Canadian women, children and Aboriginal people will draw little comfort from the latest United Nations Development Project annual report on human development. The report measures "human development" by combining measures of life expectancy, educational attainment, and income and distinguishes between levels of human development by splitting countries into the categories of "high," "medium" and "low" human development.
Canada rated number one in the "high" (or industrial countries) category, even though 1.2 million children live in poverty and we have more than 460 food banks. Aboriginal people have a life expectancy 5.6 years lower than that of the rest of the population and their income is one-third less.
Among the industrial countries, only Japan, Luxembourg, and the United States are worse in terms of female wages, and over 60% of female-led single parent families live in poverty, second only to the U.S.
The Fifth Annual Pax Christi USA Book Award will be given to Rev. Niall O'Brien for his book Island of Tears, Island of Hope: Living the Gospel in a Revolutionary Situation (Orbis Books, 1993).
The Pax Christi Book Award is presented annually to the author of the book which best promotes peace, upholds the vision of Pax Christi, and witnesses to gospel nonviolence.
O'Brien, an Irish Columban missionary, has spent 30 years ministering on the island of Negros in the Philippines. Negros is the epitome of the disparities in the Third World. Negros' sugar industry means large plantations, wealthy owners, and very poor workers. It also means armed uprisings and counter-violence by armed forces.
Island of Tears, Island of Hope describes the problems in disturbing detail, based on O'Brien's experience of living in this bloodstained environment, including six months in prison as a suspected subversive.
The value of this book goes beyond Negros. Although rooted in the concrete circumstances of the Philippines, it presents the spirituality of nonviolent peacemaking in a straightforward, compelling way. It deals with all the difficult issues of peacemaking in the context of a specific situation.
Honorable Mention goes to Helen Prejean, CSJ for Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States (Random House, 1993). The book details the human reality of victim and executioner, and presents a moving case for a more humane approach to those convicted of capital crimes.
Island of Tears, Island of Hope is available from Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 10545. Dead Man Walking is available from Random House, New York, NY 10022.
"The federal government is meddling where it doesn't belong, and should stop interfering with the collective bargaining rights of northern workers," says Dick Martin.
Martin, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, is referring to the government's decision to appoint a conciliator in the dispute between Miramar-Con Mine Ltd. and the United Steelworkers of America.
Governments rarely appoint conciliators unless the dispute involves essential services or compelling circumstances.
By signing the Comprehensive Human Rights Accord in March, the Guatemalan government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity agreed to end the suffering of the civilian population and protect human rights workers. The U.N. agreed to send a mission to verify compliance with the accord.
In the three months following the signing of the accord, 61 people were extrajudicially executed, nine disappeared, and 50 were threatened. The U.N. mission has still not arrived.
By fax, telephone, or letter, urge the U.N. to install the Verification Mission in Guatemala as soon as possible: U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 1 United Nations Place, New York, NY, 10017; Fax:(212)963-4361, phone: (212)963-5012. Send copies of your faxes or letters to: Guatemalan Human Rights Commission, Box 4274, Vancouver, B.C., V6B 3Z7, or the Guatemalan Cultural Association, Box 75086, Toronto, Ont., M4W 1A0.