- Ish Theilheimer highlights why the corporate right is so eager to snuff out organized labour - and why progressives need to fight back:
Since the 1980s under Reagan, US Republicans have worked to "de-fund the Left," going after advocacy groups, university student councils, progressive lawyers and legal clinics, charities, and, of course, unions.The Harperites understand the importance of this directive better than any conservatives in Canada before them. When they had a minority government, they worked systematically to eliminate funding for any of the issues they don't like, such as feminism, environment, and social justice. Now they have a majority, they are gunning for big game — unions — and only widespread public outrage can stop them....It's not too late for the labour movement to rebuild its image, was the message of speaker after speaker at SGN's workshop. Doing so, however, will require hard work, open minds, a lot of listening and research, and making key people in every organization responsible for a focus on improving the reputation and image of their union and unions in general....
There has to be a solution, because without strong unions, every progressive cause will be hobbled.
- Meanwhile, Bob Hepburn writes about some of the efforts to save and strengthen Canadian democracy in the face of the Cons' attacks.
- Karl Nerenberg observes that the Cons' immigration policy looks to be a throwback to the 1800s in terms of both an undercurrent of bigotry and a disregard for immigrants' well-being:
More than any government in recent memory, the current Conservative government has made immigration a central part of economic policy. Its overarching goal is the holy grail of neo-conservative economists, "more flexible labour markets." One way to achieve those is by strategically exploiting temporary migrant (workers).- But just as the New York Times is starting to call out Mitt Romney for his explicit class war against lower-income Americans, there would seem to be plenty of room to point out the same phenomenon in Canada. And the NDP looks to be headed in that direction by contrasting the Cons' privileged cronies against the millions of workers whose wages and prospects are being suppressed by corporatist policies.
Yesterday the privately endowed, non-partisan Toronto based Metcalf Foundation released a new study by social researcher Fay Faraday: "Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers' Insecurity."
The Report points out that Canada is now taking in more temporary migrant workers (over 190,000 in 2011) -- who have very few, if any, basic rights -- than economic immigrants (a bit more than 156,000 in 2011).
The author concludes that this practice is creating a widespread situation of exploitation which, in the report's words: "...is not isolated and anecdotal. It is endemic. It is systemic. And the depths of the violations are degrading. There is a deepening concern that Canada's temporary labour migration programs are entrenching and normalizing a low-wage, low-rights 'guest' workforce on terms that are incompatible with Canada’s fundamental Charter rights..."
As the settlement of the west was Laurier and Sifton's legacy, the growth of a new temporary worker class without rights will be part of Harper and Kenney's legacy.