People’s Voice June 16-30, 2017
Volume 25 – Number 11   $1

CONTENTS

1) LIBERALS PREPARE FOR WAR WITH 70% INCREASE IN MILITARY SPENDING

2) A BIG WIN BRINGS NEW CHALLENGES FOR B.C. WORKING PEOPLE

3) 2017 BC ELECTION - BRITISH COLUMBIANS HAVE SPOKEN

4) CANADA 150: WHITEWASHING THE GENOCIDAL HISTORY OF COLONIALISM

5) ONTARIO COMMUNISTS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN: “HOUSING FOR PEOPLE - NOT PROFIT!”

6) NEW HOPE FOR WORKING PEOPLE - Editorial

7) ABOLISH CHILD LABOUR! - Editorial

8) “NEW” DEFENCE POLICY - STILL MADE IN WASHINGTON

9) “A LITTLE CROOKED HOUSE” TRUDEAU, MORNEAU, BMO AND KPMG INC.

10) POWER IS WITHIN SIGHT FOR THE LABOUR PARTY, BUT THE LEFT MUST REMAIN VIGILANT

11) U.S. HEALTH CARE HAS A RELAPSE

12) THE PLOT TO SCAPEGOAT RUSSIA

 

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PEOPLE'S VOICE      June 16-30, 2017 (pdf)

 

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(The following articles are from the June 16-30, 2017, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)

1) LIBERALS PREPARE FOR WAR WITH 70% INCREASE IN MILITARY SPENDING

By  Liz Rowley, leader of the Communist Party of Canada

            Foreign Affairs Minister Christa Freeland, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, and PM Trudeau are working hard to convince Canadians that a 70% increase in military spending is a noble expression of their government’s commitment to Arctic sovereignty and global security. But the truth is much simpler and a lot uglier: the Liberals are preparing to take Canada to war.

            In a reversal of the Liberal promises during the 2015 federal election, the government has adopted Harper’s aggressive foreign policy of war and regime change, and surpassed the vast military expenditures the Tories planned to make - but had to back off from as a result of vocal public opposition.

            What’s new? The arrival of Donald Trump, his demand that Canada and other NATO member states increase military spending to 2% of GDP, and Trudeau’s immediate acquiescence in February while meeting with Angela Merkel in Germany. Merkel also promised to deliver, while both leaders offered cash and soldiers with boots on the ground, to be deployed wherever NATO (read: the US) was inclined to organize the next regime change (read: coup d’état).

            The background to these developments is last year’s announcement that NATO no longer sees itself as a North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but as the world’s policeman with the ability to overthrow governments at will, anywhere in the world.

            Trump, who just last year also campaigned as a ‘peace’ candidate who could get along with Russia and find political solutions in global hotspots like the Middle East, said then that NATO was obsolete.

            Pierre Trudeau, when he was faced with US ultimatums over Vietnam and Cuba, among others, developed a two-track foreign policy which kept Canada out of the Vietnam War and in a friendly relationship with Cuba including trade, tourism, and cultural exchanges. It was far different from the US policy of economic blockade, invasion, chemical and biological warfare, and hundreds of assassination attempts on Fidel Castro.

            Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, has put up no resistance to US demands on foreign policy and military spending, or on trade. In every case, the Liberals have responded with concessions, not only on trade and foreign policy, but on issues affecting the fundamentals of Canadian sovereignty and independence.

            To be sure, the Canadian economy has been shot through with US corporate investment and ownership, and the resulting pervasive influence of US multi-national corporations. But the Liberals' capitulation to US demands to increase military spending by 70% and gear up to become a full partner in the US dirty war machine, is breath-taking.

            It’s also criminal. Overthrowing governments you don’t like is a crime under international law, and under Canadian law too. Terrorist attacks in Canada will increase as Canada is increasingly identified as a terrorist state that is a full partner in illegal US and NATO wars of aggression.

            The government has said nothing about how it will pay for this 70% increase in military spending. But since it has ruled out corporate tax increases to pay for social programs and infrastructure spending, the only other options are (1) to increase taxes on working people such as the regressive HST, property taxes, gas tax, taxes on alcohol and other ‘sin’ taxes, invisible taxes and user fees, such as road tolls, child care fees, etc., and/or (2) to eliminate universal social programs such as Medicare, privatize public services and assets,  privatize education, eliminate supply management system in agriculture, increase the pension age to 67 or 70, introduce right-to-work laws and smash the trade union movement, drive down wages and living standards.

            Sound extreme? Just look south of the border, where a similar agenda is leaving millions of working people unemployed and on the margins, living from hand to mouth, with nothing left but a deep hatred for Wall Street, and (for some), an abiding faith in the billionaire President who said he would fight to restore their jobs and living standards – by making America great again.

            Trump’s prescription for recovery is war: huge profits for the arms industry that backed him, and jobs for life (a short life) for the young unemployed.

            It’s not an agenda the Liberals want to admit to two years before an election, but it’s an agenda that’s already out there in the NAFTA  ‘renegotiations’ and in the NATO deployments and vast increase in military spending.

            Chrystia Freeland’s assertion that this is an expression of Canadian sovereignty and independence is nothing of the sort. It’s a craven collapse to the demands of the Trump administration and US imperialism. Why Freeland? Her grandfather’s Nazi past may make it easier for her to churn out this fictional version of the Canada-US relationship and global politics, while Trudeau may find it more difficult to junk his father’s history as a friend of Cuba and a head of government willing to say no to uncle Sam. His plan to attend the funeral of Fidel Castro - so quickly reversed after public attacks in the media – suggests this PM is not up for a fight, preferring appeasement to a vital political struggle for Canada’s sovereignty and independence from US control.

