4, 2014 - No. 70
Workers Continue Opposition to
Anti-Social Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Scrap the Temporary Foreign Worker Program! Rights
and Status for All!
Continue Opposition to Anti-Social Temporary Foreign Worker Program
• Scrap the Temporary
Foreign Worker Program! Rights and Status for All!
• Organize for the New!
• Defend the Pensions We
Have! Fight for Pensions for All!
• Discussion on Pensions
Conservative Leadership Race
• Bogus Election of New
• PC Leadership Race Shows
Need for Democratic Renewal - Peggy Morton
• Who Is Jim Prentice?
Fight to Keep
Michener Centre in Red Deer Open
• Prevent Further Tragedies
-- Stop Moving Michener Residents!
- Peggy Askin
Workers Continue Opposition to
Anti-Social Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Scrap the Temporary Foreign Worker Program!
Rights and Status for All!
Workers from the building trades and
sections, temporary foreign workers and their allies organized actions
in Edmonton on Labour Day. They raised the demand to stop Harper's low
wage agenda and give status and rights to all workers.
The politicians of the rich
continue to conjure up
a labour shortage as pretext for worker trafficking. In an editorial
board meeting with the Edmonton Sun on August 13,
provincial PC leadership contender Jim Prentice said the federal
changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program "is the biggest
issue on the ground" in Alberta and the province needs to have a
discussion with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Prentice joined another candidate, Thomas Lukaszuk,
in calling for a "made-in-Alberta" approach, which would expand the
provincial nominee program. The third candidate, Ric McIver, also
claims that Alberta faces a labour shortage.
Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan
responded, "There is no worker shortage in Alberta, unless
you mean a shortage of workers who are willing to be underpaid,
exploited and deported the moment they're no longer of use to an
According to the politicians
of the rich, a "made
in Alberta" solution would mean expansion of the provincial nominee
program whereby workers must be nominated by their employers for
permanent residency status. This is presented as a "win-win" solution:
employers decide who will remain in Canada while
some temporary foreign workers, who face the choice of deportation or
staying in Canada as undocumented workers after living and working in
Canada for years, will have a chance at permanent residency.
How can this be the choice? Expansion of the
provincial nominee program in no way changes the reality that the
monopolies have a gun to the head of temporary foreign workers. This is
precisely the situation the monopolies want and why the TFWP exists in
the first place. Creation of a vulnerable stratum of
workers has always been the preferred policy of the rich in order to
attack that stratum and extend it to an attack on the rights of all.
Expansion of the provincial nominee program is
part of the restructuring of the state, where immigration becomes the
preserve of the monopolies and not the public authority, which is
effectively sidelined. It shows the extent to which governments are
under direct dictate of the most powerful monopolies and
private interests have been politicized.
These politicians of the rich are trying to divide
workers and pit worker against worker. The virulently anti-worker
Thomas Lukaszuk did exactly that in a forum organized by Migrante,
where he accused the organized workers' movement of blaming temporary
foreign workers for "stealing their jobs" and presented
himself as a friend of temporary foreign workers.
The Workers' Opposition exposes this nonsense and
puts the blame squarely where it belongs, on the global monopolies and
the governments that serve them. The Workers' Opposition answers with
its stand, "Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!"
Through organizing to defend the rights of all,
the working class can and must defeat the divide-and-rule tactics of
Rights and Status for All!
Organize for the New!
The call to end theTemporary Foreign Worker Program and
grant permanent residency to temporary foreign workers now
working in Canada is a just stand. All employers who hire temporary
foreign workers through labour traffickers who charge temporary foreign
workers as much as $10,000 should be forced
to repay in full the money workers have paid to the wage-slave traders!
The Harper government's
operation is integral to its low-wage agenda. Resistance to this
assault on workers' rights requires new thinking and ways of
organizing. In the building trades, union membership has been reduced
from 80 per cent to less than 20 per cent, while workers in sectors
as fast food are almost completely unorganized. The idea that the
building trades unions can survive and thrive based on protecting their
"market share" has been shown to be old thinking and totally
ineffective. Employers have used the anti-worker organization CLAC, and
governments have intervened with labour
laws and dictates to carry out union-busting. The Harper government has
expanded the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, deprived even more
workers of EI benefits, especially in regions where the local economy
has been destroyed, and used other means to pursue its low wage agenda
and wreck the workers' movement
in defence of their interests and rights.
us not sell ourselves short with old thinking, traditions and forms
that clearly no longer meet today's challenges. The defence of the
rights of all within the present conditions, renews and develops the
forms required by a collective workers' opposition at every work site
and in the community. It gives rise to the social forms, thinking and
practical politics which favour the resolution of problems in the
workers' favour. Our future lies in defending the rights of all!
