Monday, October 31, 2011

Saskatchewan Election 2011: The Looming Debacle

By John Conway
Socialist Project Bullet
October 31, 2011

A reporter covering Tory Prime Minister Kim Campbell's campaign during the 1993 election likened it to watching a dog die slowly. Campbell replaced Brian Mulroney after his public support collapsed and she was punished for his sins, winning only two seats and 16 per cent of the vote.

Saskatchewan's November 7, 2011 election recalls that image to mind – the whole campaign is like watching a dog die. There is no public engagement, little interest and even less hope that casting a ballot is worth the effort. The choice between Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party and Dwain Lingenfelter's New Democrats is clear, but the differences are so marginal that it is hard to believe that anything important would change if Lingenfelter replaced Wall.

Lingenfelter knows he is losing and is determined to shore up the NDP's core vote. Hence he has run a careful, low key campaign, focussing on practical economic and social issues that might resonate broadly with the public. Issues like rent control and affordable housing, improved health care, a children's dental plan, more day care spaces and more generous subsidies, a tuition freeze and so on are all modest programs, but depend on getting a bigger share of the province's resource wealth to finance such measures for the public good.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

One Saskatchewan: The Green Party's Election Platform

Real Leadership and the Real Opposition for One Saskatchewan

Medicare - It's time to place Doctors on Salary. Eliminate Ambulance Fees. Place more emphasis on Preventative Health Care. Adopt Guaranteed Income as described at

Housing - A Green Party Government would build 1,000 new and rehabilitate 500 affordable and subsidized housing units over the next decade. Homelessness will be phased out quickly with the Guaranteed Income and our housing strategy.

Big win for the center-left forces in Argentine elections

By Emile Schepers
People's World
October 28 2011

Members of the Tupac Amaru sing and celebrate the reelection of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as they arrive at the Plaza de Mayo.
Argentine voters rewarded President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for a booming economy with a big reelection victory on Oct. 23. The victory will strengthen the trend of left of center governments working toward the economic and political integration of Latin America, which has challenged the long history of US domination of the region.

Kirchner's victory came almost on the first anniversary of the death of her husband, Nestor Kirchner, who had preceded her in the presidency.

The Global Wealth Pyramid

Read article HERE.

Click image above to enlarge

Peggy Nash pitches a pragmatic radicalism to her NDP

As she announced her NDP leadership bid, Peggy Nash shares stories about her visits to Chile and South Africa, and how it changed her politically.

Toronto Star
Fri Oct 28 2011
Peggy Nash is the practical radical.

The Toronto MP didn’t use those words when she formally announced her bid for the New Democratic Party leadership Friday at a trendy Parkdale hotel. But that’s what she meant.

The platform she sketched out to about 150 supporters is straight-up NDP orthodoxy: address social inequality; improve child care; protect the environment; deal with aboriginal poverty; and finally, boost corporate taxes to pay for it all.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Peaking outside the box: Canada’s place in the revolt

By Nadim Fetaih 
October 29, 2011

Post image for Peaking outside the box: Canada’s place in the revolt
While many people will demand the end of greed or corruption, the simplest and most straightforward demand would be for the fall of the system itself. 

Do not be fooled, while many people will demand the end to corporate greed, or corrupt government, or even demand extremist reformist strategies that can help appease humanity within the capitalist (or increasingly corporatist) system, none of these can be the occupational demand. The simplest and most straightforward demand we can make is for the fall of the system itself.

The system has failed. It has failed so entirely that everyone is focusing on the branches of its failures as they fall — and of course they should, as with each falling branch come incredibly disastrous outcomes. But with so many branches dying, does it not make sense to check its root? To plant a new tree and start the growth anew?

Sask Party Shills for PotashCorp

By Erin Weir 
Progressive Economics Forum
Yesterday’s strong earnings report from the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan confirms what this blog and the NDP have been contending: even modestly increasing Saskatchewan’s extremely low royalties on hugely profitable potash mines could fund substantially better provincial public services.

The Saskatchewan Party still refuses to review potash royalties. In a well-timed column, Greg Fingas developed the theme that this gift to potash companies is the provincial election’s most expensive promise.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Farmers Take a Stand!

Today farmers in Saskatchewan and Alberta stood in front of Harper’s train to kill the Canadian Wheat Board.

Canadian Wheat Board Alliance
October 20, 2011

Farmers loading producer grain cars on the farmer owned Battle River Railway in central Alberta held up “Stop Harper” signs and “Respect Farmers, Respect our Vote” signs to indicate their displeasure with Ottawa’s plans to end the single desk of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Howard Vincett, a Galahad, Alberta farmer and a Board member of the new generation cooperative observed “there is no question our cooperative will be badly hurt by the end of the Wheat Board. Our community has invested almost 10 million dollars and countless hours of work and all that is now going to be lost without the Wheat Board. Harper needs to respect our farmer vote to keep the Wheat Board and withdraw this legislation.”

Sask Rally to the tracks

In Colonsay, Saskatchewan, just south of Saskatoon, Bill Gehl, chairperson of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance joined several dozen farmers to echo the concerns expressed in Alberta. “This legislation will not put one extra dime in the pockets of western Canadian grain farmers, but it will destroy the short line railways, farmer owned terminals and producer car loading facilities we have spent the past twenty years building.”

A message for Ottawa from Alberta

“Terry Boehm, president of the National Farmers Union went on to say “the fact Minister Ritz is admitting that public money will have to be spent to keep the port of Churchill alive if the CWB is destroyed certainly shows that this is simply an act of vandalism against western Canada’s farmers in the name of ideology.”

Saskatchewan farmers take a stand

In Manitoba, Andrew Dennis, a member of the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board which has launched legal action said “the invoking of closure in Parliament reinforces our belief that Harper’s legislation is illegal and we are confident the courts will find in our favour.”

Bill Gehl concluded by saying “Harper and Ritz are simply wrong to say they have a mandate to end the Wheat Board. We are the majority and in every Wheat Board Directors election and plebiscite held for farmers the message has been the same. Keep your hands off our Wheat Board. We need the help of all Canadians to oppose this attack on farmers and the democratic process.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Sask Party’s 0.1% Health Plan

By Erin Weir 
Progressive Economics Forum
The banner headline, in block capitals, on the front page of yesterday’s Regina Leader-Post was “SASK. PARTY HAS FIVE-POINT HEALTH PLAN.”

That’s accurate reporting, as far as it goes. The Saskatchewan Party did announce a healthcare plan featuring five points.

It would have been similarly accurate to report that this announcement was accompanied by a six-page backgrounder.  However, it would be nice to read some context for the numbers, especially those with dollar signs in front of them.

The Sask Party health plan tops out at $10.8 million per year, of which $5 million is a re-announcement of the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society program.  So, the Sask Party has promised up to $5.8 million annually of new money for healthcare. That’s just 0.1% of Saskatchewan Health’s 2011-12 budget.

Mysteries abound in NDP leadership race

Party members, not insiders, will make ultimate choice.

By Ish Theilheimer 
October 17, 2011
In the old TV game show, Let's Make a Deal, contestants had to guess what delights were hidden behind the mysterious doors Number One, Two and Three. The federal NDP leadership race is the most interesting in decades, both because of the real prospect of power and a plethora of interested talent. And it appears to be that sort of guessing game.

Every candidate and potential candidate has questions to answer, and each New Democrat voting has some real work to do to unravel the mysteries surrounding them, which is why Straight Goods News has been running profiles on the candidates, potential candidates and other leaders within the Party.

Reconstructing the Left

By Shayn McCallum
Social Europe Journal
October 20, 2011

A striking dilemma facing the Left almost everywhere outside Latin America is that, despite a massive crisis of globalised capitalism and the nakedly ideological bloody-mindedness of neo-liberalism, the Left is largely failing to rise to the occasion. How is it that, in a time of economic meltdown brought on by rampant, neo-liberal (il)logic concerning the desirability of untrammeled free-markets, there has not been a sharp turn to the Left and a call to reassert popular sovereignty once more over the market? Why is the cry of “people before profits” limited to the activists of the street?

There are, of course, a number of reasons for the difficulties of the Left in this period, certainly a massive neo-liberal counterrevolution, picking up momentum since the 1980’s, has transformed our societies in directions that do not favour the Left. It is not only the liberalisation of economics and hollowing out of democratic politics that we need to contend with but also the pervasiveness of economism and individualist culture that have undermined the popular basis for Left activity.

Building Counterpower

By Ed Lewis, Tim Gee
New Left Project
October 20, 2011

Tim Gee is an activist, a blogger and a campaigns trainer. His first book Counterpower: Making Change Happen is published today. It looks at the strategies and tactics that have contributed to the success (or otherwise) of some of the most prominent movements for change, from India’s Independence Movement to the Arab Spring. He discussed the ideas in the book with NLP's Ed Lewis.

Your book centres on the concept of 'Counterpower' - what is this and why is it important?

Almost all social movements, whether reformist or revolutionary talk about the need to build power. But what this means varies from person to person – and in some cases is little more than rhetoric.

Counterpower is a rejection of the view that effective campaigners must simply engage with power as it is, seize power, or form alliances with the powerful. Instead it is an argument for the perpetual redistribution of power from the haves to the have-nots.

Happy Birthday Tommy Douglas!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chicago exhibit shines light on communist art

By Jordan Farrar
People's World
October 19 2011

"For many decades, communists were the only political group in South Africa who were prepared to treat Africans as human beings and as their equals." 

These immortal words of Nelson Mandela adorned the wall at the entrance to the Smart Gallery in Chicago's showing of  "Vision and Communism," an exhibit of the artwork of Viktor Koretsky.

Koretsky was famous for his dramatic style and bold portrayals of the war on fascism and his critiques of treatment of Africans in Africa and in America. Koretsky was most famous from a war poster he created with a woman and her young son reminiscent of Madonna and child facing a swastika emblazoned bayonet that is dripping with blood. His shocking art won great favor during the Great Patriotic War (WWII), giving him prominence in his field of soviet propaganda design.

