People’s Voice March 1-15, 2016
Volume 24 – Number 4 $1

CONTENTS

1) REPORTS HIGHLIGHT OPPRESSION OF INUIT, INDIGENOUS WOMEN IN QUEBEC

2) 2016: HARPER’S GONE, BUT THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY CONTINUES!

3) LABOUR’S ROLE IN STOPPING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

4) MASS ACTION IS NEEDED TO DEFEAT THE BC LIBERAL BUDGET

5) PARLIAMENT’S RACIST MOTION - Editorial

6) CONGRATULATIONS TO CUBA! - Editorial

7) A WIDE-RANGING AND DEMOCRATIC DISCUSSION BEGINS

8) GENDER PAY GAP IN CANADA IS TWICE THE GLOBAL AVERAGE

9) A POPULAR ENERGY PROGRAM FOR CANADA - STRENGTHEN THE DIALOGUE

10) END ALL CANADIAN MILITARY INTERVENTIONS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA!

11) “VOTE TO LEAVE EU” ON JUNE 23

12) RELEASE POLITICAL PRISONER ANA BELEN MONTE

13) MUSIC NOTES, by Wally Brooker

14) PV FUND DRIVE - WE NEED $50,000 TO STAY IN PRINT

 

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(The following articles are from the March 1-15, 2016, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)

 

1) REPORTS HIGHLIGHT OPPRESSION OF INUIT, INDIGENOUS WOMEN IN QUEBEC

By Johan Boyden

            In April 2015, Raymonde Saint-Germain was visiting detention cells in northern Quebec and found seven Inuit women locked up in a tiny cell originally intended for one or two people. She discovered none of the women had slept all night: there was not enough room for them to lie on the floor.  In some of detention centers, she found suicidal detainees, held with those who were intoxicated.

            Billions of dollars flow out of Quebec’s north through natural resource exports like mining, but social conditions faced by indigenous communities are comparable to the Third World. This contradiction was in the media spotlight in February with the release of a report by Quebec’s Protecteur du Citoyen or Ombudsperson in Nunavik.

            As Indigenous activists and allies across the country celebrate the promised inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, this reality of genocide will continue to come forward.

            Located north of the 55th parallel, bordered by Labrador in the east and Hudson’s Bay to the west, Nunavik is larger than California. The region includes communities which were subject to the forced High Arctic Relocation during the 1950s to assert Canada’s sovereignty. It is the homeland of the Inuit peoples who live in what is now Quebec.

            Saint-Germain’s report describes a Nunavik judicial system which does not respect the fundamental rights of the accused – particularly their right to dignity. Cells are dirty and overcrowded with limited access to water, clean laundry, janitorial services and even fresh air. Seven to twenty-five detainees are often held in cells intended for two. In Puvirnituq police station, the stench can be smelt when you walk in, with traces of blood and excrement on the walls.

            Saint-Germain said it reminded her of jails she had visited in Africa. The Quebec government has known about this probably for at least ten years, she said, yet appears to refuse to do anything. (Two years ago a similar report on Nunavut detention centers on Baffin Island suggested they were also likely non-compliant with the Charter of Rights.)

            The justice system shuttles Inuit from Nunavik detention centers down to Montreal for court, then back to the community – or to jail. According to the newspaper Le Devoir, Inuit represent 7.6 per cent of the First Nation population in Quebec, but 43 per cent of incarcerated indigenous people. And the number is rising. Total Inuit in Quebec jails increased by 64 percent in the last five years.

            Quebec is not alone. Canada’s violent crime rates are falling, yet prison populations are at an all-time high as jails become what some call “the new residential schools.” Maclean’s magazine says that in the Prairies, the overwhelming majority of people in the criminal justice system are First Nations. In jail, indigenous people spend more time in segregation and isolation than other prisoners.

            Another crisis is the incarceration of indigenous women. Overall, while indigenous people represent less than 4 per cent of the Canadian population, 36 per cent of female inmates are indigenous – up 109 per cent in recent years.

            These numbers are just part of the context of the gendered colonial legacy of oppression against indigenous peoples which the events at Val-d’Or have again exposed.

            Last fall, a group of indigenous women told Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête that provincial police officers in Val-d'Or routinely picked up women who appeared to be intoxicated, drove them out of town and left them to walk home in the cold. Some allege they were physically and sexually assaulted.

            Quebec First Nations leaders have rallied behind the women who have come forward, and support demonstrations were held in Val-d’Or as well as Montreal. Indigenous activists have condemned the lack of support received by Aboriginal people in the region, which is in the north-east of Quebec.

            An open letter to the Premier signed by the Quebec Native Women’s Federation, as well as twelve other groups including the CSN labour union central, calls the investigation now taking place into the allegations at Val-d’Or by the Montreal Police “fundamentally flawed”. Citing strong skepticism towards “police investigating police” inquires, the group is calling for an independent investigation.

            The Quebec Federation of Women (FFQ) has also supported the women’s demands, calling them “whistleblowers” for a more systemic problem. Their statement echoed the message at the annual march for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women in Montreal last month.

            As the inquiry comes into shape, it will no doubt be an immensely painful yet important development, worthy of close attention by all democratic-minded Canadians, indigenous and non-indigenous, women and men alike.

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2) 2016: HARPER’S GONE, BUT THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY CONTINUES!

IWD 2016 greetings from the Communist Party of Canada

            This March 8, International Women’s Day, is time to celebrate our history of struggle for equality, and to unite in action for a better and more just world.

            In Canada we celebrate the defeat of the anti-women Harper Tories, who shut down virtually every federal agency or service which supported women's equality, closed Status of Women Canada offices, eliminated funding of women's organizations which engage in advocacy, passed Bill C-36 (which endangers the lives of sex workers) and blocked legal avenues to fight for pay equity.

            The unequal status of women has been condemned by virtually every United Nations body that reviews Canada's human rights performance, including the CEDAW Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Human Rights Committee, and the Human Rights Council. The new Liberal government must be pressed to take real action for full equality.

            The Liberals have promised to implement the Call to Action recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, most notably an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed a gender-equality cabinet, including Indigenous lawyer Jody Wilson-Raybould as Justice Minister.

            However, this government has also signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12 nation corporate rights deal which will be a disaster for the working class, in particular women. Resistance is building against this anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-farmer agreement. We join with all those working to block ratification of the TPP.

            The Liberals have promised changes to the police state Bill C-51, which imposes sweeping new powers to criminalize dissent. Raising the spectre of Islamic terrorism, C-51 in reality targets the critics of austerity, environmental destruction and imperialist war. The Harper Government’s Islamophobia disproportionately impacted women. This legislation directly impacts women, who play leading roles in labour, Aboriginal, environmental, and student movements. This dangerous bill must be scrapped – just as the Liberals withdrew Harper’s anti-labour Bills C-377 and C-525.

            Millions of women in Canada do face violence and oppression, but not from “terrorists.” Aboriginal women and girls suffer the racist burden of higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and incarceration, and dramatically shorter life spans. Thousands of Aboriginal women have been murdered or disappeared.

            Women remain oppressed by the double burden of exploitation in the workplace and the major share of domestic labour. As real wages drop, work becomes more precarious, and social assistance rates remain stagnant, and there is still a huge pay gap, particularly for non-unionized women. Women are disproportionately poor – especially those who are Aboriginal, racialized, immigrant, disabled, queer and single mothers.

            In the last few years, awareness has grown of “rape culture” - the societal normalization of sexualized violence, found in images, language, and laws. While the Ghomeshi trial has magnified this issue, we need to organize against all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, and violence faced by sex workers – particularly women who are Aboriginal, racialized and transgender. Funding of campus women’s centres must be increased, and effective anti-oppression education regarding rape culture is urgently needed.

            The trial has also publicized the need for justice reform (including the introduction of trauma informed practice in policing and the courts), and improved access to legal aid for victims of sexual violence. Police must also face democratic and independent reviews. From shootings of young Aboriginal, Black and mentally ill men, to the documented rape of Aboriginal women by RCMP and Surete du Quebec officers, police must face real justice.

            Women in Canada still do not have full reproductive rights. Women in PEI can only access abortion services at certain hospitals in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.

            Women are disproportionately affected by reduced access to EI benefits. The "restructuring" of Canada Post is wiping out thousands of jobs held by women. The attack on equality extends to the provincial arena, including abolition of women's equality ministries, tuition increases, and cuts to welfare, health care, legal aid, child care, and emergency shelters and supports for victims of violence and abuse.

War vs. women’ s rights

            While the Liberals have announced an end to participation in bombing in Syria and Iraq, they are expanding Canadian military personnel in Iraq to provide planning, targeting and intelligence expertise. The size of the “train, advise and assist” mission will triple, pulling Canada deeper into yet another imperialist war.

            “Fighting to defend the rights of women” is a frequent rationale for military intervention. But while the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIL are deeply reactionary, such movements are largely a product of the imperialist drive for resources and profits. Prior to western interventions, the status of women in the secular states of Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq was much better than in Saudi Arabia and other regimes backed by Canada.

            War has caused a massive world-wide increase in refugees. In Syria alone, over 3 million refugees have fled, and 6.5 million are internally displaced. Women and girls are used as tools of war, kidnapped and raped from Nigeria (by Boko Haram) to Central America (by paramiliitary forces). From the Middle East to Afghanistan to Colombia, wars fuelled by transnational corporations, western powers and local elites waste billions of dollars which could provide education, economic opportunities, clean water, and healthcare, or help grassroots movements achieve human rights, personal security, choice in marriage, and reproductive choice. Environmental devastation particularly impacts women and children, from those near Alberta's tar sands, to millions living in drought stricken sub-Saharan Africa.

            We express full solidarity with the women of Palestine, and our support for the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel’s apartheid policy, which imposes terrible hardships upon the women of Gaza and the West Bank. We condemn the imperialist wars in Iraq and Syria, and the U.S.-backed destabilization of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela.

A united fightback can win

            Recent years have seen important struggles by women's and pro-equality movements. The Fédération des femmes du Québec and the Canadian Labour Congress women's conferences have helped keep the equality fight alive. The fight continues to defend and improve Quebec’s child care program. But the women's movement has been deeply wounded by the lack of a truly pan-Canadian voice. Both Liberal and Conservative governments were responsible for the loss of the National Action Committee, which fought for decent jobs, education, child care, and employment insurance.

            The re-establishment of an organization to bring together women from labour, youth and students, and Aboriginal and racialized women, and from organizations that fight for legal rights, reproductive rights, disability rights, and child care, would be an important advance.

            Working people of all genders and backgrounds need a genuine alternative to corporate greed. Led by the labour movement and its allies, such a People's Coalition could fight to win sustainable jobs, universal day care, improved social services, and an end to poverty and income disparity.

            The Communist Party of Canada demands Full Gender Equality NOW:

- Restore funding for women’s equality programs.

- Close the wage gap – legislate full pay and employment equity.

- No to the TPP and all corporate austerity attacks

 - Guarantee accessible and publicly funded abortion and reproductive rights services in every province and territory.

 - Establish universal, quality, affordable childcare with Canada-wide standards and union wages for child care workers.

 - Protect women’s right to EI maternity coverage; expand parental benefits to 52 weeks.

 - Fund equality-seeking women’s groups.

 - End all forms of violence against women and provide adequate funding for crisis centres and transition houses.

- Repeal Bill C-36.

            But while capitalism survives, it will always generate poverty, inequality, exploitation, environmental degradation and war. These outrages are inherent in a system based on maximizing profit in private hands. Only socialism, based on democratic, collective ownership and working class power, can liberate the enormous creative and productive potential of the people for human needs.

            The real alternative for gender equality and human survival is socialism. As the tiny island of Cuba demonstrates, when social equality is a priority, huge advances in the status of women can be achieved at every level.

            Since IWD was adopted by a Socialist women's conference in Copenhagen in 1910, the full participation of women has been essential for the success of working class and democratic movements. A better world is both possible and urgently necessary - the world of socialism, which can guarantee full equality and a future for humanity!

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3) LABOUR’S ROLE IN STOPPING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

By Helen Kennedy

            The issue of violence against women has been amplified recently by the Ghomeshi trial. There is a renewed call for reforms to the judicial system which re-victimizes women who testify against their abusers. We also need to focus on shifting our societal norms and expectations about violence against women and building on the role labour unions and the broader labour movement can play in educating and preventing violence against women.

            Just before December 6, 2014, the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, Zahra Abdille and her two children Faris and Zain were murdered by her abusive partner. Zahra Abdille was a public health nurse and member of CUPE Local 79, the inside workers in the City of Toronto. The tragedy hit many of the women in the local and the Labour Council particularly hard. Did the sister know that the union would have helped her? What role could the union have played in helping this sister? What role should the union play in letting members know about domestic violence? As it turns out, Abdille was in contact with the union; she was being disciplined for missing too many days at work and had been placed into the ‘attendance management’ program.

            The Women’s Committee at the Toronto and York Region Labour Council developed a checklist in response to the Ghomeshi allegations and the murder of Sister Abdille. The Committee believes that if union locals begin to take these steps within their organizations, it will build the labour movement as a powerful organization that speaks out and takes action to stop violence against women.

            Some of the highlights of the Labour Council checklist:

* Ensure every local union has a Women’s Committee and that this committee is developed as a safe place for sisters to go to discuss any issues related to violence against women;

* Develop and/or implement a program like Unifor’s Women’s Advocate Program that educates local members about issues like domestic violence and workplace harassment, and develops referral contacts to whom to refer sisters facing difficulties;

* Develop an ongoing and meaningful relationship with a local women’s shelter. This could include donating money, fundraising, and/or developing programs for women from the local to implement at the shelter;

* Have our brothers take the pledge to end violence against women, join and publicize the White Ribbon Campaign and become advocates that speak out about violence against women;

* Encourage active reporting about harassment in the workplace; institute a zero tolerance policy - don’t turn a blind eye – eliminating workplace harassment is everybody’s responsibility;

* Encourage our affiliates to develop and implement feminist education courses for the sisters and brothers in our unions.

            In addition, the labour movement must ensure that its leadership reflects its membership. If a sister doesn’t see herself reflected in the makeup of the steward body or leadership in the local, they are less likely to feel comfortable enough to come forward to seek assistance. The same is true for national or international union affiliates. At one time, CUPE, for example, was seen as a feminist union and champion for women’s issues. With 12 years of brothers in the two key leadership positions at the National level, this is no longer the case.

            The Toronto and York Region Labour Council has successfully organized community specific networks over the past few years – including the Chinese, Filipino and Tamil Workers Networks. It will be important for these organizations to also provide leadership on issues of domestic violence and its impact in the workplace.

            Over the past several years, the Canadian Labour Congress has undertaken research on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace. According to a recent cross-Canada survey conducted by the CLC and researchers at the University of Western Ontario, one in three workers has experienced domestic violence, and this violence follows them to work. Over 80 percent of victims reported that their performance was negatively impacted, and more than half said the abuse occurred at or near their workplace. The research is summarized in the report “Can Work be Safe When Home Isn’t?”

            Most recently, the CLC has developed a Domestic Violence at Work Resource Centre (at www.canadianlabour.ca). The online resources include warning signs, model collective agreement language (including setting up a Women’s Advocate Program), how to talk to a member who is a victim of domestic violence and a member who might be a perpetrator.

            Labour unions can do much more in addressing the issue of violence against women in the workplace, in society and in the union itself. We must begin by building more representative unions, taking our responsibilities to prevent domestic violence seriously, and providing concrete collective agreement language to assist women in the workplace. The tragic death of our Sister Zahra, trying to fight off her narrow-minded employer’s attempts to fire her for attendance issues as she dealt with an abusive partner, reminds us that change cannot come soon enough.

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4) MASS ACTION IS NEEDED TO DEFEAT THE BC LIBERAL BUDGET

Communist Party of BC statement on the February 16 provincial budget

            On the crucial economic issues of the minimum wage, social assistance and disability rates, MSP premiums, and housing costs, the Feb. 16 budget introduced by Christy Clark’s BC Liberals fails to address the needs of working people. The Communist Party of BC condemns this budget as nothing more than the latest in a long series of gifts to the wealthy and the corporations, and we urge the labour and people’s movements to mobilize against it.

            While pretending to defend the interests of BC families, the Premier continues the longstanding Liberal strategy of billion-dollar giveaways for the wealthy and the corporations, a few boutique tax credits for middle-income earners, and nothing for unemployed and low-income British Columbians. The rich are still riding the endless BC Liberal gravy train, while the poor are condemned to hunger and homelessness.

            Soon after Gordon Campbell was elected, the BC Liberals went on a rampage, slashing social programs, illegally ripping up public sector collective agreements, and freezing social assistance and disability rates at the abysmal levels set by the previous NDP government. At the same time, Campbell announced massive tax breaks for the benefit of upper-income earners and corporations. This giveaway has cost the BC treasury over $2 billion annually over the past 15 years, for an accumulated total of well over $30 billion. Looked at another way, the wealthiest ten percent of BC’s population (about half a million people) have been given over $50,000 each by the BC Liberals, while single unemployed people on social assistance have less than $200 per month (after rent) for food, clothing and other essentials.

            The Liberals are also helping increase corporate profits with their minimum wage policy. After a small increase when Clark became premier, the Liberals instituted annual increases linked to inflation. Their claim that this would move BC up to the middle of the pack for minimum wage rates was soon exposed as a shabby lie. BC’s current minimum wage of $10.45 per hour is 12th out of 13 provinces and territories, and will soon fall to dead last. Since most other jurisdictions also tie the minimum wage to inflation, British Columbia will still trail the rest of the country after the next paltry increase of 20 cents per hour in September 2016, and indefinitely into the future.

            Some economists propose a “one time” boost of another 20 to 30 cents per hour to bring BC’s minimum wage to the middle of the range. For full-time minimum wage workers who pay over half of their $1600 monthly wages on rent, such an increase of $30-40 per month would soon be eaten up by rising rents, food, and other costs. The Communist Party of BC gives full support to the campaign by the labour movement for an immediate increase to $15 per hour, and we demand a $20/hour minimum wage as the best way to ensure that workers in British Columbia can live with some measure of dignity and security.

            Typical of the BC Liberals, the 2016-17 budget adds to the huge increases in Medical Service Plan premiums imposed on working people in recent years. This regressive flat taxis a blatant violation of the principles of affordability and universality contained in the Canada Health Act which established Medicare. The MSP is just a pittance to upper-income earners, but eats up a huge share of take-home pay for hundreds of thousands of low- to middle-income families in the $30,000-plus range. In response to a massive online petition campaign to replace MSP premiums with a more progressive income tax system, the Liberals instead announced minor tinkering such as reductions for some single-parent families, a shameful attempt to dodge the issue.

            We also condemn the government’s strategy of offering a few breaks to first-time home buyers. As welcome as these reductions will be for families facing inflated million-dollar prices to purchase a detached home, this policy does nothing to provide housing for renters priced out of the market. Rents in the Metro Vancouver region now average about $1200 for one-bedroom units, and $1500 for two-bedrooms. But instead of acting to build tens of thousands of desperately needed low-cost and social housing units, the provincial government ignores the emergency of skyrocketing housing costs for renters.

            Perhaps most appalling, this budget contains no increase for people on social assistance, and a miserly $11-25 per month for those in the disability category.

            Mass action is needed to defeat the new Liberal budget, and to demand urgent progressive changes: a $20/hour minimum wage; an immediate 50% increase in social assistance and disability rates; scrap the MSP premiums; launch an emergency plan to build 100,000 social and low-income housing units. Such a People’s Alternative economic policy should be paid for by restoring the pre-Liberal tax rates on upper-income earners and corporations. Waiting and hoping for an NDP victory in 2017 will do nothing for working people and the poor, especially since the NDP has given little indication of running on a platform of significant progressive change. The Communist Party of BC urges the trade union movement to launch a Common Front to campaign for these pro-working class reforms!

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5) PARLIAMENT’S RACIST MOTION

People’s Voice Editorial, March 1-15, 2016

            Congratulations to courageous students at McGill University, who voted by a margin of 512 to 357 on Feb. 22 to support a motion in favour of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s apartheid policies. But on the same day, Parliament took the opposite position, voting 229-51 for a Conservative motion to condemn Canadians who promote the BDS movement.

            This movement began in 2005, when about 100 Palestinian civil society organizations issued a call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, similar to the international campaign to isolate apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. Back in those days, Canadians who acted in solidarity with opponents of the South African regime were condemned by right-wing politicians for supposedly “supporting terrorists.” Even after apartheid was swept away, racist Conservative MPs continued to attack President Nelson Mandela, the leader of the ANC and the freedom struggle. Parliament’s motion condemning the BDS movement is an equally shocking and openly racist declaration: that Palestinians should not be treated as human beings.

            The fact that most Liberal MPs supported this Tory motion (about a dozen abstained and one was opposed) proves that the new  government cannot be judged on the basis of progressive campaign promises. The Liberals must be held to account as they “govern from the right,” including on international issues such as the expanding war in Iraq and Syria, the sale of weaponized vehicles to Saudi Arabia, and support for regimes in Ukraine and Israel which trample on human rights.

            Finally, we welcome the fact that the NDP and Bloc Quebecois caucuses, and Green MP Elizabeth May voted against the Conservative motion because it violates the rights to free speech and expression. However, NDP MPs also attacked the BDS movement during the debate in the Commons, yet again exposing their party’s shameful racist position against criticism of apartheid Israel.

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6) CONGRATULATIONS TO CUBA!

People’s Voice Editorial

            History will be made this month, when President Barack Obama visits Cuba, the socialist island which has been the target of a US blockade for over half a century. In fact, Obama will be making a trip which for decades was considered a criminal act by the US government. This diplomatic step is the latest advance towards lifting the trade embargo imposed by John F. Kennedy during the Cold War, as a harsh punishment against Cuba for daring to challenge the doctrine of Yankee hegemony over the entire western hemisphere.

            The Cuban people and their government deserve full credit for achieving this breakthrough, against the bitter opposition of far-right forces inside the United States, which have used every form of violence and terror in their failed attempts to overthrow the Cuban Revolution.

            But this process is far from complete. The Republican-dominated Congress is still resisting the normalization of relations, including steps to lift the embargo, although President Obama has considerable powers to accomplish much of this goal (see page 9). The illegal US occupation of Guantanamo also remains a critical problem, one which must be resolved to the full satisfaction of Cuba. Not least, the US ruling class remains determined to maintain its network of paid agents within Cuba, with the aim of overturning the socialist gains of the Cuban people, and restoring capitalist (i.e. transnational corporate) control of the island’s economy.

            We are confident that the Cuban government will continue to defend its sovereignty and the interests of the Cuban people despite such imperialist pressures. If President Obama tries to play the “human rights” card during his trip to Havana, President Raul Castro can expose this hypocrisy by noting that the human rights of millions of US citizens are brutally violated on a daily basis. The time has come: Lift the embargo! End the occupation of Guantanamo!

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7) A WIDE-RANGING AND DEMOCRATIC DISCUSSION BEGINS

            The countdown has started for the 38th Central Convention of the Communist Party of Canada, set for the May 21-23 weekend in Toronto.

            The Communist Party of Canada was formed in 1921, at a time when it was illegal to establish such an organization. Over the succeeding 95 years, the CPC has often been banned or forced to operate in semi-legal conditions, but the party has never stopped working for the revolutionary transformation of this country into a socialist society.

            One of the key features of the Communist Party is its strong commitment to democratic principles. The Party’s membership has full power to determine policies and elect leadership at conventions, combined with a voluntary commitment to carry out those policies.

            Unlike some organizations, the full membership of the CPC is engaged in this democratic process, starting with an intensive three-month discussion of the Draft Political Resolution which will be the centrepiece of the 38th Convention. Party clubs across the country have begun to debate the Resolution, which was issued by the January 30-31 meeting of the Central Committee, the party’s highest body between conventions.

            Members and party clubs will submit written contributions for a Discussion Bulletin published regularly this spring. Clubs will also prepare amendments to the Resolution, for discussion at provincial meetings to elect delegates to Toronto, and then at the 38th Convention which will adopt the finished version. That document will become the basis for the work of the entire party, including its elected leadership, over the next three years.

            Over our next several issues, People’s Voice will reprint brief excerpts from the Draft Political Resolution, to give readers a better understanding of the CPC’s analysis and its democratic process. We invite readers to read the full Draft online, at www.communist-party.ca, and to share your own views. In this issue, we print parts of Section One of the Draft Resolution on the international situation:

For international working class unity against imperialism

            Our 38th Central Convention meets at a moment of escalating danger, from increasing war, environmental crisis and economic decay. As the systemic crisis of capitalism continues to deepen, and the effects of the 2008 economic meltdown continue to be felt, imperialist states and organizations are becoming increasingly aggressive. The standoff between nuclear armed states in Ukraine and the expanding war in Syria are powderkegs that threaten disaster. Millions upon millions of people in all parts of the world are being forced into poverty, hunger, homelessness and displacement.

            But this is also a moment of rising working class and popular resistance. In all countries, albeit unevenly and with different characteristics, we see increased unity and mobilization. From mass demonstrations to general strikes to online campaigns, people are using many different vehicles to advance these struggles...

            Internationally, the most immediate danger and challenge facing the working class and peoples of the world is imperialism’s escalating militarism and drive to war. From the state of “permanent war” since 2001, to the coup in Ukraine and the resulting standoff between NATO and Russia, to the escalating and expanding war in Syria, to the renewed arms race and nuclear weapons development, imperialism’s aggressiveness has increased to the point that the survival of the entire planet is threatened.

            Since the overthrow of the Soviet Union, NATO has aggressively expanded its membership and theatre of operations. It currently has 28 member states across North America and Europe, another 22 countries engaged through the EuroAtlantic Partnership Council, and a further 19 countries partnered through programs such as the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative or the Partners Across the Globe Initiative.

            This growth is directly linked with the eastward expansion of the EU, a dynamic that has provoked one of the most serious political crises in decades – the US-orchestrated fascist coup d’état in Ukraine in February 2014.

            Ukraine’s new illegitimate, puppet government of Petro Poroshenko includes several neo-Nazi followers of Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and infamous war criminal who colluded with the Nazis during their bloody occupation of Ukraine. The regime moved quickly to attack and repress communists and progressives in Ukraine, including banning the Communist Party of Ukraine. It is a bitter irony that these events occurred during the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi fascism in World War II. 

            ...Popular resistance against the Kiev coup included the referendum in Crimea, in which an overwhelming majority of people voted to secede, and have since joined the Russian Federation. Imperialist governments and media distorted this development and described it as an annexation by Russia – a shocking double standard given their immediate recognition of Kosovo as an independent state in 2008.

            The other key arena of imperialist aggression is the crisis in Syria. Now in its fifth year, the war there has claimed 240,000 lives and displaced millions of Syrian people.

            Imperialism suffered a serious setback when it was unable to overthrow the elected government of Bashar al-Assad. This despite recruiting, arming and training thousands of foreign mercenaries who have continued to terrorize the Syrian people. Since this defeat, imperialist forces have identified yet another pretext for direct intervention in Syria – “the war on ISIS.”

            As the US, EU and their allies continue to impose their “New Middle East” plan – to produce a patchwork of weak and fragmented Arab states who cannot challenge Israeli expansion or imperialist domination – they have produced a breeding ground for reactionary religious forces that they have, in turn, armed and financed. Despite distress – real or feigned – over brutal methods and reactionary politics, groups like ISIS (Daesh) and al-Nusrah are valuable assets to imperialism and their activities have provided the pretext for direct military intervention in Syria...

            The immediate situation in Syria remains extremely volatile. The concentration of global military power, and the competition between powerful centres for control of energy resources, pipelines and spheres of influence, are creating an explosive situation that threatens a regional or even world war. Our Party repeats its demand for the immediate withdrawal of all Canadian and imperialist forces from Syria and the region.

            Despite the grave danger presented by the international confrontations in Ukraine and Syria – between nuclear weapons states – the peace movements in Canada and around the world have been slow and inconsistent in their response. In no small part, this weakness is the result of the aggressive campaign to promote a “war on terror” as a justification for militarism. This pretext has been used to confuse people and neutralize opposition, and also to attack democratic rights in countries all over the world, including in Canada. Furthermore, many recent imperialist aggressions have been framed as “humanitarian interventions” which, for example, purportedly liberate women from oppression. Such pro-war propaganda, particularly when combined with Islamophobia, weakens the clearcut basis for mobilization and unity. Another key factor is the “renewed Cold War” propaganda campaign which, similar to the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, aims to ideologically soften people and provide a pretext for intervention, aggression and war.

            In June 2015, the Central Committee noted the dangers of the renewed Cold War: “Already, it is being used to justify increased military spending, expanded arms trade, new and larger imperialist military alliances, and outright intervention and war. It has become a large part of the ideological barrage that justifies and promotes the expansion of imperialist institutions like NATO and the EU. Part of the New Cold War is the ideological poison that depicts communism and fascism as identical totalitarian ideologies.”

            ...Since our 37th Central Convention in 2013, global military spending has remained at its highest levels in history – nearly $1.8 trillion USD in 2014. The United States accounts for $610 billion, or 34% of the world total.

            Notably, military spending by NATO member states accounts for $920 billion USD, or 51% of the global figure. While military spending receded very slightly in the main imperialist centres at NATO’s core – Western Europe, the US and Canada – there were large increases throughout the current key theatres of NATO aggression:  the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

            NATO member states, including Canada, have faced increased pressure in the recent period to increase their military spending. Under the Harper Conservative government, Canada’s official military budget increased from $14.5 billion in 2006 to $20.1 billion in 2014-15 – up 38%. The Tories also boosted the automatic annual increases for military spending from 2% to 3% starting in 2017, a move that will add almost $12 billion over the next 10 years. On top of this, Harper launched a massive procurement campaign, the centrepiece of which was the $36.6 billion naval shipbuilding program and the proposed $30 billion purchase of 65 F-35 fighter jets.

            While Justin Trudeau stated during the 2015 federal election campaign that he would cancel the F-35 purchase, he also pledged to maintain current military spending levels and the planned increases. Trudeau has also stated that he will proceed with the $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

            An urgent task for all peace and progressive organizations in Canada is to build mass pressure that can force the Liberals to reduce military spending and trade, allow war resisters to remain in Canada, and completely withdraw Canada from the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. These are initial, but concrete, steps toward a new foreign policy of peace, and toward building the international working class unity that can defeat war, reaction and imperialism.

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8) GENDER PAY GAP IN CANADA IS TWICE THE GLOBAL AVERAGE

            According to a recent story in the Huffington Post Canada by Rebecca Zamon, “the  difference between how much women and men are paid in Canada isn't just a large amount — it’s actually a life-changing one.”

            She quotes research from Catalyst Canada, a nonprofit organization that focuses on expanding opportunities for women and business, showing that Canadian women earn $0.82 to every $1 earned by men. That’s marginally better than the U.S.’s $0.78 for every $1, but sets the gap in Canada at 18 per cent — much higher than in other countries, specifically in Europe.

            “The global pay gap was about $4,000 on average between men and women, and the Canadian pay gap was just over $8,000,” says Alex Johnston, executive director of Catalyst Canada.

            The province of Ontario admits that the pay gap is even larger for women who are minorities, Aboriginal, newcomers, or women living with disabilities.

            Although many reports have attributed the gap between men’s and women’s salaries to mothers taking time off for childcare in their career-building years, Catalyst notes that even just one year out of university, there’s still a 6.6 per cent gap between what women and men earn.

            According to Ontario’s Pay Equity Commission, approximately 10 to 15 per cent of the wage gap is due to discrimination. Most provincial governments have pay equity plans in place to prevent this from occurring, but the practice persists.

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9) A POPULAR ENERGY PROGRAM FOR CANADA - STRENGTHEN THE DIALOGUE

By Darrell Rankin

            Canadians know from bitter experience that heating bills are expensive. There is a remarkable growth of First Nations' opposition to oil pipelines and extraction.

But how do the labour and other democratic movements in the rest of Canada feel about this and related energy issues?

            Developing a broadly based peoples' energy program requires the support of these movements. When asked in a 2005 Leger poll, Canadians with a view wanted to nationalize the oil and gas industry by a margin of 59% - place it in public ownership. (1)

            Canadians are in solidarity or aligned with the demands of First Nations to curb the oil industry's threat to nature and future generations. (2)

            Last fall, people voted in large numbers for the Liberals who promised a 'new nation to nation process', implying it would be equal.

            These are promising conditions for a broad public discussion, facilitated by popular movements in Canada.

            Agreement between First Nations, Inuit, Métis and popular movements for a popular energy program would create a firm and viable alternative to the failing, profit-driven form of development, a model that excludes First Nations and treats workers, including those in the oil patch, as second class, disposable citizens.

            In recent years, heavy job losses and climate change helped to shine a spotlight on the industry. It is clear to millions of people that the over-reliance on resource extraction has driven Canada's economy into a ditch.

            Some unions have argued the need for jobs trumps any other consideration, no matter how dire. This was the case in the United States where some unions came out in support of the XL pipeline. But it is a false argument, since developing more sustainable energy industries would and can boost job numbers, with no loss in pay.

            What is needed is the political unity of popular movements in Canada from all nations in support of their own energy plan.

            Environmental concerns or the need to address resource and land claims have not yet budged unions who openly support pipelines and the heedless development of the oil and gas industry, especially those in the oil patch itself. But the oil patch from coast to coast is in shambles, and no one knows how long the crisis will last.

            The low price of oil has forced the large oil corporations to lay off tens of thousands of workers.

            Pundits mistakenly joke about Russia's economy, but of all the developed capitalist countries, Canada is the most exposed and vulnerable to the present global crisis, a contagion starting to affect the entire global economy.

            Such crises lead to mergers. That means Canada's oil industry will become more foreign-dominated, especially by U.S. oil companies. If nothing is done, Canada's ability to develop a sovereign response to this crisis will be severely compromised.

            A people's energy program can put all nations and workers ahead of private profit.

It must be a program that challenges the present model of heavily subsidized, profit-oriented extraction of oil and gas. Such a program needs to recognize the interests of all the parties, so that none shall lose and all shall gain:

- Creation of jobs in sustainable energy industries by shifting state subsidies from oil and gas, and the painless, planned conversion of remaining oil and gas jobs to greener forms of energy, with no loss in pay.

- Immediate settlement of Aboriginal land and resource claims.

- All nation or multi-national approval of a new development model for Canada's energy needs.

- Work with other countries to reduce their reliance on oil, coal and gas with the aim of ending exports and exporting expertise in alternative energy sources.

            These points are a possible framework for discussion at local and regional meetings of any kind. It is a framework that could be useful for a peoples’ workshop or summit at any level. Any framework for talks needs to be aligned with the demands or approaches of Aboriginal nations and unions. (3)

1. Discounting the 17% with no view, only 41% were opposed to public ownership of the industry. http://leger360.com/admin/upload/publi_pdf/050906eng.pdf

2. For example, Fewer Canadians back plans for new oil pipelines to West Coast ports, Globe and Mail, May 30, 2013

3. Delegates to the Canadian Labour Congress affirmed their support for the Aboriginal nations' right of self-determination three times, from 1980 to 1996. The CLC is on record six times at convention for “expediting … land claims” between 1978 and 1996.

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10) END ALL CANADIAN MILITARY INTERVENTIONS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA!

Statement by the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, Feb. 19, 2016

            Following the Liberal government's announced changes to Canada's military actions in Iraq and Syria, the Communist Party of Canada is renewing its call for an immediate and complete end to participation in any military interventions in the region. We join with others in urging a renewal of anti-war actions across Canada, including protests planned on March 19 in a number of cities.

            The statement that Canada will end its active role in the destructive and illegal bombing of Syria shows that public opposition to the bombing has had an impact, along with the determined resistance of the Syrian people to terrorism and "regime change". The government's statement that it intends to use diplomatic means to promote regional stability is also a welcome shift from the war rhetoric of the defeated Harper Tories.

            But Canada will continue to assist the bombing campaign through reconnaissance and refuelling. The massive expansion of Operation IMPACT, Canada's "boots on the ground", with triple the numbers of "advisers and assistants," is an ominous signal that we are entering another dangerous quagmire. A decade of Canadian war-making in Afghanistan left thousands dead in that country, along with about 160 Canadian soldiers. Yet today, Afghanistan remains deeply divided between competing groups of warlords and fundamentalist militias, no closer to peace, stability and real guarantees of the human rights achieved before the Taliban takeover more than 30 years ago. Like the disastrous US-led occupation of Iraq, such tragedies are ample proof that western military interventions in Central Asia and the Middle East are the source of endless armed conflicts and deaths, not a solution to the problems of the region.

            The Trudeau government must withdraw from and renounce the imperialist strategy for a New Middle East, made up of a patchwork of weak and fragmented Arab states who cannot challenge Israeli expansion or Western domination.

            In the case of the Iraq/Syria mission which began after advances in 2014 by ISIL/Daesh, western military intervention cannot resolve this crisis. In fact, the regional situation has worsened with the Saudi/Gulf state war in Yemen, gains for ISIL in Libya, and increasing aggressions by Turkey, a NATO member which is violating Syrian sovereignty with its cross-border attacks against Kurdish forces. The spreading conflict is a potential powderkeg, involving heavily armed forces backed by the US and its NATO allies, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran.

            It is shocking that Canada portrays itself as an active defender of the equality rights of women and minority groups, while strengthening alliances with the reactionary governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. By allowing the $15 billion sale of Canadian-built military vehicles to the Saudi regime, the Trudeau government made it clear that it will put profits ahead of any humanitarian principles.

            In our view, the changes to Canada's military mission reflect the underlying imperialist drive to divide and re-divide the world’s territory and resources. Despite vigorous denials by Canadian officials, it seems clear that by giving full support to the training and strengthening of Iraqi Kurdish peshmurga forces, Canada is promoting and assisting plans to dismember Iraq and Syria. Allegedly to reduce ethnic and religious tensions by establishing Sunni, Shia and Kurdish autonomous areas, this strategy inevitably leads toward "independence" under the domination of the big western energy monopolies. Such a strategy would also prevent a unified Iraq taking part in a wider move away from the petrodollar - the "crime" which was the real trigger for the US/UK aggression of 2003. Our Party condemns the brutal wars against the Kurdish people by ISIL/Daesh and Turkey, but the peoples of the Middle East will not benefit from outside imperialist powers intervening to "settle disputes". In fact, this will only set the stage for more future conflicts, as seen by reports that peshmurga forces have been accused of "ethnic cleansing" against Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

            The Communist Party of Canada demands that instead of expanding Operation Impact, the federal government should immediately begin the withdrawal of all Canadian military personnel from the region. We condemn Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's November 2015 statement that "Assad must go." Canada must stop meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq and Syria, and give full support to efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria, with the full involvement of the elected Bashar al-Assad government. Canada must decisively end its role in imperialist war-making, by withdrawing from the NATO alliance and slashing military spending by 75%. By making a radical shift towards a foreign policy based on peace, disarmament and national sovereignty, Canada could become a genuine peacemaker rather than a cog in the US war machine.

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11) “VOTE TO LEAVE EU” ON JUNE 23

Editorial from the Morning Star (UK), Feb. 22, 2016

            As the dust settles on the Prime Minister’s much-vaunted “renegotiation” of the terms on which he hopes Britain will remain a member of the European Union, the media have quickly moved on to the soap opera of which leading Tories will end up on which side.

            Pundits can hardly be blamed for not focusing on the detail of the supposed concessions David Cameron has snatched from Brussels.

            The “emergency brake” on in-work benefits for migrants who are working and paying tax in Britain is not only a demonstration of the Nasty Party’s nastiness, but is also of a piece with the Tory war on all workers, whether born here or abroad: the Institute for Fiscal Studies says 2.6 million families will be an average £1,600 worse off each year as they are moved from tax credits to universal credit.

            As for the celebrated treaty amendment, stating that the commitment to “ever closer union” does not apply to Britain, this certainly does not mean Britain “can never be forced into political integration.”

            Provisions in the Stability and Growth Pact preventing governments from borrowing to invest in their country’s economic future, clauses in the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties prohibiting state aid for industry and demanding the privatisation of public monopolies — such rules have political repercussions.

            Membership of the EU severely curtails the choices available to the electorates of individual countries. Socialism and even Keynesian social democracy cease to be options available to voters, either because the levers of economic control have been handed to unaccountable institutions such as the European Commission and European Central Bank or because socialist measures themselves such as renationalising industries or intervening directly in the economy are illegal.

            Support for the European Union on the left has taken a battering in recent years. The brutal and pitiless immiseration of Greece at the hands of the EU-dominated “troika” exposed the bloc’s free-market fanaticism and contempt for democracy.

            So too does its enthusiastic, if secretive, pursuit of the TTIP trade deal with the United States, over the heads of national governments and in the face of massive public opposition.

            When challenged by War on Want director John Hilary, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem did not even make a pretence of caring. “I do not take my mandate from the European people,” she sneered.

            But many on the left continue to defend membership.

            Some argue that, rather than leave, we should campaign for a better EU — a more democratic union which protects working people’s rights rather than corporate profits. This is the position of Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and apparently also of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

            They must be challenged on how they intend to achieve this. The EU’s anti-democratic structures and legal commitments to neoliberalism are embedded in a succession of binding treaties which cannot be changed without the consent of every single member state. This makes reforming the bloc virtually impossible.

            Others point to particular provisions of EU law which protect maternity rights or holiday pay, and argue that the Conservatives would try to unpick these if we left.

            Of course they would. But it is not just the Conservatives who have it in for workers’ rights. The EU itself has demanded an end to collective bargaining agreements, the imposition of “flexible” contracts and the deregulation of entire industries.

            Staying in is no guarantee that our rights will be protected, especially once treaties like TTIP further subordinate governments to transnational corporations. The labour movement must regain the confidence to fight for a better future, rather than trusting in an anti-democratic institution to shield it from the government’s blows.

            Still others claim that since the loudest voices calling for an exit are on the political right, we have to vote to remain to avoid associating with them. But the big guns of the In campaign — the Prime Minister, Sir Stuart Rose, Goldman Sachs, the US government — are not exactly friends of the labour movement.

            The British Establishment is more or less united in its determination to stay in the EU. The status quo suits it down to the ground.

            But supporters of radical political change should vote to leave on June 23.

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12) RELEASE POLITICAL PRISONER ANA BELEN MONTES

By Vinnie Molina, The Guardian (weekly paper of the Communist Party of Australia)

            “The whole world is just one country. In this world country, the principle of loving others as one-self is an essential guide to harmonious relations between neighbouring states.” These were the words Ana Belen Montes used during her trial for conspiracy to commit espionage for the government of Cuba.

            She was sentenced in October 2002 to 25 years in prison. Ana Belen Montes, aged 59, was born in West Germany from a Puerto Rican conservative family background on February 28, 1957. She worked for the Defence Intelligence Agency DIA as a senior analyst from 1985.

            She had many assignments on Cuba and served in the US Interests Office in Havana to study the Cuban military and again in 1998 to monitor the visit to Havana by Pope John Paul II. She had access to all the intelligence gathered on Cuba by the Defence Department due to her high ranking as senior analyst

            Unfortunately, Ana Belen Montes is another victim of the failed US policies towards Cuba. She just wanted Cuba to be able to exercise its right to self-determination just like the United States does. Ana never received any payment from Cuba or any one else; she only listened to her conscience and her desire for a new type of relations between Cuba and the US.

            None of her actions endangered US national security or harmed any US citizens. On the contrary her noble cause prevented actions against Cuba. In fact her actions saved Cuban and American citizens from terrorists attacks.

            Ana was arrested by the FBI on September 21, 2001 and charged with spying for Cuba. She was sent to the Federal Medical Centre, FMC Carswell, in Fort Worth, Texas, a federal prison for female inmates with mental or physical health problems. Ana does not suffer from any mental illnesses but her health is compromised by her isolation and her inability to communicate with other inmates or to receive visits.

            President Obama and Raul Castro say they are now both open to new relations of the type Ana Belen hoped for. This opportunity opened up on December 17, 2014 beginning with the release of three other unjustly held political prisoners, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino & Gerardo Hernandez, and the reopening of embassies in both countries.

            Ana Belen Montes is due for release in 2027. An international campaign for her release is calling on President Obama to pardon her. To learn more about her case and to add your name to the on-line petition, see: petitions.moveon.org/sign/buried-alive.

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13) MUSIC NOTES, by Wally Brooker

Beyoncé's Super Bowl spectacle

By now everyone must know that hip-hop superstar Beyoncé invoked Black Panther and Black Lives Matter symbols during her February 7th halftime show at the Super Bowl in San Francisco. Beyoncé and her troupe gave the black power raised-fist salute and formed an X in homage to Malcolm X. Later, dancers held up "Justice for Mario Woods" signs - a reference to an African-American man recently killed by cops in the host city. Predictable reactions of outrage from police departments and American conservatives dominated mainstream media response. Progressive sports columnist Dave Zirin, appearing on Democracy Now! the next day, raved about  Beyoncé, calling her "audaciously brilliant", but enthusiasm on the left declined somewhat when the singer soon afterwards announced that Tel Aviv would be part of a world tour that's expected to gross $250 million. Beyoncé's performance came a day after the release of "Formation", her latest single and video. Although the song is typically banal self-affirmation, the video is impressive, set in post-Katrina New Orleans, with evocative images of police brutality. Black Agenda Report, the popular left-wing website, has criticized Beyoncé for years, calling the Clinton supporter "an iconic symbol of corporate feminism". It ran a post-Super Bowl piece by the writer Ajamu Baraka, who called Beyoncé's performance "conservative and accommodationist" and compared the sporting of "pseudo-Panther gear" to the real possibility of death, exile, and incarceration that black revolutionaries face.

