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#OpAnonDown Presents: Canadian Cabinet Leaks (#CCLeaks)

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[Photo is a screenshot from witness video https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10155899029770492&set=vb.701435491&type=2&theater]

First, a bit of background info.

James McIntyre was shot and killed by the RCMP on July.16th, 2015 in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. He was demonstrating outside of a meeting regarding the Site C hydroelectric dam set to be built on Peace River, Treaty 8 First Nation Territory. The Treaty 8 First Nation among other Indigenous peoples and environmentalists are strongly opposed to the dam being built because of its guarenteed impact on the ecosystem. It is also a blatant violation of treaties between the crown and First Nations stating that the government must properly consult and get consent from that Nation before starting any projects near or on territories that are legally their own (but come on, now…“Canada” is stolen). James McIntyre was from Treaty 8 and immersed in the fight against Site C. He was also a member of Anonymous, made clear by the mask he wore at the time of death. This is what sparked #OpAnonDown: A passionate and controversial response to the death of James McIntyre, also known as JayMack, land defender and brother in the Anonymous cause.

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It began as DDoS attacks on Canadian Government websites, and on Monday evening #OpAnonDown brought their level of retaliation to a whole new level. The Anons involved in this Op had given the RCMP a deadline of 5pm on Monday to arrest the officer responsible for JayMack’s death…a deadline that came and went, with no arrests but plenty of excuses from the authorities about fair and thorough investigations that most average folk who commit crimes miss out on. Because the RCMP refused to take action, #OpAnonDown released what appears to be a CSIS document from 2014, specifically a proposal submitted to the Treasury Board of Canada to increase funding by the millions to their 25 foreign stations around the world (see full document below).

The document, marked “secret” but “low-medium” risk, describes the need to increase funding in order to upgrade and expand their tools and corporate network environment, which have supposedly not been updated since the mid-80s. The document also cites the need for increased security to address recent “unlawful disclosures” of classified material. Meanwhile, documents obtained by The Toronto Star show that the Canadian Security Establishment (CSE) is also taking steps to prevent disclosures by potential whistleblowers, a Canadian Edward Snowden, if you will. Knowing all of this, in addition to the passing of bill C-51 which is meant to stifle dissent and criticism of the government’s agenda, it is clear that the Canadian government and its spy agencies are panicking about what information could potentially get out there and how that would impact the socio-political climate. For many of us, this is more of a reason to encourage disclosures.

According to the National Post, the government has only ever acknowledged three foreign stations belonging to CSIS; in London UK, Washington and Paris. Now we know that there are 25, that they were purposely kept confidential, and many of them are operating in “unstable environments” with up to 70 CSIS employees at each, intercepting around 22,500 messages per year. #OpAnonDown says that this is only the beginning and that more leaks are on the way of documents found on poorly-secured Canadian Government servers. #OpAnonDown is calling this series of disclosures “Canadian Cabinet Leaks” or “#CCLeaks.” There is a classic Anonymous press release to go along with all of this that gives the government the proper mocking it deserves for not giving a shit about its own security:

“Fortunately for us, Canada has been far more lax in defending its own systems. We have just released a secret document from the Canadian cabinet. We are excluding certain document security features, and, accordingly, some heading material. This is a painstaking process. We simply cannot release a document for every story we will be reporting over the coming months.

This first document, though, combined with remarks from Tony Clement after our DDoS attacks last month, show that Harper’s cabinet made direct decisions domestically, as well as for foreign spy stations, to update security systems at a leisurely pace over at least a four year period.

Congratulations! You left many doors open for us! We are now privy to many of Stephen Harper’s most cherished secrets.”

And then they called out Harper and Blaney:

“For instance, shortly after winning a majority in 2011, the NSA discovered that Stephen Harper had grown a bit too big for his Christian britches. He and the Canadian Security Establishment were attempting to spy on their Five Eyes partnes in the U.S.. Obama’s top intelligence officials were furious when they caught CSE in the act. They vowed to kill off Harper’s number one priority, the KXL pipeline.

By the way, Mr. Stephen Blaney, there is nothing more undemocratic than repeatedly cheating at elections then cutting the budget for the elections watchdog. All the while, your government has continued with unprecedented secrecy, antipathy to legitimate media inquiry, and outright contempt independent scientific inquiry.”

Every Anonymous Op is controversial. Divisions come from within and outside of Anonymous. Arguments are often around tactics such as DDoS or hacking, which may or may not be considered violent depending on how you look at it. Either way, it would be wrong to not see cyber warfare as a legitimate resistance/offense tactic regardless of how you feel about it being used. Some people are opposed to the Op because they are worried about Native folks being targeted further by law enforcement. There is also concern about whether or not revenge tactics in this case will do any justice. This is what sparked some of the early division within #OpAnonDown before the group split into two different Ops. Treaty 8 First Nation folks cancelled a Site C protest of their own because of alleged threats of violence from the hacktivists. However, the Anons currently involved in #OpAnonDown insist that they do not have violent intentions but are demanding accountability from the RCMP and consequences for the officer who killed JayMack, as well as carrying on his struggle against the Site C Dam by raising awareness about a variety of issues affecting First Nations, their sovereignty, the Canadian Government’s ongoing colonial violence as well as their general disregard for civil liberties and the right to dissent.

