Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.

Friday

Don’t frack Ontario! The Council of Canadians

Don’t frack Ontario! The Council of Canadians
On May 17, the Wynne Liberals passed Bill 127, which included an amendment to the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act for “projects that involve the injection of substances into underground geological formations.”

Without naming it, that literally describes the process of fracking. Oil and gas companies draw enormous volumes of water from local watersheds, mix in toxic chemicals, and then high-pressure inject it deep underground to fracture rock to release trapped natural gas.

You may have seen news reports of how fracking has contaminated the drinking water of area residents, in some cases coming out of the tap with so much methane that it can be lit on fire. And now a new expert study directly links fracking to earthquakes happening in B.C. and  beyond.

But the Wynne government is choosing to ignore this evidence. It also ignored the advice of Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe,
who noted in a May 11 letter before the vote on Bill 127:
“If the government does not intend these changes to apply to high-volume hydraulic fracturing, the easiest way to avoid mis-interpretation would be to expressly provide that this permitting authority does not apply to fracking.” 
You and I can’t let the province do this, especially after  just last week failing to protect our community water supplies from giant  bottling companies like NestlĂ©.

Please  add your name to the more than 3,000 people who have already called on  Premier Wynne to ban fracking.

Monday

Evidence for Democracy - Science Integrity Policies

Canada is on its way to establishing science integrity policies!
Science integrity policies aim to ensure that government science follows the protocols of objectivity, openness, replicability, transparency, and freedom from undue influence.
This is amazing news! We have been pushing for the establishment of robust, progressive science integrity policies since the Liberal government was elected in October 2015. 
Objective, sound, and robust science, evidence, and data are needed to inform policy. When government decisions are made on the best available evidence, our health, environment, economy, and communities improve.
Science Integrity Policies (SIPs) are policies aimed to ensure government science follows the protocols of objectivity, openness, replicability, transparency, and freedom from undue influence.
Last December, the Government and PIPSC negotiated the inclusion of government scientists’ right to speak in collective agreements. This means that if the government tries to muzzle scientists, they can file a grievance with their union.
Taking this further, these new agreements between the government and union require that each federal department with more than 10 researchers establish SIPs.

Amnesty International Canada - Action for Saeed Malekpour

Amnesty International Canada
"All I want is for my brother to be free, and returned to his home in Canada, and I want an investigation that will reveal the truth."  - Maryam Malekpour, sister of Saeed

A Canadian permanent resident originally from Iran, Saeed Malekpour made a trip in 2008 to visit his ailing father in Iran. He was arrested and accused on the grounds that an open source web program he created for uploading photos to the internet had been misused. In 2010, he was sentenced to death. The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2012.
While detained Saeed reported he was blindfolded and handcuffed while several individuals beat him with cables, batons, and their fists in order to force a confession. His televised ‘confession’ was the only ‘evidence’ used against him in court to secure his conviction. Saeed was then sentenced to another 7 years in prison for speaking out about the torture he experienced.

Sunday

Petition e-1030 to Reinstate Navigable Waters Act

Petition e-1030 - E-petitions
  • More than 35 million people directly rely on the Great Lakes every single day and political realities of any empowered government prevent direct action in protecting freshwater tributaries, streams, rivers and lakes; thus, the need for indefinite protection beyond legislation is required to ensure all Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, can enjoy the sanctity and longevity of the Great Lakes Basin for generations to come;
  • The relationship between major industry proponents including the oil and gas industry and the Canadian Government, as well as any empowered political party of the present day, is fundamentally flawed when considering the need to protect the Great Lakes upon which all life depends; and
  • Any well meaning government concerned with Canada’s environmental legacy and wealth cannot, without significant disruption to the operating status quo and fulfilling the directives of economic growth, make lasting change to protect Water indefinitely.
We, the undersigned, Indigenous & Non Indigenous Peoples of the Great Lakes, First Nations, Metis and Inuit and Citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to undertake a process by which to formerly acknowledge the Great Lakes as Living Entities, thereby assigning legal personhood to each Lake including Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario within its power as a Nation State under the British Commonwealth;
Support the formation of a Multi-Interest Great Lakes Tribunal lead by Indigenous Peoples that will act as the Voice of these new Persons. This entity should be formulated by appointment via Indigenous protocols and through multi-interest groups already in existence.
Reinstate the Navigable Waters Protection Act through repealing sections of the Omnibus Bill C-45.

Saturday

Jane Goodall Wants You To Stand Up To Those Who Belittle Science - see local marches for Earth Day

The video message comes a few days after Goodall, a United Nations “messenger of peace,” traveled to Washington, D.C., where she spoke with media before addressing students at American University. That same day, President Donald Trump, who’s described climate change as a “bullshit” “hoax” and who’s vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the historic Paris climate agreement, signed an executive order to reverse Obama-era policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Asked by The Huffington Post about Trump’s climate actions, Goodall called them “immensely disturbing.” However, she believes the Trump administration has woken people up, citing the numerous marches and demonstrations.
The “March for Science” is supported by a nonpartisan coalition of scientific groups and is scheduled for Earth Day — April 22. While the main rally will occur in Washington, D.C., satellite marches have been organized in more than 400 locations around the globe. The D.C. event is “a call for politicians to implement science-based policies, as well as a public celebration of science and the enormous public service it provides in our democracy, our economy, and in all our daily lives,” according to the official website of the march.

TORONTO MARCH: https://sciencemarchto.ca/
see satellite marches for other Ontario events, and in your neighbourhood.

Friday

Canada-China Free Trade Agreement talks

Stop the Canada-China Free Trade Agreement talks!
I am very concerned about the likely impacts of a Canada-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on people in both countries.
I oppose the investor-state dispute settlement provision that is already in the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). This provision allows transnational corporations to sue governments for future lost profits due to legislation that protects the public interest, including the environment. I think that this provision should be removed from FIPA and should not be strengthened by a new FTA.
I am concerned about the impact of a Canada-China FTA on Indigenous rights. The Chinese government has said that a free trade deal would require Canadian concessions on investment restrictions in the oil and gas sector, and a commitment to build an energy pipeline to the coast. This violates Indigenous rights in that these projects affect their lands and waters – without their free, prior and informed consent.
I am also concerned that a Canada-China FTA could lead to water pollution and increased bottled water takings. An expansion of the tar sands would mean more water pollution in northern Alberta, while pipelines put waterways across the country at risk. As well, about 90 per cent of the groundwater in Chinese cities is polluted and 700 million people in those cities drink contaminated water every day. Given China already sees Tibet as a source for bottled water, it's possible that China might look to Canada as a source of bottled water as well. Canada could also be promoted as a country with ample water for China's water-intensive industries.
I am disappointed that you launched an online consultation on a Canada-China FTA six months after you announced exploratory talks would take place and three weeks after those talks began. The online consultation form gives you the opportunity to say you have consulted Canadians, but it does not give me the opportunity to directly say I oppose a Canada-China FTA.
I ask that you stop the current talks on a Canada-China FTA, that you hold proper consultations with Canadians and First Nations, and that any future talks be open, transparent and accountable to the public.

Sunday

Women's rights under assault: UN

Women's rights under assault: UN, Agence France-Presse

Women's rights are under fresh assault worldwide, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday as a two-week conference kicked off at the United Nations to take stock of the fight for gender equality.
President Donald Trump's "global gag rule" cutting US funding to groups that offer abortion services and Russia's decision to ease punishment for domestic violence are casting a long shadow on the annual gathering of the Commission on the Status of Women.
"Globally, women are suffering new assaults on their safety and dignity," Guterres told the opening session of the conference at UN headquarters in New York.
"Some governments are enacting laws that curtail women's freedoms. Others are rolling back legal protections against domestic violence."
Trump, who declared himself opposed to abortion during his campaign, signed a decree just days into his presidency barring US funding for foreign non-governmental groups if their work touches on abortion.
A few weeks later, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that reduces penalties for domestic violence to a fine instead of a jail term, if the assault is a first offence and does not cause serious injury.
This year's gathering focuses on women's economic empowerment in the changing world of work, with attention turning to pay inequality and paid parental leave.
The United Nations has set a global goal of achieving gender equality by 2030. A recent study by the International Labour Organization warned that without stronger measures, it will take 70 years to close the gender wage gap.

Tuesday

UN Secretary-General's Message for International Women’s Day | UN Women

UN Secretary-General's Message for International Women’s Day | UN Women – Headquarters

UN Secretary-General's Message for International Women’s Day

Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.
Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.
Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.
Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being eroded further. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined. Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.
Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.
Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.
Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 per cent to a girl’s future income.

UN experts denounce 'myth' pesticides are necessary to feed the world

UN experts denounce 'myth' pesticides are necessary to feed the world | Environment | The Guardian
The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts.
new report, being presented to the UN human rights council on Wednesday, is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.
The report says pesticides have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”, including an estimated 200,000 deaths a year from acute poisoning. Its authors said: “It is time to create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production.”
The world’s population is set to grow from 7 billion today to 9 billion in 2050. The pesticide industry argues that its products – a market worth about $50bn (£41bn) a year and growing – are vital in protecting crops and ensuring sufficient food supplies.
“It is a myth,” said Hilal Elver, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food. “Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed 9 billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution.”
Elver said many of the pesticides are used on commodity crops, such as palm oil and soy, not the food needed by the world’s hungry people: “The corporations are not dealing with world hunger, they are dealing with more agricultural activity on large scales.”

