April 17, 2015

English Edition, No. 7

All Out for the Day of Action to Stop Anti-Terrorism Bill C-51!

Defend the Rights of All!
No to Criminalization of Dissent!

All Out for the Day of Action to Stop Anti-Terrorism Bill C-51!
Defend the Rights of All! No to Criminalization of Dissent!

Quebec City Act on Climate March

Over 25,000 Demand an Economy that Protects the Natural and Human Environment

All Out for the Day of Action to Stop Anti-Terrorism Bill C-51!

Defend the Rights of All!
No to Criminalization of Dissent!

The PMLQ calls on everyone to participate in large numbers in the demonstration on Saturday, April 18, to demand the immediate repeal of the Harper government's anti-terrorism Bill C-51. The action is the culmination of the C-51 Week of Education, initiated by local activists and organizations active in the defense of rights in Canada.

Under the guise of fighting terrorism, anti-terrorism Bill C-51 criminalizes dissent and provides the government, through the RCMP and CSIS, with the power to spy, control, arrest, act with impunity and intimidate. According to the bill, any person living in Canada becomes a potential terrorist insofar as the fact of voicing one’s opinion, criticizing the government or its policies, participating in a demonstration or march, taking a stand is targeted by the bill.

With the premise that anything could fall under the scope of the bill if it affects national and economic security and territorial integrity, based on such broad and diffuse definitions, Bill C-51 is a threat to all the peoples of Quebec, Canada, the First Nations, for environmentalists, groups involved in the defense of rights, community organizations, trade unions, etc. and the list goes on. The fact that the current struggles of Quebec students in defense of the right to education, the massive organized opposition against the Couillard government's austerity agenda, or the struggle of the Quebec people for sovereignty could be targeted by C-51 is a source of great concern.

Despite the broad and strong opposition organized across the country, which found expression during the short consultation in the House of Commons, despite the stands taken by political personalities, lawyers, journalists, politicians, First Nations and so many others, the Stephen Harper government is rushing the bill through. It is almost at final reading period before being adopted. The PMLQ is therefore calling upon everyone to do all they can to stop Bill C-51 and contribute to the concerted effort to defeat the Harper government in 2015.

Defeat Harper in 2015!
Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!
Protesters Are Not terrorists!
No Police State in Canada!

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Quebec City Act on Climate March

Over 25,000 Demand an Economy that Protects the Natural and Human Environment

On April 11, more than 25,000 people from all across Quebec, as well as from New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, participated in the Act on Climate March in Quebec City.

Indigenous peoples, high school, college and university students, active and retired workers in the public and private sectors, members of environmental organizations, and communities across Quebec came to say they want economic development and political decisions that protect the environment and human beings.

The placards, banners and speeches clearly demonstrated opposition to any development that destroys nature and Mother Earth, that damages the natural environment and communities for narrow interests and harms people, their health and their lives.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit people from Quebec and Canada stood at the head of the demonstration which marched three kilometres to the Quebec National Assembly.

Present at the march were residents of Baie-des-Sables in Gaspésie, where the monopoly TransCanada now wants to build its oil port after its failed plan to build the Cacouna port to ship oil received via pipeline from the tar sands. Also present were residents of Anticosti Island opposed to fracking on the island.

The march was held in a festive and resolute atmosphere and at the National Assembly marchers formed a giant thermometer with red cards held high to demand responsible action be taken on climate change, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect communities.

Speakers from the First Nations, environmental organizations, communities and unions all expressed that the times are calling for the unity of all to stop the degradation of the natural and human environment.

In conjunction with the Quebec city action Climate Action marches and other actions were held in Victoria, Vancouver, Fort Langley, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Peterborough, Moncton, Saint John, Bridgewater and Halifax.

Act on Climate Forum

The Act on Climate Forum was held on April 12, the day after the Act on Climate March. The Forum was convoked by several environmental organizations and trade unions in order to develop collaboration among environmental groups, First Nations, trade unions and residents' associations to stop the destruction of the environment and build an economy that protects the natural environment and human beings.

The Forum was organized in the context of the April 14 Council of the Federation meeting on climate change, the 2015 federal election and the Paris Conference on Climate Change to be held in December. More than 150 people from all backgrounds attended the Forum, which consisted of panels with representatives of environmental organizations, First Nations and unions followed by discussions and a plenary session.

The opening speech was delivered by Ghislain Picard, Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Quebec/Labrador. Picard said that although First Nations have contributed very little to climate change, they are among those who experience its most dramatic effects because of the aggressive activities of oil and gas monopolies on their lands and the federal government's attacks on their rights and sovereignty.

"Despite the legal obligation of consultation with our communities, which are directly affected by the development, there is still no legal framework in the Constitution of Canada that recognizes the principles of free and informed consent and the right of First Nations peoples to say no to a proposed development. In 2010, Canada signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples but it still has not ratified the declaration into law and continues to object to the principles of free and informed consent in the statement."

Following the opening remarks, panels and discussion were held on government climate change policies, a Canada-wide energy policy that would support the environment, and an equitable transition program toward renewable energy sources.

The common theme in all the interventions was that economic development based on oil and gas, and more generally on the indiscriminate extraction of natural resources, is not sustainable for the natural environment and human beings. Several panelists addressed the continued expansion of the oil sands, referring to it as "the elephant in the room."

Statistics were presented by various experts: The oil sands represents 2 per cent of Canada's GDP but contributes 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, they said. The oil sands contribute 73 per cent of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which, according to one panelist, has increased 18 per cent in Canada since 1990. Participants were informed that if the expansion of the oil sands is not restricted, greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands will exceed the emission of 85 countries combined by 2020. Several panelists said that the current opposition expressed by the Quebec people to the TransCanada Energy East pipeline plays a key role in stopping the expansion.

The presentation by environmentalist Tzeporah Berman was one of the most appreciated, especially when she gave her opinion on what is necessary to change the situation. "We must cap oil sands production at current levels, make it cleaner and make the transition to renewable energy by using revenues from the oil sands in the development of these energies," she said. "We must tackle the current impacts, respect areas where First Nations say that this production must not take place and respect their treaty rights. We must establish environmental markers based on science and future developments must be made within these markers as defined by science. We must put an end to the highway robbery where these large companies that are among the richest in the world pay royalties that are among the lowest in the world and where the federal government funds big oil and gas companies by up to $1.8 billion a year."

Under the theme of Equitable Transition, the broad strokes of several aspects were illustrated. These included the involvement of workers and the defence of their living and working conditions; the development of healthy economic activities from an environmental point of view such as public transport, solar energy, etc.; and the need for community-controlled pro-environmental economic projects.

A lively discussion took place about how an economy that protects the environment cannot be guaranteed by the dominance of private monopolies under neoliberal globalization. The question was posed as to whether public enterprises can be built that provide different objectives -- namely, industries and economic activities that defend and improve the natural and human environments. Further, if public enterprises were built for this purpose, would they not fall under the scope of prosecution under the mechanisms for investor protection in free trade agreements?

The question of defeating Harper was also the focus of several presentations and discussions. Representatives of the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ), the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) and Concordia students said that the changes necessary to defend the environment and the rights of the people demand the the defeat of the Harper government in the next election.

"The Forum's theme is for unity to make the necessary changes for the environment. We must all unite, regardless of political affiliation, ideological positions, national origins and any other considerations, to defeat the Harper government and establish an anti-war government that defends the natural and social environment," said Pierre Chénier, leader of the PMLQ. He gave the example of the Harper government's anti-terrorism Bill C-51 which considers anything that undermines "Canada's economic stability" or its "territorial integrity" or "critical infrastructure" as threats to Canada's security. The bill targets environmentalists and First Nations along with workers and political activists who defend the natural and social environment, he said. "When Air Canada, CP and CN workers went on strike or wanted to go on strike to defend their rights and security they were criminalized in the name of Canada's economic stability," Pierre said. "These struggles are already criminalized but now they are putting measures in place as part of an anti-terrorism law. We are all targeted and we will never accept it, neither for ourselves nor for future generations," he concluded.

Several questions were raised in the plenary session, including the safety of communities through which trains transport crude oil, and the use of workers' pension funds to finance oil sands production.

FTQ General Secretary Serge Cadieux and Joanna Kerr, Executive Director of Greenpeace, presented the Forum's closing remarks, saying that the Forum shows we are at a pivotal moment in the development of a different, pro-environmental economy, and that everyone must work together to make it a reality.

(Photos: Chantier Politique, L. Lanteigne, M. Hudema, FTQ)

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