Canadian Politics


Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.23.30 AM<<< This is a piece of mine that was published in the Nov/Dec issue of Canada’s Briarpatch Magazine >>>

The controversy around the temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) hit in late spring while I was doing fieldwork for research on Canadian mining in West Mindanao, Philippines. My mind quickly became entangled in the systemic knots that lock together seemingly disparate issues.

At what locals call Ground Zero in Zamboanga City – where urban warfare between Muslim separatists and the army one year ago claimed lives, destroyed a neighbourhood, and has left tens of thousands homeless – there hung fresh ads in the streets about finding work abroad.

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<<< *note: the below was originally delivered as a talk at THIS Human Rights Day event in Toronto >>>

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photo by afelipe

2014 has been a hellava year.  We have seen our communities besieged by horrible new atrocities, the continuance of others, and the growth of public rage.  From the continuing occupation of Palestine, to the never-ending war on terror.  From the police impunity seen in the the murders of Michael Brown & Eric Garner, to the continuation of the two tiered justice system for our First Nations sisters and brothers.

Meanwhile in the Philippines climate change disasters, partner with militarization, the return of US bases, attacks on activists and the poor, and a worsening economy to increase the peoples suffering. And here in Canada (where the Philippines has been the number one source country for migrants since 2009) we’ve seen legal changes that seek to punish migrant workers for the sacrifices they are forced to make due to poverty

Against all this our peoples have been fighting back.  Through acts of anger and acts of organized resistance. (more…)

Sunday 9 June, 2013.

Today marks our seventh full day here.  For many of our team of people representing different ILPS member organizations and peoples (with representatives from indigenous peoples of the Philippines, Latin America, Switzerland, and others) this is our first experience working directly with the native peoples of this land.  It has been a worthwhile experience.

It’s noon as I write this in my camp notebook.  I’m sitting in the diffused blue light under the tarps tied onto A-frames made of thin pine trees chopped down during our first day.  It is our camp centre and kitchen.

Clearing the location of the cabin.  To the left under the blue tarps is the kitchen common area, to the right will be the cabin, this is from earlier in the week. In the photo Sara is clearing away debris.

(more…)

 [The above video is a NEW video that I just posted (3 June)]

This morning Saturday 1 June 2013, I and other from associated ILPS Canada organizations–including an Filipina indigenous woman–will be headed up to northern Ontario (four hours north of Thunder Bay) to work on a grassroots project led by the women of the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen.

She and I will not only be there to help with the project, but also to build bridges between the struggles of the First Nations and the Philippines–especially between our indigenous peoples. (more…)

[*this is a follow up article to “Anti-Racism/Sexism & Individualism” where I liken postmodern politics to a modern form of divide and conquer.]

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A bomb in Boston:
   – Outcry! Terrorism! Bad!
   – What terrorism? The US is the real terrorist!
   – Why are they blaming brown people! That’s racist! Racism is bad!

A school shooting in America:
     – Tragedy!  Ban guns!  Guns are bad!
     – Arm the teachers; bad guys are bad!
     – I hope it’s not a shooter of colour.  [see: “Racism is bad.”]

Here’s the thing.  I’m equal parts sympathetic, and confused and saddened, by this standard Western outcry.

I’m confused because of the gap between the reaction and the root causes.  And I’m sympathetic because it’s a fully understandable reaction—if not for accidents of personal history I would most likely be of similar mind.

Looking at media (mainstream and social) after moments like these, it seems to me that we in the West live with a cough syrup political mentality.

Millions of people swear by cold medicines, good people, friends and family even.  They feel a cold coming on and they pop the pills, or gulp down the syrups.

And yet–
–they don’t work. (more…)

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Oh. I wish someone had told me earlier they were just waiting on me… sorry all!

I was in the car and in slow traffic, the DVP (the major highway leading to downtown Toronto) was closed for the weekend and the local streets were jammed.

Along the way I was listening to talk radio on a college station.  It was playing a lecture by a black feminist from the States (I came in late so I don’t know her name).  She was your standard post-modern, identity politics, POC scholar.

The lecture was about the problems of racism and sexism.  The issue basically boiled down to individuals not having done the personal political work to liberate their minds from patriarchy and white power (with passing mention to intersections with class).

I didn’t agree with much of the lecture.  In fact it mostly saddened me.  I saw it as divisive and supportive of the current power structures that use racism and sexism as tools of oppression.

But of course I did listen.  It was like an aural car wreck, and as one is wont while driving, I was transfixed. (more…)

Image*The below was a talk I delivered on 9 Dec 2012 at an International Human Rights Day event in Toronto, Canada*

– – –

Today we celebrate International Human Rights Day.  We believe that the resistance borne of the struggle for the rights of the people is truly something to celebrate.  That said it is also fair to ask ‘why?’

Well the truth is, we don’t celebrate Human Rights, we celebrate the rights of people.

As Wendy Brown writes in “Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism:”

[H]uman rights are vague and unenforceable; their content is infinitely malleable; they are more symbolic than substantive… in their primordial individualism; they conflict with cultural integrity and are a form of liberal imperialism; they are a guise in which super-power global domination drapes itself; they are a guise in which the globalization of capital drapes itself; they entail secular idolatry of the human and are thus as much a religious creed as any other.

In contrast People’s Rights look at the rights of the people as a whole; the rights of communities over the benefit of the individual; the right to rebel.  (more…)

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