August 13, 2009
Street Sweeper Social Club
Miss Rage Against the Machine? Well, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath for a new studio album, but there’s something else you ought to pick up.
Street Sweeper Social Club was formed less than a year ago by Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Nightwatchman) and rapper Boots Riley of the legendary hip-hop group The Coup. Their first, self titled, album is probably the first album of its sub-genre worth listening to since the likes of Fred Durst hijacked it, turning it into a mere cash cow and discarding its progressive roots.
Although Morello’s guitar seems quite a bit more toned down and basic than in the days of Rage Against the Machine, this album is no less than brilliant. There is no filler here, no songs that suck, and thankfully no obnoxious guy in a red hat jumping around screaming about “doing it for the nookie.”
Instead there are 11 catchy tunes, each of which carries forward the revolutionary, anti-capitalist message of both Rage Against the Machine and The Coup. Morello has recently been quoted as describing the album as “revolutionary party jams,” which Boots has referred to it as “something to listen to while storming Wall Street.”
Favorite tracks include “Fight! Smash! Win!” “100 Little Curses,” “Promenade,” and “Nobody Moves (Till We Say Go).”
Check out Street Sweeper Social Club online at http://streetsweepersocialclub.com/
The People or the Gun
Anti-Flag’s new album, The People or the Gun, is an album that will either satisfy or piss off both old school fans and those who prefer the toned down sound of more recent albums, especially their last release The Bright Lights of America.
Granted, there is nothing here that will fool you into thinking you put on Die for Your Government or Their System Doesn’t Work for You, but the album does start out loud and energetic with “Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C.” Other highlights include “You Are Fired,” “”No War Without Warriors,” and “When All the Lights Go Out.”
Whatever you think of their sound, old or new, Anti-Flag is still serving up album after album of songs that are anti-everything that’s fucked up in this world (like capitalism, imperialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, and war) and for a better world.
BY KIMBALL CARIOU | AUGUST 11, 2009
This is an urgent question for the anti-war movement, regardless of our various political affiliations. I'm sure we're all interested to hear what Jack Layton has to say on this issue. The unfortunate problem is that it has been many months since he explicitly called for bringing the troops home.
My combing through the federal NDP news releases finds nothing like this since October 2008, and even then it was very qualified. If somebody else can find information to the contrary, I would appreciate receiving it. I should also point out that among these dozens of news releases and statements, some are quite positive from our perspective, such as those in support of the war resisters, or Layton's position for a negotiated political settlement of the war. Reading this material is a useful way to spend a couple of hours.
But there is also much that falls short. Layton's most recent detailed statement is from March 16, 2009, in which he said (among much more): "Our skills and reputation as a peacemaker give Canada the basis for an active role after our troops withdraw in 2011." In the same statement, praising President Obama's new Afghanistan troop surge strategy, he said, "We’ve come a long way since the first voices in our country called for a new role for Canada in Afghanistan. Internationally and in Canada, we are seeing a new will emerging to turn the page and begin a more balanced policy toward Afghanistan. Gone are the name calling and the overheated rhetoric. Gone is the questioning of support for our troops."
I could be wrong, but it appears to me that Layton is putting a very high priority on being seen in the media as "supportive of the troops." That impression is strengthened by his regular statements expressing condolences to the families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. These statements always refer to these members of the Armed Forces as having "died in the service of their country" or a similar sentiment.
As the leader of a party in Parliament, I agree that Jack Layton has a duty to spend time with members of the Canadian Forces. We all share his sorrow for these tragic deaths. As anti-war activists, we feel an even sharper pain whenever we hear of NATO forces killing Afghan civilians. But in my view, Canadian soldiers are not dying in the service of our country or any other. These deaths are tragic in part because they accomplish absolutely nothing positive. They are dying in the service of U.S. imperialism and the energy transnationals that are aiming to carve up central Asia for their bloated profits. Jack Layton has his reasons for presenting the matter differently. But those of us in the anti-war movement should focus on exposing the truly vicious, fascist, predatory nature of this war.
When my nephew volunteered to serve in the CF in Afghanistan, I sent him a package of relevant articles and a letter explaining my views on this matter, telling him point-blank that his courage and his willingness to sacrifice were being used by politicians and arms dealers and oil billionaires, with nothing good coming out of this for the Afghan people. He did not respond. But upon his return, after an eight-month tour of duty in Kandahar, he indicated to the family that his views about the war had completely changed as a result of his experiences.
