Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kick Right-Wing Butt!

I created a Stephen Harper boxing game over at . Political junkies can have lots of fun harpooning their least favourite politicians in a variety of interactive games.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Charest and Dumont are "Drunk" With Power


Political Post Secrets

Frank Warren's very powerful post secret blog was featured on CBC's The Hour last night. I visit this blog about once a month because it has more than its fair share of political secrets. I thought I'd share my favourite from this week.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Municipal Compliance Audits

Yesterday, I took part in a press conference at Metro Hall hosted by Vote Toronto on the subject of municipal campaign finance reform. Ironically, back home I learned that a compliance audit application was being filed against Niagara Falls Councillor Wayne Thomson. Thomson is no stranger to compliance audits. In fact, people like him are responsible for groups like Vote Toronto who are calling for an overhaul of Ontario's system of municipal campaign finance. Given the history, this should be interesting.

The Only Sport That Matters

German political theorists take on ancient Greek political theorists in a game of soccer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Beach is Closed, Well Not Really...

The Niagara Falls Review featured a story today under the heading E. coli closes Fort Erie beaches. However, if you actually read the article, you will notice the following sentence within it: "It also doesn't mean the beach is closed. " I know reporters don't write their own headlines, but I couldn't help to shake my head when I read this. The Review is such a terrible newspaper.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Niagara Hotel Workers Demonstrate

Members of UNITE HERE 2347 hosted one of the largest labour rallies in Niagara Falls earlier this month. Niagara Centre NDP MPP Peter Kormos, flanked by UNITE HERE Canada Vice President Alex Dagg, spoke at the rally of hotel workers protesting the anti-union tactics of Canadian Niagara Hotels. The rally also featured a surprise appearance by Niagara Falls Liberal MPP Kim Craitor who reminded the crowd that he had been the president of three unions as well as head of the local labour council before being elected to Queen's Park in 2003.

Is Outremont a Liberal Stronghold?

Hardly. Although it's true that the Liberals have dominated in Outremont historically, the party did lose the seat to the Conservatives in 1988 and Liberal support in Outremont has declined in every election since 1997. The NDP, on the other hand, has never come close to winning in Outremont, but the riding is the NDP's number one target in Quebec and the party has significantly increased its share of the vote in Outremont in recent years. Expect the NDP to throw everything at Outremont. If the Liberals think they can cruise to victory based on history alone, they are in for a rude awakening, espcially when they are facing the toughest NDP candidate in recent history in Thomas Mulcair.

Please, Someone Take Away This Guy's Show...

Dr. Phil's House of Hate

Six individuals with different judgments and prejudices move into The Dr. Phil House together, with cameras capturing every move as they struggle to challenge their own beliefs and values. Gary is a white supremacist, and B. is an African-American who hates white people. Staci is thin and hates fat people, and John is over 600 pounds and hates skinny people. Christina fears and hates homosexuals, and Tessa is a lesbian who hates straight people. They all work together in various assignments from Dr. Phil. Will they break down the walls of hatred and intolerance and learn to accept one another?

Is the "Working Class" Still Relevant?

Political activist John Throne talks about the relevance of the working class, religion, and imperialism in today's political climate.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Future of Social Democracy in Quebec

Le Devoir has a great feature on the future of social democracy in Quebec.

This is an important discussion in light of Pauline Marois's contention that the PQ must embrace social democracy to reconnect with its base while it rethinks its strategy vis-a-vis constitutional questions. However, what does Marois means when she talks about social democracy? Many on the left fear that she plans to follow the lead on Tony Blair and implement a Third Way course for Quebec.

You can read three articles on the future of the left in Quebec:

Les dilemmes de la gauche

Rendre la social-démocratie «durable»

Tony Blair peut-il être encore un modèle?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Another Republican Gay Abortion Conspiracy Theory

h/t to the Daily Dissidence.

Socialism Still a Viable Option: Poll


Is socialism still a viable political alternative for the major industrial nations?

(60%) 8088 votes

(40%) 5402 votes

Total votes: 13490

Globe & Mail readers recently agreed overwhelmingly that socialism is still a viable political alternative in advanced industrial nations. Unscientific? Yes, but still shocking given the current political climate.

What Kind of Lefty Are You?

Via Nag on the Lake

Take the quiz and find out which of the following breeds you most resemble...

1. You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

2. You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or hippie. You believe in stopping American imperial conquest and supporting our troops by bringing them home.

3. You are an Eco-Avenger, also known as an environmentalist or tree hugger. You believe in saving the planet from the clutches of air-fouling, oil-drilling, earth-raping conservative fossil fools.

4. You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.

5. You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's Official: Mulcair Will Run in Outremont

But is an Quebec NDP breakthrough on the horizon? Don't count on it.

The federal NDP's worst kept secret in Quebec is no longer a secret. Former Quebec Liberal Environment Minster Thomas Mulcair will run for the party in Outremont, where a by-election is expected to be called shortly. A Mulcair NDP victory is still a long shot at this point,but certainly not out of the question. An unprecedented vote split is what the New Democrats will be praying for.

The Religious Right's Link Between Feminism and Homosexuality

The "toilet seat preacher" surely drives more and more people away from religion with this kind of analysis...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Saskatchewan NDP Hypocrisy on Broken Promises

Lorne Clavert isn't going to get away with this kind of crap.

From the Globe & Mail:

But Mr. Calvert said he expects politicians to keep their promises.

“I can't accept that they didn't understand what they were promising. This promise was made by [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper who understands, of anybody in Canada, the role of the non-renewable natural resource sector,” said the premier.

“What has changed their mind? It may well be simply the politics of where the seats are. We don't have many seats in Saskatchewan and there are a lot more seats elsewhere and it may simply be a political decision to maintain seats.”

Funny, a Sasktchewan NDP premier criticizing someone for broken promises... I seem to recall a few NDP broken promises in Saskatchewan. Here's the most recent one:

Saskatchewan's NDP government has caved in to pressure from the business community and scrapped so-called available hours legislation to help part-time workers.

"By backing down to the corporate bullies, the (Lorne) Calvert government has abandoned the very people who need a courageous government in their corner," says Larry Hubich, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. The Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU/NUPGE) was among labour unions across the province pushing to have the legislation proclaimed into law.

Although the bill was passed by the legislature, the cabinet stalled on bringing it into effect because of strong resistance from business and from opposition political parties.

Launch a Revolutionary Storm in Education

Watch this clip from the old socialist Chinese film "Breaking With Old Ideas".

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Porn Star Jameson Endorses Hillary

Jenna Jameson is a big name, but who will Ron Jeremy support?

Communist Super Hero Action Figure

His name is Vanguard.

Marvel Comics describes him as follows:

Vanguard is a mutant with the ability to repel any force which is directed at him. He can construct an invisible force field around his body, which can reflect energy or moving objects. He can focus and magnify his powers through the hammer and
sickle he carries with him by crossing them over each other. The full potential of his powers has not been tested yet. In Soviet Super-Soldiers #1, he displayed the ability to fly by repelling the Earth.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Who Should Lead the Ontario NDP? Vote Now

Given that left-of-centre, Ontario-based folks, make up the bulk of my readers, I thought I'd follow up on Ian Urquhart's observation from last month and ask who should lead the Ontario NDP should Hampton quit after the next provincial election?

Vote here.

ps. In a former life, I was an ONDY Co-Chair, who with the unanimous backing of the ONDY executive, called on Hampton to resign after the party's dismal performance in 1999. The party establishment wasn't pleased, but I think recent electoral history has vindicated me and my colleagues.

George W Bush on Global Warming

Will Ferrell as George W Bush.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Parizeau Doesn't Regret Attack on Trade Union Freedoms

Le Devoir does a great job at reporting interesting minor exchanges. Don't knock the former Quebec Premier for being a separatist, knock him for his attack on trade union freedoms in the 1980s.

M. Parizeau était invité par les membres du Syndicat de la fonction publique (SFPQ) réunis en colloque à expliquer sa vision du rôle de l'État. Devant une salle à moitié vide, il a répondu à l'appel en présentant une allocution d'une quarantaine de pages, dans laquelle il a retracé l'évolution de l'État québécois depuis la Révolution tranquille. Par la suite, M. Parizeau s'est levé et est retourné au lutrin pour répondre aux questions des syndiqués. L'un d'eux lui a reproché d'avoir été l'artisan des coupes salariales sans précédent, de l'ordre de 20 %, en 1982-83, et lui a demandé de faire amende honorable. Toutefois, loin de s'excuser, M. Parizeau en a remis en tournant en ridicule la demande du fonctionnaire. Ces événements sont survenus il y a 25 ans, alors que le Québec traversait «la pire récession depuis la Deuxième Guerre mondiale», a-t-il fait valoir. «On ne va pas maintenant commencer des séances de pénitence nationale», a-t-il dit. «Quand même!»

A Legal Response to Neoliberalism? Organized Labour and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

A number of recent favourable Canadian Supreme Court (SCC) decisions regarding labour rights have marked a turning point in the relationship between the courts and organized labour. In U.F.C.W., Local 1518 v. KMart Canada, [1999] 2 S.C.R. 1083 [hereinafter U.F.C.W. v. KMart cited to S.C.R.] the court ruled that a union’s right to leaflet outside a workplace was a protected form of Freedom of Expression. In Dunmore v. Ontario (Attorney General), [2001] 3 S.C.R. 1016, 2001 SCC 94 [hereinafter Dunmore v. Ontario cited to S.C.R] the court ruled that agricultural workers had a constitutionally protected right to organize under section 2(d) of the Charter. In R. v. Advance Cutting & Coring Ltd., [2001] 3 S.C.R. 209, 2001 SCC 70 [hereinafter R. v. Advance Cutting & Coring Ltd. cited to S.C.R.] the court ruled that Quebec’s mandatory unionization laws in the construction industry did not violate the Freedom of Association. Finally, in R.W.D.S.U., Local 558 v. Pepsi-Cola Canada Beverages (West) Ltd., [2002] 1 S.C.R. 156, 2002 SCC 8 [hereinafter R.W.D.S.U. v. Pepsi-Cola cited to S.C.R.], the court reversed its earlier jurisprudence and ruled that secondary picketing warrants protection under section 2(b) of the Charter.
In “‘Labour Is Not a Commodity’: The Supreme Court of Canada and the Freedom of Association”, Judy Fudge tries to make sense of the court’s apparent about face on labour rights by charting the shift in the SCC’s interpretation of the Charter’s guarantee of freedom of association.[1] Fudge convincingly locates this shift in jurisprudence within the broader context of neoliberal restructuring, arguing that there has been a “shift in the site of legitimation for labour rights from the legislature to the courts”. [2] However, the article’s focus on the Supreme Court overlooks an equally compelling argument about organized labour’s shift in attitude toward Charter litigation.

In the 1980s, the labour movement enjoyed record high levels of union density[3] and strong ties to the New Democratic Party, which, by the late 1980s, was seen as a party on the move, poised for a major electoral breakthrough. In fact, the federal NDP topped federal public opinion polls for a time in 1987.[4] Today, organized labour approaches Canadian politics from a position of relative weakness. Union density rates in Canada stand at thirty-year low. The NDP’s political clout declined dramatically throughout the 1990s and the labour movement’s relationship with the party is at its weakest point in history. Governments, with few exceptions, at all levels and of all political stripes led an unprecedented attack on trade union freedoms in the 1990s, gutting labour laws, making it more difficult to organize unions, easier to decertify bargaining units, and nearly impossible for newly organized workers to achieve a fist contract when faced with a rabidly anti-union employer. Over the last few decades, unions have moved from crisis to crisis, unsure about how to confront capital within a highly regulated system of labour relations. This unprecedented post-war political weakness has convinced unions to shift strategies. As a result, organized labour has, by and large, abandoned its longstanding distrust of the judiciary and has begun to rely more heavily on the courts to protect the collective rights of workers. To be sure, unions have never been reluctant to defend their interests in court. However, this traditional reactive strategy has been complemented in recent years by a proactive strategy, wherein courts act as an alternative to the political arena as a venue for progressive social change. In order to illustrate the point, a review of some of the most recent and significant labour cases is in order.

Dunmore v. Ontario
In June 1995, Mike Harris and his Common Sense Revolution swept aside Bob Rae’s New Democrats and formed a strong majority government in Ontario. One of the Harris government’s first orders of business was to repeal most of the NDP’s progressive labour legislation; including amending the province’s labour laws to prohibit farm workers from organizing into unions.

The UFCW, which represented a group of agricultural workers in Leamington Ontario, challenged the province’s new Labour Relations Act on the basis that the law infringed on the rights of their members under s. 2 (d) and s. 15 (1) (equality rights) of the Charter. Dunmore was one of the workers represented by the UFCW. In Dunmore v. Ontario, the court was asked to rule on whether or not the Ontario government’s exclusion of agricultural workers from the province’s collective bargaining regime was consistent with the Charter’s guarantee of freedom of association. The union argued that farm workers were unfairly excluded from the province’s labour relations regime and that the Charter’s guarantee of Freedom of Association should give agricultural workers the right to bargain collectively and strike. However, the Ontario government maintained that extending such rights to agricultural workers would jeopardize the family farm.

In finding for the union, Bastarache J., writing on behalf of the court majority argued that the legislation unduly restricted the “wider ambit of union purposes and activity.”[5] Agricultural workers, according to the court, represent a vulnerable section of the workforce, and that their exclusion from the province’s labour relations system violated section 2(d) of the Charter. In coming to this conclusion, the majority argued that it was the vulnerability of agricultural workers in the labour market that determined their rights in the Charter. Although the court was only willing to extend s. 2(d) to the organizational aspect of union activity rather than the full ambit of labour relations rights, which would include the collective right to bargain and strike, the court did provide agricultural workers with a base from which to build.

R. v. Advance Cutting & Coring Ltd.
Whereas Dunmore v. Ontario dealt with the Freedom to Associate, R. v. Advance Cutting & Coring Ltd. focused on the right of workers not to associate. Essentially, the court was asked to rule on the constitutionality of legislative rules requiring mandatory unionization in Quebec’s construction industry.

The labour relations regime currently governing the construction industry in Quebec provides for provincial bargaining between recognized union groups (recognized by the law) and a unified employer association. The uniqueness of this regime, according to the court, has two striking features: 1) the centralized character of the collective bargaining system and 2) the separation of the negotiation of the working conditions from their implementation. While the union groups and employer associations negotiate the collective agreements, the enforcement of these labour standards is not achieved through a grievance procedure controlled by unions. Instead, enforcement is mainly the responsibility of the Commission de la Construction, which is a public body created under the Construction Act. The Commission oversees the implementation of the decree and enforces it, if need be, through civil and penal remedies.[6] As defined by legislation, the established union representatives (there are five in Quebec) are responsible for representing all construction workers. The Commission draws up a list of construction workers qualified to take part in a mandatory vote under s. 32 of the Act, during which each worker must opt for one of the five union groups as his or her bargaining agent.[7] According to the court, this legislation clearly forms an obligation to join a union group, as well as an obligation on the part of unions to accept workers wishing to affiliate with them.[8]
At issue in R. v. Advance Cutting & Coring Ltd. was whether or not there was a negative right not to associate under s. 2(d) of the Charter. Historically, the Supreme Court of Canada has maintained the position that labour issues are best left to the legislatures. However, in R. v. Advance Cutting & Coring Ltd., Lebel J., writing for a split court, argued that there was a possibility for an evolution in the relationship between the Charter and labour law. In this particular case, the court acknowledged that the construction industry in Quebec was heavily regulated by the state in an effort to retain the best interests of both organized labour and the industry itself. To change that balance, the court argued, would undermine the ability for organized labour to act as a respective bargaining agent in the industry. As Lebel J. argued:
a successful challenge to the form of union security scheme involved in this case might weaken the unions' ability to maintain their membership and preserve their financial base. In the long run, it could affect the balance of power within the economy or the political arena, because of its impact on the ability of unions to use effectively the mechanism of collective agreements and to participate in a meaningful way in the debates on the direction of Canadian society.[9]

Justices Bastarache, McLachlin, Major, and Binnie expressed the minority view that there is a right not to associate in the Charter and that compulsory union membership does indeed violate that right. The minority’s view was partially based on the assumption that mandatory unionization led to ideological conformity, a view the majority rejected. Despite the labour movement’s success in building on the freedom to associate, organized labour’s most significant advances in the judicial arena have been based on appeals concerning freedom of expression.

U.F.C.W. v. KMart
During a strike at two K-Mart stores in British Columbia, members of the UFCW distributed information leaflets to customers shopping at non-unionized locations in the surrounding area. The leaflets expressed the union’s view that K-Mart was engaging in unfair labour practices and encouraged potential customers to shop elsewhere. K-Mart argued that the UFCW’s leafleting activity constituted secondary picketing and the British Columbia Labour Relations Board agreed. The Board’s ruling effectively rendered the union’s action illegal, but the UFCW maintained that the freedom of expression of its members was protected under the Charter, and that as a labour organization, the union had the right to publicly protest K-Mart’s unfair labour practices.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the definition of picketing outlined in the province’s labour code was too expansive and therefore infringed on the union’s right to free expression. Therefore, the court upheld the union’s right to distribute leaflets at secondary locations.

