Scrooge or the mad hatter? You decide. Montage by Stig/

Over the holidays we will continue to have new videos, podcasts, blogs and discussions on our live forum babble, but our articles and book reviews will return in the New Year. We hope you enjoy this review of 2011’s most memorable news, opinion and feature stories out of the almost 400 original pieces published in the news & features section of rabble alone this year. It was a profoundly eventful year.

And we’d like to hear from you over the break — what were your favourite stories, videos, podcasts or babble threads on in 2011? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

All the best of the season, and a peaceful and productive 2012 to all our readers.


At, we were already planning ahead for the election.

Ten reasons to oppose the Harper candidate in your riding kicked off 2011 with this piece by Kathleen O’Hara, naming in detail the attacks Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party were making on the social fabric of Canada as a minority government, with the aim of giving a taste of what could happen if they were handed a majority.

The Arab Spring takes flower…

Egypt: Days of Anger in the Age of Terror 

Protests start in Tunisia and move to Egypt and elsewhere in the region, inspiring the world and causing us all to hold our breaths. Sarah Ghabrial writes about the extraordinary moment in Egypt and support within Canada.


Groups petition for limited spots in Missing Women Commission 

Wall Oppal, The head of the inquiry into missing and murdered women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, heard petitions from the families, aboriginal leaders, and women’s rights groups for representation at the commission. Representation at the inquiry was a struggle for these groups throughout 2011, ending with disappointment and anger.

Bev Oda and Kairos: What is ‘not’ being achieved now

John Lewis, The international human rights co-ordinator of Kairos, writes about their struggles to continue their work after the now-infamous pen stroke by the Conservative minister for International Cooperation, Bev Oda, which cancelled their federal funding.


Will Canada be trapped inside Fortress North America? 

Steve Staples writes about the security perimeter talks between the Harper government and the Obama administration, in theory aimed at easing border trade but which will also leave Canada sacrificing its ability to have an independent security policy — and trapped inside a U.S.-dominated continental fortress. It was signed at the end of 2011.

Harper’s 16 to 29 billion reasons for sending fighter jets to Libya 

In taking part in the NATO attack on Libya, the prime minister is on his way to justifying the cost of his purchase of the F-35 fighter jets, and the media already helps with justification propaganda, says Yves Engler.


Sun News to shine on Conservatives 

Donald Gutstein follows the people, money, power, and connection trail of Canada’s new right-wing television channel dedicated to selling their ideology to the public, which launched in April.

Happy birthday,!

rabble turns 10! Our story: launching during the Quebec City FTAA protests 

For much of the year, Noreen Mae Ritsema has been writing stories about on the occasion our 10th anniversary (we were founded on April 18, 2001), and highlighting 10 important moments of rabble’s history by interviewing current and former activists and journalists who have been involved.

The 2011 federal election campaign begins…

Harper plays the phony percentages of first-past-the-post 

The federal election campaign is in full swing, and Radha Jhappan reminds readers of the unfairness of our electoral system. In 2008, Conservatives got twice as many votes as the NDP — 5,204,468 to 2,516,935 — but almost four times as many seats. They did not ‘win’ the last two elections: they just lost them less badly.


The federal election takes place…

Quebec is to be thanked for propelling the NDP forward

The federal election results are in and Stephen Harper has his majority, the Ignatieff Liberals are shredded and Jack Layton’s NDP get their finest-ever result, especially in Quebec. Gary Engler offers his thoughts.

Harper’s majority: What’s left for us

Murray Dobbin considers the future: A Conservative majority will usher in wrenching change in Canada and we will have to witness the worst Stephen Harper has to offer. Progressives need to decide how they want to proceed in response.

Canada’s real electoral map: A surge for the left

Jesse McLaren writes an optimistic piece that puts Harper’s depressing win into a nicer looking frame for the left. There has been a shift in consciousness. Looking at the NDP and the combined Tory/Liberal vote, a picture emerges of an eroding but concentrated corporate vote, and a surging NDP vote.

Reinventing democracy, reclaiming the commons: A progressive dialogue on the future of Canada

Murray Dobbin launches this new series on the Canadian left, a look at where it stands after the federal election, and what the future could hold for the advancement of progressive ideals. It ran weekly until mid-December 2011 and expressed a broad range of ideas and views. To see all the stories in the series, click here


Prescription opiate abuse now a public health crisis in Ontario

Ann Silversides writes a four-part series on prescription drug abuse: “An inquest into the deaths of two friends in Brockville places a magnifying glass on the downward spiral of those trapped by addiction to prescription drugs and neglected by authorities.”

Women’s Worlds 2011 interview: Mary Simon

In celebration of Women’s World in Ottawa, runs a series of interviews with speakers. Noreen Mae Ritsema interviews Mary Simon, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, who talks about her personal journey to her current leadership position as well as challenges that women face in Inuit communities.


