Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ukrainian Socialists in Canada, 1900-1918

By Peter Krawchuk
From The Socialist History Project

The Ukrainian Labour Temple, Regina. This building
was used from 1918 to 1927. The Association moved
into a new facility in 1928. SAB.
When the Canadian Communist movement was born after World War I, a large portion of its founding members and supporters were socialists who had emigrated to Canada from Ukraine. In this chapter from his book on the Ukrainian left, historian Peter Krawchuk examines the origins and evolution of the Ukrainian socialist movement in Canada, from its beginnings in the early 1900s to the time of the Russian Revolution.

Peter Krawchuk was born in western Ukraine in 1911. After he emigrated to Canada in 1930, lhe became active in the Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA), joining the staff of Ukrainski robitnychi visti (Ukrainian Labour News) in 1936. Over the next six decades, he wrote dozens of books, pamphlets and articles about the Ukrainian Left in Canada. He was president of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, the ULFTA’s successor organization, from 1979 to 1991. Peter Krawchuk died in Toronto in February 1997, not long after publication of his major work on the Ukrainian left in Canada, Our History: The Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Movement in Canada, 1907-1991.

Over 100,000 people came from Ukraine to Canada in the 1890s, and by 1911 the number had grown to at least 215,000. Most settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta, and most hoped to make a living as farmers. Some of the immigrants had been active in socialist and revolutionary-democratic movements before coming to Canada. That immense migration is the background to Chapter One of Our History — “The Birth of Organized Life.”

Read more HERE.

Saskatchewan eliminating human rights tribunal

Time limit for complaints would be cut in half and hearings where required handled by the courts.


Regina (1 Dec. 2010) - The Saskatchewan Party government has introduced legislation to kill the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal (SHRT) and refer complaints to the courts instead.

Amendments to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code were introduced in the legislature on Nov. 29 by Justice Minister Don Morgan.

Under the current system, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) investigates human rights complaints and can refer them to Human Rights Tribunal for a hearing.

When hearings are required in future, cases will go to the court of Queen's Bench instead, the province says.

The government argues that the changes will also allow more cases to be dealt with through mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods instead of formal hearings. It is also planning to reduce the time allowed for filing complaints to one year. The current limitation is two years.

NDP justice critic Frank Quennell says the legislation needs to be closely reviewed and interested parties given a chance to comment before it is passed.

"We're going to have to hear those voices and if there is in fact very little concern, well, maybe it could pass quickly," he said.

Industry consumes well over half of all electricity in Saskatchewan, efficiencies must be made a priority: Report

Saskatchewan Office,
November 30, 2010

Regina — In the next ten years, industry will consume close to two-thirds of Saskatchewan’s electrical generation, with mining, steel, chemicals, oil refining and upgrading poised to consume 46.8% of the province’s electricity alone. That is one of the startling findings in a new report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Saskatchewan Office.

Transforming Saskatchewan’s Electrical Future: Using Electricity More Efficiently, authored by Mark Bigland Pritchard, argues that our province needs to adopt a comprehensive energy conservation and efficiency program to combat industry’s voracious appetite for cheap, publically subsidized power.

Interview with Manuel Carvalho da Silva, Secretary General of the CGTP, Portugal

General strike in Portugal

Translated Monday 29 November 2010, by David Lundy and reviewed by Bill Scoble
 l’Humanité in English

Manuel Carvalho da Silva
 "In Portugal, we, too, are in a phase of mass mobilization". For Manuel Carvalho da Silva, the country’s main union leader, the call for a general strike against the austerity policy is the beginning of a broader process of struggle.

Interview with Manuel Carvalho da Silva, Secretary General of the CGTP
Humanité Quotidien November 24, 2010

HUMA: How is this mobilization going, a few hours after the start of the general strike?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Canada Surrenders Sovereignty and Privacy to U.S. Secure Flight Program

By Dana Gabriel
Be Your Own Leader blog

Canada is under pressure from U.S. officials to further comply with American security rules which in some cases, threatens its sovereignty and the privacy of its citizens. As a result of the war on terrorism, the U.S. government now has more power to restrict air travel and is not only dictating North American, but also international security measures.

