Tropical butterflies in Quebec

Giant swallowtail

From AFP news agency today:

Tropical butterfly discovered in Quebec a sign of warming

2 hours ago

MONTREAL — Caterpillars belonging to a species of butterfly previously unknown as far north as Canada have been discovered in Montreal, in a sign that this country’s cool climate is warming, researchers said Monday.

The city’s botanical garden and insectarium said the giant swallowtail butterflies (Papilio cresphontes Cramer) were recently found for the first time on a prickly ash plant there.

“The butterfly’s arrival in Montreal is a very clear example of the impact of climate change,” said a statement.

“In recent decades, milder temperatures in Nordic zones have enabled it to survive the winter and colonize new habitats. Giant swallowtails have gradually moved into Quebec, and the first native chrysalises are about to undergo metamorphosis at the botanical garden any day now!”

Giant swallowtails normally live in Central and South America. Starting in the late 1990s, they began showing up in North America as far north as the southern tip of Canada.

While other butterfly species are also edging northward at a rate of 16 kilometers (10 miles) per decade, the giant swallowtail is moving into new habitats at a rate 15 times faster than average.

Its range now extends a full 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) into areas previously too inhospitable to support a viable population.

With a wingspan of up to 15 cm, or the size of a dinner plate, it is the largest butterfly in North America.

Climate change is driving British wildlife northwards, scientists claim: here.

The warming ocean is significantly changing Australia’s marine ecosystems, with tropical fish appearing as far south as Tasmania and the feeding habits of seabirds changing in the Southern Ocean: here.

Quebec artists against governmental anti-student smear campaign

This video is called Agent provocateurs (Quebec police officers) caught trying to start riot at peaceful protest.

By Keith Jones:

Quebec artists denounce governments’ smear campaign against student strike

14 June 2012

More than 2,500 writers, filmmakers, actors, and others active in the arts in Quebec have signed an open letter to Quebec Culture Minister Christine St. Pierre demanding that she retract her claim that the four-month-long student strike is “violent.”

Commenting on Quebec singer-storyteller Fred Pellerin’s decision to decline a government award so as to show solidarity with the striking students, St. Pierre declared last Friday, “We know what the red square”—the symbol of the strike—“means. It means intimidation, violence. It also means stopping people from studying.”

“We find ourselves today obliged to ask you to make a public apology for these demagogic remarks,” declares the open letter, which has been published on the website of Le Devoir, a newspaper close to the Official Opposition Parti Quebecois. Signatories of the letter include playwright and novelist Michel Tremblay, arguably Quebec’s most celebrated writer, film-maker Léa Pool, film and theater director Martin Faucher, novelist Marie-Claire Blais, and actors Sylvie Drapeau and Normand Chouinard.

The letter accuses St. Pierre of seeking to “debase” the public debate surrounding the students’ struggle for accessible post-secondary education and of dishonestly discrediting the red square “which you well know the great majority of those active in this [the artistic-cultural] milieu wear proudly.”

The letter says Quebec is witnessing a battle between “humanist culture” and “a business culture that is assaulting free thought,” then declares, “If the only argument you’ve decided to address to this profound ideological schism is a recourse to fear to justify the necessity of maintaining order, we insist on reminding you that this game is extremely dangerous.” In a reference to the federal government’s imposition of the War Measures Act in 1970 on the grounds that Quebec was facing an “apprehended insurrection, the letter adds, “To raise the old scarecrows of fear at the service of order brings back terrible memories of a not-so-distant history.”

Responding directly to St. Pierre’s allegations of violence, the letter says: “You like to ‘forget’ that this word which so frequently comes to your lips is not embodied in the hundreds of thousands of people, students and citizens, that walk each night on our streets, but by a police force that shamefully multiplies its acts of brutality against peaceful demonstrators.”

South Korean students, who took part in demonstrations last year calling for the halving of university tuition fees, were punished last month with fines ranging from 150,000 won to 5,000,000 won ($US4,230). As of May 28, fines totalling about 140 million won were imposed on more than 150 student protesters for holding “illegal congregations” without official approval. More penalties are likely as the police investigation is ongoing: here.

Quebec legislator arrested for free speech

This video is about a pro-civil liberties protest in Montreal, Quebec.

By Keith Jones:

Quebec legislator arrested as state repression of student strike continues

7 June 2012

Quebec City police arrested 65 people, including Amir Khadir, Québec Solidaire’s lone member of the provincial parliament, Tuesday evening. Their crime? Demonstrating illegally—that is, without police permission.

Tuesday’s arrests are part of an ongoing campaign of state repression directed against the four month-long Quebec student strike and the mass opposition that has erupted against the provincial Liberal government’s Bill 78. Adopted May 18, Bill 78 criminalizes the student strike and places sweeping restrictions on the right to demonstrate over any issue, anywhere in Quebec.

Khadir and all of those arrested with him Tuesday were handcuffed and transported to a police station where they were forced to identify themselves and subjected to police checks. They were given $494 tickets for violating the Highway Code, on the spurious grounds that the protest was interfering with traffic.

Fearful of the mass opposition to Bill 78, police authorities have been highly selective in its application. Frequently they have chosen to charge people arrested for participating in an “illegal assembly” under municipal bylaws and the Highway Code rather than Bill 78. But both the government and police have said that they reserve the right to lay charges under the punitive provisions of Bill 78 at a later date. Quebec’s emergency law makes persons who participate in a demonstration that has not been police-approved liable to criminal prosecution and minimum fines of $1,000. Demonstration organizers face minimum fines of $7,000.

The Liberal government was quick to endorse the Quebec City Police’s arrest of the parliamentarian Khadir, providing further proof of its contempt for democratic rights. Transport Minister Norm Macmillan accused Khadir of seeking publicity by getting himself arrested. “What he wants is what you’re doing now—talking about him.”

In fact, as Khadir explained at a press conference Wednesday, his arrest was anything but planned. While biking home from the National Assembly, he happened upon a casserole (pots and pans) protest and decided to join it. When police declared the peaceful protest illegal, he ignored them, arguing that the right to demonstrate is constitutionally protected.

Khadir said that his arrest and handcuffing had been a humiliation, even if the police had not been abusive to him. “What I deplore,” said Khadir, “is that there were orders [to illegalize the demonstration and make mass arrests] from the police top command who are allowing themselves to serve as a tool of the government.”