Donald Gutstein is author of Not a Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy, and an adjunct professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. His website is www.donaldgutstein.com
Canadian workers and their families gave up their right to sue employers for workplace-related injury, illness or death many decades ago. In exchange, they agreed to the transfer of the power and resources to maintain healthy and safe worksites, and to provide just compensation for workplace deaths and injuries, to various provincial and federal bodies in an implied social contract. Later, occupational health and safety rights were enshrined in legislation across the country.
The world seemed to change dramatically in 2011. On the global stage the democracy movement that started in Tunisia spread throughout the Middle East and beyond, eventually settling into tiny Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from Wall Street. From there, Occupy Wall Street rippled out to become a global protest movement.
Canada West Foundation senior economist Michael Holden wants us to believe his think-tank is the only one "dedicated to being the objective, non-partisan voice for issues of vital concern to Western Canadians." This is laughable.
For the record:
- The Canada West Foundation is where the Reform Party got started. - The Canada West Foundation is backed by Western Canada's biggest business tycoons. - The Canada West Foundation is pro-market, anti-union, anti-environmental and anti-social justice.
If it's the voice for Western Canadians, it's a small group of Western Canadians. The West's one percenters perhaps?
Is Stephen Harper's goal for Canada the United States of today?
That would mean a nation in which somewhere between a half and a third of its citizens have fallen into poverty or are hovering just above, in low income. This according to latest data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, 400 Americans are worth more than $1 billion.
And the divide will likely worsen, as Congress and Republican-controlled state legislatures continue slashing programs and benefits, firing workers, and further weakening health, safety and environmental protections to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, if that is even possible.
Last week I received a spooky, racist letter, meant, I think, for the Reform wing of the Harper Conservatives.
The letter advises me to be fearful because what has happened in some European cities will happen to us in Canada unless we make radical changes in our immigration policies.
In these unnamed cities, "Islamic extremists" have taken over entire neighbourhoods, intimidated moderate Muslims, pushed out non-Muslims and created "microstates that have rejected their host countries' legal systems and instead govern themselves by Islamic Sharia law."
These "no-go" zones are too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter, the letter informs me.
Rupert Murdoch's phone-hacking problems have been all over the news in recent days, but it wasn't too long ago his media properties were providing a supportive environment for Big Tobacco that went largely unreported.
Murdoch's connection to Philip Morris Co. was revealed through secret industry documents made public as a result of the landmark 1998 U.S. tobacco industry settlement.
The 1981 publication of a Japanese study suggesting that non-smoking wives of smoking husbands were more likely than wives of non-smokers to get lung cancer shocked the industry. Big Tobacco realized that second-hand smoke would be the greatest threat it had encountered, more potentially damaging than earlier studies linking smoking with lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
If most of us still get our information about elections from the corporate media -- including the CBC -- then the way the media frame the campaign could determine the election's outcome.
Will Harper finally get his long-sought majority, so he can shift from incremental change to the blitzkrieg approach perfected by the New Zealand Labour government in the 1980s?
Or will he be relegated to yet another minority, in which case he continues to move his agenda forward step by step?
Canadians went into election mode faced with two competing narratives for them to consider. In the one presented by the opposition parties, the Harper government is ethically challenged and can't be trusted.
Trust the Vancouver Sun to whitewash corporate shenanigans.
Case in point, the annual meeting of the Bank of Montreal in Vancouver on March 22.
The bank has become a major target of public hostility in Wisconsin, where last December it bought the Marshall and Ilsley Bank for $4.1 billion.
While BMO shareholders listened to CEO Bill Downe present his rosy forecasts for profits from this acquisition, public and private sector workers and their supporters protested in front of the M&I branch in Madison, Wisconsin, ground zero in the corporate attack on public sector unions.
It turns out that the bank and its top executives led the list of contributors to Republican Governor Scott Walker's campaign fund in 2010.
A curious full-page ad is making the rounds of Postmedia newspapers of late. Appearing in the Calgary Herald on February 10, Montreal Gazette and National Post on February 16 and Vancouver Sun on March 3, the ad is a plea for "encouraging charitable giving while reducing the deficit."
It is a letter addressed to the prime minister and his minister of finance Jim Flaherty, as well as the other party leaders and finance critics.
Signatories include the presidents of the universities of Toronto, British Columbia, Manitoba, Western Ontario and Dalhousie. They are joined by representatives from health care, and arts organizations, United Way, foundations and gift planners.