Tag Archives: Politics

Socialist Action remarks at the Hands Off Venezuela rally at US Consulate on September 16, 2017

Socialist Action remarks at the Hands Off Venezuela rally at US Consulate on September 16, 2017
Good afternoon.  My name is Elizabeth Byce and I am speaking to you on behalf of Socialist Action.  I am a retired member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and a past Secretary of the Toronto Labour Council.
Here’s a riddle:  How can you tell when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is lying?  Answer:  When you see his lips moving.
Trudeau promised electoral reform.  He lied!
Trudeau promised no pipelines without the consent of indigenous peoples.  He lied!
He promised action on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.  He lied!
He promised thousands of good, new jobs through massive investment in public works.  He lied!
Trudeau promised to reverse Stephen Harper’s pro-war policies.  He lied!
Trudeau said “Canada is back” on the world stage as a force for peace.  Well, that’s a double lie.
The Canadian state was never a force for peace.  Just ask the people of Congo, of Palestine, of the Syrian Golan Heights.  Just ask the people of Vietnam, of Afghanistan, of Libya, and Haiti.  Just ask the Acadians, the Quebecois, and the indigenous people of Turtle Island.  
Canada is a colonial-settler, racist, imperialist state.  Worldwide, it props up the capitalist system of plunder and oppression.  It promotes Canadian mining corporations, like HudBay Minerals, that poison the soil and water of farmers in Central and South America, in Africa and in East Asia.  Canadian imperialism exploits migrant workers, and it condones hazardous working conditions here.
In its first budget, the Trudeau Liberal government increased military spending by 70%.  Do you think that was a step for social justice?  Was it a feminist act?  Or was it mainly to line the pockets of the war industry?  The military is the biggest polluter on Earth.
Justin Trudeau is not just the continuation of Stephen Harper.  He is exceeding the Tories by putting more Canadian troops in Eastern Europe, by backing the reactionary regime in Kiev, by supporting the western war on Syria, by heating up the cold war against Russia, China and North Korea.  Finally, there is the naked imperialism of Washington, fully backed by Ottawa, towards the sovereign nation of Venezuela.
The lying Liberals in Ottawa have no business lecturing Venezuela on the subject of constitutional reform.  On July 30 over 8 million people voted in Venezuela to elect a National Constituent Assembly, despite a richly funded right wing campaign of boycott and sabotage. Now the new Assembly is moving to entrench the rights of workers, farmers, women and indigenous peoples. 
The violence and scarcities that exist in Venezuela are mainly the product of actions by the right wing business elite, and their backers on Wall Street and Bay Street.  Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland have to answer for their despicable alliance with Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson.
One more thing.  Equally disgusting is the position of the New Democratic Party.  Its Foreign Affairs Critic, Helen Laverdiere (LA VER DEE AIR), called the election in Venezuela “illegitimate”.  She urged Ottawa to weaken the Maduro government in the Organization of American States.  Clearly, she, and Thomas Mulcair who met with the wife of a Venezuelan terrorist leader, stand with the American Empire.  They betray the interests of millions of workers here and abroad.  We ask the candidates for NDP leader to condemn this policy, and to demand, as we do, the resignation of the NDP Foreign Affairs Critic!
The world has many problems:  capitalist greed, growing inequality, climate catastrophe.  Parts of Texas, Florida, and much of Caribbean were flooded and wrecked, not because of Venezuela, but because of the capitalist system that puts profit before people and nature.  The alternative to capitalism is socialism.  It will take a socialist revolution to get there.  To win we must defend the right of all peoples to self-determination.
Working class organizations in this country must say loud and clear:  We are all Venezuelans!  No to sanctions!  No Coup!  No invasion!  An injury to one is an injury to all!
Together, let’s go forward from this rally.  Let’s build a mass movement for social justice and against foreign intervention. Let’s take it to every work place, to the immigrant neighborhoods, to the busy streets of Toronto.  Solidarity forever!  Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela!

Khadr Deal Exposes Ottawa’s Hypocrisy

By Barry Weisleder

Omar Khadr, the Canadian who was captured in the frenzy of a firefight in Afghanistan, and who was tortured in Guantanamo, remains a lightning rod for controversy.  At the same time, his case reveals much about the character of the political parties that inhabit Parliament.

The $10.5 million settlement and apology by the Justin Trudeau Liberal government have raised the ire of the Conservative Party, right wing bloggers and talk show hosts.  Former Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper weighed in to congratulate the demagogues and racists who seek to re-direct the funds to a U.S. military widow and to further punish Khadr.

