News for progressives

Damascus & Northern Syria will unite to promote leftism, if they embrace political Islam

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog This is the final part of a 3-part series which examines the leftist project of Northern Syria In the first article of this
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The Xi Silk Road is here to stay

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author) It took only two sentences for Xinhua to make the historical announcement; the Central Committee of
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Syrian War Report – March 5, 2018: Tiger Forces Liberate Large Area From Militants In East Ghouta Last weekend, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Tiger Forces, the 4th Armorued Division and other pro-government units delivered a devastating blow to the defense of militant groups in
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Dive into World Water Day with two films on the precious resource

Rabble News - Mon, 2018-03-05 21:13
Doreen Nicoll

March 22 is World Water Day, a time to celebrate and reflect on our treatment of this life-giving resource. It's also a great time to learn something new about the way this limited resource is taken for granted and mistreated right here at home.

To that end, here's two movies that will shock, inspire and remind all of us why water is always an important election issue.

Water Warriors (2017) is a modern-day David and Goliath story set in Mi'kma'ki, the unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq people living in New Brunswick. Water Warriors follows the epic three-year journey of diverse communities united by the need to protect their water from corporate greed.

In 2010, the New Brunswick government awarded Houston-based Southwestern Energy (SWN) a license to explore for natural gas. Undeniable environmental damage results from hydraulic fracturing and that motivated residents to halt the exploratory process before it reached that point.

That's when Elsipogtog First Nations people, French-speaking Acadian settlers and English-speaking white settlers came together to defend their water and land as well as the animals and plants living there.

Water Warriors is the amazing story of unexpected comrades whose resistance not only stopped exploratory fracking, but led to a complete change of the provincial party in power which eventually placed an indefinite moratorium on fracking in New Brunswick.

Storyline Media pride themselves on creating collaborative productions led by the people affected by the issues in question. To date the documentary has been screened at over 40 film festivals in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Enhancing the entire Water Warriors experience is a unique scalable installation. Augmented by photographs, video projections, and an audio soundscape, the exhibition deepens community engagement while fostering meaningful public discussions.

Michael Premo, executive director with U.S.-based Storyline, has a definitively Canadian connection -- he was an impact producer for Naomi Klein's documentary This Changes Everything.

During a phone interview with Anvil, Premo said, "We're always looking for narratives that will help communities tell their stories, find solutions, and change their community for the better."

For more information about Water Warriors and other Storyline documentary installations click here.

To book Water Warriors and the accompanying installation, visit this page.

Crap Shoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes reminds us just how easy it is to keep things we'd rather not deal with out of sight and out of mind. That pretty much sums up most people's perspective on what we flush down the toilet and into the sewer system. Where exactly does all that sewage go? But, more importantly, what precisely does it contain?

Follow the history of our modern-day sewer system from its beginnings in Rome to Canada where billions of litres of water are mixed with unknown chemicals, solvents, heavy metals, human waste and food.

It's a case of risk-benefit analysis versus the precautionary principle. Unfortunately, for the most part in Canada, the "perceived benefit" of releasing untreated sewage into our most important water sources or using poisonous sewage sludge on agricultural land far outweighs the heavy price we are paying by the onset of preventable diseases and the permanent contamination of our prime farmland.

See how municipalities in St. John's, Winnipeg, Uxbridge, Edmonton and Bear Pike deal with this toxic mess. Learn why Sweden, the Netherlands, and Belgium have banned the use of sewage sludge on agricultural lands. And, be introduced to an in-house fragrance-free composting toilet that could make every home self-sufficient when it comes to creating great top soil.

The disposal of our sewage waste in Canada is a gigantic problem that needs radical change, but that's only going to happen with massive social resistance that brings us face to face with what we flush.

The National Film Board of Canada production can be viewed for free here.

For those who want to do more, please check out the Wellington Water Watchers Water for Life Not Profit campaign. 

A version of this article originally appeared in the March edition of the Anvil newspaper published in the GTHA.

Image: Screenshot from Water Warriors trailer

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National day of remembrance and action on Islamophobia recommended, ignored

Rabble News - Mon, 2018-03-05 15:03
March 5, 2018Anti-RacismIn case you missed it, Parliament issued its M-103 Islamophobia reportDespite the hype a year ago, the M-103 Islamophobia report was met with indifference last month. But apathy is the last thing that we need in the face of growing Islamophobia in Canada.anti-IslamophobiaJustin TrudeauBill M-103
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UCP leader says he's opposed to more safe-drug-consumption sites -- but how would he address opioid crisis?

Rabble News - Mon, 2018-03-05 13:45
David J. Climenhaga

It wouldn't be fair to ask Jason Kenney to be his brother's keeper, but it's reasonable to wonder if the Alberta Opposition leader's brother has influenced his thinking about harm-reduction as a response to the opioid crisis, and in what ways.

Kenney was widely criticized for statements he made last Wednesday in Lethbridge, to the effect that if his United Conservative Party formed government on his watch, he would oppose expanding safe consumption sites in Alberta communities.

"Helping addicts inject poison into their bodies is not a solution to the problem of addiction," the UCP leader said, a statement that was widely interpreted on social media as indicating either his ignorance and hostility to scientific evidence, or a cynical desire to pander to his party's social conservative base.

Despite its brevity, the small story Thursday in the Lethbridge Herald about Kenney's observations did note that his position runs counter to the recommendations of local government officials, health groups and police. It did not, however, provide much information about why so many health-care professionals advocate harm-reduction strategies such as safe-injection sites as part of a co-ordinated response to North America's continuing opioid overdose crisis.

Experts seem to agree the only strategy that will save lives -- as opposed to winning votes, presumably -- includes harm-reduction techniques such as supervised-injection clinics where overdoses can be treated and drugs that will kill can be detected before use. The logic of this is that even though using powerful and dangerous drugs is not a good idea, the supply is plentiful, demand is strong, and users will die if they hide when they're using.

As a market fundamentalist missionary, this is something one would think Kenney would understand.

However, harm reduction goes against the harsh religious fundamentalist view, which Kenney also endorses, that drug abuse is sin, and therefore that reducing its impact somehow encourages sinning. Given his track record on a number of issues, it's not hard to believe Kenney's commentary was designed to appeal to members of his party's base who harbour such opinions

It's also possible, however, Kenney was influenced by the views of his brother, David Kenney, who with his wife once operated an unlicensed youth treatment centre in British Columbia that, in the words of the Toronto Sun, "purports to help kids with drug addiction, depression and psychological issues."

