Saturday, April 28, 2012

May Day Posters 2012

See 2011 HERE.

Review: La Grande Illusion

Siobhan McGuirk reviews Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion

Red Pepper
April 2012

In the canon of war cinema, Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion is a rarity: a film with no fighting, where the frontline is never seen. A brilliant work whose only real moment of violence is the shooting of a prancing man armed with nothing but a flute, it depicts the fragility and resilience of human relationships in the absurdity of war.

La Grande Illusion tells the tale of a band of French soldiers captured as prisoners of war by German forces during WWI. At the centre of the drama is a trio of characters who embody the French tricolore; markedly different, they are at once an acknowledgement of the divisions in French society and a hopeful rallying cry of fraternité.

Maréchal is a straight-talking and rough-edged Parisian, loyal and with a common touch. His unlikely companion is de Boeldieu, an aristocratic captain aloof from his comrades who observes social formalities until the end. Finally there is Rosenthal, a banker from a rich Jewish immigrant family, a man whose opulence and generosity never deserts him – even behind enemy lines.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New May Day graphic novel retells old stories of struggle

"May Day has symbolized the common struggles of workers around the globe"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can Wildrose remove its thorns?

By Simon Enoch
Saskatchewan Office, CCPA
April 22, 2012

With the Alberta Tories proving so many pollsters and pundits wrong after their convincing win last night, one might be forgiven for writing off the ultra-conservative Wildrose Party as an otherwise historic footnote in the annals of Alberta’s Tory dynasty. That, I argue, would be a mistake. First, let’s look at the actual results. The Tories surprising victory last night owes an awful lot to the distortions that first-past-the-post electoral systems inevitably generate. 

The Tories took 77% of the legislative seats with just under 44% of the popular vote. Wildrose tallied an impressive 34.5% of the popular vote, despite receiving only about 19% of the legislative seats. Had there not been a decisive run to the Tories by strategic voters the picture last night may have been very different. So while Wildrose did not match the overly optimistic expectations of the pollsters, they may still have positioned themselves to be the “heirs-in-waiting” to the Tory dynasty.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ideology and Electricity: The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan

By Christian Parenti
17 April 2012

In the teahouses and street stalls of Kabul, one sometimes sees the portrait of a stern, round-faced man with dark hair and a mustache. It is the visage of Muhammad Najibullah, the last president of communist Afghanistan. Najibullah joined the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) in the late 1960s, ran Afghanistan’s highly organized secret police, the KHAD, and then became the country’s president in 1986. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Najibullah hung on to power for another three years. Taliban fighters eventually killed him in 1996.

On occasions when I have asked Afghans in Kabul about the Najibullah posters and postcards, their replies have ranged from “He was a strong president—we had a strong army then” to “Everything worked well and Kabul was clean.” One teahouse proprietor, using the familiar form of the name, stated simply that “Najib fought Pakistan.” In other words, he is remembered not so much as a socialist—a vague term for many in Afghanistan—but as a modernizer and a patriot.

Read more HERE.

Rumbles of resistance across Canada

By Katie Leonard
April 21, 2012

As the austerity measures being imposed on workers become increasingly incisive, working people are fighting back all across Canada.

Despite uncertain outcomes, workers are willing to engage in long struggles with employers in hopes of keeping good jobs and pensions.

In Sudbury, workers at Vale Inco remained on strike from July 2009 to July 2010. ECP workers at the Brantford, Ontario plant went on strike in August of 2008, after the company demanded a cut to wages and benefits of 25 per cent. The strike continued until March 2011, when the company decided to close the plant down. Despite the less than ideal outcome, workers at ECP have shown their willingness to fight for as long as necessary for good jobs.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Roma Refused

Changes to refugee law shut doors to persecuted minority

The Dominion
April 20, 2012
Also see Move On!

On February 21, 2012, in Parkdale, Toronto, a candlelight vigil was held to commemorate the Hungarian Roma victims of hate crime perpetrated in Hungary by openly racist, “anti-Gypsy” paramilitary groups. PHOTO: KRISTYNA BALABAN

The Roma Community Centre's one-room office, located on the ground floor of the Crossways Plaza in Toronto, has been operating in this location since October 2011. Founded in 1997 after the arrival of over 3,000 Czech Roma refugees in Canada, the RCC is the only organization for Roma operating in Toronto.

Originally based out of the office of Culturelink, an immigrant settlement organization, the new space now hosts a number of different programs including a weekly English as a Second Language class, a women's support group and immigration counselling.

According to Gina Csayni, Executive Director of the RCC, since acquiring the new office space there has been a dramatic rise in the number of people coming to the centre—around 20 per day—mostly Roma from Hungary. Csayni said, “as things become progressively worse in Hungary more and more are fleeing.”

Saskatchewan Environmental Film Festival

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Climate change could mean fewer local species in prairies

By Morgan Modjeski
Metro Saskatoon

There a­s a marshy spot in central Alberta where majestic flocks of white tundra swans make a decorative pit stop on their 3,700-kilometre journey from central California to their spring breeding ground in the Northwest Territories.

Closely aligned with Earth Day 2012, the Saskatchewan Research Council recently released a study that examines the effect climate change will have on the Prairie’s grasslands.

The report, titled The Vulnerability of Prairie Grasslands to Climate Change, looks closely at how Saskatchewan and the other Prairie grasslands’ will react to climate change over the next century.
Jeff Thorpe, lead researcher on the paper, said climate change will result in the less indigenous species and a massive shift in vegetation to the north of the province.

“Everything is going to shift northward,” said Thorpe.

“It starts with the vegetation zone’s shifting northward—probably the biggest thing people will notice is that we’ve got that boundary line running through the province where we’ve got grasslands to the south of it and forest to the north of it; and that line depends on climate and it is expected to shift northward.”

Thorpe said in addition to forcing vegetation and wildlife north, climate change will also have an effect on the types of vegetation in the prairies; with species from the U.S. eventually ending up here.
 “We expect different kinds of grassland to come into Canada,” said Thorpe. “This warmer climate that’s being predicted, if you look where this climate exists now, it’s down in the States, so the kind of grassland that they have to the south of us in the Dakotas, Montana or Wyoming, we expect to gradually move northward into Canada.

A triumph of failed ideas: European models of capitalism in the crisis

By Steffen Lehndorff 
Publication date : 2012

The current crisis in Europe is being labelled, in mainstream media and politics, as a ‘public debt crisis’. The present book draws a markedly different picture. What is happening now is rooted, in a variety of different ways, in the destabilisation of national models of capitalism due to the predominance of neoliberalism since the demise of the post-war ‘golden age’. Ten country analyses provide insights into national ways of coping – or failing to cope – with the ongoing crisis. They reveal the extent to which the respective socio-economic development models are unsustainable, either for the country in question, or for other countries.

The bottom-line of the book is twofold. First, there will be no European reform agenda at all unless each country does its own homework. Second, and equally urgent, is a new European reform agenda without which alternative approaches in individual countries will inevitably be suffocated. This message, delivered by the country chapters, is underscored by more general chapters on the prospects of trade union policy in Europe and on current austerity policies and how they interact with the new approaches to economic governance at the EU level. These insights are aimed at providing a better understanding across borders at a time when European rhetoric is being used as a smokescreen for national egoism.

Yemen: Popular Committees Take Control

By Yaser al-Yafei
 Al-Akhbar English
April 19, 2012

A defected army soldier pushes a disabled person across a street as barricades erected by defected army forces are dismantled in Sanaa 7 April 2012. (Photo: REUTERS - Mohamed al-Sayaghi)

After multiple defeats suffered by the army at the hands of Ansar al-Sharia, local communities and tribes in Southern Yemen have been taking charge of their own security, and doing a much more effective job at maintaining it.

Recent months have witnessed an unprecedented escalation of violence in the southern provinces of Yemen. Armed groups affiliated with the Ansar al-Sharia organization, which is thought to be connected with Al-Qaeda, have mounted a series of large scale offensives, over-running numerous army bases and positions in the province of Abyan and adjoining districts and killing scores of troops.

Last week, the fiercest fighting yet broke out when the militants launched a concerted attack on army units deployed on the approaches to the town of Lawdar. The militants forced the Yemeni soldiers to abandon their bases and retreat. Members of Ansar al-Sharia were able to then seize the weapons and materiel the soldiers had left behind.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Democracy in the Age of Austerity: Beyond the Robocall Scandal

By James Cairns
New Socialist webzine
19 April 2012

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.

In a recent poll, 75 percent of respondents said they want a formal inquiry into the Conservative Party's dirty campaign tricks. Anti-robocall rallies have been held in more than 25 cities. At a rally in Saskatoon last month, protestor Nayyar Javed told the crowd: "Democracy is very important to me. […] We are complacent or are in denial about the erosion of democracy."

To people who recognize that real social change isn't going to happen through the existing democratic system, being concerned about robocall can seem like a waste of time and energy. But when robocall is viewed from a broader perspective, it can begin to take on real significance. In fact, there are good reasons for viewing robocall as but one covert episode in a whole series of attacks on democracy that are happening right out in the open.

Federal budget slashes co-op support

Agriculture Canada cutbacks contradict federal focus on jobs and innovation.

The Canadian Co-operative Association
April 13, 2012

Representatives of Canada's co-operative movement say cutbacks at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada run counter to the government's stated goals of creating jobs, promoting partnerships between the public and private sectors and fostering innovation. The announcement also calls into question the government's support for the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, which Canada publicly endorsed when the UN resolution was adopted in 2009.

Canada's national co-operative associations have learned that the Co-operative Development Initiative (CDI), a program that has provided financial support for new and emerging co-operatives since 2003, will not be continued — and that the Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat, the government office that administers programs related to co-operatives, will be significantly reduced in size.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rural Scotland and socialism in the 21st century

Scottish Socialist Party

Read this pamphlet HERE.

The Harper Government and Assembly of First Nations Politics

By Russell Diabo
New Socialist Webzine
April 15, 2012

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

This meeting came about through meetings and letters between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and National Chief Shawn Atleo last year. In addition to these communications there was a Canada-First Nations Joint Action Plan agreed to between the Aboriginal Affairs Ministry and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in June 2011, which indicated a CFNG would likely be held.

I observed the CFNG from the media room in the building where the high profile event was held. When the plenary meeting recessed I observed many First Nations Chiefs and leaders rushing to greet the Prime Minister. Reportedly, during the lunch break there was a line up to get a photo with the Prime Minister.

Limping Out of Afghanistan

Immanuel Wallerstein
April 15, 2012

The two candidates for the U.S. presidency seem to be trying to outshout each other concerning Iran, Syria, and Israel/Palestine. Each is claiming he is doing more to support the same objectives. Isn’t it therefore strange that no similar verbal contest is going on at the moment concerning Afghanistan?

Not so long ago, we were witness to the same Democratic-Republican game about Afghanistan. Which party was the more macho? Remember the concept that a “surge” in troops would win the war, a concept embraced by President Obama in his speech to the U.S. Military Academy in December 2009. Now all of a sudden, since March 2012, it seems to have become a subject no one wants to espouse too loudly.

Attacks on Teachers, Airline Workers, and Public Pensions in Canada Highlight Need for a Fighting Labor Movement

By Roger Annis
April 14, 2012

A trend is taking hold across Canada of working class resistance to the capitalist crisis and attacks by governments and corporations on workers' rights and the social wage. Library workers in the city of Toronto and transit and university workers in Halifax recently went on strike, as did daycare workers in Quebec. Workers at Air Canada have staged a series of protests and strikes in the past year.

Teachers and students in British Columbia recently struck for better education, while in Quebec students are waging a spectacular mass campaign against rises in post-secondary tuition fees. Provincial government workers are restive. Some 300,000 government service workers in British Columbia are bargaining a new collective agreement and saying no to the same wage and services freeze the government is seeking to impose on teachers. The government of Ontario recently delivered a budget that aims to cut billions of dollars in services and thousands of jobs.

Equally noticeable is the lag in organizing the broad solidarity necessary for these struggles to win. This article examines the two sides of a dynamic and unfolding reality.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Canada Deepens Ties with Deadly Regime

Honduran journalist visits Montreal, reaffirms strength of resistance movements

The Dominion
April 13, 2012

In June 2009, Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped by soldiers and taken to Costa Rica in a military airplane. The Honduran army took control of the streets.

Nearly three years later, a popular resistance movement continues to organize against and oppose the coup. Meanwhile, the Canadian government and Canadian companies continue to deepen their ties with the controversial post-Zelaya regime.

The coup in Honduras was more than the kidnapping of a popular, progressive president. The day of the coup, Zelaya was scheduled to oversee a non-binding, nationwide survey on whether people were in favor of holding a binding referendum on re-writing the Honduran constitution. For the first time in history, the opinion of regular Hondurans would have had the potential to dramatically change the future of their country.

Classic book: The Wretched of the Earth

Richard Pithouse on The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon

Red Pepper
April 14, 2012

In 1961 Frantz Fanon dictated most of his last book, Les Damnés de la Terre, translated as The Wretched of the Earth, from a mattress on the floor of a flat in Tunis. He was 36 years old and dying of leukaemia. The disease had recently blinded him for some weeks but he managed to complete the book in ten weeks in a race against death.

Fanon, who was from Martinique in the Caribbean, had ended up Tunisia after he joined the Algerian national liberation movement in 1954. He had joined the Free French Forces fighting the Nazis as a teenager and, as a result, had been able to study medicine in France after the war. He had specialised in psychiatry and had taken a post in a psychiatric hospital in colonial Algeria.

Fanon’s first book, Black Skin, White Masks, was written when he was a student in France and published in 1952. He was 27. It remains an arrestingly original work in which a poetic form of expression and philosophical and literary erudition are woven into a profound and moving examination of the lived experience of racism. From this first book Fanon’s politics were rooted in a radical humanism, with a commitment, in his words, to ‘recognise the open door of every consciousness’. It remains a canonical text in critical race studies and a book that continues to inspire people around the world.

Remembering Bob Ogle

By Dennis Gruending
April 13, 2012

Father Bob Ogle, NDP photo
I was thinking over the Easter weekend of Father Bob Ogle, my late friend and political mentor. It was in April 1998 that he died at age 69 after more than a decade of serious illness. I wrote a brief piece about him for the Lives Lived section of the Globe and Mail and the article appeared in the newspaper on May 25, 1998. I am reproducing it here.

Lives Lived

Father Bob Ogle. Priest, missionary, author, Member of Parliament. Born on Dec. 24, 1928 in Rosetown, Sask. Died of cancer in Saskatoon, April 1, 1998, aged 69.

Father Bob, as he was commonly called, was a renaissance man, if one may so describe a Catholic priest. He was raised on a poor farm during the Great Depression in a devout Irish Catholic family. He studied for the priesthood in London, Ontario, then returned to Saskatoon where he became an energetic parish priest and seminary rector.

Friday, April 13, 2012

There are alternatives to the bankrupt neoliberalism

New Directions in Saskatchewan Public Policy
David McGrane, ed.
Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center Press
University of Regina, 2011. $39.95 paper

Reviewed by John W. Warnock
February 18, 2012

From 1944 through 2007 Saskatchewan politics was dominated by the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and its successor the New Democratic Party (NDP). But the NDP was soundly defeated by the Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party in 2007 and routed in 2011. Today they hold only nine seats in the legislature.

The vote for the NDP fell from 275,000 in 1991 to 169,000 in 2007 and 127,000 in 2011. The party membership has dropped from 46,000 in 1991 to around 8,000 today. The provincial Liberal Party has all but disappeared; in the 2011 election they got fewer votes than the Greens. The Saskatchewan Party received 64% of the popular vote and the NDP only 32%. The NDP may never again form the government in Saskatchewan.

Campaign launched urging activist groups to build 'One Big Campaign'

A Different Point of View

A new campaign urging Canadian social activist groups to work together under one massive umbrella to take on the Harper regime and his right-wing supporters is being born!

The Campaign to build ‘One Big Campaign’ (CBOBC) is being launched on Facebook this week.

The goal of this campaign is to pressure Canada’s more than 15,000 progressive groups, union organizations representing more than 4.5 million members, and grassroots groups such as the Occupy Movement to build a giant, cooperative campaign network.

Frank Sinatra: When Ol’ Blue Eyes Was a Red.

RedWord Books

Everyone knows the story of Frank Sinatra, voice of the 20th century, movie icon and friend of the mafia. Not so many people know the hidden side of Ole Blue Eyes - a man who spoke out against racism and injustice, a man who the FBI wanted to colour a Communist and who raised money for Martin Luther King’s struggle for black civil rights.

Martin Smith looks at Sinatra, his music and his politics and explores his transformation from teen idol to one of the greatest interpreters of popular American music.

Purchase HERE or HERE.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Geopolitics of Speculation: Oil-price makers and takers

By Ali Kadri
Triple Crisis
April 12, 2012

Every market is a process of social and power relationships. In every market there are price makers and price takers. The oil market, however, is no ordinary market, and the struggle to control the oil market, therefore, is no ordinary struggle. With oil being rudimentary to global accumulation and the monetary system remaining in part commodity-based, the degree of control of the oil market translates into some degree of enhanced power in all other markets.

But to control an oil market, the principal player, which is undoubtedly the US, has to develop a strategy of intervention at the source, military or otherwise, which cuts down to size other players. Consequently, the extent to which the US infuses tensions in oil producing areas, calibrates the degree to which oil-states relinquish sovereignty over oil and keeps at bay other major players are measures that represent the collateral necessary to lay the foundation of the oil-dollar standard. This unending power exercise constitutes the cornerstone of the commodity-money or, more concretely, oil-dollar based global monetary system.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Labor Movement and Socialism (1908)

By Anton Pannekoek
International Socialist Review
July 1908

The relation of labor unions to the Socialist movement is in many countries the subject of sharp differences of opinion, even of bitter strife. The situation is by no means everywhere the same. In England, for example, after the break-up of the Chartist political movement in 1848 the union movement increased greatly and became a mighty organization of the workingmen. But this great body of workers remained indifferent to Socialism, or even inimical to it, and the Socialist party remained a small sect. In America the labor movement developed according to the English pattern. In Germany and Belgium, on the contrary, the situation is exactly reversed. There the Socialist party grew mightily in the first place; then the workers, who had learned how to conduct the fight on the political field, began to struggle for better conditions against individual employers. On this account the unions remained in these countries closely connected with the Socialist party; in Belgium, in fact, they are an organic part of the Socialist movement. Here they are, however, comparatively weak, and it is to be expected that as they increase in strength they will make themselves more independent.

This division is imposed by the different objects of the political and labor union struggles. The Socialist party holds to a great and far-reaching purpose; a purpose not immediately understood by everyone; a purpose which, in fact, is often misunderstood and therefore has to meet opposition, prejudice and hatred which can be overcome only through extended educational propaganda. The objective of the unions, on the other hand, is an immediate one, the securing of higher wages and shorter hours. This is instantly intelligible to everyone; does not demand deep convictions, but appeals rather to immediate interest. On this account quite undeveloped workers must not be hindered from joining the unions because of their prejudice against a world-overturning force like Socialism. As soon as the unions attempt to take in the great mass of the workers they must be absolutely independent. Of course a friendly relation to the Socialist party can still be maintained.

Read more HERE.

Mass Privatization Put Former Communist Countries on Road to Bankruptcy, Corruption

April 11th 2012

Bulgarian Communist Party HQ, decaying and defaced

A new analysis showing how policies advocated by western economists helped to bankrupt Russia and other former Soviet countries after the Cold War has been released by researchers. Authored by sociologists at the University of Cambridge and Harvard University, the study, which appears in the April issue of the American Sociological Review, is the first to trace a direct link between the mass privatization programs adopted by several former Soviet states, and the economic failure and corruption that followed.

Devised principally by western economists, mass privatization was a radical policy to rapidly privatize large parts of the economies of countries such as Russia during the early 1990s. The policy was pushed heavily by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Its aim was to guarantee a swift transition to capitalism, before Soviet sympathizers could seize back the reins of power. Instead of the predicted economic boom, what followed in many ex-Communist countries was a severe recession, on par with the Great Depression of the United States and Europe in the 1930s.

Broader horizons: Are the emerging forms of resistance up to the challenge?

By Mike Marqusee
Red Pepper
April 11, 2012

The past year has been hailed in the media as one of ‘protest’ in the abstract, but it’s been more challenging and concrete than that. In defiance of received political wisdom, mass action in the streets returned with undeniable impact. Contests over space and the public domain became vehicles for the assertion of radical alternatives, which thereby forced their way into a discussion long restricted to a narrow consensus.

In Europe and North America, this democratic insurgency sought to free democracy itself from the straitjacket imposed by neoliberalism, which has deepened the historic tendency of capitalism to confine ‘politics’ to the non-economic realm. Raising the banner of the 99 per cent, the Occupy movement (with associated developments) broke through 30 years of neoliberal ideological hegemony to make the system itself – and the interests that drive it – the subject of debate.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

That’s a wrap? Killing Saskatchewan's film tax credit is economic nonsense

By Craig Silliphant
Art Threat
April 10, 2012

The cast from InSecurity.
The cast from InSecurity. The TV show will no longer be produced in Saskatchewan.
With the announcement of the axing of the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit, we are effectively telling the rest of the film-producing world that Saskatchewan is closed for business. It’s a commonly known fact that film productions will not so much as consider a location that doesn’t have a tax credit program in place. In fact, even the ubiquitous Hollywood movie The Hunger Games, which made $155 million in its opening weekend, utilized a tax credit from North Carolina.
Being a movie lover, and writer / broadcaster in the province who is often identified with film, this makes me want to vomit with rage. I’d probably be working at 7-11 if not for the Saskatchewan film industry, which gave me my start and taught me how both the art and the business of how films work. This, in turn, helped my writing appear in places like The National Post.

New science reveals agriculture’s true climate impact

By Tom Laskawy
The Grist
April 10, 2012
Photo by T.P. Martins.
When I examined the reasons agriculture often gets a pass in climate negotiations recently, I pointed to the fact that precise measurement of the climate impact of many industrial farming practices remains difficult and controversial. This is especially true when it comes to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

The effect of excess fertilizer on our waterways gets much more attention than it does when it enters the air. And for good reason. It’s toxic to consume nitrates in your drinking water. We’re learning that agricultural overuse of fertilizer has contaminated the drinking water of whole regions of California. Meanwhile, nitrogen that runs into the ocean causes oxygen-depleted “dead zones” around the world. The dead zone in our own Gulf Of Mexico (measured every summer) keeps getting larger — last year’s was the size of New Jersey.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fidel Castro on Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper’s Illusions

I think -and I do not intend to offend anyone- that this is how the Prime Minister of Canada is called. I deduced it from a statement published on “Holy Wednesday” by a spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry of that country. The United Nations Organization membership is made up by almost 200 States -allegedly independent States. They continuously change or are forced into change. Many of their representatives are honorable persons, friends of Cuba; but it is impossible to remember the specifics about each and every one of them.

During the second half of the twentieth century, I had the privilege of living through years of intensive erudition and I realized that Canadians, located in the northernmost region of this hemisphere, were always respectful towards our country. They invested in areas of their interest and traded with Cuba, but they did not interfere in the internal affairs of our State.

Genetically Modified Wheat To Be Introduced Into The Food Chain

By Terry Wilson
Canadian Awareness Network
April 9, 2012

In the fall/winter of 2011 the debate over scraping the Canadian Wheat Board was in full tilt. The Conservative government seemed to be hell bent on getting rid of it. Regardless of the farmers voting in favor of keeping the wheat board by over 70%. 

By early 2012 the bill to abolish the Canadian Wheat Board achieved Royal assent.

The about us section on the CWB’s websites explains that:

“Controlled by western Canadian farmers, the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) is the largest wheat and barley marketer in the world. One of Canada’s biggest exporters, the Winnipeg-based organization sells grain to over 70 countries and returns all sales revenue, less marketing costs, directly to Prairie farmers.” In essence the CWB was a board controlled by farmers. It was created to protect them, and ensure that they could stay in business.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fred Schofield - A Pioneer Communist in Saskatchewan

By Cathy Fischer
Focus on Socialism

From 1953 to 1963 the citizens of Rural Municipality #137, in southwest Saskatchewan, were represented in the provincial legislature by a member of the CCF. For those same ten years they chose for their representative in the federal government a member of the Liberal or Conservative Party. And at the same time, they elected as their R.M. councillor a well known Communist, Fred Schofield. Such an anomaly was not as strange as it might seem. Fred Schofield was recognized as a person genuinely interested in striving for a better life for his community.

Fred and his wife Fay farmed for many years near the village of Beverly, just west of Swift Current. But they were not just farmers. They were well integrated in their community, they were acquainted with the hardships suffered by farmers in the Dirty Thirties, and they looked on farming not only as a means to make a living, but as an essential element in the makeup of the country and the basic requirement for feeding its people. They were active in the many organizations through which farmers tried to improve their standard of living, and to thwart the efforts of the grain companies to turn the family farm into corporate farming.

Saskatchewan Peace News

Regina Peace Council

Howard Pawley Reviewed

Pawley, Howard. 2011. Keep True: A Life In Politics. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Reviewed by Errol Black
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - Manitoba
Socialist Studies / Études socialistes 8 (1) Winter 2012

Howard Pawley, the premier of Manitoba from 1981 to 1988, has written an interesting and important book documenting his life as a politician of the left during an era which saw the rise of the New Right and neoconservatism in Canada. Along with the insights we get into Pawley’s character, we learn much about the New Democratic Party (NDP) as Manitoba’s dominant political party. 285

Pawley joined the Manitoba Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1954, and in 1957, at the age of 22, became both organizer and party president. Early on, he characterized himself as a democratic socialist and activist. Notably, he challenged changes in party policy and direction that he thought detrimental to the party’s development and future. He opposed the Winnipeg Declaration of 1956 on the grounds that it was “a watering-down of the anti-capitalist principles of the Regina Manifesto” (13) and the formation of a new party because he feared domination by organized labour would compromise the movement.

SK Budget: Where’s the Inter-governmental Love?

By Erin Weir 
Progressive Economics Forum
April 7th, 2012

A hallmark of Brad Wall’s premiership has been cosy relations with municipal governments and the two westernmost provincial governments. Since taking office, the Sask. Party has been throwing money at municipalities. It pledged not to sign the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement with Alberta and BC, but then did so through the New West Partnership.

A couple of tax changes from the recent Saskatchewan budget are worth examining through this prism of intergovernmental relations. Much has already been written about Wall’s bizarre decision to axe the Film Employment Tax Credit and partial climb-down.

Despite the inconsistency of zeroing in on this one relatively inexpensive measure amid the province’s myriad of other tax expenditures and business subsidies, the Sask. Party had a point. The main rationale for continuing the Film Employment Tax Credit is that every other competing jurisdiction offers similar credits.

The Labour Reporter, May 2012

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour

On Political Economy and Political Theory

By Herb Gamberg

Jean Paul Sartre in the fifties made the somber remark that things were so bad at the Sorbonne in the 1920s that the University did not even have a Chair in Marxism. In asserting the fact at that time, he was of course assuming that things at mid-century had changed dramatically and that Marxism had become a vital intellectual force in French universities. Sartre in Europe could not perhaps imagine how curious his remarks sound in American context. If one reads Thorstein Veblen's account of United States universities early in the 20th century (The Higher Learning in America) or Upton Sinclair's Goosestep about them in the 1920s, then Sartre's headshaking about French universities appears in a different light. For Veblen and Sinclair suggest not only the absence of Marxism but the absence of any critical thought as well. Sinclair soundly demonstrates that American universities were run directly by a "plutocracy" which hired, fired, and terrorized all faculty who showed even the slightest deviation from establishment thought. The idea that Marxism might be taught in these institutions would be tragically laughable.

Except for an upsurge of Marxist thought and action during the Depression (and this upsurge was pronounced, as would be expected, almost exclusively outside universities), this abysmal state of affairs endured well into the sixties in the United States and Canada. The lowest ebb perhaps is indicated in the fifties by Paul Baran's remark that all the Marxist economists in the United States could be put into a taxicab. When I was a graduate student in sociology in the fifties, Marx was not read and, if mentioned in class, was alluded to as an interesting, but better forgotten, wrong-headed thinker. His work was at best one of the outmoded "classics." Even C. Wright Mills, who was radical but non-Marxist, was rejected as unprofessional and unscientific, seldom assigned in class, and only read in private by some students.

Read more HERE.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pete Seeger: Where Have All the Protest Songs Gone?

Now 92 years old, the legendary folk singer recalls his pioneering days touring college campuses and discusses his favorite songs

By Aviva Shen
Smithsonian magazine
April 2012

In March of 1960, at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, a campus radio station recorded a Pete Seeger concert. The eight reel-to-reel tapes made that night have now been recast into a 2-CD set, due out April 17 from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. In The Complete Bowdoin College Concert 1960, the first-ever complete release of one of his community concerts, Seeger performs early versions of songs that would, in just a few years, captivate the entire nation, including anti-war ballad “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Pete Seeger reflects on his legacy in a discussion with the magazine’s Aviva Shen.

Tell me about how you got started doing college concerts?

I think it was 1953. I was singing for $25 a day for a small private school in New York City. And I was keeping body and soul together with $25 a week; maybe I’d make another $25 on the weekend. But then some students from Oberlin asked me to come out. They said, we’ve got the basement of the art department and we think if we pass the hat, we’ll make $200, so you’ll be able to pay for the bus trip out. So I took a bus out to Cleveland and they picked me up, and sure enough we made more than that passing the hat. The next year I sang in the chapel for 500 people and I got $500. And the year after that, I sang in the auditorium, which had 1000 people and I got paid $1000. So that was when I started going from college to college to college.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What a Wildrose Victory May Mean for Saskatchewan

By Simon Enoch
Saskatchewan Office, CCPA
April 4, 2012

If recent polling is to be believed, Alberta’s ultra-conservative Wildrose Party looks poised to capture an electoral majority in the upcoming provincial election only a few years after its creation.

While we could just chalk this up to Alberta’s peculiar penchant for right-wing populism within it’s unique political culture and shrug our shoulders, we would make a grave mistake if we were to believe that Alberta’s choice in the next election only effects Albertans. For Saskatchewan, a Wildrose victory has the very real potential to significantly accelerate the implementation of neoliberal economic policy and a de-regulatory regime that has been the hallmark of the Brad Wall government.

By way of understanding the potential impact of a Wildrose victory for Saskatchewan, let’s take a look at the actual policies that Wildrose would hope to implement should they emerge victorious in the upcoming election.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Canada's Austerity Budget Wonderland

By Dave Broad
Monthly Review
February 2, 2012

Canada's federal and provincial governments are falling in with other Western countries in delivering austerity budgets that foist costs of the global capitalist crisis onto the backs of workers and the poor.  Canada's federal government is trying to package its latest austerity budget as something that must be done to reduce government debts and deficits but really won't hurt too bad.  Listening to the spin put on this is much like a trip through Alice's surreal Wonderland.1

Before Canada's federal budget was released, Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tried to reassure Canadians that his government was out to create jobs and sustainable social programs, and that job and program cuts would be "moderate."2  The March 29, 2012 budget announcement itself was that $5.2 billion per year would be cut from federal programs, and 19,200 federal jobs would be slashed over three years, along with further cuts and privatization of public programs over the longer term.  Minister Flaherty still asserts that his budget cuts are "modest" and not "draconian."3  He obviously shares with Humpty Dumpty the notion that a word can mean whatever he wants it to.  While doing the opposite of what most people want and need, the Tories are trying to convince us that what they are doing is in everyone's best interests.

Vittera Kills Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Legacy

By Dennis Gruending
April 1, 2012

SWP elevator ( 
Farmers fought long and hard to create the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in 1924, but 88 years later the company, now known as Viterra, is being sold to a Swiss-based multinational called Glencore for $6.1 billion.

This is a sad story, a kind of morality tale about the gradual destruction of self-help, local initiative, community control and co-operation. With a few exceptions, there has been virtually no critical media analysis of this event that looks at it from the bottom up. So, as someone who grew up in a small prairie village where the Wheat Pool elevator and the local Pool committee were fixtures, let me offer some observations. I’ll begin with an anecdote.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Can a Mulcair-led NDP mobilize majority realignment?

By Jim Harding
No Nukes
March 30, 2012

Thomas Mulcair is the NDP’s seventh leader since its 1961 founding. He will build upon the huge void left by the death of Jack Layton. Mulcair led from the start and continued to lead as the other six candidates dropped off. He won 57% on the final ballot against Layton’s past national campaign director, Brian Topp.

I followed the leadership race as a sympathetic non-member. I was intensely involved in CCF-NDP politics in my youth and, being Saskatchewan born-and-raised, had the chance to see NDP governance up close. I was already becoming concerned about the gap between progressive rhetoric and actual governance when I attended the NDP founding convention 50 years ago. Though I took one run at parliament in a 1964 Saskatoon by-election, I steadily moved towards non-partisan community-based activism.