We are a group of Ontario-based Humanists with a passion for social justice, civil and human rights, and environmental action, who have established a provincially-based organization to complement the work of Humanist Canada and local Humanist groups.
If you are concerned with Human and Civil Rights issues in secular society, such as Pro-choice, One School System, Equal Marriage, Gender issues, Dying with Dignity, Environmental justice, Science education, Intellectual Freedom and other progressive issues, we may be able to connect you with other volunteers, speakers and organizations. See our WELCOME page for more information. Here is our OHS Mission Statement.
Today the British House of Commons gave for a second time its overwhelming approval to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, voting 366 to 161 at the bill’s third reading. In February, the same body overwhelmingly approved the bill by a vote of 400 to 175 at its second reading.
The bill, which would legalize marriage for same-sex couples in England and Wales, now moves to the House of Lords.
MPs debated several amendments both yesterday and today prior to the third reading vote. The amendment receiving perhaps the most extensive debate today would have allowed Humanist groups to perform same-sex marriages (New Clause 15). The amendment was withdrawn after the Secretary of State voiced technical concerns. Amendment sponsors appeared committed to reintroducing into the House of Lords an updated version of the amendment which would address the concerns raised today.
Re: Regulations Amending the Seeds Regulations, Canada Gazette Part 1 VOL. 147, NO. 10 — MARCH 9, 2013
Deadline for submissions — May 23, 2013
The National Farmers Union asks you to submit your letter of concern about the significant regulatory changes to Seed Variety Registration. You can just fill out the form below to send this letter instantly to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
At a Monday afternoon ceremony, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) will sign a bill making the state the third in the nation to permit euthanasia, putting his autograph on the Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act, the first so-called “Death with Dignity” bill to be passed by state lawmakers instead of the voters themselves.
“This is a major breakthrough for the Death with Dignity movement,” Barbara Coombs Lee, president of the advocacy group Compassion & Choices, told Raw Story. “It is the first time that legislators have passed a law like this.”
Under Vermont’s new law, people judged to be mentally competent who suffer from a terminal illness and have less than six months to live will be able to request that a doctor prescribe a lethal narcotic dose. Doctors who comply with those requests will be required to follow a procedure outlined by the state, which includes a patient certification that acknowledges their consent to death.
Patients will be required to self-administer the drugs, which will only be dispensed after the patient confirms his or her request three times 15 days apart. The law then permits doctors to issue a prescription after a 48 hour waiting period.
“This is intended for people who are at the end of their lives, not for people who are suicidal,” Lee said. “This does not apply to them at all. This is about people who do not have a choice on living or drying. They are dying. Death is imminent. To them, the choice really is what that feels like for them and what it looks like for their loved ones who will hopefully be with them.”
Similar laws are on the books in Washington and Oregon, but it took voters to push those measures through. Death with Dignity rules in Montana were also implemented after a state Supreme Court ruling in 2009. In Vermont, it took a vote by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (D) to break a 15-15 tie in the state’e senate, sending the bill to Shumlin for final approval. It cleared the Vermont House earlier in the month by a vote of 75 to 65, with mostly Republicans in opposition.
The law expires in 2016, assuming doctors in Vermont have adopted their own formal set of rules governing euthanasia.
A long tradition of thinking tells us that due to man’s animal nature we need to have order imposed from above, in the form of religion. Without religion, we could not live together, and that is why all human societies believe in the supernatural and have developed one religion or another.
This view, which the biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal calls Veneer Theory, is an essentially pessimistic view “that morality is a thin veneer over a nasty human nature.”
de Waal’s argument, which he has been making for years, is strengthened by the fact that recent research is starting to paint a better picture of the kind of cognitive processing that empathy requires. It turns out that empathy is not as complex as we had imagined, and that is why other animals are capable of it as well as humans.
So if being moral is so easy, can we dispatch with religion altogether?
That is an experiment that no one has tried, and which de Waal finds intriguing. The problem, as de Waal points out in the video below, is that we need someone to be keeping watch in large-scale societies in which “we cannot all keep an eye on each other.”…(watch the video from the link above)….
“After writing Moral Combatin 2011 I became increasingly outraged by the extreme rightward turn of public policy and national discourse. I felt that there needed to be a strong atheist/humanist rebuke and critique of the strident xenophobic nationalism and racist propaganda that erupted with greater vengeance during the 2012 presidential campaign.
I wanted to make a statement against this climate and outline a radical humanist alternative. In addition, there has been much fanfare about the rise of the so-called “Nones” (or those who have rejected organized religion). However there is no evidence that people of color—especially women of color—are rejecting organized religion, much less God, in any significant numbers. I wanted to explore the reason for this, while at the same time providing a radical voice for the growing numbers of openly identified non-believers of color…
n the early-to-mid 20th century, many non-believers and freethinkers of color, as well as radical whites, were deeply invested in the struggle for civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, the labor movement and anti-imperialist resistance. They were not primarily academic or intellectual elites (á la atheist superstars like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens) and came from all walks of life. Moreover, they understood that reaching across the ideological aisle to organize with progressive believers was a necessity if they were going to gain any traction in their local communities (the examples of A. Philip Randolph, James Forman and the Black Panthers are illustrative in this regard).
So while there are numerous grassroots atheist groups spearheading their own projects, the movement as a whole continues to be publicly defined by a handful of superstars and their limited vision. The absence of historical and sociological context for atheist politics, and its disconnection from social justice activism, will keep it in the lily-white one-percent column.
I have no patience for single-issue white male atheists who inveigh against the backwardness of organized religion as the fount of all evil and then have the luxury to retreat into their segregated ivory towers, insulated conferences, and highly-paid seminar bubbles. In Godless Americana I address the lived experiences of some of the most religious communities on the planet in one of the richest nations on the planet. I probe the sociological context for faith traditions and hyper-religiosity in American communities of color.
One bedrock issue is the way students of color are disproportionately denied access to college prep courses, suspended, placed in special education and pipelined into prisons instead of being given a decent shot at a science and humanities-based education…..
What’s the most important take-home message for readers?
That humanism can be culturally relevant to communities of color. Traditional mainstream white-dominated freethought/atheist/humanist models don’t offer an adequate basis for social justice. They don’t address the intersection of women’s rights, civil rights, anti-racism, heterosexism, the racial wealth gap, and educational apartheid.
In the book I push back against the myth of the accessible American dream and look at the devastating impact that the recession has had on communities of color. I ask how one creates a just society based on the principles of anti-racist godlessness; rejecting supernatural, faith-based explanations for the universe, morality, ethics and human accountability. I emphasize the need to build on the historic connection between non-belief and movements for human rights liberation…
Downing Street issued a stark warning that the bill to legalise gay marriage will run into grave trouble – and cost the taxpayer an extra £4bn – if the Labour party joins forces with Tory opponents to vote in favour of granting civil partnerships to heterosexual couples.
As David Cameron was accused by the Conservative Grassroots group of showing “utter contempt” for party activists by pressing ahead with plans to equalise marriage, Labour sources voiced fears that No 10 appeared to be trying to find ways of killing the bill.
The row erupted as No 10 braced itself for a loss of face as up to 150 Tory MPs prepare to show their opposition to the prime minister during a series of votes when the marriage (same sex couples) bill reaches its report stage in the Commons today.
At least two cabinet ministers – the environment secretary Owen Paterson and the Wales secretary David Jones – are prepared to vote for a series of amendments that would grant exemptions to teachers and registrars. Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, and John Hayes, the prime minister’s unofficial envoy to the Tory right, may also side with opponents of the bill during a series of votes, which are “free” – allowing MPs to vote with their consciences….
Government sources made clear that the warnings were aimed at Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, whose support for the amendment will be decisive. One government source said: “Ed Miliband clearly wants to make political capital here. Perhaps he should think of the consequences.” But Labour rejected what it described as the “farcical” warnings, as sources noted that the supposed size of the “price tag” had grown from £3bn to £4bn in five days. One source said: “They are wrecking this bill themselves and trying to blame others.”
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary and shadow equalities minister, who has been negotiating with the equalities minister Maria Miller, told Sky News: “I think it’s a real problem if this gets lost in the vortex of the Tory infighting that we had over the last couple of weeks when actually it’s a really positive bill that we should all want to celebrate.”
Major international oil companies are buying off governments, according to the world’s most prominent climate scientist, Prof James Hansen. During a visit to London, he accused the Canadian government of acting as the industry’s tar sands salesman and “holding a club” over the UK and European nations to accept its “dirty” oil.
“Oil from tar sands makes sense only for a small number of people who are making a lot of money from that product,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. “It doesn’t make sense for the rest of the people on the planet. We are getting close to the dangerous level of carbon in the atmosphere and if we add on to that unconventional fossil fuels, which have a tremendous amount of carbon, then the climate problem becomes unsolvable.”
Canada‘s natural resources minister, Joe Oliver, has also visited London to campaign against EU proposals to penalise oil from Alberta’s tar sands as highly polluting. “Canada can offer energy security and economic stability to the world,” he said. Oliver also publicly threatened a trade war via the World Trade Organisation if the EU action went ahead: “Canada will not hesitate to defend its interests.”
Canada’s tar sands are the third biggest oil reserve in the world, but separating the oil from the rock is energy intensive and causes three to four times more carbon emissions per barrel than conventional oil. Hansen argues that it would be “game over” for the climate if tar sands were fully exploited, given that existing conventional oil and gas is certain to be burned.
“To leave our children with a manageable situation, we need to leave the unconventional fuel in the ground,” he said. Canada’s ministers were “acting as salesmen for those people who will gain from the profits of that industry,” he said. “But I don’t think they are looking after the rights and wellbeing of the population as a whole.
“The thing we are facing overall is that the fossil fuel industry has so much money that they are buying off governments,” Hansen said. “Our democracies are seriously handicapped by the money that is driving decisions in Washington and other capitals.”
The EU aims to penalise oil sources with higher carbon footprints, as part of a drive to reduce the carbon emissions from transport called the fuel quality directive (FDQ). But Canada, supported by the UK, is fiercely opposed: “We are not saying they should not move to reduce emissions,” said Oliver. “But the proposed implementation of the FQD is discriminatory to oil sands and not based on scientific facts.” However,Europe‘s commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, said the FQD was “nothing more, nothing less” than accurate labelling and putting a fair price on pollution.
Hansen, who informed the US Congress of the danger of global warming in 1988, has caused controversy before by saying the “CEOs of fossil fuel companies should be tried for high crimes against humanity” and calling coal-fired power plants “factories of death“. In April, he stepped down from his Nasa position after 46 years, in order to spend more time communicating the risks of climate change and to work on legal challenges to governments.
Hansen has started a science programme at Columbia University, the first task of which is to produce a report to support suits filed again the US federal government and several state governments. It is being pursued by the Our Children’s Trust charity and is based on a trust principle recognised in US law.
“We maintain that the atmosphere and climate are held in trust by the present generations for the future generations and we do not have the right to destroy that asset,” Hansen said. “Therefore the courts should require the government to give a plan as to how they are going to ensure that we still have that asset to pass on to the next generation.”
The French president, François Hollande, has signed a law authorising same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, after months of street protests, political slanging matches and a rise in homophobic attacks.
The move makes France the ninth country in Europe and the 14th globally to legalise same-sex marriage.
France’s official journal announced on Saturday that the bill had become law after the Constitutional Council rejected a challenge by the rightwing opposition on Friday.
The first same-sex marriage is due to be held in Montpellier in the south of France on 29 May, Reuters reported.
Hollande and his ruling Socialist party have made the legislation their flagship social change, but the right to marriage and adoption for everyone regardless of sexual orientation has triggered the biggest conservative and rightwing street protests in 30 years, with more than 200 arrests. Opponents have called for another protest on 26 May.
While French opinion polls have long shown that a majority of the public support same-sex marriage, the issue of adoption is more controversial.
The law also leaves key issues on family rights unanswered. It will not grant automatic co-parenting rights for same-sex couples in civil partnerships, nor allow access to medically assisted procreation or IVF to lesbian couples. Rights campaigners want these issues to be addressed in a family law this year.
The government has referred the issue of medically assisted procreation to France’s national ethics council, which will rule in the autumn. But the issue of parenting and procreation rights remains deeply divisive in opinion polls and among politicians.
The other 13 countries to legalise same-sex marriage include Canada, Denmark, Sweden and most recently Uruguay and New Zealand. In the US, Washington DC and 12 states have legalised same-sex marriage.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan blocked legislation on Saturday aimed at strengthening provisions for women’s freedoms, arguing that parts of it violate Islamic principles and encourage disobedience.
The fierce opposition highlights how tenuous women’s rights remain a dozen years after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime, whose strict interpretation of Islam once kept Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes…
The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has been in effect since 2009, but only by presidential decree. It is being brought before parliament now because lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its potential reversal by any future president who might be tempted to repeal it to satisfy hard-line religious parties.
The law criminalizes, among other things, child marriage and forced marriage, and bans “baad,” the traditional practice of selling and buying women to settle disputes. It also makes domestic violence a crime punishable by up to three years in prison and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery…
There has been spotty enforcement of the law as it stands. A United Nations analysis in late 2011 found only a small percentage of reported crimes against women were pursued by the Afghan government. Between March 2010 and March 2011 – the first full Afghan year the decree was in effect – prosecutors filed criminal charges in only 155 cases, or 7 percent of the total number of crimes reported.
The child marriage ban and the idea of protecting female rape victims from prosecution were particularly heated subjects in Saturday’s parliamentary debate, said Nasirullah Sadiqizada Neli, a conservative lawmaker from Daykundi province.
Neli suggested that removing the custom – common in Afghanistan – of prosecuting raped women for adultery would lead to social chaos, with women freely engaging in extramarital sex safe in the knowledge they could claim rape if caught.
Lawmaker Shaheedzada also claimed that the law might encourage disobedience among girls and women, saying it reflected Western values not applicable in Afghanistan.
“Even now in Afghanistan, women are running from their husbands. Girls are running from home,” Shaheedzada said. “Such laws give them these ideas.”….
Inequality and injustice underlie day-to-day violence,” Gabriela Delgado, of the human rights programme at the state National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), told IPS. “The bottleneck for women’s struggles is the justice system. This means that structural changes are needed.”
Among the states’ pending debts in this area are legislative reforms to establish formal equality under the law, and the enforcement of policies to achieve the goals of access to economic resources, violence-free lives, sexual and reproductive rights and non-sexist education to combat discrimination.
Activists have identified laws that tolerate marital rape and other kinds of rape, endorse different minimum ages at which men and women can marry, or grant greater rights to men on marriage, in countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama.
Between 17 and 53 percent of women in the region are victims of violence, and this scenario is exacerbated because 92 percent of reported crimes go unpunished. And abortion largely remains illegal in Latin America.
In the view of Rosa Cobo, an academic at Spain’s public University of A Coruña, a mixture of age-old forms of violence are reemerging, together with new phenomena linked to the illegal economy and organised crime.
“We are living in a world characterised by geopolitical, economic, political and patriarchal disorder, which produces excessive violence that always affects the most disadvantaged and the weakest sectors,” Cobo told IPS.
She cited as examples the femicides (gender-based murders of women) in Guatemala and Ciudad Juárez, on the border between Mexico and the United States; gender violence in armed conflicts; the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation; and the sale of women into marriage in Asia.
The activists called for guarantees from states for equality between men and women and girls and boys, through the elimination of discriminatory rules and practices, and the promotion of equality and shared responsibilities for domestic chores, in order to eradicate poverty and usher in a life free from violence for women and girls.
They also called for sexual and reproductive autonomy for women, access to reproductive health resources and services, and secular, intercultural, non-sexist and anti-discriminatory education.
“There is a worrying debt to women that is going to take years to overcome,” Oviedo said.
CLADEM, which is based in Lima, launched a campaign in 2009 for non-sexist and anti-discriminatory education to promote education based on respect, equality and cooperation between the sexes.
“Isn’t it likely that there is a relationship between this extreme violence against women and the progress made in winning women’s rights in recent years?” Cobo asked.
This kind of violence “shows a compulsion to control, in response to the social reality that criticises the status of women. Violence has been displaced from known spaces to the unknown, so that men are now killing women whom they do not know,” she said.
“It is almost like it’s a corporation exercising extreme message control,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s as if Stephen Harper were the CEO of Canada the corporation and we were his employees and we were not allowed to step out of line or say what we believe is right or true because that would upset the company’s brand.
“This fanatical obsession with message control to me is very much what you have in a company but in a democracy that shouldn’t be the case.”
But there is apparently one woman whom the government can’t shut up: the Toronto environmental writer, illustrator and activist Franke James, who turned the efforts to silence her into material for a new book.
The story is told through visual essays as well as official emails obtained by James, in which government bureaucrats discuss the troublesome artist and her work. It also relies heavily on humour – some of it provided inadvertently by the government bureaucrats discussing what to do about James. The artist said she received some 2,172 pages of official memos in which her name appeared.
James is not a household name in Canada, but she had apparently turned up on the government’s radar for a series of visuals poking fun at Harper and demanding that polluters be held accountable for the tar sands.
For James, the decision to target her encapsulated the extreme measures taken by the Harper government to counter its critics, especially those who oppose the expansion of the tar sands, because of the heavy environmental consequences.
