September 17, 2016 - No. 36

What to Expect as Parliament Opens

Government Gears Up for "Relentless Implementation" of Anti-Social Offensive

Liberal Government's Phony Consultations
Self-Serving Neo-Liberal Definition of Middle Class
- K.C. Adams -
Canada's International Agenda

Matters of Concern at the United Nations
71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Defence Ministers' Meeting on Reform of UN Peacekeeping

End the U.S. Blockade of Cuba
Cuba Prepares for 25th Annual UN Condemnation of Blockade
U.S. Prevents Spanish Bank from Offering Services to Cuba

What to Expect as Parliament Opens

Government Gears Up for "Relentless
Implementation" of Anti-Social Offensive

The first session of the 42nd Parliament resumes Monday, September 19 at 11:00 am after a two-and-a-half-month hiatus. What is the Trudeau government's agenda for the coming period?

The answer lies in the agenda adopted at the retreat held by the ruling Liberal Party in Sudbury, Ontario from August 21 to 22. The Liberal Party of Canada adopted a program of "relentless implementation" of the anti-social agenda they have been putting in place since the 2015 federal election which gave them a majority government. When everything is said and done, the aim is to continue the trend of concentrating economic and political power in fewer and fewer hands.

At the retreat, the Liberals announced that they will now begin making "hard choices" that will "not please everyone." Media speculated that it is the end of "the honeymoon" and that the Liberals will now do all the unpopular things to get them out of the way well before the next election. Trudeau told media at a press conference following the retreat, "There are going to be difficult decisions and challenges ahead of us on everything from natural resources to investments to trade deals."

Already in July the Trudeau government issued permits to advance construction of the massively-opposed Site C dam pay-the-rich scheme on the Peace River in British Columbia. The government is set to decide on approval for the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas project in BC by October 2 and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline by December.

Already in early September, a "report" indicated that Trudeau plans to approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. The report was released in the underhanded manner established under the Harper government of giving exclusive stories to the news agency of U.S. financial services monopoly Bloomberg. Bloomberg News, citing "people familiar with his plans," said that Trudeau "plans to neither approve all the projects under consideration nor reject them all."

The buzz phrases of "hard choices" and "difficult decisions" are repeated by government and media in a manner which seems designed to imbue the people with the idea that there is no alternative, they are not in control, and the resultant feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and humiliation. The idea that the interests of the people can be "balanced" with the interests of the rich is prevalent even as people plainly see the rich getting away with reneging on their responsibilities. The people are supposed to accept an agenda that goes against their interests because some aspects will allegedly favour them.

The "hard choices" never include choices that challenge monopoly right. The bottom line is that decisions about matters of concern to Canadians, especially the economy, the environment and questions related to war and peace are to be left in the hands of the rich. On this basis, Canadians are supposed to give up their political movement in defence of rights and hope that within the "hard choices" they will be favoured in some instances. The problem for the Trudeau government and the private interests it represents is that Canadians, Quebeckers and Indigenous peoples continue to affirm their rights in the face of all attempts to get them to submit.

Like the two previous Liberal Cabinet retreats, in January and April, this one was addressed by Michael Barber, the founder of so-called Deliverology. This neo-liberal method has been adopted by the Trudeau government to activate the anti-human factor/anti-social consciousness and deliver what the monopolies demand at the fastest possible speed. Barber has advised the Trudeau government on restructuring the public service to impose the anti-social offensive more effectively. He also spoke of the government being "bound to make hard choices" and noted, "In year two you really need a focus on relentless implementation, on taking some difficult decisions where you can't please all of the people all the time...."

In this regard Trudeau and other ministers hold meetings every two weeks with Matthew Mendelsohn, former head of the Mowat Centre and now Deputy Secretary for "Results and Delivery" in the Privy Council.[1] In May, Trudeau revealed the "results" delivered by the Liberals so far, saying "How we actually figure out whether what we're doing is having a positive impact on the lives of Canadians isn't something that governments have spent a tremendous amount of time worrying about in the past."

In this way, the Liberal government is preparing to step up its negation of rights. The government has identified its "big three relationships" to focus on in the coming period as federal-provincial relations, relations with Indigenous peoples and relations with the U.S., all of which herald serious abuse of power which Canadians need to address. It is a program which clearly continues nation-wrecking and undermining the well-being of the people.

This issue of TML Weekly is providing information on what to expect from the Trudeau Liberal government in the coming months. All fronts are accompanied by unprecedented levels of disinformation over what the ruling elite are up to, the new arrangements they are putting in place and whose interests these arrangements serve.


1. The Mowat Centre is a neo-liberal think tank that specializes in "evidence-based applied public policy research."

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Liberal Government's Phony Consultations

The Liberal government has been conducting phony consultations on a myriad of fronts which it is using to unite the ruling class behind one program said to represent Canadian values and Canada's national interest. Meanwhile, based on silly results like tweets and emailed responses to questionnaires which it interprets as "input by Canadians," the government fraudulently claims popular support for its programs. It is reported that these consultations will come to an end before the new year. After this, the government says it will determine how to use the results. It is clear Canadians will be faced with a barrage of phony "hard choices" that are fraudulently claimed to have come from the people themselves.

Consultations on the nation-wrecking Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union have yet to be given an official end date. However, the government has already made plain its intention to adopt them. It has begun to issue reports promoting the economic benefits of the TPP and declaring that anyone who opposes "globalization" is for protectionism, implying that they represent retrogressive views that promote xenophobia and other bad things. This is to cover up that globalization as such is a fact of life and that what people oppose is the neo-liberal agenda of the international financial oligarchy and its corollaries -- state terrorism and imperialist war.

The Canada Post Review will conclude on December 31, but the report issued by the government-appointed Task Force in early September calls for further dismantling of the public post office and attacks the rights of postal workers. The government and its Task Force have set the parameters of the review as choices between various kinds of privatization and attacks on workers. Proposals brought forward by postal workers or Canadians based on strengthening the public post office have not been deemed worthy of consideration by the government. The September 22 issue of the publication of the Workers' Centre of CPC(M-L), Workers' Forum, deals with this review and other assaults on unions, workers' rights and underhanded changes to labour law.

The Consultation on National Security will end on December 1. The government stated when it launched the process that it will then "begin the process of crafting new legislation, policy options and/or programs," including on information-sharing between security agencies, collection of Canadians' personal data and "counter-radicalization." As part of the consultation, the government has issued a Green Paper called National Security: Our Security, Our Rights, a backgrounder document, and the 2016 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada: Building a Safe and Resilient Canada. The documents divert discussion on security and rights into a discussion on "violent extremists," which is then used to justify all the exceptional measures outside of the rule of law that the government says it needs to combat them. By enacting legislation to make impunity legal, the fraud is perpetrated that we have a government of laws. In fact, unfettered police powers are all that remain of the former public authority.

A Defence Policy Review consultation ended on July 31 and the Department of National Defence informs that it is "compiling and reviewing the information received" for "the development of Canada's new defence policy to be launched in early 2017." A serious concern of Canadians is how the Defence Policy Review reintroduced the idea of Canada joining the U.S. missile defence program and other warmongering measures already rejected by the people.

Perfunctory consultations on electoral reform finish on October 7, followed by a final report to Parliament on December 1. The next issue of TML Weekly will address that agenda.

As concerns the major focus for the fall -- what Trudeau's communications director Kate Purchase called "the big three relationships" -- they too are being used to railroad anti-social arrangements. These are the relationship with provincial and territorial governments; with Indigenous peoples; and with the U.S. Besides other things, the government hopes to squeeze new life out of Canada's outdated constitutional framework. To identify these relationships as the "big three" is no consolation, given the experience of autoworkers with the defunct arrangements in the automobile industry.

Federal-Provincial Relations

Current federal-provincial relations are enshrined in the British North America Act, 1867. Despite adjustments made since then, they addressed the requirement of a world which has long since passed away. Today sharp inter-monopoly contradictions exist over powersharing under the dictate of making the biggest monopolies number one on the world market. A problem of federal-provincial powersharing arises as a result of the need to have one authority not several to negotiate the sellout of Canada. The Liberals blame Harper's confrontational attitude for the problems related to federal-provincial powersharing while they claim their cooperative approach will yield better results and they are themselves working hard to complete anti-people arrangements with the "cooperation" of the provinces. They are now involved in preparing a number of new federal-provincial agreements to be finalized in the coming months. What all these contradictions in fact show is the need to completely renovate the Constitution on a new historical basis where it is the working class which constitutes the nation, not the bourgeoisie. Only in this way will the interests of the people, not exclusively those of the rich, be served.

These new federal-provincial agreements being negotiated include:

- An agreement on internal trade. A "Canadian Free Trade Agreement" was signed in July by Premiers at the meeting of the Council of the Federation in Whitehorse, but its contents have not been made public.

- A new Canada Health Accord. The current Accord expires April 1, 2017, and Minister of Health Jane Philpott says the federal government is opposed to increasing health care transfer payments to provinces and instead favours "targeted spending" on areas such as privatized home care;

- A national climate change strategy in the form of an agreement with the provinces to implement the joint agreements already announced between the U.S. and Canada. This will be the subject of a meeting with premiers in late October.

- Legislation to put in place changes to the Canada Pension Plan to reflect a tentative agreement reached between the federal government and most provincial governments in early September.

Relations with Indigenous Peoples

To divert from the fact that the Liberals' program has nothing to do with ending the colonial relations imposed on Indigenous peoples, media reported that Trudeau in particular is trying to "dampen expectations" in regards to "building nation-to-nation relationships."

On the relationship with Indigenous peoples most significant for the Trudeau government is to implement what it calls a "new fiscal relationship." Trudeau said the "new relationship" will provide "funding that is sufficient, predictable and sustained." Funding for what and decided and directed by whom is of course not discussed. What is known is that the "new fiscal relationship" is part of the government's efforts to obtain "social licence" from Indigenous nations for resource extraction and other projects on Indigenous territory. This involves the program of "modern-day treaties" -- a buzz phrase which refers to arrangements which negate hereditary rights.

The Trudeau government has announced that it will not introduce laws to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould stated in July. Ratifying the document in Canadian law is "simplistic," "unworkable," and "a political distraction," she said. Instead Wilson-Raybould said the UNDRIP would be implemented via "agreements between the federal government and Indigenous organizations." This illustrates how the government is introducing new ways of negating hereditary rights by sleight of hand outside the rule of law.

Far from the "new fiscal relationship" reversing decades of underfunding of badly-needed social programs for Indigenous peoples, it has become a serious attack against them.

During the 2015 federal election the Liberals promised to "immediately" lift a two per cent cap on annual growth of investments in social programs and services for Indigenous peoples. This cap was set under the Chrétien Liberals in 1995. The result was that services declined year by year based on population growth, inflation and other factors.

The government claimed that the cap was lifted with its 2016-2017 federal budget. Now, however, documents obtained by the Canadian Press in June show base funding for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada for that fiscal year has remained within the two per cent growth limit. An internal memo stated that overall annual programs for Indigenous peoples grew by three per cent.

On July 12, the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Perry Belgarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. The government again stated its intention to provide "sufficient, predictable and sustained funding." The press release from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada stated that the government "is committed to lifting the two per cent funding cap for First Nations programs."

On September 15, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued a notice that the Trudeau government has failed to comply with its January 26 order finding that Canada racially discriminates against over 163,000 First Nations children by providing flawed and inequitable child welfare services and failing to properly implement "Jordan's Principle." The Tribunal ordered the federal government to immediately cease its discriminatory conduct. It had already issued an order in April noting that action had yet to be taken to comply.

Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society said of the government's refusal to follow a legal order: "It is saying, really, in its actions that the government of Canada is above the law and sadly, that First Nations children are below the law."

Relationship with the U.S.

Evidence of the nature of the Trudeau government's "relationship" with the U.S. is its legislative priorities. The last three bills tabled in the House of Commons immediately before the summer recess concerned Canada's further integration into the U.S. national security regime. These and other bills to come will be a major feature of the fall session of Parliament.

Two of the bills continue the process of establishing a "North American Security Perimeter" started by Prime Minister Harper and U.S. President Obama through increasing the permanent presence of U.S. security agencies on Canadian soil. Bill C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States (Preclearance Act) and Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act, are the result of decisions made during Prime Minister Trudeau's visit to Washington, DC on March 10.

The other piece of legislation significant for Canada-U.S. relations is Bill C-22, An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts.

A main concern of the Liberals' national security review and the committee is information sharing within the U.S.-led Five Eyes global spy network, as well as the ability to decrypt and collect Canadians' personal information, sidestep privacy issues and trample on rights. It is another indication that key to "the Canada-U.S. relationship" as seen by the Trudeau Liberals is the further integration of Canadian security agencies into the U.S. striving for world domination. All of it represents stepped up state terrorism.

All of this was expressed as major concerns of Canadians during the fight waged by broad sections of the people in 2015 against Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. A serious issue was the difference between "review" and "oversight." It was pointed out, for instance, that Canada has "review" bodies for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment and other security agencies that examine some of these agencies' activities after the fact, but no "oversight" bodies that monitor their activities and ensure they operate according to their mandate and the law.

During Bill C-51's passage through the House of Commons and in the Liberals' electoral platform, the Liberals called for the establishment of a "national security oversight committee" established by Parliament. Testimony of security experts was cited to proclaim that "oversight" could deal with the violation of rights in Bill C-51.

Now the concept of oversight has been stricken entirely from the mandate of the government's proposed committee. Instead the committee is to "review [...] the legislative, regulatory, policy, administrative and financial framework for national security and intelligence," the activities of intelligence agencies, and any matter referred to the committee by a minister. Canadians will not know what the committee does as all of its members are sworn to secrecy. The mandate of the committee is further reduced in the government's Green Paper on National Security to "examin[ing] how national security institutions are working."

As well, the Liberals will soon announce that Canadian soldiers will participate in training and counter-insurgency missions in at least one country in Africa. It is done under the high ideal of "peace operations." This is part of the role Canada has staked out for itself in the U.S. imperialist reorientation of UN peacekeeping and the new scramble for Africa.

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Self-Serving Neo-Liberal Definition of Middle Class

Irrationality in the service of class privilege, monopoly right and the status quo

The Liberal government uses the term middle class incessantly. Trudeau and his ministers present themselves as leaders of and for a middle class, which they consider exists as a definable social entity according to annual earnings. During the federal election, Trudeau defined the middle class as a family of three with a combined annual taxable income of between $44,701 and $89,401. This flies in the face of social science, which classifies social classes according to their objective position within the economy and their relations with other classes. It also clearly puts himself and all his cronies above the people they claim to represent.

The main social class in Canada and largest by far is the working class. Members of the working class must sell their capacity to work to acquire their living. Those who own and control the socialized means of production, the bourgeoisie, buy workers' capacity to work and own and control the social wealth they produce returning only a portion to the working class as reproduced-value in wages, benefits, pensions and various other social programs and public services.

While Trudeau seems to believe his own self-serving propaganda and thinks he has the support of all working Canadians, working Canadians do not see themselves as middle class wannabes. On the contrary, they increasingly consider themselves to be working people, as those who comprise the working class.

The working class and those who own and control the socialized forces of production enter into a social relation called capital to produce all the value that the people and society depend on for their existence. Class struggle between these two social classes is constant over their claims on the value workers produce, the direction of the economy, and the necessity to resolve the contradiction within the social relation capital to move society forward to the emancipation of the working class and the elimination of social classes.

From the Liberal government's self-serving neo-liberal definition, it would appear that its policies and actions are all meant to benefit its defined middle class, including foreign relations and pushing free trade. But everyone can see that what is called the middle class is being pushed further and further down the ladder of economic and social well-being. The working class concludes that Trudeau is using the term middle class as a subterfuge to camouflage its policies and actions that serve the ruling elite in power, those who own and control the socialized forces of production and who dominate the working class within the social relation capital. All of it is done to smash the resistance of the people in defence of their rights.

The logic of the Liberals is deplorable. It is akin to the logic of owners of slaves in the United States who insisted that they provided good food, decent housing, recreation and medical treatment for their slaves, giving them a standard of living above many in the working class at the time. They would complain that their beneficial treatment of their slaves, which after all are their property, comes at some sacrifice for their families, as the value the slaves produce is directed more at their well-being than into the owners' pockets. This patronizing attitude prevailed in the U.S. prior to the Civil War. At no time however did the owners' belief change the objective social class position of the chattel slaves and their captive social relation with their owners. The enslaving social relation had to be burst asunder before the chattel slave economy and society could move forward in a new direction.

Examples abound of the Trudeau government's deceptive use of the term middle class such as the following from the Prime Minister's Office regarding his recent visit to China: "Renewing Canada's relationship with China will help to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class.... Both countries could harness the untapped potential and benefits that closer relations could provide [for] growing the middle class."

Trudeau said of his visit, "I believe my official visit to China has placed the Canada-China relationship on a renewed and stable track that will foster greater economic and social benefits for both our peoples, especially the middle class."

Trudeau's Minister of Finance Bill Morneau said recently at the Toronto Global Forum: "Rising tides of disenchantment around the world point to the fact that for too long, the middle class has not felt as though it's getting ahead....We [Liberal government] are now widely recognized as a model for the world, and are at the forefront of global efforts toward making the economy work better for middle class families."

The Liberal-defined middle class is comprised of about 20 per cent of those declaring an income, according to Statistics Canada, only a fraction of all Canadians. Trudeau skirts this issue of appearing to favour only one group of Canadians by insisting his government is bent on "growing" his defined middle class. The Liberal government through its statements wants those below the $45,000 annual income level to increase their incomes and rise to his defined middle class, while those currently above the income level are privileged and should help "grow the middle class."

For many Canadians this constant targeting of a middle class strikes them as irrational and a disconnect from solving real problems. For example, U.S. Steel seized control of Stelco in 2007 and promised to grow employment and production, which would have strengthened the position of both current and retired Stelco steelworkers within Trudeau's defined middle class. The opposite occurred, which has been well documented. The Trudeau government has done nothing to reverse U.S. Steel's destruction of jobs and production nor has it stepped in to halt the continued attacks on the over 20,000 pensioners who have had their pension benefits directly reduced with the removal of indexation and their post-employment benefits eliminated under the fraud of bankruptcy protection. The Trudeau government has refused to intervene to stop U.S. Steel's abandonment of its social obligations towards the existing pension funds, and its state-organized plan to abscond with $2.2 billion upon the sale and liquidation of the company within the legal framework of the federal Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). These actions will plunge retired steelworkers and salaried employees further below Trudeau's defined middle class but he is doing nothing concrete to stop the bleeding.

It is similarly targeting the organized workers in both the federal public sector and the private sector, lowering their standard of living drastically while claiming it is good for the economy.

The working class is rightly concerned that this noise about the middle class is merely propaganda which turns relations of production and the economy generally into an irrational mental construct that can be manipulated by the rich and powerful. Workers' problems and those in the economy and within relations of production generally should be viewed and dealt with objectively as they present themselves and not obscured in self-serving propaganda.

Workers sell their capacity to work to those who own and control the material forces of production within a social relation called capital. These two social classes are the main and most important social forces in Canada. They are in constant class struggle within the social relation capital and throughout the society over control and direction of the political, economic, social and cultural affairs of the country. The amount workers receive in return for the sale of their capacity to work does not change their objective social position as members of the working class in direct class contradiction with those who own and control the socialized forces of production. Workers in Canada, even those in Trudeau's middle class mental construct, do not have control over their workplaces or any of the major affairs that directly affect their lives. Even the price workers receive for their capacity to work or the guarantees they receive for a claim on value until they pass away is not secure, as the example of Stelco workers and many others, including the more than one million unemployed, reveals.

Workers' existence within Trudeau's defined middle class of 20 per cent of Canadians with an income is far from assured. The reason for this stems not from their current wage or pension or prospects for a raise but from the insecurity underlying their social class position as workers who sell their capacity to work to those who own and control the forces of production, both private and public, within the social relation capital. Workers' social class position within the political power structure means they exercise no control over an economy that suffers recurring crises and intractable contradictions that the ruling elite refuse to address because it would undermine their power and class privilege.

This position is made many times worse as a result of the aim governments have given to the country -- to pay the biggest monopolies to make them competitive on global markets.

The Trudeau government's self-serving neo-liberal definition of the middle class is a fanciful concoction that does not exist as a social force but merely as a propaganda tool designed to win over their agents in the workers' movement whose rate of pay in fact puts them above the so-called middle class. Economic problems need real solutions not whimsical ones that exist as sound bites in a public relations campaign. The economy exists objectively and it needs a new pro-social direction. Its problems must be solved with objectivity of consideration.

The working class is the only social force with the numbers and the position within the economy to solve its problems and those the country is mired in. It must set a new direction for the economy despite opposition from those who are determined to defend their class privilege and monopoly right.

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Canada's International Agenda

Prime Minister Trudeau will be in New York City as part of the Canadian delegation to the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly from September 19 to 20. Before the opening of the UN General Assembly, Trudeau held meetings in Montreal with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and musician Bono.

Since the Liberals' return to power, the government has put its full weight behind portraying Trudeau as a "significant player" on the world stage who should be included in international bodies where the big powers make decisions about matters affecting all humanity. Trudeau is supposed to embody the "progressive credentials" and "values" to which U.S. President Obama referred when he said, "The world needs more Canada" in his speech to the Canadian Parliament on June 29.

"Peace operations" are one such area where Canada is supposedly "well-placed" to contribute. The Trudeau government found out the worth of its "progressive credentials" in late August when, according to media reports, it had to announce specific troop commitments and funding in order to secure a place alongside more than 50 other countries at a defence ministers' summit on peacekeeping hosted by the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom in London.

Carrying on the legacy of the Obama regime, the Trudeau government uses so-called progressive credentials to advance an agenda for war. This is why Trudeau's dual mission at the UN General Assembly, according to media reports, is to present himself "as a significant progressive leader on the world stage" and to "make the case that the Security Council needs Canada's perspective around the table."

Under the Trudeau Liberals there is not one single example of "Canada's perspective" being different from the line set by U.S. imperialism on important questions of war and peace. What is called "Canada's perspective" does not distinguish itself in any meaningful sense and is not the perspective of Canadians. Thus, should Canada's bid for a rotating seat on the UN Security Council succeed, it would mean one more vote for the U.S. imperialist striving for world domination on the Security Council, a body which has been unable to secure the peace worldwide and is tainted by the domination of the big powers in the first place. The post-war arrangements on which the Security Council was based are in tatters.

To cover up these facts, the Prime Minister's Office issued a statement announcing Trudeau's participation in the UN General Assembly which said the government "is committed to redefining its place in the world and promoting core Canadian values like diversity and inclusion, gender equality, and respect for peace worldwide."

The Prime Minister's Office also announced that Trudeau "will take part in the Refugee and Migration Summit, hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as co-host U.S. President Barack Obama's Leaders' Summit on Refugees." On this front as well, the more than 30,000 Syrian refugees who have arrived in Canada since November 2015 are cynically used as examples of Canada's "leadership" and need to have a "seat at the table."

What is Canada's responsibility towards those refugees? Media reports have said they are in large part reliant on food banks that already could not meet people's needs. Furthermore, the limited government support some refugees receive will expire very soon. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum claimed that food bank usage amongst Syrian refugees is due to a "cultural element" and not based on the difficult conditions they face, high food prices and lack of support or job opportunities. The government justifies its lack of support for refugees by stressing that they receive less than Canadian citizens requiring social assistance. This is therefore "fair" and as it should be.

What does it mean that Trudeau is being groomed to take up the so-called legacy of Obama? Obama's method was to tell people in the U.S. and around the world that he was for rights, for peace and against war and injustice and these values would then be the values of the institutions he represented. Ten years later drone assassinations are routine, training terrorists to accomplish foreign policy goals is routine and the war crimes of the U.S. imperialists are increasing. More regime change and destabilization operations have been carried out or are underway; and more migrants and refugees are thrown to the winds all over the world, not to speak of the fact that more people have been deported from the U.S. than under any previous president.

Canadians should reject the claim that receiving "the torch" from Obama is a good thing. Immediately after Obama said "the world needs more Canada" he added, "NATO needs more Canada." Ten days later the Trudeau government announced hundreds of troops will be sent to the Baltics as part of the U.S. and NATO's occupation of these countries and the encirclement of Russia. It must not pass!

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71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Matters of Concern at the UN

The United Nations 71st General Assembly opened in New York City on September 13, 2016. The opening of a new session of the UN General Assembly each September is one of the major international events.

The greatest concerns of the world's peoples at this time include the ongoing destabilization of sovereign states in North Africa and West Asia by NATO-sponsored death squads and "moderate rebels" and the dangers of world war posed by the U.S. imperialist encirclement of Russia and "pivot to Asia." Nowhere are the devastating effects of these destabilization efforts more brutally felt than in the ongoing sponsorship of state terrorism by the Anglo-American imperialists and former colonial powers and the resultant refugee crisis. The UN Refugee Agency counts nearly 21.3 million refugees in the world today, more than half of whom are under the age of 18.

In this regard, an ongoing problem facing the UN is the manipulation of its own institutions and other international fora by the U.S.-led imperialist system of states and the big powers which block the principled and peaceful resolution of many international issues. Given the major issues of war and peace and other important developments in the world today, it is certain that these contradictions will be as sharp as ever as the UN opens its new session.

As well, the deeply-felt desire of the peoples for peace and social progress is reflected in the ongoing peace processes in Colombia and the Philippines. The world's peoples also take the opportunity of the UN General Assembly session to reaffirm their support for the heroic Palestinian people who are steeling their resistance in the face of the ever more severe repressions and land theft of the Zionist occupation. Cuba continues to resist the criminal U.S. blockade which the international community continues to condemn while the UN is also used by the U.S. to violate the deep desire of the Korean people for national reunification and a permanent peace treaty. A major concern as well is the ongoing campaign to elect a war president in the U.S. to "make America great again" and save the U.S. from crisis on the backs of the world's peoples.

Outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (whose term ends on December 31) said at a September 14 press conference that the global challenges pertaining to refugees and migrants, climate change, and the war in Syria are the topics that will likely figure prominently at the opening week of the General Assembly, the UN News Centre reports.

Ban said that the international community must "come together in a spirit of shared responsibility for the world's refugees and migrants. More countries must resettle more people who have been forced from their homes. More countries must recognize the benefits of migration. And everyone, everywhere, must stand up against the animosity that so many refugees, migrants and minority communities face."

He also said he is pushing for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change before the end of this year. "Now we need just 28 more countries, representing 16 per cent of global emissions, to cross the necessary threshold," he said, drawing attention to the September 21 special event at which countries can deposit their ratification instruments with the Secretary-General.

Ban said that "while many conflicts are causing enormous pain, none is causing so much death, destruction and widespread instability as the worsening war in Syria."

Theme of 71st Session -- "The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World"

John Thomson of Fiji, president of the 71st UN General Assembly, gave the opening remarks in which he highlighted this year's theme, "The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World."

"The 70th Session launched the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals], and for integrity's sake the 71st must be the year we witness the wheels turning on the implementation of all 17 [Sustainable Development Goals]," said Thomson.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were set by the General Assembly during its 70th session. The UN News Centre explains:

"On 1 January 2016, the 17 [Sustainable Development Goals] of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development -- adopted by world leaders in September last year -- officially came into force. Over the next fifteen years, with the aim of achieving the [Sustainable Development Goals], countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind."

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are as follows:

1. No Poverty: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

2. Zero Hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

3. Good Health and Well-Being: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

4. Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

5. Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

6. Clean Water and Sanitation: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

7. Affordable and Clean Energy: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

10. Reduced Inequalities: Reduce inequality within and among countries.

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

12. Responsible Consumption and Production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

13. Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

14. Life Below Water: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

15. Life on Land: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

17. Partnerships for the Goals: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Summit for Refugees and Migrants, September 19

The General Assembly will host "a high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants, with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach," states the summit website.

"This is the first time the General Assembly has called for a summit at the Heads of State and Government level on large movements of refugees and migrants and it is a historic opportunity to come up with a blueprint for a better international response. It is a watershed moment to strengthen governance of international migration and a unique opportunity for creating a more responsible, predictable system for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants. [...]

"The Summit will be attended by heads of state and government, Ministers, and leaders from the UN System, civil society, private sector, international organizations, academia, and beyond in alignment with the General Assembly resolution establishing the summit's modalities. [...]

"Also on the margins of the General Assembly, on September 20, 2016, the United States' President Obama is hosting the Leaders' Summit on Refugees, alongside co-hosts Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico and Sweden, which will appeal to governments to pledge significant new commitments on refugees. While the Leaders' Summit will focus on refugees, not migrants, the General Assembly High-Level Summit will address large movements of both. The two events will complement one another."

The situation facing humanity in the wake of the regime change, fomenting of civil war and other foreign interference in North Africa and West Asia remains extremely dire. In its September 13 update on migrant arrivals in the Mediterranean alone, the International Organization for Migration reports that "294,450 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through September 12, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy [... F]or the region as a whole, through 2015's first eight months (January 1-August 31) a total of 354,618 arrivals were recorded crossing the Mediterranean, or some 60,000 more than 2016's total thus far. [...]

"Nonetheless, while total arrival numbers are down, fatalities among Mediterranean migrants and refugees now stand through this past weekend at 3,207 -- exceeding by 456 the total recorded during the same period last year. According to [the International Organization for Migration]'s Missing Migrants Project, Mediterranean fatalities for last year stood at 2,751 through September 12, 2015."

General Debate, September 20

A highlight of the opening of a new session of the General Assembly is the General Debate, where each member country of the UN in a speech to the plenary, raises its concerns and preoccupations. It is an important forum where the smaller countries, especially those countries which are taking an independent path in defiance of U.S. imperialism and big power dictate, can raise important matters of principle and concern to their own people and the peoples of the world.

This year, the General Debate begins September 20, the day after the Summit for Refugees and Migrants. Many heads of state of the 193 UN member countries will attend to deliver their country's speech.

(With files from UN News Centre, IOM)

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Defence Ministers' Meeting on Reform
of UN Peacekeeping

On September 7-8 a United Nations Peacekeeping meeting, attended by Ministers of Defence from 64 UN member states, was held in London, England. The event was hosted by the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence. The conference was a follow-up to the 2015 "Leaders' Summit on Peacekeeping" organized by United States President Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the margins of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York. [1]

At that time UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. President Barack Obama joined 50 heads of state and government representatives to announce stepped-up troop and equipment commitments to UN "peace operations." They pledged more than 40,000 troops and police, as well as what are called "critical enablers," including more than 40 helicopters, 22 engineering companies, 11 naval and riverine units, and 13 field hospitals. However, despite the troop commitments there was no unanimity on how to reform peacekeeping, especially with respect to the demands of the U.S. imperialists to have peacekeeping become a means to carry out regime change and wars of aggression under a UN flag. This conflict remains at the heart of ongoing attempts at peacekeeping reform.

The Communique issued after the London Ministerial addressed the issues discussed and pledges made and said, in part, under the heading 'Planning': "We call upon the Secretary-General to ensure that mission planning and assessment fully integrates the military, police and civilian parts of the mission, and takes into account other partners including the host government and regional actors, to accomplish the mandated tasks, and that mission planning and assessment considers from the outset how missions will complement the work of existing UN staff in-country."

The notion that host governments of peacekeeping operations are "partners," is not the same as the main parties to a conflict having to consent to a peacekeeping mission, one of the stated principles of UN peacekeeping. It reveals attempts to sidestep the fundamental issue of the right of nations to self-determination and the UN Charter's opposition to interference in the internal affairs of member states.

Speaking at the London Ministerial, UN Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare stated: "International and regional peacekeeping operations that are UN-led or supported must be able to act rapidly, effectively, efficiently and responsibly." He said the UN needs better intelligence capacity to protect civilians and its own personnel, adding that the first-ever policy on intelligence in UN peacekeeping will be presented to all Member States later this year. He also underlined the importance of "partnerships" and "collective responsibility," referring to new and innovative "partnerships." He cited the rotation system for C-130 transport aircraft used to transport troops and military equipment into Mali established by a group of five European countries: Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and Norway. "The rotation system will deliver a predictable supply of this asset for years to come," he added, while also noting that the possibility of creating the same type of shared arrangement for helicopters was to be discussed on the sidelines of the gathering in London.

The attempts through such Ministerials and Summits organized outside of the UN and with various coalitions represents an ongoing effort by various big powers to reform the UN in a manner that undermines the UN Charter and its founding principles. The U.S. imperialists headed by War President Barack Obama have taken the lead to try and make reform serve their aims. Obama in particular is seeking to pass the torch of UN peacekeeping reform towards what they call "peace operations" to the Trudeau government to try and gain legitimacy for the imperialists' pro-war reforms. The Harper government sent a very low-level delegation to the 2015 UN General Assembly and did not participate in Obama's Leaders' Summit on Peacekeeping; however under the Trudeau government Canada is positioning itself to take a leadership role in this reform.

Canada Implementing Imperialist Marching Orders

Canada's Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan participated in the London Ministerial at which he re-announced Canada's intention to establish a standing force of at least 600 troops plus 150 police officers to be deployed for future UN peace operations and upped the ante adding Canada's intention to host a United Nations conference on peacekeeping in 2017. It is reported that Canada's announcement of the troops and police it was prepared to commit was specifically made in order to gain a seat at the Ministerial, since it had not been invited to attend prior to the announcement.

"Canada is committed to leading international efforts in peace support operations. That's why we're here today, pledging our support and reaffirming our commitment to the United Nations. We want to ensure the dialogue continues next year, so we have committed to host the next UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in 2017," Sajjan said.

Setting the tone for Canada's aims, Sajjan reiterated the Liberals' talking points about conflicts being more complex so as to try and fool the gullible into accepting military intervention, counterinsurgency and regime change as an "innovative response" to "a new reality internationally." "Conflicts today are more complex than ever before and we're serious about being part of the solution -- that's the reason we're bringing our resources and skills to the table. I'm confident that our unique whole-of-government approach will make tangible contributions to peace support operations around the world," he said. "Canada remains committed to building a more peaceful and prosperous world. Its increased support to UN peace operations is centred on a whole-of-government approach, combining diplomacy, deployment, training, and capacity-building -- and includes conflict prevention, mediation, peace operations, and peacebuilding efforts," he added.


1. See "Revamping Peacekeeping to Meet War Aims: U.S. Calls Summit to Discuss UN Peacekeeping ," TML Weekly, November 21, 2015 - No. 36.

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End the U.S. Blockade of Cuba

Cuba Prepares for 25th Annual UN
Condemnation of Blockade

All Out to End the Blockade of Cuba Now!
Return Guantanamo to Cuba!

Ottawa monthly picket to end the blockade against Cuba, August 2016.


Cuba is once again preparing for the annual vote at the UN on the resolution entitled, "Need to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba." This year's vote takes place on October 27. It is the 25th consecutive year such a resolution has been considered by the UN General Assembly. The 2015 vote was 191 to two (the U.S. and Israel), meaning the U.S. is totally isolated on this question and the only matter left is for the U.S. to end the blockade now.

On September 9, at a press conference with national and foreign news media gathered at Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla presented the annual report that accompanies the resolution. The report provides the detailed accounting of cumulative damage caused by the unjust and illegal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. for more than half a century.

Rodríguez Parrilla began by saying, "The economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba persists. The blockade endangers the Cuban people. There's no Cuban family that doesn't suffer the effects of the blockade.... The blockade is the principle cause of our economic problems, the principal obstacle to our development."

Rodríguez recalled the remarks of U.S. President Barack Obama on December 17, 2014 who acknowledged the failure of the traditional U.S. policy towards Cuba and who promised to undertake a debate in Congress in order to lift the blockade. He also noted that Obama has undertaken several executive measures that have mitigated some aspects of the blockade in a limited way.

Nonetheless, while the U.S. claims to champion human rights, Rodríguez pointed out the refusal of the U.S. president to acknowledge the illegality of the blockade and how it violates Cubans' human rights:

"President Obama said the blockade wasn't working ... and they had to lift it; he said it hadn't worked [to achieve] the historical objectives of the United States ... He didn't say it was illegal, a violation of international law ... a violation of Cubans' human rights; he didn't say it's immoral and violates all ethics, nor did he say that it's cruel and endangers human beings."

Cuba's June 2016 report on Resolution 70/5 of the United Nations General Assembly entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade
imposed by the United States
of America against Cuba."

One way in which the criminality of the U.S. hostile policy can be quantified is the estimate of the human and economic damage caused by the blockade. Rodríguez explained:

"Between April 2015 and March 2016, the direct economic damages caused by the blockade went up another $4.68 billion.... Damages accumulated over almost six decades have reached at least $753.67 billion, expressed as the monetary value of gold.

"The damages include income that our people never saw, that our country never saw through goods and services never exported ... particularly from the bio-pharmacology industry." There are "losses through geographical disruption of our commerce -- long distances, the need for large inventories, the unpredictability of when goods arrive, and extra freight, insurance, and distribution costs.

"... A third direct effect of the blockade is monetary and financial. Confronted with the ban on using the dollar in international transactions, Cuba has to use other currencies. All these operations are costly; for example, they depend a lot on relative value of the currencies ... Last year the dollar appreciated in value, increasing its value over the year relative to other currencies by an average of 3.58 percent."

Rodríguez denounced "the U.S. prohibition on Cuban banks opening accounts in U.S. Banks" and the "intimidating effect of $14 billion in fines -- a world record -- during the Obama presidency, basically against European and Asian Banks [handling dollars in Cuba's transactions with the outside world]."

"... There's no sector in Cuba that doesn't suffer consequences from the blockade: in the service economy -- health care and education; in the economy in general, and in people's lives -- feeding themselves, prices, salaries, social security."

Rodríguez also pointed out "the impossibility of gaining access both to products, technologies, and equipment with U.S. patents and access to indispensable, high-technology surgical devices ... There's still a ban on acquiring products or medicines directed at assuring improved treatments and above all assuring fewer adverse effects of treatments."

The foreign minister remarked that "the extraterritorial application of the blockade persists, in violation of the sovereignty of other nations, of all nations on the planet." He surveyed U.S. laws on the blockade. For example, the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act ... now is applied only to Cuba...." Despite Obama's claim that he wants to do what he can to end the blockade, on September 13, he issued a memorandum extending the Trading with the Enemy Act for another year, until September 14, 2017.

Regarding the continuing U.S. aim to overthrow the Cuban Revolution and all its mechanisms that empower the people, Rodríguez underscored that "to change Cuba is the business of Cubans. But also we have accepted that challenge [of changing things] because it fits with the interests of our people, of our development."

He called on everyone to judge the situation based on the facts.

As part of the leadup to the October 27 vote at the UN, a worldwide campaign is underway with the theme Tenemos Memoria. Solidaridad contra el Bloqueo y el Terrorismo (We Remember: Solidarity against the Blockade and Terrorism). The events began on September 4 and run through to October 27 with a range of activities planned to recall the various attacks on the Cuban Revolution and their thousands of victims, and to demand an immediate end to the blockade. Such worldwide actions play an important part in achieving justice, as was the case in winning the freedom of the five Cuban heroes imprisoned in the U.S. To that end, TML Weekly calls on everyone to go all out to participate and step up the work to end the U.S. blockade against Cuba immediately.

Click to enlarge.

(With files from Prensa Latina, CounterPunch, Granma)

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U.S. Prevents Spanish Bank from Offering
Services to Cuba

The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. on Cuba over 54 years ago is preventing the Spanish Santander Bank from offering services to Cuban consular offices in Spain today.

A press release from Havana's embassy in Madrid reveals Washington's system of sanctions is preventing the Santander Bank from installing outlets at the Cuban General Consulates in Barcelona, Sevilla and Santiago de Compostela.

"It is disappointing that three Cuban consulates have been banned from receiving services from a Spanish entity that would improve services for their users," said the Cuban ambassador to Spain, Eugenio Martinez.

The diplomat attributed those restrictions to "obscure and unjustified unilateral decisions of the U.S. that affect negatively Cubans and third countries."

How is it that two months after President Barack Obama's visit to Havana last March, a subsidiary of the Santander Bank in Catalonia tells the Cuban consul in Barcelona that they could not install an outlet to facilitate the payment of consular tariffs with magnetized cards? asked Martinez.

The release says the explanation given then by Spain's largest financial entity was that they could not render that service because of an agreement signed with Elavon, the U.S. company that handles the credit and debit cards of the U.S. Bancorp Bank.

A subsidiary of the Santander Bank in Seville, Andalusia region, on June 1 canceled a contract signed May 12 with the Cuban Consulate in that city to have an outlet because Elavon said U.S. restrictions on the island prevented it from doing so, said the note.

Also in May, the Santander Galicia's subsidiary informed the Cuban Consulate in Santiago de Compostela that it could not approve setting up the device for the payment of services in that consular office.

They said "what it meant is they would stumble again on the international regulation of [the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control] which impedes contracting products to Cuban entities, despite the fact that for more than a decade the Cuban consulate in Galicia has been a client of the Santander Bank," the communique informs.

For Ambassador Martinez, the prohibitions are inexplicable as in March, the departments of the Treasury and Commerce of the United States announced they would allow the Banks to process operations of the Cuban government.

The diplomat denounced the fact that those three consulates in Spain have become victim to "the extraterritorial application of the greatest system of coercive financial measures standing," alluding to the blockade of the U.S. government against his country.

It is an evident obstacle to the normal functioning of those offices which prevents the ordinary consular functions and represents harmful limitations for Cubans resident in Spain, for Spaniards and others who request services from Cuban offices,' he said. 

(Prensa Latina)

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