Tag Archive - Canada

The Impossible Dream

Thomas Mulcair at the NDP convention in March 2012. Credit: Matt Jiggins, Flickr

Todd Gordon makes the case for giving up on the dream of reforming the NDP, in favour of building a new political project based on new social movements. This is the second in a series of reflections in the aftermath of the April NDP Convention, first published by Jacobin. Murray Cooke provides a view from inside in his article "The NDP Convention: A Leap to the Left?"

The NDP Convention: A Leap to the Left?

This article by Murray Cooke is the first in a series of reflections on theaftermath of the April NDP Convention. For an alternate view, see Todd Gordon's article "The Impossible Dream."

There were two highly visible and significant developments at the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) convention in Edmonton on the April 8-10 weekend. As widely discussed in the mass media, delegates passed a resolution on the Leap Manifesto and they launched a leadership contest to take place within two years. Much less visibly and more tenuously, another potentially significant development occurred. For the first time in recent memory, there was a promising undercurrent of organized left activity within the NDP.

These are three positive steps, but do they amount to a leap to the left for the NDP? Pundits in the mainstream media seem to think so and warn that the NDP is headed toward far-left, electoral irrelevance.

Election reflection: Three questions for activists

The editors of New Socialist asked three activists Hassan Husseini, Niloofar Golkar and Russell Diabo to explain what the election of a Liberal majority means for their areas of social justice work. We're afraid, but not surprised, to hear that they are deeply sceptical that real progress in labour, environmental and indigenous causes will follow. We may have a prime minister who says some of the things people want to hear, but the Liberal past and current record speaks for itself. 

"Nobody cared! Nobody helped! Nobody did anything!"

On February 14, demonstrations commemorating hundreds of missing Indigenous women will take place in cities across Canada. In this article, activist Audrey Huntley reflects on the shameful reality of the way in which violence against Indigenous women is normalized in our society, and describes movement-building being spearheaded by organizations and coalitions across Canada, with a focus on the Toronto-based No More Silence -- NSW

By Audrey Huntley

Three Reasons to Hope for an NDP Victory (in spite of what the party has become)

A statement by the editors of New Socialist Webzine
If you're not horrified by the 2015 federal election, you're not paying attention. As the long campaign rolls on, many people are turned off politics by the shallow rhetoric and tightly-controlled discussion orchestrated by the major parties and the mainstream media. Just as bad, the range of political options being offered to people by the leaders of the parties is shrinking.

The NDP Leadership Race: Sleepwalking toward the Centre?

By Murray Cooke

For the first time, the NDP is holding a leadership race that involves picking the leader of the Official Opposition and someone that can, with some credibility, claim a decent shot at becoming the next Prime Minister of Canada.

The NDP: Historic Breakthrough or More of the Same?

By Alan Sears

The New Democratic Party may be poised to make a historic breakthrough in the current Canadian federal election. In 2011the NDP won more seats than it ever had before, becoming the Official Opposition for the first time. Now polls suggest that they could win even more seats, possibly forming a federal government for the first time ever. It is important to ask if this represents a shift to the left in Canadian politics.

NDP Election Win in Alberta: Hope for Change?

By Donald Hughes

To the surprise of many, the social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) was able to rally center-left and protest voters in Alberta to build a credible alternative to the governing Tories. The NDP’s leader, Rachel Notley, won a majority of the legislature’s seats with two-fifths of the popular vote in the May 5 election. The two main conservative parties (the governing Progressive Conservatives and the opposition Wildrose Alliance) won just over half of the popular vote. This was a drop from the right’s much more dominant position in 2012, when the two parties won almost four-fifths of the vote.

Decolonizing Property Rights in Canada

Review of Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson, Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call (Between the Lines, 2015)

This vivid political memoir is co-authored by two prominent Indigenous leaders from interior British Columbia, Arthur Manuel (Secwepemc) and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson (Syilx/Okanagan and Grand Chief of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs). Manuel’s voice predominates in the balance of the book, while Derrickson has written the afterword.

Islamophobia in Canada: A Primer

By Fathima Cader and Sumayya Kassamali

The high-profile Shafia quadruple-murder trial and the media coverage of the trial and its verdict make this article very timely. They only confirm the authors' argument that the Islamophobic outlook sees Muslims as uniquely sexist and violent. -- NSW

Toronto Politics in the Year of the Lockout

By Alan Sears

We are still very early in 2012 but so far it seems to be shaping up as the Year of the Lockout.

Toronto Municipal Workers Under Attack: An Interview

Over 25 000 unionized workers at the City of Toronto, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Locals 79 and 416, along with Toronto Public Library workers in CUPE Local 4948, are under attack by right-wing mayor Rob Ford. A lockout seems likely and will be a "historic test for labour." In late December 2011, David Camfield discussed the situation with two members of CUPE 79, Julia Barnett and Peter Lynch.

Student Power, Worker Activism and the Democratic University

By Alan Sears

There are some very important campus struggles unfolding in early March 2015.

Taxing Times and T-Birds in Alberta

By Paul Kellogg

Alberta's conservative finance minister Robin Campbell announced in February that his government was looking to slash nine percent from its annual budget in response to declining oil prices. The news caught few by surprise. Oil prices were collapsing in late 2014, and New Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, just before the holidays, cautioned about the economic and fiscal instability looming in that oil-dependent province. "We don't know what's around the corner", he said. "We don't know how long prices are going to be low". He gave this advice to the province's citizens: "it is a time to be careful on personal expenditures". The next month, the premier went to Arizona and carefully bought himself a present - a vintage 1956 Ford Thunderbird, costing US$59,400 or about $71,000 Canadian.

