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following articles are from the September 15-30, 2017, issue of People's
PV Vancouver Bureau
An October 14 civic byelection in
The byelection was the outcome of a chain of events, beginning with last year’s arbitrary firing of the Vancouver School Board by then-Premier Christy Clark. The removal of nine democratically-elected school trustees was widely seen as part of a vendetta waged by Clark against the BC Teachers Federation and public education in general, going back to her days as Education minister under Liberal premier Gordon Campbell.
After the Liberals fell
short of a majority in the May 2017 provincial election, the new NDP government
moved quickly to increase education funding, and to respond to demands to
either reinstate the fired trustees or call a byelection.
The jostling for the
vacant council seat began immediately, particularly among forces which have
been strongly critical of the governing Vision
Supporters of Graves
argue that she has wider appeal across the city, and that her
inside knowledge of
By the close of
nominations, several other candidates were on the ballot. Faced with growing
public anger over their links with big developers, Vision has nominated Diego
Cardona, a 21-year-old youth and migrant organizer from the Latin American
community. The Greens, who already hold one council seat, have put forward
well-known neighborhood activist Pete Fry. Independent candidate Mary Jean Dunsdon (“Watermelon” of
This crowded field of centrist and left candidates could be tailor-made for another candidate to win with as little as thirty percent of the vote.
The right-wing NPA’s wealthier base is known for a high turnout on election day, but Pete Fry of the Greens is riding a wave of
support, since his party is perceived by many voters as a viable alternative to
the corporate-backed NPA and Vision. Among socialist-minded voters, there is
considerable frustration that
The Communist Party’s BC
Provincial Executive has endorsed Swanson, noting that her record has earned
her the support of the left. But the party’s statement on the byelection also warns that divisions among progressive
forces make it more likely that one of the parties currently on council will
win, and that unity must be a stronger consideration in
The nine school trustees
will be elected on a city-wide basis, since
There is some potential to minimize vote-splitting in the VSB race, since progressive forces have only eight candidates to back. One City has nominated two particularly strong candidates: high-profile public education activists Carrie Bercic and Erica Jaaf. COPE is running Diana Day, a well-known second-time trustee candidate with deep roots in the indigenous community. Vision has nominated three of its fired trustees - Mike Lombardi, Joy Alexander, and Allan Wong - who won wide respect for their courageous battles against Christy Clark’s efforts to create a de facto two-tier school system in British Columbia. Vision has also nominated former trustee Ken Clement, and Theodora Lamb.
Complicating this picture, the Greens have nominated three candidates, including fired trustee Janet Fraser. They will benefit from the party's popularity spike, but despite the Greens’ “progressive” image, Fraser never took a consistent position against the Liberal anti-public education policies, and the Greens have often been critical of the BC Teachers Federation.
Former trustee Jane Bouey, an outspoken opponent of the Liberal agenda during her two terms on the Board, is not running this time. Bouey is urging voters to cast a ballot for the eight One City, Vision and COPE candidates, as the best way to elect a new progressive majority on the VSB.
There will be more byelection coverage in the next issue of People’s Voice.
A recent “virtual meeting” brought together activists from across
The event was organized by individuals and organizations including Calgarians Against War and
The organizing group stated in a media release: “The
The panel included four analysts from
Miguel Figueroa, acting President of the Canadian Peace Congress, stressed that
Juan Restrepo, a community activist from the Toronto Venezuela Solidarity Committee, spoke about the significance of the Bolivarian Revolution for the region. He referred to Venezuela's important contribution to ending the conflict in Colombia, and observed the utter hypocrisy of the US/Western mainstream media coverage which gives exaggerated reports of casualties arising from the violent protests in Venezuela (invariably blamed on the Maduro government) while saying virtually nothing about the assassinations of community, labour and human rights activists by right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia, with the aim of undermining the peace process in that country.
Sarah Ali, a grassroots community organizer and digital advocacy specialist
from Toronto, spoke about the need and the possibility of building a national
digital network for solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution. She explained
how to identify and target an audience in order to raise their knowledge and
Nino Pagliccia, a spokesperson for the Frente Hugo Chavez para la Defensa de los
Pueblos, reported on the solidarity
activities undertaken by his organization, addressing broader peoples’
struggles in Latin America with a special focus on
“We cannot lose
The last speaker was Carlos Perez, a community leader involved in the local CLAP (Local Committee for the Supply and Stock) initiative, which delivers essential food items to members of the community on a bi-weekly basis. He focused on the period he called “between counter-revolution in 2015 to Revolution 2.0 in 2017.”
