Clearing the Plains in 2023: Alberta’s Drug Poisoning Crisis

What link is there between pushing Indigenous people off land, into reserves, into residential schools, and into forced treatment? How are conversations about “public safety” and policing being mobilized to harm vulnerable people? How has the politicization of the opioid epidemic obscured what’s needed to address increasing drug poisoning deaths? Harm reduction advocate Euan Thomson joins Team Advantage to discuss the realities of Alberta’s drug poisoning crisis.

Follow Euan @elsthomson and subscribe to his Drug Data Decoded newsletter.

Listen to our 2020 episode on this topic with Garth Mullins and Jeremy Appel.

Mentioned in this episode is Dustin Godfrey’s video essay “Is Vancouver Dying? A definitely non-exhaustive review.” Also mentioned is a recent B.C. Federation of Labour resolution to lobby the B.C. government for safe supply.

Listeners may also be interested in a recent episode of CANADALAND’s Short Cuts that critically examines several conservative myths regarding the opioid crisis.

Can Socialists Like Hockey?

Culture wars, long-term injury, workplace violence, sexual assaults, nationalistic militarism, and the appropriation of working-class aesthetics… is it possible to like hockey from the left? Can sport unite the working class? Is hockey a serious game for serious men, or a silly game for silly people? Cass Kislenko, Tyler Shipley and Doug Nesbitt join Team Advantage to discuss Canada’s game.

Doug mentions the short film Valery’s Ankle by Brett Kashmere.

Tyler refers to the 2016 film Hello Destroyer.

Follow Cass Kislenko @redkislenko
Follow Tyler Shipley @le_shipster
Definitely don’t follow Doug Nesbitt because he’s not @standingthegaff

Take Back Alberta (from Woke Jason Kenney)

A group known as Take Back Alberta appears to have seized control over sizable parts of the United Conservative Party and secured the leadership of Danielle Smith. What is this group? What motivates them, and who are their key figures? PressProgress writer Stephen Magusiak joins Team Advantage to discuss his recent piece, Who Is ‘Take Back Alberta’ and What Do They Really Want?

Follow Stephen at @magusiak, PressProgress at @PressProgress, and sign up for the ShiftWork newsletter.

Further reading:

Take Back Alberta movement is gaining ground in the UCP, and some in the party are worried – Carrie Tait, Globe & Mail

Recession Ahead? w/ Jim Stanford

The Bank of Canada is explicitly trying to increase unemployment by raising the cost of borrowing money. Is excessive employment the cause of inflation, and if not, what are the consequences of this policy likely to be? Economist Jim Stanford joins Team Advantage to talk about profiteering, the housing market, and the potential for a recession within the next year.

Follow Jim Stanford on twitter @JimboStanford, and check out Economics for Everyone at

TORIES: Calgary Laundry Workers vs Ralph Klein

A few short years into Alberta PC Premier Ralph Klein’s deficit-slashing austerity regime, Calgary’s hospital laundry workers were given devastating news: they were going to be fired. Having been pushed to the brink, they took to the streets the next day on a wildcat strike. Soon, the city would be galvanized by the strike, with sympathy strikes soon forcing Klein’s government to cancel health spending cuts and talk of a general strike in the air. 

Our episode ends with an excerpt from Yvette Lynch, laundry worker and CUPE 8 member. 

Listen to our previous episode on TORIES: Peter Lougheed, and check out our two-part series on why Ralph Klein sucked: Part 1, Part 2.

Further Reading:

Chambers, Allan. Fighting Back: The 1995 Calgary Laundry Workers Strike. Edmonton: Alberta Federation of Labour and Alberta Labour History Institute, 2012..

Foster, Jason. “Revolution, Retrenchment, and the New Normal: The 1990s and Beyond.” In Working People in Alberta: A History, edited by Alvin Finkel, 205–241. Edmonton: AU Press, 2012.

Reshef, Yonaton, and Sandra Rastin. Unions in the Time of Revolution: Government Restructuring in Alberta and Ontario. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Taylor, Jeff. “Labour in the Klein Revolution.” In The Trojan Horse: Alberta and the Future of Canada, edited by Gordon Laxer and Trevor Harrison, 301–313. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1995.

Building a Community Movement for Better Transit feat. James Wilt: Saturday, March 18th | University of Alberta. RSVP:

Declaring Sovereignty

Alberta, under the incredible leadership of Premier Danielle Smith, has declared sovereignty — or rather, proclaimed itself “sovereign within a united Canada,” whatever that means. What even is sovereignty? How might it to relate to Indigenous sovereignty? Who even wants this?

The Free Trade Debate: Then and Now

In the 1980s and 1990s, free trade and economic integration were intensely debated topics and the subject of debate in national elections, and generally opposed by the political left. Most recently, right-populist political formations — like Trump and Brexit — have resurfaced the issue of free trade, critiquing it for their own purposes. Why is it that nobody except the political right wants to talk about free trade anymore, especially when our countries have strategic decisions on the horizon— like resourcing pandemic responses and mitigating climate change?

Canadian vs U.S. Unions

What explains the drastic differences between labour unions in Canada and the United States? Why is U.S. union density roughly one-third that of Canada’s, despite the similarities both share? How have different political and legal regimes in the respective countries shaped labour’s efforts? Team Advantage explores all this and more in this hour-long discussion. When you’re done, watch the NFB’s Final Offer.