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The Conservatives’ treatment of veterans is hypocritical November 24, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Roger’s note: Support Our Troops (by screwing them after they have killed, been shot at in a place they have not business being,  and come home)!

“Even more shockingly, Mr. Stogran stated, ‘I was told by a senior Treasury Board analyst… that it is in the government’s best interest to have soldiers killed overseas rather than wounded because the liability is shorter term.’”

As the doctor said to my father when he announced my gender to him on the day of my birth in 1941: “CANNON FODDER.”

Gerald Caplan

If the politics of contempt is the hallmark of Stephen Harper’s governing style – for Parliament, for accountability, for critics, for science, for journalists – nothing is more shameful than its contempt for Canada’s veterans. It’s not merely that vets have won the right to so much better. It’s also the flat-out hypocrisy, the unbridgeable chasm between the Harper government’s rapturous rhetoric and its actual policies.

Besides the usual Remembrance Day platitudes, there was the PM at the recent Conservative Convention in Calgary shamelessly boasting that only his party cared about Canada’s “brave men and women in uniform.” Yet precisely one week earlier, Corporal David Hawkins from London, Ont., injured in the field and suffering from post-traumatic stress, was booted out of the military before he was eligible to collect an indexed pension – one of many wounded vets who are being treated so callously.

The ugly truth is that Mr. Hawkins is only one example of the many “brave men and women in uniform” who have been betrayed by the Harper government. And refusing veterans their rightful pensions is only one example of the many heartless ways it has actually treated so many of them.

Indeed, just in the weeks around Remembrance Day 2013, the media has been replete with examples of this absolutely inexplicable phenomenon. In the typical words of Corporal Shane Jones, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan, “We go overseas, we fight for our country, we do what we’re asked and when we come home it’s like we have to start another war all over again just to get the help we need.” That was three days after Mr. Harper’s Calgary speech and exactly one week before November 11.

And on Remembrance Day itself, in B.C., retired Air Force captain Claude Latulippe was among other vets who chose to turn their backs on their Conservative MP at the local cenotaph, “just like the Conservatives are turning their backs on veterans.” This attitude hardly surprises Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent, appointed by the Harper government, who angrily points out that the Harper government’s New Veterans Charter will relegate hundreds of the most severely disabled vets to poverty in their old age.

But lest we forget, Remembrance Day 2013 was no aberration on this front. Remembrance Day 2010, for example, was marked by a farewell J’Accuse! from Patrick Stogran, a 30-year vet and Canada’s first Veterans Ombudsman, also appointed by Stephen Harper but pointedly not reappointed.

“What I am here to do,” Mr. Stogran said, “is to expose to Canadians what I perceive as a system that for a long time has denied veterans not just what they deserve, but what they earned with their blood and sacrifice.”

“It is beyond my comprehension,” he later added, “how the system could knowingly deny so many of our veterans the services and benefits that the people and the Government of Canada recognized a long, long time ago as being their obligation to provide.”

Even more shockingly, Mr. Stogran stated, “I was told by a senior Treasury Board analyst… that it is in the government’s best interest to have soldiers killed overseas rather than wounded because the liability is shorter term.”

Mr. Stogran’s cri de coeur did not come as a surprise to veterans. Over the 2010 Remembrance Day weekend they hit the streets in an unprecedented series of nation-wide demonstrations to publicize their long list of grievances against a government that has made a fetish of its devotion to Canada’s veterans.

Remembrance Day 2012 once again saw a series of public protests by vets against their own government. As reported by Canadian Press, disabled veterans and military widows assembled on Parliament Hill “to paint a stark picture of bureaucratic indifference and red tape that flies in the face of reassurances from the government, which says the care of military families is a top priority….Few of the government’s touted programs meant to help combat veterans find civilian jobs actually help the disabled.”

What does it take for the Harper government to be shamed into action? This Remembrance Day, 2013, many media finally gave the vets’ grievances significant coverage. Besides several news stories, The Globe, for example, published an editorial, two pieces by its own columnists and an editorial cartoon all harshly critical of the government.

There are some indications that the government is finally paying attention, though Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino insists, in quintessential Harperland style, that “a majority of Canada’s veterans receive the support and care they need.” At about the same time, 3,000 to 4,000 citizens took to the streets of Sydney, N.S., (population: 31,597) to support local veterans in protesting the government’s decision to close nine Veterans Affairs Department district offices across the country, including theirs.