Interestingly, the court’s decision distinguished between picketing (which could be viewed as coercive) and leafleting (which the court viewed as a form of social protest). In distinguishing between picketing and other forms of expression, the court was able to lump retail workers into the same category as other vulnerable groups in society who rely on social protest in order to get their message across.[10] The court reasoned that because social protest is a fundamental right enjoyed by all Canadians, union members could not be exempted.

R.W.D.S.U. v. Pepsi-Cola
In R.W.D.S.U. v. Pepsi-Cola, the court was asked to rule on the legality of secondary picketing. The case arose when Pepsi locked out members of the RWDSU in Saskatoon and brought in replacement workers in an effort to win the upper hand at the bargaining table. The employer’s bold maneuver led the union to engage in several acts of secondary picketing. Specifically, the RWDSU picketed retail outlets that did business with Pepsi, dissuaded retail staff from accepting deliveries, and picketed outside the homes of management.

Pepsi argued before the court that this form of secondary picketing was illegal per se at common law. The union countered this argument, claiming that secondary picketing is a fundamental right under s. 2(b) of the Charter, and is legal. Previously, in Dolphin Delivery, another case involving the legality of secondary picketing, the court ruled that it had no jurisdiction over private legal disputes between business and labour. However, in R.W.D.S.U. v. Pepsi-Cola, the court reversed itself by arguing that although the case involved two private actors in which no state action was directly involved, "…it must be recognized that the common law addresses a myriad of very diverse relationships and seeks to protect a host of legitimate interests not engaged by the Charter. Salient among these are the life of the economy and individual economic interests. Common law rules ensure the protection of property interests and contractual relationships. Nonetheless, where these laws implicate Charter values, these values may be considered."[11]

Essentially, the court reasoned that secondary picketing encompasses a wide variety of conduct, much of which is neither coercive nor harmful. Furthermore, the court ruled that restrictions on secondary picketing in the common law were out of step with the vales entrenched in the Charter. Supreme Court Justices reasoned that existing torts, such as those that encompass trespass and intimidation, would protect the interests of employers while ensuring the adequate flexibility to preserve the core principles of the collective bargaining regime. In making this argument, the court moved further on the issue of union speech than in U.F.C.W. v. KMart.
The essential elements of union power, as was outlined by the justices in the Labour Trilogy, and emphasized by McIntyre J. in the Alberta Reference, has been replaced with a description of labour picketing which fits adequately into the pluralist models of ‘group’ activity. Clearly, this indicates that the court sees little evidence to support the claim that labour picketing in this time period will threaten the relationship between labour and capital -- something that was reaffirmed in the freedom of association cases in R. v. Advance Cutting & Coring Ltd. In other words, the court no longer views labour and capital as two “equally powerful socio-economic forces.”[12] Rather, the court now perceives workers, to varying degrees, as a disadvantaged and vulnerable group worthy of Charter protection. And it is precisely for this shifting view that has fueled a rapprochement between unions and the Supreme Court in recent years.

Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia
CLC President Ken Georgetti called the recent round of Supreme Court decisions “historic victories for working people and their unions.”[13] However, the labour movement’s most significant Charter victory was yet to come. In Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia, the SCC struck down several sections of British Columbia’s Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act, which radically altered labour relations in the province’s healthcare system by allowing employers to reorganize work without meaningful negotiations with healthcare unions or strict adherence to signed collective agreements.[14] In fact, the law invalidated some provisions of existing agreements and precluded bargaining on several aspects of the employment relationship. The ruling, which came down in June 2007, shocked the labour movement and political observers by overturning earlier jurisprudence in the “Labour Trilogy” which held that collective bargaining was not protected by the Charter’s guarantee of freedom of association. Relying on a combination of labour history, International conventions, and expanded Charter values, the SCC effectively read collective bargaining rights into the Constitution.

The judgment is surprising for several reasons. First, the framers of the Constitution clearly did not intend for the Charter to include an expressed right to collective bargaining. In fact, as was stated earlier, they explicitly voted against an amendment to that effect. Second, although recent pro-labour Charter decisions had allowed for an extremely limited expansion of Section 2(d) and 2(b) to include important rights for workers -- particularly in Dunmore v. Ontario and R.W.D.S.U. v. Pepsi-Cola, they had done little overall to reverse the impact or reasoning of the “Labour Trilogy” decisions. Thirdly, immediately upon hearing about the ruling, labour leaders conceded that the judicial victory in Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia was unforeseen and unexpected, given the existing jurisprudence and the Court’s tendency to defer to legislatures on issues on labour relations.
The SCC decision to extend constitutional protection to collective bargaining is undoubtedly an important judicial victory for the labour movement. However, one should not exaggerate the political impact of the decision. Far from revolutionary, the SCC’s decision simply shields public sector unions from the worst excesses of neoliberalism by confirming the public policy environment of the post-war compromise. The fact that organized labour must rely on the courts, rather than the legislatures, to protect the last vestiges of the post-war compromise is, in fact, a sad commentary on the political clout of unions in an era of neoliberalism.

Explaining the Rapprochement
Over the course of the last decade, unions have increasingly come to embrace what Michael Mandel refers to as “legalized politics.”[15] Rather than wrestle with anti-union politicians and employers in the political arena, unions have, to some degree, retreated to the courts as an alternative strategy. Labour’s strategic shift towards actively pursuing litigation has occurred primarily because of events outside of the courtroom. The labour movement’s declining relationship with the NDP, its uncertain political direction, and its lack of creative capacity, have all contributed to labour’s new reliance on the judiciary. As such, recent Charter victories do not showcase organized labour’s strength. In fact, in many ways, recent Supreme Court decisions have highlighted the labour movement’s weakness in an era of neoliberal economic restructuring.

[1] Judy Fudge, “‘Labour is not a Commodity’: The Supreme Court of Canada and the Freedom of Association,” (2004), Saskatchewan Law Review no. 67, 445.
[2] Id., at 451.
[3] Jon Peirce, Canadian Industrial Relations (Scarborough: Prentice-Hall Canada Inc., 2000) at 148. In 1984, union density in Canada was 37.2% of the non-agricultural paid workforce.
[4] On 13 May 1987, the New Democratic Party polled 37 per cent, compared to the Liberals' 36% and the Conservatives' 25%. NDP leader Ed Broadbent had the approval of 57% of Canadians in that same month. By July 1987, NDP support reached 41% (35% Liberal and 23% Conservative). CBC Archives- NDP Tops the Polls, online: <>
[5] Dunmore v. Ontario at 12
[6] R. v. Advance Cutting & Coring Ltd. at 136
[7] Id., at 139
[8] Id., at 155
[9] Id., at 165
[10] Specifically, the court compared the vulnerability of retail workers to the vulnerability of new Canadians.
[11] R.W.D.S.U. v. Pepsi-Cola at 21
[12] Alberta Reference at 414.
[13] Canadian Labour Congress FAXPRESS 25 January 2002.
[14] Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia, [2007] SCC 27.
[15] Michael Mandel, supra note 12, Chapter 1.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oprah Grills Presidential Hopefuls

Everything you didn't want to know about Republican and Democratic hopefuls.

Two Liberals Quit: Ontario NDP Eyes Hamilton Seats

Liberal Cabinet Minsiter Maria Bountrogianni is quitting and so is backbencher Jennifer Mossop. This is good news for the NDP, who scooped up both of these seats in the 2006 federal election.

Interestingly, Bountrogianni is concerned with the way the Liberals have been handling elctoral reform...

One insider said last night that Bountrogianni, who has feuded with McGuinty's office over various policy matters since the Liberals took power in 2003, was displeased by the fact the government commissioned some polling about the referendum, which is to be held in conjunction with the election, on whether Ontario should adopt a form of proportional representation in the future.

The Liberals, who have so far remained non-committal on the referendum question, conducted polling on the extent to which Yes and No voters would be more or less likely to vote for the governing party in the election.

Bountrogianni, who has been careful to stay neutral throughout the democratic renewal process, was reportedly concerned the referendum vote was being politicized by such machinations.

Boisclair Won't Step Aside for Marois

When will the PQ infighting end?

La prochaine chef du Parti québécois, Pauline Marois, souhaite faire son entrée à l'Assemblée nationale à l'automne, mais elle ne sait pas si elle aura un comté où atterrir. Son prédécesseur, André Boisclair, n'a pas l'intention d'annoncer avant l'automne sa décision de demeurer ou non député de Pointe-aux-Trembles. Trop tard pour Mme Marois.

Central Nova: Have the Dynamics Changed?

Blogging a Dead Horse has an excellent analysis of the current dynamics of the race in Central Nova (Peter Mackay's seat). The federal budget has changed the dynamic in Nova Scotia, making the Tories very vulnerable. But the Liberals can't capitalize on this vulnerability because they are giving a free ride to Green leader Elizabeth May instead. The Green-Liberal alliance was such a mistake in hindsight and failed to materialize outside of Central Nova in places like St. Catharines, much to the chagrin of some Liberal bloggers.

