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.

Tuesday

Quebec's top court rules assisted dying law can go ahead -

Quebec's top court rules assisted dying law can go ahead - Montreal - CBC News
Quebec's Court of Appeal has maintained the province's right to allow terminally ill patients the choice to die with medical help, the first law of its kind in Canada.

This morning, a three-judge Court of Appeal panel overturned a Dec. 1 Quebec Superior Court judgment aimed at suspending implementation of the province's law, Bill 52, until certain provisions of the Criminal Code were changed.

In the ruling, the Court of Appeal said the Quebec law doesn't contravene sections of the Criminal Code related to assisted dying because they were struck down by Canada's Supreme Court last February.

It said the provincial legislation fills a judicial void by allowing patients to exercise their rights granted to them by Canada's top court.

Monday

'Landslide Victory' for Ogoni Farmers as Court Rules Against Shell

'Landslide Victory' for Ogoni Farmers as Court Rules Against Shell

In a potentially precedent-setting ruling, a Dutch court said Friday that Royal Dutch Shell may be held liable for oil spills at its subsidiary in Nigeria—a win for farmers and environmentalists attempting to hold the oil giant accountable for leaks, spills, and widespread pollution.

The ruling by the Court of Appeals in the Hague, which overturns a 2013 decision in favor of Shell, allows four Ogoni farmers from the Niger Delta to jointly sue the fossil fuels corporation in the Netherlands for causing extensive oil spills in Nigeria.

The scars of those disasters are still visible in the fields and fishing ponds of three Nigerian villages. In one village, drinking water has been rendered non-potable, while in another, an entire mangrove forest has been destroyed.

Alali Efanga, one of the Ogoni farmers who, along with Friends of the Earth Netherlands, brought the case against Shell, said the ruling "offers hope that Shell will finally begin to restore the soil around my village so that I will once again be able to take up farming and fishing on my own land."

Beyond that, the court's decision "is a landslide victory for environmentalists and these four brave Nigerian farmers who, for more than seven years, have had the courage to take on one of the most powerful companies in the world," said Geert Ritsema, campaigner at Friends of the Earth Netherlands. "This ruling is a ray of hope for other victims of environmental degradation, human rights violations, and other misconduct by large corporations."

Indeed, as Amnesty International researcher Mark Dummett said in advance of the ruling: "This case is especially important as it could pave the way for further cases from other communities devastated by Shell's negligence."

"There have been thousands of spills from Shell’s pipelines since the company started pumping oil in the Niger Delta in 1958," Dummett said, "with devastating consequences for the people living there."

Decrying the "incredible levels of pollution" caused by the activities of Shell and its subsidiaries, environmentalists Vandana Shiva and Nnimmo Bassey said at a media briefing in July that "weekends in Ogoniland are marked by carnivals of funerals of people in their 20s and 30s."

Citing a 2011 United Nations Environmental Programme assessment, they noted that in over 40 locations tested in Ogoniland, the soil is polluted with hydrocarbons up to a depth of 5 meters and that all the water bodies in the region are polluted.

The UN report, they said, also found that in some places the water was polluted with benzene, a known carcinogen, at levels 900 above World Health Organization standards. "With life expectancy standing at about 41 years, the clean up of Ogoniland is projected to require a cumulative 30 years to clean both the land and water," they said.

Tuesday

COC endorses Truth and Reconciliation Recommendations, report released Dec 15.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will release its final report today.
Some of the key recommendations listed in their interim report released this past June include:
  • reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care by ... providing adequate resources to enable Aboriginal communities and child-welfare organizations to keep Aboriginal families together where it is safe to do so
  • developing with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians
  • acknowledging that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools
  • eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody over the next decade, and to issue detailed annual reports that monitor and evaluate progress in doing so
  • appointing a public inquiry into the causes of, and remedies for, the disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls.
  • developing a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The Council of Canadians endorsed all 94 recommendations and called on the Canadian government to implement them.

Friday

Help Sort Clothing for Syrian Refugees, Nov 29, 29

Help Sort the Mountain of Clothing for Syrian Refugees

There is now a FB EVENT for each day at this link:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/theclothingdrive/events/

Please go there, choose your day (or days) that you can come and comment in that event the hours you would be able to come. This will help us keep it all organized! Also, you will find the address at that link and be able to ask any questions there. Your contribution is so valuable! *****

PLEASE SHARE: THE CLOTHING DRIVE NEWS
The donations poured in and now we need to SORT and get them moved out of our temporary space. It really is a mountain (which is wonderful) and the next steps are crucial to making sure they get to people in need. Whether you can do a few hours or a few days, we need you!

Please sign up in the Facebook event listing for the dates that work for you. https://www.facebook.com/groups/theclothingdrive/events/

Monday

Joint statement on World Peace Day - CFSC

Joint statement on World Peace Day - Canadian Friends Service Committee Service

Facing the Challenge of Peace: A shared statement by peacebuilding organizations



On this day, the International Day of Peace, we, a group of
peacebuilding organizations from around the world, bring you this
message.



The 70th anniversary of the United Nations brings an unprecedented
number of major negotiations, reviews and processes that together will
frame the work of multilateralism for the next decade and beyond. Next
week, the world’s leaders will sign on to the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development, which has identified peaceful, just and
inclusive societies as one of five cross-cutting priorities for the
international community, and there will be high-level discussions on
terrorism, UN peace operations and peacebuilding.



Violence is a fundamental dimension of human suffering, just as are
poverty and oppression. Violence darkens lives and destroys hope across
the world, from remote villages to famous cities, from the poorest
countries to the richest. We cannot hope to eliminate extreme poverty,
the central aim of the 2030 Agenda, without addressing violence.



Furthermore, we cannot expect to unravel the challenges of today’s
world, from terrorism and displacement, transnational crime and repeated
cycles of civil war, oppression and state violence without digging
deeper. We must address the roots of violent conflict and instability in
economic and political exclusion; injustice, gender and other forms of
inequality; insecurity and institutional weakness; and consider changing
an international system that does too little to raise up the voices,
needs and aspirations of the many, rather than the interests of the few.
That many of these issues are upheld in the 2030 Agenda is a heartening
development but more needs to be done.

Peace means healthy, more stable lives for our children.
Peace means healthy, more stable lives for our children.
If we accept the premise that the keystone of the UN’s work, across
development, humanitarian action and peace and security, needs to be to
foster the growth of peaceful, just and inclusive societies, then what
changes need to take place – what do we need to do differently?



An initial step would be to use a preventive lens for all development,
humanitarian, security and indeed business initiatives, both at the UN
and beyond. Leveraged effectively, the 2030 Agenda could help outline a
shared approach to addressing and preventing violence at root. The
following principles will be vital for the international community to
adopt:


  • Embrace the universality of the 2030 Agenda: all
    societies must work towards becoming more peaceful, just and inclusive.
    Our task is not complete until all human beings, wherever they may live,
    can fulfil their potential in peace.

  • Always seek to understand the context: an effective and
    inclusive analysis, involving a variety of local perspectives, including
    youth and women, should be a prerequisite for any external engagement.

  • In the planning and implementation of development, humanitarian, economic or security engagement, always seek to do no harm,
    to ensure that unintentionally or otherwise, the consequences of that
    engagement do not themselves make things worse, for example by affirming
    existing or new patterns of political or economic exclusion.

  • Focus on increasing resilience, particularly emphasizing
    the relationship between individuals, their communities and their
    government. This requires attention to reconciliation and to societies’
    capacity to build dialogue, make inclusive and collaborative decisions,
    and resolve conflicts peacefully.

