Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.


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by Peace Alliance Winnipeg

During the Vietnam war, tens of thousands of American conscientious objectors sought refuge in Canada to avoid taking part in a war they could not, in conscience, support. While the Canadian government was slow to respond in a positive way, under persistent pressure from peace, church and labour activists, they were eventually permitted to obtain immigrant status. Many remain in Canada to this day as valued members of our communities.

Fast forward 40 years – many US soldiers have sought refuge here  rather than fight in the Iraq war, a war widely recognized as a crime against humanity. Rather than be complicit in war crimes they left their homes, their families and communities and sought refuge in Canada.

Their pleas for refugee status have been thwarted at every turn by the Harper Government. In defiance of two Parliamentary resolutions calling on the federal government to allow war resisters to stay in Canada, the Harper Government has continued to smear American war resisters as criminals. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney has publicly labelled them as “bogus refugee claimants.” In July 2010, he issued a bulletin to all Immigration Officers requiring them to red-flag applications that involve US war resisters, labeling them as “criminally inadmissible.”

In recent news, the Harper government ordered U.S. Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera, her husband Mario and their four young children deported to the United States. Kimberly served in Iraq in 2006, and sought refuge in Canada in 2007 after making the decision that she could no longer participate in the Iraq War. She was the first female US Iraq War resister to come to Canada. Kimberly and her family live in Toronto.

If deported, she faces harsh punishment. War resisters Robin Long and Clifford Cornell, two Iraq war resisters deported by the Harper government, were court-martialed and sentenced to 15 months and 12 months respectively for speaking out against the Iraq War.

Canadian support for American war resisters is widespread. We must redouble our efforts to make the Harper government listen.

Peace Alliance Winnipeg has sent a $300 donation to cover Kimberly Rivera’s legal costs. We have written to each Manitoba MP and we will be taking our message to the Winnipeg Take Canada Back demonstration on September 17th. Here are some things you can do:

1. Write, email, fax and or call your MP. If you wish, you can use or adapt the letter sent by Peace Alliance Winnipeg (below, at the end of this message) or you may wish to adapt the letter being used by the War Resisters Support Campaign.  To get their contact information, follow the links below:

(More MP contact information can be found here.)
2. Make a financial contribution to help with Kimberly Rivera’s legal expenses. You can make a donation online, here. To donate by cheque, make it payable to War Resisters Support Campaign and send to:

War Resisters Support Campaign
Box 23
427 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1X7
Canada

3. Write, email, phone or fax Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and ask him to let Iraq War resister Kimberly Rivera and her family stay in Canada. You can use thisonline letter, or send your own message to:

325 East Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Phone: 613-954-1064 Fax: 613-957.2688
Email: jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca, minister@cic.gc.ca

4. Join the Peace Alliance Winnipeg contingent at the Winnipeg Take Canada Back Demonstration on September 17th, 5:00 p.m., at the Manitoba Legislature. More information on this national demonstration, which coincides with the opening of Parliament, can be found here.

If Kimberly and her family are to be allowed to remain in Canada, we need to act now. Please share this message widely, and take action today.


LETTER SENT TO MANITOBA MPs FROM PEACE ALLIANCE WINNIPEG

September 13, 2012

Dear Member of Parliament for Manitoba

Re: Deportation of Kimberly Rivera , American Iraqi war resister

On behalf of the Peace Alliance Winnipeg I ask for your immediate attention and support on an urgent matter regarding the imminent deportation of Kimberly Rivera, a young American war resister, woman and mother. Her appeal to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds has been denied by the Federal government and deportation is scheduled for as early as September 20, 2012.

Kimberly has sought refuge in Canada on moral grounds, motivated by her conscience, values, and political opposition to the American military action in Iraq. Many thousands of Canadians support her and view her decision and actions as a heroic matter of conscience.

On being forced to return to he US she will face two to five years of imprisonment made all the more harsh by her separation from her young children.

There is nothing to be gained from this inhumane decision and much will be lost. Kimberly losses her freedom and her ability to parent her children; her children lose precious time with their mother; the American military gains nothing but retribution and, as Canadians, we also lose.

This is a serious and symbolic issue for us a nation. If we fail to reverse this deportation decision, and all others like it, Canada loses a significant degree of independence in determining the value of individual conscience particularly as it concerns the matter of conscientious objection. The deportation of war resisters sends the message that Canada does not value those who refuse to fight in war. It further erodes our standing in the world as peace keepers and a middle power capable of being an honest broker on the world stage.

Most troubling we will have failed our long held national values of defending legitimate moral opposition, defending the right to conscience and protecting political refugees from certain prosecution. Our once highly held principle of humanitarian consideration for refugees will be irrevocably threatened along with our national identity as a compassionate and tolerant country.

This is a costly and grave matter for Kimberly and her family and for us as Canadians. It is erroneously being framed as a criminal matter. Deportation of Kimberly and others like her will have far reaching, long term destructive consequences for us all. The real crime is a moral one in allowing this deportation to proceed unchallenged.

In June 2008 and March 2009 Parliament passed resolutions calling for a halt to the deportations of war resisters and allowing them to stay in Canada as permanent residents. Please use your position and voice as a parliamentarian to immediately stop the deportation of Kimberly Rivera.

Glenn Michalchuk
Chair, Peace Alliance Winnipeg

About 300 Winnipeggers rallied at the Manitoba Legislature on Saturday in support of the Egyptian struggle for democracy. Joining millions around the world, they chanted “Free Egypt Now!” and “Step down Mubarak!” Here’s some video.

Yves Engler has written a highly informative article on the deepening ties between Manitoba and Israel and the key role of the Canadian wing of the Jewish National Fund. Writes Engler:

“Manitoba’s ties to this openly racist institution are shocking, but also part of a decades-old pro-Israel policy of the NDP that must be challenged by real progressives.

“Shutting out Palestinian citizens of Israel, JNF lands can only be leased by Jews. A 1998 United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights found that the JNF systematically discriminated against Palestinians in Israel. According to the UN report, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.” In 2005, Israel’s high court came to similar conclusions. It found that the JNF, which owns 13 percent of the country’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest, systematically excluded Palestinian citizens from leasing its property.”

You can read the complete article at the Peace Alliance Winnipeg News.

Galloway, quoted in the National Post, Oct. 4, 2010:  “I was a boxer in my youth. Maybe Mr. Kenney would like to go five rounds with me.” Photo: Mike Cassese/Reuters

It’s official. The much anticipated, cross-Canada tour by George Galloway begins in Montreal Nov. 17. By the time it’s over, he’ll have visited 10 cities, bringing his message of free speech, free Afghanistan and free Palestine to thousands of Canadians. It’s a message Canadians need to hear, again and again, and we should be pleased that Galloway is demonstrably up to the challenge. Tour details are available here.

Freedom of speech in Canada is in danger, especially on the subject of Palestine. According to a recent statement by Independent Jewish Voices,

“The Harper government is sponsoring a conference of the ‘Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism’ (ICCA) – the CPCCA’s international counterpart – in Ottawa on November 8 and 9. The CPCCA and ICCA have an agenda to attack free speech and to silence legitimate criticism of Israel by falsely conflating this with anti-Semitism.”

The IJV is hoping to mobilize opposition to this conference and what it represents, and deserves the support of every Canadian who treasures the right to speak our minds on any topic without fear of repression.

Another way of resisting attempts to restrict free speech is to promote and attend George Galloway’s speeches. Between now and the time he sets foot in Canada, we can confidently expect there will be attempts to discredit Galloway and distort his message. Our support for the tour will not only counter these reactionary diatribes; it will help raise funds for the local peace coalitions and Palestine solidarity campaigns across Canada that are sponsoring Galloway’s tour.

Defend free speech in Canada

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

This, just in, from Independent Jewish voices . . .

A TIME TO SPEAK OUT: DAY OF ACTION TO DEFEND FREE SPEECH ON NOVEMBER 8

FREE SPEECH UNDER ATTACK

The Harper government is sponsoring a conference of the ‘Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism’ (ICCA) – the CPCCA’s international counterpart – in Ottawa on November 8 and 9. The CPCCA and ICCA have an agenda to attack free speech and to silence legitimate criticism of Israel by falsely conflating this with anti-Semitism.

Independent Jewish Voices is deeply concerned about the threat to free speech and civil liberties posed by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism’(CPCCA). It is legitimate and ethically necessary for Canadians of conscience to criticize Israeli human rights abuses and to support non-violent remedies.

A NEW MCCARTHYISM

The Harper government has already slashed funding to NGOs that dared to express support for Palestinian rights, brutally attacked and abused G20 demonstrators, barred British MP George Galloway from entering Canada because of his aid to the people of Gaza, and attacked CUPE, CUPW, and Israeli Apartheid Week activities. The list doesn’t end there.

The CPCCA, with Minister of Censorship and Deportation Jason Kenney as one of its driving forces, aims to entrench these attacks on free speech in the federal parliament.

The CPCCA held hearings this past year to try to paint a veneer of credibility on its transparent intention to attack free speech in Canada.  It ignored many critical submissions, including those from Independent Jewish Voices. Even the CPCCA witnesses from Canadian universities and the police confirmed that there is no rise in anti-Semitism and called on the CPCCA to respect free speech.

The ICCA conference is intended to distract from this embarrassing result.  At a cost of over $451,280 in federal funds, the ICCA conference is closed to the public and the media, and makes no pretence of unbiased research.

STAND UP, FIGHT BACK

1. Raise your voices for a day of action for free speech on Monday, November 8. Organize locally – get in touch with the nearest IJV chapter, human rights groups, free speech advocates and Palestine solidarity coalitions. Local events for the day of action could include press conferences, protests, teach-ins, or other creative ideas to build the movement to defend free speech.  IJV will release a 10 minute video on Nov. 8, which will be posted on YouTube and the IJV web site. Feel free to use it in your events.  Please let us know what actions you’ve taken:  Contact Independent Jewish Voices at ijv@magma.ca.

2. Contact your MP and the federal party leaders and demand they reject any attempts to silence or criminalize legitimate criticism of Israel, and to stand up for the principle of free speech in Canada. www.webinfo.parl.gc.ca.

3.  Contact university presidents and human rights offices in your city and ask them also to issue a statement affirming the right of students and faculty to free speech.

4. Sign our anti-CPCCA petition at http://ijvcanada.org/sign-signez-petition-cpcca-hearings/ which will be released to the press and all MPs on Nov. 8.

5. Send a photo to ijv@magma.ca of yourself holding an anti-CPCCA sign (perhaps with duct tape over your mouth) or a sign saying “I support free speech.”  We will post it on line with a title “The is what Democracy looks like.”

6. Donate to IJV to help fund our campaign for free speech: Please send donations to IJV,  P.O. Box 23088, Ottawa, Ontario K2A 4E2.

For more information, visit Independent Jewish Voices at www.ijvcanada.org.

Dear Premier Selinger,

To put it politely, I am deeply upset by your decision to deepen economic ties with the State of Israel. The ongoing violation of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel has made Israel, deservedly, a pariah among nations. Because of this, individuals, organizations, companies and even governments are banding together in a nonviolent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in the hope that Israel will recognize the rights of Palestinians and seriously work for peace.

Surely you are aware of the 1400 Palestinians (including 300 children and hundreds of civilians) who were killed during the 18-day invasion the Israelis called Operation Cast Lead. If not, please follow this link to a report by Amnesty International.

You must have heard of the widespread misery and deprivation that persists in Gaza because of the Israeli blockade.  Possibly you are too busy to follow these matters in any depth, but I hope you will take the time to read the UN Human Rights Council report on the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the murders perpetrated against unarmed peace activists during that attack. These people were murdered because they were bringing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, people prevented by the blockade from rebuilding after the devastating Israeli invasion.

All too commonly in this country, affluent and ill-informed people are willing to turn a blind eye to injustice. The injustice against Palestinians began with their expulsion from their land in 1948. Systematically and relentlessly Israel has reduced the land available to Palestinians to a few small patches, hemmed in by Israeli soldiers, checkpoints and growing Israeli settlements. The situation of Palestinians is not unlike that of blacks in South Africa during the apartheid years. It is no accident that the term “Israeli apartheid” is heard more and more.

Is Manitoba in such desperate straights that our government sees a need to do business with such a repressive regime? What were you thinking?

Israel’s continued oppression of the Palestinian people is an affront to all who cherish human rights and social justice. Those who do business with such a regime are complicit in this ongoing horror show.

I expect better of my provincial government and I expect better from you.

Please cancel your upcoming trip to Israel and reverse your policy of economic and cultural cooperation with Israel until such time as it shows serious commitment to redressing the injustices it has committed against the Palestinian people.

Sincerely,

Paul Graham
Winnipeg


Dear Reader,

Please do your part to remind Mr. Selinger that it will not be acceptable to do business with Israel until it makes peace with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and dismantles the ugly apartheid system it has set up.

Tell him Manitoba should be a part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions for Palestine movement, rather than a partner in apartheid.

Greg Selinger’s email address is premier@leg.gov.mb.ca.