Friday, April 30, 2010

May Day 2010

Hard lesson in the Gulf of Mexico

Green Party of Canada

The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a terrible lesson in why society needs to move away from petroleum fuels. As a nation, Canada must continue to withstand pressure for oil tankers in British Columbian waters and keep relatively pristine areas such as Georges Bank and the Arctic free of oil and gas development.

"In our desperation to continue our inefficient use of fossil fuels, we have begun drilling in more remote areas, and the costs far outweigh the benefits to our economy," said Green Leader Elizabeth May.

The devastation from the spreading oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico will be widespread. Occurring during spawning and nesting season, countless fish and bird species will be decimated, as well as amphibians, marine mammals, sharks and turtles.

"What is happening to the Gulf Coast as a result of this oil spill is heartbreaking," said May. "The ecological and human costs are staggering-all due to our society's love affair with fossil fuels. It is a wake up call that we must start doing things differently-in terms of where we drill, the safety regulations around rigs, and most importantly, weaning ourselves off this energy source."

"It was Winston Churchill who coined the famous phrase 'The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences'" said Green Natural Resources Critic Cathy MacLellan. "The scene that is playing out in the Gulf of Mexico is a consequence of our need to use the oil that is in the most remote places on the earth. Whether it is kilometres beneath the sea, or in the far North, oil companies with full backing of governments are allowed to minimize the dangers to workers and the planet's natural resources."

"Enbridge declares that 'oil transforms the economy'. This is certainly true and the transformation of the Louisiana economy due to this oil invasion in their fishing waters will be devastating. We do not want this repeated in our Arctic waters," continued MacLellan.

Gulf oil spill offers lessons for Canada's Arctic: WWF

By Randy Boswell
Canwest News Service

The intensifying oil-spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico is a clear warning to other countries — particularly Canada, with its eyes on potential Arctic petroleum riches — to approach offshore oil and gas projects with extreme caution, the World Wildlife Fund contends.

The global environmental group — which earlier this week issued a report calling for an international Arctic treaty to protect the region from over-exploitation — sounded the alarm again on Thursday as the U.S. government declared the Gulf spill a national disaster and American coastal states braced for major threats to wildlife, fisheries and tourism.

"British Petroleum's inability to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill highlights the urgent need to improve oil and gas emergency management in all coastal waters — and particularly in the pristine Arctic," WWF-Canada officials said in a statement.

"In Canada, the government approves Arctic oil and gas leases without undertaking any prior environmental assessments, without taking formal risks assessments and without requirements for an emergency management plan to be in place — all required in the U.S."

The catastrophic impacts of a major Arctic oil spill were made clear in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground off the coast of Alaska. More than 40 million litres of crude oil drained from the disabled ship, fouling Alaska's Prince William Sound and creating one of the world's worst environmental disasters.

But interest in exploiting the circumpolar region's vast petroleum reserves — believed to amount to about one-quarter of the planet's untapped resource — has risen dramatically in recent years because melting sea ice promises safer and easier access to undersea deposits.

The governments of the five Arctic Ocean coastal countries — Canada, the U.S., Norway, Russia and Denmark — are all expecting to take advantage of offshore oil and gas opportunities in unlocked Arctic waters, but have also pledged not to let economic imperatives trump ecological interests in the region.

U.S. President Barack Obama recently announced his administration was lifting a moratorium on new offshore oil-drilling projects, though only cautious steps were taken to permit future extraction off Alaska's shore.

Both the U.S. and Canada have identified the Beaufort Sea north of Yukon and Alaska as a prime petroleum target, despite a jurisdictional dispute over the maritime boundary between the two countries in that region.

While both countries have auctioned oil-exploration leases in specified sections of the Beaufort, kick-starting projects in the remote region is well known to be an expensive and environmentally risky proposition.

WWF-Canada's Arctic program director, Craig Stewart, said in Thursday's statement that Canada should be closely watching the unfolding Gulf of Mexico catastrophe and learning lessons about the huge risks of offshore oil development in the polar environment.

"The Beaufort is the vanguard of oil and gas development in our Arctic. The BP disaster in the Gulf shows why we (need) better environmental safeguards and emergency management measures if drilling is to proceed in the offshore," Stewart stated.

"If it could happen to BP and TransOcean in the Gulf, it could happen to any operation, anywhere."

The WWF statement made note of the fact that BP recently acquired what it called the "largest offshore lease in Canadian history" — a $1.2-billion payout for the right to develop projects in areas that include "ecologically sensitive" zones of the Beaufort.

"In the Gulf of Mexico, BP's Deepwater Horizon rig wasn't located in such a sensitive area as U.S. regulations would not permit it," the WWF statement said. "Response crews have had some time, at least to try to contain the spill. In the Beaufort, BP wouldn't have the same luxury."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Real Freedom: Marxism, Anarchism, Liberation

By Sebastian Lamb
An editor of New Socialist, the publication of the New Socialist Group  in Canada.

"So this is freedom — they must be joking." - The Housemartins

We live in a free society. Or at least that's what we're constantly told.

But it doesn't take much effort to see what's wrong with this claim. How freeare people who live without adequate food and shelter? How free are we in theplaces where we work for pay? Lesbians and gays can marry, but heterosexismstill scars the lives of queer people. Equal rights in law don't translate into real equality for women, people of colour, immigrants, indigenous people andpeople with disabilities.

All this points to an important truth: even in the wealthiest capitalistcountries, such as the Canadian state, we are far from free.

It's not that there's no freedom. In some ways, capitalist societies are freerthan the other class-divided societies they replaced in much of the world. The French Revolution of the 1790s and other revolutions eroded or dismantled some forms of domination that were an obstacle to capitalist development, such as the
rights of nobles and monarchs that restricted the powers of rich "commoners."

These revolutions opened the door to radical people's struggles for freedom. Butsuch struggles were repressed so that capitalists could reap the benefits ofchange without risking the loss of their own property and power.

But while it dismantled some forms of domination and oppression, capitalismreproduced and intensified others. Capitalist colonialism gave rise to a newform of oppression, racism. So it is highly misleading to paint a picture offreedom as the essence of capitalism.


Clearly there are elements of freedom in Canadian society today. It would befoolish to deny that gains have been made: Laws prohibiting abortion andsame-gender sex have been struck down. New laws have been established, recognizing union rights and protecting people from discrimination. These gainshad to be fought for, often at great human cost, against state and corporate power.

Sadly, these advances don't come close to making this a free society. Theworkplaces where society's goods and services are produced are managerial dictatorships. Decisions that affect our lives are made by capitalists who are never elected, governments that aren't accountable between elections, and top state officials for whom no one ever casts a ballot. Immigrants excluded from citizenship have even less influence over who governs us.

Sexism, racism, heterosexism and other forms of oppression are still part of thefabric of society. The Canadian state is a colonial settler-state that denies indigenous peoples and the Québecois the right to determine their own destinies without interference from the dominant Canadian nation. The young demonstrators who chanted "The Communist World is not communist, the Free World is not free!" in the late 1960s were right. Almost all of the Stalinist dictatorships that passed themselves off as "Communist" have collapsed. However, the end of the Cold War did not bring about freedom — just ask the people of occupied Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan.

A Radical View

Freedom struggles are an important part of humanity's history, going back thousands of years. They have included revolts by peasants and slaves, working-class upsurges, rebellions against colonialism, women's mobilizations, anti-racist struggles, queer protests and more. We see aspirations for real freedom in these struggles.

But what would a free society look like? Socialists of different stripes have long argued that capitalism cannot deliver on its promise of freedom, and that it will take a radical transformation of society to realize that possibility.

Unfortunately, most socialists have seen socialism as something that can be achieved by a committed minority (such as a party or army) on behalf of the majority. For such supporters of socialism from above, freedom is at best a secondary concern and at worst merely rhetoric.

A minority of socialists have always disagreed with this. For supporters of socialism from below, a free society — a society without class divisions, state power or oppression — cannot be handed down by a minority, no matter how sincere. It will be achieved as a result of the self-organized struggles of the exploited and oppressed themselves or not at all.

Today, anarchist supporters of socialism from below are more well-known for their commitment to a free society than Marxist socialists. For example, anarcho-communist Alexander Berkman wrote in 1929 that "we can live in a society where there is no compulsion of any kind… freedom from being forced or coerced,
a chance to live the life that suits you best." 

Yet certain Marxist traditions have long articulated a strong revolutionary vision of a free society. The following lines appeared in 1847 in a publication of the political group to which Karl Marx then belonged: "We are not among those communists who are out to destroy personal liberty, who wish to turn the world
into one huge barrack or into a gigantic workhouse. There certainly are some communists who, with an easy conscience, refuse to countenance personal liberty and would like to shuffle it out of the world because they consider that it is a hindrance to complete harmony. But we have no desire to exchange freedom for
equality. We are convinced… that in no social order will personal freedom be so assured as in a society based upon communal ownership."

Not all supporters of socialism from below have been as clear as this. But it is in this tradition that we find a truly radical view of freedom.

Real Freedom

Freedom is not just the absence of constraints. Freedom lies in our ability to choose among options and to create new options for ourselves and for others.

This includes the freedom to change and for individuals to become what they wish to become (for example, to live our gender however we wish). It's not a state of mind, but requires real material conditions. It cannot be achieved through the actions of individuals, but only in community.

To say that freedom is inherently social doesn't mean that individual liberty is unimportant. It doesn't mean that individuals need to subordinate themselves to other individuals or to social institutions acting in the name of the common good. There is a big difference between individualism (acting and thinking in one's own narrow self-interest), and individual liberty.

The flowering of true individuality requires a society in which everyone is free. There must be free time — time in which people are free to do whatever they choose, so long as this doesn't involve harming others. This requires a reduction in the time people spend producing the services and goods that society needs.

For this to happen, the world of work would have to be transformed. Workplaces would have to be democratized, so that workers manage themselves. Production would be for need, not for profit. The goals and products of labour would be determined through democratic planning, guided by ecological concerns. The overall organization of workplaces and the content of jobs would need to be reorganized in order to undermine divisions among workers such as those between manual and mental labour, and between unpleasant and more enjoyable tasks.

All across society, authoritarian hierarchies would have to be replaced by democratic structures for making and implementing decisions. As the anarchist socialist Murray Bookchin argued, "A free society will either be democratic, or it will not be achieved at all."

An inconsistent commitment to socialist democracy in theory and practice has weakened the struggle for a free society. Such inconsistency can be seen in the functioning of many Marxist and anarchist groups. It is also evident in the writings of influential Marxist socialists Frederick Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky and major anarchist socialists such as Emma Goldman.

An Impossibility?

Today, the tradition of socialist democracy is largely unknown. In the 20th century, it suffered greatly at the hands of fascism and Stalinism, and was reduced to a marginal current. Today, many people in search of genuinely radical politics of freedom identify with anarchism. After all, anarchism is not stained by association with Stalinism, social democracy or bureaucratic union leaders.

Yet what is striking about much of contemporary anarchism is that it is not dedicated to the struggle for a free, democratic, socialist society.

Take, for example, writer Derrick Jensen. He argues that "civilization" (by which he means societies with cities) "is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization… Civilization is not redeemable… civilization turns the entire world into a labour camp, then a death camp… the endpoint of civilization is assembly-line mass murder." So much for the possibility of freedom.

As Bookchin argued against earlier anti-civilization anarchists, to denounce civilization as inherently oppressive of humanity in fact serves to veil the specific social relations that privilege exploiters over the exploited and hierarchs over their subordinates." It is not civilization but capitalism that has caused a global ecological crisis, thanks to its cancerous profit-driven expansion. Capitalism, not urban society, made the Nazi killing machine possible.

