Wednesday, March 30, 2005
March 23, 2005
VANCOUVER (CP) - The chairman and chief executive of Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. has stepped aside temporarily due to an investigation into allegations of irregularities while he was the governor of Panama's Cocle province.
The company said Wednesday that no charges have been laid against Richard Fifer, but in the interest of good corporate governance he would step aside for the time being. Fifer will continue to serve the Vancouver company in a non-executive role and will remain on its board.
Petaquilla is a Canadian-based mineral explorer focused on developing a property in north-central Panama containing copper, gold, silver and molybdenum, a specialty industrial metal.
Richard Fifer is accused of embezzelment and shady dealings in Panama, hoping to cash in on his links to the government and knowing in advance the expansion plans for the Panama Canel he suddely revives his mining company reserves in Panama exactly where the Canel is supposed to expand.
Meanwhile he is financing his Canadian based Panama Mining operations in the infamous Vancouver Stock exchange, notorious for it's insider trading and other swindles and scandals. And along comes Fifer to create another one.
See my Alberta Stock Exchange Scandal for more on the Vancouver Exchange.
If there ever was the need for a SINGLE Regulator over the five Canadian exchanges, here is another good example of why.
And of course Fifers mining operations are an environmental hazard, being a get in, get out, get rich quick scheme. Is this another Bre X in the making?
You would of course never know this from the CP story. So I have added background news on Fifer from Panama.
Vol. 11, No. 5
March 6 - 19, 2005
Panamanian government officials, IADB used as stage props by Fifer’s company
Canadian authorities looking at Petaquilla Minerals over possible insider trading
by Eric Jackson
Petaquilla Minerals Ltd, which has an extensive but never operational mining concession for northern Cocle and western Colon provinces that may be in the way of plans to expand the Panama Canal, may be in trouble with Canadian authorities over transactions on the Toronto Stock exchange.
Former Cocle governor Richard Fifer, the CEO of Petaquilla Minerals Ltd, was charged with embezzling public funds while serving as governor of Cocle on February 4. An arrest warrant was issued and Fifer went into hiding while his lawyers sought to quash the warrant. On February 10, while Fifer was a fugitive from Panamanian justice and before there had been any mention at all about his trouble in the Canadian press, Petaquilla sold 500,000 company shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange. On February 21, a court in Cocle province cancelled the arrest warrant but not the charges, and required Fifer to report to police every 15 days and prohibited him from leaving the country.
On February 20, while Fifer was still sought by Panamanian authorities, President Martín Torrijos and officials of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) appeared at a ceremony in La Pintada, Cocle, to announce a $20 million contract for several projects, including improvements to the road to Coclesito.* At that event Torrijos was photographed with Petaquilla CFO Kenneth W. Morgan, and the company used that photograph and a deceptive headline to imply that the bank is supporting the company’s purported mining development. (That clipping is found on the Internet here.) In another press release about the event, Petaquilla claimed, without citing a date, that Morgan and Fifer met with the Vice-Minister of Commerce and Industry (See here.)
The Panama News asked the Presidencia and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry whether officials of the Torrijos administration had met with Fifer while he was a fugitive from justice. A spokesman for President Torrijos referred The Panama News to Petaquilla for answers to that question. A spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that no such meeting showed up on the ministry’s logs.
Meanwhile, this reporter contacted the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), which oversees activities on the Toronto Stock Exchange, asking if it would have constituted insider trading for Petaquilla to sell shares on the exchange when the fact that its CEO was a fugitive from justice was undisclosed to the Canadian market.
In a delayed response to the questions from The Panama News, the OSC acknowledged the February 10 transaction, and said that "your email has been forwarded to appropriate OSC staff for further review" but added that "the OSC does not generally disclose the existence or status of a review or investigation until we issue a Statement of Allegations and the matter becomes part of the public record."
The OSC also pointed out that "[o]n February 25, PTQ responded to news reports in Panama regarding the investigation of their Chairman and CEO Richard Fifer.... [t]he News Release does not seem to have had a dramatic effect on the stock price."
From the company's perspective, continuity in the stock price was the objective. But the problem is that the Petaquilla press statement was a lie.
Petaquilla Addresses Press Reports
Distribution Source : CCNMatthews
Date : Friday - February 25, 2005
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthe ws - Feb. 25, 2005) - Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. ("the Company")(TSX:PTQ)( OTCBB:PTQMF) has responded to news reports in Panama that Richard Fifer, Chairman and CEO of the Company, is being investigated for alleged irregularities while Governor of Cocle Province, Panama.
The Company has retained independent legal counsel in Panama to investigate the allegations against Mr. Fifer.
The Company has been informed that there are no outstanding warrant orders, charges or arrest orders for Mr. Fifer, despite what some newspaper articles are currently reporting.
The Board of Directors assures all stakeholders that it will continue to seek additional information and will act decisively and promptly if further action is warranted.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of
PETAQUILLA MINERALS LTD.
"Kenneth W. Morgan"
Kenneth W. Morgan, CFO and Director
Petaquilla Minerals Ltd.
Kenneth W. Morgan
CFO and Director
No stock exchange has approved or disapproved the information contained herein.
Vol. 11, No. 4
Feb. 20 - March 5, 2005
Is this an alleged embezzler’s ploy to cash in on canal expansion?
Just as the Cerro Petaquilla mine promoters say they're set to start, problems arise
by Eric Jackson, partly from other media
There’s gold in them hills. Also, copper, silver molybdenum and other mineral resources. Proof of that is the frequency by which the police have to move in to eject wildcatters, many of them Colombian, who wash away hillsides in the forest with high-pressure hoses to get the gold.
But how much of the metal that drives white men crazy, extractable at what cost? And is Cerro Petaquilla really a world-class copper deposit?
These questions could come front and center in Panamanian political discourse within the year, as soon as the Panama Canal Authority issues its plan to expand the canal. If previous suggestions to flood areas west of the canal are part of the plan, then all of a sudden the Cerro Petaquilla mining concession would become the largest single property for which compensation would have to be paid.
