Of the many social movements that have struggled for social justice and equality, the history of activism by mothers of disabled children has been sorely neglected. Ever since the 1950s, when Pearl S. Buck wrote The Child Who Never Grew (1950) and Dale Evans Rogers wrote Angel Unaware (1953) about their respective disabled daughters, women’s narratives have provided a documentary trail to that history. Given the social stigma attached to disability at the time, the impact of two prominent mothers claiming disability in their family cannot be underestimated. By “coming out,” they boosted the many parent-led charities that were beginning to form to advocate for certain disabling conditions. Despite the “official” reference to parents, it was primarily young mothers who founded and joined these groups. They looked for mutual support to challenge century-old institutional provisions and establish services in the community. Right from the beginning, it was mothers who led the way. These activist mothers likely never considered themselves activists at all; they were just doing what needed to be done. Yet, they organized in the domestic space women occupied – their homes and, primarily, their kitchens.
Scouring Scum and Tar from the Bottom of the Pit
Faced with the undeniable reality of “Hubbard’s Peak” in global conventional oil supplies, the world’s largest multinational energy corporations are now hell-bent on squeezing oil out of tar in northern Alberta, like junkies desperately conniving for one last giant fix in a futile attempt to quench America’s insatiable “addiction to oil” (described so eloquently by President George Bush II). Along the Athabasca River near Fort McMurray, a sub-arctic town almost 1,000 kilometres north of the U.S. border, tar literally seeps out of the riverbanks where Aboriginal peoples once used it to patch their birch-bark canoes. But most of the tar sands lie hidden below northern Alberta’s boreal forest, in an area larger than the state of Florida.
Canada’s Military Lobby
In this country today a battle is being waged over Canada’s role in the world. On the one side is a powerful alliance between those who want Canadians to give up their sovereignty and integrate with the United States and those who reject a role as a peace-broker and embrace the Bush doctrine of military and economic totalitarianism. On the other side are the majority of Canadians, who steadfastly refuse to give up the idea that Canada should be an independent force for good in an increasingly unipolar and violent world.
Québec Solidaire’s Electoral Challenge
Québec solidaire, the new progressive political party formed by the merging of the Union des forces progressistes and Option citoyenne, faced its first electoral trial during the by-election on April 10. The general elections expected for fall, 2006, or at latest spring, 2007, will without a doubt be a colossal challenge that will force the young and growing party to face matters head on, while still seeking to do politics differently.
Peak Oil and Alternative Energy
The world is beginning to wake up to the fact that peak oil is real. Various financial institutions, as well as oil companies, independent geologists, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a range of corporations eager to cash in on alternative energy sources have stressed its importance. Sweden and Norway have both initiated plans to be essentially free of fossil fuels by 2020, and a small number of municipalities are beginning to incorporate energy consumption and production into their core planning activities. In other words, plans are already underway to prepare for an energy future that no longer relies on cheap energy.
Labour Stands Up Against War
The Canadian Labour Congress’s statement on Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan is clear and unequivocal; it calls for the troops to be brought home now. The statement marks a significant step forward for the labour movement concerning the development of policy with respect to the use the Canadian military.
Not only does the CLC demand the “safe and immediate withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan,” it also challenges many of the arguments used by those who would have our troops die and kill to support the American war in the Middle East.
Building A Grassroots Opposition to Harper
It hardly needs saying, but it should be acknowledged in any case: The coming period is not going to be an easy one for the Left in Canada. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper has been settling into Ottawa for the long haul. Harper has been exercising power calculatingly, confidently, ruthlessly. The spring budget was revealing. Cheered on by business associations and the mainstream media for its sober fiscal stance, it was critiqued by hard-right neoliberals for alleged fiscal prolificacy, even as it cut over twenty taxes and continued to bring down program spending in relation to a growing economy. An image of moderation was presented, even as neoliberalism was deepened. Addressing an alleged fiscal imbalance sometime in the future was enough to gain the support of an increasingly opportunist Bloc Québocois and to get the budget through the minority Parliament.
Jazz and Radical Politics
Major social changes in the United States have fundamentally determined the evolution of jazz music, just as they have other art forms. The 1930s were the period of the rise of jazz and the organized Left. Concretely, this meant big bands and the Communist Party. Notwithstanding some early dogmatic opposition to jazz from cultural commissar Mike Gold, the party soon threw itself into proselytizing for jazz and fighting segregation in the music business.
The Power and the Peace is in the People
During the days of Six Nations activism to reclaim our land near Caledonia, we received thousands of e-mails and calls from people all over the world. The support and ideas that we’ve received have been tremendously gratifying and helpful. Without this solidarity from Natives and non-Natives, the Ontario Provincial Police would have had their way. Blood would have been spilled. Never mind the return of our land – though we are still waiting on that one.
Responding to the Challenge of Peak Oil
Over the past two years the price of oil has climbed relentlessly. This is true not just of the volatile spot price, but also of the five-year futures price, which for many years held reliably close to the U.S. $20 mark. At this time of writing, both the spot and futures prices are near $70. North Americans know that this translates to high gasoline prices, and, since they can scarcely live without their cars, many are worried and angry.
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