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April 8, 2014 - No. 39

Quebec Election Results

It Is Now Up to Quebec Workers, Youth, Students and Seniors to Show
What They Are Made Of

 

Quebec Election Results
Final Tally
It Is Now Up to Quebec Workers, Youth, Students and Seniors to Show What They Are Made Of - Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec
The Humiliating Defeat of the PQ

Health Care Is a Right
Cross Canada Actions in Defence of Public Health Care

Venezuela
A Call for Peace - President Nicolás Maduro
U.S. Interference in Venezuela Echoes Run-Up to 1964 U.S.- Backed Coup in Brazil - George Allen


Quebec Election Results

Final Tally

The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) will form a majority government as a result of the Quebec general election which took place April 7. It won the election with 70 seats and 41.50 per cent of the votes cast while the Parti Québécois (PQ) paid for its arrogance and foolishness in calling this election by receiving 30 seats and 25.38 per cent of the vote. The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) won 22 seats and 23. 06 per cent of the votes cast and Québec solidaire won three seats and 7.64 per cent of the votes cast.

The voter turnout was high, 71.43 per cent of 6,012,440 registered electors. There were 4,232,145 valid ballots cast and 62,864 rejected ballots.

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It Is Now Up to Quebec Workers, Youth, Students and Seniors to Show What They Are Made Of

"In the opinion of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec, the election that ended yesterday, April 7, and the one-month campaign shows the crucial need for the working class to act as an organized political force on the basis of its own independent politics. It is the disorganization of the working class as a political force and the disinformation that resulted in a majority Liberal government," said Pierre Chénier, Leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ), when the results of the election were announced.

"The election shows the need for renewal of the electoral system so that the working people have control over the agenda, not the parties fighting for power and the monopoly-owned media that together do their utmost to disinform the people," Pierre added. "The people must select the candidates themselves. Representatives elected by the people must themselves choose the government which is responsible to the National Assembly and can be removed if it does not act according to its will. Furthermore, the electoral authority must finance the process, not the parties. Without this kind of democratic renewal, we will continue to be subjected to out of control results, such as last night's. The election is supposed to transform the popular will into the legal will. This cannot be done if the people themselves do not control the agenda."

On behalf of the PMLQ Pierre Chénier congratulated the Party's candidates and all of the candidates who put forward a vision of society in this election. He condemned the role played by the media to disinform  the public.

"Philippe Couillard and the monopoly-owned media say that the Liberal Party has a mandate from the people and there is no greater fraud," he said.

"It is a fact that the election of a majority Liberal government will not give legitimacy to the neo-liberal program that it is preparing to implement with a vengeance," said Christine Dandenault, Director of the PMLQ. "The system of party governance is a cartel party system that disempowers the people and this will remain the main problem facing the people for the next four to five years."

A meeting of PMLQ candidates in Montreal on election night highlighted the need to organize for democratic renewal with Commissions on the Future of Quebec. According to the candidates this is becoming increasingly urgent.

"We must engage people more directly in nation-building, to provide a new direction for the economy, putting the interests of the people in the forefront, instead of the interests of the monopolies in their quest to become number one on the global markets," said Pierre. "Under these conditions where the Liberals will now move forward with their Northern Plan and their agenda to privatize health and education; rob workers of their pension funds; use money to pay the rich that should be allocated to the social and cultural programs and infrastructure that people need; the working class must lead the people in providing solutions to the serious problems society faces."

"Our future lies in the defence of the interests of all! March on! Together, let us build the Commissions on the Future of Quebec!"

(Translated from original French by the PMLQ.)

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The Humiliating Defeat of the PQ

The Parti Québécois (PQ) lost in a very big way in the April 7 election, culminating in the resignation of PQ Leader Pauline Marois, the first woman Premier of Quebec, who lost her own seat in the election. Her 18-month minority government was the shortest in Quebec history which she herself brought to an end by calling the election which led to her defeat. The PQ received only 25.4 per cent of the vote, the lowest since its first election campaign in 1970.

Several PQ ministers also went down to defeat: Bertrand St-Arnaud (Chambly), Yves-François Blanchet (Johnson), Réjean Hébert (Saint-François), Diane De Courcy (Crémazie), Pierre Duchesne (Borduas) et Élizabeth Larouche (Abitibi-Est).

The former president of the Federation of College Students of Quebec (FECQ) Léo Bureau-Blouin lost his seat in Laval-des-Rapides and the former president of the Federation of University Students of Quebec (FEUQ), Martine Desjardins, also lost her bid for election in Groulx.

The PQ lost two seats on the island of Montreal, one, Cremazie, to the Liberals and one, Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques, to Quebec Solidaire's candidate Manon Masse who won with 91 votes, with the PQ coming in third.

At the dissolution of the National Assembly, the Liberal Party had 20 ridings on the island of Montreal, the PQ six and Quebec Solidaire (QS), two. The Liberals now have 21, the PQ has four and QS has three.

According to the newspaper La Presse, "Pauline Marois had bet large on the Mauricie and Central Quebec, where her caravan returned repeatedly. But the Mauricie and Central Quebec completely passed over the Liberal camp for the CAQ [Coaltion Avenir Québec].

"In the 450 area code [suburban areas surrounding the island of Montreal] where Pauline Marois made a similar effort, the PQ lost ridings instead of winning. The CAQ won Mirabel, Deux-Montagnes and Chambly, for example.

"During the electoral campaign, Pauline Marois did not set foot in the remote areas which her party swept in 2012. However, the ridings of Abitibi-Est, Dubuc, Iles-de-la-Madeleine and Roberval -- the riding of [Liberal Leader] Philippe Couillard -- fell to the Liberals."

La Presse reports that three contenders immediately stepped forward to replace Pauline Marois as PQ Leader: Pierre Karl Péladeau, Jean-François Lisée and Bernard Drainville

(Translations of French quotations by TML.)

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Health Care Is a Right

Cross Canada Actions in Defence of
Public Health Care


Parliament Hill, Ottawa

On March 31, people from all walks of life across Canada took a stand in defence of public health care as part of a day of action. The day of action was called by the Canada Health Coalition to mark the expiration of the provincial-federal Canada Health Accord. The Harper government announced in December 2011 that it would not be renewing the Accord.

Amongst other things, the Coalition states that the end of the Health Accord will result in cuts of $36 billion to health transfers over 10 years, adding that an additional $16.5 billion will be cut from health care equalization payments. The Canada Health Accord also sets national standards, the Coalition says. Furthermore, as of 2017, the remaining federal health transfer payments will be linked to economic growth. "So in times of economic downturn, when people 's health care needs increase, funding will be reduced," writes the Coalition. The Coalition also states, "Without national standards, health services will be unevenly provided across the provinces and territories, and the type of care you receive will depend on where you live and your ability to pay."

One of the tenets of Canadian federalism was the principle of universality -- that across the country all Canadians would enjoy the same standard of living and access to social programs and quality of life, irrespective of the economic means of the province or the individuals. The Harper government is using the end of the Canada Health Accord to engage in nation-wrecking. No government of the rich has any intention of recognizing rights by virtue of being human but the right to health care is indeed a right which all human beings and societies require in order to flourish.

Cuts to health care are part of the modus operandi of privatization, where underfunding is used to cause a crisis in the system and to sow disinformation that public health care is inefficient and expensive and the only solution is to permit greater privatization. As more and more privatization and contracting out of various services within hospitals and other facilities takes place, the damage to the system and its ability to look after people's well-being is already manifest.

Actions on March 31 were held from coast to coast to coast in at least 46 cities across Canada including St. John's, Newfoundland, to Campbell River/Comox Valley on the west of Vancouver Island, to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Iqaluit, Nunavut. At the events, speakers argued out the necessity for a publicly funded and universal health care system.

In Ottawa, where the Ontario Health Coalition organized a mock funeral for Canada Health Accord on Parliament Hill, participants pointed out that the health care system in Canada is already dangerously under-funded, and that the Ottawa area hospitals have already been heavily affected by cuts to beds, nurses, services and contracting out. As the mock funeral procession marched towards the Parliament buildings, it was stopped by police who arrogantly said that protests were not permitted to ascend the stairs towards the building, nor were they allowed to proceed further towards the building with the "coffin" for the Health Accord.

At the action in Campbell River a speaker from the Hospital Employees Union pointed out that since the 1980's successive federal governments have adopted the neo-liberal agenda of cutting social services including health care. She said that the refusal of the federal government to negotiate a renewed Health Accord with the provinces and to impose a "take it or leave" it program of significant cuts to funding is an abdication of responsibility to Canadians. She said that Canadians consider that health care is a right not a privilege afforded only to those who have means, and that the federal and provincial governments have abdicated their social responsibility to provide that right with a guarantee.

Active and retired members of Local 1005 USW took part in the action in Hamilton with a large banner that boldly affirmed that "Health Care Is a Right!" They reflected on their experience and the situation facing the public health care system in the weekly newsletter Information Update, which said in part:

"The suggestion is that if the funding is restored, there will be no problem. While it is true that the health care system is very inadequately funded, restoring funding will not of itself sort out the problem which is the refusal of governments at both the federal and provincial levels to recognize the right of the people to health care at the standard society can provide. While it is true that cutbacks are a serious problem, in fact it is privatization which has been engineered and public funds are used to pay the rich.

"To have public funds paying for private delivery of health care services is a huge step backwards. It is not only very expensive because the monopolies involved all demand their cut, but it leads to a deterioration of services, not to their improvement.

"We are also always told that the privatization cannot be reversed. The (mostly secret) deals are presumably etched in stone when it comes to paying the rich. Not so when it comes to letting the monopolies declare that the business climate no longer permits them to carry on production in Canada, or pay wages, pensions and benefits commensurate with the jobs people do. In the healthcare system, the privatization of services is used to lower wages and undervalue skills in an unacceptable manner through contracting out, etc.

"Another argument is that healthcare is not a right, it is a privilege for which we should be truly thankful. When we were leafleting downtown after the health care rally, one person stopped, looked at our sign and said that we were wrong. Health care is not a right, 'it is a privilege.' And he kept walking. It is thanks to this misconception that the ideological basis is laid to get away with the attack on health care. Along with this is the notion that the right to health care does not have to be provided with a guarantee, but is a policy objective -- something that is desirable but not attainable. We are told that it is dependent on whether 'we can afford it,' and such things. Right from the get go, health care being a privilege assumes someone above everyone else gets to decide where our money goes and what we 'can afford' and who gets this 'privilege.'

"In fact, health care is a right because human beings who engage in the production and reproduction of life do not fend for themselves. They belong to an organized society which is duty-bound to provide everything they require to flourish and for society to flourish. To go back to the days of epidemics and lack of sanitation services or refuse to use the discoveries and innovations as a result of the scientific and technical advances to raise the standard of living of all members of society is medieval. The very notion of privileges, not rights, is medieval."

Many of the March 31 actions were held at the constituency offices of Conservative MPs to underscore that the federal government has a responsibility to ensure health care is properly funded and that the federal government must return to the table and negotiate a new Canada Health Accord. Further to this, participants made clear that the Harper government is unfit to govern and that they will organize to see that it is removed from office in the next election.

St. John's, Newfoundland; Fredericton, New Brunswick


Halifax; Bridgewater, Nova Scotia


Ottawa




Cornwall; Toronto, Ontario



Scarborough; Brampton, Ontario



Hamilton, Ontario



Thunder Bay; Sault Ste Marie, Ontario




Prince Albert; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan




Edmonton, Alberta; Nelson, BC



Thompson-Nicola; Richmond, BC



Vancouver; Cowichan Valley, BC


(Photos: TML, OHC, CHC, OPSEU, Debbie Forward, T. Tracy, Big JMcC, M. Quinn, M. Lewis, E. Fleming, N. Monckton, P.Faoro, Pat Mcg, K. Kwok, A. Degraaf)

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Venezuela

A Call for Peace


Mass rally for peace in Caracas, Venezuela, February 15, 2014. This is one of many ongoing initiatives by the government of Nicolás Maduro to maintain stability and ensure that peace and justice prevail over the provocations of the reactionary opposition forces.

TML is posting below an op-ed by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, published in the New York Times.

***

The recent protests in Venezuela have made international headlines. Much of the foreign media coverage has distorted the reality of my country and the facts surrounding the events.

Venezuelans are proud of our democracy. We have built a participatory democratic movement from the grass roots that has ensured that both power and resources are equitably distributed among our people.

According to the United Nations, Venezuela has consistently reduced inequality: It now has the lowest income inequality in the region. We have reduced poverty enormously -- to 25.4 percent in 2012, on the World Bank's data, from 49 percent in 1998; in the same period, according to government statistics, extreme poverty diminished to 6 percent from 21 percent.

We have created flagship universal health care and education programs, free to our citizens nationwide. We have achieved these feats in large part by using revenue from Venezuelan oil.

