The Electric Pencil

Archive for June 2009

I *heart* marching bands

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Especially anarchist marching bands.

I’m editing together a piece about Abousfian Abdelrazik’s return to Canada. In the meantime, here’s a short clip from that night and a shout out to the ever-awesome Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble:

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Written by Tim McSorley

June 29, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Welcome back, Abdelrazik

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Abousfian Abdlerazik (right) and his lawyer Yavar Hameed wait to board a plane for Canada in Khartoum. From

Abousfian Abdlerazik (right) and his lawyer Yavar Hameed wait to board a plane for Canada in Khartoum. From

Finally. After six long years, Abousfian Abdelrazik is returning to Canada.

A Canadian citizen, Abdelrazik went to Sudan in 2003 to visit his mother; he had no idea what awaited him. He would be arrested twice – and alledgedly tortured – by Sudanese police who accused him of having links to terrorists, supported by information they received from Canadian officials. No charges were brought either time, and he was eventually let go. But Abdelrazik was not able to return home. He had been placed on a UN no-fly list so no commercial airline would take him.

And despite the fact that Canadian Security and Intellignece Services eventually cleared him of any links to terrorists, the Conservative government refused to find a way to bring him home. They could have allowed him passage on government-chartered planes leaving with Canadian officials from Sudan, but they did not grant him access. Instead, he has been living in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum while waiting for a court case in Canada to play out.

It finally did recently, with a federal court judge ordering the Canadian government to bring Abdelrazik home. Officials were mum until the appeal deadline (last Friday), but finally announced they would allow him to return.

And today is the day: people are invited to gather at the corner of Ste-Catherine and St-Hubert tonight at midnight to greet Abdelrazik after his 6-year-long forced exile. According to supporters:

One of the few things that he indicated he would like is to greet some of his supporters upon his
arrival. It’s the least we can do.

You can find out more information about his plight (and double-check that his flight is coming in on time) at

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Written by Tim McSorley

June 27, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Groundwire: grassroots news for Canada

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groundwire-bgEvery morning CKUT 90.3FM, the campus community station I volunteer with in Montreal, plays 15 minutes of headlines from the amazing New York-based Democracy Now. But while I enjoy the news I get from DN everyday, more and more I’ve been thinking, ‘I really wish someone was doing this in Canada.’

And while it may not be at the level of Democracy Now yet, GroundWire is providing the answer to that wish. GW is a Canada-wide half-hour grassroots news program produced on a rotating basis by community radio station across the country (full-disclosure: I produced a short piece for them back in Feb 09) . Thanks to a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada, they’ve just gone from producing the show every month to every two weeks, and the quality and scope is constantly improving.

The first bi-weekly program just came out: take a listen at, and spread the word!

Written by Tim McSorley

June 17, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Posted in media, Montreal

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Dupuis still doesn’t get it

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Listening to CBC report on yesterday’s events in Montreal North, it seems like Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis still doesn’t get it.

Last night there was a confrontation between police and youth in Montreal North. News outlets are reporting that residents of the Montreal borough called police, disturbed by a group of youth in a nearby park who were allegedly drinking and causing a disturbance. Police say when officers arrived, they were surrounded by the youth and needed to call back-up. Reports go on to say the youth then started throwing bottles and other objects at police and causing damage, including breaking car windows.

It was a different park, but the same area where Fredy Villanueva was shot and killed by police last summer. The hearings into Villanueva’s death have been suspended after most witnesses, including Villanueva’s family, refused to participate for a variety of reasons, including the fact the commission was not allowed to find fault and Minister Dupuis’ refusal to provide funds to help pay for lawyers of those assisting in the public hearings.

The events weren’t a direct response to Fredy Villanueva’s death, but Dupuis’ statements this morning to CBC radio that there is no link between the two events is more than a little staggering. All the more so since on CBC Radio Noon right now, residents, police and community activists are all saying that there is a link. Tensions in the community remain high, they are expalining, and youth are still suspicious of police.

And according to resident Will Prosper, a member of Montréal-Nord Républik, not enough has been done to either improve policing tactics or the living conditions of residents of one of Montreal’s poorest areas despite promises by the city and provincial government to work on both after Villanueva’s senseless death.

Until politicians like Dupuis and folks on the bourough council in Montréal-Nord start to understand all this, and until there is closure on the death of Fredy Villanueva, tensions in the area are doomed to continue.

Written by Tim McSorley

June 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm