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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Linda McQuaig: The Trouble With Billionaires

Poster: click here.

Citizens' Inquest and the London Chapter of the Council of Canadians is proud to present Linda McQuaig speaking on, “The Trouble with
Billionaires: Gluttony and Hubris in an Age of Epic Inequality,” at the Wolf Auditorium, London Central Library on Thursday April 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Please mark your calenders. Linda McQuaig will also be speaking at the Vitali Student Lounge, Wemple Building, King's University College, 266 Epworth Ave., London on Thursday April 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm until 3:30 pm.
Linda McQuaig well-known journalist and co-author of The Trouble with Billionaires. She will talk about how today’s extreme concentration of wealth at the top threatens the well-being of the 99 percent, and undermines our very democracy. Copies of her books will be available for purchase. Please forward to your friends and post on web sites and to your lists. Phone #: Contact Ed Corrigan Law Office 519-439-4015 Biographical Information on Linda McQuaig: Journalist and best-selling author Linda McQuaig has developed a reputation for challenging the establishment. As a reporter for The Globe and Mail, she won a National Newspaper Award in 1989 for writing a series of articles which sparked a public inquiry into the activities of Ontario political lobbyist Patti Starr, and eventually led to Starr's imprisonment. And as a Senior Writer for Maclean's magazine, McQuaig (and Ian Austen) wrote two cover stories probing the questionable business dealings of Conrad Black in connection with a U.S. takeover bid in the early 1980s. An irate Black suggested on CBC radio that McQuaig should be horsewhipped. In 1991, she was awarded an Atkinson Fellowship for Journalism in Public Policy to study the social welfare systems in Europe and North America.Since 2002, McQuaig has written an op-ed column for the Toronto Star. She is author of eight books on politics and economics – all national bestsellers – including Shooting the Hippo (short-listed for the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction), The Cult of Impotence, All You Can Eat, It's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet, and Holding the Bully's Coat: Canada and the U.S. Empire. Her most recent book, co-authored with Neil Brooks, is The Trouble With Billionaires. Here is Linda McQuaig's recent article published by the Toronto Star on the London Electro-Motive locomotive, owned by US Multinational, Caterpillar, lock out in London, Ont.​opinion/editorialopinion/​article/​1116562--ottawa-favours-for​eign-businesses-over-canad​ian-employees Ottawa favours foreign businesses over Canadian employees Published On Mon Jan 16 2012 Locked-out workers at the Electro-Motive facility in London, Ont. U.S.-owned Caterpillar, Electro-Motive's parent company, wants to cut wages in half. Locked-out workers at the Electro-Motive facility in London, Ont. U.S.-owned Caterpillar, Electro-Motive's parent company, wants to cut wages in half. DAVE CHIDLEY/THE CANADIAN PRESS Image By Linda McQuaig Columnist Hundreds of shivering factory workers locked out of their plant by manufacturing giant Caterpillar in London, Ont., might well draw some warm comfort from — of all things — the sayings of Newt Gingrich. Of course, the conservative Republican presidential contender is no friend of labour or social justice; he recently proposed that poor children be schooled in the ways of free enterprise by being hired to clean school washrooms. Nonetheless, Gingrich, one of the stars of the Republican freak show, is desperate to defeat front-runner Mitt Romney. With the mitts off, Gingrich is denouncing Romney’s background as a Wall Street corporate raider, accusing him of practising a form of capitalism where “you basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers.” The multi-millionaire Romney showed his empathy for working people by noting, in a discussion about private health care, that “I like being able to fire people who provide services” and insisting that comments about the rich having too much money should be confined to “quiet rooms.” All this has unleashed an unexpected and fierce debate about the brutality of unbridled capitalism — a debate the Republican establishment is scrambling to sweep back into the quiet rooms as quickly as possible. Here in Canada, Stephen Harper has tried to head off a similar debate, dismissing the relevance of Occupy Wall Street on the grounds that “we have a very different situation here than the United States.” In fact, under the Harper government, the slightly milder Canadian version of capitalism is rapidly giving way to a more virulent U.S.-style variant, with even greater wealth concentration and fewer protections for working people. Indeed, Gingrich’s depiction of a capitalism where “you basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers” seems like a perfect description of what’s going on in London, where the highly profitable U.S.-owned Caterpillar is demanding its Canadian workforce accept a 50-per-cent wage cut. When the workers declined this take-it-or-leave-it offer, they were locked out on New Year’s Eve. If this isn’t ruthless, heartless capitalism — enough to make even Newt’s blood boil — it’s hard to imagine what is. Yet, as the 500 London workers have bundled up in the cold, the Harper government refuses to get involved, sitting silently on the sidelines as Caterpillar brings its notorious anti-union fervour to Canada. In fact, the Harper government is involved, having played a key role in bringing about this disaster for the London workers by approving the sale of the company, Electro-Motive Diesel, to foreign-owned Caterpillar in 2010, after supposedly investigating whether the deal was in Canada’s interests. The Canadian Auto Workers, which represents the locked out workers, believes Caterpillar purchased the plant with the intention of gaining technology and market share and then moving operations south. The Harper government also approved a foreign takeover by another notorious union-busting company, mining giant Rio Tinto, which has now locked out 800 workers in Alma, Que. The Canadian Labour Congress is demanding that Ottawa strengthen its foreign takeover laws to make the secretive review process more open, with public hearings in affected communities and publication of the conditions imposed — if any — on foreign owners. Ironically, the Harper government has complained forcefully about “foreign” interference from outside environmentalists protesting a proposed pipeline across the Rockies. But when it comes to foreign companies stripping Canadian workers of half their wages and then moving operations out of the country, the government hasn’t a negative word to say. Harper is of course staunchly pro-capitalist, and has aggressively lowered corporate tax rates, while refusing to link lower taxes to investment or job creation. But his anti-union stance, evident in disputes at Air Canada and the post office last summer, has been particularly provocative. He seems determined to turn Canada into an anti-union paradise — prompting the Ontario Federation of Labour to call for a mass rally at the Caterpillar plant in London this Saturday. As the PM gears up for his coming battle against federal public sector unions, he will no doubt draw inspiration from Mitt Romney’s stirring words: “I like to be able to fire people who provide services.”

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