End the Aggression Against Syria! Stop the Drive to War Against Iran!

Canadian Peace Congress Executive Council

The Canadian Peace Congress condemns the ongoing foreign intervention in Syria and the escalating drive to war against Iran, and calls for the immediate withdrawal of all Canadian, NATO and foreign mercenary forces from the region. We further call upon the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to restore and normalize its diplomatic relations with Syria and Iran, and to re‑orient Canadian foreign policy toward peace, international cooperation and solidarity.

The Harper government’s decision to adopt an international policy of belligerence, and to do so without consulting Parliament, is further evidence of its abandonment of a foreign policy of peace and diplomacy in favour of aggressive and hostile interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. Syria and Iran are member states of the United Nations and have expressed no hostile intent towards Canada or its people. Prime Minister Harper is actively contributing to the danger of war, through hostile policies that are out of step with the Canadian peoples’ longstanding support for peace. Continue reading

PQ Minority Government for Quebec

by Johan Boyden

Quebec headed to the polls on Sept. 4 for a historic election. The Liberals, including leader Jean Charest, went down to defeat, as voters granted a slim minority government to the Parti Québécois (PQ) led by Pauline Marois.

Supporters of the Parti Quebecois celebrate their election victory

The PQ’s first act will be to cancel the tuition fee hike and abolish Law 78, which effectively criminalized the student strikers. Their platform also called to abolish tuition increases until 2018, eliminate the health tax, reconsider additional fees for Hydro Quebec usage, increase taxes and fees on natural resource exploitation, expand daycare spaces, and enact Employment Insurance reforms by repatriating EI to Quebec. Continue reading

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

Why Don’t the Greek Communists Just Link Forces With the Radical Left Coalition?

by Johan Boyden

The political assessment of the Communist Party of Greece (which we posted here) deserves some introduction for our readers in Canada. Afterall, as Greece heads towards Sunday elections, all eyes seem to suddenly be turned to the volatile situation in the Hellenic Republic.

UPDATE: View the election results in graphic form and read the assessment of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece.

Progressive-minded people in Canada are optimistic. After years of hard struggle with countless general strikes and mass rallies, maybe these elections will hand a victory to political parties that identify with the left? Maybe they will demonstrate a different direction from austerity and economic crisis to the world?

There is also a certain renewed anxiety in the voices of the ruling class.  “We cannot have a Greek election determining the future of the global economy. That’s not fair to anybody,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said recently. Today, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney referenced Greece and the European situation to warn of more mass unemployment and ‘recession’ over here. 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

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.