According to the Feb. 13, 2014, story in the Sun, Kelowna operations of NeurVana Innovative Recovery and Wellness Inc., which the paper said billed itself online as "officially recognized by the province of British Columbia," were shut down by the B.C. government and young people in the company's care sent home.

Media reports said the government closed two treatment centres in the Okanagan Valley city for operating without a licence in 2013. But news stories also indicated reports young people in the facility were "bullied and mistreated" brought the company to the government's attention. Reports of "abuse and neglect" resulted in a lawsuit by the families of children at the centre.

According to the 2014 Sun story, "NeurVana says it uses a technique called 'Brainwave Optimization' which it says can cure 'addiction, depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, self-destructive behaviour, rage and anger, eating disorders, and more.'"

Regardless, given the advocacy of the UCP and its predecessor political parties, for private heath-care delivery it would be reasonable for mainstream news reporters with regular access to Kenney to ask him if he has been influenced by the views of his family members on techniques such as the use of "brainwave optimization" to treat addictions.

Physicians consulted about brainwave optimization by the CBC in another context were skeptical about the technique.

One thing was very clear from Kenney's Lethbridge commentary, and that is that he has not given up on the "war on drugs" strategy as the best way to reduce harmful drug use.

Well, as Premier Rachel Notley observed in her speech to the Alberta NDP's Provincial Council in Edmonton Saturday, "Jason, the 1990s are calling, and they want their ridiculous ideas back!"

According to the Herald, Kenney asked: "Why aren't we giving the police adequate resources to chase down every source in the criminal to world (sic) to find out who is dealing poison on the streets of Lethbridge right now?"

He went on, not without unintended irony, to wonder, "Why aren't we massively increasing funding for the Canada's Border Service Agency to interdict the importation of deadly drugs from China and elsewhere?"

The CBSA is a federal agency. So one answer to that question may be that back in 2012, when Kenney was sitting at the cabinet table in Ottawa, the government of then-prime minister Stephen Harper cut the CBSA's budget by 10 per cent, resulting in the immediate loss of 250 front-line Border Services officers and more in subsequent years.

By 2015, days before the federal election that saw the Conservatives swept from power, about 1,300 positions had been eliminated at the CSBA and $143 million cut from the agency's budget. Front-line border officers, sniffer-dog teams and CBSA intelligence officers all lost their jobs in the Conservative cuts, media reported.

In addition to saving the lives of drug users who overdose, supervised consumption clinics prevent the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, bacterial infections and other medical conditions to drug users as well as people with whom they come in contact.

"Kenney's hypocrisy is unfathomable," observed Cam Westhead, NDP MLA for Banff-Cochrane in a Facebook response to the UCP leader's comments.

"Let's not also forget that when it comes to solutions that require increased funding, that in 2015 the former PC government rejected a $1.4-million grant that would have helped fund drug treatment programs during a time when fentanyl was killing a person a day in Alberta," noted Westhead, who is a Registered Nurse. "Alberta was the only province to decline this funding."

He noted that the minister responsible at the time for refusing that funding "now occupies a leadership position in Alberta's political scene" -- a reference to Stephen Mandel, chosen as the leader of the Alberta Party on Feb. 27.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog,

Photo: michael_swan/flickr

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The Ukrainian Javelins, the American grief, and Putin (Ruslan Ostashko)

[please press “cc” to see the English language subtitles] Thanks for Eugenia for translating and subtitling this video over the week-end!!
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In case you missed it, Parliament issued its M-103 Islamophobia report

Rabble News - Mon, 2018-03-05 04:27
Thomas Woodley

Given the brouhaha last year around Parliament's Islamophobia motion M-103, the quasi indifference to its resulting report seems perplexing. The motion itself repeatedly topped the news last year after initial Parliamentary debates in mid-February. Yet when the motion's summary report was issued last month -- almost a year later -- the most striking upshot was the general apathy.

The media and public ignored the fact that the report recommended that January 29 -- the anniversary of the horrific 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting -- be designated as a national day of remembrance and action on islamophobia. This, just weeks after Liberal Quebec premier Philippe Couillard made headlines after siding with Quebec's sovereigntist and conservative parties in opposing such a move.

For those who might have forgotten, after M-103 was introduced last year, its parliamentary sponsor Iqra Khalid received death threats among thousands of hate emails. After dominating headlines for weeks, the motion sparked protests and counter-protests across the country. Candidates for leadership of the federal Conservative Party debated the motion passionately, and Conservative leaders in Parliament offered a divisive alternative motion. Those opposed to the motion suggested it would somehow squelch criticism of Islam. Others cast doubt on the true intentions of the report proposed by the motion, asserting that it might propose measures to curtail civil liberties in an attempt to discourage anti-Muslim bigotry. 

But while the M-103 report certainly does not live up to the fear-mongering, it also fails to live up to the hopes of many Canadians. After almost a year of work, and testimony from 78 witnesses, the Parliamentary Committee's 30 recommendations provide little inspiration for Canada's Muslims. Indeed, only two of the Committee's 30 recommendations even mention Islamophobia: recommendation 30 calling for the national day of action on January 29, and recommendation 22 urging the government to take "a strong leadership role" against religious discrimination "including Islamophobia."

Despite M-103's obvious concern over Islamophobia in the wake of the Quebec City mosque shooting, the Committee's report smothers real action on Islamophobia under generalized concerns about religious discrimination overall. A bit like saying that the best response to Black Lives Matter is to launch an "all lives matter" campaign. Canada's Muslims have faced a significant rise in Islamophobia in recent years, and the Quebec City mosque attack provides concrete proof that anti-Muslim bigots are prepared to back their threats with violence.

It's not to say that the Committee's recommendations are ill-advised. Who could argue against better reporting on hate crimes, new tools to help religious minorities overcome racism in the employment market, or more funding for public awareness programs on religious discrimination. But the report ignores the core raison d'être of M-103: to address head-on the growing problem of Islamophobia in Canada today. 

Surveys over the last two years repeatedly demonstrate that Islamophobia in Canada should be a serious concern for policymakers. A May, 2016 study by MARU/VCR&C found that 53 per cent of Canadians had an unfavourable opinion of Islam. A December, 2016 Abacus poll found that 79 per cent of Canadians feel there is "some" or "a lot" of discrimination towards Muslims. A February, 2017 survey by Angus Reid again found that 46 per cent of Canadians had an unfavourable opinion of Islam. And an October, 2017 survey by Angus Reid revealed that 46 per cent said that Islam was "damaging" Canada and Canadian society.

