June 13, 2009
It was those conditions that forged many changes in the dirty thirties.
This film criticises capitalism and its destruction of the environment. Capitalism and market driven practices drove the collapse of the environment to the point that the soil blew away and created the "dust bowl". Many people became environmental and economic refugees from this region.
June 10, 2009
This is an undelivered speech from Brian LaTour, an engineering student, student activist and member of the CFS and IWW from Manitoba. Brian was to give his speech at a Rally against Steven Harper and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a right wing think tank that thinks the self regulating, invisible hand of the free market is the pinnacle of society. (I wonder what they think of invisible hands and Ouija boards?) Brian could not deliver his speech that evening however due to being stuck out of town working mandatory overtime. Such is the life of a working class student.
Brother LaTour wishes to point out that: “...there are a couple things in here that I'm missing, like the SSHRC cuts.”
Good evening, brothers and sisters. It's wonderful to see so many people out here today, to give Stephen Harper a nice, friendly Winnipeg welcome. I was actually wondering how best to welcome Harper to Winnipeg on my way over here. I came up with one idea, but unfortunately I didn't bring an extra pair of shoes.
But seriously, we are gathered here today because the policies of this government have been intolerable. As a student at the University of Manitoba, one who has seen tuition increases of 40% since I started my degree, I'm here to talk about why students can't take any more right wing governance. And this Frontier Centre, which claims to be independent and objective but manages to get a right-wing Prime Minister to fundraise for them, has done nothing but carry water for right-wing attacks on students.
In a time of economic crisis, educational issues are now more important than ever. More and more jobs are requiring some sort of post-secondary education. People losing their jobs are going to be trying to go back to school to gain the skills they need just to make it in this capitalist economy. We should be helping people access education in these times, not raising barriers.
Since cuts to transfer payments in the 1990s, federal funding for education has been insufficient. This has manfested itself in increased tuition, a clear attack on working class students in Canada. Tuition these days is the highest it has been since around World War II. And it's a lot higher for us than it was for Harper and these right-wing hacks at the Frontier Centre who constantly whine that it's too low and push for increased tuition, a barrier to education for working class students.
And let me be clear, none of this has to do with of a lack of resources. There are more than enough resources to eliminate tuition forever, it's just a question of priorities. Neoliberalism, tax cuts for the rich and military spending or funding education and other public services? The total tuition paid in Canada is a fraction of what is spent on the Canadian Forces, some of which goes to the militarization of our universities and recruiters who prey on students facing economic hardships because they want their blood to oil the gears of the imperialist war machine.
This Harper government has also been attacking aboriginal students. The Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which was never anywhere near sufficient in the first place, is under attack by the Harper Tories. They have planned to scrap the program and replace it with loans, giving First Nations students who are already underrepresented in post-secondary education nothing but more debt and more barriers to education. And guess who is right behind them? That's right, the Frontier Centre, with the racist argument that, quote “Moving towards loans would be good for First Nations as it would encourage them to be better stewards of their funds”, as if what aboriginal people need is the Canadian state imposing more hardships on them to teach them a lesson. When it comes to imposing hardships, hasn't the Canadian state done enough already?
In addition, the Harper government's policies towards Israel have encouraged the apartheid state in their bombings of schools and universities in Gaza and quashing the rights of Palestinian students to education. We stand here in solidarity with those facing oppression aided by this government worldwide!
And not only has this government been attacking students directly, recently they have been exposed in plotting to subvert the student movement. They have held sessions across the country, including in Winnipeg, in which they have plotted to take over student unions, defund PIRGs, and subvert the Canadian Federation of Students, the only national organization fighting for students rights. These anti-democratic actions by the control freaks in the Harper government only show that they can't handle any criticism or resistance to their ideological attacks on students and the working class.
Over the past thirty years or so, the forces of capital have been particularly vicious when it comes to attacking the working class. Working class students are facing constantly increasing tuition while being stuck in low-wage service sector jobs. Thirty years of the ideology represented by Harper and the Frontier centre has left my generation facing capitalist crisis, attacks on our public services, attacks on pay equity, and an ecological crisis looming over our heads. Young people are not the problem here, we are the solution. We didn't cause these crises and we shouldn't pay for them.
Brothers and sisters, we must fight this government wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head. And we must continue fighting for justice together long after Harper is nothing more than a bad memory and a cash cow for right-wing bullshit factories. We need to keep fighting until we have eradicated this exploitative and oppressive capitalist system and brought to earth a new world, a better world, a world of peace and justice for all.
Thank you, and solidarity forever!
