Alternatives Days 2006 - Detailed Programme

Wednesday 9 August 2006

Friday, August 25, 2006

Arrival of participants, Opening cocktail, and presentation of international guests
Screening of activist films
Campfire with performance by musician Hugo Bonneville - bring along your instruments!

Saturday, August 26, 2006, 9h00-10h30

Opening plenary: “Building Alternatives...Now!”
The clashes of the past few years are evidence of the need to move from anti-globalization to democratic globalization (or altermondialisme). Ever since the rejection of the neoliberal order articulated in Seattle, this movement for democratic globalisation has transformed itself into the groundwork for change, proposing a myriad of socio-economic alternatives. Despite the successes, there have also been defeats. So where are we now? What have we constructed? And what are our options for the future?
Saturday, August 26, 2006, 10h30-12h30


The “Clear-Eyed Visionaries” and Neoconservatives in Quebec City and Ottawa

By continually raising the spectre of the debt and ageing population, the conservatives in power in Quebec City and in Ottawa have claimed that the privatization of public services and cuts to social programs are a necessary “modernization” of the system. According to this increasingly dominant discourse, this transformation of the state will guarantee us a better future. How deep is the project of “clear-eyed visionaries” like Harper and Charest, and how far will it go?

With Claude Rioux, Editor for À Babord! journal, Eric Martin, Member of Québec Solidaire, Judy Rebick, Journalist for, Jean-Marc Piotte, Author and Political Science professor at l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM). Animated by François L’Écuyer, Editor-in-Chief, Alternatives journal.

South America’s Wind of Change

These days, talk of Latin America’s “left turn” has almost become commonplace. And yet, the enormous diversity of political experiences in the region encourages a deeper analysis. Indigenous movements, one of the key elements of Latin American resistance, endorsed the socialist victory in Bolivia while refusing to endorse the PRD in Mexico. Brazil and Venezuela have proposed important experiments with social alternatives, while raising questions. An in-depth examination of these revolutions, big and small.

With Nora Castañeda, prseident of Banco Mujer in Venezuela, Socorro Gonçalvez, Coordinator for the Institut Terrazul, Brazil, Marcelo Savedra, Representative for Conseil Andin des Nations Autochtones, Mirka Gilbert, Anthropologist and participant in the Zapatistas’ "The Other Campaign ", Mexico. Animated by par Thomas Chiasson-LeBel, Board of Directors for Alternatives


The Environmental Movement - Full Sail Ahead

The past few months have been marked by important events in environmental mobilisation, from the struggle against the gas-fired Suroît power plant project to opposition towards the privatization of the Mont-Orford national park. A number of organisations are working together closely on initiatives within the affected communities to ensure the durability of the ecology movement: “organic” daycares, rooftop gardens, food baskets... Do these initiatives signal a bright green future to come? What can be done to reinforce the links between the environmental and democratic globalization movements?

With Louise Vandelac, Researcher for the Insitute for Environmental Science at UQÀM, Nicolas Boisclair, Spokesperson for Révérence Rupert, Alex Hill, Environment Project Officer, Alternatives. Animated by Janice Astbury, member of Alternatives Board of Director.

The Dreams and Realities of the Solidarity-Based Economy

From Argentina to Québec, and South Africa to Morocco, the community-based sector has demonstrated an astonishing creativity with regards to production and exchange, allowing thousands of workers (and workers, especially) to earn adequate wages, and the dignity they deserve. With community initiatives like these spreading, can we be hopeful that it will lead to deeper socio-economic changes, eventually permitting a major reorganization of the distribution of wealth? Or is the social economy movement - focused as it is on solidarity and community - destined to remain marginal?

With Nancy Neamtam, President-General Director (CEO)of Chantier de l’économie sociale et solidaire, Nina Benjamin, Coordinator for Khanya College, South Africa. Leticia Echavarri, Instituto de investigación y formación y administración publica, Argentina, Sébastien Kopp, Founder of VEJA, fair trade sneaker company. Animated by Tania Vachon, Project manager with Alternatives.

Change the World, One City at a Time!

Within the context of globalization and the restructuring of the world, the national political stage is no longer the main platform for social movements advancing projects for social change. Cities are gaining power as political and economic actors, and acquiring greater and greater importance. What means do we have, with regards to our cities and boroughs, to construct a world that is ecological, democratic, inclusive, and solidarity-based?

With Helen Fotopoulos, Bureau mayor of Plateau-Mont Royal, Montréal. Karine Triolet, Coordinator for the Table de concertation Action-Gardien de Pointe-St-Charles, Montréal, Pascoal Gomez, Member of the Groupe de travail sur la démocratie municipale et la citoyenneté.


Canada the Warmonger?

Since the arrival of the Conservative government in Ottawa, the foreign policy of Canada has undergone a serious shift towards the American approach: $5 billon of additional spending added to the defence budget, a demonstrated willingness to be in Afghanistan for the long haul, a priority given to security measures and the “war against terror”. What are the consequences of this militaristic turn? How can we put the brakes on it? What role does the movement against the war have?

With Donald Cuccioletta, Observatoire des États-Unis at UQAM, , Raymond Legault, Committee for Conscientious Objectors, and representatives of the NPD and Bloq Québecois. Animated by Pierre Beaudet, Co-founder of Alternatives.

Saturday, August 26, 14h00-16h00


What Project for Progressive Forces in Quebec?

Forced to take to the streets time and again since the Liberal victory in 2003 (over not-for-profit daycare, trade unions, students, etc.), the social movements in Quebec are questioning what strategies to adopt. The arrival of Québec Solidaire has changed the political landscape appreciably, and for some the group represents a genuine alternative to the dominant, mainstream parties. For others, avoiding a divide of the progressive vote is the only way to ensure that the Liberals are defeated in the next election. What positions unite the two sides? How to construct a project that we can rally behind?

With Françoise David, Spokesperson for Québec Solidaire, Monique Richard, President of the Parti Québécois and D’abord Solidaires. Diane Lamoureux, D’abord Solidaires, Animated by Françoise Guénette, journalist.

The Battle to Reorganize the Americas

After the FTAA project suffered a major setback at the summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata in November 2005, the United States responded by multiplying their bilateral free-trade accords. A number of countries responded by launching different projects - some in parallel - aimed at regional economic integration. What about the Bolivian alliance proposed by Chavez? What are the repercussions of the establishment of a Cuba-Bolivia-Venezuela political and economic bloc? What is happening with the common market proposed by MERCOSUR? Are we assisting the fragmentation of economic forces in the Southern Cone?

With Dorval Brunelle, Director of l’Observatoire des Amériques (UQAM), Jacques Létourneau, Secretary of International Relations for CSN, Carlos Torres, Activist and member of the membre du conseil Hemisferic for the World Social Forum, Carole Ouellette, Director of Communications for the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas, IDRC. Animated by Lila Train, Project manager for Alternatives.


Heating Up Our Meals: Food and Climate Change

Climate change puts enormous stress on all ecosystems, including those dedicated to food production. Not only that, certain practices of agricultural (over-) production also contribute to global warming. The end result: what we eat influences the climate, and the climate influences what we eat. What can we do as responsible citizens? A three-part participatory workshop.

Presented by Rotem Ayalon et Megan Tom of the Coordinating Committee for the Rooftop Gardens project.


Counter-Terrorism Measures and Civil Liberties in Canada

The arrest of 17 suspected terrorists in Toronto last June brought to the forefront the varied security measures adopted in the wake of September 11th, 2001. In Canada, men of Arab and Muslim descent are being detained without due process. Their trials are being held behind closed doors, and their defense teams prevented from having access to evidence against them. In short, civil liberties are being cast aside on behalf of the “war against terrorism”. The altermondialiste movement must react - but how?

With Janet Dench, Director of Canada Council for Refugees, Bashar Elsolh, V.P Federal relations, Canadian Muslim Forum, Benamar Benatta. Animated by Farah Wikarski, Mobilisation Project Officer at Alternatives.

Democratic Republic of Congo: An Openly Secret War

Since 1998, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in almost 5 million deaths, most of them civilian. While the July 2006 elections should put the country on the path to normalization after a long period of transition, there remain serious questions : Will former rebel groups, having been transformed into political parties, accept the terms of a new, democratic Congo? Will the mining industry, an important sector in which Canada is a significant player, contribute to the reconstruction of the country?

With Jean-Claude Mwepu, Director for the Alternatives Congo Office, Kinshasa, Michel Lambert, International Programs Coordinator with Alternatives, plus additional guests.

Saturday, August 26, 16h00-18h00


At-Issue Panel : A Quebec Social Forum...Why?

For more than 5 years, the World Social Forum has been dividing and multipliying into regional social forums held throughout the world: not only continental forums in Europe, Africa, Asia, but also local forms, such as in the Québec-Chaudière-Appalaches region, as well as Toronto. With the World Social Forum movement gaining momentum, how can the same experience be recreated here in Quebec? How can we recreate here what has worked so well abroad?

With Jacques Letourneau, Secretary of International Relations for CSN, Robert Jasmin, President of ATTAC-Québec, Nathalie Guay, Comité organisateur du Forum social Québec, Catherine Binette, Communication and Mobilisation Coordinator, Alternatives.

A Fresh Start For Haiti?

In spite of the military occupation and guardianship of their country since 2004, Haitians voted in massive numbers at the start of the year. The vote put René Préval in power, a confidant of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the president from 1996 to 2001. Since his inauguration, Préval has endeavoured to build bridges among the principal parties of the Haitian National Assembly. Beyond this necessary step towards reconciliation, can Préval convince the international community to support a long-term development project for the poorest country in the Americas?

With Camille Chalmers, Presidnet of PAPDA, Haïti, Franklin Midy, Sociology professor, UQÀM, Pierre Mouterde, Author and professor of Political Science at Collège Limoilou. Animated by Tania Vachon, Project manager for Alternatives.


New Technologies: The Cyber-Revolution - Where Are We Now?

In November 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) concluded in Tunis with declarations of success on the part of the United Nations, the governments, and the private sector. Nevertheless, civil society organizations refused to adopt, without reservation, the conclusions of the Summit, which steered clear of declaring the Internet a public space open and accessible to everybody, without discrimination. What happens now to notions of Internet governance, universal access, and the recognition of the right to information?

With Michel Lambert, Project manager with Alternatives (Congo), Caroline Tagny, Regional coordinator for Communautique, Anne-Marie Gingras, Political Science professor at Laval University, Stephane Couture et Omar Bickel, Koumbit. Animated by Michel Lambert, Oversea Project coordinator at Alternatives.

The Increasingly Visible “Illegals”

Whether you focus on last summer’s riots among the suburbs of France, or the demonstrations that brought out millions of Latino-Americans on May 1st in the United States, both events have crystallized the frustration of youth with immigrant origins who continue to be discriminated against through work conditions, increasing poverty levels, and racial profiling on the part of authorities. Is systemic racism towards immigrants an experience limited to the West? In South Africa, Zimbabwean refugees are also victims of widespread discrimination. While neoliberalism continues to laud the benefits of free circulation of capital and goods, when can we expect a genuine global citizenship to emerge?

With Roberto Nieto, Coordinator for the Centre d’appui pour les travailleurs agricoles migrants, Maryse Potvin, Sociologist, Professer at l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQàM), Nina Benjamin, Coordinator at Khanya College, South Africa. Animated by Farah Wikarski, Mobilisation Project Officer at Alternatives.


Life in Iraq under Occupation

For almost three already, the Iraqi people have lived under the guardianship of an American occupation. The war fought against Iraq, with the purpose of restoring democracy, is instead provoking the bursting apart of Iraqi society, engulfing Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis in a civil war. At the same time, social movements are reorganizing and resisting this growing disintegration. Who are these actors in Iraqi civil society? And what are their strategies for survival and to fight for sovereignty?

With Shimarn A. Audesho, Secretary General for the Iraqi Womens’ League, Fatima F. Jassim, Executive Committee Member, Iraki Rising Women, Mssar A. Naser, Member of the Tammuz Organization for Social Development. Animated by Judy Rebick, journalist at

Saturday, August 26, 19h00-21h00


Are Today’s Youth Joining the Resistance?

Are the youth of today estranged from politics? Or on the contrary, are they mobilizing to take up the fight and defend those issues that affect them? If yes, what are these issues, and how are they organizing? While some of the youth are rallying around Top 40 radio, others coming from diverse social movements have collective efforts to propose. A portrait of the realities and current challenges for the new guard of militants in Quebec.

