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.

Quebec: CAQ in power, QS on the rise

by Robbie Mahood  (October 20, 2018)

For the past 45 years, governmental power in Quebec has alternated between the federalist Parti Liberal du Québec (PLQ) and the sovereigntist Parti Quebec (PQ). That political era has ended.

Both these parties were punished by the electorate. The Liberals fell to less than 25% of the vote, the lowest in its history. The PQ paid a high price for its support of neoliberal austerity and the parallel weakening of its commitment to independence. It could manage only 17% of the vote and went from 30 to 10 seats.

The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) takes up the reins of power with 74 of the 125 seats.   It is a right of centre party deploying a xenophobic identitarian nationalism to conceal more austerity, privatization and fossil fuel friendly policies.

The CAQ is a motley crew of disaffected former Liberals and PQistes under the leadership of Francois Legault, an ex-PQ minister and one-time airline CEO. During the campaign, Legault threatened to raise barriers to immigration and ban the wearing of the hijab in the civil service and schools.  The CAQ opposes independence but will pose as the best defender of Quebec ‘interests’ in negotiations with Ottawa and the other provinces.

Quebec’s small left party, Quebec Solidaire (QS), emerged as the other winner in this election. It more than doubled its popular vote to 16% and went from 3 to 10 deputies in the National Assembly, level with the PQ.

Among the plethora of minor parties, the Greens fared best with 1.68% of the vote followed by the Conservatives with 1.46 % and trailing badly, the newly launched provincial Quebec New Democratic Party (NDP) at 0.57 %. The NDP’s attempt to split the left vote failed miserably and deservedly so.

As elsewhere throughout the advanced and not so advanced capitalist world, Quebec is experiencing a populist moment.  There is the same disenchantment with what Tariq Ali calls the parties of “the extreme centre” – in the case of Quebec, the Liberals and PQ – and a polarization along right-left lines even if expressed in populist rather than clearly class terms.

Although more restrained, the CAQ bears comparison with the right wing xenophobic parties in Europe and with Doug Ford’s reactionary Tory regime next door in Ontario. It is noteworthy that Legault received a welcome tweet from Marie Le Pen, leader of France’s Front National, on the morrow of the CAQ victory.

QS provided a left response to the CAQ. After years of stifling neoliberal consensus, its high visibility campaign came as a breath of fresh air. It emphasized the diversity of its candidates and an anti-austerity program that highlighted universal dental insurance, free education from daycare through university, a transition to free public transit, opposition to fossil fuel extraction and rehabilitating the vision of an independent Quebec that would be inclusive, egalitarian and open to a new pact with the province’s indigenous peoples.

QS’s decision to spurn an electoral pact with the PQ, last year’s fusion with the small nationalist PQ breakaway, Option Nationale, and the linking of independence with social reform, struck a chord among politically more aware youth and sections of the francophone working class. It is now poised to displace the PQ, even to the extent of duplicating the latter’s early electoral success, starting in Montreal and then extending to the regions.

It seems unlikely the PQ can revive its fortunes. Not so the Liberals. They can recover as long as they monopolize the federalist vote.

What are the prospects for a new alternation between the CAQ and the Liberals? This depends on whether there is room for two parties, both of them neoliberal and federalist.

Many voted for the CAQ as a way of defeating the Liberals. But there is no denying the CAQ’s appeal to xenophobia. It will use nationalist and racist demagogy to divert attention from its mission to serve the needs of Quebec capitalists allied with Anglo-Canadian and transnational capital within the confines of the federal Canadian state.

Yet the CAQ has a weak mandate. It lacks the internal cohesion and reliable base of the outgoing Liberals. It is vulnerable to mass mobilization under vigorous and determined leadership. Will the unions and QS rise to this challenge?

The bureaucratic leadership of the unions is quite disoriented by this turn in Quebec politics. Its de facto alliance with the PQ is sinking. Yet it hesitates to support and intervene in QS.  It has not mobilized the ranks, even half-heartedly, for over two years.

An aggressive drive by the CAQ for more austerity and privatization may shake Quebec labour out of its lethargy. But indispensable is a new leadership in the unions that recognizes it will take mass struggle to win and that Quebec labour must take the road of political independence, an opportunity that was missed in the 1970’s.

While QS is a left party, it is not a party of the working class. It is anti-austerity but lacking in clear class references. In part, this reflects the historic weakness of the Social Democratic and Stalinist traditions in Quebec.

