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What Have We Learned From the Lac-Megantic Oil Train Disaster?

By Justin Mikulka - DeSmog Blog, December 21, 2016

Brian Stevens first learned about the Lac-Megantic disaster — in which an unattended oil train caught fire and exploded, killing 47 people in the Quebec town — when he saw the news reports on TV.

Stevens is currently National Rail Director for Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, but he previously spent 16 years as an air-brake mechanic working on trains. At a recent conference in Ottawa examining lessons from the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster, he recounted his reaction to seeing those initial scenes of destruction.  

That ain’t Canada, that can’t happen in North America because our brake systems won’t allow that,” he said when he eventually learned the images he was seeing were from Canada. “My heart sank … It was crushing.”  

Stevens went on to explain his opinion of the root cause of the problem, summing up the challenges in Canada with one simple statement: “The railways write the rules.” 

He also placed blame on the deregulation of the Canadian rail industry that began more than three decades ago.

Lac Megantic started in 1984. It was destined to happen,” said Stevens, referring to the start of that deregulation.

One example of the effects of deregulation can be seen in the cuts to the number of people conducting inspections, from over 7,000 railway and rail car inspectors in 1984, down to “less than 2,000” now, according to Stevens. 

He didn't mince words about what he's seen change in the three years since Canada's worst rail accident.

“The railway barons continue to exist and continue to drive the industry and the government,” said Stevens.

Radicalization of the May 1st 2015 Strike

By Quebec IWW - SITT-IWW, March 29, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

English Translation. Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici. 

A phantom haunts the province of Quebec. It is the phantom of the General Strike. Since 2012, our elites have known that the working class, the students, and all those who continue to decry injustice and repression have the power to take to the streets and impose their legitimacy in the face of the State. Despite this dread, the high-priests of capitalism, and especially those preaching its liberal vision, can not hold back from waging an open war against everything that isn’t merchandise, against everything that isn’t financially valuable. From budget cuts to over-arming police forces, and from underpaid jobs to public insults against the poor and the exploited, everything leads one to believe that Quebec is now the foreground of unbridled capitalism. This neo-liberal paradise, protected by the State and its minions, ruins our lives and those of our families and friends, quashes what little is left of our liberty, spits in the faces of those most hard on their luck and on the misery of its own creation.

We have long ceased to believe in the regulatory capacity of this system. By destroying itself, it will destroy us too. Each new day we are reminded of this programmed failure: environmental disasters, increased inequality, the deterioration of working conditions, institutional racism, systemic corruption of our political system, and harassment of women in their workplaces or at school. Generally speaking, it is all forms of domination that are dangerously increasing, pushing the most exploited and dominated to the breaking point, all in order to install our elites on a too-comfortable pedestal.

This is why we call the rebellious among us to insurrection. We hope that the spring will bring out the most angry, those who are disgusted at the system, in the streets and in actions. Because apathy just isn’t enough, we firmly believe in our common capacity to create a better world. More than a simple timely struggle against austerity, we see on the horizon the premises of a social war, of which the 2012 strike was only a beginning. Each government, left or right, has tried time and again to impose their rotten economic and societal concepts upon us. A single day of strikes is not enough to push back a government which dearly protects the financial assets of the most dominant in society. We believe that a global revolt of all society must emerge during the spring. This revolt must be planned on the long term: in Quebec as in Europe, there are too many recent examples that demonstrate the futility of punctual and singular actions against governments that are now used to and prepared for social discontent.

Against capitalism and liberalism, we reaffirm our right to manage our own lives, whether the people who rule us like it or not. Our daily lives belong to us, our cities too. We firmly believe that capitalism must be erased from Quebec. In this goal, we will always be in solidarity with those who struggle, and always at odds with those who remain resigned and prostrate. We will be alongside workers and students in their struggles, and we will oppose all police brutality with working class solidarity. In the streets, in our workplaces and schools, in our neighborhoods, we are here to struggle and help.

Let us not fear our utopias!

Let us dare to overthrow the established order!

It fuckin worked! A reportback from MayDay 2014 in Montréal

By the Stimulator - Coop Média de Montréal, May 2, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Another demo, another slaughter, another May Day, another kettle, some might say. "Not so!" say I! The media and naysayers have already rolled out the narrative that the SPVM and their SQ allies were in full control and managed to swiftly put down any attempt to take the streets during the anti-capitalist May Day demo. This is an account of what I witnessed and it's in no way a complete portrayal of what went down in the streets of Montr€€éal this 1st of May. I welcome corrections, additions and comments so that we can get a clearer picture of what went down, and so that we can further our analysis on how to re-take the streets.

The context: Following the five months of sustained social upheaval during the 2012 student strike, the powers-that-be dropped the gauntlet, a repressive law known as réglement(?) P-6 that gives the cops broad powers to mass-arrest people taking part in unpermitted marches. The police did not rigorously enforce P-6 during the first few months following the fizzling of the strike, but in 2013 and 2014, the Montréal police have successfully used it to detain and ticket over a thousand comrades with fines of $600+ dollars. The cops' preferred tactic of detainment is the kettle, basically bringing in enough police to round up protesters and create what amounts to a cop fence. Comrades are then processed on-site or at the cop shop, given a ticket, and released.