BASICS Free Community Newsletter FROM THE PEOPLE, TO THE PEOPLE
LIBRARY WORKERS’ UNION AND WOMEN’S EXPLOITATION >>PG. 2 ATTAWAPISKAT YOUTH MOVEMENT >>PG. 3 AFGHANISTAN: PEACE? >>PG. 4 FILIPINO WOMEN FIGHT BACK >>PG. 5 OMNIBUS CRIME BILL >>PG. 7
BASICS #28, MAR / APR 2012
‘No More Silence’
Constable Michael Adams (left), and Sergeant Stuart Blower killed an unarmed 18 year-old in May 2010. Today they remain fully paid and armed members of the Toronto Police Services. (Photo: Alex Consiglio)
A GUN, A BADGE AND
A LICENSE TO KILL Kabir Joshi-Vijayan On the evening of May 5th 2010, 18-year old Junior Alejandro Manon was driving with a friend near Keele & Steeles when he was pulled over for expired plates. On probation and not allowed behind the wheel of a car, Junior fled impending arrest. Thirteen minutes later his bruised, broken and bloodied body lay slumped without vital signs at the feet of seven officers. A Coroner’s Inquest into the case was launched on January 16th, mandatory with any death-in-police-custody case— but admittedly an impotent and toothless charade that, as
declared by cop and coroner’s counsels alike, is “fact finding, not fault finding.” In other words, no matter how clear it becomes that an unarmed teen was violently murdered, his executioners will face neither charges nor condemnation. That ship sailed when the Special Investigations Unit (the provincial body that decides whether to lay charges when cops beat, shoot, run over or otherwise kill/seriously injure a suspect or bystander) completed its friendly inspection, and found no wrongdoing had occurred. That’s the same verdict they’ve given in 98% of all cases. Junior, they concluded, died
from “positional asphyxia”his chest was under too much pressure during his lawful arrest and he suffocated. Those ‘findings’ are the basis for the ongoing proceedings, held in the Coroner’s Office at 15 Grosvenor Street, where the jury is tasked with simply filling in the ‘who, when, where, how and by what means the death occurred’. Permitted to make a few recommendations to prevent a future incident—tweak a Use-of-Force manual, add a training session. Reminded again and again to ignore that every testimony, exhibit and cross examination screams
state murder and cover-up: Constable Michael Adams and Sergeant Stuart Blower constructed a version of events seen only by each other. One where a snarling Junior “grinding his teeth and a crazy look in his eyes” shoves Adams across Steeles Avenue, before bolting toward a conveniently planted escape car, and when caught up to with swings “powerful blows” at the terrified officers, wrestling them to the ground while trying to bite them. Officers who called for back-up as they were nearly overwhelmed by Junior’s strength, upon whose arrival they are shocked to find >> continued, pg. 2
PUBLIC CUTS, PRIVATE PROFITS
(Photo: Jorge Antonio Vallejos)
Ashley M. “They trespass our bodies, like they trespass our land... we fail them...This war is at home... Under treaties of silence.” —Ryan Red Corn According to research conducted by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NAWC), over 600 indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing in the last 30 years and the government of Canada has been actively complicit in this violence. On February 14, 2012, I joined the many people gathered in front of police headquarters to remember lives lost. No More Silence, The Native Youth Sexual Health Network, The Native Women’s Resource Centre and other Indigenous and feminist organizations were >> continued, pg. 7
Welcome to Canada
Drummond and austerity in Ontario PLEASE SIT BY THE EXIT Corrie Sakaluk Don Drummond is Premier Dalton McGuinty’s invited Chair of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services. A fellow at Queen’s University, he worked almost 23 years at the federal Department of Finance,
and then worked for 10 years as the Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at TD Bank. As Chair, Drummond states his appreciation for the “extraordinarily wide mandate” given to the Commission, which he says “makes it much more than a simple exercise in cost-cutting”. He says that the mandate has “allowed us to delve into almost every corner of the government’s activities” but it has restricted them in that they were “not able to conduct comprehensive consultations” in such a limited time-frame. The rest of his opening letter emphasizes
More on Drummond and austerity in Ontario >>PAGE 3
the need for a “sharp degree of fiscal restraint... over the next few years to eliminate the deficit” and stresses that “spending simply cannot return to recent trends”. He uses the language of the private sector to glorify profit-driven ethics and promote low taxes, stating, “It is often argued that governments... lack the discipline imposed by a bottom-line profit imperative and shareholders... But the Ontario government has over 13 million shareholders who do not want their government to run deficits and believe they already pay enough taxes.” The desire of the Commission to sell off public services couldn’t be clearer in Drummond’s message, though he sometimes includes contradictory statements about providing high-quality public services and wanting Ontario to be
>> continued, pg. 3
A new immigration Bill, C-31, proposed in Parliament on Thursday, February 16, will take out significant sections of the refugee system and give immigration enforcement and police increased powers to arrest non-citizens. Bill C-31 rolls in provisions from Bill C-49 and Bill C-4, the so-called human smuggling bill which allows immigration officers to designate people arriving in Canada and applying for refugee status as ‘irregular arrivals’. This can be any 2 or more claimants from any country. Once designated as ‘irregular arrivals’, asylum seekers must be put in prison, without a warrant, and without a review process. They have no access to an appeal process, an assessment of risk on deportation, ability to apply for status on humani-
tarian grounds. Even, if these asylum seekers get refugee status, they cannot apply for permanent residence or sponsorship for five years during which time their refugee status could be arbitrarily revoked. Separately, the Immigration Minister can deem any country, ‘safe’. These will likely be countries that Canada has trade relations with, countries like Hungary, Colombia and Mexico. Once deemed safe, asylum seekers from these countries will essentially be denied most processes, and unable to gain adequate legal representation or the right of appeal. Bill C-31 also gives Immigration Canada the power to arrest any non-citizen without due process and hold them until they decide to revoke their citizenship and deport them, and all non-citizens, including tourists, >> continued, pg. 4
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BASICS #28 MAR / APR 2012
Two more police killings in less than three weeks Beyond the bargaining table Kabir Joshi-Vijayan
The Toronto Police Service has really started the year off with a bang. Several to be exact. On January 6th in the Crossroads Power Plaza at Weston Rd. and Hwy 401 police responded to a call about a man with a knife just after noon. A dozen police cars surrounded the man—officers armed with both handguns and shotguns shouting demands and pointing their weapons at him. Civilian responses vary, some saying that he would occasionally produce a knife from his jacket and wave it around, clearly mentally off, others who don’t remember seeing any weapon, “his hands were at his sides.” However the man, who witnesses also all agree looked homeless, was confirmed to have not harmed or attacked anyone. And yet, after apparently refusing to drop his weapon, he was shot at least three times. The victim managed to recover from life threatening injuries in hospital, has not had his identity published as of yet, and the SIU is investigating. However owners and customers in the plaza at the time of the violence note they were told by police to leave immediately afterwards, instead of waiting to be questioned as witnesses, or asked to fill out reports by the SIU. Then on February 3rd at 10:15 am, as the inquest into the police beating-death of Junior Manon was taking place at the coroner’s court at Yonge and Grovsner, Toronto Police officers summarily executed another young black man in chilling circumstances.
