November 1-15, 2006
Volume 14 - Number 19
$1

Prolétaires de tous les pays, unissez-vous!
Otatoskewak ota kitaskinahk mamawestotan!
Workers of all lands, unite!

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CONTENTS 
1. Secret tenders  issued for Ontario P3 Hospitals
2. The good papers of labour
3. Right-wing offensive in Toronto election stalls
4. Softwood sellout deals - Editorial
5. Eliminate all nuclear weapons - Editorial
6. New victory for small parties raises further issues
7. It's hard to fly with a broken right wing
8. Wages facing tough downward pressure
9. End Canada's occupation of Afghanistan!
10. Communist Youth Union "Dissolved" by Czech state
11. Action and unity for a better Manitoba
12. Celebrate Canada's early struggle for democracy
13. Homeless rally in Vancouver
14. CLC condemns Tory funding
15.  Wal-Mart must pay for extra work
16. Nepal trade unions condemn Maoist attacks
17. Violence against women affects millions
18. Website for Women's Equality
19. What's Left
Podcast of People's Voice Articles
Clarté (en français)

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People's Voice

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Secret tenders  issued for Ontario P3 Hospitals

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

Commentary by PV Ontario Bureau

MORE SLY ANTI-DEMOCRATIC maneuvers to help health-care profiteers in Ontario have come to light. The latest serious news: the McGuinty government has issued secret tenders for seven hospitals across the province in the form of Requests for Proposals (RFPs), a step in the privatization process.

     Most RFPs for government contracts are available on the website for public tenders (merx.com). These new P3 hospital tenders, however, are top secret.

     In a press release, the Ontario Health Coalition has criticized the McGuinty Liberals' deceitful track record on privatization. That record includes telling the local hospitals not to reveal estimated costs at the outset of bidding, so that they cannot be held accountable for cost overruns. The government also recently announced that it will pay the companies to offset their costs for bidding on P3s - from which the private companies stand to make extraordinary profits.

     These developments expose the repeated claims that P3s "transfer risk" to the private sector. Instead, it appears these giant P3 privatization firms actually rely heavily on the capitalist state for their profits and to camouflage their actions.

     "So far, the McGuinty government has put out to tender more than $1 billion in secret privatized hospital deals," noted Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "We asked the McGuinty government for copies of the tenders for their privatized hospital projects and were told that we cannot get them until the deals are signed."

     The Coalition approached the NDP opposition, who were also denied access. "We have been refused this information despite the fact that we already won a freedom of information request forcing disclosure on the first privatized P3 hospital in Brampton," Mehra stated.

     The Coalition says it has learned from hospital officials that they have been ordered to follow a "news blackout" and to keep the estimated cost of their new buildings secret. (The key information contained in the tenders includes the government's estimates of the costs and the scope of services to be privatized.)

     "The government is playing a game of secrecy and double-speak. They know that by the time a freedom of information request goes through all the procedures the contracts will be signed and impossible to change for twenty years or more," concluded Mehra. "How does this meet their own promises for transparency, public accountability and how is it possibly in the public interest?"

     The hospitals affected include Bluewater Health Sarnia; North Bay Regional Health Centre; Quinte Healthcare; Sault Area Hospitals; St. Joseph's Health Centre London; Sudbury Regional Hospital, and Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga.

     At 33, Ontario's current number of P3 privatization hospital announcements is higher than anywhere else in the country. But P3 privatization has left a bad taste in people's mouths.

     Take Highway 407. In 1993, the Rae NDP government announced that this new highway was to be completed by a private-sector consortium as a toll highway. Carried out by the Harris Tories, it opened in June 1997, half a year late and $80 million over budget. There are 93 years remaining until the contract expires. In the past several years, rates for some peak driving hours on the 407 have gone up more than 200 per cent.

     Ontarians don't want P3 privatization for their health care either. No wonder the Ministry has resorted to the "Big Lie" tactic. The government poses as a valiant defender of public health care, but the real policy is privatization.

     Take this August statement by David Caplan, Minister of Public Infrastructure and Renewal: "We will not compromise the integrity of our public health system. All Ontario hospitals, no matter how they are funded, will be publicly owned, controlled and accountable." Similarly, in April, the Minister's Communications Director stated in the Sarnia Observer: "If local residents want to know what Bluewater Health includes in its RFP, all they need to do is ask when it is prepared later this year."

     The yardstick of bourgeois politics, however, is not what they say, but what they do. In practice, the McGuinty Liberals' approach to health profiteering parallels the Harris Tories, who brought us two P3 hospitals, including the William Osler hospital in Brampton.

     Following legal action by many public health advocates, the government provided access to documents contained in a single room. To look at the documents for the $1.3 billion Osler deal, viewing time must be booked with the hospital, is limited to two hours, and requires signing a waiver promising not to photograph or duplicate any document.

     Despite these extraordinary strictures, the documents that are available do not include any financial information. Many other important elements have been deleted or omitted. The explanation for this extraordinary secrecy was provided by representatives of the hospital and consortium, who said: "There is certain information that is not present because it is proprietary to [the consortium]... We have rights under the Freedom of Information Act to include or not include certain commercially sensitive items - borrowing costs, and the value of the entire project are deemed commercially sensitive."

     With their ferocious appetite for profits, corporations look on the public sector like a big dog eyes a meaty bone. McGuinty's Liberals are no corporate dog catchers, however. They are part of the fangs on the beast, easily smashing through the thin wall of Canadian democracy, as they have with these secret tenders. They crack open another part of that thin wall again, when the P3 privatized hospitals open and the right of all Canadians to excellent quality public health care is shattered.

     The Canadian people, not least the working class and labour movement, must continue to mobilize and build public pressure. We must strengthen our democratic walls, and become dog catcher for the corporate hounds. The very fact Canadians won public health care was a key victory. It showed that we can challenge corporate power. But until that domination is broken, the assault on health care will continue, with grave consequences for working people.

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The good papers of labour

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

By Sam Hammond

ON SEPTEMBER 12, the Canadian Labour Congress made a submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee On Finance regarding the 2007-2008 Federal Budget. On October 2, the CLC published a paper called "A Labour Perspective on the Fiscal Imbalance," followed on October 6 with "Jobs: The Details Look Bad".

     Then on October 17, Barbara Byers, executive vice-president of the Congress, made a presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons With Disabilities. The CLC representatives were on their feet addressing government committees who are notorious for sitting on their hands.

     It is obvious the CLC and its analytical people have been busy. The research is of course quite good, on a common theme of a "people over corporate" agenda. The figures are well known to trade unionists, but to compress them together sometimes is very useful.

     Some capitalist think-tank ideologues, who seem to live second by second with figures and can establish a trend in moments when it suits them, have been crowing about the momentary increase of 16,000 manufacturing jobs. This transient phenomenon resembles a transparent gossamer veil pulled in front of a generation of corporate plunder, political betrayal, lies and subservience.

     The vaunted 16,000 jobs are mostly part-time and self employed. This figure parallels the loss in the same time frame of 15,000 full-time wage paying jobs. Both live within the spectre of the loss of 309,000 industrial jobs since 2002 in the goods producing sector. The seasonally adjusted figures tell us that in September there were 1,131,000 Canadians who wanted to work but did not have employment. The same month youth employment fell from 58.4% to 58.1%. This looks a lot better than saying that youth unemployment is at 41.9%, but of course it is.

     To be part of these figures you have to get on the board. There are probably hundreds of thousands who do not statistically exist. They live in the shadow land of "never-having-worked" or of "been dropped from the numbers," trapped in the quagmire of the semi-employed, chronically unemployed or disqualified by old age. Consider also these conditions against a backdrop of announced future lay-offs, and plant closures that are known but not entered on the data board until they happen. As the Canadian Labour Congress says, "The details look bad."

     The alleged gap between federal government revenue/spending and the provincial counterparts is called the "Fiscal Imbalance". In this playground of political slogging, agenda implementation and half truths, the CLC cuts through a lot of the BS when it states, ".... the real issue at stake today is the role of government, and particularly the federal government, in Canadian society."

     This is where the real class differences become stark and painful. Whether paid for directly by the feds, or by the provinces with federal grant moneys or transfers, this is the playing field of public ownership of social programs, education, health care, skills development, child care - or the creation or repossession of these vital services. Again from the CLC: "From the perspective of working families, the real issue is how to finance and deliver a high, secure and stable level of public and social services."

     Conversely, the Canadian Council of Corporate Executives wants smaller government involvement, a reduction or a complete withdrawal of the federal government from financing, administering and policing of social programs and public resources. They favour a "security agenda" of deep integration with the United States. That means adjusting our public ownership, both real and desired, to American standards, and removing any government ability to preserve minimum standards (like the Canada Health Act).

     The result is rapid privatisation and the perennial race to the bottom for quality of life. In any relatively sane environment, these guys should be charged with treason. The future they have in mind for our children is scary. In the Maritimes, their corporate counterparts can't wait for the rest of the country to self destruct. They have a little nasty of their own called Atlantica. Surprise, surprise - Atlantica promotes the same Americanization, military, policing and border integration as the CCCE mob. Same players, different inning.

     But labour wants massive investment in community and infrastructure. The goal is a knowledge-based economy to develop highly skilled and thoroughly educated Canadians who fit into the cutting edge of high tech modern production, the graduates of a top-to-bottom publicly owned and operated educational system, nurtured by a universal, public health care system. Sounds good to me.

     The CLC papers are basically sound, or even better. Where we are falling down is stirring up the working class forces that will fire the first shots. We need a social dynamic of renewal and recruitment that will create the leadership and forge the alliances to start a fight and win it.

     This is not an easy task, but it is so, so important. It is not completely lacking in the ranks of organized labour by any means, but the advocates of extra-parliamentary labour political campaigning have been fighting a rear-guard skirmish since the cancellation of the Ontario Days of Action by the OFL leadership.

     This would provide a refreshing and clear answer to the parliamentary confusion that is making the rounds of the navel gazing crowd.... NDP or another social democratic movement to the left? The answer is at street level. Let's see who performs and then we'll know who to elect.

     From the realistic perspective of working class needs, shouldn't representation, alliances and coalitions be performance-based? It would be hard to discuss this subject too much. What do our readers think?

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Right-wing offensive in Toronto election stalls

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

PV Ontario Bureau

TORONTO - After three years of relatively progressive municipal government, the right-wing has launched an offensive to take over City Hall and the School Board.

     Mayor David Miller, elected to clean out the lobbyists and the cronyism connected to former Tory Mayor Mel Lastman, has made some improvements - more modest than many hoped. However, even these are too much for the developers, builders, corporate landlords and financial interests.

     Jane Pitfield is backed by these interests, but is increasingly seen as not up to the job. Starting with a call to eliminate unions and contract out municipal jobs, Pitfield has stumbled in public debates - flip-flopping on policy while displaying temper and frustration.

     Fortunately for Miller, another right-wing candidate, Stephen LeDrew, was a last minute entry, reflecting divisions in the corporate camp around Pitfield's performance.

     While no cake walk is expected, Miller looks like he'll be re-elected. Provincial and federal funding for public transit, social housing, property tax reform and uploading the costs of welfare, health, housing and transit are key issues for Miller, along with waterfront development, the city airport, urban planning, and the problem of disposing of Toronto's garbage.

     The new four-year term of office, pushed through by the provincial Liberals, has encouraged more candidates for Council, as well as the School Board, where the honorarium has been raised from $5,000 to $20,000 a year.

     The new City of Toronto Act, which gives Council a little more taxing power, carries with it obligations to create a super powered executive body. This "super-executive" is to make the key decisions over the city's future, while Council acts as the rubber stamp. If Council does not establish the super-executive, the province has the authority to impose it. This "sleeper issue" needs more debate, as a continuation of the fight for civic democracy and autonomy.

     Progressive candidates (and voters) are facing challenges from the right-wing. But Joe Mihevic is also up against former Mayor and civic reformer John Sewell, who played a key role in mobilizing against the Tories' forced amalgamation of Toronto. Sewell's decision to run against Mihevic, who has an excellent record on Council, is a big mistake. Rather than fighting each other, progressives should work out a division of labour so that the right-wing voices on Council are diminished.

     The Campaign for Public Education (CPE) has played an excellent role, putting forward virtually a full slate of progressive candidates across the city's 22 school board wards (each school board ward is twice the size of the 44 Council wards). Comprised of parents, progressive trustees, unions, and the public, the CPE operates year round on the basis of progressive education policy and campaigns directed at the provincial government and the School Board. A key issue has been the funding formula brought in by the Tories, which the Liberals promised to fix, but haven't.

     Indeed the Liberals, whose leader Dalton McGuinty campaigned to be the "Education Premier" in 2003, are proceeding as their predecessors did with more cuts to both public and separate schools. Across the province, School Boards have said they cannot balance their budgets with the meagre provincial transfers. The biggest Catholic Boards (Toronto and Peel) have flatly refused to make the cuts and are facing provincial government Trusteeship - exactly what the Harris Tories did four years ago.

     The public Toronto District School Board has also resisted the cuts, though as PV went to press the Board was considering a new packaging of the $91 million in cuts that would shift $40 million from the capital budgets to the operating budget, cut a lot of jobs by attrition, substantially increase user fees and could include the sale of assets.

     Progressive Trustees Elizabeth Hill, Stan Nemiroff, Irene Atkinson, Chris Bolton, Stephnie Payne, Rick Telfer and others were expected to oppose the newly configured cuts, which change nothing but could give the appearance of a solution to the provincial funding shortfalls.

     "These cuts are real, and they can't be made without huge damage to the system and to the day to day education of our students", said Hill, recognized as the leader of the left on the School Board.

     Two-time Board Vice-Chair Stan Nemiroff echoed Hill's comments. "This is smoke and mirrors aimed to help the Liberal government solve the problem of failed promises about fixing the flawed funding formula as they head into a provincial election next year," said Nemiroff. "Make no mistake, these cuts are going to hurt kids and the public should know that the Liberals are responsible for it."

     Hill and Nemiroff face major challenges from Liberal and Tory candidates with political machines behind them. both candidates are asking parents, supporters and friends of public education to come out and help as the race enters the final lap.

     Volunteers and donations can be sent to Elizabeth Hill at 209 Oakwood Ave, Toronto, M6E 2V3, elizzhill@aol.com
and to Stan Nemiroff at 338 Concord Ave, Toronto, M6H 2P8, 416-533-6479, email  stan.nemiroff@primus.ca.


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Softwood sellout deals - Editorial

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

People's Voice Editorial, Nov. 1-15, 2006

Parliament has ratified the softwood lumber deal, paying a terrible long-term price for some short-term trade dispute relief. Here's one example, as researched by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The agreement outlines which Canadian products are subject to export taxes, such as "coniferous wood, sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed, of a thickness exceeding six millimeters." Wood siding, flooring and fencing are also discussed in similar detail.

     Yet "logs" are not mentioned. As the CCPA notes, "if a subsidy exists - and various trade dispute panels have concluded it does not, or if it does that it can't be quantified - then logs, the first product generated after cutting down a tree, ought to be on that list." This absence, combined with forest policy changes enacted to appease the US lumber lobby, means that raw log exports will jump even more sharply.

     Under the terms of the softwood deal, once certain export or price thresholds are reached, a 15 percent tax may be imposed on processed lumber exported to the U.S. But not on logs!

     And the price paid by the big timber monopolies for coastal logs is falling, from $19.37 per cubic metre two years ago, to $7.68 per cubic metre last year. As the CCPA concludes, "BC collects fewer stumpage dollars, fewer men and women work in its sawmills and more and more logs are shipped out of province to US benefit."

     In two years, either party can legally walk from this deal. Here's a prediction: the big U.S. lumber interests will launch another challenge, and treacherous Canadian politicians will cave in once again... unless we vote them out of office.

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Eliminate all nuclear weapons - Editorial

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

People's Voice Editorial, Nov. 1-15, 2006

The recent DPRK (North Korean) nuclear test raises critical issues, but not those presented by the mainstream media. The corporate pundits say the question is simple: how to stop the "evil madman," Kim Jong-Il? But for most of the world, the madness of militarism emanates from the White House and the Pentagon, not from Pyongyang. After all, it is the United States which has repeatedly and illegally attacked sovereign countries in recent years, and which threatens the first use of nuclear weapons.

     North Americans rarely hear the historical truth - that the DPRK suffered devastating aerial bombing and germ warfare attacks at the hands of the U.S. and its allies (including Canada) during the Korean War. The United States keeps tens of thousands of troops in South Korea, and sails its Seventh Fleet offshore. To undermine progress towards reunification of the two Koreas and to maintain its foothold on the Asian mainland, the U.S. engages in constant provocation and demonization of the DPRK. Is it any wonder that the DPRK allocates much of its national income on military defence?

     Since the early 1990s, the DPRK has faced the collapse of its trade with the USSR, and catastrophic floods and crop failures. The DPRK signed a "Framework Agreement" with the Clinton Administration, agreeing to drop its nuclear weapons program in return for fuel, food supplies, and the construction of two light-water nuclear power reactors. But the United States refused carry out these obligations, and then ominously threatened the DPRK as part of Bush's so-called "axis of evil," setting the stage for the latest rise in tensions.

     The Bush Administration must not be allowed to whip up another illegal war. The Canadian Peace Alliance has urged the federal government to oppose sanctions against the DPRK, which would be a step towards such a war. As the Alliance says, the focus must be on complete elimination of all nuclear weapons, including the 10,000 such weapons in the arsenal of the United States.

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New victory for small parties raises further issues

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

By Kimball Cariou

YET ANOTHER undemocratic electoral law has been tossed out by the courts, and now Canada's smaller political parties are taking aim at discriminatory broadcast time rules.

     On Oct. 12, Ontario Superior Court judge struck down a law that provides registered federal parties with $1.75 annually for each vote they received in the previous federal election. But the funding only goes to parties which won more than two per cent of the total vote, or whose candidates received five percent in particular ridings.

     The law was challenged by the Communist Party of Canada, the Canadian Action Party, the Christian Heritage Party, the Marijuana Party, the Progressive Canadian Party, and the Green Party - which received 4.3 percent of the vote in the 2004 election, enough to qualify for public funding.

     Their successful legal argument was based largely on the historic and precedent-setting Figueroa case, in which the courts found that discrimination against smaller parties was illegal. Launched in 1993 by Miguel Figueroa, leader of the Communist Party of Canada, that initial challenge to the Elections Act resulted in striking down the requirement that parties must nominate a minimum of 50 candidates. The Figueroa case also led to refundable candidate deposits and other key victories for small parties.

     Judge Matlow based his ruling on two sections of the Charter of Rights: the Section 15 equality guarantee and the Section 3 guarantee of fair voting rights. He said that voting rights involve "much more than the mere right to enter a voting booth and mark a ballot that is counted in an election."

     He noted that parties needed funding to make voters aware of their platforms and candidates, and that voters need information to cast their ballots in a way that genuinely reflects their views.     He said the law, which came into effect in 2004, made it difficult for members of small parties to "play a meaningful role in the electoral process."

     While the amounts at stake are not huge, he wrote that "such funding would substantially increase the possibilities that such parties could make voters aware of their platform and candidates."

