While the outcomes touted by BI proponents sound appealing, leftists should consider that BI is a profound concession to the neoliberal order that entrenches the commodification of virtually all areas of social and political life. Additionally, there are many BI proponents who support the policy for explicitly right-wing reasons and expect that it would facilitate deep cuts elsewhere in the social safety net, resulting in a deepening of government austerity. Leftists should consider the dangers of inadvertently selling the public on a policy that could end up as another weapon to be deployed against the public sector.
The driving force of capitalism is the relentless drive to commodify all aspects of life, society and even nature itself, transforming everything within its grasp into something that can be exchanged for money. BI reinforces and legitimizes this process. Its advocates substitute the traditional left criticism of capitalism — the prioritization of private profit over human need — with an analysis that suggests the problem with this system is merely a question of how to better distribute the wealth that society produces.
However, within a capitalist society, wealth and deprivation are co-constitutive of one another. The purchasing power of a business owner or member of the professional managerial class is predicated upon keeping labour costs elsewhere as low as possible. BI advocates evade the implications of this, failing to recognize that market forces, as well as conservative politicians, would quickly whittle away even the most ambitious BI to a barely subsistence-level support system.
The most enduring and successful leftist program in Canadian history, single-payer health insurance, offers a different approach. Instead of topping up Canadians’ bank accounts and sending them into the private marketplace for insurance, Medicare was intended to remove the need for cash altogether by socializing the costs of insurance and tightly regulating the behaviour of health-care practitioners. As economist Armine Yalnizyan writes, “the advantage of improved public services is that they also make things cheaper for everyone (through scale and by eliminating for-profit exigencies and tax obligations), while improving the quality of life and making incomes and markets matter less.”
In lieu of a BI, then, leftists should advocate for more direct market interventions to reduce or eliminate the costs associated with other vital human needs, such as housing, education and care work. The exploding costs and subpar quality of these critical sectors of the economy drains more purchasing power from the working class than a BI could hope to restore, and unlike a BI, these government interventions would actively seek to mitigate the predatory nature of contemporary capitalist enterprises. While a BI would leave people vulnerable to rising rents and prices, programs that use coordination and planning along the lines of Medicare operate by doing the most possible to eliminate the need for money altogether.
The typical progressive rejoinder is that BI can complement rather than replace these expansions of the social safety net. While this vision is popular with some leftist commentators, the most prominent advocates of a BI in Canada believe that a necessary prerequisite for implementation will be the elimination or severe reduction of existing welfare provisions.
A significant figure in the BI debate in Canada, Hugh Segal, is a lifelong Tory and former chief of staff to Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney. Segal, whose advocacy was critical to the Ontario government’s aborted BI experiment in 2018, champions the idea as a solution to bloated government bureaucracies that aligns more closely with the proposals of arch-conservative economists such as Milton Friedman.While describing the outcome of a BI experiment conducted in Manitoba in the 1970s, Segal even notes that “there was almost no reduction in hours worked except for women who chose to stay home with young children, elderly parents or disabled family members, thereby unburdening the state of health or daycare costs.”
This is an outcome that some feminist scholars, such as Margot Young, have anticipated, though they do not share Segal’s enthusiasm for downloading government costs onto women, pushing them back into the domestic sphere of life while their male counterparts venture into the workforce. When left to the private market, elder and child care in Canada have exploded in cost, and households relying on BI to survive will not have the resources to consistently access these services. In many such cases, the outcome will be women “choosing” to remain at home to care for their families.
While cash stipends have proven highly effective when they are properly targeted, the left cannot indulge itself in the fantasy that it will have the power to dictate precisely how policies that it advocates for are implemented. Expanding public services reliably pushes back against the logic of the market, whereas BI represents a deep concession to the ongoing capitalist takeover of every aspect of social life. As the anti-poverty activist John Clarke writes, it is a “progressive cloak” over a “neoliberal dagger.” Leftists ignore this warning at their peril.
Legal experts have written to Ontario Minister of Energy, Northern
Development and Mines, Greg Rickford, calling for an immediate halt to
mineral staking and permitting processes in the province on account of
difficulties remote Indigenous communities face in responding to
consultation and permitting processes when they are already under
extreme pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The experts, recognised authorities in Aboriginal law, Crown-Indigenous
relations, and natural resources and environmental law, write:
“In many of these communities the pandemic is placing unique burdens on
leadership and community members. The challenges remote Indigenous
communities face with respect to housing, health care, and clean water
exceed those faced by the rest of Ontario. Pre-existing social
emergencies have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and already depleted
resources are stretched thin. In our view, the pandemic requires an
immediate cessation of mineral staking and permitting processes in order
to avoid placing additional burdens on the limited resources in these
communities during a time of crisis.”
MiningWatch Canada supports this position and has written to Minister
Rickford to learn his response.
