Western’s Progressive Political News Source Since 2004
Vol. 6 Issue 4 January 2010
The Equality Issue Inside:
Message from WND, pg 2 Vancouver 2010’s Inequality, pg 3
Dear Santa: I wanted a “Hire” Education! Peter Ferguson
Human Rights Threatened in Darfur, pg 4 Volunteer with STAND, pg 5
humanities (albeit not to philosophy?’ the length or eloquence It might seem counterinUniversity education has Social Solidarity Needed for of Slouka’s essay). I’m tuitive that I’m arguing first always been, to some also not the first scientist Equality Rights, pg 6 extent, about getting a job. to express support for the that a university educaHowever, to say that this intangibles that the human- tion should be more than Proroguing Parliament, pg 8 was/is its sole purpose is ities offer. After all, it was about how much money it can earn the recipient, or to devalue the important Albert Einstein who had a how much it returns as an multiple roles universities the sign in his office that Parliament Prorogued, pg 9 play in our society. read “Not everything that investment to society, and then turn around to sugcounts can be counted, Peter Ferguson to Represent I recently read Mark Slou- and not everything that can gest we show how much London West NDP, pg 10 ka’s essay “Dehumanized: be counted counts.” we value the humanities when math and science by how much money we rule the school” (SeptemThe devaluation of the devote to their study. But EnviroWestern Update, pg 11 ber 2009 issue of Harper’s humanities is reflected in what Slouka argues (and I Magazine) and felt it dehow these disciplines are agree) is that the value we serves a response from a treated by universities and place on the humanities can Event Listing, pg 12 scientist. Slouka, an Ameri- governments. The hube judged by how much we can with a PhD in English, manities are increasingly are willing to pay, without argues that the Humanities being starved for cash; asking how much money (and by ‘humanities’ he and dismissed for not being as we get back as a return on I include the liberal arts and important to building the investment. social sciences) are becom- economy, increasing the ing increasingly devalued GDP, creating high-paying However, because university education is so expenin North American society. jobs, etc. By paying too It is one thing for someone much homage to financial sive to both governments like Slouka who works in concerns, an essential role and students, the utilitarthe humanities to defend of higher education is be- ian viewpoint (“Education its value, quite another for ing dismissed for utilitarian must translate into dollars!”) a scientist (me) to express reasons: ‘What kind of job allows for a slow erosion his support for the arts and can you get with a BA in See Hire, pg 6 by
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A Message from the Western New Democrats By Robin Wing Greetings LEFT enthusiasts! I hope everyone had a restful holiday and is ready to engage in another year of political activism and discourse. Last semester saw our club participate in many successful events. In September we volunteered with ReForest London and planted trees downtown. Then in October, we hosted a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail where our club collected canned goods for the food bank. In December, we hosted an art show and poetry reading in the UCC on campus under the theme of Women’s Triumphs and Tragedies. Through donations, we raised $250 for the Women’s Community House in London. Finally, we celebrated the end of our semester with a social at the Grad Club. These are just a few examples of the type of events that WND likes to participate in and organize-events that are both fun and help our community. To start off the new year we will be hosting the NDP House Leader Libby Davies on January 30th. Libby will speak to us about the intersection between poverty, drugs and prostitution, and how the safety and working conditions of sex workers needs to be improved. Please
visit our website www.westernnewdemocrats. ca for more information as time and location becomes available. If you are interested in joining the club, visit our website for information on our meeting times and locations. New members are always welcome! All the best for a successful 2010 from WND. In Solidarity, Robin Wing Co-Chair, Western New Democrats
Above right: “Incomplete” by Anonymous. Above left: “See No Evil” by Martin Blazejowski. See more great pieces in full-colour from the Women’s Triumphs and Tragedies art show at www.westernnewdemocrats.ca
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Vancouver 2010: Inequality and Stolen Land By autumn l’ouverture
victims of the frequent crimes committed in the downtown east side. For example, serial murderer Robert Pickton, targeted aboriginal women because they are disenfranchised, and their absence would not alarm the authorities.
highway expansion – will take place on stolen native land that has never been surrendered. The British Royal Proclamation of 1763 acknowledges aboriginal land rights that could only be resigned to the British through treaty. In British Columbia, most land has not been negotiated through treaty and remains unceded by its original inhabitants, including the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish, and Tseil-Waututh Nations.
As February approaches, the world’s attention will be drawn to the corporate sponsored spectacle of nationalism, formerly known as the Olympic Games. The patriotism that the Olympics strategically arouses is With the proper social services in used not to promote common interplace, such as access to safe work, ests between nations, but to conceal medical care, and education, many class-based inequality. The main vicnative deaths could be prevented. tims of such inequality are aboriginal Surely, a portion of the over $6 billion women. Despite the rhetoric of peace, Rather than taking aboriginal issues tab (1) of the 2010 Olympic games equality, and harmony surroundseriously, all levels of government ing the Olympics, involved with the games serve the Olympics primarily to further have once again exploit the most ignored the “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” disadvantaged in plight of these society, while simul-The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 17, disadvantaged taneously occupying peoples. Instead, Section 2 stolen native land. the federal Conservative How can any “Everyone has the right of equal access to public government has level of governservice in his country.” led decisions to ment involved in the further strengthOlympics possibly -The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21, en the ruling say they stand for class through Section 2 equality given what the expansion we know about the of an inherently 2010 Olympics? corrupt ecoThey can’t. nomic model at the expense of the natives. Given that Vancouver’s east side is riddled with could have been put towards rectifyparliament has been prorogued once abject poverty and other interrelated ing these deeply imbedded societal again by the Harper regime, people social issues caused by government injustices. are starting to realize that Vancouver negligence. Hard drugs like heroin 2010 isn’t all that different than Berlin Not only does inequality plague are prevalent on the streets, as is 1936, Mexico 1968, or Beijing 2008. Canadian society, but stolen native prostitution and homelessness. All of land is used to propagate the further these issues raise exposure to HIV (1) http://www.vancouversun.com/ exploitation of aboriginal peoples. infection, rape, and murder. Due to Sports/Olympics+bill+tops+billion/120 The 2010 Olympic games – along the poverty affecting native communi7886/story.html with the environmental destruction ties outside of Vancouver, aboriginal that accompanies the Sea to Sky women are sadly the prototypical
Western New Democrats meet bi-weekly on campus to discuss issues and organize events relevant to the NDP and the ideals it stands for. Causes we support and participate include anti-war protests, gay rights, environmental awareness and workers’ rights. Visit westernnewdemocrats.ca to learn about the next meeting time. All are welcome!
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Human Rights Threatened in Darfur By Jason Novick (Co-VP Media, STAND)
The Current Situation in Darfur Demands Genocide Intervention Action Now More Than Ever According to the United Nations, the fallout from the genocide in Darfur is now the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The whole crisis began in 2003. After decades of oppression, the Sudanese Liberation Army in Darfur rose up against the Sudanese government. The government and its allied militia, known as the Janjaweed, answered this rebellion with the large-scale massacre of non-Arab civilians, which has included rape on a mass scale and the destruction of thousands of villages. Since 2003, approximately 400 000 civilians have been killed and over 2.5 million people have been displaced. While international aid groups have struggled to provide basic humanitarian aid to displaced victims, the Sudanese government has also restricted international humanitarian aid access to Darfur and has systematically targeted humanitarian aid workers, thereby increasing the malnutrition rate among the displaced population to an alarmingly high level. Most recently, several important developments have taken place as advocacy groups and international groups worked tirelessly to stop the genocide in Darfur. In July 2008, Luis Moreno Ocampo (the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC)) filed ten charges of war crimes against Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president. Since the start of the
genocide in Darfur, genocide intervention groups have worked persistently to educate the world that President al-Bashir is the mastermind of the atrocities being committed against the Sudanese population, and that he has directly funded the Janjaweed to carry out its acts of genocide. Accordingly, President al-Bashir’s contentions that he has no control over the Janjaweed and that the Janjaweed has committed war crimes completely autonomous of his authority are false, along with his severe diminution of the casualties of the Janjaweed’s massacres. (President al-Bashir has claimed that only 10 000 civilians have been killed since the massacres began in 2003, contrary to the proclaimed death toll of 400 000 civilians by repu-
“...the genocide could resume in full force in the near future.” table human rights organizations). In March 2009, the ICC formally issued an arrest warrant against President al-Bashir. Alarmingly, the ICC didn’t accuse President al-Bashir of committing acts of genocide, but rather filed 10 charges of war crimes against him (including charges of mass acts of rape, deportation, and murder). While President al-Bashir remains free from prosecution within Sudan since the issuing of the ICC arrest warrant, President al-Bashir will likely be arrested if he travels to any country that is a member of the ICC. In August 2009, General Martin Agwai (UN’s military commander in the
Darfur region) claimed that largescale fighting between the Janjaweed and rebel forces is mostly over, with smaller scale hostilities being the only form of warfare currently occurring in Darfur. Nonetheless, there are several issues that are still prevalent with regard to the genocide in Darfur. Most importantly, the horrendous humanitarian crisis within Darfur is still present, and President al-Bashir is still largely preventing many humanitarian rights groups from having access to the Darfur region. In addition, no formal peace agreement, armistice, or ceasefire has been signed between the Janjaweed and rebel groups, meaning that the genocide could resume in full force in the near future. Finally, President al-Bashir has refused to turn himself in to the ICC and hasn’t been prosecuted for the horrendous war crimes that he has committed since the start of the genocide in Darfur in 2003. Despite the fact that there is currently a respite in the genocide in Darfur, attending to the humanitarian crisis within the region remains the number one priority, followed by establishing an armistice between the Janjaweed and rebel forces and prosecuting President al-Bashir for war crimes. These aforementioned issues are why genocide intervention groups such as STAND (Students Taking Action Now, Darfur) are relentlessly active now more than ever in accomplishing these goals. Intervention against the injustices occurring in Darfur during this critical time period has enormous implications between saving millions of innocent civilians or witnessing their demise due to lack of nourishment, disease, and massacre from a resumption of the Janjaweed’s genocidal actions.
The staff at LEFT want to wish everyone a happy new year and all the best for a new semester!
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Volunteer for STAND By Ashley Shantz STAND and African Students’ Association (ASA), two student activist clubs, have come together to help youth refugees through a tutoring program. The tutoring program aims to help students from grades one to twelve in an after school program that assists students with homework, reading, writing, math, English and French skills. The tutors also help build friendships with the youth refugees and provide a positive working environment while acting as role models. This is an essential program to help integrate the refugees into the community and help them face their challenges. STAND and ASA are looking for volunteers for the tutoring program. The winter/ spring session will commence in the second or third week of January. The commitment is two hours a week at one of the following three locations: Tuesday 5-7 pm: East London Branch (Dundas Street between Clarke Road and Airport Road) Wednesday 5-7 pm: Beacock Branch (Huron Street and Highbury Avenue) Thursday 5-7 pm: Sherwood Branch (at the Sherwood Mall on Wonderland Road north of Sarnia Road) Feel free to show up at the location of your choice and you will be registered as a tutor the night of. If you have any further questions please email standtutoring@ gmail.com. Finally, please checkout the STAND Western website for more information: www.uwc.uwo.ca/clubs/stand We appreciate your time and support!
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A Western New Democrat Publication westernnewdemocrats.ca/left. html Our e-mail: email@example.com Staff: Caroline Diezyn Editor in Chief Mark Filipowich Assistant Editor Nikita De Gannes Michael Sparrow Copy Editors Graeme Brighton Publication Manager Contributing Authors: Autumn L’Ouverture Ali Hassan Lindsay Stevenson Michael Sparrow Nikita De Gannes Mark Filipowich Jason Novick CFS Peter Ferguson Robin Wing Check our website for details on submitting articles, opinions, creative writing, photos, and art. February’s submissions are due February 5th. The theme is Cultural Identities. westernnewdemocrats.ca/left.html
6 LEFT January 2010
More Social Solidarity Needed to Advance Equality Rights By Mike Mlynarczyk Since the rise of LiberalDemocracy in the Western World, much has been achieved in terms of equality rights. From the abolishment of slavery, to the enfranchisement of women, to establishing welfare programs for the poor. Many of these victories for equality rights can be directly attributed to the predominance of liberal-democratic values in Canada and the US. However, if we look to other, more left-wing jurisdictions such as many social-democratic countries in Europe, we may notice that they have also achieved these landmark equality rights while being ahead of us in terms of other economic, social and equality rights. Whereas in most Nordic countries the participation of women in politics stands at close to 50%, still less then a quarter of MP’s in Canada are women. Early childcare, extended maternity leave and paternity leave are rights established long ago in most social-democratic countries, but still not yet achieved in Canada. Whereas post-secondary education is free or accessible for a nominal fee in most European countries, tuition fees in Canada continue to rise and have become a barrier for many Canadians. Whereas the poverty rate in Sweden is less then half of what it is in Canada, poverty, and especially child poverty in Canada has been on the rise since the mid 1980’s. So, maybe it is time to ask ourselves, is there something about the liberaldemocratic paradigm (that helped us achieve so much equality) that is somehow holding us back and impeding our struggle for full
equality? What is it about the other jurisdictions that have allowed them to move beyond where we are in Canada in the struggle for full equality? Let’s begin by looking at how liberal-democracy has helped us achieve many of the equality rights we enjoy in Canada today. Modern liberalism is derived from the word “liberty,” that is, the assumption that the primary purpose of government is to protect individual liberty or “freedom.” Liberals generally refer to the theory of a social contract to justify their emphasis on the free realm of the individual. The Social Contract was first formulated by the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes in the 16th century. It depicts a primitive human society where every man is at war with every other man and life is “nasty, brutish and short.” The Social Contract is the theory that in such a state of nature, people come together and agree upon an order, a “Social Contract,” where a central government is established to maintain order and protect their civil liberties. However if the central government infringes upon the civil liberties of the people, the “contract” is broken and the people have a right to establish a new government through peaceful or revolutionary means. Over time liberal philosophers have realized that people are not really free unless they enjoy an equality of opportunity. For instance, a person born to a lower-class poor family will not have the same opportunities as someone who is born to an upper-class and wealthy family. So, by the 19th century reform liberalism was born. For all people to be really free they
should not be discriminated against based on their race, heritage, gender, sexual orientation or other factors beyond their control. It was also recognized that to guarantee real freedom to everyone, active state intervention was required in some areas to provide for an equality of opportunity. This modern reform liberal paradigm has worked well for us so far; however there are many critics today who say that liberalism rests on an overly individualistic conception of the self. Whereas liberalism argues that our supreme interest rests in securing our power of autonomous choice, it neglects the fact that our selves tend to be defined or constituted by various communal attachments (e.g., ties to the family or to a religious tradition) so close to us that they can only be set aside at great cost, if at all. Many modern political philosophers believe that politics should not be concerned solely with securing the conditions for individuals to exercise their powers of autonomous choice: as we also need to sustain and promote the social attachments crucial to our sense of well-being and respect, many of which have been involuntarily picked up during the course of our upbringing. There are other alternatives to the individualistic liberal theory. For instance a more collectivist value system tends to exist in east Asia, stemming from the Confucian political philosophy tradition which places special emphasis upon family and social harmony. As Singapore’s President Lee Kuan Yew once put it, Asians have “little doubt that a society with communitarian values where the interests
of society take precedence over that of the individual suits them better than the individualism of America.” So, how do most European social-democratic countries differ from us? Quite simply, they see equality as necessary to fulfill social justice, not just as a necessity for liberty. They have gone beyond the simplistic social contract paradigm and have adopted a dimension of social responsibility governed by an ethic of social solidarity. In Canada however, modern reform liberalism still operates in the social contract paradigm, which seems to be inadequate. This throws in doubt the claim that the highest purpose of government is the protection of individual freedom. In the Social Contract theory the liberal individual is purported to be universal: raceless, sexless, classless, disembodied, and is taken to represent an abstract, generalized model of humanity at large. Many philosophers have argued, however, that when we look more closely at the characteristics of the liberal individual, what we find is not a representation of universal humanity, but a historically located, specific type of person. C.B. Macpherson, for example, has argued that Hobbesian man is, in particular, a bourgeois man, with the characteristics we would expect of a person during the nascent capitalism that characterized early modern Europe. Feminists have also argued that the liberal individual is a particular, historical, and embodied person. More specifically, they have argued that the person at the heart of liberal theory, and the social contract, is gendered. Christine Di Stefano, in her book Configurations
7 LEFT January 2010 of Masculinity, argues that Hobbes’s conception of the liberal individual, is particularly masculine in that it is conceived as atomistic and solitary and as not owing any of its qualities, or even its very existence, to any other person, in particular its mother. Virginia Held, in her book, Feminist Morality, argues that social contract theory implicitly relies on a conception of the person that can be best described as “economic Distributing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Photo by Marc Lastrocci. man.” “Economic lowing plant closings or the from the political process. man” is concerned shifting of corporate headfirst and foremost with maxiSo, how does the ethic of quarters), and corrupts the mizing his own, individually social solidarity work in political process (e.g., politiconsidered interests, and European social democratic cians are often dependent he enters into contracts as a countries? In the book on economic interest groups means by which to achieve What is Social-Democracy? for their political survival, this end. “Economic man,” produced by the Swedish with the consequence that however, fails to represent Social Democratic Party, they no longer represent all persons in all times and authors Ingvar Carlsson and the community at large). places. In particular, it fails Moreover, the idealization of Anne-Marie Lingren argue to adequately represent that what is needed is a greed justified the extenchildren and those who progreater sense of social solision of bottom line driven vide them with the care they darity. The term solidarity marketplace economics into require, who have historicalspheres previously informed is the practical expression ly been women. The model of the insight that all people by a sense of civil obligaof “Economic man” cannot, are social beings with a tion. This trend has been therefore, fairly claim to be mutual dependence on reinforced by increasing gloa general representation of each other, and that society balization, which pressures all persons. works best if it aims for the states into conforming to the mandates of the interna- common good. Today, the Over time, liberal individuconcept of “solidarity” is oftional marketplace. alism and ‘economic man’ ten used to mean “to share have contributed to the If the free market of liberal with” or “to be there for,” i.e., erosion of social responindividualism is such an as a one-way movement sibilities and valued forms impediment to equality from donor to recipient. In of communal life and do rights, is state socialism some cases it can be seen not seem up to the task of any better? Not necessaras a consequence of the dealing with such modern ily. The left can be chasdemand for solidarity, but phenomena as alienation tised not just for supporting its real meaning is about from the political process, welfare rights economically reciprocity: we are donors unbridled greed, loneliness unsustainable in an era and recipients, one and the and urban crime. Far from of slow growth and aging same. producing beneficial compopulations, but also for munal consequences, the Practically speaking we shifting power away from invisible hand of unregucan look to at the history local communities and lated free-market capitalism of organized labour. In the democratic institutions and undermines the family (e.g., early days of the labour towards centralized bureaufew corporations provide movement, solidarity was cratic structures leading to enough leave to parents of the key to changing society. a growing sense of pownewborn children), disrupts No one could tackle the erlessness and alienation local communities (e.g., fol-
injustices on his/her own; only together did people have the strength needed to do so. People would unite in the struggle and the gains would be shared fairly and equally. The struggle for a new society was about achieving common improvements, about welfare that would cover everyone, and the chance for everyone to have influence – not about individuals trampling on others to create wealth and power for themselves. Social-democrats credit much of their success by attaching equal importance to the principles of freedom, equality and solidarity. They believe they are interdependent. Each is a prerequisite of the other. As opposed to this position, liberals and conservatives have placed the main emphasis on individual liberty at the expense of justice and solidarity while many communists have claimed to achieve equality and solidarity, but at the expense of freedom. Social-democrats believe that solidarity is actually a condition of equality, as it is basically the feeling of affinity – and mutual dependence – that makes the strong refrain from trampling on the weak. In reverse, solidarity assumes equality, as only in an equal society is it not necessary to drive others out in order to look after oneself. In this way, it can be said that freedom assumes equality, equality assumes solidarity and solidarity assumes freedom and equality.
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Hire, con’t from pg 1 of the university’s mandate to promote scholarly research and teaching in all areas (i.e. to be universal). As Slouka points out, the humanities’ essential function is to probe all aspects of what it is to be human; the questions asked by the humanities don’t always translate into money for the individual or to society - the value of the humanities lies elsewhere. As an example, Slouka points out that when repressive regimes starve the humanities at the expense of science and engineering, it’s not solely for economic reasons. It’s because poets, novelists, artists and musicians are politically dangerous in ways that scientists aren’t; they ask the questions about liberty, equality, freedom, and truth that the government would rather not answer. Moreover, in cases where scientists have been deemed dangerous to regimes, it’s when they spoke with the voice of the humanities. A democratic society prides itself in openness, freedom of inquiry, and ability to hold the government to account. However democracy, once achieved, is not a self-sustaining or eternally guaranteed system of government. It requires constant engagement of citizens to keep it that way. Slouka argues that the increasing focus on making education a profitable venture endangers democracy and he blames the increasing commercialization of education: Capitalism has a wonderful knack for marginalizing (or co-opting) systems of value that might pose an alternative to its own . . . by bringing education to heel, by forcing it to meet [capitalism’s] criteria for “success”, the market is well on the
way to controlling a majority share of the one business that might offer a competing product, that might question its assumptions. . . . the problem, of course, is that by its success we are made vulnerable. By downsizing what is most dangerous (and most essential) about our education, namely the deep civic function of the arts and humanities, we’re well on the way to producing a nation of employees, not citizens. Slouka further adds that “The humanities are a superb delivery mechanism for what we might call democratic values.” So, he later asks “Why is every ‘Crisis in American Education’ cast as an economic threat and never a civic one?” One can see this conversion to commercialize universities from two examples here in Canada: First, it used to be that buildings and schools were named for the University, or for some distinguished scholar or historical figure. Look at many universities in Canada today, however, and you’ll see that over the past two decades things have changed for those areas where money matters most – the professional schools that produce the graduates with the highest incomes. We need doctors, dentists, and lawyers, so my quibble isn’t with the pay and prestige they receive. However, the professional schools that produce them seem to be the most utilitarian - and profitable. It’s largely for this reason that these are primarily the university programs that have seen their names changed: The (University name) School of Law is now The (Corporate sponsor) School of Law, The University School of Business is
now The (Wealthy sponsor) School of Business. The changes didn’t happen out of respect: large corporations and wealthy benefactors bought the right to rename these schools. The full implications of these ‘sales’ have yet to be evaluated in terms of academic freedom. This has consequences for the pursuit of truth and knowledge that lie at the core of the universities’ mission. Asking difficult questions now introduces the problem of possibly biting the hand that feeds. Obviously, I am not advocating that similar sales of ‘naming rights’ of the humanities occur in the name of ‘equality’ or to raise much needed cash; rather I suggest that this is not likely to occur because the humanities aren’t seen as ‘profitable’. Second, the 2009 federal budget released last January had several surprises for the budgets of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council). At about $1B each the budgets of NSERC and CIHR are each three times larger than SSHRC’s budget. I won’t debate the justification for these numbers here. It is quite possible that scientists and engineers outnumber humanities professors and students, and the sciences certainly are more expensive. (English literature scholars don’t need expensive equipment such as electron microscopes and mass spectrometers). Nor am I’m not going to open an argument about how much more money each granting agency should get (and I do believe they all should get more).
For me, the most troubling aspect of the budget was the announcement that SSHRC would be getting half as much money ($17.5 M) for the Canada Millennium Scholarship program versus the $35M awarded to each of CIHR and NSERC and that the SSHRC funds for this program were specifically earmarked to support 400 masters students and 100 PhD students in business-related programs - as opposed to history, or French literature. The President and Vice-President of SSHRC responded to the budget announcement with approval in their Message of Feb 23, 2009 and went on to describe all of the important economic benefits that arise from support of the humanities through SSHRC. It would appear that even ‘the powers that be’ at SSHRC have bought into the return on investment valuation of the humanities. Peter L Ferguson has a PhD in Microbiology. He is currently the President of the London West NDP Electoral District Association. He is also the NDP federal candidate for London West. See page 10 for an article on his election to the position of President of London West NDP.
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The Proroguing of Parliament: Opposition Plan “B” allegations that Canadian Forces transferred Afghan detainees into the custody of local authorities, even though government officials had been made aware of By Devin Johnston the likelihood that those I will have a lot to say about detainees would be abused the suspension of representa- or tortured. The Committee tive democracy shortly. Today, consists of 12 members: six I want to talk about what government members and happens when Parliament re- six opposition members. sumes. As I see it, the opposi- The Conservatives mantion parties have three options: aged to stonewall the committee’s activities for months 1. Bring down the governthrough a series of obstrucment at the first opportunity. tionist procedural stunts. 2. Re-constitute the Special As soon as the opposition members finally began to Committee on the Canadian make some progress, the Mission in Afghanistan and stack it with opposition members.
From his NDP blog at devinjohnston.ca
and hold a quorum of seats on the committee. Although it is traditional for a government member to chair committees, it is not without precedent for the opposition to chair a committee. For example, there are four standing committees in which the chair is always an opposition member (Public Accounts; Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics; Government Operations and Estimates; and Status of Women). The opposition parties could, by way of a Standing Order of the House of Commons,
3. Get down on all fours, jump onto Stephen Harper’s lap, and act pathetically grateful for whatever scraps of respect the Prime Minister is willing to throw their way. Option number 1 is selfexplanatory. This government has shown time and time again that it is not interested in sitting as part of a democratically-elected legislature. If the Conservatives don’t feel like showing up for work, it’s worth questioning whether they should continue to have jobs. Unfortunately, all three opposition parties are needed in order to topple the Harper regime; at any given time, there is a high probability that at least one out of three will get cold feet due to short-sighted concerns about electoral losses.
“one who seeks equity must do equity.” In light of the fact that the Prime Minsiter has suspended our democratically-elected legislature in mid-session two years in a row; in light of the government’s outright defiance of a binding order of the House of Commons to release certain documents pertaining to the Afghan detainee torture scandal; in light of the Conservatives’ boycott of a Parliamentary committee; and in light of Mr. Harper’s contempt for the House of Commons and, by extension, the Canadian citizens it represents; in light of all of this, Mr. Harper and his government deserve no respect from the opposition and are certainly disentitled to benefits of Parliamentary comity. Option number 3 is to let the Prime Minister get away with all of this. This would set an extremely dangerous precedent, and legitimate the dramatic centralization of power in the Prime Minister’s Office which has occurred under Mr. Harper’s direction. To yield now would be to abandon the principle of responsible government.
Conservatives boycotted the committee to prevent the committee from even holding a meeting.
The only reason the Conservatives were able to pull this stunt off is due to the composition of the committee. In order to have Option number 2 requires an offical meeting, a commore explanation. One of the mittee must have both: a) major reasons for the prothe Chair present; and b) rogation was to avoid public a quorum of members. So, scrutiny of the government’s in order for the Committee role in the Afghan detainee to continue its work when torture scandal. Harper locked Parliament resumes, its the door on Parliament Hill terms of reference must be just as the Special Commitamended in order to ensure tee on the Canadian Mission that the opposition memin Afghanistan was probing bers alone control the Chair
reconstitute the committee in such a way as to give a majority of seats, and the chairpersonship, to the opposition. Under normal circumstances, it would be inappropriate for the opposition parties to do this. The House of Commons has always rested on principles of comity and traditions of respect in order to avoid having one political party run roughshod over another. However, I believe that these are exceptional circumstances. At common law, there is a famous maxim which states that
I believe that Option number 1 is the best of the lot. I would settle for Option number 2. Option number 3 is the sort of thing that would potentially lead to me changing my party membership.
10 LEFT January 2010
Ferguson to Run in London West for NDP From ndplondonarea.ca
ideals and compassion for people.
Peter Ferguson will carry the NDP banner in the next federal election, following a party nomination meeting Saturday in London West. The 47year-old biochemist, who previously ran in the 2008 federal election, said he is eagerly looking forward to the next campaign.
London-Fanshawe MP Irene Mathyssen attended the meeting and congratulated Ferguson on his nomination. She said the NDP is working to create an economy that serves people, where there are green jobs, intelligent jobs and investment in research & technology.
Nominated by Caroline Diezyn, cochair of the UWO New Democrats, Ferguson told a crowd of about 70 supporters the NDP goals of fairness, equality and environmental stewardship matter to Canadians more than ever before. The need, he said, is to get elected, and he will be devoting his time and energy to achieving that end. Ferguson said he had been inspired by activists in the NDP and the labour movement, and he spoke of Jack Layton’s passion for the party’s
Mathyssen said issues high on the NDP agenda include greenhouse gas reduction and pension reform. Jack Layton will be going to the Copenhagen climate change conference and will be taking with him the NDP-sponsored Climate Change Accountability Act, passed by parliament in June 2009. Here at home, the NDP is calling for a doubling of the CPP, increases in both the OAS and the national income supplement and a national forum on pensions.
Mathyssen said the Conservatives’ $1.5 billion corporate tax cut, effective January 2010, would cost taxpayers twice as much as the $780 million required to lift every Canadian senior out of poverty. The meeting was chaired by Ryan Dolby, recently nominated to run for the second time in his riding of ElginMiddlesex-London. Peter Ferguson is completing his third term as president of London West NDP. He has been active in creating a party network for discussion of scientific, technological and engineering policy. Ferguson lives in south London with his wife, Judith, and their two young sons.
Contribute to LEFT! A great way to contribute on campus and in the London community, and build your portfolio. LEFT’s next issue will be displayed by February 10th. Submissions are due by February 5th. The theme of February’s issue will be Cultural Identities. Art, photos, creative writing, poetry, articles, editorials, reviews and opinions are accepted. Feel free to write on any progressive issue. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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EnviroWestern’s Involvement Guide Get Green with EnviroWestern this semester! By Holly Stover Want to get more involved this semester? Have you signed up for an EnviroWestern Project team? Visit www.envirowestern. ca and go to the Projects page and email the leader whose team you want to sign up for! Also, check out the great upcoming events around London. Nature in the City. Free conservation lectures at the Wolf Performance Hall across from the Central Public Library in downtown London, see http://www.reforestlondon.ca/sites/default/files/content/ documents/Nature_City.PDF for details
BMOS students to lead a field trip for grade three students to visit Reforest London (www.reforestlondon.org) email Yoonsun Oh email@example.com to sign up. Project Team Information E-mail the the co-ordinators for more information. Project G.R.O.W. – Holly firstname.lastname@example.org Campus naturalization & nature conservation team G.R.O.W. Community Garden – Holly email@example.com E-mail in February to join the summer community vegetable garden Compost Team – Eva firstname.lastname@example.org
New London carbon footprint calculator. Calculate your carbon footprint to Increasing composting at UWO do your part to mitigate climate change! http://www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/Rethink_ Purple Bikes Climate Change team – Energy/default.htm Diane email@example.com Working to address climate change London-Middlesex Children’s Water at UWO through awareness & action Festival The Upper Thames Conservation authority is hosting an event for chil- with goals of creating a community bike rental program at Western dren to learn about water conservation – do you have any feedback or suggestions, or want to volunteer for this event? Residence Issues team – Genevieve firstname.lastname@example.org Let me know. Addresses environmental issues in the residences Volunteer opportunity Join a group of
The theme of LEFT’s March is the Environment. Get started on your articles, editorials, opinion pieces, poetry, photography and/or art and e-mail submissions to email@example.com by February 28th. Planning a green event? Tell us about it!
Community Issues Task Force – Dan Hammond and Stuti Mathur firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Environmental action outside the campus community Reusability Team – Rachel & Amanda firstname.lastname@example.org Working to reduce disposable products waste with reusable items (no more coffee cups & bottled water!) Waste Audit and Campus Cleanup Chris & Dan email@example.com Analyzing the composition of Western’s waste stream and removing litter on campus Radio Show Team – Daniella firstname.lastname@example.org Hosts CHRW Radio Show third Fri. of every month 11am-12pm E-Zine – Sarah email@example.com Write an environmental article & we will publish it in our E-Zine
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JANUARY EVENTS CALENDAR
Tuesday January 19th: Women’s Issues Network Anti-Fashion Show. As part of Counter Culture Awareness Days, the Women’s Issues Network is hosting an ANTI-FASHION SHOW on Tuesday, January 19th in the UCC atrium at 1PM. This event will showcase awesome vintage, recycled, fair trade and alternative clothing from the London community. Through our models, music (DJ KEEP DE PACE) and wardrobe, we hope to promote a kind of personal style that goes against the grain. Thursday January 21st: Luminous Entrance: a Sound 0pera for Climate Change Action. 7:30pm Brescia Auditorium, Brescia University College. Cost at the Door: $15.00 or $12.00 for Circle Members, Seniors, Students and the Under-Employed. Free Parking. The Circle invites you to join us in a participatory performance of the Sound Opera, Luminous Entrance. Penn Kemp’s Ecco Poetry has been set to the folk-inspired melodies of musician/composer Brenda McMorrow; with dancer Ruth Douthwright and percussionist Jocelyn Drainie. http://www.brescia.uwo.ca/thecircle Saturday January 23rd: Rally Against Proroguing Parliament. Noon-1pm, Victoria Park. Speakers include Irene Mathyssen, MP-London Fanshawe (NDP), Patti Dalton, President, London Labour Council, Tim Carrie, President, CAW Local 27S, Dan O’Neail, Cory Morningstar, Council of Canadians Saturday January 23rd: Eyes in Gaza: Dr. Mads Gilbert speaks about his time in Gaza as one of two foreign doctors allowed in the Gaza strip during “Operation Cast Lead”, working days and nights at the busy and over-crowded Al-Shiffaa Hospital. 7pm-9:30pm, Wemple Student Lounge, King’s University College. Saturday January 30th: Delegation to Palestine: A Special Public Meeting with NDP MP Libby Davies. 6pm, Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario, 951 Pond Mills Rd, London. Free, all are welcome. Visit irenemathyssen.ndp.ca/calendar for more information. Check westernnewdemocrats.ca for up-to-date information on upcoming WND events!