     "I consider that the existence of the threshold diminishes public confidence in the electoral process and encourages a public perception that the threshold exists only to benefit the major political parties, who alternate, from time to time, in forming the government and are in a position to maintain it," Judge Matlow said.

     The money will be awarded retroactively to 2003 and, including interest charges, brings the total the parties will share to approximately $500,000.

     Tracy Parsons, leader of the Progressive Canadian party, told the media that while she is not in favour of public funding of parties, the ruling restores fairness to the electoral process. "If you're going to fund any, you should fund all," said Parsons.

     The lawyer for the small parties, Peter Rosenthal, estimated that the Marijuana Party would get about $60,000 a year; the Christian Heritage Party $70,000; and the Communist Party $8,000.

     Based on their vote totals in the January 2006 election, the Conservative Party is eligible for about $9.2 million per year, the Liberals $7.7 million, the NDP $4.5 million, the Bloc Québécois $2.7 million, and the Greens $830,000.

     Privy Council spokesperson Myriam Massabki said the government had the judgment and "will review it carefully before commenting."

     But political observers believe the Matlow ruling is certain to survive any appeal. Just as significant, it raises the next critical issue of electoral fairness - the allocation of free broadcast time almost exclusively to the parties represented in Parliament, leaving only one or two minutes of the 390 minute total for each of the smaller parties. In effect, the wealthier parties, which already spend millions on advertising, also have a near complete monopoly on free-time radio and TV broadcasts during elections.

     In a letter to Peter Grant, Broadcast Arbitrator, Communist Party representative Liz Rowley noted that the ruling was handed down while the annual meeting to determine distribution of broadcast time was taking place.

     "In our view," stated Rowley, "this judgement has immediate bearing on your decision with respect to the division of Broadcast time among 15 registered parties."

     Her letter draws attention to Judge Matlow's decision, which states that "Much of the information about the platform of a political party is communicated to potential voters through the media and it is very expensive to purchase political advertising..."

     The decision, notes Rowley, "is further confirmation that the courts regard democracy in a broader sense than do the large parties who currently compose Parliament and draft and pass exclusionary and self-serving election legislation... We ask that you consider Judge Matlow's decision prior to rendering your decision on the division of Broadcast time for the next 12 months.  We believe that the proposal to divide the 390 minutes of free time equally amongst the registered parties is well supported by this latest court decision."

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It's hard to fly with a broken right wing

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

By Sam Hammond

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, something happens that restores one's determination and makes that uphill road a lot less steep. The "Citizen's Rally and March" organized on Sunday, October 15, by Ontario's resident redneck and Aryan bigot Gary McHale against the people of the Six Nations was a tremendous, unmitigated, glorious flop. Even the Canadian Press and especially the "righter than the rest" Hamilton Channel Eleven couldn't conjure up a significant event out of the dreary few who McHale summoned from all over Ontario and the northern United States.

     After collecting donations from well-heeled bigots through his web site and passing the bucket to about one hundred scraggly supporters who showed up in Caledonia, McHale did what charlatans and con men always do.... he took the money and ran. Two of his wackier supporters managed to get themselves arrested for accosting police, and two unfortunate women who had been out partying got arrested for impaired driving (nowhere near the Six Nations). It was a bright sunny Ontario fall day, and the people who came to gawk along the roadside were not necessarily supporters of McHale, so perhaps he didn't even have a hundred supporters present. This attack by the extreme right, anti-native, hate-driven McHalers didn't even generate enough momentum to propel itself for a couple of city blocks.

     Meanwhile, at the Six Nations reclamation site, perhaps the world's largest "Potluck For Peace" was in full swing. There were about 1500 people on the site, about half of them Six Nations and half supporters. There were Six Nations, trade union, and international flags flying, and the festive mood was infectious with solidarity and friendship. The longest First Nations land occupation in Canadian history faces the upcoming winter with a wonderful back-drop of support.

     October 15th was a wonderful day for all Canadians who support the historic claims of the First Nations people for land, peace, national rights and justice. Meanwhile McHale and his supporters have learned that it is very possible to "clip a right wing" with friendship and solidarity. The potluck was pretty good too!

     (Labour activist Sam Hammond is a proud supporter of Community Friends for Peace and Understanding with Six Nations.)

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Wages facing tough downward pressure

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

By Clarence Torcoran

THE NEW YORK TIMES reported on Oct. 15 ("After years of growth, what about workers' share, by Eduardo Porter) that "job growth is starting to slow, and wages are barely keeping up with inflation. Five years into a relatively robust economic expansion, it's understandable that many American workers feel that they are not getting their fair share of the pie."

     The article noted that "In fact, the share of the economy devoted to workers' wages and benefits has eroded in the United States over the last five years," and that the trend is similar in other rich industrial nations.

     In the United States, the slice of the economic pie going to workers, including wages, health insurance and pension benefits, declined 2.5 percent from 2000 to 2005, to 56.5 percent of gross domestic product, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The comparative figure for Canada is a 1.3% decline over the years 1999-2004.

     Workers in some countries have lost even more. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the workers' share of GDP in Germany fell 3.1 percent over the last five years, and in Japan, the decline was 3 points.

     Meanwhile, the bosses share has risen sharply. Corporate pre-tax profits now take a record-high share of Canada's national income - 14.6% of GDP compared to a twenty-five year average of 10%. In the U.S., corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960s.

     While there have been periods when workers' share has risen (the second half of the 1990s in the U.S., for example) the overall trend since the 1970s has been downward in most industrialized countries.

     Porter found economists to be "mostly perplexed" by labour's long decline. "It's a bit of a mystery why the labour share is falling so much," said Alan B. Krueger, professor of economics at Princeton.

     The mystery is not really that deep. The struggle between workers and bosses over wages, conditions, length of the working day, and other bread and butter issues actually pre-dates capitalism itself. Even slaves found ways to resist the demands of their owners to work harder, for longer hours, and for less compensation. Under capitalism, workers have been able to win higher wages and better conditions when they organize into strong unions. The labour movement in turn is more effective in periods when leadership is given by militant, revolutionary forces with the ability to integrate immediate shop floor battle with larger political and ideological struggles. And the reverse is true - at times when the left is relatively weaker, such as the past couple of decades - the bosses are often able to go on the offensive and push down wages.

     But there are also certain objective factors in this process, related to the internal dynamics of capitalism, and the changing structures of imperialism.

     For example, Porter points to the composition of the U.S. economy: "In 1975, manufacturing accounted for 28 percent of output, while finance accounted for 18 percent... By 1995, the relative importance of these sectors had flipped - with finance accounting for 27 percent and manufacturing for 22 percent."

