Socialist Action remarks at the Hands Off Venezuela rally at US Consulate on September 16, 2017
Good afternoon. My name is Elizabeth Byce and I am speaking to you on behalf of Socialist Action. I am a retired member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and a past Secretary of the Toronto Labour Council.
Here’s a riddle: How can you tell when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is lying? Answer: When you see his lips moving.
Trudeau promised electoral reform. He lied!
Trudeau promised no pipelines without the consent of indigenous peoples. He lied!
He promised action on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. He lied!
He promised thousands of good, new jobs through massive investment in public works. He lied!
Trudeau promised to reverse Stephen Harper’s pro-war policies. He lied!
Trudeau said “Canada is back” on the world stage as a force for peace. Well, that’s a double lie.
The Canadian state was never a force for peace. Just ask the people of Congo, of Palestine, of the Syrian Golan Heights. Just ask the people of Vietnam, of Afghanistan, of Libya, and Haiti. Just ask the Acadians, the Quebecois, and the indigenous people of Turtle Island.
Canada is a colonial-settler, racist, imperialist state. Worldwide, it props up the capitalist system of plunder and oppression. It promotes Canadian mining corporations, like HudBay Minerals, that poison the soil and water of farmers in Central and South America, in Africa and in East Asia. Canadian imperialism exploits migrant workers, and it condones hazardous working conditions here.
In its first budget, the Trudeau Liberal government increased military spending by 70%. Do you think that was a step for social justice? Was it a feminist act? Or was it mainly to line the pockets of the war industry? The military is the biggest polluter on Earth.
Justin Trudeau is not just the continuation of Stephen Harper. He is exceeding the Tories by putting more Canadian troops in Eastern Europe, by backing the reactionary regime in Kiev, by supporting the western war on Syria, by heating up the cold war against Russia, China and North Korea. Finally, there is the naked imperialism of Washington, fully backed by Ottawa, towards the sovereign nation of Venezuela.
The lying Liberals in Ottawa have no business lecturing Venezuela on the subject of constitutional reform. On July 30 over 8 million people voted in Venezuela to elect a National Constituent Assembly, despite a richly funded right wing campaign of boycott and sabotage. Now the new Assembly is moving to entrench the rights of workers, farmers, women and indigenous peoples.
The violence and scarcities that exist in Venezuela are mainly the product of actions by the right wing business elite, and their backers on Wall Street and Bay Street. Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland have to answer for their despicable alliance with Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson.
One more thing. Equally disgusting is the position of the New Democratic Party. Its Foreign Affairs Critic, Helen Laverdiere (LA VER DEE AIR), called the election in Venezuela “illegitimate”. She urged Ottawa to weaken the Maduro government in the Organization of American States. Clearly, she, and Thomas Mulcair who met with the wife of a Venezuelan terrorist leader, stand with the American Empire. They betray the interests of millions of workers here and abroad. We ask the candidates for NDP leader to condemn this policy, and to demand, as we do, the resignation of the NDP Foreign Affairs Critic!
The world has many problems: capitalist greed, growing inequality, climate catastrophe. Parts of Texas, Florida, and much of Caribbean were flooded and wrecked, not because of Venezuela, but because of the capitalist system that puts profit before people and nature. The alternative to capitalism is socialism. It will take a socialist revolution to get there. To win we must defend the right of all peoples to self-determination.
Working class organizations in this country must say loud and clear: We are all Venezuelans! No to sanctions! No Coup! No invasion! An injury to one is an injury to all!
Together, let’s go forward from this rally. Let’s build a mass movement for social justice and against foreign intervention. Let’s take it to every work place, to the immigrant neighborhoods, to the busy streets of Toronto. Solidarity forever! Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela!