Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013

Retro Waffle: "For a Socialist New Brunswick":

The New Brunswick Waffle, 1967-1972

Patrick Webber
University of New Brunswick


In 1970, several members of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party (NDP) formed a New Left/Trotskyist group within the party known as the New Brunswick Waffle. The NB Waffle gained significant strength within the NB NDP, eventually securing a victory for its radical manifesto, "For a Socialist New Brunswick," at a party convention in September 1971. A dispute, however, erupted over the legality of this victory, which led to a two-month split within the party that required intervention on the part of the federal NDP. By the end of 1971 the NB Waffle had itself fractured and collapsed.

THE POLITICAL FERMENT OF THE late-1960s and early-1970s was global in scope, and New Brunswick was not exempt from the radicalism of the era. The New Brunswick Waffle was a group that represented one of the more prominent and significant manifestations of leftist radicalism in the province during the period, and it served as a catalyst for some of the most dramatic events in the province’s political history. The group was a New Brunswick variation on Canadian, continental, and global political trends of the time and sought to introduce New Left and radical socialist critiques to the specific circumstances of New Brunswick; it also fused the Old Left and New Left in the province for the first time.

During its short lifespan (1970-71), the NB Waffle also managed to precipitate a split within the New Brunswick New Democratic Party (NDP) that had a host of ripple effects on the province’s leftist community as well as anticipating several trends that would emerge on New Brunswick’s political scene during the 1970s such as increased environmental concerns and skepticism about prevalent economic development schemes. Finally, the group made a small but important contribution to the province’s leftist community via generating awareness about the New Left within the provincial NDP. Until recently, however, the NB Waffle has been neglected as a topic of historical inquiry, as almost all of the previous work on the Waffle has focused on the organization in Ontario with some mention of the Waffle in Saskatchewan.

Read the full article HERE.

Building Workers’ Power: ITUC May Day statement 2013

International Trade Union Confederation
29 April 2013

Working people are facing sustained and often brutal attacks on their rights in every region of the world. Inequality and unemployment are hitting record levels, as governments continue to follow the failed and destructive policy of austerity-at-any-cost, and the onslaught against collective bargaining continues. The future of an entire generation of young people is at serious risk.

Corporate greed runs unchecked, costing the lives of thousands of workers, most recently in Bangladesh and Pakistan as factories burn and collapse. Trade unionists in Colombia, Guatemala and elsewhere are paying the ultimate price for their commitment to social justice, while Turkish workers face the heavy hand of judicial repression for standing up for their rights.

The promise of transformation in the Arab world is being betrayed by the replacement of one form of autocracy by another. Decades of social progress in European countries are being wiped out by the untrammelled power of global finance, while people across Africa continue to suffer under neocolonial plunder and corruption.

Discrimination against women at work is still pervasive, while migrant workers are exploited, abused and treated as slaves, even in some of the richest countries of the world.

The spirit of solidarity that inspired the first May Day marches, and has sustained trade unionism ever since, remains strong. It is more needed than at any time in decades. Our movement must grow, to foster and harness that spirit to counter the false promise of neo-liberalism.

We must build workers’ power.

Workers everywhere are showing their resilience in the face of model of globalisation designed to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. Through their unions they are winning new gains for working people. Hundreds thousands of informal workers in India are building their unions, domestic workers across the globe are gaining labour rights for the first time in history, and unions are leading political and community action for development, sustainability and social justice in every part of the world.
Where governments turn their backs on working people, unions must organise.

Where company bosses pit worker against worker, unions must organise. We must grow in number and in strength, taking inspiration from those who stand today, and have stood in years gone by, steadfast against repression and the avarice of the few at the expense of the many.

This May Day 2013, we must rededicate ourselves to the enduring vision of the foremothers and forefathers of the greatest democratic power on the planet – the power of working people, united and determined to make the world a better place.

May Day Regina!

Saskatchewan: A Beachhead of Labour Law Reform?

