Mar 302013


Planning Session to Oppose the Federal Budget

by the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council

April 4, 6:30pm-8:30pm
3700 Kempt Rd, Halifax

The Conservative government has introduced another budget full of cuts and attacks on workers, our families, our communities and our environment.

Soon, it is highly likely the Conservatives will release yet another omnibus Budget Implementation Act.

The Executive of the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council has approved a motion calling on the Labour Council to work with our social movement allies to help organize creative resistance to the federal budget and promote alternatives.

In this spirit, we would like to invite individuals and organizations opposed to the federal budget to come to a planning meeting.


Our European Gamble: How Canada-EU free trade hurts Atlantic Canada

by the Council of Canadians Atlantic Office

April 5, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Dalhousie McCain Building, Room 2198, Halifax

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement could be signed within weeks. Join us for a brown bag (bring your own) lunch-and-learn on the negative impacts this deal will have on Nova Scotia, and why it’s not too late for the Dexter government to walk away from CETA.


Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia Director for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, co-author of the new report CETA and Nova Scotia: Who Pays for ‘Free’ Trade?

Stuart Trew, Trade Campaigner for The Council of Canadians, author of The CETA Deception: How the Harper government’s public relations campaign misrepresents the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

Contact for more information.
Coffee and refreshments will be provided.

Sponsored by:
The Council of Canadians
The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour
The Canadians Centre for Policy Alternatives


Urgent Briefing and Action Planning

By the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council

April 20, 9:30am-4:30pm
Location TBA, Halifax

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are preparing to attack workers and our unions like never before.

This time they are targeting union and job security by attacking the Rand Formula. US-style Right-to-Work laws are making their way North of the border.

Join the Halifax Dartmouth & District Labour Council for a one day briefing and action planning symposium on the Union Security/Right-to-Work/Rand Formula debate.

This symposium is designed for local union executives, stewards, activists and interested union members. The symposium is also open to our social movement allies and community members.

The morning will be a interactive presentation about what this means for us as workers and for our workplaces. It will provide tips on how to talk about the issue with our co-workers and fellow union members. Materials will be provided to take back to the workplace.

The afternoon will focus on building resistance to the attacks on the working class and will be a participatory action planning session. Bring your ideas and creativity!

Lunch provided.
$15 or pay what you can.
Mar 222013

Been hearing about anti-capitalism?

Ever been involved in progressive organizing or activism that didn’t feel effective?

Ever felt that different political issues and problems were actually related, and yet everyone is so busy spending every night of the week going to different events/meetings/talks/discussions that it’s hard to get things done?

Solidarity Halifax Students are hosting a facilitated discussion and social afternoon on the ideas of anti-capitalism and how this relates to our organizing on and off university campuses in Halifax.

The discussion will be based around a series of questions, that may or may not be pulled out of a jar in the middle of the room.

Invite anyone you think might be interested!


WHEN: Saturday March 23, 1:30 PM

WHERE: Downstairs at the Wired Monk Cafe, 5147 Morris St.


Mar 172013


Thursday, March 21, noon

Meet at Victoria Park, march down Spring Garden, gather at Parade Square.

Facebook Event

Thursday is the International Day to End Racial Discrimination. The conservative governments assimilatory efforts and disregard for treaty rights is an outrageous act of racial discrimination and an attack on the First Nations people of Turtle Island.
We will march from Spring Garden rd. to Parade Square where we will have a rally to have our voices as grassroots people heard.
There will be information about the Made in Nova Scotia and Made in New Brunswick processes as well as Bill-C38 and Bill-45 and the detrimental effects it will have on L’nus, the environment and all Canadians who share these lands and waters.
And as always a round dance.

Mar 172013

The reverse side of racism against black and aboriginal people is white privilege.

By Solidarity Halifax member Ben Sichel published in The Coast’s Voice of the City series.

For white people reading this article, let me get a few things out of the way.

1. No, I’m not saying you’re a racist.
2. This is not about you feeling guilty.
3. Yes, there are things you can do to change things.

BREAKING NEWS: There is racism in Nova Scotia. By racism, I mean more than racial slurs, or even cross-burnings on people’s lawns. I’m thinking of deep-seated, hard-to-extricate institutional racism, the kind that’s led to disproportionately high rates of poverty, unemployment, incarceration and educational underachievement in black and Aboriginal communities in this province.

There are basically two ways to explain these types of inequities. Either you believe they exist because black/Aboriginal people are naturally inferior—and if that’s the case, I take back number one above—or else you accept that in some way, racism plays a role.

The current state of race relations in Nova Scotia is rooted in history. From the beginnings of European colonization, black and Aboriginal people were seen as little more than a source of cheap, unskilled labour. Promises of means to achieve better lives—like land grants—were routinely broken, and exclusionary laws barred people of colour from white churches, schools and other institutions.

For example, African Nova Scotian students attended separate, chronically underfunded schools until just a few decades ago. School integration in the 1960s and ’70s saw its own problems as black and aboriginal students were bussed long distances into often-hostile learning environments. (For more information see the enlightening Black Learners Advisory Committee Report of 1994.) As for Mi’kmaq students, the horrors of the residential school system that aimed to “kill the Indian in the child” are well-known.

There’s a flip side to all this, however. If one group of people in society has been chronically disadvantaged, that means another group has been chronically advantaged.

That is, if black and Aboriginal Nova Scotians have suffered, and continue to suffer, from systemic racism and exploitation, then white Nova Scotians have benefited, and continue to benefit, from that same racism and exploitation. This is something many people seem to have a hard time accepting (especially if they have faced discrimination of another kind, for example).

At a recent public talk, Rocky Jones, one of the province’s most prominent African Nova Scotian activists, challenged the audience to get beyond simple ideas about racism: “You might say, ‘Wait a minute man, my best friend is black…I’ve never done anything in my lifetime that is discriminatory or prejudicial. How can you say to me that I’m benefiting'” from racism?

The fact is, white Nova Scotians have always held disproportionate wealth and power in this province, whether in business or politics (Nova Scotia didn’t get its first black MLA until 1993, and no Aboriginal person has ever been elected to the legislature). That wealth and power has been passed down, and continues to be passed down, through the generations.

Today, even if your ancestors were Polish/Acadian/Jewish, if your skin is pink you benefit from living in a society where it is the norm for those who look and talk like you to hold power, be successful and have your opinions valued. No racial profiling in stores, no assumptions about your capabilities, no doubts about whether you’re being treated fairly because of your skin colour, no automatic associations of your community with crime or drugs or alcohol.

(Immigrants of colour face their own stereotypes and history in Nova Scotia, which unfortunately there isn’t space to explore here.)

As mentioned above, this isn’t about guilt. It’s about making things right. When a story comes up in the news about racial profiling, or aboriginal rights or the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, white people need to look seriously at our own place in this province’s history, and how that fits into the situation at hand.

The problems and solutions are often institutional, not individual, and therefore can be complicated. But we need to have conversations about them, recognize that those conversations are about all of us, and take the lead in dealing with our racism problem.

Ben Sichel is a teacher in Dartmouth and a member of Solidarity Halifax. He benefited from racism in writing this column. Find him on Twitter at @bsichel.

Note: Articles published by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.

Mar 112013

Solidarity Halifax member Judy Haiven comments on the Chavez legacy in the Chronicle Herald.

Former prime minister Jean Chretien’s swift reaction to the death of Hugo Chavez was very different from that of our current prime minister and from Washington’s official response. Chretien described him as a good friend, a friend to the Venezuelan people and a man who wanted much-needed change. Stephen Harper said he hoped Chavez’s death would bring a more promising future for Venezuela. The White House statement was terse; it was not sympathetic, but true to U.S. form, demanded a new working relationship between the two countries — mainly to safeguard the supply of oil.

True, Chavez was a controversial leader: a trained military man, leader of the opposition, self-educated, jailed and a light for other progressives in South America. True, he also called George W. Bush a devil and a donkey — in a speech in English at the United Nations.

But what was Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution all about? To find out more, I travelled to Caracas on a study tour just over a year ago. First, there is total freedom for the media: several daily newspapers and many independent commercial television and radio stations. There is also freedom of religion; as a Jew, I was interested to visit the Jewish community centre, the largest synagogue, and to meet with the government’s Human Rights Commission.

But I also saw a divided country, with a population that almost matches Canada’s. Thirty million Venezuelans live in the countryside, while five million live in the capital, Caracas.

It is in the countryside that one sees the difference that Chavez has made. Everyone has access to education, up to and including university. Teachers are sent to towns to ensure everyone who wishes can learn reading, writing and math. Qualified tutors teach groups of neighbours, gathered in homes, to read, write and count in government-approved curricula from elementary to high school. Since Chavez’s victory in 1999, virtually all citizens have a high school education. Many more go on to university, also in their towns. Lecturers from the University of Venezuela are dispatched to teach subjects, including education and nursing, to people in major towns.

With education and paid jobs created for teachers, day-care and health-care workers in rural areas, Chavez was able to stop, or at least stall, the huge migration from the countryside to city slums that riddles much of the developing world. We visited a medical centre in Barquisimeto 100 kilometres west of Caracas, in which a Cuban doctor and physiotherapist joined local nurses in providing care in a clean, well-equipped ambulatory setting. We talked to the doctor: He volunteered to the placement in Venezuela because he could earn extra money to bring back home. Interestingly, a month later when I visited Cuba, I talked to one young lawyer whose parents, both medical doctors, had just returned from a three-year stint in Venezuela. This exchange is about two things: Venezuela trades oil for skilled medical staff who serve and train local people.

Housing is another need or “mission” that the Chavez government has been addressing. More than 284,000 housing units have been built in the last 12 years. We visited a newly built complex of five small row houses. The owner of one, a single woman with two young daughters, proudly showed us around. But the most poignant sight in the home were two certificates, one with each girl’s name, beside a cartoon of a school bus. They had graduated from pre-school, the mother told me. “It’s free and we never had that before in this town.”

Caracas is different — the social changes are much slower and less evident there as Chavez’s base was the countryside. Four million live in shantytowns on the hills surrounding the capital; another million live a middle-class life in the city. There, despite the access to free education and health care, jobs are scarcer, crime is high and city life is tough. That is the major challenge — how to re-invent the city while improving the standard of living in the country.

Judy Haiven is a professor in the management department, Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

Note: Articles published by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.