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April 18, 2011 - No. 62

Election 2011

Small Parties to Hold Joint Press Conference
and Public Forum

Saturday, April 23 --
2:00-5:00 pm

OISE Auditorium G162, 252 Bloor Street W.

Joint Press Conference and Public Forum of Small Parties -- Toronto, April 23
On the Unequal Treatment of Political Parties - Anna Di Carlo
Electoral Politics Means Opposition to Organizing People to Participate in Governance

Toronto Day of Action in Defence of Public Services
What the Workers Had to Say

Contempt for Workers' Rights
Workers' Demand for Anti-Scab Legislation Goes Unheard in Ontario Legislature

Elections 2011

Small Parties to Hold Joint Press Conference
and Public Forum

Canada's small political parties, 13 out of the 18 registered parties in the May 2 General Election, will hold a joint press conference and public forum on Saturday, April 23 in Toronto. All media are invited to attend.

Party leaders and designated representatives will address their party programs. The forum is organized not as a debate, but to inform participants about the parties and their programs. There will be an opportunity for audience participation.

The parties holding this event represent citizens and residents who are amongst the most politically active members of the society. The discriminatory descriptors of their parties as "minor" and "fringe" are meaningless terms used to justify their systemic political marginalization.

Come hear what the small parties have to say. Everyone is welcome to attend.

For further information contact:

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party
Liz White, leader: (416) 462-9541 or liz@animalalliance.ca

Canadian Action Party
Christopher Porter, leader: (250) 999-VOTE or christopher.porter@canadianactionparty.ca

Christian Heritage Party of Canada
Peter Vogel: 1-888-VOTECHP or OntarioPres@chp.ca

Communist Party of Canada
Miquel Figueroa, leader: (416) 469-2446 or info@cpc.ca

First Peoples National Party of Canada
William Morin, leader: 1-877-248-4133 or willpower@ontera.net

Libertarian Party of Canada
John Shaw: (905) 806-5170 or john.shaw@libertarian.ca

Marijuana Party
Blair T. Longley, leader: (514) 507-5188 or info@marijuana.ca

Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
Anna Di Carlo, leader: (416) 253-4475 or leader@mlpc.ca

Pirate Party of Canada
Shawn Vulliez: 1-877-850-PPCA(7722) ext 130 or shawnvulliez@pirateparty.ca

Rhinoceros Party
Francois Yo Gourd, leader: (514) 903-9450 or gourd.francois@gmail.com

Online Party of Canada *in process of registration
Michael Nicula, founder: (416) 567-6913 or mnicula@onlinparty.ca

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On the Unequal Treatment of Political Parties

On Saturday, April 23 the MLPC will participate in a Joint Press Conference and Public Forum along with 12 other registered parties. Everyone is invited to attend.

Through regulations governing electoral broadcasting and state funding of political parties as well as coverage of the monopoly owned media, a multi-tiered level of parties has been created, with those at the top continually enhancing and protecting their position of privilege and power. A state-funded cartel party system has been firmly entrenched. It can be said that the political parties participating in the small parties' public forum bear the brunt of the laws that create power and privilege for the political parties of the economically powerful, but the problem is just one facet of a political and electoral process that marginalizes all members of the polity.

The unequal treatment of political parties is one of several methods used by the ruling elite to obstruct and discourage the participation of Canadians in political affairs beyond that of casting a vote. Even then, the low voter turn-out is a problem that the ruling parties cavalierly ignore. It reached a historic low of 58 percent in the 2008 election. To date no serious inquiry has been conducted as to why this problem exists.

The last initiative taken by a federal government to involve Canadians in a discussion on the country's political institutions was almost two decades ago when the Spicer Commission was held. At that time, Canadians expressed their desire for democratic reforms in their thousands upon thousands. Instead of enacting the democratic reforms Canadians proposed, governments started enacting self-serving laws which further eliminate their role as primary organizations through which Canadians are able to make a political contribution. This, in turn, further eroded the ability of Canadians to exercise their right to elect and be elected. In fact, the main result of the reforms has been to create the corrupt cartel party system we see today. Some pollsters actually say that a low voter turn-out is preferable for political party polling purposes because it makes statistical sampling, manipulation, etc. easier and more reliable.

Another reflection of the marginalization of the electors is the declining membership in political parties. Even though Canada's political process is based on the concept of political parties being the "primary political organization," the low participation rate in parties is a clear indicator of the anti-democratic and elitist character of the system. This has become increasingly so as the dominant political parties have turned into business organizations run by marketing companies and polling firms. "Consulting members" has been replaced by "commissioning a focus group" for branding techniques and so-called policies to be tested just like Coke and Pepsi.

At this time, a generous assessment would be that no more than one percent of the electors belong to political parties. The role of political parties to organize people to be political, become informed about economic, social and political affairs, work out their views about the problems facing society, and participate in policy formulation is all but gone. It is possible only in the small parties, with the Marxist-Leninist Party standing second to none when it comes to involving Canadians in political discussion.

The current state of political party affairs and the discrimination faced by the small parties makes a mockery of the text-book teachings that tell civic-minded individuals they should join political parties if they want to have a say in how the country is being run or form their own if they don't like the existing parties. The proverbial advice is that you join the Liberals, Conservatives or NDP if you really want to have a say in how the country is run. The problem is that those party members are also totally marginalized. They do not even exercise control over the decisions taken by their own party conventions. Even those parties that claim to involve their members in policy formulation have provisions enabling the leader of the party to say what they deem to be electorally expedient during an election campaign. If they are elected, anything goes. Individual MPs who oppose their party reneging on election promises are turned into the renegade.

These parties don't even want members. If you knocked on one of their doors between elections they wouldn't know what to do with you because there are no lawn signs to be put up. What they do if they are elected is determined within the confines imposed by the financial oligarchy.

That leaves joining one of the other political parties or forming your own. Here, the message is very clear. Unless the establishment needs your party for some reason you are totally neglected or given a perfunctory acknowledgement so that the system can maintain its democratic credentials. The message of the electoral and political process is clear: political people need not apply.

Canada's small parties deserve your support. They represent political people fighting for their visions of how the society should be organized. They stand along with the tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of Canadians who are demanding empowerment through their struggles in defence of their economic, social, political and cultural rights who are also pushed to the fringe.

The small parties are called fringe but the MLPC points out that it is not the likes of Harper and Ignatieff who are mainstream but those who represent the mainstream demands of Canadians such as the MLPC.

In a recent article published in The Georgia Straight, the MLPC pointed out,

"Come elections, Canadians are supposed to give up their demands and choose one of the so-called major parties to represent them. This is not acceptable. Parties such as ours actually represent mainstream public opinion, but we are called 'fringe' and 'extremist,' terms that actually apply to the likes of Harper, Ignatieff, et al."

Recently the online arts and cultural magazine The Little Red Umbrella asked for the MLPC's response to people who suggest that voting for a lesser-known political party is tantamount to throwing your vote away. The MLPC pointed out,

"The days are long gone when the so-called major parties could claim to represent the national interest. The notion that Canadians who are not represented by the party in power are represented by the opposition is also total nonsense. The fact that the largest party in Canada is the abstentionist party shows that Canadians consider a vote for one of the so-called major parties, the ones presented as 'viable' options, to be a waste because the rule of the monopoly interests is a foregone conclusion.

"Only the working class does not represent a special interest because it is the producer of all the wealth the society depends upon for its living and functioning. It should set the direction for the economy and exercise control over the decision making process, including who is elected to govern. It should sort out the problem of political representation which is a non-partisan issue and faces the country as a whole. We call on the working class to constitute itself the nation and vest sovereignty in the people." (www.littleredumbrella.com)

I encourage everyone who can to come out to the small parties' joint press conference and public forum to hear the political programs and opinions of the small parties and join in the discussion.

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Electoral Politics Means Opposition to Organizing People to Participate in Governance

According to the Election Act, by definition a political party is a party which tries to come to power through an electoral process under the supervision of Elections Canada. By definition, such a political party places the electorate in the position of a vote bank. No sooner is an election over, than people lose any further role in the political process. By definition they play no role in the governance of the country.

The MLPC participates in federal elections in order to organize the working class to lead the people in the governance of the country. Thus its aim comes into clash with the role Elections Canada gives a political party. Under these conditions, the MLPC has to do two things: It has to participate in elections, at the same time it must advance its cause to organize so that people can participate in the governance of their country.

For the MLPC to be effective in carrying out its two-fold activities during a federal election requires that its candidates form as broad an alliance as possible with other forces in order to isolate those political parties whose only aim is to come to power themselves. At the same time, they have to ensure that such an alliance is not merely limited to the period of elections. The MLPC has to continue to forge alliances in the course of the serious struggle for the affirmation of rights and it considers participating in the election as just one form of struggle in the broad work to open the path for the progress of society.

The MLPC calls on all its organizations, members and sympathizers to go all out to seek alliances with other forces while maintaining their own stand in the struggle and encouraging everyone else to join this struggle.

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Toronto Day of Action in Defence of Public Services

What the Workers Had to Say

TML held lively discussions with workers at the Day of Action in Toronto on April 9 in defence of public services. Printed below are their comments. They express the workers' demands for an immediate stop to the attacks on public sector workers, and the public services they provide. Not only are the public services vital to modern cities like Toronto, but so are the workers which provide them, the workers told TML.

Bob Kinnear, President, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113

TML: There is a large ATU delegation here, from Toronto and other cities. What is your message today?

Bob Kinnear: The message we are conveying is that Torontonians care about their city. They care especially about the public services that people have been building over the years. We love this city and we are proud to be moving Toronto. We are sending a clear message to the Ford administration, along with any other administrations that think that they are going to come in and dismantle this city that we have built over the last decades. The message is that we are gathered today to reinforce the support for the services that we have in this city and the support to maintain these services. We are firmly opposed to the dismantling of these services and that is what this administration is all about. We are faced with an administration that is openly talking about contracting out services of the city. Mayor Ford and his brother have indicated very clearly that they are prepared to privatize anything that is not "nailed to the wall" and this is just unacceptable for Torontonians. The majority of Torontonians did not support the dismantling of our social services. Even the people that voted for Mayor Ford do not support the dismantling of our services here in Toronto.

TML: TTC workers who provide such an important service to Toronto are being denigrated by the monopoly media as loafers who are abusing the public transit system. What is the response of the TTC workers to this campaign?

BK: Our response is very clear. What we have got to do is get the message out to the public that transit workers are not the problem in public transit; funding is the problem in public transit. And this is a way that this administration and other administrations disguise their inability to acquire appropriate funding for this city. What they do is deflect attention away from their inability to do so. It is a diversion and a disgraceful one.

A Retired Hamilton Steelworker

I am here because An Injury to One Is an Injury to All! Whenever the working class is being attacked or the poor or all those who are marginalized, USW Local 1005 is going to be there fighting for them. That is why we are going to Ottawa on May First. We see good paying jobs being replaced by jobs at minimum wage; we see a lack of services; and we see public services being privatized. Then they dare to denigrate the public sector workers and say they are lazy and sleeping on the job. As far as I am concerned, it is the CEOs like Surma -- who gave himself a raise of $8 million last year -- that are lazy, not the workers who are doing a thorough job and who may fall asleep because they are exhausted.

A Retired Public Sector Worker

I am here to support working people. I care about Toronto and things seem to be going downhill. Working people are under siege. The services, including the bus routes, are being cut back. Privatization is a very scary thing. They are already talking about privatizing the TTC and more of the garbage services. I do not think that we are saving money at all with privatization; it is the private corporations that are pocketing the money, not the people.

Workers are under siege by private interests. This hurts the economy. Private interests are trying to cut back on people's standard of living. Working people spend their money in the community, they put their money back in the economy. This money is going to be lost to the economy and go instead to private interests. It does not make any sense to me to privatize, the way they say, anything that is "not nailed down."

Toronto Education Support Worker

I am here today to demand that we keep our public services public. We need good public transportation and that is what our TTC workers are providing for us. Also, if we do not have good jobs that pay decent wages then our economy will go down the drain very quickly. If you do not have money, you can't spend money. All this is an attack on the economy, because working people are the engine that keeps the economy running. It is important to raise awareness about what is going on in Toronto. All the different sections of the public sector workers who are under attack are important to us. We are all individuals who are doing an important job to keep the services in good shape for the people of Toronto.

