Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The invisible giant

(I received this letter from the NFU list. I'm posting this on my blog because it is evidence of Cargill's further expansion.)

Dear Editor,

The total cattle population in Canada is currently 2.3 million animals higher than two years ago. Growth in a certain sector normally happens when higher demand leads to better market expectations. Not in this case. Since the US border closure for livestock in May 2003, beef production in Canada is expanding because producers are simply locked in to produce more as a consequence of a backlog of older animals not finding enough slaughter capacity within Canada. A captive supply of older animals allows the processors to obtain cows and bulls for extreme low prices. Producers are torn between letting older animals go for a fraction of their book value or continue letting the herd size proliferate in the hope of a better way out tomorrow. Low cow prices are here to stay unless Governments and the federal Competition Bureau get their acts together. Despite a 10% price rise for ground beef in Canadian grocery stores in 2004, farmers continue to receive less than half of what they got three years ago for cows and bulls. Instead of increased testing like they do everywhere else in the world, Canadian authorities adopted USDA protocol of designating slaughter lines for either young mature animals (<30>30 months), thus effectively minimizing and monopolizing cow slaughter capacity. In Alberta, 90% of the cull cows are currently slaughtered by XL Foods, a company owned by Nilsson Brothers. There are currently a number of initiatives in the works for improving the independent slaughter capacity of cull cows. Cull cow meat is an attractive ingredient for processed meat products because it allows for value adding of fat trim from young mature animals. One of the major players involved in value-adding to lean cull cow meat is Caravelle Foods, with plants in Alberta and Ontario. Caravelle was acquired by Cargill in 2004. When Cargill announced its intention to purchase Better Beef earlier this spring, financiers became much more reluctant to risk putting up capital to independent kill plants because of Cargill's ability to supply its own Caravelle plants. The farmer-owned projects will still go ahead regardless, but it shows the hurdles farmers are up against. The National Farmers Union objected to the acquisition with the Competition Bureau. We met with them in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, illustrating with clear examples that this concentration of market power over farmers is unacceptable. The Ottawa officials took serious note of the facts but the Competition Act itself lost its teeth when the Mulroney government watered it down substantially, in the 1980s. When Cargill bought Caravelle Foods in 2004, the National Farmers Union communicated with then-agriculture minister Shirley McClellan, pointing out that the acquisition, as well as Cargill's expansion plans in High River (from 3000 head per day up to 5000 head), should be prevented for competition purposes. These two developments would allow Cargill even more control over a market they already dominated. McClellan dismissed the concern, stating that; "companies like Cargill and Tyson are the only ones that can take the risk of expansion". Cargill must have all along been willingly selected by the Alberta government to become a winner. The High River plant was built with a generous subsidy from the Alberta government in the early 1990s. The $402 million Mature Animal Program offered to beef producers by the Alberta government in the fall of 2003 (to help overcome the market crash after the case of BSE triggered US border closure), paid besides $9 million directly, many millions of dollars indirectly to Cargill. In their position of power, Cargill and Tyson lowered the price for finished animals by the exact amount the seller had received in program subsidy. This was confirmed in the summer of 2004 by the Alberta Auditor General's report on the government's BSE related assistance programs. It is clear that provincial and federal governments would rather spend billions of dollars in bailout programs that are not creating solutions, than show the courage to prevent large agribusinesses and food retailers from cornering the market. Only that intervention will make the plans for new processing capacity in Canada come to fruition. It would also be helpful if farmers in the rest of Canada organized themselves as Quebec farmers do. After a bold and successful rally last winter, the Quebec farmers union UPA with 95% of Quebec's farmers organized under its wings, owns and controls now 80 % of Colbex-Levinoff slaughter plants in the province with 5000 head per day slaughter capacity.

Jan Slomp
Alberta Coordinator for NFU

Friday, June 24, 2005

Call or fax DA Abraham

As you may know, several people have been in jail since Tuesday's BioDemocracy demonstration in Philadelphia. An unreasonable bail amount, in one case up to $100,000, has been set against our friends. While the charges themselves are unmeritted, the bail far exceeds what the misdemeanor charges call for. These extreme charges are clearly an assault on free speech. DA Lynn Abraham has a history of biased allegations against peaceful demonstrators which have been repeatedly thrown out in court. As Dr. Adam Tsai points out, " If he (Officer Williams) had been in an argument with a family member and died from heart related causes, would DA Abraham press charges against the family? Of course not. It seems that Ms. Abraham has a vendetta against the protestors". While we mourn for Officer Williams, we want the world to know that we came here to stand up for people over profits. All people deserve health care and have the right to live in a world which is not dominated by corporate greed.

Please send whatever financial support you can and call or fax DA Abraham, demanding that the bails be lowered or the charges dropped.

District Attorney´s Office, 1421 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102-1507
phone: 215-686-8000 fax: 215-563-0047

(I received the following message from agnet. Agnet delivers biotechnology industry propaganda to my inbox. Which is to say that agnet serves up valueless and hollow tripe, on the order of dozens of messages per day. It's good to know what the capitalists are thinking. I employ "thinking" with generosity...)

June 23, 2005 Associated Press Ron Todt PHILADELPHIA -- Five protesters were, according to this story, charged in connection with a skirmish outside a biotechnology convention during which a police officer who had a heart condition collapsed and died. Prosecutors were cited as saying that Guillaume Beaulieu, 23, threw water onto an officer during the protest Tuesday, and when Officer Paris Williams and others tried to arrest him, a skirmish ensued with protesters struggling to free Beaulieu from custody. Williams, 52, who had an enlarged heart, "was right there at the epicenter, and that's why he had this terrific cardiac event," District Attorney Lynne Abraham said Wednesday. Beaulieu, a 23-year-old Canadian, faced the most serious charges, two counts of felony aggravated assault. He and the four other protesters, all Americans, were also charged with resisting arrest, conspiracy and disorderly conduct.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Stop the Devil's Lake diversion project

The government of North Dakota is proceeding with the Devil's Lake Diversion Project. So sign this petition

and agree that you will not spend any $ in North Dakota until Governor John Hoeven agrees to refer the case to the International Joint Commission, or reaches an agreement with Manitoba that is within the framework of the Boundary Water Treaty of 1909.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Vegan restaurants in Winnipeg

1. Mondragon. 91 Albert Street. 946-5241
2. Tall Grass Prarie Bread Co. at The Forks Market
3. Affinity Vegetarian Garden. 100-208 Edmonton Street. 943-0251
4. Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant. 1467 Pembina Highway. 477-1530
5. Organic Planet Worker Co-op. 877 Westminster Avenue. 772-8771
6. Organza Food. 664 Corydon Avenue. 453-6266
7. Punjab Sweet House. 86 Mandalay Drive. 633-1600
8. Yenat Ethiopian Restaurant. 330 Ellice
9. Massawa. 121 Osborne Street
10. Bread & Circuses Cafe on Corydon Strip

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The boreal forest network

Check out the new link to the Boreal Forest Network, under "Allies" on the sidebar.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Email Minister of Immigration Joe Volpe and your local MP to support the No One Is Illegal march on Ottawa

EMAIL Campaign: Pressure Immigration Minister JoeVolpe; Support the No One Is Illegal March on Ottawa.

From: sans frontieres! We strongly encourage everyone who supports Solidarity Across Borders to consistently pressure Immigration Minister Joe Volpe with phone calls and faxes in the coming days, starting NOW until June 25. Your letters to Volpe are a very important way to support the No One Is Illegal March on Ottawa from where you live. If you do call or fax, let us know at In solidarity, Solidarity Across Borders.

In less than one week hundreds of non-status people and their supporters will be undertaking a historic one-week long march from Montreal to Ottawa to demand a full regularization program for refugees and non-status people be implemented immediately. The march will pass through the Cote des Neiges neighbourhood of Montreal, the Mohawk community of Kanehsatake on whose land we're marching, along the north shore of the Ottawa river and up to the front doors of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

But will the politicians hear us coming?

Less than two months ago non-status members of Solidarity Across Borders confronted Minister Volpe outside of a Press Conference in Montreal. The Minister played the politician, refusing to address their specific cases and responding with meaningless words when questioned about regularization. This is not enough! Solidarity Across Borders has issued a letter to Minister Volpe demanding that he deal with the situation of non-status people with more than half-measures and words (see below). We demand that he meet with the No One Is Illegal March on Ottawa and come face to face with the people his Ministry excludes on a daily basis. We demand that he recognize the need for a full and inclusive regularization program as outlined in our 12 Principles for Regularization.

Not everyone can participate in our march for eight days but you can still support the march and our demands. In the coming days before the march begins on Saturday June 18 we ask all of our supporters to call-in to Minister of Immigration Joe Volpe and their local M.P to demand that they show the march the respect that it deserves by meeting with the refugees who make the trek when they arrive on Parliament Hill on the afternoon of June 25 and to express their support for a regularization program without restrictions- a program that would make no one illegal.

To see the 12 Principles for regularization visit

Please email Minister of Immigration Joe Volpe at To find contact information for your local MP visit:

1) That the Minister and all MPs meet the march on Parliament Hill when it arrives the afternoon of Saturday June 25;
2) That a full and inclusive regularization program be implemented immediately.
Be polite and patient, but also persistent. Make sure your message is heard loud and clear. For more information contact Solidarity Across Borders at or visit

Letter to Minister of Immigration Joe Volpe from Solidarity Across Borders:
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Joe Volpe,
We are contacting you from the Solidarity Across Borders coalition, a group composed of several committees of self-organized refugees from Algeria, Palestine, Congo, Colombia and elsewhere. As you should already be aware, we are a part of a growing movement of non-status people and their supporters organizing against the injustices handed down from your Ministry on a daily basis.Your Ministry has recently made policy changes and statements which suggest that you are considering implementing a partial regularization program for non-status people living in Canada. As a group that has organized around community-wide issues and individual cases we welcome any moves that allow more non-status people to be regularized and their lives made easier here in Canada.However, any partial regularization program will be no more than a band-aid, temporary solution; it will not solve the massive crisis in the lives of the thousands of non-status people within our borders. We also reject any regularization program that will create or aggravate the division of people into good immigrants and bad immigrants by highlighting certain industries and situations viewed as respectable in the eyes of your ministry while deepening the injustices against those you will leave out.In June of this year hundreds of refugees and non-status people will be embarking with allies on a march to challenge this exclusion. We will march for eight days, from downtown Montreal to Parliament Hill in Ottawa. We will march in defense of the position that no one is illegal, that no one is excludable. This march is more than another protest. It is a profound assertion of dignity and a cry for justice for non-status people.The demands of the march will be an end to the deportation and detention of migrants and refugees, the abolition of Security Certificates and a full regularization program that leaves not a single person behind, that makes no one illegal.This is not the first time in Canadian history that a group has sought to gain the attention of the public and the Government by marching to Ottawa, but this is a very historic occasion. It will be remembered as the first loud challenge to the public, the government, your ministry and you as minister for a fundamental change in the immigration policy of Canada. As hundreds march for their dignity and thousands of others support the march and live the realities that we will be challenging, we hope that you will grant the occasion and the individuals the respect that is deserved by receiving the march when it arrives on Parliament Hill on Saturday June 25 and initiate a dialogue around full regularization, free from empty promises and political posturing.-- Solidarity Across Borders

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Stop the deportation of Mr. Subas B.K. to torture in Nepal

Not one month after the United Nations Committee Against Torture called on Canada to bring its Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in line with international law and to respect the absolute prohibition on deportations where there is a substantial risk or torture or worse, Canada is prepared to deport a man named Subas B.K. on Monday, June 20 to Nepal, where he faces the risk of grave human rights violations. WE NEED FOLKS CONCERNED ABOUT STOPPING A DEPORTATION TO TORTURE TO IMMEDIATELY CONTACT THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, ANNE MCLELLAN, AND IMMIGRATION MINISTER JOE VOLPE AT THE NUMBERS BELOW, WITH A QUICK NOTE DEMANDING THAT THEY STOP THE DEPORTATION AND CONDUCT A NEW RISK ASSESSMENT THAT ACCURATELY REFLECTS THE DANGEROUS POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT IN NEPAL Please cc to let us know you have written or called.

Background: Mr. Subas B.K. came to Canada and claimed refugee status in 2000 based on his membership in the lower caste "dalits" and for being a human rights activist opposed both to the activities of the ruling Nepalese Congress Party and the armed Maoist insurgents who operate throughout the country. Mr. B.K. reported that he had been subject to death threats, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture while in Nepal, and that he has been named an enemy both by the government and the Maoists. Unfortunately, the Canadian government denied his refugee claim (and there is no appeal of that decision). His pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) was, not surprisingly, negative as well (approvals are granted in approximately1.5% of applications made). Since the time of his last risk assessment in December, 2003, the political situation in Nepal has deteriorated rapidly, and members of Mr. B.K.'s immediate family have been kidnapped, disappeared and forced into hiding. Should he be returned to Nepal now, he is likely to suffer a severe human rights violation in the form of arrest, torture or death. Amnesty International has expressed "alarm" at the news of the deportation order, and declared that "given the overall deterioration of the security situation in recent months [in Nepal], Amnesty International urges governments to refrain from forcibly returning any persons to Nepal as they might be exposed to risks of grave human rights violations committed by the state and/or by non-state agents of persecution, without being able to access effective and durable state protection." Human Rights Watch issued a report in April, 2005 which reminded Canada that "International law is clear. Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited absolutely, in all situations and at all times, as is the transfer of any person under any circumstances to a place where he or she would be at risk of such abuse." United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour spoke in Toronto this week at the Canadian Club. The Toronto Star reports, "In her speech to the Canadian Club, Arbour warned about allowing an irrational fear of terrorism to undermine basic human rights and, in the worst cases, lead to arbitrary detentions and torture... Arbour also said the most pressing need for international intervention to curb gross human-rights abuses may now be in Nepal."

