December 19, 2020 - No. 49

Out of Control Pay-the-Rich Schemes

The Arrogance of Monopoly Right

Government Corruption Beyond the Pale

Exposing the Fraud of the Canada Emergency
Wage Subsidy Program

Anti-China Motion in the House of Commons

"Yellow Peril" Hysteria All Over Again

- Pauline Easton -

For Your Information

Anti-China Motion

United States

Majority of Electoral College Votes Go to Biden

Supreme Court Dismisses Texas Lawsuit Which Attempts to Invalidate Votes in Four States

- Voice of Revolution -

Civil War Talk of Secession and Treason

- Kathleen Chandler -

Pentagon Funding for War and Weapons Passes,
COVID-19 Relief for Workers Does Not

Nineteen Tragic Facts About the COVID-19 Economy

- Bill Quigley -

Matters of Importance in Latin America and the Caribbean

• ALBA: 16 Years of Life
- Ángel Guerra Cabrera -

Day of the Titans and Heroic Guerrillas in White Coats

- María Inés Álvarez Garay -

Mexico's Water in the Hands of Private Interests

Concern in Peru Over Increasing Number of
Missing Women and Girls

COVID-19 Update

Ending the Year in the Red Zone and Under Lockdown

Note to Our Readers

Who Determines What Constitutes a Threat to National Security

• It Is Up To Canadians, Not the Police, to Decide What
Constitutes a Threat to "National Security

Out of Control Pay-the-Rich Schemes

The Arrogance of Monopoly Right

The global oligarchs in control of the economy and governments have doled out billions of dollars in public money to themselves using the pandemic as an excuse. Instead of increasing investments in social programs and mobilizing the people to fight the disease, they have marshalled public resources into their own pockets to enlarge their fortunes and strengthen their class privilege and control of the economy.

The arrogance of monopoly right is such that the oligarchs make no bones about their "entitlement" to the wealth workers produce and the public funds collected by the state.

Alain Bédard, Chief Executive Officer of the North American transportation cartel TFI International, manoeuvred the federal government's wage subsidy program -- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) -- into giving his company $63 million. The amount paid up to the end of September is still growing as the government has extended the pay-the-rich scheme into the new year.

The $63 million in public funds Bédard's company received soon disappeared into the accounts of his cartel becoming indistinguishable from the over $1 billion in annual gross income. Despite the pandemic and state-declared emergency and public money in their coffers, company funds flowed out to shareholders and executives in the form of $45 million in stock dividends, $9 million to buy back company shares, $20 million in stock options given to company executives and, with a slap in the face of the working class, the layoff of 1,600 TFI workers.

News of the continuing CEWS government payments to TFI, the share dividend, stock buyback and options, strong gross income and profits, and layoffs of 1,600 workers sent its stock price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange, increasing the paper wealth of its owners. The situation for the executives in control of the company and owners of stock, unlike the laid-off workers, was so positive that CEO Bédard in the fall increased the share dividend payout by 12 per cent.

Rumblings began to surface in social media that public funds should not be going to profitable companies or to those that simply turn around and hand the government cash to owners and executives or use it to buy back shares to increase the stock price. Reports appeared that government funds handed out to private interests were being used to fatten the pockets of the rich.

Such was the case with long-term care operators Extendicare and Sienna Senior Living. Upon receiving $157 million in public funds, the companies turned around and gave their shareholders $74 million. Meanwhile, workers and residents in their facilities continued to suffer terribly with reported deaths from COVID-19 reaching 480 by early autumn.

Elsewhere, the Financial Post (FP) discovered 68 major companies had received $1.03 billion in CEWS public payments during the second and third quarters of 2020 but at the same time paid out more than $5 billion in dividends to investors. Many of those companies, similar to TFI International, introduced share repurchase programs to buy back millions of dollars in shares during the two quarters, gave out share options to executives and paid hefty dividends to shareholders.

Some in the media and certain economists became critical of the CEWS pay-the-rich program implying that it was poorly thought out and presented, which left it open to criticism. Some pointed to other jurisdictions where the schemes of governments to pay the wages of workers on behalf of private enterprises were better disguised and not so easy to see through the corruption. The economy is now openly seen to be a pay-the-rich corrupt economy under the control of the global oligarchy and in need of a new direction.

Regarding the CEWS pay-the-rich scheme, FP quotes York University professor Richard Leblanc saying, "Think about what's happening: Taxpayers are indirectly subsidizing payments to shareholders. That is completely unacceptable."

Another professor, Michel Magnan who teaches corporate governance at Concordia University said of this particular pay-the-rich scheme and practice, "If you buy back your shares it's because you don't need the cash. So if you don't need the cash, why are you getting cash?"

Trickle-down Theory of the Rich

TFI International CEO Alain Bédard angrily responded to the criticism telling Le Journal de Montréal that we oligarchs "are not ashamed" to take $63 million in government money and in the same instance hand over $45 million to share owners as dividends, give $20 million in stock options to executives and use $9 million to buy back shares to boost the share price. "Not taking [the government payout] would be like refusing a tax exemption. It would be like saying 'We're more Catholic than the pope.' We're in business for our stockholders," Bédard blustered.

Many in the media and certain economists are loath to criticize any pay-the-rich scheme and instead jump to the defence of corruption and monopoly right because they do not want to be identified as discussing an alternative. One would think that with the recurring economic crises and blatant pay-the-rich schemes some economists would perhaps look into the situation a little more deeply and discuss a new direction and aim for the economy, which put an end to the recurring crises and corruption. But no, more often than not one finds in the media those who unashamedly promote the neo-liberal trickle-down theory of paying the rich as a so-called way to climb out of a crisis. Social wealth must first go to the rich before it trickles down to those who produce it or so the story goes. If those in control are the ones holding power and organizing the pay-the-rich schemes with the supposed aim to eventually benefit the people, then how could pay-the-rich practices be called corruption they argue, and besides they assert, no alternative is possible.

Yet reports swirling in the media suggest that wealth currently is not trickling down to the masses at all but on the contrary flowing up to the global oligarchs who have massively increased their wealth during the pandemic. Share prices of the biggest cartels on most of the imperialist stock markets have reached record highs in 2020 while unemployment remains high, poverty and food insecurity are disturbingly widespread and many small and medium-sized companies are struggling just to survive.

Unprincipled Line that the End Justifies the Means

The words of Mikal Skuterud, a labour economist at the University of Waterloo, could identify him as an apologist for monopoly right and the unprincipled line that the end justifies the means. He told CBC News, "The No. 1 objective [for CEWS] was to get money out there to shore up the economy. To the extent that it didn't save jobs, but it helped keep some companies afloat -- I don't think that's something that should be criticized." In other words, in the case of CEWS, the end result of possibly some good coming from paying the rich justifies the corruption endemic to the program. Skuterud appears to admit that not many jobs were "saved" but that in the end the program after all helped the economy and such a good result justifies the corrupt means.

Organize for a New Direction and Aim for the Economy

Canadians should take stock of the situation as it exists and clearly raise the political demand to Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Funding for Social Programs! Those who are in control of the state treasury and use it to increase their wealth must not be permitted to get away with it. The practice should be illegal with governments held to account as well for corruption. A new direction and aim for the economy to serve the people and society is not only possible but necessary and it begins by stepping up the fight to Stop Paying the Rich!

The only way out of this mess is to develop the political mobilization of the people for a new direction for the economy and politics which defend the rights of all. It is necessary to build the New in practical ways to oppose the rulers' monopoly over decision-making and the use of force.

(With files from CBC News, Financial Post, Le Journal de Montréal. Photos: TML, SEIU)

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Government Corruption Beyond the Pale

A CBC News investigation called "The Big Spend" has found billions of dollars in federal pandemic aid going to corporations making what CBC calls "healthy profits." Many of the corporations receiving portions of the $240 billion pandemic aid are at the same time doling out dividends to shareholders, giving stock options to executives and continuing to expropriate added-value from the new value their workers are producing. This blatant pay-the-rich corruption is now considered "normal" and a "right" of doing business in Canada.

One item in the series examines the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (CEWS). Up to December CEWS has handed $50 billion to around 356,000 companies to pay the wages of their employees. The program has been extended into next year with the total payments expected to exceed $100 billion. According to the government, the money was to assist small retail and other businesses to keep their workers employed. Smaller retailers in particular are in danger of going bankrupt as the enforced COVID-19 lockdowns have hit them hard. Many of the most powerful global cartels, however, use it as a pay-the-rich scheme, leaving a scam of tremendous proportions in their wake.

The majority of the companies receiving wage subsidies are not traded publicly on the stock market and according to private property right do not have to reveal their business accounts. CBC says almost no information is publicly available "about which companies received money, how much they received or what they did with it. Only publicly traded companies have to disclose their financial statements."

Of the thousands receiving subsidies CBC News was able to identify 213 corporations only because they are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Those companies indicated receiving CEWS payments in their public filings.

"Even with their financial statements, it is impossible for outside accountants to determine how many workers the subsidies have helped," CBC writes while also saying the Trudeau government has been completely uncooperative in supplying detailed information.

According to the government's official figures, which do not identify the companies, a total of 380 companies received more than $5 million each in CEWS assistance, while close to 3,500 businesses have received between $1 million and $5 million. The largest CEWS beneficiary of those publicly reporting their finances is Air Canada, which reported $492 million in wage subsidies so far. Imperial Oil is second on the list at $120 million. Global auto parts maker Linamar was third at $108.06 million. The top 20 publicly traded recipients of CEWS money identified by CBC News have so far received a total of $1.693 billion in government assistance. Of the company recipients identified, 32 received more than $20 million each.

Fifty-three corporations received more than $10 million each from the CEWS program. Those 53 companies at the same time, "collectively dished out nearly $2 billion to shareholders between April and September." At least seven of those companies during the summer also bought back stock shares to boost their share price while others handed out stock options to executives.

Thirteen of the identified companies receiving subsidies increased their year-to-date net income during the pandemic when compared to 2019. Those 13 include Leon's, which received $32 million from the CEWS program and Extendicare, which pocketed $82.2 million. Extendicare is one of the largest private for-profit long-term and home care operators in Canada with over 23,000 workers. Extendicare Inc. along with another private long-term care company, Sienna Senior Living Inc., has received more than $157 million in federal and provincial COVID-19 pay-the-rich money. During the same time they received this public handout, they transferred a combined total of $74 million in dividends to their shareholders. "Meanwhile," CBC reports, "more than 480 residents and staff have died of COVID-19 at the companies' care homes in Ontario."

Another corporation given $29.4 million in CEWS money is janitorial company GDI with over 20,000 workers throughout Canada and the United States. The company reportedly is "thriving amid increased demand for cleaning services," CBC reports. The company's gross income has risen over 10 per cent during the pandemic with a "record income quarter" during July, August and September of 2020. GDI reported a net income up more than 300 per cent compared to last year and a stock price "hitting an all-time high." Despite all this "good news" the government gave it almost $30 million "to help pay its employees' wages."

Billions of dollars from the government's pandemic aid package is going to corporations whose profits are up, despite the overall economic downturn and collapse of thousands of small companies and massive unemployment and social problems. The CEWS program will pay out over $100 billion by the time it wraps up next year. The government says it is meant to help businesses struggling to keep employees on their payroll but refuses to give details as to the specific companies and the number of workers involved. CBC says the Canada Revenue Agency, which administers CEWS, will still not release the names of program recipients or any other details, and that Federal Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier and Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland refuse to respond to questions about the program.

Under the guise of helping working people keep their jobs and preventing small businesses from going under, the government has rolled out billions of dollars in pay-the-rich schemes while keeping the details secret. The corruption of the governments in Canada is beyond the pale; they engage in these practices despite broad demands to provide for the people. The global oligarchs and their private interests command the show and governments do their bidding. The monopoly media ensures the people do not hear of the resistance, but only the infighting of the rich over who controls the state institutions and how the spoils are divvied up.

Only the working people mobilized politically can put a stop to this corruption before it destroys Canada and the entire world in unending crises and war.

(CBC News. Photos: TML, Edmonton Climate Justice)

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Exposing the Fraud of the Canada Emergency
Wage Subsidy Program

University of Toronto economist Michael Smart has done a preliminary analysis of the $50.6 billion the federal government has spent so far under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (CEWS). Right off the bat, Smart points out, "It's important to understand that these payments are not going to individual workers. They're going to the companies. And I don't believe that they're saving a large number of jobs. That means the payments are going to business profits."

A CBC investigation reveals that many of the larger companies that have received millions under the program have spent lavishly for non-payroll items such as dividend payments to shareholders, share buybacks, share options for executive compensation etc.; all of which are allowed under CEWS.

Businesses, Smart explains, use the subsidy to offset wages paid to employees. The money ends up subsidizing all employees on the payroll, not only those in danger of being laid off because of the pandemic. As a result the government has ended up paying $14,500 per month to businesses for every job that is reportedly saved over a four-week period, or about $188,000 per job per year. Exactly how many jobs have really been saved is impossible to pinpoint because governments and businesses refuse to be accountable. The CBC and others say that digging out information from companies and the government as to what specific jobs and how many have really been saved is impossible as a wall of silence shields all information. Even though the programs and schemes use public funds, the governments doling out the money and the oligarchs receiving it brandish the right of private property to keep their affairs secret to stop any investigation and exposure of what is really happening.

Smart doubts that the reported jobs "saved" through the program, at least with the larger firms, would have disappeared without the subsidies. "The problem is that CEWS payments are paid for all workers at affected businesses, not just those facing the prospect of earnings losses," he writes. "For this reason, CEWS is an expensive way of protecting vulnerable workers. Most of the jobs funded by CEWS would still exist in the absence of the subsidy."

As proof of CEWS having little impact on employment Smart analyzed the reductions in subsidy rates which began in September but were subsequently abandoned. "While the September reforms resulted in a substantial decline in the average subsidy per worker," he writes, "there was no sharp drop in the number of firms applying or workers assisted. This evidence suggests the CEWS subsidy is not in fact saving many jobs and that the cost per job saved is therefore high."

Smart argues, "If the subsidies play a significant role in preventing job loss, then the September cuts should have led to an increase in layoffs at assisted firms, and a resulting decline in the number of workers supported by the program beginning in September. But that is not what the aggregate data suggest."

His study of the September reforms reveals that "a 10 per cent increase in the subsidy rate leads to just a 1.1 per cent increase in employment at affected firms. Because the estimated impact of the subsidy on employment is small, most jobs subsidized through CEWS would still exist if the subsidy rate were reduced further.

He then criticizes the government for "backing away from those reforms, freezing subsidy rates and extending the program in 2021. The decision to back away from the September reforms was a mistake and a gradual phaseout of subsidies should start again now."

With the extension well into next year, "CEWS is now the largest component of Ottawa's pandemic response, outstripping even the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and its successors. [...] CEWS is a subsidy of up to 75 per cent for eligible payroll expenses of virtually all Canadian businesses that have experienced a revenue decline since the beginning of 2020. The program has paid out over $50 billion to 350,000 different businesses so far, and current spending is running around $1.2 billion per week."

It should be noted that a "revenue decline" can be for one subsidiary of a large company or even one department while the rest of the company continues to operate and expropriate added-value from the value its workers produce.

Smart writes, "If CEWS funds are not saving many jobs, that means they end up in business profits. [...] We learned of one large retailer that in effect used its CEWS payments to fund a special dividend to shareholders this year." Smart is referring to a November 23 article in the Toronto Star with the headline, "Leon's received almost $30 million in government handouts -- now it's posting record profits and boosting the amount it pays to shareholders."

Smart's assessment of CEWS is that "it was not targeted to the jobs that were most at risk during the lockdown." This is putting it mildly to say the least.

(Michael Smart's complete analysis is available here; News about CEWS -- Finances of the Nation; CBC "The Big Spend" is here)

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Anti-China Motion in the House of Commons

"Yellow Peril" Hysteria All Over Again

The House of Commons is addressing a motion that exudes hostility towards the People's Republic of China. The cartel parties are espousing the ill-advised cause of opposing alleged Chinese attempts to undermine Canada's "democratic institutions." In the name of "eliminating foreign interference in Canada's political process" the resolution will criminalize Canadians and permanent residents of Chinese national origin and generally foment a hysterical racist anti-Chinese climate. It is, again, the racist, colonialist approach which, at the turn of the 20th century, accused people from Asia of constituting a "Yellow Peril." A dictionary definition describes "Yellow Peril" as the power or alleged power of Asiatic peoples "to threaten or destroy the supremacy of White or Western civilization."[1]

According to Wikipedia it is "a colour-metaphor that represents the peoples of East Asia as an existential danger to the Western world."[2]

The motion also deserves the attention of Canadians for its insidious modus operandi. The right of citizens and residents to express their opinion on international affairs is being turned into a matter of people being "dupes for a foreign power." The international practice -- and right -- of countries to promote their economic interests, as Canada does all over the world, is considered proper for Canada and the U.S. but not for China. In the name of national security, when Canada, the U.S., and the other countries of the "Five Eyes" intelligence agencies can empower corporations such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and others to comply with surveillance of citizens it is considered democratic, but if China does it, it is considered dictatorial. Similarly, the domination of the cartel parties, all of which serve the international financial oligarchy, over governance in Canada is considered democratic, while the domination of the Communist Party of China over governance in China is considered a dictatorship.

