October 29, 2016 - No. 42
One Year of
Government's Labour Code
Amendments Introduce "Flexibility" to Enforce Anti-Social
Factor in the Working Class Movement for Emancipation
- K.C. Adams -
Canada's Trade Deal with the European Union
• The Premise of CETA
• Making Sense of CETA -- Second Edition
- Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives -
Electoral Reform in
Prince Edward Island
• Plebiscite Begins
• Recall Referendum Process
Exposure of Widespread Irregularities
• U.S.-Backed Opposition Calls for
• Canada's Role in Organizing
Reactionary Regime Change
Unanimous Vote at UN to
End U.S. Blockade
• Overwhelming Victory for
- Isaac Saney -
• Might Does Not Make Right!
• Arrogant Remarks by U.S.
Ambassador Explaining Abstention
- Yi Nicholls -
U.S. President's October
14 Policy Directive
• The Small Print
- Sergio Alejandro Gómez -
• Ten Key Questions
- Granma -
Canadians Organize to
Support Hurricane Relief Efforts
• Hurricane Matthew Relief and
Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign
- Canadian Network on Cuba -
• Notice to Members of the Canadian
Network on Cuba
- Keith Ellis, Chair, Hurricane Matthew Relief
Reconstruction Campaign -
• Talk with Josefina Vidal
One Year of Liberal Rule
Trudeau Government's Labour Code Amendments Introduce
"Flexibility" to Enforce
Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada
MaryAnn Mihychuk declared on September 22, "Canadians have had
their say on the Government of Canada's consultations on flexible
work arrangements." According to the Minister, Canadians "had
their say" in the form of online consultations that took place
for a month and a half from May 16 to June 30 and in seven
roundtables that were held across Canada with "stakeholders."
She said, "The Government of Canada has held
public consultations on its plan to give employees the right to
request flexible work arrangements without fear of reprisal.
Through May and June, more than 1,260 Canadians and 60
stakeholders shared their perspectives on flex work, including
employers and employer associations, unions and labour
organizations, advocacy groups, community groups and other
organizations, think tanks and academics."
Minister Mihychuk's mandate
letter from the Prime Minister
indicates she is charged with bringing forward amendments to the Canada
Code "to provide every federally
worker the right to formally request a flexible work
arrangement." The government states it will also "continue to
consult with the provinces and territories on the implementation
of similar changes in provincially regulated sectors."
The Trudeau government says flexible working
"allow employees to alter, on a temporary or permanent basis,
their work schedule, the number of hours they work or the
location where they do their work, or to take leave from work to
meet responsibilities outside of work. Flex work plays an
important role in addressing the realities of today's workplace,
society and economy. For employees, it offers a way to better
manage the often competing demands of paid work and their family
and other personal responsibilities outside of work. For
employers, flex work helps foster productivity as well as
inclusive and supportive work environments that attract and
retain needed talent."
Employment and Social Development Canada issued a
paper in May to be used as the basis for consultations. It
describes the "realities of today's workplace, society and
economy" in the following manner:
"Developments in the world of work, driven by
technological advances, evolving work processes and the need to
constantly upgrade skills, have made workplaces more complex and
challenging for workers and employers alike. At the same time,
higher participation rates for women in the labour force, the
rise of dual earner and single parent families, growing demands
for informal caregiving as the population ages, and other factors
are creating added family and personal responsibilities,
especially for middle class Canadians and those working hard to
join them.... Achieving balance amongst these often competing
responsibilities can be difficult. In fact, according to the
Canadian Mental Health Association, 58 per cent of Canadians
report 'overload' due to the pressures associated with the many
different roles they now play at work and home, with family and
friends and as volunteers in their communities. The amount of
stress Canadians experience trying to balance their work, family
and personal responsibilities can have significant negative
impacts: for their physical and mental health, their job
satisfaction and the quality of life of their families; for
employers in terms of absenteeism, retention rates and lost
productivity; and for demand on healthcare and social services
The discussion paper's description of the problems that
more and more workers face is, in itself, familiar. It is the Liberal
rendition of the effects of the neo-liberal anti-social offensive that
working people confront every day and which is causing havoc in their
lives and the economy. The Trudeau Liberals present this as some
naturally occurring phenomenon beyond the control of human beings and
certainly outside the capacity of organized class struggle of the
working class to change society so that it is cured of these ills.
The Liberals describe the
difficulties workers face as both a
"challenge" and an "opportunity." They are not presented as
problems to be solved by upholding the interests and well-being
of the people as a priority. Conveniently, the critical issue of
globalization and technological advances led by whom, in the
hands of whom, and for what aim is being skirted so that no
finger is pointed at the destructive actions of the rich and
their global monopolies and the governments in their service.
The reality of the living and working conditions of the
people becoming more and more precarious is made out to be a symptom of
something mysterious. The root cause within the economy and its
relations of production is never identified nor is the destructive
control the global oligopolies and financial oligarchy exercise over
the economy in the service of their narrow and competing private
interests. Describing symptoms of a disease and concocting some remedy
might give the Trudeau Liberals some relief but for the working people
the issue is to find a new direction and path forward to gain control
over their economy, lives and work and provide them a pro-social aim in
opposition to the aim of the rich to serve the oligopolies.
Workers know from their direct experience that the
health problems in the workplace, which have become rampant in
terms of workers' health and safety and peace of mind, are not
caused by some undefined complex work process and technological
change but by the unrelenting anti-social offensive against the
workers on behalf of the rich and their monopolies. Cutting the
workforce, insufficient staffing, refusal to provide child care,
constant harassment to do more with less, and the overall climate
of disciplining and criminalizing workers who dare to protest
all stem from the anti-social control and aim of the financial
oligarchy to defend and build its empires to better seize the
social wealth the working class produces.
According to the Liberal outlook, the issue at hand is
workers have to adapt to the deterioration and destabilization of
their living and working conditions and to the system and
reckless decisions that cause their insecurity and
distress. The Liberal outlook takes the anti-social offensive as
the reference point in order to declare that there is no
alternative. The solution to the "demands" and "pressures" on the
health care system and social services is found by placing the
burden of child care, care for the family and the aged on
families and individuals. Within this, workers are told that
"flexibility" and other schemes can provide a so-called balance
between work and family life.
The irrational Liberal
mantra is to "fend for yourself" in a
completely socialized and integrated economy. To speak of balance
between life and work is to ignore that life for human beings has
always been work. Life begins and advances from work and in the modern
world of socialized work it means creating conditions for workers both
individually and generally to thrive and in this way make their
greatest contribution to the well-being of themselves and all and the
general interests of society.
The documents prepared by the Liberals to support the
enshrine "flexible work arrangements" in the Canada Labour
Code show that the effort is not innocent or altruistic but
has a much more sinister aspect. The report issued by the Trudeau
government on the consultations that were held, states in
"- stakeholders and many survey respondents recognized
flex work operates in a broader legal context and pointed to
several other specific issues which they felt are, or could be,
barriers to enhancing flexibility;
"- collective agreements, which traditionally offer
or favourable work schedules based on seniority, rather than,
say, when an employee makes a request or what type of flexibility
they are seeking;
"- certain provisions in the Code pertaining to
which may be too restrictive from the standpoint of employers
"- Code provisions regarding the employer's
ensure that work locations meet health and safety requirements,
which may not be adequate for remote locations, such as an
So the cat is out of the bag! When push comes to shove,
flexibility means attacking collective agreements, seniority,
length of the working day and week and any other restrictions on
a monopoly's right to exploit workers and attack their dignity. Why
would a worker's request for "flex work" be linked to legal health and
safety requirements, or overtime requirements and so
on? Is the Trudeau government preparing labour law reforms to
dismantle legal arrangements, including negotiated collective
agreements, under the hoax of ensuring or improving their bogus
line of "balance between work and family life"? Whatever positive
measures of stability and equilibrium that exist or did exist in
the working and living conditions of workers were largely due to
the organized collective struggle of the workers for their rights
and the rights of all.
Vigilance and defence of rights, including the right of
workers to organize collectively in defence of their interests,
is the order of the day, even more so in the face of the plans
the Trudeau government seems to be hatching. The call for
"flexibility" appears to be another of the mental constructs of
the Trudeau Liberals to justify attacks against the working class
Workers are organizing not only to defend their rights,
are under attack, but preparing to go on the offensive themselves
to change the aim, organization, relations of production and
direction of the economy to make them consistent with the
socialized nature of modern work.
Missing Factor in the Working Class
Workers are their own saviours!
The working class movement for emancipation should
discard a bad habit that is holding it back. It denies its own capacity
to organize and bring about change independently of the imperialist
ruling elite and their state. Political culture has engrained in the
minds of workers that only through influencing the ruling elite and
using their state-organized institutions can they stop the imperialist
rich and their monopolies and oligopolies from attacking the working
class and convince them to uphold rights and solve problems for the
greater good and not their narrow private interests.
With this mindset, the
working class movement for emancipation has been left with almost no
institutions it can truly call its own. When workers want to make their
own views known to their peers and other workers and the general
public, they generally turn to the mass media of the ruling elite. When
workers want their political opinions expressed in practice, they
turn to one of the cartel political parties of the ruling elite.
When workers are distressed, their rights denied and in need of
help, they are left to the tender mercies of the state
institutions and charities of the imperialist rich.
In all this, the excuse is generally given or silently
understood and accepted as normal that no working class media or
political and welfare institutions are strong enough to make a
difference so workers must turn for help to the institutions of the
imperialist ruling elite. In this way no action is taken to strengthen
media which is partisan to their independent views and positions or the
political and welfare institutions of the working class.
How often is it heard that if only the Toronto
Hamilton Spectator, La Presse or other media outlet of the
monopolies would stop their anti-worker bias and present working
class interests and views objectively and consistently then
things would change for the better. This disabling emotion of
hope stops workers from taking decisive action to build their own
media and institutions independently of the ruling elite.
