The Gap Between Rhetoric and Action
Exactly one year ago, during the coldest months of 2005, Canada had its second major climate-change debate of the millennium. The first one, on whether Canada should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, occurred in the fall of 2002. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was at an environmental conference in South Africa when he announced, seemingly out of the blue, that Canada would ratify the protocol before the end of the year.
The Perils of Faith-Based Multiculturalism
The controversies over decisions by the Ontario government to allow and then ban the use of Shari’a (and other religious laws) as the basis of arbitration are not over. Religious groups and their supporters continue to push for minority religious rights. In Canada, as in other parts of the world, religious sentiments are on the rise. Conservative religious leaders have become more vocal and demanding, and governments are giving in to their demands without much regard for the serious consequences for democracy and citizens’ rights.
The Politics of Money
Since the U.S.-backed overthrow of progressive Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the severe level of political repression launched by the new government has left tens of thousands of Lavalas (Aristide’s political party) supporters the victims of rapes, incarcerations, firings and murders. One tragic aspect of this story is the extent to which Canadian federal government money has been able to buy the support of supposedly progressive organizations and individuals. Today they continue to align themselves with Canada’s brutal pro-coup policy.
What Was at Stake in the CBC Lockout?
According to mainstream media, that’s how most Canadians felt about the silenced voice of their public broadcaster.
Citing the influential pollster Decima, the most repeated message of the CBC lockout was that only ten per cent of Canadians were inconvenienced by the absence of CBC radio and TV.
Strategic Choices for the Quebec Left
Is it in the interests of progressives to put their energies into the big neoliberal parties, trying to influence them? Or is it better to patiently build an alternative party? Quebec’s autumn political scene offers the occasion to see the fruits of both strategies. On the one hand, the PQ shores up its coalition with trade unionists and progressives for a Free Quebec (SPQLibre). On the otherhand, we have the emergence of a new autonomous party on the Left, as the Union des forces progressistes (UFP) and Option citoyenne (OC) pre-pare for their upcoming fusion.
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.
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