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We are delighted to confirm that the second General Assembly of the Peoples Social Forum will be held next July 2nd and 3rd in Edmonton, Alberta.
The venue will be the Telus Centre at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The purpose of this upcoming GA is to decide on the location, date and themes of the Peoples Social Forum scheduled for the summer of 2014.
We have chosen Edmonton as important events are planned this year in Fort McMurray, just north of the Albertan capital. On July 5th and 6th many hundreds of people will come together from coast to coast to join First Nations and Metis in the Healing Walk, a gathering focused on healing the environment and people suffering from tar sands expansion.
We are holding our General Assembly in Edmonton as a gesture of solidarity and support to all those fighting tar sands expansion. Many of the participants in our General Assembly will make their way to Fort McMurray and join our First Nations and Metis brothers and sisters in this year's Healing Walk.
For more information contact Raul Burbano
The speakers will share their experiences and findings from a recent international fact-finding mission examining the implications of large-scale gold mining on water in El Salvador, as well as its linkages to Free trade agreements, international trade tribunals and Canadian mining interests.
When: Friday June 21ST
Time: 6:30- 9:00
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto (252 Bloor St. W)
Betty Araniva – Salvadoreños en El Mundo
Raul Burbano – Common Frontiers
Stacey Gomez – Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
Event sponsored by The Salvadoran Canadian Association (ASALCA), Council of Canadians and Common Frontiers, The Latin American Solidarity Network.
In 2009, El Salvador stopped issuing exploration and exploitation permits. Now, two mining companies – Canadian-based Pacific Rim and US-based Commerce Group – are suing the small Central American country for over $400 million in compensation through a secretive World Bank trade tribunal, in a costly legal battle. Meanwhile, communities in El Salvador continue to grapple with the environmental degradation, human rights violations and displacements caused by the activities of these mining companies locally.
In May international delegates from 12 countries representing 22 organizations concluded a three day fact-finding mission in El Salvador aimed at examining the local impacts and future threats of large-scale gold mining in the country. The delegation included visits to three key sites, illustrating the impacts of transnational gold mining at different stages, as well as local resistance and resilience. Sites included: the town of San Sebastian, department of La Unión where Commerce Group operated a gold mine on and off for decades; communities in the department of Cabañas where Pacific Rim’s exploration activities gave rise to widespread opposition; and the town of Asunción Mita, department of Jutiapa, Guatemala, on the border with El Salvador, home to Goldcorp’s Cerro Blanco project.
Media Release from CAW.ca
A tentative collective agreement has been reached between the CAW and VIA Rail this evening, following days of tense, round-the-clock negotiations in Montreal.
"We're very pleased to have reached a tentative deal with VIA Rail," said Bob Orr, Assistant to the CAW National President. "This has been a long and emotional process for our master bargaining committee. We've spent days engaged in very tense bargaining on issues most important to members and we're happy to have settled this contract without a labour disruption."
-read the media release
By Stuart Trew
Council of Canadians
The Council of Canadians (along with Common Frontiers) was one of 125 global movements and civil society groups to endorse this statement of solidarity with efforts in Latin America, led by the Ecuador government, to reform the investment arbitration system. This corporate-biased regime, found in most Canadian free trade agreements with Latin America and globally, as well as in treaties like the Canada-China FIPA, NAFTA and proposed for the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, is being challenged globally as an assault on democracy that must be radically changed or dismantled.Please share, and join the 4th Annual Healing Walk near Fort McMurray Alberta. The tar sands are growing out of control, destroying the climate for all Canadians and poisoning the water of everyone living downstream.
Statement of social movements and civil society organizations regarding the proposals of the 1st Ministerial Conference of Latin American States affected by the interests of transnationals
As social movements and civil society organizations, we consider International Investment Agreements (IIAs) -- such as the Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and investment chapters in the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and other similar, so called, Association Agreements -- to be part of an architecture of impunity of transnational corporations (TNCs). As such they undermine peoples' and nature's rights, as well as the sovereignty and constitutions of nations, democracy and the public interest. These agreements further consolidate the asymmetry of laws that propagate that the rights and power of corporations are protected by 'hard law' and are above the rights of peoples and communities. We believe that Nation-states should have not only the obligation but also the full freedom to implement laws and policies in favour of the people and the environment, without the threat of being sued by transnational capital.
For this reason, for many years, we have been promoting and we are part of active national, regional and international campaigns like the struggles against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), the FTAA, the WTO, and later the struggles against BITs and FTAs from the European Union, the United States and Canada with developing countries; the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP); and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). We also form part of the continental campaign against BITs and for a new regional financial architecture, and the Global Campaign Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, among others.
In this regard, we propose advancing an alternative legal framework for international economic relations that is based on democratic principles of solidarity and justice, and prioritizes the rights of humans and nature over private interests and profits. This framework should include binding obligations for private and public transnational corporations on issues of human rights, as well as economic, labour, social rights, and respect for Mother Nature. It should also guarantee governments' possibility to enact public policy for the realization of these rights. In this context, any investment agreement should also include a mechanism for public participation and democratic discussion with representatives of the relevant social sectors.
Therefore, we, the undersigned organizations
1) Express our solidarity with the people who suffer daily the impacts and consequences of the actions of corporations, either private or public. We also recognize the efforts of people and governments that have undertaken specific actions to prevent harmful corporate investments and ensure that sovereignty, self-determination and the rights of peoples and nature are respected.
2) Reject the demands of investors and transnational corporations in international tribunals, and particularly the billionaires' arbitration awards against States. These tribunals that overwhelmingly represent the interests of transnational capital over the interests of people from sued countries. We reiterate our solidarity with the people and countries affected, along with our demand that States annul, denounce and stop signing the various agreements and treaties that unlawfully subjected them to foreign jurisdictions and violate rights.
3) In the same spirit, we welcome the organization of the First Ministerial Conference of Latin American States affected by transnational interests, held in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on 22 April. We remain hopeful that this initiative flourishes, especially because of the urgent need to put an end to transnational investments from private or public capital that do not contribute to the good living of people and of nature.
4) Taking note of the various proposals included in the final declaration of the Conference, we support the creation of an International Observatory on investment disputes, the establishment of the Permanent Conference of Latin American States affected by the interests of transnational corporations; and the search of global agreements between countries of the South that reinforces the defense of our people and countries against the actions of transnational corporations. We are committed to contribute timely to these processes with our experience, observations and recommendations. We will remain vigilant to make this happen, with the hope that this initiative is not limited to private transnational corporations but also covers state corporations as well as a comprehensive mechanism for repairing the impacts on people and nature.
5) Taking note that the Declaration refers to the need to create mechanisms for ongoing dialogue with social movements and organizations. We believe that such mechanisms could be a step conducive to the creation and consolidation of a process of direct participation of the people and movements. We offer the knowledge and experience of our organizations and movements, accumulated over decades of work, to contribute to the task at hand. We are ready to start a dialogue to discuss the way forward in making concrete these mechanisms.
6) In the same context of dialogue and in order to have meaningful participation, we specifically request information regarding some of the regional proposals that are moving forward, such as the regional mechanism for the settlement of investor-State disputes currently under negotiation in UNASUR.
On July 5-6 people will come together from coast to coast to join First Nations and Metis in the Healing Walk, a gathering focused on healing the environment and the people who are suffering from tar sands expansion. Find out more at http://www.healingwalk.org or follow the hashtags on Twitter at
#IdleNoMore #INM #SovSummer #HealingWalk
Please share, and join the 4th Annual Healing Walk near Fort McMurray Alberta. The tar sands are growing out of control, destroying the climate for all Canadians and poisoning the water of everyone living downstream.
Let's call on the Alberta and Canadian governments to stop the reckless mismanagement of these resources. We need our governments to work with First Nations and bring people together to make wise choices about stewarding the land in ways that are sustainable and fair.
Tell Minister Joe Oliver & Premier Alison Redford to come to the Healing Walk and walk the land, breathe the air, and drink the water. http://www.healingwalk.org/helpfromhome
This video is made of scenes from the film "Occupy Love" directed by Velcrow Ripper. Produced by Nova Ami, Velcrow Ripper & Ian MacKenzie. Music in these scenes by Christen Lien and Zoe Keating. Learn more at http://www.occupylove.org
The former NASA scientist criticized by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver earlier this week for his views on the Keystone XL pipeline is responding by calling the Conservatives a desperate and "Neanderthal" government.
In an interview with Evan Solomon airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, James Hansen defended his position that approving the proposed pipeline would be disastrous for the environment.
During a stop in Washington, D.C., to shore up support for Keystone XL, Oliver said Hansen, a leading climate change activist, is "crying wolf" with his "exaggerated" comments about the effects of Alberta's oilsands development on the environment. The minister also said that when a source of energy represents 1/1000th of global emissions, "to say it's the end of the planet if that's developed is nonsense."
Hansen has said if nothing is done to stop Canada's oilsands development it will be "game over for the climate," a position that Oliver said he likely regrets taking and that has hurt his credibility.
Not so, Hansen told Solomon. "Not at all," the award-winning researcher said. Hansen was named one of Time magazine's most influential people in 2006. He retired earlier this month from NASA so he could devote more of his time to environmental activism.
"I think he's beginning to get worried because the secretary of state, John Kerry, is well-informed on the climate issue and he knows that his legacy and President Obama's is going to depend upon whether they open this spigot to these very dirty, unconventional fossil fuels," Hansen said about Oliver. "We can't do that without guaranteeing disasters for young people and future generations."
via Postmedia News
Electoral fraud occurred during the last federal election, a federal court judge ruled on Thursday, but there is no proof that it affected the outcomes in six ridings at issue, so the elections will not be overturned.
The court challenge was brought by the Council of Canadians, which sought to overturn the election of six Conservative MPs who won close ridings where there was evidence that someone tried to affect the results by calling opposition supporters and telling them their polling stations had moved.
Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled that the calls “struck at the integrity of the electoral process by attempting to dissuade voters from casting ballots for their preferred candidates. This form of ‘voter suppression,’ was, until the 41st General Election, largely unknown in this country.”
The evidence points to “a concerted campaign by persons who had access to a database of voter information maintained by a political party,” Mosley writes, but says there was no allegation that any of the candidates in the six ridings were responsible for the campaign.
“I find that electoral fraud occurred during the 41st General Election but I am not satisfied that it has been established that the fraud affected the outcomes in the subject ridings and I decline to exercise my discretion to annul the results in those districts.”
The decision fails to give the Council of Canadians the result it sought, but may pose a political problem for the Conservatives, who have steadfastly rejected any suggestion that the party mounted a voter suppression campaign beyond the infamous “Pierre Poutine” robocall in Guelph, Ont., which the party has blamed on rogue elements.
Canadian Mining Companies are having a negative impact on human and labour rights in Mexico, concludes Steelworker and civil society delegation that travelled to Mexico in February 2013. Video highlights delegation's findings.
From the Council of Canadians
Stephen Harper’s executive decision that Canada should try to join the Pacific Alliance political and trading bloc should be as controversial as his taking a trip to Peru and Colombia to dodge questions about overspending and lack of accountability in the Senate, says the Council of Canadians.
“It’s highly symbolic that the first people Harper met when he got off the plane were mining company executives,” says Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow. “The Pacific Alliance, like Canada’s existing trade and investment deals in Latin America, puts the profits of those companies above anything else. The deals, like the Alliance, have nothing to say about the environmental and human rights impact of mining in the region, which is more and more controversial, with growing resistance to Canadian mines in particular.”
The Pacific Alliance is a political grouping of right-wing, market fundamentalist governments in Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico that is widely regarded as a counterweight to more positive regional integration efforts on the continent. As Harper seeks to enhance “rights” for mining companies through closer ties with Pacific Alliance countries, for example, other countries, including Ecuador and Bolivia, are cancelling investment treaties and looking to set up new regional trade and investment rules that give equal space to the protection of human rights, water and the environment.
“As starkly set out in a leaked 2012 confidential government document, trade and economic opportunities for corporations have become the driving forces behind Stephen Harper’s foreign policy,” says Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew. “Harper is using foreign policy to promote corporate interests and help his board room friends undermine movements in Latin America against Canadian mining and toward a more fair and balanced trade and investment system.”
Canada has had observer status with the Pacific Alliance since November 2012.
For more information or to arrange an interview:
Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685
email@example.com | Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs | www.canadians.org
By Raul Burbano Program Director - Common Frontiers
From May 10th to the 12th close to 50 delegates representing 22 different organizations from four continents gathered in San Salvador to take part in the first ever international fact finding mission around the impacts of metallic mining. It was organized by the International Allies Against Mining in El Salvador in collaboration with the National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining in El Salvador known as La Mesa; a diverse coalition of organized communities, NGOs, think tanks, and faith based organizations opposing mining.
Public Forum in San Salvador:
The first day of the fact finding mission was composed of a forum at the University of Central America, (UCA) in San Salvador. The forum gave delegates an opportunity to hear from local and international delegates about the situation of mining in the region and opened up a space for dialogue and exchange of ideas with the general public and representatives of the government.
The first panel, entitled “National voices and opposition to mining in El Salvador”, provided a panoramic view of the national issues including human rights, legislative and a moral and ethical perspective on mining. This later point raised important questions that are not typically part of the debate when reflecting on mining and its impacts. Panellist José Maria Tojeira, Director of Pastoral at UCA spoke about it being unethical and morally wrong for a poor country like El Salvador to finance gold mining, a luxury that only benefits a small group.
It is this same small group that helps maintain the world in a state of war, hunger and inequality. Reflecting on how Pacific Rim reacts to those who oppose it, he recounted how they have dedicated resources to insult their opposition calling them fanatical and ignorant. In response, he wrote an article in a local newspaper calling them imperialists and recalled the reaction he received. “I got a call from the Canadian ambassador telling me to moderate my language”.
Canadian embassies’ intervening on behalf of mining companies is not uncommon, even when presented with overwhelming evidence suggesting the companies are behaving unethically. This was recently highlighted in a report released by civil society organizations in Canada surrounding Calgary -based Blackfire Exploration in which the Canadian embassy in Mexico was unequivocal in its support for Blackfire even after evidence surfaced potentially linking Blackfire with corruption and murder.
By: Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA – The prime minister heads to South America this week to suss out membership in a new trading bloc that many aren’t sure Canada ought to join.
The Pacific Alliance was formed by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru in 2011 and Canada took a spot on the sidelines the next year, along with several other countries as observers.
This week, alliance leaders will meet in Cali, Colombia, and be joined by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as well as leaders from other observer nations.
“This will be the first time the prime minister has had the opportunity to participate in this forum, to experience the forum, to see what it has to offer,” said Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for the prime minister.
The goal of the nascent alliance is to tear down what economic borders remain between their countries, creating an integrated market to rival and compete both internationally and regionally with that of Mercosur, the trading bloc created in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Alliance countries are already an economic powerhouse: according to the World Trade Organization, together they exported about $534 billion in 2011, compared to about $355 billion from Mercosur.
Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and the four alliance countries totalled $39 billion in 2012, compared with $9.7 billion the year before in trade with Mercosur.
The Conservative government declared a stronger relationship with the Americas as a foreign policy priority in 2007 and has been wooing them ever since, ramping up its enthusiasm for ties with the region since its economies sailed through the global economic downturn in 2008.
But Canada already has free trade agreements with all four alliance countries and is involved in negotiations for the much broader Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes them as well as Asian countries, New Zealand and the United States.
That’s raised questions about why joining this new alliance is something that Canada needs and has the resources to tackle.
Even pro-trade Tories raised this question at recent hearings on the alliance in the House of Commons.
“Where I’m coming from is that we already have relationships with all of these countries,” said Tory MP Ed Holder in March.
“We don’t need to do this, but maybe we do. What I’m looking for is the argument for Canada to do more than just sit at the table and watch.”
Harper’s participation in the meeting is about figuring that out, said MacDougall.
“From our perspective, there is no point picking one over the other, it’s a question of pursuing on all avenues and all fronts,” MacDougall said.
“We do have strong relationships with the four original members, and with some of the other observer countries so it makes sense for us to explore more ways to further strengthen that relationship while we’re also pressing on the Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes another set of countries.”
Among the issues being explored by the alliance are the removal of visa requirements for is members, something that would pose a challenge to Canada’s ongoing efforts to tighten up borders by imposing visa restrictions on many countries, including those in the alliance.
The alliance also wants to strengthen security co-operation.
Canada has tried this once before with Mexico, in the form of the security and prosperity partnership with the United States, a deal that collapsed in 2009 to be replaced by the bilateral Beyond the Border plan with just the United States.
Canada’s relationship with the Americas has been framed mostly in economic terms, though Canada insists part of its Americas strategy is also increasing democratic governance and security in the region.
Some observers have said those two planks aren’t getting the same attention.
“The record of action to date has been narrowly focused on free trade agreements and the protection of corporate interests and investments at the expense of deep engagement on such important issues as development, security, corporate accountability, democratic governance, and human rights,” Sheila Katz of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation told the House of Commons committee in April.
For example, as part of a recently-signed free trade deal with Colombia, the two countries agreed to table reports about the effect the deal has on human rights.
The second such report was May 15, 2013 due last week but since the House of Commons wasn’t sitting, it couldn’t be tabled, MacDougall said.
It’s unlikely to appear before Harper returns from his trip.
Prior to arriving in Colombia, he will travel to Peru for bilateral meetings with that country's president.
Report prepared by the USO International Committee, May 14, 2013.
-download a PDF version of this report
By invitation of several social organizations and unions of Canada, a delegation from our Union visited three major cities in Canada from April 30 to May 9 (Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto).
In each of these places, we spoke out against the governments of Canada and Colombia, which have not complied with agreements on labour, the environment, and respect for human rights, despite having ratified these commitments as part of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries that came into effect in August 2011. The two countries pledged to protect, enhance and enforce the rights of workers, strengthen cooperation around labour issues, and deepen their respective international commitments.
As part of this tour, many social organizations and unions, as well as Federal opposition parliamentarians, professors and students from Carleton University in Ottawa, journalists, and environmental organizations, among others, attended meetings at which the Union officials spoke out against the disastrous role of Canadian multinational companies in Colombia, including Pacific Rubiales Energy (PRE), which controls a high percentage of domestic oil production.
Evidence was presented about Pacific Rubiales Energy imposing its own state in Puerto Gaitán, deep inside the department of Meta. In Canada, the public was shocked to learn that the four top executives of this multinational, who had supported the coup against Venezuelan president Chávez, namely Miguel de la Campa, José Francisco Arata, Serafino Iacono and Ronald Patín, each earned an average of $11 million dollars, according to the January 2012 issue of Dinero magazine (http://www.dinero.com/internacional/articulo/ejecutivos-pacific-rubiales-entre-20-mas-ganan-canada/142553) , while the workers and residents of nearby communities affected by petroleum production live in deplorable conditions due to the little knowledge of their rights.
In July 2011, about 13,500 workers, the vast majority of them contract workers employed in precarious working conditions, called on us to assist them. During our visit, we observed that more than 90% of the workers were not directly hired by Pacific Rubiales, but rather outsourced, hired under “garbage contracts” characterized by low wages, long working hours, and overcrowded housing, among other irregularities. The USO presented a demand package in the context of agreements with the government and with this multinational, aimed at improving the working conditions. The negotiations were only partially resolved, which served to show that both Pacific Rubiales and the Colombian government, represented by the Minister of Labour, were ignoring International Labour Organization Conventions 87 and 98, both of which have been ratified by our country. These two core labour conventions guarantee the right of free association and the right to collective bargaining. The Canadian multinational set up blockades using vehicles, pipe structures and chain link fences across the public road. These actions occurred with the assistance and the approval of the company’s own security forces, in conjunction with the Colombian public safety forces. These actions were taken systematically against our Union as well as against Senator Alexander López Maya, who attempted to visit the workers in the field in 2012.
