Tag Archives: Trudeau

No to Trump’s Trade War!

A joint statement by Socialist Action, Canada and Socialist Action, United States of America

The recent imposition of a 25% tariff on steel imports to the United States and a 10% tariff on aluminum from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union follow the earlier imposition of these tariffs on the rest of the world, and even earlier tariffs on solar panels and washing machines aimed at China and South Korea—all by the U.S. Donald Trump administration.

Trump has also threatened to place heavy tariffs on automobiles and parts imported from abroad, and on numerous industrial and technological products from China. He has also re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran and put new sanctions on Russia.

Understanding Trump’s intentions is no easy matter.  He seems motivated more by sheer bravado than rational thought. Trump’s rhetoric often appears to be aimed at playing to his base rather than reflecting any meaningful thoughts about the future. “Make America Great Again” and “America First” are the shibboleths that appeal to his populist supporters.

At the same time, these notions do speak to the interests of a section of the U.S. capitalist class that is falling behind in global capitalist competition. They are supported by a layer of trade-union leaders who hanker for a return of smokestack America with its millions of well-paid manufacturing jobs. These bureaucrats seek to tie the future of U.S. workers to the “success” of their “own” capitalist corporations and their twin parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, as opposed to furthering the independent organization of workers to challenge the root cause of the problem—the fundamental, for-profit-only operations of the capitalist system.

The United States no longer has the only powerful economy in the world. As global competition relentlessly heats up, and the rate of profit tends to fall, the methods of past times don’t work. For many years after World War II—years of American economic hegemony—free trade was the battering ram to force open foreign markets to cheaper U.S. goods. This was likewise the policy of the U.K. during the height of the British Empire, before World War I. In general, capitalist nations operating with the highest, or most advanced levels of technology tend to be “free-traders” while their weaker competitors are “protectionists.”

Trump’s repeated reference to “many jobs, good jobs” appears to mean the re-creation of jobs that have largely disappeared in the United States, such as coal mining, steel making, and auto manufacturing jobs. Most of these have been lost to automation in auto and steel plants. The U.S. makes about as much steel now as in 1960, but with 20% of the previous labor force. Car manufacturing automation is similar.

Underground coal mining is foul, lung-destroying work that hopefully will never return. But the jobs have disappeared only because they are less profitable in the U.S. and worldwide, and not out of any concern on the part of the coal magnates for the health of the miners. Unfortunately, the labor bureaucracy, tied to capitalism hand and foot, prefers to advocate for capitalism’s most polluting jobs rather than challenge the entire deadly energy system in a fight for a just transition that would guarantee all fossil-fuel workers new jobs at union wages in a 100 percent sustainable and nationalized energy system.

Working people have no interest in trade wars. We simply end up bearing the cost.

The United States produces just below 60% of the steel it uses, while importing the rest from 85 other countries. Canada provides 17% of the imports. Other sources of steel to the U.S. include Brazil 14%, South Korea 10%, Mexico 9%, Russia 8%, Germany 4%, and China 2%. If foreign steel and aluminum become much more expensive as a result of the tariffs, U.S. manufacturers who use such materials will no doubt respond in order to protect their profits. Their options include striving even harder to keep wages low, passing on the price rises to consumers, or even closing down U.S.-based manufacturing plants.

Of course, Canadian, Mexican, and European capitalists have all responded with tariffs on American goods. In this way, too, U.S. workers lose jobs. But workers in Canada, Mexico, and Europe will likely face similar problems—higher prices and the loss of more jobs than tariffs can possibly create.

Global capitalist competition is a completely unavoidable aspect of the system of private profit. As competition results in new innovation, and automation increases the rate of profit for the innovator temporarily, these gains are offset again by the rapid adoption of the new technology by competitors and the resulting fall of profit rates.

In their desperate struggle to fight the falling rate of profit, capitalists try to reduce costs by attacking trade unions and workers’ rights, by attacking pay and benefit levels, by attacking general social benefits such as education, medical, and pension benefits, by refusing to accept any responsibility for the massive environmental damage caused by cutthroat capitalist competition, and by transferring production to low-wage, unregulated areas both within and outside their own countries.

