December 28, 2013 - No. 51

Growing Opposition to Harper Government's Anti-Social Agenda

Opposition to More Nation-Wrecking Legislation

Omnibus Budget Bill C-4 Passed
as House Adjourns

On December 12, the House of Commons adjourned for the Winter Break; it will resume January 27, 2014. While the Harper government returned to this sitting of Parliament from its latest prorogation to face more exposés of how it operates as a criminal enterprise on behalf of narrow private interests, it was not humbled in the least or prevented from using its majority to ram through an agenda devoid of any moral or political authority or mandate from the people.

On the day of adjournment the following bills received Royal Assent from the Governor General:

- C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures -- Chapter 40, 2013. This is the Harper government's latest omnibus budget bill giving itself new arbitrary powers on behalf of the monopolies. Amongst other things the bill gives the Minister of the Treasury Board, Tony Clement, new arbitrary powers to violate the right of public servants to say No! to government dictate. The establishment of these new powers is no doubt because 17 of 27 collective agreements in the public service expire in February 2014.

- C-7, An Act to amend the Museums Act in order to establish the Canadian Museum of History and to make consequential amendments to other Acts -- Chapter 38, 2013. This renames the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull as the Canadian Museum of History. The aim is to reorient the presentation of Canada's history and nation-building created in the past for purposes of disinforming the polity. This is done by promoting random events in an impertinent way. In 2014, the world marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and in 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and in 2017 Canada marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Around these events, the Harper government will promote the denial of well-known warranted conclusions about the crucial matters pertaining to war and peace, nation-building, Canada's relations with the U.S. and about the imperialist system of states now and then. All of it is to make space for the Harper Government's unacceptable anti-worker, racist and anti-communist outlook and advance its preparations to embroil Canada in a U.S.-led world conflagration.

- C-19, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2014 -- Chapter 39, 2013, gives permission to the Crown to spend funds. Nobody really knows though how many private contractors the government is hiring as part of its program to change the aim of government from one where it upholds public right to one where it enshrines monopoly right.

- C-9, the First Nations Elections Act, which gives the Crown new powers to impose electoral regimes onto First Nations, passed third reading and will now go to the Senate for its approval. According to the Harper government the legislation will improve First Nations elections. In fact, it is for purposes of further trampling under foot First Nations' constitutional, hereditary and treaty rights. (See TML Weekly, November 9, 2013 -- No. 44)

The Harper Government also introduced the Agricultural Growth Act (AGA) -- an omnibus bill for agriculture which proposes amendments to a number of acts dealing with plant breeders' rights, feed, seed, fertilizer, animal health, plant protection, monetary penalties, agricultural marketing programs and farm debt mediation.

In this issue, TML Weekly reports on some of the dangerous nation-wrecking activities of the Harper dictatorship and the growing widespread resistance. More and more, Canadians are raising the alarm about the further damage the Harper government can cause before the next federal election scheduled for October 2015, nearly two years from now. The demand for Harper to resign Now! is becoming increasingly urgent.

Status of Government Legislation

The following legislation will be considered by the House of Commons and Senate in the New Year.

Bills at second reading:

C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, also known as the Respect for Communities Act. This is the Harper government's response to a 2011 Supreme Court ruling which forced it to stop its arbitrary denial of a permit for a safe injection site, InSite;

C-11, An Act to amend the Public Service Employment Act (priority hiring for injured veterans);

C-12, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act;

C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, also known as the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. The Harper government claims this legislation is aimed at cyberbullying;

C-17, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act; and

C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food also known as the Agricultural Growth Act.

Bills at Committee:

C-3, An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts also known as the Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act. This legislation deals with the transport of dangerous materials, such as oil and gas, by sea and air;

C-5, An Act to amend the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and other Acts and to provide for certain other measures also known as the Offshore Health and Safety Act;

C-6, An Act to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions. This legislation is supposed to implement Canada's obligations as a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The fraudulent nature of the bill is seen in the broad "exceptions" it provides for Canadian military and civilian personnel to order and even request the use of cluster munitions if it is part of "international operations" with non-state parties to the Convention, i.e. the United States and Israel;

C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco). This legislation would give the Crown greater powers to criminalize the sale of what it declares contraband tobacco, for instance tobacco produced by First Nations; and

C-15, An Act to replace the Northwest Territories Act to implement certain provisions of the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement and to repeal or make amendments to the Territorial Lands Act, the Northwest Territories Waters Act, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, other Acts and certain orders and regulations, also known as the Northwest Territories Devolution Act. According to the government, the legislation amends "various statutes which aim to encourage investment in the Northwest Territories while ensuring that resource development proceeds in a sustainable fashion, so that the resulting economic benefits can be enjoyed by future generations."

Bill going to third reading:

C-8, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. This legislation will strengthen the control of monopolies over various fields, including the production of pharmaceuticals, software and cultural works. Similar legislation has been tabled a number of times in the past by the Harper government and not passed. However it appears the government is now ready to use its majority to put these new arrangements in place. They are likely linked to the recently signed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union and negotiations over copyright and trade mark protections.

