Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stephen Harper on Kyoto

"Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations."

Check it.

"We are slowly dying in here"

A few months back, I wrote about the absolutely unconscionable treatment of Security Certificate detainees at Canada's "Guantanamo North." If case you didn't catch that column, here it is.

The short story is that Canada is holding people WITHOUT CHARGES and with NO ACCESS TO THE EVIDENCE AGAINST THEM. Sorry for the screaming caps, but they are definitely merited in this situation.

Anyway, the latest update is that two of the detainees are on a hunger strike to highlight the horrific way they are being treated. And the Canadian government still doesn't give a crap about them ... so please read the press release below and take action.

I will be so ashamed to tell my children about this chapter in Canada's history. I hope it ends soon.

Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada(416) 651-5800, tasc@web.ca

January 30, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"We are slowly dying in here..."
Weekend Scare Underscores Very Real Danger of Sudden Death for Hunger Striking Detainees at Canada's Guantanamo North. Still No Medical Monitoring After Two Months Without Food

JANUARY 30, 2007 -- "We are slowly dying in here," Mohammad Mahjoub says over the phone on day 67 of his hunger strike, day 56 for Mahmoud Jaballahand Hassan Almrei. "Our situation is very bad."

The three men, held indefinitely under the much-criticized security certificate regime of secret evidence and deportation to torture, are kept at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC), dubbed Guantanamo North.

Despite last Thursday's visit by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, who did not meet with the detainees, there has been no negotiation with the men, and no effort to end a critical situation that could turn deadly at any time.

NO MEDICAL MONITORING

Indeed, the detainees' lives are on the line as staff at the facility play a dangerous game of roulette: despite considerable medical literature spelling out the need for daily medical checks of hunger strikers who have passed day 10 without food, medical staff have NOT conducted a single physical check on any of the detainees, who are subsisting on water and juice.

... Stockwell Day did not get a full picture when he visited Guantanamo North. He was unable to taste the daily humiliation the men face at the hands of guards, nor to hear what it is like to be denied medical treatment for things like Hepatitis C, blood in the urine, or a double hernia.

Full press release and action alert here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

STOP THE SURGE!!!

Call-out from NOWAR-PAIX

STOP THE SURGE!!!

All over the world, people will demonstrate on Jan. 27 in solidarity with the US Peace Movement to call on the US government to stop the Bush administration from sending more troops to Iraq. The newly elected Democratic Congress, now in power because of the unpopularity of the war in Iraq, is reluctant to refuse funds for Bush's escalation.

THE WORLD MUST LET THEM KNOW THEY HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT!

1PM, Saturday, 27 January
Sussex and York (US Embassy)
Ottawa

Bring your signs, banners and noise makers. Gather near the US Embassy, corner of Sussex and York. We will march through the Market, distributing fliers, ending at the US Embassy, Sussex and Clarence where we will have an open mike for your statements, songs and poems. (Keep in mind that children are welcome!)

NOWAR-PAIX
For more information,
info@nowar-paix.ca
www.nowar-paix.ca later today

Monday, January 22, 2007

Hasn't he suffered enough?!?

As part of my day job, I monitor and write about the integration of Canada's economic/military/security policies with the United States. Sometimes it feels like those issues are far-removed from peoples' every day lives, and I find it challenging to try to make that connection clear for my audience. But this is like a sucker punch in the gut. Last year, I had the privilege of hearing Maher Arar speak about his experiences battling the Canadian government to clear his name. And now this. Unbelievable. Unconscionable.

Maher Arar to stay on U.S. no-fly list: letter
from CTV.ca

The United States will keep Canadian Maher Arar on its security watch list.

Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have written a letter to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.

The letter says the two have reviewed the U.S. government's secret file on Arar. They think he should still be on the list.

The two said their decision is based on information obtained by U.S. authorities, independent of anything supplied by Canada.

"We want to ensure that this U.S.-derived information has been shared with Canada, and that both countries have an understanding of the facts. To this end, we welcome an opportunity to participate in a confidential meeting with appropriate Canadian officials at their earliest convenience," the letter said.

Day had raised the Arar issue during a visit to Washington last week. Day's position is that Canadian officials see no reason why Arar shouldn't be able to visit the United States.

Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained in New York while returning from a holiday in Tunisia. U.S. officials sent him to Syria, where he spent 10 months in prison.

His Syrian jailers tortured him into making a false confession about terrorism links.

Justic Dennis O'Connor conducted an inquiry into the Arar case. His first report, issued Sept. 18, cleared Arar. He found the RCMP supplied wrong information about Arar to U.S. authorities.
More to come ...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Supreme Court rules against Little Sister's

This is really too bad. With the Court Challenges program gone, it will now be virtually impossible for people or small businesses to take these kinds of human rights complaints to court.

In a 7-2 ruling, the Court refused to order advance funding to a Vancouver gay and lesbian bookstore, saying the challenge to Canada Customs is too narrow and insignificant to the broad public interest to justify such an unusual move. [...]

In the broader picture, however, a wide spectrum of groups had seen the decision as potentially reaching far beyond the issue of censorship. They saw it as potentially offering a vital leg up to any litigant who was attempting to take an important issue to court yet lacked the financial backing.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Making policing work for our values

Gareth Kirkby from Capital Xtra has been circulating this message. We need more queer folks in Ottawa to get involved with community policing issues!

Making policing work for our values

PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY

We all know that policing in Ottawa has come a long way from two decades ago when members of the force were harassing gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans people. And it’s made major leaps from the days when violence against us was ignored by the force, and there was no dialogue between our communities and the force. The Hate Crimes Unit takes anti-queer crime very seriously. There is an ongoing two-way dialogue through the liaison committee to the queer community. Individual officers are almost always respectful now in their interactions with our community.

But of course, there’s always room for progress and you have a perfect opportunity to speak up for even better community policing at an open-mic meeting with the police and liaison committee.

It’s being held this coming Mon, Jan 15 at city hall, in the Colonel By Room, 2nd floor (110 Laurier Ave) from 5:30pm-8:30pm. Here are just a few of the issues I’ve heard people speak out about. Perhaps they’re the kind of issues you want to raise. Perhaps you have other issues.

The list below is intended to provoke you to think about what you believe Ottawa’s police service should or should not be doing, and how our community should relate to the force.

Could the liaison committee be made more representative of the diverse cultures within our community?

Today, there is strong trans representation on the liaison committee (a major advance over the past few years), but little representation of gay men, of sexual minorities (leather, SM, kink, park sex aficionados, etc) no representation from the bathhouse or bar operators for example. Perhaps you could volunteer to join?

Why did the liaison committee create a sub-committee to address public-sex issues? How can we shut it down? Our community has a long and proud tradition of transgressive expressions of sexuality; shouldn’t we be able to expect our liaison committee to speak up in support of sexual minorities within our community?

Cameras are being put throughout the park system. How do we guarantee that they won’t be used to harass people enjoying consensual sex?

How do we educate the city’s bylaw enforcement officers to not harass members of our community when they hold hands while walking in the park? And how do we stop them from more strictly enforcing the law against groups putting up queer-themed and punk-themed posters on poles?

How can the gay community help stop police harassment of sex trade workers? Now that police are more respectful of our community, should we not be demanding the same for other sexual minority communities, especially prostitutes?

How can we help lend support to a four-pillar approach to drug addiction, along the lines of the successful experiment in Vancouver? How can our community, our liaison, work to support and expand harm-reduction approaches like crack pipe programs, needle exchanges, safe-injection sites and so on?

How can the police force be made a comfortable enough place that gay men come out? So far, few if any gay officers have come out. Police culture can be a hostile place for a gay cop, though lesbians are coming out.

There are so many other possible topics for a good townhall meeting. Please come out and voice your opinion.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sex workers are our neighbours

Hello dear readers,

I back now after a couple of weeks of much-needed rest. I might be slow to re-start the blog engine, but here's a taste of what I've been thinking about lately. My latest column for Capital Xtra focuses on how sex workers are treated in my neighbourhood and by the arm of the law.

To read the full report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights' solicitation subcommittee, click here.

And check out the website of two amazing sex workers' rights groups -- Stella (Montreal) and the Sex Professionals of Canada.