Friday, March 25, 2005

Save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge!

(this was posted by macho for "Girl at River" on Friends of Grassy Narrows)

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the Sacred Place Where Life Begins, the calving and nursery grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. Desecration of the Arctic Refuge would cause serious detriment to caribou and the people of the Gwich'in Nation who have depended on the caribou since time immemorial. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must remain off limits to any oil or gas development and must be put in permanent protection status as Wilderness.

No matter how many times capitalists and government try to advance this plan, the facts haven't changed: drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge would ruin one of America's last wild places for what the U.S. Geological Survey and oil company executives concede is only a few months of oil, oil that would not be available for a decade. The American people don't want that, and they've made that clear. But proponents of drilling in the Arctic Refuge have a much broader agenda. Just last year, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) told a group of high-ranking Republicans that the controversy over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a "symbolic" debate about whether or not oil and gas drilling should be allowed in pristine wild areas across the country.

The coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is one of America's last wild places. Caribou, musk oxen, wolves, polar, brown and black bears, and hundreds of thousands of migratory birds rely on the wilderness habitat that the Refuge provides. The Gwich'in people, Alaska natives who live near the Refuge, depend on the caribou. For 20,000 years, their culture and way of life have been intimately bound up with the Porcupine River Caribou Herd.

All this with the chance of finding little or no oil. At current rates of consumption, there is at best 6 months worth of oil in the Refuge.

Sneaking Arctic Refuge drilling into the federal budget would allow drilling supporters to sidestep the normal Senate process. Budgets cannot be filibustered, so a simple majority of 51 votes could pass an Arctic Refuge provision. The budget process also limits time allowed for debate; controversial proposals attached to the budget do not receive the full examination they deserve. The federal budget bill is exactly the wrong place for Congress to decide the fate of the Arctic Refuge. Including Arctic Refuge drilling in the budget would be a bad fiscal decision as well. Since the amount of oil and the level of oil industry interest in drilling the Refuge are still unknown, any figures describing revenues derived from the sale of the oil are entirely speculative. Especially in these economic times, it is risky business to have such assumptions included in the national budget.

Take action! Write or call your Senator and Representative today. The Capitol switchboard number is 202-224-3121. And, if you want to do more, write a letter to the editor. Let them know that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a bad idea, it is not the way to solve America's need for energy, and controversial policy decisions are not supposed to be made in the budget bills. To drill in the Refuge will destroy forever another. Native peoples' ''right to a way of life.'' For more information, contact the Gwich'in Steering Committee at (907) 458-8264 or visit our web site: .

The Gwich'in Nation of Northeast Alaska and Northwest Canada have a unified longstanding position to seek permanent protection of "Iizhik Gwats'an Gwandaii Goodlit" The Sacred Place Where Life Begins, the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The coastal plain is the primary birthplace and nursery for over 120,000-member Porcupine Caribou Herd. Our Gwich'in villages are located along the migratory paths of the caribou. The area where we live is virtually the same as the range of the caribou and our villages are strategically set along the migratory routes of the caribou.

No more neocolonial imperialism please

In this entry I've included a link to a site from which you can click & send a letter to the Prime Minister, and encourage him to make no new security commitments to help George W. Bush with his global war schemes. Please go to to send a letter.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees

Youssef Elloubani, who is featured in the Montreal Gazette article below is an activist, heavily involved with the ongoing organizing efforts of the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees. Youssef who is a Palestinian refugee from Bourj el-Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon, continues to face deportation from Canada with upwards of 100 other Palestinian refugees throughout Canada who also face deportation at the hands of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees continues to organize against the deportation of all Palestinian refugees from Canada. If you are interested in getting involved or supporting the work of the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees you can contact them at 514 859 9070 or or

'One person decided my life': Refugee claims in Canada are now decided by single-person 'panels,' and although the law calls for an appeal procedure, there isn't one yet - and may never be one
(copied from the Montreal Gazette, Monday, March 21, 2005. Michelle Lalonde and Jeff Heinrich of The Gazette contributed to this report)

Youssef Elloubani, like his father before him, was born and raised in Bourj el-Barajneh, a miserable refugee camp for Palestinians near Beirut in Lebanon.

Like the other refugees in the camp, Elloubani, 26, grew up in poverty and fear and was deprived of basic rights. He faced a bleak future. Elloubani was also under constant threat from a Syrian military officer who had a grudge against his family.

In September 2000, Elloubani arrived on a student visa in Canada - a country he had grown up believing was a paradise of justice and freedom.

Now, because of the decision of one man, Elloubani probably will be sent home to his old nightmare, with no opportunity to appeal that decision.

"We don't have a chance to speak to somebody else," Elloubani said. "The first person said no, and that's it. One person has decided my life."

A law that came into effect in Canada in June 2002 reduced the number of Immigration and Refugee Board members, the panel that hears refugee claims, to one from two commissioners. The law said this cost-saving
measure was to be counterbalanced by a new appeals procedure, which would allow all refugees the opportunity to contest a rejection.

But the government has yet to implement the appeal procedure outlined in the law, and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Joe Volpe hinted last week that he is considering changing the law to scrap the idea of the
appeals division altogether.

"The purpose (of the refugee determination process) should be ... that if you get people who are genuine refugees, you want to make a decision on them quickly," he said at a meeting with The Gazette's editorial board on Thursday.

"If that's your overall objective, do you enhance that by putting in a refugee appeal division?"

That attitude has outraged groups that work with refugees. They say Canada is systematically turning away legitimate refugees, with no effective appeal process to catch errors.

At a conference at the Universite de Montreal last week, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes refugiees et immigrantes, an umbrella group of refugee aid groups in Quebec, jointly urged the federal government to act to improve the refugee hearing system.

The groups outlined a recent case where the United Nations Committee Against Torture had to step in to stop Canada from deporting Enrique Falcon Rios, a Mexican refugee claimant whom the committee deemed to be in
clear danger of being tortured if he is returned to Mexico.

"Mr. Falcon Rios's case confirms what we have been saying for years: errors made in Canada's refugee system go uncorrected," said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

"We hope that this international criticism will push the Canadian government to finally implement the appeal (process) for refused claimants, which has been in the law for almost three years."

She said the errors in the Falcon Rios case probably would have been corrected if he had the right to such an appeal.

Dench noted that Falcon Rios was lucky enough to be represented by Stewart Istvanffy, a Montreal lawyer specializing in international human rights law. Most refugee claimants do not have access to help from international rights bodies.

The commissioner in Elloubani's case, Michel Jobin, said Elloubani wasn't credible because he came to Canada originally on the student visa and did not study. He then took too long to apply for refugee status once his visa expired.

Elloubani said he had planned to study as soon as he earned enough money working in fast-food restaurants to pay tuition. He said he received bad legal advice about when to make his refugee claim, but contended his claim is no less legitimate.

"That's how they refuse everybody," Istvanffy said. "No one is credible... and once the word credibility is mentioned, the claimant has no recourse."

The only appeal avenue is in Federal Court, and that court will do a judicial review of the case only if there has been an error in law.

"Our immigration ministry acts like we never make mistakes in this country. We are so perfect that if someone is refused once, we will never correct the mistake," Istvanffy said.

The federal government keeps promising to overhaul the entire refugee hearing process. In the meantime, people like Elloubani are being sent off to their fate by one-person "panels."

Volpe said he must look at all the angles - and expects to know by September which way to proceed.

"I'm in a balancing situation," he said.

"On the one hand, some people think that it's a little too easy to get into this country as a refugee.

''And on the other hand, you have people who say a failed refugee claimant doesn't have as much access to (remedy) as a resident or a citizen. I'm trying to get to that perfect balance."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Interview by Aly Wane-Damiba

Elected to Congress in 1986, John Lewis represents Georgia's Fifth Congressional District. He is widely recognized as one of the most influential Civil Rights leaders. His commitment to nonviolent, grassroots tactics is legendary, having endured more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and injuries over his career. He was recently the keynote speaker at a Syracuse conference on the role of the media during the Civil Rights movement. An edited version of this interview appeared in the Peace Newsletter.

Aly Wane: We are here with long-time civil rights leader and US Congressman John Lewis in order to pick his brain on some of the issues which are concerning the Peace and Justice community, and the American community as a whole.

Let's get started with the issue that most people are thinking about right now, the War in Iraq. I guess this is a two-part question. The first part is, "did you, as a US Congressman feel that the war was just or unjust?" The second part is "now that we are in Iraq, what do you feel is the most equitable way of dealing with this situation that would both honor the sacrifices of American soldiers, while making sure that we do promote a peaceful, democratic Iraq in the future?

John Lewis: I felt all along, and I still believe today, that this war was not justified. I said on the floor of the House in the debate about [Iraq] making available the resources, and the dollars to support this military effort that the war is bloody, it is messy, that it destroys the dreams and aspirations of a people, and that we should wait and continue to discuss, continue to debate, and that we should give peace a chance. I happen to believe that war is obsolete as a tool of our foreign policy. On the other hand, it is my belief that this president, and people around him have made a decision, they had made up their mind to go to war even before he took the oath of office. He was hell-bent to have a war with Iraq; he was hell-bent to have, what they call "regime change" to get rid of Saddam Hussein. But in my estimation, nothing justifies this military intrusion into Iraq. There is no way to prove that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. I think that the president, the people around him, and other people in this administration deliberately misled the American People, misled the community of Nations, and they deceived and lied to members of Congress. We have to find a way to get out. On the one hand, I think we can be supportive of our young men and women in harm's way, but I want to see them come home. I want to find a way to get out of Iraq. We must get our allies in the UN and other members of the community of Nations involved. It's not just the loss of American lives, but it's the loss of the lives of hundreds and thousands of Iraqi military people, and also civilians, women and children. I don't think that the spirit of history is going to be very kind to us as a nation and as a people for what we did.

AW: I'm so glad to hear you speak about the lives of Iraqi civilians as well because it seems lie the pink elephant in the room that no one really wants to talk about, but a lot of Americans were concerned about during the run-up to the war in Iraq, and a related question to that would be that a lot of Progressive people and people at the grassroots level were really disappointed at the fact that so many Democrats seemed to endorse the President's current war powers. You and a handful of people in Congress really tried to stem that tide, but it seemed that the majority of the Democratic Party gave the President the powers that he now has. Can you give us a sense of what your understanding was in terms of the rift between what at least half of the American people felt at the time and this seeming majority opinion in Congress that we should give President Bush as many powers that he needs to prosecute the war in Iraq.

JL: I think there was a feeling on the part of a large number of my colleagues on the Democratic side who felt that, in some ways Saddam Hussein and the country of Iraq were real threats to our own national security. We had been told by the Secretary of State, by the Secretary of Defense, by Condoleeza Rice, National Security Director, by the Vice-President and others.they showed us maps, that showed here and there the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, that these weapons were very dangerous, and they said that it was just a matter of time until [Saddam] had the ability to deliver, maybe, some type of nuclear warhead, or biological, chemical weaponry. And some people bought into that, and didn't want to go back home, especially during an election coming up and appear to be on the wrong side. Now, the great majority of Democrats and a growing number of republicans feel like they were lied to, that they were misled. People don't want to appear not to be supporting the troops because they are currently embattled; You can condemn the war and still say we are going to support our young men and women. And the best way of supporting them is to find a way to get them out of harm's way and bring them home.

AW: I am glad that you address the issue of being able to be against the war while at the same time being able to support American men and women on the ground. Some people in the conservative movement claim that if you oppose the war in Iraq that you hate American soldiers. Speaking of misleading, you are here this weekend to attend a Conference that has to do with the role of the media in the Civil Rights movement. A lot of people felt that, at least the major corporate-owned media led the drumbeat to the War in Iraq, and that for individuals to get more objective information they had to go the Internet, Progressive media outlets like The Nation, and foreign news outlets. Do you feel that the [major news agencies] are only now asking some of the questions that they should have been asking before we even went to Iraq?

JL: I think, in dealing with the war, and the whole question of national defense, national security, homeland security, I think that the media is somewhat lacking. This is not an indictment of the media, but I think that it [the media] to some degree is a tail-light rather than a headlight. Certain quarters of the media were almost a bulletin board of the Administration. People were not questioning enough; they took everything [ at face value]. Now, more and more journalists are beginning to raise questions about where, when, and how. The Bush administration, with the help of his cabinet got us into a mess, got us into a fix, and they need to find the most creative way to get us out.

AW: Speaking of giving the President a pass on a lot of issues that he has talked about, now we are talking about going from Iraq to the whole concept of the "War on Terrorism." I know that many people the very concept a little bit absurd since you can't go to war against Terror; Terror is a concept rather than a specific country. What do you think of this concept of war on Terrorism, and can this war actually lead us to greater freedom and security, or do you think that this very idea of the war on Terror the Administration's using language to justify whatever it wants to promote?

JL: I think it is important for us to combat Terrorism, maintain a strong national defense, and do what we can to keep our people secure, but I think this Administration has really gone too far. It is trying to frighten people for different reasons. It's almost like, they used to say "The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!" Well, the Russians are not coming. They're gone. But indirectly, what this Administration is doing is seizing the frustration, the discontent, and the hatred. My greatest fear is that hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of young Arab children will grow up hating America, and hating everything we stand for because of what we are doing in Afghanistan and in Iraq. We, as a nation, have poisoned the well, and it is going to be almost impossible for there to be at any time some cooling [of relations]. The people are mad, the people around the world are mad at us. They really question whether we have lost our way, whether we have lost our sense of direction. You know, when we went into Iraq, they [the Administration] that we would come in as liberators, and that people would be welcoming us. And the people are not doing that. I just happen to think that America is on the wrong side of History. There's no way to justify what we have done to the people there, to justify the cost, the billions of dollars that could be used to do something about our infrastructure, about education, health care, and other unmet needs.

AW: Getting to your own personal history, obviously, you are quite the leading figure in the Civil Rights movement along with many other luminaries. Many of us grassroots activists take inspiration from the work that you and many others have done over the years. What do you think the role of nonviolent tactics and grassroots education is in this very politically fragmented country? Do you think that nonviolence techniques are still effective nowadays, looking back on your own history?

JL: I think that the Way of Nonviolence, the philosophy of Nonviolence, direct action, passive resistance, and the tactics of Nonviolence are still relevant as a way of meeting the needs of people so that they could vent their sense of discontent, to vent their frustration, to display a sense of righteous indignation. This is still relevant, in spite of all of the changes, in spite of the different techniques and tactics of nonviolence that were used during the 50's and 60's. I don't think we really explored all of the possibilities that we could have in the use of nonviolence. You know, some people think that when you practice nonviolence you are soft, or meek. They don't understand it. Nonviolence can be a very powerful tool, a powerful means of bringing about change.

AW: In relation to this, you have people like Kathy Kelly who have gone to Iraq in order to bring needed food and medicine to the people there. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize at least twice, and yet when it comes to the mainstream media coverage, you are not likely to hear about her. What made your tactics so effective in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, in terms of getting the media attention that you needed to dramatize the situation. Nowadays, you still have people who use some of these tactics, but they tend to be marginalized; you don't really hear about them, even when they have accomplished many things. Do you think that there are things that Kathy, and others like her, should be doing that they haven't been exploring, or are the very structures of the media such that this type of activity might be seen as less effective?

JL: I think, some of both. The members of the media today have no idea, no concept of what the civil rights struggle was about, because they didn't get first-hand experience. They may read about it in a book, or see it in a video, or maybe a movie, but these people in the media, and some not in the media have to go through certain steps in order to really feel what the movement was about. It is very hard, it is very difficult. You can talk about it, you can sing about it, you can pray about it, but not until people feel it, and see it can they believe that they are themselves a part [of the historical process].

AW: I agree, which reminds me of my involvement the last two years in some of my first protests against the war in Iraq. We occasionally had members of the local media in Chicago come and interview us, but they would insist on speaking to our "leaders," whereas, in fact, we were informal groups of individuals without a specific structure or a hierarchy. Nevertheless, the members of the Press absolutely wanted to speak to our "leaders." They could not get their heads around the concept of real grassroots, popular action from individuals.

JL: Yes, well this is not new. We had the same thing during my SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) days. We had what we called "group leadership." Every now and then, one of us may have emerged, but for the most part, it was group leadership, and people spoke as a group. But in today's age, television, in particular, and the print media to some degree, promotes quick, little sound bites, and testimony from single individuals. But the movement was mass-based, and it was church-based.
AW: How do you think very small grassroots organizations like us at the Syracuse Peace Council, and others around the country, can be effective in reaching the public, which I do not believe is apathetic, but feels disconnected from the political process which they see as co-opted by money and power? Many people don't want to participate in what they see as a "dirty game." How do we reach people, and let them know that it is their country and that it is important that individuals participate in ways that go above and beyond just voting?

JL: I think that you have to organize indigenous, local organizations and groups, and people have to have ownership [of these organizations]. So we can come together, and organize this community, this block, or this precint, and get four or five hundred people registered, and then they can become a thousand or more. I think that, in this way, the people will feel more like they own a part of it, so that they have the resources that are needed to conduct a campaign. You can go to these people and say, "we need your help, we need your support, and are you willing to help?" They can come in on the ground floor.

AW: Comparing the work the work that you did as a grassroots activist, and the work that you are doing now in Congress, what do you see are the parallels and the differences between these two types of positions?

JL: First of all, it's a different world. Sometimes, when I am working in Washington, I feel this pull to be back in Atlanta, and when I am in Atlanta, I feel a push to be back in D.C. But in a real sense, one doesn't change, one remains the same, and the movement is an extension of us. You have to find a way to set an example that one will be able to involve other people, especially young people. I say some time to my own generation, that the people that we try to help are far ahead of us. It's almost like Ghandi said, "there go my people, let me catch up with them. I think that the people are in front of us, and that they are afraid that we are moving too slow, and they are demanding that we make a little noise, that we make some progress, that we get in the way.

AW: You seem to be a politician who tries to follow his conscience the best that he can. What room do you see for such a politics of conscience when you see people like Kucinich, Sharpton, and Nader who try to follow what they believe, pushed aside from the "mainstream?" How do you try to live out that sense of being a politician who tries act according to his conscience while having to deal with the machinery of Washington?

JL: First of all, I must tell you that it is not easy at all, but you have to make up your mind, and say, "I have to live with myself." I don't want to become bitter or hostile and get lost in a sea of despair. I am here to be faithful, as we would say, I want to "keep my eyes on the Prize", stay focused, so that when someone beats you, or pulls you to the side, or try to crush in your skull, you just keep on hanging on, keep on looking ahead. I have this feeling that everything is going to work out.

AW: It seems that your life of faith is something that sustains you.

JL: Oh yes, by all means. I see my involvement in the Civil Rights movement and in politics as an extension of my life of faith.