The politics of Canadian anarchist Richard Day are not reactionary like Jensen's, but he too rejects the struggle for a free society. His book Gramsci is Dead dismisses all politics of revolutionary social transformation (which he caricatures) and the possibility of a society without exploitation and oppression. In this, he openly follows two French thinkers: Michel Foucault, who saw revolutions as leading inevitably to new forms of domination and Jean Baudrillard, with whom Day agrees that "the masses" in the advanced capitalist countries have no "political potential."

Day reaches this conclusion without anything resembling a careful study of the actual history of the past century of social struggles. Since he sees a free society as impossible, he argues that the best that can be hoped for is small-scale moments of freedom in the here and now, from battles against oppression to the creation of "alternative economies" like worker-run small businesses.

It should come as no surprise that ideas like Day's are appealing to some people in societies like Canada. In this time and place, ecological crisis, exploitation and oppression are all too visible. However, the low level of
popular resistance and the weakness of the radical left make mass movements and revolutionary change seem impossible.

Another World Is Possible 

We should not resign ourselves to this politics of despair. In order to fight for real freedom one does not need to believe that it is likely to be achieved.

So long as we believe that it is not impossible, there is good reason to do whatever we can to make this possibility more likely.

Fortunately, there are still people who refuse to abandon the slogan "Another World is Possible!" made famous by the global justice movement before the events of September 11, 2001. There are still voices insisting that this possible world must be a society of real freedom, beyond capitalism and the forms of oppression intertwined with it.

Hope in the possibility of real freedom has been extinguished even among many of those who clearly see the horrors that capitalism has unleashed, and dread the greater horrors it promises to deliver in the future. The few who maintain a revolutionary vision of freedom differ among ourselves on many issues. But small in number as we are, we would be wise to get clear about what we agree on and what we can do together.

By all means, we should discuss and debate our disagreements, but let's keep these in perspective. The most fundamental political division among radicals today is not between "anarchists" and "Marxists." People who accept these labels disagree among themselves more than they agree. The real division is between anti-capitalists who believe that liberation is possible and worth fighting for and those who, influenced by the despair and political confusion of our times, are resigned to the present reality of unfreedom.

Arctic oil drilling threatens Norway government

Gwladys Foche
OSLO, Tue Apr 13, 2010
Credit: Reuters

A classic battle pitting the oil industry against environmentalists and fishermen in Norway's Arctic seas is set to intensify on Thursday when the most thorough environmental study of the project to date is released.

Extracting oil from the chilly waters off the Lofoten and Vesteraalen islands is so divisive it could wreck the ruling Labour Party's coalition in this Nordic state that is the world's fifth largest oil and third largest gas exporter but also sees itself as a leader in environmental policies.

"If I were to point to one conflict that could spell the end of the present government, it would be this issue," said Frank Aarebrot, professor of comparative politics at the University of Bergen.

The Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, has kept the door open for drilling and has in the past been a supporter of the oil industry. But Labour's coalition partners, the Socialist Left and the Center party, are against.

The report commissioned by the environment ministry will assess conditions in the seas off the Arctic islands and assess the potential risks posed by oil and gas activities.

The area off Lofoten could hold some 20 percent of all remaining undiscovered reserves on the Norwegian continental shelf, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), at a time when petroleum production is on the decline.

Oil production in Norway peaked in 2001.

"In the long run Norway cannot afford not to investigate what is out there," Oystein Michelsen, Statoil's head of exploration and production in Norway, said.

"It's important for the country, there is a lot of value there. We should benefit from it," he told Reuters.

Not everyone is welcoming a potential oil boom in the region, however.

The seas off the islands are home to the spawning grounds of the world's largest cod stock and fishermen and environmentalists fear oil activities could endanger them.

"If any marine areas in Europe should be protected against the risk of oil exploration, these are the first candidates," said Rasmus Hansson, Secretary General of the World Wildlife Fund in Norway.

"They are the most productive and most valuable marine areas in Europe, no doubt about it," he told Reuters.

Thursday's report will be followed Friday with NPD's own report evaluating how much oil and gas could potentially be found in the areas, the result of seismic surveys it conducted.

The government is expected to make a decision on the issue by the end of 2010.

Aarebrot anticipated that Labour would be willing to break up the governing coalition on the issue as it could continue governing in a minority government.

In addition, he said, the politicians ruling northern Norway, a Labour stronghold, are in favor of oil drilling.

"It will be very difficult for Labour to deny the people in the North to have the same possibilities as the people in the West (where the oil industry in based) because they have many representatives in that region," he said.

About the Socialist Left Party

The red and the green is the basis for the Socialist Left Party of Norway’s (with the Norwegian abbreviation SV) policy.

The red symbolises that we want a society without class differences and social injustice. The green symbolises our work for an ecological sustainable society for the generations to come. All SV’s work in the Parliament, in local councils and in the party organisation, aim at a more just society with better environment.

“Change the world, it needs it”, was the appeal from Bertold Brecht. SV works for a fundamental change of the society. The differences between the richest and the poorest in the world are enormous. We live in a world where the 500 biggest companies own more than the 50 poorest countries. We live in a world where over a thousand million people have to survive on less than a dollar per day. Norway is one of the richest countries in the world. Still we have poverty. Still we experience that schools and other public services are declining. Furthermore, the global environmental challenges are huge. We know that the greenhouse effect can lead to big, negative changes in the world’s climate and environment. If we are to prevent this, we have to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, especially in the richest part of the world. SV is working for solid and just solutions on these challenges.

 Different people. Equal opportunities.
 Read about our main objectives in this leaflet made for the 2009 election
Election Manifesto of the Socialist Left Party of Norway (SV), (English).pdf 452,05 kB

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Environmental protesters accuse RBS of 'deplorable' lending policies

By Alistair Dawber
The Independent
April 29, 2010

Protesters who accuse Royal Bank of Scotland of financing tar sands oil projects in Canada, which have been described as having a "devastating effect on the environment," said yesterday that the bank had failed to address their concerns.

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger said that Sir Philip Hampton, RBS's chairman, had not answered her questions during yesterday's AGM in Edinburgh, describing the bank's decision to lend to companies involved in tar sands oil exploration, as "deplorable". She asked Sir Philip to justify the RBS's decision to lend to companies that violate the human rights of the people living close to exploration projects in Canada. 

Green groups claim that production of tar sands oil damages local habitats, and quickens the pace of climate change. The World Development Movement has claimed that RBS, which is 84 per cent owned by the UK taxpayer, has lent £1bn to companies involved in tar sands oil exploration projects.

RBS said that Sir Philip had addressed the questions, and that it did not provide specific project financing for tar sands oil exploration. He is due to meet with a number of environmental campaigners later today.

Climate Change – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis

Human Impact Report: Climate Change – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis (VNR)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Climate Scientist Sues National Post

The Guardian

Andrew Weaver with the IPCC's 2007 report on which he was a lead author. Photograph: Ray Smith

One of the world's leading climate scientists has launched a libel lawsuit against a Canadian newspaper for publishing articles that he says "poison" the debate on global warming.

In a case with potentially huge consequences for online publishers, lawyers acting for Andrew Weaver, a climate modeller at the University of Victoria, Canada, have demanded the National Post removes the articles not only from its own websites, but also from the numerous blogs and sites where they were reposted.

Weaver says the articles, published at the height of several recent controversies over the reliability of climate science in recent months, contain "grossly irresponsible falsehoods". He said he filed the suit after the newspaper refused to retract the articles.

Weaver said: "If I sit back and do nothing to clear my name, these libels will stay on the internet forever. They'll poison the factual record, misleading people who are looking for reliable scientific information about global warming."

The four articles, published from December to February, claimed that Weaver cherrypicked data to support his climate research, and that he tried to blame the "evil fossil fuel" industry for break-ins at his office in 2008 to divert attention from reported mistakes in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on which he was lead author.

The lawsuit also highlights several claims in the articles that attempt to question or undermine the scientific consensus on climate change, including that annual global mean temperatures have stopped increasing in the last decade and that climate models are "falling apart".

Such statements, the lawsuit says, would lead readers to conclude that Weaver "is so strongly motivated by a corrupt interest in receiving government funding that he willfully conceals scientific climate data which refutes global warming in order to keep alarming the public so that it welcomes... funding for climate scientists such as himself."

Weaver said: "I asked the National Post to do the right thing, to retract a number of recent articles that attributed to me statements I never made, accused me of things I never did, and attacked me for views I never held. To my absolute astonishment, the newspaper refused."

A spokesman for the National Post said: "Beyond saying that we intend to defend the article, we do not comment on such suits."

Weaver is suing for libel three writers at the newspaper, as well as the newspaper as a whole and several, as-yet unknown, posters on the paper's online comment section. Such comments, typical on articles about global warming, included claims that Weaver was "as big a hypocrite as he is a fraudster" and a rat leaving a sinking "ship of lies, red-herrings and hysteria". One poster suggested he should be thrown under a bus.

McConchie Law Corporation, acting for Weaver, said that the National Post articles had "gone viral on the internet" and were reproduced on dozens of other websites, including prominent climate-sceptic sites Climate Audit and Watts Up With That.

The lawsuit says the newspaper "expressly authorised republication" of the articles by including online links that invited readers to email the story to others, and share it through tools such as Facebook.

McConchie Law said it was seeking an "unprecedented" court order that would require the newspaper to help Weaver remove the articles from across the internet. Media law experts said that such demands were becoming increasingly common in complaints to publishers, but this could be the first time they were tested in court.

Weaver's libel action follows an official complaint made last month by a leading UK scientist to the Press Complaints Commission over a story published in the Sunday Times. Simon Lewis, an expert on tropical forests at the University of Leeds, claimed the story published in January was misleading because it gave the impression that the IPCC made a false claim in its 2007 report that reduced rainfall could wipe out up to 40% of the Amazon rainforest. He said he told the newspaper that the IPCC's statement was "poorly written and bizarrely referenced, but basically correct".

The Ecology of Socialism

John Bellamy Foster Interviewed by Solidair/Solidaire

Solidair/Solidaire, the weekly journal of the Workers Party of Belgium (PVDA-PTB), interviewed John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review, 26 April 2010

Read the interview here.

Eriel Deranger at May Day Event

Eriel Deranger is a Dene woman from Alberta who has been active in challenging the tars sand development. She is involved with the Rainforest Action Network. She will be one of the guest presenters at the May Day event in Regina.

Eriel Deranger was raised in a family of activists and spent much of her youth attending rallies, protests and social justice conferences. Much of her activity was rooted in the struggles facing Indigenous peoples. Specifically, she has worked on Indigenous land claims in Canada. This eventually led to an interest and involvement in broader global issues.

 “While working on these issues I found myself becoming more interested in the fact that the systems that we are currently living in are fraught with inequities and that change was needed….I found that change would only come from international pressure that asserted our Indigenous sovereignty.”

Read more here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

May Day in Regina: Activists and socialists discuss rebuilding the left

As a follow up to the successful January 30th meeting in Regina, the Committee for Rebuilding the Left is sponsoring an educational and discussion meeting in celebration of May Day.

Speakers are Greg Albo from the Socialist Project, Eriel Deranger, a tar sands and aboriginal activist, and Peter Garden, the administrator for the Actupinsask Independent Media website and owner of the Turning the Tide bookstore in Saskatoon.

For further information, click here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Massive “Climate Action Now” Banner unfurled

DELTA, BC - and the Council of Canadians (Delta/Richmond chapter) unfurled a massive banner today that reads "CLIMATE ACTION NOW" on land slated for freeway construction.

Historic homes are being demolished, and ancient indigenous sites are under threat from the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) project here on the Fraser River bank. The est. $2 billion SFPR is part of the controversial Gateway program, which would greatly increase greenhouse gas emissions in BC.

The action took place at River Road and Centre Street in Delta. It coincides with the multi-faith Pilgrimage to Burns Bog, and is visible from the pilgrimage route across the Alex Fraser Bridge. Pilgrims and activists aim to raise awareness about Burns Bog, a large, carbon-sequestering peat bog also under threat from the SFPR freeway.

“Our neighbours are being forced out of their homes, and ecosystems are being bulldozed,” says Delta resident Ernie Baatz. “Schools and programs are being cut across the province to pay for this climate changing freeway. We have to stand up to this appalling waste.”

Baatz and fellow activists also planted trees at the site today, to highlight the area's potential as a riverfront park, not a riverfront freeway. Although preparatory work has begun on some sections of the SFPR, no build contract is in place. A request for proposals was issued by the Ministry of Transportation in April 2009.

Today's action is part of a week of events dubbed “Earth Action Week” by and the Council of Canadians (Delta/Richmond chapter). For the full list of events see

Photographs are available at
Follow for updates
Interviews and media inquiries: call 604-588-4203 or email
For more information about the Pilgrimage to Burns Bog see

Visioning Otherwise: Imagining a World Without Capitalism

This presentation and discussion address some of the lessons and limitations of historic and contemporary (Canadian and international) visions of a world without capitalism. The panel reflects on different perspectives and the diversity of our vision of a 'new politics' – from Canadian working class history to indigenous feminism. Moderated by Abbie Bakan.
Part 1

Ian MacKay: Canadian cultural historian at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Ian's research interests lie in Canadian cultural history, Canadian left history, and in the economic and social history of the Atlantic Region of Canada.

Ian is the author of Rebels, Reds, Radicals: Rethinking Canada's Left History, which introduces a new multi-volume history of the Canadian left. The first volume of this series is recently released, Reasoning Otherwise: Leftists and the People's Enlightenment in Canada, 1890-1920.

See Part 2 here.

350 Movement Video from Bolivia's Climate Summit

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Capitalism is not sustainable

A book of writings on the environmental crisis by John Bellamy Foster outlines a Marxist approach, while making sense of the latest science, writes Erik Wallenberg, Socialist Worker.

AS 2009 came to an end, the world's most powerful governments demonstrated their determination to ignore the issue of climate change with their actions at the United Nations summit in Copenhagen--even as we daily see further confirmation of impending climate chaos.

There is a growing body of literature addressing ways to confront this crisis--from the decidedly tepid promotion of individual acts (think Al Gore and calculating your individual carbon footprint) to more radical and even revolutionary critiques.

John Bellamy Foster, editor of the socialist journal Monthly Review, released a book last year that compiles much of his writings on the environmental crisis from the past decade. He includes essays outlining a Marxist approach to the environment, addressing the twin crises of the economy, and all the while illuminating the best climate science we have.

Foster argues that "the split between natural-physical science and social science...has been one of the main alienated intellectual products of bourgeois society." By contrast, he says:

The ultimate strength of Marxist analysis has never resided chiefly in its economic crisis theory, nor even in its analysis of class struggle as such, but lies much deeper in its materialist conception of history, both human and natural--understood, as this only truly can be, as a dialectical and endlessly contingent process.

Foster's book does just this, combining the best in scientific thought with the necessary understanding of the social system we live under and its connection to our natural history.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Maude Barlow speaks with Democracy Now!

From Melting Glaciers to Structural Adjustment: Maude Barlow on the Need for Water Justice
Democracy Now!

In the Andean highlands of South America, climate change isn’t just an abstract threat. In Bolivia, glaciers are melting at what experts say is an alarming rate as a result of rising global temperatures. We speak with Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, about the melting glaciers, climate change and water.

Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians –Canada’s largest public advocacy organization, and a founder of the Blue Planet Project.

Watch her video interview with Democracy Now! here.

Enriched Hypocrisy

Before criticizing Iran's nuke program, Canada should look within
by Matthew Davidson
The Dominion -

"The best old school journalism understood that its purpose was to challenge power with unassailable facts; the best activist journalism knows that constructive resistance is fueled by media we can actually use. The Dominion represents the vital fusion of these two traditions: it deserves massive support." --Avi Lewis

PETERBOROUGH—Eight of the world’s most powerful leaders meeting in Huntsville, Ontario, this June will discuss Iran’s nuclear power industry. Concerned over Tehran’s enrichment of uranium, Prime Minister Stephen Harper intends to use Canada’s leadership of the Group of Eight (G8) to push sanctions against the Middle Eastern country. Anti-nuclear activists, citing the prominence and recent growth of Canada's own nuclear industry, are pointing out contradictions in Harper's intentions at the G8.

Reacting to Tehran’s February 9 announcement that Iran had successfully enriched uranium at its Natanz nuclear facility south of Tehran, Harper announced his intentions to push the G8 to adopt harsher policies against Iran. “Canada will continue to work with our allies to find strong and viable solutions, including sanctions, to hold Iran to account,” he said in a February press release.

“The sting of a co-ordinated approach is always felt more strongly,” Harper said, adding that he aims to reach an agreement amongst the G8 countries prior to the G20 meetings taking place in the days following the Group of Eight's sit-down.
Read the rest of this article here.


The world's dirtiest and most expensive oil comes from Alberta, Canada: tar sands oil.

Morales will go to the UN with peoples of the world to deliver decisions on climate crisis CMPCC

By Adalid Cabrera Lemuz
CMPCC (google translation)
Tiquipaya BOLIVIA Apr 23 (ABI)

The Bolivian leader Evo Morales will chair the delegation of villages to deliver at the headquarters of the United Nations Organization (UN) in New York, the resolutions passed this week by the Conference I of Global Climate Change and the Rights of the Mother Earth (CMPCC) held in Cochabamba by over 40,000 delegates from indigenous nations and social movements have come from 147 countries on five continents, he confirmed during a speech on Friday.

The Head of State said he will meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Mon, whose advisers have already expressed interest in knowing in detail the initiatives CMPCC, held in the Bolivian population of 20 to 22 April.

"Once the date is fixed for the meeting, I decided to accompany delegates from social movements and peoples of Africa, Europe, Oceania, America and Asia to raise awareness of the document adopted at Tiquipaya" he said.

At that meeting passed several resolutions in defense of Mother Earth and life in the beginning of a series of battles in the world to raise awareness of the need to intervene in the matter to preserve the life and nature.

In a rally held in Cotumayo, a town in the municipality of Tiquipaya, 412 km from La Paz, Morales said that among those resolutions is the creation of the International Court of Justice Climate which will function to prosecute and punish those nations, companies, and individuals and legal persons who commit crimes against nature.

"If the UN is not viable the creation of this tribunal, which is an order of the world's peoples, we present a case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague against those nations who refuse to defend nature and Mother Earth and even reluctant to sign agreements like the Kyoto Protocol, "he noted.

He said people now have the newly created Global People Movement for Mother Earth, which facilitates all actions to ensure that the world respects nature and the environment.

The President stressed that there have been two important steps to convene and bring together tens of thousands of people in Bolivia, representatives of governments, and international social organizations and others to discuss openly what humanity must do to avoid disaster and destruction the planet.

"What is now is not to keep the resolutions but to implement and push for governments to translate them into policies for the defense of Mother Earth," he said.

He added that, for example, Bolivia has submitted to the UN a draft resolution for water to be declared a universal right, so that everyone has access.

"Likewise we must encourage a global debate on the rights of Mother Earth because of it we depend for survival, why are more important the rights of nature that human rights themselves," he said.

He reported that the Bolivian government has decided to create a Ministry for the Rights of the Mother Earth.

The President said we need to develop new initiatives because the struggle between peoples must not be reduced to the Climate Change Summit to be held in Cancun, Mexico, in December.

"It must be a constant struggle to understand that the industrialized world must put aside their irrational industrialization programs that have put the world on the brink of disaster," he said.

The Bolivian president decided to preach the word and on Friday began a program of afforestation by planting 10,000 trees in the department of Cochabamba. Similar programs were initiated in the departments of Pando, La Paz and Oruro.

The program aims to plant 10 million trees over a period of one year until April 22, 2011, one for each inhabitant of Bolivia.

"We have a responsibility not only to save Bolivia, but the world because it is carrying out the task of defending the nature and the environment as a fundamental part in defense of life," he said.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cochabamba Mural

justicenecology’s posterous

Now we check in with the mural that has been created over the last 2 or 3 days in the middle of the convergence space here at the World People's Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. It is part street fair, part international conference, and part farmer's market.

The Colectiva Bacheta has organized to produce this piece

The ABC’s of Climate Negotiations

By Jason Negrón-Gonzales
Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project
Cochabamba, Bolivia

Here at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, I Just took in a panel on the ABC’s of Climate Negotiations featuring the negotiators present in Copenhagen representing Cuba and Bolivia, and an activist and policy expert from the Third World Network. They managed to lay things out clearly on what happened in Copenhagen, the US-led Copenhagen Accord, and their position on the negotiations now.

Some core points:

1. The key question (aside from decreasing emissions) in negotiations is how to divide up the atmospheric space left for emissions given that the US and other developed countries already used up most of the space that there was for greenhouse gas emissions. This then leads to the obvious follow-up question of whether or not the same countries that overused already should get the overwhelming share of what’s left. The obvious answer that most children would tell you is that no – that isn’t fair, or for that matter, just or equitable. Yet when a country like the US says it can’t or won’t cut emissions to the level it demands of others, that’s what happens.

2. Many countries in the Global South, and certainly the Bolivian government, believe that when developed countries like the US need to decrease their emissions that we should do it domestically, in US industries and the US economy, instead of creating carbon markets that let the US pollute away while paying someone else to decrease for them. This makes sense because history has shown that the projects that are supposed to “offset” emissions in the US or EU are often dubious, or might have happened anyway, or cause other problems for the people who live where they are happening (like with dams).

3. Regardless of the above points, the rich nations pushing the current arena of international negotiations are not seeking to get industrialized countries to decrease their own emissions by their fare share. Right now there are two competing options for a global framework to address climate change– a backroom deal the US is trying to move called the Copenhagen Accord, and the continuation of the international negotiations that have been happening according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process since the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997. You read that right. The US-backed “Copenhagen Accord” has no relationship to the ongoing global negotiations process. As Angelica Navarro, one of the UN climate negotiators from Bolivia told the story, “It (the Copenhagen Accord) was given to us and we were told we had an hour to decide if we would support it enough. How are we supposed to make a decision about the future of the earth in an hour?”

4. The Kyoto Protocol, adopted through the UNFCCC as the global plan to set targets and mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 1997 has lots of well documented problems: a carbon market has allowed developed countries to avoid making real reductions to their emissions, a “clean development mechanism” which has spurred all kinds of destructive projects in the Global South, and the use of offsets which lead to continued pollution in communities of color in industrialized countries while paying projects elsewhere to cut their real or planned emissions. However, on the positive side Kyoto has: shared legal limits on emissions that are (at least prospectively) based on science; the concept of “common but differentiated responsibilities” meaning that those who have polluted the most should have a different burden than those who haven’t; exceptions for Global South countries with the intent of not restricting their development; and an enforcement mechanism if targets aren’t met.

