Friday, November 30, 2012

Global Warming: A Weapon of Mass Destruction

By Yves Engler
Dissident Voice
November 30th, 2012

What do you call someone who pursues policies knowing that they contribute to large numbers of deaths?

A murderer? A politician?

At a minimum they should be investigated for crimes against humanity.

The point?

A slew of studies have detailed the growing toll anthropogenic global warming is having on millions of people around the world. The Climate Vulnerability Monitor has estimated that climate disturbances are already responsible for some 400,000 deaths per year with most of the victims living in poor countries that discharge few greenhouse gasses.

A September report commissioned by 20 governments found that over 100 million people will die by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change and carbon-intensive economies. “A combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade,” the report conducted by humanitarian organization DARA explained. According to the study, five million die each year because of air pollution, hunger and disease caused by climate change and carbon-intensive economies. By 2030 that toll is expected to reach six million if current patterns of fossil fuel use continue.

Social unionism & financial disclosure

By Juliana Saxberg and Ryan Meili
November 30, 2012

Financial disclosure for labour unions is attracting a lot of attention in both federal and provincial politics. If passed, federal Bill C-377, a Private Member’s Bill that would amend the Income Tax Act, will require unions to publicly disclose detailed confidential financial information or lose the ability to collect union dues from members without tax. Similar legislation could be introduced in Saskatchewan before the end of the year.

These measures are fundamentally not about making unions accountable; they’re about making working people more vulnerable. Not only is this legislation unnecessary, it has the potential to silence workers’ voices, both within and outside the workplace.

Here are three reasons why new financial disclosure legislation is not just unnecessary, but harmful to the democratic principles we hold dear:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Oil Rush: Where's the Political Leadership for Sustainability?

By Jim Harding
Bakken Oil Rig
No Nukes
November 28, 2012

Our leaders aren’t really leading; they are following. They are following a big myth, even a delusion several centuries in the making that the economy can continue to expand without ecological blowback putting biodiversity, water quality, human wellbeing and our society at risk. The extreme weather events from global warming are the tip of the iceberg.

It’s taking a long time to sink in. Prime Minister Harper doesn’t get it and he may never. Premier Wall doesn’t act like he gets it either. Even past federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice, who was regularly briefed on climate change and spent some quality time with David Suzuki, still refuses to get it. Recently, speaking on CBC’s The National about the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, he says “failure is not an option”. Growing carbon emissions didn’t seem to cross his mind; it’s full speed ahead with heavy oil production. As Vice President of CIBC, a major funder of and profiteer from the tar sands, Prentice says we must find a “second customer” and do this quickly.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jim Sinclair: Trying to find the man behind the myth

By Jim Harding
November 22, 2012

Sometimes we must search a little deeper for the words that can bring out vital yet still hidden realities. It can be risky, especially when you enter into the terrain of the heroic and mythic. Since Aboriginal Rights leader Jim Sinclair died I have been struggling to find deeper words and insights.


There’s no questioning Sinclair’s vital historical role in getting the M├ętis included in the Canadian Charter of Rights introduced by Prime Minister Trudeau. His shining moment was when he spoke, as a militant nationalist, at the failed First Ministers’ Conference on Aboriginal Rights in March 1987. You could tell that Prime Minister Mulroney was both stunned and impressed by the passionate and articulate case Sinclair made.

But because of my ongoing encounters with Sinclair I am left with some personal confusion about the man. My way of honouring his memory is to pursue this.

"Coming Soon!" No Expectations: A Memoir by James N. McCrorie

- NYC Books

Monday, November 19, 2012

Is the NDP becoming Liberal Lite?

November 19, 2012

A couple of polls showing the NDP losing support to the Liberals pose some pretty fundamental questions for the party and its small ‘l’ liberal leader Thomas Mulcair. Does the party follow the narrow political path of the two big business parties or does it reinvent itself as a movement party and tap into the deep dissatisfaction of Canadians about the state of politics and governance in this country?

The Harper Conservatives have mastered the techniques of the permanent election campaign – placing enormous pressure on the opposition parties to follow suit or find a way to counter them. Will the NDP try to replicate it (as the Liberals would like to) or will they, true to their radical roots, reinvent their approach and design a completely different “permanent campaign” model? The Conservatives have framed electioneering for the foreseeable future – if the NDP doesn’t respond with something new and imaginative it will lose.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New NYC Booklet on Medicare


Medicare's Birth in Saskatchewan: 50th Anniversary of a People's Victory

The two articles re-published in this pamphlet were written to address the 50th anniversary of North America's first public healthcare system for all citizens initiated in Saskatchewan on July 1, 1962.

We were researching the prolific resources and books available on the subject in preparation for a forthcoming book on the fight for medicare in Saskatchewan and wanted to raise the profile of the anniversary as the actual anniversary approached.

This pamphlet is intended as a short and quick resource for labour and health care activists as we celebrate 50 years of medicare.

- Lorne Brown, Doug Taylor

Purchase HERE.

Which Road for the Saskatchewan NDP?

By John W. Warnock 
Act Up in Sask
16 November 2012

The campaign for the new leader of the Saskatchewan NDP takes off this Saturday with the first public debate among the four candidates. There are thirteen debates scheduled between November 17 and February 16, 2013. This will allow NDP members and others to see the differences between the candidates. The leadership convention is scheduled for the weekend of March 9, 2013 in Saskatoon.