Stephen Harper's Bad Idea: Bill C-10 and the Strategy to Fill Our Prisons

By Joan Ruzsa

I remember when the Harper government first introduced a bill (then called C-15) to create mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. I was struck by something when reading the parliamentary debates on the issue. Not only did the opposition parties point to numerous position papers that discounted the efficacy of mandatory minimums, but even the Conservatives' own research clearly showed that harsher sentences have no deterrent effect on crime.

Canada Responds to Tsilhqot’in Decision: Extinguishment or Nothing!

By Russell Diabo and Shiri Pasternak

This is the third in a three-part series on the landmark Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia decision last June, first published in First Nations Strategic Bulletin. Part 1, “The Tsilhqot’in Decision and Canada’s First Nations Termination Policies” can be found here. Part 2, “The Tsilhqot’in Decision and Indigenous Self-Determination” is here.

“Our government believes that the best way to resolve outstanding Aboriginal rights and title claims is through negotiated settlements,” stated Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) Bernard Valcourt on the day the final Tsilhqot’in decision came down in June.

The Tsilhqot’in Decision and Indigenous Self-Determination

By Arthur Manuel

This is the second in a three-part series on the landmark Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia decision last June, first published in First Nations Strategic Bulletin.  Part 1,“The Tsilhqot’in Decision and Canada’s First Nations Termination Policies” by Russell Diabo, can be found here. Part 3, "Canada Responds to Tsilhqot’in Decision: Extinguishment or Nothing!" is here.

It is important to acknowledge with gratitude the courage and determination of the Tsilhqot’in People for moving our efforts to achieve self-determination one level higher.

The Tsilhqot'in Decision and Canada's First Nations Termination Policies

By Russell Diabo

This is the first in a three-part series on the landmark Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot'in v. British Columbia decision last June, first published in First Nations Strategic Bulletin. The second article in this series, "The Tsilhqot’in Decision and Indigenous Self-Determination," can be found here. Part 3, "Canada Responds to Tsilhqot’in Decision: Extinguishment or Nothing!" is here.

On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) recognized that the Xeni Gwet'in Tsilhqot'in People have Aboriginal Title to a large part of their traditional territory. In the same decision, building on previous legal cases written to contain Section 35 of Canada's constitution (which provides constitutional protection to the aboriginal and treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples in Canada), the SCC set out a legal test for asserting and establishing Aboriginal Title in Canada. 

2015: Beyond "Anything But Conservative"

By David Bush

At the end of 2014,, an online labour news publication, ran a competition for Scumbag of the Year. While we received many nominations of bad bosses and terrible politicians from across the country, unsurprisingly it was Stephen Harper who topped our readers' list to win this prestigious award.

The Intractable Marginality of the Activist Left

By Stephen D'Arcy

Strikes are only one form of struggle, and perhaps less and less important as the years pass. But the disappearance of strikes — documented in the accompanying graph — is not an anomaly. It reflects a pattern of diminishing overall levels of oppositional social mobilization. Although there aren’t (as far as I know) statistics on it, it is obvious that levels of social struggle generally, in the Canadian state, are lower now than at any time since written records have been kept.

Rebuilding the Labour Movement One Worker at a Time

By Mostafa Henaway

The recent article by David Camfield and Salmaan Khan highlights the increasing urgency to rethink the state of the labour movement. Six years after the financial crisis, organized labour is still on the defensive. Yet as the authors point out "the weakness or absence of workers' organization reveals a movement in need of reinvention." But we also need to think about how we rebuild a militant labour movement at the point of organizing, among the rank-and-file, and not simply look at theory and strategies. Activists and organizers need to think about reinventing the labour movement almost one worker at a time. 

The 2014 BC Teachers’ Strike: Weathering a Perfect Storm

By Lisa Descary

It is hard to imagine that anybody who strongly supports public education in British Columbia was thrilled when the BC Liberals pulled off an unwelcome, last-minute election victory in 2013. Given the Liberals' history of failure to address the basic needs of the public school system, it was plain to see that more trouble was on the horizon. But this time teachers would not just face the ongoing ebb and flow of government cut-backs and attempts at privatization that our union has to push back against, but a perfect storm that would test us like never before.

The Real Attack on Democracy in Canada

By James Cairns

On October 22, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed in front of the War Memorial in Ottawa. Since then, his life as a soldier in the Canadian military has been celebrated in Parliament, in schools, in National Hockey League arenas, and in endless media coverage. 

Three days after the death of Cirillo, an explosion at an industrial plant in Veolia, Ontario seriously injured five workers. One of the workers has since died. But the body of the dead Veolia worker will not be paraded past cheering crowds on the so-called “Highway of Heroes.” There will not be tributes for him in Parliament. The Veolia explosion has hardly been discussed in the media. 

Reacting to Violence with Scapegoating

This article by NSW contributor Todd Gordon was written for readers outside Canada but is definitely also worth reading by people in Canada.

Two Canadian soldiers were killed in targeted attacks in Canada last week. The first was on Monday, October 20, in Saint Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. But it was the second incident, on Wednesday, October 22, in the federal capital of Ottawa, that drew international attention.

Reinventing the Workers' Movement

By David Camfield and Salmaan Khan

The workers' movement in Canada and Quebec is in a state of disarray, unable to deal with ongoing attacks on the diverse working class. Whether unionized, non-unionized, temporary, racialized, women or indigenous workers, the weakness or absence of workers' organization reveals a movement in need of reinvention. What follows is an introductory piece meant to open discussion on the state of the workers' movement today. We plan to publish responses and other articles that add to the discussion. We invite readers to respond directly to this opening article with reference to some of the key questions and concerns it raises (or others that you think it ignores). Responses do not have to be long (between 1000 and 2000 words) and can be sent to website[at]  Shorter comments posted below the article on the site are also welcome, as always.

Why the BC Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry Fails

By Harsha Walia

The very same grassroots community of women who have been advocating for a public inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of women in the Downtown Eastside for over two decades are now denouncing the BC Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry as an insult to the women of this Vancouver community.

Harper, the Islamic State and the New War in Iraq

By Todd Gordon

Consider an organization in the Middle East that in less than two months this past summer killed, according to most sources, approximately 1500 civilians, roughly a third of whom were children, and displaced thousands more.

What the So-Called Anti-Human Smuggling Bill is Really About

By members of No One Is Illegal-Toronto

Though the House of Commons is not in session, the Harper majority has been churning up anti-migrant frenzy all summer in the lead-up to the reintroduction of Bill C-4 (previously Bill C-49).

Toronto Municipal Elections: Beyond Politricks


By Salmaan Khan 

As election day draws nearer, the race for Toronto's Mayoral seat has narrowed down to three out of the initial 65 registered candidates. Benefiting from selective corporate media exposure,  John Tory, Olivia Chow and Rob Ford have managed to build themselves campaigns that regurgitate many of the same vague promises: less traffic; greater accountability; transit relief; tackling youth unemployment; supporting businesses; and of course, talking taxes. The obsession with tax rates has become so normalized that even the "progressive" alternative has found it a useful mantra as all three candidates clamor for votes.

Layton's Legacy and the NDP Leadership Race

By Murray Cooke

With the death of Jack Layton, the federal NDP has been thrust into an unexpected leadership race, its future in question.

Opposing “Fortress North America”: Tar Sands Development and Indigenous Resistance

By Dave Vasey

From August 30 to September 3, a Tar Sands Action took place at the White House in Washington, DC, with solidarity actions in a number of places across North America, and at Canadian and US embassies in a number of places around the world.

Colonialism and the Working Class in Canada

By David Camfield

It's good news that in a number of cities people "are meeting together in growing numbers to explore what it means - and doesn't mean - to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples within Canada," as journalist Meg Mittelstedt wrote recently.

As Mittelstedt notes, this is happening because of the recent upsurge of protest and resistance by indigenous people. This includes Idle No More, campaigns around murdered and missing women, confrontations with companies that hope to make big profits from fracking, pipeline construction, mining and other activities on the traditional territories of indigenous peoples, and conflicts with governments that want to dismantle anything they see as barriers to corporate profit, including environmental regulations and indigenous rights

Understanding Canadian Imperialism

By Harold Lavender

Review of Todd Gordon, Imperialist Canada (Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2010).

Over the last decade Canada's carefully constructed if largely mythical image as a peaceful force in the world has rapidly unravelled. This image completely flies in the face of the Canadian state's support for coups, invasions and occupations. Involvement in the decade-long counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan has become the symbol of a more aggressive and militarist Canada.

Toward a New Labour Politics

By Maryann Abbs

Review of David Camfield, Canadian Labour in Crisis: Reinventing the Workers' Movement
(Winnipeg: Fernwood, 2011).

BC Teachers Strike 2014

By Lisa Descary

It's July in Greater Vancouver. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, and BC public school teachers like me are signing up for picket line shifts. Yes, that's right: I am walking the picket line in July, a time when my school is not even in session. And I don't even teach summer school. How did this happen?

Toronto at a Crossroads: Will Ford's Austerity Agenda Be Derailed?

By Jackie Esmonde

On June 20, 2011, Mayor Rob Ford and his allies on Toronto City Council Executive Committee turned down free money.

What Mission Accomplished? 10 Years Later, Canada’s Role in Afghanistan and Global War (Part III)

The last of a three part series exploring Canada's role in the war in Afghanistan and wider Global War on Terror after ten years. Part one can be read here, and part two here.

As always, we welcome any feedback you may have on this important and timely discussion.

By Michael Skinner 

What happened to the antiwar movement? Where do we go from here?

On 20 September 2001, George Bush announced his intention to launch a Global War on Terror. In the weeks before the invasion of Afghanistan, antiwar activists throughout the world poured into the streets to protest the impending global war. Again, when the Bush administration began to beat the war drums before invading Iraq, even greater numbers hit the streets.

Austerity with a Smile: The 2014 Ontario Election

By James Cairns

It's always good to see Conservatives lose. And Tim "Zillion Job Cuts" Hudak was the biggest loser on election night in Ontario. Hudak's macho version of Austerity-by-Sledgehammer failed to win broad support. The Conservatives lost legislative seats, and their share of the popular vote dropped. Of course, they'll be back, refreshed by a new leader, and perhaps by the directionally-intriguing "enema from top to bottom" Doug Ford has kindly offered to give the party. For the moment, however, I certainly am relieved not to be waking up in Premier Hudak's province.

What Mission Accomplished? 10 Years Later, Canada’s Role in Afghanistan and Global War (Part II)

Part two of a three part series exploring Canada's role in the war in Afghanistan and wider Global War on Terror after ten years. Part one can be read here.

By Michael Skinner

Afghanistan pried open for business – a new strategic bridgehead in the heart of Eurasia

Regardless of whatever the eventual outcome of the Global War on Terror, the bloody decade-long war continues to generate profits for investors in the defence and security industries. The ongoing warfare provides a practical proving-ground to develop and test new weapons and systems of warfare. The battlefield is the ultimate sales-floor for arms dealers. Profits for investors in the war machine will undoubtedly continue to grow as global warfare continues to escalate.

What Mission Accomplished? 10 Years Later, Canada’s Role in Afghanistan and Global War (Part I)

This article is the first of a three part in-depth series exploring Canada's role in the war in Afghanistan and wider Global War on Terror after ten years.

