Sudbury Social Justice News - May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

Sudbury Social Justice News - May 21, 2012

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1) All May: Continuing Earth Month

2) Tuesday, May 22: Next meeting of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty

3) Wednesday, May 23: "The Injustice System" - A talk by John Moore about his struggle against an unjust and racist conviction

4) Saturday, May 26: Eat Local Sudbury Membership Launch Celebration

5) Saturday, May 26: Myths and Mirrors' Downtown Grand Opening and Metal Works Project Unveiling

6) Monday, June 11 - Friday, June 15: Peer Support Training Conference



1) "A chromite smelter in Greater Sudbury and mining in the Ring of Fire - what are the risks?" by Joan Kuyek

2) Request for solidarity and support for the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

3) "Quebec Students Mobilize Against Draconian Law Aimed at Breaking Four-Month Strike" by Roger Annis




All May: Continuing Earth Month

Check out for a complete list of events associated with Earth Month in Sudbury.



Tuesday, May 22: Next meeting of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty

Time: 6:30-8:30pm

Location: Rethink Green, 176 Larch Street, Sudbury

Matters to be discussed include ongoing direct action support work and organizing against the proposed provincial budget.



Wednesday, May 23: "The Injustice System" - A talk by John Moore about his struggle against an unjust and racist conviction

Time: 10:00am

Location: Aboriginal People's Alliance (Northern Ontario) or APANO, 66 Elm Street, Sudbury



Saturday, May 26: Eat Local Sudbury Membership Celebration

Time: 11:00am-2:00pm

Location: 176 Larch Street, Sudbury

Always wanted to become a member? Need to renew your membership? Want to know more about Eat Local Sudbury?

Come join the celebration!

11:00-12:00pm Peggy Baillie, our new Managing Director will give a talk on cooking with different meat cuts

12:00-2:00pm will be the membership drive

A complimentary, all local lunch will be provided, and there will be activities for the kids!

This event on Facebook:



Saturday, May 26: Myths and Mirrors' Downtown Grand Opening and Metal Works Project Unveiling

Time: 1:00-4:00pm

Location: 139 Durham Street, Sudbury

Myths and Mirrors Community Arts and Village International Sudbury are joining forces and sharing space at VIS's Durham St. location.

You are invited to celebrate this partnership and the Grand Opening of Myths and Mirrors' Downtown Space.


1 pm: Announcement of Partnership between VIS and M&M.

2 pm: Metal Works Project Public Unveiling: Come celebrate the amazing collaborative art work our community created to explore issues around our work and what it means to us!

3 pm: Public Announcement of Myths and Mirrors' new 3 year theme: The Art of Survival/The Survival of Art.

Please join us to explore this new theme through a community art visioning process open to participants of all ages.

Refreshments will be served! Fair trade smoothies for sale!

We will also be participating in Sudbury's down town yard sale! Look for both VIS and M&M!!!!

This event on Facebook:



Monday, June 11 - Friday, June 15: Peer Support Training Conference

Time: 9:00am-4:00pm each day

Location: Days Inn Sudbury, North Banquet, 117 Elm Street

We invite you to participate in our five-day training program and build  upon your qualifications in the field of peer support!

"Peer support is sometimes known as self-help, mutual aid, co-counselling or mutual support." (Mental Health Commission of Canada)

For many people with lived experience of mental illness, recovery is an ongoing journey. We know that a lot of skills are developed from negotiating the rough terrain of individual wellness and from encounters with various mental health services and supports in our community. Recovery is a very individual experience, but it is often strengthened by connecting with someone else who has been there-a peer.

Peer Support Workers are formalized, paid employees who adhere to best and emerging practices in the field which embrace confidentiality, boundary setting and conflict resolution, as well as traditional skills found within the mental health social services system.

NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action is pleased to offer a five-day training program presented by Robyn Priest and Susan Musante from the Alaska Peer Support Consortium to offer those with lived experience of mental illness help to build their knowledge and qualifications in peer support for future employment.

To sign up for this conference, contact Jude Ashburn at 705 675-9193 ext. 8206




A chromite smelter in Greater Sudbury and mining in the Ring of Fire - what are the risks?

An information sheet prepared by Joan Kuyek, former National Co-ordinator of Mining Watch Canada

If it goes ahead, the Ring of Fire chromite mining and smelter in northern Ontario will bring serious environmental, safety and health concerns. Although we need more and better livelihoods in the North, we have to decide if the price is worth it. What are the risks?

Pollution and contaminants

Over 80,000 hectares of the Sudbury region have already been seriously damaged by 125 years of nickel and copper smelting. A ferrochromium smelter in the Sudbury Region will create new problems for our air, water and soils. A byproduct of all ferrochromium smelters is hexavalent chromium (Cr VI), which will be distributed in dust from the plant, will be stored in tailings impoundments and will seep into our waterways and aquifers (all tailings impoundments seep, and can also have catastrophic failures).

Unlike Chromium III which exists in nature and is relatively harmless, chromium VI is created by industrial processes like smelting, and is made worse by acidic environments (such as those in Sudbury).

Chromium VI is particularly toxic when inhaled and can cause severe damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver and blood cells. It is a known carcinogen.

At the mine site in the Ring of Fire, methyl mercury will be released by the draining of peat bogs, contaminating major rivers like the Attawapiskat.

Safety and Transportation

Although the final routes and form of transportation are still undecided, ore from the Ring of Fire will be transported from the deposit to existing rail-lines and highways, where the ore trucks will compete on our already dangerous and over-worked highways and municipal roads. Individual families bear the costs of accidents on these roads; taxpayers pay to maintain them.

Can we depend on government to protect us from these hazards?

Our health and environmental protection systems are completely inadequate to protect us from these impacts. So far, the Environmental Assessment planned for the mine is completely inadequate; our environmental monitoring and enforcement regimes basically give industry a license to pollute, and - as we have already seen in Sudbury - the long term maintenance of tailings impoundments and smelter wastes have no financial surety.

What will it cost us in government subsidies?

Cliffs and the other companies have been demanding enormous government interventions to assist Ring of Fire development: building an all weather road and/or paying the lion's share of a railroad to the mine site, transmission lines and possibly new power sources, drastically reduced hydro rates, contribution to the development of a new ferrochrome smelter, etc. They will also expect governments to pay for training for First Nations and others to be able to take on jobs, not to mention environmental protection and enforcement.

Damaging the Boreal Ecosystem on which life depends

The development of the huge chromite deposit will push roads (or railways) through the Boreal Forest, opening up a huge previously undisturbed area to mining, forestry, and other activities. Ontario 's northern boreal region represents one of the last intact, original forests remaining on the planet.

At 20,000 square kilometres, the Ring of Fire is six times the size of the Alberta oil sands deposits. The James Bay Lowlands is home to many at-risk birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians, such as lake sturgeon, woodland caribou, and wolverine. The development puts them at serious risk.

Accelerating Climate Change

The peatlands of James Bay capture carbon at a rate of 0.273 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year if left undisturbed. They currently store roughly 35 billion tonnes of carbon. Disturbing the peatlands will release carbon into the atmosphere (1).

Not only will we lose much of this carbon storage, but a ferrochromium smelter is an enormous consumer of energy- requiring 3000-4000 kWh per tonne of ferrochromium produced (1). In Finland a new nuclear reactor was required just to power a smelter and refinery. The modern Merafe Smelter in South Africa produces 28.25 carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per tonne of ferrochrome produced (2).

Parts of the world are already facing increased violent storms, droughts and flooding because of climate change. Do we want to make it worse?

How stable will a chromium industry be?

There is no shortage of chromite in the world, and its economic viability is determined by the demand for steel (assuming endless industrial growth globally) and restricting supply. Xstrata is the world's largest producer of ferrochrome, and will essentially ensure that the supply policies continue to favour their interests. The industry will replicate the boom and bust economy we have come to expect from our nickel and copper dependence.

1.   Ontario Nature fact sheet


More information can be found at:

For resources and local news coverage, find the "Ring of Fire - Chromite Mining in Northern Ontario" page on Facebook. 

Links and resources will also be distributed through the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury e-newsletter which covers local environmental issues, events, and calls to action.  Contact to request to receive this e-newsletter



Request for solidarity and support for the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

Sisters, brothers,

We write you during a dark time for democratic, human and associative rights in Quebec with the following appeal for your help and solidarity. As you have no doubt heard, the government recently enacted legislation that amounts to the single biggest attack on the right to organize and freedom of expression in North America since the McCarthy period and the biggest attack on civil and democratic rights since the enactment of the War Measures Act in 1970. Arguably, this recent law will unduly criminalize more law-abiding citizens than even McCarthy's hearings and the War Measures Act ever could.

Among other draconian elements brought forward by this law, any gathering of 50 or more people must submit their plans to the police eight hours ahead of time and must agree to any changes to the gathering's trajectory, starttime, etc. Any failure to comply with this stifling of freedom of assembly and association will be met with a fine of up to $5,000 for every participant, $35,000 for someone representing a 'leadership' position, or $125,000 if a union - labour or student - is deemed to be in charge. The participation of any university staff (either support staff or professors) in any student demonstration (even one that follows the police's trajectory and instructions) is equally punishable by these fines. Promoting the violation of any of these prohibitions is considered, legally, equivalent to having violated them and is equally punishable by these crippling fines.

One cannot view this law in isolation. In the past few months, the Québec student movement - inspired by Occupy, the Indignados of Spain, the students of Chile, and over 50 years of student struggle in Québec; and presently at North America's forefront of fighting the government's austerity agenda - has been confronted by precedent-shattering judicial and police repression in an attempt to force the end of the strike and our right to organize collectively. Our strike was voted and is re-voted every week in local general

assemblies across Québec. As of May 18th, 2012 our committee has documented and is supporting 472 criminal accusations as well as 1047 ticket and penal offenses. One week in April saw over 600 arrests in three days. And those numbers only reflect those charged with an offense, without mentioning the thousands pepper sprayed and tear gassed, clubbed and beaten, detained and released. It does not mention Francis Grenier, who lost use of most of an eye when a sound grenade was illegally thrown by a police officer into his face in downtown Montreal. It does not mention Maxence Valade who lost a full eye and Alexandre Allard who clung to life in a coma on a hospital bed for days, both having received a police rubber bullet to the head in Victoriaville. And the thousands of others brutalized, terrorized, harassed and assaulted on our streets. Four students are currently being charged under provisions of the anti-terrorist laws enacted following September 11th.

In addition to these criminal and penal cases, of particular concern for those of us involved in the labour movement is that anti-strike forces have filed injunctions systematically from campus to campus to prevent the enactment of strike mandates, duly and democratically voted in general assemblies. Those who have defended their strike mandates and enforced the strike are now facing Contempt of Court charges and their accompanying potential $50,000 fines and potential prison time. One of our spokespeople, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, will appear in Superior Court under such a charge for having dared say, on May 13th of this year, that "I find it legitimate" that students form picket lines to defend their strike.

While we fight, on principle, against this judicialization of a political conflict, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the struggle on the streets has been, for many, transferred to the courtroom and we must act to defend our classmates, our friends and our family. This defense needs your help. Many students have been denied access to Legal Aid to help them to defend themselves. This, while students filing injunctions to end strikes have been systematically granted Legal Aid. While sympathetic lawyers in all fields of law have agreed to reduced rates and alot of free support, the inherent nature of the legal system means we are spending large sums of money on this defense by the day.

It is in this context that we appeal to you to help us cover the costs of this, our defense. Not only must we help those being unduly criminalized and facing injunctions undermining their right to associate, but we must act now and make sure that the criminalization and judicialization of a political struggle does not work and set a precedent that endangers the right to free speech and free assembly.

If you, your union, or your organization is able to give any amount of financial help, it would make an undeniable difference in our struggle. In addition to the outpouring of support from labour across Quebec, we have already begun to receive trans-Canadian and international solidarity donations. We thank you for adding your organization's support to the list.

