Emergency Debate

I just called the office of my Member of Parliament in advance of tonight’s emergency debate on the Executive Order. It took five minutes.

I spoke as to why the United States’ status as a safe third country should be revoked. There are four criteria for review of a safe third country:

  1. whether it is party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1984 Convention Against Torture;
  2. its policies and practices with respect to claims under the 1951 Refugee Convention, and its obligations under the 1984 Convention Against Torture;
  3. its human rights record; and
  4. whether it is party to an agreement with the Government of Canada for the purpose of sharing responsibility with respect to claims for refugee protection.

I also noted the other points proposed by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Please do this. Find your MP’s phone number here.

Something to do

I am mostly at a loss as to how to respond to today’s events in the US, but here is one thing.

The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement came into effect in 2004, and it states that “refugee claimants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in”. The United States is considered a “safe country” under this law. As of today, refugees from across the Middle East and North Africa who have spent months or years seeking status in the United States are at risk of arriving there only to be turned back to their country of origin. Because of the Safe Third Country Agreement, they cannot then seek refugee status in Canada.

Call your Member of Parliament’s constituency office. Call the office of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen1, at (613) 954-1064. Write Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2. Sign this petition. Tell your friends.

  1. Minister Hussen is a dual Somalian-Canadian citizen and, as of today, can no longer travel to the United States.

An Open Letter to TD Canada Trust

Mr. Bob Dorrance, President & CEO, TD Securities
PO Box 1, TD Bank Tower
66 Wellington Street West
Toronto, ON M5K 1A2

Dear Mr. Dorrance:

I am writing to explain to you my decision to close the bank account and cancel the credit card that I have held with TD Canada Trust since 2011. This is not a decision that I take lightly, and I want you to understand fully the reasoning behind it.

When I opened an account with TD, I did so after evaluating the practices of major Canadian banks, particularly with respect to their stances on anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change and their respect, or lack thereof, for indigenous sovereignty and the duty to consult with indigenous peoples on matters which affect them. In your 2009 Environmental Management Framework, you declare that “Climate Change is a critical and long-term issue that will have a significant negative impact on the global economy and society if left unchecked” (Section IV) and state that “Aboriginal people should be able to provide free and prior informed consent on projects and activities affecting their communit[ies]” (Section V).

TD Securities’ direct investment in Energy Transfer Partners’ $3.7B Dakota Access Pipeline, which would transport crude oil over 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Illinois, absolutely contradicts these stated policies. Not only would the completion of this project serve to further entrench an outdated carbon economy in the United States (to the detriment of climate change action in the Paris Agreement/Accord de Paris which both the U.S.A. and Canada have officially ratified or approved), but it has also faced principled and direct opposition from the Dakota Sioux of Standing Rock, North Dakota and other indigenous peoples since early 2016. In recent months:

  • Police and Energy Transfer Partners private security have arrested1 and attacked2 multiple journalists in direct contravention of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution;
  • Over 1,500 archaeologists, anthropologists and historians formally denounced the Dakota Access Pipeline project for its desecration of Sioux burial grounds and sacred sites3;
  • A complaint has been filed against Energy Transfer Partners by North Dakota state regulators for their failure to disclose the discovery of indigenous artifacts in the course of their construction4;
  • An Energy Transfer Partners subcontractor has injured a protester by running her over with his vehicle while firing live bullets into the air5;
  • Police use of water cannons in sub-zero temperatures this past weekend, alongside rubber bullets, tear gas and concussion grenades, has hospitalized at least seventeen protesters6;
  • During the same police retaliation against peaceful protesters this past weekend, a 21-year-old protestor, Sophia Wilansky, was struck with a concussion grenade which may result in the amputation of her left arm7.

I submit this list of events not in any way as complete documentation of how you and TD have failed to honour your commitments on environmental responsibility and indigenous justice, but as a general reflection of your failures at this crucial juncture in human history. You will not be judged kindly by future generations for having prioritized a return on short-term investments over the most basic of human rights and the long-term viability of our ecosystem. I hope that you will consider this letter and the images that accompany it with the gravity that they deserve, and I look forward to a meaningful response — the divestment of your investments in Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Theodor Ned Zimmerman

P.S. I will be sharing this letter and communicating my decision to friends and family who, as TD Canada Trust account holders, may feel that the same action is warranted.

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