Socialism

An Open Letter to David Anderson, MP for Cypress Hills-Grasslands

Dear David Anderson,

I am writing to express my disgust with your false and outright disgraceful polemic in the House of Commons recently about the death of Fidel Castro and the revolutionary government of Cuba.

I’d like to respond to some of your criticisms of Castro and of the Cuban “communist regime.”

Quoting an unnamed ‘Cuban friend’ of yours you claim that Cuban healthcare, far from being the ‘model of the world’ like that pesky organization called the United Nations says it is, is unable to provide the most basic services. According to this ‘friend’, Cuban hospitals don’t even have any aspirin!

Did it ever occur to you or this ‘friend’ that Cuba’s economic difficulties could be attributed to the U.S. embargo on this small island nation rather than being indicative of the failure of the Cuban social system? U.S. policy towards Cuba has always been to make life as unbearable as possible since the overthrow of Batista, the ‘good dictator’. Does Operation Northwoods or the Bay of Pigs Invasion sound familiar to you? Those operations certainly were in no way intended to benefit the masses of Cuban people. According to a 1997 report by the American Association for World Health, the 54-year-old U.S. embargo “has dramatically harmed the health and nutrition of large numbers of ordinary Cuban citizens,” causing “a significant rise in suffering-and even deaths-in Cuba.” The same reported applauded the Cuban government for averting a “humanitarian catastrophe” by maintaining “a high level of budgetary support for a health care system designed to deliver primary and preventive health care to all of its citizens.” I have included the link here to that report for you to share to your ‘friend’ and for you to read for yourself.

Your ‘friend’ claims that Cuban hospitals lack the most basic medicines and medical supplies, and this you use as evidence of the failure of Cuba’s healthcare system. Yet, despite the Cuban healthcare system’s apparent inability to provide its people with such basic medicines like aspirin, Cuba has managed to achieve a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S, the richest country in the world! Quite an impressive achievement for a country lacking painkillers, wouldn’t you say? A case could be made that if Cuba’s healthcare system is as you and your ‘friend’ describe and it has nevertheless achieved a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., then this is indicative of the failure of the U.S. healthcare system, which by the way your Party and its former leader Stephen Harper enthusiastically support, not the Cuban.

Your criticisms of Cuba’s human rights record and lack of Western-style democracy are about as laughable as yours criticisms of Cuba’s healthcare system. With all do respect, you are far from being qualified to lecture the Cuban government about democracy and human rights! Let me remind you of the democratic and human rights achievements of the former Harper government, which you so dutifully served in as the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Foreign Affairs:

  • First government in the whole Commonwealth to be found in contempt of Parliament.
  • Largest mass arrests in Canadian history.
  • Passed the most repressive security legislation. A Canadian citizen can now be arrested on the mere suspicion of future dangerousness!
  • Your government cozied up to apartheid Israel. Regardless of what you might think of Cuba’s human rights record, in no universe has Cuba committed a fraction of the heinous crimes the Israelis have committed against the whole Palestinian nation. Nobody, not even you with your flawed and distorted logic, can accuse the Cubans of genocide.
  • Your government systematically undermined Indigenous rights, medicare, environmental protection, democratic debate, and the right to collective bargaining.
  • Your government formed a majority government with 38% of the popular vote! On what planet is that a democracy? The Foreign Minister you served couldn’t even provide an answer to a Jordanian reporter that asked how a government could hold all the power with 38% of the popular vote?

With a record like this you are hardly in any position to be criticizing the Cuban political system.

As for Cuba’s human rights, are you aware that at no time under the rule of the man you called a “tyrant,” Fidel Castro, was Cuba’s incarceration rate as high as that in the U.S.? Neither has Cuba, unlike the U.S. and Canada, been bombing other countries back to the stone age and torturing people abroad in U.S.-run torture camps. There wasn’t a war in the world your government didn’t like, and your government aided and abetted the illegal incarceration and torture of one of its own citizens. Finally the United Nations slammed your government for “increasingly serious violations of civil and political rights in Canada.” Among these “violations of civil and political rights” were your government’s refusal to take action on the 1, 200 missing and murdered Aboriginal women, repressive security legislation, and the use CRA audits to shut down charities not in line with your government’s ideology among many other serious violations.

I hope that you do some research and fact-checking next time before you decide to fulminate in the House of Commons.

Best Regards,

T.J.

Communist Party Elects First Woman Leader

For the first time in its 95-year history, the Communist Party of Canada has a woman as its central leader. Liz Rowley was elected to the position by the CPC’s Central Committee, at a meeting in Toronto on the Jan. 30-31 weekend. The change of leadership follows the resignation of Miguel Figueroa, who stepped down for health reasons after serving in this office for 23 years.