While our social policies have improved citizens' lives over all, the government has also confronted serious economic challenges in the past 16 months, including inflation and shortages of basic goods. We continue to find solutions through measures like our new market-based foreign exchange system, which is designed to reduce the black market exchange rate. And we are monitoring businesses to ensure they are not gouging consumers or hoarding products. Venezuela has also struggled with a high crime rate. We are addressing this by building a new national police force, strengthening community-police cooperation and revamping our prison system.

Since 1998, the movement founded by Hugo Chávez has won more than a dozen presidential, parliamentary and local elections through an electoral process that former American President Jimmy Carter has called "the best in the world." Recently, the United Socialist Party received an overwhelming mandate in mayoral elections in December 2013, winning 255 out of 337 municipalities.

Popular participation in politics in Venezuela has increased dramatically over the past decade. As a former union organizer, I believe profoundly in the right to association and in the civic duty to ensure that justice prevails by voicing legitimate concerns through peaceful assembly and protest.

The claims that Venezuela has a deficient democracy and that current protests represent mainstream sentiment are belied by the facts. The anti-government protests are being carried out by people in the wealthier segments of society who seek to reverse the gains of the democratic process that have benefited the vast majority of the people.

Anti-government protesters have physically attacked and damaged health care clinics, burned down a university in Táchira State and thrown Molotov cocktails and rocks at buses. They have also targeted other public institutions by throwing rocks and torches at the offices of the Supreme Court, the public telephone company CANTV and the attorney general's office. These violent actions have caused many millions of dollars' worth of damage. This is why the protests have received no support in poor and working-class neighborhoods.

The protesters have a single goal: the unconstitutional ouster of the democratically elected government. Anti-government leaders made this clear when they started the campaign in January, vowing to create chaos in the streets. Those with legitimate criticisms of economic conditions or the crime rate are being exploited by protest leaders with a violent, antidemocratic agenda.

In two months, a reported 36 people have been killed. The protesters are, we believe, directly responsible for about half of the fatalities. Six members of the National Guard have been shot and killed; other citizens have been murdered while attempting to remove obstacles placed by protesters to block transit.

A very small number of security forces personnel have also been accused of engaging in violence, as a result of which several people have died. These are highly regrettable events, and the Venezuelan government has responded by arresting those suspected. We have created a Human Rights Council to investigate all incidents related to these protests. Each victim deserves justice, and every perpetrator -- whether a supporter or an opponent of the government -- will be held accountable for his or her actions.

In the United States, the protesters have been described as "peaceful," while the Venezuelan government is said to be violently repressing them. According to this narrative, the American government is siding with the people of Venezuela; in reality, it is on the side of the 1 percent who wish to drag our country back to when the 99 percent were shut out of political life and only the few -- including American companies -- benefited from Venezuela's oil.

Let's not forget that some of those who supported ousting Venezuela's democratically elected government in 2002 are leading the protests today. Those involved in the 2002 coup immediately disbanded the Supreme Court and the legislature, and scrapped the Constitution. Those who incite violence and attempt similar unconstitutional actions today must face the justice system.

The American government supported the 2002 coup and recognized the coup government despite its anti-democratic behavior. Today, the Obama administration spends at least $5 million annually to support opposition movements in Venezuela. A bill calling for an additional $15 million for these anti-government organizations is now in Congress. Congress is also deciding whether to impose sanctions on Venezuela. I hope that the American people, knowing the truth, will decide that Venezuela and its people do not deserve such punishment, and will call upon their representatives not to enact sanctions.

Now is a time for dialogue and diplomacy. Within Venezuela, we have extended a hand to the opposition. And we have accepted the Union of South American Nations' recommendations to engage in mediated talks with the opposition. My government has also reached out to President Obama, expressing our desire to again exchange ambassadors. We hope his administration will respond in kind.

Venezuela needs peace and dialogue to move forward. We welcome anyone who sincerely wants to help us reach these goals.

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U.S. Interference in Venezuela Echoes Run-Up to
1964 U.S.- Backed Coup in Brazil


Mass rally at Central Station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 13, 1964, where President João Goulart outlined various
progressive social, political and economic reforms. For his stands in the people's interests, he was overthrown in a coup shortly thereafter.

On March 31, 1964, the Brazilian military, fully backed by the money and power of the Brazilian monopolies and the United States, overthrew the democratically elected João Goulart government of Brazil and installed General Castello Branco as the new president. Prior to the coup, Brazil had been the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance in Latin America, and most of the officers who led the coup, including Branco, were U.S.-trained. The coup ensured that a military government subservient to U.S. interests ruled Brazil for at least the next 21 years, and it was not until 1985 that Brazil elected its next civilian government.


President João Goulart

The Brazilian monopolies who backed the coup opposed Goulart's plans to try to improve the lives of the working people through reforms such as nationalizing the foreign-owned petroleum sector, increasing unionization, improving workers wages and benefits, and implementing rent controls. The monopolies had already joined the U.S.'s anti-communist crusade and accused Goulart of being a communist, trying unsuccessfully to block his presidential nomination as a highly popular candidate. Recently some of the monopolies who supported the 1964 coup, such as the Marinho family's media giant Globo, have publicly "apologized" for their support. This was not due to an attack of conscience but to the widespread public opposition to the coup which exists to the present day, including increasingly loud calls to bring to justice those responsible for the well-documented deaths, disappearances, and torture that occurred following the military takeover.

Brazil's official National Truth Commission, appointed by current President Dilma Rousseff in 2012, is now looking at connections between big business and the military regime during the "Dirty Wars" following the coup. Rousseff was one of many Brazilians who were tortured and imprisoned for opposing the dictatorship. She was a member of an urban guerrilla group at the time of her capture in 1970 and spent three years behind bars. She was repeatedly tortured with electric shocks to her feet and ears, and suspended upside down naked, from a stick, with bound wrists and ankles. Today Brazilian rights groups are targeting known torturers, encircling their residences in cities across Brazil. Protestors painted a sign on the residence of Lieutenant-Colonel Mauricio Lima, identified as one of Rousseff's torturers, declaring, "A torturer of the dictatorship lives here."

Sanitized CIA documents show that before the 1964 coup, the U.S. imperialists played a filthy role in fomenting numerous street demonstrations against Goulart and funnelling money to anti-Goulart groups, and were also prepared through operation "Brother Sam" to intervene militarily if the coup was defeated. U.S. plans included sending a fleet of warships to the area, airlifting military supplies to the military, and even U.S. airstrikes from bases in Argentina. The American military attaché in Brazil at the time was Colonel Vernon Walters, who roomed with Castello Branco in Italy during the Second World War, and who later became deputy-director of the CIA. After the coup, the CIA helped create Brazil's first national intelligence service, the SNI. Joao Baptista Figueiredo, the director of SNI's Rio office, served as Brazil's president from 1979-85.

The events of 1964 in Brazil followed the brutal U.S.-backed coup in Guatemala in 1954 and preceded numerous other post-war U.S. interventions in Latin America, including those against Cuba, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Uruguay, Chile, Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, Haiti, and Honduras, to name just a few. One of the primary targets of U.S. intervention today is Venezuela, especially since the presidential election of anti-imperialist Hugo Chávez in 1999 and continuing with the election of current President Nicolás Maduro in 2013. U.S. interference is following a pattern very similar to Brazil, supporting and infiltrating the most reactionary organizations in Venezuela to foment a coup by local reactionary forces, including financing the political campaigns of imperialist darling Leopoldo López, who was groomed at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. López led demonstrations against President Hugo Chávez in the days before the U.S.-backed 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt and played a major role in fomenting the Venezuelan general strike of 2002-03. López is currently in prison on charges of instigating arson, damage and criminal gatherings.

Since the beginning of the opposition's attempts to stage a coup, Venezuela has exposed the U.S. role in fomenting unrest and violence. On February 20, the Venezuelan government responded to remarks of U.S. President Barack Obama on the political turmoil, rejecting his comments as "offensive interference" in its domestic affairs. "The Venezuelan government reaffirms it will continue to monitor and take the steps necessary to impede U.S. agents seeking to sow violence and instability, and to inform the world about the nature of the interventionist policy of the Obama administration in our country," said the statement. On February 17, Venezuela expelled three U.S. officials for interfering in Venezuela's internal affairs. On February 18, thousands of petroleum workers marched in support of the Bolivarian Revolution, President Maduro and the Constitution. This show of support is important as wealth from Venezuela's highly valuable oil production supports the country's many social programs. Previous opposition attempts to undermine the government involved instigating work slowdowns and sabotage in the oil sector, loudly echoing the battle over control of the oil sector which was also a main feature of the 1964 coup in Brazil.

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