Agenda of the Harper Government

The Importance of Workers and Youth Having Their Own Organizations, Agenda and Aims

The Harper dictatorship's interference in the collective bargaining of the unions at Air Canada and Canada Post is a sharp lesson that must not be ignored. Owners of capital and their political representatives do not want the working class to have its own organizations, agenda and aims to defend its rights up to and including a political and economic alternative that serves its well-being and the general interests of the economy and society. One way to stop the working class from having its own agenda is to interfere with its right to organize as an effective defence collective and opposition, and to criminalize its actions in defence of its rights.

Without organization, the working class cannot have its own agenda and aims. Workers would still defend their rights but it would be at the level of reacting to stimuli and protecting themselves from predators as best they can through an instinctive "fight or flight." In contrast to this primeval defence, humans have the ability to gain an understanding of their concrete conditions through acts of conscious participation in the world, and to analyze and deepen that understanding to resolve with greater effectiveness the problems they face, defend themselves and move their societies forward.

In the modern world, the working class and youth are faced with the necessity of organizing themselves as an effective Workers' Opposition to defend their rights. This means concretely building workers' defence collectives in all workplaces and more broadly in cities, towns and regions to defend workers' rights. Also, this means concretely building the political front of the working class, the mass communist party of CPC (M-L) in all workplaces, cities, towns and regions. Understanding how to do this comes from acts of conscious participation in organizing and defending the rights of all. If the working class and youth do not engage in conscious acts of organizing into defence collectives and the mass communist party and defending their rights, then no understanding of how to do it will ever arise in their brains.

To organize working class defence collectives and the mass communist party means that individual members are faced with the task of participating in developing an agenda, common aims, methods of organizing and strategy and tactics set by themselves, and the individual responsibility to carry out the decisions of the collective.

Owners of capital and their agents target the brains of the working class and youth to stop them from gaining any understanding of how to organize and resist. To do this, they use the organs of the state machine to interfere directly in workers' organizations such as labour boards, courts and legislation limiting what workers' collectives can and cannot do and even criminalizing their defence organizations and resistance. Secondly, their mass media and agents denounce organizing and the development of common working class aims as being counterproductive and leading to just another form of oppression by "union bosses" and communist leaders. This propaganda is to keep workers and youth ignorant of their ability to organize and resist through acts of conscious participation and by doing so increase their understanding of how to organize and resist effectively with an independent agenda and aims for a human-centred alternative.

The working class and youth face problems both as individuals and within their collectives. Even individual problems are connected with other individuals and the whole, as modern society is collective in its essence. This is so because of the socialized nature of the modern economy where people are born to society and have rights by virtue of being human.

Collectives that engage in actions with analysis to defend the rights of their members and the rights of all are the most effective defence in modern society. Uniting in a collective immediately raises questions of methods of organizing. The understanding of how to organize is found in acts of conscious participation. Owners of capital and their political representatives, agents and spokespeople in the media want to interfere with this conscious participation of workers and youth in organizing, defending their rights and building their mass communist party. This is the root reason behind the Harper dictatorship's interference in collective bargaining between workers' collectives and their employers and the state hostility generally towards workers organizing themselves into a mass communist party. This is the main reason also why the mass media place so much emphasis on not organizing and praising those who have no agenda or aims as this dissuades workers and youth from gaining understanding of how to organize and diverts them from the necessity of having an independent agenda and aims.

These days the mass media are promoting unorganized "fight or flight" as the way to combat inequality in society, and when this generates the inevitable chaos then the police are set upon the demonstrators. The propaganda not to organize and not have an independent agenda and aims is directed primarily at the working class but also at the youth and most vulnerable. The harsh stimuli from the economic crisis and ending of the social contract are everywhere to be felt from workers being laid off, public services privatized, social programs slashed, collective agreements gutted, pensions degraded, state interference in workers' organizing and bargaining, and homelessness and other social problems that are becoming worse instead of being resolved. Aimless and unorganized "fight or flight" is promoted as the way to respond to the harsh stimuli, anything but acts of conscious participation of workers and youth in organizing themselves within defence collectives and a mass communist party that analyze their concrete conditions, engage in actions with analysis and adopt their own agenda of resistance and social responsibility.

The way forward for workers and youth in resisting the harsh stimuli of the owners of capital and their attacks is not aimless and unorganized "fight or flight" but acts of conscious participation in organizing themselves in defence collectives and the mass communist party and engaging in actions with analysis. The strategy and tactics of how to organize and resist attacks on the people's rights arise from acts of conscious participation in organizing and actions with analysis. Thinking serves actions and drives them forward to greater heights through analysis and further acts of conscious participation in organizing and resistance. Without acts of conscious participation in organizing defence committees and building of the mass communist party, no understanding of how to organize will ever arise. Without acts of conscious participation in resistance, no understanding of how to resist effectively enters the brains of workers and youth. Without acts of conscious participation in the working class movement to defend its rights and build its political front, no understanding of the independent aims and agenda of that movement will materialize as workers and youth will be constantly diverted by the aims and agenda of the owners of capital and their agents.

When workers and youth do not have their own independent organizations, outlook, aims and agenda, the owners of capital and their political representatives and agents can easily sabotage, undermine and smash their resistance and defence of their rights.

Acts of conscious participation in organizing and resisting are key to defending the rights of all and opening a path forward to a human-centred alternative.

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Phasing Out Per-Vote Subsidy Will Aggravate Political Crisis

Abusing Power and Privilege to
Strengthen Power and Privilege

The Harper Government has introduced legislation to eliminate the per-vote public subsidy to eligible political parties. The subsidy will be phased out gradually between April 2012 and the end of 2014. Since coming into effect in 2004, the subsidy has enriched the recipient political parties by over $205 million: the Conservatives have received over $74 million; the Liberals over $63 million; the NDP over $36 million; the Bloc Québécois over $22 million; and the Greens over $10 million.

The Conservatives are enacting this change to the Canada Elections Act in a 642-page budget implementation bill they have titled the Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act (Bill C-13). The June 2011 budget included a section entitled "Integrity and Accountability." It stated: "The Government is committed to continue strengthening integrity and accountability in government and political activity. Governments have a duty to use Canadians' tax dollars with great care, and only in the public interest -- especially in a time of fiscal restraint, when families are struggling to make ends meet. For these reasons, the Government will introduce legislation to gradually [eliminate the per-vote subsidy...]. This will generate annual savings that will ramp up to $30 million by 2015-16."

A Canadian First

This is the first time that a matter related to the electoral and political process has been introduced as a matter of fiscal and budgetary policy. Even though it was mentioned in the budget, it was expected that the elimination of the subsidy would be introduced in specific legislation so that it could be debated and considered in terms of its impact on the electoral and political process.

The fact that the per-vote subsidy to political parties involves the use of state funds does not ipso facto turn it into a budgetary issue. It is an issue which pertains to how the public treasury is used to finance elections, that is, the issue of how the state intervenes in and administers the so-called democratic process. It is an issue which goes to the heart of who the electoral and political process serves and how it functions to perform this service. It is this aim which is hidden behind the manner in which the discourse takes place on the subject of the state-funding of political parties. This is also why the Conservatives are dealing with this issue in a manner that cripples public debate and deliberation.

Since the Conservative government first proposed eliminating the subsidy in its 2008 Economic Update, which led to the prorogation of Parliament to avoid a vote of confidence bringing down the government, several political scientists and commentators have deliberated on the issue. They would be amongst the individuals and organizations that would typically be heard in Committee before passage of such legislation, along with the Chief Electoral Officer, registered political parties, and others, not to mention the other political parties in the House of Commons who want to keep the per-vote subsidy. However, the reforms to the Canada Elections Act have not been allowed to go through the traditional procedure of review.

The Conservatives limited debate in the House of Commons on the entire omnibus bill to three days. On October 5, in response to Liberal and NDP opposition to the time restriction, Minister of State (Finance) Ted Menzies declared: "I think we need to put this in perspective. We had a very thorough debate on this budget bill. It comes in two forms [...] We would have moved this forward more quickly if we had not been forced into an election. However, we had a debate, a debate that was very fulsome, probably the best debate that one could ever have, and that was with all Canadians for 37 days in the election campaign. We tabled this budget on March 22. We had 37 days of fulsome debate. This is great debate in here, and there will be more debate on the economy as we move forward, but Canadians have spoken and they have spoken loudly by giving our government a strong and stable mandate and showing support for the budget that we tabled."

Bill C-13 passed second reading 149-129 on October 17 and was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance. From November 1 to 3, the 642-page omnibus bill received seven hours of review. The Committee returned Bill C-13 to the House of Commons without amendment, the clause eliminating the per-vote subsidy having been adopted by a vote of seven to four.

Origin of the Per-Vote State Subsidy

The per-vote subsidy was enacted in 2003 by the Chretien Liberal government in the midst of the Sponsorship Scandal. Chretien introduced reforms to the Canada Elections Act (Bill C-24) which he said would "end the influence of money in elections" by replacing corporate and trade union contributions to political parties with state subsidization. Thus, Bill C-24 ended corporate and trade union contributions to political parties, capped individual contributions at $5,000 per year and legislated an annual allowance for political parties at a rate of $1.75 per vote received (indexed to inflation). In addition, reimbursements for political party election expenses were increased from 22.5 per cent to 50 per cent; candidate reimbursements were increased from 50 per cent to 60 per cent. With the new election expense reimbursement, the taxpayer bill for political party election campaigns soared to $30 million in the 2004 Federal Election compared to $7 million in 2000.

In its Brief to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs on Bill C-24, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada opposed the increased public funding for political parties arguing that it would not end the influence of money in elections as claimed. On the contrary, it would strengthen the power and privilege of the parties of the establishment and in this way increase the marginalization of the citizenry from the decision-making process.

The MLPC called for renewal of Canada's democratic institutions "so that no Canadian has his or her right to elect and to be elected violated based on economic status or access to wealth." It opposed public financing for political parties and argued that public monies should be used to fund the process, not the parties.

The MLPC pointed out: "The crisis of legitimacy and credibility facing the system of representative democracy cannot be resolved so long as the problem continues to be broached from the narrow and self-serving angle of the parties in the House of Commons to preserve their position of power and privilege over the electors. [...] Instead of finding the ways and means for Canadians to participate in governance, and establishing an electoral financing regime informed by these considerations, changes to the electoral law have concentrated even more powers and privileges in the hands of the political parties which form part of the establishment forces. [...] Bill C-24 will fail to address the problem of "undue influence" and will exacerbate all of the problems related to money and the political process. It ignores both the experience of the Canadian electoral and political process as well as that of other countries where it has already been proven that public subsidization of political parties has not put an end to political corruption and influence peddling. In fact, it is being seen that public subsidization of political parties, justified with high-sounding ideals, has itself become a form of corruption."

It is not fortuitous that the Conservative Party of Canada is currently involved in several scandals involving not corporate funding and kickbacks, but public funding and kickbacks. These scandals involve not only the manipulation of the provisions for public subsidization of political parties and their candidates but the manipulation of all kinds of public funding, for example, their absconding with funds allocated to the G8/G20 Summits and their abuse of public funds for "government advertising" to promote Harper and his program.

In terms of the provisions of the Canada Elections Act, the Harper Conservatives were accused of manoeuvring party and candidate expenses so as to circumvent election campaign spending limits in the 2006 Federal Election through an in-and-out scheme and filing false election financing reports. The incentive for Conservative candidates to participate in this corrupt racket was that they would receive a 60 per cent reimbursement from the Receiver General for expenses they did not actually incur. On November 10, the Conservatives entered into a plea bargain with the Public Prosecutor of Canada resulting in a $52,000 fine for overspending in the 2006 election to the tune of $1.4 million, a campaign which the Conservatives waged on "cleaning up Ottawa." In exchange, charges against four party officials, including two Senators, were dropped. The "law and order" party has gotten off by arguing that it broke the law "inadvertently." This is another black mark against the electoral law which cannot even enforce spending limits and has introduced impunity for the ruling parties, as was the case in the Sponsorship Scandal.

The Historic Context

Canada's political parties have been recipients of state funding since 1974 when the domination of political parties over the polity and the position of power and privilege of the parties of the establishment over all other organizations, including other political parties, was entrenched in law. For the first time, political parties were recognized in the electoral law and a system of public reporting of contributions and expenditures was instituted. The main concern of the political parties in the House of Commons was to address the crisis they faced in regards to election financing and they contrived justifications to give themselves access to public funds.

The Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and NDP negotiated what they considered to be a fair division of privilege amongst themselves. They tossed aside the need to modernize and renew the electoral law in a manner which enables the citizenry to truly exercise their right to participate in governance by meaningfully nominating and electing candidates of their choice. They trampled concepts such as the right to an informed vote and the principle of equality. For example, they gave each other free election advertising time on both radio and television on an "equitable basis," meaning that the party-in-power would get the most time, the party-in-opposition would get the second largest allocation, and the third party in the House would get its lesser share and so on down the line.

