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The time to execute a national strategy for addressing environmental racism is now

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 04:00

This week on rabble radio, national politics reporter Stephen Wentzell speaks to Dr. Jane McArthur. McArthur is the Toxics Program director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). 

McArthur, other members of CAPE and advocates for environmental protection and public health are calling on Parliament to expedite passage of Bill C-226, Canada’s first environmental racism law. 

Bill C-226 was first introduced by former MP Lenore Zann as Bill C-230 in the last session of Parliament. It was approved by the House of Commons in June last year, but died on the order paper when Parliament dissolved for elections. In February of this year, now co-leader of the federal Green Party Elizabeth May re-introduced the same legislation as Bill C-226. 

The time is now to develop and implement a national strategy on environmental racism and environmental justice, McArthur says. 

“Canada talks about itself as a country of kindness, but we need to see that reflected in our policies and we should not be tolerating vulnerablization of any community.”  – Dr. Jane McArthur

Photo: Markus Spiske on Unsplash 

Don’t miss our final Off the Hill event of 2022!

This December, our panel is taking a look back to look forward, as we close off 2022 and think ahead to 2023.

From the Freedom Convoy, to major action in Canada’s labour movement, to the ongoing war in Ukraine, to political leadership races on the provincial and federal levels; our esteemed panel will reflect on a year that had no shortage of newsworthy events, and then ask: what does this mean we can expect for the year ahead? 

Our panel includes MP Leah Gazan, El Jones, Karl Nerenberg. Co-hosted by Robin Browne and Libby Davies. Join us this December 14, 2022. 

Register for this free event here! 

If you like the show please consider subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. And please, rate, review, share rabble radio with your friends — it takes two seconds to support independent media like rabble. Follow us on social media across channels @rabbleca. Or, if you have feedback for the show, get in touch anytime at editor@rabble.ca.

The post The time to execute a national strategy for addressing environmental racism is now appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Everything you wanted to know about Kenney’s departure from AB politics but were afraid to ask

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 14:29

Question: Now that Jason Kenney has taken to social media to announce he’s retiring from Alberta politics, how likely is it that Premier Danielle Smith will call a by-election in his Calgary-Lougheed riding?

Answer: Not very. 

Premier Smith presumably will use the same excuses she did in October when she called a by-election in a conveniently vacated safe rural seat for herself but didn’t bother calling one in Calgary-Elbow, where MLA and former cabinet minister Doug Schweitzer had quit more than a month earlier. 

To wit: She said she didn’t have to fill the seat because there’s an election planned in less than a year, and anyway, only holding one by-election would save money.

The real reason, of course, is that she was afraid the NDP would win a by-election in Calgary, and still is, even in a normally safe Conservative riding. 

However, residents of Calgary-Elbow and Calgary-Lougheed can comfort themselves that they won’t really need an MLA anyway if Smith’s Sovereignty Act is passed, which of course it will be by the UCP’s spineless caucus. 

Conservative MLAs in Alberta are mostly decorative at the best of times, all the more so since the Sovereignty Act – technically but tendentiously known as the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act (ASWUCA)– will make their presence in the Legislature purely ornamental. 

One is tempted to suggest their roles are about as meaningful as those of members of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China.

Admittedly, that’s bit hyperbolic. In truth, the ASWUCA if unchallenged would leave Premier Smith with more in common with Hungarian Premier Viktor Orbán, known for his efforts to erode judicial independence, undermine parliamentary democracy, and encourage ethnic nationalism while maintaining the trappings of democracy. 

Mind you, as I expect we will see, it’s a lot easier to turn a unitary state into an “illiberal Christian democracy,” as Orbán puts it, than a province in a federation where all provinces are already sovereign within their jurisdictions and a mechanism for resolving sovereignty disputes already exists in the courts. 

Given the existence of Canada’s courts, I would say the chance the ASWUCA will not be challenged are nil, and the chances it will survive a challenge unscathed are remote. 

Q: Is Kenney unhappy about the Sovereignty Act

A: Of course he is. 

He denounced it during the leadership campaign, in which he demonstrated how little influence he had over the party he all but created, just as he did in his failed effort to win a party leadership review in the face of the attacks by the Take Back Alberta cabal that backed Ms. Smith and now controls the UCP.

And he vaguely complained about it again in his resignation statement, which he tweeted along with his resignation letter Tuesday. 

“We are the inheritors of great institutions built around abiding principles which were generated by a particular historical context,” he bloviated. “Our Westminster parliamentary democracy, part of our constitutional monarchy, is the guardian of a unique tradition of ordered liberty and the rule of law, all of which is centred on a belief in the inviolable dignity of the human person and an obligation to promote the common good. 

“How these principles are applied to any particular issue as a matter for prudent judgment,” he continued wishy-washily. “But I am concerned that our democratic life is veering away from ordinary prudential debate towards a polarization that undermines our bedrock institution and principles.”

This is pretty cheeky, coming from a politician whose stock in trade was division and polarization – at least when it worked for him – notwithstanding his dubious shot at “the far left” for wishing to “cancel our history,” etc., and his complaint about his own side for “a vengeful anger and toxic cynicism which often seeks to tear things down.” (That is to say, presumably, for dumping him and then choosing Smith to replace him.)

Well, sometimes that’s what happens when you let the genie of divisiveness out of the bottle, and it’s hard to feel much sympathy for Kenney’s wish for a chance to “continue contributing to our democratic life by sharing some of what I have learned on a range of issues, including immigration, national security, Indigenous economic development, the state of the federation, economic growth, energy, and much more.”

No thank you, Mr. Kenney! You should forget about your dream of being an elder statesman beloved by all if you’re not even willing to forthrightly and bluntly condemn Smith’s Sovereignty Act for what it is, a gross power grab that will be deeply harmful to Alberta and those of us who live here. 

Instead, Kenney left the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, of all organizations, to do the heavy lifting on the Sovereignty Act reaction file. 

Chamber president Deborah Yedlin said yesterday the bill is unsupported by even “a shred of evidence” it will do anything positive for Alberta’s economy. “You can’t tell me this is going to support economic growth and support continued economic diversification in this province,” she said.

Well, at least no one is likely to condemn Kenney if in future he chooses to use his mom’s nursing home’s address as his legal address for Alberta, as he did back when he was an MP. 

But I think he’s more likely to look next for a condo in the nation’s capital, where he is a fully paid-up member of the “Laurentian elite,” after all, and is sure to have many congenial friends.

He should be able to afford it: Kenney’s generous Parliamentary pension from his many days in Ottawa as a Calgary MP is scheduled to kick in on his 55th birthday, May 30, 2023.

That’s the day after Alberta is supposedly scheduled to hold a general election, an event that is unlikely to take place on schedule if the Smith Government’s electoral prospects look as grim next spring as they do right now. 

The post Everything you wanted to know about Kenney’s departure from AB politics but were afraid to ask appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

HIV infects a new woman every two minutes, reads World AIDS Day report

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 12:57

Each year on December 1, on World AIDS Day experts, advocates, survivors and loved ones remember the often-forgotten pandemic that has killed tens of millions over the course of four decades.

One organization leading the fight against the pandemic since 1996 is UNAIDS.

According to UNAIDS, more than 75 million people have been diagnosed with HIV over the course of the pandemic, with 35 million people (45 per cent) dying from AIDS-related illnesses.

The organization, which has a 2021-2026 global strategy plan to combat the HIV/AIDS crisis, says 650,000 people continue to die each year from the disease. In 2021, there were over 38 million people living with HIV, including 1.5 million people who newly acquired the virus.

On Tuesday, UNAIDS issued an 80-page World AIDS Day 2022 report, explaining why global efforts to end the crisis are failing: inequalities.

“The world is not on track to end the AIDS pandemic,” UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said in the report. “New infections are rising and AIDS deaths are continuing in too many communities.”

“In frank terms, the report calls the world’s attention to the painful reality that dangerous inequalities are undermining the AIDS response and jeopardising the health security of everyone,” Byanyima added.

The report covers three specific areas of inequality that require immediate and concrete action. They include gender inequalities and harmful masculinities driving HIV, marginalization and criminalization of key populations, and inequalities for children “whose lives must matter more than their market share.”

“The world will not be able to defeat AIDS while reinforcing patriarchy,” Byanyima said, adding the only effective path to eliminating AIDS is a “feminist route map.”

HIV cases on the rise in Atlantic Canada

While fatalities due to HIV/AIDs continue to fall in North America, new cases are still being recorded in Canada every year.

In October, public health officials in Nova Scotia warned of an increase in people newly diagnosed with HIV in the province.

According to Public Health Nova Scotia, experts anticipate between 15 and 20 new cases of HIV in Nova Scotia throughout the course of a year. But by the end of August, officials reported 20-to-25 cases — putting the province on track to diagnose between 30 and 38 new cases by the end of the year.

While the rates of newly diagnosed patients is on track to double, Public Health warns that data is subject to change “due to changes in case status, delays in reporting, and/or data validation,” while encouraging readers to interpret the data “with caution.”

“People newly diagnosed with HIV have been primarily traced back to social circles based in Halifax Regional Municipality, although [patients] live throughout the province,” a press release reads, adding the investigation found the most prominent risk factors identified are men who have sex with men, and people who use drugs. 

In Nova Scotia, individuals looking to access HIV testing can do so through primary care providers including family doctors, nurse practitioners, walk-in clinics and by virtual care.

How visa restrictions perpetuated harm at AIDS 2022

While the COVID-19 pandemic and spread of Monkeypox have remained top of mind, experts say neglecting the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis could lead to a rise in new cases.

Back in July, the Montreal-hosted International AIDS Conference was filled with controversy after several prominent public health experts and advocates had their Canadian visas denied or their application process was backlogged and left them unable to make it to Quebec for the annual event.

For Terri Ford, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Chief of Global Advocacy, turning away delegates from AIDS 2022 demonstrated “the stark contrast of how people in the Global North are treated compared to the Global South,” calling the move “unacceptable and a significant detriment to the world’s ability to end the ‘other pandemic’ in HIV/AIDS.”

“… [T]his conference, which was supposed to bring together the most experienced and passionate HIV/AIDS activists representing countries with the worst disease burden, could not even get into [Canada],” Ford said back in July.

The visa restrictions, which prevented public health experts from discussing global health equity, came as wealthy countries continue hoarding vaccines in a pattern of being unwilling to share vital health knowledge with countries that have developing health-care systems.

Young women at growing risk of contracting HIV

Every two minutes, a young woman in the world aged 15-to-24 acquired HIV in 2021. 

According to the UNAIDS report, gender-based violence increases women’s risks of HIV infection, and in turn, prevents women from accessing life-saving services. For example, girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 are three times more likely to acquire HIV than boys and young men in the same age demographic in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report points to a study showing that enabling girls to stay in school until they finish secondary education reduces their vulnerability to HIV infection by up to 50 per cent. It’s all part of interrupting power dynamics and tackling inequalities. 

While more than 75 per cent of adults living with HIV are on antiretroviral therapy, just over half of children living with HIV are on the same life-saving medication. 

Children continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. In 2021, children made up just four per cent of all people living with HIV but 15 per cent of all AIDS-related deaths. 

The same year, UNAIDS reported funding for HIV programs in low and middle-income countries was $8 million USD short.

As another World AIDS Day comes and goes, it remains to be seen whether 2022 will be the year governments choose to become world leaders in ending this crisis.

The post HIV infects a new woman every two minutes, reads World AIDS Day report appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Dancing for joy with Gurdeep Pandher of the Yukon

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 05:00

Each year, we here at rabble ask our readers: “What are the organizations that inspire you? Who are the activists leading progressive change? Who are the rabble rousers to watch?” And every year, your responses introduce us to a new group of inspiring change-makers. This is our ‘rabble rousers to watch’ series. Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing features about the people and organizations you nominated. Follow our rabble rousers to watch here

To wrap up our ‘rabble rousers to watch’ series of 2022, we’re taking a trip to Canada’s Great White North. 

Meet Gurdeep Pandher: a Bhangra dancer, artist, writer and social media personality. 

Born in Siahar, Punjab, Pandher moved to Whitehorse, Yukon in 2006. During the pandemic, Pandher recorded videos of himself joyfully Bhangra dancing in the wilderness of the Yukon Territory. And at a time when the world needed a bit of extra positivity and healing, his videos went viral. 

We spoke with Gurdeep Pandher to talk about his work and what he hopes people take away from his videos.

A conversation with Gurdeep Pandher of the Yukon 

rabble.ca: Can you tell us about the work that you’re doing and the message you’re trying to share with the world?

Gurdeep Pandher: I spread joy, hope and positivity for healing through my uplifting messages and Bhangra dancing. I create videos in the beautiful nature of the Yukon, and it helps others to connect with the outdoor environment. I also use dance as a mechanism to build cross-cultural bridges across the country.

rabble.ca: How did you first get involved in this form of activism?

GP: I saw that there was a lot of darkness in the world, and a growing division between different communities, which was creating fear and hate. I decided to send positivity into the universe with the hope that this would remind people of the importance of being together and putting humanity first. 

rabble.ca: How do you take care of yourself and find the drive to keep going?

GP: I take care of myself by connecting with the pristine wilderness of the Yukon and being with precious elements of nature. Taking the time to breathe in the fresh, natural air revitalizes my spirit and keeps me motivated. I also receive many handwritten letters from Canadians coast to coast to coast, the love and warmth in those letters boost my energy to be on this path. 

rabble.ca: What is one goal you have in the next year?

GP: I like to flow with nature, and I usually do not make big plans, but I hope to write a book collecting my experiences from the Yukon and the arctic environment. 

rabble.ca: What do you wish people knew about the work/organizing you do?

GP: I want people to know that my work is not about creating viral videos. It is about creating healing, fostering togetherness, and reminding people of the importance of joy, hope and positivity. My work also focuses on bridging cultural gaps and racial divides in Canada. 

Gurdeep Pandher on YouTube | Used with permission

The post Dancing for joy with Gurdeep Pandher of the Yukon appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Antimicrobial resistance, a threat to global health

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 11:49

With the onset of winter various kinds of throat and respiratory tract infections are on the rise. Ontario and the federal government both are doing all efforts to develop new medicines to control the spread of microorganisms and their new variants.

Before the discovery of Penicillin by Alexander Flemming at St. Mary’s Hospital, London in 1928, having a simple scratch could lead to an infection that could kill. Naturally occurring chemical elements and chemical compounds were historically used as therapies for a variety of infections. Halogen compounds of chlorine, bromine, and iodine, and mercury containing compounds were used to treat infected wounds and gangrene. The written records about the use of medicinal plants date back at least 5,000 years to Sumerians. In the ninth century A.D., Arab scientist Geber Ibne Hayaan gave the theory which says purity leads to cure and impurity to disease, then some parts of society started purification and separation of medicinal herbs.

After COVID-19 pandemic, awareness and the need to focus on life-threatening infections has rapidly increased and researchers are working round the clock to prepare new medicines and vaccines.

One of the most serious threats is the development of resistance in microorganisms against antimicrobial medicines. Antimicrobial is a medicine that kills microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, molds and viruses. They include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics. They are used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants.

With the excessive use of antimicrobial medicines, antimicrobial resistance is increasing, and microbial pathogens (disease causing) are rapidly evolving to become resistant. According to a University of Calgary 2016 analysis at least 700,000 people die every year due to drug resistant infections. It means the germs develop the ability to defeat the medicines formulated to destroy them, they suppress the medicinal effects and continue to grow, making infections harder or impossible to treat.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is always there to some extent in all germs, but with the constant exposure to medicines, the degree of resistance increases, and a time comes where a new variant is mutated or the prevailing one becomes fully resistant to that medicine.

Superbugs are strains of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that have already become resistant to most of the antibiotics and other medications commonly used. A few examples of superbugs include the bacteria that can cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections and skin infections. 

High rates of resistance for some common bacteria have been found worldwide which shows we are running out of effective antibiotics. For example, the rate of resistance to ciprofloxacin (Fluoroquinolone), a medicine commonly used to treat bone and joints infections, skin infections, infectious diarrhea and urinary tract infections varied from 8.4 per cent for E. Coli (Escherichia Coli) to 92.9 per cent. There are many countries where this treatment is now ineffective in more than half patients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized AMR is one of the top 10 global public health and development threats, and it has become a serious challenge for chemists, doctors and pharmaceutical researchers to find rapid solutions.

The main drivers of antimicrobial resistance include the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene and poor infection and disease prevention, less access to quality affordable medicines, vaccines and diagnostics, and the lack of awareness and knowledge.

New antibiotics are urgently needed, and we need to invest in research and development. We also need to reduce unnecessary use of antimicrobials to avoid changes in the behavior and structure of pathogens (disease causing germs), which occurs through an evolutionary action inside the pathogen.

The cost of AMR to the economy can’t be ignored. In addition to death, prolonged illness results in longer hospital stays, the use of more expensive medicines, increased cost of treatments, disappointment and frustration in patients. All of which becomes a burden on both patients and the health care system. 

In Canada, antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance are monitored regularly in healthcare settings and in our food chain, through four surveillance systems:

The National Microbiology Laboratory of the Public Health Agency of Canada, contributes to research and surveillance by:

  • providing services to provincial public health and hospital laboratories that help confirm antibiotic resistance in bacteria,
  • supporting outbreak investigations.
  • conducting research to identify new technologies and methodologies that could influence both antibiotic use and the identification of resistant bacteria.

In 2018-2019 US government accelerated to fight against AMR and more than 350 organizations across the globe came closer to commit the slowing down of AMR. The challenge kicked off and concluded at United Nations General Assembly side events in 2018 and 2019.

The five commitments made were:

1-Track, share and improve data collection.

2-Reduce the spread of resistant germs.

3-Improve antibiotics use including ensuring to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics and use them only when needed. 

4-Decrease antibiotics and resistance in the environment, including improving sanitation.

5-Invest in development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, development, and improved access 

Our efforts are always a key to success, but we need to practice what we say.

The post Antimicrobial resistance, a threat to global health appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

U of T workers’ fight against precarity

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 08:42

At the University of Toronto, members of CUPE 3902 Unit 3 are rapidly approaching a strike deadline of December 8, 2022, having been without a Collective Agreement since August 31, 2021. I’m a sessional lecturer at the university as well as a proud member of the bargaining team. I’ve been an educator for three decades as well as a university lecturer for nine years, and, with one of the tools of my trade being storytelling, indulge me for a moment as I share a quick narrative.

