Canada

The closure of the GM's Oshawa plant announced on June 3rd, with the loss of 2600 jobs, is a slap in the face to auto workers everywhere. The reaction of the workers has been a militant one. Canadian Auto Workers activists blockaded GM headquarters in Oshawa, refusing to let managers in until they sit down and talk with union leaders. At the time of writing, the blockade is still up.

On May 29th approximately 45 people attended a round-table discussion at the Simon Bolivar Cultural Centre in Montreal, Canada, with Celia Hart and Jorge Martin, organized by the International Marxist Tendency on "Permanent Revolution and Trotsky's ideas in Venezuela and Cuba."

On May 28th, close to 200 people attended a very successful conference on Cuba and Venezuela, entitled "Cuba after Fidel, Venezuela at the Crossroads." Hands off Venezuela Montreal and the Bolivarian Society of Quebec, in collaboration with the International Marxist Tendency and Gauche Socialiste, organized the event.

A public round-table discussion on the theory of Permanent Revolution and the ideas of Leon Trotsky, and how these ideas are now shaping the revolution in Venezuela, Cuba, and the rest of Latin America. Leading the discussion will be Celia Hartand Jorge Martin.

About 800 demonstrated in Montreal on May Day, facing a brutal intervention of the police, while on May 3rd the official union rally attracted around 50,000, significantly up on last year's numbers.

14 students at UofT, including Canadian Marxists active with Fightback, have been arrested on false charges for fighting for free education. The charges include assaulting a police officer and forcible confinement, which could lead to serious jail time. The University is trying to crush this movement under repression before it takes off. Solidarity action is needed now!

Canada has one of the highest levels of strikes in any country in the world. It has also experienced several factory occupations over the past year or so. Now its giant neighbour, the USA is in recession. Canada is facing a turbulent period, where all relations, economic, political and social, will be turned upside down.

Last month marked the 100 year anniversary of one of the B.C. labour movement’s darkest moments – the anti-Asian riots of 1907. This mobilization of organized workers against other workers along racial lines highlights the need for a clear understanding of why racism exists and is allowed to exist, the pernicious role it plays under capitalism, and the real road to its abolition.

Miner’s Memorial Day took place this past weekend on Vancouver Island to celebrate the memory of Ginger Goodwin and the struggles of the miners. A good contingent of youth were present to take part in meetings and discussions.

Today the major industrialized country with the highest proportion of working days not worked due to strikes or lockouts is Canada, the only OECD country with a higher rate is crisis-ridden Iceland. The high strike rate in Canada is now leading to further radicalisation as workers in the manufacturing sector begin factory occupations against plant closures. Canadian workers are setting the pace; the world will follow.

The auto industry in North America is in crisis. Over the past 5 years, many plants have been closed and thousands of workers laid off. This process continued recently when Collins & Aikman declared bankruptcy and announced it would close its plant in Scarborough.

Fightback, the website of the Canadian Marxists, has received the following article by the Communist Party of Québec (PCQ) on the recent Québec elections. We are translating it into English because, while we do not agree 100% with all of the formulations, it contains very interesting analysis that should be made available to activists in English Canada and around the world.

Since the betrayal of the Ontario Days of Action in 1996-97, the movement in Ontario has been at one of its lowest levels. This is in contrast to the rest of Canada where most provinces are seeing some of the most militant labour actions since the 1970s. In both British Columbia and Québec, we have seen a burgeoning general strike movement while Newfoundland recently saw the largest strike in the province’s history.

On July 27, 1918 Albert (Ginger) Goodwin stared into the barrel of Dan Campbell's shot gun and in a second, it was all over.  The bullet passed first through Ginger's wrist, then through his neck, killing him with a single shot.  Ginger lay on the forest floor, choking on his own blood.  This was the end of the life of Ginger Goodwin, but the beginning of his legend.  Ginger Goodwin's murder sparked the first general strike in Canadian history and he remains a source of inspiration for revolutionaries and labour activists to this day.

Every year labour activists from across British Columbia descend on the town of Cumberland for Miner's Memorial Day. The annual event is held to commemorate the hundreds of workers who died in Cumberland's coal mines and murdered socialist Ginger Goodwin. Comrades from the International Marxist Tendency are always present for the ceremony, but this year we played a much larger role.

On the evening of Friday June 2nd, Police and Security Forces arrested 17 men in the Greater Toronto Area on terrorism charges. For Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the arrests come at a convenient time when support is slipping for the Canadian intervention in Afghanistan. The corporate media and right-wing politicians are attempting to use the fear of terrorism to erode civil liberties in Canada.

We are publishing a discussion document written by the Fightbackeditorial board. It attempts to outline the dominant trends within the Canadian labour movement to give youth and worker militants a guide to action.

The Campbell government is planning a major offensive on the rights of working people. Over the past five years, each attack of the government has been met with stiff resistance. Each battle has taken on an increasingly militant character. With most public sector contracts ending this month, the stage is set for a decisive battle.
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