  • Prioritize local needs, the longer term support for
    peaceful, just and inclusive communities, over external self-interested
    agendas, particularly short-term security or stabilization objectives.
- See more at: http://quakerservice.ca/uncategorized/joint-statement-on-world-peace-day/#sthash.KiGDX450.bEeV8fE3.dpu
Facing the Challenge of Peace: A shared statement by peacebuilding organizations

On this day, the International Day of Peace, we, a group of peacebuilding organizations from around the world, bring you this message.

The 70th anniversary of the United Nations brings an unprecedented number of major negotiations, reviews and processes that together will frame the work of multilateralism for the next decade and beyond. Next week, the world’s leaders will sign on to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has identified peaceful, just and inclusive societies as one of five cross-cutting priorities for the international community, and there will be high-level discussions on terrorism, UN peace operations and peacebuilding.

Violence is a fundamental dimension of human suffering, just as are poverty and oppression. Violence darkens lives and destroys hope across the world, from remote villages to famous cities, from the poorest countries to the richest. We cannot hope to eliminate extreme poverty, the central aim of the 2030 Agenda, without addressing violence.

Furthermore, we cannot expect to unravel the challenges of today’s world, from terrorism and displacement, transnational crime and repeated cycles of civil war, oppression and state violence without digging deeper. We must address the roots of violent conflict and instability in economic and political exclusion; injustice, gender and other forms of inequality; insecurity and institutional weakness; and consider changing an international system that does too little to raise up the voices, needs and aspirations of the many, rather than the interests of the few. That many of these issues are upheld in the 2030 Agenda is a heartening development but more needs to be done.
Peace means healthy, more stable lives for our children. If we accept the premise that the keystone of the UN’s work, across development, humanitarian action and peace and security, needs to be to foster the growth of peaceful, just and inclusive societies, then what changes need to take place – what do we need to do differently?

An initial step would be to use a preventive lens for all development, humanitarian, security and indeed business initiatives, both at the UN and beyond. Leveraged effectively, the 2030 Agenda could help outline a shared approach to addressing and preventing violence at root. The following principles will be vital for the international community to adopt:
  • Embrace the universality of the 2030 Agenda: all societies must work towards becoming more peaceful, just and inclusive. Our task is not complete until all human beings, wherever they may live, can fulfil their potential in peace
  • Always seek to understand the context: an effective and inclusive analysis, involving a variety of local perspectives, including youth and women, should be a prerequisite for any external engagement.
  • In the planning and implementation of development, humanitarian, economic or security engagement, always seek to do no harm, to ensure that unintentionally or otherwise, the consequences of that engagement do not themselves make things worse, for example by affirming existing or new patterns of political or economic exclusion.
  • Focus on increasing resilience, particularly emphasizing the relationship between individuals, their communities and their government. This requires attention to reconciliation and to societies’ capacity to build dialogue, make inclusive and collaborative decisions, and resolve conflicts peacefully.
  • Prioritize local needs, the longer term support for peaceful, just and inclusive communities, over external self-interested agendas, particularly short-term security or stabilization objectives.
- See more at:
http://quakerservice.ca/uncategorized/joint-statement-on-world-peace-day/#sthash.KiGDX450.bEeV8fE3.dpuf

Facing the Challenge of Peace: A shared statement by peacebuilding organizations



On this day, the International Day of Peace, we, a group of
peacebuilding organizations from around the world, bring you this
message.



The 70th anniversary of the United Nations brings an unprecedented
number of major negotiations, reviews and processes that together will
frame the work of multilateralism for the next decade and beyond. Next
week, the world’s leaders will sign on to the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development, which has identified peaceful, just and
inclusive societies as one of five cross-cutting priorities for the
international community, and there will be high-level discussions on
terrorism, UN peace operations and peacebuilding.



Violence is a fundamental dimension of human suffering, just as are
poverty and oppression. Violence darkens lives and destroys hope across
the world, from remote villages to famous cities, from the poorest
countries to the richest. We cannot hope to eliminate extreme poverty,
the central aim of the 2030 Agenda, without addressing violence.



Furthermore, we cannot expect to unravel the challenges of today’s
world, from terrorism and displacement, transnational crime and repeated
cycles of civil war, oppression and state violence without digging
deeper. We must address the roots of violent conflict and instability in
economic and political exclusion; injustice, gender and other forms of
inequality; insecurity and institutional weakness; and consider changing
an international system that does too little to raise up the voices,
needs and aspirations of the many, rather than the interests of the few.
That many of these issues are upheld in the 2030 Agenda is a heartening
development but more needs to be done.

Peace means healthy, more stable lives for our children.
Peace means healthy, more stable lives for our children.
If we accept the premise that the keystone of the UN’s work, across
development, humanitarian action and peace and security, needs to be to
foster the growth of peaceful, just and inclusive societies, then what
changes need to take place – what do we need to do differently?



An initial step would be to use a preventive lens for all development,
humanitarian, security and indeed business initiatives, both at the UN
and beyond. Leveraged effectively, the 2030 Agenda could help outline a
shared approach to addressing and preventing violence at root. The
following principles will be vital for the international community to
adopt:


  • Embrace the universality of the 2030 Agenda: all
    societies must work towards becoming more peaceful, just and inclusive.
    Our task is not complete until all human beings, wherever they may live,
    can fulfil their potential in peace.

  • Always seek to understand the context: an effective and
    inclusive analysis, involving a variety of local perspectives, including
    youth and women, should be a prerequisite for any external engagement.

  • In the planning and implementation of development, humanitarian, economic or security engagement, always seek to do no harm,
    to ensure that unintentionally or otherwise, the consequences of that
    engagement do not themselves make things worse, for example by affirming
    existing or new patterns of political or economic exclusion.

  • Focus on increasing resilience, particularly emphasizing
    the relationship between individuals, their communities and their
    government. This requires attention to reconciliation and to societies’
    capacity to build dialogue, make inclusive and collaborative decisions,
    and resolve conflicts peacefully.

  • Prioritize local needs, the longer term support for
    peaceful, just and inclusive communities, over external self-interested
    agendas, particularly short-term security or stabilization objectives.
- See more at: http://quakerservice.ca/uncategorized/joint-statement-on-world-peace-day/#sthash.KiGDX450.bEeV8fE3.dpuf

Facing the Challenge of Peace: A shared statement by peacebuilding organizations



On this day, the International Day of Peace, we, a group of
peacebuilding organizations from around the world, bring you this
message.



The 70th anniversary of the United Nations brings an unprecedented
number of major negotiations, reviews and processes that together will
frame the work of multilateralism for the next decade and beyond. Next
week, the world’s leaders will sign on to the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development, which has identified peaceful, just and
inclusive societies as one of five cross-cutting priorities for the
international community, and there will be high-level discussions on
terrorism, UN peace operations and peacebuilding.



Violence is a fundamental dimension of human suffering, just as are
poverty and oppression. Violence darkens lives and destroys hope across
the world, from remote villages to famous cities, from the poorest
countries to the richest. We cannot hope to eliminate extreme poverty,
the central aim of the 2030 Agenda, without addressing violence.



Furthermore, we cannot expect to unravel the challenges of today’s
world, from terrorism and displacement, transnational crime and repeated
cycles of civil war, oppression and state violence without digging
deeper. We must address the roots of violent conflict and instability in
economic and political exclusion; injustice, gender and other forms of
inequality; insecurity and institutional weakness; and consider changing
an international system that does too little to raise up the voices,
needs and aspirations of the many, rather than the interests of the few.
That many of these issues are upheld in the 2030 Agenda is a heartening
development but more needs to be done.

Peace means healthy, more stable lives for our children.
Peace means healthy, more stable lives for our children.
If we accept the premise that the keystone of the UN’s work, across
development, humanitarian action and peace and security, needs to be to
foster the growth of peaceful, just and inclusive societies, then what
changes need to take place – what do we need to do differently?



An initial step would be to use a preventive lens for all development,
humanitarian, security and indeed business initiatives, both at the UN
and beyond. Leveraged effectively, the 2030 Agenda could help outline a
shared approach to addressing and preventing violence at root. The
following principles will be vital for the international community to
adopt:


  • Embrace the universality of the 2030 Agenda: all
    societies must work towards becoming more peaceful, just and inclusive.
    Our task is not complete until all human beings, wherever they may live,
    can fulfil their potential in peace.

  • Always seek to understand the context: an effective and
    inclusive analysis, involving a variety of local perspectives, including
    youth and women, should be a prerequisite for any external engagement.

  • In the planning and implementation of development, humanitarian, economic or security engagement, always seek to do no harm,
    to ensure that unintentionally or otherwise, the consequences of that
    engagement do not themselves make things worse, for example by affirming
    existing or new patterns of political or economic exclusion.

  • Focus on increasing resilience, particularly emphasizing
    the relationship between individuals, their communities and their
    government. This requires attention to reconciliation and to societies’
    capacity to build dialogue, make inclusive and collaborative decisions,
    and resolve conflicts peacefully.

  • Prioritize local needs, the longer term support for
    peaceful, just and inclusive communities, over external self-interested
    agendas, particularly short-term security or stabilization objectives.
- See more at: http://quakerservice.ca/uncategorized/joint-statement-on-world-peace-day/#sthash.KiGDX450.bEeV8fE3.dpuf

Facing the Challenge of Peace: A shared statement by peacebuilding organizations



On this day, the International Day of Peace, we, a group of
peacebuilding organizations from around the world, bring you this
message.



The 70th anniversary of the United Nations brings an unprecedented
number of major negotiations, reviews and processes that together will
frame the work of multilateralism for the next decade and beyond. Next
week, the world’s leaders will sign on to the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development, which has identified peaceful, just and
inclusive societies as one of five cross-cutting priorities for the
international community, and there will be high-level discussions on
terrorism, UN peace operations and peacebuilding.



Violence is a fundamental dimension of human suffering, just as are
poverty and oppression. Violence darkens lives and destroys hope across
the world, from remote villages to famous cities, from the poorest
countries to the richest. We cannot hope to eliminate extreme poverty,
the central aim of the 2030 Agenda, without addressing violence.



Furthermore, we cannot expect to unravel the challenges of today’s
world, from terrorism and displacement, transnational crime and repeated
cycles of civil war, oppression and state violence without digging
deeper. We must address the roots of violent conflict and instability in
economic and political exclusion; injustice, gender and other forms of
inequality; insecurity and institutional weakness; and consider changing
an international system that does too little to raise up the voices,
needs and aspirations of the many, rather than the interests of the few.
That many of these issues are upheld in the 2030 Agenda is a heartening
development but more needs to be done.

Peace means healthy, more stable lives for our children.
Peace means healthy, more stable lives for our children.
If we accept the premise that the keystone of the UN’s work, across
development, humanitarian action and peace and security, needs to be to
foster the growth of peaceful, just and inclusive societies, then what
changes need to take place – what do we need to do differently?



An initial step would be to use a preventive lens for all development,
humanitarian, security and indeed business initiatives, both at the UN
and beyond. Leveraged effectively, the 2030 Agenda could help outline a
shared approach to addressing and preventing violence at root. The
following principles will be vital for the international community to
adopt:


  • Embrace the universality of the 2030 Agenda: all
    societies must work towards becoming more peaceful, just and inclusive.
    Our task is not complete until all human beings, wherever they may live,
    can fulfil their potential in peace.

  • Always seek to understand the context: an effective and
    inclusive analysis, involving a variety of local perspectives, including
    youth and women, should be a prerequisite for any external engagement.

  • In the planning and implementation of development, humanitarian, economic or security engagement, always seek to do no harm,
    to ensure that unintentionally or otherwise, the consequences of that
    engagement do not themselves make things worse, for example by affirming
    existing or new patterns of political or economic exclusion.

  • Focus on increasing resilience, particularly emphasizing
    the relationship between individuals, their communities and their
    government. This requires attention to reconciliation and to societies’
    capacity to build dialogue, make inclusive and collaborative decisions,
    and resolve conflicts peacefully.

  • Prioritize local needs, the longer term support for
    peaceful, just and inclusive communities, over external self-interested
    agendas, particularly short-term security or stabilization objectives.
- See more at: http://quakerservice.ca/uncategorized/joint-statement-on-world-peace-day/#sthash.KiGDX450.bEeV8fE3.dpuf

Tell Nestlé to leave our Elora well enough alone. | SumOfUs

Tell Nestlé to leave our water well enough alone. | SumOfUs

Nestlé conditionally purchased a water bottling facility in Ontario
that can draw 1,300 litres of water a minute from a well so deep it
punctures the bedrock. Residents are rightly worried -- an environmental
science professor is calling it "the stupidest, short-sighted, most criminal use of water" he's ever seen.

We already scored a major victory against Nestlé in BC this summer -- let's make sure Elora, Ontario isn't next.

Tell the Ontario Government to ban corporate water permits until the township can produce a water plan.   The residents of Elora will need this water. The town currently uses 1.7 million litres of water a day -- and Nestlé will take 1.6 million litres a day under this plan.

Wednesday

Banned pesticides pose a greater risk to bees than thought, EU experts warn | Environment | The Guardian

Three pesticides banned in Europe for their potential to damage bee populations could pose an even greater threat than was thought, according to a new assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa).

Already proscribed for seed treatments and soil applications, the Efsa analysis says that clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam also pose a ‘high risk’ to bees when sprayed on leaves.

The UK is currently facing a legal challenge to an emergency exemption it granted, allowing use of two of the substances, after protests by the National Farmers Union.

But far from supporting the British case, the advisory expert assessment will add to pressure for an extension of the ban to apply to fruit orchards after blooming, and crops gown in greenhouses, Greenpeace says.

“The commission should expand the EU-wide ban to cover all uses of neonicotinoids on all crops, and end the self-service approach to derogations. Viable non-chemical alternatives exist and the EU should encourage farmers to use them,” said the group’s agriculture policy director, Marco Contiero.

“The evidence of harm is clear,” added Paul de Zylva, senior nature campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Questions need to be asked about how these products were ever approved for use when they were not tested for their effects on different types of bees.”

Use of the prohibited substances has been linked to dramatic declines in bee populations. The EU’s recommendations allow exemptions to the ban under some circumstances, and a review of their impact is expected in Brussels by the end of the year.

José Tarazona, the head of Efsa’s pesticides unit told the Guardian that the new study backed previous risk assessments, in showing (or being unable to exclude) high risks to bees from neonicotinoids.

“It is clear that in some cases there is data suggesting high toxicity and potential risk from these substances,” he said. “We have less information for pollinators like bumblebees and for these species
we take a precautionary and conservative approach in applying an additional safety factor for ensuring their protection, and that of other species.”

More than a quarter of European bumblebees – and nearly one in 10 of all honeybees – are at risk of extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list for bees.

Banned pesticides pose a greater risk to bees than thought, EU experts warn | Environment | The Guardian

Monday

UN council holds first-ever meeting on LGBT rights

UN council holds first-ever meeting on LGBT rights

UN Security Council members on Monday opened their first-ever meeting on LGBT rights to hear Syrian and Iraqi gays tell of terror under Islamic State rule.

