Friday, November 24, 2017

The 1933 Unemployed Invasion of Kingston City Hall

By Doug Nesbitt

In early 1933, three out of ten Canadians were unemployed. Kingston did not escape the Great Depression and unemployment was higher than usual because many people were attracted to the city and the Barriefield relief camp for work. But like the rest of the country, the camps could not accommodate everyone because over two million Canadians – 1 in 5 - were dependent on some form of relief.

There was almost no social safety net to speak of when the Great Depression hit in 1929. Old Age Pensions had been established a few years before and Workers’ Compensation had existed since 1914. Canada did not yet have social assistance or unemployment insurance. People relied heavily on paying for what they needed through wages. When the crash hit, charity from the churches was simply unable to cope with the crisis.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A letter about raising minimum wage

Re: Irene Liu’s “Raising the minimum wage isn’t a solution to student poverty” (January 24 2017)

Contrary to Irene Liu’s arguments, raising the minimum wage in Ontario to $15/hour would in fact do a great deal to alleviate poverty among students, and take a step in the right direction of reversing the low-waging of Ontario’s economy.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

For The People? Early state ownership in Ontario

October 11 1910: Ontario Hydro power is switched on for Berlin (Kitchener) 

The "Laurier Boom" spanning the late 1890s to the immediate pre-war years was the onset of municipal ownership of utilities (telephone, water, gas, streetcars, electricity). In this period, Ontario also took enormous first steps towards state ownership of industry, most famously with the 1906 creation of Ontario Hydro, but also with the formation of what we now know as Ontario Northland in 1902.

Both the political left and right often portray state ownership as a form of socialism. What is striking about this early period of municipal and state ownership of utilities and infrastructure is the degree of clarity with which Ontario's political elites rejected the claim that state ownership was socialism.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Democracy vs Confederation: Médéric Lanctôt and Les Rouges

The first Canadian red scare came in the 1860s as part of the project to push through Confederation. The Quebec Tories, led by George-Étienne Cartier and allied to John A. Macdonald's Upper Canadian Tories, were strong political allies with the Catholic Church. They waged a war on Les Rouges, a Montreal-centred political movement which carried on the radical democratic and republican politics of the 1837-38 rebellions and 1848 revolutions.

As Confederation was cobbled together by elites from each province against widespread popular opposition in the Maritimes and Quebec, the Conservative Party of Cartier and Macdonald used parliament, the pulpit, and the papers to defeat this increasingly agitational threat in Quebec. Lies, slander, religion, and organized intimidation were directed against the democratic republican movement based out of Montreal's Institut Canadien.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Worst Case Ontario? TA unions and tuition fees

The following piece tries to develop two observations in order to point towards a new strategy for fighting tuition fees in Ontario. This strategy is only sketched out and not developed. Hopefully this has some relevance to students in other provinces.
  1. Ontario's TA unions are losing the battle to defend contract language which keeps tuition fees down
  2. At present, Ontario's student movement has neither the organization or strategy to fight tuition fees

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Unions slide from unity to enmity over Tim Hudak"

Here's a huge reason why Ontario labour remains stuck and ineffective as a movement: an evolving 20-year battle at the top of the province's major unions over election strategies because there is no commitment to a political strategy that would involve serious extra-parliamentary or even workplace mobilization.

Whether campaigning openly for the NDP, or openly for Anybody-But-Hudak, or funding issue-based TV ads that lend to strategic voting, Ontario's unions have all allowed their political strategies to be narrowed and whittled down to electoralism.

Only labour's agitation for the minimum wage bucks this trend.

There are of course other issues driving these splits, but it is the political strategy of labour that has to be addressed first and foremost.

Problems of personality and territorialism will always persist but it couldn't hurt to have some new people with new ideas.

Postering etiquette 101

1. Don't poster over events that haven't happened

2. Don't poster over non-event art and political posters/statements

3. Poster over corporate bullshit

4. Keep postering to assert control over public and bogus "private" space