What's Left: 2015-03-08 Volume 3

by Editors (What's Left) last modified 2015-04-06T09:48:18-04:00
This past year has been rich in opportunities for feminist organizing, from high-profile stories of sexual violence on campuses, to high-profile individuals being held accountable for sexual harassment at home and in the workplace, to the growing solidarity amongst women online around rape, assault, and combating misogyny.

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Features

Happy International Women’s Day

Every year we mark IWD with various community events, marches, and rallies around the world. This past year has been rich in opportunities for feminist organizing, from high-profile stories of sexual violence on campuses, to high-profile individuals being held accountable for sexual harassment at home and in the workplace, to the growing solidarity amongst women online around rape, assault, and combating misogyny. Our challenge for 2015 will be to make space for greater institutional and systemic change that leads further towards equality for all women.

More: Reimagining feminism on International Women’s Day

More: International Women’s Day’s roots

Harper’s Conservatives double-down on Bill C-51

The Conservatives are stoking fear by promoting terrorist threats and then fundraising off that fear. The Party’s Facebook ads promoting the bill are reminiscent of recent anti-Islamic comments made by the far-right in France when interviewed by the Financial Times. The focus on violent "terrorist" imagery to drive fear, make money, and sway support is becoming all to common on the right. Ironically, the same ad would likely be banned by the legislation it is promoting. Even some Tory MPs think it should come down.

Everyone seems to be coming out against the legislation: The privacy commissioner stated that the bill is “seriously deficient”; more than 100 academics signed a letter calling it dangerous; constitutional lawyers are certain it will be challenged; while others think it’s too narrowly focused on Islamic extremism and "likely to backfire". All this as US security whistle-blower Edward Snowden notes that Canada has the weakest intelligence gathering oversight in the Western world.

And while this tough-on-crime, anti-terrorism agenda now has the Conservatives pushing mandatory life sentences, they are cutting funding for a sex-crime prevention program that has been proven very effective at both preventing crime and saving money. Are the Conservatives are more interested in punishing crime than preventing it?

More: C-51 anti-terrorism bill ’excessive,’ Privacy Commissioner says

More: Marine Le Pen lays out radical vision to govern France

More: Conservative Facebook post on West Edmonton Mall threat ’troubling,’ Alberta MLA says

More: Anti-terrorism bill C-51 ’dangerous’ legislation, 100 academics say

More: Bill C-51 defies key rulings on security certificates, lawyers say

More: Ottawa’s de-radicalization focus much too narrow, reformed skinhead says

More: Edward Snowden says Canadian spying has weakest oversight in Western world

More: Sex crime prevention program cut by Ottawa

Climate change changing nothing

November’s climate change "Conference of the Parties" (COP21) in Paris is not that far away so it’s time to dust off those "System Change, Not Climate Change" placards. Many did this weekend at the UK climate march. But, if media coverage the march is any indication, the lead-up to the conference will see an increase in propaganda from apologists for capitalism and environmental NGOs advocating for market-based solutions.

The absence of a coherent government-driven alternative means that market-based carbon taxes have become the desperate position of liberals. If governments actually want to implement the necessary economic changes to avoid climate-caused catastrophe, desperation could be set aside and replaced with effective investment, divestment, and regulation. The Guardian has launched a special series to try and help inform the debate.

To see this desperation in action, check out Ontario where the Liberal government is holding province-wide consultations on climate change. Talking is more affordable than actually investing in public green energy and transit solutions. Premier Wynne is hoping the resulting depression will keep the public from fighting against privatizing the rest of their electricity system.

Worse still, look at the BC Liberal’s new proposal to charge Nestle and other mega-corporations only \$2.25 per million litres of ground-water they suck up, bottle and sell back to the public at obscene prices.

More: Climate change: why the Guardian is putting threat to Earth front and centre

More: We need to halt excesses of fossil-fuel age

More: Ontario government climate change consultations

More: The Government of British Columbia thinks a good price for a million litres of water is...\$2.25

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CANADA

Conservatives looking to privatize social services

On Thursday, CUPE will be making a presentation on social finance to the federal government’s Standing Committee on Human Resources. The Conservatives want feedback on their plans to privatize social services. CUPE maintains that social finance as a solution to social services is no solution at all. Get a refresher from the Citizens’ Press page on social finance.

More: Citizens’ Press: Social Finance

Canadian job quality sinks to new low

The CIBC’s Job Quality Report shows that “the quality of Canadian jobs is at its lowest level in more than two decades”. However, even this report seems to be under-reporting the data. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is set to release its Good Jobs Index shortly which will show that Canadian job quality is even worse.

How do public transit services meet the needs of marginalized workers? After all, many of the most precarious jobs are not 9-5. In a touching piece, the Tyee accompanies a Vancouver hospital cleaner home on her 90 minute midnight commute. Three buses, a SkyTrain, and a dimly lit walk later, questions remain about just how a modern transit system can be adapted to meet the needs of everyone.

