June 1, 2009

The President of the United Nations General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockman is convening a critical United Nations conference on 'the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development' on Wednesday June 24 to Friday June 26 at the UN headquarters in New York City.

As noted on the president's website, "The aim (of the conference) is to identify emergency and long-term responses to mitigate the impact of the crisis, especially on vulnerable populations, and initiate a needed dialogue on the transformation of the international financial architecture, taking into account the needs and concerns of all Member States."

Father Miguel has said this summit "must speak to the hundreds of millions across the globe who have no other forum in which they can express their unique and often divergent perspectives.”

June 1, 2009

"I'll be frank with you Frank, I don't know about the passport issue. I thought we were making good progress on using a driver's licence to cross the border. What happened to the easy-pass card?"

~ Former U.S. president George W. Bush answering a question in Toronto from Frank McKenna during a moderated discussion with former president Bill Clinton.

Read my op-ed with Roch Tasse of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group in the June 1 Toronto Star.

Cartoon by Patrick Corrigan for the Toronto Star, May 31, 2009

Cartoon by Patrick Corrigan for the Toronto Star, May 31, 2009

May 31, 2009

The 2010 Winter Olympics will take place February 12-28 and the Paralympics from March 12-21 in Vancouver and nearby Whistler.

The Calgary Herald reports that, "Epcor, based in Edmonton, led the design and construction of the water supply and wastewater facilities at Whistler Olympic Park-Paralympic Park."

Epcor Utilities Inc. is a utility company which manages numerous municipal water and wastewater treatment facilities throughout Alberta and British Columbia.

According to the Edmonton Journal, Epcor "already owns the water system in White Rock, south of Vancouver, and manages several small systems on Vancouver Island."

A Canadian Union of Public Employees-British Columbia fact sheet notes that, "Epcor Water Services continues to promote privatized water and wastewater systems in Alberta and British Columbia."

The Calgary Herald report continues,
"Epcor, which has about 3,300
employees in Canada and the United States, will operate these facilities through the 2010 Winter Games."

May 30, 2009

Civil society and labour groups in Canada and Colombia celebrated a small victory last week when the Harper Conservatives pulled Bill C-23, ratification legislation for the Canada--Colombia Free Trade Agreement, from the order paper without any indication when they would put it back.

Colombia President Alvaro Uribe

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe

The Liberals, it appears, are split down the middle on whether or not to support the agreement based on the continuing human rights disaster on the ground in Colombia. This, and heavy attacks from the NDP and Bloc in the House of Commons last Monday, have forced the Conservatives to rethink their strategy and we may not see the Bill again until the fall (if we're lucky).

May 30, 2009

On page A14 and A15 of today's Toronto Star, reporter Moira Welsh writes, "More than two decades since it was first proposed, (Simcoe) county's newest garbage dump - approved by the Ontario Environment Ministry - is now under construction, with plans to open in the fall."

"Maude Barlow, named the United Nations' senior adviser on water issues and chair of the Council of Canadians has thrown her energy into it, vowing to lead protests at the site throughout the summer."

"Stephen Ogden, volunteer citizen leader of the long fight against Simcoe County's plan to build a waste disposal facility over lush farmland that bubbles with pure water flowing into Georgian Bay ...says the protesters have given up on the Ministry of Environment, which has backed the project for years despite questions about potential for leachate in the water, whether there is a need for a new dump in a province that is leading a charge toward zero waste and why the county's two dormant dumpsites are not being used instead."