Workers are seduced by the false promises of those who
hold economic and political power. This is so because workers do not
grasp that they are the producers of social wealth in the country; they
are the majority class by far and the only social force capable of
challenging and depriving the ruling elite of their power to deprive
the people of the rights they have by virtue of being human. The
imperialist rich constantly drum nonsense into workers' heads that they
are a cost of production, not only their wages but their social
programs such as pensions, unemployment insurance, injured workers'
compensation etc. Workers are told constantly and are meant to believe
they are and to see themselves as a burden on the economy and society
and that the real heroes are the imperialist rich. The lie is
propagated that somehow the actual producers who do the work and
produce all the social wealth the people and society need for their
existence are not capable of solving problems for the good of
themselves, their economy and society. The objective truth for all to
see is denied that the imperialist rich and their narrow competing
private interests are really the drag and block to solving the problems
of the economy and society and are holding back the working class from
taking its rightful place as the leader and foundation of modern life.
Removing the block to progress posed by the power of
the ruling elite is the answer for the working class to defend its
rights, solve the problems of the economy, move it in a new pro-social
direction, and open a positive path for society. The working class
cannot remove this block if it constantly seeks help from the very
force that is blocking solutions from happening and depriving workers
of their rightful leading role.
The working class has to
confront the ruling monopoly elite and their state with the power of
its own independent voice, actions and institutions. This is not so
farfetched in today's world where technology offers workers great tools
to reach their peers and others. What is stopping workers from
expressing their views in writing and voice and sending them in an
organized way to all their peers and others at their workplace and
beyond? What is stopping them from setting up welfare institutions that
investigate the conditions of their fellow workers, retirees and others
and develop methods to help all those who need assistance in defending
their rights? What is stopping workers from having regular and
sustained actions with analysis that bring their and the economy's
problems into the open in active confrontation with the ruling elite
and challenge their power to block solutions? The imperialist rich have
to be made to feel uncomfortable and forced to think that they should
come to some arrangement with the working class and that equilibrium in
social relations is better than constantly serving the narrow interests
of the oligopolies and attacking the rights of the people and letting
the economy flounder in recurring crises.
In all cases the working class has to have the
its own hands to defend its rights and exercise its power and
desire to solve problems in a broad pro-social manner for the
greater good. The days of begging the ruling monopoly elite for
what belongs to the working class by right are finished. To turn
the situation around in favour of the working class, the
initiative has to come from workers themselves to build their own
voice and institutions in their workplaces and communities.
Workers have to look to themselves as their own leaders of their
movement, their economy and country.
Workers Are Their Own Saviours!
Canada's Trade Deal with the European
The Premise of CETA
Demonstration against CETA, Ottawa, September 27, 2014.
Prime Minister Trudeau will travel to Brussels, Belgium
on October 29 to attend a signing ceremony for the Comprehensive
Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union
(CETA) the next day. On October 21, Canada's Minister of International
Trade Chrystia Freeland walked out of talks with the government of the
Belgian region of Wallonia and media reported that "last-ditch efforts
to salvage [CETA] appear to have collapsed." Freeland stated, "the
European Union isn't capable now to have an international treaty even
with a country that has very European values like Canada. And even with
a country so nice, with a lot of patience like Canada." After a week of
outrage by the ruling elite that this small region would spoil their
plans Canada pulled the chestnuts out of the fire and on October 28 the
parliament of Wallonia voted to accept the deal with minor
modifications. There is now rejoicing within the ruling elite and their
media and not a few people are disappointed, having hoped that the
agreement would be stopped for good. What is the significance of CETA
and what are Canadians facing?
The oligopolies that
dominate Canada and Europe seek to
eliminate all obstacles to their power. Through CETA and other
free trade agreements they are removing all traces of sovereign
constitutional and political powers that may restrict their
narrow interests. The oligopolies view the existence of social
programs, public services, labour and commercial law as viable
only if they serve their narrow private interests. Through such
devices as the investor-state dispute settlement
clause in CETA, the oligopolies seek to intimidate any government
that may infringe on their authority and ability to exploit the
land, natural resources and work of any nation and region in
Europe and Canada.
Canadians face the reality that when oligopolies amass
enormous economic power, they spontaneously and consciously strive for
domination over the political power to serve their private interests.
Oligopolic economic power within Canada is unparalleled in the history
of the country. A few monopoly corporations control entire economic
sectors as oligopolies, and move the social wealth and property they
control around Canada and to most other countries largely without
restrictions. They demand a similar right to move their social wealth
and the property they control into and out of Europe. The oligopolies
want no existing or future law or regulation to impede their will and
The imperialist rich, the
executive managers who manage their
oligopolies and institutions, their political servants,
celebrities and media stars declare with disgusting hubris that
they are benefiting humanity by concentrating social wealth in
fewer hands, expanding their empires and power throughout the
globe, overwhelming sovereign states and nations and crushing all
competitors and resistance. Some, such as Justin Trudeau and
Chrystia Freeland even brag that as good liberals in the
twenty-first century they are being progressive and serving the
greater good by facilitating the takeover by the oligopolies.
Demonstration against CETA, Vienna, Austria, September 17, 2016. (H.
The contemporary autocrats who have amassed more social
wealth and political power than any emperor the world has ever
seen, along with their political servants, are drunk with riches
and power. They cannot see and do not want to see that the
historic weakness of the oligopolies is found in the
contradictions they face. To exist and expand they must destroy
their competitors and exploit the working class. To exist and
expand they must trample on the rights of all and on the
collective wisdom in governance and relations amongst the people
that humanity has developed in its long struggle to overcome the
brutality of nature and the division of humans into social
classes and the exploitation of the many by the few.
In crushing their competitors and challenging their
structures, the imperialist rich weaken their oligopolic front
and are bringing the world to the brink of a catastrophic world
war. In intensifying the exploitation of the working class, they
awaken workers to their great cause as the social force that
possesses the capacity to challenge, restrict and defeat the
oligopolic front and open a path forward for humanity.
The task of the working class in the face of the grave
dangers facing humanity is to build its proletarian unity and
institutions into a powerful social force that can mobilize the
vast majority of the people to challenge, restrict and defeat the
oligopolic front. It must be done for the sake of humanity. It
can be done!
The three salient characteristics of oligopoly are
commonly described as: (1)
an industry dominated by a small number of large firms, (2) firms
sell either identical or differentiated products, and (3) the
industry has significant barriers to entry. (i.e. Coca
Cola/Pepsi Cola, the pharmaceutical industry, communications,
health insurance, high technology, etc.). Whether by
noncompetitive practices, government mandate or technological
savvy, these companies take advantage of their position to
increase their profitability.
Making Sense of CETA -- Second Edition
Protest against CETA, London, September 25, 2014. (Les Indignants)
Making Sense of CETA finds that, more than just
trade deal, CETA is a sweeping constitution-style document
restricting public policy options in areas as diverse as
intellectual property rights (copyright, trademarks, patents and
Internet governance), government procurement, food safety,
financial regulation, the temporary movement of workers, domestic
regulation and public services, to name just a few of the topics
explored in this analysis....
It is baffling that Canada's trade minister, Chrystia
Freeland, and her European counterpart, Cecilia Malmström, are
portraying CETA as a 'progressive trade agreement.' Other
than some relatively minor changes, it is essentially the same
deal negotiated by Canada's former Conservative government, one
of the most right-wing regimes in recent Canadian history. In
fact, CETA is a 'gold-standard' agreement only in the
sense that it goes further than previous free trade treaties in
elevating the 'gold-plated' rights of corporations and
foreign investors above the welfare of citizens and the broader
Executive Summary (Excerpts)
[...] CETA threatens the public good on both sides of
Atlantic. In a wide variety of policy areas only loosely related
to trade, CETA elevates the rights of corporations and foreign
investors above the welfare of citizens and the broader public
Investor-state dispute settlement
The latest CETA text pays lip service to public
about investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) by replacing it
with what the EU and Canada are calling an Investment Court
System.... The protections afforded to investors in this new 'court'
system are largely unchanged.
Under CETA, foreign investors still receive
legal rights to sue governments for measures that may negatively
affect their investments. These protections, which are not
available to domestic investors or ordinary citizens, would
expose taxpayers to huge financial liabilities and threaten to
chill public policy....
By allowing more cross-border financial services and
facilitating greater direct investment in the financial sector,
CETA would encourage the financial industry to take greater
risks -- for example, by engaging in speculative investment -- in order
to survive in a more competitive international market. CETA would
also limit the regulatory options available to governments to
address financial instability by, among other measures, giving
the financial industry an institutionalised voice in the
Ignoring the lessons of the financial crisis,
CETA would open the financial services sectors in the EU and
Canada to greater competition and put downward pressure on
prudential regulation in ways that make both Parties more
vulnerable to financial shocks and contagion. Furthermore, key
financial services provisions in CETA are enforceable through the
ISDS mechanism, so governments could effectively be forced to pay
banks for the privilege of regulating them.
Trade in services
CETA would restrict governments' capacity to regulate
entry and activity of foreign service suppliers in the domestic
market, even when such regulations do not discriminate based on
the country of origin of firms. By ensuring market access and
preferential treatment for foreign service suppliers, CETA
threatens the viability of public services and local service
The agreement's investment protections would restrict
capacity of governments to expand public services or to create
new ones in the future. CETA conflicts with the freedom of
elected governments to bring privatised services back into the
public sector. Once foreign investors are established in a
privatised sector, efforts to restore public services can trigger
claims for compensation, effectively locking in
CETA would constrain policy flexibility in areas only
related to trade by mandating that licensing and qualification
requirements -- as well as any measure relating to those
regulations -- be 'as simple as possible'. CETA interprets
even non-discriminatory regulations as potential trade barriers.
The scope of the domestic regulation provisions is
in other agreements and even trumps other areas in CETA.
