Thursday, 30 October 2008

SFL to attend International Symposium on Labour and Human Rights

Faced with an unprecedented assault on worker and human rights by the Brad Wall Sask. Party government, representatives of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) will attend an International Symposium entitled: "Labour Rights are Human Rights".

The symposium (being held in mid November 2008) will bring together 150 guests plus several national and international experts to discuss and examine how labour rights are a critical component of human rights, and fundamental to a properly functioning democracy. The symposium is jointly sponsored by the following four national organizations: the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), the Canadian Police Association (CPA) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada).

Representatives of the SFL will be using the opportunity to raise national and international awareness of the Sask. Party government's assault on Saskatchewan workers, and to discuss the the SFL's recently launched Charter Challenge and the formal complaints which have been filed against the government with the International Labour Organization.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Video: Obama's Closing Argument -

One more week. Let's hope the American's get it right this time.

For more information go to

Read a transcript of this speech by clicking here....

Sask. Chamber of Commerce behind government assault on workers

"Owls and Roosters Blog" owner Joe Kuchta has just posted a new entry entitled: StarPhoenix and Leader-Post attack labour; CanWest reportedly recruiting Concordia University journalism students as scabs in the event of a strike.

Not evident in the title are the additional tidbits the blog posting uncovers. It reveals clear evidence that the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce is a major force behind recent and ongoing assaults by the Sask. Party government against workers.

Kuchta has uncovered a couple of documents from the Chamber's web-site that illustrate this fact in spades.

The first document is a motion passed by the Chamber of Commerce at it's annual meeting held in Humboldt, May 8 - 9, 2008 which applauds the government for introducing Bills 5 & 6 and calls for comprehensive reviews of other labour legislation.

The second document is a 4-page letter of response from Minister Rob Norris to Chamber President Dale Lemke accepting the congratulations and promising to consult with the Chamber in more detail regarding the matters raised in letters from Lemke, including labour legislation.

In the meantime, Rob Norris has avoided, evaded, eluded and refused to meet with workers and their organizations regarding these matters. He continues to refuse to answer questions raised in forums sponsored by the labour movement, including at the SFL Convention.

Yet his door is wide open to his business buddies from the Chamber and other business lobby groups.

Labour dissent 'was not planned'

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) Treasurer, Marvin Meickel and Recording Secretary, Wanda Bartlett recently submitted an Op Ed piece to the Regina Leader-Post regarding the appearance of Sask. Party Labour Minister, Rob Norris at the SFL's 2008 Annual Convention last week in Regina.

The Op Ed piece is reproduced below, and can be viewed at the Leader-Post online by clicking here....

Labour dissent 'was not planned'

Marvin Meickel and Wanda Bartlett
Special to The Leader-Post

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Following Minister of Labour Rob Norris's speech to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour's (SFL) Convention, it was widely reported in print, television and radio that the icy reception the minister received was in fact spontaneous. Reporters dutifully asked SFL President Hubich if he had planned the outburst and he responded "no, on the contrary".

Yet a couple of mainstream reporters, despite having not even attended the event, insisted on reporting the opposite. Leader-Post columnist Murray Mandryk goes so far as to say "Certainly, there's no doubt -- despite SFL President Larry Hubich's disingenuous assertion to the contrary -- that the supposedly spontaneous demonstration . . . was orchestrated to maximize television coverage". In the span of just three paragraphs on Oct. 25, he states four times that the actions of delegates were orchestrated.

There is simply no basis in fact for such statements and to report otherwise is to distort the events of that day. Furthermore, disparaging comments about our president, our leadership and our members is very disappointing.

Let's set the record straight. The demonstration against Norris was neither orchestrated by president Hubich, nor by the SFL executive council.

Indeed, when president Hubich indicated he would call delegates to order, the minister turned down his offer.

The truth is that the SFL executive council, composed of 24 vice-presidents and eight labour council representatives, discussed in advance the minister's upcoming visit. We decided that the most fruitful approach would be to conduct ourselves respectfully and to attempt to get answers to some very important questions from the minister.

Many of those same labour leaders then lined up at microphones following the minister's speech and proceeded to ask carefully crafted questions.

Let's be clear; the Brad Wall government has refused to consult with the working people of this province so an opportunity to meet a minister and ask questions is a rare occurrence.

The fact that the delegates on the floor chose to express their views in such a united and strong manner should signal to everyone that those 550 rank-and-file workers are fed up with being treated with disdain and disrespect by their own government. And we should all be humbled by the fact that they felt strongly enough to go against the recommendations of their own leadership as to how they should receive the minister. It is called dissent.

That workers stood up for themselves in such a manner is certainly newsworthy, but surely the media is also obligated to report on the questions asked of the minister and his evasive answers?