London Auto Parts Worker

I am here today because I think it is important to be proactive and not just reactive. We see what is happening in Wisconsin and other U.S. states and this reactionary right-wing onslaught has to be stopped before it spreads everywhere. On top of it we have the election of Ford in Toronto. This is a pattern that they want to develop, that right-wing municipal governments are elected. They are being elected on tax cuts for the corporations which mean cuts in social programs, which mean attacks on the unionized public sector workers. This is why I am here. CAW, my union, has over 2,500 workers in health care so we are very aware of their situation. Our auto parts sector has been downsized with closures and layoffs. So, we are here for every one -- private and public sectors. We are all in this together.

Ingersoll Auto Sector Retiree

We are here today because we need changes that benefit the people and especially the low wage earners and the poor. The changes we see being implemented, whether federally or provincially, are not good at all. The governments are not looking after the working people anymore. They are just looking after big business and management. Workers are just pushed aside. If you look at the federal policies you will see that a lot of it is done for the benefit of high-end wage earners. There is nothing for the low wage earner, or for the poor or the ordinary pensioners. Nothing is done to help them and they are falling more and more into poverty. The governments just pay lip service to the needs of the people but they do nothing to help them. The situation of the elected politicians when they retire is very different from ours. They don't have to fight for their pensions. I don't mind that they are making more money than us or have a better life in retirement but don't do that on our backs.

High School Student

I am here because I am concerned about public services. I do not want Mayor Ford ripping us off of the public services that we need. They want to privatize and charge us for simple things that have been free of charge for years and should be free of charge.

Toronto Construction Worker

We are building beautiful towers in Toronto. That is fine but we need to work safely and this is a problem.

People are getting more and more stressed out because they are broke and there are all kinds of problems at home. Cutting back the public services is the wrong way to go because it makes people's lives more unstable. We have to find ways to stabilize the situations that people find themselves in. Governments can help so that nobody gets hurt and people are looked after. There must be ways to stabilize the lives of the people. That is why I am here with my son so that he can grow up in a more stable environment.

Toronto Activist in Defence of People with Mental Problems

I am a member of the Dream Team in Toronto. Dream Team is fighting for safe and affordable supportive housing for people living with mental health and addiction issues. We tell our stories about how supportive housing has saved our lives and the lives of our loved ones. I have been doing that for 11 years.

I am here today because it is very important that people with mental health issues ally themselves with other people so that we become a strong voice together. We need our voice to become stronger and go forward in order to change the policies of the governments. The work of the Dream Team is very important. I am just a family member on the team but I go everywhere telling our stories to politicians and other people to make sure they understand how safe, supportive housing is important for us.

Scarborough Postal Worker

We are part of the community and we feel very close to all the public sector workers here. Public services are being taken away and this is the case too for the public postal service. We are in the midst of negotiations with Canada Post, which is trying to undermine the service as much as possible with the Modern Post and demands for concessions. It is very good that we have trade unions and community organizations together today.

Toronto Machinist

One of the reasons I am here is because we have members working for the TTC and they are covered by the essential service legislation that takes their rights away. They are being prevented from having any control over the bargaining process by having their right to withdraw their labour removed. I think that if those who are doing these things start here with the TTC workers and we allow them to attack public sector workers, then it will become a general attack against all unions, whether in the private or the public sectors, which I believe is the agenda at City Hall. We have got to stop this before they bring these attacks to our doors and attack all the unions. It is imperative that we put a strong force forward to show that we are not going to accept that.

It is appalling to see how the big media are denigrating the work of the TTC workers. My members are not those on the front-line driving the street cars but they are also people who go to work every day and do hard work. I would challenge anybody in any job to have cameras spy on you 24 hours a day, trying to make you look bad in the eyes of the public.

If you want to see people sleeping on the job just go to Queen's Park. You can see a bunch of them sleeping. They are not even there for the debates. Maybe it is these politicians that should be declared an essential service and forced to be in the Parliament taking part in the debates that are important for the working people. They are not there most of the time -- they just walk in when the vote is about to be taken. Maybe they should be the ones declared essential services not the workers who are doing their jobs.

Oakville Steelworker

The governments have to intervene to stop the elimination of jobs. We are losing too many jobs. I am working in a place that makes industrial shipping containers and we have lost one-third of our workforce in a short period of time. We have lost it because U.S. businesses are following the agenda of the U.S. government to move operations from the countries they are in to the U.S. It is a political decision and our governments are not raising any objection. Private and public sector workers we are all losing jobs.

Another reason I am here is that if everything gets privatized, cities like Toronto are going to run into problems and nobody is going to be there who wants to deal with them. The cities are letting go their own expertise, their own workforce, their infrastructure that allows them to deal with problems. Who is going to deal with problems when the services are handed over to private corporations? This is disgraceful that cities are losing this power and I feel terrible for the workers who are treated as if they are not needed anymore.

Toronto Health Care Worker

I am here because we have to stand up for democracy. We have to stand up to the right-wing attacks on democracy that are happening all over the place with the privatization and the cutbacks. Look at what Ford is doing with the privatization of garbage collection. And what Ford and the Ontario government just did by taking the right to strike away from the TTC workers. If this is not a blow to democracy then I don't know what is. They are taking the power away from people to make decisions on issues that affect them.

Ottawa Public Transit Worker

I am here to defend the public services. I am here first for our brothers and sisters from Toronto who have just been attacked by the essential services legislation of the Ontario government. That means more cutbacks and more privatization of public transit. They want to spread these attacks all over and we have to try to stop it right now before they come knocking at the door of other cities. In Ottawa there are a lot of problems in public transit. We are fighting the employer on the issue of scheduling and also against the contracting out of all our jobs. In Ottawa the big media denigrate us the same way they do the TTC workers. We are in the same boat. United we are stronger, otherwise they pick us off, one by one.

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Contempt for Workers' Rights

Workers' Demand for Anti-Scab Legislation Goes Unheard in Ontario Legislature

Several hundred workers and their union leaders rallied at the Ontario Legislature on March 31 to demand yet again that the Ontario government pass anti-scab amendments to the Ontario Labour Relations Act prohibiting employers from using "replacement workers" during strikes. The flags and banners of many Ontario unions were there: CUPE Ontario, CEP, OPSEU, UFCW, CAW, Society of Energy Professionals, CAW 598 Mine Mill, USW Locals 6500 and 1005 and more. The workers were at Queen's Park to support the second reading of the private member's bill initiated by MPP France Gélinas (Nickel Belt).

For Canada's workers getting their rights affirmed is a life and death issue. For instance USW Local 6500 workers from Vale in Sudbury travelled to Queen's Park for the rally. They were on the line for more than 900 days while their employer used scabs to carry on production. In Newfoundland at Voisey's Bay, Vale simply flew scabs into the mining site accessible only by air and carried on "business as usual."

A militant contingent of CAW 598 Mine Mill workers from Xstrata from Sudbury was also at Queen's Park. They spoke of their experience with Falconbridge Nickel (Xstrata's predecessor) who used scabs and then called out the riot police when the workers protested.

When it comes to the need for anti-scab legislation a fundamental issue is who should hold these companies to account? When the workers hold their picket line to stop scabs getting in, the courts issue company injunctions against them and they are criminalized. It is unconscionable. When the workers try to get anti-scab legislation through the parliaments and legislatures, the political parties have "better things to do."

MPP Gélinas first introduced her private member's bill prohibiting the use of "replacement workers" a year ago. It passed first reading by a vote of 32 to 3 (21 Liberals, 8 NDP and 3 Conservatives in favour). But on March 31, most of those who voted in favour of the bill at first reading were not even in the Legislature for the second reading and it died on a vote of 28 to 16.

While anti-scab legislation is very important for the workers, only a few MPPs showed up to discuss it and no consistent stand has been taken in favour of the workers by the various MPPs and their parties when it comes time to vote. Only 16 MPPs voted in favour of the bill on March 31. The workers are shocked to see the disinterest the MPPs show for the debates in the legislature. It shows that the democracy is not about them at all, they say.

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