There is photographic evidence of environmental pollution, including the dumping of contaminated wastewater into rivers and water sources. Upriver from the PRE, these sources flow with pure water. As well, there was recognition of the difficult conditions facing indigenous communities. Their conditions have worsened due to being displaced from those areas where oil is being extracted, in addition to the general lack of enforcement of the agreements signed by this multinational.
The reality is that PACIFIC RUBIALES ENERGY is Canadian multinational company that is virtually unknown in that country, as we learned while we were in Canada. However, it is public knowledge that this company is investing millions of dollars in Colombia in media campaigns with the aim of positioning the company positively in the public mind. The company is now using slogans such as “Pacific is Columbia,” “Pacific is there for you,” and “Pacific- 100% behind Colombia.” These slogans imply that Pacific Rubiales is a model of corporate social responsibility. PRE has sponsored fairs and events in major cities around the country. On one occasion, the company brought former US president Bill Clinton to Bogotá to go golfing with President Juan Manuel Santos. The company is also a major shareholder in a cable news network, and attempted to buy the major newspaper, El Tiempo. PRE also made a large investment in its image ($8 million dollars) by becoming a sponsor of the Colombian national soccer team.
Many organizations we met with committed to standing with us through our various campaigns and public protest activities against the behaviour of multinationals in the energy and mining sector, especially Pacific Rubiales. A protest is planned for July 13th, followed by a popular tribunal in August to put these multinationals on trial for their ethical and political transgressions in Colombia.
Alejandro Villamar Calderon
Council of Canadians
From Embassy News
By Ally Foster
Calgary-based mining company Infinito Gold Ltd. has served notice to the Costa Rican government that it considers the country to be violating a Canada-Costa Rica investment treaty and the company intends to pursue arbitration.
Costa Rica has not permitted the company’s subsidiary, Industrias Infinito SA, to continue developing its Las Crucitas mine, which has seen operations stalled since 2010 due to legal battles.
The company served notice to Costa Rica on April 4, according to a news release on Infinito’s website.
Shortly after, eight Canadian civil society groups signed an open letter asking that “Infinito Gold respect the will of the vast majority of Costa Ricans and drop the threat of international arbitration.”
The letter, signed by MiningWatch Canada, Common Frontiers, Sierra Club Canada, Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine, the Council of Canadians, the Blue Water Project, the Polaris Institute, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, was also sent to Trade Minister Ed Fast and Costa Rica’s ambassador in Ottawa, among others.
There has been no response to the letter from the company, the Canadian government, or the Costa Rican Embassy in Ottawa, said Jamie Kneen, communications and outreach co-ordinator with MiningWatch Canada, on May 9.
Costa Rican media reports and the letter signed by the Canadian groups say the company is seeking the rights to go ahead with the project or else it will look for $1 billion US in compensation for lost profits.
Infinito Gold did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
By Sarah Anderson and Manuel Perez-Rocha
Institute for Policy Studies
In the context of high global prices for natural resources, governments seeking to ensure that their people benefit fairly from these resources and do not suffer from environmentally harmful extractive projects are finding themselves increasingly at odds with transnational corporations.[i]
In these battles over resource rights, transnational companies are increasingly using a powerful and relatively new weapon – the right to sue governments in international arbitration tribunals granted under a complex web of free trade agreements (FTAs) and thousands of bilateral investment treaties (BITs).
This report explains the institutional framework that allows global firms to extract enormous profits in international arbitration tribunals. It then documents the increased use of these rights by transnational corporations involved in the oil, mining, and gas industries, particularly in Latin America.
This analysis is particularly important in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement currently being negotiated among 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. As of April 2013, Japan was also on track to join the talks, and other countries like South Korea and Thailand have also expressed interest.
Transnational corporations in the extractives sector are increasingly turning to international arbitration tribunals to resolve resource disputes.
Documents released from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) under an access to information request raise serious concerns about the conduct of the Canadian Embassy in Mexico. Throughout a conflict involving Blackfire Exploration’s mining activities in the municipality of Chicomuselo, Chiapas that saw an activist shot and ultimately triggered an RCMP investigation over corruption, it appears the Embassy provided instrumental and unconscionable support to the operations of a Canadian mining company in Mexico.
Blackfire Exploration is a small, privately held, Calgary-based company that obtained mining concessions in Chiapas, Mexico in 2005. In 2008, its Payback mine began to produce barite, a mineral used for drilling petroleum wells. The mine operated for approximately two years before being closed by Mexican authorities for violating environmental regulations. Two much more serious scandals involving the mine bracketed its suspension: a week earlier on November 27, 2009, local anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca was murdered; and days later, allegations that the company was involved in the corruption of a local mayor surfaced in the Canadian news media.
In March 2010, United Steelworkers, Common Frontiers, and MiningWatch Canada carried out a fact-finding mission to Chiapas at the invitation of the Mexican Network of Mine Affected Communities (REMA, by its initials in Spanish). The delegation looked into the impacts of Blackfire’s Payback mine in the town of Chicomuselo, where murdered activist and father of four Mariano Abarca lived, and in the outlying communities of Ejido Grecia and Ejido Nueva Morelia, where the mine was located. It produced a report in early 2010.
As part of its research, the delegation met with the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City. Although the Embassy repeatedly denied any involvement in the investigation of Abarca’s murder, the delegation knew that an Embassy Political Counsellor had travelled to Chiapas two months after Abarca’s death. The delegation requested a copy of the report from this trip, but the Counsellor refused to provide it. Several months later, the organizations filed an access to information request, and after 19 months DFAIT released Embassy documents dealing with Blackfire. The release consisted of more than 900 pages of sometimes heavily redacted emails, briefings, and other files dated from November 2007 to May 2010, spanning a period from before Blackfire’s mine was operating until six months after Abarca was killed.
Overall, the released documents suggest that in the case of Blackfire, the Embassy provided virtually unconditional support in spite of the company’s behaviour and the Embassy’s awareness of the tensions around the mine site. The documents also establish that Mariano Abarca was known to the Embassy before he was murdered. In July 2009, Mariano delivered a speech outside the Embassy in Mexico City, and in August 2009 the Embassy reported receiving 1,400 letters about Abarca following his arrest and detention based on a complaint filed by a Blackfire representative in Mexico. Even after Abarca had been killed, the mine had been suspended, and corruption allegations had surfaced, the Embassy continued to defend the company to Mexican state officials and provided it with information on how to sue the state of Chiapas under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for closing the mine.
An analysis of the DFAIT documents and ancillary materials supports the following conclusions. First, the Embassy’s active and unquestioning support may have acted as a disincentive for Blackfire to comply with local and international laws. Second, in doing so, the Embassy failed to uphold Canada’s own policies, as well as its international obligation to promote universal respect for human rights.
The picture pieced together is tremendously unsettling, especially given Canada’s role as a top investor in Mexico’s mining industry. Approximately 75% of the world’s mining companies headquarter in Canada, and many of these companies are associated with serious conflict. In 2011, Canada’s Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor reported that 204 of 269 foreign-owned companies in Mexico’s mining sector in 2010 were Canadian.
Canada’s prominent role in Mexico’s mining sector, and our findings in this case, lead us to make several recommendations, some of which are:
United Steelworkers, MiningWatch Canada, Common Frontiers
Join us to discuss and share strategies to build a peoples movement to stop the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and explore sustainable and equitable forms of trade.
- Eva Portillio - Coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean solidarity network
- Stuart Trew - Trade campaigner for the Council of Canadians and
- Raul Burbano - Program Director for Common Frontiers
Special guests from Mexico and Peru via skype
Organized by the Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network, Common Frontiers, and The Council of Canadians
Endorsed by - the Canadian auto workers
I would like to bring to your attention my grave concern over your actions and comments that undermine the sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and contribute to the political polarisation in Venezuela. By neglecting the facts you are doing a disservice to Canadians and Venezuelan’s alike and adding fuel to a conflict that can only be resolved internally.
Your position as an elected member of the Canadian Parliament is a privilege that comes with great responsibility. A responsibility to ensure that you undertake due diligence when advocating for or against issues or at a minimum, present them in a manner not overly biased as is evident in your works around Venezuela.
It was a delight to hear that you had travelled to Venezuela to witness the presidential elections as this would afford you the opportunity to see participatory democracy in action. In looking at your initial on the ground report the day of the elections, it would appear that the democratic process in Venezuela worked very well;
“I witnessed democracy in action as I visited polling stations in Caracas.” said Mr. Karygiannis.[i] .
This would further be validated by all 170 international observers on the ground that day who also praised the transparency and integrity of the Venezuelan electoral process, “What we found was an election system which was transparent, inherently reliable, well-run and thoroughly audited”. [ii]
Upon your return to Canada it appears you’ve taken a radically different view by coming out attacking and criticizing the Venezuelan government and its electoral process. Going as far as saying it is “reminding us of dictatorships” in your emergency session request to the House of Commons on April17th. That same request also referenced the point that people were killed on the streets, alluding to them as innocent opposition members merely asking for a recount. This is inaccurate and deliberately misleading because a simple scan of any news source would have provided you with the fact that those seven innocent people killed, were Nicloas Maduro supporters and all evidence points to the perpetrators of those crimes coming from the Henrique Capriles ranks. Not coincidently, the actions of these perpetrators also included the burning down of the the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) offices, attacks on a medical clinic run by Cuban doctors and even attacks on the home of the president of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena.
From The Bullet
The capitalist system has exploited and abused nature, pushing the planet to its limits, so much so that the system has accelerated dangerous and fundamental changes in the climate.
Today, the severity and multiplicity of weather changes – characterized by droughts, desertification, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, forest fires and the melting of glaciers and sea ice – indicate that the planet is burning. These extreme changes have direct impacts on humans through the loss of lives, livelihoods, crops and homes, all of which have led to human displacement in the form of forced migration and climate refugees on a massive and unprecedented scale.