Read more HERE.

Gold Diggers of 1933

"We're in the money!"

Gold Diggers of 1933 has the reputation of being fluff - but what beautiful fluff - because it employed the greatest mass-dance choreographer of all time, Busby Berkeley. But if you have never seen it or remember only the fluff, it deserves another look, for it captures the economic contradictions of the Great Depression in a way only rivaled by Preston Sturge;s comedies.

The "gold diggers" are of course the chorus girls who want to make it - not by successufully hoofing it in a big Broadway show - but by marrying rich guys.

Stanley Solomon characterizes this film as one in which "money looms as an obsession, poverty as an ever-present threat", but Arthur Hove emphasizes that the moral of the story is that "chorus girls really do have a heart of gold". And while we remember the gals costumed as gold coins and dancing a capitalist jig, we forget that the film ends with images of unemployed veterans who have been forced to walk the breadlines. Sound familiar? Styles of filmmaking change, of course, but some problems never go away.

- From Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds and Riffraff: An expanded guide to films about labor by Tom Zaniello.

Manitoba NDP witch hunt regarding party members’ support of George Galloway’s Winnipeg visit?

Paul S. Graham's blog

Is the Manitoba NDP preparing a public witch hunt, or at least a private spanking, of members who attended George Galloway’s Nov. 26 speech in Winnipeg? That certainly is the impression left by an article by Rhonda Spivak in the Winnipeg Jewish Review entitled BRANDON NDP WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION ENDORSES GALLOWAYS SPEECH IN WINNIPEG NOV 26.

In the article, Spivak trots out all the shop-worn distortions of Galloway’s anti-war and anti-Zionist activities and quotes Manitoba’s Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick as saying:

“It is important to know that this issue was not brought before Greg Selinger, the Leader of Manitoba the New Democratic Party nor the Manitoba NDP Provincial Council. This action is neither sanctioned nor endorsed by either the Premier or the Manitoba NDP. The NDP Brandon Women’s Association does not represent the Manitoba NDP on this issue . . .

“I want to ensure people that the Manitoba NDP is taking this incident very seriously and are already looking into the matter.”

For those unfamiliar with Manitoba NDP code, “taking this incident very seriously” is code for ”someone’s gonna pay.” It’s the same language used by Education Minister Nancy Allan after B’nai Brith complained about a provincial high school examination question. The offending question – “Explain whether or not you think people in the entertainment industry have a responsibility for making the world a better place?” — was asked with reference to an essay entitled “Over the Rocks and Stones” by pop star Chantal Kreviazuk. Among many other things totally unrelated to questions of human suffering, Kreviazuk’s essay describes the struggle for life of a badly injured Palestinian boy and his family’s pain. An objective reader would be hard pressed to find evidence that hatred of Israel was being promoted.

Allan’s eagerness to roll over for B’nai Brith was widely ridiculed; even the Winnipeg Free Press editorial board, normally a perennial cheerleader for all things zionist, concluded that Allan had been too easily stampeded, that she should “respond rationally” in situations like this and “let the department do its work free of political meddling and public nitpicking.”

Back to the present. I’ve heard that functionaries in the Brandon Cabinet Office were not amused by the uppity women who endorsed Galloway’s event. Whether this goes farther remains to be seen. Surely if the NDP heavyweights start trying to muscle Seymour and others over their attendance at the Galloway meeting, it will be time for them to remove the word “Democratic” from their party’s name. Ditto for “New” which is really shop-worn after all these years.

Readers who share my outrage are encouraged to express themselves in a polite, but assertive reminder to Minister Melnick that Canada remains a free country where all, even NDP members, are entitled to the freedoms associated with a democracy. You can write to her at minwsd@leg.gov.mb.ca.

Health Care: What's happening in Saskatchewan?

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Summit in Quebec issues call for antiwar actions

Life on the Left

The People’s Summit Against War and Militarism, which met in Montréal November 19-21, was attended by 225 persons from a wide range of organizations. It issued a Joint Declaration endorsed by more than 70 organizations including trade unions, women’s and student organizations, civil liberties groups, and other social movements and grassroots community organizations in Quebec. The declaration is also supported by seven peace groups in English Canada, including the Canadian Peace Alliance.

Read more HERE.

KOREA CRISIS: Basic Facts and Historical Context

National Campaign to End the Korean War

Facts on the Recent Artillery Duel:
• On Tuesday, November 23rd, 70,000 South Korean and American military troops engaged in an annual military drill, called “Hoguk [Defend the State],” involving 50 warships, 90 helicopters, 500 warplanes, and 600 tanks mobilized for war simulation exercises scheduled for a period of 9 days, until Nov. 30th.
• The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) criticized the mobilization, stating that they were provocative, and demanded that South Korea halt the drill.
• South Korean artillery units fired toward DPRK from a battery close to the DPRK coast, within a disputed maritime region called the Northern Limit Line (NLL). The disputed border on the west coast between North and South Korea was drawn unilaterally by the U.S. Navy in 1953; it was never recognized by the North.
• After four hours, the DPRK replied with 100 artillery shells from a position north of Yeonpyeong Island; South Korea then fired back 80 artillery shells.
• Two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed and at least 16 others injured on Yeonpyeong Island, a site with military bases as well as a fishing community of 1,300 residents. DPRK casualty and damages are unknown.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Priest’s Tale: The Evolution of the Thinking of Eugene Cullinane

See also: Socialism and Catholicism: Canada's First Priest in the CCF
By Dave McGrane


Book Review: 'The Hidden History of the Korean War' by I.F. Stone

By Jay Hauben

The Hidden History of the Korean War
by I. F. Stone, 364 pages.
Monthly Review Press. 1952, 1970.

The controversial book, The Hidden History of the Korean War by I. F. Stone was originally published in 1952 during the Korean War (1950-1953) and republished in 1970 during the Vietnam War (1960-1975). It raised questions about the origin of the Korean War, made a case that the United States government manipulated the United Nations, and gave evidence that the U.S. military and South Korean oligarchy dragged out the war by sabotaging the peace talks.

Publishing such a book in the U.S. during the time of McCarthyism, while the war was still continuing was an act of journalistic courage. Forty years later, declassified U.S., Soviet and People's Republic of China documents both confirmed some and corrected some of Stone's story.

Thousands protest against Irish bailout

More than 100,000 people gather in Dublin to demonstrate against four-year austerity plan to reduce debts

Henry McDonald
Dublin guardian.co.uk

Thousands of demonstrators march through Dublin to protestagainst
budget cuts and an EU-IMF bailout. Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP
More than 100,000 Irish citizens took to the streets of Dublin today to protest against the international bailout and four years of austerity.

Despite overnight snow storms and freezing temperatures, huge crowds have gathered in O'Connell Street to demonstrate against the cuts aimed at driving down Ireland's colossal national debt.

So far the march has passed off peacefully although there is a huge Garda presence with up to 700 officers on duty working alongside 250 security guards for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Union Songs and Poems

Union Songs

Call them rebel songs, slave songs, songs of freedom, work songs, songs of dissent, songs of struggle, protest songs, liberation songs, labour songs, labor songs, workers songs, industrial folk songs, environmental songs, songs of equality, peace songs.

For over two centuries working people across the world have built trade unions. This site documents the songs and poems that they made in the process, union songs. It includes songs and poems that are being written today, as the process of union building continues all around the world.

Such songs are the work of famous poets as well as men and women whose names have been forgotten. They stretch back to ancient times and are being created today.

The link below has more than 738 songs and poems with over 278 Authors:
Union Songs and Poems

Friday, November 26, 2010

Socialism's Beachhead (1947)

Time Magazine
Monday, Feb. 17, 1947

Saskatchewan's socialist CCF government took two important actions last week. For $3,600,000, it bought all the Saskatchewan holdings of the power network of Canadian Utilities Ltd. This gave the government's Power Commission possession of the last private power system of any consequence in the province. Then, in the provincial legislature, bantam-sized Premier Thomas Clement Douglas told how things had been going with the other enterprises* his government has socialized in the past 2½ years. Things were going pretty well.

Saskatchewan's CCF bookkeeping has been questioned before. But according to the official figures, in the first half of the current fiscal year (from April 1 to Sept. 30, 1946), the province's socialized businesses made a capitalistic net profit (after deduction of depreciation reserves) of $329,500. The figure did not include an estimated $750,000 net surplus made last year on government automobile-accident insurance policies. The socialist government seemed to be well in the black.

Nor was that all. When the CCF swept into power in Saskatchewan in mid-1944, anti-socialists had predicted a panicky flight of capital from the province. But, under socialism, said Tommy Douglas, 420 new, private companies with a total capital of $104,409,000 have gone into business in Saskatchewan. Sixty-five of the companies (total capital $70,000,000) came from outside the province. In addition, 1,307 partnerships have been formed.

Saskatchewan is socialism's only beachhead in North America. Most Canadians have watched the province closely as a preview of the least that would happen should Canada ever go socialist. What were the chances?

No. 3 Party. The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation is only 14 years old. Besides controlling the government of Saskatchewan, it is the official opposition in three of the Dominion's nine provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia). It is Canada's No. 3 party and has 28 seats (out of 245) in the House of Commons at Ottawa. Its national leader, Major James Coldwell, 58, is one of the most admired men in the House; by many politicians of all parties, he is regarded as prime-ministerial timber.

The party has been gaining strength steadily. In the last general election (1945) it got 822,661 votes (against 393,230 in 1940) and increased its number of seats in the House of Commons from eight to 28. In the latest provincial elections in British Columbia and Nova Scotia the party gained in popular vote while losing seats. In Manitoba, it gained both ways. To meet the socialist threat, Tories and Liberals in Manitoba and British Columbia have coalesced.

Nevertheless, CCF leaders know that no political party has much chance of winning a Dominion election without substantial support from Quebec. There, the CCF freely admits, its influence is negligible. The party now has about 70,000 dues-paying members ($5 a year on the average). About 70,000 more voters are members by virtue of membership in CCF-affiliated unions. A two-year organization drive, sparked by National Secretary David Lewis, now aims at more than 100,000 paid-up members and two million votes by 1949. The CCF hopes to become Canada's No. 2 party in the next general election.

* A wool products factory, a shoe factory, a tannery, a clay products plant, a box factory, a timber marketing board, a fish-filleting plant, a fur marketing service, a printing office, a housing corporation, a reconstruction corporation and insurance agency, a bus line.

Potash Decision a Victory

People’s Voice Editorial

Ottawa’s denial of the BHP Billiton hostile bid for the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan is an important victory, despite the crass opportunism behind the decision. In ordinary circumstances, the Harper Tories would have approved this deal without batting an eye, believing that whatever corporations want must be delivered. But instead of the usual rubber‑stamp given to foreign investors, Industry Minister Tony Clement argued that the deal does not provide a “net benefit” to Canada.

Of course, the real reason for Clement’s position was the electoral needs of the Conservative Party. The loss of even a handful of Saskatchewan Tory MPs would make Stephen Harper’s quest for a majority in Parliament much more doubtful.

Right‑wing pundits and politicians are frantic to demand that this decision (which could still face an appeal) must not represent a “precedent”. What nonsense! Foreign TNCs will continue seeking to buy up Canadian natural resources, understanding that BHP ran into trouble for threatening to deprive a Conservative stronghold province of a huge percentage of its revenue base.

But this case does have an important positive side. The debate over the future of potash has raised awareness that Canadians are increasingly denied the ability to make critical decisions over our economy. Even a grudging recognition by the federal Conservatives that there is such a concept as “net benefit to Canada” is an advance in the long‑term struggle to achieve Canadian control of resources. The job of progressive forces is to continue to extend the struggle for sovereignty, including full and immediate abrogation of the treasonous Free Trade Agreement and all other “treaties” which allow corporations to control our future.

Radical Nostalgia:

Spanish Civil War Commemoration in America

By Peter Glazer
Nostalgia can serve as a vital tool in the emotional reconstitution and preservation of suppressed histories, rather than sentimentally privileging the past at the expense of present concerns and limiting a culture's progressive potential. Between 1936 and 1938, responding to a military coup in Spain led by Francisco Franco with the support of both Hitler and Mussolini, over 2700 US anti-fascists joined 30,000 volunteers from around the world to form the International Brigade. They came together to defend the democratically elected Spanish government against this early manifestation of the fascist Axis. After three bloody years, Franco's rebellion succeeded, and his dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975.

From the moment the first American volunteers returned home, and to this day, they have been holding commemorative events recalling the struggle. For nearly seventy years, the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade have cited and re-cited their activist past in theatrically eclectic, highly emotional commemorative performances, a site for both nostalgia and progressive politics. Literary recitations, scripted dramatic pieces, songs, films, photographs, and celebrity appearances have been juxtaposed with speeches, fundraising, and a rigorous attention to pressing political and social concerns of the day. The history and content of these events is detailed and analyzed here based on a combination of archival and ethnographic evidence. The exemplary role of songs from the war, as both nostalgic triggers and historical artifacts, is also examined.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

SGEU: Disappearing jobs

Human Resources: Social Engineering in the 20th Century


Human Resources explores the rise of mechanistic philosphy and the exploitation of human beings under modern hierarhical systems.

Topics covered include behaviorism, scientific management, work-place democracy, schooling, frustration-aggression hypothesis and human experimentation.



More info:

Lessons to Be Learned From Paulo Freire as Education Is Being Taken Over by the Mega Rich

By Henry A. Giroux
Source: Truthout
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Paulo Freire
At a time when memory is being erased and the political relevance of education is dismissed in the language of measurement and quantification, it is all the more important to remember the legacy and work of Paulo Freire. Freire is one of the most important educators of the 20th century and is considered one of the most important theorists of "critical pedagogy" - the educational movement guided by both passion and principle to help students develop a consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, empower the imagination, connect knowledge and truth to power and learn to read both the word and the world as part of a broader struggle for agency, justice and democracy. His groundbreaking book, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," has sold more than a million copies and is deservedly being commemorated this year - the 40th anniversary of its appearance in English translation - after having exerted its influence over generations of teachers and intellectuals in the Americas and abroad.

Since the 1980s, there have been too few intellectuals on the North American educational scene who have matched Freire's theoretical rigor, civic courage and sense of moral responsibility. And his example is more important now than ever before: with institutions of public and higher education increasingly under siege by a host of neoliberal and conservative forces, it is imperative for educators to acknowledge Freire's understanding of the empowering and democratic potential of education. Critical pedagogy currently offers the very best, perhaps the only, chance for young people to develop and assert a sense of their rights and responsibilities to participate in governing, and not simply being governed by prevailing ideological and material forces.

Read more HERE.

SFL: Defending our crowns and public services


Saskatchewan Uranium, Fallujah's Children

Report on birth defects and cancers in Iraq points to Canadian uranium

By Garson Hunter

REGINA—Radioactive armaments used by the US army in Iraq have been highlighted in a recent study as a probable cause for the region's increase in birth defects, infant deaths and cancer. Unavoidably, some of the uranium that made these weapons radioactive came from Saskatchewan.

Read  more HERE.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Poverty fuels anger during general strike in Portugal

By Emilio Rappold
M&C News
Nov 24, 2010

Lisbon - Fatima, 82, barely has enough to eat herself, yet she has come to distribute bread buns to pickets in front of a Lisbon post office to express her support for Wednesday's general strike in Portugal.

'I fully back the strike, because we are hungry,' she fumes.

'Two of my three sons have no job,' the petite woman complains. 'When did we last see such a situation in Portugal?'

Anger over tightening economic conditions and the perception of a social injustice boosted support for the strike, the biggest in Portugal since 1988.

The left must open up to a world of ideas

Patrick Diamond
Policy Network
23 November 2010

Social democrats must dig deep into their own rich history of empowering political thought, whilst looking beyond Europe’s shores to a world of new ideas

The present weakness of centre-left parties in the industrialised world is frequently attributed to poor leadership, flawed electoral strategy, and dysfunctional communications. Contingent and conjectural factors such as the global economic crisis have also been invoked in explaining the circumstances of defeat. Far less attention has been given, however, to the depth of the ideological and intellectual crisis that Western social democracy now faces.

