by Barry Weisleder
June 2007 edition of Northern Lights, a regular column from
Socialism 2007 a Big Success
Over sixty people crowded into the Free Times Cafe in Toronto’s historic garment district on the evening of April 29 to celebrate International Workers’ Day with Socialist Action, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, the Free the Cuba Five Committee, the Toronto Haiti Action Committee and the NDP Socialist Caucus. Top quality live music and theatre performances, greetings, speeches and a raffle made for a memorable, quick-paced celebration.
event capped Socialist Action’s fourth annual educational conference held
were the Friday evening session on the
The weekend was so lively, informative and stimulating that it inspired three new participants to ask to join Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’Action Socialiste, and several others to subscribe to SA monthly newspaper.
What lies ahead?
The following excerpts from the SA message to the May Day Celebration suggest some pressing priorities.
“The burning issue of our times, literally, is climate change due to global warming. The escalating environmental crisis exposes the utter incompatibility of capitalism with the survival of life on Earth. The refusal of global big business and its governments to comply even with the pathetic emission reduction targets of the Kyoto Accord, with its scandalous mechanism for selling carbon credits, constitute an unfolding tragedy of epic proportions. The Katrina–New Orleans debacle, which showed who suffers first and most under racist, sexist, capitalist class rule, is likely to be repeated many fold, from Tierra del Fuego to Baffin Island — and it is sure to trigger a massive and widespread radicalization that only socialists can lead towards a progressive solution. The struggle against the cause of climate change — corporate power and greed — is already beginning to intersect with a rising tide of rejection of the neo-liberal agenda of global big business.
“In Québec, the Union des Forces Progressiste and Option Citoyenne united in February 2006 to form Québec Solidaire. Although not an explicitly socialist party, its pro-sovereignty and anti-neo-liberal policies have attracted Labour support, and help to advance the idea of building a labour-based workers’ party that fights for an independent and socialist Québec. The QS received close to 4% of the votes in the recent Québec provincial election, up to 29% and 26% in two Montréal ridings. The decline of the PQ, the rise of the ADQ, and the election of a Liberal minority government signifies massive disaffection with the political status quo. It also reveals the continuing strength of nationalist aspirations amongst the Québécois.
“It is premature to propose an NDP-Québec Solidarity alliance at the federal level. But the idea of a joint struggle for government by the workers’ organizations of Québec and English Canada is important. In the meantime, and at the upcoming federal election, the best available option to advance the idea of working class independence from the capitalist parties remains the fight for an NDP federal government.
All Out on June 29 — Aboriginal Day of Protest
and on September 26 — Mass Anti-Poverty Action in
Tired of “waiting” for justice, angry aboriginal and poor people are gearing up for a hot summer of mass protest actions that deserve the broadest possible support.
of our communities have reached a breaking point,” Assembly of First
Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine told the Canadian Club in
Conservative federal government scuttled the Kelowna
Accord, the 2005 agreement between
leaders have set June 29 as a cross-country day of protest. Chief Terry Nelson
Six Nations members continue a 15-month occupation in Caledonia, south of
A Senate committee recently reported that more than 850 claims are waiting to be resolved, and that it could take 90 years to settle them all. Clearly, waiting won’t work.
At the same time, a widening income gap and deepening poverty in urban and rural areas alike condemn growing numbers of people to a desperate struggle for survival. For over twenty years welfare rates, the minimum wage and social housing have been virtually frozen. As a result, preventable diseases and deaths due to exposure are on the rise.
Anti-Poverty (TAP), which describes itself as “a non-partisan coalition
of community organizations, trade union activists, health providers and low
income people,” is organizing a Day of Action for Wednesday, September
26. Feeder marches across
Action advocates an immediate 40 per cent raise in welfare and disability
rates, a $12.50 minimum wage in
says, “We believe there is momentum right now for real change in
activist Daniel Freeman-Maloy will be back at
In the spring of 2004, the Jewish political science major was suspended for three years for using a megaphone at two anti-Zionist rallies in a common public space on campus. While the university withdrew the suspension after three months, Freeman-Maloy went on to sue York and its President Lorna Marsden for $850,000 for defamation, economic harm, and limiting his academic freedom. That battle ended in May 2007 with a confidential agreement that Dan describes as “satisfactory.”
Along the way, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld his right to sue a university president for “misfeasance in public office.”
Federation of Students’
Farmers Squeezed by Rising Costs
number of farms with more than $250,000 in gross income increased by nearly 14%
over the past half-decade and “million-dollar farms” grew by 33%.
Small farms are still the most common in
past five years have been “the worst for farm incomes in Canadian
history,” said Terry Pugh, executive director of the National
Canadian farm receipts (including earnings on products sold and government program payments) totaled $42.2 billion in the most recent census, up almost 9% over the previous figures. In the same time period, farm expenses were $36.4 billion. Fertilizer and fuel prices alone jumped 35% and pesticide costs rose by 19%.
means Canadian farmers spend an average of 86¢ for every dollar they make, but
that figure does not include depreciation — something Terry Pugh said is
a major cost and a significant oversight. All told, 44% of
The census also shows more farmers are looking for work off the farm and working longer hours. Nearly half (48%) now have some employment off the farm, up from 45% in 2001.
McBreakfast Could Kill You
single fast food meal can cause your blood pressure to spike, says a new
And such an instant jump could be a key to how high-fat meals produce heart disease over time, according to the lead researcher.
“We can measure this response after only one meal, which is remarkable,” said Tavis Campbell, a health psychology professor at the school.
“Most Canadians eat these sorts of fast-food meals on a fairly regular basis…and, if we can see the effects after one sitting, it’s really striking to think about people who do this (two or three times a week).”
In the study, subjects who ingested high-fat meals saw their blood pressure go up 1.25 to 1.5 times higher than counterparts who ate low-fat offerings when both were submitted to several standard stress tests. The tests, administered about two hours after eating, included public speaking assignments, math tests and immersing their hands in icy water.
The subjects were 30 young, healthy individuals, none of whom had any history of blood pressure or heart problems.
The high-fat meal was basically a large McDonald’s breakfast, consisting of hash browns, a Sausage McMuffin and an Egg McMuffin. The low-fat menu included Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops, a fruit bar and Sunny Delight orange drink.
already know that a high-fat diet is linked…to cardiovascular disease,
certain kinds of cancers and so on,”
“This is maybe an additional way that a high-fat diet can have a negative impact on cardiovascular health.”
Female Grads Get Paid Less
Nowadays, women outnumber men at universities, overall they get better grades, and yet women get paid less than men after graduation.
Surprising to many is not the well-documented existence of the income gap, but that it starts so soon.
According to a new study by the American Association of University Women, women already earn 20 per cent less than men at the same level and in the same field one year after college graduation. Right at the beginning, before taking time off for childbirth or child rearing, women find themselves behind.
then it gets worse. Women are paid about 77 cents for every dollar a man is
paid, according to
Ten years after graduation, women fall further behind, earning 69 per cent of what men earn.
A 12 per cent gap appeared even when the AAUW Education Foundation, which did the research, accounted for hours, occupation, parenthood and other factors known to directly affect earnings.
The remainder of the gap is unexplained by any other control factors. That may mean, said Catherine Hill, director of research for the AAUW, that discrimination is the root cause.
And to discover the deeper root of that “root cause” one needs only to answer the question, “Who benefits by paying women less?”
NDP Wins Historic Third Majority in
labour-based New Democratic Party in
The NDP, under Leader Gary Doer, elected 36 members, equaling a record set by the Conservatives under premier Duff Roblin in the 1960s.
The NDP picked up two Winnipeg seats from the Tories: Kirkfield Park, which was a former Conservative leader’s riding, and Southdale. Both ridings had elected Conservatives since 1990.
The Manitoba Liberal Party held on to its two seats, failing again to win the four seats required to obtain official party status. With 1.3 per cent of the popular vote, the Green Party elected no MPPs. The NDP dominated northern and Winnipeg seats, while the 19 ridings won by the Conservatives were mostly in southern rural areas.