TML Monthly Supplement

No. 8

March 21, 2021


On the Right to an Informed Vote

Small Parties Demand an End to Election Broadcasting Privileges and Uphold Right to Equality and an Informed Vote

Letter to Broadcasting Arbitrator from
Majority of Registered Parties

Submission of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada to the
Leaders' Debates Commission

- Anna Di Carlo, National Leader -

Environmental Conservation Questions

The Need for a Dialectical Approach to Forestry

- Peter Ewart -

CPC(M-L)'s Position on Environmental Questions

- K.C. Adams -

• Questions and Answers

Fight Against Global Pandemic

Cuba Leads in Global Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic

- Isaac Saney -

• Video: Innovation in Cuba's Biotech Sector

The IMF's Grip on Latin America

- Hedelberto López Blanch -

Briefing on the China-WHO Joint Study of the
Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic

On the Right to an Informed Vote

Small Parties Demand an End to Election Broadcasting Privileges and Uphold Right to Equality and an Informed Vote

In this Supplement, TML Monthly is publishing a letter submitted by 11 of Canada's twenty registered parties calling on Broadcasting Arbitrator Monica Song to use the discretionary powers granted to her office to uphold the right to an informed vote by allocating air time for television and radio election advertising equally to all parties and urging the other parties to support this position. The letter was submitted to a November 2020 meeting of registered political parties convoked by the Arbitrator to determine the allocation.

The Canada Elections Act includes a "statutory formula" for the distribution of election broadcasting time, both paid and free, to registered political parties. Enacted in 1974, the formula uses weighted factors based on a party's past electoral performance to allocate time: the number of seats it won in the previous election, the percentage of votes it received, and the number of candidates fielded. The formula is first used to divide up 390 minutes of prime-time that certain licensed networks must each make available for purchase by political parties during an election campaign. The same proportion of time is then applied to distribute a smaller amount of free time the networks are required to provide for election ads, at an airing time of the networks' own choosing. The amount of paid time allocated to a party used to also determine the maximum time a registered party could purchase, but in 1993 this aspect of the law was struck down as an unconstitutional limit on freedom of expression. Today, the broadcasting regime's sole effective purpose is to distribute free time on an unequal basis. A party can buy as many ads as its wealth allows, so long as it does not exceed the election spending limits.

The election law's broadcasting regime was initially administered by the head of the Canadian Radio-television Commission, which in 1976 was renamed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). In 1993 the election law was amended to create the position of a Broadcasting Arbitrator with discretionary powers to change the allocation should it be "unfair to a political party or contrary to the public interest." The Broadcasting Arbitrator is required to convene an annual meeting of all registered parties to deliberate on the allocation with the purported aim of arriving at a consensus among the parties on the division of time. Failing a consensus, the Arbitrator decides.

The November 2020 Broadcast Allocation meeting saw an intense discussion in which the small parties argued out the need for the principle of equality to be upheld. The Liberal Party was the only party in the House of Commons that attempted to mount a defence for the law, suggesting that it reflects the "will of the people" by virtue of it having been adopted by Parliament. This also pointed out that the parties in the House of Commons all voted against equality.

In January, the Broadcasting Arbitrator issued her ruling, upholding what is referred to as a "50-50 modified approach," whereby 50 per cent of the available time is allocated equally and the other half according to the statutory formula. On this basis, the five parties in the House of Commons have been allocated 58 per cent of the available air time. The Liberals and Conservatives end up with 77.5 and 70 minutes respectively, the NDP 33 minutes, the Bloc Québecois 23 and the Greens 16. The MLPC is entitled to buy nine minutes, with the other small parties in the range of six to nine minutes as well. The ruling can be read in its entirety here.

Since the regime was enacted, 13 federal elections have been held, each with air time distributed in a manner that privileges the incumbent political parties. The 1979 federal election was the first to be held under the broadcasting regime, at a time when there were six registered parties, including the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada. Of the 390 available minutes, the Liberals were allocated 155; the then-Progressive Conservatives 134, and the NDP 63 minutes. The Social-Credit received 22. The MLPC, which fielded 144 candidates, was allocated eight minutes and the Communist Party the same.

On May 18, 1979, the MLPC sent its first letter of protest on the matter to the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada and the CRTC Commissioner. It objected to how the monopoly-controlled media "divided the political parties between 'major' and 'minor' parties," in an attempt to justify their failure to inform the electorate about the views of all parties. The letter particularly criticized the CRTC for its failure to uphold the provisions of the Canadian Broadcasting Act which stipulates that the media must provide a "reasonable balanced opportunity for the various points of view on matters of public concern..."

The letter stated that, "while the Marxist-Leninist Party has to obey all their laws, it does not have the same rights. [The ruling parties] have all the rights to concoct laws and they enforce those which serve their interests, while the working class and the broad masses of the people have no rights whatsoever." The letter concluded that "the election results cannot be considered as the results of a democratic process from either the narrowest or broadest definition of the term."

In June 1996, on the initiative of the MLPC, nine registered political parties made a joint submission to the Broadcasting Arbitrator, highlighting the importance of upholding the right to an informed vote and the equality of political parties within the context of the growing political discontent and loss of credibility of the electoral and political process. For the text of the brief, click here. This was further argued out by a follow-up letter from MLPC National Leader Hardial Bains. For the text of the letter, click here

Five years later, on June 1, 2001, then-Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley recommended to Parliament that the election law be amended to sever the free time allocation from the statutory formula. He proposed that the number of stations required to provide free time be expanded and that the free time be allocated equally amongst all registered political parties. His recommendation was rejected by the House of Commons. Since then, the recommendation has been reiterated by Chief Electoral Officers Marc Mayrand and then, Stéphane Perrault, again only to be dismissed out of hand by the parties in the House of Commons.

The decision by the Broadcasting Arbitrator, which benefits some political parties over others is neither reasonable nor perceived to be democratic. Enabling Canadians to exercise their right to an informed vote requires measures which at the very least inform them properly of the presence and positions of all those who are participating in an election.

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Letter to Broadcasting Arbitrator
from Majority of Registered Parties

November 8, 2020

Monica Song,
Broadcasting Aribtrator

Re: 2020 Allocation of Broadcasting Time

Congratulations on your appointment as Broadcasting Arbitrator. We look forward to working with you.

We, the undersigned, are writing to propose that you use the discretionary powers accorded to the Broadcasting Arbitrator by the Canada Elections Act (CEA) to allocate broadcasting time for 2020 equally to all registered political parties. We think such use of your discretionary power is appropriate because any allocation that is not based on the principle of equality is not only unfair to all but the larger parties already represented in Parliament; it is also against the public interest.

When a publicly owned/controlled resource such as election broadcasting time is put at the disposal of registered political parties, it must not be used to benefit some parties over others. An allocation based either on the statutory formula or on the 2019 "50-per cent modified approach" does not uphold the democratic principle of enabling Canadians to exercise an informed vote.

Arguments to justify preferential treatment for some parties were first advanced in the 1930s before political parties were even recognized in the CEA. They articulated a concept of "free and fair" elections in which certain parties were to be favoured with publicly controlled airtime if they had a reasonable chance of forming a majority government. At the time, only two political parties were considered to be "viable" for this purpose. Today, there are many more parties, and arguments claiming that some deserve more free time so that they can be heard over others do not stand up to modern democratic standards.

Coupled with the unfair free-time broadcasting allocation, both broadcasting and print media news coverage are also highly discriminatory. The 2019 Federal Election saw an almost complete blackout of the small parties by national media outlets.

Furthermore, not just during an election but between elections as well, the political parties with seats in the House of Commons receive extensive news coverage, especially the ruling party. On the other hand, the media erects a virtual hermetic wall of silence around the small parties, broken only on very rare occasions.

Over the past three decades, successive governments have rejected recommendations to reform the broadcasting allocation to make it democratic. As far back as the 1992 Royal Commission on Electoral Reform, the regime's unfairness and its failure to contribute to an informed vote has been raised as a problem. The Royal Commission's arguments included a survey showing that more than 53 per cent of Canadians wanted to hear more about the small parties.

For two decades, Elections Canada has recommended the equal allocation of free time among all registered political parties. In 2001, then Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley argued that the use of the paid-time formula to determine free time is "to the disadvantage of small and new parties, because they do not have the resources of the well-established parties to pay for air time, with the result that they are given less free time as well."

