Canada

Over the past two weeks, the student strike in Quebec has entered a new stage. What originally began as a strike against a 75% increase in tuition fees has rapidly progressed into a movement against the Liberal government itself. Premier Jean Charest’s government has clumsily fallen over itself, trying to suppress or divide the movement, with little success. Instead of killing the movement, every action by the government has only given the movement new life.

Fightback, the Marxists in English Canada have taken the initiative to spread the inspiring Quebec Student strike across the country. They are doing this in solidarity with their comrades in Quebec organized around La Riposte. The comrades launched an open letter calling on the Canadian Federation of Students, the main student federation in English Canada, to organize strike ballots for free education and to support the Quebec movement.

16 May: The past two weeks of the Quebec student strike have brought an intense roller-coaster of events. The Quebec government put forward an offer that would “find a way out of the crisis”, but which did nothing to resolve the issue of the proposed tuition increase. The offer was massively rejected in assembly after assembly across Quebec.

We are publishing a statement put out by our comrades in Quebec, La Tendance Marxiste Internationale au Québec, on the government's deal with the striking Quebec students.  Last night (Sunday), there was another large demonstration and our comrades handed out over 1,000 leaflets with this statement.  The original French version can be found by visiting the La Riposte website.

The fantastic 12-week long Quebec student strikes mark a new stage in struggle in the Canadian state. However, while this outburst is new for Canada, it is merely the continuation of the international movement against austerity which we have witnessed: the Greek general strikes, the indignados movement in Spain, Wisconsin, the Occupy movement, the inspiration from the Arab revolutions, etc. A victory for the Quebec students is a victory for all workers and youth, both in Canada and around the world, and it is vital that everything possible is done to assure its success and draw out the necessary lessons.

This week has been a crucial one in Quebec’s historic student strike. In their struggle against the $1,625 tuition increase, the students have held strong since February 13th —  for 73 days straight. 178,390 students remain on unlimited strike despite the government’s gamble they could wait this movement out, that it would tire and collapse.

As this article goes to print, the Quebec student strike is in its 11th week. All of the efforts by the Jean Charest government to derail and divide the student movement have so far failed, and generally have served to further ignite the flame and spread the indignation to the rest of the population. The vitriolic media campaign unleashed over the supposed “violence” of the students has failed; meanwhile, the government refuses to condemn the brutality and mass indiscriminate arrests by the police forces.

The slogan, “When injustice becomes law, resistance is a duty!” summarizes very well the analysis of the situation at the Université de Montréal (UdeM) and shows the only road forward that remains for students facing the attacks of the Charest government and the Guy Breton administration at UdeM.

A series of concessions by labour leaders across the country has put a dampener on the mood of the labour movement recently.  Workers have been told that all they can hope for are reduced benefits, less job security, and they should be thankful to even have a job.  However, a wildcat strike by hundreds of Air Canada workers across the country have shown that in spite of a timid leadership, workers are prepared to mount a massive fight against the bosses’ austerity agenda and flex their collective muscle.  More importantly, this show of strength can actually work and result in victory for workers.

Thomas Mulcair, the former Quebec Liberal and so-called “modernizer”, has been elected leader of the federal New Democratic Party. He gained 57% of the vote on the fourth and final ballot, defeating six other candidates in the process. Many in the party fear that he will take the same route as former British Labour leader Tony Blair. However, this will not be easy for him. There is little enthusiasm for Mulcair in the party and only 50% of the membership found a reason to vote for any of the candidates. The reality is that there were very few ideas discussed in the campaign and Mulcair’s victory was no way inevitable. A genuinely left-wing candidate could have galvanized the

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On Thursday, March 22nd, around 300,000 students, teachers, and workers took to the streets of Montreal in a massive demonstration of historic proportions. On that day, 308,723 students were united in a strike across the province. The march was joined by buses from all over Quebec which brought students from universities, CEGEPs, and surprisingly, even a significant contingent from high schools! Workers’ unions, from the metallos to the nurses to the teachers and others, also came out, flying their union flags.

We are republishing this letter, written by Iranian-Canadian activists, who are demanding that they not be excluded from the anti-war movement, and that support for Iranian revolutionaries not be silenced.  This letter was addressed to leaders of various Canadian anti-war organizations in the aftermath of an anti-war protest in Toronto on Sunday, 4th March 2012.  A Persian translation follows the English letter.

29 November: In very quick succession, the bad news continues to rain down from the different layers of government in Ontario. The Rob Ford municipal government in Toronto is making no effort to hide the fact that they are preparing a long lockout of city workers in January 2012. Meanwhile, the provincial Liberals’ throne speech outlined historic cuts in provincial spending — even greater than those seen in the Mike Harris days. As 2011 comes to a close, it is appearing that Ontario workers will have the fight of their lives on hand in 2012.

The global Occupy Movement swept across Toronto on the weekend of 15th October. For five weeks, protesters engaged in daily protests, coordinated around the St. James Park encampment, until the police-enforced eviction on 23rd November 2011. What lessons can be drawn from the experience?

Over 200,000 Quebec students went on strike on Thursday (10th November) against the tuition increases being imposed on them by the Quebec Liberal government. Premier Jean Charest's proposes to increase post-secondary tuition fees by a total of $1,625 over the next five years, the biggest tuition increase in the province’s history. 

The Canadian corporate media commentators were all united with a single opinion — the #Occupy movement would have no traction north of the border due to Canada’s “stable banks that never needed a bailout”. Despite the fact that this is a lie, (the federal government gifted $25-billion to the Canadian banks via the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation), on Saturday 15th October the people showed the press just how out of touch they are. Over 1,000 in Montreal, over 2,000 in Vancouver, over 5,000 in Toronto, and hundreds more in a dozen other cities, marched to join the international occupy movement.

Judging from last night’s Ontario election results, it would not appear that we are currently living in the most turbulent time in several generations.  The disappointing campaigns of the three political parties — the Liberals, Tories, and NDP — carried through into the election where, for the first time in Ontario history, less than half of eligible voters found a reason to cast a ballot.  The CBC was vindicated in their decision to give preference to the Leafs’ 2-0 shutout of the Habs and punting election coverage to CBC News Network.

Youth in Canada and globally are being unjustly forced to bear the heavy burden of the capitalist crisis. While corporations worldwide continue to maximize profits, youth are suffering record unemployment rates that leave them susceptible to poverty, a lack of housing and education, and an increased risk of violence and conflict with the law.

On 22nd August, New Democrats woke to discover that we had lost our Party leader, Jack Layton. Now we are seeing a huge outpouring of emotion amongst party activists and the wider working class. This is because in these times of crisis and austerity, Jack Layton was seen to represent something different. He represented a path towards social justice and away from the race to the bottom. Hope and optimism were Jack’s watchwords and this is exactly what workers and youth are looking for right now. Fightback salutes the passing of a fighter who will be missed by millions.

The recently completed core services review has stripped Toronto mayor Rob Ford of his populist façade, and revealed the true extent of the austerity to come in Canada’s largest city. Almost every single aspect that makes capitalism semi-bearable for working-class people is about to be taken away.

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