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April 14, 2014 - No. 42

Small Parties Oppose Bill C-23,
the Anti-Democratic "Fair Elections Act"

Bill C-23 Must Not Pass

Small Parties Oppose Bill C-23, the Anti-Democratic "Fair Elections Act"
Bill C-23 Must Not Pass - Joint Press Release

Self-Serving Eulogies and Undeserved Praise
The State Funeral for Former Finance Minister and the Conservative's Crass Opportunism
Former Finance Minister Should Be Held Responsible for Economic Damage, Criminalizing Canadian Workers and Repeated War Budgets - Tony Seed

Small Parties Oppose Bill C-23, the Anti-Democratic "Fair Elections Act"

Bill C-23 Must Not Pass

Ottawa - April 11, 2014 -- Registered political parties currently without representation in the House of Commons met in Ottawa to consider Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts. The parties listed below agreed to issue the following statement. These parties are also concerned about many provisions in Bill C-23 aside from those outlined in the statement and they encourage the media to contact them individually.

The Conservative Party of Canada, overseen by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is hoping to steal the next federal election. Bill C-23, the so-called Fair Elections Act, is their game plan. We are working together to stop the Conservatives, and to protect every Canadian's right to vote in a fair and honest election that is free of voter suppression schemes, of election fraud, of the denial of fundamental rights, and all watched over by an independent and effective Elections Canada.

The Conservatives and Stephen Harper are terrified because they can't win a fair election; they hope they can win a rigged one.

Opposition to Stephen Harper's Bill C-23 is almost universal, condemned by national and international election officials and experts on democracy and elections. It is supported only by Conservative politicians who hope to benefit from its worst provisions. Bill C-23 helps people commit election fraud and get away with it; encourages mayhem, confusion, and long delays on election day; and deprives hundreds of thousand of Canadians of their right to vote.

Bill C-23 goes even further. It prevents Elections Canada from warning Canadians who are targeted by fraud and voter suppression schemes. It even bars Elections Canada from encouraging citizens to vote, especially youth, new Canadians and First Nations people.

From now until the next election and beyond, if necessary, we will be working together to protect Canadians from Stephen Harper's and the Conservatives' cowardly, self-serving attack on their fundamental right to vote. We will fight for our fellow Canadians and their hard won rights wherever we can -- in the courts, in the streets, in elections, on social media, in class rooms -- wherever Canadians who believe in democratic rights and honest government gather.

We reach out to all Canadians to help us stop Stephen Harper and the Conservatives stealing their elections and stealing their rights.

For further information contact:

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, 416-462-9541, www. environmentvoters.org
Canadian Action Party, 519-852-8279, www.canadianactionparty.org
Christian Heritage Party, 819-281-6686, 1-888-868-3247, www.chp.ca
Communist Party of Canada, 416-469-2446, www.communist-party.ca
Libertarian Party of Canada, 613-288-9089, www.libertarian.ca
Marijuana Party of Canada, 514-507-5188, www.marijuanaparty.ca
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, 416-253-4475, www.mlpc.ca
Party for Accountability, Competency and Transparency, 416-567-6913, www.onlineparty.ca
Pirate Party of Canada, (877) 978-2023, www.pirateparty.ca
Progressive Canadian Party, 905-853-8949, www.pcparty.org
Rhinoceros Party, 514-903-9450, www.neorhino.ca

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Self-Serving Eulogies and Undeserved Praise

The State Funeral for Former Finance Minister and
the Conservative's Crass Opportunism

In today's TML we are posting an article on the real accomplishments of the former Finance Minister who died on April 10. It is all about nation-wrecking with a program to pay the rich, increase funding for war and annexation and destroy the public authority by starving social programs. Despite this, the monopoly-controlled media are full of praise for the former Finance Minister and his budgets and it was announced that he would be honoured with a state funeral on Wednesday, April 16. All of this comes at a time the Conservatives are wracked with scandal and are railroading a bill through the Commons and the Senate, Bill C-23, that destroys Canada's electoral process to favour their own re-election. Now, the other shoe is dropping. In an item published in The Hill Times today, we hear that even though the next election is supposed to take place on October 19, 2015, "some Tory insiders and opposition parties say Prime Minister Stephen Harper could decide to trigger it earlier to take advantage of momentum generated from next year's expected balanced federal budget with billions of dollars of surplus.

"'If he's got a budget and it's balanced and he wants to sprinkle some goodies, this is a good opportunity to do it [call an election] and then go, and rather than sit there and lose all that momentum that the budget will give you,' said Keith Beardsley, former deputy chief of staff to Prime Minister Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) who now is a partner at True North Public Affairs."

The Hill Times says: "Annual federal budgets are usually tabled in February or March. Next year's budget is likely to run a $6-billion surplus and the Harper government is expected to announce a number of tax breaks for Canadians including income-splitting, a controversial tax measure that would mainly be beneficial to couples with one high-income spouse. Conservatives are banking on gaining wide popularity and momentum after this budget."

The crass opportunism of the Harper dictatorship and so-called major political parties is such that all of this is seen as par for the course. It is the Prime Minister's prerogative to call an election whenever he sees fit, just as he passed a fixed election date law when that suited him to push his neo-liberal conception of accountability. The essence of what this neo-liberal notion of accountability means is that Canadians are to exercise no control whatsoever over the decisions which affect their lives and that is what former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was also all about. To promote this rejection of accountability by holding a state funeral which serves to praise the cover up to the skies is despicable.

A veteran Conservative insider quoted by The Hill Times said: "'Time is not on his [Harper's] side. The longer you're in there [government], the more likelihood that something's going to happen. After more than eight years in government, things are not the same as they were in 2006 when [Harper got elected]. It's a very different scenario,' said the source, adding that the Nigel Wright-Michael Duffy issue could also play a key role on when the next election is going to happen. So far, the RCMP investigation is ongoing and there doesn't seem to be an end anywhere in sight.

"Conservative insiders and Mr. Beardsley all point to their party's ongoing advertising campaign against Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.), the government's increasing ads promoting the Conservative Economic Action Plan and the government's partisan hardline against Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand as reflecting a hyperpartisanship from the government that usually only becomes this obvious in pre-writ weeks.

"'That's [advertising and partisan hardline] very uncommon this far in advance,' said Mr. Beardsley. "There's no real reason for the party to be doing saturation advertising, not this far in advance. That's one thing that has people paying attention. The bill's [Fair Election Act] going to pass, they've got a majority. So, there's no need to [attack the chief electoral officer]. They're almost in that sort of pre-election mindset where it's almost daily war with your opponent.'

"Mr. Beardsley also confirmed that he's already getting résumés from some Hill staffers who want to secure a job sooner, just in case the Conservatives decide to call an election after the budget and all of a sudden there're hundreds of Hill staffers looking for jobs," The Hill Times writes.

The state funeral for Jim Flaherty is yet another case of the Conservative Party's use of state funds to promote itself and the financial oligarchy's neo-liberal austerity budgets and nation-wrecking. It is part and parcel of the electoral coup being rolled out through maximum fraud and disinformation.

The two-party system and parliamentary equilibrium which prevailed in the past was based on the premise that the party in power is replaced with the party in opposition when the former's program became discredited. This has long ceased to function. Elections today are electoral coups against the polity where voting "for the lesser evil" is no longer a sure bet. Going all out to build the Workers' Opposition to nation-wrecking and the anti-social offensive requires that organized contingents of workers, youth and students and associations of Canadian citizens and residents must oppose the restructuring of the state which is permitting private monopoly interests to directly take over the state institutions, from the civil service to financial, security and correctional services, as well as the armed forces, while everything to do with the public authority is destroyed. It is all about upholding the modern notion of individual and collective rights which belong to the holder by virtue of their being. Rights are not privileges which can be given or taken away by a strata with the privileges to do so.

It is urgent to implement a modern conception of rights and fight for arrangements based on such a modern conception. It provides the opposition to the current state of affairs with a sound foundation which will defeat the attempts of the cartel party system to usurp the decision-making power through electoral coups.

Across the country, efforts to defeat the Harper dictatorship are being mounted. In this regard, the opposition must not permit the issue to become opposing this or that policy with a policy-objective that is supposed to be better. It is not policy-objectives that are implemented, as the practice of the former Finance Minister shows, when it comes to anything that serves the interests of the people and not the rich. However, policy objectives do serve to cover up whose interests are served and the ongoing nation-wrecking.

All Out to Uphold Public Right Against Private Monopoly Interests!
Manufacturing Yes, Nation-Wrecking No!
Whose Resources and Whose Democracy? Our Resources and Our Democracy!
Who Decides? We Decide!

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Former Finance Minister Should Be Held Responsible for Economic Damage, Criminalizing Canadian Workers and Repeated War Budgets

Workers demonstrate outside of Flaherty's campaign office in Whitby-Oshawa during 2008 election.

The media is going non-stop in its eulogizing of Jim Flaherty (1949-2014), who passed away suddenly April 10. Until his recent retirement, Flaherty had been federal Finance Minister since the 2006 electoral coup that brought the Harper government to power.

The dominant media and political discourse advances the view that regardless of one's individual views on Flaherty's policies, he had human qualities; he "put partisanship aside" in the common pursuit of "growing the Canadian economy," and hence "politicians of all stripes are mourning him." Possibly the executives in charge of media news wants a combination of the two: a merciless exploiter and a man who gives such a program a human face.

Further, CBC TV exclaims that, "Our Finance Minister is being remembered around the world" and is "globally respected." The tributes emanate exclusively from the ranks of the rich G-8 countries, which are presented as "the international community." They include the globalist International Monetary Fund and Jack Lew, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, who states Flaherty made "sure that workers had a chance to retire with dignity" -- a bald-faced lie: the U.S. government itself has declared the next generation of workers shall have no pensions.

Perhaps haunted by the memory of retired and active Canadian workers demonstrating in front of Flaherty's campaign office in Whitby-Oshawa in 2008 (e.g., CAW retired auto workers, steelworkers), CBC TV asked rhetorically later in the day, "How should Canadians remember him," as if it had not already made up its mind.

It is hardly fortuitous that the Harper government has put flags at half mast for its right-hand man, and a state funeral is to be held on Wednesday, April 16 in Toronto, an extremely rare event in the political life of Canada and usually reserved for deceased prime ministers.

A brief review of some of the main features of Flaherty's record shows that he should be held responsible for economic damage, criminalizing Canadian workers and repeated war budgets. Flaherty, a corporate lawyer by profession, was a political representative of the financial elite and a neo-liberal champion of its anti-union, anti-worker, anti-social and anti-national offensive. He was federal minister of finance from 2006-2014 and Minister of Finance in the Ontario provincial government of Mike Harris from 2001-2002, when he was demoted to a lesser post.

Only a man with no social conscience or responsibility could call for jailing the homeless, as he did during his unsuccessful campaign for leadership of the Ontario Conservative Party in 2002, which focused on "law and order" themes as well as privatization of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Flaherty was defeated again in 2005 by John Tory; then -- along with other cohorts such as John Baird of the Harris "common sense revolution," which had been fought against tooth and nail by the Ontario working class -- he joined forces with Harper at the federal level. By virtue of his appointment as Minister of Finance in 2006, he also became a Governor of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which has done so much damage to the economies of dependent countries, and was designated federal minister in charge of the Greater Toronto area. His wife Christine Elliott inherited his seat in the provincial Legislature.

The sanctification of Flaherty's reign aims to obscure both the direction of the Canadian state as well as to insinuate that the continuous resistance waged by the Canadian people has been merely a matter of objection to this or that individual "policy" adopted as part of the overall good of "growing the economy." Speaking of the essence of Flaherty's last federal budget, TML Daily pointed out:

"Falling federal program spending beginning with the Liberal governments of Chretien and Martin and now Harper has sunk to 13 per cent of the gross domestic product, the lowest percentage in over 70 years. Billions of dollars in program cuts from last year's budget are set to begin. Along with the current budget's program spending freeze, this will reduce overall program spending on health, education, aboriginal and veterans' affairs, etc., to levels not seen since the pre-WWII period.

"Everyone is now familiar with the reductions in Employment Insurance and the denuding of regulations and collapse of a public authority that is supposed to protect the people's food supply, transportation system and other features of a modern society. The essence of the measures to destroy social programs and public services is to wreck any public authority that serves to protect the well-being and security of Canadians and restrict monopoly right."

Instead of program spending on the well-being of the Canadian people and nation-building, Flaherty's budgets have diverted increasing amounts of public funds to private interests. This has been done openly by funneling public money to the monopolies -- for example, to the foreign, mainly U.S. auto monopolies through his innovation fund -- and in a more hidden fashion by providing private interests with public funds from the federal treasury using public-private partnerships to build infrastructure and prepare for war.

Working Canadians will not be shedding a tear for Flaherty. At a demonstration at his office in 2011, Len Harrison, the chair of the CAW Retired Workers Executive, stated, "Flaherty stabbed us in the back. Instead of doing what he promised to do for pensioners so that CPP rises slowly so that everybody has a pension, he backed off and now he wants it to go to his friend, the financial community." Close to 70 per cent of Canadians have no company pension plan at all and have to rely on the Canada Pension Plan and old age supplements in their retirement days, which means ending one's life in poverty. Flaherty had reneged on a pledge to strengthen the CPP and instead went with a pay-the-rich private savings plan, as well as for provided no funding in that year's budget to basic social programs such as education, health care, affordable housing and universal daycare.

The Hamilton steelworkers, Air Canada and Canada Post workers together with Vale, Xstrata and Resolute Forest Products (AbitibiBowater) workers throughout Canada all had to take bold steps to defend their rights against both executive thieves and the Harper dictatorship, in whose court Flaherty held front and centre.

Criminalizing Canadian Workers

Airline workers oppose back-to-work legislation, outside Labour Minister Lisa Raitt's office, October 13, 2011.

The 2011 airline workers' strike exemplifies Flaherty's agit-prop role and how he used his position as a Minister of the Crown to intervene against working people. Even though the damage to the economy from the strike was directly the fault of Air Canada and labour relations is not a ministerial responsibility, Flaherty joined Labour Minister Lisa Raitt in supporting the preparations for back-to-work legislation to criminalize the workers instead of defending Canadian workers. Can this be called a human quality? Through unjust and disruptive parliamentary and bureaucratic measures to negate the rights of airline as well as postal workers, the state machine led by the Harperites stood exposed as a tool of the owners of big capital against the working class.

Air Canada, for instance, sought to use its dominant position to renege on its pension obligations and impose a two-tier workplace, even though these obligations were a condition for the court's acceptance of the plan of arrangement provided by Air Canada for it not to seek bankruptcy protection (which it also used to make a big score on the workers' backs).

The fact that the government of Canada and Flaherty personally, participated in brokering that plan of arrangement means that they neglected their duty to defend the workers as well as being in blatant conflict of interest. The workers have a good case to hold him and the government to account.

Flaherty publicly acknowledged his direct responsibility. "I've been very mindful of the Air Canada situation. I was involved in it back in 2009 when we worked out an agreement with the unions and management about the pension situation to buy some time -- several years -- with respect to the pension issue there. But this is of economic consequence. I'm pleased that the Minister of Labour is going to act."

A Nation Wrecker

Monopolies such as Air Canada, Canada Post, U.S. Steel and the auto, forest and agricultural monopolies all cite their alleged concern for the economy -- which they called "making Canada competitive" -- to justify using their dominant position to extort concessions from the workers. Their political representatives and the media feign that the government does not intervene to stop these attempts at extortion. Instead of holding the companies to account, Flaherty and the Harper government joined them in citing concern for the economy and intervened to criminalize or isolate the workers and let the companies off scot-free.

Flaherty and his cabinet declared in 2011, in the words of Tony Clement, that "now U.S. Steel can do whatever they want." U.S. Steel took over Stelco Inc. and put 1,500 workers out of work at its Hamilton and Lake Erie plants in 2009 for refusing to kowtow to the concessions it demanded. It closed the production of steel at the Hamilton Stelco works, allegedly for good in 2013, in violation of all its contractual commitments under the Foreign Investment Review Act. Local 1005 of the United Steelworkers Union in particular courageously drew a line in the sand on the pension issue, concessions, the wrecking of manufacturing and the elimination of steel production as a national asset of the Canadian economy. Instead of responding to the union's measured proposals which have won the support of the Hamilton civic government, the Harper, McGuinty and Wynne governments cowardly facilitated the destruction of Stelco. Today Canadian steel-making is wrecked. The cratering of manufacturing, especially in Ontario and Quebec, lessens the amount of wealth workers produce and the amount available for social programs, and pushed the annexation of Canada into the U.S. empire.

According to Local 1005's newsletter, Information Update, "Since invading Canada in 2007 to seize control of the Stelco steel complex, U.S. Steel has pushed its politics of doom. It has preached the futility of steel production in Hamilton U.S. Steel sees the destruction of steel production in Canada as a means to weaken competition for steel production at its plants in the United States, which for many years have had low levels of capacity utilization." Yet Flaherty capitulated to and lay down with U.S. Steal, rather than standing with steelworkers and Canada's producers.

Disinformation on the Nature of Flaherty's Budgets

The Harper-Flaherty mania to reduce corporate taxes and then make the resultant deficits and debt an issue has been a preferred political and ideological weapon. Harper and Flaherty repeatedly declared in a dismissive tone to Canadians: These demands for pensions for all, a national child care system and public medicare and pharmacare and other means to ensure people's well-being are simply not affordable.

The ex-Finance Minister is applauded for "rescuing" Canada from the 2008 recession, though there was no shortage of public resources to alleviate the brutality of its consequences, with a budget described as "non-ideological" because it budgeted for a deficit. The disinformation includes stories as to how he "stood up" to Harper or went against his "conservatism" as well as the demands of extremist centres such as the Fraser Institute and Frontier Centre which called for deep wage cuts, etc., to eliminate the deficit.

By seeming to follow his own prescription and heart, not those of the extremists, Flaherty could pretend his budgets were "moderate," "mainstream," "non-partisan" and "non-ideological" -- not right-wing extremist, conservative or ideological instruments of big capital.

However, resources were mobilized by the state for private, not public ends. And that is declared not ideological!

One of the most common features promoted by Flaherty, for example, was neo-liberal privatization. In 2009, a new agency was created, PPP Canada, that required municipalities to "partner" with private corporations to finance and or deliver public infrastructure and services for a profit. The initial budget was one billion dollars.

Budgets for Annexation and War

Flaherty put budget after budget in the service of the United States of North American Monopolies in its drive for global domination, especially through Obama's Asia-Pivot strategy. This is characterized by the militarization of the economy, creation of the North American Security Perimeter, integration of the armed forces and their deployment to the farthest reaches of the U.S. Empire. While overall program spending has been slashed, as noted above, Flaherty more than doubled the federal military budget in the past eight years from the annual $11 billion spent by the Paul Martin Liberals. An estimated $100 billion is earmarked for a multi-year program to build a new fleet of bluewater naval warships and coast guard vessels to open up the North West Passage for the oil and gas monopolies. Additional billions of dollars are being expended on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts for so-called "gateway" schemes -- involving the modernization of port and intermodal transportation infrastructure -- to speed up the transport of goods, resources and military personnel and armaments from overseas to the American heartland and vice-versa.


On October 4, 2011 Flaherty introduced Bill C-13, An Act to Implement Certain Provisions of the 2011 Budget as Updated on June 6, 2011 and Other Measures. The name of the bill gave the impression that it dealt strictly with the funding of individual government programs. However, this was not the case. It included substantial changes to the Canada Pension Plan including schemes to establish individual savings plans in place of public pensions, changes to international trade regulations, the Canada Human Rights Act and the Canada Elections Act. Although not referred to as such, it was in effect an omnibus bill (644-pages long and divided into 22 parts) and contained broad changes to the Canadian state.

Introducing the bill, Flaherty stated: "Our Government is focused on what matters to Canadians -- creating jobs and promoting economic growth. While Canada has the strongest job growth record in the G-7 with nearly 600,000 net new jobs created since July 2009 and the IMF projects that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G-7 over the next two years, we are not immune from global economic turbulence. That's why we need to stay the course and implement the Next Phase of Canada's Economic Action Plan." In an attempt to prevent any substantial discussion on the direction in which the bill takes Canada, on October 6, 2011 the government moved to limit debate on the bill to three sitting days even though it controlled a majority in the Parliament.

Necessity to Build a Workers' Opposition

The challenge people face is to unite to stop and turn around this anti-social direction of the Harper government that puts the demands and narrow private interests of the global monopolies ahead of Canadians and the public interest.

The refusal of the global monopolies and their political representatives such as the former Finance Minister to recognize public right and the rights of the actual producers, the working class, created disequilibrium in the country. Disequilibrium is reflected in the inability and unwillingness of the global monopolies and political class to solve the economic crisis in favour of the people. Even worse, the global monopolies and political class are using the crisis as an excuse to extort concessions, consolidate their economic and political power and block the working class from assuming positions of authority to put into practice its own pro-social program and agenda to resolve problems and the crisis in a manner that serves the interests of the people and society.

The Canadian economy is affected by both conscious and spontaneous factors. Government intervention in the economy through budgets and policies such as free trade can directly affect the spontaneous factors. The conscious and spontaneous factors set the direction of the economy for good or bad. To defend its rights and the rights of all and set a new direction for the economy that favours the people and nation-building, the working class movement has to intervene in the economy with its own program to influence the conscious and spontaneous factors.

These actions include examining the content of government intervention, such as federal, provincial and municipal budgets, and determining how the government's conscious policies will affect the spontaneous factors and the general direction of the economy. From this analysis the working class movement can both hold the government to account for its actions and develop its grasp of its own independent agenda to intervene in the economy to defend its rights and the rights of all.

The sheer volume of the media's inhuman and ahistorical eulogy of a finance minister which will reach a crescendo around the state funeral on April 16 itself highlights the absence of a powerful and effective Workers' Opposition that can mobilize the people for a change in the direction of the economy. The issue before Canadians is to do all they can to organize and build a Workers' Opposition.

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