By Andrew Stevens
April 29,2013

Sweeping changes to Saskatchewan's labour relations and employment standards legislation are on the verge of being passed. Bill 85, the Saskatchewan Employment Act, will dramatically transform the laws governing trade unions and industrial relations in the province. The Saskatchewan Party government, led by Premier
Brad Wall, insists that the changes will simply modernize and simplify a dozen pieces of existing legislation into a single, omnibus employment act.

 But workers and trade unions are justified in thinking otherwise. In 1998, Saskatchewan's current Minister of the Economy, Bill Boyd, unsuccessfully attempted to pass Bill 218, “An Act respecting the Right to Work (RTW) in the Province of Saskatchewan,” while the Saskatchewan Party was in opposition.[1] In fact, debates over right-to-work style reforms and union financial transparency have already been contested in Saskatchewan as Bill 85 developed. But why is Saskatchewan, a prairie province with just over a million residents, so important in the national context?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Regina May Day Rally

SFL: Saskatchewan people have a constitutional right to strike

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
April 26, 2013

Accordingly, none of what I have written above is to suggest or presume that, if again confronted directly with the issue, the Supreme Court would not bring strike activity within the ambit of s. 2(d). Such a conclusion can certainly be reached…
- Court of Appeal, paragraph 67

Earlier this morning, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal released an important decision recognizing that Canadian law has evolved to a point where a right to strike may be protected by the Constitution. At numerous points, the Court of Appeal notes that, though it could not overturn previous Supreme Court decisions respecting a right to strike, striking could very well be a fundamental right protected by the freedom of association.

“Though we certainly hoped for a decision that was more in line with the Justice Ball decision,” said Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President, Larry Hubich “we note that the Court acknowledged just how much the law has and continues to evolve. The Court of Appeal noted that the Supreme Court may very well accept that there is a Constitutional right to strike.”

Though the Court of Appeal stopped short of striking down the 2008 legislation, it made several important observations. The Court notes, for example, that the effect of the legislation is to make it significantly more difficult for working people to organize themselves into unions and other organizations. Furthermore, it notes that, though the Supreme Court will have to make the final determination, Justice Ball was anticipating where the law could evolve.

“Working people and their unions have a responsibility to challenge laws that unfairly constrain people’s rights. This is how the law evolves. Though the Court of Appeal decision does not strike down the 2008 legislation, it recognizes that Charter rights are constantly evolving,” said Hubich.

Bush Library: Brazen attempt to rewrite history

APRIL 26, 2013

With a price tag of $250 million, the George W. Bush library is the biggest and most expensive of the 13 that have been opened to recognize the former presidents.

It is a major part of a well-orchestrated campaign underway for months now to whitewash what was very likely the worst presidency in the history of the United States. We don't believe the campaign will succeed , however, because the memories of the American people are not short enough for that to happen.

The theme of the new "library" is not George Bush, the failed president, but George Bush the "statesman" who had to make a lot of "decisions." Laura Bush showed the press yesterday how visitors will be able to enter an "interactive decision making room" where they can participate with the former president in making the many decisions he so bravely made.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Justin Trudeau, the boy king

APRIL 22, 2013

There is no accounting for political judgement when it gets caught up in irrational euphoria. The overwhelming victory of Justin Trudeau in the Liberal Party's leadership race demonstrates just how impoverished the state of our political culture has become.

Did the polls -- almost completely meaningless at this stage of the political process -- so addle people's judgement that they could not see what was in front of them? In a stunning failure of imagination 80 per cent of those casting ballots effectively declared: we think a pretty face and a famous name is all we need to win and more importantly, all the country needs to lead it.

Justin Trudeau is allegedly forty years old but his persona is one of a perpetual adolescent who can't be taken seriously because he doesn't take the world seriously. He's spent his life avoiding anything truly challenging and seems addicted to having a good time -- to the exclusion of disciplined political work. His intellectual capacity, whatever it was, is now so atrophied that it seems clear he rarely engages on his own in serious analysis or thoughtful consideration of important political and philosophical questions.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Growing Resistance: Canadian Farmers and the Politics of Genetically Modified Wheat

Emily Eaton (Author)
University of Manitoba Press
Purchase book HERE.