5. The Copenhagen Accord, on the other hand, has: voluntary limits set by each country, no process to reconcile or pressure countries that offer less regardless of responsibility, no enforcement, continued carbon markets with offsets, etc., and an overall target set not by what science says in necessary, but only representing the total of what all the countries offer up. A study done by the EU estimated that if the Copenhagen Accord was approved with the existing commitments by countries it would optimistically only decrease emissions by 2%, probably locking us into a 3.9 degree Celsius temperature increase globally (this comes from a recent MIT study) – which would be a serious disaster.

The conclusion of the presenters was what you might expect; the countries represented are interested in following through with the official UN track of negotiations to get a better, more effective agreement. It remains to be seen how opposition to the Copenhagen Accord will fit in the package of demands that are coming from Southern social movements, but it certainly looks like it will figure strongly in the inside strategy of negotiators.

Ms. Navarro spoke directly to a US participant in the audience near the end of the panel. “We don’t believe that everything is lost. We have hope. But we have hope in you compañera. We have hope in the civil society. We have hope that together with the civil society of the South and the North, governments can make changes …We also believe that you all have part of the solution and we want to hear from you. What can we do so that the United States makes serious commitments? Not only in front of it’s own country, but in front of the world, those of us who are suffering because of this irrational irresponsible development, not only by the US, but all the developed countries.”

I haven’t touched on some of the other key issues like climate debt and REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) yet but they are coming soon. Pa’lante Siempre.

Cross posted from Movement Generation

A powerful global movement for climate justice and the rights of Mother Earth

By Judy Rebick
Canadian Dimension blog

It’s Earth Day and I wish I was in Cochabamba, Bolivia. More than 15,000 people from 125 countries, including a significant delegation from Canada, is meeting there for the first world people’s conference on climate change. The mostly Indigenous government of Bolivia is now playing a leading role in making proposals to save the planet from the scourges of greed. President Evo Morales is bringing two major proposals, first a global referendum on the measures needed to resolve climate change and second an international climate court to hold climate criminals accountable before world public opinion. But if my experience means anything, it will be the dynamic of the conference that will have most impact . Two blogs give you some idea of this impact.The first one from Kimia Ghomeshi a young climate justice activist from the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. She says, “I am now about half way through the 3 day peoples conference and feel a great sense of empowerment and sadness all at once. I feel a deep sadness for our civilization that is so incapable of living in harmony with one another and with mother earth. .. But I also feel incredibly empowered because what I am seeing before me, here in Cochabamba, is a truly global resistance. A resistance to the world’s greatest polluters– polluters who refuse to accept their responsibility for causing this global catastrophe. And this movement is building, becoming more tactful, more united, more committed, with a common vision: Systems change, not climate change.”

Another one from award winning film maker Velcrow Ripper who is starting to shoot his new film, “Evolve Love, love in a time of climate crisis, at the Cochabamba conference. Velcrow concludes a wonderful description of the conference and Bolivia itself , “There is a sense of urgency here at the conference, but at the same time, I feel a great sense of excitement and possibility in the air. It is through the people of the world that real change and real action on climate change is going to happen, not through the nation states, and especially not from the rich nations. This gathering has, so far, been a tremendous start. My dream is that a movement of movements builds around the climate crisis, that a million — or better yet a billion — of small gestures can begin to open the hearts of a world that has fallen into separation, so that we can stop being outside of nature, and step inside. So we can come home.”

What is happening in Bolivia today began in Cochabamba when the climate justice movement met up with the Bolivian delegation and the basis for a new and powerful global movement for climate change was born. But without the extraordinary Bolivian process where a marginalized Indigenous majority took office in December 2005, it would not have been possible. When I was in Bolivia in 2008, I got some idea of the incredible power of the ideas and practices of Evo Morales and the movements he leads. The Indigenous idea that we are part of nature, not outside of it is a powerful idea for an environmental movement that 40 days after Earth Day started has become co-opted by a narrow imagination where the possible is limited by the reality of today’s corporate capitalism. In Bolivia, a different imagination is possible. When I asked Evo at the time, what message Bolivia had for the world, he answered, “The indigenous communities have historically lived in community, in collectivity, in harmony not only with each other as human beings but with mother earth and nature, and we have to recover that. If we think about life as equality and justice, if we think of humanity, the model of the West, industrialization and neo-liberalism is destroying the planet earth, which for me is the great Pachamama [Mother Earth]. The model that concentrates capital in the hands of the few, this neo-liberal model, this capitalist model, is destroying the planet earth. And it’s heading towards destroying humanity. And from Bolivia we can make a modest contribution to defend life, to save humanity. That’s our responsibility. “ Maybe not so modest.

Reclaiming Earth Day

With Climate Chaos on the Horizon, the Environmental Movement Needs Traction
by Brian Tokar

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day April 22, many seasoned environmentalists are left wondering how, in recent decades, so little has actually been accomplished.

As we celebrate, or contemplate Earth Day, we should remember the 'central element of what has made environmentalism such a compelling counter-hegemonic worldview ever since the 1970s: The promise that reorienting societies toward a renewed harmony with nature can help spur a revolutionary transformation of our world.'(Image: Gino Barzizza)While environmental awareness has seeped into mainstream U.S. society since the 1970s — the era when 20 million people hit the streets on Earth Day to demand action — the structures of power remain largely the same.

The mass mobilizations around the original Earth Day helped spur then-President Richard Nixon to sign a series of ambitious environmental laws that helped to clean contaminated waterways, saved the bald eagle from the ravages of pesticides and began to clear the air, which in the early 1960s was so polluted that people were passing out in cities across the country. Most environmental victories since then have benefited from those changes in the law, but more fundamental changes seem as distant as ever.

Read the full article here.

Happy Earth Day from Maude Barlow in Cochabamba

Council of Canadians

Bloody Oil

George Poitras, member of Mikisew Cree indigenous First Nation talks about the issues of pollution and cancers suffered by many of the First Nations people as a result of the Oil companies action extractive industries.

