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in his own words

Cancun might be a flop, but our environment plans can flourish

The UN climate change negotiations wind to a close today in Cancun, but the hot air has long since gone out the room. This time around, nobody really expected a meaningful new climate treaty to be signed. And yet the urgent task of dealing with climate change remains.


Why NUPGE is at odds with the Canadian Labour Congress

As you may know, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is currently in a dispute with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) over the fundamental issue of raiding (when one union tries to take members away from another union).

Raiding is destructive to solidarity, doesn't advance the interests of workers and wastes precious resources that should be used to service members and organize non-union workers. Unfortunately, some CLC affiliated unions continue to raid other CLC affiliates. NUPGE has never subscribed to the position that some other CLC affiliates have taken: "if you are raided, then you should just raid back."


OCAP marks its first 20 years

Twenty years ago this month, the founding conference of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) took place. In the two decades that have followed, OCAP has organized and mobilized communities under attack in the context of an advancing agenda of neoliberalism. The present situation is dominated by a world-wide crisis of capitalism and, as a result, an intensified drive to impose austerity on working class populations and the poor in particular. We are in the early stages of this assault but it seems likely that it will dominate the period that lies ahead. On this basis, it makes sense to assess the work of OCAP from the standpoint of building effective resistance to the neoliberal agenda.


Afghanistan and Canada: The 'disconnect' on both sides of the wire

An American Chinook helicopter crewman looks out over the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2008, where the heaviest fighting occurred at that time. NATO forces have little presence in areas between major bases. Photo: Graham Lavery

"Disconnect" is the term that keeps popping into my mind when I think about Afghanistan and the events unfolding here.

We all talk about this term. We can apply it to almost everything at times, from the relationship with our food, or lack thereof, to the goods we buy and where they come from, our political system and our involvement in it, and the consequences of our lifestyle on the planet as a whole to name but a few.

The term is also incredibly descriptive of the happenings here in Afghanistan, unfortunately.


Wikileaks and the decline of the American empire

The Wikileaks disclosure this week of confidential cables from United States embassies has been debated chiefly in terms either of the damage to Washington's reputation or of the questions it raises about national security and freedom of the press.

The headlines aside, most of the information so far revealed from the 250,000 documents is hardly earth-shattering, even if it often runs starkly counter to the official narrative of the U.S. as the benevolent global policeman, trying to maintain order amid an often unruly rabble of underlings.


The free trade fracas at Seoul G20

By most accounts, the Seoul meeting of the Group of 20 major economies failed to meet the objective of "rebalancing" the global economy. No major agreement was reached on any core issues, beyond agreeing to put things off until 2011 while the IMF is put to work on some "indicative guidelines" for the next debate.

According to the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, "It is unclear whether G-20 members will agree on such guidelines, let alone enforce them rigorously."


Meditations at the ringed fence around G20 Toronto

When I search for an image to describe the core of my spiritual practice, the one that presses up through the other narratives of my life is this one: June 26, 2010, carrying my six-year-old son away from a burning police car in front of a bank tower on Bay Street in downtown Toronto. Three young protesters, using black bloc tactics, jumped on the roof of the car as my son and I turned away and walked towards the empty street behind us to make our way home.


To me, the 'too Asian?' controversy is unwarranted

I must admit that I learned about the criticism of the "Too Asian?" article in Maclean's before I actually read it. I received emails asking me to write letters of protest to universities that were warning of an "Asian invasion," help with community outreach, and was later invited to two "Youth Coalition Against Maclean's ‘Too Asian'" meeting in Toronto and Waterloo. The Chinese Canadian National Council also condemned the article for fostering an "us versus them" mentality.


Berlin's graffiti-art underbelly

This is no ordinary romp through Berlin. A transplanted Californian called Summer Banks, a stand-up comic by night and city tour guide by day, leads curious and slightly adventuresome tourists on a search for the finer examples of graffiti art and alternative living in the squats of the trendy and, in some ways, still-divided German capital.

Summer's stand-up routine is called "Comedy Gone Wild" and she's making them laugh every third Saturday at the Comedy Club Kookaburra. After a five-minute introduction there is little doubt that her tour will also be pretty wild. Her show's brochure says the comedy will be "uncensored." Ditto her tour commentary.


Understanding the Tory immigration strategy

The right-wing minority government of Stephen Harper has just introduced Bill C-49.

The "Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act " that, among other things, allows the minister of public safety to declare any group of migrants coming in to Canada, a 'smuggling incident.'


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