No. 6

June 6, 2021

Unsustainable Direction of the Economy
and Other Matters of Serious Concern


Denounce Inhuman Measures Which
Deprive Humanity of Treatment for COVID-19

Trudeau Government Endorses Obscene Profiteering
from a Cruel Illness

Suspension of Intellectual Property Rights on COVID-19 Vaccines
Is a Humanitarian Necessity

COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Missed Targets

- Nhan Dan -

Urgent Need to Lift Sanctions Which Deprive Entire Countries
of Protections Against COVID-19

• Alternatives Exist

Surge in Corporate Profits During Pandemic

• Imperialist Vaccine Pharmacare Reaps New Billionaires

 • Mergers and Acquisitions Occurring at Record Clip

Federal Government Wage Subsidies Expand Profits of
Big Companies During Pandemic

- Workers' Centre of CPC(M-L) -

Working People Must Wield Decision-Making Power
Over Our Natural Resources

• Aluminum Industry Plans to Pay the Rich for Modernization

Aluminum Industry's "Project ELYSIS" Characterized as "Progressive Modernization"

- K.C. Adams -

Working People of Alberta and Their Allies Confront
Australian Coal Billionaires

- Dr. Dougal MacDonald -

BC Wild Berries Are Unfit for Human and Animal Consumption

- Peter Ewart -

Quebec's Forests Are More than Trees to Harvest

- Pierre Soublière -

Mexico, Glyphosate and Bayer-Monsanto

Denounce Inhuman Measures Which Deprive Humanity
of Treatment for COVID-19

Trudeau Government Endorses Obscene Profiteering from a Cruel Illness

Picket outside Moderna shareholders' meeting, Boston, April 28, 2021

Medicine, as we are practising it, is a luxury trade. We are selling bread at the price of jewels... Let us take the profit, the private economic profit, out of medicine, and
purify our profession of rapacious individualism. -- Norman Bethune

The COVID-19 pandemic has fully revealed that blocking human centred solutions on every front has become the feature which best characterizes the government of Prime Minister Trudeau. His pandering to the demands of Big Pharma is one example, and a despicable one at that.

In this regard, his government has done everything to make sure Canadian research and development, and production facilities are stymied and the country is kept dependent on foreign ownership and control. His subservience to the Big Pharma oligopolies and cartels is every day more regrettable for the damage it causes humankind itself.

Prime Minister Trudeau not only refused to support the waiver of Intellectual Property (IP) vaccine rights, but in the same interview he announced $375 million in new funding for the "Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator," which is in addition to $940 million the government already committed. The ACT and COVAX Facility are aspects of the global vaccine pharmacare program to purchase vaccines from the Big Pharma cartels and distribute them globally.

Trudeau left it to his Minister of International Trade Mary Ng to defend Big Pharma and its monopoly right to expropriate obscene profits from the health crisis. She said Canada "firmly believes in the importance of protecting IP, and recognizes the integral role that industry has played in innovating to develop and deliver life-saving COVID-19 vaccines."

Innovative Medicines Canada, an industry group that represents some of the cartels of Big Pharma, sought to bolster the Trudeau government's refusal to waive vaccine IP rights, saying in a statement, "[Any waiver] will not address the real issues of trade barriers, global supply chain bottlenecks, and scarcity of raw materials that are impacting the supply of COVID-19 vaccines."

All these "real issues" are due to the usurpation of state power by the global financial oligarchy which it uses in its striving to take over and/or control competing interests and the global economy itself. The global economy is crying out for the removal of the narrow private interests which control it so that human brings can take it in a direction consistent with the demands of the times.

People familiar with the world trade in drugs point out that the issues of IP rights, trade barriers, global supply chain bottlenecks and scarcity of raw materials are deliberate policies to control the production and supply of pharmaceuticals, force up their market prices and ensure the existing Big Pharma cartels retain their iron grip on the sector.

A May article in the Toronto Star says, "Canada's refusal to waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines should be a crime against humanity." Shree Paradkar writes, "We've seen this circus before with the same criminal consequences. In 1996, antiviral therapy for HIV/AIDS was developed but was inaccessible to about 95 per cent of the world's people living with HIV, according to The Lancet. That's because one year prior, the creation of the World Trade Organization allowed companies to turn what were domestic patents into global ones. Nongeneric drugs cost about $10,000 a year at the turn of the century, and were well out of the reach of many people. Calls for affordable generic antiretroviral drugs [were] met by threats and lawsuits from pharmaceutical corporations. It took years to battle monopoly rights and finally make therapy affordable."

Doctors and others demonstrating at the Group of Seven (G7) health ministers meeting in Prince Charles' Duchy of Cornwall on June 2, demanded that the G7 provide vaccines to poorer countries instead of hoarding them for themselves. Health care workers calculated that people living in G7 countries are 77 times more likely to be offered a vaccine than those living in the world's poorest countries. At the current rate, it would take these countries some 57 years to fully vaccinate everyone. Protesters called on the G7 to "stop making empty promises and protecting the interests of pharmaceutical companies."

Anna Marriott, Health Policy Manager with Oxfam Great Britain, which is a member organization of People's Vaccine Alliance (PVA), denounced the obscene profiteering: "What a testament to our collective failure to control this cruel disease that we quickly create new vaccine billionaires but totally fail to vaccinate the billions who desperately need to feel safe. These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines. These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity. We need to urgently end these monopolies so that we can scale up vaccine production, drive down prices and vaccinate the world."

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, which is a PVA member organization, said, "(It is) obscene that profits continue to come before saving lives," as patent holders refuse to share their technology and production facilities. Byanyima said the scientific research that went into the creation of effective vaccines against COVID-19 was funded and centred in public institutions and should in fact be considered a joint treasure of peoples' thought material from all over the world. However, the private oligopolies that control the resulting intellectual property and the means of production manipulate that knowledge and their control of production to expropriate private profit from the health emergency and drain social value and resources from where they are most needed.

Prime Minister Trudeau and his ministers act as pitiful cardboard cutouts and programmed voices created by the promotions departments of Big Pharma. The fact that there exists a media which repeats the refrain that they are serving the public interest with their pay-the-rich schemes shows the control Big Pharma has over the state power in the countries which call themselves advanced and indispensable democracies. The rapid rise in ownership and control of social wealth by the Big Pharma oligopolies and cartels underscores the necessity for a human-centred, owned and controlled pharmacare and pharmaceutical research and production system. The current system expropriates as private profit much of the new value pharmaceutical workers produce. The drain of social wealth into the hands of the global oligarchy and its control of vital products is not sustainable or in the interests of human societies.

The privately owned and controlled drugs are circulated as user pay commodities or through private or government insurance pharmacare systems. The enormous wealth concentrated in private hands dictates control over what research is conducted, what pharmaceuticals are produced and where they are distributed and their market price. The dual pandemic and opioid crises have exposed the dangers of imperialist control and aim of maximum profit over such important sectors as health care, seniors' care and education.

Beyond the issue of the Trudeau government's support of the further concentration of wealth in fewer hands, is the issue of how the control of the oligarchs and their backward aim of government decision-making blocks the people from having a say over the health care system. This usurpation of decision-making power has become the central problem which not only blocks human progress but is overseeing heinous crimes such as the ones which deprive entire countries of the coronavirus vaccines. The concentration of control in the hands of those whose aim is maximum private profit distorts the direction not only of the pharmaceutical sector but the entire health care industry, including seniors' care.

A human-centred system of decision-making over research, development and production of pharmaceuticals is necessary to keep the new value within the public domain where it is needed, and for the people to be able to have a say and exercise control over the sector's direction and operations. The produced value when realized is necessary for reinvestment to ensure the continued research and development of pharmaceuticals and their relation to people's health generally, and to affirm the right of all to health care without restrictions based on ability to pay.

Another key aspect is to be able to realize the value of health care in the other sectors and enterprises of the economy which profit from the purchase of the capacity to work of healthy workers who produce new value. All active enterprises benefit from having a supply of healthy workers without whom their operations would cease to function. All enterprises of a certain size must pay a portion of the exchange-value of healthy workers, with payment going to the human-centred pharmaceutical enterprises and all other enterprises within the health care sector.

The claim to health care is a human right. Hospitals, medical clinics, dentistry, eye and ear care, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and equipment in general are all necessary aspects of affirming a human-centred society. For this to happen, health care and all its parts must be under a human-centred system of control so as to be freely available to all without exception.

The value health care workers create must be made available to the health care sector to re-invest in health care and in other social programs. For this to happen, human-centred health care enterprises must be established based on workers who are able to deprive the financial oligarchy of its ability to deprive the people of the right to health care, and to restrict the oligarchs from interfering politically and profiting from the work of health care workers.

How to bring this into being is a project the working class must discuss and accomplish. The starting point is to demand and affirm the right to health care for all and to denounce and reject the current direction and control of health care by the oligarchy and governments at its disposal that have turned the people's health into a cash cow to exploit and pay the rich.

The alternative and new direction belong to the working people to build and bring into being. Let us together raise our voices and work together for a new direction that affirms the right of all human beings to health care.


1. The Sword, The Scalpel: The Story of Doctor Norman Bethune, by Ted Allan and Sydney Gordon, 1952.

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Suspension of Intellectual Property Rights on COVID-19 Vaccines Is a Humanitarian Necessity

Capetown, South Africa, March 11, 2021

The governments of South Africa, India and others have asked the leading imperialist countries to suspend temporarily Intellectual Property (IP) rights on COVID-19 vaccines as a humanitarian necessity. They say their countries have the productive capacity to significantly increase supply. Their scientists and producers have the knowhow and capacity to produce the mRNA vaccine but to do so they need an IP waiver of the patent rights held by private cartels headquartered in the U.S. and Europe.

As it stands, the Big Pharma cartels oppose any relaxation of their IP patent rights. They are already reaping billions in profits and stand to expropriate much more as their own production continues and sales expand around the world. For those sales to reach the developing world, rather than have immediate production outside their control the Big Pharma cartels want global governments to provide funds through vaccine pharmacare for the purchase of the vaccines they produce. This would allow them to reap profits beyond the wildest dreams they had before the pandemic.

Governments' purchase of vaccines from the private cartels for free distribution has led to what many call "obscene profits" and charges from others that the leading imperialist states are guilty of mass murder for blocking expansion of production and delivery of vaccines worldwide.

The leading imperialist countries have already ordered more vaccines than they need, which has effectively cornered the current supply, denying vaccines for the rest of the world. The Trudeau government in practice supports the obstruction of production so that the Big Pharma cartels can reap even more billions from the sale of their own vaccines through an expanded global vaccine pharmacare program.

Regarding the current situation of COVID-19 variants ravaging the poorer countries, IP rights expert Achal Prabhala, in The Dig podcast, said that waiting for the private cartels to produce and sell the vaccines under the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT) and COVAX Facility would delay any substantial vaccine distribution in poorer countries until 2023. Such a delay will result in millions of deaths and other horrific losses and damage, in part because other measures to curb the spread of the infection and treat those suffering from the virus are not possible because of the dreadful existing social conditions.

Prabhala reports that the U.S. government and others in Europe gave the private cartels including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca "billions of dollars -- billions -- in no-strings-attached grants to do the [vaccine] research, meaning no risk to the companies if they failed. Then they paid the companies billions of dollars -- billions -- in pre-orders so the companies were guaranteed buyers even before coming into the market. Now, they enjoy global monopoly -- largely funded by taxpayer labour."

In effect, IP rights are rights to make obscene private wealth using pay-the-rich schemes, government regulations and laws, instituted throughout the imperialist system of states to serve the global oligarchy. In opposition, the people through their own efforts and organizing must bring the entire health care sector under their control and ensure it serves the people and society and not the narrow private interests of the oligarchs.

(With files from "Global Vaccine Apartheid" with Achal Prabhala on The Dig, Toronto Star, CBC, and "Big Pharma Cartel Reaps Maximum Profit from COVID-19 Pharmacare -- There Is an Alternative!" in TML Monthly, May 2021. Photos: TML, YES magazine, F. Hassan, Global Justice, Action Network)

COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Missed Targets

In 2020, the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was launched with the aim to grant all countries the opportunity for quick, fair and equitable access to coronavirus vaccines. However, the targets of the aforementioned initiative are being "missed" due to a lack of capital and the selfishness of some developed countries.

The initial aim of COVAX is to have two billion doses available by the end of 2021 to support the anti-pandemic efforts in countries. Yet, this ambitious plan is at risk of bankruptcy as statistics show that only 68 million vaccine doses from the COVAX scheme have been delivered thus far, meeting just 3.4 per cent of the plan. Meanwhile, by the end of May 2021, the world has recorded the distribution of 1.5 billion doses, but only about 0.3 per cent of them reached low-income countries.

World health experts point out that the aforementioned disappointing results are not attributed to the insufficient efforts of the people in charge of the COVAX program at the World Health Organization (WHO), but mainly due to a lack of funding and vaccine supplies, and the unwillingness of rich countries in sharing vaccines with poor ones.

COVAX was initially intended to be a non-profit financial attraction structure. Accordingly, rich countries make financial contributions to simultaneously research many different vaccines to find some effective vaccines and then provide them for free to 92 low-income countries who cannot afford to buy COVID-19 vaccines. To ensure its efficiency, this mechanism requires that a sufficient number of rich countries make investment and commit to receiving vaccines via COVAX. However, in fact, this initiative has not obtained the necessary funding to serve research and vaccine procurement in the initial stage. Many rich countries have even signed individual contracts to buy vaccines with manufacturers such as Pfizer and Moderna, thus delaying the implementation of large-scale vaccine production contracts in 2021 under the COVAX scheme.

A major problem hindering COVAX's vaccine supply efforts is the scarce supply of vaccines, which is partly attributed to the serious pandemic situation in India. The main vaccine supplier for COVAX is the Serum Institute of India, which is producing the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, with the strong outbreak of the disease in the South Asian country, the planned vaccine supply for COVAX had to be diverted to serve India's domestic demand.

The WHO and the global vaccine alliance Gavi -- representatives of organizations initiating the COVAX mechanism -- recently issued a statement that an additional U.S.$2 billion is needed to lift coverage of immunization programs to nearly 30 per cent. To secure doses for delivery through 2021, and into early 2022, COVAX needs the aforementioned sum by June 2 to lock in supplies. [By June 2 pledges for U.S.$2.4 billion had been received -- TML Ed. Note.] According to its original objectives, COVAX is expected to deliver two billion doses of vaccine worldwide in 2021, and 1.8 billion doses by early 2022. The "financial bottlenecks" are hindering COVAX's goals and efforts in vaccine delivery. Managers of the COVAX initiative also warned that if the current vaccine shortage is not urgently addressed, the "consequences could be catastrophic."

The facts mentioned above show that COVAX's plans to ensure "vaccine for everyone" and "leave no country behind" are missing their targets. This is not only a problem of COVAX founders and managers, but also a big problem globally, because variants of the coronavirus and new waves of the pandemic can penetrate and resurge in developed countries at any time. The only way for humanity to beat the current pandemic is for the governments and people of countries, especially developed ones, to share the difficulties, distribute vaccines appropriately, and join hands in the fight against COVID-19.

(May 29, 2021)

Urgent Need to Lift Sanctions Which Deprive Entire Countries of Protections Against COVID-19

The sanctions which the U.S. has imposed on various countries with the help of Canada and others, are causing grave harm to the peoples of these countries by depriving them of the ability to furnish themselves with food and medicines they require to sustain life itself. The aim of these sanctions is a particularly heinous one as the sanctions, an act of war, seek to control these countries and, if that is not achieved, to literally wipe them out. 

The urgency of lifting these sanctions came to light at the 74th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) held virtually from May 24 to 31, 2021.[1] Several member countries drew attention to the urgent necessity to lift the unilateral coercive measures imposed on countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Zimbabwe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures place barriers on access to medical supplies, personal protective equipment and vaccines, besides foods and necessities of life, thus constraining the ability of these countries to save the lives of those affected by the pandemic.

According to the Sanctions Kill Coalition, "Targeted countries face shortages of medication and medical equipment, including oxygen supplies and ventilators, protective kits, spare parts, software, fuel, electricity, drinking water and water for sanitation; [they] cannot use foreign assets for humanitarian imports, their citizens and medical personnel cannot get access to information about COVID-19, telemedicine or use communication and educational platforms."

The coalition points out that "In the long-term perspective, unilateral sanctions hinder targeted countries' ability to respond to COVID-19, to implement national response plans; result in breaches of existing regional and bilateral cooperation/integration mechanisms; make populations dependent on humanitarian aid and prevent the economic recovery of the targeted countries through the development and maintenance of necessary infrastructure. This violates labour rights, right to education, access to information, right to food and right to health of their populations."

At least 39 countries are currently subjected to unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States and enforced by, among other countries, Canada and the institutions they control. It is urgent that these sanctions are brought to an end. The high-sounding pretexts which claim to uphold human rights, modern standards and values, must be exposed as fraudulent and denounced as coverups for the crimes which are taking place against humanity.

Zoe Alexandra provides the following report:

"Venezuela's Health Minister Carlos Alvarado told the WHA on Tuesday, May 25, 'To put an end to the COVID pandemic, we need peace and need to work in harmony among our people. Which is why we demand an end to the financial blockade and all coercive measures promoted unilaterally. We express solidarity with the people of Palestine and Colombia who are suffering from violent repression. Unilateral measures implemented by the U.S. and its allies make it difficult for us to access essential products to produce vaccines and this violates the right to health of our people.'

"Venezuela has recorded over 230,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 2,500 deaths. The U.S.-imposed financial and economic blockade has had a catastrophic impact on Venezuela's economy. According to a report by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector and financial transactions since 2017 have caused the country to lose between $17 billion and $31 billion in revenue. The loss in GDP has a direct impact on the state's ability to import essential items and fund key programs. During the pandemic, this has directly affected the state's ability to take care of its people. The country has received vaccines from China and Russia. However, its payment to the COVAX initiative got delayed due to the country's financial challenges, affecting its effort to advance the mass inoculation process.

"In the meeting of the Ministers of Health of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries organized in the context of the WHA, Health Minister Alvarado also commented that 'the dominant, capitalist healthcare model where health is seen as a good which you only have the right to if you pay, is clearly reflected in the inequality of access to vaccines and other necessary supplies to combat the pandemic as it has been raised by [WHO Director General] Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.'

"In this meeting, Cuban health minister José Angel Portal Miranda echoed the demand to lift the sanctions and explained the complicated situation faced by his country, 'The intensification of the unjust economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. government, alongside the deliberate application of inhuman unilateral coercive measures, impedes access to essential resources for the development of medicine and supplies that support the fight against the virus.'

"However, Portal Miranda pointed out that 'Amid this suffocating economic war and other challenges that demand huge effort from the government and the health care sector, nothing has stopped us from implementing actions with the objective of protecting the life of all of our people.'

