July 9, 2016 - No. 28

Canada Post's Vicious, Immoral and
Irrational Blackmail of Postal Workers

Hold Canada Post and the Trudeau Government to Account for Any Harm that Comes to Postal Workers!

Trudeau Government's Fraudulent Electoral Reform Program
CPC(M-L) Launches Ambitious Battle for Democratic Renewal
"It's Your Democracy" -- Using and Abusing the Big Lie Technique
Government's Program for Consultation on Electoral Reform
Perfunctory House of Commons Special Committee
Significance of Liberal Party's Transformation of "Members" and "Supporters" into "Registered Liberals"
- Anna Di Carlo -
Liberal Party's New Constitution

NATO War Summit in Warsaw, Poland
All Out to Oppose NATO and Its War Preparations!
Dismantle NATO! Get Canada Out of NATO!

No Canadian Troops in the Baltics and Eastern Europe!
- Dougal MacDonald -

For Your Information
Overview of NATO War Summit

Third Anniversary of Lac-Mégantic Tragedy
Build a Public Authority that Defends the Public Interest,
Not Private Monopoly Interest!

Mass Rally in Lac-Mégantic for Rail Safety

New Rail Line Bypassing Town Centre Needed Soon
- Robert Bellefleur, Spokesperson,
Coalition of Citizens and Groups for Rail Safety -

Workers Still Under Framework Where Railways
Create and Enforce Their Own Rules
- Brian Stevens, Unifor National Rail Director -
Massive Layoff of CP Maintenance Workers
Jeopardizes Rail Lines and Public Safety

- Wade Phillips, Director, Eastern Region, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, Maintenance of Way Employees Division -
Monopolies' Plans for Cameras to Monitor Train Crews
Threaten Privacy and Safety

- Don Ashley, National Legislative Director,
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference -

Canada Post's Vicious, Immoral and Irrational Blackmail of Postal Workers

Hold Canada Post and the
Trudeau Government to Account for
Any Harm that Comes to Postal Workers!

As the deadline for the lockout of postal workers by Canada Post approaches it is clear that the corporation has decided to proceed in a spirit of revenge against postal workers and their union. It is not only preparing to impose severe rollbacks but is seeking to overwhelm postal workers with irrational demands such as that management can set whatever working conditions it wants. This attempt to use their corporate power to deprive the postal workers of their right to working conditions commensurate with the work they perform is not only vindictive -- it is irrational. The post office has a century of experience in the kind of working conditions required to run the postal service. There is a modern way of doing things which takes the needs of human beings into account. The corporation's calculations that it can impose its agenda by smashing the workers' resistance and their fight for the rights of all is self-serving and cannot be accepted.

Using the threat of a lockout -- which the corporation has now postponed from midnight July 8 to 12:01 am on July 11, 2016 -- it seeks to make the attacks on the rights of the workers a fait accompli. These attacks are referred to as "negotiations" by the monopoly media and the likes of the Trudeau government.

The latest evidence of Canada Post's depravity came on Wednesday, July 6, 2016, when management began posting a letter on work floors across the country announcing their intention to unilaterally declare working conditions in direct violation of the present conditions of employment.

The letter reveals that although the corporation issued a 72-hour notice of lockout to the union, this does not mean that Canada Post will stop operating. Far from it, Canada Post says it will comply with basic requirements stipulated in the Canada Labour Code and the workers must come under this dictate.

The letter states, "As of Friday, July 8, 2016, (now changed to Monday, July 11, 2016) the terms and conditions of the current collective agreements will no longer apply. Under the new terms and conditions, employees will continue to receive their regular pay and some benefits such as applicable prescription drug coverage. Other items will be cancelled in line with the statutory minimum conditions established under the Canada Labour Code. The Corporation will also have the flexibility to adjust staffing according to the amount of work required." (CPC(M-L) emphasis.)

This is a grave provocation. According to the corporation, postal workers must report to work once the deadline for lockout has passed and face the arbitrary rule of Canada Post management which is one-sided, self-serving and irrational. Canada Post thinks it can operate the post office by eliminating organizational structures and working conditions which have been developed over decades, all for the purpose of imposing a corporate agenda on the workers. This is the level to which the corporation has sunk. To boot, it arrogantly calls this part of the "negotiations process."

Canada Post's letter reveals the depravity of Canada Post management. Far from taking responsibility for its workforce which is fighting to uphold its hard won rights, it claims that this action is necessary because "[t]he uncertainty caused by the prolonged negotiations and the union's strike mandate is having a negative and escalating impact on the postal service."

To claim that such self-serving poppycock is the "truth" shows what Canadians are up against when monopolies can use their power to impose private interests on the public. The fact is that for the past few months representatives of Canada Post have been going around the country advising their customers to use other means to do their mailing. Canadians have heard this. What is the significance? The significance is that since the beginning of negotiations it is the corporation that has been threatening to close the doors of the post office if management does not get its way. In fact, it is only the spokespersons of Canada Post who have repeatedly talked about this "disruption of postal services," for which they blame the union, even though it is the corporation that has refused to negotiate at the "negotiations table."

Meanwhile, the Trudeau government is pretending to be neutral although, in fact, it is playing the game of the corporation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is not considering back-to-work legislation if there is a work stoppage at Canada Post. The government "believes in good-faith negotiations that happen around the bargaining table," he said. Referring to back-to-work legislation, Trudeau said there is no need to be "heavy-handed."

What about blackmail which threatens that if postal workers do not comply with the arbitrary dictate of managers on the shop floor they will be criminalized? Is that how the rule of law now operates under the Liberal regime? Canada Post's letter has no other intent than to break the resistance of the workers and their union. Is that not "heavy-handed?"

Is the job of the government to support the corporation under the pretense that it is "neutral" when it should be upholding public right? Negotiations are also inscribed in labour law and require good-faith bargaining and fairness. Unless they are premised on respect for workers' rights, not the use of corporate might to impose a corporate agenda to the detriment of the workers and society, there is no use pretending the law is worthy of any respect whatsoever.

The so-called neutral, anti-heavy-handed position of the Trudeau government is contemptible and exposes a profound hypocrisy and prejudice in favour of Canada Post's privatization agenda. It is clear that the Trudeau government has decided to allow the most vicious attacks on postal workers and call it "good-faith negotiations."

The government must be made to answer for its alleged neutrality. It must take responsibility for its failure to answer for the kind of society it is presiding over which allows such flagrant attacks on workers and their rights. Are these criminal attacks of the corporation against the workers examples of "common values" the Trudeau government has declared unite us on the eve of the 150th anniversary of Confederation?

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) calls on Canadians from all walks of life to tell their Members of Parliament that this is not acceptable. CPC(M-L) calls on all union centrals and locals to demand an end to this charade.

What outcome do Canada Post and the government expect from this threat to impose the so-called minimum standards of the Canada Labour Code on Canada's postal workers as of 12:01 am on July 11? The corporation has refused to negotiate anything. It has from the start of the negotiating process imposed its demands which are unacceptable to the postal workers. Does it really think the postal workers are just going to agree with this? Is this the new normal in Canada that workers can only have a job if they give up their rights and their conscience?

Any public authority worthy of the name would intervene and stop Canada Post from issuing such blackmail and acting with impunity. The corporation should be charged with fomenting anarchy and chaos in the post office and held responsible for the consequences which result from this imposition.

CPC(M-L) calls on Canadians to oppose any attempt to criminalize postal workers who defend their working conditions. These working conditions must be conducive to doing their job safely and with dignity. Canada Post and the Trudeau government must be held to account should any harm come to the workers as a result of refusing unsafe work, including full compensation should they be sent home under any pretext whatsoever.

Canadian workers are fighting to defend their rights in all sectors of the economy. Monopoly corporations dictate the terms of work, pay, pensions and benefits and even whether the monopolies pay taxes or environmental cleanup bills. There is no due process for the workers to defend their interests. Insolvency courts declare that the Boards of Directors of the companies have businesspeople who are best-versed in telling the court what should be done. Governments take the same approach. It must not pass. It is the fight of the workers for their own wages, working conditions, pensions and benefits which defends the rights of all.

Let Us Together Take a Bold Step in Defence of the Rights of All!
Say No to Canada Post! Stand with the Postal Workers to Defy the Unacceptable and Immoral Position of Canada Post and the Trudeau Government!
The Time to Take a Principled Stand Is Now!

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Trudeau Government's Fraudulent Electoral Reform Program

CPC(M-L) Launches Ambitious Battle for
Democratic Renewal

Leading up to the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) calls upon the people to join its year-long program for democratic renewal. The Party launched the program with a highly successful public conference in Vancouver on June 25. The Vancouver Conference reflected the desire of the Party to involve citizens and residents from all walks of life in the work for democratic renewal and a modern constitution. Further conferences are planned throughout the country and Canadians are urged to join the battle for democracy and put the Party at their disposal for this important work.

The people's initiative is crucial in all things political. The ruling elite are trying to overwhelm Canadians with a set agenda of political reforms to "restore the credibility" of political parties, elections and Parliament, as they put it. The time is now for everyone to put forward their own proposals rather than allow themselves to be overwhelmed with a set of pre-defined choices coming from the Prime Minister's Office that are meant to block any political movement from emerging that holds high a pro-social agenda to renew the democracy in the people's favour.

Let's Get Together and Discuss!

MLPC President Rolf Gerstenberger addresses the Party's Vancouver conference, June 25, 2016.

