What's Left: 2015-02-22 Volume 1

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“Last week in Canada”

Casino Rama workers join Unifor

In a major victory for the labour movement in Canada, 1700 workers at Casino Rama voted 70% in favour of joining Unifor. More than 50% of the bargaining unit voted yes. This is the biggest new local to join CAW/CEP/Unifor in recent memory.

Link: Casino Rama workers join Unifor

New security polling states the obvious

On the home front, new polling indicates that, while Canadians want more security (who doesn’t?), they also want more oversight of the state security apparatus.

Link: New poll says majority support new anti-terror bill, but also want more oversight

Federal government writes off another $1 billion of student debt

The Federal Government has written off $1 billion in student debt since 2011, but there is still a heck of a lot more out there. As tuition fees continue to skyrocket, similar future write-offs are a certainty.

Link: CFS keeping tabs on student debt.

What the Hell is Going on in New Brunswick?

Writing for Canadaland, Sean Craig outlines the sacking of Irving’s Moncton Times and Transcript editors. #GulchGate (or maybe #SecretSalmon) sees some much needed scrutiny being focused on the hermit province.

Link: Memorial to the Victims of Communism becomes multi-million dollar controversy

Link: The Family that Owns New Brunswick

Victims of Communism monument shows lack of judgement

In Ottawa, politicians are quickly realizing the problematic nature of the “Victims of Communism” monument. After initially supporting it, the NDP seem to have come to their senses and united with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Liberals and communists against a poorly considered use of space and money. The group supporting the monument is called “Tribute to Liberty” which may or may not be a homage to Orwell. Victims of authoritarian regimes – right and left – should be remembered and honoured, but Communism is a political ideology which has seen many incarnations. If you’re going to build a monument to its victims, you’re building a monument honouring Nazi Germany, extreme inequality, and a more independent developing world.  categories: [“What’s Left”]

Link: Memorial to the Victims of Communism becomes multi-million dollar controversy

Link: Victims of communism memorial land worth at least $16M, Ottawa architect says



Greek finance minister on Marx

In a new essay for The Guardian, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis explains the difference between reading Marx and being a Marxist in the real world. Love his leather motorcycle jackets or not, “How I became an erratic Marxist” is a good long read.

Link: Yanis Varoufakis: How I became an erratic Marxist

The NSA knows you’re reading this

The revelations from the Snowden files keep coming like episodes of Serial (it’s been renewed right?). Most recently, it’s been revealed that the NSA and GCHQ have stolen the encryption keys for billions of mobile phone and planted spyware on computer hard disks being sold in at least 30 countries. The UK has also admitted to unlawfully monitoring communication between lawyers and their clients, breaking more laws that we can count. Whether embarrassing high school essays, bank records, or confidential legal advice, the government is probably reading it all.

Link: NSA/GCHQ Hacks SIM Card Database and Steals Billions of Keys

Link: UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications

Another failed coup in Venezuela

On Thursday, Venezuela internal security services arrested a group of the usual suspects planning to overthrow the democratic government. The strategy involved using military aircraft to bomb government buildings and, in a questionable move, letting everyone know their plans head of time.

Link: Opposition Leaders Issued a Statement to Signal the Launch of the Foiled Coup

Link: Venezuelan Opposition Mayor, Alias “The Vampire,” Arrested for Role in Blue Coup Plot


“Below the fold”

Greek government makes progress in EU debt negotiations

The European Union (EU) right wing is claiming victory after the new Greek Syriza government’s “climbdown” over the terms they are willing to accept. But the ability for Greece to negotiate any concessions from smug German conservatives and the International Monetary Fund is a win. On top of the concessions that Syriza has already secured, a four month extension means more time to look for real alternatives to the EU’s austerity agenda.

Link: Greece, euro zone agree four-month loan extension, avert crunch

Ukraine conflict spurs military spending

The UK representative on NATO is warning of an imminent “Russian attack”. This is likely just chest-thumping after the admission that the West cannot compete with the rapid troop mobilization by Russia. More war spending is the real goal. With the ramp-up of language on both sides, it does not look like the negotiated peace deals in Ukraine will stick.

Link: Debaltseve was fatal flaw in Minsk agreement on Ukraine

American exodus from Venezuela good for local workers and unions

While American multinationals are “unlinking” their Venezuelan operations, socialists have highlighted that this will make it easier for Venezuelan unions and workers to assume ownership over affected businesses. A plan to do so efficiently will most certainly improve the local economy.

Link: U.S. companies can avoid slow torture of Venezuela devaluations by taking one big hit


“This week”

CN Rail set to lock out its workers

The Canadian National Railway (CN) may be on the verge of a lockout this week after Unifor rejected arbitration. CN has taken issue with a new Unifor “community fund”, safety upgrades, and paying workers a fair wage. Similar to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) negotiations last week, the federal government seems insistent on using these confrontations to stamp out collective bargaining and screw workers. Some of the action is playing out over on Twitter. Follow and support @Unifor\RailLine and @UniforTheUnion.

Link: CN announces lock-out of Unifor, putting safety at risk

Link: Unifor Rail Twitter Account