Thursday, November 12, 2015

Where's the line?



Where’s the Line?

The Keystone XL saga and TPP drama

Welcome readers!  We’re going to cover some trade talk and resource deals that have significant weight on the international stage. Yes, something in business has finally made its way from the rubbish bin to The PS Buzz items of interest tray.  

Highlights will include Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) discussion and the possible ending of the Keystone XL pipeline project.  Excited?  You should be!

You may be wondering why the Buzz has decided to group these two topics together.  The answer is because we generally do what we want, and felt like both were topics that readers would likely fall asleep with.  Therefore, it seemed like jamming two boring things together might be the best way to cover this subject.



Our logic is undeniable

In 2015 the Obama administration rejected TransCanada’s proposal for a bi-national pipeline project.  Negotiations spanned seven years and had gained significant public spotlight.



The Keystone XL Pipeline would have stretched from oil sands in Alberta Canada to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast.  The resource transport system would have meant billions in revenue for the North American economy.  However, it also would have meant jeopardizing ecosystems and promoting a questionable energy infrastructure.

This project is still being considered for future review, which is why it is of interest to The Buzz.  The XL pipeline saga has lasted nearly a decade, however with it hopefully coming to a final conclusion we can address the reasons this project isn’t viable:

-          Canadian crude oil is extracted using environmentally questionable practices
-          Pipelines, like rail or tanker trucks, are fickle when it comes to transporting large volumes of oil.  Spills happen.
-          Investing in oil infrastructure is counter intuitive to sustainable & renewable energy goals modern countries strive towards
-          Oil prices have dropped below the desired rate of return for oil-sand product, making it even less desirable for North American markets.    

For more on the XL pipeline please follow links provided!

That’s all we’ll say on the XL story.  It’s not that there isn’t more to cover, there’s actually quite a bit of information available for public review.  This project was meant to be the resource connector North American markets wanted and needed.  Turns out what the market wants and needs isn’t a big pipe that carries one type of resource.

Hopefully, this actually IS the end of the project, and this whole thing will blow over into a funny idea North America had in the 2000’s.

Shifting gears, it’s time to talk about another funny thing that happened in the 2000's, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Yes, the TPP won’t let us be, let us be us, so let us see..



Moving on, the TPP is a grandiose proposed trade agreement designed as an approach to multi-national economic policy.  It’s grandiose because it will likely be quite some time before we see agreements of this magnitude again.

The agreement aims to promote economic growth and prosperity, lower trade barriers, reduce poverty, cure the zombie virus, solve the energy crisis, and bring Elvis back from the dead.



It covers a lot of things, and the goals of it are rather questionable, mainly because during the seven years (seven years -that number seems to be coming up a lot) this agreement has been negotiated, the majority of public review has been through wiki leaks.

However, on November 5, 2015 the general public was finally given total access to the completed agreement.  Dairy farmers in Canada to automotive manufacturers in Japan to a little old lady picking up a drug prescription, a lot of people will be impacted by the agreement.


Back door delays regarding agriculture concerns and intellectual property rights have been among previously leaked documents.  Protesters have spoken out quite often (see protesters disrupt TPP senate hearing), however, now the final document has arrived.


In October 2015, previous Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the TPP should be signed and official by next year.  

Eight years is a considerable amount of time.

When this document was created it’s quite likely that global concerns and goals were slightly different than today.  In 2008: China hosted the Olympics, terrorism in Mumbai, Obama was elected President of the US, and global economy was pooh.  


Currently, the Obama term is soon ending and the 2016 Olympics will be held in Brazil. 

The TPP is finally out for the people, so it may be necessary to familiarize ourselves with at least portions of it.  It’s not a menacing document, however it is fairly intimidating to think that a group of economists sat in a room and devised the best practices procedure for multiple nations.

It’s still in its puppy stage and will likely take some time to get used to.  Maybe when a generation or two grows up with it the implications will be more noticeable.  Currently it is what it sounds like a lot of trade talk for international partners.

The PS Buzz will end it here, there’s plenty o’ links if there is more on these topics that you wish to investigate.

Keystone XL pipeline:

CBC: Barack Obama rejects Keystone XL pipeline- http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/keystone-xl-pipeline-obama-1.3307440

TransCanada (Keystone XL pipeline)- http://keystone-xl.com/




TPP links:




Anti-trade deal protesters hijack senate TPP hearing- https://www.rt.com/usa/226791-hatch-froman-tpp-protest/



Friday, November 6, 2015

Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada: Issue Four



Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada


Issue Four: Falling into Action
November 2015

Welcome to the fourth installment to the Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada series.  Apologies for the tardiness, the PS Buzz has been busy researching & fact checking for the constant reader, to ensure top of the line content we’ve had to take our time.  Truth be told, this article sat on the desk for quite a while.



It should be noted that this series is meant to be serious, and we understand if some readers are turned off, but the issues being analyzed are not light issues.  Right, that’s our disclaimer.

Now, it’s time to look at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future report from early 2015.



The TRC 2015 report outlines the injustice and mistreating of individuals exposed to Canadian residential schools.  Please see the links at the bottom of this article to find out more.  It’s a rather comprehensive report, so a pot of tea may be required.

A little background on the early beginnings of residential schools in North America:

Indian Residential Schools (from here on out they’ll simply be referred to as residential schools) was an institution that began in North America during the late 1800’s.  



In 1857, one of the first acts in Canada was developed (pre-confederation), the Gradual Civilization Act- like many of the treaties set into motion at that time- would set the foundation for Canadian/Aboriginal affairs.



 The GCA had quite a few goals for how the early natives were to be recognized by the future Canadian government.  We have more to share, so we’ll just let you know that this was the start of assimilation at a cultural level.

The follow up to the GCA, is the more well known Indian Act (first passed in 1876) which would be the definitive legislature for how Canada would recognize native bands.  The current Indian Act of Canada is still receiving amendments and continues to dictate how the state is to interact with the First Nations Bands in Canada.   

During the early push for assimilation, Canada decided certain things were necessary for someone to be Canadian.  In general- for aboriginal peoples- it meant control over the culture privy to them (students of residential schools were required to learn colonial languages and ideologies, and not allowed to practice their own.)



We’ll keep this section brief, however to say that Canada ignorantly disregarded Canadian Aboriginal peoples culture is not far from the truth.

The TRC focuses heavily on the cultural genocide that existed up until the late 1960’s, however the last residential school officially shut down in 1996.  During this time, the residential schools were still considered a social support system for native communities.  The religious based education was often considered an important social service.

Sadly, this service would lead to a mortality rate of 30-60% for students, depending on the school.  It’s estimated that at least 3,000 students died due to the living conditions of these institutions.



There is more that can be said, but it’s advised that if the constant reader wishes to find out more on this piece of Canada’s history the TRC has all of its documents posted online (PDF in all of its glory!)

We’ll end thoughts on the TRC with a statement made in the closing of the report:

“The urgent need for reconciliation runs deep in Canada. Expanding public dialogue and action on reconciliation beyond residential schools will be critical in the coming years. Although some progress has been made, significant barriers to reconciliation remain.”

The Canadian government, has apologized for the atrocities, and intends to help build a better future for the Canadian/Aboriginal relationship.  

Closing Thought:

This kind of just makes Canada look like a bully that doesn’t really feel bad for itself, then apologizes to the principal but thinks to themselves ‘I really wanna push that kid down the stairs again.’  All because Canada feels like it’s deep and complex and should be allowed to do what it wants.  



A better analogy, it’s like a bully that actually has a bunch of personal issues, refuses to take people’s advice on how to get a better outlook so it just apologizes for doing something, but doesn’t actually attempt to make amends.


Perhaps the reader is curious why the Buzz is using such a cynical tone here.  

The TRC has put a lot of time and resources to bring these issues into the public sphere.  It’s reached a point that the United Nations is actually calling for Canada to address its overwhelming track record for violating human rights.  We’ll let the reader decide if Canada has reacted appropriately, we’re also not going to sugar coat the situation.