AW: It is interesting to see how you use your life of faith, and the way certain conservatives promote their own lives of faith in ways that seem to many to be contradictory to some of the very basic dictates of the biblical call to serve the poor. It is nice to see a progressive who is not afraid of using faith as a way to find direction

JL: You hear people who, in the name of faith say things like "I won't do this, I won't do that, this is absolutely wrong, this is absolutely right." But the great Teacher teaches us that we all have sinned, that we all have fallen short of Grace, and what right do I have to sit in judgment of another person? People ask me from time to time, "why do you stand up and fight for the Gay community, why do you stand up and fight against the prohibition against same-sex marriage?" And my response is very simple: I fought too long and too hard against discrimination based on race not to stand up and fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I believe that.

AW: The very last question is the 1 Million Dollar question: What should Democrats be doing in order to defeat Bush in the coming elections?

JL: More than anything, you have to get the unregistered registered, those who are registered mobilized, and we have to go out and vote like we have never voted before. No candidate is perfect; neither Republican nor Democrat. But, as of this moment, I am convinced that Kerry, or anyone, would be better than George Bush.

AW: I agree. Congressman, thank you for your time.

Aly is a resident staff member at Unity Acres in Orwell, NY and member of the Peace Council's Program Committee

Friday, March 11, 2005

Email Joe Volpe (

Counsel has just received word from Officer Martin Kosichek at the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre that Wendy Maxwell's deportation has been set for this coming Monday, March 14th to Costa Rica.

Yesterday's detention review resulted in a denial of bond, due to the Judge's opinion that Wendy's fear of risk upon return to Costa Rica is so high that he fears she is 'a flight risk,' i. e., will not appear for future dealings with Immigration Canada.

The Canada Border Services Agent who appeared in court stated his willingness to agree to terms and conditions of release if Wendy was granted a deferral of removal or temporary residence status, i. e., by Minister Volpe using his powers and/or Immigration Canada approving the first stage of the H & C.

Emergency legal avenues are being pursued. (However, it is imperative that people take action now! We can make a differnece by keeping the pressure on, now more than ever.)


On Saturday March 5th at the International Women's Day rally at Jorgenson Hall at Ryerson University, a woman was arrested by 51 Division officers while selling cookies to raise money for CKLN Community Radio. Her crime: living in Canada with out Immigration status. Wendy Maxwell, also known as Nzinga, is now in jail at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton. (The Centre seems to have been named after Madame Vanier. I am certain that were she still alive, she would speak out too, and rectify this situation!) Wendy could be deported at any time.

Nzinga is a talented and strong Black Woman who is an active member of our community. Many who have met her either as a colleague, friend, or through her community work admire her tenacity and humility. These are the type of people our community needs. Born in Costa Rica, she is a woman of Jamaican descent who has had to contend with police repression, the violence of organized crime, and now the racism of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. After six productive years in Canada and continuous community involvement, she faces imminent deportation to a dangerous and uncertain future even though she has an application for landed status filed with Immigration Canada that has yet to be adjudicated.

Nzinga faces serious risk if forced back to Costa Rica. She was once picked up by the Costa Rican police, well known for racially profiling Black people, and sexually assaulted by them. She also faces risk as a bisexual woman from the police, whose homophobia is well documented.

One Costa Rican research group states that "lesbian women are exhaustively searched in round-ups at clubs frequented by gays and lesbians and are also subject to aggression, physical abuse and robbery by the police who, in most cases, claim they were looking for drugs". Added to this, she faces serious risk from a dangerous Costa Rican gang which she has had dealings with in the past. Given the homophobic and racist nature of the police, it is to be expected that she will not be able to obtain protection from them against this gang. Nzinga is still coping with serious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (documented by Psychologists at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre and other clinics) due to the abuse she experienced in Costa Rica. Sending her back will re-inflame her psychological problems and stop her healing process.

Despite this, Immigration Canada determined that she would not be at risk if deported and ordered her to fly back to Costa Rica on December 1, 2003. She was forced to go "underground" and filed a humanitarian and compassionate leave application for status soon after that (in February of 2004) on the basis of risk and establishment.

