June 17, 2017 - No. 22

In Memoriam
Charles Boylan

March 18, 1943 - June 17, 2017

With deepest sorrow the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) informs you that our Comrade Charles Boylan passed away peacefully on June 17 just before 11:00 pm. Charles died with his beloved partner Donna at his side. His children and close comrades and friends were with him throughout the day.

Charles spent his last days in the Cottage Hospice in East Vancouver close to his childhood home. It is fitting that the hospice overlooks the harbour where Charles carried out much of his lifelong work to humanize the social and natural environment and make Canada a zone for peace.

With our deepest social love and affection we send our condolences to Donna, Brendan, Edana, Thomas, his brother John and the entire Boylan extended family and to all the Comrades in BC and throughout the country and his many, many colleagues and friends who will miss him dearly.

Our Charles lived life to the fullest under all conditions and circumstances. To the very end he continued communicating directly with the literally hundreds of people with whom he lived, worked and shared weal and woe, cementing the unity of the people around a modern nation-building project. He dedicated his entire life to the emancipation of the working class and to ending colonial injustice and making Canada a zone for peace.

Charles has donated his body to the University of British Columbia for teaching purposes; a private cremation will follow in due course. The Party will organize a Celebration of Life in Vancouver in September. We will post an on-line book of condolence at www.cpcml.ca/charles for all those who wish to share their grief and experiences with Charles.

Charles made the Party proud. Our loss is great. He will be truly missed.

Central Committee
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)

In the Parliament
Trudeau Government's Anti-Social, Anti-National Agenda
Bill C-44, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1
Bill C-22, An Act to Establish the National Security and
Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians

Bill C-23, Preclearance Act, 2016

Government Provides Hundreds of Millions to
Softwood Lumber Barons

Oppose State Subsidies to Pay the Rich!
- K.C. Adams -
Subsidies for Forestry Companies
Trade Dispute with Lumber Barons in the U.S.

Results of British General Election
The Election and Its Aftermath
Crisis of Political System Deepens as People Say No! to May
- Workers' Weekly - 
Negotiating with the DUP -- The Conservatives' Second Bad Move
Wishful Thinking About the Return of the Two-Party System
and the Stability It Allegedly Provides

Who Rules?
The Irish Question

47th General Assembly of Organization of American States
Latin American and Caribbean Countries Prepare to
Counter Interventionist Manoeuvres

In the Parliament

Trudeau Government's Anti-Social,
Anti-National Agenda

The Trudeau government has passed 30 pieces of legislation since it took over in November 2015. The direction it has set is anti-social and anti-national, with added emphasis on covering up this fact, along with efforts to deprive the people of any ability to hold the government to account.

Besides the warmongering direction of the government's military and foreign policy, which it decrees as a prerogative power, the most prominent laws it has passed include changes to the Canada Pension Plan which do not address Canadians' concern with providing security in retirement; a pay-the-rich 2016 budget implementation bill; legislation implementing the nation-wrecking Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union and a free trade agreement with Ukraine; amendments to the Citizenship Act that do nothing to uphold citizenship rights on a modern basis; amendments to the Canada Labour Code that do not protect workers under attack at this time or empower the unions to defend workers' rights, but reverse likely-unconstitutional Harper-era restrictions on workers' ability to form unions; and a bill removing requirements for Air Canada to conduct maintenance work in Canada as opposed to abroad.

Now the government is intent on railroading certain pieces of legislation through Parliament before it adjourns for the summer. It has extended "sitting hours" in the Parliament until midnight for the remaining days of this session of the House of Commons which ends on Friday, June 23. Following adjournment, the House of Commons does not reconvene until mid-September. However, media are quoting a litany of gossip from alleged "Liberal insiders" that Trudeau will change his Cabinet and prorogue (suspend) Parliament after the summer in order to "reset" and "unveil a new agenda and inject a sense of purpose in the run-up to the [October 2019 federal] election."

Talk about the need for a "reset" reveals the contempt of the Trudeau cabal and the entire ruling elite, including the media, for accepted standards of honesty or morality as well as their contempt for the concerns of Canadians and the peoples of the world.

The neo-liberal Real Change program the Liberals presented in the 2015 federal election made promises that were presented as progressive and favouring Canadians but the anti-social and anti-national reality is such that the biggest problem for the government is getting Canadians to swallow the narcissistic image it has of itself. All of it is done to distract attention from the dangerous direction the Trudeau Liberals are taking Canada. The other parties in Canada's cartel party system are participating in this by promoting their own self-serving positions. This clearly leaves the working class and people as the ones who must provide the society with a nation-building aim.

The Liberals' so-called electoral program said they would implement reforms to change the first-past-the-post electoral system to "make every vote count." Their failure to sell Canadians on their self-serving brand of reform has now been converted into inducing political parties to cooperate with "intelligence agencies" to combat "foreign interference" and "cyber threats to Canada's democratic process." The extent of the Liberals' electoral reform farce can be seen in the increasing involvement in the electoral process of both the intelligence agencies and foreign consultants who run campaigns for hire -- all in the name of "defending democracy."

Another Justin Trudeau "election promise" was that his government would end Canada's combat mission in Iraq and Syria. This has turned into an expanded mission in the Middle East and in Ukraine, a new permanent military deployment in Latvia, and the stepped-up expansion of NATO, war preparations and military spending.

Promises to restore nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous peoples have given way to the federal Cabinet proclaiming that it will "decolonize" the Indian Act and other laws while no substantive redress has taken place for the crimes against the Indigenous peoples in the past or today.

Promises to make needed investments in infrastructure have turned into the establishment of an "Infrastructure Bank" whose main mission is to privatize infrastructure and secure private returns for big projects.

On these matters, as well as the approach taken to disarticulate Canadians' opposition to Bill C-51, secret police powers and stepped up militarism through "consultations" run by U.S. consulting firms for hire, everything is done to deprive Canadians of an outlook that permits them to build the movements that can hold governments to account. Talk of a "reset" and the Liberals' need to come to terms with their image problems contributes to the same. All the while, the Liberals continue to implement their anti-social, anti-national agenda through the Parliament as well as the executive power.

TML Weekly is providing information below about priority bills the government is pushing to pass before Parliament adjourns.

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Bill C-44, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1

Bill C-44 is a 300-page omnibus budget implementation bill amending dozens of Acts and enacting others, all ostensibly to implement the 2017-2018 federal budget. It amends more than 30 pieces of legislation and enacts at least four new laws. Because all the measures in the bill allegedly relate to the implementation of the budget, it was only studied by the House of Commons through its Standing Committee on Finance. The bill is currently before the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance. A main aspect of the bill is to establish an "Infrastructure Bank" whose mission is to promote public-private partnerships in infrastructure and secure big payouts for investors.

Among other things, Bill C-44 implements various changes to tax credits (including abolishing the public transit tax credit) and to tax rates on alcohol and tobacco products; various other changes are made to the Special Import Measures Act, the Financial Administration Act, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act, the Bank Act, the Shared Services Canada Act and the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act under the auspices of implementing measures in the 2017-2018 federal budget.

The nation-wrecking measures contained in the omnibus budget bill can be seen in such amendments as the one proposed to the Investment Canada Act to increase to $1 billion the minimum threshold for a foreign investment that requires a government review.

Because of the bill's sheer volume, many measures have gone unexplained to either the public or Parliamentarians. For instance, Bill C-44 amends the Canada Labour Code to "transfer to the Canada Industrial Relations Board the powers, duties and functions of appeals officers" in matters related to health and safety and of referees and adjudicators in matters related to standard hours, wages, vacations and holidays. The Wage Earner Protection Program Act is likewise amended to "transfer to the Canada Industrial Relations Board the powers, duties and functions of adjudicators under that Act."

The Canada Industrial Relations Board has jurisdiction over roughly one million workers in federally-regulated sectors. This aspect of Bill C-44, portrayed as favouring workers, ostensibly relates to a budget promise to "modernize the Canada Labour Code" to "Strengthen and modernize compliance and enforcement provisions"; "Give federally regulated employees the right to request more flexible work arrangements"; and "Limit unpaid internships in federally regulated sectors." However, Bill C-44 makes no specific mention of any of these things. It simply transfers authorities and gives certain ministerial powers, calling into question what the government is really up to with these changes.

Other measures that seem to be related to announcements in the federal budget include increasing the maximum length of parental leave in the Canada Labour Code and making various changes to the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act concerning veterans' benefits. Various amendments are also made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act related to Ministerial powers; to the Food and Drugs Act to "give the Minister of Health the authority to fix user fees for services, use of facilities, regulatory processes and approvals, products, rights and privileges that are related to drugs, medical devices, food and cosmetics."

Bill C-44 also enacts the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act, which establishes a Crown corporation by that name for purposes of investing and securing private investment in private "revenue-generating infrastructure projects," including wastewater systems, public transit, roads and electrical utilities. The Infrastructure Bank is based on a proposal from Minister of Finance Bill Morneau's Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which empowered executives of the big investment and consulting firms to decide the direction of Canada's economic policy in their own interests. Their recommendations were enacted by Minister Morneau, himself the founder of Morneau Shepell, one of the largest firms in Canada for  private management of employee benefits such as health care and pensions, which also promotes investment in privatized infrastructure. According to Michael Sabia, President and CEO of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, investors will expect a rate of profit of seven to nine per cent from the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which will greatly increase public costs compared to those that would result from public borrowing and financing rates of interest.

The main focus of the Infrastructure Bank will be to push "public-private partnerships" (P3s), making these pay-the-rich schemes widespread in Canada's major cities. According to the Liberals, two-thirds of the "investment" in new P3s or existing infrastructure that has been privatized is to come from private firms or pools of pension and insurance money. Private investors will be given a guaranteed rate of return and the long-term costs will be borne by the state treasury and Canadians via the user fees for private infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Information about investors and those pushing for specific projects are to be kept secret under the Act, and exempt from access to information requests on the basis of "commercial confidentiality" along with other specific exemptions that have been made for the bank.

Finally, Bill C-44 also amends the Parliament of Canada Act to change the terms of the Parliamentary Budget Officer "to report directly to Parliament and to be supported by an office that is separate from the Library of Parliament and to provide for the appointment and tenure of the Parliamentary Budget Officer to be that of an officer of Parliament." Current Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Frechette reports that the changes in the bill would in fact limit the Budget Officer's ability to initiate reports, restrict the ability of individual parliamentarians to seek cost estimates on government projects and require the Budget Officer to submit annual work plans for approval by the Speakers of the House of Commons and Senate.

(With files from Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, CUPE, Postmedia)

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Bill C-22, An Act to Establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians

Bill C-22, which is currently before the Senate, would establish a "National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians," made up of nine Members of Parliament and Senators, with four members of the committee being Liberal MPs, two Senators and the rest MPs from other parties. Ottawa South Liberal MP David McGuinty, (brother of former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty) was appointed Chair of the Committee in January 2016 despite the Committee not yet having been approved.

The creation of the Committee is presented as a measure to improve the accountability of Canada's police and spy agencies whose powers have been greatly expanded, but in fact it will enshrine arbitrariness and secrecy in governance and make "legal" the operations that currently take place outside the rule of law. Before assuming their positions, Committee members must be vetted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and other police and spy agencies, the very agencies whose conduct they are supposed to be reviewing.

The mandate of the Committee is not to oversee the activities of the agencies but to review:

- "the legislative, regulatory, policy, administrative and financial framework for national security and intelligence;"

- "any activity carried out by a department that relates to national security or intelligence, unless the activity is an ongoing operation and the appropriate Minister determines that the review would be injurious to national security; and"

- "any matter relating to national security or intelligence that a minister of the Crown refers to the Committee."

Members must also swear an oath of secrecy to be "faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and freedoms I respect" and "not communicate or use without due authority any information obtained in confidence by me in [this] capacity." The contradiction for Parliamentarians to vow to be loyal to Canada and its people and "democratic beliefs" and at the same time subordinate themselves to the powers of Canada's secret police and promise to not reveal their nefarious actions is self-evident.

