If there's one thing that neoliberal politicians have figured out, it's that dividing people to conquer them is the best way to impose bad policy.
Indeed, it seems like everything that leaks out of the lips of our glorious Prime Minister seeks to divide and then conquer some community.
But social democratic parties aren't immune from these tactics either. Whether intentional or accidental, dividing people further is a deadly mistake.
The headlines shift hourly between Ebola and ISIS. The question is often asked, "Should we put boots on the ground?" The answer is yes -- but not in the Middle East. We need tens of thousands of boots on the ground dealing with Ebola: boots of doctors, nurses, health professionals, dealing with this wholly preventable global health disaster.The question "Should we put boots on the ground?" is often asked. The answer is yes, in terms of dealing with Ebola. We need health professionals dealing with this preventable global health disaster.
OPPENHIEMER PARK - Strong camper, supporter, legal observer and media presence at the Homeless Tent City kept Vancouver Police at bay last night. The City of Vancouver had a court order for the VPD to move in and dismantle the three-month-old Indigenous camp and arrest campers as of 10pm, but they held off.
Many of the more than 250 campers have already packed up, but many remain at the site - vowing to defy the eviction order.
A brief attempt to enter the camp last night just after 10pm by two VPD officers and a fire marshall were met with calls for an immediate wall of supporters linking arms around the camp and the police quickly retreated to their idling "VPD Mobile Command Unit."
The most popular rumour is that police will enter the camp and make arrests orf remaining homeless campers early tomorrow morning.
Just when you think you're finding your way out of the woods, there's that damned Bitumen Bubble again.
This time, it's crude oil prices that are declining -- or, as they say in journalese, the official language of the Internet, "plummeting."
This is handy for conservatives once they're elected and want to cut the crap out of public services they promised to protect, but not so good in the lead-up to an election during the phase when conservative governments of all stripes go into a tax-and-spend-liberal-spree mode and shower dollars on electors.
In New York recently, not only did Prime Minister Harper skip the UN Climate Summit, but the Canadian government was the only UN member state raising objections to the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
The same week as the UN meetings, the Norwegian oil company Statoil announced that it is shelving its Corner expansion project in the tar sands for at least three years. Statoil’s a small player in Alberta, but its decision points to obstacles facing all companies in the tar sands. Statoil’s press release cites “costs for labour and materials” as well as “market access issues”. Crude oil prices are also at two year lows, hurting high cost tar sands producers. The change in Corner’s status follows Total’s decision in May to shelve its Joslyn project indefinitely and Suncor’s cancellation of an upgrader facility in 2013.
What links this story to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples are the reasons behind the Corner decision. Statoil’s press release explicitly mentions “limited pipeline access” which “weighs on prices for Alberta oil”. There is no shortage of pipelines in the works, with proposals from the likes of Enbridge and TransCanada to ship bitumen to the Gulf Coast, New Brunswick, British Columbia, and elsewhere. However, strong and continuous resistance has called into question the future of these projects, in spite of the Harper government’s attempts to expedite them. Clayton Thomas-Muller, member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation and co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign of the Polaris Institute, says that “today’s fight for energy and climate justice has been redefined in both Canada and the United States by a new sophistication in resistance from Indigenous social movements, such as Idle No More, the international Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, and dozens of local examples”. How has this resistance affected companies like Statoil?
Decision Seven Years too Late
When Statoil acquired several leases in the tar sands in 2007, it had plans to eventually produce 200,000 barrels of bitumen a day. The company emphasized a “step-wise approach” and began production in 2011 at Leismer, a demonstration project with a capacity of 20,000 barrels a day. Statoil insists that Leismer, its only Albertan lease in production, will continue as planned, but some of its critics have doubts. Greenpeace Norway’s Truls Gulowsen wrote on the organization’s website: “The project is dead. The sum of the protests, technical problems, high CO2 emissions, cost, and lack of pipelines to get the products to market have made Statoil see the writing on the wall, seven years after everyone else”.
