Thursday, December 31, 2009


[This was written in haste originally intended for the Nova Scotian CBC: For more information about the history of prorogation, Max recommended the Radio Canada website to me. Maybe he meant this?]

I am emailing on behalf of my family, regarding the Prime Minister's choice to prorogue the parliament. It is totally unreasonable to prorogue the parliament twice in one year, given the many serious problems this country is facing. He must be under extreme pressure to avoid any contrary voices regarding, for example, the appropriation of unceded land for the 2010 Olympics and the torturing of prisoners in Afghanistan. It is inexcusable that the members of parliament think that they can walk away from these and the many other serious issues - energy dilemmas, natural resource profiteering, the RCMP, unemployment, etc.

Have a Happy New Year,

Friday, December 04, 2009


Honourable Minister Habib Ibrahim El Adly,

Please stop the extradition of Ibrahim Zautdinovich Mankiev, a 32-year-old Russian man of Ingush ethnicity, who is at risk of being tortured and might face an unfair trial, regarding the status of his passport, if returned to Russia.

Please ensure that the authorities of Egypt disclose his whereabouts, and give him access to lawyers of his choice, his family, and any medical attention he may require. Please enact the power of your position to ensure that he is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sent: November 23, 2009 11:26 AM

[check out the video]

Honourable Jason Kenney,

I am writing to you regarding the case of Simo Sandrine Massudom, and to demand that you immediately grant her permanent residency status in Canada. Ms. Massudom has been living in Montreal since 2006. She is the mother of two children, one of whom is Canadian-born.

The case of Simo Sandrine Massudom demands your attention because she had been granted her Permanent Residency status before originally arriving in Canada. However, Sandrine found herself in an abusive relationship with her former partner, who also happened to be her main sponsor for their family-class application for residency in Canada. As a result, like many other women all over the world, she was forced to leave her violent ex-partner and come to Canada only with her young son Ange.

When she arrived in Montreal in 2006, her permanent residency status was promptly denied because she had come without her ex-partner. Sandrine then made the legitimate decision to apply for refugee status in Canada as a woman fleeing conjugal violence. Her refugee claim was later denied, and so she has been forced to live in Canada without status. This has made accessing basic services, such as health-care services for pregnant women, and education for her six year old son Ange, extremely difficult.

Sandrine and her family have tried their hardest to make Montreal their home and to make a meaningful contribution to their community. Her and her eldest son Ange are both fluent in French, and Ange has made many friends in school in Montreal. Sandrine and the father of her newborn child are trying to build a family and a stable life in Montreal.

Threatening the mother of a newborn baby and her family with deportation to Cameroon is completely unacceptable. I therefore would urge you to immediately cancel their deportation order, and grant the family permanent residency in Canada based on their Humanitarian and Compassionate claim for refugee status.

Thank you for your attention into this important matter.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Thursday, November 12, 2009


(Refer to the label below.) FAO-Montreal urges Canadian authorities to use all the mechanisms at their disposal to ensure that New Gold obey the rule of law in its overseas operations, as well as at home.

To sign a petition in support of the people of Cerro San Pedro, go to


For those of you who were looking for Guerilla Composting:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Alliance Romaine's Fifty Marathons campaign

Running for our Rivers, is coming to Montreal Sunday September 27th 4:00pm-6:00pm, Café Fractal, Room SH-R380. 200 Sherbrooke Street West.

This will open your eyes to the controversial ways the electricity you use is produced! And what the people are doing to change that.

After 3 weeks of consecutive daily marathons, the runners are arriving in Montreal, our halfway point. As the traditional message runners of the past, they carry a message. They have accepted responsibility of relaying a message that has been given to them by the Cree of James Bay, speaking about the harmful social and environmental repercussions caused by aggressive hydroelectric development on their land. The message will be carried to the Innu on the North Shore who live with the Romaine river, the next river that Hydro Quebec wants to dam...
Coming to Montreal will mark an important moment. This message will have been successfully carried by foot for almost a thousand kilometers, to be voiced to the first large metropolis.
Speakers for the event will include Amir Khadir, MNA from Quebec Solidaire, a presentation by Fondation Riviere about their new energy campaign in collaboration with Nature Quebec, Daniel Green from la Societe pour Vaincre la Pollution will speak of local water issues, and members from Alliance Romaine. The event will be an eye opener to these important issues of Quebec energy, environment and ethics.

