15 Apr 2014

Flaherty's Legacy:
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The unexpected, shocking death of Jim Flaherty, the Conservative Party of Canada’s only finance minister until his retirement less than a month ago, has resulted in hundreds of tributes for his commitment to public life and praise from those in business and conservative circles who approved of his financial and economic policies.

Flaherty, who was only 64, was devoted to his family and one of the most popular Members of Parliament. And while his life achievements and humanity should be praised, it also needs to be said that during his time in the federal government his policies severely discriminated against the vast majority of Canadians.

Flaherty had control of Canada’s purse strings during a period that led to a situation where, by 2012, the 86 wealthiest residents held the same amount of wealth as the bottom 11.4 million Canadians combined. Lagging wages have led many Canadians to take on record-high debt as they try to keep up with increasing costs.

In fairness, it’s impossible to assess Flaherty’s legacy as finance minister without factoring in that Prime Minister Stephen Harper kept him on a short leash. Harper, a rabid neoliberal, no doubt put forward a number of the Conservatives’ most anti-social policies. The two argued, but it’s safe to say that Flaherty lost more battles than he won.

With apologies to Clint Eastwood, the Flaherty/Harper contributions to the economic life of the country can be broken into three main areas: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

27 Mar 2014

Guest Blog By Murray Dobbin

From Nick Fillmore: This week I am re-printing a "must read" column by Murray Dobbin, a leading journalist and social activist for the past 40 years. This excellent article gets to the bottom of what the NDP needs to do to be an effective, progressive force in this country.

Here's a Big Idea:
Transform Capitalism

By Murray Dobbin
The notion of 'big ideas' periodically raises its head in Canadian politics and I recently criticized the NDP for
Murray Dobbin
taking a good idea -- a national day of action -- and wasting it on, well, small ideas. Specifically I suggested that the party's focus on excessive interest rates and other charges effectively redefined citizens as consumers, something that Stephen Harper's Conservatives have been doing for eight years.

In response to the criticism, the party's deputy leader Megan Leslie wrote a response, claiming that the NDP had big ideas "in spades" and that she was proud of them. It is unusual for the NDP to engage its critics on the left outside the party and it is a positive sign -- as are days of actions and national town halls. Engaging people outside the four-week period of elections is critical to the NDP's future success.

21 Jan 2014

'One Big World Campaign' needed
to challenge power of right wing

(Note from Nick of One Big Campaign: Please take a couple of minutes to read about this new global initiative and give us your feedback. Is it time for massive international campaigns to take on greedy corporations and right-wing governments? We would like Canadians to be involved. By the way, I won’t be doing very many blogs for a while as I will be working on this project.)

If you are like me, you are tired of seeing greedy right-wing companies and governments destroy the things we value in Canada and world – our once pristine environment, ‘real’ free trade not corporate-controlled trade, scientific research, and most important, our democracy.

Unfortunately, it is now obvious that the tactics we’ve been using are not strong enough to stop these powerful right-wing forces. We win a battle here and there – say against fracking or in support of LGBTQ rights – but year after year, we keep losing the war.

The right wing has too much money and too much power. And if they are not stopped, who is to say they’re not going to destroy much of the planet? That’s the path they’re on.
So, over the past weeks a number of progressive-minded people in a few countries have been wondering what could be done to better challenge and even defeat these self-serving corporations and governments.


There is a huge open space internationally – and in Canada - waiting for the right project to come along and capture people’s imagination.

Starting in February, groups working in several countries are going to start building something the right wing does not have – a massive, global, loosely-knit network of networks, organizations and people who are determined to engage in large-scale campaigns to take back what the right has “stolen” from the rest of us.