If you have any questions, please contact us via email legal AT asse-solidarité <>. Telephone numbers can be given to you in a private message. You can also send you donation directly to the order of "Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante" (2065 rue Parthenais, Bureau 383, Montréal, QC, H2K 3T1) noting "CLASSE Legal Committee" in the memo line.

In solidarity,

Max Silverman

Law student at the Université du Québec à Montréal

Volunteer with the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

Andrée Bourbeau

Law student at the Université du Québec à Montréal

Delegate to the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

Emilie Charette

Law student at the Université du Québec à Montréal

Delegate to the Legal Committee of the CLASSE

Emilie Breton-Côté

Law student at the Université du Québec à Montréal

Volunteer with the Legal Committee of the CLASSE



Quebec Students Mobilize Against Draconian Law Aimed at Breaking Four-Month Strike

By Roger Annis

The strike of post-secondary students in Quebec has taken a dramatic turn with the provincial government rushing adoption of a special law on May 18 to suspend the school year at strike-bound institutions until August and outlaw protest activity deemed disruptive of institutions not participating in the strike.

Details of Bill 78 were unveiled the day before and debated in a special, overnight session of Quebec's National Assembly. They include a ban on demonstrations within 50 meters of a post-secondary institution and severe financial penalties on students or teachers and their organizations if they picket or otherwise protest in a manner declared 'illegal.' Demonstrations of ten or more people must submit their intended route of march to police eight hours in advance.

The elected representative and co-leader of the Quebec solidaire party, Amir Khadir, told the Assembly that the law aims to "criminalize and destroy" student organizations. Thousands of students marched angrily in the streets of Montreal, Quebec City and Sherbrooke on the evening of May 17 as the law was being debated in the National Assembly.

Courts are beginning to process the hundreds of students who have been arrested over the past three and a half months of the strike and issuing severe restrictions on movement and activity pending rulings.

The 24,000-member Bar Association of Quebec has spoken against Bill 78. Among its concerns is the provision that the education minister may rule by decree on education matters, bypassing the National Assembly, including ordering education institutions to withhold the transfer of membership dues to student organizations.

Leaders of the unions of university and CEGEP (junior college) professors (the FQPPU and FNEEQ, respectively) as well as the large, trade union centrals have also condemned the measure.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of the CLASSE student federation called the law, "repressive and authoritarian. It restricts students' right to strike, which has been recognized for years by educational institutions."

His colleague, Jeanne Reynolds, says the law is a "losing proposition" coming from a "haughty and arrogant" Premier Jean Charest. Both leaders reaffirmed the mass protest for May 22, saying, "No law will stop us from demonstrating." A mass, student protest in Montreal on May 22 that is already planned by the three largest students associations on strike will assuredly be even larger than the tens of thousands of participants already anticipated.

Government Was Failing to Intimidate Students and Supporters

The Quebec government provoked the student strike with its proposal last year, confirmed in its March 2012 budget, to increase tuition fees by 60 per cent over the next five years. That was then modified to a 75 per cent increase over seven years.

The deeply unpopular government has been battered and bruised by the strike, including on May 14 when Minister of Education Line Beauchamp submitted a surprise resignation. She buckled under the pressure of her responsibilities in carrying the government hard line.

In the leadup to Bill 78, politicians and editorialists were calling for greater use of police violence and court injunctions to break up student picket lines and support action by teachers and professors that have closed many colleges and university departments. But education administrators complained that the injunctions were "unenforceable" due to mass picketing. They were also nervous about the consequences of even more blatant exercises of police violence against students. Now they hope that the punitive measures in the new law will dissuade militant action.

The law targets another area of concern - teaching staff. Many professors have joined the picket lines of their students. They have said they would not be forced to teach under the threat of injunctions and riot police. Following a police attack on students at CEGEP Lionel-Groulx north of Montreal on May 15, for example, Jean Trudelle, president of the FNEEQ said, "The scenes we witnessed here this morning have shocked everyone, beginning with the students and professors directly concerned. It is inhuman to ask people to teach after such events."

Pressure on all the parties involved in the strike is intense because the school year is at stake. Both available options - cancellation of the school year or an unlikely concession by the government to temporarily suspend the tuition freeze permitting classes to resume - involve heavy financial sacrifices by students, making their tenacity all the more remarkable. Adding to the pressure on students is uncertainty over summer employment and the need to earn course credits during the summer months.

Bill 78 will complicate life for those in strike-bound CEGEPS because it projects that the current school year would resume in August and be completed in October. That means graduates intending to enter university would have to wait until September 2013.

The government, the business elite and editorialists in the mainstream media are counting on these pressures to push through the tuition increase. But they have underestimated student determination until now and, according to students, are still making the same mistake.

Some 160,000 students are on strike, approximately 35 per cent of the post-secondary student population in the province. Of those, 65,000 are CEGEP students, all in Montreal and surrounding regions. Only small numbers of students at the three English-language universities are on strike, while the three English CEGEPs (located in Montreal) are fully functional.

One additional feature of the strike has been the participation of high school students. They have staged one day walkouts from school and will likely have a strong presence at the May 22 action.

Calls for Inquiry into Police Violence Against Students

Television, radio and print news reports are full of discussion of the police violence that erupted in Victoriaville on May 4 in front of a hotel conference center where the governing Liberal party was holding a meeting of its executive council. The riot squad of the Quebec provincial police (Sûreté du Québec) unleashed unprecedented violence against protesters that shocked many in the province.

According to estimates published in the daily newspapers, police fired 30 plastic bullets, more than 100 concussion grenades and countless canisters of CS and pepper gas. Two students were gravely injured when struck by police projectiles - Maxence Valade lost an eye and Alexandre Allard suffered a life-threatening concussion. Others suffered broken bones and teeth or other traumatic injuries from police truncheons.

Witnesses say that projectiles were fired point blank by police at the height of heads and upper bodies, in violation of police protocol (and elementary human rights). Photo and video news reports confirm the accusations. One video image captured the injury suffered by Allard.

Police blocked bridges leading out of Victoriaville when the protest was over that evening in order to intercept and arrest protesters returning to Montreal or other points of origin. They turned back three entire buses of students and supporters, turning the buses into overnight prison cells. Passengers were selected for arrest as the night wore on and were otherwise instructed not to speak to each other or use communication devices.

The Montreal daily Gazette reports 110 arrests by police, and counting. There are widespread calls for a formal inquiry into police action. Among those voices are Québec solidaire, the Parti québécois and the League of Rights and Freedoms.

The use of plastic bullets against civic protests was harshly criticized (article in French) by a panel of five members of a legal observer team created by the Quebec government to observe protests during the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001. A member of that team says today she doesn't know what became of their report. She says that in light of events in Victoriaville, it looks like it was simply "filed away."

The student strike has also occasioned other attacks on democratic rights. The federal government is moving on a new law that would criminalize the wearing of a mask at public assemblies declared to be "illegal." Montreal mayor Gilles Tremblay has quickly rushed a similar municipal law into place. (The mayor has his own troubles at hand. Three of his recent top aides were arrested on May 17 as part of a massive corruption probe of the construction industry in Quebec that has rocked the province from top to bottom.)

Four young people may face prosecution under "anti-terrorist" legislation for releasing several smoke bombs in Montreal's underground subway system on May 10. The stunt closed the system for several hours during the morning rush hour. The accused surrendered to police the following day. Student leaders criticized the action and how it is being used to deter attention from the issues of their strike.

Background on Student Strikers

Members of the three student associations waging the strike voted by massive margins during the week of May 7 to reject a shabby government offer to end the strike. The offer issued from 22 hours of overnight talks on May 4, 5 between the government and the three large student associations - CLASSE, the FECQ and the FEUQ.

The revolt is fueled by deep opposition to what students consider to be the commercialization of education and degradation of social rights across the whole of society. Some view the strike as part of a broader, anti-capitalist struggle for a society of social justice. The association that expresses this most forcefully is CLASSE (Broad Coalition of the Association for Trade Union-Student Solidarity).

One of the goals of CLASSE is to spearhead a broader social movement in Quebec society that could challenge capitalist dominance and fight for a new society based on principles of social justice. It proposes the tactics of broad, "social strikes" to forge a fighting alliance with workers and others victims of class society. Specifically for education planning and policy, it wants to convoke États généraux (civic assemblies) to discuss and decide education policy. The assemblies would be composed of the elected representative of the main protagonists in Quebec education.

This resembles the "red university" strategy of the mass, student rebellion of the 1960s and 1970s in which students sought to use their capacities and the resources of the universities to spark broad, anti-capitalist struggle.

CLASSE represents just over half of the 160,000 striking students. The association's numbers have grown by 10,000 since the beginning of the strike from students switching membership from the other student groups. CLASSE's appeal is due to its principled stand for free, public education and its democratic internal functioning.

The association held a two-part meeting of its national council on May 10 and 13 in Montreal and Quebec City, respectively, which discussed and approved strategy in the ongoing fight. It approved continuing mobilizations as well as support for campaigns of other movements such as women's rights, refugee rights and trade union-led opposition to privatizations and other attacks by governments on social services. There were some 200 delegates at the meetings.

Delegates voted to demand that representatives of employer associations be excluded from future talks on education with the government. The association considers that public education is being treated as a commercial entity in the capitalist market instead of the precious human and social right that it should be. "The elite already have enough outlets to express their views to government," said one delegate in the discussion of the resolution.

Another resolution proclaimed that CLASSE will not participate in permanent councils to oversee the management of education institutions. One aspect of the failed government proposal of May 4, 5 was the proposed formation of a multi-partite council to study education spending and recommend cuts to government. Student representatives and their allies (teachers, education workers) would be a minority on such a cost-cutting body or on more permanent versions.

Several delegates argued that "co-management" is a trap that places student representatives in unequal and disadvantageous positions. They said that the power of students stems from mobilizing actions in the streets and in the institutions. The goal of CLASSE, they reminded the Montreal conference, is radical social change, including free and universal access to education.

The conference session in Montreal spent considerable time discussing the relationship of CLASSE and the student struggle to the trade unions in Quebec. There is dissatisfaction over the role that leaders of the large, trade union centrals played in the talks on May 4, 5. They were invited to participate by the government.

The union leaders came out of the talks saying that the government proposal could be a "road map" toward mitigating the government's tuition hike. They treated the proposal as a fait accompli, whereas student leaders insisted it would go to vote of their members.

Many student activists also consider that the non-education union federations and their affiliates have been long on statements of support and short on action.

Delegate after delegate in Montreal spoke of the importance of relations with the unions, saying that workers' rights and the social wage are under attack by the same government that is attacking students and education services. In the end, the meeting resolved to continue seeking points of agreement and common action with workers and their unions.

A Powerful Movement in Need of More Allies

One need only ride public transit or stroll through downtown Montreal to appreciate the scope and power of this student strike. Montreal has the highest, per capita post-secondary student population of any city in North America. In the city core, there are four universities with an enrollment of 175,000.

Students recognize that they need allies in order to win demands for free, accessible education. The CLASSE association explains on its website that it is not asking simply for statements of support:

"We wish, on the contrary, for a convergence of the entire Quebec population against the politics of cuts and merchandising of social services and our collective rights. Only a generalization of the student strike to workplaces will make such a convergence effective. Our call, therefore, is a call to the entire population for a social strike!"

Lex Gill, president of the student union at the English-language Concordia University, wrote in the May 12 Montreal daily The Gazette that the students, not the government, speak for Quebec society on education matters.

"A ballot in a box every few years should never trump the will of an entire generation. ... When the electoral process fails an entire generation, when public consultation isn't meaningful, when petitions, letters and phone calls to elected representatives go unheard, there is often no other option than to express (social) convictions in the streets."

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of CLASSE explained to journalists on May 13, "After 13 weeks of strike, an exceptional solidarity has been formed. Students are prepared to go much further in the struggle than was imagined at the outset."

This is the great fear that the capitalists in Quebec and in Canada have for this movement. As a columnist in the national Globe and Mail daily lamented on May 14, "In Quebec, students are confronting the Liberal Charest government ostensibly over tuition fees, but in reality over who governs." •

Roger Annis is a solidarity and social justice activist in Vancouver, B.C. He maintains a blog at where this article first appeared.