April sees the eightieth anniversary of the start of the On-to-Ottawa Trek. We’d rather not wait to mention and think about the parallels between what caused the trek and where we are in 2015, they are that powerful. The trek was a social movement born of the immense difficulties of the Great Depression in western Canada. A large body of unemployed and disaffected men gathered and moved by rail toward the capital, orchestrated largely by the Communist Party of Canada, in order to protest their treatment at the hands of economic forces.
Just what a dramatic potential challenge to the austerity economics of the Canadian government the trek represented is largely forgotten. The tepid efforts of the federal government to do much for the unemployed beyond the provision of a system of labour camps offering a wage of twenty-cents-a-day provoked anger in many Canadians. The Tories botched their handling of the trek, which culminated in political scandal and the Regina Riot with two dead and over one hundred arrests. The next federal election saw the governing Conservatives punished with the loss of ninety-five seats.
Comparing the state of men labouring at twenty-cents-a-day to the interns and low wage workers of right now shouldn’t require much effort, whether you are the government or a working person. In fact, there would seem to be a continuity. Instead of railway boxcars we have, perhaps, the Internet drawing the ninety-nine percent together in a common cause; the fight against harmful impersonal economic forces that look set to overwhelm society.
The historian in us was drawn this week to black and white photos of men riding boxcars eastward. At first they seem like tokens of another world. Within minutes the same Twitter feed that brought us eighty years into the past delivered these two items.
Unpaid labour fits into Harper’s plan: Mallick
Employers embrace the warm glow of paying their staff enough to live on. The Walmart effect and the example of certain London local councils has led to pay rises for many. But poverty wages elsewhere could be hard to shift
image: On-to-Ottawa trekkers boarding rail cars in Kamloops, BC. Archives Canada via Wikimedia Commons
Income inequality is a major influence on life in Toronto, says a new report from the United Way.
Toronto’s income inequality growing at double the national average, report finds
Time and money in the 905: it’s amazing the stranglehold car commuting puts on us. In Brampton, a family is trying to work their way around the weighty inevitability of it all. Coincidentally, the Toronto Star looked at their efforts right at the time of the Toronto International Auto Show, a major fest of cool cars and long payment plans.
Car-less in the 905. One family’s quest for automotive freedom. A Brampton family dares to exercise its options and trade two cars for more time together
Nobody is saying the car economy is exactly over. Just that change is coming and change is possible…
6 reasons why cargo bikes are the next big thing grist.org
You may not always get a thank you note…
My life as an, um, activist raisethehammer.org
One dad’s Twitter photo essay on his daughter’s perilous walk to school streetsblog.org
See also: (179) Automobituary
image: wyliepoon via Flickr/CC
Ontario has yanked the license of a major private career college with fourteen campuses. Hard times for students left in the lurch but question marks have been hanging over these organizations for pretty much a generation now. The fast-growing career institutes parallel the not-for-profit, government-funded community college system yet charge much steeper tuition for their programs. The parent company of Everest has had some questionable moments in the United States, perhaps that triggered the province to look more closely. Everest was also responsible for one of the most brutal late-night infomercials in the long and malignant history of that loathsome media form.
Private-career colleges forcing students to take on more debt with lackluster results and poor job prospects
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations/Alliance Canadienne des associations etudiants
Neoconservatives hacking away at government programs and nasty public fiscal zealotry might have made for an edgy economics seminar in 1972. Today, those things are no better than begging for disaster.
Canada shouldn’t model dodgy European austerity: political economist. Practise used to ‘pander to the rich,’ Mark Blyth says
Canada’s federal Tories have talked up their income splitting plan as a form of relief for families, something to strengthen the country. Critics are pointing out that the benefits of this three billion dollar giveaway are directed nowhere near those most in need. The Broadbent Institute has released material that mocks the new tax mechanism as belonging to a long gone era.
Op-ed: Income splitting a tax gift for the affluent
How much money is $3-billion infographic
image: screenshot Broadbent Institute site
Q: So what makes a mild-mannered physics instructor turn into a seething rebel?
A: Getting ripped off, apparently.
Enough’s enough. Contract teaching at a Canadian University
See also: (524) Working at Western
image: Dr. Cyclops via Wikimedia Commons