Keeping up with Friends

Synthetic Biology
Since the last issue of Quaker Concern we’ve been busy:

  • releasing a new position paper on synthetic biology to grapple with the tough questions,
  • working with partners to host a successful international conference, bringing together synthetic biology critics, enthusiasts, and many just trying to understand the far-reaching implications, and
  • releasing news updates full of information about the editing of human embryos, attempts to eradicate pests in the wild, self-experimentation, and much more.

Our position paper, audio and slides from the conference, and the latest synthetic biology news update are all available at: http://quakerservice.ca/SB2018
 
Letters, statements, endorsements, and blogs
Since our last issue CFSC has shared:

  • Support for whistleblower Chelsea Manning who was denied entry to Canada and told she was “inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality” despite posing no security risk to Canada or Canadians http://quakerservice.ca/ChelseaManning
  • A guest blog post on peace for KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives https://www.kairoscanada.org/spirited-reflection-peacebuilding-ever-present-opportunity
  • Support and encouragement of the active nonviolence of Palestinians, Jewish Israelis, and internationals (mostly Jewish Americans) working together to challenge displacement of Palestinians from the village of Sarura
  • A joint letter in support of a disease treatment centre for Grassy Narrows (the federal government has now committed to building this facility) http://quakerservice.ca/GrassyNov2017
  • An interview with Friend Jane Zavitz-Bond, who may know more than anyone about the history of Canadian Quaker work for peace and justice, having volunteered as Friends’ archivist since the 1970s http://quakerservice.ca/CFSCHistory
  • Endorsement of a Multi-Faith Charter brought to the president overseeing the 2017 climate change conference in Bonn, Germany
  • A joint letter calling for action on racism in Canada http://quakerservice.ca/ActOnRacism

 
Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty
In September, 50 countries signed the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Canadian government was among the handful of countries that refused to even attend the meetings leading to the remarkably popular Treaty. Since Canada has yet to show leadership on nuclear disarmament, many citizens, including individual MPs, have come out to sign the Treaty themselves. Find out more and see pictures from the citizen signing ceremony sponsored by CFSC and many others: http://quakerservice.ca/NuclearBan
 
The long awaited changes to Bill C-51
In 2015 we joined hundreds of thousands of Canadians in expressing deep concerns over the Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-51) and other aspects of Canada’s approaches to national security (see http://quakerservice.ca/C51 and http://quakerservice.ca/NationalSecurity).
 
After consultations (but not necessarily incorporating the feedback received), a new bill has been introduced, Bill C-59. It’s a long and complex omnibus bill with nine different sections. It has some good elements, and some very troubling ones. The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (CFSC is a member) has been working to analyze and explain what exactly this legislation means for Canadians. They’re also calling for major changes to it. Learn more about Bill C-59 at http://iclmg.ca/issues/bill-c-59-the-national-security-act-of-2017/ You may also feel led to call for changes to the Bill: http://iclmg.ca/act-on-c59/