CPC(M-L) bases its program for democratic renewal on involving the people in politics. The people themselves must be political for democratic renewal to become a reality. The working people must put themselves at the centre of political life in Canada. They must be the architects of their own nation-building project that affirms their sovereignty and empowerment. Otherwise, the ruling elite who hold power will block the people from participating in politics and grind them down even further as voting cattle to be targeted and abused every four years by the mass media and public relations firms masquerading as political parties.

Rolf Gerstenberger, President of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, the electoral name of CPC(M-L), and former President of United Steelworkers Local 1005 in Hamilton opened the Conference in Vancouver with a spirited presentation: "What Kind of Democracy for Canada -- The Challenge the Workers Accept." What kind of democracy indeed, Rolf said, that for every single day of the last 150 years, the ruling elite have made the biggest effort not to involve workers and others in politics but to discourage them and attack them if they dare organize to express their views as individuals or in their collectives. Rolf gave example after example of how organized workers wanting to solve the economic problems they face and those of their enterprises and communities are rebuffed and ridiculed and denied any voice in the political process or the solving of problems.

Thousands of steelworkers and others such as Nortel and forestry workers have had their retirement benefits and pensions stolen from them with the stroke of a judge's pen under Canada's fraudulent corporate bankruptcy process. The political parties in power and governments say their hands are tied and can do nothing. Doing nothing, not solving problems is not politics, Rolf said. It is anti-politics; it is anti-people and anti-democratic. If the working people were in power they would not allow such crimes of the monopolies to continue. In Alberta, 100,000 people are laid off because of oil prices that are supposedly out of our control and oil monopolies that are beyond the reach of government and the people, and this is considered "business as usual." This is only "business as usual" because the people are denied their right to be political, denied their right to a say and to be in control of their lives and all those matters that affect their lives.

In Montreal, municipal workers have been charged as common criminals for standing up and stating and demonstrating publicly that governments have turned their collective agreements into so much garbage. The big monopolies, private or public, such as U.S. Steel, the cities or Canada Post say "take it or leave it" and if the unions do not agree to concessions they are punished with lockouts and criminalized. This would not be considered acceptable in a democracy where people have rights that are guaranteed. Those defining our rights today and those deciding our fate today -- the government officials, judges and executives of the big corporations -- are not our peers, they do not share weal and woe with us, they do not work beside us in the mills, hospitals, educational institutions, offices, public services, forests, factories and mines. Their interests and views clash with those of the working people, Rolf said, yet they are in power and that is what has to change, that is what democratic renewal has to change and it is up to us the people to make it happen.

National Leader of the MLPC Anna Di Carlo and a representative of Youth for Democratic Renewal also addressed the Conference followed by many interventions from the audience.

Modern Definition of Rights

The Conference discussed a modern definition of rights that centres on the reality that people have rights by virtue of being human. In Canada, a modern definition of rights has never materialized officially because people are marginalized from power. Democratic renewal must challenge the status quo where rights are defined outside a government of laws by the arbitrary, prerogative powers of the state, also known as the police powers. These powers were exercised in defence of the British Empire at the time of Confederation and today on behalf of U.S. imperialism and the global monopolies that dominate the people and country. With the society organized without a government of laws defining and guaranteeing rights, the rights of the people are subject to self-serving "reasonable limits."

When it comes to deciding the direction of the economy and foreign policy no rights of the people are recognized, as all power rests with monopoly right. Free trade agreements and military alliances subordinate Canada within the imperialist system of states and negate the right of Canadians to decide on political, military, economic, social and environmental matters.

Regarding rights, whoever decides the conception and definition of rights and writes the constitution, the basic law, also defines what kind of democracy exists. The police power has always defined rights in Canada -- in the 19th century to defend British colonial rights and now to defend monopoly right within the U.S.-dominated imperialist system of states. A modern definition of rights and a concrete guarantee of rights and duties by a government of laws subject to the sovereign people within a modern constitution are central to democratic renewal.

Removing the Gatekeepers of Power

Participants in the conference discussed that when it comes to the reform of the electoral system, the ruling elite in Parliament through the Committee now in session want to ensure no public discussion takes place on what is required today to guarantee the right to elect and be elected. How is such a right concretized, which includes the right to an informed vote and assurances that elected representatives and the democratic institutions are subordinate to the electorate?

The Committee of Parliament under the direction of the PMO insists that people line up behind one of three options for how votes are counted: first-past-the-post, proportional representation, or ranked ballots. This is not discussion, participants in the Conference pointed out; this belittles the discussion on democratic renewal and blocks conscious participation. Presenting a ready-made agenda and choices is similar to the presentation of cartel party agendas and their candidates on election ballots and all the media hoopla and advertising that goes into the current election process. The three choices reflect the preferences of the cartel parties in the House of Commons, which support one or other of the choices based on self-serving calculations to ensure their victory in elections. The Parliamentary Committee and cartel parties are determined to block discussion and discourage people from participating in democratic renewal. It is up to the people to turn this around; no one else is going to do it for us.

The Role of the Working Class Movement

Discussion took place on how the political parties of the ruling elite have long been used to split the working class along party lines. Instead of the working class presenting one of their peers to be elected, for example a worker activist with a proven history of leadership, workers are divided along party lines and agendas over which they have no control.

The working class is humiliated as a special interest group and denied the dignity and position of honour as the actual producers of value on which the people and society rely for their existence. Democratic renewal must ensure that the actual producers, the working people, can exercise control over the direction of the economy and all those economic, political, military and social affairs that affect their lives.

The cartel political parties in power and opposition no longer serve as primary political organizations but on the contrary act as gatekeepers of power. They block people from thinking about, discussing and participating with their peers consciously and actively in politics and democratic renewal.

How the people remove the gatekeepers from blocking them from participating in politics and from political power was an important question on the minds of the participants in the Conference. The crucial factor at this time is for everyone to become involved in the discussion on democratic renewal and present their views.

The MLPC has given the executive members of the MLPC and Youth for Democratic Renewal the task of speaking to workers and their allies across the country as well as involving the youth. In this role Rolf invites individuals and groups to join with CPC(M-L) to organize meetings so that the discussion on democratic renewal can be broadened and become a real force for pro-social change.

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"It's Your Democracy" --
Using and Abusing the Big Lie Technique

CPC(M-L) calls on Canadians to reject the Liberal government's assault
on their consciousness and its imposition of predetermined choices
referred to as electoral reform.

The government of Canada on July 6 launched its official guidelines for participating in discussions on reform to the electoral system in an attempt to prevent Canadians from going outside the narrow confines of discussing the "choices" predetermined by the Prime Minister's Office and cartel party system.

This coincided with Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef appearing before the House of Commons Special Committee as a witness to present the guidelines and state that the first-past-the-post system should be replaced. The fact that the Minister, the Cabinet and Prime Minister's Office have jumped ahead of the Special Parliamentary Committee to declare the agenda for consultations and how electoral reform is to be discussed makes a clear statement about how the Trudeau government intends to control the so-called democratic process.

The irony is that all of it is done in the name of eliminating elitism and hierarchy, while being a quintessential expression of elitism and hierarchy itself. It is done in the name of "modernizing the system," the meaning of which is eliminating the human factor/social consciousness in favour of turning the polity into a giant Facebook page where people can click their "likes" and "dislikes" and algorithms calculate the outcome of where Canadians allegedly stand.

The government's guidelines set out in detail the marketing methods employed by the neo-liberal ruling elite to calculate how Canadians should think and about what. Their participation in politics is reduced to the most ridiculous choices provided by marketing consultants. The problems of democracy are reduced to calculating phoney majorities put together on a fraudulent basis. How citizens should view Canada's electoral and political system, what questions they should ask about official proposals and even the way they should talk to others, hold meetings and what to write on Twitter are all predetermined by the private consultants and provided for consumption.

The guidelines claim to be non-partisan, bipartisan, modern and all kinds of other silly things which have no meaning within any context other than within the boardrooms of the corporations and think-tanks that are making a killing by privatizing public governance in the so-called democratic countries. The questions, the methods and the results are all based on the neo-liberal outlook of the ruling elite and are designed to smash the people's political movement in defense of their rights and the rights of all. A disempowered electorate which has no means of exercising control over the decisions which affect the lives of the people and the fate of the country is the last thing a country like Canada needs. This is a time when the imperialist system of states to which Canada belongs is preparing for a new redivision of the world. Anarchy and violence have seized hold of the United States and Europe, causing untold suffering and havoc everywhere.

The basic framework of the so-called guidelines issued by the Liberal government is to stop Canadians from drawing conclusions based on their direct experience and thinking about how problems pose themselves concretely. The program of so-called consultation begins by attempting to saturate Canadians with the big lie, "It's your democracy and your government." Dogmas are imposed in the form of phrases such as the following: "Canada has a strong and deeply rooted democracy" and "Federal electoral reform is part of the Government's stronger democracy agenda."

This is a time when Canadians need to exercise control over the decisions which affect their lives. This includes the direction of the economy and matters related to wages, benefits, pensions and working conditions. It also concerns all matters related to the key problems of war and peace. The Trudeau Liberals are taking the country from an unacceptable situation which reduces the citizenry to voting once every four years, to one in which they exercise no control whatsoever over the decisions imposed on them by the elites in power. The government is so pathetic that it declares, "The electoral system is more than vote casting and counting -- it is a way for Canadians to influence their future, give their consent to be governed, and hold their representatives accountable."

This is precisely what the current political process does not permit Canadians to do and what the methods the Liberals are introducing to consult Canadians also will not permit them to do. The time for Canadians to rely on their own discussions and efforts to establish the kind of democratic renewal Canada requires is now. The need for democratic renewal must be discussed and in this manner brought into being.

Canadians need to work out the pertinent questions for themselves and demand answers from the government. For instance, if the electoral system is more than vote counting, why has the government set strict limits on the discussion so that it is reduced to picking one of three methods of counting votes?

Such methods might dazzle the social base of the cartel parties which are keen to battle it out between themselves to make sure their variant wins the competition, but they have nothing to do with gauging what Canadians want or need. To give a series of vague criteria for how Canadians should choose from amongst the predetermined choices the government is presenting is infantile. The clincher is that Canadians are asked only to consider the "proposed reforms." Who proposed these reforms, based on what considerations is not discussed. Canadians are not given the opportunity to propose reforms based on solving the problems they face, which makes the pious phrase that "It's your democracy and your government" ring hollow indeed.

The government's guidelines aim to prevent discussion from taking place. They reduce the role of human beings to that of on-line shoppers who are to select what they want from a list of predetermined choices that do not serve them. Far from permitting this process to marginalize and railroad them into irrelevancy, the people of this country can make a real difference by working out their own opinions on these matters amongst their peers in the workplaces, educational institutions, neighbourhoods and where seniors congregate.

CPC(M-L) is at the disposal of Canadians from all walks of life to assist in this work with the aim of making sure their concerns and aspirations are not marginalized and their right to conscience is not criminalized. Join in the work for democratic renewal!

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Government's Program for Consultation on
Electoral Reform

On July 6 the Government of Canada launched publications and a new website for Canadians to "Learn about Canadian federal electoral reform" and "Participate in Canadian federal electoral reform consultations." At the same time a new official Twitter account was created called Canadian Democracy to promote the material and the hashtag "#GetInvolvedinER." Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef appeared before the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform the same day to present the material and government's program.

All of this makes it clear that the government is sidestepping the Parliamentary electoral reform committee established on June 7 and proceeding with its own program, before the Committee can decide its own guidelines and consultation process. This is despite the fact that the government says it will "complement the work of the parliamentary committee." In the same vein, before the Committee was established the Liberals appointed two advisors to the Privy Council, from a neo-liberal think-tank and from academia, for the Department of Democratic Institutions and its Minister. Lori Turnbull and Mark D. Jarvis were hired in March 2016: Turnbull to act as a liaison between Monsef and the Department and Jarvis to serve as democratic reform policy advisor.[1] The other parties in the Parliament have not protested that the process has been taken out of their hands, both highlighting how they operate together as a cartel and the fact that they are content to not take responsibility for the outcome, whether it is status quo or one of the proposed reforms.

The government's new website and guidelines give an explanation for "Why Canadian federal electoral reform matters," "Why you should participate in the national dialogue on Canadian federal electoral reform," elaborate what it calls the "Guiding principles" for electoral reform and provides background information on the electoral system in Canada. The publications include a 38-page "guide to hosting a successful dialogue on Canadian federal election reform," and sample presentations, questions and agendas in the form of Microsoft Word and Powerpoint files.

The website states, "This is your opportunity to participate in a historic national dialogue about our democracy... Federal electoral reform is part of the Government's commitment to change. Canada has a strong and deeply rooted democracy. One way to protect our democratic values is by continuously seeking to improve the functioning of our democratic institutions -- including our voting system." It says, "By consulting the public on electoral reform, the Government is creating space to examine and improve Canada's federal electoral system -- a foundation of our democracy." The government also claims that the consultations will "strengthen our democratic culture and practices," "inspire Canadians, including the next generation of voters, to become active participants in the democratic process," and allow Canadians to "help shape the future of Canada's democracy."

Canadians are given "five guiding principles [that] may help you think about what you want from federal elections, your Member of Parliament (MP) and your federal government. They can help you decide what is important to you when it comes to potential changes to our democracy at the federal level..." These include "[restoring] the effectiveness and legitimacy of voting...;" "[encouraging] greater engagement and participation in the democratic process...;" "[supporting] accessibility and inclusiveness of all eligible voters, and avoiding undue complexity...;" "[safeguarding] the integrity of our voting process;" and "[preserving] the accountability of local representation."

The principles are "intended to spark debate and deliberation among Canadians" but the guidelines also state that the principles are just to be used for evaluating and stating preferences for one or another "potential changes" and "proposed reforms" to the method of counting votes which have already been decided on. These "proposed reforms" as explained in the guidelines are "the First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system;" "Majority systems" including "Alternative Vote (AV) and Run-off (or Two Round);" and "Proportional representation systems," including "Single Transferable Vote (STV) and List Proportional Representation (List PR)." These are referred to as "workable options" while other proposals such as those which deal with the crisis of the party system are not to be considered.

As part of its efforts to limit how Canadians discuss electoral reform the second part of the government's guidelines set out in meticulous detail how Canadians should consult their peers; how to plan events; what the invitation should say; where they should be held; what should be the topics and framework for discussion; how the meetings should be structured (down to the minute); what questions should be asked; how the meetings should be promoted and then how the "results" of the meeting should be given to the government for its use in deciding what, if any, reforms to enact. The government has even pre-written the Tweets, Facebook posts and media advisories.

The basic questions suggested by the government are which of the "proposed reforms" people like and what "guiding principles" they would emphasize. Other, more "open-ended" questions include, "What do you think could be done to help more Canadians feel more interested and involved in democracy," "How do you think we can measure the health of Canada's democracy? What do you think we could use as indicators of its health?" and "What do you think are some strengths of our current federal electoral system? What are some of the weaknesses?"

A template provided for submitting the results of meetings and consultations to the Parliamentary committee and the Minister of Democratic Institutions asks:

"Did you have a dialogue about electoral and democratic reform in general? Yes / No 

"If yes, what were the highlights of the dialogue? (open field)

"Did you have a dialogue about the principles and values that underpin Canada's democracy? Yes / No

"If yes, what were the highlights of the dialogue?

"What principle(s) did participants identify as most important?

"What principle(s) did participants identify as least important?

"Did you have a dialogue about different potential Canadian federal electoral reforms? Yes / No

"If yes, what were the highlights of the dialogue?"

The electoral reform consultation website also provides an event calendar for electoral reform consultations and allows events to be submitted for posting. As of July 9, seven Town Hall events were listed, all from Liberal MPs.


1. The Department of Democratic Institutions operates under the authority of the Privy Council Office. Mark D. Jarvis and Lori Turnbull are co-authors of the 2011 book Democratizing the Constitution: Reforming Responsible Government. Jarvis has been seconded from the Mowat Centre, a think-tank at the University of Toronto with a focus on neo-liberal government transformation. At the Mowat Centre he worked under Matthew Mendelsohn, its founder and director until he was hired by the Liberals as Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet in charge of results and delivery. Lori Turnbull was previously an associate professor of political science at Dalhousie University and more recently at Carleton University. Turnbull joined the Department of Political Science as a faculty member in July of 2005. She teaches courses in introductory politics, Canadian parliamentary government and pressure politics. Her major areas of research are Canadian parliamentary governance, political ethics, elections, electoral systems and public engagement.

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Perfunctory House of Commons Special Committee

The House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform held its first meeting on June 21 and four subsequent meetings, with the most recent taking place on July 8. A subcommittee has been created on Agenda and Procedure, which has held three meetings to date.

This Committee was established via an NDP motion in the House of Commons on June 7 by a vote of 229 to 91 after the government's original motion to strike a committee was abandoned over disputes between the parties on the composition of members. The motion as adopted included amendments presented by Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef on May 11 that were worked out in back-channel negotiations between the Liberals and the NDP.

The mandate of the Committee is to "identify and conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems to replace the first-past-the-post system, as well as to examine mandatory voting and online voting, and to assess the extent to which the options identified could advance" a series of "principles" identified by Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef.[1] The Committee is also mandated to "conduct a national engagement process that includes a comprehensive and inclusive consultation with Canadians." The Committee is to "present its final report no later than December 1, 2016."

The first meeting of the Committee was concerned with the election of the Chair and Vice-Chair and other Committee business. Issues such as the length of time witnesses will be allowed to speak, how questions to witnesses are to be allotted and time and resource allocations to parties on the Committee were referred to the Subcommittee. The second meeting of the Committee on June 29 and all meetings of the Subcommittee to date have been held in camera, meaning the proceedings are closed to the public and not made public after the fact.

According to published minutes of the Committee, the Subcommittee has made a series of recommendations such as allowing Canadians to submit questions to Committee witnesses through Twitter, the amount of time allotted for remarks and questioning of witnesses, and deadlines for submitting briefs and requests to appear. The Subcommittee also recommended an "open mic" section at each Committee meeting where members of the public will be allowed to speak on a first-come-first-served basis, as was done in the hearings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Despite the fact that the Committee is mandated to "conduct a national engagement process that includes a comprehensive and inclusive consultation with Canadians," including online, it appears that this aspect has been taken over by the Minister of Democratic Institutions and no recommendations were made by the Subcommittee on such a process.

The first major witness heard by the Committee was Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef on July 6. Monsef announced the government's new consultations and guidelines on electoral reform (see article above) and reportedly reiterated remarks previously made in the House of Commons. Monsef did not commit the government to following the recommendations of the Committee on electoral reform, stating that if the Committee called for a referendum to be held, "if that is what the committee recommends, if that is what you hear from Canadians, if you arrive at a consensus that that is the best way to engage Canadians in 2016, then it is incumbent upon me and the government to take that seriously."

Two meetings were held on July 7, one with Elections Canada Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Marc Mayrand as witness and the other with former CEO Jean-Pierre Kingsley. Mayrand stated that Elections Canada would need at least two years to prepare for any changes to the electoral system, or at least 26 months if the reforms enacted by the government require changes in the number or boundaries of electoral districts. Mayrand stated that "Our voting system needs to be accepted by citizens, by Canadians. They need to be able to trust it." On the subject of a referendum on a proposed electoral reform, Mayrand estimated that it would cost $300 million and explained some of the logistical steps required. Jean-Pierre Kingsley stated that any referendum would require amendments to the Referendum Act which he said only applies to constitutional issues and made a number of other observations based on his experience as CEO.

Composition of Committee

The Committee's composition is said to be proportional, allocating seats on the basis of the percentage of votes each party in the House obtained in the 2015 election. The Committee has 12 members including the Chair, five of whom are Liberals.

The Liberal appointment of backbenchers to the Committee suggests a blithe approach towards it and reinforces the impression that the government's work and decisions on electoral reform will take place elsewhere. None of the Liberal appointees to the Committee spoke in the House of Commons during debates on how the Liberals would proceed with their electoral reforms. None of them have any apparent expertise on (or interest in) the broad subject matter which includes constitutional issues, democratic rights, voting systems and concepts of representation. Of the Liberal Committee members only Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Quebec), first elected in 2004, is not a new MP. Matt De Courcey (Fredericton, NB) and Sherry Romanado (Longueuil -- Charles-LeMoyne, Quebec) have advanced Public Relations degrees. The other Liberal Committee members are Lohn Aldag (Cloverdale -- Langley City, BC) and Ruby Sahota (Brampton North, ON).

The motion establishing the Committee stipulates that its Chair, who votes only in the case of a tie, must be a member of the governing party. Scarpaleggia was elected. Speaking on his qualifications, he said: "I don't have any opinion on the electoral system we should have in Canada, so I'm here to listen but not to influence. Last, but not least, my biggest qualification as chair is that I haven't made any summer vacation plans."


1. The Committee's "principles," which are different than those in the government's new guidelines, are:

"1) Effectiveness and legitimacy: that the proposed measure would increase public confidence among Canadians that their democratic will, as expressed by their votes, will be fairly translated and that the proposed measure reduces distortion and strengthens the link between voter intention and the election of representatives;

"2) Engagement: that the proposed measure would encourage voting and participation in the democratic process, foster greater civility and collaboration in politics, enhance social cohesion and offer opportunities for inclusion of underrepresented groups in the political process;

"3) Accessibility and inclusiveness: that the proposed measure would avoid undue complexity in the voting process, while respecting the other principles, and that it would support access by all eligible voters regardless of physical or social condition;

"4) Integrity: that the proposed measure can be implemented while safeguarding public trust in the election process, by ensuring reliable and verifiable results obtained through an effective and objective process that is secure and preserves vote secrecy for individual Canadians;

"5) Local representation: that the proposed measure would ensure accountability and recognize the value that Canadians attach to community, to Members of Parliament understanding local conditions and advancing local needs at the national level, and to having access to Members of Parliament to facilitate resolution of their concerns and participation in the democratic process."

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Significance of Liberal Party's Transformation of "Members" and "Supporters" into
"Registered Liberals"

Ever since the Liberal Party of Canada announced that it would be adopting a new constitution, it has tried to create the impression that something new is underway -- nothing short of a pan-Canadian party that will enable every person in the country to participate in setting policies for the future of the country.[1] With an arrogance that stems from its self-perception as Canada's "natural governing party," the Liberals are suggesting that every Canadian, except for "extremists" on the "right and left," is an inherent Liberal voter and they plan to mobilize millions of them as "Registered Liberals."

According to the Liberals, the changes to its party constitution affirm the existence of a liberal "political movement." By ending a "top-down organizational and operating structure," they say, the party is now inclusive. These changes were blueprinted in a 2011 document entitled Building a Modern Liberal Party. According to the document, such a "top-down" structure has marked the Liberal Party as a "relatively small, Ottawa-centric and distinctly hierarchical organization ... little more than an informal 'brand affiliation' consisting of the Leader and its entourage of supporters inside and outside of Parliament."

The document stated that the Liberal Party is "run largely by a self-perpetuating and self-renewing elite":

"Although the Party advertises itself as a 'autonomous,' 'voluntary', 'democratic' and 'national' organization, those who make up its inner circle of influence (i.e. its informal governing class) are overwhelmingly located in Ottawa and, with a mere handful of exceptions, drawn from one of the following four categories: 1. Full-time elected or appointed members of the Parliamentary caucus (i.e. MPs and Senators); 2. Full-time paid staff of the Leader of the Parliamentary caucus; 3. Full-time paid staff of the LPC and its affiliated entities; and/or; 4. Ottawa-based political or government relations consultants and/or lobbyists."

Now that the Liberals claim that they have become "a movement," what has changed? A movement, by definition, has an objective aim. The movement of the Canadian people for empowerment, for instance, aims to achieve electoral and political reforms that will enable them to exercise control over the decisions that affect their lives such as those affecting the direction of the economy and questions of war and peace. Mechanisms must be put in place which provide the rights of the people with a guarantee. This includes their right to elect and be elected and to an informed vote, the right to conscience, speech and association, etc.

The Liberals, however, are not interested in the people's movement for empowerment which has always been key to opening society's path to progress. They are merely self-serving and argue to prove their own beliefs. For instance, they conflate Canada and the Canadian people with their own values and beliefs and propagate the view that unless they get elected again in 2019, Canada will be doomed.

How the Liberal aim is to be realized by eliminating the requirement of paying a $10 registration fee for party membership and replacing members and supporters with "Registered Liberals," remains a question. It appears as a crass attempt to extend the method they adopted in 2013 at their leadership convention which selected Justin Trudeau to lead the party. They extended voting rights to non-paying members, referred to as "registered supporters," which included anyone who signed up on-line for information or anything else. Every click adds names to their data collection system and microtargeting, itself a phenomenon that poses a serious problem for the polity.

Collection and Deployment of Canadians' Personal Data

The Conservatives, Liberals and NDP are all using a technology-based method of targeting electors. They have formed a cartel party system which has changed the electoral law so that the official Electors List and lists of who has and has not voted on election days can be used as raw data for their extensive databases which are not subject to the Privacy Act. This method has been institutionalized as the cartel party system norm and each party has its own database on all Canadian electors and the technology to deploy it for whatever purposes they deem fit and officially for "getting out the vote." The voter suppression campaign of 2011 was based on microtargeting and the scandal surrounding it has since been disappeared.

The parties in the House of Commons have also managed to pass laws that require every elector on the voters list to be assigned a permanent ID number so that they can be easily tracked and moved in and out of various databases. Previously the lists were re-established for each election with a new ID number for the same elector. This made it difficult for the parties to track voters from one election to the next. They have since changed the law so that Elections Canada workers are required to report who has voted to political parties at the polls on an almost real-time basis on voting day and en masse after the election is complete. Currently this information is provided in a paper form called Bingo Cards, but they are going in the direction of having the information handed over to the parties in digital files.

In the initial stages, they justified the changes to the Electors List in the name of eliminating the possibility of voter fraud and helping political parties to "get out the vote" on polling day. However, as they have increasingly violated Canadians' right to privacy and a secret ballot (along with the right to an informed vote and other basic democratic rights), the self-serving nature of their reforms have become so transparent that they can no longer give such justifications. Now the cartel parties suggest that microtargeting is here to stay and that it is a good thing that allows them to know the people better. In fact, their changes to the Electors List are an integral part of the destruction of the links between the people and governance.

Next Steps -- Branding Canadians with
Official Party Affiliation on Electors List

The author of the 2011 document, then-Liberal Party President Alfred Apps, framed the problem facing the party in terms of the Conservative Party's relative advances in building their microtargeting database and technology to deploy it and manipulate the electorate. Apps suggested that the extra-parliamentary wing of the party "press for another generation of balanced democratic process reforms today, only one of the ultimate side-effects of which would be to neutralize the unfair political advantage that [the Conservative Party] has acquired over all other parties."

He proposed that the Liberals should fight for the maintenance of a "registered voting list" for each riding that would be available to all political parties, "containing the registered party preference of every voter entitled to cast a ballot."

Apps wrote: "This would require an additional data element in the current permanent voters' list. Each voter would be able to either a) disclose a registered party affiliation b) claim an 'independent' voting status or c) declare an 'exempt' voting status." He also proposed that the registration would be permanent, but voters could be "permitted" to change at any time. Elections Canada would be required to conduct leadership selection contests for any party that "grants universal suffrage to its registered voters" and the cost would be borne by Elections Canada, that is the public purse.

The document suggested that the Liberals should march forward by behaving as though this electoral reform was already in place, something that can be seen now with the elimination of members in favour of "Registered Liberals." Apps concluded: "Some Liberals may balk at the notion of the overt partisanship implied by a Registered Voters List. But the [Conservative Party] has already converted politics into a tougher and more partisan landscape and it is certainly not turning back." By behaving as though the electoral law was already changed, the Liberals would "very quickly leap-frog its opponents and, in one massive outreach and voter engagement exercise -- a Voter Registration conducted by Electoral District Associations across Canada -- address most of the technological, organizational and funding challenges which have plagued the Party for almost a decade."

While it may seem farfetched now that Canada would adopt a method which requires electors to register with Elections Canada by giving their party affiliation, this is what the data-mining system facilitated by the Electors List in fact does already. The Liberals have set as their target signing up 7 million Canadians as "registered Liberals" to give themselves an edge before the cartel parties can institute a system attacking the right to conscience by forcing Canadians to declare their political affiliation to the state and political parties.

