Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Muskrat Falls direct action planning

** UPDATE: Nov 5th —We will be continuing our organizing at the GA tonight as well. 7 pm. Harbourside Park. Join us!

We will be discussing direct action on Muskrat Falls at our General Assembly tonight (Tues Oct. 30) at Harbourside Park at 7 PM. This is not about pro or con Muskrat Falls. This is about political process and civic engagement.

We are calling for an NL People's Assembly on principles of direct democracy to address shortcomings of a top-down political system.

Now is the time to reclaim the power of the people. Rise up NL!

Check out some of the other Muskrat actions in Labrador.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Canada-China Investment Treaty (#FIPPA) Information Round-up

The Canada-China FIPPA (Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act) was quietly tabled in the House of Commons on September 26th. This was the first time anyone got a chance to see the full text of an agreement that will be automatically ratified after 21 sitting days without any parliamentary debate or vote. 

Check out this great new website: FIPA FACTS.

FIPPA will bind municipal, provincial and federal government for the next 15 years to terms that have been shown to favour Chinese investors rights in ways that infringe on Canadian sovereignty and democracy. Even if a future government wanted to cancel the treaty, a one-year notice is required, and then after the cancellation the treaty guarantees another 15 years of treaty benefits to Chinese operations in Canada. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The 4 O'Clock Whistle—Call for Submissions for 5th issue!

The 4 O'clock Whistle, The Bay of Islands Free and Independent Magazine is currently looking for submissions for the 5th issue of their publication from members of the student/worker community of Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Canada, and beyond.

Check out issues #1 and 2! And the latest issue here!

Submissions could include writing, art, and journalism (but are certainly not limited to these mediums). All articles and artwork submitted would be published under a creative commons copyright and would be distributed free of charge to locations around The Bay of Islands. (A note: They will do their best to publish submissions, though please be advised that they do not publish pieces that are racist, sexist, LGTBAQ phobic, or that promote hatred towards groups of people or individuals, and what they choose to publish remains at their discretion).

The 4 O'Clock Whistle accepts work written under pseudonyms and will do their best to protect the identities of authors who wish to remain anonymous.

The deadline for submissions to the 5th Issue is November 30, 2012.

To submit work email them at: 4oclockwhistle@gmail.com

For more information check them out on Twitter:
@4oclockwhistle (https://twitter.com/4oclockwhistle)

And Facebook:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Public Sector Employment in Canadian Provinces II

I mentioned in the previous post that the larger provinces tend to have smaller percentage of people working in the public sector.  I want to return to that point because I think it is the main reason that NL has a relatively large public sector.  

In the chart below, we compare population to public sector employment in Canadian provinces and territories.  The horizontal axis is public sector employment (excluding federal jobs) as a percentage of population, and the vertical axis is the logarithm of population  (I use a logarithm because population varies by orders of magnitude:  NL is 15 times the size of Yukon and BC is 15 times the size of NL, so just using population would ruin the chart). 

There is a very clear trend: the larger the province or territory, the smaller the share of public sector workers.  The four dots in the top left are the four big provinces: Ontario, Quebec, BC and Alberta.  The three dots to the far right are the territories.  I've marked NL in red.  While it is true that the red dot has been creeping to the right over the last 10 years, it still remains well within the norm.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Public Sector Employment in Canadian Provinces

A followup to this post can be found here.

This post was inspired by the terrific NL politics blog Labradore.  A few months ago, he posted a chart (reproduced below) showing provincial public sector employment as a share of total employment.

This was meant to demonstrate that the provincial public sector in Newfoundland is unusually large and growing rapidly.  I accepted this conclusion on first reading, but today when I happened upon the post a second time I started to wonder.  Since so many public services go to the elderly (healthcare) and the young (education) who are not normally part of the workforce, isn't it more appropriate to compare public sector employment to the population, rather than to total employment?

So here is what I found.  The following chart shows public sector employment (minus federal general government and federal government business enterprises) as a percentage of population.  Note that the time period is reduced because the data I used only goes back to 2001.

By this measure, it is the prairie provinces Manitoba and Saskatchewan that have historically had the largest public sectors and the large anglophone provinces Alberta, BC and Ontario that have the smallest public sectors. Ten years ago NL was with the rest of the provinces in the middle, but over the last five years we have jumped up to join the prairie provinces.  By this measure, our public sector is big and growing but isn't an outlier.  When compared only to the smaller provinces (those under 3 million people) we have remained somewhere in the middle.

Another reasonable measure is public sector wages as a share of GDP.  Here is the chart.
By this measure the NL public sector dropped from the highest to the second lowest, before climbing back up to the middle of the pack (update:  This is due mostly to the recent economic boom that has driven up GDP.  Public sector wages have actually been rising in real terms).

Together, these charts tell a different story than the one told by Labradore.  The public sector has certainly grown over the last decade, but we have also become wealthier as a province so we can afford to spend more on public services.  If you compare us to the other five provinces with populations under 3 million we seem to be about average.

