Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oppose Bill C-150

The vote for this is happening soon! Please write your MP with a copy of the letter, or your own letter urging them to vote against C-150.

From: joycearthur@shaw.ca
To: arcc-friends@lyris.zapbox.com
Subject: [arcc-friends] Updated sample letter to MPs on Bill C-510
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2010 19:32:07 -0800

Hi everyone, below is a rewritten sample letter to send to your MP on Bill C-510. Even if you've already sent a letter, please consider sending another! It won't hurt - especially now that we're closer to the vote - December 15. We (ARCC) will also be attempting to convince Ignatieff to ensure his anti-abortion MPs will abstain or absent themselves from the vote.
One thing that's not mentioned in the sample letter, but which may be of interest, is the use of the word "child" in the bill to refer to a fetus. Rod Bruinooge has said that he simply adopted the existing language of the Criminal Code but that this could be changed in committee (like we could rely on that!). In a letter that ARCC sent to MPs today (those with a pro-choice or unknown stance), we said: "The bill is trying to smuggle fetal rights into law because it refers to an embryo/fetus as a "child," even though the Criminal Code reserves that term for born children, while "unborn child" is used only to refer to the fetus immediately before or during birth."
Although this bill seems unlikely to pass 2nd reading, we don't want another Bill C-484 fiasco, so your help in pestering your MP (or Ignatieff Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

Sample Letter Opposing Bill C-510,
to prohibit "coerced abortion"

December 6, 2010

Please send a letter to your MP asking them to vote against the private member's bill C-510, "an act to amend the Criminal Code (coerced abortion)." The bill was introduced in April and debated on November 1st for the first time. It is scheduled for a second round of debate on Dec 13, and the vote is expected to take place on December 15.

Below is a sample letter that you can copy and paste into an email or a letter. Feel free to edit the letter or write your own.

Look up your MP here: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/HouseOfCommons/MemberByPostalCode.aspx?Menu=HOC

For more info on the bill, see ARCC's press release:
English: http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/press/ARCC-CDAC-release-apr19-10-english.pdf.
Fran├žais: http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/fr/press/ARCC-CDAC-release-apr-19-10-francais.pdf

Also, a clever alternate bill banning coerced childbirth can be found here: http://pamelacross.blogspot.com/2010/04/rewriting-bill-c-510.html

Thank you! (and please send this link to your friends!)

Subject: Please vote against Bill C-510

Dear [insert your MP's name]

I'm writing to ask you to please vote on December 15 against Bill C-510, an act to prohibit "coerced abortion." This bill is just another disguised anti-abortion bill pretending to help women. In reality, it's designed to promote abortion stigma, paternalize women, and open the door to re-criminalizing abortion.

Bill C510 is a private member's bill that would amend the Criminal Code to prohibit coercing a woman into an abortion via physical or financial threats, illegal acts, or through "argumentative and rancorous badgering or importunity". It was introduced in April by anti-abortion Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South), who chairs the "Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus." The bill was debated on November 1st, and is scheduled for a second debate on Dec 13, with a vote expected on December 15.

I am against this bill because it patronizes women by implying they are frequently coerced into abortion. However, the vast majority of women make their own decision to have an abortion and take responsibility for it. Further, if a pregnant woman is coerced, it is just as likely - if not more likely - that she will be pressured to bring a pregnancy to term. I am against any type of coercion, and must point out that the main purpose of the anti-choice movement is to force women to carry every pregnancy to term by recriminalizing abortion. Further, many women are emotionally harmed by anti-choice people pressuring them NOT to have an abortion, in particular staff at "crisis pregnancy centres." (See http://www.prochoiceactionnetwork-canada.org/Exposing-CPCs-in-BC.pdf)

If the intent of this bill is supposedly to protect pregnant women from abusive partners, we need better and more comprehensive solutions than a criminal law approach. Women need pay equity, affordable childcare, legal aid, and other measures that will empower them to leave abusive relationships.

Bill C-510 is an unnecessary and redundant bill because threats and illegal acts are already illegal under the Criminal Code, and counselors at clinics already screen for possible coercion in women seeking abortion. However, the anti-choice movement falsely believes that abortion providers coerce women into abortions, so I worry that this bill may encourage frivolous charges against providers and add to the atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Providers have lived with the constant threat of harassment and violence by anti-abortionists for over 20 years in Canada, and they do not need even more to worry about.

Thank you in advance for voting against Bill C510.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Statement by No Bill 94 Coalition

Quebec Premier Jean Charest has proposed legislation which, if approved by the National Assembly of Quebec, would deny essential government services, public employment, educational opportunities, and health care to people who wear facial coverings. Bill 94 specifically targets Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil). The bill is an exaggerated response to a manufactured crisis that will allow the government to deny women services to which they are entitled. A truly democratic society is one in which all individuals have the freedom of religious expression and a right to access public services.

Although touted as a step toward gender equality, Bill 94, if approved, will perpetuate gender inequality by legislating control over women’s bodies and sanctioning discrimination against Muslim women who wear the niqab. Instead of singling out a minuscule percentage of the population, government resources would be better spent implementing poverty reduction and education programs to address real gender inequality in meaningful ways. Barring any woman from social services, employment, health, and education, as well as creating a climate of shame and fear around her is not an effective means to her empowerment. If Premier Charest’s government is truly committed to gender equality it should foster a safe and inclusive society that respects a woman’s right to make decisions for herself. Standing up for women’s rights is admirable. “Rescuing” women is paternalistic and insulting. Further marginalizing Muslim women who wear niqab and denying them access to social services, economic opportunities and civic participation is unacceptable.

Forcing a woman to reveal part of her body is no different from forcing her to be covered. Both the federal Conservative and Liberal parties have expressed support for Bill 94, which raises the very real possibility that similar legislation will be proposed across Canada. We demand that Bill 94 be withdrawn immediately, as it has no place in a democratic state that values autonomy, liberty and justice.

No Bill 94 Coalition is made up of concerned individuals, organizations and grassroots movements that are demanding that the proposed Quebec legislation, Bill 94, be withdrawn immediately.

We invite all individuals and groups of conscience inside and outside of Quebec to publicly or privately endorse this statement by emailing their name(s), location (city, state/province, and country), and contact information to nonbill94@gmail.com.
For more information please go to nonbill94.wordpress.com

Where we stand- A Statement on the Ottawa Police

A Statement on the Ottawa Police

please forward widely*

statement on the Ottawa Police

endorsed by:
No One Is Illegal (Ottawa)
Pro-Choice Coalition of Ottawa
Under Pressure
Common Cause Ottawa
Indigenous People's Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO)

On Saturday November 20th two queer activists were arrested for unfurling a banner as part of the Trans Day of Remembrance events. The banner, which read ''Remember Stonewall?'', was dropped from a highway overpass near the Ottawa Police station on Elgin street, where a flag-raising ceremony for TDOR was about to take place. Many in the queer and trans community were upset that some TDOR organizers would choose to host an event with the police, given how tense the relationship between queer and trans groups and the cops has become. The flag-raising ceremony at the cop shop was supposed to turn into a march to Parliament Hill, but many in the community chose to gather at Minto park, a few blocks away, as an alternate to the police ceremony – making it clear that the police do not have the trust of many in Ottawa's queer and trans community.

Many groups have found it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to work with the police, and so we would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our opposition to the idea that we must always work with the cops.

Many of us come from communities that have long been targeted by police forces, and continue today to be harassed by and experience violence from those same forces. We are queer, poor, non-status, trans, racialized, sex-workers, indigenous, disabled and homeless. We have been victims of violence, wrongful arrests, sexual assaults, intimidation and ridicule by the police.

This has been the case for many many years. But recently, in the last year, the systemic nature of abuses on the part of the Ottawa police has been so exposed that even the most sympathetic can no longer excuse it as 'a few bad apples'.

