November Actions in Defence of Rights

Toronto rally in support of Standing Rock, November 5 (F. Walker)

Actions in Defence of Rights

Rally Condemns 8th Annual Halifax
International Security Forum

Allan Bezanson speaking at Rally, November 19, 2016.

Halifax's dedicated anti-war activists once again made clear that Halifax is "No Harbour for War," with a militant protest on the occasion of the annual conference of warmongers, the 8th annual Halifax International Security Forum.

Every year, this Washington, DC-based organization imposes itself on Halifax, to give the false impression that Canadians aspire to be a better junior partner to U.S. imperialism, NATO and their war crimes. Far from it. As the recent celebration of 25th anniversary of the film "No Harbour For War" shows, it is the people's resistance to imperialist war and aggression that sets the tone.

"One of our purposes is to build the anti-war movement," said Allan Bezanson, an organizer with the group No Harbour for War that called the action. "But there are so many provocations, be it pipelines, NATO or this forum." Regarding the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the U.S., Allan pointed out, "We know what we were going to face with Hilary Clinton, it remains to be seen what we'll face with Trump. [But i]t doesn't matter who is in power in the United States, they are going to organize these provocations against the world's people."

The protest against the HISF was again held at Cornwallis Park, across from the site of the HISF at the Westin Hotel. The park is named after the founder of the city who is infamous for putting a bounty on Mi'kmaq scalps. Once again, protesters covered his statue and put up sign with the name of the park replaced with "Halifax Peace and Freedom Park." Brad Fougere, one of the two people who covered the statue, said the police seemed "more concerned with the integrity of [Cornwallis'] violent colonial legacy than with our democratic right to challenge that colonial legacy."

Mi'kmaq elder Billy Lewis asked the pointed question, "Security for who?" He added that, "Whenever you hear the word ‘security' you better start ducking."

Halifax's former poet-laureate El Jones read a poem she had written for the occasion, which said in part, "Welcome to the planning sessions of the humane war. These days we don't call it humane war, we call it invasion, we call it responsibility to protect."

"All these struggles, the Indigenous struggle, the struggle against the war on black lives, in the U.S. and here, the struggle against misogyny, the struggle for a decent economy, the struggle against capitalism, which is central, all of these struggles are inter-connected," said Professor Isaac Saney. "We are fighting for a world not only fit for us, but for those who come after us." He denounced the HISF participants as warmongers who are plotting against the peoples of the world and gather in Halifax "under the guise of peace."

As protestors pointed out, the conference brought in various war criminals and arms dealers, as well as corporate CEOs, pundits and monopoly media journalists to hold forth. Participants expressed the need to step up the work to make the slogan of the anti-war, anti-imperialist movement in Halifax -- No Harbour for War -- a reality and prepare the conditions for an anti-war government.

(With files from the Signal, Metro News, Nova Scotia Advocate. Photos: Nova Scotia Advocate, R. Devet, J. Sandham.)

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Toronto Rally and March Demand Housing
as a Human Right

Hundreds of people rallied at Queen's Park in Toronto on November 18 as part of the National Housing Day of Action to demand recognition of housing as a human right and a national strategy to provide it with a guarantee. The action was supported by organizations across the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario that fight for the right to housing and in defence of the most vulnerable.

Canada is a signatory to the 1976 United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which recognizes housing as a human right, but has not had even the pretense of a national housing strategy for decades. The Trudeau Liberal government says it is working towards such a strategy, and released the results of a national housing strategy consultation on November 22. The rally emphasized that what is needed is not empty policy objectives, but immediate action to provide the right to affordable, adequate housing with a guarantee.

Ubana Khalid and Dawn Marie Hairiott, the emcees of the event called for measures to address the housing crisis that exists in Canada. This year, they pointed out, the United Nations reported that Canada is in violation of its commitments under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[1]

In its review, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted a shortage of low-income housing units, lack of homelessness prevention and shortage of shelters, and the brutal housing conditions of Indigenous peoples. The key problem, they said, was the failure of the government to even address these issues.