Regulations concerning not just services but also 'all other
economic activities' are covered with only a narrow set of
CETA would create a set of institutions and processes
foreign governments (and their corporate lobbyists) to have a say
in the creation of new domestic regulations, which could delay or
halt the introduction of public interest legislation and
undermine the precautionary principle. The range of regulatory
areas covered by these rules is extensive, including not just
goods and services, but also investment and other areas only
loosely connected to trade. Any attempt to 'harmonise'
regulations between the EU and Canada threatens to push standards
down to the lowest common denominator. Moreover, business
lobbyists could use this process to push for regulatory changes
that are too controversial to be included in the text of CETA
Intellectual property rights
CETA would strengthen the position of patent holders
to innovators and consumers, which would encourage the already
destructive practice of patent trolling in software and other
industries. Because intellectual property is covered by the
investor-state dispute mechanism in CETA, patent holders may be
able to sue governments for future regulations designed to reduce
the power of patent trolls.
CETA does not directly threaten Internet freedom, but
locking in the current system of industry-friendly intellectual
property rules in Canada and the EU, CETA would prevent
governments from returning to a more user-friendly intellectual
property regime in the future.
[...] By expanding duty-free import quotas (e.g. for
meat), CETA would expose Canadian and European farmers to
considerable competitive pressure, which could encourage more
profitable (for some) but less sustainable farming
Climate and energy
CETA's provisions for investment protection coupled
weak protections for environmental and resource measures will
undermine sustainable climate and energy policy in the future....
CETA lacks any provisions that clearly protect regulations and
measures aimed at curbing climate change or promoting renewable
energy from investor attacks....
CETA fails to introduce the kind of binding and
labour provisions that would protect and improve labour standards
in the EU and Canada. Several EU member states as well as Canada
have not ratified some of the International Labour Organisation's
core labour standards or priority governance conventions....
Tellingly, the labour chapter in CETA is exempt from
general dispute settlement provisions of the agreement. In the
event of a dispute over a labour standards violation, CETA merely
requires the Parties to engage in non-binding consultations.
[...] Under CETA, Canada would be forced to make
changes to its intellectual property regime for pharmaceuticals
that would increase drug costs. For the first time in a Canadian
trade agreement, CETA would apply restrictive procurement rules
to municipal and provincial governments, which could undermine
local and regional development initiatives.
CETA could also come into conflict with the rights of
Indigenous peoples, whose traditional lands are often the target
of foreign resource companies.
Other areas of Canadian concern include the impact of
supply-managed agricultural sectors, and how the chapter on the
temporary entry of business persons will affect the domestic
[...] The European Commission and many member states
pushing for 'provisional implementation' of CETA even
before the national ratification processes....
In Canada, CETA must be passed into law nationally
comes into force, which will require the approval of both the
elected federal Parliament and the appointed Senate. The current
government is strongly in favour of CETA and will push for its
ratification as early as autumn 2016, despite opposition from a
variety of municipalities and public interest organisations.
Full text available here.
Electoral Reform in Prince Edward Island
Ad produced by Elections PEI for October 29-November 7 plebiscite.
From October 29 to November 7 the electorate of Prince
Edward Island can vote in a plebiscite on electoral reform. Given the
plans of the Trudeau government to reform the way votes in Canada are
counted before the next federal election, it is instructive to observe
what is taking place in PEI which is clearly considered to be a proving
ground. The government of PEI is also a Liberal majority government
and, like the Trudeau Liberals, expressed interest in preferential
ballots. The plebiscite question in PEI is also to be decided by a
According to the government, the plebiscite is to determine the opinion
of the electorate on the following question:
Rank the following electoral
in your order of preference, 1 through 5 (with 1 being your most
preferred and 5 being your least preferred).
(the current system)
First-past-the-post Plus Leaders
Voters are permitted to mark as many or as few of the
electoral system options as they wish.
Unlike a referendum, the plebiscite is not
binding. PEI Premier Wade MacLauchlan says the government will
wait for the results before deciding on a course of action.
The winning option will be chosen using Instant-runoff
(also known as Preferential Voting). If more than half of the
voters choose one option as their first choice, that option will
win. If no option captures a majority of first-choice votes, then
the option with the fewest first-choice votes will be dropped and those
ballots will be distributed to the other
options based on the second choice on those ballots. A second
count is then generated to see if any option has reached more
than 50 per cent support. This is repeated as necessary until one
option has a majority of the votes cast. If a ballot is cast with
only one option, should that option be the one that receives the
least number of votes and is excluded, that ballot will not be
counted in any future distribution. There is no official
participation threshold to be met for an option to be declared
During the period of the referendum, electors can vote
or by telephone. In-person voting will take place on November 4
and 5. This is the first time any province has done an electoral
event where telephone and internet voting have been an option. The
use of electronic voting at polls, online and by telephone means
that people's votes will be transformed into digital files which
will then be tabulated to determine the winner from the
preferential system which requires the redistribution of ballots
if no one option gets a majority of votes in the first round.
Sixteen- and seventeen-year-old citizens resident in
also being permitted to vote for the first time. This was
recommended by a Special Legislative Committee on Democratic
Renewal on the grounds that they will be aged eighteen (and
therefore eligible to vote under normal election rules) in the
next provincial election, which will be held using the voting
system that is chosen.
Elections PEI ad aimed at young voters.
The Legislative Assembly of PEI currently has 27
single-member districts. There are 101,000 eligible voters in
Interest in Technology and Process
According to reports there are roughly 25 observers
from most of the provinces and territories and some cities across
Canada to observe the plebiscite, along with a team of auditors
overseeing the process, headed by Electoral Management Consultant
Harry Neufeld. Neufeld
indicates that many electoral agencies in Canada are interested
in the PEI plebiscite as a result of the automation and
information technology aspects being used for the first time.
"They're all in the process of trying to automate and bring IT
into the voting process. How we've been working in the past is
very much 1900s," he said, adding that in this plebiscite PEI is
using many of the recommendations for change that were in a
recent report by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.
While Elections PEI is overseeing the plebiscite, parts
the process have been contracted out. Simply Voting Inc., a
Montreal-based company is conducting not only the e-voting and
telephone voting component but the counting of ballots as well.
The company's website states "Over 1000 organizations
from 48 countries rely on Simply Voting for their election needs.
Our secure protocols, ease-of-use and flexible solutions
transform elections across industries." It was launched in 2003
with its first customer being the Students' Society of McGill
An October 26 CBC News
article explains, "When the
official vote count begins for the PEI plebiscite, it will be
a computer that tallies up the votes and declares the winner."
Neufeld said, "If we had to count all those ballots manually I
think we'd be there for months."
"Stacks of ballots will be fed into an electronic
similar to a photocopy machine." A company called Election
Systems & Software Canada will be responsible for feeding the
ballots into the machine. "The
tabulator is set up to identify ballots
that are missing key information, like the district number, or
ones that aren't filled out properly," CBC reports. "All those
ballots will automatically go into a separate bin for a team of
adjudicators to examine."
CBC reports that the paper ballot results will be
converted into a digital file that will be shared with Simply
Voting Inc. The two companies and Elections PEI have held
practice runs, and Neufeld said the tests were "encouraging." At
the end, Simply Voting will merge the internet, phone and paper
ballot results. Once the merger is done, determining a winner is
"almost instantaneous," said Neufeld. "The computer will
determine what option is the top choice of Islanders," CBC
reports. The results will then be delivered to the Speaker of the
PEI Legislature around one hour after polls close.
1. The following summaries are excerpts
from Elections PEI. For more detailed information and
explanatory videos visit http://www.yourchoicepei.ca/home.
Dual Member Proportional: The Island would be
into larger districts, each containing two (2) MLAs. Voters would
still mark one 'X' on the ballot. However, this vote would
be a vote for the candidate and the party simultaneously. There
could be [up to] two (2) candidates running under the same party
In the first round half the seats are allocated based
first-past-the-post. In the second round, seats are assigned to
the best performing candidates. If a party deserves 3 additional
seats based on their proportion of the vote, generally, their top
3 candidates (of those that remain unelected after the first
round) will receive a seat in this round of seat allocation.
Independent candidates can still run and any vote cast for an
independent is a vote cast specifically for that individual.
First-past-the-post (FPTP) (the current system): All the
votes for the district are counted, and the candidate with the
most votes wins a seat in the Legislative Assembly to represent
First-past-the-post Plus Leaders: Similar
system to what is currently in place in Prince Edward Island,
however it features the addition of seats awarded to leaders of
the province's political parties. Parties that attain a threshold
of 10 per cent of the province-wide popular vote have their
leaders elected to the Legislative Assembly, in addition to any
seats they acquire in electoral districts. The candidates who run
and win in the districts become the representatives for their
district in the legislature and have specific jurisdiction over
that district, identical to our current system. Any party leaders
who are elected to the Legislative Assembly would have
province-wide jurisdiction, meaning voters from any district
across the province may approach the party leaders with their
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP): A legislature
elected under MMP consists of a mix of representatives for
single-member electoral districts, and representatives for the
entire province selected from a party list. The ballot would be
in two parts; the first electing the district MLA, and the second
part electing the list MLAs. List seats are allocated
proportionally, based on the popular vote each party receives on
the second part of the ballot. The system is designed so that the
list seats become "top-up" or compensatory seats to accommodate
for disproportionate results in the local district FPTP
elections. Independent candidates may still run in an electoral
district as votes are cast specifically for individuals in each
district to elect local MLAs. However, independent candidates are
not able to run as list candidates, because voters are casting
their ballots for a party to be designated those seats.
Preferential Voting: A system where voters rank
the candidates on a single ballot according to preference. In
order to win a district, a candidate must get more than 50 per
cent of the votes. If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent
of the vote in the first count, then the last place candidate is
excluded and that candidate's votes are redistributed to the
voter's second preference. This process continues until a
candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote.
2. Neufeld is the former Chief
Electoral Officer of Elections BC (2002 to 2010). In April 2010,
after two rulings against the BC Liberal government related to
the HST referendum, he was told by BC Legislative Assembly
Speaker Bill Barisoff that he would not be reappointed at the end
of his eight-year term. Subsequently Neufeld became a private
Neufeld authored a 2013 report commissioned by
Canada entitled "A Review of Compliance with Election Day
Registration and Voting Process Rules," evaluating the 2011
election. The review "stemmed from a legal challenge regarding
the conduct of the May 2, 2011 federal general election in the
Ontario electoral district of Etobicoke Centre." The report was
the basis for claims made by then-Minister of State for
Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre of irregularities in that
election linked to vouching, and it was cited to support the
Harper government's Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act.
