Canada

One year after the passing of their leading comrade Camilo Cahis, Canadian supporters of the International Marxist Tendency gathered for their 16th annual congress. Facing such a blow, it would have been understandable for the group to stagnate or even decline. However, the exact opposite happened. In the face of adversity, the Marxists fighting the Canadian State did not just hold their ground but advanced impressively. The group grew to over 100 activists, increased their impact on a number of campuses, began to develop work in the unions, and have ...

The Quebec solidaire congress held on the weekend of May 28-29th marked the 10 year anniversary for the left-wing party in Quebec. After decades of domination by the Liberals and the Parti Quebecois (PQ), the founding of Quebec solidaire (QS) in 2006 generated a lot of enthusiasm as youth and workers were excited to break the hegemony of the two main bourgeois parties. But what is the balance sheet of these developments and how do we move forward?

The hypocrisy of the rich has never been more glaring since the release of the Panama Papers. While the rest of the world is reeling about the scandal, we cannot forget Canada's own tax haven. Canada is not immune to the scandalous use of tax havens among the rich and famous. At least 350 wealthy Canadians listed in the documents have been implicated in the shadowy practices of tax dodging. This has proven what many Canadians already knew: that there is one set of rules for the rich, and another more punishing set of rules for everyone else.

Fightbackis launching a campaign to hire its fourth full-time organizer. Our aim is to unite revolutionary youth in the struggle for free education, student-worker solidarity, and for a socialist alternative to austerity. This initiative comes after important successes over the past several years, including the hiring of our first full-time organizer in Quebec and the opening of our first office in Toronto.

Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair suffered an historic defeat as 52% of the 1800 delegates who attended the April 8-10 convention voted for a new leadership. It is the first time any major party leader in Canada failed to win the confidence of the membership in a leadership vote and actually lost a leadership review. As the CBC pointed out, “To put this into context the last time a major federal party leader lost a leadership review was Joe Clark in 1983. Joe Clark got 67 per cent support.” This is a solid defeat for the bureaucracy, visited upon them by a rank-and-file revolt against the failed rightward turn of the party.

As delegates gather for the 2016 Federal NDP Convention in Edmonton, everybody is discussing whether party leader Tom Mulcair will survive a leadership review. As important as this question is, what is far more important is what direction the party as a whole takes in the coming years.

On Saturday, February 27th, members of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party elected a new leader. Standing MLA and favourite Dave Wilson and MLA Lenore Zann were defeated by Gary Burrill. Burrill ran a left-wing, anti-austerity campaign which echoed with party members.

American politics has been fundamentally transformed. For decades, anyone who would have described themselves as a “socialist” would have been viewed as some sort of extra-terrestrial. Today, Bernie Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist” draws massive crowds and is posing a threat to Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic Party nomination for upcoming presidential election this fall.

On January 20, the Bank of Canada downgraded its 2016 growth forecast for Canada from an already meagre 2 per cent to 1.4 per cent. “Highly uncertain” were the words chosen by the usually optimistic bank to describe the economic environment.

The decade long rule of the Harper regime has come to an end. The Trudeau Liberals have formed a majority government, sweeping through eastern Canada and making large advances in Quebec and Ontario. Many Canadians heaved a sigh of relief as the election results came in. The perception is that the days of Harper’s right-wing reactionary policies are at an end.

On Wednesday December 9th, over 400,000 public sector workers organized in the Common Front staged a massive 24-hour strike. All over the province, public buildings were shut down by picketers and mass demonstrations were held. Jacques Letourneau, the president of the CSN called this the biggest public sector strike since the revolutionary general strike of 1972. He stated that “There were 210,000 on strike at the same time then and today there are more than 400,000.” The working class is flexing its muscles in Quebec, posing a real challenge to the austerity agenda of the Couillard government.

Canadians have voted for change and rejected the austerity of the Harper Conservatives. After a decade in office and a historically long campaign, the Conservative era of cuts and division is over. However, Canada’s labour party, the New Democrats, did not capitalize on this anti-austerity mood.

Millions of workers and youth are looking for a way to overthrow the Harper Conservatives. After almost 10 years in power, the Tories are being dragged down by corruption, secrecy, vindictiveness and now they are presiding over a new recession. The key question is: how can we get rid of this capitalist government?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has reacted with deafening silence to the release of the summary report and findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) on June 2, which called the Indian residential school system an act of “cultural genocide.” Appearing at a closing ceremony in Rideau Hall, Harper did not utter a word about the commission or its 94 recommendations, and since then has only continued to distance himself from the report. His indifference to the catastrophic impact of residential schools reflects the real priorities of the federal government and its continued unwillingness to address the suffering of indigenous peoples.

The momentum and élan that was built up amongst students and organized workers for a showdown with the Liberal government heading into the spring of 2015 in Quebec has dissipated. Workers and youth who were excited with the possibility of fighting back will have to wait until the fall. A feeling of disappointment hangs in the air as everyone is asking “what happened to the Quebecois spring?”