Destruction of the Political Parties

The self-declared aim of the reforms to the Liberal Party approved at its 2016 Biennial Convention was to ensure the party again wins the most seats in 2019. The Liberals' "leapfrogging" over the Conservative Party was well underway during the 2015 federal election, now revealed by central party spending figures. The Liberal Party exceeded Conservative Party spending by $1.2 million ($43 million in total) when it was widely expected that the Conservatives would far outspend the other parties. The Liberals spent four times as much as the Conservative Party on digital voter contact and digital advertising. Tom Pitfield, the Liberals' chief digital strategist for the election and now head of the Canada 2020 think-tank said, "digital had the greatest ROI (return on investment) ... We focused on it as a strategic advantage."

The means through which it aims to win brings out the need for the people to work out the way that they can affirm their own interests and defend their rights against this broad attack on the right to privacy and the right to conscience. The transformation of the Liberal Party into the corporate entity that exercises control over their self-declared "Liberal movement," is the march towards creating a kind of liberal army which acts as a shock force to depoliticize the polity.

The destruction of political parties as primary organizations that organize the people to fight for a definite vision of society and link them to the political power is sharpening and institutionalizing the elitist character of the system. Instead of analyzing the cause of what the Liberals have called "the democratic deficit" and eliminating privilege in the hands of the few, all power is now concentrated in the hands of the few who are hell-bent on keeping it that way.

Canadians need to seriously consider these developments which block the striving of the people for empowerment.


1. See "Liberal Party's Controversial New Party Constitution," TML Weekly, May 28, 2016.

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Liberal Party's New Constitution

The Liberal Party of Canada enacted a new party constitution at its 2016 Biennial Convention in Winnipeg on May 29. Last-minute amendments to the draft constitution put forward at the Convention resulted in a final vote of 1,988 in favour and 66 against. Since the Convention, the amended constitution has not yet been published on any Liberal Party websites. What is known is that a central element of the new constitution is the elimination of the categories of "member" and "supporter" and the creation of a new single status referred to as "Registered Liberals." Previous distinguishing criteria and rights for members and supporters and membership qualifications have been eliminated. The new constitution states, "Any person may register as a Registered Liberal, provided that they meet the requirements set out by the National Board. There shall be no fee for registration."

What requirements are set by the National Board are up to the National Board. This shows the extent to which the new constitution, despite its rhetoric, in fact concentrates power at the top. But is this all there is to it? Are the changes to the Liberal Party's constitution merely a matter of concern to the soon-to-be registered Liberal voters or does it concern all Canadians and the polity itself?

First of all, the Liberal Party is now to be called a movement. The aim is to make believe that the majority of Canadians are "mainstream" and to be mainstream in Canada is to be Liberal. The "Liberal movement," therefore, represents all Canadians who will now be able to participate in decision-making by becoming "registered Liberals." The party will henceforth be controlled by a few "wise men and women" at the top who are entitled to narrow down the choices which are good for Canadians and then Canadians will get to rank their preferences and the decision will be whatever preference receives the approval of a majority of "Registers Liberals."

The database of "Registered Liberals" will be centrally maintained. The constitution states:

"Registered Liberals will have the following rights:

- to receive information from the party, such as newsletters and notices of meetings;
- to attend, speak and vote at the general meetings of their local electoral district association (EDA);
- to attend and speak, but not vote, at any meeting of a Liberal EDA anywhere;
- to attend any Liberal national, provincial or territorial convention or meeting;
- to be elected to any party office, as well as the right to stand as a Liberal candidate for the House of Commons;
- to vote in a leadership race and leadership endorsement ballot conducted in their local EDA."

In addition, the constitution states Registered Liberals are also entitled to "exercise any other right granted to them by the National Board or any other board, commission, committee or association of the Party."

One commentator put it this way: "There have been many discussions over the past weeks regarding the proposed constitution and its potential impact on the party. While the party leadership and those opposed rarely agree on any of the issues, there is one point that can't be disputed. The Liberal Party of Canada plans to create a massive corporate entity, an entity which will be paid for by the members, donors and EDA's across Canada."

What Does It Mean?

In a May 30 statement entitled "Courage and Leadership," Justin Trudeau congratulated Liberals for adopting the constitution.

"By adopting our new constitution, our party has taken a bold step. One that will help us build the most open, innovative, and effective political movement in Canadian history. The new constitution opens up the Liberal Party of Canada more than ever before -- and removes the $10 barrier to participation by making registration free. It also opens up our policy process -- making it more flexible and interactive for all Liberals to participate in. And it modernizes our movement to win in 2019 -- by unifying the party with one streamlined constitution, instead of the 18 constitutions we have now. It achieves all of this while strongly supporting the regional voices, Commissions, and EDA organizing -- all of which help us effectively engage Canadians every day. Significant change is never easy, especially when it means challenging our own traditions."

Trudeau encouraged readers to "stay tuned for details on the transition" and to work with the leadership "as we keep striving to make our movement even more open to Canadians and their ideas."

As the Convention got underway in Winnipeg, Toronto Star reporter Alex Boutilier spoke to LPC Party President Anna Gainey about the party's new constitution.[1] Speaking of the membership changes, Gainey told the Star that "the proposal to throw open the doors of the Liberal party" is part of Justin Trudeau's vision for the party, but has a much longer history in its conception.

"The way I see this, is the party has been on a trajectory over the last many years to rebuild and to modernize, and this is the next step on that path."

"To me, this is a progression and an arc that we're on as a party, to look at opening up and engaging with as many Canadians as we can. That's what the party, to me, is about."

"The shift started before [Trudeau] came along, but I believe his vision for the party is consistent with the path that was started before he became leader."

Gainey identified one point in that past -- the introduction of the "supporter class" of membership which was used for the leadership contest that brought Justin Trudeau to the helm of the party. "Supporter class" was introduced by the Liberals at their May 2012 Biennial Convention. It allowed Canadians who are not paid members or who are members of another political party to vote for the Liberal leadership after affirming that they "support the Liberal Party of Canada." Gainey also told the Star that eliminating membership fees would not hurt the LPC financially, saying that the cost of maintaining the current membership system outstrips the membership fees collected.

The 2012 Convention eliminated the delegate method of selecting the Liberal Party Leader. Anyone could register online as a Liberal supporter eligible to vote. In March 2013, as the Liberal Convention was approaching, then-LPC President Mike Crawley informed the Globe and Mail that 294,002 Canadians would be eligible to vote. The total included "card-carrying members who have paid a $10 fee to join" and "a new class of supporters who are not members but will still be allowed to vote." Media reports estimated that Justin Trudeau had signed up more than half of the newly-registered people. The numbers jumped from 96,000 in January 2013, of which 55,000 were said to be party members, to 294,002 with the addition of the amorphous supporter category. The aim was to suggest that the party leader is in fact elected by Canadians as a whole, not just those who are party members, with the latter presented as an outmoded way which is no longer in tune with what Canadians want.

The 294,002 total registered members and supporters represented about 1.2 per cent of the total electorate of 24,257,592 eligible voters registered in the 2015 election. The actual voter turnout for the 2013 Liberal Leadership Race was 30,587, with Justin Trudeau receiving 24,668 or 80.65 per cent of the vote using a preferential ballot system. Despite the hype about the huge membership/supporter increase, the actual participation in the leadership selection amounted to 0.126 per cent of the electors in Canada. From the onset of universal suffrage in Canada until that time, only some 0.02 per cent of electors had ever participated in leadership races conducted by a registered political party. Canadians must ask what these figures actually represent as an informed vote, and how do the changes to the Liberal Party Constitution seek to build on this dubious notion of empowerment.


1. Gainey became president of the LPC in February 2014. She is described as a "Trudeau confidante," and is married to Tom Pitfield, a childhood friend of Trudeau and son of Michael Pitfield, who served as Clerk of the Privy Council to Pierre Trudeau in the 1980s. Tom Pitfield was chief digital strategist for the Liberals during the 2015 federal election and is now President of the neo-liberal think-tank Canada 2020.

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NATO War Summit in Warsaw, Poland

All Out to Oppose NATO and Its War Preparations! Dismantle NATO! Get Canada Out of NATO!

Global Day of Action Against NATO


Anti-war activists are converging on Warsaw, Poland to vehemently denounce the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 2016 Summit taking place July 8-9 and all the moves to embroil the peoples of Europe in imperialist war preparations, particularly those aimed at Russia. Around the world, including in Canada, activists are holding events as part of a Global Day of Action Against NATO.

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) calls on Canadians to support and join in these events and to keep up the opposition to Canada's involvement in NATO. Opposition to NATO expansion and its calls for increased military spending are very important in Canada, which has been fully integrated into the U.S. war machine. The Trudeau Liberals announced on July 8 that Canada would take command of a NATO military force of 1,000 soldiers in Latvia, including 450 Canadian troops and armoured vehicles as part of NATO's military encirclement of Russia.

NATO Expansion Denounced as Threat to Global Peace

In its April 3 call to action against the Summit, the World Peace Council (WPC) points out:

"Since the 1990s, NATO has expanded its membership and theatre of operations. NATO currently has 28 member states across North America and Europe. Another 22 countries are engaged in the Euro Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). A further 19 countries are partnered with NATO through programs such as the so-called 'Partnership for Peace,' 'Mediterranean Dialogue,' the 'Istanbul Cooperation Initiative' or the 'Partners across the Globe Initiative.'

"This expansion alone reveals NATO's fundamental purpose: to be a key tool of imperialist domination of the globe.

"Over the past two decades NATO and its affiliates have attacked Yugoslavia (and its province Kosovo), Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria with the obvious goal of overthrowing these countries' governments. In most of these cases the government was targeted by NATO because it refused to accept the dictates of U.S. or EU foreign and economic policy. In none of these cases has the goal or result been democracy and peace -- the only legacy is death for the people, destruction and displacement -- with increased power, control of resources and profits for NATO states."

The WPC also points out how the U.S.-EU carried out regime change in Ukraine to use it as a cat's paw against Russia and provide a pretext for NATO intervention, which has come in the form of the largest build-up of hostile military forces on Russia's western border since World War Two.

"NATO's actions, as the favoured military tool of U.S. and EU imperialism, have led to an ongoing climate of confrontation between the major nuclear-armed states. Such provocations lead inevitably to escalating tensions and the real threat of a nuclear confrontation and a generalized war that unavoidably would destroy all civilization across the planet," the WPC states.

Anti-war activists converging in Warsaw particularly denounce the ways in which the Polish people's security is being threatened by Poland's increasing involvement in NATO aggression. They point out in a recent statement:

"The proposals of the present Polish government to station permanent NATO bases in Poland and build a new Missile Defence Shield in the country would not guarantee the country's safety but rather place it on the frontline of these new hostilities [against Russia]. NATO is urging all member states to increase their military spending to at least 2 per cent of GDP. Not only will this intensify the arms race in the world, but it will mean that during a time of economic austerity more funds will move from welfare to war. When the governments and Generals meet in Warsaw in July an alternative voice must be heard."

Actions to Oppose NATO

Anti-war activists hold counter summit in Warsaw, July 8, 2016.

The WPC has undertaken a campaign with numerous European and North American peace forces who also oppose NATO's aggressions and existence. The "Yes to Peace! No to NATO! Campaign" calls for the dissolution of NATO at a global level, supports the struggle against NATO in each of its member states, and promotes the right of the people in each country to unilaterally withdraw from the NATO military alliance. In particular the WPC has been working with its member organizations to mobilize the anti-war forces against the Warsaw Summit.

From July 8 to 10 in Warsaw, anti-war activists from Europe and beyond say they will carry out the following:

"- On Friday 8 July we shall hold a conference bringing together the organisations and activists of the peace and anti-war movements. This will be an opportunity to discuss and debate alternatives to the policies of militarisation and war being proposed by NATO. In the evening we shall hold a large public meeting. We already have a number of prominent speakers (both international and from Poland) confirmed, including former Colonel Ann Wright, Maite Mola, and Tarja Cronberg.

"- On Saturday we will take our protest to the streets of Warsaw to express our opposition to the NATO summit.

"- On Saturday evening a cultural/social event will be held. [...]"

They state: "Our goal is a world without war and nuclear weapons. We are fighting to overcome NATO through the politics of common security and disarmament and solidarity with global peace, anti-war & anti-militaristic movements."

Anti-war march through Warsaw, July 9, 2016. Activists carry signs and banners calling for money for arms to be spent on meeting human needs; against any NATO weaponry and bases in Poland; against Moldova's joining of NATO against its people's wishes; amongst many others.

(Photos: No to War -- No to NATO!, Sputnik, RT)

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No Canadian Troops in the Baltics and
Eastern Europe!

The Justin Trudeau Liberal government announced on June 30 that Canada will send hundreds of troops to join a "NATO high-readiness brigade" getting ready to deploy in one of the Baltic states, later revealed to be Latvia. The exact number of troops and their final location will be announced at the next NATO conference. The Liberals are continuing the aggressive policies of the Harper Conservative government, which sent troops to train in Eastern Europe in 2014 and 2015. Liberal Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan claims that the Canadian troops are required to help deter "Russian aggression," even though no Russian troops have moved outside their own borders. Sajjan also made it clear that the deployment has nothing to do with defending the interests of the Canadian people but is being made at the request of U.S.-led NATO. The Canadian troops will be one of four battalions; the others are from the main imperialist powers: the U.S., the U.K. and Germany.

The imperialists and their monopoly media claim that the so-called proof of the need to deter Russian aggression is what they misleadingly refer to as "Russia's annexation of Crimea" in 2014. This is a deliberate distortion of the historical facts to try to demonize Russia. On March 16, 2014, Crimea held a popular referendum in which 83.1 per cent of Crimean voters freely cast their ballots on whether to stay under the rule of Ukraine or secede and become an independent state. The final tally was 96.77 per cent in favour of joining the Russian federation. The result was not surprising. The major nationalities in Crimea are 58.32 per cent Russian; 24.32 per cent Ukrainian; and 12.10 per cent Crimean Tartar. It is this overwhelming popular vote to secede from rule by Ukraine which the imperialists and their monopoly media are calling "Russian annexation." Massive disinformation about this overwhelming vote has been used to justify the damaging sanctions against Russia, spearheaded by the U.S.

It is not surprising that the people of Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine. In today's Ukraine, admitted Nazis hold important positions in the government and seats in the parliament, and command their own private armies. They are the ones leading the murderous attacks on those who refuse to come under the dictate of Ukraine. The seeds for this situation were sown during the Second World War when the Nazi-funded criminal groups Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) posed as "patriots" in order to massacre Russians, Poles and Jews. Further, in Latvia, where the Canadian troops are likely to be located, as well as in the other Baltic states, Nazis and neo-Nazis hold annual parades to commemorate the war crimes of their wartime predecessors. All this notwithstanding, the rulers of Ukraine and the Baltic states are fully supported by Canada and the U.S., while Russia, which annually introduces an anti-Nazi resolution at the United Nations, is accused of aggression. It is noteworthy that each time the anti-Nazi resolution has been introduced in recent years, Canada, the U.S. and Ukraine have all voted against it.

The hypocrisy of the U.S. and its sycophants in the Liberal government is clear for all to see. Echoed by the Trudeau government, the U.S. rants about Russian aggression yet everyone knows that it is the U.S. which continually launches aggression across the globe and which wants to dominate the world. The U.S. routinely invades other countries, uses weapons of mass destruction, kills civilians, assassinates even its own citizens, organizes coups d'état, finances fascist and racist groups, and commits other war crimes. It is not Russia that poses the most danger to the world's people at this time and which needs to be deterred but U.S.-led NATO. Flying in the face of all reason, the Liberal war government is pushing for further integration into the U.S. war machine precisely at a time when the U.S. ruling elite is organizing for a Clinton presidency that will launch further aggression against the world's people.

The Trudeau government is playing a very dangerous game in subverting the interests of the Canadian people to those of the imperialist states and in cosying up to the Nazis in Ukraine and the Baltic states. Sending troops to the Baltic states is clearly another open provocation against Russia, which is not in the interests of the Canadian people. The disinformation of some non-existent Russian aggression is an attempt to sow confusion among the Canadian people, and to smash their overwhelming opposition to warmongering. The way forward is clear. The security of the Canadian people lies not in further tying Canada to the U.S., NATO and the imperialist states but in standing as one with the world's peoples in defence of their right to be against U.S. imperialist preparations for another world war. Canada should not send any troops to the Baltics or Eastern Europe and should withdraw any that are already there. Now, more than ever, Canada needs an anti-war government.

Map of notable military bases in the Baltics, where Canada may establish its troops
-- click to enlarge.

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For Your Information

Overview of NATO War Summit

A NATO Leaders' Summit is being held July 8-9 in Warsaw, Poland with the Heads of State and Government of NATO's 28 member countries among others in attendance. The Summit is being attended by 58 official delegations from 26 "partner countries" and representatives from the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly as well as NATO members. It is being chaired by the organization's Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is at the Summit along with Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion, Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan and Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance.

The Summit will add to actions taken since the last Summit held in Wales in 2014 to mobilize more NATO troops and military equipment to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic states under the bogus pretexts of "projecting stability" in the region and "deterring Russian aggression."

Protest Actions

Demonstrations are taking place in Warsaw from July 8-10 under the banner "No to War -- No to NATO." Organizers are calling for an end to the confrontation with Russia and the stationing of troops and holding of maneuvers at Russia's western border; no further armament in the NATO member states which they say can only be financed by sharply reducing spending on education, health care and social security systems; no new nuclear weapons (and no modernization of existing arsenals) in Europe and worldwide; no missile defense system in Eastern Europe as it only furthers the dynamic of armament and confrontation; and no NATO operations against refugees.

It is reported that on July 4 increased border controls were imposed by Poland at its border with Russia near Kaliningrad, its borders with Ukraine and at its borders with the countries of the EU Schengen Zone for the NATO Summit -- no doubt aimed at keeping out those intent on protesting NATO.

Troop Build-Up in Baltic States and Eastern Europe to Be Finalized

Speaking at a press conference on July 4, Stoltenberg said that since the last Summit NATO had "delivered a faster, a stronger, and a more ready Alliance," and that "We now need to take the next steps. So at our Summit in Warsaw, we will agree to further enhance our military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance." In this vein, he said leaders will agree at the Summit to deploy four battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. On July 8 U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. will station a battalion of 1,000 troops in Poland and establish the headquarters for a separate brigade of 3,500 U.S. troops and heavy weaponry that will move throughout Eastern Europe on continuous, nine-month rotations. Also on July 8, General Vance revealed that Canada would be sending around 450 soldiers to Latvia "on an enduring basis" to form the nucleus of a 1,000-strong multinational battalion it will lead there. Canada will also send up to six CF-18s to carry out "air policing" over Eastern Europe as it had done in 2014-15 and will continue sending naval frigates to the region as part of its Operation REASSURANCE. Germany and Britain are expected to command the other two battalions in Lithuania and Estonia, respectively.

