ALL PROPOSALS MUST INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION FOR EACH PERSON INVOLVED:
1. Presentation Title
2. A 100-150-word outline of the presentation.
3. A 100-150-word biography. These must include (if applicable) a list of publications, activities, and a list of
positions (paid and/or voluntary) relevant to this event. This information is essential to assisting the
organizers in soliciting funding to support travel and other workshop costs.
PROPOSALS FOR INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATIONS, PANELS, OR ROUNDTABLES ARE DUE FEBRUARY 1, 2018.
Please email these materials as an attachment in Word format to the program committee at:
For more information about conference themes and to keep up with our ongoing plans, please visit:
THE WINNIPEG GENERAL STRIKE OF 1919 was a landmark moment in North American working-class history. In May and June that year, over 30,000 workers ceased work for six weeks. Provoked by the inequities of industrial capitalism, the authoritarianism of their workplaces, the brutal experiences of the First World War, rising prices and stagnating wages, an insecure economic outlook, intransigent employers, and a federal state that responded to their demands with growing repression, the city’s workers stood together in an astounding display of unity. This was also an era filled with hope; the horrors of industrialization and militarism encouraged many to think of ways of constructing a better world. The combination of anger and hope was infectious. In 1919, Winnipeg workers displayed an inspiring unity, facing hunger, threats of permanent dismissal and blacklisting, and violence at the hands of authorities, most notably in the vicious assault they unleashed on “Bloody Saturday,” killing two workers and injuring many more.
1. THE FIGHT FOR A BETTER LIFE
Just as workers in 1919 sought to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty and win a fairer share of the fruits of economic growth, 21st-century workers are facing worsening material conditions: stagnating wages and increasing precarious employment, along with cuts to social services that increase demands upon working-class families. The “Fight for 15,” struggles for family supports such as child care, and the rise of antipoverty movements are at the forefront of today’s organizing, reflecting the ways in which neoliberalism has forced the fight for a living wage and a working-class economic security onto centre stage.
2. SOLIDARITY ACROSS BOUNDARIES
A century ago, Winnipeg was a divided city – not only along the lines of class, but workers were, themselves, divided along lines of race and ethnicity. A capitalist labour market pitted “British Canadian” and “immigrant” workers against each other; the First World War heightened fears of the “foreigners,” and the economic insecurity that faced returning soldiers at the end of the war led, on occasion, to confrontations on the streets of Winnipeg. Amazingly, attempts by employers to use bigotry to divide the city’s strikers failed. Today, governments and businesses use international borders, an exclusionary “citizenship” which often denies workers from abroad a range of social and labour rights, and post 9/11 xenophobia, to ensure their control over labour. The lessons of overcoming these divisions and fighting for common, expanded rights, are as central today as they were then, and include a growing understanding of the rights of Indigenous people as First Peoples and as workers.
3. BUILDING A WORKING-CLASS ALTERNATIVE
The Winnipeg General Strike was part of a continent-wide, even an international, labour revolt that saw unions, mass strikes and working-class parties act in their own name. In Winnipeg, despite the defeat of the strike, socialist and labour parties continued the fight by other means. This was an era in which labour was the voice of the dispossessed; if there was a solution to the problems that capitalism brought, it was represented by labour. In the 21st century, a wide range of social movements address issues that were often unimagined a century ago. Building an effective response to a wide range of assaults on the environment, and in defence of Indigenous rights, gender rights, on the rights of the disabled, and so much more, requires education, organizing, and mobilization. To what extent are these class issues that labour needs to centrally address? Can labour lead in building a better world in which all forms of oppression and exploitation are fought?
A CENTURY LATER, AS WE DESIRE TO UNDERSTAND AND COMMEMORATE THESE EVENTS, WE CAN’T HELP BUT BE STRUCK BY CONTINUITIES – SO MANY OF THE THEMES OF 1919 CONTINUE TO CONFRONT US TODAY:
These are all broad themes, but the Winnipeg General Strike, although provoked by specific issues of collective bargaining, exploded into a broader revolt because it spoke to much broader issues, provided a voice to the dispossessed, and raised the question of whether labour had the answers. This conference hopes to tie the past and the present together by examining these three themes in their historical and contemporary context.
We invite a range of scholars, trade unionists, and social activists to share their knowledge and experiences. We envisage presentations and discussions by historians, labour studies scholars, and unionists about the General Strike, the subsequent history of labour’s attempts to address these themes, as well as contemporary struggles. We invite public historians to engage in discussions of the manner in which this history has been shared, how to best engage with a wider audience. What part can teachers play in including an understanding of workers’ history, including the Strike, at all levels of education? Finally, the conference will include roundtable discussions, led by activists, of the three themes listed above.
We call, then, for proposals for individual presentations, panels, and roundtables that address the themes of the conference. The organizers are presently exploring funding opportunities to help offset travel costs and other costs associated with conference attendance. It is hoped – though not guaranteed – that some of the costs of participation may be covered.
By Lonnie Patterson
There has been much discussion and analysis of the KPMG Manitoba Fiscal Performance Review recently released by the provincial government. However, the potential impacts that will occur in rural and remote Manitoba communities, if some of the review’s recommendations are implemented, have not yet been part of the dialogue. The review itself fails to recognize the realities of delivering public services across our province’s vast geography and into places with low population densities. As the review characterizes it, there are “areas of opportunity to bend the cost curve” across government, some of them directly related to delivering services to rural and remote Manitobans. In this piece, I will highlight some policy recommendations that require much more analysis, with a specific focus on how rural and remote Manitoba could be impacted. Read More
By Pete Hudson
Among the many recent changes by the Pallister government to health care was a contract with two private companies to operate the Enhanced Home Care Program (EHCP). This will provide community care to patients who can no longer benefit from acute hospital care, at an estimated total cost of $10.5M. Each eligible patient will receive up to 90 days of intensive service prior to “transitioning” to their own home or to a Long Term Care (LTC) facility. Read More
By Josh Brandon
Tuesday morning, I received a phone call from a Make Poverty History Manitoba member. He lives on a disability benefit that provides him only $180 per month for food and other basic necessities. He wanted to know if he can expect any change soon. I told him we would see in the Speech from the Throne that afternoon what, if anything, the Province has planned for its long-promised poverty reduction strategy. Read More
By Jim Silver
It is curious that the Pallister government would have hired consulting firm KPMG to provide advice on how to manage the Province’s affairs. KPMG’s actions across the world and in Canada—some illegal; many promoting the interests of the exceptionally rich at the expense of the rest of us—suggest that we should be very wary of any advice they might offer. Read More
By Andrew Clark
Income security programs in Manitoba and Canada are not keeping pace with the growing problem of poverty. Change is needed to ensure low income and vulnerable people and families do not become entrapped in a lifetime of poverty.
Canada’s Income Assistance (IA) and Manitoba’s Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) programs provide support to 115,000 Manitobans. These programs were started in the 1960s for people whose incomes were insufficient to meet their basic needs. During the 1990s, IA and EIA benefits were cut and have largely been frozen ever since. Make Poverty History Manitoba (MPHM) estimates that benefit levels for all categories of recipients are below the poverty line – as much as 44% and 33% for single individuals and people with disabilities respectively. It is no surprise that over 60,000 Manitobans accessed foodbanks in 2016. Read More
First published by CBC Manitoba online Saturday Oct. 29
By Jesse Hajer and Zac Saltis
Governments have often turned to investments in higher education to generate hope and opportunity for young people and others seeking better jobs and social mobility. They may have a more receptive audience now more than ever, with younger generations facing increasingly precarious work prospects. Fulltime jobs are being displaced by the ‘gig economy’ and average real wage growth remains low. Young men in Canada aged 25-34, for example, effectively saw zero wage growth from 1981 to 2011, and since the 2007/08 financial crisis youth unemployment – which is consistently greater than the average – has climbed even higher, while more youth, discouraged by their prospects, abandon the labour force. Read More
By Lynne Fernandez
In a new Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives MB report on Manitoba’s public-sector pensions Pensions in Manitoba: What’s Working, What’s Not, author Hugh Mackenzie dispels many myths about public and private sector pensions. He anchors his analysis in the context of Canada’s retirement income policy and its three main players: Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS); the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP); and, workplace based pension plans. Read More
By Marina Puzyreva and John Loxley,
As the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) continues, a new study looks at the problems of reactive government policy on MMIWG in Manitoba.
The complex impacts on family members of MMIWG are examined in Cost of Doing Nothing: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This study is a preliminary estimate of the cost of doing nothing to prevent many Indigenous women and girls from going missing and being murdered. It gives an insight into the emotional journeys of the families left behind. It also assesses the current financial cost of dealing with this tragedy based on calculations drawn from the literature and estimates of the number of MMIWG in Manitoba. Read More