This showing is based around his work on the question of African liberation and most specifically against the apartheid government of South Africa. Walking through the gallery the contrast of paintings of men holding missiles while donning a Klan robe and the South African protest music pumping through the speakers was cryptic and reminded one of the true horrors that occurred in South Africa and at home in America and the fierce opposition that suffered greatly from them.

While images of skeletons and dollar signs made of rope encircling African necks shocked as intended, some other subject matter was displayed. Many anti-war posters simply proclaiming "peace" with images of people of all colors holding a red flag were juxtaposed against images of American GIs flaunting the watches and gold chains they attained as war spoils, and a poster of a young Vietnamese child reading a communist book on the wing of a downed American airplane.

Koretsky's in your face style and black and white view of the political world show a real connection between modern art and it's distant soviet counterpart. Both in style and in execution many artists today screaming at the injustices in the world through their canvases can see that even decades ago, on the other side of the planet, artists were paving the way for their arrival.

The Smart Museum is also currently displaying another small exhibit called 'Process and Artistry in the Soviet Vanguard' which shows the process by which some of the most famous soviet era propaganda posters were created step by step. Both exhibits run until Jan. 22, 2011, and are free to the public, and well worth the trip.

Equality and sustainability at stake in Sask election

By Jim Harding
No Nukes
October 19, 2011

The 2008 global recession was sparked by greedy, largely unregulated U.S. banks. Now the Euro zone stands on the brink of a recession brought on by more corporate greed. Some U.S. middle class families who had mortgages beyond their earning power have joined the homeless, while millions of foreclosed homes stand empty, providing no one shelter. While austerity is forced on European pensioners, the working poor and youth, bank and corporate earnings continue to mount.

Has the breaking point come? Might the growing inequality and corporate greed be the sleeper in our November 7th provincial election?

Greece on the brink of social explosion

By Matthaios Tsimitakis
Greek Left Review
October 18, 2011

While surfing online, last week, I stuumbled on a blog-post that describes the life of a 37-year-old woman in Athens in these days of crisis. Unfortunately it is indicative of the condition in which so many gradually have entered as time under Troika and IMF, “rescue policies” passes by. Translated here is an excerpt:

“I have worked since I was 16 and I have lived in Athens since I was 24. I remember that many times I had to struggle in order to survive with two jobs, but never have I stayed unemployed for too long. During the past eight years there were times when things were tight and difficult and other times when things were more or less ok. But not even in the most difficult period of my life, as a University student, did I find myself in the position I am today. For thirteen years I struggled, I fought, I stood on my feet. But now I can’t take it anymore. I’m giving up.

The Democratic Fraud and the Universalist Alternative

By Samir Amin
Monthly Review
October 2011

The Democratic Fraud Challenges Us to Invent Tomorrow’s Democracy

Universal suffrage is a recent conquest, beginning with workers’ struggles in a few European countries (England, France, Holland, and Belgium) and then progressively extending throughout the world. Today, everywhere on the planet, it goes without saying that the demand for delegating supreme power to an honestly elected, multiparty assembly defines the democratic aspiration and guarantees its realization—or so it is claimed.

Marx himself put great hopes on such universal suffrage as a possible “peaceful path to socialism.” Yet, I have noted that on this score Marx’s expectations were refuted by history (cf. Marx et la démocratie).

I think that the reason for the failure of electoral democracy to produce real change is not hard to find: all hitherto existing societies have been based on a dual system of exploitation of labor (in various forms) and of concentration of the state’s powers on behalf of the ruling class. This fundamental reality results in a relative “depoliticization/disacculturation” of very large segments of society.

Read more HERE.

Harper and Ritz are users and abusers of western voters

October 18, 2011

The farmers of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance condemn the Harper Government’s introduction of legislation to kill the Canadian Wheat Board.

“The introduction of this legislation is built on a collection of myths by an undemocratic and bullying administration,” said Bill Gehl, chairperson of the CWBA.

At a widely quoted election forum in Minnedosa, Manitoba, Minister Ritz said his party “respects the vote” of farmers who support the single desk and suggested there would not be any attempt to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board unless a majority of producers vote for it. Ritz went on to say “until farmers make that change, I’m not prepared to work arbitrarily. They are absolutely right to believe in democracy. I do, too.”

“Minister Ritz knows very well that farmers took him at his word on the Wheat Board issue, and he and Mr. Harper used farmers’ trust to stab us in the back” Gehl said.

Gehl went on to observe that “Minister Ritz has moved from misleading farmers to abusing the voters of western Canada by claiming the Federal election results gave him the mandate to end the CWB. Since farmers are only 2% of the population spread over 57 western ridings, claiming the Conservative Party has a mandate from farmers to change the Canadian Wheat Board is ridiculous and I think most urban voters agree that farmers should decide this issue, not Ottawa.”

Gehl went on to say “the farmer plebiscite held this summer shows that nearly two thirds of farmers support our Wheat Board’s single desk marketing system and Minister Ritz has reinforced his contempt for democracy by ignoring our vote” Gehl said.

“I know the majority of farmers oppose the legislation. It is time for the Harper government to stop abusing farmers, withdraw this legislation, and leave us alone to run our Wheat Board” concluded Gehl.

