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Human behaviour at the root of orca plight

Wed, 2018-11-07 23:24
November 7, 2018Human behaviour is at the root of orca plightIf we want orcas and other species to survive, we should look in the mirror and change our own behaviour.
Categories: News for progressives

100 years after First World War, a forum for peace opens in Paris

Wed, 2018-11-07 00:54
November 6, 2018100 years after First World War, a forum for peace opens in ParisFrench President Emmanuel Macron sees dangers 100 years after the "never again" promise of 1918 failed to produce peace. In November, France will host a 100th anniversary event: the Paris Peace Forum.
Categories: News for progressives

Postal strike in perspective: Union has made great strides possible

Tue, 2018-11-06 23:11
Anne Ehret

The current strike by Canada Post workers has made me reflect on my early years as a letter carrier in Vancouver, when the crown corporation was first hiring female letter carriers.

It was 1974, and I was 21. I had moved to Vancouver from southwestern Ontario because I wanted to experience a different part of Canada. I initially had worked in a bank, but was feeling quite restless and unhappy in this job. Then, I saw the mail carrier come into the bank to deliver the mail. I was so impressed by the fact it was a woman, that I immediately went up to her and asked: “They’re hiring women for this position now?” She responded, “Oh yes. It started a few months ago.”

I called in sick the next day, went to the post office and applied. A few weeks later, I was on the job.

I was aware that some of the older male carriers struggled with having women working alongside them. This did not bother me because my father, who was also a mail carrier, had always maintained that women could do this (or any) job as well as a man.

Although it was the early 1970s, the first female letter carrier in Canada had actually been hired in 1964. Her name was Norah Stackard. She was fired after one and a half days on the job – because of her gender. Apparently, the postmaster general said the job should be reserved for men until the Civil Service Commission and Canada Post finished studying the prospect of employing female letter carriers. The general consensus at that time was that delivering the mail was “a man’s job.” It would take almost a decade before women letter carriers finally were allowed to be hired.

I worked for the post office for several years before leaving for other pursuits, and am now retired. But since that time I watched as the post office changed.

When I started, I met people who wanted to discuss what I thought of the job, what it entailed and how many women were doing this. I remember one of my routes had quite a few seniors, many of whom would greet me at the door. They wanted to talk, to connect with someone. I had many offers for coffee and tea breaks each morning (which I was tempted to accept). I began to realize the importance of the postman or woman to the people in each neighbourhood.

Today, people don’t write letters much any more, and many of us get our mail from community boxes and not from a letter carrier who goes door to door.

There has been changes on working conditions for postal workers, too. Despite what you may think of postal employees and their union, they have moved forward. They opened the door to women and it is interesting to note that by 1981, it was postal workers and the postal union, CUPW, who were among the first to implement paid maternity leave in Canada. In the process, they brought together women's groups to focus national attention on the issue.

But there is still work to be done. Rural and suburban mail carriers, most of whom are women, do not earn the same amount as urban carriers. I also learned that postal employees are regularly expected to work long overtime hours, sometimes logging 10-hour days.

And just like the post office, Canadian society is witnessing change. Institutions that were once the backbone of our society, the glue that connected us – the family, churches, doctors, the library, the post office – are all going through this change. And although people do not write letters as much these days, one thing remains constant – the need for community. As I think about all of this, I can’t help but be reminded of the thing that stood out the most for me when I was a letter carrier all those years ago. It was that the people I met wanted conversation. They wanted to greet and talk with the letter carrier. No matter how much we do online, we still have a need to gather together, if not in conversation, at least in just being close by. Could not the post office be part of building community?

There is a suggestion now to bring back a postal banking service (especially in rural areas and in Indigenous communities where there is often no bank or credit union). To me, this makes a lot of sense. The union suggests that this will be part of an overall plan to reinvent the post office and make it a real hub for every neighbourhood; to bring it back to a place that is not for profit, but for community. Interestingly, this idea is also echoed in the Leap Manifesto, a political manifeso issued by a broad coalition of Canadian authors, artists, national leaders and activists in 2015, during the last federal election campaign. It calls for a restructuring of the Canadian economy and issues “a call for a Canada based on caring for the earth and one another.”

Perhaps these words from Turkish author and playwright Mehmet Murat ildan sum it up best:

“Postman’s bag is always heavy because it carries the life itself: it carries all the sorrows and all the joys, all the worries and all the hopes!”

Anne Ehret worked as a letter carrier in Vancouver for three years in the early 1970s. More recently, she spends what time she can creating community, in collaboration between a woman’s group in Canada and Mali, or getting involved in a local refugee initiative. 

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Categories: News for progressives

U.S. mid-term election has been a story of bigotry and fear

Tue, 2018-11-06 03:24
November 5, 2018U.S. mid-term election has been a story of bigotry and fear Canadians will be keeping a close eye on the results of the November 6 elections south of the border as we will have to deal with the consequences of the choices Americans make.
Categories: News for progressives

U.S. mid-term election has been a story of bigotry and fear

Tue, 2018-11-06 03:22
Karl Nerenberg

Never before have Canadians been so interested in a U.S. mid-term election campaign as they are in the current one.

While there have been tensions aplenty between Canada and the U.S. in the past, no U.S. president prior to the current one ever expressed such open hostility toward Canada. That would be reason enough for Canadians to pay close heed to what happens on Tuesday, November 6.  And yet, that is not the main reason for the high level of Canadian interest.

The main reason is best summed up in a disillusioned comment former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press on Sunday.

Brokaw noted that a man openly shouting “death to the Jews” as he murdered 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue just as authorities were charging an avowed Donald Trump admirer for sending pipe bombs to a number of Trump’s most prominent critics. And yet, one week later, hardly anyone on the campaign trail evokes those horrific incidents.

Instead, the Trump camp has successfully shifted the focus to a caravan of Honduran refugees making its way through Mexico to the U.S. border.

Trump calls this group of desperate people – which includes many children – invaders. The president claims, outrageously and based on no facts, that hiding in the caravan are Islamic State terrorists and criminals intent on wreaking havoc and chaos in the U.S.

Trump has ostentatiously sent thousands of troops to “defend” the southern U.S. border. Self-appointed vigilantes who live near the U.S.-Mexico border are organizing to resist this “invasion,” guns at the ready.

Taking a leaf from an earlier Republican attack

The president does not merely make these claims from podiums at rallies. He and his allies are running lurid ads denouncing the Honduran refugees. They connect the caravan with the story of a Latin American migrant who, a number of years ago, killed two U.S. police officers.

The producers of the ad managed to find video of that convicted murderer leering and laughing. Their message is anything but subtle. They falsely accuse the Democrats of having allowed the Latin American criminal to get into the country, and then add that Democrats advocate for “open borders,” thus inviting dangerous hordes from the south to invade the U.S. to steal jobs and undermine public services.

Many in the U.S. media decry this shameless use of the big lie. Many others, however, including a good many Republican candidates and right-wing media, like Fox News, are happy to embrace and amplify Trump’s message.

The caravan ad and accompanying rhetoric are a more extreme version of the infamous Willie Horton ad from the 1988 presidential campaign, in which the senior Bush (George H. W.) defeated Massachusetts governor, Democrat Michael Dukakis.

Horton was on a furlough from a life term in prison when he committed a number of violent crimes, including rape. He was also black. Republicans and their allies used ads featuring images of the sinister-looking convicted felon to accuse Dukakis of being weak on crime. The tactic worked well. Dukakis had been well ahead in the polls, but lost badly on election day.  

Few in the U.S. note the cruel irony that, based on his social media posts, the accused mass murderer in Pittsburgh, Robert Bowers, was, in large measure, motivated by hatred and fear of the Honduran refugee caravan.

In postings on the website Gab, Bowers described the Hondurans as invaders who planned to kill “his people.” He believed a Jewish immigrant aid group, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), was helping the refugees, and that’s why he targeted a Jewish institution.

Amazingly, Trump and his acolytes picked up Bowers’ “invaders” theme after the synagogue shooting and arrest. It seems Republicans do not fear association with a vicious bigot involved in the worst incident of anti-Semitic violence in U.S. history.

A strategy that worked for Trump in 2016

Indeed, Trump is nothing if not almost naïvely transparent about his motives for targeting the Honduran caravan.

He admits that the synagogue shooting and pipe bomb incidents appeared to have slowed down his party’s momentum, which, he claims, picked up following the bruising Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination process.

Trump claims that by pressing hard on the anti-immigration button, he is exciting his political base and reviving that momentum.

Democrats remain confident despite Trump’s campaign of fear and loathing. Pundits and pollsters believe the Democrats have an excellent chance of re-taking the House of Representatives this time. For the Senate, however, the electoral map is daunting for Democrats. Senators are elected for staggered six-year terms and, this year, of the 36 Senate seats at play, Republicans occupy only eight.

All 435 seats in the House are at stake. House members are elected for two-year terms. Yet, even there, many observers, among them a good number of Democrats, fear another surprise along the lines of 2016, when, up to the last day, every poll and every pundit predicted a Hillary Clinton victory.  Fear, however unfounded and based on nothing more than prejudice, is, it seems, a powerful motivator.

To Canadians, all of the above should make of the 2018 mid-terms a ghoulish and frightful spectacle, mitigated only partially by the fact that, based on the early vote, young people and women seem to be participating in record numbers.

On this side of the border, Trump is not without allies here. 

Ontario premier Doug Ford is on the same page as the U.S. president on climate change, and the founder of the new Peoples’ Party, Maxime Bernier, has a similar attitude to Trump’s toward borders and refugees.