Far from providing accountability, the Minister of Public Safety can declare anything harmful to national security and make it a crime for a Member of Parliament to disclose such information. According to Bill C-22, the Minister of Public Safety may declare anything off-limits and confidential, and "Members would not be able to claim parliamentary immunity if they disclosed what is deemed classified information" and may be prosecuted should they do so. The Minister of Public Safety will have the authority to stop a review of the Committee if he declares it "injurious" to national security, as well as to withhold "special operational information."

The reason for classifying the information as secret can also be classified as secret.

On June 5, speaking to the Senate National Security Committee that is studying the bill, Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said the creation of the Committee is "a major piece of the government approach to national security, but it is by no means the only piece." Goodale stated that the government is "currently preparing additional proposals" following the release of a report on its consultations on "Canada's national security framework" which are part of the government's plans to "constitutionalize" the secret police powers contained in the Harper government's Bill C-51, Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. In that vein, the House of Commons Order Paper for Monday, June 19 indicates that Goodale will introduce a new bill entitled An Act respecting national security matters.

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Bill C-23, Preclearance Act, 2016

Bill C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States would greatly expand the powers and presence of U.S. border agents in Canada, from select airports in Canada to land and water crossings. As well, it would  permit preclearance of cargo by U.S. agents in Canadian facilities, permit U.S. agents to carry weapons and detain, search and use force against Canadians within preclearance facilities in Canada.

While the bill was introduced in June 2016, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security's review of the bill was only completed on June 14, 2017. The bill implements measures agreed to and announced by the Harper and Obama administrations in 2015 and reiterated by Trudeau and Trump.

The bill has yet to be passed by either the House of Commons or Senate, and Parliament adjourns June 23 for the summer.

According to media reports, Canada's ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton told the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on June 14 that he is "embarrassed" that Canada has not yet implemented the law. MacNaughton added that he is under constant pressure from U.S. officials about when the law will be passed.

Canada's Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, in a May 24 letter to the House of Commons Committee that studied the bill, noted that the U.S. administration has announced its intention to introduce "extreme vetting" of "any and all aliens who seek to enter the United States." Therrien said, "It would appear that this policy would equally apply at preclearance locations in Canada."

Therrien concluded, "In many situations, however, it would appear that Canadians who wish to enter the U.S. will, at preclearance locations in Canada as well as at border points in the U.S., have to face the difficult choice of either accepting a search without grounds or foregoing their wish to travel to the U.S."

According to a June 15 report from the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), one Liberal MP on the House of Commons Committee said concerns about violations of the rights of Canadians at the border cannot be addressed because the agreements have already been signed between Canada and the U.S. The MP claimed that "Our hands are tied," ICLMG said. Proposed amendments to Bill C-23 were also rejected on the grounds that the bill must adhere to the provisions of the 2015 U.S.-Canada Agreement On Land, Rail, Marine, And Air Transport Preclearance.

For more information about Bill C-23, see "Oppose All Pretexts for Expanding U.S. Authority Over Canada and Canadians!" TML Weekly, April 15, 2017.

(With files from National Post)

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Government Provides Hundreds of Millions to Softwood Lumber Barons

Oppose State Subsidies to Pay the Rich!

Not a month goes by without a major announcement of state funding to pay the rich. Last month it was the inauguration of an infrastructure bank; the month before, millions were given to Bombardier, and now, companies in the softwood lumber sector are to receive $867 million of federal funding.

These schemes to pay the rich are camouflaged in rhetoric about protecting and creating jobs. They solve no basic problem in the economy; rather, they perpetuate all the objective and subjective factors that cause recurring economic crises and hardship for the working class and others in its communities.

Forestry workers produce $22 billion in value annually of which the lion's share is under the ownership and control of the financial oligarchy. Except for the new value workers produce as their wages and benefits, most of the rest is taken out of the local economies where it is produced. In the softwood lumber sector during the last decade, the same giant forestry companies the federal government is lavishing with almost a billion dollars, have ripped out over $5 billion from value produced in the Canadian forestry communities and used it to buy existing mills in the United States.

In the cynical words of CBC News, "Companies like Canfor and West Fraser are now somewhat insulated from [U.S] softwood lumber duties, since they now own more sawmills and plants in the U.S. than they do in Canada." They are poised to profit from the U.S.-imposed duties and tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber because of higher market prices for lumber they sell both in the U.S. and Canada. Their mills in the U.S. will even receive a pro-rated share of the annual estimated $1.7 billion in lumber duties and tariffs collected at the border once the U.S. government distributes them.

The state provides funds collected collectively from the entire economy to specific private companies that are incapable of solving their problems. Such a situation is corrupt and a failed system sustaining a privileged class of owners of social wealth in contradiction with the rest of the people and needs of the economy and society.

The pay-the-rich system propping up the private ownership and control of the financial oligarchy is in contradiction with the socialized and interrelated character of modern industrial mass production and the human factor central to the economy, the working class. State intervention on the side of the very rich exposes the necessity for a new direction for the economy. The value workers produce must come under the control of the actual producers to strengthen in a planned and stepwise scientific manner their sectors, the local economies, and the broad interrelated Canadian economy on which everything and everyone depends, and to provide value for the general interests of their communities and society.

Why are Canadian state funds being used in this outrageous way to pay the rich? What problem does it solve? What path does it open for Canada's forestry workers and their communities? The government is stuck and has no solutions other than to pay the rich and attack the working people. The situation is biased towards the rich. The financial oligarchy refuses to step down from its perch of absurd wealth, power, privilege, control and empire-building. The working people have to seize the initiative and assume control over their work and lives and move the economy in a new direction of nation-building that solves the problems emerging from industrial mass production. The economy needs a modern aim to serve the people through cooperation and their empowerment and control over those economic, political and social affairs that affect their lives.

The financial oligarchy knows only how to serve its private interests in competition with other owners of social wealth and by exploiting the actual producers, the working class. The financial oligarchy cannot solve the problems of industrial mass production because it divides up the modern economy into warring groups that fight amongst themselves in empire-building and exploits those who do the work, the working class.

Broad cooperation is necessary to solve the modern economy's problems. The social wealth the working class produces should not be taken out of the economy and channeled towards a privileged elite. The value workers produce is necessary for reinvestment back into the economy and society. To have private accumulation of social wealth as the aim of an economy that is completely socialized must cease if any problems are to be solved. A new aim to serve the actual producers, their economy, and the well-being of the people and society must come into being in harmony with the socialized conditions of industrial mass production and distribution.