With Gabrielle Guérin, Member of the organising committee of the Quebec Social Forum, Patrick Jeanotte, CSQ, Christian Bélair, President of the Quebec Student Federation, Audrey Lefebvre-Sauvé, membre of the Youth committee at the CSN. President of the Natives Students Association at Laval University. Animated by Simon Tremblay-Pépin, Student- and political-activist.

Towards the World Social Forum 2007 in Nairobi

Having been monopolised by African and international NGOs, the African Social Forum has experienced a number of difficulties since 2002. Will the polycentric 2006 World Social Forum held last February in Bamako burst this dynamic apart? Social movements from Mali, which were largely unknown abroad, undoubtedly profited from the event as a chance to make their fight known. Will the upcoming 200 World Social Forum in Nairobi expand this process for the benefit of all African social movements?

With Moussa Tchangari, Director of Alternative Niger, Nina Benjamin, Coordinator for Khanya College in South Africa, Pierre Beaudet, Co-Founder of Alternatives. Animated by François L’Écuyer, Editor-in-Chief for the Alternatives journal.


From International Cooperation to Altermondialisme?

For more than ten years, Alternatives has held an important internship program which has permitted hundreds of youth to gain work and cooperative experience overseas. Have we managed to nourish the movement by bringing it new perspectives? Does this regular contribution of youth have an important impact in society? We will look at the balance sheet.

Workshop presented by former interns from Alternatives’ youth internship program.


Iran: Caught In the Mire

The United States has demonstrated a double-standard in offering to sell enriched uranium to India, a nuclear power which has refused to sign onto the non-proliferation treaty, while Washington fights a tug-of-war Washington over Iran’s civil nuclear energy program, a not-so-subtle pretext, it appears, for building a case to attack this oil-rich neighbour of Iraq. What are the possible consequences of this new stage in the American strategy to engineer a “New Middle East”?

With Fred A. Reed, Journalist and author, Dr. Houchang Hassan-Yari, Professor at the Royal Military College of Kingston, Siddharth Varadarajan, Journalist with Indian national newspaper The Hindu. Animated by Elaheh Chokrai, Alternatives Board Member.

Sunday, August 27, 9h30-12h15


The youth of France are fed up with the Right!

Three events over the course of the past few months have shown the profound contradictions that traverse French society: the rejection of the European Constitution, judged by progressive forces to be too neoliberal; the riots in the suburbs, involving largely second-generation immigrant youth; and the fight against the First Employment Contract (CPE), which united student groups, trade unions, and citizens. What links can be drawn between these different struggles?

With representatives from French social movements, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Initiative pour un autre monde (IPAM-France).

The WTO in Crisis : A Workshop

Presented by ATTAC-Québec (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens)


Unionisation of Atypical Workers

Globalization is also about the precariousness brought about to working conditions. The capitalist system puts tremendous energy into pressurizing the work force with the goal of boosting profits. Our governments are no exception, reproducing the corporate model of management. Training workshop on atypical work, the spread of precarity, and the means trade unions must use to resist it.

Presented by SETUE-UQAM (Student Workers’ Union of UQÀM)


What Future for the People of Palestine?

Ever since the election of a Hamas parliamentary majority, Canada, the United States, and the European Union have decided to punish the Palestinian people by suspending financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. Since then, the health care and education systems have been slipping towards total delinquency. The current Israeli offensive (reoccupation of Gaza, bombing of Lebanon) have once again plunged the Palestinians - and the region - back into chaos. Given the current situation, where should the progressive and democratic forces in Palestine invest themselves?

With Michael Warschawski, Author and founder of the Alternative Information Centre (Israël), Soraida Sabbah of the Teacher Creativity Centre (Palestine), Yakov Rabkin, Professor of History at the University of Montréal, Ronald Cameron, President of the Fédération nationale des enseignants et enseignantes du Québec (FNEEQ). Animated by Ahmed Abdirahman, Project manager for North Africa and the Middle East, Alternatives.

Sunday, August 27, 13h30-15h30

Closing Plenary

The war against terror, the Israeli offensive in Lebanon, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the reshaping of the “New Middle East”. These days, militarization and capitalism seem to go increasingly hand in hand. The movement for democratic globalization (altermondialisme) cannot and should not stand with arms crossed with these violent crusades taking place. Apart from tossing our small grains of sand into the political gears, what can we do to create a viable alternative global project?

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