Quebec Movements Face Election Challenge

by Johan Boyden, Montreal

The community of Trois Pistoles along the northern banks of the St. Lawrence river is known for its picturesque beauty and historic links to Basque whalers, who travelled there hundreds of years ago from Spain. Now it has become a symbol of the pre‑election polarization and fear‑mongering going on in Québec.

A student protester in Quebec

An ecological festival in the town, put on by community activists including some who have been fighting high‑risk shale gas development in the region, wanted to invite student leaders to speak at their event.

A storm of controversy erupted. Mayor Jean‑Pierre Rioux met with organizers and threatened to withdraw all funding. “Around here, people think that [student leader] Gabriel Nadeau‑Dubois is […] like Maurice `Mom’ Boucher” one festival organizer said.

Mom Boucher is, of course, the convicted rapist, drug dealer and murderer who leads the Montreal Hells Angels. Continue reading

Vietnam, Venezuela Sign Co-operation Projects

Nhan Dan

Several Vietnamese and Venezuelan agencies and businesses signed a number of co-operation agreements, contracts and memoranda of understanding at the second session of the Vietnamese-Venezuelan Inter-governmental Committee that concluded in Caracas, Venezuela on April 20.

The second session of the Vietnamese-Venezuelan Inter-governmental Committee 

Under the agreements, Vietnam will supply solar power generating stations, solar powered kettles, public lighting systems, technical assistance and equipment for exploration of the Junin 2 oil field by the joint venture PetroMacareo.

The newly signed contracts also include the expansion of a cultural exchange programme for the 2012 – 2015 period, which will focus on the theatre, cinema and publishing. Continue reading

Is the French Communist Party Back?

by Zoltan Zigedy

After years of retreat and opportunism and consequent loss of support and influence, the French Communist Party (PCF) is showing signs of life. Aligned with smaller parties in the Left Front (Front de Gauche, FG), the PCF has rallied around the presidential candidacy of Jean Melenchon for the forthcoming first round of French elections. The latest polls show Melenchon with over 14% of the prospective voters, ahead of all other candidates excepting Hollande (PS) and Sarkozy (UMP).

This once dynamic party succumbed to the allure of reformism, anti-Sovietism, and compromise with its embrace of the so-called “Euro-Communist” stance in the seventies. With over half a million members immediately after World War II, and garnering more votes than any other party at that time, the PCF was poised to become the dominant force in French politics, if not the first CP to launch a Western European country onto the road to socialism. Continue reading

Cuban sugar sweetens education for children throughout Laos

Lao News Agency

More than 150,000 pre-primary and primary school students will get a boost of energy every day to help them concentrate better on their studies, thanks to a contribution from Cuba of more than 180 metric tons of sugar to the United Nations World Food Programme.

The sugar will be mixed in to a nutritious daily mid-morning snack dumplings made from a blend of corn and soy – for school students in rural areas throughout six provinces in the far north and south of Laos, according to yesterday press release of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The Cuban donation was made possible thanks to a private citizen of Japan, who funded the shipment from Cuba to Laos. In a statement, he expressed his hope that his contribution will play a small part in making the world a better place. Continue reading

The Federal Budget Is Still A War Budget

Statement from the Canadian Peace Alliance, March 28, 2012

The Federal budget 2012 still shows an increase in military spending to a total of more than $20 billion for the year 2012. Despite claims that the Harper government will be reducing military spending, the reality is that this reduction is simply a small haircut of $1.1 billion off of a massive structural budget increase as outlined by the Canada First Defence Strategy which calls for almost a half trillion dollars in spending by 2025.

The costs of the military spending in the social wage for Canadians is staggering and the Conservatives are purblind to those costs. They are still pushing ahead with a plan to buy 65 F‑35 fighter jets despite the fact that we still have no idea what these offensive and rather useless jest will cost. According to Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page the total cost of the F35s may reach more than $30 billion. Continue reading

Stephen Harper’s Illusions

by Fidel Castro Ruz

The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, said in his latest written reflections that the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the US President Barack Obama should be questioned about what position will they assume towards the Malvinas issue in the upcoming Americas Summit.

I think –and I do not intend to offend anyone- that this is how the Prime Minister of Canada is called. I deduced it from a statement published on “Holy Wednesday” by a spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry of that country. The United Nations Organization membership is made up by almost 200 States –allegedly independent States. They continuously change or are forced into change. Many of their representatives are honorable persons, friends of Cuba; but it is impossible to remember the specifics about each and every one of them.

During the second half of the twentieth century, I had the privilege of living through years of intensive erudition and I realized that Canadians, located in the northernmost region of this hemisphere, were always respectful towards our country. They invested in areas of their interest and traded with Cuba, but they did not interfere in the internal affairs of our State. Continue reading

No Move Left for NDP

People’s Voice Editorial

     With Thomas Mulcair as the new leader of the NDP, it appears that Canada’s mass social democratic party will likely continue its long-term drift to the political centre. In fact, none of the seven candidates who made it to the ballot were clearly associated with strong left positions, even on issues where working people favour a move towards genuine progressive reforms.

For example, a growing majority of voters support increased taxes on the wealthy and the corporations, to help shift the tax burden from the needy to the greedy and to help pay for vital social programs. Yet no NDP leadership candidate made more than a timid gesture in this direction. Nor did any of them mention the need for public ownership of critical economic sectors such as the energy industry – even though nearly half of Canadians back such a demand, according to surveys over recent years.

Mulcair brings a particularly poor record on issues of peace and war to his new post. Canada already has a viciously anti-Palestinian Prime Minister, and now we also have an Official Opposition leader who has been vehemently pro-Israel in his public statements. Nor did Mr. Mulcair raise any objection to the Harper government’s aggressive militarist foreign policy. The NDP has shifted from its identification with the anti-war movement of a decade ago, into the camp of those who support imperialist interventions in the name of “humanitarian intervention.”

None of this is any big surprise – the NDP has been on a trajectory away from left policies for many years. But those who counsel “keeping our powder dry” by blocking attempts to mobilize public opposition against the Harper Tories – so that we can elect an NDP government in 2015 – are making a huge mistake. More than ever, the main focus of opposition to the Tory/corporate agenda must be extraparliamentary, in our workplaces and communities.