Monday, December 05, 2005

Jim Loney

by Carrie Kristal-Schroder

A group claiming to represent three Arab men detained on secret security certificates in Canada is calling on the kidnappers of four aid workers in Iraq to release their hostages. In an open letter released to Canadian media yesterday, the group says that one of the Canadians being held, James Loney, 41, of Toronto, has worked to try to free three Arab men now being held in Canada on anti-terrorism security certificates.

"It pains our heart to know that a person of this calibre is being held captive," the letter says. "We care about his freedom more than we do our own. If you love Allah, if you have goodness in your heart, please deal with this matter as righteous Muslims and not let these kind, caring, compassionate and innocent people suffer."

The letter is signed by Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub and Hassan Almrei, detained in Toronto." This (letter) was initiated by the (detained men), and they actually have pictures in the jail with them of Jim Loney from when he was part of a demonstration calling for their release," said Matthew Behrens, a spokesman for the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada. "And they knew that Jim has not only worked for the freedom of Muslim prisoners here in Canada, he's also done that in Iraq."

Mr. Behrens said detained men have no other agenda in seeking the release of Mr. Loney but his safety and security, and wanted to add their voices to others who are calling for release of the hostages in Iraq.

Mr. Behrens said one of the detainees, one of whom is currently in solitary confinement, dictated his words over the telephone. Mr. Behrens, who said he has known Mr. Loney for more than 20 years, added that his organization has been endorsed by many prominent Canadians including as David Suzuki, former NDP leader Alexa McDonough and Alexandre Trudeau, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

"All our members and the people who support us recognize that there's a real injustice going on here in Canada, and we're basically saying we shouldn't be detaining anyone without charge anywhere on the planet."

The group has also lobbied on behalf of Mohamed Harkat of Ottawa, who has been held on a security certificate since December 2002.

Mr. Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, of Montreal were abducted at gunpoint in Baghdad on Nov. 26 along with Briton Norman Kember, 74, and American Tom Fox, 54. All four are members of the Christian Peacemakers Teams, a Chicago-based human rights organization.

Their kidnappers, a little-known group that calls itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, accuses the four of being American spies and says it will kill them unless all Iraqis imprisoned in American and Iraqi jails are freed by Thursday.

"We hope and pray to see these captives freed as much as we hope and pray for our own freedom here in Canada, a freedom for which James Loney has worked so hard," the open letter says. Mr. Loney is a Toronto resident known for his work with the homeless in that city. He's been working with the Peacemakers since 2000 and is currently the Canadian program co-ordinator. He had visited Iraq three times before and was leading a delegation when he was abducted. His parents live in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

From the Free Press:

WITH less than six months before the second annual North America Summit Hemispheria meets in Winnipeg, students from the University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg and concerned community members are already gearing up to take action.

"Trade issues have broad impacts on all folks in Canada and all folks in North America," says Kate Sjoberg, president of the University of Winnipeg Students Association.

The Hemispheria Action Group was formed last summer by student union members of both universities. Since then, the group has been working to develop their website, and link with other local, national and international groups concerned with trade talks that will strengthen the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Last week, the action group held their first community meeting at the University of Winnipeg. It was their first community event to try and make the public more aware of the effects of strengthening free trade. The group plans to hold similar events each month leading up to the summit.

Troy Stozek, who is pursuing a masters degree in geography at the U of M, says that because the meeting involves government officials, but not presidents or prime ministers, the summit may not even fall on the public's radar. However, Stozek and the action group say that what the public isn't hearing about free trade is how it can have a negative impact on Canada's bargaining power with the U.S. Stozek points to the recent softwood lumber disputes as proof, and says the trade agreement gives too much money and power to the private sector.

"I don't think people are making that link," he says. "We don't have as much trade clout as we'd like to think."

According to Sjoberg, the action group's main goal is to raise public awareness about the effects such a broad trade agreement can have. She says it's important to examine issues like trading a natural resource like water with the U.S. and Mexico, or the negative effects developing land for hydro power can have.

Sjoberg says the action group hasn't ruled out holding protests and rallies against the summit, and says the growing number of group members will decide their action plan in the coming months.

"It really starts to treat people and consider people as consumers rather than citizens," she says of the trade agreement.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Which one do you prefer?


I am concerned about Canada's water. Privatization, bulk water exports, and massive bottled water operations are threatening the future of our water. Your government must reinvest in our public water systems, stop water diversions, exclude water from all trade deals, and act to stop the environmentally damaging practices of water bottling operations and other industrial water takers. Moreover, a comprehensive National Water Act must be developed to declare water a human right and protect our water from these increasing threats.


I believe that water is a sacred gift that connects all life. Its value to the common good must take priority over commercial interests. In Africa, Asia, and Latin America, private companies are taking control of public water services. Privatization of water resources is also increasing elsewhere in the world, including North america. This turns a common good into a commodity, depriving those who cannot pay and further threatening local ecosystems.
I call on the Government of Canada, nationally and internationally, to ensure access to clean water for all, now and for future generations by:

  • Supporting publicly or cooperatively controlled water services that have genuine community participation;
  • Opposing measures in federal, bilateral or multilateral agreements and policies that promote the privatization of water services; and
  • Protecting and preserving natural sources of water.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A long time ago,

On Monday June 27, 2005. Ninety days after the March 23rd Waco Summit between Prime Minister Martin, President George W. Bush and President Vicente Fox, a ministerial report was made public. It outlined, in the words of the Public Security and Emergency Preparedness Canada media release, "the progress achieved in the implementation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America."

Though bureaucratic in language and spun to sound positive, the report gives a sense of the direction and timelines unfolding within the deep integration agenda. The imperatives of the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, which had the full backing of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, can also be seen in this ministerial report.

This is a wide-ranging report that covers areas such as the movement of goods, financial services, cargo security, bioprotection, and aviation security. The full report can be found at Here are a few of the "initiatives" worth highlighting:

"Enhance electricity collaboration: All three countries need to coordinate efforts on restructuring issues that may impact transmission provision and access, as well as market design and investment issues that impact North American markets."

"Increase natural gas collaboration: This initiative will address a range of issues related to natural gas market in North America, including production, transportation, transmission, distribution, consumption, trade, interconnections and liquefied natural gas as well as projections for the future."

"Joint Canada-U.S. review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: The review is an opportunity to ensure that the Agreement continues to be a visionary statement guiding not only governments, but also members of the Great Lakes community, in the continued protection and restoration of the Great Lakes."

"Establish or identify a North American food safety coordinating mechanism: By March 2007, establish or identify an effective food safety coordinating mechanism facilitating the cooperative development of common North American standards, as appropriate, and the removal of identified differences in standards where warranted and appropriate."

"Identification and appropriate adoption of best practices in maintaining the safety, efficacy and quality of pharmaceutical products: The implementation of best practices and the harmonization of technical standards for the registration of pharmaceuticals promote regulatory efficiencies and predictability."

"Develop and implement compatible immigration security measures to enhance North American security, including requirements for admission and length of stay; visa decision-making standards; lookout systems; and examining the feasibility of entry and exit procedures and systems: Develop benchmarks related to procedures and policies for visitor visa processing, including security screening, visa validity, and length of stay within 9 months."

"Enhance our capacity to combat terrorism through the appropriate sharing of terrorist watch list data and the establishment of appropriate linkages between Canada, the United States and Mexico: The three countries will negotiate bilateral terrorist screening information-sharing agreements."

While the Government of Canada has endorsed these initiatives, none of these major proposals have been the subject of public debate or consultation with Parliament. In fact, they appear to be emerging from a narrow consensus of corporate executives, rather than the values and priorities of broader public opinion.

I believe that the people in Canada, civil society groups in Canada, and even the Parliament of Canada should have a voice on matters of such importance. Please contact Prime Minister Paul Martin at and tell him that he must have a full and open consultation with people in Canada on these issues before he proceeds any further towards deep integration with the United States.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Copy this message, then click on his name

To: Hon. Gord Mackintosh

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the conditions in the Winnipeg Remand Centre. It is common knowledge that the majority of inmates in Manitoba’s correctional system are Aboriginal. Many of these inmates request culturally appropriate services, such as the ability to speak to and be counseled by Aboriginal people. It has come to my attention that the Remand Centre has four non-Aboriginal Chaplains, all male and only one Aboriginal Elder, also male. There are no female Elders in the Remand Centre, even though there are a significant number of female inmates in the facility.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Elder at the Remand Centre, Neil Hall who indicated that he cannot keep up with the number of requests he receives from inmates on a daily basis. I understand that while there may be 8-12 requests for his services per day which he must contend with alone, the Chaplains receive only up to 4 requests per day each. This is absolutely unreasonable and is a disservice to the Aboriginal population in the facility, particularly the women.

