Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Fair Trade Towns in Canada

In the January 17-23, 2008 issue of NOW, Wayne Roberts writes another insightful article, this time about the introduction of "fair trade towns" in Canada:

"For a while there, it looked like fair trade might join the casualty list of alternative social movements reduced to a market niche.

But the grassroots are back in full swing, thanks to “fair trade towns,” an idea that’s been sweeping through Europe since 2001 and just crossed the ocean to Canada in 2007, landing first in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and La Pêche, Quebec.

This new wave exemplifies the latest wrinkle in democracy. As governments drift into reduced relevance – too big to do the small things for individuals and community groups, too small to do the big things with giant multinationals – fair trader influence is growing.

From almost a standing start in the 1990s, the sector is now a billion-dollar business marketing some 2,000 products from 50 countries to 22 others, raising the living standards of some 5 million workers."

See Fairville, Canada: Labour-conscious foodies move onto new turf as fair trade campaigns are adopted by entire cities for more...

Monday, 28 January 2008

TorontoTheBetter businesses in upcoming organics conference

The Toronto chapter of Canadian Organic Growers is "building on the success of last year's Growing Up Organic Conference" by hosting Visionary Farmers and Consumers, a one-day conference happening Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 89 Chestnut, University of Toronto (one block south of Dundas, on the east side of Chestnut Street):

"Join Canadian Organic Growers as we explore how organics is making a difference. Who is making this vision real and how can you be part of it ? What is your role? Hear farmers, researchers, local food security advocates and community organizations discuss the state of Canada's food system and share their positive vision for the future ."

Sponsors include The Big Carrot Natural Food Market and Edible Toronto.

Also, Lulu Cohen of Real Food for Real Kids is moderating "Chefs and kids leading the way!", one of the afternoon break-out panel sessions:

"Chefs have been extraordinarily effective in drawing attention to the quality of our food, but they have done more than just talk about it. Many have built relationships and businesses with local farmers to take back control of food quality and access. Some have even been ‘willing to weed’ to get what they want. In an age where the average diet no longer nourishes, these chefs are winning the hearts and forks of the consumer while helping to keep the farmer on the farm.

Where will the new vision come from? The next generation is already engaged. Meet the kids who have ‘gotten it’. They have connected to their food with a passion. How do they see themselves in the future?"

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Edible Toronto and Merchants of Green Coffee at Guelph Organic Conference

The 27th Guelph Organic Conference is happening at the University of Guelph from January 24th to 27th 2008.

Among the exhibitors at the Trade Show & Organic Food Expo - occurring Saturday, 7 AM to 5:30 PM; and Sunday, 9 AM to 4:30 PM - are Edible Toronto and Merchants of Green Coffee.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

TorontotheBetter featured in University of Toronto Social Economy Centre event on January 16th, 2008

A University of Toronto Social Economy Centre lunchtime presentation on January 16th featured a panel discussion on "Mapping the Social Economy". One panelist Sherida Ryan, who interviewed TorontotheBetter staff in 2007, talked to a full OISE classroom about online social economy organizations. She selected TorontotheBetter as one of her five examples and noted the familiarity of TorontotheBetter workers with the idea of "social economy". For more information about Ryan's report, which is part of a PhD thesis she is engaged in, go to: http://conference.se-es.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/b3-sherida-ryan.pdf.
NOTE: we have pointed out to Sherida a couple of factual errors in her report:
1) TorontotheBetter, Toronto's first online social economy directory went online in 2003, not 2000, and 2) 248 businesses participate in TorontotheBetter.

TorontotheBetter hopes to work further with Sherida and other researchers on furthering contributions to, and understanding of, the Canadian soical economy.

For more information about the Social Economy Centre, see http://socialeconomy.utoronto.ca

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Computation Hosts Free Recycling Event January 21-27, 2008

From January 21st through to the 27th, Computation is "inviting the general public to drop-off their unwanted computer equipment for recycling."

See the PlanetFriendly.net calendar posting, Computer Recycling Event in Toronto and Montreal for more information.

Molly Crealock teams up with GET for local hero portraits

From the Winter Solstice Edition of GET(Green Enterprise Toronto) News:

GET Photos

Do you need professional photographs to promote your business?