Now if that compensation is for mineral rights that have never been proven, let alone exploited, that would lead to one set of assumptions about the value of the concession. But if the concessionaires can claim that they were busy developing a mine when the government came in and declared eminent domain, that could support a different valuation.
In recent weeks a series of reports have appeared in La Prensa and El Panama America, announcing the imminent start of work at the Cerro Petaquilla mining concession, actually a set of nine concessions encompassing some 250 square kilometers of northern Cocle and western Colon provinces, held by Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. That limited partnership includes Vancouver-based Adrian Resources Ltd (listed as ADL on the Toronto Stock Exchange), among whose directors and shareholders is former Cocle Governor Richard Fifer, and Inmet Mining, another Canadian outfit. Richard Fifer is chairman of the board of Petaquilla Minerals Ltd.
In the face it presents to Panama, Cerro Petaquilla has always been Fifer’s project. He first claimed mineral rights at Cerro Petaquilla in 1987. Through his company GeoInfo, this reporter was taken along with other journalists on a tour of Cocle province back in the mid-90s. In the recent corporate mainstream media reports on the project, the Fifer connection is always prominently mentioned. The press releases by the promoters invariably appear over Fifer’s signature.
There are a several interesting features about the recent Cerro Petaquilla stories.
One is that they state certain figures about the amount of copper, gold, silver and molybdenum in the ground at the Cerro Petaquilla concession, generally without attribution and always without question. The figures cited are invariably the concessionaires’ estimates, but are usually presented as undisputed facts.
Another oddity about many of the recent Cerro Petaquilla stories is that they are not by journalists on the staffs of the publications involved, but by freelancers.
And then there’s the story that Reuters disseminated, which announced that a Canadian company had obtained $1 billion in financing and the word to start mining work. But the company denied that it had obtained a line of credit.
Most importantly, Richard Fifer now stands accused of embezzlement. After more than two weeks as a fugitive sought for embezzlement from the government between 1999 and 2002, when he was the governor of Cocle, a court has rescinded a warrant for his arrest but forbidden him to leave the country and required him to report tro police every 15 days while his criminal case is pending. Earlier, from his hiding place he had his lawyers surrender $68,000 he allegedly pilfered from the funds at the Cocle governor’s disposal, and another $47,000 allegedly diverted from Spain’s contribution toward the Arias Brothers Museum in Penonome to the Office of Patrimonial Responsibility. No admission of wrongdoing was made, but prosecutors aren’t calling off the criminal prosecution.
Jan 26-Feb 8. 2002
Fifer replaced as Cocle governor
After complaints from the provincial organization of his own party, arguments with ANAM about permits from projects that would have environmental consequences and a lot of criticism over plans that would establish new pushbuttons in Penonome, Richard Fifer has been removed as governor of Cocle province. The new governor is Irving González and the new lieutenant governor is Ernestina Tejada. Fifer had used his own property to furnish the governor's offices and he took it with him when he left, so not only are provincial employees wondering whether they will have jobs under the new administration, but in many cases they've been having to improvise places to sit and to write.
University takes sides in Penonome pushbutton row
The promoter, Eros Nos, SA, says that it plans to build a "short-term lodging facility," but the Catholic Church and municipal officials in Penonome say that what is really contemplated is a new "pushbutton" place of assignation and they disapprove. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the governor of Cocle have issued some of the necessary permits, but the city refuses to sign off and now the Cocle Regional University Center (CRUC), which is located near the site proposed for the project, has joined the opposition. The administration has criticized the project, a student committee has been formed to moblize public opposition and law students at the University of Panama branch are organizing a possible legal battle to stop the development.
Latin Business Chronicle
Panama Economic and political overview.
Martin Torrijos, a U.S.-educated economist assumed Panama's presidency on September 1, 2004, pledging to negotiate a free trade agreement with United States and implement reforms aimed at reducing government expenditure and taxes. Despite Panama's status as a major trading nation, the country only signed its first free trade agreement in 2002 - with El Salvador.
Torrijos has also vowed to reduce and fight corruption, which was widespread under his predecessor, Mireya Moscoso.( who appointed Fifer as Govenor e.p.) Transparency International gave Panama a score of 3.4 (with 10 being best) on its latest survey of corruption perception.
In addition to a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Panama is home to the world's largest shipping registry, Latin America's largest banking center (in number of banks) and largest free trade zone (Colon Free Zone) and a major offshore company registry.
As a result, Panama is Latin America's most globalized economy, according to the 2004 Globalization Index from A.T. Kearney and Foreign Policy magazine.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
|Prostitution laws under fire|
|Last Updated Mar 29 2005 07:17 PM PST|
| VANCOUVER – An advocacy group representing Vancouver sex-trade workers is calling for the repeal of Canada's prostitution laws that would make street prostitutes' lives safer. |
"Sex Workers Union: Whether strippers, prostitutes, escorts, porn actors, etc. women workers in thus unregulated industry face the dual oppression of being exploited by owners and customers, and their banishment by society at large. The exploitation of children and young adults as well as immigrant women is allowed to exist due to this free market. Laws against prostitution need to be abolished and the regulation of this industry be under workers control through a sex workers union."
Monday, March 28, 2005
They also oppose unions and while not saying it outright they support "right to work" laws, those that would end 'forced unionization' in the work place the ending of the Rand Formula.
"In Canada, the union security clause requires that all workers in a bargaining unit belong to the union and/or pay dues. The mandatory collection of dues is protected from Constitutional challenges under a 1945 ruling by Supreme Court Justice Ivan C Rand (origin of the Rand formula for authorizing dues payment) saying the collective rights of workers supercedes individual rights. These provisions are crucial for unions to maintain control in the workplace."
Could BC be Canada's right-to-work beachhead?
Right wing groups in Canada cross post each others press releases, and research. It is common for a right wing reseracher say with the Fraser Institute to quote from the Cato Institute, both right wing think tanks, to legitmate their research. The same applies to the right wing -anti-abortion, anti-daycare, anti-feminist, and anti-gay lobbies.
For instance a Real Women of Canada Press Release posted on the Canadian Family Action Coalition complains that Taxpayers Fund Gay Legal Challenges for Same-sex Marriage
"With the funds they receive from compulsory union dues, Canadian unions are also financially backing homosexual activists. EGALE lists Canadian Auto Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees and Canadian Labour Congress as its “Gold” sponsors on its website."
Subtle eh, "compulsory union dues" is a phrase used by the right wing opposed to so called 'forced unionization'.
An example of this kind of language can be found at the American Right Wing Anti Union
"NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR LABOR RELATIONS RESEARCH" site.
(don't you love that name, sounds like a government department,
or a legitimate labour relations institute when really is a right wing anti-union lobby front)
Where they say in an article about Canadian Unions: Trouble in Big Labor 'Paradise'
"U.S. Employees Are Free to 'Vote With
Their Feet' Against Forced Unionism
In the U.S., nearly four out of every 10 private-sector employees work in a state with a Right to Work law that bars union officials from forcing anyone to join or pay dues to a union as a job condition. And the share of employees who are protected by Right to Work laws is steadily increasing. Every year, non-Right to Work states suffer an average net loss of roughly 500,O00 citizens who "vote with their feet" by moving to one of the 22 Right to Work states. But not one of Canada's 10 provinces has a Right to Work law. Forced union membership or dues payment is authorized under federal law and under every provincial law. Therefore, employees have no opportunity to "vote with their feet" against forced unionism unless they are willing and able to leave the country! It is not just Canada's lack of any Right to Work protections for employees that appeals to U.S. union officials. They also love the fact that Canadian labor laws put even tighter restrictions on employers' ability to resist the forced unionization of their employees than does U.S. labor law, and that the penalties for recalcitrant employers are far more severe."
And while Canada does not have Right to Work laws, that has not stopped the Right Wing from lobbying for it. As the Labor Notes article Could BC be Canada's right-to-work beachhead? points out. (my comments in bold)
"There are advocates in Canada who see right-to-work as a tonic for the country's economy and a way to free workers from the yoke of "forced unionism". Support comes from the National Citizens Coalition whose "top priority" is "to push governments to reform labour laws so those union bosses can no longer use forced dues to subsidize their political causes." The NCC launched Canadians Against Forced Unionism in Alberta during its 1995 right-to-work debate. The former president of the NCC, Stephen Harper, is the newly elected leader of the Canadian Alliance party. (now the Conservative Party of Canada)
The spokesperson for CAFU was Rob Anders who is now a Calgary Conservative MP .
["Just as the Reform Party lost Harper as an MP to the NCC, it picked up a former NCC employee to run in his seat. Rob Anders, who headed up the NCC's project "Canadians against forced Unionism," was selected by the Reform Party to replace Harper as the candidate in Calgary West. (Prior to being hired by the NCC, Anders was active in the Reform Party club on the University of Calgary's campus. Anders worked on the NCC anti-union project, set up according to Somerville to “expose and oppose Canada's oppression labor laws" from 1994 until November 1996.) He won Harper’s Calgary West riding for the Reform Party in February 1997." ] StephenHarperSaid.ca
Completing the axis of ideological allies, the Fraser Institute's Michael Walker and Fazil Mihlar write, in Unions and Right to Work Laws, that such laws "constrain excessive demands by unions and keep wage increases in line with productivity growth," meaning an employer is likely to hire more workers when wages are lower rather than invest in labour-saving technologies.
Rob Anders, Ezra Levant and Jason Kenny the young Turks on the Right were all student interns at the Fraser Institute. Kenny and Anders are now Conservative MP's, Levant (the mouth that roared) is publisher of the Conservative Western Standard.
Alberta's Ralph Klein government and set up a joint review committee to study the economic benefits of right-to-work in 1995. Organized labour responded with concerted lobbying efforts to stop this scheme from going further. In the end, the committee reported there was no economic justification for introducing right-to-work as Alberta already enjoyed an advantage over the rest of Canada.
Today, the Alberta government continues to pass contentious labour legislation like Bill 12 to prohibit teachers from striking. Could right-to-work be resurrected there anytime soon? Selby thinks not. He explains, "In Alberta, the labour movement is not considered a significant threat to expand much beyond its current base - in other words, the current labour legislation is already doing an admirable job from their point of view." According to the AFL, Alberta has the "worst labour code" and the lowest unionized workforce (23 percent) in Canada."
CLAC is the arm of the Christian Reformed Church in Canada, and was founded here in the 1950's by post WWII Dutch immigrants . The Dutch immigrants came to Southern Alberta and Southern Ontario to farm, and they formed a similar Farmer Association. These are politically right wing associations, opposed to the traditional unions and farmers organizations that created the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and New Democratic Party (NDP).
"The Christian Reformed Church does not allow women to hold official positions in the church and also strongly supports the establishment of private Christian schools , Christian Reformed parents sponsor the largest network of primary and secondary Christian schools in the United States.The CRC has consistently condemned divorce, except when infidelity is part of the picture." New Religious Movements Christian Reformed Church
Christian Reformed Church (CRC) on Labour Unions
Church membership and membership in a labor union are compatible as long as the union does not warrant or champion sin in its regular activities. Church members should discontinue membership in any unions whose common practices are clearly in conflict with the principles of the Word of God. Christian conscience cannot condone membership in a union if it continues in sinful practices in spite of protests against them. Membership in unions which have engaged in sinful practices does not of itself make one liable to ecclesiastical censure, but if church members themselves are guilty of acts contrary to the Word of God, the usual means of discipline should be applied. Churches should be aware of the practices of labor organizations in their communities and vigorously emphasize the scriptural principles regarding the relation of the Christian to the world and the organizations of the world.
The CRC has dealt with the issue of labor unions several times in its history. From the 1880s to the 1940s the following matters were discussed: whether church members ought to be members of labor organizations, whether members of a union are responsible for its decisions and acts, and which labor unions were appropriate for church members. In 1904, 1928, 1930, and 1943, synod reasserted its basic position with regard to unions. In 1934, 1936, and 1943, synod recommended the Christian Labor Organization for moral and financial support. Synod 1965 adopted resolutions of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod regarding Christian organizations. This discussion went beyond labor organizations to include social and political organizations.And what sinful activities does the CRC Oppose; birth control, abortion, in divorce it does not recognize remarriage, the scientific theory of evolution, membership in Freemason or other oath based fraternal Lodges.
They also oppose:" The endorsement or use of contemporary inclusive language for God (both gender-egalitarian and gender-neutral) is unacceptable to the CRC. "
On Dancing, until the 1970's they were opposed to it; "As a result, Christians are not to reject dancing, but to redeem it, realizing that some forms of dancing are more difficult to redeem than others."
They opposed going to movies, The CRCNA made its first official declaration on the topic of film arts in a warning against movie-theater attendance in 1928. But by 1966 "The film arts were then considered a legitimate cultural medium to be used with discernment by Christians."
They support capital punishment " The CRC has declared that modern states are not obligated by Scripture, creed, or principle to institute and practice capital punishment. It does, however, recognize that Scripture acknowledges the right of modern states to institute and practice capital punishment if it is exercised with utmost restraint."
They are biblical literalists; "Holy Scripture in its entirety is the written Word of God, inspired by God to be our rule of faith and practice. This inspiration is organic, extending to the ideas and the words of Scripture, and is so unique that Scripture alone is the Word of God."
"The state is instituted by God and is endowed with power in order that it may promote, within the limits of its authority, the maintenance of human life and its development in agreement with God's law. The state is called to protect the church with all the means given to it by God in order that freedom of conscience to serve God be guaranteed and anti-Christian powers which threaten the church be resisted and prevented. The church recognizes and honors the state for its God-given power and service, faithfully proclaims the gospel to all in the state, and prays for all people, including those who are in authority, in order that all may lead quiet and peaceable lives. The state should not assume the right and power of the only King of the church, Jesus Christ, and should recognize that the church owes allegiance and responsibility to him alone." On Race; The CRC was involved with the Reformed Church of South Africa the church of Aparthied and the Boers. And while they now proclaim to be inclusive that was not always the case;
On War: "Glorification of war for its own sake must be warned against, but pacifism that causes people to refuse to bear arms under any conditions is also to be condemned. The CRC formed its position on war in the 1930s, when the threat of the Second World War loomed and pacifism was a controversial issue. The basic statement adopted by Synod 1939 has not changed."
"During the 1960s and 1970s the church dealt with the issue at home as it struggled through a race-related case regarding Timothy Christian School in Cicero, Illinois, and abroad as it held discussions with the Reformed Churches in South Africa regarding its policy of apartheid.
Synod 1985 appointed a committee to deal specifically with the RCSA and apartheid, awaiting its recommendation rather than acceding to overtures to sever ties with the sister church. In 1989 this committee did recommend suspension of ties of ecclesiastical fellowship, and synod agreed. That suspension was in effect until 1996, when synod lifted the suspension because of changes in the RCSA's position and practices re apartheid and the changes in the political and societal situation in South Africa."
1989, it took till 1989 before the CRC recognized that apartheid was sinful. Gee someone should have told them to talk to Dr. Tutu, Opps nope these are Boers after all. They were one of the last of the Reformed Churches to end their relationship with the Aparthied regime and its Church in South Africa.
These are the Christian values that CLAC supports and promotes.
CLAC supports Right To Work legislation and is opposed to "forced unionization" and opposes the Rand formula, though they abide by it when they "represent" their workers. CLAC does not unionize workers, they approach the employer as labour management consultants and in a private agreement (voluntary representation under the Labour Relations Act) with the boss they become the union for the workers. There is no voting on whether the workers want to be represented by CLAC, it is a private deal between the employer and CLAC.
This has caused CLAC no end of trouble with Labour Relations boards which have ruled that while they are an association they barely fit the judicial definition of a 'union'.
As CLAC says on their web site:
Can I be forced to join the union?
Canadian law has given unions the right to force people to join their ranks as a condition of employment. CLAC believes this is fundamentally wrong and an abuse of Canadians' constitutional right to freedom of association.
It is our policy that no one is forced to belong to CLAC. If you cannot in good conscience support the union, you do not need to sign a membership card, and you can apply to CLAC to have your dues directed to a mutually agreed upon charity. No other union offers this choice or respect for your freedom of association. Workers who are granted non-member status cannot participate in union affairs and have no voting rights."While the Supreme Court ruled that the Rand Formula was the law in Canada, see Lavigne case below, CLAC likes to take the same position that Lavigne and the NCC did back in 1998 that union members who disagree with the unions politics should have the right to put their dues in a Charity.
For instance in their FAQ about CLAC they say about being a "Christian" Association,
"The word "Christian" in our name comes from our distinct philosophy that guides our policies and practices as a trade union."
Yeah right, it comes from being founded by the Christian Reformed Church, a specific Dutch protestant Calvinist faith sect. They can't even be honest about that.
Gee for a Christian organization they sure do fib a lot. They fib about not being in favour of Right To Work while denouncing Forced Unionization, which is right wing talk for the same thing.
CLAC has used their 'Christian' appelation to be able to represent Save-On Foods employees, who never got a chance to vote on being represented by CLAC. A private deal was swung by this Christian Association and Save-On Foods owner, multi-millionare, born again Christian, Jimmy Pattison. It has meant CLAC has a secured source of dues revenues to expand its raids into other sectors, such as healthcare and nursing care in Ontario and Construction in Alberta's oil sands.
What kind of bargaining does CLAC do for the bosses well we will let them speak for themselves: "We have the opportunity to chart a new course in workplace relations. We challenge all, including ourselves, to explore the possibilities of labour-management cooperation and partnership, based on a preponderance of mutual rather than different interests. In this we appeal particularly to the employers of our members, to put aside fears and suspicions, and accept and respect their employees (and their union) as responsible partners." Working at Cross-Purposes By: Ed Grootenboer
Ah gee, that sounds nice doesn't it. We should all get along, what it means in reality is that the partnership CLAC has is with the boss not the workers it reperesents. It will bend over backwards to maintain labour peace at all costs.
It is called corporatism and was practiced in fascist states of Spain, Italy and Germany and by the Catholic Church when it formed it's own labour movement, just like the Christian Reformed Church has.