Neil indicated that he has requested that a female Elder or a female helper be hired, but that his requests have fallen on deaf ears. I understand that one of the Chaplain positions recently opened and another Chaplain was promptly hired. This would have been a good opportunity for the facility to hire another Elder, preferably female.

I want to recommend that this issue at the Remand Centre be looked at immediately and that the appropriate staff be hired, given the inmate population. Please let me know what steps you are taking to address this issue. Thank you for your anticipated serious consideration of this matter.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

The text of the HAG brochure

The Hemispheria Action Group (HAG) formed this summer in response to a press release announcing that Winnipeg will be hosting the second annual North American Summit Hemispheria from May 31–June 2, 2006. This summit will bring together political and business leaders from Mexico, the United States, and Canada to discuss NAFTA and the competitiveness of the North American economy. We in HAG see the Summit as promoting the neo-liberal agenda of competition and privatization that seeks to expand the wealth and power of corporations at the expense of people and the environment. We will work to educate and mobilize people in opposition to the agenda of the Summit Hemispheria. This brochure provides our assessment of the ten commitments that came out of the inaugural Hemispheria summit held in the Mexican city of Monterrey last May.

1. To advance the North American Free Trade Agreement

The Canada-US-Mexico NAFTA promised to remove trade barriers, increase economic growth, create jobs and strengthen democracy. In reality NAFTA is an investment agreement granting foreign investors a remarkable set of new rights and privileges, rights that promote deregulation and privatization of our local, national and international markets. NAFTA deals with subjects that can be seen as barely related to trade—local agriculture, investment, intellectual-property rights, and governmental involvement in the national economy. NAFTA is an extension of long-standing neo-liberal principles and institutions. It has led to forced reductions to government subsidies, the scaling back of public services, lost jobs, and less state regulation of profit-driven private market forces. NAFTA has contributed to the concentration of more wealth into the hands of the rich few, and deepening the divide between rich and poor. NAFTA wraps itself in progressive language, but what it does is undemocratically entrench neo-liberal policies into supranational law. Once in place, the rules and regulations of the trade agreement constrain elected governments. This means that people have even less influence over what governments do in their name. Because the interconnectedness of the world economy calls for community, the alternative to NAFTA is not isolation. Trade should be guided by principles of economic sustainability, social and ecological justice and development for all. This means stable, equal trade rules enforced and achieved through a truly democratic multilateral process.

2. To develop regional energy policies

The Energy and Basic Petrochemicals Chapter of the NAFTA agreement encourages sustained and gradual liberalization of trade in energy in the free trade area. Article 602 declares, "Energy and petrochemical goods and activities shall be governed by the provisions of this Agreement." Through the energy policy framework embedded within the NAFTA, there are few benefits and the negative impacts are felt by many. Corporate concentration within the energy sector has reached alarming proportions, resulting in higher profits for investors and higher prices for people. All the while, the further development and expansion of the oil and gas industries, large scale hydro dam projects and commercial mining operation has displaced indigenous peoples from traditional lands and caused environmental destruction. At the Summit Hemispheria in Mexico last May the promotion of renewable and responsible energy sources was discussed. But when looking at the path NAFTA has brought us down thus far—ever-greater dependence on non-renewable resources as a consequence of corporate control and the profit imperative—it is highly unrealistic to think that such goals will actually be achieved. Regional energy policy within the NAFTA framework will be corporate-driven and environmentally-destructive.

3. To address the migration phenomenon

When government officials talk about the need "to address the migration phenomenon" they are not talking about reassessing the merits of neoliberal free trade agreements such as NAFTA that generate the kind of destruction and destitution that force an increasing number of Mexican workers and small-scale farmers to migrate in search of work. Instead they are talking about controlling the movement of people while maintaining and expanding the very trade agreement that made migration essential to survival. Because NAFTA legalized the free movement of capital but failed to legalize the free movement of people, Mexican workers migrating outside of their national borders without official permits are criminalized, forced to pass through increasingly militarized borders and are likely to endure vulnerable employment positions once they reach Canada and the U.S. There, they are often denied citizenship rights, leaving them unable to secure labour benefits or protection and making them extremely susceptible to all kinds of abuse. The Canadian, U.S. and Mexican governments’ vision to address "the migration phenomenon" is not about addressing the reality that their free trade agreement results in exploitation and impoverishment that leaves people with little choice but to migrate and accept coercive work situations. Instead, this vision is about freeing the movement of capital while controlling the movement of people.

4. To promote regional competitiveness

When the leaders of the NAFTA countries talk of regional competitiveness they are referring to the notion that free trade amongst Canada, Mexico and U.S. will allow the region to be more competitive in the global market. This, they say, will translate into increased economic growth, more jobs and increased prosperity for all. The reality of competition is quite different. Corporate competition is about accumulating as much wealth as possible by cutting the costs of doing business wherever possible. This inevitably and above all means cutting the costs of labour by driving down wages and attacking workers rights and benefits. Corporate competitiveness is also about "growing or dying". This means that to survive, companies must seek to maximize control over land and resources, behave in environmentally destructive ways and turn everything including the most basic social services and resources like health care and water into commodities for sale. Neoliberal free trade agreements like NAFTA increase corporate access and power. Competition over a greater area means that minimal standards fall and the exploitation of people and the environment becomes even more severe. Wealth increasingly becomes concentrated in the hands of a few while the majority finds it increasingly difficult to meet their most basic needs. Commitments to regional competitiveness lead to increased exploitation, not increased prosperity.

5. To develop regional infrastructure

When leaders of the NAFTA countries talk about developing regional infrastructure they are referring mainly to huge transportation corridors built to serve the needs of capital, not the needs of people. North America’s Super Corridor Coalition (NASCO) has been lobbying the US government for years to build a huge superhighway down through the centre of the North American continent. The corridor consists of I-35, I-29, I-80, I-94 and Manitoba’s Provincial Trunk Highway 75. The planned corridor would be nearly a quarter-mile wide, and would transform the environment with road and rail traffic and oil, gas, electric, and water lines. Building this superhighway is also about developing "intelligent" infrastructure. Such "Intelligent Transportation Systems" would include "advanced traveler information services," "automated credentialing processes," and "safety assurance activities." This technology will increase "trade security" and make the movement of freight along the corridor and across international borders cheaper for businesses. It will also provide the state with an advanced means to monitor and control the movement of people.. A commitment "to develop regional infrastructure" literally paves the road for capital at the expense of people and the environment.

6. To share and adopt government best practices

"Best practices" has become a common phrase in the world of business and, increasingly, government. At first glance, this seems like a good thing. What could be wrong with figuring out the best way to do something and sharing this method with others? The problem is that "best" here isn’t about meeting people’s needs or environmental priorities — it’s about cutting costs regardless of what this means for people. So if it costs a municipal government less to hire a private company to collect garbage than to have city workers do it, that’s the "best practice" — even though this means replacing recently-paid jobs with low-paid jobs and pushing older workers out the door because they can’t work as hard as younger workers. "Sharing and adopting government best practices" results in shrinking the number of government employees (especially unionized workers), increasing their workloads, and having more of them employed in contract, temporary and part-time positions. The drive for "government best practices" in Canada, the US and Mexico is part of restructuring the public sector in ways that are bad for both those who deliver public services (from transit to health care) as well as those who use them.

7. To support education programs

What kind of education systems do neoliberals want to build? When we look around North America, we can see that neoliberal "education reform" is well underway. There are three ways this is happening: Commercialization means more corporate penetration of the education system at all levels. This ranges from corporate teaching resources to deals that give major corporations exclusive rights to sell on university campuses to more corporate sponsorship of research and corporate donations in exchange for status and influence. More user fees (including higher university and college tuition) is another aspect of commercialization. Another avenue for "education reform" is creating more opportunities for students to fail: more standardized tests, more homework, etc.. This stokes up competition among students, and increases the streaming of students towards different parts of the workforce. The third aspect of "education reform" is changing schools to put more emphasis on an "entrepreneurial spirit." Students are to be encouraged to think about marketing themselves from an early age. Certain subjects like engineering, math and computer science are emphasized because they’re seen as increasingly important, while others are neglected (like social studies, literature and art). This is education for the market, not for people.

