Capitalism

A Letter to Ralph Eichler, MLA for Lakeside

Dear Ralph Eichler,

Congratulations on your re-election as MLA for Lakeside.

At approximately 7:30 PM on September 18, 2019, I received a distressing phone call. The call was from my vocational counselor at Interlake Employment Services. (Her office is beside yours in Stonewall.)

Due to draconian budget cuts imposed by the Progressive Conservative regime in Manitoba, led by the multimillionaire, Costa Rican-wannabe Brian Pallister, a regime you support and participate in, my vocational counselor and many others at Interlake Employment Services are being laid-off.

What does this mean?

It means that dozens of individuals with disabilities like me will lose the support we need to find and maintain meaningful employment. Many of us will likely lose our jobs without this support.

This cut comes after the Pallister regime has not only cut Rent Assist and funding for social-housing but has sold-off 1000 units of publicly-owned housing while maintaining one of the lowest minimum wages in all of Canada.

As a ‘Progressive’ Conservative, Mr. Eichler, please tell me — is this your idea of progress?

If this is your idea of ‘progress’ then shame on you.

The Politics of Fear

The same message is clear everywhere you look: be afraid, be very, very afraid. Whether it is about terrorism, jobs, or who to vote for, fear is a powerful weapon, economically and politically, in the hands of the ruling class. Fear is divisive, it is incapacitating, and ultimately immobilizes the working class and everyone struggling for social change.

The power of fear is that it shuts down. It shuts down debate, it shuts down dialogue, it shuts down meaningful action. Whether or not the fear is rational is largely irrelevant. Many people fear many things with very little, if any, rational explanation for the fear. According to a public survey, Iran was ranked as the biggest threat to world peace in the U.S. and Canada. Why? Iran hasn’t attacked another country since 1798. On the flip side, Iran has been attacked on many occasions by the U.S.-NATO alliance. The U.S. and Britain overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953 on behalf of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, BP’s predecessor, ushering in a reign of terror by a brutal monarch. The U.S. supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons to attack the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War, the very same weapons the U.S. illegally occupied and destroyed Iraq for allegedly possessing. In 1988, the U.S. Navy shot down a civilian airliner, Iran Air flight 655, killing all 290 people on board, while the plane was over Iranian territory, in Iranian airspace, traveling the plane’s standard flight path. There is no basis to any claim that Iran is a threat to world peace, but there is overwhelming evidence the U.S. and its allies are. (more…)

Facebook Is Collaborating With the Israeli Government to Determine What Should Be Censored

Last week a major censorship controversy erupted when Facebook began deleting all posts containing the iconic photograph of the Vietnamese “Napalm Girl” on the ground that it violated the company’s ban on “child nudity.” Facebook even deleted a post from the prime minister of Norway, who posted the photograph in protest of the censorship. As outrage spread, Facebook ultimately reversed itself — acknowledging “the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time” — but this episode illustrated many of the dangers I’ve previously highlighted in having private tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google become the arbiters of what we can and cannot see.

Having just resolved that censorship effort, Facebook seems to be vigorously courting another. The Associated Press reports today from Jerusalem that “the Israeli government and Facebook have agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network.” These meetings are taking place “as the government pushes ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence.” In other words, Israel is about to legislatively force Facebook to censor content deemed by Israeli officials to be improper, and Facebook appears eager to appease those threats by working directly with the Israeli government to determine what content should be censored. (more…)

The Permanent War Economy and Deindustrialization

(Image: Detroit, Michigan, the former centre of America’s auto industry. Source)

Politicians of all political stripes like to dress inflated military budgets, and the wicked arms deals that frequently accompany them, in terms of “job creation.” Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, arguing against any reduction in military funding, claimed that any decrease “would result in job cuts that would add potentially 1 (percentage point) to the national unemployment rate.”[1] Here in Canada, both Stephen Harper and his Liberal counterpart Justin Trudeau have justified the $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the largest such deal in Canadian history, as a means of creating jobs. “The fact is that there are jobs in London relying on this” deal, Trudeau said [2].

A closer examination will reveal something different. By not producing a life-serving product, i.e., an article used for either consumption or for further production, military spending is not only the worst of available choices for job creation, it contributes to industrial and infrastructure decay. (more…)

Standing Strong Against Big Oil

For months, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota has been protesting the construction of a $3.8 billion oil pipeline that would cut through four US states. By early September, the protests reached unprecedented size, as hundreds of environmental activists joined the local community of about 8,000. This is the largest gathering of Native Americans in over a century, with over 90 tribes represented at Cannon Ball, North Dakota, just south of Bismarck, the state capital.

The Native tribes and environmentalists say the pipeline would disrupt a sacred burial ground, as well as threaten water quality in the area. They say that the Army Corps of Engineers should never have granted permits for its construction.

The pipeline would carry crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation to Illinois. Its supporters claim it will be spill-proof, and that its construction will generate thousands of jobs. Critics respond that any leak would poison the Missouri River, which borders the entire western edge of the Standing Rock reservation.

The protests led to the arrest of the Standing Rock Sioux tribal chair Dave Archambault, among others. Work was eventually halted, pending a Sept. 9 ruling by a judge who has heard arguments against the construction. (more…)

The Liberals are Masters of Misdirection

Last Tuesday, the Liberals shut down an NDP effort to review Canada’s role in the arms trade. On Wednesday, they invoked closure to ram through a bill moving Air Canada workers’ jobs offshore. On Thursday we learned they dropped a court case to require the Catholic Church to fulfill obligations to First Nations Canadians under the residential schools settlement.

In just three days, Canadians who’ve paid attention have seen the ultra-progressive, super-feminist, pro-worker and pro-reconciliation Justin Trudeau revealed – as a sham.

But many Canadians have been distracted. Trudeau amazed with quantum computers. He smouldered at a boxing photo op. And he wears wonderful coloured socks and GQ-style vested suits.

Magicians call it “misdirection” – a deception that focuses the audience’s attention on one hand to distract attention from the other. With one hand, Trudeau bedazzles. With the other, Liberals maintain the Conservative status quo.

They’ve kept the status quo on weaponized vehicles for the Saudis. Now our super-feminist, super-pacifist Prime Minister is selling arms to one of the most anti-woman, anti-democratic regimes in the world.

They maintain the status quo on Bill C-51, which takes away our Canadian freedoms. No amendments have been tabled. No public consultations hosted.

It’s the status quo on the Trans Pacific Partnership – which Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls the “worst trade deal ever.” The Liberals signed the deal and are downplaying it, working to lower the temperature and ratify it through without commotion.

The Liberals have kept the status quo on health care cuts. Harper unilaterally cut health transfers to the provinces. Trudeau’s budget actually cut health care transfers even more deeply.

The Liberals are maintaining the status quo on climate action. The deal signed Friday commits Canada to nothing more than Harper’s old climate change plan.

Fortunately, Albertans wisely elected a new Premier. Through work with First Nations, environment groups and business, Premier Notley adopted a climate change plan to save our country’s reputation. Trudeau rides Alberta’s coat-tails, nothing more.

It’s status quo on childcare. Trudeau (with self-described progressive Premier Wynne sniping from the sidelines) repeatedly attacked an NDP plan to create 100,000 new childcare spaces this year alone. What kind of feminist does that?

Again, it’s status quo on pharmacare. Questioned about it 10 days ago, Minister Philpott said the status quo is fine because “there are public drug plans… for people who can’t afford medication.” So, expect nothing.

It’s status quo on stock option tax deductions. Trudeau broke his promise to end Harper’s law that allows corporate executives to pay tax on only half their stock option income.

It’s more status quo tax cuts — the ones they told you would help the middle class. But the Parliamentary Budget Office and Finance Canada now say the biggest benefit from Trudeau’s tax cut goes to a person earning $200,000. If you earn $45,000 or less, you get nothing. And our social programs lose $4 billion a year.

The status quo isn’t working for jobs, climate, incomes or social services. It’s especially tough on working class Canadians from manufacturing towns, expensive big cities and resource economies – people struggling to make ends meet each month. Even middle class people feel the insecurity.

Canadians wanted a new deal. They aren’t going to get it.

What we are getting is a change in style. Harper’s brooding is gone – replaced by Trudeau’s sunny ways that misdirect us from what Liberals do in the shadows.

Source: http://www.torontosun.com/2016/04/22/the-liberals-are-masters-of-misdirection?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=recommend-button&utm_campaign=The+Liberals+are+masters+of+misdirection

Canada’s $15 Billion Saudi Arms Deal: What History Tells Us

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is a “matter of principle” that Canada follows through with a $15 billion armaments deal with Saudi Arabia, a totalitarian state which funds international terrorism, stones women to death for the crime of being raped, and that leads the world in public beheadings. This decision has been sharply criticized by journalists, activists, and international organizations. In a public statement Amnesty International said that it has “good reason to fear that light armored vehicles supplied” to Saudi Arabia by Canada “are likely to be used in situations that would violate human rights” in both “neighboring countries” and for ‘suppressing demonstrations and unrest within Saudi Arabia.” Montreal students and a former Bloc Quebecois MP and law professor have filed a class action lawsuit to block the deal, citing that by selling weapons to countries with poor human rights records Canada is violating its own laws.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, in response to criticism about how these weapons will be used, replied that Canada has undertaken similar deals with Saudi Arabia, and that country “has not misused the equipment to violate human rights” according to the government’s “best, and regularly updated, information.” This is an outright lie.

In 2011 more than a hundred thousand protestors participated in an uprising against the undemocratic monarchy in Bahrain, calling for “political reforms, right of political participation, respect for human rights, stopping of systematic discrimination against Shias.” The regime responded by banning all demonstrations, caging villages in barbed wire, firing live ammunition at doctors that tried to help injured protestors in hospitals, torturing some protestors to death in police custody, and calling in the military of Saudi Arabia. 1, 000 Saudi troops crossed into Bahrain in armored vehicles not unlike those sold to Saudi Arabia by Canada throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The Canadian government has neither confirmed nor denied that Canadian armored vehicles were used to suppress pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain.

In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been at war with the country’s Houthi rebels, the U.N. has accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes. The Saudi-led coalition’s war against the poorest Arab country has caused the deaths of more than 8, 000, displaced millions, and destroyed nearly all of the country’s schools, hospitals, and historical heritage. Hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of starvation due to the violence and the Saudi-led coalition’s naval blockade in a bid to starve the country into submission. Based on photos of Saudi ground forces in Yemen, the armored vehicles being used by the Saudi military bore a striking resemblance to those manufactured in Canada, while a retired Canadian general, speaking anonymously to the Globe and Mail, identified the armored vehicles as having been manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, the same company manufacturing the armaments in the latest $15 billion deal.

An arms deal with Saudi Arabia raises serious questions about the role of Canada in the international community. Critics of the deal have said that if Canada follows through with selling arms to Saudi Arabia “we can kiss Canada’s human rights credibility goodbye.” But such criticism presupposes that Canada has a credible human rights record. “Canada,” writes BJ Siekierski, “hasn’t suddenly been transformed from Boy Scout to arms merchant.” The history of Canada, both domestically and internationally, isn’t a history of a country dedicated to the defense of democracy and human rights, it is a history of an imperialist state built on the theft of Aboriginal land that faithfully serves as a junior partner to U.S. imperialism’s war of exploitation and subjugation of the world.

Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, was an ally of the most racist section of the elite of that time. In the House of Commons he was in favor of a system of legalized racism, claiming Europeans and Chinese were different species, introducing “biological racism as a defining characteristic of Canadianness.” While starving thousands of Aboriginal people to death by withholding food, MacDonald argued that the disenfranchisement of the Chinese people was imperative to protect the “the Aryan character of the future of British America.” Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King wrote in his diary that after meeting Adolf Hitler he believed Hitler “might come to be thought of as one of the saviors of the world.” Trudeau, like his father before him, is an avowed supporter of apartheid regimes. The late Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, “sympathized with the [South African] apartheid regime not the black liberation movement or nascent Canadian solidarity groups,” while one of the first acts of the Justin Trudeau Liberals was to pass a Conservative motion to condemn all Canadians who exercise their democratic right to support the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement as a form of resistance to Israeli apartheid.

Let us not forget the ongoing genocide of Aboriginal people in Canada. For more than a century Aboriginal children were taken away, sometimes at gunpoint and in handcuffs, to be shipped off to residential schools, where they were to learn how to “assimilate” and become “civilized” through a system for forced labour and re-education. The “Residential Schools were predicated on the notion that Indigenous children were less human than other children, so they were worked like animals in the slave labour many schools mandated.” Thousands of children died from malnourishment, disease, physical and sexual abuse, with many buried in unmarked graves near the site of the schools. To this day Aboriginal people are more likely to be born into poverty, are less likely to graduate from high school, and have a shorter life expectancy than non-Aboriginal people.

Internationally Canadian foreign policy has been reflective of the country’s imperialist system of exploitation. Canada was among the 14 imperialist states that invaded the Soviet Union in 1918 in an effort to bolster the forces of the anti-Bolshevik White Army and stop the Russian working class from establishing socialist government. More recently the Canadian military has been involved in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Mali, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. In Somalia, where Canadian troops were participating in the U.N. mission, Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ tortured and murdered a 16-year-old boy. In a sociopathic ritual that has repeatedly been documented wherever Western forces are active, these Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ photographed themselves with boy’s bloodied corpse like he was a trophy kill. In Libya, a country that prior to the NATO-led intervention had the highest standard of living in Africa, the Canadian military supported al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorists that ransacked the country’s wealth, brutally murdering the country’s former leader Muammar al-Gaddafi by sodomizing him with a bayonet.

Nine years before Canada’s invasion of the Soviet Union trains “loaded not only with supplies, rifles, and ammunition, but also with machine guns and light artillery pieces” were dispatched to Cape Breton in preparation for the military occupation of the island, where miners and steelworkers were striking for improved working conditions and higher wages. Such violence and disdain for the working class has been repeated throughout Canadian history. During the “Hungry Thirties,” striking miners in Estevan, Saskatchewan were murdered in cold blood by the RCMP, while the unemployed were rounded up and sent to labour in slave-like conditions in relief camps.

The deal to sell armaments to Saudi Arabia must be opposed on all moral and political grounds, but to be able to effectively oppose such a deal, the deal must be put into the historical context of Canada’s role as a junior partner of U.S.-led imperialism.

Ontario gets $0.75 for every $1 million in Diamonds mined by De Beers

We found out yesterday that De Beers paid only $226 in royalties to the Ontario government for the company’s diamond mining operation in the province, thanks to an investigation by CBC’s Rita Celli.

The reason that Celli had to do an investigation to find that number is because the royalties collected from Ontario’s only diamond mine has been a closely guarded secret, by the government and the company.

But just how much did De Beers make from the Victor Mine?

The mining company annually extracts 714,000 carats of diamonds at $419 per carat, according to De Beers Operating and Financial Review for 2008, a figure that is confirmed by the Ontario Geological Survey.

As the average price of diamonds has remained mostly stable between 2006 and now, we can estimate that De Beers Canada extracts $300 million worth of diamonds every year.

In other words, De Beers is paying the province royalties at the rate of 75 cents per million dollars of diamonds extracted.

What is happening in Ontario is not unique to that province.

In British Columbia, Premier Clark’s government is selling water to Nestle at $2.25 per million litres. Nestle’s bottled water retails for around $1.50 per 500ml.

In Alberta, a royalty miscalculation by the Progressive Conservatives robbed Albertans of $13.5 billion in oil and gas revenues, according to a study by University of Alberta.

“According to Natural Resources Canada, mining companies generated over $93.3 billion in gross revenue in Ontario over the last 10 years,” the advocacy group MiningWatch Canada wrote in a letter to the Auditor General for Ontario. “During the same period, a meagre 1.5% was generated in mining royalties – 10 times less than a tip at a restaurant!”

In the case of diamonds, the government of Ontario seems to be collecting an infinitesimal fraction of one percent.

“Low mining royalties are unacceptable, particularly considering that companies are digging up collectively owned non-renewable resources, which will no longer be available for future generations,” the group pointed out.

Source: https://thinkpol.ca/2015/05/14/ontarians-get-only-75c-for-every-million-dollars-de-beers-makes-mining-diamonds-in-ontario/

Image Source: Same as source

The Manitoba Election

I’m running as the Communist Party candidate in the Burrows riding in Winnipeg, MB this election.

_____

A Political Message from Manitoba’s Communist Party

The notable lack of enthusiasm for the main parties in the Manitoba election is best explained by looking at the federal scene, where the federal Tory vote held firm (eg, in rural Manitoba) and where the mood for change boosted the anti-Tory vote, notably in Winnipeg which went Liberal.

The federal election is a study of contrasts.

In the Manitoba election there is the spark of energy in the Communist Party’s campaign, yet most people are still voting for the devil they know or for the less evil devil, the only choice capitalist parties can offer, and that includes the NDP.

The Manitoba NDP can’t escape the fact that its federal counterpart bombed in the federal election. The federal NDP bombed because it bows down to the same corporate establishment who were behind the Harper Tories.

This is not lost on working people in Manitoba who are struggling to keep a roof over their head and grapple with which party will help them the most.

Compared to the ‘sunny way’ Liberals, the federal NDP was closer to Harper on fiscal policy (balanced budgets, meaning more cuts), the $200 billion F-35 warplane purchase, the Saudi arms deal, bombing Syria, hiring 5,000 new RCMP officers and so on.

These were and are the priorities of the federal NDP.

As Marxists, the Communist Party understands perfectly well that the federal NDP and Liberals both are in the pockets of Canada’s big business establishment on matters like free trade agreements (except recently the TPP), tar sands development, propping up Ukraine’s fascist regime, sending troops to confront Russia, etc.

The Communist Party understands that the federal Liberal campaign was a giant deception from start to finish, and Aboriginal peoples, women, youth and especially workers can expect nothing but grief for the next four years from Ottawa.

Unless they unite and fight, they will lose and fall behind even more.

* * * *

In Manitoba, the NDP has merely imposed a different set of neo-liberal capitalist policies, like:

  • a two year wage freeze in the public sector (attacking the public sector ideologically, softening it up for privatization),
  • balancing budgets in most years (ignoring the fact it is not the size of government, but which class government supports that matters),
  • raising the sales tax (a policy birthed and advanced by Manitoba’s big business establishment), and
  • supporting a Winnipeg mayoral campaign in 2014 based on the idea that workers wanted to pay higher property taxes.

There are more reasons why seventeen years of NDP governance has led to acute and dangerous levels of impoverishment and a general worsening of the condition of all sections of the working class, which is on the edge of a precipice waiting for the next earthquake in the capitalist system.

This has much to do with the inability of any capitalist government to alter the system’s general laws of development, reflected in problems like enormous personal and home debt burdens.

In fact, the 2008 recession which hit Manitoba very hard is only the tremor before the earthquake.

* * * *

But it must be said, a pro-peoples’ government in Manitoba could have built a far bigger life raft, it could have reduced poverty, created fair taxes, built more access to education, fought racism, addressed the child apprehension crisis with resources for families, and mobilized against war, rather than put a sign ‘support the troops’ on the front of the Legislature.

Never has a reduction in the work week hurt capitalism, never has a big hike in the minimum wage hurt the economy and home market.

The Communist Party is not campaigning to save capitalism, but we are campaigning for the working class, with policies that will improve their conditions and soften the blows of the catastrophes that lie ahead.

All the big parties are campaigning on policy planks that will take Manitoba over a very high cliff.

All the main parties in this election are campaigning to annoint themselves with more neoliberal oil.

A day after the election was called in Manitoba, former NDP premier Gary Doer was appointed to the boards of two of western Canada’s largest financial groups, based in Winnipeg: Great West Life and Investor’s Group, after explaining he had a cozy relationship with them when he was premier.

There is nothing but silence from the NDP about this picture.

* * * *

When the inevitable large economic crash comes (and it is coming!), we will need strong forces to fight for working people and the oppressed.

It is time to build and vote for a working class party with the goal of socialism, a party that has never betrayed its class and has developed ideas and struggles that have led to major achievements for the working class: the Communist Party of Canada.

It is time to strengthen and brace the diverse peoples’ movements in their entirety, especially trade unions and Aboriginal rights movements who each contribute or can aid the overall struggle like no other.

They are strategic and essential.

It is time to head off the impending corporate destruction of Manitoba.

In this election, help or send a contribution to the Communist Party of Canada – Manitoba.

In this election, vote Communist.

Darrell Rankin, Leader, Communist Party of Canada – Manitoba.

PS Send a contribution today; we need to pay for our leaflet and we need bus tickets to campaign! Any amount will help.

Authorized by the CFO, CPC-MB

Source: http://communist-party.ca/manitoba-sunny-ways