Nation-Wrecking! Defeat Harper in 2015!
Oppose Nation-Wrecking! Defeat Harper in
Harper's Steady Hand on the Economy Is a Fraud
The Conservative government
says it deserves to be re-elected
because Harper has a "steady hand" on the economy. Harper repeatedly
says he is focused on "jobs, growth and long-term prosperity" citing
federal budgets as the "Economic Action Plan" for prosperity.
Harper's steady hand has
resulted in seven straight
budgets with an eighth appearing highly likely unless he cuts even more
program spending such as money for Veterans Affairs.
These seven straight deficits happened at a time when
spending to its lowest level in relation to GDP in the history of
The provinces and territories routinely complain that program spending
through transfer payments has not kept pace with the people's needs and
population growth, and they cannot make ends meet.
Harper's seven straight deficits came after ten
budget surpluses from his predecessors. The federal debt under Harper's
steady hand has gone from $457.6 billion in 2008 to a forecasted debt
around $630.0 billion in this fiscal year.
Harper has presided over the worst economic crisis since
from which the economy and employment have yet to recover, in
particular in manufacturing.
Harper has done nothing to prepare for the shock of the
collapse, which has put a large hole in the country's revenue. No
use of oil resources has been pursued under Harper. His government
continues to push crude oil and other resource exports as the main
direction for the economy even in the face of the reality that such a
does not provide economic security for the country.
With Harper's fraudulent steady hand, the amount of
in Canada rose to 155 per cent of income in 2014, up from 133 per cent
in 2007. This was the second largest jump in the household
ratio during that time with the exception of Greece, reaching a level
higher than in the United States before the 2008 economic crisis.
According to PEI MP Sean Casey quoting sources from
Canada, Harper's steady hand from 2008 to 2014 has amassed 24 per cent
of the total accumulated federal debt since Confederation. In seven
of 147, or 4.76 per cent of the time, Harper has amassed 24 per cent of
the federal debt yet cut program spending to its lowest level ever.
Canadians legitimately demand to know where all that
went? It went down the drain on Harper's pay-the-rich Economic Action
It is time for a new direction for the economy away from
fraudulent steady hand.
Cynical Electoral Manipulation of Federal Debt
The Harper Conservatives routinely manipulate the
federal debt to mean
whatever they want. They sometimes cite it as the lowest amongst the
countries therefore proving that Canada's economy is somehow doing
In other instances, they present the Canadian debt and the threat of
alarming to justify the need for austerity and further reductions in
program spending, and to issue fervent calls for Canadians to tighten
The Conservatives say whatever suits their electoral
plans for a majority
government. They often rail against the "free-spending" Liberals or New
Democrats, but could not care less that such an oxymoron is devoid of
"spending" "free"? Could they mean carefree? But government spending is
never without purpose no matter what cartel party is involved. The
truth is that
government debts and deficits are as Canadian as maple syrup. So why do
cartel parties become so bent out of shape denouncing each other over
issue? Perhaps to score cheap electoral points. Perhaps to avoid
new pro-social direction for the economy.
One would think that the
Harper Conservatives in particular would hesitate
altogether to talk about balanced budgets, debts and deficits as their
office has seen the largest increase in the federal interest-bearing
modern times. It went from $582 billion in 2007 to $889 billion in
increase of $307 billion. The increase in those 7 years is greater than
federal budget of around $280 billion. The conundrum surrounding the
government is not just the size of the debt increase but the fact that
spending in relation to the size of the economy's production of goods
services decreased to the lowest level in the history of Canada. A
observer could very well demand: What have you been doing with all that
public money Mr. Harper? Has it all been squandered on pay-the-rich
to bail the monopolies out of their predicaments? Or, have the cuts in
corporate taxes been so great that the debt has gone through the roof?
the accounting? Who owns the debt? What are the facts? What fundamental
economic problem have you solved? The people would like to know so they
can pass judgement on this government.
Harper says he has a "steady hand" when it comes to the
Canadians would backhandedly agree with him: yes Stephen, a very steady
hand indeed in paying the rich and wrecking manufacturing. You have
nothing towards creating an alternative pro-social direction for the
that begins to address its recurring problems and meet the needs of the
Canadians do not want cynical manipulation of the debt,
budgets so that cartel parties can win votes. How about just the facts
Canadians can chart a new direction for the economy away from the
crises and finally put the country on a sound footing where the people
Oil Price Collapse Signals Necessity for a
New Direction for
The Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives
approve Enbridge's Keystone XL pipeline on February 11, 2015. No one
expects government approval any time soon. Not only does it still need
consent of Nebraska, but also President Obama has vowed to veto the
Despite the fact that Keystone XL has been blocked for
from Alberta's tar sands is reaching the U.S. Gulf Coast. Far from
to the higher prices and assured markets that Harper and Alberta
governments have pitched for years, a price war has broken out.
forecast that prices for heavy oil at the Texas refineries will drop
more in the future.
The Harper government and
Alberta PCs have been relentless
cheerleaders and salespeople for those monopolies trumpeting the
Keystone XL pipeline to transport bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to
the refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, mainly in Texas and Louisiana.
Bitumen from the tar sands would, according to this plan, replace heavy
oil from other
The Harper government and Alberta Redford and Prentice
governments have made repeated trips to Washington, New York and
Houston leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to convince the
administration and others to give approval to the pipeline. Harper
its benefits are a "no-brainer" and with a show of bravado told Obama
that "he would not take no for an answer." Harper has declared the
Keystone XL a matter of the U.S. "National interest" and therefore
The Harper Conservatives have tried to discredit
as terrorists and job-killers. Liberal Justin Trudeau has also thrown
support behind the pipeline, dismissing the opposition as
These politicians are not only pitching the need for Keystone XL to
proceed but also their claim that the export of raw resources is a path
prosperity for Canada.
The Harper and Prentice governments speak of a
bottleneck of oil
in the U.S. Mid-West, which leads to discounts on Alberta heavy oil
Western Canadian Select (WCS). Former Alberta Premier Alison Redford
called this a "bitumen bubble" and used the low price for WCS as a
pretext to impose austerity budgets. Far from a bottleneck, crude oil
reaches the U.S. Gulf Coast through other pipelines and trains to the
extent that heavy oil is in oversupply. Also, light oil has added to
with a huge increase in U.S. production through fracking of shale oil.
Fortress North America
A frenzy of mining and
drilling in the tar sands and shale fields has taken place within the
aim to bolster Fortress North America, where a major consideration is
security of oil and natural gas supply in preparation for war. The
manoeuvring on this front began 40 years ago with a law prohibiting
crude oil exports.
A recent aspect of this policy is to increase oil
production in the U.S.
and Canada through public subsidies and infrastructure, easy money, and
to ease off regulations on dangerous techniques, and other means. The
broad aim is to reach
North American self-sufficiency and replace outside oil sold in the
Crowding out non-North American crude oil sales
in the U.S.
has the added deliberate aim to destroy the economies of Venezuela,
and Russia, as they scramble and compete for other markets, and to put
pressure on Mexico to privatize the energy sector. A goal appears to be
for the U.S. refineries to become major suppliers of refined oil (and
liquefied natural gas) to Europe. This would give the U.S. Empire added
control over European political affairs.
The actions have resulted in an international glut of
oil and a
collapse of oil prices. The consequences for Canada include predictions
recession in Alberta and Newfoundland, and rising unemployment in
Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland. This will badly affect the
economy, workers and communities across Canada.
Events in the energy sector and Fortress North America
to light the consequences of basing the Canadian economy, its growth
prosperity on the U.S. Empire's drive for domination, its subjugation
who seek an independent road, its rabid militarization and wars, and
attacks on the rights and security of all. The working
in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico and their allies face the challenge of
developing their independent politics
a new direction for their economies and countries in opposition to the
U.S. Empire and Fortress North America.
Price War on Gulf Coast Exposes Harper's Pipedream
for Resource-Based Exporting Economy
Rally on Burnaby Mountain,
September 13, 2014. (S.
Keystone XL, the Enbridge pipeline across northern BC,
Morgan's TransMountain pipeline to Vancouver and TransCanada's
Energy East pipeline are projects that have become focal points for the
to the irrational irresponsible export of raw resources. The people
rational and environmentally responsible development of natural
to serve a broader sustainable economy, especially manufacturing,
programs, and public services for all. The people demand their right
the right of First Nations to exercise control and decision-making over
the land and natural resources that belong to them by right and that
nation-building not U.S. unipolar empire-building.
Crude Oil Price War on the U.S. Gulf Coast
without Keystone XL, bitumen from the tar sands is now reaching the
Coast refineries. The pipeline monopolies have built lines from
Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast that did not require Congressional or
Presidential approval. Enbridge has completed the 600,000 barrel a day
Flanagan/south line from Illinois to Cushing, and the Seaway Twin,
can carry 450,000 barrels per day from Cushing to Freeport, Texas. Last
TransCanada Pipelines completed the Gulf Coast pipeline from Cushing
to Nederland, Texas. ExxonMobil, which owns Imperial Oil, also moves
crude through its Pegasus pipeline from Patoka, Illinois to Nederland,
Texas. The major countries producing heavy oil are Canada, Venezuela,
Mexico, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Expansion of production in the tar sands was one part of
the push for
North American self-sufficiency and assault on other suppliers of heavy
oil. The aim was
to ensure a supply of oil in Fortress North America during war and for
other imperialist purposes of the U.S. Empire, certainly not Canadian
nation-building as the price collapse clearly demonstrates. During the
era, the U.S. Energy Policy Act
was passed in 2005 to provide subsidies
big oil to build more refining capacity. In 2011 under the Obama
administration, the Act was amended to pay the rich to build more
capacity to upgrade and refine bitumen from the tar sands. Three
refineries were provided an estimated $1 to $1.8 billion in tax
through highly accelerated depreciation. These included the Motiva
refinery, which is jointly owned by Saudi Aramco and Shell Oil, the
refinery, controlled by Texas interests, and the Total refinery, a
French-based company. Valero and Total are committed to use Keystone
XL when completed.
Venezuela is one particular target of North American
self-sufficiency and the oil price war, as the U.S. pursues its goal to
destabilize and overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro and
undermine the Bolivarian revolution. The Venezuelan national oil
company owns a refinery operated as CITGO on the Gulf Coast.
Pressure to Privatize Mexican Oil
Another target of the price war is to replace Mexico
Maya crude to put pressure on Mexico to privatize its oil sector.
oil industry was nationalized in 1938, and the Mexican constitution
foreign control of the sector. This was a victory of the Mexican
in which the people of Mexico assert their sovereignty over the oil
resources and which the working people are fighting to defend.
International finance capital has exerted great pressure on Mexico to
reverse this situation. As part of the neo-liberal privatization
Mexican government claims it has no money to invest in Petróleos
Mexicanos (PEMEX), the national oil company or to build new refineries
or a strong petrochemical industry. This has led to declining oil
The most powerful energy monopolies together with the
now poised to carry out their theft of the resources, which belong to
Mexican people by right. Impending privatization will open the oil
of Mexico to foreign exploitation. Thirty-seven of PEMEX's 41 divisions
will be open to private subcontractors. Haliburton already has a
with PEMEX to drill new wells and maintain pipelines.
In December 2014, PEMEX reduced the official selling
price of its
Maya crude. Mexico Maya is in competition with the Alberta tar sands
the U.S. Gulf Coast market and its price is closer than ever to that of
Western Canadian Select (WCS), Alberta's heavy oil blend.
Fortress North America was also designed to reduce
dependence on West Asian oil. Saudi Arabia is fighting to retain and
expand its market share. Saudi Aramco recently cut its U.S. bound price
for Arab medium - a heavy oil - for the sixth straight month. OPEC
countries including Saudi Arabia have been losing markets in China. In
the face of the U.S.-led sanctions aimed at weakening the Russian
economy and bringing about regime change, which is one of the aims of
low oil prices, Russia has made new trading arrangements, in particular
with China. Chinese customs data show that imports from Russia to China
surged by 36 per cent in 2014 while imports from Saudi Arabia fell by 8
per cent and those from Venezuela dropped 11 per cent.
These developments indicate that markets for bitumen on
Coast are far from assured and the claims of higher prices yet another
pipedream. Frenzied expansion of the tar sands fuelled by greed,
pay-the-rich schemes and other state enticements, and dreams of
sustained high prices have again hit a brick wall.
A New Direction for the Economy
Current tar sands production will continue and even
increase as new projects are
completed. Whether those now put on hold will ever be built is a
question. The entire Fortress North America plan based on putting
Canada and its people and resources at the disposal of the U.S. war
machine and drive for a unipolar world Empire has led to this current
Another crisis was
inevitable when the motive for frenzied expansion
of the tar sands was never to serve the needs of nation-building and a
self-reliant sustainable economy or to guarantee the well-being of the
people. Yet another crisis was inevitable when social consciousness and
the human factor are not allowed any say or control over the economy
and its direction.
By their actions, the ruling capitalist elite created a
crisis where oil
prices fell rapidly. They dramatically increased oil production in the
tar sands and shale fields. The biggest energy monopolies set the
the economy and the people have had no say in the matter. The global
monopolies and their political representatives have consistently
the just stand of the organized working class, including the oil
themselves, to calm down and develop oil resources in a socially
responsible manner building a self-reliant sustainable economy not
on frenzied raw material exports. In addition, the prices of those
are not consciously controlled according to their price of production
through international agreements for mutual benefit and development but
fall within the clutches of globally controlled market forces of the
parasites pushing prices wildly up and down.
With the collapse of oil
prices, the owners of monopoly capital are
not the ones to suffer the layoffs and imposed austerity. They are
the burden onto workers forcing them out into the cold insecurity of
unemployment. The official hacks led by Harper and Prentice demand the
people tighten their belts as they insist no alternative exists to
and cutbacks of social programs and public services. Indeed the owners
of the global energy monopolies are making pious statements about how
they are in it for the long haul, while the working class in Canada and
elsewhere is forced to pay the price for this U.S. Empire controlled
lop-sided irrational resource-based economy and its constant crises.
As events unfold, the fraudulent nature of the claim
that the national
interest is being served with pipedreams of a resource-based economy
become clear. A new direction for the economy is needed that serves the
interests of Canadians where the natural resources are developed to
strengthen manufacturing, social programs, and public services not the
narrow interests of global monopolies. Governments are faced with
demanding a new direction. A new direction for the economy under the
control of the people and not the global monopolies is needed that
the broad interests of Canadians, their economy and the general
Click image to enlarge.
Bill C-51: Harper Government's Political
Priority Versus that of the People
Bill C-51 -- All-Sided Attack on Canadians
in the Name of Fighting
Debate began on Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act,
2015, on February 18. The government quickly moved to cut
off debate and rush the passage of the bill using time allocation
according to Standing Order 78(3). It seems that the government
plans to implement the measures in the bill as quickly as
possible to put into action its plan to direct the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the entire resources of
the state into attacking the people and their rights.
With this, "the hopes for a
non-partisan, in-depth analysis of
the anti-terrorism legislation may have already been dashed. This
is an incredibly troubling development since the proposed
legislation has all the hallmarks of being pulled together
quickly with limited analysis," writes University of Ottawa
professor Michael Geist on his blog on February 19.
vagueness of the bill and the wide net it casts seem engineered to
criminalize as broad a section of the Canadian people as possible
and even permit attacks abroad.
In Canada, those targeted by the bill include anyone the
government considers to be an internal or external enemy
according to secret criteria. It targets not only the working
class, political and social activists, and anyone who champions
the rights of the Quebec and Indigenous peoples, but also rival
factions within the ruling capitalist class vying for political
One of the revelations of the report of the McDonald
Commission on RCMP "wrongdoing" in 1981 was that the agency was
engaged in active surveillance of 800,000 Canadians, or more than
three per cent of the population at that time. In the Cold War
fervour this included virtually all communists and progressive
Canadians and those who attended demonstrations including the
leadership of a political party with seats in the legislatures
across the country, the New Democratic Party. Today, in the
context of the takeover of the state by private interests,
"keeping tabs" on Canadians will become virtually limitless. Bill
C-51 removes the previous restrictions on information sharing
between police, spy agencies and government departments and lacks
oversight. This creates the serious danger of putting the police
above the civil power, as the McDonald Commission on RCMP
"wrongdoing" found to be the case at that time.
With the conversion of CSIS into a full-scale secret
force, illegality -- including "kinetic" powers as the use of
force is called -- is added to the "toolkit." Restrictions on the way
agents can act are vague, suggesting that illegal actions will be
limited only by the extent that secret warrants can be obtained
from judges. Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley has already
revealed how, in a secret 2013 decision (a redacted version of
which was later released), CSIS agents deceived him in their
request for a warrant to conduct surveillance on Canadians
overseas. It is illegal to identify the names of CSIS agents and
it is illegal to speak about secret operations, so where does
this leave the security of Canadians? In the hands of the state
where the police can make the decisions which affect the people's
lives. It must not pass!
TML Weekly calls
on all Canadians to go all out to
call for Bill C-51 to be scrapped. This should include calling
and writing the Members of Parliament to oppose this bill. TML
Weekly also once again stresses the importance of taking up
serious discussion of this bill and what the government is up to
amongst workmates, fellow students and colleagues as well as
within the communities. It is important to keep a cool head in
the face of government attempts to intimidate and cause mass
hysteria about the terror threat from "Muslim jihadists" or
political activists who it accuses of posing a danger to Canadian
security or of anti-Semitism and other such unsubstantiated
The government has declared the fight against terrorism
the political priority. For Canadians the political priority
continues to be, "Who Decides all the matters which affect our
lives?" Let us together take up the challenges ahead in 2015, go
all out to scrap Bill C-51 and fight for a new direction for
"Activity that Undermines the Security of
The following is the definition of "activity that
undermines the security of Canada" or "threats to the security of
Canada" contained in Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act,
According to the bill, if security forces or the
determine that something or someone "undermines the security of
Canada," or is a threat to it, free sharing of information
between government departments and agencies is permitted, along
with CSIS acting against it in any number of ways, including the
use of force.
"2. The following definitions apply in this Act.
"'Activity that undermines the security of Canada'
"'Activity that undermines the security of Canada' means
activity, including any of the following activities, if it
undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of
Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada:
(a) interference with the capability of the Government
Canada in relation to intelligence, defence, border operations,
public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or
consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of
(b) changing or unduly influencing a government in
force or unlawful means;
(c) espionage, sabotage or covert foreign-influenced
(e) proliferation of nuclear, chemical, radiological or
(f) interference with critical infrastructure;
(g) interference with the global information
as defined in section 273.61 of the National Defence
(h) an activity that causes serious harm to a person or
property because of that person's association with Canada;
(i) an activity that takes place in Canada and
security of another state.
"For greater certainty, it does not include lawful
protest, dissent and artistic expression."
Where Does Counter-Radicalization End and Compulsion
The concept of "counter-radicalization" or "community
been widely promoted as an alternative to preemptive criminalization of
who are accused of "sympathizing" with or "promoting" terrorism.
appearance of a reformative/restorative approach as opposed to a
it is also said that this approach is more effective and addresses "the
causes of terrorism."
This approach, which is lauded by New Democratic Party
Mulcair, was the basis of a February 17-19 "Countering Violent
Summit in Washington, D.C. During the debate on Bill C-51 in the House
of Commons on February 18, and in an editorial for the National Post the next day, Mulcair
"No stranger to the threat
of terrorism, the United
States under President
Obama has taken a proactive approach to combatting radicalization. The
House has spearheaded work with at-risk communities to make them more
resilient against the lure of radicalization. Their government works to
community and faith leaders by connecting them with
experts, which provides information on recognizing the warning signs of
radicalization and training in how to [defuse] it."
By "communities" and
"at-risk communities" we can presume that Mr.
Mulcair and the summit participants do not mean the Amish. It is also
they are referring to the communities to which the neo-Nazi Halifax
plotters belonged, or the community of the perpetrator of the recent
homicide in Chapel Hill, NC. To use the parlance of Minister of
Justice Peter MacKay, when he refers to communities who are deemed to
have a "culturally based" problem, it means Muslims. This would
indicate that the approach proposed by Mulcair and the Washington
summit is based on profiling, which is contentious to say the least.
The RCMP defines "radicalization" as "the process by
which individuals --
usually young people -- are introduced to an overtly ideological
belief system that encourages movement from moderate, mainstream
towards extreme views."
Contra MacKay, the "community engagement" approach of
Obama seeks to promote "moderate, mainstream beliefs" as the antithesis
"radicalism" or "extremism" by connecting "counter-radicalization
with "community and faith leaders" to recognize "warning signs" and
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden put it this way: "We
haven't always gotten
it right. But we have a lot of experience integrating communities into
American system, the American dream."
A society that defends the rights of all does not enter
Instead, we have a paternalistic extension of
training," "conflict resolution," et al. Those who are
the "warning signs" of "radicalization" are to be "engaged with" by
who are connected to "a range of social service providers, including
administrators, mental health professionals [and] law enforcement
If counter-radicalization and community engagement fail, there is
criminalization as a back-up plan. Is this not the Cold War definition
"brainwashing"? Who decides what beliefs are impermissible, and how
much re-education one has to submit to before one's thinking is
suitable to the ruling elites? Where does "counter-radicalization" end
and compulsion begin?
For Your Information
On February 17-19, the U.S. hosted a three-day Summit on
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in Washington, DC. The Summit was
announced in January in the context of "recent, tragic attacks in
Ottawa, Sydney, and Paris." A February 18 White House press briefing
stated that the summit brought together "local, federal, and
international leaders -- including President Obama and foreign
ministers -- to discuss concrete steps the United States and its
partners can take to develop community-oriented approaches to counter
hateful extremist ideologies that radicalize, recruit or incite to
violence. Violent extremist threats can come from a range of groups and
individuals, including domestic terrorists and homegrown violent
extremists in the United States, as well as terrorist groups like
al-Qaeda and ISIL."
The summit included ministers from nearly 70 countries, the UN
Secretary-General, senior officials from other multilateral bodies, and
representatives from civil society and the private sector. These
participants were to "chart a path for progress that will include
regional summits, aimed at taking concrete steps to prevent violent
extremism in the lead up to UNGA 2015 [....] and build upon the
framework of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which encourages
the UN and other multilateral bodies to intensify efforts to identify
and address the local drivers of violent extremism."
The White House fact sheet on the summit indicates that the strategy
aims to "address the root causes of extremism." This is to be done
through "Building awareness; Countering extremist narratives; and
Emphasizing Community Led Intervention."
Canada was represented at the summit by Minister of Public Safety
Steven Blaney. His remarks evidenced the Harper government's efforts to
appear to be tough on terrorism in opposition to the "community
engagement" approach. He highlighted Canada's counter-terrorism
strategy of "Prevent, Detect, Deny, and Respond" and stated that
"enhancing our prevention efforts is not enough." The government has
introduced Bill C-51, he said, because "the international jihadist
movement has declared war on Canada."
Creation of the Canadian Security
Intelligence Service in 1984
TML Weekly is
reprinting excerpts from an article in the
issue of Voice of the People, the magazine of the People's
Against Racist and Fascist Violence. The article reports on the bill in
Parliament for the creation of the Canadian Security Intelligence
(CSIS) which was completed on June 21, 1984. The article reveals that
problems of oversight that are the basis for much discussion in the
Bill C-51 were never taken as serious matters by the government;
shows that Canadians cannot rely on the state or commissions of inquiry
protect their rights when the state has become an instrument wielded
them. It affirms that Canadians stand for democracy and the rule of
agencies such as CSIS were created to act with impunity in opposition
rights of Canadians.
Bill C-157 -- The 1983 Act to Create the
Security Intelligence Service
- Voice of the People, June,
1983 (Excerpts) -
"On May 18, 1983, the federal government introduced
legislation, Bill C-157, to create a terrorist spy agency, the Canadian
Intelligence Service, with the aim of legalizing and escalating the
against the workers, immigrants, youth and students, women, and
and democratic forces in Canada and abroad.
The McDonald Royal Commission into RCMP wrongdoing
the formation of this terrorist spy agency. This royal commission was
established several years ago after the many revelations into the
by the RCMP security service including barn burning, mail opening,
wiretapping, character assassination, writing terrorist communiques,
kidnapping, and so on.
The royal commission was presented to the people as an
investigate and recommend means of preventing such criminal and
activities of the RCMP in the future. This was just a deception to
outrage of the people and mislead them into thinking that the royal
commission would protect their rights and freedoms.
Now that the federal government has introduced its
legislation to create the
Canadian Security Intelligence Service, based on the recommendations of
McDonald Commission, which included legalizing the criminal activities
secret police, the real nature of the royal commission is completely
Not only are the rights of the people not protected; on the contrary
in greater danger than ever before.
Basic Features of Bill C-157
Bill C-157 gives the new spy
agency wide powers to carry out all sorts of covert, subversive and
activities without regard to the laws. The legislation mandates the
service to collect, by investigation or otherwise, and analyse and
information and intelligence respecting activities that may on
grounds be suspected of constituting "threats to the security of
The legislation empowers the spy agency to enter into
arrangements with the various provincial and municipal governments and
police forces. Like the RCMP security service, which was notorious for
collaborating with the fascist secret police of other countries like
Central Intelligence Agency and the Iranian SAVAK, the new spy agency
would have the power to enter into arrangements with foreign states and
security institutions, or international organizations, in order to
governments, institutions or organizations with security "assessments."
"According to [the] definition of "threat to the
security of Canada," [now expanded in
Bill C-51 -- TML Ed. Note] all
activities in the country
aimed at resisting the shifting of the burden of the economic crisis
backs of the people and eliminating the crisis, opposing the
preparations and the danger of imperialist war and establishing a
lasting peace, defending and extending the democratic rights and
the people, and ending the U.S. imperialist domination of Canada and
establishing genuine independence and sovereignty are subject to
"investigation" by the spy agency.
"Section 21 of Bill C-157 has been given the most press
coverage. It is
part of the legislation which allows for the breaking of laws by the
service. It states that: "The Director and employees are justified in
reasonable actions as are reasonably necessary to enable them to
duties and functions of the Service under this Act." This section of
legislation is specifically included to protect security agents from
any kind of
prosecution for wrongdoing. [Bill
C-51 now makes explicit mention
violating the law and Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the CSIS Act --
TML Ed. Note.]
The Fraud of Accountability
"In introducing this fascist
legislation, the government has attempted to keep in place a
through the fraud of the "accountability" of the security service to an
legislature. According to the government, this so-called accountability
security service to an elected legislature distinguishes the "liberal
from the "authoritarian and totalitarian states."
The McDonald Commission dwelled at length on the issue
democracy," "authoritarianism," "totalitarianism," and
"accountability." It stated
"Liberal democracies face a unique challenge. Put very
challenge is to secure democracy against both its internal and external
without destroying democracy in the process. Authoritarian and
states do not have to face this challenge. In such countries there is
no need to
ensure that security agencies, whose techniques inevitably involve a
of secrecy, be accountable to an elected legislature. Nor is there any
requirement in such states that all of their security measures be
provided for by the law and that none of their officials be above the
liberal democratic states are expected to make sure that the
subversive activity does not interfere with the freedoms of political
association which are essential ingredients of a free society."
"Even the distinction which the government makes between
agencies of the two types of regimes is really non-existent. For
Canadian Security Intelligence Service would not be accountable to an
legislature but to a government-appointed "review committee."
the legislation would authorize the spy agency to commit all sorts of
acts under the protection of the law. Indeed, proceeding from the
given by the McDonald Commission, the Canadian state belongs in the
category of the "totalitarian states." This is why Canada has very
relations with "totalitarian" regimes like the notorious fascists
Israel, South Korea, the Philippines, etc.
"Democracy," "National Security" and "Rule of Law"
"The government presents that the new spy agency is
to defend "democracy," the "rule of law" and "national security."
to the rich and their government, to defend democracy it is necessary
to fascism. That is how Trudeau justified the imposition of the War
Act against the people of Quebec in October 1970. And this is how the
and the government are justifying the creation of a new spy agency.
The new spy agency is proposed in order to defend the
interests of the rich
minority of exploiters in Canada and the United States and other
is not to defend "democracy" or "national security" or the "rule of
law." It is
because the struggles of the people against the shifting of the burden
economic crisis onto their backs, against the imperialist war
against the attacks on their democratic rights and freedoms threaten
and rule of the rich that the government is creating a new spy agency
suppress these struggles.
In their pursuit of maximum profits, the rich and the
state constantly attack
the economic, political and social rights of the people. They pass laws
restraining the wages of the workers and banning their strikes, and
the police and strike-breakers to attack these struggles. The RCMP and
Immigration Department harass and persecute the immigrants in order to
them submit to vicious exploitation at the hands of the bosses and the
government imports contract labour from Mexico and the Caribbean to
in the fields like chattel slaves fenced in with barbed wire and housed
"The rich and their state are the biggest threat to the
security of the
Canadian people and the nation. The people have no economic security,
secure jobs, no stable prices, and no guarantee of food, clothing or
people have no guaranteed political rights as seen by the activity of
government in imposing the War
Measures Act. Even the Constitution
allows the government to prescribe the rights outlined in the Charter
and Freedoms to "reasonable limits."
The Canadian people want the rule of law -- laws which
serve the interests
of the people, which guarantee them economic, political and social
which guarantee them sovereignty and independence. But the rich and
government can never provide the people with such laws because such
do not serve their interests.
Only Through Mass Struggle Can the People Defend and
Their Rights and Freedoms
The McDonald Commission is the best proof that the
cannot rely on the state and its agencies to defend their rights. The
commission was supposedly established to solve the problem of the
terrorist activities of the RCMP against the people. Instead, it came
a plan for a new spy agency which has the power to launch more vicious
attacks on the rights and freedoms of the people.
The people cannot rely on the "review committee" of the
spy agency to
defend their rights either. They cannot rely on any of the so-called
"safeguards" in the legislation either. Currently, the legislation
"Nothing in this act authorizes the Service to investigate the affairs
of any person or groups of persons solely on the basis of participation
person or groups in lawful advocacy, protest or dissent." But this
between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" dissent is merely to make
believe they can remain untouched by the new spy agency.
The rich and the government view the struggles against
the shifting of the
burden of the economic crisis onto the backs of the people, the
against the war preparations, and the struggles in defence of
and freedoms as all "illegitimate." There is not a single demonstration
country which is not spied upon and photographed by the secret police.
RCMP kept files on 800,000 Canadians and the Canadian Security
Service, with wider powers than the RCMP, will keep even more files on
people and engage in more subversion, terrorism and attacks on the
The only way that the people can defend and extend their
rights is to step up the mass struggle."
House of Commons to Debate Problem of
Self-Serving Attempt to Cover for Israeli State Terror
On February 18, Jason Kenney, Minister of National
Defence and for
Multiculturalism tabled a motion to hold a House of Commons debate on
It was seconded by Irwin Cotler, Liberal MP from Mount Royal. The
"That a take note debate on the subject of the troubling
anti-Semitism around the world, as discussed at a special meeting of
United Nations General Assembly on January 22, 2015, take place
standing order 53.1 on Tuesday, February 24, 2015."
That the Harper government is concerned with the
"troubling rise of
anti-Semitism in the world" is puzzling to say the least. It is well
this government is providing full support to the current coup-installed
Ukrainian government which has in its composition neo-Nazi elements
Svoboda (formerly known as the Social-National Party), the Right
other ultra-nationalist groups. It will be interesting to see if these
anti-Semitism will be exposed during the debate.
It is no accident that the
debate is being proposed at a time when the
atrocities committed by the Israeli Zionist state are being
possible charges of war crimes by the International Criminal Court and
has been denounced by countries all over the world for its crimes. For
than 60 years the world has witnessed the violation of the rights of
million human beings whose lands were occupied by force. Israel has
continued its policy of ethnic cleansing to date, which has left the
people stateless, statusless refugees in their own land.
The Harper government has expressed its unconditional
support for the Israeli
Zionist state on many occasions. Except for its main benefactors like
Canada and the UK, Israel is totally isolated and universally
concerns of Kenney, Cotler and others about "anti-Semitism" are to
disinformation and cover up the genocidal policies that the Palestinian
face every day in Gaza and the West Bank.
The arguments of these champions of Israel ring hollow
as they try to equate the denunciation of Israel with "anti-Semitism."
In a 2010 item for the National
Post, Cotler attempts to make a distinction
anti-Semitism" and the new form of anti-Semitism he claims exists: "In
word, classical anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, denial of,
upon the rights of Jews to live as equal members of whatever society
inhabit. The new anti-Semitism involves the discrimination against,
or assault upon the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal
the family of nations, with Israel as the targeted collective Jew among
Cotler also argued this point at an informal meeting of
the UN General
Assembly on January 22, attended by the U.S., Canada and Israel as well
some of the main European powers like Germany and France.
to the General Assembly, Cotler again argued that attacks against
Israel are a
kind of anti-Semitism and that "we need a new vocabulary to define it."
Bernard-Henry Lévy, a French philosopher and
ardent supporter of the
State of Israel and U.S. imperialism, was the keynote speaker at the UN
meeting. He tried to support Cotler's contention by suggesting that the
so-called old form of anti-Semitism had lost all credibility and "it is
with new characteristics." One of these new characteristics, according
to Mr. Lévy, is that "the Jews are detestable because they are
supposed to support an evil, illegitimate, murderous state." The theory
being put forward by Cotler and Lévy is that the attacks against
the Zionist State of Israel are an attack against all Jews and
therefore constitute a new form of "anti-Semitism."
This line of reasoning shows that the arguments at the
Assembly in January and the debate proposed for February 24 in
are self-serving efforts. They aim to cover up the crimes being
against the Palestinian people by hiding behind the cover of
The plan of the Harper government and Cotler is to get all-party
to fool Canadians into thinking that the criminal terrorist state
of Israel is
the victim and the Canadian government is merely supporting the "right
Jewish people to self-determination." This logic, combined with Bill
C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, will be used to
criminalize support for
the Palestinian people's resistance as "promotion of terrorism." It
serve to justify the labelling as terrorism and "anti-Semitism" any
support of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people or against
committed by the state of Israel.
This entire argument is
dishonest not only because Zionism, which is a
state ideology, is being attributed to Jewish people as a whole. It is
dishonest because these so-called defenders of the right to
do not have a word to say about the ongoing violation of the human
the Palestinian people other than to label their just struggle as
It is certain that the goal of this motion in the
House of Commons is
not to solve the problems facing the peoples of the Middle East and
nothing will be mentioned during the debate about the right of
self-determination and the recognition of their national rights. Nor
debates admit the fact that people all over the world are speaking out
more against Zionism including many Jews in Israel and other countries.
In the past year alone, there are many examples in
Israeli news reports of
members of the Israeli army and reserves who have publicly declared
petitions and demonstrations their refusal to serve "because of the
military operation taking place in our name." Many have been sentenced
for their conscientious objections. Another example is the Neteurei
Jewish religious group whose members publicly support the demands of
Palestinian people. There are also many ultra-orthodox Jewish religious
in Israel and outside who say that Zionism violates their religious
Discussion in the House of Commons these days is
dominated by the
debate around Bill C-51 and the obsession of the Harper Conservatives
equate Islam with terrorism. The debate being proposed by Kenney and
will be dominated by another obsession -- unconditional support for the
terror waged by Israel against the people of the region especially the
The Members of Parliament who participate in the debate
that if terrorist acts are committed, it does not matter what the
identity is of the people who commit atrocities, or in the name of
religion they purport to speak.
1. In the afternoon, the UN General Assembly held a
featuring remarks by Theodore E. Deutch, Representative in the United
House of Representatives; Irwin Cotler, Member of Parliament, House of
Commons of Canada; Wade Henderson, President and Chief Executive
of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The
Conference Education Fund; Elisa Massimino, President and Chief
Officer of Human Rights First; and Robert S. Wistrich, Director of the
University of Jerusalem's Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the
February 14 Memorial Marches for
Missing and Murdered
Vancouver, February 14,
Memorial marches for missing and murdered women took
place in more
than 20 towns and cities across Canada from February 13-15. This year
the the 25th Annual Women's Memorial March Honouring Missing and
Murdered Women in Vancouver where the marches were initiated in 1991.
The marches honour the lives of the hundreds of friends, sisters,
mothers, aunties and grandmothers across the country, more than 1,181
who have gone missing or been murdered in the last few decades, and
a National Inquiry be held and measures taken to end the violence
remedy the social problems that give rise to it.
Some 2,500 to 3,000 people joined together at noon
on Valentine's Day at Main
and Hastings Streets in Downtown Eastside Vancouver to march in
solidarity with families who have lost daughters, wives, sisters,
nieces and good friends to the ongoing murder and violence regularly
out to indigenous women in this city.
There was a large turn out
of youth for the event. Protocol called for organizational signs and
banners not to be carried,
instead to focus on remembering the missing and murdered women. A
of banners and signs called for a national public inquiry into the
causes of this mayhem committed against women, especially indigenous
women, from coast to coast to coast in Canada.
Among the participants were members of the BC
Legislature; Grand Chief
Stewart Phillip, president of the BC Union of Indian Chiefs; Irene
Lanzinger, president of the BC Federation of Labour; the Vancouver
chief; and other public figures. The only ones to speak were
the indigenous women organizers and a number of women who expressed
their grief at the loss of loved ones.
The three-hour march slowly made its way through the
Eastside, laying flowers at locations where women have been murdered
or abducted, and ending
at the totem pole in Oppenheimer Park where hundreds of candles were
lit. Participants then went to the Japanese Community
Centre for food, speeches, drumming and dancing.
"In memory may we walk with all our
grandmothers, mothers, aunties, sisters, daughters and friends in our
from our communities." This was the call for women, youth, children and
men to join in the Women's Memorial March in Prince George to
remember the missing and murdered Aboriginal women
and children across Canada and all women and children facing violence.
Participants carried signs denouncing Harper for his
comments that violence against Aboriginal women was not on his "radar."
The demand for a Public Inquiry into the missing and murdered women
was renewed along with the demand for the implementation
of the Highway of Tears Conference recommendations. Demonstrators also
called for immediate action to end the atrocities faced by Aboriginal
women, children and their families.
Following the welcome to the traditional territory of
T'enneh, introductory comments were made by march organizers from the
New Caledonia Students' Union and Chief Terry Tegee of the Carrier
Tribal Council. Drummers sang the Women's Warrior song to lead off the
march of more than 100 people through downtown Prince George.
Many visitors and athletes
in town for the Canada Winter
honked and waved in support. Marchers stopped in
front of the RCMP headquarters to leave red and yellow roses in the
-- red roses in remembrance of murdered women and yellow roses for
In particular women lost on Highway 16 -- the
Tears -- were remembered. The recent decision to cut funding
to the team of RCMP investigators focused on finding the perpetrators
atrocities along the highway was denounced.
Stopping traffic in all directions, demonstrators took
over the intersection in
front of the
RCMP Headquarters to perform a
memorial circle dance and for a minute to silently remember all women
lost to their loved ones and to their communities.
The March concluded at the Courthouse with a drumming
and singing circle followed by a time for
reflection and discussion. All in all, the event was a powerful
of loss and remembrance coupled with an unmistakable strength,
determination and united voice to fight for action to end the violence
against Aboriginal women and all women.
Over a hundred people
gathered at Simms
Park in Courtenay on February 14 for a "Memorial Walk for Our Stolen
Sisters." The event began with the drummers and women dancers of the
K'omoks First Nation, followed by a presentation by the organizer of
march who explained the origins of the annual memorial action and how
young women and children participated in making the banner and the
red silhouettes of missing Aboriginal women who have connections to the
community for the event.
The speaker, along with another woman who read a poem
emphasized the necessity for everyone to stand up against the violence
against First Nations women and that this is a fight against the
history that presents First Nations as conquered people. She asserted,
"We are not conquered. We will not be conquered."
The march followed the path around Simms Park and onto
Street bridge to the edge of downtown Courtenay, then back across the
bridge to the park for more drumming and dancing that involved
Several hundred people gathered in Cabot Square in the
end of Montreal in the frigid cold for the Memorial march. Signs and
placards as well as speakers denounced the failure of the Harper
government to take up its responsibility to investigate and take
to end the disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women
and girls, pointing out that this illustrates Canada's refusal to
with its history of colonial violence and the abuse of women in
The march ended at Phillips
Square where hundreds of
the names of the missing women were placed in the snow of the square.
Forty-six of the missing women are from Quebec.
In the News
Failed Coup Attempt Exposed
Venezuelan Youth Day
celebrated, February 12, 2015.
The Venezuelan government recently brought to light
another failed coup
attempt by opposition forces. This attempt to overthrow the
elected government of Venezuela is part of the U.S. imperialists' plan
impose themselves on the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.
plot is said to involve members of the U.S. and UK diplomatic corps in
Venezuela, while Canada has also been implicated in the plot through
alleged involvement of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
On February 12, the one-year anniversary of the campaign
violence, the Venezuelan government revealed that it had thwarted a
coup attempt being planned for that day. TeleSUR reported, "The
planned to overthrow the elected government of President Nicolás
with a campaign of violence, including mass killings and tactical
strategic sites across Caracas. When the dust cleared, the coup
expected key government officials, including Maduro, to be dead with
country then firmly in their control." The plan included bombings of
Miraflores Palace and the TeleSUR
offices in Caracas, as well as
assassinations of President Nicolás Maduro and others.
Speaking in a February 14
televised address, President Maduro stated that
both civilians and members of the military had been detained. Those
were being paid in U.S. dollars, and one of the suspects had been
visa to enter the United States should the plot fail, Maduro said. He
to explain that the coup plotters had a transitional government and
lined up. Maduro added that a video of masked military officials
against the government had been recorded, which was set to be
from Venezuela or Miami after the planned assassination was carried out.
that the four-stage plan involved
creating an economic
war on Venezuela, creating an international debate around a supposed
humanitarian crisis, a political coup involving officials who would
turn on the
government, and finally a military coup that would lead to the
the transitional program. Just the day before the coup was to take
opposition leaders Leopoldo López, María Corina Machado
Ledezma released a "transition plan" that called for the privatization
country's oil industry, deregulation of the economy and accords with
international financial institutions, including the International
Maduro stated that the plot was uncovered after military
officials who had
been approached to participate reported the schemes to authorities.
called on the Venezuelan people to be on alert and prepared to maintain
in the country in the face of continued attempts by sectors of the
who seek to overthrow the democratically-elected government.
Regarding the disposition of the military, Venezuelan
Minister of Defense
Vladimir Padrino López held a news conference on February 13
pledged loyalty to the democratically-elected government of President
"The Armed Forces reiterates its support and loyalty to President
Maduro Moros and reaffirms its commitment to the construction and the
of the people, along with the plans for the country in the construction
socialism," said Padrino López . "In light of this situation,
the Armed Forces
continue to be united and reject all acts of barbarism ... a country is
on violence." He pointed out that the coup was thwarted precisely
the loyalty and integrity of the country's officials and that those
the coup attempt are part of a very small group and do not represent
Armed Forces of Venezuela.
On February 13, the president of Venezuela's national
Cabello, provided further information about the plot. He said that a
of the RCMP, and a member of the U.K. diplomatic core in Venezuela, had
been involved in plans, including seeking information on airport
case of emergencies. Cabello also pointed out how U.S. President Barack
Obama stated, "American leadership at times entails twisting the arms
which don't do what we need them to do." This is in keeping with the
2015 National Security Strategy (NSS). Amongst other things, the NSS
presents the U.S. as the main defender of democracy and advocates the
and use of force as integral to U.S. diplomacy in which it singles out
Venezuela, stating, "[W]e stand by the citizens of countries where the
exercise of democracy is at risk, such as Venezuela."
Venezuelan authorities have identified individuals from
the U.S. embassy
in Caracas who provided visas to the individuals involved in the
paper work to grant political asylum to those involved in the coup was
underway in the event that the plot failed.
TML Weekly vigorously condemns the U.S.-backed
plans against Venezuela and the attempt of all those involved in this
carry out regime change to undermine the sovereignty of the Venezuelan
people. As in past coup attempts, the silence of the Canadian
very telling. While the Harper government claims it opposes terrorism,
totally unprincipled, as it has not said a word about the recent events
More Evidence of Canada's Dirty Work
Rally in Ottawa, February
20, 2014 opposes Canadian and U.S. interference in Venezuela.
On February 13, when reporting on television about the
against the Bolivarian government of Venezuela, President of the
Assembly Diosdado Cabello referred to a Canadian link. President
Maduro has alleged that the failed coup was organized and financed by
United States government.
Cabello said an RCMP member attached to the Canadian
embassy who he
identified as Nancy Birbek, along with another embassy official had
the week been investigating the airport facilities in Valencia and
about the airport's capacity to handle "special cases." He said the
operating outside her area of responsibility and wondered aloud what
contingencies the embassy might have been preparing for.
On February 15, three terse tweets appeared on the
Twitter account dismissing Cabello's allegations as false and saying
embassy had informed the government about "the trip to Valencia"
in a letter, claiming it involved routine emergency planning to assist
citizens as they do in any country.
Whether or not Canadian
embassy officials were in on the planned coup
attempt, it is not the first time suspicions have been raised about the
Canada is playing in the country, especially since the arrival of
Ben Rowswell in March of last year. Less than two weeks before the coup
plot was exposed, Cabello asked on his weekly television program Con
Dando what the Canadian embassy and its ambassador were
doing meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs. His comments were in
reference to the ambassador co-hosting an award presentation at his
at the end of January at which a number of individuals and
recognized for their work "defending human rights" in the country. In
cases the NGOs that were honoured for their work on human rights cast
Bolivarian government in a negative light.
The winner of the embassy's annual "Human Rights Prize"
gets a trip to
meet with "human rights authorities and organizations" in Canada and a
of Venezuelan cities to share experiences. Perhaps more telling than
is that among the invited guests at the embassy's human rights event
wife of Leopoldo López, right wing opposition figure currently
trial for his role in organizing the violent anti-government street
barricades last year aimed at forcing President Maduro out of office by
unconstitutional means. The plan failed miserably, but it led to the
43 people with hundreds more injured and widespread property damage.
And there is more. In July, respected journalist and
of Venezuela, Jose Vicente Rangel declared on his weekly television
that the Canadian embassy seemed to be engaging in "strange" activities
against the constitutional government of Venezuela. Rangel cited
members of a well-known intelligence agency that specializes in
destabilization activities being brought into Venezuela through
diplomatic mission. As might be expected, the embassy denied there was
truth to these allegations.
Canada's representatives were not alone among embassies
in Venezuela planning for upheaval. The German embassy was reported to
have alarmed political observers in the country when it issued an
official declaration advising residents to "take precautions," reported
Venezuelanalysis. The statement advised Germans in
the country to have "lots of provisions" including for two weeks'
worth of food, drinking water, medication, etc. The declaration was
issued on February 5, putting the two-week time frame in the same
period as the date for the foiled coup. Like its Canadian
counterpart, the German embassy denied there was anything unusual about
the announcement. "We always advise having food and water at home,"
said the embassy's Cultural and Political Secretary.
Although he has been on his assignment for almost a
remains Canada's Ambassador-designate to Venezuela as he has not been
accredited by the Bolivarian government.
Who is Ben Rowswell?
Ben Rowswell was officially appointed ambassador to
Venezuela on Feb.
28, 2014 not long after large opposition-led protests began across the
and reports of protesters killed by Venezuelan authorities began being
circulated. His previous assignment had been Director of the Gulf
Regional Trade Division of Foreign Affairs. He speaks Farsi, Arabic,
French and English.
Described by the Toronto Star in 2010 as "a
service star" he has also been referred to as Canada's "combat
because of his work in war/conflict zones.
Recent Projects from His LinkedIn Profile:
Cloud to Street
March 2011 — August 2011
A research project to connect democracy activists in
Tahrir Square with
technology support from Silicon Valley through the development of
to meet activists needs at a series of hackathons, resulting most
in an Arabic-language crowdsourcing platform to generate consensus over
human rights protections in Egypt's new constitution
Direct Diplomacy initiative
December 2012 — Present
A campaign to use a combination of online and
communications to engage the citizens of foreign countries directly in
pursue [sic] of Canada's
foreign policy objectives.
Other Biographical Information from Various Sources:
International Relations from Georgetown University's
School of Foreign
Service (1993) and at Oxford (2000)
1993 - United Nations Contractor in Somalia during the
1995-98 - Worked in the Political Section at the
Canadian embassy in
2003-2005 - Canadian Chargé d'Affaires in Iraq
2003-04 - Senior Associate of the Center for Strategic
Studies, Washington, DC working on issues of homeland security in
- Worked for the National Democratic Institute in Iraq
2008-09 - Deputy Head of Canadian Mission in Kabul
2010 - Headed a Provincial Reconstruction Team of more
American and Canadian diplomats, aid workers, civilian police and
correctional officers working in partnership with Canadian Forces in
2010-11 - Visiting scholar at Stanford University Centre
Development and the Rule of Law
- Founder of Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and
- Advisor to the Privy Council
- Worked at Permanent Mission at the UN
- Inaugural recipient of the Palmer Prize for Diplomats
awarded by the
Community of Democracies, a US democracy promotion organization that
receives funding from Freedom House, George Soros' Open Society
and the National Endowment for Democracy, among others. Prize is named
after US ambassador Mark Palmer who worked in Hungary during the
country's "transition to democracy."
Embassy Magazine wrote in March 2014 of Ben
posting to Venezuela:
"Mr. Rowswell is one of Canada's leading practitioners
diplomacy: he oversaw a pilot project last year on direct diplomacy for
Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development where he helped to
establish a communications platform for Iranians and Iranian emigrants
communicate with each other, and occasionally the Canadian government,
beyond the reach of that country's censors.
"He said in a phone interview he began promoting the use
diplomacy by the government after a break-year studying at Stanford
University from 2010 to 2011, during which he researched the way in
activists used digital media to enact political change.
"His digital media skills will help him collect crucial
information on the
political situation in Venezuela without relying on the traditional
"'We want to know what's going on in Venezuela, and
because so much
of the political debate and the political discussion, and frankly just
news about Venezuela, is happening on social media, we need to be on
media as well,' he said."
"'It is important to have very good, up to date and
reporting' in a country in crisis, said John Graham, a former
Venezuela, in a phone interview. Chilled bilateral relations mean it
unlikely [Mr. Rowswell will] be able to exert any influence on the
through traditional diplomacy, Mr. Graham said.
"Mr. Rowswell's experience engaging the Iranian
population through direct
diplomacy could be a sign of the government's strategy for that
David Carment, a fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs
and professor of International affairs at Carleton University, in a
"The Harper government is very deliberate and specific
about where it
picks its entry points," he said, noting the close ties between
Iranian governments under former leaders Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud
"An Iranian delegation travelled to Venezuela and Cuba
this week and
voiced support for the government of Nicolás Maduro, Iranian
Tasnim and Press TV reported.
"Canada's federal government believes it has an interest
the Venezuelan government, Mr. Carment said, which it sees as
"'What I'm suggesting is that, why Venezuela would be a
choice for this
government, as opposed to a myriad of others countries you could
because of that connection [with Iran],' Mr. Carment said.
"Ana Carolina Rodriguez, the head of mission at
Venezuela's embassy in
Ottawa, said in an interview it would be improper for either Mr.
herself to encourage the population of their host country to denounce
against the government.
"Mr. Rowswell said he has not been instructed to engage
in the sort of
direct diplomacy he practiced with the Iranian population, cutting the
government out of the loop, but to 'understand the full diversity of
perspectives' and engage with all political actors.
"Canada's government is increasing its use of digital
diplomacy across the
board, he said, and the two-way nature of communicating on digital
means it cannot stay silent on issues that call for it to voice an
"He will use digital media only to 'supplement' the more
of diplomacy, he said.
"He said he did not yet have a clear understanding of
between Venezuela and Iran, adding 'I'll have to just keep an eye
See also these items on Canada's Digital Diplomacy:
Daily, March 28, 2014 - No. 34.
- "Negotiations on
Iran's Nuclear Program and Canada's "Digital Diplomacy" Project, Louis
Lang, TML Weekly, January 17,
2015 - No. 3.
Canada Stirring Up Phoney Debate on Human Rights
Canada has contributed to the coup attempts by taking up
the role of
fomenting international debate around Venezuela's supposed humanitarian
crisis. This has been done through various official channels, including
parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights and the
undiplomatic and subversive activities of members of parliament.
MP, Liberal Irwin Cotler, was a prominent participant in a February 4
at McGill University called "Venezuela in Crisis: The Decline of
and the Repression of Human Rights."
The McGill event featured family members and political
Leopoldo López, founder and leader of the right-wing Popular
Will Party who
for inciting violence that took the lives of 43 people in 2014. After
coup d'état against the presidency of Hugo Chávez in 2002
López was also
involved in the kidnapping and detention of the interior minister.
On February 5 the same figures were brought in front of
the House of
Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights. These included
López, sister of Leopoldo López; Orlando Viera-Blanco,
U.S.-aligned former Member of the National Assembly María Corina
Machado; and Carlos Vecchio, coordinator of the Popular Will Party in
the absence its leader. Vecchio
Venezuela in 2014 facing an arrest warrant for charges similar to
Vecchio claimed at the subcommittee meeting that he had left the
Canada because he could speak freely here, neglecting to mention that
of Venezuela's media is in private hands and opposed to the government.
added that his party said he had to leave the country to play an
role" in the efforts to undermine Venezuela's elected government.
The committee did not invite any representatives of
Venezuela or any of
its other political parties or organizations to present alternative
evidence contradicting the litany of charges eagerly swallowed by
MPs. These MPs included Cotler, Conservative MP David Sweet, and NDP
MP Wayne Marston. Marston suggested that demonstrations in Canada are
not met with repression by the police. "Mr. Vecchio," he said, "in 1996
I led a demonstration in Canada, at the time it was the largest civil
demonstration, 100,000 people. And I didn't have to worry about the
police at all."
Sweet proposed that the Committee send a letter to the
Minister of Foreign
Affairs and the Prime Minister to "investigate the American approach
sanctions against the individuals in Venezuela, and see if that may be
something Canada can engage in, to send a strong signal that we're very
concerned about the human rights situation in Venezuela." The committee
agreed, with Cotler adding that he had already proposed such a thing at
February 4 McGill event.
Canadian Lawyer and Liberal MP Defends Advocate of
Liberal MP Irwin Cotler bills himself as an
human rights lawyer. One of the issues he is presently promoting
is the campaign to free reactionary Venezuelan opposition leader
Leopoldo López, who is in detention and being tried on charges
relating to his responsibility for inciting violent opposition
protests and property damage in Venezuela last year in which 43
people were killed and hundreds more injured.
In a press release featured on his website, Cotler calls
Canada to "join the United States, the United Nations, the
European Parliament, the Vatican, and other world leaders who
have called for the release of Venezuelan political prisoners, as
well as an end to domestic repression and the safeguarding of
democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Venezuela."
In remarks he made in Parliament, on February 18, Cotler
contradicts the evidence that opposition leader Leopoldo López,
who he refers to as a "prisoner of conscience," has a long
history of trying to bring about the forcible overthrow of Venezuela's
Bolivarian government, starting with the failed coup
against President Chavez in 2002. Cotler instead promotes the
spurious claims of the U.S. and reactionary opposition forces in
the country that President Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivarian
government are violators of human rights while the likes of
and other opposition forces are just "peaceful protesters."
Cotler said, "Mr. Speaker, one year ago today,
opposition leader Leopoldo López was arrested as part of a
crackdown on peaceful protests that left 43 dead, 3,000 detained,
and scores of political prisoners." The statement leaves the impression
that those killed died at the
hands of police security forces in a government "crackdown." In
fact about half of the casualties are said to have been
government supporters, state security personnel and ordinary
members of the public.
According to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, cited
in a TeleSUR article,
"Venezuelan Guarimbas: 11 Things the Media
Didn't Tell You": "The presence of the protest barricades appears
to be the most common cause of deaths: individuals shot while
attempting to clear the opposition street blockades, automobile
accidents caused by the presence of the barricades, and several
incidents attributed to the opposition stringing razor wire
across streets near the barricades."
Turning truth on its head is nothing new for Irwin
refers to every one of Israel's killing sprees in Gaza in recent
years as "self defence," holding the "Hamas terrorist war of
attrition against Israel" responsible for all the horrors that
Israel inflicted on Palestinians. He has a history of supporting
the use of force in other contexts as well. For example, last
fall he was the only MP to abstain -- and the only Liberal not to
side with his leader -- in opposing the motion to send Canadian
CF-18s into combat in Iraq, allegedly because the government
failed to adequately brief or consult with MPs in the Commons on
the scope, strategy and limits of the mission. He has advocated
air strikes against Syria and denounced the Harper government for
saying it would only bomb Syrian targets if it received
permission from the country's government. Cotler is a big
proponent of the imperialist "responsibility to protect" doctrine
that uses "human rights" as a pretext for violating targeted
countries' sovereignty and committing aggression against
So it is really no surprise that he has decided to
the affairs of Venezuela and turn truth on its head there too. On
December 4, Cotler was instrumental in including the name of
Leopoldo López as a "prisoner of conscience" recognized at an
all-party press conference in Parliament commemorating the first
anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela.
This followed the appearance of Lilian Tintori,
López's wife and spokesperson,
before the parliamentary foreign affairs subcommittee
on international human rights in November, complaining about the
"dictatorship" and "oppression" in Venezuela. The subcommittee
also passed a unanimous motion condemning "the arbitrary and illegal
detention and imprisonment of Mr. López and the violations of
fundamental freedoms and rights to a fair trial as guaranteed
under international law and the Venezuelan constitution."
Then on February 4, Cotler was one of the speakers at a
at the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism in
Montreal called "Venezuela in Crisis: The Decline of Democracy
and the Repression of Human Rights." The event, attended by
family members and associates of López spread disinformation
about Venezuela and the circumstances that led to López's
incarceration and the charges against him. Cotler invited McGill
University to adopt the case of Leopoldo López as a case study
for the Faculty of Law and asked the Canadian government to issue
a pronouncement rejecting his "arbitrary detention."
At the meeting, Carlos Vecchio, national coordinator of
López's Popular Will Party referred to Cotler who has joined
López's legal team as "Mandela's attorney."
One of Cotler's credentials as a defender of human
that he was allegedly counsel for Nelson Mandela in Canada. He
claims that following a trip to South Africa to promote the
freedom of U.S. spy and rabid Zionist, Natan Sharansky, he was
asked to do the same for Nelson Mandela by Mandela's lawyers.
In a December 7, 2013 item in the National Post, Cotler
writes, "when Mandelas' lawyers asked me to be his counsel in
Canada, and to advocate for him as I had been doing for
Sharansky, I was pleased to accept.
"Upon my return to Canada, I intensified my
advocacy, including participating in the public launch of a major
anti-apartheid initiative involving the Canadian Council of
Churches, the Canadian Labour Congress, the World Federalists of
Canada, and Amnesty International, among others."
reported that it had been informed on
February 5 by the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to
Venezuela, Pandit Thaninga Shope-Linney, that "Irwin Cotler was
not Nelson Mandela's lawyer and does not represent the Government
or the people of South Africa in any manner."
Extensive Support Against U.S. Sanctions
Uruguay, which holds the rotating presidency of the
Union of South
American Nations (UNASUR), will shortly convene the 12 foreign
of the block to support Venezuela due to U.S. threats of sanctions,
The call was requested prior to a recent meeting of
of Foreign Ministers and its Secretary General Ernesto Samper, in
At the meeting, the foreign ministers of Brazil, Mauro
Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño, received information from his
counterpart, Delcy Rodrguez, and Samper himself, who had recently
from meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
After the meeting, Patiño announced that the
Committee agreed to request
Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro, as President Pro Tempore of
UNASUR, to convene an early meeting on the issue, but said he could not
set a date.
It was also agreed to seek direct communication channels
governments of the United States and Venezuela to avoid the announced
unilateral U.S. sanctions against Caracas.
The Chancellor of Venezuela, Delcy Rodriguez, who later
José Mujica and Foreign Minister Almagro, stressed that during
the parties talked about the eventual impact that can have the U.S.
on the region.
She expressed the alarm and concern about statements by
U.S. officials that 'practically give green light to violent opposition
pursue their adventures.'
After the meeting with Mujica, Almagro informed that the
rejected the U.S. measures and said they 'do not constitute a valid
under international law and have never served to strengthen the
of the people'.
In related news, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples
of Our America
(ALBA) issued a special communiqué to oppose U.S. aggression
Bolivarian Revolution, which is posted below.
Special Communiqué of ALBA-TCP
The peoples and
governments of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our
America-Peoples Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) express once again their most
strongest rejection to the imposition of unilateral measures of the
government against the people and government of Venezuela.
The member countries of the ALBA-TCP recognize the
of the Venezuelan government to improve the diplomatic relations with
United States within the framework of mutual respect reflected in the
made by President Nicolás Maduro to the Union of South American
(UNASUR) and its Secretary General Ernesto Samper, so that it can be
promoted a process-oriented approach to facilitate a constructive
the government of the United States.
The implementation of the unilateral sanctions promoted
government of the United States against Venezuelan officials represents
affront to the democratic will of the Venezuelan peoples expressed in
countless electoral processes, and represented in the legitimacy of its
leadership and its institutional framework. Furthermore, this new
committed by the government of the United States contradicts the
of President Barack Obama, on the failure of unilateral measures of
economical, financial and political pressures which are characteristics
imperial history of the United States.
The member countries of the ALBA-TCP strongly reject
all kinds of
coercive measures against the Venezuelan Government by the United
government, whose clear purpose is to destroy the socio-political
transformation process of the Venezuelan society in accordance with its
sovereign and democratic principles. These new sanctions against the
Venezuelan Government and people, under the name of human rights, hide
real intentions of destabilizing the Bolivarian Government in order to
overthrow, or changing its political regime sovereignly chosen by its
The member countries of the ALBA-TCP recognize the
Constitution of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a modern instrument at
in terms of security and defense of human rights. Furthermore, the
aforementioned countries exhort the international community,
Latin American and Caribbean countries, to join in rejection of the
interventionist actions of the United States government, which violate
principles of International Law, the sovereignty of the countries and
determination of the peoples.
Finally, the member countries of ALBA-TCP express their
the great dignity and capacity of resistance of the Venezuelan people
Government and offer their best endeavors to promote a constructive
on equal terms between the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the
States of America.
February 10, 2015
Non-Aligned Movement Rejects U.S. Sanctions on
Movement (NAM), comprised of 120 countries, issued a statement
on February 6 rejecting
the latest U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials in the name of
human rights and democracy in Venezuela.
The following is the text of the communiqué:
"The Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Countries
categorically rejects the recent decision of the Government of the
States, from last February 2, 2015, to expand its unilateral coercive
against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, for the purpose of
its sovereignty, its political independence and the right to
in a clear violation of international law, including the principles and
of the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles
International Law concerning the Friendly Relations and the Cooperation
among States, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
"The Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Countries
expresses its solidarity and support to the people and Government of
Venezuela in opposition to these illegal actions, and urges the
the United States to desist from such illegal coercive measures, which
the spirit of dialogue and political understanding between the two
Montreal Meeting Expresses Support
On February 12 at the Simon Bolivar Cultural Centre in
Montreal, a presentation by the Venezuelan Ambassador to Canada was
very well received. The event marked the one year anniversary of the
U.S.-backed reactionary street violence ("guarimbas") that left 43
people dead and 878 injured.
Ambassador Wilmer Omar Barrientos Fernández spoke
about the plot
organized by the Venezuelan right with the help of the U.S. State
to create a climate of anarchy and violence, and also the need to seek
and justice for the victims. He recounted the recent history of
back to when Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1999 with a
implement political, economic and social reforms to benefit the
majority of the
people. That was when the reactionaries began to plot the overthrow of
government, attempting a coup in 2002. They continue in their efforts
destabilize the country, he pointed out, recounting their refusal to
the results of the last presidential election and the economic warfare
carried out against the country through hoarding of goods to cause
hyperinflation. The Ambassador thoroughly documented these activities
many images and videos of the terrorist activity.
Ambassador Barrientos ended the meeting by calling on
oppose the disinformation about Venezuela and to join in the March 5
International Solidarity with the people of Venezuela and their
February 27, 2013,
Venezuelans mark 24th anniversary of the "Caracazo," mass rebellion,
referred to as "the day the people awoke" -- the beginning of the
As many as 3,000 people were massacred during the rebellion.
February 27th: Massacre of the People (1989)
"Lest We Forget"
(Map), University of
Charles Street West, 2nd Floor, Toronto, ON, M5S 1K7
access from Museum
Consulate General of the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela in Toronto
invites you to attend the above Forum at
which the Venezuelan
Ambassador in Canada,
Wilmer Omar Barrientos Fernández will be present.
participating in the Forum will be Professors Victor Rivas and
the University of
Toronto Latin American Studies Program.
Barack Obama Has Installed a Dictatorship in Haiti
Since January 12, 2015, Michel Martelly has ruled Haiti
by decree with
U.S.-UN guns backing up his dictatorship. The UN Security council, led
Samantha Powers, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations,
recently visited Haiti to legitimize and reinforce their commitment to
over the objections of the people of Haiti.
Twenty-nine years ago, on February 7, 1986 Haiti ousted
U.S.-supported Duvalier dictatorship and swore never to allow
Haiti ever again.
Today, February 7, 2015, tens of thousands of
demonstrators in Haiti
swarmed the streets to mark this anniversary and commitment, and again
boycott and demand an end, not to another U.S.-supported Haiti
but worse, a U.S.-installed dictatorship and an 11-year military
For 11 years, outraged Haitians against dictatorship and
in various waves, taken to the streets to demand an end to the U.S.-UN
occupation behind NGOs' false benevolence. Since the 2010 doctored
elections, Haitian demonstrators have demanded the removal of the
Martelly government. As carnival time approaches, this February month
slated to see more anti-dictatorship and anti-corruption
recently, as world gas prices go down, with Haitian prices remaining
the Haitian elites continue to block natural desires for sovereignty
participatory Haitian democracy, the demonstrators are also boycotting
businesses, agitating against the high cost of living, low wages and
against U.S. occupation,
high cost of living,
February 7, 2015.
Each time Haitians take to the streets, they know that
U.S.-trained militarized police will teargas, shoot and even kill
demonstrators, as they've done before. According to eyewitnesses and
opened fire on protest leaders who went to the
of two journalists. [CIMO stands for the Corps d'Intervention et de
Maintien de l'Ordre, i.e., the riot police -- TML Ed. Note.] Yet,
fight on and will demonstrate again, with no weapons except their
songs, slogans, the divine within and the certainty that their call to
Ancestral powers and universal force for goodness shall not go answered.
The corporate media, human rights industry, charitable
and other Ndòki forces for empire remain silent about the
occupation of Haiti. The colonial narrative and racism at play is that
Internationals are "helping" Haiti, have no partisan interests. They're
at using this false credibility to get funding, legitimize themselves
and the foul
acts and lies of the U.S. Ambassadors to Haiti, the U.S. State
Organization of American States and the UN.
The Internationals reinforce each other. The U.S. State
funds and uses the human rights industry, like the UN, Amnesty
Paul Farmer's Partners in Health and others in the crisis caravan, to
credibility to the neocolonial tyranny in Haiti. For instance, the
are demanding the removal of the Martelly dictatorship, the U.S.
a stop to white supremacy, arbitrary arrests, corruption and an
what former president Bill Clinton and his crew did with the $10
collected in earthquake monies. When former Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton threatened dissenting Haiti officials with lost of visas if
Martelly was not allowed into the second round during the "elections"
he didn't have the votes), the human rights industry said nothing. For
the international human rights industry and corporate media have
fairly mute about the outsourced U.S. occupation, the U.S. false aid
money laundering, the widespread military rapes of Haitian children,
shooting live ammunition at peaceful demonstrators and killing unarmed
Haitians. When they touch on these subjects, it's to obfuscate the real
minimize the foreign savagery as if these are not criminal acts in need
and independent scrutiny. Mostly, when the international human rights
mentions Haiti, it's to promote the occupation and the U.S.-installed
But Amnesty International recently sent an open letter,
not to ask the UN
to stop shooting at unarmed demonstrators, nor to ask Bill Clinton why
donation monies meant for homeless people were used to build luxury
No. Amnesty International, sent a letter to Martelly's newly appointed
minister. The pretext is that Amnesty International wants to influence
Prime Minister and non-governmental organizations to provide housing
homeless Haiti quake victims and to respect the demonstrators' right to
peacefully protest. The sudden concern is suspect to say the least
protestors have been in the streets for years and by themselves pushed
political prisoners released.
Martelly has ruled by decree informally for three years
and besides the
quake victims being abandoned, evicted and abused, has steadily taken
peasant lands for the corporatocracy. Where's Amnesty International's
that Martelly stop making more homeless Haitians by taking their lands,
offshore islands through presidential decree to give to luxury resort
developers? The real effect of the strategically timed "Open Letter"
immediately put the weight of Amnesty International behind the de
facto Prime Minister, publicly signalling to any squeamish cohort
Martelly, formally ruling by decree and his unilateral appointment of a
Minister, even after Parliament was dissolved, is legitimate
people on the streets want these usurpers gone. The Internationals are
to them, recognizing their authority, providing firepower to them and
them in the halls of power with UN Security Council visits. (See, Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch Paid to Destabilize Eritrea; Bombshell proof! Hillary paid Amnesty International to
prepare coup d’état: U.S. taxpayers looted to destroy
sovereign nations; Leaked Memo: Amnesty International paid to destabilize Eritrea, The Hypocrisy of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in
After 300 years of direct European enslavement in Haiti
and 200 years of
unremitting U.S.-Euro tyranny, containment-in-poverty, abuse and
Haiti is without hate and still rated the least violent nation in the
Caribbean. It demonstrates peacefully. It suffers interminably the
and atrocities of power elites with the faces of Samantha Power, Barack
Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Paul Farmer,
International and Hollywood celebrities.
In myriad ways, Haitian lives are swapped around and
cashed in, while the
colonial bullies circulate in polite company as if nothing will unveil
if their impunity, degeneracy and gross corruption is the newest,
record or song.
Protest against U.S.
cost of living - Feb 7, 2015
Haitian demonstrators call forth their Ancestors.
Starting the protest march
with traditional prayers that reMEMBERed the lives and generations lost
before the February 7, 1986 end to the Duvalier dictatorship and to
an end to the new Martelly dictatorship. The photos here show their
sounds - vèvè - calling forth Ogou and Dantò — the
energies, vibration or
irreducible essence for raw power, a will of steel, the warrior mother,
father, defenders of justice, healing, love and creation.
Just like their foreparents, Haitians are deeply
committed to liberty and
justice. Death is not the worst fate. To live as a slave zombie is.
Dantò, manman mwen. Ogou, papa mwen: Nou se Ginen
depi Lè Marasa,
Lè Mò e Lè Mistè. San yo se san nou. Nou
fè yon sèl kò. Inyon nou ak Zansèt
e TiMoun yo fè fòs nou. Pouvwa Zansèt yo se pouvwa
nou. Papa Legba,
souple, ouvrè pòt la pou yo. Ohh, mwen wè yo monte
anwo, soti Anba Dlo,
monte sou tèt dlo a, rale soti lan venn nou, kè nou.
Lasous nou rive. Nou wè
yo- soti lan lamè, soti lan gròt Ayiti yo, twou
wòch yo, anba tè sakre Ayiti
Toma a, lan syèl la Zansèt yo e Timoun yo vini. Nou la.
Toupatou. San yo se
san nou. Pouvra yo se pouvra nou. Se fòs Bon Dye Zansèt
nou yo kap kondwi
bra nou pou nou ranpòte la viktwa. - Ezili Dantò, Free
February 7, 2015
"Grenadye alaso sa ki mouri n'ap vanje yo!" - Indigenous
Army of Ayiti,
Peace Talks Advance as Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia Aims
to Become Political Movement
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on
reiterated that it is determined to end the armed conflict and become a
movement. This affirmation was made by FARC peace delegation member
Jesus Santrich as part of a series of proposals the FARC is bringing to
latest round of negotiations.
Peace talks between the FARC and the government of
earlier this month, with the two parties discussing the rights of
victims of the
conflict. This is the fourth of five agenda items being discussed, with
having already reached an agreement on three other items. Talks have
ongoing since 2012.
The FARC is proposing a series of measures it deems
guarantee an end to violent armed conflict. Among them are a number of
measures to be acted upon immediately by the Colombian government, such
as the implementation of a bilateral ceasefire, and the suspension of
and energy projects that run the risk of forced displacement of people.
Many of the proposals made by the FARC in the latest
negotiation address the factors that contribute to the existence of
conflict in the country. The FARC is calling for the demilitarization
Colombian society and a deep reform of the armed forces of the country.
Specifically they are calling for a reduction in the budget of the
-- to two per cent of GDP -- and an end to the doctrine of "National
which the FARC argues turned the armed forces into a counterinsurgency
body, instead of one that defends national sovereignty.
For its part, the FARC said that in order to avoid
future violence, it would
continue to work to end the conflict and become a political movement,
participate in the building of truth and historical memory for the
share its experiences in building direct, community democracy.
The FARC also called for measures that would guarantee
the right to
political mobilization and social protest. In a previous attempt to end
armed conflict, thousands of activists from the Patriotic Union, a
affiliated with the FARC, were assassinated by paramilitary groups.
In order to avoid a repeat of those political killings,
the FARC called for
the creation of a "Permanent Constitutional Commission" that would be
with defending human rights and called for the protection of social
These measures would be in addition to those agreed upon
by the parties
as they related to Political Participation, the second agenda item. As
that agreement, the Colombian government agreed to create an
Security System for the Exercise of Politics" that would serve to
FARC Extends Unilateral Ceasefire
On February 9, the
FARC announced its decision to indefinitely extend its unilateral
Representatives of Colombia's mass organization, the Broad Front for
presented to the peace negotiations between the Colombian government
the FARC their report on the unilateral ceasefire implemented by the
since mid-December 2014.
After meeting with the FARC peace delegation in Cuba,
advocate and prominent leader of the Broad Front for Peace, Piedad
made the announcement regarding the ceasefire. The decision was also
confirmed in a statement read to the press by FARC rebel Tanja
Cordoba pointed out that multiple reports and sources confirm that the
is respecting the ceasefire. She called on the Colombian government to
accordingly and reciprocate the truce so as to prevent further
The Broad Front for Peace is now awaiting a meeting with
President Juan Manuel Santos to directly inform him of the topics
during its meeting with the FARC and on the positive impact of the
Regarding the positive results of the ceasefire, the
President of Colombia's
agricultural Union FENSUAGRO, Eberto Diaz, said there is no doubt that
ceasefire has brought relief to the peasants. "Effectively the conflict
lowered in intensity, and this has allowed the peasants to move around
territories; it has allowed the peasants to gather within their
general we have seen a positive impact," Diaz noted.
Diaz added that the rural areas have been strongly
affected by the armed
conflict, and due to the state's long-standing abandonment of
has had an impact on Colombia's food sovereignty. "Today we are
10 million tons of food products that could be easily produced by our
if they had the support from the state, and if the war was over," he
Meanwhile, on February 10, the Commission of Historical
submitted a 700-page report to the proceedings in Havana. The report is
at reflecting the complexity of actors and the dynamics that have
played a role
in Colombia's conflict, such as the state's abandonment of its
agriculture. The Director of the Center for Memory, Peace &
stated that this report "will allow Colombian society to understand
that this has
not been a conflict simply between armed actors, between the guerrilla
army, but that there have also been power, economic and institutional
determinants of the conflict."
"In a moment when Colombian society is expecting to
finally step into a
post-conflict period, this latest report will be an important input for
understanding the complexity of Colombia's conflict beyond the armed
violence," writes TeleSUR.
Terror Conviction Overturned for Former
Former prisoner from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay torture
concentration camp David Hicks won a
challenge to his
terrorism conviction in a U.S. military court on February 18. The U.S.
of Military Commission Review struck down Hicks' 2007 conviction on the
grounds that the activities for which he was charged and convicted do
constitute a war crime and thus the Australian national should not
tried in a military court. "He wasn't doing anything that was a breach
Australian, international or U.S. law. That is what this decision today
confirms," said Hicks' lawyer Stephen Kenny. The Pentagon has said it
not appeal the decision.
Hicks, an Australian
captured by the Northern Alliance in
2001. A Northern Alliance-aligned warlord sold Hicks to U.S. forces for
U.S.$5,000, claiming the Australian had been fighting alongside
against U.S. forces. He was among the first prisoners sent to the U.S.
camp at Guantanamo Bay in January 2002 and was held there until 2007.
In a 2004 affidavit, Hicks alleged he was sexually
deprived of sleep, beaten, kept in solitary confinement almost 24 hours
and administered unidentified medication. He also stated he saw other
detainees attacked by dogs.
In May 2007, he pleaded guilty to providing material
support for terrorism
in a U.S. military court. He has long maintained the plea was made
duress, after enduring years of torture and mistreatment at the hands
forces, and so that he could be returned to Australia. After pleading
Hicks was transferred to Adelaide's Yatala Prison to serve the rest of
seven-year sentence. After nine months, Australian authorities released
under a control order, and he now lives in Sydney.
Following the verdict, Hicks remarked, "I'm disappointed
that even though
the American and Australian authorities were aware of my innocence from
one, I still have to go through years of torture that ruined my life
reason, for political purposes." He is now seeking compensation from
Australian government for its refusal to do its duty and to come to his
"The Australian government was aware of the conditions I was being held
at the time. They should at least pay my medical expenses. That is not
to ask for, I don't think," Hicks said in a news conference in Sydney
February 19. He is asking the government to pay his medical bills for
back, knee and elbow injuries resulting from his torture and other
mistreatment. "Being kept in freezing conditions, small rooms for
being able to move or exercise ... the body deteriorates over
years even without the added torture, such as stress positions, being
etc.," he said. "It is becoming an expensive exercise to fix myself
torture," he added.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott denied
government has any responsibility to protect its citizens. He said the
government would not extend any apology, and effectively stated that
crimes and violation of rights committed at Guantanamo are warranted in
name of security. "I'm not in the business of apologizing for the
Australian governments take to protect our country. Not now, not ever."
David Hicks and the Death of a Legal System
In the annals of obscene legal history, that of David
terrorism conviction was just quashed by the United States Court of
Commission Review, must rank highly. It is also
levels: what it says about his treatment by the U.S. legal system; and
reveals about the attitudes of the Australian government.
Australians tend to demonise or sanctify their legal
villains, casting a
social net around them that either protects, or asphyxiates them. If
one is an
Irish scribbling horse thief with murderous tendencies and eccentric
dress sense, then one is bound to get a spot in the hero's pantheon.
collecting, education promoting judge who sentenced him to death
opposite treatment: snubbed by the juggernaut of historical folklore.
Hicks, from the start, was not quite that horse thief,
Ned Kelly. But he did
engage in the mischief that would earn him demerit points after
2001. He travelled to Pakistan. He spent time at al Qaeda training
Afghanistan. He drank of that radicalisation soup that has gotten
Australasia and the United States worried.
In the scheme of grand power politics, he found himself
involved with an
organisation that did not always have the official designation of
after all, elements of al Qaeda, and their hosts, the Taliban, had been
recipients of U.S. funding during and in the aftermath of the Cold War.
Taliban's opponents, the Northern Alliance, captured Hicks, and
him to the U.S. in late 2001.
In confinement within the Guantánamo camp system,
subject to around the
clock artificial light, inedible food, forced drugging, beatings and a
other indignities, Hicks received the brunt of juridical inventiveness.
Military Commissions, designed to specifically target non-U.S.
born. Being neither courts-martial nor civilian courts, they amputated
process and merged the role of jury and judge. The rule on hearsay was
thrown out. The commissions restricted the accused's right to hear all
evidence. Appeals to any other court, foreign or U.S., would be cut.
death penalty might well be applied.
In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court in Hamdan v Rumsfeld
that the Bush administration did not have the power to create such
commissions without Congressional authorisation, a feature that ran
such instruments as the Geneva Conventions. Not to be
Australian Prime Minister, John Howard kept insisting that, "I do not
[Hicks] to come back to Australia without first facing trial in the
States." Let the Americans do it, "because if he comes back to
can't be tried." Hicks, in other words, was already guilty in the minds
Australia's top officials. "Of what?" posed his military defense lawyer
Mori. "Howard didn't know. How should he be tried? Howard did not
Hicks became the first, and most dubious scalp, of the
commission system. Much of the account of his defence is discussed by
a freshly recruited defence lawyer who was rapidly blooded in the
legal labyrinth being constructed around his client. His account,
discussed in In the Company of Cowards (2014) reflects, not
merely on Hicks
defence, but the atrophying of a legal system.
Two vital issues came up in Hicks's attempt to seek his
successful appeal. The first central legal disfigurement here lay in
machinations that placed Hicks on the road to conceding guilt for a
sentence. In accepting this "Alford plea," the hope was to insulate the
treatment of his plight, and by implication those in similar cases,
On March 30, 2007, Hicks pleaded guilty to the dubious
providing material support "from in or about December 2000 through in
about December 2001, to an international terrorist organisation engaged
hostilities against the United States, namely al Qaeda, which the
to be such an organization that engaged, or engages in terrorism". The
inventive, and retrospective charges, had been brought in February
the attempted murder charge subsequently dropped.
He was then sentenced to confinement for seven years,
with the question
on what would count to time already served. (The latter point is
prosecutors were reluctant to budge on the issue, but conceded to the
of nine months.) On May 20, 2007, Hicks returned to Australia, serving
at Adelaide's Yatala prison, and was out by December.
What was significant in this case was that Hicks, his
defense counsel and
the convening authority had signed a pre-trial agreement indicating
appellant had offered to plead guilty to the first charge provided he
"voluntarily and expressly waive all rights to appeal or collaterally
conviction, sentence, or any other matter relating to this prosecution
such a right to appeal or collateral attack arises under the Military
2006, or any other provision of the United States or
Then comes a good deal of legal stumbling. The review
accepting it had jurisdiction over the appeal, attacked the verdict in
specific way. The first waiver was deemed to have been made knowingly,
intelligently and voluntarily. Hicks's pre-trial agreement was deemed
favourable. He was granted concessions. But failure to resubmit "his
waiver within 10 days after the convening authority provide notice of
invalidated his appellate waiver."
"There is insufficient indication that the appellant
reiterated his desire to
not appeal within 10 days." In other words, Hicks had not given
grounds to show that he had waived his right of appeal. "Thus we hold
waiver is invalid and unenforceable." The result: "The findings of
set aside and dismissed and the appellant's sentence is vacated."
The second point noted by the review commission, citing
the Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit case of Al Bahlul
(2014) was that "it was a plain ex post facto violation"
try a person for the offense of providing material support to terrorism
fact. It was a "prejudicial error" that required a vacation of the
While Al Bahlul's plea was different from Hicks, "those differences do
dictate a different result." Hicks, in other words, had been bludgeoned
unlawful retrospective punishment.
In a most conspicuous way, the treatment offered to
Hicks did not merely
violate every sacred canon of presumed innocence, it suggested a new
order, one stacked with ghastly, Kafka-like qualifications. In the
purgatory of Guantánamo, Hicks could suffer Washington's own
version of a
disappearance, with connivance from a subservient Canberra.
Australia's political authorities continue that line,
trumpeting a view that
validates outsourcing torture, detention and confinement of its own
(They can't even be patriotically indecent enough to inflict cruelties
own people.) Showing a continuing tendency to ignore evidence placed
him, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was resolute about the
sentence. "David Hicks was up to no good and I'm not in the business of
apologising for the actions the Australian government takes to protect
country." (The statement would better read "inaction" in the name of
Others have preferred to ignore the procedure as a
trifle. Commercial radio
stations such as Sydney's 2UE suggested that the quashing of terrorism
convictions did not imply he was a "saint." "He may
but not absolved of the guilt he did [sic]." Guilt has many
and such arguments fittingly ignore the one critical issue in all of
this: that of
the law. In the realms of such debate, a sober middle ground is nigh
The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, proved surprisingly
qualified in his
statements. "There is no doubt on one hand David Hicks was probably
to get caught up in that Afghanistan conflict, but clearly there has
injustice done to him." (The Daily Telegraph, Feb. 19)
The troubling feature of the findings by the review
commission is that, at
its heart, little is made of the plea bargain system itself. Nor is the
military commission process examined in its crude corrosion of judicial
protections. The conviction was quashed because it violated a
requirement, and a judicial requirement. Invalidating a badly
waiver is one thing; invalidating the entire process of how he was
quite another. We can at least take heart from the fact that the judges
aware of ex-post facto nastiness.
For that reason, the fate of Hicks remains the greatest
fiendish legal inventiveness, the sort of cleverness that threw the law
in favour of gossip, arbitrariness and political judgment. It is one
legal system has, and continues, to pay dearly for. The Australian
the other hand, can always rely on his or her own government to
liberties at the drop of the judicial hat, an anaemic form of
patriotism if ever
there was one. Washington, right or wrong, will have its day.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at
College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email:
2. See: http://www.supremecourt.gov
here for video
Guantanamo Prisoners Killed by CIA Made to
Look Like Suicides
Fourteenth annual action in
Washington, DC to demand the closure of the U.S. torture
Guatanamo Bay, January 11, 2015.
Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman, a former U.S. Marine
and guard at
the U.S. Guantanamo Bay torture camp, recently revealed that three
"problematic" detainees were killed at a CIA black site in Guantanamo
their deaths covered up as a triple suicide. The official version of
"impossible," he told Vice News.
The three men were Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, 37, from
Shaman Al-Utaybi, 30, from Saudi Arabia, and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani,
also from Saudi Arabia. None of them had been charged with any crime.
Hickman, who was on duty at the time, explained that the
would have had to have committed suicide at exactly the same time in a
cellblock where guards check on detainees every four minutes.
"They would have had to all three tie their hands and
feet together, shove
rags down their throats, put a mask over their face, made a noose, hung
from the ceiling on the side of the cellblock, jumped into the noose
themselves simultaneously," he said.
Hickman added that an inspection of the detainees' cells
just a few hours
before they supposedly killed themselves revealed nothing that they
have used to kill themselves such as nooses, rags, or shoelaces.
On June 9, 2006, Hickman was on guard duty at Camp Delta
when he saw
a paddy wagon arrive at the high security Alpha Block three times, each
picking up a prisoner and taking them out of the camp on a road which
led to two places -- the beach or a CIA holding centre. Between 11:00
11:30 pm, the paddy wagon came back to Camp Delta but instead of going
Camp I, it went straight to the medical clinic. "About 10 minutes
later, all the
lights come on, like a stadium, and sirens are going off -- it's
chaos," he said.
All three detainees were dead.
Hickman believes the authorities at Guantanamo wanted to
get rid of
three men because they were regular hunger strikers who incited other
detainees to do the same. He explained that it was camp policy "that if
detainee is hunger-striking, he cannot be interrogated. In 2006, they
doing roughly 200 interrogations a week, so any massive hunger-strike
[...] cripple the intelligence value. I believe the number-one mission
in JTF-GTMO [Joint Task Force Guantanamo] at the time was: stop the
strikes at all costs." After the deaths, there were no hunger strikes
for a long
time, he added.
Washington, DC, January
Just after the supposed triple suicide, Rear Admiral
Harry Harris attacked
the three detainees for daring to take their own lives. "They are
are creative. They are committed. They have no regard for life, either
their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of
asymmetrical warfare waged against us," Democracy Now quoted
him as saying.
Hickman first approached the U.S. Department of Justice
in 2009. His
claims and those of others at the camp were reported in Harper's
magazine in 2010, but were denied by camp authorities.
A recent Senate report which the CIA tried to repress
found that the CIA
regularly used torture, violence, and degrading treatment in its
techniques. The report also claims those tactics rarely produced any
In related news, Republican senators recently proposed
that a moratorium
be placed on the release of all medium- and high-risk detainees,
pose a danger to the U.S. and its allies, and that any transfers to
should be barred for two years.
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