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November in Review

Rob Ford ejected, Dan Kellar's charges dropped, Chimps get the mid-life blues too

by Dominion Contributors

Rob Ford looks to be on his way towards ex-mayor. [Photo: AshtonPal]
Rob Ford looks to be on his way towards ex-mayor. [Photo: AshtonPal]

THE LAWS THEY ARE A-CHANGING:

The latest omnibus budget bill (C-45) threatens to severely affect Canada's environment, including through the creation of a new Navigation Protection Act, which will strip away protections from the majority of Canada’s water bodies.

Julian Fantino, now Minister of International Co-operation, is calling for increased CIDA support for projects directly tied to Canadian mining companies working abroad. This after a November parliamentary committee report prioritized CIDA's public-private partnerships, such as controversial international pilot projects with multi-million dollar mining companies. According to MiningWatch, the report "doesn’t just tie Canadian aid to mining interests, it would actually restructure CIDA to better serve the interests of the corporate sector."

The Council of Yukon First Nations and the two Kaska First Nations are condemning the territorial government's move to amend the Yukon Oil and Gas Act. The act was signed "in good faith" by all Yukon First Nations in 1997 and gives First Nations without land claim agreements veto power over oil and gas development in traditional territory. The proposed amendments would remove the Kaska's veto right.

IN THE COURTS:

In what some observers are calling the most important Canadian human rights ruling of the past decade, the BC Supreme Court found that a North Vancouver school district discriminated against a child by not providing adequate special needs programming. "Adequate special education is not a dispensable luxury," Judge Abella ruled.

Exactly one year after pleading guilty alongside five others to charges arising from anti-G20 protests, Mandy Hiscocks filed a human rights application against the Vanier Centre for Women and the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Hiscocks, who was released on December 3, alleges in her application that the process of assigning inmates to maximum security discriminates against them on the basis of political belief, citizenship, mental health status, disability, gender and other prohibited grounds.

Ex-student spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois was found guilty of contempt by a Quebec judge who ruled he illegally encouraged students to disobey an injunction, filed by student Jean-François Morasse, banning picket lines at the Université de Laval in Quebec City last spring. Nadeau-Dubois has filed an appeal of the conviction, which will be heard in January.

A group of 38 workers from Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador are still awaiting a payment of over $2 million from their employers, SNC Lavalin and Seli, after the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled the workers were discriminated against when they were paid half of what European workers earned. The ruling was issued in 2008 but the companies are headed to the BC Supreme Court in December to appeal the decision.

Criminal charges were dropped against Dan Kellar, a blogger who wrote about an undercover police officer who had befriended him as part of a pre-G20 police operation to spy on activists. Kellar was arrested and charged with counselling to commit assault, criminal defamation, criminal harassment and intimidation for writing about the cop. Julian Ichim still faces similar charges.

In her first public statement, Ann Hansen spoke out about her recent arrest and imprisonment. In August, the former Direct Action member was arrested and had her parole suspended for "unauthorized associations and political activity" in the context of growing anti-prison organizing in Kingston, Canada’s prison capital.

The Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Act got a facelift, including the removal of tenant tenure, warnings issued to tenants after 15 days of nonpayment of rent, tweaks to subletting rules, changes to the process for rent increases, reasons for ending a lease, security deposit interest rates and late-rent payments. Nearly 30 per cent of Nova Scotians are tenants.

FIRST PEOPLES:

On November 14, Israel assassinated Ahmed al-Jabari, head of Hamas' military wing, with an air strike on his car in Gaza. Rockets were subsequently fired from Gaza, killing 3 Israeli citizens. The IDF launched Operation Pillar of Defence, an eight-day cross-border offensive which left dead at least 166 Palestinians (including 34 children and minors) and six Israelis. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire includes negotiations between Israel and Hamas to ease the Gaza border blockade.

Tyendinaga Mohawk police and the OPP are investigating whether the band council has been criminally negligent in its handling of an ongoing water crisis on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. A number of children have been diagnosed with cancer recently and others have developed body sores. Within the last year, three Mohawk children were diagnosed with leukemia, and a brain tumor was found in another. One child died in September.

In a 138-9 vote at the United Nations General Assembly (with 41 abstentions), Palestine upgraded its UN status from observer to "non-member observer state." Canada was among the few nations to vote against the resolution. Speaking at the assembly, Foreign Minister John Baird said that Canada opposed the bid "in the strongest terms." One day later, Israel announced it will build 3,000 new illegal settlements in the West Bank.

TRANS RIGHTS:

Eighteen cities across Canada joined in mourning on November 20, the fourteenth annual International Trans Day of Remembrance. On the same day, Bill C-279, which will enshrine "gender identity" in Canada’s Human Rights Act, headed to committee after second reading. A final vote in the House is still pending.

Gender Identity and Gender Expression could be added as protected categories under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act, if amendments proposed by the provincial government are accepted. If the amendments pass, Nova Scotia would be the fourth Canadian jurisdiction to institute such protections, after Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.

TORONTO JOBS:

On November 26, after two embattled years in office, Rob Ford was ejected from office after a ruling by Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland. Ford has appealed the decision, which found him guilty of breaching the city's conflict of interest law. If he fails, Ford will cease to be mayor of Toronto on December 10, 2012. Hackland has since clarified that Ford would qualify to run in a mayoral by-election. The jockeying has already begun for Ford's replacement.

Toronto streetcar driver Dino Oroc was reinstated with full pay, following a barrage of public criticism of his suspension. Oroc had been suspended for leaving his vehicle unattended while he chased a man accused of sexually assaulting one of his passengers.

GOODBYES:

On November 30, the Toronto Women’s Bookstore closed its doors after 39 years of business. TWB owner Victoria Moreno commented that both consumers and store owners need to make an effort if the independent bookstore industry is to be revitalized.

A centuries-old hot spring considered sacred by the Haida has mysteriously dried up. What led the spring to dry is not known, although it may have been caused by one of the hundreds of aftershocks that rattled Haida Gwaii after an earthquake shook BC in October.

CELEBRATION:

Residents of Melancthon Township, north of Toronto, are celebrating years of activism achieving its goal. Highland Companies has announced it will withdraw its application for a license to build a massive open-pit limestone quarry on some of the most productive farmland in Ontario.

CHIMPS HAVE MID-LIFE CRISES TOO:

Although the possible explanations range from existential despair to social malaise, a recent study has shown that chimpanzees and orangutans appear to suffer from mid-life crises. This would suggest that it's not so much the thinning hairline as it is a combination of primate biology and society that is making you contemplate that new Harley.

 


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