Canada

Anti-mining protests in Mexico, Canada

The July 22 Global Day of Action Against Open-Pit Mining, most widely observed in the Andean nations, also saw coordinated actions in NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada. In the Oaxaca village of Santa María Zacatepec, a national gathering was held, bringing together some 100 indigenous and popular organizations, who pledged a campaign of protests against mining projects and "structural reforms" announced by the Enrique Peña Nieto government. The Declaration of Santa María Zacatepec said that "it is time to pass from resistance to the offensive," and for "respecting all forms of struggle." Participating organizations included the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of the People (AMAP); the Indigenous Agrarian Zapatista Movement (MAIZ); the Peoples' Front in Defense of Land and Water of Puebla, Tlaxcala and Morelos; the National Civil Resistance Network; the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota Dam; the Peoples' Land Defense Front of Atenco; and the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).

Iranian Qaeda connection rears its dubious head —in Canada

Following last month's murky claims about al-Qaeda biggie Sulaiman Abu Ghaith having been sheltered by Iran, Canadian authorities now want us to believe that two guys busted by the RCMP—Chiheb Esseghaier in Montreal and Raed Jaser in Toronto—were plotting to blow up a Via Rail passenger train under the  "direction and guidance" of al-Qaeda agents in ...Iran. At their hearings April 23, the men denied the charges. Iran's  foreign ministry said groups such as al-Qaeda have "no compatibility with Iran in both political and ideological fields." (National Post, Canadian Press, April 23) This is rather obvious given the bitter sectarian war on Iran's borders with Iraq and Pakistan. Yet the RCMP portrays a "state-sponsored" terror plot.

Leak at tar sands plant fouls Athabasca River

Suncor Energy is one of Canada's top tar-sands oil producers and a big pusher for the Keystone XL Pipeline (see Globe & Mail, Oct. 25, 2011). They are, of course, key players in the continental NAFTA shadow government. So why are we reading about their contamination of the Athabasca River in the Edmonton Journal (March 26) and not the New York goddam Times? Just asking.

Tainted water poured for hours before broken Suncor pipe sealed
EDMONTON — A waste-water pipe at Suncor’s oilsands plant leaked into a pond of treated water Monday, and the resulting diluted water flowed into the Athabasca River, a company official said Tuesday.

Mali: US airlifts French forces

French and Malian troops are reported to have entered the key central Malian towns of Diabaly and Doutenza, routing the jihadist forces that had taken power there. "The goal is the total reconquest of Mali," said French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. "We will not leave any pockets" of resistance. US Air Force C-17 transport planes have completed five flights from bases in France into Bamako, delivering 80 troops and more than 120 tons of their equipment, according to Pentagon press secretary George Little. It could take the Pentagon two weeks to transport the entire 600-member French mechanized infantry unit and all of their gear, according to Pentagon officials. Michael Battle, US ambassador to the African Union, emphasized: "Our support of French operations in Mali does not involve what is traditionally referred to as boots on the ground... We don't have any plans to put [boots] on the ground at this time in support of French operations."

Chief Spence maintains hunger strike —despite Ottawa meetings

Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation attended a meeting with Canada's Gov-Gen. David Johnston Jan. 11, but left official residence Rideau Hall early to announce that her hunger strike will continue. "It didn't feel too good inside that house...but we stood up for your rights," Danny Metatawabin, who speaks for Spence, told gathered First Nations chiefs. "Somehow it felt like a show, a picture opportunity. What’s happening here is not done yet. It’s not over yet. Sadly, the hunger strike continues." He said that a wampum belt Johnston had been presented as a good will gesture by First Nations leaders at a meeting last January had been disrespected in the "ceremonial" meeting with Spence.

Canada: First Nations challenge Bill C-45 in courts

The Mikisew Cree First Nation and the Frog Lake First Nation, both located in Alberta, filed documents in Canadian Federal Court on Jan. 7, arguing that omnibus budget legislation that reduces federal environmental oversight violate the government's treaty obligations to protect traditional aboriginal territory. The plaintiffs are challenging Bill C-45 and it predecessor, Bill C-38, legislation that significantly restricts federal environmental assessments and cuts the number of waterways protected by the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Quebec: #IdleNoMore protesters block rail line

Protesters supporting a Native Canadian chief's 23-day hunger strike blocked a rail line at Pointe-a-la-Croix in eastern Quebec Jan. 2. Theresa Spence of Ontario's Attawapiskat First Nation has been fasting to press her demands for a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss new legislation that weakens indigenous land rights and environmental protections. The new law, part of the Harper government's budget bill, sparked the #IdleNoMore movement, which has brought together First Nations and environmental activists in a wave of protests across Canada.

Quebec fracking ban challenged under NAFTA

US-incorporated energy firm Lone Pine Resources is challenging Quebec’s moratorium on fracking under terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and demanding more than $250 million in compensation. The company—headquartered in Calgary but incorporated in Delaware—officially notified the US Securities and Exchange Commission that on Nov. 8 it filed a notice of intent to sue the Canadian government under NAFTA's controversial Chapter 11. Quebec lawmakers in June approved legislation, Bill l8, that imposed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing pending further study on its environmental impacts. Lone Pine cites Chapter 11's Article 117, on investor damages, in its claim for the loss of what it calls a "valuable right...without due process, without compensation and with no cognizable public purpose."

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