This recommendation came after the Alberta Court of Appeal had ruled in 1995 that the paid-time allocation could no longer be used as a limit on how much broadcasting time a party can purchase. Thus, the argument that the paid-time allocation formula serves to prevent a party with more money from dominating the airwaves was rendered void. Any party can buy as many ads as it wants so long as it doesn't exceed the spending limits.

After the 2003 ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada [Figueroa v. Canada (Attorney General)], the Chief Electoral Officer added that the allocation regime is potentially a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In that case, the Government argued that Charter violations of the right to elect and to be elected could be justified because "a party that does not participate in an election with a view to forming a government, or at least of winning a substantial number of seats in Parliament, is not a party that possesses the capacity to advance the objective of effective representation." The Supreme Court did not agree. It found that legislation informed by the aim of giving rise to a particular form of responsible government was "problematic."

"Legislation enacted for the express purpose of decreasing the likelihood that a certain class of candidates will be elected is not only discordant with the principles integral to a free and democratic society, but, rather, is the antithesis of those principles," the Supreme Court stated.

Following the 2015 Federal Election, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand reiterated Mr. Kingsley's 2001 recommendation. The Committee on Procedures and House Affairs promised to "revisit" the matter later, a promise that remains unfulfilled.

The current allocation of broadcasting time benefits political parties with seats in the House of Commons -- some more than others -- at the expense of the parties with no seats in the House. It is neither reasonable nor perceived to be democratic.

Enabling Canadians to exercise their right to an informed vote requires measures which at the very least inform them properly of the presence and positions of all those who are participating in an election.

We can only hope that on November 9 the representatives of all registered political parties and especially those with seats in the House of Commons will take a small but important step in favour of an informed vote by supporting the equal allocation of broadcasting time.

Respectfully submitted,

Liz White, Animal Protection Party
Partap Dua, Canada's Fourth Front
Rodney Taylor, Christian Heritage Party
Liz Rowley, Communist Party
Coreen Corcoran, Libertarian Party
Blair Longley, Marijuana Party
Anna Di Carlo, Marxist-Leninist Party
Stephen Garvey, National Citizens Alliance
Sébastien CoRhino, Parti Rhinocéros Party
Ken Ranney, Stop Climate Change Party
Randy Joy, Veterans Coalition Party

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Submission of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada to the Leaders' Debates Commission

The Leaders' Debates Commission (the "Commission") is mandated by Order-in-Council to organize two leaders' debates -- one in French and one in English -- for the next federal general election. It is currently engaged in a consultation process "with stakeholders to determine the participation criteria." The Commission wrote to invite "the leaders of all registered and eligible political parties to provide submissions to the Commission on what the participation criteria should be for a leader to be eligible to participate in the leaders' debates organized by the Commission during the next federal general election."

We are publishing below the submission of Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada National Leader Anna Di Carlo.

March 15, 2021

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (MLPC) welcomes the opportunity to submit its views on how eligibility criteria are determined for the televised federal leaders' debates.

The February 23 invitation letter from the Leaders' Debates Commission (the Commission) informs us that the Liberal Government has handed over the authority to set the criteria for debate inclusion to the Commission. To this end, the Liberals amended Order-in-Council PC 2018-1322. As the Commission stated in Democracy Matters, Debates Count: A report on the 2019 Leaders' Debates Commission and the future of debates in Canada, there was a consistent concern that "the Government of the day is ill-placed to set participation criteria for leaders' debates, given the perception of a conflict of interest caused by the Prime Minister's future participation in the debates." The amended Order-in-Council is said to correct this impropriety of the ruling party deciding who should be heard during an election.

The aim of the Commission, as announced in the 2018 federal budget, was to "ensure that federal leaders' debates are organized in the public interest and to improve Canadians' knowledge of the parties, their leaders and their policy positions." The Commission was to ensure that "twisting the rules for political advantage" and "partisan gamesmanship," would be eliminated.

Far from creating a Commission enabled to do this, Order-in-Council PC 2018-1322 set out criteria to ensure exclusionary debates. Three criteria were predetermined, with a party having to meet at least two of them: 1) a party must already be represented in the House of Commons, and 2) it must intend to field candidates in 90 per cent of the ridings; and 3) its candidates must have received at least 4 per cent of the valid votes in the most recent election. The third criterion also stated that if a party fails to meet two of the three criteria, the Debates Commissioner can determine that it might have "a legitimate chance to be elected in the general election in question," using polling and other methods, as was done for the People's Party of Canada in the 2019 election.

Through this selection process, fifteen out of the 21 registered parties were excluded in 2019.

Conundrum Facing the Debates' Commission

We are informed that the purpose of this consultation is to give rise to an independent and impartial determination of the criteria, free of government influence or interference. However, the Commission begins its invitation letter by quoting its foundational mandate which remains unamended. In particular, the first preamble to the need for the Commission states: "Whereas it is desirable that leaders' debates be effective, informative and compelling and benefit from the participation of the leaders who have the greatest likelihood of becoming Prime Minister or whose political parties have the greatest likelihood of winning seats in Parliament."

Maintaining this preamble makes a mockery of the claim that the Commission is now independent and impartial. This is because it preserves the overarching anti-democratic criterion that leads to exclusion and violates the right of citizens to cast an informed vote.

Section 4 of the original Order-in-Council is also retained. It states that "the Leaders' Debates Commission is to be guided by the pursuit of the public interest and by the principles of independence, impartiality, credibility, democratic citizenship, civic education, inclusion and cost-effectiveness."

The Commission itself seems to have viewed the preamble and Section 4 as posing a conundrum. In its Report, it states: "These two objectives, one narrowly aimed at the most likely Prime Minister and the other reflecting broader inclusiveness and a range of views, are somewhat at odds. A focus on the former would suggest a smaller slate of debate participants, perhaps as small as two or three in the Canadian context. A focus on the latter would broaden the stage to include as many as five or six leaders."

Posing the conundrum as one between selecting a scheme which permits "two or three" leaders versus "five or six" diverts attention from the fact that both are based on exclusionary and thus anti-democratic criteria. Neither the preamble nor the guiding principles recognize the right to an informed vote.

Even the inclusion of the term "democratic citizenship" as a principle is worrisome. The Commission does not explain what is meant by "democratic citizenship" nor does it discuss what it thinks are the democratic rights conferred by citizenship. By definition, a modern conception of citizenship recognizes all citizens as equal members of a body politic who enjoy equal rights, including the right to cast an informed vote. The addition of the adjective "democratic" implies that there is possibly another specific form of citizenship perhaps defined in another way. What the Commission does say is that debates "provide a focal point for campaigns that can enable democratic citizenship. This includes, but is not limited to, allowing citizens to influence the election agenda; to learn about the candidates, their parties and their platforms; to participate in political discussion; and to feel capable of participating in the electoral process."

The process by which citizens are supposed to be allowed to do all these things is not controlled by them. We are back to the conundrum once again which is who decides what is good for the citizens and on the basis of what criterion. In fact, the experience with the leaders' debates in Canada is that they are a mechanism to impose on the electorate matters that are pre-determined to be "the issues" by the "independent" media consortium and a handful of advisors.

Taking into account all the Commission-related documents, from its announcement in the 2018 budget, to the Order-in-Council, to the Report of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee giving its support to the Commission's formation, through to the Commission's post-debate report, we find only a single reference to "an informed vote." Referring to the 2019 debates, the Commission's Report asserts: "These debates counted. They were key moments that helped Canadians cast informed votes. In an era of concern about our institutions and the health of democracy itself, that is a harbinger of hope."

Readers could be forgiven if they were to think that the principle of "inclusion" is indeed in contradiction with the exclusionary preamble in the Commission's mandate. The guideline of inclusion refers to viewership only. In its Report, the Commission concludes, "On measures of inclusion, our findings are mixed. We find lower reported awareness of the debates (in the days leading up to the debates) among disabled, non-European, and rural Canadians, as well as among younger individuals."

This categorization of citizens into identities called "disabled, non-European, and rural Canadians" and the concoction of a concern about whether or not they were aware of the debates not only shows that the conception is limited to viewership, it also shows the extent to which the Commission seeks to divert from the issue at hand -- the de facto political exclusion and marginalization of the vast majority of Canadians. This will remain the case so long as all of the elements that inform the Commission entail the exclusion of the majority of parties from the debates thereby not informing Canadians about them let alone enabling them to participate in discussion about what they stand for.