Others are opposed or critical because they question the Op’s genuity—that is, would these people give a shit about JayMack if he wasn’t wearing an Anon mask? The answer is yes, and one only needs to look at the history of Anonymous to understand that. Anonymous, while often seen as a group of pranksters and hackers just out to cause trouble “for the lulz”, is known for demanding justice in the face of killer cops and killer states…whether we’re looking at their support of #BlackLivesMatter, their recent call out for a Day of Rage in response to Sandra Bland’s death, or their assistance in overthrowing dictators through their amplification of the Arab Spring back in 2011, among several other examples.

#OpAnonDown is most certainly heating up as the government desperately tries to keep its cool. However controversial this Op may be, it begs the question of whether or not it is reasonable to expect accountability on the part of the government or law enforcement for JayMack’s death. If it is possible to achieve this by waiting patiently for the system to do the work on its own, what should that look like and is it sufficient? If the opposite is true, is enforced transparency not a legitimate step? For a government that demands full transparency for its citizens it is awfully secretive of its own affairs. Once again we reach the issue of power and what those who hold less power need to do in order to have a fair chance at winning against those who hold more of it. As we’ve seen time and time again, sometimes it is necessary to even out the playing field rather than fight an uphill battle. It is exciting to think about what #OpAnonDown has in store and what questions may be answered about the shady entity that is our Canadian Police State.

The press release ends with this:

“We repeat our insistence upon the immediate arrest of the RCMP killers of James McIntyre. Unless and until that happens, we will be releasing stunning secrets at irregular intervals. Of course, even if such arrests take place, we will still maintain access to information highly damaging to Stephen Harper and other supporters of Bill-C51.
Enjoy the summer, everyone. Fall will be Wild.
Until then:
We Are Anonymous.
Expect Us.
All your secrets are belong to the mask.”

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Further Reading:

#OpAnonDown Press Release: Canadian Cabinet Leaks #CCLeaks

The Cryptosphere–“#Anonymous to Canadian Government: Let’s Talk. Also, U Pwnd Again, d00ds!” http://thecryptosphere.com/2015/07/27/anonymous-to-canadian-government-lets-talk-also-u-pwnd-again-d00ds/

The National Post–“Anonymous releases hacked CSIS document, threatens to leak ‘stunning secrets at irregular intervals’” http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/anonymous-releases-hacked-csis-document-threaten-to-leak-stunning-secrets-at-irregular-intervals

The Toronto Star–“A Canadian Snowden? CSE warns of “insider threats”” https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/07/26/a-canadian-snowden-cse-warns-of-insider-threats.html

Vice Canada–“Everything We Know About the Death of an Anonymous ‘Comrade’ in RCMP Shooting” https://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/everything-we-know-about-the-death-of-an-anonymous-comrade-in-rcmp-shooting

Pastebin–“Some Canadian Anons in response to the #DawsonCreek shootings by RCMP of a fellow Canadian Anon, @jaymack9 (rest in peace)” http://pastebin.com/fUmhcKEx

Pastebin by Canadian Anons–“Criticisms of RCMP by highlighting News Articles” http://pastebin.com/XmPU3bc0

Some People Have Breasts, Get Over It: London Ontario Nipple Party Condemns Body Shaming & Boob Stigma

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[Photo: Bailey Lamon]

If men can go topless in public without shame, harassment, and horrified parents covering their children’s eyes…shouldn’t women be able to do the same?

That is the belief of 19 year-old Emily Monchamp of London, Ontario and a group of local women who wandered Victoria Park topless on Friday during Sunfest (an annual outdoor cultural music and art festival), to make a subtle yet bold statement that female persons (or any person of any identity who happens to have breasts) have the right to be in public without their shirts on, if that is how they are most confident and comfortable.

The “Nipple Party” was not a rally or a protest or even a formal gathering. It was a network of strong and progressive thinkers who joined together to build a support system based on a belief they had in common—or rather a disbelief, in shame and society’s justifications for shaming the female body in disproportionate amounts compared to the male body.

Chill out kids, I’m not saying men don’t experience it too…but you guys know you have it easy on this one. A local activist and male supporter of the Nipple Party, Mike Dwyer put it this way: “The previous night, I was watching the band Five Alarm Funk perform. The whole band is male, and several of them perform topless. They were sweating, jumping, flailing around, having a blast. But what if a female did the same thing? It would instantly be inappropriate. Talk about double standards. Will walking around the park topless change this? Probably not, but it at least starts the conversation.” Some people in the group did go topless while others chose not to but were still supportive of the overall message: respect, choice, confidence, and the need to stop shaming the female body and teaching girls and women that their breasts are offensive.

While it has been legal for women to be topless in public since 1996, legal does not mean socially acceptable. The stigma around breasts is still very much alive, and the reactions of some people to this particular action make that stigma clearer than ever. One woman who was interviewed by the London Free Press made it a relationship issue: “I’m a married woman so I really think there’s only one place to take off your shirt,” while others, even self-identified feminist activists, expressed their opposition citing ineffectiveness in general and a belief that women’s liberation means confronting the root causes of oppression, not simply walking around the park exposing one’s breasts.

While the latter is certainly true, I have to wonder how exactly a person is supposed to address the root causes of this particular stigma? If we are taught to hate our bodies, that our breasts need to be covered because they are offensive and inappropriate…when mothers cannot even breastfead their babies in public without getting harassed by police, security guards and random people…while mainstream media advertisers (and PETA) exploit and objectify the female body and make millions of dollars doing it…how can one honestly believe that fighting stigma does not require some sort of radical confrontation? The fact that women walking around topless is still “radical” in this day and age is very bothersome to me. It just goes to show how much work still needs to be done to make our society a better, safer place for women and girls.

Many females are taught from a young age that we should be “sexy”, but only “sexual” under certain conditions (such as marriage). We are taught that making our own decisions about our bodies, in this case about how much or how little or what to expose, is only okay if it fits within society’s realm of acceptability. In the case of ultra-westernized, conservative, racist, white-bred London Ontario I bet if a group of Muslim women were making a political statement by walking around the park freely without hijabs on, ya’ll would support that shit big time…not that I wouldn’t! But the point is that a) breasts are natural and not offensive and holy shit kids should know what they actually look like as opposed to learning about females from the University of 4chan, b) stop pretending that your personal decisions such as how to dress yourself make you a better person than someone who does it differently, and c) calm your tits…they’re only tits.

First Annual London TD Tar Sands Toxic Pool Party!

The first annual TD Tar Sands Toxic Pool Party was held by activists from Climate Justice London today at TD Sunfest. The activists sported bathing suits and rubber ducks while being covered with a black gooey substance that was later identified as Hershey’s chocolate and corn syrup.

Several activists played in a small pool while others handed out flyers and talked to curious people entering TD Sunfest.

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The theatrical demonstration was intended to educate people about TD’s involvement in the development of the the oil industry in Canada which is transforming one of the world’s last remaining intact ecosystems into North America’s gas tank.

Alberta’s boreal forest and wetlands are home to a diverse range of animals, including lynx, caribou and grizzly bears, and serve as critical breeding grounds for many North American songbirds and waterfowl. Oil companies are scraping up hundreds of thousands of acres of this wildlife haven to mine tar sands — silty deposits that contain small amounts of crude bitumen.

Extracting the tar sands and turning bitumen into crude oil uses vast amounts of energy and water, and causes significant air and water pollution, and three times the global warming pollution of conventional crude production. The rush to strip-mine and drill in the boreal will destroy and fragment millions of acres of this wild forest for low-grade petroleum fuel.

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More pictures from Kevin Jones: More pics HERE

Climate Justice London Facebook page: HERE

 

Mike Roy -July 12th 2015

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Anonymous Leaks Info of Canadian Government Officials in Retaliation to Bill C-51

A faction of the decentralized hacktivist collective Anonymous is claiming responsibility for multiple leaks of Canadian officials’ personal data, including email addresses, credit card numbers and website login information.

The leaked database of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Society of Canada was stored unencrypted and implicates several departments at all levels of government: municipal; Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, as well as Provincial; Ontario and Alberta, and Federal Departments; Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Environment Canada and Transport Canada. An administrative account was also created by Anonymous on the ITS website. So far there have been 3 separate data dumps with the warning of 1000 more to come.

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The leaks were publicized on Tuesday, June.23rd as part of ‘#OpCyberPrivacy’ but representatives of the group later denied their connection to Vice Motherboard: “#OpCyberPrivacy has not and will continue to not release any manner of private information.” However, the group of Anons responsible for leaking the information, regardless of Op labels, assert that this was done in retaliation to Canada’s recently passed anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51…which is extremely controversial as it jeopardizes privacy and free speech rights of Canadians under the banner of “National Security.”

While #OpCyberPrivacy still stands in opposition to C-51, they maintain that leaking personal data is an inappropriate and harmful response: “The documents leaked were the work of a small group unaffiliated with the main operation, whereas we have on several occasions voted against such actions. #OpCyberPrivacy officially denounces such action as anti-privacy. NO Canadians data should ever be leaked. It is against all we stand for.”

What this has not stopped #OpCyberPrivacy from doing is attacking government websites through DdoS and making them unaccessible, which is what happened during their first attack. The second attack was on a Montreal Police website.

#OpCyberPrivacy – Anonymous Message To Canadian Senators

Regardless of how one personally feels about data dumps, they certainly raise questions not only about privacy issues and who deserves to have privacy, but important questions about power. Under bill C-51, the Canadian government and their spy agencies (mainly CSIS, CSEC) have access to whatever information they want about anyone living in Canada. The government believes and insists that transparency from citizens is the only way to “protect” us from “terrorism,” and yet any sort of enforced transparency on their end is a crime. Why is that?

As a person living in Canada who is concerned about the impact of C-51, I cannot help but see this as just another way to even out the power imbalances inherent in legislation such as this…in other words, if they can gather, store and share our data as much as they see fit, why can’t we do the same to them? Transparency is needed to prevent and fight terrorism, afterall…

Leaks can be found here: https://www.cyberguerrilla.org/blog/anonymous-hacks-itscanada-ca-leaks-canadian-government-official-infos-opcyberprivacy-opc51/

Further reading:
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/anonymous-claims-it-leaked-passwords-and-credit-card-info-of-canadian-officials

https://news.vice.com/article/anonymous-claims-responsibility-for-cyber-attack-on-canadian-government-websites

Call Out: Happy Birthday Matt DeHart! Letter/Card/Donation Blitz

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Matt’s DeHart’s 31st birthday is on June 11th and unfortunately he’ll be spending it in jail, away from his family and friends due to a violent, ruthless investigation by the American government over information he allegedly had access to. Matt was deported from Canada in March after a failed asylum claim, giving him and his family no choice but to return to the country that tortured him over information in 2010.

Let’s all take an opportunity in the next couple of weeks to send Matt a little something to show we’re all thinking of him on his birthday, and continue to support him as his legal case moves forward. It can be a card or a letter, or if you can afford it, perhaps a care package or a donation to his defence fund. It’s really up to you. Reality is that Matt needs all the support possible and every little bit helps!

Congrats on surviving another year on this planet, Matt…and staying as strong as you have despite everything you and your family have been through!

Here are a few suggestions for supporters:

-Write a letter or send a card by snail mail (Address is on the flyer below, remember to include his inmate number!).

-Donate to his commissary fund: Money orders or certified checks by mail addressed to “Matthew Paul DeHart, #164682″ [no personal checks]. Money orders must be made payable to the inmate and have the purchaser’s info. Make payments online via: http://tponlinepay.com

-Send a care package via http://www.icaredirect.com/en-US/CorCentral/BowlingGreenCommissary

-Donate to Matt’s legal defence: https://mattdehart.com/donate

For more information on who Matt DeHart is and why he needs our support, visit the Courage Foundation’s website: https://mattdehart.com

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Canada’s 3rd day of action against secret police bill #C51

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[Photo: Mike Roy]

Saturday, May.30th 2015 was the 3rd National Day of Action held in Canada against Bill C-51, a piece of legislation supported by the ruling Conservative government and Liberal Party of Canada that attempts to address and eliminate potential threats of “terrorism”. It has been compared to the Patriot Act in the United States. C-51 passed in the House of Commons just weeks ago, making its way to the Senate who could, if they wanted to, scrap the bill entirely. At this point in time 15 Canadian Senators oppose C-51, while 5 are in support and 52 are undecided.

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[Photo: Mike Roy]

National days of protest have been happening every month since the bill was proposed in addition to consistent campaigning from anti-C51 organizers all over the country. With the understanding that it could be law any day now, people are shifting the pressure from their M.P.s to Senators. Some are optimistic that it can stopped, while others are expecting the worst possible outcome.

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The bill is allegedly a response to the Ottawa shooting and acts of violence that the government likes to blame on “Islamic extremism” or “violent Jihad”. As pointed out by the general population who oppose it, including four former Canadian Prime Ministers, the problems with C-51 range from increased surveillance, spy oversight that Edward Snowden has called the weakest oversight in the Western world, spy agencies like CSIS acting as secret police forces, and preemptive detainment of anyone that law enforcement deems threatening based on suspicion alone.

One major concern is how the Canadian government categorizes who and what types of actions will be targeted by their definition of “terrorism” that remains vague enough to include just about anyone, let alone political dissidents who are already being targeted by the state. Many activists and political figures, like Green Party leader Elizabeth May, have raised concerns about law enforcement clamping down on peaceful protesters, including Indigenous Land Defenders opposing environmentally harmful projects on their territories such as fracking and oil pipelines.

The Canadian government as well as CSIS, CSEC, RCMP and local police forces will have access to all of the information about us available, and yet we get access to very little of theirs. They can share our information between each other, including internationally with other spies who are part of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance. They can watch everything we say and do online. They can track us in real life. They can and will infiltrate us, and they will legally target anyone that they deem hostile and any group they consider “threatening” to Canada’s interests. In the end, what C-51 comes down to is an information war. The more information a government entity has on you, the more power they have…including the ability to threaten, intimidate, and manipulate you through fear and control. To be without privacy is to be without autonomy because surveillance forces us to police ourselves. Therefore the powerful win. And rather than question the motives of politicians or question power at all, many people still operate under the framework of “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” evidence that the conditioning process is not imminent but already occurring. In the end, society ends up doing the National Security work for the spies and politicians under the illusion of protecting freedom they don’t have, while truly believing that they have it. In other words, there is a serious power imbalance perpetuated by C-51 that is nothing less than fascist.

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[Photo: Mike Roy]

Who will win the war?

 

Written by: Bailey Lamon https://twitter.com/UptheCypherPunx

Co-written, Photos: Mike Roy https://twitter.com/theindignants

 

More info: https://stopc51.ca/

More photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.918474454861055.1073741947.257145594327281&type=1

Great video from 2nd day of action: https://www.facebook.com/RevNews/videos/vob.784550233/478289328991301/?type=2&theater

Above the law

On November 5th, the London Anonymous group held a rally, entitled the Million Mask March, to protest government corruption, unjust laws, and police surveillance, among other things. Over the next few days, the police decided to conduct an investigation, in which they figured it was ok, to constantly harass non violent activist’s for their footage, going so far as to threaten to break down doors and threatening to confiscate computers, cameras, and harddrives. Nothing ever came of these threats, and indeed, most of the footage the cops were asking for was already online. In fact, the police released a press statement, thanking those members of the public who posted their video’s online, which included those being threatened. So, on one hand, you have the cops harassing people for footage, and on the other, you have those same cops, thanking those who were harassed.

On December 4th, Mike Roy, and Bailey Lamon, of The Indignants, witness 2 local thugs violently arrest a man downtown London. They start filming and taking pictures with their cellphones. After said arrest, they walk home. A couple of days later, the 2 said thugs visit Mike and Bailey. “We’ll toss your place upside down” they said. “We’re gonna come back with a warrant” they said. However, when confronted about what he said, pottruff immediately backtracks and responds 3 times  with “search your place”. And they never bothered coming with a warrant. In fact, they never bothered to come again for this. Seems to me, that if you stand your ground against these thugs, when they are threatening to violate your rights, as they violate your rights by harassing you, they back down. For a little bit. Which is kind of sad when you think about it. They keep trying the same thing, with the same results. You’d think they’d try something different.

Kevin Jones seems to have born the brunt of the harassment from London Police Services as of late. He has been constantly called and harassed over footage, and most recently over a facebook post he made.
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He was was called the next morning, and was informed ” that they have have been monitoring my Facebook posts and he says he is worried about me harming myself”

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I have been informed from people that work in the field, that it is difficult to get the police to do welfare checks on people, when social workers and others ask them to, as required by law. WHAT THE FUCK are they doing pretending to do a welfare check on a peaceful non violent activist, when they can’t even be bothered to do welfare checks on those who actually may need a welfare check.(and lets not get into the whole idea of cops doing “welfare checks” to begin with)

Kevin recieved several more calls after this from unknown numbers, which, if you’ve ever experienced this type of harassment, you’d know that the police never call you from a number in which you can call them direct.(even though they have cellphones) They always block their number. I wonder why they don’t have any transparency there. Seems to me, that public servants should be more than willing to give out their phone numbers to those who ask. Especially considering that pottruff is always looking for new avenues of communication. I’ve asked him several times in the past for his phone number, but he keeps on giving me the stations number. Apparently, it’s ok for him and his friends to call and harass non violent activists, but not ok for the rest of the world. Cops are obviously above the law, when it comes to harassment and intimidation.

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From the Canadian Criminal Code;

  • 264. (1) No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection (2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.
  • Marginal note:Prohibited conduct

    (2) The conduct mentioned in subsection (1) consists of

    • (a) repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them;
    • (b) repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;
    • (c) besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or happens to be; or
    • (d) engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.
  • Marginal note:Punishment

    (3) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of

    • (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
    • (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

There is a hell of a lot more to this story. Watch here for more stories, and check out our previous articles.

How That Catcalling Video Fails

 

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While focusing on one specific aspect of social hierarchy can be successful in demonstrating a particular social issue, it can neglect to see how other issues of oppression might intersect with it. I will be arguing that the video called “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” is effective in the creation of discourse around gender related issues such as patriarchy and street harassment, but at the same time it is insensitive to, and neglects to see intersectionality, allowing for a subtle narrative to be created through negative race and class related stereotypes.

    The video addresses the issue of gender related harassment, utilizing and confirming the patriarchal heteronormative assumption that men would indeed harass and objectify the woman who stars in the short film. The video production was done with the intention of the woman being the object of “the male gaze” through the use of the camera (the gaze), presenting the woman as the center point, positioning the camera directly at her as she walks briskly, showing little emotion and looking straight ahead as she moves through the streets of New York city. As she moves through the streets, it is obvious that “the woman is passive to the active gaze from the men she passes by and this passivity adds to the hegemonic patriarchy to the films narrative.”  The text at the beginning of the film states “Ten hours of silent walking through all areas of Manhattan, wearing jeans and a crew-neck t-shirt.100+ instances of verbal street harassment took place within 10 hours, involving people of all backgrounds.” The problem with this statement is that when you watch the video, you notice that all of the men who harass the woman appear to be visible minorities, contradicting the videos statement about inclusion of “involving people of all backgrounds” and many are just sitting on the side of the street which further reinforces negative stereotypes of race and class.

    Looking at an issue strictly through a singular lense is problematic, because issues of oppression such as classism, sexism and racism are all interrelated. This video, however meaningful in its intentions, is actually very harmful in that it either completely ignores or it intentionally creates a subliminal narrative around race and class. This could be unintentional, but it reinforces negative stereotypes and a notion that people of color should be feared, as the video shows no examples of white males exhibiting this same behaviour.

    The video is successful in demonstrating its goal of creating awareness around street harassment, however its narrow perspective fails to see and even perpetuates negative stereotypes of social hierarchy. This film creates a subconscious narrative which utilizes pre-existing socially constructed racial and social stereotypes which should have been noticed by the production crew. Being socially aware involves being able to take a step back often out of our own privileged perspective to look at how intersectional power dynamics can positively or negatively affect a message.

 

 

By Mike Roy

Sources:

 

10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman. Dir. Rob Bliss. Perf. Shoshana Roberts. Creative and Hollaback, 2014. YouTube. Web.

Crenshaw, Kimberlé. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement. New York: New, 1995. Print.

Kaplan, E. Ann. Psychoanalysis & Cinema. New York: Routledge, 1990. Print.

Mulvey, Laura. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. N.p.: n.p., 1975. Print.

Oster, Erik. “Rob Bliss Creative Takes on Street Harassment for Hollaback.” AgencySpy. Adweek Blog Network, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.

Rosin, Hanna. “The Problem With That Catcalling Video: They Edited Out the White Guys.” XXFactor. Slate.com, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2015.

 

American Sniper A Testament To Right Wing Ideology

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American Sniper is an attempt to portray an ideology of homogenization and imperialism through the ‘othering’ of the Iraqi people. The main character in the movie, Chris Kyle, was unable to escape the ideological framework of his childhood, thereby ignoring any context that sits outside of his community’s core beliefs. American sniper ignores history and firmly implants the idea of the ‘civilized’ versus the ‘savage’.

4b17c3ecd6fd652746e41d44497d3cfeFrom the moment the movie starts there is a continual ‘us versus them’ mentality. At the beginning of the movie we peek into Chris Kyle’s childhood, in particular his relationship with his father, Wayne. Their relationship is one of a traditional mid west family where the man hunts, the woman cooks, and the family goes to church together. This is not necessarily problematic in itself, but it lays the groundwork for how Chris’ conservative ideology was shaped, and how his environment came to be racially and religiously homogenized. While at school, Chris’ younger brother gets into a fight and is beaten up pretty badly by another boy. Chris steps in to defend his brother and fights off the bully. Later that night while Chris is at the dinner table with his family his father starts to lecture the boys about the fight in the schoolyard. He says:

There are three types of people in the world sheep, wolves and Sheepdogs. Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world, and if it ever darkened their doorstep they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves… those are the sheep. Then you got predators who use violence to prey on the weak. They’re the wolves. Then there are those blessed with the gift of aggression and an overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are the rare breed that live to confront the wolf– They are the sheepdog. Now we’re not raising any sheep in this family and I will whoop your ass if you turn into a wolf. But we take care of our own. And if someone picks a fight with you or bullies your brother, you have my permission to finish it.”

This is a defining moment in Chris’ life, and his father’s words stick with him into his adult years.

For Chris “God, country, family” are his core values. Unfortunately, he is unable to see past the dinner table with his father, who has instilled in him the notion of ‘the other’; that which is evil and darkness. The problem with this framework is the fact that one fails to see outside of their own ideology. There is no context given or even needed to understand ‘the other’ because everything other must be evil. This leads Chris to eventually enlist in the United States Navy as a Special Forces sniper. On August 7, 1998, two East African Embassies of the United States were attacked in coordinated bombings and hundreds of Americans died. Chris is watching this on the news when the reporter goes on to say that 80 people are confirmed dead and that “someone’s at war with the United States.” Chris is stunned, he stares blankly at the TV screen as the images of horror flash before his eyes. He says quietly to himself “Look what they did.”  This scenario is repeated again later as Chris and his wife watch the second plane crash into the world trade center on September 11th, 2001.

The Film suggests the Iraq war was in response to 9/11 when the truth of the matter is that the war in Iraq was nothing more than a land grab; an appropriation of resources from a dictator that was not willing to do business as usual with the United States. Ideology is what fueled the conflict with Iraq, not the events on September 11th, 2001. At no point in the movie is the question asked as to why they are fighting. This context is not only overlooked it is intensified by the dehumanization of the people of Iraq.

Lies-of-warGeorge Bush’s war on terror constructed individual interests and a threat to the community as a whole. Everyone 25 years of age and older remembers what they were doing and where they were at the moment the news broke about the planes hitting the world trade center. We were all touched by this tragedy, and it is through this shared experience we set ourselves apart from ‘the other’; through constructed individual interests, and a common bond of sorrow and social values. The attacks on September 11th, 2001 constructed a narrative that furthered a neoliberal ideology controlled by the United States Government and its western allies, referred to as the ‘Coalition Of The Willing’. There were no weapons of mass destruction, the United States and its allies created a domestic threat, or as Chris’s dad would say, the wolf, which required action from the sheepdog, in this case, Chris. 

American Sniper takes a step further from creating ‘the other’, it outright dehumanizes the Iraqi people referring to them only as savages. Chris’ wife asks him about the conflict as she feels he has been quiet and withdrawn, saying “You’re not protecting me by not talking about it.” Chris’ reply to her was “They’re fuckin savages.” This is not the only time the Iraqi people are portrayed this way in the film. This term is the only definition given for the Iraqi people and its given five times throughout the movie.

There is so much more that could be said about this film, and it will undoubtedly go down in history as America’s premier piece of propaganda. It is a tribute to the war on terror and, much like the Nazi film Triumph of the Will made by Leni Riefenstahl in 1934 that chronicles the Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, nationalism and pride are explicit themes. What sets this film apart from Riefenstahl’s 1934 film however is the distinct creation of ‘the other’, the dehumanization of the people it stands against, and the way in which the colonial notion of the civilized versus the savages, the us versus them mentality, is portrayed.

The main character Chris Kyle attitude towards the Iraqi people was largely due to his homogenized and conservative environment. Chris is everything that America stands for in the eyes of traditional Christian Americans. While “God, country, family” are not necessarily bad things, it is when we regard everyone else that falls outside this description as evil.

‘Othering’ is used to enforce ideological control as seen in this movie it can be done by heads of state as well as the head of a family. Combine the idea of ‘the other’ with the inability to question authority and you have a recipe for dogmatic nationalistic authoritarianism much like Communist Russia or Nazi Germany.

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American sniper is the best film to teach people about not only war propaganda, but also good old-fashioned right-wing American values. To think director Clint Eastwood would make a film counter to this would be just silly, after all didn’t he conquer the wild west? With guns a blazing?

Using terror as a systemic way of influencing the masses is in itself a form of terrorism.

 

By Mike Roy

 

Sources:

“American Sniper (2014) – Box Office Mojo.” American Sniper (2014) – Box Office Mojo. Box Office Mojo, 6 Mar. 2015. Web. 7 Mar. 2015.

Hall, Jason, and Chris Kyle. “American Sniper.” (n.d.): n. pag. Warner Brothers. Http://warnerbros.com, 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://pdl.warnerbros.com/wbmovies/awards2014/pdf/as.pdf>.

Hegel, G.W.F.; Miller, A.V. (1977). Hoffmeister, J., ed. Force and the Understanding: Appearance and the Supersensible World: Phenomenology of Spirit (5 ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 98–9.

Lewis, Charles, and Mark R. Smith. “False Pretenses.” Center for Public Integrity. The Center For Public Integrity, 23 Jan. 2008. Web. 7 Mar. 2015. <http://www.publicintegrity.org/2008/01/23/5641/false-pretenses>.

Triumph Des Willens Triumph of the Will. Dir. Leni Riefenstahl. Perf. Adolf Hitler. Phoenix Films, 1935. Web.

Blood on our hands and fear in our hearts: C-51 must be stopped

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On Saturday, March.14th, 2015 people all over “Canada” came together to express their collective rage and refusal to comply with Stephen Harper’ so called “Anti-Terror” Act, bill C-51. Most are against this legislation because it is gravely threatening to our civil liberties, expanding the definition of “terrorism” as well as the powers of spy agencies like CSIS, CSEC, RCMP and local police forces to legally spy on and collect information about any person on suspicion alone. This also means that information collected, including communications content (on and offline), metadata, whereabouts and social networks can be shared among law enforcement and government agencies more freely, on a National and most likely a global scale…Edward Snowden has warned Canadians to be wary of C-51 and points out that as it currently stands, Canada’s surveillance state has some of the weakest oversight in the Western world. According to Snowden’s leaked NSA documents, collaboration between Canada’s spy agencies and the NSA is nothing new…and the same goes for the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance in general, between Canada, Australia, United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. If and when C-51 passes, it will certainly increase the amount of spying that occurs locally and globally. C-51 is an expansion of a much larger surveillance agenda for the purposes of stifling dissent and depoliticizing the population in defense of so called “national security”.

Also included in C-51 is the ability for law enforcement to arrest anyone they desire (again, only on suspicion) as well as hold them in custody for up to seven days without charge. With blanket statements like “terrorism” and “inciting terrorism” having no real meaning aside from remaining broad but serious offences in the eyes of the government, legal experts and scholars warn that the law could be applied to just about anyone who speaks or acts in opposition. Leaked RCMP documents support this fear, as we now know that the Canadian government considers Native activists and environmentalists to be severely threatening to Canada’s national security and economic infrastructure…as opposed to violent people wanting to cause harm and the lone wolves most likely to commit acts of “terror”, those targeted by C-51 will actually be peaceful protesters such as environmentalists, Indigenous land defenders opposed to fracking and pipelines on their territories, war resisters and Palestine activists (who the Canadian government has a special kind of hatred for). What is also concerning is the potential impact on the media…will Canadian journalists be censored or face legal consequences for reporting on certain issues, or reporting on them from certain perspectives that may not be so sympathetic to the conservative party’s agenda?

It is important to remember that these issues are not new, and that law enforcement as we know it was created specifically for the purpose of monitoring and silencing the population, minority voices in particular but really anyone standing up to injustice. Historically and to this day, this has included labour unions, feminists, Indigenous activists, Arab Canadians and queer activists among others. While it is always tragic when innocent lives are lost, such as what occured during the Ottawa shooting, it is this type of tragedy that the government was waiting for. It is the perfect excuse for clamping down on the entire population and manufacturing fear so that it results in more obedience rather than a serious questioning of what our society—and our world, is doing wrong. Steven Blaney, Canada’s minister of public safety, even uses the Holocaust to defend C-51, citing that it “did not begin in the gas chamber, it began with words”, because apparently turning CSIS into a Gestapo-type secret police force is an effective way to combat the growing threat of fascism. The government and many Canadian citizens feel good about themselves when they point fingers at violent people and social problems in other parts of the world, but choose to completely ignore the systemic violence in our own country, such as poverty and mental illness, that may drive a person to religious or other forms of extremism.

Before he carried out the Ottawa shooting, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was purposely committing crimes in the hope that he would be sent to jail for rehabilitation because he could feel his mental state deteriorating…when people feel as though JAIL is their only chance at survival, how can the government justify it’s current actions? How can they put the blame on our Muslim sisters and brothers like they have, simply because a few people are drawn to radical Islam when even CSIS considers white supremacy a bigger threat to Canadians? What a lot of this comes down to is that Stephen Harper is racist against Arabs and enjoys insulting Muslims, especially the autonomy of Muslim women who choose to wear the Hijab or Niqab. According to Stephen Harper and despite head scarves not being limited to any one religion or culture, these garments are “anti-woman”, while telling women how to present themselves is not. And what about the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women who mean nothing to the Harper government as they continue to insist that it’s “not a sociological phenomenon” and doesn’t require more investigative work into questions still unanswered?

There is no jihadist terrorist problem, there is a democracy problem, a white supremacy problem, a poverty problem, an imperialist war problem, and a global exploitation problem. ISIS wants to cut off our heads because in this part of the world we do not use our heads. Just like the Indigenous and First Nations peoples of Turtle Island, human beings all over the world are losing their lands, cultures and lives because of our government’s practices and complacency in wars, genocides, and destruction of the Earth for profit. How can we be surprised by this anger? How can we be shocked or offended by the fact that others think we deserve death when our government spends billions of dollars on bringing death and destruction to the entire world, and then rambling on about peace, freedom, liberty and human rights? As the people living in this country whose job it is to hold the powers that be accountable, how could we have let things get this bad?

We are all responsible for the violent world we live in, and bill C-51 not only restricts our civil liberties but it seeks to wash away the blood on our hands. Fear is a common excuse to obsolve oneself of responsbility and action. The Harper government is doing a fantastic job of maximizing fear to the point where so many are afraid to think for themselves.

The Canadian government has declared war on us. If they want a war, we’ll give them a war. They can try to discredit us, label us as terrorists, put us on lists and lock us up without charge…but regardless of what happens, it is crucial that we do not back down and let them win. There is a lot of talk about “our rights” being taken away, but while these concerns are obviously legitimate I think it is also important to ask ourselves…when did we truly have or deserve these so called “rights” when others didn’t? The fight against C-51 is not just about average people going to jail for their ideas and speech alone—it is about a larger battle for liberation globally. We are in the heart of the beast and if we do not hold our governments accountable in this part of the world, everyone in the world loses.

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PS: To Canadian Edward Snowden if you’re out there…no pressure man, but we could really use your help right now. Just sayin’.