SJCNL General Assembly, Austerity and Budget 2016
Join us for a General Assembly, open to everyone, this Thursday. We will be meeting in the courtyard of the Science and Arts Building on MUN campus (if the weather is cold or wet we will move indoors). The GA will be an open forum meeting. We encourage everyone to come to the General Assembly with ideas and suggestions for actions to combat austerity and NL Budget 2016. Now is the time to turn anger to action!
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1705542813017517/
We hope that out of the meeting a few action groups can form. We have a few ideas for specific groups, such as rural and Labrador outreach, postering, demonstration organizing, etc. We also hope folks will come with other such ideas for practical things that can be done to further resistance and that people can get involved with.
Free parking available in area 15 (by the Music Bldg.)
OTHER ACTIONS, RESOURCES, GROUPS, LINKS
***Click here for a Google doc tracking new actions and demos in communities throughout the province***
Rally Against the 2016 NL Budget, April 21st
NAPE (union) Lunch-hour Walkout, April 22nd
Upcoming march, April 29th
NL Mutual Aid network
Coordinated Approach NL
Social Justice Cooperative NL Facebook
NL By the People for the People
[please add others in comments]
The Independent NL, articles on NL Budget 2016
Liberals’ austerity budget will hit most vulnerable hardest (News)
Budget 2016 provides little hope for the future (Letter)
Budget 2016 “an attack on families” (Letter)
Government “definitely does have a choice” in NL Budget 2016: economist (News)
As the wave breaks: NL budget 2016 (Opinion)
Is there a democratic alternative to austerity? (Opinion)
Deficit crisis a chance for change (Opinion)
Not “Our” Crisis (Opinion)
All signs from the Newfoundland and Labrador government point to the 2016 provincial budget being an austerity budget. In preparation, the Social Justice Co-op is organizing a post-budget public demonstration for Saturday, April 16th. All citizens are invited to attend and those outside the metro St. John’s area are encouraged to organize local events or actions.
Austerity budgets affect us all. Cuts and privatization of public services, education, and healthcare, as well as increases in taxes will only be the beginning. Workers, students, business owners, seniors, and people on fixed incomes – everyone will experience real problems with austerity and the pain it brings if our government continues down this path.
Now is the time for us to organize and mobilize. It is vital for all citizens to come together in solidarity and to fight back against cuts and for tax fairness. Only by working together will we be able to push back against the austerity agenda.
What: Anti-Austerity Demonstration
When: Saturday April 16th, 1pm
Where: Harbourside Park, Water Street, St. John’s
Join the Facebook event page at this link.
Poster #1 click here
Poster #2 click here
Right to assemble and demonstrate flyer click here
Sharable social media image click here
Are public servants allowed to be politically active? What constitutes political activity? How are different kinds of public servants restricted or allowed to be politically active?
The Supreme Court of Canada upheld public servants' right to engage in political activities. The ruling states that banning public servants from engaging in political activities is an infringement on the Charter right to freedom of expression.
Public servants, nonetheless, often have specific codes of conduct with their employers or as part of their contracts.
Various legislation and regulation governing the conduct of public servants in NL defines political activity as what is more correctly called partisanship – i.e. being involved with an established political party. See, for example, the definition of political activity for those employed in the bureaucracy on the provincial government’s human resources website.
This same definition of political activity as partisanship is broadly applied to anyone considered to be a public office holder: i.e. anyone who makes a living from monies from the public purse as overseen by the Auditor General, such as police, teachers, nurses, publicly owned corporations, anyone whose employment is governed by a collective agreement with the government.
None of the collective agreements or codes of conduct should be interpreted to mean that public servants cannot in their free time participate in the activities of grassroots civil society organizations like SJCNL.
Some Acts and Contracts
Restrictions on partisan political activity are quite explicitly stated in some contracts and legislation governing public servants, but quite vague for others.
The RNC Act (1992), for example, clearly says that “a police officer shall not engage in political activity.” Assuming we understand political activity as partisanship, this means no police officers can publicly express support for a politician or political party.
For some public servants, like teachers, restrictions on political activity are not so clearly stated, and may generally fall under conflict of interest: i.e. if the expression of political views compromises the public servant’s ability to carry out their job.
Restrictions on political activity are also in place with respect to federal public servants in NL, and even the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has specific wording on political activity.
Research into restrictions on political activity of public servants in Canada has been ongoing for a number of decades and has generally shown a trend toward increasing regulation, even as the definition of political activity has remained vague and outmoded, and even as the Supreme Court ruling has not been overturned.
Faculty of Memorial University, though public servants, are an interesting counterpoint to regulation of political activity. Even though it is a public institution, the Memorial University Act specifies that the institution’s autonomy be preserved and that “the university is not an Agency of the Crown.” This exemption compliments the principle of academic freedom, which according to the MUN Faculty Association collective agreement “does not require neutrality.”
Overall, restrictions on political activity of public servants in NL are not uniform, with some public servants having explicit restrictions (like police), some having implicit restrictions (like teachers), and some having essentially no restrictions (academics).
But the function of the murkiness of definition arguably has the effect of putting a chill on any sort of overt political expression by anyone paid from the public purse. And the effects of this chill extend beyond partisan politics. For example, even though there are many ways to be politically active beyond only partisanship, such as participating in grassroots civil society groups and activism, public servants are likely to be hesitant for fear of being in any sort of conflict of interest.
Such vagueness is of course highly functional for governments because it creates a sector of society that is beholden to, and silenced by, institutions of political power. Moreover, this is also functional for reinforcing the false distinction between politics and everyday life, since regardless of where someone works, or if they work at all, the fact that people exist in communities and interact with others makes life political to begin with.
In this way, the current paradigm for political activity of public servants in NL (and in Canada more broadly speaking) is inherently contradictory, but such contradiction constitutes the political paradigm.
That’s why the question of whether public servants should or should not be politically active is at once totally irrelevant and fundamentally important.
.The Social Justice Cooperative NL stands in solidarity with those affected by funding cuts and tax increases in the City of St. John's 2016 budget. Residents, small business owners, the arts community, and other sectors of society are justifiably angry, and we call on civil society organizations to speak out against this and any other program of austerity.
Many communities throughout the province are likewise experiencing hardship. Communities across the country and around the world are experiencing the pain of austerity where costs are increasing while public services are being cut.
We must remember that austerity budgets are happening at a time when the gap between the rich and poor grows exponentially. For too long the burden of debt is carried on the shoulders of the many. It is time we organized to oppose austerity locally, nationally, and globally. This common project challenges us to recognize the linkages between our own struggles and the struggles of others.
It's time we organized as a broad grassroots coalition capable of expressing common concerns against austerity. It is to the advantage of those who attempt to impose austerity that society remains fragmented, so that each grievance is isolated.
Let's get together to reclaim people power, let's meet and figure out ways to build a movement against austerity now and into the future.
The Social Justice Cooperative is ready to join such a coalition and be with you in the streets and in the meeting halls. Now is the time for the progressive forces in the community to band together and raise our voices in protest -- united we can win!
There will be a demonstration at St. John's City Hall on Monday, Dec. 21st at 4pm, organized and hosted by allies in the arts community. More information on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1227205517294060/
Sunday Dec. 13th, 2pm
Corner of Water and George, downtown St. John's
In the context of the ongoing refugee crisis and the arrivial of Syrian refugees in Canada, the Social Justice Co-op invites you to a demonstration in downtown St. John's. The gathering is also intended to call out bigoted, racist, and Islamophobic sentiment which has been circulating in the public discourse. Such views are not representative of the core values of our community and need to be taken to task. Let's show the kind of caring and welcoming place St. John's really is. Show up to this peaceful assembly with signs, banners, noise-makers, and anything to help get the message across.
Organized and hosted by your friends at Social Justice Cooperative NL:http://sjcnl.ca/
If your group or organization would like to stand in solidarity or collaborate on future events, get in touch with us: email@example.com