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Oct. 23, 2014: Members and supporters of Pimicikamak Cree Nation rallied at Manitoba Hydro's Winnipeg Headquarters to explain the reasons for their occupation of the Jenpeg Generating Station. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Oct. 23, 2014: Members and supporters of Pimicikamak Cree Nation rallied at Manitoba Hydro’s Winnipeg Headquarters to explain the reasons for their occupation of the Jenpeg Generating Station. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Yesterday, after a week-long occupation of the Jenpeg Generating Station, representatives of the Pimicikamak Cree of Cross Lake brought their protest to Winnipeg. Community members and local supporters rallied at Manitoba Hydro’s downtown headquarters to pray, sing and tell their story to Winnipeg media.

They began with a prayer and followed with a moment of silence and an honour song for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the young reservist murdered in the recent attack on Parliament Hill. Then representatives explained what led the community to evict Hydro staff from the Jenpeg housing complex and to occupy the generating station.

In a statement circulated on her behalf, Chief Cathy Merrick invites Winnipeggers to empathize.

“Imagine if the once pristine waters in the lake by your cottage became murky and the shoreline continually washed away. Imagine your favourite childhood camping sites eroded right off the map, your industries undercut, your favourite golf course denuded, your ancestors’ graves dug up, and your place of worship defiled. Imagine if you had to constantly fight for compensation and mitigation, while paying monthly bills to the victimizer.”

According to Merrick, the Pimicikamak are asking for “a public apology, a revenue sharing arrangement, environmental cleanup, a say in how water levels are managed, and aggressive Power Smart programs to reduce our bills.”

Here is my video report:

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Winnipeg, Oct. 16, 2014: Robert-Falcon Ouellette speaks with students following a forum on youth issues at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Winnipeg, Oct. 16, 2014: Robert-Falcon Ouellette speaks with students following a forum on youth issues at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Photo: Paul S. Graham

This Wednesday, I’m voting for Robert-Falcon Ouellette. I believe he offers the best combination of progressive ideas and personal characteristics of all the candidates. Having voted in every Winnipeg civic, provincial and federal election since the 1970s I’ll go even further – Robert is the most promising candidate for mayor (or any other office) we have seen in a generation.

Robert proposes sensible ideas for fixing Winnipeg’s infrastructure and knows how we’ll pay for them. His plan to renew Winnipeg Transit is both practical and visionary. His proposals for standing up for indigenous women and girls will save lives. He’s serious about cleaning up City Hall and he walks the talk: unlike his competitors, he lists his contributors on his web site, in real time. As a grandfather, I’m pleased with his many creative ideas for a child friendly city and for a city our grandchildren will thank us for when they are old enough to vote.

There’s much more I could say about Robert’s platform. Visit his web site (links below) and judge for yourself. While I have your attention, I’d prefer to talk about Robert the man.

Born on Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Robert grew up poor. His father suffered from alcoholism. He’s been hungry and homeless and knows what it is like to live on next to nothing. Statistically speaking, he should be dead, in jail or poor.

Instead, Robert has defied the statistics that come with being born aboriginal and poor in Canada. At 37, he directs Aboriginal Focus Programs at the University of Manitoba. He, his wife Catherine, and their five children live in a comfortable home. During 18 years in the Canadian Forces he earned a Bachelor of Education degree, two Masters degrees (music and education) and a PhD in educational anthropology.

Robert credits his success to his mother’s sacrifices and the support he received from a high school teacher. However, without his own considerable intelligence, hard work and self discipline he would not have come this far.

Robert is youthful and energetic, but thoughtful and mature. He’s self confident, yet modest. He’s self-aware but not self-absorbed; without exception, he treats everyone with genuine interest, respect and warmth. He communicates fluently in English, French and Cree. He likes to laugh, dances a pretty good Red River jig, sings on key and plays a mean piano.

Robert says he wants to be “a mayor for everyone.” Not content with cleaning up City Hall, he aspires to unite a city that is divided along racial, ethnic and class lines. This is a tall order, but if anyone can, it’s Robert-Falcon Ouellette.

A poll came out this morning that puts Robert in third place with the support of 14% of decided voters. This is a remarkable achievement for a candidate who was completely unknown when he declared his candidacy in late May.

The two front-runners, Brian Bowman and Judy Wasylycia-Leis, are in a statistical dead heat with 38 and 36 percent of the decided vote respectively. With 29% of those polled in the undecided category, this race is too close to call.

I expect Robert’s supporters will feel considerable pressure to abandon him. “Vote strategically. Don’t waste your vote,” we will be advised. We’ll be warned that “it’s the only way to stop ___________ (pick your favourite ‘villain’).”

I don’t accept these arguments. For starters, a careful analysis of the front-runners’ programs reveals no significant differences. Neither candidate promises the break with the past we need for Winnipeggers to meet the many challenges we face. Neither candidate has demonstrated the skills or attitudes needed to unite a divided city. One is as good or as bad as the other.

My philosophy is simple: You get what you vote for. The only sensible thing to do is to vote for what you really want. For me that means voting for Robert-Falcon Ouellette.

If Robert wins, great! If he doesn’t, his ideas will have to be taken seriously, especially if he attracts a significant share of the ballots cast on Wednesday. These votes will provide the foundation, not only for future campaigns, but for the movement for real change that must be built and sustained far into the future.

Links

Robert-Falcon Ouellette on the Internet
Robert-Falcon Ouellette on Facebook
Robert-Falcon Ouellette on YouTube
Information for Voters
Winnipeg Mayoral Debates Video Playlist

U9In April 2014, the government that had come into power two months earlier in Ukraine launched what it termed an “anti-terrorist operation” against the people of Eastern Ukraine.

The easterners were opposed to the government’s plans for economic association with Western Europe and were demanding a greater voice in central government decisions.

That political conflict, NATO’s backing of Kyiv against Moscow, and the large-scale humanitarian crisis created by the war have shaken the political foundations of Europe and ushered in a new Cold War.

Roger Annis is a Vancouver-based writer who attended an antiwar conference in Yalta, Crimea on July 6th and 7th. Conference delegates included Ukrainians, Russians and antiwar activists from Europe and North America.

Roger talks in depth about the origins of the conflict, the anti-Russian propaganda offensive in the West, the rise of neo-fascism and other recent developments in Ukraine, and what must be done to bring peace to this part of the world.

The evening was sponsored by Peace Alliance Winnipeg. Roger’s web site, which contains several excellent articles on the Ukrainian situation, is http://www.rogerannis.com/.


Winnipeg, Sept. 23, 2014: CBC News reporter (and panel moderator) Sean Kavanagh snaps a selfie with mayoral candidates at North Centennial Community Centre, proving some journalists will bend over backwards to get the story. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Winnipeg, Sept. 23, 2014: CBC News reporter (and panel moderator) Sean Kavanagh snaps a selfie with mayoral candidates at North Centennial Community Centre, proving some journalists will bend over backwards to get the story. Photo: Paul S. Graham

On October 22, 2014, we Winnipeggers will elect a new mayor. With seven in the running, and the avalanche of announcements continuing to grow, it is difficult knowing who said what.

Mainstream media outlets tend to be selective in what they cover and often oversimplify what candidates have to say. It’s difficult to get a complete picture.

To help you deepen and broaden your knowledge of the candidates, what they say and how they present themselves, I’ve been recording mayoral debates. So far, I’ve recorded four debates where candidates present their views and one very interesting forum where citizens talk and the candidates listen.

I’ve stitched them into a YouTube playlist where you can see the candidates in action, unedited and unfiltered. This is unbiased coverage you will find nowhere else. The only spin you get is that which the candidates choose to offer.

I know – information overload. But the stakes are high and it’s worth investing the time. We’ve had ten years of lousy government at City Hall and with this election, we have a chance to do better

Make an informed choice. Click on the link below to watch these debates:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjun-krHoPPKl9o6tW_h_fjwBmszRlvVQ

October 13th Update:

Since posting this article I’ve recorded and posted another seven debates, for a total of 11 mayoral forums.

edney dinner poster

Almost unnoticed amidst the hoopla and the protests associated with the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was a dinner held at the Grand Mosque Community Centre last Friday in honour of Edmonton-based human rights lawyer Dennis Edney, QC.

Sept. 19, 2014: Human rights advocate Dennis Edney, QC, speaking in Winnipeg on the case of Omar Khadr. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Sept. 19, 2014: Human rights advocate Dennis Edney, QC, speaking in Winnipeg on the case of Omar Khadr. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Edney is the recipient of the National Pro Bono Award (2008) and the Human Rights Medal (British Columbia, 2009). He was honoured in Winnipeg for his decade-long pro bono defence of Omar Khadr and presented with a sculpture created by local artist Margaret Glavina.

Omar Khadr is probably Canada’s best-known, least understood prisoner. In 2002, at the age of 15, he was severely wounded in an American assault on a compound in Afghanistan, imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, tortured and coerced into confessing to “war crimes.” Following his conviction by a US military tribunal he was returned to Canada and is currently held at the federal Bowden Correctional Institution in Edmonton. While respected human rights advocates, such as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have called for Khadr’s release, the federal government continues to resist demands that he be set free.

The Khadr case is controversial to say the least. In this video report, Dennis Edney recounts his experience defending Omar Khadr and discusses what this affair says about the state of human rights in Canada.

The dinner, the proceeds of which were donated to cover Omar Khadr’s legal defense costs, was sponsored by:


Winnipeg, Aug. 24, 2014: Some of the people camping out in Memorial Park to call for a national inquiry into the deaths or disappearances of over 1200 aboriginal women. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Some of the people camping out in Memorial Park to call for a national inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of over 1200 Aboriginal women. Photo: Paul S. Graham

The hatred directed at aboriginal people in Canada is appalling, as is their poverty and exclusion from the opportunities that exist for non-indigenous Canadians. Nowhere is this more evident than in the federal government’s continuing refusal to hold a national inquiry into the causes of the deaths and disappearances of over 1200 aboriginal women. Now, aboriginal women are beginning to speak up for the aboriginal men who have disappeared over the years.

My latest video explores some of this.

To connect with the Protest Camp on Facebook, click here.


Winnipeg, July 19, 2014: Winnipeggers march in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Winnipeg, July 19, 2014: Winnipeggers march in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Photo: Paul S. Graham

July 19, 2014: Several hundred Winnipeggers rallied in front of the Canadian Human Rights Museum in solidarity with the people of Gaza who are enduring yet another murderous invasion by Israeli forces. The rally, the second in a week, was part of an international day of action.

Here’s my video report, featuring:
• Krishna Lalbiharie, Canada-Palestine Support Network (Winnipeg)
• Rana Abdulla, Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba
• Terrance Nelson, Grand Chief, Southern Chiefs Organization
• Daniel Thau-Eleff, Independent Jewish Voices (Winnipeg)
• Bassam Hozaima,  Canada-Palestine Support Network (Winnipeg)
• Glenn Michalchuk, Peace Alliance Winnipeg

The demonstration was sponsored by

• Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba
• Canada-Palestine Support Network (Winnipeg)
• Independent Jewish Voices (Winnipeg)
• Peace Alliance Winnipeg
• Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (WCAIA)