Christy Mihos, Indepedent candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, ran this hilarious television ad dubbed "Heads Up!" as part of his unsucessful 2006 campaign. Mihos finished third, winning just 7% of the popular vote. However, if there had been an award for best TV ad, Mihos would have surely carried the day.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
His current troubles began in December when he took part in a parody of the gay
cowboy movie, Brokeback Mountain. The sketch showed Mr. Boisclair interrupting a
mock love scene between George W. Bush and Stephen Harper characters.
Rumblings in his caucus intensified last week after Mr. Boisclair mused about the crucifix and gave an interview declaring an end to the days when the PQ and the province's trade unions were "buddy-buddy, spending their evenings together at dinners washed down with plenty of wine." Union officials said it was an unfair description.
This wouldn't be the first time the leader of a separatist party in Quebec stepped down before contesting a single election as leader. BQ leader Michel Gauthier, elected leader in 1996 to replace Lucien Bouchard, faced a caucus revolt and stepped down before the 1997 federal election. He was replaced by current BQ leader Gilles Duceppe.
When the labour friendly CCF swept to power in Saskatchewan in 1944, the Douglas government remained true to the federal CCF’s constitutional vision. On issues of federal-provincial relations, Douglas was planted firmly in the centralist camp. According to Edwin Black, “this attitude stemmed from CCF fears that a socialist government at Ottawa might be thwarted in its efforts to inaugurate social reforms by provincial regimes controlled by the ‘capitalist’ parties.” Black also argued that:
"Douglas promoted the advisability of entrenching minority rights in a federal bill or rights and giving Parliament virtual carte blanche to amend the rest of the BNA Act. Unable to prevail with this argument, the Saskatchewan Premier sought continuously to reduce the areas in which unanimous provincial consent would be required to make constitutional amendments effective, and to enlarge the number of provisions which would require approval of a simple majority of the provinces."
In its 1950 brief to the federal cabinet, the CCL pressed for a National Labour Code which would establish “uniformity in the legislation governing labour relations, particularly with respect to industries of national scope.” In its brief of the same year, the TLC went one step further by urging that “all jurisdiction over matters of health, social welfare and labour relations be placed under the Federal Government and the Parliament of Canada.”
Organized labour's strong preference for a centralized federation had been consistent ever since Confederation. However, the labour movement's support of the federal power of disallowance was perhaps the best indication of how strongly it felt about the degree of centralization that was required in Canada. The constitutional power of disallowance enables the executive of the federal government to disallow provincial government laws, even if the province is acting exclusively within its own jurisdiction. Disallowance, which theoretically violates the federal principle of two separate and sovereign orders of government, had become a constitutional relic in Canada by the 1940s, but that had not prevented the Canadian labour movement from urging the federal government to use its outdated and contentious centralizing power. Quebec's anti-communist "Padlock Act" of 1937, Prince Edward Island's repressive Trade Union Act of 1948, and Newfoundland's undemocratic decertification of the International Wood Workers of America in 1959, all prompted the Canadian labour movement to call for the power of disallowance to be used against provincial governments. Needless to say, the federal government consistently declined to use its controversial power to prevent the adoption of anti-union legislation at the provincial level.
In their 1956 joint submission to the Royal Commission on Canada's Economic Prospects, the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada and the Canadian Congress of Labour, adopted a more nuanced approach to constitutional reform, stating that:
"Nothing in the Confederation Debates is clearer than that the Fathers intended and expected that Confederation should benefit all parts of the new nation. They would have repudiated instantly, and with horror, any idea that one province, one region, or one group of provinces or regions, should progress, while the others stood still or fell back."
This statement led to the suggestion that “The British North America Act has been amended to transfer jurisdiction from the provinces to Parliament in the case of unemployment insurance and old age pensions. It might conceivably be amended again if the situation warranted.”
Much of the labour movement’s centralizing tendencies during this period were influenced by Eugene Forsey who worked as research director for the CCL from 1942-1956 and for the CLC from 1956-1966. Forsey, an expert on constitutional affairs, wrote his doctoral dissertation on the King-Byng affair and used his position within the Canadian labour movement to promote his views on Canada’s constitutional questions. J.E. Hodgetts noted “one gets the impression that his colleagues in the CCL sometimes thought he misspent his time chasing constitutional exotica... Forsey, ever the independent, was always more comfortable speaking on his own account, even though he might be signing a letter in one of his many official capacities.” His view of Canada’s constitutional question closely mirrored that of the CCF; both favoured a strong central government in order to promote national economic planning and national social programs. Forsey was a member of the CCF, served as President of the party’s Quebec Provincial Council in the 1930s, and ran unsuccessfully for the party several times during his stint as research director for the CCL. Forsey’s strong ties to the labour movement and the CCF both inside and outside of Quebec go a long way in explaining why labour federations in both Quebec and English Canada did not diverge in any significant way on constitutional questions during this period. Forsey, for example, pushed for both the CCF and labour movement to advocate use of the power of disallowance, drafted detailed labour memorandums calling for centralization of labour law and social policy, and passionately defended national unity and the British constitutional tradition from the separatists and provincialists who began to make waves towards the end of his career at the CLC.
