Ontario Coalition for Social Justice news and events around the GTA

May 2, 2008

This is the time of year when we all have innumerable things to do and meetings to attend before summer time. The exciting thing about poverty reduction is that so many people and groups are organizing, expressing their concerns, and pushing governments to actually do something to reduce poverty:

1) OCSJ ASSEMBLY MAY 10

FROM POVERTY TO ECONOMIC SECURITY

A Forum to Reduce Poverty in Ontario

Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

at USWA Hall, 25 Cecil St, Toronto

[south of College St., and 2 blocks west of subway stop at College &

University]

Agenda highlights (more info to follow):

• Shine a light on poverty in the province

• Recommend ways to reduce poverty and increase social justice

• Learn about the Provincial Government’s plans for poverty

reduction — with Cheri DiNovo, MPP (Parkdale-High Park) and we have also

invited the Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction to send a

representative.

• Mobilize for public input into the process

Open at no cost to all activists interested in social justice — labour,

student, aboriginal, women, ethno-racial, and other equity-seeking groups

2) ONTARIO GOVERNMENT & POVERTY REDUCTION

Deb Matthews, MPP (London North Centre), as Chair of Ontario’s Cabinet

Committee on Poverty Reduction, is clearly the committee’s public voice in

explaining its intentions about consulting people to develop

recommendations within this year to reduce poverty in the province. The

Minister spoke to very well attended meetings last week which were

organized by the 25 in 5 network and also by ISARC.

It was frustrating for community groups that the Cabinet Committee did not

take advantage of those highly publicized events to announce its

consultation schedule. However, we are assured that the schedule will be

announced soon.

3) LABOUR & COMMUNITY CONCERNS ABOUT POVERTY

**ABORIGINALS

One current dispute between aboriginals in Ontario and authorities in

Government concerns aboriginal land rights and their assumption that

consulting them is an elementary right before a mining company, for

example, uses lands that they claim belong to them.

In northwestern Ontario, the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inniuwig (KI) aboriginals,

and around Sharbot Lake west of Ottawa, the Ardoch Algonquin aboriginals,

are opposing the drilling for minerals on their lands. Yet despite their

peaceful claims, leaders of the bands in each region have been sentenced

to six months in jail because of their public claims. Apparently, both

the Premier and the Ontario Attorney General (AG) have offered the

aboriginal leaders money to fight these disputes legally, but Mr. McGuinty

and Mr. Bryant each claim that they cannot interfere with a court process,

and so cannot order the aboriginal leaders’ release.

**CANADIAN AUTO WORKERS

The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) are initiating campaign schools to focus

on retaining jobs as part of the union’s campaign to help its members, but

as part of its strong belief that jobs, especially good jobs that offer

benefits to workers too, is one of the best ways to eradicate poverty. As

well, the CAW is encouraging municipalities to adopt a policy to buy

Canadian products for all public purchases as a further means of

protecting jobs in the province.

A series of schools began this past weekend for workers in St.

Catharine’s, Niagara Falls, Welland, Thorold, and Pelham in the Niagara

region, and schools will also be held in Kitchener-Waterloo on May 3, in

Windsor on May 10, and in Oshawa on May 24.

**COLLEGE PART-TIME WORKERS

The organizing by OPSEU staff among 12,500 part-time workers at community

colleges to join the union has been recognized at last by John Milloy, MPP

(Kitchener Centre), Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, &

Universities. The Minister said yesterday that the government plans to

introduce legislation this spring permitting the workers to gain

bargaining rights.

**COMMUNITY MOBILIZING

##The 25 in 5 forum on poverty reduction on April 14 attracted almost 500

activists who urged the Ontario Government to take serious action now on

reducing poverty. The network’s principles and actions are available at

Toronto’s social planning council website at

##The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) attracted a

further 100 activists from faith communities to urge the Government to

accomplish the same goal.

ISARC will be consulting local faith groups with whom they work to

organize meetings where people will be able to discuss how faith groups

can contribute to urging government action. Its tour is to be planned for

London, Hamilton, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay.

