Sudbury Social Justice News - May 14, 2012
Sudbury Social Justice News - May 14, 2012
EVENTS & MEETINGS:
1) All May: Continuing Earth Month
2) Tuesday, May 15: Meeting of Justice and Freedom for John Moore
3) Thursday, May 17: reThink Green Annual General Meeting
4) Tuesday, May 22: Next meeting of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty
5) Wednesday, May 23: "The Injustice System" - A talk by John Moore about his struggle against an unjust and racist conviction
6) Saturday, May 26: Eat Local Sudbury Membership Launch Extravaganza
7) Monday, June 11 - Friday, June 15: Peer Support Training Conference
NEWS, ANALYSIS, & CALLS TO ACTION:
1) "50 Ways to Close the Food Banks" Made in Sudbury Community Video and Freedom 90 campaign song
2) "'RÃªve gÃ©nÃ©ral illimitÃ©' in Quebec” by Stefan Christoff
EVENTS & MEETINGS:
All May: Continuing Earth Month
Check out http://www.earthdaysudbury.ca for a complete list of events associated with Earth Month in Sudbury.
Tuesday, May 15: Meeting of Justice and Freedom for John Moore
Location: Little Montreal, 182 Elgin St., Sudbury
Matters to be discussed include the zine of material about John's case, the ongoing decision-making about how to reorient our efforts given AIDWYC's unjust decision, and John's upcoming talk at APANO.
Thursday, May 17: reThink Green Annual General Meeting
Location: reThink Green - 176 Larch Street, Sudbury
You are cordially invited to reThink Green's (Greater Sudbury Environment Network) Annual General Meeting and 'Earth Month Thank you' on Thursday, May 17th in the ERC (176 Larch Street, rear entrance) from 7 to 9 p.m. We have had a very successful year that we want to share with you and have some exciting announcements on new developments, partnerships and projects that will make an impact for our members and the community at large.
We are inviting all those involved in this year's Earth month festivities to attend, share and provide your feedback around this year's events.
Beverages and appetizers will be served.
This event on Facebook:
Tuesday, May 22: Next meeting of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty
Location: Rethink Green, 176 Larch Street, Sudbury
Matters to be discussed include ongoing direct action support work and organizing against the proposed provincial budget.
Wednesday, May 23: "The Injustice System" - A talk by John Moore about his struggle against an unjust and racist conviction
Location: Aboriginal People's Alliance (Northern Ontario) or APANO, 66 Elm Street, Sudbury
Saturday, May 26: Eat Local Sudbury Membership Celebration
Location: 176 Larch Street, Sudbury
Always wanted to become a member? Need to renew your membership? Want to know more about Eat Local Sudbury?
Come join the celebration!
11:00-12:00pm Peggy Baillie, our new Managing Director will give a talk on cooking with different meat cuts
12:00-2:00pm will be the membership drive
A complimentary, all local lunch will be provided, and there will be activities for the kids!
This event on Facebook:
Monday, June 11 - Friday, June 15: Peer Support Training Conference
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm each day
Location: Days Inn Sudbury, North Banquet, 117 Elm Street
We invite you to participate in our five-day training program and build upon your qualifications in the field of peer support!
"Peer support is sometimes known as self-help, mutual aid, co-counselling or mutual support." (Mental Health Commission of Canada)
For many people with lived experience of mental illness, recovery is an ongoing journey. We know that a lot of skills are developed from negotiating the rough terrain of individual wellness and from encounters with various mental health services and supports in our community. Recovery is a very individual experience, but it is often strengthened by connecting with someone else who has been there-a peer.
Peer Support Workers are formalized, paid employees who adhere to best and emerging practices in the field which embrace confidentiality, boundary setting and conflict resolution, as well as traditional skills found within the mental health social services system.
NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action is pleased to offer a five-day training program presented by Robyn Priest and Susan Musante from the Alaska Peer Support Consortium to offer those with lived experience of mental illness help to build their knowledge and qualifications in peer support for future employment.
To sign up for this conference, contact Jude Ashburn at 705 675-9193 ext. 8206
NEWS, ANALYSIS, & CALLS TO ACTION:
"50 Ways to Close the Food Banks" Made in Sudbury Community Video and Freedom 90 campaign song
New 'union' of food bank volunteers calls for urgent action on poverty so Ontario's food banks can close and volunteers can retire
Premier Dalton McGuinty's provincial budget, even as recently amended, does not do enough to reduce poverty in the view of volunteers at Ontario's food banks and emergency meal programs. They are therefore creating a new voice in the public debate about Ontario poverty: Freedom 90, a 'union' of volunteers.
Leaders of the Freedom 90 'union' include many people in their 70s and 80s who have been volunteering for twenty years. They want Premier McGuinty to take urgent action on poverty so that food banks can close and they can 'retire' within their lifetimes.
Freedom 90 volunteers in Sudbury have recorded '50 Ways to Close the Food Banks' (with apologies to Paul Simon) as their campaign song. It emphasizes that government action - not charitable food and meal programs - is required to end poverty.
To view the Freedom 90 website and view the video go to www.freedom90.ca
'RÃªve gÃ©nÃ©ral illimitÃ©' in Quebec
By Stefan Christoff
Across Quebec reaction has been swift to a proposal aiming to silence a historic student strike now in the 14th week.
Student assemblies are voting en masse to reject a Quebec Liberal government offer that fails to seriously address key issues driving the strike, including the $1,778 hike in tuition fees, a stinging increase even worse than the original planned $1,625 hike.
A settlement scripted to fail at Quebec City negotiations speaks to a profound disconnect between popular sentiment on the streets and the halls of political power today in Quebec, a division rooted in fundamental questions on austerity-driven economics.
Politicians in Quebec are moving to place an increasing part of the economic burden of austerity on public institutions, rejecting calls from the student movement to heighten public returns from the banking sector.
In a proposal last week, la Coalition large de l'Association pour une SolidaritÃ© Syndicale Ã‰tudiante (CLASSE), a major grassroots student coalition driving the strike, proposed that Quebec adopt a bank tax, starting at 0.14 per cent and increasing to 0.7 over five years, as a way to heighten public funds for post-secondary educational institutions. Beyond the important demand for a freeze on tuition hikes, a proposal to tax banks quickly sparked public debate, illuminating possible economic policies that dream beyond the neo-liberal economic box.
At a time of financial crisis, banks in Canada and Quebec are securing record profits, over $22.4 billion in 2011, a 15 per cent increase from the previous year. Given record bank profits in 2012 and recent reports outlining a secret $114-billion bailout at the height of the financial crisis, the Quebec student proposal to create a relatively tiny tax on financial institutions to benefit education is solid.
Today, little common ground exists between the Quebec strike movement and the Liberal government, a reality speaking to the likely inability for students and politicians in Quebec City to negotiate any viable solutions. Beyond a vibrant student strike demanding specific reforms on tuition, the strike movement is now articulating wider critiques on systemic injustices written into contemporary economic and political policy in Quebec.
Since its announcement in the 2010 Quebec budget, the media lackeys of the Liberal government have attempted to present this measure as inevitable. But behind this claimed inevitability we find an eminently political decision expressed in what the finance minister terms a "cultural revolution," and the international economic authorities refer to as an "austerity budget."
"Whatever the name given to it by governments, it clearly and definitively involves the dismantling of public services aimed at privatizing what remains of the commons," writes CLASSE in a recent public appeal for a social strike across QuÃ©bec.
Today the political orientation of the student strike movement, articulated clearly in the social strike call or via anti-capitalist chants at street protests, contrasts sharply with the economic equations, largely driven by the logic of financial markets, drafted by the Liberal politicians fighting to impose a widely unpopular tuition hike.
In contrast to the CLASSE proposal for a public tax on banks stands Liberal economic policy that openly promotes Quebec as having "one of the lowest corporate tax rates in North America." In Quebec City, politicians are directing billions toward the corporate sector, while forcing the students to pay -- take for example the 2007 Alcan deal, returning an estimated $2.7 billion in potential tax revenue to a major Quebec corporation.
Student activists taking the streets are outlining a political vision for QuÃ©bec that seeks to radically rework the present economic system. Can the thousands chanting "A-anti-anti-capitalista!" on the streets arrange a political solution with Liberal politicians who most often place corporate concerns first?
Nightly protests pointing toward larger social movement?
On the streets in Montreal nightly demonstrations continue, every evening thousands join a vibrant protest starting at Ã‰milie-Gamelin park close to UniversitÃ© du QuÃ©bec Ã MontrÃ©al (UQAM).
Red flags fly every night, often accented by activist fireworks in the sky and mass percussion ensembles echoing off the skyscrapers across downtown Montreal.
Spirited chants ring out like "Charest dehors! On va te trouver une job dans le Nord!" (roughly translating to, Charest out! We'll find you a job up north!), referencing cynical comments made by Charest at a Montreal meeting on the controversial Plan Nord project, while riot police fired tear gas at people protesting on the streets. The major demonstration via environmental justice and student groups outside Palais des congrÃ¨s in April marked a hike in police violence, and in the militancy of the student strike, while Charest's politically toxic comments sparked a media storm.
Certainly there is an incredible determination to the nightly street protests, a refusal to back down on the tuition hikes, but also a fighting spirit struggling to sustain a historic student strike, rapidly evolving into a broader movement for social and environmental justice in Quebec.
Night protests travel across the city, visiting various neighbourhoods and specific targets on different nights, from thousands demonstrating in popular neighbourhoods in east Montreal, to a recent night protest that took the message to the street outside Charest's house in the historically aristocratic Westmount.
Protests continue daily across the city and across Quebec (a relatively comprehensive listing of actions can be found at Ensemble, bloquons la hausse.)
In Victoriaville this past weekend, red squares were widespread at intense protests outside the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) general council meeting. At the protest, banners and chants illuminated broader economic and environmental justice struggles in Quebec. A principle force behind the confrontational protest was la Coalition opposÃ©e Ã la tarification et Ã la privatisation des services publics, a coalition including student unions, that has been fighting the PLQ government's attack on public services, including a new $200 per year health tax.
Clearly Quebec is witnessing a historic moment, as the ongoing student strike movement continues with daily protests, while quivering with excitement at a possibility the fight against tuition hikes will evolve into a broader movement for social justice.
Incredible barriers remain, however. The government in Quebec City is fighting to block any symbolic victories for the student movement, while police repression on the streets has in many cases been extreme. In Victoriaville, student Maxence Valade reportedly lost an eye, while another student, Alex Allard, is now struggling with severe head injuries.
Despite police violence, an incredible spirit remains on the streets and in student assemblies across Quebec, as popular votes are moving to reject a government proposal failing to speak to the specific demands and broader dreams of a student movement now sparking the popular imagination.
Stefan Christoff is a Montreal based writer, activist and musician who is contributes to rabble.ca and is at http://www.twitter.com/spirodon/