November 25, 2017 - No. 38
Anti-Democratic Electoral Reforms
Endorses Police Plans to
Limit Freedom of Expression
and Criminalize Political Dissent
Round 5 of NAFTA Negotiations
• Violations of National Sovereignty Continue
• Get Canada Out of NAFTA! For Us
Accountability Begins at Home!
- Enver Villamizar -
Canadian Mining Monopolies to Account for Suppression of Mexican
• Changes to Labour Law and Minimum
Wage in Mexico
Crisis of Trudeau
Government's Indigenous Policy Deepens
• Families of Missing and Murdered
Indigenous Women and
Girls Refuse to be Sidelined
- Philip Fernandez -
Make Canada a Zone for
• No to Meddling in the Affairs of Other
Countries in the
Name of Peacekeeping!
- Hilary LeBlanc -
• Imperialists' Morbid Preoccupation with
Defeat on Display
at Halifax War Conference
Trudeau Liberals' Anti-Democratic
Government Endorses Police Plans to Limit Freedom of
Expression and Criminalize Political Dissent
On November 14, Minister of Democratic Institutions
Gould issued the government's Official Response to a senate
committee report entitled Controlling Foreign Influence in
Canadian Elections. The report of the Senate Standing Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs particularly targets third parties as
agents of foreign electoral influence, and calls for heightened
regulation of them. A "third party" is defined in the Canada
Act as "a person
or a group, other than a candidate, registered party or electoral
district association of a registered party."
Minister Gould expressed general support for the
recommendations and said that she looks forward to working with the
Senate committee on electoral legislation that the Liberals are
expected to table before the end of the year. This indicates
that the Liberal electoral legislation will be one step
further along the dangerous course of putting police powers in place to
intimidate, suppress and criminalize the expression and formation
of public political opinion.
The report of the Senate Standing Committee shows how
electoral reforms are being
enacted on the instructions of the intelligence agencies,
whose main aim is to disinform Canadians by diverting attention
from the sell-out and warmongering direction in which the country
has embarked by blaming the Russians and other "foreign
interference" for all the problems. The concern about "foreign
interference" in the electoral process casts profoundly anti-democratic
doubts and suspicion
on people who do not share what the ruling elite consider "Canadian
values," such as support for NATO and acceptance of
capitalist liberal democracy. Registered political parties that stand
against these values will be suspect, while it will be
nigh impossible for "third parties," which include unions and
non-governmental organizations fighting for a safe natural and
social environment and economic and social justice, to express
their opinions during an election without facing accusations that they
are serving a foreign agenda. In the name of opposing
"foreign interference" in the democratic process, foreign
intelligence agencies and police powers are dictating what can
and cannot be discussed in Canada.
The Senate report references a January 6, 2017 report
from the U.S. Director of
National Intelligence, jointly drafted by the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA-FBI-NSA
report, entitled Assessing Russian
Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections, states: "We
assess Moscow will apply the
lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the U.S.
presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide,
including against U.S. allies and their election processes."
The U.S. spy agencies say the aim of the alleged Russian
interference is "to influence U.S. public opinion [...] to advance its
longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic
order." The Russian campaign is described as a blend of "covert
intelligence operations -- such as cyber activity -- with overt
efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media,
third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or 'trolls'."
One of the key operators identified by the FBI, CIA and
in the "overt campaign" is Russia Today (RT) America programming. The
examples given of what constitutes "Russian" propaganda include
- programs that highlight "criticism of alleged U.S.
shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties."
- programs portraying "the U.S. electoral process as
undemocratic [and reporting on] calls by U.S. protesters for the
public to rise up and 'take the government back.'"
- from November 2012, "numerous reports on alleged
election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities contending that U.S.
election results cannot be trusted and do not reflect the
- programs that "broadcast, hosted, and advertised
party candidate debates [parties
other than the
Democrats and Republicans -- TML
Ed. Note] and ran reporting supportive of the
political agenda of these candidates."
- assertions that "the U.S. two-party system does not
the views of at least one-third of the population and is a 'sham.'"
- 2012 documentaries about Occupy Wall Street that
the movement as a fight against 'the ruling class' and described 'the
current U.S. political system as corrupt and dominated by
- reports that "characterize the United States as a
'surveillance state' and allege widespread infringements of civil
liberties, police brutality, and drone use."
- reports that focus "on criticism of the U.S. economic
system, U.S. currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the U.S.
- programs that report on "anti-fracking ...
environmental issues and the impact on public health."
- programs opposing "Western intervention in the Syrian
conflict and blaming the West for waging 'information wars'
against the Syrian Government."
Recommendations of Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs to Control Third Party Spending
The Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
recommends that the Liberal Government should review and revise
the Canada Elections Act
particularly in regards to fund-raising
by third parties and their communications on the internet and
in social media.
Currently, the activities of third parties are only
regulated if they spend money on election advertising during the
official election campaign in an amount exceeding $500. Once they
exceed $500, they must register with Elections Canada. The maximum
third party can spend in any riding is $4,225 for a 37-day campaign,
while the national limit is $211,200 (2017 figures). Third parties must
disclose contributions they receive during the six-month period prior
to the election that paid for the advertising expenses they incur.
These contributions are not subject to the same limits imposed on
political parties and candidates. For example, a third
party can receive funds from a corporation, while a candidate or a
political party cannot. There is a prohibition against collusion
between third parties and political parties or candidates to circumvent
election expense limits, as well as collusion among third
parties for the same purpose. Activities other than election
advertising and related costs of production and distribution are not
covered by the law.
The Senators are proposing
that the six-month period be
extended, without proposing exactly for how long third parties
would have to report their contributions. This would leave the
door open to violating the right to freedom of association, which
necessarily includes freedom to raise funds for purposes approved
by governing bodies without state scrutiny.
Furthermore, the Senators are suggesting that election
spending limits should include not only election advertising, but
other activities as well. For example, at this time, if a third
party organizes a political rally, even if it specifically
opposes a political party, it is not considered "election
advertising" and is not captured by the law. The Senators
expressed concern about this, as well as activities such as conducting
The Senate is also proposing that the Canada Elections Act be
reviewed to "modernize the regulation of third parties'
involvement in elections to address present day realities,
particularly concerning election advertising made through
internet-based communications and social media." Already,
paid advertising through any medium, including websites and social
media, is subject to regulation. What additionally the Senators are
suggesting should be the target of the electoral law is thus far not
The regulation of third party spending first emerged
following the introduction of spending limits on political
parties and candidates in 1974. This marked the first step in
officially entrenching the privileged status of political parties
within the electoral process and subjecting electoral political
discourse to the law, in the name of protecting "free and fair
elections." Since spending limits were set for political parties and
candidates, it was argued that collusion to circumvent the limits
should also be prohibited.
Organizations and individuals other than
candidates and political parties were prohibited from conducting
any election advertising, but a "good faith" provision was
included under the Elections Act
to protect political expression. The Elections
Act could be used against
only if there was evidence of collusion with a political party to
circumvent election spending limits.
The "good faith" provision exempted activities aimed at "gaining
support for views held ... on an issue of public policy, or for
the purpose of advancing the aims of any organization or
association, other than a political party or an organization or
association of a partisan political character."
The first case of an organization being charged under
"third party" provisions occurred over 40 years ago and the
approach of the courts to the charge reveals a drastic difference
between the prevailing official view at that time
and that today. During a by-election in Ottawa-Carleton,
Daniel Roach, then-president of Local 767, Ontario Housing
Corporation Employees' Union, an affiliate of the Canadian Union
of Public Employees, rented a plane to tow a banner reading:
"OHC Employees 767 CUPE Vote, but not Liberal." The banner
flew on October 16, 1976, the same day that the CUPE local
adopted a policy opposing the Liberal government's
"Anti-Inflation Program," known as "Wage and Price Controls." This
program was opposed by workers from coast to coast who held
rallies, protests and marches against it. CPC(M-L) at that time
raised the call to stop shifting the burden of the crisis onto
the backs of the working class and people and Make the Rich
The Returning Officer for Ottawa-Carlton saw the banner
overhead and called in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
to charge Roach with violating the two-year-old "third party"
provision in the Canada Elections Act.
judge dismissed the appeal and upheld the lower court's
The courts acknowledged that the banner directly
the Liberal Party. However, the judge argued that the banner was
flown with the aim of publicizing the local's policy against wage
and price controls and there was no evidence that the union was
acting either directly or indirectly in collusion with another
The court concluded: "The accused in this case was
expressing the views of his association on an issue of public
policy. [The law] must be interpreted having regard to the right
to free public discussion, and if Parliament had intended to
prohibit the act alleged against the accused the language used
should have been much clearer."
To bolster its argument, the court referred to earlier
judgments dealing with freedom of expression and political
discourse. The ruling stated: "There can be no controversy that
such institutions [government] derive their efficacy from the
free public discussion of affairs, from criticism and answer and
counter-criticism, from attack upon policy and administration and
defence and counter-attack; from the freest and fullest analysis
and examination from every point of view of political proposals.
[...] Even within its legal limits, it is liable to abuse and
grave abuse, and such abuse is constantly exemplified before our
eyes; but it is axiomatic that the practice of this right of free
public discussion of public affairs, notwithstanding its
incidental mischiefs, is the breath of life for parliamentary
Thus, even before the Charter
adopted in 1982, the fundamental right to freedom of speech was
recognized as inherent to the right of the people to elect a
government. Writing in 1957, Justice Abbott of the Supreme Court
described "the right of candidates for Parliament or for a
Legislature, and of citizens generally, to explain, criticize,
debate and discuss in the freest possible manner such matters as
qualification, the policies, and the political, economic and
social principles advocated by such candidates or by the
political parties or groups of which they may be members" as a
right necessarily flowing from and implicit in the very existence
of a parliament that is supposed to represent the people.
In 1983, the Liberal government of the day removed the
"good faith" provision for third parties. A series of Charter
Challenges ensued, resulting in the current regulation. The irony of
regulations on third parties
court challenges is that the courts have used the "reasonable
limits" provisions of the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms to
justify and approve limitations on freedom of speech during
elections. Even more ironically, they have argued that limits on
what third parties can spend should necessarily be restricted,
with reasonable limits, in order to prevent elections being
overwhelmed by the wealthy. All the while, the cartel party
system has adopted legislation turning the political parties of
the rich into heavily-subsidized appendages of the state in
receipt of tens of millions of dollars to dominate electoral
In the name of controlling how money is spent during
elections, we have now come to a point where freedom of speech is
severely curtailed through myriad regulations and controls
precisely during the period that is said to be the most crucial
period in the existing democratic process -- elections. The
legislation to be released by the Liberals will present further
restraints that capture political
activities outside of the "official" electoral campaign
There Is an Alternative
the arguments is that the party-dominated system of
representative democracy has arrived at a road-block where it can only
go in one of two directions.
regulate, monitor, intimidate and police
the political activities of the people to preserve the power and
privilege of the political elite who represent the economically
powerful. This course is pushing the Liberal establishment, with the
support of the Conservatives and NDP, to take perilous shelter under
police powers that curtail freedom of speech and criminalize political
opinion. The mechanisms of electoral regulation that previously
promised "free and fair" elections are as exhausted as the system
the striving of the people for empowerment is
pushing, is to eliminate all forms of privilege and power that are used
to keep the people marginalized. It entails the introduction of
mechanisms that will enable all citizens to participate in setting the
agenda, selecting candidates and exercising control over the elected.
This would entail ending the public funding of political parties and
instead publicly financing an electoral process with a public authority
that ensures all can participate as equals regardless of their
membership in a political party, their wealth or social status. It
requires fighting for the human right to engage in political discourse
in order to humanize the natural and social environment. It is a matter
of affirming the right to freedom of expression on a new historical
basis -- the basis which affirms this not as a civil right which has
already been taken away but as a human right without which neither
human beings nor their society can flourish.
Round 5 of NAFTA Negotiations
Violations of National Sovereignty Continue
Official NAFTA negotiations continued with Round 5 in
November 17 to 21. Contention and collusion between and
amongst the monopolies and their spokespersons was once again on public
the end of the round with the negotiators presenting a
show of "pessimism" about reaching a deal. This pessimism hides the
reality that Mexico, Canada and the United States continue to
work out how to eliminate any and all barriers to the monopolies
in the areas where agreement has been reached, while making a big show
about areas of disagreement to give the appearance that each country's
delegation is standing up for their own national interest as well as
for the public interests and workers' rights. In fact, each government
and their negotiators are
standing up for private interests which are seeking to make as
much headway as possible at the expense of one another while
violations of national sovereignty continue.
Reports quote Canada's
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland
saying much of the "good progress" achieved (in Round 5) was in
areas "highly technical" in nature and are where integration is taking
place. She says the three parties --
Canada, the U.S. and Mexico -- agreed to provisions on
anti-corruption and good regulatory practices,
telecommunications, areas relating to sanitation, and customs and
trade facilitation. These are areas where not only the
economies of the three countries but also the decision-making
processes, are being integrated into a new United States of North
American Monopolies. This is a Fortress North America at the
disposal of the U.S. imperialist superpower, which considers itself
"indispensable." The bitter
irony is that far from upholding any national interest,
decision-making takes place on a supra-national basis and thus, ipso
facto, eliminates any sovereign right of the
countries involved to exercise control over any decisions which
affect them. Everything is done to make sure there is no national
sovereign body to pass or maintain regulations identified as
"barriers to trade." Nothing must interfere with the "right" of
the monopolies to regulate themselves and pursue their aim to
Reports that the U.S. wants to expand an existing
"tracing list" to demand more products -- including all steel --
originate in North America, show how it seeks to dominate all strategic
sectors of the economy and also how much trouble this causes. The
article "NAFTA Rules of Origin"
by Lawrence Friedman, describes the tracing list in the automotive
sector in the following way:
For example, electric motors
are traced material.
Thus, if a
car seat manufacturer uses a non-originating motor in the
production of a car seat it sells to a passenger vehicle
manufacturer, the VNM [value of non-originating materials] of the
vehicle must include the value of the non-originating motor. The
corollary to this is that if the non-originating materials are
not on the tracing list, they are treated as originating. This
produces a benefit for some parts of the industry. Tracing,
therefore, places a difficult burden on producers to collect cost
data from suppliers.
Upon hearing this demand to expand the tracing list,
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, made up of auto monopolies
operating globally, including GM and Ford, warned that such
requirements are too onerous. CBC reports the Alliance
saying, "An expanded tracing list would actually lead to further
job losses as companies could simply move manufacturing offshore
to China, use whatever parts they want, and then export the car
back to the U.S. paying a relatively marginal tariff of just 2.5
For their part, the global steel monopolies with mills
North America have expressed concern about competing with Chinese
steel. They suggest that an expanded tracing list would be a boon
for their businesses. Hidden in the claims to trace and ensure
the purchase of North American steel is the fact that the global
steel monopolies with mills in the U.S. continue to dump steel
made in the U.S. in Canada. Dumping steel made in the U.S. in
Canada has in fact increased with the destruction of Canadian
integrated steel production such as at Stelco in Hamilton. A
similar situation is unfolding against Algoma Steel in Sault Ste.
All of it shows that the suggestion that disagreements
manifestations of the delegations of the three countries
defending their sovereign interests is a cover-up for the wheeling
and dealing going on to further the private interests involved.
It does not serve the interests of the working class and people
of any of the three countries to take sides. They must fight to turn
the direction of the economy
around and on this basis defend the rights of all.
Get Canada Out of NAFTA!
For Us Accountability Begins at
Demonstration in Mexico City, August 16, 2017, denounces NAFTA talks
and demands a completely different approach based on mutual benefit.
A peculiar position is being pushed in the NAFTA
negotiations that the role of the working people of Canada and
the U.S. is to rally behind their own ruling class and the
monopolies they represent supposedly to raise working standards
in Mexico. This line that the
workers of Canada and the U.S. have a responsibility to look
out for Mexican workers is based on the notion that they are
incapable of settling scores with their own ruling class and
require the intervention of the governments of Canada and the
United States to make sure their government looks out for
NAFTA is presented as guilty of failing to raise the
standards of Mexicans -- something it was supposedly designed to do
but which remains an unfulfilled promise. This particular
nonsense about NAFTA is not discussed or exposed as a lie. In
fact NAFTA always was and is about enshrining the rights of
the monopolies by violating the rights of workers and
destroying national sovereignty. The basic aim of NAFTA has
indeed been fulfilled. However, the success of fulfilling its real aim
is being used to claim that while the concocted aim of raising Mexican
working standards has gone unfulfilled, somehow today an
"opportunity" exists to do so and to "make NAFTA more fair."
The alleged way to make NAFTA more fair is for the
people of Canada and certain unions to join with the
Trudeau/Trump agenda to push the Mexican government to implement
the new arrangements in labour relations passed in
February as constitutional amendments, and to raise wages. This
imperialist farce is
occurring amidst the growing discontent and resistance of the Mexican
workers to widespread violations of their rights by
some of the very same monopolies that now claim they too support
labour reforms in Mexico, including a higher minimum wage.
The Mexican working people are not pathetic victims.
a contingent of the international working class that has fought
tooth and nail the brutal violence of the global
monopolies and their own government. Whether it was the
garment monopolies, which used Mexico
and its maquiladoras (sweat shops) as a means to make
super profits from brutal working conditions and pay-the-rich
schemes of corrupt governments, or today the voracious
Canadian mining monopolies and their murderous security forces
and those of the state, the Mexican working people are second to
none in affirming their rights -- a tradition those who come to Canada
as migrant workers bring with them.
Working people in Mexico are in fact at this very
moment intervening in Mexico's presidential election to be
held in July 2018. It is part of their fight to block the
continuing neo-liberal project for Mexico and break the
stranglehold that NAFTA has given the monopolies over the
country's affairs. If a new Mexican government comes to power that
seeks to abrogate NAFTA and restrict the appetite
of the monopolies for profit, blood and sweat, will these same
champions of Mexican workers cheer or will they claim that this
is not good for the Mexican workers and demand regime change?
Accountability Begins at Home
Canadians can make a contribution to the fight of the
affirming their own rights and holding to account their own
governments and monopolies for their violations of rights at home
and abroad. They can do so by demanding Canada get out of NAFTA
and enter into relations with the U.S., Mexico and other
countries based on mutual benefit and development of the peoples
and economies of each country.
Canadians are not served by being diverted from
the concrete conditions and problems facing Canada. Targeting
Mexico and its problems serves to divide the working people by
presenting the problem as "out there" beyond our reach and
control. Furthermore, it places the Canadian people in league
with their own ruling class and the monopolies it represents and
serves, which only care about maximizing their profits and doing
whatever is required to do so, including violating the rights of
all at home and abroad.
To create dangerous illusions that changes to labour
Mexico will hold the global monopolies to account and affirm
workers' rights is to take Canadians from the task of holding the
imperialist elite to account and affirming the rights of all
right here in Canada. In front of our eyes, labour and other
laws in Canada are being strengthened and manipulated to be
more effective in restricting workers' right to decide their wages
and working conditions, to criminalize their resistance, steal
what belongs to them by right such as their pensions, and to pay
the rich from the treasuries of the state. The bankruptcy laws
are routinely unleashed against workers; the federal Liberals
with Trudeau and Morneau in control want to pass Bill C-27 to
destroy defined benefit pensions; and the Ontario government
recently criminalized the strike of 12,000 striking college faculty,
ordering them back to work so that it does not have to
increase the funding of colleges to the existing Canadian
Hold Canadian Mining Monopolies to Account for
Mexican Workers' Rights!
While much is being said in Canada about the need for
labour law reform in Mexico, Canadian mining monopolies there whose
owners and executives are protected by the Canadian government in
many ways are responsible for the ongoing suppression of workers'
On November 18 two Mexican citizens, Victor and
Sahuanitla Peña, who were involved in actions to oppose the
activities of the Canadian-owned Media Luna gold mine in the
municipality of Cocula in the state of Guerrero, were killed by
armed thugs. The mine is currently the centre of a conflict
between the company, its "protection union" and the Mexican state
agencies on one side, and striking workers who want to get rid of
the "protection union" and join the National Union of Mine,
Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic, known as
Los Mineros, on the other.
The Media Luna mine is owned by Canada's Torex Gold
Resources. The company's President, CEO and founder is Fred
Stanford, a long-time Canadian mining executive and former
president of Ontario operations of Vale Inco. He has been a
member of the board of directors of Cambrian College, Laurentian
University and the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT), a
commercial incubator also based in Sudbury, Ontario. The workers
are joined by the local community, which is also opposed to the
actions of the company in their area.
Showing the role of the Mexican government and armed
of the state in the conflict, just days before the killing on
November 13, scores of armed federal police forces (Gendarmería,
which report to the army) arrived at the mine. They took over the
site in a show of force against the workers who had set up a
blockade. By so doing, they set the stage for violent attacks. On
the night of November 18, an armed group affiliated with the
company's "protection union" attacked the Media Luna strikers at
a roadblock the workers had set up near the mine and the two
brothers were killed.
The striking workers report that Mexican armed forces
briefly detained the attackers, but released them shortly
afterwards, Los Mineros writes. The union
also alleges that the
armed attackers are linked to the same group responsible for the
kidnapping and murders of 43 student-teachers known as the Ayotzinapa
43 in Guerrero state in 2014 for which
cover-ups by the Mexican government have emerged and utter
silence by the Canadian government, especially during the state
visit of Mexican President Peña Nieto to Canada in 2016.
Families of striking miners.
In a statement entitled "Torex Clarifies Media
Misinformation," the company claimed that the strike was
"illegal" so as to paint itself as the victim of the workers and
set the stage for the Mexican police agencies
to intervene to crush the workers' resistance. "With regards to
the Company's ELG Mine, there is no strike. There is an illegal
blockade," the company wrote. "Operations have been shut down at
the ELG Mine site since November 3rd as a result of the illegal
blockade, which arose because of a dispute between the union that
legally represents the Company's workers (the 'CTM Union') and
the union that wants to represent the workers (the 'Miners
Union')," the company stated.
It adds, "Resolution of this dispute is now in the
of the Labour Board, which the Company believes is working to
engage the parties, including the Miners Union, in the legal
process established to resolve this dispute and select a date for
the union vote to take place. The federal Gendarmerie continues
to be present at the ELG Mine for the protection of the Company's
Clearly the company is hoping that using the
Board will take the initiative out of the workers' hands and give it to
the Board and the agencies of the state, and provide a justification
for the Mexican government to
crush the workers' blockade.
As for those workers killed, the company dedicated
line: "The two men were not employees of the
1. A "protection union" is a mechanism
in Mexican labour law that permits companies operating in
Mexico to establish a company union, which is used to violate workers'
rights to choose their own union or have a say over their wages and
conditions. In some cases, the union and the
contract are established before the company begins operations to
undermine any collective actions of the workers and to try to
eliminate resistance in the form of strikes or grievances.
Changes to Labour Law and Minimum
Wage in Mexico
On February 24, a presidential decree amending
Articles 107 and 123 of the Constitution of the United Mexican
States came into force. The law firm Littler Mendelson provides
the following summary of the reforms in the decree:
"a. Labor disputes will now be processed before federal
labor courts that will be part of the Judicial Power of the
Federation of each State. These courts will replace the current
administrative Conciliation and Arbitration Labor Boards that
resolve employer-employee disputes and are part of the Executive
Branch of the Government.
"b. The Decree establishes a required pre-litigation
conciliation hearing held at 'specialized and impartial
Conciliation Centers' that will be created in each state. The
conciliation stage will consist of a single mandatory hearing,
with date and time expeditiously scheduled. Subsequent
conciliation meetings will be held at the request of the
"c. At the federal level, the conciliatory function
performed by an independent agency, which will also be
responsible for the registration of local- and federal-level
collective bargaining agreements, registration of unions, and all
related administrative processes. This agency will have its own
legal authority, assets and liabilities, and full technical,
operational, budgetary decision and management autonomy.
"d. In terms of collective bargaining, the Decree
individual, and confidential employee voting for resolution of
inter-union disputes, execution of a collective bargaining
agreement, and election of union leaders.
"In accordance with these constitutional reforms,
Congress and state legislatures must correspondingly amend
secondary laws to conform to the Decree within one year of
enactment. This means that the Federal Labor Law should be
reformed within one year to adapt to the reforms contained in the
Decree. Until these changes are made, both individual and
collective labor disputes (as well as disputes between unions,
the registration and administration of collective bargaining
agreements, and the internal labor regulations) will continue to
be administered by the local and federal Conciliation and
International Apparel Monopolies Support Labour Law
This past July, fourteen brand name companies that sell
textile and footwear products manufactured in Mexico and the Fair
Labor Association (FLA) jointly released a letter to the Mexican
government declaring their support for the constitutional reform
of the Mexican labour court system.
The joint letter was an initiative of the Mexico
composed of international brands involved in procurement and/or
manufacturing in Mexico, the FLA, the IndustriALL Global Union
and the Canada-based Maquila Solidarity Network (RSM). The RSM
acts as secretariat for the Committee.
The companies that signed the July 2017 letter are:
American Eagle Outfitters, C&A, Fanatics Apparel, Fruit of the
Loom, Gildan, Inditex (Zara), New Balance, Nike, Patagonia,
Puma, PVH, Under Armour and VF Corporation.
The letter, addressed to the Secretary of Labor and
Welfare, Alfonso Navarrete Prida, points out that this group of
companies is pleased with constitutional amendments and the
creation of new institutions as a part of the judicial system to
replace the tripartite conciliation and arbitration boards,
paving the way for Mexican workers to more fully enjoy their
internationally recognized rights to freedom of association and
collective bargaining, protected by ILO Conventions 87 and 98 and
for a stronger Mexican labour justice system.
Changes to Minimum Wage
In a speech delivered November 21, the day NAFTA
negotiations closed, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto
announced that his government was raising the Mexican minimum wage
as of December 1, 2017 to 88.36 pesos per day from 80.04 pesos
(U.S.$4.70 per day from U.S.$4.20) -- a 10.4 per cent increase.
He said that over the last five years (corresponding to his term
in office) the minimum wage has increased by 20 per cent in real terms
and 45 per cent nominally, something that has not happened in
Nothing is mentioned about the rising cost of living.
More importantly, according to a report in the Financial
wage does not apply to 60 per cent of Mexicans because they
work in the "informal sector."
Crisis of Trudeau Government's Indigenous
Families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous
Women and Girls
Refuse to be Sidelined
Families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls attend
vigil on Parliament Hill, October 4, 2017.
Trudeau, who attended the vigil was sharply held to account for the
lack of progress by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered
Indigenous Women and Girls.
Despite the best intentions of honest Commissioners and
staff, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous
Women and Girls continues to be plagued with problems. More than
22 staff members, including lawyers and one Commissioner, have
resigned or been fired. Calls have emerged for the Inquiry's
terms to be reset and to have more time and money to do its work. The
families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls have
stepped up their demand that the Inquiry fulfill their agenda,
not that of the government.
A group called Families for
Justice, which represents 18
families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, has
hired a law firm and on November 20 it announced legal action to
seek standing at the Inquiry to ensure that their voices and the
voices of their deceased loved ones are not dismissed.
In this way, the families of missing and murdered
women and girls are continuing their fight to have an Inquiry
that meets their demands. They are seeking to make sure that the
Trudeau government does not sabotage the National Inquiry for
which they fought so very hard.
But they face another development which presages more
disappointment. On November 17, the National Inquiry announced that
U.S. multinational public relations monopoly Hill+Knowlton has been
retained to assist the Inquiry with improving its "communications" with
the victims' families and allied organizations.
This is a mind-boggling development. Hill+Knowlton is
for its fraudulent and corrupt practices. It is the same outfit
that staged the infamous "fake news" in which a 15-year-old
Kuwaiti girl was reported to have seen invading Iraqi soldiers
ripping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and killing them by
throwing them on the ground. This sensational "news story" was
used to legitimate the U.S. imperialists' 1991 invasion of Iraq.
Hill+Knowlton was paid U.S.$10 million for services
Sisters in Spirit vigil, Vancouver, October 4, 2017.
Of greater importance, however, is the fact that if the
Inquiry truly intended to do the work the families of missing and
murdered girls and women want, there would be no "communications"
problem. It does not add to the credibility of the Trudeau
government's intentions that the Prime Minister and various
members of the Liberal caucus speak about the important concerns
of Indigenous peoples in a manner that reflects the following
"tips" from an April 2016 article by Hill+Knowlton on how to
Sunlight disinfects. The
sooner you tell your own bad news, the better. But tell it all.
Otherwise, the drip, drip, drip can drag on for months.
other points of view. Compassion and empathy generate good will.
You can be sorry for harm that comes to others without accepting
or assigning blame.
Denials supercharge headlines. Instead, focus
message on positives: what you have done, what you are doing,
what you are committed to do and why.
"communications" have nothing to do with improving relations
between human beings or improving the lives of the Indigenous
families seeking justice.
Sisters in Spirit vigil, Toronto, October 4, 2017.
The "communications" problem arises because Indigenous
peoples refuse to accept the status quo or the continued
dismissal of their concerns. Since the launch of the National
Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls in September
2016, the Trudeau Liberals have attempted to limit its scope in a
manner that makes it ineffective. This is accompanied by the din
that the government and the Prime Minister himself want to see
justice done. It is a most crass expression of Liberal hypocrisy.
If by justice the government means to quench the thirst of the mining,
and other monopolies which covet the resources that lie beneath
the surface of lands presently assigned to the Indigenous peoples
as if these lands do not belong to them by right, then the
Liberals can be considered well-intentioned.
If the National Inquiry is intended to investigate the
causes of the historical violence against Indigenous women and girls it
must investigate the Canadian state and its institutions that continue
to perpetrate that violence. It must provide redress for the historical
injustices against Indigenous peoples and remedy the dire social and
economic conditions that foment the circumstances in which the abuse of
women and girls in particular takes place.
Sisters in Spirit vigil, Saskatoon, October 4, 2017.
To date, all attempts to hide the crisis in which the
National Inquiry is mired have failed. Does the Trudeau
government really believe that Hill+Knowlton will succeed in
covering up the reality in the face of the truth told by the
militant families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,
supported by the entire working class and people? Is this all
about slick PR to achieve goals the government cannot get the
people to agree to voluntarily through the free exchange of ideas
and discourse? Or is it just another cowardly but convenient way
to pay the rich in the name of high ideals? Either way, this
measure will backfire on the government, and earn it even more
In November 2015, Indigenous women in Val-d'Or, Quebec
brought forward complaints against local
police of sexual assault. No charges have been laid against any of the
officers accused after an investigation carried out by no less
than the police themselves. This sends yet another clear and
brutal message that governments and those who purport to "serve
and protect" consider Indigenous women and girls dispensable and
that those who treat them as such can get away with it. Different
churches and governments tried to cover up the abuse in mission schools
and orphanages and churches for decades and, even after all the
scandals could no longer be contained, they have done everything in
their power to protect the high and mighty.
Sisters in Spirit vigil, Montreal, October 4, 2017.
The issue facing the Inquiry is the refusal of the
to right historical wrongs and establish nation-to-nation
relations in a manner which fully upholds the hereditary rights
of the Indigenous peoples of this country. Instead, it is
protecting the state-organized systemic abuse, violence and even
the long-suspected cover-up of why the cases of so many missing
and murdered women and girls remain unresolved. This feeds the
suspicion that powerful interests are being protected no matter
the cost and diverts attention from the aim to accomplish what
past governments have failed to do and that is to complete the
expropriation of the lands and resources which are the birthright
of the Indigenous peoples.
It is only the struggle of the peoples themselves which
not permit the Liberals to extinguish the hereditary, treaty and
constitutional rights of Indigenous peoples with impunity.
It is the fight that the Indigenous people are waging
justice done through the Inquiry that is key, not some new
"communications strategy" cooked up by Hill+Knowlton.
Sisters in Spirit vigil, St. Mary's First Nation, New Brunswick,
October 4, 2017.
Sisters in Spirit vigil, Windsor, October 4, 2017.
Make Canada a Zone for Peace!
No to Meddling in the Affairs of Other Countries
in the Name
On November 15 Prime Minister Trudeau revealed his
government's commitments to United Nations peacekeeping at a UN
Defence Ministerial Conference in Vancouver. The Conference, while
hosted by Canada, was
spearheaded by the United States in keeping with its demand for
the reform of UN peacekeeping to serve its empire building
In making the announcement Prime Minister Trudeau
nature of conflict has changed. So too have the demands of peace
operations. Discrete offerings and one-off commitments have
gotten us this far, but we won't be able to deliver true,
transformative change without a real institutional change. Canada
is prepared to help lead that charge; to rethink how we engage,
not just where we engage; to close the institutional gaps that
prevent us from being even more effective agents of peace in a
world that sorely needs it. That's how we'll protect the world's
children, empower women and girls, and build a more peaceful and
a more prosperous world."
He followed with a number of specific announcements of
role Canada will play.
The United Nations as a whole is in dire need of reform
that the aspirations contained in its Charter which oppose
aggression and interfering in the affairs of member states can
be realized and so that the rights of all nations can be
affirmed. This was and continues to be the demand of humanity
following World War II. However this is not what the reforms
being pushed by Canada and the U.S. and other big powers are
about. Instead, Canada is cherry-picking how many and where up to
600 Canadian troops will be deployed based on what serves the
interests of the U.S. and NATO. The talk of changed conditions
and "being more effective agents of peace" hides that it is about
where Canada will deploy its troops rather than about making any
contribution to peace.
From its inception peacekeeping has been used by the
powers to intervene in the affairs of UN member states. In the period following the
War in particular, in the name of "human security" or
"responsibility to protect" Canada has given itself the role of
pushing the United Nations to legitimize aggression against
other countries and of meddling in the internal affairs of other
countries in the name of
peacekeeping or what are now being called peace operations.
announcements are said to show that it has returned to
peacekeeping, following the Harper government's approach
which from the get-go emphasized the use of force in
international affairs, outside of the UN and without prior
authorization from the Security Council. The Trudeau
government is trying to resurrect the notion that Canada will
seek a UN
Security Council stamp of approval to use force in international
affairs. When this fails, however,
Canada is giving itself the option to operate outside of the
UN in association with the U.S. or anyone else with the same aims, with
whom it decides to ally,
as it is doing with its sanctions
and other aggressive actions against Venezuela.
Canadians do not support
meddling in the internal affairs of
other countries or the use of force to settle conflicts.
Canadians' support for the idea of peacekeeping is based on their
opposition to the use of force to settle conflicts between
countries. It is based on the notion that Canada can play
a role of active neutrality to assist parties to a conflict,
either between nations or within a nation, by upholding
established agreements between the warring parties and opposing
aggression and bullying. Claims from high ranks of the military
in Canada and internationally that there are no longer such
agreements to uphold, whether true or not, are asserted to
justify manipulating Canadians' support for this notion of
peacekeeping and directing it towards support for aggression in
the name of peacekeeping.
This is the case in Ukraine where Canada is intervening
one side of a civil conflict while at the same time participating
in NATO's build-up of forces threatening Russia. It is a tightrope
which the Trudeau government walks in its attempts to hide
its aims. It is under U.S.-led NATO command, militarizing Eastern
and overseeing specifically the militarization of Latvia by
foreign forces. It is putting more and more of Canada's territory
in the grip of the U.S. military to use for placement of its
missiles and troops. It is also seeking a role for itself in
conflicts in Asia as the U.S. is said to be withdrawing, in
particular targeting the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
(DPRK) in the most spurious manner with claims that it is
threatening Canada. In fact it is Canada that is threatening the DPRK
as it continues to be a party with the U.S. to
the Korean war, refusing to push the U.S. to sign a peace treaty
with the DPRK -- something the UN could help to enforce if a
legitimate peace could be established. This is not however what
Canada is demanding. Its whole program, aligned with that of
the U.S., is to not permit a peace to be established and instead
push for regime change while using the pretext of the "North
Korean threat" to justify joining U.S. missile defence.
The more the government talks about peace while it
prepares for and participates in war, the more Canadians will
come to terms with these nefarious activities and put forward
their own demand for Canada to be a factor for peace in world
1. See section "Revamping
Peacekeeping to Meet
War Aims," TML Weekly
November 21, 2015.
2. During the conference Trudeau
specifically announced the launch of the "Vancouver Principles on
Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of
Child Soldiers" created in partnership with retired General
He also announced the "Elsie Initiative on Women in
Operations," saying "Through this, Canada and partner nations
will provide assistance and incentives to increase the proportion
of women deployed in UN peace operations."
Trudeau also stated that Canada will make a range of
specialized military capabilities available to the UN. This will
include a "Quick Reaction Force" with approximately 200
troops and accompanying equipment, and an Aviation Task Force of
armed helicopters and tactical airlift support "to address
critical gaps in the UN's ability to transport troops, equipment,
and supplies to their missions."
Canada will also establish "new training programs
enhance the overall effectiveness of UN operations. This will
include the establishment of a Canadian Training and Advisory
Team to work with a partner nation before and during its
deployments to peace operations, as well as contributions to UN
centres, schools, and mobile training teams."
3. See "Myth
Weekly October 22, 2016.
4. See "'Peace Operations
Strategy' for Foreign Occupation," TML
Weekly February 6, 2016.
Imperialists' Morbid Preoccupation with Defeat
on Display at
Halifax War Conference
During the Halifax International Security Forum the people of Halifax
affirm No Harbour for War!
The Halifax International Security Forum met in Halifax,
Nova Scotia from November 17 to 19. The annual conference brought
together over three hundred participants from more than 80
countries to discuss the theme: Peace? Prosperity? Principle?
Securing What Purpose?
The theme reflects the crisis facing the imperialist
as the much longed-for peace, prosperity and lack of any
principles haunts them. The peace promised by the imperialist
powers following the fall of the Soviet Union has not emerged.
The global economy is facing more serious and regular crises. The
failure of the imperialist ruling elites to live up to their promises
that a free market economy, multi-party elections and "human rights"
would bring freedom, peace and prosperity chips away at the fraud that
this period represents the end of history and the only option is
liberal democracy. This
causes nightmares for the imperialists as do the heroic advances
made by the peoples' forces in showing that history has indeed
not come to an end.
Most notable was the opening speech delivered
by the Forum's President Peter Van Praagh who began by revealing the
imperialists' guilty conscience when he placed
the forum in the context of the centenary of the Halifax explosion
place on December 6, 1917. On that date, the SS Mont
Blanc, a French ship
loaded with ammunitions and explosives on its way to France from
New York via Halifax, collided with the SS Imo,
the Narrows, the strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour
to Bedford Basin. This explosion killed 2,000 people, injuring
another 9,000. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior
to the development of nuclear weapons. A tsunami created by the
blast wiped out the community of Mi'kmaq First Nations people who
had lived in the Tufts Cove area for generations.
According to Van Praagh it "was the Halifax Explosion
many ways brought home to North America the reality of the War in
Europe." What Van Praagh did not say is that it brought home the
reality that the imperialist system which gives rise to war
between rivals causes grave suffering to the peoples of the
world. Then turning truth on its head he stated that "1917 was
also the year that brought the United States into the war,
ensuring its outcome."
The refusal to deal with the Great October Revolution
which took place on November 7, 1917 and established soviet power,
shows the inability of the imperialists and their spokespeople to come
to terms with the role that the people, in this case the Russian
people, played in ending that imperialist slaughter by overthrowing
their rulers and taking Russia out of the war. Instead of even
recognizing this fact Van Praagh sought
to bury it and said the Russian revolution was the first "great
rival system" to "liberal democratic capitalism" in the 20th
century. This clearly shows that for the imperialists and their
henchmen they only see potential rivals and not human beings
aspiring for a new and modern society. They cannot see the future
because they think everyone is like them.
For good measure, to make sure Canadians do not identify
with the Great October Socialist Revolution but instead with war
criminals and genocide, he added that 1917 was "the same year that a
young David Ben Gurion arrived in Nova Scotia to train with a British
battalion that would eventually make its way to the Holy Land, the
Balfour Declaration that would set in motion seismic changes in The
Middle East was issued 100 years ago this month."
The Forum and its agenda represent the imperialist
which is in utter crisis. It cannot justify its existence and has
set for itself the impossible task of securing its rule amidst
all the contradictions inherent within it. The Forum's agenda
reflects the morbid preoccupation with defeat of one section of
the ruling class internationally amidst perceived threats to its
existence. Within this the role of the people, their fight for
peace, democracy and their rights also become threats to their
Van Praagh closed his opening remarks stating: "As
challenges, as Russia interferes, as North Korea threatens, and
as international terrorism continues all at a time that the world
adapts to a new style of American leadership, the conversations
held this weekend will, indeed, have some bearing on how future
generations 100 years from now judge how we identified and
secured our common purpose."
Common purpose is precisely what the ruling class
attain, yet it holds forums such as these to try and try again to
unite its own warring factions for fear of losing everything.
Haligonians, as they have since its inception, rallied
outside the Forum holding high the banner of peace, for an
anti-war government and for Canada to get out of the warmongering
NATO alliance. Their refusal to permit the warmongers to plot and
scheme under cover of the Trudeau government's warm embrace
and security apparatus shows that indeed, one hundred years
later, the people of Halifax affirm No Harbour for War!
INTERNATIONAL SECURITY FORUM 2017 DRAFT TOPICAL AGENDA
Peace? Prosperity? Principle? Securing What Purpose?
Nukes: The Fire and the Fury Weaponizing Capital: One
One Road, One Way
Making Peace with Women
Rapprochement with Russia: Post-Putin Prep
Satellite Armies: The Race in Space
Rebuilding the Middle East: From Civil War to Civil
Climate Change: Houston, We Have a Solution
Large Group Sessions
Real Conflict Solutions: The World After Vancouver
North Korea: Jaw Jaw or War War?
The Uninvited Voter: Rigged by Cyber
ISIS: Did We Win?
India -- China Relations
Living and Dying in Russia's Neighborhood
Small Group Sessions
AI: Awesome Initiative or Apocalypse Impending?
Arab Spring, Hope Eternal
Cyber Rules Tomorrow
Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Floods: Who You Gonna Call?
Four Famines: Food For Thought is Not Enough
From Belfast to Baghdad: The Evolution of Terrorism
GCC: Gulf of Cooperation?
The Geopolitics of Energy: What's New Under the Sun?
Immigration: The Canadian Fix
Including Africa: Lessons to Learn
Intelligence: From Spying to Lying
Israel: A Century After Balfour
Japan's Strategic Options
Make Latin America Great Again
Merkel and Macron: The Axis of Europe
The Press: Responsibility to Inform (honestly,
Securing the Seas: Asia's Troubled Waters
Soft, Smart, and Hard: Balancing Power
Southeast Europe Today
(UN)civil Wars: Bringing Peace Home
Where is My Home? The Refugee Question
Who the People? The Future of Democracy
Who's Afraid of Global Trade?
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