Human rights

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On April 30, 2019, the European Court of Justice (Court) will release its decision on whether the investment court system (ICS) in the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is compatible with EU law. CETA was concluded more than two years ago, and most of it came into force at the end of 2017. However, a wave of resistance across the EU and Canada caused a stand-off in Belgium that almost sidelined the agreement.
December 2018 protest of taxi drivers (REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)
Original graph by Jordan Brennan for Maclean's magazine.
Over the past seven years Canadians have been bombarded with a steady stream of nationalist commemorative projects. In 2012, the Conservative Harper government did its best to convince us that the War of 1812 was a proto-national conflict in which a Canadian identity was forged on the field of battle. Commemorations of the centenary of the First World War followed the same format—the war was all bravery and nation building without any of the futility, let alone class conflict, which defined public debate at the time. This continued even after the Liberals took office in 2015.
For six weeks in May and June 1919, approximately 35,000 workers in the Prairie city of Winnipeg walked off the job to voice their frustration with a range of issues, from a lack of collective bargaining rights and union recognition to increasing inequality. Indeed, the strike was part of a broader wave of worker revolts that swept across Canada and the world in 1919, as working people in numerous Canadian cities and countries used the strike—the withdrawal of labour power—to push for change.
This May, Canada marks the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike, when tens of thousands of people walked off their jobs in sympathy and solidarity with building and metal trades workers whose employers were refusing to bargain for fair wages and working conditions.Though the strike failed in its immediate goals, the example it set reverberated across the country and the world, inspiring political upheaval at all levels in Canada, and ultimately transforming the balance of power between workers and the bosses for many generations.
The Trailer Overdose Prevention Site (TOPS, as its usually called, or Area 62) in Vancouver. Photo by Travis Lupick.
Ten years ago the political geographer David Harvey wrote, “The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is…one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.” With roots in 1960s civil rights struggles, Henri Levebvre's concept of a "right to the city" was revitalized by Harvey and others in the heat of the 2008 financial crisis and Occupy Wall Street.
The right to the city comes out of critical theory, a branch of intellectual thought originating in the early 20th century at the University of Frankfurt. The Frankfurt School consisted of a group of radical scholars who theorized about the rise of mass popular culture and its effect on society.

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