Alternatives’ Days 2008

Preliminary Program

Tuesday 27 May 2008, by ALTERNATIVES

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Empire in decline? Let’s build alternatives together!

Friday 22 August

8pm OPENING COCKTAIL:

Presentation of the program and the international guests
Music by festive camp fire

Raphael Canet (FSQ), Moussa Tiangari (Alternative-Niger), Luc Phaneuf (President of Alternatives Board of Governors)

Saturday 23 August

9am SIMULTANEOUS OPENING PLANARY SESSIONS

AXIS 1: Is a sustainable society compatible with capitalism?

Capitalism and its by-products – imperialism, war, neoliberal globalization, poverty – play a leading role in the destruction of ecosystems. The extent of environmental problems could soon reach an irreversible and dramatic threshold. Is it possible to think that the capitalist system can give birth to a sustainable society which protects ecosystems?

Joel Kovel (eco-socialist writer – United States), Pedro Ivo Batista (Terrazul-Brazil), Louise Vandelac (UQAM), Michel Lambert (Alternatives’ Executive Director)

AXIS 2: Borders of war and wars of borders

The empire is on the offensive a little bit everywhere in the world and is trying to increase its military capacity in order to extend its influence on new territories (Iran, Pakistan, Syria). Basic rights are violated and violence multiplies. How do we defeat this destructive project?

Connie Hackbarth (Alternative Information Center-Israel), Huthayfa Jalamna (Teacher Creativity Center-Palestine), Hassan Jouni (Lebanon)

AXIS 3: Social movements impose a new path

In spite of the advance of neoliberalism, social movements maintain a considerable influence. Why and how certain social movements were able to destabilize some dominant onslaughts? What factors can contribute to the future success of their struggles in the current context?

Among others: L’ASSE, Stéphan Corriveau (FLHLMQ), Frederic Sultan (Initiative for Another World-France), Jacques Létourneau (CSN)

10:15am BREAK

10:30 SIMULTANEOUS WORKSHOPS

Autopsy of a global food crisis

Everywhere in the world, the price of basic food products is exploding, worsening first and foremost the living conditions of the most destitute. Quebec, just like all other societies, is also affected. What are the causes of this food crisis and what should be done to surmount it?

Among others: Moussa Tchangari (Alternative-Niger), K. Krishnakumar (Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi-India), Ighsaan Schroeder (Khanya College, South Africa)

Toward a concerted municipal action

Are there any real policy actions for sustainable urban development? Which policy actions can and need to be put in place at the municipal level?

Among others: Richard Bergeron (Project MTL)

Lebanon and Palestine: Resisting imperialism

Can Palestinian resistance in the occupied territories reorganize in the context of a weakened PLO and a Hamas movement incapable of re-launching the strugglet? In Lebanon, what are the consequences of the political defeat of the last American offensive? Is the opposition capable of proposing a project for a coherent, inclusive and anti-imperialist society?

Reefat Sabat (Teacher Creativity Center-Palestine), Hassan Jouni (Lebanon), Zahia el-masri (CJPP), Sergio Yahni (Alternative Information Center-Israel)

Immigration: to build solidarity

Are immigrants’ battles becoming a new centre of gravity for the Quebec popular movement? How does one build a society that allows for the integration of immigrants?

Among others: Stephan Reicchold (TCRI), Benjamin Frantz (Intercultural MTL)

Crises and the reorganization of capitalism

Capitalism enters a new period of crisis. The loan crisis, after having bled millions of families, now sullies the assessments of organizations that are the pillars of finance capital: banks. In this context, can social movements hope to propose a new model for society?

Bernard Élie (UQAM), Marcella Escribano (Terrazul-Brazil), Moussa Tchangari (Alternative-Niger)

Defending the rights of the workers: new approaches

For the last couple of years, the trade union movement has been slowing down. Neoliberal policies of conservative governments as well as the negative image of large trade-unions centres in the media have weakened trade unions. However, several attempts are made to revive the trade-union movement. The portrait of a trade-union revival.

