GDC Local 6 Endorses Canadian’s Fight Against Deportation

General Defense Committee Local 6 appeals to all GDC locals and IWW branches to hold fundraisers for the legal defense of Fellow Worker Deepan Budlakoti.

The Canadian government is attempting to strip him of his citizenship, even though he was born in Ottawa, Canada and held a Canadian passport. Both of his parents, immigrants from India, are Canadian citizens.

Deepan ran into some trouble with a break-and-enter in 2009; he was arrested, convicted, served a four-month prison sentence, and released. The next year, the Canadian government decided to deport him as a non-citizen. The police then set an undercover police officer to entrap Deepan for trying to buy two hunting rifles. They also charged him separately with trafficking drugs; lacking the funds to mount a defense, Deepan pled guilty and served nearly 4 years in jail.

Over that time, the government has continually attempted to deport him. After serving his time, he is detained by immigration officials. Only when India refused to issue this Canadian citizen travel documents for deportation did the Canadian government release him on April 10, 2013 under strict conditions.

Since then, the Ottawa-Outaouais GMB has tirelessly sought to win justice for him in two wage theft cases, which have been resolved successfully.

To fight deportation, Deepan has launched a Charter of Rights challenge in the federal government to keep from being deported from his home and native land.

Deepan is on the spearhead of an attempt by the government to use criminal history, even for people that have served their sentences, as cause for stripping them of their citizenship and deporting them. By dehumanizing convicts, immigrants and the children of immigrants in this way, it is then a short step for the government to apply this practice against its critics and political enemies who run afoul of the law during protests, direct action and civil disobedience.

We urge all IWW and GDC members to take the following steps to support Deepan and the fight for all of our freedom:

Please make your presence felt and engage in whatever actions you see as necessary to raise funds and awareness about Deepan’s campaign for justice across Canada and across the world.

Ottawa Police, City Must Stop Harassing Panhandlers

POLICE, CITY MUST STOP HARASSING PANHANDLERS

MAY DAY NEWS RELEASE

May 1, 2013

Ottawa—The Ottawa Panhandlers Union of the Industrial Workers of the World is calling on the Ottawa Police Service and the politicians at City Hall to stop harassing and intimidating panhandlers.

It is time for Ottawans to stand up for this city’s panhandlers. The police continue to use the Safe Streets Act as a tool to sweep the streets, making it more difficult for panhandlers who are trying to simply get by, day by day.

We are urging our members and the public to watch out for police officers who are pulling the following tricks:

Threatening Tickets Citing Irrelevant Bylaws

Police officers are telling panhandlers in the Market area that they are going to issue them tickets using Byward Market Bylaw 2008-449. We’ve read the bylaw and it only applies to vendors; not panhandlers who do not sell anything.

Pressuring business staff and owners to complain about panhandlers

Police are entering businesses in order to solicit complaints from owners and staff about panhandlers on the street nearby. Fortunately, many business owners and staff resist the police pressure to file a complaint. We thank them for their efforts. Police should stop this tactic immediately; it’s not their job to make up complaints so they can harass our members and people on the street.

The Ottawa Panhandlers Union finds these tactics of misinformation and harassment unacceptable. The police should know better.

We urge Ottawans to write their city councillors and the Ottawa Police Service to let them know what they think of this behaviour.

***

The Ottawa Panhandlers Union was formed in 2004 as a way for people on the street to unite, help each other and defend against police, municipal and provincial attacks. For more information or to get involved with the Ottawa Panhandlers Union, email opu@ottawaiww.org.

GDC Local 6: May is Write Political Prisoners Month

The IWW General Defense Committee Local 6 declares May to be Write Political Prisoners month!

We urge General Defense Committee members, IWW members and all members of the working class to send letters and cards to the political prisoners listed below, who are serving time for putting their politics on the frontline.

We urge everyone to write and let them know that we are out there for them because they are in jail for us. Organize a May letter writing session or just commit to writing one letter per week this month to a political prisoner.

Print this 2-page leaflet, GDC May Is Write Political Prisoners Month, and distribute it to your friends and organizations.

The General Defense Committee Local 6 is a regional defense group of the Industrial Workers of the World in Canada. For more information, contact gdc6@ottawaiww.org or visit www.ottawaiww.org.

Toronto G8/G20 Prisoners

Leah Henderson
Vanier Centre for Women
P.O.Box 1040
655 Martin Street
Milton, Ontario
L9T 5E6 Canada
Context: Leah Henderson – 14 month sentence for one count of Counseling to Commit Mischief. Sentence began on December 20th 2011. Leah is scheduled for release in June, 2012.

Amanda Hiscocks
Vanier Centre for Women
P.O.Box 1040
655 Martin Street
Milton, Ontario
L9T 5E6 Canada
Context: Mandy Hiscocks – 18 month sentence for one count of Counselling to Commit Mischief, and one count of Counselling to Obstruct Police. Sentence began on January 13th 2012. Mandy is scheduled for release in December 2012.

Greg Noltie-Rowley
Maplehurst Complex
PO Box 10
661 Martin St.
Milton, ON
L9T 2Y3
Context: Girr (nickname) was arrested in November of 2010 by the G20 Special Investigation Team for his alleged participation in the black bloc action. He was placed under house arrest in Rockwood, just outside of Guelph. He eventually had his conditions reduced to a curfew. Following his preliminary hearing, he pled guilty to one count of Mischief Under $5000, one count of Masked with Intent and one count of Public Nuisance. He was convicted on February 3rd, 2012 and is currently serving a nine month sentence. This is his first conviction.
More G20 prisoners’ info: http://guelphabc.noblogs.org/

Prisoners Who Need Our Support

Leonard Peltier #89637-132
USP-Lewisburg
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Context: http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/write.htm

Joseph Roger Clement (FPS-666866F)
Pittsburgh Institution
Highway 15, No. 3766
PO Box 4510
Kingston, Ontario
K7L 5E5
Context: Ottawa Movement Defense
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ottawa-Movement-Defense/

Marie Mason #04672-061
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127
Note: Marie Mason has a list of 100 people she can write to. So people won’t get a letter back from her. Write her anyways!
Context: http://supportmariemason.org/about/

GDC: Panhandler Piper Defies Community Service Order

A panhandler piper who cut the wires of a competing music speaker in an Ottawa underpass in 2009 is continuing his fight against the city and a welfare system that he says is an institution of modern slavery.

The judge convicted him and sentenced him to 20 hours of community service with the Salvation Army, which he refused. He had filed an appeal, but a misunderstanding over the date in November 2010, meant he missed it. The judge dismissed the appeal due to his absence.

“They gave me a piece of paper with a Salvation Army logo on it for 20 hours and I said, ‘I’m not working for those guys’,” said Loomer, who objects to community service as a form of slavery. He said that obligatory community service enforced by the courts and police is nothing like volunteering and actually working in the community. The Salvation Army and other agencies like it are “religious extensions of the government” that benefit and depend on the free labour given them by such sentences.

Loomer’s refusal to do community service led to a breach of conditions hearing on Jan. 5, 2010, which was then postponed to Jan. 26, pending him getting a lawyer to represent him.

“The Salvation Army has taken on the role of Pharaoh and it’s our part to cross the Red Sea to freedom.”

Loomer is aiming to challenge Ontario’s social welfare system and its requirement that people are destitute and property-less before they can receive help from the government. This system resembles more the ‘poor house’ model of 19th Century England, than one in the present day.

Loomer is not the only one challenging Ontario’s social assistance system. The Social Assistance Review Council declared it as having “outdated models of social assistance” and recommended a total income security review that included Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, disability benefits, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, federal and provincial child benefits, among other tax break and income programs run by the two levels of government. The report said that everyone in the system, from recipients to service providers to recipients think the system is broken, but there is no consensus on how to change it.

The Ontario government responded by announcing a “Social Assistance Review” on November 30, 2010, leaving the victims of the system trapped in a cycle of poverty for another year-and-a-half.

GDC: Ottawa Busker Appeals Conviction

When the City of Ottawa installed speakers and started broadcasting muzak in busker Raymond Loomer’s favourite underpass, he cut the speaker wires one day in May 2009. He then taped the wire on the door of the office door of the Downtown Rideau Business Improvement Area, a business lobby group that has waged a campaign to remove street people and performers from the city centre.

As a tin flute player, he was one of several buskers who relied on the unique acoustics of the downtown Ottawa underpass near the Rideau Centre shopping centre to make a living. Loomer is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). He did not take kindly to having his live music replaced by a machine.

“They were playing music to interfere with our industry,” he said.

City police arrested Loomer and charged him with two counts of mischief under $5,000. He was convicted on May 25, 2010 with a sentence of 12 months probation and 20 hours community service. Loomer represented himself and has appealed, saying the city failed to provide bylaw information he could have used in his defense and that he has rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to make a living and freedom of expression. He objected to the community service as “the slave style practices of government” for appropriating his labour power.

Loomer’s appeal will be heard on November 12, 2010 at the city courthouse.

Ottawa had introduced restrictive bylaws requiring street performers to get a license and perform in designated spots chosen by the city. Ontario’s Safe Streets Act, brought in to target squeegee kids, buskers and other street people making a living on the province’s streets, has set the stage for tighter controls on informal workers.

For more information, visit https://www.ottawaiww.org

GDC Local 6: Donate to Support Panhandlers Union Organizer Andrew Nellis

The IWW General Defense Committee Local 6 is calling on people in Ottawa and Gatineau to donate to help pay the legal bills of Ottawa Panhandlers Union organizer Andrew Nellis. We’ve won the case: all charges were dropped. Andrew can once again walk freely in the city and continue his work of defending panhandlers from city and police harassment. But the legal bill is still there. Donations of $5, $10, $20 or $50 are most welcome.

Send your cheque or money order to “General Defense Committee”, PO Box 52003, 298 Dalhousie St., Ottawa, Ontario K1N 1S0. Any donations left over will go toward establishing a local defense fund for the Ottawa Panhandlers’ Union, which fights for its members rights every day.

GDC Local 6: Trespassing Charges Against Denis Rancourt Dropped

GDC Local 6 congratulates IWW member Denis Rancourt for his victory. On June 25, 2009, the University of Ottawa dropped its charges of trespassing against Denis for coming onto campus to facilitate a film discussion at his weekly Cinema Politica/Academica, which was open to the public. His graduate student Marc Kelly was also arrested, but released without charge.

Denis is still fighting to get his job back, since his questionable dismissal by the University of Ottawa on March 31, 2009. We urge people to help him get reinstated by sending an email to the University of Ottawa president Alan Rock allan.rock@uottawa.ca and please be sure to copy the chair of Denis’ education defense committee claude.cde@gmail.com.

Also, please sign the online petition http://www.petitiononline.com/uOttawa/petition.html

GDC Local 6 Rallies for Professor Rancourt’s Reinstatement

The University of Ottawa fired Denis Rancourt, a physics professor, renowned researcher, and IWW member on March 31, 2009, while he was speaking at an academic freedom conference in New York City.

The university sought to dismiss him on the basis that he had awarded high grades to a graduate level physics class, which Rancourt says he did in order to remove competition and performance as they are obstacles to learning. The university claimed that Rancourt’s marking damaged the institution’s credibility as an academic institution.

Rancourt has said that the university’s board fired him before an April 1 deadline to submit a legal brief in his defense and that it ignored his submission of his students’ exams as proof that he was evaluating students properly. The university disregarded the union’s collective agreement and the grievance procedure by firing Rancourt without allowing him due process in his defense.

The Association of Professors (APUO), a registered trade union that represents university faculty, has announced it will launch an inquiry and it will likely appeal the firing in court.

The IWW General Defense Committee Local 6 is calling for all workers –especially education workers— to take a stand for Denis Rancourt.

Send a message protesting this unfair and unreasonable firing to University of Ottawa President Allan Rock allan.rock@uottawa.ca and send a copy to the chair of the defense committee claude.cde@gmail.com.

Rancourt’s defense committee is also asking people to sign its online petition http://rancourt.academicfreedom.ca/petitions/online-petition.html to reinstate Denis Rancourt

General Defense Committee Local 6 Rallies to Defense of Dissident Professor Denis Rancourt

The University of Ottawa in Canada is planning to fire Denis Rancourt, physics professor, IWW member, and renowned researcher, today, March 31, 2009 .

The university claims it is firing Denis because he announced that all of his students would get A+ grades on the first day of the physics class so that they could get on with learning, rather than compete and perform for grades. The university claims this educational approach damages its reputation and credibility as well as that of its students. In short, grades equal credibility.

The IWW General Defense Committee Local 6 (GDC Local 6) rejects this pretext as an exaggeration that does not justify the university’s repressive approach, which is a threat against academic freedom and education workers’ rights.

More information about Denis’ case is online at the Academic Freedom and Governance at the University of Ottawa weblog http://www.academicfreedom.ca/

We urge all GDC and IWW members to adapt the sample letter below and email it today to University of Ottawa President Allan Rock allan.rock@uottawa.ca and please be sure to copy the chair of Denis’ defense committee claude.cde@gmail.com. Your email can help save Denis’ job so send it today and keep up the pressure.

SAMPLE LETTER
To: University of Ottawa President Allan Rock (allan.rock@uottawa.ca)

Cc: claude.cde@gmail.com (defense committee chair)

March 31, 2009

Dear President Rock,

I am writing to protest the University of Ottawa ’s planned dismissal of Professor Denis Rancourt. The university’s claim that Dr. Rancourt’s assignment of high grades on the first day of one of his classes damages the university’s credibility is an exaggerated pretext for removing a passionate professor dedicated to high quality teaching and research as well as academic reform.

To fire Dr. Rancourt on these weak grounds is a signal that education workers’ rights and academic freedom at the University of Ottawa are under threat. We are gravely concerned that removing Dr. Rancourt will intimidate both faculty and students from speaking up, being creative and taking the initiative in the future.

I urge the university to accept Dr. Rancourt’s offer to resolve this conflict through mediation. I also demand that the University of Ottawa end its suspension of Dr. Rancourt and restore him to his position immediately with no penalty.

For the reinstatement of Dr. Rancourt,

______

Ottawa Drops Charges Against Panhandler Organizer

From the Industrial Worker

Shortly before midnight on April 30, 2008, police arrested Ottawa IWW Panhandlers’ Union organizer Andrew Nellis and searched his bag. Inside the bag, they found several packaged locks and a lock cutter. They charged him with mischief under $5,000 and possession of break and enter tools, the latter a felony charge.

Police alleged that he planned to cut the lock off of a recently constructed fence built in the underpass on Rideau and Sussex streets in downtown Ottawa to prevent the homeless from taking shelter, socializing, and panhandling there. The underpass was the site of previous panhandler protests and meetings.

Nellis told the Industrial Worker that he wanted to replace the city’s lock with a panhandlers’ lock and then distribute key copies to Ottawa’s homeless at the May Day rally the next day.

Prosecutors have since dropped all of the charges.
Nellis’ attorney had pushed for a jury trial and said he would file a constitutional challenge to the City of Ottawa’s right to strip access to shelter on public property from its homeless population. The city had previously fenced off spots under the Mackenzie bridge near a mall and the Rideau Street-Colonel By Drive underpass.

Nellis said he was “disappointed” that the city had dropped the charges against him. He is now planning to sue the City of Ottawa for “vexatious harassment” and false arrest. Nellis spent five days at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre on Innes Road, a prison well known for its poor conditions. Nellis organized the prisoners to protest their “inhumane” conditions, resulting in citywide and national media coverage. The combined inside-outside pressure resulted in immediate improvements for prisoners.

He has petitioned the IWW General Defence Committee Local 6, based in Ottawa, for support in raising funds for his legal fees. To donate, send a cheque or money order to GDC Local 6, PO Box 52003, 298 Dalhousie St., Ottawa, Ontario K1N 1S0, Canada.