No. 41October 20, 2019
The electoral process is said to be democratic. Generally this is understood to mean that it brings into being rule by the majority. Why then is the result of this electoral process the preservation of the rule of the minority over the majority? This is a problem Canadians from all walks of life are thinking about.
Minority and majority in this case refer to the division of society between a minority class that rules and a majority class which is ruled over; a minority ruling class and a majority social class of those who do not rule. The ruling class generally enjoys wealth and privilege, while the class of those who do not rule is mostly comprised of working people who are neither particularly wealthy nor privileged. In fact, many are neither wealthy nor privileged at all, and far too many are downright poor, oppressed and exploited in extreme ways. They form the majority of the population, yet they are ruled by those who make up a minority of the population.
A question arises from this situation. When the people form the majority of the population, why does a system called democratic perpetuate a situation in which a minority rules over the majority and takes decisions the majority opposes? Something must be inherent to the system called representative democracy for it to maintain this relationship of power of the minority over the majority.
Representative democracy enables political parties to form a party government. Through elections, the electors choose from the candidates the parties present. The government is formed from the party that can command the confidence of the legislature, usually by virtue of acquiring the most seats or getting others to not bring the government down. The government brought to power in this way is said to represent the majority. We are told it rules with the consent of the people who, we are to presume, agree to be governed in a manner that gives them no say over any of the decisions which are taken.
But it is a fraud and everyone knows it, which has deepened the crisis in which the democratic institutions are mired. Everyone knows the majority of electors do not choose who is brought to power because they exercise no control over any part of the process to select the party candidates, set the party agendas, or hold to account the party once in power. To say they hold the parties to account when they cast their vote is to beg the question because their vote is not what decides the outcome of an election.
Even with all this awareness, the question remains: how does this political process assert this rule by a minority as democracy, and preserve the illusion of rule by the majority?
To compound the problem, the pollsters are predicting a minority government in this election. How will a party government comprised of a minority of elected candidates be converted into a majority and somehow preserve the illusion of rule by the majority, which has the consent of the governed? It goes without saying that voters will not control what happens, as they do not control any part of the process.
The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada will continue and broaden the discussion of how the minority social class perpetuates its rule over the majority social class using the illusion of a democratic party-dominated electoral system which claims to speak in our name. The Party will also continue to post the views and experience of the working people on this matter.
The horse-trading begins
The seat projections, according to the pollsters, will require a lot of horse-trading to give rise to any government at all. Let us consider various scenarios.
According to parliamentary convention, whatever party can command the confidence of the House of Commons forms the government, whether it has the majority of seats or not. The pollsters predict the Liberals will get the most seats with less than one-third of the votes cast. This falls well below majority status. Will they rule as a minority and hope to command the confidence of the House by giving others a reason to approve their Speech from the Throne, budgets and other legislation? Or will they choose to barter with the NDP and the Green Party which, if the seat projections are accurate, means they would then command a majority of seats?
It takes 170 seats to command a majority of the seats in the House of Commons. As of October 19, the Liberals are predicted to win 131 seats, the NDP 42 and the Greens 3, bringing the total to 176. The Bloc is predicted to elect up to 34 candidates. Can the Bloc be enticed to join a coalition government by receiving a plum promise of some sort that will claim to defend Quebec’s interests? Or will the Liberals back off before even attempting such a thing due to a furor of accusations saying that they are getting into bed with the devil?
For their part, the Conservatives are predicted to win 125 seats, meaning they would be 45 short of a majority of seats in the House of Commons and would have to band together with others who would agree to not bring the government down in exchange for something they want. The NDP has stated they will not help the Conservatives form a government no matter what. The Greens have stated that they would back a Conservative government if it “got serious” about climate change. But that would not give the Conservatives enough seats by a long shot. What about the Bloc? Could it receive a no-pipeline-through-Quebec pledge from the PCs in exchange for agreeing to prop up a Conservative minority government? Such a pledge might be considered so long as the Energy East pipeline remains economically unviable, but the scenario is still very problematic given the precedent it would set and the pro-pipeline propaganda of the Conservatives west of Ontario during the campaign. Further, Quebec-bashing would erupt and make such a deafening din any such move seems unlikely indeed.
Another scenario is that unless the Liberal party goes down to defeat at the hands of a Conservative surge, it may decide not to form a coalition with any other party. It could govern as a minority, such as the Liberals did from 2004 to 2006 and the Harperites did in two consecutive minority governments from 2006 to 2011. Harper had the two longest lasting federal minority governments in Canadian history without forming a coalition with any other party. The Liberals, Bloc and NDP held the majority balance of power but so long as one party considered there was no advantage to itself to bring down the government and force an election, Harper was able to continue to govern as a minority government.
Thinking things through in this manner and based on current seat projections, quite possibly, the Liberals and Conservatives together will prop each other up. We will hear high-sounding phrases about “stable government,” “respecting the decision of the people,” “national interest,” the need to defend the democratic institutions and so forth. They will then claim to represent the majority to carry on ruling as if nothing has changed. And, in fact, little will have changed. They espouse virtually the same direction for the economy — to pay the rich, and step up the anti-social offensive — which considers the working people and social programs a cost to be eliminated. Any differences between one faction and the other will require horse-trading behind the backs of the people, but to expect smooth sailing would be naive.
The basic agenda of both parties is dictated not by this or that leader but by the international financial oligarchy itself, by the oligopolies in the key sectors of the economy — financial, energy, transportation, mining, agribusiness, retail, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, forestry, fishing, IT, etc. Such a government will carry on paying the rich with huge handouts, cutting back on social programs and privatizing them and public services, and integrating Canada into U.S. Homeland Security and the U.S. war machine.
When it comes to energy policy, the Conservatives and Liberals have the same stand on the Trans Mountain pipeline. They both oppose the right of the Indigenous peoples to decide and withhold their consent. On the Energy East pipeline, again they both oppose Quebec’s right to decide if a pipeline goes through Quebec or not. In sum, both the Liberals and Conservatives champion different aspects of the agenda of the energy oligarchs. The Liberals support a carbon tax, which has generally been supported by the energy oligarchs as a lucrative pay-the-rich scheme and fraud of taking some sort of action on the issue of climate change, while the Conservatives oppose it, at least in words. For their part, the Conservatives champion the agenda of big oil and gas to rewrite the regulatory regimes for energy and other projects, consistent with the drive for as many as five pipelines, in addition to the TMX, and to double bitumen production in Alberta.
In terms of foreign policy, both the Liberals and Conservatives are in agreement to enforce U.S-led sanctions and other actions against sovereign states. They are both enthusiastic to trample international laws in the mud and commit human rights abuses to protect mining interests and achieve regime change where they see fit. In accordance with U.S. dictate, both have declared China, Russia, Iran and others the main enemies posing a danger to Canada’s national interests and security and demand Canadians line up behind one or another faction of the financial oligarchy against others.
When it comes to foreign policy, none of the parties which form the cartel party system, and especially not the Liberals and Conservatives, permit any discussion that deviates from the role of appeasing the U.S. striving for global hegemony. All have imposed a wall of silence over Canada’s participation in aggressive alliances, such as NATO and NORAD, and the role Canada plays to promote warmongering doctrines such as “Responsibility to Protect,” “humanitarian invasions,” and the like. All of this is done within the fraud that these parties represent the rule of the majority because between them they command the most seats in Parliament.
Of course, a government which rules by decree or expects to successfully command the confidence of the House of Commons on the basis of horse-trading cannot be expected to be stable. The in-fighting of narrow private interests over control of the decision-making power is so fierce no power-sharing agreement, even within a single faction, let alone between factions, is either stable of trustworthy. The inability of what are called the democratic institutions to sort out problems between individuals and between individuals and collectives will deepen their credibility and legitimacy crisis, leading the ruling class to take increasingly desperate measures.
Also, the predictions of a minority government could very well be wrong. The pollsters have repeatedly failed to predict seat totals for the past twenty years. This is a result of the dismantling of the traditional democratic institutions, which featured a party in power and a party in opposition, and a certain alternation of their roles, while they closed ranks against the people whenever they saw their rule challenged. The striving of factions of the financial oligarchy to control the decision-making process in favour of narrow private interests has overwhelmed those old institutions. The functions of the state are generally known to now be in private hands. The decisions taken in legislatures and governments are dictated from “above and abroad,” which is to say by supranational private interests and U.S. war interests.
Even the parties that form the cartel party system are run by private interests. Some even pride themselves for having no members, while those who are members know that neither they nor their riding associations have any say whatsoever over what their parties do or say. The institutions called democratic are in a veritable crisis. This makes the idea of achieving a stable peaceful transition from one government to another anathema, as can be seen most dramatically at this time in both the United States and Britain.
These institutions have lost their raison d’être. Democratic renewal is the order of the day so that the people bring themselves to power. The days of party government are over and the people need to give them a decisive kick so that the crisis is resolved in their own favour, not in a manner which perpetuates the rule of a privileged minority over the people.
Everyone has seen that in this election the rotten cartel parties are in deeper crisis than ever. One or another form of corruption parading as cartel parties will be brought to power on October 21. The entire scenario of either a majority or minority government claiming to be representative of the majority is rife with pitfalls and deception for the people.
The scenario being prepared is that by not bringing in a stable majority government, the people themselves will be responsible for destabilizing Canada. According to faulty self-serving logic, only a Liberal majority government or a Conservative majority government can give Canadians and Quebeckers what they want. The people are being told that it would be futile to vote for the Bloc Québécois or any other party as a protest vote because those parties will never gain power or be in a position to bring stability and satisfy the demands of the people.
The ruling elite are preparing to blame the people and have them pay for the outcome of this election. Following the election, those in control can be expected to say that the people have given the government a mandate to attack them during its time in office or its hands are tied preventing it from dealing with the pressing problems facing the people because it lacks a stable majority. All the arguments are self-serving, as governments of the cartel parties never represent the people irrespective of the circumstances. More draconian measures can be expected in the name of exceptional circumstances.
Whatever happens, the people must prepare to take their striving for empowerment to greater heights.
The election has been an act of desperation by the ruling class intent on achieving a majority, if only people would get onside. Far from it, the longer it goes on, the more people are determined to cast a ballot which makes a statement that they reject the corrupt politics of both the Liberals and Conservatives. On the eve of the election, it can be expected that everything will be thrown at Canadians and Quebeckers to hide the fact that the trend that people do not want to give either the Liberals or Conservatives their endorsement represents a striving to empower themselves. It reveals the need for democratic renewal so that sovereignty, the decision-making power, is vested in the people not in forces which claim to represent them but do not. The parties which form the cartel party system, especially the Liberals and Conservatives, are seen to represent the kind of corrupt, lying politics people hate. They stand for the neo-liberal, anti-social, nation-wrecking, environmentally destructive, warmongering agenda of narrow private interests, which people hate.
Meanwhile, the people persist in their search for ways to turn the tide in their favour, to send a message of protest in favour of their own demands. Many people have thus far stymied the aim of the ruling elites to disorient them to side with either the Liberals or the Conservatives, to be rallied to the cause of those who want to continue the anti-social offensive.
This protest vote is very important. What is needed now is for the workers and the people to use their independent and collective initiatives to arm themselves to face the dangers which lie ahead. Our vote must represent our concerns, our demands for a change in the direction of the economy, against war and in defence of the rights of all.
In this election, the Marxist-Leninists have worked as best they can to advance the cause of democratic renewal. They have called on the workers, youth and women of Quebec and Canada to refuse to give anyone the right to speak on their behalf. There have been many successful efforts to organize meetings, discussions and interviews where working people express their own concerns and how to deal with them. Organizing a protest vote is part and parcel of the striving of the people for democratic renewal. It expresses a refusal to permit anyone involved in the cartel party system to speak in their name and contributes to the advance of their own striving to empower themselves.
In this election, vote for democratic renewal! Vote ML or for candidates other than the Liberals and Conservatives or the party of Maxime Bernier, who also does not represent what the people need. Let us continue organizing, riding by riding, and in places of work and where seniors gather to make sure neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives are given a majority to do as they please.
Quebeckers Will Cast a Protest Vote Against the Liberal and Conservative Anti-Social and Anti-Quebec Offensive
In this election, the ruling class has gone to great lengths to prevent any independent initiative of the people of Quebec by forcing them to side with one or the other of the cartel parties. The major assault has been on the collective consciousness of the Quebec people to work out what favours them within the circumstances. But it has been to no avail. Instead, once again, the Quebec people are closing ranks by finding the ways and means to cast their ballot in a manner which makes a meaningful statement of rejection of the anti-social and anti-Quebec assault.
The October 7 and 10 “leaders’ debates,” along with the concerted effort of the media experts after that, then the polls announcing this or that impact, were in many respects part of an assault to organize a coup against the people in Quebec, not dissimilar to what took place during the 1995 referendum. Their desperation to usurp the federal powers is such that they made a Quebec law a main issue on which Canadian voters should determine who to vote for. During the debates, the attempt was to make the Legault government’s “five demands” the point of reference, not the needs and demands of workers, youth, women, national minorities, Indigenous peoples, and all the collectives of the people so as to achieve them by giving society a pro-social aim and direction. This attempt to rile up Canadians on Quebec identity only caused many Quebeckers to close ranks against the Liberals and Conservatives and search for ways to turn the tide against them, and to send a message of protest in favour of their own interests. In this election, they are looking for a way to knock out the Liberals and Conservatives to express a protest which is what a vote for the Bloc Québécois represents: a block to acting against Quebec with impunity. As is the case across the country, working people want neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives nor any condescending “saviour.” Even in some Montreal ridings where identity politics are used to divide the people and especially the youth, the youth have been discussing and working out how to cast their ballot to defeat the Liberals and not permit the rulers to divert them with identity politics.
By all indications, Quebeckers will be casting a protest vote against the anti-social offensive of the Liberals and Conservatives despite the usual blackmail that to do so is a waste because the Bloc Québécois will never form a majority in the federal parliament. An attempt is also being made to discourage people voting Bloc, or for candidates other than the Liberals and Conservatives or the party of Maxime Bernier, who also does not represent what the people want. One way this is done is by presenting the Bloc as the representative of the Legault government and what it claims are the interests of Quebeckers — the so-called Quebec consensus. But the essence of the protest vote of the Quebec people is an expression of the people’s striving for democratic renewal so that they can control the decisions which affect their lives. This is why Marxist-Leninist party candidates are organizing riding by riding to make sure neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives are given a majority to do as they please.
While Quebeckers can once again give expression to a collective consciousness during an election by massively rejecting the Liberals and Conservatives and in many places electing a Bloc candidate, it is clear that in order to defend themselves, workers, women and youth need to put forward their own independent politics as an organized political force in which they speak for themselves to set the agenda and put forward solutions which favour them. Only then will the stranglehold of a cartel party system be ended once and for all. This stranglehold is based on the claim that parties the working people do not control will represent them. The Legault government does not represent them and the Bloc says it represents the Legault government. Nobody controls what that means. It is therefore certain that after the election, the Quebec people will continue to give expression to their demands for a change in the direction of the economy, against war, against the destruction of the natural environment, in defence of the rights of the Indigenous peoples, of justice for our women, our elders, our children and our youth and for people of all origins across Canada and in all countries.
In this election, cast a protest vote against the neo-liberal, anti-social offensive, nation-wrecking and self-serving party politics and corruption by rejecting the Liberals and Conservatives! All out to support the right of the Quebec people to represent themselves! Oppose Quebec-bashing!
The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) has filed a Charter challenge against amendments to the Canada Elections Act enacted by the Liberal government in the name of opposing “fake news.” The impugned section prohibits any “person or entity” from making or publishing a false statement about “a candidate, a prospective candidate, the leader of a political party or a public figure associated with a political party” during an election. It applies “regardless of the place where the false statement is made or published.”
The amendments set out the types of falsities that are prohibited. They outlaw statements falsely claiming that the protected individuals “committed an offence” under any provincial or federal law or regulation and statements about an individual’s “citizenship, place of birth, education, professional qualification or membership in a group or association.” The statement must be made “with the intention of affecting the results of an election.” Conviction allows for fines of up to $50,000 and up to five years imprisonment.
Prior to the amendment, the Canada Elections Act stated: “No person shall, with the intention of affecting the results of an election, knowingly make or publish any false statement of fact in relation to the personal character or conduct of a candidate or prospective candidate.”
The CCF has requested an expedited hearing, arguing that the Court’s decision “will affect the scope of Canadians’ freedom to express themselves without fear of punishment by the state.”
In its application, the CCF describes the provisions as “a blunt and unrefined instrument that treats sarcastic quips and deliberate lies as one and the same — both are subject to a blanket ban. It thus stifles valuable social and political dialogue.” The CCF gives examples of statements that might be subject to prosecution, such as referring to a candidate as “uneducated” or stating that a party leader is “not qualified to be Prime Minister,” or stating an incumbent candidate’s activities have been “criminal.” CCF argues that while a criminal charge or conviction are matters of fact, stating that a political figure’s actions are “criminal” or suggesting a political figure’s actions are a “breach of trust” are a matter of opinion and to prohibit such comments violates freedom of expression.
The CCF states that the Charter guarantee to freedom of speech and expression must be “content-neutral,” arguing that “the state [must] generally refrain from intervening in the search for truth.” “That endeavor must be left to society itself, without state intervention. When Parliament requires courts to announce what is ‘true’ and what is ‘false’ it oversteps its constitutional role. It trenches on the unimpeded diffusion of information that is essential to a healthy, functioning democracy, and fundamental to any democratic elections.”
The CCF also challenges the removal of “knowingly” that existed in the previous provisions against making false statements. It states, “Statements that are made or published honestly and in good faith may now be prosecuted if the state subsequently deems that to have been factually inaccurate.”
An Ontario Superior Court judge says he would grant an injunction against a government-organized election debate that does not include all candidates. Such debates violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which governments are obliged to uphold, he says. The written decision by Justice James Stribopoulos was issued late October 11 in response to an application filed by Greg Vezina, leader of the None of the Above Party and independent candidate in Mississauga Centre.
Vezina was also a candidate in Mississauga in the June 2018 provincial election. During that election the City of Mississauga organized a debate excluding Vezina and 10 other smaller party and independent candidates. For this federal election, the City announced a debate for the six ridings in Mississauga for September 23, inviting only Conservative, Green, Liberal and NDP candidates, but it was cancelled when not enough of the invitees agreed to participate. On September 30, Vezina filed his application for an injunction to stop the City from holding such a debate or allowing city property to be used for one.
In response to Vezina’s application, the City of Mississauga filed documents stating it had no intention of organizing debates for the remaining period of this election. Consequently, the judge dismissed Vezina’s application, stating that there was nothing against which he could issue an injunction. “Speculation about a potential Charter violation taking place in future is not something that furnishes a basis for the court to issue an injunction,” he wrote.
However, Justice Stribopoulos wrote in his ruling: “If such a debate were scheduled, I would not hesitate in granting Mr. Vezina the injunctive relief he is seeking.”
In his arguments, Judge Stribopoulos wrote: “The idea that the government would take responsibility for organizing political debates and, in the process, invite certain candidates for public office to participate while excluding others, raises serious constitutional concerns.” “The organization of political debates by the government in the lead-up to an election, with government actors choosing which candidates will be permitted to participate and which candidates will be excluded, represents a significant intrusion on the expressive and political rights guaranteed to all citizens under the Charter.”
To my mind, the election picture is beginning to look a bit brighter. I think people are waking up as to the country’s state of affairs and are looking for a change, which means a change in the way that people vote. At this time, the picture is not all blue and red, and that’s a good thing. We need a change and it’s only the people who have the ability to bring it about. In New Brunswick and elsewhere, the state of workers’ rights is abysmal. Shouldn’t it be a major issue in the election and who is going to raise it if not the workers themselves? The workers must speak out, the voice of the people must be heard. That’s the only way that things are going to change.
As the picture in this election continues to change, Trudeau and Scheer are trying as hard as they can to steer the issues away from the problems of the people. They are turning the issues into a personal thing, into who you like the most. Trudeau’s argument that if you don’t vote Liberal, it means that you are actually voting Conservative, is a weak one. The Liberals are running scared as they see that they’re not going to get what they thought they would. Scheer is doing the same. Trudeau is obviously just reading from a card, he’s not speaking from the heart and Scheer is also increasingly speaking the same way.
My recommendation would be not to vote for the Liberals or the Conservatives. They all make these big promises and then nothing pans out. People are dissatisfied with the country’s state of affairs and are looking for a way to express it. That’s positive.
A metallurgical worker in New Brunswick
Certain issues won’t go away because there is a basis for them. So long as they are not resolved they come back to haunt those who stand in the way of their resolution. The issue of Quebec’s right to self-determination is one such issue.
A lot is said to attack Quebeckers in this election so that people are divided and cannot develop their own agenda and speak in their own name. The Anglo-Canadian media stereotyped those who are allegedly “French” and presumably dyed-in-the wool reactionaries and those who are allegedly “English” and presumably espouse modern values. Immigrants who come from countries with either an English or French connection or neither are lumped on one side or the other as best serves the purposes of those doing the lumping. To portray those who fought for the Republic of Quebec in the mid-nineteenth century against British rule and were brutally suppressed as being backward and racist and unwilling to accept national minorities and that the issue for them is one of the French against the English and other people is a racist concoction. It served the British colonial state so much that it was enshrined in the British North America Act in 1867 and has never been removed. Far from it, the notion of rights with reasonable limits according to what suits the ruling elites is enshrined in the Charter of 1982.
The attacks levelled against Quebeckers in fact target their legitimate right to self-determination as a people.
A reader in Montreal
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