Articles

  • The Loudest Voice

    On a bleak Monday in late November, 2005, the leaders of Canada’s opposition parties, each hoping to profit from an election they knew to be untimely and wasteful, effected the fall of the country’s minority Liberal government.

    The news brought a sense of triumph and renewed hope to the ruling classes in the neighbouring United States, as well.

  • Reviving the Radical Critique of Religion

    When we think of the alliance of church and state, we tend to think of Constantine and Christianity, Holy Russia and the Prussian Empire. In more recent times, we may think of the theocracies of Saudi Arabia and Israel, or George Bush’s de facto fundamentalist regime. Few of us think about Canada.

  • Solidarity Across Borders

    Canada tends to take pride in its humanitarian tradition of providing protection to thousands of refugees who fear persecution, or who are at risk of torture or cruel and unusual treatment. Despite this popular image, however, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) are both highly flawed institutions, which often fail to protect those seeking asylum.

    For example, members of Solidarity Across Borders (SAB), a Montreal-based coalition of self-organized refugees and their allies, recently received a call from Lilia Diaz. Telephoning in tears from Mexico, Diaz told us that she and her family are living clandestinely in the constant fear of being discovered and attacked, since their deportation from Canada this past summer back to the country they had fled.

  • Rebel Yells

    Music in itself is of little direct political value to progressive forces. It organizes no one. It is poor defense against bullets and truncheons.

    However, it does affect what people talk about. What’s your favourite anti-war protest song? Anthemic songs (like Ralph Chaplin’s “Solidarity Forever,” or “Red River Valley” during the Spanish Civil War) can help activists remember that we started out to drain the swamp. Even celebrity can have momentary political value, as the vocal responses of Celine Dion and Kanye West to the recent neglect of New Orleans testify. At the very least, the content of popular music is a weather vane of social concern and the state of ideological hegemony.

  • 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.

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