Canada

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.

The New Democratic Party, fresh on the heels of an historic electoral victory, has just concluded its federal convention in Vancouver. Seven Fightback supporters from four different cities were there to intervene in the convention which, even before it began, was set to be a showcase for the balance of forces between the left and right wings of the party.

The 2011 federal NDP convention is debating a motion to remove all references to socialism in the party's constitution. At a time of the greatest crisis of capitalism since the Great Depression, the mass uprising in the Arab world, and the complete rejection of Liberalism in the federal election, there could not be a more mistimed proposal. At this time of austerity and crisis, we do not need more capitalism — we need more socialism.

The austerity has begun, and workers are the main target. The new Conservative majority government is showing us that all democratic rights and freedoms will be trampled if corporate profits are threatened. Conservative Labour minister Lisa Raitt has stated that she is prepared to put an end to workers’ democratic right to negotiate a new contract and better working conditions by legislating Air Canada and Canada Post workers back to work.

Toronto Centre-Rosedale has long been considered an unwinnable riding by the NDP.  However, by running a grassroots, activist, and socialist campaign in the recent federal election, the NDP more than doubled their vote in Toronto Centre and came within striking distance of defeating Bob Rae.  Solomon Muyoboke and Farshad Azadian, the campaign managers for the Toronto Centre NDP campaign and supporters of Fightback magazine, recount how socialist ideas can lead to victory.

It was not that long ago that Air Canada was facing imminent bankruptcy and placing the burden on its workers. In 2004, the airline wrung concessions from their employees — at the time, estimated to cost each worker $10,000. Aside from wage and benefits concessions, the unions also agreed to allow Air Canada to stop paying into the workers’ pension plan until 2010. In 2009, Calvin Rovinescu took over as chief executive for the airline, with the Globe and Mail remarking, “The Air Canada board is clearly preparing for a showdown with unions.” The two years that followed have been marked by a string of demands for concessions by the four Air Canada unions, even as profits and

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The political landscape of Canada has changed, potentially in an irrevocable way. The Liberal Party, formerly Canada’s “natural governing party”, has been reduced to a rump of 34 seats, having received only 19% of the vote. The separatist Bloc Quebecois, which has dominated Quebec since the party’s foundation 20 years ago, has been swept aside by the NDP’s “orange wave” and has been left with only four seats. The New Democratic Party, Canada’s labour party, has leapt into second place with a record-breaking 102 seats, and 31% of the vote.

The NDP's "surge" in Quebec has caught all of the so-called pundits and experts by surprise.  Poll after poll now has the NDP as the most popular political party in Quebec, even ahead of the nationalist Bloc Quebecois.  How can this be so?  After years of the stale nationalist-federalist debate, Quebec workers are looking for new answers and a defence of workers' rights.

The Editorial board of Fightback has released the following draft document in order to encourage discussion amongst youth and working class activists. This is particularly timely, coming in the middle of the Canadian Federal elections. Those wishing to give feedback should contact the authors directly at fightback@marxist.ca.

Canada is entering its fourth federal election in seven years. In that time, we have veered from minority Liberal to minority Conservative regimes. What has remained constant is the erosion of the standard of living of workers and youth, and the transfer of wealth to the rich and the corporations. We need to use this election to kick out the Conservatives and build support for socialist ideas.

Joel Bergman from La Riposte, the journal of the Tendance Marxiste Internationale, an official collective within Quebec solidaire, has written this article analyzing the current state of crisis that exists within Quebec society, and the need for a workers' party to emerge in Quebec.  The situation is very favourable for Quebec solidaire (QS) to become that party. The Quebec Marxists will be participating at the QS congress at the end of March and we wish them the greatest success.

This past Saturday (4th Dec.), thousands of workers, coming from as far as Gaspesie, braved the cold to march in solidarity with the locked out employees of Journal de Montréal. Pierre Karl Peladeau, a media baron who owns 99 newspapers and magazines, has locked out the Journal de Montréal workers for nearly two years. These 253 workers have become a symbol of resistance against the media monopoly of the big bourgeoisie.

This weekend in Hamilton saw the annual convention of the Ontario New Democratic Youth (ONDY), which turned into one of the most intense and crucial political battles that the NDP youth wing has ever seen. The ONDY has been sharply divided for weeks following the de-chartering of the Toronto Young New Democrats (TYND), one of the largest and strongest clubs, by the ONDY executive in a secret “in camera” meeting, using evidence that TYND members were not allowed to see. This un-democratic attack stemmed from the desire by members of the ONDY executive and certain Party staffers to rid the ONDY of so-called “radicals” by any means.

Even as it enjoys a new wave of growth and prosperity, Canadian airline giant Air Canada has launched another in a series of attacks on its workers. Breaking a promise made earlier this year, the company announced that it will dramatically increase executive compensation, while simultaneously refusing to negotiate with pilots, flight attendants, and maintenance workers who have borne the brunt of Air Canada's supposed financial difficulties.

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