New immigrant communities -- in which Muslim Canadians figure significantly -- are less well-established, and less well-positioned to assert their rights in Canadian society. One Committee witness representing the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario said that his organization talks to clients "daily" who experience acts of "hate […] violence [and…] Islamophobia" who do not report such incidents either for fear of their safety, or because they don't believe they would be supported if they did. 

Yet while the Committee's report highlights the fact that hate crimes against Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim, has risen dramatically in recent years. And while the report also cites the challenge of hate crime reporting, specifically the problem of underreporting, the report still fails to put special focus on the need to protect Muslim Canadians. 

The report also sidesteps the issue of Islamophobia in its refusal to even define Islamophobia. The report includes a section presenting different opinions on the term, and seems to suggest that there is insufficient consensus on it. The Conservative "minority report" seemed to delight in the fact that the Committee heard 26 different definitions of the term. Of course, ask different 26 people to define "potato," and you'll probably get 26 definitions of that word too. But a December, 2017 survey by EKOS Research found that, despite the political name games that MPs were playing in Ottawa, 70 per cent of Canadians are clear on what Islamophobia is, and 81 per cent believe such anti-Muslim racism is a problem in Canada. 

So despite the behaviour of some Canadian politicians, the issue of Islamophobia is not a political game or joke. Muslim-Canadians suffer through it every day, as they face racist comments in public spaces, and as they fail to obtain jobs because of their name or clothing. And sadly, as we discovered early in 2017, some Muslim-Canadians lose their lives because of Islamophobia. 

Muslim Canadians are not the only religious minority in Canada facing challenges, but as a relatively new immigrant community, they are among the least well-equipped to cope with religious discrimination. While the M-103 report fell short in addressing Islamophobia specifically, its broader recommendations are not unwelcome. What remains to be seen is whether the government will implement any of the report's recommendations, or whether it too will respond with indifference.

Photo: Adam Scotti/PMO

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Weekly Review And Open Thread 2018-09

Feb 26 - State Department Troll Farm Receives Huge Cash Infusion The above is one 'success' of the neo-conservatives and Clinton apparatchiks who created the idiotic Hamilton 68 project which U.S. media extensively used to make up bullshit stories about...
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How far can the Americans be pushed?

by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker blog Inspired by the Saker’s article regarding how far can the Russians be pushed, (, I ask, how far can the Americans be pushed,
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Clarksonian Mega-Challenges for Canada and North America Michèle Rioux

Progressive economics forum - Sun, 2018-03-04 05:31

Stephen Clarkson


This is the final essay in the PEF series to commemorate the life of Stephen Clarkson.  It is fitting that it is written by Michèle Rioux, a colleague in Quebec.  Stephen worked closely with many in Quebec and the relationship between Quebec and Canada was an important part of his analysis of North America.

Michèle Rioux is a Professor in the Department of Political Science, UQAM and Research Director at the Center for research on integration and globalization (Centre d’études sur l’intégration et la mondialisatieon).  Stephen loved Quebec and Montreal and was frequently invited to the Centre to speak, including attending the event to mark the 20th anniversary of NAFTA at la Maison du Développement Durable.


Clarksonian Mega-Challenges for Canada and North America by Michèle Rioux


The Neoliberal Trade Agenda @ Bay

North America has been an experimental model of trade and integration for at least the last 25 years. Stephen spent his life understanding North America and how the region shaped the Canadian political economy and society. An excellent, innovative researcher, he kept asking questions, many without clear-cut answers that led to a dozen high impact publications. Always kind and generous, intellectually challenging, he had an engaging personality and a very contagious smile. In this short article, remembering his critical influence he had on my research and in the field of Canadian political economy, I will specifically explore three topics that are central to his many contributions:
• The singular importance of the world economic system and the emergence of powerful multinational corporations as pivotal actors in diminishing the role of state everywhere.
• The asymmetrical growth in social inequality from new market access and free trade in North America and their “capture” of the public policy process.
• The transformative impact of regional economic integration models on the dynamics of state sovereignty and comparative international political economy.

Burned At The Stake Of International Competition

Stephen’s first major influence is to be found in his contribution to the most important debate on the highly controversial role of US MNCs and their impact on Canada’s economic sovereignty. Stephen had a leading role along with other experts stressing the dangers of a globalization process in Canada that left unchecked, would lead to economic domination by the US capitalism and the eventual loss of Canadian sovereignty through what Kari Polanyi has called a “silent surrender” in her book with the same title.

The debate on trade and industrial policies took place in the 1970s under the government of Pierre Trudeau and did not lead to a very successful interventionist state- centered Canadian policy ‘independentiste’ model. What was called the Third Option never went anywhere as a policy idea requiring Canada to reduce its dependence on the American market through targeted diversification. Instead, successive Liberal governments did exactly the reverse and opted for closer integration with the United States, along with an aggressive policy of deregulation and privatization of the Canadian economy, its primary policy orientation of the 1980s and 1990s.

Nowadays, the dangers of this economic domination are still significant for the Canadian state and a range of public policies. As Clarkson stated at the end of his book Uncle Sam and Us:

Rather than proposing yet another big idea to achieve still further leaps of integration with the United States on the dubious assumption that erasing the economic border will magically increase the standard of living, the Canadian state needs to recommit itself to its historical task of strengthening its own democracy.
The issue of the role and rights of foreign investors in Canada is still of great significance and has played a central role in the debates surrounding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the renegotiation of NAFTA. Foreign investors are powerful agents in the world economic system, They have gained economic, political and legal authority with few binding obligations in terms of protecting the public interest. This can be viewed as the continuation and exacerbation of the ‘silent surrender syndrome’ .

The globalization process has undermined national and international regulatory frameworks and in their place supported the emergence of new ‘globalist’ institutional and normative frameworks. Such frameworks are much more complex than those from the past since they deal with issues like investment, competition, services, public procurement and intellectual property; all of these areas that were outside of international negotiations in the past. This structural shift from national economic space towards a global economy has enormous implications on societies and on the behaviour of international relations. A long-term momentous shift in competitive strategies between global corporations for market share in regional markets the world over has given them unprecedented leverage to control where production is located and investments are made to support the unprecedented growth in global value chains, one of the key organizational principles of the crisis-ridden global economy. Stephen was one of the early Canadian researchers to analyze the important role of free trade agreements in the shift from Keynesian to a globalized economic policy model.


