Sep 23

Misleading Reports On Government Protest Tracking Are Dangerous (Feat. @TorontoStar, @CBCNews)

This picture might be the most honest part of the article...

This picture might be the most honest part of the article…

If you’ve been following the news the past couple of days, and travel in or keenly observe social justice circles, it’s likely you’ve seen the Toronto Star’s story about federal government tracking of protest movements. The headline of the Toronto Star’s provocatively titled story Ottawa admits to tracking hundreds of protests suggests the possibility the government was previously lying or hiding the truth- or, perhaps, staff writer Alex Boutilier beat it out of Stephen Harper with a tightly rolled Saturday edition?

The photograph selected for this article is brilliant as the clickbait in the headline. At first glance, the crowd’s energy gives no reason to assume they’re worthy of being tracked; only a wildly oppressive government would follow the movements of the churchgoers, soccer moms and Nascar dads who showed-up (on the surface that is). Next there’s the thinly veiled implication that the government is spying on it’s own constituency- the pro-choice movement is more closely aligned with the Conservatives than the NDP or Liberals (and the movement had a history of violence by a minority of extremists).

But all that’s just nitpicking, and there’s no evidence of intent, right? Of course, one can’t judge a story on headline and photograph alone- the real test is understanding the meat of the content. The meat in this story, the author’s follow-up, and a spin-off story from CBC Hamilton is so rotten it leaves the reader longing for a quality meal at a Shanghai KFC.

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Sep 18

CUPE Communications Staffer Spreads Malicious Libel (Feat. Kevin Wilson, Alex Hundert & Antonia Zerbisias)

This is not okay...

This is not okay…

I came across a seriously disturbing Facebook meme yesterday. Pictured above, a disturbed individual made a play on words with the Rob Ford campaign’s “Ford More Years” slogan- crossing out the word Ford, and replacing it to say “Tumor Years”. Most reasonable Canadians would find this message distasteful- people in our country have a reputation for being friendly, kind and compassionate. Yet, somehow, people were sharing this hateful picture about a man who was facing a potentially (now confirmed) life threatening disease.

I appreciated much of Rob Ford’s platform, and experienced first hand how he quickly responds to people’s calls for assistance. Though I was equally dismayed watching him lying to us about his addiction problem- too many bad things have occurred for me to consider supporting his campaign. But, as I would with anyone fighting a serious illness (including Harsha Walia during her battle earlier this year), my heart goes out to Rob and his family during this challenging moment in their lives.

I’d have ignored if it was an isolated incident, but I watched so many ugly attacks over the past week that I felt compelled to speak out. I figured posting my criticism on Twitter would be a no-brainer, who wouldn’t be horrified by the sheer nastiness of this message? Many people understood, some expressed dismay, others simply re-tweeted. But just as my faith in human goodness was being recharged, an unsavoury man responded with a lesson about the malicious depravity we see way too often from people in today’s union movement.

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Sep 15

Redwashing Watermelons Earn Airmiles Marching For Transitional Demands At The People’s Climate March

This demand is currently impossible...

This demand is currently impossible…

New York City will be the host to the annual United Nations Climate Summit next week. As usual, whenever these meetings happen, Canada’s high-profile activists will contribute to the world’s carbon count by travelling to the host city, consuming more trees drawing-up their signs, and forcing the city’s drivers to idle their cars while protesters march through downtown streets. Some observers view this as hypocritical, the protesters contest that it’s necessary to make change.

As the poster at the top of this article shows, the protesters are against all four of the world’s sources of energy- coal, oil, nuclear and gas. Anyone with a reasonable understanding of alternative energy sources will probably get a good laugh out of this- though it would be nice if we could depend entirely on “renewable” energy sources, but it’s common knowledge that they’re not ready for prime time. Take for example solar and wind; neither works without sunlight or a good breeze, and neither solution has reached the stage where they’re economically viable.

At this point, if you’re not familiar with socialist theory, you’re probably wondering why the protesters would march for unobtainable demands…

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Sep 13

Breaking: Usual Suspects Lock Necks To Kinder Morgan Gate In Burnaby! (Feat. Gandhi)


In the continuing string of evidence that anti-pipeline protests are mostly led by the same, small, cadre- a group of the usual suspects gathered at Burnaby Mountain this morning to protest the Trans Mountain pipeline. Showing an utter lack of creativity, the protesters used the tired old tactic of locking their necks to the front gate of a Kinder Morgan facility.

A protest like this usually has two goals. First, as described by Victoria based bully anarchist Zoe Blunt, it’s a form of “economic sabotage”, restricting a company’s ability to run their business. The other goal is to get the attention of the media- lazy BC reporters stenographers eat this stuff up, rarely questioning the fact it’s always the same people locking themselves to the gate.

In this case, being a Saturday, it’s unknown how much economic damage they’ll cause; but the action was timed perfectly for an anti-pipeline rally planned for later this afternoon. What better way to attract more people and media than throwing-in some Kryptonite theatrics!

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Sep 10

Unifor Comms Staffer Appropriates My Voice For The Olivia Chow Campaign! (Feat. John Tory)


If you’ve been following this site for long you’re probably familiar with my work examining how unions, NGOs and activists all too often appropriate marginalized people’s voices. My first awareness of this phenomenon came during Occupy Vancouver when activists from No One Is Illegal inserted homeless indigenous men into the camp, labelled them as “elders”, and tried to use their presence to pressure the city into accepting a (faux) sacred fire.

My research into appropriation of voice often leads me to Canada’s new militant union unifor (a merger of the CAW & CEP). The biggest example was with Kevin Annett, a man who falsely claimed to discover a mass grave of Indian Residential School children in Ontario- there was a CAW activist on-site at the ‘dig’, and Annett was employed by the CAW after the United Church defrocked him for his fraud. My favourite example of unifor’s appropriation was in February, when two white people (including one named White!) issued a press release capitalizing on the death of Loretta Saunders.

Knowing unifor’s history, I fully expected I’d find myself writing another appropriation story. But, considering our lack of agreement on things, I never thought I’d be the person whose voice was being appropriated!

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