Canada

Canada has another minority government. Both the Conservatives and the union-supported New Democratic Party increased their support at the expense of the Liberals. However, none of the parties were able to give any answer to the current financial crisis. Faced with a lack of real solutions, workers stayed home in historic numbers with only 59% coming out to vote. The polarization in the electorate is an indicator of increased class struggle as the world heads into economic turmoil.

The International Marxist Tendency in Quebec has released the following statement on the federal election. "It’s time to break with the parties of the bosses, in French and in English. Whether at the provincial or federal levels, we have to rise above national differences, refuse to be divided, and insist on a single, united socialist movement across Québec and Canada. Only a united, internationalist movement can overthrow capitalism and lay the basis for a truly free, socialist Québec."

October 14th will be Canada’s 3rd election in just four years. After an entire year of speculation that the government could fall at any minute, it was Stephen Harper who broke his own fixed election date promise and pulled the plug. We are facing harder and harder times but do any of the parties have a solution to the problems workers face?

For a week now, Montreal has been boiling with rage. The unprovoked murder of 18-year-old Freddy Villanueva, by agents of the Montreal Police Service, catalyzed an explosion that has been building for years. Police attacks on peaceful demonstrators sparked a riot.

Workers in British Columbia have seen their pulp, paper, and lumber mills closing at an alarming rate, leaving thousands jobless and facing an uncertain future. Whole communities have been devastated as large forestry companies such as Interfor and Canfor pull out operations and ship jobs overseas where labour is cheaper.

Two weeks after a new contract in which GM bosses promised no more layoffs and no more plant closures until 2011, in exchange for a wage freeze and other concessions, they have now announced closure! The profit motive is stronger than any rotten deal the union tops can broker with the bosses and they are prepared to break the law to do so. Workers will be drawing some bitter lessons from this experience.

Yesterday, the Canadian Auto Workers local 222 held a solidarity rally outside the gates of the Oshawa GM truck plant. There was a real sense of anger amongst the workers present, most of whom were from union families, but this was not the normal crowd that attends demonstrations. These are people who either directly or indirectly will be hit hard by the lay offs.

The mood of the workers was very militant and it is quite clear that they are willing to remain on the picket lines for as long as it takes to win. Terry McDonald, a member of the Oshawa Local's bargaining committee, told Fightback, "We're right. We're going to stay as long as it takes for them to realise that."

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.
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