JustNews Winter 2016 issue: Towards Effective Action

Editorial

By JustNews Editor Philip Symons

To view this issue, click here.

Social Justice workers are looking for new, more effective ways to change government policies and improve the lives of all through stronger democracy, less inequality in wealth, and more compassion for our fellow citizens. Politicians too often and too easily ignore letters, rallies, petitions and even delegations—unless you happen to have $1,500 in your pocket and the fare for travel to a dinner in Ottawa. So this issue of JUSTnews focuses on other possible methods of changing government policies.

The lead article chastises liberal churches, including ours, for worrying more about retaining membership and keeping costs low than standing up for the moral right, thereby committing suicide. Then, Micah White has written a book, reviewed from different perspectives by two CUSJ members, on The End of Protest as a means of obtaining justice. A letter from the Honourable Scott Reid to Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef suggests finding allies amongst politicians can be effective. Language is always important, as noted by a member of Fair Vote Canada. And then there’s the community-organizing process started by Saul Alinsky that is gaining traction in various cities across Canada and elsewhere.

Other ideas and suggestions are welcome and, as always, will be considered for publication in future issues of JUSTnews. Please write.

Guy Dauncey’s Message of Hope

The most recent JustNews Discussion Paper No. 32 revisits Guy Dauncey’s slideshow, which we enjoyed at the 2016 AGM.  Using humour, memes, and examples from life, Dauncey shows us how we can build a sustainable future for humanity. Dauncey is the founder of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, co-founder of the Victoria Car Share Cooperative, and author or … Read more…

Anti-BDS motion pushback continues: Letter thanking MP Andrea Horvath

The moral arc bends towards justice, but not, alas, in a timely manner, BDS supporters would agree, as the struggle to achieve justice and peace in Israel and Palestine, through peaceful means, continues. Several political and Social Justice groups, including CUSJ, co-signed a letter, reproduced below, to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horvath (and members of the Caucus) in … Read more…

CUSJ joins the Canadian BDS Coalition in support of Palestine

In January 2017, CUSJ joined the Canadian BDS Coalition, which endorses the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The Coalition’s Basis of Unity (BOU) statement affirms that non-violent punitive measures (that is, boycott, divestment and sanctions) should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully … Read more…

Bill C-22: Security agency activities may be legal, but are they democratic?

This is one of the questions posed by CUSJ today, in a letter to Senator Jaffer, Deputy Chair of the Senate committee on National Security and Defense (SECD) that is studying Bill C-22. As you may recall, CUSJ has already submited a brief on Bill C-22. This letter is a follow-up, that draws Senator Jaffer’s attention to three relatively … Read more…

One year closer to a proportional system for Canada?

As we bid 2016 adieu, the fate of the Canadian government’s promise to Make Every Vote Count seems to have devolved into a game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ between the government and voters. Things were going along swimmingly for PR activists, right up until the moment when the ERRE committee delivered its report, recommending Proportional Representation, … Read more…

A Christmas/Hanukkah Gift: UN General Assembly approves historic resolution to eliminate nuclear weapons

Editor’s note: I received this press release through the ICAN mailing list today (Dec. 25th), and I thought I would share it… I cannot think of a better gift for humanity to give itself, than the gift of peace and life. Canada and the US voted ‘no’, shamefully, so there is still much work to do. … Read more…

CUSJ submission on Charitable Tax Law

December 14th, 2016 After the Harper Government direct attacks on Charities engaged in lobbying and public relations to change government policy on issues such as Death and Dying, Environmental Protection, Climate Change, and  Research, publication of ideas and free speech, Justin Trudeau promised that the laws for charities would be modernized to prevent this kind … Read more…

Referendum on voting system open to manipulation

Non-binding referendum campaign could sow misinformation, division TORONTO – Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ) applauds the House of Commons Standing Committee on Electoral Reform for throwing its support behind key democratic reforms that could see Canada join its modern industrialized peers with a more proportional system of representation. However, a poorly formed referendum question … Read more…

CUSJ and other orgs support the GPC pro-peace resolution

CUSJ joined a host of signatories in saluting the Green Party of Canada for its motion in support of freedom, justice and equality in Israel/Palestine. This formal nod of appreciation to the GPC was announced in a press release on Nov. 28th, sponsored by the Palestine House and Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at York University (Toronto). … Read more…

Dear Government: Give charities freedom to advocate for social justice

CUSJ is one of the sponsors of a new web site, Protect Canadians’ Free Speech, (see our logo there?) that is dedicated to getting legislators to update the laws that govern charities. Under the current laws, enacted by the Harper government, charities are restricted as to the type of activities in which they can engage, … Read more…

CUSJ Brief on Public Safety, National Security, & Human Rights

We are grateful to Jack Dodds, CUSJ member from Toronto, for stepping up and presenting our brief during the government public hearing process.  The link to the final brief submitted to the public safety committee is here. CUSJ is concerned that the government is going too far and that pervasive surveillance of innocent people without … Read more…

BDS is lawful and paves the way for peace, say 68 signatories to CJPME letter

Perhaps you remember the anti-BDS motion that passed in Parliament on February 22nd 2016? Or a similar bill, Bill 202 that was passed and then defeated in the Ontario legislature in May? Such bills are doubtless drafted in order to keep strong ties (the bonds of trade) between Canada and Israel, and, indeed, in the case of … Read more…

Speaking out for decent work conditions and fair wages

CUSJ, represented by past-president Frances Deverell, along with current president Margaret Rao, has signed onto the Faith Leaders Statement calling for a number of improvements to the Ontario government’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act.  The statement is part of the Fight for $15 and Fairness movement calling for decent work and stronger laws to better protect workers … Read more…

CUSJ endorses plea for urgent climate action

In October 2016, the CUSJ signed on to the Civil Society Equity Review on national pledges made at last year’s UN Climate Summit in Paris. CUSJ had signed on to the previous report by the same organization in 2015.

This short report focuses on the urgent need for governments to aim higher when it comes to climate change mitigation goals. The report analyzes 2020 pledges and support, against a 2020 emissions benchmark that is consistent with a true 1.5°C mobilization. It draws simple but challenging conclusions about the changes that will be needed, before 2020, if we honestly intend to make a just and successful transition to a zero carbon world.

CUSJ President Margaret Rao states, “All developed countries are woefully lacking in moving to national and international climate change mitigation and investment in renewable energy alternatives. … We have a long way to go with immediate, short and long-term carbon reduction goals.”
The report states that any pathway that has a reasonable chance of holding the warming to 1.5°C requires an extremely ambitious mitigation effort that should begin very soon. The report uses 40 GtCO2eq as a 2020 emissions level that is consistent with a rapid shift to a 1.5°C pathway. By comparison, the business-as-usual emissions level would be roughly 54 GtCO2eq in 2020. Therefore, to reach the more ambitious 40 GtCO2eq benchmark would require about 14 GtCO2eq of annual mitigation to be put in place by 2020. This is an extremely challenging prospect, given that emissions are now nearing 50 GtCO2eq.

Victory! R.I.P., TPP

The Obama administration has at last announced that they are ending their efforts to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Congress before President Obama leaves office.  Grass-roots groups like OpenMedia announced today that they feel that, due to the economic clout of the US, this leaves almost no chance of the TPP coming into force in any … Read more…

Juggling democracy, fairness, and security

Presentation to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU)  by CUSJ member Jack Dodds*, and CUSJ President Margaret Rao. On October 19th, 2016 in downtown Toronto, these two CUSJ representatives spoke to the SECU about their concerns that the democratic rights of Canadians are being threatened by over-zealous attention to national security. They pointed out … Read more…

27 October 2016: The day that a historical, sea change became possible

First published in French, by Jean-Marie Matagne, 29 October 2016 The article here is a copy of the one reprinted in English on Oct. 29 in the Action of Citizens for Nuclear Disarmament (ACDN) website: http://acdn.net/spip/spip.php?article1032&lang=en What a fantastic day. It will count as a red letter day in contemporary history – indeed in world history. Ever … Read more…

Nuclear weapons strike would be humanity’s armaggedon

On October 5th, 2016, CUSJ President Margaret Rao wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, noting that the US and Russian superpowers are showing renewed interest in a nuclear arms race, and reminding Trudeau to work towards a Nuclear Weapons Convention to ban nuclear weapons–one of the promises of the Liberals heading into the 2015 federal election. Here is the text of the … Read more…

Minister McCallum: Let US Iraq war resisters stay in Canada

On Monday, October 17th, 2016, CUSJ President Margaret Rao wrote to the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, urging him to let U.S. Iraq war resisters stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Here is the text of that letter: Dear Mr. McCallum, I am writing to you on behalf of Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice … Read more…