Monthly Archives: December 2001

Smash the silence on workers’ living and working conditions! ‘Collective aecurity’ – a mask for corporate interests, postal workers say

By TONY SEED and CHARLES SPURR

HALIFAX (December 24, 2001) – MUCH HYSTERIA has been circulating around North America since the September 11 attacks. Much of it has had little basis in fact, but one threat that has made postal workers justifiably wary is the anthrax scare. Already at least five people have died from this disease in the US from exposure to anthrax delivered through the mail. It is entirely reasonable that Canadian postal workers should be concerned about handling mail in suspicious packages from the United States.

Despite this concern and the well-known right of workers to refuse work which they consider hazardous, Canada Post has refused to allow testing for possible anthrax contamination or to take adequate precautions such as gloves and masks at its postal sorting station on Almon Street in Halifax. Instead the corporation’s manager of letter mail stated that since there has not been an anthrax related death in Canada, the mail is safe to work, and since November 9 it has arbitrarily suspended three Halifax postal workers who complained about this potential hazard.

The Nova Scotia Local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has responded with a series of pickets, and other actions to defend the health and safety of its workers.

More than 100 postal workers demonstrated in Halifax on November 21, followed by a mass picket on December 18 outside the Nova Scotia Department of Public Health. In addition to postal workers, representatives of several other unions participated in the picket, including Rick Clark, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and a local book publisher. The union’s message is being brought to the Health Department to try to put more pressure on Canada Post to allow tests.

Participants stressed that the right to refuse unsafe work was being violated. One speaker pointed out that the government is spending millions on such things as armed sky marshals on airplanes but does not bother about the safety of workers. They view the workers as expendable like office computers, one said. If there was a suspicion of anthrax in the Prime Minister’s Office, he said, every possible precaution would be taken immediately. Speakers also denounced the anti-terrorism bill, C-36, as an act to take away the rights of workers while government refuses to guarantee workers’ security.

Similar concerns have been raised by postal workers and other mail handlers across the country.

On October 25 and 26 postal workers at the Scarborough depot were sent home early after mail contaminated with some unidentified powder was received, but none of the workers were given medical tests at the time. Canada Post also resisted demands for rubber gloves and other appropriate safety equipment on the grounds that extra costs would be incurred which it did not want to pass onto its corporate clients.

Postal workers at the South Central sorting station, also in Toronto, were evacuated for three hours on October 15 when several improperly addressed envelopes were discovered. One was leaking an unidentified powdery substance. Again there were no tests for any potential health hazard, and workers still do not know what that powdery substance was.

In a press dispatch on November 29 the CUPW reported that national director Wayne Mundle offered to pay for independent testing of the Halifax plant to determine if there had been any cross-contamination of anthrax spores. Canada Post has ignored this offer saying that unless a government department of health says that testing is necessary they will not allow it.

At the same time the Daily News in Halifax reported that “Canada Post security officers are hand-delivering ‘suspicious’ letters in metro, even though the Crown corporation is refusing to get a Halifax mail-sorting plant tested for anthrax.”(11/29/01) Letters which have no return address and no postal code fall into the category of “suspicious” and are wrapped in plastic before being hand-delivered.

It seems that at a time when the federal government is waxing eloquent about “collective security” in hunting down real and imagined terrorists at the expense of civil liberties, the real concern, represented by Canada Post and others, is protecting its corporate interests and finding ways to criminalize dissent. Canadian workers are vigorously opposed to double-standards which treat the Canadian working class as second class citizens whose rights and peace of mind can be trampled under foot at the convenience of the owners of capital. The workers are the creators of all the wealth in society and the essence of its being. Together, they have to step up the work to put the full weight of their numbers and organization in defence of their rights.

On the occasion of the New Year, workers everywhere are pledging to make decisive headway in this regard in the coming year. TML Daily vigorously supports this just cause and is at the disposal of the workers to smash the silence on their living and working conditions and to unite their ranks from one end of Canada to the other.

Source: TML Daily, December 24, 2001 – No. 232

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No to FBI presence in Canada!

Step Up the Struggle in Defense of Canadian Sovereignty! U.S. Agents Get Out of Canada! 

THE Canadian Press reports that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has asked the United States Congress for more money “to increase its permanent presence in Canada to prevent terrorist attacks and deter cross-border crime.”

According to the report, in the Toronto region “FBI agents have supplied a special anti-terrorist unit of police investigators with intelligence on terrorism suspects living in Canada.” It also reports that currently “FBI offices are housed in the U.S. embassy in Ottawa and the U.S. consulate in Vancouver. Continue reading

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Stop NATO bombing over Labrador!

Get Canada Out of NATO!

“THE Department of National Defence is considering expanding an aerial bombing range in Labrador to allow pilots from NATO nations to train with so-called smart bombs,” the Canadian Press reported. “The department has applied to the provincial government for an amendment to the provincial land lease under which the Canadian Forces operates its air weapons range, 120 kilometres southwest of Goose Bay.” Continue reading

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For your information: Canadian contribution to the ‘War on Terrorism’

By TONY SEED,

Shunpiking Magazine. December 2001 – January, 2002, No. 40

HALIFAX (19 December 2001) – CANADA is the third largest contributor to the “war on terrorism” after the US and Britain. By mid-February 750 Canadian troops will be deployed in Kandahar “and in outlying areas with a higher chance of conflict,” news sources say. A Department of National Defence (DND) official said the troops, members of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, will work with US troops to secure transportation routes, de-mine roads and help with humanitarian aid. Continue reading

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Halifax: Chretien dogged by protesters

By TONY SEED

HALIFAX – ON Monday, December 3, about 100 protesters gathered in the Grand Parade in Halifax to denounce Jean Chretien and the various anti-democratic pieces of legislation, especially the anti-terrorism bill, which the Chretien Liberals are enacting.

Many of the protesters wore masks featuring Bills C-35, C-36 and C-42 with lines drawn through them. Protesters also carried signs and noise-makers. The demonstration showed the growing level of opposition to the escalating repression being brought forward under the banner of “war against terrorism,” even in a NATO port like Halifax, a participant said.

Chretien was in Halifax to speak at a Liberal Party fundraising dinner. In his speech he continued his attempts to defend the legislation by claiming, amongst other things, that it strikes a balance between national security and civil liberties. However, more and more people are seeing through this language, especially those who were involved the various anti-globalization protests and saw first hand what the police do with the powers they already have.

Source: TML Daily, December 6, 2001 – No. 220

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Bill C-42: The opposition of Quebec to ‘military security zones’

ON NOVEMBER 28, at a press conference at the end of the federal-provincial conference of Justice ministers in Ottawa, Quebec’s Minister of Justice Paul Bégin and Minister of Public Security Serge Ménard said they are opposed to Article 84 of the Public Safety Act, Bill C-42, that gives the Minister of National Defence the power to establish “military security zones.” They said the text of the article is too vague and could lead to abuses. The bill gives “one person the authority to declare an entire territory a military zone,” said Ménard. “When you take into consideration the abuses of such powers towards Quebec in the past in the name of security, it appears unacceptable that such a power be granted to one person deciding alone, without any obligation to consult Quebec authorities,” Ménard continued. “It can give rise to a situation where the Quebec National Assembly, which, should we recall, is situated at less than 500 metres from the Citadel fortress, is placed under federally controlled military zones.”

In the section of Bill C-42 which deals with “military security zones” which can be established in cases of emergencies, an “emergency” is defined as applying to an “insurrection, riot, invasion, armed conflict or war, real or apprehended.” The bill will give the Minister of National Defence the power to establish the zones “if deemed necessary for international relations or defence or national security.” Ménard told reporters that the possibility that such measures would be used to place Quebec under military occupation in the eventuality of a winning referendum on sovereignty is real. He said Quebec’s right to self-determination was directly threatened.

TML Daily thinks this point is valid and beyond doubt. Furthermore, the argument applies to all the provinces which should all take a stand against the proposal to establish “military security zones” anywhere in Canada.

It should be kept in mind that with Bill C-42, the government is giving itself permanent emergency powers where it alone will determine what constitutes an “emergency.” It will do so on grounds of “national security” which, according to the arrangements it is putting in place, it does not have to explain have to anyone. It is a draconian power which tramples underfoot all present constitutional power-sharing arrangements, let alone demands by Canadians that sovereignty be vested in the citizenry, not the ruling political party.

Source: TML Daily, December 5, 2001 – No. 219

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On the war

Editor’s Note: Since 9-11, the pro-war Halifax media – with three exceptions (CKDU Radio, Novanewsnet and The Coast) – has distinguished itself by ignoring the views of a growing anti-war movement. This essay on the violation of international law and the geopolitics of the Anglo-American war against Afghanistan in which Canada is participating is based on a speech given by Professor Isaac Saney at the anti-war rally of 20 October 2001 in Halifax. Continue reading

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