The 2015 reference is to when the right-wing took parliament with an overwhelming majority, but after a campaign was filled with irregularities. Carlos added, “the aim of the right wing was to force the people into civil war, and set the panorama for foreign intervention.” This had to be done through a political, media and economic war.
Maduro realized that Chavismo needed “evolutionary contingencies to protect the spiritual epicenter of the revolution.” Carlos said that Chavez’s vision for all Venezuelans through social programs like Mision Vivienda has provided homes to 1.7 million families across the country, and that the CLAP program introduced by Maduro “is an emergency measure to intervene against the sabotage affecting food and hygiene items in the marketplace.”
According to Carlos, “the Constituent Assembly took over duties to pass
legislation and work with the rest of the state powers in order to get the
political system up and running again. That is the Bolivarian Revolution 2.0
taking place in
Speaking from his community base in
The webinar was very successful and helped achieve the goal of the organizers,
to build a national network of Solidarity with
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kimball Cariou
Recent media reports indicate that the RCMP has engaged in surveillance of
Black Lives Matter
The latest revelations follow 2015 reports in the
What astounds anti-racism activists in the
The surveillance of BLM Vancouver was part of an “ops plan,” including social media monitoring of various Facebook, Twitter, and GoFundMe pages linked to the movement, allegedly to “ensure public and law enforcement safety.”
The reports involve input from the RCMP’s B.C. Hate
Crime Team, their Criminal Analysis section, and Integrated National Security
Enforcement Teams (INSETs), which monitor domestic
terrorist threats across
The RCMP told VICE News that social media tracking does not constitute
surveillance. The force claims that their actions were “a matter of conducting
due diligence, in regard to public and police officer safety,” and that “no
indications of violence” were found. The monitoring continued from mid-July,
2016, until the end of the month, during the same time period that BLM
The report concludes: “At this time there are no indications that violence will be used as a tactic.” and notes that it will be a “peaceful rally.” But in a disturbing indication of the true mentality of the police, the report was put into the category of “unfolding event – serious crime”.
No reason has been given for this classification. But the same report
containing “threat assessments” of Black Lives Matter
In fact, as VICE News points out, “there has been little indication that the
New Black Panther Party has ever been active in
There are some reports that Micah Johnson, the
Letter from Daniel Bond, president of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ, the Quebec Federation of Labour) which has 500,000 members.
Since the attack in Quebec City [the mass shooting on January 29, 2017, at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City], the events which followed remind us of the importance of our commitment to a fairer, more egalitarian and peaceful society.
The election of Donald Trump in the
The events in
The presence of similar groups in the
Sisters and brothers, in this dark context, it is even more important to roll
up our sleeves and to assert our project of a society based on the principles
of social justice, sharing and tolerance. Modern
People’s Voice Editorial
The uproar over the federal government’s move to close tax loopholes for those
who incorporate as businesses is drawing attention away from the wider topic of
tax fairness in
Last year the Liberals backed down on an election promise to close the stock
options deduction that gives almost a billion dollars annually to the wealthy.
Bowing to pressure from
Governments inevitably cry poverty when it comes to funding child care, healthcare, education, public transit, social assistance, clean drinking water for indigenous communities, etc. But they always have deep pockets to give tax breaks for the rich (or fighter-bombers for the military!).
The business incorporation loophole is relatively small, costing
Putting things in perspective, Canadians for Tax Fairness points out that this loophole pales in comparison to the capital gains exemption (costing almost $10 billion a year) or the stock options deduction mentioned above. Real tax fairness means going after the wealthy who always get a free ride from Liberal and Tory governments
People’s Voice Editorial
Recent developments in a several global hot-spots stress the need to stand in solidarity
with countries on the front lines of resistance to imperialism. At this crucial
time in human history, any temptation to sit on the sidelines pointing out real
or imagined shortcomings of those who face intense
Another example is the epic battle against
As always, the DPRK (
Rather than give unwanted advice to the peoples of these countries, our duty is to call on our own government to oppose outside intervention strategies.
Special to PV
The McNeil Liberal government of
CUPE says that Bill 148 attacks the rights of union members to fairly negotiate their collective agreements, a constitutional right of all workers protected by the Canadian Charter of Freedoms.
The same Liberals, in an open letter to union members in 2013, claimed they would like to "clarify misinformation being circulated," declaring that they "believe in the collective bargaining process, the right to strike, and protecting workers' rights, both unionized and non-unionized." The letter was signed by Premier McNeil.
"Reducing wages, taking away retirement income and attacking workers creates an environment that will not attract new workers and their families to live in this province," says McFadgen. "The premier is leading us down a dark path."
The premier says he plans to ask the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal about the constitutionality of the Bill; however, CUPE says, unions have fought and won court challenges against similar legislation in other provinces, and governments have fallen when they crossed the line on workers' rights, at the expense of taxpayers and the people who depend on public services.
"We'll be working with our members and labour in Nova Scotia to determine the next steps in response to the McNeil Government's failure to recognize the value of the work done by public sector workers," says McFadgen.
Meanwhile, nurses in
Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, said the lack of respect the Liberal government has displayed to public sector workers is worrisome.
“Nurses and other health care workers make decisions every single day to go in and work overtime. But if they feel a total lack of respect from their employer and from this government, they'll stop taking extra shifts,” she said.
Hazelton was among the leaders of seven labour groups, including the Teachers Union and the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union , who said on Sept. 6 they want to be added as participants to a legal proceeding over Bill 148, the Public Services Sustainability Act.
In 2001, nurses threatened mass resignations and a strike after the government introduced legislation that would remove their right to strike and allow cabinet to set contract terms. But Hazelton said nurses wouldn't have to resign to cripple the health care system.
“They just have to say 'I'm not coming in tonight,”' she said. “Our health care system relies on a lot of people agreeing to work overtime shifts. I'm not saying this as a threat. They'd have to close units. The more you keep taking things from people and showing a lack of respect for their union, the more disappointed and the less likely people will want to help you out in a crunch.”
He said the government has taken a “divide and conquer” approach to workers, which is driving a wedge between union and non-union Nova Scotians. “It's divisive,” Cavanagh said. “Everyone deserves to have a pension and retire with dignity.”
The recent meeting of the Unifor Canadian Council, held August 18-20 in
Here is the text of the approved Resolution No. 5, “Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.”
WHEREAS article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to territory it occupies; and
WHEREAS the International Court of Justice
has ruled that
WHEREAS Israeli settlement expansions in the
OPT are an undeniable obstacle to the
WHEREAS Canada and other nations have previously succeeded in ensuring respect for human rights through the use of economic and political sanctions, including in the case of South Africa; and
WHEREAS the Liberal and Conservative parties recently supported a motion ‘condemning’ attempts by Canadians to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement; and
WHEREAS nothing in this resolution condones the use of force against innocent civilians or other human rights violations by either side in the conflict;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Unifor supports the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (“BDS”) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT; and
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Unifor will support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the OPT, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state; and
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Unifor opposes all efforts to prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS.
Respectfully Submitted By: Local 222
Public Sector Workers Club CPC,
Since 1997, public sector union density has modestly increased from about 70% to 72% of total public sector employees. With a significant increase in public sector employment also occurring over that period, there has been an increase in public sector union coverage from 652,000 to 943,000 employees – about a 47% increase in 19 years.
That still leaves another 363,000 unorganized public sector employees. Assuming that 10% of public sector employees are management (130,000) then there would be roughly 233,000 public sector workers still to organize in the province. In other words, maximum public sector union growth is about 25% (assuming no further increases in public sector employment).
In contrast, there are still about 4 million private sector workers who do not
have union coverage – almost seven times the current level of private sector
union coverage. Consequently, there are currently about 50% more public sector
workers with union coverage in the province than private sector workers in
Union coverage in
As far as the public sector is concerned there are two basic ways to increase unionization.
