Author Archives: Red Power Media, Staff

Demonstration for Black, Indigenous lives sets up at Ottawa intersection

Organizers plan to stay at Laurier and Nicholas until city officials listen to demands

Advocates calling for changes to Ottawa’s budget, police policies and more say they’ll stay at an intersection near the University of Ottawa until the city listens to their demands.

The Day of Action for Anishinabeg and Black Lives is organized by a collection of groups including Justice for Abdirahman, formed after the death of Abdirahman Abdi during a violent arrest in 2016.

They’ve been at the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Nicholas Street since Thursday afternoon and say they plan to be there until the city and police start talking to them about meaningful changes.

“At the end of the day, we want folks to be enraged that they have to take alternative routes,” said Vanessa Dorimain, co-chair for Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition and one of the demonstration’s organizers.

“We want folks to be uncomfortable. We want folks to be inconvenienced, because this is how we feel constantly living in this city and in this province and in this country.”

Dozens of people were at a protest camp in a central Ottawa intersection the morning of Nov. 20, 2020, calling for changes to the city’s policies and budget. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

List of demands

A list of 10 demands shared on social media by Justice for Abdirahman include calling upon city council to vote down a $13.2-million increase to the Ottawa police budget, changing police policies around dynamic entries and mental health call responses and ending racism in schools and the health-care system.

“We’re standing hand in hand together against the injustice that happened within our communities, and also to show the city that we will not take any more police violence,” said Ifrah Yusuf, co-chair of Justice for Abdirahman coalition and another organizer.

Canadians need to also be made aware that systemic racism is not something solely happening south of the border, said Dorimain.

While there was an outpouring of anger after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Dorimain said it’s not the same when there’s similar violence here in Canada.

“I think in Canada, especially, we act as if this doesn’t exist … but I mean, folks, it’s right here. We’re going through this every day right here. Be enraged at home because we’re going through it here,” she said.

“I think that it is a little bit disappointing that I feel like Canadians need to feel or need to see a boot on my neck in order for you to understand that racism is alive and well.”

Vanessa Dorimain, co-chair for Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition, says the group plans to stay at the intersection until a dialogue is started with City of Ottawa officials and police about ending systemic violence and injustice. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

1 injured Thursday

Organizers said one person suffered minor injuries when the driver of a car drove into a line of protesters Thursday afternoon, and were disappointed some people were so impatient they couldn’t wait mere minutes.

They also said the response by police was slow.

“Police do not recognize us as an urgency. They do not protect our bodies. They do not care about our voice. They do not care about us and more importantly not meant to protect us,” said Dorimain.

As of noon Friday, Laurier Avenue was closed between Elgin Street and King Edward Avenue. Nicholas Street was closed from Daly Avenue to Highway 417, meaning drivers can’t get off the highway at the Nicholas exit.

In an email to CBC, the Ottawa Police Service said they were on scene Friday morning directing traffic and “ensuring the safety of those involved.”

Police said they were investigating Thursday’s incident and that there was no timeline for ending the roadblocks.

Organizers say there’s been an outpouring of support from the community who have donated a number of items, including food, coffee, tents and firewood. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

With files from Kimberley Molina

By: CBC News · Posted: Nov 20, 2020

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Minnesota grants key permits for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline project

FILE – In this June 29, 2018 file photo, pipeline used to carry crude oil is shown at the Superior terminal of Enbridge Energy in Superior, Wis. AP Photo/Jim Mone

Minnesota regulators granted a stack of important permits and approvals Thursday for Enbridge’s planned Line 3 pipeline replacement across northern Minnesota, setting the long-delayed US$2.6-billion project on the road toward beginning construction soon.

The approvals from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources clear the way for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue the remaining federal permits, which is expected to happen fairly quickly. The MPCA could then approve a final construction storm water permit that’s meant to protect surface waters from pollutant runoff.

“The MPCA has used sound science and thorough analysis to ensure that necessary safeguards are in place to protect Minnesota’s waters,” Commissioner Laura Bishop said in a statement, adding that the certification “requires Enbridge to meet Minnesota’s extensive water quality standards instead of lower federal standards.”

Environmental and Indigenous groups have been fighting the project for years. They contend it threatens pristine waters where Indigenous people harvest wild rice and that the oil it would carry from the Canadian oilsands would aggravate climate change.

“The science is clear that Line 3 would threaten Minnesota’s clean water and set back our state’s progress on climate at a time when we can least afford it,” Margaret Levin, director of the Sierra Club’s Minnesota chapter, said in a statement that raised the possibility of further legal challenges.

But Calgary-based Enbridge welcomed the approvals, saying in a statement that it recognizes that the permit conditions required by the two state agencies “are essential for protecting Minnesota’s sensitive streams and wild rice waters.”

Line 3 — which runs from Alberta across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wis., — was built in the 1960s, but it’s deteriorating and can run at only about half its original capacity.

