Thursday, December 28, 2006

Complicity with pre-Christmas massacre in Haiti?

Montreal Groups call on government to denounce UN violence

MONTREAL, Tuesday, December 26 - At 3am on December 22nd, UN troops entered the Cité Soleil neighbourhood in Haiti's Port-au-Prince, and opened fire with heavy weapons. Reuters reported that at least 13 died, and 30 were wounded in the assault, all "believed to be civilians".

Today, Resistance Haitienne au Québec (RHQ) and Haiti Action Montreal (HAM) condemned the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians in one of Haiti's most impoverished neighbourhoods. RHQ and HAM call on the Canadian government to denounce the killing of civilians and ensure that those responsible for this massacre are brought to justice.

"If Stephen Harper wants to distinguish himself from the worst of the Liberal Government, he should work to bring those responsible for the massacre to justice," said Yves Engler of Haiti Action Montreal.

"Canada holds key roles in the UN mission in Haiti--ignoring the most recent Cité Soleil massacre will be another blow to the country's credibility," Engler added.

"This isn't the first time UN troops have killed indiscriminately in Cité Soleil," said Serge Bouchereau. "When UN troops killed 23 civilians on July 6, 2005, the Liberal Government was silent. Will Stephen Harper continue their quiet support for human rights abuses?"

Canada heads up the 1700-member UN police force in Haiti (CIVPOL), and has officers throughout the command structure of the UN military in Haiti. The UN mission in Haiti began after US, French and Canadian forces landed in Port-au-Prince and Marines removed elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide from the country.

"While Hillier was serving Christmas turkey in Afghanistan, UN forces were delivering a different kind of present to Haiti's poor," said Nik Barry-Shaw of Haiti Action Montreal.

"Is this the kind of foreign policy Canadians want?"

Monday, December 18, 2006


Dear Peter McKay and Galo Carrera,

My name is Timothy Schwinghamer. I am a graduate student at the Department of Plant Science at the University of Manitoba. I am contacting you because I am deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Oaxaca.

A group of 23 people from Huahuapan, Oaxaca, decided to leave a large Popular People's Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) protest in the city of Oaxaca to avoid confrontation with the police. When they got to the bus station, the Mexican authorities arrested them. Four children were later release, but the government labeled the remaining nineteen "highly dangerous" and sent them to a prison in Nayarit, twenty hours north of Huahuapan. These nineteen people are among over 400 arrested since June 2006 in connection with ongoing APPO protests.

My colleague, Matthew Wiens, a Christian Peacemaker Team Reservist, has heard reports that many prisoners have been abused and beaten. Some have received bail as high as $400,000, an impossible amount to raise for people who earn $1 per day.

I ask you to look into the arrests of these nineteen people from Huahuapan. The prisoners from Huahuapan include: Ciro Pedroza Guadarrama, Jaime Auieliano Martinez Gordillo, Maria Perez Gutierrez, Marta Mandez Perez, Jaime Legaria Ramirez, and Ignacio Legaria Hernandez. These six were all active with CACTUS, FENIC, and other organizations. CACTUS and other organizations involved in APPO believe that their protests comply with Article 39 of the Mexican Constitution that stipulates when a government (in this case Governor Ulises of Oaxaca) is not doing his job, the Mexican people have a right to remove it.

Please urge the Mexican government to free these political prisoners so they can be home for Christmas.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

2 things



My name is Timothy Schwinghamer. I am a graduate student at the Department of Plant Science at the University of Manitoba. I have chosen to contact you because I believe that the Canadian government should maintain the Canadian Wheat Board and supply-management mechanisms that support family farms. The Canadian government ought to protect the Canadian Wheat Board and supply-management mechanisms from the prejudiced impact of international trade agreements. Canadian farmers have not reaped the benefits of free trade that were promised to them. Since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into effect in 1989, exports have doubled but Canadian farmers have seen their net income drop by 24 percent. As the deregulation of agriculture increases and U.S. and Canadian standards meld, independent farmers will suffer even more. While the U.S. government may want you to eliminate the monopoly powers of the Canadian Wheat Board, I support the CWB and its ability to pass along a premium to farmers that would otherwise go to a small handful of agribusiness corporations. As the Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board you should defend this valued Canadian institution, not undermine it.

