SK Universities Attack Workers’ Rights

The academic communities at Saskatchewan’s two universities have started a petition to their Boards of Governors demanding that the Governors instruct their negotiating committee to return, “in good faith,” to the table with their support workers. The CUPE 1975 workers set up picket lines on both the Regina and Saskatoon campuses after mediator Doug Forseth said the sides were too far apart. CUPE says,

CUPE 1975 members prepare for job action – Conciliation
talks fail to produce contract settlement

October 30, 2007 05:44 PMSASKATOON/ REGINA: Conciliation talks involving CUPE 1975 members at the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan broke-off last night after the employer rejected the union’s proposed offer of settlement.* The union served the employer with the required 48-hour strike notice this afternoon.

“We’re very disappointed conciliation talks failed to resolve this contract dispute,” says Brad McKaig, chair of the union’s negotiating committee. “Our union negotiating committee made significant movement on virtually every issue on the table, including monetary items, in an effort to conclude a collective agreement, but at the end of the day talks broke down over the major issues of benefits, performance reviews and wages.”

The U of S says,

CUPE Rejects University of Saskatchewan’s Final Offer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 26, 2007

Conciliation talks ended last night as CUPE 1975 rejected the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) final offer. Government’s conciliator, Doug Forseth adjourned the process in view of the Union’s lack of movement on the remaining issues.

The University offered a 17% wage increase over three years, which included wage, pension and benefit increases.

To which the CUPE workers have responded, one worker asking, “Was your calculator plugged in?”

The broader academic community has begun a petition drive demanding the Board of Governors insist its negotiating committee go back to the table “in good faith.”

The rampant right wing administration stomps on its lowest-paid workers, the ones who clean up the shit, and takes a 10% pay hike for itself.

It’s a sign of the times, isn’t it?


Harper nuking Canada

Begin forwarded message:

Subject: [Rad-waste] Unresolved questions remain about environmental implications and costs. (nuke waste)


Nuclear energy endorsement may be linked to tar sands and climate change pressure

Unresolved questions remain about environmental implications and costs.

Ottawa, June 18, 2007 ­ Why is the minority Conservative government proceeding on nuclear energy at a time when it is fighting to regain public support after a difficult spring?

Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced Friday the Harper government’s endorsement of nuclear power and its approval of going ahead with storing high-level radioactive waste underground.

“Really, what this will allow is a permanent storage and a deep geological depository,” Lunn said. “This is an important decision for the government of Canada. As you know, the nuclear industry is very, very important.”

For years, the lack of long-term disposal plans has hobbled the nuclear industry, which has lobbied heavily for burying waste deep. Canadians, however, have always said no when asked to have nuclear waste disposal sites in their communities. At the news conference, Lunn dismissed concerns raised by environmentalists about the risks of nuclear energy as well as economic concerns about safe storage plans.

“This is just the beginning of a long process but they (the industry) will be able to begin that process today. It will allow the fuel to be retrieved as technology moves forward and, more importantly, allow it to be monitored continuously as it’s going through the storage process.”

The announcement makes sense for three key corporate sectors: tar sands, nuclear and construction/development. With the government under pressure to do something about greenhouse gas emissions related to the growth of oil extraction in the Alberta tar sands, nuclear seems an ideal option.

In the June 8, 2007 issue of Executive Intelligence Review, Rob Ainsworth, of the arch-right-wing Canadian LaRouche Youth Movement reports, as have others, of “a project in the Alberta tar sands to construct two 1,100-megawatt reactors, providing power to the area, as well as heat and steam for industrial purposes.” It takes an enormous amount of energy to extract oil from tar sands, and nuclear is been touted as a way to greatly reduce the amount of oil burned to support the process.

Every aspect of nuclear power development is both enormously expensive for governments and profitable for the corporations involved. “Most of the top engineering and heavy construction firms serve the energy sector in one form or another,” writes Vance Cariaga in Investor’s Business Daily. “Some go straight to the wellhead by offering design and management services for oil and gas production. Others build hydrocarbon processing plants, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and nuclear power facilities.”

The licensing of more reactors would also be a great boon, at potentially greater public expense, to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, which has received subsidies of $17.5 billion over 50 years, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout.

The Conservatives’ announcement allows existing reactor sites to continue accumulating waste indefinitely, and it initiates a search for an “informed community” willing to host a “deep repository” for burial of wastes. It will also explore moving wastes to a central location for temporary, shallow underground storage and recycling of nuclear fuel.

As Susan Riley writes in today’s Ottawa Citizen, “Apart from the experimental nature of the proposed solution, many hurdles remain ­ notably, finding a community desperate enough to become a nuclear dumping ground. It has been long supposed that some remote northern town would be the lucky winner, given the technological preference for disposing of the waste deep in the Canadian shield. But recent research suggests the sedimentary rock underlying much of southern Ontario would also be suitable. That said, the prospect of a bidding war between Oakville and Rosedale appears unlikely.”

With these plans, the Harper government has made an unequivocal commitment to nuclear power and ignores difficult issues of radioactive wastes that have never been resolved by scientists or the Canadian public. Nuclear power remains vulnerable to human carelessness, as well as deliberate acts of terrorism or other sabotage. Even the best-designed radioactive waste repository will leak and expose future generations to radiation. The federal environmental assessment panel concluded in 1998 that from a social perspective, the safety of deep geological disposal has not been adequately demonstrated, has never been officially contradicted or disproved.

“From a technical perspective, safety of the AECL concept has been on balance adequately demonstrated for a conceptual stage of development, but from a social perspective, it has not,” the report stated. “As it stands, the AECL concept for deep geological disposal has not been demonstrated to have broad public support.”

Nuclear power has left unresolved environmental problems in Canada. Uranium mining has killed Saskatchewan lakes. Processing uranium has created a permanent toxic legacy in the town of Port Hope, Ontario. CANDU reactors routinely release radioactive carbon dioxide and radioactive water contaminated with tritium during their operations, polluting air and water and jeopardizing human health, as confirmed last week in a report commissioned by Greenpeace Canada.

The government announcement reflects recommendations in a report by the government-appointed Nuclear Waste Management Association, which is largely made up of nuclear industry or ex-industry personnel. The Sierra Club of Canada’s Emilie Moorhouse said, “Its interests are not public health. Its interests are the promotion of this industry.”

Related individuals, organizations and significant events
Intensity-based targets promote oil industry frame

Harper Conservative vs. Public Values Frame
Long process / Unstoppable expansion
Green / Unresolved public safety questions
Economical / Massive subsidies

Links and sources
Feds back underground disposal of nuclear waste , Canadian Press, June 15, 2007
Susan Riley, Going nuclear by stealth , The Ottawa Citizen, June 18, 2007
The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
Canadian LaRouche Youth Movement.
Rob Ainsworth, Will Canada Join the Rail and Nuclear Renaissance? , Executive Intelligence Review, June 8, 2007
Vance Cariaga, Heavy Construction Firms Busy Helping Thriving Energy Sector , Investor’s Business Daily, May 22, 2007
Tyler Hamilton, Hot granite and steam could clean up oil sands, Toronto Star, May 30, 2007
Environmental Assessment Report on High Level Waste Disposal Concept, 1998
Chinta Puxley, Radioactive tritium in Great Lakes puts kids at risk: study , London Free Press, June 13, 2007
Canadian Nuclear Subsidies: Fifty Years of Futile Funding, Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout

Posted: June 18, 2007 at


Rad-waste mailing list

Regressive Cons

Over here you’ll find Law Prof Lorraine Weinrib’s piece, reprinted with permission from the Law Times. It’s an article about Harper and his Justice Minister addressing the Charter’s 25th anniversary. Here’s a sample from it:

Conservatives cling to the old Bill of Rights

Stephen Harper overlooks courts’ role in interpreting Charter.

Dateline: Tuesday, May 15, 2007

by Lorraine Weinrib

Monday, 14 May 2007 The 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Charter, in mid-April, presented the rare opportunity for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to join with many others in expressing their views of the Charter, its place in our constitutional order, and the effect it has had on Canada in its first quarter century.

Neither took advantage of invitations to the formal academic and professional events held to mark the occasion, where they might have presented an expansive account of their views. Their limited comments in the House of Commons in question period are therefore all we have. These statements, despite their brevity, reveal quite a lot.

2475ad.jpgBoth Harper and Nicholson offered partisan responses to questions seeking a comment marking the occasion. Nicholson, for example, stressed that the Conservative party “has an enviable record with respect to human rights in our country” and needed no “lessons from anybody in this Parliament on the subject of human rights.”

He cited the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights and the extension of the franchise by Conservative governments to women and Aboriginal Canadians, indeed the full extension of the franchise, as elements of that “proud history.”

As to his own government’s accomplishments, he noted the federal victims’ ombudsman, stable funding for legal aid, and action on the Chinese head tax. He concluded by noting, “We did things that the Liberal party was never able to get done.”

Harper also took a partisan stance. He stressed the difference between his government, which actually promoted rights, and the Liberal record, which he described as catering to lawyers’ concerns and pocketbooks.

Like his minister of justice, the prime minister referred to the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights as the legislated beginning of Canadian human rights protection. He then cited a long list of his own government’s accomplishments and summed up in these words: “The government is acting on rights, unlike the record of that government which did not get the job done.”

His examples were noteworthy: protecting the rights of women and children from acts of criminality, extending the right to vote for the Senate, fixing the historic injustice of the Chinese head tax, the Air India inquiry, the residential schools agreement, and signing on to the United Nations declaration on the rights of the disabled.

These statements tell us a lot about the government’s official position on the Charter.

First and foremost, according to Harper and Nicholson, the Charter fulfils itself through legislation and government action, not through Charter litigation and judicial rulings. Many of the comments described were made in response to criticism of the government’s cancellation of the Court Challenges Program. In that context, the emphasis on this government’s aversion to lawyers’ concerns and lawyers’ work is significant.

Second, Harper and Nicholson consider the Charter’s subject matter to be “human rights” broadly conceived, rather than “constitutional rights” as embodied in its particular guarantees, principles and institutional arrangements….

Shoal Lake #40 First Nation Denied Access To Homes

From the Inbox:

Shoal Lake #40 First Nation Denied Access To Homes: Launches Peaceful Walk For Their ‘Freedom Road’


Elderly, Sickly, Expectant Mothers, Young and Old Denied Access to Homes, Community Survival Jeopardized

The Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation Community was swept aside onto a man-made island in 1917 so that the city of Winnipeg residents could drink clean water. In the latest development the besieged community is about to be blocked from using their only remaining access point located on the neighboring First Nation. The Iskatewizaagegan 39 First Nation has sent a large bill for the ferry landing that Shoal Lake 40 has used for years. They also posted memos advising that any vehicles parked at the landing who have not paid ‘fees’ will be towed away beginning April 28th at 7:00 am at the owner’s expense, -including the Shoal Lake 40 medical vehicle. Faced with no options to access their homes the Shoal Lake 40 members decided at a recent community meeting ‘enough is enough’ and have launched a peaceful walk to bring attention to their plight.

Roughly 250 people live on the man-made island and they must park their vehicles at the ferry landing during freeze up and break-up.

A feeling of siege and oppression lingers heavily in air at the local elementary school, daycare, band office and service offices in the isolated community. Shoal Lake No. 40 government and members of the community have created a plan of action to create national awareness of their situation by organizing a ‘Walk for our Freedom Road’ to the city of Winnipeg. The determined marchers will travel overland to the Trans Canada Highway and in about 5 days they plan to arrive at site of the proposed ‘Canadian Human Rights Museum’ at the Forks. The community is astounded to know that the Prime Minister has allotted millions to a pretty building that claims to honour on water and Aboriginals while the aboriginal community of Shoal Lake 40 is literally dying because of Winnipeg’s water and Canada’s failure to stand up for the Band’s basic human right to access their treaty lands.

Shoal Lake is the water source for the City of Winnipeg and for that very reason Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation has become a man made island. (see maps attached.) While the

City of Winnipeg residents can drink clean water directly from their taps, Shoal Lake on the other hand has been on boil water advisory for 11 years and to date do not have a water treatment plant because of the lack of road access. Shoal Lake continues to plead for the government to provide the funding necessary to build their access road but to no avail.

With the latest move of their neighbours who have had to give up their land for years, Shoal Lake 40 people are now backed into a corner and feel they have no alternative but to walk for their Freedom Road and demand that Canada live up to its claim to support and protect human rights.
Canada expropriated over 3000 acres of Shoal Lake 40 Reserve and construction related to the City of Winnipeg water intake chopped the remaining land into three isolated pieces.

The walkers are camped out half an hours drive from the city. We are currently organizing support in Winnipeg. Email or if you can offer any help. Put “Support for Shoal Lake Walkers” in your subject heading, please.

Action: Ceasefire

From the inbox:

Prime Minister Harper,

I am deeply saddened by the news that six Canadian soldiers have died during a military offensive in Afghanistan. This brings the total number of Canadian soldiers killed to 51 since the invasion in 2001, and 43 of those deaths occurred in only the last fourteen months.

I do not support this military role for Canada, and urge your government to pursue a diplomatic solution to end the war as quickly as possible.

Add your name.

Quebec Election: Disappointing for Women

Fewer women in the National Assembly will not be good for women from the new minority government in Quebec.  We know that the more women are represented over 30 percent in political institutions,  the better their issues are handled.  With that critical mass now gone, it will be interesting to see what happens for women in Quebec.  From the Inbox:

Last night’s Quebec election means there are fewer women in the National Assembly. Of Quebec’s 125 provincial seats, only 31 now are held by female MNA’s –or 24.8 per cent.

At dissolution, Quebec had been first in Canada, with 38 women of 123 occupied seats or 30.89 per cent.

Prince Edward Island’s legislature now is 25.92 per cent female: and Ontario’s 25.24 per cent female. An election coming Oct. 10, 2007 in Ontario is an opportunity to improve women’s poor record in politics in Canada.

Louise Paquet, of Le Collectif feminisme et democratie, forwarded the new Quebec number. She will issue a more detailed report later today.

On Getting Re-elected

Well, PMS is certainly desperate for that Majority, isn’t he?  Remember all the boo-boos we at P’n’P pointed out along the way?  Well, he went ahead and made them despite public outcry, declaring them to be right for Canadians, blah-blah-blah.  But when the polls started looking a little poorly for him and his band of Reform-a-Tories, he started shapeshifting.

Now look at him!  He’s gone green (and included monies for E85 cars in the budget because the plant is close to Flaherty’s riding)!  He’s dumping tonnes of money into the provinces (attempting to buy votes in Ontario and Quebec with transfer payments)!  He’s making noise about investing in childcare (but it’s really a cut because he has yet to replace all the money he’s taken from it).  He’s re-investing money in women (but won’t put equality back into the mandate of Status of Women Canada).  I could go on.

But I won’t because there’s enough here to show that all he’s doing is all for show.  He is a cold-hearted and calculating man who is desperate to be re-elected.   If we allow him his wish, we will lose all he has promised and more.  North American Union will proceed very quickly, mark my words, and we will be one step closer to being a fully fascist state.

Further Update: SWC Sit-in

BC women seem to be making a bit of headway with Minister Oda.  Here’s the latest:

BC Coalition for Women's Equality  and Human Rights in Canada

For Immediate Release

Minister Oda Agrees to Meet with Women's Organizations in BC

(Vancouver, 19 January, 2007)  Representatives of the BC Coalition for
Women's Equality and Human Rights in Canada, an ad hoc coalition of women's
organizations, met with Minister Bev Oda by teleconference for one hour this
afternoon. This hastily scheduled meeting was convened as a result of a
demonstration and a brief occupation of the Status of Women Canada office in
Vancouver yesterday. 

Coalition representatives expressed disappointment with Minister Oda's
explanations and defense of the Harper Governments decisions to:

-slash $5m dollars from the SWC budget
-close 12 of 16 regional offices of SWC
-remove women's equality from the program mandate
-make research, advocacy and lobbying ineligible for funding
-cancel the Court Challenges Program
-refuse to move forward on proactive pay equity legislation
-cancel the Pan-Canadian child-care program
-fail to move forward on its CEDAW obligations.

In the face of Oda's defense of these decisions, the Coalition is determined
to redouble its efforts to have them reversed. 

Minister Oda agreed to meet with representatives of BC women's organizations
to discuss the Harper government cuts, the changes this government has
introduced and its failure to move forward on women's human rights. No date
has been fixed for this meeting. The Coalition asked that it take place as
soon as possible as the government cuts take effect on March 31. Given that
the House will be in session January 29, representatives advised Minister
Oda that they were available to meet evenings or weekends in order to ensure
that the meeting takes place as expeditiously as possible. 

Cecily Nicholson, of Vancouver Status of Women, noted that thousands of
women across the country have expressed their dismay about these decisions.

"And our concerns are shared." says Fatima Jaffer, spokesperson for the
Coalition. "Provincial and Territorial ministers also highlighted their
dissatisfaction with Minister Oda's leadership. They decided not to invite
the Minister to their meeting early February in Toronto to plot a national
strategy because they say she shows so little interest in women's issues."

- 30 -

For more information, please contact:  Shelagh Day, 604.872.0750, Shauna
Paull, 604.209.5776, Fatima Jaffer, 604.838.3599.

Sit-in for SWC

It’s an Action Day today and Vancouver women have done it up right, occupying the Status of Women Canada Office there.

Women Reclaim Their Rights 

For Immediate Release

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Sit-in at BC/Yukon Status of Women Canada Vancouver Office

Vancouver - Women in Vancouver are currently occupying the BC/Yukon Status
of Women Canada (SWC).  On the heels of a successful rally against federal
cuts to equality rights, earlier today, 15-20 women are demanding that the
Harper conservative government:

.   reinstate the $5 million which as been slashed from Status of Women
Canada budget
.   withdraw the decision to close 12 of the 16 Status of Women Canada
regional offices 
.   return "equality" to the Women's Program mandate while ensuring that
research, lobbying, and advocacy are eligible for funding
.   reinstate the Court Challenges Program so that equality rights test
cases are accessible
.   adopt proactive pay equity legislation
.   implement the promise of a nation-wide accessible childcare program
.   insist that Canada honours and fulfills its CEDAW obligations

SWC National has been notified of the sit-in and the Vancouver office awaits
a response.

The women resisting the cuts and closures, who are occupying the office,
encourage women to engage in similar sit-ins at other SWC office across
Canada.  These women also welcome others to join them at the sit-in to
'reclaim women's rights' which have been attacked.


Media Contacts:

Fatima Jaffer: 604-838-3599
Benita Bunjun: 778-558-6504

E. May Back-peddling

Elizabeth May does not *get* it! She’s blown it for the Greens!

I am one who worked towards women’s reproductive freedom in the 80’s. I rejoiced in Justice Bertha Wilson’s words in the Supreme Court decision that overturned the Criminal Code of Canada restrictions on abortion in 1988. I am greatly disheartened that May and the Green Party of Canada have re-opened this issue. Though they spout a (weak) pro-choice policy, they — and May, in particular — appear to have no respect for my right to control my body.
Furthermore, try as she might to do otherwise in in her response to Rebick, May makes a religious argument, not a moral one. And Canada, thank goodness, has managed to keep the Church and the State separate. Shouldn’t we try to keep it that way?

I have to wonder if the socially conservative will ever find peace. Is it not clear that so long as we have a society where children are considered a liability, where women are abused and mistreated simply because they are women, where the wages for parking lot attendants are more than childcare workers, where isms abound, there can be no discussion around abortion?
May’s talk to the Catholic nuns, it seems to me, was nothing more than politicking, vote-grabbing. Now she’s back-peddling. And, by recording her talk and broadcasting it, the Green Party of Canada has opened their doors to social Conservatives looking for a new home. Even more politicking and vote-grabbing. And, as always, it’s on the backs of women, at the expense of hard-won women’s rights.
I am appalled, not only with May, but also with myself, for thinking that she could make a difference for women in Canada, for thinking I could support the Green Party of Canada. Hah! It’s just more of the same-old, same-old.

Well, until you turn to the provincial Greens where the Leader, Sandra Finley, is a pro-choice feminist, no ifs, ands, buts, or maybes about it.