I may see a few fish jumping
and they say the water level is high.
We don’t have cotton or money,
but life’s looking good anyway.
I’m hushing up and heading out.
Don’t you cry, I’ll post again.
I may see a few fish jumping
and they say the water level is high.
We don’t have cotton or money,
but life’s looking good anyway.
I’m hushing up and heading out.
Don’t you cry, I’ll post again.
I’m not yet halfway through it but I had to blog it. Everyone should read it.
It’s the biggest boo-boo the Harper has made to date.
Inequity is everywhere. Please take time to fax Minister Yates using the link below.
Employees of the Saskatoon Community Training Residence (CTR) for women have been striking since June 14 in a struggle for wage parity. The 15 women earn only about 68 per cent of wages paid to workers at the men’s residences. Men’s training residences are staffed by the province, while the women’s residence is staffed by the Elizabeth Fry Society, a volunteer agency.
The E Fry society has made a final offer of seven per cent over the previous three years, an offer that does nothing to close the wage gap. The workers want the CTR to be rolled into the administration of Corrections and Public Safety, because the government will then be obliged to pay them the same as the men.
Send a fax in support of the E Fry Workers
Insight Meditation encourages one to be curious. And curiousity leads to interesting places (and to blog visits from interesting places).
Linda McQuaig provides an excellent model for curiousity. Count on her to ask good questions.
>by Linda McQuaig
July 10, 2006
Whether or not there’s any genuine warmth between Bush and Harper — the subject of endless media speculation — there’s a clear convergence of interests.
Both men are ideological conservatives in the Reagan-Thatcher mould. Both have their political base in the booming, oil-soaked West. Both are extremely friendly to powerful corporate interests, particularly Big Oil.
So the question isn’t how well these two ideological soulmates get along, but, rather: What are they up to? With their agendas so neatly meshed, and so fully in line with that of the corporate world, who’s going to defend the interests of the non-corporate world, or what used to be called “the public interest?”
The McQuaig article discusses the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) agreed to by former Prime Minister Paul Martin, US President George Bush, and Mexican President Vincente Fox, in March 2005. It is a partnership proposal that closely mirrors what the Canadian Council of Chief Executive Officers (CCCE) floated.
In a discussion paper published in April 2004, titled New Frontiers, the CCCE proposed building a 21st century partnership for North America based on five pillars: reinventing borders, maximizing regulatory efficiencies, enhancing energy and resource security, strengthening the defence and security alliance, and forging new institutions to improve management of the relationship.
In March of this year PM Steve comfortably replaced PMPM in the threesome and agreed to the next steps.
My curiousity peaked when I learned that PM Steve’s good buddy, Gwyn Morgan, was part of creating that original piece.
SPP documents refer to the “North American energy market” and “North American energy security” — making no distinction between Canadian and U.S. energy supplies and security. This is fine with both U.S. and Canadian business interests. Of course, much of the “Canadian” energy business is U.S.-owned. But where is the public interest in all this? Is Canadian energy security being sacrificed to ensure U.S. energy security?
She echoes Peter Lougheed, the former Conservative Premier of Alberta, and Melissa Blake, the Mayor of Fort McMurray, who have called for a moratorium on oil sands development. Lougheed has suggested the project is not economically viable and is calling for public discourse on the environmental impact.
Already, the activity has heated up the Alberta economy to the point where Lougheed, who was premier of the province when tar sands development exploded into reality, has been calling for a temporary moratorium on further projects.
In Canada, the provinces, not the federal government, “own” the natural resources, so that the bitumen is in fact the property of the people of Alberta, says Lougheed. Yet the royalty they receive on it amounts to 1 percent of the selling the price of the oil it produces, barely enough to cover the enormous infrastructure services the tar sands projects are occasioning.
He’s calling for a study on the environmental impact of the massive projects, which will cover an area about the size of Florida. Where the interests of continental oil supply must be weighed against the interests of environmental integrity, he proposes that such issues be settled by popular referendum.
I doubt the Lubicon Cree have much hope for a referendum. They’ve been battling this for a long time. But maybe Lougheed does now see his mistake in opening up the sands.
Just what we all wanted and needed, another highway! </end sarcasm>
And it is ready to begin construction next year.
Craig Huckerby — SooNews.ca — Monday, June 19, 2006, 11:35AM
A new super highway serving all of North America is quietly being worked on by the Bush Administration.
What’s being called the NAFTA Super Highway, four football fields wide and stretching from Mexico to Canada along Interstate 35 is advancing by a number of agencies.
Human Events Online says those agencies include [v]arious U.S. government agencies, dozens of state agencies, and scores of private NGOs. They have formed the North America SuperCorridor Coalition Inc. (NASCO), a non-profit organization out to improve both the trade competitiveness and quality of life in North America.
And I have to ask, For whom?
A quick look at the list of Board Members opened my eyes. Representatives of big business and government coming together to form a non-profit organization just isn’t right.
And, it’s not only the Bushites who are working on this plan. Take a look at some of the names:
Andrew T. Horosko, P. Eng.
NASCO Vice President of Canada
Deputy Minister of Transportation
Manitoba Transportation and Government Services
William N. (Nick) Steele
President, Lockheed Martin Sygenex, Inc.
Gerardo (Gerald) Schwebel
Executive Vice President, International Division
International Bank of Commerce
Director of Policy/Manager of EPC Secretariat
City of Winnipeg
Thomas L. (Skip) McMahon
Director, Special Projects
Canadian Transit Company
I guess Lockheed Martin would benefit in having better routes to transport their war equipment. And the International Bank of Commerce would be involved to make sure everyone involved gets wealthier.
It’s interesting to note that, among other things, Skip is responsible for directing the Canadian External Affairs department and helping to develop new business opportunities. Interesting also is that in April the Harperites introduced legislation giving the federal government authority over all cross-border bridges and tunnels in the country — including the Ambassador Bridge, Windsor-Detroit tunnel and any new crossing.
The City of Winnipeg fellow, Bryan, is currently the head of policy and a senior political advisor to His Worship, Sam Katz, Mayor of Winnipeg. Take a look at NASCO’s map of the SuperCorridor and you’ll figure out why Winnipeg is interested in this venture. As well as the other Manitoban in the mix, Gary Doer’s DM of Transportation, Andy Horosko.
Note that former Prime Minister, Paul Martin, was in on this as well when he met with the Fox and Bush in March 2005.
Even more so with this highlighted in the Gristmill:
Among other charming features, the highway is deliberately intended to bypass any involvement from unions, either the Longshoreman’s Union or the Teamsters Union.
And somewhere in all this there are questions about the 4,000 page Environmental Impact Statement on the project.
No one has yet commented on what the level of CO2 emissions created by this project and its aftermath will be. I suppose it’s buried somewhere in that report.
Thanks to timethief at stolen moments of island time for the lead.
[Check out the post that updates this issue and makes a local connection]
So You Trust Our Secret Police? Think Again.
by J. F. Conway
Conway is a University of Regina political sociologist and the author of The West: The History of a Region in Confederation and Debts to Pay: The Future of Federalism in Quebec.
An Innovative Research Group poll taken after the early June bust of “the Toronto 17″ should cause deep concern among all Canadians. Sixty-two per cent of Canadians agreed with the proposition that without national security all other rights of Canadians were simply theoretical. This is the argument presented by federal lawyers before the Supreme Court in an effort to defend the constitutionality of the use of “security certificates,” i.e., the right of the secret police to incarcerate suspected terrorists for an indefinite time without laying charges or proceeding to trial. Another 40 per cent declared a willingness to see our civil liberties eroded in the name of national security. One in three expressed worries that they could be personally victimized by terrorist acts, and one in four felt that they or someone close to them could have been killed or injured by the actions of “the Toronto 17.” The campaign of terror and fear by our secret police and the Harper government is working. Fear is stalking the land, infecting our democracy.
Fear, deliberately provoked and orchestrated, has always been a favourite tool of governments in efforts to win public support for questionable, controversial policies. In this particular case, the Harper government chose to mount arguably the biggest peacetime combined police and military operation since the 1970 War Measures Act to round up a gang of hapless, abjectly stupid ideological zealots suffering from terrorist fantasies and delusions of grandeur. Based on the evidence so far reported on “the Toronto 17,” they would have difficulty successfully organizing a community soccer tournament.
Canadians should resist giving instant credence to unsubstantiated claims made by our secret police, and hysterically echoed by Prime Minister Harper and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, given the Harper government’s political agenda. That agenda has been further clarified in recent days. Besides trying to stampede a reluctant Canadian public into supporting the deployment of Canadian troops in Afghanistan and appeasing the U.S. government’s demands that Canada enthusiastically join the global war on terror, Harper now wants to persuade Canadians to support a massive $15 billion increased defence spending program billed as essential for our participation in this war. And this $15 billion is not earmarked for military tools for the defence of Canada, or for UN peacekeeping abroad, but rather for acquiring the military equipment essential for wars of aggression, invasion and occupation of foreign territories.
Let us remember the lessons about our secret police so painfully learned during Canada’s last brush with terrorism and its suppression – the 1970 FLQ crisis and the invocation of the War Measures Act. Public hysteria was whipped up by leaked claims of the secret police, and politicians and governments who uncritically echoed them: FLQ terrorists had infiltrated all key institutions of Quebec; 3000 armed FLQ terrorists were ready to begin an insurrection; the FLQ had a “hit list” of 200 Quebec leaders marked for assassination; the kidnappings of the British diplomat and the Quebec Labour Minister were but the first step in a revolutionary plot for takeover; a massive bombing campaign was in the works; there would be a bloodbath of executions followed by the installation of a provisional government. It was all a pack of lies, but led to a wave of arrests and violations of civil liberties focussed in Quebec, but affecting suspected individuals and groups all across Canada. And the suppression enjoyed almost universal public support.
In the years after the crisis Canadians learned how they had been manipulated by the secret police and politicians in power, thanks to Ottawa’s Royal Commission of Inquiry Into Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Policy (the McDonald Commission) and Quebec’s Keable Inquiry into Illegal Police Activities. These inquiries exposed the dirty tricks and illegal actions employed by the secret police against not only the FLQ, but the democratic sovereignty movement, as well as other individuals and groups on a list of “the politically suspect” (including members of parliament, candidates for election, student groups and trade unions). Seventeen past and present members of the RCMP’s Security Service were charged with 44 offences following the release of the Keable Report (there would have been more, but the federal government stonewalled the Commission’s request for documents). The McDonald Commission also reported a long list of dirty tricks and illegal actions carried out by the secret police, though these did not result in charges and trials (and portions of the report have yet to be released). These included over 400 illegal break-ins, thefts of dynamite, theft of the membership list of the Parti Québécois, an act of arson, unauthorized mail openings, surveillance of MPs and candidates for office, investigations of the NDP’s Waffle group, illegal detentions involving psychological and physical violence to recruit informers, forging and releasing documents under the FLQ’s name calling for violence to win independence, the massive infiltration of the FLQ to the point where by 1972 secret police agents had a voting majority in the organization. The list goes on and on.
Most of the perpetrators of the dirty tricks and illegal activities among the ranks of the secret police were never charged, and those who were charged either received unconditional discharges upon pleading guilty, or the charges were later dropped. In other words, the secret police were, in practice, not subject to the laws of the land but could cynically violate them at will in the name of “national security.” As a result, the McDonald Royal Commission recommended that, in future, the police, including the secret police, cease illegal activities, that mail openings and break-ins occur only under the oversight of a judge, and, allegedly most importantly, that the secret police be removed from the RCMP and that a civilian secret police agency be set up. In 1984, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was accordingly established.
This was an entirely cosmetic move and smeared the RCMP, suggesting that the secret police got out of control due to failures of the RCMP’s command structure. This is nonsense. The secret police was doing what the secret police always does, and continues to do under the CSIS structure. And they were doing it under the political direction of the government of the day. Indeed, it can be reasonably argued that the RCMP’s command structure, history and culture may well have imposed a bit of restraint on the activities of the secret police, a restraint that is absent in CSIS. Testimony before the McDonald Commission revealed that some rather bizarre plots proposed by secret police zealots were denied authorization at senior levels. Hence, I trust CSIS even less than I trusted the RCMP’s Security Service.
And what about the directive from the McDonald Commission that the police, including the secret police, always act within the law? Such a rule makes it very tough for the secret police to do what secret police do. Well, that problem has been solved. There is a new “doublethink” law allowing the police to act illegally while upholding the law. If that sounds a bit Orwellian, it is because it is – a law making breaking the law legal while enforcing the law. The new so-called Immunity Law was passed in February 2002 and allows police agents of all sorts to commit crimes in the line of duty. Any crime can be committed except those involving obstructing justice, sex crimes, and violence causing bodily harm (making violence that leaves no marks or breaks no bones perfectly legal). During 2004-05 Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day recently admitted that many crimes were committed by police covered by the immunity statute.
Therefore, secret police agents can actively work with suspects, or with individuals and groups targeted for political reasons, in order to encourage violations of the new, draconian anti-terrorist law, particularly in actively encouraging elaborate conspiracies to carry out fantastic terrorist plans. And all those illegal actions carried out by secret police in the 60s and 70s that led to the government inquiries would now be perfectly legal.
Our secret police is now unconstrained by law. Our democracy and our civil liberties are in big trouble. The next sensational terrorist bust could well involve a “sleeper cell” containing a majority of secret police agents.
Dr. J. F. (John) ConwayProfessor and Chair
Department of Sociology and Social Studies
University of Regina
Regina, SK S4S 0A2
I should have titled this post Climate Change Is A Women’s Issue Part 2 but fewer reads may have resulted. It seems some folks don’t appreciate a gender-based analysis of climate change.
This piece landed in my inbox today and it significantly deepens for me the connections between women’s lives, the military industrial complex, and our changing climate.
Gender, Militarism and Climate Changeby Betsy Hartman
As evidence of climate change becomes ever more compelling, the battle over who gets to frame its causes, effects and solutions will intensify. In popular as well as policy venues, whose voices get heard and whose don’t will become a key political issue of our time. Today, at the international policy level, gender is conspicuous by its absence in climate change debates. In fact, the words “women” and “gender” are missing in the two main international global warming agreements, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Recent feminist scholarship and advocacy challenge this invisibility of gender, pointing in particular to the importance of gendering the analysis of vulnerability and adaptation to global warming.
Feminist work on vulnerability draws on previous research regarding what makes certain populations more at risk in natural disasters such as floods and droughts, extreme weather events that could become more prevalent as the result of global warming. For example, in places where women have less access to food and health care than men, they start off at a disadvantage when facing natural disasters and environmental stress. Since they are often the primary caregivers for children and the elderly, they may also have less mobility. Cultural restrictions on women’s mobility can compound the problem. During the 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh many more women died than men because early warnings were displayed in public spaces where women were prohibited and women delayed leaving their homes because of fears of impropriety.
Rather than relying on broad generalizations, feminist scholars and practitioners have developed gender-sensitive risk mapping in which women map their own vulnerabilities in terms of what crops they cultivate, what resources they do or do not control, their access to irrigation, markets, information, etc. In this sense, gender analysis is a tool to explore diverse contexts and come up with locally effective solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all understanding of vulnerability.
So far, much of the literature on gender and vulnerability to climate change has focused on rural women in the global South though in a few decades the majority of the world’s people will live in cities. As hurricane Katrina illustrated, the global North is not immune to extreme climate events
either, and the degree of vulnerability people in New Orleans experienced was closely correlated with gender, poverty, race, age and class, and the intersections between them. Given the likelihood that risks associated with climate change will increase in the years to come, gender-sensitive risk mapping and data collection would be useful tools for communities, rural and urban, all over the world.
Much also remains to be done to make early warning systems more attentive to gender issues. According to Maureen Fordham of the Gender and Disaster Network, mostly male experts dominate this field, and the traditional emphasis is on (‘hard’) scientific and technical approaches to the identification of hazards and the solution of problems with little attention given to the role of women’s networks and other citizens’ groups in developing informal warning systems. The field of disaster management is similarly dominated by men, and women’s needs for information and services are often neglected in disaster response.
Given the wholesale neglect of gender issues in international climate change agreements, it is not surprising that little attention has been paid to how those agreements themselves may have gendered outcomes. In a critique of the Kyoto Protocol’s approach to carbon trading, Larry Lohmann of the U.K.-based Corner House points to how the resulting carbon accounting systems marginalize non-corporate, non-state and non-expert contributions toward climatic stability and are creating new exclusionary forms of property rights. They favor large-scale carbon sequestration projects in the South
that can have both negative social and environmental consequences. For example, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, the Plantar S.A. Corporation has asked for carbon finance for its expanding monoculture eucalyptus plantations. These plantations not only occupy public lands that by law should go to poor peasants, they draw down the water supply and greatly reduce biodiversity.
Such plantation schemes are likely to have a number of gendered effects. For example, women will not have access to them for domestic fuelwood collection, and the few jobs they generate for forest guards, etc. will go largely to men. Since women in many places rely on wild plants both for food and seed domestication, loss of biodiversity could reduce their livelihood resilience. Nor are such plantations likely to contribute to solving the longer-term energy needs of poor women. According to Margaret Skutsch of the Gender and Climate Change Network, the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism has effectively shut the door on small-scale, non-corporate solutions such as systems that encourage local control of existing forests and improvements in their ability to sequester carbon and produce sustainable fuelwood supplies.
In general, little effort has gone into analyzing how gender relations affect the drivers of climate change. For example, in the global North, which is disproportionately responsible for global warming, the transport sector is a primary source of greenhouse gases. Perhaps with the exception of the U.S., women in the global North are less likely to own cars and more likely to use public transport. Moreover, in Europe the cars women drive tend to be smaller and more fuel-efficient because they are not viewed as status symbols. This latter point underscores the need to look at gendered dimensions of consumer desires as they affect energy use. Advertising is highly gendered – the typical SUV or pick-up driver portrayed in automobile ads in the U.S., for example, is a male, either alone or with his mates, out to conquer the rugged wilderness. If there are women in the picture, they are usually sleek and beautiful, adding an element of sex appeal. Thus notions of masculinity and femininity are strategically deployed to create and sustain a wasteful, gas-guzzling culture, from promotion of ATVs as ‘toys for boys’ to the military-civilian Hummer crossover as a potent symbol of American manhood.
Gendering climate change also requires keeping a close eye on fine line between justifiable concerns about the threats posed by global warming and the strategic deployment of alarmist discourses to build support for the Kyoto protocol as well as to serve other more problematic objectives. Here one has to closely monitor implicit and explicit gendered narratives that reinforce negative views of women and poor people.
A case in point is the framing of women in terms of the population threat. Apocalyptic predictions of population growth overshooting the carrying capacity of the planet have long been popular in Northern environmental circles, particularly in the U.S. where there has been a long relationship between the population lobby and the mainstream environmental movement. Those seeking to shift the blame for global warming from Northern consumption and production patterns to poor people in the South often make use of alarmist population arguments.
For example, Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, recently made headlines in the British press when he argued that without significant population reduction, there was little hope for effectively coping with climate change. The implicit message is that women’s fertility must be controlled. In the past, such reasoning has contributed to the implementation of draconian population policies deeply harmful to women’s health and rights.
Population alarmism also figures in images of starving waves of global warming refugees washing up on our shores, as illustrated in a 2003 Pentagon-commissioned abrupt climate change scenario where reductions of carrying capacity in overpopulated areas cause increasing wars, disease, starvation and ultimately migration to the North. This kind of threat narrative incorporates women into an overall menacing portrait of the Third World poor and reinforces the authority of national security agencies over civilian initiatives to tackle climate change.
One way to challenge such military maneuvers is to focus on how militaries themselves play a significant but neglected role in global warming The Department of Defense is the largest single consumer of fuel in the U.S., accounting for 1.8% of the nation’s total transportation fuel. This is no mean contribution to global warming, given that the U.S. is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Militaries elsewhere also disproportionately consume energy supplies; according to one estimate, worldwide militaries collectively use the same amount of petroleum products as Japan, one of the world’s largest economies. In the case of the U.S., the irony is that the military is presently using vast amounts of oil to fuel a war in Iraq fought at least in part to ensure future American control of oil supplies.
Casting a gendered eye on both militarism and climate change raises a number of inter-related questions. What are the gendered politics of setting strategic and budgetary priorities? How do ideologies of masculinity and networks of powerful men shape defense policies, shield the military from the need to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, and determine that spending on conventional defense is a much higher priority than investing in clean energy sources and technologies?
How does male military culture impact consumer choice via products like the Hummer and sustain wasteful energy-intensive lifestyles?
How does a state of war undermine democratic freedoms, push women out of the public arena and reduce the space for inclusive debate on how to address global warming?
How does militarism multiply and/or intensify women’s vulnerabilities to climate change? In the case of global warming-induced natural disasters, for example, will the risk of sexual violence increase if governments rely on military institutions to supply relief and maintain order?
On the more positive side, how can women’s movements for peace and the environment contribute to a broader vision of climate justice and more practicable solutions that reduce emissions while increasing the incomes and power of poor women and men?
These are but a few of the questions we need to be asking to mount an effective feminist and social justice challenge to business as usual in the climate change arena.
— Betsy Hartmann is the director of the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Recently, she is co-author with Joni Seager of Mainstreaming Gender in Environmental Assessment and Early Warning (UNEP 2005) and co-editor with Banu Subramaniam and Charles Zerner of Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005).
It always amazes me what I can learn from my inbox.