In the wake of a rapidly accelerating accumulation of green house gasses and global warming in our biosphere, after 40 years of neo-liberal austerity, endless campaigns of aggression through sanctions, tariffs and military slaughter led by United States imperialism, supported by its Canadian imperialist ally, Canadians will once again go to the polls on October 21. They will vote to fill the 338 seats in the House of Commons. What is at stake?
Every one of the major political parties supports capitalism, the system in which profit always comes before human needs, ahead of the needs of our planet, before human decency. Every major party accepts the private ownership and control of Canada’s vast resources by a small number of corporations whose overriding purpose is to enrich the owners, whatever the cost to the people.
The result is a biosphere teetering on the edge of disaster; austerity conditions worsened by unemployment, underemployment, precarious part time work at minimum wage and no benefits; public medicare with long wait times, no dental care, no vision care, pharma care, emotional and mental health care; Indigenous Canadians denied self-determination and subjected to shameful levels of unemployment, poor housing, medical care, addiction support, and child support, while giant capitalist corporations steal their resources and operate roads and pipelines through their lands, with heavily armed police at the ready. Cuts to the benefits paid to the homeless and to the most vulnerable and victimized people under Canadian capitalism is the norm.
In Canada, the Conservatives ape the Trump Republicans with racist and Islamophobic attacks on immigration, and brazen attacks on workers rights, jobs, wages and benefits, and the right to organize unions. There is outright encouragement and subsidizing of carbon polluters.
The Liberals profess to be more progressive. But the Liberals ordered the postal workers back to work and broke their strike in 2018, spent $4.5 billion of workers’ tax money to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline (paying twice its value), and shipped armoured vehicles to the disgusting Saudi regime to be used to commit genocide in Yemen and to repress the Saudi people. The Liberal Prime Minister was caught pushing “deferred prosecution” for corrupt SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau got the House of Commons to approve a resolution to prop up Israeli apartheid against the oppressed Palestinian people by falsely conflating criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism. His Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland plays a leading role in the effort to install, by force, a puppet of the United States as president of Venezuela in place of the democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro. The illegal and brutal sanctions imposed on the Venezuelan people, including the obstruction of food and basic medicine delivery, and the refusal to let Venezuela sell its oil, have caused great hardship and 40,000 deaths so far.
After 4 years of Liberal rule, on a per capita basis, Canada in 2015 is tied with the United States for third-worst polluter in the world, behind only Saudi Arabia and Australia. Canada has been condemned repeatedly by the United Nations for its callous and shameful treatment of the original peoples in its territory.
Canadian imperialism is heavily concentrated in mining, including the massive tar sands in Alberta. Canadian mine owners like Barrick Gold, Suncor, PotashCorp, Gold Corp, Teck Resources, Cameco and many others, exploit our resources for the sole benefit of their wealthy shareholders, subsidized heavily by our tax dollars, and leaving heavy pollution behind them. These mining giants operate all over the third world, reaping huge profits by paying low wages, denying basic rights and safety to the workers, violating the rights of indigenous peoples everywhere and using mercenaries to beat and even kill small miners who were there before the Canadians, trying to eke out an existence with hand held tools. Canadian miners have a rapidly worsening reputation as brutal employers and polluters. Imperialism is always ugly and Canadian imperialist mining companies and the banks who finance them are no prettier. About these practices Trudeau has done nothing but give his support.
The Green Party program exists entirely within the framework of the capitalist system. Founded by prominent former Tories and Liberals, the Green Party is a diversion for the millions of Canadians awakening to the developing climate catastrophe. Destructive climate change cannot be uprooted by the market. Capitalism by its very nature accumulates capital. To do this it must generate profit by any means necessary. But competition drives down the marginal rate of profit and pushes capital to find the means, any means, to fight that trend. Automation, moving production to cheaper labour markets, destroying competitors by tariffs, sanctions and war, exploiting resources regardless the consequences to the people of the earth, are an inevitable part of global capitalism. The greatest causes of carbon pollution, the burning of fossil fuel and waging war, form a massive, indispensable part of capitalism. By accepting the horrific exigencies of capitalism, the Green Party renders itself irrelevant.
The NDP, a party based on working class institutions, with trade unions represented directly at NDP conventions, is the only working class party. For this reason, Socialist Action gives NDP candidates critical support in the coming election. We support NDP candidates because the NDP is the only viable labour-based alternative to the capitalist parties. At the same time, we oppose its right wing, pro capitalist, undemocratic leadership. We vehemently oppose limiting the program to reform of capitalism, as the current leadership dogmatically does.
We propose a socialist program to mobilize working people and our natural allies in a series of mass struggles aimed at challenging the capitalist system and ultimately overthrowing the polluters, exploiters and oppressors and their racist, sexist system in favour of a Workers’ Government. A Workers’ Government can expropriate the great resources and productive facilities now owned privately by a few wealthy families, and destroy the capitalist state which sustains them.
A Workers’ Government, in alliance with workers the world over, can build a new state, a workers’ state with a socially owned and democratically planned economy and society. A workers’ state can open the road to socialism. That us our goal.
Our program proceeds, not from the needs of the capitalists, but from the needs of workers and their families, and the needs of the oppressed in Canada.
Therefore, we propose:
Tackle the climate crisis head on
The greatest threat facing workers, their families and their oppressed allies is the developing global accumulation of green house gasses arising chiefly from the burning of fossil fuels, reliance on carbon energy sources, and the consequent, accelerating global warming.
This is already causing mass extinctions of species and desertification of land, disappearance of the ice sheets and rising oceans, the appearance of voracious insects and fatal diseases in new areas, more frequent, violent storms, and gigantic forest fires. The results are loss of arable land, loss of oxygen-producing forests, and the migration of millions of desperate climate refugees. Witness the racist response in the imperialist world, such as the shocking and brutal treatment of refugees by the USA at its southern border. The imperialists, who cause global warming, use war and repression to stave off the terrible effects looming in our near future.
We propose that workers and indigenous people take the lead at every level in the mitigation of global warming. We propose the nationalization of the fossil fuel giants and the social ownership of all resources under workers’ control. We propose that the financial giants who finance these corporations be nationalized at the same time. Considering the massive, sustained subsidies, tax credits, depletion allowances and completely unmitigated pollution that remains to be addressed, there should be no further compensation to the big shareholders and creditors of these massive polluters.
It is time to implement a massive, urgent program of transition to solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and other clean energy production and transmission. This should be achieved through publicly owned and worker-controlled entities, and further, that the fossil fuel energy and transmission system be phased out as rapidly as possible.
We propose that workers and indigenous Canadians identify the transition issues that affect them and proposals to handle these issues and that as rapidly as possible these proposals be implemented. Let’s dispense with high priced consultants and deal directly with those affected.
We propose a massive campaign to reduce the use of energy as part of the campaign against global warming. Green energy for all new construction, and speedy retrofitting of existing stock, free of charge for residential buildings. Demand free mass public transit and transportation powered by green energy, including both urban and interurban, and the elimination of fossil fuels in transportation as quickly as possible.
We propose a massive increase in urban forest cultivation.
These gigantic changes will create hundreds of thousands of good jobs for which union wages and benefits will be guaranteed. A world devastated by global warming and/or nuclear annihilation creates no jobs.
Smash neo-liberal austerity and criminal growth of economic inequality
We propose the establish of robust union organizing rights for all workers and the full right to strike for all workers. We propose that factories, and other businesses which capital owners propose to close become social property under workers’ control and that the workers decide what use may be made of such facilities. Workers wages and benefits including pensions must rank above all other claims in the event of bankruptcy. Accumulating pensions must be fully funded in a separate publicly controlled trust.
We propose funding be provided for full-service Medicare including dental, eye, medicinal prescriptions, diagnostic procedures, hearing, mental and addictive services, prosthetics, plus the services of all medical professionals. We propose that big pharma be nationalized. Instead of merely bulk-buying, the government should operate a well funded research and production facility for pharmaceuticals, under workers’ control.
We propose the provision of free public education to the highest level, and cancellation of all student debt. We propose that the goal of education be to develop each student to their full potential and to serve the widest spectrum of social needs including science, technical, engineering, mathematics, literature, art, human creativity and social justice at all levels.
We propose the immediate implementation of a $20 per hour minimum wage and a 30-hour week for 40 hours pay with no reduction of benefits, to wrest from the billionaires the benefits of increased labour productivity and rapidly advancing automation, and to eliminate unemployment.
We propose that the Old Age Security payment be increased until every person living in Canada has a secure and livable retirement income. The poverty line as currently (2019) defined is $25,750 for a single person. This should be immediately increased to $30,000 and escalated in response to increases in consumer price inflation. Both the OAS and the Canada Pension Plan should be governed by workers’ boards of directors. The CPP, one of the largest pension funds in the world, will be asked to invest heavily in green energy, public free transit and transportation, infrastructure, housing, and will divest from hydrocarbon and Canadian imperialist overseas ventures which exploit ruthlessly and leave a legacy of ruin and pollution. A socialist government will shut these operations down for good.
We propose a nationwide campaign to build high quality public housing –enough to make housing easily affordable to working people and their families, starting with a goal of 500,000 units per year.
Stand up to imperialism and build international solidarity of workers and oppressed
We start from the proposition that human society is divided between the interests of the imperialist exploiters, oppressors, polluters and war mongers on the one hand, and the workers of all countries, the indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world, and all other oppressed groups on the other.
Only through a common global struggle of the workers and the oppressed everywhere will a secure socialist society be established. In countries dominated by imperialism, indigenous peoples everywhere are entitled without qualification to self-determination. The predations against them by settler colonists and imperialist corporations and armies are a violation of that right.
We oppose nuclear weapons because nuclear conflagration is unimaginably destructive. It was United States imperialism which first developed those weapons, first used them in racist attacks on Japanese people, and which possesses the largest supply. We oppose the current decision of the Trump administration to start a new round of nuclear escalation. We demand the unilateral nuclear disarmament of the imperialist aggressors, including Israel. Only then, can others disarm safely.
We propose to work with indigenous peoples in Canada toward reconciliation by accepting full self determination, funding education, housing, medical services and all other services to the levels provided to the rest of society. We stand for indigenous control of the resources and resource utilization, and over the legal and justice systems on indigenous lands. There will be no reconciliation without restitution, plus just land claims settlements.
We support the national aspirations of the Quebecois people up to and including independence. The NDP leaders are loyal to the Canadian federal state and therefore oppose an independent Quebec. But over time, the NDP has modified its rigid centralism and now advocates “asymmetric federalism” for Quebec and accepts the decision of a majority, 50% plus one, in any future Quebec referendum on independence.
Support for independence in Quebec is currently at an historic low (about one third of the population). The Parti Quebecois (PQ), hitherto the main force in the sovereigntist movement, is in crisis. Its turn to ethnic nationalism and xenophobia only prepared the way for the victory of the right wing Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ). And it is losing support to Quebec Solidaire (QS) on its left. With the weakening of the PQ and to a lesser extent the provincial Liberals, Quebec politics is in a state of recomposition. When and how the deepening crisis of capitalism will intersect with the still frustrated national aspirations of the Quebecois people, remains to be seen.
We call for an NDP vote in Quebec. This is not as obvious a choice as in the rest of Canada where the NDP has much stronger roots in the workers’ movement. Nevertheless, it retains some validity. One of the two big union federations in Quebec, the Fédération des travilleurs/travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), does not officially endorse the NDP but it is affiliated to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The NDP is supported by many workers, young people and members of oppressed minorities and several ‘progressive’ candidates are running for the NDP in this election.
We propose to terminate all support for Canadian corporations operating in other countries. As rapidly as possible, all imperialist foreign holdings owned by Canadian corporations, directly or indirectly, will be turned over to the workers of those enterprises. Cases of Canadian imperialist pollution and mistreatment will be dealt with as serious crimes in Canada, and we will support criminal action in the victimized country. We propose to remove sanctions, tariffs and withdraw Canadian troops from third world countries and to offer solidarity and economic support for colonial countries starting with those who have suffered at the hands of Canadian capitalist state economic and military aggression or the predation of Canadian corporations. We propose to withdraw from all imperialist alliances including NATO, NORAD, the Lima Group, etc. Existing trade agreements prop up the rights of capitalist exploiters including against the interests of Canadian workers and protect polluters. Canada must denounce and abandon all such agreements.
Canada must break with US-led campaigns against Venezuela, the Palestinians, Cuba, Iran, China, Russia. We should ship, food, medical supplies and other materials to the Palestinians, especially to Gaza, to Venezuelans, Syrians, the Yemeni people and others suffering at the hands of imperialism.
Fight all Forms of Oppression and Super-Exploitation in Canada
Canadian capitalism, like all capitalism, uses race and colour, gender, religion, culture, physical difference, and sexual orientation to divide and weaken the working class, and to create an underclass which may be super exploited to increase the profits of the billionaires. It is in the interest of the entire working class to unite with the oppressed, to lift up their demands and demonstrate that only through the workers and a workers’ victory against the oppressors can such oppression be defeated, and a way found to end such oppression forever. Wherever such oppression occurs we oppose it. We support affirmative action programs to overcome historical discrimination.
For example, we stand firmly in support of defending women’s full and unrestricted access to abortion and birth control under medicare. We propose that all places of employment with more than 15 employees be required to supply free childcare for parents who work, and that public childcare be provided at a subsidized minimal cost to all parents.
We propose that cases of discrimination for any reason result in both full restitution and severe penalties to perpetrators.
We propose that Canadian military units come home and never again be used to enforce imperialism’s interests around the world.
How to Finance a Workers’ Government
The financial organization of a workers’ government is completely different from the financing of a capitalist government. Firstly, the cost of living for working people under a socialist-led workers’ government would be much lower. Publicly owned energy companies would provide fuel and energy at cost. Public pharmaceutical and medical services would be funded from general revenues. Public transportation would be free. Public housing would be available at cost, or subsidised for single parents, retired, or those unable to work for any reason.
All the billions of dollars of tax subsidies and giveaways to private capitalists would end. The income tax system we propose would be zero rated up to $35,000 earned income per year, escalating progressively to 100% over $400,000. Income on investments would be untaxed in pension funds and RSPs until withdrawn and then taxed as earned income. Outside of pension savings plans, investment income would be taxed as ordinary income on 100% of the value from dollar one. Capital gains deductions and dividend tax credits would be eliminated. Tax deductions and tax credits for the rich would be eliminated immediately.
Canada spends $21 billion on armed forces operations, and much more on new fighter bombers, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery, helicopters and war ships.
Canada’s military, since 1812, has fought only in other people’s countries to advance the interests of Canadian capitalism, or fought against the people of Canada, indigenous people, workers and the Quebecois. A Coast Guard is needed to patrol our fisheries and rescue people at sea. A trained search, rescue and fire fighting force on land is necessary. We do not need more, least of all a secret service that spies on social justice activists and ordinary people. Almost the entire military budget will be reallocated to beneficial purposes. Soldiers, sailors and airmen/women with useful skills will be allocated elsewhere. In place of the armed military we propose a workers’ militia to keep order and provide aid.
We propose an annual wealth tax on personal net worth, however held, beginning at 5% over $20,000,000 and escalating to 100% over $50,000,000. We propose that for estates worth over $50,000,000, the excess be taxed at 100%.
We propose a tax on financial transactions of all businesses, except small businesses, and the reporting of amounts, destinations and the business purpose of all asset transfers out of Canada, including cash and financial assets. Failure to complete would be a crime.