Thursday, June 13, 2013

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Why Police Lie Under Oath

Published: February 2, 2013
THOUSANDS of people plead guilty to crimes every year in the United States because they know that the odds of a jury’s believing their word over a police officer’s are slim to none. As a juror, whom are you likely to believe: the alleged criminal in an orange jumpsuit or two well-groomed police officers in uniforms who just swore to God they’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? As one of my colleagues recently put it, “Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying.”

But are police officers necessarily more trustworthy than alleged criminals? I think not. Not just because the police have a special inclination toward confabulation, but because, disturbingly, they have an incentive to lie. In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn’t be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so.

That may sound harsh, but numerous law enforcement officials have put the matter more bluntly.  Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote an article in The San Francisco Chronicle decrying a police culture that treats lying as the norm: “Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”

The New York City Police Department is not exempt from this critique. In 2011, hundreds of drug cases were dismissed after several police officers were accused of mishandling evidence. That year, Justice Gustin L. Reichbach of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn condemned a widespread culture of lying and corruption in the department’s drug enforcement units. “I thought I was not naïve,” he said when announcing a guilty verdict involving a police detective who had planted crack cocaine on a pair of suspects. “But even this court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed.”
Remarkably, New York City officers have been found to engage in patterns of deceit in cases involving charges as minor as trespass. In September it was reported that the Bronx district attorney’s office was so alarmed by police lying that it decided to stop prosecuting people who were stopped and arrested for trespassing at public housing projects, unless prosecutors first interviewed the arresting officer to ensure the arrest was actually warranted. Jeannette Rucker, the chief of arraignments for the Bronx district attorney, explained in a letter that it had become apparent that the police were arresting people even when there was convincing evidence that they were innocent. To justify the arrests, Ms. Rucker claimed, police officers provided false written statements, and in depositions, the arresting officers gave false testimony.

Mr. Keane, in his Chronicle article, offered two major reasons the police lie so much. First, because they can. Police officers “know that in a swearing match between a drug defendant and a police officer, the judge always rules in favor of the officer.” At worst, the case will be dismissed, but the officer is free to continue business as usual. Second, criminal defendants are typically poor and uneducated, often belong to a racial minority, and often have a criminal record.  “Police know that no one cares about these people,” Mr. Keane explained.

All true, but there is more to the story than that.

Police departments have been rewarded in recent years for the sheer numbers of stops, searches and arrests. In the war on drugs, federal grant programs like the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program have encouraged state and local law enforcement agencies to boost drug arrests in order to compete for millions of dollars in funding. Agencies receive cash rewards for arresting high numbers of people for drug offenses, no matter how minor the offenses or how weak the evidence. Law enforcement has increasingly become a numbers game. And as it has, police officers’ tendency to regard procedural rules as optional and to lie and distort the facts has grown as well. Numerous scandals involving police officers lying or planting drugs — in Tulia, Tex. and Oakland, Calif., for example — have been linked to federally funded drug task forces eager to keep the cash rolling in.

THE pressure to boost arrest numbers is not limited to drug law enforcement. Even where no clear financial incentives exist, the “get tough” movement has warped police culture to such a degree that police chiefs and individual officers feel pressured to meet stop-and-frisk or arrest quotas in order to prove their “productivity.”

For the record, the New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, denies that his department has arrest quotas. Such denials are mandatory, given that quotas are illegal under state law. But as the Urban Justice Center’s Police Reform Organizing Project has documented, numerous officers have contradicted Mr. Kelly. In 2010, a New York City police officer named Adil Polanco told a local ABC News reporter that “our primary job is not to help anybody, our primary job is not to assist anybody, our primary job is to get those numbers and come back with them.” He continued: “At the end of the night you have to come back with something.  You have to write somebody, you have to arrest somebody, even if the crime is not committed, the number’s there. So our choice is to come up with the number.”

Exposing police lying is difficult largely because it is rare for the police to admit their own lies or to acknowledge the lies of other officers. This reluctance derives partly from the code of silence that governs police practice and from the ways in which the system of mass incarceration is structured to reward dishonesty. But it’s also because police officers are human.

Research shows that ordinary human beings lie a lot — multiple times a day — even when there’s no clear benefit to lying. Generally, humans lie about relatively minor things like “I lost your phone number; that’s why I didn’t call” or “No, really, you don’t look fat.” But humans can also be persuaded to lie about far more important matters, especially if the lie will enhance or protect their reputation or standing in a group.

