• Bush’s Victory and Canada’s Choice

    The re-election of George Bush at least clarifies things. Within the strict confines of what passes for democracy in the United States today, the American electorate has affirmed the rogue imperialist policies of Bush and rejected the more traditional imperialism advocated by Kerry. This outcome reflects profound changes not only in the nature of America’s politics, but in its whole economic and social order. As such, it holds grave implications for Canada and the rest of the world. Within the United States, Bush’s re-election represents the consolidation of a right-wing plutocracy backed by the soldiers of God over American politics and society. Grave damage, or even the outright end of the corrupt American political democracy, can be expected. Regressive social and economic policies, including the gutting of the Social Security System, are likely.

  • The Cost of Forgetting

    Even this close to downtown, the buildings are small. This landscape is from a time when bustling city centres were not synonymous with glass towers, live-work studios and lifestyle marketing. Tonight I am surrounded by wood-shingled houses and brick or concrete four-story apartments glowing under the rain and street lights. I am walking through Canada’s “worst” neighbourhood, our poorest postal code, North America’s largest open drug market, on my way to the theatre.

  • “Utopia on the Pacific”?

    November, 2002: Jammed into the downtown library, 2,000 activists roared as the results of Vancouver’s civic election were announced. For the first time since its formation in 1968, the labour/Left-backed Coalition of Progressive Electors swept the race, electing the mayor (Larry Campbell), eight of ten city councillors, seven of nine school trustees, and five of seven Parks Board commissioners. Visions of “Utopia on the Pacific” danced in the minds of campaign workers.

  • Glen Murray’s Failed New Deal

    When he was president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Jack Layton called for cities to be recognized constitutionally so as to be independent of the provinces and to be able to create their own forms of taxation. The Federation backed his argument that cities could not continue to finance themselves through property taxes alone. The media and federal governments chose to ignore the issue until Winnipeg’s then-mayor, Glen Murray, picked up on the idea and made it a national issue to the point that a cities agenda has become a declared top priority of Paul Martin’s new Liberal government.

  • The Resistible Rise of the Creative Class

    “The Creative City” should immediately strike one as an odd phrase, one that we could very well do without. Because it has become such a buzz word since the publication of American consultant Richard Florida’s urban economic policy manual The Rise of the Creative Class, however, not everyone may feel this way. Indeed, we forget too easily in the company of our “bohemian” neighbours that cities have been creative places for much of human history, and especially so after the rise of capitalism; and that creativity itself is a fundamental feature of human nature, at least according to Karl Marx’s view on the matter.

  • Fanning the Flames

    “Hey, where’s the Russian flag?”

    Windsor’s Labour Day march, 1957, and I was three years old. Marchers carried flags of Canada, England, the United States. I rambunctiously blurted out the question above as my parents tried to hush me up. I had no idea there was a Cold War. In my child’s mind, Russia helped win the war against the bad Nazis. “We were Russian! Weren’t we the good guys, too? Wasn’t the flag with the hammer and sickle a good flag?”

  • Fool me twice? Labour Politics in South Africa

    Campaigning on a platform of “A People’s Contract to Create Work and Fight Poverty,” the ruling African National Congress (ANC) received nearly 70 per cent of the popular vote in South Africa’s third democratic election in March, 2004.

  • The Uncertain Path to PR

    The election of a minority Liberal government in the June federal election has created a historic opportunity to push democratic reform in Canada, specifically dumping our unrepresentative, uncompetitive first-past-the-post voting system for some form of proportional representation. While there have been minority governments before – throughout the 1960s, from 1972-74 and in 1979 – this is the first time since Mackenzie King’s farmer/labour-supported Liberal minority government of 1921 that a number of key political parties favour at least considering PR.

  • Mining Towns and the New Hinterland Crisis

    The long-term decline in mine-industry employment occurs in the post-1970s historical context of globalization, in this way differing from the earlier generation of post-war hinterland crisis that devastated agricultural towns. The crisis is engulfing other resource-dependent towns, notably in forestry and fishing, as well as rail towns.

  • Democracy in Montréal: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

    The municipal political boundaries of Montréal are to be redrawn once again. Instead of one big city divided into 27 boroughs, Montréal will be one big city interspersed with 15 small municipalities. But apart from the question of identity, with its socio-economic and ethno-linguistic dimensions, does this movement represent a bid to strengthen local democracy?

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