As a wrap up for this article, we’ll share the origin of the series title (Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada). This is to reference the Canadian Oath of Citizenship.  If you’re not familiar with it, well, it’s quite poetic really:

“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

There’s the big reveal, time to drop the mic!

The PS Buzz chose FOLC because the COC is still something that people becoming Canadian citizens must recite.  It’s a whole ceremony, and actually only a portion of an extremely emotional process (gaining citizenship). 



It sums up how the practices within the Canadian political system are far from perfect, but it tries.  Oh how it tries.

If Canada can reassess how it treats people, perhaps the UN will lay off.  Perhaps, people will be proud to learn about their heritage again.  Perhaps Aboriginal Canadian and state relations will see positive discourse.

Perhaps we’re running out of things to say perhaps about.

Right, that brings us to an end in this article.  It was a little lighter on content because if the Constant Reader needs more, it’s simply a scroll + click away.  Expect our next issue to cover the action Canada is currently taking to repair its relationship with Canadian Aboriginals.

As always, if you are enraged, interested, or mildly curious with our intentions and thoughts while this series is being published then we feel like we have done some sort of job.  That being said, volunteer writers are always encouraged, no matter the point of view! 

Links as promised:

TRC: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future summary of the final report for the TRC of Canada- http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Honouring_the_Truth_Reconciling_for_the_Future_July_23_2015.pdf

Routing Used to Enslave Indigenous People: Gradual Civilization Act- http://signatoryindian.tripod.com/routingusedtoenslavethesovereignindigenouspeoples/id10.html

Canadian Parliamentary Review: The Indian Act an Historic Perspective- http://www.revparl.ca/english/issue.asp?art=255&param=83

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act- http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1308068336912/1308068535844

Law and Society @Kwantlen: Oppression of Aboriginals People and Genocide- https://kpulawandsociety.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/oppression-of-aboriginals-people-and-genocide/


The Star: Anti-terror Bill Not in Keeping with Canada’s International Obligations - http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/07/23/anti-terror-bill-not-in-keeping-with-canadas-international-obligations-un.html

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada: Issue Three



Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada

 Issue Three: A Climactic Turning Point
August 2015


Welcome to another installment to our Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada series.  The PS Buzz is going to open by saying that we don’t want to shock readers, but the content of this article will be dealing with sensitive material.  If you feel upset, or disturbed by the content represented in this article- you should.  

There are two particular pieces that we will be examining, one is reviewing an investigation conducted by the RCMP and the second is a case study reviewing the trial of Cree woman Cindy Gladue.


Another warning, this is not a fun article, at least it won’t be as light hearted as our previous publications.


2015 saw the publication of some shocking findings, at least they were findings that were finally acknowledged by the Canadian government as fact.  The first on our agenda is a report released in the early 2015 where the RCMP reported that an estimated 1,017 women and girls identified as Indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012—a homicide rate roughly 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada. 


We would like to point out (for the sake of clarity) that the RCMP report only includes cases where the original investigating police force has concluded that a murder has taken place. The report explicitly does not include unexplained and suspicious deaths.

That’s right; the report deals primarily with concrete cases of murder.

This leads to an area of concern as deaths of Indigenous women and girls are not always fully and properly investigated and as a result some murders of Indigenous women and girls may have been wrongly classified as accidental deaths.

But sure, that’s nit-picking the statistics, so we’ll consider it a necessary means of limiting scope creep.

Police in Canada do not always consistently record the Indigenous identity of victims. Mainly for a good reason, as that would mean profiling cases which can sometimes lead to biased approaches to these investigations.

Statistics Canada reports that in 2009, police records failed to note whether the victims of crime were Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal in 384 out of 610 homicides. Some victims of crime are being inaccurately identified as non-Aboriginal because police have not had proper training on why accurate identification is important and how it’s to be determined.

The 2015 report also doesn’t distinguish between First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis women and girls. As a consequence, it does not provide any information on whether the homicide rate is the same or differs among these groups. 

Just to put this concern into perspective, as of a 2011 census, there are an estimated 600 recognized First Nations governments and bands.  So, even by sectioning these victims into thirds, it’s not necessarily representing an appropriate demographic.



The RCMP report also provides a number of statistics on the lives of the victims. The nature of many of these statistics—such as history of illegal drug use or involvement in illegal activities—suggests an inappropriate focus on the possible role of the victim’s own actions and behaviors.

We don’t want to linger on this fact for too long, but it’s wrong to try and find reasons that justify the treatment victims have received.

As an example, the report does not include any information on how many of the women and girls previously sought help or protection from the police or service agencies OR the response they received.  Which to us, seems like a fairly big oversight, but this is the first of many reports to come.  Right?

Right??

Okay, let’s stay on the same topic but switch gears a little bit.  

 However, if you are interested in developing your own interpretation of this report a link has been provided in the resource section!

The following case study should be considered disturbing.  It has been included in this issue as a way to show the real world implications of mistreating Aboriginal, Metis, and Inuit people.

Case Study: Cindy Gladue



Cindy Gladue was a 36-year-old mother, a daughter, and also a Cree woman. Cindy Gladue was a human being that (due to circumstances that exist for millions of people around the world) held the profession of a sex worker.  A lady of the evening, comfort girl, prostitute.  She made a living in this trade, where your stance is on this profession shouldn’t really matter.

In 2011, Cindy bled to death in the bathtub of the hotel room of Barton because of an 11-centimetre injury to her vagina.

Sadly, the most shocking part of this case is not how Cindy died. What is most disturbing is that a Canadian court allowed the most intimate part of a woman's body to be evidence in a jury trial. 

What was the reason to bring Cindy’s remains into a court room?  It was ruled that her work in the sex trade was the cause of her death, and not necessarily due to a client she had been with on the night of her death.  So, it has basically been deemed an occupational hazard.

This case study is gruesome enough, but the defendant’s (Bradley Barton-46) argument was basically: A persons hand could not have caused this wound as it was caused by a knife.

So, reading between the lines of what The PS Buzz wishes to disclose, the defendant used his hand not a knife- and therefore couldn’t have caused her death.  Think of it as you will.

The ruling of this case was that Barton did not intend to harm Cindy, and her death was the result of a consensual transaction.  The verdict: Not-guilty and Barton has been acquitted of charges.

END

Cindy’s case is quite possibly one of the most disturbing examples of how the court system is unclear and often mismanaged when handling sex crimes.  The fact that she was a Cree woman adds to the fodder that aboriginal rights/HUMAN RIGHTS are misrepresented in Canada’s legal system.

Just think about this, a Canadian court allowed Cindy’s remains to be brought into court and presented as evidence that a HAND couldn’t have caused her internal fatal injury.  To this day, her body is still not whole, as the court system believes in preservation of evidence.

Okay, time to breathe, apologies to our more sensitive readers, but all of the points presented can be found in the trial minutes.


It’s probably best to end this article here.  We promised last issue that we were going to focus on the Truth and Reconciliation report, trust us we have another doozy of an article for that.  However, given Canada’s current political atmosphere, an article focusing on the RCMP’s 2015 report seemed more pertinent.

To the constant reader, we apologize if this article has unsettled you, but we must promise that it is in only with best intentions that we publish this article.  The plan is for some happier articles to be posted in the coming week.  This series takes time for many reasons, research and editing particularly.  

As always, if you are enraged, interested, or mildly curious with our intentions and thoughts while this series is being published then we feel like we have done some sort of job.  That being said, volunteer writers are always encouraged, no matter the point of view! 

Also, here's a cat picture to lighten up this article:


Links as promised:


CBC: Aboriginal women still over represented among Canada’s missing and murdered women- http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/aboriginal-women-still-overrepresented-among-canada-s-missing-and-murdered-women-1.3120272


Vice: Aboriginal Woman’s Preserved Pelvis Shown in Court, an Indignity That ‘Can Never Be Undone’- http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/aboriginal-womans-preserved-pelvis-shown-in-court-an-indignity-that-can-never-be-undone-278