We used to be able to say that Canadians who didn’t believe that their governments and police forces were racist against Indigenous and Black peoples, were simply unaware of the facts. Numerous public commissions, inquiries and investigations were undertaken to get at the heart of what appeared to be obvious racism in policing.
We learned through testimony, facts, research and statistics, that yes, Canadian police forces are racist. The media also exposed countless examples of police officers who targeted Indigenous and Black peoples with racist and sexist acts of brutality, sexualized violence and death. When politicians, journalists and commentators continued to deny that racism exists in Canada, it became apparent that white privilege and supremacy are well rooted in Canadian society.
In March of 2020 in the U.S., Breonna Taylor, a 26 year-old Black woman, was killed by police who forced their way into her home and shot her eight times. In May 2020, George Floyd was killed by a white police officer who kept a knee on his neck for almost nine minutes until he died, despite his pleas that he could not breathe.
Police brutality and shootings of Indigenous and Black peoples in the United States is nothing new. The very same officer who killed George Floyd — Derek Chauvin — also killed an Ojibwe man, Wayne Reyes, in 2006. In 2014, white police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked Eric Garner to death, despite him telling police he could not breathe. The video went viral and sparked nationwide protests against racism and violence in policing.
Anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in policing takes many forms, from racial profiling, carding, planting evidence and over-arrests; to harassment, physical beatings, sexual assaults and killings. Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people and one-and-a-third times more likely to be unarmed than white people. Each year, the top spot for those killed by police in the U.S. alternates between Indigenous and Black peoples.
The Guardian newspaper’s database, The Counted, which monitored the number of people killed by the police in the US noted that in 2015, it was Black people who occupied the top spot of those killed by law enforcement. In 2016 it was Native Americans. Police killings are so prevalent that in 2019, there were only 27 days when people were not killed by police. Police violence should be considered a national public safety crisis.
Despite decades of public education, advocacy, lobbying, lawsuits and protests, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous police brutality continues with relative impunity. The American Civil Liberties Union reported that over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2015, thousands of police-involved killings resulted in only 54 officers charged with a crime and the majority of those were cleared or acquitted. The Washington Post‘s extensive analysis found that the majority of those few police officers charged were white, and the majority of those they killed were Black. Those who were actually convicted of a crime spent as little as a few years or a few weeks in prison. Prosecutors interviewed for the Post investigation admitted that they were reluctant to charge police, even if they believed they committed a crime.
The long history of police racism and violence against Indigenous and Black peoples is well documented but aggressively denied by police officers, police chiefs and their unions. Many town mayors also stand in defence of the police despite evidence of police brutality and lawlessness. Historically, the mainstream media has defaulted to reporting on official police statements and narratives of deadly police interactions, no matter how bad the situation looks. In the vast majority of cases, the Black or Indigenous victim is presented in a criminal light with negative descriptors of their life. Conversely, police officers are typically portrayed as heroes. Rarely are readers presented with the criminality or past violations of the officer in question.
However, with the advent of social media, mainstream media is no longer able to uphold the the narrative of hero cops protecting communities from bad guys anymore. Thousands of people with cell phones capture photos, audio recordings and videos of police violence that counter statements by law enforcement after brutal beatings or killings of Black and Indigenous peoples. This citizen-collected evidence has the ability to not only better inform the public than mainstream media, but has been one of the few tools able to push back against the Blue Wall of Silence — the informal rule and practice within police forces to never report on the criminality of fellow colleagues, their corruption, or brutality. This code is one of the reasons why so many community groups demand that police officers wear body cameras, a compulsory measure some forces have resisted.
While protests continue in the U.S., they have now spread to Canada and even worldwide in places like Australia and the United Kingdom. The response from many mainstream media commentators in Canada has been to characterize the growing number and intensity of protests as violence and looting. Citizens acting in solidarity have taken to the streets and have been countering this narrative with photo and video evidence of white officers engaging in unprovoked acts of violence — smashing windows, vandalizing cars and property, and even invading peoples homes without warrants. Even large groups of white men have been seen roving the streets with baseball bats.
Yet, so many in the mainstream press cannot seem to bring themselves around to presenting police officers in a negative light. In this way, the Blue of Wall of Silence extends well beyond police forces and unions into governments and the media. The oft-repeated mantra of “we are not a racist country” provides comfort to many Canadians that racism and white supremacy are uniquely American problems.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and violence in policing is as big an issue in Canada as it is in the U.S. But don’t take it from me. Let’s just look at the facts. CBC conducted an extensive investigation into fatal encounters with police in Canada over a 17 year period from 2000-2017 and found that while Black people are less than three per cent of the population, they were nine per cent of those killed by police. Indigenous peoples were less than four per cent of the population but more than 15 per cent of those killed by police.