By Michael Skinner

After a decade of fighting, what did the Canadian Forces accomplish by joining the Global War on Terror and invading Afghanistan? The answer depends on the objectives of the war.

NGOization: Depoliticizing Activism in Canada

By Dru Oja Jay

Across Canada, movement organizations are preparing for the People's Social Forum, coming up in August. There's a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air as committees elect delegates, and strategies are debated. When hundreds of activists gather in Ottawa in a few months, we will be drawing from a rich, long-simmering cauldron of theoretical discussion and insight issuing from astute on-the-ground observations.

The Left and the End of Harper

By Alan Sears

I have a dream about the end of Harper, in which he is driven from office, a reviled figure.

Could Election Reform Make a Difference?

By Harold Lavender

In the May Federal election, Stephen Harper won a majority government without winning a majority of the vote. Only 39.6 percent of the population voted Conservative while 60 percent voted against. Much discussion has focused on the election results and what to do about the Harper majority. But relatively little of this has focused on the electoral system.

Community Victory for Alvaro: Celebrate but Prepare for More Fights

By Jackie Esmonde and Nadia Saad

It is rare in these times that we can celebrate a victory such as Alvaro Orozco's return home to his Toronto community on June 1, after several weeks in immigration detention.

Reflections on the NDP at 50

The gains by the NDP in the 2011 federal election have made the questions of what the NDP is today and how people opposed to the austerity agenda should relate to it even more important. The editors of New Socialist Webzine are glad to publish this contribution by Murray Cooke on the NDP past and present.

As always, we welcome constructive comments and other submissions that address these questions. Readers may also want to read the article, "After the Election 2011: Building our Movements on Shifting Ground." 

Vancouver's Hockey Riot: How to Understand It

By Dave Zirin

How do we understand the riots that exploded in Vancouver after the beloved Canucks lost the Stanley Cup Finals?

A Major Blow to the Right to Strike in Nova Scotia

By David Bush

In the dead of night on March 31 the Liberal government of Nova Scotia skulked into the provincial legislature and introduced essential service legislation, Bill 37, that stripped nearly 40 000 workers of their right to strike.

Hassan Husseini's CLC Challenge

By Cindy McCallum Miller

This year's Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention might be worth attending after all. With a presidential challenge in the air, labour leaders will have to trade in their silk shirts for a pair of overalls to show they still are connected to the working class in order to seek the support of delegates. But it will take more than a fashion change to rebuild the dormant and disillusioned labour movement. That is what activists hope challenger Hassan Husseini will bring to the House of Labour.

What's at Stake at Canada Post?

By Cindy McCallum Miller

Canadians embrace the urban myth that postal workers strike regularly, usually at Christmas and always over money. That's as far from the truth as believing Stephen Harper is a feminist. The last pan-Canadian strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) was in 1997 but that will soon change.

No Shortcuts to a New Left

By David Camfield

This article was first published by Canadian Dimension as part of a series of online viewpoints about challenges and prospects for the left. 

Derrick O’Keefe recently wrote in a piece on the Canadian Dimension magazine website that “beyond some very marginal formations and small publications, the left is missing. It’s just not there, organizationally.”

After the Election 2011: Building our Movements on Shifting Ground

By Alan Sears and James Cairns

The federal election of 2011 drastically shifted the terrain of parliamentary politics in Canada.

Canada’s Federal Election 2011: Should Radicals Care?

By Alan Sears and James Cairns

Despite severe problems with electoral politics, radicals building movements for real social change need to engage seriously with elections. In this article, we look at the current Canadian election from a Toronto perspective.

Strategies to Stop Climate Change

By Gene McGuckin

On December 3, the Vancouver Ecosocialist Group put on an event, "Strategies to Fight Climate Change." We are republishing the speech by VEG member Gene McGuckin. A report on the event and links to videos of all the speakers' talks is online here -- NSW

Fighting Mayor Ford's Austerity Regime (Part II)

Wanted: A Left to Stop Ford

It will take a mighty movement to defeat the Ford agenda and turn back the age of austerity. We need a Left that can reach out to broad layers of the population, communicating a political alternative effectively and contributing to effective activism that really makes a difference.

Rob Ford, Ford Nation and the Suburbs: What's Going On?

By Todd Gordon

Other politicians -- and the Left too -- can only dream of having the base of support Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has had from what he calls "Ford Nation": his supporters based primarily in the inner suburbs of Scarborough, North York, East York and Etobicoke.

Fighting Mayor Ford's Austerity Regime (Part I)

In the first part of a two-part article, Alan Sears argues that Toronto's very right-wing mayor is no mere buffoon, but "the immediate face" of the "Age of Austerity" and a "bad cop" of neoliberalism.

By Alan Sears

Workers in Wisconsin have responded to attempts to destroy collective bargaining rights in the public sector with massive protest actions. These actions have galvanized workers in other states to confront their own employers and to support the movement in Wisconsin.

Can Ontario Get Child Care?

By Donald Hughes

At the recent Conservative convention in Calgary, Stephen Harper referred back to one of his first acts as Prime Minister, which was to demolish the national child care framework. Harper referred to the child care program as "lobbyists, academics and bureaucrats" and suggested that now the money (in the form of a small tax credit) was in the hands of "Mom and Dad."

'No Fare is Fair': A Roundtable with Members of the Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly Transit Committee

By Ali Mustafa 

The Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly (GTWA) is a promising new initiative aiming to build a united, non-sectarian, and militant anti-capitalist movement in the city among a diversity of rank-and-file labour unionists, grassroots community organizers, and youth alike. Since the GTWA's inception in early 2010, mass public transit has emerged as one of the organization's key political battlegrounds. In this in-depth roundtable discussion, members of the GTWA's transit committee Jordy Cummings, Lisa Leinveer, Leo Panitch, Kamilla Pietrzyk, and Herman Rosenfeld explore both the opportunities and obstacles facing the campaign Towards a Free and Accessible TTC.

