October 20, 2018 - No. 36

Commemorations of End of World War I

The Need to Make
Commemorations Significant

On the Centenary of End of World War I
- Enver Villamizar -

World War I Remembrance Initiatives

Appeal to Wear the White Poppy in Memory of All Victims of War
Never Again -- Theme of Windsor Commemorations

48th Anniversary of Proclamation of War Measures Act
Danger of War Measures to Violate Rights Remains
- Fernand Deschamps -

Indigenous Peoples Affirm Hereditary Rights
Supreme Court's Decision on Mikisew Nation's Appeal
Points to Need for Constitutional Renewal

- Peggy Morton -
For Your Information
What the Justices Had to Say
Mikisew Cree First Nation

Heiltsuk Nation Sues Government, Kirby Corporation
on Second Anniversary of Oil Spill

Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) Nation
Affirms Its Right to Be

For Your Information
Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek Aaki Declaration

New Quebec Government Steps Up Anti-Social Offensive
When the Negation of Rights Is Presented as Their Defence
- Pauline Easton -
The Premier's Unfounded Arguments
- Pierre Chénier -
On the Question of Religious Values and Symbols

Ontarians Rally in Defence of Social Programs
Ontario's Investments in Health Care and Other
Social Programs -- The Facts and the Fiction

- Steve Rutchinski -
For Your Information
Updated Assessment of Ontario Health Spending
-- Winter 2018 (Extracts)

The Fight Against Anti-Social Offensive in Nova Scotia
Need for Democratic Renewal -- Example of Nova Scotia
Breaking Through the Barriers of Anti-Social Decision-Making
- Kevin Corkill -

War Exercises of Unprecedented Proportions
Russia Holds Vostok 2018 War Games
NATO Countries Prepare for Massive Trident Juncture War Games

Commemorations of End of World War I

The Need to Make Commemorations Significant

In Europe's reeking slaughter-pen
They mince the flesh of murdered men,
While swinish merchants, snout in trough,
Drink all the bloody profits off!

- In Wartime, Stephan G. Stephansson, 1916

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of this year, one hundred years will have passed since the fighting in World War I ended following the signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany.

World War I was a slaughter of unprecedented proportions. The total number of military and civilian casualties is estimated to have been about 40 million people -- 15 to 19 million deaths and about 23 million wounded military personnel. The deaths include some 8 million civilians, of whom 6 million are estimated to have died of war-related famine and disease -- such as the 1918 flu pandemic, and the deaths of prisoners of war.

From Canada alone, more than 600,000 men and women crossed the Atlantic to the European theatre of war with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. More than 60,000 of them never returned with thousands more arriving home injured and maimed.

The war lasted from 1914 to 1918. It is said to have started on July 28, 1914 when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Russia soon followed, declaring war on Austria-Hungary, and within six days, Britain and France were officially at war with Germany. Canada, as a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, was automatically at war upon Britain's declaration.

The terrible conflict between the combatant countries tore asunder the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and German Empires. In Canada and throughout the British Empire, the slaughter ended the euphoria long promoted that the most coveted thing one could aspire to was to belong to the British Empire.

The end of the war did not end the greed of the power-hungry men who started it in the first place. Immediately, Canadian forces along with troops from ten other countries, at the instigation of Britain and France, were sent to invade Soviet Russia in a vain attempt to maintain the privileges of the Czarist regime negated by the establishment of the world's first socialist state.

In Canada the war was a pretext to suppress resistance to imperialist war and conscientious objection to participating, as well as to attack organized labour and revolutionary politics. The War Measures Act remained in effect for over a year after the end of the war and was used against organizers of the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919.

Main Street, June 4, 1919, during Winnipeg General Strike. The War Measures Act was used against the strike organizers.

Disinformation is rampant as to the causes of World War I and its impact. Often spoken of is the reality of the slaughter of unprecedented proportions. Sometimes mentioned is the end of the ruling class' euphoria for Empire that prevailed before the war. Most often, however, official Canadian historiography cites Canada's participation in World War I, and the Battle of Vimy Ridge in particular, as the defining moment when Canada "came of age." Meant by this is that Canada gained the right to be considered one of the "great powers" as a result of its sacrifice. Canada participated in the Versailles negotiations to decide the terms of peace following World War I, and since then in coalitions of various sorts to ensure Anglo-American interests are defended worldwide.

Official historiography highlights the Statute of Westminster of 1931 that granted Canada sovereignty over external affairs. When World War II broke out in 1939, the Canadian Parliament, not the Imperial Parliament in Britain, made the decision to declare war on the German-led Axis powers and send troops overseas yet again.

Mostly, the sacrifices Canadians made during World War I are portrayed as defending freedom and democracy despite the fact the war was waged amongst colonial empires and great powers for the redivision of the world and its peoples and resources.

This year, in his Thanksgiving message, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set the tone, "We also honour members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past and present. Each day, they make sacrifices to help build a safer, more peaceful world for everyone."

Most disinforming is the propaganda that World War I was a war for freedom, democracy and rights, and as such, the sacrifice of Canada's soldiers and treasury was for a worthy cause. In 2010, when the last known Canadian First World War veteran John Babcock died, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that the First World War "marked our coming of age as a nation" and that veterans "paid dearly for the freedom that we and our children enjoy every day."

Such a rendering of Canada's history has the aim to deprive Canadians of an outlook on which modern nation-building can take place. Nothing was worthy about the cause of defending the British Empire against its great power rivals, many of whom were led by royal relatives of Britain's Queen Victoria, including the Prussian Kaiser and the Russian Czar. Amongst other things, this shows how inbred and dangerous the European monarchy had become and the depravity of its war for the redivision of the world its respective empires controlled.

The great leader of the Russian Revolution V.I. Lenin described World War I as a fight between "two coalitions of the imperialist bourgeoisie for the partition of the world, for the division of the booty, and for the strangulation of small and weak nations."

Lenin said that such a war for the partition of the colonies and the division of the spoils of the capitalists "would involve a complete rupture with the latest achievements of civilization and culture." He pointed out that "it might, and inevitably would, undermine the very foundations of human society because, for the first time in history, the most powerful achievements of technology were applied on such a scale, so destructively and with such energy for the extirpation of millions of human lives. When all productive forces are being thus devoted to the service of war, we see that the most gloomy prophecies are being fulfilled and that more and more countries are falling prey to retrogression, starvation and a complete decline of productive forces."

We witness a similar situation developing today even though by no means the same. Coalitions comprised of oligopolies are marauding all over the world, striving to make riches through any means possible. Talk of defending the national interest is for purposes of paying the rich and criminalizing the people's resistance movement, their movement for empowerment and the anti-war movement.

The ruling circles and their media refuse to discuss any of this during the commemorations of the end of World War I. Far from it. Not a word is said of the dangers posed by the current wars underway and of the even greater ones they are preparing to wage. War and its preparation are portrayed as necessary to defend peace and democracy. Jingoism similar to that which raged against the people during World War I is used to deprive people of an outlook which could assist them to find a way forward.

Furthermore, the ruling Liberal Party and other political parties sitting in the House of Commons are enacting laws to target those who oppose NATO and imperialist wars of aggression and occupation, portraying them as willing agents of a foreign power or their unwitting dupes, all in the name of protecting Canada's electoral process from "foreign influence." These actions of the ruling elite are an unconscionable dismissal of the fact that the polity is comprised of citizens and residents who have rights by virtue of being human, and nothing is more human than the affirmation of the right to conscience and nothing more inhuman than its violation.

Let the commemorations of World War I be the occasion for Canadians to inform themselves about what is at stake today in the way official circles portray that horrific war and the current wars being waged and prepared. Let the people affirm their conscience by speaking their minds without fear of reprisal. Let us make sure Never Again has a meaning that favours the peoples.

An anti-war government is a necessity for Canadians to bring into being. An anti-war government would pay proper attention to developing a new democratic personality based on tackling the needs of the people in the conditions of the 21st century.

Today, slogans must ring out loud and clear to:

Dismantle NATO!
Bring All Canadian Troops Home Now!
Dismantle all U.S. Military Bases Around the World and Those of NATO
and its Members, Including Canada!
End all Wars of Aggression and Occupation, and
Spending on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Arms Sales!

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On the Centenary of End of World War I

November 11, 2018 at 11:00 am will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. How this event should be remembered is of importance. Often such occasions are met with attempts to suppress the thinking and conscience of the people by those who today use force and the threat of the use of force to settle differences between and among nations and peoples. They use remembrance of these important events to justify their rule and their demand that the people line up behind them against their rivals and those they have declared to be their enemies. They do not want remembrance to be for purposes of opening a path to progress in the present and analyzing the past to assist in dealing with problems of the present.

In the lead-up to the centenary Prime Minister Trudeau said in his Thanksgiving Day statement: "We also honour members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past and present. Each day, they make sacrifices to help build a safer, more peaceful world for everyone."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the same point in a statement on September 11: "The men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces were among the true heroes of Afghanistan and today the world is a safer place thanks to their service and sacrifice."

Both governments seek to hide the aggressive and warmongering role Canada is playing internationally by claiming that whatever it does is for peace regardless of the reality. Can it be said that Canada's armed forces are being deployed in a manner that builds a "safer, more peaceful world for everyone?" It cannot. First and foremost this declaration hides the fact that Canada's Armed Forces and Canada's Department of National Defence are not independent but come under U.S. Homeland Security. They are not organized to defend Canada's borders, but as an expeditionary force of the U.S. imperialist military -- whether inside or outside NATO, or inside or outside of the UN. Being a fully integrated part of the U.S. war machine, including through NORAD, does not permit Canada to play an independent role which contributes to peace internationally.

It was alliances such as those we see today which dragged country after country into the great slaughter that was World War I, in which the working people on all sides were used as cannon fodder in the belligerent powers' fight to redivide the world. The "war to end all wars" did no such thing. The Russian people successfully carried out their Bolshevik Revolution in the midst of the war. They contributed to peace by pulling Russia out of the war, hastening its end. This showed that when the working people place themselves in the position to decide matters of war and peace, they can contribute to peace internationally. For this, Soviet Russia was invaded by Britain, France, Germany, Canada and other powers, which tried to overthrow the world's first anti-war government.

The demands of the Russian people for peace, land and bread, expressed in mass protests like this one on International Women's Day 1917, were fulfilled with the success of the Great October Revolution which took the Soviet Union out of the imperialist war.

Today governments such as Canada's continue to guide their foreign policy in a manner that divides the world into military and economic blocs. Whether it be Canada's role in commanding a NATO battlegroup in Eastern Europe to encircle Russia; participating in a U.S.-led naval blockade of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to thwart the striving of the Korean people for reunification and peace on the Korean Peninsula; the support it is providing the U.S.-led war of terror against the government of Syria; or its integration into U.S. Homeland Security and submission to U.S. dictate over its economy, military, territory and decision-making, Canada is part of the imperialist system of states which is preparing for a devastating war of world proportions.

The Trudeau government claims that Canada is "back" at the UN because it has agreed to mobilize Canadian military forces in support of the UN "stabilization" mission in Mali. At the same time it operates outside of the UN when it cannot get a UN consensus. For example, it plays its role in the U.S.-orchestrated "Group of Friends" known as the Lima Group, which plots to carry out regime change in Venezuela in the name of human rights. Canada and the U.S. also convened another gang they called the Vancouver Group, to try to enforce a U.S. naval blockade of the DPRK.

Working people in Canada and Quebec do not want Canada to play a role which contributes to global conflict or wars of aggression amongst fraternal peoples. For that reason it is important that they take the lead in speaking for themselves to ensure that the centenary of the end of World War I is commemorated in a way that does not permit their desire for peace and for an end to wars of aggression to be negated or their ranks to be divided based on claims of them being "for" or "against" the troops. The danger of another catastrophic world war is real. The right to reflect and draw warranted conclusions about matters of war and peace is essential to ensure that Canadians can strengthen their anti-war movement and take steps towards establishing an anti-war government in which the people and not the rich will be the ones empowered to decide such things as what role Canada should play internationally and whether it should be part of NATO and other U.S.-dominated military alliances, with all that entails in the spheres of politics and the economy.

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World War I Remembrance Initiatives

Appeal to Wear the White Poppy
in Memory of All Victims of War

The white poppy symbolizes all casualties of war. All over the world appeals are being issued to wear the white poppy on Remembrance Day, November 11. For at least 80 years, white poppies have been distributed to represent three elements: remembrance of all victims of war, a commitment to peace and a challenge to attempts to glamourize or celebrate war.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, events will be held to learn the lessons of why "the war to end all wars" has not achieved this aim and how to continue the fight for peace.

The white poppy campaign calls on people to stand up for peace. It says the white poppies "symbolize the conviction that there are better ways to resolve conflict than through the use of violence. They embody values that reject killing fellow human beings for whatever reason. Nearly 100 years after the end of the "war to end all wars" we still have a long way to go to put an end to a social institution that even in the last decade has contributed to the killing of millions."

The campaign decries economic reliance on arms sales and the renewal of all types of weapons. "The outcome of recent military adventures highlights their ineffectiveness and grim consequences," the Peace Pledge Union says and adds:

"The best way to respect the victims of war is to work to prevent war in the present and future. Violence only begets more violence. We need to tackle the underlying causes of warfare, such as poverty, inequality and competition over resources. A temporary absence of violence is not enough. Peace is much deeper and broader than that, requiring major social changes to allow us to live more cooperatively."

In Quebec Échec à la Guerre, the anti-war collective, is calling on people to wear white poppies on Remembrance Day. It will also publish a full page message (see below) on Saturday, November 3, in the newspaper Le Devoir, dedicated to the memory of all victims of war to mark the occasion.

In memory of all the victims of war:

Given that for many decades now, wars have resulted in a lot more civilian than military casualties and millions of women, men and children are forgotten during official Remembrance Day commemorations;

Given that for the fifth consecutive year, the total number of persons uprooted worldwide by wars, ongoing violence and persecution continues to rise, attaining a new record of 68.5 million people;

Given that Canada's supposed "new role" in the world is utter nonsense: Canada is increasing deployments to Latvia and Iraq; it has announced a 70 per cent increase in military spending over 10 years; and it has generated record arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a country with one of the worst human rights records and which is also engaged in an atrocious war in Yemen that according to the UN, has resulted in "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world;"

Given that we demand a radical change in Canadian international policy, this would translate particularly into an end to kowtowing to U.S. empire, withdrawal from NATO and non-participation in the global arms trade;

We, the undersigned, wear the white poppy as a symbol of opposition to Canada's militarist policies and to the memory of all the victims of war.

Échec à la Guerre is gathering as many individual signatures, endorsements from organizations and $7,000 by October 31 to pay for the page. The list of contributors will appear below the statement. If more funding than needed is raised, Échec à la Guerre will use it to provide the campaign with additional media visibility.

For further information, to support the campaign, endorse the statement or make a financial contribution, visit the website: echecalaguerre.org 

(Échec à la Guerre statement translated from original French by TML.)

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Never Again -- Theme of Windsor Commemorations

The Windsor Peace Coalition convened a meeting on September 27 of all those interested in ensuring that the anti-war conscience of the working people of Windsor-Essex is affirmed in commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Attending the meeting were long-time activists from the Peace Coalition, Women in Black and the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, veterans of the Canadian and U.S. Armed Forces, a local member of the Royal Canadian Legion, a number of active and retired teachers, artists and others.

The meeting opened with the reading of the Peace Coalition's statement for Labour Day. It drew attention to how the Ford government in Ontario is attempting to invoke the memory of those who died in the Afghanistan war in this centenary year of the end of World War I, in keeping with subordinating Canada to the cause of U.S. wars of aggression today, which must be opposed. Everyone was invited to speak about why they had come and to give their views on how the centenary could be commemorated, which virtually everyone did. A common thread running through what participants said was that they wanted to see the anniversary marked in a way that affirms Canadians' anti-war conscience rather than suppresses it. Various aspects of what Remembrance Day has become were raised during the discussion as well as what people felt should be remembered on such a day. Some recalled how the day had been used as an occasion to remind the youth of the horrors of war, to remember all its victims, not just those of Canada, and in keeping with the slogan Never Again, that war should not be the means for settling conflicts between nations.

A member of the Legion explained that veterans do not glorify war or their participation in it. They often just talk about their individual experiences with their comrades-in-arms but not about the war itself. She said it was important that we know that many veterans do not support a rendering of Remembrance Day that glorifies war or uses the sacrifice of those who have died to justify further wars.

Others raised important concerns about the threat of nuclear war being used by the U.S. president, attempting to reverse the long-held consciousness that with nuclear weapons all of humanity loses, not simply the country attacked. What is called modern warfare is not "surgical strikes" as it is presented, with few casualties, another person said; that way of talking is just how the aggressors cover up the true extent of the destruction and devastation they cause.

Others pointed out that the weapons in use today destroy the natural environment and make the world unlivable for future generations and on that basis wars cannot be permitted. The importance of discussion on what conditions are required for peace was also raised in terms of ensuring that people's needs for such things as food, housing, education and health care are met, rather than settling for a narrow definition of peace as simply an end to hostilities. Questions were posed and opinions were expressed about how to ensure that the war in defence of humanity waged by peoples and countries during World War II is not equated with the war for empire of World War I or the new wars of conquest today. In this regard, the importance of taking a clear stand to oppose any attempts to present the war in Afghanistan as just or a war that brought peace was emphasized, as there is no peace and the situation has only become worse for the people there.

Others spoke about the poppy and how they felt it was used by some to promote war and militarism as opposed to what it actually stands for, and whether to consider wearing a white poppy as a symbol of peace instead of a red one.

Talk then shifted to possible actions and events that could be organized so the discussion begun at the meeting could be opened up to the public to make the remembrance and reflection a collective action. Everyone agreed that a commemoration of some kind would be held as part of the World War I centenary to affirm the stand Never Again as the basis of remembrance and that this be done in a very broad manner that opposes any attempt to construe it as being "against the soldiers" past or present, so as to dismiss it.

At a follow-up meeting a week later a number of events and activities were decided upon:

- A film night will be held on Friday, November 9 at which the movie Outskirts, set in a small town in Russia during the years 1914-17, will be shown.

- The Windsor Peace Coalition will hold its weekly picket on Saturday, November 10 on the theme of Remembrance based on Never Again.

- A wreath with a sash that says Never Again will be purchased to lay at the Windsor Cenotaph as part of the Legion's Remembrance Day ceremony on Sunday, November 11.

- Circular black 1" lapel pins with Never Again inscribed in white will be produced  They can be placed in the centre of red poppies for people to affirm their conscience for how they are commemorating the centenary. Proceeds from the sale of the pins will go towards covering the cost of the wreath and any other activities. The first order for pins came in right after they were announced at the October meeting of the Windsor and District Labour Council.

- An Open Studio reception will be hosted by the artists at One Ten Park following the Legion's Remembrance Day ceremony. A window installation for the centenary will be unveiled and there will be poetry readings and other forms of remembrance.

To purchase a Never Again pin ($5 each plus mailing cost, if applicable) e-mail: windsorpeace@hotmail.com

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48th Anniversary of Proclamation of War Measures Act

Danger of War Measures to Violate Rights Remains

Soldiers in the streets of Montreal in October 1970 after proclamation of the War Measures Act.

October 16 marks the 48th anniversary of the proclamation of the War Measures Act by the Liberal government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1970. Trudeau declared an "apprehended insurrection" in response to kidnappings and mailbox bombings in Quebec. The War Measures Act gave police forces the power to make arrests without warrants and detain people indefinitely without charges or trial.

Demonstration against War Measures Act, Ottawa, October 1970.

Even before the proclamation, between October 7-10, the police had already carried out over 1,000 raids. As a result of the Canadian government having invoked provisions of the National Defence Act, on October 12 the army was deployed on the streets of Ottawa and three days later, on the streets of Montreal. On October 13, 1970 outside Parliament, a reporter asked Trudeau how far he would go in suspending democratic rights. The Prime Minister replied, "Just watch me."

Upon invoking the War Measures Act, in the wee hours of the morning on October 16, soldiers began to appear on the streets of Quebec in full combat gear. The police carried out a further 3,068 raids and searches and another 465 arrests were made without warrants. The majority of those arrested were released without charge after 21 days, however some were detained longer.

All those events were passed over in silence. We are told that this is all part of the past, that it serves no purpose to "stir things up again." Why then does the Canadian army continue to carry out exercises, like it did during September, right in the heart of Montreal?[1]

The War Measures Act was adopted by the Canadian Parliament in 1914, at a time when Canada was part of the British Empire, at a time when Great Britain, France, Czarist Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire sought to redivide Europe and the colonies linked to these colonial powers.

These war measures were again invoked in 1917 when Great Britain, in concert with France, attempted to break the impasse on the battlefields of Europe, in particular after troops in Czarist Russia, France's ally, massively deserted the eastern front.

The Canadian state sends thousands of soldiers to quell the anti-conscription protests in Quebec City, April 1, 1918. They open fire on protestors, killing five people.

The Canadian government used these measures to impose conscription, which Quebeckers opposed by organizing in Quebec City in March 1918. Big demonstrations of close to 10,000 people broke out to oppose the kidnapping of youth by the federal police, to enroll them by force.[2]

On July 21, 1988, the War Measures Act was replaced by the Emergencies Act. In the section of the law entitled "Application and Construction," it describes a "national emergency," as a "public welfare emergency" "that results or may result in a danger to life or property, social disruption or a breakdown in the flow of essential goods, services or resources, so serious as to be a national emergency." Within such a situation, "When the Governor in Council believes, on reasonable grounds, that a public welfare emergency exists and necessitates the taking of special temporary measures" it may "take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times."[3]

It is important to recall that before the Emergencies Act was adopted in 1988, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 entrenched the underlying premises upon which both the War Measures Act and the Emergencies Act are based. The Charter states that almost all rights it "guarantees" are subject to "reasonable limits." In addition, it also allows the withdrawal of rights by use of the Charter's "notwithstanding clause." The right to vote and the right to have periodic elections, at least every five years, are safe from the notwithstanding clause. However, even the right to have elections every five years can be suspended "in time of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection." In other words, The Charter of Rights and Freedoms negates the very conception of the inviolability of rights and freedoms.

For Your Information -- The War Measures Act

Camp at Petawawa, one of a number across the country where "enemy aliens" were interned during World War I under the provisions of the War Measures Act.

The War Measures Act is a federal law passed by Parliament on August 22, 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War. The law grants sweeping emergency powers to the federal Cabinet, allowing it to govern by decree if it perceives the threat of "war, invasion or insurrection, real or apprehended." It was used to suspend the civil liberties of people in Canada who were considered "enemy aliens," leading to mass arrest and detention without charge or trial. The War Measures Act stayed in force in Canada from 1914-1920.

With the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, additional regulations and orders were added, forbidding membership in communist and socialist organizations.

The War Measures Act was used again during the Second World War.

In 1937, Quebec also passed a law protecting the province against communist propaganda, better known as the Padlock Law. It aimed to stop communist activities in the province and its nickname comes from the fact that the authorities could order a premise to be locked to prevent access.

The text of the Padlock Law states:

It is illegal for anyone who owns or occupies a home in the province to use it or allow anyone to use it to spread communism or Bolshevism by any means.

The law was declared unconstitutional in 1957 by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The only time the War Measures Act was enacted in peacetime was in October 1970 when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau used it to conduct searches and arrests during the October Crisis. It has since been replaced by the Emergencies Act, which was passed on July 21, 1988.


1. See "War Preparations in Montreal," Chantier politique, September 9, 2018.

2. See "Anti-Conscription Protests," Chantier politique, March 28, 2018.

3. The long title of the Emergencies Act is: An Act to authorize the taking of special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies and to amend other Acts

(Chantier politique)

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Indigenous Peoples Affirm Hereditary Rights

Supreme Court's Decision on Mikisew Nation's Appeal Points to Need for Constitutional Renewal

Following the negative Supreme Court decision, the Mikisew Cree Nation holds a press conference in Edmonton, October 11, 2018, vowing to continue to defend their sovereignty.

The Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling on October 11 that the government has no duty to consult Indigenous nations when drafting legislation that may affect treaty, constitutional, and inherent rights of Indigenous peoples. The decision was immediately condemned by the Mikisew Cree Nation, Indigenous leaders and organizations, who vowed to continue to defend their sovereignty and right to be, defend the interests of First Nations and Canadians, and carry out their duties to care for Mother Earth.

The decision in Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada (Governor General in Council) (SCC2018-40) arose from the Mikisew Cree First Nation's challenge to Harper's omnibus legislation of 2012. Bill C-38 made sweeping changes to Canada's environmental assessment regime under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, as well as related environmental and regulatory approval legislation, including the Fisheries Act, Species at Risk Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act (now Navigation Protection Act). It resulted in nation-wide actions and protests and the Idle No More movement.

The Mikisew Cree First Nation asked for judicial review arguing that the Crown had a duty to consult them on the development of the legislation, since it had the potential to adversely affect their treaty rights to hunt, trap, and fish under Treaty No. 8, rights which they have fiercely defended.

The Federal Court reviewing judge ruled the Mikisew were entitled to notice of the relevant provisions of the bills, as well as an opportunity to make submissions. The federal government appealed the ruling, and the Federal Court of Appeal ruled the judicial review should not have been conducted and was contrary to the Federal Courts Act. The court concluded that the creation of legislation is immune from judicial review, and the decision is inconsistent with the principles of parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers, and parliamentary privilege. The Mikisew appealed. The Supreme Court has now dismissed the appeal in a unanimous decision that the Federal Courts Act does not give the Federal Court jurisdiction to consider the application for judicial review.

The majority also went much farther, ruling that the "Honour of the Crown," the basis for the duty to consult, applies only to executive actions of the Crown, not to legislative actions. If legislative actions were included, the court said, this would constitute unwarranted interference by the judiciary in the workings of parliament, violate the supremacy of parliament and the separation of powers, and, in any case, would be an encumbrance.

Former Mikisew Chief Steve Courtoreille who initiated the court challenge responded, "How are they going to know if they are impacting our treaty rights if they don't talk to us, if they don't consult with us? How would they know that? Are they going to undo the legislation if they find out that it impacts our rights? The sad part is that it not only affects the First Nations, it affects the rest of Canada. When they brought out the environmental act, basically they wanted to destroy the environment. They wanted full steam ahead. They wanted no First Nations in the way and we were the problem, because we wanted to be consulted in our territories, we wanted to protect our fish habitats. And they did not care, they wanted to bulldoze through, have plants, have projects coming out as fast as they can. Coming to this day, thinking about all that, anybody with reason would say it is a simple decision, You have to consult before you draft any kind of legislation, you have to talk to the people, the owners of the land, the First Nations people, and then you know whether you are going to be impacting our rights. I don't know how they were thinking. It is very sad that the justice system has failed the First Nations again."

He pointed out that Indigenous peoples have defied them: "We are still here. They put us in residential schools, they tried to take the Indian out of us. It did not happen and we are still here. We will still be here going forward. Canada, thank you, you just made our people stronger, Thank you for that."

Chief Archie Waquan stated that the ruling is not the end of their fight to defend treaty rights, and that may include taking the issue forward to the United Nations, as Canada has signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The court ruling means that Indigenous peoples have no legal recourse until after a bill has become law. Only then, if the new law may have a negative impact on Aboriginal or treaty rights, can Indigenous peoples challenge the law in the courts.

The arguments provided by the majority of justices deny that Indigenous peoples are sovereign, with rights that belong to them by virtue of their being. They negate the fact that the treaties were signed by sovereign peoples on a nation-to-nation basis.

The conception that the honour of the Crown has to be balanced with the sovereignty of parliament does not recognize that the treaties are nation-to-nation and does not recognize the laws and institutions of governance of Indigenous peoples. Canada needs a new constitution based on this recognition and the right of all Canadians, Quebecers, and Indigenous peoples to exercise the sovereign decision-making power.

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For Your Information

What the Justices Had to Say

The court dismissed the appeal of the Mikisew Cree First Nation in a unanimous judgment that the Federal Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction for judicial review because the definition of "the Crown" in the Federal Courts Act applies only when the Crown is exercising executive functions. When the executive -- prime minister and cabinet -- are conducting functions related to legislation to be put before parliament, these acts are immune from judicial review.

A majority of judges went much farther. They ruled, "The duty to consult is an obligation that flows from the honour of the Crown, a foundational principle of Aboriginal law which governs the relationship between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples. This duty requires the Crown to consult Aboriginal peoples before taking action that may adversely affect their asserted or established rights under s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and ensures that the Crown acts honourably by preventing it from acting unilaterally in ways that undermine s. 35 rights. Although the duty to consult has been recognized in a variety of contexts, Crown conduct sufficient to trigger the duty has only been found to include executive action or action taken on behalf of the executive."[1]

Several justices noted that it would be wise for governments to engage in consultation when legislation potentially impacting Indigenous "groups" is being drafted, but there is no obligation to do so.

Reference is made to relevant precedents by three justices, who comment, in part, "When legislation has been adopted, those who assert that the effect of the legislation is to infringe s. 35 rights have their remedies under the infringement and justification framework set out in R. v. Sparrow, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1075. Those who assert that government decisions made pursuant to the legislation's authority will adversely affect their claims can rely on the duty to consult first recognized in Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), 2004 SCC 73, [2004] S.C.R. 511. Where new situations arise that require the adaptation or extension of the existing jurisprudence, the courts provide a means for further development of the law. No such requirement has been shown on the facts of this case..."

Justice Rosalie Abella and Justice Sheila Martin dissented from the majority on what was required to uphold the "honour of the Crown." Abella wrote:

...This obligation of honour gives rise to a duty to consult that applies to all contemplated government conduct with the potential to adversely impact asserted or established Aboriginal and treaty rights, including legislative action.

The honour of the Crown is always at stake in its dealings with Indigenous peoples, whether through the exercise of legislative power or executive authority. It is a constitutional imperative giving rise to obligations on the Crown which are enforced by the courts. When the government contemplates conduct that might adversely affect Aboriginal or treaty rights, the honour of the Crown gives rise to a duty to consult and accommodate. This duty is more than just a means of upholding the honour of the Crown. The question is not whether a duty to consult is appropriate in the circumstances, but whether the decision is one to which the duty to consult applies.

Because the honour of the Crown infuses the entirety of the government's relationship with Indigenous peoples, the duty to consult must apply to all exercises of authority which are subject to scrutiny under s. 35. This includes the enactment of legislation. This conclusion flows from the jurisprudential development of the duty to consult from an aspect of the infringement and justification analysis in R. v. Sparrow, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1075, to an independent obligation in Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), 2004 SCC 73, [2004] S.C.R. 511. No longer confined to the justification context, the duty to consult now forms part of the essential legal framework of Aboriginal law, and requires consultation wherever the potential for adverse effects on claimed or established s. 35 rights arises. This approach recognizes that the legislative sphere is not excluded from the honour of the Crown. Endorsing such a void in the honour of the Crown would create a corresponding gap in the s. 35 framework, leaving Aboriginal rights-holders vulnerable to the same government objectives carried out through legislative, rather than executive, action.

Although parliamentary sovereignty and parliamentary privilege are central to ensuring that the legislative branch of government is able to do its work without undue interference, these concepts cannot displace the honour of the Crown. The issues in this appeal require this Court to reconcile, not choose between, protecting the legislative process from judicial interference and protecting Aboriginal rights from the legislative process. The right of Aboriginal groups to be consulted on decisions that may adversely affect their interests is not merely political, but a legal right with constitutional force. Cases which advocate against intrusion into the parliamentary process must therefore be read in the context of a duty that is not only a constitutional imperative, but a recognition of the limits of Crown sovereignty itself. Parliamentary sovereignty should not be interpreted in a way that eradicates obligations under the honour of the Crown. Like all constitutional principles, parliamentary sovereignty must be balanced against other aspects of the constitutional order, including the duty to consult.

One justice stated, "The only procedure due any citizen of Canada is that proposed legislation receive three readings in the Senate and House of Commons and that it receive royal assent."


1. All quotations are from the decision, Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada (Governor General in Council), 2018-10-11, 2018 SCC40, Case number 37441.

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Mikisew Cree First Nation

Mikisew Cree First Nation is located in Northeastern Alberta. The Athabasca Delta, which is in the centre of their traditional lands, is a unique ecosystem where the Mikisew Cree have lived from time immemorial.

The traditional lands of the Mikisew Cree First Nation range over much of the area where the Athabasca oil sands deposits have been found. Mikisew Cree First Nation shares this territory with four other First Nations that make up the Athabasca Tribal Council.

The Mikisew Cree signed Treaty 8 in 1899. Oral history, including interviews with Indigenous people who were alive when Treaties 6, 7 and 8 were signed, has clearly shown that Treaty 8 was not a land surrender treaty, but a nation-to-nation agreement to share the land with the settlers. However both the Supreme Court and successive governments continue to assert that in making Treaty 8, the First Nations surrendered 840,000 square kilometres of what is now northern Alberta, northeastern BC, northwestern Saskatchewan and the southern portion of the Northwest Territories. In 1986 the Mikisew Cree signed a Treaty Land Entitlement with Canada that created several reserves in and around the Fort Chipewyan area and into the area north of Lake Athabasca.

The massive oil sands developments in the lower Athabasca region have severely altered parts of their traditional territory, as has the W.A.C. Bennett Dam.

Wood Buffalo National Park, located directly north of the Athabasca oil sands, is part of the traditional territory of the Mikisew and other Cree and Dene First Nations, and was carved out of Treaty 8 territory. The park covers 44,807 square kilometres, and is the second largest national park in the world. The Mikisew Reserve is located within the park.

In 2005, the Mikisew won a landmark case at the Supreme Court of Canada, which established that the Crown had to carry out meaningful consultations and substantially address Aboriginal concerns before making important decisions that impacted rights recognized in treaty. This decision, Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada (Minister of Canadian Heritage), 2005 SCC69, forced the federal government and Parks Canada to carry out consultations regarding road building in Wood Buffalo National Park. In 2000, the federal government approved a winter road, to run through the reserve without any consultation. Mikisew Cree First Nation has also challenged BC Hydro's failure to consider impacts of the Site C dam on the Athabasca Delta and has filed for judicial review of the federal approval of Site C.

Mikisew Cree First Nation has been second to none in defending the integrity of the park on behalf of all Indigenous peoples, Canadians and Mother Earth.

The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site. UNESCO points out: "Wood Buffalo National Park is an outstanding example of ongoing ecological and biological processes encompassing some of the largest undisturbed grass and sedge meadows left in North America. It sustains the world's largest herd of wood bison, a threatened species. The park's huge tracts of boreal forest also provide crucial habitat for a diverse range of other species, including the endangered whooping crane. The continued evolution of a large inland delta, salt plains and gypsum karst add to the park's uniqueness." It is also the world's largest dark sky preserve.

Mikisew Cree First Nation petitioned the World Heritage Committee in 2014 requesting that the park be added to the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger, which led to a formal request from the World Heritage Committee that Canada develop an action plan for Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site. Eleven Indigenous Nations are now involved in development of the plan for Wood Buffalo.

At the present time, most Mikisew Cree First Nation members reside in Fort McMurray, Edmonton, and Fort Chipewyan, Alberta and Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.

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Heiltsuk Nation Sues Government, Kirby Corporation on Second Anniversary of Oil Spill

Protest organized by Heiltsuk Nation during visit by Transport Minister Marc Garneau in
November 2016, shortly after the Nathan E. Stewart tug ran aground on their territory.

On the second anniversary of the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart, Heiltsuk chiefs filed a Notice of Civil Claim in the BC Supreme Court. The Nathan E. Stewart, a tug-barge combo, ran aground on October 13, 2016. The tug portion sank, spilling 110,000 litres of diesel fuel and other pollutants into Gale Pass, near Bella Bella.

Heiltsuk's territory is centrally located in the Great Bear Rainforest, and consists of extensive land and marine areas, including offshore waters that encompass the Goose Island Group and Banks, Campbell Island, and Bella Bella, and twenty-three reserves.

The Heiltsuk Nation is seeking compensation for loss of commercial harvesting of marine resources and infringement of Aboriginal rights relating to the food, social and ceremonial importance of marine resources -- factors that the current oil spill liability framework does not account for. The case will address vital questions, including Aboriginal title to seabeds and coastlines, national and provincial spill response frameworks, and the duty to consult Indigenous nations affected by spills.

The existing oil spill response framework excuses the polluter and government from full responsibility for oil spill impacts on Aboriginal rights otherwise protected by the Constitution, the Heiltsuk point out. Heiltsuk Nation will be asking the courts to assess whether this existing regime of liability for oil spills is constitutional.

"When I'm not harvesting Gale Pass to feed my family, I am working there as a commercial fisherman, earning an income to support them -- and I'm one of many," says harvester and volunteer oil spill responder, Robert Johnson. "Despite our reliance on Gale Pass, the governments of BC and Canada and Kirby the polluter have little interest in understanding the impacts of this oil spill on the health of my community, this environment, or our economy."

The case will also examine illegal actions of the U.S.-owned tug, including the presence of one person on watch when two are required.

Gale Creek and the marine area near Athlone Island is a rich ecosystem that Heiltsuk have traditionally harvested using sustainable practices. It provided Heiltsuk with many food species for food, social, ceremonial, and commercial purposes. At least 25 food species were harvested from the area, including commercial harvests of manila clams, red sea urchin, sea cucumber, salmon, and herring spawn on kelp.

The Heiltsuk carried out two years of independent investigation into the spill's cause, the response, and impacts. In announcing the court challenge, first responder and Hereditary Chief Harvey Humchitt said, "Government representatives travel the province, country, and the world preaching reconciliation and nation-to-nation relationships with First People. Meanwhile, back home, they are avoiding our calls and emails, excluding us from meetings, and ignoring our rights. If the courts have to explain that this is not what nation-to-nation relationships and reconciliation look like, so be it."

Chief Councillor Slett stated, "[T]he preparation of the case itself is a major achievement, since Canada, BC, and Kirby have denied or ignored our requests for information, consultation, and support. Our hope is that this case sets a new precedent for oil spill response for the province and the country. I wouldn't wish these last two years on anyone."

The investigation confirmed that the Heiltsuk responded immediately and did everything in their power to contain the spill. The response of the Coast Guard and the monopoly acting for Kirby was slow and chaotic, with no on-site command. When containment booms were finally provided, there were too few, and unsuitable for use in strong currents. Other containment equipment did not work at all and had to be removed. The Heiltsuk responders were not provided with any safety equipment or instruction.

The consequences of the failure of the spill response have been devastating, including the complete loss of the commercial clam fishery which has been closed since the spill. "When the Nathan E. Stewart sank it took with it livelihoods, our clam fishery, and part of what makes this place home," says Hereditary Chief Humchitt. "It was painful to watch the damage unfold as we waited for support and supplies. More painful still when the teams and equipment that did arrive were disorganized, ineffective and, ultimately, powerless to protect our waters and lands."

The Heiltsuk report that the struggle to recover from the disaster has jumpstarted their efforts to chart a different, sustainable and just course through troubled waters, using traditional law and ecosystem management practices rooted in 700 generations of knowledge.

"Since time immemorial, we have followed Ǧviḷás, Heiltsuk traditional law. It tells us to balance the health of the water and land with the needs of our people and to ensure there will always be plentiful resources. Today, Gale Pass is in jeopardy because of Canada, BC, and Kirby's actions. Our law has been violated and the legal action we are taking in the BC Supreme Court today is our bid to hold them accountable," said Heiltsuk Hereditary Chief Frank Brown.

While governments use their police powers in the service of the monopolies, the Heiltsuk law is consistent with the need to humanize the social and natural environment. It recognizes that we come from Mother Earth and must protect her. In place of the rule of the oligarchs motivated by greed and self-interest, is the recognition and conscious activity to balance the needs of the people with the protection of the natural environment from which we come.

TML Weekly calls on Canadians to put full support behind the Heiltsuk. Their sovereignty, hereditary rights, and laws must be recognized and a new relationship based on the internationally recognized right to self-determination established.

The Heiltsuk Nation Adjudication Report can be found here.

(With files from heiltsuknation.ca, RAVEN, CBC)

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Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows)
Nation Affirms Its Right to Be

Since 2002, the Grassy Narrows First Nation has carried out road blockades to prevent logging
on its lands. Shown here, a 2006 blockade.

On October 10, Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek Aaki (Grassy Narrows First Nation) in Treaty 3, issued a Land Declaration that bans all outside industrial logging in their traditional territory and asserts its right to make its own sovereign decisions on the uses of its lands and territories. The Asubpeeschoweewagong are part of 26 First Nations in northwestern Ontario and two First Nations in southeastern Manitoba, some 25,000 Indigenous people in all, who were signatories to Treaty 3.

The Declaration released by Chief and Council builds on a community referendum that was held in 2015, and is a "collective document asserting Indigenous rights, rather than waiting for the government or the courts to grant it. In doing so Grassy Narrows First Nation is enacting its inherent sovereignty."

The Declaration is in direct response to the Ontario PC government's plans to open up northern Ontario to industry and especially plans for another decade of industrial logging in the forests that are under the stewardship of the Grassy Narrows First Nation.

The Declaration comes after more than 150 years of abuse that the Indigenous peoples of Treaty 3 have experienced at the hands of the Canadian state, going back to when the treaty was signed on October 3, 1873 between the Saulteaux Ojibway and the Crown.

When the Saulteaux Ojibway negotiated this treaty they did so as an equal and sovereign party with the Crown. The Indigenous peoples on Treaty 3 lands, including the Grassy Narrows First Nation, affirm that while their forebears who signed the treaty consented to share their land and the natural resources thereupon, they did not cede their land to the Crown, nor did they give up their sovereignty as independent nations.

The Crown's aim in the treaty negotiations, on the other hand, was to lay claim to the lands and the resources of the Saulteaux Ojibway. In St. Catherines Milling and Lumber Co. vs. The Queen [1888], a jurisdictional dispute between the Ontario government and the government of Canada concerning the granting of logging permits to private lumber companies in Treaty 3 territory, the Privy Council in England, the highest court of appeal, noted that while the Indigenous peoples had an Aboriginal title to the land, this was "a personal and usufructuary (i.e. limited) right, dependent upon the good will of the Sovereign."

It must be noted that through the defence of their sovereignty -- by resisting the encroachment of their traditional lands and resources, through waging legal battles, organizing a blockade of logging trucks entering their territory since 2002, risking arrest and jail -- the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek have also defended the interests of the Canadian working class and people by opposing the foreign and domestic monopolies' pillage of the resources that belong to the Indigenous peoples and to all Canadians.

In a January 2007 Open Letter to then Governor General Michaëlle Jean, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Abitibi Consolidated, Weyerhaeuser Corporation and others, the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek Chief and Council denounced the closing of the Abitibi Mill in Kenora "putting hundreds of workers out of a job. With the closure of the mill, Abitibi has cut the last strands of their claim to logging rights on this land. Abitibi has destroyed our forests and now violated the basic social contract for logging in Canada by abandoning their workers."

Despite a Supreme Court ruling against them in July 2014 in a case where the Grassy Narrows First Nation challenged "Ontario's jurisdiction to unilaterally award logging and mining licences on a vast tract of Treaty 3 lands north of the English River (the Keewatin Lands)," the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek Aaki has "not backed down" and with the Land Declaration of October 2018, affirms its determination to fight for its right to be.

The Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek Aaki are calling for everyone's support in this important and courageous fight for their treaty and hereditary rights. All peace- and justice-loving Canadians must stand with them. Enough is enough!

(With files from: www.freegrassy.net, CBC, Toronto Star, www.canadian encyclopedia.ca.)

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For Your Information

Anishinabek Aaki Declaration


1. We are the Indigenous people of this land.

2. We love our land and our way of life.

3. Our land and our way of life are under attack.

4. Industrial logging makes our ongoing mercury crisis worse.

5. We stand by the decisions of our people.

6. We declare our Anishinabe Territory an Indigenous Sovereignty and Protected Area. We will make our own decisions and there will be no industrial logging on our Anishinabe Territory.

7. We exercise our right of self-determination to ban certain land uses on our Indigenous homeland, and allow others.

8. We will rebuild our livelihood and enjoy our Anishinabe way of life again.

9. We demand compensation for our losses and support for good jobs to heal our people and our forest.

10. We will enforce our Declaration under our own authority. We call on Ontario and Canada to recognize our Declaration.

1. Inherent Sovereignty and Rights

We are the Indigenous people of this land.

Since time before memory we, the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation, ANA), have lived our way of life on our Anishinabe Territory. As Indigenous people we keep our own language, culture, land, governance, and spirituality.

We assert our inherent sovereignty and our inalienable right to self-determination on our Indigenous homeland. Our land and our rights are given by the Creator and only the Creator can take them away.

Some of these rights are recognized under Treaty 3, the Constitution Act of 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian statutory and common law, and under international human rights instruments that are binding on Canada.

2. Land and Way of Life

We love our land and our way of life.

Our relationship to the land is our primary value and the foundation of who we are as Anishnabe people. The land supports us so that we can enjoy our good Anishinabe way of life -- hunting, fishing, trapping, and all traditional gathering -- living off the forest and waterways as our families have for countless generations.

We continue to follow the teachings of our Elders to be responsible for the land and to ensure that it stays healthy and can sustain future generations of life. Manaachitootaa Aki -- protect the land. We take care of our land and it provides for us. We take only what we need and we leave the rest for our relations in the animal, plant, bird, fish, and spirit life.

Our relationship with our land sustains us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as Anishinabe people.

We need the land for our survival as a people.

3. Attacks on our Land are Attacks on our Way of Life

Our land and our way of life are under attack.

Our sovereignty and our rights have been repeatedly violated by harmful decisions forced on our people by government and industry.

Our way of life has been under attack by residential schools, flooding, relocation, mercury pollution, and racism. What remains of that way of life is under threat from industrial logging.

For decades industrial logging damaged our Anishinabe Territory against our objections. Now our fish are unsafe, the moose and caribou are nearly gone, we have less marten, wild rice, and blueberries. Our medicines are tainted. In despair, our trappers end up on the streets in the cities to become homeless people living off the soup lines.

Our ability to traditionally harvest to feed and support our families, as we have for millennia, is at risk. This threatens to annihilate our very existence as a people. We cannot accept this anymore.

We refuse to watch as our forest, and our future, vanish before our eyes on the backs of huge logging trucks. We refuse to watch as outsiders stake claims and mine on our Anishinabe Territory.

4. Mercury Crisis

Industrial logging makes our ongoing mercury crisis worse.

After our river was poisoned with mercury by the Dryden paper mill, we tried to protect what was still safe in our traditional way of life -- our forest based hunting, trapping, guiding, and gathering. Instead, the government expanded clearcut logging and degraded our forests, attacking another pillar of our way of life. This has been a hard blow to our community, which was already suffering from mercury poisoning.

The clearcut logging released mercury that was held safely in the forest soil, further raising mercury levels in our lakes, rivers, and fish.

Industrial logging has made our five decade long mercury crisis deeper and longer. More industrial logging would make our ongoing crisis worse.

5. Affirmation

We stand by the decisions of our people.

For many decades we have tried to get respect for our rights and way of life on our Anishinabe Territory. We have consistently voiced our concerns and worked in good faith, but we have seen little progress. We see more clearcut logging plans on the horizon.

We affirm our moratorium of January 17, 2007 on further industrial activity in our Indigenous homeland. We have not given our consent to industrial logging on our land and our moratorium stands.

We respect our community referendum of September 2015 in which we decided that there will be no more industrial logging on our Anishinabe Territory. We will honour and enforce this direction from our people.

6. Declaration

We declare our Anishinabe Territory an Indigenous Sovereignty and Protected Area.

We will make our own decisions, determine our own future, and care for our Indigenous homeland.

There will be no industrial logging on our Anishinabe Territory.

We call on the Government of Ontario to withdraw our Anishinabe Territory from Forest Management Planning and mineral staking and to cancel all wood supply commitments from our Anishinabe Territory which were made without our consent. We demand that the Government of Ontario remove the Whiskey Jack Forest and the Area of Undertaking (the part of Ontario that is open to industrial logging) from Anishinabe Territory.

We call on Weyerhaeuser Corporation, Kenora Forest Products, Domtar, and all other companies to commit clearly not to use or sell wood from our Anishinabe Territory.

7. Land Uses

We exercise our right of self-determination to ban certain land uses on our Indigenous homeland, and to allow others.

We ban the following land uses on our Anishinabe Territory:

- Industrial logging
- Supply to the industrial mills
- Logging by outsiders
- Mineral staking and mining
- Hydro damming
- Oil and gas extraction and transportation
- Biomass extraction
- Radioactive materials mining, transport, storage, and disposal
- Any other uses that do not have ANA's free, prior, and informed consent.

The following uses by our people are allowed on our Anishinabe Territory:

- All traditional gathering which includes hunting, fishing, and trapping
- Harvesting firewood
- Building cabins, houses, camps, lodges, and docks
- Making snow shoes, tikinagen, canoes, and other traditional items
- Small scale selective logging for our own use
- Harvesting of plants and animals for use as medicine, food, ceremony, gifts, etc.
- Sustainable harvesting of plants and animals for sale (eg. Furs, fish, teas, wild rice, etc.)
- Operating lodges and camps
- Maintenance of ANA roads, bridges, trails, culverts, landings, camp sites, portages, etc. by ANA people and our helpers.

The following uses are allowed on our Anishinabe Territory with a permit from ANA:

- Travel through the area
- Hunting, fishing, boating, and camping by non-ANA people
- Camps and lodges for fishing, hunting, tourism, healing, recreation
- Eco-tourism
- Scientific studies and monitoring
- Remediation and restoration

8. Sustainable Cultural Economy

We will take steps to rebuild our livelihood and enjoy the Anishinabe way of life again.

For countless generations we have been a vital and self-sufficient nation. We as a people remain resilient and determined to reclaim our health and way of life. We seek control over our territory to heal and recover what we have lost of our health, culture, livelihood, and environment.

We will manage the wildlife, issue permits, monitor, maintain, guard, guide, restore, and enforce to ensure appropriate uses on our Anishinabe Territory and to recover the health of our forest. We will create work for our people that is harmonious with our belief system and sacred relationship with our Anishinabe Territory. We will welcome guests to our territory on Anishinabe terms. We will heal our forests and our waterways. We will enjoy the Anishinabe way of life again.

Reconciliation requires that Canada and Ontario support us in rebuilding our sustainable and culturally harmonious livelihood within our Anishinabe Territory.

9. Reconciliation, Restoration and Reparations

We demand compensation for our losses and good jobs to heal our people and our forest.

For several hundred years we have shared the land with others. But government and industry have abused our generosity and acted recklessly. They have taken from us and degraded our homeland with impunity. We have suffered greatly as a result.

We demand a new future in which the highest standards of care are applied to prevent further negative impacts on our land and people and to heal what has been broken. Moving forward in a good way requires that the wrongs of the past are made right.

Reconciliation starts with acknowledging and repairing the damage that was done and continues with supporting our vision of our future. This requires restoration of our rights and reparations for our losses.

Together we must restore respect for our sovereignty, our role as caretakers of our land, the health of our forests and waterways, the abundance of our wildlife and fisheries, the strength of our way of life, our livelihood, and our health.

We demand reparations to compensate for the damage that was done to our people and our environment by decades of logging against our will. Roughly 20 million trees were taken from our Anishinabe Territory against our will in a 20 year timeframe.

10. Enforcement

We will enforce our Declaration under our own authority. We call on Ontario and Canada to recognize our Declaration.

We invite Ontario and Canada to join us at a new table to recognize and implement this Declaration under our leadership. We can walk a new path together.

We call on the Governments of Canada and Ontario to respect our Declaration through legislation, and to support us in caring for and restoring our Anishinabe Territory and way of life.

We call on all corporations and people to respect our Declaration.

We call on all nations to stand with us in asserting and enforcing our sovereignty and this Declaration on our Anishinabe Territory.

We look forward to working with you to implement the will of our people.

If you disrespect this Declaration, we will have no choice but to take peaceful action, along with the support of our allies, in the forest, markets, legislatures, streets, and courts to assert our sovereignty and rights as the Indigenous people of this land.

Gaa Ki Ki Ke Kamik.

11. Amendment

This declaration is irrevocable, but it can be amended, as needed, by a proper community referendum (75 per cent + 1 of votes in favour, and participation by 50 per cent or more of eligible voters) and a quorum of Council.

Signed by:

Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek Chief and Council

(October 10, 2018)

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New Quebec Government Steps Up Anti-Social Offensive

When the Negation of Rights Is
Presented as Their Defence

The 48th anniversary of the proclamation of the War Measures Act is an appropriate occasion to address the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms' notwithstanding clause, which the new Legault government is threatening to use. The new Premier has announced that he will invoke that clause so that legislation on religious symbols, that may violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and be contested in the courts, would be adopted within a year. He says this is necessary to defend rights and Quebec as a "distinct society."

The notwithstanding clause is Section 33 of the Charter. The Charter itself is the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau government's "patriated" constitution which, among other things, neither recognizes the Indigenous peoples' ancestral or treaty rights, nor Quebec's right to self-determination. Furthermore, Quebec has never signed it.

Herein lies an attempt to divide the polity between those who defend the Charter and the conception of rights contained therein, and those who want to invoke the so-called "notwithstanding clause" in the name of defending the rights of Quebec based on the notion that it is a distinct society. In short, no one is talking about the rights that must be recognized in a modern 21st century society, not to mention what the rule of law should be.

It must be understood that the Charter contains a section which stipulates that all the rights and freedoms recognized within it are subject to "reasonable limits." Today these limits are increasingly used by the police powers in what are called national security cases. This is the case with respect to what is referred to as national security legislation that would have us submit to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Such "reasonable limits" are also invoked when workers oppose laws and regulations that invalidate certain sections of their collective agreements, that are legally binding. Such laws and regulations undermine their freedom of association and their right to conscience. The courts in fact tend towards affirming that such an imposition respects the reasonable limits clause of the Charter. They say that government executives -- the police powers -- have a higher responsibility, to take decisions in the name of the public interest, which of course they do not do, as their decisions serve big private interests.

As for the notwithstanding clause, it does not annul the Charter's reasonable limits clause. As with the latter, it is a prerogative mechanism of the executive powers to violate the rights of the people. The notwithstanding clause allows the federal parliament or a provincial legislative assembly or the National Assembly in Quebec to adopt laws that annul the rights proclaimed by the Charter, as found in Section 2 or Sections 7 to 15. Essentially, it allows for the annulment of all the rights proclaimed in the Charter except the right to vote and the five-year limit mandate for federal and provincial governments.

Through this exercise in disinformation regarding a law on religious symbols, the new Quebec government is preparing the conditions for a fratricidal conflict. What the situation requires is the unity of the entire people against archaic democratic institutions which are not instruments that defend the rights of the people, nor are they controlled by them. The situation reveals the necessity to oppose the measures imposed by the ruling class to deprive the people of their rights and their ability to themselves determine, based on their own considerations, their conduct as a modern nation.

It is absurd to say that a society can be defended by way of a constitution which treats rights as privileges that can be taken away on a whim of the party leader in power, whether at the federal or provincial level.

All those concerned with the future of Quebec and Canada must condemn such a manoeuvre, irrespective of where they place themselves on the political spectrum and their ideological convictions, religious or other beliefs.

For Your Information -- The Notwithstanding Clause

The rights proclaimed in the Charter that can be annulled by the notwithstanding clause are:

- freedom of conscience and religion;

- freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

- freedom of peaceful assembly;

- freedom of association;

- the right to life;

- the right to liberty;

- the presumption of innocence;

- the right to security of person; and

- the right to a lawyer in the case of an arrest or a detention.

A law adopted through the Charter's notwithstanding clause ceases to have effect five years after coming into force, and may only be renewed upon the adoption of a new notwithstanding provision. This demonstrates the absurdity of the claim that the passing of a law on religious symbols will provide social peace on the matter "once and for all." In five years' time, everything will begin all over again. There won't be any peace, that's for sure.

(Chantier politique)

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The Premier's Unfounded Arguments

Two days after having formed a "majority" government with 37.4 per cent of the votes cast, which represents less than 25 per cent of registered electors, the Legault government declared that it had the mandate to ban the wearing of religious symbols by persons in a position of authority. What it means by "persons in a position of authority" are the police, crown prosecutors, judges, security guards and teachers.

Not only is the Premier declaring that he has been given the mandate to proceed in such a manner, he also said that this corresponds to a "consensus" that he believes exists amongst Quebeckers to end the wearing of religious symbols that are said to cause unease during the delivery of public services.

Solidarity vigil in Saguenay, January 30, 2017, one of many following the shooting at the Quebec City mosque.

According to the Premier, these government employees will be moved into back office jobs if they refuse to remove what the government refers to as their religious symbols. Furthermore, should they refuse to be moved, they will be dismissed. The Premier added that he is ready to invoke the notwithstanding clause, Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Canadian Constitution, to protect his forthcoming legislation from future legal disputes.

The Premier ignores and rejects the great examples of social solidarity expressed by all Quebeckers towards religious minorities and others. One eloquent example of this took place after people were killed and injured during the massacre at the mosque in Quebec City on January 29, 2017. Quebeckers of all backgrounds broadly expressed their support for the community that had come under attack, with large gatherings Quebec-wide opposing all violence and discrimination against them.

To say that the Legault government knows what Quebeckers are thinking is unfounded. Resorting to the policy of divide and rule of the British or of any opportunist thug, to divert the attention of the people from the real challenges facing the society, will not succeed.

The Legault government does not represent Quebeckers when it commits to its ignorant bill to sow divisions and create diversions from the real problems facing the society. It has neither the mandate nor any grounds to do so.

(Chantier politique)

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On the Question of Religious Values and Symbols

The Legault government is committed to introducing and passing over the coming year a law on secularism that will prohibit the wearing of religious symbols by those considered to be in a position of authority in the public service: the police, crown prosecutors, judges, prison guards and teachers. Premier Legault claims his government has received a strong and clear majority mandate to proceed with such legislation, as with any law or measure it deems appropriate. The Premier says that he is responding to the consensus that he believes exists in Quebec and is only expressing the values of Quebeckers. Yet according to the Premier, it is time to put this issue of religious symbols "behind us." The monopoly media echoed him, saying such a law could put an end to the tensions that exist on this issue among the population by solving the question once and for all.

This is the first bill tabled by the Legault government, as a result of the biased and undemocratic electoral process that Quebeckers have just experienced, with a fraudulent majority made up of 37.7 per cent of valid votes and 24.5 per cent of registered electors. This was an election where all electoral issues were defined and imposed by the cartel parties in the National Assembly, their private marketing firms and monopoly media. It is telling that the first measure to be invoked is one whose goal is to provoke as much tension, division and diversion as possible among Quebeckers. While doing so, the government is setting the stage for its intensified privatization of public services and the accelerated sell-off of Quebec to private supranational monopolies and oligopolies in the name of prosperity.

This shows the extent to which the current political process is an obstacle to resolving any problem whatsoever. It deprives the people of any power to decide issues in a calm atmosphere, where the people themselves discuss and present the need for political unity to solve the problems of society. This unrepresentative democracy must be renewed and replaced by a mass democracy in which the decision-making power is in the hands of the people themselves as it should be, since it is their interests and rights that are at stake.

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Ontarians Rally in Defence of Social Programs

Ontario's Investments in Health Care and Other
Social Programs -- The Facts and the Fiction


On Tuesday, October 23, Ontarians are coming to Queen's Park from all over the province to hold a rally sponsored by the Ontario Health Coalition under the slogan: "Rebuild and Improve Public Health Care -- No to Cuts and Privatization." The rally expresses the opposition of the people of Ontario to the neo-liberal agenda of the reactionary Ford government which has hired EY (formerly Ernst and Young) to provide a rationale for privatizing health care services even more. EY is one of the four global monopolies providing neo-liberal accounting and consulting services to reactionary governments in support of the anti-social offensive of the rich.

The Ontario government's Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has detailed and current information about Ontario's fiscal health and, specifically, it issued an Updated Assessment of Ontario Health Spending -- Winter 2018. It shows that the neo-liberal agenda has constrained spending and has already significantly worsened the working and living conditions of workers in the health care sector by driving down their real wages and forcing many to work longer hours for less pay.[1]

But the facts do not fit with the argument and agenda being pushed by the Ford government to step up the anti-social offensive, so EY was hired to come up with a suitable story. The Ford government, like the Liberal government before it and all the governments since Mike Harris declared Ontario "Open for Business" in 1995, follow the pragmatic dictum made famous by Ivanka Trump, who tried to attribute it to Albert Einstein: "If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts."

EY has now completed its "Line-by-Line Review of Ontario Government Expenditures 2002-03 -- 2017-18. The very title of the report betrays its mission: "Managing Transformation -- A Modernization Action Plan for Ontario" and, as expected, it contains bogus neo-liberal accounting. A PR exercise from the outset for the Ford government's anti-social agenda, the report is the furthest thing from a serious review of Ontario's finances which do not support further cuts to funding of social programs and more privatization.

The example of spending on social programs in Ontario suffices to show that EY cherry picks facts and presents them in a self-serving manner to support the neo-liberal theory. We learn from the "line-by-line" review that "the most significant portion of (government) spending is in the 'Big Three' sectors: Health, Education and Children, Community and Social Services." It then uses coloured graphics to show that Ontario spends more on health care than BC and Quebec, but fails to note that these three provinces are at the bottom of the list when it comes to per capita health care spending in Canada.

EY also discovers the well-known fact that these service sectors are labour intensive and, being servants of imperialism, they present the value of the capacity to work as a cost. "Salary and wages account for a significant, and in some instances growing, portion of expenditures," the report says, and "overtime in the Health and Community Safety sectors is significant, and although it is to maintain service levels, the result is costly."

EY issues another known fact as a warning. "[F]ederal support for health care, as a share of provincial spending, has declined from historic levels and will continue to decline in future," it says. Besides the fact that federal governments have similar anti-social neo-liberal agendas as the provinces and refuse to uphold their social responsibilities, this is an exercise in disinformation to deprive people of an outlook on the basis that there is no alternative but to privatize.

"And yet this is not a story of dire straits," EY writes. It is "a story about opportunity" to capture the benefits of "a digital approach," "workforce transformation," optimizing "skills of government employees and reduce wasted cost due to overtime premiums."

Picket in Windsor during Ontario provincial election, May 2, 2018, in defence of right to
health care.

The Ontario Health Coalition denounced the EY report and aim of the government. Working people and their organizations are demanding more investment in health care and social programs, not less, and certainly not more pay-the-rich schemes.

The Ontario Health Coalition's condemnation of the EY report noted, "Ontario has already cut and downsized its public hospitals for decades. In fact, no other province in Canada, and virtually no other country in the developed world, has cut as deeply as this province. Already Ontario has the lowest public hospital funding in the country. We have fewer hospital beds left than any other province. Ontario has the lowest level of nursing care per patient, occupancy [overcrowding] levels in hospitals that are unparalleled anywhere in Canada or Europe. Here, patients are pushed out of hospitals more quickly than in other provinces, and as a consequence, Ontario has the highest levels of hospital re-admission in the country. One in ten patients ends up back in hospital after they are discharged. As overcrowding has reached crisis levels, violence in hospitals has spiked. 30,000 people are waiting for long-term care placements and care levels are too low to provide for their needs. The Coalition is calling on government to rebuild and restore services, not cut and privatize."

Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions stated: "Far from delivering a 'line-by-line' accounting of provincial funding, the PC government's $500,000 Ernst and Young (EY) report on the province's finances is gun for hire advocacy for downsizing public services, the sale of profitable provincial assets, user fees, means testing and increased privatization."

The Ontario Nurses Association, in its 2018 Pre-Budget Consultations to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs stated in part: "ONA recommends a 5.3 per cent increase in hospital base operating funding to cover the full costs of inflation, population growth and aging, plus increased demand for hospital services. We urge the government to implement a moratorium on any further erosion of RN positions, including a directive to all hospitals from the Health Minister to ensure hospitals make appropriate evidence-based nurse staffing decisions that do not negatively affect the care patients receive."

For more information on the Ontario Health Coalition's rally at Queen's Park from noon to 1:00 pm on Tuesday, October 23 click here.

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For Your Information

Updated Assessment of Ontario Health Spending
-- Winter 2018 (Extracts)

Below are extracts from the report provided by the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) of the Government of Ontario:

"The health sector is the largest expense item in the Ontario budget. The 2017 Fall Economic Statement projects $57.9 billion of health sector expense in 2017-18, comprising 42 per cent of total program spending. ... The two largest program areas are hospitals and the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), together accounting for $34.8 billion or 60 per cent of health sector expense in 2017-18." (p. 5)

"[A]fter the 2008-2009 recession, limiting the growth of health sector spending was a critical part of the Province's plan to achieve a balanced budget in 2017-18. From 2011-12 to 2015-16, annual health sector expense grew by only 2.4 per cent on average." (p. 5)

"From 2011-2012 to 2016-17 health sector spending growth was consistently slower than the growth in its core cost drivers." (Population growth, population aging and price inflation are three core drivers of health care costs.) (p.1)

"Since 2012, the Province has restrained the growth of health sector spending primarily by: imposing a four-year freeze in base operating funding to hospitals, increasing hospital efficiency, and restraining wage growth in the health sector." (p.2)

"Hospital Efficiencies: Over a four year period from 2011-12 to 2015-16, the Province froze base operating funding for hospitals. ... From 2012-13 to 2015-16 hospital funding restraint and funding reform resulted in the cost of a standard hospital stay in Ontario decreasing by 1.8 per cent while the national average increased by 5.4 per cent. According to the Ontario Hospital Association, these cost savings were achieved through efficiency gains such as reducing the length of time patients stay in hospitals, as well as through temporary measures such as deferring hospital maintenance and equipment purchases." (p. 16-17)

"Health Sector Wage Restraint: ... wage restraint has been an important aspect of slowing health sector expense since 2012, hourly wages in Ontario's broader health sector have grown more slowly than the rest of the economy, and have not kept pace with price inflation." (p. 17)

"Since 2012, a freeze in base operating funding to hospitals and wage restraint have been significant contributors in slowing health sector expense growth. Even with the additional health sector spending in the 2017 budget, hospital and OHIP program area spending is set to grow more slowly than their core cost drivers." (p. 18)

Much was made about additional health sector spending in the pre-election 2017 Ontario Liberal budget. Here again the FAO breaks it down pointing out that of the $6.9 billion in cumulative new health sector funding budgeted for the three-year period 2017-18 to 2019-20, 20 per cent of that amount was actually an "accounting adjustment ($1.2 billion) which does not involve any additional cash spending."

Most of the new funding ($4.2 billion) was "allocated to relieve pressures in existing programs," which sheds a bit of light on how strained delivery of existing health care services has become, and the rest ($1.5 billion) was funding for new initiatives, mainly the introduction of OHIP+. The FAO wrote, "Even though the 2017 budget plan announced $6.9 billion in new health sector spending ... health sector expense growth is only projected to out-pace the growth of core health care cost drivers in a single year -- 2018-19." (p.14)

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The Fight Against Anti-Social Offensive in Nova Scotia

Need for Democratic Renewal --
Example of Nova Scotia

Teachers surround Province House in defence of public education, February 17, 2017.

In Nova Scotia as is also the case in the rest of Canada, the working people are left out of the decision-making process. Last year, teachers took to the streets throughout Nova Scotia and surrounded Province House expressing their views, needs, concerns, demands and proposals for changes at their workplaces. The McNeil Liberals feigned interest in what they had to say but once again resorted to their favourite weapon of commissioning a report from a hand-picked expert. They then turned the discussion into whether the report of the expert was good or not and should be implemented or not, effectively blocking the teachers from leading a broad discussion on their proposals, which played no role whatsoever in the plans put in place.

Those with privilege, who have seized power through an anachronistic process of unrepresentative democracy, declare they have a "mandate" from the people. The reality is they receive next to no support from working people on whom they prey through micro-targeting, disinformation and even vote-suppression.

In Nova Scotia, McNeil consolidated his "mandate" by capturing a mere 39.6 per cent of the votes in an election that saw only 53.4 per cent of Nova Scotians cast a ballot. How can an electoral victory be so lousy as to barely engage more than half the eligible voters to participate? And, if the victory is so ridiculous and unrepresentative how can it be used by the McNeil Liberals to claim a mandate to impose their narrow, self-serving agenda on workers and the rest of the people of Nova Scotia?

The block on workers having a say over the conditions at work, in their communities and the broad economy begins with an electoral process that serves to keep the people out of power. The cartel parties are all too happy to declare victories with the lowest levels of participation because they do not even have as an aim to politicize and engage the people; only to use them as voting cattle. The role of the electoral process at present appears to be to block the people from having a decisive say and role in their work and in society generally while doing next to nothing to engage the majority of the polity in politics.

The breakthrough waiting to happen in Nova Scotia is for the workers to engage in a movement for political empowerment. They need to become the decision-makers by organizing for democratic renewal. The programs by the cartel parties, such as the McNeil Liberals, to pay the rich and deny the people what belongs to them by right will be smashed by workers organizing in a manner conducive to the needs of a modern society which takes up its social responsibilities.

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Breaking Through the Barriers of
Anti-Social Decision-Making

Picket in Windsor, Nova Scotia as part of a province-wide day of action under the banner
"Save Our Rural Health Care," October 13, 2018.

As is the case across the country, health care and education workers are fighting against the attacks on health care and education in Nova Scotia. Plenty of blame is spread around for what is described as a crisis in both these crucial sectors of modern life.

Some say the problems appear as just a matter of underfunding or neglect by successive governments. Others blame teachers for being greedy and too demanding. Some even blame the elderly for becoming old and burdening the health care system! One could say the anti-social offensive now led by the McNeil Liberals has brought Nova Scotia to the point where blame has to be assigned and other solutions sought. The government and media seem all too happy to let all sorts of nonsense be bandied about as long as the solutions put forward by workers in the two sectors are ignored.

The Liberal McNeil government has announced plans to replace three aging hospitals with a public/private/partnership model, as well as construct a new outpatient clinic in Bayers Lake. The budget is estimated at $2 billion. According to McNeil, the P3 pay-the-rich model provides the greatest certainty that the project will be delivered on budget and as ordered. This assertion was given to the McNeil Liberals by the accounting firm Deloitte, through a self-serving report the government commissioned.

To deprive the polity of the relevant information it requires to draw warranted conclusions, the government, political parties, monopoly media and others limit the discussion to whether P3s are good or bad and where the funds are going to come from to build these new institutions. No one argues, and correctly so, that the province does not need new facilities. They are long overdue. Arguing against a private solution, NDP leader Gary Burrill cited instances where P3 builds in Ontario and BC have come in over budget. Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union President Jason MacLean welcomed the news but cautioned, "Nova Scotians have already wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on other costly P3 projects -- more than 30 schools, toll roads, and the Burnside jail, just to name a few."

In this way, the social responsibility of a modern society to meet the claims of its members becomes muddied and lost. The central role of the workers who do the work to discuss and find a way forward to solve problems is ignored and denied.

The hallmark of the anti-social offensive is to make changes to all state responsibilities and arrangements so as to pay the rich. In order to get away with this, the working people must be deprived of an outlook which makes what they have to say on the matter ineffective. This leaves the door perpetually open for the financial oligarchs to serve their narrow private interests by feasting on all aspects of the economy and the people's needs.

The cartel parties in government act to ensure the people's movement for empowerment is not effective. This problem must be taken up for solution if the people are to control those affairs that affect their lives and society, in which health care and education are fundamental.

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War Exercises of Unprecedented Proportions

Russia Holds Vostok 2018 War Games

Russia held its Vostok 2018 (East 2018) war games from September 11 to 17, said to be the largest war exercises in the region since the end of the Cold War. They involved some 300,000 Russian troops, over 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, up to 36,000 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles, along with some 80 ships and supply vessels. The exercises took place throughout Siberia, Russia's far eastern region and the surrounding waters of the Pacific Ocean. The last time Russia was involved in war exercises on such a scale was 1981 when the Zapad 81 (West 81) drills, that involved about 100,000 troops, were held in the Soviet Union's Belarusian, Kiev and Baltic Military Districts and in the Baltic Sea.

A Kremlin press release stated that the main objectives of the Vostok 2018 exercises were to check the level of readiness of the military command bodies for planning and conducting the regrouping of troops over long distances and organizing interaction between land troops and naval forces. They should also help commanders and staff improve their command and control skills, it said. The Kremlin also informed that a brigade commander of the Mongolian Armed Forces, as well as 87 observers from 59 countries, attended the drills.

Mongolia, China and NATO member Turkey were invited to participate. Units of the Mongolian Armed Forces took part while China sent 3,200 troops, more than 900 pieces of land equipment and 30 aircraft and took part in mobile defence and counterattack drills at the Tsugol training range in the Trans-Baikal region. A statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry explained that "The drills are aimed at consolidating and developing the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, deepening pragmatic and friendly cooperation between the two armies, and further strengthening their ability to jointly deal with varied security threats, which are conducive to safeguarding regional peace and security."

The "strategic partnership" cooperation between China and Russia refers to high-level exchanges that began this spring between the two countries explicitly for purposes of countering U.S. unilateralism.

(With files from Xinhua and agencies.)

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NATO Countries Prepare for Massive
Trident Juncture War Games

Troops from NATO countries are preparing to take part in the Trident Juncture 2018 war games in Norway and other parts of Scandinavia, which the aggressive alliance called its "largest since the Cold War." Fifty thousand troops from 31 countries (the 29 NATO member countries plus purportedly neutral Sweden and Finland) are taking part in this six-week exercise. Some 10,000 military vehicles will be involved, the first of which arrived in Norway in August. One hundred and fifty aircraft and 60 vessels will also take part.

Trident Juncture is an expression of the U.S. striving for world domination and the preoccupation of NATO with the encirclement of Russia, which it attempts to justify by portraying it as an aggressor nation. This exercise is a particular threat to the peoples of Europe. Trident Juncture is said to show that NATO is adapting and responding to a "more demanding and difficult security environment." The immediate aims of Trident Juncture include jointly training NATO forces and training them to rapidly deploy across Europe. These are the second Trident Juncture war games; the first were held in Spain and Portugal in 2015.

The war games officially start on October 25, however advance exercises were held in Iceland from October 15 to 17, while troop movements to Norway are also being used as training. For example, the British military convoy is currently making a 2,000-kilometre overland journey from the Hook of Holland harbour through northern Europe to Norway. NATO states that its "move through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden will test how efficiently soldiers and equipment can move between European countries. It will also test customs, border regulations and infrastructure's ability to cope with rapid and heavy troop movements." Similarly, the German army shipped Leopard tanks and other military vehicles onboard a civilian cargo ferry from the northern German town of Emden to Fredrikstad, Norway where they arrived on October 11. Meanwhile, U.S. forces are travelling to Norway by sea via the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.

"Military mobility is vital, especially to reinforce in a crisis. That's exactly why we exercise it," said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu. "Over the past few years, NATO has made real progress in improving our ability to deploy troops quickly across Europe. We are overcoming legal hurdles and cutting red tape, including by working closely with the European Union. Looking ahead, we aim to further reduce border-crossing times (clearances within five days by the end of 2019), identify alternative supply routes, and exercise even more to practice military mobility," she added.

NATO's concerns about mobility and logistics were elaborated at the October 9 Trident Juncture press conference. U.S. Admiral James Foggo noted, "At the core of the exercise is the NATO Response Force and within that, the 5,000 person-plus Spearhead force, otherwise known as the VJTF or the Very High Readiness Joint Taskforce." In response to a question from the press, he later explained, "Germany is part of the German-Netherlands Corps, which is part and parcel of the 5,000-plus Spearhead Force that I told you about, the very high readiness joint task force, which shows that NATO can move quickly. Part of the discussion during the [NATO] Summit in July was the proposition to be able to do the 30/30/30 point [the 'Four Thirties' or 'European Readiness Initiative'], so that was to move 30 battalions, 30 aircraft squadrons or 30 ships in 30 days. The alliance aspires to be able to do that extremely well, and we will demonstrate that with the heavy logistics capability that will be demonstrated in this exercise. I think I have said it before: logistics is the sixth domain of warfare. And you can see that play out through Trident Juncture."

Another feature of the exercise is the imposition of NATO forces on the local population and the militarization of civilian life. Norwegian Lieutenant-General Rune Jakobsen stated, "During the exercise, the regional forces will cooperate closely with civil emergency services, the police, the railway, port and transportation authorities, as well as with local and national businesses." Canadian Lieutenant-General Christian Juneau pointed out that there will be "over 10,000 vehicles on Norway's roads, that will present a traffic control challenge that will stress-test the system."

Opposition to Trident Juncture

Rally against Trident Juncture, Sandnes, Norway, October 13, 2018. Banner reads: "Yes to
Peace Exercises No to War Exercises."(Stopp NATO)

Working people in Norway are greatly concerned about the presence of these aggressive foreign troops in their country and are organizing to oppose it.

An event was held on October 13 in Sandnes in western Norway, in which the organizers stated, "We say yes to peace exercises and no to war exercises and protest against NATO's build-up, which we believe are war preparations and a threat to people and climate."

The Facebook group Aksjon mot Nato-øvelsen Trident Juncture (Action on NATO's Trident Juncture Exercises) has been set up to promote and coordinate anti-war actions. The organizers explain that their "goal is to inform about activities across the country and create national protests against Trident Juncture." They also point out the timing of Trident Juncture on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

They note that the continuous upgrading of armaments, both conventional and nuclear, "shows that we are in a new arms race. The exercise is part of militarization at a time of calm and an active peace movement. It is paradoxical that Norway awards the [Nobel] Peace Prize at the same time as a military exercise is being held that will increase the tension between the U.S./NATO and Russia and lead to increased militarization, including on Norwegian soil."

Mass actions to oppose Trident Juncture will take place in Trondheim on October 20 and in Oslo on October 27.

(With files from NATO, Wikipedia, Xinhua)

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