Minister Deb Matthews spoke at each of these forums, and stayed long

enough at each one to hear from a number of diverse activists, including

persons living in poverty, persons receiving each of Ontario Works and

Ontario Disability Support Program income.

##The Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) has been consulting with a

number of communities about co-operative action on urging government

action and will continue to do so in a location to be announced for

talking with Canadian Association of Community Living on April 24, in

Cambridge on April 25, in Cornwall on April 28, and in Ottawa on May 7.

Details, times, and contact information for these meetings can be found at

a new website initiated by the SPNO called Poverty Watch Ontario and

**ENVIRONMENT & WATER

##The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has renewed a permit granting a

unit of Nestle Canada Inc the right to continue extracting up to 3,600,000

litres of groundwater each day near Guelph to then sell as spring water.

This decision raises so many issues, like the token fees paid by a

transnational corporation to profit from water which may be needed by the

increasing population in the Guelph region, that it defies rational

belief! Local concerns can be read at the website of Wellington Water

##A much more positive decision for the health of students and staff at

schools in the Waterloo Region was taken by the District School Board

which has banned the sale of plastic bottles of water in its schools as of

next year.

**IMMIGRANTS / REFUGEES

##There are increasing numbers of unions and community groups which are

expressing their criticisms of the federal government’s proposed

amendments to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as

amounting to giving the Immigration Minister far too much power and

discretion about who and how many persons will be allowed to enter Canada.

The Canadian Arab Federation, the Chinese Canadian National Council, the

union UNITE HERE, and the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) are some

of the increasing numbers of critics.

One clear event that will attract many people is being organized by No One

Is Illegal for a rally on May 3, cited below in the events section.

##An excellent Federal Tax Court judgment was issued a few days ago in

B.C. whereby the judge criticized the widespread exploitation of migrant

agricultural workers as reminiscent of scenes from author John Steinbeck’s

The Grapes of Wrath. The determined work by the United Food & Commercial

Workers (UFCW) across the country, including in both Ontario and B.C., and

also the community activists from Justicia 4 Migrant Workers, will be able

to rely on this judgment for their advocacy for migrant workers from now

forwards.

4) POVERTY: FOCUS OF COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT

Parliament’s HUMA Committee (Human Resources and Social Development) has

begun its study on a poverty plan for Canada. The committee plans 3 or 4

meetings to discuss an overview of poverty in Canada; 2 to 4 meetings to

compare poverty in Canada with that in countries like the U.K. and

Ireland, from which Canada may learn ideas which could be used here; and 6

to 10 meetings to discuss how the federal government can contribute to a

poverty reduction strategy in Canada.

To ask to appear, or to learn about submitting a written brief, contact

HUMA Committee clerk Jacques Mazaide, Room 6-37, 131 Queen Street, House

of Commons, Ottawa, Ont K1A 0A6, Tel: (613) 996-1542, Fax: (613) 992-1962,

or E-mail: HUMA@parl.gc.ca

An active M.P. from Ontario on the committee is Tony Martin, M.P. (Sault

Ste. Marie) assisted by Rick Prashaw, Tony’s Legislative Assistant,

available at MartiTo0@parl.gc.ca Information about the hearings is

available on Tony’s website

5) FAIR VOTE IN ONTARIO

The numerous supporters of a fairer voting system for Ontario, and for

other provinces, as well as for the federal level of government, are

rejuvenating the campaign in Ontario to stimulate public awareness of the

need for changing or reforming the voting system. Activists in Fair Vote

Ontario are interested in discussing their concerns in meetings and events

and are planning now to organize a major public forum next autumn to

highlight what is needed to be done to achieve change.

Information about these concerns, and also how to join others in your

neighbourhood to learn about and to support change, is available at

6) EVENTS

May 3

The Toronto & York Region Labour Council and its Equity Committee

is hosting the sixth Workers of Colour and Aboriginal Workers’ conference.

It starts at 9:00 a.m., costs $40 including lunch, and takes place at the

OFL building, 15 Gervais Dr. For information, contact Ana Fonseca at

afonseca@labourcouncil.ca or at (416) 441-3663 x221.