In 2004 Canadian farmers led an international coalition to a major victory for the anti-GM movement by defeating the introduction of Monsanto’s genetically modified wheat. 

Canadian farmers’ strong opposition to GM wheat marked a stark contrast to previous producer acceptance of other genetically modified crops. By 2005, for example, GM canola accounted for 78% of all canola grown nationally. So why did farmers stand up for wheat?

In Growing Resistance, Emily Eaton reveals the motivating factors behind farmer opposition to GM wheat. She illustrates wheat’s cultural, historical, and political significance on the Canadian prairies as well as its role in crop rotation, seed saving practices, and the economic livelihoods of prairie farmers.

Through interviews with producers, industry organizations, and biochemical companies, Eaton demonstrates how the inclusion of producer interests was integral to the coalition’s success in voicing concerns about environmental implications, international market opposition to GMOs, and the lack of transparency and democracy in Canadian biotech policy and regulation.

Growing Resistance is a fascinating study of successful coalition building, of the need to balance local and global concerns in activist movements, and of the powerful forces vying for control of food production.


“This is a unique and important work. The preponderance of discussion on GM resistance has focused on consumer/health, environmental and economic issues. This work, by focusing on farmers’ perspectives, is exploring new territory, opening questions, giving insights into a different kind and level of thought and argument in the field.”

– Nettie Wiebe, Department of Church and Society, St. Andrew’s College, University of Saskatchewan, and former president of the National Farmers’ Union


Emily Eaton is an assistant professor of geography at the University of Regina specializing in political economy and natural resource economies. She is also active in a variety of social justice struggles.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Saskatchewan prepares to gut labour laws with Bill 85

By Lori Theresa Waller
April 18, 2013

Saskatchewan is about to dramatically overhaul its labour legislation, transforming it from one of the most progressive jurisdictions in Canada in terms of worker protection to one of the most regressive. You wouldn't know it, though, from reading mainstream news coverage.

The national media's near-total silence on the soon-to-be adopted Saskatchewan Employment Act, now being sped through the legislature as Bill 85 by the ruling Saskatchewan Party, is a bit puzzling given the unprecedented nature of many of the bill's reforms.

One exception was an article published last week by the Huffington Post [8] that focused on what the law will mean for unionized workers. The impact on those workers will, undoubtedly, be dramatic.

For instance, a new rule barring employees with any supervisory duties (including assigning or scheduling work or giving performance feedback) from belonging to the same bargaining unit as the people they "supervise" -- unless the employer and union agree to keep them in the same unit -- means employers will be able to push many workers out of their current units, potentially costing them years of seniority and other entitlements.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Community Pastures: History and Drama of a Prairie Commons

SaskNotes: PFRA Community Pastures: History and Drama of a Prairie Commons

By Katherine Arbuthnott, Josef K. Schmutz
CCPA, Saskatchewan Office
April 16, 2013
Download Here (pdf)


Once the victim of hasty prairie settlement, the PFRA Community Pastures became grassland jewels through belated foresight and science-based planning. The termination of this world-class program was embedded in omnibus bill C-38, with ownership of the land returned to the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan government’s plan is to sell or lease the 62 individual pastures, privatizing these important public commons.

While the intention to sell only to farmer/rancher groups protects cattle production benefits, it risks important public benefits including carbon sequestration, air and water purification, drought prevention, and endangered species habitat. These public benefits are reliant on professional range management, which is absent from the current plan. The loss of knowledge about these fragile ecosystems held by PFRA managers is particularly significant as the prairies adapt to climate change. 

This article reviews the history of the PFRA and the multiple benefits of the community pastures, and presents an alternate strategy to management that is emerging among concerned Saskatchewan citizens.

About the Authors:
Katherine Arbuthnott is a conservation psychologist at Campion College, University of Regina.
Josef Schmutz is a conservation biologist at University of Saskatchewan.

Does the Iron Lady's Legacy Reach as Far as Saskatchewan?

April 16, 2013

Margaret Thatcher’s death sparked widespread debate about her legacy. Partisan supporters credit Thatcher with everything from “saving Britain”, British P.M. Cameron’s phrase, to ending the Cold War to overturning the welfare state. These grandiose claims, perhaps made when grieving and celebration get confused, require some comment. Thatcher’s politics were part of a major shift towards corporate globalization, which affects us all to this day, including in Saskatchewan. What were the outcomes for social harmony and ecological sustainability?

There’s no disagreement about what motivated “the iron lady”. Lord Saatchi, Thatcher’s ad man for three terms and past Conservative Party Chair, was clear that Thatcher wanted to make Britain “great again”. She espoused the ideology of a grocer’s daughter, that society worked best with a free market, small government and low taxes. But this didn’t work in the interest of small business, but rather as a justification for reducing the power of unions, privatizing nationalized enterprise, scrapping social, health and housing programs and deregulating the financial market. In spite of the rhetoric that “small is better” it was the large corporations and banks aggressively pursuing lucrative global markets that mostly benefitted from Thatcher’s iron political will.

Monday, April 15, 2013

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

By Murray Cooke
15 April 2013

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

Any expectations (or hopes) for a divisive, soul-searching, battle royale over the identity of the NDP fell flat. With minimal debate and a decisive vote of 960 to 188, delegates approved a new preamble to the party's constitution based in part on Jack Layton's final message to Canadians and removed forward looking references to "democratic socialism" and "social ownership." Instead, the new preamble lists the "social democratic and democratic socialist traditions" as part of the party's heritage and calls for "a rules based economy" (for both the old and new preambles, see the end of this article).

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Canada’s Love Affair with Monarchy — Any Monarchy

By Yves Engler
April 11th, 2013

The current Canadian government has a thing for monarchy. In fact the Conservatives seem to like it better than democracy.

First it seemed quirky and quaint when they ordered portraits of Queen Elizabeth II to be put up in Canada’s overseas missions and promoted British royal visits. Then it got a little embarrassing when they reinstated “Royal” to the Canadian Air Force and the Navy’s official name.

But since the “Arab Spring” democracy struggles that began in 2011 Stephen Harper’s government has gotten down right scary, apparently supporting the divine right of kings over rule by the people.

Federal NDP meets in Montréal – another missed opportunity?

Life on the Left
April 11, 2013

The federal convention of the New Democratic Party, the Official Opposition in Canada’s parliament, opens on Friday, April 12, in Montréal.

Although a majority of the party’s MPs (now 57 out of a total of 101) represent Quebec constituencies, its leader Thomas Mulcair is from Quebec, and the convention is meeting in Quebec’s metropolis, the draft Agendaindicates that little time has been set aside for debating the party’s approach to Quebec. The 122-
page book of resolutions proposed by constituency associations, affiliated trade unions and party leadership bodies contains very little addressed to the national question.

This is unfortunate, as there is much the party members need to discuss — ranging from a new look at its existing position on the Quebec national question (the “Sherbrooke Declaration”) to Mulcair’s stated support for building a Quebec “provincial” NDP that would compete electorally with the pro-independence Quebec solidaire.

Monday, April 8, 2013

RCMP spied on Tommy Douglas

By Dennis Gruending 
April 7, 2013

The RCMP security service spied on Tommy Douglas, the former Saskatchewan premier and federal NDP leaders from the 1930s until shortly before his death the 1980s. We know this only because Jim Bronskill, an Ottawa-based Canadian Press journalist, has waged a long battle with the federal government and its agencies beginning in 2005 to make public the files on Douglas which are being held in the vaults at Library and Archives Canada.

Bronskill used Access to Information requests and subsequent court cases to pry loose about 700 pages of the 1,147 page file that the RCMP accumulated. A good portion of the material in those 700 pages has been blacked out and it has also come to light that some material was destroyed. The federal government and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which inherited the files from the RCMP, has fought Bronskill every step of the way. They have argued that the files must remain secret to protect the names of sources and the RCMP’s methods of spying. This seems rather odd because Douglas died in 1986. The police last spied on him about 30 years ago and much of the material in the files goes back as far as 80 years.

Margaret Thatcher Obit

Lots of good articles on Thatcher's demise. Here is one from Mother Jones. I will just add some images. - NYC

Glasgow, Scotland: People celebrate the death of reactionary Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of Britain, April 8, 2013.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Billy Bragg in Regina next Tuesday

Billy Bragg : Tuesday April 9 2013 in the The Orr Centre, 4400 4th Avenue, Regina

Regina Folk Festival Concert Series 2013

Billy Bragg
April 9th; 
Doors open 7:30pm. 
The Orr Centre

Billy Bragg was recently described by The Times newspaper as a “national treasure.” In the two decades of his career Bragg has certainly made an indelible mark on the conscience of British music, becoming perhaps the most stalwart guardian of the radical dissenting tradition that stretches back over centuries of the country’s political, cultural and social history.

 It’s a legacy that’s brought Bragg fans the world over as an artist with a keen sense of political activism as well as a way with a pop hook, all informed with a sense of humanity and humour. All Ages. Advance tickets $32/40 at the door (subject to availability). No exchanges or refunds. Handling fees not included in ticket price (for Globe Theatre purchases only).

Socialism is Practical Christianity

Written for the People's National Party—P.N.P. of Jamaica, 1965

Is this true? Listen to the words of Jesus and decide for yourselves whether Socialism is Practical Christianity.


"all ye are brethren." (Matthew"23;8)

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."(Matthew: 22; 39)

"All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (Matthew: 7; 12)

"Let everyone who possesses two shirts share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise." (Luke: 3; 11)

"Give to every man that asketh of thee." (Luke: 6; 30)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Class Conflict and Civil Liberties: The Origins and Activities of the Canadian Labour Defense League, 1925 - 1940

By J. Petryshyn
Labour/Le Travailleur
Autumn 1982

DURING ITS EXISTENCE from 1925 to 1940, the Canadian Labour Defense League (CLDL) was subject to a wide range of interpretation. Some viewed it as a diabolical bolshevik organization designed to create dissension within Canadian society. To others, it was a humanitarian agency which sought to relieve those who had found themselves in intolerable conditions. Led by Albert Edward Smith! a methodist minister turned communist, the CLDL rose in prominence (or notoriety) during the worst years of the depression, promoting communist policies, agitating on behalf of the Communist Party of Canada (CPC), and defending before the courts over 6,000 individuals - communists and non-communists alike - who had run astray of the law because of their militant activities. 

The CLDL was especially effective after the arrest and conviction of Tim Buck and seven other communist leaders in 1931 under the controversial Section 98 of the Criminal Code. Skillfully intertwining communism with the defense of civil liberties in Canada, the CLDL launched a series of protest campaigns which not only brought the organization a substantial following but also had a significant impact on the country's political leaders.

This paper will reconstruct the origins and activities of the CLDL and assess its role in the turbulent and violent interwar years.

Read HERE. (pdf)

Click image above to enlarge.

Anarchists on the Prairies

 Came across this while surfing the web - NYC

Prairie Struggle
Anarchist Communist Organization of the Prairies

The creation of Prairie Struggle Organization, its politics and its goals.

Dear comrades, in the last 5 months, some anarchists from Regina have been engaged in the difficult process of creating a revolutionary anarchist organization and debating its political influences.

 As a result of these meetings and debates, we are proud to finally announce the existence of Prairie Struggle Organization based in Regina.

To hopefully start a dialogue with anarchists in the west of Canada and beyond, we feel it important to let you know why anarchist politics in Regina are taking this direction.

Read more HERE.

Click image above for more.