1] Increase Public Sector Employment: Part
of the low level of union coverage in
2] Increase the relatively low level of unionization
of public sector workers in
It's not clear why public sector union density has been consistently lower than
the rest of
Surprisingly, private sector unionization is also lower in
While total private sector employee coverage in
If manufacture had maintained the 34.5% unionization level that it had in 1997,
there would be another 100,000 unionized workers in
More success has been achieved in the construction sector. Unionized construction workers are now almost as numerous as unionized manufacturing workers, having almost doubled their numbers since 1997. Employment in construction has increased significantly and the unions have kept up with the growth by keeping the rate of unionization steady (unlike most other private sector industries which saw a decline in the rate of unionization since 1997). Employment in “business, building and other services” has also grown quickly and the density of unionization in that sector has also increased—but it still remains at only 13.6%.
The labour movement has fundamentally changed in the last twenty years. There are still significant opportunities to grow public sector unionization, but a vital task for everyone to increase private sector unionization. While the last twenty years have been difficult, some successes have been achieved and other opportunities exist.
From the Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said in
her speech about
The logic offered by Minister Freeland for this move is not compelling. A key
point from her speech is that the
In fact, the government of the
The majority of the announced spending will be for fighter jets and war ships, with a 5% proposed increase in sailors, soldiers, and air force personnel (about 5,000 regular and reserve personnel all told). The next five years of the new plan propose an increase of $6.6 billion in spending with much greater increases happening in subsequent years. No explanation has yet been offered as to whether budget cuts to other departments, or an increased deficit, will pay for this increase in military spending.
The new defence policy is primarily focused on
offensive capabilities, rather than supporting
There are many uncertainties at this point. For instance, will this new money
actually materialize? The bulk of it is not guaranteed by any means, and is
contingent on future governments continuing to support this policy direction.
Also, we don’t know how much the military equipment
It’s disturbing that such a major policy shift was not an election issue. If
any government department’s budget was to be raised by more than 70%, that
should have been a significant part of the Liberal campaign platform, if not
the single cornerstone policy. Forthrightness about policy plans would have
allowed Canadians to learn about this significant issue and decide whether or
not they support it. As it stands, there have not been parliamentary, much less
public, debates about increasing
Canadian Friends Service Committee is continuing to track this issue, while supporting a Department of Peace as a way to constructively engage on the world scene and avoid needing the “hard power” the Minister of Foreign Affairs has focused on.
(For more information, and to see the footnote links for statistics and other details in this commentary, visit http://quakerservice.ca/news/our-questions-about-canadas-defence-budget/\)
By Nora Loreto, Canadian Association of Labour Media
In Charlottesville, Virginia, when a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-racist
activists killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19
others, many people linked that tactic to recent terror attacks, especially in
Europe. Indeed, driving a truck into a crowd of protesters has become a favoured tactic for some who seek to murder. So much so
"The attacks in
For labour activists, seeing a car drive into protesters is a strong reminder of the routine danger that workers face when they walk a picket line. That, when your body is on the line to force a company to slow down or close, the likelihood of injury from a car driving into you is very high.
Back in 2006, when
Cars are dangerous, especially when used as a weapon. As protests have grown in
This has triggered Republicans in other states to try to pass similar pieces of
There's no doubt that these laws are being passed with protests coordinated by Black Lives Matter and other civil rights movements in mind. Criminalizing and crushing dissent through any means necessary is nothing new.
Fascism is nothing new either, and the connection between the rise in the alt-right and the power of organized labour goes far beyond the similarities of tactics employed by individuals who seek to cause harm. Labour's principal role in a democratic society is to be a counterbalancing political force to power, both the economic power of the bosses and the political power of the state.
Trade unions were at the epicentre of the fight
against fascism in
Crushing trade unions was also critical to Hitler's rise. Even before the Nazis were installed as the state government in July 1933, he jailed union leaders, had his police take over union offices and seized their assets. He forced them to merge with the Nazi party, ending independent trade unionism.
As a democratic and independent voice of workers, it's obvious why the labour movement poses a threat to leaders with dictatorial tendencies. With resources, internal democratic structures, access to people and communities and various platforms, they are a critical node in the fight against fascism.
But it's been social movements, especially Black Lives Matter that have been doing the heaviest lifting in the current iteration of this struggle. With union density of just 10.4 per cent, perhaps it's unfair to expect the labour movement to be the standard bearer against fascism.
Mass mobilizations against fascism, both expressions of it in the streets and within the White House remind us that organized resistance remains our best chance at defending democracy and confronting state power. This is as true today as it ever has been. While AFL-CIO representatives Richard Trumka and Thea Lee resigned yesterday from Donald Trump's manufacturing council, the question must be asked: why were they ever there in the first place?