Clad only in a hospital gown and socks Michael Eligon, 29 year-old father of one, was shot several times on Milverton Blvd. near Coxwell and Danforth only a few minutes after he had fled Toronto East General (where he was being held over four days for observation, for an undisclosed mental condition).
Michael Eligon with his son. His foster-sister was on her way to pick him up, having spoken to Michael on the phone just two hours prior, when she ran into a web of police tape and the tragic news of Eligon’s death. He left the hospital around 10AM holding a pair of scissors, and soon stumbled into a Convenience Store with a blank expression. The clerk who tried to shoo him away was nicked by the scissors and proceeded to call police. A renovator called cops again when Eligon made his way into a backyard, but is now ashamed and disgusted of his role in what he saw happen next. “More than anything he was afraid… he looked scared…he seemed like he wanted to hide.”
Soon, according to the renovator, Eligon was surrounded by dozens of cops on foot and in vehicles, cutting off the intersection and drawing their weapons. Rather than calm the victim down the witness recalls officers shouting and rushing Michael, causing him to panic further. And when he didn’t drop his scissors, and either made a move to flee or was pushed from behind, an officer shot him three times in the chest and shoulder. Several other officers proceeded to stomp, kick and pin his dying body to the ground. “You guys just took a life, and now I feel crap because I was the one who called you over to help me so we can kind of sedate him somehow. That wasn’t the kind of sedate that I expected… They were kicking him, stomping him. There was no need for that.” And then February 20th, less than three weeks later near Dupont and Lansdowne, 48year old Frank Anthony Berry met his end at the end of a cop’s barrel. He was supposedly masked, trying to break into a car and holding a knife—but also attempting to flee officers into neighbouring backyards when he was shot (initial reports confirm multiple gunshots, TPS won’t say how many). As municipal workers face a butchering of their jobs and benefits… as another round of cuts is forced down our throats by the province… we get another view of what austerity will mean for the poorest people in this city: The state’s security force—bolstered by higher salaries, increased funding, and a draconian Crime Bill—that’s decided to go on a killing spree.
« License to kill, from PG. 1 him without vital signs. Every independent witness who has testified so far; from a TTC bus driver, to a York University security guard/retired OPP officer, to a couple passing in their car did not see the shove or the “powerful blows” thrown by Manon and instead, a “scared and winded” youth tackled and pushed face-down by the weight of the two cops. The couple in their car closest to the scene saw Blower place Junior in a chokehold while Adams struck him, not just with his fists, but delivered “quick, successive and numerous” blows with the end of his radio. They heard Junior plead,“Stop, I’m not resisting!” as the officers punched him several times in his ribs. And the woman was terrified of intervening because of how the cops would react to her black husband. Junior’s childhood friend Kevin Fauder witnessed furthest into the incident, seeing not just Blower and Adams attack but eventually four cops “hitting him. It looked like one powered a knee into his back.” Fauder, 17 at the time, also believes he
and Manon were targeted by the cops in question, who recognized them from previous encounters, and did not simply pull them over coincidentally. Even other police testimony disproves assertions stubbornly maintained by the two implicated cops. Three cops and a supervising officer who were called in after the foot pursuit and struggle stated to the SIU, and restated in court, that Junior was restrained face-down when they arrived, with blood in his mouth. Both Blower and Adams claim they left Manon “on his side.” It’s clear that many questions— including some asked by family lawyer Julian Falconer—will go unanswered at this inquest: Why are the fractures wounds and bruises to Junior’s face, head, and ribs unexplained in the SIUs report and autopsy? Why are not just the two, but the seven cops involved, free men/women (never mind still on the force), when the eyewitness testimony are grounds for murder charges? Why was Constable Adams allowed to meet with four police officials and his lawyer before compiling notes on the incident
(demonstrating the SIUs corrupted “investigation” procedures)? Instead the Coroner’s court is more interested in further vindicating the duo already immune-from-prosecution While there is no possibility of professional or legal repercussions, police lawyers (that the pair share) have become concerned that even if the beating is successfully ignored, Blower and Adams could be still seen as responsible for the “positional asphyxia” since they clearly sat on Junior while he was face-down. So they have decided to summon US pathologist Dr. Elliot Spitz, who un-coincidently enough has a long history of helping cover up murders (he was the defense witness at Casey Anthony’s trial, testified at OJ Simpson’s civil suit and was part of the Warren Commission on JFK’s assassination). His explanation for the death of a healthy 18 year old, seen by his family for the last time in a bloodied, broken and breathless state being loaded into an ambulance: a heart attack. The trial continues…and so must the struggle that will clearly not be won in a courtroom.
Women’s exploitation and the TPL Workers’ Union Thomas Saczkowski & Shafiqullah Aziz The recent ratification of a fouryear collective agreement with CUPE 416, which represents the city’s outside workers, has resulted in less job security and benefits, and ultimately a reduction in public services. Mayor Rob Ford declared that the 416 agreement is “an absolutely fantastic day for the taxpayers” but really it is only a fantastic day for the upper and middle classes that benefit from cuts to public services, and not the working classes that are using or employed by these services. Collective agreements that do not favour workers are an attack on all people of Toronto, because a lack of support for the employees who deliver services results in a decline in services in general. Additionally, by cutting library services, a sector that predominantly consists of female employees, these cuts unequally impact women who are employed by the city, as it reduces the already low amount of unionized female city employees, and increases the precariousness of the remaining women’s employment standards. The attempts by the bourgeois City of Toronto government to decrease salaries and benefits and increase the precarity of employment is evident in the continuing negotiations between the Toronto Public Library Workers’ Union CUPE Local 4948 and the Toronto Public Library Board. This past week CUPE 4948 president, Maureen O’Reilly announced that the union filed for a no-board report. A no-board report is a common step in the labour negotiation process, where one party sends
a request to the Ministry of Labour that negotiations have not produced an agreement. Once the Ministry of Labour responds on March 1st, there will be a 17-day countdown until the workers can either be locked out or go on strike. The move to file a no-board request came a day after 91% of the union members of local 4948 voted in favour of a strike. The overwhelming decision to have a strike represents the strong solidarity of the workers in 4948 to ratify an agreement that benefits future and present workers in the union and also defends public services. CUPE 4948 operates the most utilized public library system in the world. Yet, contrary to the high demand for services, the potential of a collective agreement in favour of the workers and the people of Toronto is unlikely. The Ford administration in the past year has been ardently focused on cutting services to the public library system. Although many cuts to libraries were avoided due to opposition from the people of Toronto, 107 positions were still lost which resulted in a 17% cut to staff. These cuts were realized even though there was a 29% increase in people using library services in 2011. The outcome of the agreement between the city and CUPE 416 has currently set a precedent for union negotiations in Toronto; Cim Nunn of CUPE stated that “the city is going to try to use the agreement for 416 as a guideline, which will not benefit unions with different requirements and demands.” The Library Workers’ Union has different demands as a union whose 2,300 members are 75% female and a majority >> continued, pg. 7
Toronto Public Library workers holding info pickets last summer to save the public library system from cuts and closures. (Photo: CUPE)
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PROVINCIAL Carleton students call for divestment from apartheid Israel Louisa Worrell Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at Carleton University was formed in response to Palestine’s civil society call for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) of Israel until it complies with international law by ending its occupation and colonization of Arab lands, dismantling the wall, freeing Palestinian and Arab political prisoners; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting the right of return of Palestinian refugees as stipulated in UN General Assembly resolution 194. A state is guilty of apartheid if it institutionalizes discrimination so as to create and maintain the domination of one racial group over another. This includes physical destruction, legislative measures that discriminate in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, and measures that divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate residential areas for racial groups. Disturbing challenges have been made by selective facets of Carleton’s community against SAIA’s call for the administration to divest from four companies—BAE Systems, Tesco Supermarkets, Northrop Grumman, Motorola—complicit
in the illegal military occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories and supporting imperialism everywhere. First, some suggest that this is a divisive issue that the student body should not take a stance on. But what should the student body take a stance on if not human rights? A second argument is frequently made that the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, is exactly that, an Israeli-Palestinian issue. This argument is absurd and divisive in and of itself. Apartheid is a crime against humanity. A third argument, has been the labelling of SAIA’s campaign to divest as anti-Semitic in nature. Advocating for the rights of the Palestinian people does not entail challenging the right of the state of Israel to exist. It does, however, challenge Israel’s right to further entrench its territorial sovereignty via the perpetual and continual oppression and subjugation of the indigenous peoples of Palestine. Criticizing the actions of the state of Israel should not be conflated with antiSemitism. Meanwhile, many Jewish people in Israel and across the world are standing up to Israel’s war crimes. As cities across the world organize their own IAW events, we will not waterdown our analysis of the state of Israel. In accordance with the international convention, we will call it what it is: an apartheid state.
Seniors not the healthcare problem—corporations are Justin Panos The real source of Ontario’s budget deficit is the difference between what the wealthy pay and what they ought to pay One of the most common myths in the health care debate is that the elders of society are costing the system too much. The aging population, one side claims, is bearing too heavily on the public health care system for it to further endure. It is important to know who the mythmakers are, their motives, and how they promote their dubious policy. The government of Ontario has an annual deficit of $16 billion dollars. Immense pressure has been placed on the government by banks and bond traders to pay off the deficit. To achieve this, many, like Don Drummond, are calling for deep cuts to health care in Ontario. Healthcare spending takes up 40 per cent of Ontario’s budget, $44.8 billion dollars in 2011-12, which is up 6.1% from last year. To disguise their grievous quests for profits, business leaders and their friends in political office disguise their austerity packages under vaguely plausible but ultimately phony problems. The tactless and most recent
argument advances is that we are facing a crisis of elderly people, the number of whom are consuming too much costs per year. The solution is to have private business pick up the slack. To claim that Ontario’s seniors are the source of the crisis is a cynical effort to divert attention from how little the rich in Ontario contribute to the health care system. This conclusion was made as long ago as 1978 by two Quebecois health economists and has been reconfirmed annually since the year 2000 until now by the Canadian Institute for Health Indicators, an Ottawabased research group. In a 2011 report entitled Health Care Cost Drivers: The Facts, released on their website, the CIHI says that aging is only 0.8% of annual increases making it the most inconsequential of all drivers (2.8% general inflation, 1% population growth, and 2.8% other). The essential point is this, although people access the health system more often as they get older, the real source of crisis is the way elderly care is becoming privatized— exorbitant prices for drugs and nursing homes user fees. The real crisis affecting the budget is summarized here:
BASICS #28, MAR / APR 2012
Whatever happened in Attawapiskat? Carolina Crewe
A shower of media attention fell on Attawapiskat in December 2011, following the declaration of a state of emergency due to abhorrent living conditions. Housing is overcrowded, unsafe, no running water, and no electricity. There are few if any washrooms for families, no health care, and no real school for 400 children. Many First Nations communities across Canada are suffering in similar ways. Government agents acting as “third party managers” are dispatched to provide “bandaid” solutions when the voices of the people become too loud. (See ““Band-aid” resistance in Attiwapiskat” by Johnny Hawke at http://ogitchidasociety. wordpress.com/ ) The third party manager freezes funds, refuses to pay teachers, in effect, “holding the children hostage to force the band to comply,” says Charlie Angus, Member of Parliament. In Attawapiskat, there now appears to be some progress in resolving the housing crisis. @CharlieAngusMP tweets on Feb. 10, 2012 “Mod homes arrive in #attawapiskat. Band handles site prep while 3rd party manager sits on funds. educationwater plant still held hostage.” DeBeers has a team working on site. When asked for an update, Angus says, “I have
Shannen Koostachin led a movement of children and youth to push the government to build a school in Attawapiskat, before dying in a car accident in 2010. Her dream is still outstanding, but close to fruition. spoken with the technical team on site and they are confident in getting the work done on the ground by the end of March.” In 2008, Shannen Koostachin led a children’s movement in a fight to achieve her dream for a real school in Attawapiskat and education and safe schools for all First Nations kids. Shannen passed away in 2010 at the age of 15, but the movement she started continues. Meanwhile, the children in Attawapiskat continue to attend portables on a toxic field. Angus hopes the fight for Shannen’s Dream will establish a national standard. Angus says, “There is a shortfall of $3000$4000 per student, per year and this is even greater in isolated and northern communities.” Angus is confident in getting the support of the
government for the Shannen’s Dream motion in the House of Commons on Feb 27, 2012. He says, “This will be an historic vote. Children, a youth movement, have forced the government to take action and begin the steps needed to end the systemic negligence of First Nations education.” Attawapiskat’s struggles are a call to action for revolutionary change between the federal government and First Nations communities. If there were an award for patience, civility and community perserveranceAttawapiskat would be a top contender. It is in the resilience, strength, and initiative of the people of this community that Attawapiskat will find a way forward.
« Drummond report, from PG. 1 the best. “The government... must make tough decisions on which services are best delivered by the public service and which can be better done by others, in the private sector,” Drummond writes. He fearmongers regarding the ballooning deficit, recommends swift and decisive action and paints advocates of his plan as responsibly doing a hard job that must be done. It is hard to believe that Drummond cares much about fairness or what will benefit all Ontarians. His priorities are clear, his views and conclusions are not a surprise given Drummond’s history in the banking sector, and are no doubt why he was invited by McGuinty to Chair the Commission to begin with. Two of his fellow Commissioners have profiles that closely match his own: positions held at traditionally conservative Ontario universities with strong links to the private sector. Dominic Giroux is the President and Vice-Chancellor of Laurentian University and sits on various boards including the Centre for Excellence in Mining
Innovation (CEMI) and the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC). Carol Stephenson is the Dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario, as well as the Lawrence G. Tapp Chair in Leadership. She currently serves on several boards for top Canadian companies and on important government committees, namely Intact Financial Services Corporation (formerly ING Canada), Manitoba Telecom Services Inc, General Motors Company, the Ontario Research Fund Advisory Board, and the federal Advisory Committee on Senior Level Retention and Compensation. The fourth Commission member, seemingly chosen tokenistically for her links to the arts and community services sectors (and with no risk to the private-sector friendly tone of the Commission given her strategic outnumbering by the other three members), is Susan Pigott. Pigott is a trained nurse and social worker, and now the Vice President, Communications and Community Engagement at the Centre for Addiction and Mental
Health (CAMH) in Toronto. She has worked in the nonprofit human services field for over 25 years, with groups such as St. Christopher House and the United Way of Greater Toronto. These four individuals have, together, carried out admittedly limited consultations with few Ontario stakeholders and come up with a comprehensive cost-cutting plan for all areas of Ontario public services including healthcare, all levels of education, child services and tax benefits, immigration, the justice sector, and employment and training services. The report also focuses on changing the degree of public sector unionization, labour market compensation and makes recommendations on environment and natural resources management, government business enterprises, intergovernmental relations (recommending substantially reduced provincial funding for municipalities), liability management, and revenue integrity. A full copy of the report and related documents, or an executive summary, can be found here: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/ reformcommission/.
1. Between 1997 and 2004, cuts in income and corporate taxes as removed close to $170.8 billion dollars from the Federal and Provincial revenues. This is money transferred from public services and shovelled into the pockets of the rich. 2. The rising cost of user fees
associated with private drug plans and long-term care. Bringing these sectors under the public sector will control their costs according to the Canadian Doctors for Medicare. 3. Need to enforce the Employer’s Health Tax that loses $2.4
billion in tax loopholes. This is according to the Ontario Health Coalition. The more enticing the argument for private care sounds, the more it should raise suspicion. The only goal of a privatized health care system is the immense radiance of a dollar sign.
BASICS #28 MAR / APR 2012
It’s bigger than charity Why NGOs can’t rebuild Haiti Kevin Edmonds
Peace or pacification? Mike Skinner Western news media report the tempo of Afghan peace talks, which have been on and off since at least 2009, accelerated in recent weeks. Less reported in Western media and largely ignored in Canada, are trilateral negotiations recently begun between the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. If we look at the facts of the past decade of the Global War on/of Terror within the context of the past centuries of imperial warfare we have a good idea of what negotiators are likely discussing. It’s unlikely the men-withguns sitting at the negotiating tables are fretting about how to liberate Afghan women. It is a safe bet their various quests for wealth and power from local to global levels trump concerns for human rights. The Taliban and the Westernaligned United Islamic Front aka Northern Alliance differ little in their disrespect for what might be called liberal Western values. Their significant difference is that the leaders of the United Islamic Front proved more willing than the Taliban to cut deals with American leaders to accept inclusion into the capitalist economic system. The participants who determined the fate of Afghans at the Bonn conference of 2001 rewarded the mujahideen of the United Islamic Front for their alliance with the US and its small coalition of the willing. The Karzai regime remains in power thanks to the military power of the US and NATO missions protecting it.
These are the three parties of men-with-guns negotiating the Afghan peace—the US, the Taliban, and the Afghan government led at present by Karzai whose days seem numbered. At best they will negotiate what some call a “negative peace,” meaning simply the absence of war. This is not the “positive peace” the invaders promised Afghans—a peaceful society in which all Afghans and especially women and girls would experience both “freedom” and “security.” Worse than “negative peace” is pacification. What negotiators are most likely hashing out during the Afghan peace talks is how to pacify the Afghan population. They are likely deciding how Afghans will be coerced/persuaded to accept the capitalist imperialism imposed by the US and its closest allies. What interests does imperialism have in Afghanistan? More wealth and power! This is not and has never been a quest primarily to establish liberal human rights and democracy. No matter how many people might be deluded by the mythology of good intentions, this is a quest for wealth and power. Some intellectuals acknowledge that imperialism produces many negative consequences. Still, they argue the benefits of liberal capitalist imperialism outweigh the negative consequences. The sad truth, however, is that the benefits of imperialism are inequitably distributed. People in Afghanistan and Pakistan I met argued accurately that while North Americans and even a few Afghan and Pakistani
elites might benefit from imperialism, most people do not. They understand their own history and how it affects their current global roles. With the collapse of the USSR and the existential threat the Soviet system represented, American strategists conceived a New Silk Road, which will serve as a transportation, communications, and energy transmission conduit to reestablish overland connections: south-north between India and Russia, via Pakistan, and the Central Asian republics; and east-west between China and Europe, via Iran, and Turkey. There is lots of money to be made, and imperialism is happy to compromise with the Taliban— since they cannot be defeated—to secure this pacification. But Afghans are currently increasing the intensity of protests against their occupation by US and NATO forces. (Yes, Afghans have been protesting the occupation for years, but media coverage is rare.) Afghans have demonstrated their anger toward the occupiers throughout the ten plus years of occupation. The ongoing protests indicate many Afghans reject imperial control. Many will also reject the type of coercive pacification the men-with-guns are currently negotiating. Few Afghans were persuaded by the promises that their pacification within a capitalist world order would be for their own good. Thus far, military force has failed to coerce most Afghans to cooperate. The struggle continues.
« Please sit by the exit, from PG. 1 study and work permit holders and permanent residents, can be forced to submit biometric data, including retina scans and DNA scans. Under Bill C-31, the government can revoke the citizenship of people who have been granted refugee status. Once they have done so, even if they have already been granted permanent residency, their status can be revoked. In doing so, the entire Refugee system has been made temporary so that even gaining permanent residency cannot ensure continued status in the country. The potential changes introduced by Bill C-31 are part of
a series of drastic changes to Canada’s immigration system that are making the entire system exclusionary. On January 18, Canada launched a “Parent and Grandparent Super Visa” and announced that 25,000 parents and grandparents will gain permanent residency in 2012, a 60% increase from 2010. While some immigrants rejoiced, hoping that this would finally mean reuniting with family members separated for decades, a closer reading tells a
different story. The Parent & Grandparent Supervisa is a 10 year visa, under which elderly family members of immigrants can come live in the country for two years at a time to visit their children and grandchildren. To get the Supervisa, spon>> continued, pg. 6
It has been more than two years since Haiti was struck by a catastrophic earthquake in January 2010, and the failed reconstruction of the country has led many good intentioned observers to ask how, with billions of dollars promised to “build Haiti back better,” it hasn’t yet happened. The sad reality is that while the earthquake may have destroyed a significant part of Haiti, it did not destroy the predatory and exploitative imperialist system which has historically impoverished Haiti. It unfortunately intensified it. Haiti remains in ruins, with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) benefiting from the extreme privatization of the Haitian state, resulting in a patchwork system of services which are unaccountable to the Haitian people. A big problem in discussing NGOs in Haiti and elsewhere, is that their presence is portrayed as non-political. NGOs are supposed to be doing good work. The reality in Haiti two years later reveals that NGOs are complicated and selfserving enterprises. This pattern of discarding the Haitian government in favour of mostly foreign NGOs became a template for “development” in Haiti over the course of several decades, as the government was regarded as too corrupt and inefficient to be trusted with foreign funding. Meanwhile, m a s s i v e amounts of funding would go to these foreign organizations with no accountability to the Haitian people. The Associated Press reported in early 2010 that of every aid dollar committed to Haiti for relief, only 1 cent would be directed to the Haitian government to help with the provision of services— with 75 cents going to USAID and the US military. Criticism of charity creates the problematic misconception that an individual is against easing the suffering of others, or the good intention to make the world a better place. This is not true. The problem is the wider framework within which charity occurs. In 2003 for example, Haiti’s debt service was $57 million, whereas the combined government spending for education, healthcare, environment, and transportation was $39 million—for a country of 9 million people. This continued the trend where
Haiti’s poverty has produced a tremendous amount of wealth through debt and interest repayments to former colonizers. In order to bring about a development model which can really help reconstruct Haiti, NGOs should all work towards making themselves irrelevant. With the emergency phase of relief over, this means that they should not simply import foreign professionals to do the jobs that locals are capable of, or could be trained to do. Canadian nurses are imported to Haiti, even as Haitian nurses are sitting unemployed in tent camps because the state hospitals were doubly destroyed by international intervention and the earthquake. In fact, the reconstruction effort in Haiti has revealed that charity and goodwill has become a commodity. The process of helping to alleviate poverty and destruction has been turned into a business. T h e NGO-led
development model in Haiti is a perfect Trojan horse for the entrenchment of the most extreme neoliberal economic restructuring documented to date. The goals, vision and business model of the transnational NGO’s are of increased dependency in Haiti, which is directly opposed to goals of the Haitian people who demand a development model which brings about both selfsufficiency and allows for selfdetermination. The discussion about whether or not charity can exist within such an inhuman an exploitative capitalist and imperialist system must be pushed to the forefront. We must look into the true nature and motivations of charity in our current system. A simple donation to an NGO does not erase the crimes of history which has created the divide between the rich and the poor.
