December 12, 2015 - No. 39

First Week of 42nd Parliament

New Liberal Government's
"Different Style of Leadership"

House of Commons Adopts Neo-Liberal Changes
to Income Tax Regime

Debate on Electoral Reform
Legislation Before the Parliament

Canada's Reactionary Stands on International Affairs
Opposition Motion on Canada's Role in Iraq and Syria
Indefensible Stand on UN Votes on Palestine
and Zionist Ethnic Cleansing

- Tony Seed -

Unacceptable Canadian Human Rights Resolution Against Iran

Defend the Bolivarian Revolution! Not One Step Back!
- Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) -

Oligarchy Captures Majority in Legislative Election
Patriotic Forces Pledge to Defend the Revolutionary Gains

Spurious Impeachment Proceedings Against President Rousseff

Guantanamo Seminar for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases

Coming Events -- Lift the Blockade on Cuba! Return Guantanamo!

First Week of 42nd Parliament

New Liberal Government's
"Different Style of Leadership"

The first week of sitting of the new Parliament from December 7 to 11 was used by the government to pass one motion: a ways and means motion to adjust income tax brackets and rates, and Bill C-3 to authorize spending for costs associated with resettling Syrian refugees in Canada. The government also established one committee, Procedure and House Affairs, which met December 8 and December 10. The government attempted but failed to establish a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons to make recommendations on a response to the Carter v. Canada Supreme Court ruling on physician-assisted suicide. Unanimous consent was required to establish committees during the short timeframe of the December sitting. Attempts to establish the membership of the Finance Committee and to hold its first meeting December 11 also did not receive unanimous consent. The next opportunity to strike this and other committees will come when Parliament returns on January 25, 2016.

The government's first attempt to receive consent for the committee on physician-assisted suicide failed on December 10. The Bloc Québécois, which under standard practice will not be allowed to sit on committees as it fell below the 12-MP threshold, pointed out that the issue which the committee will be reviewing is significant in Quebec and that they should be represented and did not give consent. For this the Liberals castigated the Bloc MPs calling them "completely irresponsible" and "not honouring the leadership of Quebec," presumably meaning the Couillard Liberal government. Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc accused the Bloc MPs of preventing Canadians from being heard on the issue as the government says it intends to consult on the issue. After this attempt to cajole MPs into giving consent LeBlanc then said he was "surprised" that Bloc MPs were still asking to sit on the committee, even as non-voting members, and said that MPs could take part in a future debate in the House of Commons on any legislation the government proposes.

The House of Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee met on December 10 but failed to form its steering committee, the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure. One of the committee's Vice-Chairs, MP David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, NDP) proposed a motion that would see the steering committee composed of the Chair, two Vice-Chairs and one, rather than two government MPs. This would mean that besides the Chair, there would be one MP each from the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic parties. Christopherson said this would encourage the steering committee to operate by consensus rather than having final decisions made by the ruling party. Christopherson also objected to the presence of Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North) at the December 10 meeting, saying he was there "to ride shotgun on behalf of the PMO to make sure this committee does exactly what the Prime Minister wants."

Backroom Deals

The government's motions to attempt to establish committees were all introduced by noting that "There have been discussions among all parties and I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion." Notably these discussions did not take place in Parliament or in any public forum and imply that the basis for the new Liberal government's image of cooperation and a new tone for Parliament is backroom deals in which some quid pro quo takes place about which Canadians are not informed. Between December 4 and 11 government MPs stated at least eight times that there had been "discussions among" or "consultations with" other parties to reach an agreement but not once did any MP reveal the content of those discussions, where they took place and who participated.

Whatever the content of these backroom deals, they were not successful during the three days of attempts to establish the Finance Committee where the government said it intended to present a report on pre-budget consultations no later than February 5, 2016. No MPs came forward to discuss openly the reasons for giving or refusing consent to the committee and what they may have been holding out for.

Inside the House everything has carried on the same way it did in the previous Parliament: Opposition parties attempt to catch or discredit the government on various topics to which government MPs reply with insinuations that the other parties are sore because they did not win the election, talk about how bad the previous government was, and stock answers while congratulating themselves on being open and transparent. The promised zero-tolerance for heckling from Speaker Geoff Regan hardly lasted the length of the speech and was not to be seen again.

Different Style of Leadership

In the government's mandate letters released November 13 Ministers were told they would be held accountable for the Liberals' "commitment to bring a different style of leadership to government." This is said to include "close collaboration with your colleagues; meaningful engagement with Opposition Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and the public service; constructive dialogue with Canadians, civil society, and stakeholders, including business, organized labour, the broader public sector, and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors; and identifying ways to find solutions and avoid escalating conflicts unnecessarily."

The Conservative opposition announced with glee the end of the Liberals' "sunny ways" 25 minutes into the first regular session of Parliament on December 7 when things descended into a back and forth over the record of the previous government. The same wisecracks about "sunny ways" were repeated another dozen times or so over the week but they mistook the meaning of the Liberals' sunny ways.

Wilfrid Laurier's "sunny ways," referred to by the new Liberal government comes from Aesop's fable, "The Wind and the Sun." It tells the story of the sun and the wind arguing over who was more powerful based on which one could convince a traveller to shed his coat. The wind proceeds to try to blow the coat away. But the harder the wind blows, the tighter the traveller bundles himself inside the coat. The sun decides to do the opposite and shine brightly and warmly on the traveller. The sun soon succeeds in getting the traveller to remove his coat, winning the contest.

The "sunny ways" are a claim that things can be accomplished on the basis of negotiation and reaching reasonable accommodations. This is said despite the fact that this is a period of monopoly rule, where the social contract which accommodated various interests is a thing of the past. There is a notion that the Liberals will be popular and that the problem with the Conservative government was the arrogant manner it used to implement the agenda of the monopolies, not the agenda itself. The Harper government's arrogant imposition and "stormy ways" are presumably to blame for its defeat. In fact, everything about the "sunny ways" is fraudulent. The Liberals have  no intention of negotiating anything because their agenda is also all about imposing the will of the most powerful monopolies. The first week of Parliament  provided ample examples that the Liberals' "sunny ways" or "different style of leadership" are also going to fall flat. When it does, Canadians can expect to see themselves blamed for the failures on the basis of a refusal to cooperate with the "sunny way" of doing things.

Meanwhile, the sectarian party system of government has degenerated into a mafia cartel party system  where nobody is interested in sorting out the contradictions in the ruling class as represented by the parties in Parliament except by establishing the hegemony of the factions they represent. The dictate of the  ruling elite over the working class and people must be exposed and fought. No amount of backroom deals under the guise of "collaboration" and "meaningful engagement" or "constructive dialogue" with sectors of society who have opposing interests will harmonize these interests or eradicate the people's striving for empowerment.

The mandate letters imply that the Liberal government will hold its own Ministers to account but what is missing are the mechanisms for Canadians to hold governments to account. In this regard, Canadians should go all out in 2016 to build the movement for democratic renewal and to strengthen their social forms for empowerment.

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House of Commons Adopts Neo-Liberal Changes
to Income Tax Regime

The House of Commons adopted a ways and means motion on December 9 to amend the Income Tax Act. Immediately after, the government introduced Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, which details the amendments to the act. Although Bill C-2 has only advanced to First Reading the ways and means motion ensures the changes are implemented beginning January 1, 2016 and do not have to be adopted in the Senate. The ways and means motion and bill change the boundaries of income tax brackets, introduce one new tax bracket, change income tax rates for two of the income tax brackets and make several other changes to the Act.[1]

Bill C-2 is the first legislation proposed by the new government, as Bill C-1 is a customary, pro forma bill introduced at the opening of each session of Parliament. The vote for the bill was split along party lines, with 230 MPs from the Liberal Party, NDP and Bloc Québécois in favour and 95 Conservative MPs against.

The changes to income tax rates in Bill C-2 have received a lot of attention and the Liberal government is calling it a "middle class tax cut."

The 15 per cent income tax rate ceiling has been raised to $45,282 in annual earnings, up from $40,726. The next tax bracket is now defined as earnings greater than $45,282 but equal to or less than $90,563. The tax rate for this bracket, which the new Liberal government calls "middle class," is lowered from 22 per cent to 20.5 per cent. The boundaries for the next tax bracket now range from above $90,563 to equal or less than $140,388 in annual earnings and the income tax rate remains 26 per cent. The fourth tax bracket, which used to apply a tax rate of 29% to all annual earnings exceeding $126,264, is now $140,388 to $200,000 in annual earnings and the tax rate remains 29 per cent. The new fifth tax bracket introduced in Bill C-2 applies an income tax rate of 33 per cent to anyone earning more than $200,000 per year.

There are no income tax rates in Canada that deal specifically with those who earn in the millions. A "basic personal amount" of income for which income taxes are refundable after an individual files a federal tax return currently stands at $11,138 and was not changed in the ways and means motion or Bill C-2.

The government's stated reasons for the change in tax brackets and rates was so that "middle class Canadians have more money in their pockets to save, invest, and grow the economy." The government intends to offset the loss of revenue with the new tax bracket, which it calls "[asking] the wealthiest one percent of Canadians to give a little more."

The changes deepen the incoherence of Canada's archaic tax system, which uses convoluted formulas to derive state revenue from individuals rather than direct claims on value produced in the economy. According to the Canada Revenue Agency around two-thirds of Canadians who file tax returns earn less than $45,000 and are therefore in the lowest tax bracket and see no change as a result of Bill C-2.