Some Opposition MPs have been pressing the vets’ case for some time; Peter Stoffer has been an especially tireless advocate. But surely the Opposition must go further and make this just cause an absolute priority. Shaming Stephen Harper is not an easy task, as years of protest by vets have sadly proved. But surely his betrayal of Canada’s veterans cannot be allowed to continue.

An update on Kimberly Rivera and other U.S. Iraq War resisters November 23, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan, Peace, War.
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From: War Resisters Support Campaign Sent: 23 Nov 2012 21:45:35 GMT Subject: An update on Kimberly Rivera and other U.S. Iraq War resisters
    – please forward to all supporters! – Dear friends,

It has been a period of intensive work on many fronts since the Harper government told Kimberly Rivera and her family they had to leave Canada.

In spite of a national mobilization with events in 8 cities, an op-ed in the Globe and Mail by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in support of Kim, and tens of thousands of people writing letters, faxing, sending emails and phoning Immigration Minister Jason Kenney calling on him to let the Riveras stay in Canada, the Conservative government forced Kim and her family – including two children born in Canada – to leave this country.

But Kim’s case confirmed once again that there is a broad and deep support for the stand that Kim and other U.S. war resisters have taken in refusing to participate in an illegal and immoral war. And we are more determined than ever to build on the support for Kim to give voice to that majority of Canadians who opposed the Iraq War and who want a provision made for US war resisters to stay in Canada.
Below is a brief update on Kim’s situation, and an APPEAL to help the War Resisters Support Campaign continue to mobilize in support of the many other U.S. war resisters who still face the threat of deportation.
On September 17th, Harper government representatives argued in Federal Court that the possibility of Kim being arrested by U.S. authorities was “merely speculative”. The Federal Court took the government lawyer’s argument at face value and denied a stay of removal on the basis that it was ‘speculative’ that she would be arrested and subject to court-martial. On September 20th, Kim and her family voluntarily left Canada, and Kim was immediately arrested at the border to the U.S. She is currently awaiting court martial on charges of desertion. As Kim’s lawyer Alyssa Manning had clearly stated, there was abundant evidence that Kim faced arrest and harsh punishment if returned to U.S. authorities.

Following her arrest, Kim was taken to Fort Drum, N.Y. and shortly after, to a county jail. After several days she was transported to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is separated from her husband and four young children who are in Texas and are missing Kim terribly. In a recent interview, Kim’s husband Mario Rivera explained how difficult it has been for himself and, especially, for the children to be separated from their mother.

“I explained to them that Mommy is away for a while and she will come back as soon as she can. Katie thinks she’s lost and wants to go rescue her. She is anxious and nervous about it. She closes herself off from people as she’s missing her mom real bad… Gabriel too. He misses his mom real bad. He holds a picture of her and kisses it and tries to reach through the picture to grab her.”

Kim and her family are receiving support from the U.S.-based organization Courage to Resist as well as the War Resisters Support Campaign, and there is a dedicated group of supporters in Colorado Springs who visit her regularly at Fort Carson. James Branum, who has worked on many U.S. war resister cases, is Kim’s civilian lawyer. Supporters in the U.S. have been working hard to facilitate Kim’s family visiting her in Colorado Springs.


• There are still many other U.S. war resisters and their families in Canada who are facing the threat of deportation, and we urgently need to continue to build support for them. The Harper government’s attack on the Rivera family has produced a groundswell of support for war resisters in Canada. Many people were disgusted and angered by the scene of Conservative MPs applauding the news that Kim and her family had been forced to leave the country on September 20th. In their push for increasing militarization of Canada, the Conservative government is criminalizing war resisters and silencing anti-war voices. Millions of Canadians disagree with this. The outpouring of support for Kim has shown once again that people care deeply about this issue, and many are prepared to take action for war resisters. We need to keep up the pressure to achieve what two votes in Parliament and a majority of Canadians have demanded: that Canada should enact a provision to allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.