The aim of the Commission should not be to justify political exclusion and marginalization of citizens in the name of "the principles of independence, impartiality, credibility, democratic citizenship, civic education, inclusion and cost-effectiveness." It should be to enable the citizenry to cast an informed vote by upholding the fundamental democratic principle of equality -- whether we speak of parties or candidates or citizens.

Completely avoided in all of the Commission's deliberations is the fact that the entire scheme continues the second-class treatment of independent candidates who, like the majority of political parties, are not given even token recognition.

Inclusion Criteria

So long as there is to be a national debate of party leaders, the only criteria that should be used for inclusion in the debates are the criteria set out in the Canada Elections Act for party registration. Specifically, a political party becomes registered upon fielding at least one candidate either in a by-election or a federal election after it has submitted the names of 250 members to Elections Canada. It must have an official agent and an executive body, and it must affirm that one of the party's fundamental purposes is "to participate in public affairs by endorsing one or more of its members as candidates and supporting their election."

Unless the criteria for registration in the Canada Elections Act is changed, a registered political party is a registered political party and the democratic principle of equality should apply. No other criteria or judgment about the worthiness of a political party can be justified if it is to be seen to be democratic.

If the ruling elites of Canada want to have a system in which only political parties and candidates that they determine have a "chance at winning" should be recognized, they should perhaps amend the Canada Elections Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms accordingly. For instance, party registration could be made to require proof that the party has a "likelihood of winning seats in Parliament."

Similarly, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms could be amended. Currently it reads: "Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein." It should more appropriately read: "Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and every citizen that the state determines has a likelihood of winning a seat in Parliament has the right to be qualified for membership therein."

Of course, this creates another conundrum. Is it the election which determines who will win? Or is it the cartel formed by the parties with seats in the House of Commons, their think-tanks, polling firms, media, and even the banks who lend the cartel parties money based on repayment risk-assessments by all of the prior institutions as to their "chance at winning." This would also require an impartial examination to determine whether the polling firms are neutral and whether the questions they ask are appropriate.

In the absence of such an inquiry whose purpose is to seek truth from facts, it appears that the same elites who take all the decisions about what is good for Canadians on the basis of the same exclusionary outlook which guides this Commission are also the ones who establish the polling firms, hire the polling firms, and decide and fashion the questions. Hence the Commission's conundrum.

The greatest diversion in which the Commission is engaged is to say that by taking the decision on who should be included in leaders' debates out of the hands of the Prime Minister and his office, the perception of conflict of interest has been eliminated. How now will the Commission divert attention from the perception of their own self-interest in perpetuating the most exclusionary, elitist criteria in the name of democratic citizenship and inclusion?

To answer their conundrum the Commission would have to acknowledge the need for the democratic renewal of the electoral process so that it is not based on privileges and it is not designed to bring political parties to power but, on the contrary, enables the empowerment of the people. Until that is done, the amendments the MLPC has proposed to bring the Canada Elections Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms into conformity with the reality of Canada's current electoral process would at least eliminate the blatant hypocrisy between the proclaimed Charter rights and their limitations which are said not only to be "reasonable" but "democratic."

It is par for the course by those who enjoy positions of power and privilege and are protected by a self-perpetuating system to derisively dismiss such proposals as outrageous and perhaps even extremist. The fact remains that so long as political parties play a dominant role in elections, all registered political parties must be provided the same opportunities afforded the parties of the establishment. Failing that, the electorate cannot cast an informed ballot.

Whether exclusionary debates are organized directly by a conglomerate of political parties through self-serving negotiations with the media, as was done prior to the creation of the Leaders' Debates Commission, directly by the Government, or by a proxy "independent" organization directed to implement a Government directive, a sow's ear will not become a silk purse.

A Retrogressive Turn in the Electoral and Political Process

It is the opinion of the MLPC that the creation of the Leaders' Debates Commission -- by government decree no less -- is part of a retrogressive trend. Strengthening the exercise of power and privilege over the conduct of elections does not legitimate the further marginalization and disempowerment of the citizenry. It comes at a time when the legitimacy and credibility of the institutions of governance are in deep trouble, butting against the demand of Canadians for an end to all forms of privilege in the electoral and political process.

The discriminatory treatment of candidates and political parties that do not subscribe to the dominant official ideology and the "values and principles" touted as fundamental to our national security and national interest is not new. What is new is the reckless abandon of even the pretense of upholding democratic forms. The more the people lay claim to their right to participate in taking the decisions which affect their lives, on every front of endeavour, the more those in positions of power and influence make open declarations which write off, delegitimize and even criminalize a broad swath of political opinion. Together with the media, great efforts are made to create a climate where doing such things is considered "normal." They are presented as being in the interest of democracy and mandatory to defend national security and the national interest.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself unleashed this retrogressive trend in Yellowknife on February 10, 2017. By way of justifying an unprecedented decision to overrule the recommendation of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform to introduce a system of proportional representation, and abandon his 2015 campaign promise to reform the electoral process to render it more representative than what is allowed by the first-past-the-post method of counting votes, Trudeau declared that Canada's stability would be endangered if any but the "three existing parties," or their like, were to be elected to the House of Commons.

"If we were to make a change or risk a change that would augment individual voices -- that would augment extremist voices and activist voices that don't get to sit within a party that figures out what's best for the whole future of the country, like the three existing parties do -- I think we would be entering a period of instability and uncertainty. And we'd be putting at risk the very thing that makes us luckier than anyone on the planet," Trudeau declared.

The Liberal Government subsequently eliminated the Ministry of Democratic Institutions itself. Admittedly, this Ministry had been created for self-serving reasons in the first place. It was doing a very poor job of giving even its Minister democratic credentials, let alone the Prime Minister and his "mandate letter" which was said to guide its work.

There were those who criticized the Prime Minister for back-tracking on his election campaign promise. The fact remains not a single party with seats in the House of Commons, nor any of the monopoly media personalities, objected to the declaration that henceforth autocratic rule would be used to marginalize all but their own parties.

Today, even the Parliament has become an increasingly "non-essential service" with the cartel parties reduced to introducing private members' bills and motions and using Parliament's committees to foment scandals and diversions. All the while, the government acts with impunity, unfettered by even token accountability to Parliament or the people. The exigencies of the neo-liberal privatization regimes are such that even the trappings of what are called the liberal democratic institutions are falling by the wayside. This includes the pretense that elections are "free and fair" and are the means by which Canadians can hold the cartel parties and candidates to account. Shenanigans such as those which claim that the leaders' debates provide an informed vote are not helpful.

Today, all crucial decisions affecting the polity are taken by the Prime Minister and his Ministers using prerogative powers to set policies -- i.e. police powers. The creation of the Commission is but one small example. Today these police powers not only set the aim of an election to bring in a party government which upholds "the values and principles" enshrined by the Crown. Private corporations and intelligence agencies have been given free rein to openly oversee the electoral process to restrict freedom of speech and conscience, and marginalize and criminalize all opinion they say threatens the liberal democratic institutions which are crisis-ridden. Ludicrous claims are made in a futile attempt to justify this trend. One such claim states that the greatest threat to our democracy is posed by extremist voices who do not join one of the three "big tent" parties. The fact is these parties act as a cartel to keep the people and even their own members out of power. They have destroyed their own constituency organizations and use members only for money and for the purpose of a process which seeks to legitimize their leader who vies to become the next Prime Minister.


The MLPC also objects to the use of public funds to further strengthen an anti-democratic regime. The Liberal Government's Supplementary Program Expenditures for the next federal election leaders' debates is $5,147,844. The Leaders' Debates Commission was allocated a budget of $6 million for 2019 and spent $4.1 million. This is quite an exorbitant amount given that the cost of a televised debate in 2011 was $250,000 -- a cost absorbed by the outlets of the media consortium.

The creation of a leaders' debate commission is another crude method of funding some political parties during an election. What is not used to promote some is used to justify the wall of silence around others. It makes a mockery of election expense rules and the notion of an even playing field and free and fair elections. In fact, to call it a form of corruption would not be considered far-fetched by many.

The MLPC advocates the right of the electorate to an informed vote and the right of all candidates to participate in elections conducted in an impartial manner without privileges accorded to any candidate or party by the state. Given that public funds are used for the promotion of some candidates and parties that a select few have deemed worthy of election, upholding these democratic principles is especially important. The MLPC is of the opinion that public funds should be used to fund the process, not the political parties as is the case today, let alone the discriminatory fashion in which it is done.

