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A call to action: Non-violent civil disobedience against the tar sands

Canadian actors and activists Tantoo Cardinal and Margot Kidder protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., in August. They were arrested shortly after.

A defining moment in Canadian history will take place in Ottawa this month.

On Sept. 26, hundreds of individuals from across the country will participate in an act of peaceful civil disobedience. The objective is to send a clear message to the Harper regime, calling on the government to withdraw its unquestioning support of the tar sands industry and to provide leadership by forging the transition to a clean, just and renewable energy that respects Indigenous rights and gives priority to the health of our communities and the environment. It could well turn out to be the largest demonstration of environmental civil disobedience in the history of this country's climate movement.

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Worker power in an age of uneven austerity

Any time commentators speak of a new 'age,' powerful assumptions quickly become entrenched in our thinking. An 'age of austerity' now encompasses many western economies as governments launch fierce campaigns against workers to lower public sector wages. At the same time, capital has taken a 'wait and see' attitude resulting in an unprecedented hoarding of surplus and thereby limiting investment and real job creation. As unions are put on the defensive by austerity measures, calls for broader working-class organizations from diverse groups on the left have become commonplace. Difficult questions remain around how to build such formations and what role organized labour can play, if any, in their development.

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Community victory for Alvaro: Celebrate but prepare for more fights

It is rare in these times that we can celebrate a victory such as Alvaro Orozco's return home to his Toronto community on June 1, after several weeks in immigration detention.

A vibrant community member, queer activist, and artist, Alvaro is no stranger to struggle. Fleeing his native Nicaragua at age 12 after receiving homophobic death threats, he eventually arrived in Canada in 2005. Any illusions he may have had that Canada was a place of safety were quickly dispelled by the denial of his refugee application. The grounds for the denial were unabashedly homophobic: Alvaro just did not look "gay" enough to justify his assertion that he feared for his life in Nicaragua.

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You can't cut your way to growth

The Harper government's June Budget is almost entirely a reprinted version of the budget they tabled two-and-a-half months ago in March. Outside of $2.2 billion for Quebec's sales tax harmonization and the elimination of federal support for political parties, there's nothing new in the budget -- and that's the problem.

While the budget includes a few positive measures, many of which were proposed by the NDP -- such as increases to GIS payments for seniors, reintroducing incentives for energy retrofits -- they are overshadowed by what's bad and what's not there.

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Budget 2011: Clement's axe not fairer tax

How ironic is it that Stephen Harper has assigned Tony Clement to identify opportunities for federal budget cutbacks? Yes, that would be the same Tony Clement whose riding received $50 million in G20 "legacy infrastructure funds," part of a spending spree that MP Pat Martin called "flagrant...hog-troughing of the highest order."

Are you ready for the upcoming press conferences where Tony lectures Canadians on the need for belt-tightening and "cutting the fat," while his axe chops through the muscle and bone of our public programs and services?

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Restoring democracy in Canada: Eight good ideas for the election and beyond

It's not every day that on Parliament Hill you'll hear four people making a genuine attempt to engage with Canadians rather than dubious pitches for our votes.

Tuesday's events were different, largely because the usual suspects had left the building for another electoral traipse, leaving behind a little space for other voices to be heard. The four that spoke up, on behalf of over 200 organizations representing tens of thousands of members across Canada, had one idea.

Democracy.

And they weren't talking about the limited notion of returning to the ballot box now and again. They were talking about the process by which empowered citizens engage in an ongoing dialogue about what's really best for our country.

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Leadnow.ca: Change to federal politics is going to come from outside Ottawa

The need for change in Ottawa is urgent. Our federal government is dividing us, damaging our democracy, and failing to address the major challenges that face our country.

Whether we're talking about the lack of action for our environment, the unequal economic recovery, or the erosion of democratic values, this government is either failing to take action on the issues that matter to a majority of Canadians, or it is acting against our values. And all of this is occurring as the need for profound change rises in the face of the interlocking crises that define this young century.

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Seeking the democratic socialist in Canadian political life

Your father's socialism?: Tommy Douglas, leader of the NDP in 1971.

Open Letter for a "NEW" Democratic Socialist Party

Sisters and Brothers,

In his Oct. 9th, 2010 column, titled "The NDP: Not your father's socialism," John Ivison of The National Post wrote about the NDP's "metamorphosis of an old 20th-century socialist party into a vibrant 21st-century social democratic party." What exactly a "21-st century social democratic party" looks like is hard to discern though a few clues were provided by Ivison in a lower paragraph in the story:

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Time to put the Waffle Manifesto back on the NDP's table

When I was a toddler I recall my parents discussing something called the Waffle. It caught my interest not just because I was raised in a politically charged environment but because it was my favourite breakfast food. 

Back then towering intellects of the left tired with the direction of the NDP took it upon themselves to write a manifesto. When I heard that the Waffle was a manifesto I quickly lost interest, but for those who cared it was an attempt to write out the aims of the NDP as a socialist party.

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Five ways to get involved in Toronto's election

Municipal elections in Toronto are upon us next week. Municipal decisions shape our everyday lives, from the quality of our public services to the health of our environment, yet voting turnout hovers at around 40 per cent. Your involvement during the final few days of the election is critical to shaping the outcome.

Here are five strategic ways you can take action.

Make up your mind

You get to vote for four positions this October: Toronto school board trustee, Catholic school board trustee, mayor, and city councillor. The city's election website lists all candidates by ward. Check it out by clicking here

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