IntERNATIONAL BASICS Contributor The Philippines’ natural resources have made it one of the top mining destinations in the world. Major reserves of metals such as copper, nickel, zinc, chrome, zinc, gold and silver, lay in areas of rich biodiversity and ancestral domains of indigenous peoples from North to South. The Philippine government saw this as a huge economic potential for the country. Hence, to pay for the billions of debt to the IMF and World Bank, the Mining Act of 1995 was enacted. In spite of the act’s violation of the Philippine Constitution on ownership of mineral resources, the then-President Ramos believed that this would create employment opportunities, promote industrialization and enhance national growth. To entice foreign mining transnational corporations, this act has allowed them full rights to 100% ownership, repatriation of profits, and tax holidays—leaving nothing to the peasants, indigenous peoples and poor Filipinos. Mining in the Philippines mostly consists of open pit mining to extract copper and gold, and stripmining for nickel, but
BASICS #28 MAR / APR 2012
Filipino women protest the Phillippines’ president’s close ties to big corporations in 2011. (Photo: Bullit Marquez)
Of mining and migration: Filipino women fight back both involve forest denudation, which triggers ﬂash ﬂoods, creates craters and millions of metric tons of tailings discharged in nearby shallow bays. This has resulted in a very poor environmental record and numerous natural disasters. According to United Nations Environmental Program, the country holds the worst record for tailing dam failures such as the Marcopper (now owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold) and LaFayette tailings dam spills a n d t h e L e p a n t o Mining C o m pany collapse. A c cording to Innnabuyog women’s organization, the villages at the receiving end of the mine-tailings are threatened with serious health hazards ranging from skin diseases, respiratory diseases including tuberculosis, silicosis, asbestosis, gastrointestinal diseases, cancers, mental fatigue and problems
in reproductive health such as spontaneous abortion, malformed babies. The presence of the Armed Forces Philippines augmented by the hiring of armed security guards has perpetrated militarization as answer to people’s resistance to mining. The security forces continue to harass protesters and leaders of local communities and from 2001-2007, Human Rights Watch has recorded 130 cases of extrajudicial indigenous killings. Indigenous women and children have been raped, sexually harassed and been victims of other forms of violence. Despite local and national protests along with international pressure, Tampakan Copper project in South Cotabato and Canada’s Toronto Ventures Inc. still operate on indigenous sacred grounds in the southern part of the Philippines. The sellout of the country’s natural resources has allowed the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights to land and self-determination. This has resulted in massive displacement of peoples, destruction of indigenous values and culture, and high incidences of crimes such as domestic violence against women. Sustainable communities have been eroded by cash econ-
omy which has marginalized the traditional role of women as food producers, gatherer and nurturer. Even with the increase of mining companies in the country, unemployment and underemployment has intensified while labour rights and community welfare has deteriorated. The lack of livelihood had the locals migrating to other cities and even abroad to sustain their families. Despite the government’s collaborative effort to protect the interest of the mining companies, indigenous women have been at the forefront of the struggle against large and destructive mining. They have chosen to build organizations at the local, national and international level, such as the recently formed International Women’s Alliance. Education and awarenessraising has been key to their organizing effort and they have conducted research and documentation of violations. They have chosen to assert their land rights and selfdetermination as indigenous peoples. They have initiated and joined mobilizations to prevent expansion of open-pit mines, formed human barricades with their husband and
Italian fascists spill blood, while state pursues anti-fascists Steve da Silva On December 13, 2011, Gianluca Casseri—a 50-year old supporter of the CasaPound fascist movement in Italy—parked his car near the bustling Piazza Dalmazia in Florence, got out and shot dead Samb Modou and Diop Mor, two Senegalese street vendors. Two hours later, Casseri opened fire again in the San Lorenzo market, shooting and injuring another two African street vendors. Casseri reportedly shot himself later that day when approached by police. Casseri’s racist attack came just a couple days after a lynch mob of 500 people hailed petrol bombs down on a Roma (‘Gypsy’) camp in Turin. Fascism is on the rise in Italy, and its roots stem not from the frontline fascist militants in the ranks of organizations like CasaPound but reach deeper. In a March 2011 report,
Human Rights Watch condemned both state and media in Italy for failing to prosecute the perpetrators of hate crimes and for their joint role in inciting racism: “The government [of Silvio Berlusconi] spends far more energy blaming migrants and Roma for Italy’s problems than it does on efforts to stop violent attacks on them.” The terrorism and racism of fascism is the political means by which the ruling class sows divisions amongst the people in times of grave economic crisis when unity is most required. The forces of fascism, at the level of the state and amongst the people, are required to counter the mobilization of a revolutionary left. Italy’s Maoist forces (Committees to Support Resistance For Communism, or CARC, and the (new) Communist Party of Italy, or nPCI)—which call for a people’s
war against the Italian papal state to establish socialism—are one such current that is being fiercely repressed. In early 2011, five anti-fascists —one of whom was part of the national leadership of the CARC —were convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment for allegedly breaking into a CasaPound facility, along with being ordered to pay €9000 in compensation to CasaPound for damages and legal expenses. The defendants maintain their innocence, and the CARC has written extensively on the gross inconsistencies in the testimonies and depositions of witnesses. The CARC maintains that the trial was fundamentally political in nature and aimed to disrupt the emergence of the anti-fascist patrols (led up by the CARC) to counter fascist activity. This past February 2012, twelve members of the CARC
and nPCI were in court again in a process that the CARC is calling an “openly political process to ban communism.” There are no specific crimes or offenses being considered other than simply being part of the nPCI. In October 1999, police conducted hundreds of raids across Italy against the “caravan” of the nPCI. The banning of the Maoists in Italy are part of a Europe-wide trend to repress communism, with communist parties in Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia outlawed. In Poland and Hungary communist symbols are fully banned. The political offensive against the revolutionaries is the political complement to the economic and social offensive being waged in the name of “austerity.” In February 2012, another three members of the CARC were also being charged in a separate trial for alleged connections with
children and in some cases, opted for mass arrest if a few of them were arrested. From the local level to the Congress, progressive party lists such as Gabriela Women’s Party, Bayan Muna and Anakpawis have ﬁled a resolution to review the implementation of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) and recommended measures to ensure the genuine promotion and protection of indigenous people’s rights, including their right to ancestral domain. International pressure has also played a big role to support their struggle. From January 2 to 12 2012, a mining mission comprised of Canadian church members has visited the Cordillera region to expose the unjust practices of Canadian Mining Companies in the Philippines. The mission included members of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), The Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA), the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), the Regional Ecumenical Council of the Cordillera (Reccord) and the United Church of Canada (UCC). One of their objectives is to present their findings to the standing committees on Justice and Human Rights and Foreign Affairs and International Developments of the House of Commons the Canadian Parliament. One of the members of the mission, Connie Sorio of KAIROS Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives will be speaking with Brigitte Dangay of the Binnadang group,a community of Cordillera indigenous peoples in Toronto, at this year’s International Women’s Day celebration on March 10th organized by the Migrant Women’s Coordinating Body. For more information, we can be contacted at womenanti-imperialists@ googlegroups.com. the website ‘Cop Hunt’, a website that publishes pictures of agents of the political police who “spy, monitor, threaten, blackmail, orchestrated provocations, infiltrate, beat, and slaughter.” The CARC has written that what Italy’s ruling class is doing with trial against the Bologna 12 is “creating a new kind of special court that operates on the basis of emergency legislation (although officially this legislation does not yet exist!) to prosecute offenses that are not recognized as such by law… in plain violation of the Constitution….” Italy’s Maoists have boldly proclaimed that there can be no peace or reconciliation with these fascists, warmongers and financial parasites: a broad people’s war is necessary. As Antonio Gramsci wrote from the dungeons of Italy’s last fascist regime, ”The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.”
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The Crown must uphold its end of the peace PEDOPHILE AND TERRORISTS The author holding the 1764 Niagara Treaty Ewampum Belt , the Great Lakes Confederacy Belt.
Or how Vic Toews’s spy bill and counterterrorism strategy are related Steve da Silva
Johnny Hawke, Kai Kai Kons, Loon Clan, Three Fires Confederacy, Anishinabek Nation On January 24, a gathering was held as a direct result of a call from First Nations to meet with the Crown. The gathering, billed as “Strengthening our Relationship,” was based on Canada’s first Constitutional documents: the Wampum Belts of the 1764 Treaty of Niagara. During the 1760’s, the Anishinabe War Chief Pontiac along with Wendat, Seneca, French, Shawnee and other Anishinabe Warriors waged a successful campaign to remove British forces from their Territory due to unfulfilled agreements made by the Crown. The British responded by calling on many Indigenous Nations for a Conference at Fort Niagara to “strengthen our relationship” and regain peace. At this same time other British Military officers sent in blankets infested with smallpox as gifts to these communities. At this Assembly known as the Treaty of Fort Niagara, the
Crown used the Indigenous practice of Wampum Belts and presented the attending Nations with the Great Lakes Confederacy Wampum Belt and the 24 Nations Wampum Belt, an agreement of Peace, NonInterference and Co-existence. The belts allowed for the presence of the British in First Nations Territories. First Nations have never broken this fundamental agreement and have always helped to defend the Crown as allies in many wars, from 1812 to today. Some First Nations people even choose to enlist into their “ally’s” military, helping to colonize and steal resources from other Indigenous Peoples. Many felt this January 24 Gathering was just a glorified photo-opt to calm threats of civil disobedience made during the Attawapiskat housing crisis. The majority of Chiefs (excluding the leaders of Kaschekwan) tend to use the threat of direct action when they call on the Government of Canada for more funding. However they distance themselves from this kind of politics at the eleventh hour and stand
at the sidelines and watch their people uphold the treaties by any means necessary. If Canada does not want to uphold our peace agreements maybe we need to disengage from our alliance, as they are not upholding their end of the peace. When we are on the front lines having Crown guns pointed at us we are not doing it to secure more Funding Dollars or so we can continue to be governed by the Indian Act and its Chiefs. Nor are we going to jail to secure partnerships with the corporations that cause destruction to our territories and are another form of control like the Indian Act. “We want to let you know that you are dealing with fire. We say, Canada, deal with us today because our militant leaders are already born. “We cannot promise that you are going to like the kind of violent political action we can just about guarantee the next generation is going to bring to our reserves.” —George Erasmus, National Chief of Assembly of First Nations,1988.
« Please sit by the exit, from PG. 4 sors must meet minimum income requirements and pay for medical bills of the visiting family members who will not be allowed to access Canadian healthcare. What used to be a permanent immigration system, where immigrants could sponsor their parents and grandparents to come in to the country and get citizenship, has been replaced by a temporary immigration system where parents can visit, but not stay. The current backlog of parents and grandparents waiting to be processed is 165,000 allowing in 25,000 people barely makes a dent in this long line of separated families. Also, at the same time as the Supervisa was introduced and the record number of acceptance numbers announced, a 2 year ban on all new applications was placed. In other words, right now, no
one can apply to sponsor their families in to Canada. Whether the ban will actually be lifted is a question only time can answer. In addition to the limited and temporary Supervisas, the Canadian government has increased restrictions on the spousal sponsorship system— the other end of the family reunification part of the immigration system. Until recently, a Canadian citizen who married a non-citizen, could sponsor their spouse and ensure that they get full citizenship. Not any longer. Under regulations titled ‘Conditional-Permanent Residency’, if a couple has known each other for less than two years, then the non-citizen spouse gets conditional citizenship for 2 years. After the 2 years, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will investigate the relationship and
then decide if the relationship is genuine and if full citizenship can be granted. This regulation puts the noncitizen spouse in a position where leaving an abusive marriage is a matter of giving up citizenship. As the total number of permanent residents in Canada as a percentage of the total population drops each year, the number of temporary migrants continues to grow. This is not just in the case of increased temporary workers but rather temporary visas in the refugee and family reunification system. It is essential that immigrants, refugees, and those who believe in an immigration system that prioritizes family reunification and humanitarianism join forces before it is too late. Visit nooneisillegal.org to see how you can stop this Bill. updates.
