Extra! Extra! There are still a few stories in the naked city
Newspapers may be fading to black, but there's still gold in those grey pages, you just have to pan with patience
By Rod Mickleburgh
As regular readers know by now, I remain a big fan of newspapers, despite their ever-diminishing state. Why, just this week, I found all sorts of goodies distributed among their varied pages. The treasures are still there. You just have to look a bit harder and be a bit more patient these days. So I thought I would share a few. 1. I hadn’t quite realized before that the state most affected by climate change is not media-saturated, rain-starved California, but, of course, Alaska. So far, this summer, wildfires have burned through more than 20,000 square kilometres of Alaskan forestry, a swath larger than all of Connecticut. Other bad stuff, too. An excellent story from Saturday’s Vancouver Sun, written by the Washington Post’s environment reporter, Chris Mooney. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2...
The Look of Silence: Joshua Oppenheimer reflects on deflection
In The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer offered the dramatic testimony of mass murderers as they re-enacted their crimes. In the forthcoming sequel, The Look of Silence, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker brings the perpetrators face to face with the brother of the man they killed. By Katherine Monk
Joshua Oppenheimer is a precise filmmaker, which is difficult to accomplish at the best of times, but something practically unheard of in documentary. It’s the reason why the Texas-born filmmaker was nominated for an Oscar for his first feature, The Act of Killing, a blend of research and febrile nightmare that related the story of Indonesia’s communist purge in which one million people were murdered. The movie caused a stir in Indonesia as it showed men who are still in power boasting about their acts of killing, and Oppenheimer suspected it would probably make any repeat visits to Indonesia impossible. Yet, this month will see the release of a sequel to The Act of Killing ...
Remembrance Day Special: Paying homage to the ‘Moon’
Rod Mickleburgh traces personal roots to exhume the history of more than 1,500 Canadians who defied their own government to fight for freedom, and the losing side of the Spanish Civil War
By Rod Mickleburgh
I have more than a few books about the tragic Spanish Civil War. Yet I can barely bring myself to read them. Well, except for Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell’s bittersweet, affecting memoir detailing both the heroic commitment of those who fought for a republican Spain and the bloody witch hunt by hard-line Stalinists against those fighting with the anarchists. I just find it all so depressing. In addition to the millions of Spaniards caught up in the ferocious struggle, thousands of young idealists from all over the world headed off to Spain, fired by a zeal to fight fascism and support a democratically-elected government that sought to make progressive change. The issues could not have been more black and white. The conflict has been rightly labelled ‘the last ...
Lest we forget the labour that birthed a province
Official school curriculum ignores the blood-stained history of organized labour, so Rod Mickleburgh offers a refresher on two violent events that unfolded on the waterfront
By Rod Mickleburgh
VANCOUVER - There were some grim remembrances last week for those dwindling few of us who consider the past travails of unions and workers worth preserving as part of our collective heritage. Their struggles and tragedies are as dramatic as history gets. Yet they claim very little place in what students are taught about the province’s history. We are getting better at changing history from just what dead white guys did long ago, even if I sometimes fear we de-emphasize these events a little too much in our schools. They did shape this country, and we should know about them. While John A. Macdonald, for instance, did some bad things (Louis Riel, treatment of First Nations, etc.), without his vision, strength of character and political acumen, parts of Canada might long ago have been ...
Judge’s dissenting remarks draw chalk outline around corpse of collective bargaining
Justice Ian Donald emerges as a lone voice in the labour wilderness with recent 38-page dissent concluding the BC government did not bargain in good faith with teachers
By Rod Mickleburgh
“[If] the government could declare all further compromise in any context to be untenable, pass whatever it wants, and spend all ‘consultation periods’ repeatedly saying ‘sorry, this is as far as we can go,’ [that] would make a mockery of the concept of collective bargaining.” - Justice Ian Donald, dissenting from the B.C. Court of Appeal decision overturning a lower court ruling that found the government’s imposed 2012 contract on B.C. teachers unconstitutional. I’ve known Appeal Court Justice Ian Donald for a long time, not recently or as a friend, but during his time as a lawyer representing non-mainstream unions who made a lot of news in those long lost days when I was a labour reporter. His clients included independent Canadian unions such as the Pulp, Paper and ...
From Cowtown to Maotown
Rod Mickleburgh takes a long view on Rachel Notley's longshot win that changed Alberta's political landscape overnight, maybe for good
By Rod Mickleburgh
I wasn’t there, but I bet a lot of tears were shed by Alberta NDP oldtimers at the party’s giddy, raucous ‘n’ rollin’ post-victory celebration in Edmonton. That was certainly the order of the evening on a similar dragon-slaying night long ago, out here in British Columbia. On Aug. 30, 1972, Dave Barrett, the 41-year old son of an East Vancouver fruit pedlar, led “the socialist hordes” inside the province’s gates for the first time, after nearly 40 years of repeated failure. Among the hysterical crowd greeting a triumphant Barrett at the Coquitlam Arena (it was a different time…) was veteran union official Rudy Krickan, who’d worked for the party since the 1930’s. His eyes moistening, Krickan told a reporter: “This is the greatest night of my life.” Barrett’s mother Rose, who put young Dave on a ...
There is power in a union… If Christy Clark says it’s okay
By Rod Mickleburgh That Christy Clark can sure be a funny premier. And I don’t mean Hamish jokes. Take the recent flare-up over who gets to build that farm-flooding, massive Site C dam in northeastern B.C. Please… Until recently, attempts by the province’s once-powerful construction unions to secure a fair crack at the work had received no more than the bureaucratic equivalent of a bucket of warm spit from the powers that be at BC Hydro and the Liberal government’s own representatives. Not only was Hydro insisting on a construction site open to union and non-union contractors, which was not all that surprising, the Crown corporation wanted to ban the building trades from even trying to organize dam workers who were not unionized. Unions? Unions? Don’t need no stinking unions. It was all very reminiscent of the distaste for union labour that prevailed during the 10-year premiership of Gordon Campbell. Egged on all the way by Phil Hochstein of the strident, ...