Where’s Nora?

18 Sep

Nora’s not here. Back in November, she had babies. A lot of babies. Two. Since then, she’s been using her laptop which has a browser so old that it doesn’t support WordPress very well. I’ll be back here, seriously, some day. Until then, this is what you should know:

I’m the author of From Demonized to Organized, Building the New Union Movement. Email me for speaking engagements.

I’m currently editing Up! Canadian Labour Rising for Rabble.ca. You can see the series here: http://rabble.ca/news/2014/05/canadian-labour-rising
If you’re interested in contributing, please get in touch.

My blog has relocated to Rabble.ca. So, if you’re wondering what I’ve written in the past year, you can mostly check it out here: http://rabble.ca/taxonomy/term/13039

My October events are:

Oct. 3, Toronto (Good Jobs Summit)
Oct. 7, Ryerson (Social Justice Week)
Oct. 7, Trent University
Oct. 18, Winnipeg (MGEU General Meeting)
Oct. 29, Regina (SFL General Meeting)
Oct. 30  Saskatoon ***downgraded to a night of beer

November:

Nov. 5 and 6: Sudbury, Ontario

If you’re looking to volunteer as someone’s manager/publicist, please be in touch.

Scoring political points with Québec’s secularism charter

10 Sep

Contrary to what the mainstream English press will have you believe, Québec is not the most racist place in Canada. Racism is sewn into the fabric of Canadian society Québec is just one piece of that fabric.

English politicians have been quick to score political points by capitalizing on easy and age-old divisions: when they condemn Québec, the Parti Québecois or Pauline Marois for being racist they’re saying: “Look at them!” Or, in other words, “Don’t look at us!”

Indeed, the Parti Québecois’ Charte de la laïcité is a gift to Canadian politicians. The Ontario government has jumped at this opportunity and condemned the charter before it was even released.

This condemnation is pretty vacant when you consider that just last Friday, the Ontario government challenged its own responsibility to give OHIP coverage to two migrant workers who were injured on the job. Ontario believes that foreign workers (who are mostly racialized), once injured and unable to work, should be kicked off the provincial health plan.

The Ontario government also hasn’t declared its support for Ian Campeau’s Human Rights challenge to change the racist name of the Nepean amateur football team from The Redskins to something that isn’t racist. Nor have they condemned the National amateur football association for refusing to comment, or for resisting the change in the past.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi jumped into the ring, too. He received wide media coverage last week for having opposed Marois’ planned legislation. Though, rather than acknowledging how far his own community has to go in combating racism, he focused only on Québec. Calgary is one of the most active cities in Canada for white supremacist organizing, one of the few places where white nationalists still try to march annually on Hitler’s birthday.

There are blind spots in English Canada to institutionalized racism and it’s not good enough for politicians to only condemn the most outward expressions of white supremacy. The quick political points scored will only amplify anti-Québec sentiment and Québecers who see this will be rightfully outraged

Canada was built on white supremacy and white nationalism. The supremacy of the Catholic and Protestant churches, tied into the genocide upon which the country was built, is woven into every single Canadian structure. But Québec’s origins, as they relate to its society today, are different from the rest of Canada.

Québec’s history of conquest by England, the push to control all aspects of Québec society by the Catholic Church and the repressive nature of that control has no parallel experience in the rest of Canada. The forced subjugation of French-speaking Québecers at the hands of English capitalists created an unequal society where Québecers were less educated, more poor and more marginalized than most of the English minority in this province.

Québecers’ institutional relationship with religion is also different than in any other region of Canada. They spectacularly and swiftly rejected the influence of the church over their lives through the quiet revolution. But the break wasn’t entirely clean and the role once played by the Catholic Church still influences how many Québecers understand religion and its relationship with the state.

The PQ’s charter advances a secularism that is born from this experience. It’s a kind of secularism, a White, post-Catholic secularism, where public schools still have crosses attached to them and where a crucifix is an image of culture, not of religion. It’s paradoxical, but it’s deeply Québécois.

This political context means that any attempt at creating a secularism charter made by a governing political party is going to be completely bungled, racist and offensive.

While many people had hoped that the charter would have at least stopped public grants to private religious schools, the charter is silent on this. It also exempts, of all people, the politicians themselves from being forced to hide their religious symbols if elected. The PQ: protecting those in power, while oppressing and marginalizing workers.

I have progressive friends who argue with me that public institutions should have no outward expression of religion. This blanket assertion gets messy when you consider how deep Catholicism still runs throughout, and how burning every last vestige of the Catholic Church from Québec is impossible. This is especially true considering the widespread sale of churches in the province: sometimes it makes more sense for a city to buy a church and turn it into a library than simply burn it down. The stained glass is probably old and beautiful and so it’s restored. It also probably has a depiction of Jesus’s beard being plucked off, or Jesus in agony upon the cross.

Just like the quick political points that Wynne and Nenshi hoped to score, this Charter is more about polls than it is about proselytization. If it were about freedom from the annoying folks who try to convince me that Scientology is the way to find salvation, the PQ would just ban proselytism from public spaces. But surely, no one ever converted to Islam solely because they learned Grade 6 math from a woman wearing hijab.

This debate has little to do with religious freedom. The Parti Québécois knows that this rhetoric is popular among enough people that it might deliver them a provincial majority. And besides, demonizing a turban is way easier than balancing the province’s desire to exploit its natural resources and satisfy foreign industry with peoples’ outrage in the aftermath of Lac-Mégantic, for example.

Secularism, when wielded as a blunt object, will marginalize people who are already marginalized. For religious observers, wearing religious symbols is not a choice and they will either be systematically excluded from the public sector, or oppressed into turning away from some elements of how they express their religion.

The legislation is rooted in white supremacy, where the religion, norms, cultures and practices of the white dominant are fine, but the religion, norms, cultures and practices of the mostly racialized other are offensive. In fact, according to Bernard Drainville, the MNA who presented the charter, they’re so offensive that they need to be stopped in particular to protect children in schools.

But the analysis of this has to be thoughtful and careful. It’s not enough to just call Québec racist as if every other province doesn’t struggle with its own racist structures. Canadian critics, especially mainstream journalists, need to avoid applying their own province’s history and current context to analyses of Québec.

The enemy of my enemy is never my ally: A critique of the CFS disaffiliation drives

5 Sep

“16 schools want to leave CFS,” declares Ethan Cox at his rabble.ca and Canada.com blogs. 16 schools — sensationalized even from the press release it references, issued by the students organizing the disaffiliation petition drive.

Like a playbook from a Manning Centre workshop, the release dropped during the first week back to school at most campuses, right in time to feed the student press.

We expect these attacks from the right. We, progressives who work within organizations that are well-resourced and have the potential to seriously disrupt the status quo, face these attacks regularly. They’re easy to understand when they come from the right. They’re harder to square when the come from the so-called left.

I say “so-called” because I don’t think anyone who allies themselves with the right to call for the whole-scale destruction of a progressive entity, especially without building an alternative, can call themselves progressive without being laughed at.

This goes for unions, this goes for the NDP and it goes for the Canadian Federation of Students.

The CFS is impressive for a lot of reasons. After decades of growth, it has the resources to drive higher education policy in many provinces, and can offer students services that do save money. In the 1990s, when the organization was taken over by Liberals, the idea that the CFS would take a position against war, Islamophobia, racism or even call for free education would have been hilarious.

Fast forward a decade and a half and the CFS is on the front lines of each of those struggles. It defends students’ right to choose in the face of extreme backlash. It staunchly opposes war and militarism. It defends free higher education.

I mention these victories to not say that the organization doesn’t deserve criticism, but to try and contextualize the current “attack.” When you get past the petty personal shit (and, I assure you, every single person who isn’t controlled by the Liberal or Conservative party has been burned by or developed beefs with someone at the CFS), there’s simply no current, progressive argument in favour of disaffiliation on which to stand.

Advocating for the mass exodus of membership in the CFS does only two things. Spoiler alert: neither of those things is to build the communist, revolutionary organization that some claim they want.

The first result is that it will open a space for the most resourced campus activists to fill it. While it can be hard for anarchists or socialists to accept, these activists will not be progressive. They will be funded by the Liberal and Conservative parties. They will hide behind the veneer of the left until the left falls apart because it divides itself even further and they will win.

While the dissenters’ press release says that some of the students who are mobilizing to leave the CFS want to create an ASSE-like alternative, they idiotically state: “But even if students have no desire to join a new organizing body, they should still consider terminating their membership in the CFS.”

Real progressive, folks. Damn the CFS and, in its place, we’ll take nothing.

Nothing comes of nothing and nothing isn’t an alternative.

The other natural outcome is what worries me the most. As a former staff person of the organization, I have had more than my share of grievances with the organization. As I know how hard it is to work and make change, build consensus, actually organize and realize a new, progressive project, I also know that writing a blog littered with factual inaccuracies to burn an organization that once burned your friends is way easier.

But these kinds of attacks will actually stop the leadership of the CFS from implementing the reforms, campaigns or new organizing strategies that it desperately needs. Instead, they’ll focus on these disaffiliation campaigns, fight them on the ground and resources for broad-based organizing will vanish.

Well-meaning students who want their national federation to be more militant, will find themselves stuck defending the very existence of the CFS rather than organizing for free education. These attacks stymie the expression of the very politics it claims to promote.

Many of those named on this petition went about “reforming” the CFS through hammering its bureaucracy: its bylaws and policies. It must have been a huge surprise to find out that, by and large, unless you have severe social awkwardness issues, no one cares about bylaw changes.

What students care about is the campaigns, the demands, the militant action and the ability of their national or provincial organization to influence the public debate. Claiming that the CFS cannot be reformed because you un-strategically walked in with a crowbar, swung it at some bylaws and talked about lawsuits in vague enough terms that most delegates tuned out, is living in a fantasy world.

You want to reform the CFS? You have to engage. You have to win the arguments at general meetings and the actually do the work on the ground. You have to lead with campaigns and services and build community — the aspects of the organization that students actually care about, rather than engaging in some spun-out tale about how your former roommate was once called a name by a national office staffer (for example).

You have to work toward progressive change in a good way, with good intentions and with lots of hard work. If you can’t see that the CFS is an organization with the resources to be turned into a dangerously progressive force, your personal rage is clouding your judgment.

I chose to not take on the facts contained within blog posts already written (even though since yesterday, Cox’s blog went from the CFS was suing Concordia Students’ Union to it being the opposite, but what are a few facts when a personal vendetta is on the line?) and I also chose to not focus on another legitimate but issue-obscuring argument (like, why is there not one list of all 15 or 16 schools? Are we talking 16 students at 16 schools? 30 students at 10 schools but different students’ unions? 10,000 students at U of T? etc.) I could do both, and will if there’s enough demand.

I also didn’t investigate the actual ties to the Conservative party (though, it’s worth mentioning that the Laurentian undergraduate CFS rep, presumably included in the disgruntled Laurentian University group, is a former staffer for Tony Clement and Conservative Party activist.) I didn’t do this because it’s well documented. I’ve written about it before and, as more “leaders” emerge from behind the so-called radical left leading this charge, its face will become more obvious.

Just like in 2009, the last time this strategy was attempted, the left may be the face now, but on the ground, the pieces will be set up and knocked down by the right.

Any so-called progressive that’s willing to ally with these forces to settle a score should have their head shaken.

 

Personal disclosure: Until August, I was a member of the Canadian Federation of Students/CFS-Saskatchewan. That’s my only formal interaction with the organization since I left my job there in June 2012. I was previously Communications and Government Relations Coordinator for the CFS-Ontario. I now live in Québec where, contrary to what some Anglophones say in Montreal, I’ve found that no one here cares about the Canadian Federation of Students. I have been asked by several people to respond, not one of which works or holds a position with the CFS currently or ever.

International students and the Canadian state

12 Aug

Screen shot 2013-08-12 at 12.08.12 PMWhen I was first involved in the student movement, one of the great victories that we had won was the right for international students to work off campus.

Prior to June 2005, international students were limited to only being allowed to work on campus.

On campus jobs are highly competitive. Most will work around academic schedules, they’re usually better paid jobs than off campus and they also tend to be more interesting. Domestic students would apply for these jobs too, making it possible that international students would find themselves out of luck for work, just because the demand on these jobs was so high.

The federal government created a task force to examine the possibility of allowing international students to work off campus and started by piloting a project in several major cities across Canada. It wasn’t long before a new off campus work permit was created and international students could seek work off campus.

The entire question of “being allowed to” work is absurd. International students come to Canada to study and are treated like oases of money: in the desert of Canadian students scraping by and funding their futures on debt, international students arrive on campus, keen and ready to learn. Sure, the great lengths they take to get there tend to be invisible to Canadians, but it doesn’t matter. They’re willing to pay three to four times the amount of money that a Canadian student wants to pay. And, without citizenship, they’ll behave. No one wants to be deported for protesting high tuition fees.