NAFTA, Neoliberalism and The Trouble with Bad Ideas

Clarkson did not agree with orthodox trade policy. He labelled them as ‘economic constitutions’ and described how they shape societies economically and politically. In an article entitled Apples And Oranges: Prospects For The Comparative Analysis of the EU and NAFTA as Continental Systems, he develops the idea of NAFTA as a comprehensive constitution setting the rules and regulations of state-market relations and as an American mode of regulation.

This is a very powerful idea and was highly provocative at the time. Nowadays, it is very clear that if trade agreements are not constitutions, they have great implications not only at the border but also behind borders. We now understand that these trade deals have developed into a very powerful intrusive legal instrument that affect policy and regulatory systems at different levels of the political order. The relation between states and markets, for Stephen, was at the very core of his perspective.

He critically understood the North American integration model as a reflection of changes in the relationship between states and markets in the region and compared with integration models elsewhere (see, for instance, his article Apples and Oranges). Indeed, North America emerged in the 1990s as a strong and influential regional model of integration. As such, it brought about new regulatory and strategic instruments deployed at multiple and diversified levels of governance. From the US point of view and, to a lesser extent from that of Canada, one of the initial and most important objectives of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was to improve the competitiveness of the region by relocating in Mexico, especially in the area of border production, where production functions were low-tech and labour intensive in auto assembly, light manufacturing and other industries that benefited the American consumer at the checkout counter. It was the ‘trump card of the United States’ both before and after negotiations (Rioux et Deblock, 1993). NAFTA has spread beyond North America, and we can agree with Stephen’s most important insight that neoliberal trade governance has entertained a complex relationship with globalization.

One very important factor and structural element shaping governance and regulation of economic integration in North America is the importance of Asia and more specifically of China for the region. The now defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was to meant to transform NAFTA beyond the original three countries involved. This would have been a de facto renegotiation of NAFTA. The last time I met Stephen was at a conference on “NAFTA at 20” and the TPP negotiations were perceived as a way to ‘modernize’ NAFTA on the Trans-Pacific front. The TPP allowed the three countries to negotiate new trade related regulatory issues with the strategic goal in mind to deal with inter-regional issues linked to the development of new global value chains. It meant that, instead of being a ménage à trois, North America was immersed into an intense model of coopetition shaped by global value chains across the Pacific.

In this new context, the conference participants saw emerging transnational regulatory responses accelerating the disappearance of the boundary between the public and private spheres at various levels ?local, national, international and global? giving way to a complex system of networks between authorities endowed with overlapping rights and obligations from the perspective of the trade deal. The exact relationship between national sovereignty and transnational trade governance was never clear in a third generation of regional/interregional trade agreement. Does this contribute to the convergence of regulation and governance models or to the hegemonic diffusion of the US regulation model? Of course, once Donald Trump scrapped the TPP, challenged NAFTA and TTIP, the US regulatory model was no longer in the driver’s seat even have it remains a powerful force in its own right. Yet, this might also be a strategic move to ensure that the contested US model is accepted in exchange for access to the US market. Since the 1930s, the United States always promoted trade liberalization based on a system of legal rules and principles “organizing” the trading system and their relations with trading partners.

I want to quote from the preface of the conference proceedings to emphasize this point:
“The tragic misrule in North America’s three-state space and in most of Latin America over the last few decades has undermined the significant achievements of the post-World War II Keynesian state which achieved high rates of economic growth while developing publicly financed education, health, employment, and pension policies and consequently reducing the inequality between rich and poor. Neo-liberalism’s populist, anti-government rhetoric has blinded public consciousness to the costs of empowering market actors freed of responsibility for the destructive environmental and social consequences of their corporate actions.” (Préface in English, Rioux & al. 2016).

North American trade deals have increasingly shaped our societies and they can, as Clarkson suggested, be considered like new global trade constitutions empowering multinationals and constraining governments.

The Contradictory Impacts of Regional Economic Models

The third Clarkson narrative concerns regional integration models. He compared regions mostly North America with Europe and how both regions differed in their approach to integration processes. As regions are increasingly negotiating trade agreements with one another, he contributed to the development of the concept of inter-regionalism to explain both the dynamics of convergence and divergence across highly dissimilar regional economies.

When comparing the North American regionalism with the broader European model, Stephen was evidently disappointed. In North America, regional integration is a less ambitious project. It has developed as a mainly contractual and essentially strategic model, oriented on economic issues. In North America, there was no plan for a gradual and incremental process leading to a single market or to a monetary and political union. The goal is primarily opening up markets and adopting rules for markets in an attempt to boost competitiveness. Partners work to eliminate restrictive policies and regulations rather than to build a common and supranational approach in a multidimensional perspective; i.e. taking into account the public good in economic governance as part of a wider social and political integration project. Nowadays, the European Union is an economic, legal, monetary and political reality, even though an imperfect and contested one. Fiscal and social policies and the pressures linked to the 2008 economic crisis and the management – or the lack of – of the migration issues in the recent past have paved the way for new risks of institutional implosion such as Brexit, which is underway, and in the recent past, the forced upon departure of Greece or Grexit.

Clarkson was pragmatic about how far he could take this comparison. Even though, he liked the European model, he also knew that it could not be adopted in North America. He distinguished between the two models of regionalisms, the first developed in Europe and a second generation type emerging in North America in the late 1980s and early 90s. In the European case, the economic dimension would be completed by adding a very elaborate supranational legal and political institutions evolving over time. There is a strong sense of community and identity that speaks volumes about the national and sub-national layers of governance in the European Union. Like Robert Pastor who, in the United States, deployed much time and energy to define and promote the concept of the importance and value of an emerging North America community that existed beyond the free trade ideal, Clarkson also pushed the idea that a sense of community could and should emerge in North America.

More recently, CETA, the negotiations of TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership involving the United States and the European Union, have launched a new process of inter-regionalism that would incorporate and articulate a developed regional integration models of regionalisms. Stephen also sought to grasp these new realities of integration processes in his later writing and research.

When Canada and the EU negotiated an ambitious agreement like CETA, how does this agreement compare to the regional integration processes underway on both sides of the Atlantic? What does it mean for their respective lives of citizens and for their interactions with government and nonstate actors that will increase over the next years as the Agreement become a living experiment and eventually take a life of its own. For some, this indicates the emergence of a third generation of integration processes that is increasingly interregional in nature. Recent trade agreements are very ambitious, more ambitious than NAFTA, but there are no plans or possibility of creating a single unit like the EU. New words, like comprehensive and partnership, combine to define what Christian Deblock depicted as an ‘interconnection’ model that is essentially geared towards regulatory cooperation and governance. He writes that:

In the current decade, two trends closely related to the new issues of globalisation have begun to emerge. First, trade negotiations increasingly revolve around cross-border trade, digital trade and value chains. Second, they are characterised by their interoperability. Today’s globalisation does not so much integrate as connect. And with interconnection, the problem of international regulatory cooperation arises. This issue is now at the core of discussions within the OECD, APEC or new trade agreements, according to terms and principles very different from previous negotiations. (Deblock, 2016, p. 9)

CETA involves regulatory co-operation in many domains and certainly has the potential of significantly changing national regulations. The intent of the TPP also placed emphasis on regulatory co-operation across the Pacific. The Transatlantic Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between Europe and the United States also involved such far reaching regulatory cooperation. The EU negotiator for the TTIP made no secret of it. Important issues are the investor-state dispute mechanism, electronic commerce, norms and standards, including labour standards and rights. Undoubtedly, this interconnection model does not imply loss of sovereignty, but it certainly will have a great impact on many policies and regulations. This raises several questions, including that of the democratic legitimacy of a new and further shifts of power and regulatory authority between states and markets.

Pessimist or Eternal Sceptic?

Building on the fundamental complex relationships between states, markets and North American integration, Clarkson identified the powerful and often dangerous dynamics unleashed by globalization, Clarkson always paid attention to power relationships and asymmetries in the light of Canada’s relations with its continental global neighbour. He was critical but never pessimistic about North America. Yet, I think he wished for more cooperation and more balanced relations between countries and between states and markets. At that time of pessimism and national retreat, we will miss his insights but we are lucky to have such a rich legacy of scholarship and intellectual research to draw on.

It is hoped that trade deals will also strike new balances between states and markets. Transparency, more participatory process during negotiations and enforcement, and more balanced agreements taking into account the social and environmental dimensions are key elements for the future of globalization. North America has to invent new types of cooperation and governance, regulatory schemes in this world of transnational and global networks. In my view, this is the biggest challenge we have before us and one that Stephen was always motivated to undertake with boundless energy. He believed that Canada would find a way to provide answers to the complex challenges of North American integration. Perhaps the trump card of NAFTA is the Trump Presidency which has triggered a wider discussion on North American regional integration. Canada is now promoting a new progressive trade agenda in North America with its trading partners around the world. Last May, Ed Broadbent challenged the perspective and its depth in these words:
“One part of a response to growing inequality is to change the rules of the game in international trade. The Liberal government has suggested it wants such change. It claims to believe in “progressive trade.” However, in the recent negotiations with Europe, the government signed on to a pact, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, that pays only lip service to labour rights.”

It is also the case that Canada is intent to negotiate several new trade agreements, particularly with China and Mercosur, and has started NAFTA re-negotiations. The interaction between globalization and social progress is becoming increasingly important in the public debates. Many international instruments exist; however, they remain largely ineffective to produce a socially responsible globalization process. More ambitious social and environmental clauses in trade agreements might be elements of a wider solution, but significantly there is a deeper questioning of the social and political significance of what states are attempting to achieve while multiplying trade agreements.

In these new conditions unquestionably Canadian political economy will be subjected to powerful and volatile structural forces determined by the wider North American political economy. But there is no doubt that Clarkson also believed in Canada and its potential in playing a key role within the international system as well as in the world economy. Yet, for this to occur, one must learn from history and understand how to steer collective action nationally and internationally towards a better life in North America. In this regards, it is important to end with the one more quote from Clarkson:

Whatever label one uses to describe the centrality of the past in limiting the options available in the present which determine the shape of the future, it is important to keep it in mind since, because world power relations are in such a constant flux, so much analysis has focused on immediate happenings that “change” is typically presented with little attention being paid to the historic roots of the reality experiencing change. (Préface in English Alena conjugué au passé, présent et futur. Rioux &al. 2015.)

It is in this context that Canada faces numerous challenges. Not only regional integration has changed, but Canadian economic productivity has also lost ground to American industries and lags further behind the US commanding presence in new global value chains and digital trade. Clearly, Canada also needs to move towards a more innovative and progressive trade agenda. In this new setting, Stephen Clarkson’s contribution to the study of political economy of North American regionalism and globalization has much to teach us


Ed Broadbent, « Let’s make human rights central to a new NAFTA » The Globe & Mail, May 5th, 2017.

Stephen Clarkson, Uncle Sam and Us: Globalization, Neoconservatism, and the Canadian State. Toronto; Washington: Toronto UP and Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2002

Christian Deblock, “From regionalism to cross-regionalism”, Great Insights, December 2016, p. 8-9.

Michèle Rioux, Christian Deblock et Laurent Viau, L’Aléna conjugué au passé, au présent et au futur, PUQ, 2015.

Michèle Rioux, Mathieu Ares and Ping Huang (2015), Beyond NAFTA with Three Countries: The Impact of Global Value Chains on an Outdated Trade Agreement. Open Journal of Political Science, 5, 264-276. doi: 10.4236/ojps.2015.54028.

Michèle Rioux and Christian Deblock “NAFTA: The Trump Card of the United States?”, Studies in Political Economy, no. 41, 1993, pp.7-44.

Douglas A. Ross, “Clarkson, Stephen. Uncle Sam and Us: Globalization, Neoconservatism, and the Canadian State”, International Journal, October 1, 2004.

Categories: News for progressives

Syria Sitrep - Afrin, Idlib and East-Ghouta

After a slow start the Turkish and Jihadi attack on the Afrin canton in north-west Syria is making some progress. Despite intimate knowledge of the terrain and years of preparation the local Kurdish forces of the YPK have little chance...
Categories: News for progressives

Governments need to work together to clean up Grassy Narrows water

Rabble News - Sat, 2018-03-03 11:24
Krystalline Kraus

After decades of lobbying, with the inclusion of international doctors and researchers, and successful River Run demonstrations here in Toronto, it seems like both levels of government are finally willing to own up to their role in the failure to prevent -- and most importantly -- to clean up the toxic water and soil of Grassy Narrows, which has permanently damaged bodies and minds.

