1. Hooray for our side
“Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Monday evening in Halifax’s Grand Parade in front of city hall to mourn those killed in a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque,” reports the Canadian Press.
As with last week’s Women’s Marches and the widespread political demonstrations at US airports and town squares in response to Trump’s executive orders banning Muslims from the country, yesterday’s vigils for those murdered at the Quebec mosque show a new willingness for people to gather together publicly — the numbers of people attending these gatherings are significantly higher than they have been in years past.
This is a very good thing.
Public gatherings are important because they fight back against the prevailing message of our times, which is that we’re merely atomized individuals, utterly disconnected from and yet always in competition with each other. There is a direct line from Margaret Thatcher’s claim that “there is no such thing as society” to Stephen Harper’s refusal to “commit sociology,” and it runs right through a rejection of shared values and common purpose.
This is the ideology of neoliberalism — the creed of “every person for themselves, loot-the-planet because there’s no collective wealth or shared responsibility.” This perverse notion has been the philosophical framework for our economies for the past 40 years. Of course such a pervasive ideology can’t be contained to economic matters: it drives nationalist and hate-filled attacks on “the other,” such as the attack on the Quebec mosque and Trump’s orders.
Demonstrations are at their best the epitome of democracy: demonstrators are trying to reach out to their fellow citizens, showing that there’s a voice that should be considered. But over the past few decades, there’s been a cultivated disdain for public political demonstration — demonstrators have been characterized as dirty hippies, malcontents, and egoists. The reality, as Stephen Stills sang, is something else:
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, “hooray for our side”
And yes, a vigil is by definition a political demonstration, in this case an affirmation of values, very much a statement of “hooray for our side.” Attendees’ mere presence is making a public statement that something isn’r right in the world, and they’re not standing for it.
Arm chair philosophers and trollish contrarians will continue to look down their noses at public demonstrations: they achieve no good, they’re a waste of time, and so forth. But there are immediate benefits to demonstrating: the feeling that one is at least doing something, as opposed to standing by idly while the world goes askew.
But the most important benefit of public demonstration is a sense of camaraderie. There are other people out there in the world who feel as you do, or at least with whom you can agree enough with for the point of the demonstration. This camaraderie, this exercise in shared purpose, is a rejection of everything neoliberalism has been teaching us. It is, I think, the most important thing in the world. “We are citizens, not competing consumers,” is a radical statement.
I used to think that climate change was the existential threat of our times. That threat hasn’t abated at all, but with the rise of American fascism, there is a more immediate concern. While there’s much we can do on the environmental front, we won’t be able to fully address climate change until we defeat the fascist Trump.
Demonstrations won’t defeat Trump or violent hatred by themselves, but they are one important pillar of a broad attack. Demonstrations, well, demonstrate that there is another way to organize our society: Hooray for our side, the side of tolerance, of shared purpose, of collective action to achieve mutual benefit.
Incidentally, I stopped by the Grand Parade last night and took a few photos, but the pics are lousy because I have no clue how to take night-time photos and no idea how to frame crowd photos. But striking Chronicle Herald photographer Ted Pritchard was there and took the photos that open this post. There is simply no replacement for this kind of work — not from scabs, and not from reporters with iPhones.
2. A Chronicle of errors
“Is the Chronicle Herald, in fact, the shittiest daily newspaper in Canada?” asks Russell Gragg:
I decided to pore over a week’s worth of the current iteration of the Chronicle Herald. I hadn’t looked at an issue since the day the strike started but, really, how bad could it possibly be? Surely there was no way the paper of record for an entire province could possibly be worse than a weekly tabloid out of small town Saskatchewan, right?
What I found was a paper rife with typos, spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and basic ‘Journalism 101’ fuck-ups.
I warn you: this will take a while. Get a cup of coffee, let the cat curl up on your lap, then click here to read “A Chronicle of errors.”
I particularly like Examiner contributor Evelyn White’s response to Gragg’s piece:
It’s my understanding that seasoned media professionals gave the scab reporters fair and ample warning about the impact their Chronicle Herald “work” would have on their careers. There is so little money in journalism. All we have is our integrity and the currency of our reputation. Note to scabs: Has the public humiliation been worth it? Do you really think that clips from the Chronicle Herald will help you secure another job? Do you realize that there is NO HIDING PLACE?
As the late Earl Woods said to his son, Tiger (aka Tiagra) Woods: “What were you thinking?”
Russell, incidentally, leaves today for a new life in Toronto. He’ll be working with Jesse Brown at Canadaland. Russ, who launched the Examineradio podcast, has been a great friend and commiserante (which isn’t a word, but should be). I’ll miss him greatly.
3. Judge rules for Sipekne’katik First Nation in Alton Gas case
“A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has quashed a decision made by Environment Minister Margaret Miller last April,” reports Jennifer Henderson. “The Minister rejected a First Nations appeal of her department’s decision to proceed with the controversial $320 million dollar Alton Natural Gas Storage project near Stewiacke”:
In essence, the impact of Hood’s ruling scraps the province’s previous rejection of the First Nations appeal and orders the minister to revisit the Sipekne’katik request to reconsider the decision to green light Alton Natural Gas Storage. At the same time, the judge refused a request by the First Nation to halt work on the project owned by AltaGas now dormant for the winter.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
“Five universities are taking legal action against the Nova Scotia Teachers Union over work-to-rule, saying the ongoing job action is a threat to the careers of future teachers enrolled in education programs across the province,” reports Sherri Borden Colley for the CBC:
Acadia University, Cape Breton University, Mount Saint Vincent University, St. Francis Xavier University and Université Sainte-Anne filed papers Monday in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.
To graduate with a bachelor of education in Nova Scotia, students require a minimum of 15 weeks of practicum.
“That clock on those 15 weeks started to tick in early January when they were supposed to be within the classroom in their respective practica,” [Kent MacDonald, president and vice-chancellor of St. Francis Xavier University] said later in an interview.
I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me the right to strike is meaningless if it’s trumped by a requirement that teachers mentor student teachers even during a job action.
The commentariat are silent today.
South Park Street Bike Lane Improvements Engagement Session — (6:30pm, Halifax Central Library) Planning is underway to enhance the existing South Park Street bike lanes (Sackville Street to Morris Street) and to extend the bike lanes south to Inglis Street. Join project staff for an update on the project and provide feedback on the latest design work.
Human Resources (10am, Province House) — discussing the Literacy Strategy
Drug Effects (12pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — Ingrid Sketris and Robyn Traynor will speak on “Measuring Knowledge Translation Uptake Using Citation Metrics: A Case Study of the Canadian Network of Observational Drug Effect Studies (CNODES).”.
Exposé! (2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Bob Paré will speak on “The Secret Double Life of Graphs, Exposed.” His abstract:
I will introduce a notion of proarrow for graphs, simpler than the one hinted at in the previous talks and give some justification for it. Then I will look at the properties of the double category of graphs this gives.
In the harbour
2:30am: AHS Hamburg, cargo ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
2:30am: ZIM San Francisco, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
5am: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 42 for New York
11am: CMA CGM Melisande, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Port Klang, Malaysia
3:30pm: Itea, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
4pm: Dalian Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
6pm: Sara, cargo ship, sails from Pier 27 for sea
I fear I’m sounding like a broken record — ask your parents to explain that one, kids — but in order to keep up the kind of publishing schedule we’ve had of late, we need a continuing stream of new subscribers.
My Guardian Weekly that arrived yesterday (old-school paper version) has a similar commentary on the benefits of public protest.
Save your copies, they may have value when the Guardian finally closes down. I read it online for free.
Anyone else see the contradiction in the province paying a French firm nearly a million dollars to look for oil and gas we can’t possibly burn? (that’s money leaving the province, forever.) Even the late federal Conservative government pledged to go to zero emissions. I can’t see how NS can meet its own goals and expand oil and methane operations.
Also, what did the BC teachers do during their work-to-rule?
Correction: Earl Woods died in 2006. In late 2009, the National Enquirer began breaking stories about Tiagra’s extra-marital dalliances to which he ultimately confessed. In April 2010, Nike (in ducat saving damage control) released a thirty second ad in which Daddy Earl purportedly spoke to Tiagra (rumour has it that the fruit didn’t fall far from the tree) from the great beyond. Watch it here:
No need to dig back to the 60s to find politically-aware music.
Bright Eyes: Old Soul Song for the New World Order
On the relationship between street demonstrations, policing, journalism, and the truth:
“… there were barricades to keep us off the street
But the crowd kept pushing forward
Till we swallowed the police
Ya we went wild
We left before the dust had time to settle
And all the broken glass swept off the avenue
On the way home I held your camera like a bible
Wishing so bad that it held some kind of truth
And I stood nervous next to you in the dark room
You drop the paper in the water
And it all begins to bloom”
Neoliberalism is nothing compared to what our technologies are doing to us (though I suppose they go hand in hand).
Inoculated into believing you have 1000 “friends” on Facebook or Instagram yet have never met 995 in person. (Meanwhile fascists presidents have 20 million Twitter followers)
Talk about atomized.
All the more reason for in person demonstrations and group vigils.
The Education Act stipulates the rules teachers operate under, what rules they are expected to follow.
Do you honestly think teachers should get to pick and choose what rules they should be able to follow? Should they get to ignore safety rules? Not assign marks? Skip a class because they don’t like it? Not give tests because tests are the part of teaching they want to ignore.
No, of course not…that would be stupid. And it would lead to chaos.
Professionals….lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers…have rules they are expected to follow. One of those rules for teachers is that they allow student teachers in their classrooms. There are a host of reasons for this, but those aren’t relevant, the reality is that the legislation stipulates that teachers are required to take student teachers, and in civil society professionals follow the rules or they’re held to account…we *expect* them to be held to account.
So teachers don’t have a right to strike then, is what you’re saying.
Of course teachers can strike, they *aren’t* striking. If they did actually go on strike, then they would be immediately recalled to work with some back-to-work legislation… and likely with much support from everyone. As long as they do only their jobs they can continue to maintain “negotiation” (though, time seems to be running out on that, too).
Except, this lawsuit theorizes, they *aren’t* doing the full jobs.
I would tend to agree, but its up to a judge. What will be interesting is if the judge decides that they are striking how the government will respond. Which then opens the question of this is some flanking motion encouraged by the government to force that recognition.
I think it doubtful that the universities would commence this action without approval from the government.
If they were not in a legal strike position I would agree with you, but as it is they have the legal right to withdraw some or all of their services. The union exec has stated all along that this is not strictly working to contract. If they chose to not give tests or marks that would also be within their right. If the government feels they are not doing enough they have the legal right to lock them out.
The section of the act seems poorly described and overly inclusive to me. Read literally, it means any student teacher and instructor can walk into any classroom at any time and demand anything of the teacher. Obviously that is not workable and not how it has been applied in the past. In practice, taking a student teacher has always been treated as voluntary for the individual teacher.
If the universities have a case (which I’m not convinced) they should be going after the government, not the union.
Mr. Bowen, enough of your trolling. You are one cranky and angry dude. Practice mindfulness.
“Commiserante” is a great word. Technically it’s a legit construction in latin – a combination of co- and miserante, the ablative singular participle form of miseror (I lament, more or less – cultural connotations are a bit different from modern period).