The Syrian Conflict Must Be Resolved by the Syrian People Themselves!

Statement of the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, August, 2012

The crisis in Syria continues to deepen with every passing day. Thousands have been killed or injured, including countless civilians caught in the crossfire between armed opposition groups and government forces. Thousands more have been displaced from their towns and villages and forced into internal or foreign exile by the fighting. In this very real sense, the situation has become a human and social tragedy of the first order.

But what is actually taking place in Syria? Who is really provoking the violence and prolonging the agony of the Syrian people?

The Western corporate‑controlled media would have us believe that the root cause of the conflict is the “tyrannical” government of President Bashar El‑Assad which clings to power at any price, willing to sacrifice the health and security of its own people. This “big lie” is central to the intensifying propaganda campaign to vilify El‑Assad in order to conceal the role of reactionary and clerical forces bent on destabilizing and ultimately overthrowing the current government and seizing power for themselves. And if necessary, this demonization campaign will be used as a pretext for imperialist military intervention and occupation to directly impose “regime change”, as was done in Iraq and most recently in Libya. Continue reading

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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

Who Needs an Editor? Not Fidel…

by Sabina Becker

…but the unnamed snotball who wrote this for the Canadian Press? Oh yes.

Look, CP presstitute-person, whoever you are, hiding behind your tradition of unsigned editorial cowardice…I understand that you may not like Fidel Castro, but it’s still a fact that he is FAR more popular in all the Americas than Harpo is up here. And the reason for his popularity, not that it matters to the likes of you, is simple: He has kept mafias and monopolies from dominating Cuba. In other words, he stands for Cuban sovereignty. Or, to put it another way: He kicks Stephen Harper’s sweater-vested ass.

Obviously our silly scribes up here in the no-longer-so-great North have no idea how popular the Cuban Revolution actually still is. They seem to think that it was only popular for the time it took to drive out Fulgencio Batista. And that once Fidel revealed himself to be a Marxist-Leninist, it all went downhill.

WRONG. Continue reading

Budget for the Rich, Not Workers

People’s Voice Editorial

The first Tory majority budget was delivered two days after this PV went to the printshop. But the outlines were hinted at for weeks by Conservative cabinet ministers. Like the rest of the capitalist world, Canada remains in a protracted economic crisis, and the working class will be forced to pay the price through austerity and war.

Of course, the Tories argue that their “responsible leadership” has left Canada in a relatively well-off position. Measured by the rebound in corporate profits and share prices since the 2008 meltdown, that may be true for the wealthy. But for the 1.5 million Canadians officially counted as jobless, or working people struggling to survive on low wages, or Aboriginal peoples who remain in dire poverty, there is no “recovery” or security.

Instead of tackling the serious problems of unemployment and poverty, the Tories are joining the global capitalist attack on pension eligibility. Instead of investing in desperately needed low-income housing and affordable child care, they pour billions of taxpayer dollars into prisons, cops, and military hardware. Rather than increase taxes on corporate profits, they download costs to the provinces as a way to artificially “reduce” the federal deficit.

Whenever the Harperites say that “everyone” must help to tackle the deficit, remember that Canada’s economic problems were created by big business and the wealthy – those who reap the benefits of lower taxes on profits and the highest income brackets. By “everyone”, they mean the workers who create the wealth of our society, but have no voice in determining the future of Canada. In our system, budgets are just another form of class war by the rich against the poor. More than ever, we need to build a powerful coalition of the working class and its allies to change course, to win policies for the needy, not the greedy!

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.

Understanding the Victory of Thomas Mulcair

by Judy Rebick

Most of the mainstream media, with the help of the Mulcair and Topp campaigns, constructed the leadership battle at the NDP convention as a battle between those who wanted to move to the centre to win government and those who wanted to win maintaining the “traditional” social democratic values of the NDP.

Brian Topp’s bold-sounding declaration that he was a proud social democrat made those of us who have spent decades on the left of the party cringe. Isn’t the NDP a social democratic party? Hasn’t the history of the party been the struggle between a democratic socialist left —  best represented by the Waffle but succeeded by a series of progressive groups, ending with the New Politics Initiative — with the social democratic establishment? Is that establishment now in the position of opposition pushing the party to the left? If it is true, it is depressing on the one hand and deliciously ironic on the other.

What is left out of this narrative is that there is a new force in the party that I would consider the new left and it was best represented in this campaign by Nathan Cullen. Cullen’s language was very close to the politics of the New Politics Initiative. He speaks of social struggles and the alliance between the party and First Nations and environment groups. He speaks from the heart without the spin that has infected almost everyone else. He is at heart a democrat. This left is less sectarian. Many of them supported strategic voting in past elections and this time the more strategic electoral alliance with the Liberals. I don’t agree with them on that but there is no question that they are the most progressive force in the party right now and the one closest to the social movements who are flooding into the streets and the parks across North America.

The strength of Cullen’s campaign came from the power of this youthful movement  represented by Lead Now’s support for his proposal on an electoral alliance as much as from his winning personality and charisma. No one mentioned that Lead Now got 5, 500 people to join with the NDP to support what they call “co-operation.” There were days when the women’s movement had this kind of power in the party, reflected especially in Audrey McLaughlin’s victory as leader. Peggy Nash’s unjust defeat early in the balloting showed that this movement is much less a force today.

It is too bad that Peggy Nash or Paul Dewar didn’t seize the chance of an alliance with this group or that Brian Topp, seeing that he couldn’t win, didn’t throw his support to Cullen who could have won. But then I think the party establishment represented by Topp, with a couple of important exceptions like Libby Davies, are more worried about Cullen’s politics than Mulcair’s.

The other narrative promoted by the Mulcair campaign, Chantal Hebert and Gerry Caplan, is that a defeat of Mulcair would have been seen as a slap in the face to Quebec. After all, polls showed that Quebecois massively supported Mulcair as the leader of the NDP and he had majority support from the Quebec caucus of the party and a lot of endorsements and financial contributions from outside the party.

This is more complicated. It may be true that the initial reaction to the vote will be positive and that most media in Quebec supported Mulcair, but there is also intense criticism of him here. What people in the NDP don’t seem to understand is that the massive move from the PQ to the NDP in the last election was less a move to federalism and more a move to the progressive party most Quebecois thought could defeat Harper. If the NDP moves to the right of BQ under Mulcair, it risks losing a lot of that support. Since no one including Chantal Hebert has any idea what the Quebec electorate will do in the next federal election, supporting Mulcair or opposing him for this reason makes no sense. It is positive that the NDP membership showed that they understood the importance of the gains in Quebec by giving their support only to the candidates who are fluent in French.

The third narrative is what has been called a whisper campaign against Mulcair. It was a pretty loud whisper turned into a shout by Ed Broadbent. No one can get along with this guy. He is a bully who doesn’t brook opposition. Kind of like a certain Prime Minister we know. It was also suggested that Mulcair had nothing to do with the victory in Quebec. Quieter but just as widespread was the knowledge that not a single woman who has worked with him for more than a few months was supporting him. Some of these whispers are true from what I can tell. On Quebec, he did establish a foothold in Quebec but he was not a major player in recruiting candidates or organizing the last election campaign. He is, however, the only one of the leadership candidates who is known in Quebec.

NDPers don’t like whisper campaigns, which is to their credit. They may also have figured that we need a bully to face a bully or that Brian Topp’s lack of charisma or ability to connect with a crowd was as big a problem as Mulcair’s authoritarian streak.

My view is that the NDP has elected an old-style patriarchal politician who has the same politics vis-a-vis Quebec as the pre-Jack NDP, seeing sovereigntists as bitter enemies instead of potential allies, is more of a liberal than a social democrat and who will move the party to the right especially on international issues, including free trade and Israel, two issues at the centre of Harper’s agenda.

I didn’t participate in this campaign because I see the hope for change in the new movements that are emerging around the globe rather than in electoral politics. That is where I am putting my energy these days but it always helps if the social movements can see their reflection in the social democratic political party. This hasn’t been true in Europe for a long time which is why we see just a dramatic contradiction between what is happening in the Parliament there and what is happening in the streets.

In Canada, whatever the weaknesses of the NDP, we have always managed to have a strong alliance between them and the social movements. That alliance strengthened the women’s movement, the anti-war movement, the labour movement and others. I fear under the leadership of Thomas Mulcair, that alliance will be lost and it will be a loss for all of us.

*note: Originally posted on Rabble.ca. Original article available here.