2014 - No. 58
Fort McMurray--Athabasca Federal
Nation-Wrecking Austerity Agenda!
McMurray--Athabasca Federal By-Election
• Defeat Harper's
Anti-Worker, Nation-Wrecking Austerity Agenda!
• It Can Be Done! Make a
Difference on June 30!
• Campaign Launched to Protect Learning at
Athabasca University - Dougal MacDonald
• Fort McMurray All-Party
Forum on Temporary Foreign Worker Program
• Protest at Minister of Employment and Social
Development's Office in Calgary
• Rally in Fort McMurray Against
Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Defeat Harper's Anti-Worker,
one vote for Harper in the Ft. McMurray--Athabasca federal by-election!
The four federal by-elections taking place on June
30 are an important opportunity for working people to take an
independent stand. Through a concrete analysis in each riding, the
working class movement can develop its practical politics to oppose the
Harper dictatorship's attacks on
the rights of all, its low-wage agenda, nation-wrecking and complete
hand-over of the public authority to private monopoly interests.
According to the Harper dictatorship,
global monopolies and their political representatives have the right to
decide every question concerning the economy and the well-being of the
workers and their communities. Harper's wrecking ball awaits all those
who get in his way and the private
monopoly interests he represents.
The working class can smash Harper's delusion that
he is all-powerful and that the people are incapable of organizing an
effective opposition. Workers have to prove to themselves and society
generally that they not only have the right to decide but also the
courage and determination to organize
to bring that right into being. They must show the world the human
factor/social consciousness in action and that workers and their allies
are willing to take up the organized practical politics necessary to
gain the legal right to decide and control society and their fate.
Alberta Workers Are Not in Harper's Bag
No doubt Harper and his gang consider that the
by-elections in Alberta are "in the bag." They are very confident that
their political system works to silence the organized voice of working
people. According to the ruling elite, workers
are not capable of thinking for themselves and developing their own
independent politics and direction for the economy and society. In Fort
McMurray--Athabasca, concrete measures to defeat the Harper
Conservatives in this
by-election will make the independent voice of the working class heard
loud and clear across
Workers have already taken initiatives to use the
election to demand that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) be
scrapped and replaced with an immigration policy that recognizes the
rights of all and serves the public interest and nation-building. Human
trafficking of vulnerable
workers from around the world under any excuse is a vestige of the
slave trade and must be abolished. The international trade in workers
drives down wages, degrades working conditions and tramples on the
rights of all. Voting no to Harper means voting no to the TFWP. (See
below for upcoming actions to oppose the TFWP.)
The TFWP is just one aspect of the anti-worker,
anti-social austerity agenda of the Harperites and their allies in
Alberta. They have launched vicious attacks on unions and criminalized
workers for defending their right to wages and working conditions
commensurate with their work and qualifications.
They have gutted health and safety legislation putting workers and
communities at risk. Scientists have been muzzled; transportation and
environmental safeguards deregulated; public funds given to private
interests in the form of direct subsidies or free infrastructure;
health care, education and government
itself are being privatized to pay the rich and transfer wealth from
the working class to the ruling elite. Warmongering has reached such a
fever pitch that Harper boasts that he has "beaten his ploughshares
Show Harper and his gang that Alberta workers do
not accept his neo-liberal direction and are definitely not "in the
bag." Not one vote for Harper!
A New Direction for the Economy
The people of Ft. Mac know very well the enormous
wealth they create through their hard work, skills and experience. As
the creators of wealth, the working people together with the First
Nations on whose ancestral lands the resources are found have the right
to decide and control the direction of the economy and society on which
their lives depend.
The by-election is an
opportunity to oppose the
ripping and shipping of raw resources and the refusal of the monopolies
and governments to build a self-reliant economy beyond resource
extraction. The by-election is an occasion to discuss amongst the
people that a new direction for the economy is possible with
vibrant development of upgrading, refining and manufacturing, public
enterprise and social programs, a new direction that protects Mother
Earth and guarantees the health, well-being and rights of First
Nations, workers and their communities and families. It is the duty of
government to make sure workers are provided with proper and safe
working conditions and safe and affordable living conditions. Fort
McMurray is a good place to start.
Let's go all out to use the by-elections to
organize and prepare to defeat Harper in the coming general federal
election as well. Let's put an end to the delusions of Harper and his
flunkies that the working people of Alberta are in their pocket and
will accept whatever anti-worker assaults, anti-democratic manoeuvres,
corruption and contempt for the well-being of Canadians that the
Harperites dish out.
All out to defeat Harper and raise the independent
voice of the working people! Make a difference during this by-election
by organizing and fighting for change on June 30!
It Can Be Done! Make A Difference on June 30!
By-elections traditionally have
a low voter
turnout. In Fort McMurray--Athabasca, voter turnout is one of the
lowest in the country with only 40 per cent of registered voters
casting a ballot in 2011. Harper and his Alberta cronies think the Ft.
Mac by-election is a slam-dunk for the Tories.
In 2011, the Conservatives received 17,000 more
votes than the NDP, which came second in the past two federal
elections. At first glance, it does look like an overwhelming lead, but
looks can be deceiving. Things appear different when considering the
fact that 44,707 registered voters did not
vote. The Conservatives won the seat with the votes of only 30 per cent
of registered voters while over 60 per cent did not vote and around 10
per cent voted against Harper's candidate. That is not an overwhelming
Conservative lead, if half those registered voters can be persuaded to
vote no to Harper
and some who voted for his candidate could be encouraged to change
their vote this time. Harper can be defeated so long as the workers of
Fort McMurray do not sit this one out and instead engage actively in
the fight for change!
A defeat for the Harper dictatorship, especially
in Fort McMurray--Athabasca would show the rest of Canada that it can
be done! By going all-out in the by-election to defeat the anti-social
austerity agenda and the attacks on the right of all, workers can start
sorting out the ways and means
for a Harper defeat in the coming general election.
You can make a difference by contacting three
people and asking them to each call or speak to three more. If you do
not live in the riding, contact your friends, family and workers in
your sector or union so they can contact someone in the riding
directly. You can also organize to come to Ft.
Mac to participate directly in the campaign.
For those in the riding, make sure that your
employer provides everyone with three consecutive hours off while the
polls are open to go and vote with no loss of pay. Together we can make
By law, qualified electors must have three
consecutive hours to cast their vote on Election Day. If your hours of
work do not allow three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must
give you time off with no deduction in pay.
Polls are open from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm on
Election Day. For example if your shift is 7 am to 7 pm, your
employer could allow you to arrive at work at 10:30 am, leave at 4:30
pm or take three consecutive hours off during the day. The employer
can decide which option to provide. This rule may not
apply if you work in transportation such as the railway or long-haul
trucking. In that case, you should vote in the advance polls.
Campaign Launched to Protect Learning at
The tutors at online Athabasca University (AU) in
the Fort McMurray-Athabasca federal riding have just launched a
campaign called "Protect Learning at Athabasca University." The tutors
are opposing the administration's arbitrary attempt to convert AU from
its original and very successful
tutor-learner teaching model into a glorified call centre. The
approximately 300 tutors organized in Canadian Union of Public
Employees Local 3911 are the part-time contract academic staff teaching
most of AU's online courses.
The administration move toward the call centre
model is based solely on what they misleadingly call "cost-saving,"
which simply amounts to attacking the livelihood of the workers. At
present, the tutors receive a salary called block pay, which is based
on how many students the tutor is responsible
for plus added payment for marking. Moving to the call centre model
would eliminate all block pay and turn tutors totally into
pieceworkers. An added problem has arisen for those tutors already
forced into the call centre model, administrators are blocking their
legitimate pay claims for certain items
on their timesheets.
The acceleration of the AU administration's call
centre agenda began after the Alberta provincial government cut $147
million from the operating budgets of Alberta's 26
post-secondary educational institutions in its March 2013 budget.
Instead of helping organize resistance to the cuts,
the AU administration caved in to provincial blackmail and is trying to
shift the burden of the underfunding onto the backs of the tutors and
other staff through lay-offs, furlough days, salary cuts, course cuts,
and so on.
The centre of the tutors' opposition campaign is a
public website, www.protectlearningatau.ca, which begins with this
preamble: "Athabasca University wants to move its courses to a call
centre model of distance learning. This is a bad idea! It is a bad idea
for students. It is a bad idea for instructors.
It is a bad idea for education. The call centre model will put barriers
between students and instructors. It will provide less academic
instruction and assistance for the same tuition cost. It devalues the
programs and puts the reputation and integrity of Athabasca University
The "Protect Learning at AU" website includes a
"Background" link to a very comprehensive discussion of why the tutors
want to keep the tutor-learner model. A number of tutors and other AU
staff have compiled extensive material to aid the discussion. To place
the fight against the call centre
in context, the discussion includes the debunking of both the Alberta
provincial government's phony argument that it must cut funding for
post-secondary education (even though the energy monopolies are making
big profits) and the AU administration's lame attempt to portray tutors
as a "cost" rather
than what they really are, the producers of much of the value at AU
through their teaching.
The federal Conservative government is also to
blame for the cuts to post-secondary funding in Alberta because it has
drastically reduced the amounts transferred to the provinces to help
fund post-secondary education. According to the Canadian Federation of
Students fact sheet on funding
for post-secondary education: "In spite of
federal budget surpluses for most of the decade, federal cash transfers
for post-secondary education in the last decade have declined by 50
percent when measured as a proportion of GDP. When accounting for
inflation and increases
in enrolment, cash transfers are still over $400 million short of 1992
The "Protect Learning at AU" website asks people
to sign on to a short open letter that states: "I am concerned about
Athabasca University's move toward a ‘call centre' model of distance
education. Instead of direct contact with their instructors, students
will have to call or email to a centre
staffed by non-academics who decide if the students should talk with
The website has only been open a few days but
already has 405 signatures, as of June 15. Other plans for the tutors'
campaign include distributing "Protect Learning at AU.ca" buttons and
appearing at AU events with pro-tutor-learner model literature.
1. See http://cfs-fcee.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/11/Fact-Sheet-Funding-2013-11-En.pdf
Fort McMurray All-Party Forum on
Temporary Foreign Worker
Monday, June 16 -- 7:00 pm
Legion, 9317 Huggard St.
The Alberta Federation of Labour is holding an
all-party forum on the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
(#TFWP) in Fort McMurray. All are welcome to attend.
Protest at Minister of Employment and
Social Development's Office in Calgary
Thursday, June 19 -- 12:00 noon
Minister Jason Kenney's Constituency Office, 1168 - 137 Ave. SE
Organized by: Migrante
A little over a month ago,
Minister of Employment
and Social Development Canada Jason Kenney, imposed a nation-wide
moratorium on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the food service
sector. The Minister has not given any timeline for the moratorium nor
any information on it.
Many migrants whose work permits have expired or
are expiring soon and those who are waiting for Labour Market Opinions
or Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program nominations are in a bad
situation. Their status is in limbo and their numbers continue to grow
every day. The moratorium ignores the impact
on the workers already here in Canada. A large number of these migrants
will also be affected by the four-year cap by April 1, 2015.
We will be mobilizing at Jason Kenney's office in
Calgary to say that permanent immigration and not a nation of guest
workers is the right and just way to go. Immigration Not Deportation!
For folks coming from Edmonton, transportation and
lunch will be provided. We will meet at the Century Park LRT Station
parking lot. The bus will leave at 8 am sharp and will be bringing
Rally in Fort McMurray Against
Saturday, June 28 -- 2:00 pm
Provincial Building, 9915 Franklin Ave.
Organized by: Canadians
Against the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
For information: Facebook
A demonstration for those against the Temporary Foreign
Worker Program (TFWP).
This rally is being held in Fort McMurray two days before the federal
in Fort McMurray-Athabasca. This is an
important event for all people in Fort McMurray and the region who are
worried more projects will be turned into a mess because of the TFWP,
like the Kearl Oils Sands Project and the Sunrise Energy Project.
Please come out and send a message to the candidates in this election
that Canadians do not want this program!
Free transportation by bus will be provided from camps
from Fort McMurray to as far north as Firebag, wherever enough workers
come forward. Please speak up if you would like to attend and require