On the whole, I think it is reasonable to argue that the public sector may be growing too quickly, but it certainly isn't scandalously large by national standards.

Sources: Statistics Canada, CANSIM tables 183-0002, 384-002, 051-0001.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Re-Occupy Harbourside Park: Oct 14-15, 2012


Signs greeting people upon entry into the park
for the 1-year celebration

Within ten minutes of erecting the first tents in Harbourside Park, the security guy told us that we did not have permission to do what we were doing and that we had a choice: either we leave now or stay "at our peril." 

We opted to put out the Occupy People's Library instead, and enjoy the beautiful day while we freely shared ideas and concerns and re-energized the park as a place of public protest.

By late afternoon, we had an impromptu General Assembly. Much of the opinions
expressed here became part of Justin's  coverage in the Indy.

 Harbourside Kitchen brewed a pot of delicious Chinese tea and then served up a pot of Carrot and Red Lentil Dahl for everyone.

We infused the park with creativity, carving out a space for people to reclaim their power  and express themselves.

Fun protest art!

An exhaustive collection of news clippings
charting the Occupy journey

Security never came back, so we occupied the park for one night and woke up to a beautiful sunrise.

Happy 1-year anniversary Occupy NL! 



Following the Arab Spring, the Indignados movement in Spain, and the rise of Occupy Wall Street in NYC last September, Occupy spread to Canada on October 15, 2011, a day of worldwide protest (a call for #GlobalChange). Occupy NL set up camp in Harbourside Park, in downtown St. John's, establishing what became the longest standing occupation in Canada. 

To mark the anniversary of this event, we will re-occupy Harbourside Park for one day and one night, starting at 2pm on Sunday, October 14th. We are planning a number of events (more details when they become available) and we will be collecting donations for a local food bank. Supporters of the movement are welcome to join us, or simply to stop by and say hello. Solidarity! Please email us if you'd like to be involved in any way (as a performer, speaker, artist...)!

Tentative schedule of events:

-  2 pm — Arrival (Sunday, Oct 14)
-  3 pm — Speeches
- 4 pm — Musicians, performers, poetry, etc
- 6 pm — Food care of Harbourside Kitchen and donations
- 7 -9 pm — Slideshow, videos, etc via outdoor projector

via United for Global Change #o15 from 2011:
The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay. This intolerable situation must end.

United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future. We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers who do not represent us.

On October 15th, we will meet on the streets to initiate the global change we want. We will peacefully demonstrate, talk and organize until we make it happen.

It’s time for us to unite. It’s time for them to listen.

 This October 14-15, come celebrate our 1-year anniversary and reflect on how far we've come as a movement, and what's to come. Make some noise. And bring your tent. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Protest at Happy Valley-Goose Bay's Town Office

Press release via Friends of Grand River/Mistashipu

Friends of Grand River/Mistashipu Concerned about Mayor Abbass’s Potential Conflict of Interest

Friends of Grand River/Mistashipu (FOGR/M) have requested that Mayor Abbass and the Town Council of Happy Valley-Goose Bay hold a public meeting to explain to its residents how there is no conflict of interest in relation to the mayor’s various positions. In addition to Mayor Abbass’s appointment to Nalcor’s Board, he has also publicly taken the stand with Peter Woodward’s pro Muskrat Falls business group.

We at FOGR/M are concerned about the adjacency principle and lack of consultation since the mayor’s appointment to these groups. We are further concerned about how all residents are being represented as plans move forward. Many of us in FOGR/M are residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and do not feel represented, consulted, or considered as he takes such a vocal public stand for the project.

FOGR/M will be continuing protests at the town office until we feel these concerns are being publicly addressed. A letter will also be presented to the Town Council on October 12, 2012 requesting the same. It is our position that a well-advertised public meeting called by the town council would give ample opportunity for all residents to come and understand how these various positions do not put the mayor and town council in a conflict of interest in representing all of the electorate.

Friends of Grand River/Mistashipu believe in a common mission, to protect and preserve all Labrador Rivers, including our efforts to Save Muskrat Falls! FOGR/M believe this government proposed megaproject to create a hydroelectric dam at Muskrat Falls that will eventually lead to potentially damming of other Labrador rivers is wrong, our reasons are varied, still the end decision the same - it is not a healthy project for anyone involved. FOGR/M are committed to stopping it! Search us on Facebook for more information.


via Friends of Grand River/Mistashipu

Friends of Grand River/Mistashipu would like to invite you to

Happy Valley-Goose Bay's Town Office
Friday, October 5 at 12pm

to join us in protest of the Muskrat Falls Hydro Project.

We are all aware that Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Leo Abbass is now a NALCOR Board Member, and we'd like to hear from him and how Labrador and his community is going to benefit from this project in the long run? How is he looking out for the interests of the Labradorians and residents who elected him? And why has he made no public presentations to inform us of why he's on this board, what this project will mean to all of us, and will he allow us any input at all as this moves forward!? 

Read more at the Facebook Event Page