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Connexions Digest Collected News Briefs

Published in issues 50 - 54
December 1989 - February 1992


Compiled by Ulli Diemer


News Briefs published in the Connexions Digest #50, December 1989

Postal cuts threaten magazines
The Progressive Conservative government's spring budget included drastic cuts to the century-old postal subsidy program. Only 12 months earlier it had promised magazine publishers the program would be retained for at least five more years. The budget cuts $45 million from the $220 million subsidy program. According the Canadian Periodical Publishers' Association (CPPA), Canada Post provides the critical link between publisher and reader for the overwhelming majority of Canadian magazines. Subscriptions are the backbone of nearly all magazines, because newsstands are dominated by American magazines and account for less than 10 per cent of Canadian magazine revenues. The subsidy program makes periodicals of all types available to readers, no matter where they live. Canadian magazines are at a disadvantage when competing with American magazines because they have the same upfront costs, but have a much smaller market and don't have the economies of scale U.S. publications have. According to CPPA president Lorraine Filyer, postal increases could wipe out the industry's slim profits; in fact, 60 per cent of CPPA member publications operate with no profit margin at all, even with the postal subsidy.
(CX3637)

GST another blow to magazines
The proposed goods and services tax (GST) is expected to have a substantial negative impact on the Canadian magazine industry, according to the Canadian Periodical Publishers' Association (CPPA) and the Don't Tax Reading Coalition. The tax will force magazines to raise their prices by 7 per cent, the amount of the tax, but studies have shown that this will mean an inevitable dropping off of subscribers and purchasers because of price resistance, especially since subscriptions to U.S. magazines will not be subject to the tax. The CPPA is urging readers to write to Prime Minister Mulroney ask that the government not tax reading. Meanwhile, Firefly Books has produced sheets of protest stamps, for use on the outside of letters, bearing the inscription "Hi! I Tax Books", accompanied by pictures of Brian Mulroney and Michael Wilson. Incidentally, the photos of Mulroney and Wilson used on the stamps were provided gratis by their offices. "Any taxpayer can ask a minister's office for a picture and that's what I did,", said Estelle Gee of Firefly. "But I didn't tell them what I wanted them for."
(CX3638)

Doublespeak award for Wilson, Tory cabinet
The Doublespeak Commission of the Canadian Council of Teachers of English (CCTE) has announced that Finance Minister Michael Wilson and the federal cabinet have won the second annual CCTE Public Doublespeak Award. Wilson won for his statements justifying the government's refusal to fulfill many of its election promises. Wilson said, "The commitments we made as a government going back to last summer were taken in a context of a program expenditure profile which I think was responsible. I think what we've seen since that time is a significant increase in interest rates, which obviously is colouring the fiscal position for the next year and [other] years if we don't deal with the fiscal problem."
External Affairs Minister Joe Clark was cited for his response to the disclosure that the Bank of Nova Scotia had made a $600 million loan to a South African-controlled company, despite a ban on such loans. Said Clark, "The loan by the Bank of Nova Scotia is in our judgement in conformity with the language of the Commonwealth ban and consequently the government of Canada's ban."
Also sharing the prize was Defense Minister Bill McKnight, who justified the government's decision to let the U.S. test its advanced stealth cruise missile in Canada. McKnight said that the radar-evading missile "is by no means a 'stealth' cruise missile," just an improved model that "looks very similar to its predecessor."
Also cited was Trade Minister John Crosbie, who said, after it was revealed that his wife and daughter had been given free trips to Thailand, that "it was - I would presume it was - a gift to my wife." The next day he said, "My wife went to represent me and to represent Canada in furtherance of good relationships between the country and Thailand. It is not a gift in the ordinary sense of the word."
The CCTE also gave its George Orwell Plain English Award to Adbusters of Vancouver for the television commercial the group produced. The commercial was designed to give the other side of the story after the Council of Forest Industries televised commercials about its reforestation efforts.
For further information on the awards, or to nominate candidates for next year's awards, write to Prof Richard Coe, Dept. of English, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1S6.
-Source: Quarterly Review of Doublespeak
(CX3639)

Private guards block public street
In the Toronto suburb of North York, controversy has erupted over the fact that a developer has been allowed to post a guard on a public road running through a posh subdivision. Only those with appointments are being allowed past the guardhouse built in the middle of Joel Swirsky Blvd. by the developer, Bramalea Ltd. North York has been allowing the developer to restrict access to the area, over the protests of residents who are angry that a private company can block a public road. According to Bramalea Ltd. spokeswoman Maureen McCauley, the guardhouse is justifiable because the homes in the subdivision contain "very, very expensive furniture".
(CX3640)

Federal budget
The federal budget has been severely criticized by grassroots groups since it was released (after first being leaked) in late April. Among the budget's provisions are the cancellation of the promised national child care program, unemployment insurance cutbacks and premium increases, a regressive goods and services tax, and cutbacks in many programs which serve the poor, women, and other disadvantaged groups. Among the contentious items are a "claw-back" of old age security and family allowances, a measure which undermines the universality of social programs. Critics contend a fairer approach would be to tax those with higher incomes at a higher rate, but the government is unwilling to do this.
(CX3641)

Budget spares banks
While many Canadians will suffer as a result of the Progressive Conservative government's budget, Canada's banks had the good fortune to emerge unscathed. Finance Minister Michael Wilson's budget exempted the banks from the new federal sales tax. The sales tax is to be applied to virtually all transactions, whether they involve products or services. However, banks and shares traded on the stock market are being exempted. (Minor banking services such as the rental of safety deposit boxes will be subject to the tax.) It had been estimated that the new tax would have cost Canada's banks about $500 million had it been applied to them.
By another stroke of good fortune, the banks were also spared the application of a proposed tax on bank profits. According to Kersi Doodha, a bank analyst at Maison Placements Canada Inc., a tax on bank profits might have collected about $500 million over two years. As a group, Canada's major domestic banks posted a record of $3.3 billion profit in fiscal 1988. Doodha credited the banking lobby with ensuring that the budget spared them any harsh treatment.
(CX3642)

UI benefits to be cut
The federal government is implementing a major overhaul of the Unemployment Insurance system. The changes will cut benefits being paid to unemployed workers. The money being cut is to be used to pay for retraining programs, leading Employment and Immigration Minister Barbara McDougall to deny that Unemployment Insurance was being cut. Critics pointed out, however, that using the funds to pay for a separate program doesn't change the fact that many people will be facing sharp reductions in what they receive. The changes double the number of weeks required to qualify for UI, meaning that some people would be unable to collect benefits at all. Benefits are also to be slashed from 60% to 50%, and the maximum number of weeks that a person can collect UI is to be reduced from 50 to 35. The changes will place a greater burden on provincial and municipal social assistance budgets, because more people will be forced to turn to welfare and to food banks to survive. Low-income workers will be disproportionately affected by the cutbacks: 80 per cent of those affected will have incomes under $25,000 a year. The Atlantic provinces will be especially hard hit; it is estimated that 12.1 per cent of benefit losses will be in the Atlantic region, which has only 7.7 per cent of Canada's work force.
(CX3643)

VIA shutdown meets opposition
The federal Progressive Conservative government's decision to slash train service in half (with a possible complete shutdown of passenger rail service to come) has met with widespread opposition. Critics of the VIA system, who have the ear of the government, have said that VIA's continuing deficit ($600 million in 1988) is an argument for abandoning passenger rail service. However, defenders of rail transportation make a number of strong arguments. They point out that VIA was originally set up by the government in such a way as to guarantee it would lose money. VIA was carved out of CP and CN, but CP and CN were given ownership of all of the system's track and stations, and VIA has been forced to pay huge sums to 'rent' the use of the tracks, while having to put up with its trains being delayed to accommodate freight traffic. VIA was also saddled with outdated rolling stock, and has never been given the capital to invest in modern equipment. VIA's loss figures are also greatly inflated because the government requires it to service remote locations which are inevitably money-losers. Rail supporters also point out that air and road traffic receive huge hidden subsidies, such as government-financed roads and airports, many of which are already stretched to capacity. And they note that car and truck exhaust fumes are major sources of pollution, including acid rain and ozone layer depletion, while rail is much less polluting.
Critics of the VIA cuts are also challenging the undemocratic way the decision is being implemented. The government made no mention of cuts during the last election campaign, although they were already being secretly planned at the time. Now it is pushing them through by executive order without holding hearings or passing legislation, using a controversial legal manoeuvre to circumvent the due process laid out in the National Transportation Act.
About 2,800 VIA workers will lose their jobs, together with about 5,500 in other companies directly dependent on VIA.
(CX3644)

Ontario allows 'monster' trucks
The Ontario government has decided to allow extra-long tractor-trailer trucks to operate in the province. Size limits for the trucks are being extended to 25 metres (82 feet) long. Railway spokespeople said that the proposed new regulations will give truckers a boost against railway transportation, although railways are environmentally better because they use less energy. According to CN spokesman Mike Matthews, truckers pay only a tiny fraction of the cost of maintaining provincial highways, while railways spend hundreds of millions of dollars maintaining track with much smaller government subsidies. The decision was also criticized by the Canadian Automobile Association, which said that the larger trucks are responsible for more accidents and deaths on the roads. The trucks are already allowed in the western provinces.
(CX3645)

Executive salaries rising
Canadian executives' salaries increased by an average of 7 per cent in the year ending July 1989. Workers meanwhile received an average increase of 5.8 per cent.
-From a survey by Peat Marwick Stevenson and Kellogg
(CX3646)

Free trade to mean higher pay for execs
The salaries of Canadian business executives should rise by about 35 per cent under free trade, according to Douglas Caldwell, the chairman of Caldwell Partners International, an executive search firm. "Free trade makes it much easier for Canadians to move to the U.S.", said Caldwell. "Canadian companies are upping their salary levels to hang on to their people."
(CX3647)

Jobs said lost under free trade
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has released a report saying that 55,500 jobs were lost in the first nine months of free trade. "We are moving from a branch-plant economy to a warehouse economy," said CLC president Shirley Carr. "More jobs are moving south every day."
(CX3648)

Canadian magazines worried
The Canadian Periodical Publishers' Association (CPPA) is concerned that legislation which discourages U.S. publishers from selling their Canadian "overflow" circulation to Canadian advertisers is being circumvented in the wake of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Tariff item 9958 prohibits the importation into Canada of magazines in which more than 5 per cent of advertising is aimed primarily at Canadians. It also specifically prohibits the importation of special, split-run, or "Canadian" editions containing Canadian-directed advertising which does not appear in the main edition from the originating country. This tariff item has helped protect an indigenous Canadian magazine publishing industry. According to the CPPA, some publishers are now exploring loopholes in the legislation (for example, printing their Canadian edition in Canada so they won't have to import it into the country. Others appear simply to be ignoring the legislation in the belief that penalties are not serious enough to worry about. Since the tariff was first imposed in 1964, some magazines have received repeated warnings, but no magazine has actually been turned back no matter how often it has broken the rules. The CPPA fears that such infractions will now increase.
-CPPA Newsletter #128
(CX3649)

Tax breaks only for free traders
Revenue Canada has ruled that corporations which made contributions to the massive pro-free trade campaign will be able to claim their contributions as business expenses eligible for tax deductions, but that businesspeople who opposed free trade, like Edmonton publisher Mel Hurtig, cannot claim the contributions as a business expense. Revenue Canada's ruling is based on the contention that it was good business for companies to support free trade because free trade would lead to increased income for them, whereas opposing free trade was not justifiable in business terms.
The federal government and the business-backed pro-free trade alliances spent about $60 million supporting free trade. The two main anti-free trade groups, in contrast, spent a total of about $900,000. In addition, the pro-free trade forces received incalculable amounts of free publicity from the news media, almost all of which backed free trade and slanted their coverage accordingly.
(CX3650)

We all like to save on our taxes
The Bronfman family is arranging for two of its companies to shift $528 million worth of oil and gas assets, for reasons that may have more to do with tax sheltering than corporate restructuring. Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. will buy most of the energy assets of Westmin Resources Ltd. Both companies are owned by the Bronfman family. At the same time, Westmin will transfer tax writeoffs it has accumulated to Norcen. Westmin has at least $125 million in potential tax credits which it can't use because its reported income isn't high enough. Norcen will use the credits it acquires to 'shelter' some of its own earnings. Norcen's director of planning, George Kenda, said that "a critical aspect" of the deal is getting a favourable tax ruling on it from Ottawa. "If we do not get the tax ruling, it would set the deal back," said Kenda. Kenda said it was too early to tell whether the corporate reshuffling would lead to layoffs.
(CX3651)

Tax Facts
In the period 1984-1988, an upper-income family with an annual household income of $122,000 enjoyed a six per cent reduction of its tax burden. During the same period, a middle-income household with an income of $49,000 faced a ten per cent increase in taxes paid. A working poor household with a $24,000 income witnessed a 44 per cent increase in its tax burden.
-Canadian Council on Social Development
(CX3652)

Nothing for workers at bankrupt firm
Workers at a bankrupt limousine company in the Toronto area have been told they have no hope of collecting any of the $625,000 in severance and termination pay which is owed to them. At a bankruptcy hearing for Eureka Coach Company, 130 workers received nothing, while the Toronto-Dominion Bank and a Vancouver-based holding company split the firm's $1.5 million in assets. "The workers get a kick in the teeth any time a company declares bankruptcy," said Jerry Dias, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 112, which represented the workers. He urges changes in federal and provincial insolvency laws to ensure that employees receive monies owing to them.
(CX3653)

Post Office workers have some rights
An arbitrator has ruled that Canada Post acted wrongfully in disciplining workers who criticized it publicly or who joined information pickets. The policy threatened disciplinary action against workers who wrote letters, spoke publicly, or picketed against Canada Post, and was used on a number of occasions against workers who participated in the campaign against privatization and service cutbacks organized by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Under the policy, one B.C. letter carrier was suspended for five days for appearing before his municipal council asking it to support continued door-to-door mail delivery.
(CX3654)

Unions attack Quebec law
Quebec public sector unions are mounting a campaign against a Quebec law that imposes severe penalties on health-care workers who strike illegally. The law "does not respect fundamental rights. It is repressive and divisive," said Gerald Larose of the Confederation of National Trade Unions.
(CX3655)

