September 6, 2018

Hamilton Steel Summit Not Likely
to Sort Anything Out 


Under the initiative of Hamilton Councillor Sam Merulla, City Council is sponsoring a steel summit on September 7, 9:00 am at City Hall. Reflecting on recent events including the back and forth steel tariffs between the U.S. and Canada, Merulla said, "It is incumbent on us as a municipality to basically clear the air. We need to determine what exactly the problems are and what actually are the outcomes."

Well put, but how can this be achieved? Surely not by handing it over to the oligarchs and parasites who have been causing the problems in the steel sector in the first place throughout the twenty-first century.

City Council has handed over the steel summit to Gowling WLG, which in its own words, "is an international law firm with more than 1,400 legal professionals in 18 cities across Canada, the U.K., Continental Europe, the Middle East and Asia ... a trusted partner to U.S. businesses for more than 100 years ... helping them take advantage of new opportunities and achieve their ambitious goals."

A global law firm! Just what the doctor ordered, but certainly not for steelworkers and their communities. Why would steelworkers want to be further embroiled in a process that solves none of the industries' problems while earning huge amounts for the law firms involved? The two facilities, Stelco and Algoma Steel in Sault Ste Marie alone have been drained of hundreds of millions of dollars in steel value from lawyer fees involving the anti-social Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) bankruptcy process, not to speak of the judges, court costs, restructuring agents and countless other hangers-on. Steelworkers would be in a very different place if that value they produced had been invested back into the facilities and made available to meet the just claims of active and retired workers and salaried employees.

If looking at how the problems pose themselves is handed over to the gods of plague how can we expect them to admit to their self interest and come clean? On the contrary, they can be expected to completely distort the actual situation and its economic roots and drown everyone with their tearful sincerity to turn the sector around. Their hope is to ride the neo-liberal wave of national, social and natural destruction until it drags us all down into war and mutual ruin. We cannot expect them to show a gram of shame for their continuing role in the nation-wrecking and destruction of Stelco that have taken place before our very eyes.

More importantly, however, the problems will not be sorted out if we keep focusing on "them" and how bad they are, no matter how true it is. Describing the problems, or listening to those who caused them disinform us, is not going to solve any real problem which exists as a result of the contradiction between a socialized economy and its private control by the financial oligarchy.

Remember back to 2004 when Stelco first entered CCAA under the phony pretext of a "liquidity crisis?" What a fraud that was and what a debacle for Stelco workers and the community. Why does City Council not call those directly involved in the wrecking at Stelco over these fourteen years to render accounts and demand they hand back the hundreds of millions they took out of the company and steel sector? How about calling the legal, restructuring and investment firms, CCAA moneylenders and oligarchs to account; summon before the court of public opinion the Brookfields, Rodney Mott who scurried back to the U.S. with tens of millions of dollars of Stelco social wealth; call U.S. Steel to render account, which did everything it could to destroy Stelco as a major competitor, and all the university experts, pundits, and media who continually applaud the wreckers and thieves by claiming they want the health of Stelco while they remain consistently silent about any pro-social alternative which could solve the problems. Such things are said to be bad for the economy!

What about those who call themselves representatives of the people but belong to a cartel of parties and governments which serve the oligarchs and have proven themselves incapable of solving any problem whatsoever? They claim that to integrate the Canadian economy with that of the United States is good for business. Whose business? Not ours!

But City Council has no power itself when it comes to the economy and control of the global oligarchs. It has been reduced to watching helplessly as the new Stelco has seized 3,000 acres of land and happily declared to their ownership group that the magic wand of the CCAA has cleared the new Stelco of all obligations for environmental remediation of centuries-old polluted land and water, and eliminated defined benefit pensions and Other Post Employment Benefits for new hires.

The ruling elite in Canada seem to have dutifully bowed down to the new U.S. owners of rump Stelco who appear to be excited about taking millions out of Hamilton not just from steel profits but as real estate moguls as well.

Even the tariffs are mostly a fraud as they are used to manipulate market prices in favour of the global oligarchs in control. The steel tariffs have boosted steel market prices, which makes Arcelor-Mittal-Dofasco quite joyful as it owns more steel facilities in the U.S. than Canada. The same is true of the U.S. softwood lumber tariffs on Canadian lumber, which have sent lumber prices soaring throughout North America making the big lumber barons very pleased while the trade restrictions mostly affect and damage certain small and medium-sized competing Canadian lumber mills and the construction sector.

The crisis in the steel industry has essentially proved to be a crisis of democracy. The crisis of democracy is integral to the crisis in the steel sector and all other sectors. The political process serves the rich to become richer while the working people are striving to gain the power they need to defend their rights and deal with the issues that affect their lives both while working and in retirement. Nation-building is now their purview and it requires depriving the global oligarchs of their power to wreck the economy by paying the rich.

How to turn the situation around for the working people is the order of the day. Attempts to reduce the working people to the role of spectators to the wrecking of their lives, industries and nation are not an option. There is no way representatives of parasites and experts from a global legal firm can enlighten us on how to solve the problems facing the steel industry in Canada.

The future lies with the working people not the representatives of the rich which have brought the world to the brink of disaster. Only those who work in a manner which contributes to creating life, not sucking the life out of everything they touch, have a sense of social responsibility. It is the very first requirement if problems are to be solved. Canada needs an independent economy under the control of the working people. We need to forge a new direction for the Canadian steel sector towards self-reliance, independence, stability and security. We need to humanize the social and natural environment by uniting to renew the democratic process so that we no longer have to submit to the rule of a privileged strata that do nobody any good.

Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking No!
Unite to Build the New Through Our Own Efforts, Thinking and Organizations!


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