In the face of the big push for war from Canada’s rulers, we renew the call for mass mobilization against the imperialist powers. No war but the class war!
While the NDP continues to avoid challenging the burgeoning military budget, which will surely grow in the confidence and-supply deal struck between the federal Liberals and the NDP, the task of opposing military conflict and escalation falls to the militant grassroots in both the workers’ movement and other struggles for liberation.
In March in Toronto, multiple rallies focused on our own ruling class as perpetrators of great violence and destruction.
On March 19, a modest rally co-organized by Socialist Action Canada, Voice of Canadian Women for Peace, and others highlighted the role that NATO and Canada play in stoking tension in Eastern Europe and demanded Canada out of NATO! Remarks by the Federal Secretary of Socialist Action, Barry Weisleder, are presented below.
On March 27, just days after the seven-year anniversary of the Saudi-led war on Yemen, Yemeni Community Canada, Labour Against the Arms Trade, and World Beyond War held a demonstration to spotlight Canada’s unwavering support for the brutal invasion of Yemen. In choosing to hold the rally outside Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s constituency office, organizers highlighted Canadian hypocrisy in that Ottawa describes Putin as swinging “a sledgehammer [against] the rules-based international order”, on the one hand, while selling over $10 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and thus propping up an illegal invasion of a sovereign country, on the other hand.
NATO’s true purpose is not promotion of world peace, or upholding international law, but maintaining U.S. domination globally. Workers and oppressed people in Canada do not benefit, but suffer immensely from the billions poured into war at the expense of social supports and a green energy just transition. Only corporations, particularly weapon makers, benefit from war.
Although modest in size, recent demonstrations show the way forward for the working class and oppressed people — the enemy is at home and we must organize accordingly!
Stop the War in Ukraine!
Socialists oppose all wars, except the class war. Workers and the poor, women and children are the first and foremost victims of war, while a tiny, rich minority profit from the woe it inflicts on the vast majority. The current conflict over Ukraine shows this again. It stems from the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is led by Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and their imperialist allies. The unfolding tragedy can be halted by mass protest actions in every country demanding Negotiation, Not Escalation. The construction of a broad, democratic anti-war movement is the key task at this moment.
Despite promises to the contrary when the USSR dissolved, and later when East and West Germany united, the United States aggressively pushed expansion of NATO membership right up to the boundaries of Russia. It armed dozens of NATO countries with heavy military equipment, including nuclear weapons, while conducting war maneuvers on the border lands and in the coastal waters of Russia. Washington imposed over 100 sanctions on Russia before 2022. It backed the 2014 fascist-led coup that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine. The ensuing rump ultra-right government blatantly discriminated against speakers of the Russian language and promoted fascist militias that marched on Eastern Ukraine, attacking people in Russian-speaking regions. It violated scores of cease fire agreements. The US armed Ukraine’s military to relentlessly shell residents of the two breakaway republics in the Donbass region. Thousands died; many more were displaced from their homes.
Meanwhile, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his arch pro-Ukrainian nationalist Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland send additional troops and weapons to eastern Europe, falsely posing as champions of democracy and self-determination. They bolster Ottawa’s war budget to buy new fighter jets instead of meeting human needs for enhanced public health care and economic supports during an ongoing pandemic, instead of providing for social housing, justice for Indigenous people and a rapid transition to a sustainable green economy in harmony with nature. Trudeau backs a brutal dictatorship in Haiti, seeks to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela with a punishing trade embargo, and endorses weapons exports to Saudi Arabia to spread starvation and mass murder in Yemen. A Canadian general led NATO’s horrendous bombing and destruction of Libya.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine is a dead wrong response to NATO aggression. We condemn it as a brutal invasion that has killed thousands of innocent people, resulting in millions of refugees. Putin is harking back to the Russian empire, treating Ukraine as a ‘little brother’ that he can dominate.
Putin’s excuse that he is helping the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine is dubious. Putin and his associates have been assisting the far-right in Europe for years. French far-right leader, Marie Le Pen, has been a frequent guest of Putin. Putin’s attacks on LGBTQI people and his promotion of the Russian Orthodox Church as the symbol of Russian nationalism align with familiar themes of ultra-conservatives. His violent invasion of Ukraine only strengthens that country’s radical nationalists, rather than mobilize progressive public opinion there and abroad.
During his long rambling address to the Russian people, Putin attacked the legacy of the Russian Revolution of 1917. He claimed that modern Ukraine “was entirely and fully created by the Bolsheviks” who did so “by dividing, tearing from Russia pieces of her own historical tendency”. In doing so, he revealed himself as part of a long tradition of Great Russian chauvinism that stretches from the Tsars to Joseph Stalin.
Putin’s actions are being used by military hawks in the US and Canada to whip up a pro-war atmosphere. The Pentagon, humiliated by its defeat in Afghanistan, is determined to re-assert ‘leadership’ over the Western world by posing as its defender. We should reject the cold war rhetoric of our rulers, and support anti-war actions in every country. Free all the anti-war activists who have been jailed for opposing the war in Ukraine!
The call by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh for more sanctions and backing of NATO is deplorable. The left and the working class should stand firmly with the workers of Russia, Ukraine and the NATO countries who demonstrate for peace, and who strive to disarm the war-makers. The only way to end inter-imperialist rivalry, environmental destruction and endless wars is to eradicate the capitalist profit system by socialist transformation of society.
No War in Ukraine. NATO Out of Eastern Europe.
Canada Out of NATO. No sanctions.
Russia and all foreign troops out of Ukraine.
Stop U.S. weapons supplies to Kiev. Negotiate, Don’t Escalate. Self-determination for the people of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Canadian Labour and the Anti-War Movement: Stop the War in Ukraine, Oppose Canadian Military Action.
After lengthy discussion on March 8 at the Durham Region Labour Council in Ontario, the following resolution was adopted with two abstentions and no opposition. As one of the delegates noted, “We must turn the power of the working class sharply against the war. I encourage other labour councils and civil society organizations to do the same – a robust anti-war movement is not going to fall from the sky. Please share and discuss.”
Workers and their unions have been watching the dangerous situation in Ukraine with grave concern. Since the invasion began, civilian casualties have escalated, and two million Ukrainian residents have fled to nearby countries. There is a real risk that this crisis may escalate very quickly into a global confrontation with direct involvement of NATO, EU, US, and nuclear weapons – whether by accident or design.
War is always most devastating for the working class, and it is the responsibility of the organized labour movement to promote the cause of peace in the world. We encourage and support political solutions leading to peace in global conflicts.
Therefore, we call upon the international community to bring about an immediate ceasefire and hold meaningful negotiations to establish lasting peace and security in the region.
We call on the Canadian government to make every effort to de-escalate this situation and oppose any further Canadian military action, arms sales, or provision of “lethal aid.”
- We demand that Russian troops withdraw from the territory of Ukraine, and that Canadian, US and NATO troops in or near Ukraine’s borders do likewise.
- Demand that the Ukrainian government and Russian forces act to protect all those fleeing the country, including Africans and others caught in the crossfire.
- Demand an end to military recruiting and fund-raising for the Ukrainian army in Canada.
- Demand that Canada adopt a policy of peace and non-alignment, including withdrawal from NATO and any other military alliances.
- We support the right to self determination of the people of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, free from Russian interference, NATO interference, and Ukrainian state repression.
The Durham Region Labour Council (DRLC) represents over 25 union locals comprised of approximately 55,000 union members – durhamlabour.ca
Noam Chomsky, famous linguistics professor at MIT, historian and political analyst, made the following observation:
“As has been understood for a long time, decades in fact, for Ukraine to join NATO would be like Mexico joining a China-run military alliance, hosting joint maneuvers with the Chinese army and maintaining weapons aimed at Washington. To insist on Mexico’s sovereign right to do so would surpass idiocy. Washington’s insistence on Ukraine’s sovereign right to join NATO is even worse, since it sets up an insurmountable barrier to a peaceful resolution of a crisis that is already a shocking crime and will soon become much worse unless resolved — by the negotiations that Washington refuses to join.”
So, we anti-war activists say to the government of the USA: Negotiate, Don’t Escalate!______
This past week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated: “Allies need to invest a minimum of two per cent of GDP on defense.” According to NATO, Canada spends about 1.39 per cent of its GDP on the military. In 2020-21, that was about $23.3 billion. At two percent it would rise to $41.6 billion per year. Several years ago, the Trudeau government promised to increase military spending to $32.7 billion by 2026/27. Defence Minister Anita Anand now says: “I personally am bringing forward [to cabinet] aggressive options which would see [Canada], potentially, exceeding the two per cent level, hitting the two per cent level, and below the two per cent level.” The new federal budget is expected in the first week of April. That’s when we might learn if the Trudeau government will move to that two per cent threshold and spend another $20 billion a year on the military.
It would also seem that much of this is driven by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But again, consider the numbers. In April 2021, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported that Russia’s military budget in 2020 was $61.7 billion. In comparison, the United States spent $778 billion. Spending by Canada ($22.8 billion), Italy ($28.9 billion), Spain ($17.4 billion), the Netherlands ($12.6 billion), Belgium ($5.5 billion), France ($52.7 billion), Germany ($52.8 billion) and the United Kingdom ($59.2 billion), which totalled $251.9 billion. So even without the U.S., spending by just eight other NATO countries was four times bigger than the Russian military budget.
And let’s not forget that Canada spent at least $18 billion on the war in Afghanistan. Less than seven months after the U.S. withdrawal from that country (where it spent $2.3 trillion or about $300 million a day on war over two decades), we are again seemingly being told that more military spending is the answer.
In recent weeks we have seen the stocks of arms companies soar. Shares in Raytheon Technologies are up nearly 8 per cent, General Dynamics up 12 per cent, and Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest war contractor, are up 18 per cent. Volodymyr Zelensky asks everyone to “imagine” what it’s like. I ask you to imagine what will be the impact of skyrocketing war spending, of additional burning of oil, gas and explosives on the global environment. The coming climate catastrophe could end human civilization, unless we end capitalism, which profits from war.