To use the social wealth workers produce within a socialized economy to pay a privileged class of rich is corrupt and an abomination. Those who own and control the basic productive forces and the state are not interested in change. They use their social wealth, class privilege and the state to block change and deprive the working class of its right to build the new. To change the situation, the working class must organize its own political headquarters and independent institutions to become powerful enough to deprive the financial oligarchy and its state of the power to perpetuate these pay-the-rich scandals and to deprive the working people of their right to solve the economic, political and social problems of the modern economy.

Unite to Build the New!

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Subsidies for Forestry Companies

The U.S. lumber barons have unleashed a trade dispute covering about $7 billion in annual softwood lumber exports from Canada. Their goal is higher lumber prices, greater control of the lumber market and to consolidate production in fewer hands. The U.S. government agreed to accommodate them and has imposed a range of duties on particular Canadian companies, averaging 20 per cent for exported lumber with an additional 10 per cent tariff coming on June 23. In response, the Trudeau government is making available $867 million in state funds to support forestry companies operating in Canada.

The financial oligarchy of Fortress North America directly and through the major stock exchanges owns and controls the large Canadian forestry companies. With few exceptions, the large companies with operations in Canada also own mills in the U.S. and will benefit from the higher prices and weakening of their smaller competitors arising from the U.S. tariffs. The giants in BC -- Canfor Corporation and West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. -- now own more sawmills and plants in the U.S. than they do in Canada. Weyerhaeuser, the largest forestry consortium in the U.S. by far, directly owns and controls a Canadian subsidiary.

The bulk of the promised federal money is for loan guarantees and direct assistance for forestry industry firms for innovation and to market their products beyond the U.S. "Innovation" is mostly used as a buzzword for the introduction of machinery in production and distribution to displace active workers. About $90 million of the promised state money will go towards work sharing and job training of forestry workers under the Employment Insurance program. Several thousand forestry workers are projected to lose their jobs in the coming two years through the closure of smaller mills and increased use of machinery and advanced technique at the larger mills.

Ministry of Natural Resources Press Release

Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne jointly announced the subsidies at a press conference on June 1. The federal money is in addition to subsidies from various provincial governments, including $7.7 million from BC. 

A press release from the federal Ministry of Natural Resources says, "Export Development Canada (EDC) will make commercial financing and risk management solutions -- including loans and loan guarantees -- valued at up to $500 million available to assist viable forestry companies. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will make $105 million in commercial financing available to help eligible forestry companies in the short and medium term."

[Note the terms "viable" and "eligible," which may eliminate loans for many smaller mills in BC that have already been greatly weakened by the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. -- TML Note]

"Funding for further loan guarantees may be considered by the Government in the future to address changing market conditions.... Additional measures announced today include more than $260 million in new funding to: support efforts to expand overseas markets and promote the diversification of Canadian wood products beyond those targeted by U.S. duties on softwood lumber; help Indigenous communities and organizations improve the performance of their forest sector initiatives; provide a temporary extension of the maximum period for Work-Sharing agreements from 38 to 76 weeks in order to reduce layoffs; and expand supports to help affected workers upgrade their skills and transition to new opportunities.... These actions defend the interests of Canadians against the U.S. Department of Commerce's imposition of countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber and build upon recent efforts made to ensure the continued growth and vibrancy of this sector. The Government of Canada continues to forcefully press our American counterparts to rescind this unfair and unwarranted trade action."

"Quick Facts

" In 2016, the forest industry accounted for $22 billion of Canada's GDP. In 2015, Canada's forest industry directly employed more than 200,000 Canadians, including 9,500 jobs in Indigenous communities. More than 170 rural municipalities have a significant portion of their income generated by the forest sector, and there are over 600 mills producing softwood lumber in Canada.

"Canadian softwood trade

"Canada exports softwood lumber to more than 140 countries. Since 2002, Canadian exports to China have increased by more than 25 times to $1.6 billion and exports to South Korea, Southeast Asia and the U.K. have increased more that 200 per cent to over $700 million.

"Canadian softwood trade with the U.S.

"90 per cent of U.S. homes are built with softwood. The U.S., however, met only 70 per cent of its softwood lumber needs -- Canada supplied virtually all of the rest. U.S. is the number 1 destination for Canadian forest products exports (USD $18B in 2016). The U.S. National Association of Home Builders calculates that every additional $1,000 (USD) in home-costs puts home ownership out of the reach of more than 150,000 American families. Since 2005, Canadian companies have invested over USD $5 billion in the U.S. forestry sector."

[The big forestry companies did not invest this $5 billion of value in the Canadian forestry communities where it was produced to strengthen and diversify the local economies beyond forestry social product. This problem of control over produced value and where it is invested must be addressed in a Canadian nation-building project that takes the economy in a new pro-social direction. -- TML Note]

"U.S. residential construction employs 3.8 million Americans, and duties could result in the loss of as many as 8,000 American jobs and millions in lost wages. Canada is the number 1 customer for forest products exports from 27 U.S. States (USD $7.2B in 2016)."

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Trade Dispute with Lumber Barons in the U.S.

Former Canadian lumber council executive and trade diplomat Carl Grenier told CBC News, "A long dispute means the U.S. collects more duties on Canadian products." Referring to the fourth time the U.S. Commerce imposed such duties, Grenier said, "In 2006, $500 million of the final settlement ended up in the pockets of U.S. lumber producers. The appetite for this ransom money is still there with the [U.S. lumber] coalition. Basically the U.S. has learned to game the system. U.S. authorities don't care a whit about the way the forests are managed. They only care about the possibility of kicking Canadian exporters of softwood lumber out of the market when prices are low.'"

The announcement of the threat of softwood lumber duties last December and the actual imposition in May coupled with strong demand has had a dramatic effect raising lumber market prices. Many say the reason for the trade dispute, aside from eliminating competitors and making a fast buck from the duties, is to raise lumber prices and making a quick score. The U.S. softwood lumber producing sector, which now includes many Canadian-based companies, can only supply about 70 per cent of the lumber market when the market is strong. The imports from Canada keep the market prices from skyrocketing when demand is high. The duties and tariffs act to counter the downward pressure on prices coming from Canadian supply.

Business in Vancouver reports this has precisely been the case, "Currently, lumber prices in the U.S. are so high that many Canadian lumber producers are expected to be able to pay the duties without having to curtail production. But some smaller sawmills, especially in the Interior of BC, may eventually be forced to shut down, or at least curtail production periodically. At the beginning of the year, Canadian lumber producers were selling at just a little more than U.S.$300 per thousand board feet. With the duties their prices are around U.S.$370 (per thousand board feet)."

The Globe and Mail quotes Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council, "Right now, markets continue to be pretty strong and lumber prices are mitigating the impact [of the duties] -- it's largely being passed through to U.S. consumers."

However, Yurkovich estimates with the impact of the duties and additional tariff of 10 per cent coming on June 23, "Canada's wood products manufacturers will see pre-tax profits shrink from $1.8-billion in 2016 to $1.4-billion this year and $1.1-billion in 2018, as the United States issues duties averaging 30 per cent on Canada's softwood lumber. Duties could reach $1.7-billion a year."

Those duties, unless a settlement is reached to repay Canadian exporters, are distributed amongst U.S. softwood lumber producers, including the large Canadian-based companies that now own mills in the United States.

CBC News writes, "Companies like Canfor and West Fraser are now somewhat insulated from softwood lumber duties, since they now own more sawmills and plants in the U.S. than they do in Canada, although their Canadian mills could be forced to curtail production at some point."

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Results of British General Election

The Election and Its Aftermath

In this issue, TML Weekly is providing articles on the results of the June 8 British General Election from the June 14 issue of Workers' Weekly, a publication of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

Since the articles were published, it has been confirmed that the British Throne Speech, known as the Queen's Speech, which was scheduled for June 19 has been postponed to June 21. As well, despite rumours that the speech would be postponed so that a "confidence and supply" arrangement could be worked out with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who elected 10 MPs from constituencies in the north of Ireland, no agreement has yet been reached.

What is certain is that the whole "Irish question" is once more centre-stage. Indeed, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May met with five parties from the north of Ireland on this question in the week following the June 8 election, as an agreement must be reached between the northern Irish parties by June 29 or direct rule from Westminster will once again be imposed. The northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since the power-sharing agreement between Republicans and Unionists broke down in March.

During these meetings, Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, notified Theresa May that the negotiations with the DUP to have them prop up the Conservative government violate the Good Friday Agreement. Following his meeting with May on June 15 Adams said, "We told Prime Minister May she and her government are in default of the Good Friday Agreement and that they have turned a blind eye to the disruptive actions of the DUP over a long time." Adams concluded, "We told the British Prime Minister that in our view she is playing fast and loose with the Good Friday Agreement in a desperate attempt to cling to power. We challenged the British Government to fully implement the outstanding aspects of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements. The Good Friday and subsequent agreements changed the relationship between our two islands. It is a beacon of success for conflict resolution throughout the globe." For her part, Theresa May said that "if no resolution is reached then we will need to consider what steps we need to take, to ensure Northern Ireland has the political stability it needs."

TML Weekly also expresses its heartfelt condolences to the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and condemns the social irresponsibility of the ruling elite that led to this crime. In the early hours of June 14, a 24-storey tower block went up in a horrific inferno killing an unknown number of residents, likely more than one hundred, with the official death toll at 79 and rising. Many are saying the tragedy can be attributed to criminal negligence by the Westminster government and the local Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council and in the aftermath there have been mass protests by local residents and even more demands from all quarters for Theresa May to go. Her lack of humanity and the government's pursuit of an aggressive austerity agenda have fuelled these demands. Even the Queen of England herself put Theresa May in the shade by visiting survivors of the tragedy, which May refused to do.

A further complicating factor and indication of the deep political crisis of the system of representative democracy is the fact that negotiations on Brexit are due to start Monday, June 19, with the negotiators from the EU showing little patience with the situation Britain finds itself in.

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Crisis of Political System Deepens
as People Say No! to May

The result of the June 8 General Election has been a catastrophe for Theresa May and the Conservative Party as well as the ruling circles which are now left to pick the chestnuts out of the fire during the Brexit negotiations.

The Conservatives won 318 seats, down from 331 (including the Speaker), and eight short of an overall majority, while the Labour Party won 262, up from 232. The desperation of the ruling class is such that they have counselled Theresa May to stay on as Prime Minister even though the strategy she campaigned on to get a mandate for "strong and stable government" lies in tatters. With difficulty May is attempting to come to an arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from the north of Ireland in order to form a government. This has in turn given rise to fears that the "Irish question" will once again cause havoc with the plans of the ruling class to pursue its anti-social, anti-national agenda in peace.

Some of the observations which have emerged from the results include that:

- The vote against the Conservatives was a vote against the neo-liberal austerity agenda.

- The youth participated in the election and they voted against the Conservatives because of the austerity agenda.

- The metropolitan areas, particularly London, chose Labour.

- The Liberal Democrats made no headway on the promise to hold a second referendum on Brexit. They were rejected because of their sell-out when they formed a coalition with the Conservatives.

- Both the Scottish Labour Party and Scottish Conservatives made headway in Scotland at the expense of the Scottish National Party (SNP) which wanted to reverse the Brexit decision from the Referendum. Labour succeeded in making the issue one of the SNP not combating austerity, while the Conservatives succeeded in making the issue that a second independence referendum would be a diversion. The advance that the Scottish Conservatives made there contributed to buoying the Tory vote but was not enough to win seats lost elsewhere.

- In the north of Ireland, Sinn Féin and the DUP made headway at the expense of the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Ulster Unionists respectively. This is also seen to represent support for an anti-austerity agenda.

- The referendum vote in favour of Brexit did not translate into support for May or take it away from Corbyn.

- Attempts to destroy the Labour Party on the eve of the election utterly failed. The gamble of those who organised the revolt of Labour MPs against Corbyn was as ill-advised as the gamble of those who advised May to call an early election.

- The consequences of the disastrous "gamble" that the Conservatives' weak majority in the Parliament could be turned into a strong majority by calling an early election have yet to fully reveal what they have in store for May's leadership and for the Conservative Party itself. What else lies in store for the ruling class, besides the utter mockery and derision expressed for May from all quarters, is yet to be seen.

- The Conservatives also ran a terrible campaign organized by one of the private firms which the ruling class hires nowadays to run elections. These private firms have replaced political parties as primary organisations which link the voters to the system called a representative democracy. They think that depoliticising the polity by making the character of one's opponent the target of attack is the way to run successful elections, despite the people's hatred for attack ads. The refusal of the ruling party to discuss substantive issues make it impossible to give the impression that the people decide the agenda of an election and provide a mandate for the next government. In this election, thanks to the presence of Corbyn who eloquently presented the need for an anti-austerity agenda, the people were able to express their rejection of this idea. There was also the matter of the Conservative Manifesto which was, to the chagrin of the Conservatives themselves, "peppered with arsenic" as a member of the Conservative Party put it. All of it revealed how detached the Conservative Party is from the concerns of the working people in Britain who found in Corbyn a champion for their demand to turn things around in favour of the working people, not the rich.

The Conservative election call has been a debacle for the ruling circles, including for the police powers used in connection with the Manchester and London Bridge attacks. Police powers are the lynchpin of May's "strong and stable" approach but what came to the fore was its hypocrisy and irrationality. Meanwhile Corbyn used the situation to emerge as the champion of the police against cuts. Added to this, the revelations on how the security services actually trained these terrorist forces to intervene in Libya and Syria has shown how the state is behind these attacks in the first place.

Taken together, the election results show that the arrangements imposed on society in the mid-19th century keep rulers who represent the capitalist class in power -- who are not fit to govern -- and the people out of power. These arrangements are in profound crisis because they are no longer seen to provide a mandate which expresses the will of the people. The crisis in which the political system called a representative democracy is mired is such that it cannot sort anything out. It hasn't given May a mandate for Brexit with "strong and stable" leadership, and has shown her leadership to be the opposite of "strong and stable" with a rejection of her appeal for a mandate. Meanwhile, another election is in the offing whose outcome is far from predictable.

A lot is being put down to the impact of personalities on the outcome, but such discussion is a distraction from the substantive issues. It only serves to disinform and depoliticize the polity. Instead of building institutions and arrangements which are under their control and engaging in democratic renewal, the working people are to believe in the courage and convictions of people like Jeremy Corbyn even though it is the system which disempowers them and requires renewal. The ineptitude of Theresa May only compounds the crisis in which the system of representative democracy is mired but is not its cause. Similarly, promises to reverse the anti-social offensive require an organization which empowers the people. The electoral and governance system which claim to represent "the people" and the "national interest," when it fact they represent the private interests of oligopolies which operate on an international scale, have to be replaced. The private interests are engaged in cut-throat competition to control the assets of various states so as strengthen their global striving for domination. It is crucial to take this into account when working out a way forward which favours the working people.

(June 14, 2017)

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Negotiating with the DUP --
The Conservatives' Second Bad Move

The Conservative Party is negotiating with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which is a reactionary formation from the north of Ireland. This is an all-round bad move on the part of the Conservatives. The first bad move was to call the general election three years early with the expectation that they would receive 50 more seats. Instead they lost 13. Now, their second bad move is to negotiate with the DUP.

The DUP has ten seats the Conservatives covet. It is trying to wring concessions from the Conservatives about the arrangements to be implemented in the north of Ireland. However, these arrangements are already set in the Good Friday Agreement. Any deal with the DUP in effect puts them in the government. Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams already pointed out that this merely exposes the pretence that the British government is the "honest broker" between the "two traditions" in Ireland. It further underscores the fact that the British government is neither neutral nor impartial. Of great significance is that if there is no agreement between the DUP and Sinn Féin by June 29, the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly moves to direct rule from Britain. This is bad enough, let alone if the DUP is an integral part of the Conservative government.

Reports indicate that as of June 13, DUP leader Arlene Foster has not returned to Belfast as expected, and it seems evident there is going to be some kind of a "confidence and supply arrangement" announced soon. Foster indicated that the deal would include issues related to Brexit, "counter-terrorism" and "doing what's right" for the economy of the north of Ireland. It is known that the DUP is very keen not to have a "hard border" with the south, and wants more public spending in the north which only serves to bring to the public eye that the British government is neither impartial nor neutral, as Gerry Adams has said time and again. To be "neutral" and "impartial" is what the Good Friday Agreement demands of the British government. To destabilize Ireland after destabilizing the entire British Isles would be nothing short of jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

The fact is that Theresa May is really only three seats short of a majority in the British Parliament because Sinn Féin elected seven MPs who will not take their seats. Under the corrupt cartel party system another option would be to buy off three MPs from other parties with inducements negotiated in secret while presenting it all as being for the greater good of providing stability going into the Brexit talks. However, should the Conservatives do that, it would be their third bad move!

(Workers' Weekly, June 14, 2017)

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Wishful Thinking About the Return of the Two-Party System and the Stability It Allegedly Provides

The view that the general election in Britain marks a return to two-party politics is wishful thinking on the part of the ruling circles. The two-party system was introduced in the 19th century with one party representing landed interests and one party commercial interests. Together they represented the dictatorship of the propertied interests against the working class.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, including the universal suffrage and the creation of the Labour Party in 1906 as a consequence of the workers' striving for empowerment. Today, the Liberals have been largely displaced and the contest is seen to be between the Conservatives and Labour but a two-party system is about more than two parties periodically changing places.

For a century, the parties in the service of the ruling class managed to establish a social base amongst the people. Local party associations, as well as trade unions and other organisations such as cultural, social and economic agencies acted as the transmission belts of these parties to garner votes and the parties were the link between the rulers and the ruled, the governors and the governed. Even the thousands of charities presided over by the Royals act as transmission belts and links to the governing parties. With the rise of Thatcherism in the 1980s the former aim for society was overthrown. Thatcher did not even recognise that society exists and demanded that everyone fend for themselves. As neo-liberal free trade and nation-wrecking took over, all the old ways of doing things became defunct. Attempts to resuscitate them by permitting small parties to play a role and by hoping that the formation of coalition governments would "work" have not been able to overcome the fact that the party system depoliticises and disinforms the polity but the people's striving for empowerment prevails.

