No. 50October 22, 2021
The 44th Parliament will begin sitting at 1:00 pm on November 22, the Prime Minister’s Office announced in a press release on October 15. That is just over two months after the federal election. The session will start with the Throne Speech, delivered by Governor General Mary May Simon.
The new cabinet will be sworn in by the Governor General at Rideau Hall on October 26. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Chrystia Freeland will keep her positions as Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister but no other cabinet posts have been announced.
The press release reiterates that the cabinet will remain gender balanced. Four cabinet ministers from the previous government, all women, are no longer members of Parliament. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities did not run again. Three lost their seats: Bernadette Jordan who was Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard; Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development; and Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors.
As for the agenda that the new Trudeau minority government will pursue, the Prime Minister is quoted in the October 15 press release as follows:
“From finishing the fight against COVID-19 to getting the job done on $10-a-day child care for families across the country, Canadians chose to move forward in September.
“Together, we will keep working hard to beat this virus and get Canadians vaccinated, create jobs and grow the middle class, put home ownership back in reach, accelerate climate action, and take important steps forward on the path of reconciliation.
“Our government will continue to be there for Canadians in this crisis, and we will work to move Canada forward — for everyone.”
In other words, nobody knows.
In spite of the fact that the only confirmed ministers are Prime Minister Trudeau and Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, a great deal of activity, including participation in the decision-making of international bodies, is being carried out. All of this activity is going on despite the fact that technically the “caretaker convention” is still in place.
The “caretaker convention” is said to be “a well-established constitutional principle” that governments “should act with restraint from the day that the election is called (i.e., the issuing of the writs) to the day that a new government is sworn in, or when an election result returning the incumbent government is clear.”
The election result returning the Trudeau government is clear but given its minority status, this does not mean Trudeau should carry on making decisions which do not have the consent of Parliament. According to the “caretaker convention,” “to the extent possible, government activity in matters of policy, expenditure, and appointments should be restricted to matters that are at least one of the following: (1) routine; (2) non-controversial; (3) urgent or in the public interest; (4) reversible by a new government without undue cost or disruption; or (5) agreed to by opposition parties after consultation.”
The new Liberal minority government’s apparent lack of concern for carrying out business while the “caretaker convention” is still in place, without having to get the approval of Parliament, and with ministers not yet confirmed as holding the same or any portfolio, shows how much it cares about even the appearance of operating by the rules or conventions of the game. It is like Trudeau’s decision to call an election based on self-serving considerations in violation of an all-party agreement that to do so during the pandemic would be irresponsible. It does not do much for the government’s legitimacy or credibility. The fact that Parliament is reconvened at the pleasure of the same government, which in this case will be almost a month after the cabinet is sworn in and even more business will have taken place, shows that it is also about the legitimacy of the very system of party government, where executive rule and the exercise of prerogative powers are the norm to advance the bidding of the oligopolies in their cutthroat competition with rivals.
In this vein, after the election Finance Minister Freeland travelled to Washington, DC to meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on October 12. They are said to have discussed “the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development]-G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” and the agreement on international tax reform signed on October 8; and “also discussed climate action and carbon border adjustments; the unequal impact the pandemic has had on certain people, particularly women, and the need for early learning and child care; electric vehicle incentives; as well as “Buy America” and how Canada-U.S. trade is mutually beneficial.”
It is worth noting that Canada’s agenda is in lockstep with that of the U.S., including no doubt how to manage the fallout from the revelations contained in the Pandora Papers. One wonders if Freeland is a servant of the Canadian government or of the U.S. administration. She went from there to the annual meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting, and the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting, all in Washington on October 13 and 14.
Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Mary Ng, has also participated in international meetings. She attended the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting and a World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting in Paris on October 5 and 6, where she also convened a meeting of the “Ottawa Group,” an allegedly Canada-led group of a small number of WTO member countries discussing “reform of the WTO.” In other words, another clique within the world body scheming to impose an agenda on the WTO which favours U.S. imperialist interests to the detriment of the aim of the WTO to treat all countries equally. She also met with Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative; and attended the G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting in Sorrento, Italy, on October 13; and the G7 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting in London, UK, on October 22.