The natural tendency to lie makes quota systems and financial incentives that reward the police for the sheer numbers of people stopped, frisked or arrested especially dangerous. One lie can destroy a life, resulting in the loss of employment, a prison term and relegation to permanent second-class status. The fact that our legal system has become so tolerant of police lying indicates how corrupted our criminal justice system has become by declarations of war, “get tough” mantras, and a seemingly insatiable appetite for locking up and locking out the poorest and darkest among us.

And, no, I’m not crazy for thinking so.

Michelle Alexander is the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Real Invasion of Africa is Not News and a Licence to Lie is Hollywood's Gift

By John Pilger

January 31, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" - A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way. The United States is deploying troops in 35 African countries, beginning with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. Reported by Associated Press on Christmas Day, this was missing from most Anglo-American media.

The invasion has almost nothing to do with "Islamism", and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China. Unlike China, the US and its allies are prepared to use a degree of violence demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine. As in the cold war, a division of labour requires that western journalism and popular culture provide the cover of a holy war against a "menacing arc" of Islamic extremism, no different from the bogus "red menace" of a worldwide communist conspiracy.

Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments. Last year, Africom staged Operation African Endeavor, with the armed forces of 34 African nations taking part, commanded by the US military. Africom's "soldier to soldier" doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.

It is as if Africa's proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master's black colonial elite whose "historic mission", warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of "a capitalism rampant though camouflaged". 

Read more here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Testimony to the Joint Review Panel on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project

By Marc Lee, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
January 16, 2013
My name is Marc Lee, and I have served as an economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for more than 14 years. Most recently I have been Senior Economist and the Co-Director of the Climate Justice Project, a multi-year SSHRC-funded research project with the University of British Columbia, in collaboration with a large team of academics and community groups.
A year ago, Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver’s open letter stated that the Northern Gateway Pipeline was in the national interest and would substantially boost our GDP and employment. I decided to evaluate those claims, and published my findings in a report for the CCPA, called Enbridge Pipe Dreams and Nightmares: The Economic Costs and Benefits of the Proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.
I believe that the government’s job should not be to be cheerleaders for proposals, but should make a ruling in the public interest by carefully weighing both benefits and costs. And on those grounds, I conclude that the Northern Gateway Pipeline fails the public interest test.
Enbridge’s claims about tens of thousands of jobs are grossly overstated, in part because a person-years of employment are not the same as jobs, but mostly because those large numbers are based on flawed input-output modelling that makes many unjustified assumptions. A closer look at Enbridge’s own numbers reveals a different story when it comes to job creation.
While there are clearly large profits that would accrue to the oil and gas industry, and governments will get a share of those profits through taxes and royalties, for ordinary Canadians the harsh reality is that very few jobs would be created by the pipeline.
The vast bulk of work associated with the pipeline would come during the three-year construction phase. In terms of jobs, we can bank on no more than 3,000 jobs per year for three years during the construction phase. Enbridge’s submission states 1,850 per year for three years for building the pipeline. If we assume that the steel and pipe will be manufactured in Canada – something that has not been committed to by Enbridge – that would lead to another 1,000 jobs for three years at most.
Once complete, Enbridge estimates a mere 217 direct jobs in pipeline operations. This is not surprising because the oil and gas industry is one of the most capital-intensive in the world, employing less than 1% of Canadian workers. The share of total income generated by the NGP going to workers, at 18%, is very small by historical standards.
Labour shortages in the construction sector imply that if the pipeline is not built the vast majority of workers would likely be working somewhere else. This is an important point because the modelling invoked by Enbridge essentially assumes that workers would otherwise be unemployed. In addition, the growing tens of thousands of temporary workers in the oil and gas industry suggest that jobs that are created may not even go to Canadians.
Similarly, Enbridge’s claim that Aboriginal employment will fill more than one-third of regional labour requirements is questionable. No commitment to training local residents is specified, so skilled work would only go to workers who already have the qualifications required. Thus, it is likely that Aboriginal workers will be more present in low-skill, low-wage employment, while temporary skilled labour will come from outside the region.
There are other problems in Enbridge’s input-output modelling, some of which seem to be endemic problems with that kind of approach, while others seem to be a mis-application of the modelling. More than two-fifths of Enbridge’s stated employment gains come from induced job creation, the local economic impact of expenditures by workers and governments. These impacts are particularly difficult to estimate and can easily be overstated.
Overall, implausibly large numbers derived from input-output modelling – 63,000 jobs during construction and 1,146 permanent jobs once complete – simply cannot be justified, and should be dismissed as evidence in favour of the pipeline.
Set against the employment fiction created by this modelling exercise, the Enbridge proposal instead passes up value-added employment creation opportunities from upgrading and refining in Canada.
Another missing element from input-output models is the alternative uses of funds. While the pipeline will create temporary and some permanent jobs, the choice for policy makers is not between the NGP and nothing. My report considers alternative investments of $5 billion, particularly in green economic development that would also reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels.
Spending $5 billion on public transit, building retrofits, renewable energy and so forth would generate between 3 to 36 times more jobs than investing in the pipeline. A modest carbon tax of $10 a tonne applied nationally would generate $5 billion per year, every year, that could facilitate such investments.
Finally, there are economic costs of moving forward. Having 220 super-tankers up the inlet into Kitimat (in addition to hundreds of LNG tankers also being pursued) will have a negative impact on commercial and traditional fishing in the region even if there are no spills. Eco-tourism, as an alternative industry and employer in the region, would suffer if the pipeline is built.
Pipeline spills are an obvious environmental and economic cost. Given the track record of the industry in general and Enbridge in particular, the question is not if there will be a spill but when and how bad it is. Diluted bitumen is highly corrosive and breaks the pipes it travels through. Enbridge alone has had more than 800 leaks in its pipeline network going back just over a decade. In the US, there have been more than 5,000 pipeline spills going back to 1990. Spills are a just a routine aspect of doing business from a corporate perspective.
In the BC development region of North Coast and Nechako, there were about 5,500 jobs in 2010 in categories that would most likely be affected by an oil spill (such as tourism and fishing) and 12,670 jobs in the Cariboo development region. Even if one in ten of these jobs were affected, the job losses that could result from an oil spill would be larger than new permanent jobs created by the NGP.
Not counted in these statistics is the subsistence economy of fishing and trapping, an important source of non-market food for people in rural areas. The submission by the Gitga’at, whose territory covers the tanker route out of Kitimat, notes that these sources account for about two-fifths of their food supply.
While spills are more of a probabilistic matter, greenhouse emissions are not. The pipeline would facilitate 80-100 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, which is more than BC currently emits in total. Recent estimates of the external costs of carbon emissions are typically in the range of $50-200 per tonne, which implies some $4-20 billion in economic costs from GHG emissions facilitated by the pipeline.
Given that the pipeline is anticipated to create about $4 billion per year in profits to Enbridge shareholders and oil sands producers, these should be considered odious profits that come at the expense of people in other countries and into the future.
Already, the world is seeing growing economic costs resulting from historical GHG emissions. Scientists agree that action is needed to rapidly shift off of fossil fuels, and such a commitment will hopefully be reflected in a new international treaty. Locking in a multi-billion-dollar piece of fossil fuel infrastructure runs the risk of becoming a stranded asset as the world inevitably transitions to clean energy sources.
In sum, there are few economic benefits of the pipeline outside the gains that accrue to shareholders, and at the same time there are massive costs that will be imposed on people and nature from the pipeline. The Northern Gateway Pipeline therefore fails the cost-benefit test and the Joint Review Panel should not approve it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Social Housing Now! Facing the Housing Crisis in BC


Facing the housing crisis in BC

A Campaign rally to make social housing a BC election issue

Tuesday February 5
7:00 – 9:00 pm

Vancouver Public Library, Alice McKay meeting room

(350 W Georgia St)

On Tuesday February 5 a new broad-based social housing coalition will launch a major campaign to make social housing a central issue of the upcoming BC provincial election. Come join the campaign rally in the main VPL meeting room to hear voices from communities throughout BC facing the housing crisis.

The campaign rally for SOCIAL HOUSING NOW will feature speakers from the grassroots Stands for Social Housing that are held in communities around BC every Saturday. There will also be researchers, advocates and experts on the housing crisis and its social housing solutions, and representatives of the communities hit hardest by the market housing crisis – Indigenous people, women and single mothers with children, migrants and especially those with temporary or no immigration status.

