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September 16, 2014 - No. 74

Organize for the People's Empowerment!

Alberta Premier's Agenda to Smash Resistance and Impose Monopoly Dictate




Organize for the People's Empowerment!
Alberta Premier's Agenda to Smash Resistance and Impose Monopoly Dictate - Peggy Morton 

End Colonial Justice!
Condemn Racist Attacks on the Lubicon Nation! Stand with Chief Bernard Ominayak!

Our Security and Future Lie in the Fight for the Rights of All!
Hold Prentice Government to Account for Layoffs at Seniors' Homes!
Workers in Action to Stop Layoffs at Shepherd's Care in Edmonton
- Peggy Askin 
"Business Models" for Seniors' Care Have No Place in a Modern Society
- Rita Soto

Coming Events
Information Pickets at Shepherd's Care Foundation Sites in Edmonton


Organize for the People's Empowerment!

Alberta Premier's Agenda to Smash Resistance and Impose Monopoly Dictate

Jim Prentice, newly appointed leader of the PC Party in Alberta and Premier-elect, has toured Canada making speeches to the political and economic elite since leaving Harper's cabinet in 2011. He has been giving governments their marching orders with a recurrent theme for the need to "get the job done" to build infrastructure to access markets for bitumen from the Alberta oil sands.

Prentice has gone from one end of Canada to the other with his message that building the necessary infrastructure to move oil and gas to the Pacific coast and Asia must become a "national focus" for Canada. In particular, he stresses the need for infrastructure to transport diluted bitumen to Asia. "In the time after 2020 -- and arguably after 2017 -- Canada will need to access growing Asian markets to sustain oil sands production increases. Virtually all incremental demand lies in non-OECD countries, especially those in Asia," said Prentice this January, a point which he has constantly reiterated.[1]

Prentice argues that without markets in Asia, the Canadian government will have no clout to convince the U.S. administration to keep U.S. markets open for bitumen from the oil sands. He pleads that it is all-important to change the current equation before 2017 when a new U.S. president assumes office. Markets to Asia are important in themselves, he stresses, but also a necessary bargaining chip with the U.S. administration. The old equation established under Nixon and continued through the regimes of George Bush where Canada is the supplier and the U.S. a reliable market no longer exists under the new conditions when the U.S. is awash with oil.

In the months before Prentice threw his hat into the ring to become the Alberta PC leader and Premier of Alberta, he was recruited by Enbridge to "lead renewed efforts to consult with and establish partnerships with First Nations and Aboriginal communities in British Columbia and Alberta." His assignment was organized in March 2014 and was expected to last about eight months. It was cut short when Premier Alison Redford resigned and Prentice announced he was entering the race to replace her.

Prentice's job for Enbridge was to assess the resistance of the First Nations in BC and Alberta to the Northern Gateway pipeline project and look for ways to eliminate the resistance. He took on this assignment while Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice-Chairman of CIBC Bank.

As a former Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Prentice is well aware that the federal government has a constitutional duty for consultation and accommodation of the First Nations. They have the right to agree or not to agree with a pipeline through their territories or any development for that matter. This duty of the federal government cannot be transferred to a private monopoly like Enbridge as the Harper government has done.

In abdicating its constitutional responsibilities, the federal government has sidelined the public authority and given private monopolies such as Enbridge the task of negotiating with First Nations. This reveals the extent to which governments have come under the direct dictate of the most powerful monopolies and private interests have been politicized. Prentice is an example of how much the line between "public" and "private" life has been erased under the direct rule of the monopolies, as executives move seamlessly from a "public" role to a "private" one and back again, all the while serving the same master.

In the Enbridge press release, Prentice said, "I am doing this because I believe that First Nations should be full partners in resource development and they should be owners of projects like the Northern Gateway. This project can bring jobs, economic opportunity, community development and educational opportunities to First Nation Canadians. This can be achieved while protecting the environment and respecting First Nation's environmental priorities. I have repeatedly said that the Northern Gateway project represents an opportunity for Aboriginal Peoples and the country."

Enbridge executives praised Prentice as a man who has successfully negotiated land claim settlements and served as federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development where he negotiated the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, reformed the Specific Claims process, oversaw the Maa-nulth and Tsawwassen First Nation Settlements in British Columbia and the conclusion of the Gwaii Haanas Marine Conservation Area Agreement with the Haida. Enbridge implied that Prentice could do what the Harper dictatorship has failed to do in stemming the resistance of First Nations and the broad support amongst Canadians for their stand in defence of their hereditary, constitutional and treaty rights.

The Harper dictatorship has as its aim to extinguish the rights of First Nations, and does so acting on behalf of the most powerful monopolies in defence of monopoly right. It clings to a racist 19th century colonial outlook, and refuses to develop nation-to-nation relations of mutual respect and benefit with First Nations. It refuses to recognize the right of First Nations, Métis and Inuit to develop their own economic base.

Prentice serves his monopoly master, and as such claims to stand for partnership with First Nations. His arrangement is not based on the recognition of rights but on the old colonial rule of "might makes right" in which people agree to cooperate to serve their mutual interests as dictated by the most powerful.

Prentice and his monopoly masters refuse to accept that colonial partnerships are finished. Partnerships today can only exist on a new and modern basis. They must begin with the affirmation of the modern conception of rights. Rights are inherent and belong to people by virtue of being human. Specific hereditary rights belong to the Indigenous peoples because of their being. The questions of rights and nation-to-nation relations brought forward by the Indigenous peoples for solution are fundamental to modernizing and renewing the political, economic, social and constitutional arrangements in Canada and are of immense concern to the entire polity.

Our Future Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!

Note

1. Speech: Jim Prentice, Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice Chairman of CIBC to the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, January 9, 2014. Enbridge, March press release.

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End Colonial Justice!

Condemn Racist Attacks on the Lubicon Nation!
Stand with Chief Bernard Ominayak!

The Harper government has launched yet another racist assault on the Lubicon Lake Nation and Chief Bernard Ominayak. The Lubicon nation has won great respect and admiration the world over for its fierce defence of its hereditary rights, while successive Canadian governments have stonewalled negotiations with the aim of smashing the nation's resistance and stealing its lands.

In the latest assault against the Lubicon, the laws, customs and traditions of governance of the Lubicon are being deliberately misrepresented so as to claim that Chief Ominayak is not the legitimate Chief of the Lubicon Lake nation. Further, Chief Ominayak and his family are being accused of enriching themselves at the expense of their nation when it is well known that Chief Ominayak has defended his nation at great personal sacrifice. TML calls on everyone to take a stand against this vile racist activity of the Harper government.

The Lubicon Lake Nation is a sovereign and self-determining Cree nation with a well-defined traditional territory located in north-central Alberta that it continues to occupy and protect. Lubicon Lake Nation was never approached in 1899 when Treaty Commissioners travelled through what is now Alberta to sign Treaty 8. The Lubicon people never surrendered or ceded their land or signed a treaty. They have been fighting for decades to have their nation, nationhood and territory respected and boundaries honoured. They have participated in negotiations repeatedly but the government of Canada has never been willing to resolve their outstanding land claim.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled in 1990 that Canada had violated the human rights of the Lubicon, failed to recognize and protect Lubicon rights to their land, and that intensive oil and gas development had devastated the Lubicon economy and way of life. Twenty-four years later, Canada has yet to conclude a negotiated settlement with the Lubicon nation. The conditions of life are a shame and stain on Canada, with the Lubicon people lacking even running water and a sewage system in their community while the oil and gas companies grow rich from the plunder of their resources.

The Lubicon nation upholds its traditional form and content of government in accordance with its customs, laws and traditions. The Lubicon website explains, "We are governed by a Chief and family heads. Our government is reliant upon and informed by the leadership provided by our Elders' Council. This is the form our government has always taken. While we are united in our goals as a government, the layering of Chief, our Elected Councillors and Elders' Council provides us with the assurance that all interests are included in decision making, that authority is shared amongst the Nation and that families who want input into governance have the same.


Map shows unceded Lubicon territory in yellow.

"These customs, laws and traditions are well known to our citizenship and are recorded in our oral traditions and history. Our Chief for life is Chief Bernard Ominayak and he governs in concert with our Elders' Council and our Elected Councillors."

The Lubicon Lake Nation website explains the firm response of the people of the Lubicon nation to the dirty dealings of the Harper government: "Attempts to divide our Nation, or to forcefully push for roles in our governance for parties perceived as amenable to Canadian standards and authorities have repeatedly been quashed by our citizens. We stand unified and as strong as ever; we maintain our sovereignty, our territoriality and our humanity in the face of powerful challenges by the federal and provincial governments."

In true racist and colonialist fashion, the Harper government has refused to recognize the election of Chief Ominayak, an election conducted according to the Lubicon's own law. The fact that the Chief Electoral Officer for the election was the Electoral Officer for the Assembly of First Nations who has extensive experience and knowledge of custom code elections has been deliberately suppressed by the monopoly media who are trying to whip up racist hysteria. With utter colonial arrogance, the Harper dictatorship gives itself the right to declare null and void any election where it does not approve of the results.

TML calls on all people to condemn the racist attacks on Chief Ominayak, which heap scorn on the right of the Lubicon to choose their form of government. The heart of the issue is the refusal of the Harper and other governments before it to conduct relations with the First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis and to recognize their rights. The attempt to force the Lubicon to abandon their own traditional and custom law and submit to the colonial Indian Act must be condemned by all who value democracy and uphold the rights of First Nations to their way of life according to the two-road wampum.

Stand with the Lubicon Nation in Defence of
Its Hereditary and Constitutional Rights!

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Our Security and Future Lie in the Fight for the Rights of All!

Hold Prentice Government to Account for Layoffs at Seniors' Homes!

Alberta's Premier-elect Jim Prentice recently stated that he would increase the pace of the Alberta Supportive Living Initiative, "partnering" with the private sector and with "faith communities" to fund more seniors' housing. "Since time immemorial it has been our faith communities that have provided compassionate care to our senior citizens," he said. "And indeed, if you look back at some of the finest facilities in Alberta, they began as faith-based initiatives ... [in] partnership with government."

Instead of reversing the closure of long-term care beds and moving quickly with construction of new public facilities, Prentice says that he will provide public funding to private monopolies as well as "faith-based" providers to build various levels of assisted living facilities. Assisted or supportive living does not provide the comprehensive care provided in long-term care facilities, forcing seniors to pay for a wide range of care and services or go without. This is an affront to their rights and dignity.

The layoffs at Shepherd's Care are further proof that the government is evading its social responsibilities to ensure that all seniors can live with dignity and security in retirement. Shepherd's Care President John Pray warned in January 2013 that funding from Alberta Health Services (AHS) was insufficient and if no change were coming, it would have to consider layoffs or reductions in care. At that time, Shepherd's Care workers were told of a three-year plan. Hours were cut in year one (2013), now 157 staff are being laid off in year two, and the workers are not sure what to expect in year three.

John Pray's silence during these devastating layoffs on the need for more public funding appears to be the price of "doing business" with the Alberta government. Shepherd's Care depends on government funding not only to realize the value workers produce but also for a major expansion, which includes a new 140 unit high-rise condo tower with an adjoining 54-bed extended care facility.

AHS also remains silent about the layoffs, as if it has no responsibility for the facilities it funds or the consequences of its funding cuts. The entire AHS Board was fired by former Minister of Health Fred Horne in June 2013, who in turn has now been fired by newly installed Premier Jim Prentice and replaced by former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, who has not been elected to the Legislature. The AHS is now under direct control of the Prentice government. Prentice should be forced to intervene to stop the layoffs. The Prentice government must provide a full accounting as to whether Shepherd's Care is provided sufficient funding to pay support staff wages commensurate with their work and the value they produce, and to provide sufficient staff to meet the needs of the residents. The government must be held to account for its failure to guarantee the rights of seniors and the workers who care for them!

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Workers in Action to Stop Layoffs at
Shepherd's Care in Edmonton

 
Information Picket on September 15, 2014 at the Shepherd's Care Foundation
Millwoods site, one of five held on September 15 and 16.

Workers from five seniors' care centres operated by Shepherd's Care Foundation in Edmonton have gone into action to block 157 layoffs. Shepherd's Care has announced the contracting out of 157 positions in housekeeping, food services and maintenance on September 4. All workers now providing those services will be thrown out on the street with their jobs contracted out to a yet unknown worker trafficking company.

The workers held a meeting on September 9, to plan their campaign to stop the layoffs and the contracting out of their jobs. "The workers are determined to fight these layoffs," Alberta Union of Provincial Employees' (AUPE) Vice-President Karen Weiers reported. "We will be raising awareness about our concerns with residents and their families, the church communities affiliated with Shepherd's Care, and with the general public. We all have a stake in the quality of care provided to Alberta seniors."

The AUPE immediately filed an Unfair Labour Practice complaint at the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB). The complaint states that the Shepherd's Care Foundation is laying off the workers and outsourcing their jobs in an attempt to avoid its legal obligation to bargain a new contract in good faith. Negotiations were to begin next month for a new collective agreement, with the existing one about to expire. Weiers stated that Shepherd's Care did not even respond to the notice to begin bargaining, but instead made the announcement to outsource the jobs.

The framework for today's labour relations took shape in the post-World War II era. Known as the social contract, it was meant to provide labour peace for the employers, and in return, they would recognize the right of workers to organize collectively with limited bargaining rights within which the state would provide funding for social programs.

The social contract has been shattered as workers are being deprived of their right to organize, bargain collectively and enjoy security of employment, while social programs are starved of necessary funding. This particular employer and many others during the anti-social offensive simply refuse to come to the table and negotiate; they fire unionized workers and bring in worker trafficking hooligans to supply non-union workers. This is neither labour peace nor a civilized way to conduct employer/employee relations but rather open class warfare against the working class.

Workers are thrown onto the street to be replaced by trafficked workers at lower wages, fewer benefits, no pension and no organization. The right to organize and bargain collectively is not recognized resulting in no security of employment and downward pressure on the standard of living. This is open class warfare not labour peace and the working class has to respond with tactics and actions with analysis to defend their rights!

Demand the ALRB Declare the Layoffs Illegal!
Demand the Government Increase Investments in Social Programs!
Shepherd's Care Must Rescind the Layoffs Immediately, Recognize the Rights of the Workers and Bargain Terms of Employment in Good Faith!
Join the just struggle of Shepherd's Care workers;
Participate Actively in Defence of Their Rights!

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"Business Models" for Seniors' Care
Have No Place in a Modern Society

On September 4, Shepherd's Care announced the layoff of 157 workers in a statement called, "Shepherd's Care Adjusts Business Model." The statement says, "It was with our growing numbers of residents in mind that Shepherd's Care recently made the decision to partner with a third party food and housekeeping professional organization who is able to deliver the high level of food and housekeeping service that our residents expect and allow us to increase resources to our primary area of focus -- the care of the residents within all Shepherd's Care communities."

Shepherd's Care declares that the well-being and rights of its workers do not figure in to its "business model." Such thinking does not belong in a modern society based on recognition of the rights of all. Shepherd's Care dismisses workers as being outside the "primary area of focus," which is said to be the care of the residents. According to this anti-social outlook, the well-being of the workers has no bearing on the care of the residents and is even in contradiction with them. The statement suggests that care of residents is not provided by human beings who have rights as human beings and who must be provided the living and working conditions they need to do their work, but by lesser human beings deprived of their rights.

Calling itself a "non-profit" as a badge of honour, Shepherd's Care touts a capital-centred "business model" that considers the workers a cost of producing goods and service, which must be cut to the bone. This outlook opposes a modern human-centred one, which recognizes workers as a source of value, the essential human factor in the production of goods and services, certainly not a cost of production.

"Third party food and housekeeping professional organizations" are businesses organized for private profit, most often big monopolies that prey on the insecurity of unorganized workers. The main concern of those businesses is neither the well-being of the residents nor the workers but how much of the value workers produce can be siphoned off into their own coffers. They are essentially "third party" worker-trafficking parasites who have no business operating in the socialized economy. Their sole role is to skim off the value the trafficked workers produce, removing it from the sector and even from the economy for other "get rich" schemes around the globe.

Similar to workers throughout the health care and seniors' care sector, support staff at Shepherd's Care produces value beyond what they receive in very modest wages and benefits. This value is the target of businesses and government alike. The Shepherd's Care statement proposes that some of the value presently claimed by the workers should be seized by a worker-trafficking outsourcing monopoly. The 157 layoffs confirm this treacherous aim.

Owners of capital, such as the third party worker-traffickers trying to seize control of Shepherd Care's food and housekeeping work, exact a claim on the value workers produce by attacking workers' organizations, wages, benefits and working conditions, reducing the care and services provided to residents and demanding increased payments from the government. This must not pass!

Seniors' care workers perform an invaluable service to society and the seniors in their care. They are producers of value and have rights and a legitimate claim on the value they produce. They cannot and should not be considered a cost to the work they perform. A pro-social program declares that the value workers produce beyond their claims should lead to increased investments in public seniors' care or other social programs, and should not be targeted as a source of private profit.

Increasing investments in public seniors' care includes recognizing the right of workers to wages, benefits and pensions commensurate with their work and qualifications and the value they produce, and recognizing and dealing directly with their defence organizations. The anti-social agenda of Shepherd's Care and the government demands that value produced by the workers be siphoned off as private corporate profit or through director's fees and expenses, or put into government coffers to be used to pay the rich instead of increasing investments in social programs or to improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of seniors' care workers.

The fight taking place at Shepherd's Care is a fight for the rights and dignity of both workers and our seniors who require and deserve the best care society can provide. This issue is one of rights and the necessity to recognize the rights of all and the general interests of society. It concerns everyone, not only because a just fight deserves everyone's support, but also because so much is at stake for the future well-being of all and our society.

All Out to Support the Shepherd's Care Workers!
Stop the Layoffs!
Increase Investments in Social Programs!
Our Future and Security Lie in the Fight to Defend the Rights of All!

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Coming Events

Information Pickets at Shepherd's Care Foundation Sites in Edmonton

Stop the Layoffs at Shepherd's Care!

September 16
9:30am
Kensington Campus, 12603 - 135 Ave.

12:30pm
Southside Manor,10745 - 29 Ave.

2:30pm
Greenfield, 3820 - 114 St.

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