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[l] at 9/27/23 11:42am
I have had the privilege of being able to champion the cause of human rights on the pages of this fine magazine—and, god knows, there are plenty of violations of rights to talk about in the 21st century! In my own work on behalf of victims, I have focussed particularly on rights violations among powerless children who suffered early institutional trauma which has had lasting, life-long effects, leaving their nightmarish imprint on both bodies and souls. Now elderly, these childhood victims of perverted provincial authority and power from so many decades ago, still walk among us daily, still carrying their pain and grief like a silent disease, condemned by their original oppressors in church and state to be treated like lepers, untouchables, undeserving of justice or reparation for their mistreatment. In a flagrant abuse of their civil powers, these authorities were guilty of criminal mistreatment of innocent children, condemning them, not to sad death, but to tragic life.  Which is why I now want to propose that these living stricken deserve a public memorial as much as dead heroes deserve a cenotaph. We must find public ways to express our sympathy, share their grief, encourage reflection, in order to recognise and memorialise their plight. Let us strive to honor Pope Francis’s ultimate challenge to victimisation made in Quebec City in July 2022 —“NEVER AGAIN!” Where can we find inspiration for our resolve to remember the living as well as the dead? When I wrote about this historical, social, cultural obligation last June, I invoked the 9/11 annual memorials as a paradigm, not only for remembrance, but also for national solidarity. I felt that the event, and the courageous reactions to it, could help us remember all victims, everywhere, who share our common humanity. In that spirit of bearing witness, my exhortation “Lest we forget” was offered as a rallying cry.  My inspiration then was a sister (Anthoula Katsimatides) who had lost her brother John at 9/11, yet urged us to “take the torch and pass it on”, for the future good of mankind. And at this year’s 9/11 Memorial (dare I say “festival of life”?) in New York City, we were again exhorted to bear witness to collective tragedy as our obligation, not just to victims and survivors, but also to future generations. This time the message was delivered by Jay Winuk who lost his brother, Glenn, in the attacks. Effectively carrying Anthoula’s torch, Jay participated in a volunteer initiative called “9/11 Day” which “… aimed to transform Sept. 11 from a day of tragedy to one of service.” As reported by the New York Times, Jay’s brother “Glenn Winuk was a volunteer firefighter who was at home getting ready for work at Holland & Knight, the law firm where he was a partner, when he saw the first plane hit the North Tower on television. He ran to the scene and died trying to help evacuate his firm’s offices in the South Tower”……. “For me, personally, it’s cathartic.”  Jay Winuk, 65, said of the service day he helped create. “It’s a great tradition to hand off to the next generation, which is so important to us, because 100 million people in this country weren’t even born when 9/11 happened.” Survivors of tragedy like Anthoula and Jay teach us how to create new birth after death so that society’s loss will not have been in vain. 9/11 is a universal teachable moment that the past should inspire the future, that tragedy can be redeemable via right acts. In this new vision of past, present, and future, the living and the dead gain reciprocal privileges: our elderly Canadian survivors become new foster brothers to bereaved 65-year-old Jay Winuk in New York, while his narrative, in turn, offers them a pathway to guide them in their quest for a healing catharsis of justice and reconciliation. And that is the memorial lesson I want us to learn here. Just as we formally memorialise the victims of fatal tragedy, like Glenn and John, let us also cherish the memory of the living survivors of human tragedy, like our elderly Canadians abandoned by their oppressors. They too need to know that we, their fellow citizens, have not abandoned them, that they can still enjoy expectations of recognition, of support for their rights—to know, regardless, that “je me souviens”— we remember! The post In memoriam: Remember the living and the dead appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Political Action]

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[l] at 9/27/23 9:53am
As scientists warn that we’ve pushed the planet “well outside the safe operating space for humanity” and young people march for their futures, the fossil fuel industry campaigns to keep its products, and the world, burning. Industry’s push for continued global energy market dominance accounts for the climate emergency in the most cynical way. Most of its proposed climate “solutions” are expensive ways to enable continued digging, fracking, pumping and profiting as the world overheats. Rather than helping rapidly transition from products proven to be fuelling an accelerating crisis, companies are backing away from renewable energy and doubling down on polluting products such as oilsands bitumen. Touting fracked methane gas as a “natural” transition fuel, and promoting expensive, largely unproven technologies like carbon capture as solutions to rising emissions — and asking taxpayers to subsidize them — are some ploys industry is using to stay alive and make money, no matter the consequences to human lives and planetary health. Executives admit that technologies such as carbon capture are designed to help preserve their interests. “This gives our industry a license to continue to operate for the 60, 70, 80 years that I think it’s going to be very much needed,” Occidental Petroleum head Vicki Hollub said of carbon capture at a conference this year. “We are going to pay an oil company to pump crap out of the ground and then pay them to put some back in — it’s plainly obvious this isn’t a climate solution,” Project Drawdown executive director Jonathan Foley said in the Guardian. The industry is also on a global campaign to sell “natural” gas, often using misleading or false information in the face of research showing, for example, that heat pumps are far more cost-effective, efficient and less polluting than gas — even in cold winter months! We’re experiencing the consequences of continued reliance on fossil fuels: heat domes, droughts, floods, insect infestations, water shortages, more extreme and unpredictable weather, climate migrants… Industry’s own scientists warned as far back as the 1950s that using oil, gas and coal as intended could cause such impacts. We’ve had decades to transition to a clean energy economy, but industry and its front groups, media allies, PR companies and “captured” politicians have slowed progress to the point where rapid and far more disruptive change is now needed. An assessment in Science Advances found six of nine “planetary boundaries” — global system thresholds — have been crossed and we’re on the brink of two others. Four of the most vital biological boundaries are at or near the highest risk level. This means “the systems have been driven far from the safe and stable state that existed from the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago, to the start of the industrial revolution,” the Guardian reports. Although the boundaries don’t mark irreversible tipping points, “they are points after which the risks of fundamental changes in the Earth’s physical, biological and chemical life support systems rise significantly.” Boundaries have been exceeded in biosphere integrity, climate change, novel entities (synthetic chemicals and substances, nuclear waste and weapons, etc.), land system change, freshwater change and biogeochemical flows. We’re also reaching critical points for ocean acidification and atmospheric aerosol loading. The only one we’ve retreated from is “stratospheric ozone depletion,” thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer — demonstrating that international cooperation works! “If you want to have security, prosperity and equity for humanity on Earth, you have to come back into the safe space and we’re not seeing that progress currently in the world,” said former Stockholm Resilience Centre director Johan Rockström, who led the team that developed the boundaries framework. Why aren’t we seeing that progress? The fault lies largely with the fossil fuel industry, which has used false and deceptive information to sow doubt and confusion about the ever-increasing evidence of its role in the crisis — often contradicting its own scientists — to slow or stall climate action. But we’re also living with outdated economic systems based on a limited understanding of nature and our place in it. Enough is enough. We must listen to scientists, youth, Indigenous Peoples and environmentalists. We have to reject industry deception and embrace new ways of seeing and being that respect nature and its limits. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with David Suzuki Foundation Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at davidsuzuki.org. The post Climate strikes underscore need to end fossil fuels appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, fracking, heat pumps, oilsands]

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[l] at 9/27/23 9:40am
There’s a perverse rationality to my psychosis. It begins as whispers on the wind.  A voice calling my name. Demonic faces appearing and then vanishing. A man narrating my thoughts and actions wherever I go. Bizarre interpretations follow from bizarre experiences.  I have a divine mission, like a prophet of old. How else can I explain the omnipresent demonic legions haunting my steps? I exist on the schizophrenia spectrum. That puts me in the same camp as those with schizoaffective disorder; schizophreniform disorder; other specified and unspecified schizophrenia spectrum disorders; and, of course, schizophrenia itself.  But aside from my propensity to lose touch with reality every few months, I’m a fairly typical twenty something-year-old woman. And that “but” is everything. I have schizophrenia. But I don’t usually talk to myself in public. I have schizophrenia. But I’m usually pretty good about hiding my delusions. I have schizophrenia. But it’s well-managed. I have schizophrenia. But I can generally keep up with my law school classes, feed myself, and manage my hygiene. I have schizophrenia. But, but, but… But most days, you wouldn’t know I have an illness so horrifying some psychiatrists withhold the diagnosis from their patients for fear of triggering anxiety and despair. You wouldn’t know I’m a mad woman.  That’s because, by the usual measures of psycho-social functioning—ability to hold a job, continue with schooling, maintain interpersonal relationships, care for my hygiene and general well-being—I am a “high functioning” schizophrenic.  It’s a label some who share my diagnostic label wear with pride, all the more so in recent years as more and more people have come forward to share their stories of being both successful and schizophrenic.  After all, advocates say, schizophrenics can be lawyers, business people, and teachers—anything we want to be—provided we receive the proper combination of treatment and support. Give us the right anti-psychotics, teach us to challenge our hallucinations and delusions with rational thought, make sure we’re getting a good night’s sleep, and you’ll see: we’re not so different from everyone else.  But a person with a “high functioning” schizophrenia is still on the schizophrenia spectrum. And that’s the rub: it does make us different.  For the past month, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the number of white cars on my street. By my count, there are currently seven of them. The Illuminati drives white cars—I know this to be true the same way I know that a blue sky means the sun is out. They’re after me. They’ve been after me from the beginning.  The more white cars there are on my street, the more closely I am being surveilled. White is the most common car colour. I am always being watched. The delusions I’ve been suffering from off-and-on for the past month are known as “breakthrough symptoms on anti-psychotic maintenance medication.” It’s a technical way of saying that I’m still symptomatic despite faithfully taking my anti-psychotics. It’s a technical way of saying that I’m still sick.  What the ‘high functioning’ label doesn’t capture The “high functioning” label erases or otherwise minimizes more of my experience of life on the schizophrenia spectrum than it embraces.  I will live with my illness for the rest of my life—there is no cure. And that means I will have to work every day to maintain my grasp on the real world; knowing that even if I take my medications, spend hour after hour in psychotherapy, and am diligent about applying the skills I have learned to manage my symptoms, my hold on reality will still slip every now and again.  Whether because of stress or the capriciousness of fate, my madness will strike again.   “High functioning” implies normalcy, remission, and recovery—when what I have is an illness that sometimes requires more support, sometimes less, but that is ever present.  I can be high functioning one day and low functioning the next. I can be high functioning in some ways and low functioning in others. But regardless of the day or the way, I exist on the schizophrenia spectrum. That’s never going to change.  In fact, I have more in common with my “low functioning” siblings on the schizophrenia spectrum than I do with people who do not share my illness at all.  Where the “high functioning” label suggests that I am somehow different—better, even—than them, I see commonality.  I, too, know what it’s like to lose touch with the real world. To be plagued by the hallucinations and delusions that are caricatured in Hollywood depictions of our illness—and by the cognitive and emotional deficits that aren’t so easily portrayed. To fear what the medical system will do—involuntary admissions, restraints, locked rooms—when its powers to heal fail.  Above all, that reality is a gift not easily regained once lost.  We need unity not division Function labels divide when what we need to be doing is uniting: against stigma, medical violence, and our illness itself; and for a more hospitable world for the chronically ill.  Whether low functioning or high functioning, we share the same illness and the same political goals.  All of us stand to gain if comprehensive mental health services become freely and readily available to all, but especially those in the earliest stages of the illness when the prognosis is most malleable. All of us stand to gain if hospital psychiatric care is reformed to become more humane to patients in crisis, but especially those whose illness is most impervious to outpatient treatment. All of us stand to gain if those with schizophrenia are provided disability benefits sufficient to allow us to lead fulfilling lives, but especially those whose illness prevents them from working. All of us stand to gain from these things because all of us stand to lose everything to our illness. And until all of us are secure in the knowledge that this world will accommodate us no matter how sick we become, all of us are at risk.  Everyone’s experience of the schizophrenia spectrum is different.  I’m symptomatic today, but I might not be tomorrow.  I’m barely able to work today, but that might not be the case tomorrow. I’m “low functioning” today, but I might be “high functioning” tomorrow.  By using such labels, we flatten the schizophrenia spectrum into a two-dimensional binary when it is anything but.  This is a set of illnesses for which different sufferers require different degrees of support at different times.  So don’t minimize the symptoms I’m currently experiencing just because I need less support to live with them, now, than I did when they first appeared. At the same time, don’t stigmatize those with more debilitating symptoms just because they’re having more difficulty getting by.  I’m no more or less schizophrenic than they are. I’m no better or worse than they are. My illness is just manifesting in different ways. And that might change tomorrow. Stop calling me “high functioning.” It’s an ableist label I do not want and will not accept. I’m just schizophrenic. The post I’m not a ‘high functioning’ schizophrenic appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Health, healthcare, mental health, schizophrenia, well-being]

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[l] at 9/26/23 2:36pm
When all members of Canada’s parliament gave a standing ovation to a man who had sworn allegiance to Hitler – as a member of the Waffen-SS – what should have been a triumphant visit for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy turned into a disaster. Many are asking how it came to be that House of Commons speaker Anthony Rota invited the man in question, Yaroslav Hunka, to occupy a seat of honour for Zelenskyy’s address to the House of Commons.  The speaker never fully explained, but he did fall on his sword.  After two party leaders, a number of other MPs, and some senior cabinet ministers openly called on Rota to resign, he did just that. But the Hunka affair is not over, or, at least, it should not be. While it might be instructive to know how it came to pass that Rota issued his now-notorious invitation, that’s not the most important question. The most pressing and relevant question is: How did Hunka get into Canada in the first place?  The SS were a professional murder and torture outfit During World War II, Yaroslav Hunka volunteered to be part of Nazi dictator Hitler’s personal militia, the Schutzstaffel or SS. He was a member of the 14th Waffen (armed) Grenadier division of the SS, also known as the Galician division. Nobody forced Hunka into that role. He signed up willingly.  The SS was not the regular German army, the Wehrmacht. Originally set up in the 1920s to provide “security” at Nazi party events, the SS morphed into Adolf Hitler’s chief instrument of terror, torture and murder.  Hitler and SS leader Heinrich Himmler directed SS members to employ brutal and ruthless methods to assure the “racial purity” of the Nazi Reich.  The paramilitary organization grew from a handful of party loyalists in the early 1920s, to over 50,000 at the time Hitler took power in 1933, to 800,000 at the height of World War II, in the early 1940s. At the outset of the war, during the invasion of Poland, SS units specialized in burning whole villages (including their inhabitants), and mercilessly massacring unarmed children, women and men. As the war advanced, and the Nazis seized more territory (including a good part of the former Soviet Union), the SS invented what is now known as the Holocaust-by-bullet.  SS troops rounded up large groups of populations to be exterminated, especially Jews, brought them to open fields, forced them to disrobe and dig large ditches, and then shot them in cold blood. The most notorious of such massacres happened at Babi Yar, in Ukraine.  SS troops were also responsible for the numerous Nazi death camps scattered throughout Europe, among them Auschwitz-Birkenau and Mauthausen. There, as we know all too well, millions perished in gas chambers, while others died of starvation and disease, or were worked to death. By the end of the war, the SS included many units of non-Germans, including Croatians, Albanians, Cossacks, Tatars and Ukrainians.  Yaroslav Hunka joined one of those units, and was proud of it for the rest of his life. We know that because he said so, quite publicly, many times.  After the war, Hunka managed to settle in the U.K. Then, in 1954, he emigrated to Canada. By that time, western countries, including Canada, had, in effect, decided to turn the page on the Nazis and their crimes.  Cold War supersedes justice for victims of Nazis  In 1945, at the conclusion of World War II, the wartime allies – including not only western countries such as the US and France, but also the Soviet Union – set up an unprecedented War Crimes Tribunal to try the leaders of the Nazi regime.  The Tribunal, which convened in the historic German city of Nuremberg, found a handful of those leaders guilty. It sentenced some, including the last living senior SS commander, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, to death and others to long prison terms.  But not too long after that, the West switched its focus. There was a new war now, the Cold War, and a new adversary, our erstwhile ally, the USSR. That’s how Nazi collaborators and sympathizers such as Hunka came to be seen not as war criminals, but as reliable anti-communists. Canada welcomed many as regular immigrants.  In the 1985, partly in response to reports that the Nazi angel of death at Auschwitz, Dr. Josef Mengele, might have found refuge in this country, the Canadian government of Brian Mulroney set up a Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, headed by Justice Jules Deschênes. Mengele never made it to Canada, but the Commission found that many other Nazis and Nazi collaborators did.  Experts and advocates who testified to Deschênes gave widely varied numbers, from a low in the hundreds to a high of 3,000. But nobody denied that Canada had been a safe haven for people who did not deserve any sort of haven.  Curiously, while Deschênes’ report characterized former members of the Waffen-SS, to which Hunka belonged, as Nazi collaborators, it did not label them war criminals.  But there is much that the Commission did uncover we still do not know. The government of Canada has never seen fit to make the entire Deschênes report public.  Notably, successive Canadian governments have heavily censored much of the section Alti Rodal, the Commission’s chief historian, wrote, entitled: “Nazi War Criminals in Canada: The Historical and Policy Setting from the 1940s to the Present”.  And all governments have entirely suppressed Part II of the Commission report, which named names, addressing individual cases.  As well, to this day, the Canadian government carefully guards and keeps out of public view hundreds of Nazi war crimes files – files which were at one time property of the RCMP and the Justice Department.  As recently as this past July, David Matas, senior counsel to B’nai Brith Canada, was calling for release of this crucial information.  Matas wrote, in an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail: “The Holocaust ended in 1945, more than 78 years ago. The Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals reported almost 37 years ago. The Canadian effort to bring Nazi war criminals to justice has ended. The survivors are fast disappearing.” There are still a few Holocaust survivors alive to bear witness to the beyond-horrific events – which many, over the years, have tried to downplay or outright deny. But Matas points out the obvious: sometime in the near future we will have no more firsthand witnesses. All we will have is the written record, which is why many believe making that record fully public is more important than ever.  A hot potato for Canadian politicians of all parties If and when those files see the light of day, there are certain to be Canadian politicians and other officials, both living and dead, whose reputations will suffer.  In 1987, for instance, the New York Times reported, based on Alti Rodal’s work, that Louis St. Laurent, Liberal prime minister from 1948 to 1957, agreed to admit a Slovak Nazi collaborator to settle in Canada, upon a direct request from Pope Pius XII.  Rodal is also said to have noted that St. Laurent personally contacted Nazi collaborators from Vichy France who settled in Quebec after French courts convicted them, in absentia, of war crimes.  Others point the finger at another former prime minister: the current PM’s father, Pierre Trudeau. There are reports that as justice minister in the mid-1960s, and later as prime minister, the elder Trudeau worked to head off prosecutions of suspected war criminals. Indeed, over the years, Canadian politicians of all stripes have considered the Nazi war criminals file to be a hot potato they would rather not touch.  They have feared offending powerful ethnic communities who are well established in this country, and were reluctant to re-open old wounds and provoke bad feelings between those ethnic groups and Canada’s Jews.  That’s probably why Mulroney gave Deschênes an excessively narrow mandate.  He limited the Commission’s scope, and would not allow it to consult Soviet and Eastern European archives. Diaspora groups in Canada insisted such evidence would be unreliable.  In the wake of the Hunka affair, B’nai Brith Canada is again calling on the government to open “all Holocaust-related records to the public”. “Canadians,” the Jewish organization says, “deserve to know the full extent to which Nazi war criminals were permitted to settle in this country after the war.” For his part, Matas underscored his point by citing Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana.  In the very first years of the 20th century, Santayana undertook an ambitious project of the sort that has since become unfashionable. He attempted to write an all-encompassing, comprehensive philosophy, in the grand tradition of Plato, Aristotle, Kant and Hegel. Santayana called his four-volume effort The Life of Reason. The first volume is Reason in Common Sense, and the last line of that book is: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Politicians often like associating themselves with common sense – or, as they say more poetically, in French, “le gros bon sens”. Pierre Poilievre did that at last month’s Conservative convention. Well, one philosopher whom few, sadly, read today, has some common-sense wisdom for today’s Canadian parliamentarians.  Will they heed that advice? The post Speaker quits but consequences of honouring a member of the SS are not over appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Holocaust, Nazis]

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[l] at 9/25/23 11:35am
Charles Dickens wasn’t thinking of the twenty-first century when he penned these  opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, but they work as a pretty good caption for the current era, and for the decisive season of contract bargaining and strikes facing auto workers on both sides of the US/Canada border this fall. For the first time in decades, the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the US and Unifor in Canada were in a position to take strike action against the auto industry’s Big Three: Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (the recently formed multinational that owns 14 brands around the world, including Chrysler and Jeep) at the same time. Auto workers could be poised to make labour history again, as they did in the heroic era of sit down strikes and factory seizures in the 1930s. But some observers  on the left worry that this historic opportunity for workers is going to be squandered in a flurry of compromise and sell out, and meanwhile the business press is uttering shrill cries of alarm about how any serious work stoppage in the industry will be bad for “the economy,” (AKA corporate profits.) Little is heard from these pro-business pundits about whether annual CEO pay at the Big Three, up 40 per cent in the last four years and ranging between $21 million and  $29 million dollars last year, is a similar threat to the economy. Whether viewed from the left or the right, the situation in the North American auto industry is a very big deal indeed. The two unions involved share a complex history. Canada’s Unifor, the country’s largest private sector union, with over 300,000 members across the country, represents over 18,000 auto workers at Big Three plants in Canada. Unionized auto workers in Canada split from the UAW in 1985 to form the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), which in turn merged in 2013 with the Canadian Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) to form Unifor. Unifor left the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) in 2018 in a dispute over Unifor raids launched against other CLC member unions, while the UAW remains a member of the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the umbrella organization that links most American unions. The UAW contract with the Big Three expired on September 14 of this year, and the American union, which represents nearly 150,000 American autoworkers, announced a new strike tactic it called “stand up strikes.” This involved selective work stoppages at one plant from each of the Big Three producers, a marked departure from the “pattern bargaining” tactic that has been traditional in auto disputes. In pattern bargaining, the union first chooses one company and focuses on getting a contract with that employer, then turns its attention to other employers with the first agreement serving as a pattern for the next agreements. In Canada, Unifor has maintained the pattern bargaining tactic, focusing first on Ford. After granting the employer an extra day of bargaining past what had been seen as a strike deadline, Unifor announced on September 19 it had reached a tentative agreement with Ford, with membership voting to approve the contract over the weekend.. Meanwhile, south of the border, the UAW announced on September 22 that it was expanding “stand up” strike action to shut down 38 more General Motors and Stellantis plants across 20 states. Ford is noticeably missing from the list of new actions announced, and UAW head Shawn Fain indicated that enough progress had been made in Ford negotiations that the union was not expanding its actions at Ford, yet. In a statement posted on the UAW website, Fain said: “As you know, we gave our Members Demands to the company two months ago. They wasted a whole month failing to respond. But there has been movement. In particular, we’ve made real progress at Ford. We’re not there yet, but I want you to see the direction that Ford is going, and what we think that means for our contract fight. At Ford, Rawsonville Components and Sterling Axle employees will now be on the same wage scale as assembly workers. We have eliminated that entire wage tier. At Ford, we have officially reinstated the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA_ that was suspended in 2009.” Meanwhile, going into a weekend in which Canadian auto workers will vote on a contract with Ford recommended by Unifor bargainers and UAW pickets go up at more US auto plants, while leaving most UAW members on the job, the resolution of the current disputes remains uncertain. Leadership of both unions have been criticized by observers on both the right and the left, with the reliably pro-business Wall Street Journal quoted an op-ed by General Motors President Mark Reuss that accused the UAW of spreading myths about what the companies can afford, and the World Socialist Website called for more militance and less compromise from union leadership, saying “The trade union bureaucracies on both sides of the Canada-US border are pulling out all the stops to sabotage the contract struggles of nearly 170,000 auto workers across North America.” What many observers to the left of Unifor and UAW leadership would like to see is a continent-wide strike of auto workers in Canada, the US and Mexico with militant demands to shift some of  the profits from the industry away from already overpaid CEOs to the workers who actually build the cars and generate the profits. This is a compelling vision, and it is hard to fault it on the grounds of simple fairness. We are unlikely to see such a tri-national campaign this autumn, but the predictably flawed contracts most likely to emerge from this round of contract talks may well make more workers sympathetic to this more radical vision in the future. The post A tale of two contracts: Auto workers on both sides of the border face consequential decisions appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour, UAW, Unifor]

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[l] at 9/25/23 8:52am
The Toronto Women’s Bookstore (TWB) was always political. It began in 1973 as some shelves at the Woman’s Place. The main location was on the first floor of 93 Harbord St. between Bathurst and Spadina.     By 1983, it had already become a beloved institution in Toronto’s feminist community. During this same period, the pro-choice struggle had become a central issue within feminist activism. Throughout, the bookstore supported the Morgentaler Clinic, which was located directly above the bookstore. Our customers were often hassled by anti-abortion zealots who demonstrated in front of the clinic, and in front of the bookstore. One evening, one of them tried to throw a firebomb into the clinic, missed and destroyed the Toronto Women’s Bookstore instead. The tremendous support from the feminist movement for TWB was immediate and permitted us to move to our permanent home at 73 Harbord St., where it remained until 2012. May Lui was a customer service and administration casual worker for a year, then became co-Manager with Anjula Gogia in 1997. This was a time of revitalization for TWB. 1998 was the 25th anniversary of the bookstore. We planned new programs and community connections to celebrate this new stage. In the fall of 1998 famed US author Alice Walker was on tour with her new book By the Light of My Father’s Smile and TWB organized the launch in Toronto. Tickets to the event were sold out, and the event itself was a huge success, the biggest event in TWB’s history. We started a monthly book club open to everyone at low costs. We invited instructors to pitch four-week classes on different topics related to women, books, and social issues. Based on some of the content, and the preferences of the instructors, some courses were only open to women of colour. TWB had found that with limited spaces (10-12 spots per course) sometimes a course based on issues relating to women of colour became over-booked with white participants. Deciding to limit registration to 50 per cent or 100 per cent women of colour was new to our community. We frequently had to explain to customers why such spaces were important. All staff were trained to respond to such inquiries, so that it wasn’t only one of the women of colour managers that spoke to the issue. These conversations, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, sometimes resulted in a loss of customers. They were a small echo of tensions from over a decade before, when the first staff of colour at TWB had their own struggles within the predominantly white feminist bookselling and publishing communities of the time. Some issues included the lack of space given to women writers of colour. Relatedly, Huda Hassan, who will be hosting the 50th anniversary celebration of TWB, recently wrote an article for CBC about what happened when a now-prominent group of Black and women of colour writers, suggested they edit a women of colour issue of Fireweed in the early 1980s.  As much as possible, events were free. When ticket costs had to be added to offset expenses, there was a sliding scale, and nobody was turned away if they couldn’t pay. This principle was incorporated into how events were organized. All events not on-site were in accessible venues. While the TWB’s main floor was accessible, the basement and washrooms were not.  Even though we were a store, anyone who visited wasn’t required to spend money on books and other items. If you wanted to, you could come to TWB and peruse/read the books and magazines gently, check out the local feminist poetry zines, and see what free events were happening in Toronto via the posters and flyers, photocopied handbills and glossy postcards that different community groups dropped off.  In the pre-internet days, there was a literal hanging file folder in the front entryway for people looking for roommates, housing, shared rides to the then-popular Michigan Women’s Music Festival, items for sale. All of this was a part of free services offered to the community. In the mid 1990s, while we did have email and internet, promotion remained old school. We paid graphic designers to produce gorgeous posters and promotion for different TWB events. But still, we went out into the streets of different downtown neighbourhoods to poster and distribute flyers. Our button collection became quite famous. May was the button buyer for a time and hugely enjoyed looking through the newest button catalogues, finding funny and sometimes political buttons for customers to read, laugh about, and possibly buy.  The landscape of independent bookselling had changed a great deal by 2012. Both online book sales and large bookstore chains had taken over much of the Canadian bookselling space. Despite great efforts by the community, and the owner who took over the store in 2010, TWB had to close its doors in 2012. People always say that TWB was more than just a bookstore, and it was. Toronto, and Canada, lost a vibrant, political, feminist, queer, and anti-racist community hub when TWB had to close its doors. Many of us still miss it, 11 years later. This year, 2023, TWB would have turned 50 years old. We’re celebrating and commemorating this wonderful bookstore on Tuesday October 10, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. at Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. W. in Toronto. The event is free, all advanced tickets are sold out but there is a waiting list.  A full list of performers, writers, and speakers is viewable on the event listing on Facebook, which will also post updates regarding rush seats the night of the event.  If you aren’t on Facebook and would like updates about the event, contact us at twb50party@gmail.com. To livestream the event, click on this YouTube link on Tuesday October 10 at 6:30 p.m. ET.  The event will also be recorded, so if you aren’t able to be there in person or watch it live, the recording will be hosted on the Toronto Women’s Bookstore’s page on the Rise Up website.  …… May Lui is a consultant and educator. She is the former manager and events coordinator at Toronto Women’s Bookstore and continues to have many unread books in piles all over her home. Check out May’s website here.  Judy Rebick is a writer and activist who was a good friend of the Toronto Women’s Bookstore. The post Reflections about Toronto Women’s Bookstore appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Feminism, Toronto Women's Bookstore]

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[l] at 9/23/23 8:00am
Dear rabble rousers,  Today is the final day of our summer fundraising campaign.  We had an ambitious fundraising goal this year — and, thanks to you supporting us all summer long, we’ve made 80 per cent of this goal!  In the final hours of our summer campaign, can you help us make our goal and raise $5000?  We know this summer wasn’t easy for Canadians. We were met with some of the hottest-ever recorded temperatures, wildfires and community evacuations, and an all-time high cost of living.  And all summer long, you proved to us how much you value rabble’s coverage (not only on these topics, but of much, much more) by rising up and gifting us with the donations you were able to. We know it wasn’t easy; so thank you.  We want you to know that we take your support seriously; and we’re saying goodbye to summer with an even stronger determination to share the news and views that most matters to you.  This fall, we’re looking forward to:  Introducing a new Executive Director to lead our team and develop new relationships with new labour, activist and 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations; Introducing a new Jack Layton Journalism for Change fellow to share national news through a social-justice lens;  A return to some of rabble readers’ favourite series and panels including Courage My Friends and Off the Hill;  And so much more.  We can’t wait to have you along for the ride. After all, we couldn’t do it without you.  Of course, even though our summer campaign wraps at midnight, that doesn’t mean your support is no longer needed. We need your support 365 days a year, and we are always accepting new monthly donors and one-time gifts. It’s never too late to become a rabble rouser.  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 supported us on social media. Please continue spreading the good word of independent media. Together, we can uphold media democracy! With gratitude, Breanne Doyle, managing editorOn behalf of the entire rabble team The post Thank you for supporting us all summer long appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: General, fundraising]

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[l] at 9/22/23 3:35pm
“Humanity has opened the gates of hell,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his welcome to world leaders at the first ever UN Climate Ambition Summit, convened during this year’s UN General Assembly. “Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects. Distraught farmers watching crops carried away by floods, sweltering temperatures spawning disease and thousands fleeing in fear as historic fires rage. Climate action is dwarfed by the scale of the challenge.” Guterres was likely invoking Dante’s epic medieval poem, The Inferno. In it, Dante describes being led by the Greek poet Virgil through the nine circles of hell after passing through gates bearing the warning, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Given the increasing frequency and intensity of climate-driven extreme weather disasters, Guterres’ reference to The Inferno is frighteningly timely; we are entering something akin to the nine circles of catastrophic climate change. Yet, despite what Guterres rightly describes as “the scale of the challenge,” many people around the world are refusing to abandon hope. Climate activists, scientists, water and land defenders and others who deeply care about the future of the planet are stepping up, from the frontlines and fencelines of impacted communities to the heart of global capitalism on Wall Street. Last Sunday, an estimated 75,000 people marched through Manhattan, rallying near the United Nations headquarters. Though it was a message to world leaders, the banner on the rally stage read, “Biden: End Fossil Fuels.” “We need to have leaders understand: Get out of fossil fuel now,” Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and chairperson of the Elders, an independent group of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, said at the rally news conference. “We’re in a climate and nature crisis, and we have to move much more rapidly…all governments are not doing enough. But those most responsible are not doing nearly enough: the United States, the European Union, but also countries, big emitters like Russia, China, India, Saudi Arabia.” The march was accompanied by a series of direct actions, with 149 protesters arrested outside of New York’s Federal Reserve Bank, as part of a growing movement challenging the financial backers of the fossil fuel industry. “Climate chaos is not in some distant future,” Renata Pumarol, organizer at Climate Defenders, said on the Democracy Now! news hour. “The only way to stop the fossil fuel industry is to stop the financing of fossil fuels. That’s why this week hundreds of activists targeted the financiers of fossil fuels, like BlackRock, KKR, Citibank, and Bank of America.” Among the many protests, activists shut down MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, for its close connection to its billionaire patron, Henry Kravis, cofounder of Wall Street investment firm KKR. Among the chants at the many protests was, “We need clean air, not another billionaire!” Many activists, born after the UN’s climate negotiations began in the early 1990s, feel the UN process has been captured and corrupted by fossil fuel interests. This year’s annual UN climate summit is not doing much to discourage that perception. COP28, the 28th Conference of Parties to the climate negotiations, will be in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, a petrostate with no press freedom and where protests are banned. The president of this year’s COP is Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Marta Schaaf of Amnesty International said recently, “The UAE’s priority at COP28 appears to be greenwashing its fossil fuel expansion plans and massaging its own reputation…to avoid discussion of its dismal human rights record and continuing abuses.” UN Secretary General Guterres said at the Climate Ambition Summit, “The move from fossil fuels to renewables is happening – but we are decades behind. We must make up time lost to foot-dragging, arm-twisting and the naked greed of entrenched interests raking in billions from fossil fuels.” In Dante’s descent through the nine circles of hell, he portrayed what he saw as the great sins, including gluttony, greed, fraud and treachery. He might have been describing the fossil fuel industry. New documents confirm Exxon and other oil companies have known for decades that fossil fuels were dangerously heating the planet. In response, they financed and spread climate disinformation, and lobbied to derail legislative and policy solutions to the climate emergency. The world has changed in the seven centuries since Dante, but human nature hasn’t. It will take concerted, global grassroots climate action to ensure a just transition to a green economy, containing the inferno and slamming shut the gates of hell. This column originally appeared in Democracy Now! The post Clinging to hope at the gates of climate hell appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, climate action, climate crisis]

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[l] at 9/22/23 2:16pm
Pierre Poilievre seems to pop up with his populist message everywhere these days. But even though he’s out to woo working class voters, one place you definitely won’t find him is on a picket line. The Conservative leader fumes relentlessly about today’s “affordability” crisis, and he correctly points out that workers are struggling to pay for groceries, rent, mortgages, etc. Yet he seems confused about what actions workers should take to ease their affordability problems — other than voting for him. In fact, the proven most effective way for workers to increase their pay and improve their working conditions hasn’t been to vote Conservative but rather to join a union and, when necessary, go on strike. Still, despite the success of unions in increasing their workers’ pay — unionized workers in Canada have received on average about $5 more per hour than non-unionized workers over the past decade — Poilievre has never seen much merit in unions. Indeed, he’s sided with corporate interests that have persistently acted to suppress unions. In 2012, when Poilievre was a young parliamentary secretary, he pushed hard for Canada to adopt notorious “right-to-work” laws, which are favoured by corporations because they undermine unions. Barack Obama famously described them as being about “the right to work for less.” Back then, the bespectacled Poilievre was a far-right political gadfly. His support for “right-to-work” laws — which originated in the U.S. South to weaken unions and their efforts to promote a cross-racial brotherhood of workers — was regarded as too extreme by even the staunchly anti-labour Harper government. Today, the smoothed-down, done-over Poilievre is less overtly waging class war on behalf of the corporate elite. Instead of focusing on crushing unions, he now presents himself as battling the more neutral-sounding “affordability crisis.” In fact, today’s “affordability crisis” — caused by recent inflation and high interest rates — is just the latest affordability setback for Canadian workers who have struggled for the last few decades as almost all the economic gains have gone to those at the top, leaving the bottom 90 per cent straining to afford groceries, rent, mortgages, etc. Today, on both sides of the border, labour senses this may be the moment to begin turning things around — just as a pivotal strike by U.S. autoworkers did in an earlier era of extreme inequality in the 1930s. Dubbed “the strike heard around the world,” the bitter 1937 strike by autoworkers against General Motors in Detroit was the first major victory for unionization in U.S. history, and it led to 300 per cent wage hikes. The success of that strike triggered a wave of union activism that ultimately helped create a substantial American middle class — with tens of millions of workers enjoying good wages, job security and pensions that allowed them, really for the first time, to live comfortable lives. The same dramatic turnaround happened in Canada, again with autoworkers playing a pivotal role. In 1945, more than 10,000 autoworkers at Ford’s Windsor complex — the largest workplace in the country — waged a gruelling 99-day strike which resulted in workers winning recognition for their union and compulsory dues check-off, which became known as the Rand formula. That victory inspired other Canadian union actions and helped push Canada in the same direction as the early postwar U.S. towards greater equality and an enlarged and empowered middle class. But you won’t catch Poilievre — or any of today’s other pseudo-populists — talking about how those union victories dramatically improved the ability of workers to afford a good life. Indeed, today’s populists seem to know next to nothing about the financial struggles of working people, as Poilievre recently demonstrated. Speaking at a rally in Sault Ste. Marie in July, the Conservative leader suggested that a local waitress would make $60,000 a year. In fact, the average waitress in Canada earns about $29,000 a year, making him off by about $30,000. Maybe he doesn’t know that most waitresses aren’t unionized. This column was originally published in the Toronto Star. The post Poilievre says he supports workers, but not when theyre on the picket line appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Labour]

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[l] at 9/22/23 1:04pm
Israel, which labels itself as the only “democracy” in the Middle East, uses “pinkwashing” as a veil to cover up human rights violations against the Palestinian people, according to Ayman Awad, a queer Palestinian and a member of Queer Arabs Halifax. “Its a facade, Its almost like it masks the reality of human rights abuses,” said Awad.   Pinkwashing is defined as “a deliberate strategy used by Israel’s government, agencies, and the Israeli 2SLGBTQIA+ community to exploit Israels relatively progressive stance on gay rights, and to deflect international attention from its gross violations of human rights and international law.”  Pinkwashing paints Palestinians as backwards, racist and barbaric in order to justify the oppression and unequal treatment of Palestinians both straight and queer. This is because Palestinian 2SLGBTQIA+ members face the repercussions of segregation daily, as opposed to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Israel.  In Jerusalem, one of the biggest pride parades was held by Israelis, which is on the land thousands of Palestinians were displaced from. Yet Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza need to obtain permits from the Israeli government to visit Jerusalem, which they are often denied. As a result, Palestinians freedom to move is unjustly infringed upon. In turn, the Palestinian queer community does not have equal rights as the average Israeli citizen, and are refused to visit the land their families were forced to flee.  Israel promotes its capital, Tel Aviv, as a gay friendly destination in the Middle East, while at the same time failing to mention that the city is built on top of several villages where Palestinians were expelled from their homes and are banned from entering the capital.  Awad says the use of pinkwashing is dangerous for queer Palestinians.  “Israeli pinkwashing, it is really dangerous. Queer and trans folks internationally see Israel as a progressive nation in the Middle East, as a LGBTQ progressive nation, when in reality they are violating the human rights of LGBTQ Palestinians,” said Awad. “The danger is that all queer and trans people are included here except the Palestinians and that is what is dangerous about it, its a facade,” he added.  Palestinians queers are also denied asylum in Israel while trying to escape discrimination in their own communities.  When it comes to “queer liberation,” Israel has a nuanced view, as they continue to create destruction and terror in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel perpetuates the idea that they are the only democracy in the Middle East, and at the same time maintains one of the worst war crimes record to date.  The Israeli Occupations Forces (IOF) have a well-documented recent history of accepting queer soldiers into their service.  Because of this “progressive” act, many—members of the IOF and their supporters alike fail to mention the reality: the IOF are currently occupying Palestine and continue to exacerbate hate, prejudice and violence toward the Palestinian people. Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions point out, “Israeli oppression, racism, and discrimination does not distinguish between queer Palestinians and heterosexual Palestinians.” Nowhere to run  In October 2022, a 25-year-old Palestinian gay man, Ahmad Abu Murkhiyeh, was killed in the West Bank after unsuccessfully seeking asylum in Israel two years prior to his murder.  Murkhiyeh was among many other 2SLGBTQ+ Palestinian asylum-seekers trying to escape their communities.   Some Queer Palestinian exiles in Israel end up relying on a temporary permit, which does not allow employment and needs renewal every six months.  In July of this year, an 18-year-old queer Palestinian woman was murdered at the hands of her brothers for her sexual orientation. These queer Palestinian murders are a reminder of the lack of support and resources Palestinians have.  Apartheid not Pride  This year has been one of the deadliest years for Palestinians living in the West Bank since the UN began recording human rights abuses in Palestine in 2005.  According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the death toll has reached 153. This includes the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) deliberate killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian journalist who was shot while wearing a blue press vest while covering Israeli raids in the Jenin Refugee camp in May of 2022. This past July, UN experts stated that the killing of 12 Palestinians by Israeli air strikes and ground operations in the Jenin Refugee camp constituted a war crime. From July 3 to July 4, Israeli forces killed 12 Palestinians, which included five children.  More than 100 were injured, and the attacks have been claimed to be “the fiercest in the West Bank since the destruction of the Jenin Camp in 2002”.  In 2002, Amnesty International, one of the world’s leading organizations reporting on human rights abuses, affirmed that “Israel’s continuing oppressive and discriminatory system of governing Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) constituted a system of apartheid, and Israeli officials committed the crime of apartheid under international law.” In December of 2022, the United Nations General Assembly voted 87-26 to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to make a ruling on the legal consequences of Israel’s ongoing human rights violations and the occupation of Palestine. Canada was in the minority bloc of countries who voted against the resolution.  Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) obtained a letter dated July 14, 2023, in which Canada asked the ICJ to “decline the request” from the UN General Assembly (UNGA). “It is deeply hypocritical that Canada is intervening to try to block a legal opinion on Israel’s brutal occupation of the West Bank at the same time that Canada speaks forcefully against Russia’s occupation of Ukraine,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME in a press release.  “Canada has once again demonstrated that it is willing to deny access to justice for Palestinians in order to protect Israel from accountability,” added Bueckert. This past March, Canada’s Global Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly met with Eli Cohen, Israel’s far-right extremist foreign affairs minister who stated: “Palestinian citizens of Israel can move to Gaza on a one-way ticket.”  During the meeting, Joly expressed concerns about violence against Israelis, but there were no comments on the oppression of Palestinians. This year marked 16 years of the illegal blockade on the Gaza strip, “the worlds largest open air prison.” The blockade of the two million residents in Gaza has devastated the economy with unemployment rate being 46.6 per cent as of 2022.  The strips agricultural sector continues to suffer losses as a result of the blockade and multiple Israeli attacks.  Figures in 2022 showed the Gaza strip suffered losses of nearly $1.3 billion since 2006 as a result of the blockade.  In May of 2023, the UN stated “This is the highest rate of mental health need ever recorded, across UNRWA’s medical system,” with more than one-in-four patients in need of mental and psychosocial help.  The discrimination of Palestinians both queer and straight is cemented into the laws that govern the state of Israel, restricting their movement, being subjected to unlawful killings and the seizures and demolishing of Palestinian villages and lands, all constitute acts of apartheid and segregation under international law.  The post Israeli pinkwashing: ‘Its a facade’ appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Human Rights, LGBTIQ, Israel, Palestine, Pinkwashing]

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[l] at 9/22/23 12:45pm
After a marathon of bargaining over the course of more than 24 consecutive hours this week Canada’s largest public sector union Unifor reached a tentative deal with Ford Motor Company. The new deal will cover more than 5,600 workers at Ford’s Canadian facilities in Ontario and Alberta. “What a time to fight for working people right now,” said Unifor President Lana Payne in a press conference on Tuesday announcing the deal. “And for unions, youve just got to stick at it right now and take advantage of the moment that were in and try to make sure that were making generational gains for workers because that is what collective bargaining can do. It can change lives; and we believe we will change some lives with this agreement.” At issue for the union, whose collective agreement with Ford expired at midnight on Tuesday, was pensions, wages and the transition of the company to the production of electric vehicles, as well as investment in their Canadian facilities. “In addition to reaching a master agreement, our members at each Ford location face their own unique set of issues that needed to be resolved by our committees at the bargaining table,” said Unifor Ford master bargaining chair John D’Agnolo in a statement released by Unifor. “This agreement makes the kind of gains our members need today and adds greater financial security for the future.” Protecting workers in a changing industry As the climate crisis continues to worsen, the auto industry is facing increasing pressures for necessary change. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the average car emits 4.6 metric tons of the greenhouse gas CO2 into the atmosphere every year. In the US and Canada there are a combined 300 million cars in private ownership. Climate disasters like the wildfires of this summer that have burned over 175,000 square kilometers so far in Canada highlight the pressing need to reduce carbon emissions. Auto companies like Ford are recognizing this and the public’s desire for low-emission alternatives like electric vehicles. In April of this year, Ford announced it would be investing $1.8 billion in its production facility in Oakville, ON, to transform it into a hub for the creation of electric vehicles. “Canada and the Oakville complex will play a vital role in our Ford+ transformation. It will be a modern, super-efficient, vertically integrated site for battery and vehicle assembly. I’m most excited for the world to see the incredible next-generation electric and fully digitally connected vehicles produced in Oakville,” reads a statement from Jim Farley, Ford’s President and CEO. The transition to electric vehicles is not enough however. Environmental activist David Suzuki points out that to effectively combat the climate crisis, that regardless of how cars are powered, dependency on cars must fall. Car sales are falling, according to Statistics Canada, which reports that registrations of new vehicles in Canada have fallen in the third financial quarter of each year since 2017. Unifor states that this new agreement with Ford, which will be its blueprint for negotiations with other auto-makers, will help guide their members through this transition to a greener and more sustainable economy. The post Unifor reaches deal with Ford; Payne: ‘We will change lives with this agreement’ appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Economy, Environment, Labour, Ford, Lana Payne, Unifor]

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[l] at 9/22/23 8:00am
In Ontario right-wing opponents of children talking about gender orientation at school held rallies across the province. Union offices were vandalized. Supporters of the children held counter-rallies. Interviews with Laura Walton, the president of the CUPE Ontario School Boards Council of Unions and Fred Hahn, the president of CUPE Ontario. 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 right-wing attack on children appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour, LGBTIQ, 2SLGBTQIA+]

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[l] at 9/22/23 8:00am
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: Summer of fire – what’s Ottawa got to do with it?’ In this panel, our guests discuss the social and environmental impact the wildfires had on Canada this summer, how Canadians can get involved in climate justice and how we can hold the federal government accountable for climate solutions. Our panel included MP Leah Gazan, Clayton Thomas-Müller, Chuka Ejeckam, Diana Yoon and Karl Nerenberg. Hosted by Robin Browne and Nick Seebruch. 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. The post A summer of fire – what’s Ottawa got to do with it? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Environment, Indigenous, off the hill]

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[l] at 9/22/23 7:59am
It has been a week of bombshell announcements. It started with prime minister Trudeau’s about the government of India’s possible involvement in the murder of a Canadian citizen. The PM chose the first day of the fall parliamentary session to make that startling allegation. Then, a few days later, Ontario premier Doug Ford chose to release his own bomb, at a Conservative caucus meeting in Niagara Falls, on the eve of a new session of the legislature. After months of digging in his heels, and in the wake of yet another resignation, Ford said he is pulling the plug on his government’s plans to open up parts of the greenbelt for housing development. It took two damning reports, and the resignations of two cabinet ministers, a chief of staff, and a senior adviser to the premier himself, to get Ford to act. But he finally did. After resisting for so long, why did the premier change course? We might never know, but bad opinion polls could have something to do with it.  A more likely explanation is that the Ontario Conservatives are deeply worried about what other revelations might come out, as a result of criminal investigations and of persistent journalistic digging.  From what we know so far, the process the Ford government launched more than a year ago to remove environmentally sensitive lands from protection, and allow private sector interests to profit from them, was more than merely flawed.  It was, as NDP leader Marit Stiles points out, rife with opportunities for corruption. The now-former Ontario Auditor General (AG) Bonnie Lysyk reported a month and half ago that a handful of Conservative-connected developers stood to make more than $8 billion in unearned profit from the sale of Greenbelt real estate. That was shocking enough. But if one reads the AG report carefully, it turns out those billions are not the half of this scandal.  Ford did his huge 180 turnabout in the hopes the media, the opposition, and all Ontarians might forget what Lysyk has had to say. Just for that reason, it is worth having a second look at the report that led, ultimately, to the Ontario Conservatives’ dramatic backtrack. World’s largest greenbelt Lysyk starts by explaining what greenbelts are and why they are important. “Greenbelts,” she writes, “have been a planning approach to manage urban development and to protect farmland and natural areas around the world for decades.” “A greenbelt is a swath of undeveloped land that encircles a city, town or region. They generally comprise a combination of public and private lands on which there are development restrictions. The primary objectives of greenbelt policies are to protect agricultural land, conserve nature, contain urban growth, and provide recreational spaces for people,” Lysyk adds Among the cities that have greenbelts are London (UK), San Francisco, Copenhagen, Ottawa, and Sao Paolo in Brazil. The Greenbelt Ford wanted to develop around the Golden Horseshoe in southern Ontario (which includes the greater Toronto area) is the largest in the world, at about two million acres.  Ontario’s Greenbelt, Lysyk explains, was created to help control urbanization and sprawl – characterized by low-density, single-family houses  –  and to reduce the corresponding loss of farmland, forests, wetlands, streams and other natural features. Those natural features clean the air and provide drinking water for millions of Ontarians. They also give folks a place for outdoor recreational activities. And if that weren’t enough, they include some of Canada’s most important and productive farmland. The raison d’être for the protected Greenbelt is to head off loss and fragmentation of the farming land base and “give permanent protection to the natural heritage and water resource systems that sustain ecological and human health.” In addition, the Greenbelt has another vocation, now, after the summer of wildfires, more crucial than ever: “to build resilience to and mitigate climate change.” None of this has mattered to Doug Ford. He is reported to have complained that all the greenbelt consists of is “useless weeds”.  Still, as a consummate politician Ford once did promise, publicly, not to touch the Greenbelt. There is strong evidence, however, he was saying something else privately to his developer friends and Conservative party donors.  The crisis in affordable housing gave the premier an ideal opportunity to ditch the public promise and proceed with what he had wanted to do all along.  His government decided on a seemingly random figure of 7,400 acres which they would remove from the greenbelt and on which real estate developers could build suburban subdivisions. Such a move would greatly increase that land’s monetary value. No “fair, transparent and respectful consultation” When the time came to put the greenbelt plan into action, Lysyk’s report explains how Ford’s political operatives did an end run around the professional public servants.  Previous governments had removed small pieces from the greenbelt, respecting environmental criteria and the need to consult widely.  The Ford government was not interested in any of those tedious requirements. It wanted to act in great haste and with stealth.  In November 2022  the Ontario housing ministry posted notice that it planned to “re-designate” 15 parcels of land in the greenbelt, which totalled the 7,400 acres the government targeted. Although it fulfilled the legal requirement to hold 30 days of public consultation in advance of determining any plan to remove protection from the Greenbelt, the ministry paid no heed whatsoever to the 35,000 submissions it received.  Those submissions came from members of the public, municipalities, Indigenous communities, and other stakeholders (including the environmental, development and agricultural sectors). Ten days after the consultation period ended – not even enough time to do anything close to a serious review of all of those submissions – the Ford folks announced they were proceeding with their original plan. They made not a single change in response to the consultations. In Bonnie Lysyk’s words, “fair, transparent and respectful consultation did not take place”. As we now know, the point man for the whole operation was Ryan Amato, then-housing minister Steve Clark’s chief of staff.  Amato had worked for leader Doug Ford directly when the Conservatives were in opposition, and it was the premier’s office who selected him to run the political side of Clark’s office. The chief of staff created conditions, such as tight deadlines, that made it impossible for public servants in the housing ministry to fully discharge their responsibilities.  Indeed, the administrative process for turning 15 pieces of environmentally sensitive land into huge cash assets for a few people was similar to the public consultation: The fix was in from the outset. In the words of the AG’s report, Amato “instructed the non-political public service staff to conduct an exercise that limited their site selection assessment to land sites” he had identified. Amato “also limited staff’s time to assess the sites,” and, more important, he unilaterally “adjusted the assessment criteria, including eliminating the consideration of agricultural and environmental factors.”  Changing the criteria “facilitated the selection of these specific land sites,” all owned by Conservative donors and Ford Nation friends. Real estate developers lobbied the chief of staff personally Two central players in this whole affair – real estate developers who had requested re-designation of five of the 15 sites that accounted for more than 90 per cent of the total acreage to be removed from the greenbelt – refused to speak with the Auditor General’s investigators.  They are Silvio De Gasperis, president of the Tacc Group of companies, who owns more than two dozen properties in the environmentally valuable greenbelt area known as the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve, and Michael Rice, CEO of Rice Group, who owns property in the township of King, near Newmarket. Both approached Amato, privately, in September 2022, at the Building Industry and Land Development Association’s (BILD) Chair’s Dinner.  Rice gave Amato a package indicating which land he wanted to see removed from Greenbelt protection, then, the next day, bought some of that land for $80 million.  Amato lorded it over a small group of public servants, who were sworn to secrecy, and thus helpless to blow the whistle on what seemed like an illegitimate process. Those public servants told Lysyk’s office they did not think Amato was acting as a rogue operator. They were convinced he was following orders from the premier’s office.  The stench of possible criminal behaviour hangs over this affair. At the request of the Ontario Provincial Police, the RCMP is now looking into that. Federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre’s entire housing strategy would open the door wide to the kind of abuse we have seen in the Ontario greenbelt scandal.  Poilievre wants to get rid of what he calls gatekeepers, by which he means public servants mandated to see that laws, good governance practices, and environmental rules are respected. Ford has the same goal as Poilievre for Ontario, and he has been quite open about it.  That’s why the premier enacted the so-called strong mayor powers. The purpose of giving extra powers to big city mayors is to allow those mayors to override democratically-elected city councils, when those councils have the temerity to stand in the way of real estate developers’ projects.  And the Ontario Conservatives have other privatization plans, notably in health care.  In commenting on Ford’s Greenbelt about-face, the Ontario NDP’s leader Marit Stiles mentioned those plans. She promised to watch the government vigilantly as it goes about implementing its privatization agenda. The Greenbelt scandal, and what it represents, should not end with Ford’s admitting, yet again, he’s not perfect, and saying, with barely credible contrition, that he’s sorry. The post Ford backtracks on Greenbelt because he fears further revelations appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Environment, Doug Ford, Greenbelt]

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[l] at 9/21/23 4:05pm
Parliament is back in session – and so is Off the Hill. This month, we returned to our monthly live panel series with Off the Hill: Summer of fire – what’s Ottawa got to do with it? In the panel, we discussed the social and environmental impact the wildfires had on Canada this summer, how Canadians can get involved in climate justice and how we can hold the federal government accountable for climate solutions.  Guests this month included MP Leah Gazan, Clayton Thomas-Müller, Chuka Ejeckam, Diana Yoon and Karl Nerenberg. Co-hosted by Robin Browne and Nick Seebruch. The webinar took place Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET.  Dont forget! Off the Hill now has a regular date! Join us every third Wednesday of the month, every month, at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET.  Meet our Off the Hill panel Leah Gazan is Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre. She is currently the NDP critic for Children, Families, and Social Development, as well as the deputy critic for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. Gazan is a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, located in Saskatchewan, Treaty 4 territory. Clayton Thomas-Müller is a member of the Treaty #6 based Mathias Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan located in Northern Manitoba, Canada. He is featured as one of ten international human rights defenders in the National Canadian Museum for Human Rights and has campaigned in and out of Canada, to support Indigenous Peoples to defend their territories against the encroachment of the fossil fuel industry. He is an award winning film director, media producer, organizer, facilitator, public speaker and bestselling author. His book, Life in the City of Dirty Water, was a national bestseller and a CBC Canada Reads finalist. Diana Yoon is a climate and housing justice activist based in Toronto. Her work is on the intersection of climate mitigation and affordable housing. Formerly, she was the Geography grad student department steward for CUPE3903. Chuka Ejeckam is a writer and policy researcher. His work focuses on inequity and inequality, drug policy, structural racism, and labour. He is also a columnist for rabble.ca. Karl Nerenberg is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and filmmaker, working in both English and French languages. He is rabble’s senior parliamentary reporter. Want to help projects like this going? Please support us during the last week of our summer fundraiser by visiting rabble.ca/donate today! The post Off the Hill: Summer of fire – what’s Ottawa got to do with it? (FULL VIDEO) appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Environment, Indigenous, Political Action, Climate Change, off the hill, wild fires]

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[l] at 9/21/23 1:32pm
Many unions, including the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF) have released statements condemning the hateful rhetoric coming the organizers of the anti-2SLGBTQIA+ protest “1 Million March 4 Children.” Unions have also called out provincial governments for propping up hateful rhetoric.  READ MORE: Rallies held across the country to push back against hate The anti-trans fear mongering has put people in danger, but it may also fulfill a subtler function of pushing forward governments’ education privatization schemes. At least that is the suspicion of Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OBSCU). “At the rally that I was at yesterday, the person leading the hate march had a sign. It did not say anything about parents’ choice or anything like that. His sign said, ‘Vouchers please, Mr. Lecce,’” Walton said in an interview with rabble.ca. “That really belies to me that there is another agenda here. The goal is taking money and privatizing our public school system.”  This sign is calling on Education Minister Lecce to implement a voucher system. This means that parents will receive vouchers of government money to put their kids in schools of their choosing. Voucher systems are usually implemented to help families cover the cost of private school tuition.  “When we start talking about voucher systems, if you look at anywhere where thats happening, like the US and out west, it is not beneficial. As a matter of fact, what folks forget is that private schools can control who comes to their schools,” Walton said. “So, while you might think that you are in the majority, you may find yourself in the minority and not being welcomed into a school.”  As hate groups stoke fear of 2SLGBTQIA+ support in schools, it may also stir the desire to switch kids to private schools among some parents. Walton said she has heard people tell parents that if they do not like what is going on in public schools, they should take their kids somewhere else. However, this argument can prove dangerous.  Taking kids out of an environment in which they encounter diverse people and ideas may further embed hate in Canada.  “Through education and respectful dialogue, we can bridge gaps and create environments where everyone feels safe, valued, and respected,” the ETFO wrote in a statement denouncing the hate rallies. “But first, we must embrace diversity and acceptance.” To cut off this dialogue entirely allows hate to fester.  As well, if a large number of parents begin to look to private schools, the implementation of voucher systems could funnel money away from the public school system.  “A public school system and a public education system are great equalizers, it allows everyone to come free of charge, to school and to learn,” Walton said. “We are an open space for everybody. When people start saying, ‘Oh, I want this element of the curriculum taken out and I want more of this element,’ were starting to delve into this world of individual education. But the public education system is about collective needs.”  Anti-2SLGBTQIA+ discourse is also furthering privatization sentiments by pitting parents against public education workers.  “It is alarming that several politicians are contributing to this troubling trend,” ETFO wrote in their statement. “Recently, Premier Doug Ford accused school boards of indoctrination. Education Minister Stephen Lecce scolded boards for upholding students’ human rights related to gender identity, and members of parliament are on social media using dog-whistle terms like ‘woke’ to gain political clout. Instead of spewing rhetoric they know is harmful and dangerous and that pits parents against educators, they should be ensuring safe and inclusive spaces for every student in the province and for every constituent they serve.”  Union office vandalized The anger towards education workers who support 2SLGBTQIA+ students has grown so strong in Ontario that three Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) offices in London were vandalized.  “They just plastered the exterior of the buildings with signs that said, ‘Keep your hands off our kids,’ and ‘No gender ideology, no gender politics in schools,’” said Laura Walton, President of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OBSCU). “That speaks volumes to me. That wasnt during a protest that was prior to the protests and the intent was to intimidate.”  Walton said the targeting of teachers’ and education workers’ unions made sense to her. Hate groups are trying to target organizations who have the collective power to speak out against hate. “Education workers want to be able to ensure that children are free from bullying, that they are accepted for the way that they are. We dont want to ‘out’ children,” Walton said. “That is not something we ever want to do. We recognize that often children share things with us because theyre unable to share it with a caring adult at home.”  Walton said that CUPE education workers, and many other workers recognize that home is not always a safe place for students to express their gender identity. Despite this, governments across the country have been pushing for policies that require parents to know when children choose to use different pronouns at school.  In New Brunswick, the government revised a policy that would require teachers to get parental consent before using a student’s preferred pronouns. Saskatchewan announced a similar policy and Manitoba has promised to “expand parental rights” as well. In Ontario, the education Minister said he also believes parents should know when a child chooses to use different pronouns. Despite some alarming trends, workers remain mobilized against hate.  “As the Conservative Party of Canada continues to welcome extremist voices in the party, the Canadian Union of Public Employees will be there to fight back,” CUPE wrote after the counter protests. “Wherever worker’s rights are challenged by hate and intolerance, we will be there. Trans rights are human rights.” The post Anti-trans hate also fuelling school privatization sentiments appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Education, Labour, LGBTIQ]

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[l] at 9/20/23 1:03pm
The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has a long history of executions since its inception in 1979. The Death Penalty Information Centre has ranked Iran second to China for many years. Based on population numbers, it is evident that IRI ranks first for the executions per capita.  The latest executions occurred due to the Women, Life, Freedom movement, which started with the killing of Mahsa Jina Amini in September 2022 at the hands of the“morality police. Mahsa’s killing ignited a massive protest across social classes, universities, schools and streets which engulfed the whole country. The rallies were led by young women demanding freedom from oppressive and obsolete Islamic rules and practices. The expansion of the protests across the country led to the IRI’s usual deployment of its Iron Fists to crackdown, incarcerate, torture and impose the death penalty on hundreds of young demonstrators without proper legal procedures.  In December 2022, Amnesty International reported that more than 22,000 people were arrested, tortured and kept in prolonged solitary confinement.  The detainees were often denied medical care, forced to confess falsified information under torture, and raped. Some committed suicide. The IRI has always been very erratic in its actions. During the uprising of 2022, the “Morality Police” was stopped from harassing and arresting Iranian women. On July 16, 2023, after several months, they are back on the streets.  Another example of the IRI’s arbitrary decisions is the arrest and incarceration of Toomaj Salehi. Toomaj, an Iranian rap artist mainly known for his protest songs concerning Iran’s societal issues, was arrested and kept in solitary confinement for eight months without any legal procedure. In July 2023, he was sentenced to six years and three months of imprisonment. His life and safety is a major concern for many activists under this untrustworthy regime. Under the IRI dictatorship, people are discriminated against for their gender, sexuality, religion, and faith. 2SLGBTQIA+ communities are persecuted with flogging and execution. Those who follow Bahai are forced to hide their faith, banned from attending higher education and prohibited from taking part in any government positions or affiliated businesses.  Women experience daily harassment and violence due to compulsory wearing of the veil. They are denied access to, or are segregated in, public spaces, prevented from certain employment and services. The value of a woman and a follower of other religions is half that of a Muslim man for the Diya equation (blood money). The legal age of marriage for girls is set to 13 years. With the fathers’ permission, it can be reduced to 9 years.  The IRI hijacked the promising 1979 revolution and crushed all the hopes of establishing a secular government. The constitution, judicial rulings and criminal laws are based on the Twelve-Imam Shia religion of Islam. A practice of execution and retribution by flogging, stoning, amputation, blinding goes back fourteen hundred years. However, the Religious Supreme Leader, presently Ali Khamenei, has the final say and is above the law.  The IRI’s executions started in the early months of the Revolution. Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre reports that from February to March 1979, 438 high ranking officials of the previous regime were executed; between 1981-1985, 14,794 political activists, including more than 1,000 children and women were executed. Even after IRI’s establishment and the mass murder of the early 1980s, still the number of executions during 1988-1998 reached 6,783. The Iran Human Rights Organization (IHRO) in Norway, reported that during the 2019 uprising, the number of protesters killed on the streets by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were about 1,500, while the estimation of eyewitnesses is between 5,000 to 7,500. In 2020, 274 people were executed in prisons and 254 in 2021. The number of executions rose drastically with the uprising of the Women, Life, Freedom movement. In April 2023, the BBC reported that executions in Iran rose by 75 per cent in 2022, with at least 582 people put to death, as authorities sought a “spread fear” strategy among protesters. In addition, the government escalated the execution of non-political prisoners on drug and homosexuality-related charges. Amnesty International reports drug related executions have increased three times during 2023 compared to 2022. The IRI’sintimidation campaign extended even further to terrorizing innocent school girls. In April 4, 2023, United States Institute of Peace reported that “between November 2022 and March 2023, up to 7,000 schoolgirls were poisoned at dozens of schools in at least 28 out of 31 provinces”. The press release of UNHRO in March 2023 stated that the “deliberate poisoning of schoolgirls is further evidence of continuous violence against women and girls”. The brutality of the IRI intensifies when it comes to ethnic regions such as Kurdistan and Baluchistan. Research by the IHRO shows that at least 174 Baluch prisoners were executed in 2022. This includes 30% of all executions, while Baluch make up only about 5% of the population. From September to October 2022, 91 people including one woman and six children were killed in the Baluchistan region and 186 Kurdish minors were abducted.  During the last uprising in 2023, IRGC used drones and missiles to terrorize and kill civilians in Kurdistan. In the first five months of 2023, at least 45 children were detained: 21 in Kurdistan, 17 in Baluchistan, 6 in Karaj and 1 in Izeh.  Due to the extreme cruelty of the IRI, the mass protests across the country have gradually tapered off, but the arrests and executions still continue under different pretences. IHRO reports that in the early months of 2023, 354 people were executed. Unfortunately no one knows the real number, especially considering those who were arrested without identity documents.   Currently, journalists, lawyers, artists, environmental and labour activists, as well as women who challenge the compulsory veil are arrested on a daily basis. The executions continue to be a tool for political repression. For further information about prisoners conditions and signing petitions to halt all the executions please see the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and Iran Human Right Organizations’ websites. The post One year after historic protests, Iran continues crackdown appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: World Politics]

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[l] at 9/20/23 12:46pm
In 2020, the manufacturing industry faced unprecedented challenges. Now, as we look ahead to 2023, the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show (CMTS) is returning to Toronto with a focus on the technologies driving the future of Canadian manufacturing. This event unites all facets of Canada’s manufacturing industry, offering a platform for knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and innovation in the manufacturing sector, said Bob Willig, Executive Director and CEO of SME, the organization producing the conference. Despite the optimistic outlook for Canada’s manufacturing industry, truth is it’s still facing tremendous opposition in terms of parents, guidance counsellors and individuals who still may not see manufacturing as a job that embraces a promising future. A new report on the manufacturing workforce highlights the opportunity to solve the industry’s talent challenge by engaging Millennials and Gen Zers. A report by Tooling U-SME titled, “Solving the Talent Challenge: Millennials and Gen Z in the Workforce from a Manufacturer’s Perspective,” notes there will be a shortage of skilled workers over the next decade. Millennials and Gen Z workers will be essential to addressing the talent gap. Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials are surprisingly well established in the workplace. Meanwhile, Gen Zers, born between 1997 and 2012, are just embarking on their careers. Workplaces, including manufacturing, need to embrace both generations because they make up the majority of the workforce needed to replace aging Baby Boomers as they retire. The report suggests that attracting these workers to manufacturing is only part of the solution. Insight into what motivates them and understanding their work styles is vital to recruiting, retaining and training these professionals. The report also analyzes the expectations of Millennials and Gen Zers offering key insights into managing a multigenerational workforce that includes these younger workers. “Millennials and Gen Z workers are vital to the manufacturing industry’s ability to thrive in the post-pandemic economy,” said Jeannine Kunz, Vice President of Tooling U-SME. “By better understanding and embracing their strengths, manufacturers can build high performers, providing exciting career opportunities and boosting productivity throughout the entire organization, and offering companies a competitive advantage in a crowded talent marketplace,” she added. Currently, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z are all working within the same spaces. Yet, each has their own unique way of learning and working. That means employers are going to have to embrace generational learning needs in order to train and retain younger workers. Millennials – also known as Gen Y and Gen Z may not have the technical skills that prior generations had, but they definitely have different expectations of employers regarding how they need to be trained and what advancements they’re offered. That means employers must adopt better practices for training and developing the younger generation that is entering manufacturing in order to avoid creating a revolving door of talent. Generally, Millennials in their late thirties and early forties are successful because they have an ability to grasp important facts; see inter-relationships between elements; can brainstorm big picture solutions; and are used to working in groups to come to democratic solutions. Perhaps most importantly, Millennials really understand and value a good work/life balance. Millennials also have an innate desire for self-learning and self-improvement. They value face-to-face contact with staff in-person as much as they do over zoom. In short, Millennials make great leaders and bosses. Overall, Millennials and Gen Z both value internal feedback and genuinely want to be part of the process for continuous improvement. That really seems to be key to improving Millennial and Gen Z employee retention. That’s going to require employers to look at the onboarding programs they currently have in place. A one-day orientation on human resource policies is not going to cut it. Instead, these generations want a solid 90-day development plan. Millennials and Gen Z need goals to be visible and achievable through a structured training plan with dedicated time to training. They also want to be made to feel part of the company’s mission and value opportunities for meaningful career advancement. The Pew Research Centre in Washington, DC is a nonpartisan fact tank. A recent study found that 80 per cent of Gen Zers say YouTube has helped them become more knowledgeable about something. While 68 per cent said that they had gained or improved skills that will help them in the future. Seven in 10 Gen Zers surveyed said they watch videos with others in order to feel more connected. While 80 per cent admitted to sharing videos with their parents or other adult family members. That makes videos a fabulous learning vehicle and one that Tool U-SME has tapped into with the development of a micro-video strategy that helps new workers relate to their training. By developing a resource library of self-learning assets, employers can ensure that employees have the ability to create individualized learning plans to expand their learning base and look for new opportunities. A mentor program creates a supportive cross-generational learning relationship whereby an employee can share their knowledge, experience and wisdom with new hires. Tool U-SME has been around for over a decade addressing skill gaps in manufacturing. Their products fill the knowledge gap and help baseline the workforce while building confidence in workers. A recently released series of virtual-reality labs enables users to practice their skills in a controlled, safe setting while building confidence before testing their new skills in their workplace. Consultative services are also available to help companies adopt and standardize all aspects of a best in-class learning program. With nearly 600 online classes, virtual labs, instructor-led training, certifications, apprenticeships and consulting SME provides the tools to help train and retain younger workers. According to Mark L. Michalski, 2019 SME President and SME Member Since 1992: “Manufacturing is not a dead-end industry. Entry points can be many. Yes, it is great to earn an engineering degree, which we encourage; however, the reality is that employers are less focused on degrees and more focused on skills. An individual who can write code, use a 3D printer, analyze data or fill a wide range of roles and abilities will be the most sought after. This is true for all generations. The reality is that manufacturing is where you can have fun and work on the coolest, most bleeding-edge technology, while giving back and creating a better world.” Those interested in finding out more about careers in manufacturing should plan on attending the CMTS at the Toronto Congress Centre from September 25 through September 28, 2023. This is Canada’s largest industry event produced by SME, a non-profit committed to accelerating new manufacturing technology adoption and building North America’s manufacturing talent and capabilities. Tooling U-SME is the workforce development division of SME. Over 500 suppliers and original equipment manufacturers, more than 8,000 manufacturing professionals from across the country and around the world, and a staggering array of equipment will be featured. More than 50 educational sessions and panel discussions will provide insights into the latest trends and advancements shaping the manufacturing landscape. Opening keynote speaker Massimiliano Moruzzi, CEO of Xaba, a Toronto-based startup focused on intelligent automation will explore artificial intelligence (AI) integration from industrial robotics to sustainable materials. Flavio Volpe, President of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association will open Day 3 sharing insights about the ways in which Canada could drive the next transportation revolution. Kitchener-based Acerta CEO, Greta Cutulenco will deliver the Day 4 keynote dedicated to next-generation talent including the celebration of women in manufacturing. Educational sessions will bring together the brightest minds in the industry so that attendees have the opportunity to gain knowledge, expand their network, and explore collaborative opportunities. SME was established in 1932 as a nonprofit organization headquartered in Southfield, Michigan. SME elevates manufacturers, academia, professionals, and the communities in which they operate. Learn more at www.sme.org. The post Millennials and Gen Zers could close the talent gap in manufacturing appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour, Technology]

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[l] at 9/20/23 10:51am
Unions, communities, activists and individuals rallied on Wednesday in opposition to anti-2SLGBTQIA+ demonstrations that were planned to take place across the country. The rallies were held in response to the so-called “1 Million March 4 Children” campaign which sought to remove Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum and policies from Canadian schools. According to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, the marches were being organized by virulently anti-2SLGBTQIA+ groups including Hands Off Our Kids and Family Freedom. Both groups have used hateful slurs against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, including false accusations of grooming and pedophilia, meanwhile they have celebrated men like Andrew Tate, who is facing charges of rape and human trafficking in Romania. A portion of these groups are made up of conservative Muslim activists and Christian Nationalists who have found common cause in attempting to erase 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals from public life. “Specifically, they do not want their kids learning the message that it is ok to be queer,” said Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network in an interview with rabble.ca. “They dont want anybodys children to learn that,” Balgord added. “Thats what were talking about when they want to ban certain books in schools. They are trying to erase queer people from education.” Recent months have seen some provincial premiers side with pro-hate groups by enacting policies that would put 2SLGBTQIA+ students in danger by requiring parental permission to have their correct pronouns used in schools. READ MORE: Saskatchewan implements anti-trans school policies, endangering youth The National Institute of Health in the US conducted a study which found that trans youth who were addressed with their correct pronouns had a significant reduction in suicidal behaviour and ideation. A national response to national hate movement Balgord said that he had heard reports that 77 such anti-queer events were being organized across the country; however, unions and grassroots organizations used their power to counterprotest these rallies, especially in Canada’s major cities. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and many other organizations issued messages of support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and attended counter protests. Counter protests took place in cities such as Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver with the hate groups being outnumbered every time. The Nova Scotian Queer community showed up today to protest against the #1MillionMarch4Chidren There is more of us than them.#ProtectTransChildren #LoveWins #Halifax pic.twitter.com/vj8M4J2vuQ — Stoo Metz They/Them (@stoometzphoto) September 20, 2023 In Ottawa, one member of the 1 Million March 4 Children stated that the protest on Parliament Hill was not able to leave due to being surrounded by counter protesters. Livestreamers from the anti-LGBTQ+ “million man march” say they’ve been encircled by counterprotesters and are trapped on Parliament Hill. They are blaming police. pic.twitter.com/tr5K3Ek4S0 — Luke LeBrun (@_llebrun) September 20, 2023 Members of the Muslim community also made a statement opposing the 1 Million March 4 Children in an open letter. “This campaign of misinformation is placing 2SLGBTQIA+ students at risk, especially as a population that is already at higher risk for depression and suicide. It is also placing Muslim students at risk of facing increased Islamophobia,” the letter reads. “We call upon our community leaders to speak out against this protest and the potential harm it will bring to children both from the 2SLGBTQIA+ and Muslim communities, and the children who identify as being part of both communities.” ‘Parental rights’ a false rallying cry The members of the 1 Million March 4 Children claim that they are protecting “parental rights” and that anyone opposing them is opposing a parent’s rights over their children. “When they talk about parental rights it is the right to not have their kid be taught health and human rights education about queer people,” said Belgord. In an op-ed for rabble.ca trans rights activist Mercedes Allen explained that it is not hard to see the true motivations and influences behind the cry for “parental rights.” “If you want to look specifically at the issue of parental rights (which, it should be noted, shifts the discussion away from the kids’ rights, even though the intent is to override them or even pretend that any rights independent of the parents’ simply don’t exist), it’s not hard to see where this debate goes,” Allen writes, pointing out that south of the border in the US in states like Florida, the call for “parental rights” has been used to ban books and to restrict rights and healthcare for trans youth. Refusing to lose hope and give in to hate To #2slgbtqia youth, I know sometimes its hard to remember this but know you are not alone, know you are loved, know you are cherished, know you are special, you are talented, you are fabulous- let your light shine today and everyday -from all of us @CUPEOntario pic.twitter.com/atHcWUqcCx — Fred Hahn (@FredHahnCUPE) September 20, 2023 Trans rights activist Fae Johnstone issued a powerful statement on X (formerly Twitter) prior to the rallies. “Hatemongers think they can force us back in the closet. They think they can use fear and misinformation to roll back our rights. Here’s what they don’t understand: We’ve been through and overcame adversity they’ll never understand. We aren’t going backwards. We will win,” Johnstone’s statement reads. “Have hope. Refuse to let hope die. Bask in queer joy. Bask in the progress we have made. Love yourself, for all your existence gives to this world. This fight won’t be easy, but when have our battles ever been easy? We. Will. Persevere. As we have before. And we will triumph.” The post Rallies held across the country to push back against hate appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: LGBTIQ, 2SLGBTQIA+, trans rights]

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[l] at 9/20/23 10:20am
First, the bad news. For the majority of viruses, there is no treatment or cure. For this reason, viruses are considered self-limiting. This means that they will dissipate and ultimately disappear on their own. It’s like the saying about the common cold, itself caused by viruses: take drugs and a cold lasts seven days. Don’t take drugs and a cold lasts a week. Now, the good news. We are fortunate that vaccines and treatments were developed for COVID, in an unprecedented short period of time. Do you recall what life during the pandemic was like before vaccines were approved and before drugs like Paxlovid were created to fight the worst of the symptoms? With the advent of what is the sixth booster for some people, we are accustomed to having anti-COVID shots. These may not entirely remove the risk of being affected by COVID, but they do limit the severity of the disease and the number of COVID-related deaths. But there is some potentially bad COVID news. The discovery of EG.5, yet another variant of interest stemming from the Omicron variant, is raising concerns not only in Canada but across the globe. There seem to be two countervailing theories surrounding this new variant. The first is that it is highly infectious, which is worrisome. But the second is that immunity from vaccines and having been exposed to COVID appear to diminish the spread of this variant. Only time will tell which theory proves more important. In addition, another new variant, BA2.86, has been reported in 11 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). What about seasonal influenza? There are several viruses that Canadians face, generally on a seasonal basis. We are all familiar with the annual flu, or parainfluenza. This virus almost disappeared during the three years of COVID, largely thanks to mask wearing and hand washing. These simple measures, long advised by public health agencies, actually do work. Canada generally follows Australia and New Zealand in the pattern of seasonal flu. From these two countries, we learn what we can expect in severity and the efficacy of the season’s vaccine. In their autumn flu season, Australia and New Zealand’s influenza was quite mild, despite being more prevalent than during the COVID years. Canada can likely expect the same. Are there other viruses that are cause for concern? Most other viruses are in two categories. There are common respiratory viruses, which Canadians have learned to take for granted. These are the enterovirus and the rhinovirus, otherwise known as the common cold. The best protection from these remains frequent hand-washing. To avoid colds, and to protect yourself and others from germs, consider wearing a mask in crowded spaces. And always cover your cough. More serious, but still a respiratory virus, is RSV or respiratory syncytial virus, particularly dangerous among children. Symptoms include wheezing, lethargy, and persistent cough. Outbreaks of RSV recently have made headlines across Canada, perhaps because during COVID, children did not develop the normal immunity they would otherwise have acquired by being with other children and adults. The same is true of Hand, Foot & Mouth (HFM) disease, a particularly virulent form of enterovirus. HFM manifests itself in small spots on the hands, feet and mouth of children. Occasionally it develops on the buttocks as well. The spots are small red dots that may or may not turn into blisters. Like other viruses, HFM is a self-limiting disease. While it is highly contagious, it does “cure” itself within a week or two. It is spread through fluids like sneezes, runny noses and productive coughs and it replicates through close contact with infected children, especially through hugs. Adults are also susceptible to HFM, making this virus highly contagious in day care and nursery schools, where children are too young to take precautions when they cough or sneeze. Or when they spread the virus by wiping their noses and then playing with shared toys. There is a reason why day care centres are jokingly referred to as petri dishes. Children spread viruses to each other while the viruses are incubating in them. With HFM, The red spots only appear several days later, when contagion is most rapid. By then, many other children – and adult staff and parents – may also be infected. Ironically, at least in Ontario, HFM is not considered a reportable disease, which allows it to spread without warning parents about outbreaks. Nor is it listed as a reportable disease on the Canada-wide lists of such diseases. You are not alone if this does not make sense to you. Any other viruses? Norwalk virus is not a respiratory virus; rather, it is viral gastroenteritis. It is characterized by diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Because it is most common during the colder months, it is sometimes referred to as Winter Stomach Flu. As with other viruses, it spreads most commonly in congregate settings like child care centres, schools, nursing homes, cruise ships and dormitories. Fortunately, it rarely escalates in severity and it passes within a few days. It should not be surprising that frequent hand washing is the best defense against Norwalk. Proper cooking of food can also kill the virus before it spreads. Staying healthy COVID-19 brought the issue of viruses to the forefront of Canadian thinking. The good news is that we are now more aware of viruses. And we are aware of public health measures to protect ourselves and others. Some viruses come and go. Examples include SARS, M Pox (formerly known as Monkeypox) and, to a lesser extent, West Nile Virus. But all viruses provide us with immunity that helps us when other viruses attack. This is true as long as we continue to be vigilant. Hand-washing won’t eliminate viruses, but it will help us fend them off should we be exposed to them. When COVID first came on the scene, many performers created songs and ditties about washing hands. Here is a Canadian version. It should remind us all that COVID is not the only virus. The post COVID-19 is not the only virus appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Health, COVID-19]

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[l] at 9/20/23 10:16am
As people worldwide join forces to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis, the industry largely responsible for turning up the heat is doubling down on efforts to keep record profits rolling. Paying for media and “influencer” campaigns, selling “natural” gas as a climate solution, attacking electric vehicles, holding conferences, garnering support from political and media entities — the fossil fuel industry employs many strategies to maintain its lucrative hold on global economies and lives. In a system where billionaires, corporations and the politicians they’ve bought hold the economic reins, and the “invisible hand of the market” and constant growth are considered efficient ways to produce and distribute societal goods and needs, the industry’s actions make sense. But if you understand global climate disruption, biodiversity loss, ecological collapse and increasingly unpredictable and devastating impacts, you know it’s suicidal. It’s not difficult to become so indoctrinated into a system you’ve lived within all your life that imagining another way is a challenge. What coal, oil and gas companies are doing is treated as “normal.” Their numbers are listed on stock exchanges, governments subsidize and proselytize for them, news media chart their progress in positive tones — all while they step up efforts to continue exploiting and profiting from products that put us in increasing jeopardy. Scientists everywhere are warning that we’re nearing dangerous tipping points and feedback loops — if we haven’t arrived already. What’s industry’s response? Suncor, a member of oilsands group the Canadian Pathways Alliance, is the latest to bail on renewable energy work and commitments. CEO Rich Kruger said the company had been focusing too much on the long-term energy transition and not enough on “the business drivers of today” — meaning oilsands operations. The company sold its wind and solar power assets last year, “getting out of the renewable energy business it had been involved in for more than two decades,” BNN Bloomberg reports. Other companies are also focusing on fossil fuels, and cutting jobs. But doubling down on polluting fuels in the thick of crises they’re causing is a tough sell. Industry has responded with the same types of massive communications, greenwashing and gaslighting campaigns it’s been employing for decades, fully aware of the devastating consequences of using its products as intended. I don’t know how fossil fuel executives sleep at night. Even more galling, as they rake in unprecedented financial gain, they keep coming to governments asking for public money. Industry wants, and usually gets, subsidies for everything from largely unproven, expensive technologies such as carbon capture and storage — favoured mostly as a way to keep fossil fuels burning — to cleaning up drilling sites to electrifying liquefied “natural” gas operations. When governments acquiesce, the money comes from taxpayers. Despite promises by industrialized countries since 2009 to end inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, the world’s nations invested US$1.4 trillion in public money in 2022 alone! (Canada recently announced an end to some subsidies.) But, with help from politicians and media, fossil fuel spokespeople work to spin the industry as responsible, necessary, clean and part of the solution to the climate crisis. The full-on campaign to sell fracked methane gas as a “natural” climate solution is the latest. Although the idea that “natural” gas should be a transition or “bridge” fuel has been around for well over a decade (you’d think we’d have crossed the bridge by now), there’s a renewed push as the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupts supplies and drives prices higher. Gas may have once had a role as a bridge fuel — even though it’s responsible for some of the most potent emissions and other environmental damages — but that time has passed. Costs of cleaner energy from wind and solar are dropping rapidly as technologies, including storage, improve. Most renewable energy is already less expensive than energy from coal, oil or gas — and less polluting! Fossil fuel companies are also targeting a former ally, the automobile industry, with ads depicting electric vehicles as “an onerous tethering to the grid.” And they’re paying popular social media “influencers” to do their public relations. It’s a desperate push for corporate survival that puts human survival at risk. It’s past time to end the fossil fuel era. The industry must adapt and change or get out of the way. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with David Suzuki Foundation Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at davidsuzuki.org. The post To turn down the heat, we have to end the era of fossil fuels appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Economy, Environment, greenwashing]

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[l] at 9/20/23 8:00am
In the launch of our fifth season, we are pleased to welcome back author, public intellectual and director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, Vijay Prashad. Taking us through the recent economic summits of BRICS and the G20, as well as the cascade coups in West Africa, Prashad delves into the rapid and stunning changes taking place in the world today, where they came from and what this could mean for a changing world order. Is it multipolarity or is it something else? In speaking of the origins of the BRICS bloc of economically emerging nations, Prashad says: “You know, its interesting because its almost as if people in the West were blindsided by the appearance of this thing called BRICS and recently, of course, the term Global South … theres a straight line between the anti-colonial struggles of the 19th century and these developments now … And so the BRICS isnt some invention of the Goldman Sachs economists. It didnt come out of nowhere. Its part of a long history by these countries to fight for economic sovereignty, political democracy on the world stage in one sense or the other, and then some kind of economic parity.” Prashad also reflects on the history of coups in the Global South and those now taking place in West Africa: “In many parts of the Third World, especially during the period of the debt crisis and subsequent to that. .. there was a sense that nothing is going to change. You know, people resigned themselves to a kind of futility There is a sense of resignation to decay. We are not going to be able to develop. Were not going to be able to advance These coups, two of them in Mali, two of them in Burkina Faso, one in Niger, one in Gabon, these coups represent the frustration of their populations. And thats a reality. Thats hard to take away. And thats why millions of people across the Sahel have been coming out to defend these coups.” Tune in to my conversation with Vijay Prashed on summits, coups and an empowered Global South that says, “we are not afraid of the West anymore.” About today’s guest: Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, Vijay Prashad is an historian, journalist, researcher, activist and a prolific writer. He has over 30 books to his name, including: The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World; The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South; Red Star Over the Third World; and Washington Bullets: A History of CIA, Coups, and Assassinations. He is the chief correspondent for Globetrotter, a columnist for Frontline News and chief editor of Leftword Books. Transcript of this episode can be accessed at georgebrown.ca/TommyDouglasInstitute or here. Image: Vijay Prsahd / Used with permission. Music: Ang Kahora. Lynne, Bjorn. Rights Purchased. Intro Voices: Ashley Booth (Podcast Announcer); Bob Luker (Tommy); Grace Taruc-Almeda, Karin Maier and Jim Cheung (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 BRICS: Summits, coups and a changing world order appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: World Politics, Courage My Friends]

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[l] at 9/20/23 7:00am
Each year, we here at rabble ask our readers: “What are the organizations that inspire you? Who are the people leading progressive change? Who are the rabble rousers to watch?” Every year, your responses introduce us to a new group of inspiring activists. This is our ‘rabble rousers to watch’ series. Follow our rabble rousers to watch here.  Up next on our rabble rousers to watch list of 2023 is the Wondrous Tree Fellowship, a community-based environmental group based in British Columbia. We spoke with Nancy Furness, an organizer with the fellowship, about the work they are doing to educate and inspire the community around them on forest protection and the healing powers of nature. Nancy Furness of the Wondrous Tree Fellowship. A conversation with Wondrous Tree Fellowship organizer, Nancy Furness Editors’ note: This interview has been edited for length.rabble.ca: Can you tell us about the work that youre doing with your organization? Nancy Furness: Wondrous Tree Fellowship is a community-based group that works to raise awareness and appreciation around all the wonderful things that trees do. Trees help mitigate the effects of a rapidly-changing climate by storing carbon, provide valuable ecological services and are integral to human physical and mental well-being.  We strive to protect trees in our own and neighbouring communities using the three-pillared approach of education, advocacy and celebration.  We provide free, public education on the roles that trees play by hosting guided tree walks, salmon-cycle walks, workshops on the health benefits of trees, kid’s nature art days, movie nights, and knowledgeable speakers. Weve created a local museum exhibit and display boards for community events. Both elementary and high schools invite us to lead nature walks, pollinator workshops, and foraging workshops.  Advocacy takes the form of attending environmental rallies, and organizing our own protests including Lost Species Day at local MLA’s offices and Farewell to a Tree rallies. We meet with elected representatives at all levels and are frequent contributors to our community papers.  We also work collaboratively with other environmental groups and municipalities to host the ‘TriCites Urban Forest Forum’ series where we bring experts, elected representatives, city staff, arborists, environmental consultants, students, and members of the public together to discuss how to best address challenges of increased development, population pressures, and effects of a rapidly changing climate on the health of our regional urban forest. Reconciliation is always on our minds too. We recently collaborated with a Tsartlip First Nation artist, other local artists, and BC Culture Days to produce a short, nature-based film ‘Weaving our Story Towards Reconciliation.’ May Day Parade | Photo courtesy of the Wondrous Tree Fellowship. Despite busy schedules, we never forget to take time to celebrate. We get creative and participate as a ‘Walking Forest’ complete with the Green Man, Forest Fairies, walking trees, colourful mushrooms and forest creatures in the annual May Day Parade. We also celebrate the Winter Solstice with Celtic costumes and a winter hike in the forest. Several years ago we hosted a Jack-o-Lantern Festival which drew an enthusiastic crowd of over 4,000 people.  We never turn down the opportunity to take someone on a walk in the forest – what better way to celebrate nature!  rabble.ca: How did you first get involved in activism? NF: I have personally been a life-long activist participating in many environmental groups. My first involvement was a high school walkout protesting the Amchitka nuclear bomb testing in 1971 just prior to the formation of Greenpeace. I witnessed then the power of standing up and speaking out. Many years later, I was fortunate to connect with folks in my neighbourhood who share my connection to and love of nature. We watched together as healthy, mature trees in our municipality were being replaced by concrete and parking lots. We stood up and spoke out.  Despite meeting with the elected representatives and decision-makers and organizing a protest, we were unable to save a single tree from downtown clear-cut developments. In the end, we lost over 200 trees from our once leafy, small downtown core. We realized then that we had a lot of hard work ahead in raising awareness and sharing our knowledge and love of the urban forest not only with elected representatives, but also with children and their families. It was time to get the whole community involved. Wondrous Tree Fellowship (with an appropriate acronym) was born out of the need to take meaningful action to stop the erosion of our urban forest. We have now grown beyond the borders of our own small community and are successfully engaging with neighbouring municipalities. rabble.ca: What does being nominated as a ‘rabble rouser to watch’ mean to you? NF: Wondrous Tree Fellowship is deeply honoured to be nominated as a ‘rabble rouser to watch. It means that our work is being noticed and our voice will be heard by a larger community of engaged citizens.  Activists rarely get the opportunity to share their stories through major media channels, so it is with gratitude and humility that I share ours with you. I hope that by sharing our story and experiences we can inspire others despite challenges and barriers faced, to get creative and take action to make their communities better and healthier places to live.  rabble.ca: How do you take care of yourself and find the drive to keep going?  NF: I’m a firm believer that the best way to take care of yourself and to keep going is to stay well connected to family and/or friends and to nature.  Our group has formed an especially close and supportive ‘circle of friends’. We share a deep respect for each other and for the trees and natural spaces that surround us.  When things get tough, we take care of ourselves by heading to the local trails where conversations and ideas flow easily. If we’re not in the forest, we might be out on the water in kayaks.  The drive to keep going comes with the loss of liveability we witness in our cities each time a healthy, mature tree needlessly falls.  rabble.ca: What is one goal you have in the next year?  NF: Our main goal over the next year is to continue to do the hard and rewarding work of fostering a deep connection between two vastly different organisms sharing one small planet.  We will hold traditional events such as our Earth Day Tree Walk, Kids Nature Art Day, the Lost Species Day rally and the Winter Solstice Celebration. We will also continue to work collaboratively with other environmental groups on events such as the TriCities Urban Forest Forum (TUFF) series. Speakers for the next forum have already been confirmed – and will be announced shortly.    Within the overarching goal of connection, we are in communication with several other groups doing good work to protect trees in their own communities. We hope to build on those relationships to form a broader network of support and collaboration. Building a coalition of tree protectors will give us all a stronger voice when we speak out for the trees. rabble.ca: What do you wish people knew about the organizing you do?  NF: The success of Wondrous Tree Fellowship depends on the knowledge, creativity, and passion of our members. Each of our members brings their own level of commitment to the table.  We receive no funding from any level of government or corporation. Instead, support comes from the generosity of our members, the community, and honoraria received for educational workshops and speaking engagements. This creates challenges, but also really pushes us to organize in a non-biased, creative and collaborative way.   We share resources and collaborate with our local libraries, artists, musicians, small businesses, educational facilities, community television, and other environmental groups to deliver successful programs and events.  We also try to organize events that reach a wider audience. For example, we engage the writing community by holding story-writing contests – an anthology was even published of The Greatest Tree Stories Ever Told by authors from ages six to 95 from stories collected through our contests – “Knit-bombing” trees draws in avid knitters and ‘Yoga Under the Trees’ reaches out to the yoga community. Our programs and events are organized in a way that is inclusive and without barriers. Events are offered at no cost to participants. I would like people to know that everything we organize is done in a spirit of love for nature and hope for the future.  The post Join the Wondrous Tree Fellowship and save the trees in your community! appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Political Action, rabble rousers to watch series, trees]

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[l] at 9/19/23 12:52pm
At the opening of the first question period of the 2023 fall parliamentary session, the supremely confident – in fact, almost smug – Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre jumped on the hot issue of housing costs.  Poilievre suggested prime minister Trudeau has, over his eight-years in office, single-handedly “doubled the rent, doubled mortgage payments, and doubled the needed down payment.” “It took him eight years to cause this housing hell,” the leader of the opposition thundered. “How long will it take to fix it?” In the Conservative leader’s view, one person and one person alone must take 100 per cent of the blame for a crisis in affordable housing that has been building for decades.  That person is the current prime minister. Neither greedy landlords nor profiteering real-estate corporations figure in Poilievre’s calculations.  Nor do any of the policies of predecessor governments.  Poilievre never mentions the Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin Liberal government, which pulled the federal government out of social housing business, nor Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, who doubled down on their Liberal predecessors’ cuts and pushed full-steam ahead with the financialization of rental housing. Nor does Poilievre offer even the slightest criticism of the provincial governments, most of which, these days, are Conservative.  Justin Trudeau got himself in trouble, not too long ago, when he was so impolitic as to point out that housing, in Canada, is primarily a provincial responsibility.  The fact that Trudeau happened to be accurate didn’t help – in part, perhaps, because federal governments of all stripes have for many decades used their spending powers to get deeply involved in areas of provincial jurisdiction.  Consider, for example, the deep federal involvement in health care and post-secondary education funding, which goes back to the 1960s. The Accelerator Fund and a break on the HST In parliament Trudeau did not resort to arcane jurisdictional arguments. Instead, he pointed to his government’s very recent housing deal with the city of London, ON, the first agreement under the umbrella of the federal Housing Accelerator Fund.  The Trudeau government created that $4 billion Accelerator Fund more than a year ago, in its 2022 budget. The Fund’s stated goal is to fast-track the creation of 100,000 new notionally middle-class homes across Canada by 2024-2025. But the Accelerator has been slow to accelerate. The very first Fund agreement, with the city of London, is for $74 million, and will build 2,000 homes. It is but a tiny step toward the goal of 100,000 homes under construction a year from now. The prime minister did not explain, in touting the deal with one mid-size Ontario city, why it has taken so long for the government to put the Accelerator Fund into action. The Liberals’ other housing initiative, this one aimed at the rental market, is to remove the federal portion of the HST from new rental construction projects.  A number of provinces, notably Ontario, have signaled they will do the same with their (much larger) portion of the sales tax. The Liberal announcement garnered much praise for that move.  Their New Democratic partners were muted in their response. They welcomed the announcement, but expressed concern that the tax relief was not targeted at construction of affordable rental homes. For the Conservatives, the HST is not the tax that counts. They have the tax on pollution, the carbon tax in their sights. Pierre Poilievre wants Canadians to believe everything that ails this country economically – especially inflation – can be blamed on the carbon tax.  The only time the Conservatives talk, even indirectly, about the environment and climate change is when they promise to “ax the tax”. In the House, Poilievre tried to yoke the Bloc Québécois to the Liberals on the carbon tax issue. In French, he asked about the notional Liberal support for a Bloc proposal that the federal government “radically” increase the carbon tax.   (Poilievre seemed to be referring to a Bloc suggestion, two years ago, that carbon taxes be increased from $23 per tonne to $30 per tonne in provinces where greenhouse gas emissions are above average. That would mean more tax for Alberta, but not for Quebec.) Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault took the carbon tax question.  In contrast to the Conservative leader, the minister directly addressed the wildfires which afflicted Canada this past summer, offering sympathy and condolences to the victims. Guilbeault ignored Poilievre’s political jab at the Bloc. Instead, he underscored the need for “responsible” governments to both “invest in the fight against climate change” and “support Canadians during these difficult times.” Liberals distract from rhetorical antics in the House The first day of the new parliament seemed destined to feature a starring role for a triumphant Pierre Poilievre basking in favourable poll numbers and his widely praised performance at the Conservatives’ end-of-summer convention. But the Liberals managed to create two major distractions from the theatrics on the Hill. Industry minister François-Philippe Champagne and other government officials met with the CEOs of Canada’s largest grocery chains with a view to controlling food-price inflation.  The price of basic foodstuffs has been increasing at a far greater rate than inflation overall, while the food retail giants are making near-record profits. After a two-hour meeting the minister emerged to say the companies have agreed to work with the government to “stabilize prices” – whatever that might mean. The jury’s out on that deal.  The Trudeau government is making vague threats about some kind of excess profit tax if the food retailers do not play ball, but it is not the sort of thing Liberals have ever shown an inclination to do. Nor is it clear such a tax would have any impact on prices. The bigger distraction from the first day’s onslaught of Conservative rhetoric was Trudeau’s surprise announcement at the end of question period. The PM told fellow members of parliament Canada had expelled an Indian diplomat for his role in the murder of a Canadian citizen, Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot on June 18 of this year, outside a Sikh temple in Surrey BC. Trudeau’s shocking announcement elicited reaction and headlines worldwide. Here at home, the opposition parties expressed not a word of dissent.  Pierre Poilievre said: “If these allegations are true, they represent an outrageous affront to Canadas sovereignty. Our citizens must be safe from extrajudicial killings of all kinds, most of all from foreign governments.”  The New Democrats’ Jagmeet Singh got personal. He talked about his own Sikh upbringing:  “I grew up hearing many stories that said if someone raised concerns about human rights violations in India, they might be denied a visa, or that if they went back India, they could suffer violence, torture and even death … but to hear the Prime Minister of Canada corroborate a potential link between a murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil and a foreign government is something I could never have imagined.” Singh than added: “I want to speak directly to people of Indian descent who have come to Canada and who spoke justice and spoke truth to power, and who challenged the oppressive practices of India: caste violence, violence against women, systemic abuse of minority communities and systemic abuse of the poor. I want to speak directly to those activists. Governments around the world are trying to silence them. The Indian government, and the Modi government specifically, is attempting to silence them, but truth cannot be silenced. Justice cannot and will not be silenced.” Strong words.  In other situations, some might have called out Jagmeet Singh for being “anti-Indian” and too sympathetic to Sikh extremists. That is no doubt the official Indian government view. But on Monday, in the wake of the prime minister’s announcement, nobody gained said the NDP leader.  Still, the fallout from this event is just beginning.  India has, as expected, retaliated by expelling a Canadian diplomat. It is not yet clear, however, how this new and exacerbated conflict between Canada and the world’s most populous country will evolve. The post Parliament returns with rhetoric and a bombshell allegation appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Carbon Tax, india, Jagmeet Singh, Justin Trudeau, parliament, Pierre Poilievre]

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[l] at 9/19/23 8:21am
A military museum celebrating Canadians who fought in Vietnam highlights the Department of National Defence (DND)’s propaganda apparatus and Canada’s role in the horrendous US war.  Recently, the Canadian Forces’ Lookout Newspaper reported on an exhibit at HMCS Alberni Museum & Memorial. It noted:  “The memorial contains the names of 149 Canadians who were killed in Vietnam while serving with the United States Armed Forces (USAF), seven soldiers Missing In Action (MIA), two Canadian military personnel killed in action while serving with the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC), and two Canadian soldiers who were reported MIA with the ICSC who were not volunteers fighting with the US military.  Rob Purvis, Canadian Vietnam Veterans Association President and founder, organized the travelling memorial’s visit to HAMM and said the names are unknown to most Canadians.  Over 20,000 Canadians volunteered to fight or participate in the USAF operations in Vietnam.”  Lookout Newspaper is one of dozens of DND papers, journals, websites, social media accounts, etc. HMCS Alberni Museum & Memorial is sponsored by the Organization of Military Museums of Canada, which is backed by DND’s Directorate of History and Heritage.  DND’s Directorate of History and Heritage, HMCS Alberni Museum & Memorial and Lookout paper are part of the military’s vast propaganda apparatus, which includes hundreds of full-time public relations officials, multiple educational institutions and funding for university programs, think tanks and war commemorations. As I detail in A Propaganda System: How Canadas government, corporations, media and academia sell war and exploitation, the Canadian military has by far the largest public relations apparatus in the country.  Reflecting the imperialist character of military PR, the Lookout article ignored criticism of a war that left three million Vietnamese dead. The more than 20,000 Canadians who fought there were but a minor element of this country’s contribution to US violence in Southeast Asia, which included spying, delivering US bombing threats, testing chemical weapons and selling huge amounts of arms.  Top Canadian officials repeatedly endorsed US violence. In 1965 Prime Minister Lester Pearson said, “the government and great majority of people of my country have supported wholeheartedly the US peacekeeping and peacemaking policies in Vietnam.”  As the US military buildup in Vietnam grew, Canadian weapons sales to the US doubled between 1964 and 1966. Between 1965 and 1973, Canada sold $2.5 billion ($20 billion today) worth of war materials to the Pentagon.  During its war in Southeast Asia the US tested Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown. A 1968 US Army memorandum titled “defoliation tests in 1966 at base Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada” explained: “The department of the army, Fort Detrick, Maryland, has been charged with finding effective chemical agents that will cause rapid defoliation of woody and Herbaceous vegetation. To further develop these objectives, large areas similar in density to those of interest in South East Asia were needed. In March 1965, the Canadian ministry of defense offered Crops Division large areas of densely forested land for experimental tests of defoliant chemicals. This land, located at Canadian forces base Gagetown, Oromocto, New Brunswick, was suitable in size and density and was free from hazards and adjacent cropland. The test site selected contained a mixture of conifers and deciduous broad leaf species in a dense undisturbed forest cover that would provide similar vegetation densities to those of temperate and tropical areas such as South East Asia.”  As the West’s representative in the International Control Commission (ICC), which as part of the 1954 Geneva Accords was supposed to help reunify North and South Vietnam, Canadian officials “bolstered South Vietnam in defiance of the Geneva accords.” Canadian ICC officials also spied on North Vietnam for the US and even delivered US bombing threats to the North. In the foreword to my Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt, Noam Chomsky argues that Canada’s former Prime Minister abetted war crimes by having Canadian ICC officials deliver US bombing threats to the North Vietnamese leadership in 1964.  Half a century after the conclusion of the war a military publication and museum celebrates the Canadians who fought in a crassly imperialistic war that left millions dead.   The lesson? Canada is and always has been a willing participant in colonialism, imperialism and empire.  Remember, learn and work to change it. The post Military PR hails Canada’s role in war against Vietnam appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics]

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[l] at 9/18/23 1:57pm
Content warning: The following story contains details of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 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. Monday, September 18 is an International Day of Action for Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit Peoples (MMIWG2S). Rallies are being held across the country to pressure the government of Manitoba to search a Winnipeg area landfill for the bodies of murdered Indigenous women. A Winnipeg man was arrested in May of 2022 in connection with the suspected murder of at least four Indigenous women. The remains of Morgan Beatrice Harris, Marcedes Myran, along with the remains of a third, unidentified woman who has been named Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or “Buffalo Woman,” by the community are believed to be in the Brady Rd. landfill. For more than a year, the Manitoba provincial government under Premier Heather Stefanson has resisted calls to have the landfill searched and the bodies recovered so they can be given a respectful burial and so that their families can be given closure. READ MORE: Search demanded in Winnipeg-area landfill; government apathy condemned Stefanson has cited concerns about the cost and safety of conducting such a search, which her government believes makes such an action unfeasible. Sit-ins planned across Canada Families of MMIWG2S and their supporters are organizing sit-ins and other rallies are being planned in major cities across the country including Ottawa (ON), Montreal (QC), Prince George (BC), New Denver (BC), and of course, Winnipeg. Indigenous leaders, unions, and other non-profit organizations have spoken out in support of the day. A statement from Amnesty International Canada reads:  “Indigenous grassroots organization Families of Sisters in Spirit and Amnesty International Canada, in a joint statement, have urged the Governments of Canada and Manitoba to listen to the urgent calls of MMIWG2S+ families, community members and advocates to immediately search and bring home the remains of Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, Marcedes Myran and Morgan Harris.”  The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) national office has offered to provide support to the City of Winnipeg to help support a search of the landfill. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) made a post in support of the day on X (formerly Twitter) as did NDP MP Leah Gazan. Today is the national day of action to #SearchTheLandfill. In Ottawa, in #WinnipegCentre, and across the country, communities are gathering in solidarity with MMIWG2S, survivors, and families. No more excuses. Bring our relatives home. pic.twitter.com/QW8sT2M5c9— Leah ProudLakota (she/her) (@LeahGazan) September 18, 2023 Gazan is an Indigenous woman who represents the riding of Winnipeg Centre. Gazan has been a strong advocate on the issue of MMIWG2S in Parliament, including through her introduction of a motion to implement a national Red Dress Alert system to help prevent and solve cases like the one that led to this current tragedy in Winnipeg. Gazan’s motion passed unanimously in the House of Commons this past May. The post National rallies call for Winnipeg landfill to be searched appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Indigenous, Leah Gazan, MMIWG2S, Winnipeg]

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[l] at 9/18/23 12:59pm
When Taylor first read her termination notice, they were shocked and confused. A yoga instructor of five years, they were informed by their studio owner that they werent performing up to expectations. Those feelings gave way to frustration and anger as they realized the claims were totally bogus. They put together a rebuttal, pushing back with facts proving they not only met the standards set out in their contract, but exceeded them. They mentioned the several times they had classes cancelled by the studio at the last minute and one class cancelled permanently only months into their employment. This response was ignored, as was a follow up email. Despite being given a termination date set weeks in the future, they were banned from teaching effectively immediately. All of these actions the sudden termination, the manufactured reason, the lack of the response and all the cancelled classes were entirely legal,and apparently not uncommon. From interviews, private conversations and anonymous responses to a survey, over two dozen teachers in Toronto as well as a handful of studio owners have made clear that the current yoga teaching system is not sustainable. Despite its popularity, the yoga industry is largely unregulated, ungoverned and oversaturated. In a post-pandemic environment where costs are rising and more people are comfortable doing yoga at home, studios, whether greedy or simply cash-strapped, are underpaying teachers who have little protection or recourse. As a result, many teachers look out for themselves and seek creative, if not sometimes dubious, means to make money of their own. Everyone is tied to a system that doesn’t seem to work for anyone, but that no one person can truly push back on by themselves. Taylor (who didn’t want to use their real name for fear of reprisal) said their situation is pervasive.  “This is a huge problem,” said Taylor, adding that even though colleagues close to them went through similar experiences, “I don’t expect anyone to have to speak on my behalf for this.”  They also made a comment that would be echoed by many people I spoke with about why they were alone in fighting back.  “Teachers want to protect their jobs too. No one wants to lose their income,” added Taylor. “I’m just left to deal with it and move on.” Contract Struggles Part-time positions are uncommon and full-time permanent opportunities are almost nonexistent for teachers (some studios may have full-time positions for managerial or administrative staff). Most teachers are independent contractors, with no rights under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). They are not afforded minimum wage, overtime pay, public holidays, vacation with pay, notice of termination or termination pay. Being labelled an independent contractor alone is not the issue. In fact, a fair amount of teachers prefer this arrangement. However, persistent low pay and an increase in the number of teachers seeking jobs creates an untenable arrangement. Currently, it’s common to be paid between $40 and $50 for teaching one class in Toronto, a wage that was higher before the pandemic.  “Its harder than its ever been, and already it was challenging,” said Jordan, who despite a history of being outspoken about this industry, opted to use a pseudonym. They attested to being paid anywhere from $60 to $100 in the past. “As life has gotten more expensive, they are paying us less,” they added. While some studios may offer attendance bonuses, there is more to just teaching an hour flow. An hour class needs to be sequenced in some cases, with music paired to the flow. Travel time and cost of transport needs to be considered. And it’s not $40 or $50 an hour; teachers tend to show up 10 to 20 minutes early and stay after. Some may have back-to-back classes at a studio, spaced 15 to 30 minutes apart, but that convenience can be hard to come by. The per class rate quickly becomes diluted, making it difficult to piece together a reasonable salary working full time. Jen Stackhouse, in addition to teaching yoga also works at rabble.ca, tried. Having earned her first teacher training certificate in 2003, she navigated the industry as a teacher and studio manager, but encountered universal problems trying to survive from working in the yoga industry. “I tried for almost one year [to teach full time],” she said during a Zoom call. “I was teaching up to 25 classes a week, including nights and weekends, driving everywhere, really trying to make a go of it. One day I realized I was giving all of myself, and the reciprocity is not there, financially or energetically.” “At the top of the list is you have to pay rent. I just wasn’t making enough money.” This speaks to the apparent two paths to yoga teaching. The first is to hustle, bouncing around from studio to studio while offering workshops and private classes to put together a living. The second is to find a full-time job that lends benefits and better pay in order to support part-time teaching as a hobby or passion. Stackhouse tried the former before succumbing to the latter, returning to work as a waitress to make money.  “You’re teaching wellness, you’re teaching self-care, but you’re living in this chaos, trying to make end’s meet,” Stackhouse said. Patricia McPherson, a teacher of 10 years, spoke of what’s needed to make this a full-time living.  “I teach at five studios,” she wrote in an email. “When I was building my resume, I was teaching 13 to 15 classes a week to make rent. With time, experience and consistent discipline you will be able to provide value for a higher rate.” McPherson currently teaches around 10 classes a week, transiting between CymeTree at Bloor & Avenue, Circle Pilates in midtown and others around the city. That movement across neighbourhoods is essential to success for teachers.  Jaffer Hussain, a Toronto-based teacher of eight years, recommends teachers better understand the contract relationship and leverage that arrangement.  “Teachers must accept the responsibility of being a business,” he wrote in an email. “They have the right to act like their own business, serve their needs first, ask for raises and choose to walk away if their rate isn’t met. Many teachers sign the agreement and walk in as if they’re an employee and build the entire studio-teacher relationship from this place.” Like many others, Hussain hustles, teaching at Altea Active, Yoga Space, Good Space and Equinox while curating events and offering private and on-demand classes at his website.  “There’s nothing wrong with a studio asking you to be there 15 to 30 minutes before and after [class] if you can leverage that time to build meaningful connections with the students coming in” said Hussain. “Too many are afraid to ask for a raise, to announce their social handles at the end of class, to simply market themselves. All of this fear gives owners more power and control.” Still, there are teachers that prefer the flexibility and freedom of being an independent contractor, though many have alternative sources of income and protection, most often in the form of a full-time job. While teachers are split on their desired employment status, most agree their needs to be an organized entity that advocates for teachers. Studio Control Studios can take advantage of this hustle. Teachers need to be active on social media to build a brand, and studios easily piggyback off this without offering compensation. Teachers also spoke of having to answer phones, coming in early to sign in clients and staying late to clean up. In some cases they may be the only person working at the studio, meaning they have to wait until class is about to start to lock up and close doors and then be the first to open things up again. Many mentioned doing other work for free because of the potential for advancement if they did, or the potential for punishment if they didn’t. A common practice by studios is to hold free “community classes,” welcoming individuals who may not be able to pay for a class to enjoy a practice. What isn’t disclosed is most of the time these studios do not pay teachers; the burden of the free class is put on teachers while the studio gets attention for their apparent altruism. Studios employ common phrases, saying “you’ll get exposure” and “build your brand.” Some studios may offer compensation for cancelled classes, but any guarantees must be written into the contract. If they’re not in there, you just have to trust the owner.  Stackhouse recalled working for a studio that promised a pay increase within a year. After twice asking for more money and twice being denied, she quit. “It was in my contract that if you resigned or were taken off the schedule, there was to be a month’s notice,” recalled Stackhouse. “I wasn’t given that. Just before I walked into a class I was told this will be your last.”  She mentioned teachers coming to her after she resigned, confiding in her that they felt underpaid and disrespected, but didn’t want to speak up for fear of losing out. The pandemic hurt studios, with some shutting down and others scrambling to create online classes to stay afloat. Hussain lamented those closures, but also argues that teachers are business too, and they in their own way had to “close.” “They had to lose their entire income during the pandemic,” Hussain wrote. “And yet many were asked to come back at less than pre-pandemic rates to ‘help’ the studios out; meanwhile the cost of everything else in life went up.” “It’s unfair to have teachers pay the price while studios have raised prices for the customers at the same time. If you can’t afford to pay your teachers, you can’t afford to be in business,” Hussain added. Stacy Chong, owner of Toronto Yoga Co., which will be celebrating its five-year anniversary this fall, talked about how being a teacher can and does inform studio operations to create a more equitable and comfortable environment for everyone.  “I knew deep down I didnt want there to be competition between teachers,” she said. “The stress of being sick, of going on vacation, of taking mat leave, of having to travel across the city…It’s stressful for them, and it’s stressful for the front desk. It’s just not realistic.” Chong, who still teaches at two other studios as an independent contractor, solicits input on issues like branding and pay structure. She also allows long-term teachers to choose between being part-time employees and independent contractors. Suspect Programs One anonymous teacher referred to the industry as a “pyramid scheme.” At the top is the Yoga Alliance, a global body of sorts based out of Virginia that seems to have a monopoly over teaching training certification. In 2010, about 10 years after it was founded, Yoga Alliance set forth a core curriculum for groups to train students. If you register with Yoga Alliance to become a Registered Yoga School (for an initial $640 USD and yearly dues after that), you can train others to become Registered Yoga Teachers.  Diane Bruni was a vocal advocate of yoga in Toronto from the time she founded the studio Downward Dog right up until her passing in 2021. Credited with popularizing yoga in the city while adding a modern touch to the experience, Bruni was beloved by teachers and honest about the business side of the industry. “I resist the Yoga Alliance, and consider it a useless organization that charges yoga studios for a certification that means almost nothing,” wrote Bruni in a blog post from June 4, 2015. “Every year we were sent reminders to pay the renewal fees. After a few years, I realized that Yoga Alliance had never followed up to confirm that we were teaching what we had described. No studio owner I knew had ever been called or contacted by the Yoga Alliance, except when the time came to pay dues.” Still, a Registered Yoga School can train students to obtain their 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher Training Certification, a tuition in Toronto that typically runs between $3,000 and $4,000. One way by which many studios save money is through so-called “Energy Exchange,” a program which offers free classes or memberships in return for unpaid labour. While Ontario does not specify outlaw Energy Exchange, the means by which many studios conduct this program raises questions about its legality. The ESA is clear that just because an employee calls someone an independent contractor, a volunteer or an intern does not mean those designations are accurate. It is the duties performed and the relationship between the parties that determine employment status. Like teachers, some energy exchanges have full time jobs elsewhere, so they often don’t mind the arrangement. Others are hopeful teachers, eager to please and optimistic their unpaid work will earn opportunities in the future. Teachers often offer private lessons at a higher cost, which allows them to continue teaching at studios, while also holding pop-ups and workshops. Where it gets murky is the prevalence of “coaching.” It’s the natural evolution of a gig economy where everyone needs to find ways to monetize their skills. Coaching is an unregulated industry, where individuals sell their experiences, education and insight to others. You can go down a rabbit hole of Instagram pages of yoga teachers finding them also working as somatic movement coaches, self-love coaches, intimacy coaches, or creativity coaches.  Retreats are also common, wherein a teacher or group of teachers acts as a travel guide and organizes a trip somewhere in the world to practice yoga. It can be a mutually beneficial experience for the mind and body, but it can also act as paid vacation for teachers while students pay a high cost for the convenience of not having to do anything but show up. Studios also get in on retreats. As of this writing, YogaTree is collaborating on an event where a couple can spend over $1,500 on a 48-hour yoga retreat  to Rice Lake, just two hours from Toronto. What Can Be Done? While independent contractors are not allowed to unionize, precedent suggests that yoga teachers are, in fact, dependent contractors. In 2020, the Labour Board of Ontario released a historic decision on the gig economy allowing couriers of the food delivery service Foodora to unionize. The parallels between that industry and the yoga industry are many. Dependent contractors are those who perform work for others with whom they are economically dependent, with duties and responsibilities more closely resembling an employee than an entrepreneur. Firstly, the Board argues that the Foodora App is essential to worker’s success in the industry, that is. They are dependent on it, but Foodora wholly controls and operates it. It could be argued, similarly, that teachers are dependent on studio spaces for work. They may bring their own mats, playlists or even props, but the studio is necessary for bringing people together. The Board ruled that couriers “[working for multiple platforms] is not entrepreneurial activity… It is hard work. And hard work must not be mistaken for entrepreneurial activity.” Yoga teachers work for multiple studios. Like teachers, “Foodora couriers do not have the opportunity to increase their compensation through anything other than their labour and skill” Looking to other industries may help with the answer. Hairstylists, for example, often have the choice between being part time employees and independent contractors, with pros and cons to each. They also enter into a mutually beneficial relationship to the studio with a business model that encourages them to promote each other. Regulation seems paramount. Hairstyling is one of only 23 compulsory trades in Ontario. In order to be certified, you must complete an apprentice program that includes in-school and on-the-job training. Non-compulsory trades, of which there are 121, do not require apprenticeship. In both cases, though, there are expectations set forth by the province. Registered Massage Therapists, meanwhile, are governed by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO), which develops standards, practices and rules within the industry; notably, they are given authority through the regulated Health Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. That teachers are dealing with someone’s physical wellbeing suggests that perhaps this industry should be covered under the same or similar act. Whatever the exact solution, action needs to be taken.  “We have amazing studios, amazing teachers,” said Chong. “I think for the most part everybody is here trying to do the right thing, the good thing, but we are all bogged down with the way that its been. I think everyone wants to provide a way out.” The post Yoga instructors face job insecurity with few protections appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour]

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[l] at 9/15/23 12:27pm
I’ve been reading the obits on Peter C. Newman — editor and columnist for the Star and Maclean’s, and bestselling author- who died last week at 94. I’m surprised to find him more compelling in retrospect than I did during his lifetime, including my own interactions with him. He was in fact a bit of a joke and buffoon. He came from an era of large-living journalists — authors like Pierre Berton, Richard Gwyn, Walter Stewart, Peter Gzowski — who’d been imprinted by Ben Hecht’s The Front Page. They could indulge in self-mythologizing because they worked for big, rich institutions. It’s what made the mass media massive, along with their monopoly on information. They may’ve envied Newman’s power and success but wouldn’t have wanted to be him. He was too obviously insecure and striving. They mocked him behind his back and compiled lists of his most preposterous images, like the “raindrops that were wilting (former prime minister Brian) Mulroney’s cowlick.” Newman provided an endless supply. He didn’t hang much with those guys, or wish to. He wanted to use the power of media to reach loftier heights, as he saw them. He tended to the gnomic; in fact it was his normal. I once wrote a sketch for a radio satire show on how he intended to change Maclean’s to MacNewman’s since he produced most of its content, including a weekly feature called “The Human Newman,” where he mused about jazz he played on headphones at 4 a.m. when he rose to write his books. I was doing a piece for him and he called (there was no internet) to say only: Um, be sure to put your humour in. He considered me politically dicey and sent me to see former finance minister and Bay Street eminence Walter Gordon, with whom he hobnobbed. Gordon explained to me that capitalism was important in Canada. After I did a nasty piece for a minuscule left journal on Barbara Amiel, his star writer at Maclean’s, he waved me to his table at Gracie’s on Queen Street West to say he’d loved every word and if I repeated that, he’d deny it. But I digress. I think he, like iconic theatre critic Nathan Cohen, and Berton, yearned for a grander, gaudier Canada and when one didn’t materialize, tried to embody it themselves: Cohen by being a theatrical figure who carried a pearl-handled cane to openings which he called “pure affectation”; Berton by colourizing Canadian history (we too had pirates, in the Thousand Islands!). Newman craved a more flamboyant journalism, like Tom Wolfe’s in the U.S. As I say, there were other journalists with inflated egos but Newman was unique. He had, for instance, an appealing awareness of his own egomania. He said he and second wife Christina McCall, had a “religious difference. I thought I was God and she didn’t.” As with many penetrating, nay devastating, insights that people voice and then ignore, he never let it get in the way of living his self-obsessed existence, but he perceived it lucidly. That suggests he was more complicated than it seemed. He liked to call himself a court jester, a complimentary European term for one who speaks truth (through humour) to power. Indeed there may’ve been much of the Mittel-European manoeuvrer and schemer in him: individuals and nations squeezed between greater powers who learn to use craft and flattery to survive. It would explain some of his scuzzier traits, like sucking up to the rich. Another journalist of that era, Ian Adams, wrote, of another media figure, that he’d got so far up the Canadian Establishment’s rear end he caught a glimpse of Newman’s heels. But Newman was 11 when he arrived here, a Jew fleeing Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. He felt he never quite mastered English and titled his autobiography, Here Be Dragons, based on ancient maps of the “new world.” His contradictions were unconcealed, but that too may have been part of his cunning, his strategies for survival and success in spite of ever lurking perils. This column originally appeared in the Toronto Star. The post Remembering Peter C. Newman, a deceptively complex buffoon appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Arts, journalism, media, obituary]

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[l] at 9/15/23 8:15am
For the first time in history a song produced by a singer with no chart-success history debuted as Billboards #1. The song was sung by the American folksinger, Oliver Anthony. But the British singer Billie Bragg sang back saying that complaining was not enough and that Anthony should join a union. In other news a new General Secretary for the International Trade Union Confederation will be acclaimed. RadioLabour will be starting English as an Additional Language lessons for unionists. 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 battle of the labour songs appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour, labour]

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[l] at 9/15/23 8:00am
Today, Friday September 15, a worldwide climate strike is happening. In Canada, people are joining the fight against climate change on Parliament Hill, calling for the government to end the funding of new fossil fuel projects. The strike on Parliament Hill is organized in part by Fridays for Future Ottawa. On rabble radio this week, rabble labour reporter Gabriela Calugay-Casuga speaks to Shana Quesnel. Ahead of this day of action, the two discuss why strikes like this are crucial and the importance of youth becoming involved in climate action. Shana Quesnel is a fifth-year student at the University of Ottawa in history and political science. She is passionate about climate activism, a scene she has been part of since 2021. She is currently a volunteer for Fridays for Future Ottawa and also the co-president of Climate Justice uOttawa. 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. The post The antidote to climate doomism? Get involved! appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Environment, climate justice, Climate Strike]

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[l] at 9/15/23 4:48am
On September 11, 2001, terror struck the United States. Three thousand people were killed that day, and many more died afterwards, from the pollution at Ground Zero in New York and in the two long wars that followed in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the time, the Democracy Now! news hour broadcast from the garret of an old firehouse in Manhattan’s Chinatown, just blocks from the World Trade Center. On the program that morning, just as the planes struck the two towers, we were discussing the link between terrorism and September 11 – 1973. That was the day that the democratically elected government of Chile was violently overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup d’état. President Salvador Allende died in La Moneda, the presidential palace, that day, as General Augusto Pinochet rose to power. Allende was elected in 1970, pledging to nationalize critical sectors of the Chilean economy, like copper mining, long controlled by foreign multinational corporations while most Chileans were impoverished. Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship lasted 17 years. Many of Allende’s supporters were arrested, tortured and imprisoned. At least 3,000 were killed or disappeared, and tens of thousands were tortured. The United States government fully supported the coup and the brutal dictatorship that followed. President Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger said to aides in a meeting on June 27, 1970, several months before the Chilean election, “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.” Kissinger predicted, correctly, that Chileans would elect Allende, a democratic socialist. After Allende won, Kissinger and President Richard Nixon funded and fomented discord, destabilization and chaos in Chile. Much of what is publicly known about the U.S. role in the coup comes from declassified documents pried out of the CIA and other agencies by the National Security Archives, based in Washington, D.C. “Literally within 24 hours of the coup, [Kissinger] was in discussion…on how to help the Pinochet regime consolidate,” Peter Kornbluh, head of the Archive’s Chile Documentation Project, said on Democracy Now! “Even as people were being killed and their bodies dumped in the street and rounded up and put into a concentration camp at the stadium and bodies floating in the Mapocho River here in Santiago. Kissinger convened this committee, and we have the declassified memoranda of conversation. The officials there just started joking about the coup.” For Chileans, the coup was no joke. Ariel Dorfman, 31 years old at the time, was a cultural adviser to President Allende. He was one of the last to see Allende alive. “I was supposed to be at La Moneda that morning and dawn,” Dorfman recounted on Democracy Now! “I was supposed to have slept the night there, because…you had turns where you’re supposed to receive the news whether there was a coup happening. I switched places with one of my dear friends, who in fact was captured at La Moneda on the 11. He was tortured and then executed. So, I’m, in a sense, a survivor because of him, or at least so I felt all these years.” When asked about the U.S. sponsorship of the deadly coup, Dorfman was emphatic: “Kissinger is a war criminal. We all know that.” Dorfman said. “How do you do a counterinsurgency against a people who are armed with the vote, who are armed with their consciousness, who are armed with their desire for liberation and love for one another in solidarity? And so, he understood that he had to destroy Allende, because if Allende’s example would have spread through Latin America, then U.S. interests would have been terribly compromised.” Pinochet’s mass murder reached beyond Chile’s borders, to the heart of U.S. power. On September 21, 1976, one of Allende’s former ministers, Orlando Letelier, was assassinated in a car bombing in Washington, D.C. His assistant, 25-year-old Ronni Moffit, was killed as well. Despite almost two decades of dictatorship, Chile survived the Pinochet era committed to democracy. While still divided, the Chilean people have sent progressive candidates to office, from former president Michelle Bachelet. She and her mother were tortured under Pinochet; her father, an air force officer, was tortured to death. Chile’s current president is 37-year-old Gabriel Boric. He was a leader of Chile’s student protests over a decade ago, and won a surprise victory over a right-wing opponent last year. President Boric is planning a side trip to Washington, D.C., while attending the United Nations General Assembly this month, to visit the scene of Orlando Letelier’s assassination. Terrorism is a crime, whether committed on September 11, 2001, or in Chile on September 11, 1973 and beyond. Henry Kissinger, now 100 years old, should not be hailed as an elder statesman, but should face prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This column originally appeared in Democracy Now! The post Terrorism on September 11 in Chile appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: World Politics, 9-11, Chile, terrorism]

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[l] at 9/14/23 12:36pm
At his annual “Ford Fest” on Friday, September 8 Ontario Premier Doug Ford continued to signal his government’s willingness to persecute trans and other 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in the province’s school system. Ford told a crowd of hundreds of supporters that parents should be informed if a child chooses to change their gender pronouns in school, accusing school boards of engaging in indoctrination. “It’s not up to the teachers, it’s not up to the school boards to indoctrinate our kids,” he said. Ford’s comments come just two weeks after his Education Minister Stephen Lecce publicly stated his support for policies requiring parents to be informed if their child asks their teachers to address them by different pronouns. READ MORE: Stephen Lecce signals Ontario will adopt anti-trans policies to public outcry While Ontario has yet to actually enact such a policy, two other conservative provincial governments have done just that this summer. First New Brunswick’s Premier Blaine Higgs, then Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe both implemented policies requiring that students receive a parent’s permission to change the pronouns by which they are addressed at school if they are under the age of 16. Critics of these policies point out that trans students might not be ready to come out to their parents and may not even feel safe doing so. A study by the National Institute of Health in the US found that trans youth who were addressed with their correct pronouns had a significant reduction in suicidal behaviour and ideation. Unions say Ford is putting students’ lives at risk Both the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) slammed Ford for his anti-2SLGBTQIA+ comments. A statement from the EFTO reads:  “Premier Doug Ford made it clear that he has no idea what “school boards actually do when he dismissed their law-abiding efforts to protect 2SLGBTQ+ students’ rights. In an attempt to deflect from the ongoing Greenbelt scandal, he made dangerous, inflammatory remarks that put students, educators, and others at risk of great harm …  In a perfect climate, all students go home to a safe and supportive environment, but we know this isn’t the case for all.”  The OSSTF also highlighted how not allowing students to choose how they self-identify could put them at serious risk both academically and physically. “Denying students their autonomy to choose how they self-identify can affect their sense of self-worth and can cause emotional and social distress, leading to negative mental health outcomes, such as self-harm, bullying, and other forms of exclusion. In turn, this distress can adversely impact a student’s achievement and success in school,” reads a statement by the OSSTF. The OSSTF said they would actively fight any policy that put 2SLGBTQIA+ students at risk. “If the Ford government attempts to enact this harmful rhetoric as public policy, OSSTF will vigorously defend its members in exercising their professional judgement in creating safe schools and upholding the Ontario Human Rights Code,” the OSSTF stated. The post Teachers’ unions reject Ford’s anti-trans rhetoric appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour, LGBTIQ, 2SLGBTQIA+, Doug Ford, etfo, OSSTF]

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[l] at 9/14/23 12:25pm
In the wake of a “hot labour summer” that saw many workers fight for the livable wages they deserve, it may be deflating to hear about the rising threat of AI and automation.  Employers and corporations, ever focused on profit, are looking at the use of technology to help companies cut what is often their biggest cost: labour. But technology booms do not need to be anti-worker, they only pose a threat when used in a certain way.  Rising automation and AI are being used in creative industries in a way that threatens workers across Canada and the US.  Actors represented by the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) continue to be locked out of commercial productions. At the same time, the Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) remain on the picket line for fair wages. Amidst all this, the conversation around AI has dipped in and out of headlines. READ MORE: How technology is being used against actors and performers According to ACTRA president Eleanor Noble, AI could pose a very big threat to actors. SAG-AFTRA, WGA and ACTRA have all expressed concern over AI being used to copy a performers image or replicate a writer’s style.  “For performers our product is our voice, our face, our image, our being,” Noble previously said in an interview with rabble.ca. “For writers, its the writing skills. If we do not have any control over our product, if we are not consenting to and not being compensated for the use of our image or for being copied in some way that is just immoral and unethical.”  For postal workers, automation has also become a rising threat to people’ livelihoods.  The National Grievance Officer at the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), Carl Girouard, put out a statement last month outlining how the Canada Post’s use of technology goes against the interests of workers. Girouard said that the Canada Post is trying to grow its parcel business by “modernizing its facilities and equipment.” This modernization amounts to the testing of new technologies like automated guided vehicles, robotic parcel arms, autonomous mobile robots and even follow-me robots for letter carriers.  “For postal workers, these new technologies are a clear threat,” Girouard wrote. “While technology could be utilized to make the work easier or more ergonomic, it is mainly used to eliminate workers and jobs and increase the employer’s control of the workplace.”  AI could lead to widespread surveillance of workers The risks related to automation and AI go beyond the elimination of jobs. Professor Paul Gray from Brock University’s Labour Studies Department, said that the growing use of AI and other new technology in the workplace could mean more widespread, intense and minute surveillance of workers.  “There also has to be the demand for transparency around AI algorithms and data,” Gray said. “A lot of the so-called AI machine learning is basically just observing and reproducing the behaviors of human beings, for example how they interact on the internet.”  Gray said that transparency around algorithms used in AI could help avoid the amplification of human biases. He pointed to Amazon’s experience while testing the use of algorithms during the hiring process.  “They found consistently that [the algorithm] was biased against women,” Gray said. “Any candidate that identified as a woman was ranked lower than an equally qualified male candidate. Even after several rounds of trying to fix the problem, this consistently occurred. They ended up scrapping it altogether.” With all these threats related to AI and automation, where do the benefits come in? According to Gray, one side of the debate argues that AI could be beneficial if society adapts to a “post-work” world. The crux of this argument is that automation could lead to mass unemployment, but this need not be a bad thing. A post work world “In a post-work world the majority of people, or at least a significant minority, cant find work,” Gray said. “So people will point to potential solutions to a situation like that. There are some debates around a universal basic income as one of the policy responses to that idea.”  This view of a post-work world can seem pretty inviting. As Justice for Workers Guelph put it, “automation promised to make work easier and free more time for leisure activities.”  However the post-work world is not the only possible outcome of rising AI and automation. Gray said that he believes the other side of the debate to be more true. AI and automation will have profound impacts on work and employment, but it does not mean mass unemployment is inevitable.  “Some forms of work might be rendered obsolete,” Gray said, “but the introduction of new technologies also tends to create new forms of work as well.”  Gray pointed to the concerns that arose as computers became more integrated into the workplace. While some feared mass unemployment, the computer eventually allowed many new kinds of jobs to be possible.  When employers around the world were surveyed for the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs report, 50 per cent of survey respondents expected that technological change would lead to job creation. One of the jobs created is data work.  “I dont think many people appreciate how much ongoing labor underlies AI and tends to be made invisible,” Gray said.  There is a task based labour force that helps develop machine learning systems. There is ongoing labour to fix problems with the technology and a large number of people inputting information into technology.  However, the mere creation of jobs is not enough to soothe workers’ worries. As data work rises, we must ensure that this industry contains decent work opportunities.  “A lot of that work has been organized to be precarious, contingent, temporary and contract labour. Its often paid by the task, not periods of time. It often offers very low wages,” Gray said.  The Data Workers Union, created by the Institute of Human Obsolescence (IoHO), has highlighted some of the issues data workers face. The organization wrote on their website that they fight for the end to exploitation of the production of data and for workers to gain control over its ownership. They are also exploring the possibility of a basic income for data workers, rather than a per task payment system.  “I think, the discussions around automation and AI in particular, are often dominated by quantitative considerations instead of qualitative ones,” Professor Gray said. “Its quantitative, because people are asking, ‘Will there be more or less work?’ I think the much more relevant question is qualitative. What kinds of work are going to be available? What kind of qualitative changes are going to be introduced to work by the increasing prominence of these kinds of technologies?”  Organizing as a defence against automization Gray said that the answers to his questions are not set in stone. Workers need to organize so that the qualitative changes to their lives will be in their favour.  The work is already underway, ACTRA is calling for “guardrails” around the use of AI in creative industries. Meanwhile CUPW has said that they are working with the Canadian Labour Congress to address their concerns around automation at the Canada Post and push the federal government to adopt pro-worker laws around AI, automation, and other new technologies. “New generations of workers are trying to adapt classic organizing methods to their relatively new kinds of workplaces,” Gray explained. “Workers who want to organize online digital task based work, for example, are searching out forums. These forums are used to hear from current workers about their experiences and to get advice as people make their decision about whether or not they want to try to pursue this kind of work.”  This organizing effort underlines that automation doesn’t need to be a threat to workers. Gray said that AI and automation can have social benefits. Although job loss is a risk, there is also the hope of greater work-life balance, more ergonomic work and the creation of new jobs.  “Whether or not these technologies are introduced in humane ways depends more on social relationships and the balance of power. Workers need to organize to ensure that they have as much of a say as they can get in how these technologies are used,” Gray concluded. The post Unpacking workers hopes and fears with AI and labour appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour, Technology, ai]

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[l] at 9/14/23 9:06am
When I met climate activist Greta Thunberg in 2019, I apologized for what she’s had to do and has done so successfully as a young person: raise the alarm about the catastrophic consequences of failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It shouldn’t be youth’s job. Parents and elders should be warriors for the children’s future so they can be free to live full lives — to explore the world outside the protective nest, meet new people, form new friendships, learn about the world, find what they like and dont like. It’s never too late for the not-so-young to pick up the pace on climate action — but youth are tired of waiting for grownups to do the right thing. This month marks another round of global youth climate strikes, over the September 15 to 17 weekend. Young people are demanding a “rapid, just, and equitable end to fossil fuels.” That includes no new fossil fuels, a rapid, just and equitable phase-out, new commitments for international cooperation, an end to “greenwashing,” holding polluters responsible for the damage they’re causing and halting fossil fuel corporate capture — “corporations writing the rules of climate action, bankrolling or participating in climate talks, or undermining the global response to climate change.” If older generations truly cared about our children and grandchildren and those yet to be born, we’d listen up and stop delaying. We can’t let the fossil fuel industry and its allies continue to block and stall climate action. The world has put off acting on the climate crisis for so long that we now have months — if not weeks and days — rather than years, to seriously turn things around. Every molecule of carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere today remains for hundreds of years, fuelling the ever-increasing, unpredictable events we’re already seeing worldwide: floods, droughts, heat domes, atmospheric rivers, melting polar ice, heating oceans, growing numbers of climate migrants… Every delay in rapidly shifting to renewable energy increases costs and challenges and sets us up for accelerating severe consequences. The youth climate strikes are timely. As they wrap up, oil and gas industry representatives will meet in Calgary, from September 17 to 21, for the World Petroleum Congress, billed as “Energy Transition: The Path to Net Zero.” On September 20, representatives from around the world will gather in New York for the Climate Ambition Summit, convened by United Nations secretary general António Guterres to “accelerate action by governments, business, finance, local authorities and civil society” and demonstrate “that there is collective global will to accelerate the pace and scale of a just transition to a more equitable renewable-energy based, climate-resilient global economy.” And from November 30 to December 12, representatives from almost all nations will meet in the United Arab Emirates for COP28, the 28th UN Conference of the Parties on climate change. Those events and others should provide a spark of optimism for youth — and everyone who cares about our collective future. But young people know optimism isn’t enough, especially in the face of industry greenwashing. That COP28 is being held in an oil-producing country known for serious human rights violations and is being headed by an oil industry executive has led to cynicism and calls for a boycott. The Petroleum Congress’s focus on the energy transition and net zero leans heavily on technologies and products that will keep profits rolling in — such as carbon capture and storage, which is expensive, largely unproven and only captures production emissions and not the far greater emissions from burning the fuels. Most of the panels are made up of people from industry and oil-producing countries. And some focus on topics such as new technologies for expanded fracking! The Climate Ambition Summit, with its focus on “ambition, credibility and implementation,” offers a bit more hope, and Guterres has been a powerful champion for climate justice and action, but as young people know, massive collective action is often needed to move politicians to act. There’s no shortage of solutions, as research by the David Suzuki Foundation and others has repeatedly shown. We owe it to the youth, and to ourselves and this beautiful world, to support their movements, join their strikes and accelerate all our efforts to resolve the climate crisis. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with David Suzuki Foundation Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at davidsuzuki.org. The post Global youth climate strikes taking place this weekend appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Political Action, António Guterres, COP28, Greta Thunberg, World Petroleum Congress]

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[l] at 9/13/23 2:28pm
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)s Alberta division is calling on federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and WestJet to apologize to the passengers and crew of a flight out of Quebec City, QC to Calgary, AB after Poilievre was allowed to use the plane’s public address system to make a political speech on the flight. “WestJet’s own work rules state clearly that no one other than operating crew are to use the public address system,” reads a statement from CUPE Local 4070 president Alia Hussain, which represents cabin crew employees at WestJet. The union emphasized that it was the company, WestJet, and not that cabin crew that allowed Poilievre to make the speech, implying that this was not exactly a spontaneous stunt by the Conservative Party leader and his campaign team. Crew had no say on the matter “It’s very disappointing that WestJet management let a politician use the public address system on a recent flight for his political statement. It is doubly disappointing that WestJet is now trying to assign blame on the cabin crew for this event. The cabin crew had no input into this decision,” Hussain’s statement goes on to read. In a video of the speech that was posted by Poilievre to X (formerly Twitter), he speaks generally about “common sense” and an end to “turbulence,” metaphorically speaking. “Hello everyone, this is Pierre Poilievre. Very happy to join you on this WestJet flight back to my hometown of Calgary. Are you ready for a home you can afford? Whos ready for some common sense,” Poilievre says in the video. “Whos ready to give a big thank you to the WestJet pilot and crew. The pilot is warning of a little bit of turbulence, but it will only last about two years, at which time we will have a totally new crew and pilot in charge of the plane. We will get through the storm. Safely land, in our home, the country we know and love. Your home, my home, our home, lets bring it home.” Theres a little turbulence on the horizon. But a new crew is on the way for the country we know and love. Lets bring it home. pic.twitter.com/bW70bkW9d5 — Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) September 11, 2023 Hussain slammed WestJet for putting the cabin crew in a position where they had to take a political stance, one that they may not even agree with. “A plane’s cabin crew should never be put in a position of having to take a political stance. Giving Mr. Poilievre a platform showed bad judgement by WestJet. Mr. Poilievre showed bad judgement [by] taking that opportunity. It is the cabin crew who deal with passenger complaints. Westjet management and Mr. Poilievre should not have put them in that position,” Hussain’s statement reads. “WestJet management and Mr. Poilievre owe passengers and crew an apology,” the statement concludes. WestJet distances itself from stunt In a statement on X, WestJet CEO Alex von Hoensbroech played down the event, saying that the plane was mostly filled with delegates that had attended the Conservative Party convention that took place in Quebec City this past weekend. READ MORE: Poilievre’s rhetoric impresses many, but what about his policies? At the same time however, he said that WestJet would be reviewing its policy on this issue.“In response to the impromptu comments of Pierre Poilievre on one of our airplanes. This flight was specifically added to assist with demand for the CPC convention, and was largely filled with their delegates. The leader of the party was given the opportunity to greet delegates onboard (which is not unusual), but this was not a political endorsement nor should it be interpreted as such. We are non-partisan by nature and will revisit our policy on this,” reads von Hoensbroech’s statement on X. The post Union slams Poilievre’s use of PA system on WestJet flight appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Labour, Pierre Poilievre, WestJet]

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[l] at 9/13/23 11:35am
Brian Mulroney is in love, and the object of his affection is none other than today’s Conservative leader, Pierre Poilievre.  Mulroney was the last long-serving Progressive Conservative (PC) prime minister of Canada, from 1984 to 1993.  The further-to-the-right and more populist Reform Party (re-branded the Canadian Alliance), led by Poilievre’s mentor Stephen Harper, executed a hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservatives in 2003, something many old-style PCers could not stomach. Mulroney himself did not express much enthusiasm for the so-called merger at the time, but now he is all in. The 84-year-old retired politician was nothing less than effusive in his praise for the speech the current Conservative leader gave to his party’s recent convention.  It was the best convention speech he ever heard, Mulroney said. And, he added, he has heard a great many. Poilievre impressed the former prime minister with his ease on the stage, his apparent mastery of facts and figures (seemingly without need of notes), and with what Mulroney took to be his ability to connect with grassroots Canadians.  Many journalists and other observers were also impressed with Poilievre’s communication skills, if not with the content of what he had to say. As he watched the convention speech, veteran journalist Stephen Maher tweeted:  “Poilievre is laying out a vision of Canadian life that is going to resonate with voters. This is not the kind of thing that is punctured by fact-checking.” Poilievre’s version of common sense Indeed, Poilievre has decided to push emotional buttons rather than focus on anything so complex as the details of policy. His convention speech was a smorgasbord of attacks on Trudeau and homey, notionally empathetic, anecdotes about selected Canadians’ pain (borrowing a leaf from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh) – all leavened with banal slogans such as “bring it home” and “common sense policy”.  To those of us who have been around for a while, the catch-phrase “common sense” (in French gros bon sens) was uncomfortably familiar. Poilievre repeated the phrase multiple times and it adorned hundreds of signs at the Quebec City convention.  But the current federal Conservatives are not the first to use it.   The Mike Harris and Ernie Eves Conservatives, who governed Ontario from 1995 to 2003, called their regime the common-sense revolution.  The proudest achievement of that government was a series of deep and merciless cuts to social assistance and social services, which drove hundreds of thousands Ontario men, women and, most important, children, into a fearsome state of poverty.  The 1995-2003 Ontario government also took aim at the process of regulation. It made massive cuts to government operations, which hobbled the government’s capacity to fulfill its responsibilities and demoralized public servants.  In tandem with those cuts, the Mike Harris folks privatized many governmental roles. Those measures were not without consequences, some of which were fatal. The most notorious case happened in the small agricultural town of Walkerton. There, in the year 2000, drinking water contaminated by E.coli bacteria caused the deaths of seven people, and severe illness, in some cases debilitating and with lifelong consequences, for about two thousand others. The Harris government had earlier privatized water testing in the province, and made some of its deepest cuts to the parts of government responsible for environmental protections. It slashed spending on the environment department by $200 million and reduced its staff by 30 per cent.  A commission of inquiry concluded that those privatizations and cuts undermined the Ontario public sector’s capacity to assure health and safety, and contributed to the Walkerton tragedy. For many, the suffering and deaths of Walkerton remain the most lasting memory of the common-sense revolution.  Not so for Pierre Poilievre. Indeed, today, in 2023, government regulation, in all its forms, is among Pierre Poilievre’s chief rhetorical whipping boys.  Fire gatekeepers, end regulation The Conservative leader revels in railing against what he calls “the gatekeepers.” In fact, getting rid of so-called red tape and regulation constitutes pretty much the entirety of Poilievre’s housing policy, if it can be called a policy. The Conservatives want to use the infrastructure funding the federal government provides to cities as leverage. They will require cities to increase homebuilding by 15 per cent annually or face undefined “financial penalties”. More importantly, they want cities to “fire the gatekeepers.” Presumably, that means officials who make sure developers respect zoning, environmental and other rules. It is essentially the same policy as Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s. Unleash the power of the free marketplace and the private sector will build all the homes we need.  Miraculously, those homes will also be affordable. The only culprit Ford and Poilievre see for the current housing crisis is what they call red tape.  Poilievre relies on a 2018 C.D. Howe Institute report to support this view. That commentary does make a villain out of zoning and other regulations in some cities, such as Vancouver.  But it also gives the lie to Poilievre’s attempt to lay the blame for the rise in housing prices at the door of the current Trudeau government.  The period C.D. Howe studied, during which it found significant increases in housing costs, starts in 2007 and ends at the beginning of Trudeau’s first term, in 2016. Most of that period was in the Harper era. Beyond the red tape issue, Poilievre ignores all other causes for the lack of affordable housing. Transforming rental properties into short-term financial assets does not figure in his calculations.  Real estate investment trusts (REITs) constitute a favourite new vehicle for housing financialization in Canada. The federal Liberals have been slow off the mark to deal with this new threat to affordable rental housing, but at least recognize it is an issue they must deal with. But we heard not a word on REITs from Poilievre. Neither does Poilievre ever mention the consequences of the federal government’s abandonment of the public housing field way back in the 1990s.  And nor does he seem to consider foreign, non-resident ownership of homes and apartments and the Airbnb phenomenon, which sees homes transformed into short term rentals, to be matters of concern.  In Ontario, the Greenbelt scandal gives some indication of what an attack on so-called gatekeepers can wreak.  READ MORE: Ontario’s new housing minister won’t end pillaging of Greenbelt If we ever got Poilievre at the helm in Ottawa and Ford at Queen’s Park, we could expect a massive bonanza for quick-buck real estate operators which might make the $8 billion of unearned profit for land deals on the Ontario’s Greenbelt seem like peanuts. No mention of climate change Poilievre’s environmental and energy policies are similar to his housing policy. All he offers is the slogan “axe the tax,” meaning the tax on fossil fuels, much of which is returned to Canadians in the form of rebates. The Conservative leader’s speech was long, but not long enough to have room for two little words: climate change.   If Poilievre was paying any attention to the contagion of wildfires this summer, he did not mention it, not even to express sympathy or solidarity with the victims.  And while Poilievre sounded like a social democrat when evoking the hardship of a woman who said she could only afford chicken that was about to spoil, or a grocery cashier who said she was living in a tent, all he offered would likely make their situation worse: tax cuts and a balanced budget. To achieve his austerity fiscal goals, Poilievre pointedly does not say in what major areas he would cut. Even if he were to cut the CBC completely, one of his few tangible suggestions, that would only save a bit more than a billion dollars, a drop in the bucket of the massive federal budget.  The only way Poilievre could get to a budgetary balance while reducing taxes would be to cut deeply in the big-ticket federal spending programs.  That would mean cutting federal spending on social programs such as employment insurance and pensions, and multiple billions the federal government gives to the provinces for health, higher education and social services.  There is no other way, and Poilievre knows it. He keeps his plans to cut spending close to his chest. Those who might be tempted to gush over the Conservative leader’s new-found charisma should heed the old Latin dictum: Caveat emptor, or buyer beware. The post Poilievre’s rhetoric impresses many, but what about his policies? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre]

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[l] at 9/13/23 8:21am
The politics of the new and unfamiliar tends to skew conservative. It can shift quickly, though, when something is no longer new and unfamiliar. And that trajectory, in the age of social media, is very short. This is what we need to keep in mind with the sudden onrush of calls for trans youth to be outted to their parents, and for parents to be given veto power over whether their child is allowed to be trans. It is typically worded much more nicely, of course. Parents should be kept informed and be involved in their childs lives. Well, who doesnt want that? The problem, though, arises when were talking about something intrinsic to who a child is, and about some parents unwillingness to accept it. Most Canadians (not including obvious far-right exceptions) would not be asking themselves whether gay kids should be immediately outted to homophobic parents, or whether schools should be unwilling to support them unless or until their parents consent. Weve known for a long time that gay kids exist, and as a society have largely accepted that their rights to be included, supported and free of harassment are more important than whether their parents get the vapours about it. Indeed, weve seen from experience that forcing kids to try to arbitrarily change who they are creates a cycle of shame and self-destruction -so much so that Canada recently banned conversion therapy. The question in regard to trans youth has only recently caught the publics attention because they are new and unfamiliar to most people. They shouldnt be. Trans adults who knew who they were (or at least suspected) as far back as childhood are so common that its practically ubiquitous to the trans experience – most variations in their stories have tended to be in the influences that tried to convince them they were wrong, or that it was a character flaw, or whatever else caused them to hide or bury that part of themselves. The fact that trans people can find acceptance and live openly at younger ages has understandably led to some doing just that, and an increase in the number of youth coming out as trans really should have been expected. But with the rapid onset of gender ideology derangement, some transphobic adults (either afraid of their kids being trans or of their children encountering trans kids) are hoping to capitalize on an uninformed or underinformed populace. So, “rapid onset ‘gender ideology’ derangement” was a joke, but because the thing that makes it funny is also new and unfamiliar to most readers, it may need some explanation. When the number of trans kids who felt comfortable and supported enough to come out jumped from small numbers to the hundreds, anti-trans groups couldnt believe that it had anything to do with social acceptance, and had to instead make up a fake medical diagnosis. Hence, a pseudoscientific report was published on Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (from which a lot of the social contagion dialogue began), based entirely on a poll of anti-trans parents who visited three specifically anti-trans websites and I wish I was joking about that, but Im not. The primary tactic of anti-trans and anti-2SLGBTQIA+ activists right now is to try to keep people uninformed or underinformed. When talking about the inclusion of trans people in sports, it is framed as a debate about “men in womens’ sports,” erasing all nuance about what a trans woman, trans man or non-binary person is, and what would constitute fairness in sport… things that previously had relative consensus, but have now been detoured by oversimplification, essentialism, absolutism and passionate vitriol. When talking about education that acknowledged the existence of queer kids and stressed the importance of acceptance, the “debate” has been overtaken by shrieking about “groomers” and “pedophiles,” as if those terms have been simply redefined without explanation. And the moment anyone calls this bad faith conflation out, they’re simply branded with the same terms. If you want to look specifically at the issue of parental rights (which, it should be noted, shifts the discussion away from the kids’ rights, even though the intent is to override them or even pretend that any rights independent of the parents’ simply don’t exist), it’s not hard to see where this debate goes. South of the border, the “parental rights” rallying cry has already ballooned into 566 pieces of legislation in 2023 alone (at this time of writing; 83 have passed, 125 have failed; Source: translegislation.com), doing everything from requiring parental consent to be trans to banning inclusion in sports (usually but not always for youth), banning gender affirming medical care (usually but not always for youth), banning the use of trans peoples’ pronouns (usually but not always for youth, and regardless of parental consent), banning access to bathrooms and gender-segregated facilities (usually but not always for youth), banning gender neutral bathrooms and facilities, banning drag shows (usually but not always in cases where minors are present, and sometimes vaguely-worded enough to bring the legality of Pride parades into question), the countless book bans in schools and libraries across the United States, and more. “Parental rights” was the foothold. And the history of “parental rights” legislation has been turbulent and fraught by right-wing mission creep, all the way back to the very first piece of parental rights legislation, fourteen years ago, all the way off in far flung… … Alberta? Wait. That can’t be right. In 2009, the Ed Stelmach government introduced Bill 44, the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act. The bill did a number of housekeeping functions, including adding “sexual orientation” to the province’s human rights legislation. But one section proposed that before any “controversial” topic be discussed in schools, parents should be given ample notice so that they can evacuate their children. Needless to say, the provision was overbroad. Although it was clearly intended to exempt children of queerphobic parents from learning anything about 2SLGBTQIA+ people (even within anti-bullying discussion) or about people of other faiths, it couldn’t be written to be explicitly discriminatory, so was left open enough that even contested literature like Harry Potter or the works of Shakespeare could be called into question, as could lessons about the Renaissance, the history of the Islamic world or Canada’s colonial treatment of Indigenous peoples. Seemingly anything could require a permission slip. Teachers were terrified of implementing the policy, feeling as though at any moment, some student might randomly raise a question that would cost them their jobs. And if a teacher was trans… well, the bill wasn’t very clear on how to handle that. The provision was completely unworkable from a legal standpoint, let alone a practical one. So naturally, Alberta passed it. It wasn’t implemented right away. In fact, at first, no one was really sure how they could possibly put it into practice. There was some guidance released that protected teachers in the cases of students initiating discussions, limited the use or delayed implementing parts of the provision, but the guidance was mostly treated as being interim. By 2011, issues remained, but the bill was now being cited by parents who wanted to opt their children out of religion class in their childs Catholic schools, noting that there was no public-operated school district in their area. It had even reignited the discussion of why there are religious-directed public schools at all. The following year, the government – by then under the Premiership of Alison Redford – quietly repealed the embarrassing and unworkable passages. There are already signs that this year’s wave of transphobia and homophobia in the US is not popular, although it is not easy yet to conclusively call it a trend. But Alberta’s Bill 44 provides a better long-range predictor of both sentiment and how the “parental rights” discussion mushrooms until it becomes far too encompassing. It isn’t an exact parallel (it happened at a time when it was still just becoming common knowledge what “gender identity” was), but it provides a vivid example of just how unpopular legislation of this sort becomes, once people start to realize just how ridiculous it is, and the plight of those who are targeted by it. The politics of the new and unfamiliar tends to skew conservative. It can shift quickly, though, when something is no longer new and unfamiliar. Which is why it is so important to hear from those who are targeted by and affected by these policies. In May, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announced that his province would be making changes to education policy which would require parents to give their permission before a childs chosen name and pronouns would be respected. If a child was reluctant to talk to their parents, the onus was on the child to get counselling. Even if parents did give permission, disapproving teachers would not be required to respect a students chosen name and pronouns. And protections for school sports were removed, making exclusion possible, if not likely. Higgs said that the policy change was in response to concerned parents, but we only know for sure that he heard from one: televangelist and anti-2SLGBTQIA+ campaigner Faytene Grasseschi. The sudden shift in policy sparked a caucus revolt and almost triggered a leadership review (though the effort failed). Worried that the Higgs effort to bring parental rights legislation to the mainstream might be halted, groups like Action4Canada and Grasseschis 4MyCanada redoubled their efforts with other conservative leaders, and last month Saskatchewan introduced legislation that saw Higgs bet and raised it with a partial sex education ban. Since then, Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson vowed to make it an election issue, Ontario’s Education Minister floated similar changes, and Federal leader Pierre Poilievre has also declared that parents rights should trump the governments rights (as if that’s whose rights would be trampled). Conspicuously absent from that list is Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. Perhaps the recently United Conservative Party is not eager to relive one of the battles that fed the Wildrose-PC schism. But then again, you never know: Alberta does tend to like to do things the hard way. Groups like Take Back Alberta and Parents for Choice in Education arent waiting on the Premier, and are already planning to take over school boards. Meanwhile, in the coming days, youre going to be hearing this question a lot: Shouldnt parents be kept informed and be involved in their childs lives? Ideally, absolutely. Also ideally, trans and gay kids should have safe and accepting families to come out to. And until some unforeseeable way arises to guarantee them the latter, we have a responsibility to respect the kids and grant them confidentiality, if they wish it. As child and youth advocate Kelly Lamrock said during a review of the policy changes in New Brunswick, The parents do not have the right to a state apparatus to force their child to live by their values. The post Parental rights: Weve been here before appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Human Rights, LGBTIQ]

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[l] at 9/13/23 7:00am
On September 18, the Courage My Friends podcast series begins its fifth season under the tried and true triple-barrel theme of Covid! Capitalism! Climate! — themes no less true (and perhaps more) than they were four seasons ago, and increasingly trying as they manifest in ways we could not have predicted at the start of this series. Founded by the Tommy Douglas Institute (at George Brown College) the Courage My Friends podcast continues its mission of creating spaces of discourse and dialogue on critical issues pertinent to human rights and social and climate justice. Co-produced with long-time media partner rabble.ca, and with the support of the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation, the Courage My Friends podcast continues its run under rabble’s Needs No Introduction.  Over the last four seasons, we have brought together activists and educators, poets and philosophers, researchers, union leaders, public intellectuals and more who have delved into a wide array of issues including: labour precarity, displacement, healthcare, housing, colonialism, climate, borders, billionaires and biodiversity. Through discussion and debate, poetry and parable, episodes have taken us from the local to the global, across communities, experiences, ideas and histories —  and all connected to the dignity and integrity of both people and planet.  This Fall we again explore a diversity of themes; some familiar and others created by the dizzying turns of a rapidly changing world.  On deck for season five This season will spotlight women’s health, healthcare systems and work. We will also shine a light on climate colonialism and unpacking sustainability. Finally, we’ll examine the changing landscape of labour, education and the brave new world of AI. And continuing with a podcast tradition begun last year, we return to the all important, yet often overlooked, art of storytelling for our Halloween episode Mouth Open, Story Jump Out.  We began this podcast during a time of pandemic-induced global crisis. Now, we begin our fifth season amid another type of global upheaval.  We are pleased to welcome back author, intellectual and director of the Tri-Continental Institute for Social Research, Vijay Prashad. On the heels of the recent BRICS Summit in South Africa and during a time of growing unrest in West Africa, Prashad discusses the new power equations of BRICS, multipolarity and growing challenges to Western hegemony and the unipolar world order.  Please join us for the launch of our Fall series on Monday September 18 here or under Needs No Introduction on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. In the words of the great Tommy Douglas: Courage my friends; ‘tis not too late to build a better world.  Want to help projects like this going? Please support us during the last week of our summer fundraiser by visiting rabble.ca/donate today and contributing a one-time or monthly donation. The post The ‘Courage My Friends’ podcast series returns for a fifth season appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Labour, Political Action, Courage My Friends]

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[l] at 9/12/23 8:01am
September marks the return of students, teachers, and support staff to the classroom. Added to the annual emotional mix of anticipatory anxiety and excitement this year is worry over another COVID-19 variant that has already showed signs of causing school disruptions in US states that started their school year in August. In a recent article in Kingston’s Whig Standard COVID-19 will harm students infectious disease specialist Dr. Dick Zoutman points to the obvious ways schools can be made safe: proper ventilation, HEPA filtration and mask wearing. Teachers and students tell me that part of their concern about re-entering the classroom has to do with the unknown. How safe is their classroom? Full disclosure: I teach. I still mask indoors, I monitor COVID risk at indoor locations with a CO2 monitor, but I mostly work from home and do zoom, outdoor or patio meetings. This fall, given the COVID risk predictions, I plan to do most of my teaching outside of the classroom. Dr. Zoutman makes a sensible recommendation to alleviate anxiety over classrooms: “I would like for the Government of Ontario, the Ministry of Education to create a website that lists every school by name and what they’ve done in terms of protections.” Scott Martin in a recent rabble.ca article addresses Canada’s pandemic failures. He references Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist: Deonandan believes the biggest issue with Canada’s current pandemic response is communication. He said that the govt has put the responsibility of appropriate communication on scientists who volunteer information to clarify things for the public. I couldn’t agree more and it’s bizarre that I get infectious disease updates and concerns pretty much only on X (formerly Twitter). Currently, there is only spotty coverage of the pandemic on mainstream media. There has been egregious silence from local, provincial, and federal public health officials on COVID data, trends, and recommended prevention measures. In fact, a September report to Toronto’s Board of Health on the impacts of COVID-19 on the health of school-aged children and youth doesn’t even mention air quality, masking, or other prevention measures. While we have made and continue to make grave errors in our pandemic management, there have been some outcomes that could be considered positive for some. The nature of work has shifted to add the option of flex hours and work from home, our expectations on use of public space such as parks has been heightened and electronic communication tools have expanded. The pandemic also led to some innovative ways to teach students in a safe environment. Outdoor classrooms, open-air tents, excursions to local parks, enhanced nature lessons, land-based learning, to name a few. Why not learn from these experiences and incorporate them into ongoing core programs? We can all remember our first field trip from school that got us away from our classroom desk. For me it was Miss Audrey Wilson’s Grade 3/4 class outing at 7 a.m. to the Cobourg harbour on Lake Ontario to see sandpipers. In later grades there was the annual trip into Toronto to visit the Royal Ontario Museum. There is a reason we remember these trips. They usually had a hands-on component, included new experiences, offered socializing with interesting people (including classmates) and most importantly they were fun. Over the years, getting out of my workplace (a health clinic) for outdoor teaching experiences have been such a big part of my work that I devote a chapter to the topic, “Take a Walk With Me. Walks for Social Justice”, in my memoir A Knapsack Full of Dreams. “The concept of walking, seeing, experiencing to build community is an old one. In present day there are historical walks, ghost walks, artist studio walks, Good Friday walks and Jane’s walks which occur around the world and celebrate and further the city building work of urbanist Jane Jacobs.” In the memoir I recount walks I have led including supermarket tours, environmental walks, housing and homelessness walks and community health and social justice walks – the latter initiated by nursing students who were frustrated with the gaps in their in-class learning. As I now walk my city and advocate for more public washrooms, better park signage and support the fight to save Ontario Place and the Science Centre, I now think the term ‘urbanist’ nurse best describes my practice. Like many I became an avid COVID birder thanks to a wellness Zoom on birds for faculty and staff at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). It reignited my public school memories of birding with Miss Wilson. The zoom led me to buy a pair of binoculars, download the Merlin app on my phone and find a Toronto District School Board adult learning outdoor nature class. That course, led by the late Miles Hearn, in rain or shine or snowstorm, was a Master class in teaching: walk and talk about what you love, revisit the subject over and over, follow it up with photography and stories, then give a 10-question fun quiz. A testament to his teaching, after his passing, is a group called Friends of Miles who carry on their own weekly Monday Friday birding/nature walks teaching each other, often employing some of Miles’ teaching methods. Teaching is all about being in the moment, being timely and relevant, not boring and hung up with theory and compulsory readings. Toronto is at a crossroads and in crisis. There is a huge ‘to do’ list of problems that need attention to make Toronto a better, more liveable, and affordable city. I’m sure the same can be said for your community. Climate change and wildfire smoke, the housing crisis, a severe shelter shortfall, a homelessness state of emergency, growing encampments, the refugee crisis, cuts to public transit, the unknown status of COVID this fall and winter, affordability issues, not enough public washrooms, shootings and stabbings, and an enormous city budget shortfall and that’s not the entire list! These are weighty topics that cross all disciplines and some of the learning on these issues can and should take place outside of the classroom. Experts would call this experiential learning. This fall I’ll be leading walks for TMU students and staff to look at politicians, not birds. I’m calling the series Political Literacy and we’ll be walking to City Hall to experience the whole gamut of goings on there, in real time. Other TMU instructors have developed a special topic course on the successful St. Lawrence Neighbourhood for urban planning students. Again, timely because in a housing crisis, this community is a living example of what our country can do when we fund housing. Of course, students will walk in the community. Reena Tandon, who leads the Community Engaged Learning and Teaching Initiative (CELT) at TMU knows a lot about creating successful learning experiences. She collaborates with professors and community leaders to bring exciting opportunities for students. These can range from visits to food security programs, Myseum photograph projects, a Visualizing Crim project, photo-voice projects, creation of a mural. These are all embedded in academic courses and offer creative learning opportunities for students and give back to the community. The same can be true for all grades and levels. As I say at TMU: the community is my campus. It can be yours too. The post The government is absent from keeping students safe from COVID-19 appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Education, Health, back to school, COVID-19, pandemic]

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[l] at 9/11/23 1:36pm
September, 1988, Santiago, Chile. Its the middle of the night when I arrive in Santiago. I retrieve my checked bag and find the  lock has been forced open. A video camera and some papers have been stolen. But Im here to cover a plebiscite, the first democratic vote in a brutal dictatorship in 18 years, so its not wise to  make a fuss. Especially since they hated a documentary that I made here for the CBC in 1976.   In the morning I go to get press accreditation. I give the army press officer my new British  passport. He takes it to another room and, after a long time, he returns.   You also have a Canadian passport, he says. I guess theyve flagged me for that film.   What Price Profit? showed how, on September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet bombed La Moneda and overthrew the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende.  Canada remained  silent when Pinochets secret police detained 10,000 in the National Stadium and tortured and  killed over 3,000 more. Some were dropped, still alive, into the sea from helicopters and  disappeared a new word in the lexicon of terror. And how the Dictator then offered his entire  country as a laboratory to controversial economist American Milton Friedman, to test his then untried theories of free market capitalism.  So the social gains of Allendes Popular Unity Coalition were undone, in order to create free markets and feed international transnationals with a steady flow of cheap copper, fruit and fish. A small oligarchy have become extremely rich, but most Chileans are the laboratory rats. Union leaders have been arrested, strikes banned; unemployment has soared, and many have been forced to flee. (I couldnt know back then that neoliberalism would echo down the decades and become the globalised super capitalism of  today, as described so brilliantly by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine.)   As I hand the press officer my Canadian passport, I realize they know much more about me than Id like.   I walk back to my hotel amidst raucous protests. Santiago has transformed overnight, from  subjugated silence to an effervescent display of discontent. Pinochets minions have persuaded  him of his popularity and so he is allowing Chileans to vote Yes or No to his brutal reign.   Demonstrators march in the streets, or stand on their balconies, beating pots and pans, called  cazuelas. Its humbling to witness the bravery of the No side as they peacefully and  determinedly face water canons and tear gas showered at them by the notorious carabineros  (police.) Many are arrested and taken away. Nobody wants to march but march they do, singing  Chiles famous resistance songs, like Vencerernos and We will win. Its by one of their martyrs, Victor Jara. After the coup he was arrested and hauled to the stadium. The soldiers smashed his fingers. In defiance, he sang Vencerernos, so they put forty bullets into his body and dumped it in the street.  Many demonstrators carry black cardboard silhouettes with the names of the killed, and the words Me Olvidaste? (Have you forgotten me?) The Dictator labels all those who oppose him Commie Marxists, yet Im walking alongside  artists, politicians, and members of the middle class-teachers, electricians, bankers. All they   want is a living wage, a safe place to live, and a return to democracy.  I get back to my hotel exhausted. I double lock the door of my room, and, too tired to turn off the  lights, promptly fall asleep. In the middle of the night, I wake up suddenly. Something is  dreadfully wrong. I think the door is open and someone is standing there, but I cant see. I hear a tiny noise and start to sit up. Suddenly all the lights go out. Its dark, but I can see a darker  shape-a shadow. Its a man. Moving towards me. Holding a gun.   Ifl dont get out of this room, Ill be cornered and killed. Instinct takes over as I leap out of bed  and move towards the intruder, screaming loudly. Everything is a blur as I rush through the door  into the corridor. Then I catch a glimpse of two men, disappearing down the hotels service  stairs.   The hotel manager apologetically explains that they were indeed the notorious secret police. The  hotel has many entrances, so he cant control their access, and has no power to complain. I already know from leaked intelligence records that Pinochets Prussian-trained army and brutal secret police are impressively efficient. He gives me another room. I stack all the furniture  against the door. Gallantly, he sits on the roof outside to stop anyone entering through the  window.   The next day I contact the British Embassy. Its their job to look after the safety of Brits here.  However, they dont believe my story. They write me off as a hysterical, delusional woman. Its  not the first time Ive been treated this way. If I were a male journalist, they would take me  seriously.   Another BBC crew checked into this hotel a few nights ago. They tell me that someone in the  coffee shop threatened to break their knees. Is the goal to scare the international media away so  they dont come and cover the plebiscite?  I film the amazing power of non-violent protest on the streets. At one demonstration I meet  Carmen Quintana. She was just 18 when soldiers beat her and her friend Rodrigo Rojas while  they were filming, then doused them with petrol, set them on fire, and dumped them on the  outskirts of Santiago. Nearby residents rushed them to hospital where Rodrigo Rojas died.  Carmen Quintana is left horrendously disfigured. No soldiers have been charged. Her face has  become a symbol of the atrocities and impunity of Pinochets dictatorship.   There are thousands more who are suffering, she tells me. The dictatorships aim is  clear: ensure that anyone who dares to challenge them will pay a hefty price.   I decide to go underground and Ive been given an apartment to hide in while I continue  filming. Im alone when, late one night, the phone rings.   A distorted voice says Si continuas haciendo lo que estas hacienda, seras rojo sangre, como la sangre de Jesus Christo, (If you continue doing what you are doing, youll be blood red, the colour of the blood of Christ.) It seems Pinochets secret police know exactly where I am.   I try to shake off fear and to gather a couple of my wits. Then intuition takes over. I reply calmly  Im very sorry but I dont speak Spanish. Im English. Please could you speak a little slower?   Im speaking in Spanish.   The deep voice repeats the death threat, this time, a little slower-  I still dont understand. Speak more slowly, says a part of me which seems to have  taken over, again in Spanish.   He repeats the threat in Spanish, and I say, again in Spanish, that I cant understand, and he should speak more slowly. He does. It goes back and forth like this for quite a while, as he  continues to utter the threats about Christs red blood.   Magic realism kicks in. What is it like to be this guy? What if the recipient (me) doesnt  understand the death threat? Will he still get paid? If so, how much? Is this death threat business a 40-hour per week gig? Does he get overtime pay for these late- night calls? Do they advertise  these jobs? Whos his boss? When he was a little boy what did he dream he would do when he  grew up? Does he have a wife and family?   He keeps telling me about Christs red blood, and I keep saying in Spanish that I dont  understand. Finally, I say, again in Spanish, Im terribly sorry that Im English. If you can  phone back tomorrow, Ill make sure theres someone here who can speak Spanish. To my surprise, he agrees and hangs up. Fear kicks in. Somebody in a position of power ordered  this death threat, and knows exactly where I am. And that I am totally alone here tonight. And determined to continue filming.   The women Im filming in La Victoria, a poor shanty town on the outskirts of Santiago, know all  about fear. And how to conquer it. They tell me that, one night the army stormed in.rounded up  all the men and took them away. Some were killed, others were disappeared. The women  determined they would not become victims and set about caring for each other. They are forging  a new, cooperative way of life. There is a soup kitchen and a vibrant culture. The shacks of La  Victoria are decorated with colourful murals depicting resistance.  We know Pinochet calls us communists and extremists, but that is what he calls anyone who  organizes to solve their problems of hunger and misery, says Elizabeth, who is head of the  committee of La Victoria, We wont get anywhere if we sit at home. We must keep at it until he  has had enough.   October 5 ,1988. The day of the referendum No one goes to work and no one knows what is going to happen. Seven million Chileans quietly make their way through eerily quiet streets to the voting stations. Im filming in La Victoria as the votes are counted. Its neck and neck. It only becomes clear late in the evening that NO has  won with just 56 per cent of the vote. Is General Pinochets tyrannical reign finally ending?   The jubilant people of La Victoria head out to join a night of raucous jubilation. But the army  and the carabineros are out in force. Theres tear gas and water canons everywhere.  Predictably, foreign journalists are targeted. There are broken cameras, legs and noses, and several land up in  hospital.   General Augusto Pinochet is furious. He summons the leaders of his military government. I will  do whatever is necessary to stay in power, he told them. He demands that the results be overturned and orders the military onto the streets. However, Air Force Commander General Fernando Matthei refuses. Pinochet turns to his other generals. Amazingly, one by one, they also refuse   Now the Dictator has no one to turn to.   Note: I was arrested again when I returned to Chile in 1993 even though the country was  now a democracy. At the airport two passports were once again demanded, and I was told of an order for my arrest. My crime was ”smuggling film out of Chile which I had done. I had to go before a judge. Luckily he had worse crimes to deal with, and he annulled the charge. I was  given a piece of paper that said I was not wanted in Chile.   www.Judyfilms.com The post Confronting a tyrant in Chile appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: World Politics, Augusto Pinochet, Chile]

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[l] at 9/11/23 11:45am
Have you ever said, That was not my intention? I have many times. Usually in circumstances when I inadvertently upset someone due to something I said or did. How about being asked to set an intention before a workshop or yoga class? Ive done this too, but then the intention did not come to fruition. Ive been thinking a lot about intentions since 2014 in fact. And in particular Ive become fascinated about what influences our intentions and how these influences might inform the decisions we make. Recently, Ive been digging into how identity and psychological needs influence our intentions. I believe intentions are the driving force behind personal growth, achievement, and change. They represent our aspirations and the desired outcomes we seek in various aspects of life, such as career, relationships, and personal development. Achieving intentions is not merely about setting goals; it involves a complex interplay of psychological factors, with two key elements standing out as paramount: identity and psychological needs. Understanding identity Identity encompasses our self-concept, self-image, values, beliefs, affiliations, and a deep sense of who we are as individuals. It is the lens through which we view the world and make decisions. Heres why identity is so crucial in the context of achieving intentions: Our identity is intimately tied to our core values and beliefs. When we set intentions that align with our values, we are more likely to feel a deep sense of purpose and motivation, making it easier to persevere through challenges. Our self-concept, which includes our self-esteem and self-efficacy, significantly influences the intentions we set. Individuals with a positive self-concept are more likely to set ambitious goals and have confidence in their ability to achieve them. A strong sense of identity is a powerful motivator. When we set intentions that resonate with our identity, our motivation is often intrinsically driven. We are not pursuing these goals to meet external expectations but because they align with who we truly are. Our identity is not limited to individual aspects; it also includes cultural and social dimensions, such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and socio-economic background. These identities can both support and challenge our intentions. When our cultural and social identities align harmoniously with our personal intentions, we often experience a sense of belonging and support from our community. This alignment can serve as a powerful motivator. On the other hand, societal expectations or stereotypes associated with our cultural or social identity may sometimes conflict with our personal intentions. Such conflicts can create inner turmoil and affect our ability to pursue our goals. Many individuals navigate multiple cultural and social identities, which adds complexity to the interplay between identity and intentions. Recognizing and embracing these intersections can lead to a more nuanced understanding of our motivations. The role of psychological needs Psychological needs, as outlined by Self-Determination Theory (SDT), comprise autonomy, competence, and relatedness. These needs are fundamental to human motivation and play a pivotal role in achieving intentions. Autonomy reflects our desire for self-determination and the freedom to make choices aligned with our values and interests. Intentions that allow us to exercise autonomy are often more intrinsically motivated and, therefore, more likely to result in successful outcomes. The need for competence drives us to seek challenges and develop our skills. Intentions that challenge us to grow and improve align with this need and are more likely to lead to a sense of accomplishment and success. The need for relatedness pertains to our desire for social connections and a sense of belonging. Intentions that involve collaboration, cooperation, or nurturing relationships can fulfill this need and contribute to positive outcomes, both personally and interpersonally. Synergy between identity and psychological needs The relationship between identity and psychological needs is intricate. Our identity can shape our psychological needs, and these needs, when met, can reinforce and enhance our identity. Intentions aligned with our identity and satisfying our psychological needs tend to be intrinsically motivated. This intrinsic motivation fuels persistence, even in the face of obstacles. A strong sense of identity can provide the resilience needed to weather setbacks and failures. Knowing who we are and what we stand for can help us bounce back and stay committed to our intentions. Understanding the interplay between identity and relatedness can improve interpersonal relationships. Intentions that involve collaboration and respect for others identities can lead to positive outcomes for all parties involved. When we are in tune with our identity and psychological needs, we make decisions that are more aligned with our values and long-term goals, ensuring that our choices lead us closer to our intended outcomes. The satisfaction of psychological needs and the alignment with our identity in the pursuit of intentions contribute to overall well-being. These factors can enhance our sense of purpose and fulfillment. Identity and psychological needs are integral to achieving intentions. Our identity shapes the intentions we set, influences our motivations, and provides the foundation for meaningful action. Additionally, our psychological needs drive our intrinsic motivation, helping us persevere and excel in the pursuit of our goals.Recognizing the synergy between identity and psychological needs empowers us to set intentions that are authentic and fulfilling. The post The crucial role of identity and psychological needs in achieving intentions appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Health]

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[l] at 9/9/23 7:00am
A message from Mike Layton: Dear rabble readers and friends,  I’m reaching out to you today in hopes that you may support a fellowship which is near and dear to my heart.  The Institute for Change Leaders, the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation and rabble.ca are proud to launch the sixth annual Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship.  My dad, Jack, led by example — demonstrating that social and economic justice is possible when we work together. August 22 marks 12 years since Canada lost Jack. What better way to honour him than with a fellowship to foster social change? This fellowship supports emerging journalists who are particularly interested in covering social change and reporting on underrepresented progressive stories. We need your contributions to keep this fellowship running, will you support this vital program?   Social change reporting is a rarity in Canada. The Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship is an exciting opportunity to strengthen media democracy while affording excellent mentorship for new voices in the Canadian media landscape. We encourage anyone interested in being considered for this year’s fellowship, to apply here.  To support a new generation of journalists — and carry on Jack’s legacy — please consider making a donation to this fund today. This unique fellowship is only possible through community support, with generosity from individuals just like you.  Whether you’re a rabble supporter or a rabble reader, thank you for remembering Jack. We are proud to preserve his outstanding contributions through the Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship. His legacy lives on through your generosity and commitment to advancing social change in Canada.  In solidarity, Mike Layton The post Support the Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship today! appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Political Action, fundraising, Jack Layton, jack layton journalism for change]

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[l] at 9/8/23 2:10pm
Like the Railroad Barons of the late 19th century, today’s Big Tech giants strut around, acting like they own the world (which they mostly do). Among their many imperious actions, they’ve taken to blocking Canadians’ access to our own news. This is their high-handed response to Ottawa’s attempt to force them to pay Canadian publishers for news content, which Big Tech giants Google and Meta link to on their social media platforms. Without some crackdown by Ottawa, Canadian publishers will have trouble staying in business, as Google and Meta (which owns Facebook, Instagram, etc.) are managing to scoop up billions of advertising dollars that used to support the Canadian media. So, it’s easy to side with the Canadian media business — even though it’s largely dominated by corporate chains. (Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star, also owns a half-dozen smaller Ontario newspapers. The largest Canadian newspaper chain by far — owning about half of Canada’s newspapers — is Postmedia, which has a strong right-wing bias and is owned by a U.S. hedge fund.) But Ottawa’s intervention on behalf of Canadian media — important as it is — doesn’t even attempt to achieve what Canadians really need: more control over the digital universe that increasingly dominates our lives. The core problem is that the technology that largely determines our access to the news — and just about everything else we do online — is controlled by a few Big Tech giants that are highly sophisticated in extracting money from us, governing how we search for information and, in the process, shaping public discourse and much else about the way we live. What we need is a public digital infrastructure that is not beholden to private interests. As James Muldoon, a political scientist at the University of Exeter, puts it: “I don’t think access to humanity’s collective knowledge should be controlled by a for-profit company.” An open-source digital system — which would be publicly funded — could enable democratic governance, allowing independent media to flourish. And a public search engine — a publicly financed version of Google — could ensure us all access to the vast trove of human knowledge and information, without being routed in ways that limit our control and benefit private interests. This may sound too wildly ambitious, but it’s really just an updated version of the wildly ambitious public takeover of the key, emerging market in the early 1900s — for electricity. That public takeover happened after a popular movement — led by ordinary citizens and small business owners — championed the cause of “public power.” They wanted to create a new public infrastructure for hydro power, wresting control from the mighty private interests — dubbed “Water Barons” — who had taken over the transformative new power source. This pitted them against the likes of powerful Toronto business mogul Henry Pellatt, who headed a syndicate pushing for rights to develop Niagara Falls power. (Pellatt is best known for the massive mansion he built for himself, which he called “Casa Loma.”) But the popular movement for “public power” triumphed. Shortly after his 1905 election, Conservative Premier James P. Whitney created Ontario Hydro, turning electricity into a public utility and declaring that water power “should not in the future be made the sport and prey of capitalists.” This public takeover of electricity, ratified overwhelmingly by municipal voters, proved crucial to the province’s development. By ensuring low electricity rates, it enabled Ontario industry to compete with larger U.S. businesses. Creating a public infrastructure for the digital world today could be just as transformative. But it would require the Trudeau government to be truly bold and innovative and actually challenge Big Tech’s power and control over our lives. Sadly, as noted by Dru Oja Jay, publisher of the online media outlet The Breach, which champions a public digital infrastructure: “Decades of neo-liberalism have melted our collective imagination.” Imagine if we had a political leader today willing to fight to keep the digital universe from being merely “the sport and prey of capitalists.” The post Canada needs a digital infrastructure that isnt beholden to private interests appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Economy, Big Tech, Bill C-18, internet]

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[l] at 9/8/23 1:59pm
2023 isn’t over yet but it certainly brought the climate change crisis, now clearly an emergency, into focus. The long list of climate change tragedies grows by the day. Record wildfires across the country from coast to coast, record July temperatures, record ocean temperatures, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes and the year has four more months to go!  As we watch these events unfold, it is human nature to think well, yes, those things are terrible, but it will pass. those tragedies are faraway places, “it won’t happen here.” History tells us we are not safe from climate change tragedies right here in Ontario. It’s very likely the ice storm we experienced in 1998 will happen again. Winter is coming. Is Ontario prepared for another such storm? In the ice storm in 1998, 28 people died most from hypothermia, 945 people were injured. Over four million people in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick lost power. About 600,000 people at severe risk to their safety had to leave their homes to find safe shelter. The total financial damage was estimated at $5.4 billion. There are many similarities between Ontario and Texas which had its own climate crisis tragedy in February 2021. A tragedy made much worse by human greed. Ironically, Texas implemented its deregulated electricity market in 2002, the same year that Ontario’s deregulated electricity market was implemented. Electricity markets are notoriously easy to manipulate. Disconnecting Texas from the national grid to ensure a higher market price, made the crisis there much worse.  Ten million people lost power that February, many for more than two weeks and more than 210 people died. The cost was over $195 billion, not to mention the cost of human suffering.  Electricity affects every aspect of our lives. A lengthy power disruption is a very serious threat to life. It was very clear to see that private ownership, deregulation and greed played a major role in the disaster in Texas. Governor Greg Abbott was warned years ago, but protecting profits was much more important to him than fixing the problem. Premier Doug Ford is acting the same way as he is doing everything, he can to protect profits in the hydro sector here by spending billions of our money on his electricity rate subsidies to the tune of almost $7 billion a year of our money, artificially lowering artificially high rates, hiding and protecting the hydro deregulation failure. There are questions that need to be asked about Ontario’s severe storm planning. Does Ontario have an emergency plan for another ice storm or other climate created power outages? If not, why not? Why didn’t Ontario harden its electricity grid after the ice Storm of 1998 the way Qυebec did?  Given the downsizing that occurred under deregulation to maximize profits, does Ontario have enough trained and experienced tradespeople and the tools, trucks and equipment that go with them to deal with such an event? With the training of trades apprentices severely lacking over the last 20 years also to save money, this is also a serious question. Does Ontario have an emergency stockpile of hydro materials and equipment like transformers, switches, insulators and all the different types of wire and cable, connectors and hardware needed to get the power back on? In the ice storm of ’98, we spent the better part of many days digging those materials and equipment out of the ice and snow to get the power back on because that material and equipment wasn’t available. When time is critical to save lives and keep people safe, you really don’t want to spend a lot of valuable time doing that. Having an available stockpile of hydro materials and equipment is critical to getting the power back on as quickly as possible.   Hydro deregulation has caused rates to spike exactly like Texas. What has it done to system reliability, safety and the ability to respond in an emergency?   With the climate emergency accelerating the responsible thing to do is have a plan and prepare.  Being reactive when another ice storm hits, is too late.  Is it profits before people? The Provincial government needs to answer these questions, because we certainly don’t want Ontario to be added to the list of climate change tragedies. The post Are we  prepared  for a climate  created emergency in Ontario? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Environment, Climate Change, Ice Storm of '98]

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[l] at 9/8/23 1:02pm
The proposal to bring bargaining to voluntary binding arbitration has set off alarms for at least one bargaining unit within the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF).  In a message circulated to members, the union’s Toronto Teachers’ Bargaining Unit (TTBU) Executive revealed to members that they have voted unanimously to oppose the proposal.  The message cited concerns that the proposal could have impacts on local bargaining. The TTBU Executive also said that they were concerned that the proposed pathway “might have a serious impact on solidarity, on our capacity to organize our members, and on building collective actions going forward.”  On August 25, OSSTF announced their decision to recommend that members adopt a proposal to resolve bargaining using a process that includes binding interest arbitration.  The proposed process would have the union and the employer bargain until October 27. All outstanding bargaining issues will then be sent to binding arbitration, meaning that OSSTF members will not vote on the arbitrators terms.  “The ability to strike or withdraw services is one of the cornerstones of the labour movement and has been hard fought over the years,” the TTBU Executive wrote in their internal message. “To voluntarily give up that right has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for education workers and the entire labour movement.”  Proposal brought government back to the table OSSTF President Karen Littlewood said that the union has brought forward this proposal for the sake of their members. She expressed frustration with the pace of this summer’s  bargaining. Littlewood explained that there was only one bargaining date in June, two in July and one in August.  Littlewood said in an interview with rabble.ca that she saw movement from the provincial government at the bargaining table on September 7 that had not happened prior to the proposed agreement to use binding arbitration. Littlewood said she “absolutely” believes the proposal has made a difference in the governments attitude during negotiations.  Despite Littlewood’s optimism, many people within the labour movement continue to have concerns around the proposed pathway for bargaining.  Education workers represented by other unions have been impacted by OSSTF’s decision to vote on voluntarily entering into binding arbitration. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO)  received pressure from Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce to enter into agreements similar to the proposed agreement with OSSTF.  According to a report by the CBC, Lecce said that he hopes to sign a deal with these unions that “can keep kids in class.”  Other unions reject voluntary binding arbitration The three unions released a joint statement on August 25 saying that voluntary binding arbitration would not be an option they will consider at this time.  “Binding arbitration would all but guarantee that the key issues we have brought forward at our respective bargaining tables, which are critical to learning and working conditions in our schools, would not be addressed,” the three unions wrote.  The concerns put forward by ETFO, OECTA and AEFO seem to be echoed by the TTBU Executive who compared passing the proposed OSSTF pathway to ratifying a collective agreement before it is finalized.  Labour scholars have also shared concerns with the OSSTF using binding arbitration in this specific instance. Professor Larry Savager from Brock University’s Department of Labour Studies said that using binding interest arbitration can be a minefield for unions.  “I think interest arbitration is seductive because people think it will help deliver guaranteed raises and avoid the risks associated with a strike,” Savage said in an interview with rabble.ca. “But interest arbitration is an inherently conservative process that comes with no guarantees.”  Savage said that the results of the ongoing OSSTF vote could set some very interesting precedents.  A precedent setting decision “If [this agreement] gets rejected, I would think it would be dead in the water,” Savage said. “If the deal passes, we should expect the Education Minister to try and use it as a cudgel to beat the other unions into submission.”  Savage wrote an article with his colleague at Brock University, Professor Stephanie Ross outlining how the government could use this agreement to pressure other unions. The article, posted to the website The Conversation, explains that binding arbitration is most commonly used for essential workers who are legally denied the right to strike. Sometimes, it can also be used to achieve a first contract or resolve a contentious strike. In these cases, the parties bargain until an impasse.  “In the case of OSSTF’s recent agreement with the province, it had not bargained to [an] impasse, let alone conducted a strike vote to test members’ resolve and try to change the employer’s position,” Savage and Ross wrote.  This course of action, if passed by members, poses the risk of normalizing the sentiment that striking is not necessary, Savage and Ross wrote. This could demobilize unions and make members passive.  Savage and Ross also asserted that binding arbitration could make bargaining difficult in the future. If parties become invested in using binding arbitration to resolve contentious issues, Savage and Ross worry that changing course in the future will prove difficult.  “Reliance on interest arbitration can actually increase bargaining impasses by reducing the incentive to negotiate terms that both parties can live with,” Savage and Ross wrote. “If a third party is going to decide what the contract says, why budge from one’s initial bargaining position?” Savage and Ross level a biting criticism of relying on binding arbitration, saying that it “rides” on the hard fought wins of other unions. “Arbitration is based on comparisons,” the professors wrote. “That means the quality of arbitration awards is dependent on the relative success of other unions at the bargaining table to set good wages, some of whom are forced to use the right to strike to reach settlements that meet their members’ needs.” This “riding on the success of other unions” may be what is driving the TTBU Executive’s concerns around solidarity with other unions.  However, Littlewood remains steadfast in her commitment to working with other unions.  “We are doing this for our members and I hope people will understand,” Littlewood said.  Whatever OSSTF members decide, it will clearly have major implications for the rest of Ontario’s labour movement.  The post Vote on binding arbitration proves contentious for teachers unions appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Labour, OSSTF, Stephen Lecce]

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[l] at 9/8/23 10:52am
Parliament is back in session – and so is Off the Hill.  This month, we return to our monthly live panel series to discuss the social and environmental impact the wildfires had on Canada this summer, how everyday Canadians can get involved in climate justice and how we can hold the federal government accountable for climate solutions.  Join MP Leah Gazan, Clayton Thomas-Müller, Chuka Ejeckam, Diana Yoon and Karl Nerenberg with co-hosts Robin Browne and Libby Davies this Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET.  Register today to join this free panel discussion and be entered to win a copy of The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the Economy by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson.  About our guests  Robin Browne is Off the Hill’s co-host. Browne is a communications professional and founder 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 Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre. She is currently the NDP critic for Children, Families, and Social Development, as well as the deputy critic for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. Gazan is a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, located in Saskatchewan, Treaty 4 territory. Clayton Thomas-Müller is a member of the Treaty #6 based Mathias Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan located in Northern Manitoba, Canada. He is featured as one of ten international human rights defenders in the National Canadian Museum for Human Rights and has campaigned in and out of Canada, to support Indigenous Peoples to defend their territories against the encroachment of the fossil fuel industry. He is an award winning film director, media producer, organizer, facilitator, public speaker and bestselling author. His book, Life in the City of Dirty Water, was a national bestseller and a CBC Canada Reads finalist. Diana Yoon is a climate and housing justice activist based in Toronto. Her work is on the intersection of climate mitigation and affordable housing. Formerly, she was the Geography grad student department steward for CUPE3903. Chuka Ejeckam is a writer and policy researcher. His work focuses on inequity and inequality, drug policy, structural racism, and labour. He is also a columnist for rabble.ca. Karl Nerenberg is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and filmmaker, working in both English and French languages. He is rabble’s senior parliamentary reporter. About Off the Hill  Since 2019, Off the Hill has been rabble.ca’s live monthly panel which breaks down important national and international news stories through a progressive lens.  Co-hosted by Robin Browne and Libby Davies, this webinar series invites a rotating roster of guest activists, politicians, scholars, researchers and more to discuss how to mobilize and bring about progressive change in national politics — on and off Parliament Hill.  Join us the third Wednesday of every month at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET. The live, digital show is one hour long – 45 minutes of moderated discussion followed by 15 minutes of audience participation. Want to help projects like this going? Please support us during the last week of our summer fundraiser by visiting rabble.ca/donate today! The post A summer of fire. What can be done? And what is the federal government’s responsibility? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Environment, off the hill]

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[l] at 9/8/23 10:40am
For a party whose leader has touted his belief in freedom of expression in the past, certain members of the media have faced bullying tactics and stonewalling at the annual Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) convention which kicked off this week in Quebec City. Both The Maple and Breach Media have been denied accreditation to cover the event, according to Maple news editor Alex Cosh. The Conservative Party is threatening Nora Loreto, who is covering the @CPC_HQ convention for The Maple, with arrest. This comes after @CPC_HQ denied us media accreditation (just like @TheBreachMedia). We are demanding answers from the Conservative Party as to why this happened. https://t.co/ya93TrW4P9 — The Maple (@readthemaple) September 7, 2023 Furthermore, reporter Nora Loreto, who was working on behalf of The Maple to cover the event, says she was harassed by Conservative Party security at the convention and threatened with jail for doing her job. In an interview with rabble.ca, Loreto said that she had been denied media accreditation and that the party’s director of communications, Sarah Fischer, refused to explain why. She said she was being followed by two individuals at the convention centre, one who turned out to be the CPC head of security. When Loreto returned to the media desk, she said she was told to leave by the head of security. “I said, ‘look, like, youre not gonna be able to stop me from talking to delegates. Im gonna be interviewing delegates at this convention.’ And he made a big deal about how thats illegal, and I will go to jail if I try to interview anybody,” Loreto said. ‘Zero respect for freedom of the press’ Cosh called this behaviour by the CPC blatant bullying. Cosh told rabble.ca that even hours after requesting an explanation from Fischer, he still had not received a response. “Its a party that evidently has zero respect for freedom of press despite all of its overtures about so-called freedom of speech and all that kind of bluster that their leadership loves to spout all the time,” he said. “These are just empty words and as weve seen today, theyre not followed up by uh actions.” Cosh said despite the CPC’s attempts to block their press freedoms, Loreto was still able to speak with some of the delegates to the convention in the foyer of the convention centre. “Were simply just trying to understand what delegates are thinking, how theyre viewing the election,” said Cosh. “And were just reporting that clearly and honestly. I really dont know what they think they have to be afraid of.” Parties think they can ignore independent media Cosh said that while this recent example is the worst, there have been instances in the past where Canadian political parties have blocked access to independent media like The Maple or refused to answer their questions. “I will say we have experienced a general recalcitrance from all major parties to really engage with or answer difficult questions from independent media sources like ours,” Cosh said, giving the example of The Maple’s coverage of the BC NDP leadership race last fall, where the party refused to answer some of their questions about why candidate Anjali Appadurai was disqualified from the race. READ MORE: B.C. NDP disqualifies Anjali Appadurai from leadership race Loreto noted that she had received accreditation from the CPC in the past without a problem, and that she does not believe that she has written anything particularly scathing about the party recently. She said that their behaviour this week amounts to little more than harassment and that the party knows it can treat independent media differently and get away with it. “I think that they know that they can harass certain people and that the establishment is not gonna necessarily come to our defense, which is of course what happened,” Loreto said. rabble reached out to the CPC for comment on this story, but had not received a response as of time of publication. The post Freedom of the press suppressed at Conservative Party convention appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, The Maple]

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[l] at 9/8/23 8:00am
This week on the show, national politics reporter Scott Martin sits down with Sean Smukler. Sean Smukler is an associate professor in applied biology and soil science at University of British Columbia (UBC) and director of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm. Martin and Smukler discuss the current challenges farmers are facing in Canada due to climate change – and wonder aloud where Canada is headed. “We are facing a climate emergency, and we’re pretending like it’s something for the next generation to deal with. No one grasps the fact that if we don’t deal with it now, the next generation can’t deal with it.” Sean Smukler To learn more about the state of Canadian agriculture in the face of climate change, read Scott Martin’s full piece here. 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.  The post Climate change and the agricultural economy in Canada – are we prepared for a hotter climate? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Environment, agriculture]

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[l] at 9/7/23 7:58pm
In May 1901, 150 white men gathered in Montgomery, Alabama to rewrite their state’s constitution. They elected John Knox, a prominent lawyer, to chair the convention. Knox said in his opening speech: “[W]hat is it that we want to do? Why, it is to establish white supremacy in this State…we must establish it by law — not by force or fraud.” He added, “There is no higher duty resting upon us [but] to protect the sanctity of the ballot in every portion of the State.” The new constitution formalized the racism inflicted on Black Alabamians, stripping them of the right to vote and further entrenching Jim Crow segregation. Many of the remarkable achievements of the civil rights movement were forged in Alabama. The 1965 Voting Rights Act followed the Selma-to-Montgomery March earlier that year. The population of Lowndes County, Alabama was 80 per cent Black, yet not one of those Black residents was registered to vote. Last November, over 120 years after the ratification in 1901 of Alabama’s racist constitution, voters finally replaced it. Yet today, the white supermajorities that control both houses of Alabama’s legislature, along with Alabama’s white republican governor, Kay Ivey, continue to disenfranchise Black voters. Racist redistricting of Alabama’s Congressional districts is one ploy. In 2021, Alabama lawmakers gerrymandered the state’s Congressional map, reducing what should have been two majority Black districts to one. Civil rights and voting rights groups sued, and a federal judge rejected the map, declaring it in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the judge, ordering the map to be redrawn. The legislature drew a new map, but defied the Supreme Court, keeping only one majority Black congressional district. This second gerrymandered map was again rejected, this time by a panel of three federal judges, two of whom were appointed by Trump. Stating in their order that they were “deeply troubled” by the state ignoring the court’s authority, they appointed a special master and a cartographer to draw a map that Alabama will be required to use for the upcoming 2024 election. Similar court battles to preserve the voting rights of Black citizens are being waged across the South, with lawsuits in Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Florida. In Florida, Republican Governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis vetoed the most recent map drafted by the legislature, forcing the adoption of his own. DeSantis’ map was tossed out by a judge for being racially gerrymandered. “DeSantis and those with him, they don’t want to talk about the real record. That’s why they redistrict illegally,” Bishop William Barber, founding director of the Center for Public Theology & Public Policy at Yale Divinity School, said on the Democracy Now! news hour. “Racist voter suppression creates death, because when you suppress the right to vote and you stack and pack and bleach Black voters, you allow extremists to get elected, who then, once they get elected, they block health care, they block living wages, they block addressing poverty. And when you do those things, people die. Bad public policy creates death. Racist rhetoric and division can create a context of death, give people the license to kill. All of it is deadly.” Bishop Barber was responding to yet another deadly mass shooting, this one in Jacksonville, Florida. On Saturday, August 26, a white supremacist shot and killed three Black people at a Dollar General store, then killed himself. The shooter’s semi-automatic rifle had swastikas drawn on it. Law enforcement has stated decisively that the massacre was motivated by the shooter’s racism. News coverage of the mass shooting was overwhelmed when Hurricane Idalia struck Florida, but was not forgotten in Jacksonville’s Black community. “This hurricane of racism that we’ve been dealing with in the Jacksonville community is not new,” Rodney Hurst, civil rights leader, historian and author from Jacksonville, said on Democracy Now! As a teenager, he led sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Jacksonville. On August 27, 1960, in what became known as “Ax Handle Saturday,” the young, nonviolent protesters were attacked by a white mob of 200 armed with axe handles and baseball bats. The Dollar General shooting took place as Hurst and others were planning to mark the 63rd anniversary of that attack. In Washington, D.C., thousands were commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The struggles of a century can be wiped out with the stroke of a pen, whether it is erasing Black history from state curricula, to gerrymandering state maps, to purging voter rolls and other methods of disenfranchising voters of colour. All this is happening now in state legislatures across the country. It will take a force more powerful, the power of the people, to turn back this tide. This column originally appeared in Democracy Now! The post Fight for the right to vote continues across U.S. appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: US Politics, Anti-black racism, voter suppression]

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[l] at 9/7/23 2:58pm
Ontario’s new housing minister Paul Calandra refused to back off on development of Ontario’s Greenbelt, despite the Greenbelt development scandal that led to his predecessor’s resignation over the weekend. “There might be some lands that will be added to the Greenbelt. There might be some that will be removed, but it will be a fair and open process,” Calandra said in a news conference on Wednesday. This was Calandra’s first press conference since Premier Doug Ford named him new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing after his predecessor Steve Clark resigned in the wake of a critical Auditor General’s report. Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found that wealthy developers directly influenced the office of the minister when certain parcels of land were removed from the Greenbelt so that they could be made available for housing construction. Lysyk found that of the 7,400 acres removed from the Greenbelt, 6,800 acres were removed on the recommendation of three developers who owned that land. Furthermore, Lysyk’s report claims that the value of the land when developed would increase by as much as $8.3 billion collectively. Greenbelt land not needed to meet housing goal Calandra said that the whole Greenbelt would be reviewed and that more land could be removed as a part of the government’s goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2031, but emphasized that this process would be “open and public.” The 7,400 acres removed from the Greenbelt would also be reviewed, but Calandra did not rule out the possibility that they would still be developed, saying he hoped to see shovels in the ground by 2025. Lysyk, however, found in her report that no Greenbelt land would be needed to meet the province’s goal of building 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years and that there was plenty of land available within existing municipal boundaries to meet that goal. The report reads: “We found that the Housing Ministry had already allocated the entirety of the 1.5-million-unit housing target to Ontario’s municipalities in October 2022—one month before the government’s November 2022 proposal to remove land sites from the Greenbelt.”  Calandra held a second press conference on Thursday, where he once again defended the decision to begin development in the Greenbelt, but said that any development will be reviewed first. “Do we need to build on the Greenbelt? Well, we’re moving forward with building on the Greenbelt if, as I said yesterday, after the facilitator has completed her work, it meets the standards that we’ll be setting with respect to the full Greenbelt review then we will move forward with that,” he said. “If it doesn’t, the land will be returned back to the Greenbelt.” Broken promises and outrage In response to Calandra’s press conference on Wednesday, Ontario NDP housing critic Jessica Bell called on the Ford government to return all land to the protection of the Greenbelt. Minister Calandra needs to understand very quickly that Ontarians dont want a review to justify taking more land out of the Greenbelt, they want all land returned immediately. #Onpoli — Jessica Bell (@JessicaBellTO) September 6, 2023 In a statement made in 2018, which is still on the Ontario Progressive Conservative’s website, Doug Ford promised not to touch the Greenbelt. The statement reads:  “I looked at it as making sure we have more affordable housing … There have been a lot of voices saying that they don’t want to touch the Greenbelt. I govern through the people, I don’t govern through government. The people have spoken – we won’t touch the greenbelt. Very simple. That’s it, the people have spoken. I’m going to listen to them, they don’t want me to touch the greenbelt, we won’t touch the greenbelt. Simple as that.” Members of Dufferin-Caledon Keep The Greenbelt Promise (DCKTGP) have been lobbying their local MPP, Progressive Conservative Sylvia Jones, who is Minister of Health, to get Ford to keep his promise from 2018 and leave the Greenbelt alone. READ MORE: Why is MPP Sylvia Jones hiding from Dufferin-Caledon constituents? “Ontario has some of the best Class A prime soil in Canada and the best farmland which is situated in the Greenbelt,” DCKTGP member Marci Lipman said. “With the stroke of a bush the Ford government plans to pave over this soil and this land to create housing. Housing that he says is affordable but there are many other places to build affordable housing in Ontario.” The post Ontario’s new housing minister won’t end pillaging of Greenbelt appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Environment, Doug Ford, Greenbelt]

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[l] at 9/7/23 9:44am
It wasn’t exactly a surprise that Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) started September by issuing a wildly misleading statement calling the federal Government’s proposed 2035 net-zero electricity generation rules “unaffordable blackout regulations.” This kind of nonsense is the UCP’s schtick, after all. They got it from the Republicans south of the Medicine Line – speaking of which, does anyone remember “death panels” when Obamacare came along? Same garbage, different issue. Now they’re so deeply into it they’d probably embarrass Steve “Flood the Zone with Sh*t” Bannon, Donald Trump’s first chief strategist and senior counsel. What’s disappointing about this is the central role of Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz is playing in the UCP’s effort to flood the media with BS to stink up the joint. As Bannon famously said, “This is not about persuasion: This is about disorientation.” Schulz’s willingness to stoop to these kind of tactics is disappointing because, when she ran for the leadership of the UCP in 2022, she appeared to be one of the more sensible and credible candidates, someone with a little depth, a little decency, and a solid critique of the eventual winner, Danielle Smith. She promised a calmer, more grown-up approach to government. “I hear every day that people are tired of the drama in politics,” she told Calgary Herald political columnist Don Braid in July, 2022. “I get it. The Twitter wars, the entitlement, the policies that create chaos and division. I don’t have time for that.” Alas, she was wrong when she said Smith’s approach, which she described as “a car crash waiting to happen,” would get the NDP elected. But she was certainly right when she said Albertans deserve to “actually see some humility (from) a government that can admit when it makes mistakes.” But I guess she didn’t really mean it when she said she didn’t have time for a government that just stirs things up for the sake of the fight – and, as Bannon advised, the disorientation that intentionally creates. Schulz promised “compassion and common sense in addition to conservative values.” But that was then. Now she is in the thick of it, delivering division, fake crisis, and transparent balderdash that treats Albertans as if we’re all dopes. Well, I suppose under the circumstances, the UCP is entitled to have reached that conclusion. Still, it’s disappointing to hear Schulz of all people telling us not strictly accurately that “Ottawa’s unaffordable blackout regulations will increase costs and hurt grid reliability for businesses and families, all for targets that aren’t feasible or realistic.” “In numerous spots, it’s clear that there is room to negotiate specific issues within the proposed regulatory standards,” observed University of Calgary environmental law professor Martin Z. Olszynski, a frequent critic of the government’s environmental policies and claims about the constitution. “But at the same time the province wants to portray this as an all or nothing proposition. “‘Unaffordable black-out regulations’ is the 2023 version of the ‘No Pipelines Act,’” he said. “A pretty transparent messaging trick that assumes Canadians and Albertans are stupid.” Still, even when times are grim and disappointment fills the air, the UCP gives us a chuckle now and then. “To date, the federal government has provided inconsistent and often misleading information about these flawed regulations,” Schulz huffed, presumably an effort to cast doubt on the feasibility of the goal of the regulations in line with the Alberta government’s policy of always moving the goalposts farther away to ensure we never actually adopt renewable or carbon neutral solutions. But to say that unironically days after Premier Smith’s stream of excuses and tall tales about her seven-month moratorium on approvals of new renewable-energy electricity projects requires real chutzpah. Indeed, just yesterday, the Globe and Mail reported that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta, contrary to Ms. Smith’s story, never passed a motion calling for the freeze. Well on Saturday, when CORUS Entertainment’s Your Province Your Premier is on the air, so Smith will probably have a new explanation for us by then. Like I said, not surprising. But still disappointing. Ugly Pride flag comparison resurfaces in Red Deer A Red Deer Catholic school trustee named Monique LaGrange has aroused a fierce controversy by publishing an image of children waving Pride flags under another photo of German children in the 1930s waving swastika flags, with the caption “Brainwashing is brainwashing,” the Red Deer Advocate reported. The story of LaGrange’s offensive Instagram post, which has been deleted from the social media platform, is on the front page of today’s print edition of the Advocate. The school board issued a statement saying that the board member does not speak on behalf of the board, although she speaks for at least 14.29 per cent of the seven-member board if you want to get technical about it. The Advocate did not explain what LaGrange’s relationship, if any, is to Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, a former member of the same board. Perhaps that’s one of those things everybody in Red Deer knows anyway. For the moment, we’ll just have to list it as a coincidence. Meanwhile, though, it’s interesting to note that this execrable comparison may have been introduced into Alberta by John Carpay, best known nowadays as the lawyer who hired a private eye to tail the chief justice of the Manitoba Court of King’s Bench. (On Aug. 21, Carpay and another lawyer for the so-called Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom were fined $5,000 each and barred from ever again practicing law in the province by the Law Society of Manitoba.) In November 2018, Carpay was in the news for making a similar statement to the one posted by LaGrange. Speaking at a news conference organized by a right-wing video blogging site, he said, “How do we defeat todays totalitarianism? You’ve got to think about the common characteristics. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hammer and sickle for communism, or whether it’s the swastika for Nazi Germany, or whether it’s a rainbow flag, the underlying thing is a hostility to individual freedoms.” The post Proposed federal clean electricity rules are ‘unaffordable blackout regulations’? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Alberta politics]

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[l] at 9/7/23 8:50am
CBC Radio has been airing programs I’ve hosted since the late 1980s. The prescience of the experts I spoke with as early as 1989 for It’s a Matter of Survival is astounding. But it saddens me. Had we taken their warnings seriously we might have avoided the terrible consequences they accurately predicted. With massive wildfires burning worldwide, floods inundating communities and washing away topsoil, intense hurricanes battering coastlines, ice melting at both poles and in glaciers everywhere and desperate climate migrants fleeing hostile conditions, scientists continue to issue increasingly urgent warnings to the world community. In light of the cascading impacts of a warming planet, the Guardian recently asked 40 scientists from all over to assess where we’re at. They didn’t hold back, especially as the global response to the crisis is not nearly enough to meet the challenge. “We need to stop burning fossil fuels. Now. Not some time when we’ve allowed companies to make all the money they possibly can,” Imperial College London climate scientist Friederike Otto said. The survey found overall agreement that we’re entering uncharted territory — “flying partially blind.” Climate models are amazingly precise at predicting the rise in global temperatures as greenhouse gas emissions climb, but they aren’t as good at charting increasingly erratic and extreme weather events — nature’s own warnings — many of which are turning out to be harsher than expected. They will almost certainly get worse. READ MORE: Seniors’ climate action group fights to save the planet for the next generation “Knowing that we will look back on today’s extreme events as mild relative to what lies in our future is truly mind-boggling,” Andrea Dutton at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told the Guardian. “The speed at which we make this transition will define the future that we get.” Rein Haarsma of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute said, “The extremes we see now happening could induce tipping points such as the collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and melting of the Antarctic ice sheets, that would have devastating impacts.” Scientists recently issued a warning about those perilous conditions in Antarctica. Their letter from the recent Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research Biology Symposium in New Zealand stated, “Antarctica is a crucial component of the Earth system and a sentinel for growing change. As Antarctic scientists, we see the evidence of mounting change, including changes in food webs, rapid change in populations, breeding failure and local ecosystem collapse, with projections of rapid transformation of a region that makes our planet liveable and contributes in extraordinary ways to global biodiversity.” Because polar regions are warming faster than the rest of Earth, the Arctic isn’t faring much better. Rapidly melting sea ice cover is affecting weather patterns and ocean currents, speeding us toward unpredictable planetary feedback loops and new human-related threats as open waters entice oil and gas development, mining, fishing, shipping and waste dumping. Scientists are calling for the entire Arctic Ocean to be designated a marine protected area. Warnings from scientists and Indigenous Peoples aren’t new. From the Amazon to the Arctic, people on the front lines have been telling us of the extreme changes they’ve been witnessing for decades. Experts working with organizations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the International Energy Agency tell us we must curtail rampant consumerism, leave fossil fuels behind and shift quickly to renewable energy. Scientists from around the world have also issued two “warnings to humanity,” one signed in 1992 by a majority of living Nobel Prize winners and more than 1,700 leading scientists and another on the 25th anniversary in 2018, signed by more than 15,000 scientists. The latter stated, “By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.” When will we heed the increasing warnings? Why do politicians, media pundits and keyboard trolls with no background in science think they know more than those who have observed and studied every aspect of climate? We’ve long known what the problems and solutions are, but we’ve put off change to the point of crisis. There’s no time left to lose. We ignore the warnings at our peril. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with David Suzuki Foundation Senior Writer and Editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at davidsuzuki.org. The post What will it take to listen to the climates warnings? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Antarctica, Arctic]

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[l] at 9/6/23 3:36pm
Tuesday was the deadline for candidates to apply to be the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. Previous leader Steven Del Duca resigned the night of the 2022 provincial election after failing to raise his party from third place status. Up for election is a group of candidates bringing with them a wide range of political views.  This means the winner will determine the character of the the party that had once dominated Ontario politics. A push to the right? Bonnie Crombie, the long-time Mayor of Mississauga announced her intention to pull the party to the right of centre. “I think the Liberal party moved much too far to the left. I think traditionally our roots are in the centre. I believe we govern from right of centre,” said Crombie. “I would hope to attract Red Tories and Blue Liberals back to the party and let the opposition deal with the issues that are too far to the left.” Crombie, a former federal Liberal MP, has by far out fundraised her competitors, netting nearly $725,000 from just 416 donors as of September 1. Nate Erskine-Smith, the next closest candidate in terms of donations, has netted $262,858 from 312 donors. Clearly this shows that larger money interests are backing Crombie and her more pro-business agenda. Or progressive, pragmatic change? Erskine-Smith was the first candidate to announce his intention to run for the Ontario Liberal leadership. He was elected as a federal Liberal MP for the riding of Beaches-East York in 2015 and at under 40. is one of the younger candidates in the race. “I’m not leaving a progressive federal Liberal Party to protect an unambitious status quo. If I lead the Ontario Liberals, we won’t govern from the centre-right. I won’t suggest affordable childcare is too far left or block housing from being built,” Erskine-Smith wrote in a statement on X (formerly Twitter). At a campaign event in Cornwall, ON, Erskine-Smith told rabble.ca that he wanted to lead a party that was progressive and pragmatic. “I want the OLP to be a better version of itself,” he said. Labour issues mostly absent from race, with one exception Erskine-Smith has put forward on his website some progressive policies including reducing Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040 and guaranteeing 12 hours of mental health talk therapy for all Ontarians. He is also the only candidate for the Ontario Liberal leadership that has a labour policy. In his labour platform Erskine-Smith is committing to barring employers from using scab labour during disputes with unionized employees. He also promises to enact a gig worker bill of rights and has committed to never using the notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Constitution to force a labour agreement on a union, as Premier Doug Ford attempted to do with educational support workers last November. Erskine-Smith is not the only OLP leadership candidate who is promising some progressive policies. Yasir Naqvi is current federal Liberal MP for Ottawa Centre has previously served as MPP for that same riding and was the Attorney General under Premier Kathleen Wynne and is promising universal mental health care for Ontario. Kingston and the Islands Liberal MPP Ted Hsu is offering moderate policies like reducing classroom sizes. Likewise Don Valley East Liberal MPP Adil Shamji has mostly moderate policies, but is proposing a novel idea of creating a new floating statutory holiday, which would allow an individual to take a paid holiday on a day of their choice that is religiously or culturally significant to them. The Ontario Liberal leadership election is expected to take place on December 2. The post A race for the soul of the Ontario Liberals appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, OLP, Ontario Politics]

