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May 26, 2014 - No. 56

Organize for the People's Empowerment!

Federal By-Elections -- Defeat Harper's Nation-Wrecking Austerity Agenda!

Organize for the People's Empowerment!
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!
Alberta Federation of Labour Calls 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

Cultivating 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 Readers

Organize for the People's Empowerment!

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), Scarborough--Agincourt (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. 

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Discussion of a Pro-Social Agenda and
New Direction 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 region 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 the rich.

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 not 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.[1] Even without 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!

For Your Information

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 Edmonton.

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 sands, 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 territories.

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 cent)
New Democratic: Berend Wilting, 4,053 votes (13.24 per cent)
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

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End the Anti-Social Temporary Foreign Worker Program Now!

Alberta Federation of Labour Calls to End Labour-Trafficking in a Manner that Respects Workers' Rights

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 workers."

"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.

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Edmonton Community Forum

Migrante organized a community forum in Edmonton on May 17 to 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 presently 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 workers.

Contingent of Migrante activists bring their demands to May Day in Edmonton.

The hall was filled with temporary foreign workers, as well 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 Labour (AFL), explained how the Federation has reached the conclusion that the TFWP must be 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 foreign 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 the rights 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 active advocate 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 group in 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."

(Photos: Migrante Canada)

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Excerpts of Alberta Federation of Labour Letter to
Jason Kenney, Minister in Charge of
Temporary Foreign Workers' Program

Re: Proposing "grandfathering" for TFWs already in the country

Over the past two weeks, many business groups have 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.


Gil McGowan
President, Alberta Federation of Labour

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Cultivating Imperialist Leaders at Harvard and University of Alberta

Why Select Kim Campbell to Head U of A's New Leadership College?

The administration of the University of Alberta has chosen former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, to head the university's new 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 "Camelot" 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.[1]

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.[2] Since 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.[3]

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."[4]

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 chairman 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 Nicolás 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.[5]

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."[6]

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 fighting for their rights and for a nation-building project in opposition to imperialism."[7]


1. "Lougheed Leadership Legacy Is Anti-Worker and Pro-Sellout," TML Daily, February 20, 2014 - No. 16.

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 Kennedy School.

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 Akhmetov.

6. "Lougheed Leadership Legacy Is Anti-Worker and Pro-Sellout," TML Daily, February 20, 2014 - No. 16.

7. Ibid.

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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 provincial election.

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