Th federal government, with a sometimes smiling and sometimes teary leader, Justin Trudeau, has played a good game of claiming to support a radical new way to treat First Nation issues.

His path to victory as our country's leader was paved in part on Indigenous votes who, after decades and decades of mistreatment, finally fell under a "Yes We Can" magical type of political promise that a vote for Trudeau junior would mean a better relationship with the federal government.  

The provincial government whose leader, Kathleen Wynne, was at one point the go-to public official when it came to lobbying the provincial government to radically (or at least subtly) alter the course of Indigenous-government relations.

But Ontario co-operation in helping to clean up the chemical damage around Grassy Narrows was not an easy deal to secure.

Fish from the English-Wabigoon River System has up to 150 times the safe daily dose of mercury, but a wholesale clean-up could end the damage caused decades ago when the pulp and paper industry dumped heavy metals into the river system -- and no political party seemed to really care.

Even the NDP, while paying lip service to the cause of Grassy Narrows, provided a much better critique of the Liberals but a big unknown if they ever found themselves in the seat of power.

Members of the Grassy Narrows and White Dog First Nations have every right to be wary of government promises.

I know the Ontario Liberal party likes to shine the sun on itself since Kathleen Wynne used to be the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, so it only makes political sense that she wants to be seen as their champion.

The good news started rolling in at the end of May 2016, when scientists came to the conclusion that the English-Wabigoon water system could feasibly be cleaned up if there was enough money available to do the job and do it properly.

You see, community members from both reservations rely upon the English-Wabigoon river system to provide their communities with fish, as the cost of purchasing other forms of protein for their diets can be prohibitive. While their health is very important, that is not the only concern. They have a right to live and gather food within their traditional territories, a right re-affirmed by Canada's adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The Declaration guarantees the right of Indigenous peoples to enjoy and practice their cultures, their customs, their religions and their languages; to develop and strengthen their economies and their social and political institutions. Indigenous peoples have the right to be free from discrimination and the right to a nationality.

As with most politics, the trick's in finding a politician and a party willing to fund the actual clean up for the full amount, no half-measures.

The Liberals under Wynne seemed like they were willing to at least commit to the job.

Grassy Narrows First Nation had received a settlement back in 1985 from the federal government and the Reed Paper Company that bought out the Dryden Pulp and Paper Company and its sister-company Dryden Chemical Company, but the mercury was never actually removed from the water.

The water and soil contamination from mercury causes a debilitating and deadly disability, which still impacts residents to this day, generations after the pulp and paper plant shut down.

Minamata disease, which first occurred in the town of Minamata, Japan, in 1956, is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. Minamata disease is terrible, resulting in symptoms from body tremors to effects on the brain.  It can be chronic, tainting the blood of those exposed to too much mercury as much as it can poison the water and soil.

Clear-cutting -- Grassy Narrows has the longest running blockade in Canadian history -- only causes more contamination as toxic but previously rooted contaminated soil runs off the land due to erosion into the already contaminated river system.

After intense lobbying and allies lining up behind the people of Grassy Narrows, the Ontario government finally in June 2017 pledged $85 million to clean up the mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon River system. An additional $2.7 million is budgeted by Queen's Park to accelerate work already underway on the river.

Chief and council of the First Nation community in Northern Ontario are thankful for the commitment of the Ontario government, but they know they are also going to need the help of the federal government in order for the situation to finally be set right.

"The people of Grassy Narrows have fought for more than 40 years to hear [this]," David Suzuki said after visiting Grassy Narrows. "The government needs to promptly implement a remediation plan for the river that has been developed by Grassy Narrows and their science advisers on a strict timeline for action."

Yes, it is also true that the federal government has pledged to fund an in-community mercury treatment centre at a cost of at least $4.5 million.

But talk is just talk and promises are just promises.

And while Grassy Narrows community members are thrilled by the announcement -- their chief called it a "dream come true" -- the federal government should partner with the Ontario government to fund the total clean-up of the river system lands.

Fundamentally, what we are talking about here is Justin Trudeau's pledge to clean up poisoned drinking water and subsequent boil and food advisories.  

"Two-thirds of all First Nation communities in Canada have been under at least one drinking water advisory at some time in the last decade," according to a CBC News investigation, and it has not gotten much better in 2017 or 2018. Grassy Narrows is obviously among them.

While flashier campaigns such as the legalization of marijuana captivate the public and the media, Trudeau has also promised to clean up the water supply of Indigenous communities across Canada.

Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to act immediately to stop the ongoing contamination and commit to cleaning the river.

Access to clean running water to drink and clean water to fish, is not a luxury but a necessity. It is more than just a campaign promise, it's got to be seen as a fundamental health and environmental right.

Photo: Howl Arts Collective/flickr

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Five Things to Know About the 2018 Federal Budget

Progressive economics forum - Sat, 2018-03-03 04:43

I’ve written a blog post about the 2018 federal budget.

Points made in the blog post include the following:

-Important new housing investments were made for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

-The Working Income Tax Benefit was expanded, made automatic and rebranded (i.e., renamed).

-Canada’s official unemployment is now the lowest it’s been in decades.

-Canada’s federal debt-to-GDP ratio is (by far) the lowest of any G7 country.

The link to the full blog post is here.

Categories: News for progressives

Afghanistan - A Pipeline, Peace And Many Spoilers

Peace negotiations in Afghanistan had long stalled. But that recently changed in a surprising way. Secret negotiations between many parties must have taken place to suddenly achieve these two results: Taliban Vows to Protect TAPI Gas Pipeline Project - VOA,...
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Moveable Feast Cafe 2018/03/02 … Open Thread

2018/03/02 17:00:02Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of
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Black History Month should be all year

Rabble News - Fri, 2018-03-02 22:57
March 2, 2018Anti-RacismBlack History Month: A plea for continuityWhile the celebrations of Black culture in Canada are welcome, other events in February reminded us there is much improvement still needed.Black History Monthanti-racismracism
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Maple Leafs partner with Royal Canadian Navy to 'honour' military tradition

Rabble News - Fri, 2018-03-02 14:44
Yves Engler

Hey Maple Leafs, be careful which traditions you honour.

