Connexions Digest #54 News Briefs

Compiled by Ulli Diemer

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 worker.
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 Safety Commission.

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 a year.

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.

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

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.

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

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 Project 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.

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

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.

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

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 disagreed.”
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.

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

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