By admin, July 29, 2010 4:12 pm

Graduate Assistantships are remuneration for graduate students who are engaged in research and/or field development oriented projects contributing to their academic and professional development. Gas are unionized positions represented by CUPE 3907 (Rm 8-104). At OISE there are 45 GA awards available during the September-April academic year to students outside of the Graduate Funded cohort. Only some of these positions are open to new applicants in any given year. A GA pays $11,526 for 2 terms (approximately 10 hours per week – 113-133 hours per term). Each student also receives $250 ($550 for international students) per year in lieu of benefits. In addition, international students with dependents may obtain an additional $150 if they provide proof of dependents. Documented proof needs to be provided to Wendy Mauzeroll in the Dean’s Office. This lump sum payment is paid out annually with the first payment of the student’s GA and is awarded once only during the period May to April.

Masters students are eligible to hold a GA in the first 2 years of their program with the exception of the two 2-year MA programs (Institute of Child Studies MA and MT).  Students in the 2-year Masters program are eligible to hold a GA in the first 3 years of their program. Doctoral students are eligible to hold a GA in the first 5 years of their program. A GA, once awarded, will be renewed automatically up to the 4th year. Students must apply for the 5th year. Flex-time PHD candidates are eligible to be considered for a Graduate Assistantship once during their program providing they can provide required documentation as outlined in Article 14:00 of the CUPE3907 Collective Agreement.  This documentation must be provided with the submission of the GA application.  A Graduate Assistantship, Summer Graduate Assistantship, or R&D Graduate Assistantship are all part of the same union and the limit of one position encompasses all three types of Gas.

Duties may vary throughout the year, but could included the following:

  1. Reviewing literature and document analysis: Students will assists in conducting and/or compiling relevant literature on a specified topic or subject area. They may also be tasked with composing a final report or literature review
  2. Research Protocol Development: may consist in generating protocols for research, interview/survey questions etc.
  3. Analyzing data: May include transcription, coding and preparing data
  4. Data collection: this may include fieldwork such as video and/or audio-recorded interviews. GA’s may also be required to travel within the GTA to various research sites to administer interviews and/or survey
  5. Data Management: The GA may also organize new research files based on the themes and potential new data to be collected
  6. Funding Application: The GA may help to prepare for a SSHRC Standard Research Grant and other applications for other funding sources
  7. Presentation at conferences, seminars or workshops: This may include the possibility of co-presenting and publishing a paper in a refereed journal with the GA supervision

PLEASE NOTE: The list of duties are not exhaustive however, graduate assistantships should not be purely administrative (that is filing, faxing, photocopying etc.) in nature.

Partners In Health Testifies in Washington, July 27 2010

By admin, July 27, 2010 5:37 pm

Read this report on the CHAN website at: http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/node/498

WASHINGTON DC–Today, Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health and Chair of the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Loune Viaud, Director of Operations and Strategic Planning of Zanmi Lasante (ZL), the Haitian sister organization of Partners In Health, testified at a Capitol Hill hearing hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus, “Focus on Haiti: The Road to Recovery – A Six Month Review.”

Below is the text of their testimony. You can also read the testimonies by downloading each one as a Pdf:

Pdf of Paul Farmer testimony

Pdf of Loune Viaud testimony:

Testimony of Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer: Co-founder of PIH, Chair of the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti at the United Nations

1. Acute-on-chronic

The six-month anniversary of the earthquake, which many Haitians have taken to calling, simply, “the catastrophe,” will cause soul-searching in some circles, grim determination in others, and bitter recriminations from still other quarters. I will not contribute here to these veins of commentary, although we all know they’re important and inevitable. Instead I will use my time to comment on a few large but soluble problems now before us and to make two distinct and complementary recommendations. Indeed, most of these problems have long faced all those of good will who seek to stand in solidarity with the Haitian people, which is why, as physicians, we know that what happened on January 12th is aptly described as an “acute-on-chronic” event.

Though by some reports and some “macro” indicators there had been slow improvements in Haiti in the year prior to the quake, the problems we’re struggling with today are longstanding, if much aggravated by the worst natural disaster to befall the world in recent centuries. Whether we look at health, education, potable water, or safe, affordable housing, we can draw similar conclusions: first, great weakness in the public sector makes it exceedingly difficult to deliver basic services at significant scale; second, not enough of the pledged earthquake relief has reached those in greatest need.

Although Haitians are rightly tired of having their country labeled “the poorest in the western hemisphere,” it is nonetheless true that the country has poor health indicators, was a few years ago deemed the most water-insecure nation in the Americas, has low levels of literacy, and now, with up to 1.6 million in IDP camps, has enormous, almost overwhelming, housing instability. Into the breach have come a large number of well-intentioned NGOs, which have sought, with some local success, to provide basic health and educational services, and, on an even smaller level, access to potable water and improved housing. I am myself from this sector, since I’ve been a life-long NGO volunteer and work for a U.S. medical school as a teacher and clinician. But I would like to argue here that my own earnest engagement in this arena has taught me that one of the primary tasks of development assistance, including that delivered by NGOs, must be to strengthen Haitian public-sector capacity, especially in the arenas of health, education, water, and housing—which some refer to as basic social and economic rights. Our historical failure to do so is one of the primary reasons that trying to help the public sector now is like trying to transfuse whole blood through a small-gauge needle or, in popular parlance, to drink from a fire hose.

Why the public sector? Before answering, I’m not suggesting here that NGOs and the private sector are not part of the solution; far from it. But there is a pragmatic and humble point to be made here: the profusion of NGOs—and some have estimated that Haiti, a veritable Republic of NGOs, has more of them per capita than any other country in the world—has not led to adequate progress in provision of basic services to all who need them nor to a functioning safety net for the poorest. Case in point: over 85% of primary and secondary education in Haiti is private, and Haiti is, as mentioned, plagued by illiteracy; over 500,000 school-age children were not in school prior to the earthquake.

There are transient ironies, too. Sometimes bursts of attention can improve a terrible situation; some blood does get through the too-small needle. Take water insecurity: by some reports, it has lessened since the earthquake led many groups to focus on bringing clean water to the displaced. One survey in Port-au-Prince suggested that diarrheal diseases had by last month dropped 12% below the pre-earthquake level. But is the massive importation of bottled water readily sustained? Is it the way to improve water security for all?

There is also a more philosophical point behind a plea for attention to the public sector: How can there be public health and public education without a stronger government at the national and local levels?

2. Why?

I have argued that the quake dramatically worsened a bad situation. I could focus on statistics, noting that some 17-20% of federal employees were killed or injured in the quake, or that 27 of 28 federal buildings were destroyed. And I would note that few public personnel were able to perform well within the buildings prior to the earthquake. Some of the best doctors and nurses I know are struggling to perform in the public sector without the tools of our trade—diagnostics and medications, for example, but also anything approaching adequate salaries. In a hearing like this one, it is important to ask why this is so, and I have previously done so before both houses of our Congress. It is not a pretty story, for the decline of Haiti’s already feeble civil service is tightly tied, and has been for a century, to internecine strife but also to U.S. policies. Other powerful countries have played unhelpful roles, too.

Let me take only the last decade. Beginning in 2000, the U.S. administration sought, often quietly, to block bilateral and multilateral aid to Haiti, having an objection to the policies and views of the administration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, elected by over 90% of the vote at about the same time a new U.S. president was chosen in a far more contested election. How much influence we had on other players is unclear, but it seems that there was a great deal of it with certain international financial agencies, with France and Canada; our own aid, certainly, went directly to NGOs, and not to the government. Public health and public education faltered, as did other services of special importance to the poor. I noted in a book written in those years that the budget of the Republic of Haiti, nine million strong, wasn’t much different from that of the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, with 100,000 citizens; neither amounted to a quarter of the budget of the Harvard teaching hospital, a single one, in which I trained and now work.

