Harassment in Parliament: Complicated issues require complicated conversations

rabble news - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 9:14am

Halifax NDP MP and deputy party leader Megan Leslie says she "cannot believe" Liberal leader Justin Trudeau went public with allegations of "serious personal misconduct" by two Liberal MPs against two NDP MPs.

But really, given the state of the nation -- the fascinating, mostly thoughtful, sometimes insightful, occasionally knee-jerk conversations triggered by recent Jian Ghomeshi allegations but now broadened to include issues of consent, rape culture, sexual and workplace harassment, who-knew-what-when-and-what-did-they-do-about-it-when-they-found-out -- it's hard to imagine Trudeau reacting otherwise.

Last Wednesday, Trudeau called a press conference to announce he was suspending his MPs and referring the allegations to the Speaker of the House.

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Dishonouring Remembrance Day: Harper's photo-op hop across the Pacific

rabble news - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 8:32am
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stephen Harper left the Beijing APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) conference early. Following the official photo op, Minister Stephen Harper hopped back across the Pacific to Canada for Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Cenotaph (rebranded as the War Memorial) in Ottawa, and more photo ops.

The APEC meetings took place with world tensions building in the Pacific region. There is bad blood between Russia and the West over Ukraine; relations between China and Japan have deteriorated: and the U.S. "pivot" towards China causes deep concern in Beijing.

To push a political advantage, the prime minister was prepared to leave a meeting of world leaders early, in order to use the 11th of November for partisan political purposes.

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Intra Vires (Within Our Jurisdiction)

Toronto Media Coop Featured - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 9:11pm
A city bylaw can protect us from hazardous oil

By John Riddell, with thanks to the many Toronto-area ecological activists who reviewed and edited this text. Also available in leaflet format (see below).

On August 28, 2014, Toronto City Council voted overwhelmingly to ask pipeline company Enbridge Inc. not to pump dangerous tar sands oil (diluted bitumen) across the city. Enbridge ignored City Council’s request.

Enbridge’s troubled Line 9 project, running across the top of the city near Finch Ave., poses an urgent threat to the health of Toronto residents.

Meanwhile, on the rail line crossing mid-Toronto, rail tanker cars carrying another form of unconventional, toxic crude oil pose a similar danger. This equally unconventional crude called Bakken fracked oil killed 47 people when it exploded in Lac Mégantic in 2013.

Our city government already tightly regulates the transport of gasoline and many other hazardous substances. Toronto needs similar rules to prevent the transport of toxic unconventional oil by pipeline or rail. The public health dangers are alarming: potentially lethal explosions, fouling of the city’s water supply, poisoning of its atmosphere.

Railways and pipelines are regulated by the federal government. But Canada’s Supreme Court has acknowledged municipalities may need to act beyond their normal jurisdiction to protect public health and the environment.

Supreme Court ruling

In its 16 October 2013 submission to the National Energy Board (NEB) on Line 9, the City of Toronto cited a Supreme Court precedent (Spraytech v. Hudson, 2001): “The Supreme Court here refers to the principle of ‘subsidiarity’ which suggests that local governments, being the closest to the people, should be empowered to exceed not lower national norms” [citing] “the role of municipalities as ‘trustees of the environment’” said City Solicitor Graham Rempe.

Spraytech v. Hudson upheld bylaws passed by many cities, including Toronto, that protected residents' health by stopping the use of weed-killers on lawns. The court overruled a protest by the chemical companies that regulation such chemicals lay outside municipal jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court has also cited the “precautionary principle”, whereby “environmental measures must anticipate, prevent, and attack the causes of environmental degradation”, even if there is a “lack of full scientific certainty” regarding “serious or irreversible damage”.

Burnaby leads the way

A recent NEB order violating the spirit of this Supreme Court decision is now being appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal by the City of Burnaby, BC. The NEB had overruled a Burnaby bylaw protecting a city park from damage by pipeline company surveyors.

Burnaby says the NEB lacks authority to take such an action. “No federally appointed panel should have that power; it doesn’t exist in the NEB Act, and it has never been claimed before by any federal tribunal. This is a very serious question that a higher court needs to decide”, says City of Burnaby counsel Greg McDade.