"Historically, corporatism or corporativism (Italian corporativismo) is a political system in which legislative power is given to corporations that represent economic, industrial, and professional groups. Unlike pluralism, in which many groups must compete for control of the state, in corporatism, certain unelected bodies take a critical role in the decision-making process. This original meaning was not connected with the specific notion of a business corporation, being a rather more general reference to any incorporated body. The word "corporatism" is derived from the Latin word for body, corpus. Ostensibly, the entire society is to be run by decisions made by these corporate groups. It is a form of class collaboration put forward as an alternative to class conflict and was first proposed in Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, which influenced Catholic trade unions which were organised in the early twentieth century to counter the influence of trade unions founded on a socialist ideology." Wikipedia
And like other right wing groups CLAC opposes "compulsory union dues" being used for political purposes.
"Telling you how to vote is one thing. But a good number of unions even use their members’ dues money to support a particular candidate or party—whether members like it or not. And in a much publicized case in the early 1990s, the Supreme Court of Canada told unions they could do so!" Unions and Their Sleeoing Partners By: Gideon Strauss
Sounds just like the complaints from the right wing groups like Real Women, Alberta Federation of Women United for Families, etc. And it should because the Christian Reformed Church is well represented in these groups. For instance the editor of AFWUF is a Christian Reformed Church member. Here's her opinion on fair pay for daycare workers in Alberta.
AFWUF "Voice" Archive
"It Takes A Mom vs Day Care
Fall 2001 Vol 20 No 4
In July, in response to a year of intense lobbying from social workers, daycare owners and career women, Alberta Children's Services Minister Iris Evans announced that the government would begin subsidizing the wages of Alberta's daycare workers. The province already gives grants worth $350 per year for every child in daycare as well as doling out $20 million in subsidies for the most needy parents over the last two years. I'm sure Alberta is not unique and other provinces do the same or more. This means that every Canadian family where mother cares for the family's children is subsidizing the lifestyle choice of those who daily put their children in an institution. Government subsidies to harm children. Now that's sad."
The right wing likes to talk about lifestyle choices, its the same accusation they make against women who have abortions and of course against gays and lesbians.
It's a choice we make; working for a living in a province with the worst labour law and lowest minimum wage in Canada is not a lifestyle choice. It's a neccissity. So both parents work.
Interestingly AFWUF accuses working women as being 'career women', identifying them as privleged. In reality it is career women who can afford nannies, not daycare. These so called career women are in fact the women who serve you in the resteraunt, at the 7/11, or work in daycare centres. Their career is making a living.
Many of Alberta's daycare workers were making minmum wage and even now still are seriously underpaid. But AFWUF doesn't sympathize, why should they, daycare to them is an attempt to destroy the Christian family. The family where the woman knows her place.
CLAC is no better their position on the recent Federal announcement of federal funding to increase public daycare spaces is that government should give money to both daycare funding and child tax credits for stay at home mothers. This is the same position as the Klein government and the Federal Conservatives.
CLAC has its own Research Arm that lobbies for Right to Work, tt's called Work Research Foundation, Van Pelt, Strauss and Pennings have been associated with CLAC, and the funding for WRF comes from CLAC and the Christian Reformed Church of Canada.
The Work Research Foundation was established to influence people to a Christian view of work and to promote the idea of sphere sovereignty as a framework for renewing the economic sphere and public life.
However there is no direct linkage between WRF and CLAC websites, giving the (false) impression that WRF is an independent research foundation. You have to ask why and what are they hiding.
Well WRF like CLAC supports the right wing idea of corporatism. And their vision for labour relations is a right wing corporatist state, a theocratic state where we all work together.
The WRF researches issues surrounding the organization of work, the movement of trade, and leadership in the economic sphere. The WRF organizes its projects on three levels: academic, macro-economics and public policy, and the front-line workplace. Together, these perspectives help us identify the changes that will characterize the contribution of work to our socio-economic prosperity in the decade to come.
The Work Research Foundation (WRF) was incorporated and registered as a charitable organization in 1974, with Harry Antonides as the first part-time research director. Antonides argued for a view of work rooted in the European Christian tradition. In 1983, Antonides launched the WRF Comment, a bimonthly journal devoted to issues of work and public life.
Between 1987 and 1994, Antonides published two books through the Work Research Foundation. Servant or Tyrant? was a collection of papers presented at a joint conference between the Christian Labour Association and the Work Research Foundation, with contributions from Christian luminaries such as Paul Marshall, Michael Novak, and Al Wolters. Servant or Tyrant? explored and analyzed the main trends of contemporary politics, and discussed ways in which Christians can actively preserve and enhance freedom and justice in the political realm. Three Faces of the Law, by Ian Hunter, was based on a series of lectures to the Ottawa Summer School of Biblical and Theological Studies, and critically examined the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its subversion of justice, liberty, and life.
The profile of the WRF increased substantially with a $325,000 project relating to freedom of association from 1997-2000. In March 1997, the WRF commenced its biennial survey of Canadian attitudes toward unions. The survey indicated that Canadians are looking for a less confrontational and adversarial approach to labour relations. The WRF built on this insight over the next few years with conferences and publications devoted to alternative labour relations structures.
In 2000, the WRF developed an aggressive business plan and hired Michael Van Pelt, its first full-time President. Van Pelt rebranded the WRF as a full-fledged research institution and think tank, focussed on investigating work, productivity, and work relationships. Van Pelt hired Dr. Gideon Strauss to edit Comment, and Ray Pennings to create an alternative model for industrial relations policy.
Since then, the WRF has begun to promote a holistic view of the economic sphere, in which the individual worker, the trade union, management, economics, and public policy are vitally interdependent. In projects ranging from its Corporate Partners Program, Sphere Sovereignty Project, and revamped Comment magazine, the WRF is charting a new path for economic life and civil society.
"Overcoming the adversarial labour relations model that has characterized Canadian labour-management relations requires systemic public policy change that, to date, has proved elusive. " Ray Pennings, “Cooperative Labour Relations: Translating Theory into Practice,” a symposium conducted by the Work Research Foundation on November 25 and 26, 1999 in Vancouver, B.C.