Liz Rowley is well-known across Canada for her many years of activity in the Communist Party and in a wide range of people’s movements. Born in British Columbia in 1949, she joined the CPC in 1967. As a student at the University of Alberta, she was the Party’s youngest candidate in the 1972 federal election, speaking out strongly for women’s reproductive rights and an end to the Vietnam War while running in the riding of Edmonton Strathcona.

She has been a Party organizer in Ontario since 1973, apprenticing as a typesetter in Windsor before becoming Provincial Organizer in 1975, International Women’s Year. She has been a member of the Central Executive Committee since 1978. Living in Hamilton during the 1980s, she was deeply involved in many labour struggles to defend jobs, living standards, labour rights, women’s equality, social programs and Canadian sovereignty. While campaigning to ban the Ku Klux Klan, Rowley’s apartment was destroyed by arson. During the year long Stelco strike in 1981 she married a steelworker. She is now the proud mother of two adult children.

Moving to Toronto after being elected as Ontario leader of the Party in 1988, Rowley became a powerful grassroots spokesperson in the “Days of Action” fightback against brutal cutbacks imposed by the Mike Harris Tories, and was elected a Public School Trustee in East York. She has been an outspoken participant in many battles for the rights and interests of working people in Ontario, around such issues as defence of public education, for public auto insurance, the fight against plant closures, for peace and anti-racism, proportional representation, and much more. Along with Miguel Figueroa, she was instrumental in the membership struggle to block attempts to dissolve the CPC during the early 1990s.

Born in Montreal in 1952, Miguel Figueroa joined the CPC in 1977 a national field organizer for National Union of Students. In 1978, he became the party’s Greater Vancouver organizer, and from 1986 to 1992 he was the Party’s Atlantic region leader. Starting in the late 1980s, he and Rowley were key figures in the struggle to save the CPC. At the Party’s 30th Central Convention in December 1992, Figueroa was elected as its new leader. Over the last 23 years, Miguel Figueroa led the Communist Party through the landmark Figueroa case, eight federal election campaigns, and speaking across the country. He was also a prominent figure at the annual International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties, representing the CPC many times.

The 38th Central Convention of the CPC will be held May 21-23 in Toronto. The Convention will feature a tribute to Miguel Figueroa as a highlight of the weekend’s agenda.

Over the coming months, Liz Rowley will meet with CPC members and supporters across the country. She will also speak at a series of public forums and events as party of the CPC’s campaign to block ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the 12-country corporate pact signed by Canada last week in Auckland, New Zealand.

Source: http://communist-party.ca/statement/2031

Cuba Reports Lower Child Mortality Rate than US and Canada

For the sixth year in a row, Cuba has reported success in reducing its child mortality rate, reporting five deaths for every 1,000 births, according to local media Wednesday.

The numbers come from a new report released by the Cuban health department, noting this year’s results of the Mother-Child Program.

The program has proved successful because of the Medical Genetic program, which since 1983 has been revamped and improved, as well as the country’s Immunization program, which distributes 11 different vaccines to children for 13 preventable diseases.

Health officials say this is the sixth year in a row that Cuba has seen under 5 deaths per 1,000 births, a number that ranks lower than both Canada and the United States, say officials.

“This has contributed to the fact that, for several years now, the Caribbean nation exhibits an infant mortality rate below five, lower than the one of developed countries like the United States and Canada,” said the Cuban News Agency Granma.

According to statistics by the World Health Organization in 2013, the United States stood at 5.2 child deaths per 1,000 births and Canada stood at 4.78.

The Cuban Health Ministry also reported that for the fourth year in a row more than 1 million surgeries were performed throughout the country, and some 7,000 Cubans were beneficiaries of complex treatments such as cell therapy in regenerative medicine, orthopedic disorders, angiology, orthopedics and dentistry.

Cuba’s public health care system is focused on preventative medicine and is renowned worldwide for its excellence and efficiency.

Source: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Cuba-Reports-Lower-Child-Mortality-Rate-than-US-and-Canada-20151224-0012.html

Real Existing Capitalism and the Challenge for an Alternative

From People’s Voice

There are times and certain processes in the production of human needs that have become the catalyst for change in society, a change in which the old order of doing things – whether it is ruling, governing, trading, building, creating, destroying, or a myriad of different complexities that steer human development – are incapable of satisfying, or can no longer satisfy, the new social and productive forces in society.

Over time, what once was the exception to the rule becomes the rule, and those that once dominated and steered the functions of society have, because of the development of society, been overtaken by new and more advanced forms of social and economic relations.

Primitive communal societies, slave societies, feudal societies, capitalist societies and socialist societies, and the transition from one type of society to another, have been the constant and turbulent advancement of mankind. Masterful inventions and ingenuities, such as the wheel, the printing press, the steam engine and internal combustion engine, the harnessing of electricity, natural resources and the elements, exploration in the fields of science, mathematics, engineering and computing, all of which and many more have to one degree or another been developed to satisfy our basic human needs, are based upon the stage of development within a given society.

It is very easy to settle into the notion that what is shall for ever be, and that what has gone before must remain as it was, a relic of its time irrelevant to today’s world. But humankind is not a victim of its own self-importance: there has been and continues to be a dynamic relationship between ourselves and the world into which we are born. The time and the age in which one lives is just a chance, a lottery of sporadic consciousness, untamed and uncontrollable.

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No to the Murderous Migration Policies of the EU

Joint Statement of the Communist Party of Greece, Communist Party of Italy, Communist Party of Malta, Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain

At the initiative of the KKE, the Communist Parties of 4 European countries of the Mediterranean, which are receiving the largest waves of refugees and immigrants, denounce the political line of the EU and point to the causes of the problem, as well as the direction of the communists’ struggle on this issue. The joint statement is as follows:

The KKE, CPI, PC Malta, PCPE wish to stress the following regarding the unspeakable tragedy unfolding in our countries’ seas in relation to the refugees and immigrants:

The ongoing tragedy has a “name”: it is the political line of the EU and other countries, like the USA, that is responsible for the wars in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa. This tragedy is rooted in the capitalist system itself, on this terrain we have the manifestation of poverty, the class exploitation and oppression of the working class and peoples by reactionary regimes, the sharpening of the imperialist contradictions, which cause the imperialist wars and interventions.

The imperialist interventions and wars developed in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Mali and other countries of the Middle East and Africa have a deep impact in the people of those countries who are forced to risk their lives by displacing themselves to other areas.

The problem of the waves of immigration cannot be solved without dealing with the causes that create them. The “fences”, Frontex, and the other repressive measures merely increase the number of the dead and the slave traders’ prices.

The governments of the so-called European “South”, “right” and “left”, bear enormous responsibilities because they participate in this crime, they participate in the imperialist plans of NATO and the EU.

We are struggling for relief measures, so that the governments immediately ensure humane temporary reception centres for the refugees as well as the provision of travel documents so that these people can reach the countries that are their real destinations. We must defy the Dublin Regulations and the Schengen Treaty.

In addition, we stress that this issue cannot be dealt with in separation from its causes. Our peoples’ struggle against the imperialist interventions of the EU and NATO, against the rotten capitalist system itself must be strengthened

BC Budget 2015: Government of the Rich, By the Rich, For the Rich

Commentary from the Communist Party of BC

February 17 was Budget Day in British Columbia, and the corporate media dutifully lauded Finance Minister Mike de Jong for bringing in a surplus, plus “a few small tax breaks for families” and so-called “modest increases” for health care and education.

The reality is that working class and low-income British Columbians were hit hard again by Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals, while the wealthy get a major financial boost.

Virtually the only good news is that people on income or disability assistance will finally be able to keep child support payments which until now have been seized by the government. Thanks to a powerful campaign by anti-poverty groups, this vicious clawback is finally gone, resulting in a net benefit to several thousand poor families adding up to $13 million per year.

This amount is dwarfed by the elimination of the temporary personal income tax rate of 16.8 per cent on individuals earning over $150,000, as of next January. That slightly higher tax bracket for the wealthy elite was introduced by Premier Clark two years ago, in an effort to create some political distance from the elitist image of her predecessor, Gordon Campbell. Apparently the rich have now endured sufficient pain; the move to phase out this tax bracket will put an estimated $200 million per year into the bank accounts of the wealthiest 2 percent of the population – more than 17 times the clawback “gift” to the lowest income British Columbians.

Similarly, the budget contains no help for those who need it most – minimum wage earners and those on social or disability assistance, whose rates have been frozen for eight years while the cost of living keeps climbing. The Finance Minister ignored the bi-partisan committee of MLAs who held pre-budget consultations, and unanimously recommended a comprehensive poverty reduction plan, and a review of income assistance rates and the minimum wage.

The Liberals will spend $516 million on tax credits to corporations this fiscal year, compared to just $460 million for the combined total of tax transfers to low-income individuals (the sales tax credit, the early childhood tax benefit, the low income climate action benefit, and the seniors home renovation tax credit).

Following the strategy of the Harper Tories, the BC Liberals are using targetted tax breaks to troll for votes: a one-time training and education savings grant of $1,200 for children born since 2007, an “early childhood” tax benefit of $660 per year for children under six, and a new tax credit for spending on sports equipment, worth just $12.65 per child.

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Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity!

IWD 2015 greetings from the Communist Party of Canada

March 8, International Women’s Day, is a time to celebrate our historic struggles for equality, and to unite around today’s challenges. On IWD 2015, the Communist Party of Canada extends our warm solidarity to all who stand for peace, equality, democracy and social progress.

In September 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing. 30,000 activists held a parallel Forum, while government representatives from 189 countries hammered out the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Despite its shortcomings, the document was amazingly comprehensive, covering women and the environment, economy, education, health, armed conflict, and much more.

The United Nations is highlighting the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration with the slogan “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” Yet women in much of the world seem even further away from empowerment.

In the past two decades, “fighting to defend the rights of women” has become a frequent rationale for direct military intervention. And while the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIL are deeply reactionary, such movements are largely a product of the imperialist drive for resources and profits. Prior to western interventions, the status of women in the secular states of Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq was much better than in Saudi Arabia and other regimes backed by Canada.

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Helping the Wealthy at Your Expense

From NUPGE

A recent study (link is external) by Jonathan Rhys Kesselman, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Public Finance with the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University and who is a fellow at the Broadbent Institute, shows doubling the amount people can contribute to a tax free savings account is Robin Hood in reverse. Poor and middle-income Canadians will pay so the wealthy can get more.

You need $200,000 a year to benefit

According to the study, Double Trouble: The Case Against Expanding Tax-Free Savings Accounts to get a significant benefit from the increase in tax free savings account limits people will need an income of at least $200,000 per year.

It’s not hard to figure out why. Most of us don’t have a lot left over once we’ve paid for things like housing, groceries and a car or bus pass. For what we are able to save, the existing tax deductions for tax free savings accounts and RRSPs are more than enough.

$24.5 billion less for services like health care and education

But while most of us won’t benefit, we will pay for any increase in the tax free savings account limit. It’s estimated that the cost of this tax break will grow to the point where it’s costing $24.5 billion a year — $15.5 billion from the federal government and $9 billion from provincial governments.

One of the biggest myths politicians peddle is that tax cuts for the wealthy don’t cost anything,” said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “We pay a huge price for those tax cuts through things like user fees, longer wait times in hospitals and higher college or university tuition for our children.”

We get more from public services than from tax breaks

While it was beyond the scope of the report, the reality for most families is that we all benefit more from a dollar put into improving public services than a dollar spent on tax breaks. For a household with a median income, the value of the public services they use will be 63 per cent of their income. So when there is a surplus, why not put it into services that make life more affordable for everyone?

Greek Young Communists ‘Combatively Marching for a Socialist Tomorrow’

From Rebel Youth

From the 19th to the 21st of December, the Young Communist League of Canada attended the 11th Congress of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), held under the slogan “Pioneer youth of KKE (Communist Party of Greece), combatively marching for a socialist tomorrow, without crises, wars or exploitation.” It was an occasion to reinforce the ties between our organizations and increase collaboration based on the principles of proletarian internationalism.

Among European countries, Greece is certainly the most ravaged by the current crisis of capitalism. After two memorandums imposed by the Troika (European Union – IMF – World Bank), the unemployment rate totals 60% among youth, and yet, this has not been enough. In 2014, a restructuring plan forced the loss of almost 500 000 jobs in the public sector. Hospitals and schools are closing and the population now relies on help from the Red Cross and other humanitarian associations to provide them with the medical care they need. As for education, with the quality of the public system declining, parents are turning towards private schools, with Greece having the highest enrolment in private schools of any country in the EU.

In these conditions, a new political alignment is developing with the rise of two forces aimed at safeguarding the system.

One is the ultra-right fascist and nazi movement Golden Dawn, which has made dangerous gains in popularity, especially among the popular unorganized masses. Through anti-system rhetoric, Golden Dawn spreads an anti-communist, anti-immigrant, and anti-organization ideology, although it benefits from the support of the biggest oligarchs like the boat construction corporations. Objectively, their main targets are the communists, who they physically attack violently.

The other emerging political force is the opportunist and social-democratic party Syriza. The party uses leftist rhetoric, but the truth is that this formation does not advance the interests of the working class and the popular masses. As a member of the European Left Party, an organization funded by the EU with the aim to liberalize and liquidate European communist parties, it advocates for a ‘better’ or more ‘fair’ integration of Greece within the imperialist EU alliance. Its true role is to replace the traditional social-democratic forces after they became too compromised by their implementation of austerity measures. Social democratic parties across Europe, like the SPD in Germany, PSOE in Spain or the PASOK in Greece have adopted austerity programs.

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