Sunday September 27th, at Café Fractal. Room SH-R380. 200 Sherbrooke West, corner Jeanne-Mance. 4:00pm-6:00pm.

Monday, September 21, 2009



Honourable Minister,

Seema and Sabir Mohammed Sheikh, originally from Karachi, Pakistan, were accepted as refugees in Canada in 2001. The Sheikh family has worked to rebuild a vibrant life in their Parc-Extension neighborhood of Montreal ever since. In a sudden and unexpected decision in 2007, immigration authorities revoked the Sheikh family’s refugee status. On July 14th, 2009, Seema and Sabir were forcibly separated from their children and deported to the USA. The children: Ashrah (26 years), Tayyaba (23 years), Sami (21 years), and Canadian-born Sabrina (5 years) remain in Canada, awaiting a judicial review that could grant a re-evaluation of their humanitarian claim. In the meantime, their lives are in limbo and their future is extremely uncertain.

I must ask you to do whatever you can, to ensure that Citizenship and Immigration Canada give the Sheikh family status on humanitarian grounds immediately, so they can live with dignity and security.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Algonquins place bodies in front of logging machines: prevent logging until Quebec and Canada respect agreements and leadership

This morning members of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake will peacefully block the machines of Abitibi-Bowater forestry workers, preventing logging in their territory until Quebec implements agreements covering forestry on Barriere Lake's lands, and the Quebec and Canadian government’s recognize the First Nation’s legitimate leadership.

“Our community has decided there will be no forestry activities or any new developments in our Trilateral Agreement Territory until the status of our leadership and the agreements we signed are resolved to our community's satisfaction,” says Jean Maurice Matchewan, Customary Chief of Barriere Lake. “The Quebec government has acted in bad faith, giving companies the go-ahead to log while they ignore their legal obligations, leaving us with no choice but to stop forestry operations until Quebec complies with the agreement. We have waited more than 3 years for Quebec to implement it."

Matchewan received no response to a letter he sent to Manager Paul Grondin of Abitibi-Bowater's Maniwaki mill on August 25, requesting that the company suspend logging operations until the governments follow through on their obligations.

“Our plan is to peacefully put our bodies in front of their machines until we get some results. We expect they may use the police, because we are used to such tactics. This is our territory and they can't push us off our lands," says Matchewan.

Canada and Quebec have refused to acknowledge the results of a June 24, 2009 leadership selection process that reselected Jean Maurice Matchewan as the legitimate Customary Chief of Barriere Lake. National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations, however, met with Chief Matchewan on August 19, to discuss the Trilateral agreement and other community concerns. The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, a Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, also recently reiterated their support for Chief Matchewan.

“Instead of acting honourably and cooperating with our Customary Council to implement these signed agreements, the federal and provincial governments have been working in unison to try and install a minority faction whom they can use to sign off on the cutting of our forest,” says Matchewan.

Barriere Lake wants Canada and Quebec to uphold signed agreements dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001. Quebec signed a complementary Bilateral Agreement in 1998, but has stalled despite the 2006 recommendations of two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative Clifford Lincoln, that the agreement be implemented. The agreement is intended to allow logging to continue while protecting the Algonquin’s’ traditional way of life and giving them a $1.5 million share of the $100 million in resource revenue that comes out of their territory every year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009



Dear Gobernador Constitucional del Estado de Chiapas,

I am deeply concerned for the safety of Sr. Mariano Abarca and other members of communities opposing Canadian mines in Chiapas. I was just made aware that Sr. Abarca was kidnapped by armed individuals in unmarked cars as he left a Primary Public School at the municipal capital of Chicomuselo on August 17, 2009. Mr. Abarca is an outspoken critic of destructive mines in Chiapas, and was preparing to organize a regional gathering of communities affected by mining corporations. Please launch an immediate investigation into the kidnapping of Mr. Arbaca. Please take the all means and measures necessary to ensure the safe return of Mr. Abarca to his family. It is high time that you take action to halt the operations of Blackfire and suspend further developments and the sale of concessions held by Radius Gold, Linear Gold Corp, Fronteer Development Group, New Gold Inc., and any other Canadian mining corporations in Chiapas until an impartial investigation is completed.

Communities in Mexico hold the right to free, prior, and informed consent for any and all mining operations on their territories. Mine opponents have the right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Institutions to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

In any case, please do whatever you can to protect the human rights of communities facing Canadian mining projects and the human rights defenders working on mining issues in Mexico.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Friday, August 14, 2009

Natives blockade northern Manitoba dam project

[I have stolen this story from CBC. I'm posting it in part to continue the Wuskwatim label posted earlier. I encourage those of you in Quebec to sign up for the upcoming marathon being organized by Alliance Romaine]

Members of an Indian band are blocking access to a $1.3-billion hydroelectric development project in northern Manitoba.

Some members of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation near Nelson House, Man., have blocked construction access to the Wuskwatim Dam project, a 200-megawatt generating station that is being built by Manitoba Hydro at Taskinigup Falls on the Burntwood River.

A spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro says the group is allowing people to walk through the barricade, but stopping vehicles from passing.

The protesters claim Manitoba Hydro is not living up to an agreement to provide jobs to members of the local band, claiming at least one-third of workers should be from the local area. Manitoba Hydro said there are about 300 aboriginal workers at Wuskwatim, of which about 44 are from Nisichawayasihk.

Hydro said it does not believe the protest is sanctioned by the chief and council of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. The dam is being developed as a joint venture between Manitoba Hydro and the Nisichawayasihk band. The project is the first time the Crown-owned power utility has entered into an equity partnership with a First Nations community on a generating station project.

Construction of the dam and generating station, about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg, is due to be completed in 2011.

Friday, August 07, 2009

New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Foods

Someone said to me recently that organic food is not about nutritional superiority, it's about living with the land in a way that's possible in the long-term. However:

Thursday, July 30, 2009



Dear Mayor,

I am writing this letter because of the ongoing destruction in Guelph of the most valuable farmland and most specieis diverse ecosystems in Canada, i.e., Carolinian forest. You must do everything you can to put an end - once and for all - to the irresponsible conversion of natural space.

I am given to understand that Peter Cartwright came up to the HCBP site to deliver a notice for eviction of the protestors camping there. The people were charged with trespassing. In my opinion, it is the ongoing use of natural spaces in Canada for industry and development that ought to feel the weight of the law, and definitely not the people who do us all a favour by trying their best to protect the land, upon which, ultimately, we all depend.

Although I am in Montreal, at McGill University, safely conducting research in a lab, my heart is with the defenders of the land. I wish I could stand with them. I hope that you will sympathize, and do everything you can to stop the eviction of these protestors.

The Jefferson Salamander, an endangered species, inhabits the HCBP site. I know that concern for the wellbeing of living things rarely actually infringes upon the progress of industry in Canada. But in this case, I sincerely hope it does.

Respectfully Yours,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Other Side of AIDS

Have you ever seen the movie "The Other Side of AIDS?" If so, please feel free to leave a comment. I don't know what to make of it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Frente Amplio Opositor

This is a different FAO, the Frente Amplio Opositor, besides the one you might typically hear me talking about, i.e., the Food and Agriculture Organization. I'm posting this link because they are opposing near/open surface mining. I would like to see such activity stopped within Canada, as well.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Forget Shorter Showers

Why personal change does not equal political change
by Derrick Jensen

WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?
Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.
Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.
Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”
Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.
I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.
So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.
Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.
The second problem—and this is another big one—is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”
The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.
The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.
The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned—Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States—who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

reposted: Toronto Teen Still Sits in Prison

The Story of Omar Khadr

Prior to July 2002, everybody who knew the young Omar Khadr identified him as a Canadian. He liked BMWs, basketball and action movies. He named a visit to the Metro Toronto Zoo among the best memories of his life. His father earned a master's degree from the University of Ottawa, and his grandparents owned a bakery on Toronto's Eglinton Ave. But, like the children of Canadian diplomats, Omar had a father whose work took the family overseas for long stretches of time.

