From People’s Voice
A statement on recent developments by the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Canada that I assisted in writing.
Since the terrible events of January 7 and beyond in Paris, politicians and the corporate media in the NATO countries, including Canada, are thundering that “we must all unite” in response to a so‑called “declaration of war” by religious extremist groups. But under the cover of “safeguarding our freedom from terrorism”, the Harper and other Western governments are moving to escalate militarism and aggression abroad, and further erode democratic liberties – especially the right to dissent – at home.
To be clear, the Communist Party of Canada categorically condemns all terrorist acts, whether committed by individuals, movements or imperialist states. As we stated immediately after the 9/11 events, “acts of terrorism undermine the struggle for progressive change; they sideline and neutralize the mass movement, create fear and disorientation in the broad people’s fightback, and provide imperialism and reaction with a powerful pretext to intensify repression.”
That said, the most serious threats to peace and security, and to democratic rights and freedoms, are posed by the policies and actions of Western governments themselves, not by a small number of violent criminals who seek to provoke repression in hopes of winning support for their own narrow fundamentalist agenda.
Working people today are being told to “pick sides” in the confrontation between the major imperialist powers and reactionary religious movements. This false choice ignores the reality that the NATO powers, including Canada, bear the responsibility for creating conditions which encouraged the emergence of fundamentalist groups. In many cases, Western intelligence agencies had a direct hand in their formation. During the 1980s, for example, the United States armed the opponents of Afghanistan’s progressive government, with the geopolitical aim of destabilizing the USSR. The US and other imperialist powers have intervened in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia and many other countries, always seeking to undermine progressive forces and to seize control of oil and other natural resources. Israel, the closest ally of US and Canadian imperialism, has likewise continued to occupy Palestinian lands during this period.
Millions of people have died as a result of these imperialist wars and occupations, and the imposition of western‑backed neoliberal economic and social policies. This has generated enormous resentment among the peoples of these affected countries, with predictable results. It has also fed the growth of dangerous fascist and anti‑immigrant forces across Europe and North America.
We defend the right to free speech, including the right to criticize religious beliefs, but we also note that the contents of Charlie Hebdo often contributed to the deadly growth of bigotry and xenophobia across Europe. The only way out of this downward spiral of hatred and violence is to promote the common action of working people of all national origins and religious beliefs, against the domination and exploitation of the transnational corporations, and to defend national sovereignty.
The fact is that both the imperialist powers and reactionary extremist groups stand for narrow interests which are utterly hostile to working people. The false “clash of civilizations” theory divides and weakens working people, by turning us against each other on the basis of religious outlook or national origin. Instead, the real alternative is to build unity around a genuine people’s agenda and a strategy to roll back austerity, end imperialist wars of occupation, and defend the environment. Rather than killing each other, the working class of all countries needs to join together for full employment, access to health care, education and social programs, a healthy environment, and peaceful economic development.
The Communist Party of Canada urges the labour and people’s movements to defend civil rights and liberties, and to resist the escalating attacks which target Muslims, Arabs, religious minorities, and racialized communities. In particular, we condemn PM Stephen Harper’s plan to introduce new legislation which would allow “pre-emptive arrests” of anyone considered a potential “threat”. This legislation is reminiscent of the War Measures Act, adopted during the First World War to criminalize sections of Canada’s immigrant population as “enemy aliens” and to ban left‑wing and anti-war literature.
The true intention of this and other ’national security’ laws is to stifle free speech and to silence critics of right‑wing policies and governments. Harper’s real strategy is to turn back the clock, to allow governments the authority to crack down on trade unions, indigenous resistance movements, immigrants, environmentalists, defenders of civil rights, political radicals and others who oppose the corporate agenda of “free trade”, neoliberal austerity and militarism.
The Communist Party demands an end to Canada’s participation in the wars of aggression, including in Iraq and Syria, which can only lead to further violence. We urge the labour and democratic movements to condemn the drive by the Harper government (with the support of the other parliamentary parties) to scrap civil liberties, labour rights and other democratic freedoms in the name of waging war against Islam and even against citizens of our own country.
Instead, we demand: Canada out of NATO, and out of Syria and Iraq! Elect a government which will adopt an independent foreign policy of peace and disarmament. Don’t send young Canadians to war – fund job creation and social programs, not militarism. Protect minorities and expand social, civil and labour and democratic rights, at home and abroad. Curb the power of the Canadian and international corporations. Scrap the “free trade deals”, and protect and restore the sovereignty of Canada and all other countries.
In today’s volatile situation, Canadians need to reject attempts to manipulate public opinion through fear, police state surveillance, racism and intimidation. The Communist Party urges all who support peace, civil rights and democratic freedoms to speak out – in the streets, in the social media, and at the ballot box – against the escalating state repression which is trying to stifle our collective resistance. It is not too late, but the time to defend democracy is today!