Canada

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.

The mood leading up to this weekend’s G20 summit and the protest against it became increasingly tense throughout the week. The police and the state spent plenty of time informing the public of its vast arsenal, troop numbers, facilities, and readiness to defend the fence—itself a graphic symbol of the growing class divide not only here in Canada, but around the world.

On June 2nd, the Ontario Liberal cabinet of Premier Dalton McGunity secretly passed, without any input from parliament and certainly no notice to the working people of Canada, sweeping expansions to the Public Works Act. The changes to the act give police forces sweeping new powers of search and arrest on a totally arbitrary basis. The public learned about these legislative changes only on the eve of the largest protest of the G20 summits. [Note, this article was written Friday 25th June, before the events of Saturday 26th.]

Hundreds of workers, activists, youth, trade unionists, and students gathered this past weekend at Toronto’s Ryerson University to organize “The 2010’s People’s Summit: Building a movement for a just world.” Aside from the scores of workshops, the summit was aimed at organizing the week-long series of events and demonstrations against the G20 summit in the city, culminating with the giant rally at Queen’s Park on 26th June.

After last weekend’s successful intervention at the “People's Summit” in Toronto, the Canadian Marxists of Fightback are preparing for the G20 summit this weekend with a tent at Queen’s Park and a meeting in the evening. If you are in Toronto look us up and come to the meeting.

The leaders of the world’s 20 richest nations are visiting Toronto in June, and they want your money. They want your job, your home, your education, your health care, your public transport, your social services, your pension, and your paycheque. They want to take anything that makes life even halfway bearable. They want all of these things to pay for the mess that they, and their capitalist buddies, created. But, we are not just going to sit and let them.

Canada may be some distance from Greece geographically, but the economic policies being adopted look strikingly similar, with public sector wage freezes, cuts in spending and increased costs of services. And for people in Britain who may be thinking of voting Liberal, take a look at what the Canadian Liberals are doing in Ontario.

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.

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