Too much of organized labour has forgotten that the primary role of unions goes far beyond dues-paying members. That people power manifests in various ways, but none so powerful, resourced and broad as the labour movement. Trade unionists should be arm-in-arm with Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist organizations. They should be supplying advice and tools to topple monuments. They should co-ordinate food, sound systems and a political analysis that cuts through the right-wing, divisive rhetoric that has seemingly confused some among the working class.
They need to hold the spot in social democracy that they're supposed to hold.
Cuba-U.S. Relations-Obama and Beyond, by Arnold August, Fernwood Publishing, (2017), review by Nino Pagliccia
A new book by Canadian journalist and political scientist,
There is no doubt that August does not trust imperialism either.
The main focus of the book is an informed assessment of the scope and impact of
the historic three-day visit to
Much of the content presented in the book is based on articles written by the
author in recent years, which shows August’s
long-standing study, research and foresight about many aspects of
Throughout the book one gets the feeling that the author writes from a solid Cuban standpoint, as someone who has close knowledge of current events in the country and follows its political pulse. This does not make it a biased book, rather one that gives Cubans a voice that has been silenced by the Western media for almost 60 years. This personal perception is corroborated by a full chapter dedicated to interviews with five Cuban authors and analysts who are active writers and bloggers, and who “contribute one or more specific perspectives” on Cuba-U.S. relations.
From them we hear, for instance, about the “hegemonic status of the
Another analyst interviewed by August alerts us more explicitly, “Obama is
engaging with civil society with a view to identifying the sectors that will
come on board with the changes to
It is precisely because of this “new” engagement with Cuban civil society and
individuals, much more prominent through the wider use of the Internet among
Cubans, that the author refers repeatedly to the perceived danger of cultural
aggression as the ultimate weapon to undermine the Revolution. The notion of
cultural aggression is not new, but it is much more recognizable now as a
serious challenge for
August writes: “The point of view that refuses to recognize the reality of the
cultural war and pretends that it somehow disappeared with the Cold War, or
17D, has now in effect merged into the cultural aggression against
August is clearly not neutral. As a French Canadian he is quite well versed on the threats of a dominant culture. He goes on to write, “The danger is amplified because the defence of the Obama policy increasingly exists both on and off the island, and they rely heavily on each other.”
In addition to the more obvious danger of an incipient “private sector” that could be easily co-opted by the U.S. to undermine the socialist system, August also refers to the subtler World Learning initiative for “leadership” training launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development as moving “from aggression to seduction” of Cuban youth.
It is not a secret that within
The book was published before we learned of U.S. President Trump’s
much-publicized announcement of “reversal” of Obama’s policies towards
Will this push some Cubans to “miss” Obama’s rhetoric about
At this particular time - when Cuba fights back the continued economic challenges, and the ongoing U.S. designs on the island, when Cuba brings about the necessary changes established by the Lineamientos (Guidelines), when Cuba moves towards its new social economic model while preserving the socialist system, and when Cuba is about to experience the first government without the historical leadership of the revolution to take place in 2018 - those of us in the Cuba solidarity movement must be alert but never fail to trust that Cubans are at the frontline of the Revolution. In order to do that we must support and rally for strong unity while the dialogue and debates will continue on and off the island.
Canadian Network on
Hurricane Irma menaced and devastated the eastern and northern Caribbean, striking
While we are confident that the Cuban people will overcome any challenges posed
In recent years, the CNC has had a series of successful Hurricane Relief
Campaigns. The most recent was in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew struck eastern
In 2017, as
Our experience with regard to
Even at this difficult time, in the midst of Hurricane Irma’s havoc, Cuba’s deep internationalist spirit has once again been profoundly demonstrated by the sending of more than 750 Cuban health workers to Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and the Bahamas.
As in past campaigns, we hope that solidarity organizations and individuals
will generously support
Donations to the Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign can be made by mailing cheques made out to the Canadian Network On Cuba to: CNC Hurricane Relief, 56 Riverwood Terrace Bolton, ON L7E 1S4. Please write "CNC Hurricane Irma Relief Fund" on your cheque's memo line.
-Isaac Saney, CNC National Spokesperson, September 10, 2017