Without resources, it was difficult for public providers to provide; many left to work in NGOs, which did not have a mandate to serve all citizens, and others left the country altogether. Choking off assistance for development and for the provision of basic services also choked off oxygen to the government, which was the intention all along: to dislodge the Aristide administration.

But the coup, simply denied as such by some in the so-called international community, did not really take. The U.S.-selected caretaker government was unpopular, unrest continued to grow, and Port-au-Prince became the kidnapping capital of the world in spite of a very large U.N. presence. Again, the so-called forces of order, the police, were weak or corrupt—as pale a reflection of what the force should have been as were public health and public education.

Some efforts to reverse this ruinous policy of squeezing the public sector, which was often and correctly denounced by Congresswomen Lee and Waters and many other members of the CBC, have been palpable over the past year, although progress has been slow. And then came the earthquake, which further decreased the capacity of the public sector to provide meaningful services, leaving once again a growing number of NGOs and other non-state providers to fill the breach. Allow me to give two more data points: on January 27th, it was noted in the Washington Post that less than 1% of all U.S. quake aid was going to the Haitian government. (Almost as much went, even, to the Dominican government.) My colleagues at the U.N. are tracking these numbers, and also pledges made and disbursed, and here’s one of the latest: of $1.8 billion for earthquake relief sent to Haiti, less than 2.9% has so far gone to the government.

I argued here in 2003, in testimony to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, that it is difficult, without real and sustained commitments to strengthening the public sector—including its regulatory and coordinating capacity, so that the quality of the services offered by NGOs and others will not be all over the map—to monitor funds and to use them efficiently. This remains true today. Thus are the Haitian people still tasting the bitter dregs of the cup we prepared for them as we weakened, or failed to strengthen, the public sector over the past decades.

During these years, unfair international trade policies cut Haitian farmers off at the knees, accelerating the complex and vicious cycle of urban migration and deforestation that set the stage for the food insecurity that was to follow, for the extreme vulnerability to heavy rains and storms, and for the massive overcrowding and shoddy construction revealed to all late in the afternoon of January 12th.

3. What is to be done?

This is where we are at the six-month mark, as hurricane season approaches. Less than five percent of the rubble has been cleared. People are going to camps for shelter and for other services that all of us humans need to get by. Gender-based violence worsens the “structural violence” to which the poor, in general, are subjected. The good news is that the enormous generosity and solidarity of the world after the earthquake was and is real: it’s estimated that more than half of all American households contributed to earthquake relief. Speaking as a volunteer for PIH, I can proudly announce that we have, along with the Ministry of Health, already broken ground on a huge new teaching hospital in central Haiti. We know from experience, as my colleague Loune Viaud will report, that it’s possible to get a great deal done in rural Haiti, and these services and jobs will also pull people out of the city and contribute to the decentralization so desperately needed.

But there needs to be a shift, especially in how we plan and deliver basic health, education, and other safety-net services: a commitment to move at least some of the assistance (including private money) into public hands, which has not been at all the favored approach to assistance to Haiti. This is increasingly recognized as the right thing to do, as Paul Weisenfeld, Haiti Task Team Coordinator for USAID, who reported the falling rates of water-borne diseases noted above, observed recently: “I think it’s key to us that if we’re going to have sustainability we are going to have to work through Haitian institutions, which requires strengthening them. Obviously [they’ve] been weakened tremendously by this earthquake, so at the same time that we implement reconstruction programs, we need to strengthen government institutions so that we can work through them.”[1] We have also just worked with the American Red Cross to support performance-based financing of medical and nursing staff in Haiti’s largest public hospital. These efforts will not be easy, but they are necessary.

This shift will not be a panacea for Haiti but could be coupled with a powerful and complementary focus on another movement of capital, this time from public to private and from wealthy to poor: a focus on job creation and on strengthening the hand of those trying to farm (and reforest) the land and also on young people, especially young women, living in poverty. We need a greater sense of urgency. And the most urgent task of all is the creation of jobs that will confer dignity to those in greatest need. As FDR said early in the Depression, “The Nation asks for action and action now. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work.”[2]

As it was during the Great Depression, there are innumerable public-works jobs imaginable, from reforestation and rubble removal to preparing for back-to-school (la rentrée), which must put kids back in schools, safe schools, with the books and uniforms they need and a nutritious lunch during the day. As for health, Haitians need a real health system. This will require a massive investment in new clinics and hospitals, staff to run them, and health insurance at a time when only 300,000 families have it. These are indivisible tasks, as FDR noted at the outset of the Depression: “Public health . . . is a responsibility of the state as [is] the duty to promote general welfare. The state educates is children. Why not keep them well?”[3]

Job creation and improved health and educational services, with greater investment in the public sector: this should be a big part of the mantra. I do not mean to suggest that this transfer of capital, resources, etc., is easy. We know it’s not, because we’re in direct contact with the representatives of large multilateral and bilateral agencies, which have to follow laborious processes in order to disburse funds. But let us ask, in the face of urgent need, if we are well served by the fetishization of process now retarding the flow of capital into the hands of families in greatest need. The International Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti, which is now being born, needs to be swift and nimble; the rules of the road for development assistance need to be rewritten, not to favor contractors and middlemen and trauma vultures, but to favor the victims of the quake. Right now there are shovel-ready projects, which could create tens of thousands of jobs and perhaps more. There are plenty of people living in poverty, including the market women who have never had access to capital or financial services and who have been working against an undertow of unfair trade policies, who are as entrepreneurial as anyone else in the world. Projects of all sorts can be greenlighted, but will move sluggishly if the funds seep into the ICRH too slowly and if projects cannot be moved forward because of strangling strictures on how the money is to be used.

People in this country know it’s possible to move forward with a sense of urgency. During the Depression, job creation and improved services from health care to education to rural electrification were the focus of many efforts. FDR, then the governor of New York, called for “workfare” and welfare through the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA). This call was made on August 28, 1931, and it was up and running by winter:

The crisis had finally imposed some discipline of responsibility even on the Republican legislators, who with uncharacteristic docility did what the governor asked. (The New York Voters would overwhelmingly approve the bond issue in November 1932.) Faithful to romantic notions of rural life, Roosevelt had TERA subsidize the resettlement of as many unemployed as possible on marginal farmland, with tools and instruction on how to cultivate it. In six years TERA assisted five million people, 40 percent of the population of New York State, at a cost of $1,555,000. At the end of the period, 70 percent of these were no longer reliant on government assistance.[4]

Later these lessons were taken to scale in many programs, including the Civil Works Administration, which created millions of jobs and moved billions into the public sector through public works and into the hands of the previously unemployed.

Certainly Haiti’s need is no less great than that faced by the States during the Depression. Let us hope it can build a more just tax base, even though its IRS, like its Ministries of Health and Education, has been destroyed. In the meantime, the world has responded generously and now it is incumbent upon us to move these resources into the hands of the Haitian people, especially those directly affected, in these two complementary ways. Again, this is not a choice between public and private sectors, any more than this is a choice between strengthening local agriculture and rebuilding infrastructure, but rather a plea to focus resource distribution on the poor and displaced by providing basic services and through job creation. There is no evidence whatsoever that this is an impossible mission.

Notes: [1] Remarks by Paul Weisenfeld, USAID Haiti Task Team coordinator, at a media roundtable on July 19, 2010. Available at: http://www.usaid.gov/press/speeches/2010/sp100719_1.html


[2] Roosevelt, Franklin D. First Inaugural Address. March 4, 1933.

[3] Black, Conrad. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003. Page 194.

[4] Black, pages 216-217.


Testimony of Loune Viaud

Loune Viaud, Director of Operations and Strategic Planning for Zanmi Lasante

Chairwoman Lee, esteemed members of the Congressional Black Caucus, thank you for inviting me to testify here today. My name is Loune Viaud, and I am Director of Operations and Strategic Planning for Zanmi Lasante, an organization devoted to providing a preferential option for the poor in rural Haiti. Zanmi Lasante is the partner organization of Partners In Health, an organization which also advocates for and provides a preferential option for the poor around the world. On behalf of Zanmi Lasante and Partners In Health, I want to thank the members of the Congressional Black Caucus for arranging this hearing, and for ensuring that the voices of Haitians are heard.  Today I will address the current situation and needs of the Haitian people, the needs of vulnerable children, the status of the healthcare system, and the need for decentralization and job creation.

The Current Situation and Haitian Priorities

On one visit to Port-au-Prince—even without venturing far from the airport—one will see that little progress has been made to date. I am going to talk about priorities—in any case, what we see as priorities on the ground. I see healthcare, employment, decentralization, protection of children, women, adolescent girls, the elderly and the most vulnerable members of the population. What happened to us the afternoon of January 12 changed everything. The way we live, the way we see the world and the future.

What happened to us is beyond words. So many people died. There are so many new people with disabilities, orphans, unaccompanied and displaced children, elders and women left vulnerable and at a loss. So much despair.

Despite this despair, we also feel grateful for the solidarity around the world. Immediately after the earthquake, a great number of people wanted to help, and many came to Haiti to do so. But now, six months later, we still need solidarity, and we need those who want to help to work in cooperation and partnership with and for the Haitian people. Rather than charity, Haiti needs partners. Haiti needs jobs. In particular, I see decentralization in the form of job creation outside of Port-au-Prince. Jobs will stabilize other parts of the  country, empower the communities, and save lives.

We need Haitians to lead the reconstruction efforts. We need our partners to take a rights-based approach in the construction of a new Haiti. This means supporting the capacity and the leadership of both the Haitian government and Haitian communities; it means deferring to the experiences of Haitians and guaranteeing our participation in the rebuilding of our country; it means unconditionally respecting all of our human rights—including the right to food, the right to decent housing and sanitation, the right to health, the right to potable water, the right to education and the right to security.

Zanmi Beni and Protection of Vulnerable Children

We at Zanmi Lasante (ZL) are doing our best to protect the rights of some of the very most vulnerable members of our population: orphaned and abandoned children, many of whom are mentally and physically disabled. Child wellbeing has long been one of Zanmi Lasante’s central concerns, as children are often the most vulnerable to sickness and deprivation of rights in the communities we serve. Following the earthquake, there was a desperate need for refuge and support for children affected by the quake.

In partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Operation Blessing International, among other organizations, ZL is working to fill this gaping void. We opened Zanmi Beni, a home just outside of Port-au-Prince for abandoned and disabled children. Zanmi Beni, which means “blessed friends” in Haitian Creole, now provides shelter, education and love for over 48 children. We need more places like Zanmi Beni or at minimum, more children’s shelters. In challenging times and impoverished settings, children are often the most at risk, in part because they are not as able to advocate for themselves.

Countrywide, the protection of children continues to be a priority as we work to improve the humanitarian situation in Haiti. Children were particularly affected by the earthquake: in the six months following the quake, of the almost 147,000 patient encounters logged at the clinics set up in the four settlement camps in Port-au-Prince, 40 percent were patients under age 20. Half of those patients were under five years old. Thousands more children were injured, traumatized, displaced, and orphaned by the earthquake. Children in Haiti, particularly homeless, disabled, and orphaned children, still desperately need shelter, care, and protection. We must make sure that their fundamental rights are protected, and that the government of Haiti is empowered to fulfill these rights.

The Health Sector

Together, the international community and people of Haiti must also work hard to ensure that the right to healthcare is being fulfilled for all. Strengthening of the healthcare system is essential to the restoration of Haiti.

On July 3, in partnership with local government, the Haitian Ministry of Health, Harvard, Duke, and Dartmouth Medical schools, and a variety of private and public organizations, Zanmi Lasante broke ground to begin building an innovative referral and teaching hospital. Mirebalais, where the hospital is being built, is about 35 miles north of Port-au-Prince, and is known as the “gateway” to the Central Plateau Department. The hospital perfectly embodies our commitment to Haiti in that it integrates research, teaching, and service, and is the result of a broad coalition of public, private, and government organizations, in both the U.S. and Haiti.

Prior to the quake, our plan was to build a 108-bed teaching hospital offering comprehensive, community-based primary and prenatal care as well as treatment for TB, HIV, malaria, and malnutrition. However, the destruction of 80 percent of Haiti’s healthcare infrastructure on January 12 made the need for a hospital in Mirebalais more urgent than ever. Thousands of people have traveled to, and are still journeying into, the rural Central and Artibonite Departments from Port-au-Prince seeking desperately needed healthcare. Additionally, the earthquake badly damaged the country’s only teaching hospital, and destroyed most of its educational facilities. The state medical and nursing schools were particularly hard hit, and the Port-au-Prince nursing school, where an entire class of nursing students died, was completely demolished. After the earthquake, at the request of Haiti’s Ministry of Health, we expanded our vision for the hospital.

The new hospital will be 180,000 square feet and have 320 beds, in addition to state-of-the-art infection control, wall-mounted oxygen and medical gases, improved diagnostics (digital x-ray and ultrasound), and increased space around the beds to accommodate teaching rounds for medical and nursing students. The hospital will include the technological and logistical capacity to support educational exchanges, distance learning and remote collaborations. It is our hope that it will serve as a model for Haiti’s national healthcare system, a place where Haitian doctors and nurses can be trained and empowered to take care of the  country’s people. In this way, it is our greatest hope that the Mirebalais hospital will strengthen healthcare throughout Haiti and help solve Haiti’s healthcare human resource crisis.

We are employing local people to build the hospital that will serve them and their communities. This hospital will be our flagship, equivalent in capacity to all of our current facilities in Haiti. Perhaps more importantly, the Mirebalais hospital is a symbol: a symbol of our commitment to public partnerships and infrastructure, healthcare as a human right, and the people of Haiti. It is our commitment to “building back better,” hand-in-hand with the government and people of Haiti.

Simultaneously, we are working to restore the devastated General Hospital in Port-au-Prince—l’Hôpital de l’Université d’Etat d’Haiti (HUEH), the largest medical institution in the country. The General Hospital was nearly destroyed by the earthquake, and in the days that followed, surviving staff members and volunteers—over 370 in total—worked to treat thousands of badly injured patients. Over the course of days and weeks, electricity and running water were restored. In addition, along with numerous partners, ZL was there and helped staff 12 operating rooms, where staff members and volunteers performed surgeries 24 hours a day.

More than six months after the earthquake, there is still much to be done, and ZL’s focus is changing from the immediate to long-term strengthening and care. The hospital staff has resumed responsibility for most clinical services, and so we have shifted to increased training, capacity, and professionalization of the nursing staff. We have also worked to establish a Friends of HUEH Foundation to build partnerships and financial support for rebuilding and strengthening the hospital.

As with the Mirebalais Hospital, we are committed to cross-sector partnerships and long-term planning. We have found that the best way to ensure that access to these services is both universal and sustainable is by partnering with Haitian public institutions that are ultimately responsible for ensuring that Haitians have the right to health, water, food, and education.  These partnerships ensure that the capacity of the government is enhanced, and that the assets we are creating—crucial infrastructure and services—are ultimately owned by the Haitian people.  Our partnerships have been successful because our goal is to support our government in doing its job – to fulfill all Haitians’ right to health.

Job Creation and Decentralization – Aquaculture Project

In addition to focusing on protection of children and on Haiti’s health sector, a main priority in improving the humanitarian situation in Haiti is the creation and decentralization of jobs. This is essential if Haiti is to stabilize and prosper, and to ensure that the human rights of Haiti’s people are fulfilled.