8. To facilitate and promote security

Since 9-11, the U.S. administration has demanded stricter controls on the movement of people across borders in the name of "national security." The governments of Canada and Mexico want a fully-liberalized trade zone comparable to the European Union. As a result, all three governments are taking steps to build "Fortress North America": a tighter "security perimeter" with increasing cooperation between police and intelligence agencies and "harmonized" border controls. Laws already in place have increased restrictions on cross-border travel for many people (including Muslims, people of colour, and non-citizens) while business persons and other accredited" citizens are getting fasttracked through customs. As part of making it easier for corporations to do business within "Fortress North America," efforts are underway to build a North American "SuperCorridor" that would allow certified containerized goods to be easily shipped across borders. Clearly, after Canada and Mexico implement secure shipping regimes, other countries will then face the same demands for trade "security". But this "certification" is a package deal requiring harmonized intelligence and enforcement agencies that meets the approval of the U.S. state. The walls of "Fortress North America" are intended, from the start, to be portable and ever-expanding.

9. To Promote Cultural Diversity

When most people read "cultural diversity," they think of multiculturalism. But when government officials from Canada talk about promoting cultural diversity within the context of NAFTA, they are referring to their commitment to protecting Canadian cultural products from being pushed out of the market by foreign competitors. To this end, NAFTA contains a clause that exempts cultural products from being subject to the rules of free trade, allowing each member state to protect its own cultural industries. But there is a contradiction in these efforts because these same states are committed to free trade agreements that cultivate a non-diverse "neoliberal free trade market culture". The kind of society that neoliberalism creates isn’t really diverse at all. We’re all pressured to act individualistically, compete with each other, and accept the domination of our lives by market forces. Most of us are forced to spend our lives doing unfulfilling work with little or no control over what we do, just to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. This way of living, this neoliberal culture, is far from a shining example of genuine diversity. Although government officials may pride themselves in promoting diversity in cultural products, their neoliberal agenda imposes a more fundamental kind of cultural conformity.

10. To dignify economic humanism

Mexican President Fox has talked about the need to adopt "active social policies, centered on dignity, freedom and people’s capabilities so that they can take advantage of opportunities, generate assets and step out of the vicious circle of poverty by themselves and permanently." Fox calls this "a new economic humanism." Great words, well spoken, but is this possible within the NAFTA framework which has deepened poverty and deprived people of dignity and freedom? In reality, NAFTA has led to lower real wages for more people, displacing others from the land, a widening gap between the rich and poor and more poverty. The neoliberal economic principles embedded in the NAFTA — the weakening of social and environmental protection, privatization of public services, and increased market liberalization — have successfully paved the path to more poverty. The kind of "deeper integration" slated for discussion at the upcoming 2006 Hemispheria Summit in Winnipeg will only make this worse. Any talk of combining "humanism"—centered on humans, their values, capacities, dignity and worth—with NAFTA-type economics is a contradiction.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Two things largely unknown


U.S., Mexican, and Canadian officials and business leaders used the Hemispheria San Pedro 2005 summit to discuss the accomplishments and problems of NAFTA, which expanded trade throughout the continent, since 1994.

José Natividad González Parás and Bill Richardson, governors of Nuevo León and New Mexico, exhorted their nations to pursue the responsible use of energy, and to promote renewable energy sources. Richardson proposed the creation of the North America Energy Council to track and analyze critical information relating to energy, the environment and trade help resolve regional issues and disputes, and serve as a forum to exchange information and ideas. The council is intended to establish the region as a world energy production and resources, and it would include not only the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, but also energy-rich countries across the Americas, i.e., Venezuela and Brazil.

The Energy and Basic Petrochemicals Chapter of the NAFTA agreement encourages sustained and gradual liberalization of trade in energy in the free trade area. Article 602 declares, “Energy and petrochemical goods and activities shall be governed by the provisions of this Agreement.”

According to the Preliminary Report by the Trade and Economic Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada has been the U.S.’s most important source of energy imports. Undoubtedly, Canada has been the dominant source of Electricity and Natural Gas imports, accounting for 100 percent of U.S. electricity imports and 93.5 percent of natural gas imports. But even for oil, combining crude and non-crude oil, the U.S. imports more from Canada than any other country.


North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition has been lobbying the American government for years to build a huge superhighway down through the centre of the North American continent. The corridor consists of I-35, I-29, I-80, I-94 and Manitoba’s Provincial Trunk Highway 75. The planned corridor would be nearly a quarter-mile wide, include road and rail traffic, and oil, gas, electric, and water lines. Networks of toll roads would function primarily to connect U.S. roads to networks in Mexico, Central and South America, and Canada.

When, from San Pedro, Hemispheria 2005 declared that they will “develop regional infrastructure,” they were referring to the development of the channel for raw material, from land in Canada, to the central economy in the United States.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (DOT) led a stakeholder group (including Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Manitoba) in a study of the feasibility of shared, interoperable Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSs) and Commercial Vehicle Operations (CVOs) along the corridor. Their intended applications include “advanced traveler information services,” “automated credentialing processes,” and “safety assurance activities.” This NASCO-facilitated project developed the technical approach and business plan to implement these technologies, in part to enhance freight movements along the corridor and across international borders, and in part to manipulate migration.

The Iowa DOT has received similar federal funding to examine and field-test the “intelligent infrastructure” (hardware and software) needed to realize the ITS/CVO applications.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Paste the following message into a new email composition

Subject: Action needed on a national park for the Manitoba Lowlands

Dear Honourable Ministers, and Honourable Premier,

I am writing to you with regards to the proposed new national park in Manitoba. National parks are vitally important to people in Canada. The proposed national park in the Manitoba Lowlands would be a really spectacular addition to the network of Canadian parks. I understand that this park has been in the planning stage for over thirteen years, and that it is not close to being finished. I strongly support the creation of this new national park, and I will watch its development closely.

The new park will be the third national park established in Manitoba. This park ought to be established with the full cooperation of First Nations and local communities. The boundaries ought to be set so as to truly represent the Manitoba Lowlands ecology. The park ought to be large enough to allow for natural processes and ecological integrity to endure. With one exception, your government's most recent proposal meets these requirements (and I commend you for that). The missing piece is Little Limestone Lake. It is one of the most beautiful lakes in Manitoba. It has unique features that set it apart from any other lake in the country. Little Limestone Lake really ought to be part of the new park.

In March 2004, the Government of Canada signed an agreement with the Province of Manitoba, committing both governments to establish a national park in the Manitoba Lowlands by May 2005. This promise has not been kept. It is not too late. Create a great new national park. Leave a lasting legacy for the future.

I look forward to your response. Please indicate what steps you will take to ensure the establishment of a national park, with the most carefully considered ecological boundaries.


[insert your name here]

Monday, November 14, 2005

Copy + paste

To: The Federal Minister of Agriculture, The Honorable Mr. Andy Mitchell,

Monsanto has applied to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to register a genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa in Canada.

I object to the introduction of plants carrying genes from other species without extremely thorough study. I also strongly disagree with this proposed introduction because of the damage it may do to markets for Canadian organic products.

Please thoroughly study environmental damage, and take take possible market damage into account, before you consider introduction of Roundup Ready alfalfa, as well as the introduction of other GM crops.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Green green water

Green green water is a documentary film about hydroelectric power and its impact on the lives of thousands of Aboriginal people in northern Manitoba. Filmmaker Dawn Mikkelson, collaborating with Métis-Ojibway filmmaker, James M. Fortier, travels to Manitoba to tell the story of several Cree communities whose lives have been forever altered by hydroelectric dams. In the beginning, Mikkelson hoped that by drawing attention to this situation, the Cree would receive more equitable financial compensation for their pain, but is money enough to remedy the destruction of a culture, a way of life, and a community's dignity?

"This is a story about power... power from hydroelectric dams... the power to destroy an ancient culture... the power of big money... the power of Indigenous people who refuse to be powerless in their struggle to survive... and the power of activism."