Of more concern is that QS has been silent on two current union struggles, that of the locked-out workers in the aluminum industry and the strike of employees in the province’s liquor stores.

QS has much in common with other left populist formations such as Melanchon’s La France Insoumise, and Podemos in Spain. Although the contexts are different, Sanders in the US and Corbyn in the UK also provide points of reference.

QS’s populism was very evident in the campaign. When Manon Massé, the party’s dynamic co-leader, was pressed by journalists to clarify if she was a Marxist, she was evasive, refusing to say that she was a socialist or even an anti-capitalist. According to her, QS was above all such “isms”’.

QS presents itself as a party of the Quebec nation in which class and national aspirations are fused. Consistent with left populism, QS replaces a perspective of socialist transformation and workers power with the idea of a people or nation against a corrupt elite.

The leadership of QS has set its sights on an eventual parliamentary majority. Its program is divided between limited measures for adoption in a first mandate leaving more radical parts of the program for later implementation. This is reminiscent of the classic divide between minimum and maximum program decreed by European social democracy prior to the First World War. In this way the parties of the Second International transformed themselves into aspiring managers of the capitalist state with at best a limited reform agenda and at worst support for repression at home and imperialist war abroad.

In contrast to social democracy’s absorption by the capitalist system, what is needed is a party that agitates outside parliament for transitional demands that point the way to radical anti-capitalist measures undertaken by a workers’ government.

Many socialist groups in Greece had their fingers burned by their support for the left party, SYRIZA, in 2014. We should be no less guarded in our approach to QS. As the party gets closer to winning a majority in the National Assembly, the pressure to adapt and retreat will be enormous.

Should socialists work within or from outside QS? Is QS on the way or in the way?

The Ligue pour l’Action socialiste (LAS) offered critical support to QS in this election.  We urge the building of a socialist tendency that pushes the party to become an opposition not only in the National Assembly but also in the streets where it must work closely with the unions and allied social movements.  Without an organized tendency, the efforts of individual socialists in QS will be dissipated.

Legault can be expected to pursue more cuts in health care, education and social services, give a green light to fracking and additional suburban auto-routes and introduce measures that further stigmatise immigrants. Will he follow through on his threat to invoke the not-withstanding clause in Canada’s Constitution to ban the hijab in the public service, among teachers, or by anyone in a position of authority such as judges or doctors?

Solidarity with the weakest members of our class is a litmus test for socialists and the labour movement. Forcing a retreat by the CAQ on its anti-immigrant policies will stimulate resistance on other fronts, notably against austerity and degradation of the environment.

The election reveals a nation that is more divided than ever under the weight of decaying social conditions and the bankruptcy of the neoliberal order. A period of political uncertainty and contestation lies ahead. Class divisions are more clearly expressed than at any time in the past 50 years.

That is not to say that the national question has disappeared.

Sentiment for independence is certainly at a low ebb, but the obituary sought by those favouring the federal tie is premature.  The PQ dragged the independence option through the mud of racism and neoliberal reaction. Besides marshalling sentiment against austerity, QS has quietly but perceptibly rescued independence as a means of realizing the social aspirations of the Quebecois. True, the content is vague. But a genuine struggle for independence will of necessity confront the need for a rupture with Anglo-North American capital and its junior partners in Quebec.

This election reveals popular discontent with the status quo and a rejection of the old political order.  Quebec has a long tradition of popular struggle and the highest union density in North America. There is a potential for mass mobilization waiting to be tapped.

Heading into the next period our watchwords should be:

– Quebec Solidaire in the National Assembly but not of the National Assembly. The party’s elected deputies should act as tribunes of the people accountable to the working class, social and climate justice movements.

– Win QS to a Workers’ Agenda. Win the unions to QS.  Quebec needs a fighting party of the working class and its allies.

– Block the CAQ, starting with its racist anti-immigrant agenda and clear the path for mass action against austerity, a halt to climate vandalism, for real climate amelioration, and in support of workers’ and popular struggles.

The Bosses’ Trade Deals Hurt Workers

by Barry Weisleder

On October 2 negotiators reached a new continental trade deal.  It’s called the USMCA.  Despite a familiar cadence, it’s not a cover version of the song by the Village People.  It’s NAFTA 2.0.  Should we be grateful that it’s not worse than it is?

First, the good news. Chapter 11 between Canada and the U.S.A. is gone. The investor-state dispute settlement provisions that were in the North America Free Trade Agreement allowed U.S. corporations to sue Canada for billions over policies and laws that infringed on corporate profits.

Energy proportionality is also gone. It required Canada to send a set percentage of its energy resources to the U.S., even in times of shortages.

In addition to the elimination of these two harmful provisions, the cultural exemption clause from NAFTA 1.0 is retained, which allows for promotion of local (Canadian) artists in the mass media. And there are signs of improved labour standards too, including increased wages and collective bargaining freedoms for Mexican workers.  40% of autos and auto parts must be made in factories where workers earn at least $16 US/hour.  But don’t think for a moment that Washington is trying to help Mexican workers.  It is merely making it more expensive for the auto giants to produce south of the Rio Grande.

Now, here is the bad news.  Farmers will pay a heavy price as NAFTA 2 opens Canada’s market to more U.S. dairy products, including products that contain bovine growth hormone (BGH), a genetically modified hormone that is injected in cows to make them produce more milk. BGH has been banned in Canada due to its link to serious health concerns.

If the deal is ratified, there will be increased deregulation and harmonization of rules to accelerate approvals for massive pipelines to be built.

Patents on pharmaceuticals, like biologic drugs, have also been extended to ten years.  That means it will take longer for generic drugs to get to the market. This will keep drug prices higher – and often unaffordable – for longer, and could have an impact on any attempt to implement a national pharma care plan in Canada.

What is also clear is that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – is still based on a trade model that puts corporate interests over people and the environment.

This new NAFTA deal doesn’t address climate change. It still leaves fresh water vulnerable to corporate interests that want to buy and sell it. It does not, despite promises by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, include provisions on gender equality or Indigenous rights.

In many ways, NAFTA 2 is cut from the same cloth as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Ottawa also agreed to let Washington and Mexico vet any future trade deal with a “non-market economy”.  That means Canada could get kicked out for trading with China.

Toronto Star columnist Tom Walkom calls the USMCA “a fraud” because it doesn’t guarantee the key benefit it promises:  free trade access to the huge U.S. market.  It’s not free trade.

If there’s one positive takeaway, it’s that activists have shown it’s possible to change things that were once thought unchangeable in trade agreements.  But have no illusions.  When bosses negotiate across borders, the losers every time, to one degree or another, are workers on all sides.

The high tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed by Donald Trump remain in place.  Trump cited “national security” as the reason.  This can be the excuse for imposing high tariffs on anything in the future.

If there were revolutionary socialists in Parliament or Congress, they would vote against this deal, like its rotten predecessors, and fight for a Workers’ Agenda.

We demand:

  • No barriers against the free movement of workers.
  • Nationalize the energy giants, the big banks, the telecoms, all the major means of production, distribution and exchange, under workers’ and community control.
  • Make the polluters clean up their mess.  Money for good jobs, not for war and plunder of the environment.

