Canada

Meanwhile in the French-speaking part of Canada, the Liberals are doing exactly the same thing as in English-speaking Canada, while the Parti Québécois and the Action démocratique du Québec, supposedly parties that are supposed to defend the French-speaking population of Quebec, have supported attacks on public sector workers and made clear they would pursue cuts of their own if they were in power.

Last year the three biggest union federations in Quebec – CSN, FTQ, and SISP – formed a Common Front that unites 475,000 public sector workers. On Saturday March 20th, this union front brought 75,000 workers from all over Quebec onto the streets of Montreal. After years of being held back, now the workers are presenting the bill just when Quebec’s public debt as at a record high.

Peter Kent, a Canadian minister, recently expressed concerns over the supposed “shrinking democratic space” in Venezuela. He was referring to measures against several TV stations. On one of these, Noel Álavarez, president of the bosses’ union FEDECAMARAS, called for another “military solution” to the political situation in Venezuela. How would Kent like it if a Canadian boss suggested Canada’s military intervene to remove his government?

After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, governments around the world have been quick to announce that the recession is over and that a recovery is on the horizon. Although the recession may already be technically over, the recovery which we will be seeing will not bring the economy back to pre-recession levels. Most likely, it will be a weak one with little job growth.

Despite the images of natural beauty and pleasant ‘middle class’ life that will be broadcast to the world in February, Vancouver is a troubled city and B.C. is a troubled province. In the past decade, Gordon Campbell’s Liberals have brought unprecedented cuts to social services.

On the weekend of 20th-22nd November, Quebec solidaire held its annual congress in Laval. Approximately 300 delegates and guests attended the two days of discussion and debate about the direction of the party. The IMT comrades within the party defend the idea that if Quebec solidaire is to become a real force in Quebec society, then it must win over the trade unions and become a genuine labour party. In order to split the trade union movement away from the bourgeois nationalist Parti Quebecois, a strong socialist program that addresses the needs of the workers of Quebec is required.

On Saturday 23rd January, up to 20,000 people demonstrated against Stephen Harper’s prorogation of Parliament. Protests spanned the country, from Halifax to Victoria, with crowds numbering 3,500 on Parliament Hill, between 3,000 and 5,000 in Toronto, and over 1,000 in Vancouver. Who would have thought that an issue of arcane parliamentary procedure could bring so many out on the streets? These protests are merely symptomatic of a growing dissatisfaction in society. The question is, who will be able to give voice to this discontent?

In a move that would put Dr. Seuss’ Grinch to shame, the Ontario government gave Ontario workers a nasty surprise for the Christmas holidays—the renewed threat of mass privatization of public services across the province. When Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals were first elected in 2003, McGuinty promised that the bad old days of attacks and privatization that characterized Mike Harris’ “Common Sense Revolution” were finally over.

December 1, 2009 at Langara college in Vancouver Fightback, the Canadian supporters of the International Marxist Tendency organized a discussion on the workers struggle in Iraq. Akram Nadir, international representative of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq spoke for about half an hour about the situation facing workers in Iraq and internationally.

Fightback has long warned that the right-ward drift of the NDP leadership in BC [British Columbia] would hurt the party in the polls. The argument is often made that in order to win over “middle of the road voters,” you have to moderate your demands and program. In fact, history has proven that this moderation only leads to disaster. What is needed is a strong socialist program to inspire the mass of the population.

For 30 years the NDP (the Canadian Labour Party) has been swinging to the right. If this process were to continue it would put at risk the very position of the party as the expression of the Canadian working class. Now, as the effects of the world crisis are weighing heavily on Canadian society, within the NDP there is an attempt to take the party back to the values it was originally built on.

We are entering a new period where an economic recovery will actually bring more attacks on workers, and this will have a transformative effect on the working class movement and their organizations, specifically the trade unions and their labour parties. The old leaderships with their old ideas who tried to reach conciliation with the bosses will need to be replaced. Workers will need to push for a new leadership that is willing to fight and get them real tangible gains in their struggles. In Ontario, we are already seeing the beginnings of this in the labour movement.

This summer, the Marxists in Quebec launched their French paper, La Riposte. La Riposte is a paper that speaks for all sections of the working class in Quebec; the International Marxist Tendency is proud to announce the launch of this new website, www.marxiste.qc.ca, and we wish the comrades every success in their struggle for a socialist Quebec, a socialist Canada, and a socialist world. Read here a statement of La Riposte (Quebec) editorial board.

The weather wasn't the only thing that was hot this summer. A series of confrontations between workers and the bosses this summer showed that despite the fact that many workers are fearing for their jobs and their livelihoods, they would not idly sit back while the bosses, the banks, and the government attempted to attack workers' living standards.

The 2009 Federal Convention of the New Democratic Party of Canada was held in Halifax recently. Normally, the party uses federal conventions to showcase its strengths. At the 2006 Convention in Quebec City, the party took a stand against the war in Afghanistan and passed its “troops out” policy. However, the convention in Halifax was markedly different in both form and content. There was not even the remotest mention of any policy that could be considered a new plank for the party’s platform.

The effects of the economic crisis have hit Canadian workers hard over the last year. Going into this summer's federal NDP convention, the NDP needs to stand up for workers and not enter into any more coaltions with the bosses' parties.

Fightback and IMT activists have participated in numerous demonstrations and events in solidarity with the Iranian Revolution in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. In Toronto, Fightback organized a very successful panel discussion the beginning of the Iranian Revolution.

Canada has stood almost alone on the international stage, going so far as to say that Zelaya should not return back to Honduras. This should not come as a huge shock for Canadians as the Canadian state has been pursuing an increasingly interventionist role in Latin American affairs for a while now.

On 5th June 2009 the Quebec Marxists launched a new publication, La Riposte (the Fightback). The launch of La Riposte is of extreme significance for the work of the Marxists in Québec. By having a French paper, the Marxists are able to diffuse their ideas to the broadest layers of the overwhelmingly francophone working class and youth.

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