Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A letter about raising minimum wage

Re: Irene Liu’s “Raising the minimum wage isn’t a solution to student poverty” (January 24 2017)

Contrary to Irene Liu’s arguments, raising the minimum wage in Ontario to $15/hour would in fact do a great deal to alleviate poverty among students, and take a step in the right direction of reversing the low-waging of Ontario’s economy.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

For The People? Early state ownership in Ontario

October 11 1910: Ontario Hydro power is switched on for Berlin (Kitchener) 

The "Laurier Boom" spanning the late 1890s to the immediate pre-war years was the onset of municipal ownership of utilities (telephone, water, gas, streetcars, electricity). In this period, Ontario also took enormous first steps towards state ownership of industry, most famously with the 1906 creation of Ontario Hydro, but also with the formation of what we now know as Ontario Northland in 1902.

Both the political left and right often portray state ownership as a form of socialism. What is striking about this early period of municipal and state ownership of utilities and infrastructure is the degree of clarity with which Ontario's political elites rejected the claim that state ownership was socialism.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Democracy vs Confederation: Médéric Lanctôt and Les Rouges

The first Canadian red scare came in the 1860s as part of the project to push through Confederation. The Quebec Tories, led by George-Étienne Cartier and allied to John A. Macdonald's Upper Canadian Tories, were strong political allies with the Catholic Church. They waged a war on Les Rouges, a Montreal-centred political movement which carried on the radical democratic and republican politics of the 1837-38 rebellions and 1848 revolutions.

As Confederation was cobbled together by elites from each province against widespread popular opposition in the Maritimes and Quebec, the Conservative Party of Cartier and Macdonald used parliament, the pulpit, and the papers to defeat this increasingly agitational threat in Quebec. Lies, slander, religion, and organized intimidation were directed against the democratic republican movement based out of Montreal's Institut Canadien.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Worst Case Ontario? TA unions and tuition fees

The following piece tries to develop two observations in order to point towards a new strategy for fighting tuition fees in Ontario. This strategy is only sketched out and not developed. Hopefully this has some relevance to students in other provinces.
  1. Ontario's TA unions are losing the battle to defend contract language which keeps tuition fees down
  2. At present, Ontario's student movement has neither the organization or strategy to fight tuition fees

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Unions slide from unity to enmity over Tim Hudak"

Here's a huge reason why Ontario labour remains stuck and ineffective as a movement: an evolving 20-year battle at the top of the province's major unions over election strategies because there is no commitment to a political strategy that would involve serious extra-parliamentary or even workplace mobilization.

Whether campaigning openly for the NDP, or openly for Anybody-But-Hudak, or funding issue-based TV ads that lend to strategic voting, Ontario's unions have all allowed their political strategies to be narrowed and whittled down to electoralism.

Only labour's agitation for the minimum wage bucks this trend.

There are of course other issues driving these splits, but it is the political strategy of labour that has to be addressed first and foremost.

Problems of personality and territorialism will always persist but it couldn't hurt to have some new people with new ideas.

Postering etiquette 101

1. Don't poster over events that haven't happened

2. Don't poster over non-event art and political posters/statements

3. Poster over corporate bullshit

4. Keep postering to assert control over public and bogus "private" space

Friday, January 3, 2014

Debate on "Pop-up" Unions

A few articles documenting an important debate on the left over new forms of worker organization in England in the fight against privatization and contracting out at Sussex University. Also, check out Mark Bergfeld's website and writings.

New struggles, new unions? On the Pop-Up Union at Sussex University

Mark Bergfeld
Ceasefire Magazine, April 18 2013

Are "Pop-Up" unions the way forward?
Sandy Nicoll
Socialist Review, June 2013

Start with solidarity
Mark Bergfeld
Socialist Review, July 2013

The Sussex University Pop-Up Union: A Mythbuster
Mark Bergfeld
July 2013

Pop-up unions through history
Brian Parkin
August 2013