Roger Waters defends mural at York U

Roger Waters, the English rock star and pro-Palestinian activist, published an open letter last month criticizing Toronto film industry executive Paul Bronfman. The businessman withdrew his support to York University's cinema & media arts program because of a mural at the York University Graduate Students Association (YUGSA) that depicts a Palestinian holding a rock behind his back as he gazes at a bulldozer about to destroy an olive tree. Bronfman characterizes "Palestinian Roots", the mural by artist Ahmad Al Abid, as "anti-Israel". Waters, co-founder of the band Pink Floyd, told Bronfman that he's wrong to try to force the removal of the mural, and applauded students and faculty at the university for standing up to his "bullying tactics". The Palestinian man depicted in the mural, wrote Waters, has the right under the Geneva Conventions to resist the occupation of his homeland. In an act of supreme hyperbole, Avi Benolo, director of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Toronto, called this depiction of a Palestinian holding a rock "a call to murder". Gayle McFadden, YUGSA chair, says that the mural, which was installed several years ago, will not be removed. The university administration says the matter doesn't fall under its jurisdiction.

Dialogue on racism in T.O. music scene

The Toronto entertainment weekly Now launched its Black History Month coverage on January 28th with a cover story on racism in the city's music scene ("Real Talk About Racism in the Toronto Music Scene"). The authors, Carla Gillis, Michelle da Silva, Tabassum Siddiqui and Vish Khanna, compiled a compelling collection of statements by eleven musicians and venue operators who've been marginalized within the predominantly white Toronto (and Canadian) music industry. Last November, the non-profit Music Gallery hosted a panel discussion: "Music: Racism, Power & Privilege 101". Many who attended, including the authors of the Now article, challenged the organizers for the lack of a Q&A period and failure to include panelists from the reggae, soca, and hip-hop scenes. They initiated a conversation with several of the panel's organizers, one that led to the Now sound-off and, hopefully, an ongoing sharing of stories via the hashtag #racisminmusic and the e-mail address racisminmusic@now.ca. Check out the story at  http://nowtoronto.com

Bruce Cockburn's "Moral Imperatives"

Mark Dunn, in a recent Canadian Dimension (Winter 2016) profile of Bruce Cockburn (“The Moral Imperatives of a Modern Troubadour”) lets the artist off the hook when Cockburn characterizes the extremists of ISIS as “human shit” and muses aloud about “exterminating them”, while never once acknowledging that the imperial adventures of the United States and its allies create the very conditions which breed religious extremism and terrorism. Nor does Dunn question Cockburn when the singer mentions Afghanistan. For the record, Cockburn not only played for the Canadian troops in Kandahar in 2009, but he accepted the symbolic presentation of a rocket launcher from the Canadian base commander. When the USA and NATO, after the fall of the USSR,  evoked the “responsibility to protect” doctrine as an excuse for overthrowing regimes that stand in their way, many activists with strong “moral imperatives” fell for it. Sure, let’s defend ourselves from extremist violence, but let’s also acknowledge that silence about the war makers on “our side” who nurture it is a form of complicity. I expect Canadian Dimension, as a socialist magazine, to ask tough questions when talking to celebrities about their views on foreign policy.

(Letter sent to Canadian Dimension, February 13th).

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14) PV FUND DRIVE - WE NEED $50,000 TO STAY IN PRINT

            With this issue, People’s Voice launches our annual Press Fund Drive for $50,000. Just like our predecessors going back to 1922 - The Worker, the Canadian Tribune, the Pacific Tribune, and other publications over the decades - PV relies entirely on direct support from our readers.

            That puts us in a difficult position. As costs for mailing and printing go up, our subscription prices cover only a shrinking portion of the overall cost of publishing twenty issues a year. But raising subscription rates inevitably means that some readers would no longer be able to afford the paper. The most important part of the solution is to dramatically increase our total subscriber base, reaching out to thousands of people across Canada who would appreciate receiving a revolutionary socialist newspaper in their mailboxes. We encourage every reader to ask friends and co-workers to subscribe. Subscription forms are available on request, and you can also use the box on page 12.

            The other way to cover our costs, of course, is through a variety of fundraising strategies. Every year, PV supporters host special events in cities and towns across the country, and some bring in revenue through street sales and other tactics. Every dollar raised through these activities is highly appreciated! In coming issues, we will highlight such local initiatives. The value of the May Day greetings in our May 1 issue also counts towards our target - by getting your union local or solidarity group to place a greeting, you can make a big contribution to a successful 2016 Press Fund drive.

            The biggest single source for the $50,000 we need to continue publishing remains the direct mail appeal, which goes out to current and recently lapsed subscribers in the last week of February. When the appeal arrives in your mailbox, please try to respond quickly. Since our main fundraising takes place during the first half of each year, our bank account is always low by the time the Fund Drive starts, but the bills never stop arriving.

            This year, to encourage generous early returns on the mail appeal, we are offering a special incentive. Readers who contribute a minimum of $300 by March 31 will receive a mix CD of revolutionary songs selected by members of our Editorial Board. Those who donate $500 or more by March 31 will get the CD, plus their choice of two posters. In honour of this year’s 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, the first poster features Dolores Ibarruri, the famed “La Pasionaria” who rallied the Republican forces against Franco’s fascists. The second is Karl Marx, whose career as a crusading newspaper editor of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung began on October 15, 1842.

            As always, readers who contribute $1000 to the Fund Drive at any time will receive a lifetime subscription.

            This year People’s Voice also faces new political challenges. For the past decade, we worked tirelessly to educate and mobilize working people against the most far-right, anti-equality government in recent Canadian history. Now that the Harper Conservatives are in the dumpster, hopefully never to return, the political terrain has shifted. The new Liberal government in Ottawa made some progressive promises on social and equality issues to win a majority, but Justin Trudeau and his cabinet must be pressured relentlessly to fulfill those pledges.

            From our point of view, however, the new government does not represent a fundamental change on basic economic questions. Despite a shift towards some stimulus spending, the Liberals remain a government of big business, dedicated to protecting the ability of the corporations to squeeze maximum profits from the exploitation of workers. The Liberals have already signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the latest deal to strengthen corporate powers at the expense of trade unions, farmers, indigenous peoples, and national sovereignty. On foreign policy, the Liberals have halted Canada’s bombing role in Iraq and Syria, but the “military mission” has been expanded, and the $15 billion sale of armoured vehicles to the despotic and misogynist Saudi regime is going ahead.

            In the coming issues, People’s Voice will use our pages to raise awareness around the struggles for working class rights, indigenous sovereignty, women’s equality, environmental justice, and world peace. Uniquely among the alternative media in Canada, we will go beyond critiques of capitalism, to present the strong argument for a socialist future.

            We hope you agree that the working class needs a print publication to campaign for these causes. In our next issue, we will also report on efforts to expand the PV presence on the internet, a crucial arena in the clash of politics in the 21st century.

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