Social democratic parties have been slow to recognise that the world rapidly moves on and our society is now in the grip of three structural crises: the global financial crisis and its aftermath; the global competition crisis posed by China, India and Brazil; and the looming climate crisis.

South Korea Admits Starting Shelling: World Media Frenzy Exposed

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Across the Generations

By Samia Aziz , Tony Benn
New Left Project

Tony Benn
A major focus of the ongoing work of Tony Benn - perhaps the most iconic figure on the British left - is to communictae with young people about politics (see, for example, his latest book, Letters to My Grandchildren). Shortly before the latest student protests he spoke to Samia Aziz, herself a recent school leaver, about the relationship between youth and politics, both past and present.

How would you compare political engagement by young people today to earlier periods you’ve witnessed, including during your own youth? Are there any important or striking differences? Do you agree, for example, with the common assertion that today’s youth are more apathetic than previous generations?

All Flesh is Grass

Toward a re-engagement with the prairie

By Trevor Herriot
November 23, 2010

On October 15th and 16th, prairie naturalist and award-winning author Trevor Herriot spoke on behalf of the Saskatchewan office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Trevor's presentation, "All Flesh is Grass," provides us with both an urgent plea to reverse the ecological destruction of our natural prairie and a way forward to a more sustainable and ecologically sound agricultural practice in our province.

Download the transcript below:

Saskatchewan premier's potash populism is not what it seems

BHP's planned phasing out of Canpotex, would have threatened to destabilize the revenue base of an entire province.

By Jim Harding

Has Brad Wall's stick-handling of the potash controversy assured his party's re-election next fall? With a recent poll showing 57 percent support among decided voters we could easily answer "yes!" But I trust the Saskatchewan electorate is not becoming as sheepish as Albertans who have lived in a "one-party" state for decades. And things can change quickly; extreme weather and a collapse of potash revenues this year, what's coming next? While stories speculating that Wall's newfound populism shows he is eyeing Harper's job, make for good infotainment, they tell nothing fundamentally about this potash controversy. We'll have to go below the headlines into some solid history for that.

Starting with Canpotex
Canpotex is the marketing arm of Saskatchewan-operating potash companies. It's a global force controlling two-thirds of fertilizer sales in the five biggest offshore markets – China, Brazil, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. Most of us have heard of OPEC, a 12 country cartel controlling much of global oil sales. With just three corporate members – Potash Corp, Mosaic and Agrium – Canpotex controls much of the global potash market.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

From Victoria to Vladivostok: Canada’s Siberian Expedition, 1917-19

(Vancouver: UBC Press, May 2010)
Order the Book Online
Media Release | Promotional Flyer

Read the Times Literary Supplement review
Read the Maclean’s Magazine review

This ground-breaking book brings to life a forgotten chapter in the history of Canada and Russia – the journey of 4,200 Canadian soldiers from Victoria to Vladivostok in 1918 to help defeat Bolshevism. Combining military and labour history with the social history of BC, Quebec, and Russia, Benjamin Isitt examines how the Siberian Expedition exacerbated tensions within Canadian society at a time when a radicalized working class, many French-Canadians, and even the soldiers themselves objected to a military adventure designed to counter the Russian Revolution. The result is a highly readable and provocative work that challenges public memory of the First World War while illuminating tensions – both in Canada and worldwide – that shaped the course of twentieth-century history.

Critical Acclaim:

“Benjamin Isitt’s fascinating study of the Canadian contribution to the military expedition to Siberia designed to crush Lenin’s nascent Communist state punches a large hole in how much of Canada’s chattering class conceives of the country.”
—Nathan M. Greenfield, review in Times Literary Supplement“

Isitt’s extensive analysis of why we were there—mostly trying to deprive revolutionary workers at home of an international beacon—is convincing, as is his ironic conclusion: the blatant class warfare of the expedition did more to incite radicalism at home than it did to suppress it in Russia.”
—Brian Bethune, review in Maclean’s Magazine

“Isitt’s work is new, innovative, and important. He deftly weaves the Canadian working class opposition to war and the rising leftist sentiment among workers with the inner life of the Siberian Expedition itself … No less important, he melds a national story with an international one. He reveals new aspects of international cooperation in the attempt to suppress the Bolshevik revolution as well as international rivalries among the countries that intervened in Russia.”
—Larry Hannant, editor of The Politics of Passion: Norman Bethune’s Writing and Art

“From Victoria to Vladivostok sheds new light on a part of Canadian history that previous scholars have written off as a mere sideshow, a rather embarrassing episode that had no impact on the First World War. In contrast, Isitt sees the problems that befell the Expedition as being rooted in conflicting views of Bolshevism in Canada, and different perceptions of the logic behind an intervention in Russia. In this, his contribution is both significant and original.”
—Jonathan Vance, author of Unlikely Soldiers: How Two Canadians Fought the Secret War against Nazi Occupation

For more information, visit Dr. Isitt’s Siberian Expedition Virtual Exhibition & Digital Archive.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Socialism and Catholicism: Canada's First Priest in the CCF

By Dave McGrane

In 1946, Father Eugene Cullinane became the first Catholic Priest in Canada to become a member of the CCF. Cullinane, who was then a Professor of Politics and Economics at St. Thomas More College (STM) in Saskatoon, believed that the CCF was the only political party whose philosophy reflected Catholic teachings concerning charity and social justice. Cullinane’s public support for the CCF was very controversial and he was eventually dismissed from STM, on the request of the Bishop of Saskatoon, after urging Catholics to vote for the CCF during the 1948 provincial election.

Sixty-two years later, STM is celebrating Father Eugene Cullinane. Former Premier Lorne Calvert, Political Studies Professor David McGrane, Sister Teresita Kambeitz, and John Burton (a former student of Cullinane) will be speaking at an event commemorating the life and legacy of STM’s most controversial founding professors. Admission is free. A wine and cheese will follow. '

Location 344 St. Thomas More College
1437 College Drive
Saskatoon, SK

Facebook page HERE.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Night Video Clip: Charlie Chaplin

From The Great Dictator, an anti-fascist movie made by Chaplin prior to the USA's entry into WW2.

Strong Unions Are the Best Hope Inside Capitalism

A MR Interview with Michael D. Yates
by Farooque Chowdhury

The San Jose Mine incident in Chile has brought back old questions about labor and capital. About those questions, raised by the 33 miners' struggle to survive, I interviewed Michael D. Yates, Associate Editor of Monthly Review. Yates was for many years professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, USA. He is the author of In and Out of the Working Class (2009); (with Fred Magdoff) The ABCs of the Economic Crisis (2009); Cheap Motels and a Hotplate (2007); Naming the System (2004); Why Unions Matter (1998); and Longer Hours, Fewer Jobs (1994).

Farooque Chowdhury: You know miners' life well. What's your reaction to what the world witnessed in the San Jose Mine in Chile?

Michael D. Yates: There is a special solidarity in mining communities, because of the danger of working underground, where at any time you could die. People live in constant fear of this. My reaction was to assume that the owners were lax in terms of safety, and this appears to be the case. Hopefully this episode will fuel more militancy among the miners and their communities. On a purely human level, I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be trapped like that. But now the men will be expected to work as always, and the fame they have now will soon enough fade. They will be affected in many negative ways, psychologically not the least. However, the media won't be around to report on that, and the concern the world has now will disappear.

Potash and the Renaissance of Economic Nationalism

By Andrew Jackson
Progressive Economics Forum
November 4th, 2010

Who would have thought it. More than twenty years after the Canada-US FTA all but buried the economic nationalist legacy of the Trudeau era, a major foreign take-over seems to have been blocked. That’s twice under the Conservatives, after years of Liberal rubber stamping of foreign acquisitions under the Investment Canada Act. This is certainly worthy of some celebration.

I was rather struck by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s comment that a balance had to be struck between free markets and neo liberal doctrine on the one hand (he didn’t quite use those words) and the public interest on the other. In recent days those sentiments have been voiced by a number of prominent business leaders and eminently mainstream politicians. I had lunch the other day with a prominent business association leader who voiced the opinion - in private - that the entire round of recent mining take-overs has been a disaster for national economic development.

It is easy to cast the Conservative decision as pure politics, and surely Harper and Clement were pushed into this against their will. But the fact remains that a major crack and division has opened up within the ranks of the conventionally wise, and that a welcome precedent has been set. If a take-over serves only the needs of investors and does not serve the national economic interest, then it should be rejected.

We can and should build on this decision to push for transparent public interest reviews of takeovers, and effective enforcement of any conditions imposed. Some foreign investments do make sense, but most come at a cost - the loss of head office and supplier jobs; the weakening of local economic linkages; loss of corporate tax revenue as higher corporate debt is taken on to finance the transaction; and, often, direct job losses and a deterioration in industrial relations as operations are squeezed to pay for the often excessive take-over premium.

That said, there are more than a few contradictions in the position of those who have supported blocking this particular transaction. BHP might have made things worse, but the existing Potash Corp is no corporate saint. It moved some key jobs out of Canada, and has been paying its CEO obscene amounts of money , despite the fact that huge windfall profits have come from a dramatic rise in commodity prices driven by soaring global demand. As Erin Weir has argued on this blog, there is a very one sided split of resource rents as between shareholders and the people of Saskatchewan who own the reource, not to mention all Canadian taxpayers. If there is a case against BHP gaining control of the resource, what exactly is the case for the status quo compared to the alternative of some return in the direction of public control, if not outright crown ownership as under the pre Devine NDP government? If we need strategic control of potash, why not strategic control of oil and gas and minerals, all of which seem set to be set for years of rising prices and could be in short supply?

And if we are going to review large foreign take-overs to determine if they are in the public interest, why not large domestic acquisitions as well? (They currently subject only to a competition review.)

So, a good decision that raises a lot of interesting questions.

Still Open for Business: Potash Decision

CCPA Saskatchewan Office -  Update
November 5, 2010

Now that Investment Canada has rejected BHP Billiton's hostile takeover bid and the sky has not fallen, perhaps we can finally dispense with the tired argument that restrictions on foreign investment will leave Canada no longer "open for business."

In fact, virtually every OECD country has more stringent restrictions on foreign investment than Canada.

In recent years, the United States has blocked the Chinese takeover of Unocal and the sale of U.S. ports to Dubai Ports Worldwide. In France, rumours of a takeover of Danone by Pepsi forced the French government to draft a law protecting "strategic industries" in that country. Even in Australia, home of BHP, the government rejected a takeover bid for Australian energy company Woodside Petroleum Ltd by Shell Oil on the grounds that is was not in the nation's economic interest.

Canada is not taking a radical stance in rejecting a foreign takeover; it is merely joining with the rest of the world in the realization that nations have vital economic interests that need to be protected. Truly a novel idea.

Simon Enoch
CCPA Saskatchewan

This commentary first appeared in the November 5th edition of the Regina Leader-Post

The Grapes of Wrath

Woody Guthrie's Tom Joad.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Step by Step

Step by step, the longest march can be won.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Potash and the Canadian Corporate Elite

Murray Dobbin's Blog

So the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan drama is about to come to a head Wednesday with the Harper government’s decision on whether or not to approve the takeover bid by Australia’s mega corporation BHP Billiton. Most are predicting that Harper will cave under the pressure from Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party premier and Harper’s closest ally amongst all the premiers.Wall is a very effective and popular politician and he could hurt Harper more than any NDP or Liberal premier. But there is no predicting Harper – he often makes decisions that seem obviously contrary to his best interests just out of pure orneriness.

It’s hard for progressives to get excited about who owns a corporation, especially one like PCS whose CEO is sitting on half a billion dollars worth of stock options and which treats its employees badly. And in this case much of the talk about the deal centres on the marketing cartel – Canpotex – that sells the potash produced by three companies, including PCS. This cartel controls a big percentage of the potash production in the world and essentially keeps prices as high as possible by cutting back production when prices start to fall. It is farmers and peasants around the globe who suffer the consequences in higher than normal market prices for fertilizer. Canpotex is a big benefit to Saskatchewan as it increases both royalty and tax revenues. But a lot of very poor people pay the price of Saskatchewan prosperity.