When asked repeatedly whether or not the minister had plans to amend any of the several pieces of labour legislation in the province, he stated they are all "under review" and gave reference to lowering the minimum working age.

When asked whether or not labour would be consulted on any potential changes to labour laws, the minister refused to answer.

Workers have been experiencing this kind of dismissive treatment ever since the Saskatchewan Party came to office. The gutting of labour laws and the refusal to dialogue with trade unions about future changes is incredibly frustrating. It should be noted that it wasn't until the minister began to sing the praises of Bills 5 and 6 that delegates got up from their seats.

Governments have an obligation to consult with individuals and groups when they intend to bring in legislation that will affect them. To refuse to do so in a meaningful way is anti-democratic. And to continue to cater to business interests and to dismiss workers' expertise and concerns is insulting.

We also note that several urgent issues of interest to the people of Saskatchewan were discussed and debated during the three-and-a-half day convention. Just some of these issues include a campaign to remove asbestos from workplaces and homes; the dangers involved in the expansion of oil extraction in the tar sands; the exploitation and abuse of rapidly increasing numbers of temporary foreign workers; and the lack of safe staffing levels in our health-care system.

As workers and as a labour movement, we will continue to take very seriously our obligation to raise these issues in workplaces, in public forums, and with our politicians.

- Meickel is the SFL treasurer and president of CUPE Local 7. Bartlett is the SFL recording secretary and president of the Weyburn and District Labour Council.

© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008

Monday, 27 October 2008

Majority want leadership on poverty: Poll - CCPA

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has released poll results indicating that there is huge support for government intervention to curb poverty in Canada.

From the CCPA web-site:

Majority want leadership on poverty: Poll

October 27, 2008 National Office Topic(s): Inequality & poverty Publication Type: Press Release Research Desk: Inequality Project

TORONTO – The majority of Canadians believe Canada should try to distinguish itself in the world as a country where no one lives in poverty, according to an Environics Research poll conducted for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The national poll reveals 90% of Canadians say they would be proud if their Premier took the lead in reducing poverty in their province; 88% want Canada to be a leader in poverty reduction; and 77% say a recession is all the more reason to act now.

“Even in the face of a possible recession Canadians’ desire for their governments to act on poverty and inequality reduction is not weakened but emboldened,” says Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist with the CCPA.

“They want governments that will do them proud, at home and around the world.”

Among the poll findings:

  • 90% say it’s time for strong leadership to reduce the number of poor people;
  • 92% say if countries like Great Britain and Sweden can do it, so can Canada;
  • 86% believe if government took concrete action, poverty could be greatly reduced;
  • 89% say the Prime Minister and Premiers need to set concrete targets and timelines to reduce poverty and measure their progress;
  • 81% support reducing poverty by at least 25% over the next five years: 55% say that sounds about right but another quarter (26%) say that’s not ambitious enough; and
  • there is resounding majority support to raise the minimum wage, improve income support programs to help poor families raising children, create low cost child care spaces, create more affordable housing, make sure welfare rates rise with the cost of living, and invest in jobs and skills training for those in between jobs.
Environics interviewed 2,023 adult Canadians by telephone between Sept. 24-Oct. 21, 2008. A survey of this magnitude yields results that can be considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. The poll is available at

-- 30 --

For information, please contact
Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.

Download the Report/Study:
Ready For Leadership: Canadians’ perceptions of poverty - PDF File, 516 Kb

Saskatchewan’s Resource Royalties

On Friday, October 24, 2008 Erin Weir, Economist with the United Steelworkers attended the 53rd Annual Convention of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour as a guest speaker.

Mr. Weir's topic: "Is Saskatchewan getting a Fair Return in its Resources". You can read all about Mr. Weir's presentation over at the "Progressive Economics Form Blog".

A Class Act

I received the following poem via e-mail today:

A Class Act

He walked into the room,

A little big man strutting up the aisle with his minions around him.

Passing him as they left the stage,

Were 40 miners left out on strike,

By a CEO who makes more money then anyone could ever spend or defend.

The little big man speech droned on and on,

Constantly justifying the unjustifiable,

Never imagining another world where people work and sweat for a living and respect.

The workers start moving away raising from their chairs - moving together,

Creating their space of solidarity and resistance,

Singing in unison - So So Solidarity Solidarity Forever standing up for all workers.

It was a class act one for all - all for one.

Don Kossick, October/2008 -- Viva!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

SGEU Anti-Privatization Campaign

Check out more on the SGEU Web-site by clicking here....

Or check out the SGEU YouTube site by clicking here....

Income gap growing wider

It appears that the Toronto Star is almost the only company in the mainstream Canadian print media that is giving any coverage to a report released in Paris, France today.

The report, is from a 20 year study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that shows over the 10 year period from 1995 - 2005 Canada had dismal performance in fighting poverty and inequality. See: Growing Unequal? Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries.

In the meantime the rich get richer, and the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider.

Excerpt from the Toronto Star article below:

Poverty and inequality rates in Canada have been on the rise since 1995 and are now higher than the average developed nation, according to a new study.

The income gap is growing throughout the developed world, but the gap between rich and poor in Canada widened more dramatically than in most countries between 1995 and 2005, according to the report released in Paris today.

The 20-year analysis by the 30-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found only Germany saw a similar rate of increase during the past 10 years.

"After 20 years of continuous decline, both inequality and poverty rates (in Canada) have increased rapidly in the past 10 years, now reaching levels above the OECD average," says the report.
Read the rest of article here....

Friday, 17 October 2008

It's time to stand up and Fight Back!!!

This could just as easily be Canada or Saskatchewan, if we don't keep our eye on the ball. My favourite line from the video is:

"I have waited for others to fight a fight I should have been in since Round 1."

Check out the AFL-CIO's Turn Around America video contest web site at:

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour to hold 53rd Annual Convention

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour will hold it's 53rd Annual Convention from October 22 - 25, 2008 in Regina, Sask. The delegated convention is open to observers and to the media.

You can download a copy of the Oct 16, 2008 Media Advisory here....

You can download a copy of the Tentative Agenda (as of Oct 16) here....

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

It's raining taxpayers money on the RICH!

Below is an excerpt from "The Automatic Earth" Blog - Debt Rattle - Oct 15, 2008: (There is nothing I need to add).

"With the Dow Jones safely tucked in back down below 9000, and European exchanges losing 7% on average, the positive overall global effect of an unprecedented transfer of public funds to the private sector, to the tune of some $4.5 trillion, has lasted about a day and a half.

The $4.5 trillion could have been used to the benefit of the people it rightfully belongs to, the same people who will soon desperately need every singly penny of it. Instead, it has been given away, and is now no longer available to help in what is cynically called "the real economy".

And that is where the reason for today’s plunging stocks lies: the real economy, in the real world, where the real people live. Unfortunately for them, financial decisions are all taken by those who live in other universes, for whom the real world has no meaning without the world of finance, who are under the illusion that their multi-million bonuses exist for the good of the people.

A nice way of putting it is this: “If you spent $1 million per day from the day Jesus was born until Christmas 2008, you would have spent $733 billion”. In other words, you could have spent a million a day for 12,000 years, and still not get to the amount spent in the past 5 days."
And while you're at it, you might as well read this article on Why the Bailout Scam Is More Likely to Fail than to Succeed

Global crisis 'failure of extreme capitalism': Australian PM

Australia Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has recently described the current global crisis in the financial industry, major banks and the international money markets as a "comprehensive failure of extreme capitalism". What's equally astonishing about what Prime Minister Rudd said, is that his statement is getting basically zero coverage in the mainstream media almost everywhere in the world, outside of Australia.

Can't have people reading or hearing stuff like that in the 'corporate dominated and censored media', now can we?

Read it here on

And view the accompanying video below:

Steelworker Strike at Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan drags on

Now that the totally unnecessary election which effectively wasted about $300 million worth of taxpayers hard earned cash is over - we can get our focus back on the bargaining disputes currently ongoing at various Saskatchewan workplaces.

One such dispute is the strike at three mine sites of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan where close to 500 United Steelworker members have been on strike for a fair collective agreement since August 7, 2008.

You can follow the dispute at a couple web-sites:
At a local steelworker web-site set up at:

As well, check out the video below of Saskatchewan Steelworkers who recently participated in a protest in London, England were the PCS was holding a London Analysts Meeting:

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Sarah Palin guilty of Abuse of Power - CNN

U.S. Government to buy 'Equity Stake' in failing banks

In an attempt to shore up financial markets and the ailing U.S. banking sector - the American government announced today that they will be taking an "equity position" by directly purchasing shares in a number of U.S. banks and financial institutions. (They stopped short of calling it "Nationalization".)

Such a move by the U.S. government has not occurred since the Great Depression.

See coverage below:

Globe and Mail: US ups ante with plan to buy stake in ailing banks
Los Angeles Times: US to buy shares in struggling banks
The Press Association: US bid to stablise markets

Friday, 10 October 2008

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Working families deserve a parliament that makes their needs a top priority

Vote for a political party that puts the interests of working families ahead of the interests of the multi-millionaires that sit around the corporate boardroom tables.

Stephen Harper - Prime Minister of War

Check out a brand new posting on the "Owls and Roosters" Blog entitled: Canada First Defence Strategy: Harper government planning to spend $490 billion over the next 20 years on the military, not in election platform.

Money for corporate tax breaks, money for billionaires, money for war - no money for child care, no money for equalization promises, and no money for the arts. Our fuzzy-sweatered Prime Minister has his priorities all mixed up.

Keating economics

This video is posted on the Globe and Mail site under the Adhocracy section.

Olbermann: Terrorists? It's Palin doing the pallin'

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Economists’ Open Letter Calls For Active Response to Economic Crisis

This is impressive!


October 8, 2008

Economists’ Open Letter Calls For Active Response to Economic Crisis

Ottawa: Today, 85 economists released an Open Letter criticizing the federal government for its inaction in light of the deepening global financial crisis, the growing probability of a worldwide recession, and structural weaknesses in the Canadian economy. The letter challenges government claims that Canada’s “fundamentals” are strong, and highlights the significant deterioration in Canada’s economic performance over the last two years. Despite recent government statements, there remains a wide disconnect between the appropriate policy response to the looming downturn, and the “stay-the-course” approach still being enunciated by the Prime Minister.

The Open Letter calls on government and its institutions to show leadership and play a more active role in stabilizing financial markets, stimulating real investment, and maintaining employment and incomes in the face of the worsening financial and economic downturn.

Signatories include:

four chairs of economics departments, two former Presidents of the Canadian Economic Association, a former federal Secretary of State for Finance and a former Quebec Minister of Industry

The letter is signed by:
Arthur Donner, Economic Consultant
Marc Lee, Chairperson, Progressive Economics Forum
Martha MacDonald, Chair Department of Economics, St. Mary’s University
Fiona MacPhail, Chair, Economics Department, University of Northern British Columbia
Mike McCracken, President, Informetrica Ltd.
Lars Osberg, Chair, Department of Economics, Dalhousie University, Former President, Canadian Economics Association
The Hon. Douglas Peters, former federal Secretary of State for Finance
Mario Seccareccia, Economics Department, University of Ottawa
Brenda Spotton, Economics Department, York University
Rodrigue Tremblay, emeritus professor of economics, University of Montreal, former president of the Canadian Economics Association, and former Quebec Minister of Industry.

…and 75 other economists.

To access the Open Letter and the full list of signatories go to:

For further information or comment, please contact:

Marc Lee (Vancouver): 604-801-5121 ext.228
Marc Lavoie (Ottawa): (819) 770-4306
John Loxley (Winnipeg): 204-474-9769
Lars Osberg (Halifax): 902-494-6988 or 902-455-9486
Mario Seccareccia (Ottawa): 613-562-5800 ext 1691

The Open Letter was conceived and prepared by the Progressive Economic Forum, a network of Canadian economists that promotes alternatives to conservative economic theory and policy.

Vote for Environment

Visit the Vote for Environment web site

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Monday, 6 October 2008

Canadian Artists Unite to Defeat Harper and fight Climate Change

Check out the web site and download the new song by clicking the image above. Or you check out the AVAAZ web site at:

Palin vs Biden: Saturday Night Live Parody

CFIB and Sask. Party government inextricably linked

Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Premier Brad Wall and Laura Jones

Joe Kuchta over at the "Owls and Roosters" Blog has just posted an entry entitled: Regulatory Modernization Council: Wall government turns policy making over to business lobby group Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

The article unravels the links between the current Sask. Party government and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). It also pulls the covers off of the government's new so-called "Regulatory Modernization Council (RMC)".

In short, it shows that business is clearly in control of the Saskatchewan government. Do you know where that leads to? Deregulation, privatization, handing over billions of dollars of taxpayers money to corrupt corporations (i.e. Wall Street bailout), listeriosis deaths, pollution of our environment, for-profit health care, trade agreements that give away our sovereignty. The list is endless.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

The Golden Parachute Survives

There's an article which appears recently on that comes from The Washington Independent entitled: The Golden Parachute Survives. The upshot of the article: The $700 billion Wall Street bail-out isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

The article starts out:

"The creators of the financial mess may go unpunished.

For supporters of the Bush administration's $700-billion Wall Street bailout, it stands as a key selling point: a provision that limits pay packages for the heads of companies helped by the taxpayer-funded rescue program.

There's just one problem: It would do little to cap executive pay or rein in the enormous retirement packages - the golden parachutes - that have come to symbolize corporate excess."
read more....

Democracy Watch Files Court Challenge of Prime Minister's Federal Election

On October 1, 2008 "Democracy Watch" released the details of an application that they filed in the Federal Court of Canada which challenges the legality of the October 14, 2008 federal election called by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and currently underway.