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following articles are from the November 16-30, 2016, issue of People's
Statement on the
election of Donald Trump marks an extremely dangerous shift, that threatens
peace, democracy and sovereignty abroad, and labour,
civil, social, and equality rights in the
We are witnessing the rise of a far right political movement similar to several
European countries with all of the violent racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia
that goes with it. Marine Le Pen of
Most Republican electors cast a vote for Trump, despite earlier repudiations by
many prominent party leaders. At the end of the campaign, most of them rallied
for Trump and for the Republican candidates for Congress and Senate. Other
factors included a relatively low turnout, racist voter suppression tactics,
the electoral college system which helped Trump win despite a lower share of
the popular vote, and the wide prevalence of misogynist and sexist views in the
But Trump’s victory also resulted from the inability of Hillary Clinton’s
campaign to hold together the broad coalition of forces that led to Barack
Obama’s election in 2008 and re-election in 2012, including Black and Hispanic
voters, women, labour, and youth. In this
campaign, the turnout by Black Americans was significantly lower. A similar
albeit narrower coalition had coalesced
around Bernie Sanders, a self-styled “democratic socialist.” After Sanders’
candidacy for the Democratic nomination was defeated, many of his supporters
opted to stay home even though the Democratic platform included some of his
policies. Others voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, or other third
party candidates, rather than support
In the process, the Clinton campaign helped Trump build up his image as an
outsider, beholden to no-one, though he was in fact heavily financed and
supported by the Breitbart group and alt.right movements, the Tea Party, the religious right,
the KKK, the military, police, and secret service, and by reactionary corporate
interests who undoubtedly helped to finance the campaign behind the scenes.
Trump has never been the lone cowboy he claims to be, either financially or
politically. He is the front man for the ultra-right corporate and fascist
forces in the
The ongoing capitalist crisis since 2008, combined with systematic de-industrialization, plant closures and job losses resulting from global capitalist trade deals such as NAFTA and the upcoming TPP, has created a tipping point. Unwilling to continue with the status quo, working people have become increasingly angry and bitter, demanding change.
The field was wide open for the demagogic ultra-right to offer their alternative: attacks on immigrants, racialized communities, Muslims, women, and unidentified elites, including trade unions and equality seeking groups and legislation blamed for the crisis in the country. “Make America Great Again” was Trump's broad stroke promise to improve the lives of unemployed and unorganized sections of the white (male) working class and ruined small business people, and to wreak revenge on those held responsible for their situation.
Trump’s promises to create jobs and raise living standards are fantasies for
the public. His agenda is to lower corporate taxes, eliminate regulation of
corporations and banks, slash education and healthcare, privatize public assets
and services, scrap civil, labour, equality and democratic
rights, expel immigrants, repeal "Obamacare",
appoint judges who will attack reproductive rights, and rip up the Paris
Accords and other efforts to tackle climate change. He will be in charge of the
Living next door to the tiger,
Facing this onslaught, working people in
By Kimball Cariou
The August 9 shooting death of Colten Boushie, a resident of the Red Pheasant reserve in northern
Recent details about the killing of Colten Boushie were reported by the Globe and Mail's Joe Friesen, based on police documents and interviews with the families involved in this case.
Unfortunately, until recent years it has been relatively rare for the
mainstream media in
As anyone familiar with Canadian history knows, what happened next was sickeningly common. While four uniformed RCMP officers approached the family trailer, others stood watch outside, weapons drawn and scanning the property. Witnesses say the police were "prepared for trouble." The officers entered the home, searched each room with flashlights, and accused Baptiste of having been drinking.
And there you have it. Why should the RCMP officers have been "prepared
for trouble?" Because the RCMP was actually founded on the ideology that
"Indians are trouble." The force was created shortly after Canadian
confederation, with the mandate to help subdue the First Nations and Metis peoples while a massive influx of European settlers
began to arrive. Unfair treaties were signed, the enormous buffalo herds were
slaughtered (mainly south of the 49th parallel by US soldiers), and the vast
So it's not surprising that when the RCMP arrived at the home of a young man shot by a white farmer, their attitude was that they were now in hostile territory. Did they act in the same fashion at the farm where Boushie was killed? Of course not, even though the only armed person in this case lived on that farm.
The rest of Friesen's account is utterly heartbreaking. "Ms. Baptiste couldn’t comprehend what she was hearing. Colten was the gentle one, the optimist, the one who persevered when his crippled arm briefly prevented him from working. He was a ceremonial fire keeper whose certificates of good citizenship she’d kept in a folder since he was five. She let out a scream so urgent and anguished that those who heard it recall it with a shudder. She fell to her knees right there on the porch..."
The RCMP have not provided a detailed response to the complaints raised by Colten’s family, saying only that "full details will be released through court proceedings.”
A preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to put
Gerald Stanley on trial is set for January. Among some white farmers in
But there will be no case brought against the RCMP officers who mistreated the family of Colten Boushie, displaying the racist attitudes of an occupying colonial army. And that is perhaps the most terrible thing about this case: it reflects the real "Canadian values" which are widely accepted as the norm in our society.
(An earlier version of this commentary appeared in Radical Desi magazine.)
PV Quebec Bureau
During last year’s election, the Trudeau Liberals promised to table legislative revisions to Bill C-51 in Parliament and then conduct an extensive public consultation. One year later, the Liberals have reversed the process.
This minor political maneuver is hardly the first instance of the Liberals dancing around Bill C-51. When the massive omnibus bill was released in 2015 (significantly amending over five separate Acts of Parliament) they endorsed it before even reading the text. ‘Elect us, and we will make it better,’ was the promise.
Canadians, however, did not think the bill could be improved or revised. Several days of protest were held in over fifty cities across the country, demanding C-51 be scrapped. Labour and people’s movements recognized they were facing the most serious assault on democratic rights, labour rights, and civil liberties in recent times.
Last month, at the House Standing Committee on Public Safety’s hearings on Bill
“I would remind you all that the darkest periods in the history of our nation
have occurred when we have traded the liberty of our citizens for what we
perceived to be our security,” Ray added. “There is no need for this bill. ...
The RCMP does not have a good history with this sort of thing. We threw them
out of the national security business for a good reason, most of which happened
During the testimony of Adrien Welsh, an activist
with the Young Communist League, committee chair Rob Oliphant (Liberal MP for
Don Valley West) interrupted the young militant, who was speaking French, and
asked him to talk more slowly for translation. Unsettling the Chair, Welsh
pointed out that Oliphant was already conducting proceedings in English very
rapidly and speakers were allowed just three minutes to address the committee.
The hearing was conducted in the Picasso ball room at the luxury Sofitel Hotel, in
“Members of the committee, members of the public, and witnesses,” said Welsh, “I would like to start by invoking the memory of Pablo Picasso, in whose honour the room where we are meeting this evening is named. Pablo Picasso was a communist.
“My name is Adrien Walsh and I am an organizer with the Ligue de la jeunesse communiste du Québec. As such, I am persuaded that my late comrade would be as offended as I am today. He would be offended by the fact that in a room bearing his name, we have to show identification to participate in a so-called public consultation, and, to testify, members of the public have to run an obstacle course, starting with finding out the place and date of the meeting, and ending with the conclusion of these remarks, unfortunately limited to three minutes, while others enjoy all the flexibility of the committee. It would seem appropriate, in a room bearing the name of Picasso, that people are spouting words like `democracy’, at the same time as they are trying to adjust the provisions of a bill that is worthy of the regimes that caused the atrocities which prompted that artist to produce Guernica.
“I want to say clearly that I am fundamentally opposed to Bill C-51, which became the Anti-terrorism Act. No adjustment to make it more acceptable is possible. It must be immediately rejected and repealed, just as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, must be.
“The real danger comes not from these young and not-so-young people who are supposedly being radicalized - in fact, I would like someone to explain to me what that concept refers to - but rather from the radicalization of a government that is constantly more liberticidal and that, by creating a climate of hostility, would arm the enemies of freedom and democracy, whoever they may be.
“In fact, this is the spiral in which
“In fact, that climate of fear is very effective for neutralizing people who
propose social change as a long-term solution. That climate of hostility is
also very practical when it comes to justifying wars on terrorism, in
“So I will conclude by coming back to Picasso, who did not simply paint Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. He also painted doves for peace, and took part in the 1962 world congress of peace activists, the target of a bomb attack perpetrated not by foreign terrorists, but by `good Frenchmen’ who were denying the Algerians peace during that period.
“Today, if our objective were truly to prevent any threat of radicalization, we would not be discussing Bill C-51 or so-called national security; rather, we would be planning the withdrawal of the Canadian troops in Syria and everywhere else outside our country. We would be discussing the steps to take so that the people of this country, whether they are Quebecers or Indigenous people, and of whatever religion, whether Muslim or Christian, would be represented by a government that reflects their values and not those of the corporations. Thank you.”
On the Oct. 15-16 weekend, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada met in Toronto to analyze global and domestic developments since the CPC’s convention last May. The meeting adopted a political report, including the following sections on the Trudeau Liberal government’s first year in office.
The bloom is off the rose for the Liberals who have finally lost some of the broad support they have enjoyed since their election a year ago. The reasons are straightforward: lack of delivery on the promises made during the election and in the March federal budget.
Chief among them are the broken promises to Indigenous Peoples to embrace the
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to respect Aboriginal
sovereignty and the environment by opposing pipelines, fracking,
and other development on Aboriginal lands. The Liberals have lobbied hard for
the now defunct Keystone XL pipeline, indicated their strong support for the
Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, for Energy East, Line 9 in Ontario and
Quebec, and for fracking in northern BC. They have
just approved the Site C Dam on the
In response, more than 50 Indigenous nations from all over North America formed a treaty alliance “to resist the use of our respective territories and coasts in connection with the expansion of the production of the Alberta tar sands, including for the transport of such expanded production, whether by pipeline, rail or tanker.”
On September 28, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced the
government’s support for the Pacific Northwest LNG (liquefied natural gas)
project which includes a pipeline through northern BC and a plant on
During the election the Liberals also promised to advance significant investments in Aboriginal education, healthcare, housing, social programs, and job creation, very little of which has been delivered. The Assembly of First Nations, and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society have endorsed the Canadian Human Rights’ Tribunal’s court case aimed to compel the federal government to deliver equitable education and services to Aboriginal children on reserve as it does to all other children in Canada. Two orders have been issued against the government to deliver these services since January.
The government also promised to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including recognition and compensation to the survivors of the Sixties Scoop, but is still fighting class-action lawsuits against survivors.
The government has also lost public support for endorsing the inadequate climate change targets set by the Harper government, the $10 per tonne carbon tax (rising to $50 per tone in 2022), and for long delays and “consultations” on everything from the post office, to Bill C-51, electoral reform, the TPP, AND foreign policy. These look more and more like stalling tactics, rather than real public consultations, with an extraordinarily narrow focus, and very short time allowed to hear from the public...
A visit to the House of Commons by IMF Chair Christine Lagarde in September, left no doubt that the IMF sees the Liberal government and their policies of support for CETA and stimulus spending as vital on a global scale. “I very much hope Canadian economic policies would go viral” she told media.
For his part, PM Trudeau said, “What Canada offers to the world right now … characterized by populism and anti-globalization, is an approach that offers political, financial, economic, social stability, predictability and openness to globalization.”
He added that the government will offer to the Blackrock Group (one of the
biggest pools of private capital in the world) meeting in
What the PM offers is huge subsidies for the trans-national mining companies, and more struggles over Indigenous land rights and environmental concerns, along with privatization of public assets and services. This massive sell-off will also generate the capital needed to fund the promises in current and future government budgets, since corporate taxation is out of bounds (and lowering the corporate tax rate even further is still on the Liberals to-do list). The Liberals’ real agenda starts to appear.
What’s not on their agenda is good jobs in industry and manufacturing and in housing construction, higher wages, higher pensions, plant closure legislation, jobs for youth, pay and employment equity, or expansion of Employment Insurance. In fact, plant closures continue at a steady pace, along with layoffs. Low wages and precarious work, combined with soaring levels of household debt, are leading to conditions of absolute and relative impoverishment.
Instead, we need expansion of the public sector including the expansion of Medicare to include vision, dental and long term care; Pharmacare, and the nationalization of the pharmaceutical industry; a universally accessible, affordable quality public childcare system; free post-secondary education and stipends for students; an emergency program to build and repair 1 million units of affordable social housing; public investment in public infrastructure; and immediate action to provide equitable and needs-based funding for education, healthcare, housing, social programs, infrastructure and jobs to Indigenous Peoples across Canada.
Rather than corporate investment in public assets and services, we need to double the corporate tax rate, restore the capital tax, increase the capital gains tax to tax 100% of the gain, put wealth and inheritance taxes on estates over $1 million, close tax loopholes and collect unpaid and deferred corporate taxes. We need to close off access to offshore tax havens, and to nationalize the banks and insurance companies.
Instead of austerity and capitalist globalization, we need public investment in good jobs, higher wages, pensions, and higher living standards for all. We need strong universal social programs, an environmentally sustainable industrial and manufacturing policy, public ownership and control of natural and energy resources, a multi-lateral trade policy that is mutually beneficial, and a foreign policy of peace and disarmament that cuts the military budget by 75%.
That’s the stimulus spending that’s urgently needed to get the economy moving, not the fire sale of public assets and services proposed by the Liberals.
One key target of the privatizers is
Day’s challenge is not to the
Successive Liberal and Tory governments have looked the other way at provincial governments that allow extra-billing, rarely enforcing the Canada Health Act’s prohibitions on extra-billing or using its powers to withhold federal healthcare transfers to the offending provinces. Until now, extra-billing has mainly occurred as private clinics move in to charge patients for services which provincial Health ministries have de-listed from Medicare coverage.
