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Novembre 29, 2010

What stories should we cover in December?

Dominion Stories

What do you want to read about? What do Canadians need to know about? Post your story ideas and links below. We'll consider links for the Dominion's twice-monthly feature, Fortnight in Review, and we'll send journalists here for story ideas.

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The Media Co-op and the Dominion are reader-supported, and we're also reader-driven. Many of our best story ideas come from reader suggestions and dialogue between members. Thanks for adding to the dialogue!


Holes in the Hoods: our cities' dirty, toxic spaces

Our cities are full of spaces in stasis. I'm talking about Toronto because that's where I live, but I'm curious about all the cities and things like:

Decomissioned gas stations:

  • how long do they have to sit there, lowering our property values, deterring investors, uglying up our 'hoods and reminding us that we're savage oil fiends? 20 years? 40?
  • can we plant things there to speed up the rejuvination?
  • what happens when citizens try to art up the fences - my buddies and I got a talking to from some cops who got called by a local drunk who's super unpopular with the business owners on the street... we had to take all our art down (coloured ribbons woven into the fence) after getting a wonderful reception from the rest of the community... this is just my example but these spaces TEMP BEAUTIFICATION and funny things happen when people get totally sick of the chain link fences

Toxic old factories, warehouses, etc:

  • is the city leaving power on in unused buildings and how much is it costing us?
  • some fun tales of squatters and underground art would be fun
  • are these places so toxic that they can't be used for ANYTHING in a time when downtown real estate is so coveted?
  • would it be impossible/unforgivable to try to "green" these spaces?

The traintracks:

  • current & future railpath plans
  • why are railpaths so badly marked, maintained, and advertised? Does the city want them to be a secret?

wrecked rivers - in Toronto, for example, we have these rivers that go through the city, towards the lake. 

  • We COULD have turned them into extremely beautiful, valuable, green neighbourhoods, but instead we put highways and power lines around them, made them brown with our waste, almost inaccessible, and toxic enough that you're advised not to "linger" there. How did that happen? Wasn't it a huge economic mistake?
  • Do we have plans to turn these shitty rivers into hugely profitable residential/shopping/business districts, with parks all along the rivers?

And the big question for me - are these toxic areas the only things that keep Canada's cities affordable for Canada's poor to live (and get cancer) in? Are they the only thing that keep our rental rates from skyrocketing? Because I've noticed that the cheap areas all have one thing in common: they're next to something gross. Something STINKY and UGLY. And the valuable areas are always next to parks.

Another question - is there some tactic in place to reduce property value so much through toxicity that it can be acquired super-cheap by the same people who "revitalize" and resell it? And is that what happened with the Toronto waterfront???

So, help me?!

What do you think about WIKILEAKS?

North American "trade and security perimeter" agreement

missed this one earlier... prob more recent news on it already or later this month... link to article online:

Canada, U.S. on verge of North American trade, security ’perimeter’

OTTAWA — A landmark deal is at hand between Canada and the United States to form a trade and security perimeter around the continent with an eye to easing the flow of goods and people across the border, the National Post is reporting.

Called the New Border Vision, the pact could be signed as early as January by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama.

It is unofficially anticipated that the plan will be on the agenda when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Ottawa on Monday. But officially, the perimeter pact is still below the radar.

“No such announcement is planned,” a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told the National Post. “We don’t comment on hearsay or speculation.” Nor would a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa comment on the matter.

But according to people familiar with the plan, The New Border Vision is being billed as a border management system that will include new common consumer product regulations, a pre-clearance agreement for goods crossing the border to expedite waiting times and the use of advanced technology to utilize biometric data for travellers at airports and land crossings, reports say.

The use of the term “perimeter” is also revealing as such a term would not have been used earlier in the decade due to sensitivities about Canadian sovereignty.

Colin Robertson, a senior research fellow with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, told the National Post the agreement is an attempt by the Canadian government to link security to improved access to the U.S. for Canadians.

“‘Perimeter’ is a vital word because back in the Chretien government days we couldn’t use it because we would get caught up in the sovereignty allergy we too often have,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense.”

“It’s big on ideals but maybe not so great on details,” one person familiar with the negotiations told the National Post. “But it does use the word ‘perimeter’ many times . . . The question is, will it reduce the compliance burden at the Canada-U.S. border?”