Today, the electoral democracy has no credibility. Political parties pay private interests to run their campaigns which disinform the electors. They deprive them of an outlook of their own and keep them tied to what others decide on their behalf. Elections are no longer means which turn "the popular will" into "the legal will" in the form of party government.

Also, in the past, elections were used to sort out the contradictions within the ruling class based on a system of reasonable accommodations. They re-established peaceful coexistence in the form of party government and thus provided stable government. If a majority could not be reached, minority governments were a short-lived affair used to restore a balance between the contending interests and a majority government would follow.

Today, the conditions are no longer there for "reasonable accommodations" and stability. Anarchy prevails in the economic base and pervades all political, social, cultural, national and international affairs. No oligopolic private interest will accept an authority above its own. Negotiations, which include elections as a form of negotiations, are no longer the method used to sort out differences within the ranks of these private interests and all the arrangements from the past have been or are being discarded.

Anarchy is accompanied by violence and the increasing use of government of police powers, not government of laws. Just as in economics so too in politics -- power is concentrated in oligopolies which have directly taken over the state institutions and social functions -- armed forces, intelligence agencies, functions of the civil service, health care, education and even charities. These private interests run everything for profit not "the common good" and this includes elections.

Whereas it is true the Labour Party is prepared to form a minority government, not by a "progressive alliance" but by asking for others to support its popular manifesto, the ruling class will not permit a change in the direction to the economy out of goodwill. The people will have to organise themselves to deprive the ruling circles of their power to deprive the people of what belongs to them by right. Jeremy Corbyn has said that the Labour Party will move an alternative Queen's Speech on June 19 when the House of Commons reconvenes. It shows that the people's demand for an anti-austerity agenda and the demand of the ruling circles for private interests to prevail are face-to-face in Britain as never before since the austerity agenda was unleashed during the Thatcher years and New Labour became its champion under Tony Blair. This experience must be summed up by the working people so that their striving for empowerment remains in their hands.

Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!
Now Is the Time for the People to Step Up the Work to Renew the Political Process
and Demand the Recognition of Their Rights!

(Workers' Weekly, June 14, 2017)

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Who Rules?

Following the debacle suffered by the Conservative Party in the recent General Election, comparisons are being made with 1974 when Edward Heath won a slender majority in February but failed to form a government. Heath asked the famous question, "Who rules?" and the resounding answer was, not him. At that time the miners were a formidable organised force and the striving of the miners for the recognition of their rights forced another election to be held in October of that year. Harold Wilson representing the Labour Party won the election and formed a majority government. Using this example, it is predicted that the country will hold another election within a year and that, presumably, Labour could make further headway and form a majority government.

The problem of course is that the conditions in 2017 are not at all similar to those in 1974, at a time Keynesian economics went into crisis and the social welfare state was just beginning to unravel. Today nothing is predictable because the forces at play and the private interests are no longer what they were in the past. The very serious challenge which has presented itself to the working class is to become an organised political force in its own right. New basic organisations are required which work out the independent politics of the class and unite it to bring them about. The working people cannot afford to simply hand over their power to representatives which they do not even select and over which they exercise no control. Look what happened with the Labour MPs that revolted against Corbyn. Where did they get their mandate? How are they being disciplined? Who decides?

Today the working people know perfectly well Who Rules. The financial oligarchy rules. The real question is "Who decides who rules?" and the challenge facing the working people is to deprive the financial oligarchy of the power to deprive them of what belongs to them by right, including their right to govern themselves and exercise control over the decisions which affect their lives. For this to happen, the workers need to replace political parties which divide them along sectarian lines with basic political organisations which do not limit their role to filling in a ballot to hand over power to others but put the power to select candidates and control the agenda in their hands.

The workers need to organise to discuss the results of this election. They need to put their own rights in command of the discussion, as the reference point for their analyses and plans of action, not the analyses coming out of the ruling circles and their media. This is what the workers need to do to prepare for what lies ahead.

(Workers' Weekly, June 14, 2017)

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The Irish Question

The British government is negotiating with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) so that it can form a majority within the British Parliament and form the government. However, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has set the record straight that there is nothing to negotiate with the DUP. The approach of the British government to the talks in the north is self-serving and neither neutral nor impartial, Adams pointed out. He clearly explained that the political institutions must be established on the basis of previously agreed to terms contained in the Good Friday Agreement. Nothing less will be accepted.

Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin candidates speak to press following election.

Sinn Féin won seven seats in the election but refuses to be seated because it does not recognize British rule over the north of Ireland and refuses to swear allegiance to the Queen.

Speaking the day after the election on the outcome of the Westminster election campaign, Gerry Adams said:

"I want to commend Michelle O'Neill and our northern team, including all of our candidates and their families for their outstanding performance in the election. We increased our vote in every constituency.

"This was a truly national effort by Sinn Féin and I want to thank all of our activists who travelled from all parts of the island to help secure this historic result for the party.

"Sinn Féin respects the mandate we have received and our electorate who voted in such huge numbers.

"Nationalists and Republicans have turned their back on Westminster and accept that that centre of political gravity is now on the island of Ireland.

"The Taoiseach and DUP need to focus on restoring the political institutions.

"Theresa May sought a mandate for Brexit, austerity and the erosion of human rights. She got her comeuppance.

"The Irish government needs to seize the initiative to secure designated special status for the North as part of the Brexit negotiations."

In subsequent remarks Adams said:

"This was a highly successful election for Sinn Féin.

"We are here today to seek agreement to re-establish the Executive and the institutions on the basis of equality, respect and rights for all.

"This could and should be done by implementing what has already been agreed.

"The British government is not neutral or impartial. Their approach to talks is entirely self-serving.

"Any deal with the DUP and the Tories will not be to the benefit of the people of the north, our economy, our public services or securing designated special status for the north within the EU.

"We need the progressive parties to work together.

"We need a strong counter balance to the Tory Party and the DUP.

Commenting on remarks by Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland following his conversation with Theresa May after the election, Adams called on the Irish Government and the incoming Taoiseach to "assert their role to protect the Good Friday and other agreements."

"The Taoiseach is right to express concerns about any deal between the DUP and the Tory party. Sinn Féin's view is that such a deal will not be in the best interests of the people of Ireland, and in particular the people of the north, regardless of their political allegiances.

