Saturday, February 28, 2009
"http://playingforchange.com - From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe."
Friday, February 27, 2009
"OTTAWA — The federal Information Commissioner is warning that Canadians' ability to get information from their government has reached a dire state.
The Harper Conservatives now routinely delay requests for government documents – a right of Canadians under the law – well beyond the 30 days that the Access to Information Act requires.
Six out of the 10 governments departments reviewed by the commissioner's office received failing grades.
“I do believe that its results provide a grim picture of the federal government's access to information regime,” Information Commissioner Robert Marleau says in a special report to Parliament."
"“Integrity and accountability will be at the forefront of our dealings as a government, and in your work as a Minister of the Crown.”– Premier Brad Wall’s mandate letter to the Hon. Rob Norris, Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour, November 7, 2007
“Saskatchewan people expect their government to be open, honest and accountable. A Saskatchewan Party Government will provide Saskatchewan people with more transparency and accountability than any previous government…”– Saskatchewan Party 2007 Election Platform
The above words appear to mean little to the Saskatchewan Party government. For the seventh time since May 2008 the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour (AEEL) has denied access to records under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in their entirety."
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama (shown above) made a very important statement that sets him apart from leaders in some other countries.
He did this when he signed his first bill into law since taking over the Oval Office. (Shown below).
On Thursday, January 29, 2009 President Obama approved equal-pay legislation when he signed the "Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act" - read the New York Times coverage here....
Canada's Prime Minister, on the other hand, isn't doing so good. The excerpt below is from the Canadian Labour Congress web-site:
"On February 6, 2009, the government tabled legislation that will radically change the rules governing pay equity in the federal public sector.
The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act - which has been included as part of the omnibus Budget Implementation Act - will remove the right of public sector workers to file complaints for pay equity with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It will transform pay equity from a human right to an "equitable compensation issue" that could be traded away at the bargaining table.
Pay equity is a fundamental human right that must not be taken away at a bargaining table where the federal government historically holds the balance of power. The Harper government has already demonstrated its commitment to legislating wage increases and undermining collective agreements. Now, women's rights will be on the chopping block.
The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act will effectively eliminate women's ability to pursue pay equity complaints by forcing them to file complaints as individuals. This bill will also impose a $50,000 fine on any union that encourages or assists their own members in filing a pay equity complaint, leaving women to fight the system unaided. Since no individual can afford to do so, this will clearly be a mockery of justice.
The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act won't help the economy or save jobs. Government officials have admitted that there's no proof it will save the government any money. However, it will prevent women in the federal public sector from receiving equal pay for work of equal value. It has no place in the budget."
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Prince Albert - March 4th, 7:00 pm at Union Centre 107 - 8th St. East
Regina - March 5th, 7:30 pm at the the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (Albert and College St.)
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Closing our borders to free speech
Is the gov’t banning picketing on public property?
Bill 43 was introduced in the fall session by the Saskatchewan Party government. ‘The Trespass to Property Act’ will make trespassing an offence in the province of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan currently has no anti-trespassing law.
Those found guilty of trespassing under the Act could be arrested by the police and fined up to $2000.
If Bill 43 passes, it will be an offense to be on any “premises” without the consent of the owner. Not only that, the onus will be on the accused to prove that he or she has the consent of the owner to be there.
So why did the government introduce this bill? Justice critic Frank Quennel has asked in the legislature for the rationale behind the bill, but so far no answers have been given.
Some people have suggested that trespassing in farmers’ fields is a problem, for example snowmobilers who cause damage to private property.
Others suggest that owners of strip malls are tired of non-customers loitering in their parking lots.
For these reasons, one might conclude that a ban on trespassing on private property is sensible.
But what about public property?
Bill 43 defines “premises” as “any land or water in the province”. The Act does not apply to vacant Crown agricultural land, Crown resource land, or provincial parks. But what about public space like sidewalks, roadways, highways, and all other publicly owned land? They are not mentioned as exceptions.
Typically union members use public sidewalks, highways, and other common areas such as the steps of the legislature to hold rallies and demonstrations. Could workers be found in violation of bill 43 and subject to stiff fines?
Of course it’s not just the labour movement who hold protests. Farmers’ organizations hold public rallies. And how about anti-poverty organizations and gay pride marches?
People from the left and the right hold pickets on public property. And while not everyone agrees with every political statement, in a democracy, we support one another’s freedom to express ourselves.
Every citizen is guaranteed the freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Did the Saskatchewan Party government intend to create a law that violates a fundamental Charter right?
If there really is a need for the province to ban trespassing on private property, it would be simple to fix the wording of bill 43. Exempt public property from the definition of “premises”. This amendment would reassure citizens that the right to peacefully picket, rally, protest or demonstrate will remain intact.
Bill 43 has passed second reading and expected to come back to the legislature in March.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
"From Venezuela's Communal Councils, to Brazil's Participatory Budgeting, from Constitutional Assemblies to grassroots movements, recuperated factories to cooperatives across the hemisphere. This documentary is a journey, which takes us across the Americas, to attempt to answer one of the most important questions of our time: What is Democracy?"http://www.beyondelections.com/
Thursday, February 19, 2009
"As many as 5,000 children in Pennsylvania have been found guilty, and up to 2,000 of them jailed, by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities that benefited. The two judges pleaded guilty in a stunning case of greed and corruption that is still unfolding. Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan received $2.6 million in kickbacks while imprisoning children who often had no access to a lawyer. The case offers an extraordinary glimpse into the shameful private prison industry that is flourishing in the United States." read more.....
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
This is a bit dated (one year) but it's still very relevant, especially given Canadian PM Stephen Harper and his government's contempt for women and pay equity.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Davos: World Unions Call for Action Against Corporate Grand Theft
"Davos 30 January 2009: Global trade unions have welcomed the comments by US President Barack Obama over “shameful” bonuses ripped out of failing banks and businesses in recent months, as tens of millions of workers worldwide face loss of their jobs and homes and yet more businesses hit the wall.
Corporate bonuses in the US actually increased by 14% overall in 2008, as top executives in finance and industry, many from companies heading for bankruptcy, rewarded themselves for abject failure and pushed the global economy to the brink of recession.
“Companies receiving public bailouts are inventing the latest financial innovation – recycling taxpayers’ money into company bonuses. This is nothing less than grand corporate grand theft, and sadly it is not limited to the US,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder. “Some of the culprits should be behind bars instead of propping up the bars here in Davos. Their actions will further inflame the rage which is mounting all over the world,” he added.
In one of the most outrageous cases, Merrill Lynch bosses gave themselves over US$3 billion as they cleared their desks a few days before the faltering bank was taken over by Bank of America. Bank of America itself has attracted a storm of criticism following exposure of its campaign against proposed improvements on US workers’ rights after receiving a massive government bailout.
Wall Street’s US$18 billion bonuses last year were mirrored in several other countries, especially where governments copied the disastrous US deregulation experiment. This amount alone could have provided two years’ education for the 75 million children around the world who have no school to go to. It would save millions of jobs if put in the pockets of the working people who really create wealth.
“Perhaps most outrageous of all, the very same financiers who created and promoted this failed system seem to still have the inside track advising governments how to come out of the crisis. This will only further inflame the growing anger of ordinary people across the planet – anger which will not go away while working families are paying the price with their jobs and their homes,” said Guy Ryder.
The ITUC represents 168 million workers in 316 affiliated national organisations from 157 countries."
Monday, February 16, 2009
"Pay equity" bill threatens women's rights
Changes make it difficult to file complaint, including $50,000 fine for union help.
OTTAWA, February 12, 2009 — The Public Service Alliance of Canada is encouraging opposition members to remove legislation from the budget bill that would prevent women in the federal public sector from demanding equal pay for work of equal value.
The 166,000-member union is concerned that the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act will remove women's ability to file pay equity complaints, making the process even more difficult than the current complaints-based system.
On Thursday, February 12, John Baglow interviewed PSAC President John Gordon for PublicValues.ca about what the alliance views as an attack on rights. A clip of that video is posted here:
The "pay equity" bill is part of the omnibus Budget Implementation Act (Bill C-10), which was tabled on February 7, 2009. PSAC refutes the notion that this legislation is "proactive," given that it ignores the recommendations made in the well-respected 2004 report from the federal Task Force on Pay Equity. The union contends that the new scheme would make a bad system much worse, removing pay equity's status as a human right and opening it up to market forces.
According to PSAC, The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act undermines pay equity in the following ways:
• It transforms pay equity into an "equitable compensation issue" that must be discussed at the bargaining table — even though fundamental human rights should never be negotiable.
• It makes it more difficult to claim pay equity, by changing the definition of a "female predominant" job group to require that women make up 70 percent of workers in the position.
• It redefines the criteria used to evaluate whether jobs are of "equal" value, leaving pay equity up to the fluctuations of the market.
• It forces individual women to make pay equity claims without any support — in fact it would impose a $50,000 fine on any union for encouraging or assisting their own members in filing a pay equity complaint.
"Pay equity is a fundamental human right that should not be taken away at a bargaining table where the employer historically holds the balance of power," said John Gordon, PSAC National President. "The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act is a regressive piece of legislation that threatens to widen the income gap between women and men in the federal public sector. We urge the opposition parties to unite to remove The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act from Bill C-10."
Links and sources The Public Service Alliance of Canada
Posted: February 12, 2009
Public Values (PublicValues.ca) is a project of the Golden Lake Institute and the online publication StraightGoods.ca
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
"Canada needs an open Internet
CRTC investigating Internet throttling
Bell and other corporate giants such as Rogers and Shaw currently have free rein to "throttle" service to their retail customers and those small companies that rent portions of Bell's network to competitively provide internet service to Canadians.
The CRTC is conducting a detailed investigation of this Internet traffic management by Canada's big telecoms. Submissions from the public and hearings later this year are part of that probe.
Canadians must seize this opportunity to tell the CRTC that it must ensure we have an open, fast and accessible Internet in this country."
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Obama Caps Executive Pay Tied To Bailout Money"WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama imposed a $500,000 pay cap on some senior executives whose firms receive government financial rescue money, a dramatic intervention into corporate governance in the midst of financial crisis." Read full article here including speech transcript....
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
(View source article here....)
Financial elite have no shame
.Even in face of crisis, they continue to push for tax cuts instead of stimulus..
- by Linda McQuaigDateline: Monday, January 26, 2009.Let's imagine, for a moment, how different the public debate would be today if it had been unions that had caused the current economic turmoil.
.In other words, try to imagine a scenario in which union leaders – not financial managers – were the ones whose reckless behaviour had driven a number of Wall Street firms into bankruptcy and in the process triggered a worldwide recession..[ Surely it's time to rethink this resistance to government acting as an agent of the common good. ].Needless to say, it's hard to imagine a labour leader being appointed to oversee a bailout of unions the way former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson was put in charge of supervising the $700 billion bailout of his former Wall Street colleagues..My point is simply to note how odd it is that the financial community has emerged so unscathed, despite its central role in the collapse that has brought havoc to the world economy.
.Of course, not all members of the financial community were involved in Wall Street's wildly irresponsible practices of bundling mortgages into securities and trading credit default swaps. But the financial community as a whole, on both sides of the border, certainly pushed hard to put in place an agenda of small government, in which financial markets largely regulated themselves and citizens (particularly high-income investors) would be spared the burden of paying much tax.
.The agenda advanced much further in the US, but had an impact in Canada, particularly on the tax front..One would think that those who pushed this agenda so enthusiastically would, at the very least, be a tad embarrassed today.
.But so influential are those in the financial elite – and their hangers-on in think-tanks and economics departments – that they continue to appear on our TV screens, confidently providing us with economic advice, as if they'd played no role whatsoever in shaping our economic system for the past quarter century..Of course, we're told there's been a major change in their thinking, in that many of them are now willing to accept large deficits in today's federal budget, in the name of stimulating the economy.
.While this does seem like a sharp departure from the deficit hysteria of the 1990s, a closer look reveals the change may not be that significant..In fact, financial types have always accepted deficits – when they liked the cause. Hence their lack of protest over George W Bush's enormous deficits, which were caused by his large tax cuts for the rich and his extravagant foreign wars.
.What they don't like is governments going into deficit to help ordinary citizens – either by creating jobs or providing much unemployment relief..So the Canadian financial community has been urging that the stimulus package consist mostly of income tax cuts – even though direct government spending would provide much more stimulus and do more to help the neediest.
.If the Harper government follows the financial community's advice, we will simply move further along with the small government revolution launched by Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s..Of course, tax cuts are not the same as financial deregulation. But they are twin prongs of a bundled package aimed at reducing the power of government to operate in the public interest.
.Surely it's time to rethink this resistance to government acting as an agent of the common good. And maybe it's time for a little humility on the part of a financial elite that long has enjoyed such deference while turning out to be so spectacularly inept.