Saturday, 22 March 2008

Appeal for Solidarity with UofT New College

A recent appeal from the IWW GMB Toronto email list:

Hi Everyone,

I met some of you at the Common Cause conference/various events and
know some of you are fellow students at the University of Toronto.
Yesterday, me and others organized a rally and sit-in at governing
council (Simcoe Hall) to demand an end to rent increases for New
College Residence as well as tuition and other fee increases. We
wanted dialogue, to speak with UofT president, David Naylor, in person
or on the phone. Instead, the administration called in the police to
violently remove students they are supposed to be accountable to.
This was disgraceful, especially considering we had a minor in the

I am pleading for letters of solidarity as soon as possible, given the
lack of support from one reactionary careerist student union (The New
College Student Union), which not only disavowed our action but
claimed that they did not support our moves to bring in other issues,
including having speakers from New College workers. We need all the
support we can get in order to oppose the growing corporatization of
our campus/police brutality, and in support of making education
accessible to all.

Press Release -
Photo Essay on Linchpin -

In Solidarity,

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Good Catch Power Down for Earth Hour

Another great event at Good Catch General Store:

Good Catch Power Down for Earth Hour:
Potluck, show and tell, and bring music makers for solidarity to Earth Hour

Saturday, March 29, 2008; 11:00am - 10:00pm; 1556 Queen Street West

We are hosting a Power Down Activities Day at Good Catch on Saturday March 29th from 11am until 10pm.

The theme is "Power Down" in commemoration for the international efforts that day of Earth Hour. Anyone interested in sharing information, conducting a casual show and tell or workshop and certainly of participating in the potluck and Earth Hour candlelight and music making brouhaha - please let us know! We will update our website of any scheduled events for this day on our website under the section "Good Catch Presents".

In general - we invite all to stroll in and participate in decorating the front window with Power Down suggestions for the community to read and learn from so we can all progressively become humbler creatures on this Good Earth. Giveaways and prizes to be won!

Hot tea and cocoa all day. Potluck all day (a suggestion is to make something that somehow was made in a Power Down sort of way). Bring music makers, bring lanterns for an evening in the park out back if the stars are out.

Please call 416-533-4664 or email us your interest.

2008 TorontoTheBetter 3rd Annual Film Series starts March 20th with You Can't Do It In Europe

Can't Do It In Europe - 2008 TorontoTheBetter 3rd Annual Film Series

Date: Thursday, March 20, 2008
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Concord Cafe, 937 Bloor Street West (between Ossington and Delaware

Welcome to the 2008 TorontoTheBetter 3rd Annual Film Series:
Everyday Economic Choices for a Better Toronto and a Better World

Presenting PWYC Movie, Discussion, Action...

Courtesy of First Run / Icarus Films
Can't Do It In Europe
A Film by Charlotta Capcutt, Anna Weitz & Anna Klara

Already visited Paris, Rome, Berlin, Madrid and the other great cities of Europe? Looking for a truly unusual tourist spot? Then how about the silver mines of Potosi in Bolivia, billed as "the best adventure in the Cerro Ricco," where you can don helmets, gloves and overalls and descend into the dark, stiflingly hot, and polluted mines to watch real Bolivian miners at work?

CAN'T DO IT IN EUROPE portrays this new phenomenon of 'reality tourism,' whereby bored American or European travelers seek out real-life experiences as exciting tourist "adventures." The film follows a group of such international tourists as they visit the mines in Potosi—the poorest city in the poorest nation in Latin America—where Bolivian miners work by hand, just as they did centuries ago, to extract silver from the earth.

Sponsored by:
Bazant Unique Adornments
Department of Antropology/U of T
Libra Information Co-op c/o TorontoTheBetter
IWW GMB Toronto

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

EthicScan quoted on IT business ethics

David Nitkin of EthicScan Canada provides the lead-in quote for a recent article, Canadian IT companies need to bone up on business ethics according to analysts:

"By developing regulations that are in synch with the values of its workers and customers, a company can boost its bottom line attract and retain more talent and nurture a favourable image among its clientele, says David Nitkin, president of EthicScan Canada Limited, a full-service ethics consultancy firm based in Toronto.

But, Nitkin said, the records of many Canadian IT firms remain spotty at best when considering issues such anti-harassment policies, good governance, conduct towards customers and competition and environmental policies.

"Many IT companies in Canada do not even have a whistle blower protection program," he said."