Some People Never Learn...

Some of you will know that I successfully sued the City of Niagara Falls in 2005, forcing City Hall to conduct a compliance audit of defeated mayoral candidate Wayne Thomson's 2003 campaign finances. You can read the full audit report here. Despite the auditor's finding that Thomson had seemingly violated the Ontario Municipal Elections Act in a number of ways, the majority of council decided not to pursue any legal action against him. At the time, I suggested they would be setting a terrible precedent for future candidates. Unfortunately, I was right. Given he had no shot at winning back the Mayor's job, Thomson decided to run for city council in 2006 as an alderman. He won and collected an impressive number of donations in the process. However, one of those donations turned out to be from an American based out of Pittsburgh. Guess what? It's illegal for Americans to make campaign contributions to a candidate running in an Ontario municipal election. Some people never learn... I expect the money will be returned promptly. If not, expect another compliance audit.

"Working Families" Coalition Take on Ontario Tories

Ian Urquhart has done a pretty good job covering labour politics in the last little while.

This story is interesting and further displays the split in organized labour over party politics. Admittedly, these ads also help out the NDP, but in a two horse race, the Liberals are sure to benefit the most.

In the 2003 provincial election campaign, the most effective television ads were not sponsored by any of the political parties.

Rather, they were the "Not this time, Ernie" ads featuring unflattering photos of then-premier Ernie Eves, which were paid for by a coalition of unions calling themselves "working families." The ads not only tore a strip off Eves; they also allowed Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals to take the high road with a positive campaign, in the knowledge that the dirty work was being done for them by the coalition.

Now we are in a new election cycle, with the vote scheduled for Oct. 10, and the working families coalition is re-forming. It is expected to get the go-ahead at a meeting next week.

Among the participating unions are the building trades, teachers, and Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). The firefighters have also been approached but have not committed to joining the coalition.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Top Ten Ontario NDP Targets

A little birdie dopped this in my inbox. Expect the NDP to run hard in the ten ridings that it holds plus the following ten ridings, which I understand are ordered by priority. No real surprises, although I'm a bit surprised the NDP thinks it can knock off two cabinet ministers in Windsor. Duncan is a possibility, by Pupatello?No way.

1. Hamilton East – Stoney Creek
2. London Fanshawe
3. Windsor Tecumseh
4. Sault Ste. Marie
5. Ottawa Centre
6. Davenport
7. Hamilton Mountain
8. Oshawa
9. Algoma Manitoulin
10. Windsor West

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Sign of Organized Labour's Weakness or Strength?

You decide.

From The Star:

Labour unrest in Canada has dropped to its lowest level since the federal government began keeping data 30 years ago.

The number of lost person days because of strikes and lockouts plunged to 813,336 in 2006 from 4.1 million days in 2005, according to recent statistics from Human Resources and Development Canada (HRDC).

The 2006 figure is also more than 45 per cent below the lowest previous mark of 1.5 million days in 1993.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Shuffling the Deck

Time to reconsider my favourites list. Welcome Buckdog and Dipper Chick.

Friday, June 8, 2007

NDP Widens Lead in Nova Scotia

This CRA poll is encouraging news for New Democrats.

NDP 37%
PC 29%
Liberal 26%

Support for the governing Progressive Conservatives is down, according to the most recent survey conducted by Corporate Research Associates Inc. Presently, support for the provincial Progressive Conservatives stands at 29 percent compared with 35% three months ago, while the opposition NDP has the backing of close to four in ten decided voters (37%, compared with 36% in February 2007). Approximately one-quarter (26%, compared with 25%) of decided residents back the Liberals, while 7 percent (compared with 3%) prefer the Green Party. The number of Nova Scotia residents who are currently undecided, do not plan to vote, or refuse to state a preference currently stands at 42 percent (compared with 39%).

Thursday, June 7, 2007

ADQ Looks to Restrict Right to Strike in Quebec

Quebec's progressive labour law regime may be in trouble.

Dénaturant la notion de services essentiels, l'Action démocratique du Québec veut forcer le maintien, en cas de grève, d'au moins 80 % du service des transports en commun en tout temps. Conséquence: le droit de grève des employés pourrait devenir symbolique, comme c'est le cas dans le secteur de la santé.

The Future of Quebec Politics

This article from the Ottawa Citizen needs to dig a little deeper in my view.

We are seeing a major re-alignment of the party system in Quebec. The Quebec Liberal Party, not just Charest, is in deep trouble. At the brink of irrelevance among French-speaking Quebecers, the Liberals will likely be squeezed out over the next few elections by the ADQ on the right. The anglophone minority will slowly drift to the ADQ in the same way that many of them sought refuge with the Union Nationale many decades earlier. This will be the anglophone minority's only option if they want to maintain any political clout in Quebec politics. The PQ will maintain its sovereignist base and therefore remain relevant not only as THE party of separatists, but also as a left-wing alternative to the right-wing ADQ.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Evidence That Socialism Works

LCBO wine sales top $1 Billion. And they say the government can't run anything... I'm still waiting fo my public automobile insurance.

Minimum Wage: Know Your Numbers

By Sean Cain

Hourly U.S. minimum wage in 2005 if it had risen at the same rate of CEO compensation since 1990: $23.03

Percentage of minimum wage workers in Canada who are nineteen years of age or older: 61

Percentage who are women: 64

Hourly minimum wage in Canada in 2006 if it had risen at the same rate of real GDP per capita since 1976: $12.44

Income for a full-time minimum wage worker in Ontario in 2004 as a percentage of the Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO): 64

Amount of time it would take a top Canadian executive to earn a full-time minimum wage worker's annual pay, in hours: 4

Amount of time it would take a full-time U.S. minimum wage worker to earn Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's annual pay, in years: 719

Amount of time it would take a minimum wage Disney worker in Haiti to earn company CEO Bob Iger's annual pay, in years: 39,903

Current hourly minimum wages in the United States and Australia, in U.S. dollars: $5.15, $10.43

Current unemployment rates in the same countries: 4.6%, 4.5%

Number of businesses in Britain who were fined in 2006 for not properly paying employees the minimum wage: 1,500

Average percentage of total revenues a major U.S. corporation used to pay its top five executives in 1995: 5

Average percentage in 2003: 10

Percentage change in real income of the poorest 10% of Canadian families from 1970 to 1999: - 28

Percentage change in real income of the richest 10% of Canadian families during the same period: +122

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Stephane Dion Booed at Labour Rally

Dion deserved every bit of this heckling. Liberal hypocrisy over anti-scab laws need to be exposed at every turn.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Protest Song Deemed "Too Political" for Australian Folk Festival

Watch the performance and judge for yourself.

"Current" Liberal Blogger James Curran Will be Returning to Court on Fraud Charges

h/t to Scott Tribe who corrected me yesterday and pointed out that James Curran, is not a former Liberal blogger, but a current Liberal blogger. It seems Curran has re-launched his blog, but has deleted every previous post that got him into trouble in his hometown of Niagara Falls.

Just a quick reminder: As President of the Federal Niagara Falls Liberal Riding Association, he once predicted on his blog the defeat of the local Liberal candidate on the eve of the 2006 election. He then went on the predict on his blog the defeat of Liberal MPP Kim Craitor in the upcoming 2007 provincial election. When I broke that story here, it caused a media flurry locally that embarrassed local Liberals terribly. In response, Curran posted on his blog a fake press release announcing my intention to run for the NDP nomination in Niagara Falls. Of course, I never had any intention of running for anything and am not even a card-carrying New Democrat.

I predicted on my blog that Curran was an train wreck waiting to happen. You'll notice that many of the links to Curran's previous posts within these links are dead, kind of like Curran's political career. This is because he was quick to clean up his mess when everything fell apart after his arrest.

So to make a long story short, Curran is a current, not a former, Liberal blogger and his court date has been adjourned until June 28.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Former Liberal Blogger James Curran, the "What Do I Know Grit", Going Back to Court on Fraud Charges

From the Niagara Falls Review, June 1, 2007

Local Liberal's court case adjourned

Niagara Falls realtor Jim Curran, 42, who is charged with two counts of fraud, had his case adjourned to June 28 when the matter was spoken to Thursday in the Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines.

Curran, a prominent local Liberal, was charged by Niagara Regional Police last month just hours before he was going to seek the Liberal nomination to run in the next federal election. He was charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 and was released on a promise to appear in court on Thursday.

Revolutionary Music: The Red Orkestra

Red Orkestra's website.

Red Orkestra's myspace page.

Red Orkestra makes history:

Red Orkestra released their debut album After the Wars to critical acclaim. Embracing the new technologies that were revolutionizing the music industry, Johnny chose to release his album with a Creative Commons licence, to enable fans to freely copy and share his music without fear of legal repercussions. It would be the world's first internationally distributed Creative Commons CD release.