Earlier this year Ottawa Police released the photograph of a man who didn't disclose his HIV-positive status to partners, using the words "sexual predator” in media communications. The young man is now being charged with aggravated sexual assault for allegedly spreading a sexually transmitted disease. His picture made the front page of Ottawa newspapers. Despite this being widely condemned by HIV activists and community organizations, Police Chief Vern White stood by his decision earlier this year to release the photograph. By flatly rejecting a community proposal to review and develop policy guidelines for prosecution for HIV non-disclosure cases, Chief White showed no interest in collaboration and chose to ignore the expertise of HIV/AIDS community organizations and legal opinions denouncing this intensification of the criminalization of HIV. The outrage over this incident caused deep divisions in the queer community during Ottawa Pride in August, when official Pride organizers invited the Ottawa police to speak at the human rights vigil as part of the week's events, prompting an outcry from community-based HIV/AIDS organizations and activists in which they stated that if the police were not uninvited from the event they would be forced to withdraw and organize independently.

This summer well over a thousand people were arrested at the mass anti-G20 mobilizations in Toronto. Some were beaten, some were dragged from their beds in the early hours of the days of action, some were captured on their way to or from the protests and some were caught in mass arrests. Most of the arrestees have had their charges dropped, though some still face serious Conspiracy charges, draconian bail conditions, while some remain in jail and others face deportation.

On June 18th of this year three local activists were arrested. One was released a few days later under strict conditions, another spent months in jail, and another remains locked up today. Charges have been stayed for two of the arrestees, but the damage to their lives has already been done. In addition, through the court proceedings it was discovered that police had not only had active surveillance on local activist groups, but actually had an undercover agent infiltrating social justice organizations.

Recently, an Ottawa police officer who followed a cab driver to the airport, in a fit of road-rage after being cut off on the road, and broke the cab driver's arm after uttering racial slurs, was acquitted. Despite the obvious racist motivations behind the attack, and the complicity of other officers in the incident, the Police Chief chose to defend his officers and faced sharp criticisms from the taxi driver's union who could not be appeased, and demanded that the entirety of the Ottawa police force be reviewed and that Chief White address the systemic racism of the force.

Recently, a number of women have gone public with charges of harassment and assault against Ottawa police officers, many of them implicating the same officers in a more than one incident of abuse – officers who remain employed by the Ottawa police. We learned about the case of a young woman who was arrested, sexually assaulted – violence which was caught on police video – and held for hours by the Ottawa police after having committed no crime. Walking through the Byward Market late at night she was a victim of social profiling. A judge called her treatment a ''travesty.'' Two weeks later, another woman came forward with a lawsuit against the same officers, among others, for assault while in custody and wrongful arrest. And this past weekend, another Ottawa woman also came forward with charges of sexual assault and mistreatment while in custody after being arrested without cause.

We say that these are not random or unrelated incidents. And they are also just the tip of the iceberg, further proof of a bad system that must be changed immediately.

These are not just a few bad apples – this is a corrupt, illegitimate, and violent institution. More than the high profile cases that we see on the news, it is the institutionalized discrimination and day-to-day abuses of the police that worry us the most: systemic racism and misogyny, the continued arrests of sex workers, the ticketing of panhandlers, the lack of any real action for the hundreds of missing aboriginal women, the harassment and criminalization of drug users and countless other offences. Despite mountains of proof that criminalization does more harm than good, it continues to be the only agenda that this city is willing to put money behind. This dangerous strategy is being implemented by a police force with a long and troubling history of violence, abuse of authority, and impunity. This is not a system that we deem fair and democratic and this is not a system that we will cooperate with.

We applaud the efforts of all those struggling for justice and freedom, and those who have risked or lost their freedoms in this fight. We stand in solidarity with all prisoners and all those struggling to survive in the face of a system that would rather see them dead. We will continue to support all political arrestees and all those subjected to police brutality, and continue to proclaim loudly that the police are not our friends.

For more information and recent articles about our local police force: