CPC(M-L) HOME TML Daily Archive Le Marxiste-Léniniste quotidien

October 29, 2013 - No. 122

Conservative Party National Policy Convention

Join the Work to Defeat the
Harper Dictatorship!

Say No! to Harper Dictatorship
Conservative National Policy Convention
Calgary, October 31-November 2


CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Conservative Party National Policy Convention
Join the Work to Defeat the Harper Dictatorship!
Defeat Harper in His Own Backyard

Public Right not Monopoly Right!
Canada-Europe Free Trade Agreement Attacks Alberta Dairy Producers
- Dougal MacDonald

Rights and Status for All Workers!
Harper Government Seeks to Reinstate Fast-Track System for
Temporary Foreign Workers
- Peggy Askin 

Stand Up for Science!
Edmonton Scientists and Allies Oppose Harper Attacks on Science


Conservative Party National Policy Convention

Join the Work to Defeat the Harper Dictatorship!

According to the Conservatives, their National Policy Convention taking place in Calgary from October 31 to November 2 is an opportunity for those attending to have a say in the future of Canada as they prepare for the next election in 2015. It is simply not possible to convince Canadians that the Conservatives are holding a convention to involve anyone in decision-making. The unfolding scandals surrounding Harper, the Prime Minister's Office and the Conservative Party show that even the most highly-placed people within this small circle can be pilloried and excommunicated at the whim of the Prime Minister. It is truly the Harper dictatorship. Those outside the convention, who have come with their claims and strong spirit to defeat the Harper dictatorship, reflect the demand of Canadians to become the decision-makers.

The cartel political parties no longer function as organizations in which citizens can participate with other like-minded people to debate and form policy. Fewer than 2 per cent of Canadians belong to any political party, much less among the youth. The reality has become that the Conservative Party does not need members, only money, and the same is true of all the cartel parties. The Conservatives have proven themselves the most successful in raising money and spending it, flouting the rules surrounding campaign expenses in the most flagrant manner. The cost of the new database, which the Conservatives developed to track not just donors and supporters but all Canadians, is reported to be over $7 million and possibly as high as $9 million. This database is to replace the old system, the Constituent Information Management System (CIMS).

Such expenditures are used to carry out electoral coups, using fraudulent high-tech voter targeting and voter suppression. This allowed the Conservatives to take state power with only 24.3 per cent of the eligible votes.

This is the method that has been adopted to carry out the neo-liberal anti-social offensive and the demand of the financial oligarchs that public right be subordinated to monopoly right. It is not possible to win the approval of Canadians for this agenda through debate and discussion. This means the aim is not to develop public opinion but to destroy it and replace it with methods of political campaigning and winning elections that wreck the political culture of the society. Everyone can see the results with their own eyes.

From the time the delegates register at the BMO Centre in Stampede Park on October 31, until the end of the Convention on November 2, actions and events in opposition to the Harper anti-social agenda are being held to affirm that the people have the right to take the decisions over all aspects of their lives and the future of Canada. The working class and its allies as a politicized social force are more than capable of confronting the ruling elite and depriving them of their power. TML calls on all its readers to join the work to defeat the Harper dictatorship in the next federal election and to demand a new direction for the economy!

Return to top


Defeat Harper in His Own Backyard

The Conservative Party is holding its convention in Calgary beginning October 31 amidst an ever-growing stench of fraud, corruption, cover-up, bullying and scandal. From the beginning of the Convention through the weekend, workers, First Nations and a broad section of people who represent the growing number of Canadians determined to STOP HARPER! will picket, rally and hold discussions. Momentum is growing, as people prepare for this opportunity to show the Harperites what they are up against in the next election. This momentum reflects the determination to hold this unaccountable government to account.

Without a doubt the Harperites consider they "own" Calgary as safe home turf. Stephen Harper was first elected as a Reform Party MP in 1993 for Calgary West. He did not run again in 1997, instead accepting a position as Vice-President of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC). Harper served as Vice-President and then President of the NCC from 1998 to 2002. He then became leader of the Canadian Alliance, returning to the House of Commons as MP for Calgary Southwest. Harper was instrumental in organizing the takeover of the old Progressive Conservative Party by Reform/Alliance. His sidekick Jason Kenney has also made Calgary his home and gained prominence through a similar organization to the NCC, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, before his election in 1997 as a Reform Party MP.

Reform was born in 1987 amidst the widespread disgust with the scandals and corruption of the Mulroney government. With oil prices at about $10 a barrel ($21 in 2013 dollars), oil and gas had gone from boom to prolonged bust. Workers faced insecurity, unemployment and broad attacks on wages, working conditions and their organizations. The pay-the-rich schemes of the Mulroney government caused increased hardship for farmers and rural communities. Mulroney facilitated the robbing of the public treasury by agri-business while farmers and rural communities were left to fend for themselves. The owners of equity and debt in the Alberta oil patch were looking for a champion in Ottawa who would serve their interests. The Reform Party and later Alliance was financed by capital in the Calgary oil patch, heavily dominated by U.S. oil cartels.

Under these conditions, Harper pushed the slogan "the West wants in." To the Alberta-based oil and gas monopolies, this meant putting a government in Ottawa that would aggressively serve monopoly private interests at the expense of the public interest. To many Albertans suffering under prolonged economic crisis, this meant that they wanted their concerns addressed. The "west wants in" resonated with the old consciousness of "east vs. west" where Bay Street represented the centre of economic power. The callous indifference of the owners of capital to the interests of the workers and small farmers was expressed as being "as cold as a Bay Street banker's heart." In reality, the boardrooms in Toronto and Calgary did not represent different interests, as the banks and global energy cartels had long merged as finance capital.

The defeat of the Charlottetown Accord in 1992 showed the peoples' deep concern about the constitutional affairs of Canada and who should lay down the fundamental law of the land. It was a decisive moment where Canadians affirmed that they want a say in governance, as well as the decisive role in laying down the rules. In the 1993 federal election, the old Conservative Party was reduced to two seats, Reform elected 52 seats and the Bloc Quebecois became the official opposition. The question of where sovereignty lies -- with the monarch or residing in the people -- came to the fore.

The 1993 election reflected both the broad discontent that prevailed across Canada with the political process and the politicians, and the feeling that the people exercise no control over their affairs.

More than 25 years have passed since the birth of the Reform Party. All pretense that the forces of Reform/Alliance, now the Conservative Party, would bring about democratic renewal have been smashed to smithereens. Instead, the 1993 election signalled the end of the arrangements whereby the Party in Opposition was an alternative to the Party in Power. The election gave rise to a cartel party system. This cartel party system has enabled the Harper autocracy to rule, even when the Conservative Party held a minority in Parliament, because these cartel parties -- whether in government or in opposition -- serve an agenda dictated by the monopolies and stand for a neo-liberal vision and rule.

How to hold this government to account has become an urgent problem for solution, as every single day Harper's wrecking ball continues to smash everything of value to Canadians.

Do the Harperites really think that Albertans will stand by while he claims to represent western values? The Harperites and energy monopolies should watch out! The Workers' Opposition has put the question of Who Decides! on the agenda and is being joined by increasing numbers of Canadians.

Return to top


Public Right Not Monopoly Right!

Canada-Europe Free Trade Agreement Attacks
Alberta Dairy Producers

The Harper dictatorship announced on October 18 that agreement in principle has been reached with the European Union (EU) on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). A framework agreement was signed in Brussels by PM Harper and the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso but legal ratification of the deal will likely take two years, as it has to be signed by all countries involved and Canada's provinces. Harper's timing of the announcement was obviously a ploy to try to elevate his sagging reputation and to deflect public attention from his continuing criminality, including prorogation of Parliament, anti-worker legislation, attacks on First Nations, sell out of our resources to foreign monopolies, muzzling of scientists, Senate scandals and so on.

According to Harper, this new free trade agreement will be a great economic boon to Canadians. However, study after study shows that other free trade agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have very negatively affected the peoples of all the countries involved. For example, as a result of NAFTA, signed in 1994, Canada has been further penetrated by foreign monopolies, which exploit our workers and resources and then destroy entire communities by closing their operations. U.S. workers have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and Mexican farmers have been put out of business by U.S. agri-monopolies. The main reason that free trade agreements do not work in the public interest is that they are put into effect to serve the interests of the monopolies, not the interests of the people.

CETA is no exception. Although all negotiations for CETA have been conducted in secret, it is clear already that the agreement will certainly have a major negative effect on Alberta's dairy industry, particularly relating to the specialty cheese market because it will allow increased European cheese exports to Canada. In Canada, fluid milk represents about 38 per cent of milk production while manufactured products such as cheese, yogourt and ice cream represent about 62 per cent. Dairy processing is relatively concentrated, but Canadian dairy processors including those in Alberta are small when compared to global processors such as Nestlé. According to the Dairy Farmers of Canada, Canada's current tariff rate quota (TRQ) allows imports of 20,412 tonnes of cheese tariff-free, of which two-thirds of that TRQ is already allocated to EU cheese. CETA will give the EU an additional exclusive access of 32 per cent of the current fine cheese market.

Fluid milk production in Alberta will also obviously be affected by CETA because milk is the raw material of cheese making. In Alberta, dairy marketing is controlled by Alberta Milk, a non-profit marketing board, which, as part of the supply management system, acts on behalf of the milk producers. The supply management systems of the provinces are producer-controlled legally sanctioned organizations developed to fulfill the needs of agricultural producers and bring some stability to the sector. The supply management systems render account to the actual producers as to the price put on the value they have produced and the quantity to be supplied in relation to demand. They oppose the dogma of the ruling circles that some mysterious "free market" can set "fair" prices and harmonize the relation between supply and demand.

Every sector of the economy, except the odd rare niche, is dominated by global monopolies, and contrary to the dogma of "free markets," those monopolies manipulate prices and supply to suit their narrow interests, of which destroying or taking over smaller competitors and seizing their markets is a major preoccupation. European monopolies such as Nestlé amongst other things want to use CETA to wipe out the rare niche of Canada's supply management systems in dairy production and smash Canada's smaller dairy producers. Free markets under the control of the global monopolies represent monopoly right and freedom to dominate, control and wreck existing economic sectors and even entire economies.

Since February 2001, 100 per cent of Alberta's dairy producer revenues have been derived from the market, without subsidies. The milk marketed through supply management systems play an important role in the lives of the people. In Alberta, over 10,000 farmers, working people, and others rely on milk for their livelihoods. The Alberta dairy industry supports an estimated $2.5 billion in economic activity and contributed a record $1.27 billion to the provincial economy in 2005 (latest available figures). Supply management systems have a long and commendable record of maintaining stable and consistent prices for producers, processors and consumers, ensuring a constant and certain supply of quality products, and eliminating reliance on subsidies.

Harper and his private monopoly backers oppose supply management because it stands in the way of total monopoly control. John Manley, President and CEO of the Canadian Council of Executives, stated on April 10, 2012, on behalf of the corporate monopolies which he represents that he hoped the Harper government has "begun planning for some kind of transition from supply management." Manley added, "This is very much in the national interest to grow out of a national system that may have served us well at one time but has become an impediment to our own region and elsewhere."

Besides specifically attacking the dairy industry, CETA is one more step in the Harper dictatorship's longstanding plan to eliminate the supply management systems altogether. The arbitrary wrecking of the Canada Wheat Board against the express wish of the majority of wheat and barley producers was a major example of this strategy.

Stop the CETA Giveaway
- Statement by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, October 16 -

Dairy farmers will not support the Harper government agreeing to a deal with the EU that gives away the Canadian cheese market that Canadian dairy farmers and cheese makers have worked so hard to develop over the years.

Dairy Farmers of Canada is angered and disappointed with this news as the reality is that Canada would lose its small, artisan and local cheese makers and a world-leading industry with top quality products -- within a short time frame. If this deal proceeds, the Canadian government will have given the EU an additional exclusive access of 32 per cent of the current fine cheese market in Canada, over and above the existing generous access.

This deal would displace our local products with subsidized cheeses from EU and risk our small businesses being shut down or put out of business. This is unacceptable.

This potential deal is a loss for Canadian dairy farmers and industry. It would take income from Canadian dairy farmers and their communities and give it to the European industry. With this loss of farm income and squeeze on cheese makers, it is also taking economic development and jobs from Canadian communities.

For farmers, for communities and for every region of this country, there is no positive result to giving any additional access on cheese to the EU. Not when:

- The EU already has a large proportion of the Canadian cheese market. Canada's TRQ already allows imports of 20,412 tonnes of cheese tariff-free. Two-thirds of that is already allocated to the EU.

- Consumers will not see any difference in price as a result of this CETA giveaway as the vast majority of EU cheese already comes into Canada with little or no tariffs.

Our farmers are demanding that the government matches its actions with its words by standing up for Canada and the Canadian dairy industry by not giving away this flourishing Canadian cheese industry and its contribution to local economies.

Return to top


Rights and Status for All Workers!

Harper Government Seeks to Reinstate Fast-Track System for Temporary Foreign Workers

The Alberta Federation of Labour has released a report on the fast-track stream for the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) Program, known as the Accelerated Labour-Market Opinion (ALMO). ALMO was launched in April 2012 to provide employers with approval of an application to hire TFWs within ten business days. The program was announced in Nisku, Alberta -- a haven for non-union and company-controlled union (CLAC) shops. The aim of the ALMO, as with the entire TFW Program was to lower the standard of living of all Canadian workers.

The AMLO was withdrawn after one year amidst fierce opposition and the exposure of the scheme, which sanctioned the payment of wages up to 15 per cent below the average wage "so long as it can be clearly demonstrated that the same wages are being paid to Canadian workers." This went hand in hand with the changes forcing unemployed workers to accept lower wages or lose their benefits. From the vantage point of the rich, the AMLO is a brilliant scheme indeed to force unemployed workers to pull up stakes and move to other areas to work for 15 per cent less than the average wage.

The AFL points out that following its cancellation Jason Kenney claimed the program had not been used and "People cannot come into this country to work on work permits unless they are paid at the prevailing regional wage rates." Now that Jason Kenney has in effect added Minister for Forced Labour to his other titles, the Harperites are claiming they should bring back this anti-worker scheme.

The AFL's findings show that the ALMO was nothing more than a means for employers to make fraudulent applications, which would be approved without scrutiny. The ALMO program was supposed to be used only for managers and highly-skilled occupations, which the government claims are experiencing a labour shortage. An investigation by the AFL earlier in the year found that half of the employers whose applications were fast-tracked were actually hiring low-waged workers for fast-food restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores in occupations deemed unskilled by the TFW Program. McDonald's, Tim Hortons, A&W restaurants and Mac's convenience stores figure prominently. One company was approved to hire 20 temporary foreign worker managers for one restaurant. In Edmonton, McDonald's was approved to hire 15 "food service supervisors" at $11.75 an hour.

The Harper dictatorship loves to talk about how Canada's economy is in great shape, especially as compared to the rest of the world. Then in the blink of an eye this claim is followed by the demand that the workers must accept the dictate of the monopolies and the government must provide the rich with cheap labour. This is called the national interest and anyone who does not submit becomes an enemy of the Harper dictatorship, ergo an enemy of Canada.

Whether the latest omnibus budget bill C-4 or the TFW Program, the Harper dictatorship is pursuing slave labour arrangements on behalf of the monopolies with a vengeance. The TFW Program must be scrapped. Any such program must be restricted to providing work permits for genuinely short-term employment, such as academic exchanges. Permanent resident status with full rights must be granted to all current undocumented workers and TFWs resident in Canada based on the modern principles of Status for All and that People Have Rights by Virtue of Being Human.

Shut Down the Temporary Foreign Workers Program!
Jason Kenney Has Got to Go!

Return to top


Stand Up for Science!

Edmonton Scientists and Allies Oppose
Harper Attacks on Science

Edmonton scientists and their allies participated in a very lively public meeting on October 23 at the Alberta Art Gallery under the title "Get Science Right." The meeting, attended by about 120 people, was organized by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) as part of a series of ongoing Canada-wide regional town halls aimed at providing an opportunity for the public and scientists to look at what is happening in science and research, and discuss what should be done to improve the situation in the interests of the people.[1]

The Edmonton meeting featured a question and answer session involving a prestigious panel consisting of Dr. David Schindler, internationally renowned Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta (U of A) and founder of the Experimental Lakes Area Project[2]; Hanne Ostergaard, Professor of Medical Microbiology & Immunology at the U of A; Nils Petersen, Professor of Chemistry at the U of A and former Director General of the National Institute for Nanotechnology; and Stephen Slemon, Professor of English & Film Studies at U of A and President of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English.


Campaign poster for Get Science Right! -- click image for PDF.

All the speakers made a number of important points, focusing on how both the Harper and Redford governments are attacking science to serve private interests. Key issues that were emphasized included cuts to funding of important programs and scientists, which have the potential to inform decision-making on major challenges requiring scientific solutions, steering funding toward areas targeted as priorities by the governments providing the funding and their industry backers, increasing funding for commercial research at the expense of basic research (which does not yet have a specific application in view), appointment of more industry and political figures to boards of granting councils, muzzling of federal scientists, and arbitrary rejection of scientific findings that do not support government agendas. All the speakers firmly stated that governments at all levels must greatly increase their support for science that first and foremost serves the public interest.

Notes

1. CAUT is the national voice of 68,000 academic and general staff at universities and colleges across the country. For more information on CAUT's "Get Science Right" Campaign visit getscienceright.ca.

2. The Harper government is cancelling the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program, which focuses on research aimed at stopping threats to Canada's freshwater. Dr. Schindler is a member of a group of scientists and their allies calling themselves Save ELA. For more information visit saveela.org.

Return to top


Read The Marxist-Leninist Daily
Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca