Category: Media

Labour needs change in perspective

By admin, October 17, 2010 7:55 pm
Published On Sun Oct 17 2010

Re: Unions, the left failed during this recession, Oct. 9

As a trade union member and a researcher on the Canadian labour movement, I couldn’t agree more with Thomas Walkom’s analysis.

The monumental failure of the labour movement in making ideological, material or political gains has much to do with the fact that the leadership of organized labour has thoroughly bought the bill of goods that capitalism is the only option for the working-class in Canada.

The only difference of opinion that that the labour bureaucrats have with the captains of industry and commerce is whether the Hobbesian or Anglo-American version of capitalism, where life is “nasty, brutish and short” or the benign one found in Nordic countries such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark is the preferred way of exploiting labour. Rank-and-file trade union members are not in favour of choosing between the lesser of two evils.

Further, one of the ideological shackles on the minds of labour leaders is the fact that they have bought into the idea that Canada is a largely middle-class society. Yet, they are in the contradictory position of representing the working-class. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of hearing the top labour leaders and social democratic politicians arguing about their objective mission being that of protecting the declining middle-class.

Why should union members express working-class solidarity with each other when they are being told that the desired social destination is the middle-class? This state of affairs is no more evident than in the labour education courses that are carried out in most unions.

These courses do not build workers’ understanding of capitalism as an economic system that is incompatible with their quest to exercise control over work and the product of their labour.

We have class interests that are distinct from the economic and political elites and our ultimate aim should be to control the wealth of this country in order to create the New Jerusalem.

Ajamu Nangwaya, Toronto

Link to Walkom’s column: http://www.thestar.com/article/872878

RALLY FOR G20 ACCOUNTABILITY, UOFT COMMUNITY DEMANDS “COPS OFF CAMPUS”!

By admin, October 14, 2010 10:14 am
What: Rally against the Toronto Association of Police and Private Security (TAPPS) “G20 De-Briefing”
Why: To demand accountability and justice for all those arrested during the G20, and to keep ‘Cops off Campus!’
Where: Rally begins at Graduate Students’ Union, 16 Bancroft Avenue, and will end at the University of Toronto Faculty Club, 45 Willcocks Street.
When: 10:30am, Wednesday, October 20th

*** PLEASE WEAR PINK OR BLACK CLOTHES IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND ***
This is a call to friends and allies to rally on the University of Toronto campus at 10:30am on Wednesday, October 20th, to  send a clear message to the Toronto Association of Police and Private Security (TAPPS) that their “G20 De-Briefing” is not welcome on our campus. Students, faculty, staff and community members are calling for accountability and justice for all those arrested during the G20 Summit in Toronto – the largest instance of mass arbitrary detention in Canadian history – and are demanding that TAPPS and private security firms be kept off campus!

What is TAPPS? Why should I protest it?
TAPPS is an organization created in the mid-1990s to provide greater coordination between the Toronto police and private security companies. The influence of private security companies has increased drastically in recent years, from their expanding role in major conflicts (think of Blackwater in Afghanistan and Iraq) to their steady encroachment on public spaces. Some of the private security companies active in war-zones, such as G4S and Securitas, are also active on our streets and campuses.

With the increasing trend towards privatizing and contracting-out public services, the realm of policing has come to depend on ‘public private partnerships’ or the full-out privatization of policing services – fueling a multi-billion dollar ’security industry’ that relies on fear to sustain profits. The outcome is simple and dangerous: the public has minimal or no oversight and control over the activities of organizations that allegedly protect us.

During the G20 Summit, TAPPS revealed the dangers posed when policing forces and private security companies collaborate: massive and unaccountable repression of civil rights. According to ‘Security Management’ magazine: “Four months before the G20, TAPPS helped bring organizations—including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Toronto Police, NYPD Shield and other specialized units—together to develop plans and share intelligence on known terrorist and extremist threats, including the Black and Pink Bloc anarchists. The information gathered was then fed into the TAPPS secure portal (www.tapps.org) to build an intelligence database that police and private security could draw from during the summit weekend. TAPPS members could discuss the intelligence on message boards within the secure Web site…Security and police professionals now hope to build on the lessons learned [from the G20] and realize an even greater collaboration between police and security in the future.”


What is happening on campus on Oct 20 and why should I care?
On Wednesday, October 20th, TAPPS is holding a ‘G20 Debriefing’ training seminar on the UofT campus. This session is co-hosted by the University of Toronto Campus Community Police Service and Reilly Security (one of the companies that holds a security contract with the UofT administration). In this closed session, speakers will assess police and private security cooperation during “Canada’s largest domestic security operation” and examine “challenges and provide perspective from many of the key players involved from both police and private security circles.”
In short, similar rounds of repression are being planned on our campus, behind closed doors.

The UofT community is already familiar with the consequences of ‘police and private security’ cooperation. During the G20 Summit, 75 people from Quebec, who were staying as guests at the GSU Gym, were arrested as a result of a tip provided by a Reilly Security guard working on campus. The security guard noted the presence of ‘black-clad individuals’ getting off a bus and immediately contacted the UofT ‘Incident Command Center’ and TAPPS to secure their arrest. The 75 people arrested have since been cleared of all charges, underscoring the arbitrary nature of these arrests. These arrests are part of a broader trend at UofT in which campus activists and their community allies have experienced increased harassment at the hands of private security guards and campus police.


