Pandemic Pogey Profile picture
Canadian labour & political historian; union organizer and researcher; Kingston Labour History Project; Co-founder
27 Oct
The Saskatchewan NDP just got 112k votes. It's the 3rd lowest since its predecessor CCF won 82k in 1938 while fending off the Social Credit insurgency, and just above their first result in 1934 (103k). The decline parallels other provincial NDPs which have won office since 1990. Image
Here's the Saskatchewan CCF/NDP in defeat:

1964: 269k
1968: 189k

1982: 201k
1986: 248k

2007: 169k
2011: 128k
2016: 130k
2020: 112k

After the 1991 avalanche of 276k, the Sask NDP has not cracked 200k votes. Douglas did it 5 times, Blakeney twice out of 3 elections.
One could blame the pandemic on record low voter turnout of 47 percent. But it has also fallen 10 points each election since 2007. But it's worth noting the Sask Party's vote totals have stayed above 230k in every election since they first won in 2007. It's the NDP that's losing.
Read 16 tweets
25 Oct
Solved? Awesome.

We should be asking ourselves on whose backs these "progressives" believe the climate crisis will be solved. It's worth recalling the Miller regime's labour relations during his 2nd term as Toronto's NDP mayor (2006-2010). Image
April 2008
Within 48hrs of legal transit strike against concessions, Miller and two NDP councillors Giambrone (TTC chair) & Mihevc (TTC commissioner) are among the city officials requesting & securing provincial strikebreaking law from majority Liberals. Ontario NDP votes for it.
June 2009
Amidst Great Recession, 20,000+ city workers strike against concessions (CUPE 79 & CUPE 416). The strike lasts 39 long hot July days. The Miller regime argues the city can't afford the union demands and attacks the union for hurting the working poor.
Read 12 tweets
16 Oct
The Newfoundland grocery strike against Loblaws & billionaire Galen Weston Jr. is part of a 100+ year war against Weston greed.

In 1897, Galen's great grandfather George Weston opened his "model bakery" in Toronto, and got busy fixing prices and breaking unions.

Read on...
I found the Bakers' Strike advert reprinted above in several 1905-1906 issues of The Tribune, "The Official Organ of the Toronto District Labor Council". Seeing "Weston", I investigated further. Here are some of the actions and views of George Weston between 1905 and 1908:
In spring 1905, the 2-year union agreement with Toronto's "master bakers" was expiring. The master bakers chose not to meet collectively with the union as they had in 1903. Individual agreements were signed with all but three master bakers. George Weston was one of the three.
Read 13 tweets
26 Sep
I guess we have paid sick days but the NDP was never going to trigger an election over it. After Singh curiously claimed he had won paid sick days in May, the Liberals twice committed to them: in mid-July, and again in Aug after proroguing.
Since May, the NDP and specifically Horgan has sought PSD through EI. Horgan's business-first re-election strategy is served by EI premiums covering PSD costs, allowing him to avoid the ON/QC/PEI precedent and have business shoulder 100% of PSD costs under a provincial law.
With no apparent challenge from Singh, the Liberals will not be raising EI premiums either after relentless cuts at the request of businesses for at least two decades. This is a commitment the Liberals made in August alongside their announcement PSD would come through EI.
Read 9 tweets
22 Sep
A frank discussion of bourgeois class strategy by Ibbitson in the Globe - with the big Fraser Institute assist. You can see how they're clarifying their perspectives and generalizing a line of march as they jockey, stoke and manage the crisis to their advantage.
Ibbitson plays the hits from the 90s:
debt-to-GDP ratio
pension bomb
long healthcare wait-times (privatize!)
higher taxes are self-defeating

With new bangers:
structural deficits
deteriorating infrastructure (P3s!)
overcrowded classrooms (P3s!)
low interest rates for how long?
Ibbitson is well-positioned to do this. He's a student of the 1990s "austerity drive". He wrote a book on the Common Sense Revolution, which covers the rise of the Ontario neocons, how they conquered the Ontario PC Party, rebuilt the shattered party and developed the CSR.
Read 9 tweets
14 Sep
I see no compelling evidence that NDP extracted CERB, "paid sick days" from unwilling, inflexible Liberal govt - esp. when NDP aligned with CFIB for wage subsidies. Given their 2008 coalition & Notley/Horgan/Trudeau love triangle, I'd wager there's a top-level Lib-NDP agreement.
The Liberals have always shown incredible flexibility in making populist left pivots. Recent examples include Trudeau's performance in 2015 which @Martin_Lukacs documented so well in his book the Trudeau Formula. Freeland, author of Plutocrats, is well-versed in this, too.
After Liberals made the greatest health & social cuts in Cdn history in 1995, Chretien/Martin won in 1997 on modest social reinvestment (which panned out during the Clinton Boom). They even got Romanow (Judas of Sask socialism) to mollify popular anger over their own health cuts.
Read 13 tweets
13 Sep
The scale of CERB - 8.5 million recipients - and its speed of implementation has changed the debate about Basic Income and/vs EI. The Liberal-NDP bloc, backed up by sections of labour, have embraced BI as a technocratic renovation aimed at reforging a broad popular base.
Critiques of BI as a neoliberal trojan horse are powerful, especially when/if essential expenses are subordinated to fully marketized prices. But with BI now on the horizon with the NDP and labour as partners, such critiques are useless with no oppositional powerbase or strategy.
Apologies - this thread was cut short due to a bad connection. Continues below.
Read 8 tweets
25 Aug
Relatedly, Don Cherry's paternal grandfather John was an original NWMP constable and later a Great Lakes ship captain. These ship captains and companies were so brutal and conditions so awful, it spawned the militant Cdn Seaman's Union on the Great Lakes in the 1930s.
During the war, the CSU membership was involved in the merchant navy, the deadliest of any Canadian service in WW2. An estimated 1 in 7 were killed. Once the war was over, the CSU waged a victorious strike in 1946 for the 8 hour day and vastly improved conditions.
John Cherry's son, Delmar, was an electrician for Canadian Steamship Lines, the dominant shipping power on the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence. After the 46 strike, CSL worked with the Liberal govt, mob, police, and red-baiting unionists to terrorize, murder & destroy the CSU in 1949.
Read 6 tweets
24 Aug
If you've ever been subjected to an anti-union talk from a manager or supervisor, you've probably heard a variation of the "third party" argument in which a union will interfere, poison or halt direct relations between you and managers. This is usually bullshit.
However, there's a truth to this argument when a union has no workfloor presence with effective, trusted unionists. In a workplace like this, an appearance by a union rep is strange and alienating and mgmt can stoke anti-unionism, intimidate, and even organize a decert campaign.
Similarly, ineffective union stewards and lazy well-paid union reps responsible for steward training and recruitment means the union is just another bureaucratic hassle for workers. Some stewards are literally selected to discourage grievances so union rep workloads are lighter.
Read 4 tweets
18 Aug
The intention of the police operations and mass arrests at the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto was the destruction, demoralization and disorientation of the Ontario left and fracturing of community-labour coalitions in the immediate wake of the Great Recession.
In many ways, it was an attempt to recreate the falling out between anti-poverty activists and the labour leadership after the Queen's Park Riot in June 2000. CAW pulled its support for OCAP after this battle, effectively condoning police conduct.
Justification for mass arrests was made by the obviously staged abandonment and burning of two cop cars on Queen Street. Like flies to shit, the media trained their cameras on the fires to produce the image and understanding of the protests favourable to the right.
Read 8 tweets
30 Jul
I'm always bewildered with Dippers who defend the Social Contract in Ontario. There was never a technocratic solution to the crisis. The only victory would have been political: an orderly, united retreat and repositioning for the next battle.
Instead of fighting the next battle on these terms, and recognize that electoral defeat was likely, they unleashed an austerity assault on public sector workers, which kicked off a fratricidal civil war that destroyed the strike movement against Harris, and still festers today.
But simply focusing on the Social Contract is to ignore how the policy and legislation fit into an escalating series of substantial, alienating betrayals of the NDP's various organized political bases. Doing so allows us to think further about the Social Contract.
Read 13 tweets
29 Jul
"André Ouellet, Canada's [Liberal] foreign affairs minister, threw human rights out of the whole issue of trade," He [Craig Kielburger] told the delegates indignantly. "He said that Canada isn't the world's Boy Scout." (Laughter. Meaningful pause).

Toronto Star, Nov 26 1995
"Well, I'm a Boy Scout-" (Prolonged surge of laughter and applause). "And this just means that we children will have to work all the harder to end exploitation of Third World Children."
Craig Kielburger got his big start at the 1995 Ontario Federation of Labour convention - the same convention where delegates delivered a mandate to launch a province-wide general strike against Ontario Premier Mike Harris's "Common Sense Revolution" agenda.
Read 13 tweets
27 Jul
United Steelworkers 7th Constitutional Convention in Atlantic City, 1954. Are you in the Communist Party? You can't serve in any union office or a delegate. Oh yeah, KKK members can't either.

Steel Labor, October 1954 Image
Here's what I clipped in my terrible scan of the above Image
Total membership ban. Not even just officers and delegates.
Read 5 tweets
24 Jul
The all-party neoliberal austerity consensus is so deep, simply spending money on a program so it would work is impossible...because it might offend the delicate manners of some slimy sector of capital. At best, neoliberalism's "progressives" deliver means-tested half measures.
...half measures still opposed and hated by establishment interests. The Alberta NDP didn't just kiss Big Oil's ass, but UCP came to power backed by oil & gas, mainstream media, think tanks, business lobby, multinationals. In BC, Horgan pledges solidarity with capital.
I'd call this a consensus. Liberals and PCs are part of it. And since about 1993, the NDP has been an appalling failure in office, shaking aspirin and white flags as palliative strategies for right-wing attacks, and often enough feeding people a dose of that neoliberal poison.
Read 4 tweets
20 Jul
Toronto. Thanksgiving Sunday, October 8 1950
A bomb explodes at the Bathurst St. labour temple festivities attended by 500. Eleven are injured. Those responsible are Ukrainian Nazis of the Halychyna SS Division. The SS unit is publicly commemorated with a monument in Oakville. ImageImageImage
"Peter Prokop, national secretary of the association [of United Ukrainian-Canadians]...said 1,000 members of this "infamous unit" have been admitted to Canada as displaced persons."
"They are obsessed with the mission of liberating the Ukraine from Soviet Russia," Mr. Prokop said. "They profess that by killing off Ukrainians who do not share their views, they are doing a service toward the liberation of the Ukraine."
Read 9 tweets
18 Jul
Three months before the outbreak of WW2, Canada turned back a huge boatload of Jews fleeing Europe. 254 of the ship's 907 Jewish refugees would be murdered by the Nazis during the war.…
The Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King sent them back two years after meeting personally with Hitler. He wrote highly of the Nazi dictator in his diaries and admired Hitler's so-called achievements for Germany and its people.
After WW2, under siege from the CCF, the Communist Party, and most importantly the big militant working-class movements, the Canadian state brought in legions of European Nazis to fight and smash up the power of the left in immigrant communities, unions, and workplaces.
Read 5 tweets
17 Jul
Well, we're now getting paid sick days...but what does it all mean?

The federal govt's "restart" fund will cover 10 paid sick days (only for Covid). It doesn't even cover a 14-day quarantine, let alone actual recovery time. And it's temporary for 6-8 months.
Fed program means employers won't foot bill as they would with provincial paid sick days. BC NDP Premier John Horgan is claiming credit for fed plan, confirming again the NDP is in bed with fed Liberals (like Notley). BC NDP is prepping for business-friendly 2021 re-election bid.
One might hope this temporary reform is like opening a pandora's box for paid sick days, but in truth it's still a question of power. Right now this reform comes from above from an alliance of establishment parties. Its terms reflect the total weakness of the left and labour.
Read 6 tweets
1 Jul
Why Prince Edward Island opposed Confederation

In 1864, delegates from Newfoundland, PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick met in Charlottetown to discuss Maritime Union. A Canadian delegation (Quebec, Ontario) crashed the convention to propose Confederation instead.
The PEI delegation rejected Confederation because the Canadian delegation refused to meet their one demand: buy out the absentee landlords who dominated the Island, impoverished the tenant farmer majority, and neglected their infrastructure responsibilities.
Also in 1864, PEI's tenant farmers formed the Tenant Union to carry out an Island-wide rent strike. The Premier declared the organization illegal and attempted to arrest its leaders at a rally in Charlottetown but crowd actions turned back the police.
Read 6 tweets
1 Jul
A Brief History of New Brunswick's Anti-Confederation Party

Returning from the Charlottetown Conference in September 1864, NB's Premier Charles Tilley strongly favoured Confederation and cobbled together a wider governing coalition to push it through the colonial legislature.
Tilley had long wanted an Intercolonial railway (ICR) connecting Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. He saw Confederation as the vehicle to accomplish this, and had general support for the ICR from the other colonial delegations favouring Confederation.

Photo: Tilley Image
The Charlottetown conference, however, was originally called to discuss a Maritime Union, but a delegation of “Canadians” (Quebec + Ontario) crashed the conference with British encouragement. Their proposal for Confederation pushed aside the discussion of Maritime Union.
Read 14 tweets
30 Jun
Between Oct '61 intro of medicare bill and its royal assent less than a month later, Tommy Douglas peaced out as Sask Premier after 17 years. This seems the only rationale for the bill coming forward as every govt action after assent was a concession to anti-medicare doctors.
The democratic Advisory Council and quality of care language was scrapped. The community clinics movement was neglected. Hospitals blocked access to clinic doctors in violation of agreement that ended Doctors Strike. Only the govt made concessions to end strike, the doctors none.
It becomes apparent with a close reading of the battle for medicare in Saskatchewan that the great victory was also upheld the power of doctors to fleece the public while systematically undermining socialized & democratic alternatives like salaried doctors and community clinics.
Read 4 tweets
18 Jun
1/10 Thought-provoking criticism from @MichaelLaxer that raises a host of questions around labour and socialist political strategy and priorities, action and inaction during the pandemic.…
2/10 As a Pandemic Pogey recipient, the CERB extension is personally helpful, but it's obvious we're being dragged along here. It is wishful thinking that this last minute reprieve is about the Liberals "seeing the light", or capitulating to NDP or "social movement" pressure.
3/10 The Liberals never had any intention of making early announcements about CERB extensions. The Liberals are dutifully and adamantly opposed to giving workers a meaningful chance of opting out of the unsafe labour market for entirely legitimate health and safety reasons.
Read 10 tweets