Activists try to break the Israeli blockade around Gaza.

The Tahrir, Canada’s boat to Gaza: Two arrested, other activists remain on board to avoid arrest

Cathryn Atkinson interviews Canadian activist Dylan Penner, who describes what has happened to The Tahrir, its crew, and international activists since it made a dash to leave Greece for Palestine early Monday. Later in the year the boat is intercepted by Israeli authorities as it tries again to reach Gaza and the crew imprisoned for a week

Why indigenous and racialized struggles will always be appendixed by the left

Zainab Amadahy on the struggle of many to be heard in progressive politics. Leftist philosophies are like a one-size-fits-all dress that only a minority feels comfortable in. Such frameworks are useful but they are not our historic starting place and this matters.


Progressive Canada loses an inspiring leader.

Jack Layton’s letter to Canadians

Jack Layton moving request to his fellow citizens, made days before his death from cancer on Aug. 22: ‘My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.’ Read Jack’s last letter to Canadians.

Stephen Lewis’s eulogy for Jack Layton

Stephen Lewis’s moving eulogy, given on Aug. 27 at Jack Layton’s funeral, has the former Canadian diplomat saluting his close friend and comrade.


What’s next for the NDP?

Deputy leader of the federal NDP and Vancouver East MP Libby Davies reflects on the challenges ahead for the NDP after the death of Jack Layton.

Thinking outside the ballot box: Stop Harper

People power creates fundamental change, says Brigette DePape, the ex-page who took her protest of the prime minister’s autocratic tendencies to the floor of the Canadian Senate. This story is part of a series for the Council of Canadians, reprinted in


The Occupy movement takes hold around the world…

New York minutes: Observations and aims in Occupy Wall Street

In New York City, journalist Aaron Leonard writes about the Occupy movement for Made in Manhattan: In a way both calculated and accidental, this movement literally settled on the ‘ground zero’ of where the U.S. finds itself in the world, at the intersection of empire and capital.

… And spreads to Canada and beyond.

A progressive dialogue: Occupy the future — A new generation reaches for the emergency brake

As part of the Progressive Dialogue series, Dave Oswald Mitchell writes: “Everywhere you look you’ll find capitalism, and everywhere you look you’ll find the problems caused by it — and the seeds of its successor.”


The international Occupy movement inspires broad discussion — and immediately comes under attack.

Intergenerational lessons for the Occupy movement

Emma Pullman and Judy Rebick bring together their combined experience as activists: “We have much to learn from each other. We don’t have to choose old or new ways of thinking and doing: we can choose to create a fusion of both. We can forge an alloy stronger than its separate parts.”

Occupy Vancouver: Support for us, for every Occupy site, is so important

Jasmine R. Rezaee of Occupy Vancouver talks about the pressures the movement has faced. “Inequalities and injustices are growing. Occupation does not seek permission to exist in a space. It is about physically taking it over and forcing public discussion on pressing social concerns.”

Also under attack, as are many Canadian organizations and programs that do not fit the neoliberal framework of the Harper government, is the CBC.

Creating the CBC in order to build a nation

Marc Raboy writes that given it is under attack, the hoopla surrounding the 75th birthday of the CBC provides a good occasion to recall how and why Canada got a national public broadcaster.

The history of the New Politics Initiative: Movement and party, then and now

Economist Jim Stanford curated a series on the 10th anniversary of the New Politics Initiative proposal at a special NDP convention: “We argued the success of progressive political parties ultimately depends on whether we are winning that day-to-day battle of ideas in society, and connecting with those fighting for social change.”


The scandal of Attawapiskat finally goes national, thanks to the persistence of the region’s MP, Charlie Angus, and others.

Attawapiskat: Firing back at the racist rants and ignorant responses with facts

Blogger Âpihtawikosisân deconstructed the numbers and claims being made about the “waste” of federal money at this beleaguered First Nations community in northern Ontario: “With the numbers behind the catastrophe of Attawapiskat, we can educate Canadians and even if we can’t reach the most vocal bigots, we can reach the average person. This is essential now.”

The Occupy movement looks to future option.

Occupying housing from the Pope Squat to Occupy Toronto

Mick Sweetman looks at housing activism in Toronto 10 years apart. With over 87,000 people on housing waiting lists in Toronto in 2011, Occupy activists kicked out of public parks are starting to squat empty buildings. It recalls the OCAP squat action of 2002.

Cathryn Atkinson is’s editor.

Cathryn Atkinson

Cathryn Atkinson is the former News and Features Editor for Her career spans more than 25 years in Canada and Britain, where she lived from 1988 to 2003. Cathryn has won five awards...