The Caravan that Defies Borders

The Caravan that Defies Borders
by Elena Zeledon
San Jose, Costa Rica – The 8,000 poor people marching together through the states of Central America towards the United States, are another sign that the pillars of imperialist domination, already weakened by the blows of the global recession in 2008, are now shaken by the exploding social contradictions of this organic crisis.
The caravan participants, marching together as a precaution against attacks from both human traffickers (coyotes) and the drug gangs linked to the forces of state repression, are primarily from Honduras, the geographic keystone in the military and intelligence networks of US imperialism in Central America.
It was there that the mildly reformist liberal Mel Zelaya, the elected president, was expelled in a coup sponsored by the US intelligence community, and carried out by its surrogates in the Honduran military and Congress under the direction of Hillary Clinton. But it is not the first caravan from Central America which has fought its way northward.
In March of this year, a smaller caravan of 4,000 people from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala made its way to the US-Mexican border, despite threats from the racist and xenophobic regime of Donald Trump to send troops to the border to confront the refugees.
Why This Caravan, Why Now
It is hard to comprehend the hardships that these poor people are enduring in their flight to what they believe will be a better life. What drives them forward? The overarching reason is to try to escape a life of grinding poverty which afflicts the whole region, a condition of existence directly linked to the domination of the economic life of these countries by foreign, primarily US-based multi-national corporations (MNCs).
Those firms, working in conjunction with the ruling capitalist oligarchies and their repressive state apparatuses, act as a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking up massive amounts of surplus value created by the super-exploited working masses of the region. This leaves a portion for the oligarchs, who in general act as service and financial facilitators for this exploitation.  The sums are not insignificant, given the population of these semi-colonial countries which, if Mexico is included, exceeds that of France and Germany combined.
It has also resulted in a permanent fiscal crisis of the state, both because of outright looting of the treasuries (the wife of the former president of Honduras has been charged with stealing $40,000,000 USD from the social security fund, for example).  Indeed, the lack of a permanent tax regime upon which a robust social security program can be based, has worsened conditions over the past 10 years in the countries of the region.
Despite the states of Central America receiving above average rates of Foreign Direct Investment flows in the years immediately preceding the 2008 Great Recession, that rate was cut by 30 per cent after 2008. Now, with the US central bank raising interest rates, we witness direct capital outflows from the region (and likewise from many of the weaker developed capitalist economies, like Turkey and Argentina).
This has meant a rising unemployment and underemployment rate for the young people of Central America, and an attendant rise in the proliferation of gangs and illegal activities, especially working in the trans-national drug trade, where money is easy and life is short. These mass migration caravans are primarily made up of young people, many fleeing the threats of violence and death from gang members, and whose sole wish is to escape this poverty.
In addition, the increase in the present number of highly politicized migration incidents, despite a longer-term decrease in the trend of refugee applications, there is an increasingly tighter labour market in the United States itself. Tighter market conditions mean more jobs are available in the poorest paid sectors of the service industry, like migrant farm labour and household workers, not subject to minimum wage and working conditions laws. Undocumented immigrant workers make up almost 80% of these workers, a labour pool which is routinely doubly exploited.
Finally, in the specific instance of this caravan from Honduras, the increasing repression of the Honduran state against young people and a wide-open neo-liberal program of investments freed from any regulations and restraint, is a result of the December 2017 election.
The election, which even the normally docile lap dog of US imperialism, the Organization of American States (OAS) deemed to be fraudulent, was stolen by the oligarchy headed by Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) in broad daylight. The Popular Front candidate had a seemingly insurmountable lead when the Election Tribunal called a halt to the counting, claiming a computer glitch. When the counting resumed, the lead slowly disappeared and JOH was declared re-elected (itself a violation of the Honduran constitution).
The reaction of the Honduran working class was a massive show of force repudiating the election result. In many of the poorer barrios of the country, and especially in the north part of the country. The uprising took on a semi-insurrectional character. Barricades were erected and the National Police were chased from the neighborhoods. In several cases involving los Tigres, a special anti-insurrectional police unit formed for that specific purpose, it refused to repress the mass movement and publicly declared its neutrality, saying it was a political, not a police problem.
However, since the ebb of this wave of protest, largely due to the tail-ist position of much of the left to the electoralist orientation of the bourgeois leadership of the Popular Front known as LIBRE, the government has increased its repression, taking the form of assassination of social movement leaders, particularly indigenous and trade union activists, beatings, threats and jailing of suspected neighborhood militants, and the firing of those with steady employment. This government is being advised by Alvaro Uribe, the death squad former president of Colombia.
Trump and the Politics of Immigration 
As across Europe, immigration has become a rallying point for the right and the neo-Nazis in the United States. Trump, who now declares he is a nationalist, not unlike Victor Orban, Marie Le Pen, and Nigel Farage, and has been busy pumping his political base with a series of rallies prior to the mid-term US elections on November 6.
Trump’s political repertoire portrays immigrants with the most vile, racist and xenophobic images: Mexicans are rapists and criminals; Central Americans are all members of MS 13, the Mara Salvatruchas, heavily tattooed young gang members active in El Salvador and Honduras.  Ironically, the name derives from a Salvadoran general whose exploits in 1858, as part of the United Army of Central America, helped in the defeat of William Walker and the Filibusters, a US mercenary force that tried to conquer Central America.
According to Trump and the Republicans, members of the caravans are being funded by billionaire Democratic Party contributor George Soros and criminals, many from the Middle East.  For Trump and his ilk, no epithet is too demeaning or too filthy. Soros, of course, is the primary initiator behind the university in Hungary, which anti-Semite Viktor Orban is trying to close. This International of Scum knows no limits.
The Democrats, fearing anything which might upset their perceived best chances in the election, have remained mute in the face of this onslaught. They know that any highlighting the plight of these poor people from Honduras will immediately raise the question of their complicity in creating the conditions causing this movement.
The racist, imperialist social culture of the United States is being used as a hammer against the poor working classes of its own “back yard”. Faced with this situation, what should the left do?
The first response from the militant Left should be to raise the demand “Open the Borders”, and “No One is Illegal”. This slogan cuts across the entire ideological construct of “US exceptionalism” — a constant smokescreen for the activities of North American imperialism.
The second is to find ways of mobilizing the populations of the border states of California, Texas, and Arizona. This area of the United States is heavily Latino. In fact, the majority of working class Californians have Latino roots. (The GDP of California is the 6th largest in the world, which underlines its importance). Already efforts are being made to organize actions to raise the need for cross-border solidarity in places like Los Angeles.  How wonderful it would be if the North American Left united in common actions to help mobilize those with the power to open the borders to desperate Mexican and Central American workers.

