Tuesday, October 31, 2006

General Consulate of Mexico

Commerce Court West
199 Bay Street, suite 4440
Toronto ON M5L 1E9

Trade Commission of Mexico
1 Dundas St. West
Suite 2110, P.O. Box 11
Toronto ON M5G 1Z3

I eagerly await reparations for the injustices done to the citizens of Oaxaca. I ask you to take the measures necessary to put an end to the violent situation. Since Brad Will was shot, I have been observing the situation, and I am in solidarity with the people in their fight. I believe that the Mexican government is responsible for what happened on October 27, in the city of Oaxaca. I think that they have a responsibility to protect their citizens. I am appalled by the brutality that transpired:

  • At least three people were shot dead, include to Brad Will, a journalist with American Indymedia.
  • Thirty people were wounded, including: 25-year-old Francisco Angeles (son of a teacher of Cuicatlan), Martín Olivera Ortíz (wounded in the leg), Guillermo Garci'a de Zaachila (wounded in the back), and 25-year-old Enedino Cross Sanchez (hand was shot).
  • An undetermined number of people are missing.
  • Armed men surrounded the house of the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca and threatened members.
  • Groups paid by the authorities are shooting the civil populace in the street.

This situation ought not intensify in any violent way. I do not support the intervention of police forces in the city, which only oppress the activities of people and organizations who denounce their undemocratic policies. For these reasons I demand:

  • The immediate resignation of Ulises Ruiz.
  • The freedom of political prisoners.
  • The immediate return of the disappeared.
  • That the Mexican authorities return to engage in a dialogue with the APPO to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
  • The immediate end of any attacks on the Oaxaqueña population.

Any information of your undertakings to fulfill these requests would be appreciated.


In Case of Emergency

icePIRG, the University of Manitoba's Public Interest Research Group, is still very much in its formative phase. The "ice" in the acronym doesn't stand for anything but the long cold winters in Manitoba.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

To: pm@pm.gc.ca

Re: Canada joining the majority of the international community in support of a UN moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.

I am concerned and disappointed that Canada's new government has announced it will oppose a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling at the upcoming meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Given the known impacts of bottom trawl gear on the ocean floor, our lack of knowledge about deep-sea habitats and species and the complete lack of regulation on an estimated 75% of the high seas, it is essential that Canada take action. I urge you to join responsible nations like the United States, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. in their support of a UN resolution establishing a temporary "time out" from destructive bottom trawl fishing
Canada does not have any bottom trawlers fishing on the high seas, thus supporting a moratorium poses no threat to the livelihoods of Canadian fisher. It does, however, have much to gain. A moratorium on high seas bottom trawling would solve the long-standing problem of unregulated bottom trawling on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks.

In June of this year, your Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said that, "bottom trawling does damage to the stocks, and it does damage to habitat". Having acknowledged this, Canada has a responsibility to take leadership on the international stage and support a moratorium. By joining with nations like Spain (which is responsible for most the high seas bottom trawling) in opposing the moratorium, Canada is allowing the destruction of un-charted habitat in unregulated seas to continue unabated.

Prime Minister, please reconsider your position on high seas bottom trawling. Listen to the scientists, fishermen, Canadians and the global public who are calling for protection of deep sea life. Become a deep-sea defender and support a UN moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I'm posting the following for its informational value...


(I don't know if the Canadian military - such as it is - ought to be anywhere. I am of the opinion that the Canadian military ought to be made up of artists, concert pianists, contortionists, eco-feminists, medical doctors, etc. I think burly teenagers with guns are poor ambassadors abroad.)

Canada has all but abandoned peacekeeping according to “
Marching Orders,” a new report released by the Council of Canadians today. Launched at a press conference in Charlottetown, where the organization is holding its 21st annual general meeting, the report shows how the mission in Afghanistan has compromised Canada’s role as a leader in peacekeeping. “Canada has failed in its peacekeeping role, not by accident, but by choice,” says John Urquhart, executive director of the Council of Canadians. “Increasingly Canadians are beginning to see that Canada is in the wrong missionin Afghanistan.” According to the report, Canada has invested tremendous resources in the counter insurgency operation in Afghanistan at a time when UN peacekeeping is on the rise. Once a top contributor to UN peacekeeping missions, Canada is now on par with the tiny state of Mali with only 56 soldiers currently involved in UN missions. “Canada is freeloading on the UN,” says Steven Staples, author of the report. “Yet the evidence shows that UN missions are far more effective in resolving conflicts than U.S. missions, and the UN needs Canada now more than ever.” The Council of Canadians is demanding that the Canadian government set itself the goal of once again being among the top-10 global contributors of military personnel to UN operations within five years. “Canadians want their government and military engaged in resolving international conflicts, not exacerbating them,” says Urquhart. Steven Staples will be speaking in communities across Canada about the findings of this new report.


The WWF's Living Planet Report.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

But where will the fertilizer come from?

For a long time I have thought that locally produced food was the next best thing to organic food. However, the phosphorous dilemma has put the whole issue of localism into a new light. How can food be called "local" if the fertilizer comes from Ontario, or Togo? Check out the link below, there aren't too many years left of phosphorous mine-dependant agriculture.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Activists Push for Sustainable Mining

by Stephen Leahy

Civil society activists want the Canadian government to impose mandatory human rights and environmental standards on Canadian mining and oil companies operating in Latin America and other developing regions.

In the past decade Canada has been the world's biggest investor in the hunt for valuable metals and minerals in Latin America, Jamie Kneen of Mining Watch told Tierramérica. Canadian miners are responsible for environmental contamination and human rights violations all over Latin America, he says.

Canada has nearly 60 percent of the mining and exploration companies in the world; they generate more than 40 billion dollars annually, representing about four percent of Canada's GDP.

"Canada must set some limits on its companies," activist Lucio Cuenca Berger told a Canadian government panel holding an open forum on corporate social responsibility in the mining, oil and gas sectors in Toronto Sep. 12-14.

Cuenca Berger is a representative from the Latin America Observatory for Environmental Conflicts, a non-governmental organisation working with Chilean communities affected by mining, including the controversial Pascua-Lama gold mine project owned by Canada's Barrick Gold Corporation, on the border between Chile and Argentina.

There are environmental concerns that mining operations and waste rock from the Pascua Lama will contaminate the rivers supplying the nearby Huasco Valley where there are some 70,000 small farmers, Berger said through a translator. The 1.5-billion-dollar project's original design would have had a major impact on the glaciers, but was discarded.

Barrick, the world's largest gold producer, recently received environmental approval from Chilean authorities to go ahead with Pascua Lama, despite ongoing local opposition.

"In Chile environmental approval is more political than technical," said Berger. [Same here.]

The inability or unwillingness of local governments to enforce international human rights and environmental standards should not give Canadian companies license to ignore these standards, activists say.

One such company, Manhattan Minerals, spent years trying to force people in the northern town of Tambogrande, Peru to accept an open pit gold mine in the middle of their village before conceding defeat in 2005.

Communities in the Imbabura province in northwestern Ecuador have been forced to file an injunction to stop Ascendant Copper Corporation of Toronto from building an open-pit copper mine on their land, Keen said.

In Mexico, Toronto-based Metallica Resources' subsidiary, Minera San Xavier (MSX) has begun building a gold mine in San Luis Potosi despite bitter local opposition and court rulings against the mine.

Pierre Gratton of the Canadian Mining Association (CNA), which represents Canada's largest 25 mining companies, says some Canadian were ill-prepared for conditions in developing countries with weaker governance, unresolved local conflicts and weak environmental laws."

Clearly there are issues and problems and that's why we are having these CSR (corporate social responsibility) roundtables," Gratton told Tierramérica.

The current series of public forums, such as the one in Toronto, is a response to both the rising criticism of Canadian mining companies operating abroad and the commitment of the Stephen Harper administration to promote corporate social responsibility internationally.

Two more forums will be held, one in October in Calgary and another in November in Montreal. Based on that input, recommendations will go before the Canadian parliament sometime in 2007.

There are a number of international standards, such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the United Nations Global Compact, and the International Council on Metals and Mining Sustainable Development Charter, among others.

The CNA has its own standards and most Canadian mining, oil and gas companies have internal standards.

However, a September 2006 research survey by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict shows that only five percent of 584 Canadian extractive-sector companies with international holdings adhere to recognised national or international standards.

"It is abundantly clear existing voluntary standards are not working," said Omega Bula of the United Church of Canada, which partnered with Catholic organisations and others in the "Life before profit" campaign to improve practices of Canada's huge international mining industry.

Bula, like most activists at the Toronto meeting, insists that it is Canada's responsibility to set mandatory codes of conduct for Canadian companies operating in developing countries. Independent audits and a monitoring body would ensure compliance. Companies and company directors should be held accountable for non-compliance under stronger Canadian laws, Bula said.

Transparency is another requirement, activists say. Currently local people do not know how much money their government receives from foreign mining companies.

"The OECD guidelines are fine, as long as there is an independent third party to monitor," said one activist.

However, an industry official said Canada ought not to presume to regulate how a company operates in another country.

"If it becomes too onerous for Canadian companies to operate in developing countries, they'll leave," said Erin Airton of Vancouver's Platinum Group Metals, which has mines in South Africa and Mexico. "Then someone else will take the minerals."

Instead of setting mandatory rules, the Canadian government should help countries build their capacity to enforce their own laws and regulations, she said.

Kerry Knoll, President and Chief Executive Officer of Glencairn Gold Corporation, spoke during the forum on the social contributions of his company, which employs 1,200 workers in mines in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Glencairn provides breakfast for 500 children each morning and training programmes for adults not employed in the mines, Knoll said.