May 3

No One Is Illegal is organizing a rally at 12:00 p.m. at Christie

Pits Park, across from the Christie subway stop in Toronto, to protest

unfair deportations of immigrants and refugees to Canada.

May 10 The OCSJ spring assembly and AGM will take place from 10:00 a.m.

till 4:00 p.m. in Toronto at the Steelworkers’ Hall at 25 Cecil St., near

the Queen’s Park subway stop. For information, contact John Argue at

info@ocsj.ca or (416) 441-3714.

May 10

The London and District Labour Council is hosting a joint activist

forum from 10:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m., in the common room of the Tolpuddle

Housing Co-op at 380 Adelaide St. N. The forum title is “Turning

globalization around with grass-roots activists”, with a Latin American

focus because of concerns in London about what’s happening in Colombia, in

particular, and incidentally, the city’s increasing Spanish-speaking

population. Information about the forum is available from (519) 645-3108.

John Argue, Co-ordinator

Ontario Coalition for Social Justice

15 Gervais Dr., #305

Toronto, Ont., M3C 1Y8

(416) 441-3714


Immigration Committee Votes to Let War Resisters Stay

December 13, 2007

WAR RESISTERS SUPPORT CAMPAIGN

www.resisters.ca            416 598 1222

 

Dec. 7, 2007

 

IMMIGRATION COMMITTEE CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO LET WAR RESISTERS STAY IN CANADA

 

The War Resisters Support Campaign is celebrating a victory for the war resisters! 

 

At yesterday’s meeting of the Citizenship and Immigration Committee of the House of Commons, a motion was passed that calls on the Canadian Government to let US war resisters stay in Canada. The motion was introduced by Jim Karygiannis (Lib — ScarboroughAgincourt), and passed by a vote of 7 — 4. The Liberal, Bloc, and NDP members of the committee joined together to override the opposition of the Conservative committee members.

 

The motion reads as follows:

 

The Committee recommends that the government immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members (partners and dependents), who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations and do not have a criminal record, to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and that the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions that may have already commenced against such individuals.

 

The Campaign is deeply grateful to Mr. Karygiannis and the others Committee members who voted for the motion. We are especially grateful to Olivia Chow (NDP — Trinity-Spadina) for her hard work on preparing the ground for this important victory, and for her strong support generally.

 

The motion is a clear and unequivocal statement of support for the war resisters, and even goes further than supporting US Iraq War resisters, to include conscientious objectors from “all wars not sanctioned by the United Nations”. If implemented, this motion would truly make Canada a “refuge from militarism”.

 

The next step is to bring the motion to the full House of Commons. Given that the three Opposition parties all voted for the motion in Committee, it’s a good bet they would do so in the House, and it would pass there too. This would put severe pressure on the Government to move ahead on this, and would send a powerful message that the elected representatives of the Canadian people welcome the war resisters to Canada.

 

We will need to redouble our efforts now to make sure that the Government stops its efforts to deport war resisters, and to make sure that the House and the Government take action on the motion passed by the Immigration Committee.

 

We thank all the hundreds of Canadians and Americans who wrote letters, phoned, and lobbied Members of Parliament to support the war resisters. These efforts were essential in bringing about yesterday’s success. This outpouring of support has given great encouragement to the war resisters and their families, and has helped to make them feel welcome in Canada.

 


Support Ethiopian Family Separated by ImmigrationCanada

November 6, 2007

Aiyen Omer became a refugee in 2000 and filed soon after to bring her children to Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), sat on the application for 5 years, finally denying the sponsorship based on the children being more than 22 years. This is an error in law, Immigration

Canada’s own rules state that the date where age is to be considered is the date when the application is FIRST filed, in Aiyen’s case this was in 2001, her children were then well below 22 years, the age of cut off.

Immigration Canada’s decision has destroyed Ms Omer. Her legal counsel is filing to re-open the application, based on the error in law, but community support is urgently needed.

Aiyen Omer needs her children’s support to help with her serious medical conditions. Immigration Canada and Minister Diane Finley can choose to correct this situation. Aiyen Omer needs and deserves to be with her family.

