Connexions Digest Collected News
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
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."
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
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
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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."
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
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
-CPPA Newsletter #128
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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."
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
-Source: Canadian Press, November 12, 1989
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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."
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."
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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."
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".
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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".
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 --
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
-- Conscience Canada, March 20, 1990. Conscience Canada can be contacted
at Box 601, Station E, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2P3, (604)
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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).
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.
$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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
(From Tok Blong SPPF, July 1990, and Pacific Report, July 19, 1990)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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
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.
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
'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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
Source: CLC Today, July/August 1991
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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".
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Source: The ACTivist
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.
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.
Compiled by Ulli
News Briefs 1987- 1991
News Briefs 1992- 1994
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