Articles

  • Labour Report: 2005 and Beyond

    In a few months the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will hold its national convention in Montréal. Already many activists are considering the content of potential policy and constitutional resolutions and there is considerable discussion of whether there will be a leadership challenge to CLC President Ken Georgetti.

  • What Happened in British Columbia?

    The events that rocked British Columbia in late April and early May were both stunning and, sadly, almost predictable. Many progressive activists had forecast that a major labour confrontation with the hardline Campbell Liberal government would break out sooner or later. What few foresaw was the excitement in the streets as thousands of people rallied to back 40,000 health care strikers, and the euphoria as unions across the province geared up to walk off the job in solidarity.

  • Staging Queer Difference

    Queer Pride organizing in Toronto has undergone a radical transformation. According to Gary Kinsman, a former Pride organizer and a Professor of Sociology at Laurentian University, early Pride events mixed pleasure with politics: “Pride Day was consciously used as a day to build a movement, a day to build community organizations and to get people involved in political campaigns.” In more recent years, however, Pride organizing reflects a very different set of priorities. While a number of political groups are still involved in the weeklong festival, and while many people derive a sense of community from the parade, Pride events are no longer organized to advance queer social movement politics. Pride planners, along with local officials and business elites, seem much more concerned with reorganizing the event to bolster the local tourist industry.

  • Cities and Imperialism

    Armoured Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers tearing down neighbourhoods in Gaza; fierce battles raging in the winding streets of Fallujah; smart missiles blasting dense housing blocks in the West Bank – these recurrent images from the Middle East point to more than attacks on “terrorist” targets and “regrettable” collateral damage, as is often claimed by the Pentagon or the Israeli Defence Force. They also represent two examples of urbicide: a concerted and preemptive military strategy designed to undermine the urban foundations for independence; destroy networks of resistance; and separate settlers and occupiers from immobilized colonized populations while demolishing their infrastructures of survival.

  • Sustainable Communities

    When one thinks of “cities” or an “urban agenda,” the university town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia (population: 8,000, including students) is likely not the first place that comes to mind. “The city” here almost invariably refers to Halifax, some 90 km to the east. But - perhaps because of a quirk of Canada’s electoral system, which disproportionately favours rural voters over urban - Paul Martin’s “New Deal for Cities” is (or has quickly become) in fact a plan for municipalities, encompassing Wolfville (and surrounding Kings County) as much as Canada’s metropolitan centres. The urban agenda thus matters to Wolfville, and developments in Wolfville around issues of “sustainable communities” may be important for those elsewhere, who are concerned with the ecological sustainability of the urban form.

  • Compete or Die

    The campaign to make the city of Toronto competitive has been waged for more than a decade by supporters from across the political spectrum. Competitiveness, a catch-all term, is often measured by how many companies and tourists are lured here instead of Chicago or Cleveland or Charlotte. And there is a list of things a city like Toronto apparently needs to have in order to attract the big-spending tourists and investors looking for places to park their fortunes.

  • Québec Communique

    Only two years after the founding of the Union des forces progressistes, the Québec Left has entered into a new phase of development. On the electoral scene and in the street, the UFP is a present and credible actor. Meanwhile, a new political club, Trade Unionists for a Free Québec (Syndicalistes pour un Québec libre - SPQL) is attempting to use their involvement with the Parti québécois to pull it to the left. Finally, a new political movement, Option citoyenne, led by feminist activist Françoise David and social housing activist François Saillant, is proposing nothing less than the unity of all left forces into a single party by Spring 2005. The coming year will be an important one for the Québec Left.

  • Labor Report

    Last issue I wrote a column about the BC Hospital Workers’ strike and the efforts of the B.C. Federation of Labour (BC Fed) to organize support for the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). I expressed the belief that it was the solidarity of HEU members and the prospect of coordinated support strike action being organized by the B.C. Federation of Labour that forced the government to resume bargaining with the HEU and agree to the union’s demand to significantly limit contracting out of work. Some people whom I respect were angry that I was not critical of the leadership. I wasn’t and I am still not.

  • Plan Petroleum in Colombia

    Despite U.S. government claims, there is still no evidence that Plan Colombia has achieved its principal goal of dramatically reducing the flow of cocaine to the United States. On the other hand, Plan Colombia’s militarization of Putumayo has contributed significantly to increased oil exploration by multinational companies in this resource-rich region.

  • Activist Video

    Activists use and consume art, and artists live in a real world which they must find ways to engage and transform. The video activist movement really has tried to bring the two spheres together. Nonetheless, we have yet to take the most important step toward a truly “useful” art movement: we must correct our wrong-headed tendency to subservience.

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