Thursday, 27 November 2014

B.C. pipeline-protest case shows how lawsuits threaten democratic voices say Globe&Mail columnists

Some recent news regarding a Canadian concern that's calling for wider debate...

"At 4:00 on November 17, the RCMP read an injunction that had been granted the previous Friday prohibiting members of the public from traversing areas of a Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area.


As a result of the SLAPP suit filed by Kinder Morgan, we now have the RCMP acting at the behest of a foreign oil company to arrest young people, SFU faculty and Coast Salish elders, who are profoundly concerned not just about what more than doubling of the capacity of these pipelines might mean to the region but also about the effects of tar sands bitumen on global climate change more generally..."

See the full column here for more details and commentary.

1.6 Million-Member American Federation of Teachers Bans Coca-Cola

This came to our attention via Campaign to Stop Killer Coke:

- "1.6 Million-Member American Federation of Teachers Bans Coca-Cola Products Citing Child Labor and Human Rights Record," by Corporate Campaign, Inc., November 24, 2014

"Corporate Campaign, Inc. applauds the American Federation of Teachers (AFT, AFL-CIO) for its historic move to ban all Coca-Cola products from its facilities and events, based on Coke's human rights record. The Union calls on affiliates to "participate in campaigns to remove Coca-Cola products from their schools, colleges, hospitals and other places in which they work."

See Stop Killer Coke's Breaking News page, November 2014 for much more information...

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

TorontotheBetter Calls for Solidarity with Murdered Mexican Students

"Somos todos estudiantes"

As Mexicans protest the recent murder of students at the hands of government enabled criminal gangs, social justice supporters from around the world must stand with the students and their allies within and beyond Mexico's borders. As always, our capacity to resist injustice must start with solidarity for its victims. 

TorontotheBetter calls on seekers of a better, a social, economy everywhere to stand with the Mexican people and their murdered students during this critical time. We are all students.

Public Broadcaster Fails the Public. HELLO, The Cancer Epidemic My Have Some Economic Causes

Perhaps It should come as no surprise when the financially beleaguered, and, as a public institution that is hostage to advertising revenue, sadly politically craven, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, is silent about the powerful  interests responsible when they address serious subjects like cancer on its prime-time news programme The National, as it did on Tuesday Nov.25. And it should  come as no  surprise when the increasingly avuncular and vapid Peter Mansbridge [sorry Peter, uncles don’t have to be vapid] continues his sycophantic adulation of experts by declaring the expert panel he has just presided over “a great discussion”. All the experts properly and duly acknowledged at the beginning of what is increasingly, and rightly, referred to as a “show”, that prevention, rather than treatment, is the cure for cancer, but not till deep into the programme did the newly anointed defender of  Canada’s  public healthcare, Danielle Martin of Women’s  College Hospital, suggest that public policy might be relevant to the cancer epidemic. Her main point was the somewhat anodyne, but valid one, that the language of cancer matters. Right there, Danielle.
However often the experts on The National’s cancer panel reiterated the superiority of  prevention to treatment  as the  approach of choice and the importance of not shaming individuals for what was not their fault, i.e. cancer, the deep message of the programme was that there is a culprit for cancer’s inexorable toll, and its called the people, stupid! – that is, stupid, or, maybe as Martin interjected, poor, people who fail to exercise enough or to eat well. OK to shame the public  victim, but not individuals, it seems. As all the expert talk flowed on, one key factor, environmental pollutants and their polluting progenitors warranted not a split second of verbal attention. FTR there are places in the world with high proportions of centenarians and they are far away from polluting industries and the interests that benefit from them, let alone the increasingly stressed workplaces that go with them. One not entirely unconnected error of fact in this regard: cancer has in fact not been with us since time immemorial, i.e. it is not as eternal and omnipresent as the weather – the programme’s clear implication.

No, it should not surprise us when the financially dependent avoid exposing the culpability of their patrons. But disappoint us it should. Where does the public go for truth when its public broadcaster deserts it? Another panel of truth in broadcasting experts won’t do it.  We are left with a handful of marginalized truth-tellers who  frighten advertisers away and will never appear in prime time in major media. No wonder more and more are dying from cancer.  It comes in so many forms.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Maquila Solidarity Network's anti-sweatshop work to end. Gone,maybe,but not forgotten

After twenty years of struggle for workers' rights in sweatshops around the world the Maquila Solidarity Network recently notified supporters including TorontotheBetter that it would be closing its doors. Thanks to MSN and its allies for the differences they have made in many workers' lives over the years. There have been some notable advances for workers over the twenty years but too bad the need for MSN type work has not disappeared, as the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh recently demonstrated. Better cities in Canada and around the world require decent conditions for all their workers. TorontotheBetter calls on people of good will to keep up the pressure on predatory employers at home and abroad.And thanks to MSB volunteer and Libra/TorontotheBetter worker Musonda Kidd for originally alerting us to MSN;s work in the early days.         

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

TorontotheBetter bike stores recognized at 2014 CycleToronto awards

Congratulations to TorontotheBetter directory colleagues Bike Sauce, the Community Bicycle Network and Featherstone Two Wheels Green Delivery who all received awards on November 13 at Cycle Toronto's Toronto Bike Awards. A better Toronto is a more bike-friendly Toronto. The full house at the Bathurst Culture and Arts Centre certainly got the point. In the picture Adrian Currie of the Community Bicycle Network recognizes IWW union member 
Jerry-Lee Miller of CBN for his commitment as a worker to a key Toronto bike-culture builder.    

Social determinants of cancer - Stopping cancer before it starts

In his new book “Stop Breast Cancer Before It Starts” (2013), Dr. Samuel Epstein does it again as he did before, most notably, perhaps, in his 1978 "Politics of Cancer". He blew a whistle on the ineffectiveness of so-called “war against cancer”.   It is fair to ask - in Toronto as elsewhere in much of the world why we are still losing the fight with this epidemic in spite of billions being spent on diagnosis and treatment and why there is so little emphasis put on preventing it from happening in the first place.
Making prevention a priority would mean addressing social issues rather than just advocating lifestyle changes such as diet or exercise and blaming the victims for not getting tested soon enough.  Who is ready to tackle underlining causes of poor health in general:  food and environmental injustice, poverty, inadequate working conditions and corporate irresponsibility?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Fund Raiser Book Sale - Taoist Tai Chi Society

On going book sale until Nov. 27th. Hardcovers and softcovers in great condition for you or for a gift. Fiction and non-fiction, childrens', foreign language, political, new age, novels....

1376 Bathurst St.
Toronto ON
M5R 3J1

(416) 656-7479

Kinder Morgan Legal Defense Fund

Legal Defence Fund
West Vancouver, BC EMERGENCIES
$54,040 of 60k
Raised by 813 people in 16 days
Donate Now
Created November 1, 2014
Gillian Johnstone
$40,000 in three days! We have met our initial goal of covering the legal costs for the hearing this week. Deep gratitude to all who contributed.

We are keeping the page open and setting a new goal towards the continuing legal defence needs of Adam, Lynne, Mia and Stephen in their fight against Kinder Morgan. Phase II starts next week as they begin preparing their defence against the civil suit. We will keep you posted.
A group of dedicated land defenders have been protecting Burnaby Mountain on unceded Coast Salish territories against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. Kinder Morgan has served these land defenders with a $5.6 million dollar lawsuit. This legal defence fund is to support the legal costs for Stephen Collis, Adam Gold,  Mia Nissen and Lynne Quarmby as they defend their rights in the hearings to be held Weds to Friday, November 5-7 at the Supreme Court of B.C., 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver.

Please donate towards the legal costs to challenge Kinder Morgan in the courts.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We have met our initial goal and costs for the injunction hearing taking place this week are now covered. We are keeping the page open with a new goal towards the continuing legal defence of Adam, Lynne, Mia and Stephen in their fight against Kinder Morgan. The first priority will be to cover expenses for their defence against the outstanding civil suit. We don't know how this will play out and what their total expenses will be. Whatever happens, we guarantee that 100% of funds donated will go to legal defense of people fighting against pipelines in B.C.

"How, in a democracy, can someone be charged for occupying public land, and for speaking their mind freely? Last I checked, Canada had a constitution. I believe I am allowed to speak freely about climate change, about our need to alter our course away from fossil fuels, and the need for a public movement against systemic threats to this planet. I do not believe corporations should be allowed to take this freedom away from me or anyone else." - Stephen Collis

“The only world in which it is okay to continue building new infrastructure for fossil fuels with no consideration for climate change is a world where we don’t care about the future, or about other places on the globe, or about disappearing species, or about ocean acidification,”
- Lynne Quarmby

Further Information:
Kinder Morgan has been working to conduct surveys to support and gather information on their Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline Project on unceded and unsurrendered Coast Salish territories. Opposition towards Kinder Morgans Trans Mountain Expansion is one that has been consistantly growing. Leading the opposition to this pipeline are the Coast First Nations.

"First Nations from the lower mainland, Vancouver Island, and Washington State have come together to sign an historic treaty to protect the Salish Sea from tar sands oil and related threats, making the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project illegal under Coast Salish Law" (Sacred Trust Initiative).

Rueben George, from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative stated that, "Kinder Morgan’s expansion project will never get built....We are signing this treaty, not just for our own nations and children, but for the future generations of everyone who makes their homes on our traditional territories,"(Sacred Trust Initiative).

In addition, the Tsleil-Waututh are taking to court the National Energy Board over their process for review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline Project. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation says that, "the federal government and the energy board both failed to adequately consult the band before setting the terms of the review," (Keller, CTV News)

"Opposition to the pipeline expansion has been growing since the company formally filed its National Energy Board application last December, with First Nations communities and environmental groups lining up against it," (Keller, CTV News).

KM attempts to survey have been in preparation for geotechnical testing related to the possibility of boring a tunnel through the western section of mountain for their proposed tar sands pipeline. KM also intends to build a helicopter landing pad on the mountain. The City of Burnaby opposes the pipeline project and has denied the company a permit for the work. In response, KM submitted a request to the National Energy Board (NEB) to confirm their rights to access City of Burnaby public lands. The NEB ruled that federal legislation gives Kinder Morgan the power to enter and conduct surveys and tests on any Crown or private land that lies on their intended pipeline routes. The City of Burnaby has now filed with the Court of Appeals.

"In their response, the National Energy Board did not deny our assertion. Instead, they merely offered an interpretation of Section 73a of the National Energy Board Act. We will, therefore, continue to enforce our bylaws, ensuring that Kinder Morgan does not access Burnaby parkland and the Brunette Conservation area on which they want to perform deleterious actions that would contravene the laws put in place by our City and citizens to protect our parkland," Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan said. “The NEB refused to address the City of Burnaby’s constitutional question,” said Burnaby’s legal counsel, Greg McDade, QC. “By refusing to grant an access order, they ignored the question completely, meaning that Kinder Morgan still cannot access Burnaby’s land without the City’s permission.” The NEB Act does not empower the Board to make orders that override municipal jurisdiction or bylaws. Local citizens are now mobilizing to express our opposition to allowing KM access to our public lands in preparation for building their proposed pipeline expansion. The answer is "NO". Please join us!"- Stop Kinder Morgan on Burnaby Mtn Facebook page

Created by Gillian Johnstone - friend, ally and supporter of Stop Kinder Morgan on Burnaby Mountain.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Public health partners in stores?

When governments shirk a responsibility as basic as public health, as in this period of rabid anti-tax anti-government neoliberalism what can we do?

We have been exposed to many toxins throughout our lives that effect our health in a negative way. These toxins are in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the products we buy, including our food. Therefore it makes sense for stores to educate the  public about harmful effects of many products.

We finally have stores in Mississauga that get this. Our own locally grown Good ness Me Market just opened its doors in the heart of Britannia Village (at Mavis and Bristol).

This is the fourth of the Goodness Me supermarkets (after 2 in the Hamilton-Burlington area)> Started by Janet Jackes from Hamilton, Good ness Me has proved that so-called suburbia does not have to be either a food desert or a home for mega-stores filled with mostly imported ”in-organic” processed foods.  This store is supported by local farm-friendly staff and offers prices lower than those in surrounding supermarkets.

It may be surprising to some that a progressive supermarket like Goodness Me is appearing in traditionally unfashionable suburban locations, but as communications have brought us increasingly closer in recent years  it is truer than ever that we live in one world and none are more privileged than others in making it better. Less important than where improvements come from  is that they come. Because it reaches those like supermarket shoppers, who may be outside the reach of policy messaging, market embedded social economy initiatives have a role to play that cannot be ignored.  
Quality, affordability and public health: it can be done. There is still much to do but Goodness Me makes the point.         

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

TorontoTheBetter members at 2014 EcoFair at the Barns

The 2014 6th annual EcoFair at the Barns includes several TorontoTheBetter members. Namely:

- Birds and Beans: Canada's choice for sustainable coffee, offering the freshest premium organic, shade grown and Fair Trade coffee.

- Community Bicycle Network: a non-profit organization promoting community cycling initiatives within the City of Toronto, including refurbished bicycles and space to practice and learn for bike mechanics.

- Karma Food Co-op: seeking to create a community of actively participating members fostering a healthy connection to the food we eat and the people who grow it, co-operatively educating ourselves on environmental issues, and exercising political and economic control over our food.