(AA) ++ Canada Report - Winter 1996

esperanto (lingvoj@lds.co.uk)
Thu, 28 Nov 1996 16:18:49 +0000


FREEDOM INTERNATIONAL
CANADA REPORT - WINTER 1996

Sept 20 - The Quebec government suggested making work-sharing and a four
day work week a legal option for workers. Workers and trade unions were
generally favourable, but employers were not.

Sept. 21 - Temagami Ontario. Disputes arose between Earthroots
environmental protesters and townspeople over the possible logging of old
growth pine in this area, 15 protesters chained themselves to heavy machinery.
Meanwhile 200 loggers marched through the town demanding that Earthroots
"stop taking food off people's tables". After 20 years of a logging
moratorium a
compromise had been reached between aboriginals and loggers but this was not
supported by Earthroots. Natives are not against controlled logging and the
townspeople say, "We are not anti-environment". A local writer, Britt Griffin,
editor of a magazine called "The Highgrader", says the dispute is rooted in
class
differences. Northerners are working class while the protestors are middle class
urbanites. She claims Earthroots has "no understanding of the people and
the complexities".

Sept 24. The proto-fascist Movement for the Liberation of Quebec threatened to
firebomb Jewish homes in retaliation for the refusal of anglophone Jews to
support independence for Quebec. Other independentiste groups criticize the
MLQ for its racism and anti-Semitism.

Sept. 28 - A poll shows 57% of Quebecois don't want another independence
referendum to be held again for at least ten years. Unemployment, decline in
health care and high taxes are seen as more important than nationalist
fantasies.

Sept. 30. A three day long conference on sex workers ended today in Montreal.
Featured speaker was veteran activist Margo St. James of the prostitutes union,
Coyote. Panellists in the well attended meetings included social acitivists,
academics and prostitutes. The organizers seek to decriminalize prostitution and
improve the lives of the sex trade workers.

Oct. 1 - The idea of secession is growing in Northern Ontario. Some northerners
would like to create a new province separate from Southern Ontario. This
move has been sparked by the Tegmagami logging protests which saw urban
southern Ontarians pitted against northern loggers.

Marc Emery, the owner of the Hemp Store will be running in the
Vancouver
mayoral election in favour of drug legalisation. He is getting much support from
local libertarians. A similar campaign is being waged in Victoria British
Columbia.

October 9. Auto workers strike at GM plants in Ontario and Quebec. The dispute
is over subcontracting and assembly line speed-up. For the first time the
union is
challenging "management rights" or how the company is run, rather than wages
or working conditions. Ford and Chrysler have already signed contracts with the
Canadian Auto Workers Union, a move which puts pressure on GM.

October 12 - A group of Vancouver animal rights extremists calling themselves
the "Animal Avengers", claimed to have put poison in a shipment of
Thanksgiving turkeys, an action similar to the Christmas turkey poisoning
incident of 1994.

Oct. 15 - The GM strike has spread to all plants in Quebec and Ontario, some
26 000 workers in all. In Oshawa Ontario, workers occupied a plant scheduled
for closure and refused to leave until their demands are met.

- Protestors in Montreal were blocked by riot police from breaking up a
press conference held by two members of the French ultra-conservative party,
the Front National. The media claimed the demonstrators were "anarchists"
and "members of anti-racist groups". This is the second time this year the
media have tried to scape-goat anarchists for disturbances.

Oct 21 - Charges against 23 persons involved in last years armed occupation by
Native people in Ipperwash Ontario have been dropped for lack of evidence.

Oct. 23 - General Motors strike ended today. 89% of wvrkers voted to go back
to work after obtaining cut-backs on some subcontracting and a 10% wage
increase over the life of the contract. Two auto plants will be closing, as the
union felt it could not win this issue. This was the longest auto strike
since the
1970 walk-out which lasted 95 days
- The World Conservation Congress ended today in Montreal, after ten days
of discussion. More than 5000 species are threatened with extinction due mainly
to loss of habitat. Over 100 resolutions were made including preservation of the
Temagami forests, the creation of a world-wide data bank on biodiverslty and a
global initiative to examine the state of the world's temperate forests.

Oct. 25 - Close to 100,000 people demonstrated or went on strike for a day in
downtown Toronto against the Ontario government's deficit-cutting measures.
This was the fifth in a series of protests in Ontario and the
largest. Labor
leaders claimed a victory and are now threatening a province-wide general
strike. City transit was shut down to force workers to stay home. More than 300
other sites were targeted for picketing. Nevertheless, most Torontonians
managed to get to work by train or car and many shops and businesses
remained open. 40% of teachers and 1/3 of government workers stayed home. A
thousand demonstrators attempted to invade the Toronto Stock Exchange and
were repulsed by police. While the number of strikers was less than anticipated
and the expected "chaos" did not ensue, the protest was costly, running into the
millions of dollars in lost wages and production. The working population remains
deeply divided as only 1/3 of the population supported the action according to a
poll.

Oct. 26 - A mass demonstration in downtown Torvnto in opposition to the Ontario
government's deficit-cutting measures drew immense numbers of people. Called
"the largest social-protest in Canadian history", the action attracted anywhere
from 75,000 to 300,000 participants.

Oct. 29 More than 5000 angry protestors demonstrated against the Quebec
government's so-called Economic Sumit. This meeting of business, government
and trade union bosses seeks to overcome Quebec's economic problems,
chiefly high unemployment and a towering government deficit. Demonstrators,
who included members of labor, student, poverty and women's groups, feared
being sacrificed to this process. Both the Economic Summit and its opponents
bring into clear definition one of the major contradictions facing Quebec
nationalists. To become an independent State, Quebec must have a strong
economy, to have a strong economy governmental debt must be slashed, but
doing this will alienate the nationalist's strongest supporters who are
the trade
unions, student organizations, government functionaries and social-action
groups.

Oct 30 - Students at three Montreal colleges voted to go on strike in opposition
to the Quebec government's increased tuition fees.

Nov. 1 - The province of Manitoba has proposed a law whereby all political
activities of trade unlons must be approved by the membership. The unions ask
why they of all other institutions are singled out. The government's sudden
interest in union democracy has no doubt arisen with labor's effective
advertising
campaign against government cut-backs to health care.

Nov. 7 - Students at 18 colleges in Quebec are now on strike, totalling 60,000
students. 300 protesters occupied the Ministry of Education, while 3000 picketed
the Education Minister.

Nov. 8 - Student strike expanded to 23 colleges and 3500
demonstrated in
front of legislature in Quebec City.

Their Money And Ours

* At a time when cut-backs are being made in health care, the multi-billion
dollar
corporation, Bombardier, has been granted an $87 million interest free loan by
the government.

* The Quebec Federation of Labor's Fonds de Solidarite now has $1.8 billion in
assets and comprises 20% of Canadian risk capital.

* Pension funds continue to grow rapidly as the "baby-boomers" age. This year
Registered Retirement Plans account for $235 billion, the Quebec Pension plan
$45 billion and "private" pension plans some $400 billion for a total of $680
billion. To put this astronomical figure in perspective, it is greater than
the four
largest Canadian banks put together. The largest "private" pension fund is the
Ontario Teachers.

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