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.

Sunday

CBC Tandem must be cancelled

https://friends.ca/campaigns/tandem-must-be-cancelled/

The CBC's credibility is not for sale!
A few months ago, the CBC announced the launch of Tandem, its new branded content initiative. "Branded content" is a euphemism for secret advertising: articles, podcasts, and other programming that look and feel like CBC content but are actually bought and paid-for by private companies.

Tandem will hinder Canadians' trust in our public broadcaster. We have to stop it.

Now more than ever, we need a trustworthy, dependable CBC to bring us news and entertainment that serve our interest – that is, the public interest. Big Tech platforms like Facebook sell us out to advertisers all day every day. The CBC should be a citizens' oasis from such predatory commercialization. Tandem puts that oasis at risk.

We know times are tough. The pandemic has hit the CBC hard, and government support for our public broadcaster is woefully insufficient. But sponsored content is not an acceptable answer to the CBC's problems. We can't save the CBC by killing its soul.

Please join us and hundreds of current and past CBC employees by telling the CBC's Board to drop Tandem now. Sign our letter.

Saturday

Retain the Current Mandate of the Province’s 36 Conservation Authorities | Conservation Authorities Under Fire

Retain the Current Mandate of the Province’s 36 Conservation Authorities | Conservation Authorities Under Fire:
On November 5th, the Government of Ontario revealed its plans to severely curtail the role of Conservation Authorities in watershed planning and management. Schedule 6 of omnibus Budget Bill 229 proposes numerous changes to the Conservation Authorities Act (CAA) that will undermine efforts to conserve biodiversity and build community resilience to climate change.
 The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) has prepared a preliminary analysis of Schedule 6, outlining the proposed changes and their implications. Among the key concerns identified are: Narrowing of the scope and powers of Conservation Authorities, impeding the achievement of the overall purpose of the CAA, which is to “provide for the organization and delivery of programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario;”
Restricting the duties of Conservation Authorities’ members so that they no longer must act to further the watershed-based mandates of the Conservation Authorities, but rather can act only on behalf of the narrower interests of their respective municipalities; Reducing the ability of Conservation Authorities to act as independent public bodies in land use planning, including removing their ability to seek to appeal municipal planning decisions; Introducing new rights for developers to force fast-tracking of development approvals and to appeal decisions they do not like, without providing the same opportunity to citizens who may wish to challenge decisions that damage the environment; and Giving the Minister new power to overturn a conservation authority’s decision to refuse to issue a permit for development.
Alarmingly, the proposed changes were introduced as part of a budget bill, which means that the public’s right to comment under the Environmental Bill of Rights is over-ridden, as explained in the Environmental Registry of Ontario notice (ERO # 019-2646). Ontario’s Conservation Authorities are a unique and widely respected innovation.
 The vital role of our Conservation Authorities in watershed-based land use planning and permitting must be retained to prevent unchecked development that puts communities at risk from flooding and other climate change impacts through loss of wetlands, woodlands and farmland. Please join Ontario Nature in asking the government to withdraw Schedule 6 in its entirety from Bill 229.

Tuesday

ONTARIO: Demand greater public accountability and enhanced community resilience to climate change | Steamrolling the way for development, behind closed doors

Demand greater public accountability and enhanced community resilience to climate change | Steamrolling the way for development, behind closed doors: While Ontarians grapple with the social and economic impacts of a global pandemic, the Government of Ontario is quietly setting the stage for development projects to proceed without public consultation or the right to appeal. Without alerting the public through notices on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO), the government has been issuing and revoking Minister’s Zoning Orders – effectively eliminating public participation in each planning decision.

Letter on this page.  
Examples on website of other communities. 

Sunday

Poland to withdraw from EU treaty on Violence Against Women

Poland will take steps next week to withdraw from a European treaty on violence against women, which the rightwing cabinet has said violates parents’ rights by requiring schools to teach children about gender.

The justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, told a news conference on Saturday his ministry would submit a request to the labour and families ministry on Monday to begin the process of withdrawing from the treaty, known as the Istanbul convention.
“It contains elements of an ideological nature, which we consider harmful,” Ziobro said.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) and its coalition partners closely align themselves with the Catholic church and promote a conservative social agenda. Hostility to gay rights was one of the main issues promoted by President Andrzej Duda during a successful re-election campaign this month.
On Friday, thousands of people, mostly women, protested in Warsaw and other cities against proposals to reject the treaty.
“The aim is to legalise domestic violence,” Marta Lempart, one of the protest organisers, said on Friday at a march in Warsaw. Some protesters carried banners saying “PiS is the women’s hell“.

Thursday

Government Runs Roughshod Over Environmental Protection and Democracy | Ontario Nature

Government Runs Roughshod Over Environmental Protection and Democracy | Ontario Nature: Queen’s Park, Ontario, July 22, 2020 – Yesterday the Government of Ontario passed Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, a law that reflects neither the values nor the long-term interests of Ontarians who understand the importance of a healthy environment and democratic process.

While Ontarians grapple with the social and economic shocks of a global pandemic, the Government of Ontario fast-tracked omnibus Bill 197 through the Legislature, amending 20 pieces of legislation and allotting only the bare minimum of time required for debate. With scornful disregard, the government ignored its legal obligation, under the Environmental Bill of Rights, to provide at least a 30-day public consultation on changes to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act (EAA), one of our oldest and most important environmental laws.

 Bill 197 holds true to an insidious pattern of environmental deregulation set, for example, by three other omnibus bills that the government has passed since it came into power two years ago. While Bill 197 takes a hammer to the EAA, previous bills gutted the Endangered Species Act, repealed the Toxic Reductions Act and weakened environmental protections under the Pesticides Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Aggregate Resources Act. Like the other omnibus bills, the promising title of Bill 197 poorly conveys the actual content of the bill and hides its negative environmental, social and economic implications. These changes will negatively impact the health and prosperity of our communities and the environment for years to come.

Ontario Humanist Society Supports Racial Justice - Ontario Humanist Society

Ontario Humanist Society Supports Racial Justice - Ontario Humanist Society: The Ontario Humanist Society stands in solidarity with the Black community. There is no room for hatred or bigotry in our lives. We have an ethical duty to one another, as fellow human beings, and as members of our communities, to combat racism and discrimination in all forms. Every individual should hold themselves accountable for their personal past. Each of us is responsible for our actions moving forward.
 We ask OHS members and fellow Humanists to work with, but more importantly, listen to the Black community.  By hearing and supporting the Black community, we can help to fight racial hatred, discrimination, and injustice, with meaningful action towards making the world a better place.
 Change does not happen unless we all make it happen together.   Sev Derghazarian President, Ontario Humanist Society

Ontario Humanist Society Opposes Illegal Annexation of the Palestinian West Bank - Ontario Humanist Society

Ontario Humanist Society Opposes Illegal Annexation of the Palestinian West Bank -
The Ontario Humanist Society strongly opposes Israel’s plan to illegally annex West Bank lands as part of agreement signed by the new coalition government. Annexing Palestinian land under occupation violates the Charter of the United Nations and the principle established by the UN Security Council that “the acquisition of territory by war or force is inadmissible.” Further annexation of occupied lands by Israel woul be the opposite of achieving peace and bringing justice to Palestinians and Israelis.
Palestinians deserve to live in peace, without fear that their homes and lands will be demolished or confiscated for the benefit of a different ethnic group. As a secular and rationally-minded group concerned with universal human rights, the Ontario Humanist Society opposes the idea that one religious group or ethnicity should have elevated rights & privileges over another. Instead, the OHS believes that all people should live together with equal human rights and have tolerance for all cultural and religious differences. The Ontario Humanist Society is strongly opposed to apartheid and ethnic cleansing anywhere.
For further information, please see this statement released recently at the United Nations: https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25960&LangID=E

Friday

Nestlé Waters leaving Canada is a community success | The Council of Canadians

Nestlé Waters leaving Canada is a community success | The Council of Canadians: This afternoon, Nestlé Canada Inc. announced it will leave the Canadian bottled water market and sell its bottled water brand, Nestlé Pure Life, to Ice River Springs.

This is a significant win for communities across Canada, and everyone who has been fighting the bottled water giant. “Community groups, First Nations, residents across the country and Council of Canadian supporters have persistently challenged Nestlé’s water takings in Wellington County, Ontario and Hope, British Columbia.

This is their victory against the multi-national giant,” says Vi Bui, water campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

The Council of Canadians’ supporters and chapters joined with community groups on the ground to mobilize opposition and deny Nestlé’s many attempts to expand its operations, push for a moratorium on water taking permits, and boycott Nestlé products. Today’s announcement follows a decline in the volume of water Nestlé extracts and bottles, thanks to the groundswell of community opposition, public education and our national Boycott Nestlé campaign.
We know that Nestlé’s departure will not end water takings in Canada, and our work continues to oppose any commodification of water for profit, whether by a multi-national corporation or a Canadian-owned one.

Thursday

Amnesty: Corporate Human Rights abuses in Canada's MIning Industry

ACTION: Amnesty Link
Canadian companies operate mining, energy and hydro-electric projects across Canada and in over 100 countries around the world. Many of these projects have been associated with serious human rights and environmental abuses, prompting the Canadian government to establish voluntary initiatives to encourage companies to respect human rights. However, Canada’s active promotion of oil, gas, mining and hydro projects coupled with an alarming lack of corporate respect for human rights has led to wide-spread impunity for corporate human rights abuses.   
During the global COVID19 pandemic, this is especially concerning. Many countries – including Canada – have declared mining, energy and construction as essential services, allowing companies to continue operating.  Communities are concerned that their governments are not taking the additional risks to workers and communities seriously enough.  
While some companies are taking appropriate measures, inadequate sanitation, physical distancing, and sleeping arrangements in work camps and on job sites are frequently reported by workers. As of June 1, available data shows infection transmission at nearly two-dozen Canadian operated mine sites in Canada and the Americas alone, resulting in hundreds of sick workers and community transmission of the virus.  
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where much of the world’s copper and cobalt are mined, workers have been pressured to accept shifts of up to two months or risk losing their jobs. They can’t leave the site to be with their families and are forced to sleep in dorms with other workers, are not provided with adequate handwashing facilities, food, or water, and receive very little extra pay – only $2 per day. In Guatemala, community members have accused a Canadian mining company of taking advantage of the health and economic crisis to garner support by handing out food and other aid in exchange for people’s names and ID numbers. They say this will lead to more tension between community members once pandemic response measures are lifted.  
The situation for human rights and earth defenders, especially those who oppose resource exploitation, is dire: their freedom of mobility has been severely curtailed by lockdown measures, putting them at ever greater risk of harm by those who wish to silence them. In Colombia alone, more than 28 human rights defenders have been murdered since March, including people killed in their homes while they complied with quarantine measures. Colombia continues to be one of the most dangerous places on earth to undertake this work.   
CALL ON THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA TO PROTECT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF WORKERS, AND COMMUNITIES AT CANADIAN-OPERATED RESOURCE EXTRACTION PROJECTS AND TO DEDICATE RESOURCES TO ADDRESS THE INCREASED RISKS FACED BY EARTH DEFENDERS DURING THE PANDEMIC.

Friday

Rescind Margaret Wente's Massey College Appointment

Rescind Margaret Wente's Massey College Appointment:

We — the undersigned students, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors of the University of Toronto — call on Massey College to immediately rescind their appointment of Margaret Wente as a Senior Fellow and Member of the Quadrangle Society.