Brian LaTour also blogs for Canadian Dimension Magazine you can read it here.
below is part of a leaflet and press release put out by the Winnipeg Labour Defence League.
What is the Frontier Centre for Public Policy?
Wonder why Stephen "I hate Labour" Harper is the star guest at a gala fund-raising dinner for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, $150 a plate?
Supported by dubious facts, poor logic and pompous professors, the Centre emits an unrelenting ooze of reactionary policy ideas designed to boost the fortunes of the millionaire big shots who already have the government's ear.
The Centre elevates greed as humanity's highest and only aim. Its policies would grind the needy into the dirt. Its aims are far from benevolent.
Yet the government has given the Centre charitable status, so it can give expensive tax receipts to its wealthy backers, paid for by Jane and Joe worker/ taxpayer.
With the Frontier Centre and its professors:
- Rent controls would be gone.
- Public housing would be sold off.
- Labour rights would be curbed, giving corporations more power to crush unions.
The FCPP wants:
- Privatized child-care
- A frozen minimum wage
- Privatized utilities for Hydro and Water.
- A "flat tax" where those with lower incomes pay the most.
- Even more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations
- No pay equity for women or other discriminated groups
- No marketing boards such as the Wheat Board to protect farmers and consumers from the big Agri-monopolies
- In a racist way, it constantly attacks "poor governance" in Aboriginal nations, forgetting the truly massive scale of corporate sleaze and corruption.
- Failing to recognize the colonial theft of Aboriginal land, it promotes the illusion that Aboriginal peoples are on a level playing field with the non-Aboriginal corporations that own and dominate Canada's land and resources.
- It attacks the very concept of "national rights," rights which are fully enjoyed by the Canadian state, but whose denial relegates Aboriginal nations to a position of inequality, humiliation and subjection.
Are these policies that would help the large part of the working class that lives in perpetual misery from day to day?
Would these policies lead to a society where everyone receives what they need and contributes what they are able?
The answer is obvious. The FCPP is a front for the corporations and the wealthy.
The FCPP has too much influence over government policies already! They got us into our present mess.
June 8, 2009
Canadian Peace Congress
125 Brandon Avenue, Toronto, ON M6H 2E2
Korean Crisis Demands Disarmament and Anti-Imperialist Solidarity
Peace Congress Condemns Sanctions, Seizures
and US Military Build-up in Korean Peninsula
05 June 2009
The Canadian Peace Congress calls on Prime Minister Harper to work for an immediate halt to the aggressive and provocative policies of illegal economic sanctions, regional interference and military build-up by the United States in the Korean Peninsula. Furthermore, the Congress calls on the Canadian government to work through the United Nations to normalize relations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), based on non-interference, cooperation and peace.
The belligerent and confrontational actions that the US has taken toward the DPRK expose the failed policies of US imperialism, which remain at the root of instability in the Korean Peninsula. The Obama administration has fanned the flames of global nuclear weapons escalation, which further destabilizes all international relations, particularly with China, and leads to a greater likelihood of future wars – including nuclear war. Through these positions, the United States has seriously threatened peace and the established, working and stable armistice in the Korean Peninsula. In its statement on October 13, 2006 the Canadian Peace Congress warned of such an outcome:
“The Bush Administration’s policy toward the DPRK is regime change. Branding North Korea as part of an “axis of evil”, the Bush Administration demands a free hand to punish a member state of the United Nations by economic blockade and war. At the same time, the US administration declares the DPRK has no right to self defence. Given such options, it is not surprising that the DPRK has resorted to nuclear weapons tests.”
In addressing the current crisis, international criticism needs to be focused on the continuing threats and escalating provocations by South Korea and the United States, which have propelled North Korea's recent nuclear test and missile launches.
The actions of the United States in the lead-up to the present crisis have been particularly hypocritical, inflammatory and irresponsible. In February 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated publicly that “the Obama administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula's long-standing armistice agreements with a permanent peace treaty and assist in meeting the energy and other economic needs of the North Korean people.” But actions speak louder than words: within a month of those comments the United States reneged on its 2008 commitment to provide food aid to a World Food Program in the DPRK, after delivering only one quarter of the pledged food supplies and less than 5% of the pledged financing. Subsequently, in April 2009 the US sponsored a United Nations Security Council resolution against the DPRK in response to the launch of a communications satellite, even though Pyongyang had announced the launch in February.
Furthermore, the United States has continued to aggressively pressure South Korea into joining the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a highly secretive creation of George W. Bush. The PSI executes a vigilante brand of operations – which include stop and search of sea and air vessels, port inspections and disruption of financial networks – against targeted states under the pretext of stemming the development and flow of weapons of mass destruction. While taking great pains to claim otherwise, the PSI and its Statement of Interdiction Policies are an outright violation of international law, including Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Blockades, forced inspections and seizures are acts of war against a sovereign country.
The DPRK is a main target of PSI operations but South Korea long resisted participating, citing concerns that such provocative action would result in a deterioration of Korean relations. This position changed with the election of Lee Myung-bak as President of South Korea in December 2007.
Immediately after his election Lee introduced much more aggressive policies toward the North. These moves have been heavily criticized by South Korean political analysts and diplomats for being provocative and for having destabilized North-South relations. Lee's position is clearly based on his desire, buttressed by US policies and actions, to provoke a change of government in the DPRK and to achieve significant economic profit for the South in the process.
The basic threat to peace in the Asia Pacific region is not from the DPRK, but stems from the continued provocative interference by US imperialism. The United States was the first state to develop nuclear weapons; it remains the only state to have used nuclear weapons against a population and is the only state to deploy nuclear weapons outside of its own borders. It is the United States which deploys 250,000 military personnel in the Pacific region, including nearly 30,000 who routinely practice ground invasions of the DPRK, in order to protect its economic and security interests. And, it is the United States who has refused to follow through with its commitment to dialogue with North Korea and instead raised the spectre of sanctions, regime change and now, military confrontation.
All claims by the US government to the principled right to speak on the question of peace are erroneous. Until the United States removes all of its foreign bases and dismantles its nuclear weapons stationed on foreign soil, halts its nuclear weapons development programs, reduces its nuclear arsenal, removes all of its nuclear armed submarines from international waters, lives up to its commitments of international non-proliferation agreements, renounces its “first strike policy” and ceases the deployment of its missile defence shield, all alleged US morality on the question of peace is suspect. The fact of the matter is that until the United States reduces its stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and normalizes relations with other nations, based on cooperation and non-interference, the logical outcome will be increased weapons proliferation.
The Canadian Peace Congress remains committed to its longstanding policy of non-proliferation of nuclear arms. However, the issue of non-proliferation cannot be divorced from that of abolition. For many decades peace organizations, peace and security analysts, and diplomats have argued that a global scheme in which a small club of nuclear states is maintained and counterposed to the majority of “have-not” states is unfair, naive and untenable. It is, in fact, the possession of nuclear arms by even a single state that promotes proliferation. As the World Peace Council noted at its 2008 Assembly:
“The so-called North Korean nuclear crisis also has clearly established the discriminatory nature of the NPT regime. With development and perfection of nuclear technologies and delivery systems by imperialism, the possibility of establishment of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones has become completely redundant. Elimination of nuclear weapons is an urgent task for all humanity... The WPC demands that all countries having nuclear weapons take concrete steps for abolishing their nuclear arsenal towards the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.”
The Canadian Peace Congress demands that the Government of Canada:
- oppose the use of sanctions or a blockade of any kind against North Korea, which will only escalate the present crisis;
- oppose moves by any country – and especially by the United States, South Korea, Japan or Australia – toward a military build-up in the region;
- take concrete steps to bring existing nuclear arsenals – in particular that of the United States – onto the immediate agenda of the United Nations, with a commitment to dismantle those arsenals in preparation for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2010;
- immediately cease its participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative and promote the dissolution of that operation;
- promote immediate UN-sponsored assistance to the DPRK, in the spirit of international cooperation and respect for sovereignty and the right to self-determination.
- 30 -
Issued by the Canadian Peace Congress Executive Council
June 5, 2009
About the Canadian Peace Congress:
The Canadian Peace Congress was formed in 1949 as an organization of Canadian people that works for world peace and disarmament. We maintain that peace, not militarism and war, is the guarantor of democracy, human rights, and social and economic justice. The Congress is affiliated to the World Peace Council and is a founding member of the Canadian Peace Alliance.
For more information on the Canadian Peace Congress, or to join, please contact:
President, Canadian Peace Congress
June 7, 2009
has started a new website, nfb.ca that showcases its back catalog of films in the you tube format.
The following film is among many to be found on the site.
Titled "Bethune" it covers the life of the famous lung surgeon and communist. It is a Donald Brittain film, from 1964 and has a run time of 58min 38 sec.
It should be noted that in the CSIS/RCMP security service files on Bethune is a report of Bethune's presentation in Winnipeg's Starland theatre (torn down late last year). Bethune was doing a fund raising tour for his blood transfusion service in Spain. The site of the theatre is now an office complex for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
As much as Bethune fought for socialised medicine in the 1930s, doctors still fight for its survival today.
Mao wrote of Bethune in a famous essay
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