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[l] at 9/6/23 8:59am
Wildfires have not only devastated the landscape, but they have taken a human toll as well. Fortunately for most Canadians, there are social programs that they can fall back on that can somewhat help them pick up the pieces. This however is not the case for migrant workers. “As history often shows, migrant workers tend to bear the brunt of such tragic events, often without the acknowledgment we deserve,” reads a letter by DIGNIDAD Migrante, an organization of migrant workers that fights for improved conditions for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs).   DIGNIDAD Migrante submitted this letter to Canadian ministers amidst large evacuations in western Canada due to wildfires. The organization joined a rallying cry for open work permits and expanded Employment Insurance (EI) measures for migrant workers.  As people uprooted their lives, many migrant workers were left with little resources to help them rebuild.  To access regular EI benefits workers are required to have worked between 420 and 700 hours. However, many migrant workers, specifically farm workers, are hired seasonally according to Raul Gatica, assistant to the Board of Directors at DIGNIDAD Migrante.  By the time migrant workers in BC and the Northwest Territories had to evacuate, many of them had only been working at their current place of employment for about 300 hours, Gatica explained.  TFWs tied to one employer With their job sites burning and no access to regular EI benefits, migrant workers are not even able to turn to new employment to gain income. Many Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW)s have closed work permits, meaning that the worker is only allowed to work for one employer while in Canada. To gain a new job, a worker would need to qualify for and apply to an entirely new work permit.  The wages lost in the interim are sometimes too high for workers to bear. DIGNIDAD Migrante has called for emergency open work permits to ease migrant workers’ difficulties.  “We want open work permits so workers could have the chance to move to another farm or another job,” Gatica said. “There is no reason the government shouldnt want to do that. One change would mean they will stop allowing modern day slavery. Because now, work permits are the chains that tie workers to abusive employers.”  READ MORE: Navigating Canada’s broken Temporary Foreign Worker program Without a job, a work permit or EI, many migrant workers make the choice to stay in Canada.  “Returning home is not an option, as it deprives us of the vital income that our families depend on,” DIGNIDAD Migrante wrote. “Emergency open work permits would grant us the opportunity to secure alternative employment within the country, allowing us to continue assisting our families while also addressing labor shortages in essential industries.”  More medical coverage required DIGNIDAD Migrante is also calling for all TFWs to be provided coverage under the Medical Services Plan. The organization is saying that coverage should be guaranteed no matter the duration of a worker’s permit and should provide health services to undocumented workers who experience adverse health effects caused by the fires and smoke.  “The provision of Emergency Open Work Permits, Employment Insurance benefits, and Medical Service Plan coverage is not only a compassionate gesture,” DIGNIDAD Migrante wrote, “but also a testament to the value of migrant workers in society.”  This year’s wildfire season was not the start of inequities for migrant workers. But Canada’s tiered society is on full display as injustices within the TFW program are exacerbated by emergencies.  “Farmworkers, instead of being put in appropriate emergency housing are just being shoved onto other farms that are already overcrowded,” said Jonathon Braun, legal director at the Migrant Workers Centre. “There is also an issue around access to services because a lot of things, like shelter and transportation, had to be accessed through online portals. If people dont have access to a computer, they cant access them.”  This is an abuse of power, according to Gatica, who said he felt that governments have no legal ground to exclude migrant workers from resources such as EI.  “This situation underscores our collective reality as migrants, where our contributions often go unnoticed, even though we will inevitably play a pivotal role in rebuilding the affected areas,” DIGNIDAD Migrante wrote.  The post Migrant workers left out of wildfire support appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Labour, Migrant Workers, Temporary Foreign Workers, wildfires]

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[l] at 9/5/23 4:18pm
Each year, we here at rabble ask our readers: “What are the organizations that inspire you? Who are the people leading progressive change? Who are the rabble rousers to watch?” Every year, your responses introduce us to a new group of inspiring activists. This is our ‘rabble rousers to watch’ series. Follow our rabble rousers to watch here.  We’re pleased to continue building our roster of our ‘rabble rousers to watch’ list of 2023 with Seniors for Climate Action Now (SCAN), a climate action group based in Ontario, focused on the senior population in the province to join the fight against climate change. We spoke with Lyba Spring, co-chair of SCAN, about the work they are doing to inform, educate and mobilize their generation to ensure all children and grandchildren are left with a healthy planet. A conversation with SCAN! co-chair, Lyba Spring rabble.ca: Can you tell us about the work that youre doing with your organization? Lyba Spring: Seniors for Climate Action Now (SCAN) has grown in a little over three years from a few dozen members to over 450. We are part of the growing movement to phase out fossil fuels, collaborating with many other organizations.  We run webinars, write papers, attend demonstrations, run campaigns, criticize both the provincial and federal governments on their inaction, support Indigenous climate initiatives, maintain a presence in localities around the province and run committees and working groups. Seniors are not only a specific group that already suffer and will continue to suffer from climate catastrophes along with people who are unhoused, Indigenous, poor and marginalized; but we also want to make our specific older voices heard. Our children and grandchildren deserve to inherit a livable planet.  rabble.ca: How did you first get involved in activism? LS: I came to feminism in 1968, got involved in anti-war work and eventually women’s health advocacy. I am relatively new to climate activism, which started for me when I joined SCAN! rabble.ca: What does being nominated as a ‘rabble rouser to watch’ mean to you? LS: It is an incredible honour. rabble.ca: How do you take care of yourself and find the drive to keep going?  LS: My co-chair takes on an enormous amount of work. We try to laugh and strategize our way together through the hard stuff. We are both involved in making music, which, as everyone knows, is life. The drive to keep going is witnessing the inspiring work around us and the immediacy of the danger in front of us.  rabble.ca: What is one goal you have in the next year?  Spring: SCAN’s stated priority is to call for emergency climate action at all levels of government. rabble.ca: What do you wish people knew about the organizing you do?  People need to understand that seniors, especially those of us who have been organizing one way or another for decades, are a force for change in this country. It is incumbent on us to do so. Our Boomer generation of consumers has a responsibility to turn this sorry mess around. The post Seniors’ climate action group fights to save the planet for the next generation appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Political Action, rabble rousers to watch series]

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[l] at 9/5/23 11:50am
Let’s say you’re living with your mother. She’s sick and needs your help. Would you ignore her, go hang out with local gang members, and plot ways to defeat a rival gang? That pretty much sums up Canada’s current approach to geopolitics. When I was on the international biodiversity policy file, two of the negotiators for whom I had the greatest respect were from Iran and Russia. They were committed to the good of the planet despite their leaders’ political views. Canada and China worked together to achieve a positive outcome from COP15 in Montreal last December. Canadian Chinese cooperation to protect and restore the world’s ecosystems should be encouraged, despite our differences on other issues. Let’s hope Minister Guilbeault’s trip this week is productive. Helping our mother (Mother Earth, if you hadn’t caught on) should be Canada’s number one geopolitical priority. But if instead we choose to hang with ex-colonial powers and Uncle Sam, talking global geopolitics and war, we’ll end up doing whatever they want so they’ll let us stay in the gang. We have an inferiority complex. We’re not sure we belong. We’re weaker than the big boys. To keep our gang in power we do a bit of dirty work promoting nuclear power and small modular reactors (SMRs). I’m not making this up. According to a secret Natural Resources Canada document, “Domestic nuclear expertise will decline without investment in SMRs, resulting in declining global influence and ability to engage on nuclear security issues (including, for example, Iran negotiations).” How else can one explain why Canada’s natural resources minister would go to visit his parents in Saskatoon and, while there, announce $47 million for SMR development – without the participation of any Saskatchewan government officials? Promoting SMRs as a climate change “solution” is absurd. It delays action on energy conservation and renewable energy technologies, keeping fossil fuel producers in business longer. It ignores the fact that all nuclear reactors produce waste that needs to be kept away from humans and other life forms for thousands of years. The main purpose of SMRs is to maintain our ties to the nuclear weapons establishment. The federal government only pretends that SMRs will ever get built. The real objective is to hand out enough money to maintain “domestic nuclear expertise”. These sums are not trivial – well over a billion dollars per year. Most of that flows through the crown corporation Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) to a multinational consortium heavily involved in the US and UK nuclear arsenals. Scientists from around the world came to Canada in World War II to learn how to make nuclear weapons. The Minister of Trade and Commerce, C.D. Howe created AECL in 1952 to profit from sales of nuclear reactors and plutonium for US weapons. The Nuclear Energy Act, a holdover from that era, obligates Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson and his department to promote nuclear power. CANDU heavy water reactors, while great for making atom bombs, are not so great for making electricity. They produce ten times more high-level nuclear waste than light water reactors. They produce far more tritium—radioactive water— that moves quickly and easily through the environment and right into our DNA. AECL managed to bribe a few shady regimes to buy them, but the market has dried up. Should we help our gang keep their weapons that can destroy the world – or save Mother Earth? It’s a choice about Canada’s “legacy.” Why not be leaders in something positive? We can build on our Indigenous heritage. We can manage our forests to protect biodiversity and sequester carbon, rather than treating them as “natural resources” and selling them off to foreigners. Buckminster Fuller said “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Let’s build a new geopolitical model that focuses on saving Mother Earth. The post Overcoming Canada’s inferiority complex on geopolitics appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Canadian Politics, Environment, China, Climate Change, Stephen Guilbeault]

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[l] at 9/5/23 11:36am
On June 29 Dufferin-Caledon Keep The Greenbelt Promise (DCKTGP) members hand delivered a letter to Progressive Conservative MPP Sylvia Jones requesting a meeting regarding the Ford government’s plans to open up the Greenbelt for development. After seven weeks they were offered a meeting on September 1 the same day the RCMP announced they were taking over the investigation of the Greenbelt development. Jones office abruptly cancelled the meeting with DCKTGP. “As our elected representative and a member of the government, Ms. Jones has an obligation of duty to meet with her constituents to discuss their concerns regardless of how controversial the issue,” Sharon Sommerville, a DCKTGP member, told rabble.ca via email. “We are very disappointed that we are unable to meet with our elected representative to discuss an issue as critical as the well-being of Dufferin-Caledon communities,” she added. The Greenbelt was created through provincial legislation in 2005 to prevent urban sprawl and development from destroying environmentally sensitive lands. According to DCKTGP member LeeAnne McKenna,” The Greenbelt was created as a safeguard which requires us to address problems like the housing crisis, without destroying nature. This is the Greenbelt Promise.” Ford and former Housing Minister Steve Clark publicly stated 18 times that they would not open the Greenbelt to development. Both reneged on this promise in the midst of a climate crisis when government should be creating policy to protect the planet and future generations. The area of Dufferin-Caledon is a very environmentally sensitive area where the headwaters of three vital rivers emerge that eventually empty into Lake Erie, Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario. These ecosystems along with the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, are exquisite examples of land worthy of protection. They include great swaths of farmland, marsh and forest as well as rugged outcroppings. The Greenbelt was designed to erect barriers to unfettered urban sprawl, avoiding the atomization of these delicate ecosystems that impact wetlands, agricultural reserves and the biodiversity of fauna and flora. The 810,000 hectares (2 million acres) that make up the Greenbelt has the added benefit of protecting urban areas to the south from flooding. Sommerville maintains the impact on democratic rights is equally important. “The efforts of so many of us in Dufferin-Caledon to protect these jewels are thwarted so cavalierly by the government at Queen’s Park. The now debilitated authority of Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities are amongst the early casualties of a government determined to open up the Greenbelt,” Sommerville said. The Ford government is removing large tracts of land from the Greenbelt based on the unsupported idea that those lands are needed to build housing. Reality is, two million readily serviced plots already exist.  This is quite simply a case of enriching the wealthy for their own personal gain. This is class war at its finest. The Auditor General and the Integrity Commission have both issued reports that laid bare the truth. Despite these damning reports, the Ford government has shown no regret, apology, or intention to reverse the Greenbelt land grab. Ford’s loyalty remains with his cronies rather than with the people of Ontario. McKenna wonders, “what else is up for sale, theft or destruction when our provincial government is run like a fiefdom manipulated by those with power and access?” So, why do Ford and Jones hate Dufferin-Caledon so much? Dufferin-Caledon is home to working farms as well as the people and families who make their living on the land. However, when land value exceeds the value of what the land produces, then we are at grave risk of paving over some of the finest Class 1 farmland in Canada according to Jon Bathmaker, another DCKTGP member. “You can’t grow produce or husband anything on pavement. The communities and culture that produce much of what we eat will be gone. What will replace them, Bathmaker asked. Prime farmland is precious and finite. It supports families, communities and businesses. The value cannot be measured in simple dollars and cents. Bathmaker maintains, “we have an obligation to future generations to provide a safe food supply, clean water, clean air and green space. You can’t do that by paving over paradise.” According to a study co-authored by McMaster University economics professor, Atif Kubursi, Ontario has not reached its full farming potential nor is it producing enough food to be self-sustaining but it could. Dollars and Sense: Opportunities to Strengthen Ontario’s Food System, proves Ontario could ramp up farm profitability as well as improve health outcomes for consumers, while also reducing the carbon footprint of local produce. According to the study, a 10 per cent reduction in imports of eight fruit and vegetable crops would result in an estimated 59 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions (12,249 tonnes) from transportation of these commodities Agriculture in Ontario currently generates $11.5 billion annually. Farmers, along with their suppliers, spend $29.3 billion per year netting $4.4 billion in tax revenues for municipal, provincial and federal governments combined. Improving Ontario’s food self-sufficiency would only grow these impressive numbers and create an additional 3,400 jobs across the province. This would help Ontario move towards sustainable food security and food sovereignty. But that won’t happen if developers pave over farmland. Soil and carbon farming sequesters carbon. Digging up soil releases that carbon into the atmosphere. Building subdivisions requires archaeological excavation, grading of sites, digging of basements, moving the soil by trucks, paving over additional lands for roads and infrastructure. All of which releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere compounding the current climate emergency. DCKTGP member Franca DeAnglis said, “The Greenbelt feeds our community and provides some protection from floods, heat and other destructive consequences of climate change.” Re-zoning these lands for residential building also brings with it a lot of pavement, concrete, roads and hardscaping. That means less rain water and snow melt infiltrating the ground and increasing the risk of flooding especially with the increased extreme weather events Ontario has been experiencing. The lack of water soaking into the ground means that water is not recharging the groundwater which impacts the watershed, aquifer and water quality and quantity. Progressive municipalities recognize that natural areas are as valuable, if not more so, than trying to engineer solutions to mitigate impacts on the natural environment. “Ontario has some of the best Class A prime soil in Canada and the best farmland which is situate in the Greenbelt, DCKTGP member Marci Lipman maintains. “With the stroke of a bush the Ford government plans to pave over this soil and this land to create housing. Housing that he says is affordable but there are many other places to build affordable housing in Ontario.” Once precious Class A soil is gone it never comes back. That would make Ontarians dependent on imported foods that are subject to boarder closures, climate disasters and price gouging. Gillian Northgrave believes, “the destruction of the Greenbelt would crush the soul of those Dufferin-Caledon residents who care about the environment. As a protected and protective area, it has both a powerful symbolic value and a practical one. It is both a vital habitat for wildlife fleeing the city and refuge for mankind living in the city. It is a promise that should not be broken.” Dufferin-Caledon Keep Your Greenbelt Promise is holding a rally September 8, at 12:30 p.m. outside Sylvia Jones’ office at 180 Broadway Avenue, Orangeville, Ontario. You can also email the Dufferin-Caledon MPP and Minister of Heath at  sylvia.jones@pc.ola.org or leave a phone message at  519-941-7751. The post Why is MPP Sylvia Jones hiding from Dufferin-Caledon constituents? appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Political Action, Doug Ford, Greenbelt]

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[l] at 9/4/23 3:00pm
Flying out to the middle of the “bush” every summer to plant a few thousand tree saplings every day, for three months straight – it has been a classic coming-of-age experience for young Canadians for more than 40 years. Tree planters stay in remote camps in Canada’s vast forest lands for the summer, making a few cents for every sapling they put in the ground. The work is physically demanding and can be mentally crushing.  Tree planting companies, or the “reforestation industry,” are largely contracted by logging corporations. Provincial regulations across Canada that require companies to restore the forest land that they chop down.  Tree planting companies are also hired by government wildlife and environmental agencies. Now, more tree planters than ever are needed to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign pledge of planting two billion trees to tackle the climate crisis.  But are young Canadians’ yearly pilgrimage to the Canadian bush really an altruistic act of giving back to nature, like famed Canadian actor Will Arnett suggests?  Maybe not. Forest restoration initiatives are far more friendly with the logging industry than meets the eye.  Reforestation hand in hand with logging industry The reforestation industry is composed of contractors that hire tree planters and manage replanting operations – AG Reforestation, Summit Reforestation, Coast Range Contracting, and Folklore Contracting, to name a few. The reforestation industry’s clients are usually logging companies themselves. Various provincial regulations across Canada require companies to replant the forest lands that they’ve chopped down.  Tree planters’ work, albeit indirectly, enables one of the worst carbon-emitting industries in Canada. Replanting efforts have not done a whole lot to mitigate the logging industry’s carbon emissions.  In Canada, data shows that forest lands’ net carbon emissions have been increasing at an exponential rate since 2001. Forest lands are emitting more and more carbon than they sequester. Logging operations, decaying biomass those operations leave behind, along with increasing wildfires and insect outbreaks, all factor into this increase.  Plus, that statistic does not even take into account the 1.5 billion-plus tons of carbon that recent wildfires have released into the atmosphere. READ MORE: No, wildfires are not the ‘normal’ result of climate change Inadequate provincial regulations Provincial regulations require logging operations to restore chopped-down forest land to the way it was before. But the policy lacks attention to detail. “The idea is to regenerate the same forest type that was reharvested,” explained University of Toronto Forestry Professor Jay Malcolm. “We have not been very good at that though.” Much of Canada’s natural forest lands are coniferous – populated by evergreen species like the black spruce. After logging companies chop down a section, planters will come and plant black spruce saplings to replace it.  But there is a strong chance that most of those saplings will die, Malcolm explained. The large swaths of wide open, clear cut land left behind by industrial logging operations expose the dirt and sunlight and air. Those growing conditions are far more favourable to aspen than black spruce. A survey of 414,000 hectares of forest land in Northwestern Ontario, which had been replanted with black spruce, found that the species made up just 15 per cent of the surviving growth. “Which means all those little trees that the planters planted, just died,” Malcolm noted.  The difference in species is bad news for biodiversity, throwing off the balance of species in the ecosystems in Canada’s boreal forests, putting species like caribou in critical danger of extinction. But regulatory bodies have not imposed responsibility on logging corporations for the botched replanting efforts.  “Seven years later, people come in, see what the density of trees is, and if its high enough, then they walk away. It doesnt really matter what the species composition of the [area] is,” Malcolm said.  Goodbye, old-growth forests Then there is the matter of age. In theory, governments aim to regulate forestry practices so that they imitate “natural disturbance regimes,” Malcolm explained. For example, empirical evidence from studies of tree rings, fire scars, and historical fire recordss as well as lake sediment indicate that forest fires naturally occur about every 166 years in a given region of forest land in Ontario – that is, in the absence of human-induced climate change and large-scale logging operations.  This 166-year period is what determines the age of the trees. Around seven per cent of a given region of natural Ontario forest will be over 166 years old, Malcolm noted. When loggers cut down too many trees too frequently, however, they bring the average age down. And the age of a forest’s trees is important. Having a healthy distribution of old and young trees mitigates wildfires and supports the biodiversity of plant and animal species.  Regulatory bodies captured by industry This is why Ontario’s provincial regulations – technically – outlaw systematic reductions the age distribution of the forest. But logging companies have gotten away with it anyway.  “Hows that? You wonder? Because of the bamboozling, basically,” Malcolm said.  He explained that the Ontario regulatory body uses “virtual reality” model of the natural forest to inform how often it would hypothetically burn, as a guide.  “That model burns the forest like crazy,” Malcolm said. “And as a result, the average age is quite young.”  And regulators refuse to look up from the screen, and see that natural forests’ average age is actually much older, according to Malcolm. Industry capture is rife among the forestry industry’s regulatory bodies. Malcolm recalled his own experience sitting on Ontario’s forest technical committee.  “Industry certainly had a stronger voice at that table than anybody else. And the regulations basically came to us, already written by the government. And you were hard pressed to get them to change a single word. Thats why I quit the committee after a year. It was a waste of time,” he said. Meanwhile, the Trudeau government’s 2019 commitment to plant two billion trees by 2030 is one apparently genuine attempt to address environmental concerns – despite the overwhelming hurdles it has faced thus far.  But at the same time, the Trudeau government has aggressively lobbied to remove itself from international bills that would interfere with Canada’s export of logging products that degrade forest lands. The move has attracted international criticism. And Canada’s commitment to the forest industry remains blatantly clear. The post Will tree planting fix Canada’s forests? Not without serious changes appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, forestry, logging, trees]

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[l] at 9/4/23 12:00pm
This year marks the seventy-eighth anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombs directly caused the deaths of an estimated 110,000 – 210,000 people. While significant, that number does not do justice to the long-lasting consequences for those who were beneath the mushroom cloud.  Their suffering has spanned generations. The impacts of the blast resulted in short-term injuries combined with longer-term impacts – illnesses, radiation sickness, cancers, birth defects, and the social stigma surrounding survivors.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) came in 2017, in light of the suffering these weapons cause, and wariness as global tensions rise. The TPNW places the humanitarian, environmental and discriminatory impact of nuclear weapons at the forefront, shifting the discussion surrounding nuclear weapons.  This treaty is one of the best hopes for working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. Addressing the old treatys failures  The TPNW recognizes the devastation caused by the more than 2000 nuclear weapon tests that took place across the world, including in the Pacific Islands and Kazakhstan. Such tests have increased levels of cancer in nearby communities, left entire islands vaporized, displaced people, and cut them off from their cultures and livelihoods.  Those tests also aided in the weapons’ development – the estimated 13,080 nuclear weapons still in the world today are at most 3,300 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima.  Nuclear weapon states are required to disarm and eliminate their nuclear arsenals as members of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But they have continuously avoided doing so. This has allowed for the threat of nuclear war to persist as world tensions grow, and global cooperation becomes ever more fragile. Dissatisfaction with that lack of action is what led to the TPNW. It was created to complement the NPT, to create further action on disarmament, and to fill some of the gaping holes in the NPT’s framework.  The treaty places a special focus on the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on women and Indigenous peoples. It also recognizes the need for their representation in decision-making processes. This makes the TPNW the first international treaty to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on women. This puts it perfectly in line with the feminist foreign policy that many countries, such as Canada and France, are said to have. The discourse surrounding nuclear weapons and militarism in general is often gendered – weapons and increased militarism are framed as masculine and strong, while disarmament is framed as feminine and weak. This has limited action on disarmament and, instead, has led to drawing battle lines between countries, and continued development of nuclear weapons. The Treaty’s current status As of now, the humanitarian aspect of the TPNW has continued through the first meeting of state parties and the resulting Vienna Declaration and Action Plan.  States have committed to a number of proactive actions, like directly communicating with affected communities, establishing an international trust fund, and ensuring inclusivity. They have also agreed to create informal working groups focusing on the different articles of the treaty, some of which include: universalization, victim assistance, environmental remediation, and international cooperation and assistance. These steps bring non-nuclear weapon states much closer towards seeking remedies for the damage done by nuclear weapons. They have also enabled states to start stigmatizing and de-legitimizing nuclear weapons—pinning them as the weapons of mass destruction that they are. As the treaty’s list of 92 signatories and 68 ratifications grows, so too will this stigma. This humanitarian approach offers the chance to refocus the view of nuclear weapons based on the detrimental health and environmental impact they have.  It also serves to counteract the theory of nuclear deterrence – that if one country has nuclear weapons, no one will attack them for fear of nuclear retaliation. Many countries rely on nuclear deterrence, including those who form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Nuclear deterrence theory, however, also allows nuclear arms to exist in the first place. As such, it opens the possibility for nuclear arms to be used due to intent, miscalculation, misunderstanding, or accident. Public speaks out as Canada refuses to sign As a member of NATO, Canada has also relied on nuclear deterrence – refusing to sign or engage with the TPNW. Despite this refusal, 74 per cent of Canadians support Canada joining the TPNW according to a poll done by Nanos Research in 2021. It is time for Canada to take leadership to work towards nuclear disarmament for the safety of every living thing on this planet. Across Canada, various organizations and individuals have called on the Canadian government to take action on the disarmament of nuclear weapons.  Recently, the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Canada (WILPF) partnered with World Beyond War Canada and the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute on an online letter campaign. It calls on the Trudeau government to sign the TPNW and send a delegation to the second meeting of state parties for the TPNW.  The letter stands as a way to show the government that Canadians across the country care about this issue and are demanding action. Those organizations also launched a 2-page fact sheet entitled “The Need for Disarmament: Canada, NATO and the Threat of Nuclear Weapons.”  Now is the time to act As we reach the 78th year since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is more important than ever that we remember why these weapons can never be used again. The hibakusha – those who survived the atomic bombings and nuclear testing – are passing on.  As we lose the hibakusha, we also lose their stories and experiences of the devastation these bombs caused. Forced to watch as nuclear weapon stockpiles skyrocket and become more powerful, they know, more than anyone, the danger those weapons will always pose as long as they exist. We are not living in a time when leaders can simply hope that a nuclear war doesn’t break out.  States are threatening to use nuclear weapons, and tensions between nuclear weapon states are rising. Canada must join the TPNW to prevent a catastrophe from which there can be no return. To find out more information, please visit vowpeace.org. The post Why we need a nuclear ban treaty appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Feminism, Human Rights, feminism, militarism, nuclear disarmament]

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[l] at 9/4/23 10:00am
The idea of a green job is appealing. Job searchers on LinkedIn may have noticed the “green jobs section appear on the platform. The climate career portal allows workers to see which skills are transferable to the green economy. But are all green jobs as environmentally friendly as they make themselves seem?   For those working to mine for “critical minerals,” the answer is no. Critical minerals are defined as minerals considered essential to a country’s economic security, and potentially face supply chain disruptions.  Despite a vague definition, some government documents make it seem as though all critical minerals are integral to a transition into a green economy.  “Simply put, there is no energy transition without critical minerals,” reads The Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, “which is why their supply chain resilience has become an increasing priority for advanced economies.”  The statement is not true. Some critical minerals are needed to create green energy technology, but not all. This messaging paints all critical minerals as transition minerals –  and presents critical mining projects as “green.”  Truly, they are not.  Destructive mining operations labelled ‘green’ “Whats lacking in Canada and in the provinces at the moment is transparency around whether their focus is on critical minerals writ large or on transition minerals specifically,” said Nikki Skuce, director of climate action group Northern Confluence and author of the report Critical Minerals: A Critical Look.  “They seem to be greenwashing it by just sort of saying, ‘Oh, well, this is all for transition.’ These projects are not always for the energy transition and you have some mines that are really greenwashing.”  Skuce pointed to British Columbia’s copper mining practices as greenwashing, a practice where companies make their practices seem more environmentally friendly than they really are. BC is the largest producer of copper, according to Skuce’s report. But the mines that extract this copper have devastating environmental impacts. Recall the devastating Mount Polley dam breach in 2014, where tailings waste polluted water supply, resulting in 17 million cubic meters of water lost.  The mining industry’s massive extraction of resources only raises the risk of environmental damage, according to Skuce.  “We would just be exchanging one disaster for another with massive extraction,” Skuce said.  Ending the misleading categorization of mining critical minerals will help not only the environment, but workers as well, according to Skuce. She said that finding alternative sources for critical minerals and metals may even reduce health and safety risks to workers.  “I feel like theres an opportunity for a lot of new jobs that ensure health and safety regulations in finding alternative sources for a lot of those metals and minerals through urban mining, recycling and reusing opportunities,” Skuce said.  Skuce said that using the metals and minerals in the waste from demolition projects and re-mining tailings waste are projects that would create truly green jobs for workers.  Reconfiguring mining for green, stable jobs  Creating green jobs in the critical minerals sector may require reconfiguring our relationship with the mining industry, according to Ana Guerra Marin from Iron & Earth.  Guerra Marin is the communications director for Iron & Earth, which creates pathways into the net-zero economy for fossil fuel workers. She also spent many years as a geologist both in Latin America and Canada.  “The mining industry, like oil and gas, is a commodified industry,” Guerra Marin said. “So we are not extracting what we need from the earth, we are extracting for profit.” Profit-driven extraction is actually driving instability for some mining jobs, according to Guerra Marin. She explained that many larger corporations will not bear the cost of exploring for minerals if there is a higher risk that there are no minerals present.  “A lot of times the companies that do more high-risk exploration are small companies that can come and disappear right away,” Guerra Marin said.  This system of unstable companies is not conducive to stable employment. That creates barriers to workers who would like to transition out of the carbon economy.  “What weve heard from workers is that it doesnt really matter where theyre at, they just want the same good jobs,” Guerra Marin said. “The missing piece is that renewable skills are not paid as well.” Skuce from the Northern Confluence said that labour unions have begun pushing for policies that will help truly green jobs to be properly funded.  “One of the things people are doing is really advocating for government procurement of these projects,” Skuce said.  Guerra Marin shared a similar sentiment, saying that the desire for profit is what is causing many mining jobs to be greenwashed and for more environmentally friendly mining practices to be overlooked.  “It’s better to extract for need rather than profit,” Guerra Marin said.  Until the interests of corporate profiteers are taken out of mining for transition minerals, many of the so-called green jobs in the sector will likely remain greenwashed.  The post Mining ‘critical minerals’ not critical for a green economy appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, Labour, environment, greenwashing, mining]

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[l] at 9/4/23 8:00am
Corporate and capitalist forces are driving us toward civilizational collapse but institutional myopia and crass electoralism also play their parts in the unfolding planetary tragedy.  Recently the Montréal fire department objected to a city proposal to remove traffic from the road running through the big park atop the mountain at the centre of the city. The sub headline on the front-page of the Montréal Gazette stated, “Fire department says closing road to all cars, trucks would be unsafe”.  Incredible! According to the fire department, reducing the public space devoted to the form of transport that kills more people than any other is not safe. In fact, all evidence suggests the more a city relies on walking, biking, buses and metros the fewer hurt or killed per kilometer of travel (intercity travel by train and plane is also far safer than by private car).  The particulate matter, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants released by private cars are also ‘unsafe’. And the massive recent forest fires – exacerbated by automobile greenhouse gas emissions – are definitely unsafe.  Last week Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew announced that he’d ‘axe the tax’ — to borrow the slogan of a supposedly polar opposite politician. Standing in front of a Winnipeg gas station, Kinew said an NDP government would temporarily eliminate the provincial fuel tax if it wins the upcoming election. Currently Manitobans are charged a measly $0.14 per litre in provincial fuel taxes while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average is three times that. Instead of a cut, a mildly climate conscious, social democratic politician would push to increase that tax to European rates of around $0.70 per litter.  Kinew’s ecocidal electoral pandering isn’t unique. During the 2015 federal election Green Party leader Elizabeth May added her voice to the main opposition parties telling suburbanites they should expect the federal government to continue aggressively subsidizing the most costly, unhealthy and ecologically destructive form of land transport. She told Le Devoir that her party didn’t necessarily support the Stephen Harper government’s plan to implement a toll when the Champlain Bridge, Canada’s busiest crossing and a key connection between the island of Montreal and the citys South Shore, was rebuilt for $4 billion.  In office the BC NDP removed tolls on the Vancouver area’s Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges. They’ve also further subsidized BC Ferries despite its automotive bias. In its ecologically upside-down world, a 150-pound person pays $18.50 to go from Vancouver to Victoria while a 4,000-pound vehicle costs $63.85.  As the climate crisis spirals further out-of-control, private car travel is growing. In a province that touts its ecological mindset the number of cars in Québec increased by 2,616,872 between 2011 and 2021. With a population of 8,602,335, there are 6,995,085 cars in Québec. Nearly one automobile per person of driving age.  Vehicles are also getting bigger and heavier as the size of families declines. So are houses, which is made possible by private cars. In fact, the private automobile underpins a land, energy and resource intensive big box retail/suburban economy that is not only spurring the climate crisis but broader ecological collapse.  As discussed in Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay the private car is an engine of profit accumulation and conspicuous consumption. Class and corporate forces drove the private car’s rise but institutional myopia and crass electoralism help explain its ongoing dominance.  As we drive ourselves towards a climate apocalypse expect myopic politicians to justify further subsidies for roads on the grounds people have to escape the forest fires.  The post Left, right and centre blind to crazy car culture appeared first on rabble.ca.

[Category: Environment, car culture, cars]

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