Before Nickelback became a household name, members of this Canadian rock band were piecing together gigs here and there in the hope their grunge cover band at the time – Village Idiot – would bring in enough of an income that they wouldn’t have to get day jobs. The band’s drummer, Brandon Kroeger – also the cousin of lead singer Chad Kroeger – eventually gave up his drumsticks for a suit and tie, abandoning his dreams for economic predictability. Had Brandon hung in a bit longer he would now be a very wealthy man like his cousin, but one can hardly blame him for walking away from the precarity of his days as a Village Idiot.

Our society generally accepts that there is a risk in pursuing a career in the arts, and indeed underappreciated artists have contended with precarity for centuries. Relatively recently, employers such as the University of Toronto decreed that academics should also be destined for Village Idiot lives of precarity and subsistence. Rather than creating employment opportunities that come with pension, benefits, and job security, the university has instead created groups of employees that have none of those “perks” and, in fact, cannot even count on their library cards or internet access extending beyond the length of their single-term contracts. There are three main reasons why the university forcing precarity on employees is a short-sighted approach: it diminishes employee loyalty and retention, it makes doing our work more challenging, and it erodes the overall quality of the services we deliver.

As a lecturer at the university, I’m passionate about and good at what I do. Based on the work alone, I’d be tempted to stay forever. As a single parent with two young children, though, I need more predictability and care than what’s on offer. Even with a full-time course load, the university sets a ceiling of $1775 on my Health Care Spending Account, which quickly evaporates when I start forking out funds for dental bills and prescription glasses. Before obtaining a doctorate to begin my work at the university, I had much more generous health care coverage as a public school teacher. I also had the promise of a stable pension, but at the university there’s no pension in sight. In what world does an employer think this insulting treatment correlates with employee loyalty and retention?

Like many members of CUPE 3902 Unit 3, my precarious employment at the University of Toronto leads directly to the need to juggle opportunities with multiple workplaces: a contract here, a CV update there, a day job here, an interview there. Rather than being fully supported in my work with my students, the fragility of my employment demands constant attention be given to seeking other income sources, lining up future job opportunities, and ensuring that my foot remains simultaneously in multiple doors. I’d love to attend more department meetings, to participate in research initiatives, and to stick around after the workday for informal chats around the water cooler. But why, oh why, University of Toronto, do you think I have time for all of that when you’re forcing me to book gig after gig rather than allowing me to have a more singular focus on the work you’re paying me to do?

As a current member of the CUPE 3902 Unit 3 Bargaining Team with a mandate to bring forward Unit 3 members’ bargaining priorities, I’ve been fascinated to hear firsthand at the table the employer’s posturing about how concerned they are with maintaining high quality. I’m not buying their performance and believe instead that it’s only a matter of time before their shortsighted employment practices erode the very quality they claim to hold sacred.

I’ve been in this contract-after-contract quagmire for 9 years now, hired back repeatedly while rising through advancement process ranks because of the high-quality work that I do. Forgive me, University of Toronto, for not subscribing to the bogus argument that offering me and my colleagues some modicum of job security would erode the quality of this institution; you know already that your employees are doing great work. Forgive me, University of Toronto, for not accepting your assertion that the purpose of lecturers is merely to “fill in” for tenure-track folks who are on leave; you already know that some lecturers have been “filling in” for more than a quarter century. For goodness’ sake, University of Toronto management, can you at least have the decency to admit that your precarious employment scheme is about institutional profit and not at all about institutional quality?

Perhaps it’s time for all precarious employees at the university to ponder whether or not it’s worth continuing in precarity as the academic equivalents of a Village Idiot, especially when the employer seems not to comprehend that our exceptional talents set the beat for this organization. Does the university want employees who are loyal, engaged, and high quality? Or are they content to take the risk that one by one, their employees will trade in both drumsticks and dreams? Nobody wants to be the almost-Nickelback-guy, but one could hardly blame anyone for walking away from this absurdly precarious system. University of Toronto employees aren’t the only ones with a decision to make, though. It’s time for university management to wake up to the myriad ways they’re harming what could and should remain a truly world-class institution.

The post U of T workers’ fight against precarity appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Hassan Diab supporters urge government to deny extradition

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 08:00

Earlier this month, supporters of sociology professor Dr. Hassan Diab held a press conference calling for an end to his unjust persecution by the French government.

Diab’s ordeal dates back to 2008, when France requested his extradition from Canada, alleging he was involved in the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing. In 2012, Diab was ordered to be extradited to France to stand trial on terrorism charges. He was transferred into the custody of law enforcement in France in 2014. 

The extradition took place despite the extradition judge calling into question the legitimacy of the prosecutor’s evidence and called the chances of Diab being convicted “unlikely.” Despite his findings, he would go on to rule that Canada’s extradition law required him to go ahead with the process anyway.

Diab was forced to spend the 38-month wait for his trial behind bars. The charges were dropped in January 2018 due to what judges called “a lack of evidence” and he returned to Canada.

But that was just the beginning of the professor’s persecution by the criminal justice system in France, who were determined to hold Diab responsible for the bombing whether he was guilty or not. 

Diab, who has asserted he was in home country Lebanon at the time of the bombing, found himself back in the courtroom after an appeals court in Paris reversed the dismissal and ordered a trial in early 2021. That’s despite prosecutors admitting they have doubts about Diab’s involvement in the bombing.

A miscarriage of justice and the scapegoating of Hassan Diab

The November 14 virtual press conference brought attention to the professor’s upcoming trial in absentia in France, which is scheduled to begin in April 2023, and the renewed efforts calling on the Trudeau government to reject a second extradition in the likely event of a request by France.

The press conference marked the eighth anniversary of Diab’s extradition and calls for an end to what supporters consider “a miscarriage of justice.” 

Hosted by the national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Tim McSorley, the virtual event brought together Dalhousie University law professor Robert Currie, and Diab’s Canadian lawyer Donald Bayne, as well as members of the Hassan Diab Support Committee.

“I remember the powerful and emotional moment when Hassan returned to Canada and was freed from prison in France,” McSorley said. “The fact that France could now proceed to trial is the height of political cynicism and scapegoating.”

For former secretary general of Amnesty International Canada Alex Neve, Diab’s continued persecution despite credible evidence suggests “there is no space for truth, evidence, common sense, fairness, or respect for fundamental human rights.”

Roger Clark, member of the Hassan Diab Support Committee and former secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, noted that much of Diab’s time in custody was spent in solitary confinement, despite having never been officially charged or had the chance to face trial.

Clark recalled three key statements the judge made in his decision to extradite Diab, including referring to the French expert handwriting report as “convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect.” 

Additionally, the judge wrote “the evidence tips the scale in favour of committal is the handwriting comparison evidence,” before going on to call the case presented by France “weak.”

He pointed out that the handwriting evidence has been discredited, not only by international experts who testified on Diab’s behalf, but also by a final expert analysis commissioned by the French court of appeal itself. 

“Without the so-called handwriting evidence submitted by France in its extradition request, Hassan would never have been extradited, would never have endured the torment of the last 15 years, and would be free of the anguish still suffered by him and his family,” the judge’s decision goes on to read.

Diab’s persistent courage speaks volumes to supporters

Calling the persecution an “ongoing nightmare,” fellow Hassan Diab Support Committee member Jo Wood worries Canada will cave in to another extradition request by France, noting “silence ratchets up the fear.”

“While there is not a shred of evidence against him, he cannot — based on past experience and the political climate — expect the outcome of this trial to be fair,” Wood said. “Fear and dread weigh heavily, made worse by the federal government’s silence in terms of protecting him from further extradition.”

Wood highlighted the courage and resilience of Diab and his wife Rania, praising their perseverance in giving their two children — 10-year-old Jenna and 7-year-old Chad — a wonderful life.

“They refuse to give up or be seen as victims, though they truly are,” Wood said. 

The need for extradition law reform

Currie, who teaches at the Schulich School of Law in Halifax, has a personal stake in Diab’s case. The professor has spent several years working on “a very serious law reform effort,” one that’s directly related to Canada’s extradition laws and practices. His work is centred around the country’s treaty relationships and the way they are both dealt with and arranged. 

He pointed out one way cases like Diab’s can be avoided is if the federal government sought to apply the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the extradition act. Currie also believes there needs to be more transparency in the country’s international cooperation efforts.

“I think I can say quite safely that this law reform effort is easily premised on one point, which is that an illegal system that would result in the horrendous situation that we’ve seen Dr. Diab and his family being placed in, is a legal system that needs to be changed and to be reformed,” Currie said.

While he hasn’t yet been asked to participate, Currie is pleased to hear the House of Commons justice committee is considering a study on extradition reform, and hopes he can take part in the crucial and necessary work to bring procedure and fairness back to extradition laws.

A word from Diab’s lawyer

Crediting Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland for her efforts in bringing Diab back to Canada, Bayne pointed out Trudeau himself promised upon Diab’s return that what happened to him must never be allowed to happen again.

Bayne’s message to the federal government is simple: The evidence was unreliable then, and it’s unreliable now. Pitting a demonstrably innocent man between two governments who are vastly outnumbered in terms of financial and legal resources, Bayne said, would mean Trudeau has gone back on that promise.

“It’s time to do something about this,” Bayne said.