Open the Border for the Migrant Caravan
About 10,000 people are in transit from the south of Mexico. They are fleeing poverty and violence in their countries of origin to try to reach the United States. While President Trump continues to spout xenophobic threats we must reach out in solidarity to our migrant brothers and sisters.
October 26, 2018
Trump plans to cut “aid” from United States to the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But the actual purpose of this “aid” is to fund the forces of repression, increase the fortunes of ruling politicians and businessmen and ensure “homeland security” in the United States.
It has been reported that 7,233 people registered for migrant services from the government of Mexico as of October 20. It has also been estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 people have crossed the Suchiate River at the Mexican-Guatemalan border.
This new wave of migration is made up of women, children, young people, adults and elderly people who are driven by despair. They can no longer live in their countries, without job opportunities and subject to the violence spread by organized crime and the forces of repression, which often work together. They have resisted the brutal repression by the Mexican federal police at the border and are continuing their march. Along the way, they have been supported by the solidarity of the Mexican people, who have given them words of encouragement and donated clothing, shoes and food.
We are witnessing a humanitarian crisis caused by the criminalization and repression of the migrants by the servile governments of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. They are doing the dirty work for Trump, a xenophobic racist who built his fortune on the backs of migrant workers in the construction and hotel industries in the United States.
The Trump administration continues a long history of imperialist aggression against the Central American region, to the point that for all intents and purposes Central America is viewed as “imperialism’s backyard.” As a result, the region suffers the worst ills of U.S. capitalism.
The economic crisis of 2008 had a profound impact on the region, resulting in unemployment, repressive governments, increased capitalist barbarity as well as migration. The government of Juan Orlando Hernández in Honduras is a good example of what happened to the region after the 2008 crisis. The main causes of this migration wave are, therefore, both U.S. imperialism under the Trump administration and the Mexican and Central American governments, who are servile and submissive to imperialism but brutally repressive against their respective working classes and poor.
The repression unleashed by Mexican authorities is raising awareness among a sector of the migrants that is denouncing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s subordination to the imperialist Trump.
Mexico: One of the Most Dangerous Countries for Migrants
Year after year, migrants have embarked on one of the most dangerous journeys in the world to cross Mexico and reach U.S. soil with the hope of a better life. They take this risk to escape organized crime in their countries of origin, linked to parties representing corporate interests, and the extreme poverty in which these parties have submerged the countries of Central American.
On Mexican soil, the migrants are confronted with the brutality of immigration agents, the police, the army and navy, in addition to bad weather conditions. We will not forget cases such as the massacres of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, when the police handed over hundreds of migrants to the cartels, who executed them. Their hopes and dreams faded into the dismal mist of militarization and the spread of organized crime.
This caravan has brought together thousands who are trying to enter Mexico to cross the Rio Bravo, a perilous venture undertaken by thousands of Mexicans every day. They make this journey with no resources, with no money, with almost no luggage.
They are workers, poor peasants and their children, displaced by capitalist plunder, survivors of militarization. They are the brothers and sisters of the working class, communities, indigenous peoples, women and young people of Mexico, facing displacement in rural areas, drug trafficking and transnational projects for the extraction of natural resources. They also suffer extreme exploitation at the hands of multinationals operating in Mexico and have experienced firsthand the dire consequences of the “drug war” and militarization.
In 2017, other Central American migrants who were passing through stopped their march to support the rescue efforts after the earthquakes in September. The government and reactionary sectors of Mexico have forgotten this. We must fight against Peña Nieto’s wall and the xenophobia promoted by the government in mass media and social media.
Workers’ and People’s Solidarity With our Central American Brothers and Sisters
Today, they need the support of the workers and people of Mexico. We must take to the streets by the thousands to support full social and political rights for all migrants, for the free movement of people in the countries of the region. No human being is illegal!
We must spread effective solidarity with our migrant brothers. The trade unions and popular and left organizations must take the lead. We must collect food, clothing and first aid materials in every workplace, school and neighborhood. Proper accommodations must be provided in unions, schools and housing areas under the control of popular urban movement organizations. These places must offer migrants protection from deportation.
The working class is one and has no boundaries!
A national conference of solidarity with migrant caravan must be organized during its passage through Mexico City, to create a national network to organize the reception of the caravan in the different states.
We must confront the xenophobia spewed by Trump, who separated thousands of migrant children from their families and is keeping them incarcerated. We are have had enough of his insults and threats, his wall and his private prisons. We must take to the streets, chanting “Down with the wall and all of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies!”
Against the servile subordination of the Mexican government, operating as an agent of the anti-immigrant offensive launched by U.S. imperialism, against the Central American governments that also follow its orders, we must build a continental movement against imperialist interference in the region, for full social and political for all migrants’ rights and for their free transit through the countries of the region.