Military Coups are Good for Canadian Business: The Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement

By Todd Gordon

Last week Canadian negotiators met with their Honduran counterparts in Tegucigalpa to discuss a free trade agreement (FTA). Negotiators from the two countries last met in Ottawa in December. According to the Honduran press, an agreement is close to being completed. This marks an alarming development in the efforts of the Canadian state and multinational corporations to deepen their relations with Honduras following the military coup of June 28, 2009.

Whose Values? On Nationalism in English Canada and in Québec

By Darryl Leroux

Since the details of the PQ’s proposed Charter of Québec Values were first leaked to the media a few weeks ago, there has been a firestorm of condemnation across the Rest of Canada (ROC). The corporate media’s universal denunciations on the matter are matched only by the many petitions circulating on social media calling for an end to this display of racism in Québec. It’s an auspicious moment indeed when stories in the National Post and the Globe & Mail sound very much like the ones penned by activists on social media.

Defederate or Organize? The Student Left and the Canadian Federation of Students

By Doug Nesbitt

A September 4 press release published on Rabble has once again stirred debate among left-wing student activists about the Canadian Federation of Students. A network of left-wing students are at the forefront of a coordinated effort across 15 different campuses to gather sufficient signatures to initiate referendum campaigns on CFS membership.

Other left-wing students have responded with incredibly sharp criticisms, the most incendiary being the claim that defederation will actually aid the Right on campuses.

Unifor's Founding Convention: The Predictable and the Unexpected

By Lindsay Hinshelwood

Over the Labour Day weekend two of Canada's largest industrial unions, the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP), merged to become the country's largest private sector union, Unifor.

30 Years On: The Toronto Bathhouse Raids and Sexual and Gender Liberation

By Alan Sears

On February 5, 1981 150 Toronto cops busted into four gay bathhouses and arrested 306 people on charges of being found-ins or keepers of common bawdyhouses. These arrests were deliberately conducted so as to humiliate and terrify the men who were charged. Doors were kicked in and men were dragged out naked, verbally abused and beaten up.

Canadian Capitalism and the Dispossession of Indigenous Peoples

By Todd Gordon

This article from the special Indigenous Resurgence issue of New Socialist magazine in 2006 now rings more true than ever. Seven years later, indigenous struggles against the corporate pillaging and desecration of their traditional territories continue in Canada - at the forefront of these is the battle against the Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route through the northern British Columbian mainland and coastal islands.

Neoliberal globalization has brought with it the intensification of what Marxist geographer David Harvey refers to as accumulation by dispossession [check out Harvey's 2009 talk on Youtube - Eds].

“Getting the Poor to Manage Their Poverty Better”: Poverty Alleviation Strategies from the Top

By Augusta Dwyer

An all-party report calling on the Harper government to pursue a vigorous poverty reduction strategy in Canada was recently introduced in the House of Commons. According to the Ottawa Citizen, “the report calls for pumping more money into affordable housing across the country, as well as increased supports to parents, seniors, people with disabilities and jobless and older workers.” The product of three years of cross-country consultations by a Commons committee, its recommendations were endorsed by all the opposition parties, but also—with some qualifications—by Conservatives.

Lac-Mégantic: A Social and Ecological Tragedy

A statement by Le réseau écosocialiste (the Ecosocialist Network)

"The disaster at Lac-Mégantic cannot not be resolved by a strict inquiry, individual accusations, some superficial regulatory modification and false promises of security. This episode is not just a technical problem, but is a springboard for social mobilisation, for political action aimed at both ecological transition and the liberation from the yoke of unscrupulous big business and their accomplices in the Canadian State."

Québec has just experienced the most brutal ecological catastrophe of its history. On July 6, 2013, a train loaded with 72 cars carrying crude oil derailed during the night. It exploded in downtown Lac-Mégantic, a small Eastern Townships municipality of 6000. A series of explosions and a fire completely destroyed more than 30 buildings including the municipal library, the town’s archives, heritage buildings, businesses and residences. Police have confirmed that 50 people were killed by the blast.

A Movement in Trouble and a Perspective for Change

By David Camfield

The fall of 2010 saw millions of private and public sector workers and students in France take to the streets, walk out on strike and blockade roads and oil refineries.

Organizing Against the Flow: Learning from the Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly

By Alan Sears

The global slump since 2008 has cast a sharp light on the glaring injustices that characterize global capitalism at every level. Yet there is a horrible gap between the perception that something is wrong and the sense we can do something about it. The greatest challenge anti-capitalists face today is to work towards closing that gap.

Rob Ford in Toronto: Why the Ascendancy of Hard-Right Populism in the 2010 Mayoral Election?

By Parastou Saberi and Stefan Kipfer

On October 25th, the citizens of Toronto voted decisively for a hard-right populist mayor: Councilor Rob Ford. With an unusually high voter turnout (52.6%), Ford received 47.1% of the vote, about the same as the combined vote for his main competitors, former Liberal cabinet minister George Smitherman (35.6%) and deputy mayor Joe Pantalone (11.7%). Among the city’s 44 wards, only 13 did not vote as a plurality or majority for Ford.

Environmental Activism After the 2013 BC Election

By Harold Lavender

This is the second part of a two-part article on ecological politics in BC. The first part, on the provincial election, is here.