Enbridge says replacing it will allow it to move oil more safely while creating 4,200 construction jobs and generating millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenues. The updated sections in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin are already operating. But the Minnesota segment has been working its way through regulatory agencies and the courts for six years.

Still pending is a court appeal from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which contends that Enbridge failed to conduct a legally adequate long-range demand forecast. The independent Public Utilities Commission, which is overseeing the project, has rejected that argument several times.

The administration of Gov. Tim Walz has come under fire from Line 3 supporters for pursuing the challenge; now it faces criticism from opponents for Thursday’s approvals.

“It’s clear now that Gov. Walz’s wish for Line 3 to have ‘a social permit’ was all talk and no action. This is a deeply unpopular pipeline that is a disaster for our climate, and it will be fought every step of the way,” said Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands Co-ordinator for the climate change group MN350.

The regional council of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, one of the unions whose members would build the project, said in a statement that it expects construction to begin next month.

Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner wouldn’t confirm that date but said the company plans to begin construction as soon as it has the final authorization and permits in hand. Construction would then take six to nine months.

By Steve Karnowski The Associated Press, Posted November 12, 2020

[SOURCE]

Election result expected for Mi’kmaq reserve that launched tense lobster fishery

File: Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack.

HALIFAX — A Mi’kmaq chief who has battled for his band’s treaty right to fish lobster in southwestern Nova Scotia is expecting to hear today if he’s been re-elected.

Mike Sack is the incumbent in the community of Sipekne’katik, formerly known as Indian Brook, located about 65 kilometres north of Halifax.

Heather Knockwood and Kim Paul are the other candidates for chief in the community of about 2,770 people, and there are 36 people running for 12 council seats.

Sack gained national prominence after he officially opened a “moderate livelihood” fishery for his community on Sept. 17 in Saulnierville, N.S.

The band has argued the fishery is permitted by a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision based on treaties signed by the British Crown in the early 1760s.

A clarification of the decision in the Donald Marshall Jr. case says that Ottawa may regulate based on conservation, and if the infringement on the treaty is justified.

Sack has faced strong criticisms from non-Indigenous protesters who’ve said they are opposed because the fishery is operating outside the regulated season and may have a negative impact on lobster stocks.

A spokeswoman for the band said Tuesday that 982 ballots have been cast of the 2,000 eligible voters, with 772 people voting in person and 210 ballots received by mail.

The campaigning began 30 days ago with nominations in the midst of the startup of the St. Marys Bay fishery.

Sack has spent 10 years on council and if elected this will be his third term as chief, which carries a term of two years.

By The Canadian Press, Published Nov. 3, 2020.

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Judge dismisses defamation claim by Dakota Access protester

Photo by Rob Wilson.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed part of a lawsuit by a New York City woman who was severely injured in an explosion while protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota four years ago.

In a 54-page ruling issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor dismissed claims of defamation against law enforcement officials who made public statements blaming the woman for her own injury.

Sophia Wilansky, who was 21 at the time, suffered an arm injury in a violent November 2016 clash between protesters and police during the unsuccessful months-long protest in southern North Dakota against the pipeline.

Protesters allege the blast was caused by a concussion grenade thrown by officers, but law enforcement said it was caused by a propane canister that protesters rigged to explode.

Wilansky’s lawsuit filed two years ago also seeks millions of dollars for alleged excessive force, assault, negligence and emotional distress. Those parts of the lawsuit are still pending.

Traynor, who is based in Bismarck, sided with government attorneys who argued statements about news events released to the public by law officers as part of their official duties are entitled to immunity.

Government lawyers also argued that Wilansky’s father, Wayne, had given interviews to the news media giving her side of the story.

Attorneys for Sophia Wilansky did not immediately return telephone calls Monday.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners built the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline to move oil from the Dakotas through Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois, which it began doing in June 2017.

Thousands of opponents gathered in southern North Dakota in 2016 and early 2017, camping on federal land and often clashing with police. Hundreds were arrested over six months.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposed the pipeline over fears it would harm cultural sites and the tribe’s Missouri River water supply — claims rejected by the company and the state.

By James MacPherson, Associated Press.

[SOURCE]

Canadian military wants to establish new organization to use propaganda, other techniques to influence Canadians

Minister of National Denfence Harjit Sajjan (C) and Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance (R) listen as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) speaks during a news conference January 9, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada. PHOTO BY DAVE CHAN / AFP

The plan comes on the heels of the Canadian Forces spending more than $1 million to train public affairs officers on behaviour modification techniques

The Canadian Forces wants to establish a new organization that will use propaganda and other techniques to try to influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of Canadians, according to documents obtained by this newspaper.

The plan comes on the heels of the Canadian Forces spending more than $1 million to train public affairs officers on behaviour modification techniques of the same sort used by the parent firm of Cambridge Analytica, as well as a controversial and bizarre propaganda training mission in which the military forged letters from the Nova Scotia government to warn the public that wolves were wandering in the province.

The new Defence Strategic Communication group will advance “national interests by using defence activities to influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of audiences,” according to the document dated October 2020. Target audiences for such an initiative would be the Canadian public as well as foreign populations in countries where military forces are sent.

The document is the end result of what Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance has called the “weaponization” of the military’s public affairs branch. The document is in a draft form, but work is already underway on some aspects of the plan and some techniques have been already tested on the Canadian public.

But the office of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Sunday that the plan, at least for now, is not authorized to proceed. Sajjan has raised concerns about some of the activities related to such influence and propaganda operations. “No such plan has been approved, nor will it be,” Floriane Bonneville, Sajjan’s press secretary, said after being asked by this newspaper about the initiative.

But a series of town halls were already conducted last week for a number of military personnel on the strategies contained in the draft plan.

The report quotes Brig.-Gen. Jay Janzen, director general military public affairs, who stated, “The motto ‘who dares, wins’ is as applicable to strategic communication as it is to warfare.”

The initiative also proposes the creation of a new research capability established to analyze and collect information from the social media accounts of Canadians, non-governmental organizations, industry and the news media, according to the report.

The Canadian Forces have already tested that capability earlier this year. This newspaper reported that a team assigned to a Canadian military intelligence unit monitored and collected information from people’s social media accounts in Ontario, claiming such data-mining was needed to help troops who were to work in long-term care homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

That initiative, aimed at people’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, involved collecting comments made by the public about the provincial government’s failure to take care of the elderly. That data was then turned over to the Ontario government, with a warning from the team it represented a “negative” reaction from the public.

Military officers see nothing wrong with such collection of data as it is already in the public domain on social media accounts. They concede the team should not have been assigned to military intelligence, but under the new plan it will be controlled by the military’s public affairs branch.

But others have questioned how collecting information on the public’s views concerning Ontario Premier Doug Ford was even relevant to how the Canadian Forces were to care for elderly residents. In addition, concerns have also been raised on why the military turned over such data to Ford’s government and what became of it.

Sajjan requested an investigation be done into the data collection and has also limited at least temporarily some of what the military calls influence activities.

The military, however, noted in the plan that it will consult the federal privacy commissioner before it launches its collection of Canadians’ online information.

The public affairs enhancement plan reflects the military leadership’s view they can shape and direct the attitudes of Canadians if the right techniques are applied. “Defence StratCom will focus on effects and outcomes among key audiences and will provide clear direction on aligning actions, efforts and resources in pursuit of strategic objectives,” the plan added.

Some in the Canadian Forces already attempted to conduct a trial run of such techniques.

This newspaper reported in July the military had planned a propaganda campaign aimed at heading off civil disobedience by Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic. That campaign was to use similar propaganda tactics to those employed against the Afghan population during the war in Afghanistan, including loudspeaker trucks to transmit government messages. The propaganda operation was halted after concerns were raised about the ethics behind such techniques.

The public affairs enhancement plan also calls for harnessing the social media accounts of select Canadian Forces staff to push out pre-approved government and military messages to the public. Although the social media activity would be seen to be coming from the personal accounts of military personnel, it would actually be Canadian Forces public affairs officers behind the scenes crafting and coordinating the messages.

The enhancement plan also calls for improving links to military-friendly academics and retired senior military staff so they can be used to push out approved Canadian Forces messages either on social media or in their interactions with journalists.

Sajjan had originally approved the weaponization of public affairs initiative, started in 2015, along with a separate but significant expansion of military propaganda capabilities for various units. The Liberals outlined in their 2017 defence strategy policy the need for the Canadian military to become more involved in propaganda and information warfare.

But attempts to influence the public haven’t always worked out. Last year, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces planned a public relations campaign to counter what bureaucrats and officers believed were false claims that the military had a problem with racists in the ranks. But that plan had to be scuttled after alleged racists and far-right sympathizers with links to military became involved in a series of high-profile incidents, undercutting the message of the PR scheme that the severity of the issue had been exaggerated.

As part of that PR effort, dossiers were created about journalists the military believed would cover the issue of racists in the ranks, including the CBC’s Murray Brewster. The dossier about Brewster, who has since broken a number of stories about the far-right in the Canadian Forces, contained transcripts of his interviews with senior military staff and the warning, “He’s familiar with the defence system, and his reporting, while factual, often emphasizes the mistakes and shortcoming of DND and the CAF.”

Bonneville said the minister did not and will not authorize the creation of the dossiers on journalists. She did not, however, provide an explanation on why the files were created by Canadian Forces staff.

In addition, under Sajjan’s watch, an invitation-only Facebook page has been created where serving and retired military and DND public affairs staff share information about journalists. There are more than 400 participants on the Facebook page, which is officially supported by the DND.

By David Pugliese • Ottawa Citizen, Published Nov 02, 2020

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