In decades past, the volatile world capitalist system sought to mitigate its inherent contradictions through organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO). In this context, the leading representatives of the world’s most important corporations hammered out comprehensive agreements that sought to meet the needs of all the ever-competing capitalists. The stronger capitalists, like the ruling rich in the United States, always had the upper hand because the U.S. market was the largest in the world.

Nevertheless, each sector of capital understood that one or another competitor had an edge in specific commodities that were traded on the world market. Their objective was to balance their various needs with deals. A modicum of French wine was allowed into the United States, for example, while a certain amount of U.S. products was allowed into France under reciprocal conditions.

NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) was in truth, despite its name, a mass of literally thousands of separate negotiated agreements between the ruling elite of Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. These include all kinds of protectionist measures for weaker U.S. corporations, and the same for those in Mexico and Canada.

In the face of intensified cutthroat competition between capitalist powers, the old rules of the game are incapable of resolving the growing contradictions of the system. Trump sounded the alarm for the wing of the U.S. capitalist class whose interests he thinks he represents. Ignoring the delicate or fragile balance that has been hitherto established by his predecessors, he proposes to upset the world capitalist system’s apple cart to advance the interests of his favored elites.

When Trump gifted $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the entire ruling class, there were no complaints. But when Trump departed from measures that benefit the broad sectors of the ruling rich, he faced serious opposition internally, not to mention from the potentially wounded lesser capitalist nations. Hence Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel, cried foul and collectively threatened to retaliate.

The world’s working people have no interest in this potential world conflagration. In the end, when capitalists win, workers lose—a fundamental law of the capitalist system that has been verified many times. The common interest of workers lies in defending working people everywhere against all the onslaughts of capital. This means international solidarity on every front, from united worldwide efforts to organize workers into powerful unions, to united opposition to capitalist wars and capitalist destruction of the environment.

There is no such thing as peaceful and/or regulated competition among capitalist nations. No self-respecting capitalist is in business to be the world’s “nice guy.” There are only winners and losers in this deadly game of production for private profit. Donald Trump simply tore the mask off the brute face of a predatory system in decline. Justin Trudeau plays the same game as Trump on the world scene and makes sure that everyone knows that Canadian capitalism can bare its own claws in the profit game.

Reliance on any of these representatives of the world’s elite to advance the interests of working people is sheer folly. Breaking with their corporate parties in the political arena is the beginning of a serious challenge to capitalist prerogatives. But only the abolition of the capitalist system itself by the direct action of the vast majority of working people can ensure a permanent end to capitalism’s endless trade wars and its actual military wars that plague humanity.

www.socialistaction.ca   647-986-1917

Socialist Action remarks to September 18 rally against Bill C-27

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.

Socialist Action is here to support this protest, initiated by the National Organization of Retired Postal Workers and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, against government Bill C-27.  C-27 would allow Canada Post and other federal employers that established defined-benefit (DB) pension plans, to get rid of their legal obligations to pay promised and already-earned pensions benefits to federal employees, past and present.  If the Defined Benefits Plan is replaced with a Target Benefit Pension Plan, the amount paid to retirees would be geared to the stock market.  If the market goes down, money invested in it would go down too, leaving pensioners with a very insecure retirement.  So, let’s be clear.  Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are out to rob pensioners in order to support the dying capitalist system.  They promised to improve and stabilize pensions.  They lied!  They promised meaningful consultation with everyone affected.  They lied!  And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

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.  Then he sent more soldiers to Eastern Europe, Iraq and Africa, and he increased the military budget by 70%.  So, he lied about all that too!

Should we be surprised?  Heck no!  Bill Morneau doesn’t have to worry about a pension.  He’s a very rich man.

Bill Morneau’s father, Frank Morneau, founded the benefit consulting firm W.F. Morneau & Associates in 1966.  By 1985, the firm had an annual revenue of $5 million. Bill Morneau joined the company in 1987. He was appointed president in 1992, chief executive officer in 1998, and then chair and chief executive officer in 2008.

Morneau Shepell, the largest Canadian human resources services organization, with offices across North America, went from about 200 employees in 1992 to almost 4000 in 2015. The firm bought Sobeco from Ernst & Young in 1997, going public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2005, and acquired Shepell-FGI in 2008.

So where do you think Bill Morneau’s loyalties lie?  With Main Street, or with Bay Street?

Morneau and the Liberal Party are tools of the capitalist class, which sets out to rob the working class every minute of every day.  Their job is to maximize private profit and minimize social benefits.

But it is labour and nature that create all the wealth.  Socialists say that workers make the country run, so workers should run the country.

When the bosses say they can’t afford to pay Defined Pension Benefits, they are lying.  Socialists say Tax the Rich, tax the giant corporations, seize those hidden offshore bank accounts, nationalize the banks and big oil, cut the war budget, and Hands off our pensions!

The answer to capitalist austerity is socialist revolution.  If you want to see real change in Canada, don’t rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.  Fight for socialism.  Join Socialist Action!

Hey, hey, ho, ho.  C-27 has got to go!

Hey, hey, ho, ho.  Bill Morneau has got to go!

Canada Marches In Solidarity with Venezuela

Canada Marches In Solidarity with Venezuela
By Victoria Fleming

Dozens of people, equipped with signs, flags, their resonant voices, and plenty of determination, rallied in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto on Saturday, September 16, to protest imperialistic actions by the United States and Canada towards the democratically elected government in Venezuela.

With large, vibrantly-colored banners, and signs proclaiming “No to U.S. Backed Violence Against the Venezuelan people,” rally participants quickly took over the sidewalk forming an intimate circle, belting out songs, chants, and speeches in a beautiful blend of English and Spanish.

The chorus of protestors decried the history of western capitalist states intervening against democratically elected leftist Latin American governments.  They recited the list of U.S.-led coups and regime change in Chile, Bolivia, and Honduras as evidence for the West’s ulterior motives in Venezuela.

“We want people to demand that Ottawa and Washington keep their hands off Venezuela,” said Barry Weisleder, the Federal Secretary of Socialist Action.

“Venezuela has been under withering assault by Washington, Ottawa, and their allies who really want to get back control of the oil wealth in the country. Venezuela has suffered from the decline in the oil price, but the problems the Western media focuses on have been chiefly the work of big business groups inside and outside the country who have been attempting to overthrow the elected popular government of Venezuela,” he said.

The rally, organized by the Toronto Venezuela Solidarity Committee, as a part of an International Day of Action, comes as a response to Washington’s draconian economic sanctions and threats of military intervention in Venezuela.  These alarming actions by the United States occurred after the Venezuelan people democratically elected a new constituent assembly on July 30. The assembly has set out to rewrite the constitution in order to codify the rights of ordinary working people, women, and indigenous people, to restore peace to the country after months of ongoing protest, and to help solve the economic crisis, in large part prompted by dropping oil prices and acts of economic sabotage by business groups.

“We are asking the United States to really try and understand what their president is doing in their name. We are asking Prime Minister Trudeau not to follow the lead of this disreputable American president”, said Maria Paez Victor, one of the organizers of the rally and a member of the Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean Policy Center as well as the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle.

“We are asking that international law be respected, and if not, we are in terrible trouble. International law means we respect the sovereignty of countries, their right to self-determination, and that countries have the right to write their own laws without foreign interference,” she says.

Protestors have one message for the governments of Canada and the United States:  Keep your hands off Venezuela.

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!

Trudeau clings to Harper’s odious refugee (and other) laws

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, can designate innocent groups of individuals arriving in Canada for discriminatory treatment. Designated Foreign Nationals (DFNs) are subject to mandatory detention for lengthy periods, with minimal review. There is no right of appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division for those whose refugee claims are denied. Even if a claimant is eventually recognized by Canada as a refugee, he or she cannot begin the process of bringing relatives to this country for at least five years — a violation of the fundamental right to speedy family reunification. Continue reading Trudeau clings to Harper’s odious refugee (and other) laws