The power of the private interests dominates this discourse, used to determine Canada's national interest. These private interests have taken over the U.S. state, to which they have subordinated the Canadian state. They use their apparatus of disinformation and budgets to put the full weight of their states behind wiping out their competition. The peoples of the countries which comprise the imperialist system of states are supposed to take sides.

According to David Vigneault, Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), "As the world becomes smaller and more competitive, nation states are naturally seeking every advantage to position themselves as leaders in a lucrative global economy. As a result of this competitive thirst, hostile state actors seek to leverage all elements of state power to advance their national interests. This threat represents the greatest danger to Canada's national security and can have a tremendous impact on our economic growth, ability to innovate, sovereignty and national interest. That is why CSIS is now routinely engaging with a variety of stakeholders across the Government of Canada and the private and research sectors, to learn from and advise on the nature of potential threats so that they are better prepared and can protect their important work."[3]

This candid admission that Canada's "national interests" are served by the security services advancing the interests of the financial and economic oligarchs in their rivalries to dominate markets and spheres of influence confirms the extent to which they themselves are providing justification "to leverage all elements of state power" to the advantage of their side of the "competitive thirst." It confirms the profound danger posed to the peoples. According to their modus operandi, this rivalry can only lead to aggression, war and interference abroad, while suppressing the movements of the people at home and abroad. The peoples are fighting for a new world where economies are organized to fulfill the needs of the people, and international relations, including trade, are based on mutual benefit and conflicting interests are resolved peacefully.

Vigneault praises the Government for passing the National Security Act, 2017 which received Royal Assent in June 2019. This Act was broadly opposed by Canadians when it was first introduced by the Harper government and then adopted by the Trudeau government with fraudulent amendments to make it appear that rights were being protected. Vigneault says that while the new police powers have provided "some new modern authorities, there is still work to be done." More explicitly, he calls for increased police powers, stating that "the threat environment we face today and in the future requires further reflection to ensure that we have the tools required of a modern intelligence agency."

One of the examples of "threat environment today" the security establishment is promoting as hysterically as it possibly can, is alleged interference in delivery of COVID vaccines.[4]

Of note is the dominant role in decision-making given to the so-called Five Eyes intelligence agencies which, by definition, are covert. They march to their own tune without the citizenry ever being privy to what they do and how. The decision-makers in government also march to their tune.

Imposing conceptions of security, peace and democracy dragged out of the Cold War period merely underscores the fact that what they mean is self-serving. The interests they serve and those who serve these interests do not recognize, let alone represent, the members of the polity whose voices are not heard; nay more, whose voices are missing altogether in what is called the discussion.

All of the parties in the House of Commons are in cahoots with the motion. They have been bickering over minor details related to it, such as whether or not it should be adopted before it is reviewed by the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, itself an instrument for anti-China propaganda whose aim is to hide how desperate they are to wipe out China as a competitor.[5]


1. Collins Dictionary.

2. The term "Yellow Peril" was coined in Europe following Japan's military defeat of China in 1895 and was initially applied to Japan to create fear of invasion from rising powers in East Asia.

The fear of invasion continued into the 20th century and was bolstered by various racist portrayals of "sinister Orientals" in books and films. Prominent amongst these was the English writer Sax Rohmer's creation, the insidious and diabolical genius Dr. Fu Manchu.

By the outbreak of WWI, the lack of any actual invasion usage of the term "Yellow Peril" began to fade, although in practice, fearmongering about China and immigrants from East Asia continued, couched in other derogatory terms, in support of racist immigration policies at home and imperialist aggression abroad.

3.  CSIS Public Report 2019, “Our Vision: A Safe, Secure and Prosperous Canada through Trusted Intelligence and Advance,” May 2020.

4. "CSIS warns of threats to vaccine distribution chain," Catharine Tunney, CBC News, December 17, 2020.

5. According to its website, the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations says its mandate is "to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship, including, but not limited to, consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations." Its website further states:

"The ties between Canada and Hong Kong are long standing and well known, notably due to the many Canadian soldiers who participated and lost their lives in the war effort to prevent the Japanese invasion during the Second World War. Today, an estimated 300,000 Canadians live in Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong's freedoms and high degree of autonomy were enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, a treaty registered with the United Nations. As the Special Committee has been told, the international community was asked to support the 'one country, two systems' framework and cooperate toward its successful implementation. The Special Committee notes that, while the framework is obliged to endure until 2047, serious questions have been raised by the National Security Law that was enacted on June 30, 2020. Furthermore, the Special Committee reiterates that the freedoms enshrined in the Joint Declaration and Hong Kong's Basic Law, including freedom of expression and assembly, are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which applies in Hong Kong."

Individuals and organizations that have appeared before the committee this year include the following:

December 8, 2020 (Meeting 12)
Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
- Shawn Steil, Executive Director, Greater China Policy and Coordination

Embassy of Canada to the People's Republic of China
- Dominic Barton, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to the People's Republic of China

November 24, 2020 (Meeting 8)
As an individual
- Hon. John McCallum, Former Ambassador of Canada to the People's Republic of China
- Robert Wright, Former Ambassador of Canada to the People's Republic of China

November 23, 2020 (Meeting 7)
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
- Marta Morgan, Deputy Minister, Foreign Affairs
- Weldon Epp, Director General, North Asia and Oceania Bureau

House of Commons
- Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs

November 17, 2020 (Meeting 6)
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
- Shawn Steil, Executive Director, Greater China Policy and Coordination

November 16, 2020 (Meeting 5)
Department of Citizenship and Immigration
- Natasha Kim, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy
- Dr. Nicole Giles, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations

House of Commons
- Hon. Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

November 9, 2020 (Meeting 4)
As an individual
- Bill Chu, Founder, Canadians for Reconciliation
- Steve Tsang, Director, SOAS China Institute, University of London
- Victor Ho, Retired Editor-in-Chief, Sing Tao Daily, British Columbia Edition

National Democratic Institute
- Adam Nelson, Senior Advisor for Asia-Pacific

Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement
- Mabel Tung, Chair

November 2, 2020 (Meeting 3)
Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong and Macao
- Jeff Nankivell, Consul General of Canada in Hong Kong and Macao, Global Affairs Canada

October 26, 2020 (Meeting 2)
As an individual
- Angela Gui
- Nathan Law, Hong Kong Activist, Former Legislator 

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For Your Information

Anti-China Motion

The anti-China motion was introduced in the House on November 17 by Conservative MP Michael Chong. Both the resolution and the discussion underscore the refusal to sort out problems in international relations peacefully and instead turn them into a matter of factional fighting, promotion of business interests and a hysterical anti-China stance. It reads:

Given that (i) the People's Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, is threatening Canada's national interest and its values, including Canadians of Chinese origin within Canada's borders, (ii) it is essential that Canada have a strong and principled foreign policy backed by action in concert with its allies, the House call upon the government to: (a) make a decision on Huawei's involvement in Canada's 5G network within 30 days of the adoption of this motion; and (b) develop a robust plan, as Australia has done, to combat China's growing foreign operations here in Canada and its increasing intimidation of Canadians living in Canada, and table it within 30 days of the adoption of this motion.

Speaking to the resolution Chong said  that while the Liberal government "has logged a number of foreign policy accomplishments" such as renegotiating the free trade agreement with the U.S. overall, "foreign policy has been a disappointment." He said:

It is on China that the Liberal government has been the biggest disappointment. China is not upholding its responsibility to the rules-based international system. It is ignoring its condition of entry into the WTO. It is manipulating its currency using state-owned enterprises to interfere in other country's economies, infringing on international property and violating international law in its treatment of Canadians Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor, Robert Schellenberg and Huseyin Celil. It violates international law in its treatment of the people of Hong Kong and in its treatment of religious and ethnic minorities, such as the Tibetans and the Uighurs in China. In short, China is threatening our interests and our values. In that context, it is really important that the Government of Canada speak with a clear, consistent and coherent voice. Unfortunately, that is not happening. In January of last year, the Prime Minister said he was not going to intervene in the judicial proceeding concerning Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. The same week, former Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum, said that the government should intervene and trade Meng Wanzhou for Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. This inconsistency and incoherence have continued into this year. In July, the foreign minister told the House that he is looking into putting sanctions on Chinese officials for their actions with respect to Hong Kong. The very next day the government told Reuters that this was off the table. In September, the foreign minister told The Globe and Mail that the pursuit of free trade with China was being abandoned, and on the same day, Ambassador Barton, Canada's ambassador to China, was in Edmonton telling an audience, which included the Chinese ambassador to Canada, that Canada should do more in China and expand trade with China.

These are just a few of the many, many examples.

The government itself acknowledges implicitly that its China policy is not working. It has acknowledged it by its recent change in rhetoric on China this fall, and it has acknowledged it by its announcement that it plans to come forward with a new framework on China this fall, by December 24. That is why I have introduced this motion today."

Any new framework on China must include two elements.

First, it must include a decision on Huawei. In May of last year, the government said it would make a decision on Huawei's involvement in Canada's 5G network before the 2019 election. That July it changed its mind and said it would make a decision after the 2019 election. It has now been more than a year since the last election, and there still has been no decision. It has been years since the government first started deliberating on this decision. The consequence of these years of delay and indecision on the part of the government is threatening Canada's national security. Because of the government's delays on this file, Telus, a major Canadian telecommunications company, went ahead and purchased Huawei's equipment for its network. It installed it in the national capital region, where most of Canada's federal government offices are, including the RCMP, CSIS, the Department of National Defence and other military installations, despite having reached an agreement with the federal government not to use Huawei's equipment in the region. Reports now indicate the federal government is scrambling to get Telus to remove its equipment, which has now been installed on some 80 towers and sites in the national capital region. Under article 7 of China's national intelligence law, Huawei must support, assist and co-operate with China's intelligence activities.

The government's lack of action on Huawei demonstrates something else: the yawning gap between its rhetoric and reality. The government said it believes in multilateralism, but when given the opportunity fails to act. Huawei is a good case in point. Four of the Five Eyes intelligence partners, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, have banned or put restrictions on Huawei's involvement in their networks. Canada is unilaterally alone in failing to take action.

It is long past time for the government to make a decision on Huawei. No framework on China is complete without it. Any new framework on China must also include a robust plan to counter China's subversive operations here in Canada. China, through its agents and foreign operations here on our soil, is threatening our national interests and values. It is intimidating Canadians, particularly Canadians of Chinese origin. It is spying on and cyber-attacking our citizens, companies and the federal government itself. It is spreading disinformation. It is engaging in elite capture: the provision of monetary inducements, in sinecure, to retired bureaucrats and retired politicians. It is providing financial support for research institutes that support Beijing's positions, such as the Confucius Institute. It is co-opting Chinese language media and local organizations on the ground to promote Beijing's interests. It is surveilling and organizing Chinese foreign students at Canadian universities to stifle on-campus debate and threaten others, as it has done at the University of Toronto and McMaster University. It is interfering in the Chinese community by mobilizing political support against those who do not support Beijing.

There are countless examples of China's influence operations here in Canada documented by CSIS, the RCMP, Amnesty International and the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations of the House. Any new framework on China must include a plan that does more to protect Canadians from China's foreign influence operations here in Canada as our allies, such as Australia, have already done.

The government came to office talking about responsible conviction. That was jettisoned for Canada being an essential country. We now get a new framework on China. Any new framework must include a decision on Huawei and a robust plan to protect Canadian citizens and interests from China's subversive foreign influence operations here on Canadian soil.

I have a final point on the timing in the motion. The motion calls on the government to make these two decisions within 30 days. The government has announced for months that it is coming forward with a new framework on China by the end of this fall, which ends on December 21, so the timing of the motion's provisions is very reasonable. That is why I have introduced this motion. I hope members will support it.

Speaking for the Bloc Québécois, Luc Desilets (Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, BQ) said his party agrees, and only has some concerns about the time.

"Why not wait until the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, which the Conservatives themselves asked for, releases its findings?" Desilets said.

Speaking for the NDP, Gord Johns (Courtenay--Alberni, NDP) thanked Chong for the motion and asked:

I want to ask my colleague if he believes that Canada needs to bring in legislation to combat foreign interference from China and other state parties here in Canada.

Chong said yes, "a new legislative framework to deal with a number of issues. For example, we believe that former senior politicians and former senior bureaucrats should register their contracts, if they are working for a foreign state or an entity controlled by a foreign state. We also believe that there need to be better enforcement tools available to law enforcement to counter these subversive Chinese foreign influence operations on Canadian soil. These are just two measures that we believe need new legislation in order to provide the tools necessary to counter these activities."

On behalf of the Liberal government, Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne said:

Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to attend the speech by my colleague this morning. One thing he failed to mention, and what I am inquiring about, is Canada's leadership when it comes to taking action.

Why is the member not mentioning to Canadians who are watching us that Canada was the first country to suspend an extradition treaty, between Canada and Hong Kong? Why is the member not mentioning to Canadians that Canada suspended the export of sensitive equipment? Why is the member not mentioning to Canadians that we took immigration measures?

I chaired the meeting of the Five Eyes, and I consulted with our British counterparts at every step of the way. Why is the member not mentioning that we are continuing to engage with our partners around the world to show leadership, to take action, and to stand up for Canadian values and interests?

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United States

Majority of Electoral College Votes Go to Biden

The slate of electors certified by each state's election officials and signed off on by the Governor met in each state on December 14 to cast their votes for president and vice-president. Currently all states designate electors based on the votes cast in their state, with all but Maine and Nebraska giving all their electors to whoever gained a plurality, not a majority, of the votes. For this election, there were 538 electors and 306 votes were cast for Biden and 232 for Trump.

Following the vote Biden claimed, "The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame." Referring to the Texas lawsuit calling to vacate the vote in four states and dismissed by the Supreme Court December 11, he added, "It's a position so extreme we've never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honour our Constitution."

Republican Senate head Mitch McConnell, a main Trump enforcer, also emphasizing the importance now of defending existing arrangements said, "Our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on January 20." He added, "The Electoral College has spoken. So today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden." He had not done so up to that point. Trump, following the Supreme Court's rejection of the Texas lawsuit, tweeted, "We have just begun to fight." He has so far not conceded.

In Michigan, a state where Trump had tried to have the vote vacated and had called on the Republican leaders of the Michigan House and Senate to seat a slate of electors in his favour, both instead spoke to upholding existing arrangements. House Speaker Lee Chatfield said that he "can't fathom risking our norms, traditions and institutions to pass a resolution retroactively changing the electors for Trump." He added that if the Michigan House were to cast a new slate of electors "I fear we'd lose our country forever. This truly would bring mutually assured destruction for every future election in regards to the Electoral College."

It is evident that there is growing concern that the continuing conflicts represented by Trump's refusal to concede have not only put the election in doubt but will further undermine the existing constitutional arrangements that guarantee rule by the oligarchs. These arrangements have proven dysfunctional, the conflicts border on violent civil war, yet upholding the Constitution -- which did not prevent the last Civil War -- is the only answer given.

Congress still has to accept the vote by the Electoral College. The Senate and House of Representatives meet January 6 in a joint session presided over by Vice President Pence, as President of the Senate. He is responsible for counting the Electoral College votes from each state. If at least one member of each house objects in writing to a particular state's electoral votes, the House and Senate meet separately to debate the issue. Both Houses must vote to sustain the objection, otherwise, the votes get counted as intended by the state. If there is a tie, the vote certified by the Governor of the state decides the outcome.

Republicans in Georgia met December 14 and elected a slate of electors in Trump's favour, though the Governor there certified Biden's win and the Electoral College vote went to Biden. The Republicans have not yet sent their slate of electors to Congress, but they could. Other individual members, such as those supporting the Texas lawsuit, could object as well. So far no Senator has come forward and McConnell has urged them not to, trying to avoid a vote that could further split Republicans. At least four Republican Senators have said they would oppose any such move: Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah. This would be enough to block any effort to overturn the Electoral College results. Given this, Trump is more likely to pursue other avenues, though his supporters might persist.

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Supreme Court Dismisses Texas Lawsuit Which Attempts to Invalidate Votes in Four States

Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit December 7 directly with the Supreme Court calling on the court to invalidate the elections in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which would put Biden below the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. The lawsuit asked the court to vacate the votes cast and instead let the legislatures of each state decide the slate of electors for the Electoral College. On December 11, the Court dismissed the case.

Unlike the more than 50 other lawsuits filed, and lost, by Trump and allies claiming fraud, this one attempted to make it a constitutional issue which, as such, was a matter which pertains to the Supreme Court. Given that the case involved a dispute between states, it bypassed lower courts and went directly to the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit argued: "The constitutional issue is not whether voters committed fraud but whether state officials violated the law by systematically loosening the measures for ballot integrity so that fraud becomes undetectable." It said it was not necessary to prove that fraud occurred, "it is only necessary to demonstrate that the elections in the defendant States materially deviated from the 'manner' of choosing electors established by their respective state Legislatures."

It is notable that changes made in the four states, such as expanding use of mail-in ballots, were also made in Texas and most states across the country. Furthermore, the challenge was only for the presidential election, not Congressional and state elections, even though each voter gets one ballot for all the elections. It is a self-serving irrational argument meant to draw everyone into an irrational debate. Thinking about a rational solution favouring the people is blocked while various divisions -- between states, between states and the federal government, and among the electorate -- are fomented.

While other lawsuits involved claims of fraud in specific states, the Texas lawsuit directly served to pit groups of states against each other. It was joined by State Attorneys General from 17 other states, about half southern states.[1] In addition, 126 of the 196 Republicans in the House of Representatives also filed a brief in support.

The four states targeted -- Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- all challenged the lawsuit. State Attorneys General from 20 other states and Washington, DC filed a brief in support of the four states. These included North Carolina, Virginia, California and New York.[2] Lead Connecticut Attorney General Tong said: "This is nothing less than an attempted legal coup that risks the destruction of the union. This suit will undoubtedly fail because it is a fact-free disgrace to the judicial system. But before it fails, it will cause immense and lasting harm to the legal profession and the community of attorneys general..."

Pennsylvania wrote, "The court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated." Georgia's Republican Governor and Attorney General, who have faced threats and harassment from Trump and his forces, said Georgia had done "what the Constitution empowered it to do."

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn rejected the lawsuit, saying he did not understand why Texas is seeking to dictate how other states run their elections.

The Republican Attorney General of Ohio refused to support the lawsuit as did Republican Governors of Utah and Wyoming. The Governor of Wyoming, where Trump won 70 per cent of the votes cast, said he and his attorney general, "Believe that the case could have unintended consequences relating to a constitutional principle that the state of Wyoming holds dear, that states are sovereign, free to govern themselves."

In this manner the role of the states, their election laws, legislatures, Electoral College electors, and federal government is being raised, with elected officials on both sides claiming support from the Constitution. As well, state Attorneys General are sworn to uphold the Constitution and state laws yet here they are vying against each other, often in an irrational manner that puts into question the very laws they are sworn to uphold. Their own system of justice is in disarray and threatening "destruction of the Union."

On December 11, the Supreme Court did not allow the case to be filed, saying that Texas did not have standing to dispute election law in other states. Justice Alito, joined by Justice Thomas, raised a technical issue, saying the lawsuit could be filed, but not that the Court should agree to hear the case. Alito added, "I would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue."

Trump, in support of the Texas lawsuit, said: "This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!" and "We will soon be learning about the word 'courage', and saving our Country." After the ruling he condemned the Supreme Court saying, "No Wisdom, No Courage."

Prior to this, on December 8, the Supreme Court issued another ruling in which it refused to provide injunctive relief for one of Trump's Pennsylvania lawsuits. That lawsuit, also asking for the state legislature to decide the slate of electors, had been dismissed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It is rare for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in a state court ruling on state law.

Trump's persistence in striving for federal intervention into state-based elections is indicative of the restructuring of elections he and allies are striving for. The lawsuits, even when lost, are a means to promote the need for greater federal control over elections, including the casting, counting and certifying of votes.

Trump and allies are continuing their efforts to secure the power of the presidency. This includes issuing threats of violence against state officials, Republicans and Democrats alike. Trump is also in a position to foment violence using armed militias to attack the people and try to justify declaring a national emergency prior to the January 20 Inauguration Day for Biden. Already, one of these militias, the "Proud Boys," has torn down and burned Black Lives Matter banners at African-American churches in Washington, DC. Militia members are roaming the streets there and attacking people, with little interference from police. The many who have been fighting for justice and equality and defending the right to vote continue to stand ready to act if Trump acts to more broadly foment violence or refuse to leave the White House. 

Demonstrations in many cities are already planned for December 31 and January 20.

Voice of Revolution is a publication of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization.


1. States whose Attorneys General supported the Texas lawsuit include: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

2. States whose Attorneys General opposed the Texas lawsuit include: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, DC.

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Civil War Talk of Secession and Treason

The U.S. Civil War officially ended 155 years ago. Despite this, civil war talk mentioning secession and treason have become commonplace. The Texas lawsuit which called on the Supreme Court to vacate the votes cast for president in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin pitted groups of states against each other, 17 in support and 20 against, with both sides saying constitutional issues were being raised.

On hearing the Supreme Court ruling against the Texas lawsuit, the head of the Texas Republicans said: "Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution." In countering the lawsuit, state Attorneys General said it "risks the destruction of the Union," and that it was a "seditious abuse of the judicial process."

New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on December 11 targeting the 126 Republican House representatives that supported the Texas lawsuit as traitors. He tweeted, "Today I'm calling on House leaders to refuse to seat any Members trying to overturn the election and make Donald Trump an unelected dictator." He cited a Civil War amendment (Section 3 of the 14th Amendment), saying: the "Text of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids Members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States." It was written "to prevent the destruction of the United States from without and within," he said.[1] Refusing to seat the 126 members would "cleanse from our government ranks any traitors and others who would seek to destroy the Union," he said. A petition is now being widely circulated calling on people to urge Pelosi not to seat the representatives.

Pelosi has not responded directly. However, in a letter to colleagues December 11, she referenced the 126 House Republicans and said the Texas lawsuit "violates the principles enshrined in our American Democracy." She referred to Pennsylvania's statement about "seditious abuse of the judicial process," and concluded saying, "As Members of Congress, we take a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution. Republicans are subverting the Constitution by their reckless and fruitless assault on our democracy which threatens to seriously erode public trust in our most sacred democratic institutions."

This talk from both sides of the divide in fact makes it clear that the Constitution carries little authority in resolving disputes. Both sides claim to have its backing. The ease with which they throw accusations of secession and treason around or claim to defend "sacred democratic institutions" attests to the fact that they are going crazy unconcerned.

If the "sacred democratic institutions," including Congress and elections, were functioning to resolve disputes as intended when they were conceived, nobody would be calling on hooligan armed militias or appealing to the Supreme Court to intervene in state affairs or making calls to secede and form a new Union or to "cleanse Congress of traitors."

These institutions do not accord with today's conditions where the conflicts between contending private interests striving to profit from pay-the-rich schemes are insatiable and the times require people's empowerment.

Even if Trump leaves office, which he has not yet conceded, the conflicts among the ruling factions border on open violent civil war. Biden's election will not make them go away. His agenda is no less dictated by the ruling financial oligarchy and its demands to continuously pay the rich. The section of the financial oligarchy which seeks to dominate does not tolerate limitations on its power posed by different levels of authority -- federal, state, city-based and the like. This also includes any expressions of national sovereignty by countries which refuse to kowtow to narrow foreign private interests, especially those of the U.S. Though Biden and those aligned with him may express themselves in ways which are different to those used by Trump in implementing the U.S. imperialist agenda, his ways will also come into even greater contradiction with the demands of the U.S. working class and peoples and the demands of the peoples of the world. Subordinating social needs to the demands of the parasitic war economy is evident in the fact that while Congress overwhelmingly passed Pentagon funding of $740 billion for war and weapons, it has not passed COVID-19 relief for workers and persists with its horrific threat of government shutdown, now set for December 21.

The open disgrace this election brought on the U.S. "sacred democratic institutions," as Pelosi calls them, is sure to give rise to calls for election reforms so long as they do not serve to empower the people and, on the contrary, strengthen rule by the rich by introducing greater federal control of the electoral process. These may include a direct vote for president and elimination of the Electoral College. Most of the Trump lawsuits attack the current system of state-based elections, including how electors for the Electoral College are chosen and who decides disputes. Various officials in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and elsewhere are also calling for changes to election laws. All are being done in the name of preserving "our sacred democratic institutions," "democracy" and "restoring the public trust."

Only the people, by organizing themselves politically on the basis of their own agenda, can bring into being changes which provide for decision-making by the people from start to finish. This includes people's assemblies for setting policy and raising the claims the people are entitled to make by virtue of being human, and selecting representatives from among their peers so all have equal footing and information on problems and solutions.

The public lost trust in elections a long time ago, with the general consciousness being that they are of, by and for the rich. The solution is not restoring faith in the dysfunctional institutions, but to give birth to new ones. Developing collectives and organizations where members are equal and together make decisions, implement them and take responsibility for the results is the way of the future. 

Across the U.S., workers, women and youth of all national origins and from all walks of life are persisting in united efforts in the interests of the people. The battle for rights is a battle for empowerment, the main problem being taken up for solution, including demands for decision-making power and control of policing, budgets and health care.


1. Amendment 14, Section 3:

"No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion.

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Pentagon Funding for War and Weapons Passes, COVID-19 Relief for Workers Does Not

On December 11, Congress overwhelmingly passed $740.5 billion for the Pentagon, its weapons and wars. This is for one year only. The vote in the House of Representatives for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was 335-78 and in the Senate 84-13. Both are enough for the two-thirds majority needed to override a threatened veto by President Trump. He has ten days (not including Sundays), which means by December 23, to veto, sign or allow it to become law without his signature.

Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee made clear the pro-war stand of Congress when it comes to public funds: "There's a reason this bill gets done every single year for the last 59 years: It's the most important bill we'll do all year." The same is not true for COVID-19 relief.

According to Inhofe and the vote in Congress more generally, it is Pentagon funding "that makes our country more secure, and it supports our troops who defend it." The people, through their broad and many demonstrations, have raised that security is not guaranteed through the use of force and violence, abroad or at home. Affirming the peoples' rights, including rights to health care, housing, jobs, safety and peace, is what makes the country and world more secure, not troops and weapons.

The United States has by far the largest military budget on the planet, more than the next 10 countries combined. When funding for homeland security, policing and incarceration is included, it accounts for about 64.5 per cent of all federal discretionary funds. Various additional sources of funds for war in the general budget means the Pentagon funds are more than $1 trillion every year.

The vote by Congress reflects the war economy and war government of the U.S., which the president necessarily safeguards. Biden will do so, just as Obama, Bush and others did before him. It is an economy and government that guarantee funding for war and aggression and all kinds of interference abroad, militarized policing and violence at home, while leaving the well-being of the people to chance.

Horrific Threat of Government Shutdown Continues

While on December 18, Congress passed a two-day stop-gap measure which prolongs the threat of a full government shutdown until Monday, December 21, it remains unclear if agreement will be reached Sunday, December 20, for the omnibus budget bill or any funding for COVID-19 relief.

Congress passed the the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Pentagon but did not pass the overall budget or any COVID-19 relief. Instead another continuing resolution was passed to provide government funding until December 18, now extended to December 21. While this averted a government shutdown on December 11 and then again on December 18, it does nothing to ease the fears and anxiety of the people concerning their jobs, let alone funding for COVID-19 relief. This would include prioritizing funds for the people, such as free health care for all in need, free personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and other aspects.

Actions by health care and other frontline workers and many community organizations are also demanding a budget that guarantees basic human rights, not policing and more pay-the-rich schemes of various kinds for the giant monopolies. Were the budget to be decided by the people there is no doubt funding for the Pentagon would be greatly cut, the pay-the-rich schemes stopped and funding increased for social services.

The estimated $300 billion needed to cover the $1,200 cheques previously issued to most adults, very insufficient funding, would take just half the Pentagon budget. Many other countries provide monthly cheques covering up to 80 to 90 per cent of wages. Demands are also being made to ensure everyone in need, including the millions of undocumented immigrants and their children, is included in any cash payments.

With an economy as wealthy as the U.S., the problem is not a lack of funds, it is the direction of the country based on a war economy and government. It is private control of the wealth produced by working people by a handful of oligarchs for their own private interests. Indeed, the country's 651 billionaires have gained so much wealth just during the coronavirus pandemic that they could fully pay for a one-time $3,000 stimulus cheque for every child, woman and man in the United States -- and still be wealthier than they were before the crisis.

Refusing to address this reality of self-serving private ownership and the war economy, elected officials are making more threats that no relief or budget will be passed December 18, despite soaring COVID-19 cases and deaths, now more than 300,000, and hospitals packed and unable to provide for patients or workers. It is a crime.

Decision making needs to be in the hands of the people. Elected officials need to get out of the way or join the people as they step up organizing for their right to govern and decide.

(Photos: TML, VOR, California Nurses Assn)

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Nineteen Tragic Facts About the COVID-19 Economy

87 million

87 million workers will lose federally mandated COVID-19 sick leave at the end of December unless Congress acts to extend the law.

50 million

50 million people are now facing hunger at least once a month, including one in four children. The rate of adults who sometimes or often do not have enough to eat is double in Black and Latino homes, according to the Associated Press.

30 million

30 million people are facing eviction as of December 31, 2020 when the current Centers for Disease Control moratorium on evictions ends. There has been a 70 per cent increase in the number of people paying their rent by credit card.

16 million

16 million unemployed workers have already lost or will lose their federal unemployment benefits by December 26, 2020. 4.4 million people have already exhausted their federal benefits and another 12 million people stand to lose their unemployment benefits by December 26, 2020 unless Congress passes new laws, according to the Century Foundation.

12 million

As many as 12 million people who were entitled to the $1,200 stimulus cheque never received it.

10 million

Two major national law firms and several national restaurant chains received $10 million dollars each from the Paycheck Protection Program. More than 25 per cent of the $500 billion in aid went to just one per cent of borrowers.

7 million

7 million more Americans, about 11 per cent, now live in poverty, than did months ago when the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program was operating. (NBC News)

2.2 million

Since January, 2.2 million women have lost or quit their jobs or are no longer looking for work because mothers have been forced to choose between caring for their children and their jobs.

1.5 million

Of the record high 1.5 million homeless children in the U.S., over 400,000 have dropped off their school's radar during the pandemic. (Education Week)

1.4 million

One million four hundred thousand children have tested positive for COVID-19. (American Academy of Pediatrics)


One hundred and ten thousand restaurants have closed permanently, according to the National Restaurant Association.


At least 106,000 nursing home residents and staff died from COVID-19 as of early December, around 39 per cent of the overall deaths reported. (NBC News)

600 per cent

Failure rates in math and English jumped 600 per cent among low-income students in some school districts recently in Maryland. Nationally grade school students are falling significantly behind in math and the percentages may even be worse because a large percentage of students were not even present when testing was done. Several states report that many fewer children enrolled back in school this fall than were there a year ago.

400 per cent

COVID-19 rates are 400 per cent higher in state and federal prisons than among the general public and the death rate is more than twice as high. National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice.

400 per cent

Black, Hispanic and Native Americans are four times as likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than whites. (CNN)

200 per cent

The risk of being exposed to COVID-19 at the grocery store is twice as high in low-income neighborhoods as in high-income neighborhoods.

37 per cent

African Americans are 37 per cent more likely to die from COVID-19 than whites; Asians are 53 per cent more likely; Hispanics 16 per cent.

31 per cent

There has been a 31 per cent increase in mental health emergency room visits for children since the pandemic began and an overall 24 per cent increase in emergency room visits for children. (Centers for Disease Control)

16 per cent

College applications are down 16 per cent from first generation students and lower-income students.


In 13 states, the unemployment benefits provided fall below the federal poverty line of $245 a week according to the Government Accountability Office.

(Popular Resistance, December 11, 2020. Photo: Stimulus Checks or Strike)

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Matters of Importance in Latin America and the Caribbean

ALBA: 16 Years of Life

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples' Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP) held its XVIII ordinary Summit virtually this time on December 14, with the President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro as moderator. The meeting commemorated the organization's founding in Havana, exactly 16 years earlier, by the presidents of Cuba, Fidel Castro, and Venezuela, Hugo Chávez who conceived of it as an anti-neoliberal, supportive, non-competitive and popular alternative to the absolute predominance of profit and the market promoted by the United States through the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The FTAA was defeated the following year, in 2005, at the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, by the joint action of Presidents Chávez, Kirchner, Lula, Tabaré Vázquez and Duarte Frutos, backed by popular mobilization.

ALBA has benefited from important achievements such as Operation Miracle, which brought eye operations to improve the sight of more than 8 million low-income Latin Americans and Caribbean people; the eradication of illiteracy in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua and its appreciable decrease in other States of the Alliance, and the genetic-social clinical study of the population in six member countries. Of particular importance was the creation in Cuba of the Latin American School of Medicine and then a counterpart of it in Venezuela, which have contributed tens of thousands of doctors with humanistic training to remote places on four continents where they had never seen a doctor, including black communities in the United States.

Maduro said that the foreign ministries have been working together on a set of proposals and documents to greet the year 2021 with strength and dynamism. He put great importance on the relaunch of Petrocaribe and its economic area, which could not be done in 2020 due to the unyielding U.S. economic blockade under Trump that prevents Venezuela from exporting oil and the Caribbean states from importing it. The timing of the summit was a chiaroscuro, taking place under the ominous weight of the international health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, during which the rich countries of the West have shown unparalleled selfishness, procuring health services just for themselves at a time when solidarity and cooperation are most necessary. But, at the same time, when the rebellion of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean against neo-liberal governments is on the rise, as can be clearly seen in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Guatemala and Haiti.

At the same time, the Bolivian people have resumed their liberating path after their resounding victory in the October 18 elections, which brought Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca to the presidency and vice-presidency of the country. Together with the return of Evo Morales, it constitutes an important defeat for imperialism, the right-wing forces and the Áñez dictatorship. Less than two months later, the Venezuelan people spoke in their momentous elections of December 6, which renewed the National Assembly, granted a large majority in that body to the Great Patriotic Pole and dealt a sharp blow to the destabilization strategy of the United States and the international right against the Bolivarian Revolution. Equally important was the re-election of Ralph Gonsalves and Timothy Harris as Prime Ministers of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Kitts and Nevis, veteran ALBA member states in the Eastern Caribbean.

The summit was mainly dedicated to analyzing the regional political situation, coordinating efforts among its member states to strengthen the fight against the pandemic, and assessing the important reincorporation of Bolivia as a member. The president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, offered to provide epidemiological advice to the sister governments of the organization, share experiences with them on tackling COVID-19 and put at their disposal Cuba's successful protocols for combatting the virus with biotechnological medicines. The governments of Cuba and Venezuela were put in charge of organizing a common bank of medications and, mainly, vaccines against the novel coronavirus. The summit condemned the redoubling of the blockades and economic harassment of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua by the United States.

In addition to those already mentioned, some of the main agreements reached related to the reactivation of the Economic Council of ALBA, and of the Sucre as the exchange currency, the activation of cryptocurrencies, the strengthening of Petrocaribe and the ALBA Bank, which offers assistance and financing to member states. The Summit also agreed to elect as the group's executive secretary the renowned Bolivian diplomat Sacha Llorenti, who was his country's representative to the UN.

(La Jornada, December 17, 2020. Translated from original Spanish and slightly edited for accuracy by TML. Photo: ALBA)

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Day of the Titans and Heroic Guerrillas
in White Coats

María Inés Álvarez Garay is a professor and collaborator of the Cuban Medical Brigade in Gambia.

Latin American Medicine Day is celebrated in Cuba and other countries of the Patria Grande in commemoration of the birth of the wise Cuban epidemiologist Carlos Juan Finlay.

Finlay was born on December 3, 1833 in Puerto Príncipe, Camagüey. His main contribution to world science was his explanation of the mode of transmission of yellow fever: the female of the mosquito species known today as Aedes Aegypti.

He earned universal gratitude, not only for this work, but also because he discovered and solved the terrible problem of childhood tetanus.

His example is an encouragement for those who, like he did, dedicate their lives to science, research, fighting disease, and making health care an everyday right of humanity.

Also in his honour, the government of Cuba created the "Carlos J. Finlay" Microbiology Prize that UNESCO awards every two years to researchers whose work on issues related to microbiology (immunology, molecular biology, genetics and others) has contributed in a prominent way to health. Its objective is to promote research and advances in microbiology.

At the event held for the 20th anniversary of the Speleological Society of Cuba, at the Academy of Sciences in Havana, on January 15, 1960, our dear Fidel expressed:

"The future of our country must necessarily be a future of persons of science, it must be a future of persons of thought, because it is precisely what we are cultivating the most; what we are cultivating the most are opportunities for intelligence."

Today Cuba has solid development in biotechnology research. It has fostered a strong scientific branch dedicated to the research and production of medical-pharmaceutical products obtained through genetic engineering and biotechnology, a solid industry of medicines and equipment for general medical use, in addition to currently having four vaccine projects against COVID-19 in different phases of clinical trials.

It is undeniable that there is no blockade or material limitations that can prevent the development of intelligence, when you have the will and the possibility of exercising thought. When, in addition, there is a social system that favors the full development of the human person; with a Revolution that has clearly expressed the political will to develop science, fostering the environment for it, creating the conditions and seeking the necessary resources; and with a Commander-in-Chief like ours, who was able to be ahead of his time and recognize the value of science for the development of humanity and the Homeland.

In the fight against COVID-19, the current president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, acknowledged that the results that have been achieved in different areas "constitute a reliable example of the contribution that Cuban science is making to this battle."

And then there are our titans and heroic guerrillas in white coats, who, scattered throughout the world, tirelessly fight against diseases, who, fully engaging their humanistic consciousness and solidarity, delve into science looking for a better future for all, defending the everyday right to health.

Cuban medical team in Gambia to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

The Cuban Medical Brigade in Gambia is a continuation of the example of Carlos Juan Finlay, of the values we inherited from our eternal commander Fidel, our internationalist principles and our unconditional love to save lives and help those most in need with altruism and dignity.

Today we feel with pride that our path through this African country is well-trodden with actions and facts that speak for themselves, hundreds of thousands of people treated, lives recovered, successful surgeries, successful deliveries, dental care, diagnostic tests performed, that have made history in a mission that has already been reaping the love and gratitude of a people who know how to value their work and who are eternally grateful for their collaboration for more than 24 years.

Congratulations on Medicine Day!

(Rebelión, December 3, 2020. Translated from original Spanish by TML. Photos: Radio Rebelde, Cubacoopera Gambia)

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Mexico's Water in the Hands of Private Interests

The control over Mexico's water by wealthy private interests is an important issue facing the Mexican people.

A study entitled The Water Millionaires (Los millonarios del agua), authored by Wilfrido Gómez Arias and Andrea Moctezuma and published November 23 by the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), gives an overview of the situation based on analysis of data from the National Water Commission (Conagua) based on the Public Registry of Water Rights (Repda) for the use of surface and underground streams.

The report informs that 3,304 companies, civil society organizations and individuals use concessions totalling 13,183,000 cubic hectometres of water per year, mostly drawn from over-exploited aquifers. This amounts to 22.3 per cent of Mexico's water resources.

There are 6,247 users that each have a concession to extract around one million cubic metres, which represents 61.4 percent of the concessioned waters throughout the country. Among these are Petróleos Mexicanos and the Federal Electricity Commission, the report states, as well as breweries, steelmakers, agro-industries, mining companies, paper companies, automotive companies, bottlers, among other sectors across Mexico, especially in  central Mexico, the southeast, the northwest and the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Mexican operations of ArcelorMittal (the world's largest steelmaker) use enough water each year to fill 100 and a half Azteca stadiums (which have a capacity of 87,523 people). It mainly extracts water in the Las Truchas common lands, where it has its largest open pit mine, and in the steel complex located in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán. The water is primarily used for the production of steel, with the magnitude of the extraction of this natural resource reflected in the constant demands from surrounding communities for the remediation of lands affected by mining and its contamination. The gold mining companies GoldCorp and Buenavista, both part of Grupo México, are also major consumers of water. Contamination of water with arsenic, often used in gold mining, a chemical which can cause cancers of the skin, bladder, liver, kidneys and lungs, is also a problem in numerous communities.

Kimberly-Clark is another of the "water millionaires." It manufactures and distributes cleaning, personal care and hygiene products. It has been denounced for polluting rivers and springs in Veracruz, Querétaro and Michoacán, and has a concession of 27.3 million cubic metres of water per year.

There are banking institutions such as BBVA, which has water concessions in over-exploited aquifers, with 1.6 million cubic metres a year in the Atemajac, near Guadalajara, and Banco Azteca, with 2.2 million in the Mexico Valley. "The growing participation of banks as users of large water concessions continues to be a matter of concern" states the report, noting the possibility of the "creation of an international water market and control over water as a commodity becoming increasingly important, in the face of a future imminent degradation of that resource."

The researchers explain that there are no legal limits regarding the volumes of water that can be concessioned to individuals. This is due to the fact that in 1992 the Mexican Congress approved a National Water Law in order to give private investors greater certainty about their water rights. From 1993 to January 2020, Conagua has granted a total of 514,684 titles and permits, distributed among 361,600 users.

The National Water Law allows individuals to have water that is concessioned for different uses, which also helps them save millions of pesos in taxes by misreporting how the water has been used. In addition, one user might have concessions granted in the name of relatives, partners or representatives. Companies like Coca-Cola and Grupo Lala take advantage of this loophole, according to the investigation. "Hence, some companies have hoarded large amounts of water" to the detriment of the quality of the water and of the common good.

Regulations are required to close these loopholes to avoid "speculation" about the supply and demand for water. This would also allow Conagua to stop granting concessions on over-exploited aquifers and, likewise, guarantee the population their human right to water, the report states.

According to the researchers, of the 653 aquifers that exist in the country, 115 are over exploited. In 99 of them, large Latin American companies have concessions.

A study published by the statistics portal Statista highlighted that Mexico is one of the countries with the highest risk of running out of water. Based on data from the 2020 Ecological Threat Register, the country's water stress is one of the highest in Latin America, mainly due to the strong demand that exists in domestic, industrial and agricultural consumption.

(With files from La Jornada and news agencies. Quotations translated from original Spanish by TML.)

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Concern in Peru Over Increasing Number
of Missing Women and Girls

November 25, 2020. Women march in Cusco, Peru on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Peru's ombudsman's office recently expressed its concerns about the alarming increase in the number of women and girls who went missing in the country this year. According to its latest report "What happened to them?" published on December 12, at least 5,016 women, girls and adolescents have been reported missing between January and November 2020.

The office reported that 1,506 women and 3,510 girls and teenagers have disappeared during the past 11 months. In other words, an average of 15 women a day, or one woman every two hours, become victims of this serious crime.

In November alone, 190 women and 390 minors were reported missing. The figures represent an increase of 20 per cent and 12 per cent in disappearance of women and minors, respectively, as compared to the previous month.

The report noted that Lima, Arequipa, Apurimac, Callao, Cusco, and Piura are the departments with the highest number of missing women.

November 1, 2020. Memorial to victims of femicide.

Furthermore, the ombudsman's office warned about the connection between the disappearances and the other serious crimes of violence against women. The public official highlighted that of the 127 victims of femicide registered in the last 11 months, 33 victims had previously been reported missing.

Likewise, the office pointed out that so far in 2020, there have been 188 attempted femicides and 50 violent deaths, which are still under investigation.

Additionally, there has been a significant increase in cases of domestic violence, rape and child sexual abuse this year.

According to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, women's helpline #100 received over 11,000 calls to report sexual violence from January to November. Additionally, according to the Ministry of Health, 994 girls under 14 years of age were impregnated after being raped during the past 11 months.

December 14, 2020. Tribute organized for women who were sexually abused by police, who have not been held responsible.

The rates of femicide and violence against women across the region of Latin America and the Caribbean are at record highs. This year the incidents of violence towards women and girls have been aggravated due to the compulsory preventative home-quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, November 25, as well as on December 10, International Human Rights Day, thousands of women, feminists, women's rights and human rights activists from across the region took to the streets and social media networks to urge governments to step up measures to address all forms of gender-based violence.

(People's Dispatch. Photos: F. Tristan, GTC Contreras, Mano Alzado) 

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COVID-19 Update

Ending the Year in the Red Zone and
Under Lockdown 

Total cases of COVID-19 in Canada as of December 19, 2020 -- click to enlarge. (PHAC)

The COVID-19 pandemic is generally worsening across the country. The total case count has now passed half a million as records continue to be set in various provinces for numbers of new daily cases, amidst a situation where neo-liberal governments continue to equivocate on providing the necessary health and safety measures in health care facilities and long-term care homes, or are outright attacking the workers and the public health care system.

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam issued a statement on December 19, in which she gave an overview of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country. She explained:

"Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 495,346 cases of COVID-19, including 14,040 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though many areas continue to experience high infection rates, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

"At this time, there are 75,695 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 6,653 new cases (Dec 11-17). COVID-19 is spreading among people of all ages, with high infection rates across all age groups. However, nationally, infection rates remain highest among those aged 80 years and older who are at highest risk for severe outcomes.

"Likewise, outbreaks continue to occur in high-risk populations and communities, including hospitals and long-term care homes, congregate living settings, Indigenous communities, and more remote areas of the country. The downstream impacts of weeks and months of elevated disease activity continues to be seen in still rising numbers of severe illness and death, significant disruptions to health services and ongoing challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies.

"Nationally, hospitalizations and deaths, which tend to lag behind increased disease activity by one to several weeks are still increasing. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 3,194 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent seven-day period (Dec 11-17), including 650 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 115 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation continues to burden local health care resources, particularly in areas where infection rates are highest. These impacts affect everyone, as the health care workforce and health system bear a heavy strain, important elective medical procedures are delayed or postponed, adding to pre-existing backlogs.

"This week, we welcomed more exciting news on the vaccine front, from the first Canadians being vaccinated against COVID-19 to the prospect of early delivery of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, pending regulatory approval assuring quality, safety and effectiveness.

"Even as we move into this hopeful next chapter of Canada's COVID-19 response, our collective efforts to bend the curve remain crucial to our success. The latest longer range forecasting, using a model from Simon Fraser University, forecasts that we could have over 8,000 cases daily by the beginning of January 2021. While lower than last week, these numbers are still significant and put us on a trajectory for a strong resurgence for the next two months. This underscores that the partnership between public health and the public at large is still vitally important to bringing down the infection rate. Our continued efforts are not only helping public health authorities to quickly interrupt chains of transmission, they also assist the broader health workforce to plan for and roll out one of the most complex immunization campaigns in Canada's history.

"While we continue to prepare the way for widespread and lasting control of COVID-19 through safe and effective vaccines, Canadians are urged to continue with individual practices that keep us and our families safer: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, follow local public health advice and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing, hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a face mask as appropriate (including when you cannot consistently keep two metres apart from people outside your immediate household)."

Opioid Crisis Exacerbated by Pandemic

Dr. Tam in remarks on December 18 highlighted how the opioid and drug overdose crisis has worsened during the pandemic:

"National data released this week on opioid and stimulant-related harms is a tragic reminder of the broader impacts of this pandemic, including the worsening of the ongoing overdose crisis. From April to June, there were 1,628 opioid toxicity deaths in Canada, which is the highest number recorded in a single quarter since national surveillance began in 2016. Now more than ever, we must work together to curb this devastating trend, never forgetting that each and every opioid toxicity death represents a life cut short and a person whose loss is grieved by family, friends and community.

"The overdose crisis, and substance use more broadly, is a highly complex health and social issue. We know, however, that there are interventions that can and do save lives. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were seeing early signs that opioid toxicity deaths were declining in parts of the country. Sadly, as the latest data show, we are now seeing a loss in these hard fought gains, as COVID-19 and associated public health measures have impacted the toxic illegal drug supply as well as the accessibility of substance use supports.

"We can do more to save lives -- both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond -- and must redouble our collective efforts to expand the availability of evidence-based harm reduction services -- like supervised consumption sites and take home naloxone programs -- and of treatment options, including safer, pharmaceutical alternatives to the toxic illegal drug supply.


As concerns COVID-19 vaccinations, the Public Health Agency of Canada in a statement to CBC News stated that "Based on current data, by the end of Q3 2021, Canada projects having a sufficient number of doses to be able to offer a vaccination to every Canadian." This date is based on the fact that the Canadian government has signed purchase agreements with seven different pharmaceutical companies for up to 418 million doses of the various shots under development. This is said to be hedging bets in case some vaccines do not pan out as well as to give the possibility of donations to other countries. These companies are Pfizer-BioNTech (U.S.-Germany), Moderna (U.S.), Medicago (Canada), University of Oxford-AstraZeneca (UK-Sweden), Johnson & Johnson (U.S.), Novavax (U.S.) and Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline (France-Britain).

Traditionally, anti-viral vaccines are based on weakened versions of a virus that is used to stimulate an immune response to the actual virus and thus convey immunity to infection from the live virus. However, the Pfizer vaccine (the first to be approved for use in Canada) and the Moderna vaccine instead carry the instructions for making a distinct spike protein on the outside of the coronavirus in the form of single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA). The spike protein is then produced within the human body to generate an immune response.

The vaccines being tested by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are somewhat similar, except the coronavirus spike protein is spliced into another virus called an adenovirus in the form of double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). This method was used to produce a vaccine for Ebola. Techniques based on RNA and DNA are said to have had a relatively shorter development time, as they are based on genetic sequencing of COVID-19 that was provided by China in January.

The Novavax and Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline vaccines contain a coronavirus protein to stimulate an immune response.

The Medicago vaccine uses "living plants as bioreactors to produce non-infectious versions of viruses (called Virus-like Particles, or VLPs)."

Presently, Canada has acquired 4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires recipients to receive two doses 21 days apart for maximum efficacy. The first doses were administered on December 14, to those deemed to be in priority groups. Every province is responsible for their own vaccine deployments. Preliminary guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) says that key populations to prioritize for vaccination are "those at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19" due to "advanced age" and "other high-risk conditions (to be defined as the evidence base evolves)." The NACI also advises prioritizing vaccinations for "those most likely to transmit COVID-19 to those at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 and workers essential to maintaining the COVID-19 response," as well as "those contributing to the maintenance of other essential services for the functioning of society" and also "those whose living or working conditions put them at elevated risk of infection and where infection could have disproportionate consequences, including Indigenous communities."

(With files from Public Health Canada, New York Times, Novavax, Medicago.)

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Note to Our Readers

With this issue, TML Weekly completes its publication for 2020. It will resume on January 30, 2021. We wish you a safe holiday and encourage everyone to take the time to consider and discuss the serious developments taking place in Canada and around the world, and how to effectively intervene in the new year.

Please continue to send us your reports, photos and views, and keep up to date with the CPC(M-L) website and calendars of events for important announcements.

We thank you for your support in 2020 and call on you to consolidate it in the new year by sending your reports and views and also making an effort to increase the readership of TML Weekly and other Party publications as well as by helping to fund this important work.

Wishing you all safe holidays and all the best in the New Year.

Technical and Editorial Staff of TML Weekly.

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