Canada votes against UN motion calling on Israel to open up nuclear program to inspection

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Canada votes against UN motion calling on Israel to open up nuclear program to inspection

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Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press
Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012

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John Baird, Foreign Affairs minister for Canada, address the U.N. General Assembly where Palestine received recognition as a state on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 in New York. Palestinians won the statehood vote, even as the U.S., Israel’s closest ally, mounted a campaign to head off the General Assembly vote. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Canada was on the losing side of a vote after the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on Israel to quickly open its nuclear program for inspection and backing a high-level conference to ban nuclear weapons from the Middle East which was just cancelled.

All the Arab nations and Iran had planned to attend the conference in mid-December in Helsinki, Finland, but the United States announced on Nov. 23 that it wouldn’t take place, citing political turmoil in the region and Iran’s defiant stance on nonproliferation. Iran and some Arab nations countered that the real reason for the cancellation was Israel’s refusal to attend.

The resolution, approved Monday by a vote of 174-6 with 6 abstentions, calls on Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty “without further delay” and open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Those voting “no” were Israel, the U.S., Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

Resolutions adopted by the 193-member General Assembly are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry moral and political weight.

Israel refuses to confirm or deny it has nuclear bombs though it is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal. It has refused to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, along with three nuclear weapon states — India, Pakistan and North Korea.

The Arab proposal to create a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Mideast, and to pressure Israel to give up its undeclared arsenal of perhaps 80 nuclear warheads, was endorsed at an NPT conference in 1995 but never acted on. In 2010, the 189 parties to the 1970 treaty called for convening a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.

The resolution, which was approved by the assembly’s disarmament committee before the conference was cancelled, noted the decision to hold it “with satisfaction.”

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, uses a chart as he speaks about the Iranian nuclear program during the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 27, 2012 at UN headquarters in New York STAN HONDA/AFP/GettyImages

But Israel has long said there first must be a Mideast peace agreement before the establishment of a Mideast zone free of weapons of mass destruction. The region’s Muslim nations argue that Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal presents the greatest threat to peace in the region.

The Israeli government had no immediate comment on Monday’s General Assembly vote.

Last week, the General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians to that of a nonmember observer state, endorsing an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Just before Monday’s vote, Iranian diplomat Khodadad Seifi told the assembly “the truth is that the Israeli regime is the only party which rejected to conditions for a conference.” He called for “strong pressure on that regime to participate in the conference without any preconditions.”

Israeli diplomat Isi Yanouka said his country has continuously pointed to the danger of nuclear proliferation in the Mideast, singling out Iran and Syria by name.

“All these cases challenge Israel’s security and cast a dark shadow at the prospect of embarking on a meaningful regional security process,” he said.

“The fact that the sponsors include in this anti-Israeli resolution language referring to the 2012 conference proves above all the ill-intent of the Arab states with regard to this conference,” Yanouka said.

Syrian diplomat Abdullah Hallak told the assembly his government was angry that the conference wasn’t going to take place because of “the whim of just one party, a party with nuclear warheads.”

“We call on the international community to put pressure on Israel to accept the NPT, get rid of its arsenal and delivery systems, in order to allow for peace and stability in our region,” he said.

The conference’s main sponsors are the U.S., Russia and Britain. British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has said it is being postponed, not cancelled.

While the United States voted against the resolution, it voted in favour of two paragraphs in it that were put to separate votes. Both support universal adherence to the NPT, and call on those countries that aren’t parties to ratify it “at the earliest date.” The only “no” votes on those paragraphs were Israel and India.

Posted in: News Tags: Canada, Israel & Middle East, Israel

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Canada stands alone on Mideast: Ottawa readies political strike at Palestinian AuthorityOttawa to recall diplomats after Baird’s strong rebuke of Palestinian votePressure mounts on Israel as U.S. joins in on criticism of settlements

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First Nation communities behind schools’ success

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First Nation communities behind schools’ success

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By John Balogh, Times Colonist May 15, 2012

Re: “Aboriginal students find success in Sooke,” May 13.

I was so happy to read the story about the high graduation rates for First Nations children in the Sooke school district. I commend the great work of Kathleen King-Hunt and her colleagues.

One important element missing from the story is that the true driving force for better graduation rates comes from the First Nations communities themselves, and the dedication of the children in those communities. I know that Chief Gordon Planes and the Tsouke community, for instance, have worked tirelessly to raise their graduation rates as part of a wholistic community plan which has also seen the community become leaders in solar energy and sustainable food production, among many community initiatives.

I would have loved to see an interview with Planes or at least an acknowledgement of his community’s leadership on the education front. Without that voice, there may be a misconception that change within First Nations communities is driven from the outside rather than the reality that I’ve observed, which is communities working hard to bring outside institutions, such as school districts, onside to partner with them to achieve success.

Congratulations to the First Nations communities around Sooke, the First Nations students and the Sooke school district for this great achievement.

John Balogh

Victoria

© Copyright (c) Times Colonist

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Rash of suicides prompts B.C. chief to plea for help – British Columbia – CBC News

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Rash of suicides prompts B.C. chief to plea for help

Cowichan tribes dealing with high unemployment, erosion of rights, says chief

The Canadian Press

Posted: May 14, 2012 7:13 PM PT

Last Updated: May 14, 2012 9:11 PM PT

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Cowichan Chief Harvey Alphonse says his First Nation is developing a plan, but they need outside help, too.Cowichan Chief Harvey Alphonse says his First Nation is developing a plan, but they need outside help, too. (CBC)

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First Nations’ suicide prevention guide celebrates diversity

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B.C. First Nation emergency2:43
Play iconB.C.'s Cowichan Tribes has declared a state of emergency after enduring a devastating number of suicides and attempted suicides in just four monthsB.C. First Nation emergency2:43

Suicide is tearing apart one of the largest aboriginal nations in B.C., causing the chief and council to reach out for government help and issue a gut-wrenching plea to its young people to embrace life.

Cowichan Tribes Chief Harvey Alphonse said Monday many young people have lost their will to live and it’s spawned a disturbing spike in suicides and attempted suicides.

“My own personal experience is that a couple of individuals that have approached me have considered taking their life. . . They’ve given up because they feel there isn’t any hope for them,” he said at a news conference.

‘There is a sense of hopelessness.’—Chief Harvey Alphonse

Last week, Alphonse and his council signed a declaration calling for a local state of emergency, noting that suicide alerts have jumped by more than 2.5 times in the past five years.

Alphonse said his First Nation has lost two tribal employees to suicide in recent months.

“We are losing our most valuable resources — our children and our caregivers,” he said.

Four in two months

From Feb. 26 to April 26, four First Nations males who were living between Duncan, B.C., and Nanaimo, B.C., committed suicide, said B.C. Corners Service spokeswoman Barbara McLintock.

Three of the four appear to be Cowichan members and were in their 20s and 30s, she said, adding the fourth male was 72 years old.

Alphonse said the Cowichan Tribes is developing a strategic plan, “Embracing Life at Cowichan Tribes,” and is asking the federal and B.C. governments to bring in resources to help prevent further suicide deaths or attempts.

Alphonse said a tragic event from his personal life highlights the critical need for immediate government response to suicide issues.

He said he once chose to wait a short time before helping a friend who spoke of suicide, but he made the wrong choice.

“It’s something that I regret to this day,” said Alphonse. “I had asked him to wait for at least half an hour while I delivered some equipment back to the rental place I rented the equipment from and when I had returned, he had already completed the suicide.”

“So I know personally the impact when someone is talking about committing suicide, that it’s important to stay there because you may not have the second chance,” he said.

Appeals to government

Alphonse called on federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan to visit the Cowichan Tribes and start to work with the First Nation on an urgent basis to address suicide prevention.

Alphonse acknowledged that other First Nations across Canada are struggling with equally troubling issues, but Duncan needs to come to Cowichan, “because of the valuable resources — because of our children who are crying out for help.”

Three boys of the Cowichan tribes walk along a road on their reserve near Duncan, B.C.Three boys of the Cowichan tribes walk along a road on their reserve near Duncan, B.C. (CBC)

Duncan could not be immediately reached for comment, but a spokesman for federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said her department will contact the Cowichan Tribes in the coming days to offer help.

Steve Outhouse said Ottawa can bring extra resources to the First Nation.

Alphonse said the high unemployment rate in his community, which he estimated at 85 per cent, is contributing to a deepening malaise that has grown deadly.

“There is a sense of hopelessness,” he said.

“We’re at a time where I guess the economy is difficult, there’s high unemployment, many of the inherent rights that we know of are being eroded, for example our hunting rights, our fishing rights.”

The Cowichan Tribes, with 4,500 members, bills itself as the single-largest band government in B.C., and its traditional territory covers the area of Cowichan Valley on the southeast side of Vancouver Island.

Alphonse said the declaration is part of a plan to give band members hope that the epidemic will end.

“It’s devastating whenever an individual is successful,” he said. “It impacts not only the immediate family, but the entire community. That’s where the ripple effect seems to take place.”

© The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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Trafficking our children | Indian Country Today | Content

Alone on the streets of Vancouver’s downtown Eastside, abruptly abandoned by her new “boyfriend,” she was accosted by an older man who said he’d bought her, and insisted she now belonged to him.

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Cherri was told she’d have to earn her keep, and soon became part of his “stable” of children forced into sexual slavery by a savvy racket of pimps and pedophiles who prey on vulnerable young girls with nowhere to go.

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