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Resisting the Pallister Attacks
Public services in Manitoba are under serious assault.
The majority Progressive Conservative government, elected in April 2016 following many years of milquetoast social democratic rule from the NDP, predictably promised to maintain frontline jobs and improve services for Manitobans. Hints were made of impending spars with public sector unions and plans to cut tax rates.
But little prepared Manitobans for what was to come in the government’s second budget that was released in early April.
It wasn’t an overt slash-and-burn budget out of the Ralph Klein or Mike Harris playbook. Many leftists in the province initially sighed relief, concluding it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
Then the province started to see the fallout.
Waiting for the NDP
But Manitoba’s Left largely has no idea how to respond. Almost two decades of NDP reign has turned the aspirations of many local activists to mush, resulting in incantations that Manitobans simply must mobilize — in the form of very occasional and very ineffectual rallies, petitions and postering — for the next provincial election, in order to get the NDP elected again in 2020.
That’s it. That’s the gameplan: the sole form of “resistance” to vicious austerity measures.
Indigenous Nations Rising
Luckily, we’ve already been provided examples of alternatives.
Mostly by Indigenous peoples in Canada, actually. We obviously can’t draw immediate parallels, with struggles by First Nations, Métis, Inuit and non-status Indians representing a unique sociopolitical struggle grounded in distinct cultural, spiritual and legal relationships with lands and waters.
But the tactics born out of that are certainly worth exploring.
It wouldn’t seem it from all the glowing profiles about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but the territory known as Canada is ablaze with resistance and resurgence from Indigenous peoples and communities.
The Canadian Federation of Students - MB is ringing alarm bells about impending tuition hikes by the Pallister PCs, and building up toward action against the bill. Solidarity with the student movement in this struggle! Free education for all.
Province can cut more than $20M in education funding: KPMG report
KPMG has told Education Minister Ian Wishart there are tens of millions of dollars in cost savings to be squeezed out of the public education system — immediately, if he chooses.
In its massive financial report on government spending, KPMG says it's unfair to give $26.1 million to 22 of Manitoba's 37 school divisions that don't deserve the money under the province's complex funding formula....
NDP fight private sale of medical tests
So You Hate Capitalism. What's the Alternative?
Wednesday, May 23 at 7 PM - 9 PM
Millennium Library, Anhang Room
251 Donald Street, Winnipeg
Climate change. Famine and war in the Global South. Jobs getting worse, growing debt and attacks on public services everywhere.
This is just some of what the capitalist system is doing to the world. But is there a positive alternative? Is capitalism the end of history? Or could capitalism be replaced with a better society? If so, what does that mean for us today? If you're sick of the system, join us for a discussion.
*Free childminding will be provided for this event. Please let us know in advance if possible to let us know if you need a spot.
*Accessibility note: the Millennium Library is a wheelchair accessible building. Please contact us as soon as possible if you have any other accessibility needs and we will do our very best to fulfill them.
..1st in a 3 part series
The State of Manitoba’s Activist Left
The Manitoba Progressive Conservatives under premier Brian Pallister have been implementing harsh austerity since their 2016 landslide victory, imposing emergency room and clinic closures, wage freezes, significant budget cuts, job cuts, harsh anti-labour legislation and more.
Yet responses from the left have been largely muted and ineffective. Anyone who would suggest otherwise is lying to themselves. Two years into his mandate, Pallister’s popularity is actually increasing in the absence of popular opposition.
The consequences are serious. Insufficient fightback is giving the PCs a free pass to implement their agenda with minimal resistance. This is resulting in job losses, cutbacks to healthcare and public services, and the subsequent fallout to public well-being and the livelihoods of Manitoba’s most vulnerable citizens.
More serious and concerted efforts from the activist left are necessary....
This is the second piece in a three-part blog series.
Why is the Manitoba Left Struggling?
5. Electoral Politics No Replacement for Organizing
Decades of neoliberalism coupled with limited fightback by unions in Manitoba have helped create a culture in the prairies and other parts of Canada where unions place the bulk of their “political action” on parliamentary and electoral politics.
Conversations with elected union leaders in Manitoba confirmed this. One elected union leader said a core means to get rid of the Tories is “being active and being engaged and involved in the Party [ie. Manitoba NDP]. Volunteering and working for them and encouraging others to do the same.”
The problem with this approach is that there is virtually no non-electoral mobilization taking place outside of fragmented protests and small advertising campaigns. (There are some positive exceptions to this.)
The absence of an effective popular campaign that is waged through collective political action in workplaces and communities is giving the PCs a free pass. As stated in the first post in this series, popularity for the PCs is actually rising.
It’s time to build popular fightback against the PC agenda and there are plenty of good building blocks to work with. In short, it’s time to organize.
So sad but true.
This is the third and final piece in a three-part blog series.
Five Ideas for Building the Manitoba Activist Left
5. Support Organizing and Movements
Most unions and organizations in Manitoba have limited capacity when it comes to a core base of members or organizers. The majority of the grunt-work is done by a dedicated few, who often work on multiple campaigns and occasionally burn out.
When opportunities for temporary coalitions around a specific mobilization or campaigns exist, it is worth making the tent big, even if there are groups at the table that you disagree with. Education work becomes essential here as it’s important to have a broadly shared perspective and common goal.
One of the benefits of working together is that campaigns, actions, and plans can be coordinated. Groups without anything on the immediate horizon can contribute personnel and resources to aid the cause when an action or event is taking shape.
Campaigns and actions organized by unions and groups like Communities Not Cuts, Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, Fight for $15, CUPE 204, teachers, nurses and others are just a few examples of opportunities to collaborate.
Supporting organizing and movements by contributing resources and – most importantly – personnel, helps build a culture of solidarity that must be cultivated across unions, communities and grassroots groups during these difficult times.
The activist left in Manitoba already has several amazing organizers in grassroots groups, community organizations, and trade unions. There is emerging potential and momentum, however slow-brewing. Planning should be underway now to create a season of discontent this fall that builds ongoing momentum into 2019 while Pallister retreats to his Costa Rican villa.