But the Liberal Party deserves neither praise nor credit for trying to close this embarrassing file.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hand was forced by decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, including its 2010 ruling that Khadr’s charter rights were breached.  In that light, Khadr’s $20 million law suit seemed more than likely to win.  And don’t forget that it was the Liberal government of Jean Chretien that sent thousands of Canadian troops on an imperialist mission impossible into Afghanistan.  The same Liberal regime refused to press Washington to release Khadr, a Canadian citizen, into Ottawa’s custody.  Indeed, Canadian officials interrogated him in Guantanamo in 2003 and 2004, without legal representation, knowing he was a minor and had been subjected to torture.

Largely overlooked in the latest round of disputation is the clincher argument.  It applies equally to the hard and soft factions of the pro-military patriots:

Washington had no business charging Khadr with murder, whether he caused the death or injury of U.S. personnel in uniform, or not.  If Khadr was a child soldier, which the United Nations says he was by virtue of being under 18, then he wasn’t responsible for his actions.  Alternatively, if Khadr ought to have been regarded as a soldier, then he did what all soldiers are expected to do – fight with weapons at hand when attacked.

Despite the demise of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Khadr remains the only captive charged with killing a soldier.  Is there another example, going back to the beginning of warfare?

The Tories and Liberals, like bad actors in a hard cop, soft cop drama, equally join the fray for power and plunder.  They differ only over the rhetoric and timing to be employed, not principle.

The union-based New Democratic Party, on the other hand, has no material interest in supporting imperialism.  Still, the NDP regularly gets sucked into backing wars due to a combination of pro-capitalism and cowardice on the part of its leaders.  It wasn’t until after the 2006 federal NDP convention in Quebec City, where the NDP Socialist Caucus and other anti-war delegates won the issue, that the NDP parliamentary caucus under Leader Jack Layton finally demanded “Canada Out of Afghanistan.”  For that policy, the corporate media dubbed him “Taliban Jack.”

More recently, the NDP has supported the bid for justice for Omar Khadr, but did so, sotto voce, and on purely legalistic grounds.

The Green Party, to its credit, lambasted the Conservative Loyal Opposition for its transparent racism and high disregard for civil liberties.  The Bloc Quebecois took a similar stance.

Unfortunately, none of the parties addressed the root of the problem, the profit system – not even to the extent of demanding that Canada exit NATO.

The Omar Khadr case shows that progress has been made, and also that there is far to go.  We learn again that gains come from grass roots, mass, independent working class political action.  That principle is the best guide now to stopping the western-backed war on Syria, and the threats against the elected government of Venezuela.

Poles Protest Attack on Judiciary

by Barry Weisleder (dateline: Warsaw, July 23)

At the end of a mid-summer bus tour of this eastern European country, replete with feudal relics, perogies and déclassé intellectuals moon-lighting as tour guides, we encountered a truly massive protest in Warsaw.  It was dusk on July 22.

The ultra-conservative regime of President Andrzej Duda sparked a wave of demonstrations, nationwide, by pushing a law through the two chambers of Poland’s parliament (Sejm) that would enable the government to control the Supreme Court.  This crude power play by the anti-immigrant, anti-abortion Duda was performed in three acts:  1. Securing the right to fire the heads of lower courts.  2. Taking control of the body that appoints judges.  3. Forcing all Supreme Court judges to step down, except for those retained by Poland’s president.

Continue reading Poles Protest Attack on Judiciary

Moncada Commemoration: Affirming History,  Independence and the Cause of Peace and Justice

by Isaac Saney, National Spokesperson, Canadian Network On Cuba

On July 26, 1953, a group of courageous young men and women — led by Fidel Castro — attacked the Moncada Barracks in the city of Santiago de Cuba, and the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Barracks in Bayamo, in an attempt to overthrow the U.S. supported puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista. As the island’s second largest military garrison, the Moncada Barracks was critical to Batista’s military control of southern Cuba. The goal was to seize the weapons and distribute them to the people and spark a national uprising that would not only overthrow the Batista dictatorship but also establish Cuba’s independence and sovereignty. This heroic act is annually commemorated all over Cuba as the beginning of the movement and struggle that laid the foundation of the Cuban Revolution. 

This year’s commemorations are imbued with a particular poignancy;  it is the first without the physical presence of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. Fidel epitomized the unbending commitment to Justice, Dignity and Independence that has characterized Cuba since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.  Fidel’s living legacy continues in the work of the Cuban Revolution. Fidel’s example and fidelity to principle continue to inspire the Cuban people, who continue on the path of independence, self-determination and human dignity. 