If Day is successful, every medical service and procedure will be available for
a price, for those wealthy enough to jump the queue in the public system.
Further, the private system will take patients with easily treatable illnesses
or conditions, leaving the under-funded public system to treat patients with
complex conditions and illnesses. Doctors interested in medicine as a business
will be attracted to the private sector where the paydays are much bigger.
Before long, the public system will become chronically and fatally ill, as the
whole system is transferred into the private sector. This is what the
Clearly this vital issue cannot be left to the courts to determine without public opinion making itself heard loud and clear. The Canadian Health Coalition has intervener status in this case, and is mobilizing support across the country to defend Medicare. We should do everything we can to broaden this struggle and make the public aware of what is at stake. Mobilizations and public actions in support of Medicare can impact both the courts and parliament. Medicare is a universal social program and a right that must be defended at all costs, by all Canadians whose health and well-being depend on it.
The Liberals have put another nail in Medicare’s coffin by reducing healthcare transfers to the provinces to 3% - half of what the transfers were under the Harper government, and far less than what is needed to keep Medicare afloat. Healthcare unions are calling for restoration of transfer to 25%, and we support that demand as a first step towards the 50% of healthcare costs that the federal government should pay, leaving the other 50% to be paid by the provinces.
This spring and summer, the Liberals have launched consultations on a whole slew of issues, providing good media optics, but little real opportunity for the public to be heard. Such is the case on electoral reform. We have not been included as a presenter in the consultations, though we have filed a written brief reiterating our support for a Mixed Member Proportion system to make every vote count, without any threshold barrier to small party representation. We also indicated our view that while corporate donations should be banned, donations from trade unions should not be banned. Corporate donations represent the private for-profit interests of the corporation, while donations from unions represent the collective interests of people – workers.
Further, the financial doings of corporations are virtually impervious to access while the financial doings of trade unions are regularly reported to their members and are tightly controlled by government regulations and easily accessible to government audit. We also indicated our view that limits on expenditures by political parties should be sharply reduced; that subsidies to political parties based on votes should be eliminated; that universal door to door enumeration should be restored; that all-candidates meetings during an election should include all candidates and Leaders’ debates should include all party leaders...
We do not support the various other electoral systems being reviewed including Single Transferable Vote or Ranked Ballots, which would result in virtually the same unequal distribution of parliamentary seats as at present, and would not make every vote count. These proposals don’t reflect a democratization of the voting system. Nor do we support mandatory voting which punishes voters, rather than engaging them with meaningful policies that address important issues.
Another consultation was on the future of the post office and the review of
postal services. We have submitted our views in a brief, as well as attending
many of the consultations, where opposition to privatization plans were vocal.
Business interests were very well represented in these hearings and in others
too. We call for the restoration of door to door to delivery across
Another consultation is on National Security and Bill C-51. During the election, the Liberals promised to amend this legislation, but in fact they would be quite happy to keep it as is. Bill C-51 is a threat to civil, democratic and labour rights, allowing for arbitrary arrest and detention, secret trials, and massive spying on individuals and organizations without cause or legal justification. The rights afforded to the police under the legislation leave protesters and striking workers and their unions subject to arbitrary arrest and detention if their actions "interfere with critical infrastructure”. The public, and the labour and democratic movements must intervene to force the government to rescind this legislation.
The Liberals have yet to make known their decision on the TPP, but they have certainly embraced CETA and are encouraging their European counterparts to show the same enthusiasm for the deal. While CETA has been ratified (by the Harper government), the TPP still has to be ratified by Parliament.
Significant opposition has developed against the TTIP in Europe, and against
the TPP in the
By Pamela Palmater, November 1, 2016, www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/monitor/tpp-dead-water-without-first-nation-consent
Canada has promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as being in the “best interests” of the national economy, promising more jobs and export opportunities while claiming it will also improve social conditions, reduce poverty and include strong environmental protections. An economic impact assessment of the TPP released in September by Global Affairs Canada estimates GDP gains of about $4.3 billion by 2040 if Canada ratifies the deal, and GDP losses of $5.3 billion if it doesn’t. Both amounts are essentially rounding errors—the equivalent of a few months’ worth of normal economic growth—but that didn’t stop TPP supporters using the announcement to urge the Trudeau government to commit, sooner than later, to firmly endorsing the agreement.
Lost in all the hype is the question of whether
Canada has, once again, wrongly assumed it has the legal and political
authority to negotiate a major international free trade agreement that would
significantly impact the constitutionally and internationally protected rights
of Indigenous peoples and their lands, waters and resources without their
consent. Much of
Aboriginal title rights are protected in Section 35 of
A major part of the problem is that this deal was negotiated in secrecy by the
former Conservative government of Stephen Harper. Neither First Nations nor
Canadians were asked for their views about
In fact, the actual text of the agreement was not shared publically until
November 2015, after five years of secrecy. Keeping the negotiating details
from First Nations violated Canada’s constitutional obligations to act honourably and in good faith by sharing all relevant
information with a view to obtaining consent prior to making any decisions that
might impact rights and title. So, from the very beginning,
However, the TPP is by no means a done deal. While all 12 participating states
signed off on the text of the TPP in February 2016, it still needs to be
ratified by at least six countries, representing 85% of the TPP region’s
economic output, by February 2018 for it to take effect. Each country also has
to implement the agreement in its own legislature and there is no guarantee
Even prominent Americans like Bernie Sanders and
With regard to First Nations, the potential impacts are substantial and can’t
be remedied after the fact (i.e., after ratification). The transfer to third
parties of lands, waters, natural resources or any other property interest
(timber licences, for example) is a diminution of
Aboriginal title and requires consent. The TPP purports to establish rules
related to timber and other products extracted from Indigenous lands in
Trading relations with First Nations and negotiated treaties are the founding
blocks of the state known as
Canada acted outside of its constitutional authority when it denied First Nations information about, and access to negotiations and decision-making related to, the TPP. The government exacerbated the problem by failing to include provisions in the TPP that recognize First Nation decision-making (and benefit) over trade, while enshrining legal rights to investors that could undermine Indigenous land and food security, and sovereign governance generally.
Some UN experts point out the TPP and similar free trade and investment deals seriously threaten Indigenous land rights and natural resources, while others have denounced the TPP for how it will undermine state sovereignty and fail to protect international human rights. In undermining the capacity of states to protect Indigenous rights from being violated by transnational corporations, they argue, the TPP could lead to gross human rights violations and other significant threats to international peace and security, including negative impacts to food sources, water, health and living conditions. The evidence shows that investor–state dispute settlement cases under existing bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements can result in severe penalties when states attempt to protect the environment, food or access to medicines.
Many of these experts have collectively called for the TPP to be amended to include protections for Indigenous and human rights. Here at home, the TPP is also inconsistent with Canada’s pledge to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which protects Indigenous lands and enshrines the guarantee to free, informed and prior consent. As a result, the TPP violates the core principles and obligations of international law and Indigenous human rights and should not be ratified.
The interests at stake vis-à-vis First Nations are significant and demand a
serious consideration before the TPP gets to the debate stage in Parliament. In
fact, the legal deficiencies and potential impacts on First Nation rights are
so substantial that
While some may think this a drastic measure, one need only refer to the Northern Gateway pipeline controversy as an example of what happens when governments ignore First Nations. The Federal Court of Appeal recently held that if governments are not prepared to engage in proper consultations with First Nations, they should be prepared to watch their project approvals fail—no matter what their stated economic benefit.
If, in the words of the Court, “brief, hurried and inadequate” consultations do not suffice for a pipeline, a complete lack of consultations on an arguably more consequential Pacific free trade zone is unlikely to pass a similar legal test.
On September 22, First Nations in
It’s long past time to start talking to First Nations. The TPP is dead in the water otherwise.
People’s Voice Editorial
One of the most appalling aspects of the
Part of the problem arises from the long-term destruction of the
Today, millions of
People’s Voice Editorial
After a period of inaction, the campaign for affordable and democratic post-secondary education is gaining new momentum. The Canadian Federation of Students reports that on November 2, thousands of students demanding free education rallied on 58 campuses, in 36 cities across every province.
“Fight the Fees” marks a new stage in this struggle, particularly in
As the CFS says, “November 2 marked a point from which students will not turn back. Exorbitant tuition fees and record levels of student debt have created a crisis that demands fundamental change. The only solution is the outright elimination of tuition fees in favour of a universal system of public post-secondary education.”
A growing number of Canadians agree that education is a right, not a privilege,
and that a fully public post-secondary education is at the core of a just,
equitable and fair society. The CFS National Day of Action was backed by more
than 90 labour unions, civil society organizations
and community groups. Just as significant, the Nov. 2 organizers prioritized
the need to work in solidarity with the powerful
People’s Coalition for fundamental change.
PV Vancouver Bureau
Five hundred maritime workers and their allies rallied in
Most of those who marched to the
Maritime unions warn that corporate rights deals such as CETA and the Trans
Pacific Partnership threaten the “cabotage” rules
which govern the transport of goods. CETA would essentially bring
CETA was signed in Brussels by Justin Trudeau and EU leaders, but the deal will not take effect until ratified by the parliaments of all the countries involved, a process which remains very much in doubt.
ILWU predicts the deal would begin to pull Canadian crew from commercial vessels such as tugs, ferries and barges - and eventually from passenger ships - that sail between Canadian ports. This is done already through waivers of cabotage regulations, but CETA will mean the complete elimination of such rules.
One example of the consequences was the recent diesel fuel spill off the coast
near Bella Bella, north of
Another example is a cable-laying ship off
In a recent statement, ILWU
“Why is CETA such a bad deal for the ILWU and
“The environmental stewardship of our coasts will be forgotten; our waterways will be sailed by corporations who have no consideration for the environment and our tug boats will be operated by foreign crews who are unfamiliar with our coast nor care about our coast as much as we do.
“Under CETA and all future trade agreements there is a clause written in the
“CETA, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)
are the most recent forms of free trade agreements that have hit the news
involving Canada, and every one of those deals is unfavourable
to workers in
As Ashton concluded, “We are protecting our way of life and we intend to hold our governments accountable on `real change’ as they promised, rather than the same old way of life under the past Harper government. The ILWU is under attack, if we do not rally together to protect our seafarers it is only a matter of time until they come after the rest of us!”
By Nora Loreto, Canadian Association of Labour Media
The revelation started when La Presse discovered that the
There are two ways that one could react to this news, and both include outrage. The first is outrage over the intrusion into the privacy of journalists, who are a privileged class of individuals. The very foundation of their work requires that they not be intimidated or spied on by state security forces.
The second way to respond requires a more systemic approach. Rather than privileging any member of society, it starts from this basis: what right to police have to spy on anyone?
The latter response is less popular, though critical if we are to understand how the surveillance apparatus of the Canadian state is intimidating, shifting, manipulating and, most importantly, silencing researchers, social activists and journalists.
I know that many journalists won't like to be lumped together with anarchists. But to separate these two groups when we talk about surveillance creates a false dichotomy between people who deserve to be subjected to some level of surveillance and others who do not.
There are very good reasons to look at how these forms of surveillance work together: when laws are used to suppress citizens who express their free speech and free expression to challenge the state, it's naive to imagine that similar repression won't be used on others.
We need to consider the systemic use of surveillance because what's happening
It's also not simply isolated to
You can imagine that had they had the power to simply track Makuch's text messages to avoid all of this, they probably would have.
Canadian security forces spy on certain Canadians all the time. When I was a student activist at Ryerson a decade ago, CSIS would regularity check in with various members of our board, just to see how they were.
During the G20 in
But I wasn't arrested during the G20, and the guy that followed me didn't try to pass himself off as an activist. He just tailed me to my office. He didn't cozy up to me to pump me for information to use against me later to put me in jail
No, that treatment was left for the radical organizers, mostly anarchists who ultimately were charged, a few who landed in jail for nearly two years. Police joined organizations, became peoples' friends and participated in planning protest actions. As one friend of mine said to me right after they were exposed: "Wow, who would have suspected that the minute-taker was the cop?"
These deep intrusions into people's privacy sew fear and distrust among social activists and can upend solidarity. Police know this. But the real-life infiltration is risky and costly: it's no surprise that digital surveillance is so appealing.
The G20 was an exercise in crowd control: while the actual threat level against global leaders was very low, it offered a real-life training opportunity to practice kettling protesters, running people over with horses and bashing some heads.
And, journalists were caught up in the fray just like everyone else.
This is where the connection between surveillance of the Left, and mainstream journalists converge: the tactics used against one will be used against the other. When we get used to police carding Black Torontonians, we also get used to carding in general. That, when Indigenous activists and environmental protesters are painted as ecoterrorists, we get used to violence used against them, as if it will never be used against us too, someday.
The protests at Muskrat Falls in Labrador again reminds us: when a confrontation intensifies, journalists like Justin Brake don't get a pass just because they're present to report, rather than being present to protest.
When Bill C-51 was born, there was a general consensus that the sweeping legislation gave police too many powers, and the impact it could have on journalists was especially concerning. Harper might be gone, but the powers he gave to security forces remains.
Any legislation that can be used to spy on journalists, like Bill C-51 for example, will be used to spy on journalists. As Vice News reported earlier this week, police may be spying through the powers given to them under a law ostensibly meant to stop cyber-harassment.
(Full cynical marks for the legislator who managed to kill those two birds with this legislative stone, though.)
Legislation or practices that are used to crush social movement organizing are no different: they too will be used against journalists.
The role of journalism is to challenge power and this means that journalists are at risk of being targeted by the state. If we must decide between special status for some, versus broad protections against spying and surveillance for all, choose your side wisely. Because when we restrict the freedoms of some, we open the door for governments to restrict the freedoms of all, journalists included.
By Peter Marcus,
The 30th Biennial Convention of the Hospital Employees' Union (an affiliate of CUPE and the oldest health care union in British Columbia, representing 46,000 members) began on October 31 with solidarity greetings from Joey Hartman, President of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, and the next day from Irene Lanzinger, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour.
A presentation on the crucial Dr. Brian Day case in B.C. Superior Court was
made by Dr. Rapinder Brar
of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and Adam Lynes-Ford
of the B.C. Health Coalition, who spoke out against Day's promotion of
U.S.-style extra billing, privatization and the destruction of
Charles Fleury and Mark Hancock, Secretary Treasurer and President respectively of CUPE National, complimented HEU and its leadership and emphasized the importance of ousting the Christie Clark Liberal government and electing the NDP on May 9 next year.
Provincial NDP leader John Horgan told the 600 delegates that he would implement the $15 minimum wage and a $10 a day child care program, and eliminate the remaining parts of Bill 29, which prepared the ground for contracting out support services like housekeeping, food services and laundry in 2004. But Horgan was vague on plans to alleviate the housing and education crises, and he said nothing about public transit, pipelines, fracking and the Site C dam construction, especially as they affect the environment, farming and indigenous lands.
Health Sciences Association President Val Avery brought greetings emphasizing
the relationship between the two unions, especially against raiding by the B.C
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the
A powerful video on the Highway of Tears in northern B.C., where indigenous girls and women have gone missing, was presented along with indigenous women dancers to the music of A Tribe Called Red.
A resolution was adopted to support the CUPE red dress campaign, whereby red dresses will be displayed to draw public attention to murdered and missing women. Another proposal supporting the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was also passed.
Delegates passed resolutions on housing, addiction and mental health throughout
the province, and restoring inexpensive bus passes for those with disabilities.
The union’s Care Can't Wait Campaign was endorsed, along with a call for a
renewed cost-shared Health Accord between the provinces and the Federal
Government. Opposition to private, for profit surgical clinics and a call for
enforcement of the
Missing in the deliberations were international issues, including war and peace, and issues such as public ownership of the banks and energy. Half of the convention time was spent on internal matters such as constitutional amendments, in contrast to other unions and the houses of labour which deal with one or two amendments at a convention. One significant amendment to have conventions every three years instead of two was defeated.
There was no debate on the HEU's almost unquestioning support for the NDP, rather than a strategy of mass independent labour political action and coalition-building.
The convention elected Victor Elkins for a third term as President, and Donisa Bernardo for a sixth term as Financial Secretary by acclamation. Jennifer Whiteside was endorsed as Secretary Business Manager.
By Nino Pagliccia, November 2016
In the world of foreign policy new terminology regularly appears to describe new circumstances, but often it aims at hiding the same old events, and trying to gain the acceptance of questionable actions. It is usually the Empire doing that with its dominant language.
Take for instance the expression “collateral damage”. It is a euphemism to justify the killing of so-called “non-combatants”, really meaning “civilians”. Killing of school children has been considered “collateral damage” following indiscriminate bombings.
Some attribute the origin of the expression to the bombing in
More recently, we often hear the expression “soft coup”, especially in the
context of a new wave of regime change in
A coup d’état is the violent overthrow of a government. And there is nothing “soft” about something that is forceful and possibly against the law or criminal. In addition, a coup is likely to result in serious “collateral damage” on innocent people, civilians.
We also hear a similar phrase, “parliamentary coup”. This is even more of a contradiction. We think of a Parliament as a democratic institution of a State, or it should be. So this actually means a coup d’état that is given to another branch of the état, the State.
This is not semantics.
It is a language that is coined intentionally by some branch of the U.S. State
Department, and propagated by a compliant corporate media, to make us believe
something other than the truth, or to suggest a negative implication. It is
almost inevitable to see references to
It is a language that uses words whose meaning diverts our attention from the deeper significance.
It’s a language that aims at sanitizing events that are otherwise serious and unlawful, often, unconstitutional.
It attempts to predispose our minds to ignore what is obvious, like in a magic
show. It co-opts us to accept unlawful events or actions committed by
Not to some, but to many who take language at face value. To many who will not take the time to understand the motivation behind it.
It is imperative to question and reject the language of the empire. Once that is done, the real intentions of the colonizer will be recognized.
The motivation behind a coup is the real issue. It is not important how a coup is given, but the reason why the coup is given, and by whom. The ideology behind a coup is the true gauge.
For example, Hugo Chavez attempted a coup in
Today we are witnessing a new wave of U.S.-sponsored coups in
The ideology is always the same: brutal capitalism, imperial expansionism, political domination, economic exploitation, and land occupation.
By Sakura Saunders October 31, 2016,
from NOW Magazine,
As corporate lobbyists work behind the scenes to pressure the Trudeau government into backing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, groups organizing to stop the deal held a teach-in at Steelworker's Hall last month.
The event, organized by Leadnow, OpenMedia, Council of Canadians, Common Frontiers, United Steel Workers, Unifor, Fight for the Future and People's Climate Movement, was held to highlight the effects the 6,000-page trade agreement, which will create the world's largest “free-trade” zone, will have on everything from environmental policy to public health.
Toronto-based doctor Chetan Mehta, an attendee at the teach-in, doesn't have to look beyond his own practice to contemplate the possible impacts TPP will have on patients he treats for Hepatitis C.
His community health clinic has treated 10 people in the last year living with the highly- transmittable – and treatable – virus. Treatment for one person, a once-daily pill known by the brand name Harvoni and made by U.S. drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences, can run anywhere between $60,000 to $200,000. It's cheaper than the alternative – a full liver transplant.
But if a generic version of the drug were available, it could cost as little as $192 a treatment, according to an April 2015 study published by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
Only, Harvoni enjoys exclusive access to the
Within the WTO, African countries fought for and won exceptions to patent protections when taking measures to protect public health. Previously, a country would have had to have first attempted unsuccessfully to obtain a voluntary license from a patent holder on "reasonable commercial terms."
But push-back from countries within the WTO clarified that any nation could determine intellectual property rights in cases related to public health "without challenge." The meant countries could not be sued by pharmaceutical companies based on different interpretations on what constituted "reasonable commercial terms," or the "national emergencies" that would warrant exception to these intellectual rights.
Under current patent laws set by the WTO,
According to the pCPA, as of April 1, 2016 "these collaborative efforts between provinces and territories have resulted in 95 completed joint negotiations on brand name drugs and price reductions on 18 generic drugs. This has resulted in an estimated $712 million in combined savings annually." Harvoni is one of these drugs, although what price the province has negotiated is privileged information.
But new patent protections under the TPP would undermine the power of any country to keep these essential drug prices low.
For instance, the TPP introduces new protections on data concerning the safety and efficacy of a patented product for five years after the approval of that drug. Not allowing other manufacturers to use this data is a backdoor tactic to prevent the manufacture of generic drugs, as this information is essential to their production.
In the case of Harvoni, which was approved for commercial sale in 2014, six years after its patent application was filed, these new conditions would have delayed access to this vital information for 11 years.
What's more, the TPP raises the obstacles of what is patentable to include new formulations and uses of a known product. For example, an injectable form of a drug could trigger another 20 years of protection.
Doctors Without Borders points out that the TPP contains provisions that enable pharmaceutical companies to sue governments for compensation by claiming that public policies have deprived them of their anticipated profits.
Mehta estimates that it would cost
“I've now watched a couple patients experience liver failure and be on the brink of falling off the edge,” he explains. “I can't stomach having more of these cases because of Hep C, which is now entirely treatable.”
With patent policies already producing such obscene consequences for public
health, expanding these protections is the wrong direction to take not
a major victory for free speech, the Vancouver
Sun newspaper has been forced to issue this statement of apology to
Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), and to print the commentary below
written by the organization. “A
Independent Jewish Voices believes in human rights for everyone
Independent Jewish Voices
The Vancouver Sun published an editorial opposing the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. When IJV objected to how it was characterized in the editorial, the Sun apologized and withdrew the editorial. While we are pleased that The Sun's parent organization, Postmedia Network, agreed to remove this editorial from its websites and apologize for mischaracterizations of IJV, readers deserve an explanation of what this dispute is about.
We believe that the human rights of everyone, including Palestinians, deserve
protection. We believe that
Canadians should be aware of our view that the three demands of BDS are: ending
Israel's illegal occupation and tearing down the separation barrier that takes
away portions of Palestinian territory; providing equal rights for Israel's
Palestinian citizens; and promoting the right of Palestinian refugees to return
to their homes or receive compensation for having been forcibly displaced, as
stipulated in UN Resolution 194. IJV believes that we must use BDS to apply
IJV encourages all forms of public debate and discussion on contentious political issues relating to the situation in Israel and Palestine, including the Green Party of Canada’s debate on the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada. We believe this issue warrants further public debate and discussion.
Finally, we — as well as the Palestinian leaders of the BDS movement — insist that there is no justification for any form of racism, including antisemitism, and that the battle against real antisemitism is undermined when Israel's supporters label those who criticize Israel's discriminatory laws and policies as antisemitic.
- Independent Jewish Voices