People’s Voice November 16-30, 2016
Volume 24 – Number 18   $1








7) “FIGHT THE FEES!” TAKES OFF - Editorial









PEOPLE'S VOICE      NOVEMBER 16-30, 2016 (pdf)


People's Voice deadlines:

December 1-31
Thursday November 24

January 1-31
Thursday,January 5

Send submissions to PV Editorial Office,
706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, V5L 3J1,

You can call the editorial office at 604-255-2041






People's Voice finds many "Global Class Struggle" reports at the "Labour Start" website, We urge our readers to check it out!

* * * * * *
Central Committee CPC
290A Danforth Ave Toronto, Ont. M4K 1N6
Ph: (416) 469-2446
fax: (416) 469-4063

Parti Communiste du Quebec (section du
Parti communiste du Canada)
5359 Ave du Parc, Montréal, Québec,
H2V 4G9

B.C.Committee CPC
706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, V5L 3J1
Tel: (604) 254-9836
Fax: (604) 254-9803

Edmonton CPC
Box 68112, 70 Bonnie Doon P.O.
Edmonton, AB, T6C 4N6
Tel: (780) 465-7893
Fax: (780)463-0209

Calgary CPC
Unit #1 - 19 Radcliffe Close SE
  AB, T2A 6B2

Tel: (403) 248-6489

Ottawa CPC
Tel: (613) 232-7108

Manitoba Committee
387 Selkirk Ave., Winnipeg, R2W 2M3
Tel/fax: (204) 586-7824

Ontario Ctee. CPC
290A Danforth Ave., Toronto, M4K 1N6
Tel: (416) 469-2446

Hamilton Ctee. CPC
265 Melvin Ave., Apt. 815
Hamilton, ON
Tel: (905) 548-9586

Atlantic Region CPC
Box 70 Grand Pré, NS, B0P 1M0
Tel/fax: (902) 542-7981

* * * * * *

News for People, Not for Profits!
Every issue of People's Voice
gives you the latest
on the fightback from coast to coast.
Whether it's the struggle for jobs or peace, resistance to social cuts,
solidarity with Cuba, or workers' struggles around the world,
we've got the news the corporate media won't print.
And we do more than that
- we report and analyze events
from a revolutionary perspective,
helping to build the movements for justice and equality,
and eventually for a socialist Canada.

Read the paper that fights for working people
- on every page, in every issue!

People's Voice
$30 for 1 year
$50 for 2 years
Low-income special rate: $15 for 1-year
Outside Canada $50 for 1 year

Send to: People's Voice, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1
You can call the editorial office at 604-255-2041




(The following articles are from the November 16-30, 2016, 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.)




Statement on the U.S. election, Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, Nov. 9, 2016


 The election of Donald Trump marks an extremely dangerous shift, that threatens peace, democracy and sovereignty abroad, and labour, civil, social, and equality rights in the U.S.  As the de facto leader of a fascist movement, Trump has been compared to Silvio Berlusconi, the fascist leader of the Italian People of Freedom Party. The Republicans now control both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the executive branch, with power to make crucial appointments to the Supreme Court.

            We are witnessing the rise of a far right political movement similar to several European countries with all of the violent racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia that goes with it. Marine Le Pen of France’s far-right National Front was the first foreign party leader to congratulate Trump on election night.  

            Most Republican electors cast a vote for Trump, despite earlier repudiations by many prominent party leaders. At the end of the campaign, most of them rallied for Trump and for the Republican candidates for Congress and Senate. Other factors included a relatively low turnout, racist voter suppression tactics, the electoral college system which helped Trump win despite a lower share of the popular vote, and the wide prevalence of misogynist and sexist views in the United States.

            But Trump’s victory also resulted from the inability of Hillary Clinton’s campaign to hold together the broad coalition of forces that led to Barack Obama’s election in 2008 and re-election in 2012, including Black and Hispanic voters, women, labour, and youth. In this campaign, the turnout by Black Americans was significantly lower. A similar albeit narrower coalition had coalesced around Bernie Sanders, a self-styled “democratic socialist.” After Sanders’ candidacy for the Democratic nomination was defeated, many of his supporters opted to stay home even though the Democratic platform included some of his policies. Others voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, or other third party candidates, rather than support Clinton, who was widely recognized as a war-monger and a representative of the banks, finance capital, and the 1%. The Democratic Party establishment, which hand-picked Clinton for the nomination, turned their backs on the US working class which faces worsening social conditions, collapsing wages and living standards, and mass permanent unemployment. 

            In the process, the Clinton campaign helped Trump build up his image as an outsider, beholden to no-one, though he was in fact heavily financed and supported by the Breitbart group and alt.right movements, the Tea Party, the religious right, the KKK, the military, police, and secret service, and by reactionary corporate interests who undoubtedly helped to finance the campaign behind the scenes. Trump has never been the lone cowboy he claims to be, either financially or politically. He is the front man for the ultra-right corporate and fascist forces in the US today.

            The ongoing capitalist crisis since 2008, combined with systematic de-industrialization, plant closures and job losses resulting from global capitalist trade deals such as NAFTA and the upcoming TPP, has created a tipping point. Unwilling to continue with the status quo, working people have become increasingly angry and bitter, demanding change.

            The field was wide open for the demagogic ultra-right to offer their alternative: attacks on immigrants, racialized communities, Muslims, women, and unidentified elites, including trade unions and equality seeking groups and legislation blamed for the crisis in the country. “Make America Great Again” was Trump's broad stroke promise to improve the lives of unemployed and unorganized sections of the white (male) working class and ruined small business people, and to wreak revenge on those held responsible for their situation.

            Trump’s promises to create jobs and raise living standards are fantasies for the public. His agenda is to lower corporate taxes, eliminate regulation of corporations and banks, slash education and healthcare, privatize public assets and services, scrap civil, labour, equality and democratic rights, expel immigrants,  repeal "Obamacare", appoint judges who will attack reproductive rights, and rip up the Paris Accords and other efforts to tackle climate change. He will be in charge of the US nuclear weapons codes, and he proposes to double military spending.  There will be no breathing space under Trump, who will continue the imperialist policies of previous presidents, including new wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, continued aggression in Africa, regime change in Latin America, and the NATO drive to encircle Russia and China.

            Living next door to the tiger, Canada will not be immune. US investment and control runs right through the Canadian economy, our energy and resource extraction policies are very similar, our environmental policies are almost as bad, and Canadian foreign policy and support for NATO is in lock-step. Where there are differences, the US always prevails. This will include any amendments to NAFTA or the TPP, or the Keystone Excel Pipeline and other pipeline deals.

            Facing this onslaught, working people in Canada and the US, and especially the trade unions, must organize to defend hard-won rights and standards, and to mobilize broad-based unity and mass independent political action in the streets to stop Trump and the ultra-right in their tracks. Unity of the Canadian labour and people’s movements with our counterparts in the US will strengthen this fight in both countries. The Communist Party of Canada stands in solidarity with those who voted against and fought to defeat Trump, and with the Black Lives Matters movement, the Standing Rock water protectors, and all other post-election struggles against the ultra-right, in the US, Canada and globally. To succeed, this fight must include a program and policies for the real, fundamental, and progressive change that working people are so desperately looking for.  In the meantime, unity, unity and more unity is what we need in this struggle. The people united, will never be defeated!

Printer-friendly article








By Kimball Cariou


            The August 9 shooting death of Colten Boushie, a resident of the Red Pheasant reserve in northern Saskatchewan, could be seen as a tragic metaphor for the centuries-long history of anti-indigenous racism in Canada. Gerald Stanley, the farmer who killed Boushie, faces a second-degree murder charge, but the province is the scene of a much larger debate, reflecting the huge gap in incomes and living standards between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, and many other measures of inequality.

            Recent details about the killing of Colten Boushie were reported by the Globe and Mail's Joe Friesen, based on police documents and interviews with the families involved in this case.

            Unfortunately, until recent years it has been relatively rare for the mainstream media in Canada to pay serious attention to the voices of First Nations people. But Friesen's article about the events that fateful day from the perspective of Boushie's family is powerful writing. He describes how a flash of headlights in the darkness drew Debbie Baptiste to a window, as she saw a convoy of police vehicles driving along the dirt road that runs through Red Pheasant Reserve. When the cars pulled into her yard  she immediately feared for her son Colten, who was late getting home. To Baptiste, Colten was "the baby of the family, the one who normally stayed close".

            As anyone familiar with Canadian history knows, what happened next was sickeningly common. While four uniformed RCMP officers approached the family trailer, others stood watch outside, weapons drawn and scanning the property. Witnesses say the police were "prepared for trouble." The officers entered the home, searched each room with flashlights, and accused Baptiste of having been drinking.

            And there you have it. Why should the RCMP officers have been "prepared for trouble?" Because the RCMP was actually founded on the ideology that "Indians are trouble." The force was created shortly after Canadian confederation, with the mandate to help subdue the First Nations and Metis peoples while a massive influx of European settlers began to arrive. Unfair treaties were signed, the enormous buffalo herds were slaughtered (mainly south of the 49th parallel by US soldiers), and the vast prairies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were turned over to the production of grain and cattle. The RCMP was the main armed body of the Canadian state responsible for ensuring that the victims of this process remained on their reservations, barred from organizing resistance movements or even holding meetings. For over a century, the RCMP was the enforcer of racist colonialism in western Canada, and the Indians were the de facto enemy.

            So it's not surprising that when the RCMP arrived at the home of a young man shot by a white farmer, their attitude was that they were now in hostile territory. Did they act in the same fashion at the farm where Boushie was killed? Of course not, even though the only armed person in this case lived on that farm.

            The rest of Friesen's account is utterly heartbreaking. "Ms. Baptiste couldn’t comprehend what she was hearing. Colten was the gentle one, the optimist, the one who persevered when his crippled arm briefly prevented him from working. He was a ceremonial fire keeper whose certificates of good citizenship she’d kept in a folder since he was five. She let out a scream so urgent and anguished that those who heard it recall it with a shudder. She fell to her knees right there on the porch..."

            The RCMP have not provided a detailed response to the complaints raised by Colten’s family, saying only that "full details will be released through court proceedings.”

            A preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to put Gerald Stanley on trial is set for January. Among some white farmers in Saskatchewan (and certainly not all - it would be wrong to stereotype farmers as "racist rednecks"), there is an attitude that they have the "right" to use armed force to prevent anyone not invited from entering their property. Stanley's supporters claim that Boushie and his friends were trying to steal vehicles. Fearing racist bias, the dead man's family have launched a petition demanding an out-of-province lead investigator and Crown prosecutor. We shall see what happens with the court case in these tense circumstances.

            But there will be no case brought against the RCMP officers who mistreated the family of Colten Boushie, displaying the racist attitudes of an occupying colonial army. And that is perhaps the most terrible thing about this case: it reflects the real "Canadian values" which are widely accepted as the norm in our society.

            (An earlier version of this commentary appeared in Radical Desi magazine.)

Printer-friendly article








PV Quebec Bureau


            During last year’s election, the Trudeau Liberals promised to table legislative revisions to Bill C-51 in Parliament and then conduct an extensive public consultation. One year later, the Liberals have reversed the process.

            This minor political maneuver is hardly the first instance of the Liberals dancing around Bill C-51. When the massive omnibus bill was released in 2015 (significantly amending over five separate Acts of Parliament) they endorsed it before even reading the text. ‘Elect us, and we will make it better,’ was the promise.

            Canadians, however, did not think the bill could be improved or revised. Several days of protest were held in over fifty cities across the country, demanding C-51 be scrapped. Labour and people’s movements recognized they were facing the most serious assault on democratic rights, labour rights, and civil liberties in recent times.

            Last month, at the House Standing Committee on Public Safety’s hearings on Bill C-51 in Montreal, the testimony was overwhelmingly opposed to the Bill. For example, after outlining his family’s long involvement in the armed forces and RCMP, William Ray, a ten-year decorated veteran, called for the Bill “to be revoked in toto.”

            “I would remind you all that the darkest periods in the history of our nation have occurred when we have traded the liberty of our citizens for what we perceived to be our security,” Ray added. “There is no need for this bill. ... The RCMP does not have a good history with this sort of thing. We threw them out of the national security business for a good reason, most of which happened here in Quebec. I know their history very well, because part of it is my family history.”

            During the testimony of Adrien Welsh, an activist with the Young Communist League, committee chair Rob Oliphant (Liberal MP for Don Valley West) interrupted the young militant, who was speaking French, and asked him to talk more slowly for translation. Unsettling the Chair, Welsh pointed out that Oliphant was already conducting proceedings in English very rapidly and speakers were allowed just three minutes to address the committee. The hearing was conducted in the Picasso ball room at the luxury Sofitel Hotel, in Montreal’s Golden Mile neighbourhood.

            “Members of the committee, members of the public, and witnesses,” said Welsh, “I would like to start by invoking the memory of Pablo Picasso, in whose honour the room where we are meeting this evening is named. Pablo Picasso was a communist.

            “My name is Adrien Walsh and I am an organizer with the Ligue de la jeunesse communiste du Québec. As such, I am persuaded that my late comrade would be as offended as I am today. He would be offended by the fact that in a room bearing his name, we have to show identification to participate in a so-called public consultation, and, to testify, members of the public have to run an obstacle course, starting with finding out the place and date of the meeting, and ending with the conclusion of these remarks, unfortunately limited to three minutes, while others enjoy all the flexibility of the committee. It would seem appropriate, in a room bearing the name of Picasso, that people are spouting words like `democracy’, at the same time as they are trying to adjust the provisions of a bill that is worthy of the regimes that caused the atrocities which prompted that artist to produce Guernica.

            “I want to say clearly that I am fundamentally opposed to Bill C-51, which became the Anti-terrorism Act. No adjustment to make it more acceptable is possible. It must be immediately rejected and repealed, just as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, must be.

            “The real danger comes not from these young and not-so-young people who are supposedly being radicalized - in fact, I would like someone to explain to me what that concept refers to - but rather from the radicalization of a government that is constantly more liberticidal and that, by creating a climate of hostility, would arm the enemies of freedom and democracy, whoever they may be.

            “In fact, this is the spiral in which France has been engaged in recent months. This is how, in that country, that is the supposed homeland of human rights and liberty, eight-year-old children have been placed in detention, arbitrarily, teachers have been turned into informers, and demonstrations have been brutally repressed.

            “In fact, that climate of fear is very effective for neutralizing people who propose social change as a long-term solution. That climate of hostility is also very practical when it comes to justifying wars on terrorism, in Syria or elsewhere.

            “So I will conclude by coming back to Picasso, who did not simply paint Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. He also painted doves for peace, and took part in the 1962 world congress of peace activists, the target of a bomb attack perpetrated not by foreign terrorists, but by `good Frenchmen’ who were denying the Algerians peace during that period.

            “Today, if our objective were truly to prevent any threat of radicalization, we would not be discussing Bill C-51 or so-called national security; rather, we would be planning the withdrawal of the Canadian troops in Syria and everywhere else outside our country. We would be discussing the steps to take so that the people of this country, whether they are Quebecers or Indigenous people, and of whatever religion, whether Muslim or Christian, would be represented by a government that reflects their values and not those of the corporations. Thank you.”

Printer-friendly article








On the Oct. 15-16 weekend, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada met in Toronto to analyze global and domestic developments since the CPC’s convention last May. The meeting adopted a political report, including the following sections on the Trudeau Liberal government’s first year in office.


            The bloom is off the rose for the Liberals who have finally lost some of the broad support they have enjoyed since their election a year ago. The reasons are straightforward:  lack of delivery on the promises made during the election and in the March federal budget.

            Chief among them are the broken promises to Indigenous Peoples to embrace the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to respect Aboriginal sovereignty and the environment by opposing pipelines, fracking, and other development on Aboriginal lands. The Liberals have lobbied hard for the now defunct Keystone XL pipeline, indicated their strong support for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, for Energy East, Line 9 in Ontario and Quebec, and for fracking in northern BC. They have just approved the Site C Dam on the Peace River, which will run through Treaty 8 lands which are environmentally sensitive and unique.

In response, more than 50 Indigenous nations from all over North America formed a treaty alliance “to resist the use of our respective territories and coasts in connection with the expansion of the production of the Alberta tar sands, including for the transport of such expanded production, whether by pipeline, rail or tanker.”    

            On September 28, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced the government’s support for the Pacific Northwest LNG (liquefied natural gas) project which includes a pipeline through northern BC and a plant on Lelu Island in the mouth of the Skeena River where the gas will be turned into a liquid for transport on deep-sea tankers to Asia.           McKenna tried to cover up the betrayal focusing on “the 190  legally binding, and scientifically determined conditions” attached to the approval, but she couldn’t hide the environmental devastation that the project will reap, or sidestep the opposition and anger of the Indigenous Peoples, which had already reached boiling point with the approval of the Site C Dam. 

            During the election the Liberals also promised to advance significant investments in Aboriginal education, healthcare, housing, social programs, and job creation, very little of which has been delivered. The Assembly of First Nations, and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society have endorsed the Canadian Human Rights’ Tribunal’s court case aimed to compel the federal government to deliver equitable education and services to Aboriginal children on reserve as it does to all other children in Canada. Two orders have been issued against the government to deliver these services since January. 

            The government also promised to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including recognition and compensation to the survivors of the Sixties Scoop, but is still fighting class-action lawsuits against survivors.

            The government has also lost public support for endorsing the inadequate climate change targets set by the Harper government, the $10 per tonne carbon tax (rising to $50 per tone in 2022), and for long delays and “consultations” on everything from the post office, to Bill C-51, electoral reform, the TPP, AND foreign policy. These look more and more like stalling tactics, rather than real public consultations, with an extraordinarily narrow focus, and very short time allowed to hear from the public...

            A visit to the House of Commons by IMF Chair Christine Lagarde in September, left no doubt that the IMF sees the Liberal government and their policies of support for CETA and stimulus spending as vital on a global scale. “I very much hope Canadian economic policies would go viral” she told media. 

            For his part, PM Trudeau said, “What Canada offers to the world right now characterized by populism and anti-globalization, is an approach that offers political, financial, economic, social stability, predictability and openness to globalization.” 

            He added that the government will offer to the Blackrock Group (one of the biggest pools of private capital in the world) meeting in Toronto in October, “a more innovative and cleaner” natural resources sector, and a growing list of “opportunities” for public-private partnerships in infrastructure.

            What the PM offers is huge subsidies for the trans-national mining companies, and more struggles over Indigenous land rights and environmental concerns, along with privatization of public assets and services. This massive sell-off will also generate the capital needed to fund the promises in current and future government budgets, since corporate taxation is out of bounds (and lowering the corporate tax rate even further is still on the Liberals to-do list). The Liberals’ real agenda starts to appear.

            What’s not on their agenda is good jobs in industry and manufacturing and in housing construction, higher wages, higher pensions, plant closure legislation, jobs for youth, pay and employment equity, or expansion of Employment Insurance. In fact, plant closures continue at a steady pace, along with layoffs.  Low wages and precarious work, combined with soaring levels of household debt, are leading to conditions of absolute and relative impoverishment.

            Instead, we need expansion of the public sector including the expansion of Medicare to include vision, dental and long term care; Pharmacare, and the nationalization of the pharmaceutical industry; a universally accessible, affordable quality public childcare system; free post-secondary education and stipends for students; an emergency program to build and repair 1 million units of affordable social housing; public investment in public infrastructure; and immediate action to provide equitable and needs-based funding for education, healthcare, housing, social programs, infrastructure and jobs to Indigenous Peoples across Canada.

            Rather than corporate investment in public assets and services, we need to double the corporate tax rate, restore the capital tax, increase the capital gains tax to tax 100% of the gain, put wealth and inheritance taxes on estates over $1 million, close tax loopholes and collect unpaid and deferred corporate taxes. We need to close off access to offshore tax havens, and to nationalize the banks and insurance companies.

            Instead of austerity and capitalist globalization, we need public investment in good jobs, higher wages, pensions, and higher living standards for all. We need strong universal social programs, an environmentally sustainable industrial and manufacturing policy, public ownership and control of natural and energy resources, a multi-lateral trade policy that is mutually beneficial, and a foreign policy of peace and disarmament that cuts the military budget by 75%.

That’s the stimulus spending that’s urgently needed to get the economy moving, not the fire sale of public assets and services proposed by the Liberals. 

            One key target of the privatizers is Canada’s universal Medicare program. Dr. Brian Day's Charter Challenge to the BC Medicare Protection Act is being heard by the BC Supreme Court this fall. Day is a long time proponent of a parallel private system which would co-exist with Medicare, paid for by private billing of patients or their private healthcare insurance providers.  In other words Day is fighting to replace the single payer system that underpins Canadian Medicare, with a multi-payer system that will enrich doctors and insurance companies and allow the wealthy to jump the queue for medical treatment, while parasitically sucking the life-blood out of the public system. 

            Day’s challenge is not to the Canada Health Act directly, but to the section of the provincial Act concerning extra-billing. If successful, his challenge will be a mortal blow to Medicare. It will open Canada up to a parallel private healthcare system based on ability to pay, not on the universal right of citizens to healthcare anywhere in the country. Most Canadians are unaware of this Charter case or of what is at stake here. This is privatization by stealth.

            Successive Liberal and Tory governments have looked the other way at provincial governments that allow extra-billing, rarely enforcing the Canada Health Act’s prohibitions on extra-billing or using its powers to withhold federal healthcare transfers to the offending provinces. Until now, extra-billing has mainly occurred as private clinics move in to charge patients for services which provincial Health ministries have de-listed from Medicare coverage.

            If Day is successful, every medical service and procedure will be available for a price, for those wealthy enough to jump the queue in the public system. Further, the private system will take patients with easily treatable illnesses or conditions, leaving the under-funded public system to treat patients with complex conditions and illnesses. Doctors interested in medicine as a business will be attracted to the private sector where the paydays are much bigger. Before long, the public system will become chronically and fatally ill, as the whole system is transferred into the private sector. This is what the US HMOs are impatiently waiting for, once their entry into Canada is permitted, if the courts support Day's challenge. Further, the investor state dispute settlement sections of NAFTA would make it difficult if not impossible for future governments to reverse course and restore a single payer system in Canada.

            Clearly this vital issue cannot be left to the courts to determine without public opinion making itself heard loud and clear.  The Canadian Health Coalition has intervener status in this case, and is mobilizing support across the country to defend Medicare.  We should do everything we can to broaden this struggle and make the public aware of what is at stake.  Mobilizations and public actions in support of Medicare can impact both the courts and parliament.  Medicare is a universal social program and a right that must be defended at all costs, by all Canadians whose health and well-being depend on it. 

            The Liberals have put another nail in Medicare’s coffin by reducing healthcare transfers to the provinces to 3% - half of what the transfers were under the Harper government, and far less than what is needed to keep Medicare afloat. Healthcare unions are calling for restoration of transfer to 25%, and we support that demand as a first step towards the 50% of healthcare costs that the federal government should pay, leaving the other 50% to be paid by the provinces.

            This spring and summer, the Liberals have launched consultations on a whole slew of issues, providing good media optics, but little real opportunity for the public to be heard. Such is the case on electoral reform. We have not been included as a presenter in the consultations, though we have filed a written brief reiterating our support for a Mixed Member Proportion system to make every vote count, without any threshold barrier to small party representation. We also indicated our view that while corporate donations should be banned, donations from trade unions should not be banned.  Corporate donations represent the private for-profit interests of the corporation, while donations from unions represent the collective interests of people – workers.

            Further, the financial doings of corporations are virtually impervious to access while the financial doings of trade unions are regularly reported to their members and are tightly controlled by government regulations and easily accessible to government audit. We also indicated our view that limits on expenditures by political parties should be sharply reduced; that subsidies to political parties based on votes should be eliminated; that universal door to door enumeration should be restored; that all-candidates meetings during an election should include all candidates and Leaders’ debates should include all party leaders...

            We do not support the various other electoral systems being reviewed including Single Transferable Vote or Ranked Ballots, which would result in virtually the same unequal distribution of parliamentary seats as at present, and would not make every vote count. These proposals don’t reflect a democratization of the voting system. Nor do we support mandatory voting which punishes voters, rather than engaging them with meaningful policies that address important issues.

            Another consultation was on the future of the post office and the review of postal services. We have submitted our views in a brief, as well as attending many of the consultations, where opposition to privatization plans were vocal. Business interests were very well represented in these hearings and in others too. We call for the restoration of door to door to delivery across Canada, and the expansion of services in the post office to include postal banking. We also stated that Canada Post must respect free collective bargaining, negotiate in good faith, and end its attacks on its employees and their union.

            Another consultation is on National Security and Bill C-51. During the election, the Liberals promised to amend this legislation, but in fact they would be quite happy to keep it as is. Bill C-51 is a threat to civil, democratic and labour rights, allowing for arbitrary arrest and detention, secret trials, and massive spying on individuals and organizations without cause or legal justification. The rights afforded to the police under the legislation leave protesters and striking workers and their unions subject to arbitrary arrest and detention if their actions  "interfere with critical infrastructure”. The public, and the labour and democratic movements must intervene to force the government to rescind this legislation.

            The Liberals have yet to make known their decision on the TPP, but they have certainly embraced CETA and are encouraging their European counterparts to show the same enthusiasm for the deal. While CETA has been ratified (by the Harper government), the TPP still has to be ratified by Parliament.

            Significant opposition has developed against the TTIP in Europe, and against the TPP in the USA, Mexico, Canada and Japan.  The TPP has dominated the US election, as the real impacts of capitalism globalization become felt: mass job losses and unemployment, de-industrialization and loss of sovereignty; slashed wages, benefits, and working conditions and pensions; reduced social expenditures; environmental degradation; and loss of civil, democratic and labour rights...

            If the US does not ratify the TPP, the deal is effectively dead. That is why Trudeau and the Liberals are waiting before opening up a debate in Parliament that can only cost them support and congeal a growing extra-parliamentary opposition. This is why the campaign against the TPP needs to ramp up. The Liberals need to know that they’ll have a fight on their hands from coast to coast. This deal can be defeated – as were the MAI and the FTAA – but a strong, vocal and visible opposition is crucial. 


Printer-friendly article








By Pamela Palmater, November 1, 2016,


            Canada has promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as being in the “best interests” of the national economy, promising more jobs and export opportunities while claiming it will also improve social conditions, reduce poverty and include strong environmental protections. An economic impact assessment of the TPP released in September by Global Affairs Canada estimates GDP gains of about $4.3 billion by 2040 if Canada ratifies the deal, and GDP losses of $5.3 billion if it doesn’t. Both amounts are essentially rounding errors—the equivalent of a few months’ worth of normal economic growth—but that didn’t stop TPP supporters using the announcement to urge the Trudeau government to commit, sooner than later, to firmly endorsing the agreement.


            Lost in all the hype is the question of whether Canada can legally ratify the TPP—even if the Trudeau government decides that’s what it would like to do. Had the government asked this question of First Nations in Canada, the answer would likely have been no.


            Canada has, once again, wrongly assumed it has the legal and political authority to negotiate a major international free trade agreement that would significantly impact the constitutionally and internationally protected rights of Indigenous peoples and their lands, waters and resources without their consent. Much of Canada has never been ceded or surrendered by Indigenous Nations. Decisions from Canada’s Supreme Court confirm that unceded Indigenous lands can be claimed as Aboriginal title, which amounts to the exclusive use, ownership, benefit and control of specific territories by Indigenous Nations.


            Aboriginal title rights are protected in Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution, making the Indigenous right to make decisions over their lands and resources the highest law in the country. Canada was therefore required to obtain the consent of First Nations before engaging in TPP negotiations. Had this consent been granted, Canada should then have included First Nation representatives in the negotiation process. Neither of these steps happened, which calls into question the legality of any Canadian ratification or implementation of the TPP.


            A major part of the problem is that this deal was negotiated in secrecy by the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper. Neither First Nations nor Canadians were asked for their views about Canada joining the TPP or subsequently given a role in the negotiation process. (An online consultation quietly advertised in the Canada Gazette in December 2011 was clearly targeted at business groups, as it sought advice only “on the scope of possible free trade negotiations between Canada and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) members,” which assumes Canadian entry.)


            In fact, the actual text of the agreement was not shared publically until November 2015, after five years of secrecy. Keeping the negotiating details from First Nations violated Canada’s constitutional obligations to act honourably and in good faith by sharing all relevant information with a view to obtaining consent prior to making any decisions that might impact rights and title. So, from the very beginning, Canada’s participation in the TPP contravened the Constitution. The government’s failure to consult and obtain the consent of First Nations at each phase since then has compounded the legal uncertainty of the agreement.


            However, the TPP is by no means a done deal. While all 12 participating states signed off on the text of the TPP in February 2016, it still needs to be ratified by at least six countries, representing 85% of the TPP region’s economic output, by February 2018 for it to take effect. Each country also has to implement the agreement in its own legislature and there is no guarantee that Canada will end up with the support it needs to make this happen. If the current level of opposition to the TPP by civil society groups and Indigenous peoples is any indication, Prime Minister Trudeau faces an uphill battle.


            Even prominent Americans like Bernie Sanders and U.S. presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump have said the TPP is a bad deal and should not be ratified. Canadian civil society groups have raised concerns related to negative impacts on the cost of medicine and health care, the environment, postal and auto workers, and even copyright rules. Still others worry that it will increase corporate powers and erode Canadian sovereignty by allowing transnational corporations to sue countries in private hearings not subject to Canadian laws.


            With regard to First Nations, the potential impacts are substantial and can’t be remedied after the fact (i.e., after ratification). The transfer to third parties of lands, waters, natural resources or any other property interest (timber licences, for example) is a diminution of Aboriginal title and requires consent. The TPP purports to establish rules related to timber and other products extracted from Indigenous lands in Canada without first obtaining First Nation consent. The TPP fails to include specific provisions related to First Nation decision-making, control or benefit on any and all exports from their lands.


            Trading relations with First Nations and negotiated treaties are the founding blocks of the state known as Canada. Even the Supreme Court has noted that trade was a critical aspect of developing and maintaining peace between First Nations and colonial governments. Furthermore, some of the treaty provisions also recognize the authority of First Nations over important economic and governance matters such as control of trade within their sovereign territories. Some treaties, especially those with the Mi’kmaq, specifically protected the right of First Nations to trade to their best advantage; these Aboriginal and treaty rights, agreements and practices now form part of Canada’s Constitution.


            Canada acted outside of its constitutional authority when it denied First Nations information about, and access to negotiations and decision-making related to, the TPP. The government exacerbated the problem by failing to include provisions in the TPP that recognize First Nation decision-making (and benefit) over trade, while enshrining legal rights to investors that could undermine Indigenous land and food security, and sovereign governance generally.


            Some UN experts point out the TPP and similar free trade and investment deals seriously threaten Indigenous land rights and natural resources, while others have denounced the TPP for how it will undermine state sovereignty and fail to protect international human rights. In undermining the capacity of states to protect Indigenous rights from being violated by transnational corporations, they argue, the TPP could lead to gross human rights violations and other significant threats to international peace and security, including negative impacts to food sources, water, health and living conditions. The evidence shows that investor–state dispute settlement cases under existing bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements can result in severe penalties when states attempt to protect the environment, food or access to medicines.


            Many of these experts have collectively called for the TPP to be amended to include protections for Indigenous and human rights. Here at home, the TPP is also inconsistent with Canada’s pledge to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which protects Indigenous lands and enshrines the guarantee to free, informed and prior consent. As a result, the TPP violates the core principles and obligations of international law and Indigenous human rights and should not be ratified.


            The interests at stake vis-à-vis First Nations are significant and demand a serious consideration before the TPP gets to the debate stage in Parliament. In fact, the legal deficiencies and potential impacts on First Nation rights are so substantial that Canada should be required to start over. There is no such thing as retroactive consultation and consent. The legal defect is so substantial that, on balance, the TPP can’t be saved—at least not in its present form.


            While some may think this a drastic measure, one need only refer to the Northern Gateway pipeline controversy as an example of what happens when governments ignore First Nations. The Federal Court of Appeal recently held that if governments are not prepared to engage in proper consultations with First Nations, they should be prepared to watch their project approvals fail—no matter what their stated economic benefit.


            If, in the words of the Court, “brief, hurried and inadequate” consultations do not suffice for a pipeline, a complete lack of consultations on an arguably more consequential Pacific free trade zone is unlikely to pass a similar legal test.


            On September 22, First Nations in Canada and Tribes in the United States signed a historic treaty alliance vowing to stop pipelines on Indigenous lands. First Nations have taken back their power.


            It’s long past time to start talking to First Nations. The TPP is dead in the water otherwise.

Printer-friendly article








People’s Voice Editorial


            One of the most appalling aspects of the U.S. presidential campaign was the flood of misinformation, from the National Enquirer (Donald Trump’s bizarre propaganda sheet) to websites pumping out utter nonsense from tiny European fiefdoms. The impact of such trash is obvious; many voters appear to have little ability to sift out facts from fantasy, and often seem not to care. The deliberate lie that the polls would be swamped by illegal voters, for example, was carefully fostered by the Trump campaign, as part of a sustained racist effort to suppress votes in Black and Latino communities.


            Part of the problem arises from the long-term destruction of the U.S. public school system, leaving the population poorly educated in basic concepts of science. A recent Gallup poll, for example, found that 42% of Americans believe that “God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years.” (On the positive side, the number of those who still deny global warming is now less than one in five.) Another disturbing Gallup poll found that 4 in 10 Americans still wrongly believe that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction” after the illegal US/UK invasion of 2003. And of course, many still think that Barack Obama is a Muslim.


            Today, millions of U.S. working people face mass unemployment and poverty, giving the pedlars of racism and fascism wide scope to push their lies. To “make America great again,” just elect a strong leader, they say, and shazam! The trade deals that destroyed your jobs will vanish, Islamic State will be crushed, and all will be well. But the truth is that only a united, conscious working class has the power to resist the corporate gangsters who control the U.S. (and Canada). And that power comes from knowledge, not ignorance.

 Printer-friendly article








People’s Voice Editorial


            After a period of inaction, the campaign for affordable and democratic post-secondary education is gaining new momentum. The Canadian Federation of Students reports that on November 2, thousands of students demanding free education rallied on 58 campuses, in 36 cities across every province.


            “Fight the Fees” marks a new stage in this struggle, particularly in English-speaking Canada, where the student movement has traditionally called for tuition freezes or roll-backs. Occasionally, campaigns around these demands have achieved temporary successes, in provinces where NDP or Liberal governments sought to win electoral support. But the long term trend has been a rapid escalation of tuition fees, while working class students face tighter job markets and rising housing costs. Meanwhile, awareness has grown that post-secondary education is free in many other countries, from socialist Cuba to capitalist France and Germany, and developing countries such as Brazil.


            As the CFS says, “November 2 marked a point from which students will not turn back. Exorbitant tuition fees and record levels of student debt have created a crisis that demands fundamental change. The only solution is the outright elimination of tuition fees in favour of a universal system of public post-secondary education.”


            A growing number of Canadians agree that education is a right, not a privilege, and that a fully public post-secondary education is at the core of a just, equitable and fair society. The CFS National Day of Action was backed by more than 90 labour unions, civil society organizations and community groups. Just as significant, the Nov. 2 organizers prioritized the need to work in solidarity with the powerful Quebec student movement to build a truly pan-Canadian struggle. There is huge potential to mobilize around this critical issue, as part of a broad


People’s Coalition for fundamental change.

Printer-friendly article








PV Vancouver Bureau


            Five hundred maritime workers and their allies rallied in Vancouver on Nov. 2, against the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and proposed changes to the Canada Transportation Act.


            Most of those who marched to the Burrard Street offices of Transport Canada were members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, but others joined in. Delegates from the Hospital Employees Union annual convention at the Hyatt Hotel came out to greet the marchers and sing “Solidarity Forever”. The rally was supported by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), the BC Federation of Labour, the Vancouver & District Labour Council, the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union, and others.


            Maritime unions warn that corporate rights deals such as CETA and the Trans Pacific Partnership threaten the “cabotage” rules which govern the transport of goods. CETA would essentially bring Canada into the cabotage-free European zone, ending any protection for the domestic shipping industry.


            CETA was signed in Brussels by Justin Trudeau and EU leaders, but the deal will not take effect until ratified by the parliaments of all the countries involved, a process which remains very much in doubt.


            ILWU predicts the deal would begin to pull Canadian crew from commercial vessels such as tugs, ferries and barges - and eventually from passenger ships - that sail between Canadian ports. This is done already through waivers of cabotage regulations, but CETA will mean the complete elimination of such rules.


            One example of the consequences was the recent diesel fuel spill off the coast near Bella Bella, north of Vancouver. The tug which sank in that accident was foreign-flagged and operated by non-Canadians who were less familiar with the local waters.


            Another example is a cable-laying ship off Victoria on an eight-year contract, excused from hiring a single Canadian worker, and paying their crew as little as $4 per hour.


            In a recent statement, ILWU Canada President Rob Ashton wrote, “As you all know Canada is attempting to sign onto the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). This is only the beginning of the attacks on Canadian workers and Canadian sovereignty through “Free Trade Agreements”.


            “Why is CETA such a bad deal for the ILWU and Canada? CETA will effectively destroy our cabotage laws which protect Canadian shipping companies and Canadian seafarers from foreign vessels trading within Canadian waters. CETA will allow foreign vessels to enter our waters and take over coastal trade within Canada using foreign crews whom they pay as little $3 to $4 per hour. The safety standards for these vessels are substandard putting our coastlines in jeopardy and displacing our Canadian seafarers costing our country thousands of jobs.


            “The environmental stewardship of our coasts will be forgotten; our waterways will be sailed by corporations who have no consideration for the environment and our tug boats will be operated by foreign crews who are unfamiliar with our coast nor care about our coast as much as we do.


            “Under CETA and all future trade agreements there is a clause written in the Investor State Dispute Settlement system, commonly known as ISDS. Under this program, if a government tries to change their laws or regulations to better run their country, a corporation that is affected by the change has the ability to sue the government thus taking away our rights to govern our own country, and could very well leave rulings in the hands of global corporations and a global court system.


            “CETA, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) are the most recent forms of free trade agreements that have hit the news involving Canada, and every one of those deals is unfavourable to workers in Canada. Each allowing many, many freedoms under the guise of moving goods in and out of our country. The question remains should we trade at any cost? Should we enter trade deals that attack an industry of Canadian workers? How will we keep Canadian jobs for Canadian workers? Do we have to go to the lowest wage so corporations can make maximum profits? This is the only reason behind global trade deals.”


            As Ashton concluded, “We are protecting our way of life and we intend to hold our governments accountable on `real change’ as they promised, rather than the same old way of life under the past Harper government. The ILWU is under attack, if we do not rally together to protect our seafarers it is only a matter of time until they come after the rest of us!”

Printer-friendly article








By Nora Loreto, Canadian Association of Labour Media


Police in Quebec are spying on journalists.


            The revelation started when La Presse discovered that the Montreal Police put its columnist Patrick Lagacé under surveillance. It's grown to include some journalists at Radio-Canada who are being spied on by the Surété du Québec, the provincial police force.


            There are two ways that one could react to this news, and both include outrage. The first is outrage over the intrusion into the privacy of journalists, who are a privileged class of individuals. The very foundation of their work requires that they not be intimidated or spied on by state security forces.


            The second way to respond requires a more systemic approach. Rather than privileging any member of society, it starts from this basis: what right to police have to spy on anyone?


            The latter response is less popular, though critical if we are to understand how the surveillance apparatus of the Canadian state is intimidating, shifting, manipulating and, most importantly, silencing researchers, social activists and journalists.


            I know that many journalists won't like to be lumped together with anarchists. But to separate these two groups when we talk about surveillance creates a false dichotomy between people who deserve to be subjected to some level of surveillance and others who do not.


            There are very good reasons to look at how these forms of surveillance work together: when laws are used to suppress citizens who express their free speech and free expression to challenge the state, it's naive to imagine that similar repression won't be used on others.


            We need to consider the systemic use of surveillance because what's happening in Quebec isn't an isolated incident. It's not even the first story of its kind this year. In September, police seized the computers of Journal de Montréal reporter Michael Nguyen after he reported that a judge called some special constables "stupid" and "very stupid" ("imbeciles" and "cons") because they struggled to open an electronic door.


            It's also not simply isolated to Quebec. The RCMP has forced Vice reporter Ben Makuch to court to compel him to turn over text messages from a source. One way or another, Canadian police believe they're entitled to this information.


            You can imagine that had they had the power to simply track Makuch's text messages to avoid all of this, they probably would have.


            Canadian security forces spy on certain Canadians all the time. When I was a student activist at Ryerson a decade ago, CSIS would regularity check in with various members of our board, just to see how they were.


            During the G20 in Toronto, everyone seemed to have stories of encounters with undercover police. My own encounter was with a man who followed me for blocks as I walked along Church Street. His big mistake was to keep his police haircut and not wash his civvies before he put them on: T-shirt creases are a dead giveaway.


            But I wasn't arrested during the G20, and the guy that followed me didn't try to pass himself off as an activist. He just tailed me to my office. He didn't cozy up to me to pump me for information to use against me later to put me in jail


            No, that treatment was left for the radical organizers, mostly anarchists who ultimately were charged, a few who landed in jail for nearly two years. Police joined organizations, became peoples' friends and participated in planning protest actions. As one friend of mine said to me right after they were exposed: "Wow, who would have suspected that the minute-taker was the cop?"


            These deep intrusions into people's privacy sew fear and distrust among social activists and can upend solidarity. Police know this. But the real-life infiltration is risky and costly: it's no surprise that digital surveillance is so appealing.


            The G20 was an exercise in crowd control: while the actual threat level against global leaders was very low, it offered a real-life training opportunity to practice kettling protesters, running people over with horses and bashing some heads.


            And, journalists were caught up in the fray just like everyone else.


            This is where the connection between surveillance of the Left, and mainstream journalists converge: the tactics used against one will be used against the other. When we get used to police carding Black Torontonians, we also get used to carding in general. That, when Indigenous activists and environmental protesters are painted as ecoterrorists, we get used to violence used against them, as if it will never be used against us too, someday.


            The protests at Muskrat Falls in Labrador again reminds us: when a confrontation intensifies, journalists like Justin Brake don't get a pass just because they're present to report, rather than being present to protest.


            When Bill C-51 was born, there was a general consensus that the sweeping legislation gave police too many powers, and the impact it could have on journalists was especially concerning. Harper might be gone, but the powers he gave to security forces remains.


            Any legislation that can be used to spy on journalists, like Bill C-51 for example, will be used to spy on journalists. As Vice News reported earlier this week, police may be spying through the powers given to them under a law ostensibly meant to stop cyber-harassment.


            (Full cynical marks for the legislator who managed to kill those two birds with this legislative stone, though.)


            Legislation or practices that are used to crush social movement organizing are no different: they too will be used against journalists.


            The role of journalism is to challenge power and this means that journalists are at risk of being targeted by the state. If we must decide between special status for some, versus broad protections against spying and surveillance for all, choose your side wisely. Because when we restrict the freedoms of some, we open the door for governments to restrict the freedoms of all, journalists included.


Printer-friendly article








By Peter Marcus, Vancouver


            The 30th Biennial Convention of the Hospital Employees' Union (an affiliate of CUPE and the oldest health care union in British Columbia,  representing 46,000 members) began on October 31 with solidarity greetings from Joey Hartman, President of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, and the next day from Irene Lanzinger, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour


            A presentation on the crucial Dr. Brian Day case in B.C. Superior Court was made by Dr. Rapinder Brar of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and Adam Lynes-Ford of the B.C. Health Coalition, who spoke out against Day's promotion of U.S.-style extra billing, privatization and the destruction of Canada's public health care system.


            Charles Fleury and Mark Hancock, Secretary Treasurer and President respectively of CUPE National, complimented HEU and its leadership and emphasized the importance of ousting the Christie Clark Liberal government and electing the NDP on May 9 next year. 


            Provincial NDP leader John Horgan told the 600 delegates that he would implement the $15 minimum wage and a $10 a day child care program, and eliminate the remaining parts of Bill 29, which prepared the ground for contracting out support services like housekeeping, food services and laundry in 2004. But Horgan was vague on plans to alleviate the housing and education crises, and he said nothing about public transit, pipelines, fracking and the Site C dam construction, especially as they affect the environment, farming and indigenous lands.


            Health Sciences Association President Val Avery brought greetings emphasizing the relationship between the two unions, especially against raiding by the B.C Nurses' Union


            Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and his wife Joan spoke about their activism on indigenous issues. They recently went to Standing Rock in solidarity with water protectors opposing the North Dakota Access Pipeline, and Grand Chief Phillip was arrested during the Burnaby Mountain protests against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. They want their children and grandchildren to live in a peaceful world, with clean water and air.


            A powerful video on the Highway of Tears in northern B.C., where indigenous girls and women have gone missing, was presented along with indigenous women dancers to the music of A Tribe Called Red.


            A resolution was adopted to support the CUPE red dress campaign, whereby red dresses will be displayed to draw public attention to murdered and missing women. Another proposal supporting the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was also passed.


            Delegates passed resolutions on housing, addiction and mental health throughout the province, and restoring inexpensive bus passes for those with disabilities. The union’s Care Can't Wait Campaign was endorsed, along with a call for a renewed cost-shared Health Accord between the provinces and the Federal Government. Opposition to private, for profit surgical clinics and a call for enforcement of the Canada Health Act was endorsed by the convention. Another resolution said the “HEU will not support charities that deny access to or do not support LGBTQ+ community.”


            Missing in the deliberations were international issues, including war and peace, and issues such as public ownership of the banks and energy. Half of the convention time was spent on internal matters such as constitutional amendments, in contrast to other unions and the houses of labour which deal with one or two amendments at a convention. One significant amendment to have conventions every three years instead of two was defeated. 


            There was no debate on the HEU's almost unquestioning support for the NDP, rather than a strategy of mass independent labour political action and coalition-building.


            The convention elected Victor Elkins for a third term as President, and Donisa Bernardo for a sixth term as Financial Secretary by acclamation. Jennifer Whiteside was endorsed as Secretary Business Manager.


Printer-friendly article








By Nino Pagliccia, November 2016


            In the world of foreign policy new terminology regularly appears to describe new circumstances, but often it aims at hiding the same old events, and trying to gain the acceptance of questionable actions. It is usually the Empire doing that with its dominant language.


            Take for instance the expression “collateral damage”. It is a euphemism to justify the killing of so-called “non-combatants”, really meaning “civilians”. Killing of school children has been considered “collateral damage” following indiscriminate bombings.


            Some attribute the origin of the expression to the bombing in Vietnam, others to the Gulf War of 1991. It continues de facto today in the Middle East in the so-called  “war on terror”, another of those misleading expressions, which many observers consider more correctly support for terrorism by the U.S.


            More recently, we often hear the expression “soft coup”, especially in the context of a new wave of regime change in Latin America. This is a contradiction.


            A coup d’état is the violent overthrow of a government. And there is nothing “soft” about something that is forceful and possibly against the law or criminal. In addition, a coup is likely to result in serious “collateral damage” on innocent people, civilians.


            We also hear a similar phrase, “parliamentary coup”. This is even more of a contradiction. We think of a Parliament as a democratic institution of a State, or it should be. So this actually means a coup d’état that is given to another branch of the état, the State.


            This is not semantics.


            It is a language that is coined intentionally by some branch of the U.S. State Department, and propagated by a compliant corporate media, to make us believe something other than the truth, or to suggest a negative implication. It is almost inevitable to see references to Cuba as “communist-run Cuba”. While this is not totally incorrect, the implicit intention is questionable. There is never a reference to the U.S. as “capitalist-run United States”, which would in fact be true.


            It is a language that uses words whose meaning diverts our attention from the deeper significance.


            It’s a language that aims at sanitizing events that are otherwise serious and unlawful, often, unconstitutional.


            It attempts to predispose our minds to ignore what is obvious, like in a magic show. It co-opts us to accept unlawful events or actions committed by U.S. exceptionalism.


            Not to some, but to many who take language at face value. To many who will not take the time to understand the motivation behind it.


            It is imperative to question and reject the language of the empire. Once that is done, the real intentions of the colonizer will be recognized.


           The motivation behind a coup is the real issue. It is not important how a coup is given, but the reason why the coup is given, and by whom. The ideology behind a coup is the true gauge.


            For example, Hugo Chavez attempted a coup in Venezuela in 1992. The reason was very clear: to put an end to the corrupt government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, and those before him, to channel the wealth of Venezuela to relieve the endemic poverty of the majority of Venezuelans, and to build true democratic values in Venezuela and in Latin America. His guiding principles were those of Simón Bolívar.


            In Cuba, Fidel Castro attempted a coup in 1953. The reason was very clear: to remove dictator Fulgencio Batista and free Cuba from foreign domination.


             Today we are witnessing a new wave of U.S.-sponsored coups in Latin America: military, soft, parliamentary, what have you. It is the same old U.S. obsession of regime change with a more “palatable” name, but the same old dog tricks.


             The ideology is always the same: brutal capitalism, imperial expansionism, political domination, economic exploitation, and land occupation.


             Latin America has had way too many CIA interventions that have established dictatorships through bloody coups. It is our task to spell out any misleading notion around those coups before they get engraved in the history books. Ultimately, it is imperative to stop all neoliberal coups.

 Printer-friendly article








By Sakura Saunders October 31, 2016, from NOW Magazine, Toronto,


             As corporate lobbyists work behind the scenes to pressure the Trudeau government into backing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, groups organizing to stop the deal held a teach-in at Steelworker's Hall last month.


             The event, organized by Leadnow, OpenMedia, Council of Canadians, Common Frontiers, United Steel Workers, Unifor, Fight for the Future and People's Climate Movement, was held to highlight the effects the 6,000-page trade agreement, which will create the world's largest “free-trade” zone, will have on everything from environmental policy to public health.


             Toronto-based doctor Chetan Mehta, an attendee at the teach-in, doesn't have to look beyond his own practice to contemplate the possible impacts TPP will have on patients he treats for Hepatitis C.


             His community health clinic has treated 10 people in the last year living with the highly- transmittable – and treatable – virus. Treatment for one person, a once-daily pill known by the brand name Harvoni and made by U.S. drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences, can run anywhere between $60,000 to $200,000. It's cheaper than the alternative – a full liver transplant.


             But if a generic version of the drug were available, it could cost as little as $192 a treatment, according to an April 2015 study published by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.


             Only, Harvoni enjoys exclusive access to the US and Canadian markets until 2028, thanks to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which mandates patent protection for at least 20 years for pharmaceuticals. Now, the TPP is threatening to extend those protections. Doctors Without Borders has dubbed the intellectual property, investment and pharmaceutical pricing provisions in the TPP “the most harmful trade pact ever... to access affordable generic medicines in developing countries”


             Within the WTO, African countries fought for and won exceptions to patent protections when taking measures to protect public health. Previously, a country would have had to have first attempted unsuccessfully to obtain a voluntary license from a patent holder on "reasonable commercial terms."


             But push-back from countries within the WTO clarified that any nation could determine intellectual property rights in cases related to public health "without challenge." The meant countries could not be sued by pharmaceutical companies based on different interpretations on what constituted "reasonable commercial terms," or the "national emergencies" that would warrant exception to these intellectual rights.


             Under current patent laws set by the WTO, Canada has leverage to negotiate lower drug prices. Ontario participates in the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) with companies such as Gilead Sciences on cheaper drug prices.


             According to the pCPA, as of April 1, 2016 "these collaborative efforts between provinces and territories have resulted in 95 completed joint negotiations on brand name drugs and price reductions on 18 generic drugs. This has resulted in an estimated $712 million in combined savings annually."  Harvoni is one of these drugs, although what price the province has negotiated is privileged information.


             But new patent protections under the TPP would undermine the power of any country to keep these essential drug prices low.


             For instance, the TPP introduces new protections on data concerning the safety and efficacy of a patented product for five years after the approval of that drug. Not allowing other manufacturers to use this data is a backdoor tactic to prevent the manufacture of generic drugs, as this information is essential to their production.


             In the case of Harvoni, which was approved for commercial sale in 2014, six years after its patent application was filed, these new conditions would have delayed access to this vital information for 11 years.


             What's more, the TPP raises the obstacles of what is patentable to include new formulations and uses of a known product. For example, an injectable form of a drug could trigger another 20 years of protection.


             Doctors Without Borders points out that the TPP contains provisions that enable pharmaceutical companies to sue governments for compensation by claiming that public policies have deprived them of their anticipated profits.


             Mehta estimates that it would cost Ontario's health care system tens-of-millions to treat Hep C cases using Harvoni at current retail rates. He worries about what increasing patent protection under TPP will mean for future access to the drug. Right now, there is no alternative.


             “I've now watched a couple patients experience liver failure and be on the brink of falling off the edge,” he explains. “I can't stomach having more of these cases because of Hep C, which is now entirely treatable.”


             With patent policies already producing such obscene consequences for public health,  expanding these protections is the wrong direction to take not only for Canada, but all of the countries who fought for the right to place their public health over corporate profits.


Printer-friendly article








In a major victory for free speech, the Vancouver Sun newspaper has been forced to issue this statement of apology to Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), and to print the commentary below written by the organization. “A Vancouver Sun editorial published on August 25 entitled “Green Party Lost Its Way” made certain statements about Independent Jewish Voices and, by association, Corey Levine, based on reports from other media and advocacy groups. In particular, based on new information provided by IJV, the Vancouver Sun retracts its statements that IJV denies the Holocaust, supports Iran or encourages terrorism against Israelis. The Vancouver Sun apologizes for not providing proper attribution and to IJV and Corey Levine for the unsubstantiated statements.”


Independent Jewish Voices believes in human rights for everyone


             Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) is an organization comprised of Jewish Canadians who share a commitment to social justice and universal human rights. IJV has challenged other organizations that represent Jewish Canadians to engage in public debate about the ongoing crisis in Israel-Palestine. Instead of agreeing to publicly debate their positions, these groups have chosen instead to vilify us.


             The Vancouver Sun published an editorial opposing the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. When IJV objected to how it was characterized in the editorial, the Sun apologized and withdrew the editorial. While we are pleased that The Sun's parent organization, Postmedia Network, agreed to remove this editorial from its websites and apologize for mischaracterizations of IJV, readers deserve an explanation of what this dispute is about.


             We believe that the human rights of everyone, including Palestinians, deserve protection. We believe that Israel has been violating Palestinians' human rights for decades by maintaining an illegal occupation, expanding its illegal settlements, and that Israel refuses to address what we consider is the institutionalized discrimination experienced by its Palestinian citizens. In our opinion, the Canadian government's support for Israel reinforces Israel's sense of impunity and its intransigence with regard to these issues.


             Canadians should be aware of our view that the three demands of BDS are: ending Israel's illegal occupation and tearing down the separation barrier that takes away portions of Palestinian territory; providing equal rights for Israel's Palestinian citizens; and promoting the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or receive compensation for having been forcibly displaced, as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. IJV believes that we must use BDS to apply pressure on Israel until it complies with international law and respects Palestinians' human rights.


             IJV encourages all forms of public debate and discussion on contentious political issues relating to the situation in Israel and Palestine, including the Green Party of Canada’s debate on the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada. We believe this issue warrants further public debate and discussion.


             Opposition to Israel's violations of international law and its mistreatment of Palestinians does not make us "anti-Israel." Furthermore, the notion that IJV is anti-Jewish is absurd. Far from being anti-Jewish, IJV is proudly Jewish, being grounded in Jewish values that promote social justice for all. These values guide our demand that Canada stop enabling Israel's endless subjugation of the Palestinians.


             Finally, we — as well as the Palestinian leaders of the BDS movement — insist that there is no justification for any form of racism, including antisemitism, and that the battle against real antisemitism is undermined when Israel's supporters label those who criticize Israel's discriminatory laws and policies as antisemitic.


             - Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Printer-friendly article