 In her career as a journalist, Margaret Wente published racist pseudoscience and was repeatedly investigated for plagiarism(1).

We believe this disqualifies Margaret Wente from serving in a group of “people who demonstrate the ethical pursuit of the public good that we want to model for our Junior Fellowship”(2).

 Dr. Rinaldo Walcott and Dr. Minelle Mahtani said in a 2014 article that “journalists like […] Wente are committed to telling stories about race where a cast of stereotypes of the worst kind is rolled out, masquerading as insightful queries.”(3) speaking about her article promoting the claims of Nicholas Wade, a heavily criticized pseudo-scientist.(4)

 In the same week where Massey College made a public commitment to addressing Anti-Black racism and held a talk on Anti-Black racism, we feel it is greatly disappointing that Governing Board did not back up these words with their actions. BIPOC Fellows, academics, and staff deserve to feel safe at Massey College.

Allowing Margaret Wente’s appointment to stand will make the College a less safe place for them. We stand in solidarity with the Fellows and academics who have already spoken out.

Black lives matter | The Council of Canadians

Black lives matter | The Council of Canadians:

I endorse this statement.  Mary Beaty, editor, Ethical Action.

BLACK LIVES MATTER Statement Wednesday, June 3, 2020 - 16:00 The Council of Canadians are in solidarity with our Black members and supporters, and all Black leaders and individuals working for an end to police brutality and killings in their communities. We recognize the existence of systemic racism in our society and we are committed to eradicating it. We believe in the power of protest, and condemn the use of force against protests across the U.S. and Canada. Anti-Black racism, like anti-Indigenous racism, stems directly from the history of Canadian colonization. We must work together to dismantle systems that sustain discrimination in Canada and build something new in their place. We encourage Council supporters to learn about organizations led by people of colour in Canada who are doing anti-racism work.   We must also ensure that all people in Canada have access to the necessary resources for getting through the COVID-19 pandemic in a healthy way. In Toronto, early data indicates that the neighbourhoods most deeply impacted by COVID-19 are more likely to be low-income, and home to a higher percentage of newcomers and racialized people.

The Council of Canadians is committed to addressing the inequality that means Black communities continue to face death and sickness at higher rates than others. We encourage all Council supporters to take action today to fight against racism and anti-Black violence. Follow Black leaders, as well as Indigenous leaders and other people of colour, on social media, read their writing, and if you are able, please support Black and Indigenous-led groups with a financial donation.

Sunday

On day against homophobia, UN officials urge respect for sexual and gender diversity | | UN News

On day against homophobia, UN officials urge respect for sexual and gender diversity | | UN News:

Marking the international day against homophobia, senior United Nations officials today called for respect for sexual and gender diversity and urged the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people from discrimination and harm.

 “Today, I am deeply concerned by the excessive trivialization of insults, sexist and homophobic remarks in the media, in everyday life, on social networks, even from political leaders,” said UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova in her message for the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), commemorated annually on 17 May.

 She recalled the situation of homosexuals under the Nazi regime, interned in "re-education" camps, and killed. The UN was created to prevent such crimes from happening again, she stressed, noting that UNESCO is committed to protecting the rights of homosexual and transgender people by drawing across its mandate to advance education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. “These are powerful tools to fight the prejudice, verbal violence and stigmatization that foreshadow physical violence and that violate the equality and inherent dignity of all. This work for reason and tolerance begins on the benches of school,” she said.

 Research by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found that workplace policies, often designed from a hetero-normative perspective, may fall short of addressing the issues and concerns of LGBTI workers. For example, LGBTI workers may be excluded from leave and benefit entitlements, such as parental leave, because their families do not fit traditional norms.

 “In keeping with the principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, no LGBTI worker should be left behind. Today let us stand in solidarity for the rights of LGBTI workers and their families,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. Gender identity and sexual orientation can have an impact on a migrant's journey, unfortunately often in a negative and even dangerous way, warns the International Organization for Migration (IOM).