What kind of campus are we asking for?

We are calling on the University of Toronto Administration and the provincial government to honour the University’s Purpose to commit to “vigilant protection of individual human rights,” including the “human right to radical, critical teaching and research.” We call on university administrators to respect the campus as a protected space to “raise deeply disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself.” We reject and will actively oppose all administrative sanction of an oppressive security agenda that undermines these commitments.

It’s the class struggle, stupid!; Organized labour’s confused response to the McGuinty Liberals’ attack on Ontario’s working-class

By admin, September 6, 2010 12:26 pm

http://linchpin.ca/content/Work-workplace/It%E2%80%99s-class-struggle-stupid

ott0121-city6.jpg

Organized labour’s confused response to the McGuinty Liberals’ attack on Ontario’s working-class

By Ajamu Nangwaya and Alex Diceanu

Organized labour in Ontario will continue to put forth a weak and ineffective response to attacks from the ruling class as long as it continues to ignore the reality of class struggle. A perfect example is its current response to a proposed two-year wage-freeze that the Dalton McGuinty-led Ontario government plans on imposing on unionized public sector workers. The provincial Liberals would like to save $750 million per year from a wage-freeze, so as to help manage the $19.3 billion budget deficit. Readers need not be reminded that this deficit is the result of the risky financial speculations of the captains of finance, industry and commerce that created the Great Recession of 2008.

But it is the 710,000 unionized members of the working class and 350,000 non-unionized managers and other employees who draw pay cheques from the government[1] and the users of state-provided services (and private sector workers) who are being asked to bear the burden of paying for the actions of the corporate sector. At the same time as this attempt to take income from the pockets of government workers, the McGuinty Liberals’ have granted a $4.6 billion tax-cut to the business sector.

The leader of the Ontario New Democrats, Andrea Howarth, has signaled her support for public sector workers’ acceptance of a pay cut. She asserts, “I’m quite sure when they get to the bargaining table they will do their part like everyone else does … there is a collective bargaining process that has to be respected.”[2] Wow! Who said that the working-class needs enemies with “friends” like the New Democratic Party (NDP) and its leader Andrea Horwarth?

However, it is the tame and even puzzling reaction of some of Ontario’s major labour leaders that should be of concern to workers in the public sector. The government called labour leaders and employers from the broader public sector to “consultation” talks on the wage freeze on July 19, 2010. Coming out of the talks, this was what CUPE-Ontario president Fred Hahn had to say, “This is not like the early ’90s, this is not about sharing the pain. That’s all just not true”.[3] He was referring to former NDP premier Bob Rae’s unilateral opening of public sector workers’ contracts and the imposition of public sector wage-cuts accompanied by tax increases for the corporate sector. Was Brother Hahn implying that a wage-freeze would be tolerable, if accompanied by the cancelation of the $4.6 billion corporate tax-cut?

No credible union or union leader should contemplate a zero-wage increase over two years – even if the government rescinds the $4.6 billion tax-cut. There should not have been a tax-cut for the capitalist class. Restoring the tax should not be used as a bargaining chip to escape a wage-freeze on public sector workers.

Not to be outdone was the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. We will leave it to you to decipher the implicit message in the following statement by Smokey Thomas. “Just because he [Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan] wants something doesn’t mean he’s going to get it. It’s not a social contract. He can propose (a wage-freeze) but he has to bargain it. He can’t legislate it. He’ll lose.”[4] Is it just us or does that sound like a labour leader who is not really in a fighting spirit and just wants to make a deal?

A simple matter of misguided policy?

However, the critical issue for Ontario’s public sector workers is the extent to which many of our labour leaders seem to be completely unaware of the state and employers’ motives for disciplining labour through wage concessions. Ismael Hossein-zaded of Drake University made the following observation, which is quite applicable to the posturing of labour leaders in Ontario:

Quote:

Viewing the savage class war of the ruling kleptocracy on the people’s living and working conditions simply as “bad” policy, and hoping to somehow—presumably through smart arguments and sage advice—replace it with the “good” Keynesian policy of deficit spending without a fight, without grassroots‟ involvement and/or pressure, stems from the rather naïve supposition that policy making is a simple matter of technical expertise or the benevolence of policy makers, that is, a matter of choice. The presumed choice is said to be between only two alternatives: between the stimulus or Keynesian deficit spending, on the one hand, and the Neoliberal austerity of cutting social spending, on the other.5

Based on some of the statements coming from labour leaders, they may not have gotten the memo that the attack on the working-class (through the slashing of social programme spending, attacks on private sector pensions and wage freezes) is not about good or bad economic policies. Hossein-Zedad must have been inspired to write his paper after reading the following Keynesian-inspired comment by Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan; “From a policy perspective, it makes no economic sense whatsoever. You’ve got a government saying we need to stimulate the economy. The best way of stimulating the economy is through public-sector workers who spend every single penny of their disposable income in their local communities,”[6] But it’s not about the economy, per se. It’s the class struggle, stupid!

Canada’s economic and political elite have clearly given up the ghost of Keynesian economics, which calls on government to either stimulate or restrict the demand for goods and services based on the state of the economy. In the case of the 2008 crisis in capitalism, these neoliberal players felt forced by the magnitude of the impending financial collapse to pump money into the economy. A not-too-insignificant fact was lost on many observers and commentators who gleefully cheered on the capitalist class’ “Road-to-Damascus” moment. The capitalist state in Canada and other imperialist countries will do everything within their power to maintain a business environment that facilitates the accumulation of capital or profit-making, as well as legitimize the system in the eyes of the people. That is all in a day’s work for the state…no surprise here for class conscious trade unionists and other activists!

Labour’s “Response”

We ought to note that the recent crisis in the economy caught organized labour off-guard and ill-prepared to mobilize the working-class against that monumental failure of capitalism. For decades, Western corporations and governments have been force-feeding the public a steady diet of tax-cuts. Lower taxes on businesses, high-income earners and the wealthy, the widespread slashing of social services and income support programmes, a massive reduction in state oversight and regulation of corporations and the enactment of anti-union policies and legislation have been the all rage since corproations and Western governments abandoned their class-collaborationist pact with organized labour in the 1970s. Yet at the very moment when capitalism experienced a crisis of confidence resulting from a set of policies that had been hailed as perfect ingredients for economic and social progress, organized labour was caught with its pants down. Its leaders didn’t have a class struggle alternative to Keynesian economics – an economic tendency that was never intended to be used as a tool to end wage slavery and the minority rule of bankers, industrialists and the managerial and political elite.

Presently, the labour movement is ideologically and operationally ill-prepared to effectively face down the two-year wage-freeze demand from the McGuinty Liberals. Unfortunately, labour’s leaders have, in the main, focused on narrow economic demands rather than seeking to politically develop union activists and their broader membership behind a class struggle labour movement platform. Union members have been politically deskilled and demobilized in favour of a social service model of trade unionism. These labour leaders have failed to use their unions’ courses, workshops, week-long schools, publications and other educational resources to educate members of the fact that they are a part of a distinct class with economic and political interests that are different from that of the rulers of capitalist society.

Even the most casual of observers understand that organized labour’s raison d’être is to champion the material concerns of the working-class. And yet, ideologically-speaking, most labour leaders in Canada have cast their lot in with capitalism – albeit a more Scandinavian version. This is why a coherent critique of capitalism is notably absent from most union-organized workshops and events. It should therefore not come as a surprise that many union members have swallowed the employers and politicians’ message that Canada is a largely middle-class country and that our collective aspiration should be to remain a member of this class. If the labour leaders, academics and the media say that the majority of Canadians are a part of the middle-class, it must be so. The development of a working-class consciousness becomes very difficult (but not impossible) in this kind of political environment.

The great majority of Canadians are members of the working-class. They sell their labour, exercise little to no control over how their work-life is organized, have no say over how the profit from their labour is distributed and are so alienated from work that the aphorism “Thank god it’s Friday” has its own acronym. One should never define middle-class status as one’s ability to purchase consumer trinkets, live in a mortgaged home or even own a summer cottage. Middle-class status ought to be defined by one’s exercise of power and control and/or the possession of high levels of human capital found among administrative/managerial elites in the private and public sectors, academic elites and independent professionals.

Labour’s Credibility Crisis

The narrow economic obsession of labour leaders was on plain display when Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan revealed the March 2010 Budget. When it became known that the McGuinty Liberals would be seeking a two-year wage-freeze from public sector workers, this news was all that consumed the attention of most labour leaders. Many labour functionaries scrambled around in search of external and internal legal opinions, requesting briefs from senior staff on the impact of a wage-freeze on bargaining in specific sectors and sending out correspondence to members assuring them to “just act as if nothing had happened”, because they’re “already covered by a collective agreement”. Many labour union offices’ and unionized workplaces’ anxiety was centred entirely on the desired wage-freeze by the McGuinty Liberals. Nothing else!

But today we hear labour leaders talking about keeping money in workers’ pockets to stimulate the economy and that their primary concern is maintaining public services at adequate levels. Why didn’t organized labour deploy its resources to educate and mobilize the public against the $4.6 billion corporate tax-cuts, slashing of $4 billion in transportation infrastructure spending from Metrolinx’s $9.3 billion budget7] and the scrapping of the special diet allowance that benefitted over 160,000 members of the working-class for the unprincely sum of $250 million per annum and a mere monthly average of $130 per person[8]? The provincial government anticipates that the two-year wage-freeze across the public sector will net a savings of $1.5 billion – yet the previous $8.6 billion effectively stolen from the working class failed to push organized labour into action.

The leaders of organized labour did not have the imagination to energize their members and the broader citizenry in alliance with other social movement organizations over the Budget. They could have exposed the class priorities of the McGuinty Liberals. The government’s main concerns clearly have nothing to do with those of us who are poor, live from pay cheque to pay cheque and do not patronize the golf courses where McGuinty and his friends hang out when they are not screwing the public. Listen up public sector labour leaders: the people will not be fooled by your claims to be advocating for the general interest. The broader working-class just have to simply see where you direct the labour movement’s resources and they will clue into the issues that are being prioritized. Take a look at the poor, working-class and/or racialized areas that are likely to be affected by the $4 billion cut to Metrolinx’s budget:

Quote:

…the austerity moves could affect five planned projects: rapid transit lines for Finch Ave. W., Sheppard Ave. E. and the Scarborough RT, along with the Eglinton Ave. cross-town line and an expansion of York region’s Viva service.[9]

Are we to believe that a class-struggle and anti-oppression informed public education, organizing and mobilization campaign in defense of public services, the social wage and a livable wage would not have had some level of traction with the people of Ontario?

An alternative economic plan or a different labour movement?

In some quarters of the trade union sector, there are talks of presenting an alternative plan to the slash-and-burn neoliberal policies of the provincial government. But, the presentation of Keynesian economic proposals by labour leaders is useless in a climate where the ruling class doesn’t feel threatened by a politically mobilized population, especially without “compelling grassroots pressure on policy makers”.[10] We implied earlier that labour unions have a credibility gap with the broader public if they now assert a desire to “broaden the debate, educate community members and local politicians with a view to engaging in actions that protect public services and build strong communities” as outlined by one union. What would be the purpose of the alternative plans of these labour leaders? The status quo of the 1930s to the 1960s that gave rise to the welfare state is not a transformative option.

There is no such thing as a “contextless” context. Where is the necessary political environment that would force the state to make concessions to the working-class out of fear that they maybe inclined to embrace revolutionary options? When some labour leaders are loosely talking about coming up with an alternative (Keynesian economic plan?) stimulus proposal, they would do well to understand the political implications of the following statement:

Quote:

Keynesian economists seem to be unmindful of this fundamental relationship between economics and politics. Instead, they view economic policies as the outcome of the battle of ideas, not of class forces or interests. And herein lies one of the principal weaknesses of their argument: viewing the Keynesian/New Deal/Social Democratic reforms of the 1930s through the 1960s as the product of Keynes’ or F.D.R.’s genius, or the goodness of their hearts; not of the compelling pressure exerted by the revolutionary movements of that period on the national policy makers to “implement reform in order to prevent revolution,” as F.D.R. famously put it. This explains why economic policy makers of today are not listening to Keynesian arguments—powerful and elegant as they are—because there would be no Keynesian, New Deal, or Social-Democratic economics without revolutionary pressure from the people.[11]

However, when labour leaders shy away from speaking openly about class-struggle and the nature of our economic system, we have a serious problem. It means that they are not in a position to facilitate a class-struggle, democracy-from-below and self-organizing form of trade unionism.

In order fight this attack on the working-class of Ontario, the labour movements’ rank-and-file activists, progressive leaders and principled labour socialists must engage in shop-floor education, organizing and mobilizing that is centred on a class-struggle, anti-racist and anti-oppression campaign. This approach to labour activism must be done in alliance with progressive or radical social movement organizations among women, racialized peoples, indigenous peoples, youth, students, LGBT community, climate/environmental justice, independent and revolutionary labour organizations, anti-authoritarian formations, and radical intellectuals. It must be an alliance based on mutual respect, sharing of approaches to emancipation and resources and a commitment to the value that the oppressed are the architect of and the driving force behind the movement for their emancipation. It is essential that organized labour open up and transform its leadership and decision-making structures to accommodate the full inclusion of its membership, in all their diversity.

In most of our unions and locals, this means starting from the beginning and we can use this current crisis to take those first steps. There is a lot of frustration among union members and community activists over the inaction of labour’s leadership in the face of this attack – and a desire to do something about it. That frustration and desire can be channeled into building cross-union “fight back committees” that bring together trade union and community activists in a city or town, such as members of the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly have already begun to do in that city. The “fight back committees” can give us a capacity to act independently from organized labour’s leadership. And probably our first acts should be to organize general assemblies in our locals and town hall meetings in our communities to promote a working-class view of the economic crisis and to mobilize our fellow workers and neighbours around militant, grassroots resistance to the McGuinty government and all the forces promoting a new round of austerity for the working-class.

Nothing less than a self-organizing, class-struggle approach to trade unionism will put labour in a position to fight in the here-and-now, while building the road we must travel on our way to the classless and stateless society of the future.

Alex Diceanu is a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3906 and a graduate student at McMaster University. Ajamu Nangwaya is a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Locals 3907 and 3902 and a graduate student at the University of Toronto. Both authors are members of the Ontario anarchist organization, Common Cause.

________________________________________
[1] Walkom, T. (2010, March 26). Liberals aim at easy targets. Toronto Star. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/ontariobudget/article/785616–walkom…
[2] Brennan, R. J. & Talaga, T. (2010, March 26) Hudak cut wages deeper. Toronto Star. Retrieved fromhttp://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/ontariobudget/article/785343–hudak-cut-wages-deeper
[3] Benzie, R. (2010, July 20). Dwight Duncan’s wage-freeze pitch gets frosty reception. Toronto Star. Retrieved fromhttp://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/837872–dwight-duncan-s-wage-freeze-pitch-gets-frosty-reception
[4] Benzie, July 20
[5] Hossein-zaded, I. (2010, July 23-25). Holes in the Keynesian Arguments against Neoliberal Austerity Policy—Not “Bad” Policy, But Class Policy. Retrieved from http://www.counterpunch.org/zadeh07232010.html
[6] Benzie, July 20.
[7] Hume, C. (2010, March 29). Transit still not a priority. Toronto Star. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/ttc/article/787317–transit-still-not-a-…
[8] The Canadian Press. (2010 April 1). Ontario asked to restore special diet allowance. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2010/04/01/diet-allowance.html
9] Goddard, J., Rider, D. & Kalinoski, (2010, March 26). Miller outraged as budget sideswiped GTA transit. Toronto Star. Retrieved fromhttp://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/785573–miller-outraged-as-budget-sideswipes-gta-transit
[10] Hossein-zaded, I, Holes in the Keynesian arguments against neoliberal austerity policy.
[11] ibid