In his last year as CLC research director, Forsey gave a keynote address to the education conference of the Ontario Federation of Labour in which he argued that Quebec separation would lead to an American takeover of English Canada and the establishment of a “chilly banana republic” in Quebec. Although Forsey was careful to let delegates know “nothing I say here represents anyone but myself”, there is no question that his strong penchant for centralization rubbed off on the CLC. Although Forsey played a key role in influencing the labour movement’s take on constitutional issues, his influence did not extend to the CSN, or its predecessor, the CCCL.
Divisions Within Quebec Labour
The CCCL offered a unique perspective on constitutional questions in Canada. In its annual report to the federal cabinet in 1950, the CCCL addressed the issue of Dominion-Provincial relations and constitutional reform by asserting that “on no consideration must the constitutional independence of Canada, which we approve, mark the beginning of an encroachment on the rights of French Canadians.” Despite its support for a national system of unemployment insurance a decade earlier, the CCCL stated its firm support for provincial autonomy and also expressed the view that Quebec’s attitude toward the issue of constitutional reform was “firmer” and that its resistance was “greater” due to the province’s unique “ethnical, linguistic and religious characteristics”. The Confederation also pressed the federal cabinet to reconsider its ties to the British Empire by requesting the introduction of a new flag which would not include any “foreign emblem.” More controversial was the CCCL’s request that the federal government, in the words of the Labour Gazette, “proclaim the complete independence of Canada in order to make it an autonomous republic.”
The CCCL’s perspective on constitutional issues in Canada stood in stark contrast to the TLC-affiliated Quebec Provincial Federation of Labour. A portion of the QPFL’s annual brief to Premier Duplessis in March 1950 concerning Federal-Provincial relations was reprinted in the Labour Gazette:
"Our political leaders have placed the welfare of Canada above their political interests. We are also pleased to note that the Quebec political leaders have proved themselves to be well-informed statesmen and to be primarily seeking the interests and welfare of the Canadian people."
The QPFL’s brief reflected the Federation’s subordinate position as simply a branch of the TLC made up of American-based affiliates. Unlike the CCCL, which frequently found itself at odds with the TLC and CCL, there is no evidence to suggest that the QPFL ever contradicted the policy preferences of its parent organization. This unquestionably reflected the Federation’s weak membership base, its lack of financial resources, and its absence of ideology.
The QFIU’s positions on constitutional questions can be situated somewhere in between the fierce French Canadian nationalism of the CCCL and the QPFL’s subservience to the TLC’s strong centralism. Although the QFIU espoused a social democratic ideology, it did so within the framework of Quebec. The Federation, for example, found itself at odds with the CCL and the CCF by the supporting the Quebec government’s calls for fiscal decentralization. The QFIU also adopted the “Two Nations” conception of Canada. At the 1955 CCL convention, the QFIU proposed a resolution which would have ensured French Canadian representation on all international missions. However, the resolutions committee rebuffed the Federation by arguing that competency, rather than ethnic origin, should be the only selection criteria. Delegates to the CCL convention voted down the proposed resolution after the QFIU’s Roméo Mathieu accused the Congress of wanting francophones to be followers and not active participants. The seeds of Quebec nationalism which were taking root in the QFIU were temporarily frustrated by the merger of the Federation with the QPFL in 1957.
 Black (1975), 53.
 Black (1975), 53.
 Labour Gazette vol. 50 (1950), 639.
 Labour Gazette vol. 50 (1950), 461.
 Eugene Forsey, Freedom and Order, (Ottawa: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1974), 182.
 J.R. Mallory, The Structure of Canadian Government, (Toronto: Gage Publishing Ltd., 1984), 370.
 Richard Gwyn, Smallwood, the Unlikely Revolutionary, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1968), Chapter 18.
 Trades and Labor Congress of Canada and the Canadian Congress of Labour, Joint Submission of the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada and the Canadian Congress of Labour to the Royal Commission on Canada’s Economic Prospects, Ottawa (February 27, 1956), 3.
 Trades and Labor Congress of Canada and the Canadian Congress of Labour (February 27, 1956), 149.
 J.E. Hodgetts, The Sound of One Voice: Eugene Forsey and his Letters to the Press, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 6.
 Frank Milligan, Eugene A. Forsey: An Intellectual Biography, (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2004), Chapters 8, 9.
 Toronto Star, (Feb 14 , 1966), 9.
 Eugene Forsey “Canada, One Nation or Ten?” OFL Education conference, (Feb 12, 1966), 1.
 Labour Gazette, vol. 50 (1950), 476.
 Labour Gazette vol. 50 (1950), 468.
 Labour Gazette vol. 50 (1950), 474.
 Tremblay, (1972), 137.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Apparently, at this week’s Ontario NDP Convention in Toronto, the party unveiled some new modern slogans: "Fresh Ideas, New Energy" and "Get Orange."
Modern slogans? In the 2004 federal election, the federal NDP ran under the slogan “Fresh Ideas, New Energy”… hardly fresh, hardly new. In fact, we haven’t heard anything fresh or new come out of the Ontario NDP for quite some time.
As for “Get Orange”, I just don’t get it. When all the other parties are talking “green”, the NDP is talking “orange”?
"The cloud that we've had over Ontario for the last 20 years, `Oh that Mike Harris is a scary guy – Ernie Eves is a scary, scary guy.' I think that's gone....John Tory may be a very Tory guy, but he's not a scary Tory guy," so the "politics of fear" won't work this time and campaigns must run on real ideas.
Besides ignoring the fact that most members of the Tory caucus were elected during the Mike Harris years,and remain quite loyal to the ideas behind the Common Sense Revolution, I think Hampton has misdiagnosed the New Democratic dilemma in Ontario if he thinks that strategic voting is the primary obstacle for the NDP. I think there are bigger obstacles.
Hampton's leadership -- His personal popularity as leader has lagged behind popular support for the party since he took over from Bob Rae in 1996 (Rae was always more popular than the party). Despite being at the helm for over a decade, he has been unable to generate the kind of buzz or media attention that the party needs.
Weakened party-union relations -- The Ontario NDP's hypocritical decision to boot Buzz Hargrove from the party was just the tip of the iceberg. For the past several years, the Ontario Liberal Party has raised more money from labour unions than the NDP. By allowing party-union relations to erode further, the party risks losing an important financial and volunteer base of support.
The Legacy of the Rae Government -- Hampton is naive if he thinks Bob Rae's defection to the Liberals gives the NDP a clean slate in Ontario. After all, former Bob Rae cabinet ministers still constitute a majority of NDP MPPs - and four of them voted for the Social Contract. Policy reversals on public auto insurance, casino gambling, and common-pause day continue to plague the party with certain segments of the electorate and the party's fiscal record will not soon be forgotten.
Blaming strategic voting for the party's electoral misfortunes has been a favourite pass time of Hampton's since 1999. What he fails to appreciate is that strategic is both a cause and a product of bigger problems for the NDP. Until these larger issues are addressed in a constructive way, strategic voting will remain an obstacle for the party, reagardless of whether or not the opposition is scary.
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley has informed the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration that her department’s interim policy on same sex marriage, which did not recognize legal marriages performed in The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, South Africa, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States for immigration purposes, has been annulled.
Check out this slide show depicting American workers' struggles over the last century. In the background, folk singer Pete Seeger sings "Solidarity Forever".
Trade Unions and Constitutional Reform
As early as 1887, the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada was urging the federal government to revise the British North America Act. However, it was the British Privy Council’s controversial decision in the Snider case which renewed the labour movement’s interest in Canada’s constitutional affairs. At the 1925 TLC convention, delegates were presented with the following executive report recommendation concerning constitutional reform in Canada:
"Your executive believes that the time has arrived when amendments to the British North America Act should be secured which would give greater authority to the Dominion Parliament and bring about more centralization of our laws which vitally affect the conditions of wage earners in this country, and that it is only by such a step that any essential social reform can be brought about and made equally applicable to all citizens of Canada."
The report was adopted despite the protest of one delegate who complained “that any request which might come to the Federal Parliament should not be at the expense of the provinces.” The next year, in its brief to the federal cabinet, the TLC delegation enumerated its requests for amendments to the BNA Act:
(a) Enable necessary steps to be taken to abolish the Senate as a non-elective body and introduce such reform as would prevent the vetoing of legislation passed by the elected representatives of the people.
(b) Abolish appeals to the Privy Council and establish the Supreme Court of Canada as the highest court of appeal.
(c) To give the Federal Government the necessary power to effectively administer to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1907, and later amendments.
(d) To foster “national unity” by giving greater powers to the Federal Government to deal with social and labour legislation and particularly that covered in the recommendations and conventions of the International Labour Conferences (League of Nations).
The TLC made the same request, more or less, to the federal cabinet for the rest of the decade and throughout most of the 1930s. In 1929, the Quebec Provincial Council of Carpenters presented a successful resolution to the TLC’s convention which called on the federal government to request amendments to the BNA Act in order to accommodate the labour movement’s demand for an eight-hour work day and a forty-hour work week. The resolution did not concern itself with the Quebec Question at all.
Soon after its creation in 1927, the All-Canadian Congress of Labour joined the TLC in calling for constitutional changes. In a report to delegates at the 1929 convention, the ACCL executive wrote “The amendment of the British North America Act to enable the Dominion parliament to pass social legislation, such as unemployment insurance, is a reform which all labour organizations should endeavour to secure.” The fact that the Snider decision had overruled previous decisions by Canadian judges likely gave the labour movement the impression that its call for constitutional reform would find support in Ottawa. Canadian jurist H.E. Smith, for example, commented that “I do not think it is going too far to say that this result is the precise opposite of that which our fathers hoped and endeavoured to attain.” Despite domestic protestations from both the Canadian judiciary and the labour movement, union requests for constitutional change were ignored.