Haiti, like many countries, has historically seen in-country migration from its rural regions to Port-au-Prince, its capital city. Many moved to the city in search of employment opportunities. However, the January earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, and set in motion a reversal of this trend. In the past six months, hundreds of thousands of people have moved to the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite, areas where Zanmi Lasante has worked for over twenty years. Initially, most of these migrants were in need of immediate medical care—2,961 earthquake victims were treated at ZL health clinics in the first month after the quake. While many migrants continue to need healthcare, many moved in search of employment, stability, and survival. Decentralization of employment opportunities has become essential.

ZL and Partners In Health, in partnership with the UN Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti and the mayor of Boucan Carre, a region in the Central Plateau of Haiti, are working on a tilapia-raising aquaculture project. This project will bring jobs to hundreds in the region. It is again our hope that this project will also open up the region for development and investment on a larger scale.

In addition to the decentralization that is essential to Haiti’s recovery, the aquaculture project will help to fulfill other fundamental rights for people in the region. Currently, the region, two hours from Port-au-Prince, does not have access to fresh fish, a highly nutritious source of local food. The fish that is available is dried and is prohibitively expensive for most of the rural population. This project will both increase the amount of fish available, and at the same time decrease the cost to the rural population. In addition to providing food security, which is incredibly important, the aquaculture project will provide food sovereignty for a large segment of the population, enabling them to control food production for themselves and their community. In my humble opinion, we need more projects like this in the countryside of Haiti, especially where there are large rivers, which, instead of swelling during the rainy season and killing people in the region, they could be used  to feed the communities.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of food security and food sovereignty. Particularly for a marginalized and under-resourced population, food security and sovereignty will be transformative. Any industry, development, investment, and employment that this project brings to the area could similarly transform hundreds of thousands of lives. It is long-term development projects and meaningful investments like this that we would like to focus on, in addition to dealing with more immediate needs.

Conclusion and Recommendations for Moving Forward

On all fronts, there is so much to be done.

I want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to each and every one of you, venerable members of the Congressional Black Caucus, for all you have done for Haiti. Your work does not go unnoticed, and we are deeply appreciative. However, I am afraid that we still need you to do more.

Both the service and advocacy work will be long-term. Continued discussions and advocacy will be needed for bilateral and multilateral donors to encourage actual disbursement of the nearly US$10 billion committed at the 2010 Donor Conference at the United Nations in March. Working with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, the NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, we proposed a rights-based framework for transparency and accountability to, international donors, implementers, and NGOs.   Along with the UN Office of the Special Envoy and other partners, we will continue to advocate for better implementation of foreign aid-funded projects and to channel more aid through the Haitian government in order to strengthen their systems and their ability to fulfill their citizens’ human rights.

We in Haiti appreciate the U.S. government’s commitment to partnering with our government and our fellow Haitians as we rebuild. We hope that this commitment will come with the tools needed to facilitate our participation. Central to our meaningful participation are transparency mechanisms that will help Haitians across the country track U.S. government funds at the local level and be able to provide feedback on projects as they’re being planned and implemented, and most importantly in the event that they do not have the desired outcome.

An immediate priority is the passage of the Supplemental War Funding Bill (H.R. 4899), which contains $2.9 billion in aid to be released for Haiti’s reconstruction. We need your help to protect the 425,000 or so families that are living in the internally displaced persons camps. These camps are crowded, ramshackle, unsanitary, and insecure – women and young girls are gang raped every night. The best possible solution is to build permanent housing to, among other things, decrease the gender-based violence, as well as create jobs and services. As the supplemental bill languishes, people are dying, and reconstruction is struggling. We need you to help us keep up the pressure to pass this bill.

We also need you to keep the attention on Haiti. Though the people of Haiti have long suffered at the hands of cruel dictators, brutally destructive international policies, and natural disasters; in the past, this suffering has often been ignored. However, immediately following the earthquake, the world’s attention turned to Haiti. Our work has been assisted by the massive outpouring of support and solidarity from people around the world and from the contributions of donor countries. However, we need to maintain this focus. Two weeks ago, on July 12, we marked six months since the earthquake. Unfortunately, this was met with only passing attention by the U.S. media and populace. However, for those of us in Haiti, we are confronted by the effects of the earthquake everywhere, every moment of every day. We are surrounded by evidence that there is so much more we can do to restore Haiti, and to fulfill the human rights of all in Haiti. Despite many challenges, there is much hope… I want to believe that with this administration, this Congress, those great friends of Haiti, there is hope and possibility for Haiti, if the right choices are made and the right actions are taken.

I don’t expect miracles. I expect there will be many challenges ahead both political (i.e. the elections) and by natural disaster (hurricane season and the risk of more earthquakes).  But I also expect your help, solidarity and partnership for the right choices and the right actions to be taken in favor of Haiti, venerable members of the CBC.

Mèsi anpil. Wout la long men avèk anpil men epi bòn volonte, chay la pa dwe lou…

Thank you very much.

Toronto Star Editorial: ‘Caribana lives despite Ottawa’

By admin, July 27, 2010 11:12 am


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

One Day Longer? The Vale-Inco Strike Comes to a Close

By admin, July 23, 2010 2:21 pm
Socialist Project - home The   B u l l e t Socialist Project - home
Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 395
July 23, 2010

One Day Longer?

The Vale-Inco Strike Comes to a Close

Scott Neigh

On July 7 and 8, 2010, striking members of United Steel Workers Local 6500 in Sudbury, Ontario, voted 75% in favour of a contract that ended a bitter strike against transnational mining giant Vale Inco. The 3300 strikers had been on the picket lines for almost one year (along with members of Local 6200 in Port Colborne, Ontario, who voted in favour by a similar margin).

Despite the immense effort and sacrifices made by workers over the course of the year-long ordeal, the settlement marks a defeat for a local with a reputation for strength in a town with a history of solidarity. It is a hard moment for those who are returning to work – who endured so much and still lost significant ground – but as the world faces the renewed neoliberal assault promised by leaders at the recent G20 summit in Toronto, it is important to ask critical questions that might strengthen all of our struggles in the difficult times ahead.

The Strike

Though it was rarely framed this way during the dispute, this strike was all about neoliberalism. The components of that agenda that are about reorganizing work, tying people’s lives ever more tightly to the market, and taking gains away from ordinary people to the benefit of elites were reflected in the company’s demands.

Steelworkers at the July 26 anti-G20 rally, Queen’s Park, Toronto.

As has so often been the case with neoliberal demands the world over, ordinary people could have chosen to acquiesce, but instead they chose to fight. Yet as has also happened in many places around the world, elites responded to this resistance by inflicting suffering on the bodies of those who resisted. For thousands of working-class families in Sudbury, this meant a year of doing without in significant ways. Some workers lost their homes. Other workers saw their relationships crumble.

It was also clear that the company intended to mount a serious attack on the union. In the earliest days of the strike, a former executive of Inco (as the company was known before being bought by Brazilian transnational Vale in 2006) was quoted anonymously in the Globe and Mail as saying, “They just want to break the union. They want to completely hit the reset button on the entire labour situation and the agreements that have been put in place in the past.” There were occasions later in the strike where articles in the Canadian business press included in their headlines references to Vale trying to break the union, indicating that the business class in Canada did not take seriously the protestations by Vale spokespeople in those same articles that they were doing no such thing.

The company made skillful use of court injunctions in concert with the sophisticated surveillance, harassment, and legal capabilities of strikebreaking firm AFI to limit the possibility for effective, militant picketing. This was the first time since union recognition in the 1940s that a mining company in Sudbury has attempted to use scab labour to restart production during a strike. Though production remained significantly impaired throughout the strike, speculation was that within another two or three months, Vale would have been able to come close to full production using scabs.

The Deal

Nobody on the union side is happy with the contents of the settlement. It represents, according to one community activist I talked to, “a significant defeat.” It contains some improvements over the offer made before the strike in a number of areas, but only very modest ones, and in the overall context of the company winning the substance of all of its major demands.

Though there is a small wage increase over the five-year life of the deal, the nickel price level at which the nickel bonus kicks in has been raised substantially and for the first time there will be a cap on the percentage of a worker’s income that can come from the bonus. One rank-and-file worker that I talked to calculated that the new rules around the nickel bonus could lead to him losing as much as $30,000 per year compared to the height of the boom earlier this decade. The company was also successful in imposing new restrictions on seniority rights, greater freedom to contract out some kinds of work to non-union contractors, and a streamlined grievance procedure that will be less fair to workers. As well, all new hires will now be placed on a defined contribution pension plan, rather than the defined benefit plan in which current workers and retirees are enrolled. Some union activists see this as one step in a larger plan by the company to get all of its current and former employees on the defined contribution scheme.

Beyond the deal itself, the back-to-work protocol has enraged many workers, not the least because it was not made available to them until almost the end of the voting on the deal. The terms include a six week period at the start of the contract in which the union has conceded immense power to the company to restructure the workforce. During this period, most union work can be done by non-union people and the company has great latitude to reassign and transfer workers. Most shockingly, the union has agreed to what one union activist, in only a slight exaggeration, has described as “no grievance procedure whatsoever” for those six weeks.

The company has also persisted in its attempts to weaken mobilizations by the union in future disputes by attacking its ability to protect members who have been active in strike activities. Though the back-to-work protocol called on both sides to drop all legal measures related to the strike, the company appears still to be proceeding with criminal charges against three individual workers and contempt proceedings for alleged violations of the picketing injunction against a number of others, claiming that the protocol only referred to legal actions against the union and its officials. Also, for what appears to be the first time involving a major union in recent Ontario history, nine workers who were fired during the course of the strike were not rehired as part of the deal. While the union has succeeded, with considerable effort, in getting the labour board to hear the cases of these workers and intends to pursue a constitutional case based on freedom of association, the refusal to rehire sets a dangerous precedent for other unions.

Raising Questions

Raising critical questions at such a difficult moment is a risky venture, particularly when they are being raised by someone like myself who is not one of those most directly impacted by the struggle. Yet it is also a moment in which learning from recent victories and defeats is crucial. Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney recently predicted a global “age of austerity,” which was confirmed by the elite consensus announced at the G20 meetings in Toronto in June. Workers, communities, indigenous nations, women, queers, people living in poverty, the environment – all will soon be facing reinvigorated neoliberal assault.

Since the acceptance of Vale’s offer I have interviewed a number of (mostly activist) members of Local 6500 as well as community activists who worked in support of the strike – all of the former and some of the latter requested anonymity as a condition of the interviews. I have added this to the observations and informal conversations I had over the course of the strike. The picture that has emerged is of a struggle that was waged with traditional assumptions and tools in an environment and against an enemy that had changed in significant ways. One of the union activists told me, “We went into a gunfight carrying a pencil and they had laser beams.”

At the very least, the loss of this strike at Vale Inco can teach us not to trust old assumptions about resistance in the current environment. And it may also point not just union and community spaces in Sudbury but also those across North America toward some of the questions that we must ask as we brace for what is to come.


The dominant tactical orientation of Local 6500 seemed largely drawn from the mainstream traditions of industrial unions, particularly those with a more “business union” orientation, to borrow a label that one long-time community activist applied to the local. The kinds of preparations made by the leadership and their relationship to the other tactics that emerged over the course of the strike imply an assumption of the primacy of picket-line militancy and of a much more marginal role for other kinds of mobilizations.

There are a number of reasons why circumstances today mean that such tactics, which may have worked in decades past, could no longer seal the deal in Sudbury. For one thing, though Inco has long been a corporation with global reach (and a history of atrocious practices in the global South), Vale is simply a much larger company with much deeper pockets. Though the strike did impair production significantly and did cost the company money, the operations in Sudbury (and elsewhere in Canada) are such a small part of the company’s empire that the level of harm that one group of workers can inflict by withdrawing their labour remains quite limited.

As well, the evolution of labour law in Ontario creates conditions that favour companies. While much local attention focused on the lack of legislation preventing the use of scabs – something that was in force in the province briefly in the early 1990s, and has proven effective in other provinces as well – it is far from the only problem. The combination of injunctions restricting picketing with firms like AFI, which specialize in strikebreaking and the harassment of workers, make the possibility of truly effective picketing even more remote.

Unions, including North America’s remaining industrial strongholds, need to recognize that while picket lines are important, they are no longer the one and only site for struggle. As one union activist I talked to put it, “You won’t win a strike on the picket line, but you sure can lose a strike on the picket line.”

The question becomes how to respond to this reality. What tactics will work? What changes in organizational form, practices, and culture would support more effective tactics? Some of the questions in the following sections point toward some possible avenues for discussion by workers and other activists as we move forward.

Ordinary Members

Over the year that the Steel Workers were on the lines, at least two overlapping but distinct networks of rank-and-file activists emerged, as well as networks among the wives and partners of strikers. One of the worker-based networks was catalyzed as a result of some spaces and resources that came from the international level of the union and the other was a more spontaneous local formation.

These networks experimented with a range of tactics. They drew public attention to scabs. They protested at the hotels where AFI strikebreakers were staying. They successfully campaigned to get the city council to call on the province to pass anti-scab legislation. They rallied repeatedly against provincial and federal politicians, both from the city and farther afield. They mounted fast, short blockades of specific work sites at unexpected intervals. They participated in the G20 labour march. They protested businesses that were crossing the picket lines. Some wives and partners of strikers took on increasingly militant roles, both in some of these actions and in a few autonomously organized actions, as they were not vulnerable to the same threat of consequences as workers.

Discussions about what was effective and what was not still need to happen among the activists in question as the strike is debriefed, but what is clear is that ordinary members applying their energy, knowledge, skills, and willingness to take risks in creative, autonomous ways offered a greatly expanded scope for struggle compared to picket lines alone. There was a great hunger to try new things and to find approaches that might shift public opinion, political positions, and consequences for the company.

There are plenty of indications that much more could be done to make the most of this kind of struggle, whatever specifics workers decide are appropriate in a given instance. It was Gary Kinsman, a long-time activist and a scholar who has worked extensively on the history of Canadian social movements, including some work on Sudbury’s labour movement, who described the local historically as a “business union” and also as “top-down” in its organization. One consequence of this is an internal culture that has not always fostered participatory governance or spaces and resources devoted to facilitating social movement-like mobilization of rank-and-file workers, though there have been moments of exception to this.

From the people I talked to, there seems to have been little attention to building this kind of capacity either in general in recent years or specifically in the lead-up to the strike. The international-sponsored training that lead to the formation of one of the networks happened shortly after the beginning of the strike, but from its content appeared to have been designed for use six months to a year before a strike was expected to occur.

During the strike itself, though the union had the information to mount all of the picket lines it needed from the beginning, it did not produce a coordinated means for mobilizing all of its members for other sorts of actions until several months into the strike. As well, at no point does there appear to have been anyone assigned to coordinate the strike-related activities originating from different spaces within the union. Information flow to and among members was another problem that activists identified. Despite the approval and even resources provided by the local leadership for rank-and-file activities at various points, activists I talked to identified a strong and consistent disconnection of the leadership from the activities organized by the rank-and-file networks.

What can be done to build on the experiences of ordinary members who became active in this strike? What can be done to create spaces and resources during non-strike periods that can build an ever-growing base of members with skills, political knowledge, and confidence to engage in the kinds of actions beyond the picket lines that can help unions win? What is the best role for leadership in doing this? What is the best role for rank-and-file networks? For the families of members?