Even Bernier’s former Conservative Party and its leader Andrew Scheer have mercilessly and relentlessly attacked the Liberals for being soft on the so-called queue jumpers who cross into Canada from the U.S. through open fields and unguarded back roads to seek asylum.

We in Canada cannot vote south of the border, but we will inevitably have to deal with the consequences of the choices Americans make.

This time, Canadians will be watching to see if U.S. voters will ignore concerted efforts to scare them and appeal to the darker voices of their collective consciousness and do something to limit the power of the current reckless occupant of the White House.

Karl Nerenberg has been a journalist and filmmaker for more than 25 years. He is rabble's politics reporter.

Photo: Wil C. Fry/Flickr


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Categories: News for progressives

This November, shine a light on gendered violence

Mon, 2018-11-05 07:40
Doreen Nicoll

November is Woman Abuse Prevention month in Ontario. It’s important to remember that intimate partner violence is not a women’s issue, it’s actually a men’s issue -- they are the ones inflicting the harm -- and a human rights issue. Not all men are abusive, but we need the good guys to be allies in the fight to eradicate violence against women and girls.

Here are important facts you should know:

  • A woman is assaulted an average of 35 times before she calls the police the first time.
  • According to Statistics Canada, 70 per cent of spousal violence is never reported to police.
  • On average, a woman leaves an abusive relationship seven times before she is successful.
  • Her chances of being murdered increase nine-fold once she leaves her abuser.
  • Every six days a Canadian woman is murdered by her current or former partner.
  • Every four days a Canadian woman is murdered by a family member.

The Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC) was established 13 years ago “to assist the Office of the Chief Coroner in the investigation and review of deaths of persons that occur as a result of domestic violence, and to make recommendations to help prevent such deaths in similar circumstances.”

During that time, the DVDRC has established that intimate partner femicides are predictable and preventable.

The DVDRC created a list of 39 risk factors involved in cases of lethality. Here are the top 10 factors:

  • A history of violence (72 per cent)
  • Pending or current separation (69 per cent)
  • The perpetrator is depressed (54 per cent)
  • Obsessive behaviour by the perpetrator (53 per cent)
  • There was an escalation of violence (49 per cent)
  • Prior threats or attempts by the perpetrator to commit suicide (44 per cent)
  • Prior threats to kill the victim (44 per cent)
  • Prior attempts to isolate the victim (42 per cent)
  • The perpetrator is unemployed (41 per cent)
  • Victim has an intuitive sense of fear toward the perpetrator (38 per cent)

When several of these factors occur simultaneously, it's a clear indication of impending lethality.

In almost every case, at least one person outside the intimate relationship was aware that something was terribly wrong. But, individuals are reticent to take action because they don’t know what to do.

Woman Abuse Prevention month is usually a time of heightened awareness and opportunities for the public to learn more about this growing pandemic.

But, a search for panels, workshops, community movie nights, and discussions proved fruitless.

In light of this dearth of information, I suggest you check out the Neighbours, Friends and Family (NFF) website to learn the warning signs of abuse and how to safely intervene before it becomes lethal. The NFF site provides information on running your own lunch-and-learn event at work, places of worship, and for interested community groups.

There’s information on identifying and helping a woman at risk; how to talk to men who are abusive; safety planning for women who are abused; and a wide array of infographics and information sheets to share.

At the end of November, the Ontario Association for Interval and Transition Houses publishes its Femicide List, an accounting of all of the women who have been murdered by their intimate partner in Ontario during the past year. The list also includes all femicides or women who have been murdered simply because they were women.

November is a month to learn more about becoming an ally for your mom, sisters, aunties, cousins, co-workers, shop clerks, waitresses, or postal workers who are living with, leaving and healing from gendered violence.

Shine a purple light on gendered violence to make it impossible to hide.

Photo:  Devon Buchanan/Flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

Ottawa school board needs to fully engage black community

Sat, 2018-11-03 02:38
Richard Sharpe

“We are so proud of how your group has advocated for your community.” This comment, made by an Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) superintendent, was directed at me after I had given a presentation on the need for race-based data to support anti-racism initiatives in the school board.

A coalition of black community members had begun interventions at the OCDSB over a year ago to push for direct engagement on equity issues. The official’s comment was made in reference to the board’s response to our demands. However, I couldn’t help but interpret it as a figurative pat on the head.

It is not what we are looking for.

I became involved in school board issues last year, when my son was added to the long list of black youth suspended from Ottawa schools. He was suspended for challenging an administrator over what he believed to be racial profiling. As I sought community support to deal with the suspension, I was struck by the fact that almost every black family I encountered had similar experiences. It became clear that this was a systemic problem and that we needed hard data to support our stories.

Just a few months later, the Ontario government issued a directive that all provincially regulated institutions collect disaggregated race-based data to better understand what happens when racialized citizens interface with those institutions.

With that in mind, the coalition was formed to insist that school boards start collecting the data immediately, and that black communities be present through every step of the process. Through our efforts, we were able to force the issue onto the agenda of the school board.

But there has not been a legitimate invitation to us to be at the table as the school board moves forward on design and implementation of a process. We are effectively being told that this is not our place.

After the end of formalized enslavement of black people in Canada in 1834, human bondage was replaced by Jim Crow laws to keep the races separate. The “N” word was replaced by “Negro,” a word not so directly associated with the whips and chains of those earlier years of Canada’s nationhood, but the rules along class and race lines were clear. The term Negro effectively robs us of our connection to our original language, cultural and geographic origins. The term defines us only by our skin colour. For a long time, the term, along with the other societal drivers of the state, framed the status of black people as second-class citizens. We had no real voice in the institutions that impacted our daily lives.

Speed forward to 2016 where, under the backdrop of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, came a UN review of the state of blacks in Canada. The working group outlined 42 recommendations to address anti-black racism across federal, provincial and municipal governments and public institutions. The education systems across the country were called out for practices that adversely targeted black children and disenfranchised their families. This reality we share with our Indigenous sistren and brethren. The OCDSB was one of those school boards interviewed by the UN working group.

For decades, black communities in Ottawa have been saying that the elementary and secondary school systems in this city disproportionately target black children. Black kids are being suspended or expelled for minor offenses or streamed into lower level programs that deny them access to university courses and the higher paying, more fulfilling careers that flow from them. All the while, we were told by board officials “Don’t worry, we know what’s best for your children. We will institute diversity and inclusion training and workshops.”

That, obviously, has not worked so well for us.

Even after the OCDSB adopted, to much fanfare, a proclamation in support of the International Decade for People of African Descent that explicitly speaks to the board’s commitment to engage black communities, we remain sidelined. What we were told by the superintendent after my presentation that evening was that the OCDSB will inform us after their consultant has developed the methodology that will be used to conduct the work.

Although the “N” word has never been verbally directed at us, we continue to hear the refrain.

That we continue to be excluded from this critical work remains unacceptable and reminds us of how we have been treated historically. 

Given the systemic failure of school boards over the decades to address our legitimate concerns, we have very little trust that, if left solely to themselves, the right questions, approaches and methodologies will be used to give us a true picture of what is happening to our children in their schools. This is not just an equity and inclusion issue. This is, at its core, a human rights issue.

After shaking off the vestiges of slavery and later racial segregation that earlier generations had to endure when they came to Ontario, our communities are now comprised of academics and professionals, such as human rights lawyers and performance measurement practitioners to name a few. Our community possesses all the skills the OCDSB needs to contribute to the collection of disaggregated race-based data.

new director of education has been selected to lead the OCDSB in the new year. She is from the black community in Durham, where they grappled with and came to understand how to engage our people as key stakeholders in the success of schooling for our children. We welcome this development. However, will this incoming professional be shackled by a data-collection process that the OCDSB put in place prior to her arrival? Will the process and methodology meet the needs and expectations of Ottawa’s black communities? Will the black communities buy in? Or are we going to be forced to collect our own disaggregated data? What does true parent and community engagement actually look like?

Despite how black folk, as citizens and taxpayers, continue to be treated by the school board, our place is at the table with these people charting a collaborative course for the betterment of all our children.

Richard Sharpe is a community activist adn co-founder of the 613/819 Black Hub. He can be reached by email at richard.sharpe.d@gmail.com.

Photo: Kt Ann/Flickr

Categories: News for progressives

Ontario should extend moratorium on new permits to take groundwater for bottling

Sat, 2018-11-03 00:49
November 2, 2018EnvironmentFood & HealthOntario should extend moratorium on new permits to take groundwater for bottlingWater is a human right and should not be treated as a commodity. Tell Ontario Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks to extend the moratorium on new permits to take groundwater for bottling.
Categories: News for progressives

Federal leaders slam Trudeau’s refusal to call by-elections

Fri, 2018-11-02 00:22
Karl Nerenberg

Federal opposition leaders are joining forces to denounce Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s refusal to call by-elections in three of four vacant seats in the House of Commons.

On Tuesday, the four opposition party leaders signed a letter to the prime minister urging him to “do what’s best for Canadians” and immediately call the three other by-elections.

Earlier this week, Trudeau called a by-election to fill the vacancy in the eastern Ontario riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, which has been vacant since last May, when Conservative MP Gordon Brown died.

But, without explanation, Trudeau did not call by-elections in three other vacant ridings: Burnaby South in British Columbia, York-Simcoe in Ontario and Outremont in Quebec.

The opposition party leaders’ letter states:

“Your decision … denies hundreds of thousands of Canadians their simple democratic right to be represented in Parliament. The longstanding tradition in Canada is to call the by-elections for all vacant seats at the same time … you have offered no clear explanation as to why you only called (one) by-election … while 334,000 Canadians … continue to go without federal representation.”

The letter is signed by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Green leader Elizabeth May and Bloc Québecois leader Mario Beaulieu.

“While the parties we lead disagree on what solutions are best for the challenges facing Canadians,” the four leaders say, “we are in complete agreement that Canadians deserve to have elected representation as soon as possible.”

A number of observers have noted that the current prime minister is defying precedent by balking at promptly calling the three by-elections. For one, it is general practice to call by-elections for all vacant seats on the same day. Secondly, in the case of one of the vacant seats, Burnaby South, where Singh is a declared candidate, the ruling party generally promptly calls by-elections to allow party leaders take a seat in the House.

In the past, when other seat-less party leaders indicated their intentions to run in by-elections, the prime ministers of the day called those votes promptly and without delay. Stephen Harper, Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney all benefited from that prime ministerial courtesy. In the case of Mulroney, the man who extended him that courtesy, allowing him to quickly take his place on the opposition benches, was the current prime minister’s father, Pierre Trudeau.

According to the law, however, a prime minister can delay up to 180 days before calling a by-election. 

Photo: House of Commons

Karl Nerenberg has been a journalist and filmmaker for more than 25 years. He is rabble's politics reporter.


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Categories: News for progressives

Up for debate: Trudeau creates commission to oversee leaders’ debates

Thu, 2018-11-01 22:14
November 1, 2018For debate: Trudeau creates commission to oversee leaders’ debatesFormer governor general David Johnston will head new commission that will oversee one debate in each official language.election debatesDavid Johnston
Categories: News for progressives

For debate: Trudeau creates commission to oversee leaders’ debates

Thu, 2018-11-01 21:22
Karl Nerenberg

The Trudeau government is fulfilling an election promise to create an impartial body to oversee and organize leaders’ debates during the next election campaign -- sort of.

What the Liberals did not promise is that they would undertake this reform unilaterally, without consulting the opposition parties.

Nor did they tell Canadians this new entity would only organize one debate in each official language. There could still be other debates, organized by anyone who wants to give it a try.

The new body is to be called the Leaders’ Debates Commission and the government has chosen former governor general David Johnston to head it. Johnston will work with a seven-member advisory council. One of his first tasks will be to select the members of that council.

The commission is supposed to “enter into a contract for the production of the debates” and provide the broadcast feed free of charge. It is charged with working with political parties to negotiate terms and with media to guarantee distribution. The government wants the commission to do its best to assure the debates are available to the largest number of Canadians possible.

There’s a bit of history to that.

Last time many Canadians had no access to the debates

In 2015, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to participate in debates organized, as they had been for decades, by a consortium of the country’s largest broadcasters. Instead, he agreed to take part in an improvised series of debates, organized by a self-selected group, which included Maclean’s magazine and the Munk Centre in Toronto.

The debates were not, for the most part, broadcast nationally. In fact, a number of them were primarily available only online. None were available in all parts of the country on over-the-air (as opposed to cable) television.

Millions of Canadians were either unaware of the debates, which did not benefit from pre-publicity on any of the major networks; or, lacking computers, Internet connections or cable, had no access to them. One of Johnston’s important roles will be to assure such a situation does not recur in the next federal election campaign in 2019 – at least for the one debate in each language he will oversee.

The government has provided some basic ground rules for the debates, which the commission must respect. Notably, it has set the criteria for political parties’ participation.

To participate, parties must meet two of three conditions: They must have at least one member of Parliament. They must have also won at least four per cent of the popular vote in the last election. They must intend to run candidates in a minimum of 90 per cent of the ridings in the next election.

Those criteria mean the Green Party will be in. It did not quite get four per cent of the vote last time, but it does have one MP (its leader, Elizabeth May) and it will run candidates in at least 90 per cent of the ridings next time.

The Bloc Québécois is also in. It only runs candidates in Quebec, far from the 90-per-cent threshold, but it won more than six per cent of the vote last time and has four MPs.

Maxime Bernier’s new party did not exist last time, so it earned zero votes. But it does have one MP, its founder and leader, and Bernier has said he will run candidates in all ridings next time. If that is true, he, too, will be on the podium.

The Liberals took their time to implement this particular election promise. And they appear to consider the new commission to be, at best, a one-time-only, stop-gap measure.

One of Johnston’s key tasks will be to report to Parliament following the next election, in order to provide “lessons learned.” More important, in the government’s words, Johnston is to make “recommendations to inform the potential creation in statute of a ‘built to last’ Debates Commission.”

In other words, the current commission is not necessarily “built to last.”

Karl Nerenberg has been a journalist and filmmaker for more than 25 years. He is rabble's politics reporter.

