TML
              Monthly

No. 3

March 7, 2021

CONTENTS

March 8 -- International Women's Day

• Women Workers Must Lead the Struggle for
Political Renewal and Empowerment


Summit Between Canadian Prime Minister and U.S. President

Further Integration into U.S. Economy and War Machine Will Not Resolve Canada's Lack of a Nation-Building Project

K.C. Adams -


Canada's Foreign Policy an Extension of U.S. Warmongering
in the Name of High Ideals

Uphold Cuba's Right to Self-Determination!
No to Colonial and Imperial Policies!

- Isaac Saney -

Demand for Canada to Revise Its Policy Towards Haiti


In the Parliament

Odious Modus Operandi to Lend Legitimacy to
Criminalization of Speech and Opinion

- Anna Di Carlo -

Threat Inflation Undermines Freedom of Speech

- Peter Ewart -


Crimes Committed in the Name of the Greater Good

Mitting Inquiry's Revelations on the Scope of
British Undercover Policing

- Michael Chant -

People in the U.S. Determined to Decide
What Constitutes Justice

No Let Up of People's Protests
Police Impunity Is Dred Scott Legacy

Kathleen Chandler -

• Trial of George Floyd's Killer Gets Underway in Minneapolis
Music Video: Rome Is Burning


Anniversary of Declaration of COVID-19 Pandemic

Global Response Required to Overcome Global Pandemic
and Its Effects on Health and the Economy

Situation in Canada



 

March 8 -- International Women's Day

Women Workers Must Lead the Struggle for
Political Renewal and Empowerment



March 8, 2020. International Women's Day, Montreal

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) greets March 8, International Women's Day, with full confidence that women workers will continue to take the lead in the work to renew the political process and the society, which require the people's empowerment. Communist women have proven in this period, as in the past, that they take up the question of gender discrimination as a question of emancipating the working class. The mobilization of women workers for the renewal of the political process is a step in this direction.

The present period is one of retreat of revolution which is witnessing a brutal anti-social offensive, nation-wrecking and the pursuit of an agenda of aggression and war on the part of governments and the imperialist interests which dominate them. Far from losing its leading role, it is the working class which has to provide an alternative to the retrogression which is being imposed on the society. Women workers are playing a crucial role in this, first and foremost, by ensuring that they do not get diverted or dissipate their energies on issues which do not put them at the centre-stage of the developments. They must, as is the case with all the workers, be political, work out their program, and take the same to all sections of the society.

International Women's Day is a fitting occasion this year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic for women workers to pledge their adherence to the cause of their own emancipation which is linked to the emancipation of the entire working class. In the course of the developments which have been taking place, women with positions of power and privilege have declared they will protect women, but they do not shed a tear over the plight of women workers at home and the world over who bear the brunt of the attacks which are taking place so as to make the rich richer. None has pointed out that reforms are needed to improve their working and living conditions, and not to make them even worse.

The imposition of what are called liberal-democratic institutions on countries whose resources the imperialists covet has increased their enslavement. Women workers do not entrust their fate to those who occupy positions of  privilege and wield power in their name  because it is a waste of their energies.

On the contrary, they have been raising their own demands, speaking in their own name and fighting for their rights within the context of fighting for the rights of all. Only in this way can all women be emancipated. Advanced women workers should join the Party, organize basic organizations for the emancipation of women at the workplace, inclusive of all fellow workers, irrespective of gender, and excel in taking up political affairs under the banner of the democratic renewal of the political process.

CPC(M-L) takes this opportunity to express its full support for all women fighting for emancipation on the world scale and to hail the increasing participation of women in political affairs. The Party condemns all racist attacks and acts of police impunity and other acts of oppression and humiliation of women, condemns kidnappings and rape and other forms of brutality and terror practised by the ruling circles against them, demands the release of all those imprisoned as a result of their political actions, and demands that all those committing crimes against women be punished.

With optimism and confidence in the abilities of communist women and all fighting women workers, we express our deepest respects for the fighting women everywhere and send them militant greetings.

(Photos: TML)

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Summit Between Canadian Prime Minister and U.S. President

Further Integration into U.S. Economy and War Machine Will Not Resolve Canada's Lack of a Nation-Building Project


On February 23, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden held a virtual bilateral meeting. Trudeau summed up the meeting saying, "The President and I discussed the ambitious new Partnership Roadmap, based on shared values and priorities, that will guide our countries' work together over the coming years."

The "shared values and priorities" referred to come out of a neo-liberal play book. This can be seen from the material they released after the meeting and from their acts, neither of which make the economy sustainable or contribute to nation-building. On the contrary, the measures are part of nation-wrecking at home and abroad and contribute to the U.S. imperialist striving for world hegemony, aggression and war.

"In the face of COVID-19, of climate change, of rising inequality, this is our moment to act," Trudeau said. "Job one remains keeping people safe and ending this pandemic. This afternoon, the President and I discussed collaboration to beat COVID-19, from keeping key supplies moving and supporting science and research, to joint efforts through international institutions. We're standing united in this fight," he said.

From the beginning, ruling elites have not been motivated  to marshal the considerable resources of each country to defend the people. On the contrary, the resources are used as means for the rich to become richer. This has resulted in 537,312 COVID-19 related deaths and mounting in the U.S. and 22,213 deaths reported in Canada, as well as tremendous hardship for working people of both countries.

Two days after the grandiose statements were made at the Summit, Biden demonstrated in practice the traditional U.S. method of "keeping people safe" by unleashing the U.S. war machine to bomb Syria. Trudeau did not utter a peep in opposition to the continued aggression and destruction of the countries of West Asia and North Africa, which involves Canada through the NATO war alliance. On the contrary, he expressed the same enthusiasm of "keeping people safe" through war, destruction and pillage. 

On February 26, a virtual meeting was held between Canada's Foreign Minister Marc Garneau and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken which declared a "commitment to address human rights and needed reforms in Cuba." The joint statement from the two leaders could just as well have declared: "Share our neo-liberal values or we will bomb you!" They demand subservience to the U.S. drive for world hegemony by presenting this "value" as fighting for freedom and democracy. Canada has become integrated into the U.S. war machine and the power of the Pentagon backs the administrations of both countries, while more and more laws and regulations are passed which consider any discussion questioning their motivations to be sedition, treason, against the national interest and a threat to national security.

Presenting themselves as those who will provide the fundamental constitutional problems of both U.S. and Canadian societies with solutions, Trudeau said: "The past year has revealed all sorts of inequalities in our societies, and now more than ever, it is time to act." The past year in fact saw more than 20 million people in the U.S. alone demonstrate for more than 100 days straight prior to the U.S. election, along with millions more in Canada and around the world, against state-organized racist police violence, impunity and more funding for police while social programs for the people continue to be privatized and the rich get richer and the poor poorer.

The trial of the former police officer who killed George Floyd begins March 8 in Minneapolis. The Mayor and Minnesota's Governor declared their version of "it is time to act on inequalities" by militarizing and occupying the city with thousands of heavily armed police and soldiers and telling the people to stay away. Their actions are similar to the lockdown and military occupation of Washington, DC for Biden's inauguration with its open threats to violently suppress the people if they dare show their faces. The military's show of force also sends a blunt message to the political representatives of the rich, including Biden, that they better not step out of line when serving the ruling oligarchy and war economy, "or else!"

Trudeau also used the Summit to make it clear Canada wants to be part of "Buy America" by being considered an integral part of the U.S. economy. This is the opposite direction Canadians are calling for when they demand the economy be self-reliant and contribute to creating a safe natural and social environment under the control of the workers.

"Today, the President and I discussed leveraging supply chains and support for businesses," Trudeau said. Emphasizing the "shared value" of paying the rich through marshalling public funds to support the private business cartels and monopolies of the global oligarchs, he added: "Here in Canada, innovation and clean energy will play a critical role in our plan to rebuild our economy. The President and I discussed the importance of clean growth to create new opportunities for Canadians and Americans, and also to protect the environment and fight climate change."

To date, the Trudeau government's greatest "innovation" involving "clean energy" has been to take the money-losing boondoggle Trans Mountain Pipeline project off the hands of its private U.S. owners who were desperate to dump it and pay them a fortune in public funds. The government then further mobilized the state's police powers, including the courts, to ram through the pipeline to Vancouver over the objections of many Canadians who do not want anything to do with it. Arrests, jailing and violent police attacks on opponents of the pipeline are mounting daily. Attempts to put jobs and sustainable development, workers and environmentalists into irrational separate categories to justify the criminalization of both will not create a viable direction for the economy.


September 8, 2018. Protest in Vancouver against building of  the Trans Mountain pipeline

On the issue of innovation, clean energy and rebuilding our economy, Trudeau was possibly also referring to the Alberta government's disastrous pay-the-rich scheme of investing billions of public funds into the Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast that Biden cancelled because it competes with similar projects already underway and the green investments of former Vice President Al Gore. The main "sharing" going on between a gushing Trudeau, visibly relieved that his like-minded friend has become the president, and this like-minded U.S. president, appears to be the sharing of schemes to pay the rich and a deep commitment to serve the oligarchy.

