• CAW, CUPE & Struggles for Jobs

    For many years the Left in the labour movement fought to get the Canadian Labour Congress to play a role in establishing collective agreement priorities. In the 1980s the CLC held conferences and produced educational materials on issues like reduced working time and bargaining technological change. But affiliate unions showed little interest in developing common priorities or coordinating their efforts concerning bargaining.

  • NO to NAFTA

    When the U.S. government failed to abide by the decision of the NAFTA Extraordinary Challenge Committee (ECC) on the issue of Canadian softwood-lumber exports by returning $5 billion it collected illegally, the Canadian public finally got the message: the North America Free Trade Agreement is a scam.

    It’s official, folks: NAFTA was never about free trade. By the time its predecessor, the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, was negotiated, tariffs had already been eliminated or were negligible for all but a few commodities anyway. For Canada, the free-trade agreement was really only about gaining a dispute-settlement agreement that would protect Canadian exporters from arbitrary measures blocking their access to the huge American market. For the U.S., it was about guaranteed access to our energy.

  • The Wolf Has Begun to Howl

    Ovide has sauntered off to get some ducks. The rest of us sit and chat, idly, nurturing the fire and snacking on bannock. A few jokes are tossed around: Mayor Robbie Buck, a large man with a quick wit, keeps everyone’s spirits high. Although when we hear shots a few comments about whether the Chief has injured himself are tossed around, no one is surprised when he returns with two ducks for two shots. The duck soup I’m eating, it turns out, comes from the Chief’s catch the day before.

  • Struggles of the Tahltan Nation

    On September 16, 2005, the RCMP arrested a dozen members of the Tahltan First Nation, nine of them Elders, for blockading a road into their traditional territory to bar Fortune Minerals from coming in to drill. Members of the Tahltan Nation have been blocking the road to the Mount Klappan coalfields since July 16.

    The protesters are standing against the intensive course of resource development being negotiated by the Tahltan Central Council, the elected body that governs the Tahltan First Nation. The blockaders question the sustainability of development and assert the community and Elders must participate in decision-making. The community is deeply divided on the issue.

  • The New Israel Lobby in Action

    This is not about Jews. It is not about race, ethnicity or religion. It is about power. The new Israel lobby in Canada – the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA) – has enormous power, derived from abundant resources, corporate connections, political associations, elaborate and able organization and a cadre of dedicated activists. Since its inception several years ago, this hard-line lobby has used its power, first, to gain political hegemony and impose ideological conformity on the matter of Israel within a heretofore diverse Jewish community, and second, to influence government decisions and shape public opinion regarding Israel – ostensibly in the name of all Canadian Jewry. From the outset, a primary focus of this lobby’s attentions has been the university campus, alleged centre of anti-Israel sentiment, conveniently construed as anti-semitism. Over the last two years, the lobby has by various means attempted to pacify these campuses and bring them into line, particularly Concordia and York. While the lobby has made some significant gains, at York their effort has been stalled.

  • Will the WTO Survive Hong Kong?

    Six years ago in 1999, at the Battle of Seattle, we heard for the first time the chant, “Hey-hey! Ho-ho! The WTO’s got to go!” It’s a chant we’re likely to be refamilarizing ourselves with when the World Trade Organization hold its fifth ministerial meeting in Hong Kong, China, this coming December.

    The Hong Kong ministerial is being billed as pivotal for completing the so-called Doha Round of global trade negotiations. The framework for this came out of the ministerial held in Doha, Qatar, in 2001, following the collapse of the Seattle ministerial two years earlier. To date, the main negotiations have focused on new trade rules for agriculture, industrial products and services.

  • The workers need Chapter 11

    As for all that self-righteous hot air about how B.C. teachers should set a better example by obeying the “law,” I can’t imagine a better lesson in democracy than watching a group of citizens collectively resisting injustice.

    Karl Marx argued that under capitalism, the legal system was pretty much a tool of the ruling class, designed to protect property rights and keep workers in line. This is quite an oversimplification, but every now and then Marx comes close to the mark. If he could see what’s been happening in British Columbia, he’d probably say, “I told you so.”

  • Privatizing Canada’s Public Universities

    Perhaps the most obvious kind of privatization of the university is the growing reliance on individuals rather than the collective to finance university operations. As students are all too well aware, university tuition and other fees have been skyrocketing in recent years – as have student debts. Between 1990-91 and 2000-2001, tuition fees in Canada rose by 126 per cent, while average student debts rose from about $8,700 to $25,000. This is because students are paying a far larger share of the costs of postsecondary education, from an average of 17 per cent of operating costs in 1992 to 28 per cent of operating costs in 2002. As well, a growing number of university programs are slated to be, if they are not already, almost fully financed by students. Not long ago, for example, the University of Toronto announced its intention to increase its law school tuition to $25,000.

  • Academics in the Service of War

    In Canada, we have guidelines that strictly regulate the use of human stem cells and assisted human reproduction. Both Bill C-6 and the Guidelines on Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research came about through public consultations with scientists, faith groups, the Canadian public and scholars in bioethics, sociology and law, among others. These instruments established guidelines for ethical research into and use of technologies with potentially profound life-saving medical benefits. Furthermore, the Guiding Principles include the notion that “Research undertaken should have potential health benefits for Canadians” and that the research should “Respect individual and community notions of human dignity and physical, spiritual and cultural integrity.”

  • Monsanto, Lawyers, Lies and Videotape

    Completed more than two years ago, Seeds of Change was my first feature documentary film. The documentary was supposed to facilitate communication among farmers and the residents of rural communities regarding the effects of the new technologies associated with Genetically Modified Crops (GMCs). Farmers and the public have yet to see the video because the original goal has been subverted.

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