Photo: Le Studio/Flickr


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Categories: News for progressives

Political storm brewing in Saskatchewan further risks the lives of First Nations

Thu, 2018-11-01 04:22
October 31, 2018Political storm brewing in Saskatchewan further risks the lives of First Nations It is long past the time that Saskatchewan take real steps to stem the race-based violence and deaths of First Nations from whose lands and waters every single resident benefits.SK
Categories: News for progressives

Economists' Nobel puts spotlight on climate solutions

Thu, 2018-11-01 03:16
October 31, 2018EnvironmentEconomists' Nobel puts spotlight on climate solutionsIt's refreshing to see a major economics prize recognizing work on climate change and policies that will enable the transition to an economy powered by zero-carbon energy sources.
Categories: News for progressives

Give the right a fright and support rabble.ca

Thu, 2018-11-01 01:32
rabble staff

Dear readers,

Happy Halloween! We're just over the midway point for our 2018 fall fundraiser. And we're here to ask you to help us deliver some spooks!

At rabble we know what a strange and frightening time it seems like these days. But throughout it all we remain independent, fierce, and unapologetically committed to exploring the perspectives of progressive and labour communities in Canada and around the world. Many people don't know that rabble.ca is a non-profit, feminist-run organization -- led by women since its inception in 2001, and committed to training the next generations of critical, intersectional journalists.

We think this is something to celebrate.

And what better way to celebrate on this Hallows Eve than to give the right a fright! From Doug Ford in Ontario to Jason Kenney in Alberta, to François Legault in Quebec, there are plenty of horror shows going on.

Scare them back by supporting our campaign, and helping us to grow to be the most sustainable, reader-funded non-profit media project in Canada. They'll be shaking in their boots!

We know we can count on your support, because our readers have come through for us each time. And with the upcoming 2019 federal election looming in view, we know that we have a huge responsibility on our hands to deliver the kind of conversations that corporate media is afraid to address. With the help of so many fellow change-seekers across Canada, we're confident that we can make these goals a reality.

So scare up some support for our campaign, and as a personal token of gratitude we're excited to offer you our gifts!

Support us at $5 a month and receive a copy of Corporatizing Canada: Making Business out of Public Service, a book warning us of the threat that neoliberal corporatization poses to democratic decision-making and the public at large.

Support us at $8 a month and receive this same book PLUS The Reconciliation Manifesto by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson. This book challenges virtually everything that non-Indigenous Canadians believe about their relationship with Indigenous Peoples and the steps that are needed to place this relationship on a healthy and honourable footing.


Moving against the System by David Austin, a revolutionary collection of Black radical thought from a historic event in 1968.

Will you help us to take our campaign over the top? A little bit goes a long way.

In solidarity,

rabble staff

Categories: News for progressives

Justin Trudeau should pick up phone and have Steve Bannon stopped from coming to Canada

Thu, 2018-11-01 01:11
October 31, 2018Politics in CanadaUS PoliticsJustin Trudeau should pick up phone and have Steve Bannon stopped from coming to CanadaHere's what you do, Justin Trudeau. Tell Ralph Goodale, your public safety minister, to call the CBSA right now and tell them to stop Steve Bannon at the border. Easy-peasy.
Categories: News for progressives

Will the Trudeau government 'recycle' Parks Canada 'assets'?

Wed, 2018-10-31 00:12
October 30, 2018Will the Trudeau government 'recycle' Parks Canada 'assets'?A KPMG consulting firm report prepared for Parks Canada identifies publicly owned bridges and dams for divestment. Photo: Bank Street Bridge, source: JustSomePics
Categories: News for progressives

Concern over pipeline plans likely reason why by-election in Burnaby South is not being called

Mon, 2018-10-29 22:42
October 29, 2018EnvironmentPolitics in CanadaConcern over pipeline plans likely reason why by-election in Burnaby South is not being calledThe delay in calling a by-election in B.C, where Jagmeet Singh is a declared candidate might have less to do with the NDP leader’s candidacy and more with a pipeline cutting right through the riding.Burnaby SouthTrans Mountain pipelineBC
Categories: News for progressives

Concern over pipeline plans likely reason why by-election in Burnaby South is not being called

Mon, 2018-10-29 22:37
Karl Nerenberg

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to call a by-election for early December in a vacant eastern Ontario riding, but has made a point of not calling by-elections for three other vacant seats, including, most notably, Burnaby South, where NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has declared his candidacy.

The eastern Ontario riding in question, Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, became vacant when its MP, Conservative Gordon Brown, died last May. The other vacant seats are York-Simcoe in Ontario, from which Conservative Peter Van Loan resigned at the end of September, and Outremont in Montreal, which former NDP leader Tom Mulcair officially vacated in August.