"The flaw in the Taoiseach's position is his refusal to recognise that the British government has never been impartial or objective in its relationship with Ireland.

"Sinn Féin has never accepted that the British government is impartial or neutral.

"The arrangements to restore the political institutions need not be protracted. The issues are well known, they are rooted in agreements already made, and the onus is clearly on the DUP to drop its opposition to the implementation of the rights-related issues, which are at the core of the current difficulties.

"The period of continuous Tory rule since 2010 has been a constant source of instability for the political process.

"The pro-unionist and partisan nature of this British government has contributed directly to the current deep political crisis in the North.

"If the DUP don't prioritise the restoration of the institutions, and instead decide to become a prop for a dysfunctional minority government in London, then the parties should consider inviting an independent chairperson to oversee proceedings.

"Sinn Féin has already raised this at the beginning of the talks process some months ago."

Gerry Adams made it clear that Sinn Féin "will continue to press ahead for a speedy return to the institutions while monitoring closely the machinations in London."

"On a more positive note the focus by the mainstream British media on the DUP's policies and history is belated but a welcome education for people in Britain," Adams added.

(Workers' Weekly, June 14, 2017)

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47th General Assembly of Organization of American States

Latin American and Caribbean Countries Prepare to Counter Interventionist Manoeuvres

March in Mexico City, June 16, 2017, banner reads: No to US Imperialism in Latin America
and the Caribbean, Luis Almagro Persona Non Grata in Mexico, Enough of the cynicism
of Luis Videgaray.

The 47th Regular Session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly will be held June 19-21 in Cancun, Mexico under the theme "Strengthening Dialogue and Concertation for Prosperity." In addition to delegations from each of the 34 member states, 72 permanent observers and a host of others described as "representatives of civil society" have been invited to attend the meeting.[1]

Banner declares OAS meeting "closed."

Originally scheduled to take place in Mexico City, the venue was changed last month by the host government "for logistical reasons." A local newspaper, Yucatan Times, reported that the main reason for the last minute change in location had to do with security, based on the fact that on April 26 a group of farm workers forced their way into the Saint Lazarus Legislative Palace which houses the Mexican Chamber of Deputies and occupied it for at least three hours, during which time people were prevented from entering or leaving the building.

More than likely, the prospect of mass demonstrations in the capital city against the OAS and Mexico's servile role in support of the U.S. project for regime change in Venezuela was what really worried the already deeply unpopular government of Enrique Peña Nieto, prompting the move. Cancun, a tourism centre in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is less accessible than Mexico City and a venue where demonstrations can be more easily contained by police.

Mexico signaled its role at the OAS General Assembly shortly after the May 31 Meeting of Consultation of OAS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Washington, DC "to consider the situation in Venezuela" that did not deliver the results the U.S., Canada and Mexico wanted. At that meeting, all 14 members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and countries in Central and South America belonging to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) refused to go along with an interventionist draft declaration put forward by the U.S., Canada, Mexico and two other countries against the government of Venezuela. CARICOM put forward a very different proposal, supported unanimously by its members, that began by reiterating a commitment to the principles of non-interference and non-intervention. Ultimately the meeting was suspended without a vote being taken or consensus reached.[2] This week it was announced that the meeting would reconvene Monday, June 19 in Cancun.

"Enough of OAS interventionism in Latin America and the Caribbean," Mexico City, June 16, 2017

A statement from Mexico's foreign ministry said the country would continue pushing at the General Assembly to pass a resolution expressing "concern" over a list of spurious allegations against Venezuela, in line with Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray’s stated opinion that "Venezuela has ceased to be a functioning democracy."

"No to imperialist interventionism dressed up as democracy"

The Cancun meeting, like last year's General Assembly in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is bound to be a forum for the forces that uphold Venezuela's sovereignty and right to self-determination to battle it out with the minority led by the U.S. that give themselves the right to meddle in Venezuela's affairs. The U.S. will seek to divide and bully the others into supporting its dirty scheme against the Bolivarian project of the Venezuelan people first begun in 1999 under President Hugo Chávez. This is consistent with the way the U.S. has used the OAS since its founding in 1948 -- as an instrument to facilitate its domination of Latin America and the Caribbean through military invasions, occupations, military and electoral coups d'état and blackmail of all kinds.

In anticipation of the Cancun meeting, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has been revving up his personal campaign against Venezuela using the organization's website and social media accounts. Without any authorization from OAS members to whom he is supposed to be accountable, he has posted videos of himself issuing wild and baseless accusations against Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro, individual government Ministers and others in the country's leadership. Despite giving a green light to violent opposition forces sowing death and destruction in the streets, Almagro's efforts to smash the opposition to OAS interference in Venezuela's affairs as expressed by member states at the May 31 meeting is a an uphill battle.

Almagro was appointed to a five-year term in May 2015. He has been strongly criticized by OAS member states for using the office of Secretary General to promote foreign interference and regime change in Venezuela. Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley on May 31 called for Almagro to step down. "Trinidad and Tobago registered a strong objection to the behaviour of the OAS leadership. The public servants from the OAS took it upon themselves to engage the Government of Venezuela, the president in fact, in a very derogatory manner," Rowley said. "Because of the behaviour of the OAS leadership, the OAS has now removed itself from any meaningful participation. And, in fact, it has deteriorated into partisan attacks and it is threatening to have the same effect on CARICOM," Rowley warned.

Plenary Sessions of the General Assembly are scheduled for June 20 and 21. Last year's plenaries saw heated battles between those calling for foreign intervention in Venezuela and those opposed to it, whose position in the end prevailed. In a statement issued at the end of the 2016 meeting in Santo Domingo, OAS member states expressed their overwhelming support for dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition and rejected a move toward sanctions against the country.


1. Originally made up of 35 member states, Cuba was suspended in 1962 on an anti-communist basis. Although the suspension was lifted in 2009, Cuba has indicated it has no interest in returning to the OAS. Venezuela is currently included among the 34 member states but is in the process of withdrawing from the organization. Others who have been invited to the 47th General Assembly are listed here.

2. See "Imperialist Scheme at Organization of American States Unravels" TML Weekly, June 3, 2017

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