Clearly, the Trudeau cabal which forms the government is comfortable doing whatever pleases its masters, even without Parliament being convened. Flouting the reason conventions were established in the first place — to limit the powers of executive rule — doesn’t do much for the crisis of legitimacy or credibility in which the anachronistic liberal democratic institutions are mired.
1. This meeting takes place right after the release of the Pandora Papers. The CBC reports that the 11.9 million files “show 35 current or former world leaders and more than 300 other public officials around the globe who have held assets in or through tax havens. Former British prime minister Tony Blair, the current prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Kenya, and the King of Jordan have all benefited from the anonymity or tax advantages of their offshore holdings, the records reveal.”
The files consist of everything from emails to bank statements, incorporation documents and shareholder registries. They are from 14 firms that provide offshore services, and were leaked by a confidential source to the Washington, DC-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ has provided access to the files to 150 of its partner news organizations around the world, including CBC/Radio-Canada and the Toronto Star in Canada.
So far, the CBC and the Star have identified the names of at least 500 Canadian citizens or residents on the list.
A controversy has arisen about remarks by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the “Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism — Remember-ReAct,” an event held in Sweden on October 13. In a speech delivered by video, the Prime Minister blamed “extremist groups on the far-right and the far-left” for a rise in “hatred, fear and mistrust.” Trudeau told the audience, “We’re in a time right now where around the world we see an increase of polarization, of extremism, or radicalization everywhere, including in some of the most open, liberal democracies in the world. In our elections, in our public discourse and in mainstream communications — let alone social media — we’re seeing a rise in intolerance. We see the organizations of extremist groups on the far-right and the far-left that are pushing white supremacy, intolerance, radicalization, promoting hatred, fear and mistrust across borders but within borders, as well.”
Trudeau speaks as if he is the victim or a neutral party in the promotion of state-organized hate, racism and violence against women. His new period in government will reveal a lot about what Trudeau is up to with his talk of “extremist groups of the far-left and far-right,” associating both with hot button terms like white supremacy, radicalization, promotion of hatred, etc. For him it all furthers a self-serving purpose, as his prior attempts to blame those he calls “extremists” for things that he imperiously rejected or reneged on (proportional representation), or rooted out and banned (“foreign interference” and “hate speech”) show. This is a typical example of the slander and attempts at defamation of what is called “far-left extremism” without identifying who is referred to.
It has become the new modus operandi of the imperialists and reactionaries in their promotion of fearmongering and warmongering against China and Russia. The Government of Canada and its Prime Minister and cartel parties provide prime examples of speaking about things that cannot be verified. They do this when they seek to accuse those they perceive to be enemies, of whatever crime they have in mind, especially to divert attention from the fact that they themselves are committing such acts.
It is a crass method of lowering the level of political discourse to such an extent that it becomes nonexistent. They then blame extremists for inciting passions and causing divisions when they are the ones hyping up hysteria in order to avoid being held to account on a rational basis.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network condemned Justin Trudeau’s remarks, stating that his equation of “anti-racists and anti-fascists with white supremacists and the far-right … is disinformation. It is irresponsible. And it warrants an apology.”
“The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) isn’t apologizing. In a statement to PressProgress, the PMO indicated Trudeau stands behind his remarks.” PressProgress added that PMO Press Secretary Alex Wellstead reiterated Trudeau’s position but declined to identify any groups that the Prime Minister has in mind, nor who the government defines as “extremist groups.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in particular has come forward as a spokesperson for the obsession of the ruling class with extremist groups to divert attention from the civil war raging within the ranks of the U.S. ruling class itself — which spills over into the partisan competition for power within Canada.
Whenever rational argument fails Trudeau — which is all of the time — he resorts to repeating the mantras he has been given which now includes ranting about his obsession. In 2017, when he reneged on his electoral promise to end the first-past-the-post electoral system and unilaterally went against the recommendation of an all-party committee of the House of Commons to introduce a system of proportional representation, he declared that proportional representation would pose a threat to Canada by allowing “extremist” parties to win seats in the House of Commons. He implied that only those forces that join in “big tent” parties, which according to him represent everyone’s opinions and interests, are legitimate. Never mind that anyone in his own party, parliamentary caucus and cabinet who does not toe the line is persona non grata.
