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May 11, 2010 - No. 88

Hail the 65th Anniversary of the Victory Over Fascism!

The Overthrow of the Imperialist System
Is the Only Guarantee for Peace

April 30, 1945: The Soviet Victory Banner is raised over the German Reichstag in Berlin by Red Army soldiers,
shortly before the surrender of German forces in the city and the decisive victory over the fascists on May 9, 1945.
(RIA Novosti)

Hail the 65th Anniversary of the Victory Over Fascism!
The Overthrow of the Imperialist System Is the Only Guarantee for Peace

In the Parliament: For Your Information
Speaker's Ruling on Order to Produce Documents
Definition of Privilege

Hail the 65th Anniversary of the Victory Over Fascism!

The Overthrow of the Imperialist System
Is the Only Guarantee for Peace

May 9, 1945 the anti-fascist forces of the world with the Soviet Union and communists of all lands at the head of the Resistance Movement declared victory over the Hitlerite Nazis. On this memorable day 65 years ago, fascist Germany acknowledged defeat and declared unconditional surrender.

The turning point of the war was the historic Soviet victory at Stalingrad February 2, 1943 that concluded with the encirclement and surrender of a German army of 300,000 troops. This rout of the Nazi Wehrmacht, followed by a decisive victory at Kursk, began a powerful counteroffensive that drove the German Hitlerites steadily backward until the final demise of the Third Reich in Berlin.

Battle of Stalingrad: left: Soviet forces in combat; right: Soviet soldier waves the red banner of victory
on February 2, 1943 after the German surrender.

Of great assistance was the Allied landing at Normandy on June 6, 1944 (D-Day), which compelled Germany to wage war on two fronts. Unable to withstand the joint blows of the Red Army and Allied forces, the German troops quickly fled back to their own lands where they finally capitulated unconditionally.

As soon as Hitler was crushed in Berlin and even before the people could breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the heroic success of their accomplishments in the anti-fascist war, the "Western" imperialists led by the United States began their Cold War to "contain communism." This campaign to attack and stifle the democratic rights of the people was directly aimed at preventing progressive change across the entire world. It continues unabated to the present day with anti-communism at the core. A few examples are the formation and continual expansion of NATO, McCarthyism, the invasion and occupation of Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the arming and financing of the Suharto fascists in Indonesia, covert and not-so-covert wars and coup d'états in Latin America and so on. The period since the end of World War II has not been a time of "peace," as the imperialists try to claim, but one of continuous life and death struggles between progress and retrogression throughout the world, between the exploited of the world with the working class at the head and the exploiters led by the imperialist bourgeoisie.

As part of their attack on everything progressive, the U.S. imperialists and their minions have deliberately falsified the history of the Second World War. Today, the Red Army of that time is caricatured as being similar to the army of Hitler, as if communist and people's armies go about killing civilians and shooting prisoners, which is how Goebbels and the Nazis portrayed the Red Army. The imperialists relentlessly repeat all the old fascist accusations against communism and especially J.V. Stalin who led the Soviet Union and the worldwide victory against fascism. The most outrageous claims are made that Hitler and Stalin are "the same" and that "both bear responsibility for World War II," when it was the fascist states with the connivance of the Anglo-Americans and the French that started World War II, while the Soviet Union led the struggle to stop the war from ever beginning and finally to end it. What is the objective behind these falsifications? It could not be merely to discredit the enemies of imperialism posthumously because history cannot be rewritten in that fashion. Rather, it is to groom and egg on the fascist forces in the present, to give them every support to organize against the people in the here and now. The imperialists present to the world a totally fabricated falsehood called "Stalinism," suggesting this caricature is the same as its opposite, fascism. In fact, everything that is falsely blamed on the name and work of Stalin is exactly what the imperialists have been doing since the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1917 and the beginning of the Soviet nation-building project led by the working class to negate its exploiters and open a path for the emancipation of workers and oppressed people worldwide.

The truth is that the rulers of the U.S. were very unhappy that the Red Army crushed Hitler's forces at Stalingrad and broke the back of the Wehrmacht and its myth of invincibility. The deepest wish of the U.S. ruling elite was that Nazi Germany would smash the Soviet Union. This was an imperialist dream that went back prior to the founding of the Soviet Union. In 1918 the U.S. and 13 other countries invaded the newly born Soviet Russia, hoping to destroy it before the revolutionary workers and peasants could consolidate their nation-building project. Even as the "peacemakers" talked in Paris in 1919, tens of thousands of Allied soldiers were waging a bloody undeclared war against Socialist Russia and the revolutionary workers and peasants of 14 other nations fighting to join together in a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics free from imperialist exploitation and war.

Following World War I, the U.S. ruling class pursued a policy of using the contradictions among the European imperialist powers to further its own empire building and to profit from and weaken its European rivals, especially Britain and France. With the rise to power of the German Nazi Party in 1933, the U.S. saw in Nazi Germany a weapon to terrorize and dominate Europe and finally destroy the socialist Soviet Union. To this end, powerful monopolies in the U.S. such as Ford invested millions in Germany to strengthen its military for the planned invasions and war. Meanwhile, as the Nazis ruthlessly eliminated all opposition within Germany and militarized all aspects of life, Britain and France pursued a policy of conciliation and capitulation to fascism, and similar to the U.S. prodded Germany to prepare to march eastward.

All the efforts of the Soviet Union to oppose Germany by signing a mutual assistance pact with Britain and France failed. Instead, Britain and France meekly accepted the German Wehrmacht's invasion and annexation of Austria in March 1938, paving the way for the signing of the infamous Munich Agreement six months later in September allowing Germany free hand to occupy a major industrialized region of Czechoslovakia greatly strengthening its militarization and preparations for war. The Munich conciliation with fascism sealed the immediate fate of the peoples of Europe by giving Hitler the green light to invade other countries without a united opposition. The Soviet Union in particular was left on its own to prepare itself as best it could for the inevitable Nazi attack. As expected, 22 months later on June 22, 1941 Hitler's military invaded the Soviet Union along a 2,900 km front with over 4.5 million troops, 600,000 vehicles and tanks, 750,000 horses and thousands of aircraft. This barbaric invasion to crush the nation-building project of the Soviet working class and peasantry, annex their territory, seize their means of production and raw material and turn the people into slaves of the German monopolies was the largest military offensive in history. In the end, the resistance of the Soviet peoples led by Stalin and the Communist Party broke the back of the Nazi aggressors. Some 50 million people died and another 35 million were seriously wounded during the Anti-Fascist War with the peoples of the Soviet Union bearing the brunt of the casualties.

What is the main lesson of the Second World War?

In Causes and Lessons of the Second World War, Hardial Bains writes: "It is very important to understand that this entire propaganda on the question of the Second World War has an aim. Working people should not take it with folded arms because its object is to organize a fascist movement, to condone fascist aggression. If the Anglo-American bourgeoisie is successful in this, it will cause a disaster for the peoples of the world just as the Anglo-American policy caused the disaster of the Second World War. A repetition of this policy will bring the disaster of a Third World War. Our Party openly states that people should take the road of revolution. Our party will give the call for the overthrow of any government that participates in an imperialist and aggressive war. We have the right to do so in order to protect the people from the horrors of such a cataclysmic war. To protect the people from the horrors of inter-imperialist war is part of the tradition of the modern democratic movement, the entire struggle for the rights and freedoms of the people. The movement entrusts us with this stand. [...] The overthrow of the imperialist system is the only guarantee for peace. There is no other lasting way peace can be achieved. This is the lesson of the Second World War." (Hardial Bains, Causes and Lessons of the Second World War. Toronto: MELS, 1990)

Backgrounder: Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War

The Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War (1941-45) refers to the war against Nazi Germany and its European allies during World War II.

The war broke out on June 22, 1941, when Germany, tearing up the mutual non-aggression pact between the two countries, launched a blitz offensive against the Soviet Union.

Before long, Nazi German troops and those from Finland, Romania, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Croatia occupied the entire territory of Lithuania and most of Latvia, and much of Belarus and Ukraine.

In October 1941, Germany started a ferocious attack on Moscow in hopes of quickly winning the war before winter.

However, the Soviet Red Army put up a heroic and active defense, annihilating large numbers of Nazi German forces, and it won the battle in January 1942.

Soviet snipers during the Battle of Stalingrad.

(RIA Novosti)

On November 19, 1942, the Soviet forces launched a counteroffensive against the German troops in Stalingrad. On Feb. 2, 1943, the Red Army wiped out the last of the German main forces trapped and under siege in Stalingrad. The Nazi defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad threw Germany's offensive on the Soviet Union into disarray, marking a turning point in the war against Nazi Germany.

Following up their victory at Stalingrad, the Soviet army liberated most of Ukraine and virtually all of Russia and eastern Belarus during 1943.

In August 1943, the Germans were defeated in a battle at Kursk, Russia, and thus rendered incapable of launching any further strategic attacks.

In 1944, the Soviets launched an all-out offensive, liberating the rest of Belarus and Ukraine, most of the Baltic States and eastern Poland from Germany.

By August 1944, Soviet troops had crossed into Germany. In mid-April 1945, the Soviet army launched its final assault on Germany and laid siege to Berlin on April 21.

On May 2, 1945, Soviet troops took Berlin. On May 8, Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally.


Battle of Berlin: Left, Soviet forces in combat; right: celebration at the Brandenburg Gate on May 2, 1945
following German surrender of the city. (RIA Novosti)

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In the Parliament: For Your Information

Speaker's Ruling on Order to Produce Documents

Today, May 11, is the deadline given by the Speaker of the House of Commons Peter Milliken for "House leaders, ministers and party critics" to find a way to resolve the impasse in the Parliament over the Harper government's refusal to hand over documents related to the Afghan detainee scandal.[1] On April 27, Milliken gave "House leaders, ministers and party critics" two weeks to suggest some way of resolving the impasse facing the House with respect to Parliament's order that the government produce documents related to the Afghan Enquiry. "In view of the grave circumstances of the current impasse," he said, "The Chair believes that the House ought to make one further effort to arrive at an interest-based solution to this thorny question. [...] I will allow House leaders, ministers and party critics time to suggest some way of resolving the impasse, for it seems to me we would fail the institution if no resolution can be found."

"[O]n analyzing the evidence before it and the precedents, the Chair cannot but conclude that the government's failure to comply with the order of December 10, 2009, constitutes prima facie a question of privilege," Milliken said. He acknowledged the competing roles "of the government as 'defender of the realm' and its heavy responsibilities in matters of security, national defence and international relations" and the role of the House of Parliament "as the 'grand inquest of the nation' and its need for complete and accurate information in order to fulfill its duty of holding the government to account." He appealed to all parties to resolve this in the tradition of the House of Commons which he says is through collaboration and accommodation:

"But the fact remains that the House and the government have, essentially, an unbroken record of some 140 years of collaboration and accommodation in cases of this kind. It seems to me that it would be a signal failure for us to see that record shattered in the third session of the 40th Parliament because we lacked the will or the wit to find a solution to this impasse."

In opening, Mr. Milliken set out the facts of the case: from the recreation of the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan on February 10, 2009 following the first prorogation of the 40th Parliament up to the government tabling a large volume of documents regarding Afghan detainees, "without prejudice," to the procedural arguments on April 26, 2010.

Before addressing the arguments with respect to the ruling, Speaker Milliken cited the function of the Speaker with respect to a matter of privilege, as set out in House of Commons Procedure and Practice:

"Great importance is attached to matters involving privilege. A Member wishing to raise a question of privilege in the House must first convince the Speaker that his or her concern is prima facie (on the first impression or at first glance) a question of privilege. The function of the Speaker is limited to deciding whether the matter is of such a character as to entitle the Member who has raised the question to move a motion which will have priority over Orders of the Day; that is, in the Speaker's opinion, there is a prima facie question of privilege. If there is, the House must take the matter into immediate consideration. Ultimately, it is the House which decides whether a breach of privilege or a contempt has been committed."[2]

"As Speaker," he said, "One of my principal duties is to safeguard the rights and privileges of members and of the House. In doing so, the Chair is always mindful of the established precedents, usages, traditions and practices of the House and of the role of the Chair in their ongoing evolution. It is no exaggeration to say that it is a rare event for the Speaker to be seized of a matter as complex and as heavy with consequence as the matter before us now."

"The main and most important issue that the Chair must address today concerns the right of the House to order production of documents, including the nature of the right, questions related to the extent of the right and the manner in which the right can or ought to be exercised. All members who have intervened on these matters of privilege have touched on these fundamental questions in one way or another. In addition, the Chair has been asked to determine whether or not the order has been complied with, and if not, whether this constitutes, prima facie, a contempt of the House."

Mr. Milliken stated:

"Before us are issues that question the very foundations upon which our parliamentary system is built. In a system of responsible government, the fundamental right of the House of Commons to hold the government to account for its actions is an indisputable privilege and in fact an obligation.

"Embedded in our Constitution, parliamentary law and even in our Standing Orders, it is the source of our parliamentary system for which other processes and principles necessarily flow, and it is why that right is manifested in numerous procedures of the House, from the daily question period to the detailed examination by committees of estimates, to reviews of the accounts of Canada, to debate, amendments, and votes on legislation."

Citing various authorities[3] he said, "In light of these various authorities, the Chair must conclude that the House does indeed have the right to ask for the documents listed in the order of December 10, 2009."

With regard to the extent of the right, Milliken addressed the contention of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson on March 31 that the December 10 order is a breach of the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branches of government:

"Having noted that the three branches of government must respect the legitimate sphere of activity of the others, the minister argued that the order of the House was tantamount to an unlawful extension of the House's privileges. This can only be true if one agrees with the notion that the House's power to order the production of documents is not absolute. The question would then be whether this interpretation subjugates the legislature to the executive.

"It is the view of the Chair that accepting an unconditional authority of the executive to censor the information provided to Parliament would in fact jeopardize the very separation of powers that is purported to lie at the heart of our parliamentary system and the independence of its constituent parts. Furthermore, it risks diminishing the inherent privileges of the House and its members, which have been earned and must be safeguarded.

"As has been noted earlier, procedural authorities are categorical in repeatedly asserting the powers of the House in ordering the production of documents. No exceptions are made for any category of government documents, even those related to national security.

"Therefore, the Chair must conclude that it is perfectly within the existing privileges of the House to order production of the documents in question. Bearing in mind that the fundamental role of Parliament is to hold the government to account, as the servant of the House and the protector of its privileges, I cannot agree with the government's interpretation that ordering these documents transgresses the separation of powers and interferes with the spheres of activity of the executive branch."

Milliken then addressed the responsibility of the House of Commons regarding the manner in which the right to order the production of documents can be exercised. He noted that all of the authorities he had previously cited referred "to the long-standing practice whereby the House has accepted that not all documents demanded ought to be made available in cases where the Government asserts that this is impossible or inappropriate for reasons of national security, national defence or international relations."

The Speaker made the distinction between an Order of the House and documents cited in the House of Commons. He referred to one of his own rulings, where on June 8, 2006 he had upheld the right of the Prime Minister to withhold a document on the basis of national security, ruling that "national security, when asserted by a minister, was sufficient to set aside a requirement to table documents cited in debate."[4] However, the Speaker noted, "It is clear to the Chair that there is a difference between the practice of the House which allows a minister, on the sole basis of his or her judgment, to refrain from tabling a cited document for reasons of confidentiality and national security, and an order, duly adopted by the House following notice and debate, requiring the tabling of documents."