Monday

NCSE and the March for Science | April 22, DC

NCSE and the March for Science | NCSE
NCSE is among the scientific, academic, and educational institutions endorsing the March for Science that will take place in Washington DC on April 22, 2017, with satellite marches planned in almost three hundred communities across the world. The goal of the march is to celebrate science and its crucial role in protecting the health of our communities, the safety of our families, the education of our children and the foundation of our economy and jobs. 
As NCSE's executive director Ann Reid explained in a March 6, 2017, blog post, "we believe that the marches will be a powerful and positive reminder that there is something that virtually everyone agrees on: the value and importance of science. ... While it is certainly true that Americans seem to be intractably divided over more issues than ever before, support for science is something that all of us share, and can continue to share."
Among the partners with the March for Science besides NCSE are the American Anthropological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union,  the American Society for Cell Biology,the Entomological Society of America, Research America, Science Debate, Sigma Xi, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Friday

Stop your pension from building pipelines!

Stop your pension from building pipelines!
Last week Reuters revealed that U.S.-based pipeline company Kinder Morgan is approaching Canadian funders to raise money to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day. This would also quadruple the number of supertankers to more than 400 in B.C’s Burrard Inlet each year. One funder Kinder Morgan has approached is the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).

If you work or have worked in Canada, you are a contributor to the Canada Pension Plan. You have a say in whether or not your pension funds are used to pay for risky pipeline projects that fuel climate change and endanger coastal waters.

This pipeline would be:
A risky investment. Globally, as the world transitions to a clean energy economy, investing in fossil fuel-based companies like Kinder Morgan becomes a liability. Oil giants Exxon and ConocoPhilips recently announced they are leaving a combined 4.7 billion barrels of tar sands reserves in the ground because they aren’t profitable enough to extract. Shell and Statoil are slowly divesting their tar sands assets.

A risk  to water and the climate. The Trans Mountain pipeline crosses 1,300 waterways. A pipeline spill in any of them would have devastating impacts. Building and expanding pipelines also moves us away from our Paris climate commitments. Building Kinder Morgan would singlehandedly add an estimate 28 megatons of CO2 equivalent downstream emissions.

A violation of  Indigenous rights. At least six West Coast Indigenous communities are suing the federal government because the Trans Mountain pipeline would threaten their livelihoods.

Even though the Trudeau government recently approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, many obstacles still remain, including Kinder Morgan’s need to secure investors for the $6.8 billion project.

Take  action! Tell the CPPIB you don’t want your pension fund invested in the Trans  Mountain pipeline.

Trump repeals Stream Protection Rule in the US, what's ahead for water protection in Canada? | The Council of Canadians

Trump repeals Stream Protection Rule in the US, what's ahead for water protection in Canada? | The Council of Canadians
President Donald Trump has now signed an order that repeals the Stream Protection Rule in the United States.
The rule had been intended to protect almost 10,000 kilometres of streams and 52,000 acres of forests in the US. It would have prohibited surface mining within 30 metres of streams. Bloomberg notes, "It was meant to stop the practice of dumping mining waste in streams and valleys during mountaintop mining."
In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Trout Unlimited president Chris Wood writes, "Over the past 20 years, mining operations have buried or degraded nearly 3,200 kilometres of streams in Appalachia. It goes without saying that cutting the tops off mountains and dumping them in streams is bad for fishing. It is also bad for anyone who cares about clean water."
Bloomberg notes, "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has led the opposition to the rule, calling it 'an attack against coal miners'. Others against it included the United Mine Workers of America and the National Mining Association, a Washington-based trade group representing companies such as Arch Coal Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp."
Trump stated, "In eliminating this rule I am continuing to keep my promise to the American people to get rid of wasteful regulations."
When Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met in Washington earlier this week, they signed a Joint Statement that pledged, "We will continue our dialogue on regulatory issues and pursue shared regulatory outcomes that are business-friendly, reduce costs, and increase economic efficiency without compromising health, safety, and environmental standards."
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) has already expressed concern about "any potential competitiveness imbalances" between Canada and the US. CAPP vice-president Ben Brunnen says, "We're keenly aware of the importance of a level playing field where investment can flow over the border quite freely."
And just days after Trudeau and Trump met in the White House, the Mining Association of Canada released a report citing regulatory delays and uncertainty as reasons mining investments could move outside the country.
The Council of Canadians has been calling on the prime ministert to restore and enhance the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act, critical elements of water protection that had been gutted by the Harper government.
For example, the Fisheries Act allows the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to authorize deposits of deleterious substances into waterways if the “whole of the deposit is not acutely lethal to fish". The regulation defines “acutely lethal” as a deposit that kills more than 50 per cent of fish at 100 per cent concentration over a 96 hour period.
Despite their election campaign promise to restore and enhance this legislation, no substantive action has taken place in this regard.
We should all be concerned that Trudeau's pledge of regulatory cooperation with Trump along with corporate pressure within Canada will mean that lakes and rivers in Canada will continue to be under threat from abuse and pollution.