On June 10th, 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will address the Conservative Party of Canada’s (CPC) National Convention in downtown Ottawa. Taking place during the 3 day CPC National Convention at the Ottawa Convention Centre, Harper’s address to the gathered Conservative Party members will be his first major address after winning a majority government in the last election.

We invite all those opposed to the Harper’s right-wing agenda to come together on Friday, June 10th, and make clear to the Conservative Party that we will not sit idly by while they attack our communities.

The Conservative Party has been in power in Canada since 2006, and in those 5 long years we have seen the dismantling, defunding and discrediting of countless progressive organizations and programs. We have seen a continuation of the war in Afghanistan and occupation of Haiti, and ever increasing military spending. We have seen continued attacks on First Nations communities, while hundreds of indigenous women are still missing or presumed dead. The environmentally catastrophic project that is the Tar Sands charges forward at full speed, and real environmental norms are still just a dream. We are seeing an increasingly dangerous and racist
militarization of our borders and an alarming rise in the number of deportations. And Canada’s unwavering support for Israeli apartheid continues, even in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, the flotilla murders and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and despite international calls for solidarity with the Palestinian people.

CUPW keeps its options open in strike negotiations

By Greg Macdougall
Originally published at | May 19, 2011

Postal service in Canadian cities is in jeopardy from next week if last-minute negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) do not succeed in coming to an agreement. The possibility of a strike by the union or lockout by management comes into effect on midnight May 24, with a 72-hours notice being given before any such action is taken.

At a press conference on May 18 (see video below), CUPW national president Denis Lemelin announced an agreement that would ensure cheques from the federal government for pensions, old age security and child benefits would still be delivered in the event of a strike, along with social assistance cheques in some provinces and territories (other provincial and territorial governments opted out of the deal). "For us, it's important because the fight is not between us and the public, the struggle we have is with Canada Post. We want to assure the people who are living on cheques, that they will receive their cheques."

But in terms of agreeing on a new collective agreement for CUPW urban operations members, there wasn't much good news. Canada Post say that the changes they are trying to bring about "are needed to keep [us] financially viable and secure the future of the postal system in this country." This, despite 16 straight years of profits at the crown corporation.

"We're proud of the work we're doing," says Lemelin. "That's why we have that [‘Respect'] button, to respect the fact that we are the workers who made this corporation profitable."

Fighting back against police violence, and uniting for alternatives

Article and videos from the Rally Against Police Violence, and the Forum on Police Violence, Incarceration and Alternatives, held in Ottawa in mid-March 2011.

Videos produced by M-Media for Common Cause Ottawa

Ottawa Rally Against Police Violence - March 15, 2011

by Krishna Bera, Tara Lyons & Greg Macdougall

On 15 March 2011, about 75 people demonstrated against police violence in downtown Ottawa, marking the International Day Against Police Brutality. This was the first year an event was held in Ottawa, taking the lead from the annual march in Montreal that started in 1997. Toronto and Halifax also saw marches commemorating the day this year, while Winnipeg held one the following Saturday.

In Ottawa, participants gathered at the Human Rights Monument, where Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont delivered opening remarks; Frederique Chabot of POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa: Work, Educate and Resist) spoke next, noting the police’s harassment and unequal treatment of sex workers and members of the LGBTQ communities. After the crowd marched down Elgin Street to the Ottawa Police station, Andrew Nellis of the Ottawa Panhandlers’ Union and Matthew Morgan-Brown of OPIRG/GRIPO-Ottawa both spoke of their personal experiences of (mis)treatment by the police/criminal system, drawing particular attention to the systemic nature of the problem of police violence.

Geert Wilders Rallies the Racists & Religious Sectarians of Toronto

By Brandon Gray

The notoriously xenophobic Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right 'Party for Freedom' - which holds 24 seats in the Dutch parliament - descended on the Canadian Christian College in northern Toronto on May 9 to spew his racist filth to a receptive audience of Christian chauvinists, as their far-right allies, the Jewish Defense League (JDL), managed parking. The event was given extensive coverage in the National Post] and Sun Media, thereby advancing the idea of a 'culture war' between good white Judeo-Christians and the wretched 'others'.

With very short notice, an admittedly small group of anti-racist anarchists and First Nations solidarity activists were able to mobilize to confront Wilders and his horde of social degenerates. Bearing placards reading, amongst other slogans, “Semantics can't hide racist logic” and “No to racism, colonialism, and islamophobia,” this handful of activists stood their ground as a disproportionate number of police and security agents took photos and notes.

At one point, a beefy older man approached the protesters and stood beside them. After feigning hurt feelings when asked why he was wearing an earpiece, the man later identified himself as a RCMP agent. After a bit of painfully awkward banter, one of the assembled protestors bluntly asked him if he knew how many native people his organization had murdered. The pig then scurried away, making dismissive excuses.

Cops Pack Fat onto City Budget

By Devin K.

Hamilton Police Services and the Police Service board are currently attempting to force the city to approve a near 5% ($6.2 million) budget increase. The current process began after city council initially refused the proposed police budget and requested that it be scaled back and re-worked, with budget increases limited to inflation - a call made to all city boards and agencies, but ignored by the cops.

Year after year the police’s cut has consistently gotten fatter, despite a falling crime rate and with little deliberation at city hall. The primary motive behind this year’s increase is simply the cops giving themselves a raise – salary and benefit increases make up 4.41% of the 5%. This is particularly heinous within the context of a province wide wage freeze for public sector workers and the cost cutting other city agencies like hospitals have been forced to undertake.

Mayor and vice chair of the police services board Bob Bratina lazily justified the increase by telling the Hamilton Spectator that any cuts to the budget would result in “officers being taken off the street”. This would be a relief to anyone but Bob and his rich friends, given the suffocating over-policing already happening in downtown Hamilton. The ACTION Team* has become infamous in the last year for the brutal and militaristic tactics they use to clear the streets of youth, poor folk and anyone else hanging around – those very individuals Bob lovingly referred to as “bums and winos”, prior to becoming mayor. A new mounted unit is another expensive eyesore taking up space on King Street.

Genuine change can only come from ourselves

"Genuine change can only come from ourselves", a joint initiative of Common Cause and Union Communiste Libertaire

Every election time comes with its load of promises. They say that this time is the right time for change. Again. All parties, and even the one that's been governing since the last election, assure us that they'll make it all better.

Opposite of other electoral websites, we don't have anything for sale. We're not aiming at convincing you to trust us. We don't want your vote.

Here, we'd like to offer a different perspective of elections and politics in general, starting by asking the question "Voting, what's the point?"

Read more:

United We Eat, Divided We Starve

By Claire Voltarin

On April 1, members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), people on social assistance and their allies took to the streets of downtown Toronto to protest the slashing of the Special Diet Allowance supplement to Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

Demonstrators converged on Nathan Phillip’s Square to mingle and enjoy a free meal before crossing the street to rally outside the Sheraton Hotel, where Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan was speaking at a $90-a-seat luncheon. The inherent hypocrisy between cutting vital financial support required for poor people to eat, while on the same day hosting an expensive fundraising lunch, was pointed out by OCAP organizer John Clarke as he addressed the crowd under a large banner emblazoned with the 1930’s-era workers’ slogan: [i]United we eat, divided we starve.[/i]

Participants were then treated to a theatrical presentation put on by students from a grade seven/eight math class, which demonstrated the economic polarization that has resulted from decades of neoliberal policies. The demonstration then marched up University Ave, and across Wellesley to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, where additional speakers from OCAP, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and Ottawa’s Under Pressure spoke to the devastating effects of the Special Diet cuts and the importance of defending the supplement.