     In his analysis, "this shift took a chunk out of the workers' share because banks and other financial companies use fewer workers than manufacturers to do what they do, and they don't pay their workers proportionally more."

     To Marxists, there is a clearer explanation of this phenomenon. Profits and wealth are not created by shuffling capital around the planet, but through the exploitation of workers engaged in producing commodities. Workers at the "point of production" (without getting into lengthy debates about precisely which workers are in this category) have the power to choke off the generation of profits. That power has often been used to win higher wages than their fellow workers in the service and financial sectors.

     Porter's article looks at other factors, such as the expansion of manufacturing in China and call centers in India, which have increased the global competition for jobs. In essence, the bosses are expanding the pool of workers they can exploit, faster than the working class has been able to organize, at least for now.

     Here in Canada, the decline in manufacturing has not been as steep as in the United States, which may be one reason for the slower fall in workers' share of the economy. But the decline is nevertheless underway, and the labour movement in our country must find ways to resist the downward pressure on wages and working conditions.

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End Canada's occupation of Afghanistan!

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

PV Vancouver Bureau

THE U.S.-LED occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are increasingly recognized as disasters, even at the top levels of the military. General Richard Dannatt, the highest-ranking military officer in Britain, has warned that the occupation troops in Iraq must be withdrawn soon, since their unwelcome presence is exacerbating security problems.

     Here in Canada, ever-wider circles of the public are calling for withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. The latest to raise their voices are a number of family members of the troops. The first Canadian soldier to quit the military rather than eventually serve in Afghanistan, Francisco Juarez, is currently touring the country speaking at events to make the same demand.

     With the support of the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Islamic Congress, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the broad Quebec peace movement represented by the Collectif Échèc à la guerre, the Council of Canadians, and many other groups, rallies are being held in dozens of cities and towns on October 28, all to press the federal government to withdraw the troops now.

     At a meeting of its Central Committee on the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 weekend, the Communist Party of Canada condemned the imperialist foreign policy of the Harper Tories, "who are planning to involve Canada in supporting ever more dangerous and predatory military campaigns." The CPC resolution warned against the "threat of new, dangerous aggressions by the U.S. against Iran and Syria, potentially sparking a much broader conflict in the Middle East." Welcoming the growth of the anti-war movement, the CPC resolution called for the greatest possible mobilization on October 28 as "an important step to build a broad and powerful movement to defeat the Harper Tories in the next federal election."

     Despite the push by the corporate media, Tory politicians, and the top military brass, millions of Canadians remain convinced that the troops should come home. Most opinion polls show that at least half of respondents hold this view.

     Grassroots indications are even more powerful. In the Vancouver area, for example, the StopWar.ca peace coalition has been conducting regular street polls, asking passersby to vote yes or no to the simple question: should Canadian troops be pulled out of Afghanistan? In every neighbourhood, the "yes" votes are at least 75%, in some areas as high as 90%. The results might be somewhat different in other parts of the country, but the bottom line is that the war is deeply unpopular.

     As Murray Dobbin wrote recently in the Tyee online webzine, "This military engagement will go down in Canadian history as one of the most shameful betrayals of Canadian soldiers in our history. Canadian troops are dying because neither their supreme commander nor their prime minister has the courage to acknowledge what is actually happening. They are dying so Stephen Harper can prove himself to George W. Bush."

     The Senlis Council, a Brussels-based security and development policy group, says Canada's strategy is "to unquestioningly accept America's fundamentally flawed policy approach in southern Afghanistan, thereby jeopardising the success of military operations in the region and the stabilisation, reconstruction and development mission objectives." For example, "Operation Medusa" was a complete waste of resources, and lives, both Afghan and Canadian. This operation drove some 20,000 Afghans out of their homes, generating even more anger and resistance.

     Captain Leo Docherty, of the Scots Guards, the former aide-de-camp to the commander of the British task force in southern Afghanistan resigned in September, describing a similar campaign in southern Helmand province as "a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency. All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British."

     Canadian soldiers are making refugees of the people they are supposed to be helping. According to the Senlis Council, there are between ten and fifteen refugee camps in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, each with up to 10,000 people, largely the result of Canadian and British conventional war tactics. They are receiving "little or no help from relief agencies."

     Canada has now spent over $4 billion on its Afghan mission - 90 percent of which has been used in the military conflict. Even the development aid that has been spent is often resented for the way in which it is wasted. According to University of Manitoba professor John Ryan "a recent report for the Overseas Development Institute, by Ashraf Ghani, the chancellor of Kabul University and former Karzai finance minister, has stated that in 2002 about 90 percent of the $1 billion spent on 400 aid projects was wasted."

     Many Canadians still say that they are reluctant to "cut and run" without a strategy to help Afghanistan recover from decades of conflict. But there are other alternatives. According to retired international affairs professor Jack Warnock of Regina, Canada should "Withdraw all military forces from Afghanistan and withdraw from all projects being sponsored by the U.S. government and NATO [and then] work within the UN General Assembly to develop a new project for Afghanistan ... completely separate from any US or NATO project."

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Communist Youth Union "Dissolved" by Czech state

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

The Communist Youth Union (KSM) in the Czech Republic has been "officially dissolved" by the government. As reported in previous issues of People's Voice, the Czech state has been moving towards this step for some time. The KSM is one of the largest youth organizations in the Czech Republic. It is allied with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), the third-largest political party in the country.

     The KSM reports that on October 16, it received a letter from the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic announcing that the KSM has been dissolved, in spite of a campaign against the illegalization of the organization of young communists.

     Thousands of citizens had signed a petition against plans by the Interior Ministry to make the KSM illegal. Within the Czech Republic, the protest was backed by the organization of former antifascist fighters, student organizations, political parties and civic associations. The campaign also won wide international support. Hundreds of youth and student organizations, trade unions and political parties, together with thousands of people, demonstrated and sent protests to embassies and consulates of the Czech Republic in their countries. Solidarity with the KSM was expressed by members of parliaments, famous intellectuals and personalities like Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo, Zapatista leader Marcos, and singer Bono Vox from U2. The World Federation of Democratic Youth initiated an International day of solidarity with the KSM on February 27, 2006.

     There have been varying explanations from the Czech state about its crackdown. The Interior Ministry originally stated that the KSM was engaged in activities restricted to political parties, then went further to call the organization's behaviour "illegal" because it was based on the theories of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, and on the necessity of socialist revolution.

