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[l] at 9/30/22 11:22am
I’ve known Sarah Polley since she was a young activist. Over the years, I’ve watched her career as a film and TV writer and director with some pride. She helped me enormously by telling me about a concussion clinic in Pittsburg a few years ago, so I was aware that she had been unable to continue directing because of her concussion.  Polley has come back to directing with Women Talking, one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. Based on the extraordinary book by Miriam Toews, Women Talking is a powerful feminist film not only about women organizing to confront or escape male violence but also about the different ways trauma affects us and how to emerge from its grip. As the film begins we see this line “what follows is an act of female imagination.” I am struck by the fact that such a film could even be made within the Hollywood system.   The story, as you may know, is based on a true horror story of an extremely conservative patriarchal Mormon colony in Bolivia where seven men were convicted of drugging and raping more than 100 women and girls in 2011. The film, as does the book, imagines the women are meeting in a barn to discuss whether to stay and fight, leave or do nothing in face of the realization that so many of them and their daughters have been sexually assaulted over night after being drugged. The men have left the colony to bail out the rapists. There is not much time to decide what to do. I’m not a film critic but the acting, cinematography, writing and direction is all wonderful enough that a film that is literally about women talking held my interest for the entire runtime without pause. It is a profoundly feminist film for the obvious reason that trauma from sexual assault is central to many women’s lives and gendered violence affects many more.  But more than that, we see a group of women who have not been taught to read or write as is the belief of their sect, who are basically slaves to the men in their community, who have taught their daughters to accept these conditions based on their religious beliefs are able to face the horror of what happened to them and then debate, discuss and sometimes fight about what to do.   Most of them believe that leaving the community will mean that they won’t go to heaven. Despite the extreme circumstances, the debate reflects many of the debates we have had about how to end violence against women. Some argue that it is up to the police and courts to punish these men, not up to the group. Others argue that whether or not the rapists are punished doesn’t solve the problem faced by the women, or even guarantee the protection of their children. Can they leave and create their own beloved community? If they stay and fight  won’t they become like their assaulters taking their anger out in violence? Despite the extreme circumstance, the debate and discussion reminded me of some deep divisions I’ve been part of debating in the feminist movement and on the Left.  Debates about violence and non-violence, whether to include men on a march, how to stand up to the Catholic Church on abortion, whether to defy the law. As sometimes the case in social movements, or in the decision of whether to become an activist, whatever they decide will profoundly change their lives. In the film we also experienced how different women are affected by their trauma in profoundly different ways from deeply angry to almost beatific. We also learn that it isn’t only the men who are responsible because mothers have taught their daughters to accept the conditions. And perhaps most extraordinary of all, Sarah respected the religious beliefs of the women. In the Q and A after the film, Sarah talked about how the process of the film was also feminist. As the mother of three young children, she didn’t want the ten-hour days that are normal practice on a film so she organized it differently. There was a therapist on site to help actors and others deal with the psychological impact of the story. Instead of acting the usual role of the brilliant, domineering auteur writer-director, she encouraged her crew and the actors to contribute to how the film was being made, especially at crucial decisions.   Women Talking made me feel hope for the future. It is coming to a theatre near you in December. Please see it in the theatre. I’m sure it won’t have nearly the impact on your TV or computer. The post Women Talking gives me hope for the future appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Feminism, Bolivia, Mormon, solidarity]

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[l] at 9/30/22 9:54am
For politicians, the hardest intellectual test is to not fall into boilerplate rhetoric — what Harold Innis called the “grooves of thought” always lurking to channel us down conventional, befuddling mental pathways. The opening session of the United Nations each September is a cesspool of that kind of speechifying. Everyone talks about how noble their country is and how vile their adversaries are. For our side, Canadian ambassador Bob Rae and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly burbled about how evil Russia is and how virtuously feminist our policy is. None of that is wrong, but it’s oblique and self-congratulatory. It leaves out what we’ve failed at and where we should’ve done better. By this standard, even Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave an effective speech. He pointed out the failings of the U.S. and NATO (rightly I’d say, for the most part) but omitted Russia’s execrable invasion of a sovereign Ukraine and the obscene destruction it has wreaked. So it goes. Then came Colombia’s newly elected president Gustavo Petro. Like a leader dropped from another planet. He spoke from the heart, in literate, even literary words on unanticipated themes. He didn’t chug along the usual tracks. “I come,” he said, “from a country of blood-soaked beauty.” How true. Colombia has seen continuing war for about 60 years: over 450,000 casualties, by some counts; 177,000 civilians killed. It dwarfs many better-known wars. All in the name of a war on drugs, on coca — “the sacred plant of the Incas,” said Petro. But “the rainforest is not to blame. The culprit is your society educated in endless consumption, in the stupid confusion between consumption and happiness.” Petro referenced Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez (“yellow butterflies and magic”) and Eduardo Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin America” (“my wounded Latin America”). He deplored wars “that have served you as an excuse for not acting against the climate crisis,” naming them and their causes: oil, money. At 17, Petro joined a guerrilla army. His pseudonym was Aureliano, a figure in Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” He was caught, tortured and jailed. Later, he moved to electoral politics and became Bogota’s mayor. He admired Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez but criticized his reliance on fossil fuels, those destroyers of the ecosystem, as he criticized Chavez’s successor for authoritarianism. We in the rich world may be reluctant to speak this way, or sound as if we want to limit growth in poor countries. Coming from the south, Petro hasn’t those constraints. Rae and Joly should be so bold in calling out, say, Canadian mining companies in Colombia for their influence on mining laws — which the miners’ union leader (who’s been targeted for assassination by right-wing paramilitaries) called a “Canadian manipulation to benefit foreign companies.” Whoops, is this a regression to Third Worldism, the romanticization of radical voices from subjugated countries? If so, it’s a noble tradition, reaching much farther back than a 1960s infatuation with Che and Fidel. David Graeber and David Wengrow note in their recent work “The Dawn of Everything” that most of the brightest ideas of the European Enlightenment in the 18th century came from encounters with American (meaning Indigenous) leaders and thinkers. Those encounters injected critiques of European religious dogmatism, social inequality and crass materialism into “western” thought. Many books described the meetings. In the realm of democracy, they laid special emphasis on Aboriginal political systems in “New France” among peoples like the Huron or Iroquois. This is a revisionist view, to be sure. At the time, the influence was widely acknowledged by figures like Rousseau or Voltaire, but has since been revoked in assertions of Eurocentric cultural superiority. Yet there was travel back and forth by “intellectuals” on both sides of the Atlantic. Everyone knew it, then. We — the Euro side — desperately need to hear from “other” voices. We’re in a war in Ukraine that could probably have been avoided, which has completely sidelined the existential threat of climate disaster. Where are the sane speakers? Surprisingly, at the podium in the UN, alongside the usual ranters, liars and self-servers. This column originally appeared in the Toronto Star. The post Alongside the usual ranters and liars at UN’s fall opening, real inspiration from Colombia appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: World Politics, Colombia, Gustavo Petro]

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[l] at 9/30/22 8:39am
There will be an election in Quebec this coming Monday, October 3, and it looks like it will be a perfect storm for the first-past-the-post system. The governing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) is likely to win somewhere between 37 and 40 per cent of the popular vote, but that will give it about three quarters or 75 per cent of the seats in the National Assembly. The composition of the Quebec legislature will not correspond to the choices voters make. But it could have been a different story. When he was a candidate four years ago, CAQ leader François Legault promised, without qualification of any sort, that he would reform Quebec’s electoral system.  Reporters pointed out that Justin Trudeau had made the same promise, federally, in 2015, then, once he won under the existing system, reneged.  Legault scoffed. I am not Trudeau, he said. I will have the guts to carry out my pledge.  That was then. Now, Legault says he doesn’t perceive any demand from the population for a different electoral system, so it is no longer a priority for him.  It just so happens that the current system hugely favours the CAQ. That’s because the governing party faces a highly fractionalized opposition. Four parties are competing with the CAQ in this election and all opinion polls indicate they are close to each other on popular support. No poll gives any opposition party as much as 20 per cent of the vote. They are all in the teens.  The two traditional governing parties are in trouble For many decades from 1970 onward the main parties in Quebec were the federalist and centrist Liberal Party of Quebec (not formally connected to the federal Liberals) and the separatist, sometimes social-democratic Parti Québécois (PQ).  Until the last election in 2018 one or other of those two parties had formed the government of Quebec for nearly five decades. But those two traditional parties have now fallen on hard times.  The Liberals have long been the overwhelming choice of English and other non-francophone Quebeckers, and they still are today.  But, until recently, the Quebec Liberals have also enjoyed significant support among francophones. Last time, the party won 31 out of the 124 seats in Quebec’s National Assembly, more than half of which were in predominantly francophone areas.  Most of those seats are in danger this time around.  French-speaking Quebeckers appear to have abandoned the Liberals, now led by Dominique Anglade, the Liberals’ first woman leader and the first person of colour to lead a major party in Quebec. Anglade is an articulate leader with an impressive personal story.  She is a mother raising children who are still in school, and an engineer who can talk knowledgably about infrastructure projects. As the campaign has progressed, Anglade has earned points for her character and intelligence.  That might save her party some of the seats it currently holds. As for the PQ, it dropped to a mere seven seats last time, and, at the outset of the campaign, looked like it could drop even further this time.  At one point, many polls had the PQ reduced to only one or two seats, but solid performances in two televised debates by leader Paul St. Pierre Plamondon appear to have helped the party somewhat.  The party founded by René Lévesque, which held power as recently as eight years ago, could now, observers say, save face by winning a handful of seats. A socialist party and one on the populist right Vying for support with the PQ and Liberals are two (relatively) new kids on the block: the left-of-centre Quebec Solidaire (QS) and the Quebec Conservative party.  Québec Solidaire has been around for a while. It was founded as a coalition of progressive forces in the early 2000s.  QS has competed in five Quebec elections, starting in 2007, but until the last election it did not win more than three seats. Last time it won 10, and doubled its popular vote vis-a-vis the previous election.  Québec Solidaire has a collective leadership model. It has two spokespeople, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Manon Massé, and the role is rotated Currently Nadeau-Dubois has the job. He has been acting as de facto leader during the campaign.  Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois gained prominence in the spring of 2012, when he was one of the leaders of a series of student strikes that became known as le printemps érable, a play on words on le printemps arabe, or Arab spring. (The English “maple spring” does not capture the ironic reference.) Nadeau-Dubois has generated a lot of conversation with his call for a one per cent wealth tax on taxpayers’ net worth in excess of $1 million and a 35 per cent tax on the portions of inheritances that excess $1 million.  He has also elaborated ambitious plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which include a new tax on oversized gas-guzzling vehicles. As for the Conservatives – in their current form they have existed since 2009, but have been an insignificant factor, winning zero seats and almost as few votes – until last year. That is when they chose former radio talk-show personality Éric Duhaime as their leader. Duhaime’s populist straight talk has managed to attract the support of the not inconsiderable number of Quebeckers who, like the truckers who occupied Ottawa last winter, have been vehemently opposed to all government mandates to deal with the COVID epidemic, from masks to vaccines to restrictions on gatherings. The Quebec Conservatives are not formally connected to Pierre Poilievre’s federal party, but the two parties employ much of the same rhetoric. Like Poilievre, Duhaime’s theme is freedom (although Duhaime would not extend that untrammeled freedom to a teacher who wore a hijab).  Also like the federal Conservatives, Duhaime is hostile to government action to combat greenhouse gas emissions.  Duhaime is the only party leader to call for Quebec to allow fracking for shale gas.  But while the four opposition parties might range from the socialist left to the far right, the leader in the catbird seat is the current premier, the leader of the CAQ. Duplessis reincarnate? François Legault helped form the Coalition Avenir Québec in large part to move past what he and others called the “sterile debate” between federalist and separatist which had dominated Quebec politics for too long. The CAQ gave itself the name it did because it invited both separatists and federalists to set aside their constitutional differences and form a coalition, focused on economic growth and competitiveness, and on making gains for Quebec within Canada. In a way, Legault was reimagining Maurice Duplessis’ Union Nationale party, which had governed Quebec almost continuously from 1936 to 1960, and then again from 1966 to 1970. The Union Nationale combined conservative, pro-foreign investment, anti-labour-union policies with a close alliance with the Roman Catholic hierarchy and a nationalist streak that emphasized provincial autonomy.  The Quebec of 2022 is different from that of the first half of the 20th century, so Legault had to, in essence, modernize Duplessis’ vision.  In that, he has been remarkably successful. After winning power in 2018, Legault proceeded, as he promised, to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy by partially decentralizing the health care system, reducing the size of the provincial public service (especially that of the publicly-owned electric utility Hydro Quebec), and abolishing local school boards.  On the non-economic and administrative front, Legault focused hard on what Quebeckers call la question identitaire – the issue of identity.  The CAQ leader’s two proudest achievements are Law 21, which makes it illegal for public servants such as teachers and police officers to wear visible signs, such as a hijab, of their religion, and Law 96, which tightens the Quebec French Language Charter often referred to as Law 101.  Law 96 reduces the minimum size for a business that must operate in French from 50 to 25 employees. It also changes the status of many towns that previously offered services in both French and English, requiring them, heretofore, to operate exclusively in French. In 2020, the need to cope with the unexpected and frightening contingencies of a global pandemic completely took over the Legault government’s agenda – as it did for many other governments. From the outset, the CAQ leader was ready to use the full power of the state to limit the spread of a disease that threatened the viability of a health care system which is stretched to the limit at the best of times.  Legault was the only North American leader to impose curfews on his population – and he did so more than once. There were big failures in Quebec, most notably in the long-term care sector, where the death toll was disastrous. But Legault’s steadfastness earned him respect, and probably accounts for a good part of his current popularity. Oddly, there has been little talk during the 2022 campaign about the pandemic. In debates, Legault has tried to make it seem as though the choice was between his sober and responsible economic program and what he calls Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois’ “pays de merveilles” (house of wonders).  In one debate, the CAQ and QS leaders argued intensely over QS’s proposed new taxes, including a big one on the purchase of some vehicles.  Legault said buyers of Dodge Caravans would pay $7,000 extra under the QS plan. Nadeau-Dubois countered that those who bought Toyota RAV4s would pay no extra tax. The QS leader added that the fuel-efficient RAV4 is hugely more popular in Quebec than the polluting Caravan. In 2021, for every single Caravan they purchased, Quebeckers bought twenty-four RAV4s. More importantly, in the face of Legault’s near-condescending attacks, the QS leader did not try to fudge his party’s tax policies.  The new taxes would be aimed, Nadeau-Dubois said, at achieving greater economic and social equality. As well, he explained, the government needs additional revenue to adequately finance health care, education and social services – all of which are currently underfunded.  While Legault hopes many Quebeckers will find Québec Solidaire’s so-called tax-and-spend proposals scary, there has been a lot of other noise in the campaign to distract voters’ attention away from bread-and-butter issues. In fact, this year in Quebec economic and social policies took a back seat to the perennial conundrum of identity – or, more precisely, the divisive issue of immigration. Outbursts of anti-immigrant bigotry François Legault has proposed restricting the number of new immigrants to Quebec to 50,000 per year. The PQ wants to reduce that to a paltry 30,000.  On the other side of the argument, both the Liberals and QS want to increase immigration, the former to 70,000 per year, the latter to 80,000. Nadeau-Dubois says Quebec’s regions, outside the major cities, are in desperate need of new workers, and cannot find them locally.  Both the QS’s Nadeau-Dubois and Liberal leader Dominique Anglade point out that Quebec employers now depend on thousands of temporary foreign workers.  Part of Nadeau-Dubois’s immigration strategy would be to provide those temporary workers with a clear path to permanent residence status. But most of the campaign talk on immigration has not been about numbers. Early in the campaign, Legault put his foot in his mouth when he implied immigrants, in general, do not share Quebec “values” and were likely to import extremist ideologies from their home countries. The CAQ leader had to apologize for that misstatement.  One suspects, however, that Legault was acting like the lawyer who knowingly utters something out of order in court precisely because he wants the jury – or, at least, some members of the jury – to hear it. Legault tried to move on from immigration after that episode, but in the dying days of the campaign the words of one of his cabinet ministers put the issue back on the front burner. Less than a week before voting day, video emerged of Legault’s minister of immigration Jean Boulet telling a local audience that, in his view, immigrants don’t work, settle exclusively in Montreal, and refuse to learn French.  Those allegations bear no resemblance to the truth, as almost every commentator was quick to point out. And so, again, Legault was forced to apologize.  Indeed, when questioned by Radio-Canada’s Alec Castonguay, Legault said flatly that Boulet would not be invited to serve as immigration minister in a post-election CAQ government.  The other party leaders all pounced, of course.  Even Éric Duhaime, the master of wanton political incorrectness, couldn’t resist taking a shot. He called for Boulet’s immediate resignation. As for the voters, in interviews some expressed abhorrence at the CAQ’s unjustified and persistent denigration of hardworking immigrants.  Others said they found Boulet’s comments to be disagreeable, but would nonetheless enthusiastically vote for the CAQ on Monday.   And then there were quite a few who told reporters they believed everything Boulet said was true, 100 per cent, despite all the factual evidence to the contrary. In the end, neither this nor any other mini-scandal can do much to slow Legault’s march to what looks like a massive victory.  The only thing to bear in mind as the CAQ racks up win after win on Monday night is this: Four years ago, Legault solemnly promised to change the system responsible for unearned landslides of the sort we’re about to see.  The perks of power have a persuasive way of changing a politician’s mind. The post Quebec’s Legault reinvents Duplessis, is headed for big win in Monday’s vote appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Elections, CAQ, Quebec Election 2022]

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[l] at 9/30/22 8:14am
Calgary conservative political activist Craig B. Chandler indicated on social media Wednesday he is suing Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt for defamation. Chandler published an image of the first page of his Statement of Claim, which he filed in the Calgary Court of King’s Bench on Sept. 9, on his Facebook page. Bratt made it clear in his Statement of Defence that he intends to defend himself vigorously against Chandler’s lawsuit. Chandler is well known in Alberta for his strong right-wing political views and controversial public statements, such as accusing an Alberta restaurant chain of supporting terrorism after it bought supplies from a meatpacker that also sold halal beef and stating that newcomers to Alberta should vote Conservative or leave.  The provincial Progressive Conservative Party rejected him as a candidate in 2007. He was prevented from running by the Wildrose Party in 2012.  Bratt is probably Alberta’s highest-profile and most quoted political scientist.  Journalists frequently quote him because his comments are trenchant and his analysis is widely respected. In late August, Bratt had answered questions from Calgary City News and CTV reporters about several phone calls purporting to be from Danielle Smith’s campaign to lead the United Conservative Party (UCP).  Chandler is executive director of an organization called the Progressive Group for Independent Business, which at the time was running Smith’s campaign call centre, City News reported on August 22. Some of the comments made by Bratt about the phone calls are the words complained of in Chandler’s September 9 Statement of Claim. Bratt quickly responded Wednesday to Chandler’s public revelation of the lawsuit with a series of statements on Twitter that were widely retweeted and commented upon. Bratt’s tweet thread starts here.  In his Statement of Claim, Chandler also named Mount Royal University, Bratt’s employer, and a private citizen who had received calls purporting to be from the Smith campaign and commented publicly on them. The vigorous discussion of Chandler’s lawsuit that immediately ensued on Facebook and Twitter quickly expanded to include the idea that, like other jurisdictions, Alberta should adopt anti-SLAPP legislation.  SLAPP suits – the acronym stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – are defined as “lawsuits intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.” In Canada, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have introduced legislation to restrict the practice. Alberta has not.  “This is a SLAPP suit designed to silence me,” Bratt said in his tweet thread. “I may have been temporarily silenced, on this matter, but not other politics, based on legal advice, but not for long. There is no merit to the case. Everything I said was fair comment as a longtime political commentator.” “A statement of defence has been filed, so is now public record,” he said in another tweet. “And I reiterate that what I said was fair comment, nuanced, and appropriate. Chandler’s suit has no merit and is designed to prevent me from talking. It is the very definition of a SLAPP suit.” Bratt said he was served with the legal papers personally by Chandler during a Faculty of Arts reception at Mount Royal Collage. The outpouring of statements of support for Bratt that followed included tweets from University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe, broadcaster Ryan Jespersen, and pollster Janet Brown. Meanwhile, another story published Wednesday by the CBC involving the Smith campaign’s call centre, Chandler, and former Alberta justice minister Jonathan Denis resulted in Smith announcing she had terminated her campaign’s contract with Chandler’s organization. In the CBC story, Denis apologized for three videos that were posted on social media over several recent days featuring crude imitations of Indigenous voices and including references to alcohol and casinos.   “I have no recollection of these events, however, it is possible I said them years ago while under the influence of alcohol. If so, I am truly sorry,” Denis said in a statement he sent to CBC Calgary News. Chandler told the CBC he was pictured in one of the videos, made during a barbecue at his place. He told the CBC that no prank call was made in that video. “I have been made aware of an appalling clip involving a phone bank contractor we engaged to assist our campaign that I feel is offensive and entirely unacceptable,” Smith said in the first of three tweets on the topic Wednesday. “I will not be associated with such behaviour and have instructed … my campaign to immediately terminate any contract or other dealings with the involved company,” she continued.  “To be clear, the former Justice Minister in the clip has never had any role in my campaign,” Smith added in the third and final tweet. Denis was named justice minister in May 2012 by Progressive Conservative premier Alison Redford soon after the election in which Smith’s Wildrose Party was defeated. In the CBC story, Chandler was quoted as saying, “Some comedy is not politically correct, but this is a private function of my close friends. … Quite frankly, this cancel culture is killing society … I should be able to joke on an issue in the confines of my own home.” Denis, who practices law in Calgary, volunteered on federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre’s successful recent leadership campaign. The post Right-wing activist sues high-profile Alberta political scientist for defamation appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics, extremism]

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[l] at 9/30/22 8:00am
In 2015 when Justin Trudeau came into office, he stated that the most important relationship that he sought to work on was between Canada and Indigenous peoples. Six years later, the finding of graves close to Kamloops Indian Residential School sent shockwaves around the world. Canada had a lot to answer for, and the Prime Minister quickly declared a national holiday that co-opted Orange Shirt Day, and gave Canadians a day off. There were no memorials, national monuments and directions to the country to do anything other than take a holiday…for a job well done perhaps? Without any leadership, who can say what the truth is? Prime Minister Trudeau set an example for the country, taking off on this national day of mourning to enjoy himself in Tofino. Was this Trudeau taking a victory lap for Canada’s genocide? The words of politicians ring hollow when we stop listening to what they’re saying and start looking at what they’re doing. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was struck by residential school survivors. It was part of the settlement agreement for the abuse of the federally sanctioned residential school system. The survivors wanted to memorialize the dead and open the wounds as South Africa had after the end of apartheid. Only the system of abuse and oppression was never dismantled here. Canada has been dragging its feet supporting the Commission, complaining of costs to meet many of the Commission’s recommendations. Instead of reconciliation, Canada broke down the department of Indian Affairs while gaslighting concerns about genocide and environmental destruction. Canada continued to ignore women and children being killed by the system, and vilified Indigenous peoples for standing up for their rights. The government has systematically tried to stop all efforts of Indigenous peoples to tell the truth. The only reason the graves of children were suddenly and surprisingly found was because the Commission’s work had stopped due to lack of funding and political interference and First Nations were doing the work themselves. Canada did not want to know what had happened. Canada, throughout this ordeal from Harper to Trudeau, has actively worked to sideline and undermine the revelations of truth. Canada has never attempted to reconcile with its past. Canada has never come to terms with the abuses and injustices it perpetrated against the First peoples, and it has never confronted the abuses it commits today in the name of social justice and the rule of law. When Canada unilaterally let the Catholic church off the hook in August 2022 for its residential school funding commitments, it showed Canada’s commitment to reconciliation. It is only seeking tears for the cameras and headlines for its miniscule efforts. Meanwhile Indigenous peoples continue to struggle, give up and die because that is how the system was designed. We are not on a path of reconciliation. We are watching the theatrics of a system that doesn’t want to change. A system that thinks it doesn’t have to change. For Canada to enter into reconciliation, fundamental change has to happen. Indigenous governance has to be implemented on collective or whole First Nations community terms. Justice must include a voice in the protection of the land and its sacred sites. Families have to be restored and children returned. Mothers have to be supported. Our elders must be honoured. Addicts must be treated and trauma must be addressed for healing to occur. Injustice and overincarceration must end. Where is Canada in making change happen for the next generations? Where is our voice as Indigenous peoples guiding that change? First Nations are given propositions of incremental change. Changes that only alter the status quo in ways that suit white Canadians ways that make no real impact on the lives of Indigenous peoples and our descendants. It is a mass delusion that spins the same narrative and ensures nothing changes. Canada cannot start to talk about reconciliation without understanding who we are as First Nations. It is merely performance. It is treading water while the oceans are rising and drowning out whole communities. Trudeau’s government has enacted language legislation, child and family service legislation, and committed to spending forty billion for the case Canada lost at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The language legislation did not undertake proper consultation. Trudeau had his yes man: Assembly of First Nation’s former National Chief Perry Bellegarde acting as an Indian scout selling this watered down legislation to the First Nations across Canada. Compromised and malleable Indians were interviewed to make this legislation happen in a rush before the next federal election. A similar process was undertaken to rush and approve the child and family legislation. In the midst of answering to the state’s own Human Rights Tribunal, Canada sent in lawyers and pulled legal manoeuvres to avoid taking responsibility for the unfair funding that has been sent to on reserve programs. These funds compared to the funding Canada sends to non-native organizations or institutions for First Nation education, health, foster care, access to health specific dollars, housing, and economic development confirms the discrimination that keeps reserve communities in poverty. There have been documented cases at the federal level where for instance the contracts in water were given to conservative sycophants. Bruce Carson was the Harper advisor who “witnessed” the contract which resulted in him and his fiancée profiting from the lack of clean water in First Nations. Is it any wonder that Canada is still dealing with First Nations who have had boil water advisories for over thirty years? Trudeau also promised to deal with this in a timely manner. What Trudeau’s government has done is continued the extinguishment policy of the 1969 White Paper to try to turn reserves into another lower order of government; to extinguish the last remnants of Indigenous sovereignty in favour of Canada’s white supremacist state. Canada’s treatment of the First Nation Indigenous people shows a bleak report card. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report listed recommendations that Canada interprets from a white saviour stance so that First Nations will not be restored to their original strengths as a people. This is what Canadians need to know. There are so many more ongoing issues that are affecting the health and well-being of First Nations across their own lands. There are injustices in the judicial system and well-meaning do-gooders still trying to convince the First Nations that they need to change and accept the colonial capitalist way of life as nirvana. Meanwhile the reality for First Nations people is this: there have been historic injustices thrust on our people who only ever wanted to share and enjoy this land now called Canada. These historical injustices were so genocidal that the First Nations people are still trying to recover from the trauma that has been handed down from generation to generation. Canada denies the genocide. They feel that they can bury their genocidal actions by putting the word cultural in front of their attempts to kill off the Indians. It was Duncan Campbell Scott who said we must kill the Indian in the child as he set up residential schools taking children away from their families and communities. While Canadians “celebrate” this hastily struck holiday, they should be more concerned about learning the truth before we can ever even begin to talk reconciliation. The post First Nation Indigenous truths before reconciliation talk appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Anti-racism, Indigenous, Indigenous rights, residential schools, truth and reconciliation]

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[l] at 9/30/22 7:59am
On September 8, hours after the longest-reigning British monarch died, English post-punk band IDLES took the stage at one of Toronto’s new venues, History. With no mention of the land, IDLES opened with the single Colossus, off their 2018 album Joy as an Act of Resistance, slowly earning the crowds trust and bringing audience members into a deep seance of sound. The venue was sold out at a capacity of 2,500. Five thousand footprints were standing upon the unceded land of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples in the worship of this band and its British leader. “I think that if I were to come to your house, I owe you a certain degree of respect,” said Niagara Regional Native Centre executive director Karl Dockstader, of the Oneida Bear Clan. “When non-Indigenous artists are touring different communities in so-called Canada, visiting different Indigenous territories, the people who are hosting them in those territories, at least the basic respect of acknowledging that theres a history. Its a little bit longer than whats written in any Canadian textbook.” Earlier that day, at about 2 p.m., news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death travelled across the world. Her timely passing cast a long, dark shadow over Canada’s so-called sovereignty, making the concert more political than it already had the potential to be. Between songs, Talbot spoke of empathy and compassion while candidly touching on the monarch, privilege, and genocide. This fed his grasp on the crowd. Imagine being stabbed in the gut with post-punk vibes and quickly becoming a part of a ritualistic experience, something seemingly bigger than everyone.  Though it was exciting and visceral to be a part of raw emotions, something was missing.  The land slid through the cracks, only to be left by the wayside. IDLES proudly rejects the punk label, and Talbot confidently shared his views on how “this country was built on immigrants,” a bold statement presented on Turtle Island during the month of Truth and Reconciliation. An exchange of power with a crowd member later proved this an appropriate time to recognize privilege.  Halfway through the show, a crowd member, atop the shoulders of another, called out for Talbot’s attention. Talbot held the microphone in a position of power before ceding this inherent authority by handing it over to the crowd member. The unknown person acknowledged the traditional territory on which the show took place, and Talbot’s act released any false superiority, offering equilibrium. “I think anybody who gets to do art for a living in any way – Indigenous, Black, Two-Spirit people, non-binary gender people – I think just making art and getting paid is a privilege,” Dockstader said. “In order for that privilege to exist, I think there has to be some recognition that the artists who are able to do that are fortunate. Thats where I think we get into splitting hairs about, for lack of a better term, where that ‘fortune’ came in. I’d say its derived from the exploitation of Indigenous peoples in our territories, but also a lot globally, as well.” The intersectionality of the performing arts and creators both living on and touring on Turtle Island raises questions of positionality in relation to land acknowledgments. In theatre work, a land acknowledgment is standard practice. Work ranging from black box spaces at Fringe festivals to larger, more commercially powerful theatres, have land acknowledgments embedded in their framework. It’s important to investigate why land acknowledgements happen in theatre but are less common in other sectors of the performing arts such as music. Should land acknowledgments branch out into bigger, more mainstream settings like rock concerts? It is nearly impossible to fill a theatre with 2,500 people, yet IDLES and most concerts have no trouble doing so. Lara Lewis, a queer mixed Mikmaw theatre artist from Kjipuktuk (Halifax) who primarily works as an actor and dramaturge said: “That’s such a good idea. It could be incredible because nobody goes to theatre, but so many people go to concerts all the time. I think that exposure to ideas like land acknowledgments can be useful in beginning conversations. Im a theatre artist, not a musician, and Ive done very little touring, but when I have, a big part of preparing for that has been understanding whose land were being guests on and whom we’re visiting.” Privilege, power and post punk music Is it possible IDLES and Talbot have this curiosity but sometimes forget their position in the greater colonial framework? Does it matter that his ethnicity – whiteness – and British citizenship would prevail in this context on the day some peoples’ grandmother died? Or is IDLES’ skillful musicianship and intensely original whirlpool of rock destined to trump such notions?  To both Lewis and Dockstader, it’s a question of positionality. “I think its contextual to who is doing it—who it has to do with, (and) your positionality in the greater colonial structure,” said Lewis. “A land acknowledgement is beyond a land acknowledgement; its an acknowledgement of colonial structure—and the colonial history and the injustice of that.” Dockstader added: “I appreciate the role of the monarch in Canada, but I dont really understand how it works. So I tried to be careful about what I say about it because I dont want to be disrespectful; I could think I was honouring the crown and then say some pretty ignorant things and make it worse. So its kind of the same thing with land acknowledgments—but also with the caveat that people are historically bad at talking about Indigenous people generally anyways, huh?” Despite excellent musicianship and skillful riffs, its clear Talbot can afford to take a closer look at the land upon which he stood. When travelling artists are more curious about the land, everyone benefits. Something powerful occurred as Talbot vulnerably passed the mic to the unknown show-goer in a joyful act of non-resistance. As soon as people heard, We live on the traditional territory of … the crowd screamed with joy – cheers of hope – and more bodies simultaneously jumped up and down. It was a massive uproar of chanting and praising, demonstrating IDLES’ commentary between songs was less significant than being a person living on Turtle Island and reflecting upon its complicated history. As the concert came to a close, reclamations of power both inside Talbot’s typically tasteful aggression towards the queen, and a celebratory acceptance of place spread across and united the crowd. This makes for a glimmer of hope and positive progressive change as Turtle Island embarks upon Truth and Reconciliation Day. The post Land acknowledgements, artists, and creating art on Turtle Island appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Arts, Indigenous, arts, Indigenous rights, music]

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[l] at 9/30/22 7:00am
Sometimes truth can only be told with poetry and music. When Cheryl-Anne Bower, the creative spirit behind Voices Rock Canada, and Susan OQuinn, from Newfoundlands Mikmaq community, heard about the discovery of a burial ground of 215 indigenous children in Kamloops they wrote a song for the children. And their mothers. LITTLE ANGELS Written by: Cheryl Bower/Susan OQuinn. Arranged: Mike Lerner Gently walk upon this land, as we lay a bed of feathers Sacred ground beneath our feet, precious bones remain forever Feet will never touch the floor, tiny shoes remain unworn The sun wont shine on faces, shine on faces anymore CHORUS/ Love the souls of little angels; bow our heads and softly (gently) weep Lay them down, in a bed of feathers, Little Angels, ever sleep. Mother covers them in earth As she holds them in her heart Their souls never left behind As they rise up to the stars CHORUS/ BRIDGE/ Lullaby your souls to keep, as we watch the angels sleep Once were lost, but now are found, feathers gently on the ground Feet will never touch the shore, theyre not forgotten anymore Their souls live on forever, souls live on forever more. CHORUS/ Outro/ Look upon them as they sleep, bow our heads and gently weep Written by Cheryl-Anne Bower and Susan OQuinn, from Newfoundlands Mikmaq community Lead singer: Cheryl-Anne Bower Arrangement: Mike Lerner Produced and Recorded by: Murray Foster, TORONTO, On. Musicians: Brian May (guitar), Liza McLellan (cello), Murray Foster (guitar), Mike Lerner (piano), Susan OQuinn (drum). Backing Vocals: Cheryl-Anne Bower/Murray Foster The post Remembering the children in song appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Indigenous, indigenous women, truth and reconciliation]

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[l] at 9/30/22 7:00am
This week on rabble radio, Stephen Wentzell sits down with Joshua Whitehead, author of ‘Making Love with the Land.”  Whitehead is an Oji-Cree/nehiyaw, Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is the author of the novel ‘Jonny Appleseed’ (Arsenal Pulp Press), which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and shortlisted for a Governor Generals Literary Award in Fiction. He is also the author of the poetry collection ‘full-metal indigiqueer’ (Talonbooks), which was shortlisted for the inaugural Indigenous Voices Award for Most Significant Work of Poetry in English and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. Currently, he is working on a PhD in Indigenous Literatures and Cultures at the University of Calgarys English department (Treaty 7). Today, Whitehead explains to Wentzell about ‘Making Love with the Land’ a book which is part memoir, part poetry, part literary criticism. Whitehead explains how this genre-bending of traditional colonial literary standards is a “radical act of freedom” and more similar to a Indigenous form of storytelling.   Whitehead also shares how touring for Jonny Appleseed and experiencing nature, break-ups, and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic influenced his writing this book. Finally, Whitehead shares what truth and reconciliation means to him.   If you like the show please consider subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. And please, rate, review, share rabble radio with your friends — it takes two seconds to support independent media like rabble. Follow us on social media across channels @rabbleca. Or, if you have feedback for the show, get in touch anytime at editor@rabble.ca. The post Joshua Whitehead’s genre-bending memoir is a ‘radical act of freedom’ appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Arts, Indigenous, indigenous culture, rabble book lounge]

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[l] at 9/29/22 12:44pm
Last week, high school students and their allies geared up to take to the streets of Halifax to demand the release of a provincial climate plan and to refocus international awareness on the climate crisis.  But in the days leading up to the event, the group known as School Strike 4 Climate Halifax decided to cancel the demonstration out of fear of “dangerous conditions.” The dangerous conditions the group was speaking of? A historic hurricane that, at its peak, left 80 per cent of Nova Scotians without power and wiped out electricity across the entirety of Prince Edward Island. Hurricane Fiona proved to be both a destructive and unprecedented storm, recording the lowest barometer (or atmospheric pressure) in Canadian history.  Now, nearly one week after Fiona ravaged Atlantic Canada and parts of eastern Quebec, more than 100,000 Maritimers remain without power. Even more are without cell phone service and internet access. In a statement issued Sept. 22, the climate advocacy group confirmed the event was cancelled due to the impending storm. The statement read:  “Now, more than ever we are seeing the need for increased climate action including adaptation plans … Hurricane Fiona has left all of Puerto Rico without power, and has left hundreds without shelter. Climate change is increasing the severity and intensity of hurricanes such as Fiona due to warming waters.” The hurricane left grade twelve student and event organizer Rae Steeves “horrified.” “Young people are dismissed, ignored, and pushed to the side,” Steeves said in the statement. “The youth are watching, listening, and we are angry.” For Steeves, the connection between the climate strike and the hurricane couldn’t be more ironic. “These hurricanes are why the youth are scared, and why we have no choice but to speak out,” Steeves said.  The climate strike was scheduled one year after youth climate organizers “greeted the provincial government’s Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act with hope and optimism.” The Act, which states “the Government shall create a strategic plan,” that will later become the “Climate Change Plan for Clean Growth.”  While the provincial government has until Dec. 31 to submit their plan, organizers say they’re becoming concerned about the delay, noting that there’s no time to waste in combating the climate crisis.  The Progressive Conservative government in Nova Scotia, led by Premier Tim Houston, opposes a federal carbon tax and has faced criticism for failing to release an environment plan more than one year after winning a majority government.  For Maggy Burns, the executive director at the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, Fiona proved to be “devastating for Nova Scotia,” but at the same time, she says it’s “not unexpected that we would see that kind of devastation.” In an interview with rabble.ca, Burns noted that she believes Atlantic Canada “got the message quite loud and clear” that the climate crisis can no longer be ignored. “The heart of the story is really that these kinds of weather events are increasing in severity and increasing in frequency, and its part of what makes climate change both so scary and so costly — both for humans and for the economic cost of reconnecting people with power, rebuilding infrastructure,” Burns said. She pointed out that politicians have known for decades that the cost of averting a climate emergency costs far less than what is spent on reacting to storms and other impacts of the climate crisis on public infrastructure and human health. School Strike 4 Climate Halifax organizer Sadie Quinn agrees. A student at the University of King’s College, Quinn called the historic storm both scary and disturbing. “There was a lot of uncertainty, some sort of sadness of the destruction, but a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about it, especially before the storm,” Quinn said. “I thought, if were going to have these events more and more frequently, am I just going to be like this all the time?” Quinn explained that she helped organize the strike to make clear to the provincial government that Nova Scotia can no longer afford to ignore the climate crisis, and a sense of urgency is needed on the part of politicians to make meaningful change possible. “Hopefully this storm reminds people that climate change is not something of the future – its happening right now,” she said. “Every day that we delay releasing a strong climate plan is another day that we just go on and exacerbate the problems with the climate that were already facing.” And as the clean-up continues from Fiona’s fury, another catastrophic storm, Hurricane Ian, is bringing storm surge of 12 to 16 feet and life-threatening wind and rainfall to Florida. According to the National Hurricane Center, “record river flooding” is expected across central Florida and locals are being encouraged to take “preparations to protect life and property.” While the students weren’t able to take to the streets last week, if the storm was any indication, they managed to get their message across far wider than anyone expected. The post Climate strike delayed by historic hurricane appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Political Action, climate action, Climate Strike]

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[l] at 9/29/22 10:21am
The hurricane season and the election season have converged in the United States. The prospect of catastrophic, irreversible climate change and the potential demise of democracy are both very real. The fate of these essential pillars of our society hinge largely on what we all do in the coming weeks and months. The climate catastrophe enveloping the planet requires a truly global solution – one that a majority of the world’s population is eager to achieve. But the will of the masses means less and less these days, as more governments fall under control of autocrats. Nationalists, racists, xenophobes and ideologues are gaining power in country after country. Italy is an important case in point. Just this week, a formerly fringe neofascist political party obtained a plurality in national elections. Giorgia Meloni is expected be Italy’s first far rightwing Prime Minister since Benito Mussolini was driven from power in 1943. “She really sees her party as carrying the heritage of fascism into today,” Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of history and Italian studies at New York University, said on the Democracy Now! news hour. “Ignazio La Russa, who’s a party elder…said a few days ago, ‘We are all heirs of the Duce [Mussolini].’” Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party joins an increasingly powerful far-right movement in Europe that includes Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party; Spains Vox party; France’s National Rally led by Marine Le Pen; and the Sweden Democrats, with roots in that country’s neo-nazi movement, now poised to lead a new rightwing coalition government there. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Hungary is the European rightwing’s model strongman, suppressing the press and free speech, openly advocating racist, anti-immigrant policies, and criticizing European integration and the European Union. Orbán, Meloni and other European rightwing leaders are being embraced by the Republican Party in the U.S. and its would-be strongman Donald Trump. The U.S. Republican Party has been effectively purged of any Trump critics, and is rapidly organizing in states across the U.S. to simply reject election results they don’t like. Rather than storming the Capitol, as thousands of Trump’s supporters did on January 6th, 2021, the GOP now has a plan to quietly seize power by suppressing the vote and declaring victory regardless of the outcome in November, 2024. Corrupt, gerrymandered state legislatures and Trump-aligned governors and secretaries of state have already put this plan into motion as they seek to consolidate more power in the 2022 midterm elections just over one month away. Trump has repeatedly labeled climate change a hoax. His European adherents aren’t so blatant, but generally support expanded burning of fossil fuels, increased reliance on nuclear power, and a rejection of the United Nations climate negotiations. Those negotiations are dubbed “COPs,” for “Conference of Parties” to the Kyoto Protocol. This year’s conference in November, COP27, will be in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, where a broad coalition has appealed to the military dictatorship of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to allow participation of civic and environmental groups, and for the release of Egypt’s many political prisoners. The UNFCCC, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, often relies on dictatorships. Past hosts have included Qatar and Morocco, where genuine protest is effectively banned. Next year’s COP will be in oil-rich Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Let’s not let the COPs be run by cops. “Part of the job for climate campaigners is to work for functioning democratic states, where people’s demands for a working future will be prioritized over vested interest, ideology and personal fiefdoms,” climate activist Bill McKibben wrote last April, reflecting on climate activism in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In nations where protest is somewhat tolerated, like the United States, the stakes are high and time is short. NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus understands this. He was arrested last April while protesting JP Morgan Chase’s continued investments in fossil fuel projects. “I keep yelling at the top of my lungs. I’m risking arrest. I’ve been forced to become a climate activist,” Kalmus said on Democracy Now! “I’m terrified of the inaction of world leaders, who keep dancing around the real issue which is we have to rapidly ramp down the fossil fuel industry…it’s a bittersweet thing. We’re finding exoplanets. We’re doing these amazing missions like redirecting asteroids, and yet with all that technology, with all that knowledge, somehow it’s not translating into stopping what is clearly the biggest threat facing humanity, which is global heating.” Hurricanes and drought are now displacing millions, driving climate migration that increases anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and the U.S. This further empowers racist xenophobes like Trump and Meloni. Climate and democracy are under enormous threat. Our ability to weather this storm depends on concerted action by the global majority who care, against increasingly difficult odds. This column originally appeared on Democracy Now! The post Climate and democracy in the eye of the storm appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, US Politics, Climate Change, democracy, extreme weather]

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[l] at 9/29/22 9:55am
We did it! Thanks to your support during our summer fundraising campaign, we surpassed our goal and raised a total of $52,056! Plus, we welcomed a record number of new monthly supporters: 70 readers joined the rabble resistance this summer.  We couldn’t have done this without you! Your generous contributions ensure progressive news and views are accessible to all. The contributions from one-time gifts and our record number of monthly supporters mean the rabble team can build upon unique projects including Courage My Friends, Off the Hill, and the Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship.  It takes hard work to deliver independent journalism – but it is a lot easier with our community backing us. Thank you to everyone who chipped in, shared the fundraising appeals and helped us reach this new record – please continue spreading the good word of independent media. Together, we uphold media democracy! With gratitude, Kim Elliott Publisher On behalf of the entire rabble team P.S. If you havent had an opportunity to give yet, don’t worry! We accept contributions all year long. You can add to our record number of new monthly supporters or contribute a one-time gift today by visiting rabble.ca/donate. Your support allows rabble to deliver progressive journalism 365 days a year. The post We set a new monthly supporter record appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: General, fundraising, independent media, jack layton journalism for change, off the hill]

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[l] at 9/29/22 8:55am
Yesterday, the provincially owned Federal Building adjacent to the Alberta Legislature in downtown Edmonton was officially renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Building.  “Queen Elizabeth II served Albertans as our head of state for seven decades,” said Premier Jason Kenney, after whom for a variety of reasons an Alberta Government building is unlikely ever to be named, stating the obvious.  “Renaming the Federal Building is a fitting tribute to this remarkable lady, whose name will inspire generations to come,” said Kenney, who will only be the premier of Alberta for a few more days, in an unusually anodyne press release for his United Conservative Party (UCP) government.  That may or may not be the case, but the new name will certainly end considerable confusion about a provincial building known as a federal building, and for that reason alone the change will probably be painlessly adopted by Albertans without the controversy normal in such situations.  Naming it after the late Queen also solves a problem for a government that has spent most of its term in office angry at almost everybody, which would have made it difficult to find someone closer to home, dead or alive, after whom it could be named. “Rooms in the building’s 10th floor were named to honour the Royal Family, including the Windsor Room,” the press release continued, failing for some reason to mention that the notorious Sky Palace perches atop the QE2B. The Sky Palace, as it is popularly known, was originally intended to serve as an Edmonton residence for Premier Alison Redford and more recently has been used as an entertainment and dining venue for Kenney, senior UCP cabinet members, and their political aides.  Speaking of changing names, much fun was had yesterday at the expense of the B.C. Liberals, now that they have decided they are Liberal no more.  In reality, of course, the Opposition party in the province to the west of us never was liberal in anything but name.  They have now opted to call themselves B.C. United – which, as many people here in Alberta observed, sounds like a soccer club in a country where that game is called football. B.C.’s Liberals are, in fact, the 1990s version of what we used to call the Social Credit coalition, which as any good Socred would tell you, and several of them did tell me over the years, was not social credit at all. That is to say, unlike their Alberta contemporaries, B.C. Social Credit under the Bennetts, William and Bill, pere et fils, were just conservatives, not kooky monetary reformers. The B.C. Liberals, who took over for them in much the same coalition role, were neoliberals – although it may not have occurred to them to have rebranded themselves as either the B.C. Neoliberal Party or the B.C. Not-the-Liberals when they decided to put some rhetorical distance between themselves and the Liberals in Ottawa, who are apparently not neoliberal enough to suit the neoliberals of the west. They could also hardly call themselves the Not The B.C. NDP Party, never mind the apparent redundancies, which is the actual purpose of their coalition, without reminding voters in that province who has been running the place since 2017, with a little temporary assistance from  the B.C. Greens.  Or maybe they did consider all those names. Who knows? The CBC said only that the party considered more than 2,000 names, which may explain why it took them so long, since there’s been nothing particularly liberal about them since Gordon Campbell took over the party in 1993. However, the B.C. Liberals-no-longer seem not to have considered the dangers of protesting too much by calling their party united, as is certainly the case of our ironically disunited United Conservative Party in Alberta.  “Are they giving up politics and becoming a soccer franchise?” wondered journalist Max Fawcett, one of the great wits of the 21st Century.  This prompted me to recall that the previous united party to rule this province – the United Farmers of Alberta – did give up politics when they were defeated in 1935 by William Aberhart’s Social Credit, which was considerably closer to the real thing than William Andrew Cecil Bennett’s faux conservatives ever were.  But there is potential redemption in the UFA story for both the UCP and B.C. United, which I suppose will inevitably come to be known as BCU, which sounds like a university. As the always helpful Wikipedia explains: “Following the dissolution of its political wing, UFA focused on its commercial operations. UFA entered into a partnership with Maple Leaf Fuels, a subsidiary of Imperial Oil in 1935 to distribute fuel to its members.” To this day, UFA distributes gasoline and diesel throughout Alberta.  What better future could one imagine for B.C.’s united neoliberals or their similarly united Alberta counterparts than to continue onward, honourably, as a chain of automotive electrical charging stations? The post Edmonton’s Federal Building and B.C.’s Liberals get new names appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics, B.C. Liberals, Liberal Party of Canada]

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[l] at 9/29/22 7:45am
The following column reflects the opinion of the author and the author only. I’ve watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls time and again throughout my teen and adult life. The Town Hall meetings of Stars Hollow – a fictional small town in Connecticut, where most of the story is set – is an integral part of the show, and also one of my favourite subplots. It’s where town members gather for updates on town festivities, new installments to the town like traffic lights…and at times also to vote on who will be Stars Hollow’s main troubadour. Canada consistently reports low voter turnout rates both on federal and provincial levels, and with each rewatching of the show, I am convinced that modern politics is yearning for some kind of revival of town halls to deepen the relationship between the public and elected officials, beyond door knocking during an election cycle. The least likely age demographic to turn up to vote are 18-24-year-olds, with ‘disinterest’ cited as the most common cause. In the 2021 federal election, 66 per cent of 18-24-year-olds voted, a two per cent drop over 2019, but higher than 2011 when only 55 per cent of young people turned up to cast their ballot. Ontario’s provincial elections in June 2022 recorded the lowest voter turnout in the history of the province. Approximately only 43.5 per cent of eligible cast their ballot, which means just 4.6 million votes cast out of 10.7 million registered voters. CTV quotes Vandana Kattar, a former strategist in the Prime Minister’s Office, who believes the reason for low voter turnout is the lack of engagement between politicians and Ontarians. There’s a fundamental lack of motivation to turn up for elections. During my own time as an organizer for a non-partisan organization, getting out the youth vote for the 2019 federal election – where I spoke to hundreds of students at Seneca College, Western University and University of Saskatoon – one of the most common frustrations I heard was: “But what’s the point?” What this sentiment boils down is the distance the electorate feels from elected officials. In saying, ‘what’s the point,’ what people are saying is they don’t understand me, they don’t get my issues. The metaphorical distance between elected politicians and the people is too large, making folks feel like they don’t have a voice. This distance is the very antithesis of a healthy democracy. The core tenet of democracy is “by the people, of the people, for the people”, making elected officials nothing more than representatives of the interest of the public. But as cities grow in population density and the ratio of elected City Councillors, MPPs and MPs decreases, then how exactly are elected officials a true representation of the people? Ahead of the 2018 municipal elections in Toronto, Doug Ford – then newly elected as premier of Ontario – slashed the number of wards to 25 from 47. However, between 2014-2017, an independent consultant reviewed Toronto’s ward boundaries to ensure everyone is fairly represented at City Council; each ward has approximately the same number of people; neighborhoods and communities of interest are preserved; and each ward’s history and physical or natural features are considered. The Council voted for 47 wards taking these factors in consideration.  More wards results in more decentralization of power, strengthening municipalities that are the closest government to the people. Consider wards to be like classrooms – slashing councillors results in one teacher essentially handling a bigger class size, where everyone loses out – teacher and students. Students get less face time with the teacher and their unique needs are left unmet. And teachers are left overworked and overwhelmed.  In this year’s municipal elections, seven Toronto City Councillors, including Ana Bailao and Mike Layton, announced they won’t be seeking reelection. Myer Siemiatycki, professor emeritus of politics at Toronto Metropolitan University, believes Premier Ford’s decision to slash the number of wards – “nearly doubling the size of constituencies” – is a big reason for taking the exit door.  He says: “The volume of work means they are less in touch with the people they joined politics to serve. I think a lot of councillors were starting to feel that they were getting cut off from the kind of appealing street-level grassroots quality of local government.” The whole point of decentralization is that no one person – so-called head of the state – Prime Minister in the case of Canada – cannot oversee the needs of over 38 million people. Hence provinces and premiers, cities and mayors and city councillors.  Modern politics needs more elected officials, not less. Especially at the grassroots level – the level that is most concerned with people’s day-to-day – transportation, education, health. What people want is to know who their elected official is, meet with them and share their concerns and grievances, along with ideas.  What Toronto was 30 years ago, isn’t the Toronto we know now. The demographic is markedly different as is the economy – there’s more gig work; more people are juggling 2-3 part-time jobs; housing prices are up but wages remain stagnant. Unmet needs of the larger public are bound to create despondency, and result in decreased political engagement.  What democracy needs is more citizen participation between those on the metaphorical hill (and literal), and the public. Contemporary politicians could do with full run through of Gilmore Girls –  Stars Hollow may just have been a small fictional town, but it sure knew how to run town halls to keep the people engaged. The post How watching Gilmore Girls can improve local politics appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Gilmore Girls]

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[l] at 9/28/22 9:26am
Joy doesn’t pair easily with the climate crisis. Yet, working with others on climate justice, I have felt moments of joy. Especially in youth-led coalitions like the one coordinated by Fridays for Future Toronto (FFFTO) this summer.  As the youth take on organizing tasks, sometimes for the first time, they show courage and initiative. The tasks aren’t always easy like talking to groups of adults about climate justice, chairing large meetings with diverse participants and moving actions online. They manage them well though! At one of the youth-led coalition meetings, for example, I was asked for the first time ever whether I had any accessibility needs. As a person with chronic illness this hit me with a kind of tear-wringing wallup. I was allowed to bring my whole self to the circle.  This grace, courage and initiative are an absolute joy to witness and support. Love isn’t always a natural fit with the climate crisis either. But, standing in the open air at climate strike rallies, surrounded by others who choose to lean into shared goals, I have no better word. Love is demonstrated through action; with collective action, it multiplies. In fact, working in coalition is one of the single, most powerful things we can do. In coalition, we are allies, supporting each other as we hold up our corner of the sky. We are changemakers, giving each other strength to surmount the roadblocks to a better world.  There is a lot to surmount! In fact, fear is naturally paired with the climate crisis. The consequences scientists, Indigenous peoples and others have warned us about continue to accelerate our fears play out on high speed. Disillusion also pairs well with the climate crisis. Despite the mounting consequences, our government approves new oil and gas projects and gives billions in fossil fuel subsidies. Banks also invest billions, funding pipelines that violate Indigenous rights. Wealthy countries fail to provide the help poorer countries need as they face unprecedented drought and floods.  Actions and choices like these put short-term profit before people. Youth understand both the threats and the potential for change. In 2017, at one of the first global climate strikes in Toronto, I stood in a small crowd at Queen’s Park as a young girl spoke. She lamented that the endangered animals in her picture books might disappear before she got to see them.  Just two years later, in 2019, tens of thousands attended the climate strike. Long before the unions, university students, environmentalists and parents arrived though, a child of about nine followed those on the set-up crew around. He asked, “please, how can I help?”  Since 2019, FFFTO took the organizing pieces they learned and ran with them, coming up with well-articulated pillars and developing a nuanced vision of the interconnected issues that underscore climate justice, like Indigenous, migrant and workers rights. It’s for all of these reasons joy, love, fear, disillusion, vision I feel called to join when FFFTO youth invite adults to the organizing circle. Many say they take action for their children. For me, who has no children, perhaps I’m taking action for all of these children. I see wisdom beyond their years. I see an anxiety they shouldn’t have to shoulder. Quite simply, I want to help with that, I want them to reach their goals. This is not just a personal or moral motivation though. I’m convinced a collective pursuit of climate justice is the best move for everyone, the best chance for our whole, broken system to heal and re-form. This time around, I’ve had two moments of joy already. I held a media training day, learning alongside FFFTO youth who shared many ideas and later, tried their hands at writing op-eds and media advisories. Secondly, at the Labour Day parade, I joined volunteers aged about 18-80, who flitted among the marchers, big smiles on their faces, handing out the psychedelic Global Climate Strike posters.Joy, however, does not pair easily with the climate crisis. Come join us FFFTO as we raise a strong, collective voice for climate justice. The post A whole lot of reasons to come together on climate change appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Climate Change]

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[l] at 9/28/22 8:50am
In Canada and many places worldwide, those who pollute the atmosphere must pay. By putting a price on activities that produce greenhouse gas emissions, governments make polluting more expensive and solutions more affordable. As a Deloitte report puts it, “Carbon pricing reduces transition costs, in line with economic theory, because it acts as a financial incentive for consumers and businesses to modify their energy usage.” With Phase 1 of Canada’s carbon pricing regime moving to Phase 2 from 2023 to 2030, most people have adjusted and incorporated it into business plans. But, as with many measures to protect the environment and ourselves, vested interests are set on unravelling carbon pricing and fomenting backlash. That’s unfortunate because, as a powerful tool in the ambition to shift the “market” to cleaner energy sources, Canada’s carbon pricing needs to be strengthened, not stalled or weakened. And it needs to be much tougher on the biggest emitters, including the oil and gas industry, and fairer for Indigenous communities and small businesses. The International Monetary Fund says 46 countries are pricing emissions and others are considering it. Sweden’s carbon price, implemented in 1991 at about US$40 a tonne, is now $137, the world’s highest. According to Reuters, the country is a leader in renewable energy use, its 2018 carbon emissions per person were 3.5 tonnes, well below the 6.4 tonne EU average, and it cut emissions by 29 per cent over the past three decades. Canada has had carbon pricing in all jurisdictions since 2019 (Alberta and B.C. since 2007 and 2008, respectively). It started at $20 per tonne of emissions, and rose to $50 on April 1 this year. It will increase by $15 a year to reach $170 by 2030. Although it varies by jurisdiction, many households get rebates, and revenues are returned to the provinces they came from. Even with a relatively low price, it’s helped tame transportation emissions that would otherwise have surged, and its effectiveness will increase as it rises. Canada permits provinces and territories to design their own systems or adopt the federal plan. All have submitted 2023 proposals for review, as required. Those with their own systems must meet minimum national stringency standards to ensure they’re comparable and contribute their fair share of reductions. If a province doesn’t meet the standards or fails to implement a system, the federal scheme will be imposed. Many experts say Canada will start to see greater benefits as the price rises. “Modelling conducted by Deloitte indicates that a gradual rise in carbon pricing to $170 per tonne in 2030 will drive major emissions reductions, bringing Canada three-quarters of the way to its Paris Agreement target,” with minimal impact on economic performance, Deloitte reports. Although carbon pricing is widely accepted as a critical tool to help resolve the climate crisis, it faces persistent myths perpetrated by vested interests and some politicians and premiers. One is that it’s a significant factor in surging inflation and affordability issues. Although it’s designed to reduce fossil fuel use, including in transportation, it has a far smaller and more predictable influence on things like rising car costs and volatile gas prices than global events and companies that take advantage of them. When carefully designed, carbon pricing has little negative economic impact on most individuals, especially those curtailing fossil fuel use by driving less or improving home energy efficiency, for example. But there’s need for improvement here. In April, environment commissioner Jerry DeMarco released an audit that found Canada hasn’t done enough to ensure the carbon price is applied fairly to the biggest industrial emitters. He also said more exposure is needed on how provincial systems compare to the federal benchmark, and that “grant money to help small businesses become more energy efficient has been slow to roll out.” Canada’s environment minister must now decide which provincial pollution-pricing schemes meet the grade and which are too weak. He should also close any loopholes and reject requests from provinces and industry for exemptions or further concessions. And all governments should collaborate to support and protect marginalized people in the shift to clean electricity. Done well, carbon pricing is a proven economic lever to help with a smoother transition to cleaner energy, fewer emissions and better lives. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at davidsuzuki.org. The post Canada can’t let industry and provinces stall carbon pricing appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Economy, Environment, carbon pricing, Climate Change]

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[l] at 9/28/22 8:34am
The Kenney Government will do whatever it can to block Ottawa’s plan to implement stricter firearms regulations that include buying back AR-15 military-style rifles and similar weapons that were banned two years ago, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro sternly vowed on Monday.  The government is willing to go all the way to stop the “gun grab,” a tired-looking, tieless and rather scruffy Shandro told a news conference, which has been recorded and posted to the Internet for the edification of all.  This includes, wait for it, going to court – presumably to try to prove that the federal government doesn’t have jurisdiction in federal jurisdiction. (Yeah, that’s what I meant. Read it again if it’s not clear.) But “all options are on the table!”  “Alberta has been told that the federal government will use the RCMP to confiscate firearms – as they did during the 2013 floods – when the RCMP seized over 600 firearms during the notorious High River gun grab,” said Shandro’s canned quote in the government’s press release. “Actions taken today will seek to prevent history from repeating itself. Further options are being explored and all options are on the table.” Like what? Separation? Nuclear weapons? “The planned confiscations represent a failed approach to reducing violence in Canadian society and are unwarranted and unacceptable infringements on the property rights and personal freedoms of Albertans,” piped up Teri Bryant, Alberta’s “chief firearms officer,” during the newser.  She was hired to a new position in August 2021 by the Kenney Government, apparently to obstruct the enforcement of federal firearms laws.  In addition to accusing the Trudeau Government of planning to “confiscate” already-illegal weapons for which it’s willing to pay up to $6,209 ($1,337 for an AR-15), Shandro’s and Bryant’s publicity minions have also sent sent an angry, tendentiously worded letter to other provincial governments, asking them to join The Resistance, and letters to federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and RCMP K Division Commanding Officer Curtis Zablocki blustering about the program.  In his letters, Shandro repeated the claim popular with the “law abiding firearms community” (Bryant’s phrase) that assault-style weapons were banned “simply because the ‘style’ of the firearm was deemed to be aesthetically displeasing” – never mind the undeniable fact that such appearance is intended to be marketed to immature gun enthusiasts seeking to enhance their fragile machismo.  So Shandro is clearly trying to pick a fight with the feds to score a point with one of the dark corners of the UCP base just as Premier Jason Kenney attempts to rebrand himself as an elder statesman and dignified advocate of civility.  Just why they’re trying to do this right now when the Kenney Government is only going to be around for another nine or 10 days, or possibly a couple of weeks at most, is unclear and probably not worth speculating about.  Shandro has demonstrated talent for picking fights – with doctors, neighbours whose social media posts he didn’t like, and lately legal aid lawyers. Indeed, that seems to be what Kenney chose him to do when he made him health minister in April 2019.  But despite the ridiculous claims and inflammatory language in yesterday’s press release, this performative effort is highly unlikely to get a rise out of Ottawa.  I mean, c’mon! There are experienced politicians on the Liberal side in Ottawa. Why would they even bother responding to a pipsqueak like Shandro when there’s a good chance in another couple of weeks he’ll be relegated to the backbenches?  Indeed, give it a few more months and, if he seeks re-election, the voters of Calgary-Acadia may well bluntly suggest he return to his own practice of law – assuming the Law Society of Alberta lets him after considering whether he broke their Code of Conduct while serving Kenney’s government.  Shandro’s disciplinary hearing is scheduled to take place Oct. 17-19. In other words, the reaction in Ottawa, and in provincial capitals other than Regina as well, is likely to be summarized as follows: Pffffffft!  Well, give Shandro credit for one thing – at least he’s threatening to challenge a law he disagrees with in the courts.  That may not be very likely to succeed, but at least it doesn’t show utter contempt for the rule of law like the candidate most likely to be sworn in as unelected premier of Alberta when Kenney leaves the building on Oct. 6 or soon thereafter. The post ‘All options on table’ to block federal gun buy-back, vows Tyler Shandro appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics]

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[l] at 9/27/22 12:52pm
The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon, A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills, Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves? The radio says, They are just deportees Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards? Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit? To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil And be called by no name except deportees? -Woody Guthrie; Deportees Danilo DeLeon did everything right. He came to Canada legally as a temporary foreign worker in 2009 and he has worked hard ever since. Not only has he been employed as a cleaner and paid taxes and sent money home to support his children in the Philippines, but this exemplary worker has also become a tireless human rights advocate, serving as chairperson for the national human rights group Migrante Canada. Despite (or perhaps because of?)his brave advocacy, DeLeon now faces the threat of being sent back to the Philippines, where he would likely be in danger of government repression. For some reason his work permit was not extended, and he has been ordered to leave Canada. While he has appealed that order and is currently able to remain here, his situation is dire, and it is not uncommon among the hundreds of thousands of temporary workers (over 312,000 in 2021) who enter Canada every year. Canada’s message to temporary workers is too often, “Thanks for your work. Now get out.” And the number of Canadian residents who face the kind of harsh bureaucratic punishment threatening DeLeon would surprise many readers. Amanda Aziz, staff lawyer for Vancouver’s Migrant Workers’ Centre told me in late September that nearly half a million people in Canada (including temporary workers and family members) could and should benefit if the federal government regularizes their situation by granting them permanent resident status. Although the COVID crisis led Canada to experiment with a program to provide some temporary workers in health care with a pathway to permanent residence, most migrant workers documented or undocumented, face expectations that they will work under exploitive and often dangerous conditions as long as it suits Canadian employers, and then disappear back to their countries of origin. Particularly diabolical are the provisions in Canada’s current arrangements for admitting temporary workers that tie them to a specific employer, thus increasing worker vulnerability to exploitation and abuse. A recent study in my home province, BC, found that temporary workers were subject to horrifying abuse. There is no reason to think that temporary workers in other provinces are treated any better. The BC study, done by the Migrant Workers Centre, reported temporary workers in BC were subjected to forms of financial abuse including excessive work hours (53.3 per cent), unpaid wages (46.7 per cent), payment of a recruitment fee (36.7 per cent), being forced to work in contravention of work permit condition (26.7 per cent), wrongful or early termination (16.7 per cent), and being forced to repay a portion of wages to their employer (16.7 per cent). Forms of psychological abuse included verbal abuse (50 per cent), threats of termination and deportation (23.3 per cent), coercion and/or pressure to get the applicant to do something against their will (16.7 per cent), employer restriction of the worker’s movement and activities after work (16.7 per cent), retaliation by employer or threats of not being hired back after submitting complaints against the employer (10 per cent), employer requiring the worker to live with them but not providing a private and safe living space (10 per cent), and intimidation by employer upon termination (10 per cent). Workers also went through different forms of physical and sexual abuse, including, physical violence by the employer (16.7 per cent), exposure to chemical pesticides without personal protection equipment (6.7 per cent), being forced to perform physically-demanding work while injured in contravention of medical advice (6.7 per cent), being forced or coerced to perform sexual acts (6.7 per cent), repeated sexual assault by the employer (3.3 per cent), and being forced to send pictures of a sexual nature by text message to employer (3.3 per cent). In addition to all these dangerous and humiliating abuses, temporary foreign workers too often pay with their lives for their Canadian paycheck. When Garvin Yapp, 57, of Jamaica, was fatally injured this year during the operation of farm equipment at the VanBerlo farm in Norfolk County, Ontario, he joined a long list of temporary foreign workers injured and killed at Canadian worksites. While workers who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents encounter unsafe work conditions or abusive employers, they can at least take advantage of real, if imperfect legal options like complaints to labour boards and safety enforcement bodies, temporary workers, knowing their employer controls their ability to remain and work in Canada, are understandably loathe to risk a complaint. So, they are more likely to keep working and hope they won’t be one of the fatalities. A recent StatsCan report shows that immigrant and visible minority workers had higher rates of Covid infection and mortality than the Canadian average, and they often work in high-risk settings like agriculture and construction. Seyed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change reminded us in August that: “The migrant farm worker program is effectively a human rights catastrophe. Every day we hear about injuries, every month we hear about deaths. There have been three deaths that we know of just in the last week,” he said in August. Canada is not alone in working temporary foreign workers to death. A recent United Nations study reports that this particularly ugly form of abuse is widespread globally. The call for sweeping resident status regularization has recently been voiced by many social justice and worker advocacy groups. Thousands of workers and their allies rallied across Canada on September 18, calling for across the board regularization. We have a historic opportunity right now to fix a wrong that has been going on for many, many years, the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change’s Seyed Hussan, one of the organizers of the September 18 demonstrations, told the Canadian Press that day. We want to make sure that parliament does not in any way delay,” he said. “We believe that equality is equality, any exclusion is discrimination, so each and every migrant worker or refugee, student and undocumented person should be included. A cumbersome and structurally racist system has historically made it difficult to impossible for temporary workers to secure permanent residence status in Canada. While the federal government has tinkered at the edges of reform recently, many observers see what has been accomplished so far in terms of reform as too little, too late. Count me as one of those observers. I have covered temporary foreign worker issues for decades now, and the deaths, illnesses and injuries keep repeating. The Canadian legal structure itself makes workers vulnerable to abuse. It is past time for the kind of genuine and comprehensive changes that workers’ groups and human rights advocates have been urging for decades to be implemented. And no one in Canada should imagine we are not complicit in the abuses endured by temporary foreign workers. We eat the food foreign workers plant and harvest, and they are often the ones providing us with lifesaving care when we age and fall sick. We owe them for all they do for us, and we owe them, in all decency, active solidarity when they ask for a fair deal. If you agree, please let the prime minister know you want all workers, refugees, students and undocumented persons granted permanent resident status immediately. You can reach the PM at justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca. or at pm@pm.gc.ca. After you email Justin, please send a similar message to your own MP. You can find their email address here https://ccrweb.ca/en/contact-your-mp. The post Good enough to work, good enough to stay appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Human Rights, Labour]

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[l] at 9/27/22 12:06pm
On September 29, the Gender Equality Coalition of Ontario is hosting its second one-day, virtual and in-person “Intentional, Intersectional, Inclusion” conference at Fanshawe College in celebration of Gender Equality Week 2022. But who founded this new organization? Why now? And what’s the difference between feminist organizations and gender equality organizations? To find out, we spoke with Dr. Amanda Zavitz, the Coalition’s Leadership chair, small business owner, former small-town truck stop waitress, scholar, Marxist, labour activist, mother of two, conference lead and professor of sociology and women’s studies at Fanshawe College for over 20 years. LiisBeth:  Tell us about the coalition—how did it get started? Zavitz: So the gender equality coalition is an Ontario registered nonprofit organization based in London, ON. Linda Davis and Danny Bartlett co-founded the organization in 2019 because while there are several women’s advancement groups in the area, there was no organization that fought for gender equality for all genders, including men. The coalition is funded in part by the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality (WAGE). Any individual or organization can become a member. At present, coalition members include Champions of Change (London), Urban League (London) and Unicef (Western University).  I joined as Chair of the nine person (five women, four men) board in 2020. Coalition members believe that gender inequality, patriarchy, colonialism and white supremacy also negatively impacts men. In feminist spaces, we focus on women and talk a lot about the social construction of femininity being damaging, but we also think that the social construction of masculinity is equally damaging for men and boys. We believe this gap needs to be addressed. LiisBeth:  What does the gender equality coalition do that feminist organizations don’t already do? Zavitz: I think that one of the things our coalition achieves is that it helps us move beyond the ill-informed, but still broadly held stereotype that feminism is anti-men. It invites a broader, intersectional conversation about gender and creates a space where we can talk about how its social construction impacts all genders. So by simply saying that we think that men are affected by gender inequality as well, we create a space where men, including queer and trans men feel as though they can be part of the feminist conversation and be heard. Since we’ve started, I’ve noticed it really does allow all people, men, women, gender, diverse to let their guard down and feel as though they can be part of a conversation about challenging gender constructs together. LiisBeth:  The idea of gender equality organizations, for many feminists, is problematic. Some feminists see it as watered-down, corporatized version of feminism (all genders matter) which detracts from the real and more dire, urgent work of ending the systemic oppression of women. Thoughts? Zavitz: I don’t necessarily disagree, but we ultimately need to have gender equality for all in order to realize the ultimate feminist dream, or at least to move the feminist movement forward sustainably. I don’t see the two things as separate. So, I get what feminism is. I understand the importance of women-only, women-led spaces. Women will always be the torch bearers of the fight. I am an active participant in the feminist movement, but we need an evolved feminist movement that has gender equality for all at its roots. If we look at where we are today, rollbacks included, we actually need to have a feminist movement that’s more inclusive of men. Not because men need help getting equality, but because men are also impacted by gender constructs in ways that allow them to justify their role in the perpetuating harms and prevents them from participating as informed allies in the feminist movement. The gender equality space can serve as an alternative gateway for men who are keen to learn more about feminism—and want to amplify its work. LiisBeth:  Men have always been part of, or served as allies in the feminist struggle. There were men supporting the suffragettes, men marching alongside women in the 1960’s and again in the women’s march of 2016. Allyship between male-led social justice organizations has always been there. And look where we still are. Zavitz: That’s true. If we look today, we find some men still marching alongside a lot of women. At a recent protest against sexual assault at Western university where I work, men were included in the organizing. There were some men that were marching alongside a lot of women. We are not saying men have not been allies or supportive of feminist work. But not enough of them have signed on to tip the scales. What’s different about our organization is we’re willing to understand the extent to which men, your average Dick and John, have also been impacted by systems of oppression and make this part of the feminist conversation. We know that today’s definition of masculinity remains toxic for men and boys. By creating a space where all genders can talk about this together, we believe we can mobilize higher levels of allyship. There’s been so much debate about what feminism is and what feminism isn’t. For me, feminism is about ending inequality and all kinds of systemic oppressions. And if we really understand that, then we know we have to include men in not only the discussion, but also in the movement.  I argue in class that the next wave of feminism should be a much more gender-diverse, collective movement; An inclusive, intersectional gender movement of both individuals and allied organizations that work together intentionally to dismantle power structures that are actually killing us all. LiisBeth:  Wow. OK. We hear you! Now tell us what you are most excited about regarding the upcoming conference. Zavitz:  Oh, so many things! But I will mention two. First, our speaker lineup is incredible. Secondly, our activists-at-large program design feature. On the speaker front, we have Jeff Perera, a well-known North American activist who talks about the construction of gender, helpful versus harmful ideas of manhood, race and masculinity, the importance of empathy-building and who calls on men to help end gender-based violence”. We also welcome the incredible Dr. Raven Sinclair who will provide an indigenous perspective on gender equality, and Teneile Warren, playwright, community organization, plus intersectional equity educator, transformative justice practitioner specializing in anti-Black racism education who will talk about how gender was built on the foundation of racism. The activist-at-large idea is a new exciting experiment! Here we invited well-known, and lesser-known feminist, anti-oppression activists and authors to participate in the conference, not as speakers but as people charged with the task of mingling with the attendees and participating in, versus leading, round table discussions. We want them to share their wisdom but also encourage connections that continue to develop well beyond the event. We believe that this is better done on the floor rather than mediated by the stage. Among those attending as activists in residence are Joseph Pazanno, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) professional, strategist, and attorney, Judy Rebick (socialist feminist, reproductive rights), Nora Loreto (feminist and union organizing) and Lori Fox (queer, working-class rights and anti-capitalism). Oh! And we also have a terrific panel discussion focused on the future of feminism. It’s going to be a great day! LiisBeth:  It sure sounds like it! And we will be there. Thank you for speaking with us Dr. Zavitz! Publisher’s Note:  This is a sponsored feature. Thank you to the Gender Equality Coalition of Ontario for its support of LiisBeth.com. You can still register for the event. Price is $25.00 for students or $75.00 for general admission. This article was originally published by LiisBeth. The post Opening the door for men? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Feminism, gender equality, gender equity]

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[l] at 9/27/22 10:20am
From rabble’s September 2022 Off the Hill: What does reconciliACTION look like panel. Join guests MP Leah Gazan, Georgina Lazore, and Breanne Lavallée-Heckert and co-hosts Robin Browne and Libby Davies. Our panel reflects on truth and reconciliation and how Indigenous Peoples are exercising sovereignty every day, the tangible ways settlers can support Indigenous Peoples in their communities, and what action must be taken at the federal and provincial levels for meaningful change. Off the Hill is a fast-paced live panel on current issues of national significance. It features guests and a discussion you won’t find anywhere else, centred on the impact politics and policy have on people, and on ways to mobilize to bring about progressive change in national politics — on and off the hill. Meet our guests Robin Browne is Off the Hill’s co-host. Robin is a communications professional and the co-lead of the 613-819 Black Hub, living in Ottawa. His blog is The “True” North. Libby Davies is Off the Hill’s co-host and author of Outside In: a Political Memoir. She served as the MP for Vancouver East from 1997-2015, and is former NDP Deputy Leader and House Leader. Leah Gazan is the member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre. She is currently the NDP critic for Children, Families, and Social Development, as well as the critic for Women and Gender Equality, and the deputy critic for Housing. Leah is a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, located in Saskatchewan, Treaty 4 territory. Breanne Lavallée-Heckert is the research manager at Indigenous Climate Action. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights from the University of Winnipeg. She also holds a Bachelor of Civil Law and Juris Doctor from McGill University. Breanne is a Michif woman with German settler ancestry from Red River and Treaty 1 Territory. Her Michif family is from the Métis community of St. Ambroise, Manitoba. Georgina Lazore is from Ts’kw’alaxw First Nations which is located in the cusp of Secwepemc (Shuswap) territory and the St’at’imc (Lillooet). She currently resides in Cornwall, Ontario with her husband, five children, and eight grandchildren. Lazore works as a respite counselor, and was recently elected to hold a seat on the board of directors for the local Children’s Aid Society in Cornwall. She is the first generation of five that did not attend residential schools. The post Off the Hill: What does reconciliACTION look like? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Indigenous, Political Action, Indigenous Sovereignty, off the hill]

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[l] at 9/27/22 9:11am
Now that he’s on the way out the door to a doubtless rewarding but ultimately unsatisfying career as a bit-player on multiple corporate boards, Jason Kenney is rewriting history.  He spent part of the day Saturday doing that at the Canada Strong and Free Network conference in Red Deer, the small Alberta city best known for being conveniently located exactly halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. What the heck is the Canada Strong and Free Network, you ask? It’s the rebranded Manning Centre, which does business nowadays without the imprimatur of Preston Manning, the superannuated godfather of the Canadian right.  As such, the Red Deer hotel where the festivities took place was an excellent venue for Kenney to tell a few tall tales in the presence of a friendly audience disinclined to be overly critical.  According to the CBC, among the pearls of wisdom dropped by Kenney for the Canada Strong and Free Networkers was that he’s worried the “hyper-charged” anger of the alt-right on social media could turn conservatism into “a caricature of a kind of nasty, angry populism that will lose consistently at the polls as well.” “I know this is an old fashioned sentiment, but I actually believe civility is a conservative value,” Mr. Kenney piously proclaimed.  “And there is a growing sense of profound incivility,” continued the guy who handed out earplugs to his minions in the Alberta Legislature when the Opposition spoke and relentlessly attacked the prime minister who agreed to pay for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. Indeed, this is pretty rich coming from the fellow who created War Room to battle the “lies and disinformation” of the “enemies of Alberta,” and ginned up the “Public Inquiry Into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns” to find … well, in the end, no evidence whatsoever of the “well-funded foreign campaign” he claimed “defamed Alberta’s energy industry.” Perhaps most offensive, under Kenney’s leadership government “issues managers” were consistently used as a troll farm to attack and insult anyone who dared to criticize United Conservative Party (UCP) policy, including ordinary citizens who in no way could be described as political activists. Well, better to be remembered as that Conservative premier who worried about the growth of profound incivility, I guess, than as the Conservative premier who messed everything up.  Anyway, Kenney told his listeners, this isn’t really his fault or theirs. It was “liberal mainstream legacy media” that “went out of their way to become disaffected from almost everybody right of centre.” Let me know if you ever find any liberal mainstream legacy media in Alberta. As for Kenney’s big plan to fix health care by privatizing large chunks of it, which he must have hoped would be his political legacy, he blamed COVID for its partial failure.  “We could have gone further and deeper into health reform had it not been for COVID,” he lamented. “And I think Canadians are now waking up to the reality that we do need fundamental health reform.” There is probably some truth to this. But God help us all if the pandemic had hit after “reforms” like the ones Kenney had in mind had been implemented! As the weeks and months and years go on, expect Kenney to blame COVID for most the failures, unforced errors and miscalculations that made it possible for UCP rebels to persuade so many party members he had to go if the party was to survive. Now, thanks to Kenney’s hubris and arrogance, we are apparently about to be saddled with an unelected premier who favours ivermectin over public health measures and thinks Alberta Health Services must be broken up to keep it from conspiring against the government! Perhaps like Brian Mulroney, Kenney will eventually hire a well-connected Ottawa lobbyist to polish up his reputation and ensure we don’t blame him for Danielle Smith.  I saved the best for last. Kenney also claimed he never really planned to stick around in Alberta anyhow.  “I was never intending to be in this gig for a long time,” he told his credulous listeners. “Frankly, it was always my intention if I’d gone on to the next election to leave, probably about a year or 18 months after that.”  Well, there may be some truth to this tale. To slightly rephrase the Conservative attack ads about Michael Ignatieff, who led the federal Liberals from 2008 to 2011: “Kenney: He didn’t come back for you!” It’s said here that Kenney’s plan was always to return to Ottawa in triumph after restoring the Conservative Dynasty in Alberta. It’s just that the masterplan required some revisions after Kenney’s premiership didn’t go quite as intended. But now he wants us to think he intended to leave a year after being re-elected? Sure. Whatever.  The post Kenney’s long goodbye draws to a close; let the revision of history begin! appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics]

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[l] at 9/26/22 2:55pm
Content warning: The following contains alleged threats of sexual assault. Please proceed with caution and care. If you require support, there are resources available. Pierre Poilievre is calling on the RCMP to investigate after threats of sexual assault were made against his wife by members of the Diagolon movement. Diagolon is a far-right accelerationist movement whose members have called for violent attacks against members of the medical profession and some of which were also involved in an alleged attempt to murder RCMP officers during the blockade in Coutts, AB, this past winter. Their purported leader, Jeremy MacKenzie, made an explicit threat to sexually assault Pierre Poilievre’s wife Anaida during a conversation streamed on Telegram with fellow Diagolon leader Alex Vriend. Lets rape her, MacKenzie said. Its not really a sex thing. Its like we just want to show people that we can do things to you if we want to. Its a power move. Poilievre released a statement on Monday, September 26 denouncing MacKenzie and Diagolon as “dirtbags” and “losers.” Statement from the Hon. Pierre Poilievre pic.twitter.com/LekmhiLbUa — Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) September 26, 2022 Poilievre’s complicated relationship with the far-right This however, was not Poilievre’s first encounter with Diagolon and MacKenzie in the past few months. In late August, Poilievre was photographed with MacKenzie at a campaign event. When the photo began to circulate on social media, Poilievre refused to denounce MacKenzie directly. “As I always have, I denounce racism and anyone who spreads it,” Poilievre said at that time before deflecting by pointing to what he called Justin Trudeau’s many racist outbursts. Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian AntiHate Network, spoke to rabble back in August. He believed Poilievres refusal to reject Diagolon at that time as dangerous. “Is this somebody that a future leader of the opposition and a potential prime minister wants to be seen having common cause with? I ask the question rhetorically, obviously he does,” Farber said. “I mean, he’s not chosen at this point to in any way discredit him or say ‘I will have nothing to do with him’ and you’re left to make your own conclusions. You have no choice because this is important.” For their part, Farber explained that members of Diagolon view Poilievre as a potential fellow traveller through whom they can parley legitimacy. “I think Poilievre is seen by Mackenzie as their path into the political mainstream of Canada,” he said. “It wouldn’t at all surprise me if they believe that Poilievre embraces their views, or at least embraces some of their views.” In an interview with The Canadian Press MacKenzie stated he was drinking alcohol during the course of the video where he threatened Poilievre’s wife with sexual assault. He claimed that he did not really intend to do her any harm. Who is Jeremy MacKenzie and what is Diagolon? In an interview on Monday with the CBC, Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, explained how Diagolon is a movement seeking to establish a white-nationalist state running diagonally from Alaska through Canada to the southern United States. While Diagolon lacks concrete plans to achieve their goals, Perry explained that they do use violent messaging and imagery to accelerate what they believe is a civil war against white people. Some Diagolon followers are adherents to the “white replacement” conspiracy theory. The RCMP stated that they will be investigating the alleged threats made by MacKenzie toward’s Poilievre’s wife. MacKenzie has been charged with allegedly harassing a medical professional in N.S., and is facing weapons charges in Sask. The post Poilievre responds to threats made against his wife by far-right extremist appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Anti-racism, Canadian Politics, extremism, Pierre Poilievre]

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[l] at 9/26/22 12:18pm
Last week politically attentive Albertans began to realize that Danielle Smith really is likely to win the United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership race and will soon be sworn in as premier of Alberta. If that gives you a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach, you’re not alone.  Nevertheless, it’s now sinking in across the political spectrum that the former Wildrose leader who came close to becoming premier in the 2012 provincial election has finally done something right and is about to fulfill her ambition.  What comes after that, of course, remains a topic of conjecture.  So far, Smith has never had a political triumph that wasn’t followed by a political catastrophe. She seems to possess a sort of reverse Midas touch.  Back in 2012, as is well remembered, Smith’s Wildrose Alliance Party appeared to be on the brink of success when it was sunk by a sudden storm on a Lake of Fire brewed up by an evangelical candidate who didn’t know when to keep his lips zipped. The revelation enabled Smith, who failed to condemn Pastor Allan Hunsperger’s words, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  In 2014, Smith seemed to pound the final nail into the coffin of her political career when as Opposition leader she persuaded most of her caucus to cross the floor to join the Progressive Conservative government of then-premier Jim Prentice. In the spring of 2015, her career looked dead on arrival when voters in the Highwood Riding she had represented imposed the supreme political penalty for what they saw as the betrayal of her own party. She lost the battle for the PC nomination, knocked off by an Okotoks city councillor.  “I am leaving public life,” she texted to a reporter who asked her about her political future on the night of the nomination vote. She followed up by telling the reporter to “piss off” when she dared to ask a follow-up question. A month and a half later, Albertans elected a majority NDP government and sent Rachel Notley to the Premier’s Office. Now we’re about to have to get used to talking about Premier Danielle Smith.  You can sense the other UCP leadership campaigns giving up, even former finance minister Travis Toews’s effort, which had legs.  Even poor old Brian Jean, the other former Wildrose leader who more than anyone else was responsible for successfully undermining Premier Jason Kenney’s campaign to survive last spring’s leadership review seems to be fading from the scene. The MLA for Ft. McMurray-Lac La Biche, elected in March in a by-election on a campaign of getting rid of Kenney, already appears to have absorbed the lesson that “the hand that wields the knife shall never wear the crown.” Friday he posted an amateurish video on social media pretending to chop taxes with a large plastic Viking axe while yakking with a guy supposedly dressed like a Norse god. You can see conservative mainstream media – the only kind of mainstream media there is in Alberta – trimming its sails to accommodate the not-very-fresh new breeze.  On Monday, a well-connected political columnist published a piece suggesting talk of the government melting down or splitting up if Smith is elected was all just political pish-posh.  Don’t worry, folks, Smith will forgive her enemies, hinted Don Braid. The UCP will remain united. “Recently Smith’s campaign has been privately sending out conciliatory messages to other candidates,” he said soothingly. On Tuesday, another well-connected political columnist with the same employer reported vague details about an internal poll done for Smith’s campaign that showed her far ahead among UCP members eligible to vote in the leadership election. If Rick Bell’s numbers were right, the only question remaining is whether she’ll win on the first ballot or will have to wait for the second or third.  Details were scarce, and there was some scoffing. But by Friday there was a low buzz that polls by other campaigns were netting similar results.  Conservative politicians formerly aligned with other candidates are starting to slip over to Smith’s side too, trying to repair any damage from their earlier critical comments about the economic harm the frontrunner’s promise of an unconstitutional “Sovereignty Act” will do. Senior campaigners for other candidates are switching their allegiance to Smith as well. And even some of Kenney’s ministers are obviously thinking about what they’ll have to do to stay in Smith’s good graces, and her cabinet – Kaycee Madu, c’mon down!  Thursday, the same columnist published a fanciful column suggesting Smith’s separatist legislation will have no impact on business investment. He trotted out an announcement about an airplane plant planned east of Calgary – obviously a decision made long ago and quite possibly intended as a union-busting strategy – as proof passing the Sovereignty Act, which will supposedly allow Alberta to ignore federal laws, will do no economic harm.  Wednesday, just in case, Braid wrote a column suggesting Toews is still a player. But at this late hour you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.  Despite knowing she will have been chosen for the job by less than 3.5 per cent of the province’s voters, Smith is still vowing to press ahead with her Sovereignty Act – or, as Kenney’s former principal secretary recently called it, the Alberta Suicide Act.  Once her selection is official, UCP MLAs, even those who have been very critical of the crazier aspects of her campaign, will close ranks. Count on it, she will have no trouble passing the Sovereignty Act, no matter who said what about it.  Her post-victory strategy will likely involve trimming her own sails to sound more moderate.  But it seems likely she’ll nevertheless press on with her Sovereignty schtick and stick to her plans to throw the province’s health care system into chaos through decentralization and a politicized inquisition into its conduct through the pandemic, revenge for to public health measures to control COVID-19 hated by the UCP base.  Smith is, after all, both a COVID skeptic and a utopian market fundamentalist.  She will have lots on money on hand to distract us from the harm she plans. Still, the potential for a political or economic catastrophe is high.  Well, you have to give Smith this much: If she pulls a victory off on Oct. 6, it will rightly be regarded as the most remarkable political recoveries in Alberta history. Fasten your seatbelts! The post Danielle Smith’s dead political career? It’s alive … with a vengeance! appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics, Danielle Smith]

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[l] at 9/26/22 9:50am
The career of Bill Blaikie proves you don’t have to formally hold power to exert powerful influence on the life of a country. Blaikie died of kidney cancer at the still-young age of 71, on Saturday, September 24, in Winnipeg.  Except for two years as a cabinet minister in Gary Doer’s Manitoba NDP government, Blaikie spent his entire 32-year career as an elected politician on the opposition benches. For three decades Blaikie was a federal New Democratic member of parliament for a working-class Winnipeg riding. The New Democrats have never formed government at the federal level in Canada.  And so, Bill Blaikie never got to taste the rewards and perks of federal power. But he successfully used his voice in Parliament to advocate for policies he knew were in the interests of all Canadians. A case in point is the Canada Health Act of 1984.  Saving public health care when it was on the ropes This country’s system of publicly-funded and fully accessible basic health care goes back to the 1960s.  The NDP government of Saskatchewan led the way, although not without a fight.  Without federal help or support, Saskatchewan enacted its own form of what was then known as socialized medicine, in 1962. The doctors in that province pushed back, and hard. Supported by the private insurance industry and the U.S.-based American Medical Association, Saskatchewan’s doctors mounted a strike that lasted three weeks. At the same time, loud voices in the Canadian business and media establishment condemned Saskatchewan’s experiment in socialism. Against all odds, and with the help of doctors imported from the United Kingdom, the Saskatchewan government prevailed. Lester Pearson’s federal Liberal government took note.  Prodded by Saskatchewan’s example, and by the recommendations of a commission the previous Progressive Conservative government had set up, Pearson decided universal health insurance was a good idea whose time had come. By the end of the decade, the federal government had negotiated agreements with all provinces to institute their own public health insurance systems.  Health insurance in each province would cover surgeries, hospitalizations, doctors’ visits, vaccinations and other routine procedures.  The federal government’s carrot was money. It would share the cost with the provinces, based on a per capita formula.  As for the federal stick – well, at the time, the Pearson government did not see the need for one.  By the early 1980s, however, many provincial governments were allowing the system to erode.  Doctors in some provinces had initiated the practice of extra billing. They would charge the public system for a procedure, then turn around and present a bill to the patient.  And some provinces had also taken to charging patients user fees for services that were supposedly covered by public insurance. For hundreds of thousands of Canadians these practices imposed a considerable financial burden. They also constituted the thin edge of a wedge, threatening the very foundations of the universal system. From 1980 to 1984, Bill Blaikie was the New Democrats’ health critic in the federal Parliament. Early on, he clearly understood the threat of extra billing and user fees.  Almost daily in the House, Blaikie would rail against these menaces to Canadians’ unfettered access to basic health care. He demanded that the Pierre Trudeau Liberal government of the day act and act decisively. Blaikie proposed the federal government put conditions on its financial contributions for health care, and punish provinces that did not respect those conditions, by withholding a portion of the federal contribution. The Liberal health minister of that period, Monique Bégin, listened attentively, but was cautious.  Publicly, Bégin told Parliament she expected the provinces would do the right thing on their own, without the need for the heavy hand of federal conditions and sanctions.  Privately, however, Bégin was not so convinced. But she had to deal with her small-c conservative colleagues, who were less committed than she to the universal health care system and did not relish a fight with powerful premiers.  In his memoir “The Blaikie Report” Blaikie explains he knew that Monique Bégin, in fact, very much welcomed the intense pressure he was putting on the government.  “One day,” Blaikie recounted, “after a particularly vigorous polemical exchange between the two of us, I was handed a note from the minister’s parliamentary page. It expressed thanks, and encouraged me not to let up, as she needed all the help she could get in persuading her cabinet colleagues to move on the issue.” In the end, with the NDP’s enthusiastic support, the Pierre Trudeau government pushed the Canada Health Act through Parliament in 1984, months before a federal election that saw Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives take power.  The Act stipulates that Canada’s health insurance system must be comprehensive, fully portable, universal, and publicly administered. It specifically bans the practices of extra billing and user charges for insured services.  The federal government’s stick in this case was money. It would financially penalize provinces that did not respect each and every stipulation of the Act.  The Act is still in force today. Canadians treasure it, which is why two Conservative governments have not dared to amend or repeal it.  The Act bears Monique Bégin’s name. But Bégin herself would likely tell you that were it not for Bill Blaikie we might very well not have the Canada Health Act, and our health care system might look very different than it does today. A critic of globalization Blaikie had other victories from the opposition side of the House.  In 1998 he led a national campaign to oppose the mergers of Canada’s largest chartered banks, a project dear to then-finance minister Paul Martin’s heart. In line with the gospel of globalization, Martin wanted fewer and bigger banks so that they could be more effective players on the world stage.  Blaikie believed the already highly concentrated financial sector in Canada would become something close to a monopoly. And that would be bad for customers. Blaikie won the day because enough Liberal backbenchers were convinced by his arguments. The long serving Winnipeg NDP MP was not entirely successful in heading off the trade agreements both Liberal and Conservative governments pursued. He saw many of those as bills of rights for corporations, which served to weaken environmental protections and labour rights.  Blaikie, and his many allies in civil society, and the government of France, did succeed in killing the dangerous Multilateral Agreement on Investment, a pet project of both Canadian Liberals and Conservatives. And in 2003, as his party’s defence critic, Blaikie strongly opposed Canada’s joining in U.S. president George W. Bush’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq.  Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien heeded Blaikie’s counsel, as well as his own inner voice and the voices of the many others who opposed Bush’s folly.  Chrétien refused to become part of the U.S.’s “coalition of the willing”, to use Bush’s defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s phrase.  The “god squad” Bill Blaikie was a leading figure in a distinctively Canadian brand of progressive politics, one which is inspired a humanistic version of Christianity.  Like the NDP’s first leader Tommy Douglas, and other leading NDP MPs of an earlier era, such as Fathers Bob Ogle and Andy Hogan, Dan Heap, Jim Manly and Stanley Knowles, Blaikie was part of what he called “the god squad”.   The members of the squad had been all persons of the cloth – some Protestant, some Roman Catholic – before getting into politics.  Blaikie was a United Church minister. He, like the others, was inspired by a doctrine called the social gospel, which Blaikie defined this way: “Social gospellers shared a profound belief that the ideology of competition is a lie about the nature of a truly human society. They rejected the profit motive as a sanctification of vice and a recipe for exploitation. They rejected the concentration of incredible economic powers in the hands of a commercial corporate minority, and the challenge to our democratic self-image and to individual freedom that it posed. They shared a belief in the value of economic co-operation as the true expression of our life together … They were realists about the need for … restraints on human selfishness.” -Bill Blaikie Today we are more used to seeing demagogues of the right – who would deprive a woman of the right to choose, deny a poor person the right to a dignified standard of living, and ban books that tell the true story of slavery – don the cloak of Christian orthodoxy. Blaikie represented the progressive branch of the Christian tradition – although in progressive political circles these days, in 2022, one does not hear much about the social gospel. It almost seems like a quaint vestige of an earlier era. But there was nothing quaint or anachronistic about Bill Blaikie, as his long and successful career attests. Lots of people who knew Blaikie are now expressing deep sorrow at his loss – and that includes a good number who did not necessarily share his political convictions.  Freelance writer Tim Harper worked for two decades as a reporter on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. He spoke for many when he took to Twitter to write: Bill Blaikie was a giant of a man, literally and figuratively. One of the finest persons I ever had the pleasure of knowing on Parliament Hill. Terribly saddened by his passing. He will be missed. #cdnpoli #rip — Tim Harper (@nutgraf1) September 24, 2022 Bill Blaikie leaves more than the legacy of his good works.  His two children, Rebecca and Daniel, are carrying on his work – as candidates, as organizers, and, directly in dad’s footsteps, as NDP MP for the Winnipeg riding of Elmwood-Transcona. For them and his wife Brenda, and for all who knew and loved Bill, may his memory be for a blessing.  For the past three years rabble has been proud to carry Bill Blaikies regular columns, in which he commented on Canadian politics and world events, informed by his unique lifelong experience. The post Bill Blaikie, dead at 71, wielded lasting influence as an opposition politician appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Bill Blaikie]

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[l] at 9/26/22 7:00am
In the second episode of the Courage My Friends podcast, Series III, Jhoey Dulaca (caregiver and organizer with the Migrant Workers’ Alliance for Change), Ethel Tungohan (Canada Research Chair in Canadian Migration Policy, Impacts and Activism) and Chris Ramsaroop (activist and organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers) discuss temporary foreign workers in Canada, the multiple and barriers they face and the struggle for recognition, rights and belonging.  Speaking to the situation facing foreign migrant workers, Dulaca says, “In the beginning it was a dream. Its not what happens in reality. The promise of Canada is when you get in, you are allowed to apply for permanent residence. Thats the selling point, why I came here… They allow you to come here, but they wont allow you to have permanent status. And with permanent status, you are exercising your rights.”  Dulaca continued: “A lot of these people are tied to their employers. When I was working as a caregiver, I was tied to my employer and I couldnt do anything. If I was being abused, I couldnt just go and  look for [other] work. Just like the farm workers, theyre tied to their employers and the system is made for them to shut up. First and foremost migrants come here to support their family. ..Thats what makes it hard for workers to stand up for their rights.”  As Tungohan says, the situation facing these workers is structured into the system itself: “The thing about Canada that I find very perplexing is that its always been constructed as a liberal immigrant receiving state. And  to a certain extent thats true, but only for certain groups of people. So the easiest way to think about Canadian immigration policies is that theres citizen-track immigration and non-citizen- track immigration. And I would argue that temporary labor migrants tend to fall [in] the latter group.” On speaking to the need for organized resistance, Ramsaroop says: “Its about the role of power and asymmetrical power imbalances..There are no industry specific regulations. And coupled with this constant threat of deportation and permanent loss of work, this is why workers are .. working at heights without protections, being sprayed with pesticides and chemicals, working at a peace-rate system which has numerous and multiple forms of injuries on their bodies.So it is critically important to see this as structural violence .. This is an entire system thats been built to meet the needs of the employers, not thinking about the needs of workers. And this is why trying to build power across the industry and across all forms of temporary work is necessary and essential to change the power imbalance that exists.” About today’s guests: Ethel Tungohan is the Canada Research Chair in Canadian Migration Policy, Impacts and Activism, and associate professor of Politics and Social Science at York University. She has also been appointed as a Broadbent Institute fellow. Previously, she was the Grant Notley Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta’s Department of Political Science.  Her research looks at migrant labor, specifically assessing migrant activism. Her forthcoming book, “From the Politics of Everyday Resistance to the Politics from Below,” won the 2014 National Women’s Studies Association First Book Prize. Her work has been published in academic journals such as the International Feminist Journal of Politics, Politics, Groups, and Identities, and Canadian Ethnic Studies. She is also one of the editors of “Filipinos in Canada: Disturbing Invisibility,” which was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012. Dr. Tungohan specializes in socially engaged research and is actively involved in grassroots migrant organizations such as Gabriela-Ontario and Migrante-Canada. Joelyn Dulaca is a careworker organizer with Migrant Workers Alliance for a Change which is a coalition of migrant  careworkers, healthcare workers, farmworkers and international students.  A former careworker herself, who had to work away from her children to chase the Canadian dream; she had experienced the struggles of working as a live-in caregiver and is now dedicated to organize caregivers to fight for better immigration, labour laws and permanent status for all. Chris Ramsaroop is an organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers, a grassroots activist collective that has been organizing with migrant workers for nearly 20 years and whose work is based on building long term trust and relationships with migrant workers and includes: engaging in direct actions, working with workers to resist at work, launching precedent setting legal cases, and organizing numerous collective actions.  Chris is an instructor in the Caribbean Studies Program at the University of Toronto and a clinic instructor at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law. Ramsaroop is working to complete his PhD at OISE/University of Toronto. Chris is also currently assistant professor at New College, University of Toronto, Community Engaged Learning. Transcript of this episode can be accessed at georgebrown.ca/TommyDouglasInstitute or here. Image: Ethel Tungohan, Jhoey Dulaca, Chris Ramsaroop / Used with Permission Music: Ang Kahora. Lynne, Bjorn. Rights Purchased Intro Voices: Ashley Booth (Podcast Announcer); Bob Luker (voice of Tommy Douglas); Kenneth Okoro, Liz Campos Rico, Tsz Wing Chau (Street Voices)  Courage My Friends Podcast Organizing Committee: Chandra Budhu, Ashley Booth, Resh Budhu.  Produced by: Resh Budhu, Tommy Douglas Institute and Breanne Doyle, rabble.ca Host: Resh Budhu The post Migrant workers and the pandemic paradox: The unseen hands that truly keep us afloat appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour, Courage My Friends, Migrant rights, Migrant Workers]

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[l] at 9/23/22 12:07pm
Let’s face it: Pierre Poilievre is a dead-ringer for someone you’d meet at a private school debating tournament. I mean no disrespect — either to the new Conservative leader, or to private school debating tournaments (which I confess to attending in my youth). I just mean that all the media hype about him as a fiery populist is just talkity-talk. In truth, Poilievre is more debating nerd than populist — by a country mile. Indeed, the notion that he’s a populist — someone who backs working people over elites — isn’t just wrong, it’s downright silly. He’s actually the anti-populist: instead of championing the interests of working people, he routinely crushes those interests. Sure, he’s quick to bad-mouth the “elite” — you know, people like teachers, public health officials, journalists or anyone who supports vaccine mandates or thinks it’s bad to honk horns all night while people try to sleep. Strangely missing from his elite are CEOs, billionaires, hedge fund managers and other corporate bigwigs who actually make the decisions that shape our economy and impact the pocketbooks of ordinary Canadians. Today’s corporate elite is focused on suppressing the suddenly revived aspirations of working people to make more money. This desire to make more money — clearly a “pocketbook issue” — typically requires workers to act collectively. On their own, they have little power; but together, they have a lot of clout in taking on corporate owners — as workers have recently rediscovered. So where does Poilievre, the fiery populist, come down in this classic struggle? Well, he’s solidly on the side of the corporate owners who want to make it hard for workers to flex their muscles through unions. He has a long history of pushing anti-union legislation and denouncing “union bosses.” In 2020, he proclaimed himself dedicated to bringing “right-to-work” laws to Canada. These notorious U.S. laws, with roots in the Jim Crow era, are aimed at undermining unions. Barack Obama said they’re about “the right to work for less money.” Poilievre has enthusiastically served wealthy interests most of his life. As a teenager, he was already focused on helping the rich, arguing in an essay competition that, if he were prime minister, he’d abolish the capital gains tax — an odd policy choice for a 19-year-old supposedly grappling with how to make the world a better place. Poilievre didn’t win the contest, but he landed a job with its corporate sponsor. He also blended seamlessly into the right-wing Alberta crowd, glomming onto Preston Manning, Stockwell Day and Ezra Levant. But his conservative juices really started flowing when he served as a pit-bull in the cabinet of Stephen Harper, acting out the prime minister’s basest instincts. Poilievre could be dubbed Harper Lite, or maybe Harper XXL; he’s got all Harper’s ideological rigidity, mean-spiritedness and ruthlessness — just without the charm. Of course, Harper is now so pre-pandemic. So Poilievre, trying to project a more up-to-date persona, has made himself over as a woke-kicking, convoy-loving freedom fighter. This shiny new Poilievre has grabbed lots of attention. But beneath all that bareback freedom-riding, Poilievre is, as he illustrated in a 2012 op-ed in the National Post, really just a pedantic bore, with conventional right-wing ideas. Echoing the late Milton Friedman, Poilievre has called for replacing the “entire welfare state with a tiny survival stipend for all low-income people” — presumably just enough so that they don’t actually starve. This lack of empathy for vulnerable people is curious, given that, as Poilievre himself points out, he was born to an unwed teenage mother who gave him up for adoption. It turned out fine for him; he thrived in his adopted middle-class family. Lesson learned: as long as you’re OK, others in need (including those in the same desperate situation as one’s mother) can be kicked to the curb. Let’s not be fooled. Poilievre remains a dedicated corporate warrior. But he’s hoping we’ll see him as a fresh-faced hero leading the masses out of the Ottawa snowbank to the land of freedom. You don’t need to be on the far shores of woke to smell a rat. This column originally appeared in the Toronto Star. The post Poilievre dons populist mantra, serves corporate Canada appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Pierre Poilievre]

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[l] at 9/23/22 11:18am
Gentrification is affecting cities all across Canada, and while it might seem like there’s nothing we can do to stop it, a new book penned by a gentrification researcher believes it’s the exact opposite. In Gentrification is Inevitable and Other Lies, Leslie Kern analyzes and dissects the many false narratives about the process of gentrification, while also challenging the very definition of what it means to gentrify. Kern originally thought of calling the book, The Killjoys Guide to Gentrification, with the subject centring around “why the things so many of us enjoy and value about cities often lead to gentrification,” among other harmful and destructive impacts. “That was the original Genesis of the idea for the book,” Kern, who also wrote the book Feminist City, said in an interview with rabble.ca.  “And then it evolved into, I think, a more sophisticated way of trying to address different myths and misconceptions about the process [of gentrification].” Kern’s book tests the false narratives of gentrification being natural, but perhaps more expertly, she opens up the concept of gentrification past the idea of taste and class, to different metaphors of gentrification like yoga studios, tattoo parlours, and the practice of veganism. By connecting the monetization of activities and lifestyles previously associated with marginalized communities to cultural appropriation, Kern expands the way we think about gentrification. “I think gentrification has, over the last couple of decades, gone from academic jargon to a term that people use to talk about cities but also about other processes in the social and cultural world,” she explained. Gentrified cultural practices In her book, Kern explains how cultural practices that were once kind of taboo, like tattooing, or associated with working class communities, like certain kinds of food, are gentrified through the process of being brought into the mainstream on the premise of being an “artisanal, fancy” product. One example of gentrified food is the growing popularity of cereal cafes—restaurants that sell bowls of Cheerios and Rice Krispies at marked-up prices. “As I was writing that chapter and exploring these themes, it became obvious, but in many ways,” she said. “Even though these were somewhat metaphorical uses of the term gentrification, they also connected back to the very real material process of gentrification on the ground in cities.” She pointed to the impact that the upscaling of tattoo parlours might have on the social and cultural fabric of a neighbourhood. On a more widespread level, Kern noted that the rising cost of certain groceries can also lead to the exclusion of working class communities or different cultural groups. How to push back What sets Kern’s book about gentrification apart is that it not only captures the process in its different forms, but it also provides concrete steps on how to recognize, raise awareness, and push back against gentrification. Instead of dismissing gentrification as something that is just happening to us, Kern leaves readers with the tools to take direct action and make meaningful change, rather than resigning to the “inevitable.” “I totally empathize with the feeling that theres nothing that one could do, because gentrification does seem like such a steamroller, and so difficult to stop once its started,” she said. “But as I tried to show in the book, there are a range of successful strategies that communities all over the world have been using.” The book covers some of those direct action movements, including those who are demonstrating by “squatting”—the act of occupying an unoccupied area owned by others as a way to shelter unhoused people—as a successful effort to force cities to address homelessness, housing affordability, and the growing number of vacant properties in their communities. And for those who aren’t comfortable with taking part in direct action, Kern’s book lays out a series of other ways to effectively organize, including through community land trusts, legislation for rent stabilization and eviction moratoriums, and reaching out to local representatives. “It can make a difference, and it might not completely erase gentrification or stop it in its tracks, but you can make it a lot more difficult for it to proceed through some of these methods,” she said. Early on in her book, Kern writes of the power of language in the process of gentrification. “By portraying the neighbourhood as damaged, abandoned and dirty, the changes brought by gentrification come to seem necessary, good and welcome,” the book reads. “Describing the neighbourhood as a place in need of saving makes gentrification a hero.” Noting that narratives often locate the problem within the neighbourhood itself, “as though it’s some kind of a failure of that community,” Kern pointed out that the root of gentrification is actually traced back to “structural and systemic problems like poverty and the lack of affordable housing,” as well as through the clawback of public and social housing, and the racist practice of redlining. “All of these things have created a situation where some neighbourhoods struggle to have the basic needs of the community met,” she said. Kern’s book demonstrates that combatting gentrification requires a multi-faceted response. Tackling things one issue at a time, like getting more green spaces or better infrastructure for cities, can inadvertently lead to gentrification. And while the book connects the intersections of gentrification so well, it also captures the ways in which the process carries on the legacy of colonization and white supremacy. Taking cues from Indigenous activists and writers, as well as anti-racist scholars who have long argued that gentrification is about more than just class change, Kern concludes that gentrification is all about private property ownership and expanding property ownership among middle- and upper-classes, as well as wealthy investors and corporations, a foundational element of colonization. Its possible to see gentrification as a consolidation strategy for preventing the return of Indigenous lands to First Nations and other Indigenous groups, Kern said, adding that, as she wrote in her book, Indigenous activists will say that colonization is not a metaphor for gentrification, that in many ways, they are one in the same process. The post Is gentrification inevitable? A new book says no appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Political Action, gentrification, urban design]

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[l] at 9/23/22 10:50am
Who botched it in Saskatchewan? The RCMP stayed true to their motto (“Maintiens le silence”) during the murders on James Smith Cree Nation and nearby. The suspects had the same last name, but Mounties wouldn’t comment on any relationship. That was farcical and it turned into travesty when the second brother (as indeed they were) was caught and put in a cruiser, unhurt. There he died from what the Mounties called “medical distress.” They declined any further comment. Yeah, it’s infuriating — but the RCMP are doing what institutions do if they can. What I don’t comprehend is the passivity of the press. In the U.S. or U.K., some at least would’ve been howling about the “incident” in the cruiser. Rumours would’ve leaked. A journalist would be en route to making a career by breaking the real story. (Our press is capable of such disruption: Global News correspondent David Akin was deliberately rude to Pierre Poilievre for refusing to take questions and got somewhere.) At the very best, it showed a lack of professional curiosity. I’m not sitting shiva for CNN. There’s alarm on sites like the Guardian over CNN firing on-air figures like Brian Stelter and John Harwood and its supposed turn to the right. When Ted Turner started CNN, it had an independent leftishness that eventually turned to the usual mainstream sludge. After former U.S. president Donald Trump, it’s been less left-leaning than a propaganda ministry for the Democratic party. CNN took to calling Trump’s claims about a stolen election “lies,” which I’ve no problem with. What irks me is they don’t use the term on anyone else, making it seem like all others are telling the truth. Nor do they explore how Dems like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama betrayed “ordinary” voters and favoured the rich in, e.g., the 2008 crisis, thus making Trump quasi-inevitable. One final irritant: their ability, widely shared, to report catastrophes like Puerto Rico this week, with little to no mention of climate change. This is lying by omission; it’s not overt. But in the long run it may do more harm than any and all outright “lies.” “Women Talking.” The new film by Sarah Polley (a good friend) is a feminist triumph. It’s also probably the most political film I’ve ever seen in this sense: it implies that politics is about consultation and discussion, versus stuff we’ve come to assume it’s about like elections, power and big issues. A group of illiterate, beleaguered women must make a decision and they talk till they do, without anyone knowing who quite came up with the decision they all reach. It’s gripping. When it began I thought I’d be checking my watch. I didn’t once. We’ve been sold the notion that democracy is a rare, fragile bird invented in ancient Athens and perfected in “the West” — which is why it’s so imperilled. This film says politics is basically just about talking together, and democracy — in that sense — is its essential expression. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, a Canadian journalist embarrassingly suggested his people weren’t “intellectually” ready for democracy. If you’re human, says the film, you’re born ready for democracy. The queen as a member of the Greatest Generation. I don’t like the term much but she sort of fits: reticent, stoic, dutiful, ready to sacrifice. If you went through the war, as she did, and were aware of what preceded it — the First World War, the Depression, fascism, the Holocaust — you might well have felt historically shell-shocked: how could each, not to mention all these, happen without humans resolving that it wouldn’t occur again? Both ordinary people, and many of the rich and privileged who sometimes seem distanced from basic concerns, felt it simply cannot continue this way (think of Lester Pearson) and were ready to devote themselves to that conviction. It’s their voices in the UN Charter preamble: “We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” If none of that stuff, then no Queen Elizabeth II. This column originally appeared in The Toronto Star. The post Murder, media, ‘Women Talking’: catching up after the great royal funeral hiatus appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Indigenous, Queen Elizabeth II, RCMP]

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[l] at 9/23/22 10:39am
We are in the final days of our campaign to recruit new monthly supporters! And I encourage you to consider becoming one of them today. To reach our goal, we need to raise $3,000 by September 26. Will you help us cross the finish line? Giving monthly, from as little as $3 and up, is an easy way to support rabble’s award-winning journalism 365 days a year. When we all chip in a little, together we can make a big difference. Why supporting media democracy is critical right now Were so close to reaching our goal! Help us cross the finish line by becoming a monthly supporter today or provide a one-time gift. 1. Democracy is at stake – progressive independent media has never been more important than it is now with the rise of alt-right extremism in Canada. 2. rabble is dedicated to amplifying underrepresented voices and critical social movements often missing from mainstream media. 3. We are corporate-free and have never had paywalls – our rabble readers ensure this dynamic media space remains accessible to all. 4. rabble also builds community by hosting events like Off the Hill, fostering open discussion on babble, and providing insider news to monthly supporters. 5. Finally, rabble has exciting projects in the works including a new season of Courage My Friends and our Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship. We need your support to continue offering unique programs. rabble maintains a proud focus on labour and worker rights, feminism, grassroots activism, Indigenous solidarity and progressive analysis of national politics. As an independent outlet, we need your support today to move the needle on crucial issues that need solutions right now. Whether you give monthly or one-time, we appreciate each and every contribution. The post Become a supporter to help us cross the finish line appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: General, fundraising, independent media, labour, social justice]

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[l] at 9/23/22 9:15am
Statistics Canada recently reported there are more jobs than workers available to fill them. This unemployment-to-job vacancy ratio is at an all-time low. Mitacs, a research and development company is meeting the challenge head-on by matching post-secondary and graduate students in need of work experience with employers in need of their expertise. The innovative program is not only filling labour gaps, it’s also giving students an opportunity to fine tune their skills making them even more marketable. At the same time, the program is boosting Canada’s lagging innovation record. According to the Conference Board of Canada, Canada currently ranks 13th out of 16 peer countries when it comes to innovation. Countries with the highest overall scores tend to have national strategies around innovation. While Canada has good universities, engineering schools, teaching hospitals and technical institutes, it continues to experience innovation challenges that impede competitiveness in the global market and keep it from being a technology leader. Mitacs credits Canada’s lack of innovation competitiveness to waning business investment in research and development, struggles to scale firms, and poor adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies among other things. To help this sector transform, Mitacs has been sourcing internships from tens of thousands of college, undergraduate, and graduate students, as well as postdocs. These paid internships cover a broad cross-section of disciplines. “Giving post-secondary students, postdocs, and recent grads much-needed workplace experience is key to helping them develop skills that are critical for the future workforce and which they just can’t get in the classroom,” said John Hepburn, Mitacs CEO during an interview with rabble.ca. “At the same time, with more jobs being filled with capable students, we’re helping to improve Canada’s productivity and innovation. It’s a win-win for students, post-secondary institutions, industry and the country’s prosperity as a whole,” Hepburn added. Hepburn believes solving the innovation problem is going to take teams of people with different, but complimentary, skills and knowledge. Mitacs has projects that require students from such diverse disciplines as engineering, life sciences, math science, fashion, art, and marketing. Cultivating confidence Hepburn emphasized that still more needs to be done to support students’ skills development in Canada. A recent report commissioned by the non-profit, Mitacs Skills for Innovation – Sharpening Canada’s Skills Advantage (September 2022), revealed students lack confidence in key areas. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills, essential for innovation, are also highly valued by organizations. But of the 608 students surveyed, only 43 per cent were very confident that they processed these skills. Student confidence was also lacking when it came to team management (19 per cent) and project management (24 per cent). “Confidence comes with experience and practice in honing skills — all of which students report gaining through internships,” Hepburn observed. “Fortunately, organizations today are hungry for top talent and, with a labour shortage, are eager to provide students with growth opportunities.” The interns work full-time for the experiential learning, but also for financial compensation. That’s because Hepburn believes it’s immoral to have unpaid internships. He believes financial compensation shows a much-needed level of commitment by the companies to the student experience. The mid-training salaries are also essential if interns are going to live in the cities where they’re working. But, perhaps more importantly, it values their labour. These mutually beneficial collaborations mean companies get solutions to their problems while students get to take their research projects to the next level while developing their soft skills. A gateway to real-world experience Hepburn maintains, “Our interns are our best advertisers.” And, Tony Chahine, Founder and CEO of Myant, couldn’t agree more. Chahine creates textiles with sensors and actuators knit into them. The clothing created from these innovative fabrics is able to sense and react to the human body. These garments can help control stress, improve sleep or to stay connected when separated by distance or cognitive ability. The continual bidirectional interface helps the wearer manage their health, deliver treatment and can monitor systems to enhance athletic performance. Students have worked on a variety of projects at Myant including a new category for health care designed to be preventative rather than reactive. For the past 12 years students have helped in the creation of a medium that connects a patient with their health care professional as well as their wider circle of care. The project involved dozens of disciplines spanning the arts, engineering, clinical faculties and information technology. The different disciplines came together to design clothing that could potentially monitor the health of the seven million Canadians living with cardio disease. In fact, the clothing can house a wearable defibrillator to assist patients at risk of sudden cardiac death. To date, Myant has hired over 20 employees through the Mitacs program. During a phone interview with rabble.ca, Chahine said, “Canada has a massive opportunity here. We just need to take the talent and create an economy of making rather than and economy of consuming.” With a view to creating a truly more sustainable world, Worksport  designs, produces and distributes solar-charging tonneau covers for trucks. These covers are ready to power the electric vehicle (EV) and engine stop-start (ESS) trucks of tomorrow using solar power that’s stored in a battery. That energy can also be used to power work and recreational equipment. Sandra Aragon came from Colombia to pursue her masters in electrical and computer engineering at Ontario Tech University. She completed a five-month paid internship researching and analyzing the best choice of solar panels. She said Worksport had a welcoming ambiance that fostered collaboration and teamwork. Aragon also liked the fact that she had the opportunity to work on different projects. When her internship ended Aragon was hired by Worksport. She told rabble.ca, “I decided to continue working at Worksport as a research and development engineer because here, I have the opportunity to learn and apply my knowledge to solve the many challenges that we face every day. As an engineer this is very exciting since I get to do different things all the time.” Mitacs internships are supported by the federal and provincial governments. Organizations receive partial funding to compensate interns. Working with more than 100 post-secondary institutions, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada. Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada and every province, as well as academic, industry and international partners. For more information, visit mitacs.ca. The post Mitacs turns to post-secondary students to fix innovation sector appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Education]

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[l] at 9/23/22 8:29am
Is it just me, or is it kind of embarrassing to see lame-duck Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and a couple of little-known United Conservative Party (UCP) MLAs from rural Alberta hanging around the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)’s subway station at Yonge and Bloor trying to tout the bright lights of Wild Rose Country?  The Alberta Government has spent a lot of money papering over the TTC’s big subway station at Yonge and Bloor streets in Toronto with advertisements hailing the advantages, real and imagined, of life in Alberta. For example, according signs lining the steps leading up to the street from the subway, Alberta has “AFFORDABLE HOMES” (true, at least compared to Toronto or Vancouver) and “NIGHTLIFE AND CULTURE” (maybe not so much). For the next month, weary commuters can feast their bleary eyes on these truthy factoids as they hurry up to street level at Yonge and Bloor and make their way to their Dickensian workplaces in the towers of Toronto’s downtown.  Yesterday morning, the man who is still Alberta’s premier for a couple more weeks brought along UCP MLAs Miranda Rosin and R.J. Sigurdson to hold a press conference in the subway to tell folks that Alberta is Calling. Rosin is from Banff Kananaskis, where she is renowned for her “STOP the COVID concentration camps” proclamation on social media. Sigurdson represents the Highwood riding south of Calgary, which includes the teeming metropolis of High River where both Conservative prime minister Joe Clark and the locally famous legend of the High River gun grab got their start before petering out without having much impact. Presumably higher-profile UCP MLAs were otherwise occupied trying to get on the good side of Danielle Smith, the candidate favoured to replace Kenney when the leadership race votes are counted on October 6.  Which subway station hosted the three Albertans’ stunt seems to be in some dispute, and the government’s news release was not clear. Some news reports said Yonge and Dundas. Others said Yonge and Bloor. The pictures looked like Yonge and Bloor to me, but, really … whatever.  Hope the Wild Rose trio remembered that Yonge Street – said to be the longest street in the world – is pronounced Young.  Since all that subway signage seems to have turned out to be Kenney’s political swan song – at least for the short, unhappy Alberta portion of his career – he’s milking it like a Prairie dairy farmer before he’s put out to pasture.  And under the circumstances, who can blame him? Hope he got a chance to take a break and look for work before they jetted back to Alberta.  If they made it to the street at Yonge and Dundas the night before their hard morning of underground evangelizing about Alberta, I’m sure Rosin and Sigurdson were impressed by the bright lights on the surface, Canada’s modest response to Times Square, only without the Naked Cowboy who lends a Calgary touch to the real thing in New York. In the government’s press release, Kenney insisted the $2.6-million Alberta is Calling campaign – devoted mainly to wooing members of what the premier used to call the Laptop Class in Toronto and Vancouver – is money well spent.  “The incredible interest in the campaign website, as well as engagement across our social media channels, shows that this campaign is landing with Canadians,” the premier said in his canned quote in the release. “They are clearly seeing the benefits of life in Alberta, and they want to find out more.” No statistics were provided, however, to back up this claim.  In reality, it doesn’t matter, because the campaign is directed more at Alberta voters who may be contemplating voting for former premier Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party the next time they find themselves in a polling booth.  The campaign’s strategy, presumably devised before Kenney fared poorly in a leadership review vote last spring, can be summed up as, “Look busy, here come the voters!” This phase of the Alberta is Calling campaign is also supposed to include “more high-impact out-of-home tactics, including a newspaper wrap” in Vancouver, the press release says.  Presumably that newspaper wrap won’t be on a Monday.  Yesterday, the owner of the Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers, announced that nine of its moribund rags including the B.C. papers will no longer print actual paper editions on Mondays.  Don’t worry, though, the slow-motion trainwreck masquerading as English Canada’s largest newspaper chain assured its dwindling readership, they’ll still make a pretend e-paper version of their flagging publications every Monday, and their websites will continue to operate. Four Alberta newspapers – the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun – will also lose their Monday editions, as will the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun and Montreal Gazette.  Former newspaper journalists are now making book on when Postmedia – which given the size and depth of its publications nowadays should really be rechristened the Flyer Force – completely stops printing on paper because … what’s the point anymore?  The post Alberta may be calling but it’s doubtful Toronto is listening appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics]

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[l] at 9/23/22 7:00am
To produce quality education teachers need decent pay, adequate facilities and appropriate training. The global union Education International represented teachers around the world at a recent UN conference. EIs affiliated unions in Canada include the Canadian Teachers Federation and the Canadian Association of University Teachers. RadioLabour is the international labour movement’s radio service. It reports on labour union events around the world with a focus on unions in the developing world. It partners with rabble to provide coverage of news of interest to Canadian workers. The post The world needs 69 million more teachers appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Education, Labour, education, teachers]

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[l] at 9/23/22 7:00am
This week on rabble radio, we feature a segment from our most recent Off the Hill political panel. This month, our theme was Off the Hill: What does reconciliACTION look like? We discussed how Indigenous Peoples are exercising sovereignty every day, the tangible ways settlers can support Indigenous Peoples in their communities, and what action must be taken at the federal and provincial levels for meaningful change. Our September panel included MP Leah Gazan, Georgina Lazore, and Breanne Lavallée-Heckert. Co-hosted by Robin Browne and Libby Davies. To watch the full panel, visit rabble.ca/rabbleTV. Or visit our YouTube channel.  If you missed this event and don’t want to miss the next one, be sure to sign up for email reminders for events such as this at rabble.ca/alerts.  If you like the show please consider subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. And please, rate, review, share rabble radio with your friends — it takes two seconds to support independent media like rabble. Follow us on social media across channels @rabbleca. Or, if you have feedback for the show, get in touch anytime at editor@rabble.ca. Photo by: Bekky Bekks on Unsplash The post Let’s talk about reconciliACTION appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Indigenous, Indigenous rights, Indigenous Sovereignty, off the hill, truth and reconciliation]

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[l] at 9/22/22 4:30pm
Several Republican governors have been rounding up migrants and asylum seekers, families in many cases, most if not all in the country legally as they await immigration proceedings, and shipping them by bus and plane to “liberal” cities like New York, Chicago and Washington, DC. This state-sponsored internal displacement, intended to embarrass the Biden administration and inflame the Republican base, is racist, repugnant, and potentially criminal. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis fraudulently enticed close to 50 Venezuelan asylum seekers sheltering in San Antonio to board planes after being promised housing, employment and money. Many were told they would be going to Boston, and instead, after boarding two planes, were dumped at night on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, without advance notice to any local officials. DeSantis and these other GOP Governors, including Texas’ Greg Abbott and Arizona’s Doug Ducey, didn’t invent this charade. During the Civil Rights era, Southern white segregationists launched the Reverse Freedom Rides, bussing African Americans north. That racist campaign failed. This new iteration, no less nakedly racist, might succeed, if the public fails to hold accountable DeSantis, Abbott, Ducey and any other shameless governors who join in. The Reverse Freedom Rides of 1962 were launched in response to the Freedom Rides, when activists rode buses into the Deep South to challenge the segregation of interstate bussing still being enforced there. The Freedom Riders were met with hostility, violence and jail from white Southerners, but their efforts achieved significant attention and genuine gains. The Reverse Freedom Rides displaced an estimated 200-300 African Americans, busing and stranding them in northern cities, as well as on Cape Cod. “We didn’t really have anything. We just had our clothing,” Betty Williams told the Boston public media outlet GBH in a documentary about being bussed north as a child in 1962. “60 years ago, 1962, the White Citizens’ Council was an organization in the South and viewed themselves as more moderate than the Ku Klux Klan, but basically was also a white supremacist organization,” Professor Mwalim Peters of the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth explained on the Democracy Now! news hour. Peters is both African American and a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, an indigenous nation native to Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island. “In efforts to humiliate Northern liberals, particularly the Kennedy family, this was a stunt pulled where they put impoverished people — from Arkansas, Mississippi, the Carolinas and Georgia — on buses and sent them directly to Main Street in Hyannis and told them that the Kennedys would be there to welcome them — basically, identical to what’s happening now on Martha’s Vineyard, where they were promised all sorts of things…the target was to humiliate the Kennedys, the NAACP and the Urban League.” The Kennedy family had (and still has) a compound in Hyannis, hence the targeting of that small Cape Cod city in 1962. Today, Martha’s Vineyard, just off the Cape Cod coast and accessed by passenger ferry from Hyannis, is a summer vacation destination for many prominent Democrats, including former presidents Clinton and Obama. Governor Ron DeSantis knows this well, having attended Yale University in Connecticut and then Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Governor DeSantis may regret boasting that he organized the flights from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, whose jurisdiction includes San Antonio, has launched a criminal investigation into the flights. “As we understand it, 48 migrants were lured — and I will use the word ‘lured’ — under false pretenses into staying at a hotel for a couple of days,” the sheriff said at a news conference on Monday. “They were shuttled to an airplane, where they were flown to Florida and then eventually flown to Martha’s Vineyard, again, under false pretenses” Several of the lured migrants, along with Alianza Americas, a network of migrant-led organizations, have filed a class action lawsuit against DeSantis. The lawsuit offers shocking, first-hand accounts of the deception. Several Democratic lawmakers, from members of Congress to California Governor Gavin Newsom, are calling on the Justice Department to investigate possible crimes, ranging from misuse of COVID relief funds to human trafficking, kidnapping and racketeering. The U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Rachael Rollins, told the press, “We are looking into that case and will be speaking with members of the Department of Justice.” Using people fleeing desperate situations as political props and exacerbating their distress is cruel and dehumanizing. It was wrong in 1962 during the Reverse Freedom Rides, and it is wrong now. Governors DeSantis, Abbott and Ducey must be held accountable and those seeking safe haven in this country must be protected. This column originally appeared on Democracy Now! The post Governors DeSantis, Abbott and Ducey follow an old racist playbook of the segregated South appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Anti-racism, World Politics, Democracy Now]

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[l] at 9/22/22 2:35pm
Temperatures are dropping, leaves are changing and, now that pandemic restrictions have largely been lifted, universities are bustling with students. As the school year starts to pick up momentum, many international students who are seeking to enter the workplace are facing the reality of an exploitative immigration system.  According to Statistics Canada, tuition for international students in Canada is approximately $30,000 more than tuition for domestic students. While wrestling with steep prices, students in Canada on a study permit are restricted to working only 20 hours a week off campus while class is in session.  International students are treated like cash cows by universities, according to Sarom Rho, an organizer with Migrant Students United (MSU). MSU is a part of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, a workers rights organization with a membership of migrants in farm work, care work and low wage work. Rho said the labour of current and former international students, refugees, and undocumented people often fall into the low wage category. “For current international students, what were seeing here is a complete cash grab thats targeting racialized, poor and working class families around the world,” Rho said in an interview with rabble.ca. “Were mostly coming from the Global South. There is a bait and switch system where people are called to show up under the promise of getting permanent residency, but end up walking through a minefield of labor abuse, immense stress and exploitation.”  Restrictions on study permits and high tuition leads international students into illegalized work, Rho said. She explained that for those who work off-campus, 20 hours of work is not enough to pay the tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. Work restrictions leave international students with few options “There are nearly 800,000 current and former international students in the country and many are facing exploitation at work, lack of support at school, increasing tuition fees, and restrictions on their permits,” Rho said.  For on-campus jobs, hour restrictions do not exist, according to the Government of Canada’s website. This removes the competitive disadvantages for international students, according to Jordan Hartshorn, who works for the International Student and Study Abroad Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. Even though on campus job opportunities remove barriers, not all international students will be able to find employment on campus. At the University of Regina, there are more than 3,000 international students enrolled, according to an email sent to rabble.ca. Of those 3,000, the University employs 301 international students on-campus. This figure does not include their three federated colleges: Campion College, First Nations University of Canada and Luther College. Beyond the University of Regina, most post-secondary institutions do not track how many international students are employed on-campus. However, Hartshorn said there is a disadvantage for international students as they job hunt.  “International students often lack Canadian job experience which can hinder them during a job search,” said Hartshorn. “We encourage international students to explore volunteer opportunities on campus with university service units, student associations and other organizations.”   Emilio Rodriguez, a refugee and migrants rights policy analyst for the organization Citizens for Public Justice, came to Canada as an international student in 2016. Rodriguez said that the process of trying to obtain permanent residency while being an international student worker was stressful.  At the mercy of IRCC “It was challenging in many regards,” Rodriguez said, “because you come here with your skills, your thirst for knowledge, thirst for experience and desire to contribute to this country. There are several barriers that are put in place. From access to scholarships, to access to internships to job opportunities, there are very strict barriers that limit migrant student workers from accessing those opportunities.”  Rodriguez said that he was in Canada for more than five years before he was granted permanent residency. He said that for the international student program that is a short time frame. In those five years, Rodriguez said that while between contracts, he couldn’t access services such as healthcare. While reflecting on his experience, Rodriguez described himself as being “at the mercy of the IRCC.” High cost-of-living and hour restrictions for study permit holders created a heavy financial burden for Rodriguez.  “I was overburdened,” he explained. “Like every every last bit of money that I was able to make I was was going towards tuition and living expenses” Minister of Immigration, Sean Fraser tabled a new strategy to expand pathways to permanent residency on September 20. For international students, the document says that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is “assessing the trade-offs between reducing administrative requirements on co-op and work-integrated learning with any potential integrity risks that could arise.”  Another measure IRCC is taking is testing measures that give international students more time in Canada to continue to gain work experience.  “Temporary foreign workers and international students play an important role in Canada’s economy and that is why the Government aims to enable greater pathways to permanent residency,” the strategy reads. “Foreign workers help address the immediate workforce needs of different employers, provide a wide range of skill levels and education backgrounds, and support business development, innovation and productivity.”  Although the role of foreign workers has been acknowledged, the current tabled strategy does not meet the calls for status for all that have been put out by activists across the country. These calls have been revived after more than 5,000 people mobilized in 13 municipalities in Canada on September 18. This mass mobilization was in support of the Migrant’s Rights Network’s call for status for all.  Rho, who was at the rally in Toronto, said that full and permanent status for all migrants will ensure that everyone has access to the same rights. She said that protections for migrant student workers will not be expansive enough until they are given permanent residency.  “I think the conversation has largely been about the intentions of migrants,” said Rho from MSU. “People ask, ‘Do they want to stay in the country?’ But permanent residency isnt just about the ability to stay in the country. Permanent Residency is fundamentally about rights. It is the only existing mechanism in Canada for people to access rights such as basic employment rights. Speaking up against bad employers without reprisal or accessing health care can’t be done without permanent residency. So I think thats where the focus needs to be.” The post Protecting labour rights means status for all, international students say appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Education, Labour, International Students]

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[l] at 9/22/22 12:20pm
Transnational fertilizer companies, many based in North America, are reporting record profits despite increased production costs and reduced sales of their products. The high fertilizer costs are drawing attention, not just here in Canada but also globally, and there are warnings that these costs could trigger a food crisis in parts of the world similar to that which occurred in 2007-2008. Given that sales are down and production costs up, some food and farm organizations are wondering if these prices are being fixed artificially high because of corporate concentration and lack of competition in the sector. Farm organizations across North America and as well as global non-profit organizations which monitor food security issues are among those sounding the alarm— tagging the windfall profits of the major fertilizer companies as possible collusion — and asking national governments to investigate these huge gains. These profits come at a time when farmers’ crop incomes are improving. Coincidence? Perhaps, say some, but investigating might find otherwise. In Canada, farmers this year have been paying increases of anywhere from double to more than 250 per cent over the five-year price average for fertilizers. But, the National Farmers Union (NFU) emphasizes that lack of competition makes the potential for manipulative pricing behaviour that much easier. The NFU notes in a letter written to the House of Commons Agriculture Committee that: “…These four corporations control 95 per cent of Canadian ammonia production capacity and 100 per cent of urea capacity. On a North American basis, these same four companies control 74 per cent of ammonia capacity and 84 per cent for urea.” While demand is down for these fertilizers, and production costs have increased, profits for some fertilizer companies have at least doubled in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021. Consider the recent profit picture for some of the companies that dominate the nitrogen fertilizer market in Canada: Nutrien Ltd. reported net earnings of $5 billion for the first half of 2022, double amounts for the same period in 2021; CF Industries and Yara International also reported net earnings that doubled during the first half of 2022 compared to 2021. The NFU is calling on the House of Commons Agriculture Committee to “immediately undertake a thorough review of fertilizer pricing, the structure of the sector, and the conduct of its largest corporations.” In its August letter to the Committee, and to provincial ministers of agriculture, the NFU notes that record profits are being observed for all three primary fertilizer types: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The NFU requested an investigation earlier this year as well. Canadian farmers are not alone in bearing the brunt of increasing fertilizer prices. Farmers in the United States are also requesting that their government investigate potential price-fixing of fertilizer prices there as well. They note that the fertilizer corporations financial records state clearly that these record profits come at a time of increased production costs and reduced sales. More than 24 food, farm and rural organizations have come together with Farm Action in the United States to write to the US Department of Agriculture asking for action, noting that the fertilizer companies’ pricing systems are robbing farmers of their profits. The group is asking for the USDA to take action to decentralize the production and market control of the fertilizer corporations. The situation globally regarding fertilizer prices and corporate concentration in this sector is very similar. Over the past 70 years, since the end of the Second World War, the use of artificial fertilizer to boost crop production has increased to the point that, today, more than 50 per cent of global agricultural production is dependent on these artificial nitrogen and other fertilizers. Since the 2000s there have been several buyouts and mergers in this sector, consolidating the fertilizer production industry into a handful of transnationals, namely Nutrien (based in Canada), Mosaic (US), Yara (Norway), CF Industries (US), and K+S (Germany). The industrialization of agriculture across much of the globe has created a dependency on inputs which farmers are told will boost their crop yields. It has also increased farm production costs, and can eat into farm profits, as is noted this year with unprecedented fertilizer prices alongside windfall profits. The situation is once again reaching crisis proportions — with fertilizer prices impacting food security in a number of ways. Increased fertilizer prices in Canada will affect farm incomes on those farms which have become dependent on artificial fertilizer use. In Africa, small landholders who have become dependent on fertilizer use hoping for better crop yields can find themselves unable to pay the higher input costs. Increased fertilizer costs increase food costs. In the end it is the farmer, the consumer and the taxpayer that foot the bill for increased agricultural production costs. In some cases, as in Canada, it can be through increased federal and provincial program supports. Consumers pay more at the store… Or line-up at the food banks when they can’t. In other parts of the world, people foot the bill through hunger — as was the case in 2007 and 2008. And if all of this was not enough, the legacy of dependence on artificial fertilizers goes beyond windfall profits — and seeps right through to destructive practices at the community level. Use of artificial fertilizers produced with fossil fuels is driving agriculture’s contributions to greenhouse gases emissions and climate change. But this dependence and its impacts, and whether the price is worth the benefit…is grist for another column — an important story for another day. The post Farm groups call for investigations into rising fertilizer costs appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Economy, Environment]

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[l] at 9/22/22 8:47am
You’ve got to hand it to Kaycee Madu, the only United Conservative Party (UCP) MLA in Edmonton and for a little while at least Alberta’s minister of labour, the man’s got no shame. Call it what you will, brass, cheek, gall or chutzpah, he’s got no shortage of the stuff!  Tuesday, loudly making his support for UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith known to all on social media, Madu caused jaws to drop all over Alberta with his Twitter declaration of “thanks to all those citizens, freedom convoys, who had the courage to mobilize against these tyrannical policies.” “They endured a lot hate, name calling, suffered and vilified on behalf of all of us,” his tweet continued. “I thank them!” While Madu apparently had the Trudeau Government’s ArriveCAN smartphone app in mind, the “tyrannical” policies he mentioned also included the half-hearted public health measures implemented by Jason Kenney’s cabinet, in which he served throughout the pandemic. They were regularly denounced by the Q-adjacent Ms. Smith, the quack-COVID-cure enthusiast who is now the frontrunner to replace Kenney and lead the UCP when the party vote results are announced on October 6. As for the “freedom convoys” Madu referenced, they included the U.S. border blockade at Coutts in January and February 2022, when he was Alberta’s justice minister, which resulted in several participants being charged with plotting to murder RCMP officers. Surely it’s not a good look for even a former UCP justice minister to be thanking such characters for their war against policies he himself not so long ago endorsed in cabinet and public! But that was then and this is now. Anyway, we don’t really do irony out here in Wild Rose Country.  One gets the impression Madu isn’t even mildly discomfited by this glaring contradiction, any more than he seemed to be when he got caught that same February asking the chief of the Edmonton Police Service a year earlier about a ticket he’d received for distracted driving in a school zone. That was too much for Kenney, though, who soon shuffled him off to his present portfolio. Most Parliamentary first ministers would have fired Madu on the spot.  Instead, playing Parliamentary musical chairs, Kenney made him swap jobs with Tyler Shandro, another catastrophic cabinet minister who like Madu has left a trail of devastation in his wake.  Now this, which even by the UCP’s standards rather boggles the mind.  In the wild reaction Madu’s tweet stirred up on social media, opinion seemed to be divided between those who thought he was trying desperately to keep a job in cabinet when Ms. Smith is sworn in as premier – as tout le monde political Alberta now assumes she will be – or merely to get himself a nice sinecure with her government that has the potential to survive the loss of his seat in Edmonton-South West to the NDP in the next general election. Its quite possible, of course, that both could be true. You can count on it that Madu is not the only former Kenney acolyte now scrambling to get into Smith’s good books. Calgary Sun political columnist Rick Bell, who has a talent for positioning himself adjacent to the Conservative leader most likely to hold power, Tuesday described the “pathetic” pleas of these MLAs to win Ms. Smith’s favour. “‘You know me,’” Bell quoted them telling him. “‘I didn’t really support Kenney. You thought I supported him but I didn’t agree with him. Not really. It just looked that way. Truth be told, I didn’t even like him. He didn’t listen. It’s not my fault.’ Then … ‘You know Danielle Smith. Can you put in a good word for me?’” “I’ve seen rats on a sinking ship with more character,” Bell summed them up. That sounds about right. And that’s why, notwithstanding all the brave predictions by Kenney loyalists up to now, Smith will likely have no problem getting the UCP Caucus to pass her anti-Canadian “Sovereignty Act.” Of course, this presupposes a government led by Smith can win a provincial election against Opposition Leader and former premier Rachel Notley’s well-funded and disciplined New Democratic Party.  Tuesday afternoon Smith, understandably enough, was touting her own rather dubious poll, which unsurprisingly suggests a UCP led by her could beat Notley’s NDP in a general election.  Since at the moment we don’t know what questions were asked, how respondents were chosen, or the methodology used by the Conservative activist outfit that conducted the survey, that remains to be seen. The post Former minister Kaycee Madu declares fealty to UCP frontrunner appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics]

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[l] at 9/21/22 11:29am
As we transition from summer into fall, Canada faces at least two major issues in healthcare. The first is the continuation of COVID-19. Although the majority of restrictions have been removed across the country, there is still a risk of infection and reinfection, especially as the virus mutates. To complicate matters, with the traditional flu season upon us, there is a double viral threat to our health. In short, as people move indoors because of the weather, viruses of all kinds move with us. The second threat to overall healthcare is the shortage of physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, ambulance paramedics and other healthcare professionals. Add to this the deplorable state of many healthcare institutions, especially for congregate living, and it is clear how dire the situation is. When these two issues are in play at the same time, what is the outcome? There are some five million Canadians without a family practitioner. What are they to do if they test positive for COVID? The guidelines for isolation and retesting are all over the Canadian map. But each of us lives in only one province or territory. Your jurisdiction’s website highlights what’s relevant for you. What do you do if you test positive and you don’t have a physician or primary healthcare practitioner? There are two Canada-wide approved treatments to reduce the effects of COVID:  Paxlovid and Remdesivir. Neither is meant to prevent COVID. Both are proven to reduce the severity of COVID-19 and to prevent hospitalization among particular populations. Across the country, the eligibility requirements for the two approved drugs are inconsistent. Are you in an age-related at-risk category, which ranges from 50+ to 70+, but can be as low as 18+? Do you have chronic or pre-existing health conditions? Are you First Nations, Métis or Inuit? Have you received one vaccination, two, or none? One or more booster shots? It all begins with testing positive. If you do so, first, you negotiate your jurisdiction’s website to determine whether you are even potentially eligible for either Paxlovid (taken at home) or Remdesivir (given intravenously in-hospital). If you are eligible for assessment and you do not have a regular physician or nurse practitioner to complete an evaluation and prescribe medication, things get even more complicated. All the while, the clock keeps running. This is important because the drug regimens must begin within five days of experiencing symptoms. Emergency rooms warn people to stay away if they have tested positive for COVID. The same is true for medical centres. Yet visits to these venues are often recommended for assessment. There is good news if you live in Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Newfoundland and Labrador. Pharmacists there can prescribe Paxlovid to people who are experiencing symptoms and who have tested positive for COVID-19. The bad news is that if you live elsewhere in Canada, this is not the case. Why not? Early in the course of the pandemic, pharmacists across the country were quickly empowered to administer COVID vaccines. Why can’t this expansion of pharmacists’ scope of practice take place relative to drugs to alleviate serious COVID cases? There is no clear answer to this question. If you are not in the good news provinces and territories, you must rely on jurisdictional toll-free numbers to start the process. For example, BC acknowledges that not everyone has a doctor. The provincial website suggests contacting Service BC. This leads to a four-part process to complete, which can take up to four days. This is cutting it short, especially if Remdesivir is recommended, requiring hospitalization. Manitoba takes a middle ground by not spelling out the specific eligibility requirements, but again referring people who test positive to a toll-free number. It also mentions that “To improve access, one of the treatments (Paxlovid) will be available at 175+ pharmacies across Manitoba with a prescription. Use this list to find a location near you.” No mention is made, however, of how to get a prescription to bring to the pharmacy. In Ontario, the recommended option for people who test positive and who do not have a regular health care provider is to visit a Clinical Assessment Centre. These centres “can test, assess and provide treatment options for COVID-19. You should visit one if you have symptoms and are at higher risk for COVID-19 and need to get tested and assessed for treatment (including antiviral treatment).” There are over 850 such centres around the province, with each catering to specific populations under specific circumstances. Nova Scotia has an online assessment tool for anyone who tests positive and/or experiences symptoms of COVID-19. The tool establishes eligibility for potential treatment. It also facilitates referrals to physicians and others who are designated to prescribe and to dispense Paxlovid and Remdesivir. Not all physicians are. New Brunswick’s government website advises “If you do not have or cannot reach your primary care provider, call 811 or visit https://www.evisitnb.ca/ to see a New Brunswick nurse practitioner or doctor online.” E-visits are covered by New Brunswick healthcare insurance. On PEI, eligibility for treatment is very broad, ranging from 18 to 50+, the former with underlying medical conditions and the latter regardless of vaccine status. People who test positive, but don’t have a family physician, can call a toll-free number or visit a walk-in clinic. Yukon’s government website does not specifically mention how to access treatment without a doctor, only that a doctor’s assessment and prescription is needed. Northwest Territory advises a visit to one of the many health centres across the territory. Nunavut has perhaps the simplest eligibility criteria, stating that treatment is available for “for adults 18+ who are considered high risk for poor outcomes.” The territory has established the COVID-19 toll-free hotline, accessible from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. It is the route to treatment assessments and prescriptions. Vaccination remains the single most important deterrent against the virus. Oxymoronic though it sounds, and counter-intuitive though it is, vaccine uptake is declining, despite persistent increases in the virus across the country. Yet receiving a shot is relatively simple and accessible. If only finding a family physician were that easy. The post COVID-19 Positive; physician negative appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Health, COVID-19, doctor shortage]

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[l] at 9/21/22 9:37am
Canada ranks 60th out of 187 countries based on the percentage of women in parliament according to an Inter-Parliamentary Union report on gender parity. Some Canadians may be surprised to know that the top five spots belong to Rwanda (61 per cent); Cuba (53.4 per cent); Nicaragua (51.7 per cent); Mexico and United Arab Emirates (50 per cent). With women representing 30.5 per cent of parliamentarians, Canada ranked slightly lower than Zimbabwe (30.6 per cent) and just ahead of Vietnam (30.3 per cent). The United States was 70th (28.5 per cent). Reaching Gender Parity in Politics: We Still Have Room to Grow, an Abacus Data study (August 2022), revealed that two-in-three Canadians are either concerned, disappointed, surprised or angry to learn of Canada’s low ranking. Of the 2,000 respondents polled, 84 per cent believe balance of power among men and women better represents constituents and is good for the economy. Fewer than one in five respondents feel the onus is on women to run or voters to elect more women. A full 63 per cent think political parties, or the government, should be responsible for ensuring equal representation of women and men in politics. The national Balance of Power campaign encourages Canadians to help the country achieve gender parity in politics by 2030. Commissioned by Informed Opinions (IO), the results were the impetus for the non-profit to launch a first-of-its-kind campaign encouraging political parties to increase female representation at all levels of government. Canada falling behind other nations in gender parity In a recent interview with rabble.ca, Shari Graydon, CEO of IO, noted that in just two decades, Canada’s ranking dropped a full 32 spots from 27th to 59th.  Astoundingly, while the Abacus study was being conducted, Canada dropped an additional ranking to 60th place. “Canada is losing ground when it comes to parity in politics and the fact that women hold less than a third of elected seats prevents us from developing policies and tabling budgets that reflect the needs of all citizens,” said Graydon. For Graydon, this political inequality is extremely detrimental to the country as a whole. That’s because women experience many aspects of life differently from men and those realities inform insights and ideas. As it now stands, 70 per cent of politicians will never experience periods, pregnancy, childbirth or pay discrimination. They most likely won’t be sexually objectified, harassed or assaulted. According to Graydon, these differences explain why men alone cannot address the needs of Canadian women and she believes, their track records prove her point. That’s why Graydon is, “Hoping to foment a revolution from Canadians who expect better.” She’s referring to engagement from both Canadian women and men who, until now, were unaware of just how bad Canada is doing with regards to political equity. “We know diversity means more reliable health care, financial policies and budgets. We also know the status of women is a good indication of the country as a whole,” Graydon said. In the past 20 years, Canada has inched up from 20 per cent to 30 per cent female representation. At that rate it will take until 2062 to reach gender parity. Gender balance an essential part of democracy Graydon says it’s really not hard to reach parity when viewed as an issue of fundamental fairness and an essential part of democracy. She cites complacency as the culprit. “We thought we were a leader. We had international attention when Justine Trudeau had a balanced cabinet. But he gave us that despite women making up less than one-third of elected representatives,” she said. Multiple barriers keep women from running and from getting elected. Not the least of which includes the old boys’ network that operates in political parties. Women continue to be less present in the standard pipelines and routes to power. Additionally, when women are recruited, they generally receive less funding than male counterparts and are sacrificed in unwinnable ridings. Neither of these token gestures does a thing to narrow the gender gap. “Political parties have the power to achieve gender parity by making necessary changes to their practices and policies,” observed Graydon. They just need the political will. Whether running for office or while holding it, women face greater criticism and have to deal with toxic abuse that their male counterparts don’t encounter. Both Catherine McKenna and Chrystia Freeland experienced vicious attacks for their work within their ministerial portfolio and general party politics respectively. Graydon believes that having 50 per cent women in Parliament means less testosterone and that brings a different quality to the conversation as well as more collaboration. More women also help keep bad actors in the house in check. Gender quotas increase candidate quality It’s important to remember that countries around the world dealing with these same issues are still able to elect more women. A fact that can often be attributed to establishing voluntary gender quotas. Iceland (47.6 per cent) and New Zealand (49.2 per cent) have voluntary gender quotas that have been adopted by political parties. Both countries are also headed by female prime ministers. The belief that such quotas undermine the quality of female candidates is unfounded. In fact, by ensuring women a more level playing field, unexceptional men find it increasingly difficult to get elected because, as the research shows, women who run are generally more qualified for these positions than their male counterparts. Currently, over 80 countries have set minimum targets for women’s representation and tasked political parties with meeting them.   Canada’s federal parties already appoint 83 per cent of the candidates they run – it’s just that most of them are men. In Quebec, however, this is not the case. Women held more than 44 per cent of the seats in the last provincial parliament (2018) and are expected to win up to 47 per cent in the next one (2022).  This is in part because advocates have been pressing the government for years to introduce hard targets. The prospect of targets incentivized parties to recruit and support more women. “We need to learn from countries that have adapted their political systems to ensure that women’s perspectives and experiences are meaningfully reflected in government decision-making,” Graydon said. While campaign schools are often held up as a solution, Graydon believes they provide useful information while reinforcing the importance of representation. What these schools fail to do is address the systemic barriers that keep women out of office. More importantly, campaign schools imply that women somehow need training before they can launch their political careers. That stands in stark contrast to their male counterparts who are often portrayed as being ‘natural’ politicians. “I have learned so much that has made me angry and more vehement because other countries are doing better. We need to mobilize Canadians to recognize how fundamentally indefensible this is,” said Graydon. To that end, the Balance of Power campaign is asking Canadians to say no to the status quo by emailing their MP, MLA, MNA, MPP – lists available on the site – telling them Canadians not only expect better gender representation, but that they will be voting for it. For more information and to join the Balance of Power campaign, visit https://www.balanceofpower.ca/. Informed Opinions has been working to improve the portrayal and representation of women in the media and amplifying womens voices through research, advocacy, and thought leadership for more than four decades. Founded in 1981 as MediaWatch, the organization has evolved with the times and remains the only national Canadian initiative addressing women’s engagement in public discourse, which the organization says has never been more critical. The post Balance of power campaign to achieve gender equity in politics appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Feminism, Human Rights]

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[l] at 9/21/22 9:02am
Set aside for a moment the fact that our profligate use of coal, oil and gas and rampant destruction of green spaces are heating the planet to a point where human life will become increasingly uncomfortable, if not impossible; climate change costs are also mounting, and pollution, habitat destruction and consumerism are profoundly affecting global human health and survival. Other than fear of change or of upsetting the status quo, there’s no rational reason for the slow pace at which the world is tackling the climate emergency. We’d all be healthier, happier and better off economically by quickly employing the many available and emerging solutions, and working on new ones. A study co-ordinated by the World Meteorological Organization illustrates our predicament and how we might get out of it — but we have no time to lose. UN secretary general António Guterres said the “United in Science 2022” report shows we’re “heading into uncharted territory of destruction” with mounting climate impacts. Although governments worldwide have agreed to try to keep the planet from heating more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, the report concludes that’s increasingly unlikely — especially as commitments and actions fall far short of what’s needed. It finds a 48 per cent chance that “during at least one year in the next five years, annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5° C higher than in 1850-1900.” It also notes emissions continue to rise and “returned to 2019 pre-pandemic levels after a large, but temporary, absolute drop in emissions due to widespread lockdowns.” And it points to the danger of climate “tipping points” that “could have significant global and regional consequences.” “A tipping point is when a temperature threshold is passed, leading to unstoppable change in a climate system, even if global heating ends,” the Guardian explains, reporting on another major study that found the world is nearing several “disastrous” tipping points and may have already passed five. That study identifies nine global and seven regional tipping points, including collapse of the Greenland, west Antarctic and two parts of the east Antarctic ice sheets, partial and total collapse of Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (including the Gulf Stream), Amazon rainforest dieback, permafrost collapse and loss of Arctic winter sea ice. Collapse of Greenland’s ice cap could cause a huge sea level rise, collapse of the Gulf Stream could disrupt rain billions of people depend on for food and abrupt permafrost melting could release methane into the atmosphere, the Guardian reports. Climate disruption is already causing devastation worldwide, and it will accelerate unless we step up our global game. One-third of Pakistan is deluged in water, Europe has sweltered under punishing heat waves, China and the U.S. are afflicted with drought and parts of Africa face famine. According to the “United in Science” report, “By the 2050s, more than 1.6 billion people living in 97 cities will be regularly exposed to three-month average temperatures reaching at least 35C.” “The terrifying picture painted by the United in Science report is already a lived reality for millions of people facing recurring climate disasters,” Climate Action Network executive director Tasneem Essop told the Guardian. “The science is clear, yet the addiction to fossil fuels by greedy corporations and rich countries is resulting in losses and damages for communities who have done the least to cause the current climate crisis.” Scientists, activists and others are calling on world leaders to commit to redoubling their efforts when they meet for the COP27 climate conference in Egypt in November, especially on funding for those already suffering under climate change impacts. Although cost was never an excuse to ignore or downplay climate change, it’s become clearer that addressing the crisis is an economic winner. Oxford University researchers found shifting from carbon-intensive fuels could save the world $12 trillion U.S. by 2050. And, “United in Science” notes, “Climate-related disasters are causing $200m in economic losses a day.” As volatile gas prices, global conflict and the climate emergency illustrate the precarious position of countries with fossil fuel economies, the costs of renewable energy such as wind and solar continue to drop faster than expected. Acting now is critical and will save lives and money. A better world is possible, but we must come together without delay. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at davidsuzuki.org. The post Climate change, tipping points and economic gain appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Climate Change]

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[l] at 9/21/22 8:26am
Queen Elizabeth II succeeded her father, King George VI, in February of 1952.  A few months later, in September of that year, British authorities in Wales executed an innocent man who had migrated to Britain from what was then the British East African colony of Somaliland.  The man’s name was Mahmood Mattan, and he had been a sailor and worker in a steel foundry in Wales. He had married a white, Welsh woman, Laura Williams, also a factory worker, at a time when interracial marriage was not widely accepted in the UK. The couple faced considerable abuse. A court in South Wales convicted Mattan of murder, in essence, because he was the same race as the person who actually committed the crime, the true killer of shop clerk Lily Volpert.  The onetime sailor was almost helpless to defend himself. He did not speak much English, and his own court-appointed barrister described him as “half child of nature, half semi-civilized savage.” Mahmood Mattan did not have much chance in a British court of 70 years ago. His case – which was dispatched rapidly, with a mere six months between the short trial and the execution – attracted little attention at the time. In a different era, four and a half decades after UK justice had blithely sanctioned the hanging of an innocent man, a British court of appeal overturned Mattan’s conviction and awarded over £700 thousand in compensation to his family. That would be the equivalent of well over $2 million Canadian today.  This year, 2022, five days before Elizabeth II died, the South Wales police finally apologized for their part in this miscarriage of justice. The case of Mahmood Mattan forms alternate bookends to the official story of Elizabeth II’s 70-year term of office. This version is a story not only of selfless, lifelong service. It is also one of racism, colonialism and brutality – and of justice delayed far too long.  Princess Elizabeth at Treetops in Kenya In 1952, only a few erstwhile British colonies had achieved independence.  There were the white countries of course, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa (which was majority black and brown, but with a whites-only government), and, as of the late 1940s, India, Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka.  But the rest of the empire remained under British control. That included Malaysia and Singapore in Asia, plus the many African and Caribbean colonies, home to tens of millions of people. This writer started attending Barclay School, in the immigrant, working-class Montreal neighbourhood of Park Extension, seven months after Elizabeth acceded to the throne. The school was part of Montreal’s Protestant, English-language system.   At the time, maps in our school proudly showed huge swaths of the globe coloured in the red of the British empire. Each day, we pledged allegiance to the Union Jack, the empire, and the Queen, right after we had recited the Lord’s Prayer. A good many of our teachers were enthusiastic royalists and British imperialists. They took special pride in the fact that sailors, soldiers, merchants and missionaries from those tiny isles in the North Atlantic had succeeded in conquering large parts of the world. In October of the first year of Elizabeth II’s reign, Evelyn Baring, Governor of the then-British colony of Kenya, declared a state of emergency. He was responding to the uprising led by the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA), popularly known as the Mau-Mau rebellion. The KLFA’s actions were in response to more than half a century of what amounted to British theft of land Africans had farmed for centuries.   In the late 19th and early 20th centuries British colonial forces seized about 7 million acres of fertile Kenyan land, much of it in what would become known as the “White Highlands,” and handed it over to white settlers. The people they described as “Natives” were then encouraged to become wage labourers. The KLFA fighters wanted to reclaim that land, and were not averse to using force to achieve that end. The British response was more than merely forceful. In the halls of Westminster, there was no talk back then about finding a middle ground, of seeking a peaceful path to Kenyan self-government. British authorities in the East African colony conducted mass arrests and consigned tens of thousands to camps, which one Kenyan jurist later compared to Nazi concentration camps. Early in 1952, when her father died and as the turmoil in Kenya was reaching a boil, then-Princess Elizabeth happened to be in Kenya. She and her husband were at the exclusive Treetops resort, where guests lodge in comfortable cabins built literally in the trees, overlooking the nearby savannah and forest.  Retrospective news features and the partly fictional TV mini-series The Crown depict the new Queen in Kenya in 1952. Very few, however, make mention of the massive uprising happening there. Kenya and most other British African colonies would in due course attain independence, starting with Ghana in 1957 and Nigeria in 1960.  As head of the British Commonwealth, the Queen showed salutary loyalty to those countries that had shed the yoke of colonial rule.  Sanctions on South Africa and royal service in the war against Hitler Elizabeth II even sided with the non-white Commonwealth nations (and Canada’s Brian Mulroney) in 1986, when they voted to impose sanctions on South Africa’s apartheid regime. (In 1961, Canadian PM John Diefenbaker had been the only leader of a “white” country to join the majority in booting South Africa out of the Commonwealth.) At the 1986 Commonwealth conference, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher obstinately opposed any sanctions on the apartheid nation. But Mulroney and the Queen’s staff deftly worked to come up with wording both Thatcher and the rest of the Commonwealth could accept. The British monarch’s interest in this question is one historians will have a field day analyzing.  Was she deeply concerned with human rights – in which case, we can legitimately ask, what took her so long?  Or did Elizabeth II simply want to keep the Commonwealth going as a viable organization?  Did the Queen understand that while the white countries would not leave in solidarity with South Africa, the non-white countries very well might leave, if the organization she headed failed to act against apartheid? Regardless of her motives, the late Queen’s stand on apartheid might have been her finest hour. It is rivaled only by her parents’ and her and her sister’s courage and steadfastness during the frightening days of World War II.  Much of Europe, including France, Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, had fallen to Hitler’s tyranny. Britain – with Canada and the rest of the Commonwealth – stood virtually alone against the Nazis’ thirst for world domination.  In the U.S. before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour late in 1941, there were loud voices wishing Britain ill and predicting its defeat. And Britain itself had its share of defeatists and Nazi sympathizers, including Elizabeth’s uncle David, the former king Edward VIII. The royal family rejected offers to ship them to safety across the Atlantic to this country, Canada. They stayed to face the blitz and anything else the enemy threw at them together with the rest of the people. The then-Princess Elizabeth was only a teenager, but she did her part. Even those of us who believe in candidly telling the whole truth about the horrors of empire and colonialism must recognize that contribution. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 Many Indigenous leaders in Canada have talked in recent days about their special relationship with the British Crown.  They refer to the treaties, all engaged by the government in the name of the Crown, and, especially, to the Royal Proclamation of 1763.  That Proclamation was part of the British government’s effort to consolidate the empire’s gains at the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War with the French.  With the goal of winning the allegiance of Indigenous groups throughout North America, the Royal Proclamation states that settlers may not seize, occupy or exploit so-called native land without treaties freely agreed to by the Indigenous inhabitants or legal purchases of that land.  Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982 affirms the Royal Proclamation and the various treaties with Indigenous groups that followed it.  It would be a mistake, however, to think George III, the king who issued the Proclamation, had any sort of principled commitment to Indigenous rights.  The 18th century king’s main interests, and that of the British government, were geopolitical. They wanted to counter their French rivals, who still had a considerable presence in North America.  Nonetheless, the fact of the treaties and the Royal Proclamation underscores how constitutionally difficult it would be to abolish the monarchy in Canada.  The Canadian constitution (as amended in 1982) states that all ten provinces and the federal government must agree if we are to abolish the monarchy and replace it with another institution. Indigenous assent to such a change would not be a formal requirement, but it would be a de facto and moral one.  So, we are stuck with the monarchy, like it or not, until, perhaps, the British themselves decide to ditch it. (In the UK they could abolish the monarchy with a simple act of parliament.) Why then should we in Canada take this moment to consider the institution of the monarchy in its fuller context? Well, for the last week or so we have been collectively entranced by the enormous ceremonial solemnity involved in bidding adieu to our longest reigning monarch. But even as we do say goodbye, we can also remind ourselves of the deep and ineluctable connections between the Crown and the unvarnished history of – to use the phrase some of us recited each day in school – “the empire for which it stands”. The post Elizabeth II and the true story of the empire for which she stood appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Indigenous, colonialism, Queen Elizabeth II]

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[l] at 9/20/22 12:19pm
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney trowelled it on a bit, perhaps as befits expectations in a provincial capital, but he generally managed a reasonably dignified performance as he said farewell to Queen Elizabeth on the steps of the Alberta Legislature yesterday. At only 600 words almost on the button, if my transcription of his remarks is accurate, it was remarkably concise by Kenney’s usual rambling standards of public speaking. He also managed to keep his typical bombast in check. Perhaps the premier was tired after spending 36 hours sitting on airplanes and standing in lineups to make a very public pilgrimage to London for the Queen’s lying in state.  Most likely the speech was put together by a professional speechwriter. Still, given some of its flourishes, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to learn that this was a eulogy Kenney composed in his head at 14 when he imagined he would be going to London for the Queen’s funeral instead of having to be back in Edmonton before a damp crowd of a couple of hundred souls on the steps of a provincial Legislature. Accepting that the Queen acted with “goodness and dignity” is a sentiment most of us can sign on with under the circumstances, even if many of the rest of Kenney’s remarks seem on close examination to be a little over the top.  Thankfully, the premier managed to remember that memorial orations are best kept short, and he stuck to the script – although he didn’t quite manage to come in under Abraham Lincoln’s famously economical 239 words at Gettysburg.  If the crowds at yesterday’s ceremony in Edmonton didn’t compare with those in London, the monarchy isn’t a big part of most Canadians’ lives any more, except perhaps as a source of salacious gossip. Anyway, Kenney’s government made sure this wasn’t a day off in Alberta and urged employers instead to allow their employees merely a moment of respectful silence at their workstations. The Royal Artillery fired off its guns 96 times to mark each year of the Queen’s life. And the Royal Artillery Band, based in Edmonton, played such funereal favourites as Abide With Me and even a snippet of Vera Lynn’s 1939 hit We’ll Meet Again (don’t know where, don’t know when), which will be familiar to anyone who’s watched the apocalyptic final moments of Dr. Strangelove. Ms. Lynn died in 2020 at 103.  Given the circumstances, we can forgive Kenney for calling the Queen’s 70-year reign “the Elizabethan Era,” even though that one’s already taken.  There was a time some might have disapproved of a quote by the Pope being used to describe the Defender of the Faith, but this is a moment in history both secular and ecumenical. So why not?  It certainly wasn’t as shocking to Canadian Conservative sensibilities and paleoconservative media commentators as, say, a prime minister being caught on camera singing Queen hits on the eve of the Queen’s funeral!  And Kenney did not, to his credit and notwithstanding his religious convictions, call for the Queen to be proclaimed a saint – as someone actually did in the pages of the Globe and Mail yesterday!  As for his use of the phrase “Our Sovereign Lady the Queen,” one instinctively feels it should be followed by the words, “and the accused at bar.”  But Kenney was quite right to note that in Alberta the Queen will long be remembered in schools, in roadways, in mountains, and “in the newly renamed Queen Elizabeth the Second Building behind us” – as was predicted by the political blogger Dave Cournoyer two days before the government’s announcement that the provincially owned Federal Building would be at last be given a less confusing name. Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani, Speaker Nathan Cooper, and NDP MLA Nicole Goehring, the previous government’s military liaison, also delivered short remarks.  The post Small Edmonton crowd says farewell to Queen Elizabeth II appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics, Jason Kenney, Queen Elizabeth II]

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[l] at 9/20/22 8:17am
“In queue for Queen, Premier Kenney signs order banning remote work option for civil servants.” In fact, there was nothing for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to sign. Alberta’s civil servants were ordered back to their offices months ago, on April 4.  But that little social media quip Friday by University of Alberta political scientist Jared Wesley was so on brand for Alberta’s premier – who at the time was ostentatiously tweeting away while waiting in line to pay his respects to Queen Elizabeth as she lay in state at the Palace of Westminster in London – that plenty of folks swallowed it hook, line and sinker.  This was probably the tweet from Kenney that inspired Wesley’s sly sense of humour: “N.B.” (the premier meant nota bene, folks, not New Brunswick) “I’m doing briefings & work calls from the queue, and will be back in Edmonton on Monday for Alberta’s memorial service for our late Queen… .” Well, presumably that raises the question of who’s paying for Kenney’s cellular calls, if not for the trip, which the premier stated in an adjacent tweet was “entirely at personal expense.”  Apparently having seen the same tweet, former Progressive Conservative deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk sarcastically warned Kenney, “Watch that cell phone bill”! Alert readers will recall that Lukaszuk was excoriated by his political enemies in 2014 for running up a $20,000 cellular telephone bill after being asked by the office of premier Alison Redford to deal with a distraught cabinet member while the deputy premier was on vacation in Poland (also entirely at personal expense). A summary of the “tawdry” circumstances that led to the leak of Lukaszuk’s phone bill by someone in Redford’s office was provided by Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid back in 2016. Presumably since then someone in the Premier’s Office has thought to purchase a roaming plan for for roaming officials’ phones. Now look, I’m not going to criticize the premier if he’d always promised himself he’d be on hand for Her Majesty’s death. “I don’t apologize for having been an avid monarchist my whole life and admirer of the Queen,” Kenney told the Calgary Herald. “I thought it was especially important in my role to represent Alberta, at pure personal expense, and it’s just a very quick 36-hour trip, but for me, it was just necessary. I mean, this is a woman who gave her life in service, in part to Canada. And the least I can do is stand in a queue for 15 hours to say thank you.” The Herald’s reporter went on to explain: “He said when he was 14, he woke up in the early hours of the morning during a trip to Victoria to make sure he had a spot to see the Queen and Prince Philip. After that, he had promised himself he would be in attendance for the Queen’s funeral.” (Emphasis added.) Verily, dear readers, I cut and pasted that right out of the Calgary Herald. I didn’t make up a word!  I have to tell you, though, that from my perspective, and apparently that of many others, this seems more than a little weird.  But then, given his many obsessions and hobbyhorses, Alberta’s soon-to-depart premier can be fairly described as a weirdo almost on a par with William Lyon Mackenzie King. And, anyway, the guy’s about to be put out to pasture by his own party, so why the heck wouldn’t he just take a couple of days off?  Indeed, if it’d been me in his shoes – which I hope for Kenney’s sake were more comfortable than that suit he was wearing looked – I’d have taken a couple of extra days to sample the bright spots of the former imperial capital and maybe buy a cheerful necktie or two on Carnaby Street, if indeed that place is still a going concern. Had Kenney taken such a side trip, perhaps he could also have purchased some colourful socks to counter his reputation as a pedantic bore. You know, like the blue and black stripey ones Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore to his tête-à-tête with the new king. It must have royally griped Kenney to learn that while he had to wait in line for 14 or 15 hours without a government of Alberta flunky to hold his bag and carry his water, the prime minister got to slip into the line through the foreign-dignitaries side-door and meet King Charles. But that’s what happens when you’re a lame duck premier, without a home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone. It’s not explained how Kenney sustained or relieved himself during those interminable hours as he inched along the chilly Thames Embankment, nor do I think we Albertans really require that information unless there was some cost to the taxpayer.  Speaking personally, I would like to know if the mystery man with the shoulder bag and pony tail recorded by the BBC in the lineup immediately behind the premier was just a random mourner or someone working with the premier in some capacity.  At the very least, though, now that such revelations are an established practice, surely we are entitled to the grand total of Kenney’s phone bill and any other incidental expenses of state whilst he sojourned in London. The post Kenney tweets ostentatiously while waiting to pay respects to Queen appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics, Jason Kenney, Queen Elizabeth II]

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[l] at 9/20/22 7:46am
This feature was a collaborative project between The Green Line, The Hoser and rabble.ca. Please RSVP to attend our labour trivia night and Story Circle, here. The plant with many names is a medicine, a recreational drug and an investment opportunity. It’s also an agricultural product that needs growers, transporters, sellers and warehouse workers. But unlike, say, the auto, construction and textiles industries, cannabis isn’t synonymous with labour.  That’s changing post-legalization, though, as the cannabis industry is illuminating the movement of capital and labour in ways that are harder to see with established industries. Not only does it impact legal and illegal economies at all levels, from neighbourhood to national, cannabis touches on issues of Indigenous sovereignty, the gig economy and financialization.  But at the end of the day, it’s really all about labour.  Cannabis is a Labour Issue Dan Darrah, a Toronto-based journalist whose work often explores cannabis and labour issues, says labour publications generally haven’t paid attention to the cannabis industry, and that cannabis publications have been focused on topics other than labour.  “I think a lot of attention is paid to the high-level industry turbulence, mostly in the corporate sector, which doesn’t surprise me. It’s wild stuff — in a short period of time, we’ve witnessed a speed-run of casino capitalism, buoyed by breathtaking investor optimism and big-promising CEOs,” Darrah, 28, explains.  Meanwhile, he says industry workers are overlooked. The current financialized cannabis industry makes it difficult for what industry folks call the “legacy market” to exist. It’s a market made up of small, independent shops still operating outside the law in the grey economy, including the highly successful Indigenous cannabis market.  As a result, Darrah says, weed workers have suffered layoffs, as greenhouses and retail stores shuttered their doors. They’ve also been thrust into new workplaces with inexperienced management or shopfloors that fail to meet basic health and safety requirements. “These are some of the stories I’ve heard from workers I’ve spoken to. Some good journalism has shed light on these struggles, but I think most media likes to focus on the Succession-style developments,” he adds.  Hot Box fully masked employee Paula stands behind register greeting customers ready to purchase for a quick sale. Photo credit: Christian Pena. What’s more, agricultural workers are excluded from the Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA); this includes cannabis production workers, as the plant is considered an agricultural product even though it’s grown in indoor facilities that resemble factories and labs.  Kat Quinn, a labour organizer with United Weed Workers and a former budtender, believes that failing to consider the people behind the product ultimately harms both.  “I don’t think people think where their grow comes from is the territory of labour. When you devalue the work people do, you devalue the product,” she explains. “People want [their weed] not to have mould, but you also want the person who grew it to be paid a fair wage, not be exposed to toxic chemicals and have generally good working conditions.” Up In Smoke Cannabis customer sitting outside of HotBox Kensington Market Cannabis Lounge location. Photo credit: Christian Pena. Credit: Christian Pena In my neighbourhood of Kensington Market, long-time cannabis lounges like Roach-O-Rama and HotBox long defied the law by openly allowing cannabis-smoking inside. Not only did these places enable customers to buy cannabis, they also allowed them to smoke if they bought a certain amount of munchies or milkshakes per hour. Then in the pre-legalization period before 2018, there were quasi-legal stores visibly operating everywhere in Toronto, outbidding other types of storefronts for locations. So, they were vulnerable to raids by both the Toronto Police Service and organized crime. Local budtenders tell me they took major risks to work in a grey-economy area, but did so because they were getting opportunities in an emerging industry and also felt connected to a broader social justice movement. The legalization process led to a proliferation of the provincially owned Ontario Cannabis Store (OSC) shops in Kensington Market, but also controversy.  Former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino — who once compared legalizing weed to legalizing murder — was the chairman of Aleafia Health Inc. in 2018 when it acquired a 9.9 per cent interest in One Plant Cannabis Dispensary, a prominent cannabis company that currently has 30 locations across Ontario. One Plant’s Kensington Market location on Augusta Avenue replaced a longtime grocery store that was a community institution and a connection to Kensington’s history as a predominantly Jewish area. Fantino is no longer involved with One Plant as of 2020, but many locals in the neighbourhood still refer to it as the “cop shop.”  Sam Eric, a 32-year-old community organizer in Kensington Market and self-described “longtime pothead,” says those who operated in the legacy market are being punished while establishment figures like traditional capitalists profit. “Who is going to be allowed into the legal market? Indigenous folks? People with criminal records for dealing or smoking weed? You have Fantino opening a pot shop — what everyone in the neighbourhood calls a cop shop,” he says. “They say he pulled back financially after the neighbourhood outcry in Kensington, but now you have them flying an Indigenous flag and having Black artists and pretending to be woke. But everyone knows.” Eric adds that the sovereign, Indigenous-owned Mississauga of the Credit Medicine Wheel at College and Spadina is one ethical weed option in the neighbourhood, along with 1tonamara near Spadina and Queen, Roach-O-Rama close to Dundas and Spadina, as well as some low-key, legacy Black-owned shops. Roach-O-Rama is now an OSC shop, but remains historically important in the legalization battle, and is still fighting for pot lounges.  “Everyone’s seen what’s unfolded in the war on poverty via the war on drugs; it goes back decades with racist undertones and exploitation of working people. The beneficiaries [of legalization] have been straight-edge business people without criminal records,” Eric explains. “In 2018, labour unions and politicians were trying to get a piece of the pie, but where is the restitution? In some U.S. states, they did it better. But here, its just better for capital.” The spectre of big business and consolidation hangs over the cannabis industry in other ways. Value Buds is a major player trying to muscle in on Ontario’s cannabis market. It’s owned by Alcanna Inc., the major beneficiary of the privatization of Alberta’s provincial liquor system, which led to a massive loss of union jobs in that province, according to Eric. He adds that opportunities to unionize the cannabis industry at the start of legalization were lost due to union infighting.Eric, who also works for the provincially owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and is unionized with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 5110, says he was there during the infighting between OPSEU and Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union. He says that both unions, run by their then-leaders Warren (Smokey) Thomas and Jerry Dias, respectively, went head-to-head over the rights to unionize the cannabis industry. There was some serious discussion of possibly selling cannabis in LCBO stores. But the infighting was never resolved pre-legalization, which contributed to the failure to create a unionized industry, according to Eric. Progressive Conservative (PC) Party leader and now Ontario Premier Doug Fords subsequent supervision of the Ontario legalization process was also a major contributing factor. In 2017, OPSEU “got a letter in our collective agreement under [former Ontario Liberal Party leader and premier] Kathleen Wynne that [said] if the government rolled out a legalization scheme, it will be unionized under OPSEU,” Eric says, adding that Unifor also had cannabis-unionization plans. It seemed kind of like [both unions] were trying to get in on this cash cow, and it seemed like they were really cheering on the OCS for cracking down and shutting down people’s small independent shops.” Eric recalls speaking at an LCBO worker’s union meeting, and pointing out that liquor store workers were facing their own serious problems, including the casualization of labour — with 70 to 80 per cent of their workers classified as “casual relief” — while union leaders were chasing the cannabis market. He adds that OCS warehouses did ultimately unionize with OPSEU. Unions have been “fumbling” since the legalization process started, according to Eric who emphasizes the need for a rank-and-file strategy where “scrappy little outfits” are supported by big labour. “Unions need to understand that it’s not about immediate returns; you aren’t going to see fast returns in terms of dues payment or shops unionized. Labour unions have to be in for the long haul,” he explains. Scrappy Little Outfits United Weed Workers (UWW) is that scrappy little outfit. I first encountered UWW on Instagram, which is fitting for a young, grassroots campaign that uses a combination of on-the-ground engagement, social media and old-school telephone hotlines to organize weed workers. They mostly operate in retail, but some are in growing and trimming.  Kat Quinn and Alex Pollard of United Weed Workers, photographed at a Hamilton skate halfpipe and punk hangout spot. Their budtenders unionization campaigns combine Instagram savvy with old school organizing. Photo credit: Christian Pena Credit: Christian Pena UWW is an independent team, but its also been working closely with unions such as United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) to organize shops. UWW started out of the organizing momentum that emerged from the first unionized weed shop, Canna Cabana on Barton Street in Hamilton (UFCW 175), in December 2020. Founders Alex Pollard met Kat Quinn, who had been part of a unionization drive at Tokyo Smoke, and together they formed UWW.  According to UWW’s ongoing survey of weed workers, over 80 per cent of respondents said they were not earning a living wage or being fairly compensated for their time and labour, and that there are serious issues with break times, vacation, scheduling, wage theft, and paid and unpaid sick days. Beyond these issues, Pollard, 34, says, “We’ve seen every type of discrimination you can imagine.” Other problems cited in the survey include anti-trans discrimination, racism, pregnant workers getting fired, and businesses trying to enforce non-compete clauses for retail workers who make near minimum wage, telling them they can’t work at other retail shops in the area.  “As the industry goes from legacy — what some people call the grey or black market — to legal, a lot of people don’t know that they have rights at work. We tell them you do get a break after 10 hours. You are allowed to ask for a chair to sit down at work,” Pollard says, adding that the shop she worked at had no fire extinguisher. “There are a lot of young workers, and the industry preys on people who don’t know any better.” “The young generation is equal parts riled up and also terrified because the stakes have never been higher.” The UWW model involves a small grassroots campaign working with a big union like the UFCW to consolidate gains. Currently, there are nine open union drives in Ontario connected to UWW’S grassroots campaigns that are in different stages of the unionization process with UCFW. For example, four Tokyo Smoke shops are unionized, but don’t have contracts yet. This approach is similar to the one used by Foodsters United, which later became Gig Workers United. Smaller unions can be nimble and responsive to new industries in ways that can help larger trade unions. Meanwhile, consolidating the gains of shop-floor worker power through a recognized union with lawyers is helpful for small shops with high turnover that might not be able to sustain grassroots enthusiasm. “We are so grassroots, the goal is to grow into a larger strategy. There is a shared struggle,” Quinn, 33, explains. From 2004 to the early 2010s, for example, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)-led grassroots campaigns for the unionization of Starbucks workers in North America were not able to sustain momentum or keep stores unionized. There were many factors that contributed to this — including union-busting — but the grassroots-only, no-contract strategy made it difficult to support workers over the long haul. Recently, a new wave of Starbucks unionization with Workers United has been making progress unionizing stores under a different model in the U.S.. Similarly, Starbucks stores in Canada are organizing with help from United Steelworkers. Cannabis Is Agriculture A pair of young recent immigrant mexican students (Anonymous) shopping at HotBox. Photo credit: Christian Pena. Labour rights are even more precarious for migrant workers in the cannabis industry.Like other agricultural products, cannabis farming is heavily dependent on the exploitation of migrant workers. In most Canadian provinces, agricultural workers are forbidden to organize in unions — a state of affairs that has been condemned by the International Labour Organization. For migrant workers, this situation is exacerbated by having insecure immigration status and closed work permits that tie them to specific employers. Many of these workers come from foreign countries, accounting for 18 per cent of Canadas agricultural workforce. Nearly 46 per cent of all temporary migrant farmworkers in Canada were working in Ontario in 2020.  “Dozens of cannabis farms have been raided, and migrant farmworkers in them have lost their jobs. Their housing has been taken away, and many are left without permits despite coming to work in Canada through so-called legal methods, says Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “Whether its chicken-catching or cherries or cannabis, bad employers will exploit them as long as the federal government denies them permanent resident status.” Because migrant workers are often tied to employment contracts, they’re prevented from switching to other employers or advocating for themselves, according to Hussan. He adds that these workers can be deported after farms are raided by authorities.  Santiago Escobar, a national representative for UFCW, says these issues are further compounded because some cannabis operations exist outside of legal frameworks. Indeed, some migrant workers are told they’re employed by legal farms, only to later find the farms raided.  Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW), a volunteer-run collective, has been working with Canadian and migrant workers in southwestern Ontario who were fired without termination pay when the cannabis facility PharmHouse closed. J4MW says it helped get termination pay for these workers, and in the process, documented many other labour rights issues at the facility. For example, workers were exposed to UV lights, which can cause medical problems for humans, but are not well-regulated under existing worker safety legislation. Also, workers were illegally deducted wages for substandard housing in congregate bunk houses, which allowed for COVID-19 outbreaks.“The cannabis industry is simply a get-rich scheme whose massive profits are being generated off the blood, sweat and sacrifices of Black and brown labour. Wealth isn’t being generated by any ingenuity — it’s simply theft,” says Chris Ramsaroop, 48, a University of Toronto professor and an organizer with J4MW who’s spent the last 21 years organizing with migrant agricultural workers. “To tell us that CEOs such as [Tilray CEO] Irwin Simon can earn a cash bonus of $13.2 million [USD] in 2021 while cannabis greenhouse workers earn minimum wage is obscene and heinous.” The Indigenous Market Beyond the legacy and legal markets, there’s also the Indigenous cannabis market. Sovereignty cannabis represents the lion’s share of the Indigenous market, as reserves are home to many cannabis shops and grow operations. But the market’s position outside of the official system makes it difficult to quantify.  Indigenous growers and sellers were the first to have storefronts in Ontario, and to market and sell weed openly. But they say they were left out of the legalization process, and that they’re now facing opposition from the government, as well as competition from well-funded companies. Although some Indigenous cannabis brands are reaching the legal OCS market, many of these operations run on a sovereignty basis.  Kanenhariyo (whose English name is Seth LeFort), a Tyendinaga Mohawk and entrepreneur who frequently comments publicly on the Indigenous cannabis industry, says the cannabis legalization process was deeply flawed. “OCS is directly competing with [the] Indigenous cannabis industry without [the] consent of Indigenous people on our own lands that Ontario doesn’t have a right to,” he says, adding that the provincial government’s refusal to include Indigenous cannabis enterprises in the process amounted to dispossession. Indigenous cannabis entrepreneurs were not consulted or invited to take part in Ontario’s legalization process, which first granted licences under a lottery system with no provision for existing Indigenous enterprises. Even today, according to Kanenhariyo, many of these entrepreneurs have a difficult time opening bank accounts and getting loans, often experiencing trouble with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). “None of us can open business accounts. Many, if not most of us, have been red-flagged, and can’t even open unrelated bank accounts, making it impossible to operate delivery services,” he explains. “Basically, treating us as criminals but without charging us out of fear they will lose the precedents [if this issue actually goes to court].” Indigenous people are disproportionately criminalized for cannabis-related drug offences in Canada, according to a 2021 study titled “Race, cannabis and the Canadian war on drugs: An examination of cannabis arrest data by race in five cities.” In the study, authors Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Alex Luscombe reveal that there are “clear disparities” in cannabis possession arrests by race across Canada. Looking at Ottawa, the only Ontario city analyzed, Indigenous people were arrested at a rate of 20.8 per 10,000 in 2015, whereas white people were arrested at a rate of 5.4 per 10,000. Indigenous people were also overrepresented in arrests compared to their representation in the general population (disproportionality score of 2.7), whereas white people were underrepresented (disproportionality score of 0.7).  What’s more, unlike in some U.S. states, Canada’s approach to legalization makes no provision for mass pardon of cannabis offenders who continue to carry criminal records and in many cases are forbidden from working in the legal industry. Cannabis legalization in California, New York, Washington state and other jurisdictions includes specific provisions for erasing the criminal records of people with minor cannabis convictions, as well as for social equity cannabis licences for Black and Latinx cannabis entrepreneurs. Although Indigenous people paid a heavy price for working in the cannabis industry pre-legalization, they aren’t reaping the benefits of the current legal market. Indeed, a 2020 report from the University of Toronto’s Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation found that only 2 per cent of cannabis industry leaders are Indigenous. Meanwhile, it adds, 84 per cent of leaders are white.  Sovereignty Cannabis To much of settler society, Indigenous cannabis looks like crime or a grey economy. Embracing the perspectives that land theft is criminal, cannabis is medicine and Indigenous people have the right to operate outside of our colonial legal system, is to challenge the foundations of Canadian society.  Sovereignty cannabis shops have popped up like mushrooms on reserves across Canada, especially those in proximity to settler-dominant cities. Due to high demand, these shops provide employment and income to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers across Ontario, increasingly including sovereignty stores in urban centres.  Rose, a clerk at the Big Greens convenience store in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on Highway 49, east of Belleville, has lived on the reserve for a decade. She says her job ensures she can care for her family. “Many people come here with every kind of pain or problem. [I love it] when I can recommend something to someone with cancer treatment, and they come back and ask for it again,” says Rose, who declined to provide her last name due to concerns over her work in the grey economy.  The first sovereignty cannabis shops in Canada opened in Tyendinaga. Decades ago, it was also the first to sell sovereignty gasoline and sovereignty tobacco, economic projects that were imitated in reserves across Canada. Customers point of view checking out a variety of various HotBox products in glass case. Photo credit: Christian Pena. Many Indigenous cannabis entrepreneurs tell me they have the sovereign right to cannabis operations on their lands. Similar arguments were made about tobacco, an Indigenous agricultural innovation that has important ceremonial uses, because the Canadian tobacco market is effectively an oligopoly between Imperial Tobacco Canada, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, and JTI-MacDonald. They say the Indigenous tobacco industry was squeezed out and criminalized in Canada, despite extensive operations involving agricultural growing, factories on reserves, tobacco shops and distribution networks.  For its part, Tyendinaga is Mohawk territory, which belongs to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (also known as Six Nations); it comprises six members of a confederacy of Indigenous nations: Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Tuscarora and Mohawk. The confederacy was established between roughly 350 to 600 years ago, predating Canada’s founding in 1867. Indeed, when the Haudenosaunee applied to the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, it had more qualifications as an independent nation than Canada did. What’s more, Great Britain, France and Canada previously signed now-broken treaties stating that the Haudenosaunee are an independent nation and have rights to their own land. They include The Great Peace of Montreal,” “Nafan Treaty,” “Two Row Wampum,” Silver Covenant Chain Treaties,” “Treaty of Albany 1701” and the “Haldimand Tract.” Kanenhariyo, the Tyendinaga Mohawk and public advocate for the Indigenous cannabis industry, says he’s concerned about the industry’s long-term sustainability under steep competition from OCS stores and corporations with access to financial capital. “Ontario weed stores are putting us out of business, along with the government-licensed growers,” he explains, predicting that there will be less than 5 per cent of Indigenous shops still open on reserve within the next year.“The deeply flawed legalization process trampled on the already existing Indigenous pot industry, [which was] not invited to the table to help shape the legalization process despite having built the market for the project, and Ontario being Indigenous land both by traditional territory and much of it by treaties that have been ignored and occupied.” Pipe Dreams Assorted Glass coloured hand pipes in a HotBox display window. Photo credit: Christian Pena. The third and final Trailer Park Boys movie in 2014 featured beloved protagonist Ricky giving the title speech “Don’t Legalize it” in front of Canada’s Parliament Buildings. He argued against cannabis legalization because of all the hardworking small-time dealers that would be put out of business. But jokes aside, they did legalize it — and since then, we’ve been seeing cannabis culture change beyond recognition in the form of waves of new businesses altering the face of our communities. First was the grey economy popping up and being shut down. Then came the plethora of small, independent legal stories. And now, market consolidation by big corporate players. For example, my neighbourhood of Kensington Market in many ways made its reputation on the counterculture embodied by weed. But it now struggles with the effects of gentrification, as cannabis shops proliferate, and both commercial and residential rents skyrocket.  We can trace the cannabis commodity chain from the agricultural workers who grow and trim the product, to the budtenders who make low wages at dispensaries, to the Indigenous cannabis industry that’s witnessing yet another economic opportunity closed off by legislation. We witness the failure of the institutional labour movement to organize the cannabis industry from the get-go, as well as scrappy little outfits unionizing at the grassroots level, worker by worker. Cannabis has become yet another commodity. But we shouldn’t forget that it is made by human labour — and labour has power. The post Sovereignty, labour, and the push for a better cannabis industry appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Human Rights, Indigenous, Labour, cannabis, Indigenous Sovereignty, marijuana, United Weed Workers]

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[l] at 9/19/22 4:00am
On Monday, September 19, Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest at St. Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle.  The Government of Canada has declared this day as a national day of mourning. In Ottawa, a memorial parade featuring the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP will take place, as well as a commemorative ceremony.  Some Canadians, however, do not feel like mourning.   For all of the grace, strength and ‘unswerving devotion’ she committed to her country, Queen Elizabeth II also served as the face of colonialism in many places of the world – and Canada is not exempt from this.  Ahead of her funeral and the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, rabble would like to share a few resources for ways to support Indigenous Peoples on this day and beyond.  Western Canada Indian Residential School Survivors Society is a provincial organization with a 20-year history of providing services to Indian Residential School Survivors. Led by an elected board of directors from six regions of B.C. who are survivors or intergenerational survivors of residential schools. “IRSSS provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas. These impacts affect every family and every community across B.C. and Canada. This fact is most evident in the Corrections Canada Services-the numbers of First Nations people incarcerated, Child and Family Services child apprehensions, the high number of people on social assistance, unemployment and underemployed, lower levels of education, the lowest number within an ethnic minority of “determinants of health”, the list of impacts is extremely high while the services available to effectively assist impacts of Residential Schools remain quite low.” – irsss.ca The Native Women’s Association of Canada is a national organization representing Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people in Canada.  “NWAC engages in national and international advocacy aimed at legislative and policy reforms to promote equality for Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, gender diverse, and LGBTQQAI+ people. Through advocacy, policy, and legislative analysis, NWAC works to preserve Indigenous culture and advance the wellbeing of all Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people, as well as their families and communities.” nwac.ca Helping Spirit Lodge Society is a not-for-profit transition house in Greater Vancouver which has assisted more than 5,000 women and children since May 1991.  “The organization’s work is shaped by the belief that it is the Indigenous people who must set the agenda in providing solutions to problems that adversely affect them and their traditionally proud cultural inheritance.” – hsls.ca  Northern Territories True North Aid is a registered charity serving and supporting northern Indigenous communities in Canada through “practical humanitarian support.”  “With significant barriers in accessing goods and services in remote communities, as well as striking levels of inequality in health and wellness outcomes, income, food, and housing, there is much work to be done. The issues facing Indigenous communities in Canada are complex and the result of a culmination of events and actions that have transpired over the past 150 years. True North Aid believes that the right to self-governance and self-determination is key to addressing these inequalities and closing the poverty gap.” truenorthaid.ca Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is an organization dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Inuit through research, representation, policy governance, public education, and unifying Inuit across Canada.  “Our work includes research, advocacy, public outreach and education on the issues affecting our population. We work closely with the four Inuit regions to present unified priorities in Ottawa … We are governed by leaders of Inuit rights-holding land claims organizations. We advocate for Inuit rights and interests through our relationship with the Crown.” Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Central Canada The Legacy of Hope Foundation is an Indigenous-led organization which works to educate Canadians about the history and generational impacts of residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, and raising awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.  “The LHF works to encourage people to address racism and discrimination so as to contribute to the equality, dignity, and just relationships among all. We will continue to work with teachers, school boards, universities, policing agencies, governments, officials, banks, unions, private businesses, and citizens to help meet these goals. The LHF offers a unique and comprehensive collection of resources, exhibitions, workshops, and research reports to anyone wanting to learn about Indigenous Peoples and willing to work toward Reconciliation. We believe true Reconciliation requires consistent, positive, and informed effort and action by everyone.”  legacyofhope.ca First Nations Child and Family Caring Society is an organization dedicated to providing education and research to promote the wellbeing of First Nations children, families and communities.  “The Caring Society stands with First Nations children, youth and families so they have equitable opportunities to grow up safely at home, be healthy, get a good education and be proud of who they are.” fncaringsociety.com The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto is a charitable organization based in Toronto originally founded in 1962. The goal of the organization is to empower the Indigenous population of the city and surrounding areas by providing programs that support spiritual, emotional, physical and mental well-being. “For over 50 years, the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto has been a leader in the building of a healthy and vibrant urban Indigenous community in Toronto. Serving over 2,000 clients a year, we tirelessly work to provide culturally centred services and programs to increase the economic, social, cultural and health outcomes of our people.” – ncct.on.ca The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund is a registered charity dedicated to improving lives of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. In collaboration with the Wenjack Family, the goal of the charity is to educate the public about residential schools and Chanie Wenjack’s story.  “Inspired by Chanie’s story and Gord’s call to build a better Canada, the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund aims to build cultural understanding and create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Our goal is to improve the lives of Indigenous people by building awareness, education, and connections between all peoples in Canada.” – downiewenjack.ca The Prairies  The Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources was established in 1995 by 10 First Nation Chiefs from across Canada as Canada’s first Indigenous-directed environmental non-profit charitable organization.  “CIER supports Indigenous people and communities to be leaders of positive environmental change, using the best of Western and Indigenous knowledge to create a world that is in balance and supports the well-being of all living things.” yourcier.org Red River Echoes is a grassroots collective of Métis/Michif peoples dedicated to landback and reclaiming sovereignty, culture, and kinships in Winnipeg.  “We are young MMF citizens, Local executives, language learners, university graduates, students, parents, educators, academics, artists, health care workers, public servants, lawyers, and grassroots activists and organizers dedicated to standing with our Indigenous relatives and ensuring democracy in the Métis Nation.” Red River Echoes homepage.  Bear Clan Patrol is a group of volunteers who operate out of Winnipeg, acting as a guard system for Indigenous Peoples in the area.  “Given that the Aboriginal population in Winnipeg is anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000, and is heavily concentrated in certain inner city neighborhoods, it was felt that the community must organize to keep the peace and to assist community members. The concept behind the patrol, then, is community people working with the community to provide personal security in the inner city in a non-threatening, non-violent and supportive way.” – bearclanpatrol.org  Atlantic Provinces  The Aboriginal Women’s Association of Prince Edward Island is a non-profit, representative organization, which aims at supporting, educating, and empowering the well-being of Indigenous women through programs and opportunities.  “AWAPEI supports women and girls who identify as First Nation, Metis, and Inuit residing on Prince Edward Island. We are committed to providing leadership and guidance in cultural, social, economic, and political aspects … Despite historical and ongoing colonial and patriarchal attempts to control or eliminate women’s leadership it has become very clear how important it is to enhance and to educate Aboriginal Women in terms of; health, wellness, healing and violence prevention.” – awapei.org First Light St. John Friendship Centre is a non-profit organization which provides programs and social support services for the St. John Indigenous communities.  “First Light is a registered non-profit organization that serves the urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous community alike by providing programs and services rooted in the revitalization, strengthening and celebration of Indigenous cultures and languages in the spirit of trust, respect, and friendship.” – firstlightnl.ca Other resources ahead of National Day of Truth and Reconciliation The Indian Residential School Survivor Society maintains a hotline for residential school survivors who are in crisis. The 24-hour a day crisis line can be reached at 1-800-721-0066. Individuals impacted by the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls can contact the MMIWG Crisis Line toll-free at 1-844-413-6649. First Nations, Inuit and Métis seeking immediate emotional support can contact the Hope for Wellness Help Line toll-free at 1-855-242-3310, or by online chat at hopeforwellness.ca. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation offers teaching resources from the University of Manitoba here.  The post How to support Indigenous Peoples in Canada this September appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Indigenous, Indigenous rights, national day of mourning, Queen Elizabeth II]

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[l] at 9/17/22 11:14am
Pierre Poilievre’s debut news conference as official Opposition leader didn’t go smoothly but at least he found his real enemy. That enemy is not inflation, or the national debt, or young people getting squeezed out of the housing market, or the cost of groceries. Those things he can blame on Justin Trudeau because he’s the prime minister and Poilievre isn’t. That’s politics. The bigger enemy out there—the one he’s calling on all freedom loving Canadians to help him conquer—is reporters asking questions. And that leads us down a very dangerous road. Poilievre last Tuesday invited reporters to be stenographers as he bashed Trudeau over Canada’s high inflation rate. There was only one condition—that he would not answer any questions. As Poilievre was beginning his statement, Global chief political correspondent David Akin interrupted him several times, asking if he’d take questions and asking some — like if Poilievre was still planning on firing the governor of the Bank of Canada. “We have a Liberal heckler who snuck in here today,” Poilievre said mockingly, because of course he knows very well who Akin is. Akin, who has built a solid reputation as a tough but fair reporter, evidently chose to speak up because he objects to politicians, like Poilievre, who want a free ride to use the media for their own purposes. But no other reporters joined his protest and Akin, after being trolled on Twitter for his rudeness, realized he’d gone too far. His apology said: “Many (of you) said I was rude and disrespectful. I agree. I’m sorry for that. We all want politicians to answer questions—but there are better ways of making that point.” That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t. Poilievre sent out an email to his followers that attacked Akin personally and said his Conservatives are not fighting against just the Liberals but against the media as well. “It’s the media, who are no longer interested in even pretending to be unbiased. They want us to lose,” his email said. Poilievre urged supporters to donate money to “go around the biased media. We can’t count on the media to communicate our messages to Canadians. We have to go around them and their biased coverage. We need to do it directly with ads, mail, phone calls and knocking on millions of doors. And to do all that we need your help.” A big red button linked to the Conservative website’s donation page. We’ve seen this script before. Donald Trump took aim at the media throughout his presidency, calling journalists “the enemies of the people” and branding critical stories as “fake news.” That resulted in an erosion of trust in the U.S. media and a proliferation of conspiracy theories that ran unchecked on right-wing networks like Fox News. It also enabled Trump to carry off the Big Lie that he actually won the 2020 election, even though the facts said otherwise. Its too easy to say this phenomenon is unique to the United States. In Canada, a recent public opinion poll by Abacus Data showed that 44 percent of Canadians—or 13 million of us—believe in conspiracy theories such as “big events like wars, recessions and the outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people working in secret against us.” More than one-third of Canadian adults, or 11 million, believe that there are powers trying to replace native born Canadians with immigrants—the so-called “Great Replacement theory.” The poll, done during the Conservative leadership contest, said that supporters of Poilievre are more likely to believe these things than supporters of other candidates. In other words, that’s his base. And it’s not the first time he has tried to turn the public against the news media and their professional obligations of fairness and verification. In July, Global reporter Rachel Gilmore drew his wrath when she sent out a Twitter message containing questions she had posed to Poilievre and that he refused to answer, and even called her “unprofessional” for sharing them. “Canadians trust in the news media has reached an all-time low,” the Poilievre campaign said in a public message to Global News. “And when we look at your coverage of these issues, its easy to understand why. Instead of just covering news, unprofessional journalists like you try to set disingenuous traps to attack your opponents. Since you insist on demonizing Canadians who dare to speak up against the Trudeau government, we can only assume that Global News is content to be a Liberal mouthpiece. Some of Gilmore’s questions were in the public interest and had to do with Poilievre’s support of James Topp, a Canadian Forces warrant officer who’s facing court martial for leading a protest march while in uniform against Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Same with the questions that Poilievre was trying to duck when he called his press conference last week to respond to Justin Trudeau’s announcement that doubled the GST tax credit for six months and offered $500 for 1.8 million Canadian renters with low incomes Akin’s interruptions at least persuaded Poilievre to relent and answer two questions. One reporter asked him why the federal government couldn’t use tax dollars to help struggling Canadians—a perfectly good journalistic question to respond to Poilievre’s criticism.  Poilievre said the problem is the top-up won’t be enough to help cover inflation. “In many of our big cities, per month, that money will go up in smoke for the average family,” he said. “What we need are more apartments for people to live in, more houses for them to buy and lower taxes so that their paycheques go further. That is what Conservatives are fighting for.” Someone might also have asked him if he gives the government any credit for the easing of Canada’s annual inflationary rate, now 7.6 per cent after peaking at 8.1 percent in June. Prices have been slowly trending downward since the Bank of Canada began raising interest rates in March. Although I agree that Akin’s protest was ill-advised and may have played into Poilievre’s hands, I believe that politicians need to be held accountable by journalists. The only question is how best to do that. Whenever a politician fails to answer a question that is in the public interest, that to me is news that should be reported. Whenever a politician gives an evasive answer or resorts to a talking point to sidestep an important question, that to me should be on the record, including the exact question he or she wouldn’t answer. Whenever a political leader shuts down any scrutiny at all, as Poilievre did, journalists should refuse to show up. And if Twitter and the front page are documenting all the questions politicians are afraid to answer, readers might demand change. They might demand real answers.  These, to me, would be better journalistic tactics than rudeness.   The post Dont fall for Poilievres war on the media appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, journalism, Pierre Poilievre]

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[l] at 9/16/22 11:53am
The Green Party of Canada is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, but the future of Canada’s fifth-largest party is uncertain as they continue to search for new leadership. In the 2021 federal election, the Greens failed to run a candidate in every district and ultimately got fewer votes than the People’s Party of Canada (PPC). Unlike the PPC however, the Greens were able to secure two seats in the House of Commons. Then-leader Annamie Paul, the first Black and Jewish person to lead a major political party in Canada, finished in fourth in her race in Toronto Centre, receiving less than 10 per cent of the vote and subsequently resigned as leader, calling her year in the position “the worst period in my life.” In November, Amita Kuttner became the Green Party’s interim leader, making history as the youngest, first trans person, and first person of east Asian descent to lead a national political party in Canada. Kuttner, who has a PhD in astrophysics with a specialization in black holes, has spent the last ten months trying to rebuild a political party whose reputation has been badly damaged by public strife between the party’s executive and its elected officials. Strife and bitterness Earlier this week, Green Party President Lorraine Rekmans resigned from the party in a letter that became public, where she told her colleagues that she believes “the dream is dead.” Rekmans’ resignation came just days after she publicly apologized to the interim leader for being misgendered at the Green Party’s leadership race launch on September 3, something Kuttner said in a Sept. 6 press release left them feeling “hurt and isolated at a moment that should have been filled with inspiration and anticipation.” In her three-page letter published by CBC, Rekmans, who served as the party’s Indigenous Affairs Critic from 2008 to 2021 and ran in six federal elections, wrote that she is exhausted and her “optimism has died” after volunteering over 40 hours per week over the course of a year. “I suggest you might want to pay the next President that you elect,” Rekmans wrote. The letter also noted that the party’s Federal Council voted this month to undertake an investigation into allegations of discrimination and abuse from within the party. Rekmans opined that the leadership race “should have been suspended whilst this investigation was underway.” “I cannot see how we can continue safely amidst the allegations that harm is being caused to our members,” Rekmans wrote, before going on to add that she “had no confidence in the leadership contestants, and they had no confidence in me, and I lost confidence in Federal Council.” In response to Rekman’s letter signaling the demise of the Greens, Kuttner tells rabble.ca, “that’s just not my view of it at all.”  “I think it comes down to something important, and that is our party has to grow up,” they said, pointing to the need to have a clearer understanding of the role of the caucus. “The caucus is not well defined in the party structure, so I think often theres a separation thats not intentional on anyones part.” Looking back on their time as interim leader, Kuttner says they have learned a lot about how willing and unwilling people are to work together for the sake of transformative change, adding that the political system in Canada is set up to pit people against each other rather than to find common ground. And while Kuttner isn’t closing the door completely on running in the next federal election under the Greens, they’re more focused on a much-needed break from politics after the party has named their successor. Inflation, climate, and right-wing populism Responding to the Liberal Party’s announcement to address the rise of inflation and cost of living, Kuttner noted that “anything is helpful” but considered the move to be a stop-gap measure on a much larger issue. Pointing out that the proposed legislation does little to address the true causes of inflation in the long-term, Kuttner says that the federal government’s responses are becoming more and more unstable as the world grapples with economic hardships caused by the escalating climate crisis.  For Kuttner, Pierre Poilievre becoming the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada popularity isn’t an anomaly, stemming from the same right-wing populism that has become more appealing globally due to a combination of disinformation and fear-mongering.  “This is the very standard response historically to overlapping crises,” they said. “That’s often because the solutions that are proposed by the far-right are easy and appealing in the fact that they’re simple — and the underlying truth is they’re not going to actually work.” What makes this kind of populism so effective, Kuttner believes, is that it offers validation for people, something they believe is “appealing right now for everybody.” “It is hard for most people to read through whats actually going on,” they said. “Its very hard to be able to read through things, that there are connections to hate groups. It’s really difficult to read through and see that the promises of economic prosperity are founded on impossibilities in the global marketplace.” The party will have a new leader in just two months, with former leader Elizabeth May running on a joint ticket with human rights activist Jonathan Pedneault, calling on the party to institute a co-leadership model. Other candidates include author Sarah Gabrielle Baron, teacher at the Department of National Defense Simon Gnocchini-Messier, and the joint ticket of of former P.E.I. Green Party leader Anne Keenan and Chad Walcott, who ran under the Green Party of Quebec in 2018. The first round of voting in the leadership race begins on October 7, with the results slated to be announced on October 14. The top four candidates will advance to a second round of voting, with the new leader revealed on November 19. The post Green Party seeks to turn over new leaf with leadership race appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, elizabeth may, Green Party of Canada]

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[l] at 9/16/22 9:11am
Jagmeet Singh in a surprise move emailed a public letter that placed the treatment of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories at the level of an international crisis. It is the clearest statement on this issue from the federal NDP. There is no chance that the minority Liberals government governing with the support of the NDP in Parliament will bend to any concerns about Israeli impunity. And while I don’t have an insight into how the NDP leader made his decision it can be credited to the grassroots lobbying within the party membership and activist groups at large such as Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) (full disclosure, I am a member of IJV). Does this signify a switch from top-down decision making on policy that expanded when Jack Layton served as NDP leader from 2003 to 2011?Time will tell. Writer, political strategist and PhD candidate in political science at York University, Matt Fodor delves into the weeds of leadership philosophy and styles in a new book, From Layton to Singh: The 20-year Struggle for the NDP’s Soul. Layton emerged as an innovative and inspiring city councillor on the Toronto municipal scene. (As a writer for various local alt. weeklies I knew the man personally). At the NDP leadership convention in 2003, he won on the first ballot. Support came from across the spectrum. They included members of the party left, Libby Davies and Svend Robinson, as well as former leader Ed Broadbent, former Ontario NDP party president Janet Solberg and the United Steelworkers. Layton’s decision to professionalize and expand the federal party bureaucracy in Ottawa with strategists and communications specialists (doing continuous polling and focus groups) made sense in the competitive partisan context. By 2015 the NDP party headquarters on Laurier Ave. employed 250 people on staff, a jump from 40 one year earlier. The problem, says Fodor, is that the federal NDP became more highly centralized around the leader and the party operatives, the latter working on devising the political messaging and policy. It was already the case that the primary function of the membership in the federal NDP riding associations was not to discuss policy at the grassroots or educate members on policy, but primarily to raise money and volunteers for political campaigns at election time. Layton became the leader of the federal NDP in 2003 at a propitious time when Paul Martin, the business friendly and right leaning Liberal prime minster was heading the country and there was a perceived opening on the centre left. As finance minister in the previous Jean Chretien Liberal government Martin gained high marks among elite circles for eviscerating the Canadian welfare state in areas like housing and unemployment insurance, the consequences of which we are experiencing today in 2022 in a more unequal Canada. Fodor says the federal NDP, which had never held power was positioned within the party as a social democratic oasis true to its roots. This was in contrast to the provincial NDP counterparts governing Ontario, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Manitoba starting in the 1990s which emphasized market friendly Third Way policies. Layton led the NDP through four federal elections, relying on advisors from the provincial wings. In the high mark 2011 election Jack Layton sought to remove the so-called political stigma of a tax and spend party. No mention was made in the platform for new social programs. Indeed, the focus was on rewarding job creators through tax cuts for small business, the maintenance of Canadian corporate rates as “competitive,” and a more modest childcare plan (25,000 spaces annually) than what had been advocated in previous NDP platforms. There was also no call for pharmacare, criticism of international trade agreements was muted and unions were noticeably absent from the platform. “Altogether, the NDP increasingly accepted the parameters of neoliberal capitalism,” writes Matt Fodor. A rearrangement in national partisan fortunes seemed to be in the cards as the federal Liberals were mired in third place in the House of Commons under weak leadership following the 2011 election when Stephen Harper and the Conservatives were ushered in  with their first majority government. In the same election, the NDP had surged to second place under Layton after gaining seats in his native Quebec at the expense of the Bloc Quebecois which looked tired and a spent force (temporarily it turned out). The NDP had successfully pitched itself as a social democratic party in line with Quebec values. Things still looked promising even after Layton’s untimely death from cancer following the 2011 election. His number one recruit in Quebec Tom Mulcair took charge of the federal NDP during a contentious 2012 leadership convention where he won after four ballots (his major opponent was Layton policy strategist Brian Topp.) Previously a minister in the Quebec Liberal provincial government Mulcair had primarily left that allegiance because of differences over environmental policy, not as a dissident on the left. Mulcair fitted well into a reconfigured neo-liberal federal party in the 2000s under Jack Layton who supported a balanced budget. You know what happened next. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals came sailing into power after languishing in third place in the previous Parliament by running to the left of the Mulcair led NDP in support of increased government spending. The Conservatives followed in second place. What struck some NDP activists as especially galling was that Mulcair in the 2015 campaign was calling for a balanced budget throughout the entire mandate of a first national NDP government, making it hard to imagine anything socially significant being enacted. For all of the brain tissue supposedly resident at the federal party headquarters, the Liberals had a better understanding of the Canadian public mood. The 2015 election also witnessed a resurgence of an intolerant white ethnic nationalism (Islamophobia disguised as secularism) in Quebec which helped spell the rapid decline of the NDP in the province. The Bloc Quebecois experienced a comeback after running ads mocking Mulcair’s opposition to the banning of niqab by the Conservative government at citizenship ceremonies. The Liberals also opposed the ban but managed to see its seats increase in the province Is the Jagmeet Singh led NDP continuing the legacy of Jack Layton? The decision on Israel and Palestine was a matter of the right thing to do policy-wise. I doubt the party here relied on focus groups. And a Singh led NDP is less apologetic about its social democratic values in, for instance, supporting taxes on the wealthy and corporations – including specifically the oil sector. Fodor still detects a certain level of caution in the federal NDP that can be hobbling. It is back in its traditional national role as a smaller party trying to find space as the two big parties the centrist Liberals and Freedom Convoy loving Conservatives dominate the political conversation and duke it out. Following the 2021 federal election a confidence and supply agreement was signed where the NDP promises to ensure the survival of the current minority government headed by the Liberals under Trudeau until 2025 in exchange for specific items such as a means tested public dental care plan for low-income people. This is no formal coalition. Singh and the NDP can still criticize the Liberals in power. What Fodor finds inspiring are the never-ending insurgent challenges to the party establishment within the NDP.  Recent ones have focused on the environment and the climate emergency. He includes Avi Lewis and the other authors of the Leap Manifesto or more currently, the longshot candidacy of Anjali Appadurai, up against the front runner, David Eby, in the BC NDP leadership contest. Because of the volatile nature of politics in the post pandemic world nothing is absolutely certain and so From Layton to Singh offers important lessons for Canada’s major party on the left for when its time might arise again. From Layton to Singh will be published this fall on October 18  by James Lorimer & Company. The post Review of From Layton to Singh: the 20-Year struggle for the NDP’s soul appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Jack Layton, Jagmeet Singh, NDP]

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[l] at 9/16/22 7:20am
RadioLabour returns with a critique of Pierre Poilevres recent appointment as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. CUPE national president Mark Hancock says the take-over of the federal Conservative party is a disaster for working people, but they can fight back and win. RadioLabour is the international labour movement’s radio service. It reports on labour union events around the world with a focus on unions in the developing world. It partners with rabble to provide coverage of news of interest to Canadian workers. The post The federal Conservatives are now the Convoy Party of Canada appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour, Conservative Party of Canada, Freedom Convoy, Pierre Poilievre]

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[l] at 9/16/22 7:00am
In 1959, the then-premier of Saskatchewan, Thomas Douglas envisioned a universal, pre-paid and publicly administered healthcare system. The first of its kind in North America. This plan for Saskatchewan prompted the federal government to initiate a national strategy to shift to a universal system. He’s “the father of Medicare in Canada. And the one to thank for our universal healthcare system as we know it today.  But is this system in trouble?   This is not a conversation which is new to rabble radio.  In May, rabble contributor Doreen Nicoll sat down with Natalie Mehra, the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition to talk about the privatization of long-term care homes in Ontario. Nicoll spoke to Sarah Jama, the co-founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, later that month to talk about the importance of accessible health services in regard to those who are differently abled.  This week, we continue the conversation by sharing an interview from the first episode of the newest season of Courage My Friends.  In this interview, host Resh Budhu speaks to JP Hornick, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, and palliative care physician and health justice activist, Dr. Naheed Dosani. The three discuss the current crisis facing public healthcare in Ontario.  Courage My Friends is a podcast series presented by rabble.ca and the Tommy Douglas Institute at George Brown College, with the support of the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation.  Hosted on Needs No Introduction, a sister podcast to rabble radio, this season’s Courage My Friends will focus on housing, education, erosion of public goods, just economics, the plight of migrant workers, and the climate crisis. Join our Off the Hill conversation next week! Join panelists MP Leah Gazan, Georgina Lazore, and Breanne Lavallée-Heckert and co-hosts Robin Browne and Libby Davies. The conversation will center around deconstructing truth and reconciliation.  Join the conversation on Thursday, September 22 at 7:30pm eastern time via Zoom. Register today at: https://bit.ly/OffTheHillSeptember22  If you like the show please consider subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. And please, rate, review, share rabble radio with your friends — it takes two seconds to support independent media like rabble. Follow us on social media across channels @rabbleca. Or, if you have feedback for the show, get in touch anytime at editor@rabble.ca. Photo by: Marcelo Leal on Unsplash The post The ongoing fight against privatized healthcare appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, health care, OPSEU, Privitization]

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[l] at 9/15/22 2:16pm
Canadian Conservatives have been working hard to give the impression they’re enthusiastic monarchists. They’ve been beavering away cultivating this impression with particular energy since the death at 96 last Friday of Queen Elizabeth II – a genuinely popular figure in Canada far beyond the usual monarchist circles.  But it’s fair to say, based on their performance here in Alberta in the past few hours, that their affection for the late monarch, and their respect for the institution of the monarchy, is a mile wide and an inch deep. (That is, as we say in Canada over the objections of many Conservatives, 1.6 kilometres wide and 2.54 centimetres deep.)  I speak, of course, of the embarrassing decision yesterday by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney – who would have us believe he is the most monarchical monarchist of them all – to deny Albertans a one-time-only statutory holiday to honour the Queen’s career and mourn her death.  “Albertans, Canadians and the peoples of the Commonwealth will join together on this day in sorrow to mourn the death of Her late Majesty and to commemorate her long and faithful service,” Kenney was quoted saying in a government press release yesterday. “I sincerely hope that Albertans find some time on this day to honour the remarkable life of Queen Elizabeth II …” Some Canadians will indeed join together on this sombre and historic occasion – supposedly Kenney’s own words, although accurate enough – using time off of the kind that truly puts the statutory into a holiday, as is suitable when mourning the departure of a widely respected head of state.  This will be thanks to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement Tuesday that in much of where the federal government’s writ extends, September 19, the day of the Queen’s funeral, will be a statutory holiday.  Notwithstanding fatuous arguments by the usual suspects in business federations, chambers of commerce and U.S. funded think tanks that the resulting burden of overtime pay for minimum-wage workers would simply be too onerous or that hospitals would have to stop operating, Prime Minister Trudeau’s gesture was bound to be popular with normal Canadians and is an appropriate and dignified tribute to the late monarch.  Well, we can’t have that! So Albertans (and citizens of other Conservative-run provinces) will be denied that small memorial kindness.  After several hours of embarrassed foot shuffling yesterday while, presumably, the United Conservative Party (UCP) brain trust tried to come up with a good reason to Stop the Stat, the press release in which Kenney’s pieties were quoted appeared. Rather than paid time off (God forbid!), “workplaces, schools, offices and retail stores are encouraged to … observe the moment of silence.” (Emphasis added.)  “As part of the day of mourning, all employers are encouraged to make accommodations for employees to either attend the ceremony at the Legislature or otherwise mark the occasion of Her late Majesty’s funeral,” the statement continues – with, presumably, the clear understanding that no one in a precarious job will be paid for time spent lollygagging while mourning the late head of state.  “Schools will be encouraged to offer opportunities for students to take part in the day of mourning,” the news release says – no classes shall be cut.  Kenney was featured prominently in a royalty-free photo on the government’s Alberta Newsroom Flickr page, solemnly signing the book of condolence at the McDougall Centre in Calgary on the day of the Queen’s death. His comments were lovingly recorded by the official photographer.  And there you have it, folks. When you get down to where the Uniroyals hit Highway 2 – the QEII, that is – Kenney and the UCP listen to the Americanized likes of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Restaurants Canada, and the Chamber of Commerce.  They don’t have a monarchist bone in their bodies nowadays, these Canadian Conservatives.  They are republicans to the core to a man and woman – as is appropriate for a group that’s been taking inspiration and sustenance from Republicans in the republic to the south for decades now.  No wonder the Alberta separatists now in the process of taking over the UCP yak constantly about setting up a Republic of Alberta! (Assuming, of course, that they even know the difference between a republic and a constitutional monarchy.) Sure, God save the King! But God save Alberta too! The post Conservative affection for the monarchy: 1.6 km wide, 2.54 cm deep appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics]

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[l] at 9/15/22 1:38pm
It has long been said that “the sun never sets on the British Empire,” referring to the United Kingdom’s colonies around the globe. Will the death of Queen Elizabeth II trigger further shrinking of the empire, as former colonies now in the British Commonwealth debate whether to permanently sever ties? With its history of slavery, concentration camps, executions and torture, what would reparations and accountability look like? On her 21st birthday in 1947, Elizabeth, five years before her coronation as queen, said, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” Elizabeth was in South Africa, a British Commonwealth nation, one year before its white minority imposed the racist policies of apartheid over the majority Black and other non-white populations. Over the next half-century, South Africa’s apartheid regime, shored up by the United Kingdom and the United States, demonstrated that not all in the Queen’s “imperial family” fared well. “I would like to see the dismantling of this notion of the Commonwealth,” Cornell University Professor Mukoma Wa Ngugi said on the Democracy Now! news hour. Mukoma was born in the U.S. but raised in Kenya, the son of renowned Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. “‘Commonwealth?’ Whose wealth?” Professor Mukoma wa Ngugi asked. “The book I’m working on now on Africans and African Americans took me to Keta in Ghana, where slaves were taken from. It’s very depressed [by] the aftershocks…or the trauma of slavery. Maya Angelou called it melancholic.” “I left Keta. Then I went to Bristol in England. Bristol was a slave-trading port. It’s thriving…Most people know it now because of the dismantling of the statue of [Edward] Colston [during the George Floyd protests in 2020], who was one of the slave traders. We can see the effects of slavery, of colonialism. We can see how the wealth of England was built.” In 1952, Elizabeth was in Kenya when she learned of the death of her father, King George VI, and became Queen. Kenya suffered for decades under British colonial rule. An organized armed resistance rose up in the 1950s, called the Mau Mau. Harvard historian Caroline Elkins documented Britain’s violence against Kenyans in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya.” “Nearly 1.5 million Kikuyu, or Africans, were detained in detention camps, or emergency villages, barbed-wire villages, as a way of suppressing Mau Mau,” Elkins explained on Democracy Now! “This was a story about systematic violence, torture, murder and massive cover-up…serious crimes happened on the queen’s imperial watch. Her picture hung in every detention camp in Kenya as detainees were beaten in order to exact their loyalty to the British crown.” Many nations still struggle with the impacts of British colonialism. “Formerly enslaved and colonized nations and people, like those of the Caribbean, including Barbados, have been inserted in that international order in a structurally subordinate and exploitative manner,” David Comissiong, Barbados’s ambassador to the Caribbean Community, said on Democracy Now! last December, just after Barbados severed its Commonwealth relationship with the UK, removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and declaring itself sovereign. “Barbados was the first society in human history that was built totally on the basis of slavery — its economy, its social system, its ideology. That’s our history. The royal family was deeply involved in the British slave trade and the system of African enslavement,” Comissiong said. The Prime Minister of the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, announced this week that the country will hold a referendum within three years to decide on complete separation from the UK. Dorbrene O’Marde, the chairperson of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Commission and an ambassador-at-large of Antigua, said this week on Democracy Now! that Queen Elizabeth II “managed to cloak the historical brutality of empire in this veneer of grandeur and pomp and pageantry and graciousness…We need to examine that history a lot more closely.” Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son has succeeded her, and is now King Charles III. He will be confronted with rising demands for accountability and reparations for the generations of colonial exploitation that enriched the United Kingdom and the royal family, himself included. The Windsor family’s estimated wealth is in the billions of dollars. “The CARICOM reparations plan talks of development,” Dorbrene O’Marde said. “where the hurt of enslavement and genocide continues to exist and continues to impact the lives of Caribbean people today…You have committed crimes against humanity and there is a moral and an ethical demand that you acknowledge these crimes.” King Charles III should heed the call of these former colonial subjects, and answer for the innumerable harms inflicted worldwide in the name of the British monarchy. This column originally appeared on Democracy Now! The post The impacts of colonialism outlive the British Queen appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Anti-racism, Canadian Politics, World Politics, africa, colonialism, King Charles III, Queen Elizabeth II]

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[l] at 9/15/22 1:38pm
It has long been said that “the sun never sets on the British Empire,” referring to the United Kingdom’s colonies around the globe. Will the death of Queen Elizabeth II trigger further shrinking of the empire, as former colonies now in the British Commonwealth debate whether to permanently sever ties? With its history of slavery, concentration camps, executions and torture, what would reparations and accountability look like? On her 21st birthday in 1947, Elizabeth, five years before her coronation as queen, said, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” Elizabeth was in South Africa, a British Commonwealth nation, one year before its white minority imposed the racist policies of apartheid over the majority Black and other non-white populations. Over the next half-century, South Africa’s apartheid regime, shored up by the United Kingdom and the United States, demonstrated that not all in the Queen’s “imperial family” fared well. “I would like to see the dismantling of this notion of the Commonwealth,” Cornell University Professor Mukoma Wa Ngugi said on the Democracy Now! news hour. Mukoma was born in the U.S. but raised in Kenya, the son of renowned Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. “‘Commonwealth?’ Whose wealth?” Professor Mukoma wa Ngugi asked. “The book I’m working on now on Africans and African Americans took me to Keta in Ghana, where slaves were taken from. It’s very depressed [by] the aftershocks…or the trauma of slavery. Maya Angelou called it melancholic.” “I left Keta. Then I went to Bristol in England. Bristol was a slave-trading port. It’s thriving…Most people know it now because of the dismantling of the statue of [Edward] Colston [during the George Floyd protests in 2020], who was one of the slave traders. We can see the effects of slavery, of colonialism. We can see how the wealth of England was built.” In 1952, Elizabeth was in Kenya when she learned of the death of her father, King George VI, and became Queen. Kenya suffered for decades under British colonial rule. An organized armed resistance rose up in the 1950s, called the Mau Mau. Harvard historian Caroline Elkins documented Britain’s violence against Kenyans in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya.” “Nearly 1.5 million Kikuyu, or Africans, were detained in detention camps, or emergency villages, barbed-wire villages, as a way of suppressing Mau Mau,” Elkins explained on Democracy Now! “This was a story about systematic violence, torture, murder and massive cover-up…serious crimes happened on the queen’s imperial watch. Her picture hung in every detention camp in Kenya as detainees were beaten in order to exact their loyalty to the British crown.” Many nations still struggle with the impacts of British colonialism. “Formerly enslaved and colonized nations and people, like those of the Caribbean, including Barbados, have been inserted in that international order in a structurally subordinate and exploitative manner,” David Comissiong, Barbados’s ambassador to the Caribbean Community, said on Democracy Now! last December, just after Barbados severed its Commonwealth relationship with the UK, removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and declaring itself sovereign. “Barbados was the first society in human history that was built totally on the basis of slavery — its economy, its social system, its ideology. That’s our history. The royal family was deeply involved in the British slave trade and the system of African enslavement,” Comissiong said. The Prime Minister of the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, announced this week that the country will hold a referendum within three years to decide on complete separation from the UK. Dorbrene O’Marde, the chairperson of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Commission and an ambassador-at-large of Antigua, said this week on Democracy Now! that Queen Elizabeth II “managed to cloak the historical brutality of empire in this veneer of grandeur and pomp and pageantry and graciousness…We need to examine that history a lot more closely.” Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son has succeeded her, and is now King Charles III. He will be confronted with rising demands for accountability and reparations for the generations of colonial exploitation that enriched the United Kingdom and the royal family, himself included. The Windsor family’s estimated wealth is in the billions of dollars. “The CARICOM reparations plan talks of development,” Dorbrene O’Marde said. “where the hurt of enslavement and genocide continues to exist and continues to impact the lives of Caribbean people today…You have committed crimes against humanity and there is a moral and an ethical demand that you acknowledge these crimes.” King Charles III should heed the call of these former colonial subjects, and answer for the innumerable harms inflicted worldwide in the name of the British monarchy. This column originally appeared on Democracy Now! The post The impacts of colonialism outlive the British Queen appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Anti-racism, Canadian Politics, World Politics, africa, colonialism, King Charles III, Queen Elizabeth II]

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[l] at 9/14/22 1:19pm
Still spinning fairy tales about Alberta Health Services (AHS)’ leadership conspiring to sabotage the United Conservative Party (UCP) government, leadership candidate Danielle Smith Tuesday published a statement vowing to “decentralize control of health care delivery to local decision makers and health professionals.”  In the same release, the UCP frontrunner and former Wildrose Party leader claimed that “on Day 1, should I win this leadership race, I will … immediately hire a new, competent and capable Alberta Health Services CEO.” If she meant that last bit, it suggests she already has someone in mind – and one can only hope it’s neither a naturopath nor a chiropractor!  Whoever Smith hires and whenever she hires them, it’s likely to be a market-fundamentalist determined to privatize as much of AHS as fast as possible on the strength of Jason Kenney’s 2019 mandate, before the government has to face the electorate in a true democratic test. The same day, former finance minister Travis Toews, who appears to be in second place in the contest to captain the UCP, appeared in a video with the Southern Alberta town of Coaldale’s council to argue that “the highly centralized decision-making structure in health care delivery, particularly through Alberta Health Services, is failing Albertans.” He went on to say he believes AHS is also “failing front-line health care professionals, disengaging them from the front lines, not allowing them to make changes, make decisions, ensure our system is nimble and appropriate offering best delivery and most efficiency.” So, he said, “we need to decentralize the decision-making structure.” To give Toews some credit, his decentralization chatter left room for more nuance. He conceded, at least, that “I don’t pretend to have all the detailed solutions at the back end. …” But he’s still allowing Smith to set the narrative, and the direction of the campaign. And Smith’s calls for decentralization are clearly tied to her hostility toward public health measures, her skepticism about vaccines, and her frequent enthusiasm throughout the pandemic for quack cures for COVID-19.  Progressive Conservative premier Ed Stelmach’s government may have created AHS in 2009 for some of the wrong reasons – it was done at least partly to break the power of Calgary Health Region CEO Jack Davis. But the vast if hard-to-estimate sums spent to create AHS gave Alberta purchasing power in world markets that undoubtedly helped the fight against COVID-19, and has allowed Alberta to spend less on health-care administration than any other provincial health care system on Canada.  Inspired by such demonstrable successes, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have adopted a similar province-wide approaches. The idea of now going on a spending spree to decentralize the whole thing again for ideological reasons and to appeal to the UCP’s anti-vaccination base is bonkers!  But it’s easy to campaign by making big promises, and this one illustrates the Smith campaign’s characteristic reliance on confident claims that big and complex problems can be solved with snap-of-the-fingers ideological solutions. It won’t work. You can take this to the bank: If Alberta ignores the cost-cutting and understaffing that is the real cause of Alberta Health Services’ failure to support health care staff and introduces more chaos and expense by decentralizing AHS, the morale of the province’s already demoralized health care workforce will collapse.  Count on it, the instant audit and decentralization scheme promised by Smith will drive even more health care professionals from Alberta than the exodus we are now witnessing. Bid to woo rural docs recruits only one physician  Meanwhile, the NDP Opposition revealed Monday that after nine months of operation, the UCP’s three-year, $6-million plan to recruit new doctors for rural communities facing medical staff shortages has so far only managed to recruit … wait for it … one physician.  “The UCP has essentially failed to place a single new doctor through this program in 2022,” said NDP Health Critic David Shepherd in a news release.  In fairness, it did manage to place a single new doctor. One.  The reason, Shepherd suggested, “is that front-line health-care professionals know they cannot trust the UCP. Three years of hostility and threats and harassment is not going to be erased with a slightly different program.” Justice minister publicly tells Human Rights Commission chief to resign On Monday, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro publicly asked Alberta Human Rights Commission Chief Collin May to resign. Shandro’s statement to Alberta media came in response to an open letter published Monday by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and signed by 28 Alberta-based Muslim groups. Despite attempting to engage with May about a book review he wrote in 2009 that included statements described as Islamophobic, the letter said, “it has become clear that Mr. May does not appear to be interested in taking accountability or ownership over his actions. For that reason we have no choice but to call for his resignation.” “Even as Mr. May promised to engage with Alberta’s Muslim leaders to learn and reflect, we have learned that Mr. May has also been issuing demand letters threatening to sue his critics,” the letter also said. “This is simply unacceptable.” The entire letter from the NCCM can be read here. In a statement emailed to the CBC, Shandro’s press secretary said, “upon receiving the letter, Minister Shandro requested an explanation from Mr. May. … After reviewing the explanation, Minister Shandro has asked for Mr. Mays resignation.” Since appointees to government boards, agencies and commissions serve at the pleasure of the government, asking them to resign is not strictly necessary. The UCP demonstrated this soon after it was elected in 2019, when it removed more than 20 members appointed by the previous NDP Government in a single day.  But by framing Monday’s decision as he did, Shandro signalled to the Muslim community that he acknowledges and understands its members’ concerns. Like the CBC, AlbertaPolitics.ca has received a letter from May threatening legal action regarding articles published about the book review controversy. The post After building AHS, UCP leadership candidates talk decentralization appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Health, Alberta Health Services, Danielle Smith]

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[l] at 9/14/22 10:15am
When Omar Khadr was held in Guantanamo Bay, the Canadian government sent two CSIS agents to the island prison. Their objective was not to repatriate the teenager but rather to interrogate him. Years later, in January 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that Omar Khadrs constitutional rights were violated and that the agents who led the interrogations offended the most basic Canadian standards of detained youth suspects. In 2012, with Senator Roméo Dallaire’s efforts, thousands of Canadians signed a petition to pressure then Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to repatriate Omar Khadr, who many human rights organizations considered a child soldier. Toews insisted that Omar Khadr was not a child soldier but a terrorist. Stigmatizing and scapegoating Khadr According to international law, Khadr was a child soldier who should have been treated as a victim. He was arrested at the age of 15 after a July 2002 firefight in Afghanistan, in which U.S. special forces stormed the compound where he was living. Without credible evidence, the U.S. government labeled him an enemy combatant, kept him in Guantanamo and charged him with war crimes. Canada— his birthplace and the only home he knew— watched quietly, occasionally peaking its head from the sand to call him a terrorist. Whether Khadr was a child soldier isnt the central issue. When human rights advocates or lawyers highlighted a caveat that would humanize Khadr and described the horrible experiences he had been subjected to, in an attempt to rally some support around his cause, these efforts were squashed and even denied by many politicians. For years, Canada claimed to be an international leader defending child soldiers, particularly in African countries. When it came to rescue one of its own children caught in a war zone, Canada miserably failed the test. Many politicians distanced themselves from Khadrs case. Worse, many, including then Prime Minister Harper and his public safety minister, refused to use the term child soldier and kept calling him a terrorist, in an effort to deny him any form of justice and further stigmatize him. In 2017, after a decades long ordeal, Omar Khadr received a settlement from the Canadian government for all the damages and trauma he was forced to endure. Youd assume the Canadian government Canada learned from its past mistakes. But thats clearly not the case. Brits recruited online by ISIS, trafficked into Syria Last week, Canadians learned that Shamima Begum, a young British woman, aged 15 in 2015, was smuggled into Syria by a man who worked as a spy for the Canadian Embassy in Jordan. During the height of ISIS recruitment efforts to draw vulnerable Western youth to their ranks, Begum flew to Turkey where she met up with a man who trafficked her into ISIS territory. This news wasnt a scoop. The Canadian involvement in this case was already established by some media reports as early as 2015. However, nobody cared and it went mostly unnoticed. In fact, some media sources discredited Turkish authorities who revealed the connection between the British teenager and Canada. Former Sunday Times correspondent, Richard Kerbaj, recently published a book and brought this story back to the limelight. According to Kerbajs account and other reports, Mohamed Al Rasheed is a Syrian who asked for asylum status at the Canadian Embassy in Jordan. The Embassy asked him to become an informant and run a counter-intelligence operation as part of a mutually beneficial deal. Speaking about the Canadian Embassy in Jordan, Al Rasheed said: they told me they were going to grant me my Canadian citizenship if I collect information about the activities of ISIS. From facilitating the travel of young British women, to copying their passports, to driving them around and delivering them to ISIS territory to their prospective husband’s, Al Rasheed did it all. In 2013, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed his personal bodyguard, Bruno Saccomani, as an ambassador to Jordan, despite facing many criticisms about this unusual choice.It is believed that it was under Saccomani that the counter-intelligence operation was conducted. Who ordered and authorized this Canadian operation? It is important to determine Canadas exact involvement and implication. Call this what it is: a case of human trafficking This case lies squarely at the intersection of human trafficking and the unethical actions of intelligence agencies. Years ago, Begum tried to re-enter Britain, but in 2019 she was stripped off her British citizenship. Today, she is still in a Syrian camp waiting to go back to her home country, where she was born and raised and where she should have been protected from online recruiters, intelligence agencies, human traffickers and spy operations. Last week, CSIS refused to comment on this case. Prime Minister Trudeau congratulated CSIS for using creative and flexible tools to manage the case. As if brainwashing young girls and promising them some sort of a paradise as brides in a war zone is creative or flexible. From some British and Canadian media, we learned that CSIS didnt even share details of this operation with the London Metropolitan Police until much later, after the matter became known and they feared public scrutiny. In in one exchange with their Turkish counterparts, CSIS sent a high-level official to Ankara to beg forgiveness for failing to inform Turkish authorities they had been running a counter-intelligence operation in their territory. Shamima Begum isnt Canadian. Her British lawyers describe her case as one of blatant sex trafficking, and they are trying to convince the British authorities to reinstitute her British citizenship so she can go back and live with her family in Britain. As Canadians, why should we care? As a country we claim that our values are to stand against the trafficking of women and girls. We have a national plan to combat human trafficking. So why is it when it comes to Begum, our Prime Minister averts his gaze and praises the operation? Didnt we learn anything from the mistreatment of Khadrs case? It is not the first time that Canadian intelligence services pressured refugees or immigrants, particularly from Muslim countries, to become spies against their own communities. What CSIS and. by extension the entire Canadian government did, is unethical and dangerous. Some claim that this is what spies are supposed to do. Perhaps. But how about transparency? Public accountability? How can Canadians know that our country didnt commit crimes by helping Shamima Begum, and others, travel to ISIS territory? Without this spy, its possible she wouldnt have entered Syria. We need answers. I dont think we can plead ignorance and say that we didn’t know about Shamima Begum or the sex trafficking or the complicity of Canadian agencies. We cant make the same mistakes we did with the Omar Khadr case. Begum isnt the first, or the last Finally, we shouldnt forget the 43 Canadians who remain in Northern Eastern Syrian camps of Al Hol and Al Roj. Among them, are 23 Canadian children. What do we know about them? How many of them were enabled by Canadian agents? How many of them were trafficked into those dangerous territories? Canada is still hiding its head under the sand. It is time to repatriate these Canadians and open an investigation into what CSIS has done in the case of Shamima and many others. The post From Omar Khadr to Shamima Begum: CSIS’s trail of mistakes appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Human Rights, CSIS, ISIS, omar khadr, SEXTRAFFICKING, Syria]

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[l] at 9/14/22 9:29am
What does a group of grandmothers and ‘others,’ a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization, and a community climate group have in common? Turns out, quite a lot. Grand(m)others Act to Save the Planet (GASP), Environmental Defence (ED) and Mississauga Climate Action (MCA) are joining another dozen environmental groups to walk, or bike, the proposed Hwy 413 route that spans 59 kilometers. Harvest Walk Ontario (HOW) is the brainchild of Susan Berry.  The chair of HOW told rabble.ca she was inspired to organize the October 1 walk because she grew up near Hwy 407 and saw the way development really only served developers. According to Berry, “There are so many better ways to creatively build housing and protect our waterways, food security and endangered species.” Berry wants a future for her daughters that’s free of a carbon-producing disaster built on prime farmland and the beautiful Nashville Conservation Reserve. To that end, participants will have the opportunity to tell the federal government that Ontarians are asking for a full Federal Assessment of this critical infrastructure project in the form of a video of the peaceful protest that will be shared with MPs. The proposed highway will cut across 2,000 acres of prime farmland and up to 400 acres of the Greenbelt. Its construction will hurt food security as well as the climate crisis. The groups want to draw attention to the fact that sustainable transportation and walkable neighbourhoods need to be prioritized over building outdated highways that only increase congestion, cause more environmental damage and undermine the social determinants of health. ED commissioned a report, Paving Paradise: The Impact of Highway 413 on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Air Pollution and Suburban Sprawl, to understand the impacts of Hwy 413 on climate change and the health of people, communities and sensitive ecosystems. Bottom line, the highway will enable developers to abandon sustainable, dense, vibrant cities for sprawling car-dependent subdivisions forcing residents to travel even further by car to get to what they need and where they want to go. That means the potential destruction of sensitive archeological sites on land that has been inhabited by the Huron-Wendat. The highway would bisect the sensitive headwaters of four watersheds within Mississauga of the Credit First Nation’s territory and impact ceremonial and burial sites. A loss of 2,000 acres of Class 1 and Class 2 farmland when food production is under attack from climate change, development, and disruption to food supply chains due to COVID and ongoing global conflicts. This not only threatens local food security, it also impacts Canada’s food sovereignty. By 2050 the additional 17 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions will result in $1.4 billion in damages from pollution. Meanwhile drivers using the 413 will save on average 30 to 60 seconds per trip. More insidious is the fact that Hwy 413 will literally pave the way for more suburban sprawl resulting in even greater traffic congestion and the demand for more highways. GASP members engage in political action that shines a light on the intersectionality of the climate crisis and the disproportionate carbon contributions of wealthier Baby Boomers. GASP members work with people of diverse ages and backgrounds in what they call, “the fight for our lives.” According to co-founder Carole Holmes, “Urban sprawl planning had its heyday in the ‘70’s when the devastating impact on the environment was unknown. Today we are in a climate crisis. Now we know, the 413 does not make sense.” Holmes went on to say, “$10 billion for a new highway when our healthcare system desperately needs it does not make sense.” Berry wants participants to have fun and connect in a COVID-safe way that celebrates nature, outdoors, health, and the good things that grow in Ontario. The route has been divided into manageable sections covering Halton, Brampton, Caledon and Vaughn. There will also be a farmers’ market and rally at the Brampton Fairgrounds where walkers and cyclists will end their journey and celebrate with supporters. GASP co-founder, Lorraine Green observes, “Ontario is ours to protect for our children and grandchildren. They should be able to experience the beauty of our lush forests, fields, farms, and wildlife, which will be lost if HWY 413 is built.” For more information about HOW click here. The post Harvest Ontario Walk to stop HWY 413 appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Health, Political Action, Hwy 413]

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[l] at 9/14/22 8:50am
Almost weekly, we’re glimpsing deeper into our universe through increasingly fine-tuned telescopes and lenses. Astronomers recently released the most detailed images of the distant Orion Nebula — 1,300 light years away. Earlier this summer, they discovered 21 “white dwarf” candidate stars and the most distant galaxy ever observed. The amount we have to learn is endless — as vast as the universe, or multiple universes, in which we and our planet spin. It’s exciting and sometimes discomfiting to realize how much we don’t yet know. Surprisingly, when the lens is flipped to observe the underpinnings of life rather than the galaxy’s outer limits, there’s even less certainty. In When We Cease to Understand the World, Benjamin Labatut describes how the arrival of quantum mechanics upended the linear path that, up to that point, had exponentially increased our scientific success in reducing the world to smaller and smaller known pieces. At a conference in 1927 of the world’s greatest scientists, Labatut explains, Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr presented their startling vision of quantum mechanics. It describes how “An electron is not in any fixed place until it is measured; it is only in that instant that it appears. Before being measured, it has no attributes; prior to observation, it cannot even be conceived of.” Through this discovery, scientific thinkers came face to face with the limits of our capacity to fully understand life’s building blocks in concrete terms. Heisenberg also introduced the “uncertainty principle,” which states that the position and momentum of a particle can’t both be measured with precision. The more accurately you know one value, the less accurately you know the other. Quantum mechanics changed the trajectory of science. As Wikipedia explains, “Quantum mechanics describes nature in a way that is different from how we usually think about science. It tells us how likely to happen some things are, rather than telling us that they certainly will happen.” Although its arrival changed the reductionist nature of some scientific paths, its inherent uncertainty didn’t make it less valuable. Quantum mechanics is foundational to chemistry and cosmology. Astrophysicist Adam Frank and colleagues say the scientific shift changed the historical observer status assigned to the scientist. He writes that we can no longer expect to know the world “in itself, outside our ways of seeing and acting on things. Experience is just as fundamental to scientific knowledge as the physical reality it reveals.” Labatut writes, “Physics ought not to concern itself with reality, but rather with what we can say about reality.” What we say about reality is, in other words, our stories, borne from our relationships with the world(s) around us. As Heisenberg explains, “When we speak of the science of our era, we are talking about our relationship with nature, not as objective, detached observers, but as actors in a game between man and the world.” Although we find ourselves in between two poles of uncertainty — the infinitesimally small and the infinitely grand — our (even nominal) understanding of quantum mechanics can help us gain perspective. To start, we can embrace, with humility, the realization that we’re far from fully understanding, and will likely never fully understand, the mechanisms that determine nature and reality. Science is not absolute, but we can learn to thrive within this lack of certainty. It can help us to approach the world with more curiosity and wonder. As writer Marilynne Robinson says, we should look to “sciences whose terms and methods can overturn the assumptions of the inquirers” rather than that which “simply insists on the truth value of its assumptions.” And we can act in accordance with what we do know, such as our ever-expanding appreciation of the profound interactions that make life possible — from the elaborate mycelial networks underground to the global carbon cycle, from quantum to cosmic. We continually observe our world and describe it back to each other, revising understandings over time. Our experiences will always be a part of our “reality.” The two cannot be teased apart. And we always face uncertainty. But in the absence of certainty there lies probability, between countless series of possible outcomes. Collectively we can change the world, by striving for the best of what is possible, through our relationships with nature and each other. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Boreal Project Manager Rachel Plotkin. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org. The post Finding our place along the grand scale appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Heisenberg, quantum physics]

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[l] at 9/14/22 8:33am
The federal NDP are celebrating a major victory after successfully leveraging the Liberal government to take action on dental care, housing, and the cost of living ahead of the fall session of Parliament. Ahead of a return to Parliament, the NDP called on the Liberal government to double the Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC), while also increasing the Canada Child Benefit and the Canadian Housing Benefit. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau followed through. At a news conference during the final day of the Liberal caucus retreat in St. Andrews, N.B., Trudeau announced his party’s intention to introduce several pieces of legislation that would address the rising cost of living, including doubling the GSTC for six months — a move he says will put up to an extra $234 in the pockets of single Canadians without children, an average of $225 for seniors, and up to $467 for couples with two children. The Liberals are also planning to introduce a Canada Dental Benefit of up to $650 per year for children under the age of 12 in families without dental coverage that have annual incomes under $90,000. The Canada Dental Benefit marks the first phase of the federal dental care coverage the NDP pushed the Liberals to take just one year after voting against a motion for similar legislation by the New Democrats. Nearly two million Canadian renters are set to benefit from a proposed bill to provide a one-time $500 top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit, a move the Liberals say reaches “twice as many Canadians as initially promised” in Budget 2022. The benefit is available to renters who spend at least 30 per cent of their income on rent and earn less than $20,000 for individuals and $35,000 for families. “We are retaining fiscal firepower, and at the same time ensuring that those who need support don’t get left behind,” Trudeau said Tuesday.  The shift by the Liberal government comes just days after the federal NDP caucus met at a retreat in Halifax in an effort to prepare party priorities ahead of the fall session of Parliament. The session was slated to begin next Monday but is expected to be delayed as the funeral and national day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II is set for the same day. “These are concrete steps that will provide support to families that need it,” Singh told reporters last week. “This will give respect to people that are right now having a difficult time feeling squeezed by the cost of living going up.” Singh pointed to international efforts like Spain’s making transit fare-free or the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act as a blueprint for what Canadian lawmakers can accomplish in the upcoming session. “The burden of the cost of living going up shouldnt fall on the shoulders of workers,” Singh said, noting that raising federal interest rates will only punish workers. “We’re going to force this government to do what’s right for people, and if they do not deliver on what people need at this time, then weve got the tools to respond, and there will be repercussions.” The New Democrats are also calling for an excess profit tax for certain companies and corporations that, Singh says, “have just made profits by being in the right place at the right time,” pointing to the oil and gas sector as just one example of corporate greed breeding massive revenue at the expense of consumers.  Asked about the Conservative Party electing a new leader ahead of Pierre Poilievre’s victory on Saturday, Singh seemed confident that not much would change, pointing out that the party voted against dental care as well as raising taxes for wealthy CEOs. “They might say one thing, but when it comes down to it, they have voted consistently to support those at the very top, and it ends up hurting people,” he said. Referring to the NDP as a “Worker’s Party,” Singh argued that Poilievre might talk a lot about working class issues, but “he’s not willing to back it up with action.” The NDP leader was also asked about the issue of carbon pricing and the Atlantic premiers’ efforts to avoid a carbon tax on their provinces. He said that the party is pushing for specific waivers to take the Goods and Sales Tax (GST) off of necessities like home heating to ensure the cost of living isn’t jeopardized by a carbon tax. According to Singh, the NDP is also trying to make it so Canadians are not paying some of the highest cell service and data fees in the world by introducing new low-cost options to provide a cheaper alternative to the telecom giants. He also called for a backup plan to ensure cellular and internet services remain operational in the event of an outage, referring to the proposed Shaw—Rogers merger as “horrible for Canadians” and something New Democrats oppose. “Weve seen Liberals and Conservatives, for too long, cozy up to the big telecom companies, and as a result, Canadians have had to pay the price, and thats wrong,” Singh said. The post Federal NDP garners key policy wins ahead of fall session appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Jagmeet Singh, NDP]

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[l] at 9/14/22 7:00am
In the launch of our third season, JP Hornick, President of OPSEU/SEFPO and Dr. Naheed Dosani, Palliative Care Physician and Health Justice Activist, discuss the current crisis facing public healthcare in Ontario and the alarming turn toward the privatization of our healthcare systems by those prioritizing profit over patients. In speaking to the ways in which the healthcare crisis is both the result and rationale for erosion and greater privatization, JP Hornick says: “youve got a kind of perfect storm that COVID maximized a crisis that was already existing. Decreased funding, unanticipated service costs, then you throw in on top of that supply-chain issues, particularly around PPE, but also, tools and resources. And then youve got an ongoing problem with recruitment and retention of staff. These are the new realities that hospitals have to tackle at the same time, trying to care for patients. And theyre not allowed to carry deficits. So in the absence of additional funding, it means that the choices that hospitals regularly resort to are service cuts in order to try and balance budgets.But all this comes back to a very simple thing. It is a failure to adequately fund healthcare, both before and during the pandemic. And then the deterioration of the public system that results is used as an excuse in itself for increased privatization.” According to Dosani: “often conversations like this can get tucked away in the category of health policy. This is about much more. This is about our way of life. This is about our way of being. This is really an attack on the common good that is so core and foundational to what it means to be Canadian…Public healthcare is a national treasure that makes us unique on the world stage. That really allows us to say to each other, I care about you. And I care about you so much that I will pay into a collective pool with you to care for you. Even if I dont get sick, I care for you. And that doesnt just emanate in the healthcare world and the healthcare sphere that affects the way we treat each other. We care for each other. We communicate with each other…And that is worth saving. That is worth protecting.” About today’s guest: Prior to being elected president of OPSEU/SEFPO (Ontario Public Service Employees Union), JP Hornick was chief steward for more than a decade within the College Faculty Division, representing instructors at Ontario’s 24 public colleges. She chaired the College Faculty bargaining teams in 2017 and 2021-22.  JP grew up in a family of public service workers – educators, correctional workers and many more. She is a labour educator and previously served as the coordinator of the School of Labour at George Brown College. She has served as chair, treasurer and director on several community boards and has been on the front lines of activism to advance issues of equity, women’s rights, LGBTTIQQ2S rights, anti-racism and decolonization.   JP was elected OPSEU/SEFPO President in April 2022 on a platform that includes strengthening union democracy, building bargaining power, ensuring financial responsibility, fostering an inclusive union culture, and deepening connections to the labour movement and community.  As a palliative care physician and health justice activist, Dr. Naheed Dosani is dedicated to advancing equitable access to healthcare for people experiencing structural vulnerabilities like poverty and homelessness. He founded the Palliative Education and Care for the Homeless (PEACH) Program at the Inner City Health Associates, serves as the Health Equity Lead at Kensington Health in downtown Toronto and provides palliative care at St. Michael’s Hospital at Unity Health Toronto. He is also an assistant professor with the department of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto.  Dr. Dosani is the recipient of numerous awards including the Meritorious Service Cross for Humanitarianism from Canada’s Governor General (2018), a humanitarian award from the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (2019) and the Early Career Leader award from the Canadian Medical Association (2020). In 2022 he received an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) from Ontario Tech University. Transcript of this episode can be accessed at georgebrown.ca/TommyDouglasInstitute or here.  Image: JP Hornick and Naheed Dosani / Used with permission. Music: Ang Kahora. Lynne, Bjorn. Rights Purchased.  Intro Voices: Ashley Booth (Podcast Announcer); Kenneth Okoro, Liz Campos Rico, Tsz Wing Chau.  Courage My Friends Podcast Organizing Committee: Chandra Budhu, Ashley Booth, Resh Budhu.  Produced by: Resh Budhu, Tommy Douglas Institute and Breanne Doyle, rabble.ca.  Host: Resh Budhu.  The post Privatization of public health: Protecting universal healthcare for the common good appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Health, Courage My Friends, healthcare, Privitization]

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[l] at 9/13/22 1:18pm
When challenging power, it’s imperative to celebrate victories. But it’s also important to understand the political dance is often two steps forward, one step back.  In a victory for thousands of party activists, Jagmeet Singh recently released a statement that sharpened the New Democratic Party’s critique of Canada’s contribution to Palestinian dispossession. The NDP leader’s email made 13 demands of the Liberals on Palestine. The first point implies Israel is committing the crime of apartheid while the last two points call on Canada to “suspend the bilateral trade of all arms and related materials with the State of Israel until Palestinian rights are upheld” and “end all trade and economic cooperation with illegal settlements in Israel-Palestine.”  Singh’s statement is important and should be applauded, as I did in “Supporters of Palestinian rights should praise NDP’s dramatic policy shift”. But the NDP has also been tentative with the statement. They didn’t publish it on their web site or post it to social media. It was only sent via email to a list of individuals they’ve (presumably) identified as backers of the Palestinian cause.   Still, Singh’s statement received significant attention. Canada Talks Israel/Palestine, Canadian Dimension, The Maple, The Orchard, Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Independent Jewish Voices, National Council of Canadian Muslims and many others reported on or publicized the email. After it received significant attention in left circles, including NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson defending it, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) published a press release and action alert criticizing Singh’s statement for “laying all blame at the feet of Israel”.  While the NDP must be defended from CIJA’s attacks, the apartheid lobby group shouldn’t control the agenda for progressives regarding the party’s Palestine policy. We must keep pushing from the left. That is why Just Peace Advocates and the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute released a public letter calling on the NDP to withdraw from the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. Signed by 40 groups and 200 individuals, including Noam Chomsky, Svend Robinson, Linda McQuaig and Roger Waters, the letter reads:  NDP must withdraw from the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group  Over the past eighteen months Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem and the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinians have all concluded that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.  In recent months NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson has repeatedly asked foreign minister Melanie Joly why the Liberal government rejects the conclusion of Amnesty’s 280-page report titled “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity”. A number of NDP MPs recently signed Independent Jewish Voices’ Together Against Apartheid pledge and others have voiced criticism of Israeli apartheid.  In April of last year NDP members overwhelmingly supported a resolution that called for suspending arms sales to Israel and “ending all trade and economic cooperation with illegal settlements in Israel-Palestine.”  While the party sharpens its critique of Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians, NDP MP Randall Garrison remains vice-chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. NDP MPs Lisa Marie Barron, Gord Johns and Bonita Zarrillo are also listed on the website of a group which has a mandate to promote “greater friendship” and “further co-operation” between Canada and Israel.  Four years ago 200 prominent musicians, academics, trade unionists and NDP members released “A Call for the NDP to Withdraw from the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group”. Since that time the Israeli military has killed prominent Palestinian journalists, repeatedly bombed Gaza and Syria, assassinated individuals in Iran and expanded illegal settlements in the West Bank.  It is incoherent for the NDP to echo human rights group’ finding of Israeli apartheid and simultaneously participate in a group promoting “co-operation” with Israel.  It’s time for Jagmeet Singh to formally disassociate the NDP from the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group.  Whether Singh disassociates the NDP from the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group in two days, two months or two years from now it’s unavoidable. The party can’t suggest a country is committing the crime of apartheid and simultaneously promote greater friendship with it. Please take a minute to call on the NDP to withdraw from the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group  The post NDP must withdraw from Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Human Rights]

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[l] at 9/13/22 8:38am
Inflation pressures have been tough on workers for months, and as the Bank of Canada hikes up interest rates as a response, members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) are concerned about a potential looming recession.  According to an August publication by l’Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomique (IRIS), higher interest rates are not the solution, investing in the public sector is.  PSAC said the findings of the IRIS’ research reinforces their demands for higher wages for public service workers. The report said that indexing public sector wages will help maintain a strong middle class.  The IRIS report found that money invested in the public sector reaped higher returns for the Canadian economy. For every dollar spent in the public sector, $1.09 to $1.28 is added to the country’s GDP, compared to returns of $0.93 to $1.10 from private sector investments.  Based on these figures, the report reframed public sector investment as income instead of expenses, supporting the case for indexed wages for workers.  Despite calls for indexed wages, which have spread to many workplaces across Canada, the Bank of Canada has said they are concerned about a “wage-price spiral” being set off when wages match inflation.  “This is a situation where companies pay higher wages and pass those costs on through prices,” a Bank of Canada spokesperson has previously explained in an email to rabble.ca. “This raises workers’ cost of living and they seek further wage increases to compensate. If that cycle repeats itself, prices continue to rise and workers constantly strive to keep up.” The IRIS report outlined that indexed wages are unlikely to exacerbate inflation because wages are only a small part of what determines prices.  “Cost-of-living adjustments to wages have no amplifying effect on inflation, as wages are only one factor in product pricing,” the report reads, “alongside raw materials and components, capital financing, profit margins and productivity.” Chris Aylward, PSAC’s national president, said that while wages have stagnated, companies are posting record profits. This claim has been backed by another IRIS report. Instead of putting inflation on the backs of workers, the report says it is important to hold corporations accountable as they use high levels of inflation to up prices and bring in profits.  Aylward said that putting this money into compensation for workers will ensure that  the money goes back into the economy, instead of into the pockets of a wealthy few.  “What workers are doing is, with every extra dollar they have in their pocket, theyre going out and actually spending that in the community,” Aylward said in an interview with rabble.ca. PSAC is in the process of mediation with the Treasury Board as they continue to bargain for a fair contract for more than 165,000 federal public service workers. With the next meetings on the horizon, Aylward said the IRIS findings serve as a reminder of why PSAC is fighting for the wage increases they want. He says he hopes that, in light of these findings, future negotiations will not take on the same shape as they did when PSAC declared an impasse.  “The reactions that weve seen so far from the Treasury Board have been nothing but disrespectful,” Aylward said. “There’s total disrespect for their employees by saying no to everything that we have on the table.” Aylward said that to address inflation, the government must tax the rich rather than offer subpar wage increases to workers.  “If workers dont start standing up and pushing back, were just gonna keep falling further and further behind,” Aylward said. “We cant allow that to happen when corporations, financial institutions and oil and gas industries are making record profits. If the government truly wants to fight inflation, then they need to pay all workers fairly.”  The post PSAC says public-sector investment will fight inflation appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Economy, Labour, inflation, PSAC]

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[l] at 9/13/22 8:07am
It’s like the time loop in the movie Groundhog Day. Waking up and experiencing repeated harms over and over – except it’s not a fantasy. In 2003 I gave a speech at the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. I called it ‘The New Reality: Nursing in Crisis. The Necessary Reality: Fight Back.’ “Whether you work in a hospital, a chronic care facility, or on the street, as a nurse today in Canada you are working in a war zone. There has been a targeted and strategic war on nursing in every province right across this country. You know the consequences of this war: layoffs, part-time and contract work, privatization, contracting out, reduction in benefits, marginalization, to name just a few. I use the war metaphor carefully. I have written about war, about nurses’ involvement in war and peace movements. I know that part of our history derives from the militarization of nursing. But I do believe that we are working in a war zone because the same government policies that have diminished the possibilities of caring, that have made it impossible for nurses to do their job, these are the same government policies that reduce or eliminate social programs such as affordable housing, employment insurance, welfare, and disability programs. These are the same purposeful policies that support privatization, profits over people, a two-tiered health system and user fees. They are the same policies that have led to the Walkerton water tragedy and have left us without the resources to deal with emerging health emergencies such as tuberculosis and SARS. They are the policies that continue to cause great pain, suffering, homelessness, malnutrition, and death.” At the time, I was running a nursing outreach program for unhoused people at a community health centre. I witnessed the consequences of cutbacks to social spending made even more apparent by the SARS outbreak in Toronto. I went to a lot of funerals. Bottom line, the term “street nurse,” which I have always used as a political term, exists because the health care system was unable to respond to the needs of unhoused people and governments had allowed the homelessness disaster to escalate. Waking up, year after year the horrors continue, except unlike in the film Groundhog Day this is not a comedy. Health care workers, their unions and health coalitions have steadfastly spoken out, documented staffing shortfalls, warned about privatization, contracting out and deskilling yet here we are. The concept of ‘fight back’ has mostly been limited to studies, lawn signs and meetings. Today, a global pandemic still ravages our health care system. Attacks on nurses on the rise The 7 p.m. banging on pots and pans in support of health care workers is long finished. A few lonely neon hearts for healthcare workers still glow in windows a reminder of those rallying times. Meanwhile emergency room closures hopscotch across the country, mostly due to nursing shortages. Nurses are getting sick, or their families get sick as governments reduce public health COVID precautions. Most worrisome is the number of nurses who are experiencing trauma and violence. Many are leaving the profession. Wage caps and wage suppression, most notoriously enforced by Bill 124 in Ontario fuel the lived experience that nurses are not valued. I have long argued that nurses are only valued at times of war or physician shortage. Canadian nurses recruited for military duty during WWI led to a nursing shortage at home. This resulted in improved working conditions to be competitive in the job market and a substantive expansion of nursing schools. The WWII recruitment of nurses played on nurses’ steadfastness, courage, and devotion, not unlike today’s ‘appreciation’ in the pandemic. Economic incentives were established for married women to enter nursing and childcare was provided – incentives that were eliminated after the war. So much for appreciation. A few positive outcomes for the profession lingered after the war such as the establishment of nursing specialties such as treatment of burns, and full officer status for some nurses who stayed in the military. I personally benefited from free nursing education including room and board. Physician shortages and medical dominance in the health care system colliding with nursing’s desire to expand its scope resulted in a nurse practitioner movement that had its ups and downs. When I worked as a nurse practitioner, what I was allowed to do often depended on who the doctors were. It was a rare physician comfortable with nursing’s scope of practice. In the early 2000s I spoke at a Queen’s Park rally in Toronto that was co-sponsored by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) and a provincial doctors’ group. Prior to the rally, I was sent written directions by the RNAO to not mention nurse practitioners in my speech. Today, there are some wins on the nurse practitioner front however primarily in areas of physician shortage or disinterest. People who care about health care and working people recently lost a champion in Barbara Ehrenreich, an important thinker and writer on nursing and women in the workforce. With Deirdre English in Witches, Midwives & Nurses she wrote: “…the drive to professionalize nursing, is, at best, a flight from the reality of sexism in the health system. At worst, it is sexist itself, deepening the division among women health workers and bolstering the hierarchy controlled by men.” The drive to professionalize nursing included the move to a four-year baccalaureate degree as entry to practice for registered nurses, thus diminishing the community college nursing programs that were both accessible and affordable to many. Professionalization included a push for men to enter nursing to improve the image of nursing. Professionalization included a new emphasis on something called nursing diagnoses and nursing theory and courses such as ‘Integrate Nursing Science Theory. Research and Inquiry’ and ‘Critical Reflexivity: Theory as Practice.’ Hierarchies of nursing were created. Today, nursing care is provided by the degree nurses (RN), by registered practical nurses (RPN), by lay practical nurses (LPN), by the newly created personal support worker (PSW) and home support worker (HSW) category and a list too long to go into here. Not yet available, but coming soon is a new PSW course that includes six-week online training and four-month paid placement funded by the federal government – this development due to PSW shortage. Professionalization deadened organized nursing’s attention to social justice both within and outside of nursing. There is an expression my very wise nurse mother used to repeat: ‘Nursing eats their young.’  I will go one step further. We, as a society, are cannibalizing nursing. Both young and old, degree or no degree, nursing lives are being decimated and nurses are left to witness obscene conditions and patient suffering. Governments are not treating this as a health care and long-term care crisis. As Naomi Klein wrote in This Changes Everything, Clearly what gets declared a crisis is an expression of power and priorities as much as hard facts. But we need not be spectators in all this: politicians arent the only ones with the power to declare a crisis. Mass movements of regular people can declare one too. Yes, we can. As writer and activist Rebecca Solnit wrote: “Making an injury visible and public is usually the first step in remedying it, and political change often follows culture, as what was long tolerated is seen to be intolerable, or what was overlooked becomes obvious.” Nurses like Birgit Uwaila Umaigba, and the ‘Gritty Nurse’ podcasters Amie Archibald-Varley and Sara Fung have been part of making the injuries and intolerable conditions visible. We need new and refreshed solidarity movements now. Think of Ontario’s Days of Action in the 1990s. Think of the struggle for women to get the vote. Think of the fight for other human rights worldwide. We need, what I called in a Winnipeg speech, ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’, a labour and popular movement that will stir a wind for social change, that will stir people, energize and warm people, compel people to gather and protest and fight to win. The post The war on nurses feels like Groundhog Day appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Health, Labour, Nurses]

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