Author: Brian Charlton

The R Word

 “It’s time to stop segregating the race problem as one that harms only minorities. A deeper conception of how racism structures politics, government and the economy connects minority concerns to the issues faced by all workers. This approach makes clear that when racism triumphs, all workers lose”. Ian Haney Lopez Racism is a sensitive subject, full of misunderstandings, denial, and intense emotions. Given the pain and indignity, and in some cases physical danger, it brings to those who bear the brunt of this form of hatred, it’s not surprising that this is a very difficult discussion to have. I hesitate to write about it myself, given that I am writing from the perspective of a white, relatively privileged worker. However in these times when neo-nazis and white supremacists feel confident enough to march in the broad daylight shouting their hateful slogans, it is imperative that those who want a world free of all the ‘isms’ speak up. I also write this from the perspective of a union activist and educator. For unions, the solidarity of members of individual unions, and the solidarity of the labour movement as a whole, is crucial to our existence. Without unity and a sense of common purpose, unions could not exist. So anything that weakens or destroys that solidarity is harmful and needs to be dealt with. Unions have a checkered history when it...

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The NDP Leadership Decision

At the April 2016 NDP convention delegates decided the party needed a new leader. Thomas Mulcair was out; sometime in early October we will know who is in. There are four candidates: Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay; Niki Ashton, MP for Churchill-Keewatinak Aski; Guy Caron MP for Rimouski-Neigette-Temiscouata-Les Basques; and Jagmeet Singh, Ontario MPP for Bramela-Gore-Malton. Interestingly all but Singh are from rural ridings: Angus from northern Ontario, Ashton from northern Manitoba and Caron from the Gaspe area of Quebec. There have been eight debates so far, with the last one to occur in Vancouver Sept. 10 before voting gets underway on the 18th. There is no convention. Voting will be done via the Internet or by mail. In order to vote you had to be a member as of Aug 18, 2017. Since the candidate has to receive over 50% of the vote there could be runoffs but there will be a result by Oct 15th at the latest. So why should Canadians, other than NDP members, follow this race? Because whoever leads the NDP now, could be the Prime Minister following the 2019 federal election. That may seem overly ambitious as the NDP sits with only 44 seats in the House of Commons. However, consider the fact that the Conservatives have a new leader who is not all that different from their former leader Stephen Harper,...

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The NDP Leadership Decision

The NDP Leadership Decision   At the April 2016 NDP convention delegates decided the party needed a new leader. Thomas Mulcair was out; sometime in early October we will know who is in. There are four candidates: Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay; Niki Ashton, MP for Churchill-Keewatinak Aski; Guy Caron MP for Rimouski-Neigette-Temiscouata-Les Basques; and Jagmeet Singh, Ontario MPP for Bramela-Gore-Malton. Interestingly all but Singh are from rural ridings: Angus from northern Ontario, Ashton from northern Manitoba and Caron from the Gaspe area of Quebec. There have been eight debates so far, with the last one to occur in Vancouver Sept. 10 before voting gets underway on the 18th. There is no convention. Voting will be done via the Internet or by mail. In order to vote you had to be a member as of Aug 18, 2017. Since the candidate has to receive over 50% of the vote there could be runoffs but there will be a result by Oct 15th at the latest. So why should Canadians, other than NDP members, follow this race? Because whoever leads the NDP now, could be the Prime Minister following the 2019 federal election. That may seem overly ambitious as the NDP sits with only 44 seats in the House of Commons. However, consider the fact that the Conservatives have a new leader who is not all that different from...

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Rewritten and Redrawn

British historian Christopher Hill once wrote, “History has to be rewritten in every generation, because although the past does not change the present does.” We not only use our own experiences and knowledge to interpret anew that history but also use new modes of storytelling to communicate that history. In the last thirty years there has been an explosion of graphic novels. These were not comics like Spiderman or The Green Lantern but book length stories, often with more sophisticated content. Graphic novels had in one form or another been around for a hundred years but when Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’ was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 the format became more socially acceptable. That book, and others like Will Eisner’s ‘A Contract with God’ and Alan Moore’s ‘The Watchmen’ were aimed at a generation that was ready to move on from the simplistic artwork and juvenile storylines of so many mainstream comics. ‘Sandman’ by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean and other artists, took the form to a whole new level. Others like Joe Sacco used it brilliantly as a new form of journalism, reporting on stories from Palestine and Bosnia and even collaborating with well-known journalist Chris Hedges on’ Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt’. The graphic novels I want to deal with in this column are three that deal with Canadian history. ‘Escape to Gold Mountain’ by David...

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Heroes of Mine

I noticed an insert in the local paper titled ‘Local Heroes’ It was an impressive list. People like Mary Everson, Meaghan Cursons, Kymme Patrick and Lori Mazey, all who have made the Comox Valley a truly great place to live. They have made real differences in people’s lives and given so much of themselves for all of us. It made me think of some of the heroes in my life and times. Not just world figures that I have read about or seen on the television screen but people I have met and in some cases, worked with. These are people who have inspired me to get involved or to look at the world in a new way and have challenged me to do my bit to help make a better world. They are unlikely to have tomes written about them or have their life story filmed for posterity. That is important as I don’t put much stock in the ‘Great Man’ theory of history. I am more the ’atomic theory’ type who believes change happens like an atomic reaction with particles striking other bodies and setting off chain reactions till transformation occurs or a damn big explosion happens. The other caveat is that these are heroes, not saints. They were human with faults and some were friendly and outgoing with brilliant minds, and others were cantankerous and held...

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Upcoming Events

Dec
23
Sat
9:00 am Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Dec 23 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Each Saturday features a delicious recipe from the North Island Chefs Association – and of course all of the wonderful local producers of vegetables, meats, baking, preserves, fish and more! See you at the Native[...]
2:00 pm CLT’s Anne of Green Gables: the ...
CLT’s Anne of Green Gables: the ...
Dec 23 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Book by Donald Harron Music by Norman Campbell Adapted from the novel by L.M. Montgomery “Anne of Green Gables (Harron)” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC. Follow Anne Shirley as she warms[...]
Dec
26
Tue
2:00 pm CLT’s Anne of Green Gables Matinee
CLT’s Anne of Green Gables Matinee
Dec 26 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Book by Donald Harron Music by Norman Campbell Adapted from the novel by L.M. Montgomery “Anne of Green Gables (Harron)” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC. Follow Anne Shirley as she warms[...]

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