Click to enlarge.

Canada's Battlegroup

Canada's commitment of hundreds of new troops for a battlegroup means the total number of Canadian Forces members from all three branches stationed in the Baltics and Eastern Europe with Operation REASSURANCE will rise to around 800, reports say. In a July update the Department of National Defence said there were 470 Canadian Forces members deployed in its Baltics and Eastern European operations. Since it began in April 2014 Operation REASSURANCE has involved the participation of Canadian troops in ongoing land exercises with other NATO members in Poland, Latvia, Romania, Germany and Lithuania; Canadian fighter jets in interoperability training and "air policing" of the Baltic region; and Canadian warships in patrolling and carrying out other NATO operations in the Baltic, Black, Mediterranean and Aegean Seas.

Minister Sajjan confirmed Canada's new troop presence in the Baltic region with rotating deployments would be on a permanent basis, understood to mean until such time as NATO dissolved the task force. A June 30 report by the CBC noted that a battlegroup has the potential to bring with it heavy equipment, including tanks, artillery and surveillance systems.

In announcing on June 30 that Canada would be sending more troops and taking command of a battalion, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said, "As part of NATO we were giving assurance to member states there, but now this has evolved to deterrence." His assertion is based on the fraudulent notion that Russia is threatening to invade other countries, while it is the U.S. and NATO that have bases and missile systems all over Europe and that threaten and invade other countries with impunity. The Canadian troops along with those from other major NATO powers are a deliberate form of political and military interference intended to keep the peoples of the countries bordering Russia firmly in NATO's grip to try and suppress any aspirations they may have for friendly relations with non-NATO countries to the east and against war.

NATO's "Southern Flank"

The Summit is also expected to take decisions on a new military force on NATO's "south-east flank" said to refer to a task force based in Romania and will also "adopt a framework for NATO's further adaptation to the challenges emanating from the south." The U.S. already has its Ashore Aegis ballistic missile system installed at Deveselu in southern Romania, claiming it poses no threat to Russia but targets threats from the south such as Iran.

In response to the fact that NATO is aggressively militarizing Eastern Europe and the Baltics, particularly those countries on Russia's borders, Stoltenberg said, "We don't want a new Cold War. What we do is proportionate. It's defensive." The whole talk about defence and deterrence is meant to hide the virtual occupation of Eastern Europe and its peoples by NATO forces, in which Canada is now even more embroiled under the Trudeau government.

Since the last Leaders' Summit in Wales in 2014, NATO has tripled the size of its Response Force, intended to assemble and respond within a week to 10 days, to 40,000 members. It has also added a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force or Spearhead Force that is supposed to be able to deploy within 48 hours to NATO's eastern and southern flanks. After this Summit there will also be a new "high readiness brigade" of 4,000 troops comprised of the four battalions to be stationed in the Baltic states and Poland.

In presenting what is being put in place for the future, a news release on the Summit points out moves to strengthen NATO's domination of its "partners" in Eastern Europe, in particular Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, as well as Finland and Sweden: "To the east, NATO will continue to boost the defence capabilities and build the resilience of its partners Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova to resist outside pressure and to advance reforms."

The release goes on to say that "NATO will continue to work closely with partners such as Finland, Sweden and Georgia, who have a significant contribution to make to security in the strategically important Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions. Montenegro's future membership will enhance stability in the Western Balkans. NATO's Open Door Policy, together with EU enlargement, have helped to spread stability and prosperity. NATO's door remains open to European states able to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership, and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area."

War in Iraq and Syria

NATO is also increasing its participation in the U.S.-led war in Iraq and Syria. The Summit is expected to approve the deployment of NATO AWACS surveillance planes in support of the U.S.-led "global coalition to counter ISIL." It is possible that Canada will provide such planes as the Canadian government has indicated that in addition to sending troops to Russia's borders it will make other announcements at the summit. Stoltenberg also said he expected NATO members would agree on a new "training and capacity building" effort in Iraq, of which Canada is part. NATO is currently training several hundred Iraqi officers in Jordan, and is "strengthening" the defence sectors of Jordan and Tunisia. In an indication that it is preparing for a new direct military role in Libya it states that it "also continues its preparatory work to assist Libya, if requested."

NATO is also expanding its role in militarizing humanitarian crises which it has itself created. It will look to take on a role in the Central Mediterranean as part of the European Union's Operation Sophia. Operation Sophia was set up in July 2015 to "stem the flow of migrants and refugees" from Libya after NATO-backed mercenaries and war planes destroyed the country and its institutions and killed its President. It is reported that one of the problems facing the mission is the lack of a legitimate government in Libya from which EU forces can get agreement to patrol its maritime borders and even its coast. NATO also indicates that its deployment in the Aegean Sea to deal militarily with the humanitarian refugee and migrant crisis "caused by conflict and instability on NATO's southern borders" will continue.

Emphasis on Increased Military Spending from Members

NATO also indicated that for the first time in many years there had been a small increase in defence spending among European Allies and Canada and that it expects military spending to rise further in these countries in 2016. During the federal election, the Trudeau Liberals committed to maintain defence spending at current levels, which it indicated meant maintaining the budgeted increases.

Official Summit Agenda

July 8, the opening day, featured a meeting of the North Atlantic Council attended by leaders of the 28 member states and of Montenegro which has observer status. This was followed by a working dinner to which Finland, Sweden, the European Council and the European Commission were invited to join the leaders of NATO member states.

On July 9 there will be a meeting on Afghanistan with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah participating, along with representatives of "partner countries contributing to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission" and unspecified international organizations in attendance. There will also be a second meeting of the North Atlantic Council to which Jordan, the European Council and the European Commission have been invited. The Summit will end with a NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting with the President of Ukraine.

NATO Defence and Foreign Ministers will be joined at the summit by their counterparts from "partner countries" and hold parallel meetings. One such meeting will see NATO Defence Ministers meeting with their counterparts from 25 countries which "cooperate with NATO on interoperability," including Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates.

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Third Anniversary of Lac-Mégantic Tragedy

Build a Public Authority that Defends the
Public Interest, Not Private Monopoly Interest!

July 6, 2016 is the third anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, one of the worst train disasters in Canadian history. On July 10, the Mégantic community is holding a mass rally to mark this date and reiterate their demands for the immediate construction of a bypass track so that dangerous goods are not transported through the town centre and for the significant repairs required to the worn-out track. TML Weekly supports these demands and calls on people to participate in the rally and defend Lac-Mégantic and the other rail communities affected by train derailments, which continue to occur regularly across Quebec, Canada and the United States.

Three years ago, in late evening on July 5, a freight train comprised of five locomotives and 72 tanker cars that were unsuited for the type of crude oil they carried was left unattended for the night in Nantes, in Quebec's Eastern Townships. At around 1:00 am on July 6, the train started to roll down the slope towards the town of Lac-Mégantic. Shortly after, 63 of the tanker cars derailed in downtown Lac-Mégantic, spilling their contents and causing a series of fires and explosions of catastrophic proportion. Forty-seven people were killed and many others were injured. Downtown Lac-Mégantic was destroyed. The Chaudière River and the lake itself were heavily contaminated by the crude oil spill. To this day, many Lac-Mégantic residents suffer from post-traumatic stress related to the tragedy.

A large number of trains carrying crude oil have derailed since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, including in Casselton, North Dakota in December 2013; near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick in January 2014; and in Gogama, Northern Ontario in March 2015. They were all potential Lac-Mégantic tragedies, with loss of life avoided only because the derailments happened a few kilometres away from a densely populated area.

The fact is that three years after the Mégantic tragedy, the dangers to human life, property and the environment are even more acute due to the criminal negligence of the railway monopolies. They claim their overriding responsibility and most urgent task is to be competitive with other carriers nationally and internationally at any cost, and the government irresponsibly refuses to hold them to account.

Lac-Mégantic was a tragic and profound eye-opener as to how the neo-liberal outlook and practice of putting all of society's assets at the disposal of the global monopolies that directly led to the self-regulation of the railways and to criminal negligence causing death and chaos. A radical break with the neo-liberal anti-social agenda is required to favour the people along with immediate measures to enforce safety according to highest standards in terms of working conditions, required personnel, maintenance and all other relevant aspects. The demand is for a public authority over which people exercise control that protects the safety of the rail communities and the public at large by upholding the public interest and not private monopoly interest.

In light of this, the statement issued by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the occasion of the third anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy was most inappropriate and uncouth. The statement said, in part:

"Rail safety remains a top priority for the Government of Canada, and we will continue to take steps to improve the safety of the Canadian rail system. The Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, visited Lac-Mégantic in April to hear from those most directly affected by the tragedy. [...]

"To the people of Lac-Mégantic, please know that you have our steadfast support as you continue to recover and heal. We remember you and all that you lost, and will use this memory to strengthen our resolve to make our railroads the safest in the world, and ensure the tragic events of Lac-Mégantic never happen again."

What does the Prime Minister mean by "we will continue to take steps to improve the safety of the Canadian rail system"? "Continuation" is the watchword of governments that are waging the anti-social offensive and who refuse to address the real problems that the people are facing — both the cause and the solution -- and instead take refuge in mantras and phrases. It is one way to avoid taking responsibility for one's own actions and the impact they have in the creation of these problems. The movement is demanding a break with what caused the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, not its continuation.