“My people are dying, and we believe British companies are responsible. My community, Fort Chipewyan in Alberta, Canada, is situated at the heart of the vast toxic moonscape that is the tar sands development. We live in a beautiful area, but unfortunately, we find ourselves upstream from the largest fossil fuel development on earth. UK oil companies like BP, and banks like RBS, are extracting the dirtiest form of oil from our traditional lands, and we fear it is killing us.” – George

BP has been prompted to disclose much information that has not been publicly available before. Tar sands has become a hot topic among the investment community and BP has been subject to a far higher level of investor scrutiny on the issue than ever before.

The shareholder resolution about BP’s involvement in tar sands production was discussed and put to the vote at the oil major’s AGM. Results presented by BP at the meeting show that almost 15% of voters either supported the resolution or abstained despite the board’s recommendation to reject it. This is a significant expression of concern about the company’s decision to invest in new tar sands projects.

15th of April BP holds their AGM

You and I Films

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In pictures: Thousands gather for the climate change summit in Bolivia

At least 15,000 people from worldwide indigenous movements and civil-society groups, as well as presidents, scientists, activists and observers from 90 governments, are expected to attend what is being called the "Woodstock" of climate change summits

View pictures at The Guardian here.

Photograph: Aizar Raldes/AFP/Getty Images

Great Lakes Still Under Seige from Toxic Pollution

New report shows Canadian companies in Great Lakes St. Lawrence River basin produce more cancer-causing air pollution than US counterparts

Canadian companies in the Great Lakes basin reported releasing almost three times more cancer-causing pollutants to the air (on a per facility basis) than companies in the United States, according to a report released today by CELA and Environmental Defence (under the PollutionWatch project) along with Great Lakes-area environmental groups from both sides of the border. A total of four million kilograms of known carcinogens were released to the basin airshed in 2007 by facilities in both countries.

The report relies on pollution data from Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) and the US Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). The report also notes details of overall emissions to air, water and land. Despite huge volumes of pollution, total figures are less than ten percent of the true emission picture since only large facilities are required to report. Timed to coincide with the re-negotiation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, this new report underscores the need for greatly renewed attention to toxic pollution in the Great Lakes ecosystem. Highlights of the groups' recommendations include the need for governments in Canada and the US to quantify and annually report pollution loadings, to develop and implement a binational strategy to eliminate and reduce toxic chemicals, to expand and strengthen both national pollution monitoring programs and the role of the International Joint Commission (IJC).

On-line: media release; full report

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Climate Justice and its Anti-Capitalist consequences

by Apocalypse Anonymous
InfoShop News

The whole political landscape of the climate 'debate' has changed immensely in the past year particularly in the wake of the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen. This article attempts to stake out some of the new terrain and present some of the ideas that are now appearing at the level of grassroots social movements for climate justice.

Capitalism is crisis

The governments of the world have been unable to act to avert climate disaster; this failure reveals the contradictions inherent in a system which is responsible for causing this crisis. Many people are now seeing the climate crisis as one of the symptoms of the general catastrophe we call capitalism. Climate change stands alongside the current political-economic crisis and the impending energy, food and water crises as problems caused and exacerbated by the capitalist system of social relations. Ruling elites are consequently seeking to legitimise a system which is the root cause of these socio-ecological crises; using “crisis management” as an opportunity for capitalism to re-assert itself, creating a new round of accumulation and enhanced social control.

The green capitalist project of 'ecological modernisation', through false solutions such as; carbon trading, agro-fuels, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage, will continue to concentrate political and economic power to the hands of the ruling class. These elites have a vested interest in maintaining economic growth and business as usual, despite ever increasing destruction of our planets ecosystems and widening inequality between rich and poor. Climate change is evidence of the limits faced by a system of infinite growth on a finite planet. However our political systems are institutionally unable to respond to the scale of this challenge due to their commitment to serving the neoliberal agenda. Solutions must come from people themselves through an emancipatory transformation of social relations, in order not just to save the world, but to create a better one.

Read the full article here.

Bolivia's People's Summit on Climate Change: Day One

Blog from Bolivia
The Democracy Centre


Imagine you live in a slow and sleepy village where the cow population rivals that of people and suddenly some ten thousand people from all parts of the planet descend upon it – bearing slogans. Welcome to Tiquipaya on the opening day of the People's Summit on Climate Change.

My personal day began by riding my bike to the conference site (the local university, Univalle) to make an 8 am appearance on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. You can see the interview here. If you watch it you will know why people always tell me that I have a face made for radio. The rest of the day is a blur of chatting with journalists, sitting in on workshops, and trying to get a handle on what is going on here.

Welcome to the opening day of our Blog coverage of the summit. The Democracy Team is on the task and here is the plan. I'll be covering the question, "Where's the Strategy?" Jessica Camille Aguirre will be following the ideas and conversations among indigenous groups and social movements at the summit. Elizabeth Cooper is tracking an issue vital to low-income people and nations: How does combating climate change compete with the desire for economic and social development?

Please pass this along to others interested in the Tiquipaya Summit, and keep reading.

Jim Shultz

Follow the Blog from Bolivia here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

People First Economics

Toxic debt, rising job losses, collapsing commodity prices and expanding poverty. How can we rein in these beasts unleashed by the free market economy?

People First Economics takes a long, hard look at the mess globalized capitalism is in, and shifts the focus back to where it belongs – putting the needs of people and the environment first.

Vanessa Baird and David Ransom have gathered a passionate group of writers, activists, leaders and thinkers to seize this opportunity to replace deep-rooted problems with well-founded solutions.

People First Economics buzzes inspiration and action. Evo Morales promotes his 10 step programme to save the world, life and humanity... Michel Albert advocates a classless alternative to capitalism... Naomi Klein encourages public revolt...

It’s about radical changes that are social, moral and ecological it provides the opportunity to rethink what really matters in life.

Purchase at