     Speaking to People's Voice on October 19, Pavel Vosalik, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Canada, brushed off concerns, saying that dissolution was "not such a problematic issue," since the KSM upholds Communist ideology. The main problem, Vosalik said, is that the KSM engages in political activities, despite being registered in the republic's category of a civic society. Further, he claimed - without citing any specific examples - that the KSM's program violates Czech laws by inciting violence and hatred against other citizens.

     In an Oct. 19 news release, the Interior Ministry said that "The political program of (the Communist Youth Union) suggests an active involvement in abolishing private property as well as in collectivization of such a property. According to the Ministry of the Interior any declaration or expressed intention to deny or to restrict the right of a citizen to possess a property stands in a sharp contrast with basic democratic principles. The right of property is guaranteed in the Constitution of the Czech Republic (Article 9) as well as in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Article 11)."

     For its part, the KSM says it "will carry on the struggle for the rights of majority of young people - students, young workers and unemployed - and for socialism!" The KSM will also challenge the Ministry's decision in court.

     Across Europe, there is a growing atmosphere of anti-communist witch-hunts and campaigns, including calls for the criminalization of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. The Interior Ministry's action against the KSM was taken just one week before local and Senate elections in which the KSCM is participating. While the Ministry says that no action is planned against the KSCM, its statement that the Constitution does not allow advocacy to restrict property rights is a clear warning of intentions to impose state regulations on the party's program and policies.

     The KSM has urged all supporters of democracy "to stand up internationally against this illegalization and criminalization of the communist movement," by sending protests to embassies of the Czech Republic. Copies of such protests should be emailed to international@ksm.cz or faxed to: ++420 222 897 449.

     There are also web petitions initiated by the Communist Party of Greece, at http://4ksm.kke.gr, and by the World Federation of Democratic Youth, at http://wfdy-ksm.kne.gr.

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Action and unity for a better Manitoba

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

Greetings to Manitoba Federation of Labour delegates, from the Manitoba Provincial Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada

Delegates at the Manitoba Federation of Labour's Nov. 2-5 convention must consider some important challenges for workers in this province. Underlying everything is the need for strategy and prompt action to block the election of Conservative politicians in Manitoba both provincially and federally next year.

     The Manitoba NDP's largely ineffective effort to narrow social divisions makes defeating the Tories even harder. The NDP has enriched corporations and the wealthy through tax cuts and privatizations, while low-paid workers, especially Aboriginal people and women, face a struggle to survive.

     Manitoba's organized labour movement needs to do its utmost to defeat the Harper and McFadyen Tories, both parties of big business with no sympathy for workers or the needy. The record profits raked in by Canadian corporations over the past three years are all they care about, the most selfish and narrow interest imaginable.

     Despite the intensifying attacks on labour, Manitoba unions have managed to block concessions and outright rollbacks. The province's average wage increased eight cents an hour to $19.34 from 1999 to 2005 after taking inflation into account. If elected, Tory majority governments would target union rights even more if union resistance threatens corporate profits.

     They would ensure Manitoba remains a low-wage, low-growth province supporting every reactionary and imperialist venture by Harper or Bush. The Harper Tories are moving now to cancel the Wheat Board's single-desk selling for farmers, which for workers is like ripping up every collective agreement in Western Canada.

     Tory majority governments will do nothing to change the immense, racist unemployment of Aboriginal people, keeping them as a vast "reserve army of labour" that drives wages down since so many are desperate for work. They will oppose settling land claims that limit corporate power to control Manitoba's rich natural resources and that open prospects for Aboriginal-led development in the North and elsewhere.

     Much more is at stake, such as public health and child care, Canadian troops in Afghanistan, Canadian sovereignty, civil rights, good paying jobs and the very right of trade unions to participate in the political process. For example, the ban on union political donations is a reactionary attack on workers and democracy.

     Every day, the parties of big business in Manitoba are carrying out a broad and dangerous "drive to the right."

     In the corporate media they justify privatizations and gutted social programs. They blame the "selfish, lazy" poor, the unemployed, and the victims of injustice for their own misery. They give corporations "freedom" to save the earth from global warming with no deadlines or limits. And they scare people into supporting war against "terrorists," fomenting racism and xenophobia at home.

     The surest way to block the Right is prompt and united political action by Manitoba's labour movement, challenging the profits and orthodoxy of big business, defending and expanding the public sector, and making Manitoba a voice against war and aggression.

     Because of its numbers and organization, Manitoba's trade union movement has a crucial and independent role to play in defeating the corporate agenda, without relying on or contracting out political work to a political party such as the NDP.

     An essential part of isolating and defeating the big business parties is strengthening alliances with farmers (labour-farmer unity), Aboriginal peoples, women, youth and students, and others. Alliances to block the privatization of health care and to advance public child care must be strengthened.

     Blocking the Tories in Manitoba will help to open doors for movements working for better wages, social rights and political formations that do not bow down to corporate interests. As a political party with the long-term goal of socialism, Communists will work with all groups to defeat the Tories in the struggles ahead.

     The Communist Party wishes delegates a productive convention.

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Celebrate Canada's early struggle for democracy

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

By Betty Griffin

"I die without remorse; all that I desired was the good of my country, in insurrection and in independence. For 18 years I have taken an active part in almost every popular movement, always with conviction and sincerity. My efforts have been for the independence of my compatriots. Thus far we have been unfortunate.

"But the wounds of my country will heal - the peace loving Canadian will see liberty and happiness born anew on the St. Lawrence.

"To you my compatriots, my execution and that of my comrades on the scaffold will be of use. For then I die on the gallows the infamous death of a murderer. I leave behind my young children and my wife, for them I die with the cry on my lips- Vive La Liberte, Vive l'Indépendence!"
 
    Can any Canadian identify the writer of these lines? He was one of twelve in Montreal and two in Toronto hanged for their part in the 1837 Rebellion in Upper and Lower Canada, a rebellion that gave birth to Canadian democracy, the separation of church and state, and free public education. We are happy to celebrate rebellions and revolutions in other countries but it is time we paid heed to our own heroic struggles in the fight for freedom and justice.

     Frustration and anger boiled up with the early settlers in reaction to the huge land giveaways. It started in the Maritimes. Newfoundland was declared an admiralty and no one was allowed to settle, but the fishermen clung to their little settlements until the commanding admiral in 1789 ordered the destruction of every building that possessed a chimney. Not until 1819 was the settlers' right of occupancy of their homes recognized as legal.

     The whole of Prince Edward Island was given away to seventy wealthy British aristocrats in one day. By 1838 half of New Brunswick and most of Nova Scotia was similarly handed out. The 300,000 dispossessed from Ireland and Britain were literally dumped on the shores of the St. Lawrence River where many died of disease and starvation. There was no free land for them.

     When 10,000 citizens petitioned in 1831 in support of separation of church and state (the church was one of the biggest landowners), they were refused in no uncertain terms by the Family Compact, a refusal considered to have been a prime cause of the Rebellion.

     From May of 1837, protest rallies were held the length and breadth of Lower Canada. Montreal had joint meetings of French Canadians and Irish democrats. More and more rallies expressed support for the Patriotes led by Papineau. Their slogans proclaimed "Flee, tyrants, for the People are Awakening!", "In Unity is Strength", "All honour to our Patriote Women", "Death rather than enslavement", "Defend the People's Rights and Liberties." And the first Canadian flag was flown - horizontal bands of green, red and white adorned with a beaver, a maple leaf and a maskinonge (a large pike found in Eastern lakes).

     The mass movements of protest reached a climax on October 23 when some 5000 gathered at St. Charles, the most militant gathering yet. Speakers urged armed resistance although Papineau was reluctant. The governor issued warrants for the arrest of leading Patriotes and authorized troops to carry them out. The ill-armed Patriotes gathered in the towns to protect their leaders and met defeat when 6000 British troops marched against them, burning down whole villages as they went.

     At the same time, William Lyon Mackenzie and his Reformers in Upper Canada fared no better, in fact between getting their dates for action confused, having no military plans and finally having their more conservative members turn traitor, Mackenzie never did see the great convention in York (Toronto) which was to proclaim responsible government. He fled to the United States, but his friends Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews were hanged, despite over 30,000 signed petitions asking for clemency. Lount was offered his life provided he would turn informer, but, as his wife said, "He will never expose others even if it means his own life.: In spite of her pleas, his body, together with Matthews, were consigned to Potters' Field.

     In Montreal twelve Patriotes were hanged, the youngest aged 23. It was DeLorimier who wrote the inspiring message above to his compatriots.

     The fight for democracy in Canada is still to be won, especially now when the powerful can again anoint their own man to be our glorious leader, one who is intent on continuing the destruction of social justice and Canadian independence.

     If anyone survives to breed future historians, they will, without doubt, study the memorials of our own era with shocked incredulity, wondering what ghastly ignorance or ineptitude, led our citizens to accept the rule of madmen.

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What's Left

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

PRINCE GEORGE, BC

Stand Up for the North Conference -  Nov. 4-5, 9 am to 4 pm, College of New Caledonia. Free admission, for info call 250-962-6792.

VANCOUVER, BC

StopWar.ca meetings -  to plan anti-war actions, 5:30 pm, Nov. 8 & 22, Maritime Labour Centre, 111 Victoria Drive. See stopwar.ca for info.

Left Film Night -  Left Film Night, 7 pm, Sunday, Oct. 29 at the Dogwood
Centre, 706 Clark Drive, “Daughters of Afghanistan”, call 604-255-2041 for details.

Cuban Solidarity Night -  Cuban Solidarity Night with Irma Gonzalez, daughter of Cuban Five prisoner Rene Gonzalez, and Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of prisoner Ramon Labanino, Thursday, Nov. 2, 7:30 pm, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings. For other dates on cross-Canada tour sponsored by Canadian
Network on Cuba, see http://www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca.

"Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords and the Propaganda of Silence," -  book launch with authors Sonali Kolhatkar and James Ingalls, Fri., Nov. 3, 7 pm, SFU Harbour Centre (515 W. Hastings), Rm. 1900, by donation $5-$10. Sponsored by StopWar.ca, with People’s Co-op Bookstore.
See  http://www.bleedingafghanistan.com for information.

Palestinian Film Series -  Palestinian Film Series, Fridays at 7 pm, Palestine Community Centre, 1874 Kingsway, $5 students/seniors, $7 adults.
October Revolution Banquet -  Sat., Nov. 4, doors open 4 pm, program 5 pm, followed by dinner, at the Chilean Co-op, 3390 School Ave. Tickets $15 wages/ $8 unwaged, call BC Committee CPC, 604-254-9836.

COPE annual issues conference -  1-5 pm, Sat., Nov. 4, Kiwassa Neighbourhood House, 2425 Oxford St. For info contact Gina, 604-255-0400.

Memorial for Emil Bjarnason -  1 pm, Sunday, Nov. 12, Maritime Labour Centre, 1885 Triumph St.

Gran Peña Comida -  social to celebrate the Cuban Revolution, Sat., Nov. 25, doors at 6 pm, tickets $15, at Chilean Coop, 3390 School Ave. Slide show, performers, fish dinner and refreshments, presented by Peña Folklorica
LatinoAmericana and Semana Cultural de Latino Soy.

StopWar.ca meetings - to plan Oct. 28 rally to demand troops out of Afghanistan, 5:30 pm, Sept. 27 & Oct. 12, Maritime Labour Centre, 111 Victoria Drive. See http://www.stopwar.ca for info. See stopwar.ca for info.


CALGARY, AB

Poverty in Calgary - come tell your story, Wed., Nov. 8, 4-7 pm, 315-10th Ave. SE (3rd floor), dinner provided, bus tickets on request, sponsored by Calgary & District Labour Council and Alberta College of Social Workers,
call 262-2390 for info.

TORONTO, ON

"Five Factories," documentary on Venezuela factory occupations - Thur., Nov. 2, 7 pm, York Lanes Mtg. Room 278, with speakers Miguel Figueroa (Communist Party of Canada leader) and Nchamah Miller (Circulo
Bolivariano Manuelita Saenz). Organized by CPC York U Club & Young Communist League @ York. Info: 416-469-2446.

Grassy Narrows blockaders speak - 7 pm, Thursday, Nov. 2, Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St., suggested donation $5-$10 to support Grassy Narrows. Contact: Kathy, 416-597-1904.

Stop Climate Chaos - Sat., Nov. 4, 1 pm, rally at Nathan Phillips Square (City Hall), march to Metro Hall for Ecofair. Organized by the Toronto Climate Chaos Coalition.

Canada-Cuba Labour Solidarity Conference - Nov. 3-5, Steelworkers’ Hall, 25 Cecil St. Registration $35. For info contact Worker to Worker/Canada-Cuba Labour Solidarity Network, c/o Heidi, 416-431-5498.

Defending Medicare, Ontario Health Coalition forum - Friday, Dec. 1, 7 pm, St. Andrew’s Church (King and Simcoe Streets), with Maude Barlow, Naomi Klein, and Natalie Mehra. Info: 416-441-2502.