More than a community forum, this rally will be the first mobilization of a social housing campaign that will change the discussion about the housing crisis in BC and influence the platforms of the major parties in the May election. Come and learn about the depth and breadth of the housing crisis. Come and learn about the current governments' threat to social housing as an idea and a right. Come and get involved in the fight for social housing.

Organized by Social Housing Coalition BC

twitter:  @stand4housing

Idle? Know More: A Public Panel on Indigenous Issues

Public FB link:

- please forward widely -

* VIDEOS of panel will be available after Jan 29th here:

Idle? Know more! A public panel on Indigenous issues

Tuesday Jan 22 at 5:30 pm
Alice MacKay Room
Vancouver Public Library (Georgia and Hamilton)
Unceded Coast Salish Territories

This panel is open to the public. All are welcome to attend, especially
non-Natives to understand the long history of racism and colonialism in
Canada against Indigenous people that has given rise to the current Idle
No More movement, to highlight and lift the voices of Indigenous peoples
resisting across these lands, and to think through how to be more informed
and responsible allies.

Please spread the word - encourage your friends, your family, your
co-workers, your faith group, your community/student group to attend.

Accessibility info:

   * Territorial opening by Cease Wyss: T’Uy’Tanat-Cease Wyss is
Skwxw’u7mesh ethnobotanist, media artist, educator, and food security
activist. She has stood up with other Indigenous Peoples to fight for
native peoples’ rights to hunt, gather, and fish in their traditional

   * Arthur Manuel: Art is a spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on
Economies and Trade and Defenders of the Land network. Former
chairperson of the Interior Alliance of BC First Nations, Manuel has been
a leading voice of opposition to the Canadian government’s agenda to
“extinguish” Aboriginal and Treaty rights and assimilate Indigenous
peoples into the Canadian body politic. Active locally in Secwepemc land
struggles, and at the national level, he has also taken the
struggle international at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,
following in the path of his father, the late George Manuel, President of
the National Indian Brotherhood and founder of the World Council of
Indigenous Peoples.

   * Darla Goodwin: Singing Thunderbird Child-Twice Standing Woman is a
Cree Ojibwa from Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan. She is a
knowledge keeper, carrier of the Sacred Correction Pipe for the
Desecration of the female side of life, starting with our mother the
Earth. She is a ceremonial First Nations woman and an organizer for Idle
No More.

   * Glen Coulthard: Dr. Glen Coulthard is a member of the Yellowknives
Dene and a scholar of contemporary Indigenous politics. He is an
Assistant Professor in First Nations Studies and the Department of
Political Science at UBC. He is a founding member of the Camas Books &
Infoshop in Victoria and the Dechinta Center for Research and Learning in
Yellowknives Dene territory.

   * Jerilynn Webster: Jerrilyn is a Vancouver based female hip hop
artist, beat-boxer, performing artist, aboriginal youth educator,
single mother, award-winning actor, and member of the Nuxalk and
Cayauga Nations who is "using [her] words to go upwards/not
backwards." She is an Idle No More organizer.

   * Khelsilem Rivers: Khelsilem is a community organizer and language
revitalization activist. Influenced heavily by his grandmother, he always
believed in the importance of being Indigenous, despite
encroachment of a foreign culture, society, and civilization. In this
regard, Khelsilem has pursued avenues where he can strengthen all
aspects of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw ways. He is an Idle No More

   * Lisa Yellow-Quill: Lisa Yellow-Quill is Nehiyaw, Nekaway, Dakota
from Treaty 1: Long Plains, Manitoba. She has many years of experience
providing advocacy, support and counseling to women and families
living with multiple-barriers, oppressions, and experiences of
violence both in crisis situations and in complex long-term processes.
This foundation has supported her ability to be a noted spokesperson on
behalf of Turtle Island’s Murdered and Missing Girls and Women. Lisa is a
Pipe Carrier, Sundancer, and Keeper of several Ceremonies.


For more information contact Harsha Walia at

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Legal rights for Mother Earth?

At a luncheon last June in Montreal, former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin described the “god-awful” living conditions he witnessed on a recent trip abroad. “I met with the president of this particular country in Central Africa and he asked how are things going.
WEDNESDAY, JAN 09 2013 19:00:00 -05:00
At a luncheon last June in Montreal, former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin described the “god-awful” living conditions he witnessed on a recent trip abroad. “I met with the president of this particular country in Central Africa and he asked how are things going. And I said, ‘Mr. President, I’ve just been to a community that’s the worst goddamn place I’ve ever seen, and I don’t understand how you can allow that to happen.’”
Martin recalled the young assistant asking the president for permission to speak. “Mr. Martin, I went to McGill University,” the African aide said. “I spent two summers up north and I can take you to communities that are much worse than anything you will see in this country.’”
The Third World is right in our own back yard.
The hunger strike by Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence could go in any number of directions, and the Idle No More movement (in which Spence’s hunger strike is embedded) may turn out to be a flash in the pan. Or the movement may become a beacon for a generation of younger First Nations people navigating the dual rocks of self-victimization and state paternalism.
Idle No More was galvanized by the Conservative omnibus budget Bill C-45, which critics say terminates federal oversight of waterways and abrogates treaty rights by assisting the sale of reserve land without consultation.
With its official statements about preserving and protecting Mother Earth, Idle No More is reminiscent of a recent movement from further south. You have to go back to November of 2001, when the U.S. firm Bechtel sued Bolivia for $25 million for cancelling a contract to manage the water system of Cochabamba, the third largest city in Bolivia. Incredibly, the new restrictions had barred the collection of rainwater from rooftops to permit holders only.
For years, the World Bank had pressured Bolivia to privatize its state enterprises. The transnational Bechtel was one beneficiary of this strong-arming, until huge price hikes for water access inflamed protests across the country. The dark-skinned socialist Evo Morales, who led the massive protests, took office after the white-skinned, U.S.-endorsed presidential candidate hightailed it to Washington, D.C. (Morales joined the growing list of Latin American leaders with indigenous roots. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was the first and most notable.)
Bechtel dropped its suit in 2006. In 2010, Bolivia passed “The Law of the Rights of Mother Earth” (Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra). Translated from Spanish, the Bolivian law states: “She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb. She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings and their self-organization.”
Bolivia was inspired by the example of its neighbour Ecuador, two years earlier. “Nature has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution,” the Ecuadorian constitutional amendment states. The government must take “precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles.”
If the above is news to you, you’re not alone. Project Censored deemed the Ecuadorian story number 18 in its Top 25 Censored Stories of 2009.
“It’s going to have huge resonance around the world,” Canadian activist Maude Barlow said when Bolivia tabled the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth before the UN in 2011. “It’s going to start first with these southern countries trying to protect their land and their people from exploitation, but I think it will be grabbed onto by communities in our countries, for example, fighting the tar sands in Alberta,” she told Postmedia.
Harper may be reaping the whirlwind. The interests of average Canadians now appear to be in closer alignment with those of aboriginal people, as indicted by the ethnically diverse protests against Northern Gateway. As for the notion of legal rights for Mother Earth, this isn’t just racial grievance or hippie boilerplate retooled for ambulance chasers. It could turn out to be the cross-cultural equivalent of open-source software: the biggest environmental/legal app of the new millennium, led by cultures that preceded colonizers by thousands of years.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Architect of apartheid

Canada’s support for Israel has taken many forms, but perhaps its greatest gift has been its example

Canada’s support for Israel has a long history, dating back even before Israel was founded. In fact, it was Canada’s own Lester B. Pearson who chaired the United Nations committee that recommended the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel in 1947. Still, there is little question that the diplomatic, military, and economic ties between the two countries have deepened in recent years, coupled with a concerted campaign to stifle criticism of Israel.
The Canadian government’s unbending support for Israel is well known, especially within Palestine solidarity circles across Canada. What is less understood is the basis for this support. While economic and geopolitical ties are certainly important factors, the shared history of Canada and Israel as settler societies is crucial to understanding Canada’s ongoing support for Israel. Simply put, both countries were founded on the forced displacement of Indigenous peoples and the theft of their lands and resources. And in both cases, these colonial processes continue to the present day.
The similar nature of Canada and Israel as settler societies not only serves as a solid foundation for ideological affinity, but is also the basis for shared interests in the realm of international politics as both countries contend with ongoing attempts by their Indigenous populations to seek justice and redress on the world stage.
Read more here.

Food Secure Canada Stands in Solidarity with Idle No More

Food Secure Canada stands proudly in solidarity with our friends, relatives, neighbours and colleagues across this land known as Canada, and around the world, who are organizing and inspired by the Idle No More movement.

Outrageously high rates of hunger (as high as 70% for children in Nunavut to cite one example) and rampant diet-related chronic diseases amongst First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, as well as the destruction of traditional indigenous food systems are a deep concern to Food Secure Canada.

We extend our gratitude and respect to the women who are the heart, soul and backbone of this powerful movement characterized by prayer, ceremony, song, and dance.

We stand with and respect indigenous leaders. With sadness and outrage we recognize that those currently on hunger strikes follow generations of Indigenous mothers who have gone hungry for the sake of their children. Indigenous peoples are literally starving for justice.

The food insecurity and disease that Indigenous communities struggle against every day are symptoms of a deep and tragic dysfunction that rests squarely on the shoulders of Canada's colonial policies of forcible assimilation and resource appropriation. To remove Indigenous People’s traditional means of life and livelihood, undermine their rights to foster traditional food practices such as hunting, gathering and fishing, destroy the land and contaminate the water that have sustained them since time immemorial, and blame them for their resultant poverty and disease, are tragic abuses of human rights, dignity and justice.

We stand with Idle No More and call upon the Government of Canada to remedy its historical and current policies of colonization, assimilation and destruction, and work with each Nation to define and engage in an appropriate relationship based on respect and responsibility and full recognition of the right to self-determination.

Healing and rebuilding contemporary relationships between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian government and honouring original nation-to-nation agreements are crucial steps towards achieving food sovereignty and food security for all.

Food Secure Canada is a national membership based network working towards zero hunger, healthy and safe food and sustainable food systems.  Our vision for food sovereignty is laid out in Resetting the Table:  A People’s Food Policy for Canada.  The People’s Food Policy includes strong support for Indigenous Food Sovereignty (see in particular pages 10-12 of Resetting the Table).

Adopted by Food Secure Canada's Steering Committee January 9, 2012.

Monday, January 7, 2013

U.S. Spends More On Immigration Enforcement Than FBI, DEA, Secret Service Combined

by Jorge Rivas, Monday, January 7 2013.

The federal government spends more on immigration enforcement than it does on the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, US Marshalls, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives combined, a new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report released today finds. 
The report also found that more people are detained each year in immigration detention facilities than are serving sentences in federal prisons.
Among the report’s other key findings:
  • More than 4 million non-citizens, primarily unauthorized immigrants, have been deported from the United States since 1990, with removals rising from 30,039 in FY 1990 to 391,953 in FY 2011.
  • Fewer than half of the non-citizens deported from the United States are removed pursuant to a formal hearing before an immigration judge, with the majority removed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via its administrative authority.
  • The nearly 430,000 non-citizens detained in the immigration detention system in FY 2011 exceeded the number serving sentences in federal Bureau of Prisons facilities for all other federal crimes.
  • Immigration enforcement spending has totaled nearly $187 billion in the 26 years since IRCA ($219 billion in 2012 dollars).
  • Spending on CBP, ICE and DHS’s primary immigration enforcement technology initiative, the US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, reached $17.9 billion in FY 2012. In comparison, total spending for all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies (the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) stood at $14.4 billion in FY 2012. 
“There has been an historic transformation of immigration enforcement into a highly resourced, robust infrastructure,” said Muzaffar Chishti, one of the report’s co-authors. “This modern-day system extends well beyond U.S. borders to screen visitors against multiple intelligence and law enforcement databases before they arrive and also reaches into local communities across the country via partnerships with state and local law enforcement, information sharing and other initiatives.”
In response, National Day Laborer Organizing Network attorney Jessica Karp made the following statement:
“With shrinking budgets and increasingly rampant civil rights violations in the name of ‘immigration enforcement’, today’s study is a wake up call to our legislators. That the US spent almost $18 billion last year to detain immigrants and separate families for violating immigration laws that are widely recognized as outdated and impractical shows just how far anti-immigrant fervor has gone in spawning backwards priorities in Congress. 2013 should be the year that the administration invests in public safety and family unity by disinvesting from dead-end programs like Secure Communities.”

The Invisibles: Migrant Workers in Canada

Reports of exploited foreign temps have grown as fast as the federal program. First in a series.
By Krystle Alarcon, Today,
They hand you a soothing cup of Tim Hortons, pack frozen beef in factories, pick blueberries and apples on Abbotsford farms, serve fast-food meals and wipe tables, excavate mines and drill for oil in Western Canada, and raise your kids as if they were their own. Typically paid far less than Canadians, unprotected by labour laws, and disposed of when their contracts end, these migrant labourers have become ubiquitous while remaining all but invisible.

Under the Conservative government, the pool of migrant labour has expanded rapidly with almost no public discussion or oversight -- yet who benefits, and at what cost?

There were 300,111 migrant workers in Canada in 2011-- a more than three-fold increase over the previous decade. Another 190,769 entered that year, creating a temporary foreign workforce of nearly half a million. In 2010, the government accepted one and a half times more migrant workers than permanent Canadian residents.

Migrant workers have been cycling in and out of Canada since 1972, when the Non-Immigrant Employment Authorization Program was introduced. In 2002 it expanded to become theTemporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to service the oil and gas industries in Alberta.

Since the Conservative government of Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, the TFWP has expanded rapidly, becoming an unseen pillar of Canada's economic policy. That year, migrant workers admitted to Canada exceeded permanent residents for the first time. And for the first time, employers no longer had to advertise for a minimum of six weeks on a national job bank before being granted permission to hire a migrant, but could do so after just seven days. The shortened processing was a gift to employers, who were allowed to designate workers they needed under "Occupations Under Pressure."

Read more here.


by Paul, January 4, 2013
© 2013 Paul Kellogg, published with permission.
Paul Kellogg is a teacher, researcher and writer at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada. His focus is political economy (international and Canadian), globalization and social movements. 
The tar sands development in northern Alberta is an ecological nightmare, and an insult to indigenous land rights. This nightmare and this insult are profoundly Canadian – shaped by Canadian corporations and Canadian government policies. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency by some in the movement to try and “off-shore” the problem, shifting the blame, in particular to China. This has no basis in fact, and opens the door to a nasty politics of xenophobia.
Listen to the rhetoric. Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, rightly highlighted concerns about a trade deal between Canada and China. But she irresponsibly raised the stakes, saying that, as a result of the deal, Canada would “become the resources colony in that context” (Scoffield, 2012).
Nikki Skuce from B.C.-based ForestEthics Advocacy, in a report on the tar sands that is receiving wide circulation, similarly argued that “Canada is about to move one step closer to being a resource colony for China” (2012a). She bases this claim on the assertion that “the vast majority of tar sands production is not owned by Canadians,” and focuses on the growing role of “rising Chinese Investment”. The combination, she says, is “positioning Canada as China’s resource colony” (Skuce, 2012b).
May and Skuce are quite wrong. Targeting an Asian country as “the problem” should set off alarm bells – particularly when that targeting takes place in British Columbia, a province with a noxious history of “yellow peril” politics. China might be undergoing a massive industrial revolution, but it remains a society far more impoverished than Canada.
More seriously, the term “colony” should not be used lightly. It is a very heavy term, loaded with meaning. For China in the 19th century, the encounter with European colonialism, meant the horrors of the Opium War (1839-1842), the Arrow War (1856-1858, sometimes called the Second Opium War), the resulting disintegration of social order in the 1850s and 1860s, and the subsequent carving up of various ports into “concessions” open to the imperialist powers (Dillon, 2010, pp. 29–119).
There is a colonial history in Canada in the same century, but it is not a story about Canada’s subjection by non-Canadians. It is rather a story of colonial violence, carried out by the newly created Canadian state, directed against the Cree, Assiniboine, Métis and other peoples, as Canada used force to consolidate its developing capitalist economy (Ryerson, 1975, pp. 309–423). Canada is not a victim of colonialism, but is rather a colonial power in its own right.
Further, this alarmism about Canada becoming anyone’s resource colony has no basis in fact. Statistics Canada has systematically collected data on all sorts of aspects of “who controls what” in the Canadian economy, going back decades. For oil and gas, we have access to two separate databases. One is from 1954 until 1986 (based on percentage of capital employed in petroleum and natural gas), and the other is from 2000 until 2010 (based on percentage of assets in oil and gas extraction and support activities).
The story told by these statistics is quite straightforward: Canadian control of the oil and gas industry is steadily increasing.
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