JANUARY 4, 2005 – Many readers will be familiar with the reputation of the Toronto Star, centre of Canadian liberalism. It portrays itself as pro-women, progressive, and pro-labour. But its parent – TorStar corporation – is currently engaged in a dispute which puts a lie to this entire reputation. Sixty members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP), Local 87-M, have been on strike since December 6 last year against their employer, Brabant Newspapers which since 2003 has been owned by TorStar. Many of the strikers are women working in the inserting department. According to a flyer distributed on…Comments closed
Writings prior to December 2007.
DECEMBER 7, 2004: TORONTO – In the first big labour mobilization since Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals took office, just over one year ago, almost 4,000 trade unionists marched to Queen’s Park November 27 under the slogan, “times up, keep your promises, Dalton.” While there have been pro-labour changes under the Liberals – including “a rollback of the 60-hour work week (implemented by the Tories) and a hike in the minimum wage (frozen by the Tories)”, there is frustration at the slow pace of rolling back other of the anti-labour measures introduced by Mike Harris. In addition, labour leaders in the health…Comments closed
AUGUST 4, 2003 – Here’s the thing. I did see the Rolling Stones — in the summer of 1975. This year I gave their July 30 “SARSstock” appearance In Toronto a miss. For those of us who attended their 1975 concert, it was already clear that the Stones, 29 years before SARSstock, were well past their “best before” date. They were, and are, a travelling corporation, not a travelling rock band. Not all the concerts of 1975 and 1976 were like that. There were great concerts, and there was a gang of us in Toronto who took them all in.…Comments closed
NOVEMBER 18, 2002 – The average union member working at the Cobourg Daily Star and Port Hope Evening Guide, earns $10.91 an hour. No wonder they have been walking the picket line since October 11, demanding nothing more than a living wage. Twenty years ago, non-union graphic arts employees were making $10 an hour in Ontario. It is scandalous that, 20 years of price increases later, people are expected to live on the same amount. According to the strikers’ union, the Communication Workers of America local 30248, “over the past three years employees” at the two papers “have lost 1.9…Comments closed
DECEMBER 8, 2001 – Fifty newspaper inserters making poverty line wages and fighting for their first union contract have been stymied at every turn by their employer, media giant CanWest Global. “In the lead up to Christmas, one of the most profitable times for newspapers, these women who make an average of $8 an hour, have literally been left out in the cold,” said Cec Makowski, the Ontario Region Vice-President for the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. The 50 women workers, many single moms and newcomers to Canada, have been forced out on strike against Hamilton Web, the…Comments closed
JUNE 30, 2001 – Prior to the raid on the anti-globalization conference in Indonesia, myself and three others (two from Australia and one from Thailand) were able to meet with and interview trade union activists in Jakarta. We first talked with a young organizer with the Greater Jakarta Labour Union. What are the conditions like for workers in Indonesia? Let me give you an example of conditions. Go to the garment factories or the shoe factories. The working day is supposed to be eight hours. But almost every day, if there’s work to be done, they’ll have to do two…Comments closed
JUNE 18, 2001 – June 11, the Asia-Pacific Peoples’ Solidarity Conference – an anti-globalization conference taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia –– was violently shut down by police and a pro-police right-wing militia.  I was one of the delegates and wrote this report. To understand Indonesia, you have to understand the depth of the economic crisis. Jakarta, where I was staying, is a city blasted raw by the market and by imperialism. Just a few years ago, held up as an example of “capitalist development”, Jakarta today is a city where you can see in the background, the bank towers…Comments closed
JANUARY 8, 2001 – Journalists seem to love Charlie’s Angels. Toronto’s Eye magazine calls the film “100 per cent boredom free.” Now magazine admits that the film is a little exploitative of women. But not to worry – it’s very fun exploitation. “More fun than any other movie this year.” Really? Force of circumstances took me to a screening of the film. There is no question – it really does exploit women. And fun? – only if you like unrealistic fight scenes, impossible exploits and can see past the layers and layers of stereotyping. Perhaps we should swallow hard and…Comments closed
AUGUST 7, 2000 – Saturday August 5, more than 300 people gathered in downtown Toronto at a memorial for well-known Toronto activist, Joe Flexer. Flexer, a long-time member of the Canadian Auto Workers, and a socialist for most of his adult life, died August 2 from heart failure. The gathering pulled together people from the 1960’s and 1970’s left, as well as unionists and activists from the current period. Speakers included Hassan Yussuf from the CAW, well known writer and activist Judy Rebick, Joe’s partner Mary McCarthy and his son Dani Flexer. Two workers from CAW Local 112 spoke about…Comments closed
Cold Mountain – Love story or reactionary utopia?
Published January 6, 2004 by pkellogg
JANUARY 6, 2004 – The $80-million Civil War era drama, Cold Mountain, is being praised as the movie of the season. But behind the lush production and excellent acting performances is a disturbing and profoundly reactionary message. The central characters are a white soldier in the Confederate Army (Inman, played by Jude Law) and his romantic fixation, a white preacher’s daughter named Ada (played by Nicole Kidman). Separated by war, each survives the terrible war years by focussing on their love for each other. Ada struggles to keep her farm going in Cold Mountain after the death of her father,…