2014 - No. 56
Organize for the People's
Federal By-Elections --
Defeat Harper's Nation-Wrecking Austerity Agenda!
Organize for the
• Federal By-Elections --
Defeat Harper's Nation-Wrecking Austerity Agenda!
• Discussion of a Pro-Social Agenda and New
Direction for the Economy -- The Example of Fort McMurray--Athabasca
End the Anti-Social Temporary
Foreign Worker Program Now!
to End Labour-Trafficking Program in a Manner
that Respects Workers' Rights
• Edmonton Community Forum
• Excerpts of Alberta Federation of Labour
Letter to Minister Kenney
Imperialist Leaders at Harvard and University of Alberta
• Why Select Kim Campbell to
Head U of A's New Leadership College? - Dougal MacDonald
• Note to
Organize for the People's
Federal By-Elections -- Defeat Harper's
Nation-Wrecking Austerity Agenda!
Elections Canada issued writs of elections on May
11 for four federal by-elections to be held on Monday, June 30.
Elections will be held in the electoral districts of Fort
McMurray--Athabasca (Alberta), Macleod (Alberta),
(Ontario) and Trinity--Spadina (Ontario) to fill four
vacancies in the House of Commons.
These by-elections are an opportunity to take a stand
against the nation-wrecking austerity agenda of the Harper dictatorship
by advancing the independent politics of the working class. In other
words, they present an opportunity to take concrete steps which
contribute to the people's empowerment. TML calls on everyone to discuss in
their workplaces, educational institutions, seniors' residences and
neighbourhoods how to participate effectively in the by-elections in a
manner which contributes to the defeat of the Harper dictatorship.
Discussion of a Pro-Social Agenda and
for the Economy --
The Example of Fort McMurray--Athabasca
In Fort McMurray--Athabasca, the working people have a
challenge to use the strength of their numbers, organization and
consciousness to advance their own independent politics and pro-social
agenda and strengthen the movement for the people's empowerment.
The people of the Fort McMurray--Athabasca
are fighting on many fronts in defence of the rights of all and for a
new direction for the economy. Working people are saying No! to
Harper's low wage agenda
and demanding an end to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and its
replacement with immigration in the public interest. Oil workers
together with many allied Canadians oppose shipping our resources down
the pipeline. They are calling for a new direction for the economy
based on recognition of the rights
of the working class with all-sided economic development, including oil
upgrading, growth of a petrochemical industry, diverse manufacturing,
strengthening of public authorities to restrict the monopolies and
their destructive practices, and increased investments in social
programs and public services and to stop paying
People are fighting to stop the destruction and
privatization of social programs and public services, including the
public post office, health care, education and seniors care. Why are
the monopolies which are claiming enormous profits from the oil sands
responsible for twinning Highway 63 from Edmonton
to Fort McMurray, which would help put an end to the terrible death and
destruction? It is outrageous that so much wealth created by the
workers is claimed by the monopolies and removed from the community and
from Canada, while the need for affordable housing, schools, hospitals
and seniors' homes and care
and other necessities go unfulfilled. It's time for a new direction!
First Nations have laid their claim and asserted
their sovereignty and right for a say and control over the way Mother
Earth is treated and her bounty distributed. They have affirmed their
right to meaningful consultation and consent for resource extraction on
their ancestral lands. Canadians from coast to coast
to coast have joined the people of the region in expressing their
concerns about the environmental degradation and pollution caused by
the methods the monopolies use in their operations.
The riding is also home to Athabasca University
and to local colleges that have been particularly hard hit by the
brutal cuts to post-secondary education funding, forcing layoffs of
staff and leaving people of the region deprived of educational programs
in their communities.
The candidate of the Harper dictatorship was first
past the post in the riding in the 2011 elections. This was
accomplished mainly through voter suppression resulting in a very low
voter turnout, about 41 per cent of registered voters.
taking into account the large number of workers not registered
to vote, the Conservatives were handed only 29 per cent of the vote. If
all the workers actually working in the riding were included, the
proportion voting for the Harperites would be much less.
Workers have come to Fort McMurray from all over
Canada in large measure because their own communities have been
devastated by the wrecking of manufacturing and refusal of the Harper
government to stop global monopolies from destroying the basic sectors
of the economy, claiming they can make whatever
"private business decisions" they like without restriction of a public
authority or the popular will of the people.
Defeating Harper in the heart of the oil sands
would be a fitting reply to Harper's nation-wrecking, assault on
rights, anti-worker low wage agenda, corruption and electoral fraud.
Can it be done? Let's begin by speaking with our
co-workers, our neighbours and friends. If we don't live in Fort
McMurray, we can still contribute to the discussion and we can involve
people from our unions, families and friends as well. Let's spread the
word that with so much at stake working people cannot
afford to sit this one out. Let's show that we workers are perfectly
capable of providing solutions to the problems facing us in our
economy, workplaces, communities and country. We can do so by using the
election to present our own independent politics for democratic renewal
and a new direction for the economy.
Let's resolve to organize for our political empowerment and use all our
assets to defeat Harper in Fort McMurray--Athabasca. It can be done!
The riding of Fort McMurray--Athabasca consists
of the northeastern portion of Alberta. It extends from the border with
the Northwest Territories, south through the regional municipality of
Wood Buffalo which includes Fort McMurray, south almost as far as
Elections Canada reports a population of 100,805,
with 76,298 registered voters.
Click to enlarge.
The municipal census completed in June 2012,
reports a total population of 116,407 for Wood Buffalo, of which 72,944
live in Fort McMurray and adjacent communities and 39,271 in work
camps. There are 4,192 people living in rural areas. This census shows
the large number of workers coming to the region
from across the country and all over the world to work in the oil
who have been turned into a migrant labour force living in camps.
Fort McMurray is know for its major industry, oil
sands mining and upgrading. Oil sands production of bitumen reached 1.8
million barrels/day in 2012, which is forecast to grow to 5.2 million
barrels per day by 2030. Most comes from the Athabasca oil sands in the
Fort McMurray area. Cold Lake also has
significant deposits of bitumen. In 2011, about 57 percent of crude
bitumen production was sent for upgrading to synthetic crude oil within
Alberta. There is also conventional oil, and significant natural gas
and forestry sectors.
The second largest municipality is Cold Lake, home
to CFB Cold Lake and the associated air weapons range, with a
population of 13,889. Other significant settlements include Slave Lake,
High Prairie, Lac La Biche, and Athabasca.
The riding is located on the traditional territory of
Treaty 8 First Nations, including the Athabasca Chipewyan, Beaver Lake
Cree, and Lubicon First Nations, who are fighting on the basis that
they have the right to decide the development that takes place on their
traditional territories, which includes consideration of the effects of
oil sands, natural gas and other development on their traditional
TML will provide more
information in coming weeks on the economy of Fort McMurray--Athabasca,
as well as the problems people are facing and the stands
they are taking.
1. Results of the 2011 Federal Election
Conservative: Brian Jean, 21,988 votes (71.84 per
New Democratic: Berend Wilting, 4,053 votes (13.24
Liberal: Karen Young, 3,230 votes (10.55 per cent)
Green: Julie Asterisk, 1,374 votes (4.49 per cent)
Total Turnout: 41 per cent
End the Anti-Social Temporary
Foreign Worker Program Now!
Alberta Federation of Labour Calls to End
Labour-Trafficking in a Manner that Respects Workers'
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) held a
press conference on May 15 to demand that the Temporary Foreign Worker
(TFWP) be ended in a manner that respects the rights of workers.
AFL President Gil McGowan, migrant workers' advocacy group Migrante
executive director Marco
Luciano and former temporary foreign worker Junniflor Magno addressed
the press conference. They discussed the abuses of the TFWP and called
for its ending in a manner that respects the rights
of all workers.
Activists involved in defending the rights of
workers have long said that temporary foreign workers currently working
in Canada are just as much victims of state-organized worker
trafficking and the Harper low wage agenda as Canadian workers who have
been directly displaced or in other ways affected by the
anti-social actions of the TFWP. When such an anti-worker law is
in place to drive down the wages, benefits and working conditions of
the working class, the rights of all workers are abused. Any worker
presently working in Canada should be accorded the full legal rights of
a permanent resident now, even
before this anti-social program is rightly ended.
An AFL statement on the issue says,
"The Harper government's Temporary Foreign Worker
(TFW) program is a train wreck. It should be scrapped and the
government should go back to the drawing board," Gil McGowan, AFL
president said. "But thousands and thousands of foreign workers now
face the prospect of deportation. Today, we want
to present the government with a modest proposal: close off all
low-wage streams of the TFWP going forward, but let the workers
who are in Canada already stay -- but let them stay as permanent
residents and citizens as opposed to disposable, exploitable guest
"This program morally diminishes us as a country
by creating a disenfranchised underclass of guest workers," McGowan
said. "The TFWP distorts and degrades the labour market, it puts
foreign workers in precarious positions. In the process, it displaces
Canadians from jobs and drives down wages for
all of us."
AFL President McGowan also announced that he had
written to Jason Kenney, Harper's minister in charge of the TFWP,
requesting a meeting to discuss the proposal to scrap the TFWP and
provide permanent resident status to all temporary foreign
workers who are now in Canada.
Edmonton Community Forum
Migrante organized a community forum in Edmonton on May
discuss the problems facing temporary foreign workers. Jason Kenney,
the Harper minister in charge of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
(TFWP), without concern for the thousands of temporary foreign workers
in Canada, announced a moratorium on new labour market opinions for the
restaurant and fast food industry. The moratorium has put temporary
foreign workers in an even more precarious position while doing nothing
to stem the international trafficking of workers and abuse of their
rights and the rights of Canadian
Migrante activists bring their demands to May Day in Edmonton.
The hall was filled with temporary foreign workers, as
Canadian workers and their union representatives, politicians,
community organizations and concerned people. Marco Luciano from the
organization Migrante opened the forum. There were 338,000 temporary
foreign workers in Canada
in 2012, he said. Permits are expiring this year for those who received
a two-year work permit in 2012 and many are affected by the moratorium
in the food services industry. These workers came to Canada with a
promise of citizenship, paying huge sums to brokers, and leaving their
families behind. They now find
themselves in legal limbo. The TFWP is really the privatization of
immigration, Luciano said, where people do not come to a country, but
to an employer, to Tim Hortons or McDonald's. A solution, he said, can
be found by enforcing the principle that migrant workers who are good
enough to work in Canada are
good enough to stay with full legal status.
Several migrant workers shared their experiences to
explain how they
are affected by the moratorium. One explained that she came to Canada
in 2008 and has an application pending for permanent residency under
the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program. But her work permit has expired
and no applications
under the Alberta program are being processed. She is now in legal
limbo, unable to work and unsure of her future. "We are human beings,
we are not disposable machines," she said.
Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of
explained how the Federation has reached the conclusion that the TFWP
abolished in a manner that respects the rights of workers. He detailed
the work of the AFL in advocating for temporary foreign workers. Its
investigations show that
the program is designed not to fill labour shortages but to drive down
wages for all workers. He said the AFL is calling on the Harper
government to close off the low-wage stream of the TFWP while
granting permanent residency to those already working in Canada.
Following a session to provide information for temporary
workers who are now facing an uncertain future, the floor was opened
for discussion of future strategy. During the information session,
Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta PC Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and
Labour and a potential candidate in the
Alberta PC leadership fight presented himself as the best friend of
temporary foreign workers. He told those present that he is no fan of
the TFWP and favours immigration, and offered
the services of his office to assist temporary foreign workers. In the
strategy session, his real motives became
clear as he tried to convince workers to place their faith in the very
state that is behind international worker trafficking and the low wage
austerity agenda. Lukaszuk launched a scurrilous attack on the working
class and its movement in defence of its rights. He accused everyone
who opposes the low-wage agenda, worker trafficking and
the TFWP, of telling Canadians that temporary foreign workers are
stealing their jobs. The real problem for Lukaszuk is the
exposure and resistance to the government's neo-liberal anti-social
offensive including its low-wage agenda, which is
accomplished in part through worker trafficking.
The unions and those in the community who are defending
of all workers and are organizing resistance to the anti-social
offensive are the people responsible for the moratorium and the plight
facing temporary foreign workers, he blustered. Lukaszuk told the
temporary foreign workers that what they
have to do is to convince Canadians that the TFWP is necessary and it
must be kept alive while making
improvements to eliminate "abuses."
This performance from Lukaszuk was
immediately denounced as a vile
attempt to blackmail temporary foreign workers to accept worker
trafficking and the denial of their rights. The working class upholds
its stand that Our Future Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!
and on this basis fights for
status for all. It does so based on its own thinking and organization.
Lukaszuk's demand that everyone accept this arrangement akin to modern
day slave trading denies that all people have rights by
virtue of being human. Lukaszuk's brazen intervention shows the extent
to which the representatives of imperialist
globalization will go to pit worker against worker to pursue their
attacks on rights and a neo-liberal, low-wage austerity agenda.
The Alberta PC government is a leading proponent and
of the low wage austerity agenda and has launched violent and extremist
attacks on the
rights of public sector workers and others. For Lukaszuk to present
himself or the PC government as
a friend to any section of the working class is a cruel joke. As was
pointed out at the forum, five years ago the Alberta PC government
admitted that 75 per cent of employers using temporary foreign workers
inspected by the Employment Standards Branch were violating Employment
Standards. This proved without
a doubt that such violations are the rule and not the exception, yet
the PCs took no action against these employers. Instead, Lukaszuk
comes to a community forum to plead that workers should accept and even
advocate for the abuse to continue. The Alberta PC government along
with the Harper/Kenney dictators
are guilty of worker trafficking and depriving workers of their rights
and must be held to account!
Many people at the forum came forward to join a working
which Canadian and temporary foreign workers together can take a stand
for the rights of all. The meeting ended with a resounding chorus of
"good enough to work, good enough to stay."
Excerpts of Alberta Federation
of Labour Letter to
Jason Kenney, Minister in Charge of
"grandfathering" for TFWs already in
Over the past two weeks, many business groups
been pressuring you to lift the moratorium on the use of Temporary
Foreign Workers (TFWs) in the food service sector. From our
perspective, this would be a mistake because the evidence clearly shows
that the program is displacing Canadians, driving down
wages and distorting the Canadian labour market. If anything, we think
that the moratorium should be extended to all other low-wage streams of
the TFWP -- and made permanent.
However, while we think that the TFWP
should be scrapped in its current form, we feel strongly that something
needs to be done to help the thousands and thousands of TFWs who are
already in the country. These workers have done nothing wrong. They
came to our country in good faith and with high
hopes. They are just as much victims of bad public policy as the
Canadians who have been displaced by the program whose wages have been
suppressed. With this in mind, I would like to make a proposal: we
think your government should close off all low-wage streams of the TFWP
going forward, but
let the foreign workers who are already in Canada stay. Most
importantly, we believe these workers should be granted permanent
residency and eventually citizenship. As permanent residents or
citizens, these workers will have full mobility rights within the
Canadian labour market, meaning it will be much more
difficult for employers to use them as pawns to drive down wages and
conditions on individual worksites or across sectors of the economy.
For your information, I'm attaching a copy of a
recent statement from the AFL on your department's Moratorium on TFWs
in the food service sector. I am also formally requesting a meeting
with you so we can discuss the AFL's proposal for "grandfathering" TFWs
who are already in the country. Given the fact
that so many TFWs are currently being let go as a result of the
moratorium and are facing the prospect of deportation, I would like to
have this conversation with you sooner rather than later.
President, Alberta Federation of Labour
Leaders at Harvard and University of Alberta
Why Select Kim Campbell to Head U of A's New
The administration of the University of Alberta
has chosen former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, to head the university's
Peter Lougheed Leadership College (PLLC). The U of A
announced the plan to create a Leadership College in September 2013 and
has been strongly pushing it over a number
of objections by students and staff. The stated aim of the PLLC is to
groom a select group of students to take up leadership roles in the
society. The program aims to "mentor our young leaders and inspire them
to use their talents with the kind of energy, vision and integrity
exemplified by Peter Lougheed."
Peter Lougheed was Premier of Alberta from 1971 to
1985. This fabled Lougheed Era was far from being the people's
as implied by some commentators. In fact, the main features of this
period in Alberta were union busting, anti-worker legislation and
repeated attacks on the rights of workers who fought
back on every front, as well as the accelerated sellout of our energy
resources to the foreign monopolies.
The appointment of Kim Campbell raises the
question as to why she was selected over others. It is true that she
and the current U of A president have a common connection with
University of British Columbia and both UBC and U of A have already
granted Campbell the usual honorary degrees for service to
the monopolies. However, from a bourgeois point of view Campbell's
leadership credentials are abysmal. In 1986, she ran for leadership of
the BC Social Credit Party and placed last of 14 candidates. She was
Prime Minister of Canada for slightly over four months in 1993, the
shortest term in history. Since Parliament
never sat during her term, she was unable to bring forth any new
legislation, which must be formally introduced in Parliament. The
landslide defeat of her government in October 1993 reduced the
Progressive Conservatives to two seats, the worst defeat ever suffered
by a federal governing party, paving the way for
the Harper-led Reform/Alliance takeover of the Progressive Conservative
Party in 2003. A
survey of Canadian historians in 2011 ranked Campbell as dead last out
of the first 22 Prime Ministers of Canada.
More significant in understanding Campbell's
appointment to lead the PLLC is what she has been involved in since her
brief term as Prime Minister. After the 1993 defeat of her government,
she took a position at Harvard University in the U.S. where she became
a fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government,
a well-known training ground for agents of U.S. imperialism.
joining Harvard, Campbell has been deeply involved with a large number
of U.S.-dominated international organizations, which feign
support for democracy and human rights to attempt to bring
about "soft" coups to install U.S.-friendly
regimes in "uncooperative" countries. Two recent examples are the
failed "orange revolution" in Ukraine in 2004 and the successful
electoral coup in Honduras in 2009. The U.S. front groups in these
attacks on sovereign countries are part of the "velvet glove" which,
under a thick cover of disinformation, partner
with the "iron fist" of U.S. military aggression in the U.S. quest for
world domination. Two typical examples of these groups are the World
Movement for Democracy and the International Crisis Group.
Campbell is currently Chair of the U.S.
imperialist front group, the World Movement for Democracy (WMD). The
WMD Secretariat is located at the headquarters of the Washington,
DC-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The fact that NED is
endorsed by ultra-reactionary think tanks such as
the Koch Brothers' Heritage Foundation reveals NED's true colours.
Since NED's founding in the early 1980s, its funds have been used to
fund counter-revolutionary groups and activities in countries such as
Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Venezuela, to name just a few. According to
U.S. historian Alan Weinstein, who
helped draft the legislation that created NED, "A lot of what [the NED
does] today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."
The founding statement for WMD includes as one of
its aims, "to bolster pro-democracy groups in countries that have not
yet entered into a process of democratic transition." This aim is
blatant interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations to
block the development of any independent politics based on
a nation's own thought material, history, social class makeup and the
understanding that is gained from conscious participation. Another
aspect of WMD's founding statement declares that it seeks to "improve
protection for human rights and the rule of law." Most would see this
aim as ludicrous given that the U.S.
is the biggest serial violator of human rights and the rule of law in
the entire world.
Campbell has also served as a board member of the
International Crisis Group (ICG), founded in 1995. The ICG is a
U.S.-NATO front group, which includes a number of diplomats from the
U.S. and NATO countries in its governing structures. The current
is former U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political
Affairs, Thomas Pickering. Billionaire George Soros, main financier of
the phony Human Rights Watch organization and one of the major backers
of "colour revolutions," provided seed money for ICG and is on its
board of directors. The guiding principle of ICG is "humanitarian
intervention," which attempts to
use "humanitarianism" as a cover for naked armed aggression such as the
NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the invasion of Libya. Recently the ICG
released a threatening report intimating that the government of
Maduro in Venezuela might suffer "unpredictable, possibly violent
consequences" if it did not
audit the election results that gave Maduro victory. Totally exposing
its true nature, the ICG has given its "Pursuit of Peace" award to such
well-known war criminals as George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton.
Nothing good can come out of a process
that attempts to create "leaders" in isolated privileged colleges such
as the PLLC: "True leaders are not 'mighty' individuals cultivated as
Queen Bees to lead the masses by their noses. Such Queen Bees receive
fame and fortune from the ruling circles and become honoured members of
the privileged class the more they trample on the rights of the people."
With the appointment of Kim Campbell as head of
the PLLC it becomes clearer what the main content of the cultivation of
these "Queen Bees" will be. They will be trained to become anti-people
elements who use the name of democracy to try to implement
anti-democratic actions and policies that undermine
all those who wish to uphold the sovereignty of their own nations and
who wish to exercise their right to determine their own destiny, free
from imperialist interference. This will not pass.
As TML points out, "True
leaders who lead and inspire the collective are never developed in
isolation from their peers. They are steeled and educated in battle
through placing themselves in the middle of the struggles of the
workers, women, Aboriginal peoples, students, seniors, and all those
for their rights and for a nation-building project in opposition to
1. "Lougheed Leadership Legacy Is Anti-Worker and
Pro-Sellout," TML Daily, February 20, 2014 - No.
2. To give one example, since 1957 the Central
Intelligence Agency has funded a program on Intelligence and Policy at
the Kennedy School. General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA
became a senior fellow at the Kennedy in 2013. To give another example,
Leopoldo López who, for more than ten years has been leading the
pro-U.S. forces in Venezuela that have been trying to overthrow the
elected Chávez and Maduro governments, was trained at the
3. Other similar organizations, which Campbell has
been involved with, in some cases as a founding member, include: Arab
Democracy Foundation, Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education,
International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political
Violence, Asia Society of New York, Club de Madrid,
EastWest International Institute on Preventive Democracy, Middle Powers
Initiative, and Pacific Council on International Policy.
4. Washington Post,
September 22, 1991. Cited in William Blum, Rogue State: A
Guide to the World's Only Superpower (2000), 180.
5. Campbell is also significantly connected with
the Ukrainian oligarchs. She was the founding Chair of the
International Advisory Board of the Ukrainian Foundation for Effective
Governance, an NGO formed in September 2007 by billionaire Rinat
6. "Lougheed Leadership Legacy Is Anti-Worker and
Pro-Sellout," TML Daily, February 20, 2014 - No.
Note to Readers
TML Daily was not published the week of May
19-23 and TML Weekly was not published on May 24. Both resume
publication as of this week. The TML Daily supplement Ontario
Political Forum will continue to be published daily during the