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Jun 032013

Write to Turkey's ruler pleading for freedom of assembly.

from Labourstart

The brutal crackdown on protests at the end of May in Istanbul's Taksim Square has shocked the entire world — and triggered a massive wave of protests across Turkey.

A coalition of organizations including trade unions has issued demands which trade unionists everywhere will support.

These include:

  • free all those arrested;

  • drop all charges against them;

  • hold accountable those responsible for the police violence;

  • and lift all bans on meetings and demonstrations.

Please click here to send your message of protest – and spread the word today.

Here is the letter Labourstart asks visitors to modify and send:

Prime Minister Erdogan

I support the demands of trade unionists and others in Turkey  that police violence against protestors must stop, that those responsible must be held accountable, that those who have been arrested must be freed and charges dropped, and that the ban on demonstrations must be lifted.

Yours truly,

Sign this letter on the Labourstart website

May 302013

High operating costs mean phase-out would save $850 million per year.

from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance

The Pickering A Nuclear Station is the highest cost nuclear plant in North America while the Pickering B Station is the 5th highest cost.  The good news is that the operating licences for the aging Pickering reactors expire in 2014 and 2015. Phasing out these high-cost reactors would reduce our electricity bills by $850 million per year or 5 percent.

Continue reading »

May 272013

USW petition calls on federal government to help First Nations leaders address poverty on reserves.

from the United Steelworkers

It is deplorable and unforgivable that any person lives in poverty in a nation as rich as ours. That so many First Nations communities are without safe water or adequate housing is shameful. The government of Canada's ongoing lack of respect for Treaty Rights and for the human and democratic rights of First Nations and aboriginal people must be addressed.

Continue reading »

May 202013

Tell your MP: Keep aid focused on poverty and rights.

from Oxfam

Big changes are under way in Canada's aid program. As part of budget Bill C-60, the federal government plans to merge the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). 

Let’s make sure that ending poverty and promoting human rights remain at the heart of Canada's international development efforts. Please reach out to your Member of Parliament.

Act right now. The House of Commons is due to vote on Bill C-60 very soon.

Visit the Oxfam website to view, modify and sign this letter:

Dear MP:

I am a constituent in your riding and I care about ending global poverty and promoting human rights.

I am concerned about the implications of folding the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) into the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Trade is important for development, but it cannot replace concerted efforts to eradicate poverty and promote human rights.

For the past 45 years, CIDA has supported the work of Canadian organizations to help poor communities gain access to schools and health care, to have enough to eat, and to ensure women and others can exercise their rights.

We have seen the results of this good work. And I want Canada to remain as engaged as I am.

I am asking you to keep poverty reduction and human rights promotion central in Canada’s aid program, and to allocate sufficient resources to fulfill that mandate.

I also would like you to ensure that the many Canadian organizations which have done such good work remain key partners of the federal government in its efforts to end global poverty.

I hope you share these concerns and I kindly ask you to raise these issues in caucus, with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and in the House of Commons.

Thank you very much for your time and support. Please let me know how you follow up on this important issue.


Visit Oxfam's website to send this letter electronically.

May 162013

Abolition is no more complicated than reform, and more permanent.

from Democracy Watch

The Senate is unelected, unaccountable, unrepresentative, secretive, unethical and undemocratic — and a waste of your money.  Many senators have their jobs only because they are friends of, or did favours for, a Prime Minister.  They have their jobs (with you paying their salary) until age 75 even if they do little or nothing.   Democracy Watch argues that shutting down the Senate is the easiest, least costly, and best solution to frequent Senate scandals. Constant, repeated  attempts to clean up the Senate have failed for the past 145 years.

Click here to join with Canadians across the country who want to send a strong message to key politicians. Tell them that you want them to stop playing games and immediately take action to shut down the Senate!

Continue reading »

May 132013

Canada returned army deserter to US to face court martial.

from Amnesty International

Pregnant prisoner of conscience, Kimberly Rivera, will serve 10 months in prison following sentencing at her court martial. She deserted the US army while deployed in Iraq because she felt morally unable to take part in the conflict.

After pleading guilty to desertion at her court martial on 29 April 2013, Private First Class Kimberly Rivera was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, reduced to 10 months under the terms of a plea agreement.  She was also given a bad conduct discharge from the army. She is pregnant with her fifth child.

Continue reading »

May 062013

Omnibus Bill clause would revoke national broadcaster's arm's-length status.

from Sumofus.org

If Prime Minister Harper gets his way, the government will have more control over the CBC than it's ever had in the CBC’s 80-year history. This week, the Harper government snuck sweeping changes to the CBC deep into the last section of the budget — on page 109 — granting it disturbing powers to directly control and interfere with our national broadcaster.

Please sign and share our urgent petition to Prime Minister Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to keep their hands off our national public broadcaster.
Continue reading »

May 022013

Harperites' Omnibus Budget Bill gives government control over what news CBC reports.

from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting

Buried deep in the government’s latest Omnibus Budget Bill is an insidious plan to take control of the lion’s share of CBC spending, a move that will undermine the CBC’s editorial independence.

If this provision becomes law, Stephen Harper will become the ultimate boss at CBC with all employees, including journalists, beholden to him.

This is a move that could turn our national public broadcaster into a politically controlled propaganda machine. It would prevent the CBC from playing its critical role in holding governments of all stripes accountable to Canadians.

The Conservative Broadcasting Corporation?