Let’s ignore the human side of this (you know, the side of where they’re far from home, many are away from spouses and kids, how none of this is just etc.). Speaking purely about money, international students have to contend not just with outrageously high tuition fees, but they also have two other threats: the fact that, at most schools, tuition fees are deregulated and that they can increase from year to year at any amount, making multi-year budgeting impossible. And two: with currency fluctuations, the worth of a foreign currency against the Canadian dollar can change from year to year. Oh, your home currency’s worth plummeted this past year? Factor that into your tuition fee costs and it becomes even more expensive.

Considering these pressures, there is no question of being “allowed” to work. International students are forced to work. The vast majority depend on their Canadian jobs to find the money to, you know, eat and pay rent.

This reality is what makes the plight of two University of Regina students so sick.

Despite promises to harmonize the system in the next year, the federal government has not yet merged the on-campus visa with the off-campus visa. Students holding one must find work where their visa allows them to work. So, if you find a shit job at Wal-Mart, for example, but the government says that your job must be on campus (and there aren’t any Wal-Marts on campus, yet!), you could get in trouble. Your employer would likely fire you, if they read the visa and realized that it applied only to on campus jobs. You might be fined.

Or, for Victoria Ordu and Favour Amadi, you face deportation.

For working a few weeks at Wal-Mart, before quitting once they realized their mistake, they risk losing three years of their university education, three years of international tuition fees, three years of being away from home. And the federal government thinks that they deserve such a harsh punishment.

In an era where Canada relies on non-Canadian workers to drive its economy through the temporary foreign worker program, and where that program has been widely abused by huge corporations, Victoria and Favour’s deportation order is clearly an attack on two women who simply don’t have access to power. Ignore Wal-Mart’s responsibility too; they clearly didn’t bother to check their visas, which they’re required to do. It’s the women’s faults.

The University of Regina has opposed the deportation order. So have the provincial SaskParty and the NDP. The support for deportation comes from the hypocritical, draconian and punitive federal government. Ministers have refused to intervene, which they have the right to, and Victoria and Favour have been living in sanctuary for more than a year.

The federal government has created an impossible position for these students: entice them to Canada to study, allow for universities to exploit them through their excess fees and restrict where and for how long they can work (work permits prohibit students from working more than 10 hours a week). After stealing so much from them, they’re then told to get out.

And all the two students want is a degree that says “University of Regina” before they return to Nigeria.

Up until recently, Jason Kenney was the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Despite the cabinet shuffle, it was under his watch that Victoria and Favour have endured the majority of their ordeal. Despite being generally vile, Jason Kenney’s refusal to step in on this case is particularly nauseating.

Kenney was himself an international student, at San Francisco’s Catholic University. After abortion rights activists fought and won the right to freely express themselves on campus, Kenney helped to lead a petition drive demanding that the word “Catholic” be dropped from the institution’s name. If the petition failed to convince the archbishop, Kenney and his band of zealots had planned to go directly to the Vatican because, why not? While a student there, he likened allowing pro-choice activists to allowing the KKK to operate on campus.

I suspect that Kenney wasn’t deported for his views. While probably despised by a sizable chunk of his classmates, he was likely allowed to continue with his activism and finish his studies, all while being in that precarious world of being an international student. And then, as Minister and despite having been given the freedom to carry out his anti-woman campaign while he was a student, he showed no sympathy for Victoria and Favour’s ordeal, instead condemning them to deportation and a multi-year jail term in various church basements.

Pretty Catholic of the guy.

Borders that have been put up in Canada and around the world are senseless, meant only to control people so that power remains in tact. International students should have all the rights and freedoms afforded to them that the Charter gives to all Canadians. While you’re living here, you should not be subject to the unjust oppression of the Canadian state.

Victoria and Favour have done no wrong. For an infraction not even as dangerous than speeding, they’re facing the ultimate punishment and there’s no, rational way to justify it.

For more information about the campaign to stop Favour and Victoria’s deportations, visit http://stopurdeportations.com/

Ontario NDP given chance to pull the Liberals left

2 Aug
Peggy Sattler with Andrea Horwath during the August Ontario byelection

Peggy Sattler, middle, won in London during the August 1 Ontario byelection

Voters delivered a clear message: out with the Liberals, down with the PCs.

The NDP won two of the five liberal ridings up for grabs in this byelection. The new MPPs are successful politicians in their own rights: Percy Hatfield was a city councilor in Windsor and Peggy Sattler was a school trustee. Both were running in ridings where the former representatives, Dwight Duncan and Chris Bentley, wore most of the controversy of the $500 million waste in the gas plant scandal. 

The Liberals barely held onto Dalton McGuinty’s former riding and Mitzie Hunter took over for Margarett Best, a cabinet minister whose profile was never very high.

The PCs only won Etobicoke-Lakeshore in a race that had more to do with Toronto politics than Ontario politics, where two sitting councilors raced against each other. Former Etobicoke mayor and Rob Ford insider Doug Holyday is their new MPP.

Before any party claims victory, a sober analysis of the political scene is critical: were people voting for, or against something?

There’s no question: the PCs and the Liberals, if not tied to be this byelection’s loser, were neck in neck for that laurel. The PCs might just take it as byelections tend to be the opportunity to show the ruling party a lesson. In the next general election, these votes might swing right back to the Liberals. Many have wondered publicly what this will mean for Tim Hudak’s future. I agree that his days as leader are numbered.

This bring me back to my first point: the Ontario NDP might regret these results.

That’s my pessimistic way of saying this: the NDP has won its greatest opportunity since they held government to influence government. Are they up to the challenge?

Assuming that government holds long enough to even consider a budget, the pressure on the NDP to deliver a budget with the Liberals that reflects some progressive values will be their greatest test in nearly 20 years. The Liberals will need NDP support. The New Democrats cannot rely on weak, populist policies if they’re going to prove that they’re a viable alternative. They’ll have to demonstrate that they can play politics: make serious demands or force a general election.

Will party insiders see this reality? Or will they actually believe that folks in London and Windsor voted NDP because they think Andrea Horwath should be premier?

The victories for the NDP in this campaign are not insignificant. Sattler and Hatfield will be important additions to Queen’s Park.

But the losses for the NDP are more significant than this byelection’s gains. The absurd powerplay of Adam Giambrone to become the candidate in Scarborough-Guildwood called into question both the party’s internal democracy and moral decency. It was a bigger error than Sattler’s win was a victory. Miscalculating Giambrone’s transit strategy and siding with a Rob Ford-esque subway promise was a bigger error than Hatfield’s win was a victory.

They’re bigger errors because they seem to have been orchestrated by the party’s central command. Where Sattler and Hatfield won mostly on their reputations followed by the banner of the NDP, Giambrone seemed to be steered by the back room of the party. Or, at least that’s what it looked like from the outside.

When budget negotiations come around, who will be the strategists? The folks who organized Giambrone’s campaign or Sattler’s campaign?

If the NDP picks their big issues now (public childcare? lower tuition fees? new energy policies?), pulling a Liberal budget to the left won’t be politically difficult.

Staying on their current track: figuring out the easiest policies to implement and allowing populism to drive them, will result in the a PC victory during the next election, if that party jettisons Hudak.

There are many, many months for the NDP to clean itself up internally and find the best political minds and organizers they can mine from the left. With an activist Ontario Federation of Labour, this shouldn’t be a hard task.

They have no other choice: they have to finally put their progressive rhetoric into action or left-wing Ontarians should walk away and start something new.

Whether or not “the party” sees this is an entirely different question that I’ll no doubt get to write about in a few months.

Photo from http://www.peggysattler.ca

Ken Coran: The ultimate betrayal

4 Jul

Coran at Queen's ParkWhen Léo Bureau-Blouin announced that he would run for the Parti Québecois, right after year of student protests where he was the leader of one of the three coordinating groups, he was rightfully called out. As the president of the FECQ, his target during the protests was the Liberal government of Jean Charest, a tuition fee increase of up to 71 per cent and the attack on civil liberties, Law 78.

LBB was elected. His party did stop the Liberal’s hike, but brought in their own at 3 per cent annually. They repealed Law 78, though he was silent when his party passed another special law to interfere with the strike of construction workers. He was held up as a new voice of youth during the election. Marois has ensured that he’s remained obedient and silent.

While he was the weakest and least progressive of the three student leaders during the strike, LBB was still a symbol for the power that exists when people take to the streets. When that power is transferred into government, clearly, it evaporates. The ruling party got itself a pet; a star candidate; a symbol for how great they must be for students, and then have screwed students ever since.

Total win for Marois. Probably a win for LBB too, if he doesn’t care much about respect. Loss for the students that he once represented who will pay 3 per cent more in tuition fees in the fall, at institutions who had their budgets cut by 5 per cent.

The Ontario Liberals have just announced their own star candidate.

Ken Coran, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, announced that he will run for the Liberal Party in the riding of London West.

Yes, right off the heels of the most outrageous interference into collective bargaining by the Ontario government possibly ever, one of the presidents of the unions who were stomped on, is running for his political enemies.

Making this even more hilarious is that he’ll be replacing Chris Bentley: the scandal-ridden MPP who resigned while facing a motion of censure for concealing the documents that explained how much the gas plant scandals cost (about $600 million). Chris was also the Minister who ushered in Ontario’s tuition fee policy that saw fees rise by up to 8 per cent, annually, for seven years.

Coran is a nice guy. He probably thinks he can do some positive things in this role, especially with a the new leader who has tried to distance herself from McGuinty’s policies and strategies. But for the members of OSSTF who had their right to collectively bargain eliminated and were forced to take a concessions contract, this is a slap in the face. Like the PQ’s poaching of LBB: good for them, bad for the students, or teachers.

Coran’s entry into provincial politics is only possible thanks to the complete moral bankruptcy that exists at Queen’s Park: no ideology, no politics, just populism and vacant slogans that mean less than the paper they’re printed on.

If Coran was an ambitious politician-in-waiting, should he have run for the NDP? While his decision to support the party that killed teachers’ rights to collectively bargain is objectively offensive, in this politically-vacant-populist-do-what-it-takes-to-get-elected world, it makes perfect sense that he’d choose the Liberals: they’re a stronger party, with more credibility than the NDP. He can argue that he can do more from the inside than the outside, that he can support teachers from Toronto.

And he’ll try, and he’ll fail.

The hypocrisy demonstrated by Coran is deeply frustrating, especially for union activists, but the reality of democracy in Canada is that it’s a complete joke. The NDP can develop a slogan like “Run to Win” (the NDP’s 1 Corinthians 9:24-inspired slogan that no party ever thought of using…ever) and not be dismissed outright as a bunch populist hacks.  The PCs are the only party with an ideological yardstick, yet Hudak remains to be seen as Satan’s spawn (or at the very least, the handmaiden of Satan, Mike Harris). Is it any wonder that voters are deeply disenfranchised?

For union members and progressive people, Coran’s appointment is a reminder that our victories will not be won at Queen’s Park, no matter what the outcome is of this election. If 15 per cent off car insurance, in two years, maybe, is the best the NDP can win when it holds the balance of power, and if the Liberals are just mini Harrisites who take longer to wreak the same havoc, policies that will make peoples’ lives better from Queen’s Park are a long way off.

There is power in collective bargaining and there is power in the streets. In an era where the power wielded by legislatures across Canada resembles more a Medieval fiefdom than a modern democracy, Canadians must rely on extra-parliamentary channels like never before.

And when movement leaders sell out their movements on a dime, we have to take back our movements, challenge our leadership and be clear that if they betray us, we won’t forget.

Leave “Canada” out of July 1

1 Jul

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 11.31.57 AMIt’s Canada Day.

Like any day where people don’t have to work, July 1 should be spent somewhere nice with people you like.

Like any day in a world where workers’ rights are constantly under attack, you probably do have to work. So instead, spend the day daydreaming about the lake, the dock and the friends you might get to see once this year.

The vacant nationalism, the flag wearing, the odes to a nation that flow like poetry from Facebook statuses from across the nation (OK, with two notable exceptions), should give us all time to reflect.

Why?

If your family immigrated here, why give “Canada” the credit for a decision made by your ancestors?

Why give “Canada” the honour of being a symbol for anything and everything that is good?

Why buy into the national myth that upholds how great life is for many of us, while at the same time ignoring or erasing the strife, struggle or challenges that also come with living in “Canada?”

Nationalism is never vacant and it’s most dangerous when it’s masked as such. Nationalism holds a political purpose. It can serve to unite an oppressed people. It can help unite people with varying identities to achieve something that will improve their lives. It can be used to justify the subjugation, ethnic cleansing and genocide of people. It can be used as a blunt object to erase history.

Today, Canada Day should be stained in black for the oil spills and environmental destruction that has been waged across this country for the past year. It should be silenced as we’ve witnessed another watershed year of our freedoms vanish under a radical, conservative government that benefits when the Canadian Flag is waved and myths are used to hide facts. It should be spat upon by the millions of workers whose right to collective bargaining were quashed this past year by Liberals, Conservatives, the Saskatchewan Party or the Parti Québecois.

Take the holiday, if you can, and spend it well. But don’t wave that flag if you can’t justify what “Canada” means today. Take the vacancy out of nationalism and be deliberate: The myth versus the facts: which side are you on?

Honour the land, honour the earth, honour your relations, but leave “Canada” out of it.

 

Photo taken from http://www.onestoneadvisors.com/fresh/?p=1273

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