Toronto Star Editorial: ‘Caribana lives despite Ottawa’

By admin, July 27, 2010 11:12 am

ttp://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/840493–caribana-lives-despite-ottawa

Published On Tue Jul 27 2010

The music competitions, parties and cultural events that give residents and tourists alike a taste of Toronto’s spicy Caribbean flavour are already well underway. Caribana festivities culminate with the signature events later this week: Thursday’s King and Queen Show, Friday’s Pan Alive steelpan competition, and Saturday’s Scotiabank Caribana Parade, which glitters and sways along the waterfront.

We’ve long known that Caribana richly contributes to summer fun. But an independent study of last year’s festival determined that in attracting 1.2 million people (300,000 from out of country) and injecting nearly $440 million into Ontario, it contributes significantly to our economy as well.

That makes it doubly unfortunate that, after several years of relative financial and organizational stability, the festival is in difficulty again –_in part thanks to Ottawa’s decision to withhold more than $400,000 in funding that was provided last year. “Other than year one, this has been the toughest year,” says Caribana Chair Joe Halstead, who took over in 2006 to revive the festival and put it on solid financial ground.

That is saying something. Many things have changed in Caribana’s 43 years: the sounds of hip-hop now blend into the traditional mix of soca and calypso, for one. But financial challenges have always plagued this festival. Some years they have been minor; in other years they have threatened to put an end to the welcome scent of jerk chicken, strains of steelpan and colourful masqueraders.

This year, with staff taking a 30 per cent pay cut, the organizers vow their financial difficulties will be as hidden as possible for the revelers — a smaller stage here, fewer big-name acts there. That they’ll rise to this challenge is not in doubt. What is dubious is the political decision in Ottawa that made the belt-tightening necessary.

It makes little sense that Caribana was denied funding under Ottawa’s Marquee Tourism Events Program, a two-year stimulus initiative designed to boost events that draw in tourists – the very thing Caribana has proven it does best.

Explanations from Industry Minister Tony Clement’s office have ranged from claims that 2010 funding would focus on smaller events to a need for more “regional balance.”

Neither explanation holds up to scrutiny. Funding was yanked from Caribana and Gay Pride, two major Toronto events. But the Calgary Stampede and the Montreal Jazz Festival are also major events, and they are receiving $1 million and $3 million respectively in federal funding. As for regional balance, the big recipients outside of Toronto remain largely unchanged.

When Caribana began in 1967, it was to celebrate black and Caribbean culture during Canada’s centennial. It has grown to become the biggest Caribbean festival in North America and a crown jewel of this city’s tourist attractions.

Caribana showcases all that is good about Toronto: diversity, community spirit, great food and music. It is too bad that Ottawa does not see this as something worth supporting.

Toronto Star: ‘Caribana a victim of cultural racism?’

By admin, July 26, 2010 12:49 pm

Re: Caribana to dazzle, on a budget, July 19

It is very unsettling, yet not unexpected, that Caribana is being treated like a cultural outsider and a barbarian at the gate by the different levels of government. Why is it that the largest festival in this country with the greatest economic impact is being treated as the cultural Cinderella within the family of Canadian festivals?

The Calgary Stampede is normally regarded as the largest “Canadian” festival, but its economic impact is merely $173 million versus the $438 million generated by Caribana over a two-week period. It is difficult for a reasonable person to not see race and culture mediating how government funding is distributing grants to certain cultural projects.

While the federal government’s Marquee Tourism Events Program gave the Calgary Stampede, Carnaval de Quebec, and Stratford Shakespeare Festival $1,001,625, $1,449,435 and $3 million in grant funding, respectively, Caribana didn’t get a penny in 2010.

The Celebrate Ontario fund obviously does not count Caribana as a true reflection of the cultural fabric of this province. Why would this provincial funding program give $300,000 each to the Hot Docs, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival, Pride Toronto/Pride Week, Toronto International Film Festival, Luminato and Rogers Cup initiatives this year, but zilch to the best economic performer in this country?

Is Caribana a victim of cultural racism? This festival is obviously being treated differently and I cannot see any rational reason for the difference in funding when compared with festivals that are seem as a part of the white mainstream or cultural alternative scene.

Caribana is making tons of cash for the government and private business, while the creators of this festival are subsidizing it with their volunteer labour, intellect and creativity.

Ajamu Nangwaya, Toronto

Resist, Educate, Mobilize & Organize against Police Racial Profiling

By admin, July 9, 2010 12:31 pm

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One-year After June 28, 2009 Coup d’État in Honduras National Popular Resistance Continues Undiminished

By admin, June 25, 2010 5:48 pm

LATIN AMERICAN SOLIDARITY NETWORK

lasolidaritynetwork@gmail.com www.rlasn.com



One-year After June 28, 2009 Coup d’État in Honduras

National Popular Resistance Continues Undiminished

A year ago, on June 28th 2009, a U.S. backed military-oligarchic coup was perpetrated against Manuel Zelaya, the democratically-elected President of Honduras.  This coup established a reign of state-sponsored terrorism and persecution and it played a key role in the regional plan being promoted by the U.S., Canada and business elites, of attempting to halt the advances of Latin American countries in their legitimate aspiration for sovereignty, participatory democracy and addressing social inequities.

President Zelaya became a target after trying to modestly improve the conditions of Honduras’ impoverished majority (60% of 8 million who live below the poverty line), by increasing the country’s minimum wage by 60% from US $175 (until then, the lowest in the region) to $275 monthly, despite strong opposition from the country’s business elites and multinational companies.

Zelaya was also punished for strengthening south-south regional ties by integrating Honduras in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) in 2008 and in the Petrocaribe energy alliance in 2007, both championed by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. He also supported the drafting of a new mining law that would have prevented new gold mines that use cyanide, from carrying out operations in Honduras and he was working on replacing the notorious Palmerola air base—which was used by the U.S. in the 1980’s as a launching pad to wage proxy wars on Central America— with a commercial airport.

Since the June 2009 coup, all progressive measures implemented by Zelaya have been reversed, the Palmerola air base has been reinstated for military purposes and a new military base has been established on the Honduran northern coast within reach of Nicaragua.

On November 29, 2009, while deposed president Zelaya was being held captive in the Brazilian Embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, Porfirio Lobo Sosa was brought to the presidency by sham general elections held by the coup regime, which were viewed widely as illegitimate throughout the international community and by a majority of Latin American countries due to the fact that they were carried out in an environment of deep militarization and heavy repression against the national resistance movement that opposed the coup.

The Lobo government was inaugurated on January 27, 2010 and it remains unrecognized by the Organization of American States (OAS) and by the United Nations.  However, both Canada and the U.S. are actively promoting Honduras’ reintegration into the OAS and its full recognition by the international community. To date, unfortunately, all Central American countries (with the exception of Nicaragua) have recognized the Lobo regime and Colombia and Peru have done the same in South America, while the influential governments of Brazil and Argentina are still refusing to do so.

The day after Lobo’s inauguration, Canada’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Peter Kent, announced: “As Hondurans begin this new chapter in their history, Canada stands ready to assist with the challenges that lie ahead. As we have throughout the impasse, Canada will continue to do all it can to help Honduras quickly return to full democratic and constitutional order. Once that has been achieved, we will also support President Lobo’s efforts as he moves to fully reintegrate Honduras into the international and hemispheric community, including in the Organization of American States.” On February 24, 2010, shortly after Minister Kent’s last visit to Honduras and only a day after the release of his press communiqué exalting the successes of the Lobo regime, Claudia Brizuela Rodriguez, the daughter of a prominent radio journalist and anti-coup activist was shot in the face in front of her children after opening the front door to her home.

There is no doubt that Canada’s priority in Honduras—as elsewhere in the region—is not to uphold human rights or democratic rule, but to promote corporate investment and business interests. In Honduras, Canadian investors have injected more than $400 million, mostly in mining and maquila (assembly plant) textile industries.

The violence unleashed in Honduras since June 2009 and under the Lobo regime has been widespread, targeting mainly activists advocating for deep social reforms:

►  708 human rights violations, including 54 murders, between June and December 20091.

►  Honduras was the third worst place (after Colombia and Guatemala) in terms of trade union rights violations with 12 unionists murdered.2

►  Thus far in 2010, seven journalists have been murdered making Honduras one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.3

►  A total of 160 cases of human rights violations that appear to be politically motivated—including illegal detentions, sexual assaults, politically-motivated murders, torture, kidnappings, internal displacement due to threats, among other violations.4

►  48 documented assassinations of anti-coup Resistance members since the coup, with 15 having occurred since the inauguration of much-disputed President Lobo.5

►  A death threat on May 20th, 2010, received by Carlos H. Reyes, a former candidate for Honduran presidency, member of the Coordinating Committee of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) and president of the Labour Union of the Soft Drink Industry.

A year into the historic struggle against the military-oligarchic coup in Honduras:

►  The Latin American Solidarity Network-LASN (Toronto) condemns the Harper Canadian government’s proactive role in attempting to legitimize the Honduran coup— not only by ignoring the mounting evidence of human rights violations— but by advocating at the OAS and internationally, for the full recognition of the illegitimate Lobo regime which was the coup’s successor.

►  LASN expresses its solidarity with the broad-based National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) —comprised of teachers, students, environmental organizations, labour unions, feminists, Indigenous and Garifuna groups— in its unwavering struggle against Lobo’s illegitimate government and for genuine democratic and social reforms.

►  LASN also expresses its support for the FNRP’s nation-wide petition and mobilization campaign that will culminate on June 28, 2010 (exactly one-year after the coup), demanding a national referendum to establish a Constituent Assembly.

Latin American Solidarity Network-LASN (Toronto) Coordinating Committee

Toronto, Canada—June 25, 2010.



1Source:  Committee of Family Members of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH).

2Source:  International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) 2010 survey of trade union rights violations around the world.

3Source:  Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

4Source:  Report titled, “First Thirty Days of the Porfirio Lobo Government” published on February 28, 2010 by COFADEH.

5Source:  Human rights groups in Honduras.

LONDON ACTIVISTS TARGET OF POLICE INTIMIDATION

By admin, June 22, 2010 11:23 pm

June 22, 2010

For Immediate Release:
———————————————–

LONDON ACTIVISTS TARGET OF POLICE INTIMIDATION

The recent arrests of two London activists for “promoting disturbance” represent yet another dramatic escalation in the Canadian state’s ongoing attempts to criminalize dissent.

We denounce these arrests as the shameful police intimidation tactics they are, and declare our solidarity with the two individuals arrested – including our organization’s youngest member, Andrew Cadotte.

It is clear that politicians and police officers in this country are more than willing to bend the rules to try and intimidate those seeking to challenge the continued domination of the poor by the rich.

By referring to postering as “property destruction”, the police are attempting to build a psychological connection between lawful dissent and violence where no such connection exists.

The police cited the “negative message” of the posters as grounds for holding these individuals overnight in jail. But the true “negative messages” plastered around the city are in the sexist advertisements that promote women as emotionless commodities, and on the countless billboards that sell apathetic consumerism as a way of life.

Public space should belong to the community, not to corporations, and should be a space where we can freely express our ideas as part of the democratic process. This freedom must be regularly exercised and vigorously defended, or else it will be trampled on by the repressive nature of the state.

This is why several of our members joined with the direct action on Thursday, June 17th that covered our city’s downtown core with the very posters our comrades were arrested for putting up two nights earlier.

As anarchists and social justice activists, we have every intention to continue “promoting disturbance” of the capitalist status quo, guided by our undying commitment to international class struggle and, ultimately, revolution.

Common Cause – London

Common Cause is an anarchist organization with branches in London, Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa.


Common Cause
P.O. Box 347, Station E
772 Dovercourt Rd.
Toronto, ON, Canada,
M6H 4E3

Email: commoncauseontario@gmail.com
Web: http://linchpin.ca
Online Forum: http://anarchistblackcat.org/viewforum.php?f=61

WORKING-CLASS PEOPLE UNITE ON INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY!

By admin, April 8, 2010 9:52 am

WORKING-CLASS PEOPLE UNITE ON INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY!

Statement of the May 1st Movement (M1M) Coalition in preparation for May Day 2010 in Toronto.

On Saturday, May 1, 2010, rally, march, and celebrate May Day with the May 1st Movement (M1M), as we organize ourselves to strengthen the unity and solidarity of working people in Toronto.

1:00pm Rally
CUPE 4400 – Bathurst / St. Clair (rear parking lot)

1:30pm March
Up Vaughan Rd. / Down Oakwood / East on St. Clair to Wychwood Barns

3:00pm Cultural Event
Wychwood Barns – 601 Christie St. (Christie south of St. Clair)

For well over 100 years, May Day – or May 1st – has been the day of resistance and celebration for workers all throughout the world.  It is a day when workers quit their slaving away and pour into the streets to demonstrate the power of unity.  In many cases, May Day has been a launching point for massive working-class fight-backs.

While May Day was born out of Chicago after the 1886 Haymarket Massacre of workers by the police, us workers in North America have been denied this tradition by having our ‘Labour Day’ pushed into September, diverting our class from celebrating and struggling with the international working class.

With the deepening of the world economic crisis combined with the destruction of the environment by capitalism, the unity and leadership of working class people is needed now more than ever before.

Every day, fresh attacks are being made against working people in Canada – the unionized and non-unionized, migrant workers and the undocumented.  “Neoliberal” capitalism is launching attacks on every section of the working-class to keep profits up – cuts to social expenditures, pension raids, attacks on wages, corporate tax cuts; and this system offers no alternative to the relentless destruction of the environment.

The May 1st Movement declares that our struggles as working class migrants and the children of working class migrants – with or without status – requires a unity with the rest of the working class in Canada. We also declare our support for the indigenous peoples and nations fighting to exercise their right to self-determination over their lands being occupied and plundered by the Canadian state, extractive industries, and “developers”.

Finally, the struggle of migrants does not stop at attaining full recognition as Canadian citizens.  As Tamil Canadians demonstrated heroically throughout 2009 with cross-country mobilizations of hundreds of thousands, migrants and new Canadians cannot stand by while unconscionable acts of terror and genocide are carried out against our families and peoples, especially when these crimes are supported by the Canadian government.

As part of our international duty, we call on all conscientious working class people and progressive Canadians to realize their material interests in fighting for the:
Immediate withdrawal of all foreign-based Canadian military and police personnel, especially in Afghanistan and Haiti;
Halting of Canadian government funding to oppressive governments especially those in Sri Lanka, Honduras, Israel, the Philippines, and Colombia;
Non-interference in sovereign nations and the right of all nations to choose their own representatives;
The decriminalization of national liberation movements, organizations, and individuals associated with them, as the right to national self-determination is an internationally recognized right; and
The scrapping of all “free-trade” agreements that are harming workers all throughout the world to the benefit of capital.

In this time of crisis, M1M calls on all working class people to step up their level of organization and agitation in their neighbourhoods, workplaces, schools, community centers, religious institutions, and anywhere else where we can begin to unite working class and progressive people.

On Saturday, May 1, 2010, rally, march, and celebrate May Day with the May 1st Movement (M1M), as we organize ourselves to strengthen the unity and solidarity of working people in Toronto.

1:00pm Rally
CUPE 4400 – Bathurst / St. Clair (rear parking lot)

1:30pm March
Up Vaughan Rd. / Down Oakwood / East on St. Clair to Wychwood Barns

3:00pm Cultural Event
Wychwood Barns – 601 Christie St. (Christie south of St. Clair)
DEFEND THE RIGHTS AND GAINS OF ALL WORKING PEOPLE!
DEFEND THE RIGHT TO STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION!
LET MAY DAY BE A RALLYING CALL FOR ALL WORKERS AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE IN CANADA!

For more information visit: www.basicsnews.ca

The May 1st Movement (M1M) is a coalition of working class organizations and progressive allies, with representation from various sectors, including organized labour, youth, media, women, human rights, migrant and various ethnic communities.

Participants of the Coalition:

Barrio Nuevo
Migrante-Ontario
Bayan Canada
Canadian Humanitarian Appeal for the Relief of Tamils
BASICS Free Community Newsletter
Progressive Nepali Forum of the Americas
Victor Jara Cultural Group
CASA Salvador Allende
Migrant Women’s Coordinating Body
Tamil Youth Organization
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1000A
Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) – Toronto
Canada-El Salvador Action Network (CELSAN)

CUPE Ontario Provincial Budget Update

By admin, April 1, 2010 4:41 pm

Ontario Provincial Budget Update

budget bulletin FINAL FOR REAL THIS TIME OUWCC/CUPE  Repsonse to the Budget

April 1, 2010

Open Letter To CUPE Ontario Members

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On Saturday, I’ll be appearing on Global TV’s Focus Ontario (6:30 pm) in a discussion about the new provincial budget.  This is just one part of the work we’re doing to respond to this budget.

Last night, we convened an historic conference call of the CUPE Ontario Executive Board, the Ontario Regional Director and Assistant Regional Directors, the Sector coordinators, CUPE National researchers and CUPE legal staff to ensure our entire organization was working together on the challenges this provincial budget poses for our members.

By any objective analysis, the Ontario Liberal government’s recent budget was unfair.
It was unfair that it attempted to demonize public sector workers and their wages while providing billions of dollars of tax cuts to corporations.
It was unfair that it failed to provide adequate funding for health care that will result in continued job loss and cuts to services our families desperately need.

It was unfair that it cut a program that allowed Ontarians on Social Assistance to buy food necessary to deal with specific medical conditions, cutting the $200 a month they needed and replacing it with a paltry $6 a month overall increase.

Wage Freeze

Given the massive media attention, there have been a lot of questions about the wage freeze and what they mean for our members.

Here are the basic facts:

  1. Workers with Collective Agreements are not covered by this legislation.  This means CUPE members are NOT covered by this law.
  2. Collective Agreements that are in place today with wage increases for this year, next and so on, will be funded by the government.  No Local should agree to open up their current Collective Agreements under any circumstances.  If you have any questions regarding this, please contact your CUPE National Representative.
  3. Locals going into bargaining will bargain as they always have, going to the table and negotiating the best Collective Agreement possible for our members.

There is no question that the next round of bargaining will be difficult and we will need to be coordinated as never before.  Though the government stopped short of legislation, it has indicated in its budget that it won’t fund future, negotiated wage increases.  For many of us, this is not new and we’ve bargained improvements for our members even when our employers have cried there was no money.

What we do have to do is ensure that we are talking early, and often, to our communities about the valuable public services we provide.

We will not allow anyone to try and brand our members as greedy simply because we want to make a living wage – a living wage that we spend in our local communities, raising our children, looking after our parents and contributing to our local economies.

We need to build support for public services and hold the provincial government accountable for real and fair economic solutions for Ontario.

We know that building coalitions with members of our communities, harnessing the resources of all parts of our union and working together can affect real and positive change.  We saw that in this provincial budget with the announcement of $63.5 million annual funding for child care to replace dollars cut by the Federal Harper government.

This added and needed funding was the direct result of CUPE Ontario, working with CUPE Locals and CUPE National, and community coalition partners to secure the funding needed for this valuable, public service.

We need to take the lessons from this victory and the many we’ve had before and apply them to the challenges raised by this unfair budget.

This is only one of the first of many communications you will be receiving on this matter.  All of our sectoral committees are working together to keep you informed and CUPE Ontario and CUPE National are working together to ensure our members receive the assistance they need.  Only by working together can we best weather the challenges before us.

There will be much more discussion about this issue at the CUPE Ontario Convention in May. I hope to have the chance to see you there and hope you’ll tune into Focus Ontario on Saturday night.

In Solidarity,

Fred Hahn, President
CUPE Ontario

Budget 2010 – CUPE Ontario Press Release

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