Security in Retirement an Important Agenda
Defend the Pensions We Have!
Fight for Pensions
During the summer months, workers in Alberta
continued to be active in defence of their pensions and the right to
security in retirement. More than 150 workers made presentations
to the Standing Committee on Alberta's Economic Future
during public hearings held in June across Alberta. In addition, 458
individuals and organizations made written submissions. The vast
majority of these were from workers, seniors' organizations and
occupational groups representing plan members. They called on the
to scrap Bill 9, the Public
Sector Pension Plans Amendment Act, 2014 and Bill 10, the Employment
2014 which attack workers' right to security in retirement.
Workers also called on the Alberta government
to take action to provide retirement security for all.
turned out in record numbers for public hearings on pensions across
The Standing Committee will report to the Legislature
during the fall session, which begins October 27. The
Alberta Labour Coalition on Pensions is urging everyone to keep the
pressure on MLAs in preparation for the fall session. In its August 28
message, the Coalition said, "Let them know that you and other
voters in your area will not allow your elected representatives to
abdicate their responsibility to protect Albertans' best interests.
That means defending pensions."
The next several months are also an excellent time
to sum up the pension fight to date and set a future course.
The assault on pensions is based on a profound
shift where even the limited conception that governments have some
social responsibility towards the members of society no longer exists.
The rich are demanding that everyone submit to their perverse and
twisted capital-centred logic that because many workers
have no security in retirement whatsoever, public sector workers who do
have modest pensions should be deprived of them. According to the rich,
if everyone is forced to fend for themselves, life will be fine. The
rich of course are not included in the "everyone," as they demand that
all the resources of society must
be put at their disposal, including plundering the state treasury for
their private gain.
Workers have come forward in these conditions to
defend with passion the pensions they have and have forced the
government to retreat for the moment. But a temporary government
retreat does not mean that the situation simply reverts to the old
status quo. The government's retreat means business as usual which
means it will continue to find the ways and means to restructure the
state to achieve what it wants -- to put its hands on workers' pension
The financial oligarchy is intent on wrecking pensions and the modern
conception that security in retirement is a right. The government has
shown in practice with its anti-worker bills against the public sector
that it is fully prepared to replace negotiations with force and
violence. The government's willingness to impose its dictate in
opposition to the established norms shows that the situation facing the
working people has undergone a seismic shift. The working class has
risen to the occasion by defending its rights. It must now go
further so that it can move all of society forward on the basis of its
own pro-social agenda. Eventually, it must empower the popular will so
that this popular will becomes de
facto the legal will as well.
Discussion on Pensions
One of the important features of the pension
is that in defending their pensions, workers have come forward to
affirm the modern definition that security in retirement is a right.
The demand for pensions and security in retirement for all is a
reflection of the new based on fighting for a society that guarantees
the rights of all by virtue of being human.
wide-open discussion of pensions is needed. A
starting point would be to consider from where pension benefits should
come. Under current conditions of low interest rates and the ongoing
impact of the financial meltdown of 2008, pension funds like the Local
Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) and Public
Service Pension Plan (PSPP) have had to increase the contribution rate
plan members. Not all can afford the increased contribution while
continuing their standard of living, especially if they are forced to
accept a part-time position. The government has turned more and more
jobs into part-time, and those with low full-time equivalencies are not
even eligible to join the pension plan. The result of increased
part-time work, stagnant wages and other factors has been a growing
number of workers not joining the plans because of difficulties in
making ends meet in the present. This further weakens the plans and
deprives those workers opting out of even the nominal security
provided by the plans' defined-benefits.
Everyone in society is bombarded with the idea
that they should be saving for retirement, buying RRSPs and so on,
instead of having the collective resources of the economy channelled
into providing security in retirement for all. But capital-centred
propaganda cannot change the reality that individual savings
can never provide retirement security for the majority of workers.
Forcing savings on individual workers is one way the monopolies and
their governments shift money away from working people into the coffers
of the rich, depress workers' income in the present, and
negate modern society's responsibility
towards all its members.
Why should it be the case that retirement security
is funded through individual means and savings? This method is contrary
to the socialized economy where working people work collectively to
produce the value on which everyone and society depends. Individual
means and savings for retirement can only end
in individual disasters and horror stories. Workers certainly would not
agree that health care should be funded in this retrogressive manner.
They uphold the modern definition that health care is a right belonging
to all people regardless of personal circumstances, for which society
is duty bound to provide. Retirement
security should be put on a par with free comprehensive public health
An alternative would be for government guaranteed
pension benefits for all to come out of general revenue collected from
companies based on their gross income. In such a situation, government,
company and individual pension plans would not be necessary. The
government in practice would guarantee the right
of Canadians to defined pension benefits at a standard of living they
attained during their working lives with an established minimum. Let's
For further discussion see DBRS
Neo-Liberal Study of Defined-Benefit Pension Plans by K.C.
Adams in TML Weekly, September
22, 2012 and October
Conservative Leadership Race
Bogus Election of New Premier
The winner of the PC leadership race will soon be
decided, with predictions of one to two per cent of the polity's
voters casting a ballot. The winner automatically becomes the Premier
of Alberta. Voting will take place on September 5 and 6 with results
announced on September 6 at 5:00 pm. If no candidate
receives more than 50 per cent of the votes cast on the first ballot,
the top two candidates will compete in a second ballot vote on
The PC Party has chosen three candidates to
for election as leader and Premier: Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk,
Calgary MLA Ric McIver, and former cabinet minister in the Harper
government and Senior-Vice President of CIBC Bank Jim Prentice. The
media have declared Prentice the front-runner.
He has the support of almost all members of the PC caucus, while no
member of caucus has endorsed the other candidates.
The leadership contest itself is designed to
reveal nothing about what is at stake. One of the main methods is to
present endless details about the lavish spending habits and records of
the PC MLAs, especially the cabinet ministers and the contenders for
leader of the PC party. Plenty of material of this sort keeps
official news stories churning, together with the stock in trade of
gossip and innuendo.
Trivia is used as a form of disinformation, where
people are subjected to endless news about the size of a cell phone
bill or cost of a hotel room and travel. Who was going where and for
what purpose is not discussed. The monopoly media and legislative
opposition parties incite everyone to join the chatter about
such matters as a government MLA's large bill for travel or living
expenses. But where is the accounting of how many billions of dollars
the oil and gas cartels, construction monopolies and others have
plundered from the $44 billion provincial budget or the billions more
in profits they have siphoned off from the
value Alberta workers have produced? These matters regarding the basic
accounting of the wealth workers produce is not even considered
newsworthy. They are even considered state or company secrets and off
limit for the workers who produce the wealth in the first place and for
the people from whose land the
wealth is extracted.
The trivia diverts official news from looking for
and exposing the source of corruption, which lies in the outmoded
relations of production, the destruction of the public authority and
the complete takeover of government by the most powerful monopolies
whose private interests are politicized and served.
Disinformation is also used to create the
impression that waste in government spending is the problem. An
atmosphere of government spending "beyond its means" is generated to
push an anti-social austerity agenda. If only politicians would
practice "austerity" when it comes to their expense accounts and other
spending, the people are told, this would set a good example of the
need to accept the austerity agenda generally, with wrecking of social
programs and public services as the target.
Issues of deep concern to the people, including
public health care, education, a new direction for the economy, and
protection of the environment are barely discussed or dismissed with
general questions such as, "where do the candidates stand on health
care," which can be easily swallowed up in broad declarations
or deflected with attacks on what others say. All this underlines how
the people are disempowered and reinforces their disengagement from
politics and political life, which is exactly what the ruling elite
The issue of course is what to do under the
circumstances. We can start by taking stock of what we know. We know
that this manner of electing the new Premier of Alberta confers him no
legitimacy whatsoever. Despite handing out free membership cards which
allegedly provide every Albertan the chance to elect the new Premier,
it is a thoroughly bogus process which in no way gauges the popular
will to confer on it a legitimate legal will. This means that sooner or
later calls will be given for another general election. But then the
electoral process has become so self-serving and bogus that it too is
not seen to legitimately gauge the popular will and turn it into the
legal will. But nonetheless, the charade is repeated over and over
again. All of it leads to disengagement from politics because there is,
in fact, no political movement except the one the working people
create. This is not merely a matter of protesting unjust politics but
organizing to discuss a pro-social agenda for Alberta and to present
candidates in the next election which represent those pro-social
solutions to the problems people face. The fight for the affirmation of
rights of all, and to elaborate and push forward a program for renewal
of the political process is the only path which will yield the kinds of
results the people are looking for. This is the battle for people's
empowerment. Breaking through the disinformation and diversions, and
raising the real issues facing society are the first steps towards
empowerment. They are ways to cut through the spin and counter-spin of
the media and professional politicians of the rich so as to develop the
independent politics of the working people. This can be done by
creating social forms which defend this new content and help it to find
its place. The fight for the democratic renewal of the political
process is a central part of the work required to stop Canada's
destruction and integration into the United States of North American
Monopolies and its plans to take Canada toward enslavement and war.
PC Leadership Race Shows Need for
In Canada, political parties are said to be the
mechanism through which people participate in political affairs.
According to the system of representative democracy, the dominant
political parties function as primary political organizations through
which people can participate in deciding the direction
The reality is very different, as can be seen from
the Alberta PC leadership race. The usual estimate for membership in
political parties in Canada today is about one per cent of the
electorate. Not only is the number of people joining the political
parties who hold seats in the legislatures and Parliament at an
all-time low, but also, nominal membership has little
if anything to do with actively participating in politics.
These cartel parties need money, not members per
se. One remaining function of membership is to carry out the
exercise of electing a leader of a party, although the Alberta Liberals
were desperate enough to allow even supporters to vote to provide an
appearance of a mass base.
After 43 years in power, in which membership in the PCs was considered
a necessary cost of doing business, the PCs are reduced to handing out
free memberships and blocks of membership cards, as each candidate
lines up his voting cattle and does whatever is needed to bring out the
vote. In the
past, blocks of thousands of membership cards were bought up by
organizations, while in 2014, candidates are simply giving away
Come election time, members are asked to get out
the vote but they are increasingly being supplanted by the use of
sophisticated data bases, micro-targeting of voters and so on. None of
this activity can be considered participation in political affairs. The
ordinary nominal member of a cartel
party is as marginalized as any other member of the polity when it
comes to having a say.
Whether it is a leadership contest or general
election, everything is organized so that no public opinion can develop
and no discussion takes place. For example, the entire program
presented on Jim Prentice's website, entitled "Jim's priorities for
Alberta" consists of five trite phrases totalling 43
words. This from a man who has been making long speeches all
over the country giving marching orders to governments on behalf of the
owners of capital of the banks, oil, gas, construction and other
monopolies. That the tawdry process to elect a new PC leader produces
as well a new Premier
of Alberta leaves no doubt of the need for renewal of the political
Once the new leader is installed as Premier, the
winner will assume broad executive or arbitrary power. The Alberta
government has been particularly active in using its wrecking-ball to
serve the narrow private interests of the monopolies. Regulatory
regimes to protect workers and peoples' health
and the environment, unions and the post-war labour relations systems,
public institutions including hospitals, universities, colleges and
school boards, municipal authorities, independent regulatory bodies of
any kind are being muzzled, curtailed or even destroyed.
A farcical election within a party to produce a
Premier or a general election to decide which party will rule on behalf
of private monopoly interests does not provide legitimacy to the
Premier or government. They do not serve to convert the popular will
into the legal will. During elections, highly
sophisticated databases, marketing techniques, endless polling and so
on are used to manipulate the electorate. This was the case in the last
Alberta election when hysteria was created about a possible Wildrose
victory and many who considered voting against the government because
of its attacks
on workers were stampeded into voting for the PCs.
The aim of the PCs and other dominant parties is
to come to power by any means necessary and in doing so block the
people from exercising power. Everything is geared to winning power at
all costs, and wielding this power on behalf of the most powerful
monopoly interests. Competing private
monopoly interests and groupings vie for control of the state, to use
its legislative power and to plunder the state treasury to advance
their private narrow interests. As everyone knows, in Alberta the
private monopoly interests that wield the power are the Calgary-based
oil and gas cartels merged
with the banks as finance capital.
new form has been brought into being to affirm the right of the people
to take control of their lives. It is the citizenship committee in
which people directly participate in setting the agenda of work which
serves their interests and in carrying it out and holding themselves to
account. This is the form which does not permit corruption and hidden
agendas and it must be implanted and strengthened in every work place,
neighbourhood and educational institution. Working people of Alberta,
who hail from all over Canada and the world, are very capable of
running a modern society. The people, not the political parties must
wield power, and political power must represent all human beings who
are members of the society, not just a privileged few who abuse their
power to trample on the rights of all and serve their narrow private
interests. Democratic Renewal is the call of the times!
Who Is Jim Prentice?
The monopoly media have declared Jim Prentice the
front-runner in the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leadership
race. Prentice, a former member of the Harper federal Cabinet has been
extremely active in presenting the agenda of the Alberta-BC based oil
and gas cartels, construction
monopolies and banks with which they are merged.
As Senior Vice-President of CIBC, Prentice toured
the country speaking of what governments should be doing to serve these
monopolies and help them come out on top over their competitors. When
he refers to Canada, he means in particular the monopolies heavily
invested in the oil sands
and natural gas fracking plays in BC and Alberta. More generally, he
speaks about a Canada completely annexed into the United States of
North American Monopolies.
The state agenda Prentice is pushing boils down to
three imperatives for the monopolies. Firstly, access to markets for
oil and gas; secondly, building the infrastructure necessary to rip
and ship the raw material of Alberta and BC; and thirdly, the sell-out
of resources through increased foreign
Prentice presents a key to markets as securing a
North American regulatory framework for environmental, transportation
and other standards, where Canada aligns itself completely with the
United States. His agenda aims to put the monopolies operating in North
America on top in the ever
increasing competition with other global monopolies. Such an agenda
seeks domination and dictate over the entire world with predatory and
inter-imperialist war an integral weapon.
TML will provide additional
information next week on "Who Is Jim Prentice?" Stay tuned!
Fight to Keep the Michener Centre in Red
Prevent Further Tragedies --
Stop Moving Michener
of residents of Michener Centre, staff,
and the people of Red Deer and surrounding communities were shocked 17
months ago when the Alberta government announced the closure
of Michener Centre. Michener Centre is a home and community for
adults, many of whom are seniors. The Alberta government had repeatedly
promised the families that Michener Centre would remain open, yet the
announcement to close Michener came without any consultation with
residents' families or staff. Part of the government's plans for
closure of this award-winning facility is a transition process of
moving residents to private
group homes in the community or to seniors' facilities.
Lee Kvern from the Friends of
Centre speaking during a protest outside the Alberta Tory policy
conference in Edmonton on May 25, 2013.
From the time of the announced closure of
Michener, families have raised their concerns that moving their family
members would result in a dangerous deterioration of their health and
well-being. The government and its transition team have also been told
that keeping the same caregivers and
level of care and compassion the residents receive at Michener is
critical to their well-being and to their very survival.
Some of the families have spoken with the
transition team to find other options. Their concerns about moving
their family members, many elderly and in frail health were
tragically warranted. Five residents who have been transferred out of
private nursing homes or seniors homes
have died in the last four months. The families and friends of Michener
are demanding that not one more resident be moved out of Michener until
a full investigation of these deaths is completed.
In a letter posted on the Friends of Michener
Centre Facebook page, Lee Kvern, Michener Guardian and advocate spoke
about the deaths.
"Hello Michener Families and Guardians:
You may or may not be aware of the five recent
Michener residents who have died as a result of being transitioned out
of Michener. Despite this the PC government is standing behind the
closure, will not put a halt to these transitions that are likely
hastening the early death of our Michener
loved ones. The closure date for Michener is December, which means the
Transition Team will be pushing hard and strong to make this happen.
"Over these next four months we need to stand
strong, refuse any and all contact with the transition team no matter
what they are telling you. As witnessed by these five deaths that the
government is citing 'natural causes' for, we know that this is not the
case. Either the Michener residents were
in fragile health prior to being moved and should not have been moved,
or the care on the other end is NOT Equal or the Same care as Michener.
We are far better to take our chances at Michener than to move our
loved ones out into a community away that cannot care for them. Our
have been realized by these fives recent deaths."
Since March 2013, the Families and Friends of
Michener have mobilized the people of Red Deer, the surrounding areas
and across the province behind the demand to Keep Michener Open! More
than 30,000 Albertans have signed petitions, written letters and
participated in rallies demanding
that Michener Centre stay open to guarantee the quality care its
vulnerable residents need.
In opposition to the anti-social actions of the
government, the broad mobilization of people to Keep Michener Open has
raised the demand that the needs of the residents must take first
place, and the government must be held to account for its failure to do
so. People have rights by virtue of
being human. People with development disabilities have the right to
everything they require to live life to the fullest, and governments
are responsible to provide this right with a guarantee.
This ongoing fight to uphold the rights of
Michener residents and their families, and to have a say in their
future is part of the fight Albertans are waging for the people's
empowerment, and to say No! to the use of dictate, and No! to the
fraudulent austerity and privatization agenda of the federal
and provincial governments.
The government must abandon its anti-people agenda
and take up its social responsibilities not only towards the residents
of Michener Centre but to all those in Alberta who require special care
to affirm their being. There must be no place in our society for
arrangements designed for private
profit instead of the benefit of those who require such care. All
people with development disabilities have a right to the exemplary care
that the residents of Michener receive and should continue to receive.
All should be able to live in a humane atmosphere such as Michener,
where the staff and
surroundings convey profound social love and care of the residents.