Neufeld stated that the report was misinterpreted and that the
bill "tilt[ed] the playing field in one direction" by eliminating
vouching and voter ID cards and called for it to be amended or
Neufeld's biography in the Compliance Review of the
states that he has worked as a consultant around elections
in Australia, Botswana, Britain, Guinea, Guyana, India, Iraq,
Jamaica, Jordan, Libya, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Sweden,
Uganda, the United States and Zimbabwe. He "began his career in
elections focused on computerizing the management of electoral
information. In 1982, his first major assignment was to assist a
technical team and help Elections BC computerize its provincial
voters list and introduce information technology into the
management of elections" and "In the early 1990s, Harry became
Elections Canada's first Director of Information Technology, and
was responsible for computerization of lists of electors,
digitized mapping services and the introduction of general office
3. The company's president is Brian
Lack, who studied programming at McGill and was a Chief Electoral
Officer for the Students' Society of McGill University.
Among the clients listed on the Simply Vote website are
University of Minnesota, Alberta NDP, UN Refugee Agency,
Canadian Football League Players' Association, Doctors
Without Borders, Arizona Republican Party, Wildrose Party, Green
Party of Canada, Australian Democrats, Alliance of Liberals and
Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party, Mohawk Council of
Akwesasne, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation,
United Teachers Los Angeles, and Ontario Federation of
Agriculture. The company provided internet and
telephone voting to four Ontario municipalities in the 2014
The company describes itself as "a full-service
secure, hosted online elections... We are an agile company and
our voting system is constantly evolving with technology and
security innovations. Many reputable third parties have audited
our product, technical infrastructure, and corporate
infrastructure. These audits confirm that Simply Voting possesses
the integrity and security which we promise."
4. Election Systems & Software
(ES&S) is "the world's largest and most experienced provider
of voting machines and total election management solutions. Our
understanding of election processes is unmatched," the company
website says. Its headquarters is in Omaha, Nebraska and it
claims two decades of experience in Canada. Its products include
online voting systems, vote tabulation machines, election
management software, ballot printers, voter registration
software, optical scanners, ballot marking devices and absentee
ballot systems. It offers services including helping to design
elections and "ballot management." Its also owns Data Information
Management Systems, LLC (DIMS), known for its voter registration
system, DIMS.net. ES&S is a subsidiary of the McCarthy Group,
LLC, a "merchant bank dedicated to brokering businesses and
making and managing investments." According to an ES&S promotional
video, more than 60 per cent of voters in the United States cast their
ballot on an ES&S system. ES&S reports that it has produced
more than 100 million ballots for the U.S. Presidential election alone.
After the May 4, 2015 Prince Edward Island election,
the Liberal majority government pledged in its first Throne Speech to
"initiate and support a thorough and comprehensive
examination of the ways in which to strengthen our electoral
system, our representation, and the role and functioning of the
Legislative Assembly." That election resulted in the Liberals'
third consecutive government with 18 seats, while the Progressive
Conservatives took eight seats and the Green Party took one seat for
its leader. The NDP was shut out as it had been in the previous
In July 2015 the government released a White Paper on
Democratic Renewal. In the foreword to the paper, PEI Premier Wade
MacLaughlan stated: "With two decades having passed since the
electoral reforms of 1994 and with a legal requirement that
electoral boundaries be redrawn before the next provincial
election, it is timely for Prince Edward Islanders to engage in a
further and historic renewal of our democratic institutions."
The White Paper laid out a model for reform proposed by
government. It was said to draw on Prince Edward Island's history
of dual-member ridings and on the "longstanding approach widely
used in PEI and elsewhere to nominate candidates and party
leaders." The new
elements proposed by the White Paper were:
- a combination of four larger districts aligned with
province's four federal ridings, and six small single-member
ridings within each of those districts, yielding a total of 28
Members of the Legislative Assembly; and
- a move to a preferential ballot system in both types
districts to "ensure that every candidate must win the support of
at least half their constituents to gain elected office."
It specifically proposed for the preferential system
"Voters would receive a two-part ballot on Election Day. On one
half, the voter would indicate his or her preferences, in order,
for the candidates in the local district, with '1' being the
preferred candidate, '2' the second choice, and so on. It would
be the voter's choice as to whether to indicate only one
preference, or two or more, from among the candidates.
On the second part of the ballot, the voter could express his or
her preferences with regard to the candidates for each of the
parties running in the large district aligned with the federal
riding. Again, the voter could rank as many candidates as
The White Paper argued that this approach, "which has
been used within political parties to select leaders and
candidates for office," has several positive implications:
- It gives voters a greater voice and reduces the
- In so doing, it increases the electoral
influence of supporters of smaller and newer parties, as those
preferences are most likely to be counted first in working toward
the 50 per cent plus one.
- It ensures that all winning
candidates enter office with the support of a majority of their
- More subtly, it promotes a collaborative approach
to running for and holding office. It is widely considered that
the first-past-the-post system encourages candidates to foster
polarization and conflict in order to define what they stand for
and galvanize their supporters into voting. In a preferential
system, however, candidates must appeal to a broader range of
views in order to win the support of second and third round
voters, encouraging a more constructive and positive approach,
the White Paper argued.
The White Paper also discussed measures to encourage
diversity and representativeness of candidates as well as
measures for election finance reform including restrictions on
who may donate, caps on individual donations, caps on campaign
spending and taxpayer subsidies "to the electoral process,"
referring to public subsidies to political parties.
The government struck a Special Legislative Committee
"guide public engagement and make recommendations in response to
the White Paper" and to define the plebiscite question to be
presented. The White Paper proposed that the question would be
guided by a preferential ballot on the following three voting
options: 1) first-past-the-post 2) a preferential ballot 3)
proportional representation. Islanders were also invited to take
part in the "conversation about democratic renewal" on the
Special Legislative Committee's Facebook page and via
The Committee was made up of five members: Jordan
Liberal Government Whip and MLA for Charlottetown-Brighton
(Chair), Dr. Peter Bevan-Baker (Leader of the Green Party of
PEI), Paula Biggar, Liberal (Minister of Transportation,
Infrastructure and Energy) and Sidney MacEwen, Progressive
Conservative MLA (Morell-Mermaid). Janice Sherry, Liberal MLA
(Summerside-Wilmot) had been assigned as a member of the
committee but resigned her seat as an MLA in April 2016. On
November 27, 2015, the Special Legislative Committee submitted its
recommendations in response to the White Paper. In this report it
asked for further time to study the matter. To that point the
Committee was first briefed by experts in the field and former
electoral officials. Following this it held nine meetings in
communities across PEI during October and November 2015. Two
meetings were held specifically with high school and university
students. The Committee also recommended extending the vote to 16-
and 17-year-olds who would vote under the new system in the next
election. It also recommended a six-month education campaign
prior to a November 2016 plebiscite.
In its second and final set of recommendations, the
recommended that the ballot question take the form of a
multi-option ballot listing five systems to be ranked and voted upon.
other things it also
recommended that in the case of "First-past-the-post Plus
Leaders" that a threshold of 10 per cent of the popular vote be
achieved by political parties to assign a seat to party leaders
and that, in the case of Mixed-Member Proportional
Representation, open lists of candidates be incorporated so that
voters have a degree of choice among the candidates presented on
party lists. It further proposed that the fraction of seats
comprising the proportional component of the mixed system be
approximately one-third of the total number of seats in the
Legislative Assembly and that these seats be considered
compensatory or "top up" seats.
1. Prior to the 1996 provincial
election, the province was divided into 16 dual-member districts,
each of which was represented by one member who held the title
Assemblyman and another member who held the title Councillor. This
was a holdover from the legislature's historic bicameral
structure -- instead of simply abolishing its upper house as most
Canadian provinces with historically bicameral legislatures did,
Prince Edward Island merged the two houses in 1893.
Recall Referendum Process Suspended Following Exposure
Rally in Caracas, October 26, 2016, in support of Maduro government and
On October 20, Venezuela's National Electoral Council
(CNE) announced the temporary suspension of the recall referendum
process initiated against President Nicolás Maduro. The
suspension was based on rulings by criminal courts in five states
(there are now seven) where fraud was found to have been
committed in the initial stage of signature collection for a
The first stage of the process for initiating a recall
referendum only required the coalition of opposition parties known as
the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) to collect a total of 195,000
signatures, representing 1 per cent of the registered electorate in
each of Venezuela's 23 states and the national capital region. They
actually handed over to the CNE 1,957,779 signatures of which 605,727
or 31 per cent were ultimately ruled invalid due to irregularities.
Included in these were 11,000 signatures of deceased persons, 9,333
persons not listed in the Electoral Registry, 3,000 minors and 1,335
convicted felons. More than 9,000 complaints of cases of false identity
The submission of false signatures is a criminal
allowing the recall to proceed under those circumstances would
have undermined the credibility of the entire Venezuelan
Criminal courts in the states of Aragua,
Monagas, Apure, Zulia and Trujillo found evidence of fraud in the one
per cent signature collection. The courts accepted complaints
against certain opposition leaders in those states for commission
of criminal offences that included giving false testimony before
a public official, engaging in false acts and providing false
information to electoral officials. Consequently, the courts took
the precautionary measure of ordering the suspension of any acts
resulting from the one per cent signature collection, meaning the
next stage of collecting signatures from 20 per cent of
registered electors in those states could not go ahead as planned
October 26, 27 and 28.
response to the decisions of the five courts on October 20 the CNE
announced it was adhering to the measures ordered by the judges and
postponing the second stage of signature collection scheduled for
October 26-28 pending further judicial orders. With close to a third of
the states prevented from proceeding to the second and final stage of
signature collection, conditions obviously did not exist for going
ahead. There was no way for a referendum to be triggered without
signatures being obtained from 20 per cent of voters in every state.
