Sunday, October 30, 2011

Too many NDP candidates?

I saw this idea thrown around on a CBC panel and it is common sentiment displayed by the numourous conbot trolls on CBC comment threads.

But I don't see it.

One arguement is that it didn't work very well for the Liberals. But then again- I don't think much would have worked for the Liberals at that points and I think their problems extended well beyond having 8 leadership candidates.

But I was reviewing the 2006 Liberal candidates and fully six of then were (or became) Toronto-area MPs (Hall-Findlay, Volpe, Rae, Ignatieff, Dryden, and Kennedy). The only other two was a Montreal academic (Dion) and Brison the NS MP who was the only rural MP.

My point is that this was part of the Liberal Party's problem- they were far too focused on getting support from urban/acdemic/business elite in Toronto rather then trying to build support across Canada.

The eight (soon to be nine with Ashton) NDP candidates are very representative of the geographic and social diversity across this country.

There is good representation of rural Canada among the leadership candidates:
Saganash- North Quebec
Cullen- Northwestern BC
Ashton (probably)- Northern Manitoba
Singh- Nova Scotia
Chisholm- MP of a NS urban riding with rural portions.

There is also strong urban representation from the media preceived frontrunners:
Topp- Toronto (Peggy Nash is his MP)
Nash- Toronto
Muclair- Montreal
Dewar- Ottawa

Vancouver is left out but not for the lack of a strong candidate in Peter Julian.

The other quirk of the race is the language skills of the candidates- other then the unilingual Chisholm or perhaps Dewar, the contenders are quite gifted in that department.

There are seven fleuently biliinugal candidates.

Two trilinguals: Peggy Nash (English, French, Spanish), and Nathan Cullen (English French, Spanish).

Two quadlinguals: Romeo Saganash (English, French, Spanish, Cree), and Niki Ashton (English, French, Spanish, Greek- though reportedly she is working on her Cree).

That must be some sort of record in Canada.


Lorne Gunter- Partisan Hack

Not that this is news to anyone.

In the post-Jack Layton era, why is anyone surprised that the NDP is reverting
to form, drifting away from Layton’s centrist stratagems and back to its old
faculty-club radicalism? Already the contenders for the party leadership include
one candidate who has pledged to run on a high-tax platform, another who is
opposed to the biggest economic project in the country’s near future and a third
who is essentially acting as a surrogate for the Bloc Quebecois.

Apparently Layton is a centrist now that he's dead- not that being a centrist means that you are in Gunter's good books.

Brian Topp is a high-tax candidate now because he realizes decreasing state revenue streams is suicidal in today's economy. If someone hadn't reduced GST for short term political gain then the current federal deficit would be far less.

Thomas Mulcair, an anglophone and former English-rights lawyer, is now a scary separatist because he supports all of Jack Layton Quebec politics but he does so from Montreal with a French surname (spooky). It would be more respectable to Gunter's sensibilities if his name was Thomas Jones from Toronto.

But what struck me most was Gunter's complete and utter lack of understanding when it came to Peggy Nash and her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline:

If nothing else, this latter stance shows just how far the NDP has moved
from its old role as a voice of private-sector unions to its new iteration
as a trumpet for ivory-tower, environmental and public-sector activists. Unions
for the Pipefitters, Operating Engineers, Laborers and
all want Keystone to go ahead. They understand that building
a continent-long pipeline would create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs for
tradepersons, skilled workers, labourers and truckers. But among the new caste
of democratic socialists, environmentalism trumps union-job creation. Theory
over substance. You might think a former CAW contract negotiator might see
through that, but apparently not.

Gunter is very hazy on unions and seems unaware that international borders heavily influence union policies. He points to union support from four major US-based unions who argue for the huge job creation potential IN THE USA. Sure Conservatives go to bat for American corporations all the time but except New Democrats to prioritize Canadian unions.

Nash is probably more concerned about the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union OF CANADA(CEP) or the ALBERTA Federation of Labour. The fact of the matter is that the pipeline will export tens of thousand of Canadian jobs and tie our bitumen market to a declining empire with a flat demand for crude.

Peggy Nash is simply agreeing with former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed and now she is a crazy leftist?

Andrew Nikiforuk has covered this in excellent detail.

Personally, Nash is the most appealing and as a bonus she favours Alberta's oil workers over American corporations. Gunter and the beloved National Putz doesn't like that but I don't think she's counting on their vote.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

About time...

Of course experts have been saying this for forty years.

BC is probably one of the provinces which is most liberal on drug policy (i.e. Insite) so I could see this pro-legalization stance taken up across the political landscape. But for any actual change, it is the federal government's jurisdiction so it will have to wait until 2015.

Personally, since support for marijuana distribution is so widespread, I believe that the NDP should make a larger emphasis on this issue. The vast majority of conservatives (esp. working class ones) that I know, realized that marijuana prohibition makes little sense.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Giving it another shot

I figure it's time to get back the saddle in terms of blogging. There is going to be lots to talk about from NDP perspective for the next little while.

I expect to focus on forestry/forest industry and BC/Canadian Politics this time around. There appears to be a lack of forestry workers voices on the blogosphere. That's probably because we work 50-80 hours a week whenever we aren't laid off on pogee. But I'll give it a shot.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Protest Report- Toronto

Had a good day- we managed to hit up same day return student discounts so it only costs 14 dollars per person to get to Toronto and back for the big protest. Sounds like it was huge around the White House with even the MSM saying it was above 100,000 though I have heard 250,000 and over 500,000 from Pitt at Truthout. Doesn't matter that much as, the antiwar turnout seems a lot more impressive then the pro-war turnout which according to CNN was 150 which falls far short of their 10,000 goal. London seems to have gone well with organizers putting the figure at 100,000 and police at 10,000.

CTV is saying "hundreds" marched in Toronto but that’s bullshit. The turnout was at least 1500 but I wouldn't have been surprised if it was above 2000 like the last major protest. But the best thing about Canadian protests is that there are no damn liberals at these things. Maybe that's a bad sentiment but the gathering in Toronto does not present as broad a spectrum of people partly because Canada is theoretically not actively engaged in war crimes in Iraq and war crimes in Afghanistan and Haiti are not as publicized

There was an opening rally with eight speakers in front of the US Consulate and a closing rally in front of the Ontario Liberal (spit) party headquarters with four speakers. There were the usual suspects- Council of Canadians, Steelworkers, Communist Party of Canada, Trotskyist League, Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, Young Communist League- Ontario, Worker Communist Party of Iraq, Militant Labour, and of course the International Socialists. I’m afraid I didn't see anything official from the NDP or the Canadian Federation of Students but their members were certainly active as they were speakers and handing out flyers and buttons. So it was diverse as ever on the real Left. There was of course other groups focusing on Venezuela, Haiti, and Gary Freeman.

The Speakers were diverse and representative of the Left. Starting off there was the same 14 year Iraqi girl that started off the last protest (I think she's getting better), Paul Hart- a Iraq war resistor who boosted when he heard Galloway speaking in front of the US Senate, an Vietnam area war resistor, respective representatives from the Christian and Muslim communities, labour union woman, Vice-President of the New Democrats, anti-poverty organizer, Venezuelan union leader who couldn't speak English, Haitian lady, First Nations lady, student leader etc.

The march itself was really good. It was led by half-dozen Iraq War resisters with their families and a group of Vietnam War resisters. I waved peace signs at Consulate guards and riot police but they didn't return them. All the people watching looked either neutral or positive about us although at the very end a man of Indo- Pakistani descent yelled "Idiots" or something to that effect but everyone just ignored him and he walked very very fast away. I got tons 'o lit and we kept the signs.

I have some criticisms off the top of my head. The 14 year old Iraqi girl tried to start up a couple of "Down with Zionism" chants. She didn't build up to that statement very well and she didn't mention a down with Anti-Semitism statement. This rhetoric can too easily be taken out of context and be misconstrued as Anti-Semitism. I mean hell just because you burn Israeli flags doesn't mean you hate Jewish people. Second doesn't have much to do with the organization of the rally- this guy was proudly carrying around an USSR flag. Seriously the Cold War is over man and USSR is not exactly is model you want to emulates. Hmmmmm brutal state capitalism sounds like China. And the third was they have a ridiculous number of police officers guarding a peaceful protest while after it were walking up University Ave.- a major street and these three guys were full out fighting in the middle of the road. Seriously they overreact so much at these protests.

Overall I thought it was a great atmosphere for the day of action. What really brought home to me how much action is needed was a walk through downtown. I saw more beggars and homeless in a few hours in Toronto then I did in four days walking around Havana. Pretty disgusting but I'm sure all our politicians will resolve this by granting the military 12. 8 billion more dollars.


It(the invasion) has brought misogynist and ant-working class forces and installed them rulers on the Iraqi society. It has not brought security but rather has turned the society to a jungle in the true sense of the world. This war has not put an end to terrorism. It has aggravated terrorism. It has given a huge momentum to Islamic terrorism world widely. This war put the whole world under the reign of terrorists: the state terrorism led by America and NATO on the hand and the terrorism of political Islam on the other hand. Today it is more obvious than any other time that this war was not to protect us against the weapons of masses destruction. These were all mere excuses to launch this aggression on the society. They were meaningless justifications. This war was a struggle to control the sources of power world widely.
...The Worker-communist Party of Iraq is in the forefront of the struggle to build a world free of wars, militarism and occupation. Mobilizing the masses in Iraq in order to end the occupation, defeat Islamic gangs and rebuild the civil society is the urgent goal of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq.

