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Five ways the new anti-mask Bill C-309 will affect activists and civil liberties

Riot police in Vancouver at 2010 Olympics. There will be no ban on these masks.

Bill C-309 is the latest attempt by the Harper Government to strangle dissent. 

Put forward by Alberta Wildrose backbencher MP Blake Richards, the Bill is an amendment to the Criminal Code. Specifically, it makes it illegal to wear a mask at an "unlawful" protest, a crime now punishable with a decade-long jail sentence. 

Richards has gone on the record defending his Private Members Bill as a well-intentioned response to the Vancouver Riots, stating in the House of Commons that "this tool in no way restricts citizens' rights to expression or assembly. In fact, it serves to strengthen them."

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Noam Chomsky: Impressions of Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison

Even a single night in jail is enough to give a taste of what it means to be under the total control of some external force. And it hardly takes more than a day in Gaza to begin to appreciate what it must be like to try to survive in the world's largest open-air prison, where a million and a half people, in the most densely populated area of the world, are constantly subject to random and often savage terror and arbitrary punishment, with no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade, and with the further goal of ensuring that Palestinian hopes for a decent future will be crushed and that the overwhelming global support for a diplomatic settlement that will grant these rights will be nullified.

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Abuse and exploitation inherent to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker program

As scandals rock the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, the federal government will begin a program wide review. Though the government hinted at it, they did not mention the endemic abuse that is inherent in the TFW program, and the global treatment of migrant workers. 

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Debunking the spin around Harper's FIPA with China

There is a lot of spin about the Canada-China investment treaty (or FIPA). Canadians should not be fooled into the deal. They should insist on an independent review of the government's claims, before the treaty is locked in for 31 years.

Recently, National Post columnist Andrew Coyne analyzed the treaty and pronounced it safe. However, Coyne missed key elements of the treaty, did not compare it to other agreements, and failed to appreciate the record of arbitration awards. Here is a more accurate overview of the treaty’s significance for Canada.

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An open letter to Stephen Harper: Canada - China FIPPA abrogates rights of Indigenous people

Prime Minister Harper: 

On behalf the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, we are writing to firmly express, advise and direct the Government of Canada to reject the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China as the Government of Canada has breached its fiduciary duty to consult First Nations on our respective constitutionally-enshrined and judicially-recognized Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. 

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Worried about corporate influence from China? Take a look at U.S. giant Lockheed Martin

A United States Congressional committee is worried that the Chinese may be using telecommunications firms to steal U.S. secrets -- and those members of Congress would know, because there's no one better at it than the U.S. government itself.

Remember back in 2000 when then-Chinese president Jiang Zemin, ignoring protests at home, paid U.S.-based Boeing $120 million for a 767 passenger jet to serve as China's version of Air Force One?

According to Time, when the plane was delivered to him, Chinese authorities found 27 surveillance devices secretly installed throughout the president’s plane. The Americans had put bugs above President Zemin's bed and even in his bathroom.

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Hungry for justice in Gaza: Israel's formula for a starvation diet

A worker carries a bag of flour at a United Nations food distribution centre.

Six and a half years go, shortly after Hamas won the Palestinian national elections and took charge of Gaza, a senior Israeli official described Israel's planned response. "The idea," he said, "is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger."

Although Dov Weisglass was adviser to Ehud Olmert, the prime minister of the day, few observers treated his comment as more than hyperbole, a supposedly droll characterisation of the blockade Israel was about to impose on the tiny enclave.

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Open letter to Stephen Harper: Fourteen reasons the Canada-China FIPA needs a full public review

Photo: Gus Van Harten

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister Fast,

I am an expert in investment treaties. As a Canadian, I am deeply concerned about the implications for Canada of the Canada-China investment treaty. As I understand, the treaty is slated for ratification by your government on or about Oct. 31. I hope you will reconsider this course of action for these reasons. 

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Why we need a Canada-Québec-Indigenous Social Forum

Photo: Tni.org

Anger and discontent against the ruling Conservative government is on the rise all across Canada. Human rights groups, women's organizations, cultural associations, environment groups, labour, indigenous peoples, students, generally civil society organizations feel threatened and angered by the government's policies and actions. 

Protests for social and environmental justice are erupting all over the country. Casseroles have been organized on the streets of many cities in support of the student movement in Quebec. The youth across Canada are joining hands with those from Quebec in challenging neo-liberal austerity policies. 

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Mass mobilization and the Maple Spring: What are the lessons for B.C. politics?

As many of you know, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the ex-spokesperson of CLASSE, was recently in town. Some of us had the opportunity of having a much more in depth conversation with him where we discussed, in some detail, the structure and strategy employed by CLASSE. There are some great lessons to be learned.

The greatest thing that we can learn from the Quebec student uprisings is that if we are able to mobilize en masse, if we are able to get thousands and thousands of people to coordinate activity, we can take down the government and bring about the changes that we all envision.

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