Visit the green green water documentary film site
View the green green water Video Log (Vlog)
View the 12-minute trailer for green green water

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

From the Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee : Canada.

20. The Committee is concerned about information that the police, in particular in Montreal, have resorted to large-scale arrests of demonstrators. It notes the State party's responses that none of the arrests in Montreal have been arbitrary since they were conducted on a legal basis. The Committee, however, recalls that arbitrary detention can also occur when the deprivation of liberty results from the exercise of the rights or freedoms guaranteed by the Covenant, in particular under articles 19 and 21. (articles 9, 19, 21, 26)

The State party should ensure that the right of persons to peacefully participate in social protests is respected, and ensure that only those committing criminal offences during demonstrations are arrested. The Committee also invites the State party to conduct an inquiry into the practices of the Montreal police forces during demonstrations, and wishes to receive more detailed about the practical implementation of article 63 of the Criminal code relating to unlawful assembly.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The charges against me were dropped

A United Nations committee has harshly criticized the way Montreal police crack down on protesters at demonstrations. The report, released by the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, cites the Montreal force's tendency to arrest large numbers of people at demonstrations. According to the report, the tactic often leads to the arrest of innocent bystanders and people who have the right to express dissent. The report says Montreal police "should ensure that the rights of persons to peacefully participate in social protests are respected and ensure that only those committing criminal offences during demonstrations are arrested." Close to 2,000 protesters have been arrested by Montreal police since 1999, more than any other Canadian city, the UN human rights committee says. The report notes that at a G8 protest in 2002, 350 people were arrested. All of them were found not guilty. The report also points out that at a demonstration against the World Trade Organization in 2003, 243 people were arrested, only to have every charge dropped 18 months later. The report recommends that an inquiry be established look into how the force deals with demonstrators. A police spokesperson told local television reporters that the force was "looking into" the report.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Civic Environment Committee

Please write to the Mayor and councillors at city hall to show your support for the Civic Environment Committee.

You will find Winnipeg councillors addresses here:

You can send a message directly to the mayor of Winnipeg here:

Just click on "Mayor's Mailbox."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I cut these sentences out of an email message:

  • This is Healing Tree, just back yesterday from a month in New Orleans.
  • I'm climbing in it tonight (october 31st) and it is threatened to be cut as of November 1st.
  • I'm already in trouble with the company and am facing serious charges if I get arrested.
  • There are pictures of the tree and a short film on it at:
  • Click on "largest treesit ever".

Friday, October 28, 2005


Dear Rosann Wowchuk,

I am deeply concerned that Terminator technology (Genetic Use Restriction Technology or GURTS) is being actively developed and promoted by corporations and that the United Nations de facto moratorium on Terminator at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is not strong enough to stop this dangerous technology. I am writing to urge you to establish a national ban on Terminator technology, and to support an international ban on Terminator at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

People all over the world condemn Terminator technology - gene sterilization technology – because of its serious potential impacts for farmers, Indigenous peoples, food security and biodiversity. The technology has no benefits for farmers. Instead, biotechnologists design Terminator to maximize industry profits by preventing farmers from saving and re-using harvested seed. The technology threatens the livelihoods of over 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seeds as their primary seed source.

Seed and biotechnology corporations are promoting the false argument that Terminator could be used to stop unwanted genetic pollution from industry’s genetically modified crops. However, genetic use restriction technology is too complex and unreliable to prevent the movement of genes. Additionally, if commercialized under the guise of a “biosafety” tool to prevent gene flow, Terminator genes would introduce new hazards since they can spread to neighbouring crops via pollen in the first generation. The spreading of sterile genes could result in ecological catastrophe. Furthermore, farmers who save the seeds of contaminated varieties for replanting may find that some of their seeds do not germinate, potentially translating into significant yield losses.

I urge your government to propose and support a strong recommendation prohibiting the field testing and commercialization of Terminator technology when the CBD’s Working Group on Article 8(j) meets January 23-27 in Granada Spain, and when the 8th Conference of the Parties meets in March 20-31 in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil.

I ask for your support to insure that Canada will disapprove the use of Terminator seeds. I urge you to work towards establishing a national ban on Terminator. I also urge our government delegation attending the March 2006 meeting of the 8th Conference of the Parties to the CBD to support an international ban on Terminator.

I look forward to hearing from you. Please take these steps to prohibit Terminator in order to protect farmer livelihoods, biodiversity and food security in Canada.


[insert your name and address here]

Click on this:

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Ban Terminator Campaign

Greenpeace and the Ban Terminator Campaign revealed today that new patents have been granted in both Canada and Europe for a Terminator technology owned jointly by US seed corporation Delta and Pine Land and the United States Department of Agriculture.

The patents were granted on October 11, 2005 and October 5, 2005, respectively. The move confirms the greatest fears of farmers, Indigenous peoples groups, and social movements around the world that Terminator technology is once again being pushed towards commercialization.

Terminator seeds are genetically engineered to be sterile after first harvest so farmers cannot use the seed in the next season. It would force farmers to buy seed every year; and would also concentrate even more power in the hands of major biotechnology and seed corporations. Intensive global uproar has kept the technology from being field-tested or commercialized, but companies are now pushing for acceptance.

“These new patents confirm that corporations are once again actively pursuing Terminator seeds and an international ban on Terminator is urgently needed,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the new global Ban Terminator Campaign.

New fears that governments and corporations are working together to push Terminator were first confirmed in February 2005 when the Canadian government shocked the world by trying to overturn the international de facto moratorium on Terminator that exists at the United Nations under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Uproar from Canadian and international groups kept the moratorium alive. To address this crisis, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and other Canadian-based groups, including ETC Group, Inter Pres and USC Canada, initiated a global Ban Terminator Campaign (

“The Canadian government must immediately stop promoting corporate Terminator seeds and protect the rights of farmers by banning the technology,” said Terry Boehm, Vice-President of the NFU. “Terminator is a great threat to farmers in developed and developing countries. The
Canadian government should be ashamed to be associated with this technology. Terminator is an attempt to achieve biologically what the government has been unable to do legislatively.”

“Corporate control of seeds is the only goal of Terminator,” said Eric Darier, Greenpeace Canada campaigner. “The corporate attempt to greenwash Terminator by saying it can help prevent genetic contamination is false as the technology itself is not 100% reliable, and it can nevertheless contaminate the environment and threaten biodiversity. This is an outrageous strategy to commercialize a dangerous, anti-farmer and non-ecological technology. Patents on Terminator can and must be denied for the public good.”

The Ban Terminator Campaign is urging governments around the world to establish national bans on Terminator and to ban Terminator at the major meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, March 20-31, 2006 in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil.

Friday, October 21, 2005

George W. Bush may face charges in Canada for torture

Lawyers Against the War (LAW) is claiming a victory in its battle to have George W. Bush face charges in Canada for torture.

The charges stem from the notorious cases of torture practiced by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. They were laid on the occasion of George W. Bush’s controversial visit to Canada in November 2004. The charges were laid under sections of the Canadian Criminal Code enacted pursuant to the United Nations Torture Convention which requires extra-territorial jurisdiction to be exercised against officials, even Heads of State, who authorize or are otherwise responsible for torture.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of BC quashed an order banning publication of everything having to do with the charges imposed when they were first laid. In a secret hearing, held December 6th 2004 in B.C. Provincial Court, the charges against Bush were rejected on the basis of arguments by the Attorney General of British Columbia that the visiting president was shielded from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. A ban on publication of anything to do with the proceedings was also imposed.

The secrecy, the immunity claim, and the ban are vigorously opposed by LAW, who appealed all aspects of the decision.

On Monday, Justice Satanove of the Supreme Court of British Columbia quashed the ban on publication after government lawyers failed to come up with any argument to defend it. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association had intervened on the side of LAW against the ban.

“This is a very important victory”, said Gail Davidson, who laid the charges and, along with Howard Rubin, argued the case for LAW, “because it ensures that the proceedings will be scrutinized by people in Canada and throughout the world, to make sure that the law is applied fairly and properly and, above all, to make sure that Bush doesn’t get away with torture.”

“The American legal system seems incapable of bringing him to justice and there are no international courts with jurisdiction. So it’s up to Canada to enforce the law that everybody has signed on to but nobody else seems willing to apply.”

