Showing posts from June, 2007

Wages not keeping up with productivity in Canada

The entire study is available through the link listed at the bottom. The data are not surprising. The labor movement is declining in strength and global competition puts downward pressure on wages in developed countries with higher wages. This is exactly how global capital wants it and why stock markets are still doing well for now.

Press Release
Canadian workers’ paycheques in 30-year holding pattern : Study
June 28, 2007 | National Office | Topic(s): Economy & economic indicators, Employment & labour | Publication Type: Press Release

OTTAWA – Canadians are working harder and smarter, contributing to a growing economy, but their paycheques have been stagnant for the past 30 years, says a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Rising Profit Shares, Falling Wage Shares finds that Canada’s economy grew steadily and workers’ productivity improved by 51 per cent in the past 30 years, but workers’ average real wages have been stuck in a holding pattern all th…

Mel Watkins on Foreign Investment in Canada

Mel Watkins was a key member of the Waffle group as well as author of the Watkins report. This article strikes me as quite weak, accurate enough on many points but completely idealistic and out of touch. The present global capitalism is hardly laissez faire. The world is replete with agricultural subsidies and and intellectual property rights that are meant to prevent competition and ensure profits. The hegemon's (US) economy is best described as crony capitalism in which success depends as much on connections to the elite as free trade and entrepreneurial skills.
There is tremendous regulation most of it in the interests of larger corporations.
When Mel Watkins talks of the real economy being one where efficient resource development benefits local areas-he must mean ideal! Of course resource development does usually in some ways benefit local areas but as in the Tar Sands it will also cause negative effects for others such as aboriginal people or any who depend upon water resour…

BC govt. ignoring court ruling?

For those who don't know, HEU is the Hospital Employees Union-part of CUPE the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Victoria is short for the British Columbia provincial govt. locate in Victoria BC. It sounds as if the BC govt. is going ahead with plans that depend upon a bill that has been declared unconstitutional.

News Release
Victoria gambles by ignoring high court and pushing ahead with plan to lay off Okanagan health workers
HEU demands public disclosure of any commitments given to foreign banks about the future of Bill 29
June 27, 2007

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The provincial government today issued a list of qualified bidders for hospital projects in the Okanagan that could include firing hundreds of health care workers using legislation ruled unconstitutional by the country’s highest court earlier this month.

The Hospital Employees’ Union says that the province is exposing taxpayers to future liability if it pushes ahead with plans to turn over hospital cleaning and maintenance to…

First Union of foreign farm workers in Canada

There are no details given but I am a bit surprised that the 43 who said they were misled by the union and did not want to join were simply ignored it seems. I guess if you sign on that is it. I wonder if the 43 were encouraged by their employer to sign the statement about being misled etc. Something must have prompted them.

Manitoba decision certifies migrant farm workers union
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | 5:46 PM CT
CBC News
A group of migrant farm workers in Portage la Prairie, Man., has become unionized following a Manitoba Labour Board decision released Tuesday.

The certification means that dozens of workers at Mayfair Farms, a fruit and vegetable farm, are the first unionized group of foreign farm workers in Canada.

The United Food and Commercial Workers applied for certification at Mayfair Farms in September 2006.

The union said it had signed up more than 65 per cent of the 59 workers, which under Manitoba law entitles the group to automatic union certification.

The compa…

What did the IMF say?

I read the speech as well and found nothing about inter-provincial trade barriers. This gives new meaning to the phrase "reading between the lines".

What Did the IMF Say?
Posted by Erin Weir under federalism, TILMA, financial markets.
June 22nd, 2007
Comments: 1

Under the headline “IMF Admonishes Canada,” the Financial Post reported on Wednesday:
The IMF added its voice yesterday to the growing chorus of observers urging Canada to undertake a 21st-century overhaul of its financial system, saying it should create a single securities regulator, open its banking system to foreign competition and mergers and tear down interprovincial trade barriers.
. . .
Rodrigo de Rato’s three suggestions to improve Canada’s financial systems: 1.Create a single securities regulator 2.Open the banking system to more foreign competition 3. Tear down interprovincial trade barriers
I cannot find any mention of “interprovincial trade barriers” in the published text of Rodrigo de Rato’s speech, nor does the…

Manufacturing and Construction Jobs in Canada

Seems to me that the growth in service industry jobs might help erode job quality. Even though construction wages may be lower than manufacturing Macjobs a probably less than half the wages per hour of construction jobs. Weir is right that construction jobs tend to be temporary and move from area to area but nowadays manufacturing jobs may b e temporary too!

Manufacturing and Construction
Posted by Erin Weir under labour market, free trade.
June 26th, 2007
Comments: 1

Recent commentaries from CIBC and Export Development Canada argue that the manufacturing crisis is not eroding job quality. Both note that a surge in construction employment, added to the relatively few new jobs in non-renewable resource extraction, nearly equals the number of manufacturing jobs lost in recent years.
As emphasized on the front page of yesterday’s Financial Post, this argument contradicts what the Canadian Labour Congress has been saying. It also contradicts a previous CIBC study that linked an overall decline…

Relaxed gun rules for foreign police.

This is another example of deep integration through harmonising our rules with those of the US. It is done on the quiet. It is interesting that Bush appointee and former ambassador Paul Celucci is sought out for commentary. He was notorious for his obnoxious remarks as amabassador. Here is an example.

Sent to a meeting of Canadian businessmen (the Bush White House is always more comfortable in the company of businessmen), Celucci excoriated the Chretien government for its position on the US-Iraq war (let us please call it what it actually is), and, curiously, called on Chretien to "muzzle" the Canadian press.

There is no need to muzzle the Canadian press since most of the time it is sleeping anyway. Just let sleeping dogs lie while things are quietly changed.

Relaxed gun rules eyed for foreign police here
Jun 26, 2007 04:30 AM
OTTAWA–The federal government is quietly proposing to relax rules for foreign law enforcement officers who carry weapons into Canada, CTV News reported …

Waffle Manifesto

I managed to find the text of the Waffle Manifesto as it was brought before an NDP Federal Convention by the Waffle group. James Laxer was a prominent member of the group and Ed Broadbent signed the Manifesto among others. I worked in the group as well although I was always a bit sceptical of trying to use the NDP as a vehicle for promoting the policies of the Manifesto. The NDP now would no doubt never allow the Manifesto near any federal convention!

Manifesto for an Independent Socialist Canada
From Wikisource
Waffle Resolution 133

1. Our aim as democratic socialists is to build an independent socialist Canada. Our aim as supporters of the New Democratic Party is to make it a truly socialist party.

2. The achievement of socialism awaits the building of a mass base of socialists, in factories and offices, on farms and campuses. The development of socialist consciousness, on which can be built a socialist base, must be the first priority of the New Democratic Party.

3. The New Democratic Pa…

James Laxer: Toward a New Canadian Foreign Policy

Laxer was one of the key figures in the Waffle movement in the NDP years ago. The Waffle Manifesto was also quite nationalist but there was much more socialism than anything here in this article. Although Laxer's analysis and criticism of continentalism seems quite convincing his positive Canadian alternative seems quite undeveloped. Perhaps in his next article he will flesh it out more.

Afghanistan: Toward a new Canadian foreign policy

Nationalist conservatism has remained a significant sentiment in Canada, but as neo-conservatism grew, it lost its place in the Progressive Conservative Party. Today's Conservative Party of Canada is firmly locked within the logic of the Continentalist School of Canadian Foreign policy.

>by James Laxer
June 22, 2007

(Mission of Folly: Part ten — 1) For Canadians, the Afghanistan operation has been a mission of folly. Canada blindly followed the United States into a war that is not winnable, a war from which no positive results can be anticip…

Harper says consensus needed to extend Afghan mission.

I wonder what Harper is up to? Is it a face saving tactic or does he really think that he will gain support from the Liberals or BQ great enough to claim a consensus. It will be a strange consensus if some parties oppose any extension at all as the NDP might unless the role is solely aid for reconstruction.

'Consensus' needed to extend Afghan mission: PM
Last Updated: Friday, June 22, 2007 | 2:25 PM ET
CBC News
The Conservative government will not extend Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan beyond February 2009 without a consensus in Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.

"I will want to see some degree of consensus among Canadians on how we move forward on that," Harper told reporters Friday in Ottawa.

"I don't want to send people on a mission if the opposition is going to, at home, undercut the dangerous work they're doing in the field."

The 2009 deadline was set in May 2006, when the Conservatives announced a vote on a two-year e…

RCMP "tightens" the intelligence standard.

This is unadulterated rhetorical garbage. The tightening is simply applying the norms that were already in place but that were not followed in the Arar case because the RCMP thought that the rules about vetting and placing caveats on the use of data were not in play. At least that is what the RCMP claimed but CSIS claimed otherwise. How the RCMP can be assured that the FBI always follows the rules about caveats is anyone's guess. It is again just saying the right thing.


RCMP tightens intelligence standard

June 20, 2007

The RCMP is assuring Parliament that it has officially entered a post-Arar world.

Senators asked a top Mountie this week whether dubious intelligence from Canada could ever again be used by the United States to deport a suspect to a third country to face torture.

It was precisely this scenario, in 2002, that appears to have led to the Maher Arar affair and its fallout.

Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell testified that terrorism investigat…

Scheffer claims Canada fighting to preserve universal values in Afghanistan.

The entire article is at the Globe and Mail.
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, standing before the Vandoos's red-coated honour guard in Quebec City's historic Citadel, told the soldiers they were fighting to preserve universal values.
Scheffer does not say what the universal values are. In Afghanistan we are preserving the war lords, the religious police, the death penalty for converting from Islam to any other religion etc.etc. Perhaps one of the universal values is US global hegemony.

Deputy Commissioner of RCMP steps down.

I wonder if there is any salary reduction in his new position. The position itself is a bit strange for a person who is in effect being forced out of his position because of his lack of proper oversight. Perhaps it is just a position manufactured to enable a lateral transfer out of the hot spot.

RCMP deputy commissioner steps down amid controversy
Last Updated: Friday, June 22, 2007 | 9:19 PM ET
CBC News
A deputy commissioner at the RCMP has stepped down, one week after he was criticized in an investigation into the police force's pension fund scandal.

Paul Gauvin announced Friday that he is leaving his position, but not the RCMP. He will serve as the force's special adviser on major capital projects.

Gauvin, a former public servant who joined the RCMP as a civilian member in 1999, was singled out in a report released June 15 by federal investigator David Brown.

Brown was appointed by the Conservative government to investigate allegations that senior RCMP officers covered up proble…

Day and the RCMP scandals

Wow! If I were Day I would be a bit paranoid about the media after reading articles like this. I think maybe Day has caused our rainy weather out here too and the tornadoes that touched down near Winnipeg! Of course Day must bear some responsibility for the mess in the RCMP but it is successive governments not just the Tories or Day who have not cleaned things up. Maybe I have low expectations of Day! Day did after all refuse to tag along with the US when it came to agreeing that Arar should be on the US no fly list. He even said that the secret evidence he saw did not change his mind clearly implying that there was nothing of significance that the US had on Arar. Surely Day deserves some credit for his stand on Arar.
Having said on this it certainly would be a better idea to have a full inquiry into the RCMP than to follow the Day policy.

POLITICS AND POLICE - comment - Day the one inescapable constant in RCMP mess
Day the one inescapable constant in RCMP mess
Jun 21, 2007…

Charkaoui meets CSIS dept. of dirty tricks.

Here we go again. This is the same pattern as happened with Maher Arar. Documents are leaked to the news media that show someone is a terrorist. These are classified documents. This technique seems to be a common underhand method for CSIS to justify itself. There is no way of verifying the truth of the documents. In the case of Arar the inquiry did show that the documents leaked to the press in his case involved confessions obtained through torture in Syria among other things. Although it is a criminal offence to reveal classified documents in this way no one has ever been found guilty of doing so in the Arar case and no doubt the same will be true in this case. The RCMP burned barns. The CSIS burns people's reputations.

Charkaoui denies talking about terrorist plot
Moroccan-born Montrealer demands federal inquiry into his security certificate
Last Updated: Friday, June 22, 2007 | 2:14 PM ET
CBC News
A Moroccan-born Montreal man accused of being a terrorist denies new reports allegin…

Harper: Govt. can't comply with Kyoto law.

Lets see. Harper will not ignore the law but then he won't comply with the law either. So he might as well have ignored it. Liberals are not very good horsetraders. They traded passing the Conservative budget for passing a Liberal law that means nothing it seems.

Government can't comply with Kyoto law: PM
Last Updated: Friday, June 22, 2007 | 4:15 PM ET
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he will not ignore a law passed Friday that requires the government to meet Kyoto's emission-reduction targets — but warned that he has no constitutional authority to implement it.

The bill — which gives the government 60 days to table a detailed plan outlining how Canada will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions — was introduced by Liberal backbencher MP Pablo Rodriguez and passed in the House of Commons in February, despite Conservative opposition.

The Liberal-dominated Senate passed the bill on Friday.

"I'm not saying I'm going to ignore it at all," the prime minist…

James Laxer comments on the no-fly list

This is an excellent analysis of some of the shortcomings of the no-fly list. He could have noted that some suspected of immediate plots and being monitored are not on the list because agencies do not want them to be alerted to that fact.

No Fly List, Other Spook Lists, and the Court of Star Chamber

The federal government’s No Fly list came into effect this morning. Ottawa’s list includes the name, date of birth, and gender of persons who supposedly could pose a threat to aviation safety, if they were to board a flight.

The No Fly list is being provided to all airlines that fly within Canada or in and out of Canada. The list is administered by Transport Canada. It has been compiled secretly, no one will say by whom, and no one will tell us how many names are on the list.

According to a Globe and Mail story, the Canadian No Fly list is expected to contain fewer than one thousand names. The Globe provides no source for this.

The United States has a similar No Fly list and one of the reaso…

Afghanistan: The Dept. for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice

A little less than a year ago this progressive step towards democracy was taken in Afghanistan to lure the fundamentalists into supporting the Karzai government.
Of course this did not lead the western occupiers to cut off aid or indeed do anything but grumble a bit and carry on with building the new free and democratic Afghanistan. Of course these departments are also found in other countries such as Saudi Arabia another shining example of democracy, freedom and human rights.

The Return of Afghanistan's Vice Squad?
Thursday, Jul. 20, 2006 By RACHEL MORARJEE/KABUL Under the Taliban, officials from the Department for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue struck fear into women's hearts, beating those who let a glimpse of wrist or ankle peek out from beneath their burqas. The hated religious police were disbanded when the hard-line Islamic regime fell in 2001. But President Hamid Karzai is planning to resurrect them, much to the alarm of human rights groups, parliamentari…

Abdul Rahman and the rule of law in Afghanistan

A longer entry on Rahman is at Wikipedia. Although a limited religious freedom is granted by the Afghan constitution in this case the courts applied a type of Sharia law that demands the death penalty for apostasy. That this type of law is obviously at loggerheads with anything one might consider as falling under the rubric Canadian values one wonders why we are defending such a law. This is the sort of law that the Taliban could applaud. Officials who blather on about democracy and the rule of law of course ignore these matters. Recognising them might cause cognitive dissonance.

Abdul Rahman (Persian: عبدالرحمن) (born 1965) is an Afghan citizen who was arrested in February 2006 and threatened with the death penalty for Apostasy from Islam when he converted to Christianity. [2] On March 26, 2006, under heavy pressure from foreign governments, the court returned his case to prosecutors, citing "investigative gaps."[3] He was released from prison to his family on the night of …

Dewmonstrations Against Suspension of Female Legislator

Parliament's rules prohibit legislators from criticising one another! What sort of idiotic rule is that! If Canada's legislators were suspended each time they criticised another legislator then parliament would be empty!

New protest against suspension of Afghan female MP
May 30, 2007

KABUL -- About 300 people marched through the Afghan capital Kabul Wednesday in the latest in a series of countrywide demonstrations against parliament's removal this month of an outspoken woman legislator.

Men and women, a handful of them hidden beneath blue burqas, shouted slogans in support of Malalai Joya and praised her criticism of fellow MPs who played a role in the 1992-96 civil war that left 80,000 dead in Kabul alone.

Marchers chanted "Down with fundamentalists, down with criminals who are in parliament" as they marched past offices of the United Nations and government ministries.

"She is the only person who is fighting against the warlords - these people who had killed …

NATO asks Canada to extend Afghan mission

Canada is in Afghanistan defending basic values such as the rule of law. Of course the rule of law in Afghanistan is Sharia law and among its provisions are that if you convert from being a Muslim to Christianity you are to be sentenced to death. This happened a while ago as this article illustrates.Fortunately the person sentenced was able to escape out of Afghanistan and this avoided an embarassing spectacle.
Recently the democratic legislature suspended a woman legislator for comparing the legislature to a stable and complaining about the number of warlords accused of human rights violation who were members of that body. See the following article. I have reprinted the article in the next post.
So we are defending a government whose idea of freedom of religion is to condemn converts from Islam to other religions to death. Whose idea of freedom is to suspend a member for crticising the legislature.
It the West's intervention in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq that is f…

Generous U I systems raise productivity

But capitalists are not interested in increased productivity if it does not mean more profitability. A weak labor force that is unable to bargain for better wages or better UI is probably more important than any small increase in productivity as far as profitability is concerned. This is from this site.

Generous Unemployment Insurance Systems Raise Productivity
Posted by Andrew Jackson under Employment Insurance, labour market.
June 20th, 2007

The annual OECD Employment Outlook - the product of the Directorate for Employment. Labour and Social Affairs (DELSA) can usually be relied upon to provide a well-reasoned counter point to the extreme neo liberalism of the Economics Directorate (ECO) — and the 2007 issue is no exception.)
For a summary and details on how to access the report (full document not available on line ) see here.
Chapter 2 of this year’s report looks at the impact of labour market policies on productivity. One of the key findings is that “Reforms that reduce the generosity o…

Tories urged to define Afghanistan commitment

Why ask the Tories for more rhetorical garbage. The main point is to force them to withdraw as soon as possible. There is more and more nauseating patriotic stuff. Just as our TV programs often imitate the Americans so does our support the troops apparatus with ribbons etc., although we seem to delight in covering funerals whereas the US discourages this on the national scene it would seem --although I do not watch US TV much. The idea that our entire intervention was against international law and that we through NATO are just furthering the neo-conservative US agenda seems to escape most Canadians. Of course it is forgotten that even the present Afghan govt. has a department of Virtue and VIce. It is also forgotten that not long ago a Muslim converted to Christianity was sentenced to death and only escaped his demise by being allowed refuge in Italy. It is also forgotten that the allied invasion finished off the work of the worst warlords associated with the Northern Alliance. Well w…