The post Hassan Diab supporters urge government to deny extradition appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Alberta’s ‘unconstitutional Sovereignty Act’ would let ministers rule by decree

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 07:47

Bill 1, the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act, was given the wrong name. 

Premier Danielle Smith’s signature first piece of legislation, introduced yesterday after Lieutenant Governor Salma Lahkani read an otherwise typically lacklustre Throne Speech setting out the United Conservative Party (UCP) government’s legislative agenda, really should have been called the Alberta Dictatorship Within a Democratic Canada Act

While the entire Alberta commentariat – journalists, pundits, professors of political science and economics, rival politicians, social media pontificators and even Yours Truly – expected some kind of lame frontal assault attempting to prevent the federal government from enacting laws in federal jurisdiction that annoy Alberta’s current government, Premier Smith has done something quite different and unexpected.

“During the UCP leadership race,” Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt, who is well known to the readers of this blog, said yesterday, “I had assumed (wrongly) that the Sovereignty Act was about asserting Alberta’s sovereignty vis-à-vis federal government. It is actually granting massive new powers to the Premier/Cabinet vis-à-vis fed govt, AB legislature, and all Albertans.”

That is to say, Smith has brought forward a law that, unchallenged, would allow the provincial cabinet to unilaterally make laws without consulting the Legislature as long as complacent government MLAs passed a motion saying the cabinet needed scope to act to counter some federal incursion into provincial jurisdiction, real or imagined. 

“What Danielle Smith is advancing,” said political scientist Emmett Macfarlane of the University of Waterloo, “is an unconstitutional affront to the separation of powers, the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, the powers of the (lieutenant governor), and democracy itself. It cannot stand.”

In other words, Macfarlane continued bluntly in one of many tweets on the topic after the release of the legislation, it is “perhaps the most blatantly unconstitutional pile of crap ever introduced in a legislature in modern Canadian history.”

“By Bill 1’s own plainly stated text, a federal law could be a *valid* exercise of federal authority under the division of powers and the Alberta government could still unilaterally amend law and force provincial entities to defy it,” he said, calling it “a naked assault on the rule of law.”

“Under our system of government, purporting to let cabinet rewrite legislation and bypass the legislature is LITERALLY the end of democracy,” he continued. “It’s the evisceration of responsible government and representation. It is – without exaggeration – an attempt to impose a dictatorship.”

Interestingly, something similar was considered by Conservative Premier Blaine Higgs in New Brunswick early in the pandemic, and later abandoned. 

The New Brunswick legislation would have allowed Premier Higgs and his cabinet “to override laws without seeking the approval of the elected legislature, as long as an emergency has been declared. It’s the executive that decides whether or not there is an emergency, so the law would allow the premier and his colleagues to rule by decree.”

So, obviously Canadian “conservatives,” like their counterparts in other inconveniently democratic jurisdictions that are growing wise to the danger of neoliberal dogma have been contemplating measures that would allow them to override democracy to continue to advance their agendas. 

It’s also been clear for a while Smith’s advisors – including her campaign manager and former Wildrose Party House leader Rob Anderson and University of Calgary professor Barry Cooper – have wanted to create a constitutional crisis. 

Perhaps they will succeed with this, although it seems likely that the first place the Sovereignty Act will be going is to court, where chances are good the judiciary will make short work of it. 

University of Alberta political science professor Jared Wesley suggested it is likely to be struck down on three grounds: It attempts an end-run around responsible government (the principle that the cabinet answers to the legislature), it would compel provincial entities to break federal law, and it usurps the powers of the judicial branch of government by giving the provincial cabinet the powers of the courts. 

Of course, when that happens, it will give Smith the excuse to pursue a more openly separatist agenda, which while it is unlikely to succeed, will certainly harm Alberta and Canada.

There’s plenty more where these quotes came from, and we can expect to hear a lot more on this story in the days and weeks ahead. 

I’ll give the last word today to University of Calgary political scientist Lisa Young, whose thoughtful Substack hot take on the act sets out several troubling ways the Smith Government might use the act to “hurt Albertans at least as much (if not more) as it would hurt the interests of the federal government.”

For example, by ordering police to ignore federal gun restrictions in Alberta’s cities, putting Albertans in the line of fire. 

There is no way that the federal government will allow itself to be seen to be caving in to these antics,” Young concludes. “That would invite every province to give itself the same kind of power. At that point, the federal government becomes entirely ineffective and the constitution starts to unravel.”

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Categories: F. Left News

Should we be worried about eight billion people?

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 07:27

The human population just reached eight billion! Does it matter?

Our numbers have quadrupled in my lifetime — and doubled since 1975. It’s undeniable that rapid growth of any species in a finite environment will have consequences. As humans require more land, water, trees and fuels, we leave less for other species and upset ecological equilibrium.

When people consume as we have in the Global North, or aspire to, the problems become far more severe.

How connected are climate change and population growth, though? Maybe not so much. A recent UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs report states, “although high-income and upper-middle-income countries contain around 50 per cent of the global population, they contribute around 85 per cent of global emissions of carbon dioxide. Such emissions from upper-middle-income countries have more than doubled since 2000, even though the population growth rate was falling throughout this period.”

The average person in the U.S. and Canada emits more than twice as much as someone in the European Union or the U.K. and 10 times as much as in India and Pakistan. But Pakistan, like many countries that have contributed least to the problem, has been hit hard by climate impacts, with one-third of the country devastated by floods in 2022.

It’s clear that the immediate concern is excessive consumption. Population growth is already slowing, with 10.4 billion humans expected by 2080, followed by a levelling off. One study found that increase would contribute much less to global heating than, for example, not putting a price on carbon.

We can cut consumption immediately, but stabilizing population growth takes time, and will require ongoing global efforts to strengthen women’s rights, provide education to women, girls and families and ensure access to family planning resources and birth control.

Focusing more on population than consumption ignores the far greater impacts wealthy countries — where population growth is slowing — are creating.

Consider also that much of the Global North’s wealth is in effect stolen from the Global South. Through ongoing colonial enterprises, wealthy people and nations have exploited the natural resources and people of lands everywhere — from slavery to driving Indigenous Peoples from their own territories and destroying lands and waters for mining, fossil fuel development, industrial agriculture and massive dams and power plants.

One study found unequal exchange is draining US$10 trillion a year from Global South countries and that “in 2015 the North net appropriated from the South 12 billion tons of embodied raw material equivalents, 822 million hectares of embodied land, 21 exajoules of embodied energy, and 188 million person-years of embodied labour, worth $10.8 trillion in Northern prices — enough to end extreme poverty 70 times over.”

They concluded that this “unequal exchange is significant driver of global inequality, uneven development, and ecological breakdown.”

Climate disruption is caused mainly by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from consumer-driven economics in the Global North, much of it founded on exploitation of labour and resources of countries and people who don’t reap anything near equal benefits. Many of those countries are now experiencing severe climate-related crises, from massive floods to deadly heat waves to increasing human migration. And people argue population growth is the main problem?

That’s why recent discussions at the COP27 climate summit and beyond about “loss and damage” compensation and funding to help Global South countries adapt to the inevitable and avoid the worst climate impacts should not have been controversial.

All of us who have benefited from decades or centuries of exploitation owe a debt to vulnerable people, communities and nations. At the very least, we ought to do everything possible to curtail our consumer lifestyles and reduce our environmental footprints, including reducing emissions.

But it’s not just up to individuals; industry must pay its share. That’s why a “windfall profits tax” is garnering a lot of attention. Properly done, it would tax the massive returns fossil fuel companies are raking in — fuelled in part by global conflict — and use the money to help those at risk.

Our immediate crisis is caused by a system that encourages endless growth, exploitation, waste and energy use. Population growth is a factor, but it’s one that can be addressed partly by rethinking our greed-based economic system and the inequalities it creates.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at davidsuzuki.org.

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Categories: F. Left News

Big Ag, Big Data, Big Finance — New frontiers for the food barons

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 07:18

t is becoming increasingly clear that over the last few years the pandemic has allowed for “crisis profiteering” in the food industry. Those profits are also leading to a new round of corporate concentration in the food industry — and the direction agri-business is taking globally provides a lot to “chew on”.

So states a report published by the ETC Group, a respected, small, international, research and action collective which advocates for just and ecological agri-food systems.

The recently published report titled Food Barons 2022: Crisis Profiteering, Digitalizaton, and Shifting Power, lays out the global landscape in 10 major areas of our food and agriculture system, identifies the key corporate players in each, and measures how concentrated their power has become. Just a handful of corporations, between four and six, operate in each of the sectors ranging from agro-chemicals, seeds, synthetic fertilizers, livestock genetics, farm machinery, through to food retail and delivery systems.

Twenty-five years ago the ETC Group reported that just 10 companies controlled 40 per cent of the seed industry. Fast forward to today, and only two companies control the same market share in the seed industry. Sector by sector, Food Barons 2022 chronicles corporate concentration in the global food system with staggering facts and figures.

The report, which includes an eerily beautiful cover, reads a bit like science fiction — but that is wishful thinking, since what is documented is real and happening as I write.

Food Barons 2022 also delves into the deeper impacts of corporate concentration as related to the digitalization of agriculture, and the industrial food systems promise that technology and “precision agriculture” will bring about a cleaner, more productive, and healthier food system.

To use an old farm expression — some hope that this pig in a poke will pass muster in our eagerness to find ways to mitigate climate change, offset carbon, and promote sustainability and food production. Meanwhile the authors of the report note that this is the false promise of yet another Green Revolution. Food Barons 2022 is an attempt to let the cat out of the bag.

The full report of Food Barons 2022 is 137 pages. The shorter read is a 42-page summary. Whatever your choice, these documents offer plenty to think about — and each section of the report provides capsules under a section called “chew on this”.

Besides the corporate concentration noted, the report also chronicles the growing use of big data and its impacts on agriculture globally. The report links corporate concentration to land grabbing, venture capital speculation in agriculture, the digitalization of agriculture and big data, to the promise that technology will deliver the solutions.

“Digitalizing food and agriculture from farm to front door. The vista of new digital initiatives in food and ag is dizzying. On the farm, it includes concerted attempts to impose digital agriculture, weaving in drone sprayers, Artificial Intelligence-driven robotic planters and automated animal-feeding operations tricked out with facial recognition for livestock. Big Ag giants such as Bayer, Deere & Company, Corteva, Syngenta and Nutrien are restructuring their entire businesses around Big Data platforms. Bayer’s ‘Field View’ digital platform, for example, extracts 87.5 billion datapoints from 180 million acres (78.2 million hectares) of farmland in 23 countries and funnels it into the cloud servers of Microsoft and Amazon.17 Deere, the world’s largest farm machinery company, now employs more software engineers than mechanical engineers.” -Food Barons 2022

The report states:  “In this way the driving purpose of food systems moves ever further away from feeding people to feeding profits.”

Food Barons 2022 is indeed sobering, leaving the reader with a lot to consider and chew on as it identifies three critical trends —  Big Ag, Big Data, and Big Finance. And while the information might be overwhelming, the report also provides optimistic notes as it informs about the organizing of global movements working to counteract the current trends in corporate agriculture.

The report reminds the reader: “The Peasant Food Web still feeds the equivalent of 70% of the world’s people with less than 30% of the world’s land, water and agricultural resources, even though the Food Barons are trying to extend their tentacles through further land- and water-grabs and technological appropriation of the commons. The Peasant Food Web provides an essential counterweight to the grim tale of concentration and profiteering that we detail in this report, through its inspiring diversification and proliferating territorial food initiatives that re-distribute and share the inherent power of sun, soil, seed and animals amongst people — providing food to billions.”

Food Barons 2022 is one of the documents that will provide information required by these forums and global movements to understand the depth of concentration and the most recent trends in food system control encouraged by the corporate world.

The report also contains notes of optimism by providing a section on conclusions and key proposals for action. A few are noted below.

  • Support food sovereignty: The report’s authors identify food sovereignty movements as effective vehicles to challenge the current direction of big agriculture, and note in particular ongoing planning of meetings organized through the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty. A global forum on food sovereignty is planned for March of 2023 to foster a new edition of the Nyéléni Process. During these meetings and those leading up to the forum the plan is to create conversations and bring together thousands of people, peasants, small-scale fishers, Indigenous Peoples, consumers, non-governmental organizations and scholars, to propose solutions and priorities for the next 25 years of the food sovereignty movements. Bringing together labour, health, consumer, environmental, and agricultural movements is key to supporting food sovereignty.
  • Divest from the chain:  As the report notes, the financialization of agriculture by the         corporate giants noted in the report can be challenged. It urges “…Schools, universities, pension funds, local authorities and other public institutions holding investments in the identified companies should consider withdrawing their funds from specific Food Barons and even from the entire destructive Industrial Food Chain, making a strategic switch to transparent and unconditional long-term support for agroecology and food sovereignty…” The report also notes: “…Institutions under pressure from civil society have already succeeded in partly directing funds away from tobacco, arms and fossil fuels on moral grounds. Grassroots climate movements have successfully named fossil fuel companies as the obstruction to meaningful climate action. Food movements should follow suit…”
  • Anti-monopoly action and competition treaties:  A key recommendation is to pressure governments where competition laws are in effect to apply and update legislation that reinforces anti-monopoly laws. The report adds that calling for an International Treaty on Competition “with teeth could enable international oversight of corporate power (including the Food Barons).”

And while the tasks of taking on the Food Barons can seem challenging, the report ends on a positive note, in a section called the Last Word:

“… it can be daunting to imagine taking on the Food Barons, but their power is not inevitable — it is a historical oddity that is barely a century old and still only feeds less than a third of people on the planet, and badly at that. They may be backed by the titans of capital, have their claws in around 10% percent of the global economy and be ruthlessly proactive in buttressing the Industrial Food Chain with new technologies and slick false promises – but as more and more of the food chain comes under the control of fewer and fewer entities these companies also become more exposed and vulnerable to being toppled.”

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Categories: F. Left News

A message from rabble’s co-president: On Giving Tuesday, support rabble.ca

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 05:30

Today is Giving Tuesday, a campaign that harnesses the power of individual generosity to enact transformative action in the world. Each year, rabble’s audience generously supports us on Giving Tuesday, and we believe it’s because you know that transformative action happens in part because of independent news media like rabble.

This Giving Tuesday, we aim to raise $5000. And any contribution you can make, big or small, will help us get there!

As a co-president of rabble’s board, I am proud to be part of an organization that is committed to sharing the progressive voices of social justice movements with an emphasis on the stories of workers and of underrepresented communities across the country. On our podcast and panels, and in our columns and feature stories, rabble highlights not only stories of resistance, but also those of hope.

This year, we watched labour unions in Ontario —and indeed across the country— come together in solidarity against the silencing of education workers. And rabble was there, speaking with people on the ground and amplifying the progressive reporting that rabble is known for.

We do this without a paywall or a subscription fee. We believe that strong, independent media should be accessible to all. And this can only happen with the support of readers like you.

This Giving Tuesday, support independent media

Together, we have the power to create meaningful, progressive change across the country. For 21 years, we’ve proven: quality journalism can ignite transformative political action!

With the support from readers like you, rabble will continue sharing the stories and voices that matter most to Canadians.

This Giving Tuesday, help us ensure the future of independent, progressive journalism in Canada.

Thank you,

Archana Rampure, co-President, on behalf of rabble’s board of directors

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Categories: F. Left News

School board must apologize to Palestinian-Canadians

Mon, 11/28/2022 - 08:17

In recent years there has been much public debate about fighting hate and racism in Canada, whether it is against Black people, Indigenous people, Muslims, Jews, Asians, members of the LGBTQ2 community, or other marginalized groups. However, one community that continues to be the target of racism, particularly by some public institutions and right-wing politicians, is Palestinians.

The latest public incident took place recently in London, Ontario when the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) issued its school dress code. In the online FAQ (frequently asked questions) section which explained the policy, a “Free Palestine” t-shirt was used as an example of attire which “promotes or incites violence”. Unfortunately, despite calls by Palestinian advocacy and anti-racism organizations for the TVDSB to issue a public apology for this racist incident on its Website, it has yet to do so.  

Reacting to complaints from Palestinian-Canadian and Muslim organizations, the School Board did quietly remove the image from its website about a week after it first went up. However, this removal cannot take the place of a public apology to the affected students who attend TDVSB schools, nor does it explain why the TVDSB would attack the freedom of expression rights of their students or the broader Palestinian-Canadian community.

Many Palestinians came to Canada as immigrants and refugees, fleeing Israeli oppression and brutality in historic Palestine, and later from Israeli occupied territories. The TVDSB’s actions are notable for their disregard of this history, and for their insensitivity to decades of suffering that Palestinians have endured at the hands of their Israeli oppressor.

READ MORE: Roger Waters rallies with McGill students in support of Palestine

The “Free Palestine” slogan is an obvious call for freedom from oppression and brutal colonial domination, much as the “Free Ukraine” slogan is a call for freedom for the people of that nation. The TVDSB’s use of the “Free Palestine” message in its FAQ as one that would incite violence is clearly racist and offensive to the district’s Palestine-Canadian students and community, as well to those who sympathize with the Palestinian struggle for justice.  

This is the most recent example of anti-Palestinian racism by an Ontario school board. Last year, Canadian journalist Desmond Cole wrote about a series of anti-Palestinian racist incidents at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) – from a Black student suspended for saying “Free Palestine” during morning announcements, to the banning of a book from school libraries which included journal entries by Palestinian children, to a student being told by a teacher to remove a keffiyeh (a traditional Palestinian scarf) or leave the classroom. One incident which caught the attention of the Washington Post was that of a TDSB educator sharing anti-oppression resources on Palestine with colleagues, who was suspended, investigated, and publicly accused of anti-Semitism for simply doing his job. He was later fully exonerated and restored to his position.

The Arab-Canadian Lawyers Association published a report earlier this year in which they defined anti-Palestinian racism as a form of racism that silences, excludes, erases, stereotypes, defames or dehumanizes Palestinians and their narratives. Sadly, anti-Palestinian racism in Canada has become far too common, with those who call for freedom and justice for Palestinians, or criticize Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, attacked with defamatory accusations of antisemitism by powerful pro-Israel lobby groups. 

The TDVSB should also note that well respected international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Israel-based B’Tselem, have recently issued reports detailing how Israel is practicing Apartheid against Palestinians, a crime under international law. Even former Israeli attorney general Michael Ben-Yair says his country is an “Apartheid regime.”

Since the incident, the TVDSB has apologized privately to groups and individuals who have contacted the Board directly. However, such instances of racism are not properly dealt with through private exchanges behind closed doors. When racism in our institutions occurs we need to discuss it publicly, understand its origins, and collectively implement mechanisms to prevent it from occurring in the future.  

The TVDSB needs to explain publicly how and why this incident occurred, and what it will do to ensure it does not happen again. It also needs to incorporate zero-tolerance for anti-Palestinian racism into its equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) frameworks. Otherwise, without collective accountability, hurtful and offensive incidents like this are bound to happen again.

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Categories: F. Left News

Home is where the earth is: The climate crisis meets the housing crisis

Mon, 11/28/2022 - 08:00

In this episode of the Courage My Friends podcast, Emmay Mah, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) discusses the many intersections between the climate crisis and the housing crisis and the potential fallout from Ontario’s proposed housing Bill 23: More Homes Built Faster.

According to Mah: “We need to acknowledge that we are experiencing a deep, acute housing crisis. And this is also an environmental crisis.”

Reflecting on the Ford Government’s proposed Bill-23: The Better Homes Built Faster Act, Mah says: 

“The title of the Bill .. is incredibly misleading. It is both bad for addressing the housing crisis and bad from a climate perspective, and there are no two ways around that. ..Basically what this bill proposes to do is it’s going to gut about 10 existing provincial laws, which will ultimately strip local governments of their ability to build and protect affordable housing and achieve their climate goals and basically protect the environment and plan communities within municipalities.”

In refuting the tension between development and conservation, Mah says:

“It is in all our interest to build green affordable housing. It is also in our interests to preserve natural land and resources and food growing areas. So these things should not be pitted against one another. And I think that it is a falsehood that is purposely being constructed to serve these development interests. And so we really need to push back against this. This is incredibly shortsighted.”

For Mah, communities are themselves modeling the change we need to see: 

“Community members often have the deepest perspective on what solutions will work locally, and understandably so. They bring a lot of knowledge and wisdom and lived experience to working on solutions. So I want to strongly encourage folks that have the impetus to really, really move forward with solutions they know are going to work with their communities. And organizations like TEA should be supporting them and so should local government.”

About today’s guest

Emmay Mah joined the Toronto Environmental Alliance as executive director in 2019. For the last 20 years, Emmay has worked in the non-profit sector locally and internationally, developing and managing programs focused on child rights, health, and the environment. She is passionate about building local movements to achieve healthy, equitable and climate-friendly cities.

Transcript of this episode can be accessed at georgebrown.ca/TommyDouglasInstitute or here

Image: Emmay Mah  / Used with Permission

Music: Ang Kahora. Lynne, Bjorn. Rights Purchased

Intro Voices: Ashley Booth (Podcast Announcer); Bob Luker (voice of Tommy Douglas); Kenneth Okoro, Liz Campos Rico, Tsz Wing Chau (Street Voices) 

Courage My Friends Podcast Organizing Committee: Chandra Budhu, Ashley Booth, Resh Budhu. 

Produced by: Resh Budhu, Tommy Douglas Institute and Breanne Doyle, rabble.ca

Host: Resh Budhu

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Categories: F. Left News

Canada must choose a side in the wage war

Mon, 11/28/2022 - 07:22

Class war is not just a metaphor. It is real war, being murderously waged against workers around the world. We cannot, in good conscience, pretend we are neutral. It is far past time to choose a side and get involved.

“What we desire for ourselves we desire for all” is one of the cherished mottoes of the workers’ movement. This is a ringing endorsement of human solidarity, and it is also an expression of enlightened self-interest. Human liberty is indivisible. So long as any workers anywhere are denied basic human rights, those of us who silently enjoy those protections are complicit in the exploitation of our sisters and brothers around the world if we do not speak out and demand equal protection for all. And our own ongoing struggles in Canada are undermined by global exploitation.

This is one of those cases where doing the right thing in terms of ethics is also in our own best interests. Until all workers have basic human rights protections, including the right to organize and bargain collectively, employers will take advantage of our divisions and weaken us in our struggles. It’s the tired old “divide and conquer” tactic that has seen racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other structures of bias used to weaken our solidarity and divide our movements for too long.

Canadian workers, many of whom have seen their unionized jobs disappear while production shifts to low wage, union-hostile jurisdictions, have good reason to embrace international solidarity. Until workers around the world all have the right to organize and improve their conditions, their low wage labour competes unfairly with workers making decent union salaries in the developed world.

As this column is being prepared in late November, two examples of solidarity in action are in the news. We should all be paying attention.

On November 22, 2022, the Canadian Labour Congress and the United Steelworkers union (USW) filed a complaint with the recently created Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE). CORE describes itself on its website as “…a human rights ombudsperson or ‘ombud.’ We review complaints about possible human rights abuses by Canadian companies when those companies work outside Canada in the garmentmining, and oil and gas sectors.”

The complaint says that factories in Bangladesh supplying garments to Canada Tire and Marks retail outlets are paying their workers far below a living wage and calls on Canadian businesses to take action to compensate workers for past harm, increase transparency about its supply chain and immediately negotiate with Bangladeshi unions to ensure that all workers in supplier factories are paid living wages.

READ MORE: Canadian unions have not forgotten Rana Plaza

“In the first part of this year, in the areas where Mark’s sources its merchandise, average monthly wages for women garment workers were only 12,673 taka – that’s $173 per month, or less than $1 per hour in current Canadian dollars. It’s not enough for a decent life,” said Marty Warren, USW National Director for Canada. “This is a shameful and long-standing violation of workers’ human rights.”

Canadian Tire told CBC news that  it works to ensure that its suppliers comply with all local laws, including compensation.

“As part of our activities to ensure compliance, [Canadian Tire] regularly tracks wage rates and works with reputable third parties to audit factories that manufacture our owned brand products,” the CBC story reads.

This polished public relations language will provide little comfort to exploited workers in the Bangladeshi factories that supply Canadian Tire and its subsidiary, Marks.

Meanwhile, a private member’s bill (C-262), which would address some of the human rights abuses imposed on workers around the world by Canadian firms, has passed first reading and stalled at that level. We should all be in touch with our MPs and remind them that this is an issue important to many Canadian voters and urge them to increase their efforts to pass this bill. At least one labour rights advocate in Bangladesh thinks this bill would represent significant progress.

“If Bill C-262 were in place, Canadian Tire would be forced to proactively address issues of human rights and poverty wages in its supply chain,” said Kalpona Akter, Executive Director, Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity. Call your MP and tell them Kalpona sent you!

Meanwhile, on another solidarity front, Amnesty International is currently circulating a petition that calls for justice for the brutally exploited workers who suffered and died while building the infrastructure for the current World Cup extravaganza in Qatar. The contrast between the pain and squalor that haunts exploited workers in Qatar and the sumptuous display of luxury and conspicuous consumption attending the FIFA gala is sharp, and makes the argument for our solidarity. I urge every reader to sign and circulate the Amnesty International petition. And if you are an active union member, please consider urging your union to actively support this initiative.

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Categories: F. Left News

Will Alberta’s UCP government tries to ban mask wearing in schools?

Fri, 11/25/2022 - 13:47

Serious question: How long before Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) government tries to ban mask wearing in schools, period? 

After all, nothing triggers an anti-vaccine snowflake like the sight of an adult wearing a COVID mask, unless it’s the sight of a child wearing one.

And surely by now we understand we’re all responsible for ensuring those who fly apart at the sight of a paper mask can feel good about themselves again!

Am I being sarcastic? Frankly, I can hardly tell any more. 

Yesterday, Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange banned school mask mandates and changed the rules to ensure that no school can move Grade 1 to 12 classes completely online, no matter how many students are sick, or how sick they are.

Last month, an Alberta Court of King’s Bench judge found LaGrange overstepped her authority when she ordered school boards not to try to set their own mask mandates. 

Well, this fixes that. That’ll teach parents not to go to court to try to protect their immunocompromised children!

It may not seem very sensible to ban mask mandates and online learning at a time when many classes are reported to be more than half empty with students sick with the three respiratory illnesses that are slamming Alberta at once – COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus

But who said the UCP had to be sensible, especially now that a right-wing talk radio host with a fondness for quack COVID cures is calling the shots and the governing party in the hands of a cadre of anti-vaccine, anti-mask militants called Take Back Alberta?

“Securing a face-to-face classroom environment means students can continue to learn successfully while allowing their parents to go to work,” LaGrange said in a news release.

“It will also help to maintain and improve student mental health while minimizing student learning loss,” she added, a questionable point on both counts. 

It’s all very well for LaGrange to sign a letter to parents claiming she’s trying to protect students’ health by requiring schools to remain open without mask requirements no matter what, but what happens if the anti-maskers aren’t satisfied with that? 

Up to now she and Premier Danielle Smith have indicated it’s OK to send your kids to school in masks if you wish to – or, if you’re silly enough to want to keep them safe, the Smith Government’s messaging seems to imply. 

“Families are free to make their own personal health decisions, and, no matter what that decision is, it will be supported by Alberta’s education system,” Smith promised in Thursday’s press release.

But with the Occupation Convoy talking about heading back to Ottawa, you have to wonder how long it will be before our education minister is seriously considering banning masks in school altogether, because freedom!

According to Sarah Hoffman, the former minister of health and the NDP Opposition’s education critic in the Legislature, “it’s clear that Adriana LaGrange and Danielle Smith don’t have a clue about what’s happening in Alberta schools.”

“The UCP is asking school staff and families to take on more chaos and stress while the current government underspent the education budget by $1 billion over the past two years,” she added. “It is totally unrealistic to expect that school districts can staff in-person and online classes simultaneously with no additional resources. They are struggling to staff schools already given UCP cuts in the last budget.”

However, it’s unlikely the problem is that the education minister and the premier don’t understand what’s happening in the schools. More likely they just don’t care. 

Alberta is being run a group of people who apparently think COVID is a fake disease, and may be starting to imagine influenza is too.

Needless to say, this is not a healthy state of affairs.

Second-quarter fiscal update: Cue the slide whistles! 

Uh oh! Cue the slide whistles! 

Alberta continues to roll in enough cash to bankroll Premier Smith’s vote-buying campaign for now, but according to the province’s second-quarter fiscal update yesterday, “high inflation, rising interest rates and geopolitical unrest are slowing global economic activity,” and, always the clincher in Alberta, “oil prices have softened.”

OK, they’ve remained robust, Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news conference, and the projected windfall surplus is still $12.3 billion, down close to a billion from the first-quarter prediction. 

But those of us who have been in Alberta for a long time know it doesn’t take much for Alberta Conservatives to go from telling us it’s the best of times, to telling us it’s the worst of times, the spring of spending, the winter of austerity. 

As for the Kenney Government’s promise to put $1.7 billion into the Heritage Fund, that’s off already. 

“This sort of ad-hoc, frantic approach is not good for the long-term fiscal sustainability of Alberta’s balance sheet,” said NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips. 

But since when did Alberta do things any other way? Other than between 2015 and 2019, I suppose you could argue. 

We’re a distinct society, after all, aren’t we? Ad-hoc, frantic spending and cutting is our unique cultural character. Toews is just setting us up for the same old, same old. 

The post Will Alberta’s UCP government tries to ban mask wearing in schools? appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Shandro’s complaint about RCMP commissioner is preformative

Fri, 11/25/2022 - 13:37

There’s a certain irony, I suppose, to Alberta’s justice minister piously insisting “the commissioner of the RCMP must be held to the highest of standards” while he himself faces an investigation into whether he breached the Law Society’s code of conduct. 

But the frequently irascible Shandro’s performative handwringing about RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki Werdnesday was all part of the United Conservative Party (UCP)’s campaign to replace the Mounties as Alberta’s provincial police with a more expensive but presumably more pliable provincially run force. 

This recycled policy proposal from Stephen Harper’s sovereignist 2001 manifesto, the notorious Firewall Letter, is broadly unpopular with rural and urban Albertans alike, a point of frustration to the UCP under former premier Jason Kenney and even more so now under Premier Danielle Smith, the Sovereignty Queen of Wild Rose Country. 

Given the UCP’s history and attitudes about policing, it’s hard to believe Shandro’s first complaint in his opportunistic news release yesterday that the RCMP Commissioner “has failed to deal with the RCMP’s history of systemic racism in a forthright and public manner” is really a priority of the current Alberta government. 

Demanding that federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino fire Lucki, Shandro also cranked up some faux outrage that the commissioner “risked the integrity” of the inquiry into the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia. This is a harder case to make unless you’re an aggrieved gun nut.

Alert readers will understand that Shandro is not complaining about the RCMP’s appalling handling of the Nova Scotia shootings while that tragedy was unfolding, but about Lucki’s entirely legitimate decision to describe the kind of weapons being used – a revelation verboten in right-wing cancel culture. 

In addition, he complained that she “failed to inform the federal cabinet of all law enforcement options available prior to the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act,” a tendentious claim that should be left to the the statutory commission into that crisis, which may reach a different conclusion given what we’ve heard to date. 

Mendicino “stood idly by while Lucki has failed to meet even the most meagre of standards for the past two years,” Shandro opined huffily.

“This is an abrogation of the minister’s core responsibility to Canadians and must be rectified before the RCMP’s reputation as Canada’s federal police service is further damaged,” he continued, doing his best to impugn the reputation of the RCMP, the better to replace it with something even worse.

A closely related aspect of the Smith Government’s anti-Ottawa strategy was found not far away, literally three new releases later in Wednesday’s stream of pre-election campaign announcements on the province’s Alberta.ca website. 

Amendments introduced Tuesday to the federal government’s latest firearms control legislation had the UCP in a frenzy, presumably in hopes of keeping Alberta’s sizeable community of fans of firearms, particularly ones that look like assault rifles, on side. They are, after all, a key component of the party’s increasingly radicalized base.

Shandro’s statement alleged, falsely, that the Ottawa’s Bill C-21 “will lead to the most sweeping and arbitrary ban in Canadian history” that “will not only be unenforceable but will criminalize hundreds of thousands of Canadians.”

Whether or not it’s unenforceable remains to be seen, but it will only criminalize those gun owners who choose not to obey the law. 

The statement then moved on to its real point, to wit: We’re here for you, gun people! 

“The federal government is clearly seeking to ban legal firearm ownership altogether,” Shandro’s statement concluded, also falsely. “In the coming weeks, Alberta will explore all available options to take action.”

That’s probably a reference to Smith’s still unseen Sovereignty (But Actually Proudly Canadian or Something) Act, which will allow Alberta to unconstitutionally ignore federal laws without violating the Canadian Constitution … or whatever. 

We await the appearance of this miraculous piece of legislation for further analysis.

It is important to note that as mass shootings continue with metronomic regularity in the United States, evidence keeps piling up with the bodies that the principal difference between the U.S. and other countries is the number of guns in circulation. As the New York Times reported in 2017, “the only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

Finding co-operation with the gun lobby political expedient, the UCP, apparently, is willing to risk the same fate for Alberta. 

In the meantime, back in Ottawa, Mendicino told reporters: “I have confidence, and the government has confidence, in Commissioner Lucki.” In other words, Get lost, Shandro! 

Shandro’s Law Society hearing is scheduled to take place from January 24 to 26 in Calgary. It will look into three controversial incidents in 2020 when he was minister of health. 

In one, the Law Society’s summary of the case says, it’s alleged went to a neighbour’s home and “behaved inappropriately by engaging in conduct that brings the reputation of the profession into disrepute.”

Another allegation says Shandro “used his position as Minister of Health to obtain personal cell phone numbers” and “contacted one or more members of the public outside of regular working hours using that information.”

The third says he “responded to an email from a member of the public addressed to his wife by threatening to refer that individual to the authorities if they did not address future correspondence to his office as Minister of Health.”

The post Shandro’s complaint about RCMP commissioner is preformative appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Climate scientists take climate activism into their own hands

Fri, 11/25/2022 - 13:04

Wildlife conservation specialist and biologist Laura Kehoe is leaving behind a dream research position on a post-doc at Oxford University and the Nature Conservancy on the Livestock Environment and People project to work full-time for the climate. 

The financial hit does not faze her. 

“I have some savings anyway. Money can come and go. It is the flourishing of life on Earth that I care about,” Kehoe said over a Zoom call from her home in Dublin, Ireland. 

She stresses the “moral duty” of scientists like herself to sound the alarm.

“We know more than most what is coming down the line. It is already happening,” she said.

Kehoe has been busy developing strategies to protect the Earth’s life support systems, “grounded in spatial ecology and conservation decision science.”  

Also, she is helping to plant trees in deforested natural areas where farmers struggle to grow crops. 

All of this work in communities has taken her around the globe. It includes a two-year stint in Canada with two universities, University of British Columbia and University of Victoria. 

Now, the hour is getting late and various scientists like Kehoe are stepping outside the comfort zone of their research labs.

“I would ask any scientist …why are they in science in the first place. Is it for the sake of humanity’s well being, if so, we need to stand up and speak out,” she said.

Meanwhile, meet the world’s most famous scientist-s*** disturber

A NASA climate scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab, Peter Kalmus was among the arrested last April after locking himself into the entrance of the JP Morgan Chase in downtown Los Angeles. 

“We chose JP Morgan Chase because out of all the investment banks in the world, JP Morgan Chase funds the (newest) fossil fuel projects,” he told The Guardian 

Kalmus is on a tear. In the fall he was part of a nation-wide campaign in the US to oppose the flying of private jets, a major source of greenhouse gases. He and another climate scientist were charged with trespassing after chaining themselves to the entryway at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s private jet terminal. 

I left some questions on the web site of Peter Kalmus but so far, he has not gotten back to me. 

Kalmus laments in a tweet that most scientists are not following in his chosen path.

“If thousands of scientists started stepping up into civil disobedience instead of just dozens it would be truly game changing for saving Earth,” he tweeted. 

The global temperatures are currently at 1.2 per cent above pre-industrial levels. Scientists are telling us that climate change is worsening at an unprecedented speed. The breaching of the 1.5 C threshold set by the 2015 Paris Agreement is expected soon.

To avoid that scenario, scientists are pleading that countries quickly transition to a non-carbon world. Meaning, stop the production and burning of fossil fuels which emit carbon that is then baked into the atmosphere and ratches up a heating planet.

Yes, there are investments in electric cars and renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

But the transition by governments is remarkably too slow to stave off the terrifying consequences down the road. Much of that is attributed to the power and clout of the fossil fuel companies and the financiers of their current exploration projects.  

At the just completed United Nations climate conference (COP 27) in Egypt, national governments failed to reach a consensus on reducing oil and gas. 

Laura Kehoe says that even were the pledges for action by the past 27 annual climate gatherings implemented, the global temperatures would still overshoot beyond two degrees Celsius.

“What over two degrees means is that our means capacity to feed ourselves, supply water and have basic security are gone,” says Kehoe.

She says a serious disconnect exists between scientists with front row seats on the technical data of climate change and species disappearance and political leaders, plus members of the public who are in denial or not coming to terms with science behind the impending climate chaos. 

Kalmus and Kehoe are members of a loose international network of scientists, Science Rebellion focused on an aggressive protest that can include non-violent civil disobedience.

Kehoe is fed up with the polite rallies and marches in her native Ireland protesting climate inaction but not accomplishing much. What she describes may have resonance here in Canada. 

Her preferred model is the in-your-face style of climate protest in the UK

“If you look through history, that is generally how (change) happens. We have to be a lot more abrasive and a lot more courageous,” says Kehoe. 

Visit the Science Rebellion web site and you will find a host of signatures from scientists from around the world. Some high-profile names such as Katharine Hayhoe and Michael Mann are not there. 

Not all scientists support the radicalism professed by Science Rebellion, says Lynne Quarmby, a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at Simon Fraser University and a past federal Green party candidate. 

“I have no data to support this, but my guess is that scientists are not joiners. First, there is not the time to properly vet everything that crosses our desks and scientists are not likely to join without properly vetting. Second, the SR letter has a radical ring that will not resonate with many scientists (in other words, yes, I suspect political differences). In my case, you do not find my name for reason #1, ” she said.

Quarmby was no slouch when it came to protesting the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline going past her university.

In 2012, she was for instance. one of 13 people arrested in White Rock for blocking coal trains. 

“We were taken to jail but we were processed immediately and released,” said Quarmby

Quarmby also stresses that there is still time to mitigate and adapt climate change without experiencing as much of the predicted damage if no action is taken.

“I don’t know any credible scientist that would say we are hopelessly doomed. Civilization is in very serious trouble. There is going to be a lot of social upheaval, there are going to be issues with food production, transportation and all sorts of things, that is not the same thing as extinction, ” she added.

There is a history of scientists speaking out from their vantage point of their research and knowledge, ranging from the dangers of nuclear weapons to the pandemic.

Ottawa based and award-winning journalist Stephen Leahy has encountered many scientists during the years he has covered international climate conferences.

“In my experience scientists are very conservative and taught to qualify what they say and not express personal opinions. Let the science speak for itself is what they are taught and have told me many times,” he said.“That seems to be changing for some in recent years. There have long been calls from activists for scientists to speak out because of their respected status in society.”“So many of my interviews with scientists end up concluding: ‘We know what to do and how to do it. All that is missing is political will,’” added Leahy.

The post Climate scientists take climate activism into their own hands appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Don Davies: Regarding the legalization of cannabis in Canada, pardons are not enough

Fri, 11/25/2022 - 11:14

MP Don Davies has been a vocal advocate for improving Canada’s drug policies – notably calling for across-the-board record expungement for marijuana convictions. In this clip, Davies explains the issues with the current pardon process and how a ‘blanket pardon’ would actually work in Canada.

Don Davies is the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Kingsway. He was first elected in 2008, and has been re-elected four times since. Davies is the NDP Critic for Health and Deputy Critic for Foreign Affairs and International Development.

“My colleague Murray Rankin, who was justice critic at the time, introduced legislation in the House of Commons in 2019 that would have had expungement of all cannabis related records. In one fell swoop, if we passed that law, everyone in the country who had criminal records for the prescribed list . . . would have immediately had their records expunged. They could tell people ‘I’ve never been convicted of a crime.’ The Liberals defeated that legislation.”

This is a clip from rabble’s most recent live politics panel: ‘Off the Hill: Big Biz Marijuana – who wins, who loses?’ The panel featured guests Jodie Giesz-Ramsay, Chuka Ejeckam and MP Don Davies. With co-hosts Robin Browne and Libby Davies.

Off the Hill is a live panel unpacking current issues of national significance that features guests and discussions you won’t find anywhere else. To support Off the Hill’s mission of mobilizing individuals to create progressive change in national politics — on and off Parliament Hill — visit rabble.ca/donate.

The post Don Davies: Regarding the legalization of cannabis in Canada, pardons are not enough appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Biden must demand freedom for Alaa Abd El-Fattah

Fri, 11/25/2022 - 09:37

CAIRO–There are dictators in the world who wield absolute power, and then there are U.S. Senators. Very few understand the power these 100 individuals hold in the world’s most powerful country. A single senator can effectively block any legislation. They don’t need to give a reason, and often do it entirely in secret. President Joe Biden, who was a senator for decades, knows this and also knows he needs the vote of every Democratic senator to pass critical appropriations during Congress’ current lame duck session.

Democratic Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving senator currently in office, is retiring on January 2nd after 48 years. He’s been a champion of human rights, authoring the “Leahy Law” that denies U.S. aid to human rights abusing regimes. Senator Leahy or one of his colleagues could make a vital difference, and save lives, by blocking any bill in this session that shores up human rights abusing governments.

Take Egypt.

The U.S.-backed Egyptian dictator President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi rose to power after a military coup in 2013. His image is omnipresent in this sprawling capital city of 20 million, on buildings, lamp posts, and across the mass media, which is effectively controlled by the state. More than 60,000 political prisoners are locked up here; the true number is unknown. The most prominent is Alaa Abd El-Fattah, a writer, technologist and leading activist in the 2011 Arab Spring revolution that overthrew Egypt’s previous, long-standing, U.S.-backed dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

Yet Alaa, a dual Egyptian and British citizen, has been in prison for most of the last decade. His case received global attention when Egypt hosted COP27, the UN climate summit, in Sharm el-Sheikh. Alaa had been on hunger strike for more than 200 days. As COP27 began on November 6th, he escalated his protest, refusing to drink water altogether. Last week, Alaa told family members, in their first prison visit in a month, that he suffered a near-death experience that week. The German Chancellor, the French President, the British Prime Minister, and President Biden had all raised his case directly with Sisi. Prison authorities medically intervened secretly, to avoid the crisis his death during COP27 would have provoked.

The Sisi regime survives largely thanks to massive support from the United States. Egypt receives $1.3 billion annually in military aid, with an additional $125 million-plus in economic aid. Egypt has long been the second-highest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, after Israel. Its support is delivered through annual Congressional appropriations, subject to verifiable compliance with human rights standards. The U.S. State Department oversees this massive aid package with the Pentagon.

As part of the process, the State Department is required to produce a human rights report on Egypt. Its most recent 72-page litany of horrors includes extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture and cruel, inhuman treatment; life-threatening prison conditions and arbitrary detention. The list goes on. While any rational reading of the report would result in the denial of aid, the State Department routinely invokes a “national security” waiver, authorizing the aid despite the rampant abuses.

“You train their police officers, their army officers,” Laila Soueif, Alaa’s mother, a math professor and renowned activist in her own right, told the Democracy Now! news hour during an interview in their family apartment in Cairo. “This is a U.S. operation. The helicopters they use to track people in the desert, this is the U.S. This whole Sisi thing is a U.S. security operation. Really, the U.S. can decide, if they want to, that they want the regime to do this or not do that.”

Alaa’s family has been tirelessly advocating for his release, at great risk. His youngest sister, Sanaa, 28, has already been imprisoned for three years for her activism. “The U.S. has stakes in that regime, stakes in that oppression, and so has responsibility,” Sanaa said on Democracy Now!, sitting next to her mother. “It’s not leverage. Leverage is as if you’re not a stakeholder in this. You are a big part of this. You send $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt every year.”

President Biden was photographed with Sisi at COP27, laughing with the dictator. Sisi has also been invited to next month’s U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit at the White House. Like any Western-aligned autocrat seeking legitimacy, Sisi is reportedly seeking a one-on-one meeting with Biden.

President Biden should work for the immediate release of Alaa Abd El-Fattah and many more Egyptian political prisoners before granting Sisi a plum White House meeting. Meanwhile, Sen. Patrick Leahy, as one of his proud last acts in office, along with other Senators, should block further Egyptian military aid until Alaa is free.

This column originally appeared in Democracy Now!

The post Biden must demand freedom for Alaa Abd El-Fattah appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

Canadian workers are not to blame for inflation

Fri, 11/25/2022 - 09:30

This week on the show, rabble editor Nick Seebruch is joined by the director of the Centre for Future Work, economist Jim Stanford. Together, they walk us through the state of Canada’s economy – the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Earlier this month, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem made headlines when he remarked that inflation was due to what he called an “overheated” labour market. Stanford says that’s unfair; Canadian workers being able to easily find employment and the slightly higher wages they’ve been receiving are not to blame for inflation – and therefore shouldn’t be punished. 

Seebruch and Stanford also discuss how progressive organizations, activists, and groups must ban together as we move forward into what’s sure to be a tough year economically and politically. 

Photo: Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

If you like the show please consider subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. And please, rate, review, share rabble radio with your friends — it takes two seconds to support independent media like rabble. Follow us on social media across channels @rabbleca. Or, if you have feedback for the show, get in touch anytime at editor@rabble.ca.

The post Canadian workers are not to blame for inflation appeared first on rabble.ca.

Categories: F. Left News

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