Tuesday, March 20, 2012

True to form our present federal Conservative government is quite content to see funding for "social housing" (co-op, non-profit and public housing) gradually wither away as the following article demonstrates. The Harperites must be particularily happy that this is a trend inherited from previous Liberal administrations and that the removal of this social policy requires no grandstanding legislation that might shine the light of day on what is happening. Well now there's a campaign to bring this erosion out of the shadows. The Front for Popular Action on Urban Restructuring (FRAPRU) in Québec alongside with the Red Tents group in English Canada are mounting a campaign of opposition. Here's the story.
Defend Our Social Housing

About the Campaign

Across Canada, hundreds of thousands of co-op, non-profit and public housing units have been receiving subsidies for decades from the federal government. These subsidies, which allow very low-income families to be housed, are beginning to run out, and this phenomenon will accelerate over the next five years. The number of housing units benefitting from long-term agreements decreased from 630,000 in 2006 to 613,500 in 2010. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) predicts this number will go down to 540,800 in 2015. This trend will continue, so that by 2032, the federal government will no longer fund any housing units. All social housing units built before 1994 will be affected. This represents a loss of $1.7 billion in funding per year.

The withdrawal of federal funding will have dramatic consequences. Low-income tenants living in co-op and non-profit housing will lose CMHC funding that allows them to pay rent geared to their income. These tenants will face steep rent increases, forcing them to leave, and be replaced by more affluent tenants.

If nothing is done, the housing crisis in Canada will be aggravated. Already, there are 982,000 Canadian tenant households facing core housing need. This loss of federal funding comes on top of cuts to federal funding for the creation of new affordable housing, which is at its lowest level in decades.

We need to preserve existing social housing, not only for current tenants, but for all households who will need it in the future. FRAPRU (Front for Popular Action on Urban Restructuring of Quebec) which brings together over 100 organizations working for the right to housing, supported by its allies of the Red Tent Campaign (http://redtents.org/) , a Coalition of housing groups from different provinces, are working to put pressure on Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. The Red Tent campaign is demanding that the federal government immediately commit to maintaining funding for social housing, after the termination of long-term funding agreements signed when these units were originally built.

To do so, we call on all committees, tenants associations, co-op federations, social housing groups, social justice and anti-poverty organizations in all provinces to organize demonstrations, rallies or actions on the weekend of May 25-27,2012. On this weekend, there will be a big demonstration in Montreal, where at least one thousand people are anticipated. Check the tab with your province( at http://defendoursocialhousing.com ) to see what is happening where you live. If nothing is planned, contact Red Tent and we can support you in organizing with us.

Meanwhile, we ask all those who are either directly affected, such as tenants of co-op, non-profit or public housing, or those concerned about the preservation of our social housing stock, to print, sign and circulate the petition asking the government of Canada to:
■immediately commit to an adequate budget that ensures the renovation, improvement, and modernization of all social housing units (low-cost housing, cooperatives, and non-profit housing);
■immediately commit to maintaining the long-term subsidies granted to social housing units created before 1994, in particular those that allow low-income tenants a rent that is geared to their income (corresponds to their capacity to pay).

The original copies of the petition must be returned to FRAPRU by April 30, 2012, in order for them to be delivered to the House of Commons.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Always on the lookout to squeeze the poor even further the McGuinty government of Ontario has recently received a commission report of a plan to tighten the screws from former bank executive Don Drummond. It was all that could be expected. Here is the reaction to this report from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)
Defeating Drummond's Dreadful Directions‏

Former Toronto Dominion Bank economist, Don Drummond, has now handed over
his report to the McGuinty government. As we might have expected it is a
call to arms for the advocates of austerity. It suggests cuts to social
services that would make Harris’s Tory government look like social
reformers. Harris cut the Provincial Budget by less than 4% during one
term of office while Drummond wants a 17% reduction kept up for a decade
and a half. Among other drastic recommendations it calls for limiting
annual spending growth for social assistance to 0.5% until 2018, despite
the fact that those living on social assistance are still suffering from
the 21.6% cuts to assistance from the Harris years, which the Liberals
have only made worse. Nowadays a person living on welfare in Ontario is
making 55% less than they did in the early 90s, when the rates were
already far below the poverty line. Also in Drummond’s cross-hairs are
ODSP and the Child Tax Benefit.

Through all the rhetoric of ‘’overspending’’ it is important to remember
that this economic crisis was not caused by us. After all, it is
noteworthy that the budget was balanced before the crisis of 2008-09. It
was not caused by welfare recipients, it was not caused by organized
labour and it was not caused by public services. We are living through a
financial crisis that was caused by the rich, and while the banks are
getting bailed out we are being bled dry to pay for their greed.

The Drummond report is a road-map to austerity and if it is not swiftly
defeated its legacy will haunt us for decades to come. At the same time it
is important not to stay fixated on the Drummond report. We know that the
Liberals have been planning to implement cut-back measures long before
this report came out. It is imperative that we keep a close eye on the
upcoming budget and root out every attack directed against us in the name
of austerity.

The time is crucial for us to coordinate our efforts and organize
ourselves as effectively as possible to mount a serious fightback.

Overview of the days of action

This is not the first time radical groups, community groups and labour
unions have been called to fight together. In the mid to late 1990s in
response to the drastic cuts to social services and attacks on workers put
forth by the Harris government these groups had to band together to mount
opposition. What started as small protests against the PC government soon
swelled to one of the largest mobilization periods in Ontario’s history,
with hundreds of thousands of people joining in the fight. Unfortunately
this mobilization, though ground-breaking in many ways, was not enough to
defeat the Tories and they were not forced to retreat. As powerful as the
Days of Action were, the present struggle against austerity will need to
learn from past shortcomings as well as strengths. Unlike the
mobilization against Harris, the struggles we take up to-day will need to
escalate to the point where those implementing austerity face a level of
economic and political disruption that creates for them a social, economic
and political catastrophe. We can’t stop at moral appeals but must force
Bay Street and its political representatives at Queen’s Park to retreat
through decisive mass mobilization

The Common Sense Revolution cuts were pushed through and we are living
with its legacy today. In real terms people living on social assistance
today have less spending power than they did during the height of the
Harris-era cuts. Capitalism has re-doubled its attacks on organized labour
and vital public services are being cut and threatened daily. If we fail
again this time around, however, the results will be far more devastating.

Proposal for a plan to move forward

We in OCAP believe that the only way we can truly defeat the current wave
of austerity measures is to build a movement that is willing and committed
to pushing back in meaningful ways. Symbolic rallies and editorials will
only get us so far, and social assistance reviews are not going to help us
push back against austerity. It has even been admitted by Lankin that a
raise in social assistance rates is not even on the table. Rather, to beat
this beast we have to put forward a plan of resistance that is going to
disrupt every stage of their agenda, we have to be willing to confront
these politicians and decision makers head on at every single chance we
can take.

On March 16th OCAP, with a wide array of community groups and labour
groups will be marching from the ministry of housing down to the financial
district. In a show of unity we will be marching together against the
austerity measures of the liberal provincial government, we will be
demanding a raise in OW and ODSP rates, as well as quality public
services. But marches alone are not going to win this battle. Other
community groups have to be willing to take up the fight in meaningful
ways, unions have to be willing to strike against this government, and
everyone has to be committed to taking this to its logical conclusion! We
are calling on all our allies, all labour unions, all activists, all
community organizations to help us defeat this government and the
austerity measures it represents. Together we can fight to win!

ocap mailing list

Friday, March 09, 2012

Hard to say about this party, but it may be interesting. The Winnipeg Art Gallery is holding a party on March 23 to celebrate the art of Norman Rockwell now on display at their gallery. Ah the days of innocence and five cent soda drinks. Here's the skivy:
Rockwell Around the Clock at the WAG
Public Event for Winnipeg Art Gallery ·
Friday, March 23, 20127:30pm until 11:00pm
Get your dancing shoes on - the WAG is throwing a sockhop!
Inspired by our spring blockbuster, American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, Rockwell Around the Clock promises to be a carefree night of art, music, dancing and fun that will transport you into the world... of Norman Rockwell.
As well as guided tours of the exhibition, the evening features music by Will Bonness’ Swing Band and dancers from Hepcat Studio who will be performing and teaching. $20 members $25 non-members Cash Bar http://wag.ca/visit/events/list/category/specialevents/411

Here's another callout from down Ontario way and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). This is an appeal and petition to keep a downtown homeless shelter open. Here's the story:
Hello everyone,
The fight for the School House Shelter and services AND housing in the Downtown East continues.
Please sign this on-line petition that will be brought to the City:http://www.petitiononlinecanada.com/petition/save-the-school-house-harm-reduction-shelter/834

The following call-out is from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).


Solidarity Against Austerity

Friday, March 16, 2012
Rally and March
Meet at College St and Bay St, Toronto (Outside the Ministry of Housing)

*Free Meal (provided by members of the Ontario Nurses Association)
*ASL-English at the Rally
*Closest accessible transit station is Queen’s Park

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/168518953261094

Join the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and allies for a march
and rally on Friday, March 16th, in the lead up to the 2012 Provincial
Budget. The McGuinty government has hired former head of the TD bank, Don
Drummond, to propose and provide the basis for massive social cutbacks in
their 2012 budget. It is being drafted as the Provincial component of the
austerity agenda that is gathering force across Canada and
internationally. City Hall, Queen`s Park and Ottawa are delivering
austerity, but clearly it is being cooked-up on Bay Street by bankers like
Drummond to the benefit of their rich friends.