When the gangly 15 year old was found crying in the remains of a bombed-out hideaway in Afghanistan in July 2002, politicians and media outlets refused to recognize Omar as a true Canadian, absolving the country of any responsibility for securing him a fair trial. According to his family, history was rewritten to avoid an uncomfortable truth.

"We were Canadian," said his older sister Zaynab of their time overseas, "it was hard to miss that."

So, did pundits and spin-doctors simply erase a Canadian child's past, to avoid risking uncomfortable relations with the United States?

Born into a family of two Canadian NGO workers, Omar was widely known as his mother's favorite child. Married to a workaholic and grieving the death of a young son, she latched tightly onto the 16- month-old Omar.

In 1992, 7-year-old Omar was living with his family just beyond the Dundas West subway station and attending first grade at the same Mississauga private school where all his siblings were enrolled. But his single-income family's sole earner was bedridden at Sunnybrook Hospital following an accident in Afghanistan, and so the Khadrs moved into a small apartment in the deteriorating neighborhood at the intersection of Bloor and Lansdowne.

Eventually,Omar and his family followed their father back to an orphanage he had built in the refugee camps surrounding Peshawar. Enrolled at the Ansar Scientific Institute, a private school that taught foreign families in the region, Omar found himself fortunate. As a Canadian from a devout family, courses such as English and Religion proved very simple, and he quickly excelled. "He was one of those students who worked hard, he liked his sciences," his sister Zaynab recalled, "though he didn't like math very much." During summer vacation, the family would often return home to Scarborough.

Like the rest of his family, Omar found that his father's frequent travels left him well- versed in local languages. In addition to English and Arabic, he also learned to speak Pashto while in Peshawar and picked up Dari from the refugees who filled his father's life.

After the Afghan Civil War had largely ended, Ahmed moved his operations from Pakistan into Afghanistan itself. Preferring that his children remain in the accredited Ansar Institute, Ahmed arranged for Omar and his siblings to be home-schooled for the next two years, returning to Peshawar to write their exams each semester.

When Omar's mother and older sister returned to Canada, Ahmed sent them a letter containing a cassette tape, on which he explained how Omar had transformed himself into a domestic caretaker in their absence, proving himself "very handy and very helpful."

The year before he was taken prisoner, Omar was virtually indistinguishable from any other young teenager. A fan of sports cars, Omar attended the February 2001 Auto Show at the Toronto Convention Centre with his cousin and younger brother. After passing over the Nissans and Volkswagens in favor of the Lamborghinis and Ferraris, the group got their photograph taken standing in front of the Batmobile. "We're fans of the Batmobile," Zaynab boasted, pointing to her brother's deadpan expression as she explained that he doesn't smile for cameras.

Even in Guantanamo, Omar speaks openly about some his favorite movies; Hollywood films like Die Hard, Harry Potter and Braveheart. "Who doesn't like Harry Potter?" laughed his sister, adding that watching Braveheart was a "family tradition" in their household. While overseas, Omar and his siblings would amuse themselves by going to the marketplace to purchase pirated DVDs. "We'd get the movie over there the day it came out...very cheap, maybe half a dollar," Zaynab recalled, proud of the purchases.

In November 2001, as the Khadrs joined the caravan of fleeing Afghans heading for the relative safety of Pakistan's mountainous border regions, Omar's brother Abdurahman was captured by the Northern Alliance. Not long afterward, Zaynab took his other two brothers, Abdullah and Abdulkareem, to Islamabad as she sought medical attention for her own daughter. Omar was now alone at home with his mother and his 10-year-old sister.

In the spring of 2002, Omar's father, Ahmed Khadr, listened as his 15-year- old son explained his loneliness ­ neither classmates nor siblings surrounding him anymore ­ and how he felt humiliated when his mother forced him to dress as a girl to avoid being targeted by Pakistani security forces. The elder Khadr offered his teenage son a compromise: He could move into a group home for young men if he promised to still check in regularly with his mother. The only son who had never been allowed out of his mother's sight, Omar quickly agreed to the deal.

A month later, a family friend approached the Khadrs and explained that he had some Arab colleagues staying at a small farm a few miles outside Khost who needed a translator to interact with the locals. Since Omar spoke both Dari and Pashto, it was agreed that he could serve as their translator and guide. "We had an orphanage in Khost," Zaynab explained, "so my brother knew the area."

It wasn't long before the teenage expatriate found himself in trouble. Although there weren't supposed to be any American soldiers in the area, Special Forces were drawn to the Arabs' homestead after one of them made a phone call that piqued suspicions, and a shootout between Omar's new colleagues and the Americans followed.

After the homestead was reduced to rubble by aerial bombardment and a pair of Apache helicopters, the soldiers entered and picked their way over the dead bodies. A sudden spray of bullets crashed against the walls around them and a grenade appeared, arcing toward the soldiers from a small corridor. Sgt. Christopher Speer fell, fatally wounded by the blast.

Turning the corner, an American soldier shot the lone surviving gunman and then spied the Canadian teenager with his back to the noise, kneeling in pain against a shrub. Raising his rifle, he fired two shots into Omar's back.

Although the Special Forces' report following the firefight stated that the dead man had been the one to throw the grenade, the military overseers stated that, with all the other occupants of the compound now dead, the United States would lay the blame on Omar and seek life imprisonment for the Canadian youth at Guantanamo Bay.

"They want him to suffer for the rest of his life for a crime nobody even believes he committed," Zaynab said angrily. While she admits it's possible he may have thrown the grenade, she points to crimes committed by other Toronto youth. "It's not like he just went into a shop and shot somebody," she said.

When asked, while still in prison, about his plans for the future, Omar replied that he wanted to become a doctor. "It says a lot," his sister whispered, reflecting on the past six years. "Working for charities and helping people" is a future she and her family would love to see for their beloved brother. A Canadian college in Alberta rose to the challenge last year, announcing that they would offset all tuition costs for Omar to attend post-secondary education.

But as Omar's hopes of attending medical school fade, they are replaced by the very likely scenario that he will spend the rest of his life in detention.

As Stephen Harper, then leader of the Canadian Alliance Party, summarized on the day the capture was announced in 2002, Omar represents something "dangerous to the Western alliance." And so he rots in a foreign prison, sacrificed on the altar of Canada-U.S. relations.

Monday, June 01, 2009



Honourable Governor General,

I am contacting you because I am appalled that Akwesasne is being blockaded by both American and Ontario police. The Kanien'kehaka (Mohawk) community of Akwesasne is currently blockaded on both sides of the border, owing to the community’s legitimate defiance of the order to have Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) be allowed to carry lethal weapons.The concern of the Akwesasne community is completely legitimate. In fact, most people in Canada would certainly agree, that the employees of the CBSA are not the kind of people we want carrying guns. They are infamous for their abuse of power and quite likely to kill people (innocent or not) if they are armed.The Canadian police must respect the fact that indigenous people should not have to abide by the artificial division of land that belongs rightfully to the original inhabitants!

Please take action to acknowledge the indignity suffered by Akwesasne. It is high time that decisions be made to officially recognize that the profit of Canadian industries is founded upon the expropriation of land and natural resources that rightfully belong to the First People.

Please take action on this issue.

Respectfully yours,

Friday, May 22, 2009



Subject: Protect Joel Vicente Zhunio Samaniego, Wilmar Fernando Mejia Reinoso, and Etelvina de Jesus Misacango Chuñir

Dear Prosecutor,

Please take action immediately to protect the lives of Joel Vicente Zhunio Samaniego, Wilmar Fernando Mejia Reinoso, and Etelvina de Jesus Misacango Chuñir. Their lives have been threatened by a government official. Etelvina was brutally assaulted in her home. They are members of organizations that are part of the Coordinadora Nacional por la Defensa de la Vida y la Soberania. They were targeted due to their legitimate protest against a meeting being held between the province's representative of the national government, some local farmers, and representatives of a gold mining company from Canada, which is operating in the area without a license.

So I must ask you to order an investigation. I must remind you of your obligation as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, to recognize the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders and their right to carry out their activities without obstacles or fear of reprisals.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Post Montreal Anarchist Bookfair Links

The links below are thanks to I've already referred you to some of them, but I figure there's really zero harm in citing them twice:

And the Annual Eco Prisoners Update.

This year I am again more than somewhat disgusted by the kinds of actions that we are calling ecodefense. A friend of mine explained it well, she told me that these kinds of actions, e.g., burning some SUVs, were easy for American urban kids to identify with. I could say that their half-assedness and ineffectivity make my blood boil. On the other hand, those who have taken these actions will likely be remembered as heroes, if the future is impoverished by today's capitalism. In the nearer future, I hope to see a list of the many rural people who are in jails in Canada, owing to the unbroken historical record of heavy handedness on the part of the RCMP and Canadian police upon the real ecodefenders: the inhabitants of the land who block logging roads and resist natural resource industries. It is high time for the law to respect people who defend the land. Industrial activity runs amok in the out-of-sight-out-of-mind woods. Clearcutting and strip-mining are rubber-stamped by Canadian environmental regulators.

Marie Mason (or visit
Daniel McGowan
Eric McDavid
Jeff Luers (or visit
Michael Sykes
Leonard Peltier (or visit or
John Graham (or visit
Jonathan Paul
Briana Waters
Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher
Grant Barnes
Tre Arrow
The SHAC 7
Jacob Conroy
Lauren Gazzola
Joshua Harper
Kevin Kjonaas
and Mumia Abu Jamal, of course.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The hopeful contenders

[check out this list. I am under the impression that social change happens according to the design of the group who can mobilize the most resources. Right? So, do you think these humble alliances can mobilize material resources to counter the movements of transnational monoliths?]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Somali "Piracy" Advocated by Knaan on YouTube

The link below is for those of you who are not aware of the ecodefensive quality of the recent actions taken by so-called Somali "pirates".

Friday, March 20, 2009



I am writing with regards to the March 6th murder of Alvaro Miguel Rivera in Cali, Colombia. Alvaro was the representative of Colectivo Tínku, a member of Planeta Paz, and the Polo Rosa.

As a signatory to many international human rights declarations and treaties, it is Colombia's obligation to ensure that human rights violations are fully investigated and perpetrators are brought to justice. Alvaro Miguel Rivera's murder is a clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which have been signed by Colombia. This crime violates fundamental rights enunciated in the Constitution of Colombia.

Moreover, the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity specify that, “Everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation” and that states should, “adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit and eliminate discrimination in public and private spheres on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” (Principle 2).

At a regional Level, the recently approved Resolution AG/RES-2435(XXXVIII-O/08) on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” in the framework of the Inter-American System of Human Rights, also signed by Colombia, directs its government to take all concrete and necessary actions to avoid human rights violations that people suffer person because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, especially if they are human rights defenders or LGBT activists.

Finally, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in its Communication dated March 12, 2009, condemns the murder of Miguel Alvaro Rivera and requests that the state of Colombia makes a full and fair investigation into the crime and punishes the perpetrators.

Please take a stand and condemn this particular crime publicly. As people in positions of power, it is up to you to do everything possible to ensure that similar crimes are not repeated in the future. Please protect the rights of your citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. I trust that you will give this issue the attention it deserves.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Timothy Schwinghamer
21111 Lakeshore Road
Ste Anne de Bellevue QC
H9X 3V9

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Subject: Tristan Anderson

Dear Stephen Harper,

Tristan Anderson (38 years old) is near death in an Israeli hospital. He was shot in the head with a tear gas canister at a nonviolent demonstration in the West Bank town of Na’leen, protesting the wall the Israelis are building to isolate the West Bank.

Are you capable of launching a full, impartial investigation of the shooting of Tristan Anderson? He is an American citizen. In any case, Canada ought to respond to the ongoing Israeli violence against unarmed demonstrators. As the Prime Minister of a peace-loving country, you could make some intervention at this time to demand real concessions from the Israelis and push for a true resolution.

I hope my appeal to your basic virtues is effective. I wish it didn’t have to be said, but: human beings should not be treated this way.

Please do not retain any dispassionate ambivalence toward the slaughter of civilians,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Subject: Omar Khadr and the need to fund research in organic agriculture

Dear Michael Ignatieff,

I am emailing you tonight to convey my family's thanks. We are joyfully anticipating your raising of the case of Omar Khadr in the company of the visiting American President. Please do whatever you can to get Omar back to Canada and into some kind of rehabilitation program. It seems to me that it is only to retain a friendly, safe, and happy relationship with the USA that Canadians have allowed Omar to stay in the Guantanamo prison. He has been and is physically ill, in tortured misery. It ought to be a crime to keep a young man in such misery. His being there is a weight upon every person in Canada, and an evil that degrades the nation. I hope I have conveyed our sentiments adequately, and I hope you take action on this issue immediately.

I have another reason to email you tonight. I was among the many, diverse attendees at the recent Guelph Organic Conference. While I was there, I spoke to Dr. Ann Clark. Her scholarship in the field of organic agriculture has been central in the organic movement in Canada. However, Dr. Clark told me that she would have to retire soon. She said that there simply wasn't any money for scientific research into organic agricultural techniques. At this time in our history, Michael Ignatieff, how can this be? How is it that – when our whole civilization is threatened by climatological crises – such an excellent and necessary scientist would be passed over? I hope that you will do what you can to push forward the necessity of funding toward the sciences that actually could enable people in Canada to live with ecological consciousness.

Good night,

Timothy Schwinghamer et al.
21111 Lakeshore Road
Ste Anne de Bellevue QC
H9X 3V9
phone: 514-398-2291

Monday, February 16, 2009




In the evening of February 7th, 2009, the Sikkim police arrested 41 anti-Panan Hydropower protestors from the Lepcha Reserve of Dzongu. The protestors were taken to the Mangan police station.

I strongly protest such an action by the Sikkim government. The arrest of these protestors violates the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Expression enshrined in the Indian Constitution. These were exclusively peaceful protests, which are legitimate, since heavy construction activities are going on at the Panan project without all the requisite clearances.

I am given to understand that, owing to the special powers enjoyed by the District Magistrate of the North District, and in the absence of any Resident Judge, the police custody of the arrested protestors could be extended to a week.

I demand the following actions by your office and the Sikkim government:
1. Unconditional release of the arrested;
2. Stop construction activities at the Panan project until all clearances are obtained; and
3. As per the demand of the ACT, review both Panan and Teesta IV projects.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Frontline voices of Indigenous resistance on Turtle Island

SUNDAY, MARCH 1, 7 p.m.
1455 de Maisonneuve West, H-110
near Guy-Concordia metro
Wheelchair accessible.
Event is free.

This special panel features frontline Indigenous activists who are resisting the destruction and displacement of their lands on Turtle Island (occupied "North America"). Speakers include:

Elizabeth (Tshankuesh) Penashue
Innu elder from Nitassinan (Labrador)
Elizabeth was born and raised into a traditional hunting and trapping family whose way of life was devastated by the flooding of their lands and the destruction of hunting equipment. Elizabeth has raised awareness andresisted the militarization and appropriation of Innu territory by NATO low-level military flying exercises out of Goose Bay over land that the Innu use for hunting and fishing. She has also opposed the further development of the Churchill River to power mainly settler communities in the south.

Judy Da Silva
Anishinabekwe from Grassy Narrows, northwestern Ontario. Judy is the mother of 5 children, fighting to protect the way of life of the Anishnabe people. She is active in resisting the environmental devastation and destruction of the land, animals and people, by logging and mining companies and the provincial and federal governments. She is currently involved in an environmental contaminants study of three northwestern Ontario Indigenous communities.

Introduced by Laith Marouf of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR). Laith has visited and worked in solidarity with various First Nations across Turtle island and has lectured on the similarity of the struggles forself-determination here and in Palestine. For the past decade he has organized with SPHR and currently is the Branches Coordinator at the National Office of the organization.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I Love American Barriers To Trade

I rarely post just how I feel about things. But I’ve heard so much “Canada opposes American protectionism” that I just have to write something to the contrary.

I live in Canada, and I support American protectionism. I am anti-trade. I am an enemy of the global market economy. I believe in bioregionalism and localized, small-scale economies. In this regard by all means refer to my “How to” post of October 4th, 2005.

I think that American protectionism is a big step toward the protection of the Boreal forest in Canada. The recent softwood lumber dispute was portrayed conventionally as a slight against Canadians by the big American forest industry. However, abominable wreckage is done to forests in Canada to feed American markets. There’s nothing dignified or professional about the forest industry in Canada. It is done in ways that are illegal, but the weight of the law never lands on the natural resource profiteers. In Canada, the weight of the law only ever falls on the people who try to defend the forest.

The Boreal Forest (just in case you have not yet been made aware) is a very large factor that contributes to the regulation of the global climate. Furthermore, it is the habitat of many beautiful animals and medicinal plants. I believe in the conservation of the Boreal Forest.

I believe in small-scale, sustainable forestry like that done by Nathan Keeshig on the Bruce Peninsula. Nathan takes extraordinary care of a forest that maintains – to the trained eye – its old growth dignity.

I hope that American protectionism will be the beginning of the end for natural resource piracy in Canada. The strip mines on Cape Breton Island and the Tar Sands in Alberta all have to stop.

That’s all for now. I hope you get me. Good night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Roberta Keesick needs our help

In early June, 2008 news that Grassy Narrows First Nation’s demand that industrial logging on their territory stop was met when Abitibi-Bowater announced that they would not be seeking a licence in the Whiskey Jack Forest. However the struggle is not over. While the chainsaws have stopped at Grassy Narrows, persecution of those that assert their traditional rights on the land has not ended.

Roberta Keesick, a Grassy Narrows clan mother, trapper, blockader, and grandmother, is facing charges in Red Lake Ontario for building a trappers' cabin on her traditional family lands without a Provincial permit. She has been a tremendous force in the grassroots struggles at Grassy Narrows to reclaim traditional land and assert the right of self determination. The act for which she now faces criminal charges is part of a process of reclamation and revival for Grassy Narrows where people are using the land on their territory as their ancestors have for generations; it is a critically important piece of the work that is being undertaken by the people of Grassy Narrows to empower themselves and to sustain their families, revive their culture and heal their community—this access to land is crucial for the healing of First Nations, and it is this right that is being challenged by the court with the charges that have been brought against Roberta Keesick.

Roberta’s trial date is in the spring. While they have found her a lawyer who will donate his services, he needs his costs of travel, and filing documents with the court, covered. These costs will be approximately $4000. She is seeking donations for a legal defence fund. The assertion of rights on traditional land is one of the most important components of the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights. This case has the potential to set an important precedent; Indigenous people have a right to traditional land use on their traditional territories. This case represents an example of the way that governments disable First Nations from sustaining and empowering themselves. Roberta Keesick’s actions—the building of a trapping cabin on her own family’s trap line—is a perfect example of how people from Grassy Narrows are asserting their rights through the straightforward actions of living an Anishnabe life. It is of the utmost importance that any and all of us who are concerned with Indigenous rights and the well being of First Nations communities, support the grassroots struggles at Grassy Narrows and in other communities and to support Roberta Keesick in her struggle to simply live her life on her land. Please donate generously.

To make a donation to Roberta Keesick’s legal defence fund you can send an email money transfer to Leah Henderson: With the security question: what is your favourite flower

Answer: sunflower

You can also email the above email address to find alternative ways of donating (i.e., cheque, cash, etc.)