The project was controversial from the start in the company’s home country, not least because the Norwegian government is its majority shareholder. Their presence in the tar sands has been roundly criticized by a variety of groups in Norway, including Greenpeace, the Norwegian Church, and some investment companies. A major source of criticism is the project’s projected carbon footprint. Statoil’s method of extraction, steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), whereby steam is injected into the ground to heat the bitumen and pump it to the surface, is more water and carbon-intensive than the more familiar open-pit mining method used around Fort McMurray. In 2013, bitumen began leaking out of the ground at Canadian Natural Resource Limited’s Primrose SAGD project. The Alberta Energy Regulator’s green-light for CNRL to resume the project before the investigation is complete raises concerns over the safety of SAGD projects in general and further erodes public confidence in the regulator’s decision-making.
Free, Prior, and Informed Consent
“The government has not listened”, says Crystal Lameman, a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation and the climate and energy campaigner for the Sierra Club Prairie Chapter. Surrounded by SAGD projects, her nation’s members now face no trespassing signs when traversing their territory. “They didn’t listen, we had no choice but to take them to court and that’s just what the Beaver Lake Cree did in 2008 for the cumulative impacts industrialization has wreaked on our traditional territory”. The nation has been granted a trial after the federal government’s appeal was dismissed. Statoil is one of many companies represented on the list of thousands of infringements; the company is operating on her nation’s traditional territory in Treaty 6, about 100 km north east of Edmonton. Ms. Lameman adds, “Even though companies like Statoil might follow all the regulations, these are systems of manufactured consent. We have been speaking out for a long time about these systems created outside of our community that do not honour our right to free, prior, and informed consent, our right to self-determination and original jurisdiction over our traditional lands and territories”.
The “market access issues” cited by Statoil are a direct result of people speaking out and taking action. These efforts are paying off as the U.S. government continues to delay the decision on Keystone and the fate of other pipelines remains uncertain. The Yinka Dene Alliance, representing many First Nations in the path of the Northern Gateway pipeline, has vowed to ‘hold the wall’ and not let the pipeline snake across their territories. First Nations in Canada are in a unique position to challenge these projects on judicial grounds given the Crown's duty to consult and constitutionally-protected Treaty rights across much of the country. On September 26th, the Federal Court of Appeal granted leave to the Gitxaala Nation to apply for judicial review of Northern Gateway’s approval process, over its inadequacies in consultation and accommodation. The Chippewas of the Thames are challenging the National Energy Board’s approval of Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal on similar grounds. A series of direct actions have also contributed to a delay in Enbridge starting up Line 9 as its integrity digs are behind schedule. Speaking of diverse forms of resistance, Clayton Thomas-Muller says that “these strengths, rooted in a strong Indigenous spiritual foundation, have placed Indigenous Peoples in the forefront of the fight against neoliberalism and its worst manifestation: climate change and the associated drivers, such as Canada's tar sands and the dozens of battle zones across the continent where the promotion of hydraulic fracking is threatening the water”.
Under the current system, review panels or tribunals hear comments on proposed projects and weigh the interests of different stakeholders. But the types of concerns considered are quite narrow and the arbiters on the panels generally do not have to justify the weight given to Aboriginal concerns. The Alberta Energy Regulator, for example, has the authority to approve massive extraction projects, but has stated that it does not have the jurisdiction to deliberate on constitutional issues, which includes Treaty rights (see article here). The fall 2014 report from the Environmental Commissioner also noted that there is a lack of clarity over how decisions on environmental assessment are made and identified gaps with Aboriginal participation. And yet, these processes, designed and dictated unilaterally by the provincial and federal governments, often pass for ‘consultation’, and are sometimes legally challenged afterwards at great expense to individual First Nations.
Extreme Degree of Caution
While the duty to consult continues to be defined in the Canadian court system, the Harper government fights against the principles of free, prior, and informed consent at the international level. Canada was one of few countries to initially reject the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canada adopted the document belatedly in 2010 with conditions and referred to it as “aspirational”. In its reservations to the Outcome Document out of the WCIP meeting, a document on implementing the UNDRIP, the government argued that integrating free, prior, and informed consent if interpreted as a veto “would run counter to Canada’s constitution” and would undermine existing consultation processes. This differs from the government’s statement in 2010, which read: "We are now confident that Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the declaration in a manner that is consistent with our constitution and legal framework".
Prof. Dwight Newman, a Canada Research Chair and law professor at the University of Saskatchewan responds, “I can’t see that there would have been any domestic legal consequence to Canada just signing on with the WCIP Outcome Document. Canada’s response seems to reflect an extreme degree of legal caution”. At a time when the Canadian government is facing legal challenges from First Nations from coast to coast over resource extraction projects, it seems that the government is eager to curtail an interpretation of consultation that would include veto rights. Otherwise, if regulatory processes were to require the consent of impacted First Nations before proceeding, some of the projects trumpeted by federal ministers would be dead in the water.
Recent announcements to postpone projects or delay pipelines are hailed as victories by the environmental and indigenous rights movements. The decisions contribute to the slowing pace of growth in the Alberta tar sands. In its June 2014 report, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) downgraded its previous production estimates, but still aspires to an increase from the 1.9 million barrels produced from the tar sands per day in 2013 to 4.8 million b/d in 2030, with the largest increase in SAGD. Statoil continues to operate in the tar sands at its Leismer site and has invested in recent years in shale oil and gas (“fracking”) leases in the United States. Indigenous peoples and allies continue to confront the Canadian government from the blockade to the courtroom over regulatory systems that suppress dissent and legislative changes that threaten the environment. Despite the formidable challenges, Crystal Lameman speaks hopefully of the future – “We are on the trajectory to change the system. It is changing every day”.
Prepare to fill your head and heart with unique, inspiring, Indigenous-themed film and panels.
While of course this film festival is awesome for everyone involved, I wanted to highlight to few Saami focused films playing through the festival. These will be presented in order of date.
Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 9:45 p.m.
Ealli Guoddá Joavkkus (Leaving the Herd)
The narrator of Hysteric, Quebecoise author Nelly Arcan's recently translated second novel, is -- like her creator -- a young Plateau Mont-Royal writer named Nelly whose debut novel about her years as a prostitute was an international success. Having sworn at age 15 to end her life at 30, Nelly tells us early in the text that "something within me has always been absent."
But the gaze of a nameless lover, a young freelance journalist with a penchant for cyberporn, infuses her with a fragile vitality; Nelly, at 29, meets him at a techno party in a bar aptly called Nova.Is Nelly's madness a product of herself or of the absolutes in a world she is forced to inhabit? In this newly translated novel, readers ponder to whom Nelly's suicide note is really addressed.
Oct. 14, 2014 -- A press release on October 8 by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights explains that despite the ceasefire signed in Minsk, Belarus on September 5, at least 331 people have been killed in ongoing shelling and clashes between September 6 and October 6 in eastern Ukraine. That’s about ten people dying per day.
Some of the reported deaths during that one-month time may have been killed prior to the ceasefire, with the data only recorded later.
Protests by healthcare workers greeted the passage of Bill 1 in Nova Scotia on October 3. The Bill makes sweeping changes to the regulations governing health care sector unions in the province.
Now, unions representing health care workers in the province have agreed to approve James Dorsey as the mediator to help resolve the difficulties resulting from the implementation of Bill 1.
The Liberal's Bill 1 proposes the following, in the name of cost-effectiveness:
In a country characterized by increasingly confrontational labour relations, an unlikely story of cooperation and negotiation emerges. Are there lessons for the rest of the country?
It took two years of wrangling – and over a decade to get to the wrangling stage – but on September 2, 2014, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced that it had reached an agreement on pension reform with five of its employees’ labour unions.
In an era of increasingly hostile labour relations, the NL government and its unions managed to negotiate an agreement. Unions now have equal say in the new corporation that is to be established to administer the revised plan.
Factors for success
On Monday, October 6, the National Energy Board (NEB) released a letter temporarily denying Enbridge’s "Leave to Open" submission on Line 9 based on the inadequacy of the valve safety standards on the pipeline.
The NEB is requiring that Enbridge install valves on both sides of all Major Water Crossings and other significant areas in order to “limit damage from accidental discharge” and provide “automatic blockage of the pipeline”. Last month, the NEB rejected Enbridge's petition to cancel over 100 "Integrity Digs" on Line 9, requiring Enbridge to complete at least one additional dig.
Ontario's unemployment rate dropped in September 2014 to its lowest level since October 2008 -' good news or bad?
On the surface, this month’s Statistics Canada numbers could seem like a good news kind of story.
Temporary employment fell.
Part-time employment grew at the same rate as full-time employment.
And, perhaps because of the growth in full-time jobs, even self-employment growth seems to have slowed.
At the same time, it is clear that Ontario’s labour force hasn’t fully recovered from the global economic recession.
Here are a few troubling signs I'm keeping my eye on:
As Canada's Twitter elite (economists, pundits, partisans) broke out into a virtual policy brawl over yesterday's NDP national affordable child care pledge, I couldn't help but think the party might have hit a political sweet spot.
Of course there were the typical Twitter arguments between Liberals and New Democrats that break out every time one of them makes a political pledge.
But another line of argumentation unfolded on my Twitter news feed -- one designed to exploit class tensions. The argument advanced by a few well-off Twitterati asserts that universally accessible, affordable programs, like child care, aren't progressive because rich people can afford to pay for these services themselves.
I had thought that the debate on sending a military mission into Iraq would allow for me to make a 10-minute speech. Due to the motion for closure, I never had that chance. I had some rough notes of what I had wanted to say and decided to share them. Despite my deep doubts about the mission, the concern that the mission violates international law, and does exactly what the terrorists hoped we would do, I fervently hope to be wrong.
The debate today is one of the most important, if not the most important, of the 41st Parliament.
Let me start with some first principles. Fundamental underpinnings of the current situation on which all Parliamentarians, and indeed all Canadians, are agreed:
On Monday, October 6, the National Energy Board (NEB) released a letter temporarily denying Enbridge’s "Leave to Open" submission on Line 9 based on the inadequacy of the valve safety standards on the pipeline. The NEB is requiring that Enbridge install valves on both sides of all Major Water Crossings and other significant areas in order to “limit damage from accidental discharge” and provide “automatic blockage of the pipeline”.
Last month, the NEB rejected Enbridge's petition to cancel over 100 "Integrity Digs" on Line 9, requiring Enbridge to complete at least one additional dig. In its application, Enbridge had cited concerns of running behind schedule on their integrity dig program. Over the past two years activists have blockaded a number of integrity digs, causing significant delays to Line 9 reversal plans. Enbridge has also come under intense public pressure along the route of Line 9, and the NEB's oversight of the project is currently subject to two separate lawsuits. One is an appeal of the NEB's approval of Line 9 put forward by the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation based on the lack of consultation with the community on the project. (To support this case, please sign the petition: http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/demand-the-neb-respect-indigenous-rights-sign-to-support-chippewas-of-the-thames-first-nation)
We, the coalition of grassroots activists, community groups, and environmental organizations who have been resisting Line 9, believe that the NEB’s recent scrutiny of the project is a direct result of our mass-opposition. The public has tirelessly pressured all levels of government, Enbridge, and the NEB itself. Without the educational events, canvassing, fundraisers, emails, petitions, concerts, rallies, municipal resolutions, lawsuits, blockades, brave acts, and resulting media coverage, this project could have quietly slipped by with little attention to safety.
As a result of these NEB decisions, Line 9 will likely not be operational for at least another three months, in contrast to the mid-October 2014 launch date that Enbridge had initially planned.
While the delay and the NEB’s conditions are small victories for the No Line 9 movement, we maintain that additional valves or digs will not make this pipeline safe to transport toxic materials. Indeed, many of the 13,000 problems Enbridge has identified in this pipeline are not being addressed.
Moreover, no level of safety precautions will mitigate the damage that will result from Line 9 transporting Tar Sands dilbit or fracked Bakken crude. This would enable the expansion of the Tar Sands mega-project in Northern Alberta which poisons downstream communities and contributes to catastrophic climate change and would help mass-fracking continue in North Dakota.
While we will claim this small victory for the people versus Big Oil and colluding governments, we pledge to continue fighting this dirty project until it is cancelled outright.
No Line 9. Shut Down the Tar Sands. People Before Profit.
Rising Tide Toronto
Guelph Anti-Pipeline Action (GAP Action)
Toronto West End Against Line 9
Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP)
Scarborough Bitumen Free Future
Council of Canadians Toronto Chapter
Waterloo Region Coalition Against Line 9
Council of Canadians - Guelph Chapter
Council of Canadians - York University Chapter
The Hamilton 350 Committee
Climate Justice Montreal
London Chapter of the Council of Canadians
Toronto Raging Grannies
The Ottawa Chapter of the Council of Canadians
Council of Canadians Peel Chapter
Creation Matters Subcommittee, Anglican Diocese of Toronto
Montreal Chapter of the Council of Canadians
Council of Canadians, Peterborough and Kawarthas Chapter
So, Harper -- with his majority government -- has finally dragged Canada into the Iraq war we missed out on in 2003. Now all we have to do is stay vigilant against ISIS attacks that could... maybe... be coming towards Canada.
