18 Apr 2012

Jim Doak can't see the ground
from his lofty tower on Bay Street

The way Toronto financial analyst Jim Doak sees it, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath and groups such as the Campaign to build ‘One Big Campaign’ (CBOBC) are, well, pretty much evil!

Howarth outraged Doak and his privileged, elite friends on Bay Street last week by proposing a two percentage point increase in provincial income tax for people earning more than $500,000, as a way to help close Ontario’s budget deficit.

Income disparity is also one of the major issues that CBOBC believes should be tackled by the proposed huge campaigning network that would include hundreds of activist groups and progressive unions.

“It’s nasty,” Doak said during a debate on CTV. “It’s ethnic cleansing. She’s defining a group not by culture or language, but my how much money they make, and she wants to get rid of them.”

Jim Doak,
President and Managing Director
Megantic Asset Management
Doak was appearing in a debate against Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist for the Centre for Canadian Policy Alternatives. Yalnizyan later tweeted: “As an Armenian it was a stunning comment to hear as his opening defence, and incredibly challenging to avoid commenting on.”

Doak claimed that the two per cent tax increase will drive the super-rich out of Ontario and the financial community will have to follow – the kind of fear mongering that the rich always offer up when they are faced with the prospect of paying a little more.

12 Apr 2012

Campaign launched urging activist
groups to build 'One Big Campaign'

A new campaign urging Canadian social activist groups to work together under one massive umbrella to take on the Harper regime and his right-wing supporters is being born!

The Campaign to build ‘One Big Campaign’ (CBOBC) is being launched on Facebook this week.

The goal of this campaign is to pressure Canada’s more than 15,000 progressive groups, union organizations representing more than 4.5 million members, and grassroots groups such as the Occupy Movement to build a giant, cooperative campaign network.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, social activist groups are not showing the initiative to come together themselves to form one, big powerful force.

As a first step, individual Canadians are being asked to come forward and provide ideas about how these groups and unions can be encouraged to get together and discuss the idea of forming what we are calling the ‘One Big Campaign’, a non-binding network.

'One Big Campaign' would not be a new organization, but a co-operative venture that would bring together the knowledge and campaigning resources of hundreds of organizations for a small number of huge, vital campaigns each year.

The new co-operative campaign would be far more successful against Harper compared to the current practice of individual groups or small networks struggling to hold back the 'Harper Tide'.

Some of CBOBC’s volunteers were also active with the Catch 22 Harper Conservatives during the 2011 election campaign. While we have a core group of activists, more volunteers are needed to spread the word about the need for 'One Big Campaign'!

Harper is running amok, cutting dozens of vital programs ranging from health programs to First Nations support to poverty-reduction efforts that had been established by Canadians for more than 50 years ago.

As volunteers of the CBOBC, we strongly believe:
  • We need to convince hundreds of public interest groups that they must come together and work together in the lead up to the 2015 election.
  • Organization leaders must look beyond the goals and objectives of their own groups and see the big picture.
  • Progressive groups and labour must acknowledge their common interests, break out of their isolation, and begin working together in a meaningful way for the first time ever.
  • Labour organizations need to leave their old rivalries at the door and come into a new, cooperative movement that would have significant benefits for working people. 
If a majority of the country’s progressive and labour groups came together, the number of people under one big umbrella could total close to 6-million Canadians – more than the number of votes Harper received in the 2011 election.

The creation of ‘One Big Campaign’ would lift the spirits of millions of Canadians who have all but lost hope in the disastrous Harper era. Instead of complaining about what Harper is doing, people and all kinds of organizations would have something positive to work for.

Join the CBOBC Facebook page and give us your thoughts and comments. Tell your friends – ask them to make a contribution. Volunteer to help spread the word.

Our country as we know it is in danger of slipping out from underneath us – let’s organize to take it back.

Two articles making the case for the creation of 'One Big Campaign' have been updated -

How massive 'One Big Campaign' could defeat Harper Conservatives -  looks at how the activist community could go about developing a co-operative network, discusses some of the weaknesses of the community, and explains that groups taking part in a big campaign should not be afraid of retribution from the Conservatives if they follow the law.