More significant, however, is that by ordering a pause to the process
rather than pushing ahead and turning a blind eye to the fraud that was
committed, Venezuela's courts and electoral authorities are showing
their determination to uphold not just the integrity of the country's
electoral system but its Constitution and the rule of law as
reactionary, foreign-backed forces are attempting to use both to
defraud the Venezuelan people and destroy their Bolivarian project.
Venezuelan people take their support of their Bolivarian republic to
the streets in support of
the 2017 budget put forward by President Maduro, October 18, 2016.
A question remains however: What purpose is served by such blatant
fraud if the MUD truly believe, as they claim, that the people of
Venezuela are with them in wanting to remove the president?
TML Weekly alerts
readers to the fact that there is much disinformation surrounding
events in Venezuela geared to creating the impression that the
government does not respect the rule of law and that all avenues for
the people to express their will have been blocked, leaving only
anarchy, violence and coup methods. This has intensified over the issue
of the recall referendum. Just one example is the reference frequently
seen in media accounts that the process initiated several months ago
has now been "cancelled." In fact, the National Electoral Council
announced on October 20 that it was postponing the process in light of
five criminal court decisions. The hue and cry from the MUD about the
referendum being "blocked," making it necessary to resort to more
drastic measures is actually to cover up who it is that has been
committing crimes and undermining the rule of law to try and get their
Campaign and Related Constitutional
The reactionary MUD coalition won the majority of seats
in the National Assembly in the last legislative elections held
December 2015. Upon taking their seats in January, the MUD declared
they would remove President Nicolás Maduro within six months and
made several, ultimately unconstitutional efforts, such as trying to
retroactively shorten the president's term to achieve that aim. Only
after exhausting those other efforts did the parties making up the MUD
finally sort out their differences and settle on initiating a recall
referendum -- a process involving several stages.
Under the Venezuelan Constitution, if a successful
recall referendum was carried out before President Maduro reaches the
fourth year of his six-year term -- January 10, 2017 -- a new
presidential election would be triggered. If the referendum were to
succeed after this date, Maduro's vice-president would serve out the
remainder of his term.
The MUD submitted its initial petition for the recall
referendum on May 2, well aware that the last time such a referendum
was held (an unsuccessful attempt to recall late President Hugo
in 2004) the entire process took eight months, which in this case would
have taken the process into February 2017.
Another ongoing dispute between the government and
opposition-controlled National Assembly is that the latter has
been passing legislation in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling
that barred three deputies from being sworn in after the December
2015 election while authorities investigated allegations of fraud
around their victories. The MUD disregarded the Court's order and
seated all three and has been allowing them to vote.
Consequently the court has declared without effect
legislation passed in the National Assembly while this situation
persists. In addition, a number of other opposition initiatives were
ruled unconstitutional on jurisdictional and other grounds by the
court. All of this has led the MUD to allege that the Judicial and
Electoral branches do not operate independently of the Executive, and
that the government is therefore in contempt of the country's
U.S.-Backed Opposition Calls for Coup d'État
People take to the streets of Caracas, October 18, 2016, in support of
Maduro government's 2017 budget, rejecting attempts of
counter-revolutionary forces intent on removing the President.
Throughout the past week the Venezuelan people have been
actions around the
country to defend their President and the gains of the Bolivarian
revolution against attempts
of the foreign-backed opposition to stage a coup d'état. In
working people and
other supporters of the Bolivarian government have demonstrated at the
and held large rallies in front of the presidential palace, Miraflores,
vowing not to permit a
repeat of the short-lived coup perpetrated by many of the same forces
against the late
President Hugo Chávez in 2002.
The exposure of fraud in the recall referendum process
its subsequent suspension has inflamed those forces in Venezuela
and abroad who are hell-bent on removing Venezuelan President
Nicolás Maduro and bringing the country back under imperialist
A press conference held on October 21 by leaders of the
counter-revolutionary forces in Venezuela was addressed by Henry Ramos
Allup and Henrique Capriles. Ramos Allup is President of the
opposition-controlled National Assembly while Capriles is Governor of
the state of Miranda and former presidential candidate for the MUD.
Capriles and Ramos demanded the government overturn the decision of the
National Electoral Council (CNE) to suspend the recall referendum
process and disregard the widespread fraud that prompted courts in
seven states to take action as well. Capriles issued a call for the
National Assembly and the Armed Forces to "make a decision," meaning to
intervene against the elected president and his government allegedly to
"defend the constitution." Capriles presented the fact that President
Maduro was at that time out of the country on official business as a
golden opportunity for a coup to be staged. "Maduro did not just leave
the country, he vacated his position," Capriles said.
When confronted about whether his statements amounted
attempt by the MUD to stage a coup, Capriles claimed that a
"coup" had already been carried out by the government of Maduro
and that "we have to restore constitutional order." Capriles
announced that there would be mobilizations in the following days
and that the opposition would "take Venezuela" on the streets on
October 26, the day the next round of recall signature collection
would have begun.
President Maduro responded on October 21 while in
as part of a tour to meet with governments of fellow
oil-exporting countries by calling for "calm, dialogue, peace,
respect for justice and the law."
On Sunday, October 23, while the president was still
the country, a special session of the National Assembly adopted a
declaration titled Agreement for the Restitution of the
Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,
Constitutional Order and Democracy. The declaration called
"The international community to activate all necessary
mechanisms to guarantee the rights of the Venezuelan people,
especially their right to democracy;
"Formalizing denunciations before the International
Court and other competent organizations against the judges and
directors of the CNE responsible for the suspension of the recall
referendum process as well as other officials responsible for the
political persecution of the people of Venezuela;
"Initiating a process to determine the
the President of the Republic at a special session of the
National Assembly called for October 25 to assess the situation
and take a decision. [This refers to
already proven to be false, that Nicolás Maduro is a dual
-- of Colombia and Venezuela -- making him ineligible to hold the
office of president -- TML Ed. Note.]
President Maduro, October 25, 2016.
"Formation of a special high level parliamentary
charged with developing and defining the decisions that flow from
this agreement to restore the constitutional order;
"Demands that the National Armed Forces do not obey nor
execute any act or decision coming from the Executive, Judicial,
Citizens' or Electoral powers that is contrary to constitutional
principles or that undermines the fundamental rights of the
"Convoking the people of Venezuela in accordance with
constitutional provisions, especially the one established in
Article 333 of our constitution, to engage in constant and active
defence of our Magna Carta, democracy and the rule of law until
constitutional order is restored."
On October 26 the MUD resolved to initiate attempts to
impeach President Maduro. In this it is taking its cue from the
parliamentary coup perpetrated against Brazil's former president
Dilma Rousseff by reactionary forces backed by the U.S. They used
trumped-up "evidence" of corruption to impeach her in a political
trial to gain impunity for their own corruption.
President Maduro speaks to rally in Caracas, October 26, 2016, the same
MUD resolved to initiate impeachment attempts against him.
The MUD also announced that a delegation led by the
of the National Assembly will travel to Washington, DC to meet with
the Organization of American States (OAS) to once again demand
the OAS' "Democratic Charter" be applied against Venezuela, this
time based on the suspension of the referendum process. OAS
Secretary General Luis Almagro jumped at the opportunity to ramp
up his campaign to use every instrument available through the OAS
to attack Venezuela.
OAS Secretary General Calls for International
On October 21 Almagro used Twitter to declare, "Today
more convinced than ever of the democratic breakdown in
#Venezuela. It's time to take concrete actions."
In a statement dated
October 22 posted on the OAS website, Almagro declared that the
suspension of the recall referendum process was a turning point and a
"breakdown of the democratic system." He did not mention the findings
of Venezuelan courts that the opposition's signature collection was
rife with fraud and placed the blame on the Venezuelan President for
the decisions of the national electoral authorities. He declared that
as a result of the recall process being suspended the President has
"lost all of his legitimacy..." As a result, Almagro threatened that
"the political instability created will be his responsibility." He
called on OAS members to act in the framework of Article 20 of the
Inter-American Democratic Charter, which "imposes the obligation of
concrete results," and urged the use of mediators that have "the trust
Almagro dismissed the dialogue facilitated by Union of
South American Nations (UNASUR) between the Venezuelan government and
opposition, led by former Presidents of Spain, José Luis
Rodríguez Zapatero; Panama, Martín Torrijos; and the
Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández. "[I]t has failed to
prevent institutional breakdown; on the contrary whatever its
intentions it has aided the string of obstacles placed before the
realization of the recall referendum," he said. The OAS, unlike
UNASUR, is based in Washington, DC and funded primarily by the
U.S. and Canada, who are not UNASUR members. In dismissing the
efforts of South American countries to resolve the matter
politically, Almagro is seeking to intervene against the
Venezuelan government using the OAS, which thus far has been
blocked from taking such action.
"'Therefore, it is essential that there be a new
effort that gives moral force to the solutions needed by the
Venezuelan people," Almagro concluded.
Opposition Divided Over Dialogue
On October 24 the Venezuelan government and some
representatives of the MUD announced that they had agreed to sit
down for formal talks mediated by the Vatican, UNASUR and three
former heads of state starting October 30. "At last we are
setting up a dialogue between the opposition and the legitimate
government," President Nicolás Maduro said from Rome, after a
meeting with the Pope. The announcement led to an apparent split
within the MUD as leaders of some of its member parties who are
deeply involved in coup preparations said they knew nothing about
it, having found out only through the media, and denounced the
dialogue, saying things like the only thing to negotiate was a
1. Article 333 of the Bolivarian
Constitution of Venezuela states: "This Constitution shall not
lose effect if it ceases to be observed due to acts of force or
because it is derogated by any means other than as provided for
herein. In such eventuality, every citizen vested or not vested
with authority, has a duty to cooperate in restoring its
"Latin American and Caribbean Countries Defeat OAS Attempt to Support
Coup Forces," TML Weekly June 4, 2016.
Canada's Role in Organizing Reactionary
On October 21, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane
issued a statement that "Canada is concerned by the decision of
Venezuela's National Electoral Council to suspend the
presidential recall referendum. Canada strongly urges the
Electoral Council to reverse its decision and allow Venezuelans
to exercise their constitutional right to hold a recall
Dion's statement on behalf
of the Government of Canada
constitutes blatant interference in the internal affairs of
Venezuela. More than that, it is an attempt to bolster forces
that are in the midst of attempting to carry out a coup d'état
against the elected President of the country, Nicolás Maduro.
statement deliberately ignores the fact that the decision by
Venezuela's National Electoral Council to suspend the
second phase of the signature collection process to request a
recall referendum against the Venezuelan President was taken in
response to decisions by Venezuelan courts based on evidence of
widespread irregularities. The nature and extent of the
irregularities signal an organized fraud in the signature
collection process by leaders of the U.S. and Canadian-backed
opposition. Canada is trying to give legitimacy to likely crimes
by forces it has given its backing to and fan the flames of
violence. This from a country that denies its own
citizens the right to recall Members of Parliament or the Prime
Minister. Already there are reports of one police officer shot to death
and two others injured in Miranda state by violent anti-government
demonstrators during street actions on October 26 called by the
opposition to "take Venezuela."
Dion has declared himself judge, jury and executioner,
attempting to dictate to the Venezuelan courts and government on
behalf of his U.S. imperialist masters that they should ignore
their findings and their own law and procedures. Canada's talk of
democracy and human rights is clearly exposed in this case as a
fraud, used to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries
and facilitate coups d'état against governments that refuse to
submit to U.S. imperialist dictate. This is the same thing the
Canadian government did in Haiti this past year, demanding the
country get on with holding the final round of presidential
elections despite the widespread, open fraud that took place in
To hide the role Canada is
playing to incite anarchy, violence and instability in Venezuela, Dion
went on to state: "Canada calls on all sides to react with restraint
and to look for a lawful resolution to the serious crisis facing the
country." Somehow the decisions of the Venezuelan courts are not
"lawful" nor are the decisions of its National Electoral Council.
According to Dion, the opposition's refusal to recognize the courts'
decisions is acceptable because he has decided it is and the issue now
is to use "lawful" means to carry out regime change rather than
"unlawful" means. Are we supposed to believe that Canada is acting to
contribute to peace and democracy in Venezuela when everything points
to the fact that its foreign Minister is only concerned with getting a
result that he and the forces he represents want in Venezuela?
Part of Canada's support for regime change in Venezuela
involves painting the Bolivarian government as a violator of
human rights while the fraud exposed in the referendum process is
hidden. Dion said, "We are concerned by ongoing arrests and
detentions of political opponents and protestors. Canada calls on
the Government of Venezuela to respect its international
commitments to democracy and human rights, to release all
political prisoners, and to engage in dialogue with the political
Canadians should raise their voices against the Trudeau
government's attempts to provide cover for regime change in
Venezuela. The actions of Canada's foreign minister are hostile
and meant to create an atmosphere of anarchy and violence in
which anything can happen, that will immediately be blamed on
the Venezuelan government so as to justify whatever crimes the
imperialists are preparing.
No to the Use of Force in International
Canada's Support for Regime Change!
Hands Off Venezuela!
Unanimous Vote at UN to
End U.S. Blockade
Overwhelming Victory for Cuba!
Today, October 26, the United Nations by a vote of 191
0 (with 2 abstentions, the United States and Israel)
overwhelmingly condemned Washington's more than five-decade-long
economic war against Cuba. This represents the 25th consecutive
year that the UN has rejected U.S. attempts to impose its
imperial will on Cuba through coercion by the unilateral
commercial, economic and financial blockade of Cuba.
The resounding UN vote represents not only a victory
but also a victory for all those who struggle to defend the
inalienable and inviolable right of all peoples to
self-determination and independence.
Representing the largest rebuff by the international
community of Washington's efforts to asphyxiate the heroic people
of Cuba, the October 26 vote not only demonstrates the
unflinching opposition of the world to the criminal U.S. policy,
but also the depth of global support and respect for Cuba. Such
is the isolation of the empire in the world that it was forced to
acknowledge and accede to this reality by abstaining.
However, while Washington's abstention is a positive
development, the principal architecture of the economic blockade
Thus, the struggle still continues to finally bring an
the U.S. economic war against Cuba, which is a flagrant violation
of international law, constituting the principal obstacle to the
island's social and economic development. In this struggle, the
nations and the peoples of the world, representing the immense
majority of humanity, have declared in one voice that they stand
End the U.S. Blockade of Cuba!
Might Does Not Make Right!
The unanimous October 26 UN vote in favour of Cuba's
resolution "Need to put an end to the economic, commercial and
financial blockade imposed by the United States of America
against Cuba" is another important victory not only for Cuba but
for all of Cuba's many friends and supporters around the world.
However, in announcing the U.S. abstention prior to the
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power emphasized that while the Obama
administration has changed U.S. policy toward Cuba, the
abstention should in no way be taken as agreement with those who
support the resolution. She then went on to arrogantly declare
all the ways that Cuba should change itself to meet U.S.
approval, not once acknowledging any U.S. misdeed against
Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla
accepted the U.S. abstention and the remarks of the U.S.
Ambassador. At the same time, he used the occasion to reiterate
the brutal effects of the blockade. Cuba estimates the
accumulated economic damage of the blockade at $753.67 billion.
Rodriguez also pointed out the blockade's blatant violations of
international law, and the affront that it represents to the
peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean who have declared the
region a zone of peace. "There is no doubt that progress has
been made," Rodriguez said. "However the economic, commercial and
financial blockade persists. It causes harm to the Cuban people
and impairs the country's economic development." The blockade
must be removed in its entirety, he underscored. He concluded by
saying that in the process of normalizing relations between the
two countries, it would be helpful for the U.S. to recognize that
change in Cuba is a sovereign matter of Cubans themselves.
Cuba's latest victory at the United Nations stands in
contrast to all those who would abuse the UN to undermine the
sovereignty of others. While examples abound of the U.S.
imperialists attempting to use the institutions of the UN against
its founding principles and Charter, Cuba's principled defence of
its own rights defends the interests of humanity.
On this occasion, TML Weekly sends its warmest
congratulations to Cuba, its leadership, people and diplomatic
mission at the UN, and all of Cuba's friends around the world. At
a time when the U.S. imperialists, with their army, navy, air
force, nuclear weapons, state terror, economic warfare and coups
d'état are wreaking havoc on humanity, Cuba's victory at the UN
sends a clear message that "Might does not make right!"
and that organized resistance and the steadfast defence of
principle can find a way forward. TML Weekly calls on Canadians
to actively support the movement to end the blockade and return
Arrogant Remarks by U.S. Ambassador
Before the UN vote on the annual resolution to end the
U.S. blockade of Cuba on October 26, the floor was opened for
representatives from any country to speak to the resolution. U.S.
Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power noted, "For more than 50
years, the United States had a policy aimed at isolating the
Government of Cuba. For roughly half of those years, UN member
states have voted overwhelmingly for a General Assembly
resolution that condemns the U.S. embargo and calls for it to be
ended. The United States has always voted against this
resolution. Today, the United States will abstain." The
announcement of the U.S. abstention was met by sustained applause
from the Assembly.
Note that Power claimed the resolution condemns the
"U.S. embargo," which implies that the measures are a bilateral affair
between the U.S. and Cuba and nobody else's concern. This is not
correct. The resolution condemns the "U.S. blockade" which is an
all-sided illegal act of aggression against Cuba, which is also imposed
on all countries who have relations with Cuba and trade with Cuba.
Power then qualified this position to make sure no one mistook it for
U.S. agreement with the resolution:
"In December 2014, President Obama made clear his
to the embargo and called on our Congress to take action to lift
it. Yet while the Obama administration agrees that the U.S.
embargo on Cuba should be lifted, I have to be clear we don't
support the shift for the reasons stated in this resolution."
Power then went on to deny the illegality of the blockade and
that the U.S. "categorically reject[s] the statements in the
resolution that suggest otherwise."
Power then used her speech
to spread disinformation about life in Cuba, denying U.S.
responsibility for the many difficulties faced by Cubans because of the
blockade and to justify all of the U.S. misdeeds. She admitted that the
policy of isolating Cuba had backfired on the U.S., but then made
spurious allegations about human rights violations in Cuba. For
example, she alleged limitations on Cubans' access to outside sources
Power did not acknowledge that the hostile U.S. policy
violates Cubans' human rights, that the greatest restriction on Cubans'
access to information is no doubt the blockade, which restricts the
internet bandwidth to less than Cuba requires, as well as Cuba's access
to computers and telecommunications equipment. Nor did she acknowledge
billions of dollars in economic damage cause by the blockade or
the thousands injured and killed through U.S.-sponsored state
terrorism against Cuba. Similarly, when she congratulated Cuba
for its work to lower the rate of child mortality, she did not
acknowledge the feat of doing so under the blockade (nor that the
rate in Cuba is lower than that of the U.S.).
At no time did Power recognize the legitimate reasons
which the world's peoples have formally condemned the blockade
for 25 years, nor the need for justice or redress.
The U.S. Ambassador even claimed that the "enmity"
the two countries has prevented normal diplomatic relations and
collaboration, suggesting that Cuba has been hostile toward the
U.S. and this justified U.S. aggression against Cuba. Cuba of
course has never shown any such enmity toward the U.S. It has
simply defended its rights and sovereignty and that of other
peoples in the spirit of internationalism and has sought peaceful
and friendly relations with all countries, including the U.S.
Power attempted to give a positive example of
multilateralism involving Cuba and the U.S. using a most
patronizing recounting of the international response to the Ebola
outbreak in West Africa. She stated that it was the U.S. which
led the way, and that Cuba had really stepped up by being one of
the first to respond to the U.S. call to action. She spoke about
a Cuban doctor who had become infected during the course of
providing assistance in West Africa. The international effort to
treat this doctor is what should always characterize the UN,
Power said. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla, in
his remarks that followed Power's, had to point out that the
deployment of Cuban medical aid in that case was actually
hampered by the U.S. blockade.
Power concluded her remarks saying that the U.S.
is but a small step to improving relations, but with many more
such small steps, she hoped that the ultimate goal of finally
lifting the blockade could be achieved.
President's October 14 Policy
The Small Print
Reopening of Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC on July 20, 2015, one of
the steps taken in Cuba-U.S. relations over the past 22 months.
After decades of secret documents concealing sabotage
destabilization plans, Barack Obama's new presidential policy
directive on Cuba was publicly unveiled on Friday, October
The U.S. President stated that the document represents
"comprehensive and whole-of-government approach" and aims to make
the transformations of the last two years irreversible.
He added that the directive "promotes transparency by
clear about our policy and intentions."
Meanwhile, his National Security Adviser, Susan E.
even further in recognizing that there were "secret plans for
Cuba" in the past, but that the U.S. had now decided to make
public the executive directives concerning relations with the
As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
technocratic language and the typical neologisms of diplomacy,
the text conceals many of the contradictions that remain between
the two neighbors.
Since the announcements of December 17, 2014, U.S.
authorities have said on several occasions, and in different
ways, that they have changed their methods but not their
"We recognize Cuba's sovereignty and
directive signed by Obama notes, after describing the actions of
the last half century as "an outdated policy that had failed to
advance U.S. interests."
Another paragraph of the document reads, "we are not
to impose regime change on Cuba; we are, instead, promoting
values that we support around the world while respecting that it
is up to the Cuban people to make their own choices about their
However, the speech by Rice at the Woodrow Wilson
Washington [on October 14], and the subsequent exchange with the
press, made clear in both tone and content that the aspirations
to promote changes in the political, economic and social order
chosen by the Cuban people in 1959 have not disappeared.
The influential National Security Adviser justified the
current change of policy, arguing that the United States could
not "simply stand back and wait for Cuba to change."
She also said that Washington was interested in the
that have occurred on the island which, according to her, have
resulted from the rapprochement between the two countries since
the restoration of diplomatic relations.
Rice added, "We believe
that engaging openly and honestly is
the best way to advance our ideals," claiming that Washington is
"making our democracy programs more transparent."
It is under this label of "democracy programs" that the
veils its regime change projects, to which it has allocated
millions of dollars for decades, without achieving its
The directive contains almost identical terms in the
indications to the various levels of government, especially the
United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which
is in the sights of several countries due to its subversive work,
and in Cuba was behind operations such as the ZunZuneo
alternative social networking service, intended to create a
support base among youth.
"The USAID will co-lead efforts with State to ensure
democracy programming is transparent and consistent with
programming in other similarly situated societies," the document
details, as if the mere fact of making such programs transparent,
without changing their subversive nature, would automatically
make them acceptable to Cuba.
Beyond the obscurity in the phrase "other similarly
societies" and assuming that Cuba is not the only country where
Washington funnels money to try to influence the decisions of
sovereign peoples who do not respond to its interests, several
questions arise: what does making these programs "transparent"
consist of? Does being "transparent" make them less
Recent examples, such as the case of scholarships for
courses from the organization World Learning, awarded
surreptitiously and behind the backs of Cuban authorities, are
illustrative with regard to the real interests of these
USAID-subsidized programs in the style of the "Color
The directive recognizes that these operations affect
process toward the normalization of relations, but gives no
indication of any intention to change, nor modify, other aspects
that undermine the ties between the two countries: "We anticipate
the Cuban government will continue to object to U.S. migration
policies and operations, democracy programs, Radio and TV Marti,
the U.S. presence at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, and the
The text continues, "The United States Government has
intention to alter the existing lease treaty and other
arrangements related to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, which
enables the United States to enhance and preserve regional
security," in reference to one of the essential sovereign demands
of the Cuban people, regarding the illegally occupied territory,
without whose solution normal relations are not possible.
Among the results the United States seeks in the long
with the transformation of its policy toward Cuba is "the
development of a private sector that provides greater economic
opportunities for the Cuban people."
The text continues, "While the embargo remains in
role will be to pursue policies that enable authorized U.S.
private sector engagement with Cuba's emerging private sector and
with state-owned enterprises that provide goods and services to
the Cuban people."
The Cuban economic model, whose updating process has
submitted to popular consultation on several occasions,
recognizes the non-state sector as a source of employment and a
complement to the economic development of the country. However,
the social ownership of the basic means of production and the
socialist state enterprise are key to the present and the
prosperous and sustainable future to which we aspire on the
In its conceptualization of
the Cuban people, the U.S.
directive ignores the three of every four Cubans who work in the
public sector and are not beneficiaries of current
Although undoubtedly the persistence of the blockade is
main obstacle to trade and the normalization of economic
relations, the intention to prioritize the private over the
public sector (which constitutes the majority in Cuba) for
political purposes and to create divisions within the country is
The directive contradicts itself on stating, in the
entitled "Strategic Landscape", that Cuba has "important economic
potential rooted in the dynamism of its people, as well as a
sustained commitment in areas like education and health
For over half a century, private capital has not
Cuban school or hospital, but Washington does not hesitate to
recognize both sectors as strategic strongholds for the country's
Measures on the Right Track but Limited
The latest round of measures from the departments of
and the Treasury, which accompanied the publication of the
directive, are on the same track as the previous ones, again with
a very limited, selective and intentional scope.
While imports of Cuban pharmaceutical and biotechnology
products to the United States are approved for the first time --
for the benefit no doubt of its own population which will now be
able to access treatments like Heberprot-P for diabetic foot
ulcers -- the restriction remains on creating joint ventures in
this sector for the development and marketing of such
The opening in this area is evidence of the broad
powers of the U.S. president to substantially modify aspects of
the blockade, which continues to restrict exports of the vast
majority of Cuban products to the neighboring country, the
largest market in the world.
Most measures are aimed at expanding transactions
authorized in previous packages, demonstrating their limited
The ban on U.S. investment in Cuba remains, except in
telecommunications sector, which was approved in early 2015.
There is no new news to help dispel international
regarding the financial persecution to which Cuba is subjected
and whose intimidating effects still prevent cash deposits or
payments to third parties in U.S. dollars.
The fact remains that,
despite the call on Congress to lift
the blockade, the bulk of this aggressive U.S. policy remains
standing; resulting in billions in losses for the country. Its
effects even inhibit the implementation of the measures approved
by the Obama administration.
The President of the United States is far from having
exhausted his executive powers to make possible the effective
implementation of the measures adopted thus far and decisively
contribute to dismantling the blockade.
Still, the historic steps of the last 22 months can not
disregarded. Diplomatic relations were reestablished and
embassies reopened in both countries. Six U.S Cabinet secretaries
have visited Havana and four Cuban ministers have traveled to the
United States. Obama became the first U.S. president to visit
Cuba since 1928.
A Bilateral Commission was established to discuss
issues and agreements on environmental protection; marine
sanctuaries; public health and biomedical research; agriculture;
the fight against drug trafficking; security of travelers and
commerce; civil aviation; mail; and hydrography have been signed.
Talks on cooperation in law enforcement, regulatory and economic
issues and claims, among others, have been launched.
The list of progress between two countries that just
years ago lacked an elementary diplomatic link is considerable.
But a long road remains ahead to achieve a civilized relationship
between neighboring nations not only separated by 90 miles of
sea, but by two centuries of convulsive bilateral history.
Beyond a directive drafted as if there were no problems
between the two countries, and which could generate false
expectations, the present time demands real political will to
carry out the necessary changes and set aside both the carrot and
Ten Key Questions
1. The directive issued by President Barack Obama,
14, describes the blockade as an "outdated policy that had failed
to advance U.S. interests." Will Washington ever recognize that
the blockade has been an illegal and unjust policy of aggression
which has caused Cuba billions of dollars in economic damages and
incalculable human losses? Is the U.S. willing to compensate the
Cuban people for these losses?
Losses caused by the U.S
blockade of Cuba (April 2015 through
Health: $82,723,876 -- Five million dollars
Food: $605,706,289 -- The greatest impact is
increased price of seeds, fertilizers, and replacement parts from
agricultural and other types of machinery.
Culture: $29,483,800 -- The U.S. could be
source market for an important group of raw materials, resources,
tools and equipment for the country's artists, artisans and
designers, if the blockade didn't exist.
Education: $1,245,000 -- The Ministry of
suffered losses in the cited period, due to the increased cost of
sourcing supplies from markets further afield.
Construction: $30,868,200 -- Key losses in this
are related to the island's inability to access more efficient,
lighter and energy-friendly construction technologies.
Biotechnology: $171,665,136 -- Total losses
the blockade have reached an enormous figure.
2. If the United States wants to engage "honestly" with
the Cuban people, as Assistant to the President for National Security
Affairs Susan Rice stated, why does the new directive close the door on
returning the territory illegally occupied by the U.S. Naval Base in
Guantánamo, one of the sovereign demands of the Cuban people,
key to full normalization of relations?
Every year the United States sends Cuba a check for
lease the Naval Base in Guantánamo. As a matter of principle,
Cuba does not cash these checks, as it doesn't recognize the
occupation of this portion of national territory.
- The Naval Base located on Guantánamo Bay was
1903, after the occupation of the island by the U.S.
- The illegally occupied territory covers an area of
square kilometers (49.4 on land and the remainder over expanses
of marshland and sea).
- [Between] soldiers and civilians, over 5,300 people
- The U.S. maintains an illegal prison facility on the
3. "We recognize Cuba's sovereignty and
and acknowledge areas of difference," and "we are not seeking to
impose regime change on Cuba," are two sentences which feature in
the new policy directive. If the U.S. government is really
committed to this position in the current context of bilateral
relations, why does it continue to maintain the so-called
"Democracy Assistance" programs?
Every year the U.S. Congress approves a budget of
approximately $20 million to fund subversive activities in Cuba.
From 2009 to 2016 the U.S. government has allocated $139.3
million to this end.
Examples include ZunZuneo, a messaging network similar
that of Twitter, which sends seemingly innocent messages to
users' cell phones with the aim of creating a political platform
among Cuban youth; and World Learning summer scholarships awarded
surreptitiously and without the involvement of Cuban authorities,
which aim to create leaders with the potential to undermine the
internal order of the country.
