Musicians union fights Bill C-377
The Canadian Federation of Musicians is calling on its 17,000 members to stand together with their union brothers and sisters to resist the Harper government’s discriminatory and punitive Bill C-377, which will force Canada’s union movement to make its finances public, including time spent on political activities. The top-priority “private member’s bill” was passed in the House in December. It’s now working its way through the Senate, but the fight is not over. Legal challenges could tie up implementation of the bill long enough to see it die, but only if the Canadian people can unite to defeat the Harper Tories in the next federal election. The CFM estimates that an average union local will need up to 400 hours annually to prepare the returns or face a $1,000 a day fine for failure to comply. Bill C-377 is a key part of a ruling-class offensive whose ultimate goal is to wipe out the hard-won rights of organized labour. For more info: http://www.cfmusicians.org/.
Symphony NS musicians vote to strike
Negotiations continue between Symphony Nova Scotia and members of CFM Halifax Local 571. In December the 37 SNC musicians gave their negotiators an overwhelming strike mandate. They’re demanding that their base salary for a 33-week season be raised from $28,000 to $30,000 over two years. During the season musicians work 6 days a week. Much of it is split shift, with morning rehearsals and evening concerts. There’s little opportunity for outside work in Halifax during the off-season and travel is difficult for musicians with homes and families. Moreover SNS is flush with cash, having raised $7 million in a fundraising campaign. While the city of Halifax basks in the rave reviews the orchestra receives, it’s unusually stingy when it comes to funding. If it picked up the tab for the modest proposed wage increase, Halifax would still be providing less than a tenth of the support that comparable Canadian orchestras receive from their municipal governments. For more info: http://www.afmcanada.org/.
Stanley Jordan cancels Israel gig
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has won a significant victory. On January 5th, noted American jazz fusion guitarist Stanley Jordan, who was to headline the winter instalment of Israel’s Red Sea Jazz Festival, announced on his Facebook page that he was cancelling his engagement. Jordan’s image had been used on the publicity posters for the state-funded event. The Red Sea Jazz Festival is held twice a year in the resort town of Eilat and until recently has been successful in distracting attention away from the apartheid policies of the Israeli state. The unusual thing about the campaign to convince Stanley Jordan to cancel his gig was the serious debate that took place on his Facebook page. It included interventions by many BDS activists, as well as the online journal Palestine Chronicle and the artist himself. Author Rima Merriman’s fascinating account of this Facebook conversation can be found at http://palestinechronicle.com/.
“Rise Up” theme for 2014 World Pride?
Despite a copyright faux-pas by Pride Toronto, it seems a reasonable bet that Parachute Club’s landmark 1983 hit song “Rise Up” will become the theme song of the 2014 World Pride event in Toronto. It would certainly be fitting since the award-winning song was a unique achievement in Canadian music, celebrating as it did peace, gay rights, feminism and anti-racism. At the time this was a cultural breakthrough. When the song was premiered at Toronto Pride it was dangerous to even attend the event. An eager member of Pride Toronto’s communications committee posted a World Pride promotional video including “Rise Up” on YouTube without securing copyright permission. It was quickly withdrawn and until the rights question is resolved the song will not be used. The copyright situation is uncertain at the moment since the band recently changed record labels. However, Singer Lorraine Segato has declared that it would be “fitting and fantastic” for an agreement to be reached. For info: www.xtra.ca.
Yoko Ono award honours Julian Assange
Renowned artist, musician and peace activist Yoko Ono announced on February 5th that the recipient of her annual Courage Award for the Arts would be Wiki-Leaks founder Julian Assange, the whistle-blower currently being sheltered by the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he’s being hounded by British and American authorities for having the courage to expose imperialist war crimes in the Middle East. “Julian Assange took a courageous step by rightfully returning what belongs to the public domain,” said Ono of the Australian media pioneer. “For that reason, I believe we need to stand by him.” The Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Awards for the Arts were established in 2009 to honour individuals and groups who have shown “extraordinary courage with their work and interests, defying censorship, public doubt or even scorn in pursuit of their vision.” For more info: http://imaginepeace.com.