about the proposed Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement with China. Tens of thousands of people who probably didn’t know what a FIPA was before the end of September have sent letters to their MPs asking that it be torn up.
Many of them are worried that China-based corporations will be able to use the generous investment protections in the FIPA to challenge environmental, public health or conservation measures in Canada.
There are reasons to worry. In fact, there is a large and growing body of case law under existing bilateral investment treaties that Canada and other countries have signed proving that environmental and other non-discriminatory regulations are vulnerable to disputes from foreign investors claiming their profits were unfairly compromised by an otherwise legitimate public choice.
As the Harper government seeks to increase Chinese investment in Canadian resources (oilsands, natural gas, mining) and related infrastructure projects, it’s important that we understand how the FIPA will affect our ability to set limits on oversight and regulation.
Stuart Trew has worked as a trade researcher and campaigner with the Council of Canadians for the past six years. He is the author of the recent report, The CETA Deception, and writes frequently about the need to reform Canada’s trade policy.
Canada's Untapped Potential
The last public event of the Partner Visit was held at Casa Maiz, a Latin cultural centre in the Finch-Keele area of Toronto founded by members of the local Salvadorian community. It was a coming together of a number of different solidarity organizations: Common Frontiers, The Maquila Solidarity Network, Toronto Forum on Cuba, and Horizons of Friendship.
The Partner Visit began in rural Ontario and ended in the epitome of urban Canada - an area with the highest concentration of immigrants and refugees in the country. The message and response from the attendees, however, was remarkably similar. This common ground is key if we are to find a new place for Canada's role in the world and new forms of international cooperation. International cooperation is, and can continue to be, a unifying force in this diverse country.
Part of Horizons' program is collaborative work with the New Canadians Centre (NCC), which offers settlement and other services to newcomers to the country. Like most Canadians, most 'new Canadians' are just busy working towards a good life for themselves and their families. These voices must be heard when it comes to the changing face of international cooperation. Many have a unique perspective and understanding of Canada's role in the world - what it is and what it could be.
A letter to the Globe & Mail
A Dark Place
Ref. Shawn McCarthy “Canada in position to ratify contentious China treaty”
Now that the Conservatives have shut down the last chance for examination of the Canada-China investment deal (FIPA) in the International Trade Committee, Canadians and their Parliamentarians are left in profound darkness regarding the implications of a deal which will protect Chinese investors (State or private) for at least thirty years.
There are obviously nasty dimensions to the process or lack thereof in Parliament: not much more than an hour or two in Committee (much in camera), nothing in the House, no study, no vote. The People’s Republic is not the only “dictatorship” it seems.
This is the latest visitation of the investor-state mechanism which privileges the rights of foreign investors over those of citizens and domestic business. Some countries, most notably and recently Australia, have decided not to accept any more deals which include this provision.
What we know of the deal itself raises profound issues of its impact on the democratic political, economic, social and environmental rights of Canadians and their governments, as well as access to Canadian courts on vital issues. As one trade treaty expert has noted “The Canada-China treaty effectively concedes legislative and judicial elements of our sovereignty in a way that other FIPAs do not. Chinese asset-owners will be able, at their option, to challenge Canadian legislative, executive, or judicial decisions outside of the Canadian legal system and Canadian courts”. (Prof. Gus Van Harten, York University to PM Stephen Harper, 12/10/12) Further, the agreement exposes us all as taxpayers to liability for any injury to Chinese investors, albeit established in secret processes outside the courts.
With resource-hungry Chinese agencies rapidly expanding their interests in Canada, the possibilities for Canadians to defend their environment, to apply and improve regulation, even to require employment of Canadians can come under attack. Investors may avoid the Chinese courts, but Canadians should consider how being barred from Canadian court action and left in the hands of arbitral panels is worth the risk. Further, transparency should be mandatory, not a distant option.
Where are the government’s studies of the potential impact of this treaty on democratic rights in Canada, on Canadian’s Charter rights, on the rights and interests of First Nations, on our Treaty Commitments in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and our ILO commitments not to mention the principles of the International Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Nothing has been made public, nothing apparently studied and reviewed, we remain in the dark. Where is the opportunity for public input, with sufficient notice, evidence and openness.
This is the most serious moment in Canadian investment and trade policy since the approval of the NAFTA, and neither parliamentarians nor citizens are adequately informed or able to cast a vote. The first step would be a significant delay in ratifying this agreement, to permit tabling of research on present and future implications, public hearings and public debate, full parliamentary study and debate, and then, hopefully, full reconsideration.
John W. Foster (Dr.)
Lecturer, Globalization and Human Rights, Carelton University
THE TAR SANDS COME TO ONTARIO - NO LINE 9!
Resistance, education and alternatives
Saturday, November 17
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sidney Smith Hall, U of Toronto
100 St. George St.
A day of discussion and organizing for action to stop tar sands pipelines in Ontario. Join us for workshops, a panel discussion and a people’s assembly.
Featured guests will include:
Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Art Sterritt, (Executive Director, B.C. Coastal First Nations), along with Wes Elliott (Haudenosaunee land defender) and Vanessa Gray (Aamjiwnaang First Nation).
What is Line 9?
First Nations’ defence of their lands is spearheading resistance across Canada to the tar sands menace. In Ontario, this threat is posed by Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline, which could soon be pumping corrosive and toxic tar sands across the province.
Line 9 cuts through Toronto, north of Finch. Tar sands in Line 9 would violate indigenous land rights, menace natural environments, and threaten Toronto and communities across the province. And exploitation of Canada’s tar sands escalates climate change, posing a deadly threat to all the world’s peoples. No Line 9!
Co-Organizers: Center for Social Justice, Common Frontiers, Council of Canadians-Toronto, Latin American Caribbean Solidarity Network, OPIRG-Toronto, St. Paul-Trinity Public Witness Circle, Toronto Bolivia Solidarity
URGENT ACTION: Mining activists opposed to MAG Silver’s mine project in Chihuahua, México murdered
We express our indignation and extend our solidarity to the families of Ismael Solorio Urrutia and his wife Manuela Martha Solís Contreras of the community ejido Benito Juárez, in the municipality of Buenaventura, Chihuahua, Mexico who were gunned down on Monday October 22, 2012 as they drove their pick-up truck along a main highway to a medical appointment.
Both Ismael and Manuela were members of REMA-Barzón Nacional, the Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Communities and anti-mining activists. According to a statement from the Commission for Solidarity and the Defence of Human Rights (COSYDDHAC), Ismael had been denouncing a smear campaign and threats to his life for weeks. Just one week ago, El Barzon and other community groups submitted a complaint with the Secretary of Government (Mexican secretary of state) regarding these threats. The human rights group further reports that Ismael and his son were assaulted on October 13, 2012 by a group of employees paid by the El Cascabel mining company. In addition to being key activists opposed to the installation of a mine, they had also been denouncing the drilling of illegal wells in the Carmen river basin.
El Cascabel is a closely related entity to Vancouver-based mining company MAG Silver and central player in the development of MAG Silver’s 100% owned Cinco de Mayo mine project. Many members of El Barzon and other movements in the municipality opposed the mine, given concerns about the heavy use of groundwater in this arid region.
In response to this tragedy various members of El Barzón have occupied the capital building, demanding Governor César Duarte provide answers to what they are calling a “state crime." Legislators of the PRI in Chihuahua have been criticized in the press for having a cozy relationship with Canadian mining companies operating in the state and acting favorably toward their interests over those of affected communities.
We ask that the Canadian Embassy urge Mexican authorities and El Cascabel/MAG Silver in Chihuahua to respect the rights of the ejido Benito Juárez and the organization El Barzón and to ensure that community members can oppose the mine operations without fear of violence or stigmatization for defending land and water supplies. All levels of government should guarantee effective, democratic channels to address the demands of local residents. We also call upon the Mexican judicial system to carry out a full and impartial investigation into the murder of Ismael Solorio Urrutia and his wife Manuela Martha Solís Contreras so as to ensure that the material and intellectual authors of this crime are brought to justice.
To express your solidarity with the families of Ismael and Manuela send this letter or your own via e-mail to the Canadian embassy email@example.com copying the Investor Relations Manager at Mag Silver – Mr. Drew Martel firstname.lastname@example.org the TSX’s Investor Relations Paul Malcolmson and Shane Quinn email@example.com and their Media Relations contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information contact Raul Burbano Common Frontiers email@example.com
Aboriginal Justice Team of Christian Peacemaker Teams – Toronto Canada
Alianza Internacional de habitantes - México
Bolivarian Circle "Louis Riel” - Toronto Canada
Common Frontiers- Canada
El Barzón- Chihuahua,México
Casa Salvador Allende- Toronto, Canada
International Festival of Poetry and Resistance - Canada
La asamblea veracruzana de iniciativas y defensa ambiental - México
The Toronto Haiti Action Committee (THAC) - Toronto, Canada
The Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN) – Canada
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network - Toronto, Canada
MiningWatch - Canada
Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Rios (MAPDER) - México Pobladores AC. - México
Red Colombiana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio - Colombia
Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Mineria (REMA) - México
Toronto Forum on Cuba - Toronto Canada
Justicia for migrant workers - Toronto Canada
November 9 in Toronto:
Lessons from Women in the ALBA Nations
Two stories, two women, two countries
The struggle of women in contemporary day Nicaragua and the story of one woman in Cuba in the 1960’s intersect to paint a picture of women in the midst of a social transformation. The road to equality and women’s participation through education as a tool of social transformation from a women’s perspective.
Friday, November 9 @7pm
1280 Finch Ave W, 2nd floor
founder and director of Nicaragua's "Maria Elena Cuadra" Movement for Working and Unemployed Women (MEC) which supports unemployed and indigenous women and those working in free trade zones in eight departments of Nicaragua.
The organization was founded in 1994 and is an autonomous women’s movement that aims for the inclusion and full participation of women in the Nicaraguan society. To achieve these goals MEC works from a gender perspective on the organization, education and training of women. MEC addresses a wide set of issues affecting women such as domestic violence as well as social, labour and economic rights. It also engages in advocacy initiatives to promote changes in public policy and legislation in order to improve the living standards of working and unemployed women.
Shirley Langer, author, currently lives in Victoria, BC
Anita’s Revolution is a novel, a work of historical fiction inspired by the success of the Cuban Literacy Campaign which took place in 1961. The book explains how Cuba began educating its masses of illiterate people, people long ignored by successive governments and society. It’s about how the social classes of Cuba, so long separated, were united. It’s about how literacy empowered each individual and Cuban society, forever changing the nation. No less, this book is about the potential of youth to make significant contributions to society if given the opportunity.
Organized by: Common Frontiers, Horizons of Friendship, The Maquila Solidarity Network and Toronto Forum on Cuba
Endorsed by: Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN)
Prime Minister Harper’s free trade strategy endorses conflict-ridden mining industry
By Jen Moore
Latin America program co-ordinator for MiningWatch Canada
The Harper government’s trade agenda is front and centre this parliamentary term as the Conservatives seek to open new markets.
While coverage of Asia-Pacific and EU agreements dominate public debate, other bilateral agreements have been quietly making their way through Parliament. The House of Commons trade committee recently passed legislation to implement the Canada-Panama free trade agreement that could come before the House for third reading as early as this week.
As in other parts of Latin America, Canada has considerable interests in Panama’s mining sector, and as MiningWatch told the trade committee during recent hearings, the free trade deal is stacked in favour of mining firms at the expense of indigenous rights and environmental protection.
Ensuring greater legal stability for the Canadian mining industry in Panama means locking in a regulatory regime that has proved ineffective at preventing harm to the well-being of people and their living environment. It gives Canadian companies access to a costly international dispute settlement process to challenge pretty much any government decision they don’t like.
The long reach of Canada’s mining industry
Major news stories recently provided a glimpse into the government’s close ties with the mining industry. They hint at a cosy relationship that gives mining companies undue influence over Canada’s domestic and foreign policy, running counter to efforts to ensure that the industry respects human rights and the environment.
MiningWatch Canada recently discovered in a leaked email that Goldcorp sponsored a junket for four MPs and one Liberal Senator to Guatemala at the end of August. Among those who travelled in the company of Goldcorp’s Chairman Ian Telfer, were Conservative MPs Dave Van Kesteren and Dean Allison, both members of the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee, as well as Independent MP Bruce Hyer, Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti, and Liberal Sen. Mac Harb. Former Liberal MP Don Boudria, now with Hill & Knowlton, was also on the trip.
Goldcorp, among others, has actively participated in the committee’s study of the role of the private sector in international development, for a forthcoming Parliamentary report.
The Maple Spring is important to all Canadians, not just Quebec
By Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois
In February of this year, Quebec students began an unlimited general strike to oppose what would become an 82% increase in tuition fees by the then-Liberal government of Jean Charest.
Six months later, the record of the longest student strike in Canadian history speaks for itself. The resignation of one education minister, then another. The defeat of Premier Charest, and his government. And, finally, the repeal of the tuition hike, and an unprecedented “special law” that sought to deny basic rights to organize and protest.
Throughout the years of mobilization that went into building this social movement, we had a simple slogan: Together, we can block the hike.
But this straightforward demand was always placed within the context of a broader critique of austerity measures, and a broken system that places the interests of the rich ahead of those of the majority of the population.
Although the hike has been defeated for now, the broader struggle against this austerity agenda continues. Our governments persist in slashing taxes on major corporations (tax cuts that have failed in their stated goal of stimulating the economy and creating jobs). Meanwhile they plead poverty when it comes to funding critical social programs like education and healthcare.
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is the former spokesperson for Quebec student group CLASSE. The Maple Tour will be in Victoria Thursday and Vancouver on Friday. Details, and a livestream of Friday’s event, can be found at rabble.ca
Towards a Peoples’ Social Forum
A Grassroots Approach to a Canada-Québec-Indigenous Peoples’ Social Forum
Anger and discontent against the ruling Conservative government is on the rise all across Canada. Human rights groups, women’s organizations, cultural associations, environment groups, labour, indigenous peoples, students, generally civil society organizations feel threatened and angered by the government’s policies and actions.
Protests for social and environmental justice are erupting all over the country. Casseroles have been organized on the streets of many cities in support of the student movement in Quebec. The youth across Canada are joining hands with those from Quebec in challenging neo-liberal austerity policies.
Indigenous communities are also fighting against the government to preserve their culture and defend their lands from predatory mining and oil corporations. There are many campaigns, gatherings and protests planned for the months to come.
Yet our movements continue to be fragmented and ghettoized. We must work together and create a space for all these voices of dissent and strategize together our progressive agenda to help build links and solidarity across movements and issues.
The Ugly Canadian:
Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy
The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper's Foreign Policy documents the sordid story of this country’s sabotage of international environmental efforts, of a government enthralled to tar sands producers and a mining industry widely criticized for abuses. This sweeping critique details Harper’s opposition to the “Arab Spring” democracy movement and backing for repressive Middle East monarchies as well as the Conservatives support for a military coup in Honduras and indifference to post-earthquake Haitian suffering. The book also explores Canada's extensive military campaign in Libya, opposition to social transformation in Latin America and Harper’s far-reaching support for a right-wing Israeli government. With an eye to this country’s growing international isolation, The Ugly Canadian is a must read for those who want Canada to adopt a more just foreign policy.
“Stephen Harpers' government has fundamentally changed Canada's foreign policy in a way most Canadians do not understand. The notion of the Ugly Canadian may be hard to accept but it is true and I for one am deeply grateful to Yves Engler for this important book.”
– Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of The Council of Canadians
“A damning chronicle of Stephen Harper’s international misdeeds.”
– Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law, University of British Columbia
Dubbed "Canada's version of Noam Chomsky" (Georgia Straight), “one of the most important voices on the Canadian Left today” (Briarpatch), “in the mould of I. F. Stone” (Globe and Mail), "part of that rare but growing group of social critics unafraid to confront Canada’s self-satisfied myths" (Quill & Quire), "ever-insightful" (rabble.ca) and a "Leftist gadfly" (Ottawa Citizen), Yves Engler’s six previous books have been praised by Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, William Blum, Rick Salutin and many others.
Local Sponsors: Climate Justice Group of Science4Peace, Beit Zatoun, Common Frontiers, Toronto Haiti Action Committee, Socialist Action, Council of Canadians
National Sponsors: Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and rabble.ca
A “peoples’ tribunal” in Canada backs the Cuban Five
In the face of multiple proposals about development paths—ways out of poverty and oppression—the people of Cuba chose a way forward in 1959 that still inspires the lonely wrath of the U.S. government.
The five Cuban men who have languished in U.S. prisons for 14 years got a boost of solidarity this weekend from a “peoples’ tribunal” held in Toronto.
The five were arrested on Sept. 12, 1998 and eventually convicted of various charges that basically amount to conspiracy to commit espionage. But tribunal witnesses said the men were sent to monitor and report on violent groups in Miami that were fomenting terrorist attacks in Cuba, and that the Cuban government had shared what its findings with the U.S. government.
In the past few days, I immersed myself defenders of the five Cuban men who are in prison in the United States. A coalition of Cuba solidarity groups, trade unions and peace activists came together to hold a “people’s tribunal” to examine their case.
Breaking the Silence: Justice for the Five Peoples’ Tribunal & Assembly
Attend the Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly – come and witness directly the proceedings of a unique quasi-judicial rendering that seeks to expose to the public all that went awry with the proceedings and legal trial in South Florida of five Cuban prisoners.
Toronto City Hall
September 21st — 23rd, 2012
What is the tribunal?
It is an international opinion tribunal independent from state authorities. The Tribunal may use international human rights law and precedents of common law.
What is the purpose of the Tribunal?
To challenge the mainstream media's blackout so that they get involved in covering a story of what is very disturbing in the processes of the US justice system. The media has a choice either they cover an issue or they are complacent and tacitly ignore an injustice. It took a strong media to expose Watergate – the case of the Cuban Five is just as compelling– why the silence? Who gains from the silence?
Let's Break the Silence!
That is why; the outcry of thousands of concerned citizens over the past 15 years comes to a head, here in Toronto, at the Peoples Tribunal, be part of it!
Who comprises the People's Tribunal?
A panel of Magistrates of Conscience presides over the Tribunal. The Magistrates come from a wide cross section of highly respected members of the international community who bring their expertise to bear in hearing the case and rendering a final opinion.
How will the Tribunal be run?
The tribunal will take place on September 22nd. During the proceedings lawyers from Canada, Cuba and the US will provide details of the areas where there was the greatest miscarriage of justice in the courts of south Florida. The Tribunal will hear from impact witnesses and also experts from Europe, Canada, the US and Cuba. The families of the Cuban Five will bear testimony to their hardships concerning the barriers to prisoner rights and denial of visits imposed on them.
What is the final outcome of the Tribunal?
At the end of the proceedings the Magistrates of Conscience will render their decision, which will be published at the end of the session.
The People's Court
MP Julian Fantino gets a summons
Common Frontiers produced this video of MP Julian Fantino receiving his summons to appear before the People's Court.
And don't miss The People's Court in action on Saturday Sept 15. Click on the poster (at right) for complete details and a list of sponsors.
We are all affected by these cuts.
“Hold our heads high on Labour Day” CLC president says unions stand up for fairness
OTTAWA – The Canadian Labour Congress says that union members should hold their heads high on Labour Day because they stand up for fairness for all Canadians.
“On Labour Day we celebrate the many contributions of working people toward building a better Canada,” says CLC president Ken Georgetti. “Many of the benefits first won by unions are enjoyed by all workers today, including maternity leave, vacation pay and occupational health and safety laws. When unions stand up for fairness, they raise the bar for everyone.”
The CLC released a study in August showing that on average unionized workers in Canada earn $5.11 an hour more than do non-union workers. “That extra money in the pockets of individual workers means the union advantage is worth $793 million per week that is added to our economy,” says Georgetti.
The study, called The Union Advantage in Canadian Communities, shows the benefits that workers with unions bring to Canada as a whole as well as in 29 selected communities across the country. Georgetti says that cities and towns with more union members enjoy higher incomes overall and support a richer mix of businesses and services. “These services benefit everyone in the community. In short, they are better places to work and live.”
Georgetti says that the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have confirmed that broadly-based collective bargaining is the best mechanism to build a healthy middle class. “When working Canadians, through their unions, are able to bargain freely for decent wages, working conditions, pensions and benefits, there are demonstrable benefits for society as a whole.
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. See the CLC website for a copy of The Union Advantage study: www.canadianlabour.ca. Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour
Contact: Dennis Gruending, CLC Communications: 613-526-7431 or mobile and text: 613-878-6040 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On 20 August 2012, Dave Coles, sat down for a short interview with Fightback’s Mike Palecek to talk about the New Union Project, a proposed merger between the Communication, Energy, and Paperworkers union (CEP) and the Canadian Autoworkers (CAW). Dave Coles is the president of the CEP; Mike Palecek is a national union rep with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
-Read the whole interview in Fightback
The Peoples' Court is Coming
Here ye here ye… the people’s court will soon take place!
Federally, provincially and municipally, governments are taking away public services people rely upon. We are all affected by these cuts.
On September 15th, 2012, community groups, labour unions and concerned citizens will be holding a mock trial for these injustices against the people.
Come join us in front of the Toronto Court House at 361 University Avenue at 1pm, so your voice can be heard.
For more details please visit www.psac.com/ontario or join our Facebook
Demonstration outside the Consulate of South Africa in Toronto
When: 1:00 pm, Saturday, August 25, 2012
Where: South Africa Consulate-General, Toronto
110 Sheppard Ave East, Suite 600, (Sheppard-Yonge Subway Station)
Condemn the massacre of South African miners
Stand in solidarity with mineworkers in South Africa
A rally is being organized by labour, community and international solidarity activists on Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 1 pm, outside the Consulate of South Africa in Toronto, in condemnation of the massacre of striking mineworkers and in solidarity with South African workers’ movement.
On August 16, 2012, police launched an offensive against thousands of striking workers from the Marikina Platinum Mine and began shooting and killing dozens of workers. More than 35 workers were killed and hundreds were wounded and arrested.
The mine is owned by U.K.-based Lonmin Corporation, the world's third biggest platinum producer and it accounts for 12% of the world's output of platinum. However, the working condition of the mineworkers and the standard of living in their communities are outrageously bad.
All working people and concerned individuals and organizations are urged to join this protest action.
For more information and to endorse this rally contact:
Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity: email@example.com
Ilian Burbano, Chair, CUPE Ontario International Solidarity Committee:firstname.lastname@example.org
Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity
Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)
Latin American Trade Unionist Coalition (LATUC) Ontario
Latin American & Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN)
CUPE Local 4772
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)-Canada Branch
Toronto Bolivia Solidarity
Is Canada close to ratifying the ICSID Convention? Here's why we hope not
By Stuart Trew
Council of Canadians
It was reported recently that Canada may be close to ratifying the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (the ICSID Convention). Though Canada signed the Convention in 2006 and passed federal ratifying legislation two years later, according to most accounts all provinces must also ratify the Convention, which to date only Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have done.
Over the coming days, the Council of Canadians will be writing those provinces that haven't ratified the ICSID Convention to find out when we can expect legislation to be tabled, and to urge provincial governments to allow for adequate public input and debate in the legislature and at committee.
Though Canada is already bound by many investment treaties (ex. in NAFTA and other free trade agreements, and in Canada's Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements), ratifying the ICSID Convention would remove one of the last stop-gaps available to Canada and the provinces to contest arbitral awards against the state in investment disputes: the judicial review.
Continental Day of Action - Video & Solidarity Statements
Just over a week ago, thousands of people all across the Americas participated collectively in diverse actions to speak out against the exploitive effects of the Canadian extractive industry on their communities and livelihoods. The Canadian organizing groups Common Frontiers, Breaking the Silence, LACSN, MISN and United Steelworkers would like thank all of the individuals and organizations across the Americas that contributed to making the August 1st Inter-Continental day of action very successful.
Given the diverse collective support and solidarity that was manifested throughout the days leading up to the event and on the actual day, it is clear that communities around the world are tired of top-down development that focus on ":sustainable development": rather than sustainable livelihood.
We received excellent coverage and support across the Americas from political parties, unions and NGO's.
This is only the beginning as we intend to continue our collective actions to build a global movement in defense of life, the environment, environmental justice, the rights of communities, and workers by challenging the corporate-driven polices of our governments and demonstrating that another world is possible.
Solidarity statements from across the Americas & nformation related to Aug1st day of action:
Support statement fromGreen Party of Canada - Canada
Solidarity statement from Council of Canadians, MiningWatch Canada, CUPE (national & Ontario) and Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network - Canada
Montreal Au Qu=E9bec, le Projet Accompagnement Qu=E9bec-Guatemala (PAQG) et le Comit des droits humains en Am=E9rique latine (CDHAL) - Montreal Quebec
Declaracion de solidaridad La Mesa Nacional frente a la Mineria Metalica en El Salvador - El Salvador
Guelph Community group Aug 1 report back - Guelph, Ontario
Declaracion de solidaridad El Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo Extractivo Minero -M4 - Central America
Solidarity Statement from Institute for Policy Studies - Washington D.C.
Press release Mining Justice Alliance - Vancouver, Canada
Declaracion del Foro ciudadano de participacion por la justicia y los derechos humanos (FOCO) - Argentina
Aug 1st statement from FAN Mexic Red De Accion por la Agua - Mexico
Solidarity Statement from Comite pour les droits humains en Amerique latine (CDHAL) & Canadians Against Mining Injustices in Peru - Americas
Aug 1st statement from Brigada Cimarrona Sebastian Lemba - Dominican Republic
Hemispheric Resistance to Canadian Mining - Sandra Cuffe, The Dominion
Vancouver Co-op Radio - W2 Morning Radio Program - Vancouver
Video of Aug 1 actions across the Americas
What is Degrowth?
By Janet M. Eaton
Degrowth is a call for a radical break from traditional growth-based models of society whether ‘left’ or ‘right’, to invent new ways of living together in a true democracy, respectful of the values of equality and freedom, based on sharing and cooperation and an economy that reduces the use of natural resources and energy. — International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas, Montreal, May 2012.
The term degrowth is a translation of the French word decroissance which was first referred to by ecological economist, Nicholas Georgescu- Roegen in his 1971 paper on ‘entropy and the economic process’ which brought into prominence the ecological limits to growth as it relates to the industrial economic growth model. The discussion which Georgescu-Roegen started led to a degrowth movement in France that critiqued conventional growth economics on the grounds that growth in the highly developed nations had become socially counter-productive, uneconomic and ecologically unsustainable. To degrowth advocates, ecological concerns like the depletion of natural resources, stagnating energy supplies, pollution, climate change and loss of biodiversity, and the ever-expanding use of resources by the developed world at the expense of the developing world all pointed to the end of the classical economic growth model.
The French degrowth movement also built upon a tradition within French political culture, critical of the social ills related to the consumerism and the misguided assumptions of the economic growth model. The writings of philosophers and scholars like Marx, Gandhi, Karl Polanyi, Hannah Arendt, Ivan Illich, E.F. Schumacher and others have informed the movement. While France has been the centre of the much of the degrowth movement, it is gaining traction in other parts of Europe and in North America where it is associated to a larger degree with ecological economics and the biophysical limits to growth. In North America, ecological economics founder Herman Daly, York University Professor and author of Managing Without Growth Peter Victor, co-author of The Ecological Footprint Professor William Rees, and co-author of Energy and the Wealth of Nations Professor Charles Hall are associated with the degrowth movement and indeed the latter three all spoke at the most recent ‘degrowth conference of the Americas.
Janet M Eaton presented on Degrowth and Trade Deglobalization at the Montreal International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas, May 2012. That paper will be posted on her blog, beyondcollapse.ca.
Packed Toronto meeting discusses action plans for environmental justice
By John Riddell
On July evenings, most people in Toronto are just trying to find ways to escape the heat and humidity. Nevertheless, on Monday July 30, attendance at a meeting on Contested Futures: Tar Sands and Environmental Justice greatly exceeded the organizers’ expectations.
Over 150 people filled the room for the opening session – many had to sit on tables or stand – to hear from two indigenous leaders of environmental justice actions in Ontario and two delegates to the People’s Summit Rio+20. Participants then took part in seven simultaneous workshops on plans for future action.
The meeting was initiated by the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly (International Solidarity Committee) and Toronto Bolivia Solidarity; another twenty groups endorsed and helped build the event. Eva Portillo of Toronto Bolivia Solidarity convened the discussion.
A final plenary session heard action proposals from the workshops, including:
“Surrender a bit of space” from our varied personal projects in order to promote concerted action.
* Link resistance against corporate environmental criminals in Canada with solidarity with peoples of the Global South the resisting the crimes of the very same companies overseas.
* Link environmental issues into a common agenda.
* Learn from the strengths of Quebec’s militant student movement, which has built on decades of direct democracy, mass assemblies, and large street actions.
* Adopt the indigenous perspective of defending Mother Earth and link up with actions to protect aboriginal land rights.
*Oppose Enbridge’s “Line Nine” plan to pipe tar-sands bitumen across Ontario, across indigenous land.
* Plan a March to Sarnia – the petrochemical pollution capital of Ontario – to rally opposition to the tar-sands Line Nine project.
An organizing meeting will discuss how to move forward with these proposals.
Aug 1, 2012
Green Party Supports Continent-Wide Day of Action: Behaviour of Canadian Mining Companies Too Often Destructive
OTTAWA - The Green Party is pleased to offer its full support for today's continent-wide day of action against the global offences of the Canadian mining industry.
"The failure of some Canadian mining companies to respect the environment and human rights throughout the Americas - from Canada to Argentina - has forced the many communities affected to stand up and protest," said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands. "As a Canadian, I am ashamed that the irresponsible behaviour of some Canadian corporations has reached this level that brings our global reputation into disrespect."
60% of the world's publicly traded mining companies are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, accounting for more than 3200 exploitation projects in over 100 countries. Canada is the largest stakeholder in the resource extraction industry in the Americas with 37% of total investment.
Extractive Industry Tarnishes Canada's Reputation
Toronto, ON - On August 1st 2012, there will be a Continental Day of Action to highlight the exploitive practices of Canada’s extractive industry including oil, gas, mining of precious metals and energy resources. Close to 70 organizations representing impacted communities, labour, students, NGOs, solidarity groups, and environmental organizations in 35 cities across the Americas will conduct coordinated actions. The aim of this campaign is to raise public awareness about the negative impacts of Canada’s extractive industry on indigenous and farming communities both globally and here in Canada.
Canada is a global mining giant that leaves a massive ecological footprint on the earth’s surface. Sixty per cent of the world’s exploration and mining companies are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. These corporations account for over 3200 projects around the world.
“We are a mining union. We support responsible mining with well-paid jobs, good health and safety records, protection of the environment and respect for the communities, “says Ken Neumann, the United Steelworkers’ National Director for Canada. “But that is not how mining is been done in other parts of the world.”
Across Canada, on August 1st, there will be letter-writing campaigns to public forums, street protests and theatre.
This unprecedented action demonstrates the broad and collective opposition to Harpers corporate driven polices and points to a growing and diverse coordinated hemispheric movement to hold the extractive industry accountable for systematic abuses. Increasingly, this industry, which lacks binding legislative regulation and operates under a self-regulated banner of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is contributing to human rights violations, environmental degradation and the tarnishing of Canada's global reputation.
As Harper said at the recent summit of the Americans in Cartagena, Colombia, “Looking to the future, we see increased Canadian mining investment throughout the Americas - something that will be good for our mutual prosperity and is therefore a priority of our government.” Not everyone agrees with Harpers vision of prosperity. According to Raul Burbano from Common Frontiers and one of the organizers of the Continental Day of Action, “It’s exactly these types of corporate-driven policies that we are confronting. Looking to the future, what many communities see is increased displacement, re-militarization, destruction of community-based livelihoods, human rights violations, lack of community consultation, long -term health impacts and irreversible loss of biodiversity.’’
Events and actions are planned across eleven cities in Canada. In Toronto, a carnival-style solidarity event will be held at on the south side of Queens Park on August 1st from 12.00 p.m. to 2.00 p.m. Organizers across Canada will educate people about the injustices of Canada’s extractive industry, the urgent need for legally-binding accountability, an end to abuses and the need to put people before profits.
For more information http://lacsn.weebly.com/
Read full media release - in English en español
July 31, 2012
More Messages of Solidarity
From Mining Watch Canada
We stand in solidarity with those coordinating actions in Canada and Latin America on August 1st to protest the imposition large-scale resource extraction projects and particularly industrial mining on communities without their consent, which can have severe negative impacts on the wellbeing of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.
As home to some 60% of the world's publicly traded mining companies and currently a major source of capital in the mining sectors of many Latin American countries, the Canadian government's aggressive promotion of the Canadian mining industry in Latin America is shameful, particularly given frequent violations of individual and collective rights in mining-affected communities and the Canadian government's intransigence to enact mandatory controls on its overseas mining industry, despite repeated recommendations to do so.
-read the whole post
July 31, 2012
Message of Solidarity From Washington D.C.
To all the organizers and participants of the Day of Action Against Canadian Resource Extraction, I wish to express my solidarity to all of you on this day.
At the Global Economy Project of IPS we work in solidarity with communities across the hemisphere who suffer from destructive mining projects. We do research and educate the public and decision makers - and mobilize - on how under free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA, and bilateral investment treaties (BITs), foreign investors have the right to file “investor-State” lawsuits in international tribunals to demand compensation for government actions that reduce their profits. There are several such suits from extractive industries' companies against governments, like that of the Canadian Pacific Rim company against the small country of El Salvador. This suits cost millions of dollars to governments of poor countries that should be used for education, health, prevention of natural disasters, etc. Instead, our governments and people have to defend themselves against ruthless companies that seek extracting our own resources from our own lands, without anything in return. Worse still, our countries are often suffering the chilling effects of these investors' rights, when they think of planning and implementing responsible public and environmental policies. We must redress these rules and the Day of Action Against Canadian Resource Extraction is a great occasion of joining hands in that direction.
We wish you the best of mobilizations possible in all the corners of the hemisphere where people will come out to defend our lands, resources, and the future of our coming generations from greedy and destructive mining.
Manuel Pérez Rocha
Global Economy Project
Institute for Policy Studies
Ideas into Action for Peace, Justice and the Environment since 1963
Hemispheric Resistance to Canadian Mining
Day of action organizers speak out about repression, connections, solidarity
From Canada to Argentina, preparations are well underway for the Continental Day of Action Against Canadian Mega Resource Extraction on August 1.
Dozens of organizations have signed a call for the day of protest in solidarity with communities impacted by Canadian extractive industries. The event is meant to highlight the dominance of the Canadian mining industry worldwide. Their demands range from divestment to putting people before profit.
But some activists in North America argue that the serious repression
accompanying Canadian mining around the world requires going further than
those initial demands. They say that acknowledgment, a sense of urgency and
a deeper strategic analysis for concrete local action are also needed.
Communities and organizers resisting extractive industry projects in Latin
America continue to face displacement, harassment, threats, and death, often
dismissed as part of unrelated violence and conflicts.
The CETA Deception
How the Harper government’s public relations campaign misrepresents the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
A special report from Stuart Trew of the Council of Canadians.
July 24, 2012
80,000 take to the streets of Montreal, as Human Rights Commission declares Bill 78 unconstitutional
By Ethan Cox
It's been a wild weekend here in Quebec. On Thursday, the Quebec Human Rights Commission denounced virtually the entirety of Bill 78, in the strongest terms I have yet seen used.
Although the denunciation was sharper, the main difference between the QHRC report and other groups which have assailed the embattled law, like Amnesty and the Quebec Bar Association, is the fact that this was friendly fire.
The QHRC is a government agency, empowered to assess whether government legislation is in line with the requirements of the Quebec Charter. After two months of analysis by legal scholars and bureaucrats, their fifty-six page report is scathing in condemning the overwhelming majority of Bill 78 as an indefensibly unconstitutional mess, which violates many of our most basic rights.They point out that the Charter takes precedence over any law, and as such Bill 78 is, in their judgement, illegal.
People's summit Rio+20 video report back
VIDEO: Canada's communities are not for sale!
In 2011-2012, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Council of
Canadians organized a 16-city tour to sound the alarm about a new trade deal
being negotiated between Canada and the European Union.
"Canada's communities are not for sale!" documents the tour, highlighting
key concerns about the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
Contested Futures: Tar Sands and Environmental Justice
Reports on front-line resistance, discussion, and the search for answers
EVENT: Monday July 30, 7 p.m.
OISE, Room 5150, 252 Bloor Street West (at St. George subway)Toronto
- Raul Burbano, Common Frontiers, reporting back from Rio+20, Brazil.
- Ron Plain, Environmental Policy Analysist and anti-pollution activist from Aamjiwnaang environment group near Sarnia.
- John Henhawk, Six Nations of the Grand River environmental and land rights advocate.
Convener: Eva Portello, Toronto Bolivia Solidarity
Environmental Justice is a global issue. The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development has once again displayed government and corporate indifference to environmental needs.
Environmental Justice is an issue in Canada. The tar sands in Alberta threaten water, land and human rights. Now tar sands oil may be coming to Sarnia, Ontario.
Environmental Justice is an issue in Toronto. Residents of Dundalk, Ontario, with Six Nations support, are protesting proposed shipments of Toronto biosolids to their community.
We will have lots of time for discussion and strategizing, as we grapple with the key question: “What can we do?” The stakes are high for Ontario and humanity.
Endorsers: * International Solidarity Committee of the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly * Common Frontiers * Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network * Toronto Bolivia Solidarity * Science for Peace * Center for Social Justice * Greenspiration * Indigenous Environmental Network* April 28 Coalition * Council of Canadians-Toronto * OIRG-Toronto * International League of People's
Continental Day of Action Against Canadian Mega Resource Extraction August 1, 2012
We are heading a call from communities in the global south that have organized and are resisting the exploitive practices of the mega resource extractive industry. The organizations below, in solidarity with communities impacted by the Canadian extractive industry throughout the Americas call for a Continental Day of Action on August 1st, 2012 to demand an end to exploitative and unjust mining practices.
Civil society along with communities from Canada to Argentina will conduct coordinated actions including rallies, demonstrations, community radio coverage, letter writing campaigns and other alternative and imaginative actions of protest in front of mining corporate offices and Canadian embassies across the Americas.
• 60% of the world’s publicly traded mining companies are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. These corporations account for over 3200 exploitation projects in over 100 countries. Canada is the largest stakeholder in the resource extraction industry in the Americas accounting for 37% of the total investment.
• Canadian financial markets in Toronto and Vancouver are the world’s largest source of equity capital for mining companies undertaking exploration and development.
• Canadian-based mining operations have deeply impacted territories, communities, and life. Resource exploration and exploitation activities have caused displacement, widespread destruction of livelihoods (compromising water and food security), caused long- term health issues , disregarded sacred indigenous territories and rights, exacerbated human rights violations especially in contexts of internal conflict, and contributed to the criminalization of artisanal miners, union and environmental activists and community activists. Large-scale mining explorations and exploitations have also led to an irreversible loss in biodiversity.
• Despite the fact that large-scale mining is usually presented as a driving force of sustainable development by mining companies, governments throughout the Americas, and international institutions such as the World Bank, the long-term negative impacts on peoples and territories contrast with the vague promises of jobs, and national economic growth and development.
Divestment: The Canadian government should divest public funds from resource extraction industries. (i.e pension funds invested in GoldCorp and other corporations) and call for public funds to be invested in social programs like free education, affordable housing and universal healthcare .
Regulation: The Canadian government should enable legislation that establishes corporate accountability standards for Canadian corporations operating abroad. This legislation should penalize corporations linked to human rights violations and should allow foreign nationals to pursue legal action for damages in Canadian courts (Bills C-300 and C-323).
Stop Complicity: Stop utilizing public institutions to assist with high profile public relations campaigns conducted by resource extraction companies (such as the Museum of Natural History in Ottawa, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto, York University, CIDA-funded projects such as the Devonshire initiative .
Binding Community Consent Mechanisms: That governments and courts of the region respect and adhere to the internationally recognized right of free prior and informed consent for Indigenous communities.
People Before Profit: End free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties that enshrine the right of corporations over citizens and communities.
If your organization would like to sign on and partake in actions please contact email@example.com or see our website at LACSN
Click map for details of actions/activities per city
List of participating organizations:
Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) - Peru, Lima
Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA) Toronto, Canada
Central America Regional Association for Water and the Environment - San José, Costa Rica Central American Action Network around water (FANCA) - San José, Costa Rica /
Citizen Participation Forum for Justice and Human Rights - Buenos Aires, Argentina Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL) - Montréal, Québec￼￼￼
Committee for the Defense of Water and the Santurbán Paramo – Colombia
Common Frontiers- Canada
Corporation for Education, Research Development and Popular Education - National Union Association – Bogota, Colombia
Development of the Eastern Region Corporation (COMPROMISO) - Colombia
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN) – Toronto, Canada
Latin American Trade Unionists Coalition (LATUC) - Ontario, Canada
Lavaca - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network – Canada
Mexican Action Network around Water (FANMEX) – D.F, Mexico Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining - Mexico
Mingas in the Americas – New York, United States
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) - Toronto, Canada National Ecological Action Network - Buenos Aires, Argentina￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
Project Accompaniment Quebec- Guatemala - Montréal, Québec
Peace with Dignity – Madrid, Spain
Rights Action - Washington DC, United States
South American Action Network for Water (FANAS) - Buenos Aires, Argentina
The American Platform of Human Rights, Democracy and Development – Quito, Ecuador The Colombian Network Against Transnational Mining - Colombia
The Continental Outcry of the Excluded - Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
Observatory of Multinationals in Latin American (OMAL) – Madrid, España
The Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle - Toronto, Canada
The People’s Legal Team - Bucaramanga, Colombia
The Project for Accompaniment and Solidarity with Colombia – Montréal, Québec The University of the Earth in Puebla – Puebla, Mexico
Toronto Bolivia Solidarity – Toronto, Canada
Union of Citizens Assemblies (UAC) - Buenos Aires, Argentina
United Steel Workers- Toronto, Canada
Corporations Giving “the Business” to Canadians
Last week, in an apparent moment of heightened consciousness, Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail scolded corporations for their poor behaviour. This is the same Margaret Wente who frequently rails about unions and the need for their demise. She hasn’t yet made the connection that unions are the last line of defense against greedy corporations and their politician supporters.
Recently, I called for a separation of our government from the interests of corporate Canada. This treacherous relationship blazes the path towards austerity, oppression and income disparity. Let’s face it, corporations exist for one reason and one reason only: to make money for their shareholders.
Wages cost money. Design and innovation cost money. Research and improved technology to increase worker productivity cost money. These are long-term investments which the current business culture has rejected. Why? Because they limit immediate profits.
CUPE calls on Harper to condemn coup d'etat in Paraguay
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, with its 618,000 members, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging "the Canadian government to join the calls from around the world for the return to democratic rule in Paraguay, and for a peaceful solution to what amounts to the coup d’état that took place onJune 23, 2012."
"We were disappointed to read that Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs refers to the situation in Paraguay as an expression of democratic order. Instead, this action represents a rupture of the democratic order, leading to estabilization in Paraguay and across the region that cannot be tolerated."
Common Frontiers condemns coup against Paraguayan leader Fernando Lugo
For 61 years, Paraguay was controlled by the Colorado Party, a one party dictatorship that ruled the country under what amounted to martial law. Elections were heavily rigged, opponents were harassed and intimidated, and Indigenous peoples who rejected being relocated from their lands to make way for foreign multinationals were displaced or massacred. In 2008 Fernando Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop who comes from the tradition of liberation theology was democratically elected. Since his election, he has been fighting for the rights of the poor against the wealthy land-holding class.
This past week, the Paraguayan Congress, dominated by parties who support the traditional landed oligarchy in the country, found Fernando Lugo guilty of mishandling the armed clashes over a land eviction in which 17 people died including police and peasant farmers. This resulted in Lugo’s impeachment from office.
It is clear that the President had no direct responsibility for what took place, and that the impeachment is an excuse to overthrow the democratically elected President Fernando Lugo.
Common Frontiers joins with democratic governments and human rights bodies around the world in condemning what amounts to a coup d’état by opposition parties in Congress, in alliance with the traditional landed elite in Paraguay. We underline that the so-called impeachment did not follow due process, violating article 17 of Paraguay's constitution which provides for the right to an adequate defense.
We are disappointed to read that Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs refers to the situation in Paraguay as an expression of democratic order. Instead, this action represents a rupture of the democratic order, leading to destabilization in Paraguay and across the region that cannot be tolerated.
- We call on the Canadian government to condemn the attempted coup and refuse to recognize the new regime of Federico Franco
- We call on the Canadian government to join calls for the immediate and unconditional restoration of the democratically elected president of Fernando Lugo
- We call on the Canadian government to withdraw its ambassadors from Paraguay until democracy has been restored
- We call on mass civil mobilizations to join in solidarity with Paraguayan civil society that is in resistance defending their democracy and political system
Latin America: Mining in Conflict, an Interactive Map
Over the last decade the overall number of Canadian mines in development in Latin America has varied between 1,500 and 1,100. Of these close to 85 percent are prospective projects under exploration and development. In any given year there are around 200 mines actually in operation across the continent.
