Syria, C-51, Civil Liberties and 9/11: Interview with Media Mornings

This morning I went on Vancouver Co-op Radio and W2Media’s Media Mornings with Irwin Oostindie to talk about our work at Voices-Voix, the federal elections and civil liberties in Canada. We talked about how there’s been little to no focus on refugees and migrants (until this week), C-51, civil liberties, women’s rights or Indigenous issues so far in this federal election campaign. It being the anniversary of 9/11, we talked a bit about that too.

Take a listen to the interview below, or listen to the full show here.

It also made me think of how many resources are appearing to help shed light on these issues throughout the election campaign, but aren’t necessarily receiving the focus they deserve. I meant to mention the incredible site from No One Is Illegal, but ran out of time. Check it out. And I think a future post will be on some of those resources…

Image by David P. Ball, via W2Media


Rescuing migrants and refugees at sea: private efforts vs. government funding

The above is an incredible and moving video from AJ+. As an increasing number of refugees flee the wars in Syria, across the Middle East (and further abroad), the need to provide protection and aid is of primary importance.

A story of a private foundation taking on the role of patrolling waters and saving lives raises questions, though. I can’t help but feel like this shouldn’t be necessary as a private initiative: that the European Union and other governments should be funding these efforts as a public good and necessity. Reading that the EU cut their funding for search and rescue by two-thirds last year leaves a sickening feeling in my stomach.

At the same time, though, the work of the Migrant Offshore Aid Station and the Catrambone family points to what is maybe a deeper truth: that with such fickle governments that can cut funding at any time, perhaps we need to instead be focussing on people-powered initiatives. They may at times be more precarious that publicly funded services, but are not subject to a change in government or the swaying of public opinion polls, presenting a possibly more long-lasting solution.

Either way, it’s an incredible response to a catastrophic situation, and I hope crowdfunding efforts to add another boat yield results.

Can we afford the cost of the tar sands?

Reflections on participating in the Healing Walk

By Tim McSorley

Syncrude's tar sands plant in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Photo: Tim McSorley
Syncrude’s tar sands plant in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Photo: Tim McSorley

On July 5th and 6th, I traveled from Montreal to Fort McMurray to participate in the fourth annual Healing Walk in the heart of tar sands country, on the rolling, hilly territory of the Fort McMurray First Nation. The Healing Walk isn’t a protest. It is a ceremony, a ceremony led by Indigenous Elders to pray for the healing of the land, as hundreds of us walk the path through just a small section of the tar sands.

I’ve been an editor with The Dominion magazine for about five years now. The first article I wrote for the paper was for our special issue on the tar sands, published in 2007. Since then I’ve read dozens of pages and thousands of words about the tar sands, and pored over hundreds of images of strip mines and tailings ponds. But nothing could prepare me for the magnitude of what we saw.

The morning before we we hit the loop road we would follow around Syncrude’s facilities, two pieces of news stunned the hundreds gathered for the walk: The overnight explosion of a freight train carrying crude oil, destroying the heart of the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec; and the discovery of a five kilometre-long shiny slick in the Athabasca river, on Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation territory, that appeared to be a new oil spill.