According to the law, a prime minister can delay up to 180 days (about six months) before calling a by-election. That six-month window gives heads of government a lot of latitude, but there is an unwritten expectation that they will not abuse it for partisan purposes.

The NDP is outraged that Trudeau appears to be quite capriciously delaying the three by-elections.

Burnaby South became officially vacant on September 17, which means Trudeau could delay the announcement of a by-election until March 18.  In the case of Outremont, the vote must be called no later than January 30.

Neither the PM nor his office have offered any explanation for these delays. Instead, they say the 180-day cut-off date for the eastern Ontario seat is imminent. It is, in fact, this Tuesday, October 30, while the dates for the others are further off in the future. That hardly qualifies as justification or rationale for a decision. It merely tells us what we already know.

And so, since the government refuses to provide its own explanation, we’ll try to do so here.

The Burnaby South seat was recently vacated by NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, who is now the mayor-elect of Vancouver. Of late, the riding has been looking like a very unlikely win for the Liberals. Indeed, the Liberals are so concerned about doing badly in Burnaby South that they have openly mused about the idea of not even running a candidate against NDP leader Singh. Such a gesture would, they say, be a courtesy to a party leader who does not have a seat in the House.

The reason for the downturn in Liberal fortunes in that part of British Columbia does not have much to do with the NDP leader. What hurts the Liberals is the fact that the voters of Burnaby South are, by and large, deeply unhappy with the Trans Mountain pipeline project. That twinned pipeline carrying toxic bitumen is slated to cut right through their community.

A by-election in Burnaby South could turn into something of a referendum on the $4.5-billion pipeline, which the Canadian people now own. Such a de facto plebiscite is something the Liberals want to avoid at all costs, because the pipeline project is at a highly delicate phase right now.

On orders of the federal court, the government has reopened the consultation process on the pipeline. It is studying how to mitigate the threats shipping bitumen poses to the fragile coastal environment, something it forgot to do on the first go-round. Talks have reopened with a number of Indigenous communities who have expressed profound concerns about potential impacts on their environment and way of life. The court was brutal in its assessment of the federal government’s original Indigenous consultations. It described them as the worst kind of patronizing tokenism.

Chastened by the judges’ decision, the Liberals hope they can make it all work this time.

Their game plan is for this new process to gain them at least increased, if not unanimous, buy-in. And they want to wrap it all up early in the new year, allowing them to re-start construction long before the next federal campaign. The background noise of a by-election campaign in the riding that is, in effect, ground zero for resistance to the pipeline would not be helpful.

As for Tom Mulcair’s former seat in Outremont, it is unlikely the Liberals are particularly nervous about that one.

Until Mulcair won the seat in a 2007 by-election, Outremont was about the safest Liberal seat in the country.  The Liberals had only lost it once previously, in 1988 when the Mulroney Conservatives swept Quebec in the free-trade election. 

The NDP has found itself a strong candidate for the Outremont race in Julia Sanchez, who most recently headed the Canadian Council for International Cooperation. She is articulate in both official languages and has many years of public policy experience. But in the coming by-election, she will be a distinct underdog. Her party is not polling well in Quebec and did poorly in recent by-elections there.

The Liberals would probably be quite happy to throw the dice in Outremont, and as soon as possible. Doing so would be awkward, though, because their refusal to fire the starting pistol for Burnaby South would then really stand out like a sore thumb.

And so, the citizens of a riding in Quebec and another in Ontario will have to do without representation in Parliament for a few months more, because the governing Liberals want to avoid an awkward and embarrassing political fight in British Columbia.

Karl Nerenberg has been a journalist and filmmaker for more than 25 years. He is rabble's politics reporter.

Photo: Jagmeet Singh/Flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

Trudeau goes bold on emissions; Sheer attacks, but has no plan

Fri, 2018-10-26 18:37
October 26, 2018EnvironmentPolitics in CanadaTrudeau goes bold on emissions; Sheer attacks, but has no planWith the next election one year away, the Liberals are banking that Canadians want their government to meet commitments and help reduce greenhouse gases.Justin TrudeauClimate Change
Categories: News for progressives

Trudeau goes bold on emissions; Sheer attacks, but has no plan

Fri, 2018-10-26 18:28
Karl Nerenberg

The Trudeau government has taken the bull by the horns and imposed a carbon-pricing scheme on four provinces -- Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Ontario -- which account for nearly half of Canada’s population.

Other provinces have their own mechanisms consistent with federal carbon-pricing targets. Ontario was one of those others until Doug Ford became premier and cancelled all measures designed to combat climate change. The result for Canada’s most populous province is a projected increase in carbon pollution, by the year 2030, equal to the emissions of 30 coal-fired electricity plants.

As Justin Trudeau’s Liberals promote their greenhouse-gas reduction plan, they point out that three of the cooperating provinces -- Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia -- are among the top economic performers in Canada. The Liberal message: putting a price on pollution does not kill jobs and growth. To the contrary, they say, taxing pollution actually creates good jobs.

This is a government that was elected on a pledge to focus like a laser on the economic well being of the middle class. And so, even as it takes steps to head off the global catastrophe a United Nations’ climate change panel so recently warned is imminent, the Trudeau government goes to great pains to emphasize its concern for ordinary families and their pocketbooks.

Government documents promoting its carbon-pricing measures offer few figures as to how much tax anyone will pay. What they emphasize is the need to prevent the huge and devastating damage climate change will bring, of which recent events like forest fires in B.C. and heat waves in Ontario and Quebec are mere harbingers.

The government does, on the other hand, go into great detail about the carbon-pricing rebates average families will receive, starting in the spring of 2019. Nearly three-quarters of Canadians, they say, will receive more money back than they will pay in increased fuel costs.

A two-tiered carbon-pricing system

The official opposition Conservatives claim to accept the science that tells us climate change is caused by humans. They even say they will, someday, tell Canadians their plan to reduce greenhouse gases. They are just not quite ready to make that announcement yet.

Instead of telling Canadians what they will do, Conservatives put all their energy into picking holes in the Liberal plan.

Their main line of attack is based on the fact that the government is imposing two types of carbon tax.

There is the levy of $20 per tonne of greenhouse gas, eventually rising to $50, on distributors of fossil fuels. Those distributors will, presumably, pass their increased costs on to consumers.

For large industrial emitters, there is a different mechanism, what they call an output-based carbon-pricing system.

What happens here is that the government sets an emissions limit for each industry. Companies that produce less than the limit pay no tax. Instead, they receive credits based on the difference between the limit and their emissions, which they can trade for cash with companies that produce more than their limit. Those latter companies will have a choice of paying $20 per tonne of emissions to the federal government, buying credits from other companies, implementing carbon offset measures (such as planting trees) – or undertaking a combination of all three.  

The Liberals add the important caveat that the entire package of measures aimed at industry is calibrated, in their words, to “minimize competitiveness risks for emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industrial facilities.”

Conservative leader Andrew Sheer and his opposition colleagues have seized on that “minimize risks” part. They argue that the Liberals are giving an unfair special deal to large industrial polluters, while small businesses and ordinary Canadians will have to absorb the full brunt of increased fuel costs.

Conservatives hammers this message daily in the House.

On Wednesday, October 24, Sheer accused Trudeau of protecting “large corporate emitters by giving them a massive exemption from the costs that they will have to pay.” At the same time, he said, “small businesses who will face rising fuel and home-heating costs will have to bear the brunt of his new carbon tax plan.”

The Liberals do not bother answering this argument, which simplifies their complex carbon-pricing regime beyond recognition. Instead, they pillory the Conservatives for their refusal, since the time of the previous Harper government, to commit to any sort of climate-change measure.

As Trudeau put it on Wednesday:

“We are moving forward with putting a price on pollution … something the Conservatives were unwilling and unable to do for 10 years while in government…. They have no plan to approach the fight against climate.… They want to make pollution free again.”

A polarized campaign in 2019 could help Trudeau

The NDP and Greens both offer at least qualified support for the government’s most recent move.

The NDP successfully pushed for an emergency debate on the UN report on climate change, but has held its fire in the House on the most recent developments in the government’s carbon-pricing scheme.

When asked to comment, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh expressed concern over the more than $4 billion the Liberals paid for the Trans Mountain pipeline, suggesting that money could be better invested in alternative energy solutions. He also worried, in a general way, about the impact of carbon taxes on those least able to absorb the increased costs. He did not take issue with the principle of what the government is doing.

Green leader Elizabeth May was all for the most thorough solutions during the recent emergency debate in the House. Among other measures, she called for completely getting rid of internal combustion engines and ensuring energy efficiency and retrofits for every building. The carbon-pricing measures imposed on the four provinces might not be quite so radical, but May was still happy to give the Liberals at least a passing grade, while adding that there is “much more to be done.”

“Adequate carbon pricing is a start,” she said, “but we need to eliminate the use of fossil fuels altogether, especially in the production of electricity.”

When the Liberals last adopted a carbon-tax policy, they called it a “Green Shift.” That was a bit more than a decade ago when Stéphane Dion was leader. It did not work out at that time. The Harper Conservatives lambasted the Liberals for their “tax on everything” and won the 2008 election with an increased seat count.

This time, the Liberals hope public attitudes have changed.

Since they made a point of not changing the first-past-the-post electoral system, having solemnly promised to do so multiple times, Trudeau’s party also hopes a polarized campaign between those who want to save the planet and those who deny science will drive NDP and Green voters into their arms. The next election is a year away.

Karl Nerenberg has been a journalist and filmmaker for more than 25 years. He is rabble's politics reporter.

Photo: Government of Canada

Categories: News for progressives



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