Sincerely and respectfully,



[The following was written by Matt Soltys.]

A while back, an idea came to me. Some people consider this idea clever, others, stupid. Some people even consider it threatening.

The idea was to inject humour into people's lives by spray-painting a politically satirical stencil, and to provoke thought on the use of the word 'terrorism.' I went out with this stencil -- an image of a bulldozer with the word 'eco-terrorist' below -- and at one point during a midsummer night, I turned, mid-spray-paint, to see a police car behind me. As the officer exited his car, I couldn't resist sharing a rare greeting -- "Well, you caught me red-handed." I was using red paint and actually did have some on my hand.

I placed several stencils around town, but only got caught with one. Two days later, after some negative press, my feelings shifted. It's not worth the controversy, I felt, so sought to avoid further problems by covering the remaining stencils. I asked a friend for help, and away we biked. Unknown to us, however, three undercover police were following my every move.

Given Guelph's numerous unsolved acts of sabotage targeting what passes for "development," the cops probably thought they had a lead. According to the police budget, each investigative officer makes approximately $45 an hour, so eight hours amounts to $1,080. Considering there are at least two shifts daily, and that I was likely under surveillance for more than one day, it is conceivable that the cost of following me reached into the tens of thousands of dollars. Surely you can think of numerous ways to more wisely spend your taxes.

The stencil's purpose, ultimately, was to encourage a rethinking of the word "eco-terrorism," and "terrorism" in general. These words are manipulated to suit the perceived needs of those in power, and their misuse has ruined countless innocent lives.

The word "eco-terrorism" has been created and actively promoted by people who are voices for the logging, automobile and chemical industries. Its purpose is to severely criminalize those who seek to stop destructive business practices. Thus, people who rescue animals from tortuous laboratories are called "eco-terrorists." People who, like the heroes in the children's film Hoot, protect forests by damaging construction equipment, are called "eco-terrorists." However, despite the media's labels, they are never charged with anything related to terrorism; the word is legally irrelevant and used solely as a propaganda tool. I am sure 19th-century abolitionists, who risked their lives to free slaves and torch their prisons, were similarly considered terrorists by those in power. What's next? Are the heroes of Captain Planet and Fern Gully eco-terrorists?

The point here is to show that a word's meaning is subject to the person using it. Consider, for example, the amount of terror created when an empty building under construction on the edge of Guelph was set aflame, in an attempt to make destroying nature less profitable. In comparison, how many people are terrified and depressed that their children will get cancer from the air, or that future wars will be fought over water, and recognize that Guelph's development policies are exacerbating an already grim situation? How many wild animals -- who are entirely capable of experiencing fear -- are terrorized by the ever-encroaching machines that destroy their homes and tear apart the earth?

What, really, creates more fear?

Through my ordeal, I have had the opportunity to speak with many people about their feelings regarding such topics. Most see we are heading for catastrophe, yet feel the options presented by those in power grossly under-represent the threats we face. Nearly everyone I speak with is frightened, saddened and angry, if they have not yet shut down due to the pain required by feeling.

I must be clear that I do not wish to undermine any fear felt by people who live near any acts of arson. Nor is this a plea for more people to commit such acts. It is simply a proposal to stop using the word "eco-terrorist," and that we discuss as a community what really does scare us, and that government and business leaders actually do something about it. Certainly, these acts of sabotage are a way of seeking empowerment after being ignored for far too long by those in power.

I am far from alone in recognizing that if we wish to survive this century, we need to drastically change our entire way of life. This will not come easily, but the danger my generation faces is too painful to fathom. The City of Guelph must take a stand and transition out of an industrially dependent way of life. Our lives truly do depend on it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Australia's first shipment of genetically modified canola is on its way to the nation's grocery baskets after protesters held it up

... for three hours at a Newcastle dock.

[This story is from the Daily Telegraph. There's a link to Greenpeace on the margin.]

Three Greenpeace activists were arrested today for chaining themselves to their cars as a dozen protesters blockaded exits from the floating dock at Kooragang Island, part of the Port of Newcastle.

They were trying to prevent international grains trader Cargill trucking 57,000 tonnes of Canadian GM canola seed to its Newcastle processing plant.

From there it will be shipped around Australia to producers of margarine, mayonnaise, canola oil and animal feed destined for the poultry and dairy industries.