"Independent" contractors have been hired to establish
[an] illegal covert communications system with the use of
4. What does the directive mean when it says that
assistance" programs will be more "transparent" and "consistent
with programming in other similarly situated societies around the
The United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) has played a central role around the world in the work
and financing of groups and individuals which participated in the
brief coup staged against Hugo Chávez in 2002. Hundred of
millions of dollars was funneled to coup supporters through
organizations like Freedom House and the International Republican
In September 2008, during a wave of protests against
government of Evo Morales, authorities from the Andean nation
decided to expel USAID after the agency refused to disclose
recipients of aid funds.
Russian authorities expelled the agency from the
October 2012. In a statement by the Kremlin it noted that USAID's
work "does not always correspond to [its] stated goals This means
attempts to exert influence, via the distribution of grants, on
political processes, including elections at various levels and
institutions of civil society."
5. The new directive notes, "We anticipate the Cuban
government will continue to object to U.S. migration policies and
operations, democracy programs, Radio and TV Marti." If the U.S.
government understands that these issues undermine positive
bilateral relations, what sense is there in maintaining Radio and
TV Marti, which violate all international norms?
The Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), responsible for
Radio and TV Marti, has an annual budget of around $30 million. The
organization has received a total of $193.9 million from 2009 to 2016.
Unsuccessful attempts at broadcasting TV Marti to
made via a hot air balloon, EC-130 military plane and G-1
aircraft. Transmissions still continue via satellite and
Radio and TV Marti violate norms stipulated by the
International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which states that
radio and television broadcasts should be intended to provide a
"high-quality national service within the limits of the country
considered," while short wave transmissions should facilitate
"peaceful relations, international cooperation among
6. The Presidential directive notes that the new policy
to "help the Cuban people to achieve a better future for
themselves." What, then, is the point of applying measures only
benefiting a small part of the population, above all private
sector workers, clearly intended to create divisions within the
Workforce distribution in Cuba: At the end of
2014, of the country's 4,969,800 workers,
per cent work in the state sector, and the remainder in the
7. Alongside the new Presidential directive, the U.S.
Treasury and Commerce departments issued a new package [of] measures
related to Cuba. Key changes include the ability to import Cuban
pharmaceutical and biotechnological products to the U.S. Why
maintain the restriction on creating joint ventures for the
development and marketing of these products?
Since 2014, Cuba has possessed a novel medicine to
diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs), preventing the need for amputation. To
the therapy has benefited more than 230,000 patients worldwide,
with over 21 registries and 30 patents. The ability to export
Heberprot-P could benefit the 5 per cent of U.S. citizens who
develop DFUs annually. This would contribute to reducing the over
70,000 amputations performed on diabetic patients every year in
Cuba has the first ever registered therapeutic vaccine
combat lung cancer. After 20 years of clinical trials, the safety
and efficiency of the medicine has been proven, with positive
reactions to treatment, increased survival rates, and improved
quality of life for the patient.
Production costs are relatively low and the medicine
no significant side effects. Over 5,000 patients have been
treated with the vaccine worldwide. Lung cancer is the main cause
of cancer related deaths in the United States.
8. Under the subheading Strategic Landscape, the
notes that "Cuba has important economic potential rooted in
the dynamism of its people, as well as a sustained commitment in
areas like education and health care. Does Washington acknowledge
that Cuba's socio-economic model, based on the public control
over the fundamental means of production, guarantees such
achievements in two spheres strategic for the nation's
The Cuban national public health system includes 415
polyclinics; 10,782 community clinics; 151 hospitals; and 1,229
dentistry facilities, providing services completely free of
charge -- with one doctor for every 127 inhabitants; one dentist for
every 640 inhabitants; and one nurse
every 125 inhabitants. Public resources additionally include 12
research institutes; 707 medical libraries; 147 retirement homes;
49 geriatric service facilities; 265 Older Adults Centers; and 13
universities with 25 medical sciences departments.
Public spending on education has grown from 83.7
pesos in 1959 to 8.2 billion today.
9. Why are U.S. companies still prohibited from
Cuba, with the exception of the telecommunications sector,
approved by Obama in 2015?
Foreign investment in Cuba today is evident in many
Of the total amount invested, the largest portion is in tourism
(52 per cent), followed by mining and energy at 11 per cent.
Other areas include construction; agriculture-sugar;
transportation; and food processing.
International Economic Association contracts make up 50
cent of foreign investment; 45 per cent of the total is invested
in joint ventures; while 5 per cent involves projects undertaken
with 100 per cent foreign capital.
10. After half a century of stalemate, indisputable
in bilateral relations have been made over the last 22 months. Is
President Barack Obama willing to continue using his executive
prerogatives to make the policy change toward Cuba
Organize to Support Hurricane Relief Efforts
Hurricane Matthew Relief and Reconstruction
Cuban President Rául Castro addresses residents of Maisí
Guantánamo province on a tour of areas hit by Hurricane
Matthew, October 10, 2016.
Hurricane Matthew, with winds of 225 km/h (140mph),
eastern Cuba on October 4, causing significant and widespread
damage. Because of Cuba's internationally renowned and acclaimed
civil defence system, there was no loss of life. However,
Baracoa, Cuba's oldest city and known internationally as one of
the most beautiful parts of the island, has been devastated. With
a population of more than 80,000, Baracoa has been reduced to
rubble. Baracoa resident Osvaldo Neira poignantly underscored the
situation, declaring, "We lost everything."
Cuba will have to expend
considerable resources, both
immediate and long term, in order to overcome the havoc wreaked
by Hurricane Matthew especially in the province of Guantanamo,
where the municipalities of Baracoa, Maisi, Imias and San Antonio
del Sur took the brunt of the hurricane. To assist Cuba in its
immense efforts of recovery and reconstruction, the Canadian
Network On Cuba (CNC) is launching a Hurricane Matthew Relief and
Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign.
President Rául Castro with residents of Baracoa in eastern Cuba,
during his visit to areas devastated by Hurricane
Matthews, October 9, 2016.
In recent years, the CNC has had a series of successful
Hurricane Relief Campaigns. The most recent was in 2012 when
Hurricane Sandy struck the island, causing massive damage to
Santiago de Cuba. In 2008, the CNC's most extensive campaign was
launched when a series of hurricanes caused damage in excess of
$10 billion. The CNC not only raised hundreds of thousands of
dollars, but also directly participated in the construction of a
new social and cultural centre on La Isla de La Juventud.
In 2016, as Cuba faces this latest challenge, we are
confident that Canadians -- as they have repeatedly done -- will
once again demonstrate their friendship and solidarity with Cuba
by supporting the island as it recovers from the ravages of
Our experience with regard
to Cuba's response to
disasters is that it knows how to multiply the value of any
donations it receives. We feel confident, based on the island's
unsurpassed humanitarian work -- both within Cuba and in other
countries -- that it has the skills, the organization and the
ethical and moral values to put whatever assistance it receives
to the best possible use. As they have shown throughout their
history and especially since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution
on January 1, 1959, the Cuban people will successfully overcome
this new challenge. Even at this difficult time, Cubans continue
to provide relief workers in Haiti.
The CNC urges everyone who so desires to support the
Hurricane Matthew Relief and Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign
by making a donation. Donations can be made to the Canadian
Network on Cuba and mailed to: Attn: Sharon Skup, 56 Riverwood Terrace,
Bolton, ON L7E 1S4. Please write "CNC Matthew Relief Fund" on your
cheque's memo line.
On Behalf of the
Canadian Network On Cuba,
Isaac Saney &
Elizabeth Hill, CNC- Co-Chairs
Notice to Members of the
Canadian Network on Cuba
It is with good reason that those of us who love and
support Cuba or who are capable of human empathy, and are just
humanitarians, feel great anxiety when we hear of a tropical
storm approaching the Caribbean. The odds are that that storm,
nurtured by the warmth of that sea, will grow into a hurricane of
violent or even disastrous proportions. Great are the odds too
that it will attack one or more of the several island countries
that come to life there, doing damage to them that is vastly
disproportionate to what they can afford to repair.
Even more likely is the chance that one of those
islands will be Cuba, the largest of the Caribbean countries,
washed by the Caribbean and the Atlantic and stretching toward
the Gulf of Mexico. So large, in fact, and occupying such a
meteorologically strategic space that severe damage to the
island's people and property can be done by a hurricane that hits
any of the island's cardinal points or points in between.
Nevertheless, when a hurricane makes its cruel way
the Caribbean, if we were to depend on North American media, we
wouldn't know where to find it. At one point we might know that a
hurricane of the strength and reach of Matthew is hammering
Haiti, at another the Dominican Republic, and then the fixation
becomes the southern U.S.A. For some time we in the
English-speaking world do not know how Cuba fared, not until a
friend such as Susan Hurlich, resident in Havana, gives us her
kind and informative first report.
The reporting is indicative of the level of empathy the
wish to reflect or stimulate. We know that there are strong
feelings of goodwill toward Cuba throughout Canada. Very many
people will be sorry to hear, as Susan has informed us in detail,
the Eastern end of the country, the province of Guantanamo
especially, suffered catastrophic damage from Matthew.
Some 80% of the people lost their homes. Many public
buildings were destroyed, food crops were ruined in the fields,
food supplies were spoiled in storage; electrical and other
energy supplies were made useless. Because of washed-out roads,
fallen bridges, it has been difficult for emergency food supplies
to get to people; but as of October 9th, thanks to volunteer
linemen and other workers from other provinces, and now to the
arrival of a warship from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
with 375 tons of supplies, the immediate crisis is beginning to
Miraculously Cuba did not surrender a single fatality
Typically, Cuban volunteers were on their way to Haiti,
suffered, the day after Matthew passed, a horrific blow with some
1,000 deaths, total devastation and disease making its ugly
presence promptly known.
We recognize the help given to Haiti by the U.S., which
itself suffered 38 deaths from Matthew.
We are looking for a way of getting charitable tax
for donors. We welcome suggestions. In the meantime, let us be as
energetic, imaginative and generous as we can be in our efforts
to win against Matthew. The situation is dire.
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