May 25: Rockin’ Robbee and some live tunes and reflections on Windsor; CLC senior economist Angella MacEwen on changes to Canada’s EI program

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On the program I had a chat with Rockin Robbee in between songs about life in this city as one on a low income and living in social housing. With scandal licking at the doors of city hall and the current turmoil on the library board, we should be, as citizens, doing a better job at holding city hall and council accountable. One councilor, Alan Halberstadt is the lone dissenter on council and that’s gotta be wearing. We have an obligation as citizens to get organized now for the next election as it takes time and lots of effort to mobilize people and find alternative representatives. Robbee isn’t waiting and maybe he is a good example for the rest of us, as he takes a petition around Ward 10 that asks Councilor Al Maghnieh to resign over his misuse of a library credit card.

Robbee opened the program with his version of Something in the Air:

In this clip Robbee describes Windsor from his perspective and later how Occupy Windsor inspired him:

 Angella MacEwen is a senior economist with the Canadian Labour Congress and we’re now hearing some details about changes to Employment Insurance. These changes could have a significant impact on this area because the changes coincide with the move to allow temporary foreign workers to be paid less than Canadian workers. Windsor has the highest unemployment in the country plus, while there are hundreds if not thousands of jobs in the greenhouse industry, most are filled by non-union temporary foreign workers. The conditions in the greenhouses are harsh and the agricultural industry cannot be unionized because unjust Ontario laws prevent it. How will workers be able to fight for improved wages, benefits and working conditions? They will be forced to accept any job under any conditions for fear of losing EI. In my view the Harper regime is shaping the future for a monstrous labour system that will pit worker against worker in what will amount to work camps – unless we manage to organize resistance and have a plan for the next federal election.

Here, MacEwen gives an overview of EI and some context on what the proposed changes look like:

The changes to EI will have a harsh effect on Temporary Foreign workers and pit workers against each other as all wages drop:

Robbee closed the program out with a version of  Neil Young’s Harvest Moon:

May 18: Abby Deshman on the review of police conduct during the 2010 G20; Tim McSorley on Bill 78 and the Quebec student strike

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Listen to entire program here: (Listen to selected audio segments highlighted below)

It’s never what should I cover on Friday, rather, it’s how to choose from all that’s going on that’s the big “problem” – there was the NATO summit in Chicago with thousands of activists at the summit, there is the report out on the police during the 2010 G20 that is pretty scathing, and the student strike in Quebec is certainly heating up further as the Charest government moves to make illegal the right to assemble, proving once again that the state will always use violence in any form when it can’t break rightful protests in other ways.  In the first half hour Abby Deshman, Public Safety Director with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, was on the line from Toronto  to speak on the long awaited report on policing during the G-20 summit. In the second half hour, we heard from Montreal Media Coop editor Tim McSorley on the Quebec student strike and how the Charest government is  moving to criminalize  the movement with bans on assembly and fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.

In this clip Abby Deshman outlines the role of the CCLA during the G20 and the push to have a full review:

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Here Deshman discusses the need for accountability along with transparency and what can be expected out of this report. As well, she warns against conflating the terms terrorist and protester and that the hearings to come may not be sufficiently independent:

Click image to view report on G20 policing. (Photo: Jonas Naimark, The Globe and Mail: police kettling operation, June 27, 2012, Toronto)


Quebec’s Bill 78 is titled  “the Act to enable students to receive instruction from the post-secondary institutions they attend.” According to a CBC report, the bill “lays out strict regulations governing student protests and contains provisions for stiff fines. Fines range from $7,000 to $35,000 for a student leader and between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations if someone is prevented from entering an educational institution. Bill 78 also lays out strict regulations governing student protests. Any group of 10 persons or more to give at least eight hours notice to police for any demonstration. Tim McSorley gave us an update on what was happening with the Quebec student’s strike:

Featured CD:

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Sample track ( I Wanna Know What’s Going On):

May 11, 2012: Michelle Le Chien, Executive Director of the Arts Council Windsor & Region on the local arts and culture scene.

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On Friday’s program today my guest was Michelle Le Chien, Executive Director of the Arts Council of Windsor & Region to speak on the Artists in Community/Workplace (AICW) grant and efforts to bring artists and community organizations together.

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This Wednesday, May 16th,  the series continues with AICW grant recipients Rolly Marentette (Injured Workers Coalition) and Justin Langlois (Broken City Lab) who will speak to community engaged art projects. Also, planning is underway for Culture Days coming up in late September, and we’ll find out more about that. In the second half hour, I had hoped to get in touch with  Tim McSorley of the Montreal Media Coop on the ongoing student strike in Quebec. Unfortunately I was unable to connect with him.

In this clip, Michelle Le Chien provides an overview of the Arts Council of Windsor & Region, the Artist in the Community/Workplace grant, the discussions on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, downtown renewal, the importance of artist and community organization collaboration, and art as a unifying force:

Featured CD:

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Sample track:

May 4: Canadian Mining & Tanzania with Amani Mustafa Mhinda and Rebecca Bartel

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This past weekend a conference kicked off in Toronto entitled Mining Injustice. Some themes to be explored were listed as:  

  • Resistance against mining: short- and long-term struggles and issues
  • Re-colonization through mining
  • Corporatization of education
  • Mining and displacement
  • Workers’ rights and resistance mechanisms
  • Mining, Inc. and Occupy
  • From local to international: resistance, elevated.
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Canadian mining companies are increasingly implicated in human rights abuses around the world. With the price of gold alone at around $1600 the drive to open up ever new mines must be fierce, and as usual with capitalist expansion, community concerns take a back seat to corporate profits. According to conference co-organizer and Mining Injustice Solidarity Network member Rebecca Bartel “Communities [around the world] are organizing, people are mobilizing, and alternatives to capitalist economic development are becoming a shared goal by a determined international resistance movement. From First Nations communities in Canada, to Indigenous movements in the Philippines; from campesino organizations in Honduras to community resistance in Tanzania, the movement is growing and will not be silenced.” On the phone from Toronto it was a pleasure to have Amani Mustafa Mhinda, founder of the Non Governmental Organization HakiMadini that does advocacy work on mining, environmental and community issues in Tanzania. He spoke on his front line advocacy work in communities faced with mining development. In the second half hour, Rebecca Bartel spoke about the conference and the struggle to hold Canadian mining companies responsible for the violence and social upheaval they are responsible for in other countries and in this country as well. 

In this clip, Amani Mustafa Mhinda describes the work of  the NGO Haki Madini, community struggles and the effects of the displacement of people:
Here, Amani Mustafa Mhinda describes the struggle of communities against mining giants as a class war:
Rebecca Bartel outlines the goals and hoped for outcomes of the Fourth Annual  Mining  Injustice conference:
to view conference video featuring Amani Mustafa Mhinda

Featured CD:

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Sample Track:

Apr. 27: Tova Perlmutter and Rolly Marentette and Day of Mourning; Tim McSorley and the Quebec student strike; and Rockin Robbee in the studio on guitar

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Listen to entire program here:

On Friday’s program my guests and I had a discussion about the  International Day of Mourning for those Workers Killed, Injured or made Ill on the Job, which occurred on Saturday, April 28th. 

Windsor Day of Mourning. (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Workplace safety was again highlighted this year with a day of mourning in Windsor and Detroit and around the country. Statistics show that thousands of workers die every year and millions are injured. We get a glimpse of these statistics each time there are deaths such as the migrant workers killed earlier in the year in Southwestern Ontario, Kent Morton, who fell from the bridge, the two recent sawmill explosions in BC, and the three VIA rail engineers killed earlier in the year. More hidden are workers suffering and dying from exposure to toxic substances.

 Workers do recognize their responsibility to work safely and too often in this climate of attacks on the rights of workers and deregulation (or self regulation as the corporate PR people would have us believe) workplace safety is being pushed aside leaving workers – especially young workers – vulnerable to death and injury. Joint Health and Safety committees in union workplaces are the norm and in some non-union shops as well. Without them and the regular meetings and safety checks it is too easy to slip into bad habits and risky shortcuts. In all too many workplaces, no such regular training exists. The thing is, by bringing workers together for health and safety training and updating, workers tend to “reset” themselves and focus, even if just for an hour, on making sure they and their fellow workers are working safely and their managers are doing their part as well – it’s a form of bonding creating a sense that we are all in this together. Forever and a day, that workers should get paid time to increase their sense of solidarity has never sat well with any employer. Health and Safety Committees are another feature of working class history that had to be fought for and that fight included preventable deaths and catastrophic injury for decades in various workplaces.

In this clip, Perlmutter and Marentette describe their organizations and their relevance:

L to R: Rolly Marentette, Rockin Robbee, Tova Perlmutter (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Rockin’ Robbee sings Peace Love and Understanding:

 In the studio was Tova Perlmutter, Executive Director of the Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Centre for Economic and Social Justice in Detroit, and Rolly Marentette, Chair of Windsor’s Injured Workers Coalition. As well, Rockin’ Robbee was in for his regular last Friday of the month sound treat.

Here, Perlmutter briefly explains some aspects of US labour law, and Marentette lays out the numbers for workers killed and injured in the most dangerous occupations:

Perlmutter here puts US deaths and injuries into perspective:

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In the second half hour I spoke with Tim McSorley of the Montreal Media Co-op about the Quebec students’ strike: 

Featured CD:

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Sample track: