Canada

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.

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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