More: Canada’s job quality sinks to record low: CIBC

More: Mohammad Ali Aumeer raps about Toronto job market

More: A Metro Vancouver Midnight Transit Odyssey

CUPE 3903 to vote on ratification, CUPE 3902 still on strike

Members of CUPE 3903 at York University will be holding a ratification vote on Monday, but CUPE 3902 at the University of Toronto remain on strike. For some genuine solidarity-in-action, have a look at Local 68 of the Canadian Federation of Students. The York Federation of Students are setting an example of how cross-campus, cross-workplace alliances should work.

More: CUPE 3903: Ratification vote to be held Monday, March 9

More: YFS: CUPE 3903 Strike Information

Follow: @cupe3902

More: Get the story straight on U of T strike

Save the date: Ontario Anti-Poverty Assembly

The Ontario Common Front and Ontario Federation of Labour are hosting an Anti-Poverty Assembly on April 17 & 18 starting in Toronto. Sign-up to help develop the campaign to fight poverty.

More: Ontario Common Front to Host Anti-Poverty Assembly from April 17-18, 2015

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ELSEWHERE

The Internet should be a public utility

Last week there was the good news that the US embraced ”Network Neutrality”. This week the bad news is that Europe’s neo-liberal government officials have been taking order from large European telecommunication monopolies and are on the verge of creating a two-tiered Internet (fast for the rich, slow for the poor).

The Internet should be classified and regulated as a publicly-owned utility. High-speed and affordable municipally owned and operated Internet providers have been popping up in both the US and Alberta. They are showing just what is possible.

ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is currently fighting to close the digital divide in Canada. Thousands of low-wage families are being marginalized simply because they cannot afford access to the Internet which is now necessary to take advantage of many services and identify job opportunities.

More: Europe reverses course on net neutrality legislation

More: The Internet is fucked (but we can fix it)

More: ACORN: Fair Fees

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Former Twitter engineer explores his socialist roots

Alex Payne, one of the original developers of Twitter, has announced he is investing in the socialist magazine Jacobin and joining its advisory board. Payne discusses his decision to work with Jacobin and spends some time highlighting why he believes so strongly in socialism. Both Jacobin and Payne do great work, and it’s inspiring to see leaders from the tech industry investing in, and becoming more active on the left.

More: Alex Payne: Jacobin

Are US bank stress tests just a PR exercise?

In response to public outrage over the risky and criminal bank activity that led to the 2008 financial collapse, governments imposed new regulations to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. One of these processes involves stress tests where complex models are used to determine how large financial institutions will react to another economic crisis. As it turns out, these tests have proven to be little more than a PR exercise. Major banks continue to fail the tests without consequence even though, according to academics, it’s far too easy for banks to game the system. Unsurprisingly, the banks say the tests have outlived their usefulness and are asking for them to be scraped all-together.

More: Stress tests for banks are a predictable act of public theatre>

After years of mobilization, students win free post-secondary education in Chile

One year from now, Chile will have free post-secondary education. This follows years of student action and massive protests in 2011 that culminated in the election of communist student leaders across the country. As a result of discussions and continued mobilizations, Chilean President Bachelet’s governing Socialist Party has announced it will eliminate tuition fees by investing \$8.2 billion raised from a new corporate tax.

It’s no secret that, when students mobilize, victories like this can be realized anywhere. In Canada, the Canadian Federation of Students continues to mobilize across the country for more government funding and lower tuition fees.

More: Chile Is Doing Something Huge For Its Students That We Wish America Would Do

More: CFS: It’s no secret record-high student debt and high youth unemployment mean we face a difficult future

More: Latin America Chile to Have Free Higher Education by 2016

Confused by the conflict in Ukraine? It just got worse

Analysis of the current conflict in Ukraine isn’t getting any easier. In what is being called the “Guantanamo of the East”, the European Union has provided Kiev with as much as \$34 million for migrant worker internment camps. Clearly, the EU is hoping that no one will pay notice to the export of asylum seekers to the war-torn country.

Further, it has been revealed that Western governments are helping to transport and sustain ISIS-linked Chechan fighters who are willing to help fight pro-Russian rebels. Of course the West has a long history of supporting just about anyone willing to fight the Russians (see Afghanistan's history).

More: ‘Guantanamo of the East’: Ukraine Locks Up Refugees at EU’s Behest

More: In Midst of War, Ukraine Becomes Gateway for Jihad

Has Social Democracy in the EU lost its way?

Political economist Mark Blyth was recently given an award by German Social Democrats for the best economics publication in German. While graciously accepting this award, he lambasted the crowd for ignoring the point of his work and failing to uphold social democratic principles while governing.

More: Mark Blyth: Ending the Creditor’s Paradise

China’s People’s Congress

The top decision-making body in China is meeting this week. Discussion of all things economic and social for the biggest economy on the planet will have global ramifications. Unfortunately, outside interference by imperialist NGOs may be used as justification for undermining needed local independent trade unionism.

More: China’s National People’s Congress annual session

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