I don't know what Jack Layton tells the troops when he spends time with them. If he tells them this war is a disaster for both Canada and Afghanistan, and that their sacrifices are a complete waste of blood and courage and tears and dollars, more power to him. But that's not what the NDP media releases are saying these days. And that weakness hurts the entire anti-war movement, since we are effectively left with very few strong voices in Parliament.
The further I go through Layton's statements and speeches over the past year, the more it becomes clear that he is distancing himself from the activist core of the anti-war movement. He remains good on such issues as the war resisters, the cost of the war, the need for negotiations rather than endless war. But in his major statements, during and after the election last fall, Afghanistan has been simply absent. His March 16 article (which was reprinted in the National Post), did not include a straightforward call to bring the troops home -- now or later. Never in the last year (that's as far as the NDP website goes back) has he expressed condolences on the deaths of Afghan civilians during NATO bombing attacks or other military actions.
Then of course there is his deeply troubling position on the Israel/Palestine conflict, which is simply to assign equal blame to each side. One of the more progressive new NDP MPs, Don Davies from Vancouver Kingsway, was the target of angry booing when he presented this argument at a rally against the Israeli attack on Gaza at the Vancouver Art Gallery last winter. It was a sad moment, since Davies has been well known as sympathetic to the Palestinian people -- and I am sure remains so. But by pandering to pro-war forces in Canadian society, including the rah-rah corporate media, the NDP has lost a great deal of credibility in the anti-war movement.
The StopWar.ca coalition here in Vancouver, which is quite broadly based, has a long history of inviting NDP elected officials to speak at rallies and public meetings. There is now increasing reluctance to extend such offers unless we have a very good reason to believe that they will take a solid position.
Some of this goes back further, to the Liberal motion in Parliament to set a February 2009 deadline to end the military mission. As I am sure others recall, the NDP voted with the Tories against the motion to defeat it, before putting forward their own motion to end the mission immediately (also defeated, of course). Many of us saw this as a self-serving political manoeuvre designed to present the NDP as the only "real" anti-war party in Parliament. If the only problem was that they disagreed with the dates in the Liberal motion, they could have simply abstained. The motion as worded would have very effectively tied Harper's hands, making it extremely difficult to extend the mission. Layton gave him this victory on a platter.
And now we face increasing NATO pressure to extend the mission beyond 2011. From that time when the NDP leader was loudly demanding "troops home now," he has shifted to his current weak stand. It is truly dismaying.
Kimball Cariou is a longtime Vancouver anti-war activist and editor of People's Voice newspaper. A version of this article first appeared on the Pacific Free Press website, and is published here with permission.
August 12, 2009
We lost the battle, but
won a wage increase
across the country
illustration at right: radical graphics.org
By Johan Boyden
Last fall, a group of young workers, including several YCLers, tried valiantly to organize a union at the Staples Business Depot in Prince George BC. Although they lost the drive, they won a health and safety committee and higher wages for all Staples workers across Canada. Here’s the story.
“One of the most intense weeks
of my life.”
As Jason came into the staff meeting, he didn’t quite know what to expect. After they were organizing in secret for three months, the union drive had blown wide open. Now he was sitting with the rest of the captive audience, staring at a blown up black and white picture.
It was his photo. And he new exactly where
they’d got it.
A manger stood up. “We’d like to congratulate Jason,” he announced, “for running in the 2004 federal election... for the Communist Party.”
“The red-baiting only lasted for a day or two, but for those days,” Jason said, “nobody would talk, let alone make eye contact with each other. They were afraid. Everyone felt: ‘look what they did to this guy for speaking out, what will they do to me if I say something?”
The organizing committee wrote an open letter to management. “We went on the attack. We asked other workers in the letter if a person’s private life and political views was at all the business of the company and why were they getting involved researching associate’s backgrounds. More importantly we pointed out the real issue at hand. We were finally working together to get the respect we deserve and that Staples was trying to distract us from this fact. Their plan had backfired.”
In fact the other workers became more supportive. “The fear mongering actually worked against the managers, as we quickly signed up people who saw this was the kind of garbage we needed a union to protect us from in the first place.
A Race Against Lies
Staples Business Depot is the Canadian division of the giant American transnational, Staples Inc. With over 1680 superstores, it is one of the world’s largest office supply chains. In 2004 alone, sales hit $14.4 billion, profits increased 7.8%, and Staples “entered” nine new countries. Well aware of the link between profits, prices and wages, there is binder on union drive busting locked in the back office of every store. If that fails managers, they can call head office, where there is an entire department of lawyers and consultants ready to crush organizers.
After management’s first tactic back-fired, the corporate big-shots arrived. High paid district managers, lawyers and consultants flooded our otherwise quiet store. “It became a race,” Jason said. “The more time they had, the more lies and rumors they could get out. We made pamphlets and a web site explaining the issues and debunking rumors. We had to anticipate what they were going to say, and continue to press the key issues we were fighting for.”
Fighting for Dignity
Long before discovering the cameras monitoring them, the organizing committee (a group of five young men and women) had quietly talked with their co-workers about key issues. Guaranteed hours. Fairness. Schedules being on time and up to date. Ending favoritism.
There were also big health and safety concerns – like the joint health and safety committee, required by law, which at the time consisted only of a few managers and a few fictitious names of made up workers. The drive changed that. They challenged safety hazards like the forklift in receiving with a sticky throttle that could have run over someone. Organizes locked down the dangerous piece of equipment. Rather than repairing the machine, Staples turned it back on because the repair was 'too expensive’.
Management intimidated workers, denied workers information, searched lockers and destroyed union pamphlets. They pulled staff into the office for two-on-one interrogations. On women on the organizing committee had to go through a two hour meeting and was threatened with termination because her pant hems were of different lengths.
We kept strong. We stood up to intimidation by organizing a comment card campaign asking workers in the community to tell Staples what they thought of intimidation of Staples employees. The response was overwhelming. We continued to have social events, pressed management on favoritism and work hours as well as attempted to diffuse their anti-union tactics.
“As one example, before a scheduled two hour meeting organized by management against the union, we handed out bingo like checklists of exactly what management would say.
Workers could avoid boredom at the meeting by checking off lies and rumors as they were mentioned by management to win prizes. The managers were so taken aback, that the two hour meeting abruptly ended after just 25 minutes.”
To buy some slack, Staples gave out a fifty-cent pay raise. “It wasn’t that large, but we pointed out: the second that we stop working together, [is] the second they will take it away”. Originally only Prince George workers got the raise, so the organizers asked the YCL to tell Staples workers across province about the union drive in Prince George and the raise. A few days latter the raise was extended across the province. “We said again: this is about the Union.” Staples extended the raise across Canada.
“One worker was
her pant hems were
of different length.”
Eventually, however, Staples successfully pushed a wedge between full time and part time workers. With little solidarity between young and old, the drive stalled. Then Staples targeted the organizers until they all left the company.
“I do think young organizers would be helpful to organize young people.” Jason says. “We first approached the UFCW. They suggested we shutdown our organizing committee so they could organize the store from the outside. CAW had a different approach, so our committee went with them.” But the organizer was in Vancouver; limited to what he could do. “We didn’t want to outstretch him,” Jason adds, “but its impossible to organize northern workers from a Vancouver office. The last time he contacted our committee was in September. We’d just fallen down from 60% to 40% of the workers signed.”
“We don’t know of any other attempt to organize a Staples in Canada,” Jason concludes. “We won a raise. Not much, but given their size, every penny raise represents tens of thousands of dollars for Staples. Sure we didn’t succeed – this time. But another drive will come again. It’s inevitable.”
August 11, 2009
The campaign to stop Walmart’s attack of freedom speech is taking the internet by storm and capturing the attention of some of the world’s most trusted news sources, like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Huffington Post.
But here’s the best part: since Walmart went to the Quebec Supreme Court for an injunction against www.walmartworkerscanada.ca, and since UFCW Canada launched its campaign to stop the world’s largest corporation from dictating the message of a website dedicated to helping workers know their rights, traffic to www.walmartworkerscanada.ca has increased in a huge way!
Walmart knows. It’s scrambling to defend its attack on free speech and it’s keeping a very close eye on www.walmartworkerscanada.ca . (Yes, we know you’re watching Walmart!)
Free speech and workers rights are worth fighting for. Thanks to your help, we won the first round, but we need your continued support to go the distance.
Together, we can beat the giant! Please send this message through your email network. Supporters of free speech can make a real difference by going to www.walmartworkerscanada.ca/freespeech and sending a protest letter to Walmart. It only takes a few seconds and it sends a strong message that can’t be ignored – just ask Walmart ;)
So, let’s keep the momentum going! Let’s keep the internet free! And let’s combine our networks for something that matters!
Since experiments are the theme, this post itself is an experiment of sorts in meshing the two together. I'm expecting it to go horribly wrong....
Christian had a headache. He really needed to get that term paper finished soon, but was too tired after his shift at the supermarket.
His work part time still felt like a full time position because of his schedule being all over the place. "Fucking old bag" Christian thought after Grace, his boss refused to reschedule his shifts so he could take his intro to macroeconomics course after a spot finally became available.
"I guess I need to find another job" Christian thought. The next day he gave notice that he quit his job. He worked in a grocery store which was ironic since he had little money for food. "What now?" he thought aloud as he put a kettle on the hotplate and smeared peanut butter on a end slice of bread...
...The orange poster caught his attention on the bulletin board. Easy money testing sunscreens. Why not?....
Blah, blah. blah. Blah....Blah Blah...fill out these forms.
...."I'm officially a guinea pig" Christian told April. "hole-ee! I couldn't remember to do all those things on this sheet" April exclaimed as she looked over the paperwork...
"VIRUS!?!?!?!!! What the Hell!" April raised her voice. "I though you were going to be testing sunscreens. I can't borrow your viruses for my skin." "Oh, that's what you wanted to do all along eh? Borrow the shit I bring home to test? " Christian replied half jokingly. April misunderstood Christian's tone and poor attempt at humour and got all upset. "While your all sick from Rhino's virus, I need to stay far away or crash at someone else's place" she worried, in a loud voice. "God! She has fucking loud voice" thought Christian as he searched for a teabag. He was not a big fan of tea, but was becoming one fast since they ran out of coffee a week ago. He could hear April somewhere. "Don't you ignore me!......"
after the argument...
"I expected the pay to be higher" April said. "Yeah it sucks" Christian agreed. "Hey, are we going down to the food bank later?" "No, maybe tomorrow" April said. Silence entered the room. April, feeling tired sank into the old "retro-pizza colour" couch. The couch was added to the basic decor two months previous. It was found in the back alley. Probably leftover from a midnight move from a tenant in the next building. In their narrow room, it occupied an entire wall.
Christian looks over to April. "It'll do for now. Until I can find a job where the boss isn't a prick." More silence, until April starts snoring.
...a few weeks later.
Now that the testing was completed, April felt safe from taking ill. As a result, she lowered her voice as there was no need to overcome great distances. Even though 10 feet is not really considered a great distance. She spent more time at home again. Christian had been spending time at the library doing some research for a term paper titled "Hippies and the Coors Beer boycott." At times he wished he could just write down the line "Hippies don't drink beer because they did drugs instead." and hand it in. Now, he was waiting for the bus to take him back home.
Bus shelters would later piss Christian off in later years, because of the advertising in them: recruiting students to join the Armed Forces, or showing some well dressed students taking advantage of the rebate on tuition if they stayed in Manitoba after graduating. Christian still had not graduated, and would not get such "help" from the government to be able to.
"'even more opportunities to earn extra cash.' Here April, you can have my Antiperspirant!" Christian laughed. "Fuck you." April replied.
"Why does it say May and June?" she asked. "Dunno, same reason all of these papers are mixed up." Christian yawned. I guess I'll go down there tomorrow...
"Was that wash 3 times or 4?"
2:00 the schedule read, 1:55 was the time Christian had when he got off the bus. Miss the appointment and all bets are off for getting paid. He ran since he did not want his bus trip to be a wasted effort...
Back on the bus again, this time in the opposite direction, Christian looks at the schedule once more before shoving it into his bag. "Human Repeated Insult" catches his eye and he smiles to himself. "Got that right" he thinks to himself before the din on the bus suddenly spits out words that concerned Christian: "Do you smell Apple pie?"
"Damn!" I knew that crap they shoved under my arms smelled like apple-cinnamon" Christian thought. He really wanted the bus to hurry up so he could get off. "This antiperspirant must work by shaming sweaty people into showering" By the time he got off the bus he smelled like a bakery.
April greeted Christian at the door. "MMMm. What smells so good?" April asked. "My armpits." "What?!" "Don't ask. I'm gonna screw up my paper because I'm gonna have to go job hunting full time. I can't smell the classroom up with this shit."
from Linchpin.ca blog
On Tuesday July 14 Deputy Premier, or according to him “Citizen”, George Smitherman launched “One Toronto” a website networking volunteer scabs to pick up garbage in Toronto in the midst of a 4 week long strike by the civic workers unions CUPE 416 and 79.
Posing for media photos with a broom in hand, Smitherman had the bald faced audacity to claim that he wasn't taking sides in the strike but rather ““We’re taking one side and one side only — the side of clean streets in our city,”
Smitherman knows he can't come out and say he's organizing brigades of volunteer scabs to further his political career but that's exactly what he's doing.
Not to be outdone or perhaps inspired by Smitherman's scabs, Bay Street CEO Kathy Gregory, head of Paradigm Quest Inc a multi-million dollar mortgage underwriting and servicing company, “organized” a pathetic lunch hour confrontation between a gaggle of Paradigm employees and CUPE workers at City Hall on July 15th.
Marching with professionally made signs reading such pearls of wisdom as “Sick Pay? Pay Increase? How about no pay?” which can only leave you wondering how Gregory must treat workers that she actually employs!
Why, with such progressive attitudes towards workers by the CEO, one can only assume that all the workers who attended must really be participating totally free and uncoerced. I'm sure that if they really wanted to they could have refused to join her protest and told their boss that they're pro-union without the fear of any repercussions.
If you believe that, then let me tell you about a bridge to the island airport that I have for sale.
As pathetic and scheming as Gregory and Smitherman's antics are, one can't help but take warning that at least a small section of Toronto's big business and political elite are showing a readiness to revert to a very dirty history of so-called “Citizen Committees” that terrorized workers and trade unionists at the beginning of the 20th century.
August 10, 2009
Best Before 2010 EP
Legally Blind is an anti-Olympics, anti-capitalist punk rock band based in Vancouver, British Columbia. They are described by their Myspace page as “three experienced Vancouver area musicians and one experienced three chord propagandist united to take the shine off the 2010 Winter Olympics…,” and “like the Communist Manifesto in Braille, through a used Boss distortion pedal.”
If that doesn’t make it clear enough for you, their message can be easily summed up in a couple of simple slogans “Fuck 2010” and “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land.”
In 2008, they released their first EP titled Best Before 2010. The EP contains four catchy tracks attacking the corporate five ring circus and the resulting war on the poor, environmental degradation, and police state. Dead Kennedys fans should check out “Vancouver Uber Alles,” for a modern local spin on a classic punk rock tune.
Check out Best Before 2010 on Legally Blind’s Myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/punklegallyblind)
Folks, this is huge. In the past 17 hours, we've had more than 1,600 folks send letters to Tim Hortons, asking why a franchise in Rhode Island was sponsoring an anti-LGBT festival hosted by the National Organization for Marriage. Well, guess what? Tim Hortons has answered our emails, loud and clear. Here's the message that just came in from their company headquarters.
Tim Hortons responds to inquiries about Rhode Island event sponsorship
Recently, Tim Hortons was approached in Rhode Island to provide free coffee and products for a local event, as we do thousands of times a year across Canada and the United States.
For 45 years, Tim Hortons and its store owners have practiced a philosophy of giving back to the communities in which we operate. As a company, our primary focus is on helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities.
For this reason, Tim Hortons has not sponsored those representing religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups.
It has come to our attention that the Rhode Island event organizer and purpose of the event fall outside of our sponsorship guidelines. As such, Tim Hortons can not provide support at the event.
Tim Hortons and its store owners have always welcomed all families and communities to its restaurants and will continue to do so. We apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience this may have caused.
Now that's the power of social media and social action! In a moment, I'm going to post an action (and will update this post) so that folks can thank Tim Hortons for responding to the inquiries from its LGBT (and straight ally) customers. This is great news, folks, and thanks again for taking action.