The dust has settled on the May 14 provincial election in British Columbia, with Christy Clark's Liberals once again forming a clear majority government. However, the struggle to stop pipelines and the destructive impact of resource extraction megaprojects remains a very hot issue which is not about to go away. Under the Liberals, we can expect a big push for mega-resource development, with a big focus on exporting liquified natural gas (LNG) to Asia along with an austerity agenda with respect to social and environmental protection programs.

Canadian Imperialism This Fall: Onwards and Upwards

By Todd Gordon

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Canadian imperialism in the last couple of months. To start, in October Canada lost its bid to win a United Nations Security Council seat.

Socialism from Below and Indigenous Resurgence: Reclaiming Traditions

By DL Simmons

With the indigenous activists of Idle No More and Defenders of the Land calling to make the summer of 2013 "Sovereignty Summer" -- a "campaign of coordinated non-violent direct actions to promote Aboriginal rights and environmental protection in alliance with non-native supporters" -- it's a good time to look at the relationship between indigenous struggle and radical politics. With this in mind, we are glad to publish a revised and updated version of a piece that originally appeared in the special Indigenous Resurgence issue of New Socialist in 2006.

During the peak of the Red Power movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many newly radicalizing indigenous people became interested in exploring various theories of revolution and socialist organization.

The G20 Demonstrations and the Criminalization of Dissent

By Jackie Esmonde

In the lead up to the G20 meetings in Toronto this summer, the conclusion that the state perceived anti-G20 protest activity as almost inherently criminal was inescapable.

Environmental Activism and the 2013 BC Election -- Part 1

By Harold Lavender

Many people were caught off guard by the results of the provincial election in British Columbia on May 14. Prior to the election, the New Democratic Party (NDP) held a large lead in the polls. The incumbent Liberal government seemed in major disarray, and most people assumed the result was a foregone conclusion. The NDP campaigned on the full expectation that it would form the next government.

An Invaluable Book for Teachers

Review of Lois Weiner, The Future of Our Schools: Teachers Unions and Social Justice (Haymarket, 2012)

By Lisa Descary

Why are the Harper Conservatives so pro-Israel?

By James Cairns

The Canadian government has been a strong supporter of Israel since the country was founded in 1948 through the expulsion of most of the indigenous Palestinian population from their homes. In its friendly treatment of Israel, Canada has long played an important international role in covering up the violent dispossession of Palestinians and the apartheid system that maintains and normalizes their oppression.

Where Do We Go from Here? The G20 Summit, Black Bloc, and the Canadian Left

By Ali Mustafa


Public outcry continues to grow across Canada over the widespread abuse of civil liberties during the recent G20 Summit in Toronto. Over 1,000 people were rounded-up and arrested between June 26th- 27th, resulting in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. While the majority of those arrested have since been released, at least 16 people remain under strict bail conditions and face a variety of serious criminal charges. Countless others who managed to avoid arrest were indiscriminately searched, detained for hours, and even violently attacked by police.

Labour-Community Solidarity and Climate Change

By Gene McGuckin

This is the slightly edited text of a presentation to CEP BC Provincial Council in Vancouver on April 27, 2013.

The Battle of York

By Xavier Lafrance

On January 29, 2009, 85 days after it was launched, the longest strike in the Canadian university sector outside of Québec came to an end. This was a strike by some 3400 contract faculty, teaching assistants and research assistants employed by York University and unionized under the banner of CUPE 3903.

Up Against the Neoliberal Parties: What Should the Left Do? Four Views

The editors of New Socialist Webzine recently sent the following short description of the situation in which the Left finds itself today to a number of people we respect and asked them for their thoughts. We are glad to publish four responses, from Cindy McCallum Miller, David McNally, Leanne Simpson and Cloé Zawadzki-Turcotte. We welcome additional constructive responses from readers.

The NDP Convention: The Decline and Fall of an Old Preamble (or A Social Democratic Party Becalmed)[1]

By Murray Cooke

Like the federal Liberal Party leadership race, the NDP policy convention this past weekend proved to be rather anti-climactic.

G20 Protests: Fighting Back Against the Police State

By Alan Sears

On Monday, June 28, a large and boisterous demonstration of about 2500 people that snaked through the streets of Toronto continued the movement to rid this city of the police state regime that took over during the G20 summit. The leaders of the G20 had gone. As expected, their gathering had focussed on finding new ways to restore corporate profits by taking it out of the workers and the poor. But the movement against the police state regime and the G8/G20 agenda is continuing.

Indigenous Peoples and the "Politics of Recognition"

By Glen Coulthard

"...Indigenous societies have truths to teach the Western world about the establishment and preservation of relationships between peoples and the natural world that are profoundly non-imperialist." Glen Coulthard, New Socialist, 2006.

These words, written more than half a decade ago, ring truer than ever as the Journey of Nishiyuu is nearing its Ottawa destination as part of the Idle No More movement. Since their departure from the isolated Cree community of Whapmagoostui on Hudson Bay in northern Quebec on January 16, the ranks of walkers have swelled to nearly 200.

Meanwhile, Defenders of the Land and Idle No More have issued a joint call for intensified action against the Harper government and the corporate agenda: a “Solidarity Spring” to precede a “Sovereignty Summer,” with actions on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, Earth Day on April 22, and through the summer. New Socialist celebrates this mobilization and the solidarity that can defeat the Harper agenda.

Rethinking Canada's Peacekeeping Myth

By Ali Mustafa

Yves Engler's latest book is an indispensable resource for students and activists alike, offering a sweeping indictment of Canadian foreign policy history in the Middle East that should not go unheeded.

Choosing Not to Look Away: Confronting Colonialism in Canada

By Monique Woroniak and David Camfield

Canada has "no history of colonialism." So said Stephen Harper in 2009. Today the Idle No More movement is shouting down this lie through actions both creative and courageous. In its place, it is telling Canadians at large what some of us have always known: that the country we live in was founded as -- and continues to be -- a colonial-settler state.

Mobilizing Against Tar Sands Pipelines in Ontario: An Interview with John Riddell

Can you explain what’s happening in Canada with the tar sands pipelines, what they are, and what they’re going to do?

It really starts with Canada’s rulers. They have a dream that Canada is going to become the new world oil superpower. The oil that is locked up in Canada’s tar sands is greater in quantity than all the conventional oil reserves in the world put together. The tar sands could make Canada a rival to Saudi Arabia on the world oil market.

Teachers' Strikes and the Fight Against Austerity in Ontario

By Murray Cooke

On January 3, Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten announced that she will be imposing concessionary contracts on the province's teachers. This is a drastic attack on collective bargaining rights that the teachers have said they will fight. It follows on the heals of the Liberal minority government's Bill 115, "An Act to Implement Restraint Measures in the Education System," passed last September with the support of the Conservatives.

Assessing the Anti-Olympics Protests in Vancouver

By Harold Lavender

Opposition to the many negative impacts of the Vancouver Olympics was loud and clear as activists vigorously exercised their right to free speech in wide-ranging protest actions against the 2010 Winter Games.

Seeding Divestment: Carleton's Yafa Jarrar discusses BDS campaign

By Ali Mustafa

The divestment report urging Carleton University to divest from companies implicated in Israel's occupation and grave violations of human rights is a true gem for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The report's research, argumentation, corroboration and writing style are impeccable and deeply impressive. In making the case for divestment from Israel, the report from Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) combines the best of both worlds: the commitment to truth and justice of the most sincere and far-sighted human rights defenders and the piercing logic of the most able lawyers. SAIA's time-honoured commitment to just peace and international law, distinguished professionalism and creativity are truly inspiring. They build on the wonderful, pioneering divestment victory at Hampshire College last year to take divestment to the next level. This makes a superb model for the mushrooming divestment campaigns around the world.
The Global BDS Movement

Weaving a Racist Narrative on Gaza: The CBC's Contribution

By Labib Mohammad ElAli

In the aftermath of the recent war on Gaza, and in the context of the expanding Israeli settlement project in the West Bank, calls for joining the global Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement will surely increase in Canada.

Mulcair's NDP: The New Liberal Party

Tom Mulcair has been the leader of the federal New Democratic Party for more than eight months now. His leadership has largely been as expected: solid, competent and moderate. Mulcair has continued Jack Layton's strategy of trying to supplant the Liberals as the middle-of-the-road alternative to the Harper Conservatives. It's not a particularly inspiring strategy and, looking toward the likely coronation of Justin Trudeau as the next leader of the Liberal Party, it's not a foregone conclusion that it will be a successful one. And supplanting the Liberals, even if that is solidified, isn't necessarily sufficient to defeat the Conservatives. Unless the Conservatives really implode or somehow manage to alienate their carefully cultivated base of supporters, they are going to be difficult to defeat in the next election.

Solidarity or Exclusion? British Columbia Unions and Chinese Mineworkers

By David Camfield

It's obvious why HD Mining is hiring workers in China to work at the Murray River Coal Project in Northern BC. Because they are admitted to Canada on work visas under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), the company can pay them a lot less than it would have to pay Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Where is the Union Movement in the Olympic Resistance?

 By Gene McGuckin

It’s time for someone to mention the elephant that’s not in the room.

The Ottawa Bank Bombing

By Daniel Serge

In the early hours of May 18, a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada went up in flames. We know this because a previously unidentified group, calling itself FFFC – Ottawa, posted a video of the incident to, the radical web portal. RBC was the target for “stealing native land” during the 2010 Winter Olympics. FFFC promised to attend the upcoming G20 protests in Toronto.

Against the Right: Defending Public Services in Quebec

By Marie-Eve Rancourt

This is the third article in our series about movement organizing in Quebec today (our article on Profs Against the Hike is here and our article on Montreal-Nord Republik is here).

The CAW-CEP Merger: A Political Reflection

By Bruce Allen

The approaching merger between the Canadian Autoworkers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) will create the largest private sector union in Canada with over 300 000 members employed in 22 sectors of the economy. As such it has the potential to profoundly affect the political direction of both the labour movement in this country and ultimately the political future of Canada.

Hope is in the Streets, Not Parliament!

That was the message of a Winnipeg New Socialist Group leaflet distributed at the demonstration against the prorogation of Parliament on Jan. 23rd.

Montreal-Nord Republik and its Fight for Justice

By Alejandra Zaga

The inspiring student movement is not the only organizing in Quebec that people outside Quebec need to know about, so we are publishing a number of articles about movement organizing in Quebec today. Following on our article on Profs Against the Fee Hike, we're glad to publish this look at Montreal-Nord Republik -- NSW.

Criminalization of Indigenous People Part II - Decriminalizing Sex Work, Saving Lives

by Maurganne Mooney

Toronto's Indigenous Sovereignty and Solidarity Network organized a series of events during Indigenous Sovereignty Weeklast November, including a panel on The Criminalization of Indigenous People. We're bringing you a series of three contributions adapted from presentations by Jules Koostachin, Maurganne Mooney, and Christa Big Canoe. This is the second article in the series. The article by Jules Koostachin can be found here.

Many people don't really understand the current state of law with regards to sex work. I use the term sex work, not prostitution, because I view it as work. It's a type of labour, and people engaged in that labour deserve as safe working conditions as anybody else.

Currently in Ontario it is legal to work in prostitution or in sex work. But until recently, the practices for staying safe were criminalized. It was a violation of basic human rights here in Canada.

Profs Against the Hike, or a New Beginning for Faculty Political Action

By Anne-Marie Le Saux and Philippe de Grosbois

During the Quebec student strike this year, CEGEP and university teachers opposed to the tuition fee hike that triggered the student mobilization organized themselves in a network, Profs Contre La Hausse (Profs Against the Hike, PCLH by its French initials), to take action in solidarity with students and against the government's agenda.This organization, independent of union structures, was an important development. We are glad to present this article about PCLH, which was written before the final phase of the student strike -- NSW

Ontario Teachers Under Attack: It's Our Turn Now

By Jason Kunin 

Like passengers on the upper deck of the Titanic who could order drinks and mill about in their tuxedos a good hour after those in the lower decks had drowned, we teachers in Ontario have spent the past eight years relatively insulated from anti-labour attacks that have affected workers in virtually every other sector, from garbage collectors to postal worker to the custodial and secretarial staff we work side-by-side with in our schools. 

Criminalization of Indigenous People Part I - A Foreign System: Incarceration of Indigenous Women

by Jules Koostachin

Toronto's Indigenous Sovereignty and Solidarity Network organized a series of events during Indigenous Sovereignty Week last November, including a panel on The Criminalization of Indigenous People. We're bringing you a series of three contributions adapted from presentations by Jules Koostachin, Maurganne Mooney, and Christa Big Canoe. The article by Maurganne Mooney can be found here.

In my work with the Elizabeth Fry Toronto, I oversee the volunteer program court service at the College Park provincial court. This program has volunteer court workers that assist clients through the court experience. We provide information and referrals to community resources. We provide clarification of the court process, and we also give referrals to lawyers, assistance with applying for legal aid.

It's a preventative program using a restorative justice approach to ensure that clients do not get a criminal record for minor offences while making amends for their criminal behavior. This will most likely change with Bill C-10, which will effectively lead to more criminalization of women.

Social Blindness: the Union Bureaucracy's Ultimate Sickness

By Rene Charest

In this year's massive and inspiring social movement in Quebec, union mobilizations have been notably weak. We are glad to present an article written for us by Quebecois activist Rene Charest that looks at this important problem -- NSW.

Quebec's "Red Square" Movement: The Story So Far

By David Camfield 

This is a slightly revised and expanded version of an article written for the magazine of the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France. Although it's mainly intended to give readers outside Canada an account of the movement, readers in Canada may find it a useful overview.

Share Our Future: The CLASSE Manifesto

By Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale (CLASSE)

For months now, all over Quebec, the streets have vibrated to the rhythm of hundreds of thousands of marching feet. What started out as a movement underground, still stiff with the winter consensus, gathered new strength in the spring and flowed freely, energizing students, parents, grandparents, children, and people with and without jobs. The initial student strike grew into a people’s struggle, while the problem of tuition fees opened the door to a much deeper malaise – we now face a political problem that truly affects us all. To find its remedy and give substance to our vision, let us cast our minds back to the root of the problem.

Race, Racism and the Quebec Student Movement

By rosalind hampton

Action guided by anti-racist and anti-colonial analysis is essential to imagining and building liberating alternatives to our current social order. The experience of the inspiring movement ignited by Quebec students this year confirms this belief, as questions about its diversity and about incidents of racism have increasingly emerged.

Red Square, Everywhere: With Quebec Student Strikers, Against Repression

By Xavier Lafrance and Alan Sears

The Charest government has turned to repression to try to break the largest and longest student strike in Quebec history. Students had already endured heavy-handed policing, including hundreds of arrests and brutal attacks by riot cops on campuses and in the streets. The new strikebreaking legislation, Bill 78, is a brutal clampdown on the right to organize collectively and on freedom of expression. The protest plans for any demonstrations of more than 50 people must be cleared with the police in advance of any gathering, or the action will be considered illegal.  Individual students, staff or faculty members who advocate the ongoing strike action risk harsh penalties, and student unions or university employees unions who organize or support ongoing strike activity will face heavy fines.

The Quebec Student Strike: the Meaning of a Crisis

By Pierre Mouterde

There is no doubt that with the 2012 student strike, Quebec is going through a decisive moment in its history. But we must now try to measure its exact reach, if only to understand in which direction we should look for a solution to what is increasingly looking like a major educational, but also social and political crisis.

Massive Student Upsurge Fuels Major Debates in Quebec Society

By Richard Fidler

A crowd estimated at 250,000 people or more wound its way through Montréal April 22 in Quebec's largest ever Earth Day march. They raised many demands: an end to tar sands and shale gas development, opposition to the Quebec government's Plan Nord mining expansion, support for radical measures to protect ecosystems, and other causes. And many wore the red felt square symbolizing support to the province's students fighting the Liberal government's 75 per cent increase in post-secondary education fees over the next five years. The Earth Day march was the largest mobilization to date in a mounting wave of citizen protest throughout the province.

The Canadian State Helps Usher in a New Phase of Capital Accumulation

By Zac Saltis

The contents of the federal budget unveiled by the Conservatives on March 29, 2012 are hardly shocking.  In fact, this voluminous document sheds light on what strategies the Canadian state will be adopting to promote and facilitate capital accumulation in this era of economic stagnation and austerity for the working class.

Democracy in the Age of Austerity: Beyond the Robocall Scandal

By James Cairns

A lot of people are angry about the robocall scandal. Even by the low standards of the Harper Conservatives, the covert attempt to block thousands of people from voting in the 2011 federal election is pretty disgusting.

The Harper Government and Assembly of First Nations Politics

By Russell Diabo

On January 23-24 a Crown-First Nations Gathering (CFNG) was held between the Prime Minister and First Nations representatives.