HELP AIYEN OMER BE REUNITED WITH HER CHILDREN

* Please sign the petition at:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/UniteAiyenOmerandherfamily/

* Write a letter to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Diane Finley.

(Please see sample letter).

IMPORTANT: Please send your letter to OCAP and not the minister directly as we will be delivering letters and petition en masse.

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

Attn: Mac

10 Britain Street

Toronto, ON

M5A 1R6


Sample Letter

The Honourable Diane Finley,

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration,

Parliament Hill

Room 707, Confederation Bldg House of Commons

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0A6

Dear Ms Finley,

RE: OMER, Aiyen

Client ID No.: 3940 3714

I am writing to express my support for Ms Aiyen Omer and her family (Client ID No.: 3940 3714). Ms Omer is a refugee from Ethiopia (she was found to be a refugee in 2000) and applied to bring her three children from Ethiopia after winning her hearing (her children are Nuwera Ahmed Ali born 1980, Narima Ahmed Ali born 1981 and Sozit Ahmad born 1984).

Unfortunately Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) mistakenly refused the children’s application in 2006 based on their age at the time CIC made the decision (which I believe is an error against CIC procedures).

Since this decision, Ms Omer’s separation from her children has resulted in a serious decline in her health, which had already been destroyed by the experiences leading to her flight to Canada. Her doctor has stated that she is “…in urgent need of family presence to assist her…” Ms Omer suffered from a recent stroke, from heart disease and a number of other ailments. Her social worker has stated that her emotional state is “…heart broken and defeated…” but that she nevertheless holds hope that she shall some day be reunited with her family.

As such, I would ask that you use your discretion under section 25 (1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and re-open her children’s application to come to Canada. An error in law was made which has had a terrible impact on Ms Omer and her family, and we rely upon your compassion to take steps to correct it.

Yours truly,

Your name

Your address

**

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

10 Britain St. Toronto, ON M5A 1R6

416-925-6939 ocap@tao.ca www.ocap.ca

**


OPIRG-Toronto: October Calendar

October 10, 2007

OPIRG-Toronto: OCTOBER CALENDAR

1. Oct. 11 Film Screening: NEW WORLD BORDER

2. Oct. 17 NO ONE IS ILLEGAL STUDENT MEETING

3. Oct. 20 NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION TO STOP SECRET TRIALS

4. Oct. 20 Film Screening: THREADBARE

5. Oct. 23 CRITICAL AREA STUDIES MEETING

6. Oct. 27 ANNUAL NEW COLLEGE CONFERENCE ON RACISM AND NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS

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1. Film Screening: NEW WORLD BORDER

Thursday, October 11, 2007

7:15pm

Bahen Centre (40 St. George Street), Room 1240

No One Is Illegal-Toronto invites you to a film screening of New World Border.  Every year, thousands die trying to cross borders, while many more are brutally arrested and deported.  New World Border looks at the US-Mexico border and explores the rise in migrant deaths accompanying the

rise in spending on “homeland security.”  The film also looks at the global reality of the free movement of goods and money across borders and the ever increasing criminalization of those seeking to escape poverty and war in order to survive.

The film will be followed with a short discussion of the current struggle for migrant rights in Canada.

This event is free and all persons are welcome.

For more information:

No One Is Illegal-Toronto

nooneisillegal@riseup.net

http://nooneisillegal.org

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2.  NO ONE IS ILLEGAL- STUDENT MEETING ALL ARE WELCOME!

Wednesday, October 17

4-6pm

OPIRG Office (563 Spadina Ave, North of College on East Side)

We are a campus based affiliate to No One Is Illegal-Toronto, a group of immigrants, refugees and allies that fights for the rights of all migrants to live with dignity and respect. We struggle against detentions and deportations and fight for status for all! On campus we are working to build an Education, Not Deportation: Access Without Fear Campaign to demand that all students regardless of their immigration status have access without fear to education.