But don't worry! The head of CSIS and the RCMP have all the home grown ISIS sympathizers under surveillance. Nice to let them know, eh!
This story was originally published at everycandidate.org
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is running for re-election in Ward 40, but lives in a different part of Scarborough, almost 11 kilometres away, the distance between the C.N.E. and Highway 401. Howevernone of the candidates running against Kelly live in the ward either.
Out of 358 people competing to become city councillors, 135 of them (38%) registered to run for office using addresses that do not fall within the ward they hope to represent, according to data compiled from their nomination papers.
Of the 37 incumbents running for re-election 12 do not live in the ward that they currently represent.
You can now check which candidates live in your ward by simply visiting their profile page here on Every Candidate. Just look for the map marker .
“People are very surprised”, McMahon explained, “they think it is one of the requirements but it is not.”
The rules set out by the province in the City of Toronto Act, do not require a candidate to live within the ward to become a city councillor. They stipulate only that the candidate be eligible to vote in the city, that is someone who either lives in, owns property, or rents property in the Toronto.
“Residents tell me they think their city councillor should live in their ward. They get very upset when candidates are not forthcoming about living outside the ward, even when directly asked” said Mary Fragedakis, the councillor running for reelection in Ward 29.
“I find even candidates who live a kilometre or so outside seem to not know many things about the ward,” Fragedakis expressed.
However this perspective is contrasted by the wide range of other views held by candidates for city council.
She is cynical about the intentions of those raising the question of where a candidate lives. “It is usually raised as a campaign tactic that rarely gets traction.”
Some city councillors see drawbacks to living inside the ward they represent.
“I intentionally divested from the ward” says Kristyn Wong-Tam, the councillor for downtown's Ward 27. Wong-Tam once lived in the area as well as owning properties and a business in the ward. Wong-Tam now lives roughly half a kilometre away from the ward.
“If I lived within the ward boundaries, I would often find myself in a situation of living too close to the developments and would be required to declare an interest to avoid conflict,” explained Wong-Tam, who worries she would be “abdicating her responsibility” if she had to assign another councillor to oversee condo developments in her area.
Wong-Tam lives only a few blocks from the ward she represents, but other candidates live a decent commute away. Deputy Mayor Kelly did not respond to a request to comment on this story, butRandy Ai, who is running for council further from home explained his motivations.
“I live downtown in a condo, but don't feel connected to that area”, said Ai. He grew up in North York's Ward 24, where he is a candidate. He doesn't foresee a problem closing the more than 12 kilometre distance.
“I would be a five-minute walk from city hall, and I would visit the ward as often as possible. It is only a 25-minute drive away, if the DVP is empty,” Ai added.
The candidate who is running the farthest from home is Amarjeet Chhabra, who lives downtown but is vying for a seat in Scarborough's Ward 44, over 19 kilometres away, further than the distance between the lake shore and the northern city limits.
Not all cities in Ontario operate in the same manner as Toronto. The City of Markham, for example, elects not only a mayor and a councillor to represent each of the city's eight wards, but also elects four regional councillors to serve the city as a whole.
Toronto's system is based on having representatives for 44 different parts of the city, which can result in some Torontonians feeling their interests are not always reflected by their elected city councillor.
“Our city is notorious for having a council that is poorly representative of the people who live in it,” says candidate Jane Farrow (Ward 30).
It is not clear that a councillor living within the ward makes them a better representative, but Farrow contends that “residency and ward boundaries seem to be an issue that doesn't receive enough scrutiny.”
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NDP Leader Tom Mulcair wants to make affordable child care available to all Canadians.
He has proposed a national child care plan loosely modelled on the popular Quebec system which provides child care at $7 a day.
The NDP's plan establishes a maximum rate of $15 per day, which amounts to about $300 per month.
When he unveiled the plan at an Ottawa day care centre on Tuesday, Mulcair talked about the huge cost of day care for many Canadian families.