In their bid to be included amongst the privileged and with the hope that they would one day be the ruling party, all the parties in the House, including those that received the short-end of the stick, agreed that the principle of equality need not apply to the distribution of public resources during an election. The political parties represented in Parliament agreed to a hierarchical system of distribution amongst themselves, deeming themselves "major" and labelling all other political parties "minor." This overall self-serving approach to the electoral law and the violation of fundamental democratic principles paved the way for a crisis-ridden course of political reform.

The main feature of the enactment of election financing legislation in 1974 was the co-operation and negotiation of the political parties in the House of Commons to put a system in place which favoured all of them and ensured their position of privilege and power in the name of "creating a fair playing field." They accommodated each other and in turn each of the parties accommodated itself to an agreed system of power and privilege that was deemed to be "fair." This introduced the cartel party system in which each party put its own interest to stay in power and gain positions of power in command of all its decisions. The parties both colluded and contended with one another for this purpose. All of it marked the further marginalization of the people from the decision-making process. While state-subsidization of political parties was justified by arguing that they were "primary political organizations" bearing the responsibility of involving people in governance, the failure of political parties to function as organizations linking the citizenry to the decision-making process was putting the so-called democratic process into disarray and greater disrepute. Access to public funds facilitated and accelerated the destruction of political organization as marketing firms and image-makers. This supplanted even the role of party members to "get out the vote."

Political Crisis Deepens

The election financing regime and the political and electoral process in general came under increasing pressure as the political crisis deepened. The 1988 election marked a turning point when the failure of the electoral and political process to turn the expressed will of the people into the legal will became a national concern. The issue was Canada's entry into the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S. The monopolies spent millions upon millions of dollars to push the agreement and support the Mulroney Conservatives who declared that the FTA would bring nothing but prosperity and would not jeopardize Canadian sovereignty. While the Conservatives were elected, the majority of voters cast ballots for candidates and parties who campaigned against the FTA. Nevertheless the FTA was ratified.

In response to the growing political discontent with the electoral and political process, including the constitutional crisis stemming from the failure of the ruling circles to recognize the sovereignty of Quebec, a series of public consultations was held from 1989 to 1992. The Royal Commission on Electoral Financing was established and the Spicer Commission on the Future of Canada held public hearings to involve Canadians in deliberations on the constitution. The striving of the people for empowerment echoed across Canada throughout this period but their wishes were callously ignored.

In 1991, the election law was amended to further marginalize Canadians and obstruct their participation. For instance, the candidate deposit fee was increased from $200 to $1,000, non-refundable. Restrictions on "third party" financing were introduced. Again the opportunity for renewal was rejected. On the constitutional front, when the 1992 Charlottetown Accord was rejected by Canadians despite being supported by all of the establishment forces, the entire ruling elite declared it would ignore this rejection and carry on "business as usual."

In the 1993 election, the Progressive Conservatives were decimated, the party having fractured into the pro-western monopoly interests embodied in the Reform Party and the Bloc Québécois, representing Quebec and the unresolved constitutional crisis of the country. The negotiations between the ruling factions and their united opposition against the striving of the people for empowerment were carried out based on the system whereby a Party-in-Power and an Official Opposition formed by the other "major party" could collude and contend to further their factional interests where necessary while uniting to keep everyone else out of power all the time. Debate between them and what were called reasonable accommodations were used to sort out the kind of rule which best accommodated their interests, while permitting the stability required by allowing the party which received a majority of seats to rule unmolested. Minority parliaments were used to reshuffle the decks and re-establish the system. All of this worked until the aim of the ruling class changed with the emergence of the need to fleece the public treasury to favour the new needs of the monopolies to become number one on global markets.

In terms of electoral reform, aside from a review of the electoral law in 1998 resulting in "administrative and technical changes," the only substantive changes from 1993 through to 2003 were in response to Charter Challenges. The $1,000 candidate deposit was found unconstitutional and made refundable; the requirement for a party to field 50 candidates to become or maintain its registered status was dropped to one candidate; and the limits on third party spending were upheld but modified.

At each turn, where the Supreme Court of Canada forced the election act to be reformed to make it consistent with democratic principles, the ruling parties refused to provide it with modern definitions of democratic rights and instead carried out more self-serving reforms. Amendment after amendment made the law more incoherent.

From 2003, when the Chretien Liberals introduced the per-vote subsidy, reforms to the Canada Elections Act started being enacted in the most fast and furious self-serving way to cover up scandal and or pursue ideological aims. In 2006, the Conservative government, which has now been found guilty of violating spending limits in the election that brought them to power, introduced the Accountability Act. Amongst other things, they completely banned corporate and trade union funding and reduced the amount that individuals could contribute from $5,000 to $1,000, again in the name of "ending the influence of money" in the electoral and political process -- a cruel irony for Canadians as they suffered the escalation of the neoliberal anti-social offensive and the dictate of the monopolies over all government decisions and society. "Fixed-date" elections were introduced and, as with the current Senate reforms, the motto was "constitutional change without opening the constitution," meaning that the Royal Prerogative exercised by the executive should remain untouched and the mistake of 1992, where for a brief moment Canadians were allowed to express their will for fundamental reforms to vest sovereignty in themselves, must not be repeated. The changes have been introduced without any regard whatsoever for the fundamental political theory on which the parliamentary system is based and in hidebound refusal to renovate the democratic process so as to eliminate its serious limitations which block the empowerment of the citizenry.

Far from the reforms sorting out a single problem of corruption, they have increased the concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands reaching the current situation where the Harper government is serving monopoly right with impunity and the opposition is unable to hold his government to account for anything, even the changes to the financing of political parties which they now oppose! All of this is a result of the refusal to renovate the democratic process so that it establishes a mechanism which empowers Canadians to exercise control over the decisions which affect their lives. It is as clear as clear can be that the parliamentary arrangements have become ineffective and anachronistic. The reforms to increase the financing of political parties were based in the first place on the fact that political parties had no members and could not raise the kinds of funds they required to finance their bids for election. The parties used their positions in the Parliament to pass self-serving legislation which permitted them to abscond with funds from the state treasury in the name of strengthening the democratic process, which it did not. It merely exacerbated its crisis.

The circle closes: the 1993 disequilibrium in the Parliament manifested itself in the inability of the party system to deal with the sponsorship scandal -- the biggest corruption scandal in Canadian history up to that time. Neither could the opposition parties hold the Chretien Liberals to account, nor could they establish a new modus operandi agreeable to all the parties. Now, these parties are finding it increasingly impossible to hold the Harper government to account.

Abusing Power and Privilege to Strengthen Power and Privilege

In eliminating the per-vote subsidy, the Harper Conservatives are suggesting that they are addressing the desire of Canadians to see an end to power and privilege, one form of which is state-funding of the political parties of the establishment. In fact, the elimination of the subsidy merely maintains a system of state-funding which the Harper Conservatives believe will consolidate their relative financial strength over the other parties. They have concocted a false distinction in forms of state funding, referring to the per-vote subsidy as "direct funding," seeming to suggest the huge election expense reimbursements are something else.

The cartel-party system is one which garners increased popular opposition to power and privilege. It creates within it the space for demagogues such as the Harper Conservatives to attempt to position themselves as being against the privilege of the ruling elite while in fact they are merely the most self-serving and cut-throat manipulators of the system.

The Harper Conservatives are clearly neither opposed to state subsidization of political parties nor power and privilege for the political parties of the establishment. Were this the case, they would also eliminate all the other forms of state subsidization for political parties, such as the reimbursement of election expenses. The political parties of Canada's establishment remain heavily subsidized by the state even with the elimination of the per-vote subsidy, to the extent that they are commonly referred to as "wards of the state" in Canadian political literature.

The Conservatives are abusing their power to push this self-serving electoral reform through Parliament. Far from advancing "integrity and accountability" in governance as they demagogically claim, they are in contempt of the very concepts, using their majority position to declare that they represent Canadians, that the Canadian people "have spoken" and that the Conservatives can therefore do whatever they wish.

Their unilateral action to end the per-vote subsidy symbolizes the concentration of power in the interests of new state arrangements based on monopoly right where all so-called reasonable accommodations between the factions of the ruling class are to be ended. The state power is no longer to be wielded just against the working class and Canadian people, but also against any rivals to the striving of the dominant faction of the ruling class whether at home or abroad.

Those who allege that the Conservatives are eliminating the per-vote subsidy to cripple the other parties in Parliament and consolidate their majority for the next federal election are missing the big picture. These political parties are instruments of a definite kind of rule and it is this rule which is being transformed from one based on what was called the public good to one which enforces the stranglehold of the monopolies over all the assets of the nation -- from the resources, to the use to which labour power is applied, to manipulation of the political institutions and seizure of the entire state treasury. The absence of any apparent principle in the approach to the state-funding of political parties is precisely because the theoretical underpinnings of the parliamentary system established a century ago have been replaced with hooliganism and the use of violence to establish all the arrangements wanted by the monopolies.

Everything is being wrecked. The Wheat Board is being destroyed despite the established mechanisms working very well for the farmers and providing a reasonable basis to defend their interests and exercise control over the decisions which affect their livelihoods. Individuals are declared war criminals without due process, others are deprived of their citizenship in the most foul and arbitrary way, while the unions are being attacked and Canada has become an aggressor nation. All of it underscores the dangers of the unfolding and deepening crisis of the party-dominated system of so-called representative democracy. This system is in utter crisis in Canada -- why would anyone support its imposition on the peoples of Haiti, Afghanistan, Libya and other countries?

The reason this new change to electoral party financing rules is being pushed through an omnibus budget implementation bill is precisely so that its significance is completely eclipsed. Not only is it overwhelmed by the weight of so many simultaneous changes to so many other acts, but any discourse is diverted to the Harper government's jargon that it is about accountability, transparency and fairness, as well as the counterspin that it is just Harper who is dictator-like.

In dealing with the Harper agenda Canadians are dealing with the agenda of the monopolies to make Canada a base for fascism and war. The reforms to the political financing provisions are part of the seizure of power to render not just the striving for empowerment on the part of the Canadian working class and people ineffective by criminalizing it, but also to render the opposition parties and any rivals for power ineffective. It must not pass!

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Security Perimeter Negotiations

Oppose the Establishment of United States of
North American Monopolies!
No to a North American Security Perimeter!

The annual North American Leaders' Summit, bringing together U.S. President Barrack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, was scheduled to take place in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 13, following the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting, also in Honolulu, November 12-13. However, it was cancelled due to the death of Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora and other Mexican government officials in a Helicopter crash on November 11. Canadian monopoly are now raising a hue and cry that the cancellation of the Summit could set back Canada-U.S. negotiations on a North American Security Perimeter if Harper and Obama don't find the opportunity to officially announce the completion of the Action Plan. The Action Plan authorizes the implementation of all the annexationist measures they are putting in place. It is now expected that Obama and Harper will hold a bilateral meeting to launch the Action Plan following the APEC Summit. 

The ongoing negotiations on a North American Security Perimeter represent the push by U.S. imperialism to establish a United States of North American Monopolies which puts the territory, natural resources and working class of Canada, Mexico and the United States at the disposal of U.S. imperialism in its quest to dominate the peoples of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The annual North American Leaders Summits which began in 2005 under U.S. President, oil tycoon and war criminal George W. Bush; Canadian Prime Minister and Canada Steamship Lines owner Paul Martin Jr.; and Mexican President and former President of Coca-Cola Mexico Vincente Fox represent this trend. They were organized to bring together the executives of the three governments to negotiate a "Security and Prosperity Partnership" (SPP) for North America in the service of the biggest North American monopolies.

Honolulu, Hawaii, October 17, 2011 (Civil Beat)

Referring to the so-called Leaders' Summit, a White House communique explains the plan for the North America of the Monopolies saying it "will build on wide-ranging, on-going cooperation among the United States, Canada, and Mexico with a particular focus on competitiveness, citizen security, energy and climate change, and North America's role in the Americas as well as in global economic, political, and security issues."

Reports from activists in Honolulu indicate that "citizen security" will not be provided to those opposed to the APEC or North American Leaders' Summit as the City and County of Honolulu alone are said to have budgeted $45 million for security, including $18.3 million for the police. "The Honolulu Police Department has purchased an arsenal of ‘non-lethal' weapons and 25,000 additional pepper spray projectiles, 18,000 units of bean bag ammunition, 3,000 Taser cartridges, and hundreds of smoke grenades. More than 5,500 Army and National Guard troops are being trained to assist the Honolulu police."

News reports indicated that some of the "issues" that were likely to be on the agenda for the North American Leaders’ Summit include: the establishment of a Cap-and-Trade system to establish a carbon market, negotiations on approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and the ongoing war being waged by U.S. authorities against Mexico in the name of opposing the "drug cartels" and "gangs."

Construction of the  Keystone Pipeline has now been postponed and it was recently reported in U.S. media that a U.S. government operation code-named "The Fast and the Furious" saw U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials facilitate the movement of 2,500 high-powered firearms into Mexico from the United States that ended up in the hands of criminal gangs. Damage control over this operation was to have been part of the Summit agenda.

In the lead-up to the Summit, the monopoly-owned media and various politicians in Canada had begun presenting "issues" in which to embroil Canadians and rally them behind the annexationist agenda of the ruling class. Such issues included Prime Minister Harper's ability to negotiate with the U.S. and the "jobs benefit" of annexation. In urging President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Prime Minister Harper stated: "It will create not just thousands of jobs in Canada, but also in the United States as well. For the United States in particular, our view is that this project is pretty fundamental to a goal that the United States has had for a long time, and that is domestic energy security." This deliberate attempt to rally the people behind annexation in the name of job creation is par for the course and must not pass.

One aim of giving a positive spin to the announcement of the Action Plan is to portray Harper as a "tough negotiator," just as a negative spin is to say he did not negotiate hard enough.  Either way, annexation is presented as something positive for the people.

The working class of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico stands as one in the struggle for their rights and the rights of all. It has its own nation-building projects based not on annexation but proletarian internationalism and opposition to empire building, especially  the wars of aggression and occupation waged by the U.S. imperialists. Not only do we oppose attempts to use Canada and Mexico and the U.S. working class as as a base for its wars of aggression but any attempts to now use Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to invade the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean must be opposed. U.S. Imperialism  represents the greatest threat to the security and stability of the world's people.

Annexation No! Sovereignty Yes!

(Global News, The New American, World Can't Wait)

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"Thickening Border" Disinformation

The disinformation on the negotiations towards a North American Security Perimeter starts from the premise that annexing Canada into the United States is a benefit for Canadians because it will counter the "thickening of the border." Barrie McKenna, in the Globe and Mail writes: "Canada is counting on the [security perimeter] deal to help reverse post-9/11 thickening at the border by better co-ordinating security and getting rid of red tape. But every few days, it seems, Canadians wake up to news of another affront to their continental pride, and their wallets. A proposed U.S. tariff on Canadian freight. Talk of more fences and drones along the 49th parallel. A tax crackdown on Americans living in Canada. Stiffening opposition to a crucial conduit for Alberta's oil. A new round of "Buy American" government purchasing restrictions. All the good things that ultimately flow from the Beyond the Border deal risk being overwhelmed by powerful, isolationist tendencies in the United States."

The notion of the "thickening border" refers to security, customs and inspection regulations that slow the movement or increase the cost of goods which go from Canada to the U.S. or vice versa. This results in lost profits for the monopolies in various ways. Some of the more extreme delays to the movement of goods at the Canada-U.S. border were deliberately put in place by the U.S. government, as it prepared to invade Afghanistan in 2001 and then Iraq in 2003. These delays were used to pressure Canada into going along with U.S. imperialism's war preparations on the basis of fear that if Canada did not participate, our economy would be strangled.

The delays especially affect the automotive monopolies that use "just-in-time production" in order to eliminate warehousing inventory by purchasing parts just-in-time for assembly. This means that any slow-down at the border to the movement of parts from one country to another affects production in assembly plants. These cross-border "integrated supply chains," as they are known, are in opposition to Canada having a self-reliant economy that can produce its own vehicles for the Canadian market without being held to ransom by U.S. imperialism. There is no problem with integrated supply chains per se. The problem is that they are integrated across borders. They are part of a manufacturing base that is organized on a North American basis whereby workers in one country, who supply parts or assemble finished products, are pitted by the monopolies against workers in another in order to keep wages and benefits at the lowest level possible in order to maximize monopoly profits. Workers in this integrated supply chain face brutal insecurity as the monopolies demand concessions and more difficult working conditions, threatening to shut down and shift production elsewhere whenever workers stand up for their rights. A good example is the upcoming negotiations at the Big 3 automakers in Canada where Canadian autoworkers are being pressured to "compete" with concessions and changes to pension agreements recently imposed on American workers.

According to the monopoly-owned media, which openly favour annexation, by further submitting to U.S. dictate our economy will benefit with a reduction in the "thickness of the border." Benefit whom is not stated. According to these pundits the only issue for Canadians is that there is a need to find a balance between losing sovereignty and getting something in return. The "something in return," we are told, is quicker movement of "goods and people" across the border and "jobs."

The fact that U.S. domination of the economy is causing the destruction of manufacturing capacity, as is the case in the Steel sector, and the theft of our natural resources for processing in the U.S. and the jobs which go along with it is not considered a problem or a reason to think twice about further annexation and the elimination of the border. Instead, we are told, Canadians will benefit from more domination of our economy by U.S. monopolies and streamlined supply chains and that the government should be a "strong negotiator" to counter U.S. "protectionism." Meanwhile, these same monopolies that are demanding the elimination of the border, push protectionism in the United States when it serves their narrow interests.

While opposing U.S. protectionism is presented as an issue of concern for Canadians, new arrangements being made to put U.S. security forces in Canadian factories in the name of speeding up the movement of goods, is not. Instead this is presented as part of the give and take between "prosperity" and "security."

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Truth About  Predator Drones
Patrolling Canada-U.S. Border

While the Harper government pushes to put in place a Security Perimeter in the name of speeding up the movement of goods and people across the border, U.S. authorities are using the Canadian monopoly-owned media to acclimatize Canadians to the militarization of the border and broad invasions into their private lives.

In a September 29 item in the Globe and Mail, reporter Paul Koring recounted his visit to a U.S. military airbase in Grand Forks, North Dakota, at the invitation of U.S. officials to learn about the two Predator drones stationed there which patrol the Canada-U.S. border.

The item states that "The two planes, one at a time, patrol from Muskeg Bay, in the Lake of the Woods area on the Ontario-Minnesota border, to roughly 1,500 kilometres west beyond Spokane, Wash., and from the 49th parallel to 160 kilometres south. That's 246,000 square kilometres to roam, or roughly the airspace over Britain."

The premise of the U.S. officials is allegedly that Canadians are "mystified" about the use of military surveillance along what used to be described as the world's longest unguarded border. Thus Koring and the Globe and Mail can help them "demystify" things. This premise is itself mystification and obfuscation about U.S. annexationist designs on Canada, of which the drones patrolling the border are an extension. U.S. "manifest destiny" to annex Canada is well-known and rejection of this U.S. Design can be said to be integral to the Canadian identity. The so-called demystification is nothing more than an exercise to disinform Canadians about the annexationist agenda.

"Like their missile-carrying military cousins prowling Pakistan's skies targeting al-Qaeda suspects, the unarmed Predator aircraft that have patrolled the 49th parallel since 2009 are high-tech, sophisticated and little understood. And they are part of the same diffuse and determined effort the United States is making to secure its borders and defend itself," Koring writes. This is quite a blithe remark about the role of Predator aircraft in Pakistan. Firstly, it presents as perfectly acceptable that U.S. military aircraft run rampant in sovereign Pakistani airspace as part of widening the illegal war and occupation of Afghanistan. Secondly, it covers up that the use of drones in Pakistan, and many other places, is a method of assassination and terrorism. Civilians are indiscriminately killed and then it is claimed that they were mistaken for someone else or blamed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Comparing the drones used over Pakistan to those used at the Canada-U.S. border is also an attempt at "guilt by association," the implication being that Canada poses a potential terrorist threat to the U.S. and must be dealt with accordingly.

The remarks of the official in charge of the drones targeting Canada indicate the arbitrary basis on which the surveillance is carried out:

"We're here to protect the nation [U.S.] from bad people doing bad things," said John Priddy, U.S. National Air Security Operations director for the Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine.

An example is given of "how staff watched a car stop briefly on one of the many rural roads that run parallel to the border. A handful of men got out, oblivious to the Predator circling perhaps five kilometres up. These men, like others before them, were Somalis, heading north, trying to sneak into Canada, Mr. Priddy said. The RCMP was alerted."

"It's the unpredictability of where one could be, and the near impossibility to detect it even overhead, that provide its powerful deterrent value," Koring writes.

These stories are published at a time when the Harper regime is trying to criminalize immigrants and refugees and are aimed at justifying this racist agenda and the militarization of the border. Immigration through unofficial channels is a social matter, certainly not a criminal, security or military matter.

The reality is that the U.S. has been unable to justify its mistreatment of Canadian citizens and residents at the border, including rendition to torture, on the pretext of threats to its national security. In other words, stopping "bad people from doing bad things" is an unfounded justification for the use of drones and provides a licence for further arbitrariness.

The real aim of "demystifying" the drones at the border is to acclimatize Canadians to being subservient to a foreign agenda, subjected to constant surveillance by "eyes in the sky" and persecuted on the basis of their political or religious beliefs, race and any other basis the U.S. decides. The drones and the campaign for Canadians to get used to them must be rejected.

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November 12, 2011 Bulletin • Return to Index • Write to: