June 16-30, 2008
Volume 16 - Number 12

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

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) CLARTÉ (en français)
) THE SPARK! (Theoretical and Discussion Bulletin of the Communist Party of Canada)

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.

Available for $10 plus $2 postage from People's Voice, 133 Herkimer St., Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.

The Spark!

Theoretical and Discussion Bulletin of the Communist Party of Canada

People's Voice deadlines:
JULY 1-31
Thursday, June 19
Thursday, July 24
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706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, V5L 3J1,

People's Voice finds many "Global Class Struggle" reports at the "Labour Start" website, http://www.labourstart.org. We urge our readers to check it out!

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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

The 25th Convention of the Canadian Labour Congress took place in Toronto from May 26 to 30, with 1800 delegates representing 54 affiliates. Although the Congress has 55 affiliates, 400 NUPGE delegates could not be seated due to the withholding of a $20,000 dues from Manitoba, because of the CLC's inability to discipline/prevent a raid by another affiliate, the Teamsters, on a casino. The issue of raiding was to resurface a few times.

     This Convention followed the 2005 attempt by Carol Wall to oust Ken Georgetti from his presidential roost. Despite resistance from virtually all leaders of large affiliates, being shut out of presenting to major caucuses and no candidate debate, Carol Wall garnered 38% of votes last time. This was an accurate measure of rank and file unrest and support for her program of democratic reforms and re-establishment of organic ties to the social justice movement. It should have been heeded. It wasn't.

     The lack of response to the ripples of unrest actually set the tone for this convention. In his opening speech, Ken Georgetti stated, "In our last Convention unions challenged the CLC to do it more and to do it better than ever before. And I'm proud to say we have delivered."

     The "it" is undefined, so one could assume from this statement that delegates just wanted more of the same, only more. This certainly was not the case with 38%, and questioned by even more. Unfortunately, at this Convention they got more of the same old same old. More and lengthier musical and cultural presentations, more guest appearances, more of everything but business and debate. Less time for resolutions, less time for debate and certainly less accommodation to rank and file participation. This was brought up at all the left caucuses, the youth caucus, the Action Caucus and the Socialist Forum.

     The caucuses and the forums were actually the highlight of the Convention, developing more every day as the vehicles of democratic expression and debate. There were many expressions of disappointment, especially from the 200 or so first time delegates, most of whom were young.

     This was the most managed CLC Convention ever. Staff reps from most unions shadowed the con mikes to intercept dissent and remind delegates that union policy and union caucuses must be obeyed, leaving many delegates feeling like rubber stamps or rubber mats. This channelling of delegate expression expresses more than anything the insecurity of some trade union leaders who are very uncomfortable with open debate and democratic expression.

     A large, well designed program/poster was distributed by a group of Ontario unions on the floor, calling themselves "Action for a Change". This was not signed, and the unions involved - CUPE, Steel, SEIU and others - were not identified on the poster. But they advanced a loose program that in general wanted more militancy and accountability, a more programmatic approach to fight back on NAFTA, opposition to privatization, prevention of raiding, less collusion with employers, and stronger ties with people's movements.

     "Our ACTION FOR A CHANGE proposals," said the poster, "are all about making the Canadian Labour Congress into something we need it to be again - the strong and clear collective voice of all working people in Canada." Formulated by about ten Ontario union leaders, the broadsheet represents those unions which made a voluntary anti-raiding agreement among themselves and formulated their dissatisfaction.

     They were not passive. Sid Ryan, leader of CUPE Ontario, attended the Action Caucus meeting on behalf of the Action For Change unions. Ryan explained discussions with CLC leadership that led to improvements in the previously bland Document 12, which in a very top-down typical manner recommended a Commission on Structural Review established by the Executive Committee and Executive Council, to review central Labour bodies and their relationships and financing, consult with affiliates and Labour councils, and propose an implementation plan to be presented to the next Convention.

     The Action For Change unions were able to win instructions to include constitutional recommendations on raiding and rogue unions, and more meaningful inclusion of labour councils on the review commission. Several prominent Ontario leaders, including Ryan, made contributions on the pro mikes during the Structural Review debate, but expressed strong opposition to raiding. Meanwhile, labour council officers dominated the con mikes, expressing their dissatisfaction with the Congress and its treatment of labour councils. The paper was passed, but the debate, both pro and con, should be taken as instruction to the CLC leadership for more democracy, more support for labour councils and more leadership on social issues and struggle.

     The Toronto and York Region Labour Council also had a program, "Action Agenda - Building Labour Power in the 21st Century." This action agenda presented eleven resolutions supported by several labour Councils across the country. Most were incorporated into composite resolutions on organizing, a campaign to win "card-check", migrant and temporary workers, equity and municipal politics. The resolutions strengthened the resulting composites and again reflect the ground zero push for democracy and action and accountability from the CLC leadership.

     There were excellent resolutions on Afghanistan, Palestine, Columbia and other international solidarity issues. A very significant resolution on the nationalization of oil resources passed enthusiastically, supported by prominent spokespersons from major affiliates including Jim Sinclair from the BC Federation of Labour. On the last day of the Convention, the Action Caucus, which met and grew every day, made significant additions to the CLC Action Plan on the issues of labour unity, the right to strike, labour democracy, and leadership accountability.

     Dave Pritchett, from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 500, spoke eloquently on the need to remember, along with others, the contributions by members of the Communist Party as founders and fighters for labour. Later he brought the house down with his suggestion to replace "lobby the government..." by "bring down the government...", and to replace "dictatorship of the corporations" with "dictatorship of the working class." The massive enthusiasm for these sentiments not only shows the combative nature of working people, but also demonstrates their uneasiness with a Congress leadership which is not reflecting these sentiments.

     The mood in the caucuses and in the two "Action Programs" are a reflection that the undercurrent of unrest is beginning to be articulated. The Action Caucus contribution points to the potential of a bigger and growing left, the necessary ingredient for change. Well known leaders are giving expression to the need for change, unity and fightback, which bodes well for the unity and support between rank and file and leadership that is so necessary in struggle.

     This may have been a lacklustre Convention in many ways, but the emerging left is beginning to develop in program and numbers.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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

Nothing focuses the minds of civic reform activists like an impending municipal campaign. That was the case for members of Vancouver's Coalition of Progressive Electors, at their annual meeting on June 1.

     At the time of the AGM, Vancouver's civic scene remained in suspense pending the outcome of mayoralty nominations by other parties, particularly the big business Non-Partisan Alliance, and the centrist Vision Vancouver, formed three years ago by a breakaway group of COPE councillors.

     Despite lingering bitterness over that episode, which effectively handed the 2005 election to the NPA, COPE members increasingly see the need for unity to block another NPA victory as the critical priority. A slate of candidates holding that view won a majority on the COPE executive in May 2007, at a hotly contested AGM. This time around, a last-minute agreement between two groups within the COPE leadership yielded a similar result, confirmed later in the meeting by a strong vote in favour of continued unity efforts.

     The new COPE executive table officers include Ellen Woodsworth and Donalda Greenwell-Baker (external and internal co-chairs), recording secretary Jane Bouey, treasurer Terry Martin, membership secretary Nathan Lusignan, corresponding secretary Tim Louis, and fundraiser Connie Hubbs.

     The last year has seen some ups and downs for COPE, and a complex and frustrating struggle to build anti-NPA cooperation.