Speakers shared their personal experiences with lack of access to affordable, adequate housing. A representative of the Workers Action Centre pointed out that many people require multiple jobs to meet housing costs and with a minimum wage of $11.40 per hour are still living below the poverty line. She said that as a university student she was forced to spend months living in shelters while looking for housing. After graduating, her wages were not enough to start paying her student debt, which in turn was used to discriminate against her in finding housing.

An advocate for supportive housing spoke of his personal experience with homelessness and mental health issues. While he said that he felt fortunate to have eventually found supportive housing, where he has spent the past six years, he said the need for supportive housing is far beyond what is available. Some 11,000 people in Toronto alone require such support, he said.

An Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipient said more than 15 per cent of Canadians with disabilities are forced to live in poverty and are in need of safe, affordable, adequate housing. When Canadians speak up for affordable housing for people with disabilities they are speaking up for members of their own families, friends and neighbours and members of their community, the speaker said.

The rally then marched through downtown Toronto, calling out the slogan Fight! Fight! Fight! Housing Is a Human Right! The march ended at Holy Trinity Church, home to a permanent memorial to the hundreds who have died in Toronto living on the street without adequate shelter or housing.


1. See R2H Coalition submission on a national housing strategy here.

2. "New UN report slams Canada for persistent housing & homelessness crisis"

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Carleton Students Oppose University's
Involvement in Criminalizing Dissent

Indigenous sovereignty is not terrorism! Our rights and future are not for sale!
Our security lies in our fight for the rights of all!

Students and community members mobilized on November 15 to protest the closing event of the "2016 Symposium on Security and Infrastructure Resilience" sponsored by Carleton University and its "Infrastructure Resilience Research Group" (IRRG). The Symposium brought together CSIS agents, judges, private security experts and representatives of big energy monopolies to discuss "The Challenges of Dealing with Natural Resource Development Projects and Activism."

The purpose of the Symposium was to train "prosecutors, lawyers, regulators, law enforcement, industry and industry association representatives" in how to use police powers and black ops against "protests targeting critical infrastructure." The two-day Symposium featured five workshops on "the threat environment, relevant legal provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Act [Bill C-51] and other pertinent elements of the criminal code, the prosecutorial experience in cases involving violent acts targeting critical national infrastructure, the adjudication record, and overall lessons learned." The closing event was a Dean's Lecture on campus featuring a federal court judge, a former CSIS deputy director and a cybersecurity expert.[1]

"Critical infrastructure" in this case refers to enormous resource development projects such as the $9 billion Site C Dam and $11.4 billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project in British Columbia and the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States which are facing opposition from Indigenous nations and concerned citizens.

The moderator of the Dean's Lecture, Carleton "Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus" Martin Rudner, was quoted by the Globe and Mail on November 14 about the reasons for holding the Symposium, which he declared to be "domestic extremists." Rudner's example as paraphrased by the Globe was "incidents such as the confrontation three years ago between First Nations demonstrators and RCMP in New Brunswick over proposed shale-gas drilling" and "more militant elements in the indigenous and environmental communities." Rudner even claimed that Iran may be sponsoring "groups that oppose Canadian resource projects."

An open letter issued by students a day after the protest noted, "Activities carried out by the IRRG are not academic and have no place on university campuses. Political problems require political solutions. They require a political process that recognizes Indigenous peoples' sovereignty and rights. Attention should be given to solving problems on a nation-to-nation basis rather than suppressing Indigenous voices." Inside the event, Rudner dismissed the students' actions as a "violent protest" and said that the IRRG and the exercise of police powers was to "protect Aboriginal people from themselves," the letter said.

Students noted that the "critical infrastructure" projects that the IRRG is concerned with are not those critical to the people's well-being, the country's energy needs or the overall health of the economy. They are projects requiring massive state and private investment that are not seen as legitimate and seen by large sections of the people to pose serious dangers. As a result, police powers are deployed to defend the projects and the transportation and sale of resources.

As projects being proposed or built on the territory of Indigenous nations, they are being built without the consent of the sovereign peoples of those jurisdictions. Many Indigenous peoples and Canadians also object to the process for approving such projects, the potential for environmental devastation and the fact that the main beneficiaries will be the powerful private interests given ownership and control. Rather than promoting political solutions on a nation-to-nation basis or recognizing the need for a new direction for the economy, people's opposition and concerns are reduced to an issue of law and order and people are defined by the police powers as "terrorists," "extremists" and "threats to national security."

To oppose the university being used for this illegitimate aim, students vigorously protested, chanting and demanding the event be shut down and its participants leave campus until they complied and ended the event prematurely. The students' message was "Indigenous sovereignty is not terrorism, protestors are not criminals, and activities such as the IRRG Symposium are not welcome at Carleton University." Within four days of the protest, the IRRG had removed any record of the event from its website, as well as the names and biographies of any individual involved in the program. Students are holding further discussions on how to hold the university to account for supporting the IRRG and defend the rights of all.


1. The judge, Simon Noel was responsible in 2010 for upholding the "reasonableness" of the security certificate and plans for deportation to torture of Ottawa resident and refugee from Algeria Mohamad Harkat. Justice Noel's ruling was based on police accounts of taped telephone conversations, the transcripts of which were destroyed by the police. Harkat had been detained without charge from 2002 to 2006, including one year in solitary confinement at the Millhaven prison in Ontario in a facility dubbed Guantanamo North, built specifically for those held under security certificates. Harkat and defenders of rights are currently fighting the latest attempts of the Liberal government to deport him.

For background see "Mohamed Harkat Condemned by a Secret System of ‘Justice,'" Mattew Behrens, TML Daily, December 24, 2010.

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Canadian Demonstrations Uphold Rights of
Resisters at Standing Rock and
Sovereignty of Indigenous Nations

People across Canada and Quebec have stepped up their actions in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux land and water protectors and their supporters in North Dakota. Mass actions have been held in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Sudbury and Calgary in solidarity with the courageous struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters in defence of their sovereignty, their unceded land and water against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). People from all walks of life took part: members of First Nations, students from high schools, colleges and universities, community organizations fighting in defence of the environment and other concerned people.

Elaborating the slogan "Water Is Life," actions affirmed that Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island will not conciliate with the pillaging and polluting of water and soil by energy and mineral monopolies, nor permit violation of their rights, including the right to say No.

The actions expressed profound solidarity based on common struggle to hold governments to account to honour their treaties with Indigenous Nations, to right historical wrongs, for political solutions based on nation-to-nation relations, rejection of the use of force and state violence against those affirming their rights, and opposition to monopoly right to wreak havoc on the social and natural environment. Participants pointed to the involvement of three Canadian banks in funding the DAPL -- TD, RBC and Scotia Bank -- and demanded they divest themselves immediately.

Speakers at all the actions denounced the Trudeau government for carrying on business as usual in its relations with Indigenous peoples. For example, an Elder at the Toronto rally demanded to know how is it possible that despite Liberal promises, close to 90 First Nations communities are still under long-standing boil-water advisories one year after the new government took office? Nor has the Trudeau government done anything meaningful to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, she said.

Camp at Mercier Bridge, Montreal, October 31

Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, October 31

Halifax, November 3

Sudbury, November 3

Regina, November 3

Toronto, November 5

Calgary, November 6

Six Nations, Brantford, November 6

Hamilton, November 7

Montreal, November 7

London, November 9

Montreal, November 15

Six Nations on the Grand, November 16

Montreal, November 22

Montreal, November 23

Montreal, November 24

(Photos: TML, F. Walker, R. Benjamin, C. Evers, C. Cutforth, Many Grey Horses, C. Webb, N. Arbeau, L.R. Parada-Gaiton, K. Batz, P. Glendenning, E. Knox, A. Brant, R. Lemieux, D. Johnson,, G. Bourbonnais,, R.M. Mehreen, Matty C.)

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