Canada

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.

The Liberal Party of Canada has finally been kicked out of office. The Conservatives must attempt to lead an even more fractured minority Parliament while there is little support for right-wing policies. The Canadian elite wants a strong majority government to push through attacks on the working class. But the good showing by the union-backed NDP, and the continued presence of the separatist Bloc Québécois, means the Canadian political crisis will continue until the fall of this weak government.

A group of “prominent personalities” in Québec issued a manifesto titled Pour un Québec lucide (in English, For a clear-eyed vision of Québec). Attempting to draw upon Québec’s history and using some of the strongest symbols from its past, it is nothing more than a manifesto of the bourgeoisie for the 21st century. More than that, Pour un Québec lucide is a stark warning to the working class that things are about to change.

Bourgeois Democracy in Canada is facing a crisis of confidence. The fall of the minority Liberal government presents Socialists with a choice. Do we sit out the coming federal election or do we actively participate in the debate? What strategies are necessary for increasing support for socialist ideas? And finally, what position should we take towards the federal New Democratic Party? We are producing here the text of a leaflet, Join the NDP - Fight for socialism, that tries to answer these questions.

Increasingly, Canadian workers are learning about the importance of the Venezuelan Revolution. The Ontario Federation of Labour, which represents over 700,000 workers, unanimously passed a resolution in support of Venezuela at its November 21st – 25th convention. This success is the culmination of several months of organizing activity by Hands Off Venezuela activists in Canada and is an important step forward for the Venezuela solidarity movement.

As the dust settles around the British Columbia teachers' strike there is an uneasy calm hanging over the province. Two facts are immediately apparent - first, neither the government nor the labour movement were decisively defeated; and second, this was only a dress rehearsal for the bigger battle to come in the spring.

On Monday, October 17 tens of thousands of trade unionists brought the capital city of British Columbia to a grinding halt.  Victoria was closed for business as a regional general strike in support of the British Columbia Teachers Federation crippled the city.  The strike culminated in a massive demonstration at the BC legislature.  The comrades of Fightback were there on this historic day.

In a matter of days, all of the contradictions that have been building over the last four years in British Columbia have come to the fore. Gordon Campbell's mis-named Liberals have spent their time in power attacking the working class. This has been met with several waves of unrest. Now this battle is reaching new heights. The province stands on the brink of an all-out general strike.

Yet again, the BC Liberal Government has removed the democratic right of employees to strike.  From the UBC TAs, to the ferry workers and hospital employees, workers’ rights and public programs are coming under constant attack.  Now the Liberals plan to use BC’s teachers as their next layer of cannon fodder.  On October 7, 42 000 public school teachers will illegally walk the line in defence of their right to collectively bargain, to go on strike and to save education for BC’s youth.  Fightback stands together with the striking teachers.

Also see the Picket Line Solidarity Special in PDF format...

In the last five years, gas prices in Canada have soared from about 65-cents per litre to over $1.10.  This price hike hits the working class hardest.  While the right wing are trying to blame taxes for the increase, the majority of Canadians see that corporate super-profits are the real culprit.  In a recent poll, 49% of Canadians (and 67% of Quebecers) support nationalizing the oil industry. 

Management at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is trying to force through a new contract on their employees – a contract eliminating restrictions on the broadcaster's ability to contract out work instead of hiring full-time employees. They have now applied a lock-out and it looks like it is going to a long and bitter struggle.
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