"We operate a gold mill for local artisan miners so they won't use mercury and pollute the rivers."

Knoll estimates his company has spent several million dollars on such programmes, but has been accused by NGOs of trying to bribe local people.

However he is in favour of a government report card or audit system.

"Financial investors are increasingly interested in the environmental and social record of companies," he said. "Making that record public would be a good thing."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

To: day.s@parl.gc.ca

Dear Stockwell Day,

I support Mr. Arar's plea for the government to act immediately and implement fully Justice O'Connor's recommendations.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Prime Minister
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A OA6

October 15, 2006

Dear Prime Minister,

In June, the overwhelming majority of members of the UN Human Rights Council voted to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was a momentous achievement for the advancement of international human rights.

The Declaration has been under development for more than two decades. Throughout all those years, Indigenous peoples in every region of the world have continued to be uprooted from their lands, subject to discriminatory laws and policies, and targeted for violence and repression.

The international community must send a clear message that such abuses not be tolerated any longer. The Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an important framework affirming the right of Indigenous peoples to maintain their distinct cultural identities and calling on states and Indigenous peoples to work together in a new spirit of partnership.

States as diverse as Norway and Mexico have agreed that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an appropriate and effective framework for encouraging and guiding the reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous societies.

It was deeply disappointing therefore that Canada was one of only two states to vote against the adoption of the Declaration by the Human Rights Council.

Your government has failed to provide a credible explanation for its opposition to the adoption of a Declaration that Canadian officials played a key role in drafting. I believe that Canada’s opposition to the Declaration was unnecessary. Canada’s opposition was harmful to the cause of human rights.

This Fall, the Declaration will come before the UN General Assembly. I urge you to ensure that Canada does not take any action that would delay the adoption of this vitally important human rights instrument or in any way undermine the positive message of its adoption by the international community.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

To: info@leader.ir

Your Excellency,

Please release Ramin Jahanbegloo on bail. I am seeking information concerning any charges and the nature of the evidence against him. Please inform me of the date of any trial sessions which may take place. I encourage you to drop any charges against him which relate solely to his peaceful exercise of his internationally recognized right to freedom of expression and association. If Ramin Jahanbegloo were to be convicted and imprisoned solely on the basis of such charges, Amnesty International would consider him to be a prisoner of conscience, and would call for his immediate and unconditional release.



Friday, October 13, 2006

To: pm@pm.gc.ca

Dear Stephen Harper,

Canada needs a National Water Policy to address the following:

  • The free market doesn't guarantee access to water.
  • Bulk exports could open the floodgates to trade challenges.
  • Canada's water supply is limited.
  • Public water is safer, cleaner and more affordable.
  • Water is essential for people and nature.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another instance of police brutality in Winnipeg

by Tamara King

Winnipeg teen says cops roughed him up on the weekend because of his skin colour. The 16-year-old was a passenger in a car that was pulled over by a pair of police officers in the city's North End about 9:30 p. m. Sunday.

As he tried get out of the car, the teen says a cop swore at him and told him to get back in the car. The high school student then asked the officer to "say please." [Cheeky!]

"That's when he frowned at me and told me to get the f--- out of the vehicle. [Would he have treated a white passenger with such contempt? And violence?] He grabbed me by the sweater and elbowed me in the face and he threw me to the ground, and both officers were kneeing me constantly," the teen said at a news conference yesterday.

"There's no reason for this. The only possible thing I have in mind is racism. I did not provoke anything."

After the confrontation, the teen was arrested. He said he was held at the District 3 North End police station on Hartford Avenue until about 3 a. m. Monday.

He has been charged with [as if] assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. The teen - who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act - denies the charges.

"Basically, I went completely limp, and they continued to beat on me," he said.

Winnipeg police spokeswoman Const. Jacqueline Chaput confirmed the allegations are being investigated by the Winnipeg police Professional Standards Unit - the unit that investigates its own officers.

At this point, the teen's claims are allegations and have not been proven in court. Lorraine Ducharme was driving the teen - who is a friend of her 16-year-old daughter - to his North End home.

Ducharme isn't sure why police pulled her over at Redwood Avenue and Salter Street in the first place, but said she received two tickets for seatbelt violations after her daughter's friend was loaded into the cruiser car. "It was just a reason after the fact. That's the way I saw it," Ducharme told the Sun yesterday. The teen's family says they're filing a complaint with the Law Enforcement Review Agency (LERA), the body that investigates complaints against police. As of yesterday, a complaint had not been filed, but a LERA spokeswoman said they are "familiar" with the allegations.

In a Sun interview yesterday, the teen's aunt produced a note from the teen's trip to the Misericordia's Urgent Care Centre. The teen said he suffered from internal bleeding in his ear, a mild concussion and a sore neck.

The teen is described as a young leader in the aboriginal and Metis communities. An army cadet who also plays hockey, the 16-year-old student sits on an aboriginal board aimed at tackling racism, his family says.