A distinction was also made between the order adopted by the House on December 10, 2009 and notices of motions for the production of papers which are common practice in the House, where there is an opportunity for a minister or parliamentary secretary to indicate to the House that the notice is acceptable to the government subject to certain reservations, such as confidentiality, or national security and the House is fully aware that some documents will not be produced if the motion is adopted. If the House does not agree, the motion must either be transferred for debate or be put immediately to the House without debate or amendment.

Similarly on December 10, 2009 before the House voted on the motion that became an order to produce documents, the Speaker explained, the ministers of justice, national defence and foreign affairs all gave reasons why the documents in question should not be made available. This is in keeping with what the Parliamentary authority, Bourinot, refers to as the government's responsibility to provide "reasons very cogent" for not producing documents.

While in the past, such an assertion by the government might have been found acceptable by the House, in the circumstances of December 10, 2009, the Speaker said, "the reasons given by the government were not found to be sufficient" and after debate, the House adopted an order for the production of documents.

The Speaker attributes this to the issue of accommodation and trust and cites his own observations at the time, "It is unfortunate, if I may make this comment, that arrangements were not made in committee to settle this matter there, where these requests were made and where there might have been some agreement on which documents and which format would be tabled or made available to members. How they were to be produced or however it was to be done, I do not know, but obviously that has not happened."[5]

"The Chair must conclude that it is within the powers of the House of Commons to ask for the documents sought in the December 10 order it adopted," Mr. Milliken said. "Now it seems to me that the issue before us is this: Is it possible to put in place a mechanism by which these documents could be made available to the House without compromising the security and confidentiality of the information they contain? In other words, is it possible for the two sides, working together in the best interests of the Canadians they serve, to devise a means where both their concerns are met? Surely that is not too much to hope for."

Where next? He noted that several members of the House have made the point that there are numerous ways the documents could be made available without divulging state secrets and that all sides in the House needed to find a way to respect the privileges and rights of members of Parliament to hold the government to account, while at the same time protecting national security.

Heavily redacted documents regarding treatment of Afghans detained by Canadian forces in Afghanistan, submitted by the Harper government to Parliament in March 2010.

The government's own proposal to the impasse has been to appoint former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci to examine the documents and recommend to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General what can be safely disclosed to the House. The government argues that such a review puts them in compliance with the order, while maintaining its requirement to protect the security of Canada's armed forces and Canada's international obligations. Members of the House, however, have described this as a "parallel process outside of parliamentary oversight, and without parliamentary involvement." The Speaker himself noted, "Furthermore, and in my view perhaps most significantly, Mr. Iacobucci reports to the Minister of Justice; his client is the government."

The Speaker noted a proposal by the Member for Toronto Centre on March 18, regarding House of Commons Procedure and Practice and a mechanism employed by the New South Wales Legislative Council in Australia, but pointed out:

"Finding common ground will be difficult. There have been assertions that colleagues in the House are not sufficiently trustworthy to be given confidential information, even with appropriate security safeguards in place. I find such comments troubling. The insinuation that members of Parliament cannot be trusted with the very information that they may well require to act on behalf of Canadians runs contrary to the inherent trust that Canadians have placed in their elected officials and which members require to act in their various parliamentary capacities.

"The issue of trust goes in the other direction as well. Some suggestions have been made that the government has self-serving and ulterior motives for the redactions in the documents tabled. Here too, such remarks are singularly unhelpful to the aim of finding a workable accommodation and ultimately identifying mechanisms that will satisfy all actors in this matter."

The Speaker gave the parties until May 11 to find a solution to the impasse.

Negotiators for the opposition parties have confirmed that all parties have agreed that a small special committee -- made up of at least one MP from each party, all sworn to secrecy -- should view all the relevant documents. But reports indicate that the parties have yet to agree on how to resolve any disagreement that may arise over which documents can be disclosed publicly without jeopardizing national security. The government's negotiators are House leader Jay Hill, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and government whip Gordon O'Connor. It is expected that parties will ask the Speaker for an extension of today's deadline.


1. Complete ruling by Speaker can be found in the Edited Hansard, 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, Number 034, Tuesday, April 27, 2010, pp. 2039-2045, http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language'E&M ode'1&Parl'40&Ses'3&DocId'4470112
The House of Commons Procedure and Practice (2nd Ed), eds. O'Brien and Bosc, p. 141.
3. Authorities cited: The House of Commons Procedure and Practice (2nd Ed., eds. O'Brien and Bosc, 2009), J.G. Bourinot's Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada, (2nd Ed. (1892) and 4th Ed. (1916)), Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada (2nd Ed. (1997)), Erskine May's Treatise on the The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament (23rd Ed.); David McGee's Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand (2nd Ed.); and Odgers' Australian Senate Practice (12th Ed.)
4. Speaker's Ruling regarding Minister's Production of document, 39th Parliament, 1st Session, Edited Hansard - Number 036, Thursday, June 8, 2006, pp. 2054-2055, http://www2.parl.gc.ca/content/hoc/House/391/Debates/036/HAN036-E.PDF
5. Debates, December 10, 2009, pg. 7877.

With files from Canadian Press.

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Definition of Privilege

The House of Commons Procedure and Practice (2nd Ed.)[1] provides the following definition of "privilege" in its introduction to "Parliamentary Privileges and Immunities:"

"In modern parlance, the term 'privilege' usually conveys the idea of a 'privileged class,' with a person or group granted special rights or immunities beyond the common advantages of others. This is not, however, the meaning of privilege in the parliamentary context. 'Parliamentary privilege' refers more appropriately to the rights and immunities that are deemed necessary for the House of Commons, as an institution, and its Members, as representatives of the electorate, to fulfil their functions. It also refers to the powers possessed by the House to protect itself, its Members, and its procedures from undue interference, so that it can effectively carry out its principal functions which are to inquire, to debate, and to legislate. In that sense, parliamentary privilege can be viewed as special advantages which Parliament and its Members need to function unimpeded.

The House of Commons Procedure and Practice also offers the "classic definition" of parliamentary privilege found in Erskine May's Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament[2]:

"Parliamentary privilege is the sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by each House collectively and by Members of each House individually, without which they could not discharge their functions, and which exceed those possessed by other bodies or individuals. Thus privilege, though part of the law of the land, is to a certain extent an exemption from the general law."

O'Brien and Bosc divide these "peculiar rights" into two categories: those extended to individual Members and those extended to the House of Commons collectively and which can all be further divided. According to O'Brien and Bosc, the individual rights and immunities accorded to Members are generally:

- freedom of speech;
- freedom from arrest in civil actions;
- exemption from jury duty;
- exemption from being subpoenaed to attend court as a witness; and
- freedom from obstruction, interference, intimidation and molestation.

The collective rights and powers of the House of Commons may be categorized as follows:

- the exclusive right to regulate its own internal affairs (including its debates, proceedings and facilities);
- the power to discipline, that is, the right to punish persons guilty of breaches of privilege or contempts, and the power to expel Members guilty of disgraceful conduct;
- the right to provide for its proper constitution, including the authority to maintain the attendance and service of its Members;
- the right to institute inquiries and to call witnesses and demand papers;
- the right to administer oaths to witnesses appearing before it; and
- the right to publish papers without recourse to the courts relating to the content.


1. The House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 2nd Ed. (House of Commons: 2009), Edited by Audrey O'Brien and Marc Bosc, http://www2.parl.gc.ca/procedure-book-livre/Document.aspx?sbdid=7C730F1 D-E10B-4DFC-863A-83E7E1A6940E&sbpidx=1&Language=E&Mode=1
2. May, T.E., Erskine May's Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, 23rd ed., edited by Sir W. McKay, LexisNexis UK, 2004, p. 75. The first edition was published in 1844.

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