In places like Toronto, Black people are 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police. Indigenous peoples are twice as likely to be killed by police than white people and in Quebec, almost 10 times as likely. In places like Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Indigenous people represent 58 and 62 per cent of those killed by police, respectively. In a ten-day period, during a global pandemic, the Winnipeg Police killed three Indigenous peoples in separate incidents, one of whom was a 16 year-old girl, Eisha Hudson.
Racism is a crisis in Canada and it is killing Black and Indigenous peoples. The same CBC investigation, Deadly Force, found that of the 461 cases analyzed, only 18 officers were ever charged and only two were convicted. The Toronto Star‘s exposé on Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU), a team which probes police-involved deaths and serious injuries, questioned whether cops are above the law. The Star’s investigation showed that out of 3,400 SIU investigations, criminal charges were laid against only 95 police officer — just 16 have been convicted, and only three have seen any jail time. In other words, less than 0.5 per cent of officers were ever convicted.
The Winnipeg Free Press has also exposed many problems with the Winnipeg Police Service, which has created numerous “roadblocks” for the province’s Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), and undermining journalists’ ability to conduct investigative reporting. Blocking interview requests and refusing to turn over documents is likely part of the reason for less than a handful of charges against officers in the IIU’s history.
We should not ignore the high levels of corruption that are common in police forces, either. One of the RCMP’s own investigations found hundreds of cases of corruption, including perjury, falsifying evidence, and officer involvement in organized crime. Add to this the RCMP’s culture of bullying, sexual abuse and harassment which has resulted in multiple class-action lawsuits totalling well over one billion dollars. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented the physical and sexual assaults of numerous RCMP officers on Indigenous women and girls, along with instances of sexual harassment and abuse by police of Indigenous women during strip searches. The calls by Black and Indigenous women in Canada and the U.S. to end sexualized violence in policing have largely been ignored.
What’s more, numerous justice inquiries and commissions have found that racism is pervasive in Canada’s entire justice system; from police to prosecutors to judges. Decades ago, the Marshall Inquiry found the police and justice system were systematically biased against Black peoples and Indigenous peoples, but little has changed.
How much evidence is enough? The National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls found Canada guilty, as a matter of fact and law, of both historic and ongoing genocide. Canada’s complex web of discriminatory laws, policies, practices, actions and omissions targeted Indigenous women and girls for an insidious form of racialized and sexualized violence that is the direct cause of their high rates of abuse, exploitation, disappearances and murders.
Racism and hatred of Indigenous and Black peoples in Canada infects all levels of governments and agencies, police forces and many segments of society. CSIS has reported a significant jump in far-right activity and notes that at the heart of right-wing extremism is racial hatred. In fact, CSIS considers white supremacy more dangerous than threats from radical Islam. The current research on white nationalist and supremacist groups shows they specifically target Black and Indigenous peoples with violence.
It is clear that racist violence is a form of terrorism that has plagued Canada for decades, even centuries. White supremacy is the basis of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, hatred and violence by governments, police forces and many segments of society.
Blatant denials that racism exists in Canada serve only those who benefit from it, but silence is also violence. Silence is complicity that allow police abuses to continue unabated and in the case of Black and Indigenous peoples, to get worse.
So, yes Canada, we have a racism crisis in this country and it is killing Black and Indigenous peoples. Let’s stop pointing fingers at the U.S. and take steps to end the loss of life here in Canada.
Pamela D. Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. She teaches Indigenous law, politics and governance at Ryerson University andis the Ryerson chair in Indigenous governance. This article was first published in Canadian Dimension.
Last month, the province’s energy regulator suspended a wide array of environmental monitoring requirements in the entire oilpatch that were originally imposed as licence conditions. The regulator said the decisions were made to protect workers and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Companies no longer have to monitor fumes released by burning, or look for and repair leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Surface water need no longer be tested, unless it escapes into the environment.
Most soil and groundwater monitoring is gone. In-situ oilsands operations no longer have to conduct any wildlife monitoring or research. Reclamation and wetland monitoring is also suspended.
Although some operations must resume Sept. 30, most suspensions have no end date.
Severson-Baker said that as the province releases guidelines on how businesses can safely reopen, it should do the same for environmental monitoring.
“They haven’t articulated a plan,” Severson-Baker said.
“Our assumption is that there is a plan. We’re pretty interested in understanding [it].”
He said signatories anticipate being able to comment on it before it’s implemented.
Jess Sinclair, a spokeswoman with Alberta Environment, said in an email that requests to defer monitoring will be considered by experts with the department and the regulator, and any temporary deferrals will be considered for low-risk monitoring.
“We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and these short-term relief measures. Work is underway to determine when exemptions will be lifted.”
Severson-Baker said delaying monitoring longer than necessary will have an economic as well as environmental cost.
In addition to concerns it would create among investors, he said, it would keep small consulting firms that do monitoring work from completing contracts out in the field. Other businesses are already opening, he noted.
“We hope the same clearance is extended to these sorts of [monitoring] activities.”
The letter was signed by the Pembina Institute, the Mikisew Cree First Nation, the Fort Chipewyan Metis, the Smith’s Landing First Nation, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Alberta Wilderness Association and the Environmental Law Centre.
ALBERTA LIBERAL LEADER DAVID KHAN (PHOTO: DAVID J. CLIMENHAGA)
If the passage of Bill 1 by the Alberta Legislature last month demonstrates anything, it’s the contempt in which Premier Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party hold the rule of law.
Mr. Kenney and his well-behaved UCP caucus know that Canada’s Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Not that Canadian Conservatives have ever liked it very much, especially the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that was arguably Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s crowning achievement when he made it possible to stitch Canada’s original British-made constitutional documents into a truly Canadian thing in 1982.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in 2017 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).
Mr. Kenney and the UCP know perfectly well their so-called Critical Infrastructure Defence Act is unconstitutional and unlikely to survive a challenge in the country’s courts — which, again to the irritation of the current generation of Canadian Conservatives, remain impartial, independent and apolitical.
The Cabinet has certainly been so advised by the government’s own competent lawyers, although the problems with the bill are plain enough you don’t have to be a “trained lawyer,” as they sometimes say of our justice minister, to know it.
Premier Kenney and the UCP have chosen to ignore this, though, confident that they can use the law unconstitutionally now to suppress free speech and free association to help achieve their most controversial goals. They doubtless reckon that later they can score a few points with their base by complaining about “activist judges” meddling with their plans.
Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan provided a simple and useful primer on the key problems with Bill 1 in a Twitter thread on Wednesday.
In addition to his political role, which of necessity must happen outside the Legislature, Mr. Khan is a constitutional lawyer specializing in Indigenous rights issues.
He didn’t mince his words in his tweeted critique of the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which was passed by the Legislature on May 28 but has not yet been proclaimed into law. It is, he said, odious, draconian and authoritarian.
“It criminalizes peaceful public protests/marches down city streets – like the #BLM protests in #YYC yesterday,” he tweeted.
It does this through classic of legislative overreach — for more serious than in the federal gun-control legislation Alberta’s UCP MLAs have been excoriating with that very term.
It attacks Albertans’ free speech, free assembly and free association rights to gather in public to protest by defining “critical infrastructure” too broadly — making it mean essentially anything the cabinet decides wants it to, including city streets and sidewalks.
Then it slaps heavy penalties anyone participating in a crude attempt to criminalize lawful protest.
“When #Bill1 becomes law *ANYONE* participating in (or even helping organize) peaceful freedom of assembly/speech protests/marches on city streets (even on sidewalks!) *FOR ANY REASON* could be *ARRESTED OR CHARGED
“This *CRIMINALIZES* Albertans’ Charter rights of freedom of thought, belief, opinion & expression, peaceful assembly & association, whether expressing themselves or protesting on private OR *PUBLIC* land.”
Arguing Bill 1 is likely to succumb to a Charter challenge, Mr. Khan continued: “However it will take years to challenge #Bill1 in our courts–& meanwhile it puts a dangerous chill on Albertans’ rights to express themselves & protest peacefully about important causes.”
There’s much more, and I recommend taking the time to read the rest of Mr. Khan’s comments.
As the government knows, existing laws are up to the task of protecting critical infrastructure in Canada. But to rely on laws that that are within the limits in our Constitution is to honour the rule of law.
Naturally, there is an element of posturing for the UCP base as in most everything Mr. Kenney does. More importantly, though, it’s clear he wants to circumvent the Constitution’s protections of our fundamental freedoms for as long as he can get away with it.
A government serious about the rule of law would have sought judicial review of the draft legislation from the Supreme Court of Canada before ramming it through the Legislature. That is what the top Court’s reference procedure is for.
A government more serious about the rule of law could also have acknowledged that the law was in violation of the fundamental rights provisions of the Charter and expressly invoked Section 33, the Notwithstanding Clause, as Quebec did in its religious symbols law.
The UCP could still do that by amending Bill 1 to add a Section 33 declaration.
But that would require them to show the courage of their convictions and respect the rule of law. It would also show the country and the world that despite Mr. Kenney’s constant tut-tutting about “dictator oil,” Alberta is on its way to being a kind of dictatorship itself.
Of course, this isn’t about writing good laws that Alberta needs. As Mr. Khan pointed out, Bill 1 is redundant, unneeded and basically stupid.
Bill 1 is about domination and division. And when the court strikes it down, it will be an excuse for Mr. Kenney to puff himself up and whine about unelected judges.
With the UCP, instead of good government we get bad theatre. No wonder, as the polls show, the audience doesn’t much like our leading man any more.
Police watchdog warns against drawing conclusions before all the evidence is in
A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that the Smithers RCMP officer in this photo ‘falsely arrested, assaulted, and battered’ a Wet’suweten elder after he mistakenly suspected her of shoplifting. (Smithers Interior News)
A spate of police-involved deaths and serious injuries in north central B.C. is causing growing concern. At least three of the incidents involved Indigenous people.
Over a three-day period, between May 29 and 31, B.C.’s police watchdog announced three new probes into police incidents in small towns in north-central B.C.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is now looking into one police-involved death in Kitimat, as well as serious injuries to two people in Williams Lake and Prince Rupert after their contact with RCMP officers.
Last week, in a separate case, the IIO asked Crown counsel to consider whether five Mounties be criminally charged over an Indigenous man’s death in 2017. The man was in police custody in Prince George when he died.
“There’s a very cavalier and cowboy attitude of the RCMP, and quite frankly, they’ve been getting away with this for far too long,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “We need to take a close look at what’s going on in the U.S. and be more vocal and take these matters to the streets.”
Protest over death of man suspected in break-in
On Monday, about two dozen people gathered outside the Burns Lake RCMP detachment to do just that. They were protesting the death of Everett Patrick in police custody in April.
Patrick, 42, a member of the Lake Babine Nation, was suspected of breaking into a downtown business in Prince George.
The RCMP say that after a lengthy standoff with an Emergency Response Team, Patrick was arrested with the help of a police dog team.
Police say Patrick was taken to hospital, then back to the RCMP detachment, but died later after returning to the hospital.
“I want these cops to stop abusing our people,” said Darlene Patrick, Everett’s aunt, at Monday’s protest.
Patrick was at the Burns Lake rally in her nephew’s home community, alongside elders in COVID face masks and protesters who spread out around the police station as they physically distanced.
Rally organizer Cheryl Casimir said she welcomed the three RCMP officers who stood in the parking lot to listen. She said the gathering helped her feel less helpless.
“Even if it’s just a small village like Burns Lake, I think it has to start everywhere,” Casimir said.
Charges against 5 Prince George Mounties under consideration
Everett’s death in police custody is still being investigated by the IIO. So is the case of Dale Culver, who died after being arrested in Prince George in 2017.
Culver, a 35-year-old Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en man, was accused by police of “casing vehicles” and fleeing from officers on his bicycle. According to the IIO, Culver was pepper sprayed, had trouble breathing and died later in hospital.
“All members in the Prince George incident have returned to active duty,” said Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet, senior media relations officer with the RCMP’s E Division.
Another officer, who the court determined tackled and sat on a Wet’suwet’en elder in Smithers in 2014, is also still on active duty.
Late last month, six years after the incident, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Const. Darrin Meier “falsely arrested, falsely imprisoned, assaulted and battered” Irene Joseph.
Meier wrestled with Joseph after mistakenly suspecting the senior citizen of shoplifting.
“I was wrongly accused by this RCMP and for him to do this to me wasn’t right at this age,” Joseph said after she won the lawsuit.
The court awarded Joseph $55,000 in her civil lawsuit against Meier and the attorney general of Canada.
‘You can’t draw conclusions’: IIO
The IIO’s chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald cautions people against drawing conclusions about police-involved deaths and injuries before all the evidence is in.
“You can’t draw conclusions til you’ve gathered all the evidence and properly analyzed it,” he said recently.
But Grand Chief Phillip says these cases appear to be part of a disturbing pattern.
“For the RCMP, there are no consequences. It’s absolutely disgusting. It’s infuriating. In the George Floyd case, the officers were immediately fired,” said Phillip.
Philip says RCMP must be held to account.
Mary Teegee, executive director of child and family services at Carrier Sekanni Family Services says her Indigenous agency recognizes many police officers are “virtuous and work well with Nation members.”
But Teegee calls police brutality “colonial violence we endure each and every day in Canada.”
Betsy Trumpener, Reporter-Editor, CBC News, has won numerous national and provincial journalism awards, including a national network award for radio documentary. Based out of Prince George, B.C., Betsy has reported on everything from hip hop in Tanzania to B.C.’s energy industry and the Paralympics.
‘There’s no rules’ for evaluating an underground storage site, spokesperson says.
OTTAWA — More than 100 public interest organizations, environmental groups and others are calling on the federal government to suspend all decision-making regarding radioactive nuclear waste disposal.
In a letter to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, they describe Canada’s current nuclear waste policy as “deficient,” saying it must be improved in consultation with the public and Indigenous peoples.
Among the signatories are numerous groups in northern Ontario, including Thunder Bay-based Environment North and Keep Nuclear Waste Out of Northwestern Ontario.
The letter follows a February report from the International Atomic Energy Agency which recommended that the government “enhance” its existing radioactive waste management policy.
The IAEA said the policy framework “does not encompass all the needed policy elements nor a detailed strategy” required for long-term nuclear waste management.
The signatories say their request is urgent because the regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, is pressing ahead with licensing decisions on a number of radioactive waste projects.
“Fearing Canada’s deficient radioactive waste framework will imprint itself on decisions affecting the health and safety of future generations and the environment, signees urged Canada to provide leadership, and establish sufficient guidance and federal policy,” they said in a statement Tuesday.
The groups also want Ottawa to establish objectives and principles to underly a nuclear waste policy, and that the government identify “the problems and issues exposed by existing and accumulating radioactive waste.”
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is currently studying potential future underground nuclear waste storage sites in the Ignace area and South Bruce in southern Ontario.
Brennan Lloyd of North Bay-based Northwatch said NWMO’s search for a future repository is “part and parcel” of concerns about Canada’s overall approach to managing radioactive waste issues.
Nuclear waste disposal isn’t the only pressing matter, Lloyd said, but “we have lots of concerns about the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, their operation…going back to 2002 when the Nuclear Waste Fuels Act allowed the industry to create the NWMO.”
She added that “the lack of a solid set of rules around radioactive waste, we believe, does affect how the NWMO has conducted itself, but even more importantly it may affect the review process if the NWMO ever actually arrives at a site that they can in some way present as having the support of a host community.”
According to Lloyd, there are no rules as to how such a proposal would be evaluated.
She said that in 1996, the federal government presented a Radioactive Waste Policy Framework that’s less than a page long, and it’s problematic that “almost 25 years later, that’s still all we have in the way of real policy, strategy, rules around radioactive waste at the national level.”
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission staff have recently proposed regulatory documents, Lloyd said, “which are really very general descriptions of how they might go about issuing a licence for various activities. And they really lack rigour.”
She said two of the five regulatory documents the CNSC plans to bring forward next month deal directly with nuclear waste burial.
“One is around how you would assess the long-term performance of a deep geological repository, and one is about how you would characterize a site that was being considered. And both of them are just incredibly weak documents,” Lloyd maintained.
“The dividing line is between ‘shall’ and ‘should.’ The CNSC documents are all ‘should’ or ‘may.’ Which means there’s no rules.”
Lloyd and the other signatories to the letter ask Minister O’Regan to instruct the CNSC to stop developing radioactive waste management and nuclear decommissioning documents until new, overarching policies and strategies are in place.
There was in incredible turnout to protest police violence. The pictures speak for themselves.
The irony, of course, is that the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald “Holding Court” is still displayed steps away in front of the Picton Library with no explanation of his role as the architect of Indigenous genocide, his role as instigator of the political murder of Metis leader, Louis Riel, and the architect of the theft of Indigenous resources enforced by a miltarized police. Nation-building for Macdonald ment the development of a Constitution for white male Christians; a constitution that embeds cultural genocide for First Nations.
Canadians came out by the thousands Friday for protests and vigils for the black lives lost at the hands of police.
The demonstrations follow days of protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Minneapolis on Friday banned chokeholds and neck restraints by police and now requires officers to try to stop any other officers they see using improper force.
Prosecutors on Wednesday expanded their case against the officers who were at the scene, upgrading the charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck, to second-degree murder, and charging three others — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — with aiding and abetting murder.
All four were fired last week. Chauvin’s treatment of the handcuffed Floyd spurred worldwide protests and calls for police reform.
WATCH l Calling for police reform in Canada:
A video of an aggressive arrest in Nunavut that sparked an investigation is among the recent arrests in Canada sparking questions about use of force, police funding and interactions with black and Indigenous Canadians. 2:05
Friday’s marches come after rallies of a similar theme have taken place already this week in Saskatoon, Sydney, N.S., Burlington, Ont., and Calgary, among other locations.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday urged demonstrators to “take care of themselves” and follow public health guidelines such as physical distancing as much as possible and using hand sanitizers.
Read on to see what’s happening around Canada.
Thousands of demonstrators chanting “I can’t breathe” and “Enough is enough” flooded through downtown Ottawa on Friday afternoon, demanding an end to police brutality and anti-black racism.
The No Peace Until Justice march began on Parliament Hill and wound up at the U.S. Embassy. The embassy’s Twitter account said its lights would be dimmed for nine nights in Floyd’s honour, acknowledging that the gesture was small and not enough.
Demonstration organizers handed out protective face masks and bottles of water to participants and encouraged physical distancing.
The event touched off some online controversy about who was welcome to attend.
Ottawa police were not invited at the request of the No Peace Until Justice organizers. After Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson noted his intention to be there, the group said he was invited via Twitter by unaffiliated individuals. “The No Peace Until Justice organizers did not reach out to him or his office.”
The group said it opposes all streaming and the taking of videos or photos of the demonstration to protect the identity and safety of those attending.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the Ottawa demonstration. Trudeau declined to say Friday morning whether he would attend, but arrived on Parliament Hill mid-afternoon with security guards, wearing a black cloth mask to protect against the coronavirus.
He also clapped and nodded his head when a speaker said that everyone must choose to be either “a racist or an anti-racist.” Some in the crowd urged him to stand up to U.S. President Donald Trump.
A similarly themed Toronto march proceeded south from the Bloor-Yonge subway station to City Hall.
Delsin Aventus, one of the organizers of the rally, told CBC Toronto that protesters hope to create dialogue between the community and civic leaders about issues of racism and violence.
“Today started as a march in solidarity both with lives lost both to racism and unfortunately some to police,” he said.
As the protest wound through city streets, the crowd stopped near the intersection of Bloor and Yonge to sing happy birthday to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician from Kentucky who was shot eight times by narcotics detectives who knocked down her front door in March. Today would have been her 27th birthday.
Organizers said the purpose of the gathering is to honour those lost to police brutality in Canada and around the world, and encouraged people who were attending to respect public health protocols by maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres because of COVID-19.
They also asked people who couldn’t be there in person to join from home.
“If physical attendance cannot be met, we ask that you light a candle in memory of our siblings lost to white supremacy and police brutality,” organizers said in the Facebook event page. “We ask that attendees bring posters and signs with names lost and keep their names in your prayers and thoughts. We as a collective are grieving.”
Abdi Gure, the vice-chair of the African Canadian Resource Network in Saskatchewan, said the silence was very emotional.
“I just can’t imagine what George felt, when a police officer had his knee … more than eight minutes and he was crying for help and for a chance to breathe, I can’t imagine how painful that is,” said Gure.
Gure said problems in Canada and Saskatchewan are not as severe as those in the United States, but are still prevalent.
“We are meeting every day young people who are isolated from the community, who are born here, raised here in Saskatchewan, in Canada, and who can’t still belong to this country,” said Gure.
There were cheers from the crowd when Regina police Chief Evan Bray said, “Black lives matter.” He said he felt the need to say he was sorry.
“What I’m promising you today, and what our police officers that are here today are promising you, is that we need to use our positions, whether we are in the police service, whether we are members of the community, whether we are people that are demanding change, it doesn’t matter, we need to come together as a family, as a community,” said Bray, who took a knee at the end of his speech.
In downtown Vancouver, thousands rallied at the Olympic cauldron for a peaceful protest aimed at addressing racism in Canada’s school system.
“We want people to understand what’s going on here,” said Jacob Callender-Prasad, the protest’s lead organizer. “It’s not just a myth. Canada does have large racial inequality.”
Callender-Prasad said he believes some protests have turned violent in the United States because citizens have reached a breaking point. He hopes the protests in Canada will help stop that feeling.
Elsewhere in B.C., more than 300 people observed an eight-minute moment of silence outside Prince George City Hall.
The event focused on the issue of black lives, as well as the recent deaths of Indigenous people in encounters with police.
In Kelowna, hundreds gathered in Stuart Park. Some attendees took turns on the microphone to share stories of lived experience or solidarity in regards to the fight against racism.
Another powerful speaker at the Kelowna #BLM protest. Speaking to a crowd of about 300 people. One of many people sharing stories of lived experience, solidarity or calling for change.
A large gathering marched through downtown Moncton, N.B.
Many people wore face masks, and some carried signs that read, “No Justice No Peace,” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Hundreds marched through the streets of Charlottetown. Before the march, demonstrators were encouraged by the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. to dress in black in a gesture of solidarity. Keeping COVID-19 health concerns in mind, demonstrators were also reminded to wear masks and gloves and to remain some two metres apart.
“It’s been hard, I can’t lie. It’s been a real emotional roller-coaster, you know, since the news broke of George Floyd. Another name we’ve had to add on the back of the T-shirt that we’re all wearing,” said demonstrator Tara Reeves.
“We need to address the systemic racism and the genocide that our country has been built on. It’s bigger than one more black person being murdered by the police.”
In the Nunavut capital, demonstrators stood in a circle and took an eight-minute-and-46-second moment of silence.
“We want to bring that conversation to the forefront and create the space to have an honest conversation,” Clayton Greaves — a board member of Nunavut’s Black History Society, which helped organize the protest — said about anti-black racism.
“We know that these conversations are not easy…. We’ve been very comfortable for very long time, and we’ve seen the appalling situations happening, and everybody would agree in their separate corners that this is wrong.”
Greaves said racism, colonialism and oppression are issues felt in Nunavut, and thanked Inuit partners for giving the black community the space to express this. Greaves added that Nunavut has a rich black history, something the group wants highlighted.
Hundreds of people gathered at Waverley Park in Thunder Bay, Ont., for a Black Lives Matter rally on Friday afternoon. The gathering was peaceful, with participants carrying signs with messages like “Black Lives Matter” and “Racism is a Canadian Problem,” while chanting “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, participants wore face masks, and the City of Thunder Bay had earlier painted circles on the grass to encourage physical distancing.
No city officials made speeches, and police presence was minimal, with cruisers blocking off nearby streets for traffic control.
“This is definitely a historical moment. You can see the change happening before your very eyes. You can see that all the protests in America are working,” said Jayda Hope, one the rally organizers, on CBC News Network.
“We’re definitely making progress, but this is just the beginning. We need people to know that as we make progress, we are getting there, but we have a long, long, long list of people who need justice, and it doesn’t stop here.”
A rally was held at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, which organizers emphasized the protest would be peaceful.
“Our goal is to fight for equity and that’s across all systems that have historical trauma,” said Morrel Wax, who is with Black Lives Matter YEG, one of the organizing groups.
“We’re hoping that those folks are ready to hear that those privileges are ready to be checked and challenged and that we all … just figure out a path forward.”
Thousands of people take part in a rally along Spring Garden Road in Halifax Monday, June 1, 2020, held in solidarity with similar events in the U.S. and around the globe after the death of George Floyd and other people of colour in incidents involving police. – Eric Wynne
I wasn’t at the big rally in Halifax on Monday, like thousands of you were, so I’m going by word-of-mouth, pictures and video.
But maybe I’ve seen and heard enough to hope that the scene on Spring Garden Road, which we know has been repeated in countless cities across the United States, Canada and the world, will be one that reverberates through time.
Nothing will make us forget the nightmare of the past few days: the slow-motion strangulation of George Floyd, the ensuing riots and stormtrooper police wreaking chaos on street after American street, Donald Trump, alternatively cowering in the White House then, after the pepperspraying of protesters, emerging to stand before a church, clutching a bible like a paunchy, scowling Zarathustra.
But on Monday there wasn’t a punch thrown, a shop window broken, or a protester concussed by a police baton as the people of Halifax, by some estimates half of them nonblack, stood, for the most part, a safe distance apart.
Then, as one, they took a knee, just as they did yesterday in London, Washington, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, to observe a moment of silence for black people everywhere who have unjustly lost their lives.
“It’s epic and monumental that y’all white people came out,” Rodney Small, the director of the One North End Community Economic Development Society, told me afterward.
After being accused of assaulting a Halifax police officer at age 15 he waged a four-year court battle before being vindicated by the Supreme Court of Canada.
“Halifax definitely stood up” at the rally, he said.
Black people have undergone centuries of exploitation “in a capitalistic race-based society that we have never been given a chance to take part in,” he added.
But the symbolism of Monday’s event, with its coming together of peoples, “will be felt many generations from now when that little girl on her dad’s shoulder is living in a society that allows her to make equitable decisions.”
When I asked Irvine Carvery, an older generation of black activist, about the whole event he called it “the continuation of half a century of protest by people in resistance.”
Age and a number of underlying health issues mean that, in the time of the pandemic, crowds are anathema to Carvery. So, like me, he knows what he knows about the protest from second-hand sources.
But he, too, was happy to see so many white faces join in the rally because only they can end racism towards African Nova Scotians.
“I think that the wheels of change are turning,” Carvery added, even if, in his view the struggle to end racism is far from over, here and everywhere.
Carole Symonds, who at 20 will be in the fight for decades to come, was downtown in Halifax on Monday evening, along with her cousin and two friends, all of whom, she said, have experienced some level of police brutality.
Symonds’ expectations were limited when she arrived to take a symbolic knee at the appointed 7:45 p.m. But when the moment came, “you could hear a pin drop in the silence.”
Symonds, holding her cousin’s hand, and praying for her metaphorical brothers and sisters, felt the deep power of the occasion.
Standing in front of Park Lane mall she heard her cousin, Derico Symonds, who has led peaceful protests calling on Halifax Regional Police to ban street checks after a 2019 report stated that blacks are six times as likely as whites to be stopped by Halifax police, say that the rally showed Halifax is paying attention to racism, even if that’s only the start.
Then she joined the chant, begun by her cousin, calling for “no more” deaths like George Floyd’s.
So, she noticed, did the white folks, for so long her people’s oppressors, now carrying signs of support, and, seemingly, acting as allies.
“No one could tell me that my God wasn’t there that day,” Symonds said, sure that Monday’s gathering was “a new beginning” and “a day my people will remember forever.”
I hope that she, Carvery, and Small are right.
I hope that in the future we will look back and say that the world experienced a seismic shift after the terrible events of last week.
And that historians will conclude that a spark, lit in hundreds of individual rallies like the one in Halifax, fed the flame of change.
I hope for something else too. That people like me have seen the light.
That the event in downtown Halifax shows that white people finally have some semblance of understanding of what the residents of Africville, and their descendants, mean when they say that the pain from the razing of their historic community is as fresh as if it happened yesterday.
That we, at last, get the anger of black men and women consistently pulled over by the police.
That, though there is no way we can ever know what it feels like, we at least have awoken to the injustices that so many of our fellow citizens endure every waking day.
That we finally understand that our indifference has caused so much pain — and must never forget what Irvine Carvery said: that after being the problem for so long only we can be the solution.