Speed-up at Boeing
An electrical installer at Boeing's huge Everett plant near Seattle, Washington has gone public with allegations of quality problems at the plant. Les Warby, who holds a degree in electronic engineering technology, cited failings in training and quality control, and regular misuse of tools. He described the examination given to precision workers at the end of their company training course: "During the exam the teacher said feel free to help one another, and then he left the room." The 20 students then collaborated on the answers to the paper. Only one man, who refused to join in with the others, failed. Routine use of improper tools is rife, according to Mr. Warby. Special crimping tools to connect wires in high-vibration areas such as around engines are regularly ignored in favour of a pair of ordinary pliers. After regular flying these connections could shake themselves apart. "The attitude seems to be we've got a hundred customers out there all screaming for their planes. Let's meet our quota. If we have a problem, don't worry about it, they'll catch it somewhere else." Mr. Warby was one of a number of Boeing employees and ex-employees to go public with similar allegations. Media attention focused on Boeing, the largest manufacturer of civil aircraft in the world, after several Boeing planes suffered serious and unexplained mechanical problems recently.
(CX3656)

Falling out of the skies
From all over the planet, it seems, reports are coming in of bizarre failures in jumbo jets and their components: an engine stops working over the Pacific, part of a wing tears off a plane over Manila, nine passengers sucked out over Hawaii. Until lately, Boeing, the maker of most large commercial jetliners, tended to insist that it was up to the individual airlines to make sure their planes were safe. Early in 1989, however, Boeing, realizing that its own image was being tarnished by the publicity around plane failures, set up the Ageing Fleet Evaluation Program, to try to help deal with the problems of aging airplanes. The program has found that of the 1,649 Boeing 727s in service around the world, fully 435 have amassed more flying hours than they were expected to do in their entire working lives. Boeing is now planning to advise airlines about how to deal with metal fatigue and other problems of ageing, and to pressure airlines not to fly planes that ought to be pulled from service. "It's not these rinky-dink Third World airlines who are to blame," said a Boeing executive. "They usually have their services and inspections performed in Europe, where work is thorough enough. No, it's big corporate airlines that push their planes -- our planes -- to the limits and beyond. Look at the figures. Read the news." Journalist Simon Winchester, writing in the Manchester Guardian Weekly, points out, "The last three incidents involving jumbo jets -- the engine failure, the broken wing, the torn fuselage -- had three things in common. All involved older 747s, made by Boeing. All incidents took place over the unimaginable vastness of the Pacific Ocean. And all three incidents occurred on jets owned and operated by United Air Lines."
(CX3657)

Planes disabled for servicing
A former employee of Skylink Airlines of British Columbia has testified that he deliberately disabled aircraft to allow necessary maintenance work to be done. Charles Torrey said Skylink president Rafael Zur told him repeatedly that maintenance work was costing too much. Torrey says Zur wanted to keep airplanes flying and keep maintenance to a minimum. Torry said that he would remove parts from aircraft to ensure they stayed in the hangar until maintenance was done. Seven people died when a Skylink twin turbo-prop crashed in northwestern British Columbia on September 26. The airline's license has since been revoked.
-Source: Canadian Press, November 12, 1989
(CX3658)

Cancer, weed-killers linked
The more weed-killer farmers use, the greater their risk of dying from a cancer of the immune system, a federal study has found. The study examined 70,000 Saskatchewan farmers and found that the risk of death "goes up regularly with acres sprayed", according to Dr. Donald Wigle, an epidemiologist with Health and Welfare Canada. The study also found that the risk of dying goes up with the amount of gasoline, oil, and other fuel a farmer used. Saskatchewan was chosen for the study because it has the highest rate of use of 2,4-D and other herbicides in Canada. The study's conclusions are considered preliminary, but coupled with other studies in Sweden and the U.S., they seem to point to a link between pesticide use and cancer risk.
(CX3659)

Toxic dumps in Quebec
At least 66 toxic waste dumps in Quebec pose a risk to human health and the environment, according to a provincial agency, GERLED, which has been studying the problem. GERLED has identified 372 toxic waste dumps in the province. It says that Quebec produces more than 350,000 tonnes of toxic waste a year, about one-third of which is dumped directly into the St. Lawrence River.
(CX3660)

Great Lakes health danger
Health risks are increasing for the 35 million people living in the Great Lakes basin as toxic chemicals continue to accumulate, according to a report from the Conservation Foundation and from the Institute for Research on Public Policy. The report says that much of the toxic pollution entering the Lakes comes through the air. It also identified the runoff of agricultural chemicals as a particularly serious problem.
(CX3661)

Woman fights for pollution information
A Peterborough, Ontario woman is battling to have the provincial environment ministry release information about 11 local polluters. Jeanne Sparling says that both city and ministry staff have refused her request for information about pollution of the Otonabee River by 10 companies and by the city itself. Sparling got a list of the names of the polluters from the ministry through the Ontario Freedom of Information Act, but none of the details contained in the report on the polluters. The city and the 10 companies cited in the report agreed not to release the findings, even though, as Sparling notes, the report "was paid for by taxpayers".
-Source: Toronto Star, November 21, 1989
(CX3662)

Environmental labels
A governmental committee is working on implementing a program to label products that qualify as 'environmentally friendly'. The program follows the West German Blue Angel label, started in 1978. The idea is to let consumers know which products are not harmful -- or less harmful -- to the environment. The committee acknowledges that it is difficult to find products that unequivocally qualify. It has decided that the whole production process has to be taken into account, concluding that it would be inappropriate to recognize products as environmentally sensitive if the manufacturer is causing problems upstream. Julia Langer of Friends of the Earth questioned the value of the new logos, saying that "we're already seeing companies that are marketing supposedly better products using their own logos. But the public has no idea how much better they are." She says that people must realize that less consumption is ultimately more desirable than switching brands.
(CX3663)

Lost, leaking H-Bomb 'no danger'
Twenty-four years later, the United States has finally admitted publicly that it lost a hydrogen bomb off the southern Japanese coast in 1965 in a plane crash. The U.S. has told Japanese authorities the bomb has leaked radioactive material into the ocean. However, according to a U.S. report there is 'no danger' of an explosion or of environmental contamination.
According to Greenpeace, this bomb is only one of 48 nuclear weapons and seven nuclear reactors which have been lost by the navies of the Soviet Union and the United States.
(CX3664)

Oil dollars
The Exxon Corporation is expected to have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up its Alaskan oil spill and to pay for related damages. Experts predict that the total bill to Exxon will total some $500 million. Shareholders need not panic, however -- $500 million represents about two days' worth of revenues for the oil giant, whose revenue last year was $88.6 billion, and whose annual profits were $5.3 billion.
(CX3665)

Farmers resist foreclosures
An organized campaign of resistance to farm foreclosures is under way in rural Saskatchewan. More than 1,500 farmers have attended meetings this fall to plan farm-gate defenses and to organize a boycott of foreclosed land. Two groups, the Agricultural Action Co-operative, and the Christian Farm Crisis Action Committee, have distributed hundreds of posters and notices to co-ordinate the campaign. "Refuse to buy, rent or lease any land seized by lending institutions," the notices say. "Refuse to allow lending institutions to conduct successful auction sales to dispose of your neighbour's assets...Please do not assist them in destroying our rural sector." Jake Bendal of the Christian Farm Crisis Action Committee estimates that 8,000 to 10,000 farmers in the province are facing a threatened seizure of their land or equipment. "At first they thought it was their fault for being poor managers. But now they realize it's happening to everybody."
(CX3666)

Meat inspections slashed
Canada's Agriculture Department has drastically reduced its border inspections of U.S. meat products as a result of the free trade agreement. Only about five per cent of U.S. meat products are now being inspected, compared with 100 per cent before free trade. Under the new system, Canadian inspectors only make spot checks of meat. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has charged that the reductions prove that food quality standards are being lowered to conform to U.S. levels. Wayne Easter, president of the NFU, said that "this is especially critical with regard to chicken imports, because the production lines in many American poultry processing plants are so fast it is virtually impossible to inspect everything that goes through."
(CX3667)

Occupational health centre dumped
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is to lose all of its federal funding by April 1991, the Progressive Conservative government has announced. The federal Minister of Labour, Jean Corbeil, said that he wants the CCOHS to find independent sources of funding, but this is considered impossible by the Centre, especially given the short time frame. The Centre is an important source of information about workplace health and safety. Among the tasks recently carried out by the Centre have been the development of a national standard for chemicals in the workplace and the drafting of recommendations for national standards for man-made fibres. It recently broadened its electronic data base to include environmental information. Last year it distributed 8,000 compact disks of information, served 1,200 organizations and businesses with its on-line services, and handled 66,000 inquiries. It has sent out over 150,000 technical publications. Most of the data from the centre are available free to workers, unions, the public, and employers. It recovered about $441,000 last year in sales of printed materials and for conducting workshops. According to Dr. Gordon Atherley, the Centre's president, there is no way the Centre can cover its costs by fee for service. $1.45 million will be slashed from its budget this year, $4.625 million next year, and the entire budget will be eliminated by 1991.
According to David Leitch, the director of the Toronto Workers Health and Safety Legal Clinic, even if the Centre could survive by implementing high user fees, user fees will inevitably discourage inquiries, especially from small employers and workers without unions. Leitch points out that if the Centre is successful in reducing the number of workplace injuries and illnesses by even one per cent, it would be contributing direct savings of $30 million per year to the Canadian economy, several times the cost of its annual budget. And that's without counting the basic human value of lives saved or injuries prevented.
(CX3668)

Logger's death
A B.C. logger who was killed on the job earlier this year was working for a company that had been under close scrutiny by the Workers Compensation Board for violating provincial safety regulations, a coroner's inquest has been told. Rodney Tubbs died on July 27 after being struck by a block of cedar logs that had fallen out of a sling on a helicopter. He was employed by G & R Cedar Ltd., an independent contractor working for MacMillan Bloedel. Charles Burrell, a MacMillan Bloedel manager, told the inquest he is not particularly interested in knowing whether companies subcontracted by his firm are violating provincial regulations. He suggested that there may be too many safety regulations in the logging industry. Mr. Tubbs was one of over 150 people to die on the job in B.C.'s logging industry since 1984.
(CX3669)

Government backs down on safety bill
The Ontario government is backing away from legislation which would let workers shut down work places they consider unsafe. "We had a breakdown in communication", said Industry and Trade Minister Monte Kwinter. "We were led to believe that there had been consultation [with business] and that they were onside." Business groups have been lobbying fiercely against the proposed bill, and the government has now indicated that key provisions will be changed or watered down. Most labour unions have been supporting the bill.
Ross Dunsmore, chairman of the Metro Toronto Board of Trade labour relations committee, said that free trade makes it necessary to weaken the legislation. "We have to compare the cost of doing business here with Buffalo or Georgia... The more impositions the government makes... the more it will cost and more companies will be pushed to the United States."
(CX3670)

Man fired for AIDS gets damages
The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has ruled that it is discriminatory for an employer to fire someone because they have AIDS or have tested positive for the HIV virus. The Commission's made its ruling in the case of a Canadian Pacific employee who was fired after he revealed that he had tested positive for AIDS. According to Michelle Falardeau-Ramsay, the CHRC's deputy head, "AIDS is not a moral issue. AIDS is an illness. Would you fire someone if that person had cancer even if that person was able to do the work? AIDS is not contagious except when you are in contact with blood, blood-related products or semen. Education is required: misinformation on AIDS is rampant all over the place."
(CX3671)

Barrie deaths investigated
The Ontario Ministry of Labour is investigating reports of deaths and illness said to be linked to a company that operated tanneries in Barrie, Oshawa, Kitchener, and Coburg. The Simcoe County Injured Workers Association says that it has received reports of appalling working conditions at the plants, and the dumping of hazardous chemicals into city sewers and creeks. The company, Robson Lange Leather Inc. closed in 1986. Dr. Jim Stopps, chief of health studies services for the Ministry of Labour, said that 44 reports of death and illness are being investigated.
(CX3672)

Break-ins against activist groups
Several environmental and peace groups have suffered break-ins at their premises this past year. These include the Ontario Environment Network in Toronto, the Canadian Environmental Law Association in Toronto, the Toronto chapter of Science for Peace, the Green Party of British Columbia in Vancouver, and the Ottawa office of NDP MP Jim Fulton. Fulton headed the NDP's Environmental Task Force which recently held hearings across the country.
The Ontario Environment Network and the Canadian Environmental Law Association both were robbed of information and computer equipment. Nothing was taken from Fulton's office, but files were gone through, and Fulton believes that materials were photocopied on the office photocopier.
Green party spokesman Murray Gudmundson said party officials believe the break-in at their office was politically motivated. "All the filing cabinets were open and had been rifled through," he said. "We're still not sure what's missing. They left a photocopier and stereo, but stole a computer and hard disk, which held our mailing and membership lists. The office was vandalized as well.
For the most part, expensive equipment such as computers and fax machines have been ignored, while correspondence, mailing lists, financial records, and strategy papers have been gone after.
Federal Solicitor-General Jean-Jacques Blais has said that he has been assured by the RCMP that there is no connection between any of the break-ins. One man has been charged in connection with a break-in at the Burnaby, B.C. offices of Lifeforce, an animal rights group. Another man has been charged with the break-in at the Ontario Environment Network.
(CX3673)

Quebec police monitor TV, radio
Quebec provincial police have been monitoring and recording most public-affairs shows on Quebec television and radio, including open-line shows, for the past 19 years, it has been revealed by Justice Minister Gil Remillard. The information emerged when it was revealed that the Surete du Quebec had complained about radio talk-show host Andre Arthur to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The force sent a letter to the CRTC, along with recordings of 10 shows in which Mr. Arthur was sharply critical of police operations. The letter complained that among other things in Mr. Arthur's shows, police officers were referred to as "little local Pinochets". Mr. Remillard defended the police practice of taping most public-affairs shows. "The air waves are of the public domain; this is not electronic eavesdropping, and everything is done in respect of the guarantees of freedom of speech and information written in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," he said.
(CX3674)

RCMP unit disbanded
The special federal inquiries section of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which has brought several Conservative MPs to trial during the past three years, has been disbanded. The investigators in the unit have been transferred to other branches of the RCMP. The RCMP's senior officer in charge of the division, Rodney Stamler, has taken early retirement. Former Liberal solicitor-general Robert Kaplan has charged that the government deliberately interfered to have the unit disbanded in order to diminish the effectiveness of the special federal inquires section. The government and the RCMP have declined comment.
(CX3675)

Security service probes Innu
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) investigated the Labrador Innu community last winter as part of a nation-wide probe into native groups, a senior CSIS official has revealed. According to one man who was interviewed by CSIS, CSIS seemed to be trying to find out if the Innu had been infiltrated by Arab extremists. Raymond Boisvert, a senior CSIS official, said that the investigation was done for the federal Solicitor-General. He said that CSIS was "trying to get the pulse of native communities."
(CX3676)

Ottawa tightens information tap
The federal Conservative government has moved to tighten controls on information being made available to the public. A computerized system has been set up to vet all requests under the Access to Information Act. All departments receiving a request for information are being required to search the system to see if there are parallel requests made to other departments and to follow them up by contacting those other departments. They will also be required to identify any requests that involve "major legal or policy issues." The new computerized system follows a previous directive from the Prime Minister's office that all government departments had to contact the PMO before "releasing potentially embarrassing information".
(CX3677)

Canadian journalist called FBI informant
Journalist Peter Worthington worked as an informant for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the 1960's, according to Southam News. According to Southam, Worthington gave the FBI a list of 282 people, including 80 Canadians, who were active in opposing the war in Vietnam. A document obtained by Southam identifies Worthington as an "informant". Worthington has denied that he "consciously" gave information to the FBI.
(CX3678)

FBI claims world-wide powers
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced that it has been given the authority to seize "fugitives" living in other countries without the consent of the governments of those countries. It claims that it has the right to seize foreign citizens as well as U.S. citizens. The policy would give the FBI the "right", for example, to seize a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil and take him back to the U.S., in a situation where the Canadian courts were refusing an extradition request. Washington observers think that the impetus for the FBI's claim arises out of the U.S. government's desire to lay their hands on Panamanian ruler General Manuel Noreiga, formerly on the CIA payroll, but now on the outs with Washington.
(CX3679)

Newspaper boycotted for honesty
Canada's 13 largest travel tour operators have been boycotting The Toronto Star newspaper, refusing to place ads in the newspaper until the paper agrees to stop publishing what they call "negative" travel stories. The protest began December 31, 1988, after The Star published an article which related complaints by vacationers about food and accommodations in the Dominican Republic, and another article which focussed on the humorous experiences of a Star editor in hurricane-struck Cancun, Mexico.
(CX3680)

Gay activist's slaying commemorated
When gay activist Joe Rose was murdered on a Montreal bus by a group of youths who taunted him about being gay, McGill University's CKUT radio devoted a 15-hour day of programming to discussions about what it means to be gay or lesbian in a homophobic society. The program included taped interviews, radio plays, profiles of homosexuals in history and panel discussions with parents of gays and lesbians.
(CX3681)

Temagami ruling dangerous precedent
The Ontario Court of Appeal has rejected the land claim case brought to it by the Bear Island Indian band of the Temagami region of Ontario. The court ruled that the band has no claim to ownership of the 10,360 square kilometres of land it was claiming. The court said that the band's rights to the land had been ceded to the crown for the equivalent of $25 by virtue of an 1850 treaty. Lawyers and activists in the Native rights field were stunned by the decision, which sets a number of dramatic precedents. The court ruling says that in law, aboriginal land rights are extinguishable at will by governments, whether all the requirements of a formal treaty surrendering those lands were followed or not, and that a Native group can be deemed to have given up its historic lands simply by accepting cash payments and other treaty benefits, whether or not it actually agreed to such a land deal. The ruling also says that a Native group can lose its historic lands and be bound to a treaty by the actions of an individual who may not even belong to that group. The ruling overturns the notion that Canadian governments were and still are obliged to follow a 226-year-old British directive known as the Royal Proclamation, which required British colonies to negotiate and reach agreement with Native groups before taking their lands for European settlement. The Temagami ruling clears the way for Ontario's Liberal government to permit logging roads into the wilderness which Natives and environmentalists have been striving to preserve from logging. The band will seek permission to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada, and if necessary to the World Court.
(CX3682)

Innu acquittals overturned
The Newfoundland Court of Appeal has overturned the acquittal of four Innu who had been charged for protesting against low-level military flights over their territory. The Innu were acquitted of mischief in April by Judge James Igloliorte, who said that the Natives reasonably believed the Canadian forces base Goose Bay was on their land. Ruling that the judge made a procedural error, the Court of Appeal declared the trial null and void. The Crown must now decided whether to apply for a new trial, and how to proceed against about 200 other Innu who have been arrested in similar protests.
(CX3683)

Crees fine government
A Native court has found the Government of Canada guilty of tax evasion and has ordered the government to pay $50 million to the Ouje-Bougoumou band in Northern Quebec. The Native judges heard testimony that forestry and mining on lands belonging to the Crees had produced at least $4 billion worth of revenue. The band has been forced to relocate several times since the 1920s by resource companies working on the land with government authorization. The federal government refused to attend the hearing, and has said that it will refuse to pay the $50 million.
(CX3684)

Native land claims make lawyers rich
Ottawa is spending a small fortune paying private law firms to fight native land claims, according to the October issue of Canadian Lawyer magazine. "Native land claims pushed fallout from bank failures, ureaformaldehyde lawsuits and even free trade out of the spending spotlight for outside legal services", says the magazine. As an example, it cites Calgary lawyer Brian Malone, who represents the federal government in the Lubicon land dispute. Malone billed the government more than $442,000 between April 1, 1988 and March 31, 1989. The Vancouver firm of Koenigsberg and Russell charge Ottawa $621,546 during the same period for handling three native land claims.
"These are your tax dollars at work," said Lubicon spokesman Fred Lennarson, who maintains the billings are "the tip of the iceberg" in Ottawa's costly efforts to avoid settling native claims. Lennarson noted that in the dispute over the Lubicon's claim, Ottawa is also paying federal spokesman Ken Colby and the Calgary law firm of Walsh Young.
-Source: Canadian Lawyer, October 1989; Calgary Herald, October 26, 1989
(CX3685)

Indian bands join defence alliance
Eighteen Indian bands have joined together in a mutual defense agreement called the Treaty Alliance of Aboriginal Nations. The pact commits the banks to defend and support each other in the case of outside attack -- for example, from the government.
(CX3686)

Moscow sells photos of Canadian base
Another indication of the fact that Canadian authorities haven't quite caught up with the changes happening in the world: There are no photos allowed at Canadian Forces Station Alert, a 'top-secret' communications and listening post on Ellesmere Island. The Toronto Star newspaper asked for but was refused permission to send a reporter to the base this summer. So the Star bought a photograph of the base taken by a Soviet satellite, instead. The Soviets are selling satellite photos through an American company with which it has a marketing arrangement. They have decided that the currency value outweighs the questionable benefits of secrecy. Canada has yet to catch up to the new way of thinking.
(CX3687)

Deaf Canadians march
Deaf Canadians marched in a dozen cities across Canada earlier this year to demand changes in the education they receive. One of their major demands was that American Sign Language (ASL) be used in schools for the deaf. The preference for ASL is widespread among the deaf in North America, who have had to do battle with the educational bureaucracies, which have tended to want to make the deaf concentrate on oral communication and on Signed English. Signed English is a literal translation of English which deaf representatives say does not meet their needs. According to Jim Roots, the executive director of the Canadian Association for the Deaf, "the word butterfly is a perfect example [of the difference between the systems]. In American Sign Language, it is a single sign that copies the fluttering motion of a butterfly's wings. In Signed Exact English, it is two separate signs, one for butter and one for fly. Does that make sense? Does that convey the impression of a butterfly? I think not." Concern is also being expressed about government moves to shut down special schools for the deaf in order to integrate them into regular classrooms. They say that while the desire to integrate them has value, this approach to integration often harms the deaf because they can learn better in classes which are specifically set up to meet their needs.
(CX3688)

U.S. hate groups attacked
A southern U.S. anti-racism organization has been finding success in its battles against hate groups by hitting them in the pocketbook. Danny Welch, chief investigator for Klanwatch, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Centre of Alabama, told a conference of the Council of Foundations in Toronto that there are currently 22,000 hard-core members of about 100 organized hate groups in the United States, ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to the emerging neo-Nazi skinhead movement. Klanwatch was formed to keep track of hate groups and to take civil action against them. The decision to attack the Klan and other groups through civil litigation was in response to the realization that there was only scattered prosecution of Klan activities in various police jurisdictions. Among the group's victories is a $7-million settlement won recently on behalf of the mother of a Mobile, Alabama man who was murdered by the Klan.
(CX3689)

Elgin Blair
Elgin Blair, a long-time member of the Connexions collective, and an activist in many other causes, died on May 13, 1989. When Elgin joined Connexions, he was already "retired", although Elgin in retirement devoted more time to social justice work and environmentalism than many full-time activists. Elgin liked to describe himself as an "information freak". He believed that information and ideas were crucial if society was to change, and he also took immense pleasure in ferreting out and sharing new publications and new sources of information. He was active in supporting gay liberation, co-founded the alternative book distributor Books Eh?, and in the last few years was very active in the Green Party. At Connexions, his contribution included his solicitous concern for the well-being of others. The time and energy he contributed were important factors in developing the project and in energizing others. He will be missed.
Elizabeth Wall writes: We fondly remember Elgin Blair who passed away this year. Elgin was a faithful member of Connexions for a number of years. He give himself generously to all aspects of Connexions whether taking part in decisions, writing abstracts, contributing information on new groups, or envisioning further projects for Connexions. A prodigious reader of periodicals, he had an eagle eye for connections unifying our diverse social change community. He rekindled our enthusiasm in tough times by sharing his hopeful vision with us.
We are most grateful, however, for having known Elgin as a person. He was patient and caring with everyone and believed in tapping people's essential goodness. He cheerfully did his utmost, inspiring us with his hope and faith. I don't think there is anyone he encountered -- even briefly -- who was not the better for it. I am sure anyone who knew him misses him, as we at Connexions do, but the spirit he nurtured in us flourishes still.
(CX3690)

George Manuel
George Manuel, who was the first president of the National Indian Brotherhood, died this November at the age of 68. A Shuswap Indian, Mr. Manuel led efforts to gain non-governmental status for Native peoples at the United Nations and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as president of the National Indian Brotherhood (later the Assembly of First Nations) from 1970 to 1976, and also served as president of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.
(CX3691)


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News Briefs published in the Connexions Digest #51, May 1990


CBC budget cut again
The Progressive Conservative government cut a further $20 million from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's budget in the February 1990 federal budget. The additional cuts are on top of a $140 million reduction in the CBC's budget announced last year, which resulted in layoffs for 500 people.
(CX3900)

CBC advertising may go
Federal Communications Minister Marcel Masse has stated that he is considering requiring the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to stop carrying advertising. The action is being considered because private broadcasting companies have been putting pressure on the government to stop the CBC from competing with them for advertising revenues. Advertising accounts for 21 per cent of the CBC's budget, but Masse would make no commitment that the government would make up lost revenues if the CBC was no longer allowed to take ads.
(CX3901)

Fish or Cut Bait
Two Halifax film-makers have accused the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation of censoring the voices of Atlantic fishery workers by refusing to air a documentary on the unionization of the industry. William McKiggan and Thomas Burger have produced a documentary "Fish or Cut Bait", on the struggle to unionize fish plants in 1980. However, the CBC has declined to show the documentary. Unions representing fishermen and fish plant workers have lobbied hard to have the film shown on television, but the CBC refuses. The unions say that the film provides information about a long-term corporate plan to eliminate fish plants, and that they want other fish plant workers to know that cutbacks in the industry have been deliberately planned.
(CX3902)

Human rights violations in Latin America
The Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America (ICCHRLA) reports that during 1989 there were sharp increases in gross and systematic human rights violations in Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Peru, despite the fact that each of these countries has an elected civilian government. In its annual report, released in March 1990, ICCHRLA presents in-depth analyses of the situation in Latin American countries, with special attention to enforced disappearances, torture, summary executions, and the role of the police and military.
(CX3903)

U.S. claims jurisdiction abroad
The United States Supreme Court ruled on March 1 that U.S. agents have the right to break into, search, and seize evidence from buildings on foreign soil without obtaining a search warrant or other authorization from the country concerned. The court was ruling on a case in which U.S. 'law enforcement' officers searched the home of a Mexican citizen, in Mexico. The court upheld their actions, and went on to say that "other foreign policy operations which might result in searches or seizures" were also permitted. The ruling comes in the wake of a U.S. Justice Department directive in October 1989 -- shortly before the U.S. invasion of Panama -- which states that F.B.I. agents are empowered to arrest and seize suspects anywhere in the world without asking other countries for permission first.
(CX3904)

Federal budget cuts
The new federal budget contains severe cuts to programs for senior citizens, women's centres, and native organizations. Especially hard hit were funds for communication, such as newspapers, broadcasting, and groups that provide information and services directly to the public. Among the budget highlights:
* A funding freeze was placed on federal transfer payments for existing programs for health and post-secondary education. The cutbacks are expected to amount to $2.4 billion over the next two years.
* Savage cuts were made to funding for Native programs, with Native communications (newspapers and broadcasting) being targeted with the heaviest cuts. The cuts of $9.8 million come on top of cuts of $3 million cut last year.
* 80 women's centres had their core funding cut 100%.
* Secretary of State Women's Program funding cut by 15%.
* Spending limits were placed on the Canada Assistance Program for Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. This is the funding mechanism for shelters for battered women, child care, and social assistance.
* Funding for multicultural programs were cut by $4.1 million, after having been cut by $2 million last year.
* The Seniors Initiatives Program, which is designed to "encourage and support the self-care and mutual aid efforts of seniors and promote the availability and accessibility of resources which support the social, welfare, health and education of seniors", was cut by $3.5 million.
* $1.75 million was taken from the Childcare Initiatives Program, often cited by Health Minister Perrin Beatty as the reason it was not necessary for the government to proceed with the national child-care program it promised before the last election.
(CX3905)

72,000 jobs said lost
The Pro-Canada Network, a coalition of labour, farming, women's, church and environmental groups opposed to free trade, has estimated that 72,000 jobs were lost due to free trade in the first year of the deal. The vast majority of jobs affected, according to the Pro-Canada Network, were firms that closed or scaled down operations to relocate them in the United States or Mexico. According to Duncan Cameron, the first nine months of 1989 alone also saw $12.6 billion worth of mergers, buyouts, or takeovers of Canadian firms by foreign companies. By comparison, there had been $3 billion worth in all of 1988.
(CX3906)

Unemployment rise deliberate, CLC says
The Progressive Conservative government is deliberately pushing up the unemployment rate so that workers will be too demoralized to fight for higher wages when the Goods and Services tax hits next January, the Canadian Labour Congress has charged. The new federal budget will "add a point or two to the unemployment rate," according to Andrew Jackson, chief economist for the CLC. Finance Minister Michael Wilson himself has forecast that the official unemployment rate will rise to 8.5 per cent from the present 7.8 per cent. This rate translates into about 1.1 million Canadians being out of work.
(CX3907)

Canada Post raises prices to North
Canada Post is eliminating cheap rates for sending food shipments to Northern Canada, a decision expected to result in sharp increases in food prices in the North, which already has the highest prices in the country. Food prices are expected to rise by 15 to 20 per cent as a result of the decision. For example, the cost of a loaf of bread will go from $1.74 to $2.09. Canada Post said that it was forced to increase the rates because the federal government has cut the subsidies for the service.
(CX3908)

Changes to marketing boards coming
Despite assurances from Prime Minister Mulroney and Agriculture Minister Don Mazankowski that agricultural marketing boards would not be affected by free trade, the boards are now coming under severe pressure. Faced with cheaper agricultural costs in the U.S., marketing boards and provincial ministries of agriculture are being forced to choose between losing out to cheaper imports, or abandoning the protection that farmers received from marketing boards.
(CX3909)

New job for Reisman
Simon Reisman, the Mulroney government's chief negotiator in the free trade negotiations, has landed himself as highly paid job as president of the Trade Investment Advisory Group. The company specializes in advising American companies on how to cash in on the deal.
(CX3910)

Fishing jobs threatened
Ninety per cent of jobs in West Coast fish processing plants could be lost as a result of the free trade agreement, according to Jack Nichol, president of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union. According to Nichol, the processing industry is "completely exposed" by the government's failure to prevent the export of unprocessed fish to the United States, with the result that British Columbia processing jobs are now being lost to plants in the State of Washington.
(CX3911)

Petro-Canada to be sold
The Progressive Conservative government has announced that it intends to sell the publicly owned petroleum company, Petro-Canada.
Petro-Canada was first formed in response to the OPEC oil crisis of 1973-74, when members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries quadrupled world oil prices and imposed an embargo on oil sales to the United States and some other countries. Petro-Canada was supposed to ensure that Canadians would have a secure supply of oil, which had emerged as a major concern with 90 per cent of Canada's own oil and gas industry being foreign-owned, a concern made more acute when it was revealed that U.S.-owned oil companies were diverting supplies destined for Canada to the U.S. instead. Coupled with this were other indications that the industry was more interested in immediate profits than in research and development to ensure a long-term supply of energy. Petro-Canada was also supposed to help ensure that oil and gas development resulted in spin-off benefits to Canadian engineering and other energy-related services, in contrast to the practice of the U.S.-owned companies, who automatically used the same U.S. service firms as their U.S. parent company.
Petro-Canada's mandate was to accelerate oil and gas exploration, to secure cheaper oil imports, and to give Canadians a direct share in the wealth generated by energy projects. Under the Mulroney government, Petro-Canada has been told to stop pursuing its public policy mandate and to operate strictly as a commercial company.
(CX3912)

Refund on tires suggested
A $5 refundable deposit should be charged on every tire purchased, an association of tire dealers has suggested. The deposit would be refunded when a used tire was returned to a dealer, who would then return it to a recycling facility, Jean-Marc Bernard of the Quebec Retreaders and Tire Dealers Association said. The deposit would discourage discarded tires from winding up in dumps or along the roadside.
(CX3913)

Fish Missing
A drastic decline in the numbers of some fish, sea birds and whales has been observed along the British Columbia coast this spring. "The steelhead are gone. There's a big hole in the river," said Joe Saysell, who has fished the Cowichan river for more than 30 years. The large sea-going trout have virtually disappeared from some British Columbia rivers.
(CX3914)

Great Lakes cleanup
Environmental groups are calling on the Canadian and American governments to take more action on cleaning up the Great Lakes. "Neither government is enforcing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement", said John Jackson of Great Lakes United at a press conference in March. "We see no concrete plans. We'd like to see a timetable and plans for achieving it." In a document released by the Sierra Club, the groups call for measures to force local, state, and provincial governments to abide by the agreement; to clean up 15,000 toxic sites around the Great Lakes; to use farm legislation to reduce sediment, pesticide, and fertilizer pollution; and to protect wetlands and coastal areas.
(CX3915)

Budget hits veterans
More than 5,000 aging Canadian war veterans confined to chronic care hospitals will have to pay more than $3000 each for their bed and board as a result of the Progressive Conservative government's new budget. Another 60,000 veterans living at home will lose some of the home care and help currently being provided to them because of cuts to the Veterans Independence Program.
(CX3916)

B.C. abortion clinic vandalized
The Everywomen's Health Centre, an abortion clinic in Vancouver, was attacked on February 25. Two men used crowbars to break into the clinic, and then smashed medical equipment in the building, doing about $30,000 damage. Police were called, but by the time they arrived, the men had fled. The clinic has been subject to frequent harassment and attacks since it opened a year ago.
(CX3917)

Union has right to be in mall
A trade union has the right to try to organize workers in a mall even thought the mall is privately owned, the Supreme Court of Ontario has ruled. The court was ruling on a case involving Cadillac Fairview Corp. and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Members of the union were arrested for trying to hand out information flyers to Eaton workers in the Toronto Eaton Centre. The court upheld a ruling by the Ontario Labour Relations Board which gave the union the right to approach workers in public areas of the Eaton Centre. Lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo, who handled the case for the union, said that the decision will make it easier to organize workers in modern settings such as malls or large office buildings. "It is a basic victory for fundamental human rights over property rights -- the court has decided there is no such thing as absolute property rights when they are balanced against the right to join a trade union and have access to labour information."
(CX3918)

Group challenges bylaw
A Kingston environmental group which was barred from setting up an information booth at a local market is mounting a constitutional challenge to the decision. The Kingston Environmental Action Project had been setting up a booth at Kingston's market square, which has been a gathering place not only for produce sellers but for advocacy groups. The city recently passed a bylaw banning political and environmental groups from renting booths in Market Square. KEAP will argue that the bylaw violates constitutional guarantees for freedom of expression.
(CX3919)

Right to poster upheld
Anti-free trade activists who were charged with putting up posters under Toronto's anti-poster bylaw won a victory in court in April. Two members of Citizens Concerned About Free Trade (CCAFT) were acquitted by a Toronto judge who accepted the defense's arguments that postering is an essential form of free speech. The defence argued that postering was one of the few forms of public expression open to poor people and small organizations who could not afford to buy space or time in the expensive commercial media. Although the city defended its bylaw on the grounds that postering contributes to visual clutter, the bylaw was originally put on the books in 1930 to hamper organizing of the unemployed by the Communist Party and other radicals.
CCAFT said that the group was trying to counteract a stated government policy to try to keep the public from becoming informed on the free trade issue. CCAFT organizer Marjaleena Repo quoted a leaked report from Prime Minister Mulroney's office which detailed the government strategy on free trade: "It is likely that the higher the profile the issue attains, the lower the degree of public approval will be. The strategy should rely less on educating the general public than on getting across the message that the trade initiative is a good idea. In other words, a selling job."
Countering the city argument that postering is ugly, defense lawyer Robert Kellermann said that "it wouldn't look so ugly if they weren't scraping them off every day. Also, if postering was allowed, people would do it more carefully."
(CX3920)

Bank imposes 'voluntary' drug tests
The Toronto Dominion bank has begun including drug tests in the annual medical exams which its executives are required to take. The tests are supposedly voluntary, but critics point out that under such 'voluntary' arrangements, people stick their necks out if they decline to take them. A bank spokesperson characterized the tests as a "service to employees".
(CX3921)

Native press axed
Federal budget cuts will mean the end of most of the Native newspapers in Canada, according to Native leaders. At least 15 Native publications are expected to go under as a result of the elimination of the $3.4 million Native Communications Program. The papers have been receiving subsides from the Department of the Secretary of State because most of them publish in small, remote, poor communities which do not have the advertising and commercial base which sustains community papers in urban centres. Also hit by budget cuts was the Native Broadcast Access Program, which funds aboriginal radio and television broadcasts to remote northern villages. This program lost 16 per cent of its $2.2 million budget. The main Native organization in the country, the Assembly of First Nations, which represents 593 bands across the country, will have its entire core funding of $562,000 scrapped. Some 27 regional tribal councils will also lose all of their funding, while another seven provincial and territorial Native groups were cut 15 per cent. The Native Council of Canada will lose all of its core funding, and the Friendship Centre program will lose $1.2 million. Most of the cuts will take effect on July 1 -- Canada Day.
(CX3922)

Peace tax denied
Dr. Jerilynn Prior, a conscientious objector who was seeking to redirect the portion of her taxes destined for the military to other purposes, has been denied leave to present her case to the Supreme Court. About 550 Canadians have deposited money in a Peace Tax Trust, administered by Conscience Canada, and all of them were waiting to hear the outcome of the case. Despite the ruling, many of the conscientious objectors intend to continue to defy the government. They will attempt to present the money in the Peace Tax Trust to the government in Ottawa in return for a pledge that the money will not be spent for military purposes.
Conscience Canada members are also pursuing a complaint of discrimination through the Canadian Human Rights Commission, but are experiencing difficulty because the Human Rights Act focuses on discrimination, rather than on human rights per se. As they point out, even torture would not be considered a violation of human rights under the Act, as long as all Canadians were equally subject to torture without discrimination.
-- Conscience Canada, March 20, 1990. Conscience Canada can be contacted at Box 601, Station E, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2P3, (604) 384-5532
(CX3923)

Icebreaker sunk
The proposed Polar 8 icebreaker, which was presented as a way of asserting Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic, was cut in the federal government's February 1990 budget. The vessel would have been the only Canadian ship capable of operating in winter ice. The United States maintains that Canadian Arctic waters are international waterways, and claims that it has the right to send its warships into these waters without informing Canada. In scrapping the icebreaker, the government seems to be resigning itself to the loss of Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic, as exemplified by External Affairs Minister Joe Clark's statement, when the government first announced plans for the ship, that "sovereignty claims you can't defend gradually disappear."
(CX3924)

Women's programs cut
The federal government's February budget slashes $1.6 million in funding from women's programs. Hardest hit were 80 women's centres across the country which lose all of their funding. Three women's publications -- Healthsharing, Canadian Women's Studies, and Resources for Feminist Research -- will lose all of their government funding. Several other organizations will suffer 20 per cent cuts: the Canadian Committee on Learning Opportunities for Women, the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, the Women's Research Centre, and Noveau Depart. The National Action Committee on the Status of Women, which lost 15 per cent of its budget last year, will have its remaining $490,000 cut by another $100,000 this year.
(CX3925)


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News Briefs published in the Connexions Digest #52, August 1990


CBC ad policy criticized
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is refusing to allow anti-nuclear activists to buy advertising time for ads opposing nuclear energy, claiming the subject matter is controversial and opinionated, and thus not suitable for advertising. The CBC will continue to run ads promoting the nuclear industry, however. The decision is being criticized by Students Opposing the Slowpoke (STOP) in Saskatoon, who say that they consider the pro-nuclear ads opinionated and biased since they convey the impression that nuclear energy is "somehow benign and safe." STOP's ads were intended to respond to commercials from the Canadian Nuclear Association, which spends $2.5 million per year on television and magazine advertising. According to STOP member Hermann Krebs, "If they allow one side, I can't understand why they don't allow the other side. We're being shut out of reaching a large audience. We're not getting a chance to get our message across." STOP has received a letter from John Davis, the CBC manager of advertising standards, stating that the ads were refused because of the CBC's policy "that the airwaves must not come under the control of individuals or groups who because of wealth, special position, etc. might be better able to influence listener or viewer attitudes."
(CX4081)

CBC losing national unity mandate
The Progressive Conservative government is dropping the section of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's mandate that requires it to "contribute to the development of national unity". Some critics have cautiously welcomed the change because they say that the CBC has used the mandate to justify biased coverage of issues such as Meech Lake and free trade. On both issues, the CBC was widely seen as provided biased coverage promoting the government's position in favour of free trade and Meech Lake. The federal government has said that the change to the mandate removes any pressure on the CBC to toe the government line. However, a number of opponents of the change have characterized it as another step in the government's systematic gutting of institutions and policies that promote Canadian national interests, including VIA rail, the Foreign Investment Review Agency, and the National Film Board.
(CX4082)

Book seizures challenged
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is challenging Canada Customs' practice of banning or detaining books and magazines at the border. The association is seeking to have the seizures and delays stopped as contrary to the freedom of expression provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to association president John Dixon, "hundreds and hundreds of books and magazines are stopped at the border.... What's appalling is the number of absolutely inoffensive materials." Owners of gay bookstores say that they are routinely singled out by customs officials. The Glad Day bookstore in Toronto has launched two lawsuits of its own: one to claim damages for business lost in delays in receiving materials due to lengthy decision-making by Customs, the other to challenge Canada Custom's right to ban several books. In one recent seizure, a book by Canadian writer Jane Rule, destined for Glad Day, was held at the border although it had been sold in Canadian bookstores for 13 years.
(CX4083)

Penguin destroys books
Penguin Books Canada has destroyed about 6,200 books and issued a public apology to settle a lawsuit by the capitalist Conrad Black. The book, Whose Money is It Anyway? The Showdown on Pensions, by Ann Finlayson, was reviewed in the December 1989 issue of Connexions (see CX3719). It describes how corporations, including one owned by Conrad Black, have repeatedly removed money from employee pension plans. All copies of the hardcover edition remaining in stock have been destroyed (not including the review copy in the Connexions office, now a collector's item). A revised paperback edition has been issued with the offending comments removed. Black objected to a statement that he had engaged in "corporate banditry" in removing pension funds from Dominion Stores.
(CX4084)

Post box rates hiked
Canada Post Corporation has imposed massive increases for the rental of post office boxes. The smallest size of box will go from $26.20 a year to $50 a year, with larger boxes ranging from $80 to $200. Canada Post justifies the huge increase by stating that "all Canadian households and businesses have access to one free method of mail delivery". However, this is clearly not true for small non-profit associations, one of the most frequent users of postal boxes. Citizen groups and small publications which are too small to have their own office space frequently have no viable alternative to using a post office box. Using the home address of an individual member is usually undesirable because members often move and because of security considerations in the case groups that may attract "crackpot" opponents, such as feminist groups.
(CX4085)

Landlord sues tenants
A Toronto landlord has launched a $1.5 million lawsuit against tenants who organized a protest about conditions in their building. Goldwin Properties Ltd. has filed a statement of claim alleging that tenant and co-operative housing representatives conspired to "interfere with the plaintiff's economic relations... and to coerce a sale of the apartment building for an unreasonably low price." Goldwin claims that the people named in the suit "inflamed the tenants and created an atmosphere of hostility" with the goal of placing Goldwin under duress so it would sell the building at a depressed price. Goldwin also complained that the tenant leaders had "orchestrated an extensive media campaign to damage the name and reputation of the plaintiff with respect to the state of repair of the building and the management of the building" thereby eroding the market value of the building. According to Michael Melling, president of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, one the people named in the action, "basically what we are being accused of is trying to help the tenants organize and secure their rights under law. The rest of the accusations are baseless."
(CX4086)

CIA set up Mandela
The U.S. government has been embarrassed by the revelation that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played a key role in setting up the 1962 arrest of Nelson Mandela. In a story that first appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the CIA station chief in Pretoria in 1962 was quoted as describing how the CIA provided the South African government with the information it needed to capture Mandela. "It is one of our greatest coups", said the station chief, Paul Eckel. Mandela spent 27 years in prison as a result of the arrest.
(CX4087)

Unions plan cross-border links
Canadian and U.S. communications workers have agreed to co-operate against telecommunications companies that try to move to low-wage areas to avoid paying union rates. The Communications and Electrical Workers of Canada have formed an alliance with the Communications Workers of America to engage in joint action "to defend union and workers' rights in North America, including Mexico". The first concrete step is a joint organizing campaign directed at workers in a company that manufactures computer components in Ontario, Quebec, and New York state, which pays "substandard wages and benefits, exploits immigrant workers and threatens to move jobs every time the people try to organize." The idea of the joint organizing campaign is to "create a situation where the company has no place to run to."
(CX4088)

Union urges fish boycott
The United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union is promoting a boycott of buyers of Canadian fish who export the catch to the United States at the cost of local jobs. According to union president Jack Nichol, the Canadian processing industry is being destroyed as fish are sold to the U.S. for processing rather than being processed in Canada. He is urging salmon fishermen to place large "pro-Canada fleet" stickers on their boats and to refuse to sell to U.S. fish buyers who truck the fish south for processing.
(CX4089)

CAW get GST protection
The Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) has successfully negotiated a precedent-setting contract with Air Canada that will give 3,200 employees protection against the inflationary effect of the proposed goods and services tax (GST). The agreement ignores calls from Finance Minister Michael Wilson for unions to accept wage increases less than the rate of inflation. Wilson has said that the high interest rates imposed by Bank of Canada governor John Crow will be continued until wages increases are dropped below the rate of inflation. CAW President Bob White said that workers will not take the blame for the federal government's "stupid economic policies."
(CX4090)

Crow flying high
Bank of Canada Governor John Crow and senior members of his staff have been pocketing large pay increases even as they publicly demand that ordinary Canadians settle for less pay to combat inflation. The government refuses to reveal exactly what Crow himself is paid, even though his salary is paid by the taxpayer, but it has confirmed that his salary range is now between $162,000 to $243,000, up from the $120,000 to $150,000 range it was in three years ago. This amounts to an annual rate of increase between 12 and 21 per cent. The average salary at the Bank of Canada went up 24.2 per cent between 1985 and 1989, whereas the cost of living went up 16.3 per cent over the same period. The average weekly wage in Canada increased by only 16.1 per cent over that time period. In his reports, Crow has stated that wage increases averaging 5.25 per cent in 1989 and 4.5 per cent in 1988 are too high and are contributing to inflation.
(CX4091)

165,000 factory jobs lost
Canada lost 165,000 manufacturing jobs in the first year of free trade, according to Statistics Canada. This amounts to almost 6 per cent of the sector's total work force. Statistics also reveal that the trend is accelerating. In May 1990 alone, 43,000 factory jobs vanished. Manufacturers tend to place the blame primarily on high interest rates, while trade unions see free trade as being the main culprit. In either case, the figures indicate that the free trade era has been something of an economic disaster. Many of the job losses are expected to be permanent.
(CX4092)

Free trade harassment charged
The United States has become even more aggressive in harassing Canadian exporters since the Canada-U.S. trade agreement came into effect, a Senate review of the bilateral deal has concluded. According to the Senate foreign affairs committee, Canadian goods are being met by various kinds of harassment at the border, ranging from increased inspections, to slowdowns, to court challenges.
(CX4093)

U.S.-Mexico free trade talks
The United States has entered into preliminary free trade negotiations with Mexico. Because Canada is now tied into a free trade pact with the United States, this means that Canada would also in effect have free trade with Mexico without having any say on the terms and conditions of an eventual pact. One likely result is that U.S. car manufacturers, for example, would be able to get their parts from Mexico, where workers earn $1.60 an hour, rather than from Canadian parts suppliers which have substantially higher labour costs.
(CX4094)

GM wants U.S. holidays in Canada
General Motors Ltd. wants Canadian employees to take U.S. holidays rather than Canadian holidays. The company has asked workers in Windsor to take Memorial Day rather than Victoria Day, U.S. Thanksgiving rather than Canadian Thanksgiving, and Independence Day rather than Canada Day. GM says that the holiday transfer would put the Windsor plant in a better competitive position to get a contract to manufacture Buick seat covers.
(CX4095)

Furniture industry hurting
The Canadian Council of Furniture Manufacturers says that the Canadian furniture industry is in dire straits because of the free trade agreement, and that it may ask the government for emergency protection against the yearly tariff reductions which are designed to eliminate tariffs entirely by 1993. According to the Council, 24 Canadian furniture companies have gone bankrupt since the agreement came into effect, and another 32 firms have stopped producing furniture. Imports of U.S. furniture have increased 40 per cent, while exports to the U.S. have gone down 7 per cent. About 4,700 of 60,000 jobs have been lost so far in the industry.
(CX4096)

Rail accidents up
The number of railyard accidents in Canada is up significantly from last year. A spokesman for a watchdog group, Harry Behrend of the Metro Toronto Residents Action Committee, puts the blame on the federal government's deregulation of the rail industry. According to Behrend, the government is neglecting its responsibility to supervise rail safety. "They are letting the companies be their own patrollers." "There is pressure on the government to make exceptions to the rule" because of competitive pressures on the rail companies, said Harry Gow, president of Transport 2000. "It is easier to make exceptions rather than providing assistance to railways to make them competitive." Gow's remarks were challenged by CP rail spokesman Paul Thurston, who said that "we conduct ourselves as if there was always a federal rail inspector watching us." However, a report by the National Transportation Agency reveals that rail officials at several rail yards say that there is an "informal agreement with Transport Canada which allows 10 per cent of its cars to be found and placed in service despite one or more minimum-safety standards defects." According to Harry Gow, the underlying problem is that "the overall structure of Canadian railways is crumbling away" under the pressure of government anti-railway policies.
(CX4097)

More VIA cuts predicted
VIA rail is poised to make additional service cuts, according to Guy Chartrand, the Quebec region president of Transport 2000. Chartrand says that he has received information from VIA sources that among the cuts being planned would be that of the 'Atlantic' service between Montreal and Halifax, and the 'Chaleur' service between Montreal and Gaspe. Sherbrooke, Fredericton, and Saint John would be among the places losing train service. The cuts would be in addition to those last January, when almost half of VIA's routes were axed. VIA spokesperson Paul Raynor said the reports were "more rumours and more speculation", but didn't deny them.
(CX4098)

Research funding draining away
The Progressive Conservative government is deliberately letting scientific research in Canada die a slow death, critics say. A number of prominent scientists have gone public with instances of the bleeding of scientific research. They cite massive cuts to the budget of the National Research Council (NRC), which now receives $78 million less than it did six years ago, despite inflation. Canada now spends about 1.28 per cent of its gross domestic product on scientific research, compared to 1.43 per cent when the Mulroney government took office. By comparison, the United States spends 2.69 per cent, Japan 2.87 per cent. The Professional Institute of the Public Service, which represents 1,000 researchers, says that the government is engaged in the "systematic destruction of the NRC."
(CX4099)

Sunday shopping conflict
A labour arbitrator has ruled that Steinberg Inc. was wrong to discipline two Ottawa employees who opposed the company's stand in favour of Sunday shopping. Despite warnings from their supervisor, the two continued to wear buttons that read "Say No to Sunday shopping," and were eventually suspended. The ruling against Steinberg Inc. is an important affirmation of a worker's right to freedom of expression because it shows "an employer does not have total control over an employee's behaviour in the workplace," said labour lawyer Harold Caley, who represented the two workers involved in the arbitration.
(CX4100)

Nuclear facts and figures
After maintaining for forty years that the British nuclear power industry makes economic sense, the British government has finally been forced to admit that it is uneconomic. The truth emerged, ironically, because of the Thatcher government's privatization drive. Its attempts to sell off nuclear power plants to the private sector failed dismally because no private company wanted anything to do with the plants without a guarantee of huge financial subsidies from the government.
(CX4101)

Antarctic airfield
Britain has opened the door to tourism and possible mineral exploitation in the Antarctic by building an airfield at the remote Rothera scientific station 1,200 miles south of the Falklands. The airfield will allow people to get from London to Rothera in 48 hours instead of the five weeks it takes now. The British Antarctic Survey says it will make it possible for scientists to reach Antarctica more efficiently, but fears are being expressed that the airfield will also be used for tourism and as a base for mineral prospectors. The British government supports the Mineral Convention, which would allow mineral exploration in Antarctic.
(CX4102)

Urine tests protested
The Seafarers International Union is urging federal transportation workers to protest against proposed federal legislation which would force workers to submit to mandatory urine and blood tests. According to union secretary Andrew Boyle, the proposed legislation is a violation of workers' privacy rights. In addition, said Boyle, the tests are "notoriously inaccurate". The union is distributing urine specimen bottles and urging members to "send a sample of your opinion" to the federal transport minister. At the Canadian Labour Congress convention in May, a resolution was passed which criticized increasing invasions of workers' privacy, including mandatory drug testing, psychological screening, electronic surveillance and personal searches.
(CX4103)

China admits torture
The Chinese government has admitted for the first time that some of its prisoners are tortured, injured, and die in custody. In the past, China has routinely dismissed such accusations from Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. A senior legal official, Liang Gouqing, said that in the fist quarter of 1990 2,900 case of 'perversion of justice' occurred, including death and injuries. Asia Watch has estimated that between 10,000 and 30,000 people are in jail for their part in last year's pro-democracy protests, while many other political prisoners have been in jail for much longer periods. Many former prisoners speak of brutal treatment, overcrowding, bad food, routine beatings, denial of family visits, and torture.
(CX4104)

Cree challenge settlement
The Grand Council of the Cree of Quebec has gone to court asking that the James Bay and Northern Agreement, the largest land claim settlement in Canadian history, should be declared null and void. The Grand Council has also asked the court for an injunction against any future hydro-electric development in the vast territory. "There is a very basic principle of contract law known as non-performance," said James O'Reilly, the Crees' lawyer. "The government has failed to fulfil its obligations under the agreement so it should be nullified." He also argued that the agreement is invalid because the Quebec government does not have any legal rights over the natural resources of northern Quebec. Canada turned over large portions of the then-Northwest Territories to Quebec provincial administration in 1898 and 1912, but, said Mr. O'Reilly, the rights to natural resources on those lands were never assigned to Quebec. "The Cree have retained and never surrendered ancestral rights," Mr. O'Reilly said.
(CX4105)

Treaty still valid
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a 230-year old treaty giving Hurons in Quebec the right to exercise their customs is still valid. In a unanimous decision, the judges said that the treaty signed in 1760 is still in effect and that the province cannot prosecute Hurons for practicing native customs that violate provincial park laws. The case involved two brothers who had been charged with fishing. According to Native leaders, the decision strengthens their legal rights and lays the groundwork for several other court cases.
(CX4106)

No base in Goose Bay
NATO Defence Ministers have scrapped plans to build a NATO Training Centre at Goose Bay, Labrador. The decision was hailed by Native groups and peace and environmental organizations. Federal Trade Minister John Crosbie reacted angrily, blaming the Innu for their opposition to the base. The Innu, said Crosbie, had been "extremely unhelpful, unproductive and unfeeling". "Goose Bay lost out because of the Innu," Crosbie said. Innu spokespeople were pleased, but noted that low-level flying would still continue in the area and might well intensify, even without the base.
(CX4107)

ARMX on the march
Banned last year from Ottawa city property, ARMX, the controversial Canadian arms exhibition, has left the city of Ottawa and found a new home for its weapons trade show at the Carp Airport, located west of the capital. Richard Sanders, spokesperson for the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT), says activists will both protest and educate the public about the "immoral, unethical and evil side" of ARMX '91. Contact COAT at 489 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa K1N 3N7 (613) 231-3076.
(CX4108)

Women's centres temporarily reprieved
The federal government has responded to strong pressure from women's groups, and is restoring $1.2 million in operational financing to 74 women's centres across the country, but only for a one-year "transitional" period. The government cut the operational or so-called core financing as one of the cost-saving measures announced in the federal budget. The cuts took effect April 1, and many of the centres have been on the verge of closing. However, $400,000 in cuts to women's publications and national lobby groups will not be restored.
(CX4109)


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News Briefs published in the Connexions Digest #53, January 1991


Networks refuse anti-TV ads
The Telecaster Committee of Canada, the advertising standards group for the private networks, has refused to accept a series of four television advertisements produced by The Media Foundation, a non-profit organization concerned with what it calls "TV addiction". In one of the ads, a father struggles to pry a television set from off his head while his son pleads, "Dad! Dad! Talk to me, Dad!" According to the Media Foundation, the Committee demanded that it "prove" its ads are true, and that they carry a disclaimer stating they are the opinions of the Media Foundation. Apparently no other advertisers are required to meet similar conditions.
For more information contact: Adbusters, 1243 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver, B. C. V6H 1B7.
(CX4239)

Danger: sticky yellow notes
The Canadian Conservation Institute, the association of Canadian archivists, has warned that self-sticking yellow note pads pose a danger to archives. The tabs, such as 3M's Post-it Notes, can leave some of their adhesive behind when removed from documents. The residue collects dirt and causes papers to stick together. The adhesive also lifts away some typewriter and photocopier inks. "The results of these tests lead to the recommendation that self-sticking notes not be used on documents, books or any other subject of importance or value," said conservation specialist John Grace in an article in The Archivist.
(CX4240)

105,000 jobs lost to free trade
According to the Canadian Labour Congress, at least 105,000 jobs have been lost to free trade since the agreement was ratified in 1989. The Congress adds that this is almost certainly a low figure, since only manufacturing jobs that can be directly traced were included in the figures. Many thousands of other jobs have been lost as companies have gone bankrupt.
(CX4241)

"Open skies" coming?
Federal Transport Minister Doug Lewis has announced that the Progressive Conservative government intends to negotiate what it calls an "open skies" agreement with the United States. However, what the government is in fact proposing is a bi-lateral aviation deal with the United States, not a general international "open skies" arrangement. The intent is to bring about further deregulation of the airline industry, eliminating all remaining government-imposed restrictions except those related to safety. The government's intentions were criticized by PWA president Rhys Eyton, who said unlimited competition with the U.S. carriers could destroy the Canadian airline industry and shift thousands of jobs to the U.S.. Equally critical was the CAW union, which represents many aircraft workers. According to the CAW, "'open skies' is more likely to lead to a reduction in the number, size, and scope of Canadian air carriers." CAW president Bob White said that "In a country as vast as Canada, strong national links in transportation are essential. Canada-U.S. free trade in airline service would do just the opposite. It would enhance north-south relations at the expense of our national links." The CAW points out that U.S. airlines enjoy significant cost advantages, including lower interest costs on debts to finance aircraft and lower fuel costs. The sheer size of the major American carriers also gives them significant economies of scale, while their control of take-off and landing slots and airport gates enables them to keep potential competitors out of their own markets.
Source: Canadian Tribune and CAW. (Canadian Tribune subscriptions are $20/year from 290A Danforth Ave., Toronto M4K 1N6).
(CX4242)

Black settles on pensions
Canadian capitalist Conrad Black has agreed to pay $44 million to 10,000 former employees of Dominion Stores to settle a long pension fund battle. Black, the chairman of Hollinger Inc., and his brother Montegu touched off the battle in 1986 when they withdrew $38 million from the pension fund at a time when the chain was planning store closings and layoffs. The union fought the move and the Ontario Supreme Court ordered the Blacks to return the money. The union also argued that inflation had reduced the value of the pension money in the meantime, leading to a court-approved settlement which saw the Blacks paying $44 million to the former employees.
(CX4243)

$300,000 for government video
The federal Finance Department is spending about $300,000 to produce and distribute 40,000 videotapes justifying government economic policies. The 12 1/2-minute video, entitled Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?, featuring pie charts and clips of Canadians at work in offices, factories, and fields, promotes the government view that spending cuts are necessary to control the deficit. Copies of the video are being mailed free to libraries, associations and businesses. The $300,000 cost comes in addition to $1.3 million spent early in the fall to send out 10 million brochures promoting the government's economic policies.
(CX4244)

GST discriminates against co-ops
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) discriminates against co-operatives, according to Tom Webb of Co-op Atlantic. Members who pay for shares in a co-operative will be forced to pay 7% GST on top on the transaction, while individuals who buy shares in a for-profit corporation will not have to pay GST. In addition, the way in which the GST is applied to local co-operatives which belong to a larger co-op will mean double the administrative costs for them than it does for privately owned businesses in the same field. According to Webb, government officials "don't understand what a co-operative is. They don't care... Whether it puts a whole alternative business form in jeopardy is of no concern to them at all. They couldn't care less."
From Pro-Canada Dossier. Subscriptions from Pro-Canada Network, 251 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 904, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5J6.
(CX4245)

Towns take Post Office to court
Rural Dignity and the residents of four Canadian communities are taking Canada Post, and Harvie Andre, the Minister responsible for Canada Post, to court in a challenge to decisions to close Post Offices in Arran, Saskatchewan, Falmouth, Nova Scotia, and Meductic and Aroostock, New Brunswick. Among other things, the case charges that the closures effectively deny the right to postal services to aged and other residents who don't have cars and are therefore unable to drive to another town for postal service.
Even as the case is before the courts, Canada Post, acting under federal government orders to show a profit no matter what, is continuing to remove mail boxes and close post offices, all the while denying it is reducing service. A typical recent example came from Walkerton, Ontario, where the Post Office removed 11 of the town's 12 mailboxes this fall. According to Tom Dalby, the manager of media and community affairs at Canada Post's Huron Division, the removal of street letter boxes is a way of "increasing efficiency".
From Pro-Canada Dossier and Walkerton Herald-Times
(CX4246)

Varity pulls out with taxpayers' money
Varity Corporation, which owes its existence to a $200 million government bailout of its predecessor, Massey-Ferguson, is moving to the United States. Varity will pay a $25 million penalty for breaking its promise to keep its head office and a specified number of jobs in Canada, and a further $27 million in severance pay and benefits to its laid-off Canadian employees, including 1,400 workers laid off without severance pay in 1988, and 3,000 pensioners whose benefits it had cut off in 1988. However, it gets to keep the $200 million, for a net profit of approximately $150 million. Varity is not the only company to make such a move: for example, Tridon Ltd. announced in October that it is moving to the United States, wiping out 550 Canadian jobs, after picking up $9 million in government assistance.
(CX4247)

Rule change may hide executives' pay
Canadian corporate executives may have found a way of concealing the size of their pay cheques from Canadians. At present, corporations whose shares are listed on American stock exchanges, including many large Canadian companies, are required by U.S. disclosure rules to reveal the amounts top executives are paid. Companies listed on Canadian exchanges are only required to disclose the aggregate amount paid to top executives as a group. A proposed set of new rules, the Canada-U.S. Multijurisdictional Disclosure System, expected to be adopted early in 1991, would waive the disclosure requirement for Canadian executives. This would mean that in the future Canadians would not be able to use U.S. information to find out that, for example, Inco chairman Don Phillips made $1.9 million in 1989, while BCE president Raymond Cyr and Magna Corp. chairman Frank Stronach had to struggle by on $1.2 million each. The move comes at a time when the gap between the pay of top executives and ordinary workers in growing larger than ever. For example, a recent study by Hewitt Associates showed that executives received increases of 6.6 per cent last year, compared with 5.6 per cent for hourly workers.
(CX4248)

Benefit to Canada no longer matters
The National Energy Board, the federal agency that is supposed to regulate Canadian energy exports, has dropped its 'benefit-to-Canada' test for deciding whether an export should be approved. The test itself was a much-diluted criterion after the Free Trade Agreement forced it to abandon its previous mandate to ensure that Canada maintain at 25-year reserve of energy at all times. It dropped the 'benefit-to-Canada test' after American energy companies pressured the Canadian government to drop the test. The federal government has also taken away from the NEB the power to rule on hydro-electric exports, thereby allowing provinces such as Quebec and British Columbia to contract hydro deals with U.S. customers without any public input.
(CX4249)

Energy Board OKs pipeline subsidy
The National Energy Board has approved a $2.6 billion pipeline expansion project which will see Canadian consumers subsidizing the construction of a pipeline designed exclusively to serve American customers of TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. Sixty-four of TCPL's current industrial customers had objected to having to pay the costs of the new pipeline, saying that the cost of constructing the pipeline should be paid for by the U.S. customers it is designed to serve. The NEB's ruling reflects its similar policy for the Hibernia megaproject, where $2.7 billion of Canadian taxpayers' money is being used to support a project whose entire output is slated for export to U.S. markets.
(CX4250)

Environmental data lacking
According to the members of an expert panel assembled to prepare environmental "report cards" on the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, they had to abandon one of their main objectives, that of compiling key indicators of environmental quality, because so much of the needed information does not exist. "I was flabbergasted, not only at the gaps, but at the lack of correlation across the country," said panelist Peter Vivian, corporate vice-president of Bell Canada International. "I'd say we know nothing," said panelist Digby McLaren, a former president of the Royal Society of Canada. Information not being collected includes data on the amounts of toxic substances in fish (only Ontario collects detailed information on this); data on hazardous wastes (again, only Ontario compiles this); the extent of remaining wetlands and the rate at which they are disappearing; changes in the quality of soil or the losses caused by erosion; the rate of pesticide use by farmers and whether it is increasing or decreasing. There are also no common standards for what constitutes successful replanting of logged forests, and there are no national studies on human exposure to hazardous chemicals. The panel also complained that existing information is often out of date.
(CX4251)

Ecosystem research threatened
The future of Canada's most important ecosystem research program, the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program, is in doubt because of funding cutbacks. The ELA, located just east of Kenora, consists of 47 lakes and associated streams and watersheds. The area was set aside in 1968 for long term study. The ELA has since become known around the world as a uniquely important centre for whole ecosystem research, especially for research on the causes of lake eutrophication and acid rain. However, the program, funded primarily by the federal department of fisheries and oceans has been frozen. When the effects of inflation are taken into account, the project has suffered a 70 per cent funding cut since 1976.
Source: November-December 1990 issue of Alternatives, c/o Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo Ontario N2L 3G1.
(CX4252)

Auditor raps waste dumping
Federal negligence is allowing polluters to dump waste into northern rivers in clear violation of their licenses, according to Auditor-General Kenneth Dye. He blames the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for failing to enforce its regulations for waste discharge. In one example cited by Dye, the Justice Department wanted to lay charges against a company that had dumped excess waste for about 100 days in 1989, including arsenic for 50 days. Instead, Northern Affairs renewed the company's license. Across the country, according to Dye, only 50 per cent of Canada's mines were complying with effluent regulations in 1988, a serious decline from 1982 when 85 per cent of mines were obeying the rules.
(CX4253)

Ban on disposable diapers
The town of Saanich, British Columbia, is in the midst of legal battles after passing a bylaw banning the use of disposable diapers. The bylaw came out of concern for the waste disposal problems and health hazards caused by disposable diapers. (A baby will use something like 3,000 pounds of diapers before toilet training. Diapers alone account for about 2 per cent of the contents of landfill sites.) The bylaw would make it an offense to dispose of the diapers, and provides for fines and withdrawal of garbage pickup for repeat offenders. Saanich's action brought swift legal action from Procter & Gamble, which sees the bylaw as a dangerous precedent threatening its $400 million a year market in Canada.
(CX4254)

Japan suspends some driftnetting
The government of Japan has announced that it is suspending driftnet fishing in the South Pacific for the 1990-91 season which began October 1990. The Japanese announcement comes just before the July 1, 1991 deadline for ending all driftnet fishing set out in a UN General Assembly Resolution. This leaves only Taiwanese driftnets active in the South Pacific. South Korea had already withdrawn its South Pacific driftnet fleet before last year's season began. Taiwan has said it will abide by the UN ban, but in the interim Japan, South Korea and Taiwan will all continue driftnet fishing in the North Pacific.
(From Tok Blong SPPF, July 1990, and Pacific Report, July 19, 1990)
(CX4255)

Rights group criticizes Canada
The British-based international human rights group Article 19 has released a lengthy report documenting violations of basic freedoms by federal and provincial governments in Canada. The report, submitted to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights, accuses the Canadian army and the Quebec police of violating the freedom of speech of journalists during the armed standoff at Oka this summer. Other actions criticized were the seizure of publications by customs officials, cuts in support for aboriginal language programs, and failures of government officials to co-operate with freedom of information legislation.
(CX4256)

Court rules Ottawa negligent, ignorant
The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled that the federal government acted "negligently and ignorantly" towards a journalist seeking information about the impact of free trade. Toronto Star writer Martin Cohn attempted back in 1985 to gain access to government studies on the potential impact of the then-proposed free trade agreement with the United States. He was told by government officials to file a request under the Access to Information Act -- which he proceeded to do -- and then was stonewalled for eight months. Cohn, with the support of the federal Information Commissioner, then filed suit against the Department of External Affairs. The government's stonewalling was later shown to have been part of a deliberately adopted strategy of withholding any meaningful information about free trade as a way to prevent it from becoming a public issue. In ruling against the government's actions, the Federal Court of Appeal said that the government "delayed unduly", sought extensions that "were not justified", "acted unreasonably", "breached the requirements" of the Act, and "acted negligently and ignorantly outside the spirit of the Act". When eventually released by the government, the studies were heavily censored on the grounds that the contents would be "injurious to the conduct of international affairs." The deleted passages later turned out to be those portions which documented the potential negative impacts of the trade deal most clearly.
(CX4257)


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News Briefs published in the Connexions Digest #54, February 1992


Radio Canada slashed
Radio Canada International has lost almost half its budget and staff in cutbacks imposed by CBC management in response to massive spending cuts inflicted on the CBC by the federal Progressive Conservative government. The short-wave international service has had its budget reduced from $20 million to $12 million, and has been forced to lay off 93 of its 193 employees. Nine of the fourteen broadcast languages have been eliminated, and programming in English and French has been reduced.
(CX4428)

Telefilm Canada frozen
The Progressive Conservative government imposed a five-year budget freeze on Telefilm Canada, the federal agency which provides funding for the production and distribution of Canadian films and television programs. Taking inflation into account, this translates into a budget cut of about 20 per cent.
(CX4429)

CUPE sues to stop CBC cuts
The Canadian Union of Public Employees has filed suit to try to stop continuing cutbacks at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The union is arguing that the CBC is violating its mandate to provide a national service in both English and French and ignoring its licence obligations. CUPE represents several thousand CBC employees, including about 1,100 who have lost their jobs under the continuing CBC cutbacks.
(CX4430)

CBC archives decaying
Among the CBC staff laid off in the CBC cutbacks earlier this year were 13 broadcast librarians: the people whose responsibility it was to organize and preserve the film and tape which collectively represent Canada's broadcasting history. These collections are now being allowed to deteriorate. According to archivists, without staff to keep archives organized, collections of material quickly turn into a disorganized shambles. Tapes are removed and not returned. In Newfoundland, there was a recent outcry when it was discovered that the early shows featuring the CODCO troupe had been destroyed. The tapes had been erased and re-used: a practice that is becoming more frequent as the CBC is forced to cut expenses at any cost.
(CX4431)

GST subsidizes U.S. publishers
Canadian publishers are angry the goods and services tax (GST) is subsidizing U.S. book and magazine publishers at their expenses. Canadian publishers are compelled to charge GST on their prices, while many U.S. publishers selling into Canada don't, although in theory they are supposed to. As a result, Canadian publications are now seven per cent more expensive than U.S. competitors.
(CX4432)

Wilson opposes publishing safeguards
Trade Minister Michael Wilson strongly opposes Canada's current policy of attempting to strengthen Canadian ownership and distribution in book publishing. The policy is "contentious and costly", Wilson wrote last year in a memo to the Communications minister. Wilson opposed a provision requiring publishing firms bought by foreigners to be brought under 51 per cent Canadian control within two years. "This requirement runs counter to the government's open-for-business philosophy... and could pose a continuing irritant to our relations with the United States", Wilson wrote in a letter obtained by the Toronto Star newspaper. As Trade Minister, Wilson is supposedly responsible for defending Canadian cultural industries in the current round of free trade negotiations with the United States and Mexico. Americans lobbyists are pushing hard for the removal of remaining Canadian cultural protection policies. At present, Americans control 93 per cent of Canada's movie and video business, 90 per cent of the recording industry, and 92 per cent of book publishing. They receive about $350 million a year from TV program sales in Canada. Cultural products are the United States' second largest export, after arms sales.
(CX4433)

Attacks on the press
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has released its latest report, Attacks on the Press 1990. The report records about 1,000 instances of abuse of the press around the world in 104 countries. According to the 132-page report, 32 journalists were killed in 15 countries, at least 80 others were assaulted, and 270 were detained as a result of reporting the news. The report says that journalists were denied access to controversial areas and activities twice as often in 1990 as in 1989. Twenty-three governments brought in laws restricting journalists' ability to report information. One of the countries mentioned in the report is Canada. According to the report, there were eleven incidents of journalists being interfered with in their attempts to cover the crisis at Oka in the summer of 1990.
(CX4434)

Co-op housing under attack
The federal Progressive Conservative government is instituting further restrictions on co-operative housing programs through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which administers the co-op program. The planned measures include income ceilings for co-op members and surcharges on higher-income members. These measures are strongly opposed by the co-op movement as antithetical to the ideal of developing open, mixed-income communities. Co-ops see a mixed-income community as the key to avoiding the development of low-income ghettos which so often characterize public housing. In addition to these measures, the government has also slashed the amount of money available to build new co-op housing.
(CX4435)

New name for External
Canada's Department of External Affairs has been given a new name by the Progressive Conservative government. In keeping with its view of the world, the government renamed the department "External Affairs and International Trade Canada".
(CX4436)

Bush's leadership praised
Speaking during a visit to Ottawa by U.S. President George Bush, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said that he was struck by President Bush's "grasp of the issues and... breadth of vision," and praised Mr. Bush's "wise confident leadership." Prime Minister Mulroney went on to say that "The name George Bush will live proudly in the history of the free world. In fact, this presidency will always be remembered for the uncommon courage and strong leadership that President George Bush and the United States of America demonstrated throughout an exceptionally challenging and potentially explosive period in world history."
- Source: Toronto Star
(CX4437)

Big increases for civil service managers
At the same time that it is telling public service workers that they will get no pay increases at all, the federal government has given large pay increases and bonuses to public service management. Public service managers are receiving performance bonuses of 4.75 per cent this year. The average management salary is $61,000 before the increase, more than double what the average worker makes. The increases, which are retroactive to boot, were approved by the federal cabinet the day before the new budget was announced. The budget imposed a zero per cent increase on non-management workers in the civil service. "I just can't believe how arrogant, incompetent and corrupt this government can get," said Daryl Bean, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Meanwhile, Governor John Crow of the Bank of Canada, who has been waging a high-profile public campaign against `inflationary' wage increases for several years, gave his own senior staff increases of nine per cent, while he personally has gotten raises in excess of $103,000 over the past five years.
(CX4438)

Door opened to U.S. wheat
Thanks to a provision in the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, barriers to the import of U.S. wheat have now been lifted. International Trade Minister Michael Wilson has lifted Canada's import licensing requirements, which effectively kept U.S. wheat out of Canada for 48 years. Under a formula in the Free Trade Agreement, Canada was required to drop the licenses whenever Canadian subsidy levels were the same or greater than those in the U.S. Subsidies are calculated on a two-year period, so when western farmers received federal deficiency payments to assist them in two consecutive drought years, Canadian subsidy levels were temporarily higher. According to Nettie Wiebe of the National Farmers' Union, this represents a "historical blip". "If you had taken any two years over the last fifty, you would have found that U.S. subsidies were higher." However, thanks to the agreement signed by the Progressive Conservative government, huge U.S. flour mills are now able to sell flour at loss-leader prices into the Canadian market. The effect will be that some Canadian mills will close down, and prices paid to Canadian farmers will be forced down. Already this year, Canadian mills successfully pressured the Canadian wheat board to sell them wheat at less than the price paid to farmers. According to Wiebe, none of this is a surprise: "They're not hiding the fact that in the Free Trade Agreement the Wheat Board is one thing they (the Americans) wanted to destroy."
-Source: Action Canada Dossier
(CX4439)

'Open skies' proceeding
The federal government is proceeding towards the elimination of remaining regulations and restrictions on the airline industry in Canada. Although the Progressive Conservative government refers to the measures as an "open skies" agreement, what is actually being proposed is an agreement with the United States which would give U.S. airlines unrestricted access to the Canadian market. Critics have charged that the result would be to destroy the Canadian airline industry and cost thousands of workers their jobs. It is also understood that Canadian safety levels, which are generally higher than those in the U.S., would be brought in line with those in the U.S.
(CX4440)

Canadian firms losing out
The Canadian catalogue industry has lost $780 million to U.S. mail order operations over the past five years, at a cost of 4,000 jobs, because of postal and courier policies brought in by the federal Progressive Conservative government. The policy, introduced in 1985, allows mail and courier shipments valued at less than $40 to enter Canada free of all taxes and duties. The United States, meanwhile, extends no reciprocity, and not only are Canadian mail order shipments entering the U.S. subject to duties and applicable taxes, but a postal user fee and a customs user fee are also levied. As a result, both Canadian and U.S. consumers are better off ordering products of comparable price from a U.S. firm. The policy is expected to cost the Canadian industry anther 7,000 jobs by 1995.
(CX4441)

The rich get richer
A typical chief executive at a Canadian corporation receives a compensation package (salary plus various bonuses and benefits) of $389,000 (U.S.), according to the U.S. consulting firm Towers Perrin. By comparison, a Japanese CEO gets $308.000, and an American CEO gets $633,000. A U.S. CEO typically gets paid 130 times as much as the $21,735 received by a worker in his company's factory. This differential has increased massively during the Reagan-Bush years: 14 years ago, the difference was 34 times as much.
(CX4442)

New tax loophole for the wealthy
The federal government has instituted a change in Canada's tax laws which will mean a multi-billion dollar tax windfall for Canada's richest citizens. The legislation relates to something called 'family trusts', a means by which the wealthy avoid capital gains taxes. By putting money into a family trust, wealthy individuals can permanently avoid capital gains taxes because taxes are imposed only when ownership of an asset changes. By means of a family trust, assets can be passed on from generation to generation without technically ever changing hands, since the trust continues to retain ownership. In 1972, the federal government put a 21-year limit on the length of time that family trusts could escape being taxed. This would have meant that starting in 1993, family trusts would have been liable to tax on capital gains realized by their holdings. However, the Progressive Conservative government has now changed the legislation to put off tax liability until the time of death of the youngest child in the family, thereby extending the tax liability another 80 years or so into the future: a multi-billion dollar gift to the wealthy.
(CX4443)

Tax reform makes poor poorer
Changes in the tax system brought in by the federal Progressive Conservative government have resulted in lower-income taxpayers paying more tax in both relative and absolute terms, according to figures for 1989 released by Statistics Canada.
(CX4444)

Transfer payments cut
The Progressive Conservative government is making massive cuts in federal transfer payments to the provinces. As a result of the cuts, all federal funding for medicare will be ended within ten years. Payments for other social programs are also being cut substantially. For example, the federal contribution to provincial social assistance programs is being cut by about $865 million this year alone.
(CX4445)

U.S. siphons Canadian taxes
The U.S. government is pressuring American multinational corporations to implement accounting measures which will result in them paying substantially less tax to foreign governments, and more tax in the U.S. According to Lorraine Eden, an economist at Carleton University, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is engaged in a campaign to have multinationals attribute more of their expenses to Canadian and other foreign subsidiaries. Such a shift results in fewer taxes being payable in Canada, and more taxes being payable in the U.S., where the profit is declared. Such shifts are easy for multinationals to implement, since typically 70 per cent of their trade is within their own firms. By making paper changes in the prices it charges itself for goods and services, a corporation can substantially alter its profitability picture. Canada is particularly affected by such changes, because Canada has the highest rate of foreign ownership in the world, most of it U.S. ownership. With free trade, corporations now no longer have to take tariff barriers into account in making such decisions. According to Eden, the Internal Revenue Service has an army of experts working with multinationals to change their internal pricing practices to make their practices more beneficial to the U.S. and less beneficial to Canada. Revenue Canada, in contrast, has nothing in place to counteract the U.S. campaign.
(CX4446)

UI premiums up
The federal Progressive Conservative government raised unemployment insurance premiums by 24 per cent on July 1. The boost is to make up for the withdrawal of $2 billion of federal funding for the program. The increase is in spite of a promise by the Minister of Finance in 1990 that there would be no further unemployment insurance premium increases for three years.
(CX4447)

Inequalities grow in U.S.
The Reagan-Bush years have seen marked changes in economic status in the United States. During the 1980's, the top one-fifth of the population saw their real incomes grow by 32 per cent while their taxes went down six per cent. The poorest one-fifth, on the other hand, saw their real incomes decline 3 per cent and their taxes rise 16 per cent.
(CX4448)

"Citizens Coalition" loses
The National Citizens Coalition, a right-wing lobby group, has lost its six-year court battle to prevent trade unions from using any portion of union dues to support political causes. The test case concerned Mervyn Lavigne, a community college teacher, who objected to the fact that a small portion of his union dues (about $2 per year) were used to support causes he did not agree with, including disarmament campaigns and the New Democratic Party. Lavigne and the NCC argued that this violated his right to freedom of expression and freedom of association. However, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected Lavigne's appeal and reaffirmed the Rand formula, by which all members of a bargaining unit can be required to pay union dues even if they don't choose to join the union. The judges compared paying unions dues to paying taxes, saying that individuals are also required to pay taxes even if they don't agree with some of the purposes for which the taxes are spent. Judge Beverley McLaughlin said that paying union dues does not necessarily involve support for a cause any more than buying a car implies support for the way the manufacturers spends his profits. Labour advocates also point out that all union members have a right to have a say in union decisions, whereas they have no say in how a manufacturer spends his profit. Lavigne and the N.C.C. were ordered to pay legal costs in the case.
(CX4449)

Costly postal strikes
During the last big postal strike, in 1987, Canada Post spent $190 million dollars in "extraordinary expenses" related to the strike, i.e. on trying to break the strike. This amount translates into about $4,000 for each unionized mail handler working for the corporation, or the equivalent of at 15 per cent raise for each worker.
Source: CLC Today, July/August 1991
(CX4450)

Non-profits get exemption
Ontario's proposed Employee Wage Protection Program has been amended to exempt the directors of non-profit and charitable organizations from personal liability for employee wages. The legislation, introduced by Ontario's NDP government, was intended to deal with companies which went out of business leaving workers unpaid. However, non-profits feared that the new legislation would make it impossible to find directors willing to accept the liability of sitting on a Board of Directors. Even under the existing legislation, directors of non-profits as well as for-profit corporations can be liable for up to six months wages and 12 months vacation pay.
(CX4451)

Science spending eroding
The erosion of federal government spending on science is continuing again this year. Federal spending on science is being increased by 2.9 per cent, while inflation stands at 6.2 per cent.
(CX4452)

Thatcherism for kids
The number of children living in poverty doubled during Margaret Thatcher's eleven years as British Prime Minister, according to a report by UNICEF. According to the report, there were 1.6 million children living in poverty in the United Kingdom in 1979, and 3.1 million in 1989.
(CX4453)

Fisherman sues pulp mills
Danny Gagnier, a crab fisherman in Gibson, British Columbia, is suing two pulp mills, alleging they destroyed his livelihood by dumping toxic waste into prime fishing grounds in Howe Sound. Mr. Gagnier is suing Canadian Forest Products Ltd. and Western Pulp Inc. It is believed to be the first time that an individual has sued an alleged polluter for loss of income. The entire Howe Sound fishery was closed to crab fishing in 1989 because of high concentrations of dioxins and furans.
(CX4454)

Selling Earth Day
The Canadian Earth Day organization has come in for criticism for selling the rights to the Earth Day logo to corporate sponsors, including McDonald's and Ontario Hydro. "Earth Day is being packaged to be sold. It'll be a commodity by next year," said Jim Crabtree. "Earth Day is for people... It shouldn't be sold back to them on a package of Quaker Oats." However, directors of the Canadian Earth Day organization defended their actions. According to board member Patrick Deakin, "We're struggling for money to put ourselves in the position... to change people's behaviour in the world."
(CX4455)

Hydro-Quebec
The environmental group Greenpeace and the Mohawk newspaper Indian Times defied a court injunction banning publication of the contracts Hydro-Quebec signed with 13 major industrial customers. Greenpeace did it by holding a news conference in the United States, where the injunction did not apply. According to Doug George, the editor of Indian Times, his paper ignored the ban because the Mohawks consider the Akwesnasne reserve a sovereign nation not bound by Quebec laws. The publication ban, ordered by the Quebec Superior Court at the request of the 13 customers, was enforceable only in Quebec. Details of the contracts ended up being widely publicized in the United States, Norway, and Australia. Critics have said that the cut-rate deals are big money losers for Hydro-Quebec, and that they serve to increase power demand and justify the building of hydro mega-projects in northern Quebec.
(CX4456)

All-terrain vehicles kill
All-terrain vehicles, which have long been condemned by environmentalists for their noisy and profoundly harmful effects on nature, including the destruction of shorebird habitat and rare vegetation, are also dangerous to their users. An estimated 1,550 people were killed in the United States between 1982 and 1989 while riding ATVs, while over 50,000 a year are injured, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
(CX4457)

Big game hunters
A woman and two men have been charged in California with inviting wealthy trophy "hunters" to kill big cats kept in cages. The "hunters" paid up to $10,000 each to stand in front of the cages and shoot the rare animals, which included two Bengal tigers, a spotted leopard, a jaguar, and a mountain lion. One of those charged is a taxidermist who is said to have stuffed the dead animals for the "hunters".
(CX4458)

Ozone depleting quickly
The Earth's ozone layer is thinning about twice as rapidly as scientists previously believed, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A study done by the EPA indicates that the layer above the United States has been depleted about four or five per cent a year since 1978, about double what had been shown for previous studies. According to EPA Administrator William Reilly, the new estimates suggest that there could be an additional 200,000 deaths from skin cancer in the U.S. over the next fifty years, which would represent a doubling of the current rate of about 5,000 skin-cancer deaths a year.
(CX4459)

Environmental rights legislation
Ruth Grier, the Minister of the Environment in Ontario's NDP government, has set up a task force to produce a draft Environmental Bill of Rights. Environmental groups criticized the task force as laying the groundwork for a retreat by Grier, who as opposition environment critic had already prepared a complete bill and introduced it into the legislature. The seven-person committee appointed by Grier to draft the legislation includes representatives of the Business Council on National Issues, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, but no representatives from labour or farm groups.
(CX4460)

Polluter wins tax break
Domtar Corporation has requested and received a reduction in the taxes it has to pay in Alberta on land that it owns. Domtar contaminated the land in question so severely as to make it completely unusable. Domtar argued that the land was now impossible to ever sell and therefore worth less and that therefore it should have to pay less tax. The Alberta government agreed to lower Domtar's taxes.
(CX4461)

Speak no evil
Canada's Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) has been trying to dissuade the federal government from raising the issue of radiation releases from U.S. nuclear weapons plants, according to confidential government documents obtained by Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper. The AECB, supposedly Canada's nuclear watchdog, tried to get the federal government to stop questioning U.S. officials about radiation leaks from nuclear weapons plants in Ohio and Washington, two border states which routinely release large quantities of radioactive substances. According to the 1988 documents, the AECB was worried that the U.S. might respond by bringing up the issue of equally large releases from certain nuclear power plants and uranium refineries in Canada, notably the Cameco uranium refinery in Port Hope, on Lake Ontario. The AECB, ever-vigilant in its defense of the public interest, warned that "both sides would lose if it became public."
- Source: Globe and Mail, 24 October 1991
(CX4462)

Still OK to use "Green"
The Toronto Dominion Bank has lost the first battle in its effort to claim ownership of the word "green". The TD Bank has launched legal action against Canada Trust to stop Canada Trust from using the word "green" to promote its environmental initiatives. The TD Bank registered "green" as a trademark in 1978. TD was seeking an immediate injunction to stop Canada Trust from using "green" in its promotions, but this was denied by a federal court judge, who ruled this was not an emergency situation. TD is continuing legal action and is asking for $55 million from Canada Trust, claiming that Canada Trust is causing confusion among consumers and financial loss to the TD Bank.
(CX4463)

Aircraft pollution
The World Wide Fund for Nature has released a report drawing attention to pollution caused by airplanes. Aircraft give off the same harmful gases emitted by cars, mainly carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, but the effect is magnified many times over because of the thinness of the air at high altitudes. Nitrogen oxides emitted at high altitudes produce high-level ozone, which traps heat and contributes to global warming. Closer to the ground, these gases can be washed out by rain, but at higher altitudes they collect in the atmosphere.
(CX4464)

Patenting human life
A laboratory in the United States is seeking hundreds of patents on various parts of human DNA which its researchers have identified. The U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) has been analyzing various fragments of "complementary DNA or cDNA". Its technicians don't even know what the function of the various gene fragments is: they merely describe their composition, at the rate of 50 to 150 a day, and then take out a patent as the 'discoverer'. The laboratory is not the first in the U.S. to take out a legal patent on parts of the human body, but it is doing it on a more massive scale. Other scientists have been critical of the lab's actions. "I think it's disgusting," said Charles Cantor, a University of California biologist, predicting that the result would be "a disastrous and revolting gold rush to patent everything, every bit of sequence in the world." Sir Walter Bodmer, president of the International Human Gene Organization in London, called the U.S. move "disgraceful". However, Reid Adler, director of the NIH's Office of Technology Transfer, said the NIH was acting in accordance with a U.S. law requiring public laboratories to try to transfer their discoveries to commercial interests.
(CX4465)

Dangerous drugs
A study of deaths in Ontario prepared by the Addiction Research Foundation shows that in one year 13,375, or 20 per cent of all deaths, were linked to tobacco use. 6,506 deaths, or 9.7 per cent, were linked to alcohol. 125 deaths, or less than one-fifth of one per cent, were linked to illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin. In linking a death to drug use, the ARF included both direct causes, such as cirrhosis of the liver, and secondary factors, such as an automobile accident in which the driver was impaired.
(CX4466)

Handling of Oka condemned
The International Federation for Human Rights has released a report on the Oka crisis of the summer of 1990 which criticizes all sides for their actions during the dispute. The IFHR condemns the governments of Quebec and Canada for breaking off negotiations and sending in first the police and then the army. The Surete du Quebec is criticized for failing to protect Mohawks from white gangs. Both the SQ and the army are criticized for preventing food and medicine from entering Kanesetake and Kahnawake. The Mohawk Warrior Society is criticized for acting to escalate tensions unnecessarily. The report also suggests that many Mohawks were arrested "under improper conditions" and possibly abused in police custody.
Amnesty International, in its annual report on human rights violations worldwide, said that it is investigating allegations that Mohawks were mistreated by the Canadian army.
Source: The ACTivist
(CX4467)

Journalists' treatment at Oka criticized
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based organization, has condemned the way journalists were treated during the Oka crisis in the summer of 1990. According to the Committee, Quebec police confiscated video cassettes, turned off journalists' cellular phones, denied them access to equipment and lawyers, threatened and verbally abused at least one photographer, and prevented particular journalists from getting access to the site because the police didn't like the way their newspaper was covering the crisis.
(CX4468)

Quebec police shop for tanks
The Surete du Quebec sent two officers on a cross-border shopping trip to the United States earlier this year to price various kinds of armoured vehicles and equipment to use against 'civic unrest'. According to Surete du Quebec spokesman Pierre Lemarbre the force is considering the purchase of three Leopard tanks as well as other armoured vehicles. The tanks carry a 105-mm cannon and a 7.2 mm machine gun. According to Lemarbre, the 1990 stand-off at Oka demonstrated that the Quebec police did not have enough heavy equipment to deal with a crisis.
(CX4469)

Civil liberties body condemns sign law
Quebec's French-only sign law has been condemned by the international human rights organization Article 19, a group which defends freedom of information and expression. Quebec's law allows only the French language on signs outside commercial premises. On inside signs, French must predominate. "If one significant sector of a community is precluded from expressing itself in a particular language, then that is a form of censorship, absolutely," said Frances D'Souza, director of Article 19. The section on Canada in Article 19's report also expresses concern about concentration of newspaper ownership and about the lack of power in voluntary press councils.
(CX4470)

Postering bylaw
The Ontario Court of Appeal has struck down a City of Peterborough bylaw which prohibited postering "on any public property" within city limits. In throwing out a case against a Peterborough musician who had been charged with putting up posters for his band's performances, the court said that "`Postering' as a method of communicating a fact is common in our cities and towns, and no member of our society can be unaware of the use of posters on utility poles to convey information on the part of individuals and governments, varying in nature from notices of garage sales to notices of lost pets, to transit information, to voters' lists." The musician's appeal had been supported by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
(CX4471)

Groups wins right to leaflet at airport
A political group has won the right to display placards and hand out leaflets at federal airports, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling. The court unanimously ruled that authorities at Dorval airport in Montreal were wrong to bar the Party for the Commonwealth of Canada from setting up at the airport. It rejected the government's contention that because it owns the airports, it can ban any activity it wants. Airports are public thoroughfares that cannot be treated like private property, the court said.
(CX4472)

Ex-POWs sue Japan over atrocities
Surviving prisoners of war and civilian internees from six countries have filed a claim with the United Nations Human Rights Commission for war reparations against Japan. The action is being carried forward by The War Amputations of Canada. The action is on behalf of 200,000 survivors and their widows, including 1,200 Canadians. The Japanese government has refused to compensate war veterans on the grounds that the peace treaties it signed in 1951 and 1952 ended its legal obligations. Japan subjected prisoners of war to numerous atrocities, including beatings, torture, deliberate undernourishment and starvation, illegal medical experiments, inadequate shelter and clothing, and forced labour, all in violation of the Geneva accords.
(CX4473)

Postal workers bugged
The labour movement and civil liberties advocates are calling for a public inquiry into reported illegal wiretapping of the union offices of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. The calls came after a security company which studied the CUPW's phone system during the 1987 national strike reported that "it is obvious that the telephone system had been compromised." The union suspects that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) may have been involved, but there is no way of being certain, since CSIS is not required to reveal whose phones it wiretaps.
(CX4474)

Obscenity conviction
A Toronto book store and its five owners have been convicted on obscenity charges after police seized magazines which the judge said involved "undue exploitation of sex". Alan Gold, the lawyer for NOP Ltd. and its owners said the decision will be appealed. According to Mr. Gold, the materials in question would be found offensive only by an anti-sexual but vocal minority of Canadians.
(CX4475)

Drug testing case
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is taking legal action against the Toronto Dominion Bank over its drug testing policy. Under the policy, newly hired employees must provide a urine specimen which will be tested for drugs. Employees who refuse can be terminated. The CCLA has filed a complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act, saying that "Many people would regard the sharing of their urine with strangers as a gratuitous intrusion on their personal privacy and human dignity." The CCLA says the policy discriminates against employees who are presumed to use drugs without any evidence of impaired job performance.
(CX4476)

Hunting in Algonquin Park
Environmentalists and Native people are at odds over a recent decision by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources not to prosecute members of the Golden Lake Indian Band who violate game regulations in Algonquin Park. The Golden Lake Band has been pursuing a land claim which includes large portions of Algonquin Park and has been insisting on its right to hunt in the park. The Federation of Ontario Naturalists (FON) is concerned that fish and game are already in decline in the park, and in addition is opposed to any hunting in provincial parks. The FON is calling on the government to take steps to give the Golden Lake Band access to Crown Lands outside the Park, and to work with the band to preserve and enhance the park by training Native people as conservation officers and park wardens.
(CX4477)

Warrior Society criticized
An internal investigation by the Iroquois Confederacy says that the Mohawk Warrior Society undercut attempts to reach a peaceful solution at Oka in 1990 and instead deliberately chose to provoke a confrontation with the army. In Kanesetake, a strongly anti-Warrior band council was elected by a large majority in the aftermath of the crisis, in an election which was boycotted by 'traditionalists' who believe that only the traditional chiefs of the Iroquois Confederacy should wield authority. However, traditional chief Kanawato (Samson Gabriel) also stated his opposition to the Warriors, saying that "It was not sanctioned by the Confederacy for the Warriors to pick up arms. They weren't acting according to the Great Law of Peace... When the guns came in, we got out of there because we disagreed."
Source: The ACTivist
(CX4478)

Native pollution nightmare
Native communities face extremely serious environmental and health problems caused by pollution, according to Henry Lickers, director of the environmental division of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. According to Lickers, what is happening in native communities foreshadows what will happen elsewhere as pollution problems continue. "We are a bellwether because we live off the land. But the nightmare we are living today, you will live tomorrow." The island reserve of Akwesasne is surrounded by heavy industry, including two chemical plants, a pulp and paper mill, two aluminum smelters, and an autoparts plant. These industries produce mercury, PCBs, organochlorines and fluoride that have polluted the land and water, according to Lickers. He also linked the pollution to other problems in the impoverished community, saying that "when resources disappear, people become more desperate. Pollution causes great stress on the community, and ultimately violence results. Mohawks at Akwesasne depended historically on farming, fishing, small-game hunting and raising livestock, activities made impossible in recent years because of heavy pollution.
(CX4479)

"Granny dumping"
Elderly Americans are being abandoned at hospital emergency departments in a new phenomenon known as "granny-dumping", according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). According to AARP, the old persons are usually left in the emergency waiting room by relatives. By the time hospital staff realize that the old person is not sick, the relatives have disappeared. Some just drop off the relative from a car and summon staff by sounding the horn, before driving away. According to Dr. Tom Mitchell, the head of emergency at Tampa General Hospital, which sees two or three such cases a week, people dumping relatives "feel overwhelmed. They have reached the point where they can no longer care for the old person." Medicare in the United States does not pay for care in nursing homes, or for long-term care at home, and temporary help is difficult to obtain.
(CX4480)

Compiled by Ulli Diemer


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