Trade unions renewed their efforts to amend the BNA Act after 1931 when Canada became an autonomous dominion within the British Empire under the terms of the Statute of Westminster. In the new political climate created by the Statute of Westminster there were calls for a new constitutional order that would strengthen the central government. Trade unions were joined in their quest for centralization by the newly formed Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). Adopted at the CCF’s first national convention, the party’s socialist “Regina Manifesto” declared that:
"The labour code should be uniform throughout the country. But the achievement of this end is difficult so long as jurisdiction over labour legislation under the BNA Act is mainly in the hands of the provinces. It is urgently necessary, therefore, that the BNA Act be amended to make such a national labour code possible."
The CCF argued that Canada’s regional and linguistic divisions, exacerbated by Canada’s federal system of government, “are unnecessary and are the result of the inherent contradictions of capitalism.” In 1935, the Royal Commission on Price Spreads, which was appointed in 1934, released its report which called for a “thorough exploration of the constitutional possibility of the enactment of Dominion labour legislation” and “the necessary amendments to the BNA Act” to attain them. After the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that certain federal social legislation is ultra vires under the terms of the BNA Act, the ACCL urged in a memorandum that:
"the matter of jurisdiction, as between the Dominion and the provinces, is one which ought to be dealt with at the earliest possible moment. It may be pointed out, without reflection upon the framers of the British North America Act, that they could not possibly have forseen the developments of modern industry, and the need for legislative control of industry which is interprovincial or national in scope. Not only the workers, but the people of Canada generally have the right to demand that the basic constitutional document of Canada be amended in such a manner as to permit the proper exercise of the will of the people through Parliament."
While the Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations deliberated between 1937 and 1940, the TLC, the ACCL, and the Railway Transportation Brotherhood all pressed, once again, for constitutional reform. The British Columbia Executive Committee of the TLC, in a brief to the provincial government, drew the attention of the provincial cabinet to:
"the need of uniform labour and social laws throughout this Dominion. It is impossible to have adequate standards of living in the face of unrestricted inter-provincial competition. The need of uniformity in labour laws must be recognized. Further, we request the Provincial Government co-operate with the Dominion Government to bring about the desired changes in the British North America Act, as exemplified by the need of a Dominion Act governing unemployment and other forms of essential social insurance."
The independent Canadian and Catholic Confederation of Labour (CCCL), in a 1939 memorandum submitted to the Quebec provincial cabinet, argued in favour of a national system of unemployment insurance. The memorandum stated specifically that the CCCL “est en faveur d’un système d’assurance chômage à base contributoire... notamment, en faveur d’une assurance chômage contributoire, établie sur le plan national...”
In its final report, the Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations declared that “The experience of the last decade is conclusive evidence that unemployment relief should be a Dominion function.” The findings of the Commission, and the subsequent adoption of federal unemployment insurance legislation, by way of constitutional amendment temporarily calmed the labour movement’s demands for amendments to the BNA Act.
 Peter H. Russell, Constitutional Odyssey: Can Canadians Become a Sovereign People? 3rd ed., (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 57.
 Labour Gazette vol. 37 (1937), 1082.
 Labour Gazette vol. 25 (1925), 894.
 Labour Gazette vol. 25 (1925), 894.
 Labour Gazette vol. 26 (1926), 337.
 Labour Gazette vol. 29 (1929), 1014.
 Labour Gazette vol. 29 (1929), 1365.
 H.E. Smith, “The Residue of Power in Canada,” (1926) 4 Can. Bar Rev. 432 at 434.
 Article 7 of the Regina Manifesto as cited in Edwin Black, Divided Loyalties: Canadian Concepts of Federalism, (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1975), 47-48.
 Lewis, David and Frank Scott, Make this your Canada: a review of C.C.F. history and policy, (Toronto: Central Canada Pub. Co. 1943), 104.
 Labour Gazette vol. 35 (1935), 408.
 Labour Gazette vol. 37 (1937), 45.
 Labour Gazette vol. 37 (1937), 171.
 Labour Gazette vol. 40 (1940), 549.
 Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations recommendations as reprinted in Labour Gazette, vol 40 (1940), 545.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
Liberal Riding Association President Predicts Liberal MPP Kim Craitor Will Lose in Niagara Falls Riding
Once again the Government of Ontario has decided to screw the "little guy" whilst trying to save its own ass. What will it amount to? My good friend Kim Craitor, MPP for Niagara Falls will be losing his job after the results are posted in the upcoming October election. That's it, that's all.
"The Savages" tells the story of an elderly man, Larry Savage, who moves to Buffalo to be closer to his estranged adult children. As the dark comedy unfolds, the son, played by Hoffman, and daughter, played by Linney, are faced with the legacy of their upbringing and the realities of family responsibilities.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
FUNDRAISING BENEFIT FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2007
These sisters have been on the cold picket lines since October 20, 2006 with no end in sight. Their ruthless employer is attempting to cripple their union . We call upon all affiliates, unionized workers and supporters to join us in fighting First Ontario Credit Union attack on organized labour and in supporting our Sisters on the picket line.
124 Bunting Rd. St. Catharines,
7:00 p.m. 'till ?
Tickets $ 5.00
( price includes beef on the bun and D/J Karaoke)
GUEST SPEAKERS :
JERRI NEW NATIONAL PRESIDENT C.O.P.E.