The 84 conflicts we list here are a tally of all social and environmental conflicts involving a Canadian mining project since the late 1990s. Some of these have been settled or the project has been suspended or cancelled.
Click on the locators for more details on these mines.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticizes Quebec
By Ethan Cox
Quebec students and allies outraged over the repressive and anti-democratic nature of Bill 78, its municipal companion Bylaw P-6, and other extreme police tactics, including political profiling and preventative arrests, are about to get some very heavy duty backup.
One might even say vindication?
In an opening address to be delivered (Monday) to the 47 member UN Human Rights Council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will express her "alarm" at ongoing attempts to restrict freedom of assembly in Quebec.
Her speech, a draft copy of which was obtained by UN Watch, will also express "concern" over similar restrictions in Russia (Russia's law limiting protest was passed shortly after Bill 78, prompting some to speculate it was modeled on Quebec's legislation) and "deep concern" over such restrictions in Eritrea.
In diplomatic terms alarm is a far more severe word than concern, making Canada's restrictions on protest the most troubling to the UN agency.
The People's Summit at Rio+20: Alternative civil society perspectives and climate justice
Picturesque Rio de Janeiro is playing host to the Rio+20 United Nations conferences on sustainable development taking place June 20th to 22nd. Representatives from more than 180 nations will gather to discuss the issues of sprawling megacities to unemployment.
In parallel to the official UN conference, the People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice is taking place between the 15th and the 23rd of June.
The People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice will provide a forum for international organizations and social movements to discuss the issues arising from Rio+20.
CF's Raul Burbano is in Rio and will be submitting regular updates all week as well as posting pictures in our Gallery.
Human Rights Impacts of the Canada-Colombia FTA - Olivier De Schutter video
On May 14, 2012, Olivier De Schutter (UN special rapporteur for the right to food), Alex Neve (Amnesty International) and Jennifer Moore (Mining Watch Canada) discussed human rights and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
We can't start the revolution from Starbucks - For Quebec, for OUR budget, join us in the streets!
BY ETHAN COX
This Wednesday we need your voice. We only need to borrow it for a few hours, and I promise you'll enjoy its use. It needs to be raised in unison with others across the country and around the world.
Two events are happening Wednesday night that you need to be at, wherever you are. It just might be the most fun you've had all year.
It also might be the most important thing you do all year. If anyone doubted the severity of the situation in Quebec, and the urgent need for solidarity, this weekend's events will put those doubts to rest.
Police actions over the weekend crossed a line, an even more significant one than that crossed by the reviled Bill 78. Across Montreal's metro system, and especially at Parc Jean Drapeau, where the Formula 1 racetrack is located, police engaged in "preventative arrests".
People were pulled off metros, denied access to a public park, searched, and in many cases arrested. Why? Because they were wearing a political symbol. A red square of solidarity with the student cause.
Canada, Last Holdout, Drops Opposition to Water as Human Right
By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS - Canada, in a dramatic political turnaround, has signaled its willingness to recognise water and sanitation as a basic human right.
As negotiations continue over the Rio+20 plan of action on sustainable development to be adopted in Brazil next month, Canada became one of the last Western nations to drop its opposition to a reference to water as a human right in the document titled "The Future We Want."
Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, one of Canada's largest social justice advocacy organisations, said it took "unprecedented pressure" to get the government in Ottawa to change its position.
"The shift is a good thing, but words are not enough. We need actions, and the government's actions directly contradict respect for the human right to water," said Barlowe, a former U.N. senior advisor on water to the president of the General Assembly.
Asked what next, she told IPS: "That's a very good question." She said the government is supposed to prepare a report on its plan of action and submit it to the United Nations.
"You can be sure we will be sitting on them," she added.
Video Report - RECLAME meetings in Colombia
Video report back on RECLAME meetings in Colombia April 21- 24, 2012
Prepared by Common Frontiers
Solidarity with Workers at St. Christopher House – CUPE 3393
Workers at St. Christopher House, a community agency in downtown Toronto, contract expired in March 2010 and they have been negotiating with management for over two years now. The situation worsened when management proposed major concessions to their existing health benefits, long-term wage freezes, and refusal to improve working conditions for part-timers.
St. Christopher House Workers Are More Valuable than Zero!
We understand that St. Christopher House, as well as providing programs and services, also advocates for social justice.
It is time that the employer also ensured that the people who do the front line work are also treated justly and with respect.
The hardworking and dedicated workers at St. Christopher House deserve a fair contract. A four-year wage freeze and cuts to benefits is unacceptable.
June 4, 2012
On June 4th, Common Frontiers joined with Canada's major environmental organizations, together with leading charities, unions, bloggers, and others darkened their websites to join thousands of Canadians like you to Speak Out in defence of nature and democracy.
For more information about this action and find out what you can do to participate, visit BlackOutSpeakOut.ca.
United Church takes students’ side in protests
By Sue Montgomery,
via The Gazette
MONTREAL - Representatives of Canada’s largest Protestant denomination added their voices Sunday to a growing number of social justice groups denouncing the Charest government’s special law aimed at bringing an end to months of student unrest.
About 300 delegates attending the Montreal and Ottawa Conference of the United Church of Canada adopted a motion calling for the law to be annulled, saying that rather than restore peace and order, it has “thrown oil on the flames.”
The motion denounced violence by “a minority of protesters and some police” and called for a negotiated settlement. It called on both parties in the dispute to “approach the search for a negotiated settlement in the spirit of flexibility and compromise.”
As the motion passed, the Quebec government and three main student associations – CLASSE, FECQ and FEUQ – announced a return to the negotiating table Monday at 2 p.m. Negotiations this month produced a tentative agreement, which was then overwhelmingly rejected by students.
The United Church regional body is the latest voice of opposition in a growing list against Bill 78, passed May 18 in an attempt to quell a student strike – in its 16th week – that has sparked nightly student protests against planned tuition hikes. Amnesty International, the Quebec Bar Association, the Anglican bishop of Quebec, dozens of unions and PEN Canada are among those critical of the law they say violates rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
“In our sacred scriptures we as Christians see Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem, surrounded by his faith community expressing their beliefs and he did not have to give eight hours’ notice to the Romans,” said St. James United Church delegate Ryan Fea, referring to the law’s requirement that organizers of a march give police at least eight hours of notice about a demonstration and provide their itinerary. “He was making a very strong political statement that wasn’t quelled or quashed by his government.”
May 25, 2012
Night march magic: Quebec people's movement takes over the streets
BY ROGER RASHI
It is well past midnight and I have been marching non-stop for the past four hours. There are literally tens of thousands of people marching throughout Montreal tonight!
The march I participated in started in one neighbourhood in Montreal, the Plateau, with a couple of dozen people at the corner of Mt-Royal and De Lorimier at 8pm. Within half an hour we were a thousand strong as people came out streaming from their homes, from restaurant terraces and coffee shops banging on pots and pans.
As we marched through the neighbourhood, we merged with other groups coming from the north, south, east and west. By 9pm we were several thousand. By 10pm were more than 10 housand and marching towards the neighbourhoods to the north: Rosemont, Villeray and Parc Extension. By 11 pm, this march was over three kilometres long, with an estimated 20 to 30 thousand people, chanting slogans and joyously banging on their pots and pans.
And this was only one of several spontaneous marches going on throughout the city. The cops were practically invisible. How could they cope with thousands of people streaming simultaneously from 6 to 10 different neighbourhoods in the city, with no fixed route and no discernible organization or leadership?
Council of Canadians support for legal challenges “stirring up strife” (at least we’re not extremists)
OTTAWA – The Conservative Party of Canada’s lawyers yesterday filed a second motion to dismiss the legal challenges of individual citizens seeking to overturn federal election results in seven ridings – this time because it alleges the Council of Canadians’ support for the cases is “improper.”
The more than 750-page “omnibus” motion is nearly twice the size of the “budget” implementation act, Bill C-38, which seems concise by comparison at only 420 pages.
“We found the Conservative Party’s latest response surprisingly restrained,” said a bemused Council of Canadians executive director Garry Neil. “They have apparently abandoned their attack on the Council as an ‘extremist’ group and, unlike the epithets thrown at their political opponents, we aren’t being accused of being Nazi sympathizers, or terrorists, or being on the side of the child pornographers. However, their allegations do verge on accusing us of exercising mind control over the nine applicants, so that’s new.”
“I only wish the Conservatives had put as much time and effort into their investigation of the robocalls scandal as they’ve put into chastising the Council of Canadians,” said Neil.
The Conservatives accuse the Council of “malice” towards the Conservative Party, based on their claim that there is strong “evidence” to challenge the outcomes in “21 ridings where the margin of victory for non-Conservative candidates was less than the plurality” in some of the seven ridings. If this alleged “evidence” is so strong, why did the losing Conservative candidates in those 21 ridings take no legal action?
-Read the rest of the media release
Bolivia's Pablo Solon on the "Green Economy" Fraud
by Pablo Solon
Via Focus on the Global South
Twenty years after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, the environmental crisis continues to worsen. The unsustainable development model that gained dominance in the world resulted to grave loss of biodiversity, melting of polar ice caps and mountain glaciers, alarming increase in deforestation and desertification and the looming danger of an at least 4ºC increase in temperature, which will threaten life as we know it. Science is saying that we are approaching a point of no return that will change the way our planet has behaved over 650,000 years”
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20) that will take place in Rio de Janeiro this coming June is expected by many to be a milestone opportunity to address the issue of the restoration of the equilibrium of the Earth’s system. But instead of moving the world towards a just and sustainable path, the document that is being negotiated for adoption in June is promoting new market mechanisms for the commodification and financialization of nature, life and ecosystem services under the mirage of a “Green Economy”
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) developed the concept of “Green Economy” on the argument that the recurring energy, climate, environmental, food and financial crises are results of “gross misallocation of capital.” The UNEP analysis does not acknowledge the problems inherent in treating nature as capital, which has led to the hyper-exploitation of the Earth’s resources and further expanded the already severe inequalities between and within nations, and among societies and peoples.
-Read the entire article
First Colombian trade deal human rights report is a disappointment
By Brittany Lambert, Raul Burbano
The Canadian government has shirked its responsibility to human rights by
failing to table a serious and credible report on the impacts of the
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, as mandated by law.
The trade deal came into force in August 2011 after being stalled in
Parliament for nearly three years due to widespread concern that it could
exacerbate existing human rights violations in Colombia.
The compromise that allowed the deal to pass was a treaty requiring both
governments to report annually on the free trade agreement's human rights
impacts. The inclusion of such a provision in a trade deal is a global
precedent, one touted by the Harper government as a meaningful way to ensure
human rights accountability in trade with Colombia.
Festival of Solidarity 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012 - 11:00 - 23:00
École Le Plateau,
Parc Lafontaine, Montreal
From Indignation To Mobilization
“AFTER THE QUEBEC SPRING: MERGING THE STRUGGLES”
June 9th 2012, Alternatives will hold a one-day Festival of Solidarity featuring conferences, entertainment and family activities. Its purpose is to bring together leaders of this spring's various social movements around the idea of uniting in a common battle against the right-wing agenda of austerity and regression. An international conference will feature the renowned environmental author Hervé Kempf as well as a leader of the landless movement MST/Via Campesina from Brazil. Well-known activists including Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Québec's main student spokesperson, will also be speaking.
· Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Quebec student spokesperson,
· Patrick Bonin from the organizing committee “April 22”,
· Brigitte DePape organizer of “Power Shift” movement in Ottawa,
· Raul Burbano from “Common Frontiers” in Toronto;
· Chair: Michel Lambert, Director of Alternatives
-See website for full program details
The federal government tables a non-report on free trade and investment impacts on human rights of Canada-Colombia FTA
Toronto, May 17, 2012 -- Canada's first legally-required assessment of the human rights impact of free trade with Colombia, tabled in the House of Commons this week, is completely inadequate, validating widespread concerns that the Harper government prioritizes trade and investment flows over human rights in Latin America, says Common Frontiers.
"The Federal government’s first Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) presents no information on the existing human rights crisis in Colombia" says Raul Burbano, coordinator of Common Frontiers, a multi-sectorial network of unions, activists and faith groups. "The report does not reference ongoing displacement of Indigenous and Afro-Colombia communities from their land, or continued violence against labour unionists, or a continuing culture of impunity for perpetrators of threats, intimidation and murders, much of them related to the kinds of economic activities-- like extractive industries and mass agriculture-- that the federal government hopes to reinforce through its recent free trade deal.”
More trade unionists are murdered in Colombia than any other country in the world: 17 have been murdered since the agreement went into effect on August 15, 2011.
-read the complete media release
-read the CF backgrounder document
More Harsh Criticism of the Report
From Embassy Magazine
First Colombian trade deal human rights report is a disappointment
By Brittany Lambert, Raul Burbano
The Canadian government has shirked its responsibility to human rights by failing to table a serious and credible report on the impacts of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, as mandated by law. The trade deal came into force in August 2011 after being stalled in Parliament for nearly three years due to widespread concern that it could exacerbate existing human rights violations in Colombia.
-read the entire post
From the Mining Watch Blog
Canadian Human Rights Report on Colombia a ‘Sick Joke’
The Canadian government’s human rights report tabled in Parliament Tuesday regarding implementation of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement might as well have been a comic strip of three monkeys: “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
Its substance is summed up in the first three pages of the eighteen-page report (that’s counting the title page and two annexes that occupy twelve pages). In essence: there will be no human rights report this year because only nine months have passed since the agreement was implemented.
-read the full post
Empty human rights impact report yet another failure by government
Amnesty International Canada is deeply disappointed by the Canadian government's unilateral decision to ignore the 15 May 2012 deadline stipulated in Canadian law for tabling in Parliament of a report on the human rights impacts of the Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
The document tabled by the government yesterday does not attempt any analysis of the human rights impacts of Canadian promotion of trade and investment in this war-torn country, claiming “sufficient trade data is not available”. Instead, the document provides only a cursory outline of steps the government plans to follow in order to prepare future reports, promising that the first will be completed a year from now in 2013.
- read the full post
Shout Out Against Mining Injustice
June 1-2, 2012
The Council of Canadians is hosting Shout Out Against Mining Injustice, a two-day international conference aimed at exposing the appalling environmental and human rights abuses of Canadian mining companies. Workshops, panel discussions and strategy sessions will raise awareness, build resistance and strengthen existing networks of solidarity.
Shout Out will feature engaging sessions with leading activists and representatives from mining-impacted communities in Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador and Canada. The conference starts on Friday, June 1st with a Public Forum featuring high profile speakers, community activists and musical acts. Saturday, June 2nd will offer delegates the chance to engage in discussion on vital issues ranging from the right to water, Indigenous rights and environmental justice within the context of mining. We will share experiences, explore campaign strategies and build alliances to strengthen the movement against mining injustice.
The events will bring together participants including: representatives from mine-affected communities; Indigenous communities; grassroots organizers; human rights activists; civil society groups; and concerned individuals from Canada, the United States and Latin America.
Mining Injustice Conference – Bill C-323: Amending Canadian Courts to Hear Foreign Cases
Mark Rowlinson is a member of the United Steelworkers and lawyer who drafted Bill C-354 that aims to hold corporations legally accountable for human rights violations committed abroad.
Common Frontiers in solidarity with Quebec students
Common Frontiers expresses its solidarity with Quebec student protestors that have taken to the streets for close to four consecutive months now. The breakdown came after Education Minister Line Beauchamp barred members of the Coalition de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE) from participating in talks.
Quebec students took to the streets in protest to Premier Jean Charest’s plan to increase tuition by 75 percent over the next five years. Although the proposed tuition hike was the catalyst for the protest, student demands go beyond tuition hikes to include broader societal concerns over inequality, the environment and public services in Quebec. This has resonated with many in the rest of Canada who feel the same way.
Common Frontiers shares the concerns of many civil society organizations, including Amnesty International who has expressed concern over the use of excessive force by police against student protestors in Quebec. The Canadian branch of Amnesty human-rights has asked the government to call for a toning down of police measures that, it said, are unduly aggressive and might potentially smother students' right to free expression.
The majority of protestors are peaceful and partaking in legitimate acts of civil disobedience yet their basic rights are being violated. We call on the police and provincial Government to ensure the right to peaceful protest, including freedom of assembly, expression, and association are respected.
We condemn any tactics of arbitrary detention and police operatives acting as “agent provocateurs” to incite violence in the student crowd in order to delegitimize student protests. Police have used agent provocateurs in the past for such activities including at the North American leaders’ summit in Montebello Quebec in 2007.
The Canadian Council for International Cooperation and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre invite you to the conference Trade and its Impact on Human Rights : Spotlight on the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement presented by Olivier De Schutter, Human Rights Expert and UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Security.
Monday, May 14, 2012 - 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Tabaret Hall, Room 083, uOttawa
Light refreshments will be served.
-RSVP by May 10, 2012 : HRREC@uottawa.ca
-Click on the poster for more details
Report Calls for Dignity for All in Israel/Palestine
Toronto - The United Church of Canada today released the report of its Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy. The report will be considered by the denomination's 41st General Council, which meets in Ottawa, August 11-18, 2012. Until that time the working group's report is not policy of the church, and its proposals are solely recommendations.
Former United Church Moderator, the Very Rev. David Giuliano, chaired the three-member working group. He says the working group believes that the dignity of all peoples in the region must be at the heart of any United Church policy directions.
"Without dignity for all the people of the land, and for the land itself, justice that leads to peace is not possible," says Giuliano.
The 26-page report was completed following extensive consultation, including a 12-day visit to the region in February 2011 . During that visit the working group met with representatives of Palestinian, Israeli, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities in Israel and the West Bank.
- Read the complete Media release
- Download the complete text of the working group's report [PDF: 26 pp/309 KB]
- Questions & Answers [PDF: 6 pp/135 KB]
Global Civil Society Calls on Governments to Strengthen, Not Weaken, UNCTAD’s Role in Global Governance
Sign-on Letter with 38 International and 137 National Organizations from Across theGlobe Delivered to Negotiators at UNCTAD XIII in Doha
Today, global civil society called on negotiators at the 13th quadrennial conference of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD XIII, to ensure that conference strengthens UNCTAD’s role on keys issues of global economic governance and financial reform.
The letter reads, in part:
It is essential that the 2012 UNCTAD Declaration affirms, rather than retreats from, the progress made at the UNCTAD XII in Accra. …
The collective policy analysis must recognize the root causes of the global crisis, its impacts, and mandate a role for UNCTAD to continue its excellent economic and finance research and critical analysis, in order to truly assist developing countries in creating solutions to the crises – rather than pushing them to implement more of the same deregulatory trade and investment policies that led to the global crises in the first place.
Finally, the role of UNCTAD as an alternative voice to the “Washington Consensus” paradigm – being the only multilateral economic institution focused on development – must be strengthened vis-à-vis the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD, and the G20 in global economic governance decision-making.
Graphic - Canada's Free Trade Empire
The National Post recently put together a striking graphic, illustrating how Canada has expanded it’s free-trade regime significantly further under Stephen Harper than under previous governments. Below, a look at Canada’s free-trade empire:
(Click on the image to see a larger version)
On the ground at the Peoples Summit
Common Frontiers Executive Director Raul Burbano is in Cartagena, Colombia, attending the Peoples Summit from April 12 -14. During the summit, he'll be posting updates on what's happening. You can follow the updates at commonfrontiers.ca/Cartagena
-see Raul's photos from Cartagena
Thu Apr 19, 2012
Harper pushing extractive industry in Latin America but communities are pushing back
Cartagena, Colombia - At the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Harper spoke to CEOs from across the Americas and unveiled Canada’s plans to expand into Latin America with vigor. Trade and investment, especially in the resource extraction sector, will be the engines driving this expansion. Canadian mining companies already have a significant presence in the region, with two-thirds of all mining projects in the Americas.
Harper carefully outlined to the business leaders the importance of the extractive sector to the Canadian economy, emphasizing that “mining alone contributed 50 billion dollars to GDP in 2011”. He went on to boast about the high standards of the industry, saying that Canadians are “justly proud” of their mining industry “for its elevated sense of social responsibility.”
What he neglected to mention was that many communities in the region don’t share his vision of development and that Latin America is rife with resistance against Canada’s extractive industry. Montreal’s Osisko company learned this lesson the hard way when it tried to impose a mining project in the northern part of the state of La Rioja, Argentina. Even though the project was only in the exploratory stage, it met with local and nationwide protest. So much so that the company publicly acknowledged that it lacked a “social license” for exploration and development around the Famatina project, and put its operations on hold.
- read more
Mon Apr 16, 2012
Interview with Chris Ferguson from the United Church
Sun Apr 15, 2012
Interview with Iván Cepeda Castro, defender of Human rights and Congressman - Friday April 14th Cartagena Colombia
Iván Cepeda Castro: Really, it's premature to make any analysis but what we have seen based on experience and unfortunate stories of other countries that have already undertaken Free Trade Agreements. This will have a negative impact on the country. To start, we already have an immense portion of hectors of land assigned to mining companies, one of them AngloGold Ashanti and others that in the wake of their presence in the country leave poverty, misery and destruction. Trade agreements that are totally unequal and destructive for Colombia. Hence why our position is not flexible here and we reject FTA’s even when they come decorated with clauses that say they support Human Rights. The little weight that these carry in relation to the disaster created by multinational corporations in Colombia is key.
-read the entire interview
-listen to the Spanish audio
Fri Apr 13, 2012
Cartagena - Late last night, Foreign Ministers met to discuss the exclusion of Cuba in the summit. According to Nicolas Maduro the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Venezuela who announced on Colombian TV that ministers approved a surprised proposal with 32 of the 34 countries present at the summit agreeing to invite Raúl Castro, President of Cuba, to attend the summit of the America’s this coming Saturday. Only 2 countries stood alone opposing Cuba’s participation in the Summit, Canada and US. Although the resolution is not binding and is more symbolic it adds gasoline to the fire of the issue of the continued exclusion of Cuba at the Summits.
- read more
Thurs Apr 12
The People's Summit - The True Voice of the America's
Cartagena - The People's Summit a counter event to the official Summit of the Americas is appropriately titled, The True Voice of the America's. It kicked off yesterday with representatives from Labour, Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, student groups, workers, civil society, Ecumenical and NGO’s from Colombia and other countries across the continent. They gathered to share their stories, develop alternatives and build on one another’s experience.
- read more
Summit of the Americas: An opportunity for Canada to reboot its troubled Americas Strategy, say NGOs
Ottawa, April 12, 2012. Canadian civil society organizations will be following this weekend’s Summit of the Americas closely, hoping to see Canada live up to its promises when it comes to Latin America. The Summit, which will take place in Colombia, will bring together 34 heads of state from across the continent, including Stephen Harper and Barack Obama.
Canada designated Latin America as a foreign policy priority in 2007, but its record of action to date has been narrowly focused on trade. In the months leading up to the Summit, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) conducted consultations on how to improve its Americas Strategy. Civil society urged the government to play a stronger role on issues such as democratic governance, corporate accountability and human rights.
“Civil society is hoping to see Prime Minister Harper signal a more genuine commitment to the Americas at the Summit,” says Julia Sanchez, president-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation.
The organizations consulted by the government have years of experience in Latin America and connections to thousands of women's, labour, human rights, peasant, church and indigenous organizations across the continent. They are well-positioned to advise Canada on how to become a more credible actor in the region.
Canada has been under fire for negotiating free trade agreements with countries that have poor human rights and democratic governance records. It has also been widely criticized for the performance of its extractive sector, which has too often been linked to death, displacement and environmental damage in Latin America.
“The Summit of the Americas is an opportunity for Canada to restore its status as a global champion for human rights,” says Brittany Lambert, Coordinator of the Americas Policy Group.
The following briefing notes summarize the concerns and recommendations that the Americas Policy Group, a coalition of approximately 40 Canadian NGOs, labour unions, research institutions, church and solidarity groups presented to the government on trade, mining, democratic governance and security.
The Americas Policy Group can recommend experts in both Canada and Colombia to speak to journalists about their expectations for the Summit and Canada’s role in the Americas.
For more information contact:
Brittany Lambert, Coordinator, Americas Policy Group, CCIC
Phone: 613-241-7007 x 333. Mobile: 613-608-0369. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chantal Havard, Government Relations and Communications Officer, CCIC
Phone: 613-241-7007 x 311. Email: email@example.com
Canada's regional Americas strategy at a crossroads
In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper designated Latin America as a foreign policy priority. He appointed a minister of state for the Americas and embarked on a high-profile visit to the region.
The record of action to date has been narrowly focused on trade, at the expense of deep engagement on such important issues as development, security, corporate accountability, democratic governance, and human rights.
Canada's narrow approach probably won't be well received at the upcoming Summit of the Americas, which is to take place in Colombia on April 14 and 15. It flies in the face of a tide of governments hungry for new, homegrown approaches to hemispheric co-operation and integration including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia.
Mr. Harper's trip to the summit, to which 34 heads of state are invited, is an opportunity for him to signal that Canada is willing to modify its approach.
North American leaders seek common trade and security agenda ahead of fractious G20 and Summit of the Americas meetings
By Stuart Trew
As far as North American leaders summits go, this week’s meeting in Washington, D.C. was low-profile, low on energy and even lower on inspiration. It seemed directed elsewhere, outside of continental concerns, as a preparation for the upcoming Summit of the Americas and G20 at the end of the month in Mexico, or as an opportunity for Prime Minister Harper and President Calderon to gang up on President Obama regarding entry of their countries into Trans-Pacific Partnership talks that the United States has all but seized complete control over.
If we were tempted to shrug our shoulders and say “what’s the point” of this show of camaraderie, a joint resolution from Canada’s federal and provincial privacy commissioners on the Canada-U.S. Beyond the Border Action plan woke us up to the dangers of “improving” the border on Obama’s security terms. The consequences for global trade and economic development talks could also be affected by this week’s events in Washington as a neoliberal bloc of mostly rich countries seeks ways to undermine Global South efforts to rebalance the global economic order.
Obama, Harper and Calderon had not met like they did Monday since 2009, when Security and Prosperity Partnership talks were put into cold storage by the new U.S. president. An economic crisis which the world continues to struggle out out of put the neoliberal idea at the heart of greater North American economic integration on life support. The languid joint declaration from yesterday’s summit stays faithful to that particular North American project in the name of job creation. A 2012 NAFTA Commission meeting alongside the leaders summit also issued its joint declaration on regulatory harmonization, changes to Rules of Origin, and other tweaks designed to improve supply chain flows across borders.
But the reality is that despite continental trade surpassing $1 trillion last year, economic and social inequality is on the rise in all three countries. Trade doesn’t trickle down — we’ve known this for years. Neither harmonizing chemicals and nanotechnology regulations nor opening up more land to oil and gas exploration will create enough jobs to matter for North America. Ditto for high tech security fixes at the border or beyond. We’re talking marginal economic gains at the margins that will be entirely soaked up by a corporate bureaucracy known globally now as the 1 per cent while the overall crisis continues.
Obama and North American Counterparts Keep it Low Profile at Today's Three Amigos Summit
Washington DC – In a very quiet meeting today, the White House hosted the “three amigos,” President Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Unlike the days of President George W. Bush, there will be no photo-ops with sombreros or great fanfare this time.
A succinct White House press release of March 16th informed that “US President Barack Obama will host his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on April 2 for a North America summit.” The purpose of the meeting is to “exchange views ahead of the Summit of the Americas, set for April 14-15 in the Caribbean beach resort city of Cartagena.”
President Obama promised on the campaign trail (in February 2008) that his meetings with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, “unlike similar summits under President Bush,” would be “transparent” and would involve “citizens, labor, the private sector and non-governmental organizations in setting the agenda and making progress.” However, not even the agenda of this summit has been made public.
The White House states that the “The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signatories will focus on economic growth and competitiveness, citizen security, energy and climate change." Notwithstanding that these are all issues in which the civil society organizations of the three countries have deep concerns and much to say, they are not involved.
Murder of Indigenous Opponent to Canadian Mine Sparks Protest at Canadian Embassy in Mexico City
While Mexican organizations protest in front of the Canadian Embassy Wednesday against the murder of an indigenous leader, Canadian NGOs call for a full investigation, respect for indigenous rights, and an end to corporate impunity.
On March 15th, Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, an Indigenous Zapotec community leader and member of the Coordinating Committee of the United Peoples of the Valley of Ocotlán (CPUVO) in San José del Progreso, Oaxaca, was murdered in an ambush by a group of some three gunmen. His brother Alvaro Andrés Vásquez Sánchez and local activist Rosalinda Vásquez were also wounded and remain in hospital. Bernardo was an outspoken leader against the mining operations of Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver Mines in San José del Progreso, Oaxaca, known locally by the name of its Mexican subsidiary, Minera Cuzcatlán.
“A man deeply involved in the protest against Canadian mining company Fortuna Silver and its impact on local water sources has been murdered,” said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Legislation in Canada is desperately needed so that when human, environmental and labour rights are violated outside our country those directly affected have some recourse through the Canadian court system.”
Photo Credit: The Roberto Stefani - Centro Prodh
Two years on, Canadian government silent on Blackfire case of corruption and murder in Chiapas, Mexico
(Ottawa/Toronto) Two years after filing a complaint with the RCMP for corruption allegations against Calgary-based Blackfire Resources, a group of Canadian civil society organizations would like to know where Canadian authorities stand on the company's controversial operations in Chiapas, Mexico. But, after an eighteen-month wait, a request for information to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade under the Access to Information Act is still unanswered.
Documents obtained in late 2009 by Common Frontiers, MiningWatch Canada, the United Steelworkers and others indicated that Blackfire had been paying into the personal bank account of a former mayor of the municipality of Chicomuselo, Chiapas, where the company operated a barite mine. On March 10, 2010, nine Canadian civil society organizations filed a complaint with the RCMP under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. National press revealed this past summer that the federal police have undertaken investigations with reports of a raid on the company's Calgary offices. No charges have yet been laid.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership
Who stands to benefit from TPP?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a multilateral Free Trade Agreement that
seeks to further liberalize the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.
Its proponents refer to it as “next-generation trade agreement” that will enhance trade and investment by eliminating tariffs, promoting innovation, economic growth and development, and helping to create jobs.” But critics have challenged all these assertions given the negative impact up to now of trade and investment treaties on human rights, environmental policy, social equality and real economic opportunity. Others have questioned whether the TPP is about trade at all or whether it is simply a political tool of the Obama administration – the economic wing of “America’s Pacific Century,” which includes political and military containment of China in the region.
There are nine countries in the TPP negotiations; Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the U.S Since the APEC summit in Honolulu in November 2011, three others have indicated they would like a seat at the table: Canada, Mexico and Japan. The Japanese government faces enormous public and political opposition to the TPP given demands that it remove protections to its auto sector and rice farmers as a condition of entry. Canada has also been asked to guarantee concessions in areas such as intellectual property and its supply management policies for some agricultural products.
- Download the complete poster (PDF 926 kb)
Wikileaks Cables Reveal Killing Hits Record Levels
Slaughter in Colombia
This article originally appeared Feb 23 on www.counterpunch.org
by DANIEL KOVALIK
For years, it has been believed that Guatemala led the Hemisphere in mass slaughter in the modern era, with 200,000 victims in the 1980’s – about 94% of them at the hands of the U.S.-backed state and its death squad allies. Very sadly, it appears that Colombia has shattered that record, and, as Wikileaks reveals, the U.S. is quite aware of this.
Thus, in a November 19, 2009 U.S. Embassy Cable, entitled, “2009-2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report,” the U.S. Embassy in Bogota acknowledges, as a mere aside, the horrific truth: 257,089 registered victims of the right-wing paramilitaries. And, as Human Rights Watch just reported in its 2012 annual report on Colombia, these paramilitaries continue to work hand-in-glove with the U.S.-supported Colombian military.
Even for those of us deeply involved in Colombia, this figure is staggering. The only time I saw such a figure before was in a book (Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror) which I recently reviewed on this site, and which cites one independent journalist for the claim that around 250,000 victims have been killed by the Colombian para-state. This book further claims that this number has been artificially lowered through mass graves and Nazi-style crematoria.
It appears now that the U.S. has been quite aware of this death toll for over two years, though this knowledge has done nothing to change U.S. policy toward Colombia — which is slated to receive over $500 million in military and police aid from the U.S. in the next two years — and certainly did nothing to prevent the Obama Administration from seeking and gaining passage of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement last year.
WIN! Toronto city council seeks exemption from Canada-EU trade deal
By Stuart Trew
Council of Canadians
In a surprising but welcome move, Toronto City Council voted Tuesday on a motion calling for the Ontario government to exclude Toronto from the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The vote came down around 7 p.m. ET following a truly fascinating debate about free trade that included a passionate speech against NAFTA from conservative councillor David Shiner. Even the mayor’s brother, Doug Ford (another conservative), voted to support the exemption — proving the issues in CETA span traditional political lines and are uniting municipalities against parts of, and in some cases all of, the deal.
Shiner told council there’s “nothing in here” (the CETA) to demonstrate big jobs and economic benefits to Toronto. He even said he’d like to see the City favouring companies in the area more often, to give them opportunities to “bid on our needs.” He admitted “I may be breaking the mold some councillors have put me in” by raising doubts about the value of free trade deals to local manufacturing.
Peruvians oppose CIDA’s pro-mining initiative
By Rick Arnold
Former CF co-ordinator
“…I am writing to you to express our concern regarding a new tripartite development policy involving government, mining companies and non-governmental organizations that intends to facilitate mining investments in our southern countries”. Miguel Palacin Quispe the General Coordinator of CAOI (Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations)
On September 29, 2011 Canada’s Minister of Cooperation, Bev Oda, announced three pilot projects to reduce poverty in Peru, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. The novel wrinkle in this announcement is a new willingness shown by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to ‘partner’ with Canadian mining firms and with International Development NGOs to deliver ‘development’ projects to communities affected by Canadian mining activities overseas.
In the case of the new million dollar World Vision Canada-led project in Peru, CIDA is providing a 50/50 match for funding from Toronto-based Barrick Gold. "World Vision is grateful for the generous support the Government of Canada is offering for this project," said Dave Toycen, President and CEO of World Vision Canada. "It will help residents of Quirulvilca, Peru, especially women, youth, and people with disabilities, become more involved and influential in their own community planning. In addition to providing loans for people to start small businesses, there will be capacity-building for local leaders to ensure Quirulvilca follows a path of sustainable development in the long-term." However, public and private monies being channeled through agreeable NGOs is a controversial move and is being much discussed internally by Canada’s international development community.
The troika members behind the pilot project in Peru have avoided publicly going into any detail about this ‘development’ initiative - perhaps with good reason. Active opposition to Barrick Gold’s presence in the district of Quiruvilca in the department of La Libertad goes back several years. For example on the 9th of February, 2007 some 3,000 people demonstrated against ongoing Barrick operations in the district.
Report unveils potentially devastating effects on Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) of CIDA's new funding mechanism
Ottawa, March 2, 2012 - A report documenting the impacts of the new funding mechanism at CIDA’s Partnerships with Canadians Branch on Canadian CSOs –and their partner organizations in developing countries- was launched today by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and the Inter-Council Network. The report presents the results of a survey that was conducted in January 2012 and completed by 158 Canadian organizations involved in international development.
A major change was implemented in July 2010 in the way that the Partnerships with Canadians Branch (at CIDA) funds the programs of Canadian organizations in developing countries. The process moved from responsive programming, designed in close collaboration between CIDA officers and development organizations, to a competitive call for proposals mechanism, more directive and aligned with CIDA’s priorities.
A year and a half later, CSOs are competing amongst themselves and against new players (such as foundations) to receive CIDA funding. This situation goes against core tenants of development effectiveness, which requires time, predictability, trust and long term partnerships. In addition, results of the last calls for proposals have seen dozens of well-known, highly respected development organizations lose their funding, irrespective of their past, and usually exemplary, track record. Small organizations, that link Canadians across the country to international development issues, have been hit the hardest.
“CIDA needs to take a step back and re-assess the call for proposals mechanism”, says Julia Sanchez, President-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation.
More media coverage of CF events
Masochistic” Free Trade Agreements are Not a Win-Win for Canada
Final event of LACSN month of events
By Erika Del Carmen Fuchs - Toronto, Feb 27 - What does the erosion of democracy look like, and what can we do to stop it? On Thursday evening, three panelists talked about how free trade agreements negatively impact countries’ and citizen’s power, but also how countries and citizens are stopping this corporate power grab. Stuart Trew of Common Frontiers and Council of Canadians spoke of the power that the investor state dispute resolution clauses in trade treaties gives companies to sue countries. “It is a sadistic process,” Trew stated... -read full article
Media coverage of CF events
Indigenous Leadership Vital to Stopping Tar Sands and Pipelines: Environmental Justice Panel
By Erika Del Carmen Fuchs - Toronto, Feb 16th - The Media- Co-op Community activists, environmentalists, First Nations and NGO organizers came together in Toronto to discuss strategies for social movements to work together to build a more environmentally just future. This included opposing the Canadian government's plans to build more pipelines to export tar-sands oil, and working towards joint strategies for Rio+20 a UN conference on sustainable development. In June of this year, indigenous peoples and social movements will converge in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to remind world leaders that they want systems change not climate change.... -read full article
Movement Report back: Environmental Justice and Solidarity
By Megan Kinch - February 18th - The environmental justice movement has been distinguished by practicality as opposed to a particular ideological or tactical frameworkfor action. This diversity was exemplified by Thursday’s panel- part of Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Month, which featured a broad range of tactics from direct action, to community organizing to put political pressure on governments, to indigenous resistance, all together on one panel, bound by a common cause... -read full article
Public Forum Eroding Democracy & Sovereignty: Corporate Trade, Investment, Free Trade Agreements & Resource Extraction in the Americas
-Click poster at right for larger view
Manuel Pérez Rocha, Institute for Policy Studies in Washington and
Professor Anna Zalik, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Stuart Trew, Common Frontiers, Council of Canadians
Event organized by the Latin American Caribbean Solidarity Network as part of the Latin America and Caribbean Solidarity Month.
Stop Canada’s Environmental Injustice: Building for the Future
Ben Powless, Indigenous Environmental Network
Raúl Burbano from Common Frontiers and
Brent Patterson, Council of Canadians (National Office), both just returned from the world Thematic Social Forum: Capitalist Crisis, Social and Environmental Justice in Porto Alegre, Brazil
Kim Kerridge, Greenpeace
Dave Vasey, Environmental Justice Toronto
Andrea Peloso, Code Pink
Challenges to Harper’s plans for more pipelines to export dirty Canadian tar-sands oil; opposition to mining injustice; protection of Ontario farmland from mega quarry destruction, safeguarding secure public water supplies, and more: environmentalists are active in many fields.
Yet Canada’s government remains among the worst promoters of environmental injustice. As we approach the June 2012 Rio+20 world conference on sustainable development, how can we best link and advance our common struggle for environmental and climate justice in Canada and internationally.
Common Frontiers, Toronto Bolivia Solidarity (action group of OPIRG Toronto)
Latin American Caribbean Solidarity Network, Toronto Greater Workers Assembly International Solidarity Committee
Link to LACSM poster
The activities of Canadian corporations on the lands of Indigenous peoples' in other countries
Common Frontiers has joined a long list of Indigenous peoples' organizations and NGO's in presenting a joint submission to the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Its 80th session is being held 13 February - 9 March 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland:
Our organizations are deeply concerned that Canada has failed to provide any information on corporate accountability in its latest reports to this Committee and has, in fact, failed to comply with the Committee’s recommendations or address the important human rights concerns that they reflect.
- read the entire report - PDF
As global austerity policies promise more inequality and misery for the majority of people across the planet there continues to be innovative, pluralistic and vibrant global movements challenging the “system”. By linking local with global struggles they seek to transform society to a more just and equitable one.
Common Frontiers is in Porto Alegre (Brazil) from at the Thematic Social Forum: Capitalist Crisis, Social and Environmental Justice - Preparing the Peoples Summit Rio+20
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First Update - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2012
“adeus capitalism, adeus capitalism”
By Raul Burbano
CF Executive Director
The Thematic Social Forum (FST) (Portuguese acronym) got underway this week with various activities at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) campus and other metropolitan cities. The FST is a preparatory stage for the People's Summit in Rio +20, the UN conference on sustainable development which occurs in June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro. It will be at Rio+20 that social movements will launch their proposals that they want to see implemented, and at the same time hold governments and institutions accountable for those and other commitments.
If the title of the forum, “Capitalist Crisis, Social and Environmental Justice” sets the tone for the groups and their discussions, the message is clear; we need to reinvent the world. The main themes are divided into larger areas dealing with various topics such as the green economy, water, science and technology, the commons etc. There’s also self-organized activities with free themes to allow for a pluralistic and diverse set of ideas and expression.
The welcoming event of the conference was low key with a group of close to 200 people from around the world gathered in a hot and dimly lit auditorium. We heard from the President of the Central Unica dos trabalhadores do Rio Grande do Sul (CUT/RS), Celso Woyciechowski. He was passionate in his discourse and touched on the need to develop a collective consciousness and the need to move away from individualism.
Sergio Haddad a member of the coordinating committee was emphatic that it was a pivotal moment for educators to reflect on the crisis impacting nations and the education system. His message was clear, the world was in crisis and educators have a pivotal role to play confronting and creating a more egalitarian educational system.
What energy was lacking in the opening session was certainly made up for in the opening march in the afternoon. As the afternoon sun blared down on those gathering at the Largo Glenio Peres Plaza the festive atmosphere began to unfold. More than 10,000 activists according to the Jornal do Comericao (a local newspaper) made their way through the heart of the city, up avenida Borges de Medeiros toward the Anfiteatro por do sol. The march lasted more than 2 hours and had the participation from diverse sectors of society life including students, unions, teachers, environmentalists, anarchists etc.
Protestors included a coffin caring procession of people dressed in black with their faces painted. In the coffins they had small tress to symbolize the death of forests. When asked why they were marching a member named “REX”, he said “we are marching to show that forests are dying, and that everything is interlinked, the water we drink and the air we breathe”.
As the rain clouds gathered above the crowds the energy continued to build. Even as a down pour fell on the crowds they continued to march and dance as if the elements did not exist. As the procession snaked its way along, one could hear a constant slogan “adeus capitalism adeus capitalism, (goodbye capitalism, goodbye capitalism).
Supporters of “The Other Campaign” declare their community closed to alcohol and drugs
They have also prohibited Canadian mining and forestry companies from coming in to exploit their territory, and in addition are accusing police authorities of protecting delinquents.
Hermann Bellinghausen, reporter
Published in La Jornada: 13/01/2012
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas - Organized community members from Siltepec, located in the Sierra Madre of Chiapas, closed off access to the municipality to beer companies, distributors of alcohol and drugs, as well as to Canadian forestry and mining companies that are working their territory; in addition they closed down 18 cantinas and called into question the actions of the police, the mayor and the State’s Public Ministry, all of whom they accuse of protecting the delinquents.
As of Thursday (Jan. 12, 2012) they decided “to organize ourselves at the municipal administrative centre so as to be able to, in coordination with ejidos*, scattered rural dwellings, neighbourhoods and communities, exercise control over our territory without the intervention of political parties or government.”
The civil society organization Luz y Fuerza del Pueblo-Region Sierra, supporters of The Other Campaign, with a presence in 38 municipalities in the region, stated: “Our municipality, similar to most in Chiapas, is suffering from serious problems with alcoholism, too many bars, a proliferation of drugs and prostitution, the cutting of trees and the commercialization of the environment, facing the clandestine looting of minerals by Canadian mining companies in the Honduras Ejido and in the community of Las Nubes in the Toquian Grande Ejido, while the companies attempt to intervene in others"
Mexican Government fails to protect its Citizens
Common Frontiers has published an open letter to the Mexican Government:
For the past two decades Mexico has experienced devastating social, economic, and political impacts as a result of policy choices made by its government.
Changes made to land tenure systems, agricultural support and privatization in the years leading to the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as the impacts of the trade deal itself, had harsh consequences for Mexicans.
. . . We stand in solidarity and support of movements, organizations and communities in Mexico that have organized for a more dignified and just life, but also against the escalating violence.
Help VALE win the "Worst Company in the World" award - vote now
VALE is in the running for the "prize" of being named the "Worst Company in the World" by the Public Eye Awards. The prize will be awarded during the Annual World Economic Forum, that brings together corporate and government elites in Davos, Switzerland.
You can vote here, to show your disgust for the way this powerful Brazilian-based company carries out its operations in 38 countries throughout the world.
Behind its fabulously high profit levels and clever image control lies a sad story of union bashing, hiding workplace accidents, environmental devastation and running roughshod over local communities impacted by its mines and plants.
And now there should be lots of spaces before and after where this kind of thing can go.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement Unions Demand Fair Trade NOW!
The governments negotiating the TPP FTA can and must do better. Trade unions demand a seat at the table and an agreement that fully protects the rights of workers producing the goods and services traded in the global economy. The complete text of the joint trade union labor chapter proposal is available online here.
The TPP FTA Unions have prepared four Fact Sheets for more information.To view them, click on the titles below:
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