International Links

Another key element in struggles against global companies (or other global institutions) is making links among those who face the same enemy in different places. North American unions are still in the early stages of figuring out how to do that effectively. The international level of the Steel Workers is, by all accounts, deeply involved in trying to make such linkages, and appeared to be doing a lot of that kind of work in relation to this strike. However, the knowledge among both community and union activists I spoke to in Sudbury was often vague on the details of this work. My sense is that a lot of good things were happening, but that, even when a few members of the local were directly involved, most members had little opportunity to learn about what was happening internationally or to get a practical sense of being involved in a global struggle in alliance with sisters and brothers half a world away.

It is also unclear what kind of barriers to effective solidarity might have been created by the choice at the beginning of the strike to politically frame it in strongly nationalist terms – as Canadian workers and a Canadian community fighting a Brazilian enemy. Official statements after the initial period seemed to pull back somewhat from the blatant nationalism of the earliest period, but never completely, and it continued to exert a powerful influence over at least a segment of the membership. This is, of course, deeply connected to the troubling tendency of much of the broader left in North America to respond to neoliberalism in nationalist ways.

How can substantive global links be forged among workers? How should international work be integrated into local struggles? What barriers do nationalist politics present for such work, as well as to developing deeper understandings of what neoliberalism is and how it works?

Local Alliances

In the current strike, there were a number of barriers to effective mobilizations in the broader community in support of the strike. The following section examines those related to the community itself. However, a key one was, as far as many of us in the community could tell, that the union was not terribly interested or able to cultivate such support. In the early months, there were a number of instances of social justice groups (and quite a few more of individual activists) calling the union to ask what they could do, and never hearing back. Individual demonstrations of support were certainly encouraged, whether that was donating money or taking coffee to a picket line or putting a supportive sign in your window, but building relationships of alliance with activists and social justice groups in the community did not seem to be a high priority.

Again, this has some basis in history. Local 6500 does not have a strong record of building relationships of solidarity with social justice and community groups outside of the labour movement. For many community activists in Sudbury, this was epitomized by the decision of Local 6500 during the Days of Action campaign which swept across Ontario in the late 1990s in opposition to the right-wing provincial government of Premier Mike Harris to use its dominance at the Sudbury and District Labour Council to prevent that body from sponsoring the Sudbury Days of Action.

Given the importance of action beyond the picket line for winning against the neoliberal agenda, how should unions relate to social justice groups in the community? What does reciprocal solidarity look like?

Beyond the Union

While the lack of attention to facilitating community alliances by the local was a significant factor, there was much less there to facilitate than in decades past. As one long-time community activist who requested anonymity sadly told me, this strike “debunked the myth that Sudbury is a union town.”

According to Kinsman, “There was a lot of support for the strike, but a lot of it remained incredibly passive and inactive.” This may explain why all of the union activists I talked to were moderately positive about the level of support they received in the community, while the community activists were uniformly negative.

Laurie McGauley is another long-time activist in the community, with many years of experience in the feminist movement and other social justice spaces. She said that in January, seven months into the strike, there was still “absolutely no community-lead support initiatives going on. Which is unusual for Sudbury in a big strike like this… It just blew my mind.” So she and a few other people called together old contacts and allies, including many with roots in the women’s movement, and put together a group called CANARYS, short for Community Activists Need Answers Regarding Your Safety. For the balance of the strike they held weekly meetings and regular events and protests, often highly theatrical ones, focusing on opposition to scab labour and the danger that under-trained workers posed to the community given the nature of the facilities they were operating. While community response to the group showed a hunger for ways to be more actively in support, no other centres of activity emerged in the community outside of the labour movement.

Even within the labour movement, the response was less vigorous than it could have been. While traditional forms of strike solidarity, like declarations of support and financial donations, began to arrive from other unions from Sudbury and from across the country soon after the strike began – indeed, many unions were very generous over the course of the year – it was also many months into the strike before a support committee focused on mobilizing people was formed at the local labour council.

The community activists I talked to offered a number of theories as to why the level of activism in support of the strike was so low in the broader community. Certainly the disinterest or inability of the union to engage with activism in the community was one. Another was the changes in the shape of the local economy – once upon a time, the mining workforce involved tens of thousands of people, but the local was only 3300 strong at the start of the strike, so the impact on the community was much less.

McGauley also talked about the loss of a culture of activism in the city, which as recently as ten years ago was very vibrant. She noted that the incredible influence of the company, including its generous funding of many local recreational, cultural, and environmental initiatives, meant that many people were hesitant about coming out publicly against Vale. Other community activists pointed toward the material and cultural impacts of neoliberalism. The former means that more people are having to put more time into making ends meet and so have less time for activism, and the latter tends to push a more atomized and individualistic view of the world that has little space for solidarity, social justice, or social change.

This seems to be consistent with the experience of many other communities across Canada. While there are signs in Canada’s largest cities of the beginnings of a modest uptick in social movement activity, at least in specific sectors, this does not seem to have reached much beyond Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

What must be done to recompose sites of struggle in Sudbury and across the continent? What can we do to reconstitute a culture of activism? What questions do we need to be asking and what conversations do we need to be having to begin preparing for the renewed push for neoliberalism promised by the G20?

Looking Forward

It is difficult to ask questions arising from a defeat without encouraging pessimism. Some community activists are worried that this defeat for Local 6500 – an organization with a reputation for strength greater than any sort of people’s organization that most of us in North America can dream of belonging to – might discourage others in Sudbury and others in the larger labour movement from actively resisting when neoliberalism comes knocking. This is certainly possible. But it does not have to be.

At the most basic level, the company wanted to break the union, break the workers, and it failed. The union lost, but it remains a powerful tool that the workers can use to fight another day.

Another consequence of this struggle was that it created activists. One union militant that I talked to estimated that there was a core of between 200 and 300 activists who were consistently involved throughout the strike. Some of these will not stay involved, of course, but many will. They will become a nucleus of struggle against the company and, potentially, of struggles against neoliberalism more broadly in the Sudbury community for decades to come. In this way, the strike has left Sudbury stronger.

The strike also presented glimpses of possibility, little moments of anticipation of what might be. One such moment was a mass direct action near the end of the strike. After talks broke down yet again, a segment of the rank-and-file networks put up blockades at the main entrances to two company facilities with several hundred participants that lasted for multiple days. Many members who had not before been active in the strike outside of picket duty saw this as a chance to do something powerful, and they joined in. The company and the police insisted the action was in violation of the picketing injunction, yet the angry strikers, their families, and supporters from the community remained, even with the threat of police intervention. Yet, when senior union leadership intervened to end the action, there was great anger from many of the rank-and-file workers who were participating, and significant demoralization and demobilization afterward. But it was also a taste of the power of ordinary people, of what resistance in a Sudbury of reinvigorated movements might look like.

What if this kind of tactic was begun not in the late days of the strike but early on? What if there was a longstanding culture of activism within the local to draw on, and vibrant, already-existing rank-and-file networks? What if there were strong links to a highly mobilized community? In such circumstances, it is easy to imagine not 300 people but 3000 people willing to be present even in the face of police disapproval, which would have changed the balance of forces significantly. And what if that was coupled to strong bonds with workers overseas? Coordinated action against Vale at multiple sites around the world becomes imaginable.

It is impossible to know in any definitive way what could have turned a defeat into a victory. However, in thinking about the future, it is important to keep in mind that the speculations in the previous paragraph are not just imaginable, but possible. In fact, not only is the capacity to engage in actions like that possible, it may even be necessary as the “age of austerity” descends. The only way to get there is to begin asking questions like those arising from the Vale Inco strike – questions about how to create participatory organizations; about how to build a movement by creating spaces and using resources such that all of us can grow in confidence, knowledge, and skills, to better act autonomously and creatively; about how to recreate an activist culture in smaller centres across the continent; about how to build real alliances around the world and across different sectors and social locations close to home. Wherever we are, we must begin talking about such things, so that we can move forward together. •

Scott Neigh is a writer, activist, and parent who lives in Sudbury, Ontario. For more of his writing, visit scottneigh.blogspot.com. An earlier version of this article appeared on Linchpin.ca.

Organize a Fundraiser for the G20 Legal Defence Fund

By admin, July 17, 2010 1:51 pm

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network and Defence Fund are calling on our friends, our comrades and strangers to hold fundraising events in support of the legal defence of the 17 community organizers facing the most serious charges stemming from G20 protests, as well as the hundreds of people facing lesser charges.

We need to support all of those arrested during the G20 summit and continue to mobilize and build greater solidarity among our communities.

Legal fees for the 17 alone are expected to reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  That’s a lot of money we need to raise, but every little bit helps.  Any event to bring in money, whether it’s a small house party or a massive concert, makes a difference.  Ensuring that all of our comrades have access to good legal defence in court costs money, which is why we need your support in bringing it in.

Possible fundraising events include, but are not limited to:

*  Film screenings
*  Concerts
*  House parties
*  Panel discussions
*  Raffles
*  Garage sales
*  Anything else you can think of – be creative!

Once your event is planned, send the details to events.g20solidarity@gmail.com and we can promote your event on our website.  Visit www.g20.torontomobilize.org and check out our own fundraising callouts and other resources you can use in your organizing.

Funds raised will be donated directly to the G20 Defence Fund.  From there, funds will be distributed to those with the most need, prioritizing those still in custody on serious charges.

Personal donations are also appreciated.

To transfer funds, transfer to:
transit number 00646
institution number 842
account number 3542240
Use your online bank account or contact your bank directly to transfer funds. Please put “G20 legal defence” in the memo.

Write a cheque:
Toronto Community Mobilization Network
360A Bloor Street W
PO Box 68557
Toronto, ON
M5S 1X0

To donate by PayPal, go to g20.torontomobilize.org

Thank you for your help. Together we will create a just world that places people and the environment before the profits of corporations and the political elite.

In solidarity,

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network

Appeal for public help exposing police crimes Groups launch peoples’ investigation into police abuses at G20

By admin, July 16, 2010 10:24 am

From: <community.mobilize@resist.ca>
Date: Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 9:32 AM
Subject: [g8/g20mobilization] Appeal for Public Suport to Expose Police Crimes
To: community.mobilize@masses.tao.ca

Appeal for public help exposing police crimes
Groups launch peoples’ investigation into police abuses at G20

Toronto – Community groups are calling on the public to come forward with
photos, video, and eye witness accounts of police violence against
civilians during the G20 summits in Toronto.  This evidence will be used
to ensure that there are consequences for all those who beat and injured
people, and for the masterminds who conspired to plan and give orders for
the widespread police violence and repression that was experienced by
thousands on the streets. Further details can be found at

Press Conference:  11 a.m., Tuesday July 13, Ontario Institute for Studies
in Education, 252 Bloor Street West room 7-216.

“Police seriously injured many people in our city while the G20 met to
plan the gutting of our social programs,” said Farrah Miranda of the
Toronto Community Mobilization Network.  “We are asking the public to help
us to expose these incidents, and to ensure that there are consequences
for these outrageous abuses of power.”

“These rogue officers did not act alone,” she added.  “They were part of a
coordinated conspiracy by police chiefs and politicians that led to
injuries, the detention of organizers, and the largest arbitrary mass
arrest in modern Canadian history. This is not behaviour that should be
commended, this is behaviour that should be investigated.”

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network is launching an independent
peoples’ investigation into the severe and widespread abuses of police
power that occurred during the G20 meetings in Toronto, and the collusion
of politicians in making and executing those plans.  This peoples’
investigation will include representation from community groups, people
who were detained and hurt, NGO’s, academics, legal and medical
professionals, and the communities who face police repression every day.
The investigation will yield a report calling for clear consequences
including firings, and charges of those responsible for abuses including:

1.  Arbitrary intimidation, searches, mass arrests and abhorrent
conditions in detention.
2.  Many serious injuries to protesters, including while in handcuffs.
3.  Illegal, repeated strip searches, threats of rape, and molestation.
4.  Discrimination against deaf people, women, LGBTQ people, Quebecois,
organizers, others.
5.  Passing of secret laws limiting civil rights, and then misleading the
public about their nature.

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network is posting today 6 photos of
police abuses, and is asking the public to help identify the officers
involved.  We are also calling on people of conscience within the police
and the government to come forward as whistleblowers to expose the
decision makers behind this violence.  People can contribute photos or
other information to our investigation through
http://g20.torontomobilize.org/PeoplesInvestigation, by emailing
g20PoliceViolence@gmail.com, and by tagging uploaded photos, accounts, and
video with #G20PoliceViolence.  We cannot ensure the confidentiality of
these submissions.

Movement organizations continue to call for:
1.  Immediate release of all G20 protest prisoners.
2.  Dropping all G20 related charges.
3.  Firings and prosecution of those responsible for ordering police
violence, and abuses.
4. Abolishment of the G20.

“All of the serious injuries we saw and treated were caused by police
violence,” said Dr. Abeer Majeed of the Toronto Street Medics.  “We did
not come across any police officers or bystanders who were injured by
demonstrators. The police abuses that we witnessed against people caused
significant trauma, injuries and a shattering of the public trust. It is
imperative that there is accountability and there are consequences for
these senseless, violent, and dangerous actions.”

“If such abuses of power are not nipped in the bud such crackdowns will be
repeated as our communities organize to oppose the cutbacks and suffering
imposed by the G20 austerity agenda,” said Jean McDonald, a York
University student who had her hand broken by police.  “Police violence
has long targeted racialized communities. Now all our communities are
coming together and the police and politicians are out of control.  We
need to ensure that those conspiring to hurt people in any community
cannot get away with it ever again.”

Partners In Health Breaks Ground on World-Class Teaching Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti

By admin, July 13, 2010 3:54 pm

For Immediate Release

July 12, 2010

Contact: Andrew Marx, 617-432-1976, amarx@pih.org

Meredith Eves, 617-998-8945, meves@pih.org

Partners In Health Breaks Ground on

World-Class Teaching Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti

320-Bed Hospital Will Be Flagship of PIH’s Response Efforts to January 12 Earthquake, Will Offer Clinical Facilities Not Available at Any Public Site in the Country

BOSTON – On July 3, Partners In Health (PIH) and our Haitian sister organization, Zanmi Lasante (ZL), broke ground in Mirebalais, Haiti, for a world-class teaching hospital. Mirebalais will be a national referral facility, the flagship of our efforts to help rebuild Haiti’s health sector. By the first anniversary of the earthquake—January 12, 2011—the seven buildings of the main hospital campus, comprising 180,000 square feet, will be standing, with work on the interiors begun. Plans call for the hospital to be accepting patients by the end of 2011.

The new hospital will have 320 beds—equivalent in capacity to all 12 of the sites in which PIH currently works in Haiti, combined—and will offer clinical facilities not available at any public site in the country, including an intensive care unit and an operating theatre complex with six operating rooms equipped for thoracic surgery. The original plans for a 108-bed referral hospital for the lower plateau, offering comprehensive, community-based primary and prenatal care as well as treatment for TB, HIV, malaria, and malnutrition were expanded at the request of the Ministry of Health following the January 12 earthquake.

Dr. Alex Larsen, Minister of Health, said “What Haiti needs now are true partners to help us build back better by strengthening our country’s public infrastructure.  The new teaching hospital at Mirebalais will be a model for our national health system, offering high-quality medical services, a place for our clinicians to study and train, and hope and dignity to all who will seek—and offer—care there. We look forward to building upon our long-standing partnership with Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante with this desperately-needed facility.”

Mirebalais Hospital will include not just more beds and operating rooms, but state-of-the-art infection control, wall-mounted oxygen and medical gases, improved diagnostics (digital x-ray and ultrasound), and increased space around the beds to accommodate teaching rounds for medical and nursing students. Partnerships with leading universities and teaching hospitals will support the medical training and education of Haitian clinicians, as well as that of visiting international clinicians.  The hospital will include the technological and logistical capacity to support educational exchanges, distance learning and remote collaborations.

Dr. Paul Farmer, co-Founder of PIH, Chair of the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, calls the Mirebalais hospital project “exactly the sort of building back better in Haiti that also seeks to improve the very nature of development assistance. Too often, NGOs and research universities do too little to help create a strong public sector, without which public health and public education will always be anemic.

“For some of us, this hospital is the culmination of a dream dating back a quarter-century, and underlines our commitment to the country and people of Haiti, which is stronger than ever after the earthquake.  It is also a manifestation of our integrated model of research, teaching and service, and will serve as a site for all three. Mirebalais is being developed by a broad coalition which includes hundreds of individuals, several foundations, private corporations, Harvard teaching hospitals including Brigham and Women’s, Harvard Medical School, and of course our Haitian colleagues at ZL and the Ministry of Health. We are fortunate to be building upon the lessons learned in ZL’s long experience of building infrastructure in Haiti, and to have the support of many old and new partners in this essential effort.”

Dr. David Walton, PIH’s Deputy Chief of Mission in Haiti and a physician at Brigham and Women’s, is leading the project together with Jim Ansara, founder and Chairman of Shawmut Design and Construction: “We are proud to be building a hospital that will offer all Haitians the care they deserve, as well as a place to learn and practice medicine at the highest level. I am grateful for the many partnerships that are making this project possible, and to the many experts and companies offering their skill and materials.  It is a privilege to work with the community of Mirebalais, the Government of Haiti and our many partners to make this shared vision a reality.”

About PIH: PIH works in 12 countries around the world to provide quality health care to people and communities devastated by joint burdens of poverty and disease. PIH has been providing vital health care services in Haiti for more than 20 years and is the largest health care provider in the country, working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to deliver comprehensive health care services to a catchment area of 1.2 million across the Central Plateau and the Lower Artibonite Valley. PIH had 5,000 staff in Haiti before the January 12 earthquake.

To speak with PIH physician, David Walton about the new hospital in Mirebalais, please contact Andrew Marx, 617-432-1976, amarx@pih.org or Meredith Eves, 617-998-8945, meves@pih.org

West still ‘undermining Haiti’

By admin, July 12, 2010 1:46 pm
By Yves Engler
Six months after the earthquake, about 1.3 million Haitians still live in tent camps [GALLO/GETTY]

Six months ago a devastating earthquake killed more than 230,000 Haitians. About 100,000 homes were completely destroyed, alongside 1,000 schools and many other buildings.

The scenes of devastation filled TV screens around the world. Half a year later the picture is eerily familiar.

Destroyed during the earthquake, the presidential palace remains rubble and a symbol of the vast destruction. Port-au-Prince is still covered in debris. About 1.3 million people live in 1,200 makeshift tent camps in and around the capital.

According to one estimate, less than 5 per cent of the earthquake debris has been removed. Of course, with 20 million cubic metres of rubble in Port-Au-Prince alone, removing the debris is a massive challenge.

If 1,000 trucks were working daily it would take three to five years to remove all this material. Yet, there are fewer than 300 trucks hauling debris.

Political roadblocks

The technical obstacles to reconstruction are immense. But the political roadblocks are larger.

Immediately after the quake $10bn in international aid was pledged. As of June 30, only 10 per cent of the $2.5bn promised for 2010 had been delivered. A lot of it has been held up in political wrangling.

The international community led by the US, France and Canada demanded that the Haitian parliament pass an 18-month-long state of emergency law that effectively gave up government control over the reconstruction.

Holding up the money was a pressure tactic designed to ensure international control of the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti, which is authorised to spend billions. These maneuvers were met by protest and widespread hostility in Haiti, which forced the international community to back off a little.

Initially, a majority of seats on the commission were to represent foreign governments and international financial institutions. That has been reduced to half of the 26-member committee, but the money is still to be managed by the World Bank and other international institutions.

Bill Clinton, the former US president, and Jean-Max Bellerive, the Haitian prime minister, co-chair the reconstruction commission, which met for the first time on June 17.

Undermining Haiti

The strong-arm tactics by the Western powers to determine the make-up of the commission signify a continuation of longstanding policy to undermine the Haitian state’s credibility and capacity.

For two decades Washington and its allies have deliberately weakened Haiti’s government. Citing neo-liberal theories they demanded the privatisation of a number of state-owned companies and the reduction of tariffs on agricultural products.

This devastated domestic food production and spurred an exodus from the countryside to the cities, which exacerbated the destruction and death toll of the earthquake.

Washington also destabilised governments that put the interests of the poor over foreign corporations. On February 29, 2004, the elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown by the US, France and Canada. This ushered in a terrible wave of political repression and the ongoing UN occupation.

Since that time Aristide has been in forced exile in South Africa and his Fanmi Lavalas party has been barred from participating in elections. They are again being blocked from participating in elections taking place on November 28.

All of this has created a situation in which there is no institution in Haiti with the credibility or capacity to undertake reconstruction.

The NGO republic

Haitians not NGOs must be equipped to rebuild their country [GALLO/GETTY]

President Rene Preval’s government has lost the support of the country’s poor majority because of its subservience to Washington and the local elite. Preval recently defended the move to ban Fanmi Lavalas, which is still the most popular party in the country.

The 10,000-member UN “peacekeeping” force is widely disliked. In the two years after the 2004 coup, UN troops regularly provided support for the Haitian police’s violent assaults on poor communities and peaceful demonstrations demanding the return of the elected government.

UN forces also participated directly in a violent political pacification campaign, launching repeated anti-”gang” assaults on poor neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince.

The two most horrific raids took place on January 6, 2005, and December 22, 2006, which together left some 35 innocent civilians dead and dozens wounded in the densely populated slum of Cité Soleil – a bastion of support for Aristide.

In April 2008, UN troops once again demonstrated that their primary purpose in the country was to defend the massive economic divide in the country. During riots over the rising cost of food they put down protests by killing a handful of demonstrators.

Foreign-funded Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are widely discredited for contributing to a two-decade long process that has undermined Haitian governmental capacity. Sometimes dubbed the “republic of NGOs”, in Haiti these organisations have a great deal of influence and are promoted as agents of relief.

In some circumstances, they are. But, how would we like it if all our schools and social services were run by private foreign charities?

In Port-au-Prince there is graffiti stating “Down with NGOs”.

Two weeks ago Haitian journalist Wadner Pierre complained that “NGOs continue to humiliate and discriminate [against] the poor and respected Haitian citizens by assuming they are all dangerous, violent, or savage people, and they do not know anything, even how to put a tent up while ignoring the strength and courage of these people”.

Over the past two months there have been a series of major demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. Demonstrators have called for Aristide’s return and an end to the exclusion of his Fanmi Lavalas party.

Of course protesters are also angry about the slow pace of reconstruction and the six-year-old foreign occupation.

How to help

So, what should be the response of people who want to help?

Firstly, any serious reconstruction must build the Haitian government’s capacity to provide housing, education, healthcare and other social services.

Aid must be directed away from neo-liberal adjustment, sweatshop exploitation and non-governmental charity, and towards investment in Haiti’s government and public institutions.

Secondly, massive investment must be made in Haiti’s countryside, where farming has been effectively destroyed. Haitians are poverty stricken partly because foreign aid policies favour sweatshop labour over agriculture.

For example, the US dumps rice on the Haitian market. Thirty years ago, Haiti produced 90 per cent of its own rice; today it is less than 10 per cent.

Thirdly, Fanmi Lavalas should be allowed to participate in elections and Aristide to return from exile.

Only when Haitians are allowed to run their own affairs will real reconstruction begin.

Yves Engler is the co-author of Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority. His most recent book is Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid. Click here for more information.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Resist, Educate, Mobilize & Organize against Police Racial Profiling

By admin, July 9, 2010 12:31 pm

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