“It’s historic,” US Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters ahead of the meeting. “It’s about time — 70 years after the creation of the UN — that the fate of LGBT persons who fear for their lives around the world is taking center stage.”

UN envoys were to hear accounts from Adnan, an Iraqi who fled northern Iraq after being targeted as gay and from a Syrian, Subhi Nahas, who escaped persecution and now works for a refugee organization in the United States.

Since July 2014, the Islamic State group has released at least seven videos or photos online that show the brutal executions of people accused of “sodomy,” according to the International Gay and Lesbian
Rights Commission.

Jessica Stern, the director of the commission, was also to address the meeting, hosted by the delegations from the United States and Chile.

Friday

UN human rights committee slams Canada's record on women - Canada - CBC News

UN human rights committee slams Canada's record on women - Canada - CBC News

The UN human rights committee is accusing the Canadian government of failing to act on missing and murdered aboriginal women, violence against women generally, and numerous other matters, ranging from refugees to Bill C-51, the new anti-terror law.

The UN's first report card on Canada in 10 years was released Thursday, and measures whether the country has met its human rights obligations.
At least 26 human rights organizations, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Amnesty International Canada and Human Rights Watch, submitted their own separate reports to the 18-member independent committee on the various issues.

The UN human rights committee says a national inquiry should be called into the fact that 'indigenous women and girls are disproportionately affected by life-threatening forms of violence, homicides and disappearances.' (CBC) Overall, the report took exception to Canada's failure to set up a way to implement some of the committee's recommendations.

"It should take all necessary measures to establish mechanisms and appropriate procedures to give full effect to the committee's views so as to guarantee an effective remedy when there has been a violation of the covenant," the report said.

Here's a list of some of the UN committee's criticisms and recommendations:
  • Business: "Human rights abuses by Canadian  companies operating abroad, in particular mining corporations," should  be addressed by an independent authority and a framework that give  victims the possibility of legal remedies.
  • Gender equality: The committee notes "persisting  inequalities between women and men" in Canada and wants better equal pay legislation across the country," with a special focus on minority and  indigenous women."
  • Violence against women: Continued violence against women in Canada, and the "the lack of statistical data on domestic  violence," led the committee to call for better legal protections for  victims, and for more shelters and services.
  • Missing and murdered aboriginal women: In the wake of reports on murdered and missing women, the committee said "indigenous women and girls are disproportionately  affected by life-threatening forms of violence, homicides and  disappearances." It said there should be a national inquiry.
  • Bill C-51: Canada's new anti-terror law allows  mass surveillance, too much information-sharing, and a no-fly list that  lacks proper governance and appeal, the committee says. It suggests  Canada should review the act and allow for better legal safeguards.
  • Police use of force: The committee notes excessive force during protests such as those at the G20  in 2010 and recommends  prompt, impartial investigations, along with prosecutions of those  responsible where warranted
  • Refugees and immigration: The committee worries  "that individuals who are nationals of designated 'safe' countries are  denied an appeal hearing against a rejected refugee claim before the  Refugee Appeal Division and are only allowed judicial review before the  Federal Court" — increasing the risk they may be sent back.
Other recommendations cover prison conditions in Canada, freedom of expression, native land titles, the Indian Act and the condition of indigenous people generally.

It asks for a response from Canada five years from now on what improvements and implementations have been made as a result of its recommendations

Tuesday

Starbucks: adopt a sustainable palm oil policy. | SumOfUs

Starbucks: adopt a sustainable palm oil policy. | SumOfUs

Your Starbucks coffee break is likely to be contributing to  deforestation, extinction of endangered tigers and orangutans, and  abuses of workers and communities. While other industry giants such as McDonald's, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme have committed to cutting conflict palm oil from their supply chains, Starbucks is taking an ostrich-like approach -- sticking its head in the ground and ignoring this growing emergency, and the concerns of its consumers.

In 2013, facing public pressure, Starbucks announced that it would be sourcing 100% sustainable palm oil by 2015. That deadline has come and gone, and Starbucks needs to hear from us that we won't wait any longer for responsible palm oil.

Starbucks is a recent member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), but the coffee giant has already failed to report mandatory data on its palm oil sourcing to the overseeing body.

And unfortunately, even if Starbucks met RSPO criteria, it wouldn't mean it had achieved gold standards. The RSPO can't guarantee that the palm oil it certifies is deforestation-free. Deforestation is happening in palm oil plantations owned by RSPO members, and NGOs and consumer companies also criticize RSPO's inability to regulate peatland destruction and greenhouse gas emissions.

What's most remarkable about Starbucks' lack of progress on palm oil is that it's in stark contrast to the company's work on coffee. Earlier this year, Starbucks announced that 99 percent of its coffee is now ethically sourced, which it accomplished by developing and implementing the Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices (CAFE), a third-party verified program for farmers to ensure certain human rights and environmental standards are met. Through its CAFE initiative, Starbucks actually reduced  deforestation in its coffee supply chain. Why is it so hard to do the  same for palm oil?

Friday

A sobering look at Canada’s human rights record - The Globe and Mail

A sobering look at Canada’s human rights record - The Globe and Mail

Sir Nigel Rodley, a law professor and chair of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, was referring to the deteriorating space for human rights advocacy, protest and dissent in Canada. He noted it was almost unbelievable that the UN committee felt compelled to raise these sorts of concerns with Canada. Sir Nigel highlighted research by the Voices coalition, which pointed to astonishing levels of fear and intimidation felt by Canadian activists and civil society groups, and referred to the disquiet expressed by the UN’s leading expert on the freedoms of assembly and association. He dismissed the Canadian government’s initial response to questions about the crackdown as “thin.”

t was a powerful moment that came near the end of six hours of back-and-forth, over two days, between committee members (drawn from countries around the world) and a sizable Canadian delegation from various federal departments and the province of Quebec. And it captured wider concerns about the range of troubling issues explored in the review.

Canada’s human rights record has been on display, and the range of shortcomings and violations that have been probed has been sobering. Some are long-standing, such as concerns about sex discrimination under the federal Indian Act. Others are more recent, such as many references to Bill C-51, the new Anti-Terrorism Act. Some of the issues, certainly violence against indigenous women, have an impact on hundreds of thousands of people.
The point of the review is not that Canada is among the worst human-rights violators in the world. Of course not. It is a regular review that comes around for all countries that have signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The point, rather, is that all signatories are obliged to protect all rights – and that there is an expectation that a signatory with all the resources and strong institutions that Canada has will set a high example for other countries to follow.
That is not the picture that emerged during the review, however. Instead, it was of entrenched problems in Canada, such as the failure to have an effective process for recognizing and protecting aboriginal land rights. And of new and troubling developments that take Canada in the wrong direction, such as the battle over federal cuts to health care for refugees.
All of this against a backdrop of increasing Canadian disregard for many aspects of the international human rights system. Canada was still dismissive of the important UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – which the government asserted is not binding, not law, only aspirational. Committee members were not impressed, for example, when Canada implied that it has no human rights responsibilities under the covenant when Canadian mining companies operate abroad....

Monday

Gordon Brown: 2015 a year of fear for refugee children

2015 a year of fear for refugee children-average time away from home in exile at around 17 years

CNN: Ten million of the world's 30 million displaced boys and girls are now refugees from their home country. With the average time away from home in exile at around 17 years,
children could go through their entire school-age years, from birth to adulthood, without ever entering a classroom. And rising refugee numbers explain why, according to a new UNESCO report published Monday, 124 million never go to school at all, 59 million of them being primary age boys and girls. While shelter, food and health care are vital to survival, it is education -- and the idea that you can prepare and plan for your future -- that, if curtailed or neglected, deprives young people of hope.

