Sep032017

Unite and fight: Jobs, democracy, sovereignty and peace

This Labour Day 2017, is the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. Against all odds, the Russian workers defended their socialist revolution against invasion, fascism and wars, at an enormous cost of 22 million Soviet lives. Their goal was to create a new workers’ state in which the exploitation of one human being by another was abolished forever.

100 years later, the peoples of the world are once again facing war, racism, exploitation and fascism, while the USSR – a great counter-weight to US imperialism and global war – has been overthrown. The world has changed, but the struggle for peace, jobs, democracy, sovereignty and socialism remains the goal of millions of workers around the world.

Today working people in Canada and around the globe are faced not only with the ongoing corporate assault against jobs and living standards, but with a US president willing to launch a nuclear war which could devastate humanity. It’s time to unite and fight – for jobs, democracy, sovereignty and peace.

Say no to Trump! Get out of NAFTA!

As we march in Labour Day parades, our sovereignty and independence are being sold out in the NAFTA talks. Contrary to what the Liberal government and Chrystia Freeland claim, these negotiations aim to open up Canada like a sardine can to US based transnationals that want to feast on energy and natural resources, including oil and gas, water, lumber, and much more. They want to scrap Chapter 19, which settles trade disputes among the NAFTA partners, while expanding Chapter 11, which gives corporations the power to sue governments over future lost profits. They want to allow US corporations to bid on healthcare and education services and delivery, which are all public in Canada today. They want to swallow our manufacturing jobs and repatriate the Big Three auto parts and assembly operations to the US, using rules of origin to send auto and manufacturing jobs south, where wages are much lower. They want to finish off our agriculture supply management system, which keeps farmers afloat by guaranteeing quotas and incomes – by allowing agribusiness to flood the market with US milk (laced with BGH), eggs, and poultry products. Leaving everything to “the free market” is precisely why US dairy farmers have huge surpluses, while the price of milk has dropped 40% since 2014. Why would Canada sign on to that?

On top of all this, the US is demanding more access to the Canadian market through technology that allows on-line purchases of US goods and services virtually tax free, negatively affecting the Canadian economy and the pubic purse. Privacy rights protected under Canadian law are also on the chopping block in NAFTA renegotiations.

There are no benefits for Canada. Working people, youth, women, the unemployed, will all be hit by these negotiations, just like they were by NAFTA in 1992 and the FTA in 1988. It was a bad deal then – it’s a worse deal now. No side deals can change that reality.

Unfortunately, much of the leadership of the labour movement in Canada seems unwilling to grasp this danger, referring to the key issues as “irritants” in these talks, while the CLC participates in the government’s NAFTA Advisory Council. The CLC should pull out of the Advisory Council and instead demand that Trudeau PULL THE PLUG ON NAFTA now!  Out of NAFTA!

Instead of one-sided and detrimental “free” trade with the US, Canada needs mutually-beneficial, multi-lateral trade with the world that respects national sovereignty and independence.

Say yes to democracy! Defend workers’ rights and standards!

Since Trump’s election, the attack on civil, social, labour, and democratic rights has escalated dramatically, especially in the US.  The gathering of racist and fascist forces in Charlottesville, and Trump’s defence of  the terrorist actions which left one dead and dozens wounded, is a clarion call to action for all those who recognize the threat that these forces represent.

In Canada, xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic hate campaigns came into the open with the Harper Tories’ “Barbaric Cultural Practices Act and Snitch Line”. Similar legislation was introduced by the PQ government in Quebec under the claim of protecting  “Quebec values”. Now the Liberals have put this back on the table with Bill 62.  The attacks escalated from hate messages and confrontations on city streets, to the murder of six Muslim men in a St. Foy mosque last February. Hate crimes have increased significantly in Canada, as the Conservative leadership candidates signalled that hate campaigns against Muslims, immigrants, Blacks, Jews and Indigenous Peoples are acceptable. Tory MPs in the Commons even voted en masse against M103, a motion directing the government to look into hate crimes including Islamophobia in Canada. Now, the anti-Muslim Bill 62 is back on the legislative agenda in Quebec, and the “World Coalition Against Islam” is promoting white supremacist hatred.

Andrew Scheer, the new Conservative leader, has close ties with the far right, including (despite recent disavowals) Ezra Levant’s ultra-right Rebel Media. Tory MPs including Kelly Leitch and Chris Alexander have spoken at rallies organized by Rebel Media and other groups, to attack immigrants and racialized communities.

Canada is at a watershed moment. Hate crimes must be prosecuted in the courts, and hate speech is also a criminal act when it advocates hatred and/or violence against identifiable groups based on religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, or place of origin.

Mass protests and demonstrations are essential to send a strong message that the cancerous ideas spread by fascist, racist and white supremacist movements will not be tolerated. Working people have fought fascism in Canada before, from the battle of Christie Pits in Toronto during the 1930s right up to the present. This struggle is needed today as well, to drive these rats back into the sewers.

These movements have arisen again because of the crisis of capitalism and its inability to meet the needs of working people without curbing the power and the profits of the biggest corporations. Instead, reactionary governments have relied on policies of austerity, mass unemployment, war, and attacks on labour, civil and democratic rights to quash resistance and maintain the status quo.  This has created an opening for the rise of the ultra-right.  Racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism aim to split and divide the working people and weaken their resistance when united action is essential and decisive. US imperialism, now openly aided and abetted by Canada, also has a wider militarist agenda. The labour and people’s movements cannot sit on the sidelines as the US and its NATO allies, including Canada, relentlessly push to overthrow governments which resist their domination of the planet.

No to Trump’s war threats

The “fire and fury” threat by President Trump against the DPRK (North Korea) is his latest tactic to demonstrate the ferocious power and global domination agenda of US imperialism. But any US attack on the DPRK would lead to the death of millions of Koreans. There is no such thing as a tactical nuclear war – such a US strike could potentially ignite a global conflagration.

The South Korean government is pleading with the US to step back, stating that no-one has the authority to start a war on the Korean Peninsula without the agreement of the people who live there. Trump – and Trudeau – should listen. PM Trudeau and the labour and democratic movements must say NO! Instead of nuclear weapons, the Korean people and the peoples of the world need a political solution – and peace. This can be achieved, if US troops are withdrawn from the Peninsula, and joint manoeuvres by the US, Japan and South Korea to invade DPRK and overthrow its government are stopped now.

Closer to home, where Venezuela sits atop the largest oil deposits in the world, the Trump administration is threatening to overthrow the elected government of Nicolas Maduro, who has full constitutional rights to convene a Constituent Assembly. Cuba is also in Trump’s sights, just 90 miles from Miami. US military forces in and around Syria are also building up, even though the war against ISIS has largely been won by the Syrian government with Russian support.

On a global scale, military spending (largely by the US) already consumes over a trillion dollars a year. Now, the Liberal government has promised a 70% increase in military spending, to meet the US demand that Canada vastly increase its NATO funding. This means deep cuts to social programs, and more undelivered Liberal promises to Indigenous Peoples, the unemployed, youth, women, and workers.

Higher military spending also means more privatization of public services and assets like Canada Post, and higher user fees and prices. The conversion of civilian to military spending and the expansion of Canada’s role in US dirty wars means that job creation will be tied to military industries and services, as they are in the US. The labour and peace forces must say NO to militarization of Canada’s economy. This money must be invested in good jobs, higher wages and pensions, affordable housing, quality public healthcare and education. This includes environmental protection and sustainable development of natural and energy resources and industries, in the interests of working people from coast to coast to coast.

A People’s Coalition

The Communist Party calls for a People’s Coalition that can unite all the forces fighting against austerity, war and the rise of the ultra-right, and for a people’s recovery from capitalist crisis. Working people need a strong and independent voice to defend their interests in the turbulent times ahead.  This cannot be contracted out to the NDP ,who are committed to put a human face on capitalism, or to the Liberals, the “friendly” face of capitalism. A People’s Coalition would be just that: a coalition of people’s organizations, labour, the Communist Party and others united around a common program and united action to secure those gains. This would enable a united struggle across Canada, moving from the defensive to the offensive – an objective whose time has surely arrived.

On this Labour Day, we call for mass united action to stop the drive to war and reaction, and to move labour onto the offensive, shoulder to shoulder with its social and political allies.

  United we stand – divided we fall!

                An injury to one is an injury to all!