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
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
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.
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
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.
Briefs from the Connexions Digest #50
Briefs from the Connexions Digest #51
Briefs from the Connexions Digest #52
Briefs from the Connexions Digest #53
Digest Collected News Briefs 1989 – 1992
Compiled news summaries published in the Connexions Digest, issues
50 – 54. (CX4906).
News Briefs 1987 – 1991
News Briefs 1992 – 1994