Toronto Event: West Coast resistance: video and discussion

September 30, 2007

West Coast resistance: video and discussion

Wednesday Oct 3rd at the U of T Centre for Women and Trans people from 6:30-9:00.

563 Spadina Ave

Room 100 (North Borden Building)

Hosted by Billie Pierre, activist

We will be showing a excellent film about the on-going native struggle against the Sun Peaks ski resort, followed by a discussion hosted by Billie about whats-what on the West Coast, Native Resistance and the anti-Olympics movement.

There will be loads of interesting literature to take home with you.

For further info email

ORB poll: 1,000,000+ Iraqis murdered

September 29, 2007
September 2007 – More than 1,000,000 Iraqis murdered

In the week in which General Patraeus reports back to US Congress on the impact the recent ‘surge’ is having in Iraq, a new poll reveals that more than 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have been murdered since the invasion took place in 2003.

Previous estimates, most noticeably the one published in the Lancet in October 2006, suggested almost half this number (654,965 deaths).
These findings come from a poll released today by ORB, the British polling agency that has been tracking public opinion in Iraq since 2005. In
conjunction with their Iraqi fieldwork agency a representative sample of 1,499 adults aged 18+ answered the following question:-
[…] Read more…

CBC Docs::638 WAYS TO KILL CASTRO::This Weekend

September 28, 2007


Democracy is arguably the greatest political buzzword of our time and is invoked by everyone – but what does it mean? Can it be defined, measured, safeguarded? Can it be sold, bought, and transplanted? In October 2007 a series of international documentaries will air simultaneously in 200 countries to a potential audience of over 300 million people.

Read more about this groundbreaking series and see what people are saying about democracy now.

Series debuts Sunday October 8 on CBC Newsworld


Please note that all films listed are 60 minutes unless otherwise indicated.




(Sunday September 30 at 7pm on CBC-TV)


Take a sweeping tour of our national pride – the vast, wild beauty we call Canada. This week, the Appachachians – fabled mountains that contain a geologic puzzle, a rich legacy, and the scarcely known threat of earthquakes.

Read more and watch an excerpt online.


(Sunday September 30 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld)


Some claim that there are 50 ways to leave your lover, but how many ways are there to kill off a political enemy? According to the former head of Cuban Intelligence, Fabian Escalante, there are no less than 638.

638 Ways To Kill Castro is a political documentary exploring the history of the relationship between the U.S. government and Cuba, told via the countless attempts to kill Fidel Castro. From exploding cigars to femme fatales; a radio station rigged with noxious gas to a poison syringe posing as an innocuous ballpoint pen, those who tried to kill Castro reveal every conceivable method of assassination.




(Friday September 28 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld)


To his family and friends in Cape Breton, Stephen Marshall was a quiet, sweet-natured young man. But, on the Easter weekend of 2006, his family, his community, the country was stunned by the news that Stephen Marshall had gunned down two men whose names he’d found in a Maine sex offender registry on the internet and then killed himself. The quiet, young man from Cape Breton joined a growing list of killers whose crimes are swift, brutal, incomprehensible. The survivors are left asking why. Linden MacIntyre and the fifth estate went in search of an answer.


(Saturday September 29 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld)


Mila works at Heaven, a little bar located in “blowjob alley”, a notorious magnet for sex tourists in the Philippines. Like many young women forced into prostitution, Mila hopes that she’ll be rescued from Heaven and taken to America for a better life.

Narrated by actor Kiefer Sutherland, Selling Sex in Heaven is a heartbreaking documentary that examines the sex trade industry in the Philippines and how this nasty but lucrative business traps many young women.


(Monday October 1 at 10pm PT on CBC Newsworld)


Paul Decarie rolls out of bed in his tiny apartment on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Shuffling to the bathroom, he gulps down some pills, lights a cigarette, and begins an intense monologue with himself in the mirror. Paul’s mental illness may have relegated him to the fringes of the city, but this is no delusional indulgence.

He’s rehearsing for one of the biggest nights of his life – his debut as a professional comic. When he steps up to the microphone, it will be the end of an incredible journey that began one year ago. That’s when 11 courageous people signed up for a pioneering course that teaches stand up comedy to people with mental illness.



Visit their website:

MMP update

September 28, 2007

“The Students’ Union…finally decided that MMP would be the system that ensures that Queen’s Park is truly representative of our generation and help create an Ontario we’ll be proud to inherit.” – Dave Scrivener, University of Toronto Students’ Union

Did you watch TVO last night? Immediately after The Agenda’s show on the referendum ended, campaign staff and volunteers started fielding phone calls and emails from interested viewers (yes, several folks were still in the office).

Today,  “Voting Reform Materials in 15 Languages Now Available.”
Yesterday, “Two-Tier Democracy: Under FPTP, Some 75,000 “Super-Voters” to Decide Oct. 10 Outcome”

We are asking EVERY volunteer and supporter to contact their Riding Captain*
(A) take 10 signs and stakes (optional donations welcome)
(B) put one on their own lawn/balcony/car and
(C) get the other nine up the neighbourhood

*Riding Contacts page:

SIGN SPOTTING: Adrienne sent in a photo of a lawn sign, up and visible on Maplewood Avenue, near St. Clair and Bathurst. Visit for the pics.

Volunteer Michelle had her bag of MMP leaflets stolen while she was handing out flyers. But the struggle for better democracy can’t be squashed: she came back to the office and loaded up with more brochures. Way to go, Michelle!

We have 12 DAYS left to make history. Whether you commit 12 minutes or 12 hours, we need your help to pass MMP and make every vote count!

This morning, academic expert Professor Dennis Pilon’s half-hour interview on CFRB radio morphed into a full hour because of all the interest in MMP. Meanwhile, keep sending in those letters to the editor! Sandra Noble Goss of Owen Sound had a letter in the Toronto Star today.

This new addition to our blog community gets kudos for the name: Sandwalk – Strolling with a skeptical biochemist

For an update on reactions to Ian Urquhart’s story in the Toronto Star, check out Liberals for MMP:

Other Bloggers for MMP have also been busy posting useful information:


Overheard from a Zip-Car salesman telling a customer, “Yeah, I’m voting for MMP. My girlfriend talks about it all the time.”

Rob McDonald, our volunteer/materials coordinator, returned from a visit to London with the following: “I was at the Returning Office, talking to these ladies who work there, wearing my ‘Ask Me About MMP’ t-shirt. Well, they did ask, “What is MMP?” They didn’t know, even though there were tables covered in literature about the referendum in front of them.”

Let us know what events are coming up in your community by emailing with the word “EVENT” in the subject header.

9/28 – Debate between Coyne and Blizzard at MaRS complex lower hall, 101 College Street, Toronto, 7 p.m.
9/30 – Pink Tea for MMP hosted by Electoral Reform for Women, Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, 14 Elm. Street, 3pm
10/3 – Save the Date! 11:30 – 1pm in Toronto. More coming soon!


Judy reports that turnout for the Ryerson University event, “was excellent, almost all students which is amazing, and good participation too.”

If you live in Toronto or Ottawa, please email and put “SIGN” in header — include your postal code and riding. Or DIY (do-it-yourself) by downloading graphics at


Check out the hilarious Ferguson videos on MMP and send to a friend:


Council of Canadians: Action Alert

September 28, 2007

ACTION ALERT: Support mixed member proportional representation

September 27, 2007

In addition to casting ballots in the Ontario provincial election on Wednesday October 10, voters in Ontario will be asked in a referendum whether they want to implement a new system of mixed member proportional (MMP) representation.

As reported in the Ottawa Citizen, under MMP, “Ontario would be split into 90 ridings, each slightly larger than the current 107. The “local members” would still be elected the old-fashioned way — he or she with the most votes gets sent to Toronto. But there would be 129 MPPs in total. The remaining 39 so-called “list seats” would be allocated based on each party’s share of the party vote. This is where the votes cast for political parties are important. If the party’s share of this second vote is greater than the number of MPPs elected in local ridings, then the party is awarded a number of “top-up” seats from the pool of 39 seats.”

For extensive information on mixed member proportional representation, please go to the ‘Vote for MMP’ website at

The Council of Canadians believes that MMP is more democratic than our current electoral system. It ensures a fairer representation of votes cast, and prevents a governing party from holding total power after earning only a small percentage of the popular vote, which is the case now with the first-past-the-post system. MMP would also allow for a better representation of parties, of people and their issues.

The ‘Vote for MMP’ campaign has an initiative called “Sign the Pledge: Yes for MMP!” in which you can “Tell the world you’re supporting MMP and in one sentence say why by signing the pledge.”

Your support is important. In this upcoming referendum, MMP must win 60 percent of voter support across the province, and it must be approved by a majority of voters in at least 60 percent of electoral districts.

For those across the country, please note that in February 2006 the Council of Canadians reaffirmed its support for proportional representation as an important aspect of electoral reform in Canada and called on the federal government to make this a priority and to consult with Canadians on a preferred model before its adoption.

Brent Patterson, Director of Organizing and Campaigns, The Council of Canadians

The Council of Canadians
700-170 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, ON K1P 5V5.
Tel: (613) 233-2773; Toll-free: 1-800-387-7177
Fax: (613) 233-6776

Referendum satire and some facts

September 28, 2007

I hope you enjoy this. My apologies if it offends your partisan interests but with less than two weeks left in Ontarians’ election campaign I can certainly use some laughter.


Also from the same site this excellent piece:

I’m getting frustrated and fed up with the arguments of the anti-MMP forces. We have the opportunity of a lifetime — to actually make our province more, not less, democratic. To make our votes matter. Don’t believe all the propaganda about giving powers to “power brokers” and candidates chosen by party bosses. In fact, MMP means you have two votes — for your party and your local candidate. He or she doesn’t have to be from your party choice. You can make a more nuanced vote, dispense with useless strategic voting and actually have that nuance reflected in the outcome. There is far less potential for power abuse than under the first-past-the-post system, which saw Mike Harris trash many aspects of Ontario, despite the fact that 55 percent voted against him. How democratic is that?

Also, under the MMP system, the NDP could not have gotten in power in the early 90s under Bob Rae, with only 37.6 percent of the vote. In general, as Linda McQuaig argues, governments would better reflect the will of the people.

MMP will stop the province from lurching from left to right to left and not getting anywhere. It’s long in use in Germany, where it has produced stable coalition governments — hardly a “banana republic,” as the anti-MMPers are claiming Ontario will become. And it will give the Greens some well-deserved power, likely giving our environment more protection.

If you’re undecided, check out the sites and articles below before making up your mind. The system as it is isn’t working. We need a change.

Ontario’s Referendum

On Oct. 10, we’ll be asked to chose between the existing, first-past-the-post system, and a form of proportional representation, Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). MMP ensures that the election results actually better reflects the will of the people, unlike the current system, where a government can totally redesign the province when 60% of citizens are against doing so, as Mike Harris did. MMP will avoid such abuses of power.

For more information, go to the Citizen’s Assembly web site. This randomly selected group of 103 citizens spent months studying electoral systems and came out in favour of MMP.

The CBC has an excellent and neutral overview.

Rick Salutin says the referendum is a no-brainer.

The Star‘s Rosemary Spiers deftly handles a lot of the criticisms of MMP here.

The Globe‘s Ivor Tossell, in his overview of web resources on the referendum, says that “the media more or less ignored the subject until Labour Day, then lurched into gear and started complaining that the man-on-the-street doesn’t know what’s going on.”

It’s not only many on the Left who think the first-past-the-post system sucks. The Post‘s Andrew Coyne effectively shows how undemocratic our voting system actually is, calling the resulting governements “legalized coup d’etats.”

Weltschmerz on Paper

Weltschmerz appears in print in Ontario and Alberta. It ran in Toronto’s Eye Weekly for 11 years. If you would like to see this cartoon in your paper, please write a letter to the editor. Editors wishing for information on Weltschmerz, please email lind at lindtoons dot com.

From Scott Tribe’s blog:

John Tory: show some leadership on MMP

Autumn simplicity

September 28, 2007

This evocative piece was written by a native sister in Montana. Shelley Bluejay beautifully expressed my own thoughts about the unfolding of this particular Autumn. I liked it so much that I wanted to share it here, with the author’s kind permission as always:

Autumn simplicity




Walking today along the stream there was no sound but the humming of life in all its simplicity. The golden aspen leaves whispered in sporadic soft winds, the lapping of water upon ancient stones accompanied the twittering robins flitting about the hawthorn bushes eating the ripe berries….but that was all the sounds to be heard this quiet morning. Two doe white tails and their little fawns seemed intrigued at their human companion in the woods and followed not too far away and the ravens danced about the sky above us. Logs were moved and ripped open by visiting bears and I rested in the midst of large matted grass beds where the moose have taken their rest here.




Such peace and connected atmospheres are so rapidly disappearing on Earth. I am so very honored to dwell here in the midst of the wild things. Many people look at Autumn as a dying time where plants dry and wither to brown, the blooming flowers with their accompanied bees and butterflies vanish and the quickness of life in the growing time of Summer quickly evaporates into chilled air. Having lived so much of my life outdoors in the wilderness, I thought that I understood Autumn very well and that I had come to be accustomed to the change held within it all. For some beautiful reason this year, all my preconceived notions are gone. I have begun to look closely at this time and all the inter-connected activity that occurs within the web of life in the Autumn season on the mountain.




There is a flurry of activity in this season that can go unnoticed unless you slow down to observe it all. Gathering of all the remaining food and denning materials needed for long hibernation seems the focus of the chipmunks and other burrowing ones. The bears eat non-stop to build fat reserves, as do the moose, elk and deer that eat everything green and lush before the harsh long winter snows. Birds begin their migrations and those brave enough to share the deep snows and long months of winter here on the mountain also are eating all day long.


The beauty in the simple things like the red fox appearing for a visit and suddenly showing off a thicker fur coat, the longer fur growing daily on the horses shows that nights frosts are triggering their bodies to prepare for bitter cold as well. Ants are now going deeper into their mounds and the creek too seems to slow its constant rushing to a quiet trickle. The antler velvet found on the bushes and trees are also a marker for this season when the elk, deer and moose begin their mating season and scrap the velvet off to leave only shining antlers afterward.



There is a sense of preparation this year more than others. Perhaps I am just getting old and knowing that there may never be enough time to spend wandering these quiet places observing the smallest things in creation before winter. Perhaps there is a message woven here for those who would pause long enough to listen. Our Elders have long spoken of coming times when the Earth herself would prepare for a new time. I cannot say for sure but this season out of all the 47 Autumns I have walked amongst the wild things seems to be speaking differently. Our traditions have always included celebrating the transitions of seasons and new periods in our lives when things were changing. I feel this change very deeply this season….this year and in this place…Earth and all her creatures seem to be mirroring that as well.




I wish that everyone could have a peaceful day like mine today where there was no interruptions by ringing phones, blaring sirens, traffic noise, neighbors or the constant humming of even the electricity around them. How I wish that each person had such a peaceful place to spend the time to simply watch life as it happens….slowly, quietly, and where a memory is caught forever in your heart and mind because it is the senses alone savoring the moment. I smiled today at such a memory when the sweet smell of autumn leaves on the ground beneath my feet mixed with the bright scent of meadow wild mint that had still enough fragrance to lift after I brushed against it. How many Autumns I have spent walking amongst the leave…listening to the hushed arrival of Autumn and savoring each sight, smell, sound and feeling that gathered with me to enjoy the passage to a new season.




I have always loved the description given to Autumn by Emily Dickinson:



“And thus, without a wing, Or service of a keel, our Summer made her light escape, Into the beautiful.”



I wish each of you a glorious Autumn and pray that you will get a moment of peaceful bliss among the wild ones and in the company of Earth’s creations.




Shelley Bluejay