            What’s the solution here?

            Pretty simple in fact. This is exactly the moment for Canada to withdraw from NATO (and NORAD) and from NAFTA. Instead, the Canadian government should pursue a foreign policy of peace and disarmament, and a trade policy that is multi-national and mutually beneficial. 

            Instead of increasing military spending, we should cut the existing military budget by 75% and use these funds to create good jobs across Canada; build affordable housing and infrastructure; develop a sustainable industrial strategy and expand value-added manufacturing and secondary industry; expand and improve Medicare; introduce a universal, accessible, affordable public childcare system; fund public and post-secondary education and eliminate tuition fees and student debt; increase the minimum wage and pensions; raise wages and living standards; deliver on promises made to Indigenous People for urgent and long-term funding to raise living standards on and off reserve, for just and urgent settlement of land claims, to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to create nation to nation relations within Canada.

            This is the recipe for peace, and for real economic and social recovery for working people in Canada.

            But it won’t come without a fight that the labour and people’s movements must take on now. There is no time to lose.

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2) A BIG WIN BRINGS NEW CHALLENGES FOR B.C. WORKING PEOPLE

Statement by the Communist Party of BC, June 2, 2017

            The May 30 accord between the BC NDP and Green parties has been greeted enthusiastically by people’s movements in British Columbia. This agreement can spell the end of the reactionary Clark Liberal government, and opens the door to potential gains around progressive demands advocated by the labour movement, First Nations, environmentalists, supporters of public education and health care, child care advocates, and many others. Perhaps most significant, the agreement may help to achieve some form of proportional representation in BC, which would boost the struggle for democratic electoral reform on a Canada-wide scale.

            The Communist Party of BC welcomes these developments as a major victory, but one which also brings new challenges for the working class. The CPBC has worked together with other progressive forces for the past 16 years to drive the Liberals under Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark out of office. As our candidates said in the May 9 provincial election, the Liberals have ruled solely on behalf of the big corporations. Their huge tax breaks for the wealthy and big business were imposed as part of a right-wing agenda of deep austerity cuts to social programs, health care and public schools. The resource sector corporations and the big developers took advantage of virtually non-existent electoral financing regulations to pour millions of dollars into the coffers of the BC Liberals, effectively purchasing a provincial government which backed mega-projects aimed at extracting and exporting fossil fuels and other unprocessed raw materials, at the expense of indigenous peoples, the environment, and the jobs of British Columbians.

            These reactionary policies finally cost the Liberals their majority in the Legislature. Under pressure from the nearly 60% of voters who clearly want a change of government, the NDP and Greens have reached a deal to govern a full term in office. Their 10-page accord promises action on many issues - increasing the minimum wage to $15 in stages, reversing cuts to social spending, health and education, action on child care and social housing, increased tax rates for upper income earners, a referendum on PR (which Horgan says will need 50%+1 to pass, not the previous 60% "super-majority"), and much more. While there are some disagreements between the parties, such as the NDP's support for the proposed $10/day child care program, the Greens will not block progress on these issues.

            The accord promises to resist Kinder-Morgan’s Trans-Mountain Pipeline project, but unfortunately, it does not include an immediate halt to the Site C dam. As a working class party, we appreciate the political difficulties posed by laying off building trades workers at Site C, but we believe that protecting the valuable agricultural land of the Peace River region is a higher priority, and that there are better ways to create jobs in British Columbia.

            During the recent election, the Communist Party of BC campaigned for fundamental economic and social changes. We demanded complete reversal of Gordon Campbell’s tax cuts for the rich and the corporations, which cost the provincial treasury an estimated $2.5 billion annually. Our platform called for doubling social assistance rates, a $20 minimum wage, universal child care, legislation to implement PR, an improved Labour Code, public ownership of the resource sector, a massive social housing program, and other policies to put people and the environment ahead of corporate profits.

            Despite its shortcomings, we believe that the NDP-Green accord can reverse some of the worst impacts of Liberal rule. Premier Clark should accept the democratic will of the voters and resign immediately. Once the new government takes office, the Communist Party of BC\will help to mobilize the working class and democratic forces to press for quick action to carry out its positive promises. Such a strategy is critical because big capital will use every tactic to make the new government back away from implementing progressive policies.

            This new situation offers a historic opportunity for the working people of British Columbia to expand our collective horizons. The Communist view is that reforms are urgently required to improve living and working conditions, to protect the environment, and to reverse the genocidal impact of the legacy of colonialism on indigenous peoples.

            But we also know that the right-wing corporate agenda springs from the nature of capitalism itself, regardless of which parties are in office. Capitalism is based on maximizing private profits, through greater exploitation of the working class and the destructive extraction of natural resources. The struggle for immediate reform is crucial for the working class and its allies, and much will be learned from the experience of an NDP-Green alliance government in British Columbia. But only socialism - based on democratic public ownership of the economy and the political power of the working class - can offer a genuine solution to the complex problems confronting our world. Our task in British Columbia today is to expand on this limited electoral victory, and to unite the working class and its allies to fight for truly fundamental change.

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3) 2017 BC ELECTION - BRITISH COLUMBIANS HAVE SPOKEN

An Open Letter from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, to Premier Christy Clark, John Horgan and Andrew Weaver

            From April 28th to May 9th nearly two million British Columbians took to the polls to give expression to their deep concerns relative to the previous sixteen years of a BC Liberal majority rule. Clearly, Sixty percent of those British Columbians have overwhelmingly voted for change.