ANDREA HORWATH MPP, HAMILTON EAST
WAYNE SAMUELSON PRESIDENT, ONTARIO FEDERATION LABOUR
BRYAN PALMER, PROFESSOR TRENT UNIVERSITY
WAYNE GATES, PRESIDENT, C.A.W. LOCAL 199
SUE HOTTE, PRESIDENT, SCDLC
For tickets contact:Bruce Allen 905-934-6233
Sue Hotte 905-932-1646 , fax (905) 641-1646
In Hamilton area: Barb Rowell 905-560-3412
Please plan to attend a night of fun, music and unity
Imagine being held at the U.S. detention centre at Guantánamo Bay. Never fairly charged with a crime. No lawyer of your choice. No fair trial. Abused and possibly tortured. At Guantánamo, the authorities can do anything they want to you, accuse you of anything, hold you as long as they want, and secretly send you wherever they want – and you have no right to ask for help. Frightening? Yes. Wrong? Definitely.
This MSNBC report looks into Bush's "linguistic deficit" and calls on political pundits to determine whether or not George Bush is intelligent.
margin of error +/- 3.1%
margin of error +/- 3.1%
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
On the political spectrum, some of these iconic leaders weren't even close, but all shared a common vision of advancing the interests of working people.
Here are the rankings from the Globe & Mail:
Firefighters: 93 per cent.
Nurses: 87 per cent.
Pharmacists: 86 per cent.
Airline pilots: 81 per cent.
Doctors: 80 per cent.
Police officers: 69 per cent.
Teachers: 69 per cent.
Armed forces personnel: 65 per cent.
Day care workers: 61 per cent.
Accountants: 54 per cent.
Judges: 52 per cent.
Chiropractors: 49 per cent.
Financial advisers: 47 per cent.
Charitable organization employees: 41 per cent.
Environmentalists: 39 per cent.
Plumbers: 39 per cent.
People who work for religious institutions: 37 per cent.
Judicial system employees: 33 per cent.
Television and radio personalities: 29 per cent.
Real estate agents: 28 per cent.
Journalists: 26 per cent.
Lawyers: 25 per cent.
Auto mechanics: 25 per cent.
New home builders: 23 per cent.
Other members of the press: 22 per cent.
CEOs: 21 per cent.
Union leaders: 19 per cent.
Local politicians: 12 per cent.
National politicians: 7 per cent.
Car salespeople: 7 per cent.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
What I find offensive is that some Canadian politicians, including most Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats continue to not respect Quebec's right to self determination. They proved as much by supporting the Clarity Act. It's easy to tell Royal to mind her own business when it comes to Quebec's National Question, but the same principle should apply to international allies of the federalist cause and to the Rest of Canada.
For my part, I think world leaders should engage in these discussions. Would it be appropriate for Royal or another world leader to criticize Canada for its rate of child poverty, or for its treatment of aboriginal peoples? Of course it's appropriate. Would it be appropriate for Royal or another world leader to criticize the United States for its decision to invade Iraq? Of course it's appropriate. By rebuking Royal, we risk becoming hypocrites on the international scene. If we were to hold our own political leaders to the same standard, they could no longer talk about human rights abuses in China. They would have to muzzle themsleves on the issue of America's decision to invade Iraq... In short, just because most people didn't like what Royal had to say, she certainly had the right to say it.
...a number of more recent studies by American states and cities have concluded the positive effects for workers and greater consumer spending have more than offset any adverse employment effects. Other studies have found no job losses, including in San Francisco where the minimum wage rose by almost $2 overnight in 2003, and in Washington where small businesses are thriving despite a minimum wage nearly $3 higher than the national rate.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Six people made presentations, three for the status quo, two advocating a mixed proportional system, and one advocating change in general . During the audience participation portion of the meeting, most people seemed to favour a mixed proportional system.
Of the Assembly members present, Stephanie Jones of Niagara Centre riding asked presenters the best questions, openly challenging participants on their assumptions about our first-past-the-post system.
All around, it was a poorly attended, but well run meeting.
The Assembly is receiving written submissions for one more week, so if you didn't get a chance to be heard at a public meeting, send them a note letting them know what you think. Opportunities to change the electoral system don't come around very often... make your voice heard today so we can ensure that every vote counts in the future.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
According to news reports:
B'nai Brith launched an e-mail campaign calling on teachers and others to contact the union local and urge it to drop the motion, adding it ignored human rights abuses in other countries and contained no condemnation of Palestinian violence.
In the 1960’s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history.
This movement didn’t take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy
towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. Yet today few people know about the GI movement.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Sam Roberts' song "The Canadian Dream" plays in the background while a parade of young New Democrats in Saskatchewan explain their vision for the province. Although youth wings of social democratic parties are almost always to the left of the party it seems as though there is an ocean of difference between the neo-liberal record of the Saskatchewan NDP government and the progressive socialist vision of these young New Democrats.
Here are the lyrics to " The Canadian Dream"... Let's hope Lorne Calvert goes out and buys the CD.
The Canadian Dream
Went out on the street today
The Canadian Dream was as far away as it’s ever been
As it’s ever been
S.O.C.I.A.L.I.S.M.is here to stay
S.O.C.I.A.L.I.S.M. is the only way
Frozen land, frozen minds
Frozen hands and frozen time
‘Cause everything moves real slow when it’s forty below
Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards has some harsh words for Wal-Mart. Towards the end of the video, he argues that Wal-Mart is a burden on the public purse because of its unwillingness to pay medical benefits for its workers. Interestingly, he closes his speech by arguing that the United States needs to adopt a system of public universal health care.
The employer's concessionary demands include:
-THE ELIMINATION OF POST-RETIREMENT BENEFITS
-THE ELIMINATION OF MONTHLY SICK LEAVE CREDITS AND BANKED SICK LEAVE
-REDUCED VACATION TIME AND ELIMINATION OF VACATION BONUS
-ELIMINATION OF TWO PAID HOLIDAYS
-REDUCTION IN PENSION FOR NEW EMPLOYEES
-THE RIGHT TO DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF PART-TIME EMPLOYEES
Apparently, management has taken the unusually cruel step of cutting off sick leave benefits for employees who were using the benefits prior to the labour dispute.
Also, contrary to its own by-laws, the credit union postponed its annual general meeting with the help of the Ontario Ministry of Finance. By doing this, management will not have to face members of the credit union upset with how management has treated union members. And they say the state is a neutral umpire in labour relations...
See my previous post on including Elizabeth May and the Green Party in the next Leaders Debate here.
Under the Canada Elections Act, broadcasters are required to afford equitable broadcasting time to all political parties. Broadcasters are restricted from providing additional time to some parties without providing additional time to all parties. While this scheme of allotting “free time” equally to all parties appears fair on the surface, in practice it results in great inequity to small parties. This is because Canadian courts have consistently held that there is no requirement that small parties be included in leaders’ debates, and that the debates are “non-partisan,” similar to news reports, and are therefore not subject to the requirement of equitable coverage contained in the Canada Elections Act. In reaching these conclusions, it appears that Canadian courts have failed to recognize two important aspects of leaders’ debates. First, the television audience for leaders’ debates often dwarfs the audience available to any other form of political broadcasting or news reporting, and second, media exposure on that scale has been shown to factor significantly in election outcomes.
Fringe parties, unable to gain access to the debates through the Canada Elections Act, have instead turned to the Charter to seek a remedy. These efforts to date have met with failure due to the courts’ unwavering findings that the Canadian Broadcasting consortium is not a government actor, and is therefore, not required to act in accordance with the Charter. Campbell J. made a representative comment in Trieger v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that “[i]t is not the function of the government […] to dictate to the news media what they should report. The broadcasters are exercising a function that is very central to the democratic process. But it is a function that they perform quite independently of government.” However, there is some evidence that the courts have started to see the issue differently. L’Heureux-Dubé J.’s majority opinion in Haig v. Canada included the obiter comment that “it is well understood, that a philosophy of non-interference may not in all circumstances guarantee the optimal functioning of the marketplace of ideas.” This came immediately after she agreed with the appellants’ contentions that “freedom of expression must be broader than simply the right to be free from interference… the state has ‘a more affirmative role to play in the maintenance of a system of free expression.’” The court’s emerging view on this issue may be articulated soon, since the Federal Green Party has launched a judicial review of the CRTC’s most recent decision to not include the Green Party in the leadership debate.
At the provincial level, most fringe party leaders have never been invited to participate in the all-important televised leaders debates. This is a major obstacle for minor parties because, in many ways, the debate helps frame the terms of the election campaign for voters. The format provides an indispensable tool for delivering a party’s message to the widest possible number of voters. It gives an opportunity for the major parties to showcase their leaders. The importance of the debate is compounded by the fact that the ensuing spin about who won and who lost occupies the media’s time for at least a couple days afterwards. By barring minor parties from participating in these events, the media outlet hosting the debate essentially eliminates the possibility of a minor party breakthrough.
Major parties can also act as a cartel in preventing minor parties from participating by insisting on certain conditions for the debate. In provincial jurisdictions where minor parties were offered the opportunity to participate, they have, on average, electorally outperformed their counterparts in provinces where fringe parties were barred from leaders debates. For example, in 1991, the Confederation of Regions Party (CoR) was allowed to participate in the New Brunswick leaders debate and went on to win over 20% of the vote and formed the official opposition. In British Columbia’s 1996, 2001, and 2005 elections, several fringe parties participated fully in the debates and took over 10% of the vote in each of those elections. In Alberta’s 2004 election, the inclusion of the Alberta Alliance Party in the leaders’ debate helped the small right-wing fringe party win almost 10% of the vote and elect its first MLA.
For info on the Green Party's campaign to be included in the next leaders debate, click here.
 See e.g. Randal Archibold and Raymond Hernandez, “For Cheney and Edwards, It’s now a Running Debate” The New York Times (6 October, 2004) p. 31, and Jim Rutenberg “First Debate Draws Large TV audience” The New York Times (1 October 2004) p. 10 both online:
 See e.g. Libman v. Quebec (Attorney General)  3 S.C.R. 569; 151 D.L.R. (4th) 385 at para. 47.
 Trieger v, Canada Broadcasting Corpoation (1988), 54 D.L.R. (4th) 143..
 Haig v. Canada  2 S.C.R. 995; 105 D.L.R. (4th) 577 at para. 74.
 Suora note 24. at para. 73.
The United Association of Labor Educators is hosting a conference entitled "The New Faces of the American Worker: What Implications for Organized Labor?" at the National Labor College in Maryland.
CUPE 4207 is hosting a conference entitled "Building a Working Class Culture" at Brock University in St. Catharines.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
It looks like other unions may follow in the footsteps of CUPE.
The motion put forward by Jason Kunin, an English teacher and Jewish activist who has frequently criticized Israeli government policies, and Hyssam Hulays, a computer science teacher, decries "Israel's continued violation of the human rights of Palestinians." Among other things, the Toronto teachers want the union to develop classroom materials on the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and to support an international boycott of Israel. Their motion also calls on the union to press Prime Minister Stephen Harper to criticize Israel's "aggression" against Gaza and Lebanon, and to end sanctions against the Palestinians' Hamas government.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Singer song writer Gilles Vigneault interviewed on the popular Quebecois talk show "Tout le monde en parle". Vigneault, talks about politics, sovereignty, and the changing nature of Quebec.
Illinois senator Barack Obama is in the process of organizing a run for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election. However, his name is apparently causing people to confuse him with Osama Bin Laden. Sound crazy? Watch this CNN news segment via YouTube.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
2. By-elections tend to work against the party in power. Since the Greens aren't in power, they stand a better chance of winning more votes.
Three Ontario by-elections have been called for February 8, 2007. Given that the best results ever for the Greens occurred just a few months back in an Ontario riding, I thought it would be interesting to look into the races in York South-Weston, Burlington, and Markham to determine Green Party prospects. Admittedly, the federal Green Party is different from its Ontario section, but their "values" and policies are virtually identical.
I have listed below the 2003 provincial election results along with the 2006 federal election results followed by my predictions for each by-elections. You'll notice that I don't predict any major breakthroughs whatsoever for the Greens. In fact, I don't believe any Green Party candidate will crack double digits on February 8. Although Greens did finish third, ahead of the NDP, in a couple of by-elections in 2001 (Parry-Sound-Muskoka, and Vaughan-King-Aurora), the party has failed to repeat a third place finish in every provincial by-election since. I also believe that the NDP's opposition to the 25% MPP pay raise will help rally protest votes that would normally have gone to the Greens. Lastly, Green Party leader Frank DeJong is no Elizabeth May. It will be interesting to see the level of support the Greens will win without May at the helm, or as a candidate.
2006 federal result
2003 provincial result
2007 by-election prediction
2006 federal result
2003 provincial result
2007 by-election prediction
2006 federal result
2003 provincial result
2007 by-election prediction
Weirdest video ever.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Also during this period, CCCL members, frustrated with years of paternalism and conservatism, began a process of radicalization and secularization which culminated in the creation of the Confédérations des syndicats nationaux (CSN) in 1961. That year also saw the newly minted CLC develop the New Democratic Party (NDP), a more moderate and union-oriented offspring of the CCF. This event represented a clear break from the TLC’s tradition of Gomperism and entrenched the labour movement’s support for social democracy and electoral politics as a political strategy. One of the NDP’s first major accomplishments was its ability to convince the Liberal minority government of Lester Pearson to pass the Public Sector Staff Relations Act (PSSRA), which extended collective bargaining rights to civil servants. The explosion of union activity in the public sector which followed the passage of the PSSRA in 1967 combined with a nascent sense of Canadian nationalism to bolster the strength of the Canadian labour movement and significantly reduce the influence of international unions in Canada. In 1962, just under 25% of unionized workers in Canada were represented by national unions. That number increased dramatically to nearly 50% by 1978 and again to 64% by 1990. The Canadian labour movement, after a century of having been controlled by forces outside of Canada, began to chart its own course. And in doing so it moved away from continentalism and embraced a position of economic nationalism in political affairs.
The turn to economic nationalism happened to coincide with fundamental changes in industrial relations. In the mid 1970s, the post war compromise began to unravel as business and government adopted a more hardline approach to labour relations. Beginning with Trudeau’s wage and price controls, federal and provincial governments of every political stripe led an assault on trade union freedoms designed to weaken the collective strength of the labour movement. This new era of neo-liberal globalization was characterized by massive job losses in manufacturing, an increase in outsourcing and privatization, restrictions on the right to strike, increased use of back-to-work legislation, and the introduction of continental free trade.
The CLC’s all out war against the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement in the late 1980s, although ultimately unsuccessful, demonstrated the labour movement’s strength as an independent, progressive coalition builder. However, the triumph of neo-liberalism over Keynsianism in Canada has left the labour movement at a crossroads. Aware of the contradictions of neo-liberal globalization, but unwilling to challenge them in any serious way, unions in Canada have been unable to develop a coherent strategy for growth, let alone survival.
 Claude Bélanger, La théorie du roi nègre, Department of History, Marianopolis College http://www2.marianopolis.edu/quebechistory/events/nking.htm
 Laurendeau quoted in Bélanger, La théorie du roi nègre.
 Jon Peirce, Canadian Industrial Relations 2nd ed., (Toronto: Prentice Hall), 146.
 Miriam Smith, “The Canadian Labour Congress: From Continentalism to Economic Nationalism,” Studies in Political Economy, (Summer 1992) Vol. 38 pp35-60.
 Panitch and Swartz (2003), Chapter 1.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
In Quebec, this period was known as “la grande noirceur” and in the words of Carla Lipsig-Mummé, was characterized as “mature coercive integration larded with simple and devastating repression.” The Asbestos strike of 1949 best exemplified the Duplessis government’s treatment of the labour movement. In February 1949, Catholic workers in Quebec’s asbestos mines launched a six month strike. The union, which had attempted to negotiate in good faith for union security, pensions, and improved safety measures, were ordered back to work by Premier Duplessis, but resisted. The Company, with the full backing of the Premier, fought back by hiring replacement workers. The picket lines turned violent as provincial police and strikers battered one another. The striking workers quickly gained public sympathy and even enlisted the Catholic Archbishop of Montreal to their cause. When the strike ended through a mediated settlement, it was unclear whether or not the union’s strategy had been successful. Faced with an unprecedented assault on trade union freedoms, trade unionists in Quebec turned to politics as a defensive weapon against an increasingly brutal state apparatus. Violent confrontations between workers and the police at Asbestos, and the series of bitter labour disputes which followed, radicalized Quebec’s labour movement and helped to usher in a Quiet Revolution in Quebec.
Social democracy, let alone communism, had long been denounced in Quebec by the clergy and the State, who argued that it was anti-Catholic and alien to French Canadians. However, social democracy did gain a toehold in Quebec with the creation of the CCL-affiliated Quebec Federation of Industrial Unions (QFIU) in 1952. Unlike the QPFL, the QFIU did adopt a clear ideological orientation based on its industrial and nationalist roots and developed an adversarial relationship with Duplessis’ Union Nationale Regime. In 1955, the QFIU adopted its Manifeste au peuple du Québec which declared:
Alors que nous vivons dans un monde divisé en deux, soit d’une part les forces capitalistes, soit d’autre part les forces totalitaires, nous refusons de croire que nous avons à choisir entre ces deux régimes. Nous préconisons une sociale-démocratie. Nous voulons un socialisme démocratique qui respectera la propriété personnelle, les traditions et la foi des masses canadiennes-françaises.
In December 1955 the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Committee for Industrial Organizing (CIO) held a reunification convention, twenty years after industrial workers and craft workers parted ways. Years of raiding and the changing nature of work convinced both labour organizations that the interests of working people would be best served through the establishment of a single labour federation in the United States. Because international unions continued to represent the vast majority of Canadian workers, the merger movement could not help but spill over into Canada. In April 1956, the craft-based Trades and Labor Congress (TLC) and the industrial-based Canadian Congress of Labor (CCL) merged to form the CLC. The Quebec wings of both the TLC and the CCL followed suit less than a year later. The TLC-affiliated Quebec Provincial Federation of Labour (QPFL) and the CCL-affiliated Quebec Federation of Industrial Unions (QFIU) merged to form the FTQ in February 1957. By 1960, the FTQ claimed roughly 100,000 members, representing 40% of the province’s unionized workforce. Despite the fact that members of the former QPFL outnumbered former members of the QFIU, and despite the fact that Roger Provost of the former QPFL took over the leadership of the newly minted FTQ, the new union organization continued to champion the social democratic political orientation espoused most forcefully by the leadership of the former QFIU. This interesting ideological development was precipitated by the Murdochville strike, which broke out less than a month after the founding convention of the FTQ.
In March 1957, miners in Murdochville Quebec launched a seven month strike against Gaspé Copper Mines, a subsidiary of Noranda. The miners, who had joined the USWA, were striking for union recognition. The provincial government and its police force backed Noranda and the picket line became a bloody battleground between workers, the employer and the state. The newly-minted FTQ rallied around the striking miners by organizing a march on Murdochville which brought together trade union activists from every corner of the province. The government’s brutal repression politicized the new labour organization and precipitated the adoption of a more militant style of trade union politics favoured by the former QFIU, which had long advocated a social democratic opposition to Duplessis’ Union Nationale government. Despite the best efforts of the FTQ and its affiliates, after seven long months, the miners were defeated. The Murdochville strike, although ultimately unsuccessful, represented a pivotal moment in Quebec labour history because it precipitated a progressive ideological shift in the politics of the FTQ. Like the Asbestos strike before it, Murdochville was a rallying point for progressive forces battling the Duplessis regime in Quebec.
 Lipsig Mummé, (1980), 129.
 Tremblay (1972), 131.
 QFIU, Constitution et Manifeste politique, (Montréal, 1955), 11.
 CSN (1987), 161.