For more info contact:

No One Is Illegal-Toronto

Email: nooneisillegal@riseup.net

Website: http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org

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3. JUST SAY NO TO SECRET TRIALS IN CANADA

Saturday, October 20

12noon

277 Front St. West (at John St.)

Join the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials for a Peaceful Toronto Rally and Walk. They will be marching from CSIS through downtown and stopping at the Federal Court of Canada and ends at a potent symbol of Canada’s paranoia and misplaced priorities, Moss Park Armoury (Queen East and Jarvis).

Part of the Day of Action from Coast to Coast to Coast

BACKGROUND

The six-year campaign against secret trials won a major victory in February when the Supreme Court ruled that security certificates were unconstitutional.

However, the Harper government has already announced that it will introduce NEW security certificate legislation this fall. This is likely to be based on the ‘special advocate’ model, which will further entrench the use of secrecy in the immigration and justice systems.

Harper will be asking us to accept a new kind of unfair, secret trial and a different way of practicing racism. His government will be counting on Canadians to continue to accept the violation of the rights of immigrants, indefinite detention/house arrest and the practice of holding people under threat of deportation to torture.

The decision to introduce new security certificate legislation is an affront to democracy and to justice. No amount of tinkering can make a process fair that is essentially discriminatory, applying only to people without citizenship status. It is a process that relies on the alleged good faith of spy agencies and politicians, that replaces precise charges with vague concepts, that uses secret suspicions, profiling and association instead of evidence, and that has no end except deportation to further torture. It assumes immigrants are potential “threats to national security”. It cannot be reformed, and must be eliminated.

Let’s oppose new legislation that will only feed the national security agenda and allow CSIS to continue to target certain communities with impunity.

Let’s insist that the secret trial five, along with their families, be freed from the daily humiliation and indignity of draconian house arrest conditions and the ongoing threat of deportation under an unconstitutional law.

Join us on Saturday, October 20th to resist racist paranoia and send a resounding message to the government:

* No New Security Certificates;

* Immediately free the five from all conditions or charge them and provide them with a full, fair, and open trial;

* End deportation proceedings against the five;

* End deportations to torture; and

* Close “Guantanamo North”.

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4. Film Screening: THREADBARE

Saturday, October 20 @ 7pm

at The Brunswick Theatre

296 Brunswick Ave (west of Spadina, just south of Bloor St)

Tickets: $10 waged, $5 unwaged/students/seniors

No One Is Illegal-Toronto invites you to a screening of Threadbare. In August 2003, 24 South Asian Muslim men were arrested in pre-dawn raids, accused of having links to al-Qaeda, and thrown in maximum security prison. They were never charged, no evidence was ever brought against them in court, yet they were still brutally deported; their lives ruined.

On the National Day of Action to Stop Secret Trials, join us to learn about Canada’s history of criminalizing immigrants and refugees, and using the guise of national security to scapegoat Arabs and Muslims.

For more info, check out: toronto.nooneisillegal.org

or email nooneisillegal@riseup.net

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5. CRITICAL AREA STUDIES ACTION GROUP MEETING

Tuesday, October 23

4pm

OPIRG office (563 Spadina Ave)

We are a student-led organisation whose goals are to improve the state of the programs known as Area Studies at U of T, and to illustrate connecting issues of colonialism, equity, and diversity. Join us to kick-start our organising for 2007-2008 school year.

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6. ANNUAL NEW COLLEGE CONFERENCE on RACISM AND NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS

Saturday, October 27

10 am  – 5:30 pm

Wetmore Hall 21 Classic Avenue at Spadina

New College, University of Toronto

*EUROCENTRISM * IMPERIALISM * COLONIALISM * RACISM *

This conference is free and open to all. Each year for the past five years it has attracted over 300 scholars, students, activists, writers, community and cultural workers from a wide spectrum of interests. Lunch will be provided. Please register  at < nc.programs@utoronto.ca>

well ahead of the date so we can cater for everyone.

Tentative Program

10. am – 11.30 am -> Keynote Speaker: Ella Shohat.

Topic: “The Idea of Eurocentrism”

11.30 – 12 noon -> Discussion

12 – 12.30 pm  -> Lunch

12.30 pm – 1.30pm -> Imperialism and Child Raising

Practices (Panel I)

Speaker: Angela Aujla

Topic: “The Dissemination of Imperial Discourse

Through Contemporary Children’s Literature”

Speaker: Marianne Vardalos

Topic: “Raising Good Global Citizens: Liberal Humanism

as a Philanthropic Rationale for Imperialism”

1.30 – 2 pm -> Discussion

2pm – 2.15pm -> Break

2.15 – 3.15pm -> Canada’s Colonial Imperial Racism –

from Central Africa to Haiti (Panel II)

Speakers: Steve da Silva and Kabir

Joshi-Vijayan

3.15 – 3.30pm -> Discussion

3:30 – 3:45pm -> BREAK

3.45 – 4:45pm -> Second Keynote Speaker: Sunera Thobani.

Topic: “Exalted Subjects: Race and

the Making of the Canadian Nation”

4.45 – 5.15pm -> Discussion

Supported by the Office of the Principal, New College,

Caribbean Studies and Equity Studies

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Upcoming Events: Oppose the SPP!

July 27, 2007

BUSH IS COMING to Montebello, Quebec

to talk FEAR, MONEY and FORTRESSES

with HARPER and Mexican President CALDERON

GIVE THEM THE WELCOME THEY DESERVE!

Find out More about the SPP – A Plan for Continental Integration

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PUBLIC FORUM – SECURITY AND PROSPERITY FOR WHO?

Building an opposition to the Security and Prosperity

Partnership of North America

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*Linda McQuaig – Author, Holding the Bully’s Coat: Canada and the US Empire

*Paloma Villegas – Organizer, Member of No One Is Illegal – Toronto

*Rogelio Cuevas – Mexican Activist, Member of OCAP

*Hassan Yussuf – Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

7:00 PM

Steelworkers Hall

25 Cecil Street (South of College, East of Spadina)

Toronto

By Donation!

Toronto Stop the SPP Committee: a coalition of groups and individuals working together to raise awareness and to oppose the SPP summit in August 2007.

Contact: torontostopthespp@riseup.net

The public forum is a space in which Toronto residents can learn more about the Security and Prosperity Partnership and the implications of continental integration. The event is part of the mobilization against the SPP leading up to the tri-state summit in Montebello, Quebec on August 20-21.

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OPPOSE THE SPP

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August 19 and 20, 2007

Ottawa, Montebello, and locally

Get on the Bus!

To get on a bus from Toronto to Ottawa (August 19)

OR

To get on a bus from Toronto to Ottawa and then travel on to Montebello

(August 19-21). Cost: $60-$90 sliding scale (with donations we hope to offer subsidies soon).

Contact: E-mail your name, phone number and e-mail address to

bushbus2007@gmail.com. Please specify whether you wish to go to only to the Ottawa demonstration on the 19th OR to Ottawa and then to Montebello or the day of action on the 20th.

—————————–>

Info: torontostopthespp@riseup.net

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MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OPPOSITION TO THE SPP:

http://www.psp-spp.com

http://www.nowar.ca

http://www.canadians.org/integratethis/

http://noii-van.resist.ca/

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What is the Security and Prosperity Partnership?

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The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was established in March 2005, at a summit of the Heads of State of Canada, the US, and Mexico held in Cancun.

The SPP is not an official treaty; it is not a law that will be debated in the House of Commons. As such, it has been able to escape public scrutiny, and has been negotiated by business and government representatives at meetings from which the press are excluded.

The founding premise of the SPP is that an agenda of economic free trade and national security will result in prosperity.

But prosperity for who?

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1994, it has brought wealth only to corporations and to a slim business class, while increasing poverty and displacement for the vast majority of people.

In Mexico, NAFTA has created a 6 million job deficit, and is responsible for the displacement of millions of farmers who have left their homes to find work elsewhere in the borderland maquilas, and in the US and Canada.

Meanwhile, the ‘War on Terror’ and the beefed-up national security apparatus has exacerbated insecurity and brought terror on the lives of millions of people locally and globally through immigrant raids, border militarization, foreign troop occupations, and repression of civil liberties and resistance movements.

The SPP is backed by a number of large US and Canadian corporations that profit massively from the occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, as well as the war being fought against migrants on increasingly fortified, armed and surveilled borders.

The North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) was created in June 2006, one year after the SPP was launched so that corporate business leaders could advise government leaders of the three states and effectively direct the SPP process. The NACC ensures that the SPP process will carry on regardless of which political parties take power in Canada,

Mexico or the US. Harper appointed the Canadian members of the NACC in June 2006. They include the CEOs and Presidents of Home Depot; Scotiabank; Bell Canada Enterprises; Manulife Financial; Power Corporation of Canada; Ganong Bros. Limited; Suncor Energy Inc.; CN; Linamar Corporation; and Canfor Corporation.

US membership in the NACC includes the following corporations: Chevron; General Electric; Ford; General Motors; Lockheed Martin; Campbell Soup; Wal-Mart; FedEx; UPS; Merck and Co.; and Proctor & Gamble.

What does the SPP do?

The SPP uses the language of fear and terror to promote border militarization, the criminalization of migration, privatization and theft of indigenous land and resources, repression, impoverishment and displacement, and cooperation in wars and occupations that will further enrich these corporations.

Some of the initiatives being undertaken within the framework of the SPP include:

* The expansion of temporary worker programs to facilitate the exploitation of immigrant workers and drive down wages across the board.

* Adopting coordinated border surveillance technologies. Major contracts are given to military suppliers;

* Coordinating no-fly lists between the three countries;

* Increasing the use of biometric data, including digital fingerprinting to track refugee claimants across the three countries.

* Further integrating refugee policies. The Safe Third Country Agreement, implemented in December 2004 between the US and Canada, has resulted in at least a 40% decrease in refugee applications in Canada. Under the United

States-Mexico Voluntary Repatriation Program more than 35,000 persons have already been deported.

* Integrating US and Canadian military and police training exercises, and the expansion of The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) into a multiservice joint naval and land Defense Command.

* Harmonizing health and environmental regulations to lower standards and developing of a North American alternative to the Kyoto Protocol.

* Privatizing Mexico’s nationalized oil sector;

* Increasing production in Alberta’s oil sands five times over;

* Pushing for full exploitation of Canadian energy resources in areas where it is already being actively opposed by the Lubicon, Dene, and other indigenous communities.

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Take Action to Oppose the SPP!

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Demonstration in Ottawa

Sunday, August 19 @ 12:30PM

Demonstrations in Montebello

Sunday, August 19 @ 6PM

Monday, August 20 @ 12PM

Gather at the Chateau Montebello (or as close as possible)

And be on the look out for local actions

On the the National Day of Action against the SPP

Monday, August 20


Support Benamar Benatta: Canada’s First 9/11 Rendition to Torture

July 21, 2007

This info comes from Toronto Action for Social Change, a founding member of the Benatta Coalition for a Public Review


Imprisoned. Tortured. Abused. Forgotten. Why?

The Case of Benamar Benatta: Canada’s First 9/11 Rendition to Torture

JULY 20, 2007, TORONTO — Today Benamar Benatta marks a bittersweet anniversary. It was one year ago that he came to Canada for the second time, continuing his effort to be accepted here as a refugee. The first time he came to Canada, September 5, 2001, his life changed forever, and he wants to find out why.

Benatta was born born in Algeria, but came to North America to flee political persecution and threats to his life while serving in the Algerian Armed Forces as an aeronautical engineer. In early September 2001 Mr. Benatta crossed the border into Canada and claimed political asylum. Mr. Benatta was detained pending further inquiries into his identity.

While in Canadian custody and unbeknownst to Mr. Benatta, terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre in New York City and other targets on September 11, 2001. Canadian officials alerted the Americans to the presence of Mr. Benatta and identified him as a person who allegedly had something to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001, seemingly because he was a Muslim man who knew something about airplanes. Without a hearing, without counsel and without conducting proceedings in his first language (French), Mr. Benatta was unceremoniously driven over the border in the back of a car and handed over to the Americans on September 12, 2001. This was an illegal transfer by the Canadian government. This was against the law.

While being held in the notorious Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Centre, Benatta was assigned “high security status” and detained in solitary confinement; he was deprived of sleep; his cell was illuminated 24 hours a day; guardsregularly beat him, and kept him constantly awake by banging on his door every half hour, a door which had been spray-painted WTC (World Trade Centre).

Mr. Benatta was actually cleared of any terrorist suspicions by the FBI in November 2001; however, he was never told that he was cleared. In fact, Mr. Benatta was held incommunicado and without access to legal counsel. In all, Mr. Benatta spent nearly five years of his life in American prisons were he was abused and tortured (as documented by the United Nations and the U.S. department of justice). Indeed, according to U.S. Federal Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr.,”As a result of the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, the Canadian authorities alerted United States authorities of defendant’s presence and profile … and returned him to the United States….The defendant in this case undeniably was deprived of his liberty, and held in custody under harsh conditions which can be said to be ‘oppressive’….To accept the [U.S.] government’s arguments “would be to join in the charade that has been perpetrated.”

In an opinion adopted in September, 2004, by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, it was concluded with respect to Benatta, “Finally, the [U.S.] Government has said nothing about the high-security prison regime (involving impositions that could be described as torture), which, for no reason whatsoever, was imposed on him . . .”

After all of this hardship, Benatta came across the border a year ago, and has resumed his claim for asylum. His application is currently pending, and like many refugees, he lives in a state of limbo, unable to get on with his life, and haunted by some serious questions that have yet to be answered.

How was Canada involved in all of this? Why did Canadian officials undertake this rendition to torture?

Benatta sought intervenor status at the Iacobucci Commission investigating the cases of torture against Canadians Ahmad El-Maati, Abdullah Almalki, and Muayyed Nureddin, but was unfortunately turned down.

In his request for standing, Benatta had pointed out that El-Maati, Almalki, and Nureddin “were all detained and tortured on foregin soil allegedly because of information provided to foreign governments (Syria and Egypt) by Canadian officials linking these men to terrorist activities. Mr. Benatta was also detained and tortured on foreign soil because of information provided to a foreign government (America) by Canadian officials linking Mr. Benatta to terrorist activities, in particular, the events of September 11, 2001.”

But Iacobucci did not see it that way, and what was supposed to be a public inquiry is in fact being held in secret, without the presence of those three men and their lawyers.

Since his return to Canada, Benatta sought records of his earlier refugee claim held by Canadian officials, but was informed his 2001 claim has been “misplaced.” The Canadian government also erroneously alleges that Benatta withdrew his claim for asylum prior to the 9/12/2001 rendition, but has produced no documentation to support this outrageous claim.

Earlier this year, Benatta and his supporters began the Benatta Coalition for a Public Review, which could certainly use the support of everyone in this country who cares about the complicity of the Canadian government and its so-called “intelligence” agencies in acts of torture.


WHAT YOU CAN DO

1. Get more information by going to Benamar’s website,

http://www.benamarbenatta.com/

Once there, sign the online petition calling for a public review. There are also media clips from a press conference Benamar and his supporters held in Ottawa earlier this year.

2. Write to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, demanding that he grant a public review of Benatta’s case so that Benamar and all people in Canada can get the answers they need, and to prevent such human rights abuses from occurring.

Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Building, 13th Floor

340 Laurier Avenue West

Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0P8

3. Invite Benamar Benatta to speak to your organization. He is fluent in English and French, and can be contacted at ben@dltlive.com

4. If you are with the media, Benamar is happy to speak with you. Again, contact him through ben@dltlive.com or via his lawyer, Nicole Chrolavicius, nicole@dltlive.com

5. Donate to the costs of the Benatta Coalition for a Public Review; to find out how, email Nicole at nicole@dltlive.com

Please share with all of your networks in Canada and internationally!


Fencing the Border: Boeing’s High-Tech Plan Falters… more from Corpwatch

July 10, 2007

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