Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tomorrow, Friday May 1, will be May Day, the day that most of the world considers to be the real Labour Day. The origins of this commemoration are quite often unknown, sometimes deliberately in the case of Communist parties who want to obscure its anarchist ancestry. Here from the website of the syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW- often referred to as "the Wobblies") is a capsule history of the birth of May Day. Go to the IWW website for a list of some of the events that wobs will be participating in on this day.

May 1: International Worker’s Day - Día Internacional De Los Trabajadores:
Yet again May Day quickly approaches. Since 2006 the immigrant rights marches- made up of millions of undocumented migrant workers along with their supporters, families and children- has brought back May 1st to its original roots in the US. But many are still unaware of its origins in US labor history and the impact this commemorative day still has internationally- such as you can still walk into neighborhoods in Mexico and find streets such as “Calle Los Mártires de Chicago” (Martyrs of Chicago Street).

Below is a short, pamphlet length piece I edited on the origins and radical history of May Day. For an in depth look you might try Paul Avrich’s classic “The Haymarket Tragedy” and AK Press offers a listing of books they carry on the subject here. -AW
What is May Day and why is it called International Workers Day?
May 1st, International Worker’s Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world, and is recognized in every country except the United States and Canada. This is despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880’s in the United States, with the fight for an eight-hour work day led by immigrant workers. The recent historic marches and protests for immigrant rights, which began with “El Gran Paro Americano 2006,” have brought back into our memories May 1 as an important day of struggle. Although the history of the day has largely been forgotten in the United States, it is still actively remembered and celebrated today by workers, unionists and oppressed peoples all over the world. In fact you can still walk through neighborhoods in Mexico and find streets such as Calle Los Martires de Chicago in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, commemorating the leaders of the eight-hour day movement who were imprisoned and executed.

It is not surprising that the government, business leaders, mainstream union leaders, and the media would want to hide the true history of May Day, portraying it as a “communist” holiday celebrated only in the Soviet Union. In its attempt to erase the history and significance of May Day, the United States government declared May 1st to be “Law Day,” and gave us instead Labor Day—a holiday devoid of any historical significance other than a three weekend holiday at the end of the summer.
The Story of the Eight-Hour Day Movement
In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day’s work from and after May 1, 1886. The resolution called for a general strike (meaning a strike of all workers at all workplaces) to achieve the goal, since years of lobbying and legislative methods had already failed. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, rank-and-file support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders. By April 1886, 250,000 workers across the US were involved in the May Day movement.

The heart of the movement was in Chicago, organized primarily by the anarchist International Working People’s Association which believed in using education and direct action to create a free and revolutionary society based on the end of capitalism, the end of inequality based on class, race and sex, and where working and oppressed peoples and communities were able participate and have a meaningful voice in society. Their movement was based in the working class immigrant communities of the city, mainly among Germans, and was centered around a vibrant radical community that included daily and weekly newspapers in several languages, cultural clubs, youth groups, choirs, sports teams and especially within labor unions.

Businesses and the government were terrified by the increasingly revolutionary character of the movement and prepared accordingly. The police and militia were increased in size and received new and powerful weapons financed by local business leaders. Chicago’s Commercial Club purchased a $2000 machine gun for the Illinois National Guard to be used against strikers. Nevertheless, by May 1st, the movement had already won gains for many Chicago clothing cutters, shoemakers, and packing-house workers. Many participated in strikes and hundreds of thousands- estimated between 300,000 and 1 million- participated in marches and parades on that day. But on May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works Factory, killing four and wounding many. Anarchists called for a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality of the police.

The meeting proceeded without incident, and by the time the last speaker was on the platform, the rainy gathering was already breaking up, with only a few hundred people remaining. It was then that 180 cops marched into the square and ordered the meeting to disperse. As the speakers climbed down from the platform, a bomb was thrown at the police, killing one and injuring seventy. Police responded by firing into the crowd, killing one worker and injuring many others.
The Story of the Haymarket Martyrs
Although it was never determined who threw the bomb, the incident was used as an excuse to attack the entire Left and labor movement. Police ransacked the homes and offices of suspected anarchists and socialists and hundreds were arrested without charge. Anarchists in particular were harassed, and eight of Chicago’s most active leaders in the movement—Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel, Adolph Fischer, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden and Oscar Neebe—were charged with conspiracy to murder in connection with the Haymarket bombing. A kangaroo court found all eight guilty, despite a lack of evidence connecting any of them to the bomb-thrower (only one was even present at the meeting, and he was on the speakers’ platform). On August 19th seven of the defendants were sentenced to death and Neebe to 15 years in prison.

After a massive international campaign for their release, the government “compromised” and commuted the sentences of Schwab and Fielden to life imprisonment. Lingg cheated the hangman by committing suicide in his cell the day before the executions. On November 11th 1887 Albert Parsons, George Engel, August Spies and Adolf Fischer were hanged. Six hundred thousand working people turned out for their funeral. The campaign to free Neebe, Schwab and Fielden continued.

On June 26 1893, Governor Altgeld set them free because they were innocent of the crime for which they had been tried. They and the hanged men had been the victims of “hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge.” Evidence later came to light that the bomb may have been thrown by a police agent working for Captain Bonfield, as part of a conspiracy involving certain steel bosses to discredit the labor movement.
The Legacy of the Haymarket Incident
When Spies addressed the court after he had been sentenced to die, he was confident the repression of the government would not succeed. “If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement . . . the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil in misery and want, expect salvation—if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread on a spark, but there and there, behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.”

Nevertheless, rather than suppressing labor and radical movements, the events of 1886 and the execution of the Chicago anarchists actually mobilized many generations of radicals. Two lesser known but inspirational revolutionary women emerged out of this legacy. Emma Goldman- who would become a famous anarchist speaker, feminist and labor activist from the 1910’s through the 1930’s- was a young immigrant from Russia at the time, later pointed to the Haymarket affair as her moment of political birth. Lucy Gonzalez Parsons, widow to Chicago Martyr Albert Parsons, was born in Texas as a slave and was of Black, Native American and Mexican ancestry, played a leading role in campaigning for the release of the imprisoned activists. Active in anarchist and labor movements long before the Haymarket incident, she continued to play a role in labor organizing (participating in the founding of the radical Industrial Workers of the World), advocated for women workers, published an anarchist newspaper The Liberator and fought for racial justice up until her death in 1942 at 89 years old.

By covering up the history of May Day, the government, business, mainstream unions, and the media have attempted to hide an entire legacy of dissent in this country. They are terrified of what a similarly militant and organized movement could accomplish today, and they suppress the seeds of such organization whenever and wherever they can. As workers, students and community members committed to building a new and free society, we must recognize and commemorate May Day not only for its historical significance, but also as a time to organize around issues of vital importance to working-class people today.

Linchpin, the regular publication of the Ontario platformist organization Common Cause, is now out with its ninth edition. There is a downloadable pdf version at the website. Here's the announcement.
Linchpin Issue 9:

A newly designed issue of Linchpin, Common Cause's free paper, is now out for April/May.

As the recession deepens, employers continue to discard their workers, many of whom are experiencing the inadequacy of government safety nets for the first time. This issue reviews steel and auto worker responses in Hamilton and Windsor. It also provides an anarchist perspective on health care as the McGuinty government quietly leaves hospitals with no choice but to layoff staff, introduce service fees or allow services to erode.

Sarah Lawrance of Ottawa's EXILE Infoshop explains the staples of anarchist activity as educational and liberatory. Kim Mackrael of the Indigenous Peoples Solidary Network shines a light on the latest indications the Harper government wants to undermine Barriere Lake's autonomy.

Pick up a copy of Linchpin in Toronto at Toronto Women's Bookstore (73 Harbord), in Ottawa at EXILE Infoshop (256 Bank St), in Hamilton at Sky Dragon Centre 27 King William), and in London at Empowerment Infoshop (636 Queens Ave). Or download the pdf file linked below.
Andrew Loucks

This paper is published by Common Cause, an Ontario wide anarchist federation. At the first Common Cause Ontario conference held in Toronto we agreed to a basic policy document, a constitution, and a basic publication plan both online in terms of a website (, and a free printed newspaper which will be distributed in large numbers.

The following communique is from the Anarckisterna group in Sweden, and their creative protest vehicle, the "Yellow Army Faction" (GAF). It's report of how they invaded the press conference of the Vattenfall (Waterfall in Swedish) company that was held after the annual corporate general meeting. According to the Wikipedia entry on Vattenfall, this company, wholly owned by the Swedish government is becoming one of the primary energy companies in northern Europe. To do this it has invested heavily in "brown coal" plants (46% of its generation) and nuclear power (28%). the charge that they are involved in "greenwashing" made by the GAF is more than backed up by the facts. Read the following comminiqué, and go to the link provided for video of the action and further information on the Vattenfall company and its actions.
Yellow Army Faction invading press conference of Vattenfall:‏

Yellow Army Faction invading press conference of Vattenfall
Yesterday the Yellow Army Faction, GAF, invaded the press conference of Vattenfall after their annual general meeting. GAF issued this statement:
Today the Yellow Army Faction invaded the press conference of Vattenfall greenwashing Lars G Josefsson and Co, who were bullshitting the media at their annual general meeting, to raise awareness of how they are portraying themselves as holding the solution to the climate crisis, while in fact they are the problem. We refuse to stand silently by while they are pushing us further towards destruction.
Not for an instant do we believe that the same dirty company causing climate changes, or the political system backing it up, can solve the climate crisis. An industrialised capitalist economy cannot get by without fossil fuels. It is built on the access to cheap energy that is easily taken from the ground. All economic growth is directly linked to the growing consumption of oil and coal. Lars G Josefsson, vice of Vattenfall, clearly expresses this logic: “Developing renewable energy sources is expensive”, he says. “To afford doing so, Vattenfall has to invest largely into the profitable coal energy.” (It seems that this is some variant of the old' "I'll stop doing 'X', but I've got to keep doing it some more so I can afford to stop. This excuse is in wide circulation for a variety of behaviors-Molly)
To be able to continue with its lucrative coal energy, Vattenfall tries to hoax us by saying new technology will solve the problem. With the so called “Carbon Capture and Storage” technique coal carbon dioxide is to be captured and“decontaminated”.
But if one believes that new technology can solve the problem, one hasn’t understood what technology is. Technology is but a part of a whole society, in this case western industrial society, relying on cheap energy. A need for energy that won’t be satisfied before nature, humans and our life-supporting system has been exploited to the brink of extinction. Solving this problem is not included in the time frame that Vattenfall's quarterly economics allows.
The real solutions to the problems of energy and climate crises come from below. They are small scale, locally controlled and aimed at supplying our basic needs. To the people of Sweden! Vattenfall is owned by you. Lars G Josefsson is employed by you. It is time to revolt and take the power back!
The Yellow Army Faction consists of the 240 480 yellow plastic figurines that Vattenfall has created in their filthy “green washing” campaign. But we have fought loose and sworn to fight to the last figurine against Vattenfall and capitalism driving our Earth towards destruction!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I always know when Julie Couillard has launched another effort in her continued campaign to make money by imitating Paris Hilton ie "being famous for being famous". Molly had more than a little bit of fun at the expense of the voyeuristic section of the population at the beginning of the "great tit scandal" and the latter revelations about Couillard's past. Who knows how many hundreds of people have dropped by this site in their search for "Julie Couillard tits" and "Julie Couillard pics". Every time Couillard scores a point in her financial campaign back here they come . Do a search on this blog to find the essense of the joke. It's connected to the photo above, a picture of the "blue tit", something that Julie would have had if she had worn her famous dress during our six months of Canadian winter.

The problem is that, despite how much I may try to construct weird humour, I can never equal the weirdness and humour of the reality in situations such as these. It's beyond me. This thing is its own parody. I do, however, take a sick pleasure in giving the voyeurs a little bit of annoyance. Tracing back the hits connected to this image I find that the vast majority come from various government offices during so-called "work hours". Not that I have any great objections to this. Personally I think it's great. I'd much rather have the average civil serpent searching the internet for a cheap thrill than actually working and doing harm. this, I guess, may be Molly's most significant contribution to "harm reduction" in our society.

Another thing that I notice is that Couillard is definitely playing this for all it is worth, and making at least a moderate success out of it. She'll keep pumping the pump until it is utterly dry, and so far she's made a good effort out of it. Take, for instance, "name recognition". I suspect that the majority of Canadians are just like me. The name Couillard evokes immediate recognition. I had to look up the name of her disgraced ex-boyfriend, the late cabinet minister Maxime Bernier. It drew a blank. I'm sure that Bernier, like all conservative guardians of "morality", has a fine future ahead of him in sleazy real estate deals and shady government contracts, but he just doesn't have the pizzazz of Couillard. I'm also sure that everything that each one of this pair says is bad about the other is absolutely true- and deserves elaboration for that matter.

Another thing that I've noticed is that two of the images that I have used in previous Couillard articles get excessive hits from google image searches whenever Julie is in the news. I really don't know how images labelled "biker chick" and "domiatrix" automatically bring people to articles about Couillard, but it's a fact that they do. Weird. As to Julie's "disreputable past", my own take on it, should I ever meet her, would be something like, "what's a nice biker chick like you doing getting involved with those criminal conservatives". What is the difference between "Steven's Angels" and the "Hell's Angels" ? Answer-success ! It is a never ending source of wonder to me how much so-called 'conservatives" in our society concentrate on "sins of the crotch" while ignoring and even praising "sins of the wallet". I am no fan of "the left", and the first word that comes to my mind when that term is used is "liar". But the right evokes a different conditioned reflex. For them the word "crook" comes as a first response.

But anyways, I just had to go and see what Julie's latest effort at publicity gathering was, and the result was bizarre beyond my expectations. Here's the story from the Globe and Mail.
Julie Couillard dress fetches $1,000:
Canadian Press
April 29, 2009 at 1:03 PM EDT
MONTREAL — The now infamous low-cut dress worn by Julie Couillard when she appeared at a Rideau Hall swearing-in ceremony in 2007 with her ex-boyfriend Maxime Bernier almost didn't garner any serious bids at a Montreal charity auction for epilepsy research on Tuesday night.
Ms. Couillard, a photogenic brunette, was prominently displayed on the front pages of numerous newspapers wearing the revealing frock, which ended up fetching $1,000. The paisley, flouncy dress with a plunging neckline was bought by a Montreal gynecologist whose husband is heavily involved in epilepsy research.

But the amount fell far below the $5,000 Ms. Couillard had hoped the dress would get — if for no other reason than the controversy her wearing it had created, particularly after her relationship with ex-cabinet minister Mr. Bernier ended. “I would have hoped to at least collect $5,000, but hey, at the end of the day it's a thousand and I'm so happy that it was a woman that bought it,” said Ms. Couillard, who was in charge of the charity event that raised more than $31,000.

“What happened with this dress is just the living proof that sexism is still out there and very healthy and it's only politically correct to just say that we have equality among the sexes — but we don't.”

Couillard was wearing the dress when first photographed with former Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier who later resigned when it was revealed he had left sensitive documents at her house. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

“It's still a man's world,” she added.

Mr. Bernier resigned his cabinet post as foreign affairs minister after it was revealed that he had left sensitive government documents at Ms. Couillard's Montreal-area home. The war-of-words between the two led to a public airing of Ms. Couillard's biker-filled past.

Ms. Couillard herself was plagued by epilepsy through out her childhood but hasn't had seizures since she was 18 thanks to medication, but she said that research funding was lacking in the field.

The much-ballyhooed dress was purchased Tuesday night by Dr. Lucie Morin, a Montreal doctor whose husband, Dr. Lionel Carmant, is a neurologist involved in epilepsy research and head of the foundation the auction was for.

“I bought it for the cause,” said Ms. Morin, who added she was disappointed that the dress wasn't living up to the hype and the bids at the end of the night were uninspired. “(Epileptic research) is a very important cause because it doesn't get a lot of attention.”

Ms. Morin said she had no real interest in the dress and had no plans to do anything special with it.

“It's not the kind of dress I'd wear myself, but I'll see if my daughter likes it,” Ms. Morin said.

Ms. Couillard said the auctioning of the dress closes a chapter in her life, but she never imagined the dress, plucked quickly from a rack at a BCBG store in downtown Montreal, would create the stir that it did. “It makes me laugh,” she said.

“I find it funny that in the end something they tried to destroy me with, I was capable of turning it around and use it for something as positive as helping sick children.”

Ms. Couillard said her future will include working the conference circuit, with the theme of her talks being perception. “I can talk quite a bit about that with the year I've just had,” a confident Ms. Couillard said with a broad smile. “Basically to tell people never let the perception people have of you define who you are and understand very clearly how you perceive yourself limits you in life.”

Ms. Couillard has written a book about her life and describes Mr. Bernier as an inveterate skirt-chaser who was more interested in his clothes than his ministerial dossiers.

Mr. Bernier, elected in 2006, had been considered a star in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government and a star among the Tories' Quebec base until the so-called Bernier-Couillard affair.

He was easily re-elected in 2008
There it is in all its living glory. I wish Julie well in her campaign to avoid ever getting a real job. She would, however, have been better advised to take up politics to begin with. I thought such incredible bad taste was the domain of the USA and Japan, but I guess it's as Canadian as frostbite as well. I hope that Julie's little foray into pop-feminism above isn't what the article makes it appear to be ie that "sexism is alive" because the dress fetched only a miserly $1,000, but who knows when you are dealing to people like this. Probably not; probably just a complaint about the media attention paid to her appearance. I hope !! Speaking of "perception" Molly is going to hazard a bet here. Should Julie actually go on the lecture circuit I will bet that only 1% of the people who come out will be there because they are breathlessly awaiting her incredibly profound, philosophical and deep thoughts on the matter.
Too weird.
Too Weird.

Like most civilized places on the globe (or perhaps in imitation of such places) Winnipeg will also have its own May Day march tomorrow. Here's the lowdown from the Winnipeg Events calender.
May Day March:
Join the annual Winnipeg Labour Council march in celebration of May Day. This year will also mark the 90th Anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike. In recognition of this the march will go past many of the sites that are part of that history.

The march will start in Point Douglas, one of Winnipeg's oldest communities, opposite what was the Vulcan Iron Works in 1919. It will then go past Victoria Park; the site of the original Labour Temple; Hell's Alley and the site were Mike Sokolowski was shot and killed in the charge of the NWMP. With Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress and others.
Assemble at 6:00 pm, Joe Zuken Memorial Park (corner of Sutherland & Maple).
The May Day march is only part of a month-long "May Works" Festival here in the Peg. Here's a brief listing of events from the May Works site. Refer to the original for more details. Some of what is listed below, of course, begs for comment, and perhaps I'll do same in a future post.
Event Calendar
May 2009:
May Day March (6:00 pm)
Bringing Home the Bacon: An Exhibition of Art and Labour in Manitoba (8:00 pm)
GWG: Piece by Piece with music by Maria Dunn (1:30 pm)
Manitoba Cuba Solidarity (7:00 pm)
Spring Concert (1:30 pm)
May Day Banquet (6:00 pm)
May 4 Capitalism Hits the Fan (7:00 pm)
Insurrection (7:30 pm)
Rekindling the Spirit of 1919 - Conference (7:00 pm)
Rekindling the Spirit of 1919 (10:00 am)
Mostly Mandolins (8:00 pm)
General Strike Bus Tour (12:00 pm)
Rise Up Singing (7:30 pm)
The Trial of William A. Pritchard (7:30 pm)
Kerry Pither's Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror (7:00 pm)
The Notorious Mrs. Armstrong (2001) (7:00 pm)
Privatize this! (5:00 pm)
"Tory Times: The Right is Wrong" (7:15 pm)
Strike! - Winnipeg Shocks the Nation (1:00 pm)
Doors Open Festival (10:00 am)
MayWorks Picnic (12:00 pm)
Event Archives

Well, it won't exactly be May Day, the day after actually, but the following joint action planned for downtown Toronto this coming Saturday is very much in the spirit of international solidarity that May Day represents. Courtesy of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)...
No One Is Illegal!
May Day of Action:
Rally and March 2 May - 1pm
Meet: Sherbourne and Carlton
On April 2nd and 3rd, over 100 temporary and undocumented workers were attacked by armed border guards, dragged in to detention and are now being forcibly deported. On 2 May, thousands of us will say Enough!
Migrants, poor and working people; undocumented people and people of colour live in constant crisis in Canada, attacked daily. A crisis has always existed in Teesdale, in Regent Park, in farm fields, on factory floors and in hotel service areas.
Corporate and political elites are using the current 'Economic Crisis' as an excuse to attack poor, working-class and racialized communities by increasing immigration enforcement; stealing public funds; wrecking social services; taking away people's jobs rather than cutting profits and targeting those they perceive as the weakest - indigenous people; the homeless; refugee claimants; women in shelters; queer and trans migrants, caregivers; factory workers and temporary workers.
We say there are no illegal human beings, only unjust laws and governments. No one, poor or undocumented, is illegal. The struggle of workers - waged and unwaged, with or without immigration status – is against powerful elites and systems of oppression. Citizenship, jobs and houses - granted to some and denied to others - are tools to divide us.
We will not be divided.
On May 2, join thousands of us as we take to the streets and demand an end to corporate and state attacks on our communities. We demand an end to detentions and deportations. We demand access without fear to essential services. We demand an end to security certificates and secret trials. We demand a full and inclusive regularization program. We demand justice, dignity, and status for all!
We did not create this crisis, and we will not pay for it. On May 2nd, create power. Resist.
The May 2nd rally and march will be preceded by a May Day Festival, on May 1st at 6pm, at 25 Cecil Street. coorganized by: No One Is Illegal-Toronto Mujeres al Frente SAWRO Migrante Ontario Canadian HART Casa Salvador Allende Basics Newsletter OCAP Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty Sikh Activist Network Toronto New Socialists Barrio Nuevo the Stop Community Food Centre BAYAN Toronto PCLS OPIRG Toronto CAIA GGAPSS
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
10 Britain St.
Toronto, ON
M5A 1R6

Le numéro 24 de Cause commune, le journal de Québec de l'Union Communiste Libertaire est maintenant disponible sur le Web. Pour télécharger une version pdf allez à la site de La Commune en Montréal. Celui-ci est de La Commune.
Cause Commune no 24:
Le numéro 24 de Cause commune, le journal de l'Union communiste libertaire (UCL), est maintenant disponible sur le web. 5000 exemplaires papier de ce journal sont distribués gratuitement par des militantes et des militants libertaires, membres ou non de l’organisation. Cause commune se veut un tremplin pour les idées anarchistes, en appui aux mouvements de résistance contre les patrons, les proprios et leurs alliés au gouvernement. Vous pouvez soumettre un texte ou nous faire part de vos commentaires en écrivant à . Si le journal vous plaît et que vous voulez aider à le diffuser dans votre milieu, contactez le collectif de l’UCL le plus près de chez-vous.

Issue number 24 of Cause Commune, the journal of Québec's Union Communiste Libertaire, is now available on the web. To download a pdf versiongo to the La Commune site in Montréal. this is from la Commune.
Cause commune no 24:
Issue 24 of Common Cause, the newspaper of the Libertarian Communist Union (UCL), is now available on the web. 5000 copies of this newspaper are distributed free by militant activists and libertarians, both inside and outside of the organization. Common Cause is a springboard for anarchist ideas in support of resistance movements against the bosses, the owners and their allies in government. You can submit a text or send us your comments by writing to . If you like the newspaper and want to help distribute in your community, contact the UCL group nearest you.

Summary of Issue 24

*Caisse de dépôt et placement du Quebec - We contribute you invest, they pocket it!

*Opinion: A libertarian communist perspective on Anticapitalism

*Theatre: The responsibility(or charge) of the épormyable moose (***)
* NATO Summit in Strasbourg: all-out crackdown

*Montreal: Flics assassins! (killer cops-Molly)

*Demonstration against police brutality in Montreal: Reportback on March 15 2009

*Montreal: General Strike (s) at UQAM

*Saguenay: Lock-out at Le Réveil newspaper.

* May 1 meeting of the UCL
For the life of me I couldn't translate the title of this article. "Charge" may mean "responsibility", "load" or a legal " charge. The play itself concerns an interrogation of a psychiatric patient by psychologists, so perhaps any of these could apply, with legal "charge" the most likely. Trying to search for an English translation of "épormyable" was totally fruitless. While searching around I found out that nobody else seemed to have any idea either, not just my Larousse, but every online translation service and internet discussion boards on the play. The general concensus was that it is a made-up word. No doubt the author wished to mystify with the title. I'll definitely have to read the review in Cause Commune to see what the reviewer's opinion is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today was the International Workers' Memorial Day, a national day in many countries worldwide set aside to remember workers killed or injured on the job, including those affected by workplace induced illness. The facts themselves are startling enough. Each year over two million workers die of workplace injuries and illness across the globe. The rate of occupational accidents (270 million per year) and work-related illness (160 million) is even more disturbing (see the Wikipedia article on Workers' Memorial Day). Here in Canada, according to a CBC article, there have been 13,106 people killed in workplace "accidents" from 1993 to 2007. In 2007 alone 972,407 Canadian workers were injured or became ill due to work.

Workers' Memorial Day is actually a Canadian innovation. It was initiated by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in 1984, and the Canadian Labour Congress declared the day to be official in 1985. The US government recognized the day in 1989, and the Canadian government followed suit in 1991.

Here in Winnipeg this year's events were distinctly low key, and mostly in commemoration of the 61 Winnipeg City employees who have been killed on the job since 1978. Here's the story from the CBC article mentioned above.
Firefighters remembered during Manitoba's day of mourning:

CBC News
The names of three Winnipeg firefighters were added to the list of workers killed on the job, as the annual National Day of Mourning was commemorated Tuesday in the courtyard at city hall.

Leslie Helman, Alfred McDonald and Fred Roy died of work-related illness in the past year.

"These workers are not statistics. They are parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends and neighbours," Manitoba Labour Minister Nancy Allan said to the crowd. "Their loss and the loss felt by their families, their colleagues and their communities lingers."

The National Day of Mourning, held annually on April 28, was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991 — eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress.

The national event to remember workers who were injured or died on the job, or who died from a work-related illness, is now marked in more than 100 countries.

In Winnipeg, Tuesday morning's commemoration was the start of a full day of observances.

Worksite ceremonies are also being held at city facilities at 1155/1199 Pacific Avenue, 1220 Pacific Avenue, 598 Plinquet Street, and at the Millennium Library.

Sixty-one city employees have died of work-related causes since 1978.

"As public servants, it's our mission to serve citizens well, to do so safely, and return home safely to the ones we love," said City of Winnipeg chief administrative officer Glen Laubenstein.
Political and labour leaders will also gather at 11:55 a.m. at the Union Centre, 275 Broadway Ave., and then walk to the Manitoba legislature.

A news conference with Allan will be held at 12:15 p.m. in front of the grand staircase at the legislative building.

The event is organized by SAFE Workers of Tomorrow, a local organization dedicated to promoting workplace health and safety among young workers.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, in the 15-year period from 1993 to 2007, there were 13,106 people who lost their lives due to work-related causes.
In 2007 alone, 1,055 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada — an increase of 976 from the previous year. Another 972,407 were injured or become ill.

Data from 2007 is the most recently available.
Of course Winnipeg, not being the centre of the universe, was hardly the only place where the day was commemorated. The website of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union has a fine list of where there were events in Canada, and Hazards Magazine has a more general list of events worldwide. Down in the States there is also a fine new site, the United Support & memorial for Workplace Fatalities that I have mentioned before on this blog. Speaking of "mentioned before" it seems that i have written quite frequently on the subject of WMD over the years. Three times in 2009-Feb 27, March 7 and April 26. Three time in 2008-April 12 and two articles on April 28, and once in 2007-April 28. That first one is still my favourite. Here's what Molly said about this day two years ago.
Today, April 28th is international Workers' Memorial Day. This is a day set aside each year to remember workers killed or injured on the job and to demand changes that will prevent such occurrences in the future. This day is one of Canada's lesser known contributions to the world.
Workers' Memorial Day was first promoted by CUPE and other Canadian unions in 1984 following the deaths of four miners in Sudbury. The Canadian Labour Congress declared an annual day of remembrance in 1985 on April 28th, which is the anniversary of the first Workers' Compensation Act proclaimed in 1919. The Americans followed in 1989 with credit being given to the fact that April 28th is also the anniversary of the establishment of OSHA. The Canadian Parliament passed an act recognizing this day in 1991.
The campaign spread to the UK in 1992 where it was adopted by the TUC in 1999.
Meanwhile the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions began to observe the day in 1996, and in 2002 the International Labour Organization(ILO) announced that Workers' Memorial Day was to be an official event in the United Nations system. Today the day is observed worldwide as an "official" day in many countries while in others the union movement is pursuing recognition.

The ILO estimates that two million people die per year of work related accidents and diseases and that, every year, there are 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million incidents of work related illnesses. Work actually kills more people in the modern world than wars do. In the USA 5,734 workers were killed and 4.2 million people were injured at work in 2005. The Canadian statistics are available at . The situation is grimmer in Canada than in the USA in terms of fatalities which were at 1,097 in 2005. On a per capita basis workers are killed almost twice as frequently in Canada as in the US. This number has been steadily increasing in the last decade. The number of workplace injuries, however, has been steadily declining since it peaked in 1989, and in 2005 337,930 Canadian workers had suffered "compensatible injuries".

Hazards magazine maintains a website devoted to WMD with links to events worldwide. Together with the Labour Start online union solidarity site Hazards has initiated the Health and Safety Newswire. See this for more information.

Finally, there is a petition at the Canadian Injured Workers Society calling on the Canadian federal government to hold a federal public judicial inquiry into wrongdoing by workers compensation boards across the country. Go here to view the petition or to sign it.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

It is possible that "domestic workers" are the most exploited class of workers in many societies, and it is generally true that they lack the protections that others often take for granted. The Jobs with Justice coalition in the USA is aiming to change this. Here's the story of their efforts.

Support Domestic Workers!:‏
Every day, 200,000 domestic workers in New York, mostly women of color, make it possible for others to work. But these nannies, elderly caregivers, and housekeepers are excluded from the most basic labor laws (including the National Labor Relations Act), and isolated with no power or leverage to negotiate. They endure long hours, low wages and sometimes emotional and physical abuse.
New York State is considering historic legislation that would provide protections to domestic workers for the first time! The New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights is the first of its kind nationally and will set a precedent for labor standards for domestic workers around the country. Email NY decision-makers today and let them know you're watching! Tell them you want New York to set the bar for your state!
In the wake of the economic crisis, the conditions facing domestic workers have worsened. Facing alarming rates of lay-offs, cut wages and extended hours, without notice, severance pay or any safety net, now more than ever - domestic workers need the Bill of Rights.
For 5 years, domestic workers have come together across communities to organize for dignity and respect, and demand the passage of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York State,which would include:
- Notice of termination
- Severance pay, sick days and holidays, and
- An annual cost of living wage increase.
In the last two months, both the New York Assembly and Senate Labor Committees have passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights out of committee. This is the moment we've been waiting for.
The National Domestic Workers Alliance, an alliance of domestic workers organizations in 10 cities across the country, will co-sponsor the week of action and send delegates to stand with New York's domestic workers. Join the week of action and support domestic workers to reverse a long history of injustice and exploitation, and chart a future based on respect and dignity for all work.
For more information, contact:
1201 Broadway
Suite 907-908
212.481.5747 (ph)
You can take action on this alert either via email (please see directions below) or via the web at:
Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.
We encourage you to take action by May 27, 2009 Support Domestic Workers! INSTRUCTIONS TO RESPOND VIA THE WEB:
If you have access to a web browser, you can take action on this alert by going to the following URL:
Just choose the "reply to sender" option on your email program. Your letter will be addressed and sent to:
Assembly Member Sheldon Silver
Assembly Member Susan John
Senator George Onorato
Senator Malcolm Smith
Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],
I'm contacting you to urge you to help pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, Bill numbers A1470/S2311 this legislative session.
On Tuesday April 28th, hundreds of domestic workers and their supporters from around the country will come to Albany for a day of action and education. Please work with them to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights! Domestic workers and allies around the country are watching what happens in New York.
We need New York to set a strong precedent for labor standards for domestic workers in my state.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Marxism has had considerable "historical traction", though, outside of South America, its appeal today is pretty well limited to the academy (and an aging set of professors at that). As a model of radical historical change it has been a demonstrable failure. many anarchists think that there is much to admire in Marxism, and the major modern anarchist criticism of Marxism has been restricted to the very restricted idea that it doesn't accommodate new movements against hierarchy such as feminism, the ecology movement and anti-racism (amongst others). All this is, of course, merely sniping at the edges of the ideology of Marxism, and none of it explains the failure of Marxism in its real world political incarnations. Some of it is grossly !!! beside the point, such as the anti-racist position. At its best such a position would advocate nothing more than a diluted version of the "proletarian internationalism"-minus the "proletarian" part, of course, system of propaganda that was practiced with a "vengeance"(and I do mean vengeance) in the former Soviet Empire and even in the old Yugoslavia. The historical results, after the collapse of communism. show the limitations of this propaganda model.
Molly is of the opinion that "fashionable leftism" ie a demand to incorporate anything and everything that is the shared belief of a small leftist subculture is not a reasonable alternative to the Marxist "God that failed". Molly is also of the opinion that anarchism can provide a much better guide to action than Marxism ever did. This guide, however, is still very much in the making, and it demands that anarchists abandon the superstitions of the past. Parts of Marxism are very much such crude superstitions.
Please go over to our sister site Molly's Polls to express your opinion on Marxism. Molly will soon conduct her own post-mortem on the decaying corpse of Marxism over there.

Here from the Workers' Initiative -Warsaw Poland- is the callout for anarchists to come together on the real Labour Day, May Day, this coming Friday.
May Day in Warsaw:
May Day in Warsaw.
In the Praga district. To be preceded by Hyde Parks agitating for a rent strike. (Rents are raised from the first of May.)
For workers' self management and people's control over all public services!
Enough bad working conditions, poverty and fraudulent social policies!
Start at 14:00 at the Praga Hospital. March to Skaryszewski Park for festival. Stops along the way with speeches about working conditions and government policies against the poor and working class.

When that Avril with his showers southe the drouth of March has perced to the roote then longen folks to go on pilgrimage; with apologies to Chaucer, folks long to see the best anarchist video available in Canada today. Here's the May newsletter from Jonathan Culp and his Satan MacNuggit productions.
MAY 2009:
* * * * *
Featuring "Deadly Eyes" and classroom films
DOORS 7:30, SHOW 8:30
It's almost here - Trash Palace's first-ever visit to St. Catharines! Come out and feel the magic as giant killer rats devour Toronto! Thrill to the craziest classroom films, cartoons and oddities ever foisted on our helpless youth! And gorge yourself on popcorn, DVDs, priceless TP merch, and the incredible creations of Siue Moffat's Boardwalk Chocolates! An epic night of movies and fun.
* * * * *
Don't forget to drop by Naco Gallery, 1665 Dundas Street West (west of Brock) to take a final peek at my mammoth "Security Blanket" quilt project. Naco is Julian Calleros's amazing new cafe, gallery and eatery, and he's been showing my work all month. No admission fee or anything like that - but buy a tostada! The quilt comes down on the 29th.
* * * * *
DOORS 8:30, MOVIE 9:30
As the new Trash Palace season gets underway (check out our wicked new programme booklet!) I will be continuing to show some great, forgotten Canadian films of the 'Tax Shelter' years. This month, celebrate Labour Day and the demise of Garth Drabinsky simultaneously by taking in one of Darth's genuine high points- he produced this film, possibly the best Canadian thriller ever.
Elliot Gouldis caught up in a 'deadly game of cat and mouse' with psycho bank robber Christopher Plummer; John Candy also turns up as a nebbish Eaton Centre bankteller. Written by Curtis "L. A. Confidential" Hanson; directed by Daryl Duke.Plus: episode three of "The Mysterious Dr. Satan"!!
* * * * *
On Sunday, May 3, I will be celebrating the increasing functionality of my battered right leg by joining the Hike for Hospice Palliative Care walk in Niagara:
I'm looking for sponsors. Funds to Hospice Niagara. Any amount would be great. $20 is a nice number. You can send it to me via paypal at , or give it to me when you see me at one of the above events!
* * * * *
List worker, satanm-announce

Here, from the Common Cause/Linchpin website is a callout from the UAW for a May Day march in Hamilton Ontario.
Hamilton May Day Protest:
Start: 05/01/2009 - 11:30
End: 05/01/2009 - 13:00
All out for May 1st
Local 1005 and Local 7135 invites all workers, laid off members, retirees and the community to join us!

Protest the loss of manufacturing jobs and nation wrecking.
Friday, May 1, 2009 at 11:30am
Assemble at: 350 Kenilworth Ave. N.
We will be marching through the industrial core!
BBQ to follow.
Our security lies in our fight!
Pensions and jobs are at risk!
Local 1005
Also from the Common cause/Linchpin site, but originally from the site of the Skydragon Community Development Centre in Hamilton, here is what else will be happening in Hamilton this May Day.
Mayday Celebration in Hamilton at Sky Dragon:
Start: 05/01/2009 - 21:30
End: 05/01/2009 - 23:59
Sky Dragon Centre - 27 King William St. - ground floor
What the heck?
Join the Sky Dragon Coop and friends in the Labour, Women's, Peace, Environmental and Anti-Racism movements for a celebration commemorating the international working people's holiday. Swinging jazz will keep the party grooving to the wee hours. Musical lineup TBA.
Check for updates.
For more information: 905-777-8102 or

With over 24 years of legal struggle Sharon McIvor has been challenging the provisions of Canada's Indian Act that discriminate against women. Here is the latest news of her victory in the BC Court of Appeal. As the following article from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) makes plain the fight is not yet over, given the mindset of the present federal Conservative government.
Sharon McIvor's fight against the Indian Act's gender discrimination isn't over yet:
BC's Court of Appeal ruled April 9 – in Sharon McIvor's favour – that the Indian Act still discriminated against women by denying Indian status to the grandchildren of Aboriginal women, but not those of Aboriginal men.

Sharon McIvor was a law student when she first challenged the act. That was in 1985. The Merritt BC woman is a grandmother now.

The Indian Act McIvor first challenged in 1985 had itself been the subject of a court challenge because it stripped women of their Indian status if they married non Aboriginal men.
Meanwhile, non-Aboriginal women who married men with Indian status got status themselves.

McIvor's grandmothers were both Indians, but their husbands were not.

So when the federal government changed the Indian Act to comply with a 1983 Supreme Court ruling that Indian women who married non-Indian men should maintain their status, McIvor applied for Indian status.

The letter she got back from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs offered her Indian status, but not her children.

Two years later, her internal appeals exhausted, McIvor took the case to court.
It took 17 years to get in front of a judge.

In June 2007, two years after the first hearing, BC Supreme Court Justice Carol Ross sided with McIvor, arguing the law implied that "one's female ancestors are deficient or less Indian than their male contemporaries. The implication is that one's lineage is inferior."

The federal government appealed Ross's ruling, but lost. The government has 60 days to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada.

If - as expected - the Harper government appeals the decision, McIvor's quest for justice will take another three years and at least $250,000.

McIvor has got this far in part because of the Court Challenges Program. The Harper government - which seems to have no difficulty finding money for its costs - cancelled the program in 2006.

To lend your support to McIvor's efforts, visit the Support for Sharon McIvor's Court Action group on Facebook.
This court case is important even beyond the situation of treaty rights. The legal question involved is whether descent through the maternal line is at least of equal importance compared to decent through the male line. many societies actually recognize only descent through the female line. The Jewish religion is the most prominent of these, but there are numerous other matrilinear societies besides this example. In terms of Canada it is of importance that this legal barrier against women be abolished. Here is more news on this case from the Support Sharon McIvor's Court Action site on Facebook.

Support for Sharon McIvor's Court Action:
Canada's Indian Act discriminates against Indigenous women and their children. Sharon McIvor has fought this in the courts since 1989. She has won a major victory in the BC Supreme Court but this decision will be challenged by the Government of Canada all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The reason for this group is to raise the profile of this case and build support for Sharon McIvor's struggle on behalf of all Indigenous Women in this country. Learn more about the case in the "Vancouver Sun" article posted below.
Contact Info
Whitehorse, YT
Recent News
The long, hard road of Sharon McIvor
She has fought for two decades for her and her children's rights under the Indian Act. Despite a court victory, her fight isn't over yet
Daphne Bramham
Vancouver Sun
Friday, November 09, 2007
The Native Women's Association of Canada and several B.C. women's groups describe it as one of the most important equality rights cases in Canada, affecting an estimated 300,000 people who were improperly denied Indian status.
It began in 1985 when Sharon McIvor was a law student. She had no idea that her battle to reclaim her birthright and that of her descendants would drag on well into the first decade of the 21st century, or that it would likely end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.
A descendant of Lower Nicola Valley band members, McIvor applied within months of 1985 amendments to the Indian Act to be registered as a status Indian along with her children.
Both McIvor's grandmothers were Indians, but her grandfathers were not.
The amendments were ostensibly supposed to remedy the gender inequity of stripping Indian status from women and denying it to their children if they married non-Indian men. Men who married non-Indians not only retained their status, but their wives and children were registered as status Indians.
But the amendments simply put off the gender discrimination by a generation. Women who married non-Indians and their children got status, but the women's grandchildren did not, while the grandchildren of Indian men and non-Indian women did.
Sixteen months after that first letter, McIvor received a reply from the government. She could be registered as a status Indian, but her children could not.
On May 29, 1987, McIvor wrote another letter asking that the decision be reviewed. It took 21 months for a response. In February 1989, she was told that the initial decision had been upheld.
McIvor launched her court challenge that year, but her case wasn't heard until October 2006, 17 years later.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Carol Ross agreed with what McIvor has been saying all these years -- the 1985 Indian Act's section that determines who is given Indian status contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as international conventions on human rights, women's rights and children's rights.
In June 2007, Justice Ross declared the section "of no force and effect" because it "authorizes the differential treatment of Indian men and Indian women born before April 17, 1985, and matrilineal and patrilineal descendants born before April 17, 1985."
In a sharply worded, 144-page judgment, she said that by drawing a distinction between male and female ancestors in determining who can be registered as a status Indian, the section offends the basic notion of human dignity.
The judge wrote that the section implies that "one's female ancestors are deficient or less Indian than their male contemporaries. The implication is that one's lineage is inferior. The implication for an Indian woman is that she is inferior, less worthy of recognition."
Because the government had used every tactic possible to delay the case getting into court for 17 years, Ross refused its request to have two years to find a remedy.
It was a sweeping victory. The favourable decision stunned McIvor, who is now a 59-year-old grandmother, practising law part-time in Merritt and teaching law, indigenous studies and political science at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.
"I actually didn't trust that we would get a good decision," she said this week. "I've acted as counsel in other cases, similar kinds of cases involving women's equality and I haven't had any good decisions . . . . It's just so totally unbelievable that we won."
But it was only the first round. The government has vowed to appeal.
Set aside just how offensive it is to any reasonable person's expectation of a speedy hearing that it took so long for McIvor's case to be heard.
What is so depressingly evident throughout the 144-page judgment is just how badly we have mistreated -- and continue to mistreat -- aboriginal women and their children. It started when the colonial government lumped all aboriginal people together and misnamed them Indians.
In its determination to "civilize" aboriginal people, the Indian Act of 1850 imposed and entrenched a strictly patriarchal system. Even though many first nations were matriarchal societies, the "civilizers" stripped aboriginal women of their equality and property rights and overturned centuries-old hereditary systems.
The 1857 Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of Indian Tribes that "enfranchised" men over 21 who met specific criteria, not only stripped them of their Indian status, but that of their wives and children as well.
The 1869 Indian Act went further. It is the great-great-grandfather of the discriminatory system that was continued into the current act. Women who married non-Indians lost their Indian status. Women who married outside their own tribe were stripped of their band status, which meant if the marriage failed they could not return home.
All of the subsequent revisions and amendments to the Indian Act have failed to correct those inequities.
They have continued even though the Canadian Bill of Rights was passed in 1960; and even though in 1982 the United Nations Committee on Human Rights found Canada was in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for effectively denying Indian women access to their culture, religion and language.
"It seems to me," Ross wrote, "that it is one of our most basic expectations that we will acquire the cultural identity of our parents; and that as parents, we will transmit our cultural identity to our children."
It was the judge's empathy for and understanding of what it must be like to be excluded as McIvor and her children were from their culture that most impressed McIvor.
"It was lonely and painful to be excluded from the Indian community," McIvor said when she testified. "My family and I suffered various forms of hurt and stigmatization because we did not have status cards.
"They were excluded from the traditional hunting, gathering and fishing as well as from traditional marriage, funeral and healing ceremonies.
They were not allowed to live on reserve land or go to Indian schools and they did not qualify for health and dental benefits or free post-secondary education.
On Oct. 16, 2006 -- the day McIvor's case finally went to court -- the government suddenly found a reason to recognize her son, Jacob Grismer, as a status Indian.
He was "ecstatic" to finally be recognized for what he is, McIvor said, even though the official documents didn't arrive until this past August.
McIvor started this fight for herself and her children. They now all have Indian status. But McIvor vows to continue the fight in the appeals courts for her grandchildren, aged 16 and 14, who do not have status and were not even born when this battle began.
Aside from the personal toll of having to lay bare one's entire life before bureaucrats, lawyers and judges over a period of more than 20 years, this case has cost McIvor tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses. And it's not over.
It's almost certain to go to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will take at least three years and a minimum of a quarter of a million dollars.
Time and money are no problem for the government. It has deep pockets; McIvor does not.
"It would be horrible to lose because I can't mount a defence," she says.
McIvor estimates that legal costs for the B.C. Court of Appeal will be about $120,000 and that's only because she is doing some of the legal work herself and her lawyers, Robert Grant and Gwen Brodsky, aren't charging her anywhere near their usual fees.
It will cost at least that much to prepare for a hearing at the Supreme Court of Canada. Canada's court challenges program has covered a portion of McIvor's costs so far. But the Conservative government eliminated that program last year(With far less of the publicity that such a change should have generated-Molly).
It's added another burden and further insult to McIvor, who is fighting not only for her family, but for thousands of others like her.
Sharon McIvor fund
The Supreme Court of B.C. decision is available at:
The Native Women's Association of Canada and Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter are sponsoring a reception on Wednesday between 7 and 9 p.m. at Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street, to honour Sharon McIvor and help raise money for her legal costs.
For information on how to donate to the fund, contact
Cheques to support Sharon McIvor’s case can be written to:
“Vancouver Foundation - McIvor Case Fund”
Tax receipts will be issued.
If you are mailing a cheque, it can be sent to:
Kathie Bell
Manager, Named Funds
Vancity Community Foundation
510 - 815 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
V6C 1B4
This cause is obviously "on the side of the angels". What strikes me, however, most prominently is the almost quarter century that the case has taken to wind its way through the courts. This alone is atrocious, and is a condemnation of our present system of "justice". Surely !!!! there are better ways, and anarchists have often advocated them. No "council of reconciliation" would take even 1% of the time to render a decision in such a case.