Report: Hamilton organizing against health care cuts

By Petre Marin
December 5, 2008

This past Thursday, December 4, the Hamilton branch of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) held a town hall meeting at the United Steelworkers hall to inform the public of a wave of health care cuts planned by the provincial government. About 80 people filled the hall. Among them were health care and steel workers, union representatives, senior citizens, and various community groups. I attended the meeting on behalf of Common Cause Hamilton. The following is a brief report highlighting the main points that were made on the night.

First, it is clear that we are facing a round of cuts to health care not seen since the Mike Harris era. The Ontario Health Coalition, a group made up of unions and community organizations, presented a report outlining the major “restructuring” to the health care system currently underway or planned for next year. As Natalie Mehra, the coalition director put it, “We are seeing the deepest and most widespread hospital cuts in more than a decade.” The provincial government is creating a pretext for the cuts by creating what one speaker referred to as “fake deficits.” The rate of funding has been set at less than the rate of inflation meaning that hospitals cannot maintain the same level of services year to year without going into deficit. Already 50% of hospitals in the province are in deficit and the number is expected to jump to 70% next year, according to the OHC.

Mohawk Anarcha-Indigenist Taiaiake Alfred Speaks at McMaster University

By Petre Marin
November 29, 2008

A Kanienkeha (Mohawk) militant, intellectual and professor at the University of Victoria, Taiaiake Alfred was invited to McMaster University because he is widely acknowledged as among the most renowned scholars in indigenous studies on the continent. But Taiaiake is not a typical academic nor was he here to give an academic talk as he made clear right away. Speaking at Convocation Hall surrounded by portraits of bearded upper class white men, the wealthy elite of McMaster's past, Taiaiake, a former US marine had this to say: “In the marines we have a saying. 'The enemy is in front of us, behind us, on our left and on our right. We have the SOBs right where we want them.” The scene captured perfectly the situation of all rebels today: within and against the system that exploits and oppresses us.

Taiaiake is first and foremost a Mohawk warrior or militant. His revolutionary goal is the decolonization of his people and the achievement of cultural, political and economic autonomy for all indigenous people on the continent. The message of his lecture, like his written work, was thus mostly intended for the indigenous people who made up a good portion of the audience. (He later spoke on the Six Nations reserve near Caledonia).

The heart of his message was that decolonization cannot be achieved by working through the legal-institutional process set up by the Canadian government for dealing with the demands of indigenous people. According to Taiaiake, this system, which includes “Aboriginal” rights defined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the land negotiations process, is in fact only the latest form of colonization.

Montrealers Shown Torture on the Streets

October 19th marked the beginning of Hassan Almrei's eighth year in prison, most of it spent in solitary confinement, and of course without ever having been given any kind of fair hearing or opportunity to clear his name.

The following day, in downtown Montreal, a few people set up a mock solitary confinement cell, decorated on the inside with drawings of torture techniques. The drawings in recognition of the fact that Hassan has not only been locked up all these long years, he has been kept under the threat of deportation to Syria. As Hassan knows - and as all the judges, government ministers, members of Parliament, government lawyers, and CSIS officials who
have been involved in keeping him in this situation know - Syria is the country where Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin, and Ahmed El Maati were detained and tortured with, as it turns out, the involvement of
Canadian officials.

Hassan is now the sole detainee at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC). KIHC is fittingly called "Guantanamo North" because of the principles on which it is based: arbitrary, indefinite detention; racism; secrecy; and torture.

Passers-by were handed information about Hassan and asked to stay in touch.

The cell was built to measure 1m by 3m, the size of the solitary confinement cell in Montreal's Rivière des prairies prison, the prison where Sogi Singh, Adil Charkaoui, Ivan Apaolaza Sancho and other immigrants spent years of their lives. Just like Hassan Almrei, they were detained without a trial, sometimes on the basis of information that came from torture, and under threat of being sent to places where they could themselves be subject to physical torture.

Caravaners Speak about Canada's Complicity in Torture

October saw the travels of the Caravan against torture swing into Hamilton. They were on a southern Ontario tour and came to highlight Canada’s complicity in torturing people abroad.

The stars of the tour, tortured Canadian-Syrian citizens Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin, could not be there unfortunately. They were in Ottawa looking over the contents of the newly released Iacobucci Inquiry. The inquiry found that the department of Foreign Affairs, the RCMP and CSIS was indirectly responsible for their torture. Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin were never allowed to attend their own inquiry.

In their place members of the Caravan spoke about other acts of torture Canada has been complicit in and why they chose to go on the road.

Nadin spoke of his experience kneeling in an orange jumpsuit on Brock University’s campus. He lasted fifteen minutes and could not understand how others spent hours and hours in that position. Also of surprise to him was how so many students could walk by him without glancing or giving him a second thought.

Sue Breeze recalled Martin Luther King Jr.’s words that there was a time when silence became betrayal. She was ashamed of our government and its actions made her hurt and angry. “I’m still shocked that so many don’t know or care who Maher Arar is. It speaks to our indifference, racism and ethnocentricity.”

The Canadian Colombian connection was also featured on the bill. Heather Laurel, in an impassioned speech, spoke of her travels in Columbia. “Prime Minister Harper concluded on a trade mission that human rights had improved in Columbia. That’s not what I saw!” Canadian corporations are going to Columbia, taking land forcing the people off. To carry out this work they hire paramilitaries to disappear union organizers and resisters.

Anarchist analysis of the global capitalist crisis (sildeshow and talk)

A very detailed talk on the cause of the current world financial crisis that starts off by explaining the background economics in an easy to understand manner, moves on to the role the war and other events apart from the sub-prime crash played and concludes with a look at what opportunities have been created for anarchist by this sequence of events. The discussion afterwards concentrates on the specifics of the situation in Ireland where the meeting was recorded.

Talk was given by Paul Bowman to a Workers Solidarity Movement meeting in Dublin on Oct. 1st, 2008.

Debt and Exploitation: The Coming Economic Crisis

Oct. 1, 2008
BY PETRE MARIN

Unless you have been stuck in a cave somewhere over the past few weeks, you have no doubt heard about the financial crisis south of the border. You have also likely heard Canadian officials and business people claim that the Canadian economy is doing just fine and is immune from the US turmoil. We can hardly expect them to say other wise, not least during an election. But in fact there is more than a good chance that Canada will follow the US into a major economic crisis.

If this does happen it will not be just because financial deregulation has allowed the banks to risk our savings on the crisis-ridden financial markets. It will also not be just because investors have created new and high-risk ways to play the global financial casino. It will not even be just because the US market, where most of Canada's exports go, will have closed shop. For sure, financial deregulation and so-called “free trade” shoulder a lot of the blame for this mess. But the fundamental source of the problem goes beyond these policies. We are about to reach the limits of the economic model that has been imposed on us for the past 30 years.

This model can be called the “low wage/high debt” economic model. Beginning in the early 1980s it has come to replace the old “high wage/high production” model. Under the old model, companies sought to turn big wage gains made by workers' struggles into profits by: a) demanding a faster pace of work (higher productivity) and b) by encouraging a culture of consumerism so that workers would use their high wages to buy the vast amount of goods being produced. This came to be know as the productivity deal.

Report - Common Cause Hamilton's September Anarchist Discussion Group: Canada's Residential Schools

Common Cause Hamilton's monthly anarchist discussion group continued this September 16 with a screening of Kevin Annett's documentary, "Unrepentant: Kevin Annett and Canada's Genocide." Connie, a member of Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared (FRD), one of the principal groups seeking justice for the victims of Canada's residential school system, introduced the film and also led the subsequent discussion. About a dozen people attented, several of whom took copies of the film to show it elsewhere.

The film itself is about Canada's residential school system. For over 100 years the Canadian government forced indigenous children to attend schools run by Canada's major churches. The schools were intended to strip indigenous children of their languages and cultures and turn them into Christian, white, workers. See "Residential School Apology: An Anarchist View" in [url=http://linchpin.ca/issue5]Linchpin 5[/url] for more info.

The film argues that the residential school system was in fact planned genocide. It cites evidence from the Canadian government's own files that over 50% of all children who attended the schools died, particularly from tuberculosis. It presents the findings of Peter Bryce, Canada's Indian Affairs chief medical officer in the early 1900s, who after investigating, concluded that there was a deliberate policy of keeping sick and healthy children together. According to the film, at least 50,000 children died during the 100 years that the schools operated.

Report from the 2008 Ontario Conference of Common Cause

Report from the 2008 Ontario Conference of Common Cause.

On August 16 and 17, 2008 Common Cause, an Ontario Anarchist-Communist organization, held it's second annual Ontario-wide conference in Hamilton, Ontario.

In attendance were members from Common Cause Branches in Hamilton, Ottawa, and Toronto as well as observers from the Four Star Anarchist Organization based in Chicago.

We started with reports from Ontario Officers and local Branches, which gave us a good overall view of the organization in our rookie year. We were generally pleased with the progress we have made as an organization since our founding Conference in 2007 though we recognize that we still have a long way to go before we represent a significant revolutionary organization.

In 2007/ 2008 significant activities included organizing the 1st annual Hamilton Anarchist Bookfair, which was a smashing success; Publishing five issues of the free Linchpin Newspaper which currently has a print run of 1700 copies with many more downloaded off our popular website; Regular public anarchist discussion groups in Hamilton, Ottawa, and a book club in Toronto.

Much of the first day was spent working on proposals on our internal democratic structures, and in the end we passed significant amendments to our constitution.

The second day was split between political discussions on subjects such as a proposed Equity Policy, Gender and Women's oppression, and Nationalism and anti-imperialism. In the end no papers were adopted. However, some of them were sent to working groups and an proposal was passed that we we hold a yearly day-school to work on policy development and building our member's skills.

We also discussed our activities and strategies in relation to the Labour movement; Indigenous struggles; The G8 summit in 2010; Our publications such as the Linchpin Newspaper; and working with other Anarchists and organizations on the Left.

Court Support: Thur. Aug. 21st 8:45am

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Court Support for the Fight Fees 14
When: Thursday, August 21st
Time: 8:45 am
Where: Old City Hall (60 Queen St. West)
Court Room 111
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Its been almost 4 months since the University of Toronto has pressed criminal charges against 14 university students, alumni, and staff as well as pursuing Student Code of Conduct investigations against 13 students. With September just around the corner, U of T is not backing down and these charges are still hanging over the heads of the 14 students and community members.

Photos from Loomis Info Picket

On July 27, 2008, Common Cause and the Industrial Workers of the World organized an informational picket in support of CNT union members in France who were sacked with no compensation by the owner of De Serres / Loomis.

More information can be found at http://linchpin.ca/events/Toronto-Picket-Solidarity-CNT-F-workers-France

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