Humanity and nature are now standing at a precipice. We can stand idle and continue the march into an abysmal future too dire to imagine, or we can take action and reclaim a future that we have all hoped for.
We will not stand idle. We will not allow the capitalist system to burn us all. We will take action and address the root causes of climate change by changing the system. The time has come to stop talking and to take action.
We must nurture, support, strengthen and increase the scale of grassroots organizing in all places, but in particular in frontline battlegrounds where the stakes are the highest.
We, the undersigned organizations respectfully request the government of Canada to condemn the violence perpetrated by the Venezuelan opposition and to recognize the results of the CNE, which proclaimed Nicolas Maduro as the president elect of Venezuela.
On Sunday April 14th Venezuelans went to the polls in a peaceful and democratic electoral process that saw more than 78% of the electorate partake. After proper audit checks had been undertaken, the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE by its Spanish acronym), Tibisay Lucena declared Nicolas Maduro president elect by 50.8% to 49% - a difference of some 265,000 votes.
Hours prior the results were announced, Henrique Capriles, attempted to discredit the electoral process by claiming on his Twitter account that the government was planning to “change the results”.
Upon the release of the official results, Capriles held a press conference in which he claimed that the victory was “illegitimate” and refused to recognize Maduro’s victory until all ballots are manually audited.
The National Electoral Council has undertaken to audit 54% of the vote, “a statistical proportion that in any part of the world is considered excessive”, and carried out fourteen audits before and during the electoral process to safeguard the functioning of the system. Tibisay Lucena reminded Capriles to use the proper judicial processes open to him to clarify any doubts he has over the result.
The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) electoral accompaniment mission, present throughout the electoral process, has called for respect for the CNE’s official results. On Monday, government and military leaders on state television defended the official vote count and accused Capriles of trying to ferment violence.
Irrespective of all this, Capriles is refusing to recognize the results of the CNE and called on his supporters to take to the streets in protests. Capriles supporters took to the streets burning buildings of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), attacking government health clinics and even the house of electoral council President, Tibisay Lucena. Their actions have caused dozens to be injured and 7 killed.
We condemn the opposition-initiated violence against innocent supporters of President Nicolas Maduro as an attempt to destabilize Venezuela. In line with UNASUR, we call on the opposition to respect the will of the people and to recognize the results of the CNE.
We call on the Government of Canada to condemn the violence perpetrated by the opposition and to recognize the results of the CNE, which proclaimed Nicolas Maduro as the president elect.
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
Council of Canadians
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Canadian Union of Postal Workers
CUPE Ontario International Solidarity Committee
Latin American Trade Unionists Coalition - National
Ontario Federation of Labour
The Latin American and Caribbean solidarity network
For more information:
Common Frontiers – Program Director
Tuesday April 30, 2013
130 King Street West
TMX Broadcast Centre, located at The Exchange Tower
(corner of King and York)
Canadian mining companies are harming the rights and workers of communities in Latin American. In Mexico, workers at Excellon Resources’ La Platosa mine in Durango are fighting for union recognition. The community of La Sierrita is fighting to assert its rights to a fair share of the economic benefits of resources, and to minimize negative impacts of mining. Together they are organizing to build a future for themselves and their community.
Excellon’s annual meeting will be held in Toronto on April 30. Two members of La Sierrita are coming to Toronto to speak directly with Excellon shareholders.
Please come and lend your voice and support workers and community members in their campaign for fairness from Excellon. Please join the solidarity rally outside the annual meeting.
For more information: Doug Olthuis at the USW (416) 544-5957 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Endorsed by: USW (United Steelworkers), Common Frontiers, Mining Injustice, Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network, Mining Watch Canada, ProDESC, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Law Union of Ontario, CEP (Communication, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada).
Fuente: Carlos Salazar Fernández
San José, 16 abr (elpais.cr) - Siete organizaciones canadienses pidieron a la transnacional Infinito Gold poner fin a su campaña, de una década, de estar hostigando al pueblo y al Gobierno de Costa Rica sobre el caso del proyecto minero en Crucitas de San Carlos.
En una dura carta, enviada al presidente ejecutivo de la transnacional minera, John Morgan, le exigen retirar la demanda contra Costa Rica, ante un tribunal internacional de arbitraje, donde pretende cobrar a este país centroamericano más de mil millones de dólares.
Las organizaciones resaltaron que Infinito Gold ha tratado de presentarse como la víctima de un sistema judicial caprichoso.
Sin embargo, las Organizaciones No Gubernamentales sostienen que en realidad, la compañía con sede en Calgary ha intentado revocar dos sentencias del Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo y de la Sala Primera en el 2010 y 2011, que anularon los ilegales permisos para permitir el proyecto minero.
Además, en lugar de hacer maletas y salir del país, Infinito Gold ha ido incrementando su campaña intimidatoria e intentó censurar un curso de la Universidad de Costa Rica, que estudiaba el proyecto minero.
Igualmente, denunció que Infinito Gold llevó a los estrados judiciales a dos profesores universitarios, Jorge Lobo y Nicolás Boeglin, por el supuesto delito de difamación, pero perdió los dos juicios. Igualmente, acusó al abogado Edgardo Araya y a los legisladores Claudio Monge y Manrique Oviedo.
Añadió que esas demandas por difamación se dieron porque ellos habían hablado públicamente sobre el posible impacto negativo que esta actividad minera podría tener en un entorno frágil.
Las ONGs recordaron que en el 2012, el Gobierno de Costa Rica consultó al de Canadá sobre supuesta donación de 200.000 dólares a la Fundación Arias para la Paz, del entonces presidente y premio Nobel de la Paz, Oscar Arias, después de que el mandatario había decretado tal proyecto minero como de Interés Público y Conveniencia Nacional.
Agregaron que el Departamento de Justicia de Canadá ya respondió la solicitud de Costa Rica, pero se ha negado a revelar la información proporcionada.
La nota de las organizaciones canadienses expresó también la sorpresa de que el director de la Fundación Arias fuese nombrado como embajador en Argentina.
"El comportamiento de la empresa, y el apoyo público que ha disfrutado de la Embajada de Canadá, ha dañado seriamente la reputación de Canadá en Costa Rica, un país que es un destino favorito para los canadienses eco-turistas", dijo Jamie Kneen, de la organización Alerta Minera Canadá.
Las organizaciones, en la carta enviada a Infinito Gold, piden a la empresa abandonar todas las acciones legales en contra de Costa Rica y sus ciudadanos, y salir del país.
Finalmente, hace un llamado al gobierno canadiense para divulgar inmediatamente lo que sabe sobre del pago cuestionable a la Fundación Arias en el 2008.
La carta fue firmada por: Alerta Minera Canadá; Fronteras Comunes; Sierra Club de Canadá; Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL); Consejo de Canadienses; El Proyecto de Agua Azul; Polaris Institut y Alianza de la Función Pública de Canadá.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pretends to be a 21st Century Trade Deal. It purports to “open new markets and create new business opportunities” for all participating countries. But 30 years of neoliberal free trade is enough to show us these corporate rights pacts only benefit the elite and increase inequality. The TPP can only create new barriers to an alternative economic future where living well and protecting the earth are more important than corporate profits. It will undermine the ability of communities to collectively decide what is in their best interests.
On May 11, just prior to a new TPP negotiating round in Peru, we call on the 99% who are harmed by corporate globalization to oppose the TPP in their community. There are many reasons for people to come together on this date:
- The TPP undermines access to fundamental medicines by extending monopoly protections for Big Pharma.
- The TPP empowers corporations to sue governments for environmental and health measures they do not like
- The TPP restricts Internet innovation and increases the surveillance of online interactions
- The TPP undermines Indigenous rights and human rights
- The TPP creates a race to the bottom on working conditions, environmental standards and all kinds of public regulations
- The TPP prioritizes large-scale corporate agriculture (GMOs, antibiotics, etc) over sustainable local farming
We can and must stand together against this latest corporate assault on democracy. On May 11, we can start to bring the anti-corporate globalization movement back to the streets. Hold community assemblies to discuss the problems with the TPP and the free trade model. Stage creative actions or stunts that draw attention to the TPP negotiations in Peru. Trans-national community resistance put a freeze on the WTO. It stopped the Free Trade Area of the Americas. It can stop the TPP.
For more info: stopthetpp.webs.com
Dear friends and allies
The small country of El Salvador and its citizens are caught up in a David vs. Goliath struggle to defend their rights to water, health and sustainable development. Since the early 2000 as many as 10 transnational mining corporations are seeking to extract gold and other precious minerals buried under its northern mountains which provide the main source of clean water, fresh air and local agricultural production for the country. The National Roundtable on Metallic Mining in El Salvador is a diverse coalition of organized communities, NGOs, think tanks, and faith organizations opposing mining has been successful in halting mining operations and in building local and international alliances to support the right of Salvadorans to protect their natural resources. La Mesa an inspiring force in the global resistance against the devastating impacts of resource extractive industries. However their struggle is far from over, as the fight to defend sovereignty and the right to self determination reaches a critical moment, more support and solidarity is required to achieve a successful outcome.
WHO IS THIS EVENT FOR?
Environmental activists, union leaders, members of human rights and faith groups, policy makers, donors, academics, journalists and those who are interested in building bridges of solidarity with the people of El Salvador and supporting their struggle to put an end to metallic mining.
* Costs - participants are expected to incur include their flight to El Salvador and local accommodations.
* Most food and local transportation to field trips will be provided.
* Organizers will be happy to book a hotel on your behalf and/or provide a list of reasonably priced hotels
REGISTRATION DEADLINE APRIL 30-2013
The textile and apparel sector of El Salvador, the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America, may lose around 22,000 jobs in three years, if the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement comes into force, according to experts.
The envisaged agreement, for which 16 rounds of negotiations have already been completed, would enable Vietnamese textiles to enter the US market at zero-tariff. This may hurt Salvadoran textile and garment exports to the US, and result in a loss of about 22,000 direct jobs and another 15,000 indirect jobs in the Salvadoran textile value chain, El Mundo reported quoting representatives of prominent textile and industrial associations.