GET has teamed up with Molly Crealock: Photographer to produce a series of portraits of local heroes like you, the most interesting values-based business owners in Toronto. We’ll be selecting images to use in our communications, marketing, and in a future exhibition. If you have a booth at the Green Living Show in April, we’ll be offering you a couple of options for your portrait to be blown up on a cloth banner for your booth. It’s a low-cost, win-win initiative for you and GET.

Interested? Call me for details! 416-644-1012

Monday, 14 January 2008

Project Hope fundraiser - Jan. 20, 2008

Zatoun has contributed to Project Hope from the very first bottle of Zatoun sold. We are pleased that the Toronto community is also fundraising and supporting its wonderful work with youth in the refugee camps of Nablus:

Together Fundraisers present

An Evening of Readings for Project Hope

with authors Rawi Hage and Jason Sherman

special performance by Roula Said and Maryem Tollar

Sunday January 20, 2008; Lula Lounge; 1585 Dundas Street West
Doors open at 6 p.m. Event starts at 7 p.m.

Lula Lounge will reserve tickets with dinner reservation.

Tickets: $ 20 at the door
or Toronto Women's Book Store, 73 Harbord St. (west of Spadina 416-922-8744)
or through togetherfundraisers@gmail.com

Project HOPE (Humanitarian Opportunities for Peace and Education) is a non-profit volunteer organization with a mandate to provide participatory, educational programs space for Palestinian youth and children. Together Fundraisers are an Arab/Jewish Group in Toronto raising money for projects in Palestine.

Sponsored by Togetherfundraisers, Zatoun, and PEN Canada

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Mapping the Social Economy: Three Views

Reposted from the recent Centre for the Study of Education and Work News & Announcements email:


David Lasby - The mapping of Ontario's social economy (nonprofits,
co-operatives, credit unions, and other community organizations).

Mark Ventry - The social and economic impact of the province's co-op
sector, what census information surprised On Co-op, and what the data

Sherida Ryan - Social economy enterprises that rely on
internet-based technology to achieve their organizational objectives,
their similarities to traditional social economy enterprises, use of
information technology and their understanding of an online social
economy enterprise.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008; 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm.
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
252 Bloor St. West, Toronto; Room 12-199

Bring your lunch and a mug – Coffee, tea and water will be provided.

For more information, contact Lisa White at secspeaker@oise.utoronto.ca.

Check out our social economy blogs-
Events & Conferences: http://socialeconomycentre.blogspot.com/
Announcements & Resources: http://socialeconomycentreresources.blogspot.com/%20

Join Protest Wed Jan 16 for Human Rights in El Salvador

From: "Canada-El Salvador Action Network" info@celsan.org

Next Wednesday, January 16th, on the 15 Anniversary of the Peace
Accords in El Salvador, the Salvadoran people and friends of the
Salvadoran people in Toronto are organizing a piquet at the Salvadoran
Consulate on 151 Bloor St (close to St. George Station.), at 10.30 AM, to
protest the continuous Human Rights abuses, impunity and institutional
deterioration of the national institutions in El Salvador under the
ARENA regime.

Most recently, among many more grievances for which we
are demanding justice, we are protesting and condemning the
assassination of the FMLN Mayor of the town of Alegría, Mr.Wilber Moisés
Funes, at the hands of right-wing gunmen (“death squads”) last January 9.

Subject: Fwd: Piquete Frente al consulado salvadoreño en Toronto

El próximo 16 de enero, en el 15 Aniversario de los Acuerdos de Paz en
El Salvador, el pueblo salvadoreño y amigas y amigos del pueblo
salvadoreño en Toronto están convocamos a una manifestación frente al
consulado salvadoreño en 151 de la calle Bloor (cerca de la Estación
de St. George), a las 10.30 AM para protestar por los continuos abusos
a los Derechos Humanos, la impunidad y el deteriorote las
instituciones bajo el régimen de ARENA en El Salvador. Más
recientemente, entre los muchos agravios por los que demandamos
justicia, protestamos y condenamos en los términos más enérgicos el
asesinato del Alcalde del Municipio de Alegría, Sr. Wilber Moisés
Funes, a manos de los “escuadrones de la muerte” el pasado 9 de

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Starbucks Emails Describe Efforts to Stop Unionization

By KRIS MAHER, Wall Street Journal; January 9, 2008:

A series of emails by Starbucks Corp. managers sheds
light on the company's efforts to thwart union organizing among its baristas.

The emails, which are part of a labor-dispute proceeding in New York
and were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, open a rare window onto the company's
labor relations practices. Labor experts not involved with the case said the
activity is not illegal. But the emails could prove embarrassing because they show managers using various methods to identify pro-union employees.
The Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, has been
trying to organize workers at Starbucks since 2004 and
has been able to organize only several dozen at a
handful of stores in New York and a few other cities.

According to several emails, in early 2006, Starbucks
managers discovered that two pro-union employees in
New York were graduates of a Cornell University labor
program. According to an email, managers took the
names of graduates from an online Cornell discussion
group and the school's Web site and cross-checked them
with employee lists nationwide. They found that three
employees in California, Michigan and Illinois were
graduates of the program and recommended that local managers be informed.

The emails are exhibits in a pending case before an
administrative law judge in New York. Brandon Borrman,
a Starbucks spokesman, said most of the documents
relate to issues that were already settled in a
separate agreement with the National Labor Relations
Board, in which the company didn't admit any
wrongdoing. He said the claims in that case were
baseless but declined to comment on specifics, and
said disclosure of the documents violates a confidentiality order.

Referring to Starbucks employees as partners, he said:
"We honor the free choices of partners, and we strictly
comply with labor laws, including those for organizing
activities. It is unfortunate that a small group of activists
continues to misrepresent itself as speaking on behalf of more
than 150,000 partners world-wide when it does not."

In the pending NLRB case in New York, the IWW has accused Starbucks
of committing about 30 labor law violations during 2005 and 2006.
The union argues that the company's effort to identify union supporters was
part of a broader campaign of unlawful activity, and it argues that the company discharged three employees because they supported the union.

"What possible nondiscriminatory reason could
Starbucks come up with to scrutinize Cornell graduates
working at the company?" said Daniel Gross, a former
barista in New York. He alleges that he was fired in
August 2006 because he is a union activist, and his
termination is a subject of the pending NLRB case.

Workers at Starbucks often have higher pay and better benefits than
typical part-time food-service employees. Starbucks in 2006 said
its New York baristas typically start at about $8.75 an hour.
According to the Department of Labor, the group that includes
counter attendants, cafeteria workers, food-concession workers and
coffee-shop workers had a median wage of $7.76 that same year.

The company emails show that managers have been fighting the union
since 2004. "Below is a summary of the recent developments in New York City
regarding our attempts to thwart a potential union situation,"
begins an email dated Oct. 29, 2004 by a Starbucks New York regional official.

In subsequent emails, managers identify whether an employee is an
"IWW supporter" and discuss when pro-union employees will be reviewed
and those that are "at risk" of being terminated.

Taking action against an employee based on union
sympathies, such as firing an employee or directly
asking if they support the union, would be illegal,
said Chuck Cohen, a former member of the National
Labor Relations Board and a partner at Morgan Lewis &
Bockius in Washington. But "employers speculating
about individual union sympathies is not unlawful," he said.

Several times, managers expressed concern that emails could turn up
in a legal case. On May 13, 2005, a manager warned: "Also, not to
sound too 007 here but I am going to ask that we delete these messages after
reading and stick to verbal conversations as none of this is protected under
attorney client privilege and is subject to full disclosure."

In an email the prior day, the manager suggested that managers avoid
"any specific language around 'union avoidance,'" and added, "It's
semantics but we really can to avoid any wording that suggests we engaged
in counter union activity."

In other emails, managers discuss employee
relationships to discern their union preferences. In
one case, executives sought information about a
Halloween party employees attended, and noted that a
discussion about the union between two employees ended
in part because they "were attracted to each other and
this became the focus of their evening."

Write to Kris Maher at kris.maher@wsj.com

Friday, 11 January 2008

MSN Priorities for the Apparel Industry in 2008

This past December, the Maquila Solidarity Network sought your advice in cleaning up apparel industry. MSN supporters have spoken, and the top priorities are:

- Pay a living wage.
- Respect workers' right to freedom of association.
- Deal with purchasing practices!

See MSN supporters identify priorities for the new year for full details.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Canadian labour Congress supports Bolivia

From The Bullet, No. 78 (January 1, 2008), published by the Socialist Project:

Canadian Workers in Support of Bolivia and Morales

In recent months, the process of democratic renewal and indigenous
liberation in Bolivia, headed by president Evo Morales, has come under
violent assault from rightist forces aligned with the U.S. government.
Physical disruption of Bolivia's Constituent Assembly prevented it from
meeting for several months. Now that the Assembly has presented its
proposed new constitution for referendum, the rightists are threatening a
breakaway by Bolivia's eastern provinces.

In response to these threats, the Canadian Labour Congress has expressed
"its solidarity with the democratically elected government and its support
for the constitutional reforms demanded by the majority of Bolivians." We
reproduce this important letter, signed by CLC President Ken Georgetti,

As the proposed constitution proceeds toward a vote, support is urgently
needed for Bolivia's independence, integrity, and democratic institutions.
Solidarity activity is being coordinated through the Bolivia Action
Solidarity Network (http://www.grupoapoyo.org/basn or write
bolivia@grupoapoyo.org). We print below their founding statement.


December 19, 2007

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON
By fax: 613-941-6900

Dear Prime Minister:

On behalf of the 3.2 million working Canadian men and women affiliated to
the Canadian Labour Congress, I am writing to encourage you to extend
Canada's support for the people and government of Bolivia, in the face of
conflict surrounding the new Bolivian constitution. This action would be in
line with the governments of nine Latin American countries (Argentina,
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Paraguay, Uruguay and
Venezuela). It would be in line with a statement from the Organization of
American States (OAS) and would also be in keeping with Canada's expressed
interest in renewing and strengthening relations with our “neighbourhood”
of the Americas.

President Evo Morales was elected in December 2005, with a clear mandate,
as the first Indigenous president of Bolivia representing a large
Indigenous majority. President Morales fulfilled his promise to convene a
Constituent Assembly, with the mandate to fully integrate the indigenous
majorities in the political sphere and improve their situation after
centuries of social injustice. The Constituent Assembly was to submit the
constitutional text for approval by means of a referendum.

The opposition governors of five of the nine Bolivian departments
(Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando) said Monday that they
would not recognize the new constitution which is supported by President
Evo Morales and had been approved on Sunday. They confirmed that four of
them will apply their regional autonomy regardless of the constitution.
This is clearly an attempt to destabilize the democratic process in Bolivia
and should be rejected.

While the minority opposition has every right to have its voice heard in
the constitutional process, their systematic interruption of the
Constituent Assembly's sittings, as well as recent violent protests, calls
for civil disobedience and ugly racist declarations are impeding the
exercise of a democratic process.

The Canadian Labour Congress expresses its solidarity with the
democratically elected government and its support for the constitutional
reforms demanded by the majority of Bolivians.

We condemn the calls to violence and secession, these which are
anti-democratic attempts to destabilize the country and deny the oppressed
majority their right to reshape Bolivia on a more equitable basis and in
recognition of its First Nations.

We have confidence that President Evo Morales will manage the current
situation, with respect for democratic principles, and will ensure that
Bolivian political forces maintain a climate of dialogue and understanding,
rejecting all attempts that endanger the stability of the country's
institutions and the democratically elected government.


Kenneth V. Georgetti

CLC Officers and Executive Assistants
CLC Executive Committee
The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs;
The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour;
The Honourable Jack Layton, New Democratic Party of Canada;
The Honourable Stephane Dion, Liberal Party of Canada;
Mr. Gilles Duceppe, Bloc Quebecois;
Ms. Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada;
Embassy of Bolivia in Ottawa


Bolivia Solidarity Action Network
Founding Statement
December 2007

The violent campaign of Bolivian right-wingers, incited and supported by
foreign interests arouses our deep concern and shows the need for creative
and militant solidarity.

As members of different organizations acting in solidarity with the
Bolivian people and as residents of several major cities in Canada and
Quebec (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Gatineau, and Ottawa), we have
therefore decided to coordinate our efforts, unite in our mission of
solidarity, and create a new framework that will assist and reflect the
advances of Bolivia's heroic people. These actions will be organized and
coordinated with different unions, coalitions, solidarity committees, and
social organizations of Canada, Quebec and Bolivia.

We utilize this time of year-end celebration to announce the creation of
the Bolivia Solidarity Action Network (Canada and Quebec). Let us work for
a Christmas of peace, love, justice, and solidarity and a new year of new
and decisive steps to dismantle the colonial system, defeat neoliberal
injustice, and deepen social revolution in Bolivia and Abya-Yala.

For the Bolivia Solidarity Action Network (BSAN):
Frida Alzugaray, Ángel Espinoza, Roberto López, René Navarro, Carole
Ouellette, Rosalia Paive, Adriana Paz, John Riddell, Gustavo Saavedra, Iana
Saavedra Ouellette, Marcelo Saavedra-Vargas, Vicente Urquizu, Suzanne
Weiss, Gilberto Valencia

We appeal to all friends of Latin America to support this effort:

1. Write the Network at bolivia@grupoapoyo.org and get on its mailing
2. Become an active member of the Network.
3. Organize discussions on the crisis in Bolivia in union bodies,
solidarity committees, and other popular committees. The Network will
provide background information and speakers upon request.
4. Pass resolutions defending Bolivia's sovereignty and integrity. See for
comparison the statement of Canadian Labour Congress Ken Georgetti this
month, which is reproduced at http://bolivia.grupoapoyo.org.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

With Apologies to Poland's Solidarity Union!

Most people quickly recognize the logo for Poland's famous Solidarity union and know that this is definitely a union that has helped change the world for the better.

Recently a TorontotheBetter representative asked me to take this logo, change it into English and make a poster of it. I did so and then used the image to make greeting cards and T-shirts as well.

TorontotheBetter now has some of the cards and will be getting more. And, of course, the cards, posters and T-shirts are always available through Colouration(sallie@ican.net)

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Not Just Tourists Toronto needs donated space

From the January 3, 2008 Social Justice News from the Centre for Social Justice:

Not Just Tourists Toronto

This is a reminder that Not Just Tourists Toronto is now more desperate than ever in our quest to find donated space to house our project.

We collect surplus medicines and medical supplies along with used suitcases. We put the two together and send ten kilos of humanitarian aid with tourists as they travel to developing countries, particularly Cuba.

We need 750 to 1000 square feet of donated space in which we can sort and store donated materials & suitcases and to pack them for tourists. The suitcases are then moved off premises to private homes where tourists pick them up.

We need access to the space during the day and for one or two evenings a week till 10:00pm when 6-8 volunteers are involved in our work.

Last year we salvaged 4.6 tonnes of material that were destined for land-fill and sent much-needed donations to developing countries in the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Africa.

You can learn more about Not Just Tourists Toronto by visiting our web site at www.njttoronto.ca.

This project will cease to exist unless we find suitable donated space by January 31, 2008.

Contact: Bill Howes, (416) 485-0175; email: bill.howes@hotmail.com

Tuesday, 1 January 2008



SAVE THE DATE for Toronto Social Forum 2008!

DATE: Saturday, January 26, 2008 - 7 p.m.
PLACE: 55 Gould Street, Ryerson Student Centre
INFO: tsf@ryerson.ca

This year the World Social Forum has called for a Global Day of Action in
the week of January 26th (the usual date of the WSF gatherings). More than
1,600 organizations and individuals around the world have already signed
the call committing to organize activities during that week. In Toronto we
intend to be part of this worldwide movement.

As our part of the Global Day of Action, the Toronto Social Forum is
inviting organizations and artists to come together to represent our local
struggles and cultures through music, performance and art in a public

As the Global Day of Action is close to the date of the twentieth
anniversary of one of the greatest victories of the women's movement in
Canada and in Toronto - the Supreme Court's Morgentaler decision striking
down the abortion law - we will kick off our evening of culture with a
tribute to that victory and the women's movement today.

This evening will be a gathering of communities and movements from across
the City to celebrate activism and global/local connections.

If your organization is interested in co-sponsoring the event, please
contact tsf@ryerson.ca for more information. A limited amount of tabling
space will also be available - please contact us by January 14th to book