            Six years of a heavy-handed Clark majority government has left British Columbians deeply mired in an overwhelming debt, subsequent to a litany of highly outdated, unfeasible and environmentally destructive mega projects, including the Site C Dam, the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project and the fading market-dead LNG pipe dream. British Columbia’s economy has become reliant on an industry propped up by a temporary and transient workforce precariously perched on archaic notions requiring the complete destruction of our pristine air, land, and waters, and on an industry which runs rough-shod over the democratic and human rights of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike.

            British Columbians demand a different way of governing and have called for a dramatic shift from protecting foreign corporate interests to ensuring the health, safety, well-being and the long-term, sustainable livelihoods of our families and communities.

            The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) calls on the newly elected government of BC to enact the change British Columbians have called for. More specifically, we call on the government of BC to immediately implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to enact the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to begin to implement the principles and provisions of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Tsilqhot’in Nation v. British Columbia. The Province’s piecemeal approach of agreement making with First Nations across BC can no longer stand in place of recognizing Indigenous peoples’ inherent Title, Rights, jurisdiction and especially First Nations’ right to consent.

            We must immediately begin to make significant changes to strengthen the BC Environmental Assessment process by disposing of the problematic and dangerous MOU between the BC Environmental Assessment Office and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency allowing BC to substitute its EA process for projects where both provincial and federal EAs are required, and to promote the wellbeing of communities across BC. First Nations have called for significant engagement that is both genuine and meaningful.

            Further, we must work together to address the destructive policies and practices permeating the state of child and family care in BC. A new BC government must not only provide safe healthy environments for children but must ensure future opportunities for their growth and development, to do so we must address the funding and resourcing shortfalls of First Nations education and health care services throughout the province. Homelessness and affordable housing must also become immediate priorities of the new government. BC must also take significant movement to address and effectively end the devastating opioid crises gripping numerous BC communities.

            The new BC government must make great strides to rebuild the trust of British Columbians and to protect the future of our environment and our communities.

            On behalf of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President;

Chief Robert Chamberlin, Vice-President; Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer.

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4) CANADA 150: WHITEWASHING THE GENOCIDAL HISTORY OF COLONIALISM

Statement by the Central Executive Committee and the Indigenous Commission of the Communist Party of Canada

            On National Aboriginal Day, June 21, the Communist Party of Canada sends our warmest greetings to all First Nations, Innu and Métis peoples. We take this important occasion to renew our solidarity with the resistance against the expansion of resource extraction industries on traditional indigenous territories, and with all those who stand for an end to racist oppression of indigenous peoples in this country.

            Just ten days after June 21, hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent by the federal government to mark "Canada 150". This year's July 1 holiday is not a day of celebration for millions of working people who suffer from growing economic insecurity, and especially for indigenous peoples who face the highest rates of unemployment, poverty, health crises, incarceration, police violence, and countless other measures of inequality. For indigenous peoples, being forced to pay for this "party" with their own tax dollars is a bitter insult, especially since these events are being held by the Liberal Party government of Justin Trudeau, who won the electoral support of many indigenous voters two years ago, when he campaigned as a leader who would heal the damage inflicted by Stephen Harper's Tories.

            The Communist Party of Canada joins with many others in condemning this celebration of Confederation as a racist rewriting of the history of the northern half of Turtle Island. The truth is that modern-day Canada was created through a wide range of genocidal and assimilationist policies going back nearly 500 years, along with the national oppression of French Canadians and the brutal exploitation of generations of immigrant workers.

            The story of genocide began with the theft of traditional indigenous territories, and the imposition of unfair and repeatedly violated treaties. This was followed by the deliberate destruction of indigenous languages and cultures, the mass removals of indigenous children from their families (the residential schools, the "60s scoop,", etc.), and thousands of unsolved murders of indigenous women and girls. This record is usually dismissed as "past history", giving rise to the arrogant racist view that "you people should just get over it," and also to the liberal myth of a post-racist society.

            But the legacy of genocide remains very real today, even if individual expressions of racism may have become less acceptable. Despite official apologies from politicians, and the important recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, structural anti-indigenous racism is so deeply embedded in Canadian society that it is usually minimized or even completely denied.

            How else to explain that 150 years after Confederation, a judge and prosecutor in Edmonton can jail a young indigenous woman, placing her in handcuffs and leg shackles, for the "crime" of testifying against her violent sexual predator? Or that a Prime Minister elected on the promise to respect indigenous rights then endorses resource extraction and export projects with profoundly negative impacts on First Nation communities? Or that the Sureté du Québec in Val D'Or (and other police forces), still commit widespread physical and sexual abuse against indigenous women? Or that the Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women is bogged down in bureaucratic details after almost two years? Or that over 100 indigenous communities still lack clean drinking water?

            Countless examples could be given, but the point is obvious: anti-indigenous racism is not "past history", it remains a defining contemporary feature of the Canadian state and society, right up to the level of the federal Liberal cabinet which has failed to deliver on its promise of a new relationship with indigenous peoples. This failure is a reflection of "big nation" Anglo chauvinism, the ideological concept of an English-speaking, Christian, "white man's country" which has held sway since before the time of Confederation, despite huge demographic changes after 1867.

            The struggle for national equality calls for a conscious and dedicated effort to overcome the entire colonial legacy of imperialism, as a crucial element of resistance against the right-wing, racist agenda of the big corporations and pro-austerity political parties. Such resistance can only be advanced through full rejection of Anglo chauvinist and white supremacist ideologies, and unity in action of the working class and democratic forces of all nations, around policies to put the needs of people and the environment ahead of corporate greed.

            The Communist Party of Canada demands to remove the colonialist structure and legacy which is at the heart of the crisis of Confederation. We call for a Constituent Assembly with equal representation of all nations, to draft a new democratic constitution, based on the equal and voluntary partnership of indigenous peoples, Quebec, the Acadians and English-speaking Canada. The Communist Party also demands urgent action to fulfill the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to meet the economic, social, cultural and national needs of the indigenous peoples. Such a strategy to eradicate the colonialist legacy of the Canadian state would be the only truly honourable and just way to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

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5) ONTARIO COMMUNISTS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN: “HOUSING FOR PEOPLE - NOT PROFIT!”

PV Ontario Bureau

            In response to the province’s prolonged, deepening housing crisis, the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) has launched a year-long, province-wide housing campaign.

            Housing costs are soaring in all areas of the province, with the average house price rising 24% between April 2016 and April 2017, to $670,000. The provincial average for renting a one-bedroom apartment was $12,000 per year in 2016. Rent control does not apply to units created after 1991, which means that the proportion of rent controlled housing is diminishing rapidly.

            The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association reports that in 2015, over 170,000 households in the province were on waiting lists for rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing, an increase of 45,000 households over the decade. Furthermore, waiting times are also increasing – a RGI applicant housed in 2015 had to wait an average of 4 years, while someone applying in 2015 will have to wait an average of just over 5 years to be housed. Applicants in some urban areas expect to wait up to 14 years.

            Across Ontario, 725,000 households are in core housing need. This means they are spending more than 30% of their household income on housing that is inadequate (crowded or in need of major repair), without access to acceptable housing.

            In response, the Liberal provincial government launched its Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. The current centerpiece of this is the proposal for “inclusionary zoning,” which was introduced through Bill 204, Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016. Inclusionary zoning empowers municipalities to require developers to temporarily reserve a portion of new units for low- to moderate-income households. Such an approach continues the failed reliance on the private sector to provide affordable housing, by offering multiple economic and financial incentives to developers. These incentives include waived development charges, lower taxes and fees, fewer regulatory restrictions, and sale of public land at low prices. Inclusionary zoning also does nothing to address the key issues of rent control and construction of affordable housing stock.

            Despite the government’s claim that Bill 204 and inclusionary zoning will be a huge step toward fixing the housing crisis, it all adds up to more of the same – big profits for developers and no construction of affordable units. It facilitates gentrification, as developers only need to temporarily set aside a token number of affordable units while they gain cheaper and easier access to permits and resources. It also means reduced public revenue through waived charges and fees, and a huge transfer of valuable public lands to the private sector. Bill 204 also contains provisions for redefining affordable housing, which effectively enables the provincial government to manipulate data and conceal the depth of the housing crisis.

            The Communist campaign is focused on two main demands, reducing housing costs and increasing the supply of affordable housing. According to CPC (Ontario) leader Dave McKee, “Ontario must recognize housing as a human right, as acknowledged by the United Nations. The commodification of housing under capitalism has caused this crisis, and that needs to be confronted. Ontario needs a comprehensive, progressive public housing plan that treats housing as a public utility and delivers it according to need.

            “As Ontario approaches a provincial election in June 2018, the CPC (Ontario) is the only party campaigning around such a progressive set of demands. We are campaigning for real rent controls and rent rollbacks. We are campaigning for a massive housing construction program, to build 200,000 new units of affordable now and to provide badly needed maintenance and upgrades to existing units. We are campaigning for proper building inspections for rental housing, and a ban on evictions or utility cut-off due to involuntary unemployment.”

            The initial phase of the campaign includes a public information campaign, petitioning, and a push for unions, community organizations and municipalities to pass resolutions demanding real political action on the provincial housing crisis. More information about the campaign is available at housingforpeople.ca.

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6) NEW HOPE FOR WORKING PEOPLE

People’s Voice Editorial

            After a series of depressing elections over the last year (the rise of Donald Trump was not the only case), some positive news for working people has arrived at the ballot box. Here are two very different scenarios, with some interesting similarities.

            In British Columbia, one of the most right-wing governments in recent Canadian history got the hook on May 9. The Liberals won a few more votes than the NDP, but lost their majority in the Legislature, and the Greens ended up with the balance of power. Barring unexpected events, the NDP will take office by the end of June, ready to implement an accord with the Greens based largely on demands raised by people’s movements across the province. The accord isn’t a program to attack the basic political power of the big corporations, but it can help to reverse the worst impacts of austerity and cutbacks imposed by the Liberals since 2001 (and in fact by the previous NDP government of the 1990s). By any measure, this is a victory. But the only way to build on this accord is through mass mobilization and pressure by the labour and people’s movements.

            On a global scale, the setback for Theresa May’s Tories in the UK a month later was a much bigger development. Not just because Britain is a key ally of US imperialism, but also because Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigned as a socialist, on a platform calling for radical reforms.

            There is much to discuss and debate about these complex events, along with the continued popularity of Bernie Sanders in the United States. One thing is certain: the myth that working people reject the concept of socialism has been decisively disproven. A better world remains both possible and necessary!

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7) ABOLISH CHILD LABOUR!

People’s Voice Editorial

            June 12th marked the annual  World Day Against Child Labour, a phenomenon which most people in Canada usually regard as a rare and anachronistic situation. The reality is that millions of children and youth around the world remain trapped in capitalist chains, performing backbreaking and dangerous jobs for the private profit of their bosses.

            Socialists have always fought against every form of exploitation, either “disguised” in the form of legal wage labour, or clearly barbarian. Child labour is in the second category, existing since the very beginning of the inhuman capitalist system. As the World Federation of Trade Unions points out, “the fortunes of bourgeois were created by the hands and blood of children.”

            Today, an estimated 168 million children work in various jobs around the world. In the Asia-Pacific region, for example, about 9.3% of the child population is forced to work. Since the outbreak of the latest capitalist crisis a decade ago, and the deepening of intra-imperialist rivalries, the exploitation of children is intensifying, always with a view to maximizing the profits of multinationals. Child workers are mainly employed in the sectors of agriculture, fishing and mining, while other children work even as modern-day slaves. Immigrant children often suffer double exploitation, even in Europe and North America, regions that boasted about having eliminated this scourge. Despite declarations by the United Nations and the ILO, millions of children suffer irreparable psychological, intellectual, social or moral injuries, and often sexual exploitation as well.

            The WFTU has raised important demands on this occasion, including public, free and compulsory education for the new generation, and full access to leisure, recreation and health care for children and youth. Child labour must be abolished, along with laws which allow children or their parents to “consent” to such work.

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8) “NEW” DEFENCE POLICY - STILL MADE IN WASHINGTON

Letter to the Editor

            On June 7th Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, announced what he referred to as a "new” defence policy indicating that the Liberal government has bought into a more aggressive role for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and making the Canadian military more suited to “war fighting” in overseas theaters. Mr. Sajjan declared Canada will increase war spending over 70% during the next 10 years to the tune of 32.7 billion; he also pledged to increase the number of fighter jets to 88 from 65; and to increase the number of personnel in both the regular and reserve armed forces. Still on the table is the issue of Canada officially joining the U.S. “Ballistic Missile” system.

            As Murray Dobbin (June 9th) and Peggy Mason (June 7th) point out nothing has changed internationally since the election of the Trudeau government to justify such an increase in Canada’s war-making effort.

             “Last year Canada already spent 28 billion on the Department of National Defence which had made it the 7th highest military spender among NATO members and the 17th highest military spender in the world. However, the federal government spent only 1.5 billion for the Department of Environment and Climate Change (ECCC). Over the past two decades, military spending has dramatically increased but funding for environmental protection and climate action has flat-lined.” (Voice of Women for Peace, May 10, 2017).

            The stage for Mr. Sajjan on June 7th was set by the Minister of International Affairs on June 6th. Chrystia Freeland, who should be acting as our top Canadian diplomat, heaped praise on past US aggressions around the globe and reinforced her pro-US military statements with the Russia bogeyman card (reminiscent of Cold War days) and the North Korean card. Ms. Freeland must be aware of how many military bases the U.S. has in the world compared to the number of bases the Russians have. She must know that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (Jan 26/17) moved the hands on the Doomsday Clock to two and a half minutes to midnight to reflect the danger in the world since the U.S. election. The dream, no nightmare, of fighting and winning a conventional world war or nuclear war is sheer lunacy – Canada should be exerting its best diplomatic efforts to develop peaceful relations with all countries including Russia, China, Syria, and North Korea. As Murray Dobbin has written: ‘U.S. “leadership” is known by another name in scores of countries around the globe: U.S. imperialism . . .  Does Freeland believe that the illegal war on Iraq is an example of U.S. leadership? Would she, unlike Jean Chrétien, have joined in? What about the slaughter in Yemen? Going back a bit further, would Freeland see the literally dozens of U.S. interventions to overthrow democratic governments and install dictators as the epitome of U.S. leadership?’ (June 9th, 2017).

            Canada needs new, made in Canada policies aimed at the achievement of peace and disarmament in the world. Negotiations are going on at the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons; Canada should be part of these deliberations. In the short term Canada should withdraw from the conflict in Iraq and Syria, stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia; and make diplomacy a top priority. In the long term Canadians must find the steps to break with the U.S. Empire and the war-making alliances that it leads. Both NATO and NORAD are not contributing to peace and security around the world.

            If we must look outside of our borders for leadership we would be wiser to look to Britain than the U.S. – increasing numbers of people in the United Kingdom, especially young people there are embracing a positive, peaceful vision of their country; they also realize if their country is not bombing people in the Middle East they will not be confronted with “blowback”.

            - Ed Lehman, President, Regina Peace Council, and David Gehl, Vice-President, Regina Peace Council

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9) “A LITTLE CROOKED HOUSE” TRUDEAU, MORNEAU, BMO AND KPMG INC.

By Paul Bentley

 “There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.

He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile

He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.”

 

            Finance Minister Bill Morneau has recently reinvigorated his promise to crack down on tax evasion schemes, but how can we trust him when he is himself named in the Panama Papers? This issue, buried in the back-pages of last year’s CBC coverage, is not raised by any of the major media outlets in Canada in connection with Morneau’s current determination to “lay down the gauntlet” on tax loopholes. 

            In other countries like Iceland and Pakistan, and perhaps even Britain, government leaders have been forced to resign or subjected to criminal investigations as part of the fall-out of the Panama Papers. 

            If, as the Toronto Star claims, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is now under orders from Morneau to pursue criminal charges against “tax cheats”, shouldn’t they be investigating their own boss? Or is this another case of the old political trick of “hiding in plain sight”?  

            There is no doubt that as Executive Chair of Morneau Shepell, the pension and investments consulting firm he inherited from his father, Morneau was responsible for hiring the legal services of Lennox Corporate Services Ltd., to set up a tax evasion scheme in the Bahamas.  According to the ICIJ site this was done in February of 2014, and Morneau did not retire from the firm until October 2015.

            The excuses offered for Morneau are that, according the CBC, he “resigned from Morneau Shepell and its Bahamian subsidiary before being sworn in as a minister”; and that, according to the National Post, Morneau is subject to a conflict of interest “screen” in regard to his family business.

            Wait a minute, won’t Morneau still benefit from the proceeds of his crime when he retires from politics? What a great maneuver, go into politics in order to escape responsibility for tax evasion!

            Now, if you “follow the money” a little further, you find that Morneau is not alone. Take for example his boss, Justin Trudeau’s claim to have been “entirely and completely transparent” about his family's finances; that is the millions of dollars he inherited from his father (am I beginning to sense a pattern here?). Yes, he openly said that he placed his money in a “blind” trust with BMO private banking, and yes BMO is professionally audited by one of the Big Four international accounting firms – KPMG, so you will never find Trudeau’s name in the Panama Papers, right?

            Not so fast, what about the fact that KPMG is named in the Panama Papers? So, it happens, is BMO Nesbitt Burns, part of the complex private banking system where Trudeau has parked his money! And what about the fact that KPMG is BMO’s auditor? And that BMO is the largest contributor to the Trudeau Foundation of the major Canadian Banks etc… and oh, and by the way, KPMG also happen to be the auditors for Morneau Shepell.

            The plot thickens when we consider that KPMG is likely also cooking the Liberal Party’s books. Democracy Watch has recently accused Trudeau of a conflict of interest by hiring KPMG executive John Herhalt to manage the Liberal Party’s finances.

            The problem with KPMG is not just that it is named in the Panama Papers, nor that KPMG has a long history of the fraudulent misrepresentation of its client’s books. For example, KPMG is under investigation by US Senators Warren and Markey of Massachusetts for its part in facilitating the fraudulent representation of Wells Fargo accounts during the 2008 financial crisis.

            The problem with KPMG is that it is currently under investigation by the CRA for its tax evasion projects on the Isle of Man. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair recently asked the following question in the House of Commons:

            “Five weeks after KPMG was ordered to maintain all records during an ongoing investigation, a group of offshore shell companies set up by KPMG went ahead and shredded documents related to that probe. This is the very definition of obstruction of justice. Then the Liberals blocked the investigation into KPMG. I am curious. Is there any other way the Liberal front bench can twist obstruction of justice and sweetheart deals for crooked billionaires into support for the middle class?”

            Well, there may be one. When the little crooked Trudeau-Morneau household runs into trouble with the law in Canada, it can always turn to its so-called opponents, the Conservative Party and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, to set-up meetings with giant US firms “Blackstone”, and its spin-off “Blackrock” – the largest private equity and assets management firms in the world – to raise some cash. 

            Mulroney happens to be on the Board of Blackstone, and his daughter Caroline, who just announced her interest in a “political career”, is married to Andrew Lapham, executive advisor to Blackstone based in Toronto. It was through Mulroney that Trudeau arranged for Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone’s CEO, to advise the Liberal cabinet on relations with the new Trump administration. No doubt Blackstone’s connections with the Liberal Party will be of use when it comes to the pursuit of Canadian investment opportunities such as its current interest in the purchase of beleaguered mortgage lending firm Home Capital.

            Not to be outdone, Blackrock’s global head of active equities, Mark Wiseman, has wormed his way onto Morneau’s economic growth advisory council. In this capacity he organized Blackrock’s recent investor summit held in Toronto, to which Trudeau made his pitch for “leveraging private capital” in the form of a new Canadian public-private infrastructure bank.

            Of course, Blackstone and Blackrock are also named in the Panama Papers.

            Sadly, Canadians may never see any benefits from the circulation of all this international finance capital if it is ultimately destined for off shore tax havens. I guess this is what Marx meant when he said that “the executive of the modern state is but a committee for the management of the affairs of the bourgeoisie”.

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10) POWER IS WITHIN SIGHT FOR THE LABOUR PARTY, BUT THE LEFT MUST REMAIN VIGILANT

Editorial from the Morning Star, June 11, 2017

            Labour is right to set its sights on preventing the passage of the Queen’s speech and bringing down Theresa May’s tottering government.

            May might think she can cling to office with the votes of the repulsive terror-linked Democratic Unionist Party, but the knives are out. Boris Johnson is forced to deny planning a takeover, while aides of Scottish Conservative boss Ruth Davidson are reportedly working on a plan to form a separate party to the UK-wide Tories.

            Commentators and Labour MPs may be eating slice after slice of humble pie over Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning success at the polls — achieving the largest increase in Labour’s vote since 1945 — but too many keep peddling the narrative that May’s incompetence rather than Corbyn’s message of hope was responsible for the result.

            Former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie is the worst offender with his contemptible assertion that against an incompetent like May another Labour leader would have done better.

            But the passionate mass campaign by hundreds of thousands of members and the huge surge in the youth vote would not have happened had the party been fronted by some washed-out Blairite. It was hope and the empowering sense that change is within our grasp that drove millions to the polling stations for Labour.

            Labour’s comeback from 20 points behind to neck and neck with the Tories was nothing short of remarkable, but what’s just as important is that it’s continuing.

            We all heard pre-election claims in the Guardian that people would only vote Labour if they were sure Corbyn had no chance of becoming prime minister. Well, now he looks capable of snatching the keys to No 10 and Labour are five points ahead of the Tories in the polls — according to the ultra-Conservative Daily Telegraph, and further ahead in some other surveys.

            A healthy dose of Corbynism is prompting the third massive growth spurt the party has enjoyed since he threw himself into the leadership contest two summers ago.

            The first came in 2015 as hundreds of thousands joined to elect him, the second in 2016 as many more did to re-elect him, and the current massive increase in membership — with over 150,000 new members since the election, taking the total to over 800,000 — signals a wave of enthusiasm that could carry him to power.

            Corbyn was relaxed and confident on Andrew Marr, a stark contrast to the dead duck May. But the left should remain on the alert. Evidence that the Labour HQ declined to properly resource many marginal seats that could have been taken shows the party machine is still capable of sabotage.

            And while previously disloyal MPs are lining up to say they have changed their minds about Corbyn, an understandable instinct to bring critics back on board could risk diluting the passion Labour is inspiring if it waters down the socialist message.

            Corbyn says he will build a strong new shadow cabinet — and quite right too, with some vacancies remaining from the “chicken coup” last year. But his current set of shadow ministers have played a blinder and delivered incredible gains. It’s no time to split up the dream team.

            Nor should the left have any truck with proposals for a cross-party initiative to devise an approach to Brexit negotiations.

            Given the pro-EU views of most MPs, this could undermine Labour’s determination to work for an exit deal that puts the British people back in charge of our own economy or even pave the way for an anti-democratic “national government” to preserve neoliberalism in the face of popular revolt.

            Labour is within sight of power, and with its most progressive programme for many decades. To realise that goal the left must stay focused.

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11) U.S. HEALTH CARE HAS A RELAPSE

By Rob Gowland, in The Guardian, weekly paper of the Communist Party of Australia

            For the right-wing in America, universal health care is some sort of diabolical Communist plot, designed to sap the moral fibre of the nation and open the way for the destruction of democracy itself. “Free enterprise” is their mantra, the answer to all the world’s problems. According to their philosophy, there is no difficulty that cannot be overcome by the simple expedient of finding a way to make a profit from it.

            Of all the developed capitalist countries, the USA has the most expensive health care system. Millions of Americans cannot afford to see the doctor or if they do they cannot afford to get their prescriptions filled. In a country where a trip to hospital can land you with a bill running to tens of thousands of dollars, health insurance is essential, and yet millions of Americans have none because they simply cannot afford it.

            The people decry the lack of affordable health care and agitate for it at every opportunity. Ranged against them, however, is the well-funded propaganda machine of the “health care industry”, committed to for-profit health care and keen to improve its lucrative business opportunities. So what if millions cannot afford to get sick? As long as the better-off can still afford the outrageous fees charged by private hospitals and specialists, the industry is happy.

            President Obama’s very modest universal health insurance scheme (the so-called “Obama-care”) got off the ground despite a vigorous campaign by the industry that portrayed it as that most hideous of anti-American things, “socialised medicine”. It has been drummed into Americans for many decades now that anything even resembling “socialised medicine” must be a very bad thing and as a consequence many now simply accept it as incontrovertible fact. The industry campaigned against this Communist-type evil with such catchy devices as posters in which medical instruments morphed into a hammer and sickle.

            Donald Trump, a billionaire property developer, is naturally opposed to anything that smacks of socialism, no matter how tenuous the connection. He denounced Obama-care and declared that once-elected he would tear it up and replace it with a real health care scheme, by which he meant one that the industry would be happy with. This proved to be harder than they expected, as ordinary people expressed concern over their future if they could not afford health care.

            Trump and the Republican majority in Congress had to water down their original plan to simply “tear up” Obama-care when some of their own side got cold feet (or grew a conscience) but on May 4 the House passed a bill to do just that. The American Health Care Act (AHCA), aimed at altering or eradicating provisions of Obama-care, “will devastate all but the richest of society with exorbitant medical costs that many cannot afford. Medicaid would be slashed by hundreds of billions. Twenty-four million would be left without health insurance.” (Michael Winship, Emmy Award-winning writer, and the president of Writers Guild of America, East.)

            This attack on the poor in America will not do the Republicans any good at the next Congressional elections, but in the meantime it was so dear to their hearts that they rammed it through the House without even the pretence of public consultation. As Winship notes: “The fact is, few Republicans have even read the bill. They did not wait for a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office before ramming it through. No hearings were held; no group was given the opportunity to raise its objections in such a public forum: no American Cancer Society, AARP, the March of Dimes, the American Hospital Association – all of which, along with many other professional and advocacy organisations, have made their opposition known. No American Medical Association, which announced, ‘millions of Americans will lose their health insurance as a direct result of this proposal.’ ”

            That did not worry Trump and his team. On the contrary, they were ecstatic. “The Republicans celebrated this impending tragedy with cheers on Capitol Hill and then got on buses to the White House for some further revelry in the Rose Garden,” notes Winship.

            And Ashley Parker observed in The Washington Post that “Trump basked in adulation as lawmakers heaped praise on him.” Trump shouted, “How am I doing? I’m president. Hey, I’m president. Can you believe it?” In Winship’s opinion, “It all felt like a chintzy version of the victory party after a high school football championship. ... The whole thing was very classy, as if the Founders high-fived, fist-bumped and burst into ‘We Are the Champions’ after signing the Declaration of Independence.”

            So why were Trump the populist and his Republican Congressional legislators ostentatiously celebrating their “achievement” in passing this legislation?

            Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, explains it thus: “It is critically important to look at this bill for what it is. It is not in any way a health care bill. Rather, it is legislation whose aim is to take significant funding allocated by Congress for health care for very low-income people and use that money for tax cuts for some of our wealthiest citizens. This is contrary to the spirit of who we are as a nation, a giant step backward that should be resisted.”

            On the other hand, it is very much in the spirit of who the American ruling class are. They built up the USA’s wealth by looting the resources of the less developed nations of the world and also siphoning off the profits of the developed countries. Now, with the US economy sliding downhill, they are desperately trying to boost their declining profits by curtailing expenditure on social services, education, health care – anything that would divert to the poor funds which the US ruling class believes should go into their own capacious pockets.

            However, since the shock of the election of Trump into the White House the watchword for the whole of the Left in America is now Resistance. This massive attack on the poor and vulnerable is unlikely to be allowed to pass without a fight.

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12) THE PLOT TO SCAPEGOAT RUSSIA

The Plot to Scapegoat Russia, by Dan Kovalik, Skyhorse Publishing, June 2017. Book review by Roger D. Harris

            Accused of being a “Useful Idiot or Propagandist for Russia,” labor and human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik is anything but. His book, The Plot to Scapegoat Russia, rather, holds the US to the same level of scrutiny as the Russophobes insist we examine Russia. Kovalik’s careful dissection of the US record makes Russia’s transgressions pale in comparison.

            American exceptionalism – the conviction that our excrement smells like perfume and everyone else’s stinks – is deconstructed. Kovalik documents how the US “has fought against nearly every war of liberation waged by the peoples of the Third World, and has many times partnered with right-wing fascist forces.” In short, Kovalik embraces Martin Luther King’s dictum: “The US is on the wrong side of world-wide revolution.”

            Brought up in an anti-communist conservative Roman Catholic milieu, where he was instructed to pray for the conversion of the Russians, Kovalik now pleas that the challenges of “global warming, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, mass poverty, and constant wars” would best be addressed by mutual cooperation with a willing Russia. Like a broken clock that displays the correct time twice a day, Trump is credited for suggesting détente with Russia.

            Informing the book is the biblical allegory that it is more convenient to pull the speck from your brother’s eye than the plank from your own. Hence, Kovalik has the temerity to point out that “while Americans obsess over the numbers killed under the Stalin Terror, few care to consider the most-likely greater numbers killed in the US genocide of Native Americans.”

            Kovalik is sympathetic to Putin’s observation that the collapse of the USSR was “the major geopolitical disaster of the [last] century.” Kovalik notes the Soviet Union’s many contributions, including the heavy lifting in defeating the Nazis in WWII. The Soviet Union also served as a major countervailing force moderating US militaristic adventures abroad. The US invasions of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and counting would not likely have proceeded had that force been present in more recent times.

            Likewise, the presence of the Soviet alternative goaded the US domestically to address its democratic pretensions for racial equality and such. And with the collapse of the Soviet Union, social democracies throughout the world dissolved. Ironically Putin is being subjected to worse vilification today by the US establishment than were the Soviet leaders during the Cold War.

            Kovalik emphasizes the underlying continuity among US rulers from Clinton to Bush to Obama to Trump, despite less significant differences of party allegiances and work styles. Overriding is allegiance to the US imperial project and an ever deepening neoliberal trajectory.

            Obama, Kovalik points out, had arrested more people under the 1917 Espionage Act than all of his predecessors combined. Meanwhile, Trump is carrying Obama’s legacy forward. The Clintons’ many wrongdoings receive a full three chapters – two for Bill and one for Hillary. Under Bill Clinton, the ideological justification of “humanitarian intervention” replaced the former use of anti-communism as the pretext for US world domination.

            Kovalik traces back the use of “humanitarian intervention” as a cover for Belgium’s genocidal activities in the Congo from 1885 to 1908 under King Leopold. Mark Twain, incidentally one of the founders of the Anti-Imperialist League, had this to say about the king: “this bloody monster whose mate is not findable in human history will surely shame hell itself when he arrives there.” Kovalik opines that modern journalists would be justified to say the same about Bill Clinton today.

            The book’s subtitle, How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Russia, suggests a secret cabal concealed in the shadowy bowels of the State Department basement. The conspiracy that Kovalik reveals is far more shocking. It is composed of our leading public officials and state institutions hidden in plain sight and blatantly operating in the open, abetted by what is called the mainstream media with a little help from alternative sources (e.g., Democracy Now! on Libya and Syria).

            The CIA is not only an unreliable source (e.g. weapons of mass destruction), Kovalik demonstrates that it is also a far greater threat to US democracy than Russia. The Russian hack story is a ruse to excuse Hillary Clinton’s electoral defeat, but even more it is a justification for an ever more aggressive US imperial project.

            Kovalik’s The Plot to Scapegoat Russia is a worthy sequel to John Perkins’ 2004 Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, though with more sophistication and political insight than the earlier title. Just released on June 6, Kovalik’s book provides a most timely analysis and documentation to combat the unholy alliance of neo-conservatives and liberals fomenting heightened world tensions.

            Kovalik concludes with the admonishment that liberals have grown so apologetic about the bedrock militarism of Democrats that they don’t resist it when the other party is in power. “I wring my hands over my own country, which seems more out of control and dangerous than any other in the world, and which is tapping into old Cold War fears to justify its permanent war footing.”

            Meanwhile the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have moved the doomsday clock up to two and a half minutes before midnight, the closest it has been to Armageddon since the height of the Cold War.

            Roger D. Harris is on the state central committee of the Peace and Freedom Party www.peaceandfreedom.org/home /, the only ballot qualified socialist party in California.

 

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