As everyone knows, the provincial NDP is in dire straits at this time. Their support among voters has dropped from 275,000 in 1991 to only 127,000 in 2011. Their membership has dropped from 46,000 in 1991 to around 8,000 today. The turnout at elections has dropped from 75% of eligible voters in 1991 to only 50% in 2011. The provincial Liberal Party has all but disappeared, which means that the NDP will likely have to win close to 51% of the vote to once again form the government. They now face Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party whose government has had an approval rating of 70% in recent public opinion polls.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interview with Lorne Brown, November 14, 2012

Rank and File Radio interviewed Lorne Brown, Professor Emeritus at the University of Regina and author of Trade Unions and Canadian Democracy: Democracy, Labour Laws, and Workers’ Rights, published by Next Year Country Books in 2012. 

In 2008, Lorne was retained by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour as an expert witness in the legal challenge against The Public Services Essential Services Act in Saskatchewan. The book is a published version of Lorne’s written submission to the courts.
Click HERE to visit the site and hear the interview.

Purchase the book HERE.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thinking about Prairie Capitalism: Interview with Larry Pratt

Interview by Jeremy Mouat

Aurora: Recently I was reading Prairie Capitalism, a book that you wrote in 1979 with John Richards, and I found myself wondering what you might think now. The book came out of a particular debate and a particular context, notably, the debate around the NDP Waffle and left nationalism. Yet the book also attempted something that hadn't been done before in Western Canadian historiography, it seemed to me. Before Prairie Capitalism, the literature had been almost exclusively narrative. Did you have this sense at the time, that you were writing a different account of Western history?

Larry Pratt: When John came to see me around 1975 – he was a Saskatchewan MLA about to lose his seat - we compared notes and we were struck by the similarities between the Blakeney NDP in Saskatchewan and the Lougheed Conservatives in Alberta. That was the first thing. The second was that we were both disenchanted nationalists. We came to feel that Lougheed couldn't be simply written off as an instrument of the working people, which is what a lot of people in the East were saying. I wrote a piece for Leo Panitch’s book, The Canadian State and in it I described a development strategy that was emerging in Alberta around petrochemicals.[1] It seemed to me that if a province was simply content to take the money and run, that that province wouldn't go through these tremendous difficulties trying to build a world class petrochemical industry. And there were a lot of other things - the Blakeney government in Saskatchewan was nationalizing potash. John and I thought that we would try to do something different. We would take the history of the two provinces right from their conception, through the populist period, to the first development period, then up to the present. John would write about Saskatchewan and I would write about Alberta, and then I would go over his work and he would go over mine. But John was a better economist than I was, and so he wrote the book’s last chapter, which I think is a really great chapter, on rent. The book probably arose out of the tremendous period of change that occurred after the price of oil went up so high in 1973-74. We had to account for the fact that these two provinces were behaving in very entrepreneurial sorts of ways. And some private factors were following.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Bitter Anniversary: Remembering the Invasion of Grenada

By Kevin Edmonds
The Other Side of Paradise
October 22, 2012

Editor's note: I remember meeting with Vincent Noel, a trade unionist and prominent member of the New Jewel Movement. He was in Regina and met with solidarity activists here. He was humble, bright and full of enthusiasm for the new Grenada. He was among the first to be shot by Coard's thugs.- NYC

The second half of October is always a time of reflection amongst progressive forces in Caribbean, but especially so in Grenada. This is because October 19 marked the 29th anniversary of the death of Maurice Bishop, the Prime Minister of the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada. In addition, October 25, 1983 will mark the 29th anniversary of the invasion of Grenada—where the United States attacked the island’s population of 110,000 with 7,000 troops via land, sea, and air.

The right wing Heritage Foundation described the 1983 invasion as“The Reagan Administration's bold action to restore democracy and a free market economy to Grenada.” Ronald Reagan himself stated that it was “no invasion; it was a rescue mission.” Guyana’s Stabroek News was more precise, calling it “one of the most egregious examples of asymmetrical warfare in modern times, the United States of America, the world’s most powerful state, invaded Grenada, one of the world’s weakest mini-states.”

Given the context of the Cold War, the United States under Reagan had been busyundermining the revolutionary government in Nicaragua, aiding the right wing paramilitaries in El Salvador, and destabilizing the progressive government of Michael Manley in Jamaica. Reagan was also eager to score a military victory and restore the confidence that had been lost after the Vietnam War and the overthrowing of the Shah in Iran. This victory was to come at the expense of the Grenadian people, and the wider hopes of the Caribbean, in constructing a model of society based on social justice.

Grasslands in Peril: A public talk by Candace Savage

Candace Savage, best-selling author of "Prairie: A Natural History" and "A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory in a Prairie Landscape" is giving a public talk that highlights the heritage of the PFRA pastures.

These pastures, more than one million acres of public land, are some of the largest remnants of native prairie and sustainably grazed pasture that we have. They're valued for environmental, agricultural, recreational, and spiritual reasons. Now, the provincial government is putting them up for sal
e or lease.

Join Candace as she explains why these grasslands are important - and should matter - to everyone in Saskatchewan. The talk will be beautifully illustrated by a slide presentation of photographs from these vital grasslands.

Thursday, November 22, at 7:00 pm
Education Auditorium, University of Regina
Free parking in lots 13M and 14M

Candace's talk is a precursor to Friday's event: Public Pastures, Public Interest, a public forum and discussion on the future of Saskatchewan's public grasslands.

Sponsored by the University of Regina Departments of Biology and Geography, Campion College, RPIRG, and SM Solutions.