Now, to divert attention from the elitist and unrepresentative character of the party-dominated system of elections and governance, Trudeau is obsessing about “foreign interference” and “extremism” which the official circles say pose the threat to liberal democracy. In fact, it is the anti-democratic features of the unfettered liberal democratic institutions which are doing an excellent job of achieving that aim all by themselves. Trudeau went so far as to task the Minister of Democratic Institutions with deploying national security and secret police forces (CSE and CSIS) to monitor political discourse both during and between elections.
As Parliament is set to resume, the Liberals are threatening to move ahead with their “anti-hate” legislation which will strengthen the state monitoring and control of social media and the internet in general. Canadians are sure to step up their opposition to this anti-democratic direction of the ruling elite.
Canadians have never conciliated with this typical modus operandi of the ruling elite to blame the people for state-organized racism, or the institutional promotion and acceptance of violence against women and factional violence to camouflage their attack on freedom of conscience, speech and political liberties in general, and rule by decree. A main aim is to not permit the people to address the need for political renewal. However, the need for political renewal so that the democratic process and institutions are under the control of the people, not a phony system of representation, is an objective need. It exists because of the clash between the Authority — which no longer accords with the demands of the times — and the Conditions. The danger to the democratic institutions is not from a mental construct of “far-left extremism” or “far-right extremism” but from the corruption inherent to the institutions which can no longer objectively justify their existence.
Justin Trudeau’s internationally declared statement of intolerance of what constitutes a threat to democracy is an escalation in the offensive of the economically powerful national and supranational interests that have taken over the institutions of governance wherever they can.
1. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN) is a Canadian non-profit organization that monitors hate groups and hate crimes in Canada.
2. In 2013, the Broadbent Institute launched PressProgress, which describes itself as “Canada’s most shared source for progressive news and information.”
The Conservative and Labour parties in Britain recently held conferences which demonstrated their incapacity to address a single problem facing the peoples of England, Scotland or Wales, let alone Ireland where Britain continues to claim dominance over the north.
The slogan “Build Back Better” that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has adopted means that the old pre-pandemic normal is to be brought back, but with an increased onslaught on working people, their lives, working conditions and well-being. To the demands of so many sections of the working people that the government should address the problems it has created for them, the government’s response is that they should be more proud to be British. It is as if that will cause the problems to disappear! Its effect has been to increase the people’s anger and frustration while the awareness that the government does not listen is also increasing.
As for the Labour Party, under Sir Keir Starmer, it deliberately shies away from tackling injustice. The fraudulent logic given is that to do so would be to divide people. This is despite the overwhelming sentiment amongst the movements of the working class and people for justice and to defend the rights of all.
Above all, the Labour Party makes sure that there is no questioning of the outdated Westminster system with its so-called “representative democracy.” Under this system, MPs pledge allegiance to the sovereign not to the electorate, thus representing not the people’s concerns but rather a decadent ruling class which is self-serving and superfluous. At this time, this old society is wholly geared to paying the rich and the need for democratic renewal is palpable.
“Electability” is made the goal of the parties, an “electability” which ensures the perpetuation of a system where the people have no say. It is an “electability” in which what is just is turned on its head. When Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Labour Party, every aspect of what he stood for, including opposition to war, was to be crushed and the full power of the state was put behind doing just that.
The cartel parties’ concern for “electability” is a fraud covering over that private interests rule the roost in society, and the cartel parties in the Westminster consensus serve these interests or do nothing to challenge them.
A cruel joke is played on the working class and people in which, rather than people uniting to voice their solutions to real problems, the powers-that-be divide them into “left” versus “right” and attempt to get the people’s movements to express their allegiances on this basis, while the cartel parties allegedly represent the “mainstream.”
All this emphasizes the necessity for the people’s voice to be heard, for the working class and people to speak in their own name, dealing with their actual problems and putting forward actual solutions. To strengthen this trend, to make it conscious, is the key to turning things around in the people’s favour in the coming period.
(With file from Workers’ Weekly, newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist))
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