It’s time to kill the newest job-killing free trade deal, the Canada EU trade agreement (CETA)

We are told that this proposed free trade deal with the EU will be good for us, those of us who make up the 99%. That’s as true as the argument that rising incomes for the wealthy will help the economy.

By Larry Brown
October 19, 2011

The comparison is mind-numbing.

In a downtown park in Ottawa citizens are ‘occupying’ the park grounds to underline the public’s concerns about some major issues: the growing inequality between the rich and the rest of us, the fact that our government is more and more a government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy and that the 1% have gotten obscenely rich while the 99% have struggled.

Meanwhile, in another part of Ottawa, in a warm and comfortable conference room, Canadian government officials are meeting with European Union (EU) officials to move us ever closer to a new trade deal that will benefit only the 1% and that will hurt the interests of the 99% - the rest of us.

How does Saskatchewan "grade" on renewable energy?

By Jim Harding
No Nukes
October 18, 2011

With a provincial election coming, it’s time to take stock of how well Saskatchewan is doing making the transition to a sustainable energy system. How do policies and programs here compare with other provinces, the U.S. and Europe? In a nutshell we are still far behind where California was in 1983 and have apparently learned nothing from the successes in Europe since 1991. We aren’t even in the same ball park as Ontario was back in 2006.


Our federal and provincial governments push for Trans-Canada’s Keystone pipeline to bring even more toxic tar-sand oil through the lush southern prairies into the U.S. They push for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast where tankers going to China will threaten the marine ecology and diminishing fish stocks. Meanwhile, year-by-year, non-toxic renewable energy makes steady gains.

Monday, October 17, 2011

COC: Make Nuclear Waste a Saskatchewan Election Issue!

Council of Canadians
October 17, 2011

With three weeks to go until the people of Saskatchewan head to the polls on November 7 to elect a new government, there's a critical issue that isn't getting the attention it deserves: the threat of a nuclear waste dump being located in Saskatchewan.

Please take action to ensure that party leaders and local candidates can't avoid this issue, by calling on them to make their position on nuclear waste clear during the election.


Since the leaders aren’t talking about a nuclear waste dump in Saskatchewan, the Council of Canadians is mobilizing members like you to build the grassroots pressure needed to put the issue on the election agenda.

We want all candidates, and especially the leaders to answer one simple yes or no question: If your party wins the election, will your government commit to legislating a ban on the importation, transportation and storage of nuclear waste in Saskatchewan?

Here are a few ways you can ask the question and force the parties to tell the people of Saskatchewan where they stand:

South Africa: The Struggle – for Socialism – Continues

By John S. Saul 
October 17, 2011

This article seeks to identify ways in which those engaged in socialist practice in South Africa might hope to more clearly navigate their way forward. It asks, in short, what is to be done – and how?

I. Beyond the “working class”: expanding the constituency

Marx had Good reason to emphasize the role of the working class in looking toward potentially revolutionary contradictions within an emerging capitalist mode of production: members of the working class were the most exploited (at least in the technical sense in which he used the word) and were also brought together as a potentially self-conscious class by the very capitalist dynamic of concentration and centralization that defined its exploitation. It is not surprising that this formulation has served as the staple of left understanding and action since the nineteenth century.

Of course, within that working class, there are also fissures and hierarchies and divisions (along lines of race, ethnicity, and gender) that impede its self-consciousness and its praxis. As Leo Panitch stated in a recent issue of The Socialist Register, “To speak of strategy for labour needs some justification today… Class, we have been reminded so often, is not everything.” Still, he feels moved to add immediately, “But nor is class nothing.” Fair enough, yet I sense that Marxists must go even further in thinking “outside the box” of rigid class identities, especially in analyzing the realities of the Global South. For there are, indeed, other things out there that are “not nothing” and they are entirely germane to revolutionary aspirations.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sask Party Deficit Math

By Erin Weir 
Progressive Economics Forum
The Saskatchewan NDP is proposing to collect higher potash royalties and save a portion of the proceeds in a new Bright Futures Fund. The NDP has also expressed its willingness to negotiate with First Nations about the possibility of resource revenue sharing.

The right-wing Saskatchewan Party strangely claims that the NDP’s plan “would plunge the province back into 1980s-style budget deficits.” In the 1980s, the Progressive Conservative party (whose legislative caucus later formed the Sask Party) governed the province. The current Sask Party leader was a ministerial assistant to that deficit-running government.

Today’s Sask Party calculations count contributions to the Bright Futures Fund and revenue sharing with First Nations as expenditures without accounting for additional royalty revenues. The ridiculous premise is that an NDP government would try to save and share nonexistent revenue.