"Cuba is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean region to develop vaccines to combat the COVID-19 virus. It is also the country in the region that has best combated and contained the spread of the pandemic, despite the suffocating blockade. Portal Miranda credits the success of Cuba to efforts over the 60 years of the revolution wherein the country has 'sustained a health care system that is public, universal, free and accessible to 100 per cent of the population.'

"The representative from Iran also took a strong stand against blockade measures. 'We call upon all member states, the WHO, and regional and global organizations to stand against such unlawful measures to ensure rapid comprehensive coordinated global fight against COVID-19,' he said.

"Iran too suffered due to the coercive measures imposed by the U.S. administration last year. Attempts by the WHO to get testing kits delivered to Iran from the United Arab Emirates ran into trouble due to 'flight restrictions.' The UAE had to send the kits on a military transport plane. Similarly, an app to help the Iranian population during the pandemic was removed by Google from its App Store due to U.S. sanctions.

"Inhibiting a country's capacity to take care of its own population affected by the COVID-19 pandemic has global implications. As it has been reiterated throughout the Assembly, there is no way to end the pandemic if all countries are not able to contain it. The onus is clearly on the U.S. and its allies to respond to the collective demand and lift the sanctions."


1. The WHA is the decision-making body of World Health Organization (WHO). It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the WHA are to determine the policies of the WHO, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed program budget. The WHA is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.

(With reporting by Zoe Alexandra, Urgent Need to Lift Sanctions Comes to the Fore.)

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Alternatives Exist!

The COVID-19 pharmacare pay-the-rich programs, worth billions of dollars and resulting in fortunes for certain individuals in control and ownership of Big Pharma, prove that any form of pharmacare must be all-sided or it will inevitably become yet another corrupt pay-the-rich scheme for privileged global oligarchs cynically using a necessary social program as cover. To endure and be effective and not be used to strengthen the oligarchs of Big Pharma, pharmacare must encompass the development, research, production and delivery of pharmaceuticals with the aim to serve the people, economy and society and not the global rich. This requires human-centred public enterprises to organize the necessary research, and develop, produce and deliver pharmaceuticals to the people without any aspect being infected with the imperialist aim of maximum private profit.

A true pharmacare program and health care system generally are required not only for individuals but for the economy and society to function and develop. The pandemic shows how crucial it has become to have social conditions that produce and defend a healthy population. If not, as has been revealed, parts of the economy and even the whole can grind to a halt. For workers to be readily available to work, the health of the people amidst a universal free health care system must be built and maintained.

The pandemic proves that to sustain the investments necessary for a proper health care system, including pharmacare and seniors' care, the value produced in the form of healthy workers has to be realized in a proper exchange within the economy. All big corporations in the economy of a certain size must pay for this value, which in fact they require for their existence. These large corporations must be held responsible to realize (pay for) the value evident in healthy workers and the capacity to work they bring to the health care system and the overall economy. Healthy and educated workers are the essential human factor to produce new value, without which the economy and society would collapse. The imperialist oligarchs in control refuse to admit this self-evident truth, and will continue to do so unless deprived of their ability to deprive the working people of what belongs to the people by right.

The pandemic is further exposing how untenable this situation has become and that it can only be resolved by establishing human-centred public enterprises capable of research and development and delivery of pharmaceuticals needed by the people. This modern approach would eliminate the making of maximum private profit for remedies and vaccines, which is now blocking the mass distribution of vaccines to deal with COVID-19. As long as this is in the hands of the imperialist cartels the world cannot be made safe.

Globalization has taken place at lightning speed to serve the cartels and their mania for maximum profit. In doing so they are incapable of dealing with the consequences of their actions. The fight for lives is the fight for rights and this is the alternative to what the governments in the service of the rich are doing with their pay-the-rich schemes and anti-social offensive.

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Surge in Corporate Profits During Pandemic

Imperialist Vaccine Pharmacare Reaps
New Billionaires

Washington, DC, March 11, 2021

Big Pharma billionaires are cashing in as profits soar from sales of COVID-19 vaccines at exorbitant prices to governments around the world. A form of imperialist vaccine pharmacare in countries without independent human-centred pharmaceutical production has spread the COVID-19 vaccine of the global cartels to all but the poorest countries, pushing the cartels' profits and stock market prices to heights not seen before.

A handful of global pharma cartels have gained control over the thought material behind the vaccines and the vast productive capacity needed to produce the billions of doses. An international advocacy group called the People's Vaccine Alliance (PVA) warns that the various cartels of Big Pharma are using their control and connections with governments to dominate the supply and market price of vaccines. The cartels have pushed up their profits while making it harder for poor countries in particular to secure the stocks they need, while imperialist control blocks their ability to produce vaccines themselves.

The CEOs of Moderna and BioNTech top the list of nine Big Pharma oligarchs who have become billionaires with the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19. Many governments are using various forms of imperialist pharmacare to buy the vaccines from private producers and administer them free to the people. The free distribution of privately-purchased vaccines has vastly increased the sales and profits of the global Big Pharma enterprises, which in this case do not have to engage in their usual expensive advertising to push their drugs.

Forbes' Rich List has identified nine new Big Pharma billionaire oligarchs. They join a group of eight other pharma oligarchs who each already control social wealth in excess of a billion dollars. The nine new billionaires have a combined net wealth of $19.3 billion. PVA says the personal social wealth of those nine oligarchs alone would pay to vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times. Instead, countries identified as "poor" according to the United Nations have received only 0.2 per cent of the available global vaccine supply despite being home to 10 per cent of the world's population.

Big Pharma Billionaire Oligarchs

The newest Big Pharma billionaires are Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel and Ugur Sahin from BioNTech, with each now holding over $4 billion in social wealth. Others on Forbes' Big Pharma list of newest billionaires include three Moderna investors, the chair of a firm contracted to manufacture and package Moderna's product, and the three co-founders of the Chinese vaccine producer CanSino Biologics.

Eight other Big Pharma oligarchs, whose wealth had already topped the billion-dollar benchmark before the global pandemic hit, have seen their wealth grow significantly. The eight include oligarchs linked to China's Chongqing Zhifei Biological and Sinopharm, India's Cadila Healthcare and the Serum Institute of India, and holders of BioNTech stock.[1] The individuals named are joined in profiting from the pandemic by the global investor cartels, politely called "institutional investors," which own the lion's share of stock in the Pharma oligopolies.

Data from Forbes' The Richest People In The World list identifies the following Big Pharma oligarchs and the social wealth they control:

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna's CEO ($4.3 billion);
Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech ($4 billion);
Timothy Springer, investor in Moderna ($2.2 billion);
Noubar Afeyan, Moderna's Chairman ($1.9 billion);
Juan López-Belmonte Encina, Chairman of ROVI, a company with a deal to manufacture and package the Moderna vaccine ($1.8 billion);
Robert Langer, investor in Moderna ($1.6 billion);
Zhu Tao, co-founder of CanSino Biologics ($1.3 billion);
Qiu Dongxu, co-founder of CanSino Biologics ($1.2 billion); and
Mao Huinhoa, co-founder of CanSino Biologics ($1 billion).

In addition, the eight existing billionaires with extensive investments in the COVID-19 vaccine pharma corporations have seen their combined wealth increase by $32.2 billion. PVA remarks that this amount is more than enough to fully vaccinate everyone in India. The eight include Cyrus Poonawalla, founder of the Serum Institute of India, whose wealth grew to $12.7 billion in 2021 from $8.2 billion last year, and Pankaj Patel who controls Cadila Healthcare. He saw his wealth expand to $5 billion this year from $2.9 billion in 2020.


1. Forbes' 35th Annual World's Billionaires List: Facts And Figures 2021

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Mergers and Acquisitions Occurring at Record Clip

Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are a factor in the imperialist economy further concentrating social wealth and power in fewer hands. The media report global takeovers are proceeding at a record pace. Seventeen of these deals since 2020 comprise transactions of more than $20 billion with two of the largest involving Canadian-based companies.[1] The largest is Canadian National Railway's acquisition of Kansas City Southern estimated at $29 billion. This acquisition concentrates the productive power of the two railways to become the largest in North America with operations throughout the continent. It appears to be part of the strategic aim of U.S. imperialism of integrating both Canada and Mexico into U.S. homeland security and its war economy with a secure rail transportation corridor. The railway merger dovetails with President Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline as more Alberta oil will now be shipped to the U.S. via rail cars. Some commentators said this fact alone pushed up the value of the merger, resulting in greater potential profits for owners such as Vanguard from higher stock valuations for both monopolies involved. It should be pointed out that global investment cartels such as Vanguard have ownership stakes in both these railway monopolies and manipulate and profit from M&As both as buyer and seller.

Another significant planned acquisition is between two Canadian telecommunication monopolies, Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. The takeover of Shaw is valued at $26 billion. These two monopolies already have overlapping ownership and operations and will become the largest telecommunications monopoly in Canada, slightly larger in enterprise value than BCE (Bell) and Telus, consolidating the control of Big Tech over the lives of Canadians.

Another merger involving the Canadian economy is a three-way $12.4 billion deal including Toronto-based insurer Intact Financial Corp., a European Danish partner called Tryg A/S, and British monopoly RSA Insurance Group PLC.