SA/LAS letter to the Trotskyist Faction-Fourth International

       In 2016 and 2017 Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste (Canadian state) contributed to the formation of a new revolutionary political current in the Fourth International.  It was based on a text which constituted a sound, principled and absolutely necessary challenge to the F.I. leadership’s abandonment of the historic programme of world Trotskyism.  Published in six languages, the document gained support by organizations and individuals around the world.  Unfortunately, the Platform for a Revolutionary International obtained few votes at the World Congress held in March 2018.
       At the SA/LAS convention in Toronto in May 2018 we pledged to continue our close collaboration with our American comrades in Socialist Action (USA), our very good relations with the Fourth International section in Greece, with the comrades of the Anticapitalist and Revolution (AetR) tendency of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) in France, with the Revolutionary Left Anti-capitalists (IZAR) in Spain, with Socialist Democracy in Ireland, with the LUS in Mexico, and with co-thinkers in Italy, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong and other countries. Our efforts to participate in the FI as a sympathizing organization, or even to attain observer status, have seemingly reached a dead end. The decision of the 1995 World Congress to include SA/LAS in all F.I. gatherings has been systematically violated. Farcically, the dormant Gauche socialiste in Quebec, which claims to have ten members, remains the official F.I. section in Canada. 
       At the World Congress the policy of abandonment of revolutionary strategy, which has led to the liquidation of numerous national sections, was again affirmed.  As a result, it is clear that to build a revolutionary workers’ international, and to participate directly in that work, SA/LAS must turn its attention to significant Trotskyist parties operating elsewhere, especially in Latin America, and to seek direct political collaboration with them.
       One such body is the Trotskyist Faction-Fourth International, best known for its largest component, the Socialist Workers’ Party (PTS) in Argentina and the publication “Left Voice.”  Despite some political differences we have with it, the TF exhibits the continuity of the internationalism of Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, James P. Cannon, Farrell Dobbs, Maurice Spector, Jack MacDonald, and of Latin American revolutionaries Jose Carlos Mariategui, Justo Fosso, Hugo Blanco and Nahuel Moreno. In essence, we want to link the strongest threads of revolutionary Marxism found in the Americas.
       Below, please see recent correspondence between SA/LAS and the TF.
       Revolutionary politics is immensely practical. We contend that there will be no solution to the organic crisis of capitalism and its steady, toxic decay within any national framework. Not anywhere in the world, but especially not here in the heart of the imperialist beast. There will be no solution to catastrophic climate change, growing inequality, racism, the subjugation of women and national minorities, and the deepening exploitation of workers on this continent and globally without a mass, co-ordinated struggle for the destruction of North American imperialism and its agents in the dominated countries of Central and South America. That means, as it has since the days of the Third International of Lenin and Trotsky, the development of a world party of socialist revolution, that is, an international organization of the vanguard of the continental and global working classes.
       If you agree with us that it is time to end this global system of domination and exploitation of the immense majority of humanity, which is designed to fill the coffers of the billionaires and their hangers-on; if you, like us, believe that the paid off politicians of the capitalist parties, and the privileged bureaucrats of the North American labour movement must be replaced by leaders with the courage, clarity and determination to mobilize the ranks to end that system, we say this to you:
       Join Us. Help build the indispensable tool which can free humanity from a cruel fate. Build the revolutionary party and the revolutionary workers’ international.
On Friday, July 27, 2018 at 12:06 a.m., the following message was sent to the Trotskyist Faction – Fourth International
Dear Juan Cruz and comrades of the Trotskyist Faction – Fourth International,
The statement below is the response of our leadership to your invitation to read and reflect on the basic analysis and positions of the TF-FI.  Let us know what you think of it, and how you see discussion and collaboration between our party and your international current proceeding.
comradely yours,
Barry Weisleder,
Federal Secretary, Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste in the Canadian state
Political convergences and differences with the Trotskyist Faction
The Trotskyist Fraction (TF) has shown what can be done when a small group of revolutionary Marxists dedicate themselves to building a Leninist party rooted in the working class and how such a party can grow, establish an international on-line presence and form a front with other revolutionary organizations in Argentina that play a significant role in the class struggle.
We are in broad agreement with the analysis and strategic orientation of the comrades of the TF as outlined in their 2013 Manifesto and updated texts. The documents are in the best tradition of Revolutionary Marxism going back to the early Communist International. They present a coherent analysis in an accessible and pedagogic style.

Important areas of agreement
– We agree that refounding a revolutionary Fourth International is necessary. Also, that this will arise from a fusion of forces, propelled by a deepening of the crisis of global capitalism and an increase in the tempo of class struggle. As a first step, we concur with opening a discussion, under the auspices of a Movement for a Revolutionary Socialist International or some other framework.
– We share the analysis of the stagnation of global capitalism after 2008, the crisis of leadership in the workers’ movement and for the most part the view of the political conjuncture in Latin America, Europe, the United States and the Middle East.  One clear difference is over Cuba, less obviously over Syria (see below). The TF’s analysis is thinner in the case of the UK (Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn).
– We concur with your defense of the theory of permanent revolution and its contemporary application to Egypt and the ‘pink tide’ regimes in Latin America. Another valuable contribution in the Manifesto is to demonstrate how the demands of the ‘democratic revolution’ can only be realized in a transitional and ‘permanentist’ framework.
– Finally, we share the view that the construction of revolutionary parties is imperative and that the international conjuncture opens up new possibilities for achieving this.

Points of divergence: Social Democracy, Syria and Cuba
– In tracing the crisis of international social democracy, the comrades of the TF appear to neglect its uneven application. Each national context presents an original combination of the general features of the historical period.
The Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon in the UK, and on a lesser scale the rise of the DSA in the United States, testify to this uneven and contradictory character. Social democratic parties are generally undergoing a deepening crisis of delegitimation.   But this analysis should not be applied in a mechanical and linear fashion. The picture is uneven, depending on the history of the workers’ movement and the vicissitudes of the class struggle in different national settings.  Revolutionary Marxists need to be sensitive to these specific and contradictory dynamics, whatever tactics they adopt to relate to them.
Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) is a weak social democratic party, which is patterned after the British Labour Party.  It was launched in 1961 on the initiative of the Canadian Labour Congress and the CCF, a social democratic party founded in 1933.   The NDP is frequently elected to office at the provincial level but has never won a federal mandate.  Its leadership is pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist. Nevertheless, it is supported by class conscious workers who have broken with the parties of Canadian capital, the Liberals and Conservatives. There is no party to the left of the NDP outside of the tiny neo-Stalinist Communist Party and a few small groups of Trotskyist or Maoist persuasion.
Quebec Solidaire is a small mass party confined to Quebec that grew out of the crisis of the bourgeois nationalist Parti Quebecois.  It is a ‘left’ rather than a labour-based party that is not yet as bureaucratized as the NDP.  But power is increasingly in the hands of a party leadership whose vision is limited to getting elected on a program of mild reforms.
Socialist Action seeks to build a class struggle left wing in the mass organizations of the Canadian and Quebec working class. The bureaucratic misleaders of our class must be challenged outside of but also within those mass organizations. That is the basis for our fraction work in the unions and in the NDP.
Our work in relation to the NDP, like our activity in the labour unions, is fundamentally a function of our strategic orientation to the working class and its mass organizations. We have no ideological affinity to social democracy, let alone the anemic version of it embodied in the NDP.
The NDP cannot be transformed. It has all the fatal weaknesses of social democracy. We work there because it has been possible to advance a principled program of a transitional character and we are able meet and discuss with the working class base of the party. At the same time, the majority of our activity is focused outside the NDP.  
 – After Libya, does it really make sense to assimilate Syria to the ascendant phase of the Arab Spring rather than to imperialism’s counteroffensive? Revolutionaries cannot confuse their wishes for reality. US imperialism was caught off guard in Tunisia and Egypt. But the popular insurgency in Syria was rapidly militarized and hegemonized by reactionary Islamist forces. The Baathist regime retained its social base and its army remained intact despite heavy losses.  We are not partisans of Assad any more than we were of Gadhafi. But the demonization of Third World autocrats is an old imperialist ploy. In any case, it is the task of the Arab masses and no one else to settle accounts with their rulers.  
Imperialism’s violations of national sovereignty, in whatever guise, must be consistently opposed.   As the TF comrades acknowledge, victory for the US and its allies in Syria would strengthen imperialism’s grip in the region and globally while reinforcing militarism and reaction at home.
Summing up the war in Syria as “a reactionary civil war” and a confrontation between “global powers” stops short of what is required to understand this brutal conflict. In our view, this is fundamentally a proxy war sponsored by Washington and its allies (including Canada) aimed at regime change and failing that, weakening the Syrian state.  The call for the overthrow of Assad while rejecting any collaboration with imperialism is an abstraction. In the heartland of imperialism, it can only serve to disorient the anti-war movement. We hope for a US defeat in this war.  Revolutionary Marxists should defend Syria’s sovereignty including its right to call for assistance from its allies. This is a principled anti-imperialist stand not to be confused with the campism of the Stalinist and neo-Stalinist left, who offer a reflex political defense of any regime targeted by imperialism.
Likewise, we are not political apologists for Putin.  We recognize, however, the essentially defensive character of Russia’s intervention in Syria and Ukraine.  It cannot be equated to the aggressive policy of Washington and its NATO allies.
It is not clear if, like the IST, the TF regards Russia as a fully-fledged imperialist power and the war in Syria as in essence an inter-imperialist struggle.
– Defense of the Cuban Revolution including its leadership goes back a long way among Canadian Trotskyists. Comrades in a predecessor organization played an exemplary role in building solidarity with the nascent Cuban revolution in the early sixties. We have been influenced by Joe Hansen’s analysis of Cuba which we believe has stood the test of time. We are aware that Latin American and European Trotskyists have not viewed the Cuban leadership as favourably.
We acknowledge that Cuba lacks genuine institutions of workers’ democracy and revolutionary political pluralism.
But for us, Cuba is less bureaucratized than the former USSR, with a lesser degree of material privilege and repression while demonstrating a greater capacity for self-criticism and correction. After Che, who tried to light the torch of revolution internationally, the Cuban leadership relied in large measure on defensive diplomacy to resist the pressure of U.S. imperialism.  Dependent as it was on Soviet assistance, the regime adapted to Stalinism, more so at certain times than others. However, weighed against this must be Cuba’s exemplary internationalism quite unique for a ‘bureaucratized workers’ state’, examples of which include its medical missions, and its decisive military engagement in Africa in the 1980’s against the forces of the apartheid South African regime.
Trotsky only considered the political degeneration of the Third International to have crossed the point of no return after 1933 with the refusal of the German KPD to build a workers’ united front against fascism. We do not see an equivalent counter-revolutionary watermark in the case of the Cuban CP.
That is why we have not called for the formation of a revolutionary party to oppose the Cuban CP.  Even less do we support a political revolution to overthrow the Cuban bureaucracy.  Cuba’s international role has not been counterrevolutionary in our view.
The traditional policy of our political current is not to advocate the construction of a party in opposition to the Cuban Communist Party, but to support the establishment of a Trotskyist tendency within the CCP, alongside our efforts to advance socialist political pluralism and the defense and extension of the gains of the revolution.  
Growing inequality and weakened solidarity risk undermining the achievements of the revolution. It would be foolish to dismiss the possibility of a restoration of capitalism in Cuba and re-absorption by imperialism. But for the comrades of the TF, this appears to be a foregone conclusion while we believe this judgment is premature. We intend to follow political developments in Cuba on these important questions while continuing our line (shared by the Trotskyist Fraction) of unconditional defense of the Cuban revolution against imperialist aggression whether blockade, internal meddling or war.

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There is much more we could add but we feel that is best left to the unfolding discussion between our tendencies which we very much hope will continue.

Comradely greetings,

Central Committee, Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’action socialiste in the Canadian state

Ligue pour L'Action Socialiste