Author: Brian Charlton

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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Ginger Goodwin’s Legends and Reality

A few years ago at a Pacific Northwest Labour History Association Conference in New Westminster I listened to a fascinating debate between Mark Lieir, a SFU professor, and Roger Stonebanks, a historian and author of ‘ Fighting for Dignity-The Ginger Goodwin Story’. They were debating about what is most important; the historical facts of events or people’s perception of those events. Stonebanks’s position was that the facts were important because we needed to know the truth, as best we can, about a person or event because that would inform us on how we should act. Leier’s position was that the facts are essentially irrelevant as we could never really know the truth. It was what people perceived as the truth and how they acted in that perception that was important. The example they were discussing was the death of Ginger Goodwin at the hands of Dan Campbell at the Cruikshank River on July27th, 1918. Ginger Goodwin was a labour organizer and war resister, who, along with a few other young men, was hiding out near Cumberland. The Federal Gov’t in June hired Dan Campbell as a special deputy of the Dominion police to go round up these ‘draft dodgers’. Campbell came upon Ginger in the woods and shot him. Campbell claims he shot him in self -defense. The miners and their families in Cumberland believed he had shot him...

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Labour, Elections, and the NDP

  As you may be aware, there is a provincial election happening and on May 9th the citizens of British Columbia will vote on the party that they want to form government for the next four years. As part of this democratic process unions and union activists are out there making people aware of the issues that affect workers, motivating people to get out and vote, and in most cases, supporting the election of NDP candidates. Some people ask ‘why are unions involved in electoral politics?’ The answer is relatively straightforward. It is because we must. We must protect what the labour movement has achieved in the past and we must promote a future that benefits working people. There is a famous Supreme Court decision from 1991 ‘Lavigne v Ontario Public Service Employees Union’ which speaks directly about this issue. Lavigne was a teacher at a regional college who objected to his union using funds to support among other groups and campaigns, the NDP, peace groups and striking coalminers in the UK. He was not a member of the union but contributed dues under the Rand formula. Interestingly the case was financed by Stephan Harper’s organization, the National Citizens Coalition. In dismissing Lavigne’s case the Court stated ” to ensure that unions have both the resources and the mandate necessary to enable them to play a role in shaping...

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How Can I Keep from Singing

“A song can educate , inform , support, give courage, inspire or pacify. Music gets used in all these different ways. A marching band can send young people off to war. That same marching band at the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco sends people off to love. You can have a lullaby that puts a child to sleep or you can have muzak that puts a whole nation to sleep. Music is a very powerful gift we have access to and people should take it seriously.” Holly Near Music is life and politics are an integral part of life so why are there not more songs dealing with social change on people’s I-pods or on AM radio?. Look at the Billboard Top 100 or on streamed music sites and songs about oppression and liberation are few and far between. For most Canadians, it seems music is strictly entertainment. However, look around the world and you see the power of political music. Members of Pussy Riot were thrown in prison in Russia for singing a satirical ditty about Putin. Fela Kuti, an amazing Nigerian musician, was arrested over 200 times because of his songs that were critical of the government. In Pinochet’s Chile , one the founders of the Nueva Cancion movement, Victor Jara, first had his hands smashed and then was shot 40 times a few days after...

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Servants of Humanity?

“New economic patterning through automation and relocation of plants is dissolving the nation’s basic industries. We are neither technologically advanced nor socially enlightened as a nation if we witness this disaster for tens of thousands without finding a solution. And by a solution I mean a real and genuine alternative providing the same living standards and opportunities which were swept away by a force called progress but which for many is destruction.” Martin Luther King. Dr. King spoke these words to the Union of Autoworkers convention back in 1961. With many observers citing the discontent among blue collar workers in the Rust Belt States as a major factor in the 2016 election that carried Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, the fallout of automation is having serious negative political repercussions. Despite the spotlight on globalization as the culprit, one estimate has job losses from automation at eight times greater than from outsourcing. With a whole new wave of cognitive technology advances coming soon that could negatively affect almost half of American workers, it’s time people really examined whether this constitutes progress or destruction. Tech change is framed as going hand in hand with progress, and thus as inevitable. We are told there is no alternative to progress except stagnation, or worse, regression to a new Dark Age. Often too the issue is mistakenly termed “machines vs. humans’ as if...

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Upcoming Events

Jun
23
Sat
9:00 am Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Jun 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[...]
Jun
29
Fri
7:00 pm Qualicum Beach Craft Beer and Sp... @ Qualicum Beach Civic Centre - 747 Jones Street - Qualicum Beach, BC V9K 1S7
Qualicum Beach Craft Beer and Sp... @ Qualicum Beach Civic Centre - 747 Jones Street - Qualicum Beach, BC V9K 1S7
Jun 29 @ 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm
For details, link here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/qualicum-beach-craft-beer-and-spirits-festival-2018-tickets-46085307395
Jun
30
Sat
9:00 am Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
Jun 30 @ 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[...]

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