Last March, the U.S. signed a similar agreement with Mexico. It aims to expedite travel and commerce such as secure transit lanes for pre-cleared rail and truck shipments, as well as passenger pre-clearance for individuals.

Robertson said he anticipates that the deal will be popular with the business community. But another business person was skeptical. “A vision without money,” he said, “is a hallucination.”

Canada and the U.S. have taken some steps to ease border congestion —_notably the NEXUS membership card and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) trusted traveller programs as a valid means of identification at the border.

But more serious steps have failed.

In 2005, the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership was signed by former prime minister Paul Martin, ex-U.S. president George W. Bush and former Mexican president Vicente Fox.

The SPP was aimed at reducing the cost of trade and improving the flow of people and information but became a lightning rod for criticism. It was savaged in the U.S. by CNN anchor Lou Dobbs who argued it was part of a plan to merge the U.S., Canada and Mexico into a North American Union.

By 2009, all three governments had abandoned the SPP, which is “no longer an active initiative,” according to its website.

Read more:

Toronto columnist threatened by police for G20/policing coverage


Strange warning from the karma police

G20 a red-hot topic among cops

Last Updated: December 13, 2010 10:26pm


It’s not easy criticizing police.

And it’s certainly not fun receiving an intimidating message from a Toronto Police officer’s Facebook account warning that “karma” is “strange” and to “buckle up.”

But this e-mail sent to me, I was informed by Staff

Supt. Cyril Fernandes who heads the Professional Standards Unit Monday night, will be investigated.

Although I did not lay a complaint, and had simply asked Chief Bill Blair for comment, Fernandes said the police were taking the initiative on their own.

I was writing about a man named Mike who called the John Oakley Show on AM640 and told the panel consisting of lawyer Lorne Honickman, Toronto Star columnist Joe Fiorito and NDP MPP Peter Kormos that during the G20 “99% of the public were fine and 99% of the officers were fine” but “there was absolutely a culture that was tainted.”

As a result, MIke said, “the only way I can go out on the streets and look the public in the eye when I am doing my job (is) they need to know there is a certain layer of protection that exists.”

Short of there being a proper inquiry to hear testimony like this, I thought Mike’s words were important to the process.

“There are things I saw on the G20 weekend that ordinarily would be brought up on report and mentioned to my superiors ... I can tell you unequivocally that on the grass roots level, and even at the mid level, the message was clear: Shut your mouth, don’t say anything to the media and this is going to go away and it will be business as usual.”

One of his concerns was “when you cover up your badge number it shows premeditation and it shows culpability” and shows “you knew you were doing something wrong and didn’t want to be identified.”

Mike also said “there is no question there was an amped up testosterone culture that I saw only in my days of college football. We were sent out to the streets cranked up, whether the chief wants to admit that or not. On the street level, and on the buses, before we were deployed there was a real, sort of, sports culture.”

He said “in a lot of cases” normal procedure “went out the window” and “people were not functioning within the rules.” Examples he cited included “search powers” extending as high as St. Clair Ave.

“There was clearly a sense that there’s the rules, and then during this weekend there was in airborne quote marks, ‘the rules.’”

Honickman asked him if he reported any officers breaking the law?

“You know I didn’t,” Mike said. “I don’t sleep well at night because I have to go into Regent Park and I have to look people in the eye after gang shootings. I have to tell them they should be ashamed of themselves for not speaking up to help their community and when I go home at night I have to look in the mirror and I have to have the same discussion with myself and I can’t give the same answer any more.”

Const. Wendy Drummond said it has not “been determined if it was a police officer.” Perhaps Professional Standards will attempt to talk with Mike.

Kormos made the point “my fear this caller is going to be investigated more rigorously and vigorously than any of the scoff law outlaw cops on that weekend for making that call.”

But I still believe we can get this right. However I would understand Mike’s reluctance since I received a strange e-mail myself from a Facebook account of a Toronto Police officer I know, and have always liked, named Sylvie Guay, a contributor of Police Chief Magazine and who still holds a key role at headquarters.

Under the subject heading “true colours” the message said “can’t believe you couldn’t take a moment out of you (sic) life and column to even mention Mark Dailey’s death. Wow ... did I peg you or what! Thanks for proving me right! Karma is a strange thing Joe ... buckle up ... you’re in for a real dose of it.”

Karma? Buckle up? I was curious what the writer, who clearly didn’t realize I did write twice about Dailey’s passing, might know about my future?

Columnists must have a thick skin but this made me uncomfortable.

You can’t pick your spots as a daily columnist. I am not always right and maybe not always fair. But I try to be both. I love my readers. I love this city — warts and all.

Sometimes I am a cheer-leader, sometimes a champion and sometimes a critic.

And sometimes I have to buckle up.

I'd be interested in an

I'd be interested in an exploration of the links between the policing of the g20 and the daily policing practices in areas like jane and finch and driftwood. In those areas, arbitrary detentions and illegal searches are routine, just replace 'looking like a protestor' with 'young and black'.

These similarities were clear to many of those arrested who spent time in Maplehurst after the G20 as they shared stories with other inmates.

hear hear

I second that proposal/idea!

Solidarity with Cancun - actions in Canada

Saturday December 4th

Hundreds gather for People’s Assembly on Climate Justice in Toronto:
Activists, Organizers, Neighbourhood Participants discuss community response to the Climate Crisis

Toronto – In solidarity with international calls for a global response to the illegitimate solutions being pushed by rich industrial nations at the United Nations annual Climate Change Conference, community organizers and neighbourhood participants are gathering for the second Toronto People’s Assembly on Climate Justice at Sidney Smith Hall, on the University of Toronto campus.

“The People’s Assembly on Climate Justice offers an alternative to the corrupt and illegitimate solutions which are being pushed through the United Nations,” says Julien Lalonde, a community organizer with Toronto Bolivia Solidarity. “By using channels of collective dialogue and community empowerment we will start the process of working together as a movement that understands the fundamental interconnectedness of our struggles for social, economic and environmental justice.”

Building on the precedents set during the Reclaim Power action in Copenhagen last year and the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights in Bolivia last April, the People’s Assembly uses a novel approach to community organizing based on the principle of radical horizontality.

“Through a horizontal people’s process, the Assembly seeks to create a space where we can work together to share experience, knowledge, and resources in order to build a local response to a global crisis,” says Brett Rhyno of Environmental Justice Toronto and a participant in the original Reclaim Power People’s Assembly. “The challenge of the climate crisis can only be met with a coordinated response that will bring forth our power in numbers.”

As the Canadian government works to obstruct progress in Cancun by parroting the US and at home by killing the Climate Change Accountability Act, the need is clear for communities to step up and start building their own solutions. The goal of the People’s Assembly is to generate new possibilities and new hopes in order to bridge the gap from separately operating groups, communities, and individuals, to converge into one diverse, united movement.

The Toronto People’s Assembly is one of fourteen Assemblies happening across Canada in response to a national call for People’s Assemblies put out by the Council of Canadians, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Indigenous Environment Network, and KAIROS.

For more information,

David Gray-Donald 416-606-5801

The attached image is of a Skype call between conference attendees and Andrea Harden-Donahue, Climate Justice Campaigner, Council of Canadians. The call was made during lunch which was in between dozens of smaller group workshops sessions. Better quality images will be available at by December 5 at the latest.

To add: solidarity action in Vancouver

Climate Justice in Vancouver: "The Time for Compromise is Over"Rally participants sandbag Vancouver offices of BC premier and cabinet

In solidarity with activists in Cancun and people around the world, close to 100 people participated in a climate justice rally in downtown Vancouver today. As a symbolic direct action to highlight the inaction of the government of British Columbia on climate issues, the demonstrators sandbagged the Vancouver offices of the BC premier and cabinet.


Another lap around the G20 ring for Hundert...


Jailed G20 defendant Alex Hundert submits application to disqualify Crown
counsel for bias

Motion in Court: Mon Dec 6 at 10 am, Superior Court of Justice, 361

MEDIA CONTACTS: Yogi Acharya (Community Solidarity Network, No One Is
Illegal-Toronto): 647 764 0488; John Norris (Legal Counsel): 416 419 1096;
Rachel Avery: (AW@L): 519 616 5549

December 6, 2010, Toronto, Mississauga New Credit – G20 defendant Alex
Hundert is filing a motion in Superior Court today to disqualify any Crown
counsel employed by the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario from
being involved in prosecuting his current charges and conducting his bail
hearing. Hundert was arrested for a third time on Saturday October 23 at
his surety’s home and charged with allegedly intimidating two Crown
attorneys during a court appearance. He has been in jail since.

According to Yogi Acharya a member of the organization No One Is Illegal -
Toronto and supporter of Hundert, “These charges are baseless and there is
no clear evidence to substantiate them. The charges are being laid by the
same Crown attorneys of the Guns and Gangs Initiative who have been trying
to keep Alex behind bars, most recently for supposedly breaching
conditions by speaking on a public panel. There is a motion to disqualify
this Crown’s office since two Crown attorneys are themselves charging Alex
now which reveals their and their office’s particular bias against him.”

Since his initial pre-emptive arrest on June 26 on charges of conspiracy,
Hundert has spent over three months in jail, pending bail hearings and
trials. “I am deeply concerned that Alex Hundert continues to be targeted.
This is his third arrest under questionable circumstances,” says Ryan
White, a lawyer with The Movement Defence Committee.

From jail, AW@L member Alex Hundert had this to say: “The targeting and
ongoing harassment of me by the Crown and police is not unique, nor an act
of incompetence. Their actions are intentional, and an inherent part of
how the criminal injustice system works to silence dissent across

Acharya continues: “Inventing ludicrous pretexts and charges to keep Alex
in jail clearly demonstrates the malicious nature of the Crown’s office.
Perhaps they are afraid that Alex's views on state repression are
resonating with the general public as more people are becoming angry at
the police violence during the G20 summit. The fact that, for example, the
Special Investigations Unit recently cleared officers of blatantly violent
acts highlights the disturbing reality of intensifying police impunity.”

Since Hundert’s arrest on the morning of June 26, he was re-arrested on
September 17 after speaking at a university panel discussion. He was
released a month later on restrictive conditions, including no expressing
of views on a political issue, condemned by Canadian Association of
Journalists, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Labour
Congress, and Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.
Hundert intended to challenge these conditions, but was re-arrested a week

According to Rachel Avery, member of the group AW@L, “Alex's continued
detention and targeting is symbolic of the state's intention to quash
those who challenge its systems of exploitation. This has become more
visible in recent weeks, as in the case of Adam Nobody and actions of the
Ottawa Police. But as these injustices continue, opposition only continues
to mount as more people see the impropriety of the police and legal
system, and our conviction to fight for justice is strengthened.”


Racism in minor hockey in Canada

"A minor hockey coach in Peterborough, Ont., remains suspended after he pulled his team off the ice mid-game because an opponent directed a racial slur at one of his players."


Indigenous Actions in Cancun

Ongoing actions in Cancun, many of them indigenous-led, focusing on the tar sands, etc.

Some links:


The 2010 Right Livelihood Awards Dec 6

NNIMMO BASSEY (Nigeria) receives an Award “for revealing the full ecological and human horrors of oil production and for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally”.
Bishop ERWIN KRÄUTLER (Brazil) is honoured “for a lifetime of work for the human and environmental rights of indigenous peoples and for his tireless efforts to save the Amazon forest from destruction”.
SHRIKRISHNA UPADHYAY and the organisation SAPPROS (Nepal) are recognised “for demonstrating over many years the power of community mobilisation to address the multiple causes of poverty even when threatened by political violence and instability”.

Due to a loss of a family member, Shrikrishna Upadhyay is prevented from coming to Stockholm. He and SAPPROS will be represented by Mr. Narendra Bahadur, Executive Director of SAPPROS, and Dr. Jyoti Bhattarai, Mr. Upadhyay's daughter.
The organisation PHYSICIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS-ISRAEL (Israel) is awarded “for their indomitable spirit in working for the right to health for all people in Israel and Palestine”.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel will be represented in Stockholm by its president and founder Dr. Ruchama Marton.

About the Award

Founded in 1980, the Right Livelihood Awards are presented annually in the Swedish Parliament 'to honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today'. They are often referred to as 'Alternative Nobel Prizes'. The prize money, EUR 200,000, is shared by all four Laureates.

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