Wednesday 31 October 2007

The Privatization Chameleons

When B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell ran for election in 2001 - as part of his campaign he promised he wouldn't privatize public services and B.C. Crowns. That promise lasted about 3 seconds after he was elected.

Read the Tyee article published yesterday entitled: Public Jobs Went Private, Work Life Soured, to see how it has all played out.

There are numerous other examples of where the Gordon Campbell government basically ripped up duly negotiated collective agreements, fired (mostly) women workers, privatized and contracted out their jobs to multi-national corporations, and then the workers got their old jobs back at 1/2 the wages. Thereby totally ignoring, and violating the workers Constitutional and Charter Rights. The Supreme Court of Canada found the B.C. Government guilty of the above.

Makes one question the sincerity and honesty of any ideologically right-of-centre party when they are prepared to "say whatever it takes to get elected."

Check out today's posting over at "Owls and Roosters" for further analysis of the Sask. Party privatization plans "Enterprise Saskatchewan" style. Click on: Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall ducks tough questions on Enterprise Saskatchewan; Industry and Resources employees could lose jobs.

See any potential similarities?

Monday 29 October 2007

We have a choice ......

Corporate Spin Doctors will never quit - Why would they let the truth get in the way?

A column recently appeared in the Globe and Mail, written by Judith Maxwell, suggesting that momentum is building for provinces and territories to sign on to the anti-democratic B.C./Alberta Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA).

A rebuttal has been written by Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Trade Committee Chair, Gary Schoenfeldt and is reproduced below:

"This is pure Bay Street propaganda from the Globe and Mail.

Saskatchewan rejected TILMA on the grounds that it threatens democracy by taking decisions on local procurement and local regulations of benefit to communities away from governments, placing those decisions in the hands of unaccountable appointed tribunals.

Maxwell thinks that by telling the public that "Momentum is building", she can ignore the fact that TILMA is stalled, that the people in BC and Alberta, who were never consulted when that back-room deal was signed are waking up to the fact that their governments have sold them out to a business lobby headed by the CD Howe Institute and its Chamber of Commerce cronies.

Maxwell has somehow overlooked the mass of academic research showing that TILMA is a massive attack on democracy, that there are no significant barriers to internal trade or to labour mobility and that the intent of TILMA is a deregulatory mechanism safe from "interference" by democratically elected governments. If TILMA can be said to have generated any momentum at all, it would have to be with respect to the massive opposition to it that has been seen across Canada particularly in Saskatchewan where it was rejected.

Maxwell should take note of the fact that the CD Howe Institute took a beating on TILMA when it tried to hold a secret meeting to drum up support in Saskatchewan in 2007. She should write a story about the resistance to TILMA that continues to develop across the country.

Gary Schoenfeldt
CEP Vice-president,
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour"

Saturday 27 October 2007

Labour legislation and Crown corporations would be among targets for first Legislative session of a Brad Wall government

Check out the most recent entries on the "Owls and Roosters Blog" for a couple of insightful analyses of Brad Wall's "Enterprise Saskatchewan".

Joe Kuchta makes a compelling argument that Enterprise Saskatchewan is what a Brad Wall government would use as it's Privatization Machinery, and the vehicle he would use to attack labour standards, workers rights, and any number of other "so-called" irritants to business.

The following two entries are well worth the read:

1. Saskatchewan Party: Labour legislation and Crown corporations among targets for first Legislative session of a Brad Wall government

2. Saskatchewan Party platform misleading voters on Crowns; Enterprise Saskatchewan lacks transparency; social policies overlooked; TILMA revisited

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Sask. Chamber of Commerce continues campaign of misinformation

Below is an excerpt from Leader Post Business Columnist Bruce Johnstone's October 23, 2007 article.
"The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce is calling for "balanced'' labour legislation, including mandatory secret ballot certification votes, that would offset the perception of "pro-union'' bias in provincial labour laws.

But the head of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour says the chamber is simply rehashing old "myths'' about the province's labour laws in order to prop up its ideological soul mate, the Saskatchewan Party."

Read the full article here.

Saturday 20 October 2007

SFL to hold 52nd Annual Convention - Oct. 24-26

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour will hold it's 52nd Annual Convention at TCU Place in Saskatoon from October 24 - 26, 2007.

The 3 day - delegated convention will be attended by some 600 registered delegates and is open to observers from the public and the media.

For a complete copy of the tentative agenda click here.

Because I will be pre-occupied with Convention and with my pre-convention executive meeting I won't be doing much blogging for the entire week.

Olbermann: Bush Approval Rating 24% - WWIII?

Ground rules

I see there has been a bit of activity on the blog while I've been out and about today. Thanks to each of you for participating here.

In the interest of keeping things civil I am going to set down a few expectations. All opinions and points of view are welcome here, however I am asking that contributors be respectful and refrain from vulgarity, inappropriate comments and personal attacks on others.

Please feel free to debate as vigorously and passionately as you want - but I am asking that folks exhibit a level of maturity and resist resorting to inappropriate comment, hateful remarks, and name calling. I'm sure each of us knows when that point has been reached.

If the dialogue deterioriates - I'll be using my prerogative as the blog owner to delete comments that cross the line.

Sask. Party candidate denies connection

Joe Kuchta over at the "Owls and Roosters" blog has just posted an entry analysing the link between the Sask. Party and the Sask. Federal Conservatives. Click here.

Friday 19 October 2007

Blog Postings Hitting a Nerve with Mainstream Media

Leader-Post political columnist, Murray Mandryk (in an October 19 article) raises a number of questions regarding my recent postings identifying that certain businesses, and some in the main-stream media are making financial contributions to political parties. He then goes to great length to outline things I "didn't say" in these blog postings.

The postings referred to by Mandryk are: here and here.

Had Murray bothered to pick up the phone and call me to ask me his questions - I would have gladly responded and answered any questions or concerns he has.

You see, I'm not in charge of how political parties file their returns related to disclosure of political party revenues and expenditures. That is "their" legal obligation, not mine.

Mandryk seems to have completely missed the point - which is simply this: Business is participating in the electoral process in a very, very, very significant way. They contribute millions of dollars every year to political parties, and they lobby constantly. They occupy the halls of power (at every level) and they wield significant influence over political parties and over government policy. (Aided at every level by many in the main-stream media - which they own, and control).

The playing field is not level, and there are far more "suits" - "lawyers" - "representatives of the business crowd" - and "corporate lobbyists" constantly walking the halls of the legislatures and parliaments of this country than there are regular working stiffs.

So for some in the media to get righteously indignant that labour and unions are participating in the electoral process (all the while pretending that business is not) is quite frankly biased and distorted.

Workers and their unions have a rightful place in the electoral process:
"Free expression in the labour context benefits not only individual workers and unions, but also society as a whole. In Lavigne v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, [1991] 2 S.C.R. 211, the reasons of both La Forest and Wilson JJ. acknowledged the importance of the role played by unions in societal debate ......... As part of the free flow of ideas which is an integral part of any democracy, the free flow of expression by unions and their members ...... brings the debate on labour conditions into the public realm."

- Supreme Court of Canada, January 2002

Sunday 14 October 2007

Saskatchewan Party donors: City of Regina, Saskatoon Centennial Auditorium, U of S, U of R, RREDA, SUMA, SAHO, SARM, SIAST, CTV & Rawlco Radio

Check out this brand new posting by Joe Kuchta over at the Owls and Roosters Blog. It has taken the material linked to in my previous posting "Who Controls Whom" and detailed the significant contributions of corporations and the media to the Sask. Party.

It also raises serious questions about why certain "publicly funded institutions" are making contributions to the Sask. Party. In other words: Who authorized that?

p.s. So perhaps someone can explain to me what the "Community Owned" Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club is doing giving $650.16 to the Sask. Party?

Friday 12 October 2007

Who Controls Whom?

You'd think from listening to the rantings of various "shout radio" hosts that certain political parties are controlled by the "Big Bad Unions". In that regard I suggest you look at the facts about who controls whom.

Below are snapshots of funding details taken from the Annual Returns of the Sask. Party and the NDP, filed with the Chief Electoral Office of Saskatchewan for the 2006 fiscal year. What it clearly reveals is that if anybody is being controlled by anybody it's the Sask. Party who is in the hip pocket of the business crowd.

Look at these facts

..... From the NDP 2006 Return:

..... Class of .......... Number of ........ Value of
..... Contributor ..... Contributors ..... Contributions

..... Corporations ............ 52 ........... $165,348
..... Unions ................... 10 .............. 27,207

..... From the Sask Party 2006 Return:

..... Class of .......... Number of ........ Value of
..... Contributor ..... Contributors ..... Contributions

..... Corporations ......... 880 ............. $668,016
..... Unions ................. Nil ................. Nil

Conclusion: Corporations have far more influence on the policies of Political Parties than any union would ever have. Especially the Sask. Party.

Who Controls Whom - Indeed!

See the full reports here:
New Democratic Party
Sask. Party

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Friday 5 October 2007

The Saskatchewan Party & Canadian Federation of Independent Business: Tax cuts, deregulation, attacking the Crowns and labour

Joe Kuchta over at the Owls and Roosters Blog has just done a masterful job of exposing the link between the Sask. Party and the CFIB. Below is just a small excerpt of the fantastic research and analytical work Joe has done .

“My party has had a very good relationship with your organization through the years and that will absolutely not change under my leadership. The position the CFIB puts forward, for the most, reflect our own.”
– Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party Leader, in a March 31, 2004 letter to Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Director, Provincial Affairs Saskatchewan, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

“I encourage you to urge business owners to participate in our “Stop the Job Killing Monster” Campaign which can [be] accessed on our website…I would also like to offer my cooperation and any resources which may be of assistance to the Saskatchewan Business Council in opposing this policy of government directed hours.”
– Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party Leader, in a December 14, 2004 letter to Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Director, Provincial Affairs Saskatchewan, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

I encourage you to take the time to read the entire posting - it is insightful, revealing and comprehensive.

Thursday 4 October 2007

The Greed of the Business Crowd never stops

So the CFIB and certain other unenlightened self-proclaimed spokespersons for the business crowd are flipping their corks over the announced increases to the minimum wage.

In one breath they say virtually nobody pays minimum wage (i.e. everybody pays above it) so it's a moot point, and then in the next breath - they say it's a tax grab. Huh?!

Then the CFIB spokesperson bemoans that between 2005 and the scheduled increase in 2009 minimum wage will have gone up 40%. Well how much has the cost of gas, or of buying a home gone up? Or how about rent??? Two days ago I read a story that some students in Saskatoon just had their rent jacked up by 250%. The CFIB is strangely silent on those facts.

Just like they ignore the fact that in the last two provincial budgets the government gave the business crowd $660,000,000.00 (that's a whopping 660 million dollars) over three years in corporate tax breaks.

They complain that it might cost a restaurant employing 25 workers an additional $16,000 per year. Restaurants like this???? Restaurants that simply steal it from the workers with no consequences.

Is there no end to the GREED of these people?

Wednesday 3 October 2007

The Truth about the SFL Labour Issues Campaign

In the October 3, 2007 issue of the Regina Leader-Post; political columnist Murray Mandryk takes shots at the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour's current Labour Issues Campaign. Mandryk describes the SFL Campaign using such words as "sanctimonious", "self-satisfied", "hypocritical" and numerous other harsh adjectives.

Not once does he accept, nor even acknowledge that working people, and their democratic organizations have a rightful and important role to play in the functioning of a free and democratic society. He dismisses the values and legitimate issues of working people as irrelevant, or secondary to those he seems to view as worthy of consideration.

Contrary to what Mandryk would have one believe - the labour movement is modern, sophisticated, analytical, highly relevant and reflective of it's membership. The SFL campaign is based on issues that have been identified by regular working people as extremely important.

Reproduced below is just one of the responses I have received to Mandryk's October 3rd column.

Mr. Mandryk comes close to the truth. This election, as all elections should be, is about the truth about politics and political philosophy. The Saskatchewan way of life we seek to protect has a historical political culture that is different than almost every other place in North America. Elections give us a choice every four or five years to have a say in our political direction, to have a say about what our hard earned tax dollars are spent on and to influence the nature of our society.

Of critical importance are things like our health, education and social climate, our environment, and the quality of our working conditions. We all know this truth. So, when we do get this one time chance, what matters. Parties make promises, some they keep, some they don’t. We have Medicare, a publicly funded and publicly owned and operated health care system which is admired worldwide.

This concept gives us a say between elections about how we spend our money and what services we need and desire. This is what social democratic politics has given us.

Corporate politics or conservative politics have always opposed this and constantly promote privatizing. This makes profits the primary concern and takes decision making away from citizens and puts them in corporate boardrooms, some located way outside Saskatchewan and even Canada. The profits leave here.

This is also true for our essential utilities and other important services. Social democratic politics created them and promotes them, giving citizens a say between elections about what our services should be and keeping the surplus money for use to expand and improve those services and to support community programs with donations and grants. Corporate or conservative politics promotes reducing or eliminating the role of government and giving private corporations control. Profit becomes the primary purpose and that money leaves Saskatchewan and even Canada.

We can say the same for cleaning up the environment, promoting and developing education and providing public transport. Social democratic politics supports keeping me and you, the citizens, in control of what we need and want and using surpluses to do what we want. Corporate or conservative politics promotes private business having that control and makes profits the main objective. Our history includes the building of the co-operative movement and the labour movement, both of which encourage and protect citizens having a say in very important parts of our lives. This is social democratic politics. Corporate or conservative politics promotes private corporations owned by people outside Saskatchewan and Canada where profit controls those matters.

We have a choice at election time over which of these two political concepts we want to govern our lives. The truth is that one is based upon what citizens choose, the other is based upon the market and profit. The extent to which they are open and honest about that and the extent to which either is successful in governing within their true political philosophy is always up for debate and is affected by many other things.

What is clear is that they come from a totally different view about the role of citizens, (we, the people), in having a say over our lives and the lives of our children. Our tradition is to try to respect and nurture citizen involvement and control over our lives….that is the Saskatchewan way of life we generally have had. The choice to change that to a conservative, more business oriented way of life is one that we have the right to pick. Others have, like Alberta have. There is no shame in being open about your political philosophy and faith in the market. There is also no reason to not be proud of and be honest about the social democratic concept of politics.

The choices are clear. What I am confused and concerned about is why there is something wrong with the labour movement bringing out this truth.

Is it because, once the truth is out, some are worried it may mean they won’t get elected?

We must never be shy about our voices being heard about our choice of political philosophy. What we must be vigilant about and promote at every moment, before and during and after elections, is to hold accountable anyone elected who strays from our choice. The labour movement campaign is about organizing to ensure we are able to hold all accountable to our issues, whomever they are.

Which party is likely to be more open to our issues? That question is what elections are all about. Why is it wrong to make the choices clear?

Just so we are clear here. I will always promote giving power to people who will encourage the citizens to be respected and to have as much say as possible over every aspect of our lives. I would really like it if this honesty about our choices permeates every word printed, spoken and acted upon before, during and after elections. That includes the media! It gives me delight to know that it appears that once the choices are clear, it causes angst amongst those who do not support our issues.

Brother Hubich and our union leaders make me proud to be union when they give us such honest choices.

Larry Kowalchuk

Monday 1 October 2007

The War On Democracy by John Pilger

The War On Democracy by John Pilger. This documentary by John Pilger is 1 hour and 34 minutes long.

“Veteran reporter John Pilger describes The War On Democracy as his most positive film to date, a strange thing to say about a documentary that systematically itemizes the appalling legacy of US involvement in Latin American affairs. Still, for all the heart-rending personal testimony, chilling archive footage and images of grinding poverty, there is a note of cautious optimism, in a powerful work that suggests the real Land of the Free is to be found in Uncle Sam’s back yard.

Pilger’s selective tactic is to report from three South American countries where people-power and popular movements have challenged the historic sway of vested imperialist interests. Thus we see President Hugo Chávez use Venezuela’s vast oil wealth to fund social programs, in the teeth of ferocious right-wing opposition and an unsuccessful Washington-backed coup; Bolivians fighting back against the grasping multinationals who have seized their water supply; and ordinary Chileans rebuilding their lives after decades of torture and tyranny. Along the way we also hear from ex-CIA chief Duane Clarridge, whose contemptuous riposte to Pilger’s criticisms (‘Get used to it, world!’) tells us everything we need to know about Bush’s idea of “freedom.’”


“[This is] powerfully argued stuff, benefiting from a warmly sympathetic interview with President Hugo Chávez, counterpointed by the pantomime creepiness of representatives of the CIA and their ilk... Heartfelt, sincere, and often enlightening viewing.”

—The Observer
You can read more about this documentary here.