     Reports from COPE's Park Board members and school trustees showed the positive impact of their consistent work with grassroots community groups. On some issues, such as school closures and outrageous plans for private businesses in city parks, COPE has been able to win small but significant victories. Their efforts have gone a long way towards keeping COPE on the voters' radar, despite a lack of media coverage. A number of high-profile candidates who have announced plans to seek COPE nominations were introduced, including incumbent school trustees Alan Wong and Al Blakey, former trustee Bouey, and parks commissioner Loretta Woodcock.

     On city council, COPE's lone representative, David Cadman, has continued to shine as Vancouver's most consistent and principled fighter for working people and protection of the environment. Vision's four councillors and Cadman have voted together against the NPA on many important issues, but Vision's mixed record and their links with some developers continue to raise doubts about the party's direction, leading many progressives to call for a Cadman mayoralty campaign.

     COPE members universally believe Cadman would be an excellent mayor, but there are also concerns that if he lost that race, the organization might be shut out of city council completely.

     In the end, some three-quarters of COPE members at the AGM voted to refer the crucial decision until a meeting in September, after Vision's June 15 nomination. In the minds of many, if Vision nominates Alan de Genova, an ex-NPA maverick and federal Liberal, this would signal a definitive shift to the centre-right by Vision, leaving the field wide open for a Cadman campaign. But the picture becomes more complicated if Vision picks NDP MLA Gregor Robertson, who is considered more compatible with COPE's social justice policies, or Raymond Louie, one of those who bolted COPE three years ago.

     The minority who wanted an immediate nomination argued that without a candidate for mayor, COPE will be unable to break into the mass media. But most civic activists believe that a divided left and centre will be defeated by the NPA, a scenario seen several times in recent decades here. In effect, deferring the decision was a clear statement from the membership that despite Vision's foot-dragging, efforts to negotiate some kind of joint slate and common platform must continue over the summer. The vote came at the end of a long and tiring afternoon, with perhaps half of the members still present. But if anything, the opponents of further unity negotiations were dismayed by their dwindling support, only able to muster a couple of dozen votes despite intense mobilizing efforts and impassioned appeals at the microphone.

     After early three years back in office, the NPA's record includes massive tax hikes for homeowners, a three-month strike interruption of civic services caused by Mayor Sam Sullivan's stubborn refusal to follow the pattern in Lower Mainland municipal contract bargaining, plans to impose poorly-planned, massive developments in residential east-side neighbourhoods (appallingly copyrighted by Sullivan as "eco-density"), a complete failure to stand up to provincial education underfunding, and much more.

     A week after the COPE meeting, the NPA dumped the unpopular Sullivan, nominating Councillor Peter Ladner for mayor instead. Ladner and Sullivan boast identical voting records, so the NPA remains highly vulnerable despite this cosmetic change. Now the labour movement and other progressive forces are waiting to see which direction Vision will choose: to accept COPE's unity overtures, or to go it alone, which might help Ladner pull off another NPA victory.

     (PV editor Kimball Cariou, a long-time COPE member, spoke at the AGM in favour of unity against the NPA.)

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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.)

Excerpts from a statement by GRAIN, an international NGO which promotes biodiversity and sustainable management of agriculture, distributed in support of the mobilisations of social movements around the Conference on World Food Security, held June 3-5 in Rome.

While there has been widespread reporting of the riots that have broken out around the world as a result of the global food crisis, little attention has been paid to the way forward. The solution is a radical shift in power away from the international financial institutions and global development agencies, so that small-scale farmers, still responsible for most food consumed throughout the world, set agricultural policy. Three interrelated issues need to be tackled: land, markets and farming itself.

     In March 2008, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other international agencies began talking openly about a global food crisis. As with many such crises, they were a little late. Food prices - especially for cereals, but also for dairy and meat - had been rising throughout 2007, markedly out of step with people's incomes. People had coped by changing their eating habits, which included cutting back on meals, and had taken to the streets to demand government action. By early 2008 grain prices were surging and riots had broken out in nearly 40 countries, instilling fear among the world's political elites.

     A few months have now passed since the global food crisis was put on the world agenda. The causes of the problem have been identified and more or less understood. Yet the food crisis is still unfolding. Prices are continuing to climb, a whole class of "new poor" has emerged, governments are scrambling to find or manage grain supplies, and the eruption of another major setback could provoke a really dramatic world crisis.

     Everyone agrees that something needs to be done but there is vast disagreement as to what this implies. The policy priests at the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund, the corporate boards of directors and, indeed, most governments and their teams of advisers want us to continue on the course of industrialising agriculture and liberalising trade and investment, even though this recipe just promises more of the same in the future.

     Social movements and others who have been fighting the injustices of today's capitalist model see things differently. For them, it is now time to break with the past, to mobilise around a new, creative vision that will bring not only short-term remedies, but also the kind of profound change that will actually get us out of this food crisis - and, indeed, the unending series of crises (climate change, environmental destruction, poverty, conflicts over land and water, migration, and so on) that neoliberal globalisation generates.

Radical transformation

Many people are becoming aware that no solution is possible unless we open the doors to a real shift in power. The policymakers, scientists and investors who have led us into the current mess cannot be relied upon to get us out of it... Those in power seem capable of only knee-jerk responses that amount to more of the same: more trade liberalisation, more fertilisers, more GMOs and more debt to make it all possible. The very notion of, say, rewriting the rules of the finance system or clamping down on speculators are taboo topics. Even the food self-sufficiency policies being adopted in some developing countries, in themselves a very good idea, often repeat failed Green Revolution strategies.

     More disturbing, the political and business elites don't want to face the fact that, whether you are a working-class homeowner in the US or a mother queuing for rice in the Philippines, confidence in the market has been shattered. Farmers in Thailand are stupefied. Last year they were getting US$308 per tonne of rice delivered to the mills. Today they're paid US$296, even though the price of rice to the consumers has tripled! The US dollar (still a global currency for food trade) has plunged, while the price of oil (on which industrial food production depends) has gone through the roof. Governments have started taking food out of the market, as they simply don't trust the way food is being valued any more. The government of Malaysia, for instance, has announced that it will bilaterally swap palm oil for rice with any nation willing to make the deal, while several other countries have banned the export of food.

     Against this backdrop of bankrupt ideas and systems, there is no other credible way forward than to rebuild from the bottom up. That means turning the whole thing over: small farmers, still responsible for most food produced, should be the ones setting agricultural policy, rather than the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank or governments. Peasant organisations and their allies have clear, viable ideas about how to organise production and services and how to run markets and even regional and international trade. Ditto for labour unions and the urban poor, who have an important role to play in defining food policy. Many groups, such as the National Farmers' Union in Canada, the Confédération Paysanne in France, ROPPA in West Africa, Monlar in Sri Lanka and the MST in Brazil, have issued strong calls to revamp agricultural policy and markets. International organisations, such as Via Campesina and the International Union of Food Workers, are also ready to play a role.

Urgent action points

Three interrelated issues need to be tackled to get us out of the food crisis: land, markets and farming itself.

     Access to land by peasant farmers is clearly central. With the surge in commodity prices and the new market for agrofuels, land speculation and land grabbing are occurring on a horrific scale. In many parts of the world, governments and corporations are installing plantation agriculture, displacing peasants and local food production in the process. Indeed, the model of export-led agriculture and import dependency at the root of today's crisis is going into overdrive, destroying the very systems of food production that we need to get out of our present dilemma...

     Land has, of course, always been a central demand from social movements, particularly for peasants, fisherfolk, rural workers and indigenous peoples. Agrarian reform tops the list of measures urgently needed to put an end to the growing plague of rural poverty and to empower people to feed themselves and their communities, reversing the explosion of urban slums that is so central to this food crisis. It is high time that the proposals from the peasant organisations are taken seriously and implemented.

     Another major issue in dire need of attention is how to deal with the market. For decades, neo-liberal trade liberalisation and structural adjustment policies have been imposed on poor countries by the World Bank and the IMF. These policy prescriptions were reinforced with the establishment of the WTO in the mid-1990s and, more recently, through a barrage of bilateral free trade and investment agreements. Together with a series of other measures, they have led to the ruthless dismantling of tariffs and other tools that developing countries had created to protect local agricultural production. These countries have been forced to open their markets to global agribusiness and subsidised food exported from rich countries. In that process, fertile lands have been diverted away from serving local food markets to producing global commodities or off-season and high-value crops for western supermarkets, turning many poor countries into net importers of food.

     One of the more obscene aspects of the food crisis is the spectacular profits that the market has allowed big agribusiness and speculators to make from it. Contrary to the impression conveyed by some media, few farmers are seeing any benefits from the price hikes... Corporations, on the other hand, are making record profits at every link in the food chain - from fertilisers and seeds to transport and trading. Earlier this year, GRAIN documented the 2007 profit increases of the major food and fertiliser corporations. In the first quarter of 2008, while many hungry people were further cutting back on the amount of food they eat, the major food and fertiliser companies were reporting even more spectacular profit increases.

     At the same time, massive speculation is occurring. According to a leading commodities broker, the amount of speculative money in commodities futures has risen from US$5 billion in 2000 to US$175 billion in 2007. Half the wheat now traded on the Chicago commodities exchange is controlled by investment funds. At the Agricultural Futures Exchange of Thailand, speculation on rice has, within one year, tripled the average number of contracts traded daily on the exchange, with hedge funds and other speculators now representing up to half of the daily contracts being traded.

     All of this speculative activity from pension funds, hedge funds and the like, plus the shifting of commodity trade from formal exchange markets to direct over-the-counter deals, is sending prices soaring. Such a bubble is inherently unstable and bound to burst, with unpredictable results. With few exceptions, governments and international agencies are hardly talking about this part of the food crisis equation, let alone doing anything effective to deal with it.

     In contrast, trade unions and farmers' organisations have been vigorously calling for proper regulation and controls, particularly since producers and consumers are the groups most affected by it all. Calls by social movements for food sovereignty invariably include urgent proposals for priority to be given to local and regional markets and for measures to be taken to reduce the dominance of international markets and the corporations controlling them....

     Then there is the issue of farming itself. The food crisis has galvanised the voices of the old Green Revolution into calling for more of the same top-down packages of seeds, fertiliser and agrochemicals. Since the main reason why the food crisis is hurting so many people is their inability to pay today's high prices, simply boosting production is not necessarily going to resolve anything, especially if this means driving up the costs of production. The high-yielding varieties of staple foods that the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the FAO and most agricultural ministries are so enthusiastic about require more petroleum-based fertilisers and other chemicals, all of which have undergone huge price increases that effectively put them out of reach of many farmers. In any case, chemical fertilisers are one of the main sources of the greenhouse gases produced by agriculture. Throwing even more of them at already exhausted soils, as many Green Revolutionaries are now advocating, would merely push the world deeper into climate chaos and further destroy the life of the soils.

     Here again, there is a vast array of solid proposals and experiences for moving towards farming methods that are productive, non-petroleum based, and under the control of small farmers. Scientific studies have shown that these methods can be more productive than industrial farming, and that they are more sustainable. If they are properly supported, such local farming systems, based on indigenous knowledge, focused on maintaining healthy, fertile soil, and organised around a broad use of locally available biodiversity, show us ways out of the food crisis. To build on these, one has to stop relying on the experts and start talking instead to local communities. One would need not only to build new strategies and to collaborate with different players, but also to put an end to the criminalisation of diversity so that farmers can freely access, develop and exchange seeds and experiences. It would mean, too, that governments stop promoting agribusiness and export markets, and start protecting and celebrating the skills, knowledge and capacities of their own people.

Time to mobilise

It is clear that those of us outside governments and the corporate sector need to come together as never before to build new solidarities and fronts of action both to address the immediate problems of the food crisis and to build long-term solutions. If we don't work together to facilitate a power shift that puts first the needs of the rural and urban poor, we will definitely get more "business as usual". Reorienting our agricultures and food systems to make them more just, more ecological and truly effective in feeding people is no easy task, but surely we all have a part to play. Rather than wait or look for ready-made solutions, we need to create those better systems now, collectively.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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.)

Address by Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, head of the Cuban delegation to the Conference on World Food Security

Two years ago, in this very hall, the international community agreed to eradicate world hunger. The aim to halve the number of malnourished people by 2015 was set. That modest and inadequate goal is bound to strike us as a pipe-dream today.

     The world food crisis is not a circumstantial phenomenon. Their serious and recent manifestation, in a world that produces enough food for all its inhabitants, clearly reveals the systemic and structural nature of the crisis. Hunger and malnourishment are the result of an international economic order that maintains and deepens poverty, inequality and injustice.

     The Northern countries have an unquestionable share of responsibility for the hunger and malnourishment of 854 million people. They imposed commercial liberalization upon a world with patently unequal actors and advanced financial recipes calling for structural adjustments. They brought ruin to many small producers in the South and turned self-sufficient and even export nations into net importers of food products.

     The governments of developed countries refuse to eliminate their outrageous agricultural subsidies while imposing their rules of international trade on the rest of the world. Their voracious transnational corporations set prices, monopolize technologies, impose unfair certification processes on trade and manipulate distribution channels, sources of financing, trade and supplies for the production of food worldwide. They also control transportation, scientific research, gene banks and the production of fertilizers and pesticides.

     If things continue as they are, the crisis will become even more serious. The production and consumption patterns of developed countries are accelerating the planet's climate change, which threatens humanity's very existence. These patterns must be changed. The irrational attempt to perpetuate these disastrous forms of consumerism is behind the sinister strategy of transforming grains and cereals into fuels...

     Hunger and malnourishment cannot be eradicated through palliatives, nor with symbolic donations which "let us be honest" will not satisfy peoples' needs and will not be sustainable.

     At the very least, agricultural production in South countries must first be rehabilitated and developed. Developed countries have more than enough resources for this. What's required is the political will of their governments.

     If NATO's military budget were reduced by a mere 10% a year, nearly 100 billion dollars would be available for spending elsewhere.

     If the foreign debt of developing countries, a debt they have paid several times over, were cancelled, South countries would have at their disposal the 345 billion dollars they annually devote to service payments.

     If developed countries honoured their commitment to devote 0.7% of the Gross Domestic Product to Official Development Aid, South countries would be able to rely at least on an additional 130 billion dollars a year.

     If only one fourth of the money squandered each year on commercial advertisement were devoted to food production, nearly 250 billion dollars could be destined to fight hunger and malnutrition.

     If the money destined to agricultural subsidies in the North were destined to agricultural development in the South, our countries would have around a billion dollars a day at their disposal, to invest in food production.

     This is the message brought by Cuba, a country ferociously blockaded but standing proud on its principles and the unity of its people: yes, this food crisis can be successfully confronted, but we should target the root of the problem, address its real causes and repudiate demagogy, hypocrisy and false promises.

     Allow me to conclude recalling the words of Fidel Castro, when he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York in October 1979: "The noise of weapons, of the menacing language, of the haughtiness on the international scene must cease. Enough of the illusion that the problems of the world can be solved by nuclear weapons. Bombs may kill the hungry, the sick and the ignorant, but bombs cannot kill hunger, disease and ignorance."

     Thank you very much.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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 David Tymoshchuk, Winnipeg

      Back in 1999, I was talking to a student who spent his summer job aboard the Siggi Oliver, a Manitoba Department of Conservation vessel used to enforce fishing regulations. He told me the algae blooms were so huge he could not see where the surface of the water began on Lake Winnipeg. The boat cut its way through a green carpet, the wake the only water witnessed before it closed up again as the vessel passed. As a Green Teamer, an employee of the government summer student program, one of my duties was to clean algae off of the beaches at Hecla Island Provincial Park.
     It's now 2008.

     Manitoba's Bill 17 has triggered an awful howl from hog producers. Well, it's more like an orchestrated chorus, conducted by groups dominated by industrial hog barn corporations than farm families. After years of mounting evidence that Lake Winnipeg was dying, the NDP government is finally imposing a moratorium on expansion of the hog industry. 

     Investors and agribusiness are putting the pressure on to reverse the decision. The Manitoba Pork Council has spent a huge amount of money on "Unfriendly Manitoba" billboards, websites,  print ads and radio spots. Poster boys for their cause (family farmers, of course) have been put forward.

     They are trying diversion tactics, saying that city and town sewage is just as much at fault, and Bill 17 is "blaming farmers." It's the old city-country power struggle game. Urban sewage requires a separate action and bill.

     They say pork is singled out, why not cattle farmers? Cattle are still raised in the traditional sense: in the open, and manure is not liquified. Intensive beef feedlots are still thankfully few in comparison with the ballooning hog industry.

     They say "Bill 17 is anti-farm". The old saw of the supreme right to private enterprise is used yet again, even though that "right" tramples on the rights of others, destroying lakes and the commercial fishing industry, the aquifer and drinking water.

     The increased number of factory farms have wrecked havoc with the environment after the hog marketing board was abolished. Stories abound of illegal dumping of diseased hog carcasses in ditches, sewage running in rivers, and a lagoon built on a floodplain. These bad apples are beyond bad, they are rotten.

     But barns that do things by the book still add to the problem, just because of the sheer numbers, concentration and industry methods. The cramming of high numbers of hogs under one roof means diseases spread like fire. Antibiotics are added to feed as a precaution and as a growth stimulant. These clockwork-like barns are highly automated. Clocks trip a feeding system and other machinery. Enormous fans change the air frequently, or else the ammonia vapours from the manure/urine will kill the hogs. Huge amounts of freshwater are used to wash and flush manure through the grates the hogs stand on, into pits below, replacing the time honoured but labour-intensive shovelling of solid manure. The times have changed, and factory hog barns which produce industrial volumes of liquid waste must be controlled by Bill 17.

     The centralized mega-barns simply do not have the land base to distribute manure/fertilizer in a safe manner. The bigger the radius from the manure storage site, the more the time and fuel costs to spread it. This economic fact often results in fields close at hand receiving an over-application of the hog manure slurry. Over-application can result in nutrient run-off and even render the field sterile. This run-off is a big reason for the algae blooms.

     With the federal government paying $50 million to cull hogs and reduce the supply sent to market because of over-production (even though starvation is up globally), why are hog producers screaming for the right to produce more? Simple. It's a winner takes all capitalist game, where whales eat the little fish.

     I'm calling this for what it really is: this fight for the right to displace one's neighbours. For small family farms, backing these corporate spin doctors is like cheering on a big city banker who is about to foreclose.

     (David Tymoshchuk, a member of the Communist Party's Manitoba Committee, was one of those displaced small farmers. His family's farm was surrounded at least three such mega-barns within 1.5 kilometres, and the household well was declared unfit for drinking. He moved to Winnipeg.)

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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

     What does 435 million dollars buy in Ontario? It could build over 3000 affordable homes, requiring at least 15,000 appliances, untold building materials and lots of light trucks. Or it could purchase a litany of false promises, deceits, outright lies and subterfuge. What would you choose?

     This is exactly the situation in the most arrogant sneer yet delivered to the working class of this country, who provided $435 million out of hard won wages (confiscated as taxes), given to General Motors by the federal and Ontario corporate providers charading as representatives of the people. The total includes $175 million from the Ontario government as a forgivable loan to GM if certain job guarantees and new product investments are made in its Oshawa operation; $60 million to universities to research what the automotive manufacturers might need in the near future; and $200 million by the federal government to stimulate the industry. This was done as late as 2005, after years of subsidies from the public purse to try and maintain an auto industry after NAFTA and the giveaway of the Auto Pact. Speaking biblically, this form of government "taketh away" from us and "giveth" to the corporations.

     So what is the corporate response to this benevolence? Take the money and run to the low wage anti-union areas of the United States or to Mexico. Run with the loot and abandon the most efficient plants in the Americas, or perhaps the world, because the corporate agenda for Canada does not necessarily include producing here.

     The Canadian Auto Workers made an historic move with the big three negotiations by opening agreements early (September was the expiry date), and pre-empting their negotiating conference, which traditionally allowed massive input into bargaining priorities and strategies. They started talks with Ford and then Chrysler, without the strike weapon, taking concessions to stave off the effects of a massive meltdown of the UAW in the United States.

     There were concessions - loss of holiday time, tiered wages for new hires for three years, and other items - but these were accepted by the membership, except at the Oakville Ford plant where the contract was rejected. Ford is in a hiring position in Oakville (500 this fall), and Chrysler is holding its own, but GM is in serious trouble after staking its future on gas guzzling SUVs (which are not manufactured at the Oshawa plant).

     The new GM contract contained assurances of job maintenance and the introduction of a new hybrid truck that would keep the plant operating until at least 2011.

     Let's go back in recent time. On August 30, 2007, GM says it will cut the third shift at the Oshawa Truck plant and permanently lay off 1200 workers. This in response to Ontario's $275 million injection. On April 28, 2008, GM announces another shift cut with 900 job losses. On June 2, just two weeks after agreeing to maintain CAW jobs into 2011, GM announces a pending plant closure for May 2009. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that this corporate contempt is only fuelled by massive gifts of taxpayers' money.

     The reaction of the CAW, from the plant leadership to President Buzz Hargrove, was shock and anger. The union has properly called it a betrayal and "illegal". The members of Local 222 (Oshawa) reacted by closing down the corporate headquarters on June 3. Chris Buckley, president of Local 222 and on the master negotiating team for GM, has vowed to keep the headquarters closed indefinitely. On June 7, about 300 workers drove their vehicles in a motorcade around the plant, effectively preventing deliveries and causing a two-hour shutdown of production.

     Buckley has expressed the views of his members with observations like "corporate greed" and "highest level of betrayal." The memory of the older CAW, the fighting union, burst out dramatically when he said, "I challenge them to take one part of that plant. That truck will not leave Oshawa. We'll fight them to the bitter end."

     Meanwhile, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the Harper Tories remain noncommittal about the fate of another plant, another 2600 jobs. And why not? They don't represent us, they represent General Motors and the corporate agenda. They always have and they always will. Why cry about 2600 assembly jobs and perhaps around 12,000 spin-off jobs, when 500,000 have been sold already?

     This was completely predictable when NAFTA was signed, when we gave up control of energy, when we gave away the Auto Pact. Don't expect any relief from the boys, both Liberal and Tory, who drew up the blueprints.

     The labour movement in general must do more about this crisis. There was a demo against the loss of manufacturing jobs held in Oshawa June 1, before the GM announcement. It was supported by Steelworkers, CUPW, OPSEU and others, including a couple of Labour Councils, but these were street level contingents. Another rally has been called for June 12. Hopefully the CLC leadership will begin to play a bigger role in mobilizing the labour movement.

     The CAW must not be left to fight this alone. They should be in charge, but every major union in this country should pledge support, including resources, to this campaign. The CAW emerged fighting at ground zero in Oshawa. They deserve unity and solidarity.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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 issued June 9 by the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario), calling on the federal and provincial governments to immediately intervene to block the planned closure of the GM truck plant in Oshawa.

GM has just signed a legally binding agreement with the CAW that prohibits the closure of this plant; an agreement that has the force of law and that the provincial government must enforce. 

     The provincial government is obligated to protect GM workers who in good faith entered into this contract; and all workers and the general public who depend on the provincial government to enforce labour law and to safeguard free collective bargaining in Ontario. 

     Further, GM has just received a $175 million provincial loan, with a 50 year term, dished up from the public coffers for the sole purpose of securing auto jobs in Ontario for the next 50 years.  That money, and previous handouts, were given to secure those jobs for future generations of workers, for whole communities, and to secure the Canadian economy. 

     Those handouts are now Canada's equity in those plants and those jobs. If GM refuses to carry through its part of the deal, the government could and should take over all of GM's Canadian assets, and run the operations as a crown corporation.  

     General Motors has contracted with workers and with the people of Ontario to keep that plant open.  That's what it's legally obliged to do, and that's what the provincial and federal governments should demand and insist that it do. 

     Both levels of government should take immediate action to:

* Enact plant closure legislation with teeth that would make illegal for GM (and other corporations) to close their Canadian operations, and to show cause before public tribunals

* abrogate the Free Trade deals, and implement mutually-beneficial, multi-lateral trade policies, with long-term credits to developing countries

*  require foreign automakers to build their vehicles in Canada in exchange for access to the Canadian market

* Build a Canadian car that's fuel efficient and environmentally sustainable

* nationalize the oil and gas industry and put it under public democratic control; introduce a two-price system - lower for domestic use and higher for exports

* Stop de-industrialization and expand manufacturing and secondary industry in Canada. Develop an industrial strategy to protect and expand Canada's manufacturing sector, the engine of the economy

     Autoworkers are now mobilizing across Ontario to force GM to obey the legally binding collective agreement and to maintain operations in the Oshawa plant for years to come.  Across the country and beyond our borders, workers are watching and hoping for victory.  The best way to secure it is with mass mobilizations and actions in solidarity with Oshawa autoworkers and their union, the CAW. 

     For our part, the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) stands in full support of this militant struggle for jobs and justice and calls on the labour and democratic movements and all those who care for Canadian sovereignty and democracy to give their full and active support to this important struggle.

     A victory for one is a victory for all.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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

The west coast forest industry remains mired in deep crisis, with layoffs totalling over 10,000 during the past six months. Jobs keep getting shipped offshore in the form of raw log exports, and now the timber corporations are pushing to turn forests into suburban sprawl.

     In response, Western Canada's largest forestry union and its largest environmental group are calling for a Forest Land Reserve (FLR) to protect British Columbia forests. The United Steelworkers Union (USW) and the Western Canada Wilderness Committee want the Campbell Liberal government to re-establish the protective zoning designation to prohibit residential building developments on private lands. The province's Agricultural Land Reserve already prohibits residential developments on agricultural lands, although developers have frequently found loopholes to bypass ALR rules.

     The call for a FLR coincides with the government's removal of almost 120,000 hectares of coastal forestlands since 2004 from Tree Farm Licenses 6, 19, 25, and 44, an area ten times larger than the City of Vancouver. The change removes prohibitions against residential building developments, restrictions on raw log exports, protections for ungulate wintering ranges and old-growth management areas, controls on the rate of cut, and forest practices regulations.

     "There are intense pressures right now on Vancouver Island and in many parts of BC to convert tens of thousands of hectares currently in forestry use to residential use. Considering the impacts of forestry deregulation by this government in allowing the loss of thousands of BC forestry jobs, a Forest Land Reserve would help to provide greater security for the jobs of forest workers now and into the future," states Scott Lunny, USW staff representative.

     "The Wilderness Committee would like to see a mandatory Forest Land Reserve," says Ken Wu, campaign director of the Wilderness Committee's Victoria office. Similar to the Agriculture Land Reserve enacted in 1973 or the Forest Land Reserve introduced by the NDP government in the 1990s, Wu says an FLR "would keep huge tracts of forest lands available for forestry use, recreation, conservation, drinking watershed protection, and for First Nations uses."

     The Forest Land Reserve of the 1990s reduced property taxes for private forest landowners if they agreed to keep their lands within the FLR. It was replaced in 2004 by the BC Liberals, who passed the Private Managed Forest Land Act, which allows landowners unprecedented freedom.

     BC's major forest companies agreed in the 1940s and '50s to include their private forest lands within Tree Farm Licenses and to set up sawmills to create jobs for local people in exchange for receiving free logging rights on huge areas of public lands. Tearing up that practice, the Campbell government has allowed forest companies to remove lands from TFLs without compensation to the Crown, in violation of the public interest. The trend has been driven by the downturn in the industry, leading forest companies to sell land holdings in pursuit of higher revenues.

     Western Forest Products and TimberWest Forest are converting some of their "higher and better use" private lands from forests to real estate developments.

     The Vancouver Sun reports that Western, which owns 26,000 hectares, has provisionally sold 2,500 hectares near Jordan River on Vancouver Island to a developer, prompting community protests.

     TimberWest, the province's largest private landowner with 330,000 hectares of forestlands, has put 56,000 hectares in its real estate portfolio, brought a developer on board as a corporate vice-president and is lobbying municipalities for the zoning changes required to convert forests to other land uses. TimberWest wants to develop 16,000 hectares of its lands over the next 10 to 15 years.

     In the Kootenays, bankrupt Pope & Talbot is selling 6,480 hectares of private lands for $50 million, well beyond their forest land value of $20 million. And in the Okanagan, Tolko Industries wants to remove 56 hectares of view property on the west side of Okanagan Lake from a tree farm licence, the first step in converting forest land to real estate.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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 Vancouver Bureau

Delegates from the Okanagan region, Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland met in Vancouver over the May 31-June 1 weekend, for the 37th B.C. provincial convention of the Communist Party of Canada. George Gidora, who has served as the party's British Columbia leader since the mid-1990s, was re-elected as part of a thirteen-member provincial committee.

     Much of the debate at the convention focused on the deteriorating position of working people across British Columbia. Despite the corporate media reports of "economic growth," the emerging capitalist economic crisis is hammering much of the province. Mass layoffs and cutbacks are particularly acute in communities which depend on forestry and fishing. The latest figures include the loss of some 10,000 west coast forestry jobs over the past couple of years, a trend which matches the falling manufacturing and secondary industry employment in Ontario, Quebec and other provinces. Official employment levels have remained fairly high, but most of the "new" jobs come with much lower pay rates, and many are part-time or temporary.

     The boom in resource prices and real estate values has led to even wider wealth gaps in British Columbia. In Vancouver, the most expensive penthouse condos now cost over $20 million, just a few blocks from the Downtown Eastside, where thousands of people are homeless or forced to exist on a few hundred dollars a month in tiny, bug-infested single rooms. Delegates slammed the provincial and federal governments for pouring billions of dollars into showcase extravaganzas like the 2010 Winter Olympics, instead of building low-income housing or improving public education.

     The convention adopted a series of special resolutions, including several condemning the Campbell government's attacks on democracy and its latest moves to undermine universal healthcare. Another resolution supported the campaign by the labour and peace movements to honour Kanuko Laskey, a Hiroshima bombing survivor who played an important role in B.C. campaigns for nuclear disarmament. The delegates also condemned the Harper Tory government's Bill C-50 as a continuation of the racist, anti-immigrant policies which began with the Asian exclusion laws of the 20th century and the shameful Komagata Maru incident of 1914, in which hundreds of Indian immigrants were barred from landing in Vancouver.

     Taking part in the convention were several members of the newest organization of the Communist Party, the Upper Fraser Valley Club, formed in May and based mainly in the local South Asian community. Reports from delegates indicated that 2008 has seen an increase in membership applications, along with a 15% growth in People's Voice subscriptions across the province.

     The main policy resolution adopted by the convention calls for Communist candidates in the May 2009 provincial election, and work will begin soon to consider nominations and finalize a campaign platform.

     Other highlights of the convention included an address by Communist Party of Canada leader Miguel Figueroa, who spoke on the international and domestic political situation, and a report by Nazir Rizvi on the recent congresses of India's two main communist parties, at which he represented the CPC.

     The new B.C. provincial committee will meet on June 29 to elect its executive and to begin making detailed plans for the party's work over the summer and fall.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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.)

Resolution adopted by the 37th BC Convention of the Communist Party of Canada, May 31-June 1, 2008

The B.C. Liberal government's Bill 21, the so-called "Medicare Protection Amendment Act," is a cynical attempt to increase people's fears and misconception of healthcare costs "spiralling out of control". Using sleight-of-hand economics, Premier Campbell and his cronies claim that healthcare now eats up nearly 50% of the provincial budget. They neglect to mention that government revenue has been reduced by handing out tax cuts that have mainly benefited the wealthy, and that their cut, slash and burn approach has reduced other slices of the budget pie such as welfare. For example, social assistance spending was only $1.3 billion in 2004, just a little bit higher than in 1984 under Bill Bennett when they first crossed the $1 billion line, even though the Consolidated Revenue Fund is now more than five times larger than in the early eighties. No wonder healthcare spending suddenly appears huge by comparison.

     Bill 21 uses weasel words such as "individual choice" and "personal responsibility". Nobody "individually chooses" to become ill or get into an accident. We pay taxes because we understand that there is a collective social responsibility to ensure that all residents of this country and province, whatever their financial situation, have a right to basic social services. Health care is one of these. The Canada Health Act enshrines the five principles of Public Administration, Comprehensiveness, Universality, Portability and Accessibility.

     Sustainability, on the other hand, is an invention of a government that wants to open the floodgates to even more privatization in health care. Interestingly, pharmacies are private in BC. The cost of prescription drugs for every British Columbian more than doubled between 1996 and 2003. That puts the lie to government claims that privatization can defray health care costs for the public.

     Campbell and his cronies claim there is no public solution to overcrowded ERs and long waits for some surgeries and diagnostic procedures. Yet public clinics in other parts of Canada have accomplished precisely that. Furthermore, there wouldn't be such overcrowding in our acute care hospitals if Campbell hadn't reneged on his 2001 election promise of 5,000 new long term care beds. Assisted living doesn't cut it for seniors and others in need of skilled care. And every time a new long term care facility opens under great fanfare, another one quietly closes down, its residents moving into the new building with very few net gains on beds.

     This BC Provincial Convention of the Communist Party of Canada calls on the BC Government to repeal Bill 21 immediately. This convention also urges all members and clubs of the Communist Party in BC to work together with other individuals and organizations within your communities to protest and fightback against this regressive legislation.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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

As we go to press, the Conservative federal government is preparing to issue a long-overdue apology to Aboriginal peoples for the Canadian state's policy of placing generations of children in residential schools. In another development, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is about to begin its work.

     However, it remains doubtful whether these steps will truly address the scope of this country's horrendous genocidal history. Just as crucial, such symbolic gestures come at a time when the Canadian colonial state remains determined to crush Aboriginal resistance against the corporate invasion of traditional territories, both unceded lands and areas covered by broken treaties.

     Welcome as any apology may be, it would be more significant to see a determined effort to uncover the extent of deaths in residential schools, and to punish those guilty of criminal acts. Nor is the situation greatly improved today, when more Aboriginal youth are removed from their families than during the residential schools era. Housing conditions and poverty rates for First Nations, Métis and Innu families are abysmal right across Canada.

     As for Truth and Reconciliation, how can this goal truly be achieved when the Canadian state refuses to respect the full inherent rights of Aboriginal peoples, including their right to protect traditional territories?

     Truth and reconciliation are noble aims. But to have any practical effect, they must be accompanied by justice. So far, there is no sign that the federal and provincial governments are prepared to move from words to deeds.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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

In the tradition of "speaking truth to power", Argentina, Venezuela, and Cuba warn that the final declaration of the World Food Summit fails to identify the true causes of the global hunger crisis, sparked by a 60% rise in food prices paid in importing countries since early 2007.

     The declaration pledges to boost spending on agriculture in developing countries and to halve the number of malnourished people, now nearly 900 million, by 2015. Such noble aims have often been mouthed by the imperialist powers, only to be undermined by policies which benefit the transnational corporations rather than the countries of the South.

     The Summit failed to call for reduced subsidies in the US and other developed capitalist nations. "Appropriate cures can't result from mistaken diagnosis," Argentina's government stated. "Argentina is formally registering its dissatisfaction with a text that, while dealing with the question of food security, doesn't include a single reference that uses the term `agricultural subsidies'."

     Orlando Requeijo, Cuba's vice-minister for foreign investment and economic collaboration, condemned the "lack of political will from northern countries to promote a just and lasting solution to the world food crisis." Cuba urges reduced global military spending and cancellation of Third World debts to tackle the crisis.

     Venezuela calls the food crisis "the biggest demonstration of the historical failure of the capitalist model." Venezuela's ambassador to the FAO, Gladys Urba
ñeja Duran, stresses that "the main reason for the rise in food prices isn't growing demand from the Indian and Chinese markets, or the rise in petroleum prices. The main reason is that food has been turned into yet another object of market speculation."

     The answer to global hunger is not more capitalism or more "free trade" pacts that flood local markets with U.S. produce. The solution lies in strengthening local economies and in policies that put people's interests ahead of agribusiness profits.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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 following resolution was adopted by delegates at the 25th Canadian Labour Congress Convention, held May 26-30 in Toronto:

     The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will demand of all political parties in our Parliament to take steps immediately to end the military occupation in Afghanistan and to implement the disengagement of Canadian forces and to bring home our Canadian soldiers from the illegal war in Afghanistan.

     The CLC will assist affiliates to educate and mobilize their membership to oppose the Canadian military intervention in Afghanistan.

     The CLC will continue to work with partners in the Canadian Peace Alliance to educate Canadians about the war.

     The CLC will build solidarity with Afghani workers, social justice and women's organizations.

     Because Canadians have a proud history of committing our Armed Forces to the role of peacekeepers dating back to the end of World War 2.

