Thursday, March 29, 2007

MC Karl Rove Raps

Perhaps the creepiest thing you will ever see.

Don't Trust Your Boss? You're Not Alone

A new study suggests that the majority of Canadian workers do not trust their boss.

Watson Wyatt found in a survey of 3,000 Canadians that only 44 per cent trust their company's leadership, “with the levels of trust dropping substantially at lower levels of the organization.”

Furthermore, only 43 per cent of survey respondents said their leaders respond with straight answers.

“The findings clearly indicate there is room for improvement in establishing effective two-way communication with employees, in order to generate a higher level of employee motivation and commitment,” said Debra Horsfield, practice leader in organizational effectiveness at Watson Wyatt.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dennis Kucinich for President 2008

Sadly, a real progressive like Dennis Kucinich, has little hope of winning the Democratic nomination. Hopefully, this Ohio politician will help keep the field of candidates honest.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Future of Quebec Solidaire

Although Quebec Solidaire received very little election coverage in the mainstream media, its dismal performance in the March 26 election was certainly noteworthy. After bursting on the political scene last year with an impressive by-election result in Saint Marie - Saint Jacques, the left-wing sovereignist party has failed to make major waves outside of a pair or ridings in Montreal's east end. In Mercier, Amir Khadir took 29% of the vote and finished second to Daniel Turp, the PQ candidate. Next door in Gouin, Francoise David was soundly defeated by the PQ incumbent, despite finishing second with 26% of the vote. In Saint Marie - Saint Jacques, the party fared worse than it did in the 2006 by-election. Outside of Montreal's east end, Quebec Solidaire finished out of the top three, and often found themselves behind the Green Party. In fact, on a province-wide basis, the Greens took 3.89% of the vote, compared to just 3.65% for Quebec Solidaire.

PQ members looking for a scapegoat will blame Quebec Solidaire for splitting the sovereignist and progressive vote. Although there are only a few ridings where a combined PQ-QS vote would have made a difference, it is true that the PQ did have to deploy resources differently to combat Quebec Solidaire on the left, thus preventing the party from doing a better job fighting the Liberals and ADQ. That said, if there were ever a time to eat into PQ support, it was the 2007 provincial election - but Quebec Solidaire could not deliver in any significant way outside a couple of ridings.

It may be too early to predict the demise of Quebec Solidaire. Despite its poor electoral performance in 2007, reconciliation between the left and the PQ does not appear to be an immediate priority, especially while Boisclair hangs in as leader. However, if (when) the constitutional question re-emerges as a powerful cleavage in Quebec politics expect the PQ to gobble up what remains of Quebec Solidaire. The PQ, like it or not, is regarded as THE sovereignist party. Nationalism has proven to be an incredibly powerful political force in Quebec - one that Quebec Solidaire could neither harness nor overcome while remaining in the shadows of the PQ.

Liberals Introduce New Anti-Scab Bill

So says the CBC. And they wonder why people think the Liberal Party has no principles...

Look here, here, and here for more info.

NDP Eyes Thunder Bay-Superior North

Stephane Dion's decision to boot Joe Comuzzi from caucus for indicating that he will support the federal budget has made Comuzzi's riding of Thunder Bay-Superior North target number 1 for the NDP. In 2006, Comuzzi barely held off an NDP challenge, winning the riding by fewer than 400 votes. Comuzzi was planning on retiring after this term, but his exit is strangely reminiscent of Herb Gray's in Windsor West in that local voters resented the way in which the party leadership handled their long serving local MP. The NDP had strength in the Windsor area and won the seat easily once Gray left. The party expects the same thing will happen in Thunder Bay-Superior North, a seat the party held from 1984-88. Although it is true that both the Liberals and the NDP oppose the budget, Stephane Dion and the Liberals will be the lightning rod, and without the advantage of the incumbency, it will be hard for the Liberals to hold this seat.

Monday, March 26, 2007

More on Malcolm Allen and the NDP Nomination in Welland

From today's St. Catharines Standard:

On an evening when members saluted late party legend Mel Swart and where the candidates spoke of preserving the legacies of Canada Pension Plan architect Stanley Knowles and medicare champion Tommy Douglas, the focus was on on the future and ending the longtime Liberal reign in Welland.

The homage to Swart started off with former party leader Alexa McDonough, who served as the special guest speaker to the meeting.

"It's something to think about how thrilled Mel would have been not only to be here tonight but to celebrate the first New Democrat MP in this area," she said...

..."I know with their support and all of you this riding will be orange. It will no longer be red," he declared to roaring applause.

The riding was a tight three-way contest in 2006, and he didn't waste time outlining what sets his party apart.

"I think at the end of the day, people will realize you can trade Liberals for Conservatives or Conservatives for Liberals and you end up with the same thing," he said.

He served notice to Liberal MP John Maloney, who opposed legal recognition for same-sex marriages, saying human rights and social justice apply to all people at all times....

...Allen will have to take a leave of absence from Pelham town council when the federal campaign begins.

Giuliani Time

Check out this trailer for a new (and critical) documentary on the political life of Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani.

Quebec Election Prediction

PQ 50
Liberal 49
ADQ 26

Malcolm Allen Wins NDP Nomination in Welland

Malcolm Allen, the Deputy Mayor of Pelham, and CAW activist, won the NDP nomination in Welland last night in a close race which featured three rounds of balloting. Allen was up against Jody DiBartolomeo, who ran as the NDP candidate in Welland in both the 2004 and 2006 elections; Dan Peat, an OSSTF activist; and Tom Balint, a CAW member and human rights activist.

Welland is one of a handful of seats the NDP will be targeting in the next federal election. The party came within 5% of defeating the Liberal incumbent last time, and with Liberal fortunes sinking in Ontario, this riding will be one to watch.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Quebec Liberal Party Unveils Campaign Theme Song

A Quebec Liberal performs Jean Charest's campaign theme song on the eve of election day ;-) Maybe running on tuition increases and counting on Stephen Haper to bribe voters wasn't such a good idea after all.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Québec Solidaire in Two Minutes or Less

Co-leaders Francoise David and Amir Khadir outline their party's priorities and ask voters to consider Québec Solidaire as a progressive alternative to the Liberals, PQ and ADQ.

New Progressive Blog Links

Rational reasons, Idealistic Pragmatist, and Red Menace have been added to my "what cool people read" list.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

NDP First Place in Nova Scotia Election Poll; Dexter Preferred Choice for Next Premier

A poll by CRA indicates that the Nova Scotia NDP holds a 1 point lead over the incumbent Tory government in voter support. In addition, NDP leader Darrell Dexter holds an advantage over Premier Rodney MacDonald as the preferred choice for Nova Scotia's next Premier. It's not all bad news for the Tories: voters also indicated they are "completely satisfied" or "mostly satisfied" with the MacDonald government.

Vote Intention

NDP 36%
PC 35%
Liberal 25%
Green 3%
Other 1%

Preference for next Premier

Dexter (NDP) 30%
MaDonald (PC) 27%
Next Liberal leader 16%
None/Other 7%
Don't Know 20%

Sample size: 850
Margin of error: +/- 3.4 19/20

Bush Administration Made for TV Movie

Conan O'Brien gives us a sneak peak at the cast list for the upcoming Bush adminstration made for TV movie.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Québec Solidaire Criticizes the PQ's Progressive Credentials

Francoise David argues that today's PQ is neither progressive nor feminist. According to the polls, Québec Solidaire is stalled at roughly 5% of the vote. Despite the fact that support for the party is concentrated in the east end of Montreal, the party is unlikely to win a seat with these kinds of numbers. That said, look for a couple of strong second place finishes in Mercier, Gouin, and Ste. Marie - Ste. Jacques.

Bill C-257 Anti-Scab Law Fails on Third Reading

Bill C-257, a law to ban scab labour at the federal level, was voted down in the House of Commons today. The vote at second reading was 167-101 in favour. However, at third reading, parliamentarians rejected the bill by a vote of 122-177, with the entire BQ and NDP caucuses voting in favour.

Corporate Canada's massive lobbying effort paid off and the majority of the Liberal caucus showed their true colours.

How did prominent Liberals vote on Bill C-257?

In favour:




What about the Conservatives?

Only one Conservative MP supported the bill, Jeff Watson from Essex.

As expected, the Tories overwhelmingly opposed the bill (although a handful did support it at second reading). It is interesting to note that St. Catharines MP, Rick Dykstra, one of the few Conservatives who supported the bill at second reading, decided to vote against it at third reading. Dykstra had assured local unions in Niagara that he would be supporting the bill. Organized labour in Niagara is unlikely to forget this flip flop. When Dykstra came out in support of the bill originally, many trade unionists were pleasantly surprised. Dykstra likely supported the bill to appease or neutralize the labour movement in St. Catharines, which has some political clout. Having won the St. Catharines seat by only a couple hundred votes in 2006, Dykstra was looking to make friends. However, someone with more political savvy may have informed him that organized labour was not exactly fertile ground for new Conservative votes. He clearly was pressured into changing his vote by the corporate lobby. The political fallout from Dykstra's flip flop is likely going to be significant. Why? Because unions are more willing to fight over something they had and then lost rather than something they never had in the first place. In other words, if Dykstra didn't want anti-scab legislation, he should have voted against it from the start. By extending an olive branch to unions and then using instead to beat them over the head will surely raise the ire of organized labour.

For more background info click here, here, and here.

Quebec Teachers' Unions Adopt "Anybody But" Election Strategy

The CSQ, the union representing Quebec's teachers, is asking its members to vote for anybody other than Jean Charest's Liberals or Mario Dumont's ADQ. The CSQ, the third largest trade union central in Quebec, has traditionally shied away from endorsing candidates in election campaigns. The union refrained from taking a position in the 1980 Quebec referendum, but did endorse a OUI vote in 1995. This is good news for the PQ, Quebec Solidaire, and the Greens, although it is likely to benefit the PQ the most.

From La Presse:

Le président de la CSQ, Réjean Parent, a indiqué qu'il n'était pas possible de rester neutre dans l'actuelle campagne électorale, mercredi, lors de son allocution d'ouverture des travaux du conseil général de la CSQ.

M. Parent a indiqué à ses troupes avoir sollicité des rencontres avec les cinq principales formations politiques et de n'avoir pu en rencontrer que trois, celles pour lesquelles il demande à ses membres de voter.

À ses yeux, les équipes Charest et Dumont représentent un réel danger pour l'avenir des services publics, en particulier en ce qui a trait à la santé et à l'éducation.

A Cure for Homosexuality

h/t to the Daily Dissidence

CUPE 3261 on Strike Against U of T Press

From Blackfly Magazine: "Striking U of T Press employees, earning $9.36/hour, have been replaced with scabs. They’re asking for $10/hour plus benefits, but U of T Press refuses to meet their demands."

John McCain's Straight Talk Express Derailed

Watch Republican presidential hopeful John MccCain flip-flop on Iraq, the Confederate flag, the religious right, and gay marriage.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monitor World Disasters in Real Time

The Havaria Information Service AlertMap shows world disasters in real time.

Former PSAC President Endorses Québec Solidaire

Nycole Turmel, former president of the Pubic Service Alliance of Canada, one of Canada's largest unions, has endorsed Québec solidaire. PSAC is an affiliate of the Quebec Federation of Labour, which has endorsed the PQ.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Road to the White House: Chris Rock on Presidential Hopefuls

Chris Rock ponders the chances of McCain, Giuliani, Obama and Clinton.

No Election This Spring: Boisclair

André Boisclair's decision to support the federal Conservative budget means that the BQ will also support it. As a result, Harper's minority government is safe. When was the last time the leader of a provincial opposition party had so much power?

Liberals Will Vote Against Anti-Scab Law, But Run on the Introduction of an Anti-Scab Law in the Next Election

Yes, you read the headline correctly.

More details in this previous blog entry about the recent demonstration in Niagara to protest Dion and the Liberal Flip-Flop on Bill C-257.

Also, Dion's ridiculous position on anti-scab laws was described in today's St. Catharines Standard.

Dion expects the campaigning to start for real, soon.

And among the campaign promises to come will be a new law to prevent scab labour, he said. That was Dion's answer to about 100 people who picketed the Club Roma visit to protest the Liberals withdrawing support for Bill C-257.

Due to receive third reading Wednesday, the bill would prevent the use of replacement workers during strikes.

The Liberals supported the bill during second reading, but withdrew support over concerns C-257 didn't protect essential services.

Bill supporters feel the Canadian labour code already protects essential services, however, said Bruce Allen, vice-president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 199.

Dion met with some of the protesters on Saturday, including members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, but didn't agree to support the bill.

"It's positive that he met with us, but we're by no means satisfied," Allen said outside Club Roma on Saturday, where protesters from Niagara, Hamilton and Toronto chanted slogans and waved banners.

"What would impress me is results, not cordiality."

Results will have to wait until the next election, Dion said.

The Liberal leader said the definition and protection of essential services needs to be "clarified" in any new legislation.

"We'll come back with a better bill. If there's an election before that, we'll put that commitment in our platform," he said.

Labour Delegation Meets With Stéphane Dion Over Anti-Scab Law (Bill C-257)

On Saturday March 17, 2007, the St. Catharines & District Labour Council organized a demonstration outside a Liberal fundraiser in St. Catharines to protest Stéphane Dion and the Liberal flip-flop on anti-scab legislation (bill C-257). The demonstration was very successful. In fact, we had more people on the picket lines than there were Liberals attending the fundraiser!

The demonstration was timely given that Parliament will be voting on third reading of bill C-257 on March 21, 2007. Before Dion arrived, one of his staff members approached the organizers and suggested Dion would speak to a small delegation regarding his position on anti-scab laws before addressing the party faithful.

Our delegation consisted of Ontario Federation of Labour President Wayne Samuleson, a CLC staffer, a representative from CAW 199, a strking worker from COPE 343, and yours truly.

When Dion arrived, he rolled down his back seat window to take a flyer from a demonstrator before being whisked across our picket line. The delegation was already inside waiting to meet him. We met for about ten minutes with Dion, Welland MP John Maloney, and a Liberal staffer who took notes.

The CLC staffer argued that the Liberals could not justifiably use essential services arguments to withdraw support for bill C-257, given that that one has no impact on the other.

The striking COPE 343 worker gave a personal story about her 6-month long strike and how the use of scab labour is undermining bargaining efforts.

Samuleson suggested to Dion that he could not talk about social justice with a straight face without supporting anti-scab laws.

Dion agreed to disagree with the CLC position on essential services. He then suggested that should the bill not pass, his party will commit to including in its election platform a promise to implement a federal anti-scab law that fits within the Liberal framework. The meeting then came to an end.

Dion’s response to the protest signaled to me that the Liberals have no intention of revisiting their most recent flip-flop. Instead, he made some ridiculous empty promise about including a promise to implement an anti-scab law in the next Liberal platform. I think it’s clear that Dion’s decision to shift gears on anti-scab laws has more to do with partisan politics than with the public interest. When bill C-257 passed at second reading in October 2006 by a vote of 167-101, Dion was not the party leader. As leader, Dion is out to settle some old scores. I would suggest that Dion’s flip-flop was instigated by the fact that bill C-257 was the brainchild of the Bloc Québécois, introduced as a private members’ bill by Gatineau MP Richard Nadeau. Despite the merits of anti-scab laws, supporting a BQ bill would be seen as a political liability for Dion in particular.

In effect, Dion is willing to sell out working class families on anti-scab laws for his own narrow partisan interests. It is becoming painfully clear that Stéphane Dion is not a leader.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Apple Presents the iRack

Hilarious political parody.

Quebec Election Poll: Too Close to Call

According to the most recent poll, a three-way statistical tie. What looked like a sure thing for Charest is quickly turning into a nightmare. If this trend continues, the Liberals may find themselves in third place due to their limited concentration of support in Montreal's west end.

Liberals 33%
PQ 30%
ADQ 30%
QS 4%
Greens 4%

Among Francophone voters:

ADQ 35%
PQ 34%
Liberals 24%

Pickets Prepare for Dion's Niagara Visit

St. Catharines Standard (ON)Local, Friday, March 16, 2007, p. A3

Pickets prepare for Dion's Niagara visit


Federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion will be in St. Catharines this weekend, but he won't be making any public appearances in the Garden City.

Dion will attend a Liberal fundraiser at Club Roma Saturday at 12:45 p.m. Only those with a ticket will be allowed to attend.

Elizabeth Whiting, a spokeswoman in Dion's Ottawa office, said the leader of the opposition will not be making any policy announcements during his talk.

The fundraiser will be Dion's second Niagara stop on Saturday.

At 11 a.m., he will give a speech in French, open to the public, at Club Social in Welland.

Though the Club Roma appearance is a closed-door affair, members of the St. Catharines and District Labour Council will be outside protesting the Liberals' plan to withdraw support for proposed anti-scab legislation in Bill C-257.

"In B.C. and Quebec, where anti-scab legislation exists, the length of labour disputes is reduced, as are the incidents of violence on picket lines," said Larry Savage, a professor of labour relations and political science at Brock University.

Savage, who is helping the council organize Saturday's picket, said the Liberals supported the bill during its second reading in October, but have recently decided to back away from the bill over concerns it does not exclude essential services.

"Essential services are already protected in the Canada Labour Code," Savage said. "So that is a red herring. Anti-scab legislation is about restoring fairness and balance to labour relations in Canada."

Dion's weekend stops in Niagara are part of his Canada-wide tour.

Federal Election Poll: Not Much Has Changed

Not much seems to have changed on the federal scene since the last election.

When respondents were asked who they would vote for today, the results showed little difference from about a month ago (percentage-point change from a Feb. 15-18 poll in brackets):

Conservatives: 36 per cent (+ 2)
Liberals: 31 per cent (+ 2)
NDP: 15
per cent (+ 1)
Green Party: 10 (- 2)
Bloc Quebecois: 9 (- 2)

In Quebec:

Bloc Quebecois: 36 per cent (- 7)
Conservatives: 26 per cent (+ 8 per cent)
Liberals: 22 per cent (none)
NDP: 9 per cent (+ 1)
Green Party: 7 per cent (- 2)

In Ontario:

Liberals: 41 per cent (+ 2)
Conservatives: 34 per cent (none)
NDP: 15 per cent (+ 1)
Green Party: 10 per cent (- 3)

Technical notes
Results are based on tracking among a proportionate national sample of Canadians 18 years of age or older. Interviews were conducted between March 10 and March 13, 2007. The national sample size is 1,000. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The Quebec sample is 247. The margin of error is plus or minus 6.3 percentage points. The Ontario sample is 379. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Quebec Solidaire's François Cyr on Sovereignty

Cyr gives a good summary of the arguments in favour of Quebec sovereignty before talking about his party's greassroots plan to achieve independence.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quebec Solidaire: Interesting Tidbits

Why does Alain Dubois, Quebec Solidaire candidate in Chambly, have a link to the federal NDP on his webpage?

Daniel Lévesque, former PQ riding association president in Montmorency, has quit his party and joined Quebec Solidaire.

Lévesque is following in the footsteps of Amir Khadir, spokesperson for Quebec Solidaire, who previously ran for the Bloc in Outremont in 2000.

A Country Down the Drain: More Jesus Camp

All you ever needed to know about Harry Potter, global warming, George W. Bush, and bowling.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Merry Christmas or the Ides of March?

I usually stick strictly to politics on this blog, but a few months back, I posted this comment about my neighbour's lingering X-mas decorations... Back then, I jokingly predicted that they likely wouldn't be removed until March. Well, the decorations are still there. I had forgotten about them because they were buried under the snow for the month of February, but as I arrived home tonight, with the snow melted away, I was reminded of the X-mas shrine next door. Call me bourgeois, but isn't it about time they came down?

Confederation of National Trade Unions Declares Neutrality in Quebec Election Campaign

Quebec's second largest trade union central, the Confederation of National Trade Unions, is not happy with the status quo, but isn't prepared to indicate which party it would prefer in power after the 2007 Quebec election

The CNTU has a long tradition of staying neutral in election campaigns, but normally makes it painfully clear which party is most closely aligned with the aims and objectives of the union.

Last year, the Montreal Council of the CNTU surprised some people by endorsing Quebec Solidaire candidate Manon Massée in a by-election. But the small left-wing sovereignist party cannot count on the union's support this time around. PQ members in Montreal are likely breathing a sigh of relief while QS activists are likely feeling a bit let down.

The PQ regained some of its social democratic credibility lately when the Quebec Federation of Labour came out in support of the party. Although the CNTU stopped short of endorsing the PQ, it did go out of its way to criticize the Liberals and ADQ.

Whereas party-union relations in English Canada have revolved around social democracy, party-union relations in contemporary Quebec have revolved primarily around the National Question. This is the primary explanation for the PQ-labour relationship.

Jesus Camp: Bush Mania or Child Abuse?

Check out this creepy clip from the documentary Jesus Camp.

Greenpeace Gives Major Parties a Failing Grade in Quebec Election

The environment is supposedly one of the most important public policy issues. However, according to Greenpeace, only the smaller parties in Quebec seem to have addressed the issue in a favourable way. Check out the questionnaires and report cards here. Below is the score achieved by each party.

Greens 94%

Quebec Solidaire 90%

PQ 47%

Liberals 32%

ADQ 0%

Quebec Leaders Debate: PQ Minority on the Horizon?

After watching the Quebec Leaders debate, I'd be prepared to predict a bump in the polls for the PQ at the expense of the ADQ. Boisclair exceeded expectations, Dumont's bubble was burst, and Charest fell flat. The PQ leader looked and talked like a Premier for the first time in a long time. He is certain to bring disaffected sovereignists back into the PQ camp, maybe even at the expense of Quebec Solidaire. The new left wing sovereignist party, which was excluded from the debate, currently enjoys the support of roughly 5% of the electorate - the same number of voters the PQ needs to eclipse the Liberals and move into solid minority territory.

A majority government is likely out of the question for any of the parties at this point. However, the momentum will likely shift to the PQ. If the party can hit 35% in the polls, and the ADQ can avoid a melt down, Boisclair is almost certain to become Quebec's next Premier in a minority government, and Quebecers are almost certain to avoid another referendum during his first term of office. That way, Quebecers, who don't like the Liberals, but don't want another referendum, can have their cake and eat it too.

For more analysis on the debate, click here and here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Michael Fortier Will Run in Vaudreuil-Soulanges

Conservative Cabinet Minister Michael Fortier has announced that he will run in the riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges in the next federal election. Fortier, who was appointed to cabinet by Stephen Harper despite not having run in the 2006 federal election, has had a difficult time finding a suitable riding in the Montreal area. Of course, in politics, suitable = winnable.

Fortier will need every federalist vote to win. Although the riding went Liberal in 1993, 1997, and 2007, the Bloc won in 2000 and again in 2006, despite the fact the Liberals ran Marc Garneau as a star candidate.

Here is a breakdown of previous election results in Vaudreuil-Soulanges.


BQ 43%
LIB 28%
CON 19%
NDP 6%
GRN 4%


BQ 44%
LIB 39%
CON 8%
NDP 4%
GRN 4%

The Other French Leaders Debate

Last year, Ségolène Royal, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Laurent Fabius battled it out for the French Socialist Party's nomination for the 2007 presidential election. Royal won easily, but is in for a tougher battle against Nicolas Sarkozy next month.

Pat Martin and the Death of the NDP

Winnipeg Centre NDP MP Pat Martin is right when he suggests that the New Democrats risk becoming a fringe party unless they see an electoral breakthrough in the next election. But, he's right for all the wrong reasons.

Martin is likely the most right-wing NDP MP and would prefer that the party adopt the centrist Third Way approach of Manitoba's Gary Doer. Some of use believe the party would be better served by heading sharply in the opposite direction.

What drove Martin to make these comments? Is he looking for a reason to cross the floor? Is he hoping to become a cabinet minister in a future Liberal-NDP coalition government? Is he gauging support for the idea of a merger? Or is he just sticking it to Layton?

Monday, March 12, 2007


A new labour union on the horizon

Charest drops the ball

Support for the Quebec Liberals falls at the expense of the ADQ

Vancouver labour pushes for municipal party merger

Anti-Scab Demonstration: Protest Stephane Dion and the Liberal Flop-Flop on Anti-Scab Laws

WHAT? Anti-scab demonstration

WHEN? Saturday March 17 at 11am (St. Patrick's Day)

WHERE? Club Roma (125 Vansickle Rd., St. Catharines, ON), the site of a Liberal fundraiser featuring Stephane Dion

WHY? To protest Stephane Dion and the Liberal flip flop on Bill C-257

WHO? This demonstration is being organized by the St. Catharines & District Labour Council

Sunday, March 11, 2007

New Quebec Election Poll: PQ Minority?

CROP poll cited in this article.

Liberals 33%
PQ 29%
ADQ 26%

This result would likely result in a PQ minority. There is something terribly wrong with first-past-the-post elections when a party that wins only 29% of the vote can form a government.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Friday, March 9, 2007

In Defence of Staff Unions: A Response to Eugene Plawiuk

Recently, Eugene Plawiuk blasted the unions representing the staff of CUPE National by referring to the workers as "bureaucrats" and "porkchoppers". Plawiuk's analysis is usually quite thoughtful, but in this instance, I think he missed his mark.

CUPE's staff unions have been engaging in workplace actions designed to avoid a labour dispute.
Plawiuk has no sympathy for the unions. Here's what he wrote on his blog:

These guys make an average $110,000 a year, have a paid car, get a great benefits package, have additional monies paid to them monthly as per diem's. They are permanent staff. They are the bureaucracy striking against themselves.

Plawiuk fails to mention that the potential strike is not about wages. It's about fighting concessions on pensions. How can CUPE argue in favour of pensions for its lowest paid members when it demands pension concessions from its own members?

I am sorry I am opposed to labour fakirs and porkchoppers, the guys who live off the backs of union members, being treated like other workers who go on strike. Back at the turn of last century labour organizers were paid a $1 a day. Often they supplemented their wages by also selling life and benefit insurance through fraternal orders. Today these striking bureaucrats are part of the business of business unions. Representing workers in the business of labour relations.

Why do people romanticize the good old days when people worked for a dollar? People who work for unions are workers, not bureaucrats. These workers unionize because because their employer (in this case CUPE) acts like an employer rather than a union. I remember when I used to work for a union, the President once sat me down and told me a long story about how he once worked as an organizer for months without pay for the good of the workers. The speech masked all sorts of labour relations contradictions in the union, not the least of which included huge disparities in pay between elected union officials and union staff.

There is only one union in Canada that actually has eliminated the idea of a
professional class of labour bureaucrats; that is CUPW. The Postal workers
elect their representatives at their national convention.
Being a CUPW rep
is not a permanent job , it is what is supposed to be, a member who works for
the members. Not a labour fakir bureaucrat who belongs to another union
within the union.

I think the CUPW model comes closest to meeting the ideals of union democracy, but I don't see how the CUPW example should lead us to oppose the struggle of CUPE staff unions who are fighting concessions. It is not the staff of the union that gets to decide which type of democratic structure the union will adopt - it is the members of the union who decide. I also take exception to Plawiuk's assertion that belonging to a union within a union is the stuff of business unionism. Some of Canada's biggest social unions (like CUPE) have unionized staff, and some of Canada's most renowned business unions (like CLAC) have non-union staff.

It is now up to the membership, the rank and file of CUPE to challenge the bureaucrats and their own bureaucracy to be reformed into a truly member run

It looks like thousands of rank-and-file CUPE members have already voiced their opinions - and they don't agree with Plawiuk or the President of CUPE National.

Labour Struggles of Women Workers

For International Women's Day 2007, Labour Start highlights the struggles of women workers.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Niagara Winery Fined Under Occupational Health and Safety Act

Vincor International Inc. fined $50,000 for health and safety violation

ST. CATHARINES, ON, March 8 /CNW/ - Vincor International Inc., a Niagara Falls, Ont.-based wine producer, was fined $50,000 today for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that resulted in serious hand injuries to an employee.

On August 23, 2005, a worker was attempting to clear a jam on an "uncaser machine" (a machine that forced the bottom flaps of boxes open in order to allow bottles to drop onto a conveyor and be filled with wine) when the worker's hands became entangled in the machine's drive belt. The worker suffered a broken finger tip on the left hand and lacerations and bruising to both hands. The incident occurred at the company's bottling plant at 4887 Dorchester Road in Niagara Falls.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found the uncaser machine's "interlock system" (a system of electronic devices designed to shut down the machine to prevent worker access to dangerous pinch points) was set to a bypass position which prevented the machine from shutting down when its doors were opened. The ministry also found the injured worker did not lock out the machine to ensure movement was stopped and would not start before accessing the machine to clear the jam.

Vincor International Inc. pleaded guilty, as an employer, to failing to ensure control switches or other control mechanisms were locked out and other effective necessary precautions to prevent any starting were taken when the starting of the uncaser machine could endanger a worker's safety, as required by Section 76 of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments. This was
contrary to Section 25(1)(c) of the act.

The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Donna Cowan of the Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines. In addition, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

Have Artists Replaced the PQ as the Driving Force Behind Sovereignty?

I have blogged extensively on the intersection of politics and popular music in Quebec. This short video considers whether or not the sovereignist movement has been wrestled away from politicians and is now being led by artists.

By Popular Demand... Comments

Don't be shy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

NDP Pursues Union Donations Through the Back Door

The Federal NDP has set up an innovative fundraising site aimed at labour organizations. The party is asking unions to create fundraising teams to solicit donations from rank-and-file workers. Of course, campaign finance reform has virtually banned union donations, so the party is relying on individual trade union activists to do the heavy lifting at the local level. It will be interesting to see if this grassroots strategy pays off.

Charest Flip Flops on Partition in Quebec

During a campaign stop yesterday, Quebec Premier Jean Charest declared that Quebec was not indivisible and could be partitioned after a successful YES vote in a referendum. Then, all hell broke loose. Next, his campaign circulated a press release retracting the statement and arguing instead that Quebec is indivisible. Given the Liberals are barely in majority territory, this blunder could cost Charest the election. Why? Francophone Quebecers overwhelmingly oppose partition, whether federalist or sovereignist. And since Charest was speaking in English when he argued in favour of partition, he will be seen as pandering to the anglophone minority. He already has the anglophone vote in the bag, but he needed to shore up support in francophone areas of the province in order to ensure a majority government. This could be the big nationalist break the PQ has been waiting for.

CUPE Staff Unions Set to Strike

Staff for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canada's largest union, are set to strike and they seem to have lots of support from rank-and-file CUPE members. Check out The Daily Dissidence for regular updates.

Quebec Solidaire's Amir Khadir on Tout le monde en parle: Part One

If Quebec Solidaire has a shot at any seat in the 2007 provincial election it's Mercier, where Amir Khadir is running for the party.

Quebec Solidaire's Amir Khadir on Tout le monde en parle - Part Two

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Mario Dumont on the 1995 Quebec Referendum Question

The contradiction between Mario Dumont's support for sovereingty in 1995 and his support for "autonomy" today is causing some problems for the ADQ in a party system where the constitutional question has traditionally been used as the main political cleavage. In an attempt to justify their party's shift in preference, some ADQ candidates are arguing that the 1995 referendum question was confusing and unclear. Apparently, their leader disagrees.

ADQ Leader Holds Impressive Lead in Home Riding

Le Devoir is reporting that a poll conducted Léger Marketing in Mario Dumont's riding of Riviere du Loup, gives the ADQ leader an impressive lead over his Liberal and PQ opponents.

ADQ 51%
Liberal 34%
PQ 14%

Political pundits were predicting that Dumont would be in for a tough fight against popular Riviere du Loup mayor Jean D'Amour, who is running for the Liberals. Although D'Amour is likely headed for a crushing defeat, he has managed to eat into ADQ support- Dumont took 57% of the vote in Riviere du Loup in the 2003 provinical election.

Is Lorne Calvert's Saskatchewan NDP Government a Lost Cause?

It is widely expected that Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert will call an election in 2007. Prairie Fire has a written a good summary of what the beleaguered Saskatchewan NDP is facing going into an election.

PQ's Demise Greatly Exaggerated

Let's face it, things are not going well for the Parti Québécois. Their campaign doesn't seem to be taking off and some pundits suggest the PQ might come third – a result that would be, at best, humbling or, at worst, humiliating. But will the PQ disappear?

Everyone interested in Quebec politics should read this excellent article by Pierre Martin.

Interactive Electoral College Map for the 2008 Presidential Election is an interactive Electoral College map for 2008 and a history of Presidential elections in the United States. Since electoral votes are generally allocated on an "all or none" basis by state, the election of a U.S President is about winning the popular vote in enough states to achieve 270 electoral votes, a majority of the 538 that are available. It is not about getting the most overall popular votes, as we saw in the 2000 election, when the electoral vote winner (Bush) and the popular vote winner (Gore) were different.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The End of Blogging Dippers?

It looks like the Blogging Dippers will be shut down... or maybe not. Like McClelland, I'm not a member of the NDP, so I don't see how the party intends to dismantle the Blogging Dippers. If anything, the party could create a parallel blog roll, but what would that mean for those of us who aren't card carrying members? Maybe we would become the Blogging Waffle.

McGuinty Will Not Fight Religious Discrimination in Education

McGuinty dances around a question concerning religious discrimination in Ontario before ultimately dismissing it. Now, more than ever, we need a single secular public school system in Ontario.

Quebec Election Seat Projection

Check out this site to project the results of the 2007 Quebec election based on individual polls. The current prediction has the Liberals and PQ tied at 50 seats each with the ADQ winning 25 seats.

Quebec Election Poll Predicts Minority

Liberals 36%
PQ 29%
ADQ 25%
QS 5%
Vert 5%

2007 Quebec Election Humour

Le Chevreuil Observateur takes on the PQ, Quebec Solidaire, Jean Charest's Liberals, and Mario Dumont's ADQ.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

NDP MPP Andrea Horwath Speaks at Rally for COPE 343 Members

Striking Credit Union Workers in Hamilton held a large rally on the weekend. Hamilton East MPP Andrea Horwath blasts the management of FirstOntario Credit Union for its treatment of striking workers.

Politics and Popular Music in Quebec: Super Mario

LocoLocass' "Super Mario", a protest song against Mario Dumont's ADQ, was released in time for the 2003 provincial election as a response to the ADQ's surge in the polls. Looks like history may be repeating itself. Let's hop Dumont's right-wing party crashes and burns again.


loco locass on refait surface
le temps dla campagne on arrive en ville
faut kla toune a spin pour contrer le spin
de la droite adroite
ouais!!! sa suffit les pirouette des idéologies
girouette qu'ici j'ai les bras long pis jtombe a bras raccourcis
sur geranium premier pis les gros légume du partie
chikichak awaye la sauce

Parti vire-capot, parti sur les chapeaux d’roues
Qui roule maintenant sur la jante des lendemains qui déchantent
La chute est touchante, même un brin méchante
Sans roue de secours pour sa flat tax
En cours de route la transmission claque
Faudrait p’t’être changer d’cap Flic flac !
D’image de marque S’mettre une cravate, s’faire socio-démocrate
Non ! En route pour la cour à scrap !

D’instinct ch’us distinct
J’ch’te dis ch’t’un dissident d’ici
Pas ben distingué
Mais je sais distinguer
Même quand elle est bien fringuée
La droite de la gauche
Tu trouves ça beau les gros sabots du petit nabot
C’est vrai qu’il est jeune et beau
Stoïque au max comme Stoïko
Il excelle au triple axel en badinage artistique
Il est retors et simplet
Sa rhétorique adroite, à droite, plaît plus que les laïus des vieux renards en complet

Changement ! Changement ! On veut du changement !
Quitte à confier au lévrier les leviers du clapier
N’importe quoi pour les Québécois pourvu qu’on soit dans l’champ

Depuis qu’t’as dropé ton drapeau
Tu sais pus quoi faire de ta peau
Ça fait qu’tu fais comme le troupeau
Pis tu joues à Super Mario
Or, tant qu’tu trippes à tribord, tu seras jamais de mon bord
Parce qu’en mon fort, ch’us pas d’accord
De flusher par dessus bord les efforts qu’on a fait pour devenir plus forts
Moi j’trouve que l’État c’est rien qu’un gros tas bêta
Dont le résultat est un duplicata d’errata
Pis toé t’es dépité pis t’es piteux pis tu voudrais des députés pas putes et réputés
Mais c’est pas tant les vieux partis pourris que ta pathétique apathie
Pis ton hypothétique et petit appétit qui aplatit ta patrie pis ton pays

J’mange pas d’ce pain-là, livide et sans levain, y’a rien à faire ça tient pas au corps
Ça bouche pas d’coin, moi j’ai plus qu’un creux, qu’une faim, là c’t’un vide ou un ravin :
L’envie d’être enfin souverain dévore mes intestins, va voir
« Les gens veulent pas savoir ils veulent croire »
OK, t’as pas tout à fait tort mais quoi croire ? ça c’t’une autre histoire
Tu m’fais pas rêver ou à ma mort avec ton moratoire
Plus question d’parler d’constitution ou su’l marché noir
Devant cette stratégie débilitante
Ma plume militante, vigilante, diligente, zélée, jamais dilettante
Illico ridiculise les tenants, tenantes
De la lilliputienne politique du dirigeant qui scande :

Comme la gangrène dans les veines
Une mauvaise graine dans la plaine
Aurais-tu l’ADQ dans l’ADN, man ?

Quebec Federation of Labour Backs PQ

In an interesting move, the Quebec Federation of Labour has voted, almost unanimously, to back the PQ in the 2007 election.

Although organized labour has shared a closer relationship to the PQ than any other party, the move is interesting given Boisclair's recent comments on unions.

The FTQ’s 2004 convention, in a policy paper entitled “Présents sur tous les Fronts”, reaffirmed its commitment to operating with complete political independence in the realm of electoral politics. After amending its constitution to sever its official ties to the NDP in 1971, the FTQ has chosen to endorse parties in elections on a case-by-case basis. Since 1988, the FTQ has required a special convention resolution in order to endorse a political party in a provincial election campaign. In the 2003 Quebec provincial election, for example, the FTQ chose not to endorse a party and instead ran a third party campaign against the upstart ADQ. The FTQ, along with all labour centrals in Quebec, has been loathe to identify or associate too closely with a party for fear of jeopardizing its independence in political affairs.

The FTQ has endorsed the PQ in the following elections: 1976, 1981, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2007.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Vive le Québec Libre !

Charles de Gaulle's famous 1967 address in Montreal.

Quebec Solidaire Achieves Gender Parity in Election Candidates

While Quebec Liberals are bragging that they are running 44 women in the provincial election, the upstart left-wing Quebec Solidaire is fielding 64 female candidates in the 123 ridings the party is contesting. It's a historic breakthrough for women in politics becuase it is the first time in Canadian history that a majority of candidates running for a party have been women.

Quebec Election Headlines

Politics of Sexuality Hound PQ Candidate

Referendum or Popular Consultation?

Liberals, PQ Unveil Election Ads

Communist Candidates Run Under Quebec Solidaire Banner

Liberals Flip-Flop on Anti-Scab Bill

After passing second reading by a vote of 167-101, it looks like the Liberals are prepared to side with the Conservatives to kill anti-scab legislation .... Stephane Dion is not a leader.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The ADQ - Bad News for Progressives

Mario Dumont's Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ) is on the rise in public opinion polls. This is bad news for the PQ, and if the trend continues, it could be bad news for the Liberals too. Either way, this is bad news for progressives. Check out an english version of the party's right-wing platform here.

Mel Swart 1919-2007

Former NDP MPP Mel Swart, who represented the riding of Welland-Thorold from 1975-1988 passed away yesterday.

I didn't know Mel that well, but I had interviewed him a few times and worked along with him on election campaigns. He was an extremely dedicated New Democrat, having run 8 times for the party before finally winning in 1975.

Just last month, as part of a project on the history of the labour movement in St. Catharines, I wrote a piece on Mel and his relationship with organized labour in the Niagara Region.

You can read more about Mel Swart here and here.