Two Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees are looking to eliminate Gay Straight Alliances from the city’s Catholic Schools.
Trustee Garry Tanuan, who represents Ward 8 Scarborough, will introduce a motion at a May 23 board meeting that states that “Toronto Catholic District School Board schools shall have no Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs or similar.” The motion was seconded by Trustee John Del Grande, who represents Ward 7 Scarborough/NorthYork.
What Mr. Tanuan is proposing would go against Ontario law. Last June, the provincial government passed the Accepting Schools Act, which stated that students could not be prevented from setting up a GSA in any Ontario school.
In a statement Thursday, Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals said that no school board is exempt from the Act. “It is my expectation that all school boards comply with the Accepting Schools Act,” said Ms. Sandals in the statement.
“It is our responsibility to ensure all students feel safe and welcomed at school. That’s why the Act states that neither the board nor the principal can refuse to allow students to have a gay-straight alliance or a similarly named club. Catholic school boards and stakeholders have demonstrated leadership and support in providing safe, positive and inclusive environments for all students. I know that Catholic values of tolerance and love make them natural allies in the fight against bullying. I hope the Board will continue to foster an accepting environment for all students.”
The Accepting Schools Act officially came into effect in September. However, later that month it was revealed that a provision in Canada’s constitution could be used to circumvent the Act.
According to Eugene Meehan, a constitutional scholar who was hired by a conservative-minded think-tank Cardus, Section 93 of the Constitution Act of 1867 protects the rights of Catholics to run their own schools in ways consistent with their religious doctrines. This would allow for an appeal to the federal cabinet, which has the power to impose legislation to amend provincial law…..
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) issued a statement Thursday condemning Mr. Tanuan’s motion, saying it “puts gay students at high risk.”
“This motion goes farther than banning GSAs. It would shut down all student discussion on issues of sexual orientation or gender identity in school-based clubs,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond in the statement. “How does that make a young student who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) feel welcome or safe in a school environment? How does that educate students to be respectful of differences?”
Big changes are underway in Canada’s aid program. As part of budget Bill C-60, the federal government plans to merge the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).
Let’s make sure that ending poverty and promoting human rights remain at the heart of Canada’s international development efforts, Please reach out to your Member of Parliament.
Big changes are underway in the Canadian international development landscape.In March, the federal government announced it would merge the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Two weeks ago, omnibus budget legislation (Bill C-60) was introduced, setting out the framework for the merger.
Canada has been a leader in promoting women’s rights and gender equality, food security and the eradication of polio. Canadians can be proud of the results of this good work. But there is still a lot to accomplish on the road to a more equitable world and the CIDA-DFAIT merger raises several key questions:
How will it impact development priorities?
Will Canada’s foreign aid maintain a focus on reducing poverty and promoting rights?
How much of Canada’s aid budget will be devoted to reducing poverty vs other foreign policy and trade interests?
Where do NGOs, with decades of experience in working with the poor, fit in?
Act right now. The House of Commons is due to vote on Bill C-60 very soon
From the COC:
“When the people of Quebec spoke out against fracking, the provincial government listened. Quebec put a moratorium on the controversial and dangerous method for extracting hard-to-reach natural gas until the environmental impacts could be studied.
Fracking uses enormous amounts of water and sand, mixed with toxic chemicals, which are forced into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rock or coal beds to release natural gas or oil. The process is linked to earthquakes and water pollution, which is why communities around the world are trying to stop it.
You would think the Quebec government has an obligation to protect its people and their environment. But a U.S. fracking company called Lone Pine Resources thinks otherwise.
Lone Pine, which wanted to frack for gas under the St. Lawrence River, has threatened to sue Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The company is demanding $250 million in compensation for Quebec’s moratorium, which it says violates Lone Pine’s “right” to frack!
We shouldn’t have to pay to protect ourselves and our environment. Communities, not private firms, should have the final say on fracking and other projects that threaten water sources, the environment and public health – and there should be no penalty for saying “NO”.
“…Eighteen months after being ordered to correct important safety issues with its oil and gas pipelines, Enbridge has finally filed a plan with the National Energy Board (NEB) as to how and when it will come into compliance with the NEB’s regulations. The company doesn’t want its plan made public, however, and has asked the NEB to keep its filing confidential. A ruling is expected later this week.
“Enbridge is desperately trying to convince Canadians that its pipelines are safe, but doesn’t want any public scrutiny of its safety plans,” said Maryam Adrangi, energy campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “After the catastrophic pipeline rupture in Kalamazoo, public oversight is more important than ever.”
Over two years after the Kalamazoo spill, there is still notable contamination. Many Canadians are raising concerns that a similarly devastating spill could happen along Line 9, which is part of the same Enbridge pipeline network as Kalamazoo.
“How can we even consider letting Enbridge pump heavy crude through the heart of the Great Lakes watershed in a forty-year-old pipeline that doesn’t meet today’s safety standards?” asked Emma Lui, water campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “Enbridge has shown itself to be incompetent and irresponsible in the past, and now it wants to keep critical safety information secret from the public. That’s not how you win the trust of Canadians.”
“Girls are born so that people can eat,” he told her. “All I want is to get my dowry.”
[Note: This is an article from Human Rights Watch, HRW.org, highlighting research on Child Marriage in the Sudan. There is no 'action' in this article, but you may wish to subscribe to HRW, or to support their work.]
Akech loved to study and dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when she was 14, the uncle who was raising her told her she was too old for school and forced her to marry a man she described as old, gray-haired, and married to another woman with whom he had several children.
Akech, from South Sudan, begged her uncle to let her stay in school. He refused. “Girls are born so that people can eat,” he told her. “All I want is to get my dowry.” The old man paid 75 cows for Akech. She tried to resist the marriage, but her male cousins beat her severely, accused her of dishonoring her family, and forced her to go to the man’s house. Like many girls in South Sudan, Akech was married off to the highest bidder. She never saw the inside of a classroom again.
…Vulnerability to abuse
A multi-country World Health Organization study showed that married women between 15 and 19 run a greater risk of being forced to have sex. In general, girls – with less confidence and life experience – are less kely than older women to have the power to stand up to their abusers..
“Last week London played host to Indigenous delegates from six continents, the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples James Anaya and several mining industry representatives, all present for the launch of a new report concerning the Indigenous right to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
Commissioned by Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks) amongst others, the new study is part of a wider advocacy project that is being coordinated by UK based civil society organisations and Middlesex University School of Law. Its aim is to help make FPIC a reality in the mining industry. It is hoped the report will provide a framework for meaningful discussions between Indigenous peoples and mining companies.
The day before the launch Indigenous speakers from Canada, Norway, Australia and Colombia met with members of local NGOs to share their experiences with FPIC and mining. Their personal accounts relayed the commonality of the global fight being led by Indigenous peoples to turn back the tide of the extractive industries. At the heart of this battle is the provision of FPIC as an indivisible facet of the Indigenous right to self-determination.
Incomplete understandings of FPIC and its historical subversion at the hands of industry have meant that, whilst it exists on paper, FPIC is yet to be properly realized in practice. Every Indigenous delegate at the meet had their own story of how their right to FPIC had been co-opted….
On the ground, Indigenous perspectives on how FPIC should be operationalized have been routinely ignored. Yet if it is to be properly realized, the provision of FPIC must be interpreted according to its Indigenous context. For some it may be a matter of being able to say ‘no’ to mining flat out, but for others it may be the start of a process of consultation.
John Cutfeet of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation, Canada relayed that the KI “respect the sovereign right of future generations to review our decisions.”
This view was seconded by Anne Marie Sam of the Nak’azdli First Nation, who described that for the Nak’adzli it could be appropriate for FPIC to be “an ongoing process.”
The report seeks to emphasize the importance of this grounded knowledge. Rather than trying to find a short definition for FPIC the new study seeks to elucidate its general principles to iron out the complications that industry hides behind. Recognising the concerns of Indigenous communities and that the promises and behaviour of mining companies are often diametrically opposed it places emphasis on the communities sovereign right to choose according to their own form of governance.
Part of the report is dedicated to highlighting the sophisticated protocols for the realization of FPIC that many Indigenous peoples have already developed themselves. These are incredibly important as they allow critics of mining companies to respond when asked ‘how can FPIC be done?’ A significant stumbling block in the past.
As Indigenous peoples develop their own ways of making FPIC a reality, mining companies that are serious about cleaning up their act must accept that this is the rights-based FPIC they must recognize. Those that don’t must be challenged ceaselessly….”
We’ve hit it (and surpassed the 350.org mark, of course)
The BBC reports, “Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have broken through a symbolic mark. Daily measurements of CO2 at a US government agency lab on Hawaii have topped 400 parts per million for the first time. …Carbon dioxide is regarded as the most important of the manmade greenhouse gases blamed for raising the temperature on the planet over recent decades. Human sources come principally from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.”
