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Hellfire in Alberta – The Notley Government One Year On and the Fort McMurray Wildfire (Part Three – Capitalism and the Wildfire)

Fort Mac Fire AftermathWe have seen how a complex interaction of both natural and human factors developed into the catastrophe of the Fort McMurray wildfire. There was no way this specific fire could have been predicted or prevented. One of the key factors in all of this has been human activity. The issue of historic wildfire management and suppression techniques reveals the limits imposed on us by chaotic and complex systems, and shows us the current limits of our scientific understanding and our ability to manage nature. Without complete knowledge of how a given complex system works, our actions can have unintended consequences.

Hellfire in Alberta – The Notley Government One Year On and the Fort McMurray Wildfire (Part Two: The Cause of the Fort McMurray Wildfire)

lead 960The massive wildfire that destroyed parts of Fort McMurray has raised many questions and led to more than one or two intense public debates. How did this happen? How did the fire start? How did it get out of control? How was it able to enter Fort McMurray? Was there more that could have been done from the stand point of wildfire management? What were the roles of climate change and El Niño? These are just some of the questions people have been asking in the aftermath of the evacuation.

Quebec solidaire turns ten: A critical appraisal

qsbannerThe Quebec solidaire congress held on the weekend of May 28-29th marked the 10 year anniversary for the left-wing party in Quebec. After decades of domination by the Liberals and the Parti Quebecois (PQ), the founding of Quebec solidaire (QS) in 2006 generated a lot of enthusiasm as youth and workers were excited to break the hegemony of the two main bourgeois parties. What is the future for QS? How can we defeat the bosses' parties?

Hellfire in Alberta – The Notley Government One Year On and the Fort McMurray Wildfire (Part One: Politics and Natural Disasters)

Fort Mac FireThe people of Alberta, particularly those in Fort McMurray and surrounding communities, have had misfortune piled upon misfortune. With the collapse in oil prices and the resulting downturn the city has been hit hard by powerful, seemingly uncontrollable, global economic forces resulting in a slowdown in production, wage cuts, sharp increases in unemployment and layoffs, along with rapidly rising inequality and poverty. From the dizzying heights of the boom to the situation now, the realities of capitalism in decline are all too glaringly obvious in Alberta.

Canadian Federal Budget: Deficit and Spend today – Pain Tomorrow

growing the middle class stackOn March 22, 2016, the Trudeau Liberals unveiled the first budget of their tenure. From a glance, it appeared as though this was in fact a departure from the Harper era. The document, titled “Growing the Middle Class” featured everything from tax benefits to low and middle-income families, to an overhaul of EI, to increased First Nations spending and beyond. But is everything as it seems at Parliament Hill? Or do Trudeau’s “sunny ways” come with a not-so-sunny catch?

Socialism in North America?

capitalism or socialismAmerican politics has been fundamentally transformed. For decades, anyone who would have described themselves as a “socialist” would have been viewed as some sort of extra-terrestrial. Today, Bernie Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist” draws massive crowds and is posing a threat to Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic Party nomination for upcoming presidential election this fall. Canada is not immune to this wave of enthusiasm for what Sanders calls a “political revolution against the billionaire class”.

Ontario Budget: Liberals Hide Austerity behind “Free Education”

kathleen wynne cares notOn February 25, the Ontario Liberals unveiled their budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The centrepiece of the 346-page document was a pledge to make post-secondary education free for families earning under $50,000 a year. The working poor have cause to celebrate: Premier Kathleen Wynne’s “activist” government seems to be finally living up to its name – but is it really? Or is this budget just another example of “talking left and governing right”?

Precarious Labour, Ontario’s Full-Time Problem

temps wantedAccording to a recent study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in June 2015, minimum wage jobs in Ontario have skyrocketed from 2.4 per cent of all employees in 1997 to 11.9 per cent in 2014. In other words, in 1997, one in forty Ontario workers were working for minimum wage. Today it’s one out of eight. While the total number of jobs in Ontario grew by 30 per cent over the past 17 years, the number of low-wage jobs (defined as making within $4 of the minimum wage) have grown by 94 per cent. Increasingly, the wealthy are putting the burden of the capitalist crisis on the backs of the most downtrodden sector of workers.

Is Canada on the Verge of a New Crisis?

canadian economy downOn January 20, the Bank of Canada downgraded its 2016 growth forecast for Canada from an already meagre 2 per cent to 1.4 per cent. “Highly uncertain” were the words chosen by the usually optimistic bank to describe the economic environment. As the announcement was made, oil prices continued on a decline that has now exceeded 70 per cent, dragging down with it the Canadian dollar to a 13-year low. The question on everyone’s mind is the same: where is the economy heading?