To further muddy the waters and militarize the people's concern over climate change and to use the issue and public funds to enable certain global oligarchs to make billions in a so-called green economy, Trudeau said, "We must continue to take meaningful action to respect the Paris Accord and achieve our goals for a net-zero emissions future."

The only "net-zero" appears to be when Canada builds pipelines and the U.S. cancels them.

"Finally, we also discussed ways to build a stronger and more peaceful world. To protect our citizens and our communities, we must work together," Trudeau said. He did not reveal if Biden's discussions of his plan for a "more peaceful world" included bombing Syria two days later.

Neo-liberal parlance did however serve to cover up the joint intelligence services which dictate the new laws and ministerial measures to outlaw any speech that is seen by police powers, which act with impunity, to undermine the "common principles and shared values" which Canadians and Americans must support "or else." "This includes strengthening continental defence and combating violent extremism. And around the world, we must defend our shared values and interests, for example, by renewing alliances and supporting multilateral institutions," Trudeau said. "Canada and the United States are each other's closest allies, most important trading partners, and oldest friends," Trudeau gushed.

Canadians need a nation-building project of their own doing, to make Canada a zone for peace with an anti-war government and to change the aim of the economy from one integrated into the U.S. war machine based on maximum private profit for the few to one that serves the people and works with others in a spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit for all humanity, not competition and war.

This means as a first priority taking Canada out of the NATO and NORAD war alliances and all other entanglements with the U.S. war economy and military machine. It requires forging a new direction for the economy. This remains a priority.

For the joint statement of President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau at the conclusion of their meeting, with comments by K.C. Adams click here.

(Photos: TML, D. Sprenger, A. Pike)

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Canada's Foreign Policy an Extension of U.S. Warmongering
in the Name of High Ideals

Uphold Cuba's Right to Self-Determination! No to Colonial and Imperial Policies!


February 18, 2021. Montreal car caravan in support of Cuba

TML Monthly fully concurs with the statement released by  the Canadian Network on Cuba and its National Spokesperson and Co-chair Isaac Saney, following the communiqué issued by Global Affairs Canada on the February 26 meeting held between Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The criminal U.S. blockade of Cuba and campaign of disinformation and covert actions to achieve regime change are despicable and must be ended. For Canada to adjust its policy to match this U.S. aim as a price of "friendship" and "partnership" with the U.S. clearly reveals its adoption of extremist ideological beliefs which cause and justify violence against an entire people. Canada's government must be called on to change its policy. The government can be held  to account by stepping up actions which express concrete solidarity with the Cuban people.

The Canadian Network on Cuba is outraged by the communiqué from Global Affairs Canada summarizing the February 26 virtual meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It is an open declaration that Ottawa, in lock-step with the United States, arrogates to itself the right to intervene in the affairs of countries across the globe, particularly in the Americas. As the follow-up to the so-called Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership launched by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden in their own February 23 virtual meeting, the communiqué not only violates international law, norms and conventions but also reeks of the discredited colonialist mentality and practice of foisting on independent countries imperial arrangements that they do not want or accept.

The declaration of the Trudeau government's "commitment to address human rights and needed reforms in Cuba" is not only a slander against Cuba but an intolerable interference in the sovereign affairs of Cuba and violation of its right to self-determination. Global Affairs Canada is deliberately parroting the disinformation of the U.S. State Department about Cuba. Nowhere in the communiqué is there a mention of the real violator of human rights in Cuba: the ongoing U.S. economic war and campaign of subversion against the heroic island nation. Nowhere is there even an inkling that Garneau took Blinken to task for not addressing the Trump regime's deceitful and duplicitous designation of Cuba as a sponsor of terrorism: an act of blatant opportunism and cynicism, flying in the face of the reality that it is Cuba that has been the victim of all manner of terrorist attacks carried out with the complicity, participation and sponsorship of Washington.

If the Trudeau government is truly interested in the cause of democracy, then it should unequivocally and unambiguously demand the end of U.S. economic sanctions and other aggressions against Cuba. Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution more than sixty years ago, the objective of Washington's strategy has centred on the negation and extinguishment of Cuba's right to self-determination, sovereignty and independence. This effort to asphyxiate Cuba is the principal obstacle to this proud island nation's social and economic development, costing the people of Cuba in excess of U.S.$100 billion.

Ottawa's open alignment with U.S. policy is deeply disturbing and alarming. We call on Canadians to repudiate it with the contempt it deserves. The February 26 communiqué harkens back to a bygone era where great powers acted with impunity against and with utter disregard for the nations of the Americas. The peoples of the Americas and the world have time and time again resoundingly rejected this method and mode of thinking. The great anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles of the 19th and 20th centuries bear witness to this.

If the Canadian government truly stands for democracy and the well-being of the peoples of the Americas and the world, it must uphold and practice a foreign policy based on equality and respect for sovereignty and the right of self-determination, abandoning and renouncing colonialist and imperialist mindsets and policies.


February 28, 2021. Car caravan for Cuba in Ottawa

(March 2, 2021. Photos: TML)

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Demand for Canada to Revise Its Policy
Towards Haiti


March 1, 2021. Demonstration in Haiti against the Jovenel Moïse dictatorship

The Haitian Coalition in Canada Against the Dictatorship in Haiti (CHCCDH) -- a group of some 30 organizations and individuals recently formed in Montreal, in the name of Haiti's sovereignty and the right of its people to self-determination, sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which raised the demand for Canada to revise its policy towards Haiti.[1]

The letter reads:

"The CHCCDH is deeply concerned about the political situation in Haiti and by Canada's unconditional support for the illegitimate and unconstitutional rule of Mr. Jovenel Moïse, whose mandate expired on February 7, 2021 under Section 134-2 of the amended Haitian Constitution. The Canadian government is supporting and financing the ruling dictatorship as well as the Haitian National Police, which has been transformed into the regime's militia. Thus, it is supporting criminals in Haiti. We believe that this constitutes a violation of the ethics and principles of non-interference which must guide Canada's relations with Haiti.

"Let us remind ourselves that massacres are being perpetrated daily under Moïse's dictatorship by armed gangs attacking the population in working-class neighbourhoods. These gangs operate completely unchecked, to the point of demanding and obtaining a minister's dismissal. Kidnappings and assassinations have become a daily recurrence for the Haitian people. The UN recorded 234 cases of kidnappings in 2020. Terror is spreading and settling in. The National Police, transformed into the armed wing of the state, is repressing citizens' protests, persecuting political opponents and targeting journalists. Summary executions, arbitrary arrests, and the use of live ammunition against demonstrations organized by opponents of the government have become the norm. No one in being spared in this wave of repression. The Haitian people reject with all their might this new dictatorship that is flouting the most basic human rights of citizens.

"As a means of ensuring his continuity, Moïse has set up a Provisional Electoral Council that has neither been sworn-in nor is constitutional, whose mission is to organize the next elections he is planning along with the complicity of Canada, the United Nations, the OAS and other countries of the international community. In light of the fundamental principles of democracy and human rights, we invite Canada to dissociate itself from the dictatorial project of Jovenel Moïse, which has already begun trampling upon all the democratic gains of the Haitian people."

Note

1. The CHCCDH is a group of personalities, organizations and associations evolving within various sectors of Canadian society. Its aim is:

1. to denounce the non-respect of the Haitian Constitution, the dismantling of institutions, the systematic violation of the rights and dignity of Haitian citizens, the installation of a generalized climate of terror and of political persecution, the arbitrary and dictatorial practices of the de facto government of Jovenel Moïse;

2. to listen to the demands of the Haitian people and express our solidarity with their struggle and their right to self-determination;

3. to mobilize the Haitian community in Canada and create synergies with the Haitian diaspora around the world.

The CHCCDH can be contacted on Facebook or by email at coalitioncontredictature@gmail.com 

(Translated from original French by TML. Photos: redfishstream)

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In the Parliament

Odious Modus Operandi to Lend Legitimacy to Criminalization of Speech and Opinion

On February 25, a motion was tabled in the House of Commons to "condemn the National Firearms Association (NFA) and statements made by Sheldon Clare, President, on February 16, 2021 in a video posted online with regards to the introduction of Bill C-21," draft legislation concerning gun control.[1]

The motion, moved by Liberal MP Pam Damoff, was adopted by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, with Conservatives abstaining. It quotes words spoken in a few moments of a one-hour-and-12-minute video entitled C-21 Attack on Firearms Owners,  speech which the motion deems to be "extremely dangerous." The motion was amended just before adoption to specify that it be tabled in the House of Commons, thus construing it a matter of national political importance.

The motion condemns what any reasonable person would deem to be legitimate public discourse. It follows an unfolding modus operandi whereby matters of concern to the people -- such as racism, "extremism," and, in this case, increasing incidents of gun violence -- are used to both divert from and lend legitimacy to the growing assault on freedom of speech and opinion. It seems that every stereotyped motherhood and apple pie issue is being played to the hilt to advance a police state in which any utterance can be used to criminalize and defame. The attack on the NFA is an easy target because of the bad rap "gun-defenders" have got.

The motion also raises the serious question of the extent to which the political discourse and activities of the people are being surveilled and monitored. It raises concerns about how the security forces are implementing their defence of "democratic institutions" from the activities of "bad actors," both foreign and domestic. Who then watched a 72-minute video to determine that it contains, in the words of MP Damoff, the utterance of "extremely dangerous words?" In a situation where it is well known that Members of Parliament have generally become nothing more than highly-directed mouthpieces for the upper echelons of the ruling elite as a whole and their political parties in particular, the motion presented by Damoff must be viewed in the context of a campaign of official disinformation, not the spontaneous or happenstance, outraged concern of an individual Member of Parliament as it is presented. Even then, of note is how Damoff acts as judge, jury and executioner to render a verdict that the January 6 rampage in Washington, DC was caused by Trump's speech inciting violence (as opposed to the actions of, say, the secret police leading the Proud Boys and others to do what they did). Canadian laws are being changed on the basis of this kind of spurious verdict despite the fact that even the United States Senate itself did not render that verdict and different opinions continue to swirl around about what precisely the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment concerning the right to speech, right to assembly and freedom of the press mean.

The motion reads: "That the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security condemn the National Firearms Association and statements made by Sheldon Clare, President, on February 16, 2021 in a video posted online with regards to the introduction of the Bill C-21 which states: '...revisit their old wordworking and metal working skills and construct guillotines again (laughter). That would really be the best kind of Committee of Public Safety to get this reestablished. If they want to make it about public safety that was the way. The sound of this person's voice is not one that is joking. He was not joking. I don't think they understand that this is not New Zealand, this is not the United Kingdom, this is not Australia. This is a country made up of people who been here for thousands of years, our aboriginal people, immigrants from Europe who fled tyranny, who fought against tyranny and .... know tyranny when they see it. And this my friends is tyranny.'"

In Committee, MP Damoff stated that the video had "close to 7,000 views," and that "Words matter." She went on to say, "We saw in the U.S. on January 6 what happens when inflammatory words provoked insurrection and violence. We've seen it here in Canada with someone breaching the grounds of Rideau Hall and someone else following NDP Leader Jagmit Singh. I know it sent a chill down my spine to hear talk of building guillotines when referencing the Committee ... by the NFA and its leadership."

"We need to shut-down this kind of language, this way of talking and thinking that it's okay to talk about building guillotines and laughing," she said. "We need to condemn this kind of language."

The remarks in question occur 45 minutes into the video which features four individuals from the NFA broadly discussing Bill C-21, how the Liberals have gone about its enactment, and matters related to registered gun-owners who use their weapons for legitimate purposes versus the problem of gun-related violence. It presents the NFA's plans to tackle what it believes to be unwarranted legislation that violates gun-owners' rights. Among other things, the NFA believes that Bill C-21 has nothing to do with tackling criminal violence, that it will not receive Royal Assent before the end of the current Parliament, and that the Liberals are using Bill C-21 as a pre-election campaigning ploy.[2]

In response to the motion, the NFA's Sheldon Clare issued a press release: "I am surprised that Liberal parliamentarians have time to watch our popular NFA Talk podcast. Perhaps the country would be in better shape if the Liberal government actually started working for the Canadian people instead of against them. It astounds me that any Canadian would still support the Liberals after their many scandals and their tyrannical attack on the firearm, airsoft, and air gun communities -- not to mention the economic damage that this Liberal government has caused. I make no apology for any comments made during our NFA Talk podcast -- like them or not -- we have the right to free speech, at least for now. Nothing said advocated violence against anyone. The firearms licence, registration, and classification system are all failed Liberal gun control and warrant challenging. The May 1, 2020 Order in Council and Bill C-21 proposing a sweeping theft of people's lawfully obtained property is also unacceptable. The NFA maintains that our strong Canadian firearms heritage and culture matters, and we shall continue to defend it with vigour."

Notes

1. Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) was tabled in the House of Commons on February 16. The legislation enacts regulatory restrictions on firearms previously instituted by Order-in-Council in May 2020, capturing over 1,500 various types of weapons and establishing a buy-back program for individuals in possession of such weapons. The National Firearms Association has been opposing the regulations since that time, including through a court challenge.

Criminal defence legal firm, Robichaud, wrote at the time of the Order-in-Council: "... the Liberal government has banned over 1,500 models of firearms affecting approximately 90,000 firearms with an aim to prohibit ‘military-style assault weapons.' Historically, 'military-style assault weapons' i.e. the ones used by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), in war-time and peacekeeping activities, have already been inaccessible (via prohibited status) since June 27, 1969 when the Criminal Law Amendment Act, received royal assent. ... This previous legislation already bans all the current weaponry used by the CAF with the possible exception of the C3A1, as it does not appear on the prohibited firearms regulation to the Criminal Code or the new order. Considering Canadians' inability to legally access military grade (or even low grade automatic) firearms for over 40 years, it remains unclear, what legal 'military-style assault weapons' this order is seeking to inhibit or what this undefined term means."

The Liberal government says the purpose of Bill C-21 is "to combat intimate partner and gender-based violence and self-harm involving firearms, fight gun smuggling and trafficking, help municipalities create safer communities, give young people the opportunities and resources they need to resist lives of crime, protect Canadians from gun violence, and subject owners of firearms prohibited on May 1, 2020 to non-permissive storage requirements, should they choose not to participate in the buyback program."

2. Portion of transcript of NFA video that provides context for quote in MP Pam Damoff's motion re: building of guillotines:

"Sheldon Clare (NFA President): The thing we have to do here folks, is we have to get involved politically. Really take this seriously. No more of this nonsense about vote-splitting. This is about do or die, the Liberals must be defeated in the next federal election. We're pushing hard in our court cases; Guy Laverge is working really hard for us to make sure that we're going to be successful in our intervention, and with Solomon Friedman running the Parker vs Canada case to help defend all of us but, boy-oh-boy, the Liberals must be defeated. That is it, that's the bottom line. And then we have to hold the Conservatives to their promises, to their illusions and everything and make sure they understand that this is not fooling around, we're not backing off, this has to get sorted. They can't throw us under the bus.

"Charles Zach (NFA Executive Director): I'd just like to piggy-back on that for a second as well because people are really mad now, we're not just disappointed but they are hopping mad. And they want to do something and I'm getting, you know, e-mails from people saying, 'Let's do a march,' you know, 'Let's storm the capital,' blah blah blah, and I'm going 'Don't waste your time,' okay? 'I've done this already and you know, it had no effect.' So they say 'What can we do?' And I say, 'Here's what we can do: We need to marshal those people who are unaffiliated with us, who are free-riding on the good work that we are doing, and others. They need to get involved with us, or at least donate, but they do need to pony up and get involved politically at the local level. Right? And try to elect people that are pro-gun who are committed to getting rid of these draconian laws and that's the way this is going to go because in the end, the only way we are going to vanquish this is by getting rid of the Liberals and that's it, not marching ...'

"Sheldon Clare: I had a call from a person today who suggested that we needed to revisit their old wood-working and metal-working skills and construct guillotines again (laughter). That would really be the best kind of committee of public safety to get this reestablished. If they want to make it about public safety that was the way. That's what the person told me, and I thought to myself, you know, the sound of this person's voice is not one that is joking. He was not joking. I don't think they understand that this is not New Zealand, this is not the United Kingdom, this is not Australia. This is a country made up of people who have been here for thousands of years, our aboriginal people, immigrants from Europe who fled tyranny, who fought against tyranny and have no truck with tyranny, and they know tyranny when they see it. And this my friends is tyranny." 

"Charles Zach: Amen, brother."

(Photos: TML, Anonymous Edmonton)

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Threat Inflation Undermines Freedom of Speech

On February 17, the National Firearms Association (NFA) recorded a podcast on the issue of pending gun control legislation being brought in by the federal Liberal government which the NFA is strongly opposed to. In the course of the podcast, the president of the NFA, Sheldon Clare, who lives in Prince George, BC, criticized the Liberal legislation as "tyrannical."

Furthermore, he jokingly related a conversation that he had previously with an unnamed NFA supporter who "suggested that we needed to revisit our old wood-working and metal-working skills and construct guillotines again." Clare added "that would really be the best kind of committee of public safety, to get that re-established."

News outlets since then have reported that the House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms has been alerted to Clare's comments and has been pressed "to consider those comments in the context of several threats made against MPs in the last year." In addition, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security voted to condemn the comments made by Clare calling them "dangerous" and potentially "leading to violence," especially in light of the recent storming of the U.S. capitol by Trump supporters and threats to certain MPs.

Responding to this criticism, Clare rejected the idea that his comments were advocating violence. "I've merely related comments from upset people who have a real big problem with tyranny," he said. "And I think that the virtue-signalling woke liberal left has a problem with being called out as being tyrants."

In my opinion, the issue with this whole affair is not whether we support the NFA's or the Liberal Party's stand on gun control. Nor is it whether we stand on the left, right or centre side of the political spectrum. Nor whether we agree or don't agree with Clare's remarks or the unnamed person he was quoting.

Rather the issue has to do with freedom of speech which many would argue is under attack on a number of fronts today. Does anyone seriously believe that the "unnamed person" is advocating the construction of a guillotine outside Parliament that will execute MPs? The reference is clearly "over the top" and hyperbolic like comments sometimes made by angry constituents saying that such and such politician or public official should be "hung" or "drawn and quartered" or "tarred and feathered."

I would argue that such comments do not constitute criminal advocacy or a security threat. To say they do, is to put political discourse, with its often intemperate and raucous remarks, under the realm of police powers, threatening the civil rights of individuals, including freedom of speech.

This is not a minor issue these days. Indeed, the state security apparatus of various countries, including Canada and the U.S., have already brought in or are considering even more repressive and invasive measures to restrict or interfere with the rights of the people, all under the rubric of protecting against "extremism" which often comes down to simply being critical of government and its institutions.

In addition, the big social media technology companies, like Facebook and Google, which are private organizations, are arbitrarily censoring and de-platforming individuals and organizations from across the political spectrum using "identity politics" and "foreign interference" claims as weapons.

In this context, threat inflation itself becomes a threat.[1]

Note

1. "Threat inflation typically relies on misrepresenting the facts, or presenting them in the most alarming way possible." (The American Conservative, June 20, 2016).

(With files from Global News. Photo: TML)

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Crimes Committed in the Name of the Greater Good

Mitting Inquiry's Revelations on the Scope of
British Undercover Policing

The proceedings of the "Undercover Policing Inquiry" with retired judge Sir John Mitting as chair (Mitting Inquiry) taking place in Britain at this time are confirming the many crimes carried out by the British undercover police against social and political activists for which they have never been held to account. The scope of the inquiry is to investigate the crimes committed since the Vietnam War. Because the activities of the secret police are by definition considered legitimate to preserve the rule of law and empire, the Mitting Inquiry is held under the framework of the thought material of the British Empire that everything was done for the greater good and, "on balance," was "a good thing."

The Mitting Inquiry began hearing evidence on November 2, 2020 but it was in fact launched in 2014 by then Home Secretary Theresa May. She launched the Inquiry after it was revealed that police had covertly monitored the campaign for justice over the racist murder of black youth Stephen Lawrence in 1993. The aim of the covert operation was to discredit the campaign and to exonerate the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the police force for London, from accountability for "institutional racism."

Revelations which came to light in 2013 showed that four undercover officers had been required to feed back "intelligence" about the campaigns for justice over the death of Stephen Lawrence. This "intelligence" consisted of finding "dirt" and "disinformation" that could be used to discredit members of the Lawrence family and their supporters.

Overall, the Mitting Inquiry is due to scrutinize the deployment of around 150 undercover officers who spied upon and infiltrated more than 1,000 political groups across four decades. The evidence covers the period from 1968, when the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was set up to infiltrate and undermine the movement against the Vietnam War.

Ostensibly, the setting up of a public inquiry opened up the path for revelations on the "full scope" of undercover policing. It does not, however, cover the actions of "spycops" outside England and Wales despite their being active in around 20 other countries during their deployment. In particular, the perfidious activities of the British state in Ireland are outside its remit, not to mention India, Greece, Kenya and other parts of the British empire and the rest of the globe.

The Mitting Inquiry has no set end-date, but is expected to conclude around 2026. Two undercover policing units -- the SDS and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit -- have particular prominence for the Inquiry however its work is not restricted to these units, the Undercover Policing Inquiry website informs.

From 2014 to 2020, despite demands from the Lawrence family and campaigners for justice, the veil over the extent of the responsibility at the highest levels of power in Britain had been a constant source of frustration. The lawyer for the Lawrence family stated in their opening submission in November last year:

"The extent to which Sir Paul Condon [the Metropolitan Police Commissioner at the time] knew and/or authorized the spying must be examined. Indeed, it must not stop at Commissioner level because, of course, policing was, until recently, the responsibility of the Home Secretary, which may explain why shortly after the Public Inquiry was announced a former Home Secretary met with Baroness Lawrence denying any knowledge or involvement in the issue."

Indeed, the proceedings began with a wholesale denial that "SDS personnel did not infiltrate or target justice campaigns (including the Lawrences)."

The activities of the "spycops" are nonetheless indisputable. The focus of the Mitting Inquiry has therefore been to keep as much information under wraps as possible. Belying its designation as a "public inquiry," live streaming of the proceedings has been limited under the pretext that it poses a "security risk." As the proceedings take their course, it is becoming ever more clear that the inquiry is in danger of being in contempt of its own aims, namely to "get to the truth about undercover policing across England and Wales since 1968 and provide recommendations for the future." The seeds for this lie in its very terms of reference when Theresa May stressed that the inquiry should look at "historical failings" and that "any allegation that the police misused this power [undercover policing] must be taken seriously."

In other words, not surprisingly, the Mitting Inquiry is prejudiced to draw the line between use and misuse of police powers rather than drawing back the veil to uncover the truth of how these police powers are and have been fundamental to the state's attempts to disorient and crush the people's movements. Their use is synonymous with their misuse which is what the inquiry seeks to cover up. Furthermore, the inquiry sets out to make sure that those who authorize the use of these undercover police powers are led even further away from being held to account.

As the lawyer for the Lawrence family pointed out, what appears to be actually happening is a secret inquiry in which officer after officer is hiding behind a pseudonym and a screen.

The extent of the activity of the spycops is already public knowledge. The Counsel to the Tribunal, David Barr, QC, noted this in listing what the undercover agents had done during their deployments:

- deceived more than 30 women into long-term intimate relationships,
- fathered children with some of these activists,
- stole the identities of dead children to provide convincing cover stories,
- deceived grieving families, and worked to prevent them learning the truth,
- undermined anti-fascist, anti-racist, environmental, and other social justice campaigns,
- were responsible for the blacklisting of thousands of workers for wanting safe working, conditions or being politically active.

The first phase of the Mitting Inquiry, dealing with the period 1968-1972, was completed in 2020. The next tranche of evidence is due to be heard beginning in April or May.

Special Demonstration Squad

Following the demonstration against the Vietnam War in March 1968 in Grosvenor Square, where the U.S. Embassy was then situated, in which mounted police viciously rode into the demonstrators, the Special Branch created the SDS who went deep undercover, living as activists among various anti-war groups. The scope of the SDS rapidly widened and it began concerning itself with all instances of so-called disruptions and threats to public order. It also provided intelligence on "subversion" to MI5, the United Kingdom's domestic "security service."

MI5 and the Home Office

One of the police barristers, Oliver Sanders, QC, representing 114 spycops, provided the following information to the Mitting Inquiry:

- MI5 and spycops were so allied that MI5 considered funding the SDS,
- They liaised to ensure they did not duplicate spying, which might have resulted in spying on each other's officers,
- MI5 recommended tips to SDS spycops, and they asked for specific information,
- Most SDS intelligence reports were copied to MI5 with the file reference numbers of the people or group already added,
- The SDS was "a politically neutral cog as part of a much larger apparatus."

Claims of Police Lawyers

Richard Whittam, QC, representing a group of undercover police and their managers, said of the "abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong" activity of the spycops who deceived women into relationships, that, nonetheless, spycops committing crimes is essential for national security and the prevention and detection of other people committing crime.

This line of argument is at this precise time being given the force of law by the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) bill before the British Parliament, which is on the way to receiving Royal Assent. The new law authorizes criminal activity including murder, rape, torture, perverting the course of justice and all other crimes committed by undercover police agents and other intelligence services. It confirms that police powers are not just a matter of particular overly zealous police forces, but refer to the arbitrary powers of the executive and the judiciary in the spheres of war and peace, crime and punishment and any other matters which come under their purview. The Mitting Inquiry's inference is that even the "abuse" of the law is acceptable because it is all done for "the greater good."

The justification heard at the Mitting Inquiry regarding the police killing of Kevin Gately and Blair Peach during a 1970s anti-racism protest was particularly shocking and appalling. According to the police who appeared at the inquiry, there would have been more death and injuries it if wasn't for the undercover police ensuring that demonstrations were policed properly.

The stealing of dead children's identities, was said to have been regrettable but necessary to prevent risk of exposure. This echoes justifications put forward in the House of Commons for legalizing criminal acts of undercover police whose cover must be prevented from being blown.

The arguments put forward at the Mitting Inquiry repeat its recurrent and underlying theme that it is the violent tendencies of protesters which are the problem. The evidence of the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) into the killing of Blair Peach pointed out that when the "police unit responsible for killing Peach had its lockers searched, weapons found included a crowbar, metal cosh, whip handle, stock ship, brass handle, knives, American-style truncheons, a rhino whip and a pick axe handle." In this way, evidence exposes the direction of the inquiry to turn the spotlight away from the actions of the police, and to blame their victims.

Michael Chant is the General Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

(Photos: Workers' Weekly)

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People in the U.S. Determined to Decide What Constitutes Justice

No Let Up of People's Protests

The massive military presence in Washington, DC for the inauguration of Joe Biden as President of the United States as well as increased funding for police and the deployment of National Guard in several U.S. cities, has in no way stopped the people from speaking in their own name to raise their demands for the affirmation of their rights. Since Biden's inauguration, activists, defence organizations and communities have been organizing many actions, thereby rejecting the premise that their rights will be guaranteed by the Biden Administration and Vice President Kamala Harris whose legacy as a prosecutor merely seeks to conciliate the people with the rule of their oppressors. They are persisting in raising the matters they face every day: security against the COVID-19 virus, the devastating effects of the anti-social pay-the-rich offensive on the economy, the dignity of migrants and all essential workers, the right to housing for all, the demand to stop the destruction of Mother Earth, and the demand to end police brutality and impunity, and end state organized and inspired racial discrimination and racist actions.

As the trial of Derek Chauvin -- one of the former police officers charged in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 -- approaches, the one-year anniversary of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia was marked by vigils and protests across the country. Arbery was pursued and killed while out jogging on February 23, 2020 by a recently retired police officer and his son in an act of racial-profiling and vigilantism. It took 74 days and immense public pressure for his killers to be arrested.


February 23, 2021. Protest in Portland, Oregon on one-year anniversary of police killing of Ahmaud Arbery; right: protest in Rochester, New York of March 2020 killing of Daniel Prude

The City of Rochester, New York also rose up again on February 23, following the announcement that no charges were laid against the police involved in the arrest of Daniel Prude. Nearly one year ago, on March 23, 2020, Rochester police responded to a distress call regarding Daniel. They proceeded to arrest him, placed a "spit hood" over his head and held him on the ground. He stopped breathing during the arrest, and died in hospital a week later.

Protest in  Washington, DC on one-year anniversary of killing of Ahmaud Arbery

Also in Rochester, on February 1, protests were held immediately following the release of body cam footage from January 29 of a nine-year-old girl being handcuffed, forced into a police cruiser and pepper-sprayed. It is reported that the 911 call was placed for "family trouble" and that it was said the girl was suicidal. A protest was immediately called by the Community Justice Initiative at 3:30 pm the same day.


February 1, 2021. Protest in Rochester, New York after a nine-year-old girl was handcuffed, forced into a police cruiser and pepper-sprayed

Demonstrations against racism and police brutality and impunity have continued without letup. New York City Protest Updates reported on January 21 an historic class action lawsuit was filed against the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and all New York City policymakers for violent abuse and systematic First Amendment violations witnessed this past year against Black Lives Matter protesters. The lawsuit seeks to add to one filed against the NYPD in January by New York Attorney General Letitia James, by seeking both injunctive relief and collective damages.



February 26, 2021. Los Angeles held an anti-police brutality action


February 20, 2021. New York City held a protest against anti-Asian racism


January 27, 2021. Protest in Washington, DC marks fourth anniversary of the "Muslim ban"

Actions in support of migrant workers and immigrants and against detentions and deportations, with calls to shut down U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), continue to be held in many cities. On February 5, actions were held in El Paso, Texas, protesting the border wall. New York City has been holding many actions demanding dignity for essential immigrant workers. March 1 saw a protest at the Embassy of Haiti in Washington, DC demanding an end to deportations and U.S. interference in Haiti.


March 1, 2021. Protest at the Haitian Embassy in Washington, DC

February 15, 2021. New York City protest against deportations

February 6, 2021. New York City protest against Immigration and Customs Enforcement


February 5, 2021. Protest at U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas

Actions are held on the first of every month to demand a halt to evictions, and rent relief or cancellation as homelessness increases in the wake of how the COVID-19 pandemic has been managed and the dire consequences of the anti-social offensive. Homeless camps continue to be protected by activists and the community as police and municipalities attempt to vacate and bulldoze them. More than 300 meals were distributed to people experiencing homelessness in Abolition Park, in New York City.

January 1, 2021. Zero Evictions protest in Kansas City (left) and a housing camp in
Dallas, Texas


February 19, 2021. More than 300 meals are distributed to homeless in Abolition Park,
New York City

Demands for a change in the direction of the economy are presenting in many forms. Actions across the country have been held to support Amazon workers in Alabama fighting for the right to unionize. Many communities are demanding a $15 minimum wage and dignity for essential food workers. A February 1 protest was held on Wall Street to demand that the rich be taxed. On February 10 taxi drivers blocked Brooklyn Bridge demanding relief measures for debt on taxi licence plates (medallions).



February 6, 2021. Top: rally with Amazon workers in Birmingham, Alabama;
bottom: February 20, 2021. Support rally in New York



February 10, 2021. New York City taxi drivers shut down Brooklyn Bridge

Actions to block the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline included protests at Chase Bank locations calling for it to stop the $2.2 billion loan for the project. Water protectors have repeatedly halted production by occupying construction sites or chaining themselves to equipment. On March 3, 1991, Enbridge's original Line 3 pipeline had the largest inland oil spill in North America -- 1.7 million gallons of tar sands crude polluted Prairie River, a tributary of the Mississippi River. To commemorate that tragedy and continue their resistance to the new Line 3, water protectors rallied near the location of the spill.

Protests against the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota during February and March

(Photos: T. Longway, S. Dowd, B. Gutenschwage, S. Chun, A. Iwataki, J. Burns, A. Marinaccio, CPD Action, N. Aristizabal, theAfroLegalise, Black Alliance for Peace, The Indypendent, bbuuddii, BAmazon Union, NYC Protest Updates, NY Taxi Workers, Giniw Collective, Resist Line 3, Unicorn Riot)

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Police Impunity Is Dred Scott Legacy

With the upcoming trial of Derek Chauvin, one of the killers of George Floyd, the issue of racist police killings and impunity for them is on the minds of many. It is widely recognized that even if in this case there is a conviction, the problems of state racism will remain, including police brutality and killings, racist mass incarceration, inequality in jobs, housing, education, and lack of accountability.

The recent decision to have no charges for the police killing of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York -- another African American pinned down and suffocated, this time with a bag over his head, which was ruled a homicide -- brings to the fore that the vast majority of such killings go unpunished. Even New York's Attorney General admitted that the current deadly force laws in place, which provide immunity for police, "have created a system that utterly and abjectly failed Mr. Prude and so many others before him." She said serious reform is needed on the "criminal justice system as a whole."

It is not a problem of racist individuals, but of an entire racist system which is unequal from top to bottom. This reality is part of the Dred Scott legacy, based on the Supreme Court ruling of March 6, 1857, before the outbreak of Civil War in 1860. The ruling essentially said African Americans have no rights and can be summarily enslaved and executed with no recourse to the courts.

Dred Scott was an enslaved person whose slaveowner took him to reside in the non-slave state of Illinois and what was then the territory of Wisconsin where the Missouri Compromise of 1820 prohibited slavery. Scott lived in Wisconsin with his slaveowner for several years before being forced to return with him to Missouri, a slave state. The slaveowner Dr. John Emerson died. Scott then sued his widow for his freedom on the grounds that he had lived as a resident of a free state and territory. He won his suit in a lower court, but the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the decision. Scott appealed that decision. By this time his new owner, J.F.A. Sanford, was a resident of New York. Though a non-slave state, Scott was still considered his property. The case eventually came before the Supreme Court.

The case took place at a time a fierce battle was developing over whether new states entering the Union could allow for the system of enslaved labour to exist. The struggle reflected both the compromise with slavery enshrined in the Constitution and the brewing battle between the slave power and all those part of it, like northern shippers, and the power and rule by those using the system of "free labour." This struggle broke out into violent civil war in 1860. The Dred Scott ruling of 1857 was designed to forestall the war while maintaining the status of African Americans as non-persons subject to civil death.

Scott argued before the Supreme Court that he should be able to sue for his freedom and have it legally recognized. The court ruled that because of his being an African American, under no circumstance could he ever have a say-so in court. According to the court, he had no standing as a human being and never could -- his status was one of being civilly dead. According to them, his case could not even be heard as he had no standing, no legal recourse.

This is the same basis in the case of police executions -- that your case will never be heard. Civil death in the U.S. for African Americans literally means death for hundreds every year. While many claim Dred Scott was resolved in the Civil War, and the 13th-15th Amendments to the Constitution that followed, the reality remains that summary executions by police are considered lawful as the victims are subject to civil death; they are considered to be "outside the law" which is to say "outlaws," which makes them "fair game."

Today, arguments are being given that the problem is a few police or groups of white supremacists. This diverts attention from the main problem which is that U.S. national security is based on police rule, a government of police powers. Those executed have no standing. Whatever civil rights it was at one time presumed they had or ought to have, and arguments for civil rights, are being eliminated altogether in the name of national security.

Another argument given to divert from the heart of the matter is the claim that the killing of George Floyd is a particular issue of the police and not the basic constitutional arrangement, upheld by Dred Scott and since, with its compromise between democracy and the financial oligarchy at the expense of the people. Or as given by James Madison in his arguments for the Constitution which he called defence of the oligarchy against the "mob," the majority, the propertyless. Clearly, based on Supreme Court precedent, the rulers can claim they no longer follow Dred Scott, but history and the experience of the people say something different. The Dred Scott legacy means that in perpetuity large numbers of people are denied equality under the law.

As the people in Minneapolis, Rochester, Portland, Seattle, Louisville, Washington, DC and across the U.S. have said over and over, "Enough is Enough!" We have reached the limit and our fight is one for no compromise with the financial oligarchy. Our fight is for people's democracy and empowerment, where all members of society are equal by virtue of membership, their rights are provided with a guarantee and those who violate them are held to account.

No Charges for Racist Police Killing of Daniel Prude

Charges will not be filed in the death of New York man who was seen on police body camera footage being pinned to the ground with a spit bag over his head.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced February 23 that a grand jury had voted not to indict any of the Rochester police officers involved in the killing of African American Daniel Prude on March 30, 2020. As with many other cases of police killings, Prude was experiencing a mental health crisis. He was outside in winter weather without clothes and clearly with no weapons. Rather than assisting him in a non-violent manner, police pinned him to the ground with a bag over his head and kept him there. Body camera footage, released not by police officials but by Prude's family in September, 2020 showed him appearing to lose consciousness while being pinned to the ground. Police eventually suffocated him, as happened with Eric Garner, George Floyd and others. Prude's death was ruled a homicide, but, as usual, there are no charges against the police.

Attorney General James admitted that the killing was not justified and that the system failed Prude and many others. She said, "Daniel Prude was in the throes of a mental health crisis and what he needed was compassion, care, and help from trained professionals." Instead, "tragically, he received none of those things." She added that the current deadly force laws -- which provide immunity for police that claim, with no proof, their lives were threatened -- "have created a system that utterly and abjectly failed Mr. Prude and so many others before him." She said that serious reform is needed on the "criminal justice system as a whole."

Given the continued police killings with no charges in the vast majority of cases and even fewer convictions, few think James' words will translate into deeds or that government at any level will support the changes being demanded. These include community control of policing and budgets, defunding and demilitarizing, removal of the deadly force laws and accountability from top to bottom, an end to criminalization of protest and poverty. As the resistance has brought forward, justice and equality will come from the people having power to decide.

Kathleen Chandler is the General Secretary of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization.

(Photos: ShawnInArizona, S. Levine)


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Trial of George Floyd's Killer Gets
Underway in Minneapolis


May 28, 2020. Protest in Minneapolis days after George Floyd was killed

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd on May 25, 2020 is set to begin on March 8. He is being charged with second-degree murder and second degree manslaughter, which carry a 40-year sentence. Videos and photos give witness to the brutal killing, with Chauvin keeping his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while he cried out in agony, "I can't breathe!"

Many consider a first degree murder charge, which requires intent, is valid given Chauvin persisted even after Floyd went silent and stopped breathing. Two other officers helped to keep him prone, while another kept the people calling to end the brutality at bay. The Minnesota Court of Appeals on March 6 ruled that a lower court must reconsider whether to add a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin. This could delay the start of the trial.

As part of the ongoing nationwide movement to demand justice and accountability, demonstrations demanding justice for Floyd were held in at least 17 states on March 6, including California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Dozens of organizations are working together in Minneapolis to hold rallies and similar actions at the Hennepin County Court House. 

Despite a massive police presence, demonstrators plan to be in action all during the trial, which may last until April. Their demands, like those in city after city across the country are not only for the prosecutors to present a case that will secure Chauvin's conviction. The demands are for the people to have far greater control over budgets and police departments, including defunding and demilitarizing; to eliminate the known government racism of mass incarceration and policing at all levels; to punish all police violence and killings and remove the immunity police have for such killings, often in the name of claiming they "thought" their lives were in danger; and full accountability for providing equality for all. Many debates are taking place concerning what security looks like for the people, including contending with poverty, health care, housing and defending the rights of all.

While people are standing up for rights and demanding justice, Minneapolis officials have turned the city into a war zone even more militarized than the Capitol in Washington, DC during and after the inauguration of Joe Biden as president. About 3,000 heavily-armed National Guard are occupying the city centre. Military Humvees and armed soldiers will monitor checkpoints and restrict entry to the city and forcibly try to prevent people from gathering and demonstrating. Office workers in downtown Minneapolis have been ordered not to come to work for however long the trial takes.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is reported to have set aside an immediate expenditure of $4.2 million for extra policing of Minneapolis to suppress the people and an additional $35 million to pay for military reinforcements during the trial "to quell unrest" as the U.S. media call it.

Early Charges Met with Tremendous Protest

The day after Floyd's killing, the Minneapolis Police Department fired all four of the officers involved. On May 29, 2020, the Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman charged Chauvin with only third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter which aroused tremendous protest. Then and now, the people demand first degree murder charges.

Faced with broadening demonstrations against police racism and killings and for justice across the country, on June 3, 2020, Hennepin County prosecutors added the more serious second-degree murder charge against Chauvin. They also charged each of the three other former officers -- Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao -- but only with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Had a similar killing involving a group of civilians occurred, there is little doubt all would be charged with first degree murder. That remains the demand of the people not only for Floyd's killing but all similar police killings everywhere.

While a judge initially agreed to try all four together, a more recent decision means Chauvin will stand trial alone in March with the other three officers involved in the killing of George Floyd to be tried in August. The reason given was space constraints in the courtroom related to COVID-19. Given this was also true previously, it appears that the decision is more an effort to allow for a conviction of Chauvin and lesser charges or no conviction for the rest.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is leading the prosecution, released a statement disagreeing with the court's decision to separate the trials:

"We respectfully disagree with the Court's decision to sever three of the defendants from the other and its ruling on the timing of the trials...," Ellison said in his statement. "As we argued several months ago, and as the judge agreed in his November ruling, we believe all four defendants should be tried jointly. The evidence against each defendant is similar and multiple trials may retraumatize eyewitnesses and family members and unnecessarily burden the State and the Court while also running the risk of prejudicing subsequent jury pools."

Ellison reiterated that the prosecutors "are confident we can get a conviction."

Many have serious doubts about this, as the prosecution in such cases generally leave out essential facts and juries are instructed to accept police testimony and the immunity police are given. Given the worldwide outrage about this case and the continued organizing, and a desire by the government to appear to be addressing "racial justice" it is possible a conviction of some kind, such as for third-degree murder, which the prosecution has been pushing to include, will occur.

There is reported to be a split in terms of defence strategies among the former police officers. The rookie cop, Thomas Lane, has used the old and long-rejected justification that he was just following orders.

Lane and J. Alexander Kueng helped to hold Floyd down, while Tou Thao looked on. Any one of them could have prevented the killing and refused to do so.

The defence being used for all four seeks to justify what has been condemned by the broad movement for justice and equality since last summer -- which is that the state and its police power have a legal right to use force. When an agent of the state uses force, the violence is officially not a crime and cannot be considered a crime. According to this argument, none of the police can be found guilty of a crime because no crime was committed.

African Americans especially contend with this. From the days of slavery, African Americans have not been considered citizens or even persons and so have no right to even bring their cases to court while police can execute them with impunity. Floyd was killed having only been suspected of using a counterfeit $20.

Biden, prosecutors, police, all present the problem as a few bad apples and perhaps a few bad police chiefs, while the racist and brutal character of policing is considered acceptable. Such views are backed up with books and Hollywood films, like To Kill a Mockingbird. They all follow a definite script: certain police officers are bad while others are good, certain administrators are good and trying to get rid of the bad apples and others are standing in the way of doing so. Anything goes that diverts attention away from the reality of the racist U.S. state and its political and legal arrangements of inequality. The reality of existing human relations also reveal what is needed: stepping up the peoples' fight for political empowerment and modern democratic institutions and social forms where they can discuss and decide how to solve problems and those issues that affect their lives and control the outcome.

The people of the U.S. want nothing to do with this worn out script about bad apples. They are expressing their claims as human beings, the claims the people are entitled to make on society and for arrangements which bring into being a polity based on recognizing the principle that all of its members are equal. Such a polity must define rights anew, by virtue of being human, and provide them with a guarantee. What constitutes justice is for the people to decide, not their oppressors and law enforcers.

Justice for George Floyd!
No to Police Violence and Impunity!
All Out for Equality and Justice!

(Photos: MN DOT, Veterans for Peace, D. Krauthammer)

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Rome Is Burning



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Anniversary of Declaration of COVID-19 Pandemic

Global Response Required to Overcome
Global Pandemic and Its Effects on Health
and the Economy

March 11 will mark one year since the World Health Organization (WHO) released its assessment that the growing worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 constituted a pandemic. A pandemic refers to a worldwide spread of a new disease. Since then, the world has been struggling to bring the disease under control. A major development at this time are the vaccines being developed and administered worldwide, with some countries better off than others. As of March 7, there have been 117,202,151 total cases of COVID-19 worldwide and 2,601,840 deaths. The WHO warns that the pandemic is far from over and ongoing vigilance, including upholding of safety measures which have been proven to be effective such as wearing marks, washing hands and social distancing remain the order of the day even as vaccinations become more widespread.

The WHO explains: "Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body's natural defences -- the immune system -- to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. After vaccination, if the body is later exposed to those disease-causing germs, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness."

Canada's vaccination program is underway with the new Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine approved for use by Health Canada on March 5, in addition to the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines. Since Canada's economy is not independent or based on self-reliance, it is purchasing most of its vaccines from Big Pharma in the U.S. and the UK and vaccination schedules are based on supply from abroad. Nonetheless, the government's eagerness to support Big Pharma and ability to borrow private funds to pay means that the situation is far better in this country than in many countries of the world, despite the difficulties the people are facing as a result of the anti-social offensive. Overcoming a global pandemic and its effects on health and the economy requires a global response and cannot be based on financial might making right, whether that concerns access to personal protective equipment for health care workers or access to vaccines.

The scope of vaccines in development and use worldwide is not appreciated in Canada because attention is focused on vaccines made by companies from the U.S. or UK. In the case of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, for example, attempts are made to sow doubt about its clinical evaluation and efficacy. However, the British medical journal The Lancet reported on February 2 on a phase three trial of Sputnik V, saying, "The trial results show a consistent strong protective effect across all participant age groups." The article concludes by saying "The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticized for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency. But the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated, which means another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of COVID-19." The European Medicines Agency announced on March 4 that it has started a rolling review of Sputnik V, a process designed to expedite an evaluation during a time of emergency.

Meanwhile, on March 3, Cuba's Soberana 02 became the first vaccine from Latin America and the Caribbean to reach phase three trials -- underway in Cuba, Iran and Venezuela -- the final stage before a vaccine is approved for use. This is an especially important development, given that Cuba has seen a sharp rise in infections, going from 12,056 on January 1 to 53,308 on March 4 due to the harsh conditions Cuba faces as a result of the brutal U.S. blockade of the nation. Soberana 02 is being developed by the Finlay Institute of Vaccines in Havana and is one of four vaccine candidates being developed by Cuba. Soberana 02 requires two doses given two weeks apart and Cuba expects to produce 100 million doses of Soberana 02 this year, using 20-30 million doses domestically, with the rest to be exported at just above cost to other countries which are in dire need.

The development of vaccines outside the U.S. and UK are important to overcome the unequal distribution of vaccines worldwide. The Associated Press reported on March 2 that China "has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press. With just four of China's many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world's population will end up inoculated not with the fancy Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China's humble, traditionally made shots."

Vaccines Currently Approved and Deployed

Each vaccine is evaluated and approved by individual countries. The Regulatory Affairs Professional Society reports that as of March 4, there are 13 vaccines approved and in use worldwide:

1. Comirnaty: mRNA-based vaccine created by Pfizer (U.S.) and BioNTech (Germany).

2. Moderna COVID 19 Vaccine: mRNA-based vaccine created by Moderna in the U.S.

3. AstraZeneca COVID‐19 Vaccine (manufactured by AstraZeneca) and COVISHIELD (manufactured by Serum Institute of India) are ChAdOx1-S recombinant vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

4. Sputnik V: recombinant adenovirus (viral vector) vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute and Acellena Contract Drug Research and Development in Russia.

5. CoronaVac: inactivated virus vaccine developed by Sinovac in China.

6. BBIBP-CorV: inactivated vaccine developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products and the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm).

7. JNJ-78436735 (formerly Ad26.COV2.S): a non-replicating viral vector vaccine developed by Janssen Vaccines (Johnson & Johnson) in the Netherlands and the U.S.

8. EpiVacCorona: a protein subunit vaccine developed by the Federal Budgetary Research Institution State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Russia

9. Convidicea (Ad5-nCoV): a recombinant vaccine (adenovirus type 5 viral vector) developed by CanSino Biologics in China.

10. Covaxin: inactivated vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR in India.

11. No name announced: inactivated vaccine, developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and Sinopharm.

12. CoviVac: inactivated vaccine, developed by Chumakov Federal Scientific Center for Research and Development of Immune and Biological Products in Russia.

13. ZF2001: recombinant DNA vaccine, developed by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical and Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in China and Uzbekistan.


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Vaccines in Final Stages of Clinical Trials

In its March 2 "Landscape of novel coronavirus candidate vaccine development worldwide," the WHO reports that there are presently 76 vaccines in clinical development, which means they are at various phases of testing in humans, and 182 in pre-clinical development, which means they are being tested in animals.

The WHO explains: "Typically, many vaccine candidates will be evaluated before any are found to be both safe and effective. For example, of all the vaccines that are studied in the lab and laboratory animals, roughly seven out of every 100 will be considered good enough to move into clinical trials in humans. Of the vaccines that do make it to clinical trials, just one in five is successful. Having lots of different vaccines in development increases the chances that there will be one or more successful vaccines that will be shown to be safe and efficacious for the intended prioritized populations."

The WHO's vaccine landscape also notes that the 76 vaccines at the clinical stage are based on a range of 10 different platforms, listed below:

1. Protein subunit: "A subunit vaccine is one that only uses the very specific parts (the subunits) of a virus or bacterium that the immune system needs to recognize. It doesn't contain the whole microbe or use a safe virus as a vector. The subunits may be proteins or sugars. Most of the vaccines on the childhood schedule are subunit vaccines, protecting people from diseases such as whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria and meningococcal meningitis." (WHO)

2, 3. Viral Vector (non-replicating and replicating -- VVnr and VVr ): "This type of vaccine uses a safe virus to deliver specific sub-parts -- called proteins -- of the germ of interest so that it can trigger an immune response without causing disease. To do this, the instructions for making particular parts of the pathogen of interest are inserted into a safe virus. The safe virus then serves as a platform or vector to deliver the protein into the body. The protein triggers the immune response. The Ebola vaccine is a viral vector vaccine and this type can be developed rapidly." (WHO) "Replicating vector vaccines also produce new viral particles in the cells they infect, which then go on to infect new cells that will also make the vaccine antigen." (Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance)

4, 5. VVr or VVnr plus Antigen Presenting Cells: "an antigen (Ag) is a molecule or molecular structure, such as may be present on the outside of a pathogen, that can be bound by an antigen-specific antibody." (Wikipedia) In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, artificial antigen-presenting cells are used to activate the body's immune response.

6. Inactivated Virus: "The first way to make a vaccine is to take the disease-carrying virus or bacterium, or one very similar to it, and inactivate or kill it using chemicals, heat or radiation. This approach uses technology that's been proven to work in people -- this is the way the flu and polio vaccines are made -- and vaccines can be manufactured on a reasonable scale." (WHO)

7. Live Attenuated Virus: "A live-attenuated vaccine uses a living but weakened version of the virus or one that's very similar. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the chickenpox and shingles vaccine are examples of this type of vaccine. This approach uses similar technology to the inactivated vaccine and can be manufactured at scale. However, vaccines like this may not be suitable for people with compromised immune systems." (WHO)

8, 9. DNA and RNA: "Unlike vaccine approaches that use either a weakened or dead whole microbe or parts of one, a nucleic acid vaccine just uses a section of genetic material that provides the instructions for specific proteins, not the whole microbe. DNA and RNA are the instructions our cells use to make proteins. In our cells, DNA is first turned into messenger RNA [mRNA], which is then used as the blueprint to make specific proteins.

"A nucleic acid vaccine delivers a specific set of instructions to our cells, either as DNA or mRNA, for them to make the specific protein that we want our immune system to recognize and respond to." (WHO)

10. Virus-Like Particle: "[Virus-like particles] mimic the native structure of viruses, allowing them to be easily recognized by the immune system. However, they lack core genetic material which makes them non-infectious and unable to replicate." (Medicago) These vaccines work in the same way as protein subunit vaccines.

Monopolization of Vaccines by the World's
Wealthiest Countries

COVAX, an international initiative tasked with ensuring more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines has managed to send its first shipment of 600,000 shots on February 24, to Ghana. COVAX aims to redress the imbalance of supply by securing deals that send shots to low-income countries free of charge. Despite new pledges of support from some countries, COVAX still needs nearly $23 billion to meet its goal of vaccinating 20 per cent of participating countries' populations by the end of the year. However, WHO director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a February 22 news briefing that shortness of funds is not its only challenge. Deals between wealthy nations and pharmaceutical companies threaten to gobble up global vaccine supply, reducing COVAX's access, he said. "If there are no vaccines to buy, money is irrelevant," he said.

A February 26 article in Science News by Jonathan Lambert decries this monopolization of vaccines:

"Months before the first COVID-19 vaccine was even approved, wealthy nations scrambled to secure hundreds of millions of advance doses for their citizens. By the end of 2020, Canada bought up 338 million doses, enough to inoculate their population four times over. The United Kingdom snagged enough to cover a population three times its size. The United States reserved over 1.2 billion doses, and has already vaccinated about 14 per cent of its residents.

"It's a drastically different story for less wealthy nations. More than 200 have yet to administer a single dose. Only 55 doses in total have been delivered among the 29 lowest-income countries, all to Guinea. Only a few sub-Saharan African countries have begun systematic immunization programs."

The article quotes WHO director Dr. Ghebreyesus saying: "The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure, and the price of this failure will be paid with the lives and livelihoods in the world's poorest countries." The Science News article continues:

"Such stark inequities don't just raise moral questions of fairness. With vaccine demand still vastly outstripping supply, lopsided distribution could also ultimately prolong the pandemic, fuel the evolution of new, potentially vaccine-evading variants, and drag down the economies of rich and poor -- and vaccinated and unvaccinated -- nations alike. [...]

(Source: Duke Global Health Innovation Center, World Bank)

"COVAX is trying to even the vaccine playing field -- but with limited success so far. There are a lot of hurdles, from securing scarce doses to ensuring that countries have the infrastructure to handle them. That could mean equipping some countries with more ultracold refrigerators to store vaccines to revamping mass vaccination programs designed for kids to work for adults too. 'Equitable distribution will take a lot more than just securing vaccines,' says Angela Shen, a public health expert at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Vaccine Education Center.

"Three global public health powerhouses lead the international initiative: the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. COVAX uses funds from governments and charitable organizations to buy up doses from pharmaceutical companies and distribute them to lower-income countries free of charge.

"For starters, COVAX plans to distribute 330 million doses to lower-income countries in the first half of the year, enough to vaccinate, on average, 3.3 per cent of each population. Meanwhile, by June many rich nations will be well on their way to vaccinating most of their populations.

"All told, COVAX says it's reserved 2.27 billion doses so far, enough to vaccinate 20 per cent of the populations of 92 low-income countries by year's end. Actually meeting that goal is contingent on raising $37 billion dollars, and COVAX is not even halfway there yet. On February 19, several countries including the United States and Germany pledged to contribute an additional $4.3 billion to the effort. Still, COVAX is nearly $23 billion short. [...]

"Even if COVAX achieves its goal this year, these countries will be far from reaching herd immunity, the threshold at which enough people are immune to a pathogen to slow its spread. Estimates to reach that herd immunity range from 60 to 90 per cent of a population."

The article concludes by quoting Gavin Yamey, a global public health policy expert at Duke University, who says, "Many low-income nations won't have widespread vaccination until 2023 or 2024, because they can't get the doses. This inequity is due to hoarding of doses by rich nations, and that me-first, me-only approach ultimately goes against their long-term interests."

An article published in February by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism sheds light on a disturbing obstacle thrown in the way of countries hard hit by the pandemic in Latin America attempting to acquire desperately needed vaccines.[1] Titled "'Held to ransom': Pfizer demands governments gamble with state assets to secure vaccine deal," the article tells of the U.S. pharmaceutical giant asking governments to put up the country's sovereign assets -- which might include federal bank reserves, embassy buildings or military bases -- as collateral against the cost of any future legal cases their citizens might bring against the company. This would apply not only to civil claims involving any adverse effects from the vaccine, but to any acts of negligence, fraud or malice on the company's part, the article states. "It was an extreme demand that I had only heard when the foreign debt had to be negotiated, but both in that case and in this one, we rejected it immediately," an Argentinian official said.  The same demand was made of Brazil, which the Ministry of Health called "abusive." In the end both governments put their foot down and said No to Pfizer's take-it-or-leave-it terms.  Brazil has the third highest number of cases in the world and Argentina has the twelfth highest. 

Other countries that did accept Pfizer's terms have kept them secret as they were required to sign a confidentiality agreement.  An official from one such unnamed country described Pfizer's demands as "high-level bullying" and said the government felt like it was being "held to ransom." The official said that during negotiations a company salesperson said things like "Buy more, you're going to kill people, people are going to die because of you." Dealing with Pfizer's unprecedented "non-negotiable" refusal to be held liable for anything, the official said added a three-month delay in reaching a deal, pushing the country further back in the queue for the limited supply of its vaccine.

The article's authors note that on top of its attempt to force governments to assume the costs of any legal actions brought for matters that are clearly its own responsibility, Pfizer already had much of its research and development work covered by government funding: its partner BioNTech received $445 million from the German government and the U.S. government agreed to pre-order 100 million doses for nearly $2 billion before the vaccine had even entered phase three trials -- clearly a pay-the-rich enterprise at all stages.

Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America
Approves Plan of Action on COVID-19

In remarks to a virtual gathering of the Health Sector of the Social Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America -- People's Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) held on January 19, Executive Secretary, Sacha Llorenti of Bolivia, said that although international institutions such as the WHO have warned that only solidarity will guarantee the success of the fight against COVID-19, the neo-liberal system has been attempting to confront the pandemic following the rules of the market.[2]

The results of this can be starkly seen, he said, with respect to the vaccines so far made available internationally, with 95 per cent of them in the hands of just ten countries. He said rich countries were hoarding vaccines and asked, "Who decides where the vaccine goes? It is the market that is deciding. Whoever pays more gets vaccinated earlier. The richest get vaccinated first. Those who can afford it get vaccinated." With the market in command, even those most vulnerable, health care workers, cannot get vaccinated first.

The meeting approved a Joint Plan of Action based on principles of international solidarity. This Action Plan shows what can be achieved when international solidarity is the motivating factor. One of its key planks is the institution of a humanitarian airlift using Venezuela's national airline Conviasa for the transfer of vaccines, medical personnel, medicines and medical supplies to assist ALBA-TCP member countries in the fight against COVID-19.

Another important decision was the establishment of a Humanitarian Fund to set up a Bank of Medicines and Vaccines to help improve access to medical supplies, rapid tests and PCR tests, aimed especially at assisting ALBA-TCP members in the Eastern Caribbean. An initial stage will provide one million dollars to assist these small island states conclude negotiations with companies and third countries to purchase vaccines. In a second stage, another million dollars will be made available for them to access medical supplies and diagnostic tests.

Other decisions include agreements to:

- Expedite the exchange of best practices for combatting COVID-19, relating to the measures and treatments implemented by the health systems of member countries.

- Strengthen the participation of ALBA-TCP countries in the existing negotiation processes for the development of a more efficient and effective mechanism for joint purchases of vaccines and medicines.

- Promote the search for greater financial and human resources for the fight against the pandemic, as well as the transfer of technology and dissemination of scientific and technical information among member countries.

- Strengthen coordination between Health and Higher Education for the management of training programs for professionals in various clinical and public health fields.

- Strengthen the response capacity of hospital services through rehabilitating their infrastructure and the reorganization and expansion of services linked to COVID-19.

- Advance the universal and comprehensive coverage of care services for COVID-19 cases, focusing on early detection, rapid diagnosis, immediate isolation and timely treatment.

- Ensure funding and resource allocation mechanisms carry out plans and projects related to the pandemic under principles of fair trade, complementarity, integration and solidarity.

Emphasis was also put on the need to support the WHO so that ALBA-TCP member states have equitable access to vaccines, and on building an inventory of public laboratories and biological producers in Latin America and the Caribbean with technical capacities for research and the production of vaccines.

Notes

1. Madlen Davies, Rosa Furneaux, Iván Ruiz, Jill Langlois, "'Held to ransom': Pfizer demands governments gamble with state assets to secure vaccine deal." Bureau of Investigative Journalism, February 23, 2021.

2. ALBA-TCP member countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela.

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Situation in Canada

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 884,086 cases of COVID-19 and 22,213 deaths reported in Canada as of March 6. Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam pointed out on March 4 that "these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. They also tell us, together with results of serological studies, that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19."

Dr. Tam said: "Currently, there are 29,930 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data show a seven-day average of 2,909 new cases daily (Feb 25-Mar 3). Following the decrease in COVID-19 activity over many weeks, severe outcomes continue to decline as expected for these lagging indicators. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,136 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent seven-day period (Feb 25-Mar 3), including 562 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 43 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.

"Although COVID-19 activity had been declining nationally from mid-January through mid-February, daily case counts have since levelled off. As well, the emergence and spread of certain SARS-CoV-2 virus variants is an additional cause for concern. As of March 3, a total of 1,474 variants of concern have been reported across Canada, including 1,367 B.1.1.7 variants, 104 B.1.351 variants and 3 P.1 variants. With the continued increase of cases and outbreaks associated with more contagious variants, in particular the B.1.1.7 variant, in jurisdictions across Canada, we need to maintain the strictest vigilance in our public health measures and individual practices to prevent rapidly spreading variants from taking hold and making the epidemic much more difficult to control.

"A range of public health measures are already in place across Canada as we continue our collective effort to interrupt the spread of the virus, including limiting the spread of more contagious variants, while we buy critical time for vaccine programs to ramp up. Over the coming weeks and months it will be important to maintain a high degree of caution. Any easing of public health measures must be done slowly with enhanced testing, screening, and genomic analysis to detect variants of concern. In particular, there must be sufficient contact tracing capacity and supports for effective isolation, given increased transmissibility of variants of concern.

"Canadians are urged to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, think about the risks and reduce non-essential activities and outings to a minimum, avoid all non-essential travel, and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing, hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask as appropriate (including in shared spaces, indoors or outdoors, with people from outside of your immediate household).

"Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while vaccine programs expand to protect all Canadians.

"Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities and by downloading the COVID Alert app to break the cycle of infection and help limit the spread of COVID-19. Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others, including information on COVID-19 vaccination."

National Advisory Committee Recommendation on
Extended Dose Intervals for COVID-19 Immunization

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has also addressed the public's concern about the extended dose intervals for COVID-19 Immunization. The NACI is an external advisory body that provides the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) with independent, ongoing and timely medical, scientific, and public health advice in response to questions from PHAC relating to immunization.

On March 3, NACI gave its recommendation on extending the time between doses of those vaccines that require more than one injection. The summary of this report states:

"- NACI has considered evidence from recent scientific studies on efficacy and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing various health outcomes such as infection, symptomatic disease, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19.

"- While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection.

"- Short term sustained protection is consistent with immunological principles and vaccine science where it is not expected to see rapid waning of a highly effective vaccine in adults over a relatively short period of time. Extending the interval between doses was shown to be a good strategy through modelling, even in scenarios considering a six month interval and in theoretical scenarios where waning protection was considered.

"- NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the interval for the second dose of vaccine to four months.

"- Extending the dose interval to four months allows NACI to create opportunities for protection of the entire adult population within a short timeframe. This will not only achieve protection of the adult population, but will also contribute to health equity,

"- NACI will continue to monitor the evidence on effectiveness of extended dose intervals and will adjust recommendations as needed."

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