On September 20 voters will go to the polls in one of the shortest federal election campaigns in Canadian history. As the gap narrows between the Liberals and Tories, mainstream media speculate that Justin Trudeau has lost his gamble with fate. The result of the August 17 Nova Scotia provincial election shows voters don’t always reward incumbent governments during a deadly pandemic. Instead of ‘sunny ways’, we are witness to Justin’s grim petulance on the hustings.
Across Canada, up to mid-August, 1,467,308 fell ill with COVID-19 and 26,790 died. Thousands died at for-profit Long Term Care sites. Vaccines, very slow to be administered, had to be imported because a past Tory government sold the publicly owned Connaught Labs, and no domestic pharmaceutical firm produces the needed vaccines. This makes it particularly galling to hear Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole promise to improve drug research and production. The fourth wave of COVID is now surging continentally.
Bourgeois media coverage of the election campaign portrays it as a horse race, focusing on the major party leaders. Personality politics obscures the context of a failed system. Half of North America is on fire. Floods and flames ravage Europe and other continents. Workers in their millions face rising inflation, curtailed benefits and the threat of homelessness.
The situation cries out for systemic solutions, but the major parties are committed to preserving the capitalist system. All favour a carbon tax on consumers, rather than
Ø EXPROPRIATE AND RE-TOOL BIG OIL AND GAS.
All would tinker with assistance to home buyers, rather than
Ø TAKE CONTROL OF LAND DEVELOPMENT AND THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY TO BUILD MILLIONS OF HOMES, and to SEIZE EMPTY UNITS FOR THOSE IN DESPERATE NEED.
Some decry big bank and telecom super-profits, but none demand
Ø ‘EXPROPRIATE THE EXPROPRIATORS!’
All talk about reconciliation with Indigenous people, pledge a pittance to discover more unmarked graves at former so-called residential ‘schools’, but stop short of
Ø FORCING THE CHURCHES TO PAY FOR THEIR CRIMES, much less insist on SEIZING THE ASSETS OF GIANT RESOURCE CORPORATIONS so that First Nations can gain clean water, quality healthcare and education, and exercise self-determination.
The result of business-as-usual is a biosphere teetering on the brink of disaster. Cuts to benefits paid to the most vulnerable and victimized people under Canadian capitalism is the norm. Austerity conditions are worsened by unemployment, underemployment, and precarious part time work at minimum wage and no benefits. Public medicare is debilitated by long wait times, no dental care, no vision care, pharma care, emotional and mental health care. Indigenous Canadians are denied self-determination and subjected to shameful levels of unemployment, poor housing, medical care, addiction support, and child support, while giant corporations steal their resources and operate roads and pipelines through their lands, with heavily armed police at the ready.
In Canada, the CONSERVATIVES APE THE U.S. REPUBLICANS, trying to limit women’s reproductive rights, tolerating racist and Islamophobic attacks on immigrants, and brazen attacks on workers rights, jobs, wages and benefits, and the right to organize a union. The Tories openly encourage and subsidize carbon polluters. They pledge to punish pipeline protesters more severely. When Erin O’Toole says he will balance the budget, we know on whose backs he would do it.
LIBERALS profess to be more progressive. But they ordered the postal workers back to work in November 2018, broke the strike of the Montreal dock workers in May 2021, spent $4.5 billion of workers’ tax money to buy the Trans-Mountain pipeline (twice its value), and shipped armoured vehicles to the Saudi regime to be used to commit genocide in Yemen and repress the Saudi people. The Liberal Prime Minister was caught promoting “deferred prosecution” for corrupt SNC-Lavalin. He spent over $100 billion on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, much of it going into the pockets of wealthy business owners. His appointment of Inuk leader Mary Simon as Canada’s 30th Governor General, the first Indigenous person to hold the office, changes nothing. Most of the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action remain ignored by Ottawa.
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 then-Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland played a leading role in the failed effort to install 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 up to 2020. Now Lima has quit the Lima Group, and the U.S. is defeated, leaving behind devastation in the wake of its 20-year war in Afghanistan.
In 2015, after only four years of Liberal rule, Canada was tied with the United States for third-worst per capita polluter in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and Australia.
CANADIAN IMPERIALISM is heavily concentrated in mining, including the massive tar sands in Alberta. Barrick Gold, Suncor, PotashCorp, Gold Corp, Teck Resources, and Cameco exploit our resources for the sole benefit of their shareholders, subsidized heavily by our tax dollars, leaving heavy pollution behind. 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 mining firms have a reputation as brutal employers and polluters. Concerning these practices, Justin 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 unfolding 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. But competition drives down the marginal rate of profit and pushes capital to find the means to fight that trend. Automation, moving production to cheaper labour markets, destroying competitors by tariffs, sanctions and war, exploiting resources regardless of consequences to the people or the Earth, are an inherent feature of global capitalism. The greatest causes of carbon pollution, the burning of fossil fuel and the waging of wars to plunder resources, are core elements of capitalism. By ignoring the horrific exigencies of private enterprise, the Green Party renders itself irrelevant. Its Leader, Annamie Paul, is anti-choice, pro-big business, and pro-NATO. She surrounded her autocratic self with arch-Zionist ‘advisers’ who falsely accused two of her MPs of being anti-Semitic. Crisis ensued, dividing and crippling the Greens.
The NDP, a party based on WORKING CLASS institutions, with trade unions represented directly at NDP conventions, is the only mass working class party. It is the only viable labour-based alternative to the capitalist parties. For this reason, SOCIALIST ACTION gives the NDP critical support in the coming election.
We call for an NDP vote in Quebec as well, despite the fact that the NDP is rooted in the labour movement in English-speaking Canada. The party has moderated its traditional centralist version of federalism over the years in a bid to accommodate Quebec’s national reality. In any case, the issue of independence or even defence of Quebec’s national rights has receded.
Trudeau is relying on Quebecers to ignore his climate vandalism, strike breaking and militarism, and lend him their votes to secure a Liberal majority in Ottawa. The pro-capitalist and increasingly ethnic nationalist Bloc Quebecois offers no alternative for disaffected Quebec workers and youth. On the far right, Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada is poised to scoop up some of the discontent among Quebec voters. Strengthening the NDP vote would act as a counterweight to this right wing danger, especially if it translates into additional seats, for which there is a modest potential in Montreal and some regional centres.
At the same time, we oppose the NDP’s pro-capitalist, undemocratic leadership. More undemocratic than ever, the NDP brass increasingly hand-picks candidates without local nomination meetings, often so as to exclude socialist contenders. The NDP leader is not drawing the necessary lessons of Canadian imperialist crimes in Afghanistan, Libya and Haiti. He is loyal to NATO, silent on Venezuela, and condones the Zionist Apartheid state. Jagmeet Singh spars with Justin Trudeau over housing prices, but has no effective plan to spur housing supply. Singh’s demand for a 1 per cent tax on the super-rich wouldn’t fund national childcare, let alone generate mass social housing, free post-secondary education, or an all-service medicare model, including free medical drugs. He would cut subsidies to the oil industry, but not to the arms industry, nor slash the military budget. Generally speaking, Singh’s proposals are mild and rather vague, aiming instead to turn his personal ‘likeability’ into votes. A popularity contest, such as the one Trudeau won six years ago, provides no basis for meaningful change. Moreover, socialists vehemently oppose an NDP program limited to reform of capitalism, at home and abroad, a limitation to which the current leadership is dogmatically devoted.
At the same time, no one should be fooled by the old siren song that urges a vote for the Liberals in order to stop the Tories. Both parties are tools of Bay Street leading Canada and the world to more wars, greater inequality and eco-disaster.
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 could
Ø expropriate the great resources and productive apparatus now privately owned by a few rich families, and in the process, destroy the capitalist state which sustains their rule.
A workers’ government, in alliance with workers worldwide, could
Ø build a new state, a workers’ state with a socially owned and democratically planned economy
opening the road to socialism. That is our goal. Today there is no mass socialist party that can offer a mass alternative to the NDP. And it is counter-productive to support tiny reformist, nationalist parties on the left. So, our transitional slogan is “Vote NDP and Fight for Socialist Policies”.
Socialists aim to transform society, to abolish capitalism, to replace it with workers’ power. Our program proceeds, not from the needs of the capitalists, but from the needs of workers and their families, and the aspirations of the oppressed across Canada.