The “new” Special Diet Allowance was rolled out on April 1, and all recipients of the “old” Special Diet will be cut off on July 31. For many individuals and families living on social assistance, this change will mean a drastic loss of income. For some, it will mean once again encountering some of the serious risks associated with the extreme poverty that people on social assistance often face: illness, hunger and homelessness among them.

Race, class struggle and organized labour in the “Age of Wisconsin”

[b]By Ajamu Nangwaya[/b]

Madison, Wisconsin, may have given organized labour - or the labouring classes - a hint at the possibility of resistance in the streets of America. Or should the credit go to the children of Caliban [1] in the streets and squares of Egypt? Can you imagine the role reversal implied by the prospect of the children of Caliban’s teaching those of Prospero, the great civilizer, the art of being human or striving for moral autonomy…collective personhood?

Many commentators have asserted that if there had been no revolt in Egypt, and no forced departure of the pharaoh-like Hosni Mubarak, there would not have been mass protest action in that oh-so-white of a state, Wisconsin. It is simply amazing to think that the fair citizenry of Wisconsin would require an external political stimulus to challenge their exploitation; the racialized section of the United States’ working-class has been bearing the brunt of the racist, sexist and capitalist battering of the welfare state structures since the 1980s without much sympathy from their white working-class counterparts.

But predominantly-white Wisconsin is up in arms when the chicken comes home to roost in their own backyard! Martin Luther King was quite right when he declared, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We can only hope that white workers come to realize that white supremacist beliefs and practices only weaken the working-class - to the advantage of the small capitalist elite.

Raise the Rates 2011

Mass Demonstration!
Friday, April 1st, 2011
@ 12:00 Noon, Nathan Phillips Square
Toronto, ON

Join the Fightback to Raise the Rates!

It has been 16 long years since Mike Harris cut welfare and froze disability. McGuinty's Liberals have been in power for half that time and done nothing to deal with poverty. In fact people are worse off today. It would take a 55% increase to bring benefits to pre-Harris levels. If benefit levels were restored to the same level of spending power as we had in 1994, a single person on Ontario Works would receive $904 a month instead of the miserable $593 now being issued.

Now as the economy continues to slump and the need is greater than ever, this Government is destroying the vital Special Diet Allowance that has enabled people to survive. The new system they have proposed will provide benefits for fewer conditions and applicants will have to release medical information and face other intrusive measures designed to prevent access to the benefit. Within the Liberals’ own statement about this measure, they refer to the fact that ‘many will not be eligible’, and this is a move to ‘respect taxpayers’. The new Special Diet comes into effect on April 1st, 2011 and all those who are not eligible under the new program will be cut off by July 31st.

A Monumental Failure:Gary McHale and the ongoing antagonism of Six Nations

By Alex Balch

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the reclamation of Kanonhstaton (“The Protected Place”) by members of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations, a stand-off occurred between roughly a dozen supporters of self-proclaimed “law and order activist” Gary McHale and a crowd of approximately 100 demonstrators. The larger group had assembled to block McHale from stepping onto the contested area - once envisioned as the future site of the 40 hectare Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) subdivision, but nowadays much more famous for its role as a frontline in the battle for Indigenous rights in Canada.

An outspoken opponent of what he calls Canada’s “two-tiered justice system”, McHale has been involved in agitating around the so-called “Caledonia crisis” ever since shortly after the conflict broke out in 2006. His past stunts have included attempts to put up Canadian flags around the reclamation site, the formation of “concerned citizen” groups such as Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CANACE), various rallies and lawsuits, and even the failed formation of a “citizen’s militia” - ostensibly intended to carry out citizen’s arrests against Natives. It was in response to this latter stunt that the Six Nations Solidarity Network (SNSN) and the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group (FNSWG) first began organizing counter-demonstrations, bringing in non-native supporters from around southern Ontario in order to disrupt McHale’s carefully crafted media portrayal of a victimized white community under siege by lawless Natives.