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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.

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

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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.

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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. 

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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
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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. 

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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.

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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]newsocialist.org  Shorter comments posted below the article on the site are also welcome, as always.

Articles

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.

Colonialism and the Working Class in Canada
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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

Articles

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

No Shortcuts to a New Left
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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.”

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