Coca-Cola, the China Olympics & Darfur

From the March 13, 2008 Stop Killer Coke Newsletter:

"The Coca-Cola Co. has recently come under criticism due to its involvement
as a major sponsor of the 2008 Olympic games in China because China
supports the Sudanese government. Director Steven Spielberg quit his post
as an artistic adviser of the 2008 Olympics and Mia Farrow linked The
Coca-Cola Co. and human rights abuses in Darfur saying: “Tell Coca-Cola
you're switching to Pepsi.” Farrow says the government of Sudan, largely
financed by Chinese oil money and armed with Chinese-made weapons, has
declared war on the rural, agrarian tribal people of Darfur. According to
Farrow, China buys about 70 percent of its oil from Sudan. (The Capital
Times, 2/23/08)

"I first heard of Darfur in 2004, that there was something terrible
happening in this remote part of Africa," she said. “…2.5 million people
are refugees in the area and that probably more than 400,000 have been
killed in ethnic violence. We don't really know how many have died. The
United Nations count stopped at 200,000 because there is now no one to
count the bodies."

According to a recent Associated Press report, the already difficult
situation in Darfur has worsened recently as the result of new fighting,
including aerial bombing and increased banditry of humanitarian aid.
Coca-Cola board member Peter Ueberroth is the chair of the U.S. Olympic
Committee. Despite an embargo of Sudan, Coca-Cola continues operating
there. Jeffrey Gettleman reported in The New York Times (10/24/06) "In
2002, Sudanese investors opened a new Coca-Cola factory, with Coke syrup
legally exported to Sudan under an exemption for food and medicine. The
$140-million plant churns out 100,000 bottles of Coke, Sprite and Fanta
per hour..."

In opening up the plant, The Coca-Cola Co. exploited a loophole in the
U.S. sanctions, thus propping up the Sudan economy and the government of
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, an army general who seized power in 1989
through a military coup. Among the biggest beneficiaries of government
revenues have been his troops in a country where the per capita income
remains pitiful low. Later, as the Darfur violence developed, Coca-Cola
has continued to supply the plant and ignored the atrocities in Darfur.
According to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of Treasury
Department, Coca-Cola has paid fines "to settle allegations of violations
of the Sudan sanctions occurring between Jan. 2002 and April 2004...OFAC
alleged that Coca-Cola exported to its bottler in Sudan services not
authorized by its OFAC license and disregarded or evaded certain OFAC
license restrictions. The services included financial and market support."

Warren Buffet, who left Coca-Cola's board in 2006, but remains the
company's largest shareholder with about 8.7% of common shares
outstanding, worth nearly $12 billion, is also a major investor in
the PetroChina Oil Company which gets oil from Sudan and has been targeted
by the Sudan divestment community. "Oil has turned it [Sudan] into one of
the fastest-growing economies in Africa, if not the world,
emboldening the nation's already belligerent government and giving it the
wherewithal to resist the Western demands to end the conflict in Darfur,"
The New York Times has reported.

Another issue linking Coke to China’'s abuses was exposed in a BBC report
that China used prison labor to work on Coca-Cola merchandise: “Jon Sims
says he was imprisoned in Zhejiang province in 2006, because of a
financial dispute over the divorce settlement with his Chinese wife. It
was in Ningbo prison, he told the BBC, that he was made to work on
merchandise intended for the company.”
Washington Post, "Human Rights, and Wrongs," By Sally Jenkins, February
22, 28

"But American corporate executives will find it less easy to cop
[International Olympic Committee President Jacques] Rogge's plea of
ineffectuality, and they certainly can't plead that they are 'apolitical.'
Seven of the top 12 Beijing Games sponsors are American, and they have
poured money into the event in return for Olympic-sized access to the
Chinese market. You should know who they are: Visa, Kodak, Johnson &
Johnson, McDonald's [one of Coke’s largest customers], General Electric,
John Hancock and Coca-Cola."
The Capital Times, "We must help Darfur, Mia Farrow tells teachers here,"
By Susan Troller, February 23, 208

" 'Boycott the opening of the Olympics. Contact the sponsors. Tell
Coca-Cola you're switching to Pepsi, or tell McDonald's you're going to
eat at Burger King,' she [Mia Farrow] said. Other sponsors she cited
included Budweiser and UPS.

"But U.S. Olympic Committee chair [and Coke Director] Peter Ueberroth said
in Atlanta recently that he wants American athletes to focus on being good
guests, not outspoken reformers, according to an Associated Press story.”
Huffington Post, “Spielberg Drops Out As Beijing Olympics Adviser Over
Darfur,” By Dave Skretta, February 12, 2008

“ Film director Steven Spielberg and actress Mia Farrow joined activists
worldwide Tuesday in using the Olympics as a backdrop to address human
rights concerns, urging Beijing to exert political leverage on Sudan's
government to help end the crisis in Darfur. Spielberg announced he would
no longer act as an artistic adviser for the opening and closing
ceremonies, saying he could not reconcile working on the Olympics while
China and other nations were not doing enough to ease the suffering.”
BBC News, "Coke says no China jail labour," By Paul Danahar, May 21, 2007

"It was in Ningbo prison, he [Jon Sims} told the BBC, that he was made to
work on merchandise intended for the company [Coca-Cola].

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Parkdale Street Writers; CERLAC celebration; Green Economy course

Event announcements from the Toronto Social Forum:


DATES: Tuesdays, April 1st to June 3rd, 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
PLACE: Parkdale Library, 1303 Queen Street West (basement auditorium)
COST: Free, but you must register - snacks and supplies provided
AGES: 16-24
INFO: or 416-779-1448 or

Do you keep a blog? Constantly update your Facebook page? Write
super-long e-mails? Make up stories and poems in your head? Why not join
the Parkdale Street Writers, a boot camp for young dreamers.

Ten weeks of free writing workshops led by kick-ass local authors,
cartoonists, hip-hop poets, and street artists! You don't have to be a
great writer. Just be prepared to have fun! Write about real life.
Produce song lyrics and poems. Create your own comics. Interview people.
Find and make art. Publish your work. Get advice from professionals.
Select other kinds of writing for us to do.

Work directly with published authors and artists like:
Mariko Tamaki, author of Skim, Fake ID and True Lies: A Book of Bad Advice
Willow Dawson, comic artist and illustrator
Mindbender, hip-hop lyricist and M.C.
Kristyn Dunnion, author of Moshpit, Missing Matthew and Big Bad Sky
Emily Pohl-Weary, author of Strange Times at Western High and A Girl Like
Stro1, street artist and videographer


DATE: Thursday, March 13, 2008, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
PLACE: 280 York Lanes, York University
INFO:, 416-736-5237,

Please join us for a celebration of the recent publications of CERLAC
Fellows and Associates. Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be served.
A cash bar will be available.

Please follow the link above to see a list of books that will be presented
and available at the event.


COURSE DATES: Fridays, March 14th to May 16th, 2008, 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.
REGISTRATION: ASAP, by e-mailing
PLACE: OISE, U of T, 252 Bloor Street West, Room 8-214
COST: $180

The Green Economy is, since 1992, Toronto's premier course on green
economic alternatives, formerly offered by the Labour Education Centre.
It runs 30 hours over 10 weeks, and features Toronto's cutting-edge
innovators in green development.

Sessions planned for this year will include:
- Principles of Green Economics
- Local-Sustainable Food Systems
- The Soft Energy Path
- Green Jobs and Social Justice
- The New Electronic Commons and Peer Production
- Green Building and Urban Design
- Socially-Responsible Investment
- Community Indicators and Vital Signs
- Sustainable Transportation

Co-sponsored by the TLC, the Coalition for a Green Economy, and Green
Enterprise Toronto (GET). For other great TLC events, see

Saturday, 15 March 2008

York Students Win No-Sweatshop Commitment with 45-Hour Sit-In

York Students Win No-Sweatshop Commitment with 45-Hour Sit-In:
Students' Victory Marks International Women's Day

TORONTO, March 8 /CNW/ - This morning, York University President Mamdouh
Shoukri met with students who had been holding a sit-in outside of his office
since 2:00 p.m. on Thursday. Shoukri committed to introduce a no-sweatshop
policy for York University by April 2008. "The policy will be at least as
progressive as U of T's and other universities', if not more," said Mamdouh
Shoukri, President of York University. "If other universities have had this
policy and withstood the test of time, I don't see why we can't do it too."

The York University president's commitment is the result of a 45 hour
sit-in by members of the York Sustainable Purchasing Coalition and their supporters.
The Coalition is a student group that has been lobbying York University for a
no-sweatshop policy for the past three years. "We are exhausted but pleased
with this commitment," said Terrance Luscombe, a York University student and
member of the Sustainable Purchasing Coalition. "York students don't want our
university to condone the use of sweatshop labour and we don't understand why
it took so long for university administrators to join the 21st Century and
make this simple commitment."

The Sustainable Purchasing Coalition held a rally Thursday asking the
university to adopt students' proposed 'no-sweat' policy. Immediately
following the rally, the students attempted to deliver a petition containing
more than 1,000 signatures in support of a no-sweatshop policy to President
Shoukri. When they were told the president was unavailable to see them, the
students decided to stay. The sit-in continued with students camping out for
two nights. "This is an excellent way to mark the 100th anniversary of
International Women's Day," said Kelly Holloway, President of the York
University Graduate Students' Association. "Unfortunately millions of workers
around the world, and even in North America, are still paid appallingly low
wages and denied basic workplace rights. We look forward to seeing York's
no-sweatshop policy in place by next month."

International Women's Day commemorates the efforts of 15,000 immigrant
women garment workers who demonstrated on the streets of New York City in
1908 to demand fair pay, shorter work hours, an end to child labour and the
right to vote.

A second meeting between representatives of the Sustainable Purchasing
Coalition and the president of York University will take place on Monday.

For further information: Terrance Luscombe, York Sustainable Purchasing
Coalition, (647) 834-3899; or Kelly Holloway, President, York University
Graduate Students' Association, (647) 886-0729

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Green Transition Conference; April 3rd and 4th, 2008

From the latest Green Enterprise Toronto Email Newsleter:

The Green Transition Conference
Toronto Botanical Garden, April 3-4

Going green presents unique challenges for small to medium businesses. Business owners and managers question, can we really go green? Learn from the examples of some of Canada's industry leaders.

Visit the Conference's web page for more information.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Justice in the Maquiladoras Speaking Tour

The Toronto Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World presents:
Justice in the Maquiladoras Speaking Tour

Sunday, March 16th 3pm, at the Concord Cafe
(937 Bloor St. West, two blocks west of Ossington Subway station)

Come learn about the grassroots movement of maquiladora workers, their
struggles against some of the world's most powerful corporations
(including Sony Electronics, Chrysler and Levis), their challenges,
and inspiring victories. The Coalition for Justice in the
Maquiladoras is currently focused on a campaign to form an independent
union at the automotive parts manufacturer Key Safety Systems,
employing over 2 000 workers in Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Workers here are organizing to raise their wages above the current $8
per day, institute meaningful health and safety measures and ensure
women's rights are respected. The company has responded by firing
five of the rank and file leaders. Workers in the plant are
increasing their organizing, while the CJM has mounted an
international speaking tour to organize support. Key Safety Systems
is a leading supplier of steering wheels and airbags for General
Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

For more information about this event contact the Toronto IWW at:

About the speakers:

Martha Ojeda is the Executive Director of the CJM, based in San
Antonio, Texas. She is the primary liaison between
the core grassroots committees of workers and community activists
living in the communities surrounding the maquiladoras (production for
export factories), and the broader network of Mexican, Canadian and US
unions and NGOs that support the work of these groups. Martha was
originally a production worker at a Sony Electronics plant, she was
fired after helping initiate a strike for higher wages and improved
working conditions. Facing threats to her life, she fled to the
United States, where she was instrumental in forming the CJM in the
late nineties.

Israel Monroy works at the Key Safety Systems auto parts plant in
Valle Hermoso, a small town dominated by
maquiladoras on the northern border of Mexico. He is a key activist
and leader in the CJM's campaign to improve working conditions in this
factory, as well as other local maquiladoras.

Perla Cruz was recently fired by Key Safety Systems in Valle Hermoso
for being an outspoken activist on health and
safety concerns and women's rights within the plant. This speaking
tour is being organized specifically to build support for the CJM's
campaign at KSS.

About the CJM:

The CJM was founded in 1997 as a Mexican-Canadian-US-Dominican
network of labour, religious, women's and environmental organizations
committed to supporting the organizing efforts of maquiladora workers.
The centre of the CJM are grassroots groups maquiladora workers and
local community members based in northern Mexican cities including
Matamoros, Valle Hermoso, Juarez, Mexicali, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and
Tijuana. Supporting organizations assist with fundraising, legal
support, solidarity campaigns, training and public awareness.

The CJM was instrumental in pressuring Levis Jeans to recognize an
independent union at its plant in northern Mexico in 2006, an almost
unprecedented achievement in the maquiladoras. Local CJM affiliates
have mounted numerous campaigns to train maquiladora employees in
their rights, organize against the dumping of toxic waste from the
factories and advance women's rights and equity. A current major
campaign of the CJM is to win improved working conditions at the Key
Safety Systems factory in Valle Hermoso, Mexico, employing over two
thousand workers assembling components for GM, Ford and Chrysler.

For more information on the CJM visit