Canada

Education for all is increasingly becoming a pipe dream. Right-wing governments cut their funding and pass the burden on to students. Working class youth face two choices: skip university and take a series of low-paid retail jobs, or attend and get so far in debt that after graduation your net pay is not far above minimum wage. Those who are mis-educated to believe that they are “middle class” are in fact just as poor as everybody else; debt serves as the great leveller.

The Softwood lumber dispute stands to decimate one of Canada's largest industries. It will have a major impact on British Columbia in particular, where over 100,000 people are employed in the lumber industry. Softwood lumber makes up more than half of the provinces exports. Thousands of jobs nationwide will be lost. The Canadian economy is completely dependent on trade with the US; 85% of Canada's trade is directly with its larger neighbour to the south. As devastating as this is to Canadians, the softwood lumber dispute is just a small example of protectionist measures being put in place around the world. The threat of a global trade war is growing. This would destroy any possibility

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On February 23, 2002 an estimated fifty thousand people gathered on the lawn of the British Columbian Legislature to express their opposition to the right-wing BC Liberals. The Liberals have been consistently and systematically attacking the working class of British Columbia ever since their election last spring. They soared to victory on a platform that was a pack of lies and now the people of British Columbia are angry. Betrayed by the government, workers are demanding action.

Since day one of the "Klein Revolution" it seemed obvious that eventually something, someone, somewhere, would break. The unions were caught unawares and stood idly by as welfare and unemployment benefits were slashed. Soon public utilities were sold off and threats were levelled against our sacred healthcare. Teachers and nurses bought into "fiscal responsibility" and took pay cuts to help advance the assault against the institutions their unions and associations had fought hard to establish just 40 years ago. Now after ten, or twelve, or fifteen years of Tory rule (how long has it been anyway?), and continuous cuts to education and health, we can see the results of this fiscal

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The Ontario Tories marched into office on a wave of popularity after the victory of the "Common Sense Revolution". Today, it is evident that their common sense was rather short sighted. Their solution to Ontario's problems was privatization and cuts in social spending. They've gone after our education, our water, our health care system, and a lot more. Now, they’re going after our power. The common sense of the PC is in line with that of those who deregulated Alberta and California's power. It didn't take that long for the people of these places to realize the true value of this kind of "common sense".

Since their spring election, the right-wing British Columbia Liberals have been carrying out a class war. With massive cuts to social services, a two-dollar reduction of the minimum wage, and huge tax cuts for the rich, it’s obvious what class this government is working for. At the same time, the economy is in tatters. In the three months prior to September eleventh, there were thirty-nine thousand people laid off in British Columbia and the terrorist attacks have only accelerated the slump. The future looks grim for the working class of British Columbia. This can serve only to radicalize the workers and youth of the province.

The FTAA is coming to Quebec City. It brings with it, the head of every government in North America (except Cuba), 6000 cops (with tear gas and plastic bullets), a 4m high and 4km long "security" fence, a freshly emptied prison for up to 800 political prisoners, and the possibility of the largest youth and worker mobilization since Seattle 1999. Members of Youth For International Socialism will be there in force, putting forward the Marxist solution to Globalization. Over the next few days we will include analysis of the movement plus eyewitness reports from the demonstration itself. The first of these is published here below. Watch this space.

Today, the mass movement of youth united with immense élan to oppose Capitalism and its institutions. As I write this I am yet to see the news reports, so these are my impressions from the street and of those I talked to.

Capitalism is presently in crisis. Western economies have been in slump since March 2001, and despite the wishful thinking of bankers and government politicians the end is nowhere in sight. Everywhere we see layoffs, closures, cutbacks and shortage, and yet only one year ago all the pundits were praising the virtues of the economy. A thinking member of the working class can be left with only one conclusion; the capitalists do not understand their own system.

The recent election in Québec has once again brought to the fore the question of Québec separation. The Parti Québecois and the Liberals espouse their opinions on separation and federalism. Both clearly represent the bourgeois perspective and interests. But who talks about issues facing workers and youth? What are the socialist alternatives to the problems in Québec?

Following in the footsteps of Tony Blair, Labour leader Alexa McDonough has been trying to steer Canada's New Democratic Party to the right.

Tony Blair gets into government and declares he is not for socialism, but for a brand new 'Third Way'. Alexa McDonough tours Europe to discuss with Danish bankers and Blairite enthusiasts and comes back to Canada preaching friendship with Business. In a recent article Alexa calls for "A Third Approach to Change". Workers and youth looking to the NDP to change society want to know exactly what kind of change is proposed and what it means for them.

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