Globally, monopolies launched $1.3 trillion in M&As in the first three months of 2021. "This [is] the strongest opening period for deal making since records began," said Matt Toole, director of data service Refinitiv in a Globe and Mail article.[2]

Not only are deals being announced, but global investment cartels such as hedge funds are increasing their stock ownership in certain companies in anticipation of seeing share prices of those companies soar when the "inevitable" M&A occurs, which they themselves can manipulate and push along.

The Necessity for a New Direction for the Economy
and Democratic Renewal

The article in the Globe and Mail speculates, "The takeover frenzy is fuelled by low interest rates, banks' willingness to lend and soaring stock market valuations." It quotes investment banker Ian Macdonell saying, "Boards [of companies] realize the competitive landscape is changing and it's harder to be a regional player, in North America or globally, so if they can't be consolidators, they are sellers. Takeover activity will continue until the credit market tightens, the economic outlook weakens or we get a significant stock market correction."

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) believes the Globe's speculation is disinformation to confuse the root cause of imperialist globalization where the rich become richer not only with M&As but through the war economy and domination of other countries and the global plunder of the value working people produce. The constant wars and increasing autocratic control of the global economy in the hands of an oligarchy underscore the necessity for a new direction for the economy and democratic renewal to form an anti-war government.

The M&A frenzy within the concrete conditions of the economy does not arise from "low interest rates, banks' willingness to lend and soaring stock market valuations." Such an analysis fails to explore the aim of the oligarchs in control and what is driving them to engage in such practices, and the consistent trend under imperialism towards concentration of social wealth and power in fewer hands as the rich fatten themselves on the wealth created by others.

The Globe's disinformation suggests that banks and their "willingness to lend" to finance M&As are somehow independent from the "low interest rates and soaring stock market valuations" and the M&As themselves. That is not the case. The banks and other financial institutions profit enormously through fat fees from organizing and arranging the deals and in other aspects of M&As.

The Globe's analysis describes various features of the imperialist economy but fails to analyze why these things occur. M&As arise out of the imperialist economy, as part of its parasitism and decay, to find maximum profit through the exchange and seizure of already produced value without going through any new production process and circulation of social product. Larger companies take over smaller or willing ones or force them into bankruptcy while the oligarchy roams the world for targets and wealth to pillage through bullying and war.

The ongoing imperialist tendency is to concentrate social wealth and economic and political power in fewer hands and to wage war for control and profit. These features are constant regardless of whether the "banks are willing to lend" or not. In fact, the banks and other financial institutions such as hedge funds are fully involved and integrated into the entire imperialist process as lenders, buyers, sellers, owners, organizers and war profiteers.

The entire process reflects the reality that nation-building is a feature of the past and that imperialist globalization, the politics of neo-liberalism, a war economy and nation-wrecking have seized control. If you delve deeply into the largest M&As, you will find that most of the private interests involved are one and the same or at least have the same aim and interest in seeing the M&A completed, or, if forced upon them, to emerge with the best possible terms. As said, the same private interests are often represented as lenders, buyers, sellers, owners, organizers and profiteers.

M&As form part of what the oligarchs call "unlocking shareholder value and shareholder value creation" and as such serve their fundamental aim to make maximum private profit in the fastest possible time. They have nothing to do with building a peaceful stable economy that serves the people, meets their needs and claims, and can be mobilized to humanize the social and natural environment. They are part of the global competition and constant wars for hegemony to become dominant in wealth and political power.

The drive to seize social wealth and power leads the competing oligarchs to enrol both public and private military might to achieve their aims to seize productive forces, markets, regions, and workers to exploit and to block or destroy any and all competitors or those who resist. The entire aim and practice of the oligarchs is contrary to the demand of humanity to live in peace and have economies that serve the people within a spirit of mutual benefit and development under their control.

A feature of the concentration of wealth and power in fewer hands is the continuous expansion of the proletariat as the largest social class. A consciousness develops that the economy is already socialized and in antagonistic contradiction with the private and autocratic control of the ruling oligarchy. The necessity for the actual producers to gain control over the already socialized economy, productive forces and social product becomes a rallying cry for change to bring the aim, control and direction of the economy into conformity with its already socialized character for the betterment of all humanity and Mother Earth.


1. List of largest mergers and acquisitions. The graph shows the largest M&As from 1879 to today. It highlights the expansion of U.S. imperialism, as most of the largest M&As during the twentieth century involve U.S. monopolies. The graph also shows the acceleration of the concentration of social wealth in the twenty-first century. 

2. Globe and Mail article by Andrew Willis: "Mergers and acquisitions activity has exploded. Here's why -- and the reasons it will continue for the foreseeable future."

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Federal Government Wage Subsidies Expand Profits of Big Companies During Pandemic

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) gives employers up to 75 per cent of what they pay to workers for their capacity to work. This government payroll rebate goes to companies while they presumably still receive whatever realized new value the workers produce. Profit derives from the portion of new value workers produce that employers expropriate. A payroll rebate in many circumstances would expand profit.

The CEWS scheme means that companies not only expropriate added-value from the new value workers produce but receive an additional amount of the reproduced-value that workers claim from the value they produce. The Trudeau government and its Finance Minister Freeland excuse this sleight of hand on the supposition that the workers may not be needed during the pandemic. The government says payment of most of workers' wages encourages companies to keep them at work whether they are needed or not.

The government dismisses the fact out of hand that workers who are not needed and not working could, or rather should, be directly given social assistance during the period they are not working without handing public funds to companies, in particular the large ones with huge resources. It says the CEWS is designed to encourage companies to bring workers back to work under the presumption that workers will generate realized revenue of at least 25 per cent of their wages. It has done far more than that for many big companies. The program has become yet another source of corruption, with big companies using it to fatten their profits and, in some cases, to attack workers during lockouts and strikes by having CEWS payments go towards the hiring of scabs.

The excerpts below in quotation marks are from a Globe and Mail report on big companies abusing the CEWS program. The May 8 article available online is headlined: "Wage subsidies were meant to preserve jobs. In many cases, the $110.6 billion response padded bottom lines." The item includes examples of big companies using the CEWS wage subsidies to boost profits and otherwise serve their private interests.

The pandemic has further exposed the current direction of the economy as a failure in all respects. The health emergency presents the working class with the necessity to discuss, organize and forge a new direction that puts the well-being and security of working people, society and the social and natural environment at the centre of all considerations. The challenge for the working class is to overcome the obstruction of the global oligarchs and their ferocious defence of the present direction of the failed economy despite its anarchy, recurring crises, insecurity and wars.

The Globe writes, "With an estimated two-year price tag of $110.6 billion, Ottawa will spend more on CEWS than it does on child benefits, health care transfers, equalization payments or pandemic benefits for individuals."

The CEWS program has greatly increased the federal deficit, prompting the government to borrow vast sums from global private moneylenders. According to existing arrangements these sums will have to be repaid with interest to these moneylenders. The servicing of this debt will become another excuse to attack the people with reductions in spending on social programs. The vast majority of public funds to service government debt come from individual taxation and user fees that working people are forced to pay.

The Globe research into financial statements of big companies traded on the stock markets of the oligarchs reveal that many workers in the CEWS program continued to produce considerable new value for those companies while the government paid 75 per cent of their wages. Many companies expropriated added-value from the realized value workers produced while at the same time pocketing the CEWS payments thereby fattening their profits.

If CEWS were an unemployment benefit for workers then it would have been paid directly to laid-off workers who were and are not working and therefore not producing revenue for a company. As a pay-the-rich scheme, CEWS became yet another factor padding the profits of big companies, as the investigation reveals. As far as saving the existence of small and medium-sized companies in crisis, an alternative could be found to turn them into human-centred public enterprises with the current owners and managers justly compensated and given positions in the newly-formed public companies if they wish. The practice of governments doling out public funds to save privately-owned companies in distress must cease and a new direction be found that serves the common good.

The Example of TFI International Inc.

The Globe writes, "TFI International Inc. has had a great pandemic. Revenue at the Montreal-based trucking conglomerate, excluding fuel surcharges, rose in 2020. Net income jumped by double digits....

"The company made a string of 13 acquisitions during the year. And after COVID-19 first gripped Canada last March, the company paid a higher (stock ownership) dividend in every quarter compared with the same period a year earlier.

"Along the way, TFI and its subsidiaries also collected nearly $75 million in payments under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, making it one of the biggest recipients in what is by far the single largest spending initiative in the federal government's history....

"If the intersection of a growing bottom line and a government bailout seems disconcerting, it shouldn't. There's no indication that TFI did not legitimately qualify for payments. The fact that a company posted solid results, paid out higher dividends, had money to spare for acquisitions, and laid off workers to contain costs, is no barrier at all to receiving CEWS payments -- despite sporadic rhetorical feints to the contrary by the Liberal government.

"And if TFI's experience seems unusual, it isn't. TFI has lots of company, according to a Globe and Mail analysis that married Ottawa's list of thousands of CEWS recipients to the Statistics Canada database on Canadian corporate parents and subsidiaries, and then cross-referenced that to the companies listed on either the Toronto Stock Exchange or the TSX Venture Exchange, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

"The result: a database showing that 389 publicly traded companies (or their wholly owned subsidiaries) received more than $3.6 billion in CEWS payments as of late January 2021 (when the Canada Revenue Agency took down the federal government's online listing of companies). Some of the biggest names in corporate Canada are on that list, including Air Canada, BCE Inc., Canadian National Railway Co., Onex Corp., Power Corp., SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and Suncor Energy Inc. Taken together, those 389 companies account for 14 per cent of the combined listings on the TSX and TSX-V. Citing privacy restrictions protecting tax filers, Ottawa has refused to release a full accounting of CEWS subsidies paid....

"Several companies did not disclose the subsidy amounts they received. And companies such as Bombardier Inc., which reported in securities filings it had received payments, had no direct name matches for itself or any of its wholly owned subsidiaries in Ottawa's online listing, and were excluded by our methodology."

The Globe investigation found that many of the 389 big companies it investigated "weathered the pandemic with relative ease, despite qualifying for assistance under CEWS." In fact despite qualifying for CEWS and receiving government payments, half of the big companies suffered no loss of revenue (gross realized income) during the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 with one quarter of the companies having higher revenue. The investigation showed that the third quarter was even better for many of these big companies with only a third suffering any kind of decline in gross income.

The Globe writes, "The picture was similar for profits. Income from continuing operations in the second and third quarters grew for a large minority of public companies receiving CEWS payments. Only a bare majority of companies saw profits slip compared to the same periods in 2019, even as the country suffered its sharpest downturn since the Great Depression.

"The industrial products and services sector topped the list of publicly traded CEWS recipients, accounting for 22 per cent of them; that category includes TFI. Technology companies made up 16 per cent, even though some benefited greatly from a surge in e-commerce during the pandemic. Oil and gas companies, already suffering before the coronavirus struck, accounted for another 15 per cent of recipients. The remainder -- including mining, life sciences, consumer products and services, and many more -- were under 10 per cent.

"Ottawa's public-facing data fail to give a full picture of how companies with subsidiaries have accessed the program. The 389 public companies in the Globe database accounted for 1,542 separate subsidies, reflecting payments to their wholly owned subsidiaries. But those subsidiaries were not linked to their parent in the searchable list that the government has since taken offline. Now, there is only a limited search function that allows users to input a specific company name to see if it has received CEWS funds.

"Clearly, wage subsidies flowed not just to companies that were struggling but to many that were strong enough to withstand the pandemic downturn on their own. Without a full public accounting from Ottawa, it's impossible to determine how many billions of dollars were needlessly spent. But it is certain that the cost of CEWS has climbed far higher than first anticipated."

This raises a question that working people should discuss. Should governments "save" struggling private companies and their owners? Has that become the role of governments in the imperialist economy using excuses such as saving jobs and rescuing the economy from recurring crises? Should public resources be marshalled to save the private interests of the rich instead of finding an alternative that solves longstanding problems and serves the common good and not the narrow private interests of a tiny minority who in fact exploit the majority?

The Globe suggests a design flaw in CEWS meant that it could be exploited by big companies that used it to pad their bottom line. It writes, "Ottawa chose not to limit CEWS to small businesses. Nor did the government only pay subsidies for workers whose jobs were at risk of being eliminated. If a company qualified, salaries for all its work force -- even in the executive suite -- were at least partly subsidized. And CEWS allowed subsidiaries to qualify, without taking into account the resources or financial performance of their broader corporate entity."

The Globe writes, "The wage subsidy program -- which, to be more accurate, is really a payroll rebate program -- was Ottawa's second attempt at a bailout of businesses threatened by the combined economic blows of the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns."

CEWS expanded who could apply for subsidies. "Not only small businesses with limited cash flows would be supported, but companies of any size could get in line....

"There was no corporate equivalent of a needs test. The ability of companies to absorb a temporary downturn was not incorporated into the determination of subsidies.... [Nor was] the ability of large companies to tap capital markets, or to simply redeploy cash from profitable subsidiaries to struggling ones....

"CEWS did not place any limits on how companies used the funds.... Ottawa declined to impose such rules and restrictions, even as it revised, expanded and extended CEWS several times past its original 12-week lifespan. But that didn't keep Chrystia Freeland ... from implying that the Liberals had done so.... She doubled down in March, saying, 'It is important for companies to understand that, legally, the wage subsidy can only be used to pay employees. It can't be used for any other purposes.'"

"In fact, there are no such rules in the legislation implementing CEWS. Indeed, the structure of the program doesn't even make such a scenario possible."... 

"[CEWS] reimbursement claims don't have to be made immediately. Under the rules of the program, companies could have waited until early February 2021, to submit applications for the initial reimbursement period in May 2020. Whether they hired or laid off workers in the intervening eight months was irrelevant. [...]

"Beyond the issue of including large companies, the program did not distinguish between stand-alone operations and wholly owned subsidiaries of conglomerates. In the case of TFI, the trucking conglomerate, the company's package and courier business was allowed to collect subsidies in the third quarter even though its logistics business revenue rose, in part, from the explosive growth in e-commerce during the pandemic. All told, 20 different corporate entities wholly owned by TFI received CEWS payments. TFI declined a request for comment.

"But TFI barely cracked the list of the top 20 companies with the most subsidiaries accessing CEWS. Corus Entertainment Inc. headed that list, with the parent company and 79 of its wholly owned corporate entities receiving a total of $40.2 million in subsidies in 2020. BCE was second, with 63 wholly owned subsidiaries; together, the parent and its subsidiaries received $122.9-million. (The company only disclosed that figure in a lobbying registry filing, saying that the subsidy amount was not large enough to merit a mention in its financial filings.)

"Another flaw that has become evident in hindsight is the ability of companies to make subsidy claims for what turned out to be extremely limited downturns in their business. A case in point: Montreal payment processing company Lightspeed POS Inc., whose stock market value grew by more than $9 billion during the pandemic, as independent retailers and restaurants signed up in droves for its payment software that allows clients to process sales online.

"Lightspeed collected U.S.$7.26 million in CEWS payments, largely because of a fleeting decline in revenue from March to June, 2020. It was the only quarterly revenue drop the company suffered during the pandemic -- a meagre decrease of U.S.$100,000. The wage subsidy it claimed was, in effect, 70 times greater than the shortfall.

"Overall, Lightspeed's revenue surged by 79 per cent in 2020. And it became one of the best performing Canadian tech companies in 2020 because of the pandemic. The company also listed on the New York Stock Exchange last September, a blockbuster debut that garnered it U.S.$332 million in gross proceeds."

Surge in Corporate Profits During Pandemic

The Globe writes, "Beyond those anecdotes, [University of Toronto economist Michael Smart] points to the surge in corporate profits in the third quarter of 2020 as proof that CEWS overcompensated businesses. Corporate profits normally take a severe hit in a recession, declining by as much as half, he says.

"Not so during the pandemic. In the third quarter, aggregate corporate profits on a seasonally adjusted basis as counted by Statistics Canada's quarterly national accounts were $12.1 billion higher than in the fourth quarter of 2019, the last full pre-pandemic quarter. By the end of the third quarter, the economy was rebounding sharply from its freefall in the spring, with GDP just five per cent below the pre-pandemic levels of February -- although that recovery was uneven between sectors.

"Government subsidies to business, including CEWS payments, were $22.6 billion. A separate tally of CEWS by the government pegged the third-quarter costs of the program at $21.3 billion.

"Prof. Smart says that means that about half the subsidies paid to businesses amounted to overcompensation, since they increased corporate profits beyond pre-pandemic levels.

"The same pattern emerged in the fourth quarter when, according to Statscan, total corporate profits were $10.9 billion higher, with subsidies slightly lower at $10 billion. That meant profits had recovered almost entirely to pre-pandemic levels, and subsidies simply bulked up the bottom line. 'There's exactly one explanation for it: CEWS,' Prof. Smart says."

CEWS Paying For Scabs

Co-op Refinery workers rally, January 7, 2020. The refinery used CEWS money to pay for scabs to replace the locked out workers.

Another egregious example does not appear in the Globe report but in PressProgress. CEWS money was used to finance scab mercenaries to replace workers who had been locked out at the Co-op Refinery in Regina, Saskatchewan. CEWS money went to pay for scabs, many of whom were being brought into the refinery by helicopter and housed there to operate it in place of the 750 locked-out workers. This struggle went on for seven months during the pandemic. The company lockout of workers reduced production and therefore its revenue, which made it eligible for public money from CEWS to pay the professional strikebreaking and labour-trafficking companies that supplied the scabs.

PressProgress quotes Amir Mawani, a York University business professor currently researching CEWS who said Canadian unions are right to be concerned about these forms of company subsidies. "You would not have to explain why your revenues went down," Mawani said. "It could be COVID, it could be a picket line, it could be oil prices going down. That should be the labour union's concern: that the very act of a lockout is making [the employer] eligible, which perhaps without the lockout, they would not be eligible."

Mawani explained that companies traded on the stock market do not have to include CEWS income in quarterly reports if the amount of money is deemed "immaterial," or insignificant in relation to the overall budget. Non-traded companies do not have to release public reports at all. "CEWS is not really a wage subsidy, it's a business expense subsidy," Mawani said.

PressProgress reports that the refinery in Regina was not the only one that used CEWS money to attack its workforce during a strike or lockout. It writes, "Federated Co-operatives Limited and several of the contracting companies it employed during the lockout appear in the CEWS database" -- along with many other employers who had labour disputes in 2020. The Canada Revenue Agency has received 1,200 complaints about companies misusing CEWS.

 Workers were locked out at CESSCO Ltd., an Edmonton metal fabrication shop, in June 2020 in an effort to force them to accept deep cuts to their wages and pensions. The company used replacement workers during the lockout at the same time as it received assistance from the CEWS program.

"University of Saskatchewan political science professor Charles Smith says this 'scab loophole' is one of many methods the wage subsidy allows employers to prioritize profits over their own workers."

The Trudeau government's CEWS program has for its aim to preserve the power, social wealth and class privilege of the ruling oligarchs and block any discussion or momentum towards a new direction for the economy. It proves yet again that nation-building in the twenty-first century is the social responsibility of the working class in opposition to the control and rule of the global oligarchy and its governments. A first step in this new direction is to organize the forces of the working people in a broad movement to stop paying the rich, increase investments in social programs and make Canada a zone for peace with an anti-war government.

(Photos: Unifor, Boilermakers 146)

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Working People Must Wield Decision-Making Power
Over Our Natural Resources

Aluminum Industry Plans to Pay the Rich
for Modernization

The Aluminium Association of Canada (AAC) submitted its "pre-budget recommendations" in a letter to the Quebec government on February 12. The letter is in fact a warning shot that aluminum workers are being targeted for attack through what is called 4.0 digitized automation.[1] To rub salt in the wound, the AAC demands governments finance this assault through pay-the-rich schemes and changes in certain regulations.

Aluminum workers and their unions have not been consulted on the AAC proposals that seek government financing to modernize the production process and reduce their ranks. Nor have they been consulted as to how workers, if made redundant through automation, are to be supported and trained for other work and guaranteed livelihoods at their existing standard of living. Automation conducted in the fashion proposed in the AAC letter with the support of public funds is unacceptable. It would result in the global cartels strengthening their domination and control over the sector and the working class in Quebec and Canada and draining the country of value. It must not pass!

A different direction must and can be found! A good first step is for workers to speak out against making the workers pay for modernization in order to pay the rich. When the workers speak out, they find out the extent of the fraud and corruption which is in the works. When they speak out the falsity of the arguments provided by the rich gets exposed. How untrue they are gets exposed. The rich think they can command the economy which is not the case. Their demand for more is never-ending. Furthermore, governments can only get away with schemes to pay the rich if they are not held to account. Now that the entire economy needs to be modernized is a time to hold them to account.


1. Wikipedia describes Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution as "the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology."

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Aluminum Industry's "Project ELYSIS" Characterized as "Progressive Modernization"

The letter written by the Aluminum Association of Canada to the Quebec government in February with its recommendation for the modernization of the aluminum sector, exposes its self-serving arguments. The letter of the AAC suggests that the aluminum industry is well placed to profit from the current trend towards decarbonization and automation. It wants the Quebec government to assist the sector in strengthening its global competitive position by consolidating its control of the North American supply chain through its "Project ELYSIS" characterized as "progressive modernization." It proposes to produce traceable low carbon material putting emphasis on reducing the price of production through digital 4.0 automation to eliminate workers and accomplish what it calls best environmental practices. To reach its goal to dominate "North America," defeat global competitors and reduce the workforce, the AAC says it must receive government funds from subsidies, tax breaks and changes in regulations. (All quotations are from the letter.)[1]

Working Class Gets No Say on Pay-the-Rich Schemes

Rio Tinto Alma aluminum workers denounce Quebec governments subsidization of company's hydro during lockout in 2012.

The AAC bemoans the fact that the cartel's factories are old and require renewal to become digitized to respond to the needs of a revamped low carbon market and global competition. All this is expensive and the industry thinks it is entitled to receive public funds to finance the transformation even though the benefits will be private. The private owners do not want to be burdened with the cost and risks of a direction they themselves have contrived. Nor do they accept any social responsibility for the workers made redundant through automation and tossed to the wind along with their families.

The aluminum cartel wants all the existing or what it calls "traditional" forms of paying the rich to remain in place, such as subsidies and cheap electricity. In addition, it wants governments to "look beyond" with augmented forms including favourable regulations and tax benefits. The cartel asks for government funds to assist directly in automating through robotization and new technologies resulting in energy efficiency, fewer workers and lower carbon output. It says that if the cartel is forced to use its own social wealth or borrow it on the private market, the return on investment from the resulting price of production would not be high enough to satisfy its investors and majority owners. To raise the return on investment and rate of profit various factors are required, which the AAC outlines as follows.

The AAC wants its cartel members to be able to rapidly write off as tax deductions any investments in 4.0 modernization. It refers to this demand in imperialist jargon as an acceleration of the amortization of capital expenditure. It demands this from both the Quebec and federal governments. The AAC insists aluminum smelters become eligible immediately for investment tax credits that are currently only available to manufacturing companies. These forms of tax credits include the amount invested for the purchase of production equipment and its installation.

Modernization Must Not Be on the Backs of Workers and Society

The AAC wants the government to furnish unspecified pay-the-rich schemes for its member companies, the three primary producers of aluminium in Quebec and Canada: Alcoa, Aluminerie Alouette and Rio Tinto. These schemes would pay for any technological improvements and components the companies may require in their 4.0 modernization programs "in the fields of automation, robotization and AI, and (to) accelerate 'ready to go' projects."

The AAC wants the government to assume any risks that may be involved with the use of artificial intelligence in aluminum smelters. It demands governments establish tax credits for any payments for consulting and training services required to adapt these technologies to smelting and to extend these credits to the use of "secondary scrap" so as to "stimulate the valuation" of smelting of scrap aluminum. Larger tax credits should also be made available, it says, to promote the electrification of the equipment and processes used in smelting as this is obviously "good for the environment." Note that cheap and abundant hydro-electricity for smelters provided at so-called industrial rates is a major attraction for the global aluminum monopolies to produce in Quebec and BC.

The AAC wants tax credits for the amount paid to construction workers on all smelter modernization projects. It also wants subsidies or tax credits for work-time required to train workers on new equipment and any technological improvements. Within all these demands, it makes no mention of the fate of workers made redundant through automation. This silence implies the industry owners do not want to bear any social responsibility for workers and their families' well-being and futures as that would reduce the return on investment.

The Green Marketing Fraud

The AAC shamelessly plays the green card suggesting all the pay-the-rich corrupt schemes it demands surrounding 4.0 modernization are good for the environment, not to speak of good for the global private interests who own and control the sector. It is fraud to keep repeating that there are common interests between the narrow private interests which benefit from the resources which belong to the nation of Quebec and the workers as if the workers cannot do without the private owners. The fraud is that governments pretend to be representing the national interest when in fact they represent the narrow private interests which are not even Quebeckers!

As if the aluminum production sector in Quebec and BC is owned and controlled by Canadians and Quebeckers, the AAC says it is constantly on the defensive against global competitors and consequently the Quebec and Canadian governments must pay to strengthen these private companies by paying for their modernization. In fact most of the new value workers have produced during decades of aluminum production has flowed out of the country, expropriated as profit by global oligarchs. This outflow of added-value includes expropriation of profit from new value Hydro-Quebec and BC Hydro workers have produced, which the aluminum cartel seizes in the form of electricity prices below the price of production.

The AAC exhibits considerable excitement over the possibilities to profit from Quebec and Canadian governments' post pandemic public spending on infrastructure. It writes, "Public procurement practices should leverage every dollar towards a more sustainable economy, enabling the use and implementation of innovative solutions using low carbon materials such as aluminum like never before. This will help achieve national targets for reducing CO2 emissions." It may be so, but who should pay? Who should decide the direction of the economy?

To promote the common corruption of theft of public resources by powerful and privileged private interests as somehow acceptable and serving the common good by playing the green card is unacceptable! The AAC says government pay-the-rich schemes to innovate the sector "is essential to the industry's leadership in the future and to its contribution to reducing 'Greenhouse Gas Emissions.'" It suggests these corrupt payments to global private interests create "national wealth" from the "R&D and potential technology exports" and for this reason "must be supported." That paying the rich creates national wealth for all, serves the common good and leads to nation-building is simply stated and pushed relentlessly without question by the imperialist think tanks and mass media. When they respond, workers and their organizations must reject this fraud as a starting point.

Workers Are Not Dispensable!

The AAC states openly that this "shift to Industry 4.0" will result in loss of employment in the sector. It expresses concern not for the working class but rather for a change in regulations that would make the absence of concern for redundant workers and the rich becoming richer and more powerful acceptable and legal. It says that the inevitable redundancies "mean that financial support policies (the traditional pay-the-rich schemes) can no longer be anchored on a jobs per dollar basis, and must instead be based on wealth creation. They (governments) must understand the wealth generated upstream from automation, robots and AI is the new paradigm." In other words, pay-the-rich schemes based on the deception of job creation are no longer feasible and now must be based on the deception of "wealth creation." The AAC deliberately leaves hazy who will seize this created wealth yet the global oligarchs control and own the means of production and according to the imperialist rules of ownership are legally entitled to any new profit and a return on investment that is competitive internationally to attract investment.

The AAC says, "Investissement Québec's financial support for the ELYSIS project is fundamental and helps anchor the development and future commercialization of technology that makes a rupture with what exists in Quebec. This financial intervention capacity must be maintained and used to accelerate industrial innovation in Quebec."

Of no concern to the AAC is the fact that private global cartels such as Apple stand to gain from the public funding of 4.0 modernization through the sale of its products and private expertise captured as "intellectual property." The AAC repeats over and over that public funds going to private interests serve the common good such as government money for "Project ELYSIS." And besides AAC says, the project will result in aluminum production from inert anodes without any release of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs). It speaks more quietly of the fact that the new production technique will certainly result in loss of jobs. Furthermore the new type of anodes, which last far longer than the current ones will not be produced in Quebec as the current anode is, at least that is the widespread belief. The fact that GHGs will be reduced and recycling of aluminum will increase becomes a cover to hide all the problems, including the attacks on workers' rights and livelihoods, and the corruption of paying the rich to consolidate their social wealth, power and class privilege.

Further Integration into the U.S. War Economy

The AAC hails the recently concluded Canada, U.S., Mexico (Free Trade) Agreement and the Canadian government's financing of the aluminum industry's "stronger" integration into the U.S. (war) economy. Aluminum is crucial to the U.S. military, its war materiel and preparations, and the U.S.-dominated auto industry and other manufacturing.

To ensure this integration into the U.S. war economy and Homeland Security, the AAC wants the "implementation of traceability technology in aluminum smelters in Canada, with the financial support of the Canadian government." Traceability "will help to ensure (that) this link" with the U.S. economy remains secure, as U.S. leaders will be confident the aluminum does not come from global competitors, in particular China and Russia against whom they are generating hatred in preparation for war. In this regard the AAC commends "funding through Canada Economic Development required point-of-entry tracing technology to allow full traceability of metals in the downstream value chain. The government of Quebec should ensure access by processing SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] to the appropriate point-of-entry technology by providing financial support through existing programs such as 'industry 4.0.'"

This means all mining, refining and processing in Quebec and Canada will be subject to "security clearance" from U.S. imperialism to prove loyalty and willingness to engage in war preparations against China, Russia and all others the U.S. declares an enemy. In this way the aluminum sector and all its parts are ensured integration and entry into the U.S. market.

The working class throughout Quebec and Canada has to deal with how attacks on its rights and claims, such as those proposed by the AAC, are permitted by governments to proceed without resistance and defiance. Workers and their organizations will need to tackle the demands of global oligarchs in light of the need for modernization. The 4.0 automation in the way the AAC describes with pay-the-rich schemes, nation-wrecking, no attention to the well-being, rights and claims of the working people and clamouring for competition and war must be confronted before it is too late and the entire country is dragged to war. A new direction is required that defends the rights of workers and nation-building with the objective of bringing into being an independent self-reliant human-centred economy that stops paying the rich, increases investments in social programs, trades with all peoples in a spirit of mutual benefit and development and peace. A starting point in this direction is the rejection of the proposals put forward by the AAC letter and demand that the government listen to the workers.


1. For the AAC letter click here. English translation by TML.

(Photos: TML, S. Duchenes)

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Working People of Alberta and Their Allies
Confront Australian Coal Billionaires

Calgary, March 28, 2021

A powerful mass movement has built in Alberta against the recently revealed plans of the ruling United Conservative Party (UCP) government to sell out Alberta's coal reserves on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains to Australian coal monopolies for a song. The mined coal was to be ripped and then shipped to Asia. The protesters rightly view open-pit coal mining in the province's critical watersheds as a big threat to their communities, the environment, and their livelihoods.

Hundreds of thousands of Albertans from all walks of life have been protesting the attempted coal sellout through organized groups, alliances, public forums, lawn signs, and a number of petitions that have gathered in total over 100,000 signatures. Early results from a May 2021 provincial survey of over 25,000 people show Albertans have major concerns about expanding the industry. "More than 90 per cent of respondents felt there are areas of the province that are not appropriate for coal exploration and development," say the survey results released May 21.

The UCP revealed their plan to sell out to the Australian monopolies in May 2020 when the government rescinded Alberta's Coal Policy, which for 44 years has kept 1.5 million hectares of lands on the eastern slopes of the Rockies off limits from open-pit mining. The UCP axed the 1976 Coal Policy with no public consultation, although they did consult the Alberta-based Coal Association of Canada which represents the coal mine owners. The UCP denies that its aim was to open up the eastern slopes to the mining monopolies but Australia-based Capital Investment Partners, which owns four coal companies with leases in the central Rockies, reported to investors in 2019 that "the Alberta government is in the process of changing the coal policy to allow more open pit mining."

The intensity of the ongoing protests to date has forced the UCP to backtrack or at least to pretend to backtrack. Alberta's Minister of Energy Sonya Savage, a former pipeline executive, announced in a news release on January 18 that due to public opposition the prior sale of eleven coal leases to the Australian monopolies would be cancelled and that no more would be sold on land where open-pit mines were forbidden under the old policy. Protestors pointed out that the cancelled leases were only a tiny fraction of the leases sold since the Coal Policy was quashed.

On February 8, Savage reversed the decision to rescind the 1976 Coal Policy, claiming that the UCP now plans wide-ranging consultations on a new coal policy. She announced that a five-person committee has been appointed headed by a private consultant who has worked for the World Bank and is a member of the neo-liberal, corporate-funded Canadian Global Affairs Institute. Of course, Albertans are well aware that all such UCP-initiated consultations are phony and will only lead to conclusions predetermined by the monopolies and their sellout government.

Between 2003 and 2013, the Australian monopolies mined at home, supplying growing Asian markets with iron ore, steel-making coal, and coal for generating electricity and making huge profits. But declining resource quality as well as people's increased opposition to open-pit mining in Australia has forced the Australian monopolies to look elsewhere for coal to ship to Asia. Australian coal monopolies are now hoping that Alberta's sellout UCP government will offer the same formula underlying their past success in Australia: low royalties, low corporate taxes, minimal regulations, and cooperative politicians. In other words, the same formula the UCP uses with the fossil fuel monopolies operating in Alberta.

The UCP's shady moves in the interests of the Australian coal billionaires illustrate once again how the global monopolies privately own and control the contemporary economy and dominate official politics. Their private ownership exists in contradiction with the modern economy's socialized nature, its interlocking reality and the billions of actual producers who create the social product necessary for the existence of the people and society but have no say over the economy's direction.

The aim of private ownership is to make maximum profit from the parts of the economy the owners control -- such as coal mining -- and force the state to do their bidding and pay the rich. This leads to dysfunction in the economy and recurring crises as the competing parts conflict with each other and with the interests of the actual producers who have no say. The narrow aim of the coal oligarchs for their private gain, for example, clashes with the need of the various sectors and enterprises of the economy to function in harmony for the common good.

The objective conditions pose the issue of how to deal with environmental problems and the despoiling of nature, such as is the case with open pit coal mining, where the tops of mountains are literally cut off and the "waste" thrown into nearby river valleys to block flow and pollute the waterways with dangerous chemicals such as selenium. The key problem is that people lack control over their economies and official politics. Without taking into account the domination of the global monopolies over everything, most efforts to deal with environmental problems get manipulated by the very forces causing the problems and turned into programs to pay the rich.

Of course, issues such as industrial and other pollution, land degradation, soil dispersal, dust, incessant noise, poisonous gases, and water contamination, all effects of open-pit mining, can each be raised on their own. Suggestions, campaigns and remedies can be fought out to a temporary resolution such as the UCP's cancellation of some coal leases, reversal of the rescinded coal legislation, and the "promise" to hold consultations to develop a new coal policy. 

However, to turn any success into lasting victory, the problem of the oligarchs' overall domination of all aspects of life must be raised and confronted in a serious way and major efforts put into overcoming this domination and building the New.

(Photos: A. Woo, Nipissing Water Protectors)

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BC Wild Berries Are Unfit for Human
and Animal Consumption

Rally in Prince George, November 12, 2020 calling for an end to Glyphosate spraying

Is it a good idea to pick and eat wild raspberries and blueberries in forest cutblocks in the Central and Northern Interior of British Columbia? Not if these lands have been sprayed with the weed-killer glyphosate sometime in the last few years. And the same caution holds true for wildlife such as moose and bears who, besides berries, consume large quantities of fireweed, willow and dogwood shoots, all of which can contain low levels of glyphosate residue for relatively long periods of time.

These are the conclusions that can be drawn from a recently published research study carried out by a team of University of Northern BC scientists, N. Botten, L.J. Wood, and J.R. Werner. Their findings go directly against the message repeated by the manufacturer of glyphosate, Bayer-Monsanto, that the weed-killer quickly disappears from the plants and general environment after it is sprayed and is not harmful to humans or wildlife.[1]

Currently, certain big forest companies helicopter spray upwards of 17,000 hectares of BC forests (especially in the Interior) with glyphosate every year and this has been going on since the early 1980s. The total area sprayed amounts to 1.3 million hectares either sprayed or manually brushed. The aim is to kill off broad-leafed trees like birch and aspen and facilitate the growth of the so-called "money trees" spruce and pine. The forest companies are obligated to do this under provincial government regulation.

The results of this research study are disturbing. For example, one year after glyphosate treatment, 26 per cent of raspberry and blueberry fruit samples taken from cut blocks in the research study would be "deemed unfit for human consumption" if assessed by Canadian Food Inspection Agency standards. Glyphosate and AMPA (the metabolite derived from it) residues were detected in the fruits for at least one full year after spraying. In addition, low levels of weed killer residue persisted in raspberry shoots, fireweed shoots, and willow shoots for at least six years and in fireweed roots for twelve years.

Indigenous people have said for years that eating glyphosate-sprayed berries and medicinal plants has sickened them, and there are anecdotal reports of others being affected also. The long-term effect on wildlife is unknown.

In the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere, literally thousands of lawsuits have been launched by individuals who claim that they have contracted cancer and other illnesses because of prolonged exposure to glyphosate, with one terminally ill groundskeeper being awarded $289 million in damages in a California court. As a result, the Bayer-Monsanto corporation has agreed to pay $10.9 billion into a fund to settle the thousands of other court cases.

What has been revealed in these legal proceedings is that Bayer-Monsanto has been systematically recruiting scientists to publish studies that defend the use of glyphosate, going so far as to "ghost write" a number of research studies under their names. Unfortunately, Canadian and American government authorities are basing their decisions to allow widespread glyphosate spraying on such deeply flawed studies.

In BC, there is broad opposition by farmers, trappers, foresters and others to glyphosate spraying. An organization, Stop the Spray BC has been founded specifically to oppose the widespread spraying of the weed-killer. The chemical has been banned for use on crown lands in Quebec, and banned completely in Germany, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and other countries.

Yet the BC provincial government continues to authorize the helicopter spraying of glyphosate across our Interior forests, which are already suffering from pine and spruce beetle epidemics, overcutting, erosion, flooding, fires and a host of other problems.

Now berry picking -- a pastime that many people in the Central Interior and North have enjoyed since time immemorial -- is threatened.


1. N. Botten, L.J. Wood, & J.R. Werner,  "Glyphosate remains in forest plant tissues for a decade or more, Forest Ecology and Management, 2021

(Photos: H. Petersen)

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Quebec's Forests Are More than Trees to Harvest

Today, the ruling elites continue their reckless and socially irresponsible pursuit of maximum profit and push their pay-the-rich schemes, all the while claiming to be concerned for the future of Mother Earth. It is a sordid and profane show of buffoonery to make light of such grave matters. A case in point is the forest industry in Quebec, which considers Quebec's forests to be "trees to harvest," the workers costs, and Indigenous peoples obstacles to their plunder.

Today, the forest industry is very much alive to one extent or another in 157 Quebec municipalities. In the Outaouais, for example, a region built on the wood industry, it still accounts for 50 per cent of manufacturing production. The problem is not wood-cutting per se, but rather the historical access that companies have had to our forests and their indifference to and covering up of the actual harm that this is causing to the natural and social ecosystems.

It's not that the alarm has not already been sounded. In 1999, the documentary L'erreur boréale, by Quebec artist and spokesperson for Action boréale Richard Desjardins was aired, expressing concern over the dangers of clear-cutting and the blind destruction of our forests. The film had a momentary impact in that, among other things, the Quebec government at the time set up the Coulombe Commission which was to look into the matter. More than 20 years later, Action boréale still affirms that the situation is critical and that the Quebec government still considers our forests to be the "lumber yard" of forestry companies. Recently, 67 Quebec scientists, in an open letter, denounced the "industrial" vision of the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks and called for the creation of a "national observatory," independent of government so as to have a better assessment of the condition of our public forests.

The situation is such that forestry companies speak eloquently about measures taken to fight carbon emissions and to "reduce their environmental footprint" and in the next breath demand governments "increase the allowable cut," meaning provide even greater latitude to cut more trees at further reduced costs. Now, with the high price of lumber, the only "green" they are concerned about is the colour of money. In this respect, the Quebec government -- always at the disposal of the wood industry -- presented its Strategic Plan 2019-2023 in which it announced increased harvesting of Quebec forests in the upcoming decades which, it claims, will contribute to "the fight against climate change" and to "economic development." It also announced with its recent budget that important cuts were to be made to the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.

As for the forest industry, it goes from one crisis to another, from one plant closure to another. In the Outaouais, the Fortress plant in Thurso has been closed for more than a year-and-a-half, one of a number of plants that have been shut down in Quebec. Much of the wood industry has always been dominated by foreign -- especially U.S. -- private interests, and today it is even more concentrated in the hands of "asset management" companies for whom the wood sector is solely a means to make shareholders rich without assuming the least responsibility towards communities, the environment or workers.

Ask the White Birch workers of Stadacona. A few years ago when the company went under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the plant was purchased by Black Diamond, one such asset management company. Black Diamond proceeded with "restructuring" that, along with a number of layoffs and setbacks in working conditions, cut dramatically into the pensions to which workers had contributed all their lives. In spite of numerous obstacles and total government indifference, these retirees are still struggling in defence of their dignity and to reclaim what is theirs by right.

In the case of Fortress, its closure has had an impact on many other plants and sawmills in the region. There is a need to take a step back and consider the problem in its entirety, as an organic entity in which human beings and nature are interconnected, and where the main preoccupation for workers and communities is to act responsibly towards society and nature. For example, certain municipalities and organizations are recommending that the medicinal and food value of forests be considered. The pressure against this is to impose the vision that the problem is simply of timber supply. This pressure can be seen in the report of an "intervention cell" set up to study the crisis in the forest industry in the Outaouais and the Laurentides. The proposals put forward are basically aimed at "improving activities related to supply in these regions" and "taking advantage of the value-creating potential offered by the forestry sector in these regions." It also asks that the Quebec government "do what is necessary to bring about a breakthrough in the negotiations with the Algonquin community of Lac-Barrière."

A clear line of demarcation is being drawn. On the one hand, there are the private interests and governments who want to keep the decision-making power firmly in their hands so as to continue to act unilaterally at the expense of the natural and social environment. On the other, there are the workers, the Indigenous peoples and the Quebec people, especially the youth, who have expressed in numerous ways their opposition to the destruction of their natural and social ecosystems. They are taking into account the real harm being caused to Mother Earth, including the very social fabric, and want to be an integral part of decision-making on matters that have such life-changing impacts on their immediate environment and the future of humanity itself.

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Mexico, Glyphosate and Bayer-Monsanto

Mexico is the ancient home of corn. Over thousands of years, the Mayans and other Meso-Americans developed corn (also known as maize) into a crop, using its many varieties as a staple food to fuel their civilizations.[1] It is this sacred food which is under threat today from multinational chemical companies and the U.S. government who are demanding that Mexico keep its doors open to the weed killer glyphosate and genetically modified corn.

In December 2020, responding to farmers, Indigenous peoples and others, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador issued a decree phasing out glyphosate by 2024. The decree states that "in recent years, different scientific investigations have warned that said chemical has harmful effects on health, both in humans and in some animal species, and has been identified as a probable carcinogen in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer."

In that regard, Mexico is not alone in its concerns. People in the U.S and Canada have launched thousands of lawsuits and protests against Bayer-Monsanto (the giant multinational which manufactures glyphosate) on the grounds that the chemical caused cancer and other illnesses. For example, a California school groundskeeper who used glyphosate in his duties was recently awarded $289 million in damages by a jury after he contracted a terminal case of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Bayer-Monsanto has even been forced to announce that it will pay $10.9 billion into a fund to settle tens of thousands of court cases.

Glyphosate is a chemical that "inhibits photosynthesis (the process of making new tissue) in plants, making it a very effective weed killer."[2] Plants not resistant to its effects shrivel up and die. Around the world, about 820 million kilograms are used every year with a large portion in North America. The weed killer was first developed by Monsanto back in 1974 and marketed as "Roundup." But production really took off after the corporation introduced "Roundup Ready" crops in 1996.

These crops, including corn, soy and canola, were genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate. Thus, fields could be drenched with the chemical, killing weeds but allowing the cash crops to survive. In addition, it is also used to spray golf courses, school playgrounds, and other venues, as well as forest lands in the Interior of BC so as to kill off broad leaf species of trees and promote the "money trees" of spruce and pine.[3]

Today, much of the grain and pulse crops in Canada and the U.S. are dependent in one way or another on the spraying of glyphosate. The U.S. exports about $3 billion of genetically modified, glyphosate-tolerant corn every year to Mexico which makes Mexico dependent on a foreign country for much of its basic food. This corn, which is mainly used for livestock feed, is heavily subsidized by the U.S. government making it hard for Mexican farmers to compete.

As a result of its widespread usage, the chemical seeps into just about every corner of North American life, whether food, soil, water or air. For example, in 2015-2016, glyphosate residue was detected in 36.6 per cent of grain products, 47.4 per cent of bean, pea and lentil, and 11 per cent of soy products. Over 31 per cent of cereals for infants contain the chemical. It has also been found in beer and other products. The problem is compounded in Mexico because human and livestock consumption of corn is high. An added problem for Mexico is that this imported genetically modified corn from the U.S. threatens the diverse native species of corn developed over the centuries by Mexican farmers. For this and other reasons, the Mexican presidential decree will also block the importation of genetically modified corn by 2024.

According to President López Obrador, the purpose of the decree is to place "political power first and foremost at the service of the public interest" and the "general welfare of the population," and "not private interests." It is to be "congruent with the agricultural traditions of Mexico"[4] and to achieve self-sufficiency and food sovereignty.

In response, successive U.S. administrations have put pressure on the Mexican government to revoke the decree. Various leaked documents have exposed how top U.S. government officials have worked closely with Bayer-Monsanto to force Mexico to back down.[5] This happened to the government of Thailand which some observers believe reversed a ban on glyphosate after pressure from U.S. officials and Bayer-Monsanto.[6] However, so far, Mexico has not changed its position despite threats that provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal (USMCA) could be used against it, as well as other means. Seventeen legal challenges have been filed against the planned ban, but none yet have been successful.

It is indeed one of the great ironies of the current model of corporate-dominated globalization that the very country that created cultivated corn for the people of the world is now having an adulterated, toxic version shoved down its throat.


1. Betty Fussell, The Story of Corn, University of New Mexico Press, 1992.

2. Environmental Defence, "What's in your lunch. How glyphosate finds its way into your children's food."

3. Stop the Spray BC.

4. Pesticide Action Network, "Mexico ousts glyphosate and GM corn."

5. Kenny Stancil, "Emails reveal U.S. officials joined with agrochemical giant Bayer to stop Mexico's glyphosate ban," Common Dreams, February 16, 2021.

6. Patpicha Tanakasempipat, "Bayer campaign against glyphosate ban revealed," Bangkok Post, September 18, 2020.

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