No. 36October 16, 2019
In election periods, the state machinery, including the monopoly media and many non-governmental organizations, strive to direct all attention to those who are called the leaders of the major political parties or to individual candidates, and, for the most part, their misdeeds. This poses the issue in an election as one of personalities. It is another means to block the people from thinking and speaking for themselves and waging the battle for democratic renewal. To disinform and divert those fighting for change, attention is directed to Trudeau or Scheer and that defeating them is crucial. Anxiety is fostered by the Trudeau camp that unless Scheer is stopped there will be no democracy, with all kinds of speculation as to what that could mean. So too, the Scheer camp creates anxiety that if the measures Justin Trudeau is taking on carbon taxes are not ended, or deficits are not controlled with more tax cuts and austerity measures, disaster will overcome us. When the desired results do not occur, the people are blamed because they have moved to the “right” or to the “left.” The working class is then divided according to who they voted for and branded accordingly.
In looking at the elections from the vantage point of the working people, it is clear that the people do not decide the electoral process. They do not decide the candidates, the agenda, the massive amounts spent, the issues or the process. Thus, most certainly, their vote does not decide the outcome. It is not the people who decide who is Prime Minister or the Cabinet ministers, all of whom wield prerogative powers. Everything is decided through private deals and shenanigans. Once the electoral process fails to produce a champion, as seems to be the case in this election, then horse trading begins: a coalition of some kind of government in exchange for nobody knows what. The exception in this election is once again Quebec where the polls suggest a collective consciousness is taking shape to vote for the Bloc Québécois to protest both the Liberal and Conservative parties.
Canadians cannot tell anything about the stands individuals will take based on the votes they receive in an election, or from the large abstention rate either. Votes cannot be aggregated to proclaim a “mandate” the people give nor do they confer the consent of the governed. People vote for particular candidates, or do not vote, for any number of reasons which have little to do with what they do in the world when it comes to taking stands and defending rights. This is evident in the many demonstrations and protest actions held across the country in defence of rights, the environment, against war and so on.
The polls predicting how people will vote and stories about the divisions based on what the votes stand for serve to hide the actual relations that exist in the society between humans and humans and between humans and nature. They are meant to eliminate the work for empowerment and divert people into defending the existing institutions. One solution is to use one’s own voice to speak in one’s own name so that those who usurp power by saying they speak in our name cannot get away with it. In this election, the MLPC calls on Canadians to empower themselves by opposing both the Liberals and Conservatives so that their rejection is visible for all to see. They can vote ML (Marxist-Leninist) for democratic renewal or for an independent or small party candidate where possible to express their rejection of the cartel party system which pays the rich and dismantles social programs while it embroils Canada in aggression and war abroad.
Vote ML to Empower Yourself Now!
Promotion of foreign interference in elections is used to say the problems with elections have nothing to do with the dysfunctional institutions and outdated definitions of democracy whereby the minority rule over the majority and call it majority rule. On the contrary, it is said that elections must be protected from an external, foreign force the people have no control over. People are to direct their fire away from a political process that disempowers them and instead join the rulers in targeting China or Russia or Iran or some other country. This not only constitutes war preparations as part of the U.S. war machine but also involves resurrecting Cold War anti-communism. This refers to opposition from the state and others to the people’s organized resistance and even elected officials who are declared to be promoters of foreign inspired “fringe ideologies.”
Canada’s security measures follow in tandem with those in the United States. Alongside continuing to target what is branded as radical Islam and anti-Semitism, the U.S. government is now focusing on what are called conspiracy theorists while Justin Trudeau repeatedly speaks of fringe ideologies who merit exclusion from the cartel party system. By presenting current problems as a matter of extremes, the focus is in part a means to further criminalize resistance. On August 1, a report issued by the FBI’s Phoenix office added people who promote conspiracy theories to the list of potential terrorists. The FBI is not saying somebody has to be involved in a conspiracy. It is targeting ideological beliefs as the source of violent action.
The report says, “The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts.” It also says the FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 U.S. presidential election. This sets the stage for government interference in demonstrations during the elections, in the name of “stopping extremists.” Keep in mind that since 2010, the U.S. federal government authorized the FBI to conduct intrusive inspections, including the use of informants and surveillance with only an allegation of potential violence, a far lower standard than the usual probable cause. The agency itself can make the allegations, meaning unlimited use of informants and surveillance of all kinds. Also keep in mind that Canada has followed in lock-step with the U.S. by permiting defamation and disruption of social media and similar practices.
In May, Michael C. McGarrity, Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division, told the U.S. Congress that the FBI now “classifies domestic terrorism threats into four main categories: racially motivated violent extremism, anti-government/anti-authority extremism, animal rights/environmental extremism, and abortion extremism,” the last being a term the FBI uses to classify both pro-choice and anti-abortion “extremists.” “Racially motivated” extremism includes what the FBI has termed “black identity extremism” and “white supremacy extremism.” In the U.S. being convicted as a terrorist carries the death penalty.
In the light of these developments, the words and actions of cartel parties, governments, monopoly-controlled media and some non-government organizations which accuse people of being racist, anti-immigrant and prone to violence in no way enhance the people’s security but instead jeopardize it. What the developments reveal is the need for peoples empowerment because the greatest loss of control the people experience is the denial of their right to participate in taking decisions that affect their lives. This is true even during an election. Elections are used to generate an atmosphere of hysteria, fear and loss of control by depriving people of the ability to think and discuss calmly about what is happening in Canada and internationally. Everyone is left at the mercy of secret decisions and agencies over which the people exercise no control.
This is why it is so important to take further actions which develop the independent politics of the working class. The resolution of society’s problems begins with the authorities recognizing the right of the people to participate in the decisions which affect them so that they can exercise control over their lives. Workers should not have to fight to be able to speak out about the matters which concern them and they should not be threatened with reprisals.
Forty-nine years ago on October 16, 1970, the federal Liberal government led by Pierre Elliott Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act. Trudeau declared a state of “apprehended insurrection” in response to kidnappings and mailbox bombings taking place in Quebec. The War Measures Act gave the police the power to act without warrants and to detain people indefinitely without charges or trial.
Even before Trudeau put in force the War Measures Act, the police had already carried out more than 1,000 raids from October 7 to 10. Also, using the provisions of the National Defence Act, the federal government deployed the army on the streets in Ottawa on October 12 and in Montreal three days later. On October 13, 1970 in front of Parliament, a reporter asked Trudeau how far he would go in suspending democratic rights. The Prime Minister replied, “Just watch me.”
Upon invoking the War Measures Act, the military appeared in force in Quebec in full combat gear. The police carried out a further 3,068 raids and searches without warrants, arrested 465 additional people and held them without charges. The vast majority of the people arrested were eventually released without charge after 21 days while the rest were detained for longer periods.
The subsequent Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Activities of the RCMP (commonly referred to as the McDonald Commission into the “wrong-doings” of the RCMP) revealed how the RCMP themselves were behind the violent events that took place prior, during and after 1970. The RCMP’s participation in secret bombings and giving direction and means to various individuals and gangs to carry out violent acts were justified in the name of catching those engaged in illegal activities. The real reason was in fact to suppress the political movement of the people of Quebec for self-determination.
The McDonald Commission found that the RCMP itself issued false statements in the name of the Front de Liberation du Québec (FLQ) and other groups calling for acts of violence. State agents provided arms and explosives to incite FLQ members and others to commit violence. State agents were found to be directly responsible for violent acts to the extent that one was injured when a bomb he was planting exploded prematurely. The government used the violent actions of its agents and their proxies as a reason to declare a state of “apprehended insurrection,” invoke the War Measures Act and take other actions to deprive the people of their rights.
After 1970, the state intensified its campaign to criminalize dissent and block the people from participating in politics. State agents burned down a barn in Quebec used by political activists; they vandalized and burned bookstores operated by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and arrested more than 2,000 of its activists; they fabricated tax records of CPC(M-L) founder and leader Hardial Bains in an attempt to frame and jail him, and engaged in other illegal methods to stop the working class and its allies from organizing politically.
Also, the McDonald Commission proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the state was behind the racist attacks in 1970 and after committed by groups called the KKK, Western Guard and other white supremacist names. Has the role of police agents not been revealed repeatedly since 9/11, as being behind attacks and conspiracies to commit violence, which are blamed on Muslim youth? Agents of the state incite various individuals to carry out illegal activities and even provide the means for them to do so. The leading role of police agents in committing and provoking violence was clearly the case at the time of the Summit of the Americas in Montebello, Quebec, in the summer of 2007 and again during G20 Summit in Toronto in 2010. The Native people also have a history of being infiltrated and violated and then blamed for being violent. The history of Canada is rife with such examples, which have led to the warranted conclusion that when acts of political and racist violence take place, it is the state that should be blamed, not the people.
When the RCMP and other police and spy agencies themselves commit crimes or incite individuals to commit crimes and justify it in the name of catching those who pose a danger to society, is something not seriously wrong? The state agents then use the crimes they themselves have incited or directly organized to justify yet more exceptional measures of the state to deprive people of their rights. Should the people not be seriously concerned about what is taking place?
The history of the use of the War Measures Act in Canada confirms that self-serving reasons are used to invoke it. Today exceptional measures taken in the name of national security and national interest are the new normal. Legislation is enacted by governments no matter which cartel party is in power that deprives Canadians of the ability to exercise rights which belong to them by virtue of being human. This includes basic things like the right to negotiate wages and working conditions or to access funding for education or healthcare, or child care or seniors’ care or home care or housing, shelter from abuse and all the other aspects which affect the lives of Canadians and their standard of living.
Actions taken often deprive the citizenry of the ability to affirm their civil rights. It has become commonplace to justify police interference in lives of the people when the government says Canada’s national interest and security are at stake as a result of a terrorist threat or economic disruption or other excuse.
By Not Voting for the Liberals or Conservatives, Voters Can Express Their Dissatisfaction with How the Country Is Being Run
I think the option of not voting for the Liberal and the Conservatives in this election is an obvious choice. In Quebec, we’re able to vote for the Bloc to remove Liberal and Conservative MPs. In Ontario, they can vote NDP and we’ll see if they end up doing that. To not vote Liberal or Conservative is to express our dissatisfaction with the way the country is being run.
Faced with the possibility of losing the election, Trudeau is arguing in favour of strategic voting. He claims that if people don’t vote for him, it’s like handing their vote over to the Conservatives. I don’t accept that argument, even though if we vote Liberal, it can create problems for the Conservatives. It’s like telling people that they have no other choice than to leave the Liberals or the Conservatives in power. If the Liberal Party wants to prove that it’s a good party and that it should stay in power, then it must prove that it deserves to be in power. These parties make promises when they’re not in power and then renege on them when they come to power. Trudeau is talking like someone who’s in trouble and is looking for a way out at the end of the campaign. Trudeau lost his credibility by trying to make us believe he is for the environment and then buying a pipeline. In asking us to vote strategically, he’s defending his party’s power. He’s also relying on the fact that in Canada we do not have proportional representation, so we’re always being pushed to vote against someone rather than for something we hold dear to our hearts.
Scheer is like Harper. They asked him to appear a little more to the centre than Harper, but that’s just a tactic, as his positions are just as right-wing as Harper’s were. He says he’ll ensure that his party does not reopen the abortion issue, that he’ll control his MPs, but it’s not a credible argument. Women’s rights must be protected. What strikes me is that the Conservatives are doing a lot of lying. They’ve adopted Trump’s tactic that if you will tell a lie often enough, people will end up believing it’s the truth. The Conservatives say that Scheer is now being more aggressive in the campaign, however the fact is that he’s more insulting.
In our region, we had an 18-month lockout because of Alcoa and the issue of the right of workers to negotiate their conditions has not even been addressed in this election.
I think it’s a positive thing that more and more people are saying that they will not vote for the Liberals or the Conservatives. They’re not happy with the way the country is being run and they’re expressing it.
A metallurgical sector worker in Mauricie
The majority of workers providing health care, seniors care, and care and services for people with disabilities and the most vulnerable people in society are women. All of these public services and the workers who provide them are under attack from under funding, privatization and the refusal to negotiate in good faith. While professionals and others in the public health care system are mostly unionized, they are currently facing governments who seek to deprive them of all the protections they have put in place. And many caregivers work for private establishments or individuals where they are often targets of unscrupulous practices where they are left to fend for themselves as best they can. The biggest block they face, unionized or not, is their lack of control over the laws which affect their lives. They are simply kept out of the decision-making process. Thus, governments are being met with resistance to this assault on care-caregivers and women are in the front ranks of the fight. When they champion their own rights, de facto they defend the rights of all — their families, the people they care for and the society which depends on them for the services they provide.
Because they do not control the decisions which governments take, workers who provide health care, seniors’ care and social services for vulnerable children face many impediments to their work. This includes inadequate funding, unsustainable workloads and inadequate staffing. The impact on the workers and the people they care for is considerable and underscores the inhuman direction which the ruling elite have set for the economy. Solutions are needed and how to get them enforced begins when the caregivers speak out, including about their fight to uphold their right to wages and working conditions commensurate with their work and contribution to society.
So too, the experience of migrant workers, many of whom are women under the care workers program, is an indictment of Canada’s inhumane treatment of women and vulnerable people. These workers are fighting for permanent residency status on arrival in Canada. Their experience is that while the party in power may change, their temporary status remains, keeping them in a vulnerable position, with an increasing number becoming what are called undocumented workers. To blame migrant workers for all kinds of crimes such as overloading the system is a cruel and irresponsible move, given the laws which keep them as a super-exploited and oppressed section of the Canadian working class.
The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada calls on Canadians to become informed on the working conditions and fight of caregivers and what actions can be taken to defend the rights of those in need of care and those providing that care.
More than 100 people took part in a militant picket at the Century Park supportive living home in Vegreville, Alberta on October 7 to demand that the private operator cease and desist from its attacks on the rights of workers and residents. Vegreville is a town of about 6,000 located about 100 km east of Edmonton.
The private operator Optima Living is contracting out the work of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), health care aides (HCAs) and cooks to a second private BC company. The company noted in the layoff notices that this would give a “greater return to our shareholders.” The 53 workers at Century Park are represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). They were issued layoff notices in early September, while negotiations were taking place for a new collective agreement. AUPE will challenge the company’s action at the labour board as constituting an illegal layoff.
Funding for supportive living facilities comes from accommodation fees charged to seniors and public funding, the portion of the wealth created by working people which is claimed by governments. The current levels of funding and staffing for seniors’ care are a scandal and a great concern to Albertans as well as people across Canada. Cutting the level of care and the wages and working conditions of staff to serve private interests is a form of corruption and should be illegal. But the Alberta government has made it clear that they are all for it, saying the workers should find other jobs or “retrain for the trades.”
The workers and townspeople point out that the town worked hard to get a supportive living facility in Vegreville, and people are not going to stand by while the care standards, wages and working conditions are driven down to benefit private interests. They point out that Century Park used to be publicly owned, and was built in part by the Vegreville community. Since 2008 it has been passed through the hands of three private operators, a situation which AUPE points out is quite common in rural Alberta.
Through their resistance, the workers at Century Park and their community are putting forward a modern and humane vision of seniors’ care. Why are private operators increasingly put in charge of looking after our neighbours, friends and family across the province, AUPE asks.
The United Conservative government very arrogantly thinks it has rural Alberta in its pocket and can declare it has a mandate to do whatever it wishes. But people are not buying it. Renewal Update spoke to community members on the picket line who explained how care has deteriorated as private operators siphon off more and more of already inadequate funding. They say their community has a right to a say in how the seniors in their communities are cared for. Workers are affirming their right to the conditions needed to provide modern and humane care to those who worked hard all their lives and have a right to dignity in retirement. They are speaking up their own name and refusing to accept the mantra from government that there is no money, and no alternative to handing the care of seniors over to those whose only motive is to line their own pockets.
“The social wealth workers produce is a continuum in the modern socialized economy that goes towards individual well-being and the collective well-being of all members of society. Working people obviously fulfil their duty to work or the economy would have totally collapsed. By fulfilling that duty, they have the right to live in dignity from birth to passing away.” (Renewal Update No. 33, October 13, 2019)
I wanted to thank Renewal Update for raising a very serious question which is completely off the radar during these elections and that is the rights of the elderly to retire in security and dignity. The plight of the elderly is multifaceted mainly because of the fact that basic human rights with regards to health services, to housing and to financial security are trampled in the mud by those who claim to “represent” us, much in the way a lawyer represents someone and the person “represented” no longer has a word to say on the matter at hand.
At retirement, we quickly discover that nothing is made easy for someone who has fulfilled one’s duty to work a great part of one’s life. It’s up to that person to defend his or her dignity on an almost daily basis. Often it is presented that retirees who find part-time jobs after a lifetime of being part of the workforce do it as leisure, but for many, this is far from being the case. It is a necessity. Among other things, why should a worker’s income from his retirement pension and other pension plans be taxed? Another problem is the price of housing. In the Outaouais region, the housing crisis is partly due to the fact that apartments and houses are not affordable, and that is especially true for someone living alone. As for residences, they are also, for the most part, incredibly unaffordable, especially for someone living solely on the Canada and Quebec pension plan. It is interesting to note that one of the bigger companies providing residence services, Chartwell Retirement Residences, was formally called Chartwell Seniors Housing Real Estate Investment Trust. This says a lot about the state of the economy today where everything is run through investment conglomerates, the likes of which consider workers as costs, the elderly purely and simply as a source of revenue and the social wealth the workers produce as something put at their disposal to run away with. Another difficulty, of course, is access to health care. The elderly are often the most vulnerable in a context of emergency wait times, lack of hospital beds, etc. As for those who want to resort to alternative medicines, these are not covered.
What I appreciate above all in the way Renewal Update raises the issue is the call to organize, because as for all other members of society, the only way to defend our dignity and our right to security in retirement is to continue taking up the banner of the struggle in defence of the rights of all.
A reader in Gatineau
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