The attacks were carried out by an organization that was created in 1952, under the leadership of Fidel Castro and Abel Santamaria, and comprised of young workers, students, artisans, peasants and landless farmers. It had around 1,500 members and affiliated itself with historic Cuban national liberation figures such as José Martí and Antonio Maceo. Around 120 youths were part of the attacks, approximately 70 of whom were killed, with many being tortured and executed after the attack. The survivors, including Fidel Castro, were subsequently put on trial and given lengthy prison sentences. Most, including Fidel Castro, were released after an amnesty in May 1955. This amnesty was the result of the mass mobilization of Cubans in support of the imprisoned rebels. Under the leadership of Fidel Castro, the July 26th Movement galvanized Cubans, ultimately leading to the victory of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959.

The Moncada Barracks shortly after the July 26, 1953 attack. The barracks have been converted into a school
and Museum of the Revolution where the bullet holes shown here can be seen to this day.

While the Moncada attack failed in fulfilling its immediate objective, it was central to the Cuban people’s struggle for national affirmation and social emancipation. Cubans have always placed Moncada in a broad historical context, viewing it as a crucial link in the century-long striving of Cuba to free itself from Spanish colonial domination and U.S. tutelage, and then, establish authentic independence. At his trial Fidel Castro delivered a speech that eventually became the manifesto of the movement to overthrow the Batista tyranny. It was published as La Historia Me Absolvera (History Will Absolve Me) and laid out the national and social goals of the revolutionary movement that eventually triumphed on January 1, 1959. Today, the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks, now a school and a museum, stand as concrete symbols of that successful struggle.

Canadian commemorations of Moncada Day are a reflection of the ties that exist between Cuba and Canada. Canadians admire the courageous and rebellious spirit embodied in Moncada; a spirit that today is so powerfully manifested in Cuba’s steadfastness against the efforts of the empire to destroy the island’s independence. Canadians irrespective of their political or ideological positions, stand in favour of building relations with Cuba based on mutual respect and equality, relations which uphold Cuba’s right to self-determination and sovereignty. Having traveled to Cuba in the hundreds of thousands and having witnessed Cuban reality for themselves, Canadians have come away with a profound respect and admiration for the Cuban people and their efforts to build and defend a society centred on independence, justice and human dignity.

Raúl and Fidel in the Sierra Maestra during the Cuban Revolutionary War

Since the Cuban people embarked on the road paved by Moncada, Cuba has refuted and continues to refute the colonialist mentality and practice of foisting on independent countries imperial arrangements and dictates that they resoundingly reject. The Cuban Revolution has refused to renounce its right to self-determination and the principles, principles forged in the crucible of Moncada.

In the years that have flashed by since Moncada, the Cuban people have shown what is possible to achieve when one defends genuine independence and self-determination. The example of Cuba assumes even greater significance as the 21st century unfolds, fraught with grave dangers that threaten the well being of the peoples of the world. In the midst of these profound challenges, Cuba refutes those who argue that relations among the world’s nations and peoples are — and can only be — determined by self-interest, the pursuit of power and wealth. As Cuba continues on the path of social justice, human dignity and international solidarity, the Cuban Revolution continues to be an inspiration to humanity. Cuba demonstrates that it is possible to build relations based on genuine solidarity and social love; it is a living example of the alternatives that permit people to realize their deepest aspirations, and that another better world is possible.  History has given its judgment, vindicating the attack on the Moncada Barracks!

Long Live the Martyrs of Moncada!
Long Live the Cuban Revolution!

VIDEO/PHOTO’S from Education for Activists conference TROTSKY SCHOOL 2013

Congratulations and thanks to all the guest speakers, members and supporters who helped to make the sixth annual Education for Activists Conference a success.  Over forty-five people attended the Socialist Action Trotsky School at OISE U of Toronto.

Security, Surveillance and the Strong State
with speakers Glen Ford, editor of Black Agenda Report, radio host and commentator and Robbie Mahood, member of Quebec Solidaire and a leader of SA/LAS Montreal.
How Revolutionary Youth Movements have
Changed the World
with speakers Lisa Luinenberg, Socialist Action – U.S.A. and Y.S.A. – U.S.A., Tyler Mackinnon, Chairperson, Youth for Socialist Action – Canada, Evan Engering, Y.S.A. – Canada
What is the Labour Bureaucracy
and what should be done about it?
with speaker Barry Weisleder.2013TrotskySchool206
The Democratic Party – Death Trap for U.S. Blacks – The Case for Independent Labour/Black Political Action
with speakers Glen Ford, editor, Black Agenda Report, radio host and commentator and Julius Arscott, V.P. OPSEU Local 532, steering committee member of NDP Socialist Caucus, and leader of Socialist Action/ Ligue pout l’Action socialiste.
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