Black Lives They Matter Here | #BlackPride Photo Essay
On July 3, 2016, Black Lives Matter-Toronto was to participate in the annual Pride parade as an honoured group. The group staged a 25 minute action in which they demanded Pride Toronto – the organization that puts on the parade and festival – increase the inclusiveness and reduce the police presence at their events. The action was short, but the news cycle surrounding the story played out over many days.
Here are some snapshots from the half-hour that changed the discourse in Toronto.
Government needs to refocus and reinvest in Parks Canada
As the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society reports, Parks Canada has been ignoring its mandate and even breaking the law by allowing major for-profit developments on protected park land.
Parks Canada’s mandate is very clear:
“On behalf of the people of Canada, we protect and present nationally > significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage and > foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that > ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and > future generations.”
Following massive cutbacks under the Conservative government, the department fired thousands of staff, many of whom had full-time unionized jobs. Numerous historic sites and parks were also closed seasonally or permanently. As a result, Parks Canada seems to have put an emphasis on engaging in projects that bring in revenue, regardless of their environmental impact.
While the current Liberal government has invested some additional money, it seems to be more interested in enabling Parks Canada’s new commercial developments of park lands than preservation, including a \$66 million bike path through endangered caribou and bear habitat in Jasper, Alberta.
Instead of enabling destructive private development on public land, the federal government should restore the funding cut by the Conservatives and ensure Parks Canada is protecting Canada’s wilderness and history, not turning devaluing them as private tourist attractions.
Corbyn and the Labour Party
It is not just conjecture, there is now proof that the media is overwhelmingly skewing the positions of UK Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corby. A London School of Economics report has shown that 75% of stories about Jeremy Corbyn misrepresent his views. Fifteen percent of the 812 examined articles represented his views correctly, but then challenged the legitimacy of his positions. Only 11% of the articles actually presented his views without negative comment.
This purposeful misreporting is a small example of the campaign to turn the public against Corbyn. The lust for power amongst the Labour Party’s right-wing elite can not be realized as long as the vast majority of the membership of the Party continues to rally behind the leader they elected.
It is shocking that this campaign of manipulation has reached such a level. With yet another leadership contest in full swing, the elite know that, unless they can change the facts, Labour Party members may very well give Corbyn an even stronger mandate. Recent polls have him miles ahead in terms representing the interests and views of the majority of British people in the Labour Party. When asked who would have a better chance of winning a general election, members gave Corbyn a 50% chance while giving his main challenger, Angela Eagle, odds of only 23%.
Of course, media manipulation isn’t just a factor in misrepresenting the views of Corbyn. Similar tactics are being used to improve the public’s perception of new Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader Theresa May. Her hard right-wing positions, regressive policies, and controversial voting history – especially on privacy rights – are being largely glossed over.
The Labour Party is not like any party here in Canada. It has a very large (well over 400,000) and active membership, a significant number of elected MPs (230 out of a total of 650), and controls over a third of local (municipal and district) elected council seats across the UK. Many Local Party associations are fully funded and serve as community hubs. Even the smallest local associations run local candidates and campaigns throughout the UK on Labour Party tickets. It is at this level that you see the true membership of the Labour Party: working people, progressive community activists, and socialists.
The support for Corbyn and his policies comes from this level of the Labour Party.
Unfortunately, the base has been taken for granted since the 1990’s by the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) – made up of elected MPs – who decided they did not have to represent the views of the broader membership anymore. The PLP and the party’s National Executive Council (which it controls) is now scared that they will lose control of the direction of the broader party to the membership. The reaction from these small groups of elite has been excessive and top-down. As examples, the anti-Corbyn elite have recently banned local meetings of some of the largest associations, annulled local association votes, and essentially ejected over 100,000 members from the Labour Party in an attempt to crush the membership’s support for Corbyn.
It is a classic political battle of the elite against the masses, happening in the only UK party that represents democracy for working people. This dynamic is not new in the Labour Party, but serves as a microcosm of how democracy operates in the UK. Whatever the result, it will lead to a more engaged base of democracy activists.
Understanding the coup attempt in Turkey
The political instability in Turkey is multifaceted. To understand the recent coup attempt in Turkey one needs to look at how the country fits into the broader region. The Justice and Development Party is a complex entity and its hold on power has implications far outside the boarders of Turkey.
Citizens’ Press has a long read to fill in some of the blanks.