REDS ON THE WEB
http://www.communist-party.ca

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Homeless rally in Vancouver

(The following article is from the
November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)
 
By Kimball Cariou

“No homes, no peace” was the chant in Vancouver’s Downtown  Eastside on Oct. 22, as about 250 people gathered to support the occupation of the abandoned Northstar building at  5 West Hastings. Police looked on as the protesters blocked  traffic and shared an open mic, condemning governments and  developers for shutting down low-income housing. Homelessless  is projected to almost triple in Vancouver before the 2010  Winter Olympics.

The police later announced that no immediate steps would be taken to remove the squatters, pending notification of the building’s owners. But the Anti-Poverty Committee (APC),  which organized the action, expects that the police and the rightwing  NPA civic government will look for excuses to remove the occupants sooner rather than later, fearing a repeat of the lengthy Woodwards squat four years ago. That event raised the issue of homelessness to the top of the political agenda in Vancouver, contributing to the defeat of the NPA at the polls in November 2002.

The APC has announced that it will take other steps to turn up the heat on this issue, such as protests in city council


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CLC condemns Tory funding

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

With a call to restore funding being taken away from the most marginalized workers, the Canadian Labour Congress has criticized the budget cuts announced on September 25 by the Harper government.

Speaking on Oct. 17 to a House of Commons committee, CLC executive vice-president Barbara Byers noted that most of the burden of the funding cuts to the Human Resources and Social Development Canada Department will fall on lower-skilled workers, women, underemployed workers with training credentials from other countries, Aboriginal workers and workers with disabilities.

"Imposing a crushing silence on Canadians who are not yet able to exercise their full citizenship and pushing them into poverty are the first two things these budget cuts will achieve," Byers warned.

Byers' presentation focussed on skills training, literacy and status of women. She concluded with a condemnation of "the new government's actions and the callous and exclusionary decision-making process that it has used to slash funding for programs that make a difference to all Canadians."

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Wal-Mart must pay for extra work

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

The world's largest retailer has been ordered to pay at least $78 million in compensation to workers who were forced to work during breaks. A jury in a Pennsylvania court has decided that Wal-Mart broke a state law by refusing to pay staff for extra work. The company said it intends to appeal the decision.

The class action was brought about by about 187,000 staff who worked for Wal-Mart between March 1997 and May 2006. The former employee who headed the case, Dolores Hummel, who worked at a branch of Wal-Mart owned wholesaler Sam's Club for 10 years, said she regularly had to work during breaks and after closing time because of work demands. She estimated she worked between eight and 12 hours unpaid each month.

In the lawsuit, she said: "One of Wal-Mart's undisclosed secrets for its profitability is its creation and implementation of a stystem that encourages off-the-clock work for its hourly employees." She acted to show "how we were treated working at Wal-Mart - working off the clock and not getting paid".

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Michael Donovan, said he would seek an extra $62 million in damages because the jury had found that Wal-Mart acted in bad faith. The jury found that the retailer had not denied the staff their meal breaks - but only rest breaks.

In December, a California court ruled Wal-Mart must pay $172 million in compensation to 116,000 employees who had been denied meal breaks.

(from BBC News)

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Nepal trade unions condemn Maoist attacks

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

The General Federation of Nepal Trade Unions (GEFONT) and two other trade union centres, NTUC and DECONT, have condemned attacks by Maoists against GEFONT leaders and activists.
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In one case, Bidur Karki, the General Secretary of the Independent Transport Workers Association of Nepal (ITWAN) was attacked and seriously injured by nearly 90 Maoist cadres while he was engaged in the regular dues collection work of the Kathmandu Dundhara Unit committee of the union, a GEFONT affiliate. A joint news release from the unions lists other leaders kidnapped and injured recently, including Deepak Poudel, Naran Nath Luintel, Thakur Shrestha, Balgopal Thapa, Kripa Karki, Sunita Bidhathoki, Gayatri Niroula, Rameshwar Dhungana, Khem Dahal, and Govinda Magar. in some cases, money and other belongings were also taken.

The press release states "We three trade union centres warn Maoists not to continue such undemocratic acts in the present transitional phase, where the country is heading towards a democratic republic through the route of Constituent Assembly."

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Violence against women affects millions

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

From Agence France-Presse

Violence against women is "severe and pervasive" worldwide with one in three women subjected to intimate partner abuse during her lifetime, according to a UN report released on October 11.

"There is compelling evidence that violence against women is severe and pervasive throughout the world," said UN chief Kofi Annan's report, titled "ending Violence Against Women: from words to Action."

The study cited surveys on violence against women conducted in at least 71 countries showing "a significant proportion of women suffer physical, sexual or psychological violence ... On average, at least one in three women is subjected to intimate partner violence in the course of her lifetime.'

A World Health Organization study in 11 countries found that the percentage of women subjected to sexual violence by an intimate partner ranged between six percent in Japan and Serbia and Montenegro, and 59 percent in Ethiopia.

Murders of women often involve sexual violence, with between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims killed by husbands or boy friends in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and and the United States.

The report noted that more than 130 million girls are victims of female genital mutilation in Africa and some Middle Eastern countries, but also in immigrant communities in Europe, North America and Australia.

Female infanticide, prenatal sex selection and systematic neglect of girls were said to be widespread in South Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

The study also highlighted the fact that women experience sexual harassment throughout their lives, with between 40 and 50 percent of women in the European Union reporting some form of sexual harassment.

"The majority of the hundreds of thousands of women trafficked each year are women and children and many are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation," it added.

It also focused on the phenomenon, including sexual violence, in armed conflicts, noting that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda while between 20,000 and 50,000 suffered the same fate during the conflict in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

In Europe, North America and Australia, more than half of women with disabilities have experienced physical abuse, compared with one third of non-disabled women, it said. Women subjected to violence were more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and to report sexual dysfunction, suicide attempts, post-traumantic stress and central nervous system disorders.

The report concluded that despite progress in recent decades, "violence against women has not yet received the priority required to enable significant change... A more cohesive and strategic approach is needed from all actors, including governments, the international community and civil society."  

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Website for Women's Equality

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2006 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 173 West Ave. North, Hamilton, ON, L8L 5C7.)

A new website has been launched to rally support for Status of Women Canada (SWC) and related issues. Statusreport.ca will house objective information about the federal agency, along with tools and  motivation for people to lobby the federal government to revisit changes made to the agency's funding and objectives.

In addition to protecting Status of Women, progressives are fighting for the very notion of women's equality among non-activists as much as activists, voters, and even journalists.

So check out statusreport.ca, and link to it from your organization's website or personal blog, and get involved.

http://www.statusreport.ca

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