Stop the Deportation of Subas B.K. Please contact ANNE MCLELLAN AND JOE VOLPE immediately and let us know what kind of response you have gotten! Thank you!

Matthew Behrens
Toronto Action for Social Change

Anne McLellan
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
(also in charge of the Canadian Border Services Agency)
House of Commons, 306Justice Building, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
(613) 992-4524
Fax: (613) 943-0044

Joe Volpe
Immigration Minister
Rm 658, Confederation Bldg
House ofCommons, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
(613) 992-6361
Fax: (613) 992-9791

Monday, June 13, 2005

Kalthoom Warsama


Kalthoom Warsama and 6 of her children must show up for deportation to the US on July 12 or a federal warrant will be issued for their arrest. Only Ms. Warsama's youngest child (3) will be legally spared from forced deportation because he happens to have been born on Canadian state soil. Ms. Warsama has been offered the "choice" to leave her 3 year old here alone, but the remaining family members must leave, including 20 year old Hibo who has severe disability issues and is confined to a wheelchair.

After her eldest son, Ahmed, disappeared amidst civil unrest in Somalia, Kalthoom (then pregnant) fled with her remaining children to Canada to seek Refugee status. The unjust and often arbitrary Immigration and Refugee Board (whose decision-makers are political appointees) refused to recognize that as minority tribe members the family faced persecution. The Warsama's then filed to gain landed status in Canada on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds.

Immigration Canada, in the true spirit of Canadian "multiculturalism", is deporting the family before their claim for status is even looked at or decided upon. Kalthoom and her children (the youngest being 3 years oldand the oldest 22) will almost certainly be jailed in the United States and eventually sent back to Somalia. In the US the family will have no coverage for medical or essential support services. They will be without status in a desperate situation. Struggling neo-colonial Somalia lacks the infrastructure, basic services, or stability that this family- and particularly Hibo - desperately need. Ms. Kalthoom also fears that her daughters will be forcibly circumcised in Somalia and is strongly opposed to this practice. In the past, Immigration Canada has been forced to admit that unless Somali girls have broad family networks able to protect them from FGM, the risk of circumcision is too high to allow them to be deported. By technically deporting people to the US, the Canadian government is able to sidestep acknowledgement and responsibility for the family's obvious fate-that they are destined to be forced back to Somalia.

Less than 5% of Humanitarian and Compassionate applications are accepted by Immigration Canada, and it is extremely difficult for people to win if they are receiving government assistance. This policy is key in forcing Immigrants to become a super-exploited workforce scrambling to take the toughest, most low paid jobs available in order to make ends meet. This family has been forced to take themselves off welfare, despite their tremendous need for government support. For the last 6 months, they have been trying to survive off the money the older children are able to make at part-time after school jobs.

So, please copy and send the following message:

Joe Volpe, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration,

I demand that the family of KALTHOOM WARSAMA be allowed to remain in Canada and that they should be granted landed status.

[your name & address]

Sunday, June 12, 2005


To The Minister of Agriculture:

Sow stalls used in Manitoba's hog industry are cruel and unnecessary.

Instead, sows should be kept in groups, perhaps on straw.

Please follow the European lead and ban sow stalls in Manitoba.

Thank you,
[your name]

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Eco-defense speech-a-thon online: June 10-12

International actions will be occurring June 10-12, 2005, in solidarity with eco-defense/political prisoner Jeff "Free" Luers (, now serving a 23 year prison term in Salem, Or. Seattle will be joining in the support of this prisoner, all eco-prisoners, and our Earth, by offering an online Eco-Defense Speech-A-Thon during the weekend. Different speeches by inspirational eco-defense warriors will be rotated for the 3 days, available for free downloads, at (or The speeches will address a wide range of eco-defense techniques and issues, such as guerrilla gardening, monkeywrenching, Gandhi to guerrilla tactics, gentrification, the importance of direct action, permaculture, the FBI stealing Judi Bari's fiddle, and more! We will be featuring speeches from inspirational speakers such as Craig Rosebraugh (former ELF spokesperson), Judi Bari, Julia Butterfly, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Derrick Jensen, Alan Watts, Helen Caldicott, Jane Doe, and others. (This collection of speeches came to a Seattle activist via an anonymous source in the UK and she is sharing this resource in real time during the weekend, the speeches will not be archived online.) Join us in this celebration of courage in the defense of Mother Earth!

Jeff "Free" Luers Link:
Downloadable Eco-Speeches: