Friday, November 22, 2013

James McCrorie Obituary


What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an' a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

- Robbie Burns

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of James Napier McCrorie on November 17, 2013. Jim (though always James to his mother) was born in Montreal Quebec in 1936 to Thomas and Margaret McCrorie, immigrants from Scotland. Jim is survived by his beloved wife and best friend Elaine (nee Cameron), and his children and their spouses whom he loved: Ian, Ann (Alistair Mackenzie), and Aaron (Carmen Abela). Jim was the very proud and loving grandfather of Nicole, Liam, Jenna, Kennedy. Reuben and Keira. An only child, he gained a clan-ful of siblings through the Camerons of Moore Park Manitoba - Don and Joyce Cameron, Niel and Marianne Cameron, Jean and Leo Kristjanson, Hector and Leonora Cameron. He is fondly remembered by all his nieces, nephews, dear friends and comrades of all ages and those who have described him as a second father. 

Growing up in Montreal, Jim learned to speak joual and remained proud throughout his life of his ability to speak the working man's French. He became a life long fan of the Habs and taught us all that Maurice "the Rocket" Richard was the greatest hockey player ever. Montreal remained dear to his heart throughout his life. Growing up he also learned to play the piano, and while he regretted that lessons and practice kept him from mischief with his pals, we all appreciated the magic his playing brought to many occasions.

All who knew Jim, will remember his love of the sea and trains. He came by it honestly - sailing across the Atlantic to visit his "ain falk" in Ayrshire at 16, working in the dining cars for CP Rail after high school and proudly serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. Throughout his life Jim would take the train while others would fly or drive and he had just booked his next big trip, Ottawa to Melville, when he passed away. 

Jim studied sociology at McGill University and got his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The opportunity to work with the Saskatchewan Farmers Union brought this city boy to the prairies which he came to love and provided the subject of his doctoral thesis - "In Union is Strength". It was while working in Saskatoon that Jim's friend and colleague Leo Kristjanson introduced him to Elaine Cameron. She eventually forgave Leo and married Jim in 1964 with a memorable reception at the Wright farm south of Saskatoon. Thanks to their love for each other (and Elaine's patience) they enjoyed almost 50 years of happy marriage. 

The chance to help build a new and teaching-centric program brought Jim to the newly established University of Regina in 1965. It was in Regina that Jim and Elaine raised their family - with two memorable yearlong sojourns in Scotland. As a father Jim instilled an appreciation of honest hard work, love of life and family and a social conscience in his children. And while life was busy he always found time to watch the kids play hockey, volleyball or football. The outcome did not matter, it was the effort that mattered. And as a grandfather Jim continued to teach these lessons and adored spending time with all of his grandchildren.

Jim combined a love of teaching and academia with the passion and conviction to change the world. For Jim, social activism and teaching were inseparable efforts to make the world a better, more socially and economically just place. There were victories and defeats, but the progressive struggle continued – in the classroom, through distance education and on the NDP convention floor. And where Jim wasn't active, those he taught and mentored were. 

As an academic, Jim took a particular interest in the social effects of North Sea oil development, the life and career of Scotland's Roderick MacFarquar ("The Highland Cause") and the experience of Canada's Spanish Civil War vets. Jim was among those who played a leading role in establishing the Spanish Civil War memorial in Ottawa. 

In the 1980's, Jim took a break from teaching and became Director of the Canadian Plains Research Center. The job combined his deep love of the prairies with the opportunity to continue learning and teaching by reaching out to similar social and ecological regions as far flung as Nebraska and Kazakhstan. Jim finally retired in 1996, but remained active intellectually ("The Man in the Green Truck"), politically and socially. 

Jim loved to talk with, not to, everyone. No matter where you came from, what you did, or how old you were he wanted to hear your story and learn from you. And while he was passionate in his convictions, he was respectful of those who viewed the world differently. Red-Clyde Marxists, Spanish Civil War vets, musicians, wary teenagers and former Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers were all welcome at the McCrorie dinner table. 

Jim loved to tell stories, sometimes more than once. And he had a great sense of mischief and fun. Supper time, hogmanay, the Brigadier's lunch, family reunions, visits and all those other occasions that Jim loved so much will sadly be a touch more sedate without his stories, gentle jokes and infectious laugh. 

We loved Jim and he will be missed. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Dr. Paul Schwann Centre's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Chronic Disease Prevention, Management and Risk Reduction Program at the University of Regina (3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, SK S4S 0A2) or the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (500-251 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON K2P 1X3).

Family and friends are invited to sign the online obituary and tributes page at Arrangements entrusted to - See more at:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

James N. McCrorie: 1936 - 2013

Remembering Jim McCrorie

It was a very sad moment to hear of Jim’s passing.

Jim was truly a mentor to all of us who had the privilege of being his friend through his life.

As young students he taught us what radical sociology and critical thinking were all about. Jim reflected the struggles of people from the crofters of Scotland, to the farmers of Canada as social movements for us to learn from, and to appreciate as people’s histories.

With a wry Jim McCrorie smile and humour, he would tell us what really happened in the governance of the land from Tommy Douglas to today.

He was unremitting in his socialism – but with a Scottish pragmatism – looking at outcome as well as theory.

Jim was an inside out person. He lived what he believed – never forgetting his class background – recognizing the education of many to understand the economic and social forces that shape us... as the road to a better world.

Thanks Jim for what you gave us. And as you said and wrote ..In Union Is Strength. Viva Jim!

In Solidarity

Don Kossick in Mozambique, November 18th, 2013

A Celebration of James Napier McCrorie


A traditional Gaelic social gathering, which involves, music, dancing and story telling.

In honour of James N. McCrorie

Saturday, November 30th 2013


Edna May Forbes Lecture Theatre
2900 Wascana Drive
Regina, Saskatchewan


Buy Jim's memoir "No Expectations" HERE.

"I was born on a Tuesday, at 07:40 hrs.on April 21, 1936 at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. The hospital had been founded in the late 19th century by two business adventurers (i.e. rogues) from near Craigellachie, Banffshire, Scotland. The building had been built on the northern slope of Mount Royal, just above the James McGill estate – now a university. It resembled, in style, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. It was therefore a fitting venue for the son of Scottish immigrants to enter the world and although I was present at the event, I have no recollection of it." - From the Introduction.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reflections on an Historic Election: Argentina Enters a New Crisis

Historic vote: The Argentinian Workers Party newspaper celebrates 1.2 million votes for the Workers and Left Front in the October mid-term elections. Credit:
By Bob Lyons
New Socialist Webzine
November 3, 2013

The historic Argentinean mid-term elections of 27 October resulted in a breakthrough for the revolutionary left, and has exposed more clearly the outline of the tendencies emerging at the time of the primary votes held in July. The political, economic and social fissures revealed by the vote can be grouped around three themes:
1.    the end of the Kirchnerist experiment and the resulting strategic incoherance of the Argentinean bourgeoisie as a whole;
2.    the radical deepening of the economic and fiscal crises of the Argentinean state expressed as a loss of political legitimacy, and a series of policy cul-de-sacs;
3.    the growing presence of a workers and social vanguard determined to resist the consequences of the global crisis as expressed locally.
In what follows we will attempt to situate the election, and especially the results for the revolutionary left, within the context of the above themes.
The Defeat of Kirchnerism
That Kirchnerism, the political strategy of first Nestor and then Cristina is over is evidenced by the vote total obtained by the Front of Victory, the electoral apparatus of a renovated Peronism. In 2011 at the time of the presidential elections, Cristina Kirchner won with 54% of the national vote. Now a brief two years later she struggled to reach 33%. At a regional level, where the byzantine web of alliances between mayors, governors and national figures are expressed, Kirchner was defeated in the all-important province of Buenos Aires by the Renovation Front of Sergio Massas, the exponent of the neo-liberalism of the industrial and agrarian establishment, by a margin of more than 10%.