Over the next weeks and months, the War Resisters Support Campaign will be initiating a broad outreach campaign to build on the mobilization of the past few weeks. A signature ad by prominent Canadians including Andy Barrie, Alexandre Trudeau, John Polanyi and many others will publicly call on the Canadian government to stop deporting U.S. war resisters. And we will continue to build the campaign to repeal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s discriminatory Operational Bulletin 202: http://resisters.ca/resources/
To do all of this, WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! Please consider making a contribution to the War Resisters Defense Fund, which will allow us to carry out this work. To donate on-line please click on this link: http://resisters.chipin.com

Or you can send a cheque to:

War Resisters Support Campaign 427 Bloor Street West, Box 13 Toronto, ON M5S 1X7

The stakes are high for those US soldiers who have risked their futures by refusing to participate in a war Canadians rejected. The Harper government threatens to rip apart their families and facilitate their ‘rendition’ to harsh punishment, as they did to Kim Rivera. The Conservatives are determined to close the door on the tradition of Canadian asylum for US war resisters, and to override the overwhelming opposition to the Iraq War, by driving Iraq War resisters out of Canada. But they have NOT succeeded in changing public opinion on either front. That is because of war resisters’ voices, and the movement of people who support them. We need to make sure those voices continue to be heard in the period ahead.

War Resisters Support Campaign – www. resisters.ca416.598.1222wrsctoronto@gmail.com Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s op-ed in The Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/dont-deport-war-resister-kimberly-rivera/article4544856/

——-

War Resisters Support Campaign
Web: http://www.resisters.ca/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WarResisters
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WarResisters

What Happened to Canada? January 30, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized.
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https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/hub.1326407570.html

Roger’s note: this is not really news to us Canadians or anyone else who has been paying attention.

Monday 30 January 2012
by: Chris Hedges, Truthdig                 | Op-Ed

Police confront protesters outside 2010’s G-20 meeting in Toronto, Canada, June 25, 2010. (Photo: G20 Protest Photos)

What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment.

But that was the old Canada. I was in Montreal on Friday and Saturday and saw the familiar and disturbing tentacles of the security and surveillance state. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Accords so it can dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation. It carried out the largest mass arrests of demonstrators in Canadian history at 2010’s G-8 and G-20 meetings, rounding up more than 1,000 people. It sends undercover police into indigenous communities and activist groups and is handing out stiff prison terms to dissenters. And Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a diminished version of George W. Bush. He champions the rabid right wing in Israel, bows to the whims of global financiers and is a Christian fundamentalist.

The voices of dissent sound like our own. And the forms of persecution are familiar. This is not an accident. We are fighting the same corporate leviathan.

“I want to tell you that I was arrested because I am seen as a threat,” Canadian activist Leah Henderson wrote to fellow dissidents before being sent to Vanier prison in Milton, Ontario, to serve a 10-month sentence. “I want to tell you that you might be too. I want to tell you that this is something we need to prepare for. I want to tell you that the risk of incarceration alone should not determine our organizing.”

“My skills and experience—as a facilitator, as a trainer, as a legal professional and as someone linking different communities and movements—were all targeted in this case, with the state trying to depict me as a ‘brainwasher’ and as a mastermind of mayhem, violence and destruction,” she went on. “During the week of the G8 & G20 summits, the police targeted legal observers, street medics and independent media. It is clear that the skills that make us strong, the alternatives that reduce our reliance on their systems and prefigure a new world, are the very things that they are most afraid of.”

The decay of Canada illustrates two things. Corporate power is global, and resistance to it cannot be restricted by national boundaries. Corporations have no regard for nation-states. They assert their power to exploit the land and the people everywhere. They play worker off of worker and nation off of nation. They control the political elites in Ottawa as they do in London, Paris and Washington. This, I suspect, is why the tactics to crush the Occupy movement around the globe have an eerie similarity—infiltrations, surveillance, the denial of public assembly, physical attempts to eradicate encampments, the use of propaganda and the press to demonize the movement, new draconian laws stripping citizens of basic rights, and increasingly harsh terms of incarceration.

Our solidarity should be with activists who march on Tahrir Square in Cairo or set up encampamentos in Madrid. These are our true compatriots. The more we shed ourselves of national identity in this fight, the more we grasp that our true allies may not speak our language or embrace our religious and cultural traditions, the more powerful we will become.

Those who seek to discredit this movement employ the language of nationalism and attempt to make us fearful of the other. Wave the flag. Sing the national anthem. Swell with national hubris. Be vigilant of the hidden terrorist. Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver, responding to the growing opposition to the Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway pipelines, wrote in an open letter that “environmental and other radical groups” were trying to “hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” He accused pipeline opponents of receiving funding from foreign special interest groups and said that “if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further.”

No matter that in both Canada and the United States suing the government to seek redress is the right of every citizen. No matter that the opposition to the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines has its roots in Canada. No matter that the effort by citizens in the U.S. and in Canada to fight climate change is about self-preservation. The minister, in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry like the energy czars in most of the other industrialized nations, seeks to pit “loyal” Canadians against “disloyal” Canadians. Those with whom we will build this movement of resistance will not in some cases be our own. They may speak Arabic, pray five times a day toward Mecca and be holding off the police thugs in the center of Cairo. Or they may be generously pierced and tattooed and speak Danish or they may be Mandarin-speaking workers battling China’s totalitarian capitalism. These are differences that make no difference.

“My country right or wrong,” G.K. Chesterton once wrote, is on the same level as “My mother, drunk or sober.”

Our most dangerous opponents, in fact, look and speak like us. They hijack familiar and comforting iconography and slogans to paint themselves as true patriots. They claim to love Jesus. But they cynically serve the function a native bureaucracy serves for any foreign colonizer. The British and the French, and earlier the Romans, were masters of this game. They recruited local quislings to carry out policies and repression that were determined in London or Paris or Rome. Popular anger was vented against these personages, and native group vied with native group in battles for scraps of influence. And when one native ruler was overthrown or, more rarely, voted out of power, these imperial machines recruited a new face. The actual centers of power did not change. The pillage continued. Global financiers are the new colonizers. They make the rules. They pull the strings. They offer the illusion of choice in our carnivals of political theater. But corporate power remains constant and unimpeded. Barack Obama serves the same role Herod did in imperial Rome.

This is why the Occupy Wall Street movement is important. It targets the center of power—global financial institutions. It deflects attention from the empty posturing in the legislative and executive offices in Washington or London or Paris. The Occupy movement reminds us that until the corporate superstructure is dismantled it does not matter which member of the native elite is elected or anointed to rule. The Canadian prime minister is as much a servant of corporate power as the American president. And replacing either will not alter corporate domination. As the corporate mechanisms of control become apparent to wider segments of the population, discontent will grow further. So will the force employed by our corporate overlords. It will be a long road for us. But we are not alone. There are struggles and brush fires everywhere. Leah Henderson is not only right. She is my compatriot.

McQuaig: Financial elite back in the saddle November 17, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Economic Crisis.
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Linda McQuaig

Toronto Star, November 17, 2009

The good news is that there are still some tickets left for the Fraser Institute’s 35th anniversary gala dinner next Monday night in Vancouver. The bad news is that the tickets – including tables for 10 at $7,000 – will probably all eventually be sold. And that means yet more money flowing into the amply filled coffers of an organization that for 3 1/2 decades has worked tirelessly to cut taxes for the rich, undermine public health care, destroy confidence in public education and prevent Canada from joining the global climate change battle. Amazingly, the rich executives attending the Vancouver gala will all get tax receipts for their tickets, allowing them to further reduce their taxes below the already low levels the Fraser Institute has been instrumental in winning for them. (The effective tax rate on the richest .01 per cent of Canadians – a group that will be out in force at the gala – has fallen by 26 per cent in the past decade and a half, according to Statistics Canada data.) The Fraser crowd will be revelling in the growing power of business in Canada – a significant change from the more egalitarian 1970s, when the institute started up with help from U.S. conservatives like billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife and the John M. Olin Foundation, notes Donald Gutstein in his new book Not a Conspiracy Theory. The crowd next Monday will no doubt be especially thrilled to have dodged a bullet. This time last year, in the wake of the Wall Street collapse, financial elites everywhere seemed under siege. In Canada, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government almost fell after it signalled it wasn’t planning any economic stimulus – only to be saved when Harper talked the Governor General into allowing his minority to survive, even though it had lost the support of Parliament. A year later, financial elites are safely back in the saddle, enjoying a virtual stranglehold over key public policies. Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, argued in The Atlantic last May that in recent decades the U.S. financial elite has essentially captured control of the U.S. government, in much the same way financial oligarchies capture control of Third World “banana republics.” The muscle of Canada’s own elite is evident in the way it has blocked meaningful action on climate change – even though a massive injection of government funds could convert Canada to a green economy while restoring the 400,000 jobs lost in the past year. But that’s not on the Fraser Institute’s agenda. Fronting for Big Oil, it’s been pumping out climate change misinformation for years, generating enough public confusion to allow the Harper government to get away with doing nothing. At a conference in Barcelona earlier this month, some 400 environmental organizations declared Canada the world’s most obstructionist country in global efforts on climate change. The Fraser Institute describes itself as an “independent non-profit research and educational organization.” Sounds like any struggling charity, except that the tax receipts go to ensure that the glittering gala crowd continues to keep the country on a tight leash. Five years ago, then opposition leader Stephen Harper lavished praise on the institute in a video clip shown at its 30th anniversary gala in Calgary. This time, with Harper carefully cultivating a more moderate image, he may not be on the jumbotron. But members of Canada’s financial elite won’t be worried; they’ll know their man’s on the job.

Linda McQuaig’s column appears every other week.

lmcquaig@sympatico.ca

Tories to Flush Canada-led Water Monitoring Program November 15, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada.
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Council of Canadians/London

OTTAWA – The Harper government wants out of a Canada-led UN program that monitors freshwater around the world – a move being slammed as the latest Tory abdication of global causes once championed by Ottawa.

Experts say they’re shocked Canada would abandon a database it designed and has managed for 30 years, just as dwindling water supplies emerge as a critical issue. Environment Canada spokesman John Carey says the Global Environment Monitoring System is no longer a priority.

“We would like someone else to take it over,” he said of the database that tracks trends from 2,700 water-quality monitoring stations in more than 70 countries.

Twenty-four United Nations agencies rely on those details to assess how increasingly precious freshwater sources are being managed.

Canada has most recently co-ordinated the system from labs at the University of Saskatchewan and in Burlington, Ont.

The previous Liberal government set up a five-year trust fund worth $1.5 million that was allowed to expire last year, Carey said in an interview.

“We considered within the department at our management board last spring whether there was any opportunity to replenish the trust fund. And we could not find one. We began considering looking for a partner then.

“We like the program. It’s just not a priority for Environment Canada.”

Funding for three related salaries and “a relatively small amount of operating dollars” for the database will continue “until we find someone else to take it over,” Carey said.

Errol Mendes, a University of Ottawa law professor and former adviser to the United Nations, says the timing is baffling.

“What will be the most important commodity in the second half of this century? It will not be gold. It will not be oil. It will be water. Water is not a question of whether or not you have more money in the bank. It’s a question of whether you live or die.

“And the fact is some of the most critical countries in the world are literally running out of potable, drinkable water – which this institution was supposed to monitor.”

Mendes said the move away from the water system mirrors Canada’s about-face on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada under the Conservatives was one of a handful of countries that refused to support the landmark document, citing concerns it would conflict with existing laws.

The rebuff was in stark contrast to support for the process under the Liberals.

Canadian Maude Barlow learned of the impending water-program pullout less than a month into her appointment as the UN’s first adviser on water issues.

“That Canada would remove this support from this program is just outrageous and an embarrassment,” she said.

“It’s yet another example … that the Harper government is parochial, that it sees its environment commitments really in terms of optics.

“I have people say to me around the world: whatever happened to your country? We used to be able to count on Canada to take stands. And now Canada is in some cases worse than the United States – just absolutely refusing to partake and participate in international programs.”

Germany is among countries reportedly interested in picking up Canada’s slack, Barlow said.

“But why should it move from Canada when it was built on Canadian expertise and technology? When it’s been here for 30 years?”

Monique Dube, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability, is a former research scientist at Environment Canada.

“As a scientist, I’ve used the database myself and I understand the significance of (it) in terms of understanding global water trends, water quality – and how absolutely critical it is.

“If this goes after 30 years of investment, I can tell you … it will take a lot longer than 30 years to rebuild.”

Dube says federal apathy for the program is especially wrong-headed because it costs so little to give Canada major international profile on a vital issue.

“What this gives us in terms of a contribution to global water sustainability is unmatched. So a million dollars is a drop in the bucket for something that has such impact.”


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