Burnaby supporters have encapsulated this position in the term “Intra Vires” (Within Our Jurisdiction).

Burnaby has invited other municipalities to join in their submissions on this issue to the federal court.

Toronto needs to act

Other jurisdictions have taken initiatives similar to the Burnaby’s bylaw. For example, in the United States, South Portland (Maine) blocked use of its port as an export point for Line 9 tar sands oil.

Line 9 and rail carrying fracked oil in Toronto

Toronto should adopt a bylaw banning the transport of unconventional oil such as diluted bitumen and Bakken fracked oil across the city. Doing so would not only protect Toronto residents, but would add an authoritative voice to those across Canada calling for protection of municipal authority over public health and local environmental issues.

Intra Vires

A decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the right of Canadian cities to pass bylaws to protect residents will change the balance of power in Canada toward more local control. This can pave the way for wider participation In key decisions like Line 9. Cities can become the heart of a new, more direct democracy which values the commons and climate justice, while fostering community decision-making.

August 28 decision: http://www.bit.ly/1olkj3J
Rempe: http://bit.ly/1tYLaqw (PDF)
Spraytech v. Hudson: http://bit.ly/1yMjWGN
Precautionary principle: http://bitly.com/1qJkfRY (PDF)
Burnaby: http://bit.ly/1zNF1oC

Published by:
East End Against Line 9 http://eastendnotar.org
StopLine9-Toronto http://stopline9-toronto.ca

Leaflet version available at:
http://www.stopline9-toronto.ca/line9toolkit.php (bottom of page)


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Lazy journalism

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 6:41pm

Do you want to see more independent reporting from Parliament? Please chip in now to keep rabble.ca on the Hill!

An object lesson, perhaps, in just what's wrong with the great, grey, rancid mindset that passes for mainstream Canadian "journalism" these days. First, this clunker:

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Four things you need to know about the 2014 Vancouver civic election

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 6:38pm

Advance voting for Vancouver's 2014 Civic Election is now open.  If you didn't know about the election, you are probably not alone.  If my newsfeed is any indication, Vancouverites know way more about Toronto’s mayoral candidates and recent election than our own.  This is not a new phenomenon.  In Vancouver’s last civic election, voter turnout was abysmally low at 34.6 per cent.  That is even worse than the turnout for our last provincial and federal elections at 58 per cent and 61.1 per cent respectively.

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Wind farms don't hurt people's health. But turns out some people find them annoying.

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 4:31pm

We now have another study that confirms that there are no health impacts associated with living near wind farms.

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Energy East mega-pipeline could bring oil spills to a river near you

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 4:06pm

TransCanada just filed an application for the largest, longest tar sands pipeline in the world. If built, the project would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands crude 4,600 km across Canada every day.

Not only would Energy East dwarf other massive tar sands pipelines like Northern Gateway and Keystone XL, the plan would also see two new massive oil tanker terminals built on the shores of the St. Lawrence River and Bay of Fundy, which would threaten sensitive ecosystems.

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Remembrance Day: Focusing on mental health and healing

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 3:08pm
What do we honour on Remembrance Day? Should we shift our focus to mental health instead of militarism? Refocusing Remembrance Day on mental health and healing
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From Ottawa back to ISIS: A Muslimah's perspective

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 2:46pm

On October 22, 2014, the day I was flying back into Toronto, the news of the Ottawa shooting unfolded.

I ditched the mainstream outlets for word on the twitter streets where it took all of an hour for mainstream media outlets, politicians and every third person on the #ottawashooting hashtag to sprout off about "terrorist Muslims."

Tragedy became about using words like "terrorism," "muslim" and "recently converted" to derail from actual news.

The vitriol wasn't far behind, a thin fabric masking the stench of racism and xenophobia arrived in its usual glory, and people felt no ways about pronouncing their misplaced disgust.

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United Nations immunity versus human rights in Haiti: Stephen Lewis speaks

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 2:12pm

Public forum featuring Stephen Lewis, former ambassador of Canada to the United Nations

Topic: United Nations immunity versus human rights
Date: Wed. Nov. 12, 5:30 pm to 7 pm
Location: Chancellor Day Hall, Maxwell Cohen Moot Court (NCDH 100), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal
Admission: Free

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Refocusing Remembrance Day on mental health and healing

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 1:58pm

Remembrance Day: November 11, 2014.

I have recently been thinking a lot about what this holiday actually means, due to recent conversation on Facebook and talk radio regarding the London Ontario Santa Clause Parade.

A person was claiming it is disrespectful to have the Santa Clause parade before Remembrance Day -- and seven weeks before Christmas -- because it makes it seem as though Christmas is more important than Remembrance Day. And, that Remembrance Day is actually a very important day to reflect on war, military and the veterans that we have lost and that it reflects current military ideology and is relevant to the context of war today. 

However, some people claim that Remembrance Day appears to be acting as war propaganda: 

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Unintended prescience of 'In Flanders Field' appropriate for Harper's Canada

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:43pm

Maybe it's the centenary of the First World War that took me back to John McCrae's famous poem. But maybe it was a mistake. Because it made me remember that McCrae's beloved paean to the soldiers who had died in a pointless war was not what I wanted it to be. For the longest time, probably out of wishful thinking, I had paid no attention to the final verse. There first two, it seemed to me, said all there needed to be said. 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

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Women take action for institutional change in Vancouver city elections

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:33pm
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 The Vancouver election in on November 15. Who's to say whether anything real will happen once the elections are over and done with? That's where the Hot Pink Paper Campaign comes in!

We're talking about it -- we've been talking about it for years, in fact. The difference is that not so many people were listening before.

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How the CBC could handle harassment reports better

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:31pm
When this former CBC employee reported sexual harassment at work, the reaction was not what she hoped. Here are her thoughts on how the CBC could have handled it better. CBC could have handled my harassment report better. Here's how.
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Cruel and Unusual: The Conservatives' many-sided assault on refugee and migrant health

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:16pm

Prime Minister Harper has mused that his legacy could be linked to his work with the immigrations file.

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If nothing else, the Conservatives are persistent

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 11:13am

Love them or hate them, you have to concede one thing to the Harper Conservatives: They are persistent. Some might say stubborn or high-handed, even when wrong-headed. Once they have embarked on a course, they do not let themselves be deflected -- not by public opinion, not by the courts (the restoration of anti-prostitution laws being a current example), not by Parliament, not by expert opinion and certainly not by common sense.

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Searching for media democracy amid mainstream corporatocracy

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 11:02am
Monday, November 10, 2014 We need media democracy! Luckily Media Democracy Days were held this weekend where everything from the digital divide to the politics of representation were discussed.

I cannot remember the last time I watched or listened to a mainstream news outlet and actually felt more informed, more engaged and more like an empowered member of a mass citizenry, instead of feeling cheated, disillusioned and enraged at whose voices were repeated over and over again.

Probably because that has never happened.

Last Friday, Nov 7, kicked off Media Democracy Days (MDD). Founded in 2001, this annual event (now expanded into a weekend) celebrates independent and democratic media in Canada.

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To Remember is to Work for Peace

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 10:46am

While on holiday in England this past September, my partner Kelly and I visited a stunning art installation at the Tower of London.

"Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper commemorates the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Every day since July 17, ceramic poppies representing each British and colonial military death in that war have been laid in the Tower’s moat. This will continue until November 11, when the moat will be full with 888,246 poppies.

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The politics of a case of harassment in the House of Commons

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 9:49am

Do you want to see more independent reporting from Parliament? Please chip in now to keep rabble.ca on the Hill!

It might have been hoping for too much to expect a tale of sexual harassment in Parliament, which directly involved Members of Parliament from different parties, not to become political.

On the first day or two after Liberal leader Justin Trudeau suspended two of his MPs for alleged acts of harassment against two NDP members, all sides scrupulously avoided partisanship.

CBC panelists even remarked on that notable fact.

Then the tone of dialogue between the Liberals and the New Democrats changed markedly.

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Animal protection groups launch national anti-fur campaign

rabble news - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 9:30am

Two animal protection groups have begun a new national campaign to end the confinement and slaughter of millions of animals every year to support Canada’s fur industry.

The #MakeFurHistory campaign was started by The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (APFA) and The Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) with the support of LUSH Cosmetics.

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