In the moral universe of Vic Toews, “you either stand with us or with the child pornographers” when it comes to the Bill C-30, the so-called ‘Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act’. Bill C-30, a.k.a. the Lawful Access bill, would give the police unwarranted access to our online data and would force Internet service providers to comply with their requests. But if the police have a case to be made against suspected criminal activity, they can easily get a warrant from a judge. So why the excess? A hint at what this bill is really all about was given five days before the ‘Lawful Access’ Bill was tabled, when Vic Toews released Canada’s first comprehensive counterterrorism strategy document. Building Resilience Against Terrorism plays on all the old trumped-up terrorist bogeys to justify Canada’s approach to counter-terrorism. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Hezbollah, Al Shabaab in Somalia—like their ideologies or not, but each of their struggles is caught up with the inalienable right to national liberation, which is not simply terrorism. The guide calls for a “proportionate and measured response to terrorism.” Prime Minister Stephen Harper used these precise words at the beginning of his first term in support of Israel’s merciless bombing of Lebanon in 2006. The primary instance of “homegrown terrorism” cited by the guide is the case of the Toronto 18, failing to recall that at the center of that Sunni terrorist plot was a CSIS agent. All the terrorist threats listed in the guide are dubious, and I would argue are not even the main target of
the Canadian government. Rather, the most revealing passages in the report, getting at the heart of both the counter-terrorism strategy and the government’s move towards warrantless spying, is arguably the following: “Low-level violence by domestic-based groups remains a reality in Canada… revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism, and anticapitalism.” And what exactly does “lowlevel violence” mean? The guide also tells us that any act intended to compromise Canada’s “economic security” is also a terrorist act. That could mean a road blockade or a direct action protest. It could even mean a strike, if a workers’ strike is deemed to affect Canada’s economic security. What is “economic security,” after all, if not the security of those who own the economy—the capitalists? So if pounding scores of skulls into the pavement at the G20 Summit in Toronto is “law and order,” and unbridled warrantless access to the internet records of Canadians is “lawful access,” and if the people carry out just a little “low-level violence” against a government that most likely committed electoral fraud to tip the last election, and that collective action adversely affects Canada’s “economic security” and tips into “terrorism” then, well… It’s really not about “you’re with us, or you’re with the pedophiles.” I think George Bush was more to the point when he told us, “You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” So be it Vic Toews, Stephen Harper: by your definition, many of us who struggle for justice and equity against the concentration of wealth and power are with the “terrorists.”
Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety (or, capitalist surveillance bulldog), recently attempted to introduce highly invasive legislation on surveillance.
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THE OMNIBUS CRIME BILL:
Setting up cruel and unusual punishment Shane Martínez In September 2011 Justice Minister Rob Nicholson introduced Canada to Bill C-10, an omnibus crime bill also known as the Safe Streets and Communities Act. The bill is divided into five parts, and will serve to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, as well as amend a variety of laws, including the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code of Canada, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Perhaps most important, however, is that fact that it is largely comprised of the content from nine separate bills that the Conservatives were previously unable to pass when they did not have the majority in the House of Commons that they now enjoy. Bill C-10 appropriately mirrors the totality of the Conservatives’ approach to crime in that it provides longer maximum sentences, more mandatory minimum sentences and fewer conditional sentences (also known as house arrest) all the while refusing to address the root causes of the criminal behaviour it addresses. It also is the height of the hypocrisy that is part and parcel of the Conservatives’ position that they are fiscally prudent. The estimated cost of the proposed measures has been identified by Quebec’s Institute for Socio-economic Research and Information (IRIS) as being in the vicinity of $19 billion. This hypocrisy may be tempered though by the Institute’s
prediction that the majority of these costs will be courteously shouldered onto the provincial governments rather than be handled by Ottawa. The specific changes being sought by the Conservatives include re-naming pardons as “record suspensions”, and extending the ineligibility periods for obtaining a record suspension from three to five years for summary conviction offences, and from five to ten years for indictable offences. It would also become impossible for some non-violent offenders with multiple convictions to get pardons at all. In addition, Bill C-10 will also introduce additional Ministerial discretion to deny the return of Canadians imprisoned abroad who wish to serve their sentences back home where they are closer to their families. Such an approach exemplifies the Conservatives’ desire to perpetually ostracize and alienate those who have been convicted of offences, rather than work towards restorative justice and social re-integration. The proposed legislation also clashes with increasingly liberal social attitudes about marijuana, and doubles the maximum penalty for its production from 7 years to 14 years in prison. This shift poses a serious risk to those who produce marijuana to cope with the painful symptoms of HIV / AIDS, cancer and other illnesses, but do so without a licence due to a shortage of doctors willing to prescribe marijuana. Many writers, activists and scholars, including the U.S.-based Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) organization, have warned the Conservatives that a prohibi-
tion approach to marijuana only increases the street value of the drug and in turn fuels a myriad of organized criminal activity— including violence—that would not otherwise occur if its possession was decriminalized. Despite Bill-10 being characterized by the government as a workable means of instilling accountability in offenders, the reality is that it is a blueprint for the construction of a criminal system which bears striking similarities to the tried and failed “lock ’em up” approach to drugs in the United States. Even representatives for the corrections officers’ union, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), spoke out against Bill C-10, rightly identifying that it will hyper-incarcerate people while concurrently failing to treat offenders with mental health issues. James Clancy, the president of NUPGE, even went so far as to say that, “When people talk about Harper being tough on crime, I think Bill C-10 demonstrates that the Harper government is dumb on crime.” Bill C-10 has completed its second reading in the Senate and is now on the verge of becoming law at a time when Statistics Canada reports that the country’s crime rate is lower than it ever has been in the last 40 years. However, on the eve of what has been termed a socially disastrous and unconstitutional step by the Conservatives, communities continue to identify and challenge the bill and its disproportionate affect on marginalized communities. By all accounts, it appears to be a challenge which will not be easily given up.
« Library Workers’ Union, from PG. 2 are part-time workers. Consequently, the union will be bargaining for demands in terms of wage equity, maternity leave, and benefits for precariously employed workers. Since the 2008 economic recession the various levels of government have used austerity measures to get the working class to pay for the capitalist crisis. In further efforts to create a larger body of exploitable labour, the government is trying to break down unions and further privatize public services. Increasing cuts means increasing privatization; working class people of Toronto will only have to pay more for fewer services,
leading to increasing accumulation of profits for the wealthy. Particularly within this stage of capitalism, women are oppressed and exploited by institutionalized patriarchy, which puts particular demands on the labour of working class women. Women are more likely to be unjustly fired, have lower salaries than men, and also hold less powerful positions. This has adversely affects the Library Workers’ Union that consists largely of part -time employees, who are predominantly women. The city will try to further increase the inequitable demands on working class women by reducing benefits and job security, as it did with
CUPE 416. However, in spite of continuing austerity measures and attacks on working-class women within this city, there is solidarity from the people of Toronto. The people won a victory this past year by stopping many of the cuts to library services that the Ford administration was initiating. Further support will be needed for the library workers because negotiating for a better contract means demanding better public services and a response to austerity measures on working class women. Visit your local library and continue to support working class movements in the city.