Nzinga has worked tirelessly in the community as a volunteer at CKLN 88.1 FM Community Radio. She has also worked with the Latin American Coalition to end Violence Against Women (now called MUJER), the Barbara Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, the Ralph Thornton Community Centre as a network administrator's assistant, the Global African Congress, and as an outreach worker with the Black Coalition for Aids Prevention (BlackCAP). Her work is also being published in "A New Look at Heterosexism and Homophobia" being put out in collaboration with the McGill University for the Canadian Aids Society. She has been employed through out her 6 years in Canada.

The Minister of Immigration, Joe Volpe, has the authority to intervene in any Immigration case. Please contact his office ( on Monday, March 14th, and urge him to:

a. Grant Wendy Maxwell a Temporary Resident's Permit so that she can remain in Canada legally until her Humanitarian and Compassionate Leave application for permanent resident's status is decided upon. The application was filed in February of 2004 and has been in the system for over a year now.

b. Release Wendy Maxwell from custody immediately.

If you are part of any broader organizations, please
encourage them to contact the Minister as an organization in support of Wendy Maxwell.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I will not be going to jail

Charges have been withdrawn against 43 francophone persons accused of illegal assembly in relation to the protest against the World Trade Organization mini-ministerial in July, 2003. The withdrawal of charges against ALL arrested protesters (including me) is a formality.

On July 28, 2003, more than 200 protesters were rounded up by Montreal riot police, several kilometers away from the site of a World Trade Organization meeting of ministers. The protesters were charged with Illegal Assembly. Four separate "mega-trials" had been scheduled. The charges were dropped on Wednesday because of the refusal by Montreal police and Crown prosecutors to comply with disclosure orders. Defense lawyers still have pending motions demanding the payment of costs by the Crown. Once again, Montreal-area protesters have defeated the Crown at court!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Copy, edit and email the following letter to

Mr. Scott Brison
Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada
PO Box 1280, Station A
Sydney, Nova Scotia
B1P 6J9

Dear Hon. Scott Brison,

Please stop the incineration of toxic sludge from the tar ponds in Sydney, Cape Breton Island. I oppose the incineration of PCB-laden tar ponds sludge because:

- No incinerators are available that safely destroy PCBs

- Incomplete combustion of PCBs produces dioxins and furans, among the most deadly toxic materials known

- All incinerators fail regularly, producing what is called an “upset condition”

- During upset conditions, incinerators emit large quantities of pollutants to the surrounding land

- Incinerators produce concentrated toxic ash which must be disposed of in an expensive hazardous waste landfill

- Both of Canada’s toxic waste incinerators have failed, polluting surrounding communities with dioxins and furans. A third incinerator, in Belledune, New Brunswick, has met with fierce community opposition and has not yet completed a test-burn.

- The Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s biomedical waste incinerator has failed dioxin emissions tests 3 of the last 4 years. The provincial government has failed to protect the people, and will continue to approve the use of this dangerous incinerator for at least another year.

- “Burn and bury” was the community’s least preferred remediation option, as reported by the Joint Action Committee’s community workbook exercise.

- The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency has admitted that using a temporary or mobile incinerator will allow them to operate under less stringent environmental regulations.

- Safe, effective and affordable options are being ignored by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency

I prefer proven, non-incineration technologies to clean up the Sydney Tar Ponds without further delay. Remediation options proposed by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency would see only PCB hot spots treated, while the bulk of the toxic waste would be covered up. This “burn and bury” approach has been soundly rejected by local residents who want the toxic sludge dug up and safely destroyed once and for all. Other proven options exist and were laid out by the Joint Action Group’s process and presented to residents as “Option 3.” Residents rated option 3 as their preferred choice.

Recent delays by the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency were clearly avoidable. I suggest the following approach to move the process along without further delay:

- Initiate immediately a full panel review and re-route the Coke Ovens Brook, remove the cooling pond, relocate the Victoria Road water main, and build a cofferdam at Battery Point.

- Move nearby residents out of harms way. Set up a 300 m buffer zone to protect the health of those outside the fence. Move nearby residents during the cleanup, and offer them a voluntary buyout.

- Use Soil Washing and Hydrogen Reduction to remediate the tar ponds sludge (JAG option 3). A train of technologies featuring Soil Washing, Thermal Desorption and GPCR could safely and effectively clean all the tar ponds waste, not just a small fraction of it as currently proposed. A soil-washing company called TDEnviro claims the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency’s estimate of $1 Billion for option 3 is far too high. They have guaranteed the Nova Scotia government a price of $393 million. Only a panel review can verify their claim.

There is a massive weight of evidence to show that incinerators are damaging people’s health. Those within the fallout zone, up to 7.5 km around the incinerator, are most affected. However, the effects are even more far reaching. After incineration, the solid waste consisting of heavy-metals-contaminated ash is dumped on special landfill sites and may find its way into our water systems over time.

PCB incinerators produce high levels of dioxins. Many heavy metals and very fine particulate matter may lodge in lungs of animals and people, and can not be removed by the natural defence mechanisms of a body. Grazing animals are most heavily affected.

The dioxins emitted by incinerators have been shown to lead to infertility, birth defects, cancers, heart disease, and respiratory problems in humans.

Nova Scotia has only one active incinerator in Sydney. This plant disposes of domestic waste as well as toxic medical waste for the entire province. This incinerator still operates, even though it has failed its dioxin emission tests 3 out of the last 4 years.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Copy and paste this to your email

Joe Volpe: Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Jean-Edmonds Tower South, 21st Floor
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1

Subject: Palestinian Refugees Facing Deportation from Canada

Dear Minister Volpe:

This letter is being sent in response to a call from the Coalition Against
the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees in Canada. In recognition of the
recent decision of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, to grant a positive
decision on the Humanitarian & Compassionate Grounds Claim of the Ayoub
family, I continue to call upon Immigration Minister, Joe Volpe and CIC to
immediately halt the pending deportation of over 100 Palestinian refugees
and immediately grant them all status in Canada.

The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are forbidden from owning property,
working in over 70 professions, receiving proper health care, and moving
and traveling freely. These are only a few of the persecutory measures and
discriminatory restrictions the Palestinian refugees have to face.
Moreover, the intensified mistreatment of Palestinian refugees inside the
camps has left their lives in real and immediate peril.

Those Palestinians who have escaped the dire situation in the Occupied
Territories, face daily terror at the hands of the Israeli state, which
continues to enforce a deadly and illegal military occupation of

Palestinian refugees from the Occupied Territories have fled from the
killings, extra-judicial assassinations, house demolitions, illegal
arrests, trials without evidence, torture, land confiscation, and constant

I write this letter also to draw attention to the crisis of deportation
facing Palestinian refugees in Montreal, who have been forced by
Immigration Canada to live underground and live without status in Canada,
who after being stateless Palestinian refugees all their lives, have again
been forced by the Canadian government into a life of stateless limbo.

Given this context I am writing you in support of the demands of the
Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees that Citizenship
and Immigration Canada:

1) Immediately stop the deportations of Palestinian refugees.
2) Immediately regularize the status of all Palestinian refugees in Canada



Paul Martin, Office of the Prime Minister of Canada:
Fax: 613 941 6900

Michel Dorais, Deputy Minister of Immigration Canada:
Fax: 613 954 3509 or 613 954 5448

Rene D'Aoust, Immigration Canada Director of
Investigation & Removals:
Phone: 514 496-1238,
Fax: 514 496-1882

Monique Leclair, Director General
Immigration Canada Quebec Regional Office:
Fax: 514 496-3976

Andrew Telegdi: Chair of Standing Committee on
Citizenship & Immigration

Bill Siksay: NDP, Immigration Critic

Meili Faille, (Bloc Quebecois, Immigration Critic)