"Greenpeace is taking action to prevent GM canola from sneaking into the food chain," Greenpeace campaigner Louise Sales said.

"Australian consumers don't want GM and have a right to know where this shipment is going to end up.

"It's appalling that food producers are undercutting farmers by importing GM canola from Canada that Australians don't want."

Cargill has said it imported the grain to make up for a drought-induced shortfall in this year's canola crop.

But Greenpeace disputes the trader's claims, branding them a "misrepresentation of the truth".

"There's adequate domestic supply to meet demand. The actual predicted grain supply this year is 440,000 tonnes and domestic demand is 318,000 tonnes," Ms Sales said.

"Cargill are bandying about figures of something like 500,000 tonnes, but the figures I've got are from the Australian Oilseeds Federation, their recent report."

Ms Sales said Cargill's true motivation was profit, as importing massively-discounted Canadian GM canola was much cheaper than flying over seed from Western Australia.

Comment was being sought from Cargill.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Top 10 Greenhouse Gas Emitters in Canada

  1. Ontario Power Generation
  2. Transalta Utilities Corporation
  3. Saskatchewan Power Corporation
  4. Alberta Power (2000) Ltd.
  5. Nova Scotia Power Incorporated
  6. Syncrude Canada Ltd.
  7. Suncor Energy Inc. Oil Sands
  8. EPCOR Generation Inc.
  9. Petro-Canada
  10. Dofasco Inc.

Monday, December 04, 2006



Honourable Minister,

My name is Timothy Schwinghamer. I am a graduate student at the University of Manitoba. I am very concerned for the wellbeing of Abdelkader Belaouni, who has been living in Sanctuary in St-Gabriel's Church, in Pointe St-Charles for 11 months.

Please grant Mr. Belaouni permanent resident status. I am aware that the Minister of Immigration has the discretionary power to grant Kader status immediately. Please listen to the hundreds of voices who stand with Mr. Belaouni in his struggle to stay in Pointe St-Charles.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Friday, December 01, 2006

Two more things


Petition for a Review of Hog Production in Manitoba

Whereas, the Clean Environment Commission (
CEC) will investigate the environmental sustainability of hog production in Manitoba; and

Whereas, a moratorium on new and expanded hog barns will be put in place until the
CEC public review is complete; and

Whereas, 17 or so hog barn proposals are currently “in process” and at least one of these proposals involves the probable degradation of a local aquifer that supplies drinking water to the
Swan Lake First Nation and Town of Swan Lake; and

Whereas, source water protection plans are a cornerstone of Manitoba’s new
Water Protection Act and a key element in ensuring a communities healthy water supply; and

Whereas, OlyWest plans to build a slaughterhouse in Winnipeg capable of killing 2.25 million hogs per year and is currently going into a
CEC hearing process.

Be it resolved that, all hog barn proposals currently “in process” be immediately suspended and included in the moratorium, and that this moratorium include the suspension of the
CEC hearings called for OlyWest.

Be it further resolved that, the
CEC investigation for hog production be in the form of a full hearing, governed by the Manitoba Evidence Act and allow for motions, cross examination, powers of subpoena and participant funding.

To sign the petition, click on


Rod Bruinooge
2855 Pembina Highway, Unit 27
Winnipeg MB R3T 2H5

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dear Rod Bruinooge,

My name is Timothy Schwinghamer. I am a graduate student at the Department of Plant Science at the University of Manitoba. I am very concerned about the cancellation of the
Court Challenges Program.

Equality rights and language rights for French and English minorities matter to everyone in Canada. They are entrenched in our
Constitution and they are a central part of what Canada stands for.

The Court Challenges Program is a key element of Canada’s justice system. The Court Challenges Program provides modest funds for test cases of national significance. Without the Court Challenges Program, most people have no access to their constitutional rights. Without it, rights are only meaningful for the rich.

The equality guarantee and the language rights in the Constitution should help minorities to be heard on issues that affect them. Cancelling the Court Challenges Program makes Canada a meaner, less tolerant society.

In the last election campaign the Conservatives promised that they would "articulate Canada’s core values on the world stage," including "the rule of law", "human rights" and "compassion for the less fortunate." Canceling the Court Challenges Program is not consistent with this promise.

Please show your support for human rights and restore funds to the Court Challenges Program immediately.