On Saturday the Leafs played an outdoor game against the Washington Capitals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. To mark the occasion the team created a jersey with the Royal Canadian Navy's (RCN) "Ready, Aye, Ready" motto on it. The website unveiling the sweaters includes a brief history of the RCN, and Leafs President Brendan Shanahan said the jerseys were designed to honour "the traditions of the Royal Canadian Navy" whose sailors "stand always ready to defend Canada and proudly safeguard its interests and values whether at home or abroad."

Sounds all maple syrupy, but there are a couple of nagging questions: Whose "interests and values" are we talking about? Should we honour all their traditions?

For example, in 1917 the Royal Bank loaned $200,000 to unpopular Costa Rican dictator Federico Tinoco just as he was about to flee the country. A new government refused to repay, saying the Canadian bank knew Tinoco was likely to steal it. "In 1921," reports Royal Military College historian Sean Maloney in Canadian Gunboat Diplomacy, "Aurora, Patriot and Patrician helped the Royal Bank of Canada satisfactorily settle an outstanding claim with the government of that country."

In 1932 RCN destroyers Skeena and Vancouver assisted a month-old military coup government that brutally suppressed a peasant and Indigenous rebellion in El Salvador. London had informed Ottawa that a "communist" uprising was underway and there was "a possibility of danger to British banks, railways and other British lives and property" as well as a Canadian-owned utility. Bolstered by the RCN's presence, the military regime would commit "one of the worst massacres of civilians in the history of the Americas."

In 1963 two Canadian naval vessels joined U.S., British and French warships, reports Maloney, that "conducted landing exercises up to the [Haiti's] territorial limit several times with the express purpose of intimidating the Duvalier government." That mission was largely aimed at guaranteeing that Haiti did not make any moves towards Cuba and that a Cuban-inspired guerrilla movement did not seize power.

Two years later, thousands of U.S. troops invaded the Dominican Republic to stop a left-wing government from taking office. Alongside the U.S. invasion, a Canadian warship was sent to Santo Domingo in April 1965, in the words of Defence Minister Paul Hellyer, "to stand by in case it is required."

After dispatching three vessels during the first Iraq war in 1991, Canadian warships were part of U.S. carrier battle groups enforcing brutal sanctions. In 1998 HMCS Toronto was deployed to support U.S. airstrikes on Iraq. In the months just before and after the second U.S.-led invasion of Iraq at least 10 Canadian naval vessels conducted maritime interdictions, force-support and force-projection operations in the Arabian Sea. Canadian frigates often accompanied U.S. warships used as platforms for bombing raids in Iraq. A month before the commencement of the U.S. invasion, Canada sent a command and control destroyer to the Persian Gulf to take charge of Taskforce 151 -- the joint allied naval command. Opinion sought by the Liberal government concluded that taking command of Taskforce 151 could make Canada legally at war with Iraq.

In 2011 HMCS Charlottetown and Vancouver were dispatched to enforce a UN arms embargo on Libya. But, they allowed weapons, including from Canadian companies, to flow to anti-Gadhafi rebels. They also helped destroy Libyan government naval vessels.

Last summer HMCS Ottawa and Winnipeg participated in "freedom of navigation" operations alongside U.S., Japanese, Australian and other countries' warships in disputed areas of the South China Sea. Chinese vessels responded by "shadowing" the Canadian vessels for 36 hours.

The honest truth is that the RCN is employed mostly to advance corporate and Western geostrategic interests, something many of us would prefer not to honour.

A Canucks and Canadiens fan, Yves Engler confesses to having hated the Leafs before they partnered with the navy. He is the author of Playing Left Wing: From Rink Rat to Student Radical and other books. He is currently writing a people's history of the Canadian military.

Photo: Jack G. Kempster. Canada. Department of National Defence. Library and Archives Canada, PA-106904 /flickr

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Making sense of the Russian 5th generation fighters in Syria

[This article was written for the Unz Review] When I got an email from a friend telling me that a pair of Su-57s was seen landing at the Russian Aerospace
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International Women's Day celebrates the achievements of women

Rabble News - Fri, 2018-03-02 10:39
Doreen Nicoll

March is such a wonderful month! The days are longer, March 20 is the official start of spring, and there's the promise of renewed life as snowdrops push through the last of the snow and pussy willows offer nectar to emerging pollinators.

March is also the time to celebrate women's accomplishments. International Women's Day (IWD) launched Sunday, March 8, 1914. Historically, IWD celebrations have been used to advance women's rights and gender equity. However, while women around the world have made great strides, we know that even Canada has a long way to go before it can call itself truly gender equitable.

In 1995, Canada was number 1 on the United Nations Gender Equality Index. Today Canada ranks 25th. In November 2016, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) issued comprehensive recommendations regarding Canada's compliance with the UN treaty on women's rights. All recommendations are to be implemented by 2020, including a National Gender Equality Plan.

The CEDAW Committee clearly stated that Canada does not adequately provide the programs and services essential to women's equality. Women in Canada are still fighting for income equality, equal pay, decent jobs, affordable child care and housing, adequate legal aid, access to sexual and reproductive health care, sufficient protection from violence, and a justice system that responds to their needs in all parts of the country.

Globally, the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report found that at our current pace, global gender parity will take over 200 years to reach. That's why this IWD we need to #PressforProgress by recognizing that achievement comes in a variety of forms; ensuring women's contributions get credited; acknowledging the value of their lived experience; and celebrating their individual and collective successes.

To that end, let's shine a huge spotlight on the contributions of five fabulous feminists who have helped move Canada and the world closer to gender equity.

Thelma McGillivray (May 11, 1933 - January 28, 2018) was a trailblazer! As a single parent raising four children, Thelma returned to school and earned a Masters of Social Work from McMaster University. What she accomplished was no small feat because this was a time when it wasn't popular to be divorced, a single parent, or an adult learner. Thelma worked in the family court system in Hamilton before opening her private practice specializing in mediation and therapy.

Thelma was a proud feminist and social activist promoting the rights of women, children and seniors. Thelma was an active member of the Provincial Council of Women, the Canadian Federation of University Women, the former Hamilton Status of Women Committee, Advancement of Women Halton, and the Older Women's Network.

Thelma was also an avid writer, regularly addressing social justice and human rights issues in the Hamilton Spectator, the Star, and the Anvil newspapers. As editor of the provincial Council of Women of Ontario Newsletter, Thelma was always busy recruiting writers.

In her spare time, Thelma could be found lunching with members of the provincial parliament at Queen's Park and discussing important matters to be raised at her next meeting or injected into her next article.