The Prime Minister is positioning himself and his government to drown all the demands of the people in a swamp of policy objectives, statements of good intentions, feasibility studies and consultations in order to actually maintain the status quo. This statement, which was issued on such a solemn day, must be firmly condemned and rejected.

Once again, TML Weekly sends its deepest condolences to all who lost loved ones in the tragedy and pays tribute to all the first responders who risked their lives to heroically come to the aid of residents and who continue to provide all possible assistance to the community. TML Weekly warmly salutes the Lac-Mégantic community who continue to rebuild their lives and calls upon workers and people to step up their fight for the building of a public authority that protects the safety of communities and of the public.

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Mass Rally in Lac-Mégantic for Rail Safety

Sunday, July 10 -- 1:30 pm
Parking Lot, Mégantic Sports Centre
5400 Papineau St.

When Will Lac-Mégantic Have Rail Safety, Mr. Trudeau?


- Reading of Declaration to Justin Trudeau
- Speeches
- Symbolic occupation of the rail line -- stuffed animals to be laid in tribute to children left orphaned by the tragedy (bring stuffed animals)
- Discussion at the Musi-Café (where most of the victims of the tragedy died)

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New Rail Line Bypassing Town Centre Needed Soon

Nothing has changed on the ground since 2013 as far as rail safety is concerned, in Lac-Mégantic and in Canada. The new Liberal government is still pursuing deregulation and the principle of the self-management of rail safety by the companies themselves. We had another example a couple of weeks ago with the decision of CP Rail to lay off 500 workers doing track inspection and maintenance, and yet the Minister of Transport Marc Garneau says that everything is fine. He came to Lac-Mégantic and shared the podium with the President of the Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQR) to try to reassure the people that the tracks have been inspected and that they are in good shape and safe. We do not believe that they are safe, especially on the curves where they are extremely worn. On steep parts of the line, where there are culverts, there are deep cracks in the cement structure. When we see a spot where the rail line is in bad shape, often the rail company merely reduces the speed of the train instead of doing the needed repair.

"We want to heal in peace --
reconstruct without the track!"

Here in Lac-Mégantic, the transportation of dangerous goods via the town centre -- propane gas, fuel, chlorine and sulphuric acid -- has restarted. At the moment, there is an agreement with CMQR that the transportation of crude oil via the town centre is suspended but the agreement expires at the end of the year. This does not bode well for 2017. So we are basically facing the same dangers as in 2013.

Meanwhile, the siding track at Nantes on which trains can be parked safely when they are having mechanical problems is still being used to park railcars waiting to be assembled with locomotives that are left without surveillance for days and days. That is how the Mégantic tragedy began: the train that was having mechanical problems was parked for the night on the main track at Nantes rather than on the siding track and then started moving down the slope and derailed. This could happen again because the siding track is clogged.

On July 10, we are holding a public rally on the occasion of the third anniversary of the tragedy. We are asking Prime Minister Trudeau to come to Mégantic to announce that a new rail line that bypasses the town centre is going to be built soon. They have tabled their feasibility report, according to which, with all the steps that need to be taken, the construction of the line would not start before 2021 or even 2022. The Mégantic residents are still suffering from high anxiety and post-traumatic stress. We cannot afford to wait another five or six years before the construction begins.

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Workers Still Under Framework Where Railways
Create and Enforce Their Own Rules

The Lac-Mégantic tragedy is one of the clearest examples of what happens when bureaucracy turns away from doing the right thing. The government, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), Transport Canada (TC) and the industry themselves are not taking any valid steps, notwithstanding all the rhetoric that we hear out there. We continue to have runaway trains, we continue to have the DOT 111 in service and bursting and causing chaos.[1] It does not always have to be an explosion, just a spill into a river or into a community is very significant. We are still not dealing with the real issues that are required to ensure that the public has confidence that the regulator and the industry are operating railways in a safe manner.

We do not have a regulatory framework that can be enforced by a regulator. We have a framework of rules that are created by the railways and that are enforced by the railways and Transport Canada, with significant lobbying from the railways, are only observers and auditors. They do not play the same role that inspectors do in the aviation industry or the road transport industry. We would not allow the aviation industry to deal with their own planes but we allow the railways to deal with their own trains. The railways continue to operate like they are larger than government themselves.

As far as the new federal government is concerned, the fact is that the Minister's Advisory Council on Rail Safety has not met since Marc Garneau was announced as Minister. Marc Garneau has met often, we are told, with the railways and with the lobby groups, but he has not met with the Advisory Council on Rail Safety. We just had another meeting that was supposed to occur last week postponed again until September. They talk differently but we have not seen any willingness to sit down with industry stakeholders and have meetings. So you take into consideration all of the rail safety priority speak that this government talks about and the very Council that was assembled to deal with and discuss issues of rail safety has yet to meet with this government.

In our work as an organization, we are expressing to Transport Canada and the federal government that there is a role for Transport Canada to play an active intervention role, not just be some oversight auditor, to ensure that the railways are operated in a safe manner. We do it by taking information and the concrete circumstances directly toTransport Canada and raising the issues with them. On the shop floor, we encourage our members to report instances where there are problems and to have them addressed and fixed, and if they are not we are working to make sure that we have a mechanism internally where we raise those things.


1. The DOT 111 standard is considered inadequate for the transport of flammable goods. This is the class of tank cars that derailed in Lac-Mégantic and 59 of the 63 cars ruptured and released their contents.

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Massive Layoff of CP Maintenance Workers
Jeopardizes Rail Lines and Public Safety

TML Weekly: At the end of June, Canadian Pacific railway (CP) announced a massive layoff of track maintenance workers. How many workers are affected and what job are they doing?

WP: CP announced that they will be laying off approximately 260 of our members in addition to about 240 positions that they are choosing not to fill at this time. That is 500 positions that are being affected. These workers do everything from basic track maintenance to everyday, run-of-the mill inspections and repairs. They are workers involved in what we call the track programs work, which is the track renewal, ties, rails, ballasts, new switches installed, and so on -- a very wide range of work. We also have instructor members who look after the care and repair as well as the inspections of bridges and structures across the system. Those are amongst the most important jobs on the railway.

We feel that these positions are integral to track safety and public safety as well. Situations like Lac-Mégantic certainly bring out just what the possibilities are for such disasters. The disaster was not track-related in that case but there is the derailment of CN oil tankers near Gogama in 2015 that turned out to be track-related. That caused huge devastation in Northern Ontario.

We are working to have these positions at least looked at from the standpoint of the new government regulations that came into force in 2015 that require a risk assessment be done if there is to be a reduction of the workforce.

CP's position now of laying off track maintenance workers while there are lower car volumes is very short-sighted. This is the time when they should be going all out to get the work done so that when the track volumes rise, this work has already been done. When the traffic is down, that is when our workers can get out there and get the work done because there are no trains to work around.

Since Hunter Harrison took over CP in 2012, thousands of jobs have been eliminated. We are not looking at a company that is doing poorly financially. They are paying out more money to their shareholders as they cut the work that needs to be done.

TMLW: Do you want to say anything in conclusion?

WP: The men and women who are out there working on the tracks, working long hours, night shifts, around the clock, in all kinds of weather, they do it with a great deal of pride. They do it knowing that their jobs are important and have the potential to protect the general public in Canada because of the work they do and we certainly think they should be out there doing that work.

Cars are going through yards on a daily basis and I believe that if you look at the Transport Canada statistics about 80 per cent of all derailments happen in yards now, and there are huge populations in these areas. If these yards are not properly looked after, there is that much more potential for derailments and possible disasters.

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Monopolies' Plans for Cameras to Monitor
Train Crews Threaten Privacy and Safety

TML Weekly: The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) has reported that the railway companies want to use voice and video recordings to monitor the train crews. Can you tell us more?

Don Ashley: The issue of Locomotive Voice and Video Recording technology has been hanging around for several years. The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has made recommendations following a few accidents. In particular it was highlighted after the Via Rail accident in Aldershot in 2012 [Aldershot is a neighbourhood of Burlington, Ontario -- TML Ed. Note] where the TSB requested that they would like on-board recordings of the cab of a locomotive so that they can determine human factors with regards to accidents' causes. The employers, all of them, CP, CN, Via and everybody that is going to be affected by any change in regulations have said, "if you are going to put it in, if you want us to put it in, we want access to the data." The law has to be changed for them to have access to recordings for pro-active safety use, meaning they want to monitor the crews. Currently the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act (CTAISB) says any on-board recordings are privileged only for the TSB to use post-accident.

We have been lobbying the government to say that our opinion, from the union perspective, is that we have no issue with them having the recording devices on the locomotives but that information is privileged and should only be accessible by the TSB post-accident. It is not for continuous monitoring by the employer of the crews' activities. We feel first that this is a privacy invasion and secondly it could be a distraction to the crews actually performing their duties. It would create what we call a silent cab environment where the crew won't talk to each other for fear anything they say may be used against them, so the communication amongst the crew members and the cab will become very limited which will have a negative impact on safety.

The fear we have is that the TSB and Transport Canada want access to this data so badly that they are willing to give in to the carriers. We have been lobbying hard not to have that happen. The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has just wrapped up their update on rail safety and they tabled their report to Parliament on June 16. They recommended that Transport Canada develop legislation and regulatory structures to mandate the use of locomotive voice and video recorders but to ensure that effective rules are in place that it is only for the exclusive use of TSB for accident investigations, which is what we want.

Our position is that we are going to fight this all the way. If we fail with the government and the regulatory agencies, our next step will be the Privacy Commissioner.

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