On the Right to an Informed Vote
Parties Demand an End to Election Broadcasting Privileges and Uphold
Right to Equality and an Informed Vote
to Broadcasting Arbitrator from
Majority of Registered
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
CPC(M-L)'s Position on
K.C. Adams -
• Questions and Answers
Fight Against Global Pandemic
Leads in Global Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic
- Isaac Saney -
• Video: Innovation in Cuba's Biotech
The IMF's Grip on Latin America
López Blanch -
Briefing on the China-WHO Joint
Study of the
Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Right to 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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."
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
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.
November 8, 2020
Allocation of Broadcasting Time
your appointment as Broadcasting Arbitrator. We look forward to working
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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
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
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.
Liz White, Animal
Partap Dua, Canada's
Rodney Taylor, Christian
Liz Rowley, Communist
Coreen Corcoran, Libertarian Party
Blair Longley, Marijuana Party
Di Carlo, Marxist-Leninist Party
Garvey, National Citizens Alliance
CoRhino, Parti Rhinocéros Party
Ranney, Stop Climate Change Party
Joy, Veterans Coalition Party
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
publishing below the submission of Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
National Leader Anna Di Carlo.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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?
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"
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
A Retrogressive Turn in the Electoral and
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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. 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
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.
preserve what little old growth forest remains in the province and have
forest production focus on second growth forests, as Conservation North
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
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
Forest Foundation, "An ecosystem-based approach to forest use:
definition and scientific rationale" (September 1997).
Wohlleben, The hidden
life of trees (Greystone Books, 2015).
Popyk, "Negligent logging caused 2018 floods, Grand Forks
residents allege in class action lawsuit," CBC News (September 15,
Carey Gillam, Whitewash:
the story of a weed killer, cancer, and the corruption of science
(Island Press, 2017).
Jonathan Gatehouse, "A roundhouse against Roundup," The National (May
Frederick Engels, The
condition of the working class in England in 1844.
conservation planning (video).
9. Stop the Spray BC.
10. Conservation North.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Party's Platform
Is there anything you would like to highlight about your party's
platform on any environmental issue?
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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
What measures/legislation would you support to help protect marine
ecosystems (e.g., increasing the amount of marine protected areas or
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.
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
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.
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.
and Other Levies and Individual Taxes
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Against Global Pandemic
April 25, 2020. Henry
Reeve International Medical Brigade contingent prepares to leave for
South Africa to participate in fight against COVID-19
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
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
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.
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
CNN Interview of March 2, 2021, click
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.
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.
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.
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."
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Blanch is a Cuban journalist, writer and researcher.
February 9, 2021.
WHO-China joint study press conference in Wuhan, in central China's
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
For the full Joint China-WHO
Press Conference of WHO-Convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-Cov-2
access articles individually click on the black headline.)
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