"The solution is to create local work communities that model the sort of respect workers and managers owe each other as fellow human beings and to work within structures that reinforce that respect. Besides the good will and positive benefits of living civilly with our neighbours, solutions based on mutual respect are the best recipe for social and economic prosperity."
Beyond Unions? by Ray Pennings Published in the Summer 2002 issue of The Comment
Besides polling to see if there is room to move to a corporatist right to work model of labour organizing, WRF launced an Industrial Relations Institute (another CLAC front group) which proposes:
"Our second project will focus on work organization practices in the construction industry and seek to quantify the various implications that arise from how we organize the workforce. The conventional craft method of organization will be compared with the wall-to-wall and open shop models and we will document the particular challenges and opportunities offered by these different approaches. The construction sector is one of those in which the monopoly model of worker representation is predominant, supported by various legislative provisions across the country. The implications of this model are profound on both a micro and macro economic level and the study we are undertaking should result in a series of monographs and symposiums tentatively planned for the latter part of 2002." Launch of the Centre for Industrial Relations Innovation
(Ingersoll, ON - September 19, 2001; Vancouver, BC - September 26, 2001; Edmonton, AB - October 17, 2001) by Ray Pennings, Chair
With its membership in the right wing World Confederation of Labour, CLAC has contacts with its Christian union counterpart in Venezula, the Central Latino–Americana de Trabajadores (CLAT). It is CLAT workers that CLAC will import into Alberta to work at wages below those of the other Trades Unions.
"It was in 1920 that was founded, in The Hague (Holland), the international trade union organisation currently known as World Confederation of Labour - WCL. Born in the European cradle and inspired by the basic values of Christian humanism, this organisation was constituted under the name of "International Federation of Christian Trade Unions". As was stipulated in the first Statutes, the new international trade union organisation wanted to protect, in an independent and autonomous way, not only the concrete workers' interests but also values such as the dignity of the human being, the priority of labour, democracy, justice and solidarity across the national borders. The Dutchman Pieter Jozef Serrarens was the first secretary-general, the Swiss Joseph Scherrer the first president"
A Brief History of the WCL
"Forced unionization" is right wing speak for right to work and is used by Conservative politicians when they oppose unionized construction projects. In Alberta it is what allowed the Human Resources Minister Mike Cardinal to void the labour relations act in favour of CLAC and Canadian National Resources Ltd. to allow the importation of workers that did not belong to or would be allowed to belong to the Building Trades Unions.
In Manitoba the Conservative opposition whined about Forced Unionization there too.
Mr. Hawranik – Legislative Assembly of Manitoba to request the Premier of Manitoba to consider ending his government's forced unionization plan of companies involved with the Red River Floodway expansion and to consider entering into discussions with business, construction and labour groups to ensure any qualified company and worker, regardless of their union status, is afforded the opportunity to bid and work on the floodway expansion project. (G. Friesen, P. Funk, R. Funk and others)
CLAC attacks the CLC and the CAW as being class war unions, while it portrays itself as the prince of peace in the labour movement. Discussing the CAW dispute with the CLC over raiding in 2000 the WRF news magazine Comment said this:
"Closed shop dogma
But Buzz deserves only two cheers, not three. While the CAW is for the moment a voice for union choice, it is not yet a voice for thoroughgoing freedom of association, and it is far from a voice for labour peace.
Hargrove would like working people to be able to choose which union should represent them. But he does not want people to be able to choose whether they want to belong to a union in the first place.
Many people find that their dues are used for causes beyond that of justice in labour relations. Sometimes, dues go directly into the pockets of political parties that many union members would not support in an election.
Both the CAW and the CLC unions sponsor schemes for social reengineering that go beyond the interests and concerns of their grassroots members and that some of their members cannot in good conscience support. But the zealous dedication of both the CAW and the CLC unions to the closed shop dogma means that such members must choose between their job and their conscience.
"Closed shop" means that if you want to have access to work in a unionized place of employment you have to be a member of the union representing workers in that workplace. Many unions feel strongly about the closed shop. In their opinion, it prevents the vice of freeloading. The freeloader would refuse to join the union or to pay dues but would by law enjoy the privileges of union representation and the benefits of collective bargaining.
There is a flexible way in which to allow freedom of association to people who cannot in good conscience belong to a union or support all of its causes, while at the same time preventing freeloading: require bona fide conscientious objectors to contribute an amount equal to what would have been their union dues to a charity mutually agreed upon by the objector and the union.
Still class warfare
For the CAW-even more than for most CLC unions-labour relations remains class warfare. While many trade unions in North America are beginning to see the value of win-win negotiations, also known as mutual gains bargaining (MGB), the CAW is "totally opposed" to this kind of innovation.
"I see it as in the interest of the employer only," says Hargrove. "The goals of the corporation are different than the goals of working people."
Were it indeed impossible to reconcile the interests of labour and management, or of labour and the other stakeholders in the economy, then there could be no hope for real labour peace. Every collective agreement would be just a momentary truce in an ongoing war that no one could win.
An increase in union choice would be a boon for organized working people. But that choice would only make a significant difference if workers get to choose between significantly different trade unions. The choice between CLC unions and the CAW is a choice between Dumb and Dumber.
The CLC unions offer working people the closed shop within a union monopoly; the CAW offers them the closed shop within a union duopoly. The CLC unions offer working people class war lite; the CAW offers them class war turbo.
A real choice would include unions that offer workers real trade union democracy through genuine freedom of association and unions that realize the wisdom of labour peace through mutual gains bargaining. Labour leaders who offer such an option deserve the full three cheers that Buzz Hargrove does not."
Gideon Strauss is research and education director for the Work Research Foundation and editor of WRF Comment.Clever to talk about the closed shop and the need for real choice, freedom of association this is the same language as right wing uses when it calls for Right to Work laws against unions.
And if you don't believe CLAC is right wing lets go way back to 1987 and see what the right wing psuedo libertarian Freedom Party of Ontario wrote:
"That unions exercise legalized coercion as their method of "negotiating" is nothing new to those of us who believe in individual freedom. What is astonishing is how so much of the Canadian public, despite being aware of it, tacitly accepts this coercion --- and sometimes even outright violence --- as inevitable and legitimate aspects of the labour movement.
Our laws do not prevent the use of this coercion. Instead, our labour laws institute, sanction, and enforce it. Explicit in every union action from initial certification to its "negotiating" philosophy and ultimately to its political advocacies is the use of coercion and the denial of freedom of choice to anyone who does not agree with its militant labour stance.
Legalized coercion is the tool of the labour movement. Mutual consent is the target of its destruction.
It's coercion when individuals are forced to join a union against their will just because a "majority" votes for it. Don't minorities have any rights? Should the rest of us just stand back and keep swallowing the old union line that it represents its members when we all know that union methods of recruitment depend on the word mandatory?
Just ask Merv Lavigne what he thinks about union coercion. Ask him how he felt about being forced to fund political causes he doesn't even agree with."
Victory in “Lavigne Case”
1988 also saw an important legal decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal. In 1986 a community college teacher named Merv Lavigne funded by the right-wing National Citizen’s Coalition, had gone to Court asserting that his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been violated. He claimed that his Union (Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union – a NUPGE affiliate) was not entitled to use his dues for non-collective bargaining issues. If successful, this argument would have substantially prevented unions from participating in the political process.
Following legal precedents from the United States, the Judge at trial found in Lavigne’s favour, and ruled that unions could not use mandatory dues for political, social, or other non-bargaining related activities. On appeal, Brother Nelson acted as NUPGE’s counsel, and the Court of Appeal overturned the Trial Court’s decision and ruled that unions have the right to decide how they spend the dues they receive, including spending for purposes other than collective bargaining. Lavigne and the National Citizen’s Coalition immediately launched an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Once again Brother Nelson acted as counsel to NUPGE, and, on June 27, 1991, in a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the importance, value and legitimacy of the social and political role of unions in Canada and dismissed the Lavigne appeal.
Lavigne was awarded the Colin M. Brown Freedom Medal by the NCC for his efforts.
"The Colin M. Brown Freedom Medal commemorates the late founder of the NCC, who first started his crusade for "more freedom through less government" in 1967. Mr. Brown died on March 4th 1987."
It's not about choice, its about denying that the working class and the employing class have nothing in common.
Right wing Columnist Andrew Coyne agrees with CLAC, about the tyranny of the closed shop, and says so in a National Post column talking about the Supreme Court rulings on the Lavigne case and the Quebec Construction Unions closed shop. And with friends like this no wonder CLAC has so many enemies in the Labour movement.
The mob rule that first led the government of Quebec to enact this repressive legislation has now been sanctioned by the highest court in the land. God help us."
The closed shop is constitutional? Andrew Coyne, National Post Monday, October 22, 2001
The Freedom Parties assertion that mutual consent will eliminate unions, sounds like CLAC's approach to labour relations in their win win / mutual gains bargaining approach to labour management.
The Freedom Party being another right wing lobby regularly runs ads against "Forced Unionization" during Ontraio elections. This is the kind of company that CLAC keeps ideologically.
Unite The Right
TORONTO (March 20-21, 1998) - Fp president Robert Metz was among the key speakers participating in this year's Roots of Change Conference held at the Royal York Hotel. Accompanying him at the event was Fp leader Lloyd Walker, whose comments to Toronto Star reporter Thomas Walkom set the tone of that paper's coverage of the event.
Organized by Progressive Group for Independent Business (PGIB) president Craig Chandler, the Friday and Saturday conference was billed as a 'unite-the-right' event. With an impressive list of speakers with philosophies ranging from 'social conservative' to 'libertarian', attendees heard a wide range of opinion on the merits and pitfalls of uniting these various fragments of the so- called 'right.'
FRIDAY: Toronto Sun Money Editor Linda Leatherdale; president of the Employer WCB Crisis Committee, Richard Fink; London South MPP Bob Wood; journalist, author and talk show host Michael Coren; Mackenzie Institute president John Thompson; Freedom Party president Robert Metz; former Halton School Board trustee Robb McLeod.
SATURDAY: president of Any Key Solutions, Tim McKay; past Reform Party candidate and Canadian Citizen's Alliance president Hugh Prendergast; Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada (APEC) president Ron Leitch; author, writer, and political activist Greg Vezina; Reform Party of Canada's executive councillor in Quebec Brian Rogers; Campaign Life Coalition member Steve Jalsevac; founder-president of Renaissance Canada Inc., Ken Campbell; PGIB Ontario youth chairman and board member of the Canadian Youth Rights Association, Karl Baldauf; president of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Youth Association, Walied Soliman.
Roots of Change organizer Craig Chandler wrapped up the two day conference by calling upon attendees to arrive at some consensus on the issues they could all agree to support, despite their many fundamental differences in philosophy and areas of concern. Surprisingly, support was virtually unanimous on six key issues, all of which are supported by Freedom Party policy:
(1) End government funding of abortion; (2) Seek an alternative to Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system; (3) Repeal the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (4)Calgary Framework in its current form; (5) Promote less government, lower taxes, more individual freedom; (6) Limit law-making to those issues that protect individual rights. Oppose the
We are pleased to report that the last item (#6) was included at the behest of Freedom PartyMary Lou Gutscher, who was quick to warn all that item #5 could be interpreted in ways not consistent with individual freedoms. founding member
Chandler vowed to integrate these recommendations into PGIB's lobby platform when he returned to Calgary following the conference. Our thanks and appreciation are extended to both Mr. Chandler and the Progressive Group for Independent Business for hosting a most provocative and stimulating event.And the right wing media loves to poll Canadians to prove their point that Unions are no longer relevant. As right wing columnist Terence Corcoran writes in his Labour Day Column in the National Post in 2003 when they polled Canadians about unions.
"But there's more to worry unions here than general worker
crankiness about the usefulness or desirability of union membership.
The poll highlights the great fallacy behind the historical rise and
entrenched power of organized labour.
After decades of mythical struggles based on slogans of class
warfare, worker oppression and exploitation, the entire union
movement shows up in the poll as an ideological sham.