The following legislation is currently at second reading in the Senate:

S-2, An Act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act and to make consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations. This legislation would usurp the power of the legislature and permit the Crown to delegate and "sub-delegate" regulatory making powers to private entities and even foreign states;

C-9, An Act respecting the election and term of office of chiefs and councillors of certain First Nations and the composition of council of those First Nations. This legislation is part of the Harper government's agenda to strengthen its arbitrary powers to violate the right of First Nations to operate outside of government dictate, especially as concerns resource development;

C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (mental disorder); and

C-16, An Act to give effect to the Governance Agreement with Sioux Valley Dakota Nation and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. This is a self-governance agreement with the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation between the Federal government, the Manitoba government and the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.

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Federal Public Sector Unions Join Forces to Fight Omnibus Budget Bill C-4

On December 10, federal public sector unions issued a press release indicating they are joining forces to challenge the Harper government's omnibus budget bill, Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures. The unions will pool their resources in advance of the next round of collective bargaining with the Treasury Board in 2014 and will take joint action to challenge the constitutionality of Bill C-4. They point out that the bill is an unprecedented assault on collective bargaining and workplace health and safety, that eliminates labour rights gained over the last fifty years and severely undermines the ability of federal employees to negotiate. The bill was drafted without consulting public sector bargaining agents which make up the National Joint Council of the Public Service of Canada, through which the unions are supposed to be informed and consulted.

The bill gives the federal government's Treasury Board the unfettered right to determine what constitutes an essential service, which workers are denied the right to strike, and which collective agreements will be decided through arbitration. The bill also changes arbitration by limiting the independence of arbitration boards.

Bill C-4 gives the Minister of Labour the authority to throw out any unsafe work refusal complaints without investigation, leaving employees who refuse unsafe work open to discipline, including dismissal. The Minister can also exercise his/her prerogative to have an investigation undertaken in secret.

The impact of these changes to health and safety protection will reach far beyond the federal public service to the 1.2 million private and public sector workers covered by the Canada Labour Code, the unions point out.

In several presentations before Parliamentary committees in the House of Commons and Senate, federal unions and legal experts called on Parliament to withdraw the provisions amending the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Canada Labour Code from the omnibus budget bill. Presenters to the committee included the Canadian Bar Association which strongly criticized the anti-democratic nature of the bill in its recent letter to Parliament. Labour law firm Sack Goldblatt Mitchell said that the changes in Bill C-4 "will have a profound impact upon the ability of unions to bargain effectively with the Government and to protect and promote the rights of the employees they represent."

The unions point out that the questions asked by Conservative MPs at these committees made it clear that the primary aim of the bill is not to modernize labour relations, but to facilitate the federal government in attacking the pay and benefits of federal public servants.

In addition to preparing a legal challenge, federal public sector unions also agreed to join forces to defend collective agreements in the next round of bargaining, to inform federal workers and the public of the extreme and radical nature of these changes, and to vigorously defend health and safety in federal workplaces.

The federal bargaining agents of the National Joint Council of the Public Service of Canada are: the Association of Canadian Financial Officers; the Association of Justice Counsel; the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, Unifor Local 5454; the Canadian Association of Professional Employees; the Canadian Federal Pilots Association; the Canadian Merchant Service Guild; the Canadian Military Colleges Faculty Association; the Coast Guard Marine Communications Officers, Unifor Local 2182; Unifor Local 588-G; the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers; the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada; the Public Service Alliance of Canada; the Research Council Employees' Association; the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers -- CSN; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2228; the Federal Government Dockyard Trades and Labour Council (West); Federal Government Dockyard Chargehands Association; and Federal Government Dockyard Trades and Labour Council (East).

(Daily Commercial News)

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New Agriculture Bill Throttles Farmers,
Threatens Seed Sovereignty

Agriculture Minister Ritz is moving with undue haste with yesterday's announcement of the Agricultural Growth Act (AGA) which received First Reading in Parliament today. The government is calling the AGA an omnibus bill for agriculture because it proposes amendments to a number of acts dealing with plant breeders' rights, feed, seed, fertilizer, animal health, plant protection, monetary penalties, ag marketing programs and farm debt mediation.

"This legislation will fundamentally restructure agriculture in ways that will profoundly affect farmers, their rural communities and the food system they supply. Its effects will reach far beyond agriculture," stated Jan Slomp, NFU National President. "Amending the Plant Breeders' Rights Act to align with the requirements of UPOV '91 (the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) instead of UPOV '78 will devastate farmers' ability to save, sell and reuse seed. At the same time, greater corporate control over every aspect related to seed will mean farmers pay much higher seed prices."

Terry Boehm, presently a member of the NFU Seed and Trade Committee and NFU past president, stated, "Ritz claims that this so-called Ag Growth Act, and UPOV '91 in particular, will stimulate innovation that will benefit farmers by increasing varietal crop choices and providing higher incomes. The reality is -- and will be, however -- much different. UPOV '91 isn't about innovation. It's about restricting what farmers can do with seed and giving seed companies powerful new tools to extract money from farmers."

