Canada

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?”

The 2015 provincial election in Alberta was truly historic. Not only have the people of Alberta elected the first NDP government in the history of the province, but also the 44-year reign of the provincial Progressive Conservatives has - finally - come to an end. This represents a historic and seismic shift in the history of the province, and marks a new stage in the class struggle both provincially and nationally.

News of the death of comrade Camilo Cahis came as a brutal shock to all who knew him.

These perspectives, authored by our late comrade Camilo Cahis, are featured in a special commemorative edition of Fightback magazine. This will be available at both the funeral for Camilo and the revolutionary celebration of his life and ideas. We believe that the best way to memorialize the life of our dear comrade  is to learn from his ideas and to build the movement of revolutionary Marxism.

The movement has lost a great fighter. Camilo Cahis, succumbed to mental illness on the night of Saturday 25th April, 2015. We, his comrades, are forever in his debt.

Camilo Cahis's last article before his tragic death proved to be his most popular, read by tens of thousands of people. It is even more remarkable in the light of the electoral earthquake which took place in Alberta yesterday reflecting the class contradictions which Camilo explained in his article.

The mandate for the two-week student strike is coming to a close this week, and ASSÉ’s weekend congress will be dominated by debates over the way forward. Much controversy has arisen over the fact that the ASSÉ executive has put forward a proposition to end the strike and wait for possible strike action on the part of the unions in the fall.

On March 21st, thousands of students took to the streets of Montreal to protest austerity. The demonstration was part of the “Spring 2015” anti-austerity movement, organized by various student associations. On Monday March 23rd the student strike was officially kicked off with over 50,000 students commencing strike action which will continue for the next two weeks leading up to a big demonstration on April 2nd. Another 150,000 students will vote for strike actions in the coming days. Many people believe this is the beginning of another “Maple Spring” as was seen during 2012 with hundreds of thousands on the street for several months.

Over 80 people registered to participate in the annual Marxist Winter School on the weekend of February 15-16 in icy Montreal. This year’s school, held at Concordia University, broke the record for the highest attendance in the event’s history, and saw revolutionary activists visiting from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and California.

Prison populations are rapidly increasing, far outstripping the capacity of the provincial and federal prison systems in Canada. The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Corrections revealed that Ontario prisons had reached 98.5% capacity, representing a six-year high. This meant that on any typical day during 2012 about half of Ontario’s 25 prisons were overcrowded (at over 100% capacity).

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