Tuesday 30 December 2008

CUPE: Stopping P3s, one domino at a time


It's not about providing young people with work experience!

Don't let anybody tell you that the Sask. Party government's recent changes to the minimum employment age has anything to do with giving young people some work experience.

Because friends - that's just not what it's all about. It's about a government who is pandering to the demands of some of the worst employers in the province. Employers who pay such crappy wages, and who treat employees so badly - that practically nobody (other than a few teenagers) is prepared to work for them.

And all of this with no consultation, no public input, and virtually no consideration of alternative points of view. It's becoming a common indicator of how the Sask. Party government operates.

Check out the recent posting over on the "Owls and Roosters Blog" entitled: Brad Wall government lowers minimum age of employment to 15 without public debate or discussion; CFIB and Sask. Chamber applaud move, for more indepth analysis on this topic.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Mainstream media gives Harper a free ride on Hypocrisy

Yesterday, Canada's Prime Minister back peddled, and reneged on yet another one of his famous promises, by appointing 18 Senators to the upper chamber despite his previous and repeated commitment to reform the senate.

Harper has been on record for years regularly trashing the Senate and calling for its massive overhaul including a requirement that senators be elected. Yesterday's move by the P.M. is a complete about face, and raises more questions about the man's credibility.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media completely ignores the contradictions as it gushes over the appointees, most notably fawning over those newly named senators who came out of their own ranks.
Update: Buried deep on page C-6 of the Tuesday, Regina Leader-Post is an article entitled: Harper slammed over new senators. There is no editorial comment at all about the obvious contradiction of Harper appointing a "Separatist" to the senate. Don't you find that odd, considering the P.M.'s recent attacks on the Liberals and NDP, and his over the top "Separatist-bashing".
"Among the appointees for 18 vacancies are Conservative fundraiser Irving Gerstein, party vice-president Michael MacDonald, CTV broadcaster Mike Duffy, former journalist Pamela Wallin, defeated Conservative MP Fabian Manning, former Olympian Nancy Greene Raine, and former Parti Quebecois politician Michel Rivard."

Santa Claus Bailout Hearings

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Who's to Blame? - Greedy Corporate Hucksters

A few years ago, I wrote a letter to then Premier, Lorne Calvert and NDP government MLA's urging the Saskatchewan Government not to heed the pressure that was coming from various elements of the business crowd and their political friends. A group who were screaming that the world would come to an end if the government dared to carry through on it's stated intention of providing workers with the ability to aquire additional hours of work by the exercise of length of service.

In that letter I used the phrase "Greedy Corporate Hucksters" to describe the type of people and organizations who would resort to a campaign of misinformation, distortion, fear and outright lies in their efforts to destroy workers rights. In fact, if you "google" the phrase "greedy corporate hucksters" today you'll find a few hits and remnants that will take you back to that time.

The reason I raise this now, is because the world is going through an economic turmoil and collapse the likes of which most people living today have never seen. The root cause for this economic calamity is becoming abundantly clear - Wall Street Ponzi Schemes, pyramids, scandal ridden corporate excess and abuse, massive deregulation of the financial sector and plain old fashioned corporate hucksterism.

Michael Moore in his recent on-line letter states the obvious, the U.S. government is prepared to bail out these crooks, but working folks are supposed to pay for a catastrophe they had no hand in creating, by taking massive wage cuts. Says Moore:

"But instead, the Senate said, we'll give you the loan only if the factory workers take a $20 an hour cut in wages, pension and health care. That's right. After giving BILLIONS to Wall Street hucksters and criminal investment bankers -- billions with no strings attached and, as we have since learned, no oversight whatsoever....." Read the full letter here.....
It's time for governments to act in the interests of the people. It's time for governments to prosecute the corporate criminals, to seize their assets and convert them to the public, to strictly re-regulate the financial sector, and to throw the "Greedy Corporate Hucksters" in jail. Yes, Mr. Harper, it's time to get tough on crime. The real crime, the white collar crime that is destroying our economy, our communities, our societies and our democracy.

Howard Zinn, in his book "Failure to Quit", stated it more articulately than I could ever hope to when he talked about civil disobedience:

"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. That’s our problem.”

Stephen Hypocrite

Sunday 14 December 2008

Saskatoon StarPhoenix exposed as the pro-conservative, right-wing rag it is

Wander on over to the "Owls and Roosters Blog" and read blog owner Joe Kuchta's newest posting entitled: "StarPhoenix says no to letter critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada; think tanks receive special treatment".

In another one of his signature postings, Kuchta dissects the past record of the Saskatoon based paper and exposes the obvious bias and slant that dominates it's editorial and opinion pages. When reading Kuchta's posting, I encourage you to click on the links. What you find there will reveal a web of ultra-conservative ties, and connections to the who's-who in certain corners of the right-wing establishment.

So, the tip for today is: If you want to see your name gracing the pages of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix - write something with a "hard-right" orientation. That'll do it!

In closing, I just had to reproduce this astonishing quote from a letter Joe received from the StarPhoenix rejecting an article he had submitted for printing (you see, Joe's viewpoint was critical of Prime Minister Harper's handling of the recent events in Ottawa):
“Most of the points you are making in this proposed viewpoint have been made by other commentators and letter writers since this mess began to unfold. While it’s your style to carefully document dates and times of certain speeches or opinion pieces presented by someone over the years and then to use that person’s latest utterances as a demonstration of their perfidy, it does happen that people change their minds or are, especially in politics, forced to back track on earlier positions simply to survive - to wit, Harper and the Senate appointments.

“While you have every right to comment on contradictory positions taken by public figures, I don’t have the space to devote to this minute examinations and parsing of positions while people deluge us with letters pertaining to the same thing during breaking news events.

“By all means, send in your comments in a 250 word letter and I’ll be happy to consider it. As for the last viewpoint, sorry. It’s a no go.”

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Obama supports "Card Certification" unionization

Hey, Wal-Mart - Stop whining and complaining about your workers in Weyburn unionizing. Get to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair and equitable collective agreement!

More Child Labour in Saskatchewan - do we really want to go there?

It's timely on this the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to take a good hard look at the reasoning for, and push behind, the government's stated intention of reducing the Minimum Working Age in Saskatchewan.

Yesterday, I couriered this letter to the Sask Party government's Minister of Labour (Norris) setting out the position of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour respecting the matter of minimum working age. The SFL's position was informed by resolutions passed at our recent annual convention.

Canada (and Saskatchewan) have significant international obligations and commitments to comply with at least the minimum standards set out in conventions of the United Nations and it's agency the International Labour Organization.

Reducing the minimum age at which children are allowed to work will put us off-side with these international obligations. Do we want to be viewed as a "developed nation", or a "developing nation"?

Today is the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Wal-Mart employees in Weyburn, Saskatchewan get a union

Word has come down today that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1400 has been certified by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board to represent the employees at the Weyburn, Saskatchewan Wal-Mart store.

From todays UFCW news release:

Wal-Mart in Weyburn Certified as UFCW Canada Unionized Store

WEYBURN, SK - December 8, 2008 - A Wal-Mart store in Weyburn, Saskatchewan has been granted union certification by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (SLRB) after years of Wal-Mart legal wrangling and delays, including two Wal-Mart applications to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the process.

"Justice has finally arrived for these Weyburn workers, in spite of Wal-Mart's endless attempts to thwart the workers from exercising their constitutional right to have a union," says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada.

"The time has come for Wal-Mart to end the stalling tactics and begin respecting worker rights and Canadian law. They are not above it."
Read more here.....

Canada's reputation going down the toilet

On December 3, 2008 the General Secretary of UNI Global Union (representing some 20 million workers in 150 different countries) wrote Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper denouncing the recent signing of the "so-called" Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. You can download a copy of the PDF version of that letter by clicking on the UNI logo to the right. It is also reproduced below in text format.

What a global embarassment Canada is becoming under the leadership of Stephen Harper. We are rapidly replacing George W. Bush as the country nobody wants to be seen in a photo with.
Office of the Prime Minister
Mr Stephen Harper
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa K1A 0A2

Nyon, 3 December 2008

On behalf of UNI Global Union I express our dismay that your government has entered a free trade agreement with Colombia.

Colombia is the murder capital of the world for trade unionists. There is no other place in this planet that poses as many threats and dangers to trade unionists. Acts of murder and violence are perpetrated with impunity.

There is an almost total absence of the judicial pursuit of those committing crimes against trade unionists, of the thousands of cases before the authorities decisions have only been made in a handful of cases.

This year UNI lost one of its local bank union leaders Leonidas Rojas who was murdered in his own apartment. THe government investigator initially claimed, as they have so often done, that this was a crime of passion. Yet just days ago a paramilitary group claimed responsibility for his murder. The same group declared that Geneva based ngo's, such as UNI Global Union, that have worked to protect trade unionists in Colombia are now a legitimate military target. Your trade agreement only brings succour to such anti democratic and violent groups.

The Canadian government should have used these trade talks as an opportunity to create leverage to ensure that basic trade union and human rights in Colombia were fully respected and allowed to flourish. That you have chosen not to do so is a blow to Colombian workers and their trade union organisations.

Your government has chosen to sign an agreement when the murder of trade unionists is on the rise. The violation of trade union rights has created a climate of fear that has effectively destroyed collective bargaining in Colombia. This coupled with the absence of a social safety net has left millions of Colombians marooned in poverty. The benefits of trade will only assist the current business elites.

On behalf of our 20 million members in 150 countries I express our outrage that your government has signed an agreement which will do precious little for the Colombian people and perpetuate a culture of brutality and death in the country.

I have the highest regard for Canada and its people, sentiments which I shared with the 2008 Governor Generals Leadership Conference which I addressed in Alberta this June. This future generation of Canadian leaders was shocked to learn of the tragedy that is Colombia today. We regret that your government has pursued a policy which will bring no practical benefit to those in peril or improve the lives of Colombian workers. I appeal to you to reconsider your position and nullify this agreement.

Yours sincerely,

Philip J. Jennings
General Secretary

Monday 8 December 2008

Democracy is being hijacked alright - but not by any Coalition

Thanks to Dr. Dawg over on Dawg's Blawg for his post "Conservative coup d'├ętat?". I sincerely hope that people are raising questions about the obvious double standard and constantly changing "rules of the game".

Here's an excerpt from Dr. Dawg's post:

"The Alberta lawyer who drafted a power-sharing proposal between Stockwell Day, Gilles Duceppe and Joe Clark in 2000 is now suggesting that the Conservatives should defy the Governor-General if she were to ask the Liberal-NDP coalition to form a new government if the Conservative administration falls on January 27." Read more here....

Friday 5 December 2008

Liars and Hypocrits? You tell me.

"Cut and Run Stevie" makes his mark in history

Prorogue Precedents

Stephen Harper wanted to shut down Parliament just because he does not agree with it.

Some say this is unprecedented.

In fact, Harper is following parliamentary tradition. Consider the following precedents:

1629: King Charles I in England
1799: Napoleon in France
1913: Victoriano Huerta in Mexico
1933: Adolf Hitler in Germany
1936: Francisco Franco in Spain
1939: Benito Mussolini in Italy
1973: Augusto Pinochet in Chile
1975: Indira Gandhi in India
1999: Pervez Musharaff in Pakistan
2008: Stephen Harper in Canada

YIKES! Hardly a badge of honour to achieve a spot on this list.

H/T to Sean in Ottawa for this Post, and to thereginamom for most of the links

Will Canada's gov't be next casualty of crisis?

Leo Panitch: Conservative's 'anti-tax obsession' is similar to policy that made the 30's worse

Thursday 4 December 2008

Prime Ministerial Double Talk

Working with the Bloc wasn’t such a big deal when Stephen Harper did it in 2004

JOURNALIST: So why did you write that letter to the Governor General with Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton saying in the event of a confidence vote situation do not call a snap election - are we to assume that therefore you’re working to form a coalition?

HARPER: There seems to be an attitude in the Liberal government - that they can go in, be deliberately defeated and call an election - that’s not how our constitutional system works. The government has a minority - it has an obligation to demonstrate to Canadians that it can govern. That it can form a majority in the House of Commons. If it can’t form a majority, we look at other options, we don’t just concede to the government’s request to make it dysfunctional. I know for a fact that Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton and the people who work for them want this Parliament to work and I know it is in all of our interests to work. The government has got to face the fact it has a minority, it has to work with other people.

SOURCE: Interview with Stephen Harper, September 2004.

Harper 'lies' about coalition details: Broadbent

CBC is broadcasting the following video interview of Ed Broadbent. To read the web coverage of this interview please click here....

Video - CBC Website

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Don't you find it all a bit hypocritical and hysterical

I must admit, I'm simply astonished at the level to which the anti-coalition forces are prepared to stoop in their attempt to hijack our system of Canadian Parliamentary Democracy. Contrary to what the frothing-at-the-mouth unrepentent corporate controlled right-wingers would have you believe, we are not witnessing a coup d'etat.

What we are witnessing is elected representatives of a combined majority of Canadian citizens assuming control of government from a group of representatives representing a minority of Canadian citizens. 63% = majority, 37% = minority.

But what really floors me is the hatred-filled diatribes coming from the mouths of those who declare themselves to be the rightful and duly elected leaders in this democracy we call Canada. Don't you find it all a bit rich to hear them bemoan and exaggerate the agreement between the "Liberals", the "Socialists", and the "Separtists"? I sure do.

This all from a group who have no problem whatsoever abandoning the sovereignty of our nation through the signing of "so-called" international trade agreements.

How is it that working and cooperating with elected Canadian citizens from Quebec in Canada's Parliament is described as treasonous, yet it's quite all right to sign multi-lateral and bi-lateral trade agreements with countries where the murdering of union leaders is a regular occurrence? Or where human rights abuses, and environmental abuses are simply ignored.

How is it that playing by the rules of our system of representative and responsible government is equated to being an attack on democracy, yet it's quite all right to sign interprovincial and overarching agreements like TILMA and the AIT that include provisions handing corporations the ability to sue duly elected governments for multi-millions of dollars for those governments exercising their responsibility to regulate and legislate in the public interest?

In case you haven't been paying attention - deregulating the global financial industry and handing over control to the corporations is exactly what got the world into the economic mess we find ourselves in right now. Even George W. Bush, the most unpopular President in the history of the United States of America, acknowledges that.

What we're witnessing here is our democratic system working - the way it's worked in this country since confederation. The ones who are screaming the loudest are the priviledged few and the corporate elite who see control slipping away, and they don't like it.

Get ready for the full frontal attack - they own the media, and they own the airwaves - they will spend millions to deny the results of the last election. Because contrary to what they would have you believe - they didn't win, they only got a minority. Hang on, it's going to be a wild ride.

Tuesday 2 December 2008