Boehm described the cascading right to collect royalties under UPOV '91. "These seed corporations would be able to extract money from farmers on their entire crop," he explained. "The cascading right would allow seed corporations to collect royalties at any point in the food system, but most likely when farmers sell their crop. This means that the seed companies would generate revenue on a farmer's entire production rather than just on the seed purchased to grow the crop."

The new legislation has other consequences according to Boehm. "The plant breeder/seed corporation would have total control of seed, including exclusive control of conditioning (cleaning and treating), stocking (bagging or storage), importing, exporting, and sales of seed," he pointed out. "This upsets thousands of years of normal agricultural practice whereby farmers always saved seed for their next crop."

"Ritz's commitment to include the 'Farmer's Privilege' to save and re-use seed is very deceptive and limited," Boehm emphasized. "Farmer's Privilege is only an option granted at the behest of a government, which can just as easily remove it."

"UPOV '91 is another tool to ensure a steady revenue stream for giant seed companies on the backs of ordinary farmers," Boehm concluded. "With corporations exclusively controlling everything related to seed, farmers lose their autonomy, Canada loses its seed sovereignty and everyone becomes even more dependent on seed corporations whose ultimate goal is to force farmers to buy all their seed every year."

The NFU Seed and Trade Committee is undertaking a thorough reading of the Act, and will prepare a detailed analysis of its implications for farmers in the near future.

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Say NO to UPOV '91, Increased Level
of Seed Patenting

Behind the noise of the Rob Ford and Senate scandal cover ups, the Canadian government is angling to legislate the removal of a right of farmers that should be non-negotiable.

Ottawa is moving quickly to implement the UPOV '91 plant breeders' rights convention with First Reading in Parliament of the Agricultural Growth Act, an agricultural omnibus bill. The proponents for this move say that doing this will keep private plant breeding money in Canada and stop us from somehow immediately turning into Luddites.

What is never acknowledged by the supporters of UPOV '91 is what will be taken away from farmers. In exchange for this increased level of patenting of seed stocks, farmers will lose the right to save, store, sell and re-use farm-saved seed.

Think about this for a second. In contrast to the practice of thousands of years of open source plant breeding -- which incidentally has given us our present bountiful harvests -- a farmer will NOT be allowed to save the seed they have grown to plant again the following spring if it has Plant Breeders' Rights attached to it. We currently have a similar system in place for almost all canola grown in Canada because as a GMO, the seed companies have been able to patent canola gene sequences and force farmers to pay royalties every year. The yearly cost of buying new seed is always a sore point with canola growers.

Staying out of UPOV '91 will not diminish Canada's importance as a wheat-growing region. Research will always be done here because of our strength in growing wheat. More importantly, we do not need to be hostage to private plant breeders -- our public plant breeding system has been doing a good job for a century.

In fact, the canola boom started when an Ag Canada scientist working in the public plant breeding system changed the oil profile of what had been rapeseed, making it usable as a cooking oil. This work was then turned over to private sector seed companies which commercialized -- and claimed plant breeders' rights on -- varieties expressing the trait.

UPOV supporters point to the canola model to support their call for giving the entire plant breeding sector over to private interests. But are the so-called 'amazing gains' made by privately-bred canola better than the gains in wheat yields and quality achieved by the Canadian tradition of public plant breeding? Dr. R.J. Graf, an eminent Canadian plant breeder, is one among many researchers who points out that gains in canola yield over the last 35 years have increased marginally -- just one-tenth of a bushel per acre more per year -- compared with increases in wheat yields.

What is more interesting is that the cost of improving canola yields has been more than three times that of the public plant breeding system's efforts to improve wheat. Wheat yield and baking quality have been constantly improving for a century thanks to the work of public plant breeders.

There can be no denying the benefits that farmers and consumers have received from the work done at Ag Canada research centres -- work that was ongoing until the Harper government set about cutting the budgets of public-interest breeding programs to the bone.

Even a hundred years of successful public-interest plant breeding is nothing compared to the historical importance of farm-saved seed. Since the origin of agriculture, farmers have been selecting, saving and replanting seed from one year to the next, and sharing improved varieties with their neighbours. Ottawa is about to sign an agreement and bring in a law that would eliminate that right for many Canadian farmers.

It is interesting that those who normally scream the loudest about the need to protect property rights are now championing UPOV '91, a system that will protect only the intellectual property of multinational seed corporations at the expense of the intellectual commons that has been developed, collected and controlled by farmers over millennia.

Stop Harper and Ritz from favouring the rights of plant breeders at the expense of the rights of farmers and consumers to use grain varieties developed impartially in the public interest.

Keep your right to use farm-saved seed. Say NO to UPOV '91!

*Matt Gehl, is a National Farmers Union Board Member who farms near Regina, Saskatchewan. This Op-Ed was published by the National Farmers Union.

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First Nations Rally on Parliament Hill
to Oppose Education Act

The movement to defend First Nations' rights including the right to educate their children has been in action throughout 2013. Closing out the year, a demonstration in Ottawa on December 10 opposed the First Nations Education Act, part of the Harper government's plan to extinguish First Nations' rights. Organized under the Idle No More banner, the march and demonstration also marked the first anniversary of the beginning of Chief Teresa Spence's six-week hunger strike in defence of First Nations' constitutional, hereditary and treaty rights.

The day began with a meeting of activists, an Algonquin Elder, and students from a local elementary school on Victoria Island and from there they marched to Parliament Hill. Participants and speakers included delegates from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) meeting taking place in Gatineau.

Among the speakers were Wab Kinew, Chief Theresa Spence and a representative from Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, whose resistance to fracking on their traditional lands and the state violence unleashed against them by governments upholding monopoly right has been supported from coast to coast.

Claudette Commanda, an Algonquin elder, inaugurated the event saying, "We will raise our voice so loud, to let Canada know that education must be for, by First Nations people, today and tomorrow, and our voice must be heard!"

Gilbert Whiteduck, Chief of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation pointed out that "this Act is part of a long list of legislation that this government is attempting to impose in order to eradicate and terminate our place in this country. The Education Act is a key part of that. Some of you may remember, in 1969, there was an attempt to make us disappear, and First Nations stood up. First Nations stood up and made education the key component of what they would go forward with, Indian control of Indian education... We are speaking about true jurisdiction. And the act that is being brought forward is on -- I don't know what words can be used -- paternalistic -- and the list could go on and on -- control that the Federal government wants to have on the very little authority that we already hold right now. The intent is to offload its responsibility to the provincial governments, allow us to be taken in and assimilated. It's the White Paper all over again."

Chief Whiteduck said, "Many good things have been done in our communities. We have many challenges, no doubt. But no one will ever be able to tell me that our teachers, our educators, our principals, are not doing the darnedest work they can. We need to applaud them because they work so hard with very limited means -- schools that often are falling apart, very limited resources -- but they care about our young people [...] We need to put a stop to this in no uncertain terms. But at the same time that we go forward with our plan, the Minister a few weeks ago said, '[I]f there's enough opposition, I may pull the Act, and we're going to go back to the status quo. But you know what we're going to do, we're going to go into your communities and make darn sure that you're following everything, otherwise we may take control of what's occurring in the school.' Third-party management. Put the fear in people. 'If you accept our rules, there will be money.'

"It's got to be on our terms! These are our young people. And whether they're in the urban centres, whether they're attending provincial schools or on-reserve schools. And when I speak about children or people wanting to be educated, not only limited to grade one to grade 11 like the Minister wants to do. What about post-secondary? What about pre-school? What about those people who want to get upgrading? Careers? Vocational ed? This Act is coming to destroy or attempt to create division among all of us in each region. And certainly in the Quebec region right now, they're contacting each community individually, and saying we'll go talk to you on the ground, and you can make up your mind about what is right and what isn't about the Act [...]

"They want to be able to go into the community to ask the parents a few questions: they're going to ask the parents, 'Do you want quality education?' and the parents will say 'Yes.' 'Do you want your children to be prepared to move on to college?' 'Yes.' But they will not be asking the questions and they will not be seeking the input of parents to tell them, 'Are you prepared to accept an Act that will lead to extermination and termination, and the non-recognition of your language?' Are you prepared to allow provincial governments, who are not models -- we can't model our education on the province -- they failed us before and they will fail us again. We have the solution... It's not only an issue of saying, 'We don't accept. We want the Act kicked out.' We can develop it. And unless we develop it, on our terms, what little we have now is leading to that termination and extermination, individually and collectively.

"If the Minister decides to go forward, we have to decide what it is we're going to do. There have been other Acts adopted. We come to rally and then we leave. But I tell you, as the people who came before us, the leaders and many other people knew education would allow us to move forward on our terms and the importance of language, culture, preparing our people with a spirit that is strong, with a spirit of identity. But this Act, this paternalistic Act, says the Minister is the great Indian Agent of the past and the great Indian Agent Bernard Valcourt says, 'I have the answer. Don't worry. You people have been doing nothing; your front-line people are not educators. You're mismanaging the money.' And then he goes in front of Parliament and Canadians and says, 'Here's why this Act has to be put in place. Here's why we gotta put those Indians in line.' Nobody can put us in line. These are our children.

"Again, I ask all of you. It's got to be beyond the rhetoric and speeches [...] Education, giving the tools to our people, creating the kind of governance in our communities that we need is what we have to not only seek, we need to achieve it. Our young people are waiting. Many community members can't come out here because of costs and whatnot, but they're listening in. [...] We've got to put a stop to it. All the policies that have been coming forward, we need to recognize them for what they are. And that's termination, in whatever form. And let's be careful not to bite into that carrot of money, of saying 'If you do it, you get it.'

"And finally I'll say I also recall the book from Harold Cardinal, when he fought the '69 White Paper and he wrote the book The Unjust Society against Trudeau's so-called Just Society. The picture on the book is Indian Affairs, who's playing the puppeteer, and the Aboriginal person is the marionette. It appears that the Minister thinks that he's become the Cirque du Soleil marionette player and that if we don't dance to his tune, if we decide to cut the strings, he's going to boot us around. I ask you, don't allow this government Minister to boot us around. This is about our people, our children, our future generation! On Wednesday at the AFN Assembly I'm asking the Chiefs to demonstrate very visibly and very clearly, no hesitation, no 'Well, let's be soft on the language.' This government is not soft on us. They don't deserve for us to be soft on them."

Russ Diabo, Analyst and AFN proxy delegate for Wolf Lake First Nation and Defenders of the Land spokesperson spoke on the First Nations Education Act's relationship to the overall plans for extinguishment and termination by the Canadian colonial state. Diabo pointed out the hypocrisy that the Canadian politicians attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa are the same ones who "have been presiding over Canada's termination plan to terminate our collective rights for a long time. Joe Clark, Jean Chrétien, Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, and Stephen Harper. The mainstream media is not talking about how South Africa came here to study the reserve system to create the Bantustans in South Africa. South Africa had a Department of Native Affairs for a long time [...] Over there, they were arguing for equal rights because the blacks are the majority in the country. Here, since the mid-1800s we became the minority in this country. At one time we were the military allies because we outnumbered the whites. But the Indian Act started to come in when they started to outnumber us.

"And the Indian Act has been the main instrument of control and management of our people since before Confederation, around 1850. And that's the same Act that they're using now. Stephen Harper said at the Crown-First Nations Gathering that he wouldn't amend the Indian Act. He lied. He's got a suite of legislation -- the Matrimonial Property Act just passed. This Education Act is the latest in a suite of legislation that's designed at amending sections of the Indian Act to be the main instrument for Ottawa bureaucrats to manage and control us. At least to try to. And it's to manage our extinction -- our assimilation. It strikes me, the parallels with the South African revolution that Mandela led. I was watching some of the TV coverage. They were showing a black man from the apartheid era wearing a t-shirt and on the back it said "Submit or Fight." And I think that's what we're facing at a crossroads here. The Education Act especially, as it affects our children and our communities. But there's a lot behind it. It's the latest piece of the termination plan that Canada's imposing. And I think that's what we have to decide, every single one of us: are we going to submit or fight?"

Activist Arthur Manuel, son of George Manuel, national chief of the National Indian Brotherhood during the 1970s spoke on the slogan 'Indian Control of Indian Education' and how it relates to the overall struggle against colonialism: "There's no question that when we stand before Parliament here we stand before the colonial regime that makes up Canada. In 1867, when the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, they turned over all our land and resources to the federal and provincial governments. Do you know how much land indigenous reserves are in Canada? It's 0.2 per cent. That means Canada controls 99.8 per cent of all land. Who's going to be rich and who's going to be poor? It's going to be the guy that has 99.8 per cent that's going to be rich. The indigenous people, us, we are going to be impoverished through colonization [...] It's about dispossession, it's about dependency, and it's about oppression. Parliament represents dispossession of indigenous people. And that was supposed to stop in 1982, when the Canadian Constitution was amended. Section 31(1) was added, where it said the Canadian government and the provinces would recognize and affirm Aboriginal and Treaty rights. That's when this government was supposed to quit this nonsense about Indian Comprehensive Land Claims and instead of that recognize that this is Algonquin Territory where we stand, and begin sharing the resources... instead of cheating us and ripping us off like they continue to do.

"Only through taking measures like what Idle No More is doing, like what Defenders of the Land are doing, are we able to force the government to not just recognize Aboriginal and Treaty rights in the constitution, but recognize it on the ground. There is no reason that indigenous people should be poor in this country. There's only about one million of us, and Canada is the second largest country in the world, one of the wealthiest countries in the world. There's no reason except because of this dispossession that we're made dependent [...] That's how come this place claims that it has the power and the authority to pass legislation concerning the education of our children. They say they can do that and don't recognize the fact that we, because we own our own territory, have a right to make our own laws and our own decisions regarding our land and our territories. Because one of the things that's very clear is that colonization, the whole question of dispossession, dependency and oppression, has been condemned by the United Nations.

"Canada should be standing back from that and recognizing our right as indigenous people to self-determination. [...] We see an oppression in Elsipogtog. We see an oppression in Sun Peaks [a private resort on First Nations land near Kamloops, BC]. We see an oppression whenever indigenous people stand up for our land and our resources. Idle No More is being investigated by the security forces of Canada [...] as a threat to the status quo where Canada controls 99.8 per cent of our land.

They're looking at us as a security risk because we want to reverse that, we want to change that, we want to make sure that indigenous people have our fair share in terms of resources and our right to make decisions. That's what the struggle in Indian education or indigenous education is all about: that we take possession of education, that we educate our children about what colonization is, and we work towards self-determination."

Clayton Tootoosis, member of the Assembly of First Nations Youth Council from Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan said, "As we gather here, [...] inside they talk about what we can do as people: You can do that; no, you can't do that. I don't care what they say because I am from this land! We were all put here by the Creator, natural beings, born of this earth. And when people talk about these rights, Aboriginal rights, man made these Aboriginal rights. My rights come from the Creator. So when we gather and we talk [...] what has to happen is we have to go home to our home fires and make that change. Standing here, me talking, isn't going to make change. We have to realize that we have to take responsibility for our actions. This is the real Assembly. This is where the people are. This is where we need to be -- with each other. And we need to remember that we're responsible for the actions -- so many of us talk about money, and it's all I've been hearing all day. Man made that money and said this is what it's worth, and we're listening. When the land's being destroyed for that money, what am I doing about it? What are you doing about it? What happened in Elsipogtog is they stood up and they said 'no.' They rose up. Well, why don't we rise up? The truth be told, why are there so many police in front of this building? Because they're not protecting us, they're protecting this building. They know that we have the power. The power is with the people and it has always been, when we realize and we wake up to that power that exists within each and every one of our hearts, when [we] live that natural life with Mother Earth, not as its owner. Enough of this talk of money. It's time to remember who we are. We are from this earth!"

A postcard petition by the Chiefs of Ontario was distributed to participants at the rally. The cards are addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and call on the government to "Support and empower First Nations; Stop the unilateral federal Indian Agent approach" and state that the sender rejects the proposed First Nations Education Act. The Chiefs of Ontario's petition against the proposed First Nations Education Act can be found here. Letters of Rejection of the Act from various Ontario First Nations as well as the union Unifor can be found here.

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Erosion of Criminal Justice System

Judges Oppose Revenge-Seeking

In year-end interviews, Prime Minister Harper indicated that 2014 will see his government continue its transformations, in particular to the criminal justice and immigration systems as well as to various other public institutions. As concerns the justice system, he said: "[O]ne of the things we are doing beyond the economy is making, over time, a transformation in our legal system." "[T]hrough time, through change in law, through change in appointments to the bench, I hope we'll see this transformation," he added.

Since coming to power, the Harper government has steadily introduced changes to Canada's criminal justice system. Besides other measures to criminalize the youth, the omnibus crime Bill C-36, handed over sweeping powers to the Minister of Justice and Public Safety and deprived judges of discretionary powers. This has given rise to growing opposition from within the criminal justice system itself to which the government has responded by eliminating even more of the judges' discretionary powers. These are powers designed to make sure that the law is applied in a manner that sees that justice is done, especially when it comes to sentencing.

In a recent confrontation, judges have refused to levy mandatory "victims surcharges" onto those convicted of crimes or they are finding ways around the requirement. The surcharges are an additional penalty imposed on convicted offenders at the time of sentencing. These surcharges are collected and retained by the provincial and territorial governments which are supposed to fund programs and services for victims of crime in the province or territory where the crime occurred.

The surcharges have existed since 1989, and had been mandatory since 2000, however sentencing judges had the discretion to waive the victim surcharge when it could be demonstrated that its payment would cause undue hardship to the offender or his or her dependents. The Harper government changed this in June 2013 when it passed Bill C-37 An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Short Title:  Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act) eliminating any discretion on levying the surcharge regardless of the circumstances.

Waterloo Region Ontario Court Justice Colin Westman, who has been a judge for 24 years, stated, "It's arbitrary, and arbitrary has no place in my view in the justice system. You have to have the facts before you impose a sentence or you impose punishment so that it can be proportionate to the crime."

Responding to criticism of why judges are not respecting the Harper government's changes to the law, Westman asked, "Did they show respect for us when they took away that discretion?"

"What is behind all that, he didn't like what we were doing? We're the judges, trust us. I don't know a judge who doesn't want to do justice in the courtroom. Trust our judgment, you've hired us to do that. We're capable apparently of determining whether a person is guilty or innocent of anything in the provincial court right up to manslaughter and we're capable in using our discretion imposing sentences from suspended sentences to life imprisonment," Westman said.

Addressing the revenge-seeking nature of the changes the Harper government is imposing, Westman pointed out, "You have to understand these people have nothing. That's the tragedy. I'm not trying to be a smart-alec here but I think someone has to remind the minister there are broken people here who don't have anything to give. It's a bully mentality. It's kicking people while they are down. The people we are dealing with, believe me, a high portion of them are just broken souls."

He has tremendous empathy for victims, Westman said, but added "the accused is a human being too."

"We also owe justice, not only to the victim, but the justice system is also based on doing justice to the accused. Retribution is appropriate. Revenge is not," he said.

Explaining why he and other judges were finding ways not to comply with the mandatory surcharge Westman explained that "there are things that come along in life that you just have to stand up for."

"I feel this is so fundamentally wrong," he said. "It's not about Justice Minister MacKay. It's about justice in the courtroom."

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Continued Attacks on Science

Scientists Decry Wrecking of
Fishery Libraries

Contents of the Maurice Lamontagne Library of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in Mont-Joli, Quebec,
thrown in a dumpster, July 2013.

This summer, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) began a process of consolidating its nine research libraries across the country into two, one in Halifax and one in Sidney, BC. Scientists report that this consolidation was presented as a "cost-cutting" exercise, and they were not consulted and no consideration was given to its impact on their ability to conduct research. This attack on fishery science comes in the context of the Harper dictatorship's broad assault on the federal public service, including Canada's libraries and archives and scientific research that does not serve its narrow agenda of supporting monopoly right.

The DFO libraries contained hundreds of thousands of items, many of which were unique and specific to various regions of Canada. The scientists point out that this "consolidation" is akin to a "book burning," with irreplaceable materials being destroyed en masse. These books formed a unique historical record including early studies of local fisheries and marine ecosystems and expedition reports, with some materials dating back to the nineteenth century.

One scientist in a December 24 posting at describes the unceremonious end of the process of consolidation, in which much of the contents of the Eric Marshall Library at the University of Manitoba were opened up for the taking:

"While the Department has issued numerous statements indicating that the material in the library is digitized, and 'rare' texts are being consolidated at other institutions, the fact of the matter is that when the current librarian retired in July, she was nowhere near completed her task of digitizing material or of even simply cataloguing what was held at the library, and the 'closure' at this particular facility has been a total gong-show."

The scientist reports that this process at the Eric Marshall Library was mostly unmonitored and given the incomplete state of the catalogue, it is impossible to determine what books were taken. Many scientists sought to preserve the materials by transferring what they could to their own individual offices.

An article by Andrew Nikiforuk in The Tyee December 9 quotes various scientists regarding the severity of the destruction of this public repository of scientific knowledge.

Speaking of the Eric Marshall Library, Burt Ayles, a 68-year-old retired research scientist and former regional director-general for freshwaters in central Canada and the Arctic stated, "It was a world class library with some of the finest environmental science and freshwater book collections in the world. It was certainly the best in Canada, but it's no more."

"The loss of this library and its impact on fisheries and environmental science is equivalent to Rome destroying the Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt. It's equal to that," added Ayles.

"I was sickened," said one prominent research scientist who had worked for the federal government for 30 years, and who did not want to be identified. "All that intellectual capital is now gone. It's like a book burning. It's the destruction of our cultural heritage. It just makes us poorer as a nation."

"There are so many willing accomplices to what's going on," the scientist added. "All of our federal libraries and archives are being diminished. It's an ideological thing coming from a right-wing libertarian government."

The Eric Marshall Library was closely linked to the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), where for 50 years, world-renowned research on freshwater ecosystems was conducted, which the Harper government also cut in 2012.

Nikiforuk writes, "The closure of the library, which served as a vital source for the ELA, will make it harder for Winnipeg's International Institute for Sustainable Development to rescue what remains of the team of scientists that ran the ELA. A last minute deal, supported by funding by the Ontario government, has been compromised by the federal government. The ELA's remaining researchers all received 'surplus letters' last week, which makes it difficult to retain ELA staff."

Scientists also explained to Nikiforuk that digital archives are no substitute for physical libraries, never mind the fact that full digital archives of the DFO libraries were not completed. Digital libraries typically do not include older material and require payment to access them and thus restrict rather than expand readership, scientists said.

The cuts to the DFO's libraries follows in the wake of other cuts to the department. Nikiforuk writes, "Federal cuts by the Harper government have forced Fisheries and Oceans to lay off hundreds of researchers, as well as 700 Coast Guard workers; dismantle a marine contaminants program; and close the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, the first line of defence against oil spills. After dramatic cuts to the Canada Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research Centre at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, its director, Ken Lee, an oil spill expert, saw the writing on the wall and took a job in Australia."

Furthermore, Nikiforuk points out that "Since 2012, the government has closed or consolidated more than a dozen federal libraries at Parks Canada, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Foreign Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration and Canadian Heritage."

(With files from The Tyee,

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Stepped-up Integration and War Preparations

Canada's Further Integration into
U.S. Homeland Security

On December 19 the Executive Committee of the Beyond the Border Action Plan made up of officials from the executives of the U.S. and Canada released its second report on how it is implementing the Beyond the Border Action Plan signed in 2011. This year's report outlines pilot projects which place Canada's security apparatus under U.S. command and control, in particular at key ports. Also highlighted are ongoing steps to hand over vast amounts of information to U.S. officials on who is travelling to and from Canada. Already there are reports that more Canadians are being harassed at entry to the United States on the basis of private information about their mental health taken "legally" from Canadian databases. There is also an increase in the number of unmanned drones flying in Canadian civilian airspace through the implementation of the Beyond the Border Action Plan.

"Key accomplishments" over the last year include:

- "Deployment of joint Entry/Exit program at the common land border whereby the record of entry into one country is shared and becomes the record of exit from the other country for third-country nationals (those who are neither citizens of Canada nor of the United States), permanent residents of Canada who are not U.S. citizens, and lawful permanent residents of the United States who are not Canadian citizens, thereby enhancing the integrity of our immigration systems; ...

- "Enhanced the administration and enforcement ... of respective immigration laws by signing an agreement for the sharing of visa and immigration information on third-country nationals; ...

- "Deployed Shiprider teams to provide cross-border continuity of law enforcement operations in shared waterways in British Columbia/Washington State and Ontario/Michigan, and conducted Shiprider surge operations at other locations in the Great Lakes and Atlantic regions;

- "Initiated binational radio interoperability between Canadian and U.S. law enforcement personnel in British Columbia/Washington State and Ontario/Michigan; the technology permits law enforcement on both sides of the border to coordinate binational investigations and timely responses to border incidents, while improving both officer and public safety;

- "Conducted the first ever cross-border Regional Resilience Assessment Program project in the New Brunswick-Maine region to improve the security and resilience of our shared critical infrastructure; ...

- "Strengthened cyber incident management coordination between Canada and the United States and enhanced private sector engagement and public awareness on cybersecurity; ...

- "Increased membership in the nexus trusted traveller program to more than 917,000, an increase of approximately 50% since the Beyond the Border Action Plan was announced; ...

- "Successfully implemented Phase I of the truck cargo pre-inspection pilot at Pacific Highway in Surrey, British Columbia (adjacent to Blaine, Washington) in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers pre-inspected approximately 3,500 U.S.-bound commercial trucks;

- "Began preparations for Phase II of the truck cargo pre-inspection pilot, with an anticipated deployment in January 2014 in Fort Erie, Ontario (adjacent to Buffalo, New York), to test the feasibility of reducing wait times and border congestion by conducting U.S. primary inspection of U.S.-bound commercial trucks in Canada;

- "Publicly released an Integrated Cargo Security Strategy" to address "risks associated with maritime shipments arriving from offshore, and undertook pilot projects at Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Montreal, Quebec, and in the pre-load air cargo environment to validate and shape the implementation of the strategy; ...

- "Increased and harmonized the threshold value for low-value commercial shipments, reducing transaction costs for industry by millions of dollars each year; [and]

- "Released the first joint Border Infrastructure Investment Plan to ensure a mutual understanding of recent, ongoing and planned border infrastructure improvements and confirmed Canada's immediate investment plans at key border crossings."

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Government Helps Establish U.S. Control Over Arctic

Early in December, in the service of the U.S. imperialist striving for world domination, Harper ordered a rewrite of Canada's international claim for Arctic seabed rights to include the North Pole, a region Russia has already marked as its own. The Arctic is believed to hold up to 25 per cent of the world's oil and gas reserves. From the perspective of the U.S., the battle for the Arctic is part of its broader global military agenda.

Printed below is the full text of a December 19 news release from Northrop Grumman, the American arms manufacturer which has some $34 billion in Pentagon contracts. Northrop Grumman is using its latest drone, known as the Global Hawk Block 30, to allegedly help "American and Canadian scientists to study changes in topography and Arctic ice caps."

Apart from the unbridled violation of Canadian sovereignty, the story reveals an alarming increase in war preparations. This drone has numerous operating flaws and recurrent maintenance troubles and the U.S. Air Force proposed to save $2.5 billion by closing a drone production line and mothballing some of the aircraft. However, Northrop Grumman used campaign donations and insider access on Capitol Hill to defeat the proposal with Canada intervening on the side of those who are determined to develop it.

It reveals another of what are called "baby steps" taken on a regular basis to keep Canadians unaware of the extent to which the Harper government has placed Canada under U.S. command. Notably, Northrop Grumman's President Ronald D. Sugar is a former director of Chevron Texaco Corp., one of the world's largest and most profitable oil monopolies.

December 19 News Release

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and a team of international science organizations successfully flew a Northrop Grumman-produced NASA Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system through Canadian airspace as part of a mission to collect environmental data in the Canadian Arctic.

The Global Hawk was equipped with an Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) as well as a high resolution camera to conduct ground mapping and visual observation of Arctic ice caps during the approximately 21-hour flight. Information collected during this flight will be used by American and Canadian scientists to study changes in topography and Arctic ice caps.

"Flying high and long missions with advanced scientific equipment over the Arctic provides scientists with real data to better understand the changes that are affecting our world," said Janis Pamiljans, Northrop Grumman's sector vice president and general manager of unmanned systems. "The high-altitude, long-endurance NASA Global Hawk is one of the best tools researchers have to study weather phenomena."

This flight marks the first time the NASA Global Hawk has flown through Canadian civil airspace. Global Hawk's high-altitude, long-endurance capabilities enabled the aircraft to depart from NASA Dryden, based at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and fly over several predetermined key areas in the Arctic before returning to NASA Dryden.

Northrop Grumman, NASA Dryden, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Canadian science counterparts worked together to enable this mission. NASA Global Hawks have already been used for a wide range of environmental missions, including collecting atmospheric data in support of the Airborne Tropical TRopopause EXperiment and deployment over the Atlantic Ocean to study hurricane formation and intensity change during the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel missions.

The flight over the Canadian Arctic comes after the recent five-year renewal of the Space Act Agreement, a partnership between Northrop Grumman and NASA that allows sharing of NASA Global Hawks for science missions and flight demonstrations. The initial Space Act Agreement, signed in 2008, returned two preproduction Global Hawk aircraft to flight status. A permanent Global Hawk ground control station was built at NASA Dryden.

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