We have to stop the cuts and fight for what poor and working people need!

For poor people and workers in this province, it has been a constant state
of crisis. McGuinty is now preparing to make this situation much worse.

On March 16, we will be rallying at an Ontario Government location but
taking our march to Toronto`s financial centre where the real decisions
are being made by and for the '1%'. We will be marching to oppose
austerity measures but also to demand
the reversing of previous cutbacks, the right to a living income, the
right to affordable and accessible housing, and for good quality public
services for all! We will be marching against the kind of society Drummond
and the rich are creating, and for one that meets the needs and improves
the lives of all of us!


Endorsing Organizations: Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, Aids
Action Now, Barrio Nuevo, BASICS Community News, Bread & Bricks
Davenport West Social Justice Group, CUPE Local 1281, CUPE 4308, CUPE
4600, CUPE Toronto District Council, Disability Action Movement Now,
Educators for Peace and Justice, Greater Toronto Worker’s Assembly, Health
Providers Against Poverty, Health for All, Jane-Finch Action Against
Poverty, Kingston Coalition Against Poverty, Medical Reform Group, No One
Is Illegal Toronto, Ontario Association of Interval and Transitional
Houses, OCCUPY Toronto, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, Ontario
Network of Injured Workers, Ontario Nurses Association, Ontario
University Workers Coordinating Committee (CUPE Ontario), OPSEU Local 525,
Poverty Makes Us Sick (KW), Rhythms of Resistance, Sistering, Students for
Medicare, Toronto Stop the Cuts, Under Pressure Ottawa, Workers Action
Centre, and growing!


-Organize a contingent: bring a group of people from your organization,
neighbourhood, city or union local to this demonstration, bring your

-Drum out Drummond: bring drums, noise makers, pots and pans. Rhythms
of Resistance will also be there to start us off on the march.

-Join the CHILDCARE NOW contingent of parents, caregivers and kids

-Organize a group of students or a ‘kids block’ to be a part of the day as
part of March Break

-Banners, flags and signs: Organize a ‘banner making day’ in your area,
bring your banners to the march

-Help fund a bus, food, transit tokens, ASL, and materials for the day: if
you or your organization or union local can make donations of money or
in-kind, please help us make this day as participatory and accessible as

-Build the movement: add your organization’s to the list of endorsers for
this day of action

-Get the word out: help us get the message out about this day of action,
download the poster and flyer at www.ocap.ca, forward this announcement
far and wide, contact us if you would like to help with postering,
flyering, etc.


Don’t want to come alone? Need transit tokens or a bus to get in to
downtown? Join one of these many groups meeting up ahead of time and
coming together...

In T.O

Jane and Finch: 1st stop: BUS from Yorkgate Mall at the 'no frills' entrance
at 11am , 2nd stop: 35 Shoreham Drive [A senior centre about 5 or 6
minutes away]

Downtown East: Join the Downtown East Stop the Cuts, meeting at the
corner of Dundas and Sherbourne at 11am **with tokens

Weston-Lawrence/Mt.Dennis: Meeting at Weston King Neighborhood Centre
(2017 Weston Road) at 11am **with tokens

Davenport and Perth: Join Bread and Bricks Social Justice Group, meeting
at The Stop Community Food Centre (1884 Davenport Road) at 11am **with

Parkdale: Meeting at PARC (1499 Queen St. West) at 11am **with tokens

From Out of Town

Pick up in Hamilton: CUPE 5167 office, 818 King St East at 9 am
Departing Toronto to arrive back in Hamilton at the 5167 office for 4 pm.

Pick up from Kingston, Belleville, Peterborough: please call 613 328-1938
for a ride

**Vans are also coming from Ottawa, Sudbury and Kitchener

GET IN TOUCH: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Email: ocap@tao.ca
Phone: 416-925-6939
Web: http://OCAP.ca
Facebook: OCAP
Twitter: @OCAPtoronto#maketherichpay


Abdolreza Ghanbari is an Iranian university professor who has been sentenced to death by the regime basically for the "crime" of receiving unsolicited political emails. Here is his story and appeal for solidarity from the online labour solidarity site Labour Start.
Iran: Stop the execution of Abdolreza Ghanbari

In partnership with the Education International, the world’s largest federation of unions, representing thirty million education employees in about four hundred organisations in one hundred and seventy countries and territories, across the globe.

Abdolreza Ghanbari, a 44-year-old lecturer of Payam e Nour University, was arrested at his home in Pakdasht on 4 January 2010. He was charged with Moharebeh (enmity towards God) for receiving unsolicited emails from an armed opposition group, to which he does not belong. While in detention at the notorious Evin Prison, Prof. Ghanbari was interrogated for 25 days in a row and forced to confess under duress to unproven charges. Nasrin Sotoudeh was his lawyer until he was himself condemned to a six year sentence in Evin prison for "propaganda against the regime" and "acting against national security". In 2007, Prof. Ghanbari had already been detained for 120 days and sentenced to a six-month suspension from teaching and exiled from Sari to Pakdasht. Prof. Ghanbari has no known political connections. He was previously involved in teacher union activities until his union ITTA was dissolved in 2007. Prof. Ghanbari's death sentence has been confirmed by Tehran's Appeal Court, Branch 36 in April 2010. He has since been waiting on death row. A request for pardon was rejected on February 28 by the Commission of Justice in Tehran. It means that authorities are allowed to proceed with the execution. The Education International calls on the Iranian authorities to stay the execution of Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari and revoke the death sentence; to drop all charges against all detained trade unionists and release them immediately; to comply with the international labour standards and respect the rights of Iranian workers to freedom of association, assembly and expression.
Please go to this link to send the following letter to Iranian authorities.
Your Excellency,

I am writing to you to condemn the death sentence pronounced against Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari, a university lecturer. I urge the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately stay his execution. Abdolreza Ghanbari was arrested at his home in Pakdasht on 4 January 2010. While in detention at the Evin Prison, Prof. Ghanbari was interrogated for 25 days in a row and forced to confess under duress to unproven charges. He has been sentenced to death for "enmity towards God". His death sentence has been confirmed by Tehran's Appeal Court, Branch 36 in April 2010. A request for pardon was rejected on February 28 by the Commission of Justice in Tehran. I urge the Iranian authorities to:
- Stay the execution of Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari and revoke the death sentence;
- Drop all charges against all detained trade unionists and release them immediately;
- Compensate the individuals for the damages suffered as result of detentions;
- Register the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA) and allow it to hold trade union activities and reach out to members;
- Stop the harassment and repression against teachers, unionists and human rights defenders;
- Comply with the international labour standards and respect the rights of Iranian workers to freedom of association, assembly and expression;
- Engage in a peaceful dialogue regarding the professional concerns of teachers in Iran.
I look forward to hearing about your positive intervention on this very serious matter.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The end of the 2009-10 strike at Vale in Sudbury and Port Colburgh left company management emboldened. From their point of view they had beaten the union, USW Local 6500, and could do whatever they wanted. This included refusing to rehire 9 workers who had been fired for union activity during the strike despite an Ontario Labour Relations Board that the company's actions were "patently unreasonable". More ominously Vale has persisted in unsafe working conditions that have killed 4 workers since the end of the strike. Here's the story from the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions. The story contains links to a summary and full report of a health and safety audit carried out by the union itself- the company refused to collaborate in such an audit.

Safety, Union Busting Haunts Vale inside Sudbury, Canada, Mines

If anyone needs further proof to Vale’s global social neglect, it comes in a pair of dirty deeds committed by the Brazilian mining company in and after the bitter 2009-10 strike at a major nickel and copper operation in Sudbury, Ontario.

One involves circumstances surrounding two deaths inside Vale’s Frood-Stobie Mine on 8 June 2011 and the other is added legal proof that Vale’s strong-arm tactics in firing union activists during the United Steelworkers (USW) strike was meant to hinder legal collective bargaining.

An extensive report issued 29 February by the USW over the June 2011 deaths of Jordan Fram, 26, an equipment operator, and Jason Chenier, 35, a supervisor, was done because Vale refused the offer of the USW to investigate the accident jointly. USW blames negligent water drainage maintenance directly tied to lax and “little experience or training” of front-line supervisors.

Fram and Chenier were buried 900 metres underground by an overflow of muck, a term for an avalanche of wet rock, gravel, sand, water washing down a mine shaft. Even though USW Local 6500 is the legitimate bargaining representative, the report notes, “Vale officials refused to be interviewed by members of the USW team” even though union members “cooperated fully in management’s investigation.”

The Executive Summary and the full 207-page USW Report are here.

The week before USW issued the report, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) ruled that Vale violated provincial labour law by maintaining a “patently unreasonable” stance over nine workers Vale fired for strike activity. The OLRB agreed with the USW that the nine trade unionists were denied rights to third-party arbitration by the company, and further cited Vale for “troubling” labour relations conduct across several areas.

In January, the OLRB cited Vale with union interference for denying entry onto company property for one of the nine discharged workers is the elected head of Local 6500’s Grievance Committee. The USW is now confident that arbitrated decisions will prevail and the nine workers will return to their rightful jobs.

The USW District Director for Ontario and the Atlantic Region, Wayne Fraser, said the OLRB’s 24 February ruling “should give Vale pause to consider the hardship inflicted on families,” adding that the unlawful conduct “prolonged the suffering and uncertainty for families in our community.”Vale’s safety record in Canada was tarnished again on 29 January 2012 when 47-year-old Stephen Perry, an explosives worker, was crushed to death when a rock face collapsed on him while he was working in a lift basket. This death occurred 1,300 metres inside Vale’s Coleman nickel mine near Sudbury.

A fourth Canadian Vale death in 2011 occurred on 19 October when 51-year-old scooptram operator Greg Leason was killed when his machine fell 40 metres into a cavern inside the T-3 Mine in Thompson, Manitoba.

Historically, the four 2011 deaths at Vale in Canada are atypical because the USW is a vigilant proponent of joint labour-management process safety procedures that prevent workplace accidents. But with Vale’s hostile labour relations still simmering some 20 months after the strike, no cooperation with the union over health and safety issues is proving detrimental to workplace safety

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Coming up in Hamilton Ontario on April 14 and 14-----Rebel Fest II, hosted by Rebel Time Records. Here's the promo...

Public Event · By Rebel Time Records.
Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 7:00pm until Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 10:00pm





ALL AGES / LICENSED / $10 Per Day @ Door

Saturday April 14:

The Rebel Spell (Vancouver)
The Class Assassins
Brutal Youth
The Rotten
The Rebel Arms
At What Cost

Sunday April 15:

The Steel Town Spoilers
Born Wrong
Subsistence (Montreal)
La Gachette (Montreal)
Nine Eleven (France)
Get The Shot (Quebec City)
Social Club N.27
Jesse Lebourdais (Vancouver)


Video from last years fest here: http://​rebelfest.wordpress.com/

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Last November workers at Acadian/ien Bus Lines in the Maritimes were locked out by their employer when they refused a concessionary contract offer. The workers involved have been locked out for three months, and they are asking supporters to pressure management to accept arbitration. Here is the story
from Labour Start.
Canada: End the lockout at Acadian Coach Lines

The 3-month long lockout, affecting the areas of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, began in December 2011 when Acadian Coach Lines, a subsidiary of French multinational Keolis, locked out their employees because of a labour dispute. This has resulted in no intercity bus service in these provinces of Canada leaving many who rely on buses to get to and from cities in these provinces stranded.

The dispute began in late November 2011 when Acadian presented a concessionary contact to the workers, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1229. The bus drivers, mechanics and sales agents had been working without a contract for months. The insulting contract was overwhelmingly rejected by 88% and workers gave their 72-hour strike notice to the company. Acadian then decided to lock out the workers.

The union has made numerous offers, most recently on February 12, 2012, to go back to the table with the help of a federally appointed mediator and return to work immediately, but Acadian has rejected all offers. The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and French transportation unions in CGT, CFDT and FO federations have expressed their solidarity with the ATU and its locked out workers.

The Amalgamated Transit Union has been waging a campaign working to build coalitions with transit advocates, labour organizations and other groups to bring attention to the corporate greed at Acadian and bring and end this lock out that has a major impact on working people and their families throughout New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Please go to this link to send the following letter to Acadian Coach Lines management.
It’s time to stop the corporate greed at Acadian Coach Bus Lines in Canada. I join the global protest in calling on French multinational Keolis to intervene with its Canadian subsidiary Acadian to end the 3-month lockout of bus drivers and call for a negotiated solution. The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and French transportation unions in CGT, CFDT and FO federations have expressed their solidarity.

Recognizing that many rely on this critical bus service the workers, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), were willing to return to work 12 days into the lock out when the Union applied to Acadian to go to binding interest arbitration, but Acadian refused leaving the public out in the cold for the holiday season.

Then on February 15, 2012, the Union once again asked to go to binding interest arbitration and return to work immediately, but the Company again rejected the workers’ attempt to put an end to this labor dispute for the better of the riding public.

This is another case of corporate greed that has brought the global economy to its knees and decimated working people and their families across Canada and the world.

It’s time for Acadian to bargain fairly and give workers the cost-of-living increase they deserve. I stand in solidarity with Acadian bus drivers and mechanics and demand that Acadian bring back service to Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.