November 1-15, 2007
Volume 15 - Number 18

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

Print Friendly Articles
1. The CAW: then and now
2. Afghan Panel a "Stacked Deck"
3. Canadian troops out of Afghanistan now!
4. Throne speech advances far right agenda
5. Delegate walkout highlights struggle within CUPE
6. CUPE settles, but Sullivan battles on
7. Good news.... or bad? (Editorial)
8. Hard truths about Afghanistan (Editorial)
9. Brant may face lengthy prison term
10. Homeless crisis back in the news
11. Ontario MMP vote builds base for future
12. The 90th anniversary of Great October
13. Afghanistan: mission of peace, or barbarism?
14. "Breaking the silence"
15. Venezuela protects indigenous languages

16. What's Left
17. PV Crossword and answers (previous)
16. Podcast of People's Voice Articles

18. Clarté (en français)
19. The Spark! (Theoretical and Discussion Bulletin of the Communist Party of Canada)
20. Introducing Marxism: A Communist Party Study Course
20. Rebel Youth

A calendar for the year 2008, dedicated to the struggles of the international working class for peace and socialism.
Featuring notable dates, short biographical sketches, plus poetry, speeches, and writings by
Che Guevara, Clara Zetkin, Norman Bethune, James Connolly, Emiliano Zapata, Nikos Beloyannis, Dolores Ibarruri, V.I. Lenin, Pablo Neruda, Gladys Marin, Tim Buck, Nazim Hikmet, Ho Chi Minh, and Salvador Allende.

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People's Voice deadlines

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Thursday, November 8
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New issue of Rebel Youth hits the street

The summer 2007 edition of Rebel Youth, magazine of the Young Communist League of Canada, is now on sale.
To order your copy by mail send $3 to YCL c/o 290 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON, M4K 1N6, or c/o 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, B.C., V5L 3J1.

The Spark!

Theoretical and Discussion Bulletin of the Communist Party of Canada

People's Voice finds many "Global Class Struggle" reports at the "Labour Start" website, We urge our readers to check it out!

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The CAW: then and now

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

By Sam Hammond, Chair of the Central Trade Union Commission, Communist Party of Canada

On November 11, 2005, the CAW Auto Parts Conference took place. At this conference the CAW took a traditional tough militant approach to problems and employer concessionary demands in the auto parts industry. The Conference adopted an "Emergency No-Concessions Resolution" which in turn spawned the CAW's "7‑Point Action Plan to Fight Auto Parts Concessions." This was the Canadian response to the push for terrible concessions by Delphi Corporation in the United States, against members of the United Auto Workers whose leadership was bending like a sapling in the wind. A fight back plan by a fighting union.

     In just under two years, the CAW has abandoned the debate, resolutions and determination expressed in the 2005 documents, entering into a union‑corporate deal with Magna that ushers in a plan of union‑corporate control of employees that violates almost every premise of traditional labour ideology and social unionism as expressed in a once proud CAW Constitution.

     In 2006 the CAW had about 37,000 members in the parts industry, employed by twelve corporations, of which the 850 at Magna were in the smallest category. This might have changed since 2006, but not significantly. Why then has the CAW set up what we will demonstrate is a "company union" at Magna which will certainly undercut the wages and conditions of the other 36,000 or so members in the parts industry?

     The CAW leadership has struck a blow against the entire Canadian working class, destroyed the universality of its constitution by creating "different members without the right to strike," wiped out generations of sacrifice and struggle by giving away the right to strike. They are the first large industrial union to negotiate a union‑corporate partnership to control workers, and become a direct agent of management by safeguarding efficiency, productivity and profit levels. The "No Concessions" programs of 2005 are not much more than crumpled paper in CAW President Buzz Hargrove's wastebasket.

     Before we get into the odious particulars of this agreement, it may be fair to observe that it must have taken some time to work out, to negotiate. Did this take place concurrently with the militant roars of defiance and proclamations at the 2005 Conference? Was Buzz already working on a hidden agenda while claiming to defend workers, or was this the inevitable outcome of his weird posturing during his transformation into a Liberal party hack? And what of the other leaders in the CAW? Who the hell is minding the store? Who is guarding the constitution?

     The dirty deed was consummated at one collaborationist stroke called the "Framework of Fairness Agreement" signed by Hargrove and his mentor Frank Stronach of Magna Corporation. This was not done at convention, not voted on after debate. This is a top‑driven sellout that, if unopposed, will undoubtedly complete the metamorphosis from a rank and file to an elitist-led corporate-business model union.

     What is the "Framework of Fairness" and how will it work?

     There will be one CAW‑Magna Local Union with a potential membership of 18,000 workers. Workers at a manufacturing site will vote by secret ballot on a CAW‑Magna Contract that has been worked out by a joint Magna‑CAW committee. Acceptance of the contract and membership in the CAW will be combined. The only way into the union is the acceptance of a union‑corporate deal.

     If the contract‑union entry is accepted, the workers will become part of a Magna‑CAW local. Each plant will have an "Employee Advocate" selected by (read this more than once and try to figure it out) an "indirect process of application, peer group screening, and secret ballot ratification" (only one candidate) rather than direct election. One worker at each plant, no committees, no workers councils, no grievance committee and no stewards.

     The employee advocates from each manufacturing site will form the executive of this giant country‑wide local, and this executive will elect the officers of the union. No direct nominating/elections procedure. No one person, one vote; no other choice; no chance to disagree or express another opinion. The entire plant level, local executive and officer structure will rest squarely on "an indirect process of application, peer group screening and secret ballot ratification."

     Each plant will have a "Fairness Committee" made up of worker and management representatives, with the workers holding a 50% + 1 majority. The worker representatives are selected democratically by secret ballot from shifts and areas of the plant. There will be no standard grievance procedures. Instead, workers will use the "open door" approach to local managers, appeals to the Fairness Committee, contacting a corporate "hotline," and appeals to higher level CAW‑Magna bodies. If this does not resolve the issue, there will be binding arbitration to a neutral mutually selected party.

     Every three years a new contract will be negotiated by the top level labour‑management committee consisting of three company and three union leaders, called the Employee Relations Review Committee. Having equal corporate representation on a non‑elected bargaining committee is a CAW innovation that will be hard to top outside the penal system.

     If the CAW and Magna cannot agree on changes to the national contract, outstanding matters are referred to an arbitrator for final offer selection. There will be no strikes or lockouts, and illegal work stoppages will be dealt with severely. However the Magna workers will be required to pay into the CAW strike fund.

     Wage increments will be negotiated annually (apparently not included in the three year contract) on the basis of a formula that considers changes in broader economic variables (this is even crazier than the indirect application process and peer group screening), consumer prices, and productivity performance on a plant to plant basis. No Magna‑wide wage increases.

     Nowhere in the documents provided on the CAW website, nowhere in the so‑called Framework of Fairness, does it talk about the needs of workers and their families, about work at Magna providing minimum levels of a standard of living. Efficiency, productivity and profits are the cornerstones of this program, not workers' needs. In his haste to re‑invent the wheel, Buzz must have overlooked this minor point.

     The CAW has created an anti‑worker monster and will surely defend it as a new industrial model, one which could eventually become the model for the Canadian auto industry. This means that internally, the powers that be will be looking for a base of support for this transformation amongst the most reactionary elements of the union, the least militant and the corporate sympathizers. This will certainly move the union to the right, turning it into a corporate fifth column in the labour movement.

     If this fiasco is allowed, it will transform the once proud CAW, the union born in the fight against concessionary ideology, the champion of social unionism and the beacon for thousands of restless trade unionists, into a knee‑jerk corporate lap‑dog, a partner in the exploitation of workers. Where are the champions of militant social trade unionism who since the CAW's creation in 1985 have steered it through so many struggles? Where are the proud members who studied their history and their rights at CAW schools at Port Elgin? Where are the principles of partisan representation, where the interests of the members and their rights were paramount? Not least, how about the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines a workers right to withdraw his or her labour, to strike?

     This will be the swan song and the legacy of Buzz Hargrove and the present leadership. This is what happens when a union leader starts draping haberdashery on a corporate personage whose family has a long tradition of union‑busting. People have been wondering for a long time where Hargrove is going. Wonder no more, he's there. The only hope is resistance of CAW members to this monumental sell‑out, this mark of shame and humiliation of a once proud labour union. There must be a recoil amongst the membership,  this must be opposed.

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 Afghan Panel a "Stacked Deck"

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

The Harper government's appointment of a five‑member panel to review Canada's role in Afghanistan is a cynical, transparent ploy designed to cover its intentions to extend Canada's occupation of that country beyond the February 2009 deadline for withdrawal, said Communist Party of Canada in a statement issued Oct. 12.

     "This allegedly `non‑partisan' panel is in fact stacked with corporate cronies, supporters of `deep integration' of Canada into the U.S. empire, and backers of the war‑making agenda of the Bush Republicans", said Communist Party leader Miguel Figueroa. "If Mr. Harper thinks that this sleight‑of‑hand will bury the Afghan war issue during a coming election campaign, then he is sadly mistaken."

     Harper's intention is to bypass Parliamentary debate on this crucial issue, hoping to divert public attention from the deeply unpopular Afghan war during a federal election which could be called within weeks.

     The panel's five members include three prominent Conservatives, one Liberal, and a former media host who was launched on a new career by the Liberals. Nor is it remotely representative of Canadian society, since its members are all intimately involved with the transnational and domestic corporations that control the levers of power. None of the panel members have any particular expertise or knowledge of the situation in Afghanistan, or the broader Central Asian region, but all are known to support Canada's role as an ally of Washington's military and strategic global agenda.

     "Anyone who thinks this panel will do anything other than the bidding of Prime Minister Harper is in deep denial," Figueroa added. "We guarantee that their report will call for extending the military mission as a necessary part of `rebuilding' civil society in Afghanistan. But after six years of this tragic blunder, there has been no real progress towards this alleged goal.

     "The real aim of the imperialist war and occupation in Afghanistan is to maintain a strong military presence by the U.S. in a region which contains critical energy resources. Canadians should treat the activities of this sham panel with complete contempt. The only honourable course for Canada is to pull the troops out now, before any more unnecessary and tragic deaths."

     The individual members of the panel include:

     John Manley, Foreign Affairs minister and then Deputy PM when Jean Chretien's Liberal government sent the first Canadian troops to Afghanistan six years ago, a decision which has so far cost the lives of 71 Canadians and many thousands more Afghans. Manley was celebrated for building closer ties with the White House as the US moved towards the illegal war of aggression against Iraq. Since leaving Parliament, he has been named to the boards of Nortel Networks and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Even more telling, he chairs the Task Force on the Future of North America, a project of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, which advocates a North American union, i.e. full integration into the United States.

     Jake Epp is a former long‑time Conservative MP from Manitoba, and a well‑known opponent of social equality rights. He later held senior executive positions at TransCanada Pipelines, and is a prominent advocate of expanding nuclear power.

     Derek Burney served as Chief of Staff to Brian Mulroney, and was directly involved in the negotiations on the Canada‑US Free Trade Agreement, which has deeply undermined Canadian sovereignty. He was then appointed Canadian ambassador to the U.S. during George Bush Sr.'s administration. Since then he has been a top executive at Bell Canada, CAE Inc., CanWest Global Communications (the media empire which relentlessly backs the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine), Quebecor World, Shell Canada, and New Brunswick Power.

     Pamela Wallin is best known as the former television host. But in 2001, along with Manley, she was one of the organizers of the "Canada Loves New York" rally, before being appointed as Canada's Consul General in New York City. She is the senior advisor on Canada‑US relations to the President of the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas. She serves on several corporate boards, including CTVglobemedia (with ownership in CTV and The Globe and Mail) and Oilsands Quest, an energy development company

     Paul Tellier was Clerk of the Privy Council during the Mulroney era. He was then appointed CEO of Canadian National Railway, where he led the privatization of the company and its transformation into a continent‑wide operation. He then became president and CEO of Bombardier, another major Canadian corporation, which is involved in military production as well as transportation. He also serves on the Bell Canada board.

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 Canadian troops out of Afghanistan now!

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

Statement for the Oct. 27 day of anti-war actions, from the Communist Party of Canada

Hearing only the wish of his master in the White House, P.M. Stephen Harper wants Canadian troops to stay in Afghanistan for another four years. He is deaf to the majority of Canadians who want the troops out of Afghanistan now!

     Harper is turning Canada into a thug for U.S. imperialism. Harper is not acting for the people or for Canada's sovereignty. His only loyalty is to the giant U.S. oil, arms and finance corporations, loyalty bought by generous donations to the Conservative Party.

     Afghanistan is a burning issue, a reason for the peoples' movements - peace, labour, women, youth and students - to unite and protest for the immediate return of our troops. The Oct. 27 day of action shows that Canadians want no part of the unjust and illegal occupation.

     Defeating Harper in Parliament on Afghanistan would help greatly to block the election of a Harper majority government, if the opposition parties would cooperate on the issue. What is most important and urgent is building the anti‑occupation movement outside of Parliament, in coalitions and on the streets.

     A Harper majority government would be a great calamity for Afghanistan, Canada, world peace and the environment.

Why is Canada in Afghanistan?

     For six years Canadian troops have helped the U.S. occupy Afghanistan. We are not making life better for Afghans. We are not bringing democracy and light. No great work can pay for the sorrow and death we have placed on the Afghan people.

     Canada is helping to impose the West's iron heel on the sovereignty of Afghanistan. We are mercenaries for U.S., Canadian and other corporations whose aim is to loot the country's rich resources.

     The Afghan government was "elected" by people with NATO machine guns pointed at their backs. We are treading on the dignity of the country's people, by propping up a government of feudal mullahs, drug lords and war criminals. Everything we do there as uninvited guests will inflame the resistance.

     Canadians should never believe that Harper wants the same reforms as those actually carried out starting in 1978 by the revolutionary government of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, reforms that were drowned in blood by U.S. imperialism in 1992 when its henchmen overthrew the PDPA government. Afghanistan today is a tragic example of what happens when U.S. imperialism prevails.

Who benefits from the "War on Terror"?

     George Bush's "war on terror" is a sham. Terrorism will never be defeated by military means. The U.S. is carrying out this racist "war on terror" to achieve global hegemony. It is a declaration of war against any resistance to the domination of U.S. transnational corporations. In its own words, the official military doctrine of the U.S. declares this aim.

     Bush arrogantly accuses other nations of threatening peace, but the U.S. has the worst record of aggressions and occupations of any country today. It has the most dangerous military doctrines and preparations, such as weaponizing space, and asserting its "rights" to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict and to carry out "preventive" wars. U.S. military spending is more than ten times that of China, the next largest military spender in the world.

     The U.S. is trampling on international laws that prevent war and protect the sovereignty of nations. Enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, these laws are the greatest democratic legacy of the Second World War, the tragic war against fascist imperialism that cost fifty million lives.

     That is why Bush's charge that Iran is "risking World War III" is utterly dishonest. With no evidence, Bush is accusing Iran of threatening peace for allegedly developing nuclear weapons. It is Bush who is striving to attack Iran.

     U.S. imperialism is the most terrible threat to world peace since the Second World War.

     Against the rising global resistance to U.S. hegemony, Bush is replying with dangerous military preparations and aggressions. Bush is defying world opinion and the views of the U.S. people, including the demand to end the occupation of Iraq.

     The large U.S. capitalists who own the transnational corporations are reaping super-profits from the war, especially military and oil companies. The war is impoverishing the majority of U.S. people, who do not have enough to meet their own needs.

The fascist danger of permanent war

     The stakes could not be higher if the U.S. continues to spread the bonfire of war. Millions of lives would be lost, but democracy and civil rights will go also. Already they are quickly eroding. Torture and disappearances are approved at the highest levels, including in Canada. If the war escalates further, as the U.S. seems to intend, fascist rule cannot be ruled out.

     A U.S. war on Iran would plunge the U.S. into a terrible nightmare, a conflict that would consume the U.S. and its allies like Canada.

For an independent Canadian policy of peace, defeat Harper

     Harper has an expensive plan to defend Canada's Arctic by military might, which is the only way he can conceive a strong Canada. But Canada's strength is the people who are demanding peace, better social programs and action on the environment. Harper will never truly defend Canada.

     Instead of listening to Canadians, Harper is doubling the size of the military budget to help the U.S. war machine. He is allowing the takeover of Canada's resources by U.S. corporations in every deal he promotes.

     The Tory government is defying public opinion on a number of important issues, like Afghanistan, the racist treatment of Aboriginal peoples, and the need to act against global warming, for child care and for better wages.

     It is time to defeat Harper and elect a government that will adopt a foreign policy of peace and disarmament. Humanity cannot progress without such a policy.

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 Throne speech advances far right agenda

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

PV Commentary

Far from being a "moderate" policy statement, the Oct. 16 Throne Speech revealed the determination of Stephen Harper's Conservatives to drive full speed ahead with their far-right agenda. The Speech calls for extending Canada's role in the US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan, and for wide-ranging "law and order" legislation attacking civil and democratic rights. It also confirms the Tory push to scrap any real reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and seeks to remove any ability of the federal government to initiate and expand important social programs. In short, this is a blueprint for advancing Harper's goal of militarising the Canadian state, and removing "social redistribution" functions achieved through generations of working class struggles.

     The Throne Speech throws down the Tory gauntlet to the majority of Canadians who oppose extending the Afghanistan war. Harper's plan is to call a parliamentary vote on extending Canada's combat mission until 2011, spinning this as a "humanitarian" effort. As anti-war groups have warned, Harper hopes to divide the Liberals in Parliament. He used the same tactic in 2006, holding a sudden vote to extend the mission until 2009, winning the support of Liberal MPs such as Michael Ignatieff. The other side of this strategy is Harper's appointment of a stacked five-member panel on Canada's role in Afghanistan, led by right-wing former Liberal MP John Manley. At a conference last year, Manley openly stated that "the most important obligation of the Canadian Prime Minister" is to improve relations with George Bush.

     Nor was the government telling the truth in the Throne Speech when it claimed to have delivered on child care. As Morna Ballantyne of Code Blue for Child Care said, "Any parent knows that a $100 monthly voucher doesn't create child care and without child care there is no choice. Harper's claim is particularly misleading given that the Tories have not delivered a single one of the 125,000 child care spaces they promised."

     Ballantyne warned that the Tories intend to strip government of the legislative and financial levers to protect and expand social programs. "Redirected to child care, the proposed 1% cut to the GST would provide every child in Canada between 3 and 6 with a full time child care space," she said.

     Harper's plan to limit federal spending is nothing new. Hostility to social programs was a key part of his efforts as head of the National Citizen's Coalition, and one of his first acts as Prime Minister was to cancel the child care plan negotiated with the provinces. The Tories aim is to remove the Constitutional mechanism of federal spending power which allowed Parliament to launch Medicare, and the initial steps towards a pan‑Canadian child care program.

     The Tories are misusing Quebecers' desire to control their own social institutions to cover their actions, said Jody Dallaire, Chairperson of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada. "But Parliament has all the practical tools it requires to both protect and expand social programs while respecting Quebec's distinct status."

     For example, Bill 303, The Early Learning and Child Care Act, scheduled before Parliament this session, places conditions on provinces and territories that receive federal funding for child care, while also explicitly recognizing Quebec's right to set its own standards.

     Environmentalists slammed the Throne Speech for blocking real action on climate change.

     "By abandoning Kyoto commitments, expanding the tar sands, and failing to take any real action to prevent global warming, Canada is acting more like a rogue state than a bridge‑builder," said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema. "Science‑based emissions targets have been discarded, and environmental standards undermined as the government expedites the process to approve new projects. It's clear that the tar sands are a bigger priority for this government than the world's climate crisis."

     The Alberta tar sands projects are a particular problem for global warming as Canada's fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. While producing a million barrels of oil per day, the projects emit 40 million tonnes of CO2 per year, and this number is expected to double by 2012. Without limiting growth in the tar sands it will be impossible for the Canadian government to make serious emissions reductions.

     Bill C-2, the so-called "law and order" legislation outlined by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson in the wake of the Throne Speech, includes elements of several bills that failed to win majority support in the previous session of Parliament.

     C-2 includes a Canadian version of the "three strikes" laws in the United States, by imposing indefinite sentences on people convicted of violent or sexual crimes three times or more.

     The bill would raise the age of consent to 16 from 14 years old, a move which youth rights advocates say will criminalise many teenagers who engage in mutually consenting sexual activity.

     The bill would set high mandatory sentences for gun crimes, but anti-violence campaigners note that the Conservatives have done nothing to help prevent violence against women, the most frequent victims of spousal abuse. Drastic Tory cuts to funding for women's centres and organizations have already wiped out a critical line of defence and help for Canadian women.

     Over 2,000 people at an Oct. 17 rally in Toronto to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty heard speakers slam Harper for planning to cut taxes rather than invest in public services that help achieve social justice.

     "Mr. Harper, you cannot turn your back on kids ... you cannot turn your back on social progress in our country," said Paul Moist, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. "We don't want your tax cuts."

     Aboriginal issues were ignored in the Throne Speech, even though one in four aboriginal children live in poverty, more than 100 communities are required to boil their water before drinking, and many other First Nations people are homeless or living in substandard housing. Joanne Webb, a member of CUPE's aboriginal council, told the Toronto rally that First Nations poverty will cost Canada $11 billion a year by 2016. Harper's cancellation of the 2005 Kelowna Accord, in which Ottawa committed to spend $5 billion on First Nations, was a "major setback to improving the lives of aboriginal people," she said.

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 Delegate walkout highlights struggle within CUPE

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

Special to People's Voice

The most exciting part of the CUPE National Convention, held Oct. 15-19 in Toronto, was supposed to be the debate on recommendations of the National Women's Task Force. On Oct. 17, a structural change recommendation to add seats for women to CUPE's National Executive Board (NEB) was defeated, leaving many women and their allies amongst left‑centre forces deflated. Adding to the dismal tone were a Strategic Directions document that contained little demand for action, and resolutions which lay the foundation for action coming to the convention floor without concurrence from the resolutions committee.

     But the most dramatic moment came on the afternoon of October 18, with the walkout of Ontario delegates. The trigger was Resolution 333, which proposed that locals without the legal right to strike (predominantly hospital/healthcare workers) be permitted to access the Strike Fund for strike aversion purposes.

     Submitted by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), the resolution stated that in 1999, Sisters Judy Darcy and Geraldine McGuire (President and Treasurer) committed that workers without the legal right to strike would continue to have access to funds for strike aversion in advance of a potential illegal strike aimed at affecting government policy. Since this commitment was made, the NEB has revised the Strike Fund Regulations. Strike aversion funding is now only available for disputes against employers, where locals have gone through conciliation, and not therefore for political strikes.

     OCHU raises the possibility that the newly re‑elected McGuinty government will ramp up their campaign to restructure Ontario health care, much the same way as BC's Gordon Campbell tore up the collective agreements of Hospital Employees Union (HEU) in 2002. The new Strike Fund Regulations mean that OCHU, and other locals without the legal right to strike, will not be able to access the Strike Fund to build strong campaigns to fight legislative attacks on their collective bargaining rights.

     While all CUPE locals must pay into the strike fund, many will not be able to access these funds - a fundamental unfairness addressed by the Darcy/McGuire commitment in 1999.

     Two excellent examples of the benefits of accessing the Strike Fund for political strikes occurred in BC. First, when Campbell came after HEU collective agreements, HEU and other BC CUPE locals who walked out in support were able to access the Strike Fund. Two years ago, when teachers went on strike, BC was given $2 million to support CUPE members who walked out in support of the teachers.

     Resolution 333 came to the convention floor with a recommendation of non‑concurrence. Those who spoke at the pro mikes, in favour of the Resolutions Committee recommendation, were Secretary‑Treasurer Claude Genereux followed by a handful of NEB members. The con mikes had long line‑ups, all from Ontario. When the vote was taken, Ontario was the only region to vote against the non-concurrence recommendation.

     Several OCHU local members immediately asked if they could go somewhere to "have a conversation" about what just happened. Initially, there was some confusion, but as OCHU members left the floor, most other delegates from Ontario followed. The "conversation" took place in a large meeting room used by the Ontario caucus throughout the Convention. With few Ontario locals left on the floor, quorum was lost.

     Ontario delegates heard OCHU President Michael Hurley's explanation of the history of the Strike Fund Regulations. Many delegates were not fully aware of the political implications of Resolution 333. The final resolve of the afternoon meeting was to meet again at 8:45 am to decide on a plan of action. The Ontario Division Executive Board and the Executive of OCHU planned to meet beforehand to discuss a recommendation to put to the membership.

     The delegates overwhelmingly supported the move to go back into the convention together, to ask Ontario President Sid Ryan to deliver a strong message to the Convention from Ontario, and to walk back out and reconvene in the Caucus room for more discussion. Coming back onto the convention floor disrupted a confused Jack Layton, who was taken aback by the huge cheer that went up when he mentioned Ontario.

     Visibly shaken by Ryan's impending speech, CUPE President Paul Moist used his position of chair to make a lengthy introduction before recognizing Ryan.

     Ryan's intervention addressed the unfairness of the new Strike Fund regulations. But his remarks also encompassed the frustration of many delegates.

     Situating the struggle within CUPE, Ryan said, "We need to ask ourselves, just what kind of union do we want? Do we want a union that is inclusive? Do we want a union that fights against unfairness and for social justice?"

     CUPE Ontario brought a fighting program to the convention, under a campaign for An Agenda for Change. The main components of this Agenda include building a representative union, developing a more inclusive union and encouraging a more militant organizing culture. Every single resolution sent in by Ontario to address its Agenda for Change met with a recommendation of non‑concurrence.

     Clearly, Ontario leadership and the Ontario delegates are fighting for social unionism. Even more clearly, the national leadership is defending its right to take the union down another road. Pointing to this contrast, Hurley asked Ontario delegates, "Do you remember the militant years of Judy Darcy, when CUPE was a fighting union?"

     At the end of the day, little was accomplished at this convention. Few resolutions were debated, even fewer agreed to by the floor. The Strategic Directions paper containing few action items did not get debated after a paltry few suggestions were included in the final draft. The Women's Task Force recommendation on structural change was defeated. Women's voices are still marginalized within CUPE.

     The next steps taken by this divided union will be crucial. Will CUPE reinvest in building social unionism, or follow others down the road of institutionalizing a business model to union governance?

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 CUPE settles, but Sullivan battles on

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

By Kimball Cariou, Vancouver

Vancouver's marathon civic and library workers strikes are over, but Mayor Sam Sullivan has vowed to continue his anti-labour campaign into the next municipal election.

     The strikes by the city's three large CUPE locals began in July, carrying on long after other municipalities in the region reached settlements with their employees. Negotiators for the city stubbornly refused to give way on such issues as pay equity for library workers, contracting-out, and "whistle-blower" protection. Sullivan fanned the flames early in the strike, sending a clear signal to the city's negotiators that his right-wing NPA majority on city council would not accept agreements similar to those signed by other municipalities.

     As "Sam's strike" dragged on, Sullivan was increasingly seen as a major stumbling block to any fair resolution of the dispute. The logjam was finally broken by the appointment of mediator Brian Foley, whose recommendations were accepted, first by the inside workers (CUPE Local 15), and then after some "tweaking", by outside workers (Local 1004). The last to settle were the 800 library workers (Local 391), whose courageous first-ever strike was marked by a militant and creative approach to winning public support.

     Sullivan's response was an ominous warning that the strike would not really be settled until the November 2008 civic election, which he told the media would be a vote between himself and a "CUPE candidate." On the face of it, this was dismissed by some observers as unnecessary blustering, since it appears highly unlikely that the NPA's rivals will campaign solely on this issue.

     But Sullivan's real sub-text is that the big business forces which have backed the NPA for seventy years will not tolerate a significant challenge by any candidate who does not give full support to their agenda: lower business taxes, a free hand for developers, more attacks on labour and anti-poverty groups, and unlimited spending of taxpayer's dollars on preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics hosted by Vancouver and Whistler.

     Unfortunately, there is little sign of progress towards a united opposition slate in the 2008 election. Several names have been floated as potential mayoralty candidates, but there is still no unified approach by the centrist VISION group and the left-labour Coalition of Progressive Electors. And a wild card was thrown onto the table recently, when popular environmental crusader Betty Krawczyk used a rally celebrating her release from a six-month prison term to announce that she will run for mayor. This was no doubt the best news Sullivan has heard in some time, since Krawczyk could easily win five to ten thousand votes, enough to guarantee the NPA yet another term in the mayor's office.

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 Good news.... or bad? (Editorial)

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

People's Voice Editorial, Nov. 1-15, 2007

Beset with internal strife, Stephane Dion's Liberals decided not to bring down the Harper government during the October Throne Speech debates. Many Canadians heaved a sigh of relief that the country will probably not be plunged into an early winter federal election, the third campaign in three years.

     But it's hard to rejoice about several more months of Conservative government in Ottawa. Despite their minority status in Parliament and the lack of any popular mandate, Harper is pushing ahead with his dangerous, far-right agenda. Nobody should be fooled when the corporate media regurgitates the tired lie that the Tories have learned to be moderate and mainstream.

     The Throne Speech left no room for doubt. Harper and Co. are determined to lock us into at least four more years of war in Afghanistan. They have gutted Canada's commitment to serious reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. They aim to remove any federal role in new social programs. Their "law and order" bill is a fresh assault on our legal and civil rights. They keep pressing "deep integration" with the United States.

     As long as the opposition parties fail to bring down the government, this aggressive agenda will move ahead. PM Harper will keep bullying Parliament and the Canadian people, heedless of angry speeches in the Commons. Meanwhile, the partisan NDP tactic of continuing to aim most of their fire at the Liberals will unfortunately help Harper get off the hook for his unpopular policies.

     The way out of this impasse is to mobilize Canadians to drive out the Tories. Building a powerful, united resistance movement right now can ensure that the election - whenever it comes - will be fought on the crucial issues of jobs, Medicare and other social programs, the environment, war and peace, and Canadian sovereignty. This is the best guarantee that the outcome will be a defeat for the Tory agenda.

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 Hard truths about Afghanistan (Editorial)

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

People's Voice Editorial, Nov. 1-15, 2007

The recent so-called "opinion survey" conducted by Environics in Afghanistan is a futile P.R. gimmick, no doubt cooked up by the Harper Tories and the military brass. Given the repeated attempts to manipulate public opinion in Canada regarding the war, the reliability of this exercise is dubious, at best.

     It's time for a reality check. As a security analyst who has worked in and out of Afghanistan for decades told The Australian newspaper, "This place is going down fast, which is something the international community simply will not understand."

     The Taliban insurgency is gaining strength, fuelled by resentment at NATO bombing of civilians, government corruption, billions of dollars of wasted aid, a lack of jobs and record crops of opium, the raw material for heroin. The fighting is spreading to places once relatively safe, including Kabul and the western and northern regions. In Kabul, where suicide bombs have killed dozens in recent weeks, foreigners are increasingly ordered into "lockdown" mode in their heavily protected compounds.

     The Associated Press reports that insurgency‑related deaths this year have passed the 5,000 mark, including 650 civilians, many killed in air strikes called in to support NATO ground troops. Officially, unemployment is near 40 per cent. Millions live with no running water, sewers or electricity. Kabul is crammed with tens of thousands of squatters camped in mud brick huts (no doubt passing the hours chatting with pollsters from Environics), and middle-class residents are lucky to have power a few hours a day.

     Canada has now wasted $5 billion on the disastrous military mission in Afghanistan. It's time to shut it down and direct that money towards genuine aid and development projects controlled by grassroots organizations.

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 Brant may face lengthy prison term

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

On October 12, Mohawk spokesperson Shawn Brant of Tyendinaga appeared in court to finalize the details of his
impending trial. Released on bail after spending two months in pre‑trial custody, Brant faces nine charges in relation to two blockades, one in April 2007, and the other during the Aboriginal National Day of Action on June 29, 2007. Included in these are six "mischief" charges, which the Crown has elected to proceed on by indictment.

     The Ottawa‑based Crown, Robert Morrison, indicated that he intends to seek a minimum of 2 years imprisonment per charge, for a minimum sentence of 12 years in a federal penitentiary.

     Until the trial, Brant will continue to live under bail conditions that include a curfew, inability to leave the province of Ontario, and a ban from attending any protest of any kind.

     Meanwhile, the reclamation of the quarry and the fight for the return of the Culbertson Tract to Mohawks of Tyendinaga - the land that lies at the heart of the recent blockades and actions - continues to hold strong. Dozens of trailers and families are living fulltime on the quarry land, making preparations for the winter.

     A statement from the Tyendinaga Support Committee says that "The severity of the prison time being sought by the Crown indicates the punishment the Canadian state is prepared to inflict on First Nations people who struggle for their land and their

communities. Clearly, the gravity of this possible sentence is proof that Shawn is being singled out, in an effort by the colonial authorities to crush First Nations' resistance. The community of Tyendinaga has, through working to re‑establish a longhouse, self-governance, and economic self‑sufficiency, long been a thorn in the side of the Canadian state, and its project of oppression and genocide of First Nations peoples.

     "Asking for twelve years prison time is not about the blockades of this summer. It is about sending a loud message to First Nations people who are not interested in submitting to the exploitation of their lands and resources, nor the continued denigration and suffering of their communities."

     The Tyendinaga Support Committee is appealing for supporters to send letters to the Attorney General of Ontario, the Minister of Indian Affairs, and the Head Office of CN Rail, to call for the following: drop the charges against Shawn Brant; CN Rail to abandon its multi‑million dollar lawsuits against Shawn Brant; Jason Maracle, and Tara Green; the return of all lands that rightfully belong to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte; a commitment to negotiate land claims issues in good faith; and a "meaningful dialogue to end the exploitation of First Nation lands and resources." (For more information, see

     The prosecution position has been condemned in a statement by the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Canada. The CEC says, "The legal attack against Shawn Brant is an escalation of state repression against Aboriginal peoples who use militant tactics in the struggle to recover their stolen lands. The strategy of jailing indigenous activists is part and parcel of the Tories so-called `law and order' agenda, designed to crush democratic opposition to their neoliberal policies. This tactic amounts to a declaration of war against Aboriginal peoples. Instead, the federal and Ontario governments must be compelled to drop all charges against Shawn Brant, and enter into serious negotiations for swift, fair and just settlement of this and other disputes."

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 Homeless crisis back in the news

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

By Kimball Cariou, Vancouver

Vancouver's housing nightmare was back in the news during October. Just a few days after police arrested six people for the "crime" of occupying an empty building, the United Nations envoy on homelessness urged the city to use the 2010 Olympics to build more affordable housing.

     The Anti-Poverty Committee, which has taken a series of militant actions to focus attention on the crisis, planned to use an Oct. 14 rally to march to a new building occupation in the Downtown Eastside. But around 3 am that morning, police arrested the occupants shortly after they began their takeover. APC activists reported that many abandoned buildings in the area had been guarded by police and private security forces that night. The APC rally turned into a demonstration at the police station to demand the release of the six squatters.

     On a short trip to Vancouver later that week, Miloon Kothari, the UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, heard the stories of the homeless at a public forum and then toured the Downtown Eastside.

     "As for the Olympics, I see these large projects as a tremendous opportunity to improve housing conditions and, if even a small percentage of the billions of dollars in Vancouver real estate was spent on affordable housing, some urgent problems could be solved," Kothari told The Province newspaper in an interview.

     Last year, the United Nations declared that homelessness in Canada "is a national emergency." Kothari also went to Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto during his tour.

     "What I have seen and heard so far in Vancouver has convinced me that this dire state of homelessness in the face of so much wealth indicates that this is still a serious issue that needs continued monitoring by the UN," he said.

     Kothari visited a tent city at 950 Main St., where a group called Streams for Justice has set up tents and cooking facilities for homeless people seeking shelter from the rain.

     After initially threatening to evict the tent city residents on Oct. 16, police were restrained by legal action. David Eby, a lawyer for the Pivot Legal Society, is arguing in B.C. Supreme Court that the Charter rights of homeless people are violated by laws against sleeping in public places.

     Housing advocates estimate that the number of homeless people in Vancouver could surpass 3,500 by 2010, when the Winter Olympics comes to town. The province and the Olympics organizing committee have pledged that 3,200 housing units will be built by that time, but there is little sign of action on this promise. There are at least a dozen city-owned sites slated for social housing where nothing is being built.

     Meanwhile, the provincial government ended its latest fiscal year with a $4.1 billion surplus. Premier Gordon Campbell recently announced $41 million for housing, but even this drop in the bucket will be directed only for temporary shelters and other half-measures, rather than new social housing.

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 Ontario MMP vote builds base for future

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

By Liz Rowley, leader of the Communist Party (Ontario)

John Tory's right‑wing platform went down to defeat October 10th. Ontario voters used their common sense to reject a platform crafted by the Big Grey Machine which launched Brian Mulroney and the neoliberal agenda of free trade, privatization, deregulation, corporate tax cuts, and the assault on labour, democratic and civil rights in Canada.

     The next issue of People's Voice will examine the Ontario election. For now, one aspect of the campaign closely watched across the country was the referendum on the proposed Mixed-Member Proportional Representation system (MMP).

     Support for this democratic electoral reform fell far short of the 60% yes vote required to pass. At 37% across the province, it didn't make 50% either. The main reason was public ignorance: most voters didn't know there was a referendum, and had no idea what either MMP or First Past the Post were.

     Given the job of informing the public, Elections Ontario failed miserably. Literature was not put out until after the writs were issued in September, leaving little time for consideration. Further, the message was not about the pros and cons of the two systems. All the provincial funding went into the publishing and distribution of a leaflet telling voters to inform themselves, with nothing provided for the YES campaign. Of course the "NO" campaign was very well funded - just how generously the public will find out next summer, long after the dust has settled.

     The YES campaign had little more than $100,000, all of it raised from individuals and some trade unions, and a small donation from the CPC (Ontario), to fight a province‑wide campaign that spanned three summer months and the election campaign. There had never been a broad public debate on proportional representation and most voters were uninformed. In September, a vast campaign of disinformation began, led by luminaries like former Liberal MP Sheila Copps, who at one point made the incredible claim that changing the voting system was like changing a trade union constitution, and should require at least a 60% yes vote to pass (and maybe higher).

     The main attack was on the list MPPs, who would not be elected, but appointed by party insiders, according to the NO campaign.

     In fact, the list candidates (including those elected as MPPs), like the candidates nominated in geographic ridings, would all have to be legally nominated by the leaders of each party. The difference is that each party would be required by law to inform Elections Ontario (and the public) of the process used to nominate the list candidates. Parties would not be required to make public how their candidates nominated in ridings were selected, though these are often determined by how deep the pockets of the candidate and supporters are (or by appointment). They're not usually determined "democratically", let alone transparently.

     Another argument was that list candidates would not be accountable, since they had no riding or constituency. The fact that list MPPs would set up office in the areas where they received the highest vote, as experience in other countries with MMP showed, had little effect.

     The NO campaign had the resources to get their message across, and a strategy to throw as much crud at MMP as possible, with the expectation that some of it would stick. Meanwhile the YES side did not have anywhere near the resources needed.

     But from a starting point of near zero, the YES campaign secured a solid base of 37% for future campaigns, which Larry Gordon of Fair Vote Canada says started October 11th.

     Noting that majority governments have been formed with less than 37% of the popular vote under the current undemocratic first‑past‑the‑post system, YES organizers had this to say: "Well, 37% voted for MMP and the press called it a resounding defeat. Only 42% voted for Mr. McGuinty and the press call it a resounding victory. That's first‑past‑the‑post for you...

     "Had the referendum been limited to voters between ages 18 and 34, we would have easily exceeded the threshold... The younger generation is clearly not going to tolerate the antique machinery of a bygone era. Electoral reform is now on the agenda of the nation, and skeptics, such as Professor Nelson Wiseman, concede that the introduction of proportional voting is now just a matter of time."

     In two years, voters in BC will have another referendum on a different version of electoral reform, and a charter challenge to the current first‑past‑the‑post system is in the works. The cat's out of the bag.

     The CPC (Ontario) fought hard to support passage of MMP, despite all the obstacles: the 60% threshold, Regulation 211 which tried to gag political parties from speaking on this issue, and the Referendum Act which effectively smothered public debate on electoral reform. For the Communist Party, our 50‑year demand for PR is finally getting traction. It's a democratic reform long overdue.

     The question now for PR supporters and advocates is to find the shortest path to implementation, and the broadest base of support. The struggle continues.

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 The 90th anniversary of Great October

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

Statement of the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, Oct. 17, 2007

Ninety years ago, the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 gave birth to a new society in which humanity's most advanced dreams of peace, equality and democracy began to become reality. The revolution signalled the opening of the epoch of the transition to socialism, a society which would end exploitation, plunder and war, and construct a whole new kind of social relations, based on cooperation, not competition, on social justice, not social, national or gender inequalities and oppression. Capitalism's unchallenged rule was over.

     The October Revolution was one of the rare, truly liberating social upheavals in human history. It made a sharp break with thousands of years of class divided, exploitative societies, pointing the way for the international working class's liberation from the chains of imperialism, the highest and final stage of capitalism.

     Under the slogan "Peace, Land, Bread" and with the support of the overwhelming majority of the working class and poor peasants, the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was then called) began the long, arduous trek to build such a new "system of civilized cooperators," as the great revolutionary Vladimir Lenin came to describe the essence of socialism.

     The new Soviet government immediately set to work to help birth that society. With his famous "decree on peace", Lenin and the Bolsheviks took Russia out of the First World War, an imperialist slaughter of nations by the leading capitalist countries for the re‑division of wealth and colonial possession they had plundered from the world's peoples. Land rights were transferred to millions of landless and impoverished peasants. All industrial, financial and other capitalist companies were nationalized. Workers were guaranteed employment. Education and health care became universal and free. Nations were guaranteed equality and self‑determination, including political secession. For the first time in history, bold steps towards the emancipation of women were enacted.

     The imperialist countries, including Canada, reacted in horror to the fledgling revolution, and immediately sent armies to crush the young Soviet state while the "baby was still in its cradle". Far weaker than the invading imperialist armies, the Soviet government and peoples nevertheless triumphed, with the support of workers around the world acting under the slogan "Hands off Russia!" Instead, the example of Russia sparked working class struggles and insurrections throughout the Russian empire and around the world.

     The Soviet revolution shook the imperialist world as never before. Yet it stood on the shoulders of more than one hundred years of working class struggles. Millions of workers supported the First and Second Internationals - workers' political parties whose goal was world peace and socialism, in sharp contrast to the imperialist strivings of the leading capitalist countries.

     The Internationals were inspired by the slogan "Workers of all lands, unite!" and by revolutionaries such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels who declared that the working class was the agent of socialist revolution. They were steeled by heavy persecutions throughout the advanced capitalist world. They were educated by the bloody vengeance of the French and Prussian capitalists in 1871 against the heroic but defeated Paris Commune - the world's first working class state.

     Nearly fifty years after the Commune, the October Revolution gave a new impetus, new content, reference points and energy to the world revolutionary movement.

     Great October holds a unique and honoured place in the entire history of the international working class movement because it was the first socialist revolution to achieve and retain political power, to withstand both internal counter-revolution and foreign intervention.

     It dramatically changed world politics for most of the balance of the century, breaking the hegemony of imperialism, and establishing a new and fundamentally different approach to relations between peoples, nations and states.

     It gave a powerful impulse to working people internationally to fight for their class interests, and awakened and gave real momentum and practical support to the anti-colonial and ant--imperialist struggles of peoples everywhere, and to the movement for women's equality everywhere.

     Perhaps most important, the October Revolution showed that socialism could be more than just a good idea. Socialism could become an achievable reality, the working class and its allies could move beyond sporadic resistance to challenge the capitalist system as a whole, and achieve social emancipation. The exploited and oppressed, through conscious and united struggle, could become the real masters of their own destiny.

     It was this truth about the Russian Revolution that rattled the privileged classes, filling them with a fear and hatred of socialism which began from the earliest days of the Soviet state.

     And yet, despite an unremitting campaign of imperialist hostility and subversion, the Soviet Union endured for over seven decades, scoring many great social achievements, overcoming unemployment, illiteracy, and social deprivation. Socialism in the Soviet Union transformed an economically and culturally "backward" country into one of the world's leading powers, and made great advances in culture and science.

     Internationally, the Soviet Union played the decisive role in the defeat of fascism in World War II, championed the cause of decolonization, supported liberation movements throughout the Third World, and provided vital assistance to the newly emergent states. The USSR's peace policy also restricted - though it could not entirely suppress - imperialism's tendency to military aggression.

     Socialism also benefited the working class in the advanced capitalist countries, greatly strengthening the pressure on the ruling classes to grant substantial concessions to working people in the form of labour rights, the 40‑hour work week, unemployment insurance, women's rights, health care, public education, and pensions.

     Ultimately, however, the first workers' state was overturned and capitalism restored, due to a combination of interrelated internal and external circumstances and contradictions which culminated in the temporary victory of counterrevolution.

     The defeat of socialism in the USSR has become a powerful ideological weapon in the hands of monopoly capitalism, which it uses to convince workers and progressive‑minded people that socialism does not work. We categorically reject the bourgeois contention that the causes of the crisis and defeat of socialism in the Soviet Union were rooted in the intrinsic nature of socialism. Rather, that historic setback resulted from distortions and outright departures from Marxist‑Leninist theory and practice, and arose in part from the extremely difficult conditions under which socialism was being built.

     Whatever the failures, mistakes or even gross distortions and departures which occurred during that first great experiment in building a new, higher form of society, these do not detract one iota from the enduring significance of Great October or the historical balance‑sheet which it spawned, a composite record which was overwhelmingly positive, not only for the people of the Soviet Union but indeed for all humanity.

     The misery and impoverishment which have befallen the vast majority of working people in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since the early 1990s is a painful reminder of what happens when counter‑revolution succeeds.

     Everything we see around us today, confirms that it is precisely capitalism itself which is in profound systemic crisis - economic, structural, political, social and environmental. Capitalism is proving in life that it cannot meet the fundamental needs and interests of the people, neither in Canada nor around the world. Rather, the system is increasingly undermining those needs and interests in pursuit of its own internal "logic" - its drive for personal and corporate greed, regardless of the social and environmental cost.

     As capitalism brings humanity ever closer to catastrophe, people are yearning for freedom. Socialism and working class resistance to imperialism are growing around the world, especially in Venezuela, Bolivia and throughout South America. Fresh victories are breathing new life into the international working class, adding to the already powerful example of Cuba's revolution.

     Imperialism is responding with growing reaction, militarism and war. In Canada, the far right‑wing forces are trying to smother the demands for change by workers and their allies. But despite their momentary advantage, the forces of imperialism cannot hold back the force of history, the irresistible power and attraction of socialist ideas, the growth of the international working class, and the striving of the vast majority of humanity for social progress and a better world.

     Nothing can erase the accomplishments of the Russian Revolution. The Communist Party of Canada will celebrate Great October for its great achievements, for its historic lessons and for the unequalled inspiration it has created for the future of humanity - a socialist future.

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 Afghanistan: mission of peace, or barbarism?

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

Message from the Left Radicals of Afghanistan (LRA)

US imperialism and its NATO allies have been justifying their criminal mission and war in Afghanistan as a "peace mission". They expect our people to thank them for their merciful invasion and for making Afghanistan a colonial country with a puppet regime which has no real power or independence.

     On several occasions, Karzai has asked U.S. and NATO to coordinate their military operations with the Afghan army in order to prevent civilian casualties, but no one paid any attention to his requests, even while he cried and wept before his foreign masters!

     The killing of civilians during military operations has become a hobby for our blood‑thirsty occupiers. They offer idiotic excuses for committing such crimes, claiming that they are an "inevitable part" of aerial bombardments. But how can they justify opening fire on civilians following an explosion or a suicide attack?

     There is no "impartial" media to report the heinous crimes of US/NATO and their local regime in the combat zones. In most cases, they hide the real numbers of casualties and the extent of destruction. They shamefully claim that all those killed by their bombardments were Taliban, while though local authorities give contradictory reports, including the number of innocent women and children killed in such attacks. According to both the US/NATO command structures and the Karzai regime, an average of 86 Afghans are killed each day in such operations. It is easy, then, to understand why resistance to the occupation is becoming ever more widespread among our people.

     The real situation is that the anti‑occupation resistance now is not limited to the Taliban. Because of their inhuman policies, barbaric tactics and uncivilized behaviour, our occupiers are digging their own graves. The people of Afghanistan are realizing that all the sweet promises of the imperialist invaders were nothing but a bitter, empty joke and what the Afghan people received instead was more killing, destruction, humiliation, unemployment, instability, corruption, displacement and poverty.

     The supporters of the bloody war in Afghanistan attempt to convince the world's people that only the Taliban oppose the occupation and the Karzai regime. They are trying to hide the growth of anti‑occupation resistance in Afghanistan, in which left forces have been playing a significant role. For instance, in Jalalabad (May 2005) and Kabul (29 May 2006), large anti‑US demonstrations took place. Several of our comrade activists were detained in these actions, and some of them are still under detention, courtesy of Mr. Karzai's "democratic regime". It is a common feature of all imperialist and fascist regimes that in order to legitimize their illegal hold on power, attempt to stamp out their opponents by labelling them as "rebels" and "terrorists" to be persecuted and killed.

     But despite these efforts, the truth about the U.S./NATO "peace mission" in Afghanistan is getting out to world public opinion. We salute the efforts of all peace and progressive forces around the world to help reveal the truth about this so‑called "peace mission", and to bring a speedy end to this chaotic and bloody tragedy in Afghanistan.

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 "Breaking the silence"

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

"Breaking the Silence," a solidarity conference for the Cuban Five, organized jointly by the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC), La Table de Concertation de Solidarité Quebec‑Cuba, and the US National Network on Cuba, will take place November 9‑10 in Toronto. The second annual Solidarity Workshop organized by the Cuban Embassy will follow on Nov. 11, as well as a CNC consultative meeting for member groups.

     A message from the CNC notes that "there will be many opportunities to network with solidarity activists from all over North America, a rare opportunity. The Americans are especially thrilled to be able to meet face‑to‑face with family members of the Five and they will be a very large presence at the conference."

     The updated speakers' list includes: Juan Carranza, Ramsay Clark, James Cockcroft, Paul Copeland, Livio Di Celmo, Soffiyah Elijah, Tim Louis, Judge Claudia Morcom, Elisabeth Palmeiro (wife of Ramon Labanino, one of the Cuban Five), José Pertierra, Isaac Saney, Bill Sloan, Alice Walker, Leonard Weinglass.

     The program will include a press conference on the morning of Friday, Nov. 9; an "activists' forum" on Friday afternoon with participants from Canada, Québec and the United States; a Friday public meeting in the Council Chambers of Toronto City Hall, featuring keynote speaker Leonard Weinglass; lawyers' panel, human rights panel, and intellectuals' panel on Saturday; and a Noche Cubana Saturday evening social, courtesy of the Cuban Consulate.

     The cost of registration is $35‑50 sliding scale ($20 for students and low income). Cheques payable to Canadian Network on Cuba can be mailed to: CNC, c/o S. Skup, 56 Riverwood Terrace, Bolton, ON, M7E 1S4. Further information and online registration are available at the CNC website:

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 Venezuela protects indigenous languages

(The following article is from the November 1-15
, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

A new dictionary, The Languages and Culture of the Yanomami People, compiled by ethno‑linguistic anthropologist Marie Claude Mattei‑Muller, who has studied indigenous languages in Venezuela for 30 years, and Jacinto Serowe, the founder of the Intercultural Bilingual School in Platanal, Alto Orinoco, has been published. About 15,000 Yanomami people live in Venezuela.

     Presenting the dictionary to the United Nations Education and Science Organization, Venezuela's Minister of People's Power and Advanced Education, Luis Acuna Cedeno, explained that the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela offers this to the peoples of the world, through UNESCO, as a demonstration of their  "national concern to safeguard the identity of our aboriginal culture often quartered by the dominant culture."

     Acuna pointed out that the dictionary is an "ongoing collaborative effort between two people with different cultures [which] brought this to realization," demonstrating the Bolivarian Government's application of the Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity, UNESCO 2001. Great care was taken to respect the Yanomami's "privacy and their subtleties, so often constrained by the dominant culture," explained Acuna at the presentation. "This dictionary is recognized as an important contribution to the revitalization and preservation of the Yanomami language thereby enhancing the transmission of traditional values to the present and future generations."

     As part of its efforts to resolve "the immense debt owed to the indigenous peoples of the world," Venezuela has adopted a law for the protection of indigenous languages, created a Ministry of People's Power for Indigenous Peoples, and backs the proposal to develop an international instrument for the protection of indigenous and endangered languages.

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  What's Left

(The following article is from the November 1-15, 2007 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, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)


Celebrate 30 years of Park Board achievement - 11-course banquet with current and past COPE Park Board Commissioners and candidates, 6 pm, Thursday, Nov. 8, tickets $60, contact or 604-255-0400. coalition - next meeting Wed., Nov. 14, 5:30 pm, Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph St. See for updates.

John Graham Benefit Concert -  8 pm, Fri., Nov. 16, Heritage Hall, 3102 Main St., with Tara Holloway, James Diamond, Victoria Buffalo Robe, Andy Mason, Darlene Shaw, Chris Derksen, Seislom & Drummers, Buffalo Shadow Puppets. Tickets $15 at door, for further information see

Teach-in on Afghanistan - Friday, Nov. 2, forum with Malalai Joya; Sat., Nov. 3, 9 am-5 pm, teach-in at SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings, registration $75 ($25 unwaged & students), contact BC Labour Against War, 604-254-0703.

90 Years of Revolution - social and cultural program to mark the October Revolution, 6  pm, Sat., Nov. 10 (note date change), Russian Hall, 600 Campbell Ave., tickets $20/$10  low-income, for info call Communist Party, 604-254-9836.


90 Years of Revolution - event to mark the October Revolution, Ukrainian Labour Temple, 595 Pritchard Ave., Sat., Nov. 10, doors open 5:30 pm, dinner & program 6:30, social/dance at 9 pm. Guest speaker Pierre Fontaine, Quebec labour activist and member of the Central Executive Committee CPC. Tickets $25, $15 low income or under 18, children under 8 free. $7.50 social/dance only after 9 pm. For info call Manitoba Committee CPC, 204-586-7824.

Manitoba-Cuba Solidarity Committee - next meeting Monday, Nov. 12, 7:30 pm, 280 Smith St. Info 783-9380.


Edmonton Young Communist League - meets regularly at Remedy Cafe, 8631-109 St., at 5 pm on the second Friday each month. Check out the discussion readings on Facebook:

90 Years of Revolution - social and cultural program to mark the October Revolution, keynote speaker Jason Mann (editor of Rebel Youth), “red music” with Notre Dame de Bananes choir, People’s Poets, solidarity toast, 7 pm, Sat., Nov. 10, Strathcona Community League upstairs lounge, 10139-87 Ave. Tickets $5, sponsored by Communist Party (Alberta), 465-7893 for info.


Film Night, Solidarity House presents SICKO - Michael Moore’s documentary on health care in Canada, US, France, Britain and Cuba, 7 pm, Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 779 Barton St. East.


Remembering Richard Slye - display of his work, excerpt from documentary film “The Iconoclast”, tributes and music, 6 pm, Thursday, Nov. 8, at Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St.

Breaking the Silence - conference in solidarity with the Cuban Five, Nov. 9-10, organized by Canadian Network on Cuba. See page 9 for details, or check

90 Years of Revolution - event to mark the anniversary of the 1917 Revolution, Sat., Dec. 8, details in next issue.

Breaking the Silence, conference in solidarity with the Cuban Five  -  Nov. 9-10, organized  by Canadian Network on Cuba. See story on this page for details, or check


Vigil against occupation of Palestine - Fridays, noon to 1 pm, at Israeli Consulate, corner of Peel and Rene Levesque. For info: Palestinians And Jews United, 961-3928.

People's Voice deadlines:
NOVEMBER 16-30 issue:
Thursday, November 1
DECEMBER 1-31 issue:
Thursday, November 8
Send submissions to PV Editorial Office, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, V5L 3J1,

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