The Liberal changes to tax rates are not intended to solve any problem facing working Canadians. State revenue will continue to be raised primarily on the backs of working people, whose added-value created during their working lives is already claimed in large part by private capital. Much of the same state revenue derived from taxing working Canadians is then given to private monopolies, a trend set to accelerate under the Liberals' infrastructure investment schemes.

Because of the convoluted nature of the income tax system the tax rate reduction for what the Liberals call the "middle class" will also benefit those in the higher tax brackets of $90,563 and above. This is because tax will be paid on income between $45,282 and $90,563 at the reduced rate of 20.5 per cent regardless of the individual's total annual income, in the same way that tax paid on the first $11,138 in earnings is considered refundable regardless of final income.


1. Finance Minister William Francis Morneau published an 11-page document, Explanatory Notes Relating to the Income Tax Act, much of which deals with how Bill C-2 affects private corporations, investment income and dividends. It can be found here. A number of other changes to the Income Tax Act were introduced in the bill, some of which reflect the changes to tax brackets and income tax rates such as changes to split income taxation and taxes payable by trusts and estates. The bill also reduces the annual contribution limit for Tax Free Savings Accounts to $5,500.

Individuals whose annual taxable income exceeds $200,000 are now eligible for a 33 per cent donation credit for donations to registered charities in excess of $200. The act also "imposes an additional amount of [refundable] tax... on investment income of a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC)." The Department of Finance says this is intended to "reduce personal income tax deferral possibilities that individuals earning investment income directly might otherwise obtain by earning such income through a CCPC." The dividend refund rate for private corporations is similarly increased.

The explanatory notes from Morneau explain the tax credit changes in the following way:

"For example, in the case of an individual that has $215,000 of taxable income and makes $20,000 in total gifts in 2016, the individual's tax credit under subsection 118.1(3) is calculated as the total of:

"- $30, being 15% of the first $200 of total gifts;

"- $4,950, determined as 33% of $15,000, being the lesser of

"- the amount by which the individual's total gifts exceeded $200 ($19,800), and

"- the amount by which the individual's taxable income exceeded $200,000 ($15,000); and

"- $1,392, determined as 29% of $4,800, being the amount by which the individual's total gifts for the year ($20,000) exceeds the total of $200 and the amount of the individual's gifts to which the 33% rate applied ($15,000).

"In this case, the individual's 2016 tax credit for gifts would total $6,372 ($30 + $4,950 + $1,392)."

(Canada Revenue Agency, Finance Canada, PressProgress)

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Debate on Electoral Reform

In the Parliament this week a great diversion took place on the issue of the Liberals' proposal to reform the electoral law. Instead of discussing the urgent need for democratic renewal, the Liberals repeated their electoral promises to reverse the changes brought in by the Conservatives and the process the Liberals will follow to change the voting system. The Conservatives' attacks on the government focused on requesting that the government hold a referendum of Canadians on the changes they propose to make. This is  beyond hypocritical given the Conservatives' approach to electoral reform while in government where the most spurious changes were made to the electoral system in the most surreptitious ways. The Conservatives ran roughshod over every attempt Canadians made to stop them from introducing these changes to the law, including opposing court challenges and decisions of the courts.

Now that they are in power, the Liberals are hoping to re-establish what are called "free and fair elections." The fact that there is nothing fair or free about the electoral system, as its aim is in fact to disempower Canadians, is ignored but must be addressed. So too must the fact that it was the Liberals who started the current spate of reforms in the early 1990s which increasingly enshrine privilege and seek to cover up the corruption of the political parties with seats in the House of Commons.

In their platform the Liberals promised to "end first-past-the-post voting system and explore alternative options." Nothing more was stated. The mandate letter the Prime Minister provided to the newly-appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions mandates the Minister, amongst other things, to:

"Bring forward a proposal to establish a special parliamentary committee to consult on electoral reform, including preferential ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting.

"Introduce amendments to the Canada Elections Act to make the Commissioner of Canada Elections more independent from Government. In addition, repeal the elements of the Fair Elections Act which makes it harder for Canadians to vote and easier for election law breakers to evade punishment.

"Bring forward options to create an independent commissioner to organize political party leaders' debates during future federal election campaigns, with a mandate to improve Canadians' knowledge of the parties, their leaders, and their policy positions.

"Review the limits on the amounts political parties and third parties can spend during elections, and propose measures to ensure that spending between elections is subject to reasonable limits as well."

The Conservatives were clear in their interventions on electoral reform that they support the Liberals' view that it is the government that should put forward the choices Canadians would vote on in a referendum. They do not support involving Canadians in studying alternatives and proposing the system through which to elect their government, and then voting on that in a referendum. This they want to keep in the hands of the government and the "special parliamentary committee" that will decide how to consult Canadians and the choice to be put to them in a referendum.

For their part the Liberals responded by attacking the Conservatives for refusing to consult Canadians on anything. They claim that their election victory means they have a mandate to change the system as they see fit. They said they will consult Canadians, which involves establishing the "all-party special parliamentary committee." They have not explicitly ruled out a referendum, although there is no indication that they will hold one either. However they seem to want to avoid having a process where representatives of the electorate selected by the people themselves, not the parties, consult on and decide how to proceed with electoral reform. Instead it appears they intend to keep this fundamental question in the hands of the cartel parties that have benefited from the system as it currently exists, and disregard the views and opinions of the broad masses of the people.

The exchanges which took place during the first week of the new Parliament gave Canadians a good example of the way in which the very real need for the renewal of Canada's democratic institutions will be dismissed by the new government with the help of the Opposition. TML Weekly will be dealing with this in detail in the New Year and calling on Canadians to engage in  the discussion and not leave it in the hands of the cartel parties.

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Legislation Before the Parliament

There are 27 pieces of legislation before the 42nd Parliament as of the close of its first week. Three are government bills: two were introduced in the House of Commons and one in the Senate. Of the 24 private member's bills, 13 are from Liberals (all are Senate bills), six from Conservatives (one of them is a Senate bill), four from the NDP, and one is from an Independent in the Senate. Bills C-1 and S-1 are considered pro forma bills which open each session of Parliament and do not proceed beyond first reading.

Bill C-2, Appropriation Act No. 4, 2015-16 was introduced, considered by a committee of the whole and passed third reading on December 10 before receiving royal assent on December 11. The bill was adopted by a vote of 228 to 96 in the House of Commons, with votes split along party lines and all parties supporting the bill besides the Conservative Official Opposition.

Bill C-3 is intended to provide funding for the government's resettlement of 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of February 2016, with a total $810,104,813 authorized. It was originally passed without the required schedules that detail the amounts of the government's supplementary estimates for spending. This was discovered after the bill had passed first reading at Senate and the proceedings had to be declared null and void and the bill reintroduced with schedules before proceeding to the next stages and receiving Royal Assent. It was not reintroduced in the House of Commons.

All other legislation is at the first reading stage.

The way in which the numerous private members' bills and bills put forward by opposition parties are dealt with will provide an example of how the government intends to proceed with its parliamentary reforms and the new tone it says it will set. The Liberal platform said that they will "give Canadians a stronger voice in the House of Commons by limiting the circumstances in which Liberal Members of Parliament will be required to vote with Cabinet," or in other words "make free votes in the House of Commons standard practice." The stated exceptions to this as a standard practice are: bills that implement the Liberal electoral platform; "traditional confidence measures, like the budget"; and "those that address our shared values and the protections guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

In past Parliaments opposition private members' bills have typically been defeated by the party in power or"left to die on the order paper," meaning they never came to a vote. When private members' bills are adopted it is often the result of backroom deal-making between parties in the Parliament which result in compromises or pledges of support for other initiatives, with individual MPs then voting according to the decision of the party caucuses. Meanwhile the government does not yet have a majority in the Senate. Parliament resumes the final week of January.

Bills Before Parliament

C-2, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act

- Amends the Income Tax Act to correspond to changes in tax brackets implemented by the government in a ways and means motion on December 9.

C-201, An Act to amend the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act (independent assessment), Matthew Dubé (Beloeil--Chambly, NDP)

- Amends the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act to provide for third-party assessment of property value of national historic sites.

C-202, An Act to establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights and to make a related amendment to another Act, Linda Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona, NDP)

- Establishes a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights "whose provisions apply to all decisions that emanate from a federal source or are related to federal land or a federal work or undertaking."

C-203, An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages), François Choquette (Drummond, NDP)

- Amends the Supreme Court Act to introduce "a new requirement for judges appointed to the Supreme Court to understand French and English without the assistance of an interpreter."

C-204, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), Randall Garrison (Esquimalt--Saanich--Sooke, NDP)

- Amends the Canadian Human Rights Act "to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination," and "amends the Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression as distinguishing characteristics protected under section 318 and as aggravating circumstances."

C-205, An Act to designate the month of June as ALS Month, David Tilson (Dufferin--Caledon, Conservative)

- Designates the month of June in each and every year as ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis] Month.

C-206, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (abuse of vulnerable persons), Jim Eglinski (Yellowhead, Conservative)

- Specifies that the age of a victim 65 years and over or an individual dependent on others for care be considered an aggravating circumstance for sentencing for physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse.

C-207, An Act to establish National Appreciation Day, Todd Doherty (Cariboo--Prince George, Conservative)

- Designates the third day of March in each and every year as a day "for the people of Canada to express appreciation for the heroic work of members of the Canadian Forces and emergency response professionals, including police officers, firefighters and paramedics."

C-208, An Act to amend the Canada Evidence Act (interpretation of numerical dates), Todd Doherty (Cariboo--Prince George, Conservative)

- Amends the Canada Evidence Act to direct courts on how to interpret a numeric date that is in dispute.

C-209, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (high-profile offenders), Todd Doherty (Cariboo--Prince George, Conservative)

- Amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act "to require the Correctional Service of Canada, in certain circumstances, to disclose details of the statutory release of a high-profile offender by posting them on its website and to provide a written notice of the disclosure of the information to the victim."

S-201, An Act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination, Sen. James S. Cowan (Nova Scotia, Independent Liberal)

- Prohibits any person from "requiring an individual to undergo a genetic test or disclose the results of a genetic test as a condition of providing goods or services to, entering into or continuing a contract or agreement with, or offering specific conditions in a contract or agreement with, the individual," and makes similar amendments to the Canadian Labour Code, Canadian Human Rights Act, Privacy Act, and Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

S-202, An Act to amend the Divorce Act (shared parenting plans), Sen. Anne C. Cools (Ontario, Independent)

- Amends the Divorce Act "to provide for parenting plans that set out the responsibilities and authority of each spouse with respect to the care, development and upbringing of a child of the marriage."

S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins), Sen. Wilfred P. Moore (Nova Scotia, Independent Liberal)

- Amends the Criminal Code to create offences respecting cetaceans in captivity, amends the Fisheries Act to prohibit capture of cetaceans and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act to prohibit import and export of cetaceans.

S-204, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act (borrowing of money), Sen. Wilfred P. Moore (Nova Scotia, Independent Liberal)

- Amends Part IV (Public Debt) of the Financial Administration Act "to restrict the circumstances in which the Governor in Council may authorize the borrowing of money without legislative approval."

S-205, An Act to amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act (Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, Sen. Wilfred P. Moore (Nova Scotia, Independent Liberal)

- Provides for the "appointment of an Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency with the authority to report on and make recommendations concerning the Agency's activities and the capacity to receive and investigate complaints about the Agency."

S-206, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children against standard child-rearing violence), Sen. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Quebec, Independent Liberal)

- Removes "the justification in the Criminal Code available to schoolteachers, parents and persons standing in the place of parents of using force as a means of correction toward a pupil or child under their care."

S-207, An Act to modernize the composition of the boards of directors of certain corporations, financial institutions and parent Crown corporations, and in particular to ensure the balanced representation of women and men on those boards, Sen. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Quebec, Independent Liberal)

- Incrementally requires federally-regulated corporations to "ensure that the proportion of directors of each sex on their board of directors is not less than 40 per cent and that shareholders may vote against a candidate for a director's position."

S-208, An Act respecting National Seal Products Day, Sen. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Quebec, Independent Liberal)

- Designates May 20 as "National Seal Products Day."

S-209, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (communications with and services to the public), Sen. Maria Chaput (Manitoba, Independent Liberal)

- Amends the Official Languages Act to "introduce the concept of equal quality of communications and services offered by federal institutions in each official language," and "specifies the locations where federal institutions have a duty to provide communications and services in both official languages."

S-210, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, Sen. Mobina S.B. Jaffer (British Columbia, Independent Liberal)

- Amends An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts "by repealing its short title," which was Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act.

S-211, An Act respecting National Sickle Cell Awareness Day, Sen. Jane Cordy (Nova Scotia, Independent Liberal)

- Designates June 19 as "National Sickle Cell Awareness Day."

S-212, An Act for the advancement of the aboriginal languages of Canada and to recognize and respect aboriginal language rights, Sen. Serge Joyal (Quebec, Independent Liberal)

- "Recognizes the right of the aboriginal peoples of Canada to use, preserve, revitalize and promote their languages, and expresses the Government of Canada's commitment to preserve, revitalize and promote aboriginal languages in Canada by protecting them and using them where appropriate."

S-213, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Parliament of Canada Act (Speakership of the Senate), Sen. Terry M. Mercer (Nova Scotia, Independent Liberal)

- Amends the Constitution Act, 1867 to provide for the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Senate by secret ballot and to limit the ability of the Senate speaker to vote except as a tiebreaker.

S-214, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (cruelty-free cosmetics), Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen (New Brunswick, Conservative)

- Amends the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit cosmetic animal testing and the sale of cosmetics developed or manufactured using cosmetic animal testing.

S-215, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for violent offences against Aboriginal women), Sen. Lillian Eva Dyck, (Saskatchewan, Independent Liberal)

- Amends the Criminal Code to require a court, "when imposing a sentence for certain violent offences, to consider the fact that the victim is an Aboriginal woman to be an aggravating circumstance."

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Canada's Reactionary Stands on International Affairs

Opposition Motion on Canada's Role in Iraq and Syria

On December 10, Conservative Foreign Affairs critic Tony Clement (Parry Sound-Muskoka) tabled the Conservatives' first Opposition motion for debate in the House of Commons.[1] The Opposition resolution called upon the government to maintain the air-combat mission of RCAF CF-18 fighter jets that are participating in Canada's Operation IMPACT which is part of a coalition of countries led by the U.S. operating in Iraq and Syria known as the Middle East Stabilization Force.[2]

The resolution stated: "That, given that ISIS has taken responsibility for recent deadly attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Africa, and has declared war on Canada, this House: (a) acknowledge that now is not the time for Canada to step back and force our allies to take on a heavier burden in the fight against ISIS; (b) remind the government of its obligation to our NATO partners and its responsibility to protect the freedom, democracy, safety, and security of Canadians; (c) call upon the government to maintain the air-combat mission of the RCAF CF-18 fighter jets; (d) express its appreciation to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces for their participation in the fight against terror; and (e) reconfirm our commitment to our allies to stop ISIS.

Representatives of the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP all spoke to the motion including the Minister and critics for Foreign Affairs as well as National Defence.

In his remarks on his motion, Clement repeated the Conservative claim that underlay many of the questions from Conservative MPs throughout the first week of Parliament: by committing to withdraw Canada's CF-18s at some point in the future the Liberals are leaving Canada's allies in the lurch and stepping back from the fight against ISIS. He presented the Harper government's participation in bombing Syria and Iraq, by contrast, as standing shoulder to shoulder with Canada's allies to defeat ISIS. He cited ISIS' alleged crimes and linked these to killings in California, France, Lebanon, Egypt and Yemen as a preface to his call for Canada to maintain its direct bombing missions. He then referred to other allies that are stepping up their actions in Iraq and Syria.

"The international community and our allies are at one. Here is what some of the leaders around the world, our coalition allies, have to say about the fight against ISIS. David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, stated: ISIL has brutally murdered British hostages. They have inspired the worst terrorist attack against British people since 7/7 on the beaches of Tunisia, and they have plotted atrocities on the streets here at home. Since November last year our security services have foiled no fewer than seven different plots against our people, so this threat is very real. The question is this: do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat, and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands, from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?

"The President of the French Republic, François Hollande, has had quite a bit to say about this. He has said that France would battle ISIS 'without a respite, without a truce... It is not a question of containing but of destroying this organisation.' President Obama stated, 'ISIL is the face of evil. Our goal, as I've said many times, is to degrade and ultimately destroy this barbaric terrorist organization.' It is evidently clear where our allies stand on this issue, but, sadly, Canada's position, once clearly defined under our previous Conservative government, is now hazy and hesitant."

Responding with questions, Liberal Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan as well as Party Whip, former Canadian General Andrew Leslie focused on asking why the Conservatives did not pre-empt ISIL's formation when it was emerging and why the Conservatives did not prefer Canada to focus its involvement in training "indigenous forces" in the countries it is attacking in order to achieve its goals for those countries as Canada did in Afghanistan.

"My question is, where was the previous government's leadership in identifying the threat when ISIL was a small organization?" Sajjan said.

In defending Canada's intention to focus on training, Leslie asked rhetorically "why the previous government chose not to deploy CF-18s to Afghanistan and instead focused the overwhelming majority of its efforts on training indigenous forces" there. He had already referred to it as producing extraordinary value.

Sajjan later explained the Liberal government's view on how the problem of ISIS/ISIL poses itself, focusing on the need for a "multi-layered militarized" response: "The attacks we have seen most recently in Beirut and Paris demand a unified response, and Canada will play a role in this fight. The question is how we will confront this challenge." He said:

"To destroy ISIL and its twisted ideology over the long term, we will need a local force professionally trained and ready to defend its territory. While ISIL is a complex, interconnected threat, in addition to its military power, it seeks to inspire terrorist attacks for the mass displacement of refugees and for the intimidation of others. These separate problems are all part of the same threat, ISIL, but none of them can be defeated with military power alone. To combat these threats, we need to be flexible and measured and have a multi-faceted approach, an approach that will continue to battle ISIL on multiple fronts and which addresses the political, social and economic drivers fueling the conflict in Iraq and Syria. These approaches include hindering the flow of foreign fighters, addressing the humanitarian needs, and halting ISIL's financing and funding."

He then referred to bringing Syrian refugees to Canada as part of the fight against ISIS, falsely linking the refugees with "Muslims" and the need for "us" to show Muslims they have a place in "our society" by welcoming these refugees with open arms. According to this logic, presumably the Muslims in Canada are at risk of being radicalized and welcoming refugees from Syria will serve to counteract this. In this way Canadians are divided on a religious basis, with Muslims in particular singled out, hiding that many countries where the majority of the citizens are Muslims have been destroyed by the U.S. and its NATO allies.

"We are taking important steps on these fronts, not the least of which is the acceptance of 25,000 Syrian refugees. As the Prime Minister indicated yesterday in the House, the first such refugees will be arriving tonight in Toronto, with more coming on Saturday in Montreal," he said.

"The best way to show Muslims that they have a place in our society is by accepting these refugees with open arms, as we did with the Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s and the Kosovars in the late 1990s," he said. Neither the Opposition nor media pointed to the fact that the Kosovar refugee crisis was also fabricated by the NATO powers including Canada to suit their purpose of dismembering Yugoslavia, while the Vietnamese boat people were created when the aim to divide Vietnam so as to stop it being ruled by the Vietnamese people themselves failed.

Citing Canada's experience in Afghanistan Sajjan added, "This change in approach [training rather than focusing on bombing. TML Ed Note] is no different from the decision our country faced in 2011 when we shifted from our combat mission in Afghanistan to one where we focused on training. That mission was known as Operation Attention. It was a successful one for both Canada and Afghanistan. Over three years, our soldiers trained 116 Kandaks or battalions in everything from basic military skills to advanced techniques. The expertise we acquired during that mission, not only in the skills that we were passing on but in how best to teach them to others, is exactly what is needed in the fight against ISIL right now. Our special forces are more than capable of carrying on this mission. They are some of the most highly trained and knowledgeable soldiers in the world. By increasing the number of advisers, which is one option that has been suggested, we will help turn citizens bravely fighting to protect their loved ones into professional soldiers, people expelling this cancer from their midst and preventing it from returning."

By sleight of hand Sajjan indicates that training means advisers, which means special forces. Canadians are supposed to believe that Canada's training will not mean Canada participating in a war on the ground in Syria against the government and people as well as forces linked to ISIS.

To round out the pro-regime change, pro-war consensus that to all appearances is being established in Parliament, NDP critic for Foreign Affairs Hélène Laverdière in her questions, blamed the Syrian government for being the main cause of the refugee crisis. "I was struck by the comment my colleague made in his speech about how all the refugees that we are going to take in are people who are fleeing ISIS. Is my colleague aware that many, if not most, of those refugees are fleeing Bashar al-Assad's regime, not ISIS? Is he also aware that many coalition members are not participating in the bombings? Finally, why is he so convinced that bombing is going to solve the problem, when there are so many examples of conflicts in that region where such action did not lead to a peaceful solution?"

The NDP Foreign Affairs critic waded further into the abyss trying to justify interference in Syria's affairs in violation of international law in her response to a question from Conservative Environment and Climate Change critic Michael Chong (Wellington--Halton Hills). Chong invoked the interventionist, pro-imperialist "responsibility to protect" doctrine:

"It was a previous Liberal government, under Minister Lloyd Axworthy, that was critical in establishing the responsibility to protect doctrine in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. It is clear that the Islamic State has committed many atrocities, arguably some of the worst and most widespread atrocities in recent memory. We do not need to enumerate them here. My question is this. If the atrocities committed by the Islamic State are not enough to trigger the responsibility to protect doctrine by the current government, what kinds of atrocities do we need to see before it will invoke that doctrine? If it is not willing to invoke it in this situation, does that really mean that it is abandoning that very basic humanitarian approach that would prevent genocides like that of Rwanda from taking place around the world?"

Laverdière responded by reinforcing the pro-war position whereby either an ambiguous UN Security Council resolution or at least an endorsement by NATO is needed to justify wars of aggression that violate the UN Charter and international peace and security, as was the case in Libya: "Invoking the responsibility to protect has been discussed at length. That having been said, it is important to remember that the responsibility to protect is not something that one country can invoke. There are clear criteria in the doctrine. Military intervention must be approved by the UN Security Council. Therefore, we cannot invoke R2P, the responsibility to protect, unless there is a decision by the UN Security Council. In this case, we obviously do not have either a UN Security Council endorsement or a NATO endorsement. That lack of endorsement by a multilateral body is a further problem with the mission."

The NDP position will face more questions as both the Liberals and Conservatives will begin to claim that there is in fact UN Security Council support for war against Syria.


1. Opposition motions have precedence over all Government Supply motions on Supply days (also called "allotted" days). Members in opposition to the Government can propose motions for debate on any matter falling within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada, as well as on committee reports concerning Estimates. There are a total of 22 allotted days under Supply in which the Opposition can put forward motions. All motions are voted upon unless the sponsor of such a motion has designated it non-votable.

2. Reports indicate that the Liberals have only committed to ending the bombing runs of Canada's CF-18s in Iraq and Syria. Other Air Force assets which assist the U.S., Britain and others in bombing Iraq, and in the case of Syria that assist the opposition to the Syrian government, may stay.

Besides the CF-18s, Canada also has two Aurora surveillance/reconnaissance aircraft, two transport planes and a Polaris in-flight refuelling plane contributing to the coalition carrying out the bombing of Iraq and Syria. The government has refused requests to confirm whether those aircraft will remain in the skies over Iraq and Syria.

"We're still not able to outline exactly what the contribution to the coalition against ISIS will entail," said Tina Crouse, a press secretary with the Department of National Defence temporarily assigned to assist with media queries for the Minister's office. "The government will make that announcement in due time."

According to the Department of National Defence, Canada's Joint Task Force-Iraq is made up of "approximately 600 CAF personnel," who are deployed to provide "planning and liaison personnel to work with the U.S. and other coalition partners; command and control, and logistics; and an air task force.

"As part of Joint Task Force-Iraq, Air Task Force-Iraq (ATF-I) contributes to coalition air operations against the so-called ISIS.This mission extension and expansion allows the CAF to strike the so-called ISIS targets in both Iraq and Syria. The use of air power contributes to the destruction of the so-called ISIS infrastructure and equipment, denying them the military means to attack Iraqi security forces or coalition assets.

"The ATF-I includes: six CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft; one CC-150T Polaris aerial refueller to support coalition air operations; two CP-140M Aurora surveillance aircraft to contribute to coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities; and aircrew support elements."

It may well be that like in the third war on Iraq led by George Bush Jr., Canada will provide planes that assist U.S. and other forces in selecting and hitting their targets, and possibly also planes to refuel those doing the bombing under the weaselly logic that this is not really participating in the "bombing mission."

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Indefensible Stand on UN Votes on Palestine and
Zionist Ethnic Cleansing

On November 24, the UN General Assembly adopted five non-binding resolutions on Palestine. Canada voted against all five, showing its status as as lapdog for the United States and Israel and its contempt for the rights of the Palestinian people and international law. The only major states voting against all five were the USA, Canada and Israel.

The Liberals' "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine was used to embroil Canada in U.S.-led wars against the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria, while avoiding any "responsibility to protect" Palestinians from Israeli occupation and war crimes or to uphold international law. It is coupled with the corollary that long-term military presence in the Middle East is a matter of Canada's national security, and that Canada must not "stand on the sidelines" while "our allies" are involved in aggression. These wars, including three on the Palestinians in the past nine years, have unleashed the massive human suffering, destruction and refugee crises that we have witnessed over the last twenty years and which we see today. This mantra of the Liberals and the drama staged around Syrian refugees forced out of their homeland by a foreign-sponsored, funded, organized and manned reactionary civil war cannot hide the reality that over 5 million Palestinians involving three generations are already refugees from their homeland and forcibly denied the right of return and their right to be.

No attention whatosever is paid as to why the rights of the people to self-determination, to sovereignty and to live in peace are principles of international law. Today we are facing the unacceptable situation when global legal norms are being intentionally trampled on. This is a committed policy of the U.S. and NATO aimed at creating a parallel international law to which the Trudeau Liberals adhere like white on rice.

Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (A/70/L.10)

Extract: "Requests the Committee to continue to exert all efforts to promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination, to support the achievement without delay of an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and of the two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders..."


- 102 in favour

- 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States)

- 57 abstentions

Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat (A/70/L.11)

Extract: "Considers that, by providing substantive support to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in the implementation of its mandate, the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat continues to make a most useful and constructive contribution to raising international awareness of the question of Palestine..."


- 99 in favor

- 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States)

- 59 abstentions

Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat (A/70/L.12)

Extract: "Considers that the special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department is very useful in raising the awareness of the international community concerning the question of Palestine..."


- 155 in favour

- 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States)

- 7 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Tonga)

Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine (A/70/L.13)

Extract: "Expressing grave concern about the extremely detrimental impact of Israeli settlement policies, decisions and activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including on the contiguity, integrity and viability of the Territory ..."


- 155 in favour

- 7 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States)

- 7 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Nauru, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga)

Jerusalem (A/70/L.14)

Extract: "Reiterates its determination that any actions taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to immediately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures."


- 153 in favour

- 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States)

- 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Toga, Tonga)

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Unacceptable Canadian Human Rights
Resolution Against Iran

On November 19, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution L.45: Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic. This resolution was drafted and introduced by Canada as part of ongoing attacks by the Canadian state against Iran that are aimed at isolating and destabilizing that country in the service of Anglo-American geo-political interests. These attacks include the unilateral severing of diplomatic relations with Iran on September 7, 2012, and putting Iran on a spurious list of states that sponsor terrorism. One of the pretexts given for these actions at that time was the accusation that Iran was the biggest human rights violator in the world.

This hooligan behaviour was once again on display when Canada introduced its resolution on November 5 at the Third Committee. This marks the 13th year that Canada has introduced such as resolution at the UN. It should be recalled that Canada broke off diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012 after the latter had hosted a successful meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement that exemplified the isolation of the Anglo-American imperialist system of states.

Resolution L.45 is a blatant violation of the sovereignty of Iran and based on Cold War definitions of human rights. As TML Weekly pointed out at the time of Canada's review by the UN Human Rights Committee earlier this year:

"The concepts of rights and so-called universal values promoted by Canada originate with the U.S. imperialists, specifically the 1991 'Paris Charter.' The essence of the Paris Charter is to declare any country which does not have a market economy, human rights and elections of a kind which suit the U.S. and the big powers of old Europe a pariah state that requires regime change. It is this Cold War definition of human rights that Canada and other countries that are part of the U.S./EU imperialist system of states use to berate other countries."[1]

It calls on the Iranian government to uphold the rights of women and minorities, political opponents of the regime, to end torture and other cruel punishment, as well as arbitrary detention among other things -- rights which the Canadian state violates at home with impunity.

When the resolution was introduced on November 5, the representative of the Iranian delegation pointed out that it was regrettable that Canada had seen fit to put forward this resolution at a time when Iran had recently concluded a nuclear deal based on diplomacy and negotiations carried out in a spirit of mutual respect. She also pointed out that Canada's defence of human rights is suspect given its treatment of Indigenous peoples. She stated that she hoped that the new Canadian government would help undo some of the damage that has been done vis-à-vis Canada-Iran relations in the last dozen year.

Many countries including Nigeria, Ecuador, Cuba, Belarus, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Syria and Bolivia, spoke against the resolution. Among other things, they highlighted that the resolution was counterproductive to advancing human rights and that it violates the UN Charter by interfering in the internal affairs of another country. They also rejected the politicization of human rights by singling out certain countries for sanction while other countries with dubious human rights records are immune. Iran's representative said that resolution was based on fabrications and speculation. He said it was outrageous that some of the co-sponsoring countries were dictatorships where no human rights could be found anywhere, while others were countries which are recruiting, sheltering and arming terrorists to carry out attacks against the peoples of the world.

It is clear that many of the countries which voted with the resolution were coerced to do so by the Anglo-American powers. The vote of 76 for, 35 against and 68 abstentions shows slightly less support than last year's resolution which received a vote of 78 for, 35 against with 69 abstentions.

All peace- and justice-loving Canadians must oppose this brutal resolution against Iran. It does not serve the cause of human rights anywhere. The Canadian state which violates human rights with impunity at home does not have the credibility to speak about human rights anywhere else.


1. "Anti-Human Rights Agenda: Canada's Weapon to Oppose and Humiliate Countries that Choose an Independent Path," TML Weekly, July 11, 2015 - No. 28.

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Defend the Bolivarian Revolution! Not One Step Back!

Final election rally of the patriotic forces before the election, Caracas, December 3, 2015. (AVN)

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) extends its militant support to the revolutionary workers and people of Venezuela and their leadership following the takeover of the National Assembly by the forces of the U.S.-backed oligarchy in the elections of December 6, 2015. CPC(M-L) reiterates its confidence in the irreversible Bolivarian process which has seen the Venezuelan people affirm their rights against the forces of privilege, slavery and monopoly right who usurped power by force and seek to do the same again today.

CPC(M-L) salutes the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and its leader, President Nicolás Maduro who affirmed that Venezuela's struggle for socialism is just beginning and the necessity to start afresh to defend the country against the forces of counter-revolution. "It's not a time to cry, it's a time to fight," said Maduro. The Venezuelan people and their organizations in the neighbourhoods, workplaces, collectives, social missions and political parties are now preparing to defend themselves and their revolution in the context of the state terror the oligarchy and finance capital are planning to unleash.

CPC(M-L) condemns the economic war and electoral coup orchestrated over the course of recent years by the U.S. imperialists, rulers of Old Europe and Canada, the privileged elite of Latin America and their agents. With unbridled arrogance these forces are now wagging their jaws about the designs they have in store for Venezuela and its workers, women, youth and Indigenous peoples. Chief among these is the repeal of Venezuela's Organic Labour Law, which protects the rights of workers, and the Law of Fair Prices which has worked to defend the people against economic terrorism. The oligarchy has pledged to go further to oust President Maduro and destroy the Venezuelan Constitution, an historic achievement in defence of the rights of the people.

Any new attempts by the Canadian government to use the results of the elections in Venezuela to stir up divisions amongst the Venezuelan people so as to undermine their ability to solve their problems in a manner that serves their interests and not those of the monopolies must also be condemned.

CPC(M-L) rejects the comments of Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion which attempt to resurrect the imperialist "Inter-American Democratic Charter" which was imposed by the U.S., Canada and its allies through the Organization of American States and use it to interfere in Venezuela's affairs as the oligarchy uses their majority of seats in Congress to try to undermine the Venezuelan constitutional order and its Bolivarian character.

Canadians, Quebeckers and Indigenous peoples have always stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Venezuela in our common fight for a new direction for the Americas in which public right is upheld not monopoly right. This is all the more the case today. Our fight is one fight against the imperialist neo-liberal agenda and its expression in our homelands.

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Oligarchy Captures Majority in Legislative Election

Venezuelans line up outside polling station to vote, December 6, 2015.

The preliminary results of the December 6 Venezuelan legislative election were announced by the President of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, early December 7. The "Roundtable of Democratic Unity" (MUD), a coalition of right-wing opposition parties, won the majority of seats in the National Assembly (109). The Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), a coalition including President Nicolás Maduro's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) now holds 55 seats and there are three indigenous representatives. The CNE announced that 13,742,974 (74.17%) of the 19,540,000 registered electors participated.

A simple majority gives the MUD authority to remove or censure vice-presidents and ministers. With more than two-thirds of the 167 seats they would have authority to modify laws, remove Supreme Court magistrates and convoke a Constituent Assembly.

One hundred and thirteen seats in the National Assembly are elected in a first-past-the-post system from Venezuela's 87 electoral districts, while 51 are elected from a closed list by proportional representation based on the country's 23 states plus the Capital District. The three seats reserved for Indigenous peoples are elected by those communities.

Venezuelan President Maduro spoke early December 7 and praised the country's electoral system and the large turnout. "The constitution and democracy have triumphed, we recognize and accept these results," said Maduro. "We have lost a battle today but the fight for a new socialism has barely begun. We see this as a slap to wake us up to act," he said, adding "It's not a time to cry, it's a time to fight."

President Maduro speaks at an election rally of the Great Patriotic Pole, December 3, 2015.

The President called for "a new stage of the revolution" with "leadership from the base." He stated that "a counter-revolution won, not the opposition" but that the "struggle for socialism is just beginning." Maduro pointed out that the Venezuelan people are "experts in starting over. We came from the streets; we are the people of difficulties," he said.

December 6 was the twentieth occasion on which Venezuelans have voted since the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution, and one of the few cases where the movement, founded and led by Commander Hugo Chávez, has suffered an electoral defeat. After the results were announced, many pointed out that previous election results with victory for the Bolivarian forces were called frauds by the U.S. imperialists and Venezuelan oligarchy but that this result was not questioned. This time too U.S. officials and Venezuelan opposition figures had said they would consider any result on December 6 not in their favour fraudulent. Venezuelans have been defending themselves in a long-term economic war waged by the U.S. and regional oligarchy to destabilize Venezuela and protect the historical privileges of the imperialist bourgeoisie and local ruling elite.

TeleSUR reports, "Amid news of political infighting, on [December 10] the MUD published on its website a list of laws its lawmakers plan to overturn once they come into office Jan. 5, including revoking price controls that have kept basic goods affordable; privatizing key enterprises and services; giving foreign companies concessions for infrastructure works; strengthening local police forces; and making public media "independent," or private."

Representatives of the oligarchy have declared that major priorities include "attracting foreign investment" from global monopolies and repealing the Fair Price Law, which worked to defend the Venezuelan people from the economic war of the U.S. and Venezuelan oligarchy by limiting profits and punishing hoarding and price gouging. A leaked phone call in October revealed that Venezuelan opposition figures are calling for the return of the International Monetary Fund to Venezuela and "economic restructuring."

(TeleSUR, Venezuelanalysis, Wikapedia. Photos: AVN.)

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Patriotic Forces Pledge to
Defend the Revolutionary Gains

People in Caracas participate in street assemblies to discuss how to
defend their revolutionary gains, December 9, 2015.

Following the victory of the reactionary opposition forces in the December 6 legislative election, the patriotic forces in Venezuela are soberly taking stock of their defeat -- the first since Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998 -- and organizing to see that the revolutionary gains are defended against the neo-liberal forces that are backed by U.S. imperialism. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), that joins the main right-wing parties in Venezuela, won the majority of seats in the National Assembly (109), against the 55 of the Great Patriotic Pole and the three Indigenous representatives.

President Maduro Calls for Debate and Action

Following the election, the Venezuelan president and chief representative of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Nicolás Maduro, called for debate and to rebuild the revolution's strength because "the Venezuelan right wing has just one program: to destroy the Bolivarian revolution." Maduro announced a week of discussion in order to come up with a united strategy for the revolution. "Unity should be the main aim," he said, adding, "Nobody should be confused by an adverse situation."

On December 7, President Maduro met with Bolivarian governors and ministers. In the evening, he spoke to the Venezuelan people via a televised address and called for a range of consultation methods to "strengthen" the Bolivarian movement. He said that discussion and reflection were necessary to come up with a plan of action among the social movements, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and other parties and organizations that back the Bolivarian revolution. "This oligarchy will never represent you," he told the people.

Thousands gather outside Miraflores Presidential Palace to listen to President Maduro
as part of a people’s street parliament,
December 9, 2015.

The President said that after an all-day meeting, reflecting on the results that saw the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition gain a significant majority in parliament, his cabinet had made a number of decisions and come up with a timeline of action.

"We won 43 per cent of the votes and the counterrevolution triumphed yesterday, for now," he said, using former President Hugo Chávez's famous phrase to qualify that the loss is only short-term.

"They have come for the neo-liberal restoration of the far right," he said, arguing that a defence of the revolution's gains was necessary.

Maduro said it is important to come up with a "central document for the Bolivarian revolution" and to create a separate commission for the National Assembly, which will work to defend the workers' rights law (the Organic Labour Law[1]), the social movements and other legislative gains.

On December 8, the President held a special meeting of all the organizations and parties that make up the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), the umbrella group of all those who support the revolution. The special meeting was part of a series convened by President Maduro to strengthen the unity of the movement and develop strategies to invigorate the Bolivarian Revolution after the parliamentary elections. The plenary gathered 842 PSUV delegates representing all territorial regions of the party, the national leadership, 43 militants from the Francisco de Miranda Front and socialist deputies from the current National Assembly.

The meeting looked at the report of the 2015 parliamentary elections, which set up 11 working groups "to discuss and analyze the political situation, the views and actions of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela facing the new horizon of the Bolivarian Revolution."

Maduro Announces Proposals to Renew the Revolution

Venezuelan President and chief representative of the PSUV Maduro, announced on December 10 the findings of his party's third Socialist Congress held on December 8 to protect the Bolivarian ideas and national sovereignty.

Among other things, the December 8 meeting resolved to do the following:

1. Hold a meeting with the Presidential Councils of Popular Power

Maduro announced a December 12 meeting to develop a methodological and strategic framework and map out strengths and weaknesses.

The presidential councils were created for the people to articulate public policies and projects, with the support of the national executive, and boost the transformation and defence of the country. Those councils were elected by the bases to represent Indigenous people, workers, youth, women, and other social sectors.

2. Set up the Economic Congress of Socialist Thought

"Economics is not a speech," said Maduro, "I felt alone in this battle against imperialism, in this economic war." He proposed to convene a triumvirate meeting on December 16 and establish the Economic Congress of Socialist Thought. The project will aim to address the crisis provoked by the economic war. Nine hundred delegates of the PSUV will evaluate the situation, make plans and create proposals, he said.

The Venezuelan president noted that in 2015, Venezuela suffered a 68 percent drop in oil revenues, despite no cuts in social investment. He added that the financial blockade, part of the economic war, made debt refinance especially difficult.

3. Invoke a Permanent Working Session for the Revolutionary Counteroffensive

The counteroffensive must go beyond politics and transcend the human, "popular, spiritual, territorial, economic, military," said Maduro. "A national revolutionary counteroffensive (must be) comprehensive because we are facing a counter-revolutionary crisis."

He commended the efforts of the PSUV in the legislative elections: "They battled like soldiers of Bolivar, you are heroes of the people," he said, emphasizing that, "the people are not demoralized or beaten."

4. Update the Government Efficiency in the Streets Program

Maduro said he requested support to begin a new model in January of government efficiency in the streets, to be deployed in the next four years. The program was launched to work on security and peace, revolutionary economics, social work, people's power, electricity access and efficiency in government institutions.

He suggested that each state's proposal must be concrete and establish new methodologies to boost economic and social sectors.

5. Renew Revolutionary Communication

"We have to renew our discourse, form, content and media," the president proposed. He urged members of the PSUV's Commission of Propaganda, Agitation and Communication to review the discursive strategies and practices currently implemented. He further proposed establishing communication channels in favor of the Bolivarian Revolution.

6. Reinvigorate Reform at All Levels

Maduro called to propel reconstruction of the majority through repolarization, repoliticization and reunification.

He also denounced the media onslaught launched by the national and international extreme right that has sought to undermine the revolutionary morale of the people. Their media, he said, works in the service of the imperialist and oligarchical elite.

Renewal of the PSUV

The leader called for an immediate renewal and strengthening of all national, regional and municipal management of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. In light of the declared restructuring, he called on the Great Patriotic Pole to help propose names for the renewal process of the Bolivarian Government.

Economic Coup Continues

The Venezuelan leader repeated that Venezuela is suffering from an international financial blockade that impedes both the progress of the country's economic system and the fight against the economic war waged by the Venezuelan right, backed by foreign powers.

"It's indirect blockade, an internal boycott of distribution, commercialization and pricing," he said.

He added that imperial powers "have decided to destroy the inclusive and egalitarian model of the Revolution. It's a class struggle between the parasitic bourgeois elite and the people."

Following the meeting with the organizations of the GPP on December 8, in his regular weekly address, Maduro announced an upcoming cabinet shuffle, indicating he had asked ministers to submit their resignations. He thanked the ministers for their contributions and pledged that the socialist movement will "continue in the battle with humility" with a focus on the people.

Revolutionary Optimism Prevails

Despite the blow of defeat, all those who have given their blood, sweat and tears to build the Bolivarian revolution refuse to indulge in feelings of self-pity, news agencies report. Instead, they humbly view the outcome of the election as an opportunity from which a lesson can be learned, the revolutionary movement reinvigorated and the necessity of the revolution reaffirmed through renewed mass work amongst the Venezuelan people, TeleSUR wrote.

Several such people spoke to TeleSUR after the election:

"Luciana Vazquez is the coordinator of the Barrio Tricolor mission in the Caracas district of Mamera. The program, first created by Hugo Chávez and relaunched under President Nicolás Maduro, aims to transform communities and use planning and infrastructure to bring dignity to neighbourhoods. The emphasis is on the community, and on power and decisions from the bottom up. Luciana told TeleSUR English that the loss of the National Assembly was an opportunity to deepen the revolutionary process in Venezuela.

"'The time has come to radicalize the revolution, to work to guarantee a new victory, in the legacy left by (former president) Hugo Chávez,' she said. 'No one said that the path of constructing, edifying and consolidating the revolution was easy, and less so if this happens ... under a bourgeois and capitalist system. We continue together with the dream of constructing a better socialist Venezuela. The new revolutionary offensive has begun.'

"She admitted the current situation was difficult. Although the opposition has at times claimed it wouldn't dismantle the social missions, she feels some of her resources could be in danger. But she said that the results showed that the social movements have a lot of room for improvement.

"'We would improve, looking at the weakness we had, to strengthen ourselves and continue organizing, training ourselves, participating. And of course planning to improve even more and to continue working on the complete transformation of the barrios,' she said, before quoting Chávez: 'The fight continues. The barrios cannot be destroyed, they have to be transformed.'

"Pacha Catalina Guzman, who works with Antimantuanos, an autonomous organization unifying communal councils with musical and sporting events, said that she was not expecting the opposition to gain so many seats in the National Assembly.

"'But we see it as an opportunity, not as a defeat. This is a historic moment to deepen our work with communities. We will work harder in communities,' she said.

"Pacha wanted to emphasize that a political loss was not a defeat for socialism in Venezuela. 'Yesterday the people voted. One political party won, one political party lost. But our purpose is still intact,' she said. 'The new situation obliges us to articulate what is people's power, and what we have achieved in the last 15 years.'

"With the whole world watching and waiting for some kind of fraud or outrage to be committed, Venezuelans voted peacefully and calmly, and Venezuela's electoral body said that there were no irregularities. Pacha said that even though the outcome had not been what they had been hoping for, the process changed international perception of the left in Venezuela.

"'For us, the election was an opportunity to show other countries that there is democracy in Venezuela. It was won by a sector that if they lose, there is violence. We lost, and we respect the result, and we are calm. I want to say that the elections were a demonstration of democracy. We respect the results, without resentment or violence. We continue building,' she concluded.

"Pierre Marais [...] works for the municipality with social missions on planning with communal councils. Pierre said that the 'surprise' result 'invites reflection and analysis.'

"'For me the most important thing to learn was that the same people who voted for Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro also voted for MUD, as a protest vote,' he said. 'We Chavistas, we are very sure of ourselves. Too confident. Maybe there was a lack of understanding, so the government needs to get closer to the neighbourhoods.'

"But aside from the initial shock, Pierre understood that now is a time for action. From tomorrow, he will be holding debates around neighbourhoods under the three pillars: revision, reformation, remotivation."

"'Now we have to deepen our confrontation of the economic war. We have to work harder, be more efficient. We have to work more with educating those who voted to punish the government, who may not know the consequences of their actions,' he said."

Elsewhere across Venezuela, elected neighbourhood councils and other grassroots organizations are convening themselves to take stock of the results and see how to proceed. In 2006, the Chávez government passed a law to empower local citizens to form these elected councils which exercise decision-making at the community level in favour of the people's interests. Local people's organizations such as these are a cornerstone of the Bolivarian revolution.

Reactionaries Announce Counter-Revolutionary Schemes

Jorge Rodriguez, head of the socialist party's campaign in Venezuela, praised the country's rich democratic tradition that saw the opposition win control of the National Assembly for the first time in over 15 years, but warned that supporters would not tolerate any attempts by the new assembly to roll back the gains achieved since 1998.

"The people showed that Venezuela is a country of peace, which has one of the strongest democracies in the world and rejects violence," said Rodriguez.

Representatives from MUD said they would use their majority in the assembly to repeal critical laws such as the Law of Fair Prices, which ensures important commodities are affordable for the entire population, and the Organic Labor Law.

"The annulment of the law would lead to the dismissal of workers. We will not allow that. Here we have a dignified people, a Chavista president and a revolutionary government that will protect the people," stated Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also called on the newly-elected assembly members to respect the constitution, approved under the late President Hugo Chávez by popular referendum in 1999 with over 70 per cent support. Henry Ramos, the general-secretary of one of the parties within the MUD, has already made comments attacking the constitution.

Officials from the MUD have also said they would attempt to remove President Maduro from his post. The Venezuelan constitution allows for the National Assembly to recall the president without a prior consultation via plebiscite if two-thirds of the assembly votes for it.

Amongst other nefarious plans, reactionary forces have also floated the idea of using their legislative majority to push through an "amnesty law" to release their counterparts who are imprisoned for serious crimes against the Venezuelan people.

Maduro said that he plans to veto any proposals for an amnesty law for those opposition forces spuriously refer to as political prisoners, such as jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, whose charges came down in September. Lopez is imprisoned over charges of public incitement of violence and association with crimes committed during opposition protests and violent street barricades, known as "Guarimbas," that killed over 40 people in 2014.

"I will not accept any amnesty law, because they violated human rights," Maduro said. "They can send me a thousand laws but the murderers have to be prosecuted and have to pay."


1. Organic laws are: 1) those enacted to organize public powers or develop constitutional rights, 2) those which serve as a normative framework for other laws, or 3) those identified as such by the constitution. With the exception of the last category, any bill for the enactment or amendment of an organic law must first be accepted by a two-thirds vote of the National Assembly, and will be sent, prior to promulgation, to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice for a ruling on the constitutionality of its organic status. ("An Introduction to Venezuelan Governmental Institutions and Primary Legal Sources, " Antonio Ramirez, May 2006)

(TeleSUR. Photos: TeleSUR,

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Spurious Impeachment Proceedings
Against President Rousseff

Brazil's social movements are mobilizing to defend democracy and
oppose a coup against President Dilma Rousseff.

Impeachment proceedings against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers' Party (PT) were officially initiated on December 3. The pretext for this move is the federal audit court's (TCU) October 7 ruling to reject the government's 2014 accounting. The ruling is non-binding and does not legally constitute a conviction of any wrongdoing. The accounting issue pertains to steps taken by the Rousseff government to maintain social programs for Brazil's poor, such as the Bolsa Familia, under the current economic difficulties affecting Brazil.

The move to impeach is an attempt to orchestrate a coup against President Rousseff and the PT. It is an act of sheer political opportunism by the opposition forces and the right-wing of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) which is part of the governing coalition with the PT. These forces have been pushing for impeachment for the past few months and have now made their move for reasons that have nothing to do with ensuring the well-being of the Brazilian people.

The Rousseff presidency has upheld the pro-social nation-building project established by the PT and the presidency of Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva (2003-2011) that opposes neo-liberalism and has worked diligently to improve the people's well-being, especially the poor. The Rousseff and Lula governments have been an important part of the bloc of progressive governments in the region that are working for integration based on cooperation and mutual benefit and that form a bulwark against U.S. imperialism and the treacherous and reactionary opposition forces aligned with it.

Several opposition motions to impeach had been tabled in the lower house where the Speaker is Eduardo Cunha of the PMDB. Cunha has been under investigation by a congressional ethics committee for corruption and money laundering after it was proven that he had secret Swiss bank accounts allegedly set up to receive bribes. "Several defendants in a massive investigation of bribes and kickbacks paid from overpriced contracts with state-run oil company Petrobras have said in plea bargain statements that Cunha received a $5 million bribe in connection to contracts for two drillships built for Petrobras," Reuters reported in September. A group of several parties have submitted a formal request to the committee that Cunha be removed from his post. After the PT indicated it would support Cunha's removal, the Speaker made his move against President Rousseff and the PT.

In response President Rousseff stated, "I have received with indignation the decision by the head of the lower chamber to [launch] the impeachment process," adding that, "There is no wrongful act committed by me, nor are there any suspicions that I have misused public money." The PT censured Cunha's decision, which it termed unfounded and announced the intention to seek an annulment of the impeachment process at the Supreme Federal Tribunal.

Rousseff also condemned the activities of the opposition parties to aggravate the economic situation and isolate the PT by passing bills to increase government costs so as to later make accusations of financial impropriety.

Former President da Silva denounced the activity of Cunha and the opposition parties as a coup attempt and called for the progressive forces to throw their support behind President Rousseff. He called Cunha's move an irresponsible act of revenge. Lula highlighted the PT's achievements in the last 12 years, including the creation of 10 million jobs, bringing more than 36 million people out of abject poverty, eliminating hunger, fighting corruption, developing the country and giving the people a sense of dignity and pride.

Several other political parties -- the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), the Democratic Labour Party (PDT) and the Sustainability Network (Rede) -- spoke out against the attempt to impeach as did Leader of the PDF Carlos Lupi. The PDF leader pointed out that someone being investigated for corruption and money laundering lacks the moral authority to remove from power a president elected by a popular vote.

One-third of those on the impeachment commission are under investigation for criminal activity, showing the unprincipled and self-serving nature of this nefarious activity.

The election of a 65-member impeachment commission began on December 8. Only 39 members had been selected when Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin suspended the work of the special committee that evening. This was in response to a request from the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), questioning the legality of the secret voting procedure adopted by Cunha in the Chamber of Deputies which the PCdoB alleges was used to stack the committee against President Rousseff.

Amongst other manoeuvring taking place, Rousseff's Vice-President Michael Temer has given strong indications he will not stand by the President. Meanwhile, Leonardo Picciani, who backs Rousseff and until December 9 was the leader of the PMDB in the lower house, was forced out and replaced by Leonardo Quintao, who is pro-impeachment. TeleSUR points out, "The PMDB, a big tent party composed of a wide-variety of ideological views, is split on the question of impeaching President Rousseff."

TeleSUR also explains that if the commission proceeds and recommends impeachment, the Chamber of Deputies will then vote on whether to begin formal impeachment, which requires two-thirds support or 342 votes out of 513 to go to the next stage. Should that threshold be met, Rousseff would be forced to temporarily step down while the Senate deliberates over impeachment. For the president to be permanently removed, the Senate would also need two-thirds of its members, in this case 54 votes, to vote for her removal. In the event that impeachment proceedings begin in the Senate, Rousseff would be replaced by Vice-President Temer.

Lack of Legal Basis for Impeachment

On December 7, President Rousseff met with a group of jurists who advised that the impeachment lacks a legal basis.

Professor Luiz Moreira Gomes Junior, former member of the National Public Prosecutor's Office and Professor of Constitutional Law stated that it "is very clear to the Brazilian legal community" that there is no constitutional basis for the request and that Cunha lacked credibility and suitability to permit the motion to impeach to proceed. Moreira characterized the situation as a "parliamentary coup."

According to the Brazilian lawyer and PhD in political science Rosa Cardoso, the impeachment process must be based on the commission of a crime, which is lacking in this case.

Professor Francisco Queiroz Cavalcanti of the Federal University of Pernambuco pointed out that the financial adjustments made by the government were warranted given the severe financial situation facing the country, and noted that the President did not appropriate for herself any funds.

Doctor of Law Marcelo Labanca further pointed out that the threshold for impeachment "requires fraud, a dishonest intention. There has not been found any act that would lead the president to lose her mandate. The law is being manipulated for political purposes," he said.

Broad Support from Social Movements and Unions

On December 8, social movements, rural groups, and political parties organized in the Popular Front called for united action to reject the impeachment process.

The Popular Front announced a national day of action for December 16 to mobilize social movements and to ensure that any vote for impeachment is defeated.

"If the conservative sectors want power, they must wait until the next elections in 2018 and ensure democratic consolidation, which is in danger with these blundering [impeachment] attempts," the Popular Front said in a statement.

On December 10, members of Brazil's labor union central the CUT rallied to oppose the impeachment proceedings and to discuss the country's ongoing economic and political tensions. During the event, officials called on all Brazilian lawmakers to overcome their political differences in order to revive the country's struggling economy.

"Brazil needs tranquility in order to resume economic development and we are laying out the path to recovery by discussing alternatives to overcome the crisis," said Vagner Freitas, President of CUT.

Within this situation, the PCdoB is playing an important role by organizing its forces to contribute to the mass work required to politically defeat the attempt to overthrow the Rousseff government and reverse its important gains. The PCdoB is adamant that the coup, which targets Brazil and its people, must be defeated, that there is no middle ground in this fight for democracy, and that the only way to overcome the economic crisis presently facing the country is to preserve institutional stability and democracy. The party also points out that the broad spectrum of those taking a stand to support democracy is growing quickly.

On December 4, the party convened a forum of its social movements at the headquarters of the Central Committee in São Paulo.

President of PCdoB Luciana Santos opened the meeting saying that the times demand a spirit that is characteristic of communists to take the debate to the streets.

"Our main weapon is our conviction," said Santos. "We need more than ever to exercise it. Talk and compare the PSDB [Brazilian Social Democracy Party] government with the transformation that Brazil has undergone with the progressive process of the coalition led by Lula and Dilma," she urged.

The national secretary of the PCdoB social movements André Tokarski proposed that the party leaders and members be guided by a work plan that would include the holding of plenaries in 100 Brazilian cities.

"From these strategic locations, the movement can be activated in smaller towns and incorporate other sectors such as intellectuals and social movements to enlighten and mobilize the people," explained Tokarski. He also proposed that the party's publications be used as important instruments to provide clarification and material support in the work to oppose the attempt at impeachment.

PCdoB's national secretary for international affairs José Reinaldo Carvalho stated that the great battles to come will require raising the political, ideological and organizational level of the party and renovating the fronts of the social movements.

"A victory of the right would be devastating. So we need to loudly sound the democratic and patriotic alarm. It is illusory to think that this ruling class will reverse this situation through democratic means," said Reinaldo.

PCdoB activists together with other progressive forces work out a plan to defeat the coup,
Hortaleza, Ceara state, December 7, 2015.

Jamil Murad, president of PCdoB municipal committee of Sao Paulo, said it is necessary to make the connection between the effects of impeachment and damage to the people's interests. "We will not get out of this situation if the workers are not incorporated into this process," he said.

Maria Jose Lia, who represents the National Confederation of Community Associations (Conam), stressed the need to clarify the situation for the people and mobilize them against the impeachment. Popular material for the general public would be of great assistance in the work, she added.

Guilherme Boulos, National Coordinator of the Homeless Labour Movement (MTST), said the worsening political situation of the country requires breaking the "media monopoly in Brazil that misinforms more than it informs."

Carina Vitral, president of the National Union of Students (UNE), stated that the unity of the social movements will be fundamental to the street demonstrations. "While we are on the streets, the progressive forces will be trying to stop the impeachment in the national congress," she said.

Jamil Murad expressed enthusiasm about the unity between the popular movements and unions in the struggle for democracy and against the coup. According to Murad, this movement can set a new direction for Brazil.

(Vermelho, TeleSUR, Prensa Latina, Reuters. Photos: PT, PCdoB.)

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Guantanamo Seminar for the Abolition of
Foreign Military Bases

Two hundred delegates from 30 countries gathered in Guantanamo, Cuba's easternmost province, from November 23 to 25 for the IV Seminar on the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases. The seminar was organized by MovPaz, the Cuban section of the World Peace Council.

Delegates gave their firm support to Cuba's demand for the return of the U.S.-occupied territory that covers roughly 120 square kms in Guantanamo province and the closure of the U.S. naval base and prison and torture centre on this Cuban territory. The naval base at Guantanamo, first established in 1898, is the oldest U.S. overseas base. Along with ending the economic, financial and commercial blockade of the country and other unjust U.S. policies, the return of Cuban territory in Guantanamo is one of the country's fundamental demands for proceeding with the normalization of relations with the U.S.

Emphasis at the seminar was also given to the status of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace as declared at the 2014 Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Havana. In defiance of the declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean, the U.S. continues to operate at least 70 military bases in the region, including in Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guyana, Grenada, Guadalupe, Guyana, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Puerto Rico. France and Britain have their own bases in the region, while Canadian forces are present in Jamaica and Haiti, along with other countries, and have a permanent naval presence under the U.S. Southern Command. U.S. army, navy and air force troops are also stationed in Canada.

Opening session of Seminar, featuring Dr. Nancy Acosta Hernández, President of Provincial Assembly of People's Power in Guantanamo

On the opening day, delegates were greeted by Dr. Nancy Acosta Hernández, President of the Provincial Assembly of People's Power in Guantanamo who explained the history of the province and some of the effects of the U.S. occupation. Among other things, the 120 square kms occupied by the U.S. has been hit with the pollution left by the U.S. war machine and for more than a century the local population has had no access to the bay itself, its beaches and surrounding territory. This has limited the growth of the population and economy of Guantanamo, which nonetheless has one of the youngest populations in Cuba and has made great strides in public health and education.

Billboard: In Guantanamo, Yes We Can!

Guantanamo Bay is one of the largest in the hemisphere, and the second largest in Cuba after Nipe Bay in the north of the island. Dr. Mario Montero of the University of Guantanamo explained to the seminar participants that the U.S. occupation has led to significant negative ecological change. For instance, the long-term maintenance of a huge fleet of ships, planes and other vehicles of war generates enormous waste, including oils, solvents and expended materials that pollute the waters. Dr. Montero identified negative impacts on soil, plant and animal communities, geology, hydrology and the atmosphere, landscape alterations, the depletion of fisheries, loss of culture and Indigenous settlements for study.

The message of Dr. Acosta Hernández, Dr. Montero and other representatives of the province to delegates was: Guantanamo is Not a Base! They deplored the fact that the name of their province and its capital city has become synonymous with the U.S. "war on terror" and torture. A cultural gala, called My Guantanamo Is Not a Naval Base, was held the evening of November 23, showcasing the rich and varied culture of the province and its capital, including the influence of the Haitian origin of much of its population. The event was opened by Fernando González, Vice-President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship of the Peoples (ICAP).

Cultural Gala: My Guantanamo Is Not a Naval Base!

Also taking part in the seminar was Comrade José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, head of the International Relations Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and a member of its Secretariat. Comrade Balaguer Cabrera reiterated that territory occupied by the U.S. "must be returned to Cuba because it is an affront to the sovereignty of its people. It constitutes one of the most important impediments for the normalization of relations between Cuba and its neighbour to the north," Balaguer said. Because of this, in Cuba Guantanamo province is known as the first trench in the struggle against imperialism.

Balaguer pointed out that the seminar and visit to Guantanamo were taking place in the context of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. "[The resumption of diplomatic relations] has as its basis the indomitable firmness that for the last 50 years our people have maintained in the face of all governments in Washington and their attempts to defeat the triumphant process that started in 1959 and to return the country to the heinous situation before that date," said Balaguer. "They didn't actually do it and have been forced to acknowledge their failure. Today a new strategy begins, intended for the same goals; to reverse the political, economic and social order which the Cuban people, without any external mandate, chose for themselves. And they will not succeed in that attempt," he said.

Members of the U.S. delegation.

Among the other speakers at the seminar were María Do Socorro Gómez, President of the World Peace Council and former member of the Brazilian parliament; Edgar Ponce, Ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador in Cuba; and Palmiro León Soria Saucedo, Ambassador of the Plurinational Republic of Bolivia in Cuba. There were speakers from the U.S. opposing the U.S. government's refusal to recognize Cuba's sovereignty and right to self-determination. Others, from Japan, Mexico and elsewhere spoke on the U.S. military presence and dirty wars the people are subjected to.

Visit to Caimanera

Delegations arrive in Caimanera.

On November 25, delegates visited Caimanera municipality which stands adjacent to the Cuban territory occupied by the U.S. The people of Caimanera are direct witnesses of the U.S. occupation on a daily basis, as it overlooks the occupation border at its northern point in the middle of the bay and a number of U.S. installations.

The people of Caimanera met delegates as they arrived with militant greetings and thanks for standing with Cuba in affirming that the return of Guantanamo is a matter of international significance. The people of Caimanera showed how they are militantly resisting the occupation today by building a bright future for themselves and defending the gains of the revolution. Today, Caimanera provides more than 70 per cent of Cuba's salt production. With a population of 11,091, Caimanera has a polyclinic with 13 specialists, 12 family doctors and five pharmacies; education from the daycare to university level; one hundred per cent electrification; eighty per cent paved streets; fourteen buses; seven cultural facilities; and two sports facilities and 25 other areas of play. Caimanera is 87 per cent self-sufficient in vegetable production but is limited in agricultural growth due to soil salination. Elected representatives and Party leaders in Caimanera explained that one of the most important recent accomplishments in the municipality has been a zero infant mortality rate for four years and a life expectancy of 78 years.

View of Cuban territory cccupied by U.S. naval base.

Delegates visited a vantage point from which a number of U.S. sites could be seen across a range of hills. The same view can be found atop a number of apartments and other buildings in the municipality. It provided a stark example for all those gathered of the reality and scale of the U.S. occupation and the need to step up the work for the removal of the U.S. imperialist military from all countries. Delegates were then invited to gather at a square in Caimanera where they were greeted by a representative of the local mid-level students' federation who affirmed that her home is not a military base and presented the demands of the people for the U.S. to leave.

Gathering and celebration in Caimanera.

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Coming Events -- Lift the Blockade on Cuba!
Return Guantanamo!

Pickets are taking place in several cities on December 17 following the Guantanamo seminar in Cuba, attended by delegates of thirty countries, demanding the return of U.S.-occupied territory to Cuba. Actions are calling for an end to the illegal U.S. blockade against Cuba, a return of occupied territory in Guantanamo and the abolition of unjust U.S. laws targeting Cuba. They take place on the one-year anniversary of the beginning of "normalization" of relations between Cuba and the U.S.

Thursday, December 17
5:00 - 5:30 pm

In front of St. James United Church, 463 St Catherine St West
(near St. Alexandre St.)

6:00 - 6:00 pm
In front of the U.S. Consulate, St. Alexandre St. & René-Lévesque
Organized by: Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba


Click image for poster

Thursday, December 17 -- 4:00 pm
U.S. Embassy, 490 Sussex Drive
Organized by: Ottawa-Cuba Connections


Click image for poster

Thursday, December 17 -- 4:00 pm
U.S. Consulate, 1075 W. Pender St.
Organized by: Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade

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