Currently, only about 1% of humanitarian budgets go to education. The educational needs of refugees are forgotten, trapped between development aid and humanitarian assistance that understandably focuses on health care, food and shelter, while standard aid budgets are allocated years in advance and take little account of unplanned-for crises.

Sunday

Climate activists call for greener economy - Toronto - CBC News

Climate activists call for greener economy - Toronto - CBC News

Demonstrators marched through the streets of downtown Toronto onSunday afternoon, calling for an economy that works for both the people and the planet.
Environmentalist David Suzuki, actress Jane Fonda, author Naomi Klein and former diplomat Stephen Lewis were among the notable names in the crowd, which will also included members of First Nations, UNIFOR, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, Toronto Regional Labour Council and Greenpeace Canada.

Pretty good coverage of the climate justice march today.  I'm actually in the video, marching near the front with the Indigenous group (with my Turtle Island sign :-)

Friday

The Council of Canadians - water protection petition

Campaigns | The Council of Canadians

Did you know there are 2.5 million lakes and rivers across Canada? Not long ago, every one of them was protected by federal legislation. Today, only 159 are protected.

You can change this.

Sign the national petition

You may remember Bill C-45, the omnibus budget bill the Harper Conservatives rammed through Parliament in 2012 without any public consultations.

Quietly tucked into that bill were sweeping changes to Canada’s Navigable Waters Protection Act, which stripped 99% of our lakes and rivers of federal environmental protections.

Why would the Conservatives do such a thing? The day their new law came into effect it cancelled environmental reviews for 3,000 energy projects – including tar sands pipelines, fracking and mining – greasing the wheels to fast-track federal approval.

Against the will of the public, the Harper Conservatives have put a higher value on dirty fossil fuels than the safety of our water.

As a direct result, they have put the health of millions of Canadians and Indigenous people at risk and left 99% of our lakes and rivers exposed to devastating contamination.

This Canada Day, let's come together  to restore these protections.
#Pledge2Protect our lakes and rivers 99 per cent of Canada’s lakes and rivers no longer have federal protection.  These environmental and cultural treasures must be kept clean and safe from industry, such as the tar sands, fracking and mining. I call upon  you and your MPs to pledge to protect our lakes and rivers if elected in 2015. Our natural heritage, and that of our children, depends on it.

Tuesday

A strong democracy needs strong science | Evidence For Democracy

A strong democracy needs strong science | Evidence For Democracy

"I believe that all Canadians benefit when governments solicit,  collect and use the evidence and expertise needed to make smart policy  decisions that safeguard the health, safety and prosperity of Canadians. I will support/vote for actions that invest in public-interest science; ensure open, honest and timely communication of scientific information; and make public the evidence considered in government decisions."

 Canada's commitment to making decisions based on evidence, not politics, helped to build our prosperity and make our country one of the safest, healthiest, best educated and most compassionate countries in the world. Making evidence-based decisions requires investing in the science and research upon which they are founded but in recent years, our federal government has turned away from science, putting at risk the foundation of what makes Canada great.

We have seen drastic funding cuts to both federal government and academic research and the scrapping of many important evidence gathering institutions, most notably the long-form census. Government scientists are working under increasingly restrictive rules limiting their ability to openly communicate their research. Perhaps what is most alarming is that many recent public policy decisions disregard all available evidence.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to highlight science and smart-decision making in the upcoming federal election. For the first time in Canadian history there is momentum to get political parties and candidates to commit to science and evidence-based decision-making!

This is your opportunity to restore the science needed for a strong democracy by taking our pledge.

Thursday

Raif Badawi| Amnesty International Canada

Take action for human rights | Amnesty International Canada
UPDATE: JUNE 7, 2015: Saudi Supreme Court upholds cruel and unjust sentence. Raif remains at risk of flogging as long as this sentence remains in  place.
Authorities arrested Raif Badawi  on 17 June 2012. They charged him with insulting Islam and creating the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website for social and political debate. Th charges related to articles Raif wrote criticizing religious figures.

Raif Badawi’s case bounced back and forth between courts until 7 May 2014.On that day, the Criminal Court pronounced a sentence of 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes and a fine of 1 million riyals After he serves a decade in jail, he is also forbidden to travel for the following decade and from participating in the media.

While international pressure appears to have brought a halt to the flogging after the first 50 of 1,000 lashes, Raif Badawi remains behind bars facing an uncertain future. By the end of April 2015 his case had been transferred from the Criminal Court back to the Supreme Court.

Since March 2011 the authorities have  continued a relentless campaign of repression in the name of security.  The authorities have cracked down on peaceful activists calling for reforms and on demonstrators protesting against human rights violations. Those who express dissent face arrest and imprisonment whether they are critics, bloggers, activists or academics. Raif Badawi is just one of many.

Wednesday

Ontario first in North America to curb bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides | Toronto Star

Ontario first in North America to curb bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides | Toronto Star

Ontario is moving to take the sting out of pesticides that are killing bees. On July 1, the province will become the first jurisdiction in North America to begin reducing the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-coated corn and soybean seeds. Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal said by 2017, the new rules should curb the acreage planted with such seeds by 80 per cent.
“Farmers are environmental stewards of their land and this regulation will enable our province’s farmers to strengthen their approach to protecting their crops,” Leal said in a statement Tuesday.
The pesticide hinders the ability of bees — and 400 other pollinator species like birds and butterflies — to navigate, feed, or reproduce. It’s also blamed for making them more susceptible to illness.
In the winter of 2013-14, Ontario beekeepers lost a staggering 58 per cent of the province’s honey bees — well above the 15 per cent depletion considered sustainable.
As of July, new rules will be in place to track the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds. For next year’s planting season, farmers will be allowed to use the seeds on up to 50 per cent of their corn and soybean fields with exceptions being granted only to those who can provide evidence of pest problems.
In 2017, all farmers wanting to use any neonicotinoid- treated seeds will have to prove they have pests.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray said the government must take “necessary action to protect these vitally important species and the ecosystems they support from the effects of neurotoxic neonicotinoids.”
Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Don McCabe said farmers “worked closely” with the province to ensure the rules work for everyone.
“The OFA supports the need for a complete pollinator policy (and) . . . will continue to work with the government toward the successful implementation of this regulation, keeping the concerns of farmers top of mind as part of a pollinator strategy,” said McCabe.
Tibor Szabo, president of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association, said “while the new regs may not be perfect, in the end, the Ontario government did the right thing.” “Our bees continue to die from the overuse of neonicotinoids,” said Szabo. “We hope Ontario farmers will now take it on themselves to go beyond 50 per cent reduction and only use neonicotinoids when there’s a real need to control pests.”
The phase-out will be a challenge — almost all the corn seed and 60 per cent of soybean seed sold in Ontario is currently treated with the insecticides.
CropLife Canada, a manufacturer of neonicotinoids, has maintained their product is “one of the safest
insecticides ever developed.” Last year, two major beekeeping firms launched a $450-million class-action lawsuit against two pesticide manufacturers, alleging their products have decimated bee colonies.

Monday

Bring public science back to the public! MOTION TO BE VOTED ON MAY 26

Bring public science back to the public! | Evidence For Democracy

Thanks to all of the attention last week to the challenges government scientists are facing, MPs will debate a motion to bring science integrity back to government scientists tomorrow.
Liberal Science and Technology critic, Ted Hsu, has put forward a motion to:
  1. end the government’s silencing of government scientists;
  2. create a new portal to allow publicly-funded science to get to the public; and
  3. create a new Chief Science Officer.

Passing this motion would be huge step in the right direction!

Federal government scientists play an important role in keeping
Canadians safe and healthy by providing their expertise to both the
public and decision-makers. When scientists communicate directly with
the media, we all gain a better understanding of how science is being
used for government decision-making, are better able to hold our
government accountable, and are able to make informed decisions in our
day-to-day lives.

Over the past several years, Canadian scientists working in the
federal government have experienced a substantial shift in the way they
can communicate their research. Reports
of widespread censorship and delayed access to Canadian government
scientists have been covered in prominent national and international
media
. Extensive coverage and concern has even prompted the
Information Commissioner of Canada to pursue an investigation, currently
ongoing, into the alleged muzzling of scientists.

This motion will keep this issue in the national spotlight and, if it
passes, will go a long way to improve government science and make sure
it is openly communicated to the public.

Here is the full text of the motion:

That, in the opinion of the House:

(a) the government has constrained the ability of federal scientists to
share their research and to collaborate with their peers; (b) federal
scientists have been muzzled and prevented from speaking to the media
about their work; (c) research is paid for by taxpayers and must be done
in the public interest in order to protect the environment and the
health and safety of Canadians; and, therefore, (d) the government
should immediately rescind all rules and regulations that muzzle
government scientists, consolidate government-funded or -created science
so that it is easily available to the public at large through a central
portal, create a Chief Science Officer whose mandate would include
ensuring that government science is freely available to those who are
paying for it, namely, the public, and allow scientists to be able to
speak freely on their work with limited and publicly stated exceptions.

Sunday

Amnesty Petition, Bill C-51

Take action for human rights | Amnesty International Canada

Bill C-51, The Anti-Terrorism Act, forms the core of the most comprehensive reforms to the Canada ’s national security laws since 2001. Widely expanded powers and new criminal offences raise serious human rights concerns including:

  1. A vague definition of “threats” that could include a wide range of protest activity that may not be lawful, but is certainly not criminal.
  2. Asking Federal Court judges to authorize CSIS “threat reduction” activities that could include human rights violations in Canada and in other countries.
  3. Suppressing freedom of expression by making it a crime to advocate or promote the commission of terrorism offences “in general”.
  4. Lowering the threshold for, and extending the duration of, preventative detention without charge.
  5. Expanded information-sharing without sufficient safeguards to prevent the sharing of unreliable,
    inaccurate, or inflammatory information domestically and
    internationally.

  6. Inadequate appeal procedures for individuals who find their names on no-fly lists. 
  7. No increased review or oversight of increasingly complex national security activities.
Read Amnesty International's Brief submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

Governments have not only the right, but the responsibility to respond to concerns  about threats and attacks – including terrorism – and protect their  citizens.
But not at any cost. 

Recent history is all too full of  examples on every continent of what can happen when security laws and  practices disregard human rights: torture and ill-treatment, indefinite  detention, unfair trials, unlawful killings, irresponsible arms  transfers, civilian casualties, profiling and other forms of  discrimination, and crackdowns on protest and dissent.

Canada’s own complicity in a  number of cases including Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati, Muayyed Nureddin, Omar Khadr, Abousfian Abdelrazik, and Benamar Benatta remains unresolved.

Monday

WIN! Ontario bill banning fracking passes second reading | The Council of Canadians

WIN! Ontario bill banning fracking passes second reading | The Council of Canadians

The Council of Canadians supports Bill 82, legislation that would place a moratorium on fracking in Ontario.

In March, the Canadian Press reported, "An NDP private member's bill to ban high volume hydraulic fracking to produce natural gas from shale in Ontario was quickly shot down by the Liberal government [on March 25]. NDP environment critic Peter Tabuns introduced a private member's bill to have Ontario follow the lead of Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New York and ban fracking. Tabuns said fracking poses substantial risks to ground water, which is combined with toxic chemicals under extreme pressure to fracture shale deposits to free up natural gas for extraction."

At that time, "Natural Resources Minister Bill Mauro said the Liberal government will not impose a ban on fracking. [Mauro says,] 'We won't be going forward with a moratorium."

But yesterday, in surprising turnaround, the Liberals joined the NDP in voting 28-19 in favour of the bill. All Progressive Conservative MPPs and one Liberal voted against the bill.

That means the legislation survives and will proceed on to third and final reading at Queen's Park. Please – now more than ever – be sure to take action to support a moratorium on fracking in Ontario by sending a message to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne through our action alert Don't Frack Ontario!

Saturday

Lowe's to eliminate pesticides that hurt crop pollinating honeybees | Reuters

Lowe's to eliminate pesticides that hurt crop pollinating honeybees | Reuters

SOMETIMES (rarely) internet activism gets results:

(Reuters) -
Home improvement chain Lowe's Cos Inc will stop selling a type of pesticide suspected of causing a decline in honeybee populations needed to pollinate key American crops, following a few U.S. retailers who have taken similar steps last year.

The class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, are sold by agrichemical companies to boost yields of staple crops but are also used widely on annual and perennial plants used in lawns and gardens.

Scientists, consumer groups, beekeepers and others say bee deaths are linked to the neonic pesticides. The bee die-off is worrisome for agriculture because honeybees pollinate plants that produce about a fourth of the food consumed by Americans.

Lowe's said it will phase out neonics in shelf products and plants by the spring of 2019, as suitable alternatives become available.

A study released by environment group Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute in 2014 showed that 51 percent of garden plants purchased at Lowe's, Home Depot and Walmart in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contained neonicotinoid pesticides at levels that could harm or even kill bees.

In 2014, the White House announced a plan to fund new honeybee habitats and to form a task force to study how to reverse the honeybee declines. Last year, BJ's Wholesale Club, a warehouse retailer said it was asking all of its vendors to provide plants free of neonics by the end of 2014 or to label such products.

Home Depot, the largest U.S. home improvement chain, also asked its suppliers to start labeling any plants treated with neonics and that it was running tests in several states to see if suppliers can eliminate neonics in their plant production without hurting plant health.

Wednesday

Supreme Court of Canada rules Saguenay council must drop prayers | Toronto Star

Supreme Court of Canada rules Saguenay council must drop prayers | Toronto Star

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled the municipal council in the Quebec town of Saguenay cannot open its meetings with a prayer.
In a unanimous decision today, the country’s top court said reciting a Catholic prayer at council meetings infringeson freedom of conscience and religion.
The ruling puts an end to a nine-year legal battle that began with a complaint filed by atheist Alain Simoneau and a secular-rights organization against Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay.
In 2011, Quebec’s human rights tribunal ordered an end to the prayers, demanded that a crucifix in the city council chamber be removed and awarded damages to Simoneau.
But the outspoken mayor fought back, raising money from supporters through the city’s website. Tremblay said it was abattle for Quebec’s Roman Catholic heritage.
The Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the tribunal in 2013

Monday

Corporate Accountability International - Divestment from Veolia

Corporate Accountability International

Tell the World Bank: Divest from water privatizers!

After months of mounting pressure around the world, the World Bank has divested from global water privatization giant Veolia! This is a huge victory for everyone who believes water is a human right -- and not a commodity to be bought and sold by corporations.

Our team is on the ground in D.C. at the annual World Bank meetings right now to ramp up pressure and ensure the World Bank cuts ties with ALL water privatizers. Join this call and tell World Bank officials: Water is a human right. Divest from ALL water privatizers.

Friday

Take Action: Show your support for open science communication! | Evidence for Democracy

Take Action: Show your support for open science communication! | Evidence for Democracy

A recent survey by Environics Research Group and the Professional
Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) finds similar
sentiments among the scientists themselves, showing that 90% of federal
scientists feel they are not able to speak freely about their research...

Federal government scientists play an important role in keeping
Canadians safe and healthy by providing their expertise to both the
public and decision-makers. When scientists communicate directly with
the media, we all gain a better understanding of how science is being
used for government decision-making, and are better able to hold our
government accountable.

Informed public debate is the foundation of democracy. This means
having the scientific information that we have paid for through our tax
dollars available for discussion and allowing our publicly-funded
scientists - whose salaries and research costs we pay - to communicate
freely.

Over the past several years, Canadian scientists working in the
federal government have experienced a substantial shift in the way they
can communicate their research to the public and the media. Reports of
widespread muzzling and delayed access to Canadian government scientists
have been covered in prominent national and international media.
Extensive coverage and concern prompted the Information Commissioner of
Canada to pursue an investigation, currently ongoing, into the alleged
muzzling of scientists.

If you think that scientists should be able to speak freely, add your
name to our petition calling for new government communication policies
that promote openness and transparency - similar to policies that have
been adopted in the United States and Britain.

You can find a timeline of the censorship of government science here.

Monday

Quaker, adopt a responsible palm oil policy | SumOfUs

Quaker, adopt a responsible palm oil policy | SumOfUs

PepsiCo uses the honest-looking “Quaker man" image to sell breakfast cereals and snacks around the world. But some Quaker products contain palm oil, and the company's safeguards are simply not good enough to ensure that the palm oil it buys isn't contributing to deforestation and human rights abuses.

Quaker is the world's oldest cereal brand, and one of PepsiCo's prized possessions. Quaker products are marketed particularly to families and conscientious consumers, competing with Kellogg's and other brands which have adopted responsible palm oil commitments.

PepsiCo is a $77 billion company, and could be a powerful ally in the struggle to stop deforestation and human rights abuses. Rainforests across Southeast Asia are being destroyed every day to make way for massive palm oil plantations, where workers, even children, are trapped in modern slavery to cultivate the vegetable oil.

MSF and the TPP: Tell Stephen Harper: Medicines shouldn't be a luxury

Tell Stephen Harper: Medicines shouldn't be a luxury

FROM MSF:

Canada is participating in international trade talks that could jeopardize what has already been achieved, and put the lives of millions of patients at risk.

On November 13, WikiLeaks released the draft Intellectual Property Chapter of the TPP. Since negotiations began in 2010, they have been shrouded in secrecy. This is the first leak of text from the proposed agreement in more than two years.

The leak of the secret text confirms that the U.S. government is continuing to steamroll its trading partners in the face of steadfast opposition over terms that will severely restrict access to affordable medicines for millions of people. The U.S. is refusing to back down from dangerous provisions that will impede timely access to affordable medicines.

It's encouraging to see that some governments, including Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, are pushing back against some aspects of the U.S. position with their own proposal that better protects access to medicines. What is troubling is that the text also shows that some countries are willing to give in to the U.S. government's damaging demands. MSF urges countries to stand strong to ensure that the harmful terms are removed before this deal is finalized

Many countries and treatment providers like Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) rely on affordable quality generic medicines to treat life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. We need to keep prices low so our patients — and millions of others still waiting for treatment in the developing world — can get the medicines they need.

Sign the petition to tell Prime Minister Harper to stand firm against the U.S. position on the TPP, and reject damaging provisions that could make this agreement the most harmful trade pact ever foraccess to medicines.

Saturday

European Humanist Federation - European Parliament commits to gender equality and women sexual and reproductive rights

European Humanist Federation - European Parliament commits to gender equality and women sexual and reproductive rights

Civil society and human rights organisations welcome the adoption of the Report on Equality between women and men in the EU (2013) authored by MEP Marc Tarabella.
Despite numerous falsehoods and emotional manipulation spread by anti-human-rights organisations about the Report, the European Parliament has clearly affirmed its will to combat gender-discrimination in Europe.
Adopted with a comfortable majority of 441 votes in favour and 205 votes against, this report addresses persistent and increasing deadlocks on gender equality and proposes actions on a wide range of issues: developing childcare facilities; combating stereotypes against female employment; reducing gender pay and pension gaps; establishing paid paternity leave to enable men and fathers to achieve a better work-life balance and raising awareness on violence against women with a European year dedicated to this issue.

Importantly also, MEPs have clearly agreed that women must have control over their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including access to contraception, legal abortion and sexuality  education - although the EU can only encourage Member States’ policies  on this issue and not initiate policies on its own.

International Women's Day - Womens Rights and Local Journalism

http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/03/the-15-journalists-putting-womens-rights-on-the-front-page/

NEW YORK, Mar 6 2015 (IPS) - Media coverage of maternal, sexual and reproductive health rights is crucial to achieving international development goals, yet journalists covering these issues often face significant challenges.

“When I was a baby, I got sick and some of my family members decided  that I should die because I was not a boy. Decades later, I’m inspired  by the courage of my mother - and countless other women – to expose and  end gender-based violence and inequality.”
-- IPS correspondent Stella  Paul
Recognising the contributions these journalists make to advancing women and girls’ rights, international advocacy organisation Women Deliver have named 15 journalists for their dedication to gender issues ahead of International Women’s Day 2015.Among the journalists Women Deliver
recognised for their work is IPS correspondent Stella Paul from India. Paul was honoured for her reporting on women’s rights abuses through articles on such issues as India’s ‘temple slaves’ and bonded labourers.

Paul’s dedication to women’s rights is not only shown through her journalism. When she interviews communities, she also teaches them how to report abuses to the authorities and hold them accountable for breaking the cycle of violence....

Another journalist honoured was Mae Azango from Liberia. Women Deliver CEO Katja Iversen told IPS, “Mae Azango deserves a Pulitzer. She went undercover to investigate female genital mutilation in Liberia.

“After her story was published she received death threats and [she] and her daughter were forced into hiding. Mae’s bravery paid off though, as her story garnered international attention and encouraged the Liberian government to ban the licensing of institutions where this horrific practice is performed,” Iversen added.

Azango told Women Deliver, “Speaking the truth about female genital cutting in my country has long been a dangerous thing to do. But I thought it was worth risking my life because cutting has claimed the lives of so many women and girls, some as young as two.”

Iversen said that many of the honourees had shown incredible dedication, through their work. “For some of our journalists, simply covering topics deemed culturally taboo – like reproductive rights, domestic violence or sexual assault – can be enough to put them in danger,” she said.

However despite their dedication, journalists still also face obstacles in the newsroom. “One of the questions we asked the journalists was: what will it take to move girls’ and women’s health issues to the front pages?” Iversen said.

“Almost all of them said: we need more female journalists in leadership and decision-making positions in our newsrooms. Journalism, like many other industries, remains a male dominated field, which can be a major obstacle to publishing stories on women’s health and rights.”

But the issue also runs deeper. There is also a lack of recognition that women and girls’ health rights abuses and neglect are also abuses of human rights, and combatting these issues is essential to achieving development for everyone, not just women and girls.

This means that women’s health is often seen as ‘soft news’ not political or economic news worthy of a front-page headline. “Unfortunately women’s health and wellbeing is still, for the most part, treated as ‘soft’ news, despite the fact that when women struggle to survive, so do their families, communities and nations,” Iversen said.

“Every day, an estimated 800 women die in pregnancy or childbirth, 31 million girls are not enrolled in primary school and early marriage remains a pervasive problem in many countries. These are not just women’s issues, these are everyone’s issues – and our honorees are helping readers understand this link.”

As journalist Catherine Mwesigwa from Uganda told Women Deliver, “Women’s health issues will make it to the front pages when political leaders and the media make the connection between girls’ and women’s health and socio-economic development and productivity, children’s education outcomes and nations’ political stability.”

Male journalists also have a role to play and two of the fifteen journalists honoured for their contribution to raising awareness on these crucial rights were men. Besides India and Liberia, other honorees hailed from Argentina, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States.

Wednesday

Tell Stephen Harper: Medicines shouldn't be a luxury - MSF

Tell Stephen Harper: Medicines shouldn't be a luxury

Competition from generic drug companies has reduced the price of HIV drugs by a staggering 99 per cent to less than $140 per patient per year. This has given more HIV patients in the developing world a chance not only to survive, but to lead meaningful lives.

But Canada is participating in international trade talks that could jeopardize what has already been achieved, and put the lives of millions of patients at risk.

Damaging intellectual property rules in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) would give pharmaceutical companies longer monopolies over brand name drugs. Companies would be
able to charge high prices for longer periods of time. And it would be much harder for generic companies to produce cheaper drugs that are vital to people’s health.

On November 13, WikiLeaks released the draft Intellectual Property Chapter of the TPP. Since negotiations began in 2010, they have been shrouded in secrecy. This is the first leak of text from the proposed agreement in more than two years.

The leak of the secret text confirms that the U.S. government is continuing to steamroll its trading partners in the face of steadfast opposition over terms that will severely restrict access to affordable medicines for millions of people. The U.S. is refusing to back down from dangerous provisions that will impede timely access to affordable medicines.

It's encouraging to see that some governments, including Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, are pushing back against some aspects of the U.S. position with their own proposal that better protects access to medicines. What is troubling is that the text  also shows that some countries are willing to give in to the U.S.  government's damaging demands. MSF urges countries to stand strong to ensure that the harmful terms are removed before this deal is finalized.

Sign the petition to tell Prime Minister Harper to stand firm against the U.S. position on the TPP, and reject damaging provisions that could make this agreement the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines.

Monday

Industry Lobby gears up. Tell Ontario to stand strong on bee-killing pesticides... | Sierra Club Canada

(Reminder) Please tell Ontario to stand strong on bee-killing pesticides... | Sierra Club Canada

As you know, Ontario plans to restrict the use of bee- killing pesticides. In 2014, the Ontario government announced it intended to restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. In order to develop the plan and regulations, the province began conducting consultations and invited the public to comment.

A number of these public consultations took place this past December and the majority went very well, with farmers and other stakeholders able to give input on the new rules. A meeting on December 19th, however, was very different.

INDUSTRY PUSH-BACK


The head of the Ontario Grain Growers (OGG), accompanied by (former MP) Ted Menzies, the new CEO of industry lobby group CropLife, stood up at the beginning of the meeting, condemned the government, and then (took their toys) and stomped out.

DIVIDE & CONQUER

The OGG and CropLife intend to undermine the consultations and are already preparing a pre-federal election ground offensive, and the battlefield is Ontario’s urban/rural divide. You may remember CropLife is in the midst of a major lobbying and public relations campaign to prevent Canada from adopting a ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides (an action the European Union took more than a year ago). They know they have to defeat any regulatory action in Ontario or risk seeing it spread across the country.

GOOD FIRST STEP

The Ontario government’s plan applies only to corn and soybean crops in the province and does not prohibit other uses of neonicotinoid pesticides. The new plan will require farmers to demonstrate a need for them, replacing the present practice of spraying all seeds before delivering them to the farmer.

The province confidently states that it can eliminate neonicotinoid use by 80% on these crops without a significant impact on production. New rules are expected to be in place by July 2015 (and apply to the2016 crop growing year).

Sierra Club Canada Foundation is supportive of the plan because it will be the first action by any jurisdiction in North America (the European Union acted in 2013). It should be viewed, however, as only a first step because it applies strictly to soybean and corn seed treatment and not other crops. As a precautionary measure to protect pollinators, we’re calling for restrictions on all uses of neonicotinoid pesticides. We see no logical reason to treat other uses of the bee-killing chemicals differently.

BEE HEARD TODAY

We hear from our sources that CropLife and OGG’s lobbying of late against restricting bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides has been fierce
So let’s make sure Ontario stays strong. One way of
doing that is submitting comments, and we have until January 25th. We’ve provided a draft letter here

Sunday

Invitation to Carbon Tax forum, Jan 27, Victoria College

For everyone who wants to learn more about how we can stop subsidizing fossil fuels and can really speed up the transition to renewables - please help spread the word - so there can be more public understanding of these options.  - Lyn
Great news!    Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL)  is co-sponsoring a Carbon Price Forum moderated by Stephen Lewis. The forum will take place on Tuesday, January 27 from 7:30 to 9:00 pm.
Isabel Bader Auditorium,
93 Charles Street West,
Victoria College University of Toronto

What’s the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while stimulating the economy? Join Stephen Lewis and an expert panel on how to effectively put a price on carbon in Canada.
Two methods are frequently proposed – Cap and Trade and a Carbon Tax. Our Forum Panelists will present the case for each of these methods.
Moderator
Stephen Lewis, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Ryerson University
Panelists
  • Nicholas Rivers, Chairholder, Canada Research Chair in Climate and Energy, University of Ottawa
  • David Robinson, Associate Professor of Economics, Laurentian University
  • Katie Sullivan, Director, North America and Climate Finance, IETA
  • Gray Taylor, a leading climate change lawyer working in Toronto
Commentators
  • Kristyn Annis, President, Canadians for Clean Prosperity
  • Lynn McDonald, former Federal Member of Parliament and co-founder of JustEarth

Wednesday

Much of world's fossil fuel reserve must stay buried to prevent climate change, study says | Environment | The Guardian

Much of world's fossil fuel reserve must stay buried to prevent climate change, study says | Environment | The Guardian

It shows trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas, including most Canadian tar sands, all Arctic oil and gas and much potential shale gas, cannot be exploited if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the 2C safety limit agreed by the world’s nations.
Currently, the world is heading for a catastrophic 5C of warming and the deadline to seal a global climate deal comes in December at a crunch UN summit in Paris.

“We’ve now got tangible figures of the quantities and locations of fossil fuels that should remain unused in trying to keep within the 2C temperature limit,” said Christophe McGlade, at University College
London (UCL), and who led the new research published in the journal Nature. The work, using detailed data and well-established economic models, assumed cost effective climate policies would use the cheapest fossil fuels first, with more expensive fuels priced out of a world in which carbon emissions were strictly limited. For example, the model predicts that significant cheap-to-produce conventional oil would be burned butthat the carbon limit would be reached before more expensive tar sands
 oil could be used.
The new analysis calls into question the gigantic sums of private and government investment being ploughed into exploration for new fossil fuel reserves, according to UCL’s Professor Paul Ekins, who conducted the research with McGlade. “In 2013, fossil fuel companies spent some $670bn (£443bn) on exploring for new oil and gas resources. One might ask why they are doing this when there is more in the ground than we can afford to burn,” he said.
“The investors in those companies might feel that money is better spent either developing low-carbon energy sources or being returned to investors as dividends,” said Ekins.
“One lesson of this work is unmistakably obvious: when you’re in a hole, stop digging,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org which is campaigning to get investors to dump their fossil fuel stocks. “These numbers show that unconventional and ‘extreme’ fossil fuel – Canada’s tar sands, for instance – simply have to stay in the ground.”