• 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.

  • Canada Needs a Real Public Health Care System

    Many people like to think of Canada’s health care system as an example of “socialist” medicine. In reality, however, this label does not accurately reflect the true nature of the system.

    Of course, it is certainly true that aspects of Canada’s health care system are publicly owned and/or publicly regulated. The public or social character of the health care system is most clearly seen in the principles of universality and distribution according to need (rather than according to wealth or social status). Not surprisingly, the principles of universality and needs-based distribution enjoy the broadest support amongst the Canadian people. They are what Canadians have indicated they are determined to fight to preserve.

  • A Multi-Faced Crisis

    In Canada, the political system has long been based upon the illusion of choice provided by a ruling party in power and an opposition party waiting in the wings. However, the Liberal corruption crisis in Quebec, together with the failure of the Liberals to make significant headway in the West, has stripped the ability of the Liberal Party to form a majority government.

    Meanwhile, despite the fact that the Liberals are embroiled in the worst scandal of the past half-century, the Harper-led Conservatives have not been able to get beyond 35 per cent of popular support. The defection of Belinda Stronach, the Conservatives’ most visible moderate and urban member, together with the successful efforts of the religious right to win Conservative nominations throughout the country, confirms widely held suspicions that this party harbours a socially conservative agenda of intolerance. Harper’s Conservatives are thus condemned to their rural, small-town western base.

  • Canadian Labour

    The Canadian labour movement is and has for some time been at an impasse that it shares with labour movements around the world. The problem is not an absence of struggles; localized struggles, some quite creative, are an everyday event. Yet without a larger vision and strategic orientation to counter the aggressiveness of corporations and the state, such struggles cannot help but be limited, and the demoralization and fatalism already evident threatens to spread.

  • A Tent Without Poles

    In Winnipeg, a city divided along race and class lines like so many others, the two solitudes of white and Aboriginal were recently forced to confront one another after a police officer shot and killed an Aboriginal teenager named Matthew Dumas. The 18-year-old robbery suspect was waving a screwdriver at three heavily armed police officers. By some accounts, he had already been pepper-sprayed.

    The incident re-ignited simmering tensions among the Aboriginal community. Native leaders accused the police force of racism, demanded a role in the investigation and called for more progress on a separate justice system for their people. Unfortunately, those charged with administering the “system,” including the Mayor of Winnipeg, dismissed the complaints, especially after learning that the officer who fired the gun was also Aboriginal. This simplistic caveat, however, ignores the the complicated reality of Native/police relations in this city and, indeed, in the country as a whole.

  • Commemorating the Montreal Massacre

    Dimension remembers the day of the Montreal Massacre 15 years ago, December 6, 1989. The news flashes that told, incomprehensibly at first, of a mass murder at l’École Polytechnique. And then, the details: 14 young women gunned down in their classrooms, the gunman dead by his own hand. The images of roses in the snow, public and private grief, and coffins in churches. The horror and rage experienced by so many, as we realized that this was misogyny, practised in the public and elite space of a university, against women who were seen by the murderer to have violated male space, and thus to have predicated his lack of success in academia and elsewhere. In other words, it was their fault, and, by his analysis, it is our (feminists’) fault. Fourteen women lost their lives at the hands of a murderous misogynist who hated women. He said so. Who hated women being in the engineering faculty of a university. He said so. He called these women feminist. He separated the men from the women and then shot the women. He carried a “hit list” of other women to be killed, all of whom were prominent, many of whom were feminist, all of whom were successful in traditionally male arenas. Misogyny doesn’t get much clearer than that.

  • CLC Policy

    We agree with the Canadian Labour Congress’s controversial position paper that free trade has not been a total “economic disaster.” But we disagree that economic integration has gone so far that measures to reduce our dependency and challenge this right-wing direction cannot be contemplated. In this sense, the Canadian Labour Congress’s new industrial policy paper is a deep disappointment. Instead of insisting on new directions in economic policy, the CLC’s new paper lacks critical leadership, merely offering new concessions to free trade and the rule of the market.

  • Health Care on the Mend?

    Following hard negotiations at the government conference centre in Ottawa in September, representatives of the federal and provincial governments hammered out a new deal for health care. This new deal promises $18 billion in its first six years and $41 billion over ten, promising to create more homecare, shorter treatment waiting times and a national drug strategy. An additional feature of the accord is an escalator clause, which is due to take effect in 2006-07. This escalator clause aims to boost transfer payments to the provinces by six per cent annually to keep pace with the increasing costs of health care.

  • 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 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.

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