This is my SOS to the world

A tiny community called out to world.  And the world answered.  Foreign aid arrived in Canada courtesy environmental organizations which, if you’ll remember, dear Reader, are “radical groups” with “radical agendas” trying to “derail” the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. Our radical agenda, backed by independent science, demands acknowledgement that the continued expansion of the tarsands is killing the environment, people, creatures.  Our audacity to challenge the continued expansion to the tarsands, including the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.  It’s likely the HarperCon governments’ condemnation of the earth-based movement was a way of side-railing or discrediting the documentary, Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands.  The documentary is billed as

a two-hour visual tour de force, taking viewers inside the David and Goliath struggle playing out within one of the most compelling environmental issues of our time.  

In an oil-scarce world, we know there are sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of energy.  What no one expected was that a tiny Native community downriver from Canada’s oil sands would reach out to the world, and be heard.

Tipping Point follows the people of Fort Chipewyan as they take their case to the world.  They live downstream from the tarsands.  And they are dying.  The world heard their plea.  Science spoke.  The world heard the science.  And acted. The HarperCon government silenced its own scientists, defended climate change denial science, gutted environmental programs and greenbaited those who, like the regina mom, stand up to this abuse of power. And now the government proposes to silence citizens.

On Valentine’s Day, 2012, the HarperCon Government introduced An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts aka the Spy Bill in the House of Commons. Their framing of Bill C-30 draws on G. W. Bush-era “with us or against us” politics, saying that Canadians have a choice to either “stand with us or with the child pornographers.

 

NDP Opposition Critic, Charlie Angus, does not like it, says it is “an unprecedented bill that undermines the privacy rights of Canadians” and that it will turn a cell phone into an “electronic prisoners’ bracelet.” Watch this extended coverage of the NDP’s response to Bill C-30.

The citizen group Open Media doesn’t like it, either.

The government has just tabled an online spying plan that will allow authorities to access the private information of any Canadian at any time, without a warrant.If they are successful your personal information could be caught up in a digital dragnet and entered into a giant unsecure registry of private data.

By forcing digital service providers to install costly online surveillance infrastructure, this scheme will create red tape for online innovators and businesses. It takes Canada in the wrong direction—a dangerous move when families are already falling behind during unstable economic times.

This warrantless online spying plan will invade your privacy and cost you money. If we care about privacy, the open Internet, our economy and our basic democratic rights, it’s time to tell Ottawa to stop this irresponsible plan NOW.

Dear Reader, the regina mom fears that Canada is heading down the road to becoming a closed society.  Please watch Tipping Point and stand with us to stop the Canadian government.  Email Charlie Angus and NDP Leader Nycole Turmel.  Email the Prime Minister, and the minister responsible for this legislation, Vic Toews, too, if you like.  Be creative.  Do whatever you can think of to do.  But please do something.  Please help Canadians save their country.

Please consider this my message in a bottle.

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Protests, Facts & Bedfellows: Northern Gateway Pipeline Actions, Science & Money

They expected 2,000 to attend and, according to police reports, 2,000 people demonstrated their opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and shut down the main street of the small northern city of Prince Rupert, BC.  When 15% of the 13,000 who live in any city are marching on the street, it’s significant.  Also significant is that CBC reported only 600.  The lesson?  Never trust the media to count your crowd.

CBC also reported that First Nations’ leaders are worried about their relationship with Ottawa as a result of their opposition to the pipeline.

Dallas Smith, the president of the Nanwakolas Council, said that even though he is not from the territory that will be directly affected by the pipeline, he’s been working in support of the concerns of his fellow First Nations.

“I think the opposition is based on the risk,” Smith said. “But there’s more at hand, there’s a relationship that needs to be built with the federal government right now and this is going to be really tricky to manoeuvre around, making sure that the whole relationship doesn’t get caught up in this issue.”

“We’re really concerned… about the ripple effect of this project and what it’s going to do to our already non-existent relationship with the federal government,” Smith said, later clarifying that the relationship is not really “non-existent” but is definitely “not as genuine” as the First Nations relationship with the B.C. government. [Video link here.]

How could anyone possibly have a “genuine” relationship with the HarperCon government, especially when said government hides Environment Canada documents about the impact of the tarsands on local communities, economies and environments until it suits them?

The latest document singles out the oilsands sector as the main obstacle in Canada’s efforts to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases that warm the atmosphere and cause climate change.

“The oilsands are Canada’s fastest growing source of GHGs,” said the document.

It estimated that the industry’s annual greenhouse gas emissions would rise by nearly 900 per cent from 1990 to 2020. By the end of that period, the oilsands — with an estimated annual footprint of 90 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent gases in 2020 — would exceed the carbon footprint of all cars and SUVs on Canadian roads from 2008, according to the Environment Canada document.

There is no doubt in the regina mom‘s mind that this is why 60 scientists at Environment Canada were fired by the HarperCon government last month.  Harperites don’t need pesky facts getting in the way of their agenda!

Sixty scientists with Environment Canada received notice that their jobs are “surplus” as of Jan. 11, confirming Minister Peter Kent’s announcement last August that 776 department positions would meet the chopping block due to the Conservative government’s belt-tightening.
Though the department is under “strict orders” not to reveal what work the surplus scientists are doing, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) – the union representing them – said the 60 employees include “senior engineers, environmental compliance officers, biologists, climatologists and others” responsible for reporting on pollution, monitoring water quality and climate research.

We can be certain that those currently running the government of Canada would rather not believe the facts when it comes to climate change.  They’d much rather believe the pseudo-science of paid deniers over the real science of professional scientists.   And they’ll cherry-pick data on an as-needed basis, thank you very much. Things like this graph, clearly showing the upward curve of global temperature changes over the past 130 years, just don’t work with their plan to expand the tarsands.

graph of 130 years of global climate change

Pressure from those radical environmental groups with their radical agendas — you know the type — those using fact-based research now seem to have forced the hand of evangeliCons and their buddies in the big-ass oil industry.  The HarperCons have announced, for the second time in as many years, that they are going to monitor the effects of the tarsands.  At least, it appears that they will.  As trm mentioned last week, Halifax MP Megan Leslie dismissed it as a PR stunt.

“The announcement was a public relations stunt,” says Leslie. “The Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel said any monitoring that’s done has to be arm’s-length; it has to be separate from government and we heard the environment minister say today it’s still going to be government run.”

But that Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel consisted of independent experts in the field — you know, real scientists.  So, a government-run monitoring system would be better for the HarperCons.  It would easily allow for the aforementioned cherry-picking. And it’s what the industry likes, too!  trm supposes it’s in their best interests to like it, given the $1 billion in tax cuts, subsidies and incentives it receives from government. [Note 1:  This links to a large PDF; See p. 18 for the detailed list.  Note 2: The data is based on 2002 numbers; it’s unlikely subsidies et al have decreased during the tenures of oil-friendly governments of the intervening decade.]

And so, as the HarperCon Prime Minister heads to China to visit with his old buddy David Emerson who’s there working our more ways to sell-out our country to the China Investment Corporation and Sinopec and who knows who else, the PM would certainly like to believe he’s quelled the voices of the so-called radicals.  trm has kept quiet for a couple of days, yes, but she’s no where near finished with making noise about Canada’s dirty oil!

Racist Screed by Con MP Peter Goldring

This racist screed was sent to Edmonton East constituents by their Conservative MP, Peter Goldring, in his householder in December 2009.  Yes, folks, your tax dollars paid for racist literature!

There are those today who want to change the historical record regarding 19th century Metis leader Louis Riel. Peter Goldring, Member of Parliament for Edmonton East says that such historical revisionism is wrong and sets the record straight on Riel and his crimes.

Concerned?

Wait, there’s more!

Revisionist “time travel” ignores the reality of human suffering. History is there to be learned, not to be revised or reinter-preted today by persons who do not like the outcomes of over a century ago. “Time travelling” back to the Riel era and erasing this judgement from our history books as if it were wrong, would in itself be wrong. How can we possibly know what was in the minds of people 100 years ago, to re-judge them today, years af-ter the fact. How can we obtain a true ap-preciation for those issues, without the sweat of fear and the odour of death that those events caused across the West in that era?

His prejudice certainly shows through in that paragraph, eh?  How about considering the suffering of the Metis, Peter?  Or is that to Peter Goldring, the Metis Nation is not part of humanity?

He also says that a pardon for Riel would mean Canada was insulting the soldiers who fought against Riel on behalf of Canada.

So many people today appear to know little of and care less for the sacrifice of those very first Canadian war veterans who fought against Riel and saved our country from disin-tegration, so long ago.

“Saved our country?”  Puh-leeze!  More like helped turn it into the racist country it is!

Apparently, admitting mistakes of the past is not something Peter’s into:

To “unhang” Riel today is illogical for those who remember the true history of Riel’s revo-lutionary role and who also respect the au-thority of historical jury decisions. To posthu-mously “pardon” Riel would amount to a ret-roactive miscarriage of justice.

But hey, folks, Peter wants to know what you think.  So how about you download and print this file, cut off that bottom portion and send it, free of charge, to the MP.  Tell him how you really feel!

Hey, even his boss man, PMS, has left him to fend for himself!  And that’s very interesting because the current PM has had strict control over messaging in recent years.

So, the immediate questions that arise for me are:

  1. Was the Prime Minister’s Office part of sending out this racist screed?
  2. Why hasn’t the Member of Parliament been charged with the publication and distribution of hate propaganda?

I asked the last question of Iggy, Jack and Gilles and await their replies.  I encourage you to do likewise.  And please let me know what questions I’ve missed asking.

What Harper’s Done to Canadian Social Programs

I wrote this for rabble.ca some time ago but never did blog it.  I’ve been trying to find it for some time because it’s in need of an update. Here it is.  Please feel free to use the comment box below to add the other places Harper’s axe has landed since this was written.

What Harper’s Done to Canadian Social Programs

by Bernadette Wagner

In September 2006 our boy, Steve Harper, pulled out his axe. Here’s a little review of where the axe fell.*

Aboriginal Programs

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada “operational efficiencies” = $3.5 million cut

“Unused funding” (re: Nunavut) = $50 million not re-allocated or otherwise made available

Elimination of funding for First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy = $10.8 million cut

Status of Women Canada

“Administrative savings” = $5 million cut (40% of budget), job layoffs, offices closed, organizations unfunded, their offices also closed.

Skills and Literacy Programs

Literacy division of HRSD under one banner = $55.4 million cut

Youth employment subsidies for businesses and organizations = $17.6 million cut

Elimination of the Canada Labour Business Centre

Statistics Canada

“Organizational efficiencies” = $15 million cut & reduced ability to collect vital data

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

Social economy research program (community outreach) = $2 million cut

Health Canada

Policy Research Program eliminated = $7.5 million

“Health portfolio efficiencies” = $28.1 million was cut through

Foreign Affairs

Youth International Internship Program eliminated = $10.2 million cut

Delays and cutbacks on international postings and outreach programs at Canadian embassies = unknown but substantial cuts

Law Commission of Canada

Eliminated = $3.2 million cut, including two large scale projects on indigenous law and vulnerable workers

Court Challenges Program

Eliminated = $5.6 million cut and no legal assistance for equity-seeking groups who do not have the resources to take forward a legal challenge.

Treasury Board of Canada

Training programs for civil servants = $82 million cut

“Unallocated funds across all departments” = $18 million cut

Elimination of advisory panels in Revenue Canada and Agriculture Canada = unknown amount cut

* This information was culled from a Canadian Association of University Teachers Commentary

Oh Canada, We Stand On Guard For Thee, Eh!

I don’t consider myself to be a patriotic person. In fact, patriotism is something I’ve never encouraged in anyone. I think it’s dangerous, quite frankly.

Democracy and participation in the democratic process, well, that’s something else entirely! What’s happening in Canada right now, with the surge of clicking on Facebook and the creation of this website, is something that should make our Prime Minister a little nervous.

Yes, Canadians are ticked that the Harper Conservatives have given themselves an extended Christmas break by proroguing Parliament. But I’m not convinced that’s the only reason Canadians are making the click. The majority of Canadians are not happy with the Harper government. And, in my experience, Canadians don’t like being dismissed as silly or not caring because really, compared to many, we are a heartful bunch. We have a social safety net and yes, it could be stronger. We have socialized medicine and yes, it could be better. We have a decent education system and yes, it needs work, too. We could do more and better in a lot of areas, certainly, but not with Herr Harper at the helm and Canadians know that.

And now it appears that Canadians are recognizing that our democratic institutions also need improvements. These are the conversations we can have while our MP’s are posing for photo ops in their constituencies and at the Olympics. And these are the conversations we can bring to the next election, whenever that may be.

I hesitate to say it, lest I sound patriotic, but, well, WAYTAGO, CANADA, WAYTAGO!

Coalition: Keep Meeting

Keep meeting

This is posted from a comment by Eric Finley to a post at pogge.ca.  This action would demonstrate that opposition to Stephen Harper and to the events of the last week isn’t just some fleeting, momentary frustration. And it would demonstrate that objection to today’s decision is based on both serious concern for our democracy and for the urgency of the occasion. Please give it your consideration and feel free to leave your comments below.

Keep meeting.

To the coalition: Keep meeting.

Parliament has been prorogued. So you’re not meeting in an official capacity. But nonetheless meet as if you were not prorogued.

Find a site. Pay for it yourselves, and be explicit about that. You’re citizens meeting to speak. But in so doing, keep up the business of Parliament. Debate. Draft bills. Hold (unofficial) committee meetings. Vote… on memoranda of understanding.

Show the country, its citizens, and its investors that while you do not argue with the legality of the delay, you see no need to go on vacation in this crucial economic time. Assume (without even explicitly saying it) that in January when Parliament reconvenes, Harper will fall, the coalition will form government, and the memoranda of understanding and drafted bills will be dealt with, bang-bang-bang, because you have already hashed this out.

Invite the Conservatives to join you. If you get some momentum, you might get no few disgruntled members willing to bet that Harper’s fury will not control their lives.

Let the Conservatives take an extended vactation. Shrink the proposed vacation period instead, to mark the severity of the economic need.

Make it plain that you do not dispute Her Excellency’s right to consent to her nominal first minister’s request to prorogue, and that you respect her for making a difficult decision in uncharted waters. Open each session with a consistent, well-crafted adaptation of protocol which is sufficiently distinct that it does not trespass upon Parliament’s formal privileges… but that nonetheless shows clearly that you do this out of the uttermost respect for the Queen, the Governor General, and the Canadian people.

Repeat frequently that you’re just trying to get work done now, so that things can happen fast when the doors unlock in January. It can’t be trespass upon the privileges of government if its level of formality is that of a caucus meeting.

Be completely transparent. Defeat the smoke-filled rooms meme. Heck, hold it in a bar, if you can find one big enough.

The media will come to you. I can think of no more efficient way to stretch your advertising dollars than a bold, newsworthy stroke like this.

If you do this, I will donate to the limit of my ability. I will write letters to the editor praising your actions. I will take my four children and go door to door. In Edmonton. In December.

Pass it on.

KEEP MEETING.