Bonnie Brown is a force to be reckoned with! Bonnie worked as a social worker and teacher before becoming an elected school trustee in 1987. Bonnie was then elected to the Oakville Town Council and later to Halton Regional Council.

Bonnie was first elected to the House of Commons in 1993 as a Liberal MP representing the riding of Oakville-Milton. When the riding was divided in two, Bonnie was re-elected in 1997 and represented Oakville from 1997 until losing her seat in the 2008 federal election.

Well known for thoroughly researching issues before speaking her mind, Bonnie was considered outspoken for supporting a moratorium on the patenting of human genes and was the first MP to denounce the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Bonnie was crucial in securing Canada's endorsement of the Kyoto Accord and advocated for a carbon tax.

When Bonnie left Parliament Hill, instead of retiring, she refocused her skills and energy into volunteering and set her sights on improving the lives of women living in the Halton region, across Canada, and around the world. In 2008, Bonnie was a founding member of Advancement of Women Halton (AWH) a compilation of 25 women representing a broader spectrum of agencies, services and community groups working to improve the lives of women and their children.

AWH develops and promotes social, political, cultural, and economic strategies that support gender equality locally, nationally and internationally. Issues championed by this all-female group include poverty, universal child care, violence against women and girls, affordable housing, pay equity, diverse and marginalized women, women's economic development, reproductive rights, the overuse of segregation in prisons, a higher minimum wage, and a universal guaranteed income.

Bonnie's years of experience at a variety of levels of government continues to be invaluable to the work of this non-profit, non-partisan, issue-oriented collaborative women's advocacy group.

Veronica Tyrell has been a vital part of Oakville's community for many years. Her roles are many and varied including serving as President of the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton, a citizen member of the Cultural Advisory Committee for the Town of Oakville, and a long-standing member of Advancement of Women Halton.

Veronica was the recipient of a Leading Women Building Communities award from Ontario's Ministry for Women's Issues. She has also won the Oakville Community Spirit award, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Award, the Oakville Arts Council's Award for Collaboration, and was a 2017 recipient of the WCH's award Honouring 150 Years of Exemplary Women.

Under Veronica's leadership, the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton's (CCAH) project Black Youth in Action was selected to be part of the minister's report to Parliament on the Multicultural Act of 2008. This project served over 15,000 students, as well as over 500 adults. CCAH has hosted a virtually endless list of programs and festivals including the Roots of Freedom Festival, annual Black History Month celebrations, and the Caribbean Cultural Pavilion in the Carousel of Nations festival.

Sherry Saevil, a Cree woman from Treaty 6, developed her passion for Indigenous issues through lived and professional experience. Sherry's mother and all of her aunts and uncles were survivors of the residential school system. Sherry is from a family of 10 children all of whom were taken in the Sixties Scoop. Sherry is the first generation to raise her children without government interference.

Armed with degrees in Native Studies and Criminology from the University of Saskatchewan, Sherry embarked on her career working for Indigenous organizations starting with the Treaty and Aboriginal Rights Research Centre in Manitoba.

Sherry also spent five years at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory working as the Assistant Director and focusing on land claims research in preparation for submissions to the federal government.

She currently works with the Halton Catholic District School Board as the Indigenous Education Advisor. Sherry is able to provide professional development for staff while introducing Indigenous elders, artists, performers and traditional knowledge keepers to both staff and students. In this role Sherry is also able to encourage teachers to embed Indigenous ways of knowing into their curriculum.

Sherry participated on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the Educational Roundtable with the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation, the International Indigenous Education Conference, and treaty discussions with the Treaty Commission of Saskatchewan. In January 2018, Sherry received with the prestigious Sesquicentennial Award which was presented to only 15 Canadians who have positively impacted and influenced their communities.

Nicole Pietsch is a Coordinator with the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres and a community research associate with The Learning Network on Violence Against Women. The Coalition works toward the prevention and eradication of sexual assault. Its membership includes 29 community-based sexual assault centres from across Ontario, offering counselling, information, education and support services to survivors of sexual violence.

Nicole has a particular interest in the ways in which social constructs of sex, gender, age and race inform Canadian social policy, including law. Since 1998, Nicole has assisted women and youth living with violence, including immigrant and refugee women and survivors of sexual violence. In recent years, Nicole has worked with youth and adult survivors of violence who are incarcerated, those living in an institutional setting, and Deaf youth.

Nicole was the consultant for both the Opening Doors Project: Economic Opportunities for Immigrant Women and the Working Together for A Stronger Sexual Violence Response and A Stronger Renfrew County Project.

In 2013/14, Nicole was the Gender Specialist in the Preventing and Reducing the Trafficking of Women and Girls through Community Planning in York Region Project. Her strategic organizing and priority-setting supported the Women's Support Network of York Region in operationalizing new work, based on community-identified needs. Today, she continues as the organization's Gender Specialist concerning human trafficking.

In 2015, Nicole led a local needs assessment/consultation with youth and women as Researcher /Coordinator in the Online and Okay Project: Identifying Solutions for Addressing the Problem of Digital Sexual Violence Project. She also co-led community consultations with diverse youth in collaboration with Planned Parenthood Toronto's strategic planning process.

Nicole's written work has appeared in York University's Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, the University of Toronto's Women's Health and Urban Life, and Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme.

Her critical review of how media and the legal system interpreted youth violence, race and gender within British Columbia's Reena Virk case appeared in a collection published by Canadian Scholars Press, Reena Virk: Critical Perspectives on a Canadian Murder. In 2015, her essay, "Doing Something" About "COMING TOGETHER: The Surfacing of Intersections of Race, Sex and Sexual Violence in the SlutWalk Movement" appeared in a collection published by Demeter Press.

Each of these amazing women answered the call to action to work for gender parity. They have also been instrumental in motivating colleagues, friends, male supporters and a good chunk of the Halton Community to think, act, and be gender inclusive.

International Women's Day is a day to come together to celebrate our leaders, our compatriots, and our accomplishments. It's also a day to commit to pushing the gender parity agenda forward so we have even more to celebrate in 2019!

On Thursday, March 8, 2018 help women around the world move closer to gender equity and #PressforProgress.

Also, check out #MyFeminism celebrating Canadian feminists blazing a trail towards equity here at home and around the world.

A version of this piece originally appeared on the website of the Women's Centre of Halton.

Photo: J Carrier/UN Women/flickr

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