Oh, don't you hate it when doughnuts decide to go homophobic? The Canadian mega-giant Tim Hortons (which in Canada is the largest coffee chain in the country), has decided to co-sponsor a rally in Rhode Island next week hosted by the National Organization for Marriage. Yup, the same National Organization for Marriage that is currently leading campaigns to take away the civil rights of gays and lesbians in Maine to marry, and the same group fighting marriage equality in places like Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey and elsewhere.
Is this really the type of politics that Tim Hortons wants to support?
Michael Airhart at Truth Wins Out and the Providence Daily Dose were the first ones to point out that, indeed, Tim Hortons is not only sponsoring the anti-gay marriage event, but they've also allowed their logo to be plastered on the brochure for it. To be clear, this is an event hosted by an organization that has said gays and lesbians are a threat to children, and a group that openly promotes discrimination toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.
Here's what the Providence Daily Dose wrote about Tim Hortons sponsoring this event. Take note, Tim Hortons says on their Web site that they don't support those representing religious organizations. Yet, despite that pledge, the restaurant chain is sponsoring the NOM event where a worship concert will take place, and supporting an organization that has consistently partnered with anti-LGBT religious groups.
What in the world [is Tim Hortons] doing sponsoring something like this? Their site says that they support “local initiatives that make a difference” — such as little leagues, Halloween safety, and the like. And that they sponsor community initiatives with a focus on “helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities.” But not “those representing religious groups [or] political affiliates,” such as.. well, how would you characterise a group like NOM?
Disturbing, right? Well, here's where you can take action, and tell Tim Hortons to get out of the business of sponsoring anti-LGBT organizations. We've got a petition right here at change.org that goes to the company's President & CEO, as well as to their Director of Public Affairs. Please consider signing this, and forwarding it to your friends.
As Truth Wins Out notes, one reason that this sponsorship may have gone through is that Tim Hortons allows its franchise owners to decide on donations and sponsorships. But that reason just isn't good enough when the restaurant's name gets attached to one of the most anti-LGBT groups in the United States. Remember when a Subway franchisee decided to give money to take away the rights of gays and lesbians? Activists fought the hell back, and not only got the donation to the anti-LGBT groupr rescinded, but also got Subway to change their corporate policies to incorporate equal rights for LGBT people.
Now that's the power of activism. And as far as Tim Hortons goes, it's ever-so important to know where they stand on the issue of civil rights for gays and lesbians. Tim Hortons currently has franchises in Maine, where anti-LGBT folks have put a ballot initiative on the slate for this year which could eliminate the rights of gays and lesbians to marry in the state. If Tim Hortons is going to take a position on same-sex marriage by sponsoring organizations like the National Organization for Marriage, LGBT folks and LGBT allies in places like Maine - as well as places like New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere where Tim Hortons are popping up - deserve to know.
UPDATE: For Canadian readers interested in signing the petition, please include both your city and province name in the field for "City," and select "CA" from the list of states. For our petition software, "CA" can act as both California and Canada. This should allow Canadian readers to sign the petition to change.org. Thanks!
August 9, 2009
On Monday July 27th at 6:30am, a group of protesters set up camp on the proposed Hanlon Creek Business Park development (HCBP), successfully shutting down construction on the site. This development has been subject to heated community debate since 1993 however, the City of Guelph has recently pushed ahead with the first phase of the construction.
Despite the broad public outcry, the City has not properly addressed warnings by environmentalists and community members. The land in question is home to one of Southern Ontario's last surviving Old Growth Forests and situated on the Paris-Galt Moraine which is essential to the integrity of the surrounding area's drinking water. The HCBP site contains provincially significant wetlands as well as protected species. Environmentalists, scientists and community members agree that the supposed precautions taken by the City are not stringent enough to ensure that significant damage is not done to the land, its resources and ecosystems. THE FAILURE OF THE CITY TO PROPERLY ADDRESS THESE CONCERNS WAS THE REAL CAUSE OF THE WORK STOPPAGE. Direct action was the only way to ensure that work was stopped and democratic debate about the development was continued.
The City and its corporate friends have continued to frame the opposition to the Business Park as opposition to providing jobs to the community. Guelph is facing a jobs crisis. We have lost over 2 000 manufacturing jobs in Guelph since the capitalist crisis hit last year. Guelph is a university town and the recession has also hit students hard and making secondary education even less accessible to working-class youth. This past Friday, Statistics Canada released figures showing that student unemployment hit 20.9 per cent in July — the highest jobless rate since the agency began collecting comparable data in 1977.
So does this mean that ecological destruction is necessary in order to pull us out of the recession/depression? THE HCBP IS NOT A SOLUTION FOR GUELPH'S WORKING CLASS, YOUTH AND STUDENTS. The tenants that the HCBP hopes to attract are biotechnology, agri-science firms, and other corporate evil-doers. It is unlikely that any of Guelph's recently unemployed manufacturing workers would be eligible for a research position in these offices and its industrial section will not be built up for years, if ever. Furthermore, Guelph has 175 brownfields that can be cleaned up and re-developed (former industrial/commercial sites that may be toxified and are now unused).
Unfortunately, Capital sees brownfields as less profitable than new development on a 'greenfield'. The municipality and other levels of government need to stand up to unrestrained capitalist greed and demand that development is done in a responsible way. YCL-Guelph affirms its support in the struggle for meaningful, decent paying jobs as well as for environmental sustainability and conservation.
PUT PEOPLE AND NATURE BEFORE PROFIT!
YCL-GUELPH STANDS IN FULL SOLIDARITY WITH THE LAND DEFENDERS AT THE HCBP SITE AND DEMANDS THAT THE CITY STOP IT'S EFFORTS AT INTIMIDATION AND CRIMINALIZATION. The City's attitude towards the protesters on the site has not been to negotiate towards a resolution but to use the threats of a 5 million dollar lawsuit, and charges of 'Nuisance', the ‘Criminal Offence of Mischief,’ the ‘Criminal Offence of Intimidation,’ the ‘Criminal Offence of Extortion,’ and ‘Inducing Breach of Contract’, to intimidate the peaceful protesters. These brave people have put themselves on the line in the struggle against anarchic and destructive capitalist development. Many of the people who have been singled out by the City and now face the 5 million dollar law-suit are friends and allies of the YCL.
Please join the friends of the "Land Defenders", community supporters and YCL-Guelph tomorrow, Monday August 10th.
@10 am - Superior Court (74 Woolwich St).
@ 6pm - Rally at city hall (1 Carden st.)
Right: cartoon poking fun at people who make shortsighted decisions.
"Let's not throw the word "privatization" around the way Joe Mccarthy threw the word Communist around!"
- Councillor Justin Swandel
Mayor Katz got his way.
At the end of the day (literally) Council voted 10-6 to approve of the new Utility and strategic partnership model.
This is a disappointing but not entirely unexpected development.
There were about 200 people at the rally the previous night along with excellent speeches, music and a big white elephant!
On the day of the vote, almost as many people showed up and packed both galleries.
outside, a camera was set up to allow critics of the Utility P3 to have their say. It was a kind of "speaker's corner."
At the outset, one of the Councilors, Justin Swandel, did attempt to limit the number of speakers to four, but Council ultimately agreed to hear the 20 speakers who signed up to speak.
At the outset, there were three or four people who spoke out in favour of the water utility, one arguing that further delay would cost the taxpayers money.
THEN THE DELEGATIONS SPOKE OUT AGAINST THE UTILITY. One of the people who had signed up to speak did not show up, so the next speaker, Phyllis Watson of the Council of Women of Winnipeg spoke on the flawed consultation process.
Following Phyllis were the following presentations all approximately 5 minutes long:
John Loxley (Danger of P3s with Examples); Jesse Hajer, CCPA-MB ( Poor Cost Saving Predictions in Business Plan ); Mike Davidson, CUPE MB (Distinction between Upgrades and Utility Model) ;Chris Leo (Urban Sprawl); Alana Makinson, CFS-MB (Youth Perspective); David Cavett-Goodwin, Wolseley Residents Association (Lack of Accountability and Public Control)
Around 11:30 there was a break to allow a different subject to be debated, that over the removal of a heritage building.
Then there was lunch. Over the lunch hour, CKUW helpfully covered the Utility proceedings which included interviews and colour commentary by Tony Clarke, Maude Barlow and Jenny Gerbasi. An Archive of that broadcast can be found at http://ckuw.ca/24/20090722.13.00-14.01.mp3 .
After lunch, Robert Chernomas presented his talk based on the most recent Fast Facts by Maude Barlow and Meera Karunananthan which can be found at the website for the Centre for Policy Alternatives (policyalternatives.ca)
The remaining delegations included the following...
Tom Simms (Charleswood Bridge comparator); Christine Bennett-Clarke; Kevin Rebeck, CUPE MB (Labour Perspective); Sandy Gessler, SPC Board President (Health); GReen Party Leader James Beddome; Larry Klippenstein
Following the delegations, Council deliberated for about three hours. Predictably, the Councilors in opposition to the water corporatization plan raised our major concerns and showed that they had done their homework. Councilors Gerbasi and Orlikow were particularly notable in this regard.
Most of the rest of the Councilors betrayed through their comments that they were largely oblivious to the concerns being raised by opponents of this plan.. Councilor Swandel accused the opponents of "cherry-picking" and not being particularly honest in their appraisal of P3s. He of course ignored Jesse Hajer's devastating critique of the cherry-picking in the Utility Business Plan!
Councilor Steeves insisted that something has to change. That the current system wasn't working, and that something had to be done! If this writer hadn't been familiar with the documentary information indicating that the current system was working fine, he would probably have been impressed by the Councilor's presentation. Even the Deloitte and Touche report which has been used by Council and the Mayor to justify this new Utility has been clear that there was "nothing to suggest that current regulatory requirements and services were not being met" by the current Department of Water and Waste. Therefore, nothing to justify the creation of this highly controversial proposal.
And they call us fear-mongers!
Of course, Councilors Swandel and Steeves sounded like thoughtful and enlightened statesmen compared to most of the other proponents in Council. Councilors Browaty and Fielding clearly had not heard a word that had been said from the delegations. They repeated the canards about how increased involvement from the private sector would reduce costs to the public, reduce cost over-runs, etc.
One pleasant surprise, however was Russ Wyatt's change of heart. He sits on the EPC (Executive Policy Committee) and formerly voted with his colleagues to approve this proposal. Yesterday, he spoke eloquently on the need to engage the public in a proper consultation. At one point he noted that the site of the consultations, the Masonic Temple on Osborne, was not easily accessible to people in his community (Transcona). It bares noting that Russ Wyatt's constituents waged a major campaign against the proposed Olywest pork processing facility a few years ago.
A low point was struck by Mr. Harry Lazaranko who threw a tantrum criticizing the opponents of the Utility plan of "grandstanding" in front of the press and capitalizing on the ignorance of concerned citizens who were expressing concerns about privatization. He even suggested at one point that the presence of children and a man in a wheelchair was part of some kind of PR stunt! He maintained that the Utility plan was so clear and plain to read that "even a twelve year old child could understand it!"
Mr. Lazarenko was the author of an amendment which would call for a mandatory referendum before "Privatization of our water" could happen. By this he appears to mean a shift of ownership from the public to the private sector.
This amendment is a red herring. As Council of Canadians reps Maude Barlow and Meera Karunananthan explained in a recent release...
"Councillor Harry Lazarenko’s motion to ensure that privatization is not sought without a referendum does not allay concerns about the loss of public control over water services, hikes in water rates and the global impacts of creating a for-profit utility."
Of course, the Mayor in the end demonstrated his dismissal of the opponents' arguments, continuing the meme of how the opponents were fear-mongering and lying.
The heart of the opponents' arguments was that there was inadequate consultation and no real opportunity for the public to engage decision-makers. Critics were arguing that they have not gotten adequate answers to their questions!
By the end, there were around 40 of us trying to make sense of what happened. We mostly wandered off dejected and tired.
However, as has been pointed out both within Water Watch and within the Council of Canadians, we really didn't expect this Council to vote against the proposal even if the media ended up giving more coverage to the issue than we dared to dream for!
The next stage of the battle in the opinion of this writer, would involve the province's approval process.
If nothing else critics of the Mayor's plan have public opinion onside. According to a recent poll, nearly 2/3s of Winnipeggers oppose approval of this Utility without proper public consultation.
Michael A Welch
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