“(While the number is) expected to decline by a few ppm below 400 in the coming weeks … the long-term trend is upwards. …James Butler is responsible for the Earth System Research Laboratory, a facility on Mauna Loa belonging to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). …(Butler says), ‘Probably next year, or the year after that, the average yearly reading will pass 400pm. A couple of years after that, the South Pole will have readings of 400ppm, and in eight to nine years we will probably have seen the last CO2 reading under 400ppm.’”
In October 2009, Council of Canadians energy campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue wrote about the imperative of the 350 parts per million target. She wrote, “350ppm is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide …350 ppm is the number humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change.”
When we were in Bolivia in April 2010, I wrote in a blog, “Right now, the tar sands account for 5 per cent of Canada’s emissions… By 2020, it is predicted that the tar sands will grow to account for 12 per cent of our national emissions. …In parts-per-million language, the full exploitation of the tar sands and the U.S. tar shale reserves could increase atmospheric carbon by 49 to 65 ppm.”
In a blog Andrea wrote in January 2011 after a panel presentation in Toronto, she commented, “Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu of JustEarth and the Toronto Climate Campaign pulled no punches… Given how far we have already progressed in terms of emissions and how tied our economies are to fossil fuels, Adriana argued that stabilizing to 350 ppm would require massive change. The studies and modelling she referred to indicates that fossil fuels would need to be phased out in about a decade. Given that fossil fuels is the lifeblood of our economy – they heat our homes, fuel our cars and are in about everything we consume – this is no short order.”
Clearly the expansion of the tar sands, pipelines to the west, south and east, and the proliferation of fracking around the world is putting humanity on a crash course with the limits of this planet’s ecosystem. The imperative of climate justice continues to be ignored by the ‘leaders’ of the world.
On May 5th, Cathy Dunphy (a member of OHS and a Humanist Officiant) and Gretta Vosper, Minister of West Hill United in Scarborough, and a declared Atheist, were interviewed at West Hill United Church as part of Interview an Atheist at Church Day. They did a great job, and if you follow the link, you can see more videos of atheists being interviewed across the U.S.
More details about the redirection of science research into industry (entire article at link above).
“…an analysis of more than 140,000 NSERC grants going back to before the Tories took office in 2006 reveals in stark terms how remaining federal research dollars have been increasingly funneled into business-focused research and away from environmental sciences. Critics see a politically motivated attempt to change the science agenda in Canada; the government has consistently defended its changes, saying it wants to fund projects that offer a more immediate return on investment…
The 2008 federal budget further delineated where NSERC, which is supposed to operate at arm’s length from the federal government, would spend money, identifying four important sectors: fisheries, forestry, automotive and manufacturing.
The Huffington Post analyzed a list of all NSERC grants, which are broken down by category of research. The documents reveal:
Funding for research into manufacturing processes and products increased 54 per cent from 2007 to 2010, from $13.1 million to $20.2 million
Funding for grants for nuclear energy research is up 85 per cent in the same period, from $2.3 million to $4.2 million
Funding for research into aquaculture – or fish farming – increased more than 116 per cent between 2007 and 2010, from $2.3 million to almost $5 million
Funding for research labelled by NSERC as “environment” increased 12 per cent from 2008 to 2010 — from $30.9 million to $34 million — but funding for environmental impacts of economic activities was down 13 per cent from $3.2 million to $2.8 million
Meanwhile, funding for climate and atmosphere is down seven per cent in the three years; earth sciences research is down about three per cent; money for research into conservation and preservation is down more than seven per cent, and the three research areas that fund work related to bodies of water saw funding decreases of 48 per cent, 62 per cent and 18 per cent.
“The granting agencies are still making grants, but… just like the government programs, they’re not granting in areas that are not considered business-led and industry relevant,” Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May said…
Apart from direct cuts, MP Kennedy Stewart, the NDP critic for science and technology, sees an increase in “fettered spending” – research with strings attached, so that scientists are required to work with an industrial partner. The reduction in so-called “discovery research” in favour of industry and applied research is a mistake, Stewart said.
“They see (pure science) as kind of a cash cow which is taking up a lot of money in Canada, and it’s not really generating short-term economic benefit, so they think it has to be radically restructured, he said. “It’s an ill-conceived move.”