Jacques Létourneau (CSN), Andre Frappier (STTP), Roberto Nieto (former coordinator CATTA)

12:30pm Lunch

2:00pm SIMULTANEOUS WORKSHOPS

Promoting food sovereignty in Quebec

How to promote a better organization of agricultural markets to ensure a more equitable access to food products? How to encourage a high yield production that respects the environment?

Veronique Coté (Union Paysanne), Carlos Suarez (Harvest MTL), Pierre Andre Champoux (RCCQ)

Oxygenate the planet: from Amazonia to the Boreale forest

Forests constitute such high reserves of natural richness that their safeguarding is essential for environmental balance. Big multinationals seek to appropriate forest resources to exploit them fully at their will. The example of Amazonia and the Boreal forest illustrates sadly the danger posed by the plunder of our forests. How do we put the defense of our forests back on the agenda?

Among others: Yves Claveau (RQGE), Pedro Ivo Batista (Terrazul-Brazil)

Which Cuba in 50 years?

How did Cuban society survive fifty years of besiege and economic strangling? What are some of the strategies emerging to renew, widen, reinforce and democratize the revolutionary mandate of 1959?

Among others: Arnold August, Marcella Escribano (Terrazul-Brazil)

Afghanistan: speak with the Taliban?
How do the Afghanis want to carry out their fight for peace, democracy and an end to the military occupation? What role will women play in the reconstruction of their country? Are there any strategies available to speed up the removal of foreign troops and to prevent a return of the Taliban?

Among others: Alexandra Gilbert (R&D), Reefat Sabbah (Teacher Creativity Center-Palestine)

The community sector at the service of the government? Social economy in debate

Is social economy really an alternative way to develop an economy that is conducive to solidarity and respectful of human beings? We often criticize the community sector for taking over the responsibilities formerly assumed by the state. But how can we conceive of a democratic and interdependent economy otherwise?

Corinne Gendron (UQAM), Nancy Neamtan (Chantier de l’économie sociale), Georges Lebel (UQAM)

The assessment and perspectives of progressive organizations

A new leftist party saw the light of day in Quebec. Despite not having any elected MPs, it remains to be very present on the political scene. What strategies does the Quebec progressive movement propose to maintain their political battle? How can progressive movements emerge in Quebec?

Among others: Diane Lamoureux (UQAM)

3:45pm BREAK

4:00pm SIMULTANEOUS WORKSHOPS

Cinema debate with Carole Poliquin

Homo-Toxicus

Every day, tons of toxic substances, whose long-term effects for living beings are unknown, are released into the environment. Some of them infiltrate our bodies and that of our children without our knowledge… Film projection and discussion with the director.

Carole Poliquin (director)

Canada, the plunderer of natural resources

Canada shelters several companies which intervene a bit everywhere on the planet. At times, these companies plunder people of their natural resources by means of war and exploitation. When they are denounced, some of them seek to muzzle criticisms. What is to be done?

Alain Denault (principal author of the book Black Canada), Abdourahmane Ousmane (Alternative-Niger)

The United States after Bush

Will the end of the Bush era bring a change of course in the United States or will we witness a make-up of neo-conservatism? Can we hope that American foreign policy in the Middle East will change? What should we expect the main issues related to the integration of Americas to be?

Joel Kovel (eco-Socialist writer- United States), Donald Cuccioletta (UQAM), Dorval Brunelle (UQAM)

The fight for cyberspace

Equitable and universal access to Internet remains an important political and economic issue. Can the Internet remain “neutral” in the current capitalist system? What are the implications for alternative communications? What are some of the ways we can make it harder for those who want to buy the web?

Frédéric Dubois (APC), Jean-Pierre Beaumier (XIT Télécom), Dimitri Vitaliev (TTC), Frédéric Sultan (IPAM-France), Simon Emmanuel Roux (Communautique)

Supporting local initiatives: a mission for Alternatives interns

Alternatives has been organizing internships since its inception. The upcoming years will be more difficult since programs are becoming rare. Here is a good occasion to reflect on the previous years, to present the good shots and to seek ways to improve in the years to come.

Presentation by interns

The state of the left in Latin America

In the aftermath of the accession to power of several progressive political parties in Latin America, what has become of electoral promises? What are the strategies of social movements to continue defending their projects for their societies?

Juvencia Huarachi Juarez (FRUTCAS-Bolivia), Thomas Chiasson LeBel, Marcela Escribano (Terrazul-Brazil)

6:00pm DINNER

7:30pm DOCUMENTARY PROJECTION: “The world according to Monsanto”, directed by Marie-Monique Robin

World leader in chemical engineering and biotechnology, the multinational Monsanto is regarded as the largest polluter of the industrial era. Inquiry and testimonies on this economic giant.

9:00pm SHOW: MUSIC OF THE WORLD WITH ZORTÉ!

Sunday 24 AUGUST

9:00am SIMULTANEOUS WORKSHOPS

Urban development: recipes for a healthy city

Urban populations continue to increase; the pressure on the environment continues to rise, just like everyone’s rent. Innovative ideas are surfacing to organize our districts, such as ecological accommodation, green rooftops or urban gardening…

Among others: Ismael Hautecoeur (Project officer “rooftop garden project”), K.Krishnakumar (Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi-India), Ighsaan Schroeder (Khanya College, South Africa)

Peace movement in Quebec: where are we?

Quebeckers protested en masse against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, against the repression of indigenous Mexicans in Oaxaca. But did our mobilizations have the desired effect? Can the great peace movement launched in March 2003 be revived? How to revive the desire to mobilize against war among activists?

Among others: Stefan Christoff (Tadamon), Sébastien Bouchard (Coalition de Québec pour la paix), Raymond Legault ( Collectif Échec à la guerre)

How to defeat the re-engineering of Stephen Harper

Refusal to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, stubbornness against Kyoto, smothering of Canadian co-operation and control of information… How can we stop this neoconservative “revolution” unfolding in Canada? Is it still possible to link the efforts of popular movements in English Canada and Quebec?

Among others: Pierre Paquette (Bloc Québécois), Raphael Canet (FSQ)

Urban fights: how to do politics differently

In our districts we continue to mobilize for local issues that have an impact on global politics. How should we organize our struggles in urban spaces? How can we reflect globally and act immediately?

Among others: Anne Latendresse (UQUAM), Reefat Sabbah (Teacher Creativity Center-Palestine)

Transformations in international solidarity

Government policies in regards to international solidarity are changing. Which path should Canadian international cooperation organizations follow to not perish?

Vinod Raina (Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi-India), Abdourahman Ousmane (Alternative-Niger), Maria Luisa Monreal (AQOCI)

10:30 BREAK

10:45 SIMULTANEOUS PLENARY ON PERSPECTIVES

AXIS 1: Building the political ecology movement

Environmental concerns have become very important for the world. However, the environment question seems to be isolated from economic, social and cultural questions. Facing governments that consider no other than market-based solutions which courses of action remain open? Is political ecology an answer?

Among others: Jean-Claude Balu (QS), Pedro Ivo Batista (Terrazul-Brazil)

AXIS 2: Building solidarity with the struggles of indigenous people

Indigenous people are mobilizing everywhere in Americas and are gaining great victories. It is particularly the case in Bolivia. Yet here in Canada, the Kelowna agreement is violated by the conservative government. Nevertheless, First Nations leaders continue to put pressure on Prime Minister Harper and call for the support of social movements.

Among others: Esperanza Sanchez Espitia (journalist/photographer-Colombia)

12:15pm LUNCH

1:30pm CLOSING PLENARY

Towards a Social Forum on Immigration

For a very long time, immigrants have been facing numerous difficulties all around the world. Today, political powers feel the need to start the debate. In Quebec, the work carried out by the Bouchard-Taylor commission, at the request of the government, is a perfect example. It is important to make immigration and integration a common project of society. Towards this end, social movements need to join their efforts. The organization of a social forum of immigration could be an excellent means of dialogue…

Andrea Galvez (CATTA), Michel Lambert (Alternatives)

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