It appears that health minister Don McMorris may still be pushing the calculator buttons at Sask Party headquarters.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Playing for Change in Columbia

La Tierra del Olvido

This video features over 75 musicians across the country of Colombia. Throughout our journey we have learned that music is the greatest tool for healing broken countries, cultures and hearts. With this video we set out to unite and inspire the people of Colombia so they can move forward from years of conflict and create a positive future. Listen to the music, see the smiling faces, and remember that we are going to make it as a human race!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Immanuel Wallerstein: We Are in Transition to Another System Beyond Capitalism

Emmanuel Wallerstein
RT News
October 9, 2011

Modern capitalism has reached the end of its rope, argues Immanuel Wallerstein, Senior Research Scholar at Yale University. Capitalism cannot survive as a system and what we are witnessing now is a structural crisis of the system.

In Wallerstein's view, the structural crisis goes on for a long time. It started in the 1970's and will go on for another 30-40 years. It's not a crisis of a year or of a moment, its a major structural unfolding of a system and we are in transition to another system.

The real political struggle that is going on in the world today, though most people refuse to recognize it, is not about whether or not we should have capitalism, but about what should replace it, contends Wallerstein.

People's meeting on housing

Written by SPRU 
Act Up in Sask
Friday, 14 October 2011

The Social Policy Research Unit, Faculty of Social Work will be bringing in Mary Bricker-Jenkins, long-time advocate for the poor, to lead a public discussion about the lack of affordable housing, evictions and homelessness and what can be done. Dr Bricker-Jenkins is professor emerita, School of Social Work, Temple University, PA. In 2003 she was named Pennsylvania State Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) for her efforts to eliminate poverty.

She was the driving force behind the formation of the Economic Human Rights Pennsylvania Campaign (EHR-PA), a ground-level movement organized to tackle poverty by integrating economic human rights standards into state laws. The group was founded under the premise that the US, by virtue of covenants it signed with the United Nations and the Organization of American States, is in violation of mandates requiring countries to guarantee their citizens access to such basic human rights as housing, education and health. Bricker-Jenkins is a member of the Poor People’s Economic Human Right Campaign; the International Alliance of Habitants (IAI); the Assembly to End Poverty; and currently is the convener of the USA-Canada Alliance of Inhabitants (USACAI), a network of community-based groups and organizations working to claim the right to housing, land, and the city.

This event will take place on Friday, Nov. 4th at the Knox Met Church from 10 am until 3 pm. More info will follow. Everyone welcome.


Assembly to End Poverty
Video: ending with the shame and blame about poverty

The Voice of the Mapuche

Director: Pablo Fernandez and Andrea Henriquez


The Mapuche defeated the Spanish Crown invaders, and do not recognize the border that Chile and Argentina have tried to impose. Presently, the struggle is focused on maintaining their identity as a people, and stopping the encroachment of multinational corporations in Mapuche ancestral territory. In an effort to increase profits, logging, hydroelectric, oil, mining, and tourist companies - among others - cause destruction and pollution on both sides of the Andes Mountains.

The music, the paintings, the poetry, the language, the rituals, the traditions, and the strength of nature and the ancestors are present in "The Voice of the Mapuche". In this independent documentary, the Mapuche vision of the world is the basis to understand the struggle.

About the Broadbent Institute

The Broadbent Institute

The Broadbent Institute is a progressive think-tank that will focus on developing social democratic ideas for the 21st century and training the next generation of campaigners and activists. It is about thought and action – new solutions for problems facing Canadians.

The Broadbent Institute's mission is to identify, develop, and support individuals and policies that can advance our common vision of free, equal, and compassionate citizenship in Canada. Fresh thinking and action outside the established patterns is what is needed for the future, and that is what the Broadbent Institution is all about.

Click HERE to follow.

Canada’s Billionaires

By Jim Stanford 
Progressive Economics Forum
Just in time for the “Occupy Bay Street” protest this weekend, Canadian Business magazine has come out with its annual listing of the richest 100 people in Canada.  So in honour of the protestors and their noble cause (demanding more attention to the 99%, instead of the 1%), let’s peruse together the sordid details of Canada’s ultra-rich.

Indeed, if there wasn’t already a grass-roots surge of outrage against the excesses and privilege of the wealthy, this magazine alone could spark one.  It is so unselfconscious and uncritical in its slavish reporting of the wonders of wealth, that one wonders if Canadian Business’s editors have any awareness whatsoever of how most human beings actually live.

For example, there’s a special spread on the latest trends in ostentatious consumption by the super-rich, including their penchant for buying entire towns (like the recent purchase of picturesque Buckskin, Colorado by the infamous Koch Brothers), and yachts over 200 feet in length (which are now distinguished from plain ordinary superyachts by a new term “gigayachts”).
A few pages further along is another offensive feature: a fawning article, illustrated in oak-paneled hues, about the benefits of setting up your own “family office.”  The rich, it seems, actually need a “family CFO” to manage all their wealth and investments.  “Taking care of wealth is a business in itself,” the article writes in wonder.  That’s why you need a “personalized C-suite,” with multiple staff, to keep track of all those zeroes.  (And who said they just sit around clipping coupons?)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Declaration of Solidarity: Occupy Regina

Occupy Regina
October 13, 2011


Occupy Regina recognizes that the capitalist system has profited the few at the expense of the many. We acknowledge that we stand on Treaty 4 territory. For the first time, we occupy this land, united as one People, standing in solidarity with:
Indigenous Peoples, Peoples of Color, women, LGBT2Q community, students, the homeless, the un and under employed, workers, the differently abled, the elderly, migrants, immigrants & refugees, youth, future generations-yet unborn, and all people exploited by capitalism.

This is a call for harmonious co-existence, for respecting and healing our collective histories, and for the dismantling of those systems that perpetuate all forms of domination and injustice. We acknowledge our greatest enemy is division, and solidarity our greatest ally.

In Solidarity,

The 99%

The 1% respond!

Keep Up the Good Work! (Just don’t expect us to pay you for it.)

Erika Shaker 
October 13th, 2011

We know it’s been a while since we talked; it’s not that we haven’t wanted to, it’s just that things keep coming up. Plus we keep hearing how busy you are, working harder and longer, with less and less time for your families. So we understand that you can’t always make it down to the Embassy Club—even though it’s really the best time to catch us when we’re ready to kick back and relax over a few drinks and shoot the breeze about how to invest last year’s bonus.

Not to start this off on a sour note, but we have to say that the recent spate of articles and reports suggesting that we are less empathetic, less compassionate, and less pro-social than you really hurt.

Occupy Protests in Saskatchewan

Larry Hubich
President, SFL
October 13, 2011

Brothers and Sisters;

By now, many will already be aware of the Occupy Wall Street protests that have been carried out in New York City for over two weeks. Few could have predicted many months ago that grassroots movements on the other side of the globe in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Greece, and the UK, to name a few, could have possibly inspired what we are currently seeing across North America.

What we are currently witnessing is a truly organic movement of people united in the belief that the greed of the few does not outweigh the needs of the many. The Occupy Movement represents what people can accomplish when they are committed to making their voices heard, to telling governments that corporations cannot be allowed to write the rules for our society. Furthermore, the protests represent the single largest acts of international solidarity in history. People across the globe are identifying with one another over shared concerns and shared experiences like never before. The results have been truly inspiring and the movement continues to grow with each passing day.

Inspired by the great success of the Occupy Wall Street protests in raising issues important to the vast majority of people, Occupy protests have been planned in both Regina and Saskatoon for Saturday, October 15th, 2011.

In Regina, supporters will gather in Victoria Park at 12:00pm.

In Saskatoon, supporters will meet in front of the Law Building on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan.

For more information, please visit the Occupy Regina and the Occupy Saskatoon Facebook pages.

The Occupy protests have at their core the belief that decisions should be made in the best interests of people and not those of corporate shareholders, CEOs, lobbyists, politicians, or bankers. The protests are an exciting new chapter in democracy consistent with what the labour movement has supported for decades, and I would strongly encourage everyone to offer support to Occupy Regina and Occupy Saskatoon in whatever way possible.

In solidarity,

Larry Hubich, President
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour

What the Wall Street protests mean in Canada

By Armine Yalnizyan
Globe and Mail Blog
Thursday, October 13, 2011

This is not the stuff of usual protests. Over the past month, a little idea from a Vancouver outfit has mushroomed into a cross-continent movement.

Occupy Wall Street, kicked off by Adbusters in July and coming to Toronto this weekend, has already spread to 70 American cities and is going global as protestors challenge society to rethink how the economy and the government operates, and for whom.

It’s an awakening -- a populist call for that “adult conversation” many thought would take place after the global economic calamity of 2008. It didn’t then. But it may now, thanks to Occupy Wall Street, in a city near you.

Socialist Register 2012: The Crisis and the Left.

Socialist Register
October 2011

This year’s Socialist Register continues its coverage of the economic crisis. It deepens the analysis with essays on:

• the global roots of the crisis;
• the place of the city as a site of capital accumulation and resistance;
• the dismantling of the public sector;
• the fraudulence of neoliberal 'environmentalism';
• the intensification of global austerity.

The full table of contents and a link to download the preface are accessible at the bottom of this page.

Order a print copy now here or check out our online subscription options to access the complete digital archive of over 700 essays published since 1964 by clicking here.

Saskatchewan: What happened to the NDP?

By John Warnock
October 13, 2011

The writ has dropped. There will be a provincial election in Saskatchewan on Nov. 7. Public opinion polls over the past two year suggest that Premier Brad Wall's conservative Saskatchewan Party will win by a landslide over the opposition New Democratic Party, led by Dwain Lingenfelter. The polls also reveal that the provincial Liberal Party is facing total collapse and will likely be replaced as the third party by the Greens.

There are no major issues in the campaign. Wall's government has not been friendly to trade unions but otherwise has been quite moderate. The Saskatchewan economy is doing well compared to other North American jurisdictions. In a province where home ownership stands at 70 per cent, people believe that their wealth has increased with the housing bubble of the past five years. The vote will be a referendum on the two leaders.

Sask Party Healthcare Math

By Erin Weir 
Progressive Economics Forum
Yesterday, the Saskatchewan Party claimed that the provincial NDP’s plan for 30 additional primary healthcare clinics would cost $840 million. It has since removed this goofy press release from its website, but here’s a screenshot.

The Sask Party multiplied the Saskatoon Community Clinic’s $7-million annual provincial cost by 30, and then multiplied that total by four years ($7 million*30*4= $840 million). Of course, a community clinic is not the same as a primary healthcare clinic. The latter’s annual cost is typically under $1 million.

As reported by CBC, the Health Minister admitted the error but still tried to blame the NDP: “While [Don] McMorris owned-up to his party’s mistake, he said the NDP should have included a statement about the cost of its healthcare promise. He said if they had, he would not have made the mistaken calculation.”

Linda McQuaig in Regina and Saskatoon

Saskatchewan Office
October 2011

Award-winning journalist and best-selling author Linda McQuaig will speak in both Regina and Saskatoon on Wednesday October 19th and Thursday October 20th.

Linda will discuss her new book, The Trouble with Billionaires, which critically examines how extremes of wealth undermine both our quality of life and our democracy.

Please join the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for what is sure to be an evening of thought-provoking discussion.

Wednesday, October 19th 7:30 pm Education Auditorium, University of Regina

Thursday, October 20th 7:00 pm Third Avenue United Church, Saskatoon

Tickets will be available at the door.


The Trouble with Billionaires: Why too much money at the top is bad for everyone

The glittering lives of billionaires may seem like a harmless source of entertainment. But such concentrated economic power reverberates throughout society, threatening the quality of life and the very functioning of democracy. It's no accident that the United States claims the most billionaires – but suffers among the highest rates of infant mortality and crime, the shortest life expectancy, as well as the lowest rates of social mobility and electoral political participation in the developed world.

Our society tends to regard large fortunes as evidence of great talent or accomplishment. Yet the vast new wealth isn't due to an increase in talent or effort at the top, but rather to changing social attitudes legitimizing greed and government policy changes that favour the new elite. Authoritative and eye-opening, The Trouble with Billionaires will spark debate about the kind of society we want.

Please watch this space for more details in the future, or contact the Saskatchewan Office at (306) 924-3373 or by email at

What Antonio Gramsci offers to social democracy

By Sally Davison
Policy Network
10 October 2011

Gramsci’s notion of hegemony offers social democrats an analytical framework within which to better understand and challenge the entrenched interests of capital in society and a way of thinking about creating the conditions for political change

A key dilemma for social democrats today is to find a way of challenging the dominance of capital and business interests while remaining located within a gradualist framework that does not envisage any immediate prospect of fundamental change. If no serious alternative is on the cards, is there any point in critiquing the way that capitalism functions? If the left’s influence appears to be diminishing, why not accept that there is no alternative to the market? 

Without contemporary answers to these questions, social democrats face continuing decline: throughout the current financial crisis their popularity has been plummeting, largely because they have been unable to make a principled stand against those responsible for what has happened – for indeed many have largely embraced the same policies. Social democrats lack a politics that can simultaneously both act as a critique of capitalism and yet accept that it is the system in which they will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.

Sask Party Tuition Math

By Erin Weir 
Progressive Economics Forum
In Saskatchewan’s provincial election campaign, the incumbent Saskatchewan Party is promising a scholarship of up to $500 per year for new high-school graduates who undertake post-secondary studies.

It claims that this scholarship is worth “THREE TIMES” the annual increase in university tuition fees, which has averaged $146.50 over the past four years.

What the Sask Party seems to miss is that these annual tuition increases have been cumulative. So, a full-time undergraduate student is now paying annual tuition $586 higher than four years ago.

When the Sask Party took office in 2007, the average full-time undergraduate student in the province paid annual tuition fees of $5,015.

Under another Sask Party government, new high-school graduates who enter full-time university studies would face average tuition of $5,601 per year plus further tuition increases minus a provincial scholarship of up to $500 per year.

In other words, even those students eligible for the proposed scholarship will pay more than they would have under the previous NDP government’s tuition freeze.

It’s possible, it’s necessary

Antonio David Cattani reviews Ours to Master and to Own

Red Pepper
October 2011

In Jean-Luis Cornolli’s film Cecília (a history of Giovanni Rossi, the Italian anarchist who built, with his companions, a libertarian community in the south of Brazil at the end of the 19th century) the main character speaks sublimely of comunità anarchica sperimentale. These communist principles ensured that common property and individual autonomy were guided by economic solidarity and mutually-constructed norms of living.

After a few years, political and personal internal conflict, aggravated by material difficulties and external repression by the authorities, provoked the end of the self-managed community. One of the leaders laments the failure but Rossi calmly retorts that they had proven that it is possible to live freely without bosses and working in a spontaneous way for the common good. Despite being short-lived, the experience had various lessons for advancing the search for freedom.

The social experiences analysed in Ours to Master and to Own illustrate this same principle: it is possible! It is possible to live without oppressive hierarchies and despotic authorities, and to live without petty competition.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Afghanistan: Ten Years of Tragedy and Misguided Policy

By Ramzy Baroud
Foreign Policy Journal
October 13, 2011

On July 1, 2002, US planes bombed an Afghan wedding in the small village of Deh Rawud. Located to the north of Kandahar, the village seemed fortified by the region’s many mountains. For a few hours, its people thought they were safe from a war they had never invited. They celebrated, and as customs go, fired intermittently into the air.

The joyous occasion however, turned into an orgy of blood that will define the collective memory of Deh Rawud for generations.

It was reported that the US air force used a B-52 bomber and an AC-130 helicopter gunship in a battle against imagined terrorists. According to Afghan authorities, 40 people were killed and 100 wounded (The Guardian, July 2, 2002). Expectedly, the US military refused to apologize.

The Quest for Alternatives beyond (Neoliberal) Capitalism

Melisa R. Serrano and Edlira Xhafa 
Socialist Register
September, 2011

Capitalism is not the only form of economy. Alternative economies—people’s economies—exist in which human needs and relationships are more important than competition and profit.

Forms of solidarity economy built on the principles and values of cooperation, equality, self-determination and democracy, exist and are taking shape in many parts of the world. These forms include household economies, barter economies, collective economies including cooperatives, worker-controlled economies, subsistence market economies, community budgeting, participatory budgeting, community-based local currency exchange systems, and ethical trading, among others. Labor organizations have also provided spaces for building capacities in the struggle to defy capitalism.

The paper aims to contribute to the discourse on alternatives to capitalism. We go about by first examining recent works dealing with the issue of alternatives to capitalism (and neoliberalism). We define `alternative’ as an on-going multi-dimensional, non-deterministic process of people’s economic and political struggle beyond the capitalist logic, whether macro, meso or micro, to change their circumstances and simultaneously transform themselves in the process.

Full development of human potential based on equality, solidarity and sustainability through democratic participatory processes is at the core of an alternative. Then, we look at how various forms of peoples’ solidarity economies and state-initiated democratic participatory schemes become spaces or provide spaces for the development of counter-consciousness (outside the capitalist `common sense’) and concomitantly build capacities for the development of projects, initiatives and economies beyond the capitalist logic. By addressing changes in the mode of production and the labor process within their spaces, we argue that many of these organizations, projects and initiatives, are the ‘materialization’ or actual manifestation of non-capitalist alternatives.

Read this paper HERE.

Single desk for potash, why not wheat and barley?

By Ken
Canadian Wheat Board Alliance
Oct 11, 2011

Can someone explain why Premier Brad Wall, now standing for re-election in Saskatchewan, was passionate about his support for single desk selling of potash yet he can hardly lift a finger to support the majority of farmers who just voted for single desk selling of their wheat and barley?

At least Alberta is a little closer to deep water and has oil and the cattle feeding sector, but what does Saskatchewan have? A couple of potash mines that look pretty small by most standards, and a huge grain farming sector. Saskatchewan produces better than 60% of the wheat and barley the CWB markets each year.

For every dollar a farmer earns, he puts about eight dollars into circulation in the economy. Ending the CWB is estimated to remove between 500 million to one and a half billion dollars from the western economy, and most of that will come out of Saskatchewan.

If this does not become an election issue, more than just the premier have their heads in the sand.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Canada Pursues a More Aggressive Security and Foreign Policy

By Dana Gabriel
Be Your Own Leader
October 11, 2011

In the last number of years, there has been a dramatic shift in Canadian security and foreign policy with regards to continental, hemispheric and global issues. While Canada is working with the U.S. on a North American security perimeter deal, there are also efforts to strengthen defense relations with Britain and other allies. Canada has also elevated its status in NATO and is playing a more prominent role in military operations overseas.

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay recently met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to discuss bilateral security cooperation issues. In a news release, Minister Mackay praised the Canada-U.S. partnership as unique and explained, “Our binational command in NORAD, as well as the daily operation between our military and defence teams is a tangible demonstration of how we stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the defence of North America and in addressing common global challenges.” He went on to say, “We are proud to work alongside our U.S. friends in the Americas, in Libya, in Afghanistan, and as transatlantic partners of NATO.” 

Is Canada rediscovering its core social democratic values?

By Murray Dobbin
October 10, 2011

Occupy Wall Street -- and now Bay Street? The 99 per cent? Conservatives losing elections all over the country? American billionaires demanding to be taxed at higher rates?

Is something happening here?

Perhaps the first indication was the totally unexpected reaction to Jack Layton's death. It may be that it was unexpected because so many people had become numbed by the state of the world. It was not just the election of a majority Harper government and the terrible consequences it would bring, but famine and war and economic meltdown and the pushing to the back burner of the life-and-death issue of climate change. Wasn't everyone at home with the blanket pulled over their heads? Would they even know that Layton had died?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The life of woman who shot Mussolini

By Phil Shannon
Green Left Weekly
Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Woman Who Shot Mussolini
By Frances Stonor Saunders
Faber and Faber, 2010
375 pages, $32.99 (pb)

The Honourable Violet Gibson was not like the other women of the Anglo-Irish elite when it came to Benito Mussolini, the leader of Italy's fascists.

While Lady Asquith (wife of the former prime minister) was delighted by Mussolini, and Clementine Churchill (wife of the future prime minister) was awestruck by “one of the most wonderful men of our times”, Violet Gibson aimed a revolver at the fascist dictator in Italy in April 1926 and shot him in the nose.