« ‘No More Silence’, from PG. 1 part of the Toronto organizing committee of the 7th Annual February 14 No More Silence National Day of Action. The Toronto demonstration was just one the many held nationally on this day; part of the ongoing independent efforts nationally to raise awareness and actively mobilize communities to end violence against Indigenous women. Through music, stories, poetry and spoken word, men, women and children, allies, friends and family gathered to remember all those who have lost their lives because of indifference. Community members showed support for the family members of those who have lost their mothers, daughters, wives, sisters and friends whereas the government has chosen not to. Audrey Huntley writes in a New Socialist article that “No More Silence has always understood the disappearances in the context of ongoing genocidal policies.” Genocidal tactics like the residential school system that aimed to apprehend children from their own communities and assimilate them into ‘society’. “Justice Murray Sinclair says the United Nations defines genocide to include the removal of children based on race, then placing them with another race to indoctrinate them... for the purpose of racial indoctrination was—and is—an act of genocide and it occurs all around the world,” citing an article excerpt by Chinta Puxley. For Krysta Williams, one of the organizers part of the Native Youth and Sexual Health Network, the rally is important because, “It’s about remembering because so much of colonization is about forgetting—who we are, whose land you’re on, our languages, etc. I would also say that this doesn’t ‘impact’ our work so much as it informs it. What we do in community, at the grassroots is what informs and drives the rest of the work.” She reflects on the words of Wanda Whitebird (who conducted the ceremony this year and for the last 7 years, “We made a promise to the women who have passed on that we would do this every year.” The demonstration was followed by a community feast and open mic at the 519 Church Street Community Centre. The open mic allowed people to speak about their struggles, triumphs and pain of dealing with the loss of their loved ones coupled with the painful indifference of lawmakers but emphasizing the need to continue the fight for justice. A beautiful short film was screened called, “A Poem to Indigenous Women,” a really powerful film made by Ryan Red Corn of the 1491s. (The 1491s are a group of amazing Indigenous youth who make YouTube films.) The film really highlights everyone’s complicity in violence,
and from the perspective of someone who, in the film, has committed violence. Krysta said, “The film was created to raise awareness to end the epidemic of violence against Native Women in the U.S.” The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was created in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and is often seen as an international human rights policy foundation just for women. When asked what the February 14th Committee’s future plans were, Krysta said, “We’re currently taking our lead from women in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver who are wanting to pressure the Canadian federal government in making sure they agree to the inquiry. There’s been some confusion around how the optional protocol works (which Canada signed and ratified in 2002) and whether CEDAW has officially made a decision to investigate Canada.” The ultimate goal: raise their voices and continue to push for an investigation that there are indeed violations of CEDAW and that this violence in unacceptable. The memorial will carry on until this inquiry begins, until the violence stops, action is taken and will continue to be organized to remember those that are not forgotten. The murders and disappearances of Indigenous women for over 30 years, and the government’s inaction, makes us ask: how is that possible in a supposed ‘democratic, developed, progressive’ country like Canada with policies that shun violence against women on paper? It begs the question, what kind of women are the priority? Are we not all protected by the laws that grant us ‘freedom’ from violence? What’s so different in the case of Indigenous women? It is clear to me that the state is sending the message that Indigenous women don’t matter by actively ignoring the issue, thus promoting indifference to all settlers. It’s important to understand the colonial genocidal remnants of the justice system. As settlers on this land, it’s important for us to understand our role in seeking justice for all by looking past what has been taught to us (such as being grateful for being ‘accepted’ into Canada) and look back on what really happened after colonization. Understanding that these policies that have been put in place have affected settlers who have come here and are continually exploited by the state is important as well. “Reflecting back on organizing such an important vigil, is there anything that you want to say to our readers?”, I asked. She replied, “Come out next year! Oh and settlers, remember whose land you’re on!”
INT’L WOMEN’S DAY Childcare and child poverty
One in seven children still lives in poverty in Canada Manena D. In 1989, all parties in the House of Commons agreed to pass a resolution to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000. In 1991, citizens concerned about the lack of government progress in addressing child poverty formed Campaign 2000 to “grade” the government’s performance. Fast track to 2011 and the statistics point to an increased number of families living way below the poverty line and a greater percentage of children suffering the impact of poverty. Canada has received steady “C”s since the 1980s for its child poverty rate. A clear link has been made between joblessness and poverty. Non-employed families are the most economically disadvantaged, which means jobcreation strategies are an integral part of tackling poverty. Yet, women, who are typically made responsible for taking care of children, are unable to adequately seek work. This means that they, and their children, remain poor. In the 2011 report card on child and family poverty in Canada, Campaign 2000 states, “The economy has more than doubled in size, yet the incomes of families in the lowest deciles have virtually stagnated. The gap between rich and poor families has continued to widen, leaving average-income families also struggling to keep up. “With considerable evidence from academic, communitybased and government research and from extensive testimony from people with lived experience of poverty, we probably know more about how to eradicate poverty in Canada than we did twenty years ago. Yet, structural barriers hinder significant progress on eradicating poverty.” Alizeh Hussain, Ontario Campaign 2000 Coordinator notes, “Far too many children live in poverty and with the forthcoming cuts in the public sector many more may end up being worse off. “Unless positive changes are made to current public programs—changes that look to help people rather than cut costs, the rate of child poverty will rise, making life worse for those who are most vulnerable.” Why is this so important? Child care is a critical support component for working parents. Recently communities in Toronto organized under the banner of Toronto Stop the Cuts to challenge the austerity agenda proposed by a small group of councillors led by millionaire Mayor Ford. While the media has reported that Ford backed off on sweeping cuts to child care, this is not the case. At the Executive Committee on September 19th, Ford and his allies formally asked the City Manager to consider the following:
Whether quality assessments of child care are required; Review options for reducing child care funding and subsidies; Consider transferring the city-operated child care centres to community or private operators; Consider reducing the maximum subsidized per diem rates the City will support for subsidized spaces. So in essence, the major cuts to child care have simply been deferred. At the City Council meeting on September 26/27, 2011, City Council did not reject cuts to child care (as they did with some other services), so this re-
mains on the table. Instead, City Council voted to call on the provincial and federal governments to work with the City to develop “a strategy to expand the number of child care spaces in Toronto over the next two years.” Without additional funding, there is no commitment to save (much less expand) child care spaces. While a collapse of the child care sector would be bad for children and families, it would be disastrous for our economy. As laid out in Early Years Study 3 and based on the work of economist Robert Fairholm, child care is a tax generator, the biggest job creator, and a
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strong economic stimulant. The Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare in its response to the Drummond report states: “We are aware of the tough fiscal environment the province is facing. That reality is one of the best arguments in favour of investing in child care now. “We need child care to enable Ontario parents to work, lift families out of poverty, and increase tax revenues to the government. In addition, the long-term benefits to our economy and local communities are unquestionable.” The fight against the austerity agendas proposed by the neoliberal provincial and municipal governments has just started. Neoliberalism is the new form of capitalism, but as ever, families are under attack. The banking crisis that began
in 2007 and that became the global financial crisis of 2008 was the consequence of the process of the creation of massive fictitious financial wealth. Using this context, Millionaire Ford tried to lie to Toronto’s residents by telling us the sky was falling and that a nonexistent deficit had to be cut. It is time to fight back and to say no to the austerity agenda. Families are being called to sacrifice hard earned social gains to support an unsustainable capitalist economy. While corporations continue to receive tax breaks and banks are being bailed out, the poor are asked to give up the little dignity they have. Join the fight against the austerity agenda to stop widening the gap between the rich and the poor!