The next hearing in the case will take place on November 25th 2005, at 10:00 a.m. at the B.C. Supreme Court, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C., when government lawyers have said they will argue that the case is no longer “moot” because the Attorney General of Canada has not yet consented to the prosecution. Toronto law professor Michael Mandel, co-chair of LAW, calls this argument bogus: “He’s still guilty of torture, he’s still on the loose and we still have our obligations under the UN Convention to bring torturers to justice.”

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Re: Stop Destructive Dragging at Home and on the High Seas

The Right Honourable Paul Martin, P.M.
House of Commons
Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister:

I am writing to urge you to put your strong words into action and stop the rape of the world's oceans.

It has come to my attention that Canada has a historic opportunity to take leadership at the United Nations and support a moratorium on high seas dragging this November. On both the east and west coast of Canada, there is increasing evidence of the destruction of sensitive ecosystems by dragging, which is in great need of your attention.

The worldwide scientific evidence that dragging is by far the most destructive fishing method can no longer be ignored by the Canadian government. With this in mind I ask you to acknowledge dragging as the most destructive fishing method, and take urgent concrete measures to restrict dragging activities both at home and on the high seas. Specifically,
  1. Support the U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on high seas trawling.
  2. Protect sensitive ecosystems from dragging and effect a transition to more sustainable gear types within Canadian waters.
This issue requires your leadership both at the United Nations, and within our domestic waters. I ask you to move from words to action.

[your name and address]

The open letter to Trish Jordan and Monsanto

Dear Ms. Jordan,

Glyphosate-based herbicides are important tools for many farmers, so any information about potential problems is important. All research is of interest. On September 29, 2005, the Western Producer reported on a study conducted by publicly-funded Agriculture Canada researchers that found a link between glyphosate herbicides and a costly plant disease called fusarium. The Agriculture Canada study concludes that "previous glyphosate formulation application was the only crop production factor that was significantly associated with higher fusarium head blight levels every year of the study" and that there was "statistically significant and consistent association between previous glyphosate formulation application and fusarium head blight development in spring wheat throughout our 4-year study conducted in producers' fields." Despite calls from Agriculture Canada scientists for more research on the issue, you make the claim, in that same Western Producer article, that there is no need for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to take any further action and no need for further research. You go on to make the following statement: "They [The National Farmers Union] can throw out this study and we can probably throw 50 others back." The purpose of this letter is to issue a public challenge to you and your employer to "throw 50 others back." You have made this statement, which would lead readers to think that there are 50 other studies on the issue. OK. Let's see them. If you do not place "50 other studies" on the table in the next couple of weeks, then readers everywhere will be forced to conclude that your "studies" are no more than a figment of your own imagination designed to mislead the government and the public. You have made a statement regarding scientific fact; this is your chance to back it up.

Yours truly,
Terry Boehm
Vice-President National Farmers Union

Friday, October 14, 2005


Not the bomb-in-the-pocket stuff, which is terrorism, whatever name it tires to dignify itself with; not the social-Darwinist economic "libertarianism" of the far right; but anarchism, as prefigured in early Taoist thought, and expounded by Shelley and Kropotkin, Goldman and Goodman. Anarchism's principal target is the authoritarian State (capitalist or socialist), its principal moral-practical theme is co-operation (solidarity, mutual aid). It is the most idealistic, and to me the most interesting, of all political theories.
- Ursula K. Le Guin

What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice.
- from Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Day Before the Revolution"

Monday, October 10, 2005

Glyphosate and fusarium

An article by several Saskatchewan crop scientists in the latest issue of a scholarly journal proves there is a clear correlation between the application of glyphosate herbicides and increased incidence of fusarium head blight in wheat.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) says this research suggests glyphosate-resistant crops are therefore contributing to the spread of a disease which is costing western Canadian farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost yields and markets.

NFU President Stewart Wells issued a letter to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Pesident François Guimont earlier this week calling on the CFIA to "immediately stop approvals of additional glyphosate-resistant cultivars, including glyphosate-resistant alfalfa, and re-evaluate the approval of glyphosate-resistant varieties currently on the market until all the fusarium links are clearly understood."

The article, entitled "Crop Production Factors Associated with Fusarium Head Blight in Spring Wheat in Eastern Saskatchewan" was published in Crop Science, the journal of the Crop Science Society of America, on August 26, 2005. The research was conducted between 1999 and 2002 and involved samples from 659 crops. Information on agronomic practices used in these fields was also factored into the calculations.

Wells said the NFU was first alerted to the potential link between glyphosate-resistant crops and the increased incidence of fusarium in 2003 by the scientists at the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Swift Current. Since June, 2003, the NFU has repeatedly asked the CFIA to investigate this correlation, but the CFIA has evaded the issue.

"Over the past two years, and as the evidence of a glyphosate herbicide/fusarium link has mounted, the CFIA has adopted a moving target for the burden of proof," stated Wells. "Initially, the CFIA said there was no research on this issue. Then, the CFIA stated it was not aware of any published research. Finally, the CFIA said it was not aware of any peer-reviewed research"

The publication of the research in the most prestigious Crop Science journal in North America meets all these criteria, he stated. "This is another example of the tremendous contribution of Canada's public researchers," concluded Wells. "It is very likely that more research on this subject could save Canadian farmers hundreds of millions of dollars, and on a global scale the benefit would climb into the billions of dollars."

Friday, October 07, 2005


Re: WTO Challenge

Dear Trade Minister Jim Peterson,

Within the next month, a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel is scheduled to rule on the European Union's moratorium on the import of genetically engineered foods. I strongly condemn the Canadian government's decision to support the United States' challenge of the European Union's moratorium. Canada must relinquish its involvement in this shameful partnership with the United States and actively work to ensure that the WTO panel ruling respects EU policy.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Email message #1


Dear Sir,

I am writing to inform you that I am aware of Ascendant Exploration's actions in Intag, Ecuador and that I support the resistance to mining there.

I am aware of the multiple techniques that are being used to try and break this resistance. They include:

  • mail theft

  • the interruption and monitoring of phone and email services

  • a campaign of disinformation and lies against community leaders and organizations

  • intimidation, including armed guards, death threats, and violence against property

  • political corruption, illegal land claims, and illegal concessions.

I am also aware of the false and malicious libel suits that have been proposed against Periodico Intag in reaction to their attempts to educate the Intag community and also against Polibio Perez and Jose Serrano. I request Ascendant Exploration terminate these unfounded libel suits. I protest your appointment of General Cesar Bolivar Villaics to your board as "Community Relations and Political Liason." General Villaics has a past history widely denounced by the Ecuadorian human rights community. His threatening posture at community meetings causes me grave concern for the safety of the people of Intag, and shows Ascendant Exploration's willingness to use violence to break community resistance. Such willingness was demonstrated on Saturday, November 13th when a pair of bodyguards assaulted anti-mining activists and destroyed their property (photographic equipment) in Garcia Moreno during a speech by General Villaics.

Community resistance to mining is much larger than you may think. An active solidarity campaign in the United States and Asia is underway. It seeks to expose the actions of Ascendant Exploration to the investor community, such as the Toronto Stock Exchange, as well as those mining companies Ascendant Exploration hopes to sell its concessions to. Additionally, this campaign is committed to the defense of the rights of the people of Intag against the unethical actions of Ascendant Exploration. I pledge my support to the people of Intag to hold you and your company accountable for your actions.

I request that Ascendant Exploration terminate its business activities in Intag before you inflict further harm upon the honorable and hardworking members of the Intag community.

In Solidarity with the people of Intag,

Email Message #2


The Honourable Pierre Pettigrew
Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0G2

The Honourable R. John Efford
Minister of Natural Resources Canada
Natural Resources Canada
580 Booth Street, 21st Floor, Rm: C7-1
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0E4

The Honourable David L Emerson
Minister, Industry Canada
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0H5

Dear Honourable Minister,

I am writing to urge you to adopt the recommendations contained in the Fourteenth Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and to take action around a number of urgent cases involving Canadian mining companies operating abroad. I am deeply concerned about the social and environmental impacts of Canadian mining companies overseas and I find it disturbing that the Government of Canada has thus far failed to take meaningful action to address this obvious problem. The above-mentioned Parliamentary report provides you with an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on this important issue.

In late June, the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade adopted a report stating that they were “concerned that Canada does not yet have laws to ensure that the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries conform to human rights standards, including the rights of workers and of indigenous peoples.” The report argues that “more must be done to ensure that Canadian companies… conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner and in conformity with international human rights standards.” Among other things, the report urges the Government of Canada to:

* Condition Canadian support “on companies meeting clearly defined corporate social responsibility and human rights standards...”

* “Establish clear legal norms in Canada to ensure that Canadian companies and residents are held accountable when there is evidence of environmental and/or human rights violations associated with the activities of Canadian mining companies.” And;

* “Work with like-minded countries to integrate and mainstream international human rights standards in the work of international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank…”

The Standing Committee has requested “a comprehensive government response to this Report” and it is my understanding that the Government is currently deciding how to proceed. I am writing to express my support for the recommendations outlined in the report. I want to urge you to ensure that these recommendations are adopted by the Government of Canada and I would like you to please provide me with information outlining the steps that you are personally taking to ensure that this occurs.

The committee’s report also calls on the Government to “conduct an investigation of any impact of TVI Pacific’s Canatuan mining project in Mindanao on the indigenous rights and human rights of people in the area and on the environment, and table a report on this investigation in Parliament within 90 days.” I support this recommendation and I believe that the Government should also call on TVI to suspend all activities pending the outcome of this investigation. I also strongly believe that the Government should launch investigations into the activities of Ascendant Copper Corporation’s Junin project in Ecuador and Glamis Gold’s Marlin Mine in Guatemala, and call on these companies to suspend their activities pending the outcome of the Government’s investigation. I would like you to please provide me with information on what your office is doing to ensure that the problems associated with these projects are addressed.

Finally, I am appalled that the World Bank and other international financial institutions have not yet made clear and binding commitments to uphold international human rights standards. Please provide me with information on what you are doing to ensure that these institutions are no longer able to ignore international law.

As you know, more money is raised for the global mining industry in Canada than in any other country in the world and more than half of the world’s mining companies list their shares on Canadian capital markets. Canada has a responsibility to develop mechanisms to hold these companies accountable for their actions overseas. This is a responsibility that the Government of Canada has failed to embrace. I hope that the above-mentioned Parliamentary report will prove to be an opportunity to address this glaring and damaging failure.

Thank you,

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

How to

For the following post, I've adapted an action plan for a real organic farm near Guelph, Ontario. While reading this post, I encourage you to consider your own neighbourhoods for the processes. Here goes:

1. Complete an Ecological Impact Assessment.

2. Organise the existing residents of [your neighbourhood], the community garden renters group (not the Community Shared Agriculture group, yet), and workshop site, to not only co-operatively grow food, but to make and repair things, share tools, exchange surpluses, spend some leisure time, and hold meetings. Work co-operatively and share crops as a team.
a. Initiate resident-controlled co-housing co-operative to ensure permanent affordability of housing on site.
b. Hire professionals: facilitator and a retrofitter

3. a. Option 1. Small-scale poultry and possibly aquaculture (possibly referring to Ireland, S. 1997) production collective. This collective could collect and trade useful waste for the whole co-operative to use.
Option 2. Initiate small-scale on-site textile project (Darroll, 2002).
b. Possibly integrate the on-site bakery as a second collective. (A bakery will be necessary.)
c. "Gleaning" operation whereby people living in the area, i.e., organic farmers, give permission for some of their surplus to be harvested by the co-operative group.

4. Integrate the Community Shared Agriculture at this point. This phase may initiate the redistribution of surpluses to [your city]-based food bank, mental health institution, etc.

5. Encourage low-income, unemployed, aged and disadvantaged people to become involved in the community garden and workshop co-operative (to provide the things they need) including company and activity. Organise recycling and renovation of furniture, toys, clothing, building materials and compostable material.
a. It may be appropriate at this stage to initiate the Common Hall, or Common House, where people could engage in craft-making and shared meals.
b. Kiloh (1995) suggests that the single-parent family is perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the closer (ecovillage) community.

6. Analysis of export and import dependence. What products are being "imported" that could reasonably be produced on site? What collectives might be set up to produce locally the things needed?

7. The ecovillage will include the group of co-operative members who are participating in the localized, small-scale, zero-growth economy at this stage.

8. Permacultural edible landscape development: good water catchments, sewage recycling, home gardens, community gardens, and especially many trees to produce fuel, timber, food, and craft materials (Hu 1998)
a. Smaller fruit trees are used on the south side of houses where they are most protected and can provide shading of windows in the summer.
b. Species chosen either for their food production capabilities or for their appropriateness as 'native' species.

9. People can work for each other and trade without money, possibility of a LET System at this stage. It is critical to the development of a sustainable small-scale economy, that currency and firms do not become part of the economic model. Even small firms could result in unemployment.

10. Establish non-market exchanges of locally produced basic necessities.

11. Consider what collectives might be set up to provide mutual services on a non-profit basis. Consider local energy production, food production, child minding.

12. What collective activities can be organized to provide for the ecovillage some of the goods and services it needs? Can some energy sources, e.g., biogas, be built and maintained? Are monthly "ecovillage improvement" work days a possibility? Do not raise money to hire a contractor, these jobs can be done by the ecovillage co-operative members.

13. Emphasize the importance of living simply, making things yourself, having home gardens, repairing and reusing. Encourage more household production, e.g., bottling and sewing.

14. One of the collectives could study ways of reducing living costs at this stage, e.g., alternative energy sources such as solar panels, regular energy audits and retrofits, a green building code, wind energy, and/or low energy lighting and appliances, and structural rehabilitation and reuse such as domestic hot water preheat, solar hot water, heat recovery ventilation, recycled heat exchange, and/or rooftop gardening.

15. Develop craft collectives to increase local production of many items. Organise classes, skill sharing, display days, local sources of material for pottery, basket making, weaving, etc.

16. One collective could focus on the possibilities for providing local and cheap entertainment. Concentrate on drawing local talent to these activities.

17. Set up a work co-ordination committee to grapple with the problem of ensuring that all who need some work and some cash income have access to these. Does the study of the ecovillage's imports indicate new collectives that could be set up? Help people live more simply.

18. Give high priority to the need for continuing education, for increasing and maintaining understanding and commitment to the ecovillage. Explain to local people the purpose of the project, reasons why it is important to pioneer a path others can take toward a sustainable world order.

19. Work out procedures for unifying and co-ordinating the ecovillage. There should be a forum or mechanism whereby people can keep in mind the overall pattern of ecovillage development and evaluate particular ideas in relation to a vision statement. It is not ideal if many different groups go their own seperate ways trying to do things that are not carefully integrated into the overall strategy. Scarce resources are best focused on selected tasks with all clearly aware of how it fits into the basic vision. It is most important to get to the stage where the whole ecovillage consciously and deliberately takes control of its own development and determines to work hard at the process.

20. There must be much careful, critical and altruistic thought analysing the ecovillage's functioning and needs. Aim to have eventually developed a climate of solidarity and citizenship and clear awareness that the people of the ecovillage will willingly and constantly devote energy to keeping the ecovillage's community, economy, culture, and ecology in good shape.

21. It is crucial that the ecovillagers understand that their community will not survive unless they make considerable effort to support it, by making voluntary contributions to working bees and projects.

22. It is most important to understand from the start the goal is not to find an alternative path to conventional affluence for the ecovillage. Living standards in dollar terms will certainly fall. The goal is to provide sufficient and satisfactory standards to build community and solidarity, and above all ensure that the ecovillage can survive and is secure in the knowledge that it can control its own fate and continue to produce for itself most things it needs, regardless of what happens on national and international economies.

Referenced Material

Hu, D. and R. Wang. 1998. Exploring eco-construction for local sustainability: an eco-village case study in China. Ecological Engineering 11(1-4): 167-176
Ireland, S. 1997. Aquaculture: the Chan way. Western Fisheries: 33-35
Kiloh, G. 1995. Armour Park eco-village prairie settlement for a sustainable future (Saskatchewan). The University of Manitoba. 141 pp
Trainer, T. 2000. Where are we, where do we want to be, how do we get there? Democracy and Nature 6(2): 267-286

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Cottage plan threatens sacred site: natives

By Carol Sanders

A proposal to develop cottage lots on Crown land on the Winnipeg River has neighbours and some members of the aboriginal community up in arms.