Across the Central American region, job losses could reach 200,000 if the TPP comes into effect, according to representatives of Salvadoran Association of Industrialists (ASI) and the Chamber of Textile Industry, Clothing and Free Zones of El Salvador (Camtex).
The TPP would allow Vietnam to import textiles from China and then re-export the same to the US, which would mean aggressively competing with China, which has the most subsidized industry in the world, Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) said.
The 17th round of TPP negotiations will take place in Lima, Peru from May 15-24, 2013.
The date of the next TPP negotiation round has been updated from the original post.
On January 18, 2013, the Hupacasath First Nation of British Columbia took
the first steps toward challenging the Harper government's new corporate
rights pact with China - the Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion
Agreement (FIPA). That's the day the Hupacasath filed an application in
court to stop the ratification of the FIPA until the government has
fulfilled its obligation to consult with First Nations about the impacts the
treaty will have on their rights and their lands.
No trade or investment deal in recent memory has attracted so much
opposition in Canada - and for good reason. No investment treaty since NAFTA
poses a greater threat to the environment, public health, First Nations and
basic notions of democracy. If the FIPA is ratified, China-based
corporations will be able to directly challenge local, provincial and
federal policies that interfere with their "right" to make a profit from
energy, mining or other controversial projects. Canadian firms will have the
same "right" in China, which will have a direct impact on human rights and
environmental protections in that country also.
The Hupacasath First Nation is doing all of us a great service by
challenging the FIPA with China. Their legal battle will put Canada's FIPAs
on trial and shine an important light on how trade and investment pacts
undermine democracy in Canada and around the world. You and I need to help
the Hupacasath however we can.
Your donation of $10, $100 or $1000 would go a long way to supporting this
crucial legal challenge. The Hupacasath asked the Council of Canadians for
our help to raise public donations to pay for legal costs, and are proud to
do so. And we are putting our money where our mouth is. The Council of
Canadians is matching dollar for dollar all donations made to raise at least
$10,000 before the court challenge moves ahead.
100% of your donation will go directly to the legal costs.
The Council of Canadians has opposed the FIPA with China since it was
announced two years ago, and has worked closely with the Hupacasath. Our
members and volunteer activists have flooded the government with emails and
phone calls opposing the FIPA and have put letters into newspapers across
the country. The Harper government, in typical fashion, wants to ignore the
opposition to his corporate rights pact with China. It wants to ratify the
FIPA as soon as he can.
The Hupacasath's legal challenge is our last and best chance to stop this
terrible deal from being signed, but they need your help.
Please donate to this critical legal battle. We must stand together to stop
31 years of the extreme Canada-China investment pact, and Harper's
anti-democratic trade and investment agenda.
By Santiago Ortega Arango
Special to CBC News
Tens of thousands of Colombians took to the streets of Bucaramanga, the country's sixth-largest city, last month to defend their water supply from a Canadian-owned gold-mining project.
The chief target of their protest was Vancouver-based Eco Oro Minerals Corp.
The company is exploring for gold and silver in a high-altitude, environmentally sensitive area that is the main source of water for Bucaramanga's one million inhabitants.
This was the fourth anti-gold-mining demonstration in the area since 2010, and one of the biggest.
But Eco Oro shouldn't feel singled out. It is only one in a string of Canadian mining and exploration companies that have drawn the ire of local communities around the world.
On March 12, for example, more than 10,000 Greeks protested in Thessaloniki against several gold mining projects owned by Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold.
Chiapas, México, March 20, 2013 - The Government of the State of Chiapas has criminally prosecuted in recent months several former mayors for embezzlement, criminal association, among other crimes, that have resulted in a financial crisis for the Government of Chiapas. However, former Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero and several former municipal deputies also bear responsibility for this crisis for approving in an irresponsible manner the increasing levels of debt.
Corruption, however, is also evident in the dealings between mining companies and municipal authorities. In this context, REMA (the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining) Chiapas made public in January of 2010 the corrupt activities of the former mayor of the municipality of Chicomuselo Julio Cesar Velásquez Calderón in connection with Canadian mining company Blackfire. To that end REMA released copies of the cheques that the company gave to the then mayor of Chicomuselo.
Between March, 2008 and April of 2009, Blackfire made payments to Municipal Mayor Julio Cesar Velásquez Calderón totaling 204,022.69 Mexican pesos, as well as paying for airplane tickets for him and his family. The General Manager of Blackfire, Artemio Ávila Cervera, filed a complaint to the Chiapas Congress in July, 2009, accusing the Mayor of having received unofficial payments from Blackfire to ‘reward’ him for exercising control over local inhabitants so that they wouldn’t ‘take up arms’ against the mining project.
In March of 2010, several Canadian organizations requested that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigate Blackfire for violating Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. On June 30, 2010, REMA and Otros Mundos AC formally asked the General Auditor of the State Congress of Chiapas to investigate the circumstances surrounding these funds, a request that was never responded to.
In September 2010, Blackfire declared before the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre claiming that the company had neither been bribed nor extorted by the Mayor, and that the funds given to Julio Cesar Velásquez Calderón were meant as a contribution towards the town’s costs of hosting a local fair. But, “unfortunately”, these “charitable donations” had not been used for the “intended purpose”. Blackfire officials also explained that cheques made out to the personal accounts of public officials are meant for public purposes . On July 20, 2011 the RCMP raided the offices of Blackfire in Calgary, looking for evidence of potential corrupt practices , whereas in Chiapas, neither the state nor federal (Mexican) governments were pursuing the case.
Given the evidence at hand, that includes material proof as well as the confession by the Canadian mining company Blackfire of having illegally handed over funds, REMA Chiapas demands a thorough and far-reaching investigation into the acts of corruption perpetrated by former Mayor Julio Cesar Velásquez Calderón, and those incurred by any state and federal officials who may have been involved to encourage and cover up the actions of the mayor and the Canadian mining company.
STOP THE EXTRACTIVE MINING MODEL!
TRANSNATIONAL MINING COMPANIES OUT OF CHIAPAS!
Ottawa, March 21, 2013 - Reacting to today’s announcement included in federal budget 2013 to amalgamate the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and CIDA, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC)* asks that CIDA’s core mandate and long experience in poverty alleviation be preserved.
CCIC has for long proposed for CIDA to be promoted to a senior ministry with its own legislation. Therefore the commitment made today by the government to enshrine in legislation the role and responsibilities of the Minister that oversees the Canadian aid budget is a welcome announcement.
However, CCIC expects that this legislation will build upon and be complementary to existing legislation that defines a clear mandate for Canada’s development assistance (ODA Accountability Act), requiring that Canadian international aid contributes to poverty reduction, takes into account the perspectives of the poor, and is consistent with international human rights standards.
The important change announced today raises the question of how trade, foreign policy and international development objectives will co-exist under the same roof and which ones will have precedence, if any. Given the recent tendency at CIDA to associate Oversea Development Assistance (ODA) to Canadian commercial interests, there is reason for concern.
“There has been historical tension between the mandate of CIDA, which has long term goals for poverty reduction in the poorest countries, and other mandates of the Government of Canada– such as DFAIT’s legitimate mandate to promote Canada’s immediate national economic and political interests,” says Julia Sanchez, President-CEO. “Even with a separate Agency, this tension has been present; so it will be important to watch closely how this will be addressed, now that the poverty alleviation mandate will be housed within the same ministry as other mandates. Our hope is that CIDA’s mandate will not be watered down any further”, she added.
In the shorter-term, CCIC and its member organizations are concerned about the impact that this amalgamation process will have on the Agency’s already stretched capacity to deliver on its commitments and announced programs in an effective manner. For example, general funding for civil society organizations (CSOs) and specific funding for the volunteer sending CSOs, has been put on hold for the past two years, and new projects approved for specific purposes have been significantly delayed.
The ideal scenario would see the new department preserving CIDA’s experience, expertise and the many fruitful partnerships established between Canadian international development organizations and organizations in developing countries to pursue efforts in favour of poverty reduction, equity and human rights. Before this important transition takes place, CCIC would welcome a broad and transparent consultation process with all key stakeholders in the international development sector - Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) working on international development, CIDA staff, CSOs and governments in developing countries, and multilateral organizations.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Julia Sanchez, President-CEO: 613-241-7007, ext.323 email@example.com
Chantal Havard, Communications and Government Relations Officer, ext. 311, firstname.lastname@example.org
*The Canadian Council for International Co-operation is a coalition of the key Canadian civil society organizations working globally to achieve sustainable human development.
Award-winning Canadian director Bruce McDonald is sending a message to Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak about that party's plans for the province's unions.
By Stuart Trew
A 16th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade and investment negotiations wrapped up this week in Singapore. Canada and Mexico were there for a second time, and now Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants a seat at the table. If the United States eventually accepts Japan's participation, under the similarly less-than-equal terms that Canada and Mexico agreed to, it could prolong the TPP negotiations beyond the anticipated October deadline, according to some sources. This could increase the likelihood that Canada will see a TPP negotiating round at some point, possibly in July.
"The TPP is turning the Pacific Ocean into an inland sea and a huge economic zone," said Abe this week, as he announced possible GDP growth of 0.66 per cent from a successful negotiation, but also a predicted $31-billion hit to Japan's farm, fishery and forestry sectors "This is the last chance. If we miss this opportunity, it would immediately mean that we would be left out of setting global regulations."
Earlier this week, an estimated 4,000 Japanese farmers staged a protest against the country's entry to the TPP, calling it "a drastic agreement that will change the way the nation deals with food," according to Common Dreams. Farmers are worried about cheaper imports undermining their livelihood, food standards and way of life.
The opposition influenced the ruling Liberal Party's resolution of support for the TPP this week, which paved the way for Abe's formal request to join the talks. That resolution "called for the maintenance of tariffs on key farm products, especially rice, wheat, beef, dairy products and sugar," reports Japan Times. "It also reflected worries that the TPP could hurt the domestic health insurance system, as the trade pact would allow for medical treatment overseas."
Even more worrying for some Japanese parliamentarians is what the country might have to accept as non-negotiable when Japan finally enters the TPP talks, as late as September -- a month before they hope to conclude a deal.
By James Munson
Blackfire Exploration Ltd. hasn’t mined here for three years, after allegations of corruption, murder and environmental destruction forced the controversial project to close.
In turn the privately owned Calgary firm has become a symbol for the industry’s worst excesses. It may be the dirtiest name among Canadian miners.
Blackfire’s misadventure in Mexico spawned a protest movement that reach all the way to Ottawa, and helped propel a an ultimately doomed piece of legislation that sought to give the Canadian government leverage over irresponsible mining companies working abroad — the last time such a bill came before the House of Commons.
Paradoxically, the inhabitants in nearby villages remember fondly the paycheques they once received.
They made over four times as much money working as machine operators than they do growing coffee beans, said one young man in a black leather jacket from Grecia, one of two villages bordering the mine.
But when Blackfire first came here to mine baryte – a whitish rock used in oil and gas drilling that is almost chalky to the touch – the village abducted an engineer for three days after the firm refused to pay them in exchange for using their lands.
The village’s minuscule roads, which often lie only inches from a cliff, were damaged by the rush of industrial activity in this remote corner of southern Mexico.
Kevin Gallagher: Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens national sovereignty, extends corporate rights, and targets China
Video from The Real News Network
By Manuel Perez-Rocha and Javier Rojo
Only a few years ago, analysts were warning that Mexico was at risk of becoming a “failed state.” These days, the Mexican government appears to be doing a much better PR job.
Despite the devastating and ongoing drug war, the story now goes that Mexico is poised to become a “middle-class” society. As establishment apostle Thomas Friedman put it in the New York Times, Mexico is now one of “the more dominant economic powers in the 21st century.”
But this spin is based on superficial assumptions. The small signs of economic recovery in Mexico are grounded largely on the return of maquiladora factories from China, where wages have been increasing as Mexican wages have stagnated. Under-cutting China on labor costs is hardly something to celebrate. This trend is nothing but the return of the same “free-trade” model that has failed the Mexican people for 20 years.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was ratified in 1993 and went into effect in 1994, was touted as the cure for Mexico’s economic “backwardness.” Promoters argued that the trilateral trade agreement would dig Mexico out of its economic rut and modernize it along the lines of its mighty neighbor, the United States.
Yves Engler: Harper's "condolence" message on death of Hugo Chavez shows Harper has pushed Canadian policy so far right it even jeopardizes business interest in Latin America
Video from The Real News Network
By Rick Arnold
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
It is with a profound sense of indignation that I read about your letter sent in the wake of the death of Venezuela´s President, Hugo Chavez.
Canadians would expect their Prime Minister to take the high road in responding to another nation´s grief following the death of their leader. Instead the letter you sent took the low road in not sending condolences to the Chavez family and for calling into question the deceased leader´s dedication to democratic principles following more than a decade of clean elections, unrivalled in the Americas.
Any sitting Canadian prime minister who met an early end could only dream of such massive outpouring of grief that has seen millions of Venezuelans line up for 35 kilometers to get a brief view of Chavez´s body lying in state.
As a Canadian who was born in Venezuela and has returned on various occasions, I have heard from some of Venezuela´s poor about the difference that significant investment in social programs under Chavez has meant in greatly reducing the gap between rich and poor.
The Chavez legacy has not only included a massive redistribution of wealth at home, but also has been key to catalyzing change in much of the rest of Latin America. Regional groupings such as ALBA, UNASUR, and the Bank of the South (to name just three) were all inspired by Chavez´s dedication to pursuing greater integration among countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In a recently published article in the New York Times, the ex-president of Brazil, Luis Ignacio Lula Da Silva, stated: ¨If a public figure dies without leaving behind ideas, their legacy and spirit will vanish also.
But this is not the case with Chavez, a strong dynamic and unforgetable figure whose ideas will be discussed for decades....everywhere people are concerned with social justice, the struggle against poverty and a more just distribution of power in the world¨.
Canada´s attitude towards Venezuela needs to change. I would urge our government to send a strong message of support to Venezuela´s interim president, Nicolas Maduro, with a promise to build positive relations in the future.
Rick Arnold is the former Coordinator of Common Frontiers Canada
By Raul Burbano, Kristen Beifus and Manuel Pérez-Rocha
A 16th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations is underway in Singapore this week. Canada and Mexico join the nine other TPP countries for the second time since the U.S. government invited its NAFTA partners to join late last year.
The TPP is a super-sized trade deal-expanding on so called "next generation" trade and investment deals that NAFTA countries have pursued in the wake of the stalemate at the World Trade Organization. This pluri-lateral agreement poses serious new threats to North American communities -- threats that a tri-national movement of trade justice activists is preparing to fight in the lead-up to a possible July TPP negotiating round in Canada.
Since NAFTA was signed almost 20 years ago, all three North American countries have seen good jobs vanish, worsening income inequality, public services weakened through underfunding or offloaded to the private sector, increased food insecurity (in particular in Mexico), and ecosystems on the point of breaking. NAFTA promised a flourishing North American economy that would benefit all. In Jan. 2014, NAFTA has been in place for 20 years and the promised trickle down benefits have not been realized by communities.
Three nations, no winners
In the past 10 years, Canada has lost 500,000 manufacturing jobs. A new United Way Toronto report found that in and around Toronto, Canada's largest city, 20 per cent of people are now employed in precarious, unstable or part-time jobs. This type of employment has increased by 50 per cent in the past 20 years since NAFTA was signed. In this same period, not a single notable social program has been introduced or expanded. Free trade has permanently eroded our sense of what people can do together for the common good.
By Janvieve Williams Comrie
"Racism is very characteristic of imperialism and capitalism. Hate against me has a lot to do with racism. Because of my big mouth and curly hair. And I'm so proud to have this mouth and this hair, because it is African." - Hugo Chavez, September 21, 2005
The death of democratically elected President Hugo Chavez Frias (1954-2013) has evoked serious thoughts and reflections on the meaning of his life and the process he led from peoples and communities throughout the Americas and the world. Despite much criticism by many right wing governments and people in the West, Hugo Chavez led a process in Venezuela that symbolised the new assertiveness and self-consciousness of nations in Latin America that saw a future for themselves, liberated from the heavy-handed, oppressive and economically draining policies of their powerful neighbour from the North.
But along with the symbolism connected to the new politics of authentic decolonisation that many of the centre-left states embraced, Chavez was committed to a process of providing real, substantive support to states in the region who were willing to pursue a course that could result in a real shift in power in the region. What that signified for many of us in the Afro-descendant communities in the Americas, was that the rise of Chavez and the Bolivarian process that the people of Venezuela had embarked on would raise the spectrums of a new kind of politic in the region. We hoped that with the new commitment to social inclusion and the ending of all forms of oppression that the issue of race and racial discrimination would become an acceptable and indeed an essential element of the transformation process in the Americas.
OTTAWA – Venezuela has sent a formal protest to the Canadian government for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “insensitive” remarks on the death of President Hugo Chavez.
Harper issued a statement that offered “condolences to the people of Venezuela,” but not the family of the flamboyant 58-year-old leftist leader, who died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.
A statement from a senior Venezuelan government official says a “card of protest” was sent to Ottawa after Harper expressed what he called insensitivity at a time when their country is grieving.
A wordy note from the vice-minister for North America, Claudia Salerno, said Caracas was protesting “in a blunt and categorical way, the statements issued the 5 of March 2013 by the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, as they constitute insensitive and impertinent sentiments at a time when the Venezuelan people are grieving and crying over the irreparable physical loss of the Commander President Hugo Chavez Frias.”
Harper said in his short statement on Tuesday that he hopes the death of Chavez brings a more promising future for the Venezuelan people.
“At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights,” Harper said in a statement Tuesday evening.
Harper also said that he looked forward “to working with (Chavez’s) successor and other leaders in the region to build a hemisphere that is more prosperous, secure and democratic.”
AFL-CIO New Resolution on TPP
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) currently being negotiated has the potential to set a new standard for trade policy in the 21st century—but what has been made public about the negotiations to date is grounds for deep concern that it will not fulfill its promise. American working families need a game change—a high-road strategy that focuses on creating high-wage jobs, encouraging collective bargaining, implementing a strategic manufacturing policy and reinvesting in our infrastructure and our people.
Promoting economic growth with equity in the United States and worldwide requires an approach that couples expansion and enforcement of labor rights globally with necessary reforms in trade and economic policy. These reforms must break from current policies to address income inequality through demand-led growth, as part of a Global New Deal that raises incomes and standards of living for all.
The U.S. trade model, which began with NAFTA and continued with the Korea and Colombia agreements, undermines those goals by encouraging employers to pit one group of workers against another—both within and between countries. Under this model, our trade deficit has increased dramatically—from $75 billion in 1993, the year before NAFTA went into effect ,to $540 billion today (in nominal terms). The NAFTA-based model promotes a race to the bottom in workers’ rights, wages, pensions and working conditions; resource conservation; food safety; and consumer protections. It actively undercuts the public policies that helped bring about the rise of the middle class in the first place. Changing the policies that have promoted the race to the bottom is as important as our work to promote freedom of association and collective bargaining for workers everywhere.
-Read the entire position statement on the AFL-CIO website
Tuesday March 5th @ 6:30-8:30 pm
YWCA - 733 Beatty Street
Vancouver - Coast Salish Territories
Free Event - Accessible Space - Child Friendly
In early March the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations will continue in Singapore with the Canadian Government at the table. In December of this past year the Canadian Government announced that they would be joining the negotiations with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The government, however, provided very little information to the public and negotiations will continue behind closed doors.
Like all trade agreements the Trans Pacific Partnership is a corporate rights pact where by national governments establish new rules in support of multi-national corporations while undermining the will and self-determination of communities. The TPP is one of the largest proposed trade agreements, resembling the Free Trade Area of the Americas which was derailed by people’s movements.
The TPP is one of many trade initiatives championed by Stephen Harper and his predecessors in order to promote market friendly policies that favor the rights of Canadian mining and other corporations as opposed to the rights of people. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU, the many Foreign Investment Protection Agreements (FIPAs) and the TPP are all part of this trade agenda.
On March 5th we will be joined by Kristen Beifus from the Washington Fair Trade Coalition who will be providing us with a breakdown of what the TPP is and some of the organizing that has been happening south of the border.
We will also be hosting a discussion about how we can mobilize opposition to this agreement in our communities as we look forward to negotiation rounds arriving in Canada this summer. We are looking forward to recapturing and building upon the spirit, diversity and momentum of the anti-globalization movements from around the world. Please join us.
This event is hosted by the Council of Canadians.
For more information please contact: email@example.com
Video from The Real News Network
By Sid Ryan
President, Ontario Federation of Labour
The way that Conservative Members of Parliament like Pierre Poilievre go on about unions dues, you'd think they are familiar with the struggle of the average working person. However, unlike the millions of workers in Canada who are striving to make ends meet, Poilievre is only 33 years old and already has a full pension that he clearly doesn't think other workers deserve.
So why are well-to-do Conservative politicians so vigorously trying to prevent vulnerable workers from advocating for a better life? The answer is simple: because they see worker-led unions as the strongest opposition to their plans to convert Canada into a low-wage economy.
Poilievre's federal campaign is in lock-step with Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's White Paper on "Flexible Labour Markets" that last year pledged his party's commitment to eliminating the mandatory collection of union dues.
By Rick Arnold
Sent to Embassy Magazine
The Conservative government’s proposed reform of Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act doesn’t go nearly far enough to ensure that Canada’s record will rise above “pathetic” (RE: “Finally, getting serious on bribery,” Feb. 6)
I agree with your editorial’s positive assessment that proposed legislation making it easier to prosecute Canadian firms and individuals for bribery in other countries coupled with longer jail terms for those found guilty, is a move in the right direction.
However, Canadian legislators will need to dig deeper to reflect on the reasons for there being only three CFPOA convictions in 13 years.
Through my involvement in the laying of a CFPOA complaint with the RCMP in March 2010 that relied heavily on the suspect company’s own documentation of illegal payments made to a foreign official, I have become aware of just how justice can be thwarted.
Three years later and this case languishes thanks both to the company’s legal maneuvers and to understaffing at the RCMP Anti-Corruption Units.
It took the RCMP officers 16 months after the complaint was lodged before they raided the corporate headquarters of the company in question.
The CFPOA law before the Senate needs to include a set of ground rules that ensure that those under investigation will face a day of reckoning, sooner rather than later. And while considering the Conservative’s new amendments to the CFPOA, legislators may wish to ensure that a bribery conviction for a corporation does not preclude up to 14 years in jail for the senior executives involved.
Parliamentarians should also be thinking about our eyes and ears overseas as figuring into a more robust CFPOA. Canada’s foreign missions often come across evidence (through local press reports or other sources) of improper payments made to local public officials.
Any new CFPOA legislation should require Canadian embassies and consulates to report in a timely fashion on cases where it is alleged that bribes have been offered or paid to public officials, be it by Canadian individuals or corporations.
Finally, any effort to toughen the CFPOA is virtually meaningless if the federal government doesn’t commit to a dramatic increase in funding for the RCMP Anti- Corruption Units.
Join the global campaign for union rights in Mexico and send a message via LabourStart now to PKC, a Finnish auto-parts supplier, calling for the reinstatement of sacked workers and a free and fair election.
PKC sacked more than 100 union supporters including the entire union committee in December 2012 for campaigning for the election of an independent trade union, the National Union of Mine and Metalworkers (known as “Los Mineros”), at their plants in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.
Ten of the sacked union leaders refused to take severance pay and, along with another leader who was sacked in April 2012, are fighting for reinstatement and the right to be represented by a democratically elected union at the plant.
You can support these workers by sending a message to PKC in Finland at LabourStart here.
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, issued a stirring call for international worker solidarity, speaking at a United Auto Workers conference here last week. He addressed a crowd of 1,500 UAW delegates at the union's annual Community Action Program conference.
"We cannot accept that a company like Nissan comes to America and says they will not accept workers organizing. We cannot allow that to happen," Lula said.
Workers at Nissan's Canton, Miss., plant are battling the company for their right to have a union. It has spurred a broad new civil rights coalition: the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan.
By Rick Westhead
The Toronto Star
A leading Canadian charity says it is considering abandoning a controversial development project funded by the federal government and a Canadian mining company because of pressure from its donors.
Plan Canada, one of three NGOs involved in a Canadian International Development Agency project that pairs NGOs and the government with mining companies, says the mining sector’s poor image threatens to tarnish its own reputation. Some Plan donors have complained the mining companies have enough money to fund their own social programs and that Plan shouldn’t be partnering with them.
“Would we try it again? Probably not,” Rosemary McCarney, Plan’s president, said in an interview with the Toronto Star. “It’s upsetting to donors. People are mad. The reality is that working with any mining company is going to be a problem. There are going to be (employee) strikes and spills. Is it worth the headache? Probably not.”
By Ethan Cox
You know an event will be special when a planning meeting, almost two years in advance, bursts the seams of its venue. Such was the case this weekend in Ottawa, as activists from across Canada converged to prepare for the People's Social Forum, Canada's version of the World Social Forum.
This weekend's gathering, a planning meeting originally expected to attract around fifty participants, had to be moved to a larger venue at the University of Ottawa at the last minute, as over three times that number descended on the nation's capital.
The social forum, which was originally entitled the Canada-Quebec-Indigenous Social Forum before being changed to the People's Social Forum over the course of the weekend, is based on a triadic approach which gives equal importance to the role of Canadian, Quebecois and Indigenous Nations.
This approach may have accounted for the composition of participants this weekend. Almost a quarter hailed from Indigenous communities, while roughly the same number had made the short trek from Quebec. Those are tremendous levels of participation for national projects, which in the past have struggled to achieve meaningful buy-in from Quebec or First Nations.
Roger Rashi of Montreal NGO Alternatives, who along with Raul Burbano of Common Frontiers has been spearheading the social forum project, was thrilled with the progress made over the weekend.
"The weekend was an unqualified success. We had three times more people than originally expected, and the tremendous new development was that thirty front line Indigenous activists, including two of the founders of Idle No More, (see video below) took a very active part in the process. In the eyes of many, this was the first time they had seen so many Indigenous activists fully engaged in a process which involves non-Idigenous movements."
-read the full report at rabble.ca
Santiago Chile -
The following organizations that partook in the Peoples’ Summit of Latin American, Caribbean States and Europe send our solidarity to the Idle No More movement in Canada that forms part of a larger movement that has been resisting colonialism for centuries.
In the past few months Indigenous people across Canada have risen up to reclaim their sovereignty and protect Mother Earth and the water from corporate exploitation. In many cases this is facilitated via free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties that seek to protect investor rights at the expense of communities and the environment. This expression of indignation can been see across all Latin America where diverse original peoples are leading the struggle to protect the earth and their sovereignty, like the Mapuchi People.
We ask the governments of Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe to respect the right of indigenous communities as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We send our fraternal greetings to all those that struggle for a new dawn and support the Idle No More World Day of Action - January 28, 2013
Red Colombiana Frente la Gran Minería Transnacional (RECALME) – Colombia
Red Latinoamericana sobre Deuda, Desarrollo y Derechos (LATINDADD)
La Mesa Nacional frente a la Minería Metálica- El Salvador
Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC) – México
Asamblea de los pueblos de Huehuetenango por la Defensa del territorio (ADH-CPO) - Huehuetenango - Guatemala
Otros Mundos- Chiapas, México
Frente amplia opositor newgold-Minera San Xavier ‘’FAO’’ – México
Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA) – México
Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el modelo extractivo Minera (M4) – Central América
Fronteras Comunes – Canada
Observatorio por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas - Chile
Comisión Ética Contra la Tortura - Chile
Comité Oscar Romero - Chile
Solidaridad Suecia América Latina (SAL)- Ecuador
Santiago de Chile -
Organizaciones participantes en la Cumbre de los Pueblos de América Latina, el Caribe y Europa expresamos nuestra solidaridad con el movimiento Idle No More/Basta de Pasividad de Canadá quienes forman parte de un movimiento indígena más amplio que viene resistiendo el colonialismo desde hace siglos.
En los últimos meses, Indígenas a lo largo Canadá se han levantado para reclamar su soberanía y para proteger a la Madre Tierra y el agua de la explotación de las corporaciones. En muchos casos esto se ve facilitado por los tratados de libre comercio y tratados bilaterales de inversión que buscan proteger los derechos de los inversionistas a expensas de los derechos de las comunidades y el medio ambiente.
Esta expresión de indignación se ve en todo el continente, en donde diversos pueblos originarios están protagonizando la lucha para proteger su soberanía y a la madre tierra, ejemplarmente el Pueblo Mapuche en Chile.
Urgimos a los gobiernos de Canada, América Latina, el Caribe y Europa a que respeten los derechos de las comunidades Indígenas consagrados en la Declaración de los Pueblos Indígenas de las Naciones Unidas.
Queremos brindar un abrazo fraternal a todos y todas que luchan por un nuevo amanecer y apoyamos el Día de Acción Mundial Basta de Pasividad.
Red Colombiana Frente la Gran Minería Transnacional (RECALME) – Colombia
Red Latinoamericana sobre Deuda, Desarrollo y Derechos (LATINDADD)
La Mesa Nacional frente a la Minería Metálica- El Salvador
Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC) – México
Asamblea de los pueblos de Huehuetenango por la Defensa del territorio (ADH-CPO) - Huehuetenango - Guatemala
Otros Mundos- Chiapas, México
Frente amplia opositor newgold-Minera San Xavier ‘’FAO’’ – México
Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA) – México
Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el modelo extractivo Minera (M4) – Central América
Fronteras Comunes – Canada
Observatorio por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas - Chile
Comisión Ética Contra la Tortura - Chile
Comité Oscar Romero - Chile
Solidaridad Suecia América Latina (SAL)- Ecuador
By Tria Donaldson
Our country is at a crossroads. Inspiring social movements are meeting a wall of Conservative spin. The incredible power of the Idle No More movement is being belittled in the mainstream media. Conservative forces are attempting to divide Indigenous voices, and paint the grassroots as out of touch and politically naive.
Environmental charities and labour organizations are under attack. Bill C-377 saddles trade unions with accounting measures stricter than any other type of organization has to comply with, and violates privacy rights of employees and contractors. In last year's budget, the Harper Conservatives created an eight million dollar fund to audit charities accused of too much political action, mostly targeting groups fighting tar sands expansion. These policies are meant to create a chill effect on political activity by targeting powerful civil society voices that are speaking out against the Conservative agenda.
There will be organizations/individuals from across Canada including a strong representation from Indigenous groups, indie media, youth, labour and community groups. See proposed agenda. The assembly will set-up the structure and hold initial discussions on the themes, axe, process, date and place of the Peoples Social Forum. The Assembly is free and open to all interested parties.
L'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) along with a diverse collective of organizations from across Canada have begun the process of developing a proposal for a pan-Canadian coalition that would bring together Indigenous, Quebec and Canadian social movements. This proposal will be discussed at the forum and can be found here.
Idle No More founders and organizers in Solidarity with Common Causes - a new initiative bringing together social justice, environmental, and labour will be present at the forum to share information on the world day of action on January 28th 2013.
Coverage and interest are continuing to build towards the weekend's general assembly, as this article from The Link explains.
Carta a nuestros y nuestras hermanos, hermanas
A nuestros, nuestras hermanos y hermanas indígenas
Nosotros, pueblos originarios de Canadá solicitamos el apoyo y la solidaridad de todos los movimientos de resistencia, de las organizaciones de bases, en cuanto la acción de una de nuestra hermana, Theresa Spence. Ella inició una huelga de hambre el pasado 11 de diciembre con fines de propiciar un encuentro con Stephen Harper, primer ministro, la reina Isabel II, monarca parlamentaria de Canadá y ella, representante y líder de la nación Cree de Attawapiskat.
En Octubre del 2011 (tercera vez, en tres años), Theresa Spence declaró el estado de emergencia en su comunidad del norte de la provincia de Ontario. Ella develó al mundo entero las condiciones precarias en la cual su pueblo vivía, revelando así la realidad oculta; la pobreza extrema en uno de los países más ricos del mundo. Una tormenta mediática estalló en Canadá y la situación de la comunidad aislada cautivó al país durante meses.
Sin embargo, un año más tarde, la gente de la comunidad de Attawapiskat sigue siendo sin agua potable; las viviendas (300 chabolas, 5 carpas y 17 chozas para una comunidad de 1.930 personas) se encuentran a pocos metros de suelos contaminados por la minería (Victor Diamond Mine) y sigue viviendo en condiciones infrahumanas; la dureza del clima de la zona en invierno pone en peligro las vidas de los jóvenes y ancianos.
Ahora, no solamente denunciamos la inacción del gobierno de Canadá sino que también luchamos porque el pasado 4 de diciembre, se sancionó en cámara legislativa la ley C-45. Esta legislación, muy controvertida, viene modificar, entre varias cosas, leyes ambientales (se reduce la protección de los lagos, ríos, etc., violando así los derechos de nuestra Madre Tierra), el Acta sobre los Indios (Indian Act) y la gestión del territorio. Con las modificaciones previstas, se reducirá el poder de las comunidades, transgrediendo así nuestra soberanía además de facilitar la venta de tierras a las empresas, a las minerías, etc.; acciones para las cuales los consejos comunales no necesitarán más consultar a sus bases mediante un referéndum. De ahí también la lucha de la Jefa Teresa; ¡ya basta!
Considerando que Canadá fue uno de los últimos Estados en ratificar la Declaración de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, creemos que todavía falta mucho por hacer en nuestro país para que por fin se respete nuestra soberanía.
Considerando la Declaración de Cochabamba de 2010 como piedra angular para los derechos de la Pachamama, creemos que el apoyo de las naciones latinoamericanas, sería clave en cuanto el avance de las luchas de las hermanas naciones del hemisferio norte, el desarrollo de las redes de solidaridad y la mejora general de las condiciones de nuestros y nuestras hermanos, hermanas.
Considerando que la ley C-45 violenta nuestro compromiso, nuestra voluntad en proteger la Pachamama, queremos que sumen nuestras voces y que juntos, nos unamos en la lucha.
Considerando nuestra batalla legítima, queremos que se oigan nuestras voces y que se respeten nuestros derechos y los de nuestra Madre Tierra
Considerando la declaración de Evo Morales, Presidente del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, del pasado 21 de diciembre en la Isla del Sol como fuente de inspiración; llamando al nacimiento de una nueva era; era de prosperidad, de paz e justicia social. Recordamos, escuchando a su declaración, aquella profecía resonada en Quito en 1990; la del encuentro del Cóndor y del Águila.
“Los del Centro harán que el Águila del Norte y el Cóndor del Sur se unan. Nos encontraremos con nuestros familiares ya que todos somos Uno,”
Aquella profecía atravesando las generaciones, nos parece hoy más acertada y necesaria que nunca. Sin embargo creemos que se tiene que cumplir para que converjan las energías espirituales, convirtiendo así la lucha en éxito duradero para las generaciones venideras.
Por estas razones, con fines de sellar primero a esta alianza estratégica y necesaria al cumplimiento de la profecía; el Águila del Norte y el Cóndor del Sur y segundo para sumar las voces de la resistencia frente a un sistema que no nos permite existir, vivir, pedimos a todas las organizaciones de las bases que sumen nuestras voces a las suyas.
Volvemos a ser Uno; más fuerte y unido.
Apoyamos la acción de nuestra hermana; ella, fiel representante de nuestra gente, se hizo portavoz y está dispuesta a seguir su huelga de hambre hasta las últimas consecuencias para que seamos escuchados y que cesen las constantes violaciones de nuestros derechos.
Desde el inicio de la huelga de hambre de Theresa Spence, surgió en Canadá el movimiento Idle No More (traducido por “No más inercia”) y diversas muestras de solidaridad tomaron lugar en varios lugares de Canadá, Estados Unidos y Europa.
Por todos estos motivos, hacemos un llamado a las hermanas naciones latinoamericanas para que nos respalden y que se oigan nuestras voces. Tenemos que poner fin a la arrogancia de los que nos gobiernan y que descuidan a la Pachamama.
Desde tierras canadienses, queremos hacerle llegar un abrazo revolucionario y con esto nos despedimos cordialmente,
Idle No More
El texto en español fue traducido del francés por Gabrielle Piché y Marlène Bordeleau.
By Mike Palecek,
On behalf of the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign
It is amusing to see the opposition complaining about violations of the Venezuelan constitution, considering that this is the same constitution that they publicly ripped to pieces during their briefly-lived coup in 2002. The Globe and Mail is eager to jump in on the action declaring "The Jan. 10 ceremony is not just a technicality, but a political obligation spelled out in the constitution." Such a statement makes it clear that nobody at the Globe and Mail has actually read the constitution which actually clearly states what is to be done in exactly this situation. Article 231 of the constitution reads, "If for any supervening reason, the person elected President of the Republic cannot be sworn in before the National Assembly, he shall take the oath of office before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice."
The Globe and Mail continues to insinuate that Hugo Chavez is a dictator, despite the simple fact that he has won election after election that international observers declare "free and fair". They ignore the fact that he brought in a constitution which is arguably the most democratic in the world and even includes the ability to recall the President between elections. They never mention the fact that former US President Jimmy Carter recently said, "of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world."
In reality the reason for the opposition to Chavez from big business and the world's media has nothing to do with his democratic ideals. Hugo Chavez's crime is that he has taken the enormous wealth of his country and invested it into his people, rather than allowing foreign corporations to continue plundering the country. Since Chavez's first election, extreme poverty has been reduced from 40% of the population down to 7.3%. Illiteracy has been wiped-out. Free healthcare and education have been established. The infant mortality rate has been cut in half. The number of doctors has gone from 18 for every 10,000 citizens to 58 for every 10,000 citizens. Every social indicator has seen a dramatic improvement during Chavez's time in office.
This is why the majority of Venezuelans vote for Chavez again and again. I can only hope that such a "dictator" is elected in Canada one day.
By Ken Georgetti & Maude Barlow
Published on Rabble.ca
Imagine a country where the national government introduces and passes legislation that detrimentally affects all of its First Nations communities but it doesn't bother to consult with them. Then a chief of an impoverished northern First Nation community goes on a hunger strike to get a meeting between the First Nations leadership and the government several months after this legislation was passed. Does this have implications for all Canadians? You bet it does. This will not be the last time that individuals or groups will take such extreme measures in response to the federal government's public policy process or lack thereof.
All Canadians owe a debt of gratitude to Chief Theresa Spence's and Elder Raymond Robinson's hunger strikes. These individuals are calling attention to an intolerable situation among First Nations communities. They are also highlighting concerns common to many Canadians about dangers posed by unilateral government actions to the natural environment and the state of our democracy.
The hunger strike has galvanized widespread protests by youthful and energetic supporters of the Idle No More movement. These are all predictable responses to a government that routinely bullies anyone who does not agree with it, refuses to consult, and prefers ideology over evidence when developing and implementing public policy.
Of major concern to First Nations and many other Canadians are two omnibus budget bills (C-38 and C-45) that were imposed upon the country during the past year. These bills each comprised hundreds of pages and contained legislative changes that went far beyond what was contained in the budget.
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