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September 9, 2014 - No. 71

New Alberta Premier Proclaimed

No Time to Wait and See! Organize to Defeat the Neo-Liberal, Anti-Social and Anti-Worker Agenda of the Rich!

New Alberta Premier Proclaimed
No Time to Wait and See! Organize to Defeat the Neo-Liberal, Anti-Social and Anti-Worker Agenda of the Rich!
Jim Prentice: Champion of the United States of North American Monopolies - Peggy Morton

End Colonial Justice!
Treaty 8 First Nations Step Up Fight to Affirm Human, Constitutional and Treaty Rights -- Alberta Bill 22 Has to Go!

Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!
Stop the Layoffs at Shepherd's Care in Edmonton!
Shepherd's Care Foundation and the Issue of Value

New Alberta Premier Proclaimed

No Time to Wait and See!
Organize to Defeat the Neo-Liberal, Anti-Social and Anti-Worker Agenda of the Rich!

The ruling elite anointed Jim Prentice as the Premier-designate of Alberta following his win in the provincial Progressive Conservatives' leadership race on September 6. In the vote, in which 23,396 PC members participated, Prentice received 17,963 votes, or about 77 per cent, Calgary MLA Ric McIver followed with 2,742 votes, while Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk received 2,681 votes. The election was the lowest turnout of voters since the PCs replaced leadership conventions with voting open to anyone who takes out a PC membership. The number dipped even lower than the "worst case scenario" predictions of the monopoly media.

The election of a premier-designate took place following a year in which the working people were very active in organizing to defend their rights and rights of all. Public sector workers and their unions spearheaded the campaign to defend their pensions and fight for the right to security in retirement for all. Workers and their allies stood firm against the shock-and-awe attack of the PC Redford government of Bills 45 and 46, which aimed to impose collective agreements on public service workers through force. The action of the government to use force in place of negotiations was met with stiff resistance and determination not to permit this all-out assault on rights to succeed. First Nations are waging a determined fight to defend their hereditary, treaty and constitutional rights and are demanding the repeal of Bill 22, the Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act which negates First Nations' right to exercise control over their reserve lands. People from many sectors have organized opposition to the wrecking of social programs and supports for the most vulnerable, the attacks on public health care and education.

The past year left no doubt that the Battle for Alberta and Canada are on, a battle to defend the rights of all, for the people's empowerment and democratic renewal so that the working people can set a new direction for the economy and gain control over those social and political matters that affect their lives.

The PC leadership race took place in a self-serving reality of the ruling elite, a capital-centred world that recognizes no other right but monopoly right. The efforts of previous leadership contests to claim some legitimacy for the crowning of the new premier were essentially abandoned, showing the extent to which the present process has been discredited beyond repair. The Alberta PC Party made virtually no attempt to engage Albertans in the leadership race unlike the previous one where it was even said that labour had formed a coalition with Redford and big pressure was exerted on the workers' movement to defend their interests by participating in the sordid affair of the rich.

This time, the preoccupation was to install a premier with as little fanfare as possible who the ruling elite hopes will be more effective in addressing the agenda of the oil and gas monopolies and banks with which they are merged. The monopolies with major interests in the oil sands and shale gas and oil in BC and Alberta have been sounding the alarm that governments must put all their resources into disarming the people’s opposition and realizing their demands. These include pipelines to move bitumen to the west coast and then to Asia and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals to export LNG to Asia.

The lack of legitimacy of this anointment of a premier is very stark and should be denounced by all. It is no time to wait and see what Premier-designate Prentice has in store for Alberta. The neo-liberal agenda that the PCs and Wildrose serve is violently anti-social, anti-worker and anti-immigrant. It is not dependent on which individual becomes Premier or what declarations they make. They are all willing to commit any crime to serve the monopoly master. The change in premiers and even ruling parties from PCs to Wildrose is to mask the complete takeover of government by the most powerful monopolies, to obscure the outmoded relations of production and the destruction of a public authority that should in fact be rejigged to serve the public interest on a new basis which requires blocking the monopolies from tearing society asunder.

Only the working people are capable of giving rise to the new in the form of people's empowerment and democratic renewal so that elections become a means to transform the popular will into the legal will.

The fight for the democratic renewal of the political process is a central part of the work to stop Canada's destruction and integration into the United States of North American Monopolies and its constant predatory wars. The time is now to organize to defeat the neo-liberal, anti-social, anti-worker and anti-immigrant agenda of the rich! The time is now for a pro-social agenda of the working people to take centre stage!

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Jim Prentice: Champion of the United States of North American Monopolies

It was no contest as Jim Prentice trounced the other contenders in the Alberta Progressive Conservatives' leadership race that had been decided from day one. He was elected Premier-designate without a seat in the Legislature and with only 17,000 votes in a province where the population reached 4 million this year. His acceptance speech was full of the usual platitudes about how great Alberta is, and how his job is to restore the confidence of Albertans in the PC Party -- a confidence game indeed!

Prentice kept his cards close to his chest during the leadership contest, but as Senior-Vice President and Vice-Chairman of CIBC bank he has been a most prolific speaker making the rounds of gatherings of the political and economic elite, and also occasionally speaking to meetings of First Nations.

As a top executive of CIBC, he aggressively promoted the annexation of Canada into the United States of North American Monopolies. He presented the preoccupations and problems of the owners of monopoly capital who are demanding big scores from the continued expansion of the oil sands and natural gas operations. He stated what the monopolies expect from governments and state machine. As Premier-designate, he is now ready to deliver and bring the Alberta state apparatus fully into play to wage a fight for their narrow private interests.

Prentice cannot conceive of any alternative for Canada but the total loss of sovereignty. He sees no future for Canada, no alternative to the total integration of Canada into the United States of North American Monopolies, with energy and its transportation to markets as the most important single factor. He extols the "genius" of the Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement, a "genius" that unfortunately he says has been undermined by the Obama administration and certain forces in Canada. He cites as negative examples the non-approval of Keystone XL and the carbon emission standards at the U.S. local and state levels designed to block oil from the oil sands.

Prentice represents the agenda wherein the entire human and material assets of the government and other parts of the state are mobilized to fight to re-divide the world in favour of the narrow private interests of North American monopolies. He says free trade is "trade for mutual benefit."

How can free trade under the monopolies be trade for mutual benefit? Free trade under the domination of the most powerful global monopolies has never been about mutual benefit but about world domination and exploitation. It leads not to mutual benefit between nations but to aggression and war, as can be seen at this time with the threat staring us in the face of another global cataclysmic war for the re-division of territories and strategic areas of influence, raw materials and cheap labour and zones for the export and import of capital. For trade to be mutually beneficial it must lead to the cooperative development of all the trading partners not their exploitation and deprivation.

A growing number of Canadians are organizing to deprive the global monopolies of their reign of free trade and monopoly right to exploit Canada's working class and natural resources, as well as those of all other countries. The working people in Alberta hail from all over Canada as well as the world. Collectively they have vast experience with the wrecking carried out by monopoly right. Many workers and their families have direct experience of the monopoly wrecking of manufacturing, the forestry industry, the fisheries, of entire communities in Canada, and the plunder and destruction of nations and countries all over the world.

There is an alternative! A new direction for the economy is there to be organized, a direction of economic self-reliance based on the recognition of the rights of all, the humanizing of the social and natural environment, and cooperation in international trade for genuine mutual benefit not inter-imperialist competition destined for mutual destruction.

The starting point for the Workers' Opposition is a nation-building project to develop a Canadian sovereign self-reliant and independent economic base, which restricts monopoly right and guarantees the well-being and rights of the people. A public authority must play a central role in promoting cooperative trade for mutual benefit and development, and deprive the global monopolies from interfering in the sovereign economic and political affairs of the peoples of the world starting with our own country and province.

(To be continued)

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End Colonial Justice!

Treaty 8 First Nations Step Up Fight to Affirm Human,
Constitutional and Treaty Rights --
Alberta's Bill 22 Has to Go!

Edmonton protest against Bill 22, August 28, 2014.

First Nations in Alberta who are part of Treaty 8 territory have taken a strong stand against the Alberta government's refusal to engage in meaningful consultation, and its violation of their human, constitutional and treaty rights. They are demanding that the government withdraw Bill 22, the Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act which was passed on May 15, 2013, without their consent and despite their strong objections.

Shari Narine Sweetgrass of the Chipewyan First Nation points out that, "The Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act controls if and how consultation for development on First Nations reserve lands is to be carried out. It establishes a process matrix that outlines the time period for consultation required depending on the type of development; establishes monies that will be provided to First Nations in order to carry out consultation; creates a consultation office, which reports directly to the minister of Aboriginal Relations and which determines if consultation is required; and offers no recourse for appeal of a decision rendered by the minister responsible."

First Nations have expressed their shock at the blatant colonial outlook, false claims about consultation, brazen violations of aboriginal rights and significant expansion of executive or prerogative powers through use of "regulations." They are determined to force the government to withdraw Bill 22.

In their most recent action, the Chiefs organized a boycott of a meeting with the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations set up to discuss the government's Guidelines on Consultation with First Nations on Land and Natural Resource Management. The government released the Guidelines July 28, 2014, against and without any genuine consultation much less consent of First Nations.

The Chiefs informed Frank Oberle, Minister of Aboriginal Relations that they will not participate in discussion of the government's consultation policy. Instead, they set up a picket outside the hotel where the meeting was to take place and held a news conference. The Chiefs are now organizing direct consultations with each of their respective 24 First Nations.

"It is a violation of our human and constitutional treaty rights," said Rose Laboucan, Chief of the Driftpile Cree Nation. "We need to eliminate the paternalistic view that someone has to speak for us. We can speak for ourselves."

"We are upset that our input isn't being heard and we're just being pushed aside," said Beaver First Nation Chief Trevor Mercredi. "Anytime we make a recommendation it's not taken into account. Since day one, everything has been the same -- they [the government] just laid it out for us."

"The Alberta Government is always finding ways to undermine our Treaties," said Mikisew Cree Chief Steve Courtoreille. "The Consultation Levy Act is a prime example. We're going to put our foot down and our statement is to let them know that we're not happy."

Courtoreille referenced the 2005 Supreme Court of Canada case where the Mikisew successfully argued that the Canadian Government had failed to consult with them when it attempted to take lands in Wood Buffalo National Park. The landmark court case set a precedent for consultation with First Nations, said Chief Courtoreille. Some Nations of Treaty 8 are preparing to legally challenge Alberta over Bill 22 if needed.

"First Nations have that right to determine what their consultation will look like and most First Nations in this country have their own consultation policies. So they have to honour those policies on a case by case basis. When they originally signed the Treaties they went around from community to community. This is the same situation; we're not going to go to them, they're going to come to us," Courtoreille said.

Treaty 8 Grand Chief Richard Kappo called on the government to end its paternalistic treatment of his people and their sovereign governments. "If you want a process to be successful create it with the Chiefs and communities, from the ground up, and work with us to build policies that work for First Nations, industry and Albertans alike."

Treaty 8 First Nations also sent a letter to Christy Clark at an international LNG conference in Vancouver. "While B.C. consistently and publicly states that the relationship between First Nations and the B.C. provincial government is extremely important, the actions of your government show a pattern of token consultation with the Treaty 8 First Nations," the letter stated.

Treaty 8 Chiefs are demanding greater scrutiny over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, especially the huge quantities of water that are mixed with chemicals and then pumped into the ground. They expressed the concerns widely held regarding water contamination from fracking, air pollution from sulphur emissions and the BC government's plans to fast-track LNG plants and exempt them from proper environmental assessments.

The stand of Treaty 8 Chiefs is just and deserves the full support of the workers and all people of Alberta and BC. This is a fight to end monopoly right, establish a new direction for the economy and affirm the right of the people, including First Nations to decide.

The development of natural resources must become a decision of the body politic including First Nations, and the wealth generated should go directly into the public treasury to benefit all the people including First Nations and the general interests of society.

Scrap Bill 22 Now!
Demand that Governments Recognize First Nations' Rights
and Nation-to-Nation Relations!

(With files from Alberta Native News, Aboriginal Multi-Media Society and the Edmonton Journal. For more information on Bill 22, see TML Daily, May 21, 2013, "Bill 22, Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act Imposed on First Nations.")

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Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!

Stop the Layoffs at Shepherd's Care in Edmonton!

Workers at Shepherd's Care Rally, September 6, 2013.

With no advance warning, on September 4 Shepherd's Care Foundation delivered lay-off notices to 157 seniors' care workers at its five seniors' care centres in Edmonton. The layoffs are effective October 2 and their work will be subcontracted out. The workers are represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). The five Shepherd's Care Foundation facilities affected by the subcontracting decision are: Millwoods, Greenfield, Kensington, Vanguard, and Southside Manor. Shepherd's Care is refusing to name the outsource contractor they have hired to take over housekeeping, food services and maintenance.

Shepherd's Care owns and manages seniors' housing and care centres for more than 1,600 seniors, with a range of services funded and provided by Alberta Health Services, including home care services, supportive living, care for seniors with dementia, and long term care.

AUPE President Guy Smith immediately responded, saying "We will certainly fight this move through every possible channel. They gave us no warning they were considering such a drastic move."

Some of the workers who are losing their jobs in housekeeping, food services and maintenance have worked at Shepherd's Care facilities for up to 30 years. They provide services that are vital to the well-being of the seniors in these facilities. Many are part-time, working two or three jobs to make ends meet. Under Alberta's labour laws, the outsource contractor will not be required to hire the existing staff. The aim is clearly to break the union and drive down the already extremely modest wages and benefits these workers claim on the value they provide.

The decision to lay off 157 workers is presented as a "business decision" and a private matter for Shepherd's Care to decide. This retrogressive outlook cannot be accepted. Seniors' care and security in retirement are modern rights for all, part of the modern rights that belong to all people by virtue of being human. This means the right to these services are a concern for the entire society and a matter of the public interest. Humane seniors' care requires that both the rights of seniors and those who care for them must be respected and upheld. An attack on either one is an attack on public right and unacceptable.

Just as an attack on seniors is not a private matter, neither is an attack on workers' rights. Through their union, workers have collectively negotiated wages and working conditions in accordance with the existing labour laws. How can an employer be permitted to tear up the collective agreement, throw the workers out onto the street and hand management over to a contractor who will cut wages and transfer the value into the coffers of the contractor and other parasites. What kind of bargaining rights are these when employers can act with impunity! A modern definition of rights demands that employers be restricted and not permitted to treat workers as a "cost" to be chopped.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is a major factor in realizing the value these service workers produce. AHS, as the main public authority in these matters, must be forced to intervene to stop these layoffs and attack on rights. As well, the government must render a full public accounting of how the value workers produce at Shepherd's Care facilities is realized and disbursed.

At Shepherd's Care it takes seven years of full-time work to reach the top of the pay grid. For a part-time worker at 0.5 full-time equivalency, it would take 14 years to reach the top rate of pay. As a starting point, AHS must come clean about its funding formula, and to what extent it is a factor in this assault on the workers and residents at Shepherd's Care. Does the funding formula put pressure on employers to fire existing staff who are at the top of their pay grid in favour of a revolving door of low-paid workers, which harms both workers and the seniors they care for? Does it provide sufficient hours of care for residents? All these questions are vital matters of public interest, and in no way can they be considered private business decisions.

All Out Support for the Shepherd's Care Workers!
Stop the Layoffs and Defend the Rights of All!

(Photos: AUPE)

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Shepherd's Care Foundation and the Issue of Value

Shepherd's Care Foundation refers to itself as a "non-profit" foundation. This designation is very common but does not represent the reality. Workers caring for seniors produce and reproduce value for the economy. If they do not provide the care then the value is lost and the seniors, society and the economy suffer the loss.

Workers providing seniors' care and those throughout the health care sector produce value above and beyond what they receive in wages and benefits. This added-value exists, whether realized or not, and should lead to increased investments in public seniors' care and other health care programs. The term "non-profit" is misleading as it obscures the reality that seniors' care and health care workers generally produce value beyond the value consumed during their work. This extra or added-value forms the basis for profit and it cannot be negated out of existence through unscientific terms such as "non-profit." The economic forces that seize the added-value seniors' workers produce can be determined with precision through a scientific accounting.

Lowering workers wages and benefits, as Shepherd's Care Foundation is attempting to do, transfers value from workers to those who claim the value as profit whether they call it profit or not. The added-value is disbursed either openly or not and may be claimed by the directors of Shepherd's Care Foundation, government or other forces such as outsource worker traffickers or contractors, or those companies that employed the seniors during their working lives.

Under the neo-liberal anti-social agenda, governments are actively intervening on behalf of private interests to permit them to seize added-value produced within the seniors and health care sector and pocket it as private gain mostly to be taken out of the sector and even out of the economy altogether. Those sectors of the economy needed to guarantee the rights of all, such as health care and education, should be fully comprehensive and public. Employers in those sectors must recognize the rights of workers and ensure that all added-value workers produce is reinvested in the sector to meet the ever-increasing needs of the people.

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