Long live the humanity’s struggle for a world free of wars and militarism!
Yes to freedom and equality!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Adventures of the Free Market

I spent 9 weeks this summer dabbling in the capitalist utopia which is tree planting and perhaps piecework in general. Though I must admit I was thoroughly disappointed that there weren’t swarms of Young Tories and College Republicans making a pilgrimage to practice what they preach. In fact quotes like "I keep the Bible in a pool of blood so its lies won’t affect me" and "Does anyone have any hard drugs besides coke" convinced me many planters simply are not College Republican material.

The way the system works is that for every tree you plant they gave you a specified amount of money depending on the size of the tree and the type of ground. For example big pod on unprepared ground is 9.5 cents each while small pod on prepared ground is 7.5 cents each. Personally I made way more money with the small pods on "prepared" ground. Sounds great right? You work by yourself if you slack off you make less money and if you gave all you are rewarded with more money. Free enterprise bliss eh?

Well the problem is that like anything there is a catch. The most notable one is the camp fee. Twenty Five dollars per working day. I never got to see 25% of my wages as a result. So the company requires their workers to pay for transport and food. (Accommodation is a tent you bought yourself) No living allowance essentially. Depending on the company camp fees decline depending on the number of trees you plant but that de facto only applies to veteran planters. As a rule rookie planters get screwed.

Besides camp fees whenever the company screws up you pay for it. One example- We are on our 54th working day (very long season) trying to finish up this shitty contract we got stuck with. Takes our bus 30-40 mins to get there (fairly typical) takes us over 30 mins to walk thru a swamp to get to a river. The one old 2 wheel drive ATV has broken down and the swamp buggy can't make it across the river. So we haul over 30 pounds of trees each another half hour of walking. Finally we get there and it’s shaping up to be the hottest day of the season. So far no has made a cent. By the end of the day its even hotter I have had to get trees one more times and I cant even think as everyone has run out of water. Everyone has heat exhaustion but still have to finish the land or we'll just have to work another. Probably my hardest day and I just put in quota (1000 trees or less then minimum wage with camp fees deducted).

And there was another day where we had to go to 2 sites and I counted 7 hours of transit (buses, swamp buggy and feet) but I officially planted a little less then quota because I planted a couple hundred for other people to finish the land quicker.

The flip side is that sometimes things work out well- short commute (10 mins) short walk-in(10-20 mins) or better yet no walk-in, trees all delivered, mediocre to good land and not below zero or above 40. When this all walked out with like 2 weeks left all the rookies hit 2000 (125 after camp costs), the next day I hit 3000 (200 after camp costs).

You have to look at the rookie season as a 'training wage' period where you have to gain experience and skill. A rare few can hit 2k on their 4th day out- most however take 6 weeks at my camp at least. Few might never hit it. But at least with this training wage when you have gotten to the 3k level the employer will always have to pay you at the 3k.

Over all with deductions included I made a grand every fortnight which the equivalent to a 12 dollar an hour 40 hours per week and that is slightly more then a 'living wage'. If I can not find a full summer job that pays that much I'll go back to half summer seasonal work. But the funny part is that I would be perfectly fine with doing tree planting again despite its long hours many of them unpaid and sometimes dangerous situations i.e. heat exhaustion because hell it can be a lot of fun and its tough manual outdoor labour. Definitely not a do nothing movie theatre job eh?

Friday, April 29, 2005

Summer Action

Well I pack up my internet in a few hours and I’m done my first year of university. I may post sporadically during the summer because I'll be up north treeplanting. After that its Cuba time just gotta hope Fidel is still alive by that time eh.

I was thinking about signing up with the Blogging New Democrats but I’m guessing I'll be unavailable to do any serious blogging in the run up to now anticipated June 27 election. But if by some miracle Martin manages to hold on until the fall I will certainly join for the election coverage then.

So for the summer if anybody stumbles across this humble and yet Hellsza Decent Blog then don’t worry I'll start her up again in mid-August.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Green Terrorist?

Thanks to CBC we have this interesting animal rights fellow:

In the past, Vlasak has spoken on behalf of such radical groups as the Animal Liberation Front, which the FBI considers a terrorist threat.

He once told an animal rights conference that killing research scientists would save lab animals from experiments he considers cruel.

"If these vivisectors were being targeted for assassination, and call it political assassination or what have you ... strictly from a fear and intimidation factor, that would be an effective tactic," he said.

"I don't think you'd have to kill, assassinate too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection."

Wow thats extremism for ya. There animals man get over it. They may be cute but researching on lab animals and seal hunting is just good to go. Too be fair his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has some decent points. I mean protecting our oceans and making sure we are substainable is very important. They seem to be a solid organization but Im not sure that going after the Canadian seal hunt will help their cause.

Certainly when one of their leaders advocated murder of humans to stop a legal and controlled cull of seals; (albeit controversial and worth debating) is counterproductive because the media will and has jumped on it (and rightly so). Although I have not heard much in the mainstream media about death threats and hate speech that comes from far-right sites such as Little Green Footballs.