In conclusion, all of the elements that inform the Commission entail the exclusion of the majority of parties from the debates, thereby serving to marginalize them and permit them to be defamed on the basis of accusations that they are fringe, irrelevant, extremist and the like.

Justifying political exclusion and marginalization of citizens in the name of "the principles of independence, impartiality, credibility, democratic citizenship, civic education, inclusion and cost-effectiveness," versus justifying it in the name of only including those likely to become Prime Minister all results in the same thing. Once discussion on the right to an informed vote and the fundamental democratic principle of equality is taken off the table by the ruling elite, how to realize them becomes an ever greater matter of concern to the polity.

A crucial question remains: why should elections be informed by the aim of forming a party government in the first place? Why are all candidates not given equal standing and why are methods not devised to inform the polity of what all of them stand for?

The MLPC has seriously studied the documents related to the creation of the National Leaders' Debates Commission, its post-2019 deliberations, as well as the "new" mandate for the Commission, and is broadly distributing its findings and inviting opinions and discussion.

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Environmental Conservation Questions

The Need for a Dialectical Approach to Forestry

One hundred and forty years ago, Frederick Engels, close collaborator of Karl Marx, wrote in his book The Dialectics of Nature that "in nature nothing takes place in isolation. Everything affects every other thing and vice versa, and it is usually because this many-sided motion and interaction is forgotten that our natural scientists are prevented from clearly seeing the simplest things."[1]

He further wrote, "Let us not flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human conquest over nature. For each such conquest takes its revenge on us." And he cited examples of this revenge by pointing out how, in previous centuries, cutting down the forests in Mesopotamia, Greece, and other places in Europe, created the conditions for devastating floods and erosion.

In that regard, Engels criticized many of the thinkers and politicians of that time for viewing natural phenomena as isolated and separate from other phenomena -- as if things existed solely in themselves -- and not taking into account their multi-sided interrelations and interconnections. It was a kind of compartmentalization of nature and life itself which put things into silos and went against how the real world unfolds.

Since then, science has made great strides in showing how, as Engels and other dialectical thinkers have argued since ancient times, nature is interconnected and interrelated in so many ways and, indeed, how the earth itself is an interconnected whole, a great, complex biosphere that is the womb of life, and that is in a state of continual change, development and motion.

As human beings and creatures of the biosphere, far from being cordoned off from nature, we are an extension of this nature and, conversely, nature is an extension of us. We are both organic and inorganic. By that is meant that matter, such as the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and so on, can be said to be an integral part of our larger being as humans and without which we could not survive.

Indeed, we could not last for more than a few minutes without the oxygen-rich biosphere that surrounds us which has been built up by other life forms over millions of years. Even our digestion of food is dependent upon billions of microbes and bacteria that live symbiotically within our gut.

Forests are complex networks that exist in continuums of time and space, from plants that can be hundreds of years old to wildflowers that last only a brief season; from larger landscapes involving many kilometres of forest, to the tiny ecosystem of a pool in a creek.[2]

In this biosphere, rather than being mute, solitary, isolated entities, trees themselves have been found to interconnect and communicate with one another displaying, some believe, a type of proto-consciousness. For example, trees that are attacked by insects send chemical warnings to other trees to issue sticky sap to repel the attack.[3] And there are countless other examples of these interconnections between life forms and matter itself in this biosphere of which we are the most conscious part.

After so many years and so much evidence that has emerged about the dialectical interconnections of nature, one would think that forestry and environmental policy would follow in line with this holistic way of thinking. But, unfortunately, that is too often not the case.

For example, in 2018 -- just like the flooding long ago in Mesopotamia and Greece that Engels mentioned -- the community of Grand Forks in BC suffered a devastating flood which residents say was caused by clear cut logging and over-harvesting by companies on nearby mountain slopes, that resulted in torrents of water pouring down and flooding the town.[4]

This clear cutting was done despite many warnings about the interconnection of trees as crucial reservoirs for rainwater and stabilizers of the soil. Now residents have taken the government and forest companies to court for compensation. But the damage has been done. Unfortunately, the same problem has repeatedly happened elsewhere in the province.

In another telling example, decades ago, decisions were made to clearcut forests throughout the Interior of the province and replant them with vast monocultures of lodgepole pine, rather than replicating the natural diversity of deciduous and coniferous tree species. By focusing solely on growing lodgepole pine and not looking in an all-sided way at the imbalance and disruption such a planting would cause, government and forest companies created a vast monoculture host of vulnerable pine.

As a result, a serious pine beetle epidemic was unleashed which eventually destroyed millions of hectares of BC's interior forests, resulting in the closure of dozens of mills, the loss of thousands of jobs, devastation of communities and even more catastrophic flooding and erosion. Of course, other factors like climate change and forest fire suppression also played a big role in the pine beetle epidemic, but the singular focus on planting vulnerable monocultures of pine to achieve maximum corporate profit was an important factor.

And then there is the issue of glyphosate spraying in the interior of BC. Monsanto, the giant herbicide and chemical company that manufactures glyphosate is a big promoter of this narrow view of looking at natural phenomena to the extent that the company pays corrupt scientists to write reports that claim the effects of glyphosate are compartmentalized and only impact broad leaf plants and not the larger environment or the health of human beings.[5] This is despite numerous other studies showing that glyphosate and its effects migrate through the food chain and environment impacting these in a negative way.

As dialectics reveal, the quantitative build-up of glyphosate in human bodies can eventually result in qualitative change, i.e. people contracting cancer as is shown with the court cases in the U.S. and Canada launched by thousands of cancer victims.[6]

Old growth forests are viewed in a one-sided way by the big companies and government officials in their service as simply trees to be cut down, rather than in an all-sided way as eco-systems with all sorts of environmental, economic, scientific and cultural values to be preserved. Experience has shown that once a forest is clearcut, the original eco-system is permanently altered and cannot be brought back.[7]

The wood product itself is seen in a most limited way, for example, as raw logs to be exported or minimally processed, rather than as a wonderfully complex organic substance which can be processed into a wide range of useful products from pharmaceuticals to fabrics to engineered wood.

So, what is the block to conducting forestry in an all-sided way? Not a few would argue that it is the interests of globalized monopoly capitalist forest companies aggressively pushing their narrow, profit-seeking, compartmentalized views and policies on government and the society at large, and who have monopoly control over the forest resource.

One of the most insidious claims is that forestry workers and their jobs are somehow separated from or at odds with the environment itself and that you can only prioritize one at the expense of the other. The fact is that the workplace environment is part of the larger environment. For example, back in Engels' time of the 1800s, the first victims of the horrific environmental pollution generated by the workplaces of the industrial revolution in England were workers and their families.[8] In 2018, many of the houses that were flooded in Grand Forks, BC likely belonged to mill and forestry workers.

In regards to glyphosate, helicopter pilots and forestry workers who are engaged in spraying of the herbicide are exposed to its toxic effects. Furthermore, because the big companies over-harvest, clearcut, and refuse to produce more value from the wood, timber supply in regions is affected and many workers lose their jobs because of shortages of fiber.

In this monopoly capitalist model, workers are alienated from their forestry jobs and have little or no say over production, and communities are alienated from the forests around them, also having little or no say over what happens. Small and medium-sized companies, forestry contractors, independent scientists and others are left out of the picture as well and the big forest companies dominate. The end result is the current disastrous state of our once great forest resource in the province.

It is in the interest of workers and communities to be environmental-minded and it is in the interest of environmentalists to reach out and include workers and communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous in their proposals for the forests. Together progress can be made.

And there are solutions on both smaller and bigger scales. For example, instead of glyphosate spraying, why not have manual brushing and cutting of broad leaf trees? Or better yet, why not maintain existing broad leaf trees such as aspen and birch as productive and beneficial species, as Stop the Spray BC has suggested. This will certainly create more jobs and be easier on the environment.[9]

Instead of clearcutting why not selective harvesting, as well as more value-added production? Again, these would create more jobs and reduce the impact on the environment.

Why not preserve what little old growth forest remains in the province and have forest production focus on second growth forests, as Conservation North is proposing?[10] Rather than looking at forests as stands of trees simply to be knocked down, why not see human activity as being embedded within forest ecosystems and strive for this activity to be consistent with the natural laws of those ecosystems?

And why not have communities, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous, have control over adjacent forests rather than big companies and distant government bureaucrats?

On the larger scale, why not base the model for forest management and the forest economy itself on a dialectical, all-sided approach that puts the environment and the interests of workers, communities and the people of the province first and in charge?


1. Frederick Engels, Dialectics of Nature (1882).

2. Silva Forest Foundation, "An ecosystem-based approach to forest use: definition and scientific rationale" (September 1997).

3. Peter Wohlleben, The hidden life of trees (Greystone Books, 2015).

4.Tom Popyk, "Negligent logging caused 2018 floods, Grand Forks residents allege in class action lawsuit," CBC News (September 15, 2020). 

5. Carey Gillam, Whitewash: the story of a weed killer, cancer, and the corruption of science (Island Press, 2017).

6. Jonathan Gatehouse, "A roundhouse against Roundup," The National (May 19, 2019).

7. Frederick Engels, The condition of the working class in England in 1844.

8. Herb Hammond,  Ecosystem-based conservation planning (video). 

9. Stop the Spray BC

10. Conservation North

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CPC(M-L)'s Position on Environmental Questions

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) often receives requests to know its thinking on how problems of the natural environment can be sorted out. Questions on the environment have to be answered with what is called objectivity of consideration. The way humans live and acquire their living have an effect on the environment. The question is how the people can humanize their relation with the environment and nature generally. What is blocking them from doing so?

Global cartels and monopolies privately own and control the contemporary economy and dominate official politics. This private ownership of the economy 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.[1]

The aim of private ownership is to make maximum profit from the parts of the economy the owners control 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 the actual producers who have no say. The narrow aim of the oligarchs for their private gain clashes with the need of the modern economy and its various sectors and enterprises to function in harmony for the common good.

The competition among the cartels and monopolies at home and abroad often end in war involving state-controlled and private armies and the ensuing despoiling of nature. The global struggle of the private cartels and monopolies for dominance and their control of the states in which they have influence have led to public and private expenditures on militaries far exceeding all other spending. The ensuing military clashes over control of markets, raw material, cheap labour and to bring entire regions under control have led in recent years to the human, productive and environmental destruction of entire countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and continuing devastation throughout Asia, Africa, South and Central America and the Caribbean and constant escalation of expenditures on militaries.

The objective conditions pose the issue of how to deal with environmental problems and the despoiling of nature. The people lack control over their economies, official politics, states and militaries. The aim and outlook of the ruling global oligarchy are fixated on defending and enlarging their private wealth and power. The oligarchs control the work of the people to acquire a living and the various states, economies and militaries where they are dominant.

Without taking into consideration the domination of the global oligarchy over the people, economies, politics, militaries and nature, and the oligarchs' aim for private profit, most efforts to deal with environmental problems become manipulated and fractured by those same powerful forces that are causing the problems and turned into programs to pay the rich.

The relations of production of private ownership and control of competing parts of the economy are out of whack with the objective conditions of the socialized economy, which should operate with all its parts recognizing the importance and necessity of one another for the mutual benefit of all and the development of the whole. The contradiction between how the economy is owned and controlled with its socialized essence must be recognized when dealing with environmental and all other problems facing the people and nature.

Of course, the issues and problems can be raised on their own such as making Canada a zone for peace, dealing with industrial and other pollution, climate change, fracking for oil and gas, overfishing such as what happened with Atlantic cod and other marine problems, forest management etc. Suggestions, campaigns and remedies can be fought out to a temporary resolution such as the moratorium on cod fishing. However, to turn any success into lasting victory, the problem of the relations of production and the oligarchs' domination of all aspects of life must be raised and confronted in a serious way and efforts put into overcoming this domination and building the New.


1. The economic value of social product is measured by the average or standard work-time the working class requires to produce and deliver a good or service. The economic value includes both the old value from means of production consumed and transferred into the social product during production at any particular stage plus the new value from the standard work-time workers require during a current stage to produce and deliver new means of production or services and articles of consumption.

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Questions and Answers

The Party's Platform

Question: Is there anything you would like to highlight about your party's platform on any environmental issue?

Answer: The Party advocates the humanization of the social and natural environment. Once the human factor/social consciousness is in control of all matters related to the natural environment, CPC(M-L) is confident they can be solved.

The politics of environmental conservation deal with how humans and the production of their means of subsistence relate to nature. All production in one way or another relates to nature and affects nature. Through the work of all working people, modern industrial mass production transforms existing qualities of nature into social product that meets a human need.

The relationship of humans with nature is governed by the level of the productive forces, the struggle for production, and the way humans are organized in relation to one another. These factors dictate the aim and direction of the economy to produce, manage, distribute, use and consume nature's bounty and social product.

In modern conditions, the relationships in the economy revolve around or are governed by three decisive questions dealing with social production and distribution, and one broad answer: Whose economy? Who decides? Who controls? The answer to all three in the modern world must be the "people" and the necessity for the people to organize a human-centred aim and direction for the economy. The oligarchs who own and control the economy are blocking the people, the actual producers, from assuming their rightful place as those who control and decide the direction of the economy.

Civil Society

The current relations of production are governed by civil society and its economic, political and social institutions and forms and laws and regulations. Civil society developed and came into being through revolution to protect and expand private property in opposition to the arbitrary might, political power and hereditary right of feudal aristocratic society.

Civil society has run its course and is now dominated by global cartels that control the economy as their private property and fiefdoms and enforce their aim to derive maximum profit from their private property and the work of the people they employ.

During the period of civil society, the working people generally have developed into an educated human factor and social force of overwhelming numbers. To solve society's current economic, political, social and environmental problems, working people demand a new human-centred direction, aim and forms for the economy to serve the people and society, which go beyond the limits of civil society and its control and regulation of private property in the service of the global cartels and monopolies.

Civil society developed to protect private property from the arbitrary might, political power and hereditary right of the landed aristocrats. Through concentration of wealth and private property in the hands of a few over the last two centuries, natural right has merged with hereditary right to become monopoly right of an oligarchy that dominates all aspects of life.

Civil society is now controlled by a global oligarchy of imperialist autocrats who compete and wage war with one another and the people to defend and enlarge their private wealth, which originates from the expropriation of the value working people produce.

Civil society has come full circle replacing landed aristocrats as rulers with imperialist autocrats as rulers. Civil society is incapable of affirming the rights people have by virtue of being human. The people have to bring into being human-centred political forms of governance that affirm and guarantee their rights and allow them to control the economy and give it a modern aim and direction to serve the people and society and humanize the social and natural environment.

Human-Centred Society

Human rights include the right of the people to decide and control the economy, the right to decide and control the relations among humans and with nature. Civil society has degenerated into police and military power of autocrats to deprive the people of their right to decide and control the aim and direction of their economy, politics and society.

Civil society's power to deprive people of the rights they possess by virtue of being human must be met with the human-centred power of the people to deprive civil society of doing so. This requires organizing and engaging in actions with analysis to deal with the problems the society and the environment face and to bring into being new human-centred economic, political and social forms that allow the people to decide and control all matters that affect their lives and nature. This requirement centres on the issue of empowerment of the people and specifically political empowerment and bringing to the fore what CPC(M-L) calls the human factor/social consciousness.

To solve the problems that the modern economy of industrial mass production has created, including the "politics of environmental conservation," go hand in hand with the people's need for political empowerment. By creating a  human-centred society the  people can decide and control the modern productive forces, the relations among themselves and their relations with nature.

Clear Cut Logging and Herbidice Usage

Question: Do you think clearcut logging and herbicide usage should be banned (or even just on crown land) to protect our forest ecosystems as well as to save our local forests for future generations?

Answer: These are issues for the people involved in forestry and who live in those regions, in particular the working class, to decide. Tremendous scientific advance has been made on how to log sustainably. These issues come up against global cartels and monopolies centred in the U.S. that dominate our forests and exploit them for their private gain. The workers in the forest towns throughout the country have no power to decide and control how the forest is managed and exploited or how its production relates to other sectors and the building of stable and prosperous communities.

In the actual conditions, change is occurring because the people in the communities affected by clear-cutting and a self-serving use of herbicides are demanding safe practices. As the people who do the work and live in those communities, including importantly the Indigenous peoples, take control of the decisions which affect the forests, both the life of the forests and the lives of the people will improve. 

Regarding relations with nature and among humans, the issue of the aim of the economy and outlook of those in control is crucial. The current aim of the imperialist economy for maximum profit in the fastest possible time is incompatible with developing a harmonious relation with nature or among humans generally and solving the problems of the twenty-first century, something CPC(M-L) calls the humanization of the social and natural environment. New relations require a new aim and direction for the economy that serve the people and use the value workers produce to enhance their lives and communities and deal with the problems that modern industrial mass production and imperialism have generated. New relations require the empowerment of the people so they gain control over the economy, politics and all those affairs that affect their lives.

Marine Ecosystems

Question: What measures/legislation would you support to help protect marine ecosystems (e.g., increasing the amount of marine protected areas or reducing trawling)?

Answer: The question includes the suggestion that proposals to increase marine protected areas or reduce trawling are desirable measures to protect ecosystems. As a rule, CPC(M-L) does not pronounce itself for or against such proposals because often they are used to not consult and listen to those whose livelihoods and well-being depend on the specific ecosystems referred to. Too often governments pass legislation in the name of protecting ecosystems when in fact they are siding with narrow private interests in the name of high ideals.

A serious problem in Canada is the refusal of governments at all levels to create social and political forms for people to discuss the issues and problems as they pose themselves, decide what needs to be done, control the implementation and outcome of the measures they deem necessary, and hold those responsible to account for their actions or inactions. The people are discussing these matters which concern those whose livelihoods directly depend on marine ecosystems and all aspects of fishing and other production from the sea, lakes and rivers. We have always found that they know what to do but are not in control of the decisions taken or the means to get it done, which governments hand over to narrow private interests. How to deal with that problem is what concerns them the most.

In the world of electoral manipulations practised in Canada today, good suggestions and policies are mostly destined to die in Parliament and the Legislatures. The cartel parties in power and opposition act as gatekeepers to keep the people out along with their views, demands, concerns and proposals. Most of the time, suggestions from concerned Canadians end up being ignored or become policy objectives floated by the cartel parties during elections. Those electoral policy objectives are usually ignored or watered down in practice to become unrecognizable or later simply reversed.

Whether the people's suggestions and proposals are implemented or not becomes the prerogative of the government, beyond the reach of the people, with those responsible unaccountable except in the sense of being replaced by another cartel Party over which the people likewise exercise no control.

The marine ecosystems are under the control of the global oligarchs and their cartels and monopolies. At this point in time, the ruling elite decide and control what goes on with those ecosystems. For example, the way of life of Newfoundlanders who for decades fished and lived in villages along the coast was wiped out by powerful economic and political forces that they did not control. The concentration of social wealth and productive power of the global monopoly-controlled fishing fleets from all over the world wiped out the inshore fishers. The resulting unrestrained overfishing eventually destroyed the cod supply.

The forces that presently dominate the marine ecosystems have the singular aim to exploit it for private maximum profit. When the people propose solutions they must keep in mind that their proposals are filtered through this aim and manipulated to suit those in control. Within the situation, the people must go all out to preserve the natural environment and not permit attempts to split them on a false basis of pitting jobs against the well-being of the environment.

The people who do the work and live in the coastal communities are very capable of deciding what is in their best interests and others and nature itself. It is in their interest to take decisions which enhance their relation with the natural resources so that they and their communities endure, develop and prosper. Many Indigenous peoples have a culture or tradition of assessing what they do based not only on how the action affects and serves life now but on how it may affect and serve seven generations down the road. CPC(M-L) considers this to be a good guide to thinking and action.

Carbon Taxes and Other Levies and Individual Taxes

Question: Carbon taxes correct market inefficiencies caused by external forces (like pollution and climate change). Do you currently support the cap-and-trade system in Nova Scotia or do you think it should be replaced by something else?

Answer: The first sentence of the question is an assertion of something that has little or nothing to do with environmental conservation. What are the market inefficiencies that carbon taxes supposedly correct? These levies and individual taxes such as property, consumer and income taxes are methods of the dominant cartels and monopolies to pass the burden of a problem onto the working people and use the power of the state to seize back social wealth that belongs to the people by right. The oligarchs with their control of the state, governments and their treasuries use the tax revenue to pay the rich in various ways and fund the police and military powers and governing bureaucracy. The carbon tax manipulates the very real problem of industrial and other pollution as a cover to fleece the working people and even small and medium-sized enterprises.

Carbon taxes and cap-and-trade are examples of the neo-liberal conquest of official economic thinking and politics: society is nothing; the market is everything. The neo-liberals preach that the people cannot and should not take control of their lives including the economy and its aim and how it functions. Let the rich decide through their dominance of the marketplace and ownership and control of the means of production and distribution and commerce, they chatter endlessly

Industrial pollution and human-caused climate change are not problems of modern production that arise from the productive forces themselves as unsolvable beasts that cannot be tamed. They linger as intractable problems because they exist in the context of relations of production that are not in conformity with the modern socialized productive forces. The problems arising from modern industrial production persist because the aim of those forces that control modern production is maximum private gain for their particular cartel and monopoly at all costs. Their concern does not extend to the broader social and natural environment unless in some way they can expropriate maximum private profit for their particular interests, for example in green projects that receive government payments, guarantees and other support such as cheap infrastructure and favourable regulations.

The forces now in control of the economy and state developed in the former feudal society and are products of its way of life, traditions and thinking based on private and autocratic control of property and the productive forces. They opposed the ruling aristocratic forces in so far as they wanted freedom of their private property to exist without feudal restrictions on production, trade and commerce, and to have working people freed from feudal servitude and allowed to sell their capacity to work to the nouveau riche called the bourgeoisie, who owned the developing means of mass industrial production and distribution.

The narrow outlook of the emerging dominant class could not and has not developed to embrace the complexity and interaction of the massive industrial productive forces and continuing scientific advances that the revolution against feudal petty production and the aristocracy unleashed. The imperialists are fixated on their individual wealth and power and reject the necessity for cooperation for mutual benefit of all countries, economies, enterprises and peoples for the common good of all humanity, society and Mother Earth.

To solve the problems of the modern productive forces, the working people have to gain control over the economy to mould it to work collectively for the mutual benefit of all, to change its aim from expropriating private profit to one of serving the common good and society and to humanize the social and natural environment. The modern working class is the greatest product of the socialized productive forces and is rooted in the new forces as a social being and the only class capable of bringing the relations of production into conformity with the already socialized productive forces.


In Canada, cap-and-trade is an imperialist fraud. The trading of derivatives, including carbon credits, is a feature of the parasitical trend and decay of the imperialist economy. This decay is accompanied with greater concentration of the economy and social wealth in fewer hands as the rich become richer and the poor poorer. All of this accentuates and makes more severe the recurring economic crises and propels the imperialists into more aggressive and reckless actions such as the war economy and continuous wars to conquer markets and workers to exploit, bringing entire regions under their control, and destroying those that refuse.

The trading of carbon credits and other derivatives involves the redivision of already-produced value as well as the creation of fictitious value. Traders hope to fleece others of the already-produced value they possess and to this end engage in buying and trading everything and anything including concocted fictitious value such as carbon credits. They manipulate prices to go up, or even down in some cases in a practice known as short selling. The totality circulates around the trading of already-produced value that may or may not have been consumed and concocted fictitious value such as derivatives and carbon credits and Ponzi schemes.

The oligarchs view the actual production and selling of goods and services generally as risky and unable to fulfil their aim of maximum profit unless undertaken with public pay-the-rich funds and government guarantees of sales such as with the government war economy and infrastructure contracts and public-private-partnerships.

Recently, especially during the pandemic, the oligarchs who control global investment cartels have enticed retail or small individual traders to bring their money into the stock and commodities markets, creating yet another source of profits for the oligarchs and greater concentration of social wealth in the hands of billionaires.

The ruling elite use the broad concern over pollution and climate change to suck social wealth out of the economy for themselves and their pet projects, many of them heralded as "green," which they may well be when compared with older scientific methods of production. However, the aim of the cartels and monopolies involved is not to humanize the natural and social environment but to get governments to channel money to them in pay-the-rich schemes complete with guarantees such as the Site C dam boondoggle in BC.

Carbon taxes and cap-and-trade are framed as methods to deal with environmental problems but in fact act as diversions from confronting the problems as they exist and finding solutions for the common good. Real problems require real solutions not diversions into taxes and parasitical market scams that end up paying the rich. Concocted schemes such as carbon taxes, cap-and-trade and the trading of carbon credits are designed to funnel money and control to the oligarchs and divert from tackling the problem directly in a human-centred way.

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Fight Against Global Pandemic

Cuba Leads in Global Fight Against
COVID-19 Pandemic

April 25, 2020. Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade contingent prepares to leave for South Africa to participate in fight against COVID-19

Isaac Saney is a Cuba specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax and Co-Chair and Spokesperson of the Canadian Network on Cuba.

Cuba continues to receive international accolades for its singular role in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. This is illustrated by the numerous nominations of Cuba's internationalist medical contingent -- the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade against Disasters and Serious Epidemics -- for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

Many countries are drawing on Cuba's expertise in fighting COVID-19. Almost 4,000 medical personnel in at least 39 countries and territories have participated and are participating in the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The Caribbean and Latin America have particularly benefited, with Cuban medical brigades in Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Grenada, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mexico, Belize, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Henry Reeve health care personnel are organized in brigades depending on the local request. To date, 55 such brigades have served abroad during the pandemic, and several countries have requested the assistance of a second brigade when their case load spiked.

Cuba also offers treatment regimens, some of which are not available in the United States. A key component of the protocols being used on the island and in the medical missions is Cuba's Interferon Alfa 2B Recombinant (IFNrec). Scientific journals like The Lancet and the World Journal of Pediatrics have recognized the impact of IFNrec. It has been used against various viral infections for which there are no specific therapies available, having demonstrated its ability to activate the patient's immune system and to inhibit viral replication. In Cuba, IFNrec has been used successfully to combat outbreaks of dengue hemorrhagic fever and conjunctivitis, as well as to treat hepatitis B and C. It also demonstrated effectiveness in combatting and providing protection against infections caused by various versions of the coronavirus, such as SARS-CoV (the coronavirus of the 2002 outbreak) and SARS and MERS-CoV (the coronavirus of the 2012 outbreak).

IFNrec is a crucial part of Cuban treatment protocols and is also used as a preventative measure to protect health care workers from contagion. Various countries have incorporated IFNrec into their national protocols and clinical guidelines for COVID-19 treatment, where it is a crucial component of the anti-viral treatment to combat the coronavirus. Nebulized Interferon Alfa 2B is also recommended as a treatment for children and pregnant women with COVID-19. While IFNrec is not a panacea, it has shown considerable promise as a therapeutic response to COVID-19 in boosting the immune system's response. Additionally, the Cuban-developed Itolizumab and Biomodulin T have been credited with reducing the death toll from COVID-19 and speeding recovery, especially in high-risk patients.

Cuba is also testing four COVID-19 vaccine candidates: Soberana 1 and Soberana 2, developed by the Finlay Vaccine Institute, and Mambisa and Abdala, produced by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. To date results have been very encouraging. At the time of writing, three of the candidates are either in phase 1 or phase 2 of clinical trials. Soberana 2 is already in phase 3 testing, with Abdala poised to start later in March. These testing stages evaluate efficacy and safety. All candidates must pass phase 3 testing in which the efficacy and safety is further confirmed by expanded trials encompassing thousands of persons. If they successfully pass this stage, Soberana 2 and Abdala will be very close to final approval for use in Cuba and the world. Havana is already making preparations for mass production.

The Caribbean island has considerable expertise in vaccine design, development and manufacture. Currently, Cuba's biopharmaceutical industry already produces eight vaccines that are integral to the island's immunization program. In the 1980s, it developed the first vaccine against meningitis and, also produces a hepatitis B vaccine.

The Cuban government plans to have all Cubans vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of 2021. Vaccinations will also be available to visitors. Havana also intends to produce 100 million vaccine doses for use across the global South, with various countries having already reserved doses. Export of Cuban pharmaceutical products is managed through the state company BioCubaFarma, which currently distributes more than 300 products to at least 50 countries. Rolando Pérez Rodríguez, BioCubaFarma's Director of Science and Innovation, outlined Havana's objective: "In the second half of the year, we will be able to immunize the entire population, and also provide doses to the countries that require it. It is about sharing with the world what we are, the answer that Cuba can give to the problem of the pandemic."

Driving Cuba's vaccine production is not only the determination to protect and preserve the health of the people of Cuba and the world but also the exercise and defence of sovereignty and the right of self-determination. For example, Soberana means sovereignty in Spanish, while Abdala is named for the famous poem by José Martí, Cuba's national hero and principal intellectual, author and organizer of the 1895-1898 war to free Cuba from Spanish colonial domination. Mambisa is a direct reference to Cuba's national liberation fighters during the19th century wars for independence.

In this time of pandemic, Cuba's international medical humanitarianism reflects the island's history and dedication over the last six decades to concrete international solidarity. Under the leadership of Fidel Castro, Cuba established an unparalleled legacy of internationalism: actively supporting and engaging in the anti-colonial and national liberation struggles and social development and emancipation aspirations of countries across the global South. From the early 1960s, more than 400,000 Cuban health care workers have served in 164 countries. In southern Africa, more than 2,000 Cubans gave their lives to defeat the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. Nelson Mandela never forgot. After he was released from prison, one of the first countries outside of Africa and the first country in Latin America that he chose to visit was Cuba.

Today this commitment to humanity is mirrored in the thousands of Cuban medical personnel and educators who continue to serve around the world. Many of the medical personnel now intimately involved in the fight against COVID-19 are part of the specially trained Henry Reeve International Brigade, which distinguished itself in the fight against the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

As Havana provides invaluable international assistance, it is also engaged in its own fight against COVID-19 on the island. It is doing this in the face of an unrelenting economic war waged by Washington against the people of Cuba, a war that limits the island's access to equipment and other necessary items required to preserve the health of Cubans. Under the Trump regime, the U.S. economic war against Cuba reached unprecedented levels with more than 240 distinct measures being targeted against the island nation.

Standing out as the epitome of duplicity was the designation of Cuba by the United States as a sponsor of state terrorism. It is Cuba, since 1959, that has been the victim of all manner of terrorist attacks that have been carried out with the complicity, participation and sponsorship of Washington. Many of these acts of terror were directly launched from and/or planned in the United States. Some 3,478 Cubans have been killed and 2,099 injured as a result of these acts of terrorism.

This last move by the Trump regime reflected Washington's failure to isolate Cuba in international relations and public opinion. This failure is poignantly underscored by the growing global movement -- encompassing parliamentarians, prominent world figures, distinguished academics and multiple petitions -- to award Cuba's Henry Reeve International Brigade the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. These nominations argue instead that it is Cuba that shows the world a model of international relations that stands diametrically opposed to terrorism.

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

Despite ongoing U.S. aggression, Cuba continues to prioritize the health and lives of its citizens. For example, despite having a population similar in size to Los Angeles county in the U.S., Cuba has more than 70 times fewer deaths from COVID-19. In the case of New York City, Cuba's death rate is more than 100 times smaller. The Cuban government affirms and upholds that health care is a human right and places the well-being of its people at the centre of its policies and political decisions. Every Cuban is visited regularly by a doctor and has free access to all the treatment protocols available on the island.

There is a growing recognition that Cuba's example needs to be globalized. A pandemic is by definition global. Surely, in the face of this worldwide menace, now is the time for international medical cooperation and solidarity. A time for joint efforts to confront COVID-19. A time to put political differences aside in order to save lives. As Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez declared on March 27, 2020: "Humanity faces a common challenge. This pandemic does not respect borders or ideologies. It threatens the lives of all, and it is everyone's responsibility to address it."

This is especially imperative as social fissures and chasms, the historic and prevalent inequalities, inequities and disparities, particularly in the health care system, have not only been starkly exposed but also amplified. Recognizing this imperative, 15 U.S. cities, states and labour councils, at present, have passed resolutions calling for medical collaboration and cooperation with Cuba.

Cuban internationalist medical missions are the lived expression of symbolic dreamcatchers. Just as dreamcatchers allow only good dreams to pass through, while preventing nightmares, so too the Cuban medical internationalist missions do their utmost to stop the nightmares of disease from reaching the people. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, in a world fraught with the dangers of planetary-wide conflagration, the Cuban medical brigades demonstrate that relations among the world's nations and peoples do not have to be determined by self-interest and the pursuit of power and wealth. They hold out to us the inspirational example that it is possible to build relations based on genuine human solidarity.

Cuba is also in the midst of a significant domestic project of rectification and economic renewal. The immediate context is monetary unification and the recent significant expansion of the non-state sector, i.e. self-employment and private economic activity. The broader context is the more than decade-long series of economic measures to address inefficiencies and distortions in the Cuban economic model. As the new arrangements are being phased in, the Cuban government has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment that no one will be abandoned or left to fend for themselves. All the social guarantees remain in force, including universal free health care and education and an array of other social programs.

The aim of the restructuring is to strengthen social programs, not privatize nor dismantle them. As former Cuban President Raúl Castro stated, the goal is to achieve a sustainable and prosperous socialism. However, it is no small feat for any country to overcome the worldwide economic crisis in a manner that favours its people, not the global monopolies. A number of questions naturally arise: How will the historic commitment of the Cuban Revolution to the goal of equality -- especially gender and racial equity -- be affected by the new economic policies? Do these measures entail fundamental departures from the previous praxis of the Cuban Revolution?

Across Cuba a frequent slogan emblazoned on billboards is, "Each day in the World 200 Million Children Sleep in the Streets. Not one is Cuban." Perhaps, in these uncertain times, in the face of immense challenges, this best sums up what Cuba represents and strives to be.

(Stabroek News, March 8, 2021)

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Video: Innovation in Cuba's Biotech Sector

Screenshot from video shows Cuban medical team disembarking in Italy to
assist in fight against COVID-19.

Candace Johnson, CEO of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, talks to Christiane Amanpour from CNN about the innovation in Cuba's biotech field.

To watch CNN Interview of March 2, 2021, click here.

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The IMF's Grip on Latin America

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) took advantage of the serious economic, monetary and social crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to in most nations of Latin America and the Caribbean to strengthen its financial control over the countries in the region that requested loans.

The figure is overwhelming: between March and November 2020, the Fund delivered $63.74 billion to that region of the world where the IMF's emergency financing was most concentrated.

According to reports from the IMF itself, six out of every 10 dollars of the $102.15 billion it delivered in the year, went to Latin American countries, most of which are not eligible for debt suspension or relief mechanisms as they are considered middle-income countries.

In the region, 21 countries obtained a loan during the month of May of last year, with three of these accounting for 80 per cent of the money. Chile was approved for $23.93 billion; Colombia for $16.948 billion and Peru $11 billion, all through flexible credits.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Latin America witnessed the harsh conditions that the IMF imposed on every government in the region that accessed its loans. Today, in the context of the pandemic, the immediate effects are not seen but the story will change as the loan terms advance.

Recently, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador accused international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank of being jointly responsible for the crises that occurred in his country in past six-year terms and added that the greatest fault lay with "servile governments."

He said they forced neo-liberal Mexican governments to sign so-called letters of intent which established what the State had to do, "a flagrant violation of the autonomy, the sovereignty of our nation."

The IMF and the World Bank, López Obrador pointed out, recommended that Mexican governments privatize public companies, not increase jobs, increase the price of electricity and fuels such as gasoline -- guidelines that were followed by subordinate governments.

In addition to Chile, Colombia and Peru, the Fund provided loans through the rapid financing method to Ecuador for $6 billion; Dominican Republic, $650 million; Guatemala, $594 million; Jamaica, $520 million; Panama, $515 million; Costa Rica, $508 million; El Salvador, $389 million; Bolivia, $327 million; Paraguay, $274 million, and Bahamas, $250 million. Those that received less than $100 million were Barbados, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica.

In this way and throughout the year, the IMF took advantage of the opportunity that the spread of the pandemic opened up to it, to re-initiate the indebtedness of the region, after a period in which it had been rejected for imposing economic policies to the detriment of the great majority of the world.

The Latin American Geopolitical Center (CELAG) assures that the global emergency implies an urgent and unforeseen need for external liquidity on the part of Latin American countries, not only to face the expenses related to the pandemic but also to deal with the capital flight that has been taking place in the region.

But unfortunately, in several of these nations, governments will use the loans to help large companies and businesses deal with the crisis and not to address the serious problems of the population.

Both the IMF and the World Bank are financial organizations created in 1944, during the meeting held in Bretton Woods shortly before the end of World War II. They have been dominated from the beginning by the United States and Western European powers, and they act against the interests of the people.

Their adjustment programs seek to bolster the confidence of international capital markets in the debtor country. Without the approval of the IMF, which, acting as a censor, determines the willingness and capacity of a country to pay the debt servicing costs, the doors generally do not open for the delivery of loans.

To exercise control they oblige the nations that receive this "benefit" to submit to conditions ranging from non-mandatory recommendations to extreme inspections with the imposition of forced sanctions.

As nations are increasingly indebted, they are forced to follow the financial, economic and social directives established by these institutions so that they pay the debts they have acquired and to be able to have access to new credits in amounts that become unpayable.

As a result, governments are forced to promote the privatization of public companies and services, lower wages and pensions, as well as increase prices for the supply of water, electricity and fuel.

These borrowing policies have meant that if in 2008 the internal and external public debt of Latin America reached 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, eleven years later, in 2019, it had increased to 62 per cent of GDP.

In conclusion, the new indebtedness will further affect the sovereignty and economic and political independence of several of these nations if their governments allow it.

Hedelberto López Blanch is a Cuban journalist, writer and researcher.

(Rebelión, January 21, 2021. Translated from the original Spanish by TML.)

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Briefing on the China-WHO Joint Study of the Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic

February 9, 2021. WHO-China joint study press conference in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei Province

On March 12, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing to European envoys on the joint scientific research on the origins of the novel coronavirus conducted by China and the World Health Organization (WHO). The briefing was chaired by Director-General of the Department of International Organizations and Conferences of the Foreign Ministry Yang Tao. Team leader from the Chinese side of the China-WHO joint expert team. Professor Liang Wannian provided relevant information about the study and answered questions. Over 40 European envoys and diplomats from 29 European countries and the European Union attended the briefing.

Liang Wannian provided detailed information about the background, process, findings and suggestions about future research of the China-WHO joint expert team. He said that after relevant resolutions were approved at the 73rd World Health Assembly, China overcame the pressure of epidemic prevention and control within its borders and took the lead to carry out a joint study on the origins of the novel coronavirus with the WHO. In July 2020, China invited WHO experts to come to China and both sides agreed on the WHO-convened Global Study of the Origins of SARS-CoV-2: Terms of References for the China Part. According to the agreed terms of references (ToR), China set up a joint expert team with international experts from the WHO, and conducted a 28-day joint study from January 14 to February 10 this year in Wuhan.

During the visit in Wuhan, experts from both sides visited nine places, including Jinyintan Hospital, Huanan Seafood Market, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The team also visited and talked with local medical workers, lab researchers, scientists, market managers, business owners, community workers, recovered patients, and families of medical workers who lost their lives in the epidemic. A number of meetings, consultations and discussions were held to accumulate scientific consensus on the origins of the novel coronavirus and sound working relations were built between experts of both sides through in-depth and candid exchanges.

Liang Wannian said that the joint study has achieved positive outcomes and reached some findings and conclusions, thanks to efforts from the two sides. First, coronaviruses with high similarity to SARS-CoV-2 in gene sequences in bats and pangolins were found by the joint expert team. But the similarity is still not enough to make it a direct ancestor of SARS-CoV-2. Other species all could be potential natural hosts. Second, the first case in Wuhan got sick on December 8, 2019. The Huanan Seafood Market could be an outbreak site and amplifier of the COVID-19 pandemic. Third, environmental sampling in the Huanan Seafood Market from right at the point of its closing revealed widespread contamination of surfaces with the virus, especially in its aquatic product stalls. The coronavirus at the market might have been introduced through infected people or contaminated cold-chain products, animals, and animal products.

After scientific assessment, the joint expert team believes the SARS-CoV-2 virus is "most likely" to have been introduced through an intermediary host species, "likely" to have been introduced through direct transmission or cold-chain food, and "extremely unlikely" to have been introduced through a laboratory incident.

Liang Wannian pointed out that the joint expert team has put forward four suggestions in terms of future study. First, expand globally unified database, including molecule, gene sequence, clinic, epidemiology, animal monitoring and environmental monitoring data. Second, continue to look for more possible early cases in a wider range around the globe. Third, scientists around the world should search animal species that may become virus hosts in many countries and places, not limited to bats. Fourth, further understand the role of cold chain and frozen food in virus transmission.

For the full Joint China-WHO Press Conference of WHO-Convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-Cov-2  click here.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, March 14, 2021)

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