     Because there are no clear objectives, accomplishments or benefits for Canadians in this war in which dozens of young Canadians and hundreds of innocent Afghan citizens are being killed.

     Because our young soldiers are dying in a war in Afghanistan in the role of invading army with no mandate from Canadian citizens.

     Because the Harper government's military intervention in Afghanistan is not contributing to establishing peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

     Because the Canadian government's military campaign is based on supporting American political, economic and military interests rather than on contributing to establishing peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

     Because the Canadian government's military campaign is based on supporting American political, economic and military interests rather than on contributing to peace in the region.

     Because the actions of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization occupation is increasing the violence in Afghanistan.

     Because the massive amounts of money spent on the military in Afghanistan would best be used for funding health care, education, job creation and social services.

     Because the labour movement has always been at the center of any struggle for peace and justice.

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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 Alfonso Alvarez, translated from the original Spanish by Ardis Harriman

June 26, 2008 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Salvador Allende. It is the moment to take a look at his place in history, at how upon his death he left us with a rich legacy, an unfinished work, a study for the present day with a vision of the future. His anti-imperialist, pro-Latin American, internationalist stance, and his idea of socialism are the basic foundations of this legacy. It is the legacy of a nation, a legacy of democracy and unity. His mark on the history of Chile and the world can never be erased.

     As a young man, Allende became part of Chile's social struggles by participating as a student leader in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Chile. He was also a teacher at the Chilean Student Federation's night school for workers. 

     From 1927-31, he took part in the protests that ended with the ousting of the dictatorship of Carlos Iba
ñez del Campo. In 1932, Chile was briefly declared a socialist republic, but this was followed by a period of persecution and Allende spent time in jail. He received his medical degree in 1933, linking his profession with his social concerns. It was the same year that the Socialist Party was founded. He was a lifelong member and became its General Secretary in 1943.

     The decades of 1930s and 40s shaped Allende's political identity and style, and he threw himself into the reality of Chile's medical and social systems, its economic and cultural issues. He travelled extensively throughout the country, empathized with the experiences of miners, peasants, southern ranchers, the problems of the petty bourgeois. He understood the concerns of the emerging working class in central Chile, and he connected with people in the big cities.

     He took part in the creation of the Popular Front in 1936 and was elected Deputy for Valparaiso and Aconcagua. He was appointed Minister of Health, Welfare and Social Insurance by President Pedro Aguirre Cerda and was the youngest person in his cabinet. In 1945 he was elected Senator for the Southern provinces. Along with his Party responsibilities, he brought a wide variety of experiences to the Chilean political left and socialist thinking. He once remarked, "This is how we must struggle for economic understanding with the people of America: a clear continental policy is indispensable."

     Nationally, he distinguished himself in agrarian reform by pushing for a Ministry of Economy and helping form Chile's Development Corporation. At the end of the 1940s, he was faced with the division of the Socialist Party and a protracted battle against the anti-democratic law of the government of President Gonzalez Videla. He participated in the creation of the People's Front and was its candidate for President in 1952. The following year, he was elected Senator for Tarapaca and Antofagasta.

     He visited France, Italy, China, the former Soviet Union, and was elected Vice President of the Senate. When the Socialist Party was reunited, it joined the Communist Party in the formation of the Popular Action Front (FRAP). For the second time in 1958, he was a presidential candidate and was only narrowly defeated by the Conservative Jorge Alessandri. He attended the investiture of President Betancourt of Venezuela, visited Havana and met with leaders of the Cuban revolution. In 1963, he ran for the presidency for the third time, only to be defeated by Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei.

     By now he had become an established leader of the left, and was elected President of the Senate. He again visited Europe, as well as Latin America, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. After the death of Che Guevara in Bolivia, he accepted Che's comrades into Chilean territory and helped them to travel safely to Tahiti. In 1969 the Popular Unity was formed, and Allende once again was a candidate for the presidency. This time he was successful, and defeated Jorge Alessandri. He became President of Chile on November 3, 1970.

     The successes of the Allende government are numerous: a milk program for school children, an increase in wages, the nationalization of copper, the deepening of agrarian reform, the creation of social programs. The law for the nationalization of copper went into effect on July 11, 1971, a day also known as the Day of Dignity. The following year, he spoke in the General Assembly of the United Nations. He maintained good relations with both socialist and capitalist countries.

     However, the popular nature of his government created a climate of unrest in the reactionary circles of the United States headed by the Kissinger-Nixon duo, and he was overthrown in a bloody coup by the Chilean Armed Forces under General Augusto Pinochet. President Allende died fighting in La Moneda Presidential Palace on September 11, 1973.

     His name and his memory have grown in stature with time. He is known and respected worldwide. Streets, museums, and schools carry his name both in Chile and throughout the world. It is the name of a statesman who for more than half a century brought prestige to Chilean politics. He was an outstanding example of a person of principle, a socialist and a democrat.

     Compañero Presidente Salvador Allende: Presente!

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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.)

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine said he was "encouraged and energized" by the thousands of Canadians who marched and rallied at the May 29 National Day of Action events across the country, and by the fact that organizations representing millions of people endorsed the AFN's "7-Point Plan for change."
     "Today was a tremendous show of support for a better future for First Nations children and a better life for First Nations people," Fontaine said. "But this day will only truly be a success when the government and the Prime Minister listen to this call for action from millions of Canadians and agrees to work with us on a real plan for real change and real progress."

     Issued in late May, the AFN's 7-Point Plan has been endorsed by the Canadian Labour Congress with 3.2 million members, the KAIROS ecumenical network which includes the mainstream Christian denominations, the Sierra Club of Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and many others.

     The largest May 29 events included rallies by over 1,500 in Ottawa. Participants included First Nations Elders and youth, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the President of the National Association of Friendship Centres, Ray Zahab of the OneXOne Foundation, student organizations, labour unions and a delegation of children from Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, who have been calling on the government to build a school in their community, where students have to work out of makeshift portables in spite of being promised a school for many years.

     At a similar event in Toronto, marchers were joined by delegates from the Canadian Labour Congress convention. Over 500 rallied in Winnipeg, and about 300 in Vancouver. In total, over twenty Day of Action events were held across the country, many more than in 2007.

    "Now is the time for action," the National Chief stated. "We can continue to prop up a broken system that only perpetuates poverty and pessimism, or we can seize the moment to invest in a new approach and a new optimism that moves us forward into a future of hope, harmony and happiness for all Canadians."

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(The following article is from the June 16-30, 2008, 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 Canada Palestine Association has expressed "profound dismay" at a recent statement issued by the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Association (CPPA), composed of MPs who have expressed support for Palestinian rights. Marking the 60 years of Israel's statehood, the CPPA statement calls on the Canadian government and Parliamentarians to play a positive role in resolving the "60 years old Israeli/Palestinian conflict."

     "This statement totally ignored the Palestinian point of view, and it ignored the historic characterization of what happened in 1948, the Nakba," says the Canada Palestine Association. "In Palestine in 1948 a European settler colonialist movement, supported by imperial powers including Canada, uprooted two thirds of the Palestinian people from over one thousand cities, towns and villages and destroyed over four hundred and fifty towns and villages, wiping them off the face of the earth. In short these Zionist supremacist paramilitary forces ethnically cleansed Palestine from its people, and attempted to destroy a whole nation, their homes, their identity."

     Calling this a "conflict", says the Association, "ignore(s) the Palestinian narrative and conveniently forget(s) that in Canada, from coast to coast, and all over the world, millions of Palestinians and their genuine supporters commemorated the Nakba (catastrophe). In the entire CPPA statement the Nakba was not mentioned at all, as if our parliamentarians were implementing the Israeli wish that no one... should be allowed to use the word Nakba.

     "The CPPA statement also totally ignores the Palestinian Right of Return and UN resolution 194; it equates the occupier with the occupied, it equates the oppressor with the oppressed and finally it equates a dispossessed people with the fourth strongest military power on earth which possesses from 200-400 nuclear weapons.

     "Furthermore, the stated principles of the CPPA have shifted dramatically, even from their own pubic statement of Feb. 6, 2008 (which was already showing a change in priorities). No longer are they interested in a `viable and sovereign Palestinian state' or promoting `the best interests of the Palestinian people'...

     "In their Feb. 6 statement CPPA expressed their deep concern about the humanitarian `crisis' in Gaza and called on the Israeli Government to `ease' these severe conditions. In the same statement they condemned `rocket attacks on Israeli villages by Hamas where Israeli civilians are subjected to serious threats' but voiced no condemnation of any Israeli military activity including extra-judicial assassinations, the murder of Palestinian civilians and children by Israeli bombardment and the razing of agricultural land and livelihood.

     "When the CPPA was formed in April 2007, there was hope that after 60 years, there would finally be a courageous voice in the Canadian parliament that would speak out for the inalienable national and human rights of the Palestinians. Sadly, the CPPA has failed us and all peace-loving Canadians. Rebranding has been successful; their name Canada Palestine Parliamentary Association is an affront to all those who have sacrificed in so many ways to bring genuine peace with justice to the Middle East and who dream of a dignified and independent future for the Palestinian people."

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(The following articles are from the June 16-30, 2008, 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.)


Miners’ Memorial Day, social
evening - Friday, June 27 at Cumberland United Church, followed by June 28 pancake breakfast, Ginger Goodwin graveside ceremony, pub crawl, dinner and other events. For info contact Cumberland Historical Society, 250-336-2445.


People’s Voice Walk-A-Thon - Sunday, July 20, meet at Bear Creek Park picnic area, near parking lot by 140 St. & 88 Avenue. Walk around the park at 11 am, international potluck lunch at 12 noon, speakers & entertainment 1 pm. For info, call Harjit, 604-543-7179.


Women’s Housing March against Poverty - 2 pm, Sat., June 14, organized by Power of Women Group, starts at Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.

Shock Doctrine: Rise of Global Capitalism, panel with Naomi Klein and local activists -   Thursday, June 19, 6 pm, Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph St.

Salvador Allende Tribute, marking centenary of his birth - 7:30 pm, Sat., June 21, Centre for Socialist Education, 706 Clark Drive, for details contact Gladys Marin Club CPC, 254-9826.

Left Film Night -, returns July 27 to the Centre for Socialist Education, 706 Clark Drive, call  604-255-2041 for details.


Annual Peace Walk - Saturday, June 14, starts 12 Noon at the provincial Legislature. For further information, contact Peace Alliance Winnipeg, tel. 479-7026

Winnipeg Citizens’ Coalition founding meeting - Mon., June 16. Register 6:30 pm, starts 7 pm at Millennium Library, Carol Shields Auditorium, 251 Donald. Guest speaker Shellie Bird from “People for a Better Ottawa Municipal Coalition.” Info: http://www.winnipegcitizenscoalition.com

Fundraiser for Pastors for Peace 19th Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba - Tue., June 17, 7 pm at St. Mary’s Road United Church, 613 St. Mary’s Road. Free admission! Info Manitoba-Cuba Solidarity Committee 783-9380.

Young Communist League-UW campus club  meets 1st & 4th Wednesday each month, 5:30 pm, U of W buffeteria (4th floor top of escalators). E-mail us at ycl_manitoba@ycl-ljc.ca


Political discussion & beer, all welcome to join Saskatoon CPC members, 5:30 pm, Monday,  June 16, and the third Monday of every month, in the tv room at Amigo’s, 632-10th St. East.


Edmonton Young Communist League - meets regularly at Remedy Cafe, 8631-109 St., 5 pm on the second Friday each month. Discussion topics and suggested readings on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=3559215104.


Pastors for Peace 19th Friendshipment, Cuba Caravan fundraiser - 7:15 pm, Wed., June 18, Cuban dinner ($20 suggested donation), cash bar, speakers from IFCO and Cuban Consulate,  entertainment by La Bomba, Benni and Faith Nolan, at Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St. Sponsored by Don Heights Unitarians, endorsed by Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto, call 416-293-7788 for info.

CPC Ontario Convention Social - Sat., June 21, 6 pm, 290A Danforth Ave (2 blocks west of Chester TTC). Live jazz with Wally Brooker and Jason Argoulis, Liz Rowley on the corporate attack and the fightback, refreshments, supper, call 416-469-2446.

Free the Cuban Five - rally Sat., June 21, 1:00 pm, 360 University Ave. (U.S. Consulate), organized by Toronto Forum on Cuba.

CCFA Toronto Island Cruise - Sunday, July 27, Noon-4 pm, lunch included, live band, to reserve tickets ($35) call CCFA Toronto 416-410-8254 or Sharon 905-951-8499.

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$50,000 FUND DRIVE
Alberta Still in the Lead

(The following articles are from the June 16-30, 2008, 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.)

Supporters of People’s Voice celebrated on June 7 at our 16th Annual Victory Banquet in Vancouver, raising almost $600 more towards the B.C. target in our Fund Drive. Thanks to all who helped, particularly the volunteer cooks from the Sergio Montivero Club CPC!

Since our most recent report, Alberta has kept its lead, with $1910 turned in, or 95% of their provincial goal. Ontario is nearing the 75% mark, with $14,900 raised so far. British Columbia is past the twothirds point, with $13,605, or 68% of their $20,000 target. The Maritimes and Newfoundland are Alberta still in the lead at 55% ($665 raised), and Manitoba has turned in $575 to date. Another $260 has arrived from friends and supporters outside Canada. In total, we have raised $32,115, or 64% of the $50,000 target. It’s time to go through our subscriber lists and call supporters who haven’t yet made a contribution!

We also have several more fundraisers coming up, including the People’s Voice Walk-A-Thon,  which brings in several thousand dollars for the B.C. drive every year. It’s set for Sunday, July 20, at Surrey’s Bear Creek Park, in the picnic area near 140 St. and 88 Ave. The Walk sets off at 11 am, followed by a fantastic international lunch at noon, and a cultural/political program at 1 pm. For details, call Harjit at 604-543-7179, or Krishna at 604-940-0420.

People’s Voice business manager Sam Hammond and other volunteers were busy recently at  the Canadian Labour Congress 25th Convention in Toronto - distributing papers, selling subscriptions and books, and watching the debates. See Sam’s commentary on Page 5 of this issue.

Remember that this year’s “PV Shopping Bag” includes the following:
  •  “The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism,” a 112-page booklet by David Lester, full of astounding facts and figures about the exploitative system which threatens our planet;
  •  a 12-month complimentary PV sub (keep it or give it to a friend);
  •  People’s Voice 2008 Calendar;
  •  People’s Voice “Karl Marx” Tshirt (tell us what size);
  •  a surprise music CD - pick classical, oldies, or folk.
For a $100 donation, you get your choice of one of these items. For each additional $100, choose another item from our Shopping Bag. For a donation of $1000 or more, take the entire Shopping Bag, and receive a lifetime subscription for yourself or a friend.

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