Social activist groups can form powerful 'One Big Campaign' to take on Harper  - describes how a typical campaign – this one concerning income disparity – could be carried out taking advantage of the many strengths of both progressive and labour groups.

11 Apr 2012

Social activist groups can form powerful
'One Big Campaign' to take on Harper

Picture this  . . . .  The directors of 25 or 30 of Canada’s leading social activist organizations, unions and grassroots groups are hived away in a secluded location for a long weekend. At the conclusion of three exhausting days of discussion and argument, they announce they have created the framework for a new and powerful public interest co-operative movement.

They explain that they expect the co-operative venture – let’s call it One Big Campaign (OBC) for the time being – will expand to include thousands of organizations that will work together to challenge the destruction being carried out by the Harper regime and its right-wing allies.

The movement would be a non-binding, co-operative process, not a new formal organization. Partner groups would be able to opt in or out of any number of campaigns. When campaigns were conducted the resources of partner groups would be used.

There is no getting around the fact that Canada’s progressive organizations, whether campaigning individually or in small groups, are having a very difficult time fighting back against the Harper regime and its right-wing supporters. The Conservative’s right-wing allies in business and finance are very powerful. They control all the key levers of power – access to billions of dollars to promote their beliefs, control over the federal government, and ownership of most of the mainstream media.

10 Apr 2012

How massive 'One Big Campaign'
could defeat Harper Conservatives

A massive, well-thought-out campaign involving thousands of social activist groups, labour, and grassroots organizations would have an excellent chance of handing the Harper regime a significant defeat on a hugely important issue: income disparity.

The public outrage over income disparity, brought to light by the Occupy Movement last year with its ‘99 vs 1 per cent’ slogan, is a good indication that Canadians would support a huge campaign to put the majority Conservatives in their place.

Harper’s failed “trickle down” policy has made Canada’s rich even richer, while many millions of other Canadians have lost ground:

  • More Canadians than ever before are shamed into going to food banks to feed their families; 
  • While the official unemployment rate is 7.2 per cent, the real rate is closer to 14 per cent;
  • The number of working poor has increased to the highest level ever in many parts of the country because many new work opportunities are McJobs; and
  • Ordinary Canadians have seen their real wealth stagnate over the past years. In the period between 1980 and 2005 the median earnings for workers in Canada rose by just $53.00 annually. 

In March, 2012, even the Bank of Canada urged governments to enact policies to rein in the excesses of free markets and reduce income disparities, arguing this would strengthen the economy. But Harper does not appear to be budging.

Groups should mount a huge campaign 
A number of groups, such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives  (CCPA) and the National Union of Public and General Employees  (NUPGE) and its branches, have income disparity on their agenda. However, no substantial campaigning appears to be planned. Moreover, the NDP will not have its chance to win an election for another three years.

Here is what could be carried out in an all-out campaign:

THE ISSUE: In organized campaigning, leading groups need to identify the weakness of the targeted organization(s). Given the Conservatives’ vulnerability around “99 vs 1 per cent” issues, income disparity seems to be a good choice for a first campaign.

THE TARGETS: The federal government as well as the symbol of ill-gotten wealth: the Canadian bank employing the executive who had the highest income in the sector in 2011. The targeted bank would be the Toronto-Dominion Bank, which posted a record-high profit in 2011. Its president, Ed Clark, who demonstrates his social conscience in his personal life, also was the highest paid bank executive, earning $11.28-million during the year.

STRATEGY: Choosing the right strategy and tactics is hugely important. Member groups with the best track record of developing effective campaigns would be best suited to identify the proper tactics to be used. An interesting mix might bring together Greenpeace, Dogwood Initiative, and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), and the Council of Canadians.

THEME: Canadians want the Harper government to end its immoral theft of billions of dollars from ordinary Canadians, which ends up in the pockets of the wealthy.

RESEARCH: Research groups such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Canadians for Tax Fairness and similar groups could produce reports documenting the implications of wage disparity and recommending what changes could be made to create greater fairness in the tax system.

ACTIVITIES: To be successful against a huge bank and the Conservative government a giant cooperative movement would need to deploy a wide variety of activities – some of them more aggressive than those normally used by the Canadian progressive movement.

When the campaign is officially launched, ideally six or eight branches of the Toronto-Dominion would be targeted for a series of actions. As a first step, Canadians would be asked to close their TD accounts at those particular branches and move their monies and business to credit unions or other banking institutions.

A huge communications campaign, perhaps spun out by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Friends of the Earth Canada  (FoE) and others, would make use of the mailing lists of thousands of progressive groups and unions to reach out to millions of Canadians. Snappy, well-written, reports on why and how the campaign would be conducted would be circulated.

If the majority of Canada’s more than 15,000 progressive groups and unions with more than 4-million members signed on for the action, it would be possible that the number of people supporting the campaign would exceed the 5,832,401 votes received by the Conservatives in the 2011 election. This would be an amazing accomplishment, but it is possible.

A Social Media program aimed at TD-Bank and the government would be put in place. Leadnow has strong skills in this area, and there are others it could work with. A huge Facebook effort could be organized, with the strong participation of Fire the Liars and other groups. Mailing lists and other mechanisms would be used to ask Internet users to both promote the campaign and send protest emails to the TD Bank and the Conservatives on specific dates.

Moreover, the new cooperative movement would want to take advantage of its size and newly-won power. Leaders would pressure mainstream media to provide fair and accurate coverage of the campaign. Dozens of op-ed pieces, media interviews, and letters to the editor would be published during the campaign.

Partner groups, particularly unions, would be asked to contribute to a fund of at least $500,000 that would be used to buy strategically-placed ads.

From time to time, picket lines, perhaps organized by unions such as the United Steelworkers and the huge United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCWC) would be set up on public property in front of the six or eight TD branches. People would be asked to move their business elsewhere. At the same time, pickets would talk with bank employees and provide them with literature explaining why the action is taking place. A variety of prominent people would be asked to be pickets.

The Occupy Movement could play a “front line” role by carrying out disruptive protests that would involve “hit-and-run” occupations at the target branches, closing them down for an hour or two at a time.

Acting within legal boundaries, rotating teams of Internet users could occasionally flood TD Bank and government websites and email addresses with messages requesting that the bank urge the government to implement progressive tax policies.

At some point, campaign organizers could assess whether it would be possible to stage a huge rally in support of fair income distribution on Parliament Hill. A rally of 10,000 or even 20,000 people would not create enough impact. But if just one rally drawing perhaps 100,000 people were held, that would definitely send the right message. Shutting down Harper’s phoney majority government in the House for a couple of hours would be a nice bonus!

Two other possibilities:

  • The cooperative movement could ask a comedy troupe to come up with some comedy routines that would mock the way the Conservatives and the rich collaborate to keep all the resources for themselves. And Operation Maple (Need new link) could create satirical videos.
  • The movement could ask legal experts to see if they feel there are any possibilities of taking legal action concerning any aspect of income disparity. 

DURATION: A series of actions scheduled over at least 12 months.

VARYING DEGREES OF SUCCESS: If supported by a wide range of organizations, such a campaign could be successful in a number of ways. It could:

  • force the Harper government to use the tax system to decrease income disparity in the country;
  • cost the Toronto Dominion Bank hundreds of account holders and possibly millions of dollars in deposits, encouraging the bank to be more socially responsible in the future;
  • politicize and educate hundreds-of-thousands of Canadians about the need for them to actively support progressive change and to vote for change in the 2015 election, and
  • demonstrate to the progressive community, unions and grassroots organizations themselves that, if they have the courage to act as a unified force, they can be highly influential in bringing positive change to the country. 

Community leaders from the progressive, labour and grassroots sectors need to have the courage to explore a concept that could have significant rewards for the country.
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