Category Archives: Canada

Videos: Socialism in the Park (2018)

Missed the Socialism in the Park talks? We cannot offer you a warm summer day, but you can enjoy these talks over a nice cup of coffee:

A talk detailing capitalist attacks on the Canadian working class, the need to defend public resources and takes a look at the prospect of Socialism in Canada with an International perspective.

Socialist Action Presents a talk on Permanent Revolution, the concept of Stalinism and what are transitional demands vs maximum demands.

Horgan’s BC NDP sells out to LNG Canada

By Gary Porter

A massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project in Canada received final approval by LNG Canada and its partners on October 2, making it the first major new project for the fuel to win approval in recent years.

TransCanada (pipeline) Corporation also announced that it will proceed with construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project after the decision to go ahead by LNG Canada. The $6.2 billion project is a 670-kilometre (420 mile) pipeline that would transport natural gas from the Montney gas-producing region near Dawson Creek, B.C. to the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat on BC’s Pacific coast. First gas from the project is expected by 2024. The complex course through rocky islands out to sea was a factor in the cancellation of a planned oil pipeline to Kitimat, with delivery to awaiting huge oil tankers.

The total project is estimated to cost $40 billion. Stakeholders in the project are Shell, Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), PetroChina Co Ltd, Korea Gas Corp (KOGAS) and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp.

The BC Premier, John Horgan of the labour-based New Democratic Party (NDP) government, enthused about this new massive commitment to a hydrocarbon future. “We welcome the unprecedented commitment shown by the LNG Canada partners to work within our province’s ambitious climate goals,” he said in the same statement. “The critical importance of this project is what it represents — the intersecting of economic development, jobs for local workers, partnerships with Indigenous communities and forward-looking climate leadership.”

Provincial Green party Leader Andrew Weaver called the announcement a “profound disappointment.” Countering Horgan’s list of “advantages” to Canadians on a point by point basis, Weaver said, “Adding such a massive new source of GHGs (greenhouse gases) means that the rest of our economy will have to make even more sacrifices to meet our climate targets. A significant portion of the LNG Canada investment will be spent on a plant manufactured overseas, with steel sourced from other countries.”

“B.C. taxpayers will subsidize its power by paying rates twice as high and taking on the enormous public debt required to build Site C. (The massive power dam on the Peace River approved by Horgan last December, will serve the LNG development, which is a big user of electrical power.) There may be as little as 100 permanent jobs at LNG Canada.”

“I believe we can create far more jobs in other industries that won’t drastically increase our emissions.”, added Weaver.

Still, Weaver’s Green Party does not challenge capitalism. Weaver wants to manage capitalism better, not get rid of the system that puts profits before survival. He does not advocate nationalizing and rapidly phasing out hydrocarbons, as the NDP Socialist Caucus does. Nor does he advocate a publicly owned massive green energy system which could create tens of thousands of jobs and dramatically cut GHGs in short order.

Horgan’s enthusiasm for the massive LNG project, matches NDP Premier Rachel Notley’s shrill advocacy of tar sands and pipelines in Alberta. Both demonstrate that the NDP leadership is deeply committed to the profits of the oil barons more than to the environment on which we depend for life.

There is no word yet from Jagmeet Singh, Federal NDP leader currently running in Burnaby South for a seat in parliament. The electoral district is a centre of Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion opposition. Singh may find himself in a very uncomfortable position. His inept leadership over his first year in office does not portend a nimble response from him

In its own statement, Mitsubishi said the total estimated development cost of the planned Kitimat LNG plant is about US $14 billion. The cost of the liquefaction plant and a 670-kilometre pipeline to connect gas to the plant will exceed 2 trillion yen (US $17.6 billion), a company official said. The project will create of a lot of jobs in Japan, apparently.

The construction decision also comes amid a Sino-U.S. trade spat that has led to tariffs being imposed by China on LNG shipments from the United States, threatening U.S. President Donald Trump’s energy dominance plan. This project could bypass the Chinese tariffs.

Premier John Horgan says his government is mulling ways to implement all of the tax giveaways and relief for the LNG Canada project without a vote in the legislature, a scenario that would avoid a showdown with the NDP’s power-sharing partner, the B.C. Green Party.

In March, Horgan’s government promised LNG Canada about $5.3 billion in tax breaks. This leaves BC workers and the poor to carry the tax load while global capitalist corporations pay little or no tax.

As expected, Wilkinson’s right wing Liberals issued a statement saying they have supported LNG from the outset and are looking forward to backing any legislation concerning the Kitimat project.

Unnamed government officials said B.C.’s proposed climate plan will be designed to meet legislated targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent (or 13 mega tonnes) by 2050.

Much of the reduction, they claim, will be achieved by B.C. moving towards electrification, primarily in the transportation and industrial sectors. The officials said the plan will offer industry rebates on carbon tax payments if they meet global clean-energy targets.

But B.C. government staff are working based on LNG Canada’s claim that the project is forecast to emit 3.45 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

By contrast, a Maclean’s magazine editorial stated that LNG Canada represents roughly 10 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year. This is one quarter of B.C.’s entire greenhouse-gas budget for 2030, or two-thirds of B.C.’s 2050 target. In other words, to meet B.C.’s emissions targets and serve LNG Canada, the rest of the province will need largely to decarbonize. So, the LNG development seems inconsistent with Canada’s commitment to climate action. How will a government that caves in to the hydro carbon giants, have the guts to force through such a massive change?

Like virtually all GHG reduction targets set under capitalism, they come a distant second to the priorities of profit and accumulation of vast wealth by the capitalist class.  Horgan in BC, the NDP government under Rachel Notley in Alberta, and Liberal Justin Trudeau in Ottawa will strive to ensure that this continues.

Along with the massive Site C power dam decision, this LNG betrayal makes clear that the struggle to defend Indigenous rights and the environment is not centred in parliament. It should be powered by united mass action in the streets.

Did you hear? It’s ok to smoke Pot. A politician told me so

by Corey David

Cannabis was made legal on October 17, 2018 across the Canadian state and if you listen to the mainstream media you might think it was a revolutionary move to end stigma and salvage the lives of tens of thousands who have been criminalized by the state for consuming this herb.  As a 10 years-plus pot smoker, I can truthfully say that is not the case.

The Justin Trudeau government, true to Liberal Party tradition, implemented a modest reform that enjoys broad popular support without rocking the boat very much. (Proportional representation was evidently far too radical). Former Toronto Police chief and current MP Bill Blair is in charge of the legalization process. Someone whose job it was to enforce laws that attacked poor and racialized communities while leaving more affluent neighbourhoods alone (if you think there aren’t drugs in the rich hoods you should talk to the dealers; if you don’t have a connection there are available studies).

It seems that while Blair and his team researched how to best introduce the bill they did not consult with a very important “partner”, First Nations. Indigenous main concerns with the Bill are how the law would override individual reservations’ by-laws, how it did not take into consideration the challenge of substance abuse facing these communities and did not consult on tax sharing where some of the revenue would go back into reserves.

There is a theme here and we will likely see it blatantly expressed in Ontario where the provincial government has decided to privatize cannabis sales starting in 2019 (maybe Premier Doug Ford will sponsor a ‘buck a beer’ combo to celebrate the occasion). So, what will happen when there are repercussions like increased addiction, or medicinal shortages because of consumer demand? Communities and the public sector will be burdened with the true cost, while companies and shareholders rake in profits. Some Ontario Public Service Employees Union members employed by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, building on the plans of the previous Kathleen Wynne Liberal government to sell through LCBO stores, wanted to see revenues go into public coffers, as is the case with alcohol.

In fact, the lead up to legalization many wealthy investors and ex-prohibitionists are benefiting, including former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney who tried to push through Bill C-85 that would have put weed in the same category as heroin under federal law. How can he reconcile his new investments with his previous support for criminalizing users? On a personal note, my father who was against weed when I started using has now invested tens of thousands of dollars in marijuana stocks. Just because a piece of paper was signed and there’s money to be made, now it’s a good thing.

That seems to be the real driver behind this push to legalize. At the end of a road of suffering, protest, and black-market business, there is an opportunity to make a lot of cash. Hand in hand, government and corporations have stumbled onto a booming industry.

Sadly, there is scarcely a mention of the lives that have been ruined by enforcement of the prohibition law, or the abuse inflicted in its name by a racist and classist legal system. A pardon process is limited to minor possession charges. So, should we thank the Feds for a thumbs up to start burning? I’m not satisfied with this token gesture that paints our country’s leaders as champions of liberty.  They give corporations the keys to produce, store, and sell as much as they can, while continuing a restrictive policy towards individuals. It offers no apology for the oppression it doled out, and the propaganda it published to misinform.  It promotes those who recently were at war with drugs into positions of mastery over the industry.  It exploits those most vulnerable, who are living precariously and maybe suffering from addiction, while providing no increase in treatment infrastructure, though nearly every political party demands better services.

“The focus is to protect kids” — but not those in poverty who seek an escape route through the drug trade, in the absence of other options, not for those stuck in generational cycles of trauma caused by substance abuse, and not for those who had their parents taken away by this same system. Bill C-45 is a white wash.  It ignores the issues and the realities of the drug question as it’s poised to gouge users who will have to pay more for legal weed than the stuff they get around the corner. It is one more thing to be commercialized and controlled by the capitalist elite, not the groups that fought for change, and who were harassed for almost a century for smoking a plant they could grow in the backyard.

Where is the effort to deal with the fentanyl crisis, the housing crisis, the environmental crisis, the lack of clean drinking water on reserves and the murdered and missing indigenous people? Profit is king, the only thing worth striving for under our current system, it seems.

Pride (Inc.) Capitulates to the Cops, Betrays BLM

by John Wilson

Well, Toronto Pride has done it again. On October 16 it held a news conference to announce that uniformed police will again march in the Pride parade.  The decision was made solely by its Board, not presented to Pride’s membership for either discussion or vote. The news conference was a joint project with cop top boss Mark Saunders and Mayor John Tory. In a video of the event published by Xtra, Pride Executive Director Olivia Nuamah consistently evaded detailed questions.  She insisted that the decision was based on “community consultations” without ever specifying who comprised this “community” that was allegedly consulted. Since it didn’t even include Pride’s own membership, we may well wonder! Nuamah referred more than once to Pride’s “partnership” with the police.

Obviously, great pressure from the police, the mayor and Ontario Premier Thug Ford was brought to bear. But the rightward direction of the Pride leadership has been evident for years, as it continues to distance itself from the “community” it supposedly represents. In 2016, when Black Lives Matter temporarily halted the march to protest the massive police presence in it and to highlight other serious issues, one of the major concerns was the intimidating nature of the police presence, particularly to marginalized sectors in the LGBT population in the parade. This important issue has been shoved aside in the interest of “partnership” with the mechanism of state repression, and, presumably, funding. (To quote an old Bob Dylan song: “money doesn’t talk, it screams”.)

This outrageous betrayal completely ignores the role of the police as the praetorian guard of power and privilege and as an oppressor of queer people, racialized minorities, sex workers and the homeless. (It also undercuts other Pride organizations which have removed the police from their parades.) As James Dubro, a long-time gay activist points out, the announcement of this change was made without notice, and predicts that “they’re setting it up for major confrontation”. And he’s right. Opposition is already growing and it will be massive.

Apparently, Toronto Pride honchos are completely oblivious to the growing resistance to the viciously right wing Doug Ford-led Ontario government, resistance which will dovetail with opposition to their abjectly opportunist move.

As the slogan heading up a petition started by queer activist and Queer Ontario steering committee member Brian de Matos declares, “Liberation, Not Assimilation.”

Progress Toronto fails to make a difference. Round One goes to Doug Ford.

by Barry Weisleder

Voter turnout in the Toronto municipal election on October 22 was an abysmal 41 per cent, nearly 20 per cent lower than four years earlier.  A big factor was gross interference, in campaign mid-stream, by the Conservative Doug Ford Ontario government.  It reduced the number of seats on Toronto City Council from 47 to 25.  Many voters, confused by changed ward boundaries, and not knowing who were the local candidates, simply stayed away from the polls.

An equally important factor was the political disarray and the lack of inspiration.  There was no organized working class alternative to the main candidates backed by the big landlords, property developers and the banks.  The labour-based New Democratic Party did not field a slate.  Toronto Labour Council and the fake-left Progress Toronto outfit backed an array of so-called progressives – a motley crew of ‘independent’ Liberals and NDPers, headed by the Liberal Jennifer Keesmat who ran for mayor.  Not a socialist among them.  Falsely they claim credit for knocking off ultra-conservative Giorgio Mammoliti, along with right wingers Christin Carmichael Greb and Frank Di Giorgio.  The latter two were beaten by a Liberal and a Conservative respectively.  So-called ‘non-partisan’ Libs and Tories have a comfortable majority on council now.  Such is Progress, eh?

Keesmat, former city chief planner, was trounced by incumbent mayor, big business-backed John Tory, who is now surrounded by a pro-cutbacks, anti-labour city council.  His former arch-foe Doug Ford facilitated this outcome by legislating larger wards and the over-representation of conservative-voting suburbs.

Score Round One for Thug Ford.  He bullied his way forward, stood up to court challenges (he even threatened to use a constitutional over-ride clause), and saw through the feeble plaints of the union brass and Liberal elites.  Ford set up Toronto for the next big wave of cutbacks and privatization measures. Toronto’s subway system may be the first city asset on the auction block.  The sale of individual social housing units, a Keesmat idea that Mayor-elect John Tory admires, could follow.

Disgustingly, white supremacist Faith Goldy came third in the mayoralty race, tallying 3.4 per cent.  One of the few bright spots was the fourth-place finish of Seron Gebresellassi, a leftist lawyer of Eritrean heritage who scored 2 per cent.  Her call for Free Public Transit redefined the debate.  Socialist Action candidate in Ward 1, tenants’ organizer Peter D’Gama, received a small vote.  But the SA platform circulated widely across the city.  It showed what a socialist vision of the future looks like and it exposed the lie that it is illegal to put a party label on city election signs and literature.  What now?  Indeed, now is the time to take stock of the failure of liberal reform, class collaboration politics.  It’s time to chart a course for a Workers’ Agenda.  The fight for a Labour City Hall should be headed by a re-purposed Toronto NDP.  Or it should be the creation of a coalition of socialist parties and social justice movements.  The Left needs to get ready to take on John Tory and big business control of city hall in 2022 — because conditions of growing inequality, homelessness, pollution, transit grid lock, cop violence and urban decay are sure to get worse.