A majority of the CBC's Board of Directors have contributed financially to the Conservative Party, including Rémi Racine, the Board chair, who gave the Conservative Party of Canada $1,200.00 last year while sitting on the Board.

CBC Board Members

In addition to stacking the Board with Conservative supporters, the Harper government, for the first time, has required the CBC Chair to maintain “effective relationships" with Heritage Minister Moore and his staff as a condition of appointment.

The government is also supporting a private member's Bill (C-471) that would undermine the CBC's competitive position, while some of its MPs have openly mused about ending CBC funding altogether.

We need to Free CBC from political interference.  Please sign the petition now!


Free CBC from Political Interference

To: Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Cc: My Member of Parliament

The CBC must be independent from the government.

That is why I object to the government taking control of the lion’s share of the CBC’s budget. The Prime Minister should not have direct control of the salaries and working conditions of CBC’s journalists and creative staff.

I do not want any politician exercising such control over our national public broadcaster. I urge you to abandon this plan.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
















Visit the Friends of Public Broadcasting to sign this petition online.


You can read all about it here:

Apr 222013

Traditional home remedy popular in impoverished Middle East and Asian communities.

from SumofUs

Nigella sativa — more commonly known as fennel flower — has been used as a cure-all remedy for over a thousand years. It treats everything from vomiting to fevers to skin diseases, and has been widely available in impoverished communities across the Middle East and Asia. But now Nestlé is claiming to own it, and filing patent claims around the world to try to take control over the natural cure of the fennel flower and turn it into a costly private drug.

In a paper published last year, Nestlé scientists claimed to “discover” what much of the world has known for millennia: that nigella sativa extract could be used for “nutritional interventions in humans with food allergy.” But instead of creating an artificial substitute, or fighting to make sure the remedy was widely available, Nestlé is attempting to create a nigella sativa monopoly and gain the ability to sue anyone using it without Nestlé’s permission. Nestlé has filed patent applications — which are currently pending — around the world.

Prior to Nestlé's outlandish patent claim, researchers in developing nations such as Egypt and Pakistan had already published studies on the same curative powers Nestlé is claiming as its own. And Nestlé has done this before — in 2011, it tried to claim credit for using cow’s milk as a laxative, despite the fact that such knowledge had been in Indian medical texts for a thousand years.

This isn't surprising, considering Nestlé has a long track record of not caring about ethics. After all, this is the corporation that poisoned its milk with melamine, purchases cocoa from plantations that use child slave labor, and launched a breast milk substitute campaign in the 1970s that contributed to the suffering and deaths of thousands of babies from poor communities.

But we also know that Nestlé is sensitive to public outcry, and that it's been beaten at the patent game before. If we act fast, we can put enough pressure on Nestlé to get it to drop its patent plans before they harm anyone.  But if we want any chance at affecting Nestlé's decision, we have to speak out now, while its patent claims are still under review.

Thanks for all you do,
Melanie, Claiborne and the team at SumOfUs.org

Tell Nestlé: Stop trying to patent a natural cure!

Don’t let Nestlé turn a traditional cure into a corporate cash cow.

Business Standard, April 4, 2013: Nestlé claims patent on medical use of black cumin or kalaunji
Third World Network (PDF), July 6, 2012:  Food giant Nestlé claims to have invented stomach soothing use of habbat al-barakah (Nigella sativa)

Apr 152013
Leaping salmon.

Election season is here and salmon feedlots are a hot issue. You could make all the difference.

by Alexandra Morton

On October 31, 2012, I launched this petition asking the Premier of British Columbia not to renew salmon feedlot ocean leases due to the threat that European salmon viruses are spreading into the Pacific.

The bad news: Premier Christy Clark still granted the leases. The good news: she only dared renew them for one year.

May is election time in BC.  Salmon feedlots are a hot issue. This means you could make ALL the difference to wild salmon right now.

The NDP said they are looking at the problem of salmon farms on key wild salmon migration routes. The Green Party is running powerful candidates and have said they will revoke licences. The Liberals have offered to stop granting new salmon farm leases in a small area of BC.  All of these new commitments from the parties are a significant step in the right direction.

Here is where you come in – tell these political leaders you support them in removing salmon farms, but you need to know they are serious. We need each party leader to commit to getting salmon farms out of BC's waters. This is the only way we will actually protect our wild salmon.

We will track the commitments the parties make and will make sure you know which parties are making the strongest commitments. This way when you/your friends in BC go to the ballot box, everyone will know which parties deserve our support.

We are a global community and so we also need signatures from outside Canada to remind these leaders it is their responsibility to safe-guard this piece of our world.

Save wild salmon, spread this petition. You may also want to check out Salmonconfidential.ca, the film on the unfolding salmon feedlot scandal in Canada.

Thank you,

Alexandra Morton

Update: It is election time in British Columbia and our politicians are now starting to make commitments to protect our wild salmon from salmon farms. This is the key moment where adding your voice could save our wild salmon forever.

At the website below, you can modify and send the draft letter, which reads:

NDP Leader Adrian Dix, Leader of BC NDP
Green Party Leader Jane Sterk, Leader of the BC Green Party
Liberal Party Leader Christy Clark, Leader of BC Liberal Party
Dear Leaders of the political parties in British Columbia:
Your recent statements acknowledging salmon farms on wild salmon migration routes are a problem are a very good start. I am pleased that you understand I want wild salmon protected from salmon feedlots.
Please make a public statement that you will remove salmon farms from the public waters of the coast of British Columbia so that I can trust that you are serious.

[Your name]

Modify and sign the letter at Change.org