The area near Silver Falls is home to age-old rock placements or petroforms considered sacred in aboriginal culture, said area resident John Markert. The regional advisor to the province's historic resources branch said the planning district and the province have ignored petitions and letters expressing concern about the development of close to 30 cottage lots southeast of Pine Falls.

"It'd be just like if the government decided to build on a site of a church and not ask the congregation, and all of a sudden the congregation sees their place of prayer damaged," said Caroline Bruyere, a Sagkeeng First Nation member.

Native elders have toured the site and written to the province vouching for its historic and religious significance, said Markert. The petroforms were usually placed in remote areas and serve as reminders of the aboriginal teachings given to the first people by the Creator.

Elder Don Cardinal said the Silver Falls rock formations are part of a much larger petroform that has great historical and spiritual significance, and should be left as it is.

Bruyere said she hopes the province takes the elders' opinions seriously.

"It's part of my cultural history, part of my faith," Bruyere said. "They should have the same concern and respect."

Conservation Minister Stan Struthers said that the cottage lots won't be developed if it's found to be a sacred site. He encouraged people with concerns about the development to attend a meeting in the RM of Alexander on Oct. 5.

Markert said other historical sites along the Winnipeg River have been destroyed by development and the province has an opportunity in this case to preserve a significant one.

"That was our highway," said Bruyere. "There were certain stops where you'd do ceremonies for your travel, for your well-being and for a good hunting season and a good fishing season," she said.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I am emailing you because people in Canada ought to have a choice between conventionally- and organically-grown food. To provide this choice, Canada must provide a place for organic crops to grow, free from genetic contamination. Prince Edward Island is the ideal place for this purpose.
Please ban genetically engineered crops on Prince Edward Island, eliminate genetically altered animal feeds, ban genetically engineered fish, institute mandatory GMO labelling, adopt policies to foster ecologically and socially sustainable agriculture, especially perennial polycultures, publicize the GE-Free Zone, and encourage other governments to follow suit.
The proclamation of a GE-Free Zone by your government would protect and revitalize PEI agriculture, by meeting the growing demand for non-genetically engineered food. In effect, you are enabling PEI to find a niche in world markets. In this regard, the European market, which represents annual sales of over 1.6 billion Canadian dollars, offers a particularly relevant example: over 80% of the major food retailers and processors have introduced policies favourable to GE-free products. This market represents a very real commercial potential for PEI farmers.
[name and address]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Devils Lake outlet shut until spring?

By Mia Rabson and Paul Samyn

The controversial Devils Lake outlet operated for only 10 days before it was shut by pollution concerns, it was learned yesterday.

The Manitoba government was elated to hear high sulphate levels forced North Dakota to turn off the taps, possibly until next year.

North Dakota reported yesterday the outlet that opened Aug. 15 was closed because sulphate concentrations on the Sheyenne River upstream of the outlet exceeded the allowable limit.

Unless the Devils Lake area is hit by heavy rains this fall, it is unlikely the outlet will be turned on again before the spring, which Manitoba says gives the province more time to improve the filter protecting Manitoba from the contents of the lake.

"This is certainly a positive development," said Water Stewardship Minister Steve Ashton.

The Devils Lake outlet is designed to drain 50 cubic feet of water per second into the Sheyenne River, which flows east into the Red River. The Red then carries the water north to Lake Winnipeg.

Manitoba has long feared Devils Lake contains organisms that are foreign and possibly harmful to Manitoba waters. There have also been fears about excess pollution.

Water from the lake was expected to reach the Manitoba border sometime this week, although provincial officials say it may be hard to discern when that actually happens because the water will be heavily diluted. It isn't expected to reach Lake Winnipeg until at least late next week.

North Dakota state engineer Dale Frink said that 10 days after the outlet began operating, sulphate levels on the Sheyenne River upstream of the outlet exceeded 390 milligrams per litre, forcing the state to close the outlet's gate.

The health permit allowing the Devils Lake outlet to be opened prohibits operation when sulphate levels on the Sheyenne River exceed 300 milligrams per litre of water.

Frink blamed the high concentrations of sulphate on the low water flows on the Sheyenne. He said he believes the sulphate is coming from groundwater runoff.

"In the fall, the flow in the Sheyenne drops off significantly," said Frink. "We think that's the reason the sulphate levels are so high."

Environment Canada spokesman Kevin Cash said the jump in sulphate levels when the Sheyenne River's flows are low was entirely predictable. He said it was also expected that would impact on the outlet's operations.

But Cash said the increase in the sulphate level will not result in a breach of the Boundary Waters Treaty, as it is not a sufficient amount to cause harm to Canadian waterways.

"The volume of the water coming out of Devils Lake is unlikely to result in any violation of the sulphate guidelines by the time it reaches the international boundary," said Cash.

Sulphate is an inorganic substance that occurs naturally in water, and is particularly prevalent in ground water. High levels of sulphate in drinking water usually cause a foul taste and odour and have been linked to gastrointestinal problems such as severe diarrhea.

U.S. federal regulations require drinking water to contain no more than 250 milligrams of sulphate per litre of water.

Dwight Williamson, director of water science and management for Manitoba Water Stewardship, said the high levels of sulphate on the Sheyenne are not expected to pose any problems in Manitoba.

Williamson said the International Joint Commission, which oversees boundary water issues between the U.S. and Canada, set a limit of 250 mg of sulphate per litre of water on any body of water as it crosses into either country.

Williamson said once the Sheyenne hits the Red River, the sulphate will be diluted in the higher flows in the Red. He added it has been a very rare occurrence to see the sulphate level on the Red River at Emerson exceed the 250 mg limit.

"Once the Sheyenne mixes with the Red River, the levels (of sulphate) will go down," he said. "Even at 300 mg it is unlikely to exceed the IJC limit at the border."

Williamson said sulphate would only affect aquatic species at extremely high levels.

Frink noted the outlet itself did not cause the increased level on the Sheyenne, but because it would increase sulphate levels slightly, it can't operate when the river is already over its limit.

Manitoba will test the water on this side of the border, but the results won't be relevant until Manitoba can tell whether the Devils Lake water has arrived in our neck of the woods, officials have said.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A call to action

From November 28th to December 9th representatives from 150 or more nations will be meeting at a Climate Conference in Montreal, Canada. The vast majority of those present will be signers of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. They will be discussing the latest developments with this deepening world crisis and what should be done about it. The representatives of the United States government, however, will be present working behind the scenes to try to block any positive action.

This is the role they have played for several years. We are outraged that our government has taken this obstructionist approach to one of, if not the, most critical and urgent issues of our time.

Powerful dirty energy corporations like Exxon/Mobil are calling the shots on U.S. energy policy. Resources and lives are being wasted in a tragic war instead of going into energy conservation and development of clean, safe energy that would end our reliance on Middle East oil while generating millions of new jobs. We must stand up and take action now! This fall let's mobilize a
nationwide, grassroots education and action campaign leading up to mass demonstrations in Montreal and throughout the U.S. on Saturday, December 3rd. (Especially if you are an American) help gather signatures for the Peoples Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty, which will be presented in Montreal. Join Climate Crisis USA and join the world as we call for:

  • U.S.A., Join the World by Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol
  • Support and Export Clean, Safe, Non-Nuclear Energy Alternatives
  • End Government Subsidies for Oil and Coal Corporations
  • Dramatically Strengthen Energy Conservation and Fuel Efficiency Standards
  • A Just Transition for Workers, Indigenous and Other Communities Affected by a Change to Clean Energy
  • Defend the World's Forests; Support Community-Run Tree Planting Campaigns
This organizing campaign in the United States is part of an international effort. A call has been issued and organizing is underway for demonstrations on December 3rd in many other countries around the world. Leading up to December 3rd local groups, e.g., Canadian groups, can organize house parties, forums, teach-ins, conferences or town meetings.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Two things today


Re: 72-Day Hunger strike of Mohammad Mahjoub

Dear Mr. McGuinty,

I am writing to urge you to take immediate action to meet the legitimate demands of Mohammad Mahjoub, who has been detained without trial in an Ontario prison for over five years and is now on Day 72 of a hunger strike (Sept. 16) to demand minimally decent conditions of detention. His main demands include proper medical treatment for the Hepatitis C he contracted at the jail (a prescribed liver biopsy has been denied), proper medical care for as knee injury sustained at the jail, filling a long-neglected prescription for eyeglasses, and touch visits with his young children once a month.Given that Mr. Mahjoub is not hooked up to any medical monitoring devices, there is a real danger that his blood pressure may take a sudden drop and send him into a coma without anyone knowing before it is too late. Mr. Mahjoub has requested that he be hospitalized given his extremely weak, and painful state. He also needs authorized individuals from your government to meet with him, his family, and his legal representatives to negotiate a solution to this crisis.

Mr. Mahjoub has requested that you or someone from your government immediately contact his authorized representative and friend, Matthew Behrens, at (416) 651-5800 or, to arrange an emergency meeting to include Mona Elfouli, who is married to Mahjoub, to reach a just and humane solution.So far, there has been no response from Monte Kwinter, whose portfolio includes responsibility for detainees in provincial detention centres, and time is running out on Mr. Mahjoub.

Although Mr. Mahjoub is a federal detainee, he is within your jurisdiction in a provincial jail, and it is therefore your responsibility to respond to this crisis.Montreal-based medical professionals have stated, in a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin, that Mahjoub is at imminent risk of permanent, severe impairment, and very possibly, of death.

By way of comparison: in 1981, Bobby Sands and 9 other IRA prisoners on hunger strike died after periods varying from 46 to 73 days after sustaining severe organ damage (e.g., blindness). Several survivors of the strike remained permanently handicapped. In 1996, many Kurdish hunger strikers in Turkey died after periods of 65 to 69 days.

Please intervene immediately to try to find a humane solution to this situation. You have the power, and therefore the moral responsibility, to resolve this crisis.Surely it is not too much to ask for a monthly contact visit with two small children and for proper medical care.

As Canadians, we pride ourselves on respecting basic human rights. Please remain true to this fundamental value. Should Mohammad Mahjoub die or be permanently handicapped, it would be to our lasting shame and dishonour as Canadians and as members of the human family.

I look forward to your prompt response to my letter and to positive action to resolve this crisis.



University spokesman John Danakas would not say what restrictions the university would place on how the video is screened, because those details have not yet been discussed with the researchers. That's 3 years after the film, which the the University of Manitoba is worried might offend Monsanto, was made. That needs to be set in the context of just how far some Canadian universities allow their staff to go in operating as propagandists for the biotech industry. A situation which has lead one Canadian academic to comment, "what some are doing today under the umbrella of academic freedom is actually not far removed from the proclamations of Orwell's Ministry of Truth." Such academic propagandists, of course, can attract significant industry funding. Witness the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph which has attracted funding from Monsanto, DuPont, Eli Lilly, Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred, ConAgra, McCain, McDonald's, Nestle, Ag-West Biotech, Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., Southern Crop Protection Association, Pharmacia, AgCare, the (biotech industry funded) Council for Biotechnology Information, etc., etc.

Researchers say University of Manitoba blocked video on GM crops
by Helen Fallding

Stephane McLachlan, an environment professor at the University of Manitoba, and his PhD student Ian Mauro, were cited as accusing the university of blocking the release of their video exploring the risks of genetically modified crops while at the same time courting funds from biotech companies.

The story explains that the two completed a feature-length documentary in 2002 with help from independent Winnipeg filmmaker Jim Sanders, and is based on interviews with Prairie farmers about their experiences - good and bad - with genetically modified canola.

But the Seeds of Change video has never been screened because the university and the researchers, who share the copyright, have been unable to negotiate an agreement on its release.

The story explains that the university originally demanded assurances it would not be liable if anyone sued. One insurer demanded a $50,000 deductible for any lawsuits by crop marketer Monsanto, which has a reputation for protecting its interests vigorously through the courts.

The company is featured in the documentary because of its legal battle with a Saskatchewan farmer and its development of genetically modified wheat. Monsanto Canada spokeswoman Trish Jordan was quoted as saying, "Obviously, we've never seen (the video), so I'm not sure how these guys could assume that we would sue them."

Now that a private investor has pulled out of the Seeds of Change project and the filmmakers have made it clear they don't intend to make a profit, the lawsuit issue has apparently been dropped by the university.

Alan Simms, who represented the university in early negotiations before going on to head the university's Smartpark research complex, was quoted as saying, "I've seen (the video) and I think it's fair. It's not a biased kind of thing."

But McLachlan said the university is still demanding control over where and when the video is shown, while at the same time requiring a disclaimer indicating the project has nothing to do with the university.

University spokesman John Danakas would not say what restrictions the university would place on how the video is screened, because those details have not yet been discussed with the researchers.The university wants to make sure the documentary is only used for educational purposes, he said.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Canada organic farmers press forward in gene contamination lawsuit against Monsanto & Aventis/Bayer

by Angela Hall

Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (Canada) Media Release
August 30, 2005
Organic farmers granted leave to appeal class certification decision

Today the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal released Honourable Mr. Justice Cameron's decision granting the certified organic farmers of Saskatchewan leave to appeal the Court of Queen's Bench decision dated May 11, 2005 denying them class certification under Saskatchewan's Class Actions Act. The farmers are seeking compensation for losses due to contamination of organic fields and crops by Monsanto's and Bayer's genetically engineered canolas.

Judge Cameron agreed that the issues raised by the plaintiffs should be dealt with by the Appeal Court. He agreed that the questions of whether Judge Smith erred in her finding of no cause of action - an error which cascades through her decisions on the remaining four tests required to grant class certification – and whether she applied an overly rigorous standard for class certifications should be examined by the Appeal Court.

Plaintiff Larry Hoffman says he feels encouraged by the decision. "It gives us a chance to argue how the Class Actions Act should be applied. The spirit of the law is to even out the odds between the Davids and the Goliaths in the world. The lower court decision made it too hard on us Davids, and we think that's unfair. A farmer like me can't afford to take on a big company like Monsanto when it threatens my livelihood and way of life. But if we can join together in a class action, our combined strength can make it possible to hold these companies accountable for their actions."

"This is great", says plaintiff Dale Beaudoin. "On behalf of 1000 plus organic farmers we can continue to fight for our right to remain stewards for sustainable agriculture. This is no minor issue. It is a matter of independence and survival for all farmers world-wide."

For the decision and other details of the class action suit, please see

August 31, 2005
The Regina Leader-Post
Organic farmers can appeal ruling

Saskatchewan organic farmers will get another opportunity to try to launch a class-action lawsuit against Monsanto and Bayer CropScience.

The farmers' first attempt to have the case against the two companies certified as a class action was rejected in a 179-page ruling by Justice Gene Anne Smith in May 2005. On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal granted them leave to appeal that decision.

Two farmers were named as plaintiffs in the suit, which aims to include all Saskatchewan organic farmers certified from 1996. The producers, supported by the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund, are seeking compensation for losses they say are the result of the introduction of genetically modified canola.

In granting the leave to appeal, Justice Stuart Cameron wrote that the proposed appeal raises "some comparatively new and potentially controversial points of law." Smith had ruled that prerequisites needed to certify an action as a class action -- according to Section 6 of the Class Actions Act -- were not satisfied. Cameron noted the Class Actions Act was enacted fairly recently, and Smith's decision "constitutes the most comprehensive application" of Section 6 of the act undertaken so far in the province. "It stands as the seminal authority in the province on class actions," Cameron wrote.

"Without suggesting that Justice Smith's decision is in any respect flawed, I do believe her appreciation and application of the prerequisites of Section 6 raises some issues of sufficient importance generally to warrant consideration by this court." For example, some of the arguments before Cameron centred on the "rigour" Smith applied in considering each of the prerequisites that had to be met to allow the class action, wrote Cameron.

On one hand, it was argued the application for certification as a class action was subjected to more exacting standards than called for by the act. On the other, Smith was said to have approached it rigorously "in the sense of carefully and thoroughly."

Terry Zakreski, the lawyer representing the farmers, said they will now file documents with the Court of Appeal and wait for an appeal date to be set. Zakreski said he feels the decision shows they raised good arguments for the higher court to consider on the basis the lower court may have "set the bar too high" regarding what's needed in order to be certified as a class action.