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.
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.
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.
By Alan Sears
There are some very important campus struggles unfolding in early March 2015.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By David Bush
At the end of 2014, RankandFile.ca, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.