Self-portrayed as the champion of downtrodden masses of working
men and women, the union movement emerges today as the iron
protector of a privileged minority. The alleged saviours of a
struggling underclass are in fact the armed guardians of the
fortresses of a relatively wealthy overclass.
The poll shows only 32% of Canadians are union members, and the
vast majority of those union members (81%) want to hold on to
union status. They are generally better educated (more likely college
or university) than non-union workers, are members of well-paid
professional and service organizations such as teachers and nurses,
and are significantly older. More than 45% of union members are
more than 45 years old. And they mostly work for big government
(72%) and big business.
None of this is unexpected. All of the figures roughly correspond to
other workplace statistics. What is surprising is the degree to which
union members want to hold on to union status compared with the
large proportion of non-union Canadians who want nothing to do
with unions. Few Canadians pine for union rescue, perhaps because
they see fewer benefits of membership than they already enjoy.
But there are other reasons non-union Canadians have little use for
unions. The poll shows Canadians have a deep sense of fairness and
principle when it comes to their jobs and workplaces. They don't
care much for union seniority and prefer instead job advancement
and layoff policies that are based on merit. A large majority of all
working Canadians (76%) oppose government contract rules that
favour unionized companies. Canadians want secret ballots on union
certification and de-certification. They generally oppose the use of
union funds for non-union activities.
These aren't the views of a nation of union collectivists and socialists
who see their work and living conditions in constant deterioration
and in need of union rescue.
In fact, almost nobody thinks unions are a "very positive" force
behind Canada's growth and economic success. Nor are they much
taken with governments as national economic saviours. Canadians
see business as the engine of growth, especially small business.
While only 12% of Canadians view unions very positively, 67% see
small business as the nation's most positive economic driver.
Combined, 96% of Canadians look to small business and 79% to big
business as the major contributors to economic well-being, well
ahead of governments and unions.
The National Post/Global National poll paints a post-Labour Day
portrait of Canadians who love their jobs, respect and have good
relationships with their mostly private-sector employers, and who
are more than happy to make their way in the work world without
having a union boss by their side."
Well as the header to this blog says, the Ruling ideas are the ideas of the Ruling Class. And the National Post is the voice of the Reform/Alliance/Conservative Right Wing in Canada so what would we expect from them but this kind of conclusion. Cocoran's conclusions arise from a Leger Poll that the National Post commissioned, so it set the quuestions to get the answers it wanted.
First union representation in Canada may be low, 32% but it has actually increased. And it certainly is higher than in the U.S. Thats the complaint from Right To Work lobby in the U.S. that Canada's productivity is low because of high unionzation rates compared to them. Coyne and Cocoran would likely agree.
Cocoran asserts we all work for 'big government or big business' loaded terms, and that makes unionized workers an 'overclass'. What?!! Even in the relatively well paid sectors of the economy such as Gas Plant workers or Construction workers in Alberta, who may make around $100,000 a year, not exactly what the real 'overclass' makes when you look at the salaries of Doctors, Lawyers, Investment Bankers, Real Estate Agents or Journalists, who make more than that.
By asking the questions that the National Post and the majority of the private sector media constantly drum into us, they get the anwsers they want. Small business good, big business and big government bad, small business good, unions bad, small business good. Gee the National Post is a big business, so I guess it's 'bad'.
And their poll is completely contradicted by the survey done a year earlier by CLAC's WRF in 2002. WRF hired University of Lethbridge sociologist Dr. Reginald Bibby (one of most reputiable sociological researchers in Canada and he is NOT a pollster) to do an independent survey of Canadian's opions about unions. That survey found 64% of Canadians approved of unions!! Despite asking their own loaded questions.
Bibby's conclusion is diametrically opposed to that of Cocoran's smug comments. Bibby found that amongst Canadians who did not belong to unions beleived ther best bet for protection of their workplace rights was the government and legislation. While union members believed it was their union that could best protect them. And former union members believed in unions and legislation.
The runs completely counter to assertations made by Cocoran and the National Post Poll.
The National Post poll is simply telling us what they want us to beleive that unions are no longer neccasary or relevant (tell that to Wal-Mart workers), and to promote the right wing agenda to smash unions.
Unions hold some blame for this, failure to publicize themselves, failure to clean up their act and be more democratic and responsive to their rank and file, failure to advertise on TV on radio in the media. Failure to develop a national press that speaks for workers.
That being said the right wing continues to attack unions and lays the ongoing ground work ending "forced unionization".
So lets go over this again the Right has a program and it includes ending "forced unionization", ending "taxpayer funding for abortion", opposing same sex marriage, opposing public daycare, opposing immigration( temproary non union workers are ok), opposing refugee rights.
Right now they are busy lobbying against human rights for gays and lesbians, challenging the right for a woman to choose, and opposing public daycare. But soon they will turn their focus on the unions again.
It is why the labour movement must make common cause with campaigns for same sex marriage, full funding for abortion services (which are currently underfunded and privatized), full funding for public daycare with living wages for daycare workers, and of course the right to unionize and the right to strike.
But it is not enough to just throw money and endorsements at these causes, its important to be active in them, to shape them, to recognize that for instance the gay business community is growing and is largely non-union!
That a womans right to choose also includes the right to having a midwife, for birthing, fully paid for as part of medicare which isn't now. And that mid-wives should be unionized and recognized as a profession.
The Christian right wing will attack prostitutes, prostitution and all aspects of sexuality outside of marriage. Labour must oppose these attacks and call for unionization of Sex industry workers, especially in order to assure these women's safety and their health.
The labour movement and the left must not be silent when confronting the Christian Right, we must speak out in favour of a unitarian pluralism, secularism needs to be defended against those who would impose their moral values on us.
The creeping theological domination of politics and the failure to confront it is best illustrated by the fact that creationism is being taught in schools and universities side by side with evolution.
You cannot reason